Top 25 Censored Stories
#1 Bush Administration
Moves to Eliminate Open Government
Coverage Fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death
#3 Another Year of
Distorted Election Coverage
#4 Surveillance Society
Quietly Moves In
#5 U.S. Uses Tsunami
to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia
#6 The Real Oil for
#7 Journalists Face
Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood
#8 Iraqi Farmers Threatened
By Bremer’s Mandates
#9 Iran’s New
Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency
#12 Military in Iraq
Contracts Human Rights Violators
#13 Rich Countries
Fail to Live up to Global Pledges
#14 Corporations Win
Big on Tort Reform, Justice Suffers
#15 Conservative Plan
to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom
#16 U.S. Plans for
Hemispheric Integration Include Canada
#17 U.S. Uses South
American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region
#18 Little Known Stock
Fraud Could Weaken U.S. Economy
#19 Child Wards of
the State Used in AIDS Experiments
#20 American Indians
Sue for Resources; Compensation Provided to Others
#21 New Immigration
Plan Favors Business Over People
Offers Exciting Possibilities But Health Effects Need Scrutiny
#23 Plight of Palestinian
Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem
#24 Ethiopian Indigenous
Victims of Corporate and Government Resource Aspirations
#25 Homeland Security
Was Designed to Fail
The Top Censored Stories of 2004 to
#1 Bush Administration
Moves to Eliminate Open Government
Common Dreams, September
14, 2004. Press release.
Title: “New Report
Details Bush Administration Secrecy”
Author: Karen Lightfoot
Yvonne Clarke, MA
Throughout the 1980s,
Project Censored highlighted a number of alarming reductions to
government access and accountability (see Censored 1982 #6, 1984
#8, 1985 #3 and 1986 #2). It tracked the small but systematic changes
made to existing laws and the executive orders introduced. It now
appears that these actions may have been little more than a prelude
to the virtual lock box against access that is being constructed
around the current administration.
Bush Administration has an obsession with secrecy,” says Representative
Henry Waxman, the Democrat from California who, in September 2004,
commissioned a congressional report on secrecy in the Bush Administration.
“It has repeatedly rewritten laws and changed practices to
reduce public and congressional scrutiny of its activities. The
cumulative effect is an unprecedented assault on the laws that make
our government open and accountable.”
Changes to Laws that Provide Public
to Federal Records
The Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) gives citizens the ability to file a request for specific
information from a government agency and provides recourse in federal
court if that agency fails to comply with FOIA requirements. Over
the last two decades, beginning with Reagan, this law has become
increasingly diluted and circumvented by each succeeding administration.
the Bush Administration, agencies make extensive and arbitrary use
of FOIA exemptions (such as those for classified information, privileged
attorney-client documents and certain information compiled for law
enforcement purposes) often inappropriately or with inadequate justification.
Recent evidence shows agencies making frivolous (and sometimes ludicrous)
exemption claims, abusing the deliberative process privilege, abusing
the law enforcement exemption, and withholding data on telephone
commonly, the Bush Administration simply fails to respond to FOIA
requests at all. Whether this is simply an inordinate delay or an
unstated final refusal to respond to the request, the requesting
party is never told. But the effect is the same: the public is denied
access to the information.
Bush Administration also engages in an aggressive policy of questioning,
challenging and denying FOIA requesters’ eligibility for fee
waivers, using a variety of tactics. Measures include narrowing
the definition of “representative of news media,” claiming
information would not contribute to public understanding.
years ago, federal agencies were required to release documents through
FOIA––even if technical grounds for refusal existed––unless
“foreseeable harm” would result from doing so. But,
according to the Waxman report, an October 2001 memo by Attorney
General John Ashcroft instructs and encourages agencies to withhold
information if there are any technical grounds for withholding it
2003, the Bush Administration won a new legislative exemption from
FOIA for all National Security Agency “operational files.”
The Administration’s main rationale for this new exemption
is that conducting FOIA searches diverts resources from the agency’s
mission. Of course, this rationale could apply to every agency.
As NSA has operated subject to FOIA for decades, it is not clear
why the agency now needs this exemption.
Presidential Records Act ensures that after a president leaves office,
the public will have full access to White House documents used to
develop public policy. Under the law and an executive order by Ronald
Reagan, the presumption has been that most documents would be released.
However, President Bush issued an executive order that establishes
a process that generally blocks the release of presidential papers.
Changes to Laws that Restrict Public
to Federal Records
The Bush Administration
has dramatically increased the volume of government information
concealed from public view. In a March 2003 executive order, President
Bush expanded the use of the national security classification. The
order eliminated the presumption of disclosure, postponed or avoided
automatic declassification, protected foreign government information,
reclassified some information, weakened the panel that decides to
exempt documents from declassification and adjudicates classification
challenges, and exempted vice presidential records from mandatory
Bush Administration has also obtained unprecedented authority to
conduct government operations in secret, with little or no judicial
oversight. Under expanded law enforcement authority in the Patriot
Act, the Justice Department can more easily use secret orders to
obtain library and other private records, obtain “sneak-and-peek”
warrants to conduct secret searches, and conduct secret wiretaps.
In addition, the Bush Administration has used novel legal interpretations
to expand its authority to detain, try, and deport individuals in
secret. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Bush Administration
has asserted unprecedented authority to detain anyone whom the executive
branch labels an “enemy combatant” indefinitely and
secretly. It has authorized military trials that can be closed not
only to the public but also to the defendants and their own attorneys.
And the Administration has authorized procedures for the secret
detention and deportation of aliens residing in the United States.
Congressional Access to Information
Compared to previous
administrations, the Bush Administration has operated with remarkably
little congressional oversight. This is partially attributable to
the alignment of the parties. The Republican majorities in the House
and the Senate have refrained from investigating allegations of
misconduct by the White House. Another major factor has been the
Administration’s resistance to oversight. The Bush Administration
has consistently refused to provide to members of Congress, the
Government Accountability Office, and congressional commissions
the information necessary for meaningful investigation and review
of the Administration’s activities.
example, the Administration has contested in court the power of
the Government Accountability Office to conduct independent investigations
and has refused to comply with the rule that allows members of the
House Government Reform Committee to obtain information from the
executive branch, forcing the members to go to court to enforce
their rights under the law. It has also ignored and rebuffed numerous
requests for information made by members of Congress attempting
to exercise their oversight responsibilities with respect to executive
branch activities, and repeatedly withheld information from the
investigative commission established by Congress to investigate
the September 11 attacks.
Update Rep. Waxman’s companion
bill, HR 5073 IH, the Restore Open Government Act of 2004, was not
heard by Congress before the Winter Recess in December, and the
bill was not reintroduced in the Opening Session in January 2005.
However, on February 16, after the commencement of the 109th Congress,
John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a bill
entitled the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government
Act of 2005, S. 394 (the Cornyn-Leahy bill), which according to
their joint statement “is designed to strengthen laws governing
access to government information, particularly the Freedom of Information
Act.” On the same day, an identical bill, H.R. 867, was introduced
in the House of Representatives by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.).1
more information on Rep. Waxman’s legislation and work on
open government, site, please visit www.democrats.reform.house.gov.
Petersburg Times (Florida), February 18, 2005, “Improving
access to information.”
#2 Media Coverage
Fails on Iraq:
Fallujah and the Civilian Deathtoll
part 1: Fallujah—War Crimes Go
Title: “The Invasion
of Fallujah: A Study in the Subversion of Truth”
Authors: Mary Trotochaud
and Rick McDowell
World Socialist Web
Site, November 17, 2004
Media Applauds Destruction of Fallujah”
Author: David Walsh
The NewStandard, December
Refugees Tell of Life and Death in the Kill Zone”
Author: Dahr Jamail
Bill Crowley, Ph. D., Sherril Jaffe, Ph. D.
Brian K. Lanphear
Over the past two years,
the United States has conducted two major sieges against Fallujah,
a city in Iraq. The first attempted siege of Fallujah (a city of
300,000 people) resulted in a defeat for Coalition forces. As a
result, the United States gave the citizens of Fallujah two choices
prior to the second siege: leave the city or risk dying as enemy
insurgents. Faced with this ultimatum, approximately 250,000 citizens,
or 83 percent of the population of Fallujah, fled the city. The
people had nowhere to flee and ended up as refugees. Many families
were forced to survive in fields, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings
without access to shelter, water, electricity, food or medical care.
The 50,000 citizens who either chose to remain in the city or who
were unable to leave were trapped by Coalition forces and were cut
off from food, water and medical supplies. The United States military
claimed that there were a few thousand enemy insurgents remaining
among those who stayed in the city and conducted the invasion as
if all the people remaining were enemy combatants.
Fasa’a, an Iraqi journalist, said Americans grew easily frustrated
with Iraqis who could not speak English. “Americans did not
have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people
because they didn’t speak English. They entered the house
where I was with 26 people, and shot people because [the people]
didn’t obey [the soldiers’] orders, even just because
the people couldn’t understand a word of English.” Abu
Hammad, a resident of Fallujah, told the Inter Press Service that
he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the
siege. “The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore.
Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes
over their head to show they are not fighters, they were all shot.”
Furthermore, “even the wound[ed] people were killed. The Americans
made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted
to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white
flags were killed.” Former residents of Fallujah recall other
tragic methods of killing the wounded. “I watched them [U.S.
Forces] roll over wounded people in the street with tanks…
…This happened so many times.”
estimates as of December of 2004 revealed that at least 6,000 Iraqi
citizens in Fallujah had been killed, and one-third of the city
had been destroyed.
Mary Trotochaud and Rick McDowell assert that the continuous slaughter
in Fallujah is greatly contributing to escalating violence in other
regions of the country such as Mosul, Baquba, Hilla, and Baghdad.
The violence prompted by the U.S. invasion has resulted in the assassinations
of at least 338 Iraqi’s who were associated with Iraq’s
U.S. invasion of Iraq, and more specifically Fallujah, is causing
an incredible humanitarian disaster among those who have no specific
involvement with the war. The International Committee for the Red
Cross reported on December 23, 2004 that three of the city’s
water purification plants had been destroyed and the fourth badly
damaged. Civilians are running short on food and are unable to receive
help from those who are willing to make a positive difference. Aid
organizations have been repeatedly denied access to the city, hospitals,
and refugee populations in the surrounding areas.
Hamid Salim, spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad, told
Inter Press Service that none of their relief teams had been allowed
into Fallujah three weeks after the invasion. Salim declared that
“there is still heavy fighting in Fallujah. And the Americans
won’t let us in so we can help people.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour voiced a deep
concern for the civilians caught up in the fighting. Louise Arbour
emphasized that all those guilty of violations of international
humanitarian and human rights laws must be brought to justice. Arbour
claimed that all violations of these laws should be investigated,
including “the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate
and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons and
the use of human shields.”
Cohn, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and
the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American
Association of Jurists, has noted that the U.S. invasion of Fallujah
is a violation of international law that the U.S. had specifically
ratified: “They [U.S. Forces] stormed and occupied the Fallujah
General Hospital, and have not agreed to allow doctors and ambulances
to go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded, in direct
violation of the Geneva Conventions.”
to David Walsh, the American media also seems to contribute to the
subversion of truth in Fallujah. Although, in many cases, journalists
are prevented from entering the city and are denied access to the
wounded, corporate media showed little concern regarding their denied
access. There has been little or no mention of the immorality or
legality of the attacks the United States has waged against Iraq.
With few independent journalists reporting on the carnage, the international
humanitarian community in exile, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent
prevented from entering the besieged city, the world is forced to
rely on reporting from journalists embedded with U.S. forces. In
the U.S. press, we see casualties reported for Fallujah as follows:
number of U.S. soldiers dead, number of Iraqi soldiers dead, number
of “guerillas” or “insurgents” dead. Nowhere
were the civilian casualties reported in the first weeks of the
invasion. An accurate count of civilian casualties to date has yet
to be published in the mainstream media.
part 2: Civilian Death Toll Is Ignored
The Lancet, October
Before and After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq”
Authors: Les Roberts,
Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi and Gilbert Burnham
The Lancet, October
Title: “The War
in Iraq: Civilian Casualties, Political Responsibilities”
Author: Richard Horton
The Chronicle of Higher
Education, February 4, 2005
Author: Lila Guterman
FAIR, April 15, 2004
Title: “CNN to
Al Jazeera: Why Report Civilian Deaths?”
Author: Julie Hollar
Sherril Jaffe, Ph.D.
In late October, 2004,
a peer reviewed study was published in The Lancet, a British medical
journal, concluding that at least 100,000 civilians have been killed
in Iraq since it was invaded by a United States-led coalition in
March 2003. Previously, the number of Iraqis that had died, due
to conflict or sanctions since the 1991 Gulf War, had been uncertain.
Claims ranging from denial of increased mortality to millions of
excess deaths have been made. In the absence of any surveys, however,
they relied on Ministry of Health records. Morgue-based surveillance
data indicate the post-invasion homicide rate is many times higher
than the pre-invasion rate.
the present setting of insecurity and limited availability of health
information, researchers, headed by Dr. Les Roberts of Johns Hopkins
University, undertook a national survey to estimate mortality during
the 14.6 months before the invasion (Jan 1, 2002, to March 18, 2003)
and to compare it with the period from March 19, 2003, to the date
of the interview, between Sept 8 and 20, 2004. Iraqi households
were informed about the purpose of the survey, assured that their
name would not be recorded, and told that there would be no benefits
or penalties for refusing or agreeing to participate.
survey indicates that the death toll associated with the invasion
and occupation of Iraq is in reality about 100,000 people, and may
be much higher. The major public health problem in Iraq has been
identified as violence. However, despite widespread Iraqi casualties,
household interview data do not show evidence of widespread wrongdoing
on the part of individual soldiers on the ground. Ninety-five percent
of reported killings (all attributed to U.S. forces by interviewees)
were caused by helicopter gunships, rockets, or other forms of aerial
study was released on the eve of a contentious presidential election—fought
in part over U.S. policy on Iraq. Many American newspapers and television
news programs ignored the study or buried reports about it far from
the top headlines. “What went wrong this time? Perhaps the
rush by researchers and The Lancet to put the study in front of
American voters before the election accomplished precisely the opposite
result, drowning out a valuable study in the clamor of the presidential
campaign.” (Lila Guterman, Chronicle of Higher Education)
study’s results promptly flooded though the worldwide media—everywhere
except the United States, where there was barely a whisper about
the study, followed by stark silence. “The Lancet released
the paper on October 29, the Friday before the election, when many
reporters were busy with political stories. That day the Los Angeles
Times and the Chicago Tribune each dedicated only about 400 words
to the study and placed the stories inside their front section,
on pages A4 and A11, respectively. (The news media in Europe gave
the study much more play; many newspapers put articles about it
on their front pages.)
a short article about the study on page A8, the New York Times noted
that the Iraqi Body Count, a project to tally civilian deaths reported
in the news media, had put the maximum death count at around 17,000.
The new study, the article said, “is certain to generate intense
controversy.” But the Times has not published any further
news articles about the paper. The Washington Post, perhaps most
damagingly to the study’s reputation, quoted Marc E. Garlasco,
a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, as saying, “These
numbers seem to be inflated.” Mr. Garlasco says now that he
hadn’t read the paper at the time and calls his quote in the
Post “really unfortunate.” (Lila Guterman, Chronicle
of Higher Education).
so, nobody else in American corporate media bothered to pick up
the story and inform our citizens how many Iraqi citizens are being
killed at the hands of a coalition led by our government. The study
was never mentioned on television news, and the truth remains unheard
by those who may need to hear it most. The U.S. government had no
comment at the time and remains silent about Iraqi civilian deaths.
“The only thing we keep track of is casualties for U.S. troops
and civilians,” a Defense Department spokesman told The Chronicle.
CNN anchor Daryn Kagan did have the opportunity to interview the
Al Jazeera network editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Sheik—a rare opportunity
to get independent information about events in Fallujah—she
used the occasion to badger Al-Sheik about whether the civilian
deaths were really “the story” in Fallujah. CNN’s
argument was that a bigger story than civilian deaths is “what
the Iraqi insurgents are doing” to provoke a U.S. “response”
is startling. “When reports from the ground are describing
hundreds of civilians being killed by U.S. forces, CNN should be
looking to Al Jazeera’s footage to see if it corroborates
those accounts—not badgering Al Jazeera’s editor about
why he doesn’t suppress that footage.” (MediaWatch,
Asheville Global Report)
researchers concluded that several limitations exist with this study,
predominantly because the quality of data received is dependent
on the accuracy of the interviews. However, interviewers believed
that certain essential charcteristics of Iraqi culture make it unlikely
that respondents would have fabricated their reports of the deaths.
The Geneva Conventions have clear guidance about the responsibilities
of occupying armies to the civilian population they control. “With
the admitted benefit of hindsight and from a purely public health
perspective, it is clear that whatever planning did take place was
grievously in error. The invasion of Iraq, the displacement of a
cruel dictator, and an attempt to impose a liberal democracy by
force have, by themselves, been insufficient to bring peace and
security to the civilian population.
illegal, heavy handed tactics practiced by the U.S. military in
Iraq evident in these news stories have become what appears to be
their standard operating procedure in occupied Iraq. Countless violations
of international law and crimes against humanity occurred in Fallujah
during the November massacre.
by the mass slaughtering of Iraqis and the use of illegal weapons
such as cluster bombs, napalm, uranium munitions and chemical weapons
during the November siege of Fallujah when the entire city was declared
a “free fire zone” by military leaders, the brutality
of the U.S. military has only increased throughout Iraq as the occupation
to Iraqis inside the city, at least 60 percent of Fallujah went
on to be totally destroyed in the siege, and eight months after
the siege entire districts of the city remained without electricity
or water. Israeli style checkpoints were set up in the city, prohibiting
anyone from entering who did not live inside the city. Of course
non-embedded media were not allowed in the city.
update: Since these stories were published,
countless other incidents of illegal weapons and tactics being used
by the U.S. military in Iraq have occurred.
“Operation Spear” on June 17th, 2005, U.S.-led forces
attacked the small cities of Al-Qa’im and Karabla near the
Syrian border. U.S. warplanes dropped 2,000 pound bombs in residential
areas and claimed to have killed scores of “militants”
while locals and doctors claimed that only civilians were killed.
in Fallujah, residents were denied access to the city in order to
obtain medical aid, while those left inside the city claimed Iraqi
civilians were being regularly targeted by U.S. snipers.
to an IRIN news report, Firdos al-Abadi from the Iraqi Red Crescent
Society stated that 7,000 people from Karabla were camped in the
desert outside the city, suffering from lack of food and medical
aid while 150 homes were totally destroyed by the U.S. military.
Iraqi doctor reported on the same day that he witnessed, “crimes
in the west area of the country…the American troops destroyed
one of our hospitals, they burned the whole store of medication,
they killed the patient in the ward…they prevented us from
helping the people in Qa’im.”
like Fallujah, a doctor at the General Hospital of al-Qa’im
stated that entire families remained buried under the rubble of
their homes, yet medical personnel were unable to reach them due
to American snipers.
civilians in Haditha had similar experiences during “Operation
Open Market” when they claimed U.S. snipers shot anyone in
the streets for days on end, and U.S. and Iraqi forces raided homes
detaining any man inside.
media reported on the “liberation” of Fallujah, as well
as quoting military sources on the number of “militants”
killed. Any mention of civilian casualties, heavy-handed tactics
or illegal munitions was either brief or non-existent, and continues
to be as of June 2005.
For additional information:
For those interested in following these
stories, it is possible to obtain information by visiting the English
Al-Jazeera website at http://english.aljazeera.
net/HomePage, my website at www.dahrjamailiraq.com,
The World Tribunal on Iraq at www.worldtribunal.org,
Peacework Magazine at www.afsc.org/pwork/0412/041204.htm
, and other alternative/independent news websites.
#3 Another Year
of Distorted Election Coverage
In These Times, 02/15/05
Title: “A Corrupted
Authors: Steve Freeman
and Josh Mitteldorf
January 26, 2005
Title: “Jim Crow
Returns To The Voting Booth”
Authors: Greg Palast,
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Nov. 23, 2004
Title: “How a
Republican Election Supervisor Manipulated the 2004 Central Ohio
Authors: Bob Fitrakis,
Ann Neel, MA
have long counted on exit polls to be a reliable predictor of actual
vote counts. The unusual discrepancy between exit poll data and
the actual vote count in the 2004 election challenges that reliability.
However, despite evidence of technological vulnerabilities in the
voting system and a higher incidence of irregularities in swing
states, this discrepancy was not scrutinized in the mainstream media.
They simply parroted the partisan declarations of “sour grapes”
and “let’s move on” instead of providing any meaningful
analysis of a highly controversial election.
official vote count for the 2004 election showed that George W.
