Monthly Archives: July, 2008

The Last Roundup: Radar Online

From The Magazine : Radar Online
Is the government compiling a secret list of citizens to detain under martial law?”

In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president’s henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft’s second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush’s first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration’s various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn’t allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush’s men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.

The Continuity of Governance program encompasses national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces. In short, it’s a road map for martial lawComey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program’s authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey’s words, “to take advantage of a very sick man,” sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft’s sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and “literally ran” up the hospital stairs to beat them there.

Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. “I’m not the attorney general,” Ashcroft told Bush’s men. “There”—he pointed weakly to Comey—”is the attorney general.” Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey’s presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—”without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality,” he testified.

What was the mysterious program that had so alarmed Comey? Political blogs buzzed for weeks with speculation. Though Comey testified that the program was subsequently readjusted to satisfy his concerns, one can’t help wondering whether the unspecified alteration would satisfy constitutional experts, or even average citizens. Faced with push-back from his bosses at the White House, did he simply relent and accept a token concession? Two months after Comey’s testimony to Congress, the New York Times reported a tantalizing detail: The program that prompted him “to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases.” The larger mystery remained intact, however. “It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate,” the article conceded.

Another clue came from a rather unexpected source: President Bush himself. Addressing the nation from the Oval Office in 2005 after the first disclosures of the NSA’s warrantless electronic surveillance became public, Bush insisted that the spying program in question was reviewed “every 45 days” as part of planning to assess threats to “the continuity of our government.”

Few Americans—professional journalists included—know anything about so-called Continuity of Government (COG) programs, so it’s no surprise that the president’s passing reference received almost no attention. COG resides in a nebulous legal realm, encompassing national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces—and effectively suspend the republic. In short, it’s a road map for martial law.

While Comey, who left the Department of Justice in 2005, has steadfastly refused to comment further on the matter, a number of former government employees and intelligence sources with independent knowledge of domestic surveillance operations claim the program that caused the flap between Comey and the White House was related to a database of Americans who might be considered potential threats in the event of a national emergency. Sources familiar with the program say that the government’s data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, “There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

More

via-Disinfo.com

chalmers johnson on shorrock’s new book: The Military-Industrial Complex: It’s Much Later Than You Think

The military-industrial complex has changed radically since World War II or even the height of the Cold War. The private sector is now fully ascendant. The uniformed air, land, and naval forces of the country as well as its intelligence agencies, including the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the NSA (National Security Agency), the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and even clandestine networks entrusted with the dangerous work of penetrating and spying on terrorist organizations are all dependent on hordes of “private contractors.” In the context of governmental national security functions, a better term for these might be “mercenaries” working in private for profit-making companies.

Tim Shorrock, an investigative journalist and the leading authority on this subject, sums up this situation devastatingly in his new book, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. The following quotes are a précis of some of his key findings: “In 2006… the cost of America’s spying and surveillance activities outsourced to contractors reached $42 billion, or about 70 percent of the estimated $60 billion the government spends each year on foreign and domestic intelligence… [The] number of contract employees now exceeds [the CIA's] full-time workforce of 17,500… Contractors make up more than half the workforce of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (formerly the Directorate of Operations), which conducts covert operations and recruits spies abroad…

“To feed the NSA’s insatiable demand for data and information technology, the industrial base of contractors seeking to do business with the agency grew from 144 companies in 2001 to more than 5,400 in 2006… At the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency in charge of launching and maintaining the nation’s photoreconnaissance and eavesdropping satellites, almost the entire workforce is composed of contract employees working for [private] companies… With an estimated $8 billion annual budget, the largest in the IC [intelligence community], contractors control about $7 billion worth of business at the NRO, giving the spy satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of the intelligence community…

“If there’s one generalization to be made about the NSA’s outsourced IT [information technology] programs, it is this: they haven’t worked very well, and some have been spectacular failures… In 2006, the NSA was unable to analyze much of the information it was collecting… As a result, more than 90 percent of the information it was gathering was being discarded without being translated into a coherent and understandable format; only about 5 percent was translated from its digital form into text and then routed to the right division for analysis.

