Jul 18

- Pentagon, CIA Sued for Lethal Drone Attacks on U.S. Citizens (Wired, July 18, 2012):

Survivors of three Americans killed by targeted drone attacks in Yemen last year sued top-ranking members of the United States government, alleging Wednesday they illegally killed the three, including a 16-year-old boy, in violation of international human rights law and the U.S. Constitution.

“The government has killed three Americans. It should account for its actions. This case gives us an opportunity to do that,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a press call.

The suit, (.pdf) being litigated by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, seeks unspecified damages and highlights the government’s so-called unmanned drone “targeted killing” program that the ACLU and the center maintain have killed thousands, including hundreds of innocent bystanders overseas.

The suit, the first of its kind, alleges the United States was not engaged in an armed conflict with or within Yemen, prohibiting the use of lethal force unless “at the time it is applied, lethal force is a last resort to protect against a concrete, specific, and imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.” The case directly challenges the government’s decision to kill Americans without judicial scrutiny.

Continue reading »

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Mar 12

More openness and transparency …

- DOJ Asks Court To Keep Secret Any Partnership Between Google, NSA (Legal Times, March 09, 2012):

The Justice Department is defending the government’s refusal to discuss—or even acknowledge the existence of—any cooperative research and development agreement between Google and the National Security Agency.

Continue reading »

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Feb 26

- FBI Turns Off Thousands of GPS Devices After Supreme Court Ruling (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 25, 2012):

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.

After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.

Continue reading »

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Nov 14

- US court verdict ‘huge blow’ to privacy, says fomer WikiLeaks aide (Guardian, Nov. 11, 2011):

Icelandic MP and former WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jonsdottir has slammed the decision by US courts to open her Twitter account to the US authorities and is taking her case to the Council of Europe.

On Thursday a US judge ruled Twitter must release the details of her account and those of two other Twitter users linked to WikiLeaks. Jonsdottir learned in January that her Twitter account was under scrutiny from the Justice Department because of her involvement last year with WikiLeaks’ release of a video showing a US military helicopter shooting two Reuters reporters in Iraq. She believes the US authorities want to use her information to try and build a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“This is a huge blow for everybody that uses social media,” said Jonsdottir. “We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline. Imagine if the US authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. There would be a hell of a fight. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

She said she would press for the Council of Europe to act on the case, which she believes sets a worrying precedent for private citizens and politicians across the world.

Continue reading »

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Oct 17


YouTube Added: 15.10.2011

See also:

- Freedom Watch: Judge Napolitano Accuses AG Holder Of Using Iran Assassination Plot To Distract From ‘Fast And Furious’ Scandal (Video)

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Oct 03

Flashback:

- President Obama Argues His Unconstitutional Assassination Program Is A ‘State Secret’

- Dylan Ratigan Show: President Obama ‘Has A Hit List Of American Citizens Like YOU targeted For Assassination’

- US government can execute its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence!

- Rep. Ron Paul on Obama seeking to assassinate ‘US citizens’ he labels as terrorist


- The Secret Memo That Explains Why Obama Can Kill Americans (The Atlantic, Oct. 3, 2011):

Outside the U.S. government, President Obama’s order to kill American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without due process has proved controversial, with experts in law and war reaching different conclusions. Inside the Obama Administration, however, disagreement was apparently absent, or so say anonymous sources quoted by the Washington Post. “The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials,” the newspaper reported. “The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said.”

Isn’t that interesting? Months ago, the Obama Administration revealed that it would target al-Awlaki. It even managed to wriggle out of a lawsuit filed by his father to prevent the assassination. But the actual legal reasoning the Department of Justice used to authorize the strike? It’s secret. Classified. Information that the public isn’t permitted to read, mull over, or challenge.

Why? What justification can there be for President Obama and his lawyers to keep secret what they’re asserting is a matter of sound law? This isn’t a military secret. It isn’t an instance of protecting CIA field assets, or shielding a domestic vulnerability to terrorism from public view. This is an analysis of the power that the Constitution and Congress’ post September 11 authorization of military force gives the executive branch. This is a president exploiting official secrecy so that he can claim legal justification for his actions without having to expose his specific reasoning to scrutiny. As the Post put it, “The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting Aulaqi, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.”