Bush won by three million votes. But exit polls projected a victory
margin of five million votes for John Kerry. This eight-million-vote
discrepancy is much greater than the error margin. The overall margin
of error should statistically have been under one percent. But the
official result deviated from the poll projections by more than
five percent—a statistical impossibility.
Media Research and Mitofsky International, the two companies hired
to do the polling for the Nation Election Pool (a consortium of
the nation’s five major broadcasters and the Associated Press),
did not immediately provide an explanation for how this could have
occurred. They waited until January 19, the eve of the inauguration.
and Mitofsky’s “inaugural” report, “Evaluation
of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004,” stated that the
discrepancy was “most likely due to Kerry voters participating
in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters.” The
media widely reported that this report proved the accuracy of the
official count and a Bush victory. The body of the report, however,
offers no data to substantiate this position. In fact, the report
shows that Bush voters were more likely to complete the survey than
Kerry voters. The report also states that the difference between
exit polls and official tallies was far too great to be explained
by sampling error, and that a systematic bias is implicated.
Edison and Mitofsky report dismisses the possibility that the official
vote count was wrong, stating that precincts with electronic voting
systems had the same error rates as precincts with punch-card systems.
This is true. However, it merely points to the unreliability of
punch-card and electronic systems, both of which are slated for
termination under the Helping America Vote Act of 2002. According
to the report, only in precincts that used old-fashioned, hand-counted
paper ballots did the official count and the exit poll data fall
within the normal margin of error.
the report shows, the discrepancy between the exit polls and the
official count was considerably greater in the critical swing states.
And while this fact is consistent with allegations of fraud, Mitofsky
and Edison suggest, without providing any data or theory to back
up their claim, that this discrepancy is somehow related to media
precincts that were at least 80 percent for Bush, the average within-precinct
error (WPE) was a whopping 10.0 percent—the numerical difference
between the exit poll predictions and the official count. Also,
in Bush strongholds, Kerry received only about two-thirds of the
votes predicted by exit polls. In Kerry strongholds, exit polls
matched the official count almost exactly (an average WPE of 0.3).
exit poll data is a strong indicator of a corrupted election. But
the case grows stronger if these exit poll discrepancies are interpreted
in the context of more than 100,000 officially logged reports of
irregularities and possible fraud during Election Day 2004.
campaign officials compiled a 1,886-name “caging list,”
which included the names and addresses of predominantly black voters
in the traditionally Democratic Jacksonville, Florida. While Bush
campaign spokespersons stated that the list was a returned mail
log, they did not deny that such a list could be used to challenge
voters on Election Day. In fact, the county elections supervisor
says that he could see no other purpose for compiling such a list.
Franklin County Ohio, Columbus voters faced one of the longest ballot
lines in history. In many inner city precincts, voters sometimes
had three-hour waits to get to the poll before being required to
cast ballots within five minutes, as demanded by the Republican-run
Board of Elections. Seventy-seven out of the county’s 2,866
voting machines malfunctioned on Election Day. One machine registered
4,258 votes for Bush in a precinct where only 638 people voted.
At least 125 machines were held back at the opening of the polls,
and another 68 were never deployed. While voters were rushed through
the process, 29 percent of the precincts had fewer voting machines
than in the 2000 election despite a 25 percent increase in turnout.
together, these problems point to an election that requires scrutiny.
Even if the discrepancy between exit polls and actual vote counts
is simply a fluke, other flaws and questionable practices in the
voting process make one wonder whether or not the people’s
voice was actually heard and if we are truly a working democracy.
Update by Josh Mitteldorf:
Some news is too important to report. People might get upset, and
the smooth functioning of our democracy would be jeopardized. Thus
the media has collectively done the responsible thing, and refrained—at
great cost to themselves, be assured—from publicizing doubts
about the legitimacy of the 2004 election, in order to help assure
the “orderly succession of power.”
some internet sites such as Commondreams.org and Freepress.org do
not realize their obligations to the commonwealth, and have thus
been less responsible in maintaining silence. And there’s
an upbeat radio voice from Vermont, Thom Hartmann, who would be
fun to listen to if only he didn’t insist on relating so many
so long as you stay away from these isolated derelicts, you will
be gratified to receive a reassuringly consistent story line: George
Bush won the 2004 election fair and square. It’s time to stop
asking pointless questions. Get with the program!
Update by Greg Palast
and Reverend Jessie Jackson: There are conspiracy nuts out there
on the Internet who think that John Kerry defeated George Bush in
Ohio and other states. I know, because I wrote “Kerry Won”
for TomPaine.com two days after the election.
Won” was the latest in a series coming out of a five-year
investigation, begun in November 2000, for BBC Television Newsnight
and Britain’s Guardian papers, dissecting that greasy sausage
called American electoral democracy.
November 11, a week after TomPaine.com put the report out on the
‘Net, I received an email from the New York Times Washington
Bureau. Hot on the investigation of the veracity of the vote, the
Times reporter asked me pointed questions:
#1: Are you a “sore loser”?
#2: Are you a “conspiracy nut”?
was no third question. Investigation of the vote was, apparently,
complete. The next day, their thorough analysis of the evidence
yielded a front-page story, “VOTE FRAUD THEORIES, SPREAD BY
BLOGS, ARE QUICKLY BURIED.”
a bit of what the Paper of Record failed to record.
June 2004, well before the election, my co-author of “Jim
Crow” Rev. Jesse Jackson brought me to Chicago. We had breakfast
with Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards. The Reverend asked
the Senator to read my report of the “spoilage” of Black
votes—one million African Americans who cast ballots in 2000
but did not have their votes register on the machines.
said he’d read it over after he’d had his bagel. Jackson
snatched away his bagel. No read, no bagel. A hungry Senator was
genuinely concerned—these were, after all, Democrats whose
votes did not tally, and he shot the information to John Kerry.
A couple of weeks later, Kerry told the NAACP convention that one
million African-American votes were not counted in 2000, but in
2004 he would not let it happen again.
he did let it happen again. More than a million votes in 2004 were
cast and not counted.
a reporter, it’s not my job to help the Democratic Party learn
to tie its shoes. And, as a nonpartisan journalist, I’m not
out to expose the Republican Party’s new elaborate campaign
to prevent voters from voting—but I must report it. However,
editors and news producers in my home country, the USA, seem less
than interested. Indeed, they are downright hostile to reporting
this story of the shoplifting of our democracy.
has an apartheid voting system, denying African-Americans, Hispanics
and American Natives the assurance their ballots will count. Worse,
America has an apartheid media which denies racial disenfranchisement
a seat at the front of the news bus.
was in November 2000 I first ran into the U.S. news lord’s
benign neglect of the “new Jim Crow” methods of denying
citizens of color their vote. While working with the British Guardian
papers just days before the 2000 presidential election, I discovered
that Governor Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State, Katharine Harris,
had wrongly purged tens of thousands of Black citizens from voter
rolls as “felons”—when in fact their only crime
had been V.W.B.: Voting While Black.
appeared in the U.S. press. However, I admit that the Florida purge
story was picked up by the New York Times … fofur years later.
before the November 2004 election, BBC television Newsnight discovered
new, confidential “caging lists” which we got our hands
on from inside the Republican National Committee headquarters. These
were rosters of thousands of minority voters targeted to prevent
them from voting on election day: a violation of federal law. It
was big news in Europe and South America. In the USA, there was
nothing except an attack on BBC’s report by ABC’s web
site. ABC’s only listed source for their attack on the BBC
was the Republican Party.
story of the purge of Black voters, the million missing Black ballots
cast but not counted, the caging lists, and other games used to
deny the vote to the dark-skinned and the poor, would have been
buried long ago if not for BBC Television, Harper’s Magazine
(may it last a thousand years), Britain’s Guardian and Observer,
The Nation, the op-ed editors at the San Francisco Chronicle and
Seattle Post-Intelligencer and, provocatively, Hustler Magazine.
Even if ignored or actively ‘dissed by U.S. “mainstream”
media, the story will be continue to be reported, due to the passionate
insistence of Reverend Jackson, from a thousand pulpits.
to GeorgeBush.com for capturing the ‘caging lists.’
And bless the blogs, for they shall set the truth free: TomPaine.com,
Buzzflash, Working-for-Change and other Internet sites carried the
story over the electronic Berlin Wall.
my gratitude to our indefatigable investigative team, particularly
Oliver Shykles and Matt Pascarella for their work on this story—on
which they continue today—and to Meirion Jones, producer nonpareil
at BBC television’s Newsnight.
For Additional Documentation
of Voter Fraud 2004 See Chapters 2 and 3.
#4 Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In
Journal, Mar/Apr 2004
Act’s Reach Expanded Despite Part Being Struck Down”
Author: Nikki Swartz
LiP Magazine, Winter
Author: Anna Samson
Capitol Hill Blue,
June 7, 2004
Big Brother Snoops on Americans 24/7”
Authors: Teresa Hampton
and Doug Thompson
John Steiner, Ph. D.
Sandy Brown, Michelle Jesolva
“While the evening
news rolled footage of Saddam being checked for head lice, the Intelligence
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 was quietly signed into law.”1
On December 13, 2003,
President George W. Bush, with little fanfare and no mainstream
media coverage, signed into law the controversial Intelligence Authorization
Act while most of America toasted the victory of U.S. forces in
Iraq and Saddam’s capture. None of the corporate press covered
the signing of this legislation, which increases the funding for
intelligence agencies, dramatically expands the definition of surveillable
financial institutions, and authorizes the FBI to acquire private
records of those individuals suspected of criminal activity without
a judicial review. American civil liberties are once again under
has provided precedent for such actions. Throughout the 1990s, erosions
of these protections were taking place. As part of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism
bill adopted in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Justice
Department was required to publish statistics going back to 1990
on threats or actual crimes against federal, state and local employees
and their immediate families when the wrongdoing related to the
workers’ official duties. The numbers were then to be kept
up to date with an annual report.2 Members of congress, concerned
with the threat this type of legislation posed to American civil
liberties, were able to strike down much of what the bill proposed,
including modified requirements regarding wiretap regulations.
“atmosphere of fear” generated by recent terrorist attacks,
both foreign and domestic, provides administrations the support
necessary to adopt stringent new legislation. In response to the
September 11 attacks, new agencies, programs and bureaucracies have
been created. The Total Information Office is a branch of the United
States Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency. It has a mission to “imagine, develop, apply, integrate,
demonstrate and transition information technologies, components
and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter
asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness.”3
Another intelligence gathering governmental agency, The Information
Awareness Office, has a mission to gather as much information as
possible about everyone in a centralized location for easy perusal
by the United States government. Information mining has become the
business of government.
November 2002, the New York Times reported that the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was developing a tracking system
called “Total Information Awareness” (TIA), which was
intended to detect terrorists through analyzing troves of information.
The system, developed under the direction of John Poindexter, then-director
of DARPA’s Information Awareness Office, was envisioned to
give law enforcement access to private data without suspicion of
wrongdoing or a warrant.4 The “Total Information Awareness”
program’s name was changed to “Terrorist Information
Awareness” on May 20, 2003 ostensibly to clarify the program’s
intent to gather information on presumed terrorists rather than
compile dossiers on U.S. citizens.
this name change, a Senate Defense Appropriations bill passed unanimously
on July 18, 2003, expressly denying any funding to Terrorist Information
Awareness research. In response, the Pentagon proposed The Multistate
Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, or MATRIX, a program devised
by longtime Bush family friend Hank Asher as a pilot effort to increase
and enhance the exchange of sensitive terrorism and other criminal
activity information between local, state, and federal law enforcement
agencies. The MATRIX, as devised by the Pentagon, is a State run
information generating tool, thereby circumventing congress’
concern regarding the appropriation of federal funds for the development
of this controversial database. Although most states have refused
to adopt these Orwellian strategies, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut
and Florida have all jumped on the TIA band wagon.
somehow, after the apparent successful dismantling of TIA, expressed
concern by Representatives Mark Udall of Colorado, Betty McCollum
of Minnesota, Ron Paul of Texas and Dennis Moore of Kansas, and
heightened public awareness of the MATRIX, the Intelligence Authorization
Act was signed into law December 13, 2003.5
Thursday, November 20, 2003 Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum
stated that, “The Republican Leadership inserted a controversial
provision in the FY04 Intelligence Authorization Report that will
expand the already far-reaching USA Patriot Act, threatening to
further erode our cherished civil liberties. This provision gives
the FBI power to demand financial and other records, without a judge’s
approval, from post offices, real estate agents, car dealers, travel
agents, pawnbrokers and many other businesses. This provision was
included with little or no public debate, including no consideration
by the House Judiciary Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction.
It came as a surprise to most Members of this body.”6
to LiP Magazine, “Governmental and law-enforcement agencies
and MATRIX contractors across the nation will gain extensive and
unprecedented access to financial records, medical records, court
records, voter registration, travel history, group and religious
affiliations, names and addresses of family members, purchases made
and books read.”7
Jennings, in an ABC original report, explored the commercial applications
of this accumulated information. Journalist and author Peter O’Harrow,
who collaborated with ABC News on the broadcast “Peter Jennings
Reporting: No Place to Hide,” states “…marketers—and
now, perhaps government investigators—can study what people
are likely to do, what kind of attitudes they have, what they buy
at the grocery store.”8 Although this program aired on prime-time
mainstream television, there was no mention of the potential for
misuse of this personal information network or of the controversy
surrounding the issues of privacy and civil liberties violations
concerning citizens and civil servants alike. Again, the sharing
of this kind of personal information is not without precedent.
November 12, 1999, Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley
Act, which permits financial institutions to share personal customer
information with affiliates within the holding company. The Intelligence
Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2004 expands the definition of
a surveillable financial institution to include real estate agencies,
insurance companies, travel agencies, Internet service providers,
post offices, casinos and other businesses as well. Due to massive
corporate mergers and the acquisition of reams of newly acquired
information, personal consumer data has been made readily available
to any agency interested in obtaining it, both commercial and governmental.
the application of emerging new technologies such as Radio Frequency
Identification chips or RFIDs, small individualized computer chips
capable of communicating with a receiving computer, consumer behavior
can literally be tracked from the point of purchase to the kitchen
cupboard, and can be monitored by all interested parties.
Update by Anna Miranda:
The United States is at risk of turning into a full-fledged surveillance
society. The tremendous explosion in surveillance-enabling technologies,
combined with the ongoing weakening in legal restraints that protect
our privacy mean that we are drifting toward a surveillance society.
The good news is that it can be stopped. Unfortunately, right now
the big picture is grim.—ACLU9
The PATRIOT Act
provisions in the PATRIOT Act are set to expire at the end of 2005.
One amendment, the “library provision” went before Congress
in June. Despite President Bush’s threat to veto, lawmakers,
including 38 Republicans, voted 238 to 187 to overturn the provision,
which previously allowed law enforcement officials to request and
obtain information from libraries without obtaining a search warrant.
Although inspectors still have the “right” to search
library records, they must get a judge’s approval first.
General Alberto Gonzales informed Congress in April that this provision
has never been used to acquire information, although the American
Library Association recently reported that over 200 requests for
information were submitted since the PATRIOT Act was signed into
law in October 2001.
overturning of the library provision has been seen as a small victory
in the fight to reclaim privacy rights. Rep. Saunders, who was responsible
for almost successfully having the provision repealed last year,
commented that “conservative groups have been joining progressive
organizations to call for changes.”10
The fight to the right
for privacy continues to wage on with more successes, as the MATRIX
program was officially shut down on April 15, 2005. The program,
which consisted of 13 states—and only had four states remaining
prior to its closure, received $12 million in funding from the Department
of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. By utilizing
a system called FACTS (Factual Analysis Criminal Threat Solution),
law enforcement officials from participating states were able to
share information with one another and utilized this program as
an investigative tool to help solve and prevent crimes. According
to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, “Between July
2003 and April 2005, there have been 1,866,202 queries to the FACTS
application.”11 However, of these queries, only
2.6 percent involved terrorism or national security.
the MATRIX has been shut down, Florida law enforcement officials
are pursuing continuing the program and rebuilding it. Officials
have sent out a call for information from vendors beginning a competitive
RFID Technology and the REAL ID Act
On May 10, 2005, President
Bush secretly signed into law the REAL ID Act, requiring states
within the next three years to issue federally approved electronic
identification cards. Attached as an amendment to an emergency spending
bill funding troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the REAL ID Act passed
without the scrutiny and debate of Congress.
of the main concerns of the electronic identification card is identity
theft. The Act mandates the cards to have anti-counterfeiting measures,
such as an electronically readable magnetic strip or RFID chip.
Privacy advocates argue that RFID chips can be read from “unauthorized”
scanners allowing third parties or the general public to gather
and/or steal private information about an individual. Amidst growing
concerns about identity theft, the REAL ID Act has given no consideration
to this drawback.
privacy concerns regarding the electronic identification card is
the use of information by third parties once they’ve scanned
the cards and accessed the information. At this time, the Act does
not specify what can be done with the information. A company or
organization scanning your identification card could potentially
sell your personal information if strict guidelines on what to do
with the information are not mandated.
to conform over the next three years will leave citizens and residents
of the United States paralyzed. Identification cards that do not
meet the federally mandated standards will not be accepted as identification
for travel, opening a bank account, receiving social security checks,
or participating in government benefits, among other things.
Washington Post December 01, 1997, Final Edition.
Privacy Information Center http://www.epic.org/privacy/profiling/tia/.
Information Awareness Office, See HR 2417.
Congressional Record: November 22,2003 pg.E2399.
#5 U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in
Report (Jane’s Defence), February 15, 2005
Turns Tsunami into Military Strategy”
The Irish Times, February
Has Used Tsunami to Boost Aims in Stricken Area”
Author: Rahul Bedi
Inter Press Service,
January, 18 2005
Uses Tsunami Aid to Regain Foothold in Indonesia”
Author: Jim Lobe
Tony White, Ph. D., Craig Winston, Ph. D.
The tragic and devastating
power of 2004’s post holiday tsunami was plastered across
the cover of practically every newspaper around the world for the
better part of a month. As the death toll rose by the thousands
every day, countries struggled to keep pace with the rapidly increasing
need for aid across the Indian Ocean Basin.
the same time that U.S. aid was widely publicized domestically,
our coinciding military motives were virtually ignored by the press.
While supplying our aid (which when compared proportionately to
that of other, less wealthy countries, was an insulting pittance),
we simultaneously bolstered military alliances with regional powers
in, and began expanding our bases throughout, the Indian Ocean region.
viewed as a highly strategic location for U.S. interests, our desire
to curtail China’s burgeoning economic and military might
is contingent upon our control of this area. In the months following
the tsunami, writes Rahul Bedi in The Irish Times, the U.S. revived
the Utapao military base in Thailand it had used during the Vietnam
War. Task force 536 is to be moved there to establish a forward
positioning site for the U.S. Air Force.
subsequent tsunami relief operations, the U.S. reactivated its military
co-operation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement
with the Philippines. U.S. Navy also vessels utilized facilities
in Singapore, keeping with previous treaties. Further, the U.S.
marines and the navy arrived in Sri Lanka to bolster relief measures
despite the tsunami-hit island’s initial reluctance to permit
U.S. also stepped up their survey of the Malacca Straits, over which
China exercises considerable influence, and through which 90 percent
of Japan’s oil supplies pass. The United States has had trouble
expanding its military influence in the region largely due to suspicions
by Indonesia and Malaysia that the U.S. is disguising imperial aims
under the goal of waging war against terror. The two countries have
opposed an American plan to tighten security in the vital Malacca
Straits shipping lanes, which might have involved U.S. troops stationed
Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that U.S. relief to the
tsunami-affected region would assist the war against terror and
introduce “American values to the region.” The Bush
Administration is also reviving its hopes of normalizing military
ties with Indonesia, writes Jim Lobe for InterPress Service. The
world’s most populous Muslim nation, its strategically located
archipelago, critical sea lanes, and historic distrust of China
have made it an ideal partner for containing Beijing.
a January 2005 visit to Jakarta, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
told reporters, “I think if we’re interested in military
reform here, and certainly this Indonesian government is and our
government is, I think we need to possibly reconsider a bit where
we are at this point in history moving forward.”
to an article in the Asheville Global Report, the following month
the U.S. State Department made a decision to renew the International
Education and Military Training (IMET) program for Indonesia, despite
considerable human rights issues.
to Bedi, Washington has long wanted a navel presence in Trincomalee,
eastern Sri Lanka, or alternatively in Galle, further south, to
shorten the supply chain from its major regional military base in
distant Diego Garcia, which the British Ocean Territory leased to
the U.S. in 1966 for the length of fifty years. The use of these
bases would ring China, giving the U.S. added control over that
Garcia’s geostrategic location in the Indian Ocean and its
full range of naval, military and communications facilities gives
it a critical role supporting the U.S. Navy’s forward presence
in the North Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean Region. However, because
of the bases’ remoteness and the fact that its lease from
Britain expires in 2016, the U.S. seeks an alternative location
in the region. “Clearly these new bases will strengthen Washington’s
military logistical support in the region,” says Professor
Anuradha Chenoy at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. She
went on to emphasize that an alternative to the Diego Garcia base
must be found soon, as the lease from Britain will soon expire.
before the tsunami struck, an article dated April 21, 2003, by Josy
Joseph on Rediff.com explained that a classified report commissioned
by the United States Department of Defense expresses a desire for
access to Indian bases and military infrastructures. The United
States Air Force specifically wants to establish bases in India.
