Thursday, April 30, 2009

Torture Memos Expose Dark, Imperial Presidency

By Robert S. Becker, Ph.D.

This was not a happy week for the torture lobby, nor its defenders, derailing months of charm offensive by Bush-Cheney legacy boosters. A wary President Obama backed off attempts to defuse the torture parade – fretting over divisive investigations and hard-to-win court convictions.

Public indignation likely surpassed February polling when 65% favored torture investigations, 40% criminal prosecutions....

....More revelations are coming, soon from Justice on legal ethics, thus keeping the torture lobby on the run. That torture is “cruel and inhuman,” doesn’t work, marginalized national security, jeopardized future indictments, and fueled terrorist recruitment – that’s why this scandal won’t fade. The media is on board.

If nothing else, we can now assess a terrible national disgrace, Abu Ghraib. Rethink those “few bad apples,” per Donald Rumsfeld’s blatant lie, having authorized prison brutality.

What emerges is the entire rotten apple tree – the planting and force-feeding apples of abuse – farmed by the unholy trinity: Rumsfeld, his bullying pal, V.P. Cheney, and W., the gullible dupe blind to torture on his watch and any potential “war crimes.”

Robert S. Becker, Ph.D.

To read an earlier cry in the dark, see my November 2005 dissent, “We do torture”:

For more whether torture is legal:

This item was first posted on


Swine Flu?

A Panic Stoked in Order to Posture and Spend:

By Simon Jenkins

Health scares enable media-hungry doctors, public health officials and drugs companies to benefit by manipulating fright.


Agri-biz at root of swine flu?
Evidence points to industrial pig farm as source of outbreak,
Bernice Wuethrich tried to warn us

Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

Mexican authorities have reported that the number of deaths confirmed from so-called Swine Flu is 7 not the 150 or more bandied in the media

By F. William Engdahl

If we are to believe what our trusted international media report, the world is on the brink of a global pandemic outbreak of a new deadly strain of flu, H1N1 as it has been labelled, or more popularly, Swine Flu...

The only thing wrong with this story is that it is largely based on lies, hype and coverup of possible real causes of Mexican deaths.

....Then, most revealingly, the aspect of the story which has been largely ignored by major media, they reported,

‘Residents believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak.

According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to "flu." However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.’4

Since the dawn of American ‘agribusiness,’ a project initiated with funding by the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1950’s to turn farming into a pure profit maximization business, US pig or hog production has been transformed into a highly efficient, mass production industrialized enterprise from birth to slaughter.

Pigs are caged in what are called Factory Farms, industrial concentrations which are run with the efficiency of a Dachau or Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They are all conceived by artificial insemination and once born, are regularly injected with antibiotics, not because of illnesses which abound in the hyper-crowded growing pens, but in order to make them grow and add weight faster. Turn around time to slaughter is a profit factor of highest priority. The entire operation is vertically integrated from conception to slaughter to transport distribution to supermarket.

Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM) happens to be such a Factory Farm concentration facility for hogs.

In 2008 they produced almost one million factory hogs, 950,000 according to their own statistics. GCM is a joint venture operation owned 50% by the world’s largest pig producing industrial company, Smithfield Foods of Virginia.5

The pigs are grown in a tiny rural area of Mexico, a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and primarily trucked across the border to supermarkets in the USA, under the Smithfields’ family of labels.

Most American consumers have no idea where the meat was raised.

Now the story becomes interesting.

Manure Lagoons and other playing fields

.....Presumably the manure lagoons around the LaGloria factory pig farm of Smithfield Foods are the waste dumping place for the feces and urine waste from at least 950,000 pigs a year that pass through the facility. The Smithfield’s Mexico joint venture, Norson, states that alone they slaughter 2,300 pigs daily. That’s a lot. It gives an idea of the volumes of pig waste involved in the concentration facility at La Gloria.....

A research compilation by Ed Harris reported, ‘According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to ‘flu.’ However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.’9

That would imply that the entire Swine Flu scare might have originated from the PR spin doctors of the world’s largest industrial pig factory farm operation, Smithfield Foods.....

The Vera Cruz-based newspaper La Marcha blames Smithfield’s Granjos Carroll for the outbreak, highlighting inadequate treatment of massive quantities of animal waste from hog production.10

Understandably the company is perhaps more than a bit uncomfortable with the sudden attention. The company, which supplies the McDonald’s and Subway fast-food chains, was fined $12.3 million in the United States 1997 for violating the Clean Water Act. Perhaps they are in a remote tiny Mexican rural area enjoying a relatively lax regulatory climate where they need not worry about being cited for violations of any Clean Water Act.