Obama hasn’t just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set. It’s time for the president who promised to create “a White House that’s more transparent and accountable than anything we’ve seen before” to release the DOJ memo. As David Shipler writes, “The legal questions are far from clearcut, and the country needs to have this difficult discussion.” And then there’s the fact that “a good many Obama supporters thought that secret legal opinions by the Justice Department — rationalizing torture and domestic military arrests, for example — had gone out the door along with the Bush administration,” he adds. “But now comes a momentous change in policy with serious implications for the Constitution’s restraint on executive power, and Obama refuses to allow his lawyers’ arguments to be laid out on the table for the American public to examine.” What doesn’t he want to get out? Continue reading »

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May 11

We will always remember this:

- Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein: I’m doing ‘God’s work’.

And doing God’s work is rewarding:

“Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman’s chief executive, for example, has cashed in a total of $93.8 million in shares since 1999, a number that captures both known stock sales since he became an officer at Goldman, and sales not individually reported since before he was required to disclose such transactions.

In the eight years since becoming a senior executive in 2002, Mr. Blankfein has sold $42.5 million, roughly 45 percent of the total over the years.

As of August, Mr. Blankfein and his family owned 2.03 million shares worth about $355 million if they had been cashed out on Jan. 14.”


A Senate committee has laid out the evidence. Now the Justice Department should bring criminal charges


‘Lord’ Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, is sworn in while testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill on April 27, 2010 in Washington, DC.

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

Continue reading »

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Apr 28

(NaturalNews) CDC researcher Poul Thorsen, who famously headed up the “Denmark Study” that many claim disproved any link between autism and vaccines, has been indicted in Atlanta by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, money laundering and defrauding research institutions of grant money.

Poul Thorson is a scientist who formerly worked for the CDC, and over the last several years, he oversaw millions of dollars in grant money that was used to conduct research to “prove” that vaccines have no link to autism. Dr. Thorson’s research papers include the famous “Danish Study” entitled Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…)

This paper concludes that thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative used in vaccines around the world, has no statistically significant link to autism. It is one of the key papers used by vaccination proponents who argue that thimerosal is safe to inject into young children. That Poul Thorson’s credibility is now being called into question by a federal indictment of fraud and money laundering will, of course, have ripple effects throughout both the vaccine industries and autism support groups (more about that below).

Be sure to see our “Web of Alleged Fraud” chart which accompanies this article: http://www.naturalnews.com/files/We…

Follow the money

Continue reading »

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Feb 18

Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them


Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

Instead, federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. “If the allegations in these settlements are true,” says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, “it’s management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims.”

To understand the significance of this, one has to think carefully about the efficacy of fines as a punishment for a defendant pool that includes the richest people on earth — people who simply get their companies to pay their fines for them. Conversely, one has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. “You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

But that hasn’t happened. Because the entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is fucked up.

Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.

Continue reading »

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May 09

kbr-selected-for-no-bid-military-contract-as-us-alleges-kickbacks

May 6 (Bloomberg) — KBR Inc. was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq, the Army said.

The Army announced its decision yesterday only hours after the Justice Department said it will pursue a lawsuit accusing the Houston-based company of taking kickbacks from two subcontractors on Iraq-related work. The Army also awarded the work to KBR over objections from members of Congress, who have pushed the Pentagon to seek bids for further logistics contracts.

The Justice Department said the government will join a suit filed by whistleblowers alleging that two freight-forwarding firms gave KBR transportation department employees kickbacks in the form of meals, drinks, sports tickets and golf outings.

“Defense contractors cannot take advantage of the ongoing war effort by accepting unlawful kickbacks,” Assistant Attorney General Tony West said in a statement.

KBR, the Army’s largest contractor in Iraq, will review the litigation when it is received and “will continue to cooperate with the government,” company spokeswoman Heather Browne said in an e-mail. “Gifts of dinners, baseball tickets and similar items would violate KBR policies and KBR was not aware of these violations.” Continue reading »

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Mar 27

wall-street-sign
A Wall Street sign hangs near the New York Stock Exchange in New York, on Dec. 18, 2009. (Bloomberg)

March 26 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG were among more than a dozen Wall Street firms involved in a conspiracy to pay below-market interest rates to U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case.

A government list of previously unidentified “co- conspirators” contains more than two dozen bankers at firms also including Bank of America Corp., Bear Stearns Cos., Societe Generale, two of General Electric Co.’s financial businesses and Salomon Smith Barney, the former unit of Citigroup Inc., according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

It all began with the ruling that a corporation is legally a ‘person’, which undermined the constitution and was dead wrong.

