Tag Archive: Colin Powell


CrossTalk: Justice Deficit

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Published on Sep 30, 2013

United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law. Does this imply they did breach the law? Why does Obama want to shield the ex-President from prosecution? And why aren’t Bush & Co. held accountable for the Iraq disaster? CrossTalking with Inder Comar and Ed Krayewski.

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Why an Iraqi Single Mom Is Suing George W. Bush for War Crimes

Why an Iraqi single mom and a tech lawyer think they can prove the Iraq War was a “crime of aggression” under U.S. law.
Inder Comar and Sundus Shaker Saleh.

Sundus Shaker Saleh, pictured at right, with her lawyer, Inder Comar. Photo by Global Exchange.

George W. Bush keeps a low profile these days, making the rounds on the public speaking circuit, engaging in a bit of philanthropy here and there, occasionally sharing his dog paintings or offering an unsolicited opinion on the immigration debate or national security.

The case was filed on March 13, 2013, and the defendants have all been served notice to appear.

Given his role in the current media landscape, it may be easy to forget that just 10 years ago he led an invasion of a foreign country that many in the international community saw as criminal.

Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother of three, has not forgotten. The violence and chaos that engulfed Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 had tragic consequences for her family and ultimately forced her to flee her homeland for an uncertain future. She has left Iraq, but she is determined to make sure the world hears her story and that someone is held accountable.

Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law—a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

The case is being brought to trial by Inder Comar of Comar Law, a firm based in San Francisco. The majority of cases Comar takes involve providing legal support to private companies, primarily for the tech industry. He is measured and deliberate, perhaps not the long haired, vaguely out-of-touch wearer of hemp suits some might picture when imagining a human rights lawyer pushing for prosecution of U.S. government officials.

This summer, Saleh met with Comar at her home in Amman, Jordan, to discuss the upcoming trial.

Saleh related her story through a translator to Comar, who had traveled halfway around the world to hear her story firsthand. Saleh was a gracious host, according to Comar, pointing out the paintings she’d crafted and beaming over her children. She was warm, open, and quick to laugh. Her story, however, was rife with darkness.

Prior to the arrival of U.S. forces, Saleh said, Iraq was safe. People slept with their doors open at night. There were no militias, no checkpoints, no threats. All of that came to a halt following the U.S.-led invasion. Airstrikes damaged or destroyed vital infrastructure including highways, bridges, and wastewater treatment facilities. Diseases like typhus became commonplace. The swift collapse of a functioning government created an environment ripe for internecine warfare. Saleh’s twin brothers were both shot by militia members, and she no longer felt safe in her own home. So in 2005, Saleh fled Iraq. She was not alone. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over 2 million people left the country, and over 2.7 million were internally displaced, including up to 40 percent of the Iraqi middle class.

To seek legal redress, Comar Law is invoking the Alien Tort Statute, a law passed in 1789 that permits a non-U.S. national the ability to sue in federal court for injuries “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The case was filed on March 13, 2013, with the U.S. District Court in Northern Calif., and the defendants have all been served notice to appear. Just like any other legal proceeding, there will be a great deal of back and forth before the hearing, which is scheduled to take place sometime in early 2014.

A tough case to make

Paul Stephan teaches law at the University of Virginia and has served as a consultant to the Department of State on matters of international law. In his opinion, Comar’s lawsuit against Bush administration officials is unlikely to succeed.

Many judges would view the ramifications of the invasion of Iraq not as a matter of law, but of politics.

For one, Stephan says, it’s difficult to sue a U.S. employee acting under the “scope of employment.” The Westfall Act of 1988 permits the United States as an entity to substitute itself in for individuals who were acting in their “scope of employment” for the case at issue.

The Westfall Act was enacted by Congress to supersede the Supreme Court’s decision in Westfall v. Erwin, a case involving a government employee, William Erwin, who was burned by exposure to toxic soda ash at an Army depot and then sued the depot supervisors. The Court’s ruling slightly modified the interpretation of law to open up government employees to greater legal liability for their actions. Congress immediately responded with the Westfall Act, which granted “absolute immunity” to government employees for any actions taken within the scope of their employment.

Precedent suggests that Stephan may be right. The district court of the District of Columbia dismissed a case by the ACLU of Northern California against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and nine other senior military leaders in 2007 on the grounds that these employees were acting within the scope of their employment and were therefore immune from liability under the Westfall Act.

The suit, Ali v. Rumsfeld, was brought on behalf of nine men subjected to torture and abuse under Rumsfeld’s command, with the ACLU arguing that the Constitution and international law prohibit torture and require commanding officers to report violations of the law. The ACLU further claimed that direct orders from Rumsfeld, as well as reports from detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, proved that Rumsfeld and the nine other defendants were well aware of and condoned the ongoing torture.

The second issue that Stephan points out is that the crimes in question didn’t take place in the United States. That makes it unlikely the courts will recognize the validity of the claim.

Thirdly, there’s the “political question.” Courts aren’t open to ruling on matters of a political nature, Stephan says. This doctrine of U.S. Constitutional law has its roots in the case of Marbury v. Madison, in which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall drew a dividing line between matters over which the courts would have jurisdiction and matters best left to the legislative and executive branches of government. Many judges would view the ramifications of the invasion of Iraq not as a matter of law, but of politics.

“If the expectation is that a federal court will declare that the invasion, although duly authorized by Congress, violated international law and thus violates U.S. law, I would respond that we walked up and down that hill with respect to Vietnam,” Stephan said. “No federal court ever has recognized such a claim.”