Factory Farms as toxic concentrations

At the very least the driving force for giant industrial agribusiness outsourcing of facilities to third world sites such as Veracruz, Mexico has more to do with further cost reduction and lack of health and safety scrutiny than it does with improving the health and safety quality of the food end product.....

That is where the real investigation ought to begin, with the health and sanitary dangers of the industrial factory pig farms like the one at Perote in Veracruz. The media spread of panic-mongering reports of every person in the world who happens to contract ‘symptoms’ which vaguely resemble flu or even Swine Flu and the statements to date of authorities such as WHO or CDC are far from conducive to a rational scientific investigation....

Tamiflu and Rummy

In October 2005 the Pentagon ordered vaccination of all US military personnel worldwide against what it called Avian Flu, H5N1. Scare stories filled world media. Then, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced he had budgeted more than $1 billion to stockpile the vaccine, Oseltamivir sold under the name, Tamiflu. President Bush called on Congress to appropriate another $2 billion for Tamiflu stocks.

What Rumsfeld neglected to report at the time was a colossal conflict of interest.

Prior to coming to Washington in January 2001, Rumsfeld had been chairman of a California pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences. Gilead Sciences held exclusive world patent rights to Tamiflu, a drug it had developed and whose world marketing rights were sold to the Swiss pharma giant, Roche.

Rumsfeld was reportedly the largest stock holder in Gilead which got 10% of every Tamiflu dose Roche sold. 14 When it leaked out, the Pentagon issued a curt statement to the effect that Secretary Rumsfeld had decided not to sell but to retain his stock in Gilead, claiming that to sell would have indicated something to hide.’ That agonizing decision won him reported added millions as the Gilead share price soared more than 700% in weeks.

Tamiflu is no mild candy to be taken lightly. It has heavy side effects. It contains matter that could have potentially deadly consequences for a person’s breathing and often reportedly leads to nausea, dizziness and other flu-like symptoms.....

Since the outbreak of Swine Flu Panic (not Swine Flu but Swine Flu Panic) sales of Tamiflu as well as any and every possible drug marketed as flu related have exploded....

Panic and fear of death was used by the Bush Administration skilfully to promote the Avian Flu fraud. With ominous echoes of the current Swine Flu scare, Avian Flu was traced back to huge chicken factory farms in Thailand and other parts of Asia whose products were shipped across the world.

Instead of a serious investigation into the sanitary conditions of those chicken factory farms, the Bush Administration and WHO blamed ‘free-roaming chickens’ on small family farms, a move that had devastating economic consequences to the farmers whose chickens were being raised in the most sanitary natural conditions. Tyson Foods of Arkansas and CG Group of Thailand reportedly smiled all the way to the bank.

Now it remains to be seen if the Obama Administration will use the scare around so-called Swine Flu to repeat the same scenario, this time with ‘flying pigs’ instead of flying birds.

Already Mexican authorities have reported that the number of deaths confirmed from so-called Swine Flu is 7 not the 150 or more bandied in the media and that most other suspected cases were ordinary flu or influenza.

(To be continued)

F. William Engdahl is author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (Global Rersearch, 2007, see below) and
A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
(Pluto Press).
His new book,
Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is due out end of May.
He may be contacted through his website:


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Exceptionalism

Torture Whitewash from The Dark Side

By Pepe Escobar

Without accepting full responsibility for torture - and illegal, pre-emptive wars - and without accountability, there can be no catharsis in America. Obama is enough of a smart operator to know that if his "going forward" is perceived like "look the other way", this whole thing will come back to haunt and even destroy his presidency. And if it walks and talks like a whitewash, that's because it must be ... a whitewash.


From Bunker Hill to Baghdad

Pinter's Dispatch to Obama

By Mike Whitney

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis...It's a scintillating stratagem."


Andy Worthington: CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months Before DOJ Approval:

I don't know about you, but from my reading of this story, a number of the highest-ranking officials in the Bush administration need hauling up before the courts as soon as possible.

New Evidence of US Torture Prison in Poland:

It has long been clear that the CIA used the Szymany military airbase in Poland for extraordinary renditions. Now there is evidence of a secret prison nearby.

