Saturday, December 31, 2005

ABOUT, OIL, THE DOLLAR AND M3

A Story About Oil You NEED To Hear
Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 09:57:25 AM PDT
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Some news stories are screamed in 100 headlines in 100 different newspapers and media outlets. This one however is so quiet it's almost a whisper, yet it may be one of the biggest stories next year.
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It all begins here, with a blurb so tiny that I'll reprint the entire thing. From the Federal Reserve's website, November 10, 2005:
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On March 23, 2006, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System will cease publication of the M3 monetary aggregate. The Board will also cease publishing the following components: large-denomination time deposits, repurchase agreements (RPs), and Eurodollars. The Board will continue to publish institutional money market mutual funds as a memorandum item in this release.
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To fully understand how the "Federal Reserve" is neither federal nor a reserve of anything of value, see my full-length story here.
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But what is the M3? And how is it relevant?
The Fed collects data on how much money is in circulation, where it's being stored (as cash, as stocks, etc) and prints these statistics on a quarterly basis. These are the "M" series of reports.
M0 (M Zero) is simply how much physical American money is in circulation, both coins and bank notes. M1 is M0 plus all the money that's in a bank that someone could withdraw immediately (usually known as "checking" accounts). M2 is M1 plus other types of accounts, including money markets and smaller CDs (under $100,000).
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M3, the one that will no longer be printed, is M2 plus Eurodollars. While Eurodollars sounds like plastic money used at EuroDisney, it actually refers to dollars being held in non-American banks (originally most dollars held overseas were in European banks, but "eurodollars" could just as easily be held in China).
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I for instance have some "eurodollars" since I live in Romania and have a few bucks in the local bank. But 99% of American money being held outside its borders are actually under the control of central banks and large institutions.
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Why does this matter? Why would keeping track of how many dollars are being held overseas matter to anyone except perhaps some bankers?
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The answer has to do with oil. Texas tea. Black gold. The stuff which wars are fought over, and alliances made to crush human rights in order to obtain a steady supply of it.
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While oil can be drilled and refined and transported anywhere, there's only two places where it can be officially purchased. One is in New York City on the NYMEX stock exchange and the other in London on the IPE exchange. I should mention that London's IPE is actually now owned by an American country named "ICE".
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This doesn't mean that oil actually has to be transferred from say, Saudi Arabia, to New York where it sits in a real barrel until it's sold to a customer in Japan. What it does mean however is that oil is traded like any commodity, via these two (and ONLY these two) stock exchanges. There are also "futures" or promises of future oil deliveries sold and traded as well.
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So the customer in Japan, perhaps a large oil refinery company, buys the oil "shares" via one of the two exchanges from one of the oil owners, a company such as ExxonMobil or Saudi Arabia's ARAMCO. And while the oil itself never actually gets to London or New York, all the money involved flows through those two cities. And every single barrel of oil is bought and sold in American dollars.
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This means that every single country which wishes to buy oil has to own dollars to do it. Since these dollars are held overseas, they are referred to as Eurodollars, although once again they don't have to be in Europe. A dollar in China is a dollar in America too - they aren't valued any differently.
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The world sells and buys billions of barrels of oil per day, and every single one of those billions is in the form of an American dollar. The effect of this is that every single country in the world which holds large reserves of dollars (for the purpose of buying oil) is essentially propping up the American economy on a huge scale.
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If you read my full-length article on the dollar, you will know it's not worth anything of intrinsic value. It isn't backed by gold, or even by the American government. It's simply a piece of paper (or blip on a screen) that everyone "believes" has worth. So a country like Saudi Arabia ends up selling their tangible resource (oil) in exchange for billions of pieces of green paper (dollars).
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Those little pieces of green paper, in order to make them worth anything, must then be traded for something of value. That could be anything from food to cars to high-tech weaponry.
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Think of it this way. Imagine that the world was one very large casino. Players could trade in oil or food or electronic equipment for chips that are manufactured and designed by the casino itself. The chips aren't worth anything by themselves, as they're just painted pieces of plastic. But for any player to cash out, they need to redeem the chips for tangible goods made by the casino, at the rate that the casino sets. If you swap "casino chips" for "dollars", that's a pretty good way to understand how the system works.
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Another way to think of it is that every drop of oil is worth a portion of a dollar, meaning oil is dollars and vice versa. Which means that all the vast wealth that is oil is in effect, also adding that wealth to the United States.
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So back to the Fed and their decision to stop reporting the holdings of dollars overseas. Why does that matter?
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There is a lot of speculation out there, but one good guess is that Spring 2006 is when Iran's oil bourse will debut.
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I wrote an entire article about it which you can find here but here is an excerpt:
Iran is a member of OPEC, which currently restricts all foreign sales to the American dollar. So is there any way for Iran to start selling its oil without having to resort to the currency of its foe?
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The answer is close to completion and yet I've seen almost no mention of it in the American mainstream media. If it wasn't for the trade journals, I'd never even have heard of what Iran has planned.
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In June 2004, Iran announced it was creating an oil bourse. The word "bourse" is a French word which means "exchange" and refers to an international market exchange where oil can be traded. Currently the only two oil bourses are in London and New York.
Should Iran's oil bourse be successful and sales be denominated in Euros, this will induce hedging of the Euro versus the dollar and fundamentally alter the prices of oil. Some reports show that both China and Russia, large trading partners with Iran, have begun to increasing their holdings of Euros.
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Iran had originally scheduled to open its bourse (or stock exchange where oil could be sold and bought in Euros) in 2005. That obviously hasn't happened, but now the date is set for Spring 2006. Exactly when the Fed says it will stop printing statistics of how many dollars are in existance overseas. In fact, just this week the Iranian government has issued preliminary licenses to trade on that bourse.
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What's not well known is that Saddam Hussein decided to switch from selling Iraq's oil in dollars to Euros in November 2000. This was not widely reported. At the time, Iraq's oil sales were limited and were under UN supervision (as part of the "Oil for Food" program) so the sale in Euros did not have a major impact.
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According to the Ithaca News, one of the top 10 stories that the press should've reported in 2005 but didn't was Iran's oil bourse:
"The Bush administration has been paying a lot more attention to Iran recently. Part of that interest is clearly Iran's nuclear program - but there may be more to the story. One bit of news that hasn't received the public vetting it merits is Iran's declared intent to open an international oil exchange market, or "bourse."
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Not only would the new entity compete against the New York Mercantile Exchange and London's International Petroleum Exchange (both owned by American corporations), but it would also ignite international oil trading in euros.
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"A shift away from U.S. dollars to euros in the oil market would cause the demand for petrodollars to drop, perhaps causing the value of the dollar to plummet," Brian Miller and Celeste Vogler of Project Censored wrote in Censored 2006.
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"Russia, Venezuela, and some members of OPEC have expressed interest in moving towards a petroeuro system," he said. And it isn't entirely implausible that China, which is "the world's second largest holder of U.S. currency reserves," might eventually follow suit.
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"Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran's euro-dominated oil bourse will open in March, 2006," Miller and Vogler continued. "Logically, the most appropriate US strategy is compromise with the EU and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades."
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I'm not enough of an economist to be able to predict the impact on the removal of the dollar as the sole currency for the purchase of oil, but there are plenty of experts who predict some pretty scary things, the least of which is a massive destabilization of the American economy.
What's interesting is that plenty of people will tell you that Iran's bourse is of no threat, and not even financially viable. This however reminds me of a Radio Free Europe story on Saddam Hussein's move back in 2000:
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Iraq is going ahead with its plans to stop using the U.S. dollar in its oil business in spite of warnings the move makes no financial sense.
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Baghdad this week insisted on and received UN approval to sell oil through the oil-for-food program for euros only after 6 November. Iraq had threatened to suspend all oil exports -- about 5 percent of the world's total -- if the body turned down the request.
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The move comes despite repeated cautions that Baghdad's departure from the oil industry standard of the dollar will cost the country millions in currency conversion fees. UN officials have said Iraq will have to reduce the price of its crude oil by about 10 cents a barrel in order to compensate buyers for the additional costs.
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But Saddam Hussein profited handsomely on the conversion, especially because the Euro rose approximately 17% in value. The Euro, which at the time was 82 cents to the dollar, is now worth about $1.25 and could easily rise if its value becomes connected to oil on a large scale.
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As I've written about extensively, there are plenty of reasons for the Iranian and American government to be at loggerheads. They certainly represent wildly different political ambitions and they will clash for a number of different reasons, not solely due to the threat of selling oil for euros.
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That being said, it does seem ominous that the Fed wants to stop printing the statistics of how many dollars are being held overseas precisely when those amounts may go down dramatically. So far this story has been restricted to a few financial websites and "tinfoil hat" locations but definitely needs to be brought into the mainstream so it can be analyzed and debated.
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For a more financially-based interpretation of the Fed's ending of the M3, see here, including this:
M3 is very important. Indeed of the Fed's monetary numbers only M3 was of major importance and in other G7 countries we also focus on M3 including our own Bank of Canada. No word that they intend to follow. So why are they dropping M3? Well we have seen nothing to tell us why we only know they are doing it. Oh it's not that the numbers will completely disappear. For those that wish to take the time they can pore through the Flow of Funds accounts (released quarterly as Z.1 release and the H.8 bulletin released weekly for commercial banks) and piece together the former M3. Painstaking, but that is not the way it is supposed to be. European Central Bankers put great stead in M3 so why has the Fed after all these years decided to cease publication?
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Some of the reasons we have seen floated around are as follows:
History has shown that only failing economies e.g. Soviet Union keep data secret (Financial Sense - Toni Straka - Unpleasant M3 Trend, November 12, 2005). An interesting premise and a theme we saw woven amongst a number of writers is that they have something to hide. The claim is that the Fed should be transparent and by not publishing the number the Fed now lacks transparency.
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The end of publishing of M3 in March 2006 coincides with the start of the Iranian Oil Bourse. The premise here is that the with the oil bourse trading in Euros there will be a rush out of US$ into Euros and that M3 could drop sharply. A sharp drop in M3 would of course presage a recession as falling M3 is a characteristic of weak economic periods.
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M3 is a measure of inflation in the economy. A somewhat unproven rule of thumb is GDP + inflation = M3. Will be able to properly measure inflation going forward if we don't know what M3 really is.
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We are about to enter a period of hyperinflation and by eliminating M3 we will not know how much liquidity the Fed is pumping into the system. Remember the Fed doesn't really print money it is the banking system that expands money supply. But the Fed influences it through open market operations. We will have to watch daily Fed repo action very carefully irrespective of whether they are going to publish Repos (RPs) as noted in the bulletin above. The Fed doing repos puts money into the system and the Fed doing reverse repos takes money out of the system. Of course as well this is the exact opposite of the collapse in M3 premised with the oil bourse above.
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Further on the theme above a period of hyperinflation would occur as the Fed tries to save us from a collapsing housing market and softer consumer demand. The Fed adds more and more liquidity to the system to stave off a sharp economic decline. By not publishing Repos (RPs) as noticed in their bulletin above the Fed again is hiding what they do on a day to day basis. This will make it difficult for both currency traders and equity traders to know what the Fed is up to.
The conclusion is that the Federal Reserve will be hiding a debasement of the US$.
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All of the above are quite troubling. And that's not the words of any kook, but from an experienced industry insider.
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The U.S. has certainly interfered in Iranian politics before, overthrowing an elected government and installing a dictator, all in the name of oil. And it certainly has been making lots of rumbling noises about removing the government. From this week:
Bill Frist, the leader of the Republican majority in the US Senate, has called for action against Iran before it is too late.
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Of course most of the saber-rattling is over Iran's nuclear program and the word "bourse" is never mentioned. But the IAEA has consistently stated that Iran is in full compliance with its regulations and the conditions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That doesn't negate Iran's political alignment and support for terrorism, but their nuclear energy program is hardly the threat it's made out to be.
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Only time will tell whether regime change is in the cards for Iran, especially at the hands of the United States. But the Fed's quiet decision to no longer print the M3 is definitely quite ominous.
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This is cross-posted from Flogging the Simian
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New York Times: All the News--"PRINT TO FIT" [the interests of monopoly capital]