Taking a deeper look

But Comar is optimistic that these hurdles can be overcome. The issue of whether or not Bush, Cheney, and the others will be found to have acted in an official capacity isn’t open and shut.

“Ms. Saleh alleges that these defendants entered into government in order to execute a pre-existing plan to overthrow the Hussein regime.”

According to Comar, part of the planning for the invasion happened within the United States, before these officials took office. Multiple letters and position papers emanating from the nonprofit think tank Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, indicate a long-term interest in regime change in Iraq. An open letter written in 1998 to then-president Clinton signed by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld called for the removal of Saddam Hussein using military power. PNAC was also responsible for drafting and guiding the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, which authorized military support for opposition to Saddam Hussein.

Then, in 2000, Wolfowitz was a signatory to the 90-page report issued by PNAC titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century,” which calls for, among other things, global domination through force of arms. The document tellingly hints at the larger geopolitical justification for war with Iraq, stating that “while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for U.S. military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the [Persian] Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

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Those documents suggest that, in order to show that these officials were acting in capacity as government employees, the United States needs to prove that the sum of their actions took place entirely within office. Since the officials participated in these actions before they took office, Comar claims, they clearly cannot have been acting in their scope of employment.

Then there’s the political question, which Comar concedes is an often-nebulous doctrine with no clear limits. But that doesn’t mean that the crime of aggression necessarily qualifies as a political question.

Though low-ranking soldiers were prosecuted for torture in Iraq, none of the policy architects were ever held accountable.

“The legality of a war under international law was exactly the type of legal question that the Nuremberg court adjudicated,” Comar says. “We believe that aggression as a tort is actionable under the Alien Tort Statute. It is not a generic international law claim but a bedrock norm of international behavior in the same manner as slavery, genocide or torture, which are all claims that can be made under the Alien Tort Statute.”

Comar is confident that the courts will hear the case but is clear-headed about the prospects for conviction. He says that failure to achieve a multimillion-dollar settlement would not mean failure overall. A trial requires the gathering of evidence and provides a record for posterity.

Furthermore, Comar says, the judiciary is likely the last place people like Sundus Shaker Saleh can turn. It is highly unlikely that any president would ever investigate a past administration in the way sought by the suit, since the executive isn’t keen to open the gates for further scrutiny into its actions. Indeed, the Obama administration has expanded many Bush programs, including the use of drone strikes and domestic surveillance.

Since neither the legislative nor the executive branch have attempted to investigate whether the Bush Administration officials are guilty of war crimes, the last remaining branch through which to seek redress is the judiciary. Pursuing the issue here, Comar believes, will force the issue back into the public sphere.

“Our law recognizes that the actions of every person in this country—even a president—is subject to judicial review before an impartial judge,” Comar says. He continues:

This is a concept that extends back to the Magna Carta, when English barons put restraints on their king in order to protect their rights and privileges. In this case, Ms. Saleh alleges that these defendants entered into government in order to execute a pre-existing plan to overthrow the Hussein regime—a plan that has now led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and U.S. servicemen and women, untold misery for millions, and chaos that continues to plague that country to the present day. This is the very behavior that was outlawed and declared criminal by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

It is unusual in the United States for high government officials to face legal consequences for their actions. Though low-ranking soldiers were prosecuted for torture in Iraq, none of the policy architects were ever held accountable.

Regardless of the resolution of Saleh v. Bush, the case sets an important precedent toward rebuilding a system of laws that apply equally to everyone, even if their alleged crimes were committed in the Oval Office.


Corey Hill wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. He is the membership and outreach coordinator at Global Exchange. Follow Corey on Twitter at @Newschill.


YES! Magazine. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

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Sat Aug 3, 2013 12:26AM GMT

Edward Snowden for the first time revealed the US agency’s massive spying programs.

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice says the US government has used satellites to spy on Americans, collecting the exact contents of every digital communication in the country.

“The United States were, at that time, using satellites to spy on American citizens. At that time, it was news organizations, the State Department, including Colin Powell, and an awful lot of senior military people and industrial types,” he said in an interview with PBS.

“This was in 2002-2003 time frame. The NSA were targeting individuals. In that case, they were judges like the Supreme Court. I held in my hand Judge Alito’s targeting information for his phones and his staff and his family,” Tice added.

Tice, who worked as an analyst of the agency for two decades, also noted that he was fired in 2005 after asking Congress to provide greater protection to whistleblowers.

He also explained about his recent communication with his colleagues at the NSA.

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NSA Collects ‘Word for Word’ Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst

SUMMARY

Judy Woodruff sits down with two former NSA officials who blew the whistle on what they said were abuses at the NSA, along with that agency’s former inspector general, to talk about whether that secretive agency is recording all domestic calls in the U.S.


JUDY WOODRUFF:   And we pick up on the continuing fallout from the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Last night, we debated the role of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence court, which approves the government’s requests to gather intelligence information on Americans.

Tonight, we have a conversation with three former NSA officials, a former inspector general and two NSA veterans who blew the whistle on what they say were abuses and mismanagement at the secret government intelligence agency.

William Binney worked at the NSA for over three decades as a mathematician, where he designed systems for collecting and analyzing large amounts of data. He retired in 2001. And Russell Tice had a two-decade career with the NSA where he focused on collection and analysis. He says he was fired in 2005 after calling on Congress to provide greater protection to whistle-blowers.