Truth commission to proceed despite Obama’s wishes:

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) plans to proceed with a special commission to investigate alleged Bush administration abuses of power, despite lacking President Barack Obama’s support, according to a report Tuesday.

Yes, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding:

It's kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops.

Reagan's DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff for Waterboarding Prisoners:

Federal prosecutors secured a 10-year sentence against the sheriff and four years in prison for the deputies. But that 1983 case - which would seem to be directly on point for a legal analysis on waterboarding two decades later - was never mentioned in the four Bush administration opinions released last week.

US Must Prosecute Bush Torture Memo Lawyers: UN Envoy:

The U.S. is obligated by a United Nations convention to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who allegedly drafted policies that approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects, the U.N.'s top anti-torture envoy said Friday.

As Long As We're Talking About Socialism

By Mark Harris

...Unfortunately, the Obama Administration proceeds as if the crisis is a serious temporary problem that money and some regulatory tinkering to the economic engine can repair. Meanwhile, the Republican right-wing sinks further into ludicrous irrelevancy, their jabs at Obama's "socialist" policies appearing increasingly grotesque and out of touch.

But since they've brought up the topic of socialism, why not talk about the real thing?

The essence of the socialist idea is that the economy can and should be planned, both to make best use of resources and to serve not private profit but the majority's human needs. In other words, socialism represents the extension of democracy into the economy. In its absence we instead witness the current havoc wreaked on our economy by a relatively small number of super-rich, who use their economic and political power to twist the levers of the economy to serve their own narrow interests.

Some liberal economists such as Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman have recently begun to sound the alarm on Obama's recovery plan. Expecting those who caused the crisis to solve the crisis just won't work, says Krugman, even if you reward them beyond their wildest dreams. Krugman favors more extensive measures such as nationalizing the largest banks. Still, his perspective is limited. In the long run he'd like to keep the banks in private hands. Bank nationalization should be just a temporary solution.

Why? Why, indeed, should private ownership of major economic institutions be considered sacrosanct, especially when those who've had their chance to run things have instead run things into the ground?

In a rational society the banking system would exist as an arm of the public good, a regulated system subject to democratic management. It might be even easier to grasp the capitalist folly in health care. We need private health insurance companies as much we need private fire departments that serve only their own paid-up enrollees.

Is this just inflated left-wing rhetoric?

Then ask yourself how democratic it is for the richest 1 percent of Americans to own 43 percent of all stock? Or for this same 1 percent to account for 33 percent of total household wealth, according to the Federal Reserve Bulletin? Is it far-fetched to suggest that class inequality and economic insecurity are permanent hallmarks of life under capitalism?

If the economic crisis is the result of bipartisan policy, it's solution now lies in mass partisan action by an organized public.

All the hopeful chatter from the Wall Street types in the Treasury Department who now command the President's ear will only go so far. A mobilized, grass-roots labor movement fighting for the right to organize the unorganized and for more jobs and better working conditions and economic relief for distressed homeowners would do far more to move the country forward to the better future we all deserve.

Mark Harris has written cover stories and other features for Chicago’s Conscious Choice, Utne magazine, and other publications He is a featured contributor to "The Flexible Writer," fourth edition, by Susanna Rich (Allyn & Bacon/Longman, 2003).


Why the US still hates Cuba

By Federico Fuentes

“Defeating the U.S. Bay of Pigs invasion [in 1961] while remaining fiercely independent in a region dominated by U.S. corporations and past government interventions has made Cuba an inspiration to millions of Latin Americans. This profound break from U.S. dominance — in its ‘own backyard’ no less — is not so easily forgiven.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

PM seeks global aid for Agent Orange lawsuit



Viet Nam hoped to receive global public support in its lawsuit to protect Agent Orange victims, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told William Bourdon, representative of the International Federation of Human Rights League.

Bourdon is in Viet Nam to investigate the legacy caused by Agent Orange.

At the reception yesterday, Dung thanked the organisation for supporting Vietnamese AO victims.

Agent Orange had left serious consequences for millions of Vietnamese people and laid a socio-economic burden on the country, he said.

Viet Nam’s policy was to move on from the past and look to a future in which Viet Nam and the US could co-operate and develop, but also be responsible in overcoming the legacy of the war.

Dung referred to the US’s effort in helping find the remains of soldiers missing in action and clearing land mines. However, the US hadn’t paid attention to surmounting the consequences of AO, he said.

Vietnamese AO victims had filed a lawsuit against American chemical companies but did not receive justice from the American courts; Vietnamese people were discontent with the sentence, he said.