Then in another case (1980 Diamond v. Chakrabarty) those idiot supreme court judges ruled that it is OK to patent life forms, were before life forms were considered a part of nature and were not patentable.

This ruling lead to corporations patenting the genes of everything they can think of, that could later on bring them profit.


hugh-grant-chief-executive-officer-of-monsanto
Hugh Grant, chief executive officer of Monsanto Co., speaks during an interview in Chicago, Illinois, on Jan. 8, 2010. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

March 12 (Bloomberg) — Monsanto Co., facing antitrust probes into its genetically modified seeds, may benefit from previous court rulings in which intellectual property rights trumped competition concerns, antitrust lawyers say.

The Department of Justice and seven state attorneys general are investigating whether the world’s largest seed company is using gene licenses to keep competing technologies off the market. At issue is how the St. Louis-based company sells and licenses its patented trait that allows farmers to kill weeds with Roundup herbicide while leaving crops unharmed. The company’s Roundup Ready gene was in 93 percent of U.S. soybeans last year.

“Justice is clearly trying every way it can to see whether Monsanto is exceeding its rights under the patent,” said James Weiss, a Washington-based attorney at K&L Gates LLP who helped defend Microsoft Corp. against a federal antitrust probe. “At the end of the day, they may not be able to do much with it because of the scope of those patents. In almost all the cases, the courts come out on the side of intellectual property.” Continue reading »

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Jan 08

sexabuseyouthdetention

Some 12 percent of minors held in government custody are sexually abused, and in some facilities the rate reaches a stunning one in three children, says a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The first-ever National Survey of Youth in Custody found that no less than 10 percent of the 26,550 juveniles being held in detention facilities in the US are abused by staff at the facility, while another 2.6 percent report abuse at the hands of other inmates.

Among the facilities studied were six identified to have rates of sexual abuse as high as three in 10. According to the Associated Press, those six facilities are Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana; Corsicana Residential Treatment Center in Texas; Backbone Mountain Youth Center in Swanton, Maryland; Samarkand Youth Development Center in Eagle Springs, North Carolina.; Cresson Secure Treatment Unit in Pennsylvania; and the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center, Long Term, in Mitchells, Virginia.

“The widespread sexual abuse of children in juvenile facilities shows that public officials either aren’t paying attention or can’t be bothered to do the right thing,” said Jamie Fellner, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch. “The high rates of victimization are powerful testimony to the failure of governments to safeguard the boys and girls in their care.”

The study was mandated by a 2003 law, the National Prison Rape Elimination Act, which also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Human Rights Watch notes that six months ago the commission set out “comprehensive, effective standards for the prevention, detection, and punishment of prison rape,” but the Justice Department has yet to act on those recommendations.

“Every day Attorney General Eric Holder fails to promulgate national prison rape elimination standards is another day in which kids and adults are being abused behind bars,” Fellner said. “The attorney general already has on his desk proposed standards that reflect the best thinking and effective practices to end this widespread scourge. There is no need to reinvent the wheel or to delay moving forward.”

The survey found that gay youth were at higher risk than heterosexual youth, with one in five reporting abuse at the hands of a staffer or fellow inmate. Males were more likely to report being abused than females (10.8 percent to 4.7 percent). And 95 percent of those abused by staff reported that the abuser was female. But that number may be influenced by the fact that 91 percent of youth in custody are male.

The AP reports:

Although advocates said the level of abuse wasn’t surprising, the prevalence of sexual abuse by staff, particularly female workers, was shocking, said Linda McFarlane, deputy executive director of Just Detention International, which fights to end sexual abuse of those who are detained.

“Many of these are already the most vulnerable and traumatized youth from all of our communities and they’re placed for custody because they’re considered to be a danger,” she said. “If sexually abused in those very institutions that are supposed to help them prepare for life in the community, then it’s just an incredible travesty.”

Continue reading »

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Dec 03

yahoo

A little-noticed letter from Yahoo! to the US Marshals Service offers troubling insight into the surveillance policies of one of the Internet’s largest email providers.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details of Yahoo’s! policies allowing the Justice Department to request wiretaps of its users and the amount they charge US taxpayers per wiretap — the search engine leviathan declared in a 12-page letter that they couldn’t provide information on their approach because their pricing scheme would “shock” customers. The news was first reported by Kim Zetter at Wired.

“It is reasonable to assume from these comments that the [pricing] information, if disclosed, would be used to “shame” Yahoo! and other companies — and to “shock” their customers,” a lawyer for the company writes. “Therefore, release of Yahoo!’s information is reasonably likely to lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security, which is a competitive disadvantage for technology companies.”

