Tag Archive: ATF


The New American

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The Obama administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in particular, are under fire from across the political spectrum again after they were publicly exposed trying to censor a key whistleblower in the Fast and Furious federal gun-running scandal by preventing him from publishing a book about it. Claiming that publication of ATF Special Agent John Dodson’s manuscript would harm agency morale, official documents show that the out-of-control bureaucracy sought to violate the First Amendment in an apparent effort to avoid further scrutiny of its lawless activities. However, that attempt failed miserably, and the scandal is back in the headlines with a vengeance.

The Fast and Furious revelations showed, among other deadly serious scandals, that the ATF, disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, and other top officials conspired to send thousands of high-powered weapons to Mexican drug cartels at U.S. taxpayer expense. Many of those guns were used to murder Mexican citizens and even U.S. law-enforcement officers. It was later learned from official documents that the supposed “drug lords” allegedly being “investigated” were already on the FBI payroll, and that the administration was plotting to use the Fast and Furious violence to advance its unconstitutional assault on the Second Amendment.

After it sparked a wave of national and even global outrage, the administration tried to downplay the gun-running scheme as a mere “botched investigation” — and much of the media parroted that line. However, the ham-handed coverup and multiple lies under oath by top officials eventually resulted in Holder being held in criminal contempt of Congress. Separately, a federal lawsuit by U.S. lawmakers against the DOJ aimed at securing documents in the case recently moved forward despite the administration’s effort to stop it. The recent news even has some analysts publicly wondering whether senior officials might soon face justice.

Meanwhile, the fallout surrounding the scandal is far from finished, as Dodson’s book remains a hot topic nationwide. The ATF whistleblower’s saga, The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious, is already written. It has also received support from top U.S. lawmakers investigating the scandal, according to the Washington Times, which first reported the censorship story. The scheme to block publication also appears to be in legal trouble as forces all across the political spectrum rally behind Dodson’s efforts.

In an interview with CNN about his book, the ATF whistleblower blasted Fast and Furious and noted that there was a lot of information in his manuscript that has not yet been publicly reported. “It was the design of the operation, the methodology and the strategy that was employed that was in error from the beginning. And that’s a lot of what I think people don’t understand,” Dodson said. “We didn’t feel like we were doing our jobs at all. The reason I came to Phoenix in 2009 was to combat firearm trafficking. When we got here, we weren’t doing the basic fundamentals of law enforcement.”

The Obama administration, of course, has been seeking to coverup the scandal from the start — going so far as to repeatedly lie to Congress under oath and eventually even claim “executive privilege” to stop lawmakers from obtaining evidence. Apparently, the administration does not want the public learning more details either. Most recently, multiple bureaucrats cited various justifications to quash publication of the manuscript. “This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix [field division] and would have a detrimental effect on our relationships with DEA and FBI,” Dodson’s supervisors claimed in rejecting the request.

Top lawyers for the scandal-plagued agency agreed with the decision in a letter, claiming supervisors could kill the request for “any” reason. “An employee’s supervisory chain may disapprove any outside employment request for any reason, at any supervisory level,” ATF lawyer Greg Serres wrote in an August 29 letter to Dodson about publication of his book. (Emphasis in original.) “The Office of Chief Counsel cannot approve outside employment requests in lieu of the supervisory chain’s disapproval. Therefore, your request to engage in outside employment is denied.”

 

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ATF tries to block whistleblowing agent’s Fast and Furious book

1st Amendment battle over ‘gun-walking’ expose

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is blocking the main whistleblower in the Fast and Furious case from publishing a book, claiming his retelling of the Mexico “gun-walking” scandal will hurt morale inside the embattled law enforcement agency, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times.

ATF’s dispute with Special Agent John Dodson is setting up a First Amendment showdown that is poised to bring together liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and conservatives in Congress who have championed Mr. Dodson’s protection as a whistleblower.

The ACLU is slated to become involved in the case Monday, informing ATF it is representing Mr. Dodson and filing a formal protest to the decision to reject his request to publish the already written book, sources told The Times, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

The battle also could have repercussions on Capitol Hill, where the two lead investigators who helped uncover the Fast and Furious scandal, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, Calif. Republican, had written a foreword to the book, the sources said.

ATF officials declined Sunday night to discuss Mr. Dodson’s specific matter, citing personnel privacy. But the officials said it was possible for an agent to be rejected for publishing a book for pay but get permission to publish it for free. No manuscript for any Fast and Furious book has received approval for unpaid publication, however, the officials said.

A source famiiiar with Mr. Dodson’s book request told the Times that ATF officials never inquired whether he was seeking to publish the book for pay or free, and that the rejection came only after his superiors in Washington and Arizona asked to read the manuscript.

Mr. Dodson was the first ATF special agent to go public in 2011 with allegations that his supervisors had authorized the flow of semi-automatic weapons into Mexico instead of interdicting them, touching off a scandal that toppled most of the top leadership of ATF in Washington and Phoenix. The controversy also led to angry recriminations in Mexico, which dealt with a wave of violent crime linked to the weapons, and high-profile congressional hearings that embarrassed the Obama administration.

Mr. Dodson began penning a book late last year about his role as the central whistleblower in the case and in June sought formal permission for outside employment that would allow him to engage a publisher and publish the book. He gave a copy of the manuscript to Washington superiors in late May and to his immediate superiors in Arizona in July.

Documents show that one of Mr. Dodson’s supervisors in Arizona, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos Canino, rejected his request July 19 and was backed in the decision by the agent in charge of the office, Thomas G. Atteberry, four days later.

Their rejection made no claims that the book would release sensitive or classified information or compromise ongoing law enforcement proceedings.

Rather, the supervisors offered a different reason for their decision. “This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix [Field Division] and would have a detrimental effect on our relationships with DEA and FBI.”

The ATF general counsel’s office subsequently sanctioned the decision, all but killing the book project.

 

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File:President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.jpg

Image Source :  Wikimedia.org

Official White House photostream on Flickr, P012209PS-0151

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WASHINGTON August 29, 2013 (AP)
By JOSH LEDERMAN Associated Press

Months after gun control efforts crumbled in Congress, Vice President Joe Biden stood shoulder to shoulder Thursday with the attorney general and the top U.S. firearms official and declared the Obama administration would take two new steps to curb American gun violence.

But the narrow, modest scope of those steps served as pointed reminders that without congressional backing, President Barack Obama’s capacity to make a difference is severely inhibited.

Still, Biden renewed a pledge from him and the president to seek legislative fixes to keep guns from those who shouldn’t have them — a pledge with grim prospects for fulfillment amid the current climate on Capitol Hill.

“If Congress won’t act, we’ll fight for a new Congress,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “It’s that simple. But we’re going to get this done.”

One new policy will bar military-grade weapons that the U.S. sells or donates to allies from being imported back into the U.S. by private entities. In the last eight years, the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to come back to the U.S., the White House said, arguing that some end up on the streets. From now on, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.

The ban will largely affect antiquated, World War II-era weapons that, while still deadly, rarely turn up at crime scenes, leaving some to question whether the new policy is much ado about nothing.

“Banning these rifles because of their use in quote-unquote crimes is like banning Model Ts because so many of them are being used as getaway cars in bank robberies,” said Ed Woods, a 47-year-old from the Chico area of northern California.

Woods said he collects such guns because of their unique place in American history. He now wonders whether he’ll be prohibited from purchasing the type of M1 Garand rifle his father used during World War II. The U.S. later sold thousands of the vintage rifles to South Korea.

“Someday my kids will have something that possibly their grandfather, who they never had a chance to meet, is connected to,” Woods said in an interview.

The Obama administration is also proposing to close a loophole that it says allows felons and other ineligible gun purchasers to skirt the law by registering certain guns to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks before the corporation can register those guns.

Using the rule-making powers at his disposal, Obama can only place that restriction on guns regulated under the National Firearm Act, a 1934 law that only deals with the deadliest weapons, like machine guns and short-barreled shotguns. For the majority of weapons, there is no federal gun registration.

“It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s common sense,” Biden said of the measures he unveiled Thursday as he swore in Obama’s new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Todd Jones.

The quick reproach from gun control opponents, however, underscored that the same forces that thwarted gun control efforts in Congress have far from mellowed on the notion of stricter gun laws in the future.

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Politics, Legislation and Economy News

Government Overreach  :  Corruption

‘Fast and Furious’ ATF Official Granted Paid Leave to Take 6-Figure Job at JP Morgan

IssaRep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversigh and Government Reform Committee (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The long-awaited inspector general’s report on the Justice Department’s botched gun-running scheme is finished, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

But along with that news comes more questions: Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are demanding to know why a top ATF official involved in Operation Fast and Furious remains on paid leave from ATF — while simultaneously drawing a six-figure salary from J.P. Morgan, a major investment bank.

In a letter to the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Issa and Grassley asked why the Justice Department would approve such a special arrangement for Bill McMahon.

“Under any reading of the relevant personnel regulations, it appears that ATF management was under no obligation to approve this sort of arrangement,” wrote Issa and Grassley. “Given McMahon’s outsized role in the Fast and Furious scandal, the decision to approve an extended annual leave arrangement in order to attain pension eligibility and facilitate full-time, outside employment while still collecting a full-time salary at ATF raises a host of questions about both the propriety of the arrangement and the judgment of ATF management.”

Issa and Grassley say the ATF has made it possible for McMahon to “double dip for nearly half a year by receiving two full-time paychecks — one from the taxpayer and one from the private sector.”

They  noted that the treatment of McMahon is “in sharp contrast” to how the ATF has treated whistleblowers such as Special Agent John Dodson, “who is told he must wait until the Inspector General’s report is complete before the agency will even consider his simple request for a statement retracting the false statements made about him by agency leadership.”

Issa and Grassley noted that ATF approved the arrangement for McMahom before the Justice Department inspector general finished his report on the failed gun tracking scheme.

As for the IG report examining Fast and Furious, as well as the Justice Department’s knowledge of and response to it, Issa said the report is done:

“We know that the IG report is finished, we know that it’s at Justice, and we know that we can’t see it. We’re hoping, though, that they will release it,” Issa told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday.

Issa said he’s “positive” that the IG’s report “is going to say the same thing our report has said, which is — this is somebody (Bill McMahon) who is responsible for and signed documents that he told our committee he didn’t see, didn’t know about. Now, the only question is — did he not read them and sign them?”

“We’re dealing with somebody who should have been fired from ATF,” Issa added.

According to the final congressional report on Fast and Furious, William McMahon was a supervisor at ATF headquarters who served as a “crucial link” between ATF headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division.

“He received a wealth of information about Fast and Furious” — including the fact that straw purchasers had bought over 900 firearms, many of which ended up in Mexico — “but did not view it as his role as supervisor to ask questions about events in the field. He has publicly admitted to having failed in his duty to read information presented to him about the case.”

The report says McMahon rubber stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them.

McMahon also “gave false testimony to Congress about signing applications for wiretap intercepts in Fast and Furious,” the report says.

Operation Fast and Furious began in the fall of 2009 as part of a plan to track guns illegally purchased in the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. The ATF lost track of most of the 2,000 weapons that were allowed to “walk” into Mexico, and two of the straw-purchased guns ended up at the scene of a U.S. border agent’s murder.

(Issa told Fox News that news of McMahon’s double-dipping will produce “more outrage for the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.)

According to the final congressional report, “From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy.”

Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has accused Attorney General Eric Holder and other Justice Department officials of undermining his investigation into Fast and Furious.

Politics and Legislation

Payola for the Most Profitable Corporations in History
And Why Taxpayers Shouldn’t Stand for It Any More

By Bill McKibben

April 06, 2012 — Along with “five dollar a gallon gas,” the energy watchword for the next few months is: “subsidies.” Last week, for instance, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez proposed ending some of the billions of dollars in handouts enjoyed by the fossil-fuel industry with a “Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” It was, in truth, nothing to write home about — a curiously skimpy bill that only targeted oil companies, and just the five richest of them at that. Left out were coal and natural gas, and you won’t be surprised to learn that even then it didn’t pass.

Still, President Obama is now calling for an end to oil subsidies at every stop on his early presidential-campaign-plus-fundraising blitz — even at those stops where he’s also promising to “drill everywhere.” And later this month Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will introduce a much more comprehensive bill that tackles all fossil fuels and their purveyors (and has no chance whatsoever of passing this Congress).

Whether or not the bill passes, those subsidies are worth focusing on. After all, we’re talking at least $10 billion in freebies and, depending on what you count, possibly as much as $40 billion annually in freebie cash for an energy industry already making historic profits. If attacking them is a convenient way for the White House to deflect public anger over rising gas prices, it is also a perfect fit for the new worldview the Occupy movement has been teaching Americans. (Not to mention, if you think about it, the Tea Party focus on deficits.) So count on one thing: we’ll be hearing a lot more about them this year.

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Issa, Grassley hammer White House for stonewalling on ‘Fast and Furious’ witness

By Michael Volpe

The Obama administration is stonewalling two lawmakers’ requests to interview a former member of the National Security staff in connection with the failed Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program, according to a March 28 letter obtained by The Daily Caller.

California Rep. Darrell Issa and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, both Republicans, requested a response by April 4 to their letter, which asks for an interview with Kevin O’Reilly, that former staffer. But the White House, according to the letter, is blocking access to him.

Through staff, both Grassley and Issa confirmed to TheDC on Thursday that April 4 came and went without any response from the Obama administration.

In their letter to White House Counsel Karen Ruemmler, Grassley and Issa cited a cryptic email exchange between O’Reilly and William Newell, the special agent in charge of the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at the time Fast and Furious was implemented. The emails, their letter suggests, indicate that Newell was going around his chain of command to personally brief the White House about developments in the gun-walking program.

“You didn’t get this from me,” Newell wrote to O’Reilly in a Sept. 3, 2010 email about Fast and Furious, according to the letter from Issa and Grassley.

“Just don’t want ATF HQ to find out,” Newell wrote in am earlier email, “especially since this is what they should be doing (briefing you!).”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs, has not yet made complete copies of those emails available to reporters.

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Economy

Greek mourners: it was not suicide, it was financial murder – video

Athenians gather in the spot where a 77-year-old man shot himself dead over debts on Wednesday and a woman reads the man’s suicide letter to the crowd. Later in the evening the vigil turns to chaos when riot police use teargas on protesters. Mourners say the police attacks were unprovoked

View video Here

Ireland: Bailed Out Banks are in Process of Going Bust Again

By David McWilliam

April 06, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Ernest Hemingway was once asked how did he go bankrupt. The great man thought for a second and then replied: “I went bankrupt in two ways, gradually and then suddenly.”

When we see the figures coming from the various banks, it is not difficult to see that something similar is happening in Ireland. Whether the banks end up bust again, the second time in three years, will depend on how the ECB reacts but it looks like the banks, having been bailed out and having received huge government capital injections, could now be in the process of going bust.

As Mr Hemingway observed, people and entities go bust gradually, at first — this is the phase we are in. Then they go bust overnight. History suggests that after that happens, the economy will recover because we have to start again.

Interestingly, the reason that the banks might be going bust gradually is because the ECB is giving them money at 1pc so that they can mask the inconsistencies in their business model for another year or two. But when that money runs out or the ECB’s policy reverses, which it must eventually, where will they get the cash to operate?

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U.S. Standard of Living Has Fallen More Than 50%

By Jeff Nielson

April 06, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — In writing about the relentless collapse of Western economies, I frequently point to “forty years of plummeting wages” for Western workers, in real dollars. However, where I have been remiss is in quantifying the magnitude of this collapse in Western wages.

On several occasions I have glibly referred to how it now takes two spouses working to equal the wages of a one-income family of forty years ago. Unfortunately that is now an understatement. In fact, Western wages have plummeted so low that a two-income family is now (on average) 15% poorer than a one-income family of 40 years ago.

Using the year 2000 as the numerical base from which to “zero” all of the numbers, real wages peaked in 1970 at around $20/hour. Today the average worker makes $8.50 hour – more than 57% less than in 1970. And since the average wage directly determines the standard of living of our society, we can see that the average standard of living in the U.S. has plummeted by over 57% over a span of 40 years.

There are no “tricks” here. Indeed, all of the tricks are used by our governments. The green line shows average wages, discounted by inflation calculated with the same methodology for all 40 years. Obviously that is the only way in which we can compare any data over time: through applying identical parameters to it each year.

Then we have the blue line: showing wage data discounted with our “official” inflation rate. The problem? The methodology used by our governments to calculate inflation in 1975 was different from the method they used in 1985, which was different than the method they used in 1995, which was different than the method they used in 2005.

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Only 120,000 jobs added in March, missing economic expectations

By Vicki Needham

The economy added 120,000 jobs in March, well below what economists had predicted, while the unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 8.2 percent.

The number is nearly half the 210,000 expected and ends the streak of three straight months in which the economy added more than 200,000 jobs, according to a Labor Department report released Friday.

The news isn’t what the White House would want to see just as the labor market seemed to be improving at a faster pace.

With the economy remaining a top issue for voters, any perception that its growth is slowing down could hurt President Obama’s reelection effort.

Republicans immediately pounced on the news, attacking Obama’s economic policies.

Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, used the numbers to criticize the president.

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

We want war, and we want it now

By Pepe Escobar

It was deep into the night, somewhere over Siberia, in a Moscow to Beijing flight (BRIC to BRIC?) when the thought, like a lightning bolt, began to take hold.

What the hell is wrong with those Arabs?

Maybe it was the narcotic effect of that perennially dreadful Terminal F at Sheremetyevo airport – straight out of a Brejnev gulag. Maybe it was the anticipation of finding more about the Russia-China joint naval exercise scheduled for late April.

Or it was simply another case of “you can take the boy out of the Middle East, but you can’t take the Middle East out of the boy”.

With friends like these … It all had to do with that Friends of Syria (fools for war?) meeting in Istanbul. Picture Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal – who seems to have a knack for sending US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into rapture – feverishly arguing that the House of Saud, those paragons of democracy, had “a duty” to weaponize the Syrian “revolutionary” opposition.

And picture al-Faisal ordering an immediate ceasefire by the Bashar al-Assad government, guilty – according to the House of Saud – not only of cruel repression but crimes against humanity.

No; this was not a Monty Python sketch.

To make sure he was milking the right cow, al-Faisal also said that the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), also known as Gulf Cooperation Council, wanted to get further into bed with the United States. Translation, if any was needed; the US-GCC tag team, as expressed by the weaponization of the Syrian “rebels”, is meant to body slam Iran…..

Read Full Article Here

U.S. trained terror group

By Glenn Greenwald

When the U.S. wants to fund, train, arm or otherwise align itself with a Terrorist group or state sponsor of Terror — as it often does — it at least usually has the tact to first remove them from its formal terrorist list (as the U.S. did when it wanted to support Saddam in 1982 and work with Libya in 2006), or it just keeps them off the list altogether despite what former Council on Foreign Relations writer Lionel Beehner described as “mounds of evidence that [they] at one time or another abetted terrorists” (as it has done with close U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras armed and funded in the 1980s by the Reagan administration). But according to a new, multi-sourced report from The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, the U.S. did not even bother going through those motions when, during the Bush years, it trained the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) at a secretive Department of Energy site in Nevada:

It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. . . . The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

Read Full Article Here

Babar Ahmad: This interview is the last chance of ending my nightmare

Uploaded by StoptheWarCoalition on Apr 6, 2012

On 5 April 2012, Barbar Ahmad became the first prisoner in a British jail to be interviewed on television from behind bars in this BBC broadcast. He has been held for eight years in a UK jail without charge or trial, during which time he has been fighting extradition to the United States under controversial “war on terror” legislation. If he has done anything wrong, as a British citizen he asks that he be tried in his own country. MP Caroline Lucas, who has called for a public inquiry, says, “Babar Ahmad’s case shames us all.” To learn more about Babar Ahmad’s case, go to http://freebabarahmad.com

Kurdish opposition quits Syrian National Council

By Lauren Williams
The Daily Star

ISTANBUL: The Syrian Kurdish opposition bloc has walked away from the Syrian National Council, exposing deep and problematic rifts within the umbrella opposition group just days after international leaders granted the body extra recognition after attempts to unify.

Syrian Kurdish opposition leader Abdul-Baki Yousef, a leading member of the Kurdish Yakiti party in Syria and former member of the Kurdish National Council, charged host country Turkey with “pressuring the SNC” to omit the demands of the Kurdish opposition members in the final constitution document outlining a transition plan for Syria.

The fiercely divided SNC pulled the document together at the last minute under pressure to unite from the “Friends of Syria” group.

The Friends group – which includes Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Gulf states – recognized the SNC as “a legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” falling well short of the recognition as the legal government in exile they had hoped for after the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis in February.

“Our goal was to unify with the opposition and come up with a patriotic agreement that makes an umbrella for the whole opposition, but unfortunately the Turkish sponsor was very sensitive toward the Kurdish issue,” Yousef told The Daily Star. “We accuse the Turkish government of putting pressure on the council.”

Yousef said that negotiations ahead of the conference had outlined recognition of the Kurds, but claimed that those points had been removed in the final covenant.

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‘US to accept civilian nuke program in Iran’

President Obama signals Iran that US would endorse nuclear program if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backs up claim that Islamic Republic won’t purse atom bomb, US paper reports

Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama

has signaled Tehran that the Washington would accept an civilian nuclear program in Iran if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent claim that his nation “will never pursue nuclear weapons,” the Washington Post reported Friday.

According to the report, the verbal message was sent through Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met with Khamenei last week. A few days prior to leaving for the trip, Erdogan held a two-hour meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the nuclear security summit in Seoul, in which they discussed what the Turkish leader would tell Khamenei about the nuclear issue.

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Our Men in Iran?

Posted by Seymour M. Hersh

From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It’s a restricted area, and inhospitable—in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site’s security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.

It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. It was initially part of the broad-based revolution that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. But, within a few years, the group was waging a bloody internal war with the ruling clerics, and, in 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. In 2002, the M.E.K. earned some international credibility by publicly revealing—accurately—that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location. Mohamed ElBaradei, who at the time was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency, told me later that he had been informed that the information was supplied by the Mossad. The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

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Leaked Video Shows US Contractors Randomly Killing Civilians

Employees of the US military contracting group Academi (formerly Xe, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide) are seen in new leaked video shooting their machine guns at random while driving through the streets of Baghdad, crashing into other cars and even running over a pedestrian without hesitation.

Academi received a $250 million contract by the Obama administration to provide military services in Afghanistan.

Read Full Article Here

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Guilty Of Telling The Truth

20-Year Veteran to Face Jail Time for Act of Civil Disobedience

Retired Naval Commander Leah Bolger will appear in court Thursday, April 12, 2012 on charges stemming from her arrest on October 26th, 2011. Bolger, who is a peace activist and the President of Veterans For Peace, interrupted a public hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly known as the Super Committee.

Read Full Article Here

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

 

Groups Attempt to Influence Supreme Court on

 

Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times News Service:

“Justice Clarence Thomas likens all the outside political pressure that the Supreme Court is facing over its review of the Obama administration’s sweeping health care law to the distraction faced by a free-throw shooter confronted with fans waving wildly behind the basket…. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has helped lead opposition to the health care law, has been hosting moot court sessions to prepare lawyers involved in the case.”

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8084-groups-attempt-to-influence-supreme-court-on-health-care

 

Cash-for-access scandal leaves David Cameron’s UK government reeling

 

By msnbc.com and news services

LONDON — The government of British Prime Minister David Cameron was reeling on Monday after a video emerged showing his Conservative Party’s top fundraiser claiming to offer access to senior politicians in exchange for large donations.

In a sting operation, The Sunday Times (the newspaper operates behind a paywall) secretly videotaped fundraiser Peter Cruddas discussing donations. The film showed him telling undercover reporters: “200 grand ($317,000), 250 is premier league … it’ll be awesome for your business.”…..

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/26/10863431-cash-for-access-scandal-leaves-david-camerons-uk-government-reeling

 

 

Economy

 

Loan Forgiveness Good for the Economy, and Maybe Fannie and Freddie Mac Too

 

By Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica:

“New analyses by mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have added an explosive new dimension to one of the most politically charged debates about the housing crisis: Whether to reduce the amount of money beleaguered homeowners owe on their mortgages. Their conclusion: Such loan forgiveness wouldn’t just help keep hundreds of thousands of families in their homes, it would also save Freddie and Fannie money. That, in turn, would help taxpayers, who bailed out the companies at a cost of more than $150 billion and are still on the hook for future losses.”

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8085-loan-forgiveness-good-for-the-economy-and-maybe-for-fannie-and-freddie-mac-too

Wall Street gold rush in foreclosed homes

Investors seeking higher yields are drawn to foreclosures because the rental market is red hot. But the heated competition for foreclosed homes is reminiscent of the frothy expectations that seem to accompany each new Wall Street investing craze.

http://profit.ndtv.com/News/Article/wall-street-gold-rush-in-foreclosed-homes-300450

 

Feds say Wells Fargo won’t turn over documents

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Federal securities regulators are asking a federal court to order Wells Fargo & Co. to turn over documents in an investigation of the bank’s sale of $60 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement Friday that Wells Fargo agreed to produce the documents under subpoenas dating to September of 2011, but the bank has failed to hand over much of the requested material.

The agency has asked U.S. District Court in San Francisco to order the nation’s largest mortgage lender to turn over the paperwork. The SEC is investigating possible fraud in the bank’s sale of securities that were made up of multiple mortgage loans between September 2006 and early 2008.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-03/D9TN1VM00.htm

 

Big Banks Continue to Suck at the Government Teat With Never-Ending Stealth Bailouts

 

WashingtonsBlog

Open-Ended Bailouts Are Continuing

We’ve previously documented the fact that bailouts of the big banks are continued in stealth mode up to the present day.

True, the banks claim they’ve repaid the Tarp bailout funds … but nearly half of the banks “repaid” such bailout funds by borrowing from other government bailout funds (and the rest could only repay money by fudging their accounting and using stealth bailouts which are are a little harder to detect).

Indeed, the government has decided on perpetual bailouts for the too big to fail banks.

Some of the ongoing stealth bailouts include:….

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/03/big-banks-continue-to-suck-at-the-government-teat-with-never-ending-stealth-bailouts.html

 

 

Wars and Rumors of War

 

The Dangerous Mess in Syria Grows Murkier

 

By Eric Margolis

March 25, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Syria’s murky, multi-level conflict continues to grow worse. So does public confusion here in the west as the US, British and some European media keep depicting Syria’s civil war as a simple passion play pitting the evil Asad regime in Damascus against mostly unarmed democratic protestors.

We saw this same one-dimensional, deceptive reporting recently in Libya that was designed to support foreign intervention. It’s as incomplete today about Syria as it was in Libya which, by the way, is turning into a dangerous mess.

My assessment based on reliable primary sources in Washington, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon:

Support for the Asad family’s Ba’ath regime, now in power for 41 years, is clearly slipping. But important sections of the armed forces, the 17 intelligence and security agencies, the powerful Alawai minority, most Syrian Christians, tribal elements and much of the commercial middle and upper class still back the Asad’s. In spite of intense western efforts to overthrow him, Bashar Asad, a mild-mannered former eye specialist, is still hanging on….

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30908.htm

 

Robert Bales – Lone Nut or Scapegoat?
What are the Americans hiding?

 

By Justin Raimondo

March 25, 2012 “Antiwar” – The murder of 17 Afghan civilians – most of them children – by staff sergeant Robert Bales may be far worse than we think at present. The semi-official story, as related by our compliant news media, is that a formerly model soldier went bananas under the pressure of war-related injuries, financial problems at home, and the all-purpose PTSD explanation for military misbehavior, whereupon he decided – at 3 am in the morning, after drinking with his army buddies – to walk the couple of miles to an Afghan village, shoot 16 people sleeping in their beds, pile the bodies atop a funeral pyre and set the whole thing alight.

How did he get out of the base at 3 am unchallenged and without anyone’s knowledge? How did he manage to do so much damage alone? These questions automatically register in the minimally critical mind – unless, of course, you’re an American reporter, who is quite used to accepting what our government tells us without question. On the other hand, without clear evidence of another – darker – scenario, all one can do is engage in problematic speculation. That problem has been solved, however, because evidence of an alternative explanation is now coming to light which throws the whole “lone nut” theory into question.

A few days before Bales went postal, there was a bomb attack on a US convoy in which a friend of Bales’s lost a leg: Bales’s lawyer has been detailing his client’s anger at this incident, implying it precipitated the murder spree. There are indications, however, that this is not the whole story. One local resident relates how the Americans paid a visit to the village where the killings took place and threatened residents with retaliation:….

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30906.htm

 

Robots Kill, But the Blood Is on Our Hands

 

By David Swanson

March 25, 2012 “Information Clearing House” —In her spare time, between non-stop peace activism and leading international exchanges, Medea Benjamin has somehow managed to write the best book yet on the most inhuman form of war yet. The book is called Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

Even if you’ve been reading everything you could about drones, attending peace conferences, and protesting in the lobbies of drone companies like General Atomics, you will learn a great deal from this book. In fact, I’m willing to bet that even if you “pilot” drones from a desk for a living, you will learn a great deal from this book. And if you have not been paying attention to drones, then you really need to read this book.

Many Americans first heard about “unmanned aerial vehicles” as weapons when Colin Powell told the United Nations in 2003 that Iraq might use them to attack the United States. This turned out to be a projection as well as a lie. It was, of course, the United States that used drones, among other weapons, to attack Iraq for nine years, and the U.S. drones are still in the skies of Iraq today, as well in the skies of many other countries.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30912.htm

 

US Plans No Charges Over Deadly November Strike in Pakistan

 

The United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, an accident that plunged relations between the two countries to new depths and has greatly complicated the allied mission in Afghanistan.

An American investigation in December found fault with both American and Pakistani troops for the deadly exchange of fire, but noted that the Pakistanis fired first from two border posts that were not on coalition maps, and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops. Pakistan has rejected these conclusions and ascribed most of the blame to the American forces.

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8087-us-plans-no-charges-over-deadly-november-strike-in-pakistan

 

UK Mercenaries tackle Somalia

 

March 25, 2012

Why send in conventional military units when you can deploy mercenaries into Africa to carry out special operations, commit atrocities and confiscate natural resources all off the books….

http://www.phantomreport.com/uk-mercenaries-tackle-somalia

 

U.S. pays Afghans $50K per shooting death

March 25, 2012

The United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a community elder said Sunday…..

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57404080/u.s-pays-afghans-$50k-per-shooting-death/

 

Report: Israeli soldiers scour Iran for nukes

 

Israel using permanent base in northern Iraq to launch intelligence missions in Iran in search of nuclear evidence, Western intelligence sources say.

Israel is using a permanent base in Iraqi Kurdistan to launch cross-border intelligence missions in an attempt to find “smoking gun” evidence that Iran is building a nuclear warhead, the Sunday Times reported Sunday.

According to Western intelligence sources, Israel has used sensitive equipment during its covert operations to monitor the radioactivity and magnitude of explosives tests. It was also reported that Israeli special forces used Black Hawk helicopters to carry commandos disguised as members of the Iranian military and using Iranian military vehicles……

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4207265,00.html

 

Leader of Mali military coup trained in U.S.

 

March 25, 2012

The leader of a military coup in the West African country of Mali received military training in the United States on “several” occasions, a U.S. defense official said Friday.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/leader-of-mali-military-coup-trained-in-us/2012/03/23/gIQAS7Q6WS_story.html?wprss=rss_national-security

 

Japan wants missile shield against N.Korean rockets

 

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 23, 2012

North Korea has announced it will launch a rocket next month, which will put a satellite into orbit. But the U.S. and its allies see the plans as counter to international diplomatic efforts to deal with the reclusive state’s nuclear programme – and are worried the technology could be used to develop long range missiles in the future. It could also potentially violate UN Security Council resolutions, and threatens last month’s deal between North Korea and the Washington. Under this, Pyonyang was to freeze its uranium weapons program and its long-range missile activities – in return for American food aid. Japan’s has responded by deploying its own missile defense system to shoot down any rocket threatening its territory. For more on this, RT talks to Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford, from London.

 

 

Drug lords targeted by Fast and Furious were FBI informants

 

March 25, 2012

When the ATF made alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta its primary target in the ill-fated Fast and Furious investigation, it hoped he would lead the agency to two associates who were Mexican drug cartel members. The ATF even questioned and released him knowing that he was wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fast-furious-20120322,0,3334424.story

 

Attacking Iran will spell Israel’s end: Cleric

 

A senior Iranian cleric says the Israeli threats of a military strike on Iran are mere “psychological warfare” as Tel Aviv fully understands any such venture would lead to its “total annihilation”.

“There has been some talk in the media for some time of a military move [against Iran] by the Zionist regime [of Israel] in particular; these menacing murmurs are nothing but psychological warfare,” Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami said on Monday.

Last year during a period, foreign media created hype about a war [against Tehran] and anyone who paid attention to these media felt the US would attack Iran the following day,” he said.

The senior Iranian cleric, who is a member of the presiding board of the Assembly of Experts, said Israeli officials know that a military offensive against Iran would mean the complete annihilation of the Zionist regime

“We are not aggressors but our response to aggressors will be devastatingly crushing.”

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/233265.html

 

Iran nukes: How would the world know?

 

By Pam Benson

American officials are adamant. The U.S. will respond – possibly with military force – if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons.

But will the U.S. know with an degree of certainty that a line has been crossed?

The decision itself to push ahead really comes down to one person, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper told a Senate hearing recently that any decision would be based on “the supreme leader’s world view and the extent to which he thinks that would benefit the state of Iran or, conversely, not benefit.”

Clapper was referring to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran.

“It’s Khameini, period, full stop, end of sentence,” agreed Kenneth Pollack, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution.

But trying to read one person’s mind is no easy thing, observed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently, noting how Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was misread by U.S. intelligence.

“People sometimes say and do things that are at variance with what one might expect,” the secretary of state said. “It’s still quite bewildering to me why Saddam Hussein wanted everyone to believe that he had chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons of mass destruction when apparently he did not…..

http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/26/iran-nukes-how-would-the-world-know/

 

South Korea warns it may shoot down North Korean rocket

 

Fears over suspected missile test overshadow international nuclear security summit in Seoul

South Korea has warned it might shoot down a North Korean rocket if it passes over its territory, as worries about what Washington calls a long-range missile test overshadowed an international nuclear security summit.

“We are studying measures such as tracking and shooting down [parts] of a North Korean missile in case they stray out of their normal trajectory” and violate South Korean territory, said Yoon Won-shik, a spokesman at the South’s defence ministry.

He called the launch “a very reckless, provocative act” that undermines peace on the Korean peninsula.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/26/south-korea-shoot-down-north-korea-rocket?newsfeed=true

 

 

Articles of Interest

 

Incarceration Nation

 

By Fareed Zakaria

March 25, 2012 “TIME.com” — Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”

Is this hyperbole? Here are the facts. The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and ­Britain – with a rate among the ­highest – has 153.

This wide gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is relatively recent. In 1980 the U.S.’s prison population was about 150 per 100,000 adults. It has more than quadrupled since then. So something has happened in the past 30 years to push millions of Americans into prison.

That something, of course, is the war on drugs. Drug convictions went from 15 inmates per 100,000 adults in 1980 to 148 in 1996, an almost tenfold increase. More than half of America’s federal inmates today are in prison on drug convictions. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for possession.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30910.htm

 

Hill Poll: Voters expect personal views to decide health case

 

By Sam Baker

Half of likely voters want the Supreme Court to overturn President Obama’s healthcare law, according to The Hill’s latest poll.

Just 42 percent said the court should uphold the law, with 50 percent saying it should be struck down.

A majority of both men and women want the law voided. By a 52-percent-to-39-percent margin women are more opposed to it than men, who oppose it 48 percent to 45 percent, a difference that matches the poll’s 3-point margin of error.

http://thehill.com/polls/218005-hill-poll-voters-expect-justices-personal-beliefs-to-decide-health-case

 

IRS takes heat from both GOP, Dems over Tea Party groups’ tax-exempt status

 

By Bernie Becker

The Revenue Service is taking heat from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for its oversight of certain groups engaging in political activity, in particular Tea Party organizations seeking tax-exempt status.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/217987-irs-takes-heat-from-gop-dems-over-tea-party-groups-tax-exempt-status

 

Japan tsunami ‘Ghost Ship’ haunts Canada coast

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

 

R2P: Imperial Conquest by Another Name

 

Uploaded by GlobalResearchTV

As the world recovers from one humanitarian peace bombing in Libya, and braces for another possible intervention in Syria, many are now asking how it is that the so-called liberal left have become cheerleaders for the very wars of aggression they once pretended to deride. As long-time investigate reporter Pepe Escobar explains, an obscure international doctrine called Responsibility To Protect or R2P has been the main tool for shaping this new paradigm for the continuation of NATO’s imperial power grabs around the world.