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004 Online Exclusive...
Fatal Error: Lies of The Times, Their Lies Took Lives ;Listen to
By Amy Goodman and David Goodman
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In our new book, The Exception To the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media That Love Them, we titled one chapter "The Lies of Our Times" to examine how The New York Times coverage on Iraq and its alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction helped lead the country to war. Today, The New York Times, for the first time, raised questions about its own coverage in an 1,100-word editor's note. Here is an excerpt from our section of the book on the New York Times and Iraq.
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"From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." -- Andrew H. Card, White House Chief of Staff speaking about the Iraq war P.R. campaign, September 6, 2002
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In the midst of the buildup to war, a major scandal was unfolding at The New York Times-the paper that sets the news agenda for other media. The Times admitted that for several years a 27-year-old reporter named Jayson Blair had been conning his editors and falsifying stories. He had pretended to be places he hadn't been, fabricated quotes, and just plain lied in order to tell a sensational tale. For this, Blair was fired. But The Times went further: It ran a 7,000-word, five-page expose on the young reporter, laying bare his personal and professional escapades.
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The Times said it had reached a low point in its 152-year history. I agreed. But not because of the Jayson Blair affair. It was The Times coverage of the Bush-Blair affair.
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When George W. Bush and Tony Blair made their fraudulent case to attack Iraq, The Times, along with most corporate media outlets in the United States, became cheerleaders for the war. And while Jayson Blair was being crucified for his journalistic sins, veteran Times national security correspondent and best-selling author Judith Miller was filling The Times' front pages with unchallenged government propaganda. Unlike Blair's deceptions, Miller's lies provided the pretext for war. Her lies cost lives.
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If only The New York Times had done the same kind of investigation of Miller's reports as it had with Jayson Blair.
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The White House propaganda blitz was launched on September 7, 2002, at a Camp David press conference. British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood side by side with his co-conspirator, President George W. Bush. Together, they declared that evidence from a report published by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) showed that Iraq was "six months away" from building nuclear weapons.
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"I don't know what more evidence we need," crowed Bush.
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Actually, any evidence would help-there was no such IAEA report. But at the time, few mainstream American journalists questioned the leaders' outright lies. Instead, the following day, "evidence" popped up in the Sunday New York Times under the twin byline of Michael Gordon and Judith Miller. "More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction," they stated with authority, "Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today."
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In a revealing example of how the story amplified administration spin, the authors included the phrase soon to be repeated by President Bush and all his top officials: "The first sign of a 'smoking gun,' [administration officials] argue, may be a mushroom cloud."
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Harper's publisher John R. MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, knew what to make of this front-page bombshell. "In a disgraceful piece of stenography," he wrote, Gordon and Miller "inflated an administration leak into something resembling imminent Armageddon."
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The Bush administration knew just what to do with the story they had fed to Gordon and Miller. The day The Times story ran, Vice President Dick Cheney made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to advance the administration's bogus claims. On NBC's Meet the Press, Cheney declared that Iraq had purchased aluminum tubes to make enriched uranium. It didn't matter that the IAEA refuted the charge both before and after it was made. But Cheney didn't want viewers just to take his word for it. "There's a story in The New York Times this morning," he said smugly. "And I want to attribute The Times."
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This was the classic disinformation two-step: the White House leaks a lie to The Times, the newspaper publishes it as a startling expose, and then the White House conveniently masquerades behind the credibility of The Times.
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"What mattered," wrote MacArthur, "was the unencumbered rollout of a commercial for war."4
Judith Miller was just getting warmed up. Reporting for America's most influential newspaper, Miller continued to trumpet administration leaks and other bogus sources as the basis for eye-popping stories that backed the administration's false premises for war. "If reporters who live by their sources were obliged to die by their sources," Jack Shafer wrote later in Slate, "Miller would be stinking up her family tomb right now."
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After the war, Shafer pointed out, "None of the sensational allegations about chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons given to Miller have panned out, despite the furious crisscrossing of Iraq by U.S. weapons hunters."
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Did The New York Times publish corrections? Clarifications? Did heads roll? Not a chance: Judith Miller's "scoops" continued to be proudly run on the front pages.
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Here are just some of the corrections The Times should have run after the year-long campaign of front-page false claims by one of its premier reporters, Judith Miller.
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FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
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Scoop: "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts,"
by Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon, September 8, 2002.
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The authors quote Ahmed al-Shemri (a pseudonym), who contends that he worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program before defecting in 2000. " 'All of Iraq is one large storage facility,' said Mr. Shemri, who claimed to have worked for many years at the Muthanna State Enterprise, once Iraq's chemical weapons plant." The authors quote Shemri as stating that Iraq is stockpiling "12,500 gallons of anthrax, 2,500 gallons of gas gangrene, 1,250 gallons of aflatoxin, and 2,000 gallons of botulinum throughout the country."
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Oops: As UN weapons inspectors had earlier stated-and U.S. weapons inspectors confirmed in September 2003-none of these claims were true. The unnamed source is one of many Iraqi defectors who made sensational false claims that were championed by Miller and The Times.
Scoop: "White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons," by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, September 13, 2002. The article quotes the White House contention that Iraq was trying to purchase aluminum pipes to assist its nuclear weapons program.
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Oops: Rather than run a major story on how the United States had falsely cited the UN to back its claim that Iraq was expanding its nuclear weapons program, Miller and Gordon repeated and embellished the lie.
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Contrast this with the lead paragraph of a story that ran in the British daily The Guardian on September 9: "The International Atomic Energy Agency has no evidence that Iraq is developing nuclear weapons at a former site previously destroyed by UN inspectors, despite claims made over the weekend by Tony Blair, western diplomatic sources told The Guardian yesterday." The story goes on to say that the IAEA "issued a statement insisting it had 'no new information' on Iraq's nuclear program since December 1998 when its inspectors left Iraq."
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Miller's trumped-up story contributed to the climate of the time and The Times. A month later, numerous congressional representatives cited the nuclear threat as a reason for voting to authorize war.
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Scoop: "U.S. Faulted Over Its Efforts to Unite Iraqi Dissidents," by Judith Miller, October 2, 2002. Quoting Ahmed Chalabi and Defense Department adviser Richard Perle, this story stated: "The INC [Iraqi National Congress] has been without question the single most important source of intelligence about Saddam Hussein."
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Miller airs the INC's chief complaint: "Iraqi dissidents and administration officials complain that [the State Department and CIA] have also tried to cast doubt on information provided by defectors Mr. Chalabi's organization has brought out of Iraq."
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Oops: Miller championed the cause of Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader who had been lobbying Washington for over a decade to support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. As The Washington Post revealed, Miller wrote to Times veteran foreign correspondent John Burns, who was working in Baghdad at the time, that Chalabi "has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD [weapons of mass destruction] to our paper."