Yahoo! also argues that because their price sheet for wiretaps was “voluntarily submitted” to the US Marshals Service, it is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act law.

Verizon, meanwhile, says (letter PDF) they can’t provide details on how much they charge for wiretaps because it would be “confusing.”

“Customers may see a listing of records, information or assistance that is available only to law enforcement,” Verizon writes, “but call in to Verizon and seek those same services. Such calls would stretch limited resources, especially those that are reserved only for law enforcement emergencies.”

Consumers might “become unnecessarily afraid that their lines have been tapped or call Verizon to ask if their lines are tapped (a question we cannot answer),” the telecom giant adds.

Verizon also revealed it “receives tens of thousands of requests for customer records, or other customer information from law enforcement.”

Continue reading »

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Sep 08

A MUST-READ!

For clarification:

Author’s Note: What you have just read didn’t actually happen… yet.

This is an open letter to the President requesting a new investigation.

Charlie Sheen.


Reported by Charlie Sheen

charlie-sheen-interview-with-president-obama-01

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with our 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, while he was out promoting his health care reform initiative. I requested 30 minutes given the scope and detail of my inquiry; they said I could have 20. Twenty minutes, 1200 seconds, not a lot of time to question the President about one of the most important events in our nation’s history. The following is a transcript of our remarkable discussion.


Charlie Sheen – Good afternoon Mr. President, thank you so much for taking time out of your demanding schedule.

President Barack Obama – My pleasure, the content of your request seemed like something I should carve out a few minutes for.

CS – I should point out that I voted for you, as your promises of hope and change, transparency and accountability, as well as putting government back into the hands of the American people, struck an emotional chord in me that I hadn’t felt in quite some time, perhaps ever.

PBO – And I appreciate that Charlie. Big fan of the show, by the way.

CS – Sir, I can’t imagine when you might find the time to actually watch my show given the measure of what you inherited.

PBO – I have it Tivo’d on Air Force One. Nice break from the traveling press corps. (He glances at his watch) not to be abrupt or to rush you, but you have 19 minutes left.

CS – I’ll take that as an invitation to cut to the chase.

PBO – I’m all ears. Or so I’ve been told.

CS – Sir, in the very near future we will be experiencing our first 9/11 anniversary with you as Commander in Chief.

PBO – Yes. A very solemn day for our Nation. A day of reflection and yet a day of historical consciousness as well.

CS – Very much so sir, very much so indeed…. Now; In researching your position regarding the events of 9/11 and the subsequent investigation that followed, am I correct to understand that you fully support and endorse the findings of the commission report otherwise known as the ‘official story’?

PBO – Do I have any reason not to? Given that most of us are presumably in touch with similar evidence.

CS – I really wish that were the case, sir. Are you aware, Mr. President, of the recent stunning revelations that sixty percent of the 9/11 commissioners have publicly stated that the government agreed not to tell the truth about 9/11 and that the Pentagon was engaged in deliberate deception about their response to the attack?

PBO – I am aware of certain “in fighting” during the course of their very thorough and tireless investigative process.

CS – Mr. President, it’s hard to label this type of friction as “in fighting” or make the irresponsible leap to “thorough,” when the evidence I insist you examine regarding 6 of the 10 members are statements of fact.

(At this point one of Obama’s senior aides approaches the President and whispers into his ear. Obama glances quickly at his watch and nods as the aide resumes his post at the doorway, directly behind me.)

PBO – No disrespect Mr. Sheen, but I have to ask; what is it that you seem to be implying with the initial direction of this discussion?

CS – I am not implying anything Mr. President. I am here to present the facts and see what you plan to do with them.

PBO – Let me guess; your ‘facts,’ allegedly supporting these claims are in the folders you brought with you?

CS – Good guess Mr. President.

(I hand the first folder of documents to the President)

CS – Again sir, these are not my opinions or assumptions, this is all a matter of public record, reported through mainstream media, painstakingly fact checked and verified.

(the President glances into the folder I handed him)

CS – You’ll notice sir on page one of the dossier dated August of ’06 from the Washington Post, the statements of John Farmer, senior council to the 9/11 commission, his quote stating, “I was shocked how different the truth was from the way it was described.”

PBO – (as he glances down at the report, almost inaudible) …. um hmm….

CS – He goes on to further state “The [NORAD Air Defense] tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years….”