The report, entitled “Indo-U.S. Military Relations: Expectations
and Perceptions,” was distributed amongst high-ranking U.S.
officials and a handful of senior members within the Indian government.
It continues on about the Defense Department’s desire to have
“access closer to areas of instability.”1
report says, “American military officers are candid in their
plans to eventually seek access to Indian bases and military infrastructure.
India’s strategic location in the centre of Asia, astride
the frequently traveled Sea Lanes Of Communication (SLOC) linking
the Middle East and East Asia, makes India particularly attractive
to the U.S. military.”
report also quotes U.S. Lieutenant Generals as saying that the access
to Indian bases would enable the U.S. military “to be able
to touch the rest of the world” and to “respond rapidly
to regional crisis.” A South Asia Area Officer of the U.S.
State Department has been quoted as saying, “India’s
strategic importance increases if existing U.S. relationships with
U.S. actions in the Indian Ocean illustrate its intention to move
this agenda forward sooner rather than later.
Josy; “Target Next: Indian Military Bases”; rediff.com,
April 21, 2003; and Lobe, Jim; “Skepticism over renewed military
ties with Indonesia”; Asheville Global Report, March 10–16,
#6 The Real Oil for Food Scam
Title: “The UN
is Us: Exposing Saddam Hussein’s silent partner”
Author: Joy Gordon
Title: “The oil
for Food ‘Scandal’ is a Cynical Smokescreen”
Author: Scott Ritter
Robert McNamara, Ph. D.
The U.S. has accused
UN officials of corruption in Iraq’s oil for food program.
According to Joy Gordon and Scott Ritter the charge was actually
an attempt to disguise and cover up long term U.S. government complicity
in this corruption. Ritter says, “this posturing is nothing
more than a hypocritical charade, designed to shift attention away
from the debacle of George Bush’s self-made quagmire in Iraq,
and legitimize the invasion of Iraq by using Iraqi corruption and
not the now-missing weapons of mass destruction, as the excuse.”
Gordon arrives at the conclusion that, “perhaps it is unsurprising
that today the only role its seems the United States expects the
UN to play in the continuing drama of Iraq is that of scapegoat.”
to Gordon the charges laid by the U.S. accounting office are bogus.
There is plenty of evidence of corruption in the “oil-for-food”
program, but the trail of evidence leads not to the UN but to the
U.S. “The fifteen members of the Security Council—of
which the United States was by far the most influential—determined
how income from oil proceeds would be handled, and what the funds
could be used for.” Contrary to popular understanding, the
Security Council is not the same thing as the UN. It is part of
it, but operates largely independently of the larger body. The UN’s
personnel “simply executed the program that was designed by
the members of the Security Council.”
claim in the corporate media was that the UN allowed Saddam Hussein
to steal billions of dollars from oil sales. If we look, as Gordon
does, at who actually had control over the oil and who’s hands
held the money, a very different picture emerges. “If Hussain
did indeed smuggle $6 billion worth of oil in the ‘the richest
rip off in world history,’ he didn’t do it with the
complicity of the UN. He did it on the watch of the U.S. Navy.”
monetary transaction was approved by the U.S. through its dominant
role on the Security Council. Ritter explains, “the Americans
were able to authorize a $1 billion exemption concerning the export
of Iraqi oil for Jordan, as well as legitimize the billion-dollar
illegal oil smuggling trade over the Turkish border.” In another
instance, a Russian oil company “bought oil from Iraq under
‘oil for food’ at a heavy discount, and then sold it
at full market value to primarily U.S. companies, splitting the
difference evenly between [the Russian company] and the Iraqis.
This U.S. sponsored deal resulted in profits of hundreds of millions
of dollars for both the Russians and the Iraqis, outside the control
of ‘oil for food.’ It has been estimated that 80 percent
of the oil illegally smuggled out of Iraq under ‘oil for food’
ended up in the United States.”
only were criminals enriched in this nefarious scheme, it also ended
up sabotaging the original purpose of “oil for food.”
Gordon explains, “How Iraq sold its oil was also under scrutiny,
and the United States did act on what it perceived to be skimming
by Hussain in these deals. The solution that it enacted, however,
succeeded in almost bankrupting the entire Oil for Food Program
Security Council policy not only succeeded in enriching the dishonest,
it also virtually destroyed the program. According to Gordon, the
U.S. and UK attempted to prevent kickbacks resulting from artificially
low prices: “Instead of approving prices at the beginning
of each sales period (usually a month), in accordance with normal
commercial practices, the two allies would simply withhold their
approval [of the price] until after the oil was sold—creating
a bizarre scenario in which buyers had to sign contracts without
knowing what the price would be.” The result was “oil
sales collapsed by forty percent, and along with them the funds
for critical humanitarian imports.”
we have here, according to Gordon and Ritter, is a bare-faced attempt
by criminals to shift blame to the innocent. Gordon concludes, “Little
of the blame can credibly be laid at the feet of ‘the UN bureaucracy.’
Far more of the fault lies with policies and decisions of the Security
Council in which the United States played a central role.”
Update by Joy Gordon:
The accusations against the Oil for Food Program have served as
a springboard for general attacks on the credibility of the United
Nations as a whole, as well as personal attacks on Kofi Annan. For
the most part the mainstream media has seized on the accusations
and repeated them, without doing any of the research that would
give the discussion more integrity. For example, “the United
Nations” is criticized for “its” failures, and
the Secretary General is then blamed because these events “happened
on his watch.” What was not mentioned at all for the first
year of media coverage is that “the UN” is made up of
several different parts, and that the part that designed and oversaw
the Oil for Food Program was the Security Council, whose decisions
cannot be overridden or modified in any way by the Secretary General.
Not only that, while the most vitriolic accusations against the
UN have come from the United States, the U.S. is in fact the most
dominant member of the Security Council. The U.S. agreed to all
the decisions and procedures of the Oil for Food Program that are
now being so harshly criticized as “failures of the United
mainstream press, for the most part, has repeated that the Oil for
Food Program lacked accountability, oversight, or transparency.
What is most striking about this is that the elaborate structure
of oversight that was in fact in place—and is never mentioned
at all—is so easily available. It is on the program’s
web site in complete detail along with huge amounts of information,
making the program in fact highly transparent. Yet the mainstream
press coverage reflects none of this.
fall we saw the beginnings of some acknowledgement of the U.S. responsibility
for Iraq’s ongoing smuggling, as some Democrats introduced
evidence in hearings that all three U.S. administrations knew of
and supported Iraq’s illicit trade with Jordan and Turkey,
two key U.S. allies. The press picked that up, but little else.
my article came out, there has been a good deal of press coverage
from public radio stations and from foreign press. In addition,
I have testified twice before Congressional committees, where the
members of Congress were incredulous to hear that in fact the program
operated very differently than they had been told—even though
the information I provided them was obvious, basic, publicly available,
and easily accessible.
For additional information:
addressing these issues include the UN Association and the UN Foundation.
Information about the
accusations against the program can be found at the following sites:
UN web site on Oil
for Food program: http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/
The Volcker Committee
investigating the accusations: http://www.iic-offp.org/
#7 Journalists Face
Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood
Feb. 28, 2005
Messengers: How the U.S. Military Threatens Journalists”
Author: Steve Weissman
Repression in ‘Liberated’ Land”
November 18, 2004
Author: Dahr Jamail
Elizabeth Burch, Ph.D.
According to the International
Federation of Journalists (IFJ)1, 2004 was the deadliest year for
reporters since 1980, when records began to be kept. Over a 12-month
span, 129 media workers were killed and 49 of those deaths occurred
in the Iraqi conflict. According to independent journalist Dahr
Jamail, journalists are increasingly being detained and threatened
by the U.S.-installed interim government in Iraq. When the only
safety for a reporter is being embedded with the U.S. military,
the reported stories tend to have a positive spin. Non-embedded
reporters suffer the great risk of being identified as enemy targets
by the military.
most blatant attack on journalists occurred the morning of April
8, 2004, when the Third Infantry fired on the Palestine Hotel in
Baghdad killing cameramen Jose Couso and Taras Protsyuk and injuring
three others. The hotel served as headquarters for some 100 reporters
and other media workers. The Pentagon officials knew that the Palestine
Hotel was full of journalists and had assured the Associated Press
that the U.S. would not target the building. According to Truthout,
the Army had refused to release the records of its investigation.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, created in 1981 in order to
protect colleagues abroad from governments and others who have no
use for free and independent media, filed suit under the Freedom
of Information Act to force the Army to release its results. The
sanitized copy of the releasable results showed nothing more than
a Commander inquiry.
with the U.S. military’s investigation, Reporters Without
Borders, an international organization that works to improve the
legal and physical safety of journalists worldwide, conducted their
own investigation. They gathered evidence from journalists in the
Palestine Hotel at the time of the attacks. These were eye witness
accounts that the military neglected to include in their report.
The Reporters Without Borders report also provided information disclosed
by others embedded within the U.S. Army, including the U.S. military
soldiers and officers directly involved in the attack. The report
stated that the U.S. officials first lied about what had happened
during the Palestine Hotel attack and then, in an official statement
four months later, exonerated the U.S. Army from any mistake of
error in judgment. The investigation found that the soldiers in
the field did not know that the hotel was full of journalists. Olga
Rodriguez, a journalist present at the Palestine Hotel during the
attack, stated on KPFA’s Democracy Now! that the soldiers
and tanks were present at the hotel 36 hours before the firing and
that they had even communicated with the soldiers.
There have been several
other unusual journalist attacks, including:
22, 2003: Terry Lloyd, a reporter for British TV station ITN, was
killed when his convoy crossed into Iraq from Kuwait. French cameraman
Frederic Nerac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman, both in the
convoy, disappeared at the same time.2
2003: According to Dahr Jamail, within days of the ‘handover’
of power to an interim Iraqi government in 2003, al-Jazeera had
been accused of inaccurate reporting and was banned for one month
from reporting out of Iraq. The ban was later extended to “indefinitely”
and the interim government announced that any al-Jazeera journalist
found reporting in Iraq would be detained. Corentin Fleury, a French
freelance photographer, and his interpreter Bahktiyar Abdulla Hadad,
were detained by the U.S. military when they were leaving Fallujah
before the siege of the city began. They were both held in a military
detention facility outside of the city and were questioned about
the photos that were taken of bomb-stricken Fallujah. Fleury was
released after five days but his interpreter, Bahktiyar Abdulla
8, 2004: The same day of the attack on the Palestine Hotel, Truthout
writes, the U.S. bombed the Baghdad offices of Abu Dhabi TV and
Al-Jazeera while they were preparing to broadcast, killing Al-Jazeera
correspondent Tariq Ayyoub. August 17, 2004: Mazen Dana was killed
while filming (with permission) a prison, guarded by the U.S. military
in a Baghdad suburb. According to Truthout’s Steve Weissman,
the Pentagon issued a statement one month later claiming that the
troops had acted within the rules of engagement.3
4, 2005: Nicola Calipari, one of Italyís highest ranking
intelligence officials, was shot dead by U.S. troops. He was driving
with Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena, who had just been released
from captivity and was on her way to Baghdad’s airport. Sgrena
survived the attack. She stated in an interview with Amy Goodman
on KPFA’s Democracy Now! that the troops “shot at us
without any advertising, any intention, any attempt to stop us before”
and they appeared to have shot the back of the car.4
In all cases, little
investigation has been conducted, no findings have been released
and all soldiers involved have been exonerated.
the World Economic Forum, on a panel titled: “Will Democracy
Survive the Media?,” Eason Jordan, a CNN news chief, commented
that the U.S. commanders encourage hostility toward the media and
fail to protect journalists, especially those who choose not to
embed themselves under military control. According to Truthout,
during a discussion about the number of journalists killed during
the Iraq war, Jordan stated that he knew of 12 journalists who had
not only been killed by U.S. troops, but had been targeted. Jordan
also insisted that U.S. soldiers had deliberately shot at journalists.
After the forum, Jordan recanted the statements and was forced to
resign his job of 23 years at CNN.
a matter of military doctrine, the U.S. military dominates, at all
costs, every element of battle, including our perception of what
they do. The need for control leads the Pentagon to urge journalists
to embed themselves within the military, where they can go where
they are told and film and tell stories only from a pro-American
point of view. The Pentagon offers embedded journalists a great
deal of protection. As the Pentagon sees it, non-embedded eyes and
ears do not have any military significance, and unless Congress
and the American people stop them, the military will continue to
target independent journalists. Admirals and generals see the world
one way, reporters another; the clash leads to the deaths of too
Update by Steve Weissman:
When Truthout boss Marc Ash asked me earlier this year to look into
the Pentagon’s killing of journalists, many reporters believed
that the military was purposely targeting them. But, as I quickly
found, the crime was more systemic and in many ways worse. As far
as anyone has yet proved, no commanding officer ever ordered a subordinate
to fire on journalists as such. Not at Baghdad’s Palestine
Hotel in April 2003. Not at the Baghdad checkpoint where soldiers
wounded Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and killed her Secret
Service protector in March 2005. Andnot anywhere else in Iraq or
then, did the U.S. military end up killing journalists?
started with a simple decision—the Pentagon’s absolute
refusal to take any responsibility for the lives of journalists
who chose to work independently rather than embed themselves in
a British or American military unit. Despite repeated requests from
Reuters and other major news organizations, Pentagon officials still
refuse to take the steps needed to reduce the threat to independent
military must be forced to respect the work that independent journalists
do, protect them where possible, and train soldiers to recognize
the obvious differences between rocket launchers and TV cameras.
need to pass on information about the whereabouts of journalists
with a direct order not to shoot at them.
soldiers do kill journalists, the Pentagon needs to hold them
responsible, something that no military investigation has yet
the military tries to forcibly exclude journalists and otherwise
prevent “hostile information” about its operations,
such as its destruction of Falujah, Congress and the media need
to step in and force the Pentagon to back off.
One other problem needs
urgent attention. Military intelligence regularly monitors the uplink
equipment that reporters use to transmit their stories and communicate
by satellite phone. But, as the BBC’s Nik Gowing discovered,
the electronic intelligence mavens make no effort to distinguish
between journalistic communications and those of enemy forces. All
the sensing devices do is look for electronic traffic between the
monitored uplinks and known enemies.
Gowing’s view, this led the Americans to order a rocket attack
on the Kabul office of the Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, whose journalists
kept regular contact with the Taliban as part of their journalistic
date, neither Congress nor the military have done what they need
to do to protect unembedded journalists and the information they
provide. More shamefully, the mass media continues to underplay
for those who want it, reliable information is easily available,
either from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters without
Borders, or the International Federation of Journalists.
ITN Crew May Have Come Under ‘Friendly Fire,’”
March 23, 2003.
Now! March 23, 2005, Wounded Spanish Journalist Olga Rodriguez describes
the U.S. Attack on the Palestine Hotel that killed two of her colleagues.
Now! April 27, 2005, Giuliana Sgrena Blasts U.S. Cover Up, Calls
for U.S. and Italy to leave Iraq.
#8 Iraqi Farmers
Threatened By Bremer’s Mandates
Grain, October 2004
New Patent Law: A Declaration of War against Farmers”
Authors: Focus on the
Global South and GRAIN
Author: Greg Palast
The Ecologist, February
Seeking to Totally Re-engineer Iraqi Traditional Farming System
into a U.S.-style Corporate Agribusiness”
Author: Jeremy Smith
John Wingard, Ph. D.
In his article “Adventure
Capitalism,” Greg Palast exposes the contents of a secret
plan for “imposing a new regime of low taxes on big business,
and quick sales of Iraq’s banks and bridges—in fact,
‘ALL state enterprises’—to foreign operators.”
This economy makeover plan, he claims, “goes boldly where
no invasion plan has gone before.”
highly detailed program, which began years before the tanks rolled,
outlines the small print of doing business under occupation. One
of the goals is to impose intellectual property laws favorable to
multinationals. Palast calls this “history’s first military
assault plan appended to a program for toughening the target nation’s
also turns out that those of us who may have thought it was all
about the oil were mostly right. “The plan makes it clear
that—even if we didn’t go in for the oil—we certainly
won’t leave without it.”
an interview with Palast, Grover Norquist, the “ capo di capi
of the lobbyist army of the right,” makes the plans even more
clear when he responds, “The right to trade, property rights,
these things are not to be determined by some democratic election.”
No, these things were to be determined by the Coalition Provisional
Authority, the interim government lead by the U.S.
he left his position, CPA administrator Paul Bremer, “the
leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority issued exactly 100
orders that remade Iraq in the image of the Economy Plan.”
These orders effectively changed Iraqi law.
good example of this business invasion involves agriculture. The
details of this part of the “market make-over” are laid
out in the Grain website article called “Iraq’s new
Patent Law: a declaration of war against farmers.”
81” of the 100 is entitled “Patent, Industrial Design,
Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety.”
According to Grain staff writers, this order “made it illegal
for Iraqi farmers to re-use seeds harvested from new varieties registered
under the law.” Plant Variety Protection (PVP)is the tool
used for defining which seeds are re-useable and which are not.
PVP “is an intellectual property right or a kind of patent
for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting
material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed
a new variety. So the “protection” in PVP has nothing
to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial
interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming
to have created the new plants.”
with this order is a plan to “re-educate farmers” in
order to increase their production. As part of a $107 million “project”
facilitated by Texas A&M, farmers will be given equipment and
new high-yielding PVP protected seeds. Jeremy Smith from the Ecologist
points out that, “After one year, farmers will see soaring
production levels. Many will be only too willing to abandon their
old ways in favor of the new technologies. Out will go traditional
methods. In will come imported American seeds.” Then, based
on the new patent laws, “any ‘client’ (or ‘farmer’
as they were once known) wishing to grow one of their seeds, ‘pays
a licensing fee for each variety’.”
explains that “Under the guise of helping Iraq back on its
feet, the U.S. setting out to re-engineer the country’s traditional
farming system into a U.S.-style corporate agribusiness.”
In that traditional system, “97 percent of Iraqi farmers used
their own saved seed or bought seed from local markets.” He
continues, “Unfortunately, this vital heritage and knowledge
base is now believed lost, the victim of the current campaign and
the many years of conflict that preceded it.”
course, this project will also introduce “new chemicals—pesticides,
herbicides, fungicides, all sold to the Iraqis by corporations such
as Monsanto, Cargill and Dow.”
Grain staff writers point out, “over the past decade, many
countries of the South have been compelled to adopt seed patent
laws through bilateral treaties” with the U.S. The Iraqi situation,
however, is different in that “the adoption of the patent
law was not part of negotiations between sovereign countries. Nor
did a sovereign law-making body enact it as reflecting the will
of the Iraqi people.” Essentially, the U.S. has reneged on
its promise of freedom for the Iraqi people. The actions of the
U.S. clearly show that the will of the Iraqi people is not relevant.
Paul Bremer’s 100 orders make sure it will stay that way.
Grain argues “Iraq’s freedom and sovereignty will remain
questionable for as long as Iraqis do not have control over what
they sow, grow, reap and eat.” Palast says poignantly, “The
free market paradise in Iraq is not free.”
Update by Greg Palast:
In February 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher announced the
preparations for “Operation Iraqi Liberation”—O.I.L.
can’t make these things up.
not one of the those people who believes George Bush led us into
Iraq for the oil but, from the documents I’ve obtained, it’s
clear that we sure as hell aren’t leaving without it.