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Times readers might be interested to learn the details of how Ahmed Chalabi was bought and paid for by the CIA. Chalabi heads the INC, an organization of Iraqi exiles created by the CIA in 1992 with the help of the Rendon Group, a powerful public relations firm that has worked extensively for the two Bush administrations. Between 1992 and 1996, the CIA covertly funneled $12 million to Chalabi's INC. In 1998, the Clinton administration gave Chalabi control of another $98 million of U.S. taxpayer money. Chalabi's credibility has always been questionable: He was convicted in absentia in Jordan of stealing some $500 million from a bank he established, leaving shareholders high and dry. He has been accused by Iraqi exiles of pocketing at least $4 million of CIA funds.
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In the lead-up to war, the CIA dismissed Chalabi as unreliable. But he was the darling of Pentagon hawks, putting an Iraqi face on their warmongering. So the Pentagon established a new entity, the Office of Special Plans, to champion the views of discredited INC defectors who helped make its case for war.
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As Howard Kurtz later asked in The Washington Post: "Could Chalabi have been using The Times to build a drumbeat that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction?"
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Scoop: "C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox," by Judith Miller, December 3, 2002. The story claims that "Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from a Russian scientist." The story adds later: "The information came to the American government from an informant whose identity has not been disclosed."
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Smallpox was cited by President Bush as one of the "weapons of mass destruction" possessed by Iraq that justified a dangerous national inoculation program-and an invasion.
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Oops: After a three-month search of Iraq, " 'Team Pox' turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled equipment that had been rendered harmless by UN inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave no indication they had worked with smallpox, and a laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered in cobwebs," reported the Associated Press in September 2003.
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Scoop: "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert," by Judith Miller, April 21, 2003.
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In this front-page article, Miller quotes an American military officer who passes on the assertions of "a man who said he was an Iraqi scientist" in U.S. custody. The "scientist" claims that Iraq destroyed its WMD stockpile days before the war began, that the regime had transferred banned weapons to Syria, and that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda.
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Who is the messenger for this bombshell? Miller tells us only that she "was permitted to see him from a distance at the sites where he said that material from the arms program was buried. Clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were buried."
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And then there were the terms of this disclosure: "This reporter was not permitted to interview the scientist or visit his home. Nor was she permitted to write about the discovery of the scientist for three days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by military officials. Those officials asked that details of what chemicals were uncovered be deleted." No proof. No names. No chemicals. Only a baseball cap-and the credibility of Miller and The Times-to vouch for a "scientist" who conveniently backs up key claims of the Bush administration. Miller, who was embedded with MET Alpha, a military unit searching for WMDs, pumped up her sensational assertions the next day on PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:
Q: Has the unit you've been traveling with found any proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
JUDITH MILLER: Well, I think they found something more than a smoking gun. What they've found...is a silver bullet in the form of a person, an Iraqi individual, a scientist, as we've called him, who really worked on the programs, who knows them firsthand.
Q: Does this confirm in a way the insistence coming from the U.S. government that after the war, various Iraqi tongues would loosen, and there might be people who would be willing to help?
JUDITH MILLER: Yes, it clearly does.... That's what the Bush administration has finally done. They have changed the political environment, and they've enabled people like the scientists that MET Alpha has found to come forth.
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Oops: The silver bullet got more tarnished as it was examined. Three months later, Miller acknowledged that the scientist was merely "a senior Iraqi military intelligence official." His explosive claims vaporized.
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A final note from the Department of Corrections: The Times deeply regrets any wars or loss of life that these errors may have contributed to.
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UP IN SMOKE
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Tom Wolfe once wrote about a war-happy Times correspondent in Vietnam (same idea, different war): The administration was "playing [the reporter] of The New York Times like an ocarina, as if they were blowing smoke up his pipe and the finger work was just right and the song was coming forth better than they could have played it themselves." But who was playing whom? The Washington Post reported that while Miller was embedded with MET Alpha, her role in the unit's operations became so central that it became known as the "Judith Miller team." In one instance, she disagreed with a decision to relocate the unit to another area and threatened to file a critical report in The Times about the action. When she took her protest to a two-star general, the decision was reversed. One Army officer told the Post, "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to The New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat."
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Later, she played a starring role in a ceremony in which MET Alpha's leader was promoted. Other officers were surprised to watch as Miller pinned a new rank on the uniform of Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzales. He thanked her for her "contributions" to the unit. In April 2003, MET Alpha traveled to the compound of Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi "at Judy's direction," where they interrogated and took custody of an Iraqi man who was on the Pentagon's wanted list-despite the fact that MET Alpha's only role was to search for WMDs. As one officer told the Post, "It's impossible to exaggerate the impact she had on the mission of this unit, and not for the better."
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After a year of bogus scoops from Miller, the paper gave itself a bit of cover. Not corrections-just cover. On September 28, 2003, Times reporter Douglas Jehl surprisingly kicked the legs out from under Miller's sources. In his story headlined AGENCY BELITTLES INFORMATION GIVEN BY IRAQ DEFECTORS, Jehl revealed:
An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement. In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said.
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The Iraqi National Congress had made some of these defectors available to...The New York Times, which reported their allegations about prisoners and the country's weapons program.Poof. Up in smoke went thousands of words of what can only be called rank propaganda.
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This Times confession was too little, too late. After an unnecessary war, during a brutal occupation, and several thousand lives later, The Times obliquely acknowledged that it had been recycling disinformation. Miller's reports played an invaluable role in the administration's propaganda war. They gave public legitimacy to outright lies, providing what appeared to be independent confirmation of wild speculation and false accusations. "What Miller has done over time seriously violates several Times' policies under their code of conduct for news and editorial departments," wrote William E. Jackson in Editor & Publisher. "Jayson Blair was only a fluke deviation.... Miller strikes right at the core of the regular functioning news machine."
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More than that, Miller's false reporting was key to justifying a war. And The Times' unabashed servitude to the administration's war agenda did not end with Iraq.
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On September 16, 2003, The Times ran a story headlined SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL TO LEVEL WEAPONS CHARGES AGAINST SYRIA. The stunningly uncritical article was virtually an excerpt of the testimony about to be given that day by outspoken hawk John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control. The article included this curious caveat: The testimony "was provided to The New York Times by individuals who feel that the accusations against Syria have received insufficient attention." The article certainly solved that problem.
The author? Judith Miller-preparing for the next battlefront.
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NY Times, January 1, 2006