(the President continues to view the documents)

CS – On pages two and three, sir, are the statements, as well, from commission co-chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, commissioners Bob Kerrey, Timothy Roemer and John Lehman, as well as the statements of commissioner Max Cleland, an ex-Senator from Georgia , who resigned, stating:

“It is a national scandal. This investigation is now compromised. One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9/11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up.”

He also described President Bush’s desire to delay the process as not to damage the ‘04 re-election bid. They suspected deception to the point where they considered referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. Mr. President, this information alone is unequivocally grounds for a new investigation!

PBO – Mistakes were clearly made but we as a people and as a country need to move forward. It is obviously in our best interest as a democratic society to focus our efforts and our resources on the future of this great nation and our ability to protect the American people and our allies from this type of terrorism in the coming years.

CS – Sir, how can we focus on the future when THE COMMISSION ITSELF is on record stating that they still do not know the truth??

PBO – Even if what you state, might in some capacity, begin to approach an open discussion or balanced debate, I can’t speak for, or about the decisions certain commission members made during an extremely difficult period. Perhaps you should be interviewing them instead of me. Wait, don’t tell me; I was easier to track down than they were?

CS – Not exactly sir, but let’s be honest. You’re the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, the buck stops with you. 9/11 has been the pretext for the systematic dismantling of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Your administration is reading from the same playbook that the Bush administration foisted on America through documented secrecy and deception.

PBO – Mr. Sheen, I’m having a difficult time sitting here and listening to you draw distorted parallels between the Bush/Cheney regime and mine.

CSMr. President the parallels are not distorted just because you say they are. Let’s stick to the facts. You promised to abolish the Patriot Act and then voted to re-authorize it. You pledged to end warrantless wire tapping against the American people and now energetically defend it. You decried the practice of rendition and now continue it. You promised over and over again on the campaign trail, that you would end the practice of indefinite detention and instead, you have expanded it to permanent detention of “detainees” without trial. This far exceeds the outrages of the former administration. Call me crazy Mr. President, but is this not your record?

PBO – Mr. Sheen, my staff and I authorized this interview based on your request to discuss 9/11 and deliver some additional information you’re convinced I’d not previously reviewed. Call me crazy, But it appears as though you’ve blindly wandered off topic.

CS – Sir, the examples I just illustrated are a direct result of 9/11.

PBO – And I’m telling you that we must move forward, we must endure through these dangerous and politically challenging years ahead.

CS – Mr. President, we cannot move forward with a bottomless warren of unanswered questions surrounding that day and its aftermath.

PBO – I read the official report. Every word every page. Perhaps you should do the same.

CS – I have sir, and so have thousands of family members of the victims, and guess what; they have the same questions I do and probably a lot more. I didn’t lose a loved one on that horrific day Mr. President and neither did you. But since then I, along with millions of other Americans lost something we held true and dear for most of our lives in this great country of ours; we lost our hope.

PBO – And I’d like to believe that I am here to restore that hope. To restore confidence in your leaders, in the system that the voting public chose through a peaceful transfer of power.

(An odd moment of silence between us. Precious time ticking away).

CS – Mr. President, are you aware of the number of days it took to begin the investigation into JFK’s assassination?

PBO – If memory serves I believe it was two weeks.

CS – Close. Seventeen days to be exact. Are you aware sir, how long it took to begin the investigation into Pearl Harbor?

PBO – I would say again about….two weeks.

CS – Close again sir, eleven days to be exact. Are you aware Mr. President how long it took to begin the investigation into 9/11?

PBO – I know it must have seemed like a very long time for all the grieving families.

CS – It was a very long time Mr. President – four hundred and forty days. Roughly 14 months. Does it bother you Mr. President that it only took FIVE HOURS for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the initial attack to recommend and endorse a full scale offensive against Iraq? Continue reading »

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Aug 31

Now revealing the TRUTH has become a recruitment beacon for Al-Qaeda!

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

“It is error alone which needs the support of government.  Truth can stand by itself. ”
- Thomas Jefferson

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies. Let the revolution begin!”
- Ron Paul


Jameel Jaffer dug up torture memos.JPG
Jameel Jaffer dug up torture memos.

One of the key figures behind the cascade of documents detailing torture and abuse within America’s global “war on terror” happens to be a Canadian-born graduate of Toronto’s Upper Canada College.

Jameel Jaffer, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer born in London, Ont., was instrumental in filing and fighting an unlikely Freedom of Information Act request that eventually unearthed thousands of pages of secret documents which illustrated damning evidence of U.S. government complicity in violations of international humanitarian law.

