Tag Archive: New York Times


No Russians among Slavyansk self-defense forces – NYT reporters

Published time: May 04, 2014 20:47

Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Self-defense forces in the anti-Kiev stronghold of Slavyansk are Ukrainians, not Russians, who distrust the new regime and the Western powers that support it, New York Times reporters have discovered. The forces also said they are not being paid to fight.

Two New York Times reporters have spent a week in the city of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, talking to members of the self-defense forces. The journalists visited self-defense checkpoints and observed the forces as they battled Ukrainian troops amid a military assault on the city on Friday.

The resistance fighters of the 12th Company, part of the People’s Self-Defense of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, deny claims made by Kiev and its Western sponsors that Russia or private tycoons are paying them to fight.

“This is not a job,” one of the activists, Dmitry told the NYT reporters. “It is a service.”

Armed with dated weapons, the self-defense activists said they would have bought new weapons if they had financial support. The NYT journalists reported seeing weapons from the 1980s and 1990s in checkpoints and warehouses.

 

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoly Stepanov)

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoly Stepanov)

The activists explained that they purchased some of their weaponry from corrupt Ukrainian soldiers, while taking others from seized police buildings or confiscating them from captured Ukrainian armored vehicles.

“Much of their stock was identical to the weapons seen in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers and Interior Ministry Special Forces troops at government positions outside the city,” the NYT reporters said in an article published on Saturday.

“These included 9-millimeter Makarov pistols, Kalashnikov assault rifles, and a few Dragunov sniper rifles, RPK light machine guns and portable antitank rockets, including some with production stamps from the 1980s and early 1990s.”

The head of Slavyansk self-defense, Yury, also chuckled at claims made by Kiev authorities and the West that Russians are fighting side by side with them.

“We have no Muscovites here,” Yury told the journalists. “I have experience enough.”

 

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The New American

Written by 

inside of U.S. compound in Benghazi the day after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack: AP Images

In its clumsy attempt to absolve President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from responsibility for the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, the New York Times has reignited intense scrutiny and debate over the fiasco and the administration’s lies and cover-ups in its aftermath.

On December 28, the Times opened a new chapter in the ongoing furor over “Benghazigate” with an extensive, 7,000-word article by David D. Kirkpatrick entitled, “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi.” According to Kirkpatrick, his article is the result of “months of investigation by The New York Times,” which “turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” Moreover, he says, the September 11, 2012 attack, which resulted in the murder of four Americans — Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods — “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”

It is not surprising that the Times, which has staunchly supported both President Obama and Hillary Clinton, would come to their aid once more, producing a piece that echoes and affirms the administration’s Benghazi talking points, even though the facts have discredited those talking points.

A number of critics have already pointed out that Kirkpatrick’s latest article is contradicted by earlier Times reports which acknowledge the al-Qaeda ties of some of the Libyan jihadist militias (that the Obama administration, incidentally, was supporting). See, for instance, Aaron Klein at World Net Daily here and here, and Thomas Joscelyn at The Weekly Standard here.

It is also contradicted by a detailed report prepared by the Library of Congress entitled, Al-Qaeda in Libya: A Profile, issued in August, 2012, the month before the fatal Benghazi attack.

It is also interesting that the Times would once again try to lay the blame for the attack on a spontaneous riot incited by the anti-Muslim video and protests over the video in faraway Cairo, Egypt. This, of course, is a resurrection of the Barack Obama/Susan Rice/Hillary Clinton false narrative issued immediately after the fatal attack, which was an effort to cover up the fact that the event was a highly coordinated terrorist attack carried out by some of the very jihadists the administration was arming and aiding. The spontaneous riot narrative was also aimed at diverting attention from the fact that Secretary Clinton had failed to heed repeated warnings from Ambassador Stevens and State Department security personnel about the escalating danger in Benghazi and their appeals for additional security.

However, no credible evidence has been produced to support the claim that the anti-Muslim video precipitated, or contributed to, the Benghazi attack. And an in-depth analysis by Agincourt Solutions, a prominent social media monitoring firm, could find none of the alleged Internet traffic and postings in the Benghazi region that were supposedly responsible for stirring up the attackers.

Pre-emptive Defense for Hillary’s 2016 Presidential Run

The most transparent reason for the Times’  flimsy Benghazi whitewash is that the paper was trying to divert attention from Secretary Clinton’s central role in the whole sordid affair, so that a festering Benghazigate scandal would not derail her White House hopes for 2016.

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Library of Congress – Federal Research Division

Al-Qaeda in Libya: A Profile

PREFACE

This report attempts to assess al-Qaeda’s pres

ence in Libya. Al-Qaeda Senior Leadership

(AQSL) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have sought to take advantage of the Libyan Revolution to recruit militants and to reinforce their operational capabilities in an attempt to create a safe haven and possibly to extend their area of operations to Libya. Reports have
indicated that AQSL is seeking to create an al-Qaeda clandestine network in Libya that could beactivated in the future to destabilize the government and/or to offer logistical support to al-Qaeda’s activities in North Africa and the Sahel.

AQIM has reportedly formed sleeper cells that are probably connected to an
al-Qaeda underground network in Libya, likely as a way, primarily,
to secure the supply of arms for its ongoing jihadist operations in Algeria and the Sahel. This report discusses how al-Qaeda and its North African affiliate are using communications media and face-to-face contacts to shift the still-evolving post-revolutionary political and socialdynamic in Libya in a direction that is conducive to jihad and hateful of the West.

The information in this report is drawn largely from the Internet and Western and Libyan online publications. Particular attention has been given to AQSL and AQIM sources, especially propaganda videos featuring their leaders and a written essay from ‘Atiyah al-Libi, an influential
Libyan al-Qaeda leader killed in Pakistan by a U.S. drone strike in August 2011. Although a wide range of sources were utilized, including those in French a nd Arabic, as well as in English,the information found was quite limited and largely presumptive. Given the scarcity of
information, further research is needed to better penetrate the organization of al-Qaeda’s clandestine network in Libya, its leaders, areas of concentration, and chain of command. The Web addresses presented in this report were valid as of August 2012.

Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Al-Qaeda in Libya: A Profile

1
1.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
x
Al-Qaeda has tried to exploit the “Arab Awake
ning” in North Africa for its own purposes
during the past year. Al-Qaeda Senior Leadersh
ip (AQSL), based in Pakistan, is likely
seeking to build a clandestine network in Libya
as it pursues its strategy of reinforcing its
presence in North Africa and the Middle East
, taking advantage of the “Arab Awakening”
that has disrupted existing counterterrorism
capabilities. Although AQSL’
s previous attempt
to co-opt the Libyan Islamic Fighting Gr
oup (LIFG) was inconclusive, the Libyan
Revolution may have created an environment
conducive to jihad and empowered the large
and active community of Libyan jihadists,
which is known to be well connected to
international jihad.
x
AQSL’s strategic goals remain restoration of the caliphate, instituting sharia, and ending the
Western presence in Muslim lands. Al-Qaeda’s
primary goal in Libya is to establish an
Islamic emirate as part of its overall
objective to reestablish the caliphate.
x
AQSL in Pakistan issued strategic guidance to
followers in Libya and elsewhere to take
advantage of the Libyan rebellion. AQSL’s strategic guidance was to:
¾
gather weapons,
¾
establish training camps,
¾
build a network in secret,
¾
establish an Islamic state, and
¾
institute sharia.
x
AQSL in Pakistan dispatched trusted senior ope
ratives as emissaries and leaders who could
supervise building a network. Al-Qaeda has esta
blished a core network in Libya, but it
remains clandestine and refrains
from using the al-Qaeda name.
x
Ansar al-Sharia, led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a fo
rmer Guantanamo detainee, has increasingly
embodied al-Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indi
cated by its active social-media propaganda,
extremist discourse, and hatred of th
e West, especially the United States.
x
Al-Qaeda adherents in Libya used the 2011 Revol
ution to establish well-armed, well-trained,and combat-experienced militias. Militia groups, led by Wisam Ben Hamid and Hayaka Alla have adopted similar behavior, with, however, fewer advertised grudges against the West.The only open-source materialthat has linked these groups,aside from their jihadist credentials and their defense of sharia, is their attachment to the flag that has come to symbolize al-Qaeda.

Read More Here  :  Library of Congress – Federal Research Division  PDF

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A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

December 28, 2013

A boyish-looking American diplomat was meeting for the first time with the Islamist leaders of eastern Libya’s most formidable militias.

It was Sept. 9, 2012. Gathered on folding chairs in a banquet hall by the Mediterranean, the Libyans warned of rising threats against Americans from extremists in Benghazi. One militia leader, with a long beard and mismatched military fatigues, mentioned time in exile in Afghanistan. An American guard discreetly touched his gun.

“Since Benghazi isn’t safe, it is better for you to leave now,” Mohamed al-Gharabi, the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati Brigade, later recalled telling the Americans. “I specifically told the Americans myself that we hoped that they would leave Benghazi as soon as possible.”

Yet as the militiamen snacked on Twinkie-style cakes with their American guests, they also gushed about their gratitude for President Obama’s support in their uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They emphasized that they wanted to build a partnership with the United States, especially in the form of more investment. They specifically asked for Benghazi outlets of McDonald’s and KFC.

The diplomat, David McFarland, a former congressional aide who had never before met with a Libyan militia leader, left feeling agitated, according to colleagues. But the meeting did not shake his faith in the prospects for deeper involvement in Libya. Two days later, he summarized the meeting in a cable to Washington, describing a mixed message from the militia leaders.

Despite “growing problems with security,” he wrote, the fighters wanted the United States to become more engaged “by ‘pressuring’ American businesses to invest in Benghazi.”

The cable, dated Sept. 11, 2012, was sent over the name of Mr. McFarland’s boss, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Later that day, Mr. Stevens was dead, killed with three other Americans in Benghazi in the most significant attack on United States property in 11 years, since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Diplomatic Mission on Sept. 11, 2012

Four Americans died in attacks on a diplomatic mission and a C.I.A. compound in Benghazi.

As the attacks begin, there are seven Americans at the mission, including five armed diplomatic security officers; the information officer, Sean Smith; and Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Both Mr. Smith and Ambassador Stevens die in the attack.

The cable was a last token of months of American misunderstandings and misperceptions about Libya and especially Benghazi, many fostered by shadows of the earlier Sept. 11 attack. The United States waded deeply into post-Qaddafi Libya, hoping to build a beachhead against extremists, especially Al Qaeda. It believed it could draw a bright line between friends and enemies in Libya. But it ultimately lost its ambassador in an attack that involved both avowed opponents of the West and fighters belonging to militias that the Americans had taken for allies.

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

A fuller accounting of the attacks suggests lessons for the United States that go well beyond Libya. It shows the risks of expecting American aid in a time of desperation to buy durable loyalty, and the difficulty of discerning friends from allies of convenience in a culture shaped by decades of anti-Western sentiment. Both are challenges now hanging over the American involvement in Syria’s civil conflict.

The attack also suggests that, as the threats from local militants around the region have multiplied, an intensive focus on combating Al Qaeda may distract from safeguarding American interests.

In this case, a central figure in the attack was an eccentric, malcontent militia leader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, according to numerous Libyans present at the time. American officials briefed on the American criminal investigation into the killings call him a prime suspect. Mr. Abu Khattala declared openly and often that he placed the United States not far behind Colonel Qaddafi on his list of infidel enemies. But he had no known affiliations with terrorist groups, and he had escaped scrutiny from the 20-person C.I.A. station in Benghazi that was set up to monitor the local situation.

Mr. Abu Khattala, who denies participating in the attack, was firmly embedded in the network of Benghazi militias before and afterward. Many other Islamist leaders consider him an erratic extremist. But he was never more than a step removed from the most influential commanders who dominated Benghazi and who befriended the Americans. They were his neighbors, his fellow inmates and his comrades on the front lines in the fight against Colonel Qaddafi.

To this day, some militia leaders offer alibis for Mr. Abu Khattala. All resist quiet American pressure to turn him over to face prosecution. Last spring, one of Libya’s most influential militia leaders sought to make him a kind of local judge.

Fifteen months after Mr. Stevens’s death, the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines.

One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.

The other, favored by Republicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The investigation by The Times shows that the reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those story lines suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.

Read More Here

 

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Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific

 

Mohammad Hannon/Associated Press

Investigators had little access to the American Mission compound in Benghazi immediately after the September attack.

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration received intelligence reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating training camps in the mountains near the Libyan city and that some of the fighters were “Al Qaeda-leaning,” according to American and European officials.

The warning about the camps was part of a stream of diplomatic and intelligence reports that indicated that the security situation throughout the country, and particularly in eastern Libya, had deteriorated sharply since the United States reopened its embassy in Tripoli after the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government in September 2011.

By June, Benghazi had experienced a string of assassinations as well as attacks on the Red Cross and a British envoy’s motorcade. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the September attack, e-mailed his superiors in Washington in August alerting them to “a security vacuum” in the city. A week before Mr. Stevens died, the American Embassy warned that Libyan officials had declared a “state of maximum alert” in Benghazi after a car bombing and thwarted bank robbery.

In the closing weeks of the presidential campaign, the circumstances surrounding the attack on the Benghazi compound have emerged as a major political issue, as Republicans, led by their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, have sought to lay blame for the attack on President Obama, who they argued had insufficiently protected American lives there.

Interviews with American officials and an examination of State Department documents do not reveal the kind of smoking gun Republicans have suggested would emerge in the attack’s aftermath such as a warning that the diplomatic compound would be targeted and that was overlooked by administration officials.

What is clear is that even as the State Department responded to the June attacks, crowning the Benghazi compound walls with concertina wire and setting up concrete barriers to thwart car bombs, it remained committed to a security strategy formulated in a very different environment a year earlier.