The Public Editor Behind the Eavesdropping Story, a Loud Silence

By BYRON CALAMETHE

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New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency.

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.

Despite this stonewalling, my objectives today are to assess the flawed handling of the original explanation of the article's path into print, and to offer a few thoughts on some factors that could have affected the timing of the article. My intention is to do so with special care, because my 40-plus years of newspapering leave me keenly aware that some of the toughest calls an editor can face are involved here - those related to intelligence gathering, election-time investigative articles and protection of sources. On these matters, reasonable disagreements can abound inside the newsroom.(A word about my reporting for this column: With the top Times people involved in the final decisions refusing to talk and urging everyone else to remain silent, it seemed clear to me that chasing various editors and reporters probably would yield mostly anonymous comments that the ultimate decision-makers would not confirm or deny. So I decided not to pursue those who were not involved in the final decision to publish the article - or to refer to Times insiders quoted anonymously in others' reporting.)

At the outset, it's essential to acknowledge the far-reaching importance of the eavesdropping article's content to Times readers and to the rest of the nation. Whatever its path to publication, Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller deserve credit for its eventual appearance in the face of strong White House pressure to kill it. And the basic accuracy of the account of the eavesdropping stands unchallenged - a testament to the talent in the trenches.

But the explanation of the timing and editing of the front-page article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau caused major concern for scores of Times readers. The terse one-paragraph explanation noted that the White House had asked for the article to be killed. "After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting," it said. "Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted."

If Times editors hoped the brief mention of the one-year delay and the omitted sensitive information would assure readers that great caution had been exercised in publishing the article, I think they miscalculated. The mention of a one-year delay, almost in passing, cried out for a fuller explanation. And the gaps left by the explanation hardly matched the paper's recent bold commitments to readers to explain how news decisions are made.

At the very least, The Times should have told readers in the article why it could not address specific issues. At least some realization of this kicked in rather quickly after publication. When queried by reporters for other news media on Dec. 16, Mr. Keller offered two prepared statements that shed some additional light on the timing and handling of the article. The longer of Mr. Keller's two prepared statements said the paper initially held the story based on national security considerations and assurances that everyone in government believed the expanded eavesdropping was legal. But when further reporting showed that legal questions loomed larger than The Times first thought and that a story could be written without certain genuinely sensitive technical details, he said, the paper decided to publish. (Mr. Keller's two prepared statements, as well as some thoughtful reader comments, are posted on the Public Editor's Web Journal.)

Times readers would have benefited if the explanation in the original article had simply been expanded to include the points Mr. Keller made after publication. And if the length of that proved too clunky for inclusion in the article, the explanation could have been published as a separate article near the main one. Even the sentence he provided me as to why he would not answer my questions offered some possible insight.

Protection of sources is the most plausible reason I've been able to identify for The Times's woeful explanation in the article and for the silence of Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller. I base this on Mr. Keller's response to me: "There is really no way to have a full discussion of the back story without talking about when and how we knew what we knew, and we can't do that."Taken at face value, Mr. Keller seems to be contending that the sourcing for the eavesdropping article is so intertwined with the decisions about when and what to publish that a full explanation could risk revealing the sources. I have no trouble accepting the importance of confidential sourcing concerns here. The reporters' nearly one dozen confidential sources enabled them to produce a powerful article that I think served the public interest.

With confidential sourcing under attack and the reporters digging in the backyards of both intelligence and politics, The Times needs to guard the sources for the eavesdropping article with extra special care. Telling readers the time that the reporters got one specific fact, for instance, could turn out to be a dangling thread of information that the White House or the Justice Department could tug at until it leads them to the source. Indeed, word came Friday that the Justice Department has opened an investigation into the disclosure of classified information about the eavesdropping.

The most obvious and troublesome omission in the explanation was the failure to address whether The Times knew about the eavesdropping operation before the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election. That point was hard to ignore when the explanation in the article referred rather vaguely to having "delayed publication for a year." To me, this language means the article was fully confirmed and ready to publish a year ago - after perhaps weeks of reporting on the initial tip - and then was delayed.

Mr. Keller dealt directly with the timing of the initial tip in his later statements. The eavesdropping information "first became known to Times reporters" a year ago, he said. These two different descriptions of the article's status in the general vicinity of Election Day last year leave me puzzled.

For me, however, the most obvious question is still this: If no one at The Times was aware of the eavesdropping prior to the election, why wouldn't the paper have been eager to make that clear to readers in the original explanation and avoid that politically charged issue? The paper's silence leaves me with uncomfortable doubts.

On the larger question of why the eavesdropping article finally appeared when it did, a couple of possibilities intrigue me. One is that Times editors said they discovered there was more concern inside the government about the eavesdropping than they had initially been told. Mr. Keller's prepared statements said that "a year ago," officials "assured senior editors of The Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions." So the paper "agreed not to publish at that time" and continued reporting. But in the months that followed, Mr. Keller said, "we developed a fuller picture of the concerns and misgivings that had been expressed during the life of the program" and "it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood."