He claims the NSA tapped the phone of high-level government officials and the news media 10 years ago.

RUSSELL TICE, former National Security Agency analyst: The United States were, at that time, using satellites to spy on American citizens. At that time, it was news organizations, the State Department, including Colin Powell, and an awful lot of senior military people and industrial types.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   So, this is the early 2000s.

RUSSELL TICE: This was in 2002-2003 time frame. The NSA were targeting individuals. In that case, they were judges like the Supreme Court. I held in my hand Judge Alito’s targeting information for his phones and his staff and his family.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   Bill Binney, what was your sense of who was being targeted and why they were being targeted? And what was being collected, in other words?

WILLIAM BINNEY, former National Security Agency technical leader: Well, I wasn’t aware of specific targeting like Russ was. I just saw the inputs were including hundreds of millions of records of phone calls of U.S. citizens every day. So it was virtually — there wasn’t anybody who wasn’t a part of this collection of information.

So, virtually, you could target anybody in this country you wanted.

JUDY WOODRUFF:   Both Binney and Tice suspect that today, the NSA is doing more than just collecting metadata on calls made in the U.S. They both point to this CNN interview by former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente days after the Boston Marathon bombing. Clemente was asked if the government had a way to get the recordings of the calls between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife.

TIM CLEMENTE, former FBI counterterrorism agent: On the national security side of the house, in the federal government, you know, we have assets. There are lots of assets at our disposal throughout the intelligence community and also not just domestically, but overseas. Those assets allow us to gain information, intelligence on things that we can’t use ordinarily in a criminal investigation.

All digital communications are — there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past. And I can’t go into detail of how that’s done or what’s done. But I can tell you that no digital communication is secure.

Read  More and Watch Video Here

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NSA Blackmailing Obama? | Interview with Whistleblower Russ Tice

Published on Jul 9, 2013

Abby Martin talks to Russell Tice, former intelligence analyst and original NSA whistleblower, about how the recent NSA scandal is only scratches the surface of a massive surveillance apparatus, citing specific targets the he saw spying orders for including former senators Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

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‘Israel may be behind Syrian chemical weapons use’

By JPOST.COM STAFF
05/04/2013 23:30

Former Bush administration official says Syrian chemical weapons use might’ve been “false flag operation” of Israel.

Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.

Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. Photo: Screenshot

A former senior official in the Bush administration said on Thursday the use of chemical weapons in Syria might have been a “false flag operation” of Israel, meant to implicate Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“We don’t know what the chain of custody is. This could’ve been an Israeli false flag operation, it could’ve been an opposition in Syria… or it could’ve been an actual use by Bashar Assad. But we certainly don’t know with the evidence we’ve been given. And what I’m hearing from the intelligence community is that that evidence is really flakey,” retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, told Cenk Uygur in an interview with Current TV.

Given this “flimsy evidence,” Wilkerson doesn’t believe a red line has been crossed in Syria, and that the US should not base its intervention in the war-torn country based on such evidence.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Use of chemical weapons in Syria may be Israeli false flag op: former US official

Press TV

Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell

Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Sun May 5, 2013 1:2AM GMT
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A former senior US official says the use of chemical weapons in Syria might have been a “false flag operation” conducted by Israel to incriminate the Syrian government.

Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as the chief of staff of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell during the administration of President George W. Bush, said he did not believe the Syrian government has crossed a red line.

“What I’m hearing from the intelligence community is that that evidence is really flakey,” Wilkerson said in an interview with Current TV on Thursday.

He also advised the US government not to intervene on the basis of such “flimsy evidence.”

While opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accuse his government of using chemical weapons on their own country’s citizens, Damascus says the attacks were perpetrated by foreign-backed militants operating in the country.

Commenting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Wilkerson said he is leading “basically a geo-strategically, geo-political — if you will — inept regime.”

“I think we saw really startling evidence of that,” he noted, “in the fact that President Obama had to tell Bibi Netanyahu ‘Pick up the phone, you idiot, call Ankara and get yourself out of this strategic isolation you’re in right now.”

Wilkerson was referring to the fact that US President Barack Obama pushed Netanyahu to formally apologize to Turkey over a 2010 attack that killed eight Turkish civilians aboard the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla while the ships were in international waters.

He went on to say that Israel is currently in “a very, very dangerous situation,” given the growing influence of resistance groups, the ouster of pro-Israeli Arab dictators by popular revolutions, and the crisis in Syria.

“The president (Obama) has got to be very circumspect about what he does in exacerbating that situation. Netanyahu is clueless as to this,” Wilkerson stated.

“I hope that President Obama gave him a lecture into geo-strategic realities,” he added.

MRS/HGL

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Israel strikes Syrian military research center, US official says

Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes against targets inside Syria on Friday, as the United States continued to weigh its options for action in the country. However, President Obama said that U.S. troops on the ground was unlikely. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

By Robert Windrem, Jim Miklaszewski and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News

Israeli jets bombed a military research facility north of Damascus early Sunday, a senior official told NBC News, the second Israeli attack on targets in Syria in recent days.

Heavy explosions shook the city, and video shot by activists showed a fireball rising into the sky after Sunday’s strikes, according to Reuters.

On Friday, Israeli warplanes launched strikes against targets inside Syria, U.S. officials told NBC News. It’s believed the primary target was a shipment of weapons headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon, they said. A senior U.S. official said the airstrikes were believed to be related to delivery systems for chemical weapons.