In the heady early days after the fall of Colonel Qaddafi’s government, the administration’s plan was to deploy a modest American security force and then increasingly rely on trained Libyan personnel to protect American diplomats — a policy that reflected White House apprehensions about putting combat troops on the ground as well as Libyan sensitivities about an obtrusive American security presence.

In the following months, the State Department proceeded with this plan. In one instance, State Department security officials replaced the American military team in Tripoli with trained Libyan bodyguards, while it also maintained the number of State Department security personnel members at the Benghazi compound around the minimum recommended level.

Questions at Home

But the question on the minds of some lawmakers is why the declining security situation did not prompt a fundamental rethinking of the security needs by the State Department and the White House. Three Congressional investigations and a State Department inquiry are now examining the attack, which American officials said included participants from Ansar al-Shariah, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Muhammad Jamal network, a militant group in Egypt.

“Given the large number of attacks that had occurred in Benghazi that were aimed at Western targets, it is inexplicable to me that security wasn’t increased,” said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, one of the panels holding inquiries.

Defending their preparations, State Department officials have asserted that there was no specific intelligence that warned of a large-scale attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, which they asserted was unprecedented. The department said it was careful to weigh security with diplomats’ need to meet with Libyan officials and citizens.

“The lethality of an armed, massed attack by dozens of individuals is something greater than we’ve ever seen in Libya over the last period that we’ve been there,” Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management, told reporters at a news conference on Oct. 10.

But David Oliveira, a State Department security officer who was stationed in Benghazi from June 2 to July 5, said he told members and staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he recalled thinking that if 100 or more assailants sought to breach the mission’s walls, “there was nothing that we could do about it because we just didn’t have the manpower, we just didn’t have the facilities.”

In developing a strategy to bring about the fall of Colonel Qaddafi, Mr. Obama walked a fine line between critics of any American involvement in Libya and those like Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who advocated a stronger American leadership role. Mr. Obama’s approach — a NATO air campaign supported by the United States — was a success.

After Colonel Qaddafi’s fall, Mr. Obama proceeded with equal caution. He approved a plan to send to Tripoli a 16-member Site Security Team, a military unit that included explosive-ordnance personnel, medics and other specialists. “Day-to-day diplomatic security decisions were managed by career State Department professional staff,” said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

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US government identifies men on Guantánamo ‘indefinite detainee’ list

A group of detainees kneels during prayers at Guantanamo Bay

The Obama administration has until now refused to divulge the men’s identities, leaving them in a form of prolonged legal limbo. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

The US government has finally released the names of 46 men being held in Guantánamo under the classification of “indefinite detainees” – terror suspects deemed too dangerous to release or move yet impossible to try in a civilian or even military court for reasons of inadequate or tainted evidence.

The list of the 46 detainees was released to the Miami Herald and New York Times following a freedom of information requests from the papers as part of the list of the 166 current captives in Guantánamo that has been released for the first time. The Obama administration had indicated the existence of the men in January 2010 but has until now refused to divulge their identities, leaving the detainees in a form of prolonged and secret legal limbo.

The list contains, according to the Miami Herald, 26 Yemenis, 12 Afghans, three Saudis, two Kuwaitis and Libyans, a Kenyan, Morrocan and a Somali. There were two “indefinite detainees”, both Afghans, who have died in the camp, one by suicide, one of a heart attack.

 

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Sibel Edmonds’   Boiling Frogs

What Is the Government’s Agenda?

Wednesday, 12. June 2013

USA: Where there is No Democracy that Holds Government Accountable; Only a Brainwashed People who are Chaff in the WindIt has been public information for a decade that the US government secretly, illegally, and unconstitutionally spies on its citizens. Congress and the federal courts have done nothing about this extreme violation of the US Constitution and statutory law, and the insouciant US public seems unperturbed.

In 2004 a whistleblower informed the New York Times that the National Security Agency (NSA) was violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by ignoring the FISA court and spying on Americans without obtaining the necessary warrants. The corrupt New York Times put the interests of the US government ahead of those of the American public and sat on the story for one year until George W. Bush was safely reelected.

By the time the New York Times published the story of the illegal spying one year later, the law-breaking government had had time to mitigate the offense with ex post facto law or executive orders and explain away its law-breaking as being in the country’s interest.

Last year William Binney, who was in charge of NSA’s global digital data gathering program revealed that NSA had everyone in the US under total surveillance. Every email, Internet site visited and phone call is captured and stored. In 2012 Binney received the Callaway Award for Civic Courage, an annual award given to those who champion constitutional rights at risk to their professional and personal lives.

There have been a number of whistleblowers. For example, in 2006 Mark Klein revealed that AT&T had a secret room in its San Francisco office that NSA used to collect Internet and phone-call data from US citizens who were under no suspicion.

The presstitute media handled these stories in ways that protected the government’s lawlessness from scrutiny and public outrage. The usual spin was that the public needs to be safe from terrorists, and safety is what the government is providing.

The latest whistle blower, Edward Snowden, has sought refuge in Hong Kong, which has a better record of protecting free speech than the US government. Snowden did not trust any US news source and took the story to the British newspaper, the Guardian.

There is no longer any doubt whatsoever that the US government is lawless, that it regards the US Constitution as a scrap of paper, that it does not believe Americans have any rights other than those that the government tolerates at any point in time, and that the government has no fear of being held accountable by the weak and castrated US Congress, the sycophantic federal courts, a controlled media, and an insouciant public.

Binney and Snowden have described in precisely accurate detail the extreme danger from the government’s surveillance of the population. No one is exempt, not the Director of the CIA, US Army Generals, Senators and Representatives, not even the president himself.

Anyone with access to a computer and the Internet can find interviews with Binney and Snowden and become acquainted with why you do have very much indeed to fear whether or not you are doing anything wrong.

James Clapper, the lying Director of National Intelligence, who would have been perfectly at home in the Hitler or Stalin regimes, condemned Snowden as “reprehensible” for insisting that in a democracy the public should know what the government is doing. Clapper insisted that secretly spying on every ordinary American was essential in order to “protect our nation.”

Clapper is “offended” that Americans now know that the NSA is spying on the ordinary life of every American. Clapper wants Snowden to be severely punished for his “reckless disclosure” that the US government is totally violating the privacy that the US Constitution guarantees to every US citizen.

Read  More  Here

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The Transformation of Society

corbettreport corbettreport

Published on Jun 12, 2013

The US government has been violating the constituion and trampling on the bill of rights since virtually the inception of the country. The history of the US, like the history of every other country, is littered with the corpses of nice-sounding ideals, from false flag frame-ups to lead the nation into war to the persecution and even execution of political dissidents. But the point is that 50 years ago, America wanted to believe it was a nation of ideals, and many people did believe that. So what changed?…

minnesotachris minnesotachris

Published on Jun 9, 2013

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Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked?
by Ron Paul

Last week we saw dramatic new evidence of illegal government surveillance of our telephone calls, and of the National Security Agency’s deep penetration into American companies such as Facebook and Microsoft to spy on us. The media seemed shocked.

