March 12, 2012
By Stephen Lendman
“Even though the people want no more wars, the government can’t wait to keep fighting. And for what?” –KTRN
Cheerled by America’s major media scoundrels, war looks increasingly likely. Syria and Iran both are targeted.
Imagine the potential catastrophic consequences, especially if nuclear weapons are used. They were before. Why not now. The prospect’s chilling.
In his Der Ring des Nibelungen operas (the Ring), Richard Wagner portrayed his apocalyptic version musically. Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods) prophesied the end of the world.
Einstein suggested it, saying he didn’t know what WW III weapons would be used, “but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Around the same time, Bertrand Russell warned:
“Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war” and live in peace. The stark choice is clear. The wrong one suggests consequences too grim to imagine.
It’s terrifying to imagine nuclear bunker-buster bombs used against underground targets. Whatever the physical damage, irradiating vast areas could kill millions, and set a precedent to keep using them like king-sized hand grenades.
A 13,600-kilogram bunker-buster’s being developed. Called “the massive ordnance penetrator,” allegedly it can smash through 65 meters of reinforced concrete before detonating.
Defense Secretary Panetta said work on an array of military options are being considered if sanctions don’t curb Iran’s nuclear program. He added they’ve been underway “a long time,” and Washington’s “weighing all of the ramifications of how best to deal with Iran.”
It’s hard imagining the mindset of hawkish policy makers. Grave consequences aren’t considered, let alone waging permanent wars against nonbelligerent countries threatening no one.
Yet Obama’s fulfilling Dick Cheney’s promise about wars not ending in our lifetime. Former CIA Director James Woolsey said America’s “engaged in World War IV, and it could continue for years….This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us.”
In his September 11, 1990 joint session of Congress speech, GHW Bush called it a “New World Order” ahead of Operation Desert Storm.
January 16, 2012
By Greg Hunter
Two weeks ago, Iranians were saved from pirates on their hijacked ship by the U.S. Navy. Last week, the U.S. military saved a sinking ship in the Persian Gulf. It’s too bad that will not be enough goodwill to stop the coming Iran war. Headlines in the last few weeks look like a stark warning for a coming conflict. The West, spearheaded by America, is putting into place tougher sanctions that will target Iran’s financial and oil interests. Tension has been increasing by the week over the nuclear program that Iran steadfastly claims is for the peaceful production of energy. New sanctions will be fully implemented in about six months.
Iran has threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are carried out. Iran has also warned Gulf oil producers against boosting production if an embargo stops or slows oil from the region. The U.S. has warned Iran against any action to close this narrow shipping passage where up to 40% of the world’s oil passes every year. The Pentagon has flatly said it will not allow that to happen. Meanwhile, the U.S. has warned Israel not to attack Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, “U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict. President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.”
October 27, 2011
“It’s becoming clearer every day that Ron Paul is the only voice of reason in the GOP election.“ –Chris KTRN
By Michael Brendan Dougherty
“On occasion scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly,” said Rick Santorum at a recent campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina.
But it isn’t just dead Iranian scientists that gladden Santorum’s heart.
He continued: “I think we should send a very clear message that if you are a scientist from Russia, North Korea, or from Iran and you are going to work on a nuclear program to develop a bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”
Santorum offers these comments while Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in Pyongyang conducting diplomatic talks with North Korea. Panetta is trying to bring North Korea back to its former commitment to disarmament in exchange for foreign aid and the negotiation has been difficult.
Here is hoping that Rick Santorum’s comments don’t get Leon Panetta kidnapped. Watch the video below.
September 20th, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Robert Burns
After years of debate and months of final preparations, the military can no longer prevent gays from serving openly in its ranks.
Repeal of a 1993 law that allowed gays to serve only so long as they kept their sexual orientation private took effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
Some in Congress still oppose the change, but top Pentagon leaders have certified that it will not undermine the military’s ability to recruit or to fight wars.
The Army was distributing a business-as-usual statement Tuesday saying simply, “The law is repealed,” and reminding soldiers to treat each other fairly.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, scheduled a Pentagon news conference to field questions about the repeal. And a bipartisan group of congressional supporters of allowing openly gay service planned a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Gay advocacy groups planned a series of celebrations across the country.