BBC Television Newsnight, which has granted me journalistic asylum
from the commercially-crazed madhouse of the American news market,
we ran Fleisher’s announcement of operation O.I.L. (later
corrected to Operation Iraqi Freedom—OIF!). More importantly,
we ran a series of stories—which I also developed for Harper’s
Magazine in the USA—on the pre-invasion plans to slice up
and sell off Iraq’s assets, “especially the oil,”
in the terms of one State Department secret document.
we got our hands on the confidential document to “Move Iraq’s
Economy Forward”—i.e. sell off its oil—we at BBC
put General Jay Garner on the air. Garner, whom the president appointed
as viceroy over the newly-conquered Iraq, confirmed the plan to
sell off Iraq’s oil—and his refusal to carry out the
deed. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fired him and smeared
him for his dissent. This was big, big news in Europe where I reported
it—but in the U.S. the story was buried.
later discovered that the plan to sell off Iraq’s oil was
replaced by another confidential plan. This one, 323 pages long
and literally written by oil industry consultants, was obtained
by BBC and Harper’s after a protracted legal war with the
State Department. We discovered, interestingly, that this industry
plan to create a state oil company favorable to OPEC was first conceived
in February 2001. In other words, invasion was in the works, including
stratagems for controlling Iraq’s oil, within week’s
of George Bush’s first inauguration and well before the September
discovery of this plan for Iraq’s oil, received exactly zero
coverage by the U.S. “mainstream” press. Only Harper’s
Magazine gave it full play along with those wonderful internet sites
(Buzzflash, Guerrilla News, WorkingForChange, CommonDreams, Alternet
and more ) that cussedly insist on printing news from abroad not
approved by the Powers That Be.
them. They, Project Censored, and Harper’s, have my deepest
thanks for bringing my words back home.
to see the television you’re not supposed to see? The British
Broadcasting Corporation has graciously kept my reports available
as Internet video archives. Go to www.GregPalast.com and click on
the “Watch BBC” buttons for the stories effectively
censored by the U.S. news lords and the Bush Administration’s
chorus of journalist castrati.
I must give special thanks to our team’s special investigator
on Iraq, Leni von Eckardt, to brilliant BBC producer Meirion Jones,
to the stalwart editors of Harper’s Magazine who withstood
legal threats to publish the story, and to TomPaine.com, which has
always provided a refuge for the best investigative reporting American
newspapers won’t print.
New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency
Next U.S. Target”
Author: William Clark
Phil Beard, Ph. D.
The U.S. media tells
us that Iran may be the next target of U.S. aggression. The anticipated
excuse is Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. William
Clark tells us that economic reasons may have more to do with U.S.
concerns over Iran than any weapons of mass destruction.
mid-2003 Iran broke from tradition and began accepting eurodollars
as payment for its oil exports from its E.U. and Asian customers.
Saddam Hussein attempted a similar bold step back in 2000 and was
met with a devastating reaction from the U.S. Iraq now has no choice
about using U.S. dollars for oil sales (Censored 2004 #19). However,
Iraq's plan to open an international oil exchange market for trading
oil in the euro currency is a much larger threat to U.S. dollar
supremacy than Iraq’s switch to euros.
the dollar is still the standard currency for trading international
oil sales, in 2006 Iran intends to set up an oil exchange (or bourse)
that would facilitate global trading of oil between industrialized
and developing countries by pricing sales in the euro, or “petroeuro.”
To this end, they are creating a euro-denominated Internet-based
oil exchange system for global oil sales. This is a direct challenge
to U.S. dollar supremacy in the global oil market. It is widely
speculated that the U.S. dollar has been inflated for some time
now because of the monopoly position of “petrodollars”
in oil trades. With the level of national debt, the value of the
dollar has been held artificially high compared to other currencies.
vast majority of the world’s oil is traded on the New York
NYMEX (Mercantile Exchange) and the London IPE (International Petroleum
Exchange), and, as mentioned by Clark, both exchanges are owned
by U.S. corporations. Both of these oil exchanges transact oil trades
in U.S. currency. Iran’s plan to create a new oil exchange
would facilitate trading oil on the world market in euros. The euro
has become a somewhat stronger and more stable trading medium than
the U.S. dollar in recent years. Perhaps this is why Russia, Venezuela,
and some members of OPEC have expressed interest in moving towards
a petroeuro system for oil transactions. Without a doubt, a successful
Iranian oil bourse may create momentum for other industrialized
countries to stop exchanging their own currencies for petrodollars
in order to buy oil. A shift away from U.S. dollars to euros in
the oil market would cause the demand for petrodollars to drop,
perhaps causing the value of the dollar to plummet. A precipitous
drop in the value of the U.S. dollar would undermine the U.S. position
as a world economic leader.
is a major exporter to the United States, and its trade surplus
with the U.S. means that China has become the world’s second
largest holder of U.S. currency reserves (Japan is the largest holder
with $800 billion, and China holds over $600 billion in T-bills).
China would lose enormously if they were still holding vast amounts
of U.S. currency when the dollar collapsed and assumed a more realistic
value. Maintaining the U.S. as a market for their goods is a pre-eminent
goal of Chinese financial policy, but they are increasingly dependent
on Iran for their vital oil and gas imports. The Chinese government
is careful to maintain the value of the yuan linked with the U.S.
dollar (8.28 yuan to 1 dollar). This artificial linking makes them,
effectively, one currency. But the Chinese government has indicated
interest in de-linking the dollar-yuan arrangement, which could
result in an immediate fall in the dollar. More worrisome is the
potentiality of China to abandon its ongoing prolific purchase of
U.S. Treasuries/debt—should they become displeased with U.S.
policies towards Iran.
situations cannot be expected to remain static. It is reasonable
to expect that the Chinese are hedging their bets. It is unreasonable
to expect that they plan to be left holding devalued dollars after
a sudden decline in their value. It is possible that the artificial
situation could continue for some time, but this will be due largely
to the fact that the Chinese want it that way. Regardless, China
seems to be in the process of unloading some of its U.S. dollar
reserves in the world market to purchase oil reserves, and most
recently attempted to buy Unocal, a California-based oil company.
irony is that apparent U.S. plans to invade Iran put pressure on
the Chinese to abandon their support of the dollar. Clark warns
that “a unilateral U.S. military strike on Iran would further
isolate the U.S. government, and it is conceivable that such an
overt action could provoke other industrialized nations to abandon
the dollar en masse.” Perhaps the U.S. planners think that
they can corner the market in oil militarily. But from Clark's point
of view, “a U.S. intervention in Iran is likely to prove disastrous
for the United States, making matters much worse regarding international
terrorism, not to mention potential adverse effects on the U.S.
economy.” The more likely outcome of an Iran invasion would
be that, just as in Iraq, Iranian oil exports would dry up, regardless
of what currency they are denominated in, and China would be compelled
to abandon the dollar and buy oil from Russia—likely in euros.
The conclusion is that U.S. leaders seem to have no idea what they
are doing. Clark points out that, “World oil production is
now flat out, and a major interruption would escalate oil prices
to a level that would set off a global depression.”
Update by William Clark:
Following the completion of my essay in October 2004, three important
stories appeared that dramatically raised the geopolitical stakes
for the Bush Administration. First, on October 28, 2004, Iran and
China signed a huge oil and gas trade agreement (valued between
$70 and $100 billion dollars.)1 It should also be noted that China
currently receives 13 percent of its oil imports from Iran. The
Chinese government effectively drew a “line in the sand”
around Iran when it signed this huge oil and gas deal. Despite desires
by U.S. elites to enforce petrodollar hegemony by force, the geopolitical
risks of a U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would
surely create a serious crisis between Washington and Beijing.
article that addressed some of the strategic risks appeared in the
December 2004 edition of the Atlantic Monthly.2 This story by James
Fallows outlined the military war games against Iran that were conducted
during the summer and autumn of 2004. These war-gaming
sessions were led by Colonel Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel
who for more than two decades ran war games at the National War
College and other military institutions. Each scenario led to a
dangerous escalation in both Iran and Iraq. Indeed, Col. Gardiner
summarized the war games with the following conclusion, “After
all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers:
You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have
to make diplomacy work.”3
third and final news item that revealed the Bush Administration’s
intent to attack Iran was provided by investigative reporter Seymour
Hersh. The January 2005 issue of The New Yorker (“The Coming
Wars”) included interviews with high-level U.S. intelligence
sources who repeatedly told Hersh that Iran was indeed the next
strategic target.4 However, as a permanent member of the UN Security
Council, China will likely veto any U.S. resolution calling for
military action against Iran. A unilateral military strike on Iran
would isolate the U.S. government in the eyes of the world community,
and it is conceivable that such an overt action could provoke other
industrialized nations to abandon the dollar in droves. I refer
to this in my book as the “rogue nation hypothesis.”
central bankers throughout the world community would be extremely
reluctant to “dump the dollar,” the reasons for any
such drastic reaction are likely straightforward from their perspective—the
global community is dependent on the oil and gas energy supplies
found in the Persian Gulf. Numerous oil geologists are warning that
global oil production is now running “flat out.” Hence,
any such efforts by the international community that resulted in
a dollar currency crisis would be undertaken—not to cripple
the U.S. dollar and economy as punishment towards the American people
per se—but rather to thwart further unilateral warfare and
its potentially destructive effects on the critical oil production
and shipping infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. Barring a U.S.
attack, it appears imminent that Iran’s euro-denominated oil
bourse will open in March, 2006.5 Logically, the most appropriate
U.S. strategy is compromise with the E.U. and OPEC towards a dual-currency
system for international oil trades.
For additional information: Readers
interested in learning more about the dollar/euro oil currency conflict
and the upcoming geological phenomenon referred to as Peak Oil can
read William Clark’s new book, Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq
and the Future of the Dollar. Available from New Society Publishers:
www.newsociety.com, www.amazon.com or from your local book store.
Iran sign biggest oil & gas deal,” China Daily, October
31, 2004. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-10/31/content_387140.htm.
Fallows, “Will Iran be Next?,” Atlantic Monthly, December
2004, pgs. 97-110.
Hersh, “The Coming Wars,” The New Yorker, January 24th-31st
issue, 2005, pgs. 40-47. Posted online January 17, 2005. Online:
bourse closer to reality,” IranMania.com, December 28, 2004.
Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy
Title: “See You
in the Mountains: Katuah Earth First! Confronts Mountaintop Removal”
Author: John Conner
Ervand Peterson, Ph. D.
is a new form of coal mining in which companies dynamite the tops
of mountains to collect the coal underneath. Multiple peaks are
blown off and dumped onto highland watersheds, destroying entire
mountain ranges. More than 1,000 miles of streams have been destroyed
by this practice in West Virginia alone. Mountain top removal endangers
and destroys entire communities with massive sediment dams and non-stop
to Fred Mooney, an active member of the Mountain Faction of Katuah
Earth First!, “MTR is an ecocidal mining practice in which
greedy coal companies use millions of pounds of dynamite a day (three
million pounds a day in the southwest Virginia alone) to blow up
entire mountain ranges in order to extract a small amount of coal.”
He goes on to say that “Then as if that wasn’t bad enough,
they dump the waste into valleys and riverbeds. The combination
of these elements effectively kills everything in the ecosystems.”
states are responsible for permitting and regulating mining operations
under the Surface Mining Control Act. Now MTR is trying to break
into Tennessee, specifically Zeb Mountain in the northeast. Because
Tennessee did such a poor job in the ’70s, the state renounced
control, and all mining is now regulated under the federal Office
of Surface Mining. This makes Tennessee unique because activists
have recourse in the federal courts to stop mountaintop removal.
coal industry has coined many less menacing names for mountaintop
removal, such as cross range mining, surface mining and others.
But regardless of the euphemism, MTR remains among the most pernicious
forms of mining ever conceived. Blasting mountain tops with dynamite
is cheaper than hiring miners who belong to a union. More than 40,000
have been lost to MTR in West Virginia alone.
new coal plants are being planned for construction throughout the
U.S. Demand for coal will increase as these new facilities are completed.
Oil is starting to run out and there are no concrete plans for a
transition to renewable resources such as wind and solar energy.
Coal companies therefore will be well-positioned to capitalize on
their growing market. Katuah Earth First! (KEF!) is one of several
groups resisting MTR.
coal taken from Zeb Mountain is being burned by the Tennessee Valley
Authority, and continues to cause environmental damage. KEF! wants
to raise awareness and direct attention to the perpetrators—TVA
and the Office of Surface Mining (OSM). KEF! emphasized that “the
issue of mountain top removal is not just a local one. It is intertwined
with many global issues such as corporate domination of communities,
the homogenization of local cultures and the over consumption of
our wasteful society.”
federal agencies that review applications for coal mines have entered
an agreement that would give state governments an option that could
speed up the process. The Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental
Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service and Office of Surface
Mining said that the agreement was intended to streamline the procedures
companies go through when applying for permits to start surface
coal mines, including those that remove entire mountaintops to unearth
groups are beginning to challenge these policies in federal district
court. The current program allows the Army Corps of Engineers to
issue a general permit for a category of activities under the Clean
Water Act if they “will cause only minimal adverse environmental
effects” according to federal regulation. Coal companies then
also must seek individual “authorizations” from the
Corps for the projects for which they have received a general permit.2
to the Bush Administration, the federal judge who blocked the streamline
permitting of new mountaintop removal coal mines has overstepped
his authority. Lawyers for the Army Corps of Engineers asked a federal
appeals court to overturn the July 2004 ruling by U.S. District
Judge Joseph R. Goodwin. Industry lawyers criticized Goodwin’s
decision as the “latest unwarranted and impermissible dismantling”
of mountaintop removal regulations by federal judges in Southern
Update by John Conner:
The destructions of highland watersheds are a crime against the
very future. The Appalachian Mountains are some of the most diverse
in the world. Areas incredibly rich in biodiversity are being turned
into the biological equivalent of parking lots. It is the final
solution for 200 million-year-old mountains. Since dynamite is cheaper
than people, MTR has broken the back of the mining unions in West
Virginia, massive sediment dams threaten to bury entire communities,
water tables are destroyed, and wells dry up. It is a form of cultural
genocide driving a mountain people from their hills—then destroying
the hills themselves.
has been a direct impact on Marsh Fork Elementary, where a massive
sediment dam looms above the elementary school. Over 18 people have
been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience trying to protect
the children of that school. Additionally, Mountain Justice Summer
has begun a campaign modeled on Redwood and Mississippi Summers,
where folks from all over North America have come to our region
to help us defend our mountains.
the Martin County coal impoundment burst, it released more than
20 times the waste volume into a community than the Exxon Valdez
spill—yet the coal industry successfully suppressed the story.
The coal industry is incredibly powerful, and there exists a glass
ceiling on how far our stories go. The story of the folks committing
civil disobedience for the first time in history in West Virginia
to resist Mountain Top Removal was placed on the AP—but virtually
no outlets outside of West Virginia picked it up.
can get more information on this issue at mountainjusticesummer.org.
site has everything—links, pictures, and state-by-state activities.
From there you can sign yourself up for our electronic newsletter
and find out what is going on in all the states under attack by
Mountain Top Removal.
Energy with Federal lands, February 7, 2005,”Environmentalists
sue to block process for Ky. Mountaintop mining operations.”
Press, February 11, 2005, “Federal agencies will work together
to speed up mining permits.”
Gazette (West Virginia), March 22, 2005, Tuesday, “Bush, Industry
seek reversal of mining ruling.”
#11 Universal Mental
Screening Program Usurps Parental Rights
Asheville Global Report
(British Medical Journal),No. 284, June 24-30, 2004
Plans To Screen Whole U.S. Population For Mental Illness”
Author: Jeanne Lenzer
Truth News, September
Kids Into a Mental Health Ghetto”
Congressman Ron Paul
David Van Nuys Ph.D.
John Ferritto, Matt Johnson
In April of 2002, President
Bush appointed a 22 member commission called the President’s
New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in order to “identify
policies that could be implemented by Federal, State and local governments
to maximize the utility of existing resources, improve coordination
of treatments and services, and promote successful community integration
for adults with a serious mental illness and children with a serious
emotional disturbance.”1 Members of this commission include
physicians in the mental health field and at least one (Robert N.
Postlethwait) former employee of pharmaceutical giant Ely Lilly
July of 2003 the commission published the results of their study.
They found that mental health disorders often go undiagnosed and
recommended to the President that there should be more comprehensive
screening for mental illnesses for people of all ages, including
pre-school age children. In accordance with their findings, the
commission recommended that schools were in a “key position”
to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adult employees
of our nation’s schools.2
commission also recommended linking the screenings with treatment
and support. They recommended using the Texas Medication Algorithm
Project (TMAP) as a model treatment system.3 TMAP, which was implemented
in Texas’ publicly funded mental health care system while
George W. Bush was governor of Texas,4 is a disease management program
that aids physicians in prescribing drugs to patients based on clinical
history, background, symptoms, and previous results. It was the
first program in the United States aimed at establishing medication
guidelines for treating mental health illnesses.5 Basically, it
is an algorithm that recommends specific drugs which should be used
to treat specific diseases. Funding for TMAP was provided by a Robert
Wood-Johnson Grant as well as several major drug companies. The
project began in 1995 as an alliance of individuals from pharmaceutical
companies, the University of Texas, and the mental health and corrections
systems of Texas.6
of mental health screening and TMAP claim that it is a payoff to
Pharmaceutical companies. Many cite Allen Jones, a former employee
of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General. He was fired
when he revealed that many key officials who have influence over
the medication plan in his state received monetary perks and benefits
from pharmaceutical companies, which benefited from their drugs
being in the medication algorithm. TMAP also promotes the use of
newer, more expensive anti-psychotic drugs. Results of studies conducted
in the United States and Great Britain found that using the older,
more established anti-psychotic drugs as a front line treatment
rather than the newer experimental drugs makes more sense. Under
TMAP, the Ely Lilly drug olanzapine, a new atypical antipsychotic
drug, is used as a first line treatment rather than a more typical
anti-psychotic medication. Perhaps it is because Ely Lilly has several
ties to the Bush family, where George Bush Sr. was a member of the
board of directors. George W. Bush also appointed Ely Lilly C.E.O.
Sidney Taurel to a seat on the Homeland Security Council. Of Ely
Lilly’s $1.6 million political contributions in 2000, 82 percent
went to Republicans and George W. Bush.7
November of 2004, Congress appropriated $20 million8 to implement
the findings of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. This
would include mandatory screening by schools for mental health illnesses.
Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas introduced an amendment to the appropriations
bills which would withhold funding for mandatory mental health screenings
and require parental consent and notification. His amendment, however,
was voted down by a wide margin (95-315 in the House of Representatives).9
Paul, a doctor and long-time member of the American Association
of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) states, “At issue is the
fundamental right of parents to decide what medical treatment is
appropriate for their children. The notion of federal bureaucrats
ordering potentially millions of youngsters to take psychotropic
drugs like Ritalin strikes an emotional chord with American parents.”
Paul says the allegation “that we have a nation of children
with undiagnosed mental disorders crying out for treatment is patently
false,” and warns that mental health screening could be used
to label children whose attitudes, religious beliefs, and political
views conflict with established doctrine. Paul further warns that
an obvious major beneficiary of this legislation is the pharmaceutical
industry. The AAPS has decried this legislation, which they say
will lead to mandatory psychological testing of every child in America
without parental consent, and “heap even more coercive pressure
on parents to medicate children with potentially dangerous side
Update by Jeanne Lenzer:
Whether it’s the pills we take or the oil we use, it would
be reassuring to know that the information used to develop new medicines
or to utilize natural resources wisely is based on science—not
blandishments from Big Pharma to politicians and doctors have a
profound effect on health care in the U.S., making medical research
closer to propaganda than science at times.
way drug companies, in collusion with doctors, increase their market
share is to expand the definition of diseases. When diagnostic criteria
were liberalized for attention deficit disorder in 1991, the number
of children diagnosed jumped by about 60 percent.
American Psychiatric Association (APA) acknowledged in the July
2004 issue of Advocacy News that, “The BMJ story has gained
some traction in derivative reports on the Internet.” But,
they boasted, “mainstream media have not touched the story,
in part thanks to APA’s work, for which the [Bush] Administration
APA’s boast is curious. The article was the most downloaded
article in the history of the BMJ. It clearly struck a nerve with
a public wary of doctors and politicians whose pockets are lined
with drug company money.
the interest in the BMJ story, it would seem that the APA, instead
of attempting to keep the story out of the mainstream media, would
be anxious to counter the widely circulated statements in the article.
It would also seem that the mainstream press could provide the Administration
and the APA the best possible vehicle to counter these supposed
factual errors in the BMJ article.
the facts might prove difficult to square with the public. More
than one in every 100 toddlers and preschoolers in the United States
are on powerful psychiatric drugs, such as Ritalin and Prozac, according
to a study published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of
the American Medical Association.
T. Coyle, M.D., wrote in an accompanying editorial, “It appears
that behaviorally disturbed children are now increasingly subjected
to quick and inexpensive pharmacologic fixes, as opposed to informed
mutimodal therapy.” He concluded, “These disturbing
prescription practices suggest a growing crisis in mental health
services to children and demand more thorough investigation.”
instead of issuing warnings about overmedication or inappropriate
prescribing, the experts on the New Freedom Commission warn ominously
that too few children are receiving treatment for mental illness.