Many of us are not so surprised.

Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive US government surveillance—not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly twelve years and at least four wars ago.

We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the “crisis” has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need renewed? How many times did FISA authority need expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?

It was all a build-up of the government’s capacity to monitor us.

The reaction of some in Congress and the Administration to last week’s leak was predictable. Knee-jerk defenders of the police state such as Senator Lindsey Graham declared that he was “glad” the government was collecting Verizon phone records—including his own—because the government needs to know what the enemy is up to. Those who take an oath to defend the Constitution from its enemies both foreign and domestic should worry about such statements.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers tells us of the tremendous benefits of this Big Brother-like program. He promises us that domestic terrorism plots were thwarted, but he cannot tell us about them because they are classified. I am a bit skeptical, however. In April, the New York Times reported that most of these domestic plots were actually elaborate sting operations developed and pushed by the FBI. According to the Times report, “of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.”

Even if Chairman Rogers is right, though, and the program caught someone up to no good, we have to ask ourselves whether even such a result justifies trashing the Constitution. Here is what I said on the floor of the House when the PATRIOT Act was up for renewal back in 2011: “If you want to be perfectly safe from child abuse and wife beating, the government could put a camera in every one of our houses and our bedrooms, and maybe there would be somebody made safer this way, but what would you be giving up? Perfect safety is not the purpose of government. What we want from government is to enforce the law to protect our liberties.”

What most undermines the claims of the Administration and its defenders about this surveillance program is the process itself. First the government listens in on all of our telephone calls without a warrant and then if it finds something it goes to a FISA court and get an illegal approval for what it has already done! This turns the rule of law and due process on its head.

The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around. We should be thankful for writers like Glenn Greenwald, who broke last week’s story, for taking risks to let us know what the government is doing. There are calls for the persecution of Greenwald and the other whistle-blowers and reporters. They should be defended, as their work defends our freedom.

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Ron Paul: The Fourth Amendment is Clear

By on June 6, 2013 in National Blog

SPRINGFIELD, Virginia– Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul condemned reports that the Obama Administration is secretly collecting data from the phone calls of millions of Americans:

“I wish I could say I was shocked at the reports the NSA is secretly spying on the private phone calls of millions of Verizon customers. However, this is a predictable result of a government that continues to erode our liberties while promising some glimmering hope of security.

“The Fourth Amendment is clear; it says we should be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, and that all warrants must have probable cause.

I opposed and continue to oppose the Patriot Act because I believe it throws the Fourth Amendment right out the window. It is certainly not patriotic to support warrantless wiretaps, blanket ‘metadata’ collection, and spying on innocent American citizens.

“Unfortunately, what is worse than the reports, is knowing that politicians of both parties will continue to defend this practice as necessary to supposedly keep us ‘safe’. We do not have to sacrifice our liberties for security. At times like this, the question must be asked, ‘if we are willing to change our way of life and our very definition of freedom while tolerating the invasive searches at our airports and now of our phone calls, have the terrorists already won?’”

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File:Obama Rally in Pittsburgh 2008.3.28.jpg

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The Daily Caller

New York Times quietly changes published editorial to make it less damning of Obama

The New York Times edited its damning editorial condemning the Obama administration for collecting phone call data from Americans to make it less stinging shortly after the editorial was published online Thursday afternoon.

The editorial originally declared that the Obama “administration has lost all credibility” as a result of the recently revealed news that the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been secretly collecting call data from American users of Verizon under the authority of the Patriot Act.

But hours later the stinging sentence had been modified to read the Obama “administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” [Emphasis added]
>Read More Here

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POLITICO

NYT: Obama admin ‘has lost all credibility’

By DYLAN BYERS |

6/6/13 4:49 PM EDT

The New York Times editorial board responded to revelations about the NSA’s gathering of Americans’ phone records with a scathing editorial on Thursday afternoon condemning the Obama administration for abusing the power of the executive branch.

“Within hours of the disclosure… the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights,” the Times editorial read.

“Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability,” it contineud. “The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”

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The Washington Post

Daniel Ellsberg: ‘I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case’

In 1971, an American military analyst named Daniel Ellsberg gave a New York Times reporter a copy of “United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense,” a multi-volume work that became known as the Pentagon Papers. The massive, classified study painted a candid and unflattering portrait of the military’s conduct of the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court rejected the government’s request for an injunction against its publication later that year in a 6-3 ruling.

Ellsberg became the first person prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act for releasing classified information to the public. But the case was thrown out after the judge learned that the government had engaged in the illegal wiretapping of Ellsberg and other misconduct.

Today, Ellsberg is one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration’s prosecution of leakers. Under President Obama’s tenure, the government has prosecuted six individuals for releasing classified information to media organizations.

Ellsberg is particularly fierce in his support of Bradley Manning, a young soldier who released a large amount of classified information to WikiLeaks. Manning was arrested in 2010, and his military court-martial began this week. Ellsberg considers Manning a hero, and he argues that there is little difference between what Manning did in 2010 and what Ellsberg did four decades earlier. We spoke by phone on Friday. The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Daniel Ellsberg at an event supporting Bradley Manning in Washington, DC, on May 2, 2013. (Timothy B. Lee, Washington Post)

Daniel Ellsberg at an event supporting Bradley Manning in Washington, May 2, 2013. (Timothy B. Lee, Washington Post)

Timothy B. Lee: Why are you publicly supporting Bradley Manning?

Daniel Ellsberg: There are two reasons. One is to educate the public on the wars that he was exposing and the information that he put out. He has said his goal was to help the public make informed decisions. We’re grateful for that, and we’re trying to extend that word and bring that about.

Also, I and a lot of other people feel that we need more whistleblowers, and that to allow the government simply to stigmatize them without opposition does not encourage that. I think we’ve got to convey to people appreciation for the information that we do get, the idea that someone can make a difference.

In a military trial there isn’t a whole lot of possible influence, but the general atmosphere in the public is bound to make some influence on the judge. [We want the judge to] stop and think that there were some benefits [to Manning’s actions].

TL: In a 1973 interview, you said that a “secondary objective” of releasing the Pentagon Papers was “the hope of changing the tolerance of Executive secrecy that had grown up over the last quarter of a century both in Congress and the courts and in the public at large.” How has that “tolerance of secrecy” changed over the last four decades?

DE: There was a period after the Vietnam war, partly due to the Pentagon Papers, and largely due to Watergate, that made people much less tolerant of being lied to, much more aware of how often they were lied to and how the system operated to make that lying possible without accountability. We got the Freedom of Information Act. The FISA court was set up. The FBI was reined in a great deal. The NSA was forbidden to do overhearing of American citizens without a court warrant. That lasted for some years.