At a San Diego bar, current and former troops danced and counted down to midnight. “You are all heroes,” Sean Sala, a former Navy operations specialist, said. “The days of your faces being blacked out on the news – no more.”
In Iraq, a spokesman for U.S forces put out a statement Tuesday morning noting that all troops there had been trained for the change.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Monday that the military is adequately prepared for the end of the current policy, commonly known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” under which gays can serve as long as they don’t openly acknowledge their sexual orientation and commanders are not allowed to ask.
“No one should be left with the impression that we are unprepared. We are prepared for repeal,” Little said.
Last week, the Pentagon said 97 percent of the military has undergone training in the new law.
For weeks the military services have accepted applications from openly gay recruits, while waiting for repeal to take effect before processing the applications.
With the lifting of the ban, the Defense Department will publish revised regulations to reflect the new law allowing gays to serve openly. The revisions, such as eliminating references to banned homosexual service, are in line with policy guidance that was issued by top Pentagon officials in January, after Obama signed the legislation that did away with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The lifting of the 18-year-old ban also brings a halt to all pending investigations, discharges and other administrative proceedings that were begun under the Clinton-era law.
Existing standards of personal conduct, such as those pertaining to public displays of affection, will continue regardless of sexual orientation.
There also will be no immediate changes to eligibility standards for military benefits. All service members already are entitled to certain benefits and entitlements, such as designating a partner as one’s life insurance beneficiary or as designated caregiver in the Wounded Warrior program.
Gay marriage is one of the thornier issues. An initial move by the Navy earlier this year to train chaplains about same-sex civil unions in states where they are legal was halted after more than five dozen lawmakers objected. The Pentagon is reviewing the issue.
Service members who were discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law will be allowed to re-enlist, but their applications will not be given priority over those of any others with prior military experience who are seeking to re-enlist.
Some in Congress remain opposed to repeal, arguing that it may undermine order and discipline.
A leading advocate, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Monday the repeal is overdue.
“Our nation will finally close the door on a fundamental unfairness for gays and lesbians, and indeed affirm equality for all Americans,” the California Democrat said.
August 4th, 2011
By: Nedra Pickler
A judge is allowing an Army veteran who says he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the U.S. military in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld personally for damages.
The veteran’s identity is withheld in court filings, but he worked for an American contracting company as a translator for the Marines in the volatile Anbar province before being detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to holding “high-value” detainees.
The government says he was suspected of helping get classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime and says he never broke the law.
Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive.
Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then suddenly released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to courts in violation of his constitutional rights.
Chicago attorney Mike Kanovitz, who is representing the plaintiff, says it appears the military wanted to keep his client behind bars so he couldn’t tell anyone about an important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping collect intelligence in Iraq.
“The U.S. government wasn’t ready for the rest of the world to know about it, so they basically put him on ice,” Kanovitz said in a telephone interview. “If you’ve got unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?”
The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld through the Justice Department and argued that the former defense secretary cannot be sued personally for official conduct. The Justice Department also argued that a judge cannot review wartime decisions that are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president. And the department said the case could disclose sensitive information and distract from the war effort, and said the threat of liability would impede future military decisions.
But U.S. District Judge James Gwin rejected those arguments and said U.S. citizens are protected by the Constitution at home or abroad during wartime.
“The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad,” Gwin wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday.
“The stakes in holding detainees at Camp Cropper may have been high, but one purpose of the constitutional limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement even domestically is to strike a balance between government objectives and individual rights even when the stakes are high,” the judge ruled.
In many other cases brought by foreign detainees, judges have dismissed torture claims made against U.S. officials for their personal involvement in decisions over prisoner treatment. But this is the second time a federal judge has allowed U.S. citizens to sue Rumsfeld personally.
U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen in Illinois last year said two other Americans who worked in Iraq as contractors and were held at Camp Cropper, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, can pursue claims that they were tortured using Rumsfeld-approved methods after they alleged illegal activities by their company. Rumsfeld is appealing that ruling, which Gwin cited.
The Supreme Court sets a high bar for suing high-ranking officials, requiring that they be tied directly to a violation of constitutional rights and must have clearly understood their actions crossed that line.