An Israeli spokesman in Washington said that Israel would not comment specifically on the reports but said that “Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

It wasn’t clear whether the Israelis alerted the U.S. before the attack. White House officials referred all questions to the Israelis.

Syrian government sources denied having information of a strike. Bashar Ja’afari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, told Reuters: “I’m not aware of any attack right now.”

But Qassim Saadedine, a commander and spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, told the news agency: “Our information indicates there was an Israeli strike on a convoy that was transferring missiles to Hezbollah. We have still not confirmed the location.”

 

Read Full Article and Watch Video Here

 

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US supports Israeli airstrike on Syria

Press TV

US President Barack Obama leaves the Inclusive Economic Growth and Development forum in San Jose, Costa Rica on May 4, 2013.

US President Barack Obama leaves the Inclusive Economic Growth and Development forum in San Jose, Costa Rica on May 4, 2013.
Sat May 4, 2013 11:22PM GMT
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US President Barack Obama has said Israel has the right to launch airstrikes on Syria, one day after the Israeli regime’s second airstrike on the country this year.

In an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo in San Jose, Costa Rica on Saturday, Obama stated that Israel has the right to protect itself from what he called advanced weapons shipments to Lebanon.

He said he would not comment on the veracity of the reports on the attack and would let the Israeli regime “confirm or deny whatever strikes that they’ve taken.”

“What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry” to resistance movements like Hezbollah, Obama stated.

“We coordinate closely with the Israelis, recognizing that they are very close to Syria, they are very close to Lebanon,” he added.

Earlier, Israel confirmed it carried out an aerial attack on Syria on Friday, claiming it targeted a shipment of “game-changing” weapons.

The Lebanese military also stated that pairs of Israeli warplanes entered Lebanese airspace three times overnight.

 

 

Published on Feb 6, 2013

DemocracyNow.org – Ten years ago this week, a defining moment occurred in the Bush administration’s push to invade Iraq. On February 5, 2003, then Secretary of State General Colin Powell addressed the United Nations Security Council. His message was clear: Iraq possessed extremely dangerous weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein was systematically trying to deceive U.N. inspectors by hiding prohibited weapons. A decade late, we host a debate between Powell’s former aide, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson — who prepared the UN speech, only to later renounce it — and media critic Norman Solomon, author of “War Made Easy.”

“I don’t believe the hype about that having been the ultimate presentation that led us to war with Iraq,” Wilkerson says of Powell’s speech. “George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others had decided to go to war with Iraq long before Colin Powell gave the presentation. It added to the momentum of the war. … Frankly, we were all wrong. Was the intelligence politicized in addition to being wrong at its roots? Absolutely.” In response, Solomon says, “We were not all wrong. Many experts and activists and researchers from the get go in 2002 were saying that the administration case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was full of holes. … So now to say, ‘Well it wasn’t just us at the administration, other people believed it’ — people believed it because they were propagandized by the administration with massive assistance from the mass media.”

To watch the entire weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org.

Democracy Now!, an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,100+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday.

Global Research,

Bush1_Hitler

“I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare…. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.” (Winston S. Churchill, 1874-1965, from War Office  minute, 12th May 1919.)

As the sabre rattling against Syria gets ever louder, the allegations ever wilder and double standards, stirring, plotting and terrorist financing (sorry: “aiding the legitimate opposition”) neon lit, it is instructive to look at the justifications presented by US Administrations for a few other murderous incursions in recent history.

This month is the twenty third anniversary of the US invasion of Panama on 20th December 1989, as Panamanians prepared their Christmas celebrations. A quick check reminds the late Philip Agee recalling President George H.W. Bush telling the American people that the threat from Panama (pop: 3,571,185 – 2011) was such that: “our way of life is at stake.” Agee referred to this in his aptly named talk “Producing the Proper Crisis.”(i) Apt then as now. Nothing changes.

The aim of the invasion was to capture the country’s leader General Manuel Noriega and, of course, to: “establish a democratic government.” Regime change.

With the approaching transfer of control of the Panama Canal to Panama (originally scheduled for 1st January  1990) after a century of US colonial stewardship, America wanted to ensure it was in the hands of malleable allies.

Noriega a CIA asset, since 1967 (ii) who had also attended the notorious School of the Americas, at Fort Benning, Georgia, came to power with US backing, but seemingly his support for the US was cooling. To encapsulate a long story, the US kidnapped him and sentenced him to forty years in jail.

Plans to invade were called: “Operation Prayer Book.” It was later re-named “Operation Just Cause”, with General Colin Powell commenting that it was a moniker of which he approved as: ”Even our severest critics would have to utter ‘Just Cause’ whilst denouncing us.” (Colin Powell, with Jospeh E. Persico: “My American Journey”, 1995.)

All military marauding should simply be called: “Operation Silly Name 1, then 2,3,4” etc., until the numbers finally run out.

Twenty seven thousand US troops backed by Apache helicopters decimated much of the small country, with a defence force of just three thousand. George Bush Snr., said he was removing an evil dictator who was brutalizing his own people  (sound familiar?) and that the action was needed to:” protect American lives.” It was also to: “defend democracy and human rights in Panama” – and to “protect the Canal.” Surprise, eh?

Manuel Noriega was released from US jail in 2007, extradited to France which had awarded him the country’s highest honour, The Legion d’honneur in 1987. He remained in jail in France until December 2011, when he was returned to Panama, where he is still imprisoned.