“A lot of the documents describe abuses that are really horrific,” he said in an interview. “It was hard to believe that these incidents had occurred in facilities run by the United States.”

Jaffer told the Star last night that this type of lengthy and expensive legal muck-raking is unlikely to occur in Canada because grants and funding are so scarce. “There are people doing this kind of work in Canada and they have a tough job,” he said.”

The request was filed by Jaffer and fellow ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh – daughter of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – in October 2003, before the disturbingly iconic Abu Ghraib prison photographs emerged. When those photos came out in April of 2004, they spurred Jaffer and Singh to press their request in court, which is sometimes the only way to successfully pursue an FOI request.

Six years later, more than 130,000 pages of previously classified evidence has trickled out; much of it has been seized upon by critics of America’s seemingly unending global war on terrorism.

The documents uncovered by Jaffer and Singh are a gruesome testament to the grim realities of the post-9/11 world: they revealed fissures between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the military over how to treat detainees at Guantanamo Bay; vivid descriptions of conditions within the CIA’s overseas “black site” prisons, where detainees were sent without trial; the Justice Department “torture memos,” which revealed prominent U.S. officials had essentially signed-off on torture; and autopsies of prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The evidence has been seized upon by supporters of the war as well, who say Jaffer and the ACLU have given a propaganda weapon and recruitment beacon for Al Qaeda.

“In general, I think our position is that national security is increasingly used as a pretext to suppress information that would embarrass government officials and information related to criminal activity,” Jaffer told the Star. “And we think that the abuse of national security for those ends is something that, in the end, jeopardizes not just security but democracy as well, and that’s really what motivates a lot of these cases.”

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Jul 09

ubs_headquarters
The UBS AG headquarters are seen on Paradeplatz in Zurich on May 1, 2009. (Bloomberg)

July 8 (Bloomberg) — Switzerland said it would seize UBS AG data to prevent the U.S. Justice Department from pursuing a U.S. court order seeking the identities of 52,000 American account holders in a crackdown on tax evaders.

The assertion came in court papers yesterday in federal court in Miami, where the Justice Department sued UBS on Feb. 19, a day after the bank avoided U.S. prosecution for helping wealthy Americans evade taxes. The U.S. effort to enforce a summons seeking the names would force UBS to violate Swiss laws barring disclosure of such data, the filing said.

The Swiss government “will use its legal authority to ensure that the bank cannot be pressured to transmit the information illegally, including if necessary by issuing an order taking effective control of the data at UBS that is the subject of the summons,” according to the filing.

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May 04


By JAMES G. ABOUREZK

(James G. Abourezk is a lawyer practicing in South Dakota. He is a former United States senator and the author of two books.)

Where’s the Justice at the Justice Department?

The big news last week was the defection of Republican Senator Arlen Specter to the Democrats; the bankruptcy filing of the Chrysler Corporation, and finally, the retirement of Justice David Souter from the U.S. Supreme Court.

A much smaller news item competing with these sensational stories was that the U.S. Justice Department announced that it is dropping the espionage charges against two former AIPAC agents. The story was so small that it barely was a blip on the media’s radar, bringing absolutely no comment on the network news and talk shows.

That’s known as clever public relations. Announce the bad news on a day when it won’t be noticed.

Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman had been charged in 2005 with the crime of espionage; specifically, handing over to Israel secret information they had retrieved from Larry Franklin, who was then a policy analyst in the U.S. Defense Department, working for Douglas Feith and for Paul Wolfowitz.

Related article: Lawyers credit Obama team for dismissing AIPAC case

Franklin pleaded guilty to relaying top secret information on Iran to Rosen and Weissman, and was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months in prison, a term he is currently serving.

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May 04

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Lawyers for the two former AIPAC staffers charged four years ago with dealing in government secrets credited the Obama administration for dropping the case.

“We are extremely grateful that this new Administration, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia, has taken seriously their obligation to evaluate cases on the merits and not to allow an unjust prosecution to continue solely due to momentum,” said the joint statement by lawyers for Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman issued Friday, hours after the government filed for a dismissal of the charges against the two former senior staffers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “This Administration truly shows that theirs is a Department of Justice, where the justice of any case can be re-evaluated and the government can admit that a case should not be pursued.”