The case before Gwin involves a man who went to Iraq in December 2004 to work with an American-owned defense contracting firm. He was assigned as an Arabic translator for Marines gathering intelligence in Anbar. He says he was the first American to open direct talks with Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who became an important U.S. ally and later led a revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida before being killed by a bomb.
In November 2005, when he was to go on home leave, Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents questioned him about his work, refusing his requests for representation by his employer, the Marines or an attorney. The Justice Department says he was told he was suspected of helping provide classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces attempting to cross from Syria into Iraq.
He says he refused to answer questions because of concern about confidentiality, and the agents handcuffed and blindfolded him, kicked him in the back and threatened to shoot him if he tried to escape. He was then transferred to an unidentified location for three days before being flown to Camp Cropper.
For his first three months at Camp Cropper he says he was held incommunicado in solitary confinement with a hole in the ground for a toilet. He says he was then moved to cells holding terrorist suspects hostile to the United States who were told about his work for the military, leading to physical attacks by his cellmates that left him in constant fear for his life.
He claims guards tortured him by repeatedly choking him, exposing him to extreme cold and continuous artificial light, blindfolding and hooding him, waking him by banging on a door or slamming a window when he tried to sleep and blasting music into his cell at “intolerably loud volumes.”
He says he always denied any wrongdoing and truthfully answered questions but interrogators continued to threaten him. Both sides say a detainee status board in December 2005 determined he was a threat to the multinational forces in Iraq and authorized his continued detention, but he says he was not allowed to see most of the evidence against him. Documents the government filed with the court only say he is suspected of a crime, without providing details.
July 19, 2010
By: Alexander Bolton
Senate and House Democrats are headed for a clash this week over funding for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) races to clear the schedule for long-awaited energy reform legislation.
The Senate and House are squabbling over $22.8 billion House appropriators added to the supplemental bill. House lawmakers note that it’s fully paid for with offsets, such as $11.7 billion in rescissions to government programs that no longer need funding.
Senate Democratic leaders, however, doubt the House bill can pass their chamber with the extra spending, including $10 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to save 140,000 school jobs over the next year.
Senate passage is complicated by a pending veto threat from President Obama. He objects to the House proposal to pay for the education fund by rescinding money for the administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative, which rewards academically improved schools with grants.
A Senate Democratic aide said leaders will nevertheless schedule a vote on the House legislation. If it fails, the aide said, “we’ll have to figure out what to do.”
Senate sources say Reid is scheduling the vote to prove to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) it can’t pass the upper chamber. Reid could then ask the House to accept the Senate version, which costs $58.8 billion and provides $33 billion for the troops.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Senate Republicans on Tuesday that if Congress didn’t approve the funds by month’s end, he could not pay the troops, according to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
But even before that spending showdown takes place, Senate Democrats have to address unemployment benefits and small-business legislation.
At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, Carte Goodwin will take the oath of office to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), giving Democrats control of 59 Senate seats. The Senate will move immediately to cut off a Republican filibuster of legislation to extend jobless benefits through November. The legislation will also extend, by three months, the filing deadline for the homebuyers tax credit, a proposal sponsored by Reid.
The initial deadline to claim the tax credit was June 30, but many homebuyers with contracts missed it because of a backlog in paperwork. The problem is especially acute in states with high foreclosure rates, such as Nevada.
Democratic leaders expect to have 60 votes to file cloture and advance the bill once Goodwin joins their caucus. Reid scheduled a vote on a similar measure before the July 4 recess. It fell one vote short after Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) voted for it.
Republicans could insist on using the full 30 hours of post-cloture time mandated by Senate rules if they want to wreck the Democrats’ carefully planned schedule. But Reid thinks he can work out an agreement with Republicans to move quickly to the small-business and supplemental bills.
“The Republican leader and I are working on a way to move forward on small business,” Reid told colleagues late last week. “I think we have a pretty good path of what we’re going to do on that. After we finish that, it’s my intention to move to the supplemental appropriations bill.”
Reid said he would need to file another motion to cut off a filibuster of the military spending bill, but added, “I think we can work out the time on that so it doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time.”