But 40 years have passed, and after 9/11 in particular, all of those lessons have been lost. There’s been very great tolerance that if the magic words “national security,” or the new words “homeland security” are invoked, Congress has given the president virtually a free hand in deciding what information they will know as well as the public. I wouldn’t count on the current court with its current makeup making the same ruling with the Pentagon Papers as they did 40 years ago. I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case.

Various things that were counted as unconstitutional then have been put in the president’s hands now. He’s become an elected monarch. Nixon’s slogan, “when the president does it, it’s not illegal,” is pretty much endorsed now. Meaning not only Obama but the people who come after him will have powers that no previous president had. Abilities on surveillance that no country in the history of the world has ever had.

Interestingly, after the AP revelations and the [revelations about] Fox News reporter [James Rosen], who was actually charged with aiding and abetting a conspiracy with a source, every journalist has suddenly woken up to the fact that they’re under the gun. That may actually have the effect of waking people up to the fact that, for example, Attorney General Holder has been violating the Constitution steadily, and that he should be fired. But fired for what? For doing what had the approval of the president.

Holder should be fired for a whole series of actions culminating in this subpoena for James Rosen’s cellphone records. I think that would be the first step of resistance in the right direction, of rolling back Obama’s campaign against journalism, freedom of the press in national security.

TL: Is government surveillance of journalists more alarming than prosecution of leakers?

DE: Absolutely, but the two go together a little more than might be obvious. First of all, there’s no question that President Obama is conducting an unprecedented campaign against unauthorized disclosure. The government had used the Espionage Act against leaks only three times before his administration. He’s used it six times. He’s doing his best to assure that sources in the government will have reason to fear heavy prison sentences for informing the American public in ways he doesn’t want.

In other words, he’s working very hard to make it a government where he controls all the information. There will be plenty of leaks of classified information, but it will be by his officials in pursuit of his policies. We will not be getting information that the government doesn’t want out, that [reveals government actions that are] embarrassing or criminal or reckless, as we saw in Vietnam and Iraq.

I think the newspapers really need to address the fact that they’re going to be put in the position of printing nothing more than government handouts. There will be in effect a state press, as in so many other countries that lack freedom of the press. I don’t think they have really awakened to that change. There would be a lot of newspaper people who would be comfortable with that. But there are a lot who would not.

Daniel Ellsberg speaks to reporters about the Manning case on June 2, 2013. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post)

Daniel Ellsberg speaks to reporters about the Manning case on June 2, 2013. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post)

TL: Do you think Bradley Manning is in a different category than the other people President Obama has prosecuted?

DE: Bradley Manning’s case might seem to have no relevance to some of these other civilian disclosures because it’s a military court-martial. But the charge they’re using against him, the specific one of aid and comfort to the enemy, is one that puts virtually all dissent in this country for government policies at risk. Not only leaks in general, like WikiLeaks, or the New York Times for that matter, but people who aren’t in journalism at all. He’s charged with giving aid and comfort to the enemy, a charge that has no element of intention or motive, simply by putting out information that the enemy might be happy to read.

I think they’re going to put into the trial for example, indications that Osama bin Laden downloaded the New York Times, as anyone in the world could do. No doubt Osama was happy to have the world realize that his enemies were committing atrocities that they weren’t admitting and that they weren’t investigating. It was no intention of WikiLeaks or Bradley Manning to give comfort to Osama bin Laden. That was an inadvertent effect of informing the American public of that, which definitely did need to know it.

Specifically, they’re charging Bradley with the video. [A video of a 2007 helicopter strike in Baghdad released by WikiLeaks under the title “Collateral Murder.”] That was not in fact classified. But whether it was or not, it was wrongly withheld from Reuters who twice made Freedom of Information Act requests knowing it existed. David Finkel at The Washington Post quoted from the video. Bradley Manning was aware that Reuters had made that request and had been denied and that The Washington Post had access to the video and he believed that they had the video. I don’t think it’s ever been established whether the Washington Post reporter had the video.

That video depicts a war crime, an unarmed, injured civilian being deliberately killed. A squad was going to be in the area in minutes. They also shot at people who were trying to help the victims, including a father and two children.

Manning sees this, knows it’s a crime, knows the evidence has been refused to Reuters. He knows there’s no way for the American public to see that except to put it out. By any standard that’s what he should have done. For them to charge him with that shows an outrageous sensibility. Going after the man who exposes the war crime instead of any of the ones who actually did it, none of whom were indicted or investigated.

TL: I think some people have the impression that recent leaks have posed a greater threat to national security, and that the government’s prosecutions were therefore more justified, than what you did in the early 1970s. Do you think that’s true?

DE: There’s a very general impression that Bradley Manning simply dumped out everything that he had access to without any discrimination, and that’s very misleading or mistaken on several counts. He was in a facility that dealt mainly in information higher than top secret in classification. He put out nothing that was higher than secret. [Information he published] was available to hundreds of thousands of people. He had access to material that was much higher than top secret, much more sensitive. He chose not to put any of that out. He explained that in his statement to the court. He said what he put out was no more than embarrassing to the government.

There was more meat in the material [that Manning released] than I as a Pentagon official would have expected to find in material that was only [classified as] secret. There was information about torture and deaths of civilians. Apparently that is so routine in these current wars that it wasn’t regarded as sensitive.

So far the Pentagon has not been able to point to a single example of information that led to harm to an American. If they had, I think we’d have seen pictures of victims on the cover of Time magazine.

Read Full Article Here

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The Daily Caller

  

‘Pentagon Papers’ leaker: Obama an ‘elected monarch,’ trying to ‘control all the information’

Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst whose leak of the “Pentagon Papers” precipitated a landmark Supreme Court case, says President Barack Obama “has become an elected monarch” who is leading “an unprecedented campaign against unauthorized disclosure.”

“The government had used the Espionage Act against leaks only three times before his administration,” Ellsberg told The Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday. “He’s used it six times. He’s doing his best to assure that sources in the government will have reason to fear heavy prison sentences for informing the American public in ways he doesn’t want.”

“In other words, he’s working very hard to make it a government where he controls all the information,” Ellsberg added.

Ellsberg’s leak of a top-secret history of the Vietnam War to New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan in 1971 revealed that the U.S. government had systematically lied about the nature of the conflict since its involvement. The Nixon administration charged Ellsberg under the Espionage Act of 1917 and obtained a federal injunction to stop the papers’ publication, but lost the case on appeal after it reached the Supreme Court.

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Obama’s Super Secret Treaty Which Will Push The Deindustrialization Of America Into Overdrive

Barack-Obama-With-His-Hand-On-The-Resolute-Desk-300x300

Did you know that Barack Obama has been secretly negotiating the most important trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organization?  Did you know that this agreement will impose very strict Internet copyright rules, ban all “Buy American” laws, give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and force even more domestic manufacturing offshore?  If you have not heard about this treaty, don’t feel bad.  Obama has refused to even give Congress a copy of the draft agreement and he has banned members of Congress from attending the negotiations.  The plan is to keep this treaty secret until the very last minute and then to railroad it through Congress and have it signed into law by October.  The treaty is known as “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the nations that are reported to be involved in the development of this treaty include the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.  Opponents of this treaty refer to it as “the NAFTA of the Pacific”, and if it is enacted it will push the deindustrialization of America into overdrive.