“The key phrase in the new counterterrorism lexicon is ‘public-private partnerships’… In reality, ‘partnerships’ are a convenient cover for the perpetuation of corporate interests.” (pp. 6, 13-14, 16, 214-15, 365)

Several inferences can be drawn from Shorrock’s shocking exposé. One is that if a foreign espionage service wanted to penetrate American military and governmental secrets, its easiest path would not be to gain access to any official U.S. agencies, but simply to get its agents jobs at any of the large intelligence-oriented private companies on which the government has become remarkably dependent.

i’ve mentioned that previously, as well as that of getting subversives hired on as service workers elsewhere, where the vetting is probably even more relaxed for those low-wage positions. ~b real

this little article from Dissident Voice may be useful when your rightwing authoritarian office cow worker tells you the surge worked.

Under extreme pressure to produce results and fill less body bags, General Petraeus cut deals with armies of enemy combatants. These deals, now part of what is referred to as the Concerned Local Citizens program, simply pay insurgents to become temporary allies of the U. S. military. Approximately 70,000 former enemy combatants are now paid to play nice and all it costs us is $700,000 a day

Oh, and fuck obomba too…

Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon?

Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon? Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program

By Martin A. Lee, AlterNet. Posted July 19, 2008.

Dr. James Ketchum tested a potent form of synthetic marijuana on soldiers to develop a secret weapon in the ’60s. Now he’s telling the tale.

It was billed as a panel discussion on “the global shift in human consciousness.” A half-dozen speakers had assembled inside the Heebie Jeebie Healers tent at Burning Man, the annual post-hippie celebration in Black Rock, Nev., where 50,000 stalwarts braved intense dust storms and flash floods last August. Among the notables who spoke at the early evening forum was Dr. Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the Bay Area-based psychochemical genius much beloved among the Burners, who synthesized Ecstasy and 200 other psychoactive drugs and tested each one on himself during his unique, offbeat career.

Sitting on the panel next to Shulgin was an unlikely expositor. Dr. James S. Ketchum, a retired U.S. Army colonel, told the audience, “When Sasha was trying to open minds with chemicals to achieve greater awareness, I was busy trying to subdue people.”

Ketchum was referring to his work at Edgewood Arsenal, headquarters of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps(…)

Sometimes, it’s the good guys (or well intentioned guys) who scare me more than the bullies.

food first: Monsanto’s Vultures are Closing In on the Food Crisis

The vultures of corporate America are closing in on the carcass of cheap food. With corn selling at $5.86 a bushel (up from just $2.00 in 2005, and $4.28 just six months ago), the food price crisis has been somewhat of a windfall for farmers. But the briefly glimmering hope for rural communities is about to go out.

Last week Monsanto announced it would increase the price of its corn seed by $100 a bag, or about 35%. $100 a bag! So if you are a farmer with 1,000 acres in corn, Monsanto will be demanding an extra forty grand this year.

The timing on Monsanto’s unilateral price hike is especially heinous. With the world thrust into a profound food crisis, governments shaken, and children hungry, Monsanto is pushing the envelope on one of the world’s most important grains. This in combination with the outrageous inflation in the price of fertilizer, (over 400% in the past two years, due to the increase in the price of natural gas, from which fertilizers are made) means farmers are once again barely braking even.

Bad Third Party Runs Parts One and Two

Left this over at Ralph Nader’s new website. I don’t support his presidential bid but I offered up my 5/25 plan yet again. Short review: Third parties shouldn’t contest every damn seat but focus on 25 house seats and five senate seats and fully fund them at 1 million per house seat and 2 million per senate seat. That’s not a minor amount but given what we’ve seen Ron Paul and Barack Obama do I really think that’s possible. If the Netroots really wants to put the fear of god into the Democrats stop giving them money even when they screw you. Even though Regina Thomas lost, run somebody in the general as a death sentence. Pick five pro Fisa, pro Iraq dems and tell them to “Suck on This” as it were. Recruit Hollywood hard. Real hard. Run canvass based, internet based campaigns as cheaply as possible. Stir and then bake.