The Vietnamese Government and people would like to thank people and organisations across the world for their support during the law suit, he added.

Dung said he hoped the delegation would learn the truth and raise a loud voice to tell people around the world about the heavy legacy that Vietnamese AO sufferers had to bear.

More importantly, the delegation would see the brutality of the war and join hands to prevent future wars and build a peaceful world, he said.

Bourdon said he was honoured to collect documents to present at the democracy court to be held in Paris next month.

Regarding the possibility of bringing the case to a Vietnamese court, he said a firm legal base must be prepared before the lawsuit could be set up because there were many complicated legal issues.

Otherwise, the American court would oppose the sentence and prevent its execution if the Vietnamese court gave a sentence that benefited the victims.

The Prime Minister said he wished the experts and international friends would exchange ideas with Vietnamese lawyers to find suitable solutions.


Also in Ha Noi yesterday, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen said Viet Nam would survey Agent Orange-dioxin victims throughout the country so as to provide them with better support.

The survey was in response to a Government request that included the supply of the criteria needed to define who should be entitled to benefit from new assistance policies.

Speaking on-line with representatives of AO-dioxin victims, the minister said the Party and the State had made many efforts to overcome the consequences of the defoliants sprayed on Viet Nam during the American War.

Many policies and legal documents had been issued to help improve the physical and mental state of the victims and their families, he said.

The Government spent more than VND780 billion last year for AO victims who participated in the war and their children.

In addition to a monthly allowance, the victims were provided with free health insurance, health checks, treatment and rehabilitation.

Their children enjoyed priorities in education and training.

"However, the State had yet to devise policies for people who were exposed to AO-dioxin during the war and those who have been living and working in the contaminated areas," he said.

Hundreds of questions about the policies for AO victims were submitted for the on-line session and almost all focused on the need to raise allowance for the victims and their grandchildren and the need for a preferential policy for grandchildren.

Many people said the response to dioxin in blood should be the same as for injured with an allowance equal to that for invalids paid.

Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said she would study and consider raising the allowance paid to the victims of AO-dioxin to equal that paid to other invalids.

Viet Nam Association for Victims of Agent Orange-Dioxin (VAVA) standing member Mai The Chinh said almost 40 years had elapsed since the end of the war but the devastating effects of the defoliants were still present in the damage to the environment and people’s health.

"Severe genetic diseases have been responsible for various types of disabilities, constant physical and mental pain as well as lingering social consequences," she said.

Viet Nam has about 4.8 million Agent Orange-dioxin victims, the US magazine Nature reported in 2003.


Agent Orange Fact Sheet

PDF version

Agent Orange: The Legacy of War.

Legendary Magnum photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths returns to Vietnam to witness the continuing impact of Agent Orange.

An 11-minute video by Lisa Miller.
PC (Small - Large) • Mac (Small - Large)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Agent Orange case inspires lawyers


President Nguyen Minh Triet receives International Association of Democratic Lawyers chairman Jitendra Sharma. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang

HA NOI — The decision by the US Supreme Court to refuse the lawsuit lodged by Vietnamese Agent Orange victims against US producers of the toxic chemical used during the Viet Nam war has strengthened the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)’s determination to mobilise international support for the victims, said the association chairman Jitendra Sharma.

He made the statement during a reception given by President Nguyen Minh Triet in Ha Noi yesterday.

Chairman Sharma briefed Triet on IADL activities in support of the fight to get justice for Vietnamese AO victims.

He said the IADL and the Viet Nam Association of Victims of Agent Orange are striving to organise a hearing at the court of international opinion in Paris, which convenes in May this year.

A number of international lawyers have agreed to join the board of judges and supervisors at this hearing, he said.

Chairman Sharma said that the IADL was actively working with the Viet Nam Bar Association in preparation for the upcoming 17th IADL congress, scheduled to be held in Ha Noi in June.

He stressed the importance of the congress to the IADL and said this was the first time the congress was being held in an Asian country.

President Triet expressed his thanks to the IADL for its support and assistance to Viet Nam during its struggle for national independence, particularly in the fight to seek justice for AO victims.

The state leader stressed that bringing the sufferings of the AO victims to the court of international public opinion was an action of those who love peace and social equity, and wish to clarify the responsibility of the US.