They cite escalating numbers of toddlers expelled from daycare as
evidence of potentially serious psychological problems—problems
to be diagnosed and cured with mental health screening and pills.
Social and economic reasons for the rise in kiddie expulsions are
bad as this is for those put on drugs and labeled “mentally
ill,” the far bigger concern is the creation of a disease
for every drug, a situation made possible by the hand-in-glove relationship
between industry and the government.
Medicating Aliah: http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2005/05/medicating_
for Human Research Protection “http://www.ahrp.org”
#12 Military in
Iraq Contracts Human Rights Violators
Mother Jones, November/December
Warriors: How South African Hitmen, Serbian Paramilitaries, and
Other Human Rights Violators Became Guns for Hire for Military Contractors
Author: Barry Yeoman
March 7, 2005
Author: Pratap Chatterjee
May 11, 2004
Law Key in Iraqi Abuse Scandal”
Author: Jonathan Groner
Rick Williams, JD
The United States government
is contracting private firms to recruit, hire, and train civilians
to perform duties normally done by military personnel. These corporate
employees are sent to fill empty positions as prison guards, military
police, and interrogators at United States military bases worldwide,
including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba. Independent of the United
States military, these employees are not held accountable by military
law. Many of the recruits are citizens with prior experience as
policemen or soldiers. However, a number of the employees have backgrounds
as mercenaries and soldiers who fought for repressive regimes throughout
the world, such as in South Africa, Chile, and Yugoslavia. Employees
from some of these firms have recently been indicated in prisoner
abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Pentagon claims that it can no longer fight the war on terror without
enlisting the help of private contractors. The reason for this inability
is that the number of active troops in the United States military
has dropped from 2.1 million to 1.4 million since the end of the
Cold War. This puts a lot of pressure on companies to fill positions
as quickly as possible. One negative consequence of this rushed
hiring is the lack of in-depth background checks on applicants.
Many recruits have been implicated in past human rights violations,
including torture and killing. One of these ex-soldier-turned-United
States employees was Gary Branfield, who was killed in a firefight
with Iraqi soldiers in the spring of 2004. In the 1980s he was a
covert operations specialist working for the South African apartheid
government. Branfield’s mission was to track down and assassinate
members of the African National Congress living outside of South
Africa. Mysteriously, this information failed to appear during background
checks performed by Branfield’s employer, Hart Group. Hart
Group has been hired by the United States to guard Iraqi energy
facilities and to protect the engineers rebuilding Iraq’s
electricity network. Retired justice of the Constitutional Court
of South Africa Richard Goldstone comments, “The mercenaries
we’re talking about worked for security forces that were synonymous
with murder and torture.”
Titan Corporation, which claims to provide “comprehensive
information and communications products, solutions, and services
for National Security” (www.corpwatch.org),
has a contract with the U.S. to supply translators for the Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq. A 2004 military investigation into prisoner abuses
at Abu Ghraib concluded that “Titan employees actively participated
in detainee abuse, including assault and possibly rape” (Mother
Jones, 2004). However, the only legal action taken against Titan
as of yet is in the U.S. district court for the Southern district
of California, where the Abu Ghraib prisoners have filed a class
action suit against the employees of Titan. Employees of California
Analysis Center Incorporated (CACI) were also found to have participated
in the abuse. Plaintiffs in this suit are demanding a jury trial,
but the process is moving slowly. Jeffrey Ellefante, executive vice
president at CACI, says that CACI has yet to be informed of the
specific accusations against its employees. Oddly enough, the soldiers
implicated in the abuse have already been court martialed under
the Military Code of Conduct.
why is there a discrepancy between the punishment of soldiers and
that of independent employees for the same crime? The answer is
legal ramifications. While United States military personnel are
subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, independent contractors
working through the Pentagon as civilians are not. Because of this,
Congress passed the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA)
in 2000 to enable the prosecution of civilians “employed by
or accompanying U.S. armed forces” (www.law.com). Unfortunately,
MEJA can only be applied to civilian employees who are contracted
through the Department of Defense (DOD), and to crimes committed
overseas that would merit a minimum one-year sentence under Federal
law. Currently there is an investigation into the deaths of Iraqi
prisoners after having been questioned by private interrogators
hired by the CIA. If found guilty, these interrogators may be let
off on a technicality because they work for the CIA, not the DOD,
like MEJA requires.
begs the question, under whose jurisdiction do these crimes fall?
In an attempt to answer this, the Defense Department proposed new
regulation earlier this year that “would require DOD contractors
to make sure their employees comply with the Uniform Code of Military
Justice where applicable” (www.law.com.) Debate over this
proposal will open on May 24, 2005. Critic Daniel Guttman, fellow
at John Hopkins University, questions the “where applicable”
phrase saying, “it says the Uniform Code applies where applicable,
but when is that?...They seem to be making policy on the run”
(www.law.com). As for now, the Pentagon claims that it, “is
not in the business of policing contractors’ hiring practices,”
therefore it may take many more cases like Abu Ghraib before the
U.S. government steps in to regulate the unlimited power that these
private contractors are brandishing.
Update by Barry Yeoman:
This was the first major article to systemically link the issues
of military privatization with human rights abuses. We explained
how the recent growth of a private security industry, fueled by
the invasion of Iraq, necessitated the hiring of former soldiers
and police officers trained and experienced in assassination and
torture in formerly repressive countries.
radio stations have interviewed me about this article. Among the
radio shows are “Political Thought,” WMAR, Poughkeepsie
NY; “The Morning Zone,” KGAB, Cheyenne WY; and Ian Masters’
Background Briefing, KPFK-FM, Los Angeles CA. The last of these
interviews can be accessed at http://www.barryyeoman.com/biography.html.
column called “Coalition of Willing is Dwindling” in
the Paradise Post (CA) quoted from it. I have done extensive interviews
with a European television network, which is producing a documentary
on the subject.
International has a petition drive seeking accountability for private
contractors at Abu Ghraib: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/action/
are several excellent resources on the growth of this industry:
Peter Singer’s book “Corporate Warriors: The Rise of
the Privatized Military Industry” (Cornell University Press,
2003) and the Center for Public Integrity’s 11-part investigation
“Making a Killing: The Business of War” http://www.
publicintegrity.org/bow/ are but a few.
#13 Rich Countries
Fail to Live up to Global Pledges
Oxfam Press Release,
December 6, 2004
Are Paying the Price of Rich Countries’ Failure”
Author: Caroline Green
OneWorld U.S., December 6, 2004
Title: “45 Million
Children to Die in Next Decade Due to Rich Countries’ Miserliness”
Author: Jim Lobe
Maureen Buckley, Ph. D.
children will needlessly die between now and the year 2015, reveals
the report by Oxfam, “Poor Are Paying the Price of Rich Countries’
Failure.” According to this report, 97 million more children
will be denied access to an education by the year 2015 and 53 million
more people will lack proper sanitation facilities. Ending poverty
will require assistance on many levels. For third world countries,
economic growth is undermined by unfair trade rules. Without finance
and support, these countries will not be able to take advantage
of global trade, investment opportunities, or protect basic human
countries such as the U.S., Germany, Japan, and the UK have promised
to provide a very small fraction of their wealth to third world
countries. By offering .7 percent of their gross national income,
they could reduce poverty and end the burden of debt that makes
low income countries pay up to $100 million per day to creditors.
In the years 1960-65, wealthy countries spent on average 0.48 percent
of their combined national incomes on official development assistance
but by the year 2003 the proportion had dropped to 0.24 percent.
Vital poverty-reduction programs are failing for the lack of finance.
Cambodia and Tanzania are among the poorest countries in the world,
yet they will require at least double the level of external financing
that they currently receive if they are to achieve their poverty-reduction
initiatives to enable poor countries to develop provisional education
and combat HIV/AIDS are starved of cash. Despite the fact that HIV
infection rates are rising in sub-Saharan Africa, the global fund
to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is assured of only one
quarter of the funds that it needs for 2005. Poor countries continue
to spend more paying back their creditors than they do on essential
public services. Low-income countries paid $39 billion in debt payments
and interest in 2003, while they received only $27 billion in aid.
countries can easily afford to deliver the necessary aid and debt
relief. For wealthy countries such as the U.S. to spend merely 0.7
percent of gross national income on humanitarian aid is equal to
one-fifth of its expenditure on defense and one half of what it
spends on domestic farm subsidies. The U.S., at just 0.14 percent,
is the least generous provider of aid in proportion to national
income of any developed country. By comparison, Norway is the most
generous provider at 0.92 percent. The U.S. is spending more than
twice as much on the war in Iraq as it would cost to increase its
aid budget to 0.7 percent, and six times more on its military program.
Canceling the debts of the 32 poorest countries would be small change
for the wealthy nations.
of children are now in school in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi,
and Zambia, thanks to money provided by foreign aid and debt relief.
Because of these relief funds, Ugandans no longer have to pay for
basic health care. A policy was implemented that resulted in an
increase of 50 to 100 percent in attendance at Ugandan health clinics
and doubled the rate on immunities. History also shows that aid
has been necessary in eradicating global diseases as well as rebuilding
countries devastated by war.
wealthiest of nations have continuously signed international statements
pledging to increase foreign aid to 0.7 percent of their gross national
income in order to eliminate the crippling debts of third world
countries. Repeatedly, they have broken their promises.
Win Big on Tort Reform, Justice Suffers
Dollars and Sense,
Issue #252, March/April 2004
Limit Punitive Damages”
Author: Jamie Court
Democracy now! Feb
reform: The Big Payoff for Corporations, Curbing the Lawsuits that
Hold Them Accountable”
Author: Amy Goodman
et al (Juan Gonzalez interview with Joanne Doroshow)
Perry Marker, Ph. D.
On February 18, 2005,
President Bush signed into law the most sweeping federal tort reform
measure in more than a decade. The Class Action Fairness Act puts
into effect a tort reform that will take away people’s access
to the courts, undermining the constitutional right to trial by
jury. These reforms weaken consumer and worker protections, denying
due process of law in civil cases to all but the wealthiest in our
society. The act will move many civil lawsuits from state to federal
courts in an attempt to end so-called “forum shopping”
by trial lawyers seeking districts most hospitable to multi-party
suits against companies.
has been lost in all the partisan rhetoric is the fact that class
action suits are most often lawsuits brought by people who have
been hurt by HMO abuses, civil rights violations, or workplace injuries
and violations. These are the suits that allow for compensation
when large numbers of people are hurt by companies in the pursuit
of profit. Although, at times, individual injuries may be relatively
small, they represent a pattern of behavior on the part of the defendant.
While legal recourse may not be available on an individual level,
by joining together at the state level, people have been able to
affect responsible change in the conduct of corporations. Federal
courts are not expert in these cases, are already overburdened,
and are much smaller than state courts. Critics claim that the real
intention of this law is to make sure these cases get buried quickly
and are ultimately dismissed.
to this bill is a mass tort section that will severely restrict
large class action suits against pharmaceutical companies and paves
the way for medical malpractice reform, effectively immunizing abusive
or negligent corporations from liability.
reform sets a cap of $250,000 per lawsuit while shielding drug companies
from responsibility for punitive damages and lawsuits where the
drug had been approved by the FDA. One woman who was taking the
FDA approved drug Vioxx, for example, had a stroke and continued
taking the drug because she wasn’t warned of its major side
effect—stroke. She went on to have a second stroke. The new
reform would limit her settlement to $250,000 for a lifetime of
disabilities. Under this new legislation corporations will not be
held accountable for their faulty products and will only be punished
with a slap on the wrist in terms of financial payment.
Update by Jamie Court:
The Supreme Court ruling in Campbell seems to be an eye-glazing
experience for the mainstream media. For example, the press ignored
the significance of the ruling in covering the Congressional debate
over 2005 legislation signed into law by President Bush that created
new hurdles to class action lawsuits. Given the Campbell ruling’s
limits, the new class action restrictions give a virtual guarantee
to banks, insurers, drug makers, and other big industries that no
matter how egregious their conduct, the penalty will always be financially
manageable. Indeed if the media had taken more notice of the ruling,
President Bush’s campaign plank of limiting lawsuits of all
kind would be seen in a far different light.
the State Farm v. Campbell case at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/.
Plan to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom
Source: The Nation
Title: “The New
Author: Russell Jacoby
Date of Publication:
April 4, 2005
Vanessa Dern, Theodora Ruhs
For centuries, the
higher education classroom has been a haven for honest debate and
protected academic freedom. The college professor, one of the last
“rugged individualists,” had the freedom to teach a
given subject in his or her own manner, as he or she saw it. The
interpretation of the subject matter was the professors own, not
a representation of a “liberal” or “conservative”
halls of academia have included a wide variety of perspectives,
from Newt Gingrich and William F. Buckley Jr. to Noam Chomsky and
his article “The New PC,” Russell Jacoby addresses a
new extremist conservative movement to bring what they say is “political
balance” to higher education. These conservatives see academia
as a hotbed of liberal activity that is working to indoctrinate
America’s youth with leftwing ideology, citing studies that
conclude that faculty of most universities are overwhelmingly liberal.
They fear that these liberal faculty members are abusing students
who profess conservative belief systems, and to remedy this they
are pushing for regulation of the academic world to monitor professors’
_expression of theory and opinion.
the forefront of this movement is David Horowitz and his academic
watchdog organization, Students for Academic Freedom (SAF). SAF
counsels its student members that, when they come across an ‘abuse’
like controversial material in a course, they are to write down
the date, class and name of the professor. They are advised to accumulate
a list of incidents or quotes, obtain witnesses, and lodge a complaint.
Many in the academic world see these actions as a new McCarthy-ism—an
effort to sniff out those who do not subscribe to the ‘dominant’
belief structure of the nation.
his student watch group, Horowitz is also championing a “Student
Bill of Rights.” Ironically, this bill claims to protect academic
freedom. It proposes some ideas that are commonsense, such as, “students
will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and
appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study,
not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.”1
But Jacoby warns that academic freedoms extended to students easily
turn into the end of freedom for teachers. In Horowitz’s society
of rights, students would have the right to hear all sides of all
subjects all the time. Principle #4 of Horowitz’s academic
bill of rights states that curricula and reading lists “should
reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge,”
and provide “students with dissenting sources and viewpoints
where appropriate.” The bill does not, however, distinguish
when or where dissenting viewpoints are, or are not, appropriate.
SAF website has a section for students to post ‘abuses’
and complaints about their academic experiences. Perusing these
postings, Jacoby found one student reporting an ‘abuse’
in an introductory Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution class,
“where military approaches were derided. The student complained
that ‘the only studying of conflict resolution that we did
was to enforce the idea that non-violent means were the only legitimate
sources of self-defense.” Jacoby points out the irony, “presumably
the professor of ‘peace studies’ should be ordered to
give equal time to ‘war studies.’ By this principle,
should the United States Army War College be required to teach pacifism?”
From this point the movement seems to be rendered ridiculous.
authors, including Jacoby, point out the hypocrisy of Horowitz’s
focus on the humanities and education in general. The conservatives
who feel such an urgency to protect the freedoms of conservative
students in the humanities and to balance out the ratio of liberal
to conservative faculty are in no rush to sort out the inequalities
in business schools where the trend often appears to be the opposite,
with the liberals in the minority. And as Jacoby points out, “of
course, they do not address such imbalances in the police force,
Pentagon, FBI, CIA, and other government outfits where the stakes
seem far higher and where, presumably, followers of Michael Moore
are short in supply.”
the apparent circus, this movement poses a real threat to the academic
world. Whether or not the Student Bill of Rights passes in any of
the state legislatures, where it stands as of Spring 2005, is not
as important as how it influences public opinion. Already this movement
has led to attacks and firings of a number of professors for their
left leaning viewpoints. Ward Churchill, from the University of
Colorado, was threatened with termination for using the term “little
Eichmanns” to describe World Trade Center workers.2 Oneida
Mernato, a political science professor at Metropolitan State College
of Denver, was also harassed for her liberal bias in class.3 And
more recently, self-proclaimed anarchist David Graeber was fired,
he believes, for his personal political activity, and for standing
up for a student organizer who he felt was being treated unfairly.4,5
also aims to affect other areas of government involvement in academia,
specifically funding. Proclaiming that academics are “a privileged
elite that work between six to nine hours a week, eight months a
year for an annual salary of about $150,000 a year,”6 Horowitz
further claims that he is “dedicated to exposing the cowards
who run our universities to the alumni and taxpayers who pay their
salaries. State Senator Larry Mumper argues, “Why should we,
as fairly moderate to conservative legislators, continue to support
universities that turn out students who rail against the very policies
that their parents voted us in for?”7
for Academic Freedom. “The Student Bill of Rights.”
#16 U.S. Plans
for Hemispheric Integration Include Canada
Centre for Research
on Globalisation, November 23, 2004
Title: “Is the
Annexation of Canada Part of Bush’s Military Agenda?”
Author: Michel Chossudovsky
Jan/Feb 2005, Winnipeg: Vol.39, Iss.1; pg. 12
Chance to Keep Space for Peace”
Author: Bruce K. Gagnon
Sherril Jaffe, Ph. D.
The U.S. and Canada
have been sharing national information since the creation of NORAD
(North American Aerospace Defense Command) in 1958. This bi-national
agreement to provide aerospace warning and control for North America
is scheduled to expire in May 2006. In preparation for the renewal
of this contract, the U.S. and Canadian commanders are proposing
to expand the integration of the two countries, including cooperation
in the “Star Wars” program, cross-national integration
of military command structures, immigration, law enforcement, and
intelligence gathering and sharing under the new title of NORTHCOM,
U.S. Northern Command.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien refused to join NORTHCOM.
To circumvent his decision, this “illusive transitional military”
(aka NORAD/NORTHCOM) formed an interim military authority in December
2002, called the Bi-National Planning Group (BPG.) The command structure
is fully integrated between NORAD, NORTHCOM and the BPG. The BPG
is neither accountable to the U.S. Congress nor the Canadian House
of Commons. The BPG is also scheduled to expire in May 2006. Hence,
the push for Canada to join NORTHCOM.
Rumsfeld said that U.S. Northern Command would have jurisdiction
over the entire North American region. NORTHCOM’s jurisdiction,
outlined by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), includes all of
Canada, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, contiguous waters in the
Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles of the Mexican, U.S.
and Canadian coastlines as well as the Canadian Artic.
NORTHCOM, Canada’s military command structures would be subordinated
to those of the Pentagon and the DoD. In December 2001, the Canadian
government reached an agreement with the head of Homeland Security
Tom Ridge, entitled the “Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration.”
This agreement essentially hands over confidential information on
Canadian citizens and residents to the U.S. Department of Homeland.
It also provides U.S. authorities with access to tax records of
Canadians. The National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, currently
debated in the U.S. Senate, centers on a so-called ‘Information
Sharing Network’ to coordinate data from ‘all available
BPG is the interim military for NORTHCOM. Part of the BPG’s
agenda is the Civil Assistance Plan (CAP) which supports the ongoing
militarization of the civilian law enforcement and judicial functions
in both the U.S. and Canada. Military commanders would “provide
bi-national military assistance to civil authorities.” The
U.S. military would have jurisdiction over Canadian territory from
coast to coast, extending from the St. Laurence Valley to the Parry
Island in the Canadian Arctic.
appears that some Canadian leaders are in full support of this program.
In the summer 2004, Canada agreed to amend the NORAD treaty to allow
sharing satellite and radar data with the ballistic missile defense
program based in Colorado. This operation center will control the
40 interceptor rockets planned for Alaska, California and at sea.
February 22, 2005, at the NATO summit in Brussels, Canadian Prime
Minister Paul Martin declared that his people would not participate
in the controversial Missile Defense Shield. Contradicting this
message, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. (and former board member
of the Caryle Group) Frank McKenna, said “We are part of it
August 2, 2004, the U.S. Air Force quietly published a new doctrine
called “Counterspace Operations.” The development of
offensive counterspace capabilities provides combatant commanders
with new tools for counterspace operations…that may be utilized
throughout the spectrum of conflict and may achieve a variety of
effects from temporary denial to complete destruction of the adversary’s
space capability. It has also been noted that Canadian Military
personnel are taking part in large scale American space war games
designed to prepare for combat in orbit.
an integrated North American Command, Canada would be forced to
embrace Washington’s pre-emptive military doctrine, including
the use of nuclear warheads as a means of self defense, which was
ratified by the U.S. Senate in December 2003.
bi-national negotiations are being conducted with Mexico. U.S. military
could exert strategic control over air space, land mass and contiguous
territorial waters extending from the Yucatan peninsula in southern
Mexico to the Canadian Arctic, representing 12 percent of the world’s
land mass. The militarization of South America under the “Andean
Trade Preference Act” as well as the signing of a “parallel”
military cooperation protocol by 27 countries of the Americas (the
so-called Declaration of Manaus) is an integral part of the process
of hemispheric integration (see story #17).