Related article: The AIPAC Spy Case

Sources close to the defense said the investigation, which first came to light in 2004 when FBI agents raided AIPAC offices, appeared to be of a piece with the Bush administration policy of expanding its secrecy powers that President Obama has said he will reverse. Rosen and Weissman were the first civilians to be prosecuted under 1917 statute that criminalizes the receipt and retention of classified information.

JTA has learned that the defense lawyers two months ago launched an intensified effort to get Obama appointees at the Justice Department to review the case.

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Feb 21

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, siding with the Bush White House, contended Friday that detainees in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights.

In a two-sentence court filing, the Justice Department said it agreed that detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. The filing shocked human rights attorneys.

“The hope we all had in President Obama to lead us on a different path has not turned out as we’d hoped,” said Tina Monshipour Foster, a human rights attorney representing a detainee at the Bagram Airfield. “We all expected better.”

The Supreme Court last summer gave al-Qaida and Taliban suspects held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the right to challenge their detention. With about 600 detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and thousands more held in Iraq, courts are grappling with whether they, too, can sue to be released.

Three months after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Guantanamo Bay, four Afghan citizens being detained at Bagram tried to challenge their detentions in U.S. District Court in Washington. Court filings alleged that the U.S. military had held them without charges, repeatedly interrogating them without any means to contact an attorney. Their petition was filed by relatives on their behalf since they had no way of getting access to the legal system.

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Dec 16

Civil Rights Groups Assail Change


Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) advocates DNA collection at arrest or deportation. (2006 Photo By Melina Mara — The Washington Post)

Immigration and civil liberties groups condemned a new U.S. government policy to collect DNA samples from all noncitizens detained by authorities and all people arrested for federal crimes.

The new Justice Department rule, published Wednesday and effective Jan. 9, dramatically expands a federal law enforcement database of genetic identifiers, which is now limited to storing information about convicted criminals and arrestees from 13 states.

Congress authorized the expansion in 2005, citing the power of DNA as a tool in crime solving and prevention.

The FBI created its National DNA Index System in 1994 to store profiles of people convicted of serious violent crimes, such as rape and murder, but the system has been expanded repeatedly, first to include all convicted felons, then misdemeanants and state arrestees. The data bank contained more than 6.2 million samples as of August, and officials estimate that 61,000 cases have been solved or assisted using DNA.

The change could add as many as 1.2 million people a year to the national database, U.S. officials said. Supporters equate DNA collection to taking fingerprints or photographs at the time of booking.

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Dec 06

Five security guards will be charged over the deaths of 17 Iraqis who were shot during an anti-American rally in Baghdad last year.

Blackwater security guards: Five security guards will be charged over the deaths of 17 Iraqis who were shot during an anti-American rally in Baghdad last year.
Blackwater gurads were hired to protect American diplomats Photo: AP

The employees of Blackwater Worldwide, who were hired by the US State Department to protect American diplomats, opened fire on a crowd who had gathered at an interstate in the Iraqi capital on September 16 2007.

Six guards have been under investigation since the attacks after witnesses claimed the shooting was unprovoked.

Blackwater continues to deny the allegations claiming its guards were ambushed by insurgents while responding to a car bombing.

Young children were among the victims and the shooting strained relations between the U.S. and Iraq.

Following the deaths, Blackwater became the subject insurgent propaganda videos in Iraq.

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Nov 21

An investigation by the agency’s inspector general finds that officials covered up details of the 2001 incident over Peru that killed two Americans and wounded three other people.

Reporting from Washington — An internal investigation by the CIA found that agency officials engaged in a cover-up to hide agency negligence in the downing of a private airplane over Peru in 2001 as part of a mistaken attack on an aircraft suspected of carrying illegal narcotics.

Excerpts of an internal CIA report released Thursday accuse agency officials of lying to members of Congress and withholding crucial information from criminal investigators and senior Bush administration officials.The disclosure could lead to the reopening of a probe into whether agency officials committed crimes in the attack on the aircraft, which was transporting American missionaries, and then covering it up.

The attack killed Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter and injured three others, including Bowers’ husband and young son. It was carried out by a Peruvian warplane working with CIA surveillance craft.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, described the revelations as “a dark stain” on the CIA and called for information to be shared with the Justice Department to determine whether reopening the investigation is warranted.

“To say these deaths did not have to happen is more than an understatement,” said Hoekstra, who added that the agency’s inspector general had uncovered “continuous efforts to cover the matter up and potentially block criminal investigation.”