Time is of the essence, as Reid has pledged to begin the energy debate the week of July 26. That would give Democrats two weeks to pass energy reform and confirm Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan by the August recess, scheduled to begin Aug. 6.
The recess is scheduled to last five weeks, giving lawmakers facing tough reelections — including Reid — plenty of time to campaign. The House is scheduled to begin its recess on July 30.
Reid has warned that he may cut a week off the Senate recess if the legislative pace slows.
“As everyone knows here, we’re going to be here four or five weeks,” Reid told colleagues, referring to the work period that began on July 12. “The two leaders, Democrat and Republican, were betting on four weeks rather than five weeks, but we’ll need a little cooperation to get that done.”
July 19, 2010
My Way News
Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, top-secret intelligence gathering by the government has grown so unwieldy and expensive that no one really knows what it cost and how many people are involved, The Washington Post reported Monday.
A two-year investigation by the newspaper uncovered what it termed a “Top Secret America” that’s mostly hidden from public view and largely lacking in oversight.
In its first installment of a series of reports, the Post said there are now more than 1,200 government organizations and more than 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S.
Some 854,000 people – or nearly 1 1/2 times the number of people who live in Washington – have top-secret security clearance, the paper said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Post that he doesn’t believe the massive bureaucracy of government and private intelligence has grown too large to manage, but it is sometimes hard to get precise information.
“Nine years after 9/11, it makes sense to sort of take a look at this and say, ‘OK, we’ve built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?” he said.
The head of the CIA, Leon Panetta, said he knows that with the growing budget deficits the level of spending on intelligence will likely be reduced and he’s at work on a five-year plan for the agency.
The White House had been anticipating the Post report and said before it was published that the Obama administration came into office aware of the problems and is trying to fix them.
The administration also released a memo from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence listing what it called eight “myths” and intended as a point-by-point answer to the charges the Post series was expected to raise.
Among them was that contractors represent the bulk of the intelligence workforce. The memo put the number at 28 percent, or less than a third.
The memo said that 70 percent of the intelligence budget is spent on “contracts, not contractors.”
“Those contracts cover major acquisitions such as satellites and computer systems, as well as commercial activities such as rent, food service, and facilities maintenance and security,” the memo said.
The Post said its investigation also found that:
_In the area around Washington, 33 building complexes – totaling some 17 million square feet of space – for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since 9/11.
_Many intelligence agencies are doing the same work, wasting money and resources on redundancy.
_So many intelligence reports are published each year that many are routinely ignored.
“There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that – not just for the DNI, but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defense – is a challenge,” Gates told the Post.
March 22, 2010
US defence firm General Dynamics has won a contract to build a new light tank for the British army.
The firm, which plans to manufacture most of the new tank in the UK, beat rival bidder BAE Systems – where 500 jobs will now be lost.
The news is a blow for BAE’s factory in Newcastle, which was earmarked to build the company’s tank.
General Dynamics claims that the contract will safeguard or create 10,500 jobs in the UK.
The contract is reported to be worth £4bn ($6bn).
General Dynamics said its product was not only the best option, but was a patriotic choice too.
The programme is British to its bootstraps, delivering a military off-the-shelf vehicle with British design by British engineers to the British Army,” said Sandy Wilson, president and managing director of General Dynamics.
Welsh secretary Peter Hain said the deal would see 200 new jobs created at the company’s plant in Newbridge, south Wales.
A further 250 existing jobs will also be safeguarded at the plant, he said.
The new light tank is designed to replace the Scimitar scout vehicle, providing troops with more protection and firepower.
BAE had planned to build its contender at its Newcastle plant, protecting or creating 800 jobs in the region.
However following the tank decision 500 job losses, first announced last year, will now go ahead across England.
The firm had hoped to prevent the job losses if the new contract was secured.
The jobs will be lost at BAE sites in Newcastle, Leicester and Telford.
BAE has already announced the closure of its Telford and Leeds sites.
Announcing the tender decision, the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said replacing the older vehicles was “one of the highest equipment priorities for the Army”.
He said that General Dynamic’s bid had been favoured because it represented “value for money”.
He also said that the majority of manufacturing would take place in the UK, ensuring UK skills and capabilities in the armoured vehicle sector were retained.