The “one world” economic agenda that Barack Obama has been pushing is absolutely killing the U.S. economy.  As you will see later in this article, we are losing jobs and businesses at an astounding pace.  And each new “free trade” agreement makes things even worse.

For example, just check out the impact that the recent free trade agreement that Obama negotiated with South Korea is having on us

  • A 10 percent decline of U.S. exports to Korea
  • The U.S. trade deficit with Korea has climbed 37 percent
  • U.S. auto industry has been crippled
  • Loss of U.S. control where international trade, banking and finance is concerned
  • A projected 159,000 jobs will be lost

Wait a second – I though that “free trade” agreements were actually supposed to increase exports.

So why have they declined by 10 percent?

Did someone make a really bad deal?

And of course we have all seen the economic devastation that NAFTA has wrought.

When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States actually had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

And “free trade” with China has turned out to be a complete and total nightmare as well.

Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.

In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

But instead of learning from the mistakes of the past, Barack Obama is pressing for more “free trade” agreements.

The New York Times is calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership “the most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995“.  It is reportedly going to include a whole host of provisions which would never be able to get through Congress on their own.  Even though this treaty will affect all of our daily lives, the Obama administration is keeping this treaty a total secret.  In fact, Obama won’t even show it to Congress even though members of Congress have asked repeatedly to see it…

The agreement, under negotiation since 2008, would set new rules for everything from food safety and financial markets to medicine prices and Internet freedom. It would include at least 12 of the countries bordering the Pacific and be open for more to join. President Obama has said he wants to sign it by October.

Although Congress has exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade, so far the executive branch has managed to resist repeated requests by members of Congress to see the text of the draft agreement and has denied requests from members to attend negotiations as observers — reversing past practice.

While the agreement could rewrite broad sections of nontrade policies affecting Americans’ daily lives, the administration also has rejected demands by outside groups that the nearly complete text be publicly released.

So exactly who in the world does this guy think that he is?  Why won’t Obama let us know exactly what is in this treaty?

Fortunately, there have been a few leaks.  One thing that we have discovered is that this new treaty would reportedly ban all “Buy American laws“.

That certainly would not be popular if it got out.

And do you remember SOPA?

The American people wanted nothing to do with the very strict Internet copyright provisions of SOPA and loudly expressed their displeasure to members of Congress.

Unfortunately, now the provisions of SOPA are back.  It is being reported that most of the provisions of SOPA have been quietly inserted into this treaty.  If this treaty is enacted, those provisions will become law and the American people will not be able to do anything about it.

Read Full Article Here

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Breaking ’08 Pledge, Leaked Trade Doc Shows Obama Wants to Help Corporations Avoid Regulations


Democracy Now

A draft agreement leaked Wednesday shows the Obama administration is pushing a secretive trade agreement that could vastly expand corporate power and directly contradict a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama. A U.S. proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations would allow foreign corporations operating in the U.S. to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its ruling. We speak to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that posted the leaked documents on its website. “This isn’t just a bad trade agreement,” Wallach says. “This is a ‘one-percenter’ power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.” [includes rush transcript]

Guest:

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Global Research

by Frank Morales

Supreme Court backs binding arbitration agreements

The Washington Post

By

Transcript

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to a controversial trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations that until now has remained largely secret. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. A chapter from the draft agreement leaked Wednesday outlines how it would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.

The agreement is being negotiated by the U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, appointed by President Obama. But the newly revealed terms contradict promises Obama made while running for president in 2008. One campaign document read in part, quote, “We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; [or] give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors.”

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier leaks from the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement exposed how it included rules that could increase the cost of medication and make participating countries adopt restrictive copyright measures.

No one from the U.S. trade representative’s office was able to join us, but in a statement to Democracy Now!, they said, quote, “Nothing in our TPP investment proposal could impair our government’s ability to pursue legitimate, non-discriminatory public interest regulation.”

For more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of the fair trade group Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. The leaked documents were posted on her organization’s website early Wednesday morning.

Lori, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain what the documents show and what this agreement is about.

LORI WALLACH: Well, it’s been branded as a trade agreement, but really it is enforceable corporate global governance. The agreement requires that every signatory country conform all of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures to what are 26 chapters of very comprehensive rules, only two of which have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters set a whole array of corporate new privileges and rights and handcuff governments, limit regulation. So the chapter that leaked—and it’s actually on the website of Citizens Trade Campaign, it’s a national coalition for fair trade—that chapter is the chapter that sets up new rights and privileges for foreign investors, including their right to privately enforce this public treaty by suing our government, raiding our Treasury, over costs of complying with the same policies that all U.S. companies have to comply with. It’s really outrageous.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, there’s been a quite a bit of complaint, even in Congress, about the secretive nature of these continuing negotiations. About 600 or so corporate advisers have access to information that even members of Congress don’t? Could you talk about how that has come about?

LORI WALLACH: Well, this is how you get a text and in a potential agreement that is this outrageous. I mean, this isn’t just a bad trade agreement, this is a one-percenter power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights. How that happens is the negotiations have been done in total secrecy. So, for two-and-a-half years, until this leak emerged, people have suspected what’s going on, because, as you said, under U.S. law there are 600 official advisers, they have security clearance to see the text, they advise the U.S. position. Meanwhile, the senator, Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate, the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP, has been denied access to the text, as has his staff, who has security clearance, to a point where this man who has supported agreements like this in the past has filed legislation demanding he have the right to see the agreement that he’s supposed to be having oversight with. He’s on the Intelligence Committee, and he has security clearance, so he can see our nuclear secrets. He just can’t see this corporate bill of rights that is trying to be slipped into effect in the name of being a trade agreement. It’s a very elegant Trojan horse strategy. You brand it one thing, and then you put an agenda that could not survive sunshine into this agreement.

We have been able also to get some of the texts on patents, expanding patents for Big Pharma, jacking up medicine prices. And we have analysis on our website, tradewatch.org, as well as information about how to get involved, because these agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying, “This is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability.”

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach—

LORI WALLACH: And this agreement is the antithesis.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to read part of the comment we got from the U.S. trade representative’s office when we invited them on today’s show. They wrote, quote, “The Obama Administration has infused unprecedented transparency into the TPP negotiations. We have worked with Members of Congress … [and] invited stakeholders to every round of negotiations where they have given presentations and met with individual negotiating teams. … We are always looking for ways to enhance provisions on transparency and public participation.” Lori Wallach, your comment?