N. Haass, of the U.S. Department of State, said at the 2002 Arthur
Ross Lecture, “In the 21st century, the principal aim of American
foreign policy is to integrate other countries and organizations
into arrangements that will sustain a world consistent with U.S.
interests and values, and thereby promote peace, prosperity and
justice as widely as possible. Integration reflects not merely a
hope for the future, but the emerging reality of the Bush Administration’s
#17 U.S. Uses South
American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region
Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists, Jan/Feb 2005
the Deal at Manta”
Author: Michael Flynn
NACLA Report on the
Americas, Nov/Dec 2004
Militarization in the Americas”
Authors: Adam Isacson,
Lisa Haugaard and Joy Olson
Z Magazine, December
Shill (proxy) Country For U.S. Intervention In Venezuela”
Authors: Sohan Sharma
and Surinder Kumar
Jorge Porras, Ph. D.
Adrienne Smith, Sarah Kintz
The United States has
a military base in Manta, Ecuador, one of the three military bases
located in Latin America. According to the United States, we are
there to help the citizens of Manta, but an article in the Bulletin
of Atomic Scientists says that many people tell a different story.
to Miguel Moran, head of a group called Movimiento Tohalli, which
opposes the Manta military base, “Manta is part of a broader
U.S. imperialist strategy aimed at exploiting the continent’s
natural resources, suppressing popular movements, and ultimately
invading neighboring Colombia.” Michael Flynn reported that
the military base in Ecuador is an “integral part of the U.S.
counterinsurgency strategy in Colombia—and is a potential
staging ground for direct American involvement in the conflict there.
Ecuadorians worry that the U.S. could ultimately pull their country
into conflict.” Flynn goes on to say that “the base
is also at the center of a growing controversy regarding the U.S.
efforts to block mass emigration from Ecuador [to the U.S.].”
Policy makers have diminished the difference between police roles
and military roles, stating that a police force is a body designed
to protect a population through minimal use of force and the military,
which aims to defeat an enemy through use of force.
to a ten-year lease agreement between Ecuador and the United States,
“... U.S. activities at the base are to be limited to counter-narcotics
surveillance flights (the agreements for the other two Latin American
Forward Operating Locations contain similar restrictions).”
Ecuadorian citizens are not pleased with the lease or the way the
U.S. has abused it. “A coalition of social and labor organizations
has called for the termination of the U.S. lease in Manta on the
grounds that the United States has violated both the terms of the
agreement and Ecuadorian law.”
U.S., says Flynn, is intervening in Colombia through private corporations
and organizations. Most of the military operations and the spraying
of biochemical agents are contracted out to private firms and private
armies. In 2003, according to the article in Z Magazine, the U.S.
State Department said, “...there are seventeen primary contracting
companies working in Colombia, initially receiving $3.5 million.”
One of these private American defense contractors, DynCorp, runs
the military base at Manta. “The Pentagon’s decision
to give DynCorp—a company that many Latin Americans closely
associate with U.S. activities in Colombia—the contract to
administer the base reinforced fears that the United States had
more than drug interdiction in mind when it set up shop in Manta,”
addition, say Sharma and Kumar, DynCorp was awarded a “$600
million contract to carry out aerial spraying to eliminate coca
crops which also contaminates maize, Yucca, and plantains-staple
foods of the population; children and adults develop skin rashes.”
The chemical, the foundation for the herbicide Roundup, is sprayed
in Ecuador in a manner that would be illegal in the United States.
to the NACLA report, in 2004, the Pentagon began installing 3 substitute
logistics centers (now under construction) in the provinces of Guayas,
Azuay, and Sucumbios, and is currently militarizing the Ecuadorian
police who are receiving “anti-terrorist” training by
the FBI. The U.S. military is also aiding Colombia’s “war
on drugs.” Isacson, Haugaard and Olson write that, “increased
militarization of antinarcotics operation is a pretext for stepped
up counterinsurgency action and extending the war against them by
the U.S.” Washington also has seven security offices in Ecuador:
defense (DAO), drug enforcement (DEA), military aid (MAAG), internal
security, national security (NSA), the U.S. Agency for Internal
Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA). According to the Bush Administration they are mixing
military and police roles to “...govern its counter-terror
efforts in the hemisphere.”
Flynn offers this quote from an Ecuadorian writer as another example
of the United States intervening in the operations of another country
to further its own agenda: “The U.S. invasion of Iraq and
the pressure on Ecuador to sign the interdiction agreement form
part of a policy aimed at consolidating a unipolar world with one
Update by Michael Flynn:
I think one important aspect of my story about the Manta base is
that it shows the arrogance that often characterizes U.S. relations
with its southern neighbors. This arrogance comes with a heavy price,
which the U.S. is paying now as South American leaders express an
ever greater willingness to take an independent path in their affairs
and reject the U.S. lead. This fact was clearly revealed recently
when the Organization of American States soundly rejected a U.S.
proposal to set up a mechanism to review the state of democracy
in the Americas. Manta is a small part of this much larger picture.
U.S. ambassadors, the head of Southcom, even representatives in
Congress have shown a disregard for Ecuadorian concerns about operations
at the Manta base, which has helped fan criticism of the base, and
has turned into a lightning rod of criticism of U.S. policies. And
this is only one of among dozens of similar bases spread out across
the globe—what impact are they having on U.S. relations?
equally important issue touched on in my story is the U.S. reaction
to the migration crises that has gripped several Latin countries
in recent years. Manta is a sort of quasi-outpost of the U.S. southern
border, which has shown remarkable flexibility in recent years.
The fact is, the border itself ceased long ago to be the front line
in the effort to stop unwanted migration. The United States uses
military bases located in host countries as staging grounds for
detention efforts. It has funded detention centers in places like
Guatemala City, and it has teamed up with law enforcement officials
from other countries to carry out multi-lateral operations aimed
at breaking up migrant smuggling activities. Manta is one piece
in this larger puzzle.
my knowledge, the mainstream press has not picked up on the precise
story lines covered in my article. On the other hand, the press
has not altogether ignored these issues either. Ginger Thompson
of the New York Times has tracked the plight of migrants in several
Latin American countries, and last year she teamed up with an Ecaudorean
journalist to produce a remarkable story about the harrowing experience
of migrants who dare to board the smuggling vessels leaving Ecuadorean
shores. They did not, however, scrutinize Manta’s role in
interdicting these migrants, or address the many problematic aspects
of U.S. overseas interdiction practices. Regarding U.S. overseas
military bases, the recent turmoil in Uzbekistan has drawn the attention
of the U.S. press to contradictions in U.S. policy that have emerged
between its desire to have bases in strategic spots around the world
and President Bush’s promise to advocate democratic change
across the globe. Also, Dana Priest of the Washington Post has done
excellent work reporting on the role of U.S. bases and military
commanders around the globe. See, for example, Priest’s The
Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military
(New York: Norton, 2003). Several alternative press outlets have
also tracked this issue, including for example Mother Jones magazine,
which ran a story by Chalmers Johnson on this issue, and the Nation
Institute’s Tom Engelhardt, who has run a number of pieces
in his TomDispatch touching on U.S. overseas bases.
For additional information: For those
interested in following up on the Manta base, the best source of
information online is the web site of the Ecuadorean daily: El Universo
would also suggest looking at the studies about U.S. forward operation
locations published by the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute
find out more about U.S. cross-border interdiction policies, a story
that has been woefully under-reported in the United States, I suggest
taking a look at other stories I have written on this subject, some
of which are available on the web site of the International Reporting
to get a global perspective of U.S. basing ambitions, I suggest
perusing the May 2005 report of the U.S. Overseas Basing Commission,
which is available online at http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/obc.pdf.
Update by Lisa Haugaard:
While the nation is focused on events in Iraq and Afghanistan, 9/11
has also had a disturbing impact on U.S. policy toward Latin America.
But the growth in U.S. military programs towards Latin America and
the unfortunate emphasis by the United States on encouraging non-defense
related roles for militaries is part of a more general trend that
the Center for International Policy, Latin America Working Group
Education Fund and Washington Office on Latin America have been
documenting since 1997. Latin American civil society organizations,
individuals and governmental leaders have struggled hard to strictly
limit their militaries’ involvement in civilian affairs, given
that many militaries in the region had exercised severe repression,
carried out military coups and maintained political control during
several turbulent decades. After this painful history, it is troubling
for the United States to be encouraging militaries to once again
adopt non-defense related roles, as is the growing weight of U.S.
military, rather than regional development aid in U.S. relations.
are seeing a continuation of the general trend of declining U.S.
development assistance and stable military aid to the region as
well as the United States encouraging actions that blur the line
between civilian police and military roles. We are also witnessing
efforts by the Defense Department to exercise greater control over
“security assistance”(foreign military aid programs)
worldwide, which were once overseen exclusively by the State Department.
This almost invisible shift-—by no means limited to Latin
America—is disturbing because it removes the State Department
as the lead agency in deciding where foreign military aid and training
is appropriate as part of U.S. foreign policy. It will lead to less
stringent oversight of military programs and less emphasis upon
human rights conditionality.
Our report, which we published in Spanish, received good coverage
from the Latin American press. Mainstream U.S. newspapers regularly
use our military aid database. The larger story about the general
trends in U.S. military aid in Latin America and changes in oversight
of foreign military programs, however, is one that has been covered
by only a few major media outlets.
see our military aid database, reports and other information (a
collaborative project by the three organizations) see our “Just
the Facts” website, http://www.ciponline.org/facts.
See also our organizations’ websites: Washington Office on
Latin America, www.wola.org; Center for
International Policy, www. ciponline.org; and Latin America Working
Group Education Fund, www.lawg.org.
welcome efforts by journalists, scholars and nongovernmental organizations
to insist upon greater transparency and public oversight of U.S.
military training programs, not just in Latin America but worldwide.
#18 Little Known
Stock Fraud Could Weaken U.S. Economy
San Antonio Express-News—March
Short Selling Is A Plague For Businesses And Investors”
Author: David Hendricks
Behind Naked Shorting?”
Author: Karl Thiel
Donaldson Addresses Liquidity Fraud,” September 20, 2004;
Cancelled and Attorney Accuses DTCC of Cheap Thuggery,” April
Author: Dave Patch
Wingham Liddell, Ph.D.
The negligence of government
regulatory agencies and the media is becoming worrisome as a major
scandal, unknown outside the financial community, is bankrupting
small businesses and investors and having a negative effect on the
the balance of supply and demand is a fairly well known principle
of economic health, a related and similar relationship exists between
liquidity—the availability of liquid, spendable assets such
as cash, stocks and bonds—and security—the stability,
endurance and trustworthiness of more long-term financial mechanisms.
healthy economy requires both enough access to liquid assets to
ensure a smooth and flexible flow of money and a system that guarantees
enough stability, protection and security for investors to take
a reasonable measure of risk without having excessive fears of losing
their money. Unreasonable emphasis on the first requirement and
not enough attention to the second is a trend that has developed
in the last decade and may have more to do with ideology than sound
economic policy. Liquidity fraud and naked shorting abuses as described
in this article are a symptom of a greater problem within our economic
culture. This lopsided philosophy of economic regulation is a significant
factor in creating the kind of climate that has produced company
scandals like Enron and WorldCom, as well as a careless attitude
towards free trade and globalization that may create more costs
than benefits in the name of “economic growth.”
scandal coined “Stockgate” by the Financial Wire involves
the abuse of a practice called “short selling.” As opposed
to a traditional approach to investing in which stocks are researched
and bought on the hope they will rise over the “long”
term, going “short” involves a bet that a stock is about
to go down in value. In a short sale, an investor sells stock that
he or she technically doesn’t own. The investor borrows these
shares of stock from their broker, who in turn may likely borrow
the shares himself from a financial clearinghouse like a brokerage
firm or hedge fund. Hoping that the price of the stock will drop,
the investor is obligated to eventually “close” the
short by buying back the sold shares at a hopefully lower price,
thus making a profit from the fall of the stock. When the time runs
out for “covering” the short and the price hasn’t
dropped, the investor is forced to buy back the shares at a loss
and take a financial hit. The short sale of stocks is a risky bet,
usually not recommended except for speculation or hedging—to
protect long-term financial positions with short-term offsets. As
short-selling is a sale of stocks not owned, but loaned, it is an
example of buying on margin—a category of practices whose
abuses stand out clearly in many people’s minds as a significant
factor in the Stock Market Crash of 1929 which ushered in the Great
shorting is an illegal abuse of short selling in which investors
short-sell stock that they have no intention or ability to ever
cover. When allowed to occur, naked shorting drives the stock value
of a company down by creating more stock shares flowing around the
market than actual shares of stock that the company can back with
their current earnings. Companies, their shareholders, and indeed
the entire economy are hurt financially by naked shorting, as it
reduces the money available to support economic growth. According
to activist Dave Patch, ”Naked shorting steals some of the
greatest ideas, products, and services in America. Small micro-cap
companies are driven out of business by this abuse and we are left
with the unknowns of what these companies and their employees had
to offer our futures. The opportunities for the next Microsoft may
never be felt as naked shorting snuffed out that creativity before
it was ever brought to fruition. Ultimately, naked shorting steals
from the very foundation of our nation as it steals the American
dream of opportunity.”
and other investors hurt by or concerned about the consequences
of naked shorting organized, petitioned and investigated the background
surrounding the Stockgate scandal. What they found was not merely
a series of noteworthy cases of extravagant abuse by individual
investors and professionals, but a systemic pattern of negligence
by regulators that allowed the abuse to go by largely unchecked.
A whole series of checks and balances was originally designed to
prevent abuses like naked shorting. Yet, as their research has shown,
every regulator along the way has failed its duty and led to both
widespread and high-figure abuse. While investors have lost hundreds
of billions of dollars in savings, the Wall Street Firms responsible
for the abuse saw negligible fines that had no appreciable impact
on their stock values. Some executives were even given raises in
the midst of their negligence and fraud!
more pressure has been brought against regulatory agencies to stop
the fraud and enforce rules, an opposition has come forth that actually
favors allowing the illegal practice to continue unchecked. These
critics argue that all short sales, including illegal naked shorts,
help bust the hype that can surround micro-cap companies. Excitement
over new but untried ideas can artificially inflate stock prices,
causing eventual losses to companies and investors when the bubble
bursts, as in the case of the dot-com boom of the ’90s.
it is true, as the critics argue, that removing naked shorting could
in some cases allow hyped prices to climb further, such an effect
is vastly overrated. The argument does not take many other financial
factors into account, such as the increased efficiency in the flow
of information and shares that eliminating naked shorting would
create or the fact that legal short selling could provide the same
protections. Many securities analysts say it is fallacious to assert
that the only recourse to the adjustment in hype and price securities
is to allow an illegal practice to continue.
same enforcement of already existing rules by regulators could curb
hype just as much as it curbs naked shorts. A proactive stance by
the financial community in informing and educating the public could
also prevent the pump and dump schemes that such critics say would
be the consequence of ending naked shorting.
it is the very organizations that did little to stop the dot-com
problem from getting out of hand while it was occurring that now
cry out at the prospect of the SEC stepping up to protect small
investors from naked shorting. Of particular interest is the fact
that much of this criticism comes out of the Depository Trust Commission
(DTCC), which takes a share of profits from every short sale and
is currently fighting off lawsuits accusing it of impropriety in
a number of areas. The DTCC is also alleged to have brought pressure
to bear on media corporations such as General Electric to suppress
the story from being reported. GE’s NBC Dateline program obtained
an exclusivity contract to cover the Stockgate scandal over a year
ago, and then postponed the episode indefinitely. Officially, Dateline
claims that a slew of more important stories than this widespread
financial scandal have caused the delay. At the time of this writing,
however, they are preparing to air an Al Roker interview with an
American Idol finalist.
David Sedore, “Hedge
Fund Assets Frozen”: March 4, 2005; “Hedge Fund Virtually
Bare”: March 12, 2005; etc. The Palm Beach Post—KL Financial
PrimeZone Media Network,
“First American Scientific Corp. Takes Counter Measures to
Stop ‘Naked Shorting’ of its Stock”—December
#19 Child Wards
of the State Used in AIDS Experiments
Allegedly Used Children as Laboratory Animals”
Author: Antony Barnett
is based on the original research of Liam Scheff which can be viewed
Democracy Now! December
Pig Kids: How New York City is Using Children to Test Experimental
Mainstream Media Coverage:
Fox News Network, The O’Reilley Factor, March 10, 2004, CBS
Morning News, February 2, 2005.
Jeanette Koshar, Ph. D.
Mike Cattivera, Kiel Eorio
Orphans as young as
three months old were used as test subjects in AIDS drug trials
in New York’s Incarnation Children’s Center. The Center,
which is run by Catholic Charities, specializes in treating HIV
sufferers, and the drug trials were performed on children with HIV
or who were born to HIV-positive mothers. The New York City Health
Department is looking into claims that more than 100 children at
Incarnation were used in as many as 36 experiments. Most of these
experiments were sponsored by federal agencies such as the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
obtained by the UK Observer have implicated British pharmaceutical
giant GlaxoSmithKline’s involvement in at least four experiments
conducted at Incarnation since 1995 using black and Hispanic children.
Several trials were conducted to test the toxicity of AIDS drugs.
In one trial, children as young as four received a high-dosage cocktail
of seven drugs; another tested the reaction of six-month-olds to
a double dosage of a measles vaccine. Other studies conducted on
children included testing AZT, which can carry dangerous side effects,
as well as testing the long term safety of anti-bacterial drugs
on six-month old babies. GlaxoSmithKline also used children to “obtain
tolerance, safety and pharmacokinetic data” for Herpes drugs.
trials were conducted by Columbia University Medical Center doctors.
A spokesperson for Columbia University said that there have been
no trials at Incarnation since 2000, and that the consent for using
the children as test subjects was provided by the Administration
for Children’s Services. Consent was based upon a panel of
doctors and lawyers who decided whether or not the benefits of allowing
the child to receive the drugs outweighed the risks (although it
was unclear what recipient “benefits” referred to).
Though GlaxoSmithKline has acknowledged their involvement in the
trials at Incarnation, they deny any wrongdoing. According to their
spokesperson: “These studies were implemented by the U.S.
Aids Clinical Trial Group, a clinical research network paid for
by the National Institutes of Health. Glaxo’s involvement
in such studies would have been to provide study drugs or funding
but we would have no interactions with the patients.”
medical community has defended these studies, saying it enabled
children, normally without access to treatment, the opportunity
to receive AIDS drugs. However, many, outraged at these studies,
argue there is a difference between providing children with the
latest AIDS drugs and using them for experimentation. According
to Antony Barnett, several experiments were considered to be Phase
1 trials, which are among the most dangerous. These drugs are similar
to those used in chemotherapy and carry serious side effects. Critics
also argue that it is difficult to test babies for HIV, and results
are often incorrect; therefore many of these trials may have been
conducted on babies or children not actually infected with HIV.
trials at New York’s Incarnation Children’s Center were
part of a broader series of HIV and AIDS drug trials that were conducted
in at least seven states on foster children. Some children died
during the trials. However, government officials have so far found
no evidence that their deaths could be directly connected to the
#20 American Indians
Sue for Resources; Compensation Provided to Others
LiP, Winter 2004
Us, We’re the Government: How to Make $137 Billion of Indian
Author: Brian Awehali
News from Indian Country,
March 8, 2004
Wealth of Resources, Many Tribes Still Live in Poverty”
Author: Angie Wagner
Mainstream Media Coverage:
New York Times, April 7, 2004, and the Washington Post, March 14,
Keith Pike MA
Native Americans, after
more than two centuries, are still being cheated by the government
and U.S. companies. Oil companies operate at Montezuma Creek in
Utah. Montezuma Creek lies on a Navajo Reservation. The companies
have under-compensated the Native Americans for the right to their
natural resources since the 1950s. District court-appointed invesigator
Alan Balaran discovered that non-Native Americans in the same area
received royalties that amounted to more than 20 times the amount
of the Native Americans on the reservation.
American reservations are filled with natural resources, but the
government has routinely allowed energy companies to short-change
the tribes. In Balaran’s findings it shows that the government
owes Native Americans as much as $137.5 billion in back royalties.
The issue of the government keeping funds from Native Americans
dates back to the Dawes Act of 1887. The Dawes act created a trust
fund for Native Americans over the years; since then the government
has grossly mismanaged revenues from oil, timber and mineral leases
on tribal land.
to Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, many Native
Americans depend on these royalty checks for the bare necessities.