The impact of a new book about intelligence by Mr. Risen on the timing of the article is difficult to gauge. The book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," was not mentioned in the Dec. 16 article. Mr. Keller asserted in the shorter of his two statements that the article wasn't timed to the forthcoming book, and that "its origins and publication are completely independent of Jim's book."The publication of Mr. Risen's book, with its discussion of the eavesdropping operation, was scheduled for mid-January - but has now been moved up to Tuesday. Despite Mr. Keller's distancing of The Times from "State of War," Mr. Risen's publisher told me on Dec. 21 that the paper's Washington bureau chief had talked to her twice in the previous 30 days about the book.

So it seems to me the paper was quite aware that it faced the possibility of being scooped by its own reporter's book in about four weeks. But the key question remains: To what extent did the book cause top editors to shrug off the concerns that had kept them from publishing the eavesdropping article for months?

A final note: If Mr. Risen's book or anything else of substance should open any cracks in the stone wall surrounding the handling of the eavesdropping article, I will have my list of 28 questions (35 now, actually) ready to e-mail again to Mr. Keller.

The public editor serves as the readers' representative. His opinions and conclusions are his own. His column appears at least twice monthly in this section.

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BUSH AND NIXON

Commander-In-Thief
John W. Dean:
'George W. Bush as the new Richard M. Nixon: Both wiretapped illegally, and impeachably'
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Both Claimed That a President May Violate Congress' Laws to Protect National Security
John W. Dean, FindLaw
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On Friday, December 16, the New York Times published a major scoop by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau: They reported that Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans without warrants, ignoring the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
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It was a long story loaded with astonishing information of lawbreaking at the White House. It reported that sometime in 2002, Bush issued an executive order authorizing NSA to track and intercept international telephone and/or email exchanges coming into, or out of, the U.S. - when one party was believed to have direct or indirect ties with al Qaeda. Initially, Bush and the White House stonewalled, neither confirming nor denying the president had ignored the law. Bush refused to discuss it in his interview with Jim Lehrer.
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Then, on Saturday, December 17, in his radio broadcast, Bush admitted that the New York Times was correct - and thus conceded he had committed an impeachable offense. There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons. These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this Administration and the Nixon Administration - parallels I also discussed in a prior column. Indeed, here, Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope.
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First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows. In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance. Given the national security implications of the story, the Times said they had been sitting on it for a year. And now that it has broken, Bush has ordered a criminal investigation into the source of the leak. He suggests that those who might have felt confidence they would not be spied on, now can have no such confidence, so they may find other methods of communicating. Other than encryption and code, it is difficult to envision how. Such a criminal investigation is rather ironic - for the leak's effect was to reveal Bush's own offense. Having been ferreted out as a criminal, Bush now will try to ferret out the leakers who revealed him.
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Nixon's Wiretapping - and the Congressional Action that Followed
Through the FBI, Nixon had wiretapped five members of his national security staff, two newsmen, and a staffer at the Department of Defense. These people were targeted because Nixon's plans for dealing with Vietnam -- we were at war at the time -- were ending up on the front page of the New York Times. Nixon had a plausible national security justification for the wiretaps: To stop the leaks, which had meant that not only the public, but America's enemies, were privy to its plans. But the use of the information from the wiretaps went far beyond that justification: A few juicy tidbits were used for political purposes. Accordingly, Congress believed the wiretapping, combined with the misuse of the information it had gathered, to be an impeachable offense.
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Following Nixon's resignation, Senator Frank Church chaired a committee that investigated the uses and abuses of the intelligence derived from the wiretaps. From his report on electronic surveillance, emerged the proposal to create the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Act both set limits on electronic surveillance, and created a secret court within the Department of Justice - the FISA Court -- that could, within these limits, grant law enforcement's requests to engage in electronic surveillance. The legislative history of FISA makes it very clear that Congress sought to create laws to govern the uses of warrantless wiretaps.
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Thus, Bush's authorization of wiretapping without any application to the FISA Court violated the law. Whether to Allow Such Wiretaps, Was Congress' Call to Make No one questions the ends here. No one doubts another terror attack is coming; it is only a question of when. No one questions the preeminent importance of detecting and preventing such an attack. What is at issue here, instead, is Bush's means of achieving his ends: his decision not only to bypass Congress, but to violate the law it had already established in this area.
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Congress is Republican-controlled. Polling shows that a large majority of Americans are willing to give up their civil liberties to prevent another terror attack. The USA Patriot Act passed with overwhelming support. So why didn't the President simply ask Congress for the authority he thought he needed? The answer seems to be, quite simply, that Vice President Dick Cheney has never recovered from being President Ford's chief of staff when Congress placed checks on the presidency. And Cheney wanted to make the point that he thought it was within a president's power to ignore Congress' laws relating to the exercise of executive power.
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Bush has gone along with all such Cheney plans. No president before Bush has taken as aggressive a posture -- the position that his powers as commander-in-chief, under Article II of the Constitution, license any action he may take in the name of national security - although Richard Nixon, my former boss, took a similar position.
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Presidential Powers Regarding National Security:
A Nixonian View Nixon famously claimed, after resigning from office, that when the president undertook an action in the name of national security, even if he broke the law, it was not illegal. Nixon's thinking (and he was learned in the law) relied on the precedent established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Nixon, quoting Lincoln, said in an interview, "Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation." David Frost, the interviewer, immediately countered by pointing out that the anti-war demonstrators upon whom Nixon focused illegal surveillance, were hardly the equivalent of the rebel South. Nixon responded, "This nation was torn apart in an ideological way by the war in Vietnam, as much as the Civil War tore apart the nation when Lincoln was president."
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It was a weak rejoinder, but the best he had. Nixon took the same stance when he responded to interrogatories proffered by the Senate Select Committee on Government Operations To Study Intelligence Operations (best known as the "Church Committee," after its chairman Senator Frank Church). In particular, he told the committee, "In 1969, during my Administration, warrantless wiretapping, even by the government, was unlawful, but if undertaken because of a presidential determination that it was in the interest of national security was lawful. Support for the legality of such action is found, for example, in the concurring opinion of Justice White in Katz v. United States." (Katz is the opinion that established that a wiretap constitutes a "search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, just as surely as a search of one's living room does - and thus that the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements apply to wiretapping.)
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Nixon rather presciently anticipated - and provided a rationalization for - Bush: He wrote, "there have been -- and will be in the future -- circumstances in which presidents may lawfully authorize actions in the interest of security of this country, which if undertaken by other persons, even by the president under different circumstances, would be illegal." Even if we accept Nixon's logic for purposes of argument, were the circumstances that faced Bush the kind of "circumstances" that justify warrantless wiretapping? I believe the answer is no. Is Bush's Unauthorized Surveillance Action Justified? Not Persuasively.
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Had Bush issued his Executive Order on September 12, 2001, as a temporary measure - pending his seeking Congress approval - those circumstances might have supported his call. Or, had a particularly serious threat of attack compelled Bush to authorize warrantless wiretapping in a particular investigation, before he had time to go to Congress, that too might have been justifiable. But several years have passed since the broad 2002 Executive Order, and in all that time, Bush has refused to seek legal authority for his action. Yet he can hardly miss the fact that Congress has clearly set rules for presidents in the very situation in which he insists on defying the law.
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Bush has given one legal explanation for his actions which borders on the laughable: He claims that implicit in Congress' authorization of his use of force against the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attack, was an exemption from FISA. No sane member of Congress believes that the Authorization of Military Force provided such an authorization. No first year law student would mistakenly make such a claim. It is not merely a stretch; it is ludicrous.
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But the core of Bush's defense is to rely on the very argument made by Nixon: that the president is merely exercising his "commander-in-chief" power under Article II of the Constitution. This, too, is a dubious argument. Its author, John Yoo, is a bright, but inexperienced and highly partisan young professor at Boalt Law School, who has been in and out of government service. To see the holes and fallacies in Yoo's work - embodied in a recently published book -- one need only consult the analysis of Georgetown University School of Law professor David Cole in the New York Review of Books. Cole has been plowing this field of the law for many years, and digs much deeper than Yoo.
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Since I find Professor Yoo's legal thinking bordering on fantasy, I was delighted that Professor Cole closed his real-world analysis on a very realistic note: "Michael Ignatieff has written that 'it is the very nature of a democracy that it not only does, but should, fight with one hand tied behind its back. It is also in the nature of democracy that it prevails against its enemies precisely because it does.' Yoo persuaded the Bush administration to untie its hand and abandon the constraints of the rule of law. Perhaps that is why we are not prevailing." To which I can only add, and recommend, the troubling report by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, who are experts in terrorism and former members of President Clinton's National Security Council. They write in their new book The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right, that the Bush Administration has utterly failed to close the venerable loopholes available to terrorist to wreak havoc.
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The war in Iraq is not addressing terrorism; rather, it is creating terrorists, and diverting money from the protection of American interests. Bush's unauthorized surveillance, in particular, seems very likely to be ineffective. According to experts with whom I have spoken, Bush's approach is like hunting for the proverbial needle in the haystack. As sophisticated as NSA's data mining equipment may be, it cannot, for example, crack codes it does not recognize. So the terrorist communicating in code may escape detection, even if data mining does reach him.
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In short, Bush is hoping to get lucky. Such a gamble seems a slim pretext for acting in such blatant violation of Congress' law. In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked - in his and his attorneys' view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when - if ever - will we - and Congress -- discover that he is using them?
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John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former counsel to the president.
Copyright 2005 FindLawSource: FindLawhttp://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20051230.html
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Bloggers and radio hosts: Don't be shy -- tell your readers/audience you saw it on Smirking Chimp!
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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tall Tale Revealed?; Or, Perhaps, Another "Poison Pill"?