LORI WALLACH: Well, to start with, the idea of transparency of the current negotiators is a one-way mirror. We can basically talk to them and do presentations. But as this leak shows, nothing that the public interest organizations—and it’s a huge array of organizations, from faith groups to consumer groups, environmental, labor—nothing that we have said is now reflected in the U.S. position in this negotiation, which I’m sad to say is the most extreme. I mean, the U.S. is even opposing proposals in this agreement to try and make sure countries have the ability to use financial regulation to ensure financial stability. The U.S. positions don’t reflect what we’ve been saying, but we can talk at them.

But just to put this in perspective, in the last negotiation of a big regional agreement—that was the Free Trade Area of the Americas in the 1990s, 34 countries, very complicated agreement—two years into the negotiation, the entire draft text was published officially by the governments. Here we are, three years into this negotiation with eight countries, and they will not publish a sentence. In fact, it finally leaked that they had signed a special agreement not to release any draft text for four years after negotiations are done—a secrecy agreement on top of the normal secrecy. And when asked, Ron Kirk, the trade representative, why—in the past, the U.S. has sent out draft texts. The WTO, hardly a paradigm of transparency, publishes draft texts. “What the—what’s going on?” he was asked. He said, “Well, in the past, for instance, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, when the text was revealed, we couldn’t finish it.” Now, what sort of indictment is that of what they are doing behind closed doors, that merely allowing the public who will live with the results and Congress to know what’s up is going to somehow derail the plans to lock us in? Because what’s really important to understand about these agreements, it’s not about trade, and it’s like cement. Once the cement dries in these agreements, you can’t change the rules, unless all the agreement—all the other countries agree to amend the agreement.

So what we’re talking about with this leaked chapter is literally a parallel system of justice. People have domestic laws and courts, trying to defend our rights and get our needs met. Corporations would have a parallel system of private attorneys, three of them, no conflict-of-interest laws. The U.S. and the other countries would submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this corporate kangaroo court, and these three random attorneys would have the right to order the U.S. government to pay unlimited amounts of our tax dollars to corporations and investors who, A, claim regulatory costs need to be refunded, or, B, are saying they’re not being treated well enough, regardless if the policies they dislike are the exact same ones that apply to all of us. Even under NAFTA’s system, which has some of this, $350 million have already been paid out to corporations by governments, over toxics bans, zoning laws, timber rules. This is a sneaky outrage. And if people actually put a spotlight on it, we can stop it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, Lori, I wanted to ask you—you mentioned the eight nations that are involved in the negotiations. Which nations are they? And also, the issue of the way this is being negotiated, the number could expand dramatically in the future. Can you talk about that?

LORI WALLACH: Well, the reason why it is so incredibly important that this agreement be exposed is this could well be the last agreement that’s negotiated. So, many of your listeners and viewers have been involved in the sneaky way trade agreements have been used by corporations to limit regulation and to foster a race to the bottom since NAFTA. And each of these agreements has gotten bolder, more expansive in its limits on government regulation and in its granting of corporate powers. This one could be the end, because what they intend to do is leave it open, once it’s done, for any other country to join. So, this is an agreement that ultimately could have the whole world in it as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions. It is not an exaggeration to say that the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance, right at the time that the Occupy movement and movements around the world are demanding more power and control. This is the fightback. This is locking in the bad old way plus. And in addition, the way that the agreement is being negotiated, these rules would require that you not only change all of your existing laws—so good progressive laws would have to be gotten rid of—but that, in the future, you don’t create new laws.

Now, the agreement now includes Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru and Vietnam, as well as the U.S., plus Malaysia has now joined. And the agreement includes all of the NAFTA-style privileges that promote offshoring. But more drastically, it has all sorts of new corporate privileges, so the right to extend medicine and seed monopolies to jack up medicine prices, even the right to challenge formularies, medicine prescription group buying plans. For instance, what the Obama administration has put in their health reform bill, they are at the negotiating table behind closed doors trying to kill the right to use for other countries. Or the financial rules would have just a limit. Countries aren’t allowed to ban risky financial products or services, at the same time that we’re trying to issue regulations under financial reform. And the agreement even meddles with how we spend our local tax dollars. For folks around the country who are doing sweat-free campaigns, who are doing living wage campaigns, green buying campaigns, this agreement says, A, you can’t have local preferences, so no “buy New York” state preference to recycle money back in your state, your tax dollars, no “buy American,” but also conditions like a product has to have recycled content or that that uniform has to be sweat-free. Those kind of conditions can be challenged. It is an incredible corporate power tool. It’s only gotten this far because it’s been secret. And people in the other countries don’t want it either. But our country is the one that’s largely pushing the most radical provisions, which is why it was so important for this text, which everyone can see an analysis of at tradewatch.org, to be made public, to make people aware of what’s really going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Lori, the last round of negotiations on the trade agreement took place in Dallas. While there, Obama’s appointed trade representative, Ron Kirk, spoke at an event for the local business community. The Yes Men took the opportunity to present Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, with a mock award. This is a clip.

GIT HAVERSALL: Hello. Thank you so much for being here. My name is Git Haversall. And on behalf of the Texas Corporate Power Partnership, we are very, very pleased to announce that the U.S. trade negotiators are the winners of our 2012 Corporate Power Tool Award. I would like to personally thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts. The TPP agreement is shaping up to be a great way for us to maximize our profits, regardless of what the public of this nation or any other nation thinks is right.

AMY GOODMAN: The next round of negotiations on TPP are scheduled over the July 4th holiday weekend. Lori Wallach, can you comment on this? And also, what I assume would be President Obama’s response, if talking behind the scenes, like perhaps tonight when he’s going to be at Sarah Jessica Parker house with—with raising a lot of money—the financial sector is donating $37 million to Mitt Romney so far, the Obama administration’s haul, $4.8 million—that even his own Wall Street supporters are going over to Romney right now, so he would say he is doing better than Romney would in trying to take on these guys.

LORI WALLACH: I think that, for President Obama, there are two scenarios. One is, he has not been on top of what these negotiators are doing. This really has been under the radar. It’s so important that the text finally came out, because it sends a warning to Congress, to the public, etc., and that basically he’s got negotiators on the loose. They are many of the same people who during the Clinton administration got us into NAFTA, that recycled back into the trade negotiating team. The other alternative explanation is just the money one, which is, it is the case that this is an agreement the 1 percent loves. This is sort of one-percenter fantasy. It’s not just that on the margins and in national governments you have to keep fighting with all your money and lobbying to try and get what you want; this would lock it in for the future, indefinitely.

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, we want to thank you very much for being with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. And we will continue to watch this.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, whistleblower Jesselyn Radack on what a number in Congress are calling national security leaks. Stay with us.

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breakingtheset

Published on Feb 26, 2013

Abby Martin speaks to the legislative representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Mike Dolan, about the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP), the Obama administration’s efforts for a new trade agreement with the EU, and the negative implications of said agreements.

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EFForg EFForg

Published on May 22, 2013

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is being negotiated in secret between more than 12 countries around the Pacific region. Find out why it’s the biggest threat to the Internet you’ve probably never heard of.

