Veterans Today: US Military to Maintain low key Presence in Africa!

US military efforts in Africa will remain low keyed and with a small footprint, and will be geared toward building relationships with African nations, a senior Defense Department official has been quoted as saying. US Africa Command is maturing, and running a variety of exercises and operations
with allies to continue the trend, the official said, speaking to reporters on background at the Pentagon this week. The command really has a two fold mission on the continent, the official said. First, there is a very active approach to countering threats to US citizens and US interests in Africa. Second, is the development of "effective partnerships to prevent and respond to conflict and other threats to stability wherever it manifests," the official said. The continent is very much a glass is half empty, glass is half full place, the official acknowledged. In East Africa, there has been tremendous success with Somalia. The nations of the region, under the African Union (AU), banded together to stop extremism, and to give the Somali people some stability. The Au mission, coupled with Combined Joint Task Force 150, the multinational counter-piracy effort, has given the failed state of Somalia a new chance, the American Forces Press Service reports. Across the continent, there's a lot to talk about in terms of what went wrong with Mali, and how might we, as a US government, and as an international community learn from that, the official said. The prerequisites for a successful policy include having "a shared view of a threat environment, and then being willing, as a partner government, to employ your capabilities vis a vis the threats in your environment, the official explained. "I think we can kind of disassemble those elements, and point to some areas, where this did not work out well in Mali." The effort on the continent is diverse, because the continent itself is diverse. Africa is not a one size fits all place, the official noted. It has 54 nations, with hundreds of languages, thousands of tribal affiliations, and a great disparity among the haves and have-nots. The US military relates to each country differently, the official said, and maintains a small footprint. "We have one enduring location on the continent in the form of Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti," the official said. "It's critical to our counter-terrorism operations, and our security and cooperation activities in East Africa." 

By Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Horacio Verbitsky!

The New Pope's Disturbing Past. Revealing Francis's Ties to Abduction of Priests! Juan Gonzalez: For more on the new pope, we turn now to one of Argentina's leading investigative journalists, Horacio Verbitsky, who has written extensively about the career of Cardinal Bergoglio, and his actions during the military dictatorship, that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. During that time, up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and killed. A 2005 lawsuit accused Jorge Bergoglio of being connected to the 1976 kidnappings of two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics. The lawsuit was filed, after the publication of Verbitsky's book, The Silence: From Paul VI to Bergoglio: The Secret Relations Between the Church and the ESMA. Esma refers to the former navy school, that was turned into detention center, where people were tortured by the military dictatorship. The new pope has denied the charges. He twice invoked his right under Argentine law, to refuse to appear in open court to testify about the allegations. When he eventually did testify in 2010, human rights activists characterized his answers as evasive. Amy Goodman: Horacio Verbitsky joins us on the phone now, from his home in Buenos Aires, an investigative journalist for the newspaper Pagina 12, Page 12, it is called in English. He is also head of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, an Argentine human rights organization: We welcome you to Democracy Now! I wanted to just begin by you laying out for us, what you believe is important to understand about the new pope, Pope Francis. Horacio Verbitsky: The main thing to understand about Francis 1, is that he's a conservative populist, in the same style that John Paul II was. He's a man of strong conservative positions in doctrine questions, but with a touch for popular taste. He preaches in rail stations, in the streets. He goes to the quarters, the poor quarters of the city to pray. He doesn't wait for the people going into the church, he goes for them, but his message is absolutely conservative. He was opposed to abortion, to the egalitarian matrimony law. He launched a crusade against the evil, when Congress was passing this law, and in the same style that John Paul II. This is what I consider the main feature on the new pope. Juan Gonzalez: Well, now, HoracioVerbitsky, that would be true of many of the cardinals elevated during the period of John Paul, and now also of Benedict XVI, this basic conservatism. But in the case of Bergoglio, there is also the issue, as you have documented, and many several journalists in Argentina.

Michel Chossudovsky: Washington's Pope? Who is Pope Francis 1? c

Cardinal Jorge Mario Berogoglio and Argentina's Dirty War. The Vatican conclave has elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis 1. Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? In 1973, he had been appointed Provincial of Argentina for the Society of Jesus. In this capacity, Bergoglio was the highest ranking Jesuit in Argentina, during the military dictatorship led by General Jorge Videla 1976-1983. He later became bishop and archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the title of cardinal in 2001. When the military junta relinquished power in 1983, the duly elected president Raul Alfonsin set up a Truth Commission, pertaining to the crimes underlying the Dirty War (La Guerra Sucia). The military junta had been supported covertly by Washington. US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger played a behind the scenes role, in the 1976 military coup. Kissinger's top deputy on Latin America, William Rogers, told him two days after the coup that the coup that'we've got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long." (National Security Archive, March 23, 2006). "Operation Condor" Ironically, a major trial opened up in Buenos Aires on March 5, 2013, a week prior to Cardinal Bergoglio's