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tall_tale_revealed?
PF Boston Globe December 24, 2005
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Student's tall tale revealed;Confesses fabricating US surveillance story
By Jonathan Saltzman
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It rocketed across the Internet a week ago, a startling newspaper report that agents from the US Department of Homeland Security had visited a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth at his New Bedford home simply because he had tried to borrow Mao Tse-Tung's ''Little Red Book" for a history seminar on totalitarian goverments.
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The story, first reported in last Saturday's New Bedford Standard-Times, was picked up by other news organizations, prompted diatribes on left-wing and right-wing blogs, and even turned up in an op-ed piece written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the Globe.
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But yesterday, the student confessed that he had made it up after being confronted by the professor who had repeated the story to a Standard-Times reporter. The professor, Brian Glyn Williams, said he went to his former student's house and asked about inconsistencies in his story. The 22-year-old student admitted it was a hoax, Williams said. ''I made it up," the professor recalled him saying. ''I'm sorry. . . . I'm so relieved that it's over."
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The student was not identified in any reports. The Globe interviewed him Thursday but decided not to write a story about his assertion, because of doubts about its veracity. The student could not be reached yesterday. Williams said the student gave no explanation. But Williams, who praised the student as hard-working and likeable, said he was shaken by the deception.''I feel as if I was lied to, and I have no idea why," said Williams, an associate professor of Islamic history. He said the possibility the government was scrutinizing books borrowed by his students ''disturbed me tremendously."
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The story stems from an incident in the fall in a history seminar on totalitarianism and fascism taught by a colleague of Williams, Robert Pontbriand. The student, who was in the seminar, told Pontbriand he had requested an unabridged copy of ''Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung" through the UMass interlibrary loan system for a research paper. Days later, he told Pontbriand, he was stunned to get a visit by Homeland Security agents who told him the book was on a ''watch list" and asked why he wanted it. Pontbriand was appalled. ''A university is a place for the open inquiry for the truth," he said.
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The story quickly made its way around the history department, and it might have stayed on campus if The New York Times had not broken a story about President Bush's approval of a controversial domestic spying program. After that story, a Standard-Times reporter called Williams, who has traveled to Afghanistan for research, to ask whether he was concerned about government surveillance, Williams said. As an afterthought, Williams said, he told the reporter about the alleged visit by the Homeland Security agents, and that became the lead of the Dec.17 Standard-Times story.
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John Hoey, spokesman for UMass-Dartmouth, said the university did not expect to take any action against the student. ''This was a conversation that took place between a student and his faculty members," Hoey said. Dan Rosenfeld, managing editor of the newspaper, declined to comment yesterday, saying that the paper considered it a ''competitive news paperstory."
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The university issued a statement Monday defending academic freedom, but said it had had no visits from Homeland Security agents and no record of anystudent seeking the Mao book through an interlibrary loan. The student later told the professors he had requested the book at UMass-Amherst. But officials there said UMass-Dartmouth students cannot use their ID cards at the Amherst library and that all interlibrary requests are made by the libraries, not students.
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A Homeland Security spokeswoman in Washington said she had no record of any interview of a UMass-Dartmouth student and pointed out that the department does not have its own agents.
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An FBI spokeswoman in Boston also expressed doubt. That didn't stop it from buzzing around the Internet and even being picked up by Kennedy, who cited it as the latest example of the Bush administration's intrusion on civil liberties. ''Incredibly, we are now in an era where reading a controversial book may be evidence of a link to terrorist," he wrote in an op-ed piece in Thursday's Globe. Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said last night that the senator cited ''public reports" in his opinion piece. Even if the assertion was a hoax, she said, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance.
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Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com.
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DAN RATHER AND THE "POISON PILL"
by Jim Craven (Omahkohkiaayo i'poyi)
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It is an old intelligence game--"the poison pill"--that is known to be a favorite of Karl Rove. It works in the reverse of the old "salting the mine" (planting a bit of gold to make a baren mine look potentially full of gold) where a given story pregnant with deadly truths is given additional potential "deady truths" that later will turn out to be hoaxes thus tainting and compromising a whole story and the deadly truths--that are indeed truths--in it.
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When a story is getting out of hand and causing a threat to elements of one's own base (e.g. National Guard and Reserve Troops possibly getting turned off with the preppy moron Bush's favored treatment when he was sort of in the Texas Guard), you plant some documents that appear authentic and are potentially quite damaging to your own cause, let the scoop-obsessed media run with it for awhile, then pull the plug at a propitious moment showing that the planted documents are forgeries thus "poisoning" not only the documents but the whole story as well.
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The whores (with all due respect to "sexworkers") in the "mainstream" media (whose own spiral of SUCKcess in media requires ACCESS to newsmakers, to get the next "SCOOP", in order to get more EXPOSURE, in order to become a bigger NAME, in order to get even more expanded ACCESS...) will apologize all over the place for having been "sucked in" with "forged" documents.
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The story, then, will shift to the forged nature of the planted documents (it is never asked who initially planted the documents and who would have the knowledge and expertise to make them initially appear to be credible--like the infamous "Niger document on Saddam Hussein supposedly trying to buy yellowcake uranium for nuclear weapons) and not what the documents were about, whether or not the CONTENT of those documents was correct or the implications if the content of the story was correct.
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During the 1980 election the same thing was done with the "October Surprise" story. When the evidence mounted that Reagan-Bush had cut a deal with elments in Iran to keep American hostages until after the election to deny Carter an electoral victory, and when "respected" analysts like Gary Sick were joining in so that it became more than just another "conspiracy theory", up stepped Richard Brenneke (who had real bona fides has a former CIA Contract pilot and indeed a pilot for Poppy Bush) to say that he had flown Bush 41 to a secret meeting in Paris that Bush claimed he never attended.
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It all looked very lethal and damaging for Bush 41 (who was unable to document where he claimed to have been) until, supposedly to research the story, a novice reporter was given access to Brenneke's personal papers (by Brenneke), including gas receipts, and voila, this novice reporter, "discovers" a gas receipt showing Brenneke in Orergon on the day he claimed to have flown Poppy Bush to Paris. The story explodes, Brenneke is thoroughly discredited, and all of a sudden the WHOLE story, irrefutable facts and all, is discredited and consigned to the realm of nut case "conspiracy theory."
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The CBS story about Bush's illustrious Guard "service" is nothing more than but a replay of this previous "poison pill" scenario with a compliant mainstream press and a lot of really dumb people falling into line and taking their eyes off the irrefuatable facts and their real implications.
-Jim C
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James M. Craven
Blackfoot Name: Omahkohkiaayo-i'poyi
Professor/Consultant,Economics; Business Division Chair
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.Vancouver, WA. USA 98663
Tel: (360) 992-2283;
Fax: (360) 992-2863
Employer has no association with private/protected opinion
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the presentcontrols the past." (George Orwell)
"...every anticipation of results which are first to be proved seems disturbing to me...
(Karl Marx, "Grundrisse")
FREE LEONARD PELTIER!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE FASCISM:14 CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM

"FRIENDLY FASCISM"
FROM: "Friendly Fascism" by Bertram Gross, Southend Press, p. 3
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In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a popular novel in which a racist, anti-Semitic, flag-waving, army-backed demagogue wins the 1936 presidential election and proceeds to establish an Americanized version of Nazi Germany. The title, It Can't Happen Here, was a tongue-in-cheek warning that it might. But the "it" Lewis referred to is unlikely to happen again any place. Even in today's Germany, Italy or Japan, a modern-style corporate state or society would be far different from the old regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese oligarchs. Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism. In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment. The Japanese or German versions would be quite different from the Italian variety-and still more different from the British, French, Belgian, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, or Israeli versions. In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal.
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"Fascism is on the march today in America. Millionaires are marching to the tune. It will come in this country unless a strong defense is set up by all liberal and progressive forces... A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government, and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. Aboard ship a prominent executive of one of America's largest financial corporations told me point blank that if the progressive trend of the Roosevelt administration continued, he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism to America."(former U.S. ambassador to Germany William Dodd in 1938)
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14 CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM:
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1.) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. and let's not forget the failed
"Bring 'em on!"
Headstones of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed with the Pentagons war-marketing slogans
September 11 = Party time with country superstar Clint Black! Bring your coolers and sparklers! All lovingly sponsored by the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, and Subway restaurant
American Nation Brainwashed: I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. “Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does not say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ - With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!” Some may remember Duce! Duce! Duce! -ed.
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2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
The Frontline program "The Torture Question" Watch it online
Republicans kill defense spending bill because McCain Amendment prohibits "cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment"
Bush threatens to veto $442b defense bill if Congress investigates detainee abuses.
"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously.": Bush calls Amnesty International's "gulag" report absurd (three times in two sentences)
Guantanamo Judge: “I don’t care about international law. I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.”
Rumsfeld to approve new guidelines that will formalize the administration's policy of imprisoning without the protections of the Geneva Conventions and enable the Pentagon to legally hold "ghost detainees,"
US 'preparing to detain terror suspects for life without trial'
U.S. oks evidence gained through torture.
July 1, 2003: U.S. Suspends Military Aid to Nearly 50 Countries: because they have supported the International Criminal Court and failed to exempt Americans from possible prosecution.
US has at least 9000 prisoners in secret detention
More...
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3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
EXAMPLES:
Slander: Liberal lies...
How to talk to a liberal (if you must)
Deliver us...defeating terrorism, despotism, and liberalism
The Enemy Within: Saving America from the liberal assault in our schools, faith and military
Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopardize Our Security
Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity
Congressman: Muslims 'enemy amongst us'
SB 24, Ohio law to muzzle "liberals"
World history textbook used by seventh-graders at Scottsdale’s Mohave Middle School was pulled from classrooms mid-semester amid growing right criticism of the book’s unbiased portrayal of Islam
How U.S. Attorney-General, a Christian Evangelist With Anti-Islamic Views On Record, Is Waging War On American Muslims
More...
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4.) Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
If you haven't seen the Oreo flash animation yet, see it here
Funding for job training, rural health care, low-income schools and help for people lacking health insurance would face big cuts under a bill passed Friday by the House
Pentagon to spend 75 billion for three new brigades
Bush’s Domestic Program Hit List
Three cable channels now feed news, information and entertainment about the armed services into millions of living rooms 24 hours a day, seven days a week: The Military Channel, the Military History Channel and the Pentagon Channel.
Republican Congressman Slams Bush On Militarized Police State Preparation
President Bush Wipes Out Vocational and Gifted Education; Gives Special Education Short Shrift. "Under this budget, our children with disabilities and our children with gifts and talents will be left behind."
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
Cheney and Bush continue to rally troops as public support plummets
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5.) Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
It's legal again, to fire gov't workers for being gay
Bush calls for Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages
Bush refuses to sign U.N proposal on women's "sexual" rights
W. David Hager chairman of the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee does not prescribe contraceptives for single women, does not do abortions, will not prescribe RU-486 and will not insert IUDs. Hager believes that headaches, PMS and eating disorders can be cured by reading Scripture.
The State Department has awarded an explicitly anti-feminist U.S. group part of a US$10 million grant to train Iraqi women in political participation and democracy.
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6.) Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
Smoking Gun Memo? Iraq Bombshell Goes Mostly Unreported in US Media
Report shows U.S. government has been engaged in illegal propaganda aimed at its own citizens and the story gets only 41 mentions in the media
FOX NEWS ADMITS BIAS Scott Norvell is London bureau chief for Fox News, and on May 20 he let the mask slip in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal. So far, the damage has been contained, because Norvell's comments -- in an op-ed he wrote decrying left-wing bias at the BBC -- appeared only in the Journal's European edition.
Free Press details recent governmental propaganda efforts, from faux-correspondent Jeff Gannon to paid-off pundit Armstrong Williams, and from the demise of FOIA to video news releases passed off as news. also... See a Whitehouse fake news release here (opens realplayer)
Conservative columnist discloses CIA operative's name, liberal reporters face jail time
Chain of TV and radio station donates $300,000 worth of airtime to GOP candidates for free last-minute political ads
US seizes webservers from independent media sites
Bush's war on information: US editors forbidden to publish certain foreign writers
Bush administration violated federal law by producing and distributing television news segments about the effects of drug use among young people. The GAO said the videos "constitute covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials
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7.) Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses
Bush Aides ADMIT 'stoking fear' for political gain
GOP convention in a nutshell (quicktime)
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.
Keith Olbermann: "The Nexus of Politics and Terror."
U.S. Set to Test Missile Defenses for Commercial Airliners
Cheney warns that if Kerry is elected, the USA will suffer a "devastating attack"
Infants have been stopped from boarding planes at airports throughout the U.S. because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the government's "no-fly list."
Senate to pass a bill exempting Department of Homeland Security from all judicial oversight.
"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge said last year. Evidence suggests otherwise
Former counterterrorism chief claims that the now- discredited documents that showed Iraq trying to purchase uranium were fabricated right here in the United States
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8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
Jerry Falwell cleared of charges that he broke federal election law by urging followers to vote for Bush
NC congressman proposes law making it ok to preach politics from the pulpit
Texas Governor Mobilizes Evangelicals
Family research council: Justice Sunday
Law would put 'In God We Trust' in schools: A proposed law, now awaiting action in the state House, would require the motto to appear in every public school classroom, auditorium and cafeteria in Pennsylvania
Tom Delay "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith"
Christian conservatives, led by some top Republicans, are stepping up their assault on the U.S. judiciary, saying judges are attacking religion and must be reined in