The Navajo Nation has more than 140,000 members and is the country’s
largest tribe. It is also one of the poorest. More than 40 percent
of its people live in poverty while the median household annual
income is $20,000, less than half of the national median. Mary Johnson,
a Navajo tribe member, who lives in a one bedroom stone house off
the main highway, once received a royalty check for $5.30. These
required checks are commonly paid out in sporadic intervals.
Martinez, a 68-year-old Navajo, lives out of a trailer that is pulled
by his pickup truck. His “home” is just yards away from
where gas pipelines sit on the family land. He has no running water
and sometimes no electricity. There are even times when he doesn’t
have any food. At night he builds a fire to keep him and his dogs
warm. Sometimes he has received checks for only a few cents.
1994, Congress passed the American Indian Trust Reform Act. This
required the Interior Department to account for all the money in
the trust fund and clean up the accounting process. The Individual
Indian Monies case, also known as Cobell V. Norton, is the largest
class action suit ever filed against the federal government. Filed
in 1996, Elouise Cobell is at the center of the suit that involves
more than 100 years of revenues generated by government leases on
Native American land held “in trust” for mining as well
as oil and gas exploration. For years she has tried to get an accurate
accounting of funds held in trust by the U.S. Government for individual
Native American land leased by the federal government for natural
resource stripping. The defendant in the Cobell V. Norton case is
Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton. She has been held in
contempt by Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth for ignoring his orders
to account for the fund. Lamberth stated that he had never seen
greater government incompetence than the Interior Department had
shown in administrating the money and representing itself in court.
early of 2001, Alan Balaran, the investigator in the case, made
a surprise visit to the Government’s warehouse. There he found
papers from a shredder, which had records concerning the money paid
out of the trust fund. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which resides
under the Interior Department, stated that similar documents were
being shredded every day.
March of 2004, Lamberth ordered a shutdown for the Interior Department’s
internet connections due to security holes that could have allowed
hackers to access hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties from
Native American lands managed by the agency, according to Balaran’s
findings. This was the third internet shutdown in three years. This
particular shutdown was ordered after the Interior Department refused
to sign sworn certificates that it had fixed major security flaws.
This is the same system that processes hundreds of millions of dollars
annually for Native Americans.
April of 2004, Alan Balaran resigned under pressure as the investigator
in the case. He states that the Bush Administration has been pursuing
his refusal to silence criticisms of the Interior Department’s
handling of individual Native American accounts. Balaran’s
findings show that the Bush Administration knowingly allowed energy
companies to continue to pay Native Americans far less than non-Native
Americans for natural resources. Judge Royce C. Lamberth has ordered
the government to complete a historic accounting for all funds in
the case by January 6, 2008.
Rocky Mountain News,
August 21, 2003 “Indians Underpaid for Land Leases, Official
Charges; Appraisal Program Under Norton Targeted” by M.E.
Bismarck Tribune, April
7, 2004, “Investigator: Interior Favored Companies”
by Robert Gehrke.
PR Newswire, February
24, 2005 “Cobell Litigation Team: U.S. District Court Reissues
Structural Injunction in Cobell V. Norton Indian Trust Case-Full
Accounting to Be Complete by January 6, 2008.”
Update by Brian Awehali:
The Cobell v. Norton case is important because the government is
colossally and obviously wrong. This is evident in light of the
success of Eloise Cobell’s team in successive court victories.
The sheer scope of the case, its possible precedent-setting resolution,
and the ways in which it highlights the current limitations of Native
Americans’ dependent-yet-sovereign status, all provide opportunities
for real reform and long-term re-examination of the terms of U.S.-to-Native,
coverage of this story has largely suffered from two main challenges.
The first challenge has been the massive bureaucratic complexities
of the case, which I believe insulated it from quite a lot of daily
news coverage. The second, and subtler, challenge is the average
American’s lack of understanding of Native sovereignty. Without
a clear understanding of this, Americans literally have no meaningful
framework to fit the story into, and it simply disappears.
security flaws in the Department of the Interior’s trust accounting
systems have continued for a ridiculously long time. Despite failure
after failure to amend security flaws that allow for manipulation
of records, and in spite of repeated documented instances of bureaucratic
ill will resulting in massive theft and “loss” from
trust accounts, the Department of the Interior is still in charge
of them. Another investigative story on SmartMoney.com (December
3, 2004) reported that “officials in the Bush Administration
had detailed knowledge of fraudulent practices that allowed energy
companies to cheat impoverished Native Americans out of vast sums
over dozens of years.”
Country Today also reported that behind the scenes negotiations
might already be happening between the White House and Congress—but
not with the plaintiffs in the case. The piece also warns of the
possibility of another “midnight rider” on an appropriations
bill that would effectively defer justice for yet another year.
recent developments in this case have centered mostly around court
motions and abstruse legal machinations, there hasn’t been
much hard “news” for the mainstream press to grab onto.
Without new and breaking “hooks,” I think the perception
is that this is an old story, rather than the very urgent and pressing
one that it is. I also believe the government’s strategy—stall,
obfuscate and deceive—is a deliberate attempt to keep media
attention largely surface and scattershot.
best places to go for information about the case are the following
Indian Country Today: http://www.indiancountry.com,
The Friends Committee on National Legislation: http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=1266&issue_id=112
#21 New Immigration
Plan Favors Business Over People
November 16, 2004,
Washington Free Press,
Title: How U.S. Corporations
Won the Debate Over Immigration
Author: David Bacon
Author: Maggie Jones
Francisco Vazquez, Ph.D.
Joseph F. Davis
A bi-partisan effort
from the Federal government is emerging to close the borders with
Mexico by increasing barriers that keep “illegal” immigrants
from traveling to and from Mexico, and in turn creating a guest
worker program with specific time limits for residency. Reminiscent
of the defunct bracero program, the status of “guest worker”
has reappeared as the preferred name for Mexican nationals working
in this country.
leading organization behind the guest worker legislation is The
Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), which was organized
in 1999, while Bill Clinton was still president. The group quickly
grew to include 36 of the country’s most powerful employer
associations, headed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The National
Association of Chain Drug Stores—including Wal Mart (which
was sanctioned for employing undocumented workers last year)—belongs,
as do the American Health Care Association, the American Hotel and
Lodging Association, the National Council of Chain Restaurants,
the National Restaurant Association, and the National Retail Federation.
Each of these associations represents employers who depend on a
workforce almost entirely without benefits and working at (or below)
Kennedy, Democrat, and John McCain, Republican, are promoting a
bi-partisan bill that would create the designation of “guest
worker” for a three
About half a million workers would be eligible for the status if
they are sponsored by American businesses and pay five hundred dollars.
The over ten million undocumented workers residing in the United
States who are not sponsored by businesses would be encouraged to
come forward and pay a two-thousand-dollar fine to receive the new
status. The guest worker category can be renewed after three years,
or businesses could sponsor workers for green cards.
proposed legislation does not address the growing problem of undocumented
workers residing in the United States. Because of the nature of
the work being offered under this program, most guest workers will
be left with little more than minimum wage employment. There are
no benefits or health care offered under the new program. The two-thousand-dollar
price tag for uninvited potential guest workers means that most
of the more than ten million undocumented workers will be unwilling
to come forth. Historically, millions of Mexican laborers would
return to Mexico during off-seasons to visit family. Today, with
tighter border restrictions and the cost of paying a labor smuggler
up to $300, few people return to Mexico, resulting in permanent
under-class poverty communities spread out throughout the country.
has been no serious discussion on Capitol Hill on realistically
dealing with the undocumented worker situation in this country because
U.S. corporations will continue to benefit from cheap labor sources
from outside and inside the borders of the United States.
official bracero program, negotiated in 1942 between the U.S. and
Mexican governments was ended in 1964. Ernesto Galarza, a labor
organizer, former diplomat and early hero of the Chicano movement,
was its greatest opponent in Washington. But Cesar Chavez was also
an early voice calling for abolition. Chavez later said he could
never have organized the United Farm Workers until growers could
no longer hire braceros during strikes. In fact, the great five-year
grape strike in which the UFW was born began the year after the
bracero program ended. According to the UFW’s Mark Grossman,
“Chavez believed agribusiness’ chief farm labor strategy
for decades was maintaining a surplus labor supply to keep wages
and benefits depressed, and fight unionization.”
organization of veterans of the bracero program, with chapters in
both the U.S. and Mexico, was even more critical. “We’re
totally opposed to the institution of new guest worker programs,”
explained Ventura Gutierrez, head of the Union Sin Fronteras. “People
who lived through the old program know the abuse they will cause.”
One former bracero, Manual Herrera, told the Associated Press’s
Julianna Barbassa, “they rented us, got our work, then sent
us back when they had no more use for us.” Thousands of former
braceros are still trying to collect money deducted from their pay
during the 1940s and 1950s.
that was supposedly held in trust to ensure they completed work
contracts, but never turned over to them. Bush’s proposal
contains a similar provision. “If we accept, then our grandsons
and great-grandsons will go through what we went through,”
ex-bracero Florentino Lararios told Barbassa. U.S. labor opposition
focused on the lack of a real amnesty. Eliseo Medina, executive
vice president of the Service Employees International Union, and
one of the AFL-CIO’s key policy makers on immigration, said,
“Bush tells immigrants you have no right to earn citizenship,
but tells corporations you have the right to exploit workers, both
American and immigrant….” This proposal allows hard-working,
tax-paying immigrants to become a legitimate part of our economy,
but it keeps them from fully participating in our democracy—making
immigrants a permanent sub-class of our society.
Update by David Bacon:
“How Corporations Won the Debate over Immigration” broke
a story of national importance—how the largest U.S. corporations,
dependent on a steady supply of immigrant workers, got the President
and Congress to introduce legislation giving them a vastly expanded
guest worker program. This program, like the old “bracero”
program of the 1940s and ’50s, used a system of contract labor
to exploit immigrant workers and deny them their rights, while creating
an oversupply of labor to drive down wages for all workers, immigrant
and non-immigrant alike.
story was originally published in the fall of 2004. By the spring
of 2005, corporate pressure for expanded guestworker programs had
grown so strong that even bipartisan proposals for immigration reform
included them. The word in Washington DC is now that no immigration
reform is worth discussing unless corporate America gets what it
wants. In mid-May, a new bill was introduced by Senators Edward
Kennedy and John McCain, which includes a program even larger than
that proposed by Bush.
President’s program calls for 300,000 people to be given temporary
visas for three years, renewable for another three. The Kennedy/McCain
bill calls for 400,000 temporary visas. In addition, the bill calls
for requiring the 9 million currently undocumented immigrants in
the U.S. to enroll as guestworkers for six years to qualify for
making application for a green card, and to pay a $2000 fine. Increased
enforcement of employer sanctions, the law that makes it a federal
crime for an undocumented worker to hold a job, would be used to
force people into the program by making it even more risky to try
to work without becoming a guest worker.
these draconian provisions, the bill won the sponsorship of many
Democrats, and almost no Republicans. In the meantime, Texas Senator
Cornyn annouunced his intention to introduce an even more conservative
bill in mid-July. The Cornyn bill is regarded as the legislative
embodiment of the President’s program. It is a straight temporary
worker bill, with no provisions for legalization.
matter whether sponsored by Democrats or Republicans, the corporate
lobby for temporary workers has legislation which corresponds to
the meantime, however, a much more liberal bill has been introduced
by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and members of the Congressional
Black Caucus. Instead of increasing job competition and pitting
one group of low-wage workers against another, the bill tries to
balance the needs of all low-wage workers. African-American and
other minority communities suffering high unemployment would receive
job training and creation programs. The bill would set up a legalization
program for undocumented immigrants based on their residency, rather
than employment status. It has provisions to strengthen protection
for the rights of immigrant workers, ends discrimination against
immigrants from countries like Haiti and Liberia, and has no guest
and many Democrats have derided the Jackson Lee bill as incompatible
with the atmosphere in Congress, which seeks both to reward corporations
and increase punitive measures against immigrants, especially the
undocumented. But a rising tide of protest in immigrant communities
and other communities of color around the country has criticized
the growing wave of anti-immigrant legislation, and is callling
for a movement to defend their rights instead.
the story of corporate sponsorship of the guest worker proposals
has been ignored by the mainstream media. Reports on the Kennedy-McCain
and Bush proposals have treated them as “pro-immigrant”
because they would allow workers to cross the border legally. They’ve
ignored the actual conditions for immigrants under current guest
worker programs, as well as the money and influence trail leading
back from these proposals to the corporate lobby, the Essential
Worker Immigration Coalition. They have also ignored the Jackson-Lee
bill, even though it presents the unprecedented political situation
in which the country’s most progressive immigration legislation
is being proposed by African-American Congress members.
who want more information about the overall situation of immigrants
and legislation which affects them can contact the National Network
for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, at 510-465-1984, www.nnirr.org.
More information on pending immigration legislation and the Jackson
Lee bill is available from Nolan Rappaport, minority counsel to
the House Immigration Subcommittee, 202-225-2329.
Offers Exciting Possibilities But Health Effects Need Scrutiny
The Chronicle of Higher
Education September 10, 2004
Title: “The Dark
Side of Small”
Author: Richard Monastersky
Scott Gordon, Ph. D., Jennifer Lillig Whiles, Ph. D.
The science of nanotechnology
is rapidly advancing, but there is little research to show whether
or not nano-sized molecules are safe for people and the environment.
is the science of using molecules that are virtually impossible
to see; one blood cell measures at 7,000 nanometers in width. Nanotechnology
has virtually unlimited potential. Products such as stainless, wrinkle
free pants use nanotechnology as well as transparent sunscreens
and tennis balls that keep their bounce. The U.S. government spent
close to $1 billion in 2004 on research and development in nanotechnology.
only 1 percent of it is going towards research for risk assessment,
despite the fact that nanotechnology also has the potential to cause
harm to people and the environment. The nano-sized molecules can
damage, or kill, the skin cells of humans and also kill valuable
bacteria in water. The reason little money is given to research
the risks is nanotechnology’s huge upside; some estimates
predict that the nanotech market will reach $1 trillion in a decade.
of papers have come out touting different developments in nanoscience,
but fewer than fifty have examined how engineered nanoparticles
will affect people and the environment. The studies that have been
conducted to determine if nano-molecules are safe paint a grim picture
for nanotechnology. In the spring of 2004, Eva Oberdorster, an adjunct
scientist at Duke University, made headlines with potentially disturbing
news about highly praised a nanoparticle called “fullerness,”
named for the inventor R. Buckminister Fuller.
“fullerness” is made of 60 carbon atoms, bonded together
like a molecular soccer ball. Oberdorster put a solution of “fullerness”
into a tank with large-mouthed bass and later examined different
organs in the fish. She found signs of oxidative damage in their
brains and speculated that the nanoparticles had stimulated the
production of free radicals, highly reactive compounds that can
cause cellular damage. “Normally,” she said, “particles
can’t get into the brains of fish or people because a protective
structure called the blood-brain barrier keeps out harmful materials.”
But Oberdorster’s, and other experiments show that nano-size
particles can slip through that barrier by traveling up nerve cells
into the brain.
father also studies the effects of nanoparticles. Dr. Gunter Oberdorster,
a professor of toxicology in environmental medicine at the University
of Rochester, received a $5.5 million, five-year grant from the
Department of Defense to study the effects of nanoparticles. Scientists
at the University of Rochester looked at the titanium dioxide nanoparticles
that are used as pigments in white paint. Rats and mice inhaled
particles ranging in size from 12 nanometers up to 250 nanometers.
The smaller particles were found to cause more inflammation than
an equal amount of larger particles. “The smaller particles
react differently from the larger ones,” he says, “because
nano-size materials evade the normal defense system in the lungs,
the macrophage cells that gobble up the irritants and clear them
out.” Once nanoparticles get deep into the lungs, they can
cross over into the blood stream and from there can into any organ
in the body. Inhaling the nano-sized particles in titanium dioxide,
which is on the market now, is unlikely because they are captured
in liquid substances. However, Dr. Oberdoester suggests that it
may be possible for nanoparticles to cross over through the skin.
Another study, run by Anna A. Shevedova, an adjunct associate professor
at West Virginia and a senior staff scientist at the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), found that carbon nanotubes
generated dangerous free radicals in cultures of human skin cells.
Her research team reported that the nanotubes caused oxidative damage
that triggered the deaths of cells.
everybody involved in nanotechnology says it is too soon to tell
whether and how these materials might harm people or the environment.
But early studies show that this is something that should be looked
into more seriously. In a survey conducted by North Carolina State
University, public perception of nanotechnology remains fairly positive.
As has happened with new technologies in the past, this optimism
may become accusations and lawsuits if the side effects of nanotechnology
outweigh the benefits.
#23 Plight of Palestinian
Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem
Left Turn, December
& Resistance: Palestinian Child Prisoners”
Cook, Adah Kay, Adam Hanieh
The Guardian, August
Want an End to Their Solitary Confinement”
Author: Karma Nabulsi
Carolyn Epple, Ph. D. Maureen Buckley, Ph. D.
According to Catherine
Cook, Adah Kay, and Adam Hanieh, approximately 350 Palestinian children
ages 12-18, are currently being held in Israeli prisons. Over 2,000
children have been arrested since the beginning of the second Intifada,
a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation. This number
corresponds with number given in a report by the human rights organization
Defense for Children International, which adds that another 170
children are held in military detention centers.
at the testimonies from hundreds of detained children, Cook et al
found a pattern in the children’s experience of arrest, interrogation,
sentencing and prison conditions. The children overwhelmingly reported
abuse during their experience in either prison or detention camp.
The consistency of these reports reveals that these patterns of
abuse are not just the actions of a few bad soldiers, but perhaps
reveals a broader policy. Virtually every child interviewed describes
a deliberate pattern of behavior by Israeli soldiers or police characterized
by violence, physical and psychological threats, and overwhelming
force, often in the middle of the night. Cook, Kay and Hanieh believe
that the similarity in testimonies from child prisoners points to
a systematic approach to child abuse, calculated to exploit children’s
vulnerability and create feelings of fear, intimidation and helplessness.
testimony in their study states, “Because there was no one
I could talk to and I felt incredibly frightened and scared, I tried
to commit suicide while being in solitary confinement. On October
12, 2003, I was moved to Ofer Military Prison Camp. When I arrived
the soldiers asked me to take off my clothes. They used a metal
detector on my naked body. One hand was holding the metal detector,
while the other hand touched my naked body, concentrating mainly
on my back and bottom.”
without the abuses by personnel, the living conditions that children
are put in are bad enough. The report by Karma Nabulsi tells us
that children are “locked in cells for hours on end with,
in some cases, only 45 minutes outdoor exercise allowed every two
days. Many are forced to sleep on the floor due to overcrowding.
Windows are boarded up with iron panels, which block out the light
and intensify the heat in the rooms.” Practices, such as these,
have been well documented in other troubled areas around the world,
but are only beginning to be documented within occupied territories.
noticeable is a lack of decent healthcare. Cook, Kay and Hanieh
see the abuse of children during interrogation, the notoriously
poor sanitary conditions within Israeli prisons, and denial of adequate
medical treatment as ways to pressure child detainees into collaboration.
When conducting a series of interviews with 60 ex-prisoners from
Bethlehem in 1994, the authors found that “90 percent of those
interviewed claimed that the administration used the denial of medical
treatment as a way of recruiting collaborators.” One former
child prisoner asserted that prisoners were well aware that the
prison hospitals were using the threat of withholding treatment
to force detainees to collaborate.
to the DCI report, “In many areas, Israel does not reach the
standards demanded by the minimum rules [of the UN Convention of
the Rights of a Child]. For instance, it is not possible for a youth
in detention to work, and there are no educational facilities. In
the territories, the situation is even worse.” This statement
implies that the rights of all children (Israeli as well as Palestinian)
are not being attended to by Israeli authorities. It seems that
in Israel there is a problem in the attitude toward child welfare
in general. But, according to Project Censored evaluator Maureen
Buckley, “this story represents just a small piece of the
larger picture of the ongoing, worldwide failure to protect the
rights of children.”
DCI Israel Children’s
Rights Monitor, 2004 Report “International Standards.”
Update by Catherine
Cook, Adah Kay and Adam Hanieh: In the 15 months since this article
was written in spring 2004, little has changed for child prisoners,
and the issue has been largely boycotted by the mainstream press.
But the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, including
children under 18, in Israeli detention centers and jails remain
high on the political agenda. The Israeli government still uses
prisoners as a key bargaining chip in the so called “peace
process.” But relevant human rights and international standards
play no part in this ritual; Palestinian negotiators could not secure
the unconditional release of all child prisoners as an issue separate
from negotiations over adult prisoners. So the recent second tranche
of prisoners released at the end of May included only 14 children.