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Arrogant Bastards Obama & Eric Wants Off The Record Meeting With Reporters

Whateverhappentocomm Whateverhappentocomm

Published on May 30, 2013

Arrogant Bastards Obama & Eric Wants Off The Record Meeting With Reporters, What The Hell

Attorney General Eric Holder’s plans to sit down with media representatives to discuss guidelines for handling investigations into leaks to the news media have run into trouble.
The Associated Press issued a statement Wednesday objecting to plans for the meetings to be off the record. “If it is not on the record, AP will not attend and instead will offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter,” said Erin Madigan White, the AP’s media relations manager.
The New York Times is taking the same position. “It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off-the-record meeting with the attorney general,” executive editor Jill Abramson said in a statement.

 

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Holder runs into roadblocks on off-the-record meetings on leaks
May 29th, 2013
11:20 PM ET

3 hours ago

Holder runs into roadblocks on off-the-record meetings on leaks

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET on Thursday 5/30

Washington (CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder’s plans to sit down with media representatives to discuss guidelines for handling investigations into leaks to the news media have run into trouble.

The Associated Press issued a statement Wednesday objecting to plans for the meetings to be off the record. “If it is not on the record, AP will not attend and instead will offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter,” said Erin Madigan White, the AP’s media relations manager.

The New York Times is taking the same position. “It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off-the-record meeting with the attorney general,” executive editor Jill Abramson said in a statement.

Like the New York Times and the Associated Press, CNN will decline the invitation for an off-the-record meeting. A CNN spokesperson says if the meeting with the attorney general is on the record, CNN would plan to participate.

The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, also said he will not attend unless the meeting is on the record. “A conversation specifically about the freedom of the press should be an open one. We have a responsibility not to betray that,” Grim told CNN.

But Politico posted an item on its website saying editor-in-chief John Harris plans to attend one of the meetings with Holder.

“As editor-in-chief, I routinely have off-the-record conversations with people who have questions or grievances about our coverage or our newsgathering practices,” Harris said in the Politico item. “I feel anyone – whether an official or ordinary reader – should be able to have an unguarded conversation with someone in a position of accountability for a news organization when there is good reason.”

 

Read Full Article  Here

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America’s Bubble Economy Is Going To Become An Economic Black Hole

The Economic CollapseThe Economic Collapse

Black Hole The mainstream media never talks about that.  They are much too busy covering the latest dogfights in Washington and what Justin Bieber has been up to.  And most Americans seem to think that if the Dow keeps setting new all-time highs that everything must be okay.  Sadly, that is not the case at all.  Right now, the U.S. economy is exhibiting all of the classic symptoms of a bubble economy.  You can see this when you step back and take a longer-term view of things.  Over the past decade, we have added more than 10 trillion dollars to the national debt.  But most Americans have shown very little concern as the balance on our national credit card has soared from 6 trillion dollars to nearly 17 trillion dollars.  Meanwhile, Wall Street has been transformed into the biggest casino on the planet, and much of the new money that the Federal Reserve has been recklessly printing up has gone into stocks.  But the Dow does not keep setting new records because the underlying economic fundamentals are good.  Rather, the reckless euphoria that we are seeing in the financial markets right now reminds me very much of 1929.  Margin debt is absolutely soaring, and every time that happens a crash rapidly follows.  But this time when a crash happens it could very well be unlike anything that we have ever seen before.  The top 25 U.S. banks have more than 212 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives combined, and when that house of cards comes crashing down there is no way that anyone will be able to prop it back up.  After all, U.S. GDP for an entire year is only a bit more than 15 trillion dollars.

But most Americans are only focused on the short-term because the mainstream media is only focused on the short-term.  Things are good this week and things were good last week, so there is nothing to worry about, right?

Unfortunately, economic reality is not going to change even if all of us try to ignore it.  Those that are willing to take an honest look at what is coming down the road are very troubled.  For example, Bill Gross of PIMCO says that his firm sees “bubbles everywhere”…

We see bubbles everywhere, and that is not to be dramatic and not to suggest they will pop immediately. I just suggested in the bond market with a bubble in treasuries and bubble in narrow credit spreads and high-yield prices, that perhaps there is a significant distortion there. Having said that, it suggests that as long as the FED and Bank of Japan and other Central Banks keep writing checks and do not withdraw, then the bubble can be supported as in blowing bubbles. They are blowing bubbles. When that stops there will be repercussions.

And unfortunately, it is not just the United States that has a bubble economy.  In fact, the gigantic financial bubble over in Japan may burst before our own financial bubble does.  The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers

First and foremost, Japan is the second largest bond market in the world. If Japan’s sovereign bonds continue to fall, pushing rates higher, then there has been a tectonic shift in the global financial system. Remember the impact that Greece had on asset prices? Greece’s bond market is less than 3% of Japan’s in size.

For multiple decades, Japanese bonds have been considered “risk free.” As a result of this, investors have been willing to lend money to Japan at extremely low rates. This has allowed Japan’s economy, the second largest in the world, to putter along marginally.

So if Japanese bonds begin to implode, this means that:

1)   The second largest bond market in the world is entering a bear market (along with commensurate liquidations and redemptions by institutional investors around the globe).

2)   The second largest economy in the world will collapse (along with the impact on global exports).

Both of these are truly epic problems for the financial system.

 

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40 Statistics About The Fall Of The U.S. Economy That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

The Economic CollapseThe Economic Collapse

40 Statistics About The Fall Of The U.S. Economy That Are Almost Too Crazy To BelieveIf you know someone that actually believes that the U.S. economy is in good shape, just show them the statistics in this article.  When you step back and look at the long-term trends, it is undeniable what is happening to us.  We are in the midst of a horrifying economic decline that is the result of decades of very bad decisions.  30 years ago, the U.S. national debt was about one trillion dollars.  Today, it is almost 17 trillion dollars.  40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the United States was about 2 trillion dollars.  Today, it is more than 56 trillion dollars.  At the same time that we have been running up all of this debt, our economic infrastructure and our ability to produce wealth has been absolutely gutted.  Since 2001, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas.  Our share of global GDP declined from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011.  The percentage of Americans that are self-employed is at a record low, and the percentage of Americans that are dependent on the government is at a record high.  The U.S. economy is a complete and total mess, and it is time that we faced the truth.

The following are 40 statistics about the fall of the U.S. economy that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 Back in 1980, the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars.  Today, it is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars…

National Debt

#2 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

#3 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#4 If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

#5 The federal government is stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

#6 Back in 1970, the total amount of debt in the United States (government debt + business debt + consumer debt, etc.) was less than 2 trillion dollars.  Today it is over 56 trillion dollars…

Total Debt

#7 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#8 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#9 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988.  Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#10 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been permanently shut down since 2001.

#11 There are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.

#12 According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit.

#13 When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

#14 Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.  In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

#15 Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

#16 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#17 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#18 At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

 

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