Here’s what I wrote over there:


I’m with Joe on this one. Run for Joe Biden’s senate seat. Actually, as a senator, you can do something pretty powerful. You can use the filibuster. In fact, I have something called the 5/25 plan which I wish independent parties would use. You don’t need to contest all the seats. You just need 25 house seats and five senate seats and use those numbers as voting blocs. Here’s the important thing abut those 5 senate seats, you would need those senators to use the old fashioned filibuster as a group. You would’nt necessarily have to win but with five senators working together you could change things. You could at least use it to counter the GOP filibuster. Who knows. Perhaps they would get rid of the filibuster which would be fine in that its used to defeat mostly progressive measures all the time. I really wish Ralph would go after Joe Biden’s seat or, all those seats where you have DLC dems running against the GOP (nothing changes)…You do need to raise at least 1 million to contest a house seat and 2 million dollars to contest a senate seat using a paid field canvass (which I could run if anyone is asking) and internet media until the last few weeks of the election.

I think Ralph could win a decently funded campaign running against the two party system. I really think he could beat Joe Biden. I don’t think he has a realistic chance at the presidency.

Philip Shropshire
www.threeriversonline.com

PS: I did some paid sig work for Ralph in Pennsylvania. Wasn’t easy. I’m also a lifelong fan of Ralph and think he’s the greatest journalist who ever lived.

Speaking of bad third party runs, looks like strictly symbolic Green Party candidate Titus North is about to make a go of it again.

Of course, there are some local races that just scream out for a third party run. How about a race against our GOP-lite. icon of machine corruption/incompetence, future DLCer Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl?

Nope. Gonna pass huh.

Well, how about Pro Fisa, Pro Iraq war insurance lobbyist jock Jason Altmire, who is one of the few Northern candidates to be targeted by Open Left as a Bush Dog Democrat?

Nyet again you say.

Certainly, it couldn’t be US Congressman Mike Doyle, the guy who voted to slash Iraq War funding and just brought the entire FCC to town to fight for Net Neutrality, not him right?

Wrong.

Titus North is running against Mike Doyle. I guess, for a green, when you vote badly on coal issues it doesn’t matter if you voted the right way in order to stop killing Iraqis. Thanks Titus. I’m glad that people who think that environmentalists don’t have their priorities straight can’t gloat too much about your decision to run. See clip below. I am impressed with his Japanese though.


Broadcast vs. :The Bird and The Bee

Girl fight! More on Inara George, yet another COM pletely unapproachable alt pop icon that I can obsess over.

See what happens when you make a joke?

My wife bought some printable tattoo paper, and while joking about the necessity of a Wolverine tat, I saw this:

I found this fitting enough to post here

BREAKING: Willie Nelson agrees to Farm Aid-type event in support of Impeachment

Willie Nelson, speaking on the Alex Jones show, has just announced that he would be a driving factor in a new Farm Aid-type event that will focus on supporting Dennis Kucinich’s efforts to impeach george bush. It will also be an anti-war event. This plan is literally coming together as I type. Willie has just committed to it.

Mr. Nelson also believes that the event could be used as a platform for those who do not believe the government’s official story of 9/11 to speak out and let their feelings be known.

The event was conceived by a caller into the Alex Jones radio show just minutes ago who suggested that Willie back or organize the event as a way to take the efforts to impeach bush and advocate for a new 9/11 investigation, which is supported by the majority of victims’ families, to the next level.

The venue will be either in New York City or in Austin, Texas. Both Mr. Nelson and Mr. Jones agree that the event should be held soon so that it can be used as a way to enhance Congressman Kucinich’s efforts.

This is a developing story and is unfolding on air.

If anyone can pull this off and make the media pay attention, it’s Willie Nelson.

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