In the near forgotten Panama decimation (unless you are Panamanian) the densely populated, poverty stricken neighbourhood of El Chorillo was incinerated by American actions to such an extent that it became named “Little Hiroshima.”

One woman charged that: “The North Americans began burning down El Chorillo at about 6.30 in the morning. They would throw a small device in to a house and it would catch on fire – then they would move to another, they burned from one street to the next, coordinating the burning on walkie-talkies.”

A US soldier was recorded stating: “We ask you to surrender … if you do not, we are prepared to level each and every building.”

“Everything that moved they shot”, said a city resident.

The dead were consigned to mass graves with witnesses stating that US troops used flame throwers on the dead, noting the bodies shriveling as they burned. Others were bulldozed in to piles.(iii)

There was worse. As the current self righteous, if contradictory statements flow from Washington and Whitehall about Syria’s unproven chemical weapons, proven facts relate to America’s.

“From the 1940s to the 1990s the United States used various parts of Panama as a testing ground for chemical weapons, including mustard gas, VX, sarin, hydrogen cyanide and other nerve agents in … mines, rockets and shells; perhaps tens of thousands of chemical munitions.” (William Blum: Rogue State, 2002.)

Further, on departing Panama at the end of 1999 they left: “many sites containing chemical weapons. They had also: “conducted secret tests of Agent Orange in Panama …” In the 1989 invasion, the village of Pacora, near Panama City: “was bombed with (chemicals) by helicopters and aircraft from US Southern Command, with substances that burned skin, caused intense pain and diarrhea.”

Many analysts felt that Panama was the testing ground for Iraq.

Nine months after the poisoning of Panama, on Hiroshima Day 1990, the strangulating US-driven embargo on Iraq was enforced by the UN, after the US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie had given the green light for Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, after Kuwait’s considerable provocation and financial and geographical destabilization.(iv.)

The hype over chemical and other weapons went in to overdrive, leading Saddam Hussein to comment: “I am afraid, one day, you will say ‘You are going to make gunpowder out of wheat.’ ”

Thirteen months after Panama, America led a thirty one country coalition to “reduce Iraq to a pre-industrial age.” The only chemicals released from Iraq were the poisonous mix from the bombed pharmaceutical and fertilizer factories, the car manufacturing plants and the factories of Iraq’s entire industrial base, including the compounds holding the chemical and biological substances, including medical ones, sold to Iraq by the US, UK Germany and others over the previous decades, sales ironically, still ongoing at the time of the onslaught. (v.)

Highly toxic and radioactive substances were introduced into Iraq however, in the form of up to seven hundred and fifty tonnes of chemically toxic and radioactive depleted uranium munitions (DU) which have a toxic “half life” of 4.5 billion years. Iraq’s litany of deformed, still born, aborted babies, infants born with cancers, the tiny graves, silent testimony to weapons of mass destruction of unique wickedness. Iraq was bombed for forty two days and nights.

The hyped chemical weapons alleged to have been manufactured by Iraq were, of course, never deployed.

On 24th March 1999, NATO began to liberate Kosovo from Serbia. (US Silly Name: Operation Noble Anvil) Kosovo had an estimated ten trillion dollars worth of “inexhaustible” minerals in the Trebca mines.

The “liberation” was seventy eight days of relentless bombardment, including use of depleted uranium weaponry. Twenty thousand tonnes of bombs were dispatched. Destroyed systematically were communications centres, fuel depots, airports, traffic communications, trains, markets, the Chinese Embassy – China was against the attack, NATO, resoundingly unconvincingly, said they had the wrong map. And of course, the media centre. Murdering journalists is now another routine, unaccountable war crime.

Before the attack, the Pentagon stated that the Army of Yugoslavia possessed at least two kinds of poisonous gasses, with the facilities to produce them. The US Department of Defense warned Slobodan Milosevic the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army : “If Belgrade uses poisonous gasses sarin and mustard gas against NATO, the response of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be devastating.”

Oddly, after the air strikes began, NATO mentioned not one word to indicate that it was attacking Serbia’s US-stated capacity to produce chemical weapons. (Zagred Globus, 16th April 1999, pp 18-19.)

The industrial scale destruction, however, left the Trebca mines unscathed.

   On 14th August 2000, nine hundred heavily armed British, French, Italian, Pakistani and KFOR troops were landed from helicopters at the mines. Managers and workers tried to fight them off and were beaten, tear gassed with plastic bullets used. The resisting staff were arrested.

UN papers described the action as: “ … induction of democratization in Kosovo.” The attack in fact, paved the way for selling of the mines -containing “the inexhaustible” estimated 77,302,000 tons of coal, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, gold, silver, marble, manganese, iron ore, asbestos and limestone “to name a few” – to private foreign groups. (News reports, websites.)

 

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Sununu suggests Powell’s endorsement of Obama is racial

Posted by Vanessa Williams

 

John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and surrogate for Mitt Romney, suggested during an interview with CNN Thursday night that Colin Powell endorsed President Obama because both are African American.

Piers Morgan asked Sununu to comment on the former secretary of state, who is a Republican, bucking his party to back Obama. “[F]rankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama?” Sununu said.

“What reason would that be?” Morgan pressed.

“Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”

Early Friday, Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, e-mailed this statement from Sununu:

“Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies. Piers Morgan’s question was whether Colin Powell should leave the party, and I don’t think he should.”

Ryan did not respond to a question of why Sununu raised the issue of race in discussing Powell’s endorsement in the first place.