Thou shalt be like Bush: What makes this recently established, right-wing Christian college unique are the increasingly close - critics say alarmingly close - links it has with the Bush administration and the Republican establishment.
Park Service Continues to Push Creationist Theory at Grand Canyon and other nat'l parks
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9.) Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
The K Street Project is a project by the Republican party to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It was launched in 1995, by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and House majority leader Tom DeLay.
American Conservative Magazine: One U.S. contractor received $2 million in a duffel bag... and a U.S. official was given $7 million in cash in the waning days of the CPA and told to spend it “before the Iraqis take over.”
There are 6 Congressional Committees investigating the Oil-for-Food (UN) scandal, yet not a single Republican Committee Chairman will call a hearing to investigate the whereabouts of 9 billion dollars missing in Iraq
Corporations' efforts to curb free speech through lawsuits are succeeding
Supreme Court overturns Arthur Andersen conviction
Congress rejects proposal to investigate Iraq's war profiteers
Army whistleblower being demoted for daring to ask such questions as "Why is Halliburton getting billions in contracts without competitive bidding?"
Off the Hook: Deferred Prosecution Agreements On the Rise: Ten major American corporations settled serious criminal charges with deferred prosecution, no prosecution, or de facto no prosecution agreements over the last two years
Shadowy lobbyists ignore rules and exploit connections -- and their industry of influence nets almost $13 billion.
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10.) Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
Schwarzenegger steps up attacks on labor unions in California
Labor Department warns unions against using their money politically
Organized labor locks horns with White House
President Bush Attacks Organized Labor Bush attacked organized labor Saturday, issuing orders effectively reducing how much money unions can spend for political activities and opening up government contracts to non-union bidding.
March 2001: President Bush signed his name to four executive orders on organized labor last month, including one that cuts the money unions will have for political campaign spending.
Congress and the Department of Labor are trying to change the rules on overtime pay, eliminating the 40 hour work week, taking eligibility for overtime pay away from millions of workers, and replacing time and a half pay with comp days.
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11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
Bush's new economic plan cuts funding for arts, education
Artists from all over the world are being refused entry to the US on security grounds.
Jeb Bush calls author of bill banning professors from being too liberal as a "freedom fighter"
A group of more than 60 top U.S. scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates and several science advisers to past Republican presidents, on Wednesday accused the Bush administration of manipulating and censoring science for political purposes
Freedom of Repression: New ruling will allow censorship of campus publications
Right-wingers demand a "College Bill of Rights" to protect their promotion of unpopular ideas
'The Republican War on Science' explains how conservatives undermine science by whipping up controversy and manipulating the media.
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12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations
America: secret jails, secret courts, secret arrests, and now secret laws
House votes to make PATRIOT ACT permanent
Snitch-or-Go-to-Jail bill will make pretty much anything short of reporting on everyone you see for doing just about anything a jailable offense. With minimum sentences, up to and including life without parole.
Report: Thousands wrongly convicted each year: Thousands of suspects unable to afford lawyers are wrongly convicted each year because they are pressured to accept guilty pleas or have incompetent attorneys, the American Bar Association says in a report.
The problem with Gonzales is that he has been deeply involved in developing some of the most sweeping claims of near-dictatorial presidential power in our nation's history, allowing him to imprison and even (at least in theory) torture anyone in the world, at any time
Police officers don't have to give a reason at the time they arrest someone, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a ruling that shields officers from false-arrest lawsuits.
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13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Bush Cronyism: Foxes Guarding the henhouse
Making Sense of the Abramoff Scandal
If Bush's pick is confirmed, that will mean the five top appointees at Justice have zero prosecutorial experience among them.
Iran-Contra Felons Get Good Jobs from Bush
Big Iraq Reconstruction Contracts Went To Big Donors
Bush Wars -- Crooks Get Contracts : The main companies that were awarded billions of dollars worth of contracts in Iraq have paid more than $300 million in fines since 2000, to resolve allegations of fraud, bid rigging, delivery of faulty military equipment, and environmental damage.
US Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) lost track of $9 billion
"Contracting in the aftermath of the hurricanes has been marked by waste, corruption and cronyism"
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14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Powerful Government Accounting Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
Conyers hearing in which Clinton Curtis testifies that he was hired to create hackable voting machines (.wmv)
The Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.
The Conyers Report (.pdf)
No explanation for the machines in Mahoning County that recorded Kerry votes for Bush, the improper purging in Cuyahoga County, the lock down in Warren County, the 99% voter turnout in Miami County, the machine tampering in Hocking County
Less access than Kazakhstan. Fewer fail-safes than Venezuela. Not as simple Republic of Georgia. The 2004 Elections according to international observers.
This picture is what stopped the ballot recounts in Florida shortly after it seemed that legitimate President Gore had a lead. The "citizens" started what was later called "the preppy riot". Screaming, yelling, pounding on the walls, these "outraged citizens" intimidated the polling officials to halt the court mandated recount. A closer look reveals who they really were. They were bussed and flown in at Republican lawmakers expense. Some even flew in on Tom Delay's private plane.
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If Mussolini defines fascism as "the merger of corporate and government power" what does that make the K Street project?
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Related Articles:
"Now and Then"- Part 1 A 3 part series by W David Jenkins III on the similarities between America now and Germany post Reichstag fire
Click here to purchase this image on POAC merchandise
"Now and Then"- Part II: The Propaganda Machine
Now and Then- Part III Hitler's Playbook: Bush and the Abuse of Power
It may sound crazy to some, but the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism.
Is America Becoming Fascist?
Eternal Fascism:Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
The Danger of American Fascism:With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
Sheila Samples: Freedom To Fascism -- A Bumpy Ride: Republicans don't seem to realize that they are no longer individual members of a coherent "party," but are merely part of a mean-spirited and dangerous movement that is threatening to sweep away democracy as we know it.
Germany In 1933: The Easy Slide Into Fascism
The Brownshirting of America: Bush’s supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the September 11 attack on the US – truths now firmly established by the Bush administration’s own reports – as treasonous America-bashing.
Fascism then. Fascism now? When people think of fascism, they imagine Rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare.
What is Fascism? Some General Ideological Features
Hello. You are now living in a fascist empire
Neo-fascism in America : Too many people believe fascism is only about goose-stepping, jack-booted Nazis. Too many people believe that American democracy is so strong that fascists could never take control of America. If you are sympathetic to those views, I invite you to consider the possibility that you are mistaken.
It is in times of fascism rising that armies of ignorance are once more resuscitated from the bowels of a society bordering on the edge of mass psychosis. The America at the dawn of the twenty-first century is no exception...
Republican Party Brown Shirts: "The Wide-Awakes": The organization was known for virulent anti-Catholicism, secretive rituals, and a military-style organization complete with "officers" and units.
U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler: The little-known story of the man who prevented a coup d'├ętat and the overthrow of the US government in 1933
Harper's Magazine: We Now Live in a Fascist State
They Saw It Coming: The 19th-Century Libertarian Critique of Fascism
Victims of Creeping Fascism: We are witnessing nothing less astonishing than the demise of the American experiment. 12-20
The ten phases of a Bush scandal. 12-22
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