As in the past, most of the other 384 prisoners, had almost completed
year saw the revelations of U.S. torture of Iraqi prisoners including
children dubbed the biggest story of the Iraqi war by William Rivers
Pitt in his article “Torturing Children.”1 Like Israel,
the U.S. administration and military attempted to present this as
rogue practice, but the evidence pointed to systemic abuse. We and
others tried at the time to highlight the striking similarities
to the abuse meted out over decades to Palestinian prisoners including
children.2 But again, these parallels largely escaped the mainstream
out of around 7,500 Palestinian detainees, about 280 are children
(including 30 boy administrative detainees held indefinitely without
formal trial or charge). DCI/PS,3 who represent the majority of
child prisoners, report a dramatic increase in arrests of 12-14
year-olds, most for throwing stones last year. There has also been
an increase last year in the numbers of children arrested from the
northern West Bank (e.g.Nablus and Jenin), in part reflecting the
continued use of mass arrests as a method of control. They also
note harsher sentencing policies, such as doubling of sentences
of more than three years compared with 2003—only partly due
to some of the charges being more serious.
has been no improvement in detention conditions with particularly
poor provision in detention/interrogation centers—bare cells
and inadequate food served on bits of paper with no cutlery. In
prisons,4 girls are still housed in cells with adult women prisoners
with little natural light, and they get no formal education. Boys
also receive no education, except in one of the prisons; many are
still beaten and punished by having family visits refused or solitary
August 2004, in protest against harsh prison conditions, Palestinian
prisoners launched their largest hunger strike in decades. The Israeli
prison administration did their best to undermine this by confiscating
liquids and salts, setting up barbeques outside cells, raiding cells,
beating up prisoners, placing them in isolation and refusing medical
treatment until the strike ended. Eventually the strike petered
out. As with so many other Palestinian issues, this action was largely
ignored by the mainstream press.
last year has seen Israel’s position, tacitly supported by
the U.S. government, strengthened against the Palestinians. Under
cover of its promise of unilateral disengagement from Gaza, Israel
continues to entrench itself in the West Bank and extends its system
of suppression and control in which arrest and prison play such
a key role.
For additional information:
Defence for Children
International/Palestine Section, Research and International Advocacy
Unit, RIA@dci-pal.org, www.dci-pal.org
Support and Human Rights Association, www.addameer.org,
Rivers Pitt, “Torturing Children,” Truthout July 20,
Cook, “Torture of Iraqi Prisoners Spotlights Israeli Treatment
of Palestinian Prisoners,” Information Brief # 106, May 11,
for Children International (Palestine Section) Annual Review 2004.
Legal department regularly visits prisons, detention and interrogation
centres in the West Bank and in Israel to monitor prison conditions
for children and intercede on their behalf with the Israeli prison
#24 Ethiopian Indigenous
Victims of Corporate and Government Resource Aspirations
World War 4 Report,
Issue 97, April 2004
in Ethiopia: Another Secret War for Oil?”
Z Magazine Online,
Author: keith harmon
Tom Lough, Ph.D.
According to a report
by keith harmon snow, after conducting Field observations in January,
the U.S.-based organizations Genocide Watch and Survivor’s
Rights International released a conclusive report on February 22,
2004. This report provides evidence that Ethiopian People’s
Revolutionary Defense Front (EPRDF) soldiers and “Highlander”
militias in the Anuak territory of Ethiopia have killed thousands
of native civilians. The Highlanders are predominantly Tigray and
Amhara peoples who resettled in Anuak territory in 1974. The Highlanders
are on a quest to force the Anuak from the region. Ethiopia is the
latest U.S. ally in the “War on Terror” to turn its
back on its own indigenous peoples. The Annuak territory is a zone
coveted by corporate interests for its oil and gold. EPRDF soldiers
and settlers from Ethiopian highlands initiated a campaign of massacres,
repressions, and mass rape, deliberately targeting the Anuak minority.
to Snow, the U.S. government was informed about the unfolding violence
in the Gambella region as early as December 16, 2003. Massacres
were reportedly ordered by the commander of the Ethiopian army in
Gambella, Nagu Beyene, with the authorization of Gebrehad Barnabas,
Regional Affairs Minister of the Ethiopian government.
to Anuak sources relying on sympathetic oppositionists within the
regime, the EPRDF plans to procure the petroleum of Gambella were
laid out at a top-level cabinet meeting in Addis Ababa (the capital
of Ethiopia) in September 2003. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chaired
the meeting, at which the militant ethnic cleansing of the Anuaks
was reportedly openly discussed. December 13, 2003 marked the start
of a coordinated military operation to systematically eliminate
Anuaks. Sources from inside the military government’s police
and intelligence network say that the code name of the military
operation was: “OPERATION SUNNY MOUNTAIN.”
killing of eight UN officials and Ethiopian government officials
whose van was ambushed on December 13, 2003 sparked the recent conflict.
Although there is no specific evidence about the ethnicity of the
killers, the targets of the attacks have been mainly Anuaks. After
this attack, EPRDF soldiers used automatic weapons and hand grenades,
then attacked the Anuak villages, summarily executing civilians,
burning dwellings (sometimes with people inside), and looting property.
Some 424 Anuak people were reportedly killed, with over 200 more
wounded. Numerous sources report that there have been regular massacres
of the Anuak since 1980. Discrimination against the Anuak has been
detailed in six reports published in the Cultural Survival Quarterly
beginning in 1981(see e.g.: “Oil Development in Ethiopia:
A Threat to the Anuak of Gambella,” Issue 25.3, 2001). There
is no evidence of previous communal violence between the two indigenous
groups (Anuaks and the local Nuer) as was claimed and reported by
the NYT and other media, and by the EPRDF government.
As of November 4, 2004, at least 1,500 and perhaps as many as 2,500
Anuak civilians have died in the recent fighting. Intellectuals,
leaders, students and other educated classes have been intentionally
targeted. Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for and many have
mysteriously “disappeared.” Thousands and perhaps tens
of thousands of Anuak homes have reportedly been burned.
Anuak men have been killed, arrested, or displaced, leaving thousands
of women and children vulnerable. Anuak women and girls are routinely
raped, gang-raped and kept as sexual slaves by EPRDF forces, often
at gunpoint. Girls have been shot for resisting rape, and summary
executions for girls held captive for prolonged periods as sexual
slaves have been reported. Reports from non-Anuak police officials
in Gambella indicate an average of up to seven rapes per day. Due
to the isolation of women and girls in rural areas, rapes remain
under-reported. Some 6,000 to 8,000 Anuak remain at refugee camps
in Pochalla, Sudan, and there are an estimated 1,000 annual refugees
in Kenya. In August 2004, approximately 25 percent (roughly 50,000
people) of Gambella’s population had been displaced.
the Anuak and other indigenous peoples of southwestern Ethiopia,
the government of Prime minister Meles Zenawi is a ruthless military
dictatorship. Almost everyone links “the problem” to
Gambella’s oil. “Since the problem, we are not able
to farm or to fish,” said one Anuak survivor who was shot
three times. He is shy, but he will show you where one bullet entered
and exited his wrist. He was shot December 13, 2003—the day
the EPRDF and local highlander militias launched their genocidal
war on the Anuaks. “Many men ran away into the bushes and
were killed since the problem began,” says one witness. “They
are raping many girls. They keep some women by force.” The
violence has almost completely disrupted this year’s planting
season, and people believe that famine in the coming winter months
(October-March, 2005) will be exacerbated by the destruction of
milling machines and food stores.
August 2003, the U.S. committed $28,000,000 to international trade
enhancements with Ethiopia. Beginning July 2003, forces from the
Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)
held a three-month bilateral training exercise with Ethiopian forces
at the Hurso Training Camp, northwest of Dire Dawa. The U.S. Army’s
10th Mountain Division recently completed a three-month program
to train an Ethiopian army division in counter-terrorism attacks.
Operations are coordinated through the CJTF-HOA regional base in
Djibouti, where the Halliburton subsidiary KBR is the prime contractor.
Ethiopia is considered to be an essential partner of the U.S. in
its “War on Terrorism,” the U.S. provided some $1,835,000
in International Military and Educational Training (IMET) to Ethiopia
between 1995–2000. Some 115 Ethiopian officers were trained
under the IMET program from 1991–2001. Approximately 4,000
Ethiopian soldiers have participated in IMET and Foreign Military
Sales and Deliveries programs. The U.S. also equipped, trained,
and supported Ethiopian troops under the Africa Regional Peacekeeping
program. Ethiopia has remained a participant of the IMET program
in 2000–2004. A U.S. AID representative asked Congress to
approve some $80,000,000 in funding for Ethiopia’s programs
in the Fiscal Year of 2005. Ethiopia was described as a “top
priority” of the Bush Administration.
2000, Texas-based Sicor Inc. signed a $1.4 billion dollar deal with
Ethiopia for the “Gazoil” joint venture to exploit oil
and gas in the southeast Ogaden Basin. Hunt Oil Company of Dallas,
Texas is also involved in the Ogaden Basin through the subsidiary
Ethiopia Hunt Oil Company. Hunt Oil’s chairman of the board
and CEO Ray L. Hunt is also director of Halliburton Company. U.S.
Cal Tech International Corp. is also reportedly negotiating a joint
venture with the China National Petroleum Corp. to operate in the
same regions. The Anuak are also gold miners in the Gambella district.
U.S. based Canyon Resources has gold operations in southern Ethiopia.
The interest of multinational gold and oil corporations indicate
alterior motives in the terror campaign against the Anuaks.
sources in Gambella state: “The Anuak people have not been
involved in the discussions about the oil, our leaders have not
agreed on these projects, and they will not hire any Anuaks for
these jobs. If any Anuaks say anything about the oil, he will be
Update by keith harmon
snow: It is important to recognize that the U.S. public is subject
to an ongoing institutionalization of “truth” and “reality”
that is premised on total information warfare. This is nowhere so
starkly evident as with the stereotypes, mythologies and deceptions
doled out to the U.S. public on the subject of Africa (the Arab
world, and all things Islamic, run a close second). This includes
mainstream reportage, policy debates, scholarly journals, tabloids,
radio shows, and print magazines—from WIRED to National Geographic.
This is also evident in supposed “alternative” media
sources like The Nation and films like Hotel Rwanda.
To what? Virtually all available media fall on a spectrum that serves
up topics and frameworks that are tolerated and allowed, where “healthy
debate,” “exposés” and (perceived) “hostility”
(to what people in other countries are calling EMPIRE), are even
encouraged. Hence we have Seymour Hersh offering us revealing exposés
on torture in Abu Ghraib, but saying nothing about the profits being
made over the dead bodies due to U.S. sponsored covert operations
and destabilization in Congo during and since the Clinton regime.
editor Katrina Van de Heuvel will steer sharply away from any challenge
to the “humanitarian” actions of the International Rescue
Committee (IRC), a strong proponent of military intervention—allied
with the other two big humanitarian agencies CARE and Refugees International—in
the recent massive lobbying effort to “stop genocide”
in Darfur, Sudan. Is there genocide in Darfur? If so, or even not
so, why has it received overwhelming press attention while the Anuak
genocide has received none? What about nearby Congo? And Rwanda?
de Heuvel has ties with Henry Kissinger, a member of an IRC board,
and one of the few U.S. officials to be publicly labeled as a war
criminal. The IRC is a powerful faction in Congo, Rwanda and Sudan,
and the Congolese accused them of espionage. CARE’s “partners”
include aerospace and defense corporation Lockheed-Martin, who is
also a major underwriter of Seymour Hersh’s regular print
venue, the war advocacy journal Atlantic Monthly.
truly “investigative” journalist might hack through
the propaganda of Hotel Rwanda to get to United Artists parent company
Metro Goldwyn Meyer, whose directors, not surprisingly, given what
the film does not tell you about the U.S.-sponsored invasion of
Rwanda (1990–1994), include current United Technologies director
and U.S. General (Ret.) Alexander Haig. Recall that “I’m
in charge here” Al Haig served under a Hollywood actor named
Ronald Reagan. Hotel Rwanda took off from the now celebrated but
wholly mythologized book We Regret To Inform You That Tomorrow We
Will Be Killed by Philip Gourevitch, the New Yorker’s premier
Africanist, and whose brother-in-law, Jamie Rubin, was Madeleine
Albright’s leading man. The Nation runs the standard nonsense
on Rwanda, usually by Victoria Britain. Another pro-military interventionist
on Darfur, Samantha Power could surely satisfy The Nation, given
her selective and patriotic journalism on Rwanda and the Balkans,
for which she won a Pulitzer.
the mass hysteria whipped up in the post-September 11th America
are the dirty little and not-so-little but secret wars whipped up
in defense of predatory capitalism and empire in “uncivilized”
and “savage” places like Djibouti, Sudan, Sierra Leone,
Liberia, Congo and (Gambella) Ethiopia.
February 21, 2002, the U.S. DOD had already purchased 79 RQ-1 Predators
from General Atomics, for a per unit price of about $7 million,
or some $553 million dollars. “State Terror in Ethiopia”
was the first report, and WW4 Report the first venue, to illuminate
the U.S. military alliance with the Ethiopian regime and the regional
base of U.S. covert operations in Hurso, Ethiopia as well as the
presence of RQ-1 Predator Drones being operated over the entire
Horn region by the Central Intelligence Agency. Smith College students
recently working to “stop genocide” in Darfur held a
letter-writing campaign demanding that George Bush authorize that
unmanned Predator drones—impersonal, indiscriminate killing
robots—be launched against Arabs on horses, and other “undefined”
targets, in Darfur.
takes more than one party to wage a war. From Chad, Uganda and Ethiopia
come weapons and logistical support for the enemies of the Islamic
regime in Khartoum. At the same time, the Bush gang has reportedly
“allied” with the Sudan government in its “war
on terror”—if we believe the Ken Silverstein “exposé”
in the L.A. Times (which is merely being expedient in its truth-telling).
Off the agenda are any discussions of the U.S. regimes of terror
in Uganda or Cameroon, for example, or U.S. support for the Sudan
People’s Liberation Army and other warring militias and factions
in Darfur, Chad, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Congo.
nearby Chad, Ethiopia has become a favored territory from which
transnational corporate interests can be served by launching clandestine
terror operations against Islamic governments, Al Queda phantoms,
and other hostile enemies. The latter category, of course, includes
Arabs on horseback, machete-wielding Hutus, Mai-Mai “wearing
bathroom fixtures” on their heads, innocent men, women and
children all over Africa, and, of course, the Anuaks of Ethiopia
who, like the Ogonis in Nigeria and the Fur of Darfur, have the
audacity to be living over someone else’s oil.
after “State Terror in Ethiopia” appeared in WW4 Report
and Z Magazine, Marc Lacey, Nairobi Bureau Chief for the New York
Times, ran some damage control, and reported from Gambella with
a nasty little blame-the-victims story that deflected attention
from the undesirable details: “Amid Ethiopia’s Strife,
a Bathing Spot and Peace” (New York Times, 6/11/04). There
was hardly a word about oil or U.S. interests, and Lacey framed
the story to suggest that peace had returned to Gambella, an area
rife with ancient tribal animosity, he declared, where the Anuaks
“once went naked and ate rats.” (Curiously, not one
New York Times link to this story is active today, perhaps because
it has been widely noted for its racism, and so it is being electronically
McGill of the McGill Report has done some wonderful and consistent
work to report on the Anuak story. World War 4 Report also published
a second follow-up story titled “Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia.”
Soon after this appeared, Human Rights Watch finally published a
major report on the Anuak genocide based on the field investigations
“Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks” and “Operation
Sunny Mountain?” (undertaken for Survivor’s Rights International
and Genocide Watch by this author, as an unpaid volunteer). While
their researcher received a copy of “Operation Sunny Mountain?”
several months prior to its formal release and before traveling
to Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch never cited their sources or contacts.
U.S.-supported regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia is going to fall,
imminently, as widespread domestic dissent and protest, which remain
underreported, further escalate. June 2005 saw massive government
repression, troops firing on crowds, and torture spreading across
Ethiopia after the people protested obvious election-rigging (sanctioned
by Jimmy Carter and election monitors). Ethiopia’s secret
U.S.-sponsored war (2000) against Eritrea has destabilized the border
region, causing untold death and despair. Murder, extra-judicial
execution, rape, disappearances, arrest and imprisonment of Anuaks,
Oromos, Nuers and other indigenous Ethiopian people continue. What
makes “State Terror in Ethiopia” so poignant is its
sharp juxtaposition to the stories of genocide and crimes against
humanity in Darfur, which received widespread attention, and to
Congo, which is mostly off the media agenda.
Darfur, what is really at issue is not genocide, and it is not about
“humanitarian” anything, or there wouldn’t be
so many people dead already—and still dying. It is about regime
change, and some people will do anything to get us to support that.
In Congo, the death toll has struck seven million since the U.S.
invasion began, and the war rages on while both Clinton and Bush
factions profit from diamond and gold and other hundreds-of-multimillion-dollars-a-month
material thefts. Next to the holy wars of Congo and Darfur, the
Anuaks are a mere thorn in the side of Empire. Such is the political
economy of genocide.
#25 Homeland Security
Was Designed to Fail
Mother Jones, September/October
Title: “Red Alert”
Author: Matthew Brzezinski
NPR, September 24,
America: On the Front Lines of Homeland Security” (an interview
with Matthew Brzezinski)
Author Matthew Brzezinski
Greg and Meri Storino
It was billed as America’s
frontline defense against terrorism. But badly under-funded, crippled
by special interests, and ignored by the White House, the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) has been relegated to bureaucratic obscurity.
Unveiled on March 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security had
been touted as the Bush Administration’s bold response to
the new threats facing America in the post-Cold War world of global
terrorism. It is currently composed of 22 formerly separate federal
agencies and it boasts 186,200 employees. Its operations are funded
by a budget of nearly $27 billion.
are 15,000 industrial plants in the United States that produce toxic
chemicals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA),
about 100 of these plants could endanger up to a million lives with
poisonous clouds of ammonia, chlorine, or carbon disulfide that
could be released into the atmosphere over densely populated areas
by a terror attack. Unprotected chemical plants are possible candidates
for future attacks by terrorists. These are some of the most vulnerable
pieces of infrastructure in America.
9/11 there was a big push to increase security at all chemical plants
in the United States. Democrats put forth a Chemical Security Act,
the purpose of which was to codify parameters for site security,
ensure safe transport of toxic materials, and prevent further accidents
from happening. But Republicans defeated the bill after oil companies
pumped millions of dollars into lobbying campaigns to stop it.
Brzezinski’s article in Mother Jones asserts that President
Bush doesn’t put much importance, if any at all, on Homeland
Security reports. Security spending has risen just 4 percent since
9/11, and most of that increase was only to cover higher insurance
programs. There are many chemical plants that have no fencing requirements,
cameras, and no guards. The article points out the spending needed
to insure the safety of U.S. citizens and compares it (unfavorably)
to the amount spent in Iraq over the same time period.
from being hamstrung by its reluctant architects, DHS simply has
not been able to compete with Iraq in the battle for resources.
With the President’s tax cuts trimming government revenues,
and budget deficits reaching levels not seen since the Vietnam War,
money is tight for programs the White House does not see as top
priorities. The truth of the matter is that Homeland Security is
very much a shoestring operation—so much so that worried Democrats
in Congress keep trying to throw more money at it.
recent author of “Fortress America” and former Wall
Street correspondent, suggests the Department of Homeland Security
needs a serious reassessment of its goals and operations to better
protect Americans. He says the White House has decided that the
Homeland Security intelligence unit should rank lower than the FBI
and the CIA. Seven Republican Senators that had previously endorsed
the Chemical Security Act later withdrew their support. $5.7 million
in contributions from the petrochemical campaign (led by the American
Petroleum Institute) helped to ensure that Republicans took the
Senate in the 2002 midterm elections and that the Chemical Security
Act die out. People opposing the act emphasized the economic impact
of the Security Act. The argument was that Chlorine and its derivatives
went into products that account for 45 percent of the nations GDP,
and reductions to its production would hurt the economy.
years after 9/11 almost anybody can still gain entry into thousands
of chemical sites across the country. If a factory spends lots of
money on security spending upgrades, its products can’t compete
with other factories that spend nothing. Only legislation can level
the playing field.
failure of the mainstream media to acknowledge the fact that Homeland
Security has been a complete washout further signifies the cozy
relationship it enjoys with the halls of power. Protection of the
homeland has been an area where the president has received consistently
high marks from the country—ostensibly because this is the
one area where he has stayed strong and focused. It would have been
helpful for the country to know if this wasn’t true.
Judy Clark, Oil and
Gas Journal, June 23, 2003, “Government, Industry Forge Partnerships
for Security Enhancement.”
Primedia, August 1,
2003, “An Overlooked Vulnerability?”