Powell announced Thursday morning that he was supporting Obama for reelection. The four-star general also endorsed Obama in 2008. Sununu’s response to the 2012 endorsement echoed the reaction to the 2008 endorsement offered by Rush Limbaugh four years ago. He wrote in an e-mail to Politico: “Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I’ll let you know what I come up with.”

Sununu has made other controversial statements during this year’s campaign. He angered some Obama supporters, particularly African Americans, for calling the president “lazy” after Obama performed badly in the first debate with Romney.

 

 

 

 

Colin Powell

Colin Powell (Photo credit: Scott Ableman)

(CBS News) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell broke with the Republican party during the 2008 election, to endorse then-candidate Barack Obama for president, calling Obama a “transformational figure.”

With 12 days to go before the presidential election, Powell publicly endorsed President Obama for re-election on “CBS This Morning” Thursday

“I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I’ll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month.”

Powell explained his choice to Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell:

When he took over, the country was in very very difficult straits. We were in the one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, we had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration and unemployment peaked a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was start[ing] to collapse and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it’s starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising.”

 

Summarizing the past four years under Obama, Powell said “Generally we’ve come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude.” He acknowledged that problems remain, saying “The unemployment rate is too high, people are still hurting in housing but I see that we’re starting to rise up.”

Turning to foreign policy, Powell said he saw “the president get us of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars. And finally I think that the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very very solid. And so, I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.”

Powell expressed his concern about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s changing positions on international affairs. “The governor who was saying things at the debate on Monday night … was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I’m not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.”

“One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal, same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern … is that sometimes I don’t sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have.”

Powell also said that he has given close consideration to Romney’s domestic policies. “As I listen to what his proposals are especially with respect to dealing with respect to our most significant issue, the economy, it’s essentially let’s cut taxes and compensate for that with other things but that compensation does not cover all of the cuts intended or the new expenses associated with defense.”

Powell said that he did not give either candidate early notice of his endorsement, but that he has “the utmost respect for” and spoke to Gov. Romney several weeks ago, and speaks to President Obama regularly.

He added that with this endorsement, he “signed on for a long patrol with President Obama” and that he feels more comfortable with Obama’s stances on climate change, immigration, and education.

Powell also criticized congressional leaders for not living up to their responsibilities, mainly around resolving the approaching fiscal cliff.

“The major problem faced either by Gov. Romney or President Obama, whoever wins the election, is going to be what to do about the fiscal cliff we’re about to fly over,” Powell said.

“This is something that was put in place by Congress and while we’re talking about the two candidates for president let’s not forget that Congress bears a lot of responsibility for many of the problems that we have now. They’re the ones that write the appropriations bills. They’re the ones that pass the legislation for more spending and for the various entitlement programs that people have trouble with.”

Gen. Powell last joined “CBS This Morning” in June, and at the time remained noncommittal about his support for either candidate in the race for the White House. “Whatever judgement I have right now would be incomplete. I haven’t seen everything that Mitt Romney is going to do. I haven’t seen how our economy is going to play out,” he said in June.

And, despite his endorsement of a Democratic candidate in two presidential elections, Powell says he remains a Republican. “I think I’m a Republican of a more moderate mold,” he said before adding, “That’s something of a dying breed I’m sorry to say.”

Politics and Legislation

Top Obama Fundraiser Accused Of Fraud

A major fundraiser for the re-election campaign of US President Barack Obama has been accused of fraud and dodging creditors, a report says.

As Bloomberg runs reports revealing New York City is the top source of donations for both the Obama and Romney campaigns news surfaces that one of Obama’s top donors and fundraisers, the New York based Abaka Assongba, has been accused of fraud.

According to reports, Abaka is accused of defrauding a Swiss businessman of $650,000 after engaging him in an email scam and then using that money to buy a multi-million dollar home in Florida.

Accompanying the fraud charges against Abaka are other embarrassments for the Obama campaign, including revalatoins of a 2004 eviction for owing $5,000 in back rent and another court case where she was ordered to pay $10,000 for back rent and damage.

Read Full Article Here

Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all

Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion

A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.

“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.

He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”

US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.

As for his former boss: “I don’t see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn’t feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence.”

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Stockton, Calif., Could Become Nation’s Biggest Municipal Bankruptcy

Stockton, Calif. is quite at home on lists of dubious distinctions.

This Northern California city has been variously listed as the city with the second-highest home-foreclosure rate of a major U.S. metropolis, the second-highest violent crime rate in California, and two times the frontrunner of Forbes magazine’s “America’s Most Miserable Cities.”

Now Stockton is hoping to avoid its next bleak title, that of biggest municipality in U.S. history to enter bankruptcy.

After Heyday, Payday

Eighty miles east of San Francisco and home to nearly 300,000 people, Stockton has cycled through decades of city-planning booms and crime-ridden busts.

These days many residents are just doing what they can to stay safe and survive. Unemployment in the city tops 16 percent. Foreclosures are at an all-time high. Homeless shelters are out of beds. The police force has shrunk 25 percent and this year’s homicide total may surpass last year’s record high of 58.

In the early 2000s, after years of decline, Stockton began pouring money into revitalization projects. Developers built residential subdivisions, a theater complex, sports arena, waterfront walkway and marina.

City coffers bulged on the resulting property tax increases, and city employee contracts ballooned. One month of city employment meant eligibility for full retiree health care. Today, the city’s long-term health care liability totals more than $400 million. There are 94 pensions each worth at least $100,000 annually.