Although AO victims’ fight for justice still faces many obstacles, the determination of the IADL will make the voice of justice move the world, he said. — VNS

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


By John S. Hatch

A recent article published in the respected peer-reviewed Open Chemical Physics Journal by nine noted scientists offers incontrovertible proof that the dust from the Twin Towers and Building Seven of the World Trade Center contains small intact samples of Thermite. Thermite is a highly explosive agent consisting mostly of aluminum and iron oxide, and is used to cut steel in building controlled demolitions, and is also used in welding and in military applications...

So what does it mean?

It means that there is proof (which so far no one has attempted to refute) that the WTC buildings (and more than three thousand lives, counting the ongoing deaths of first responders and ordinary NYC citizens caused by the dust) were brought down by controlled demolition in a planned and purposeful manner by elements of the Bush Administration, most likely as a ‘catalyzing event’ , the new Pearl Harbor’ fondly mentioned by neo-con PNAC (Plan for the New American Century) and designed to galvanize American citizens in support of attacking other nations and restricting human rights at home. ‘Full Specter Domination’.

This was the excuse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq (there were plans for Syria and Iran as well, and perhaps others), for justifying domestic spying, disappearances, torture, and murder. Murder based on lies and deception, and the killing of American citizens.

Knowing, as he must by now, that 9/11 was conceived and executed not from some dark cave in Afghanistan, but much more likely from some deep bunker in dank Cheneystan, will President Obama still insist on ‘looking ahead’? Just how deep is America’s reserve of dismissal and denial?

I feel for all the victims of 9/11, past, present and future, but was especially haunted by those poor souls who chose to jump to their deaths, or who fell. Surely the people who did this need to be brought to justice. Otherwise America is not ‘looking ahead’. She has her eyes shut tight while she babbles inanities.

John S. Hatch is a Vancouver writer and film-maker.

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Differing Views of the "Rule of Law" in Spain and the U.S.

By Glenn Greenwald

The primary obligation for these prosecutions lies with the country whose officials authorized the war crimes -- the United States: It is a requirement of law, the law that the Constitution requires Obama, as President, to faithfully execute. He should not outsource his Constitutional obligations to Spain.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, former U.S. President George W. Bush

Like former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, former U.S. President George W. Bush and his team could end up in serious trouble stemming from an imminent indictment in Spanish courts for kidnapping, secret prisons and torture.

Indictment of Bush Officials May Come in Days: The imminent indictment in Spanish courts of former officials of the Bush Administration is being applauded by civil and human rights organizations and legal scholars. The popular wave of support for indictment of Bush officials will inevitably lead to Bush himself.

You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

By Johann Hari

In 1991, the government of Somalia - in the Horn of Africa - collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.


Toxic Waste' Behind Somali Piracy

By Najad Abdullahi

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spain Investigates What America Should

By Marjorie Cohn

A Spanish court has initiated criminal proceedings against six former officials of the Bush administration.

John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes and Douglas Feith may face charges in Spain for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay.

If arrest warrants are issued, Spain and any of the other 24 countries that are parties to European extradition conventions could arrest these six men when they travel abroad. Continue

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Canadian Parliament votes again to let U.S. war resisters stay.
For the second time in 10 months, Canada’s House of Commons told Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, including Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, to stop deporting U.S. soldiers resisting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Continue
The United Nations says a Jewish judge from South Africa will lead a high-level mission to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

By Uri Avnery
Israel“Si vis pacem, para bellum – if you want peace, prepare for war,” declared the new Foreign Minister. When a diplomat quotes this ancient Roman saying, the world pays no attention to the first part, but only to the second. Coming from the mouth of the already infamous Lieberman, it was a clear threat: the new government is entering upon a path of war, not of peace.

By George Bisharat
Israel has a lengthy history of unpunished abuses of international law - among the most flagrant its decades-long colonization of the West Bank. To its credit, much of the world has refused to ratify Israel's violations. Unfortunately, our government is an exception, having frequently provided diplomatic cover for Israel's abuses. Our diplomats have vetoed 42 U.N. Security Council resolutions to shelter Israel from the consequences of its often illegal behavior.

By Glen Ford
A nation that has violated “every norm of civilized behavior and international law” since its founding in 1948 is held virtually blameless by the U.S. corporate media – Israel sycophants of the lowest order. “Now members of the Israeli Defense Force themselves are coming forward to admit that they committed war crimes” – but the U.S. press is censoring their confessions!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Killing For George

Secret US Forces Carried Out Assassinations in a Dozen Countries

By Seymour Hersh

"They’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving.”