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Nov 12

The Justice Department today announced that a senior Swiss banker has been indicted on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by helping about 20,000 U.S. clients hide $20 billion in assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

The indictment of Raoul Weil alleged that he conspired with a host of others at his bank, overseeing a business that employed encrypted laptops, numbered accounts and counter-surveillance techniques to help American clients conceal their identities and evade taxes.

Weil oversaw the bank’s cross-border business that catered to U.S. clients, generating about $200 million a year in revenue for the bank, the Justice Department said in a news release.

The announcement did not name the bank, describing it only as a large Swiss bank with offices worldwide.

A report on UBS’s Web site says an executive name Raoul Weil was head of UBS’s wealth management international business between 2002 and 2007. The indictment says the Raoul Weil charged in the case was head of the unnamed Swiss bank’s wealth management business from 2002 through 2007.

Weil was named chairman and chief executive of UBS’s global wealth management and business banking operations in 2007, the UBS site said.

Other bank executives “at the highest levels of management” are unindicted co-conspirators, according to the indictment.

The action announced today is part of a larger clash between the U.S. government and the tradition of secrecy that has been central to Switzerland’s lucrative banking industry.

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Sep 16

A GOP congressional leader who was wavering on giving President Bush authority to wage war in late 2002 said Vice President Cheney misled him by saying that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had direct personal ties to al-Qaeda terrorists and was making rapid progress toward a suitcase nuclear weapon.

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Sep 13

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department made public on Friday a plan to expand the tools the Federal Bureau of Investigation can use to investigate suspicions of terrorism inside the United States, even without any direct evidence of wrongdoing.

Justice Department officials said the plan, which is likely to be completed by the end of the month despite criticism from civil rights advocates, is intended to allow F.B.I. agents to be more aggressive and pre-emptive in assessing possible threats to national security.

It would allow an agent, for instance, to pursue an anonymous tip about terrorism by conducting an undercover interview or watching someone in a public place. Such steps are now prohibited unless there is more specific evidence of wrongdoing.

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Sep 11

Government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, federal investigators reported yesterday.

Investigators from the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office said more than a dozen employees, including the former director of the oil royalty program, took meals, ski trips, sports tickets and golf outings from industry representatives. The report alleges that the former director, Gregory W. Smith, also netted more than $30,000 from improper outside work.

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Sep 04

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. will stop selling interest-rate swaps to government borrowers in the $2.6 trillion U.S. municipal bond market roiled by an antitrust probe and the near bankruptcy of Alabama’s most-populous county.

At least seven former JPMorgan bankers are under scrutiny in a Justice Department criminal investigation of whether banks conspired to overcharge local governments on swaps and other derivatives. The bank also is embroiled in negotiations over how to resolve a debt crisis with Jefferson County, Alabama, where the county’s former adviser says a group of firms led by JPMorgan, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, overcharged it by as much as $100 million for financing a new sewer system.

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Aug 25

A top official warned of widening loan fraud in 2004, but the agency focused its resources elsewhere.


WASHINGTON — Long before the mortgage crisis began rocking Main Street and Wall Street, a top FBI official made a chilling, if little-noticed, prediction: The booming mortgage business, fueled by low interest rates and soaring home values, was starting to attract shady operators and billions in losses were possible.

“It has the potential to be an epidemic,” Chris Swecker, the FBI official in charge of criminal investigations, told reporters in September 2004. But, he added reassuringly, the FBI was on the case. “We think we can prevent a problem that could have as much impact as the S&L crisis,” he said.

Today, the damage from the global mortgage meltdown has more than matched that of the savings-and-loan bailouts of the 1980s and early 1990s. By some estimates, it has made that costly debacle look like chump change. But it’s also clear that the FBI failed to avert a problem it had accurately forecast.

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Aug 25

In this Feb. 25, 2005 file photo, Charles Ulrich talks about taxes from his
Charles Ulrich talks about taxes from his Baxter, Minn. home. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON – It took seven years, but Charles Ulrich did something many people dream about, but few succeed at: He beat the IRS in a tax dispute.
Not only that, but tax experts say potentially millions of other taxpayers could benefit from his victory.

The accountant from Baxter, Minn., challenged the method the IRS has used for more than 20 years to tax shares and cash distributed by mutual life insurance firms to their policyholders when they reorganize as public companies.

A federal court recently agreed with his interpretation.

“There’s a tremendous amount of money at stake,” said Robert Willens, a New York City-based tax analyst at Robert Willens LLC. “Tens of thousands of people could be in line for a refund.”

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