“Stockton overcommitted to long-term obligations that even under the best of times the city could not afford. So if there was not a recession, the city would have been having the conversation we’re having in four or five years,” said City Manager Bob Deis in a recent Time magazine interview.

Read Full Article Here

Eurozone unemployment hits 15-year high

By Michael Millar

LONDON (SHARECAST) – Unemployment across the countries that use the euro hit a 15-year high of 10.8 per cent in February.

Figures from the European Commission’s official statistics agency, eurostat, showed unemployment was up from 10.7% in January and compared to 10.0% in February 2011.

The figures laid bare the vast economic differences between 17 countries using the euro.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.9%), Luxembourg (5.2%) and Germany (5.7%).

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Will the US dollar fall to the Chinese Yuan?

Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 3, 2012

Over the years the US dollar has become weaker and weaker, and it seems the Chinese Yuan is getting stronger and stronger. In a few years China’s GDP is believed to surpass the US GDP making it the strongest in the world. Recently at the BRICS annual meeting, the five fastest growing countries decided to ditch the dollar and use their own currencies in mutual trade putting the buck almighty in jeopardy. Michael T. Snyder, founder of TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com, joins us to discuss what the future holds for the US dollar.

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Wars and Rumors of War

Pentagon activates missile defenses for North Korean launch

The Pentagon recently activated its global missile shield in anticipation of North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile, according to defense officials.

The measures include stepped-up electronic monitoring, deployment of missile interceptor ships, and activation of radar networks to areas near the Korean peninsula and western Pacific.

Three interceptor ships near Japan and the Philippines, as well as U.S.-based interceptors, are ready to shoot down the North Korean missile if space-, land-, and sea-based sensors determine its flight path is targeted at the United States or U.S. allies, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Obama administration will regard any launch by North Korea as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions regardless of whether the North Koreans claim the rocket test is for space launch purposes, the officials said. The technology and rocketry used for a space launch is nearly identical to that used with ballistic missiles that carry a warhead, they said.

Also, because the payload or warhead of the test launch cannot be determined prior to launch, the Obama administration decided to activate the missile defense system.

According to U.S. officials, current intelligence assessments indicate the North Korean missile will be launched from a base called Tongchang-ri, located on a west coast peninsula north of Pyongyang between April 12 and April 15…..

Read Full Article Here

US draws up plans for nuclear drones

Technology is designed to increase flying time ‘from days to months’, along with power available for weapons systems

Nick Fielding

American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling.

The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories – the US government’s principal nuclear research and development agency – and defence contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time “from days to months” while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary published by Sandia.

“It’s pretty terrifying prospect,” said Chris Coles of Drone Wars UK, which campaigns against the increasing use of drones for both military and civilian purposes. “Drones are much less safe than other aircraft and tend to crash a lot. There is a major push by this industry to increase the use of drones and both the public and government are struggling to keep up with the implications.”

The highly sensitive research into what is termed “ultra-persistence technologies” set out to solve three problems associated with drones: insufficient “hang time” over a potential target; lack of power for running sophisticated surveillance and weapons systems; and lack of communications capacity.

The Sandia-Northrop Grumman team looked at numerous different power systems for large- and medium-sized drones before settling on a nuclear solution. Northrop Grumman is known to have patented a drone equipped with a helium-cooled nuclear reactor as long ago as 1986, and has previously worked on nuclear projects with the US air force research laboratory. Designs for nuclear-powered aircraft are known to go back as far as the 1950s.

The research team found that the nuclear drones were able to provide far more surveillance time and intelligence information per mission compared to other technologies, and also to reduce the considerable costs of support systems – eliminating the need, for example, for forward bases and fuel supplies in remote and possibly hostile areas.

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U.S. Joins Effort to Equip and Pay Rebels in Syria

By STEVEN LEE MYERS

ISTANBUL — The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.

The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence that is heading into its second year in Syria and that more forceful action was needed.

With Russia and China blocking United Nations measures that could open the way for military action, the countries lined up against the government of President Bashar al-Assad sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance and blur the line between so-called lethal and nonlethal support.

There remains no agreement on arming the rebels, as countries like Saudi Arabia and some members of Congress have called for, largely because of the uncertainty regarding who exactly would receive the arms.

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Lawyer for soldier accused of Afghan slaughter: ‘almost complete information blackout’

Madison Ruppert

John Henry Browne, the attorney for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the man accused of single-handedly massacring 17 Afghan villagers, is now accusing the United States government of “an almost complete information blackout” which is blocking him from preparing a proper defense for Bales.

Browne alleges that he and his legal team has been prevented from being able to interview the witnesses to the tragic incident as well as the injured civilians in southern Afghanistan.

“We were expecting a lot more cooperation. The prosecutors in this case promised us a lot of cooperation which we’re just not getting,” Browne said to reporters in Seattle, Washington.

“We are facing an almost complete information blackout from the government, which is having a devastating effect on our ability to investigate the charges preferred against our client,” he added.

38-year-old Bales allegedly strolled out of his base in Kandahar, a southern Afghan province, without being stopped or questioned, early on March 11, after which he conducted a merciless, calculated assault on two villages killing 17 civilians, including women and children.

However, this case has been rife with inconsistencies and unanswered questions, especially surrounding the possibility of multiple soldiers being involved in the tragic killings.

Indeed, an Afghan parliamentary probe concluded that there were 15-20 U.S. soldiers involved in the murders. This finding was seemingly contradicted by a report from AP which cited alleged statements from two officials who did not participate in the probe and the U.S. government has claimed that only Bales was involved from day one.

Furthermore, child witnesses provided accounts to a journalist for Australia’s SBS Dateline which completely contradict the U.S.’s official account.

Read Full Article Here

Colombia: 8 Israelis suspected of drug trafficking

Local media reports claim Israeli ‘former military men’ also suspected of money laundering, exploitation of minors. Suspects deny allegations: ‘We’re legit businessmen’

Eight Israelis were arrested in Colombia on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering and exploitation of minors, the country’s chief prosecutor told local media outlets on Tuesday.

The suspects, who were described in the reports as “former military men,” reside in the city of Taganga. According to one of the reports, they are suspected of sexually exploiting teenage girls.

As part of a separate investigation, the suspects are also being questioned about their ties to a local drug trafficking ring.

The chief prosecutor noted that the Israeli men were under surveillance during the past year, after arousing the suspicion of local police officers and community leaders.

One of the reports claimed that police obtained tape recordings, some in Hebrew, which might incriminate the suspects.

The suspects denied the allegations, claiming that they were legitimate businessmen.

Read Full Article Here

Who is Kofi Annan? The United Nations “Peacekeeper” Handpicked by the CIA

by Thierry Meyssan

Although Kofi Annan’s track record at the UN is an indisputable success in terms of management and efficiency, he has been sharply criticized for his political shortcomings. As Secretary General, he aspired to bring the Organization into line with the unipolar world and the globalization of U.S. hegemony. He called into question the ideological foundations of the UN and undermined its ability to prevent conflicts. Notwithstanding, he is today in charge of resolving the Syrian crisis.

Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan, has been designated by Ban Ki-moon and Nabil El Arabi as joint special envoy to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. With Annan’s extraordinary experience and shiny brand image, his appointment was welcomed by all.

What does this top international official really represent? Who propelled him to the highest-ranking positions? What were his political choices, and what are his current commitments? These questions are met with a discreet silence, as if his previous functions were in themselves a guarantee of neutrality.
Handpicked and trained by the Ford Foundation and the CIA

His former colleagues praise him for his thoughtfulness, his intelligence and subtlety. A very charismatic personality, Kofi Annan left a strong imprint behind him because he did not behave simply as the “secretary” of the UN, but more like its “general,” by taking initiatives that revivified an organization that was mired in bureaucracy. All that is known and has been repeated ad nauseam. His exceptional professional qualities earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, although this honor in theory should have been bestowed for personal political commitment, not a management career.

Kofi and his twin sister Efua Atta were born on 8 April 1938, into an aristocratic family of the British colony of the Gold Coast. His father was the tribal chief of the Fante people and the elected governor of Asante province. Although he opposed British rule, he was a faithful servant of the Crown. With other notables, he took part in the first decolonization movement, but looked upon the revolutionary fervor of Kwame Nkrumah with suspicion and anxiety.

In any event, Nkrumah’s efforts led to the independence of the country in 1957 under the name of Ghana. Kofi was then 19 years old. Though not involved in the revolution, he became vice-president of the new National Student Association. It was then that he was spotted by a headhunter from the Ford Foundation who incorporated him into a program for “young leaders.” From there, he was invited to follow a summer course at Harvard University. Having noticed his enthusiasm for the United States, the Ford Foundation offered to sponsor his complete studies, first in economics at Macalester College in Minnesota, followed by international relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

After the Second World War, the Ford Foundation, created by famous industrialist Henry Ford, became an unofficial instrument of U.S. foreign policy, providing a respectable facade for the activities of the CIA [1].

Kofi Annan’s overseas study period (1959-1961) coincided with the most difficult years of the African-American civil rights movement (the start of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign). He saw it as an extension of the decolonization he had witnessed in Ghana, but once again did not get involved.

Impressed with Annan’s academic achievements and political discretion, his U.S. mentors opened for him the doors of the World Health Organization, where he landed his first job. After three years at WHO headquarters in Geneva, he was appointed to the Economic Commission for Africa based in Addis Ababa. However, not sufficiently qualified to pursue a career at the UN, he returned to the United States to take up management studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1971-1972). He then attempted a comeback in his home country as director of tourism development, but found himself perpetually at odds with the military government of General Acheampong; he gave up and returned to the United Nations in 1976.

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James Murdoch quits BSkyB to save hacking scandal damage

Published on Apr 3, 2012 by Euronews

http://www.euronews.com/ James Murdoch has quit as chairman of British pay-TV group BSkyB.

Rupert Murdoch’s son has been under fire for his handling of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World newspaper that has convulsed the Murdoch’s media empire.

James Murdoch is stepping down just weeks before a government report is published into reporting practices at the News of the World.

In a statement he said his resignation was to help distance BSkyB from the scandal: “I am aware that my role as Chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.”

Murdoch added he was “determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company.”

The 39-year-old is a previous chairman of News International, News Corp’s British newspaper arm that was the publisher of the News of the World tabloid at the heart of the scandal before it was shut down last year.

The British TV regulator is investigating whether BSkyB is a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcast licence given its close relationship with Murdoch and the wider problems at Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns 39-percent of the TV company.

Murdoch, who was previously chief executive of BSkyB, was dealt a heavy blow last November when more than 40 percent of the company’s independent shareholders failed to back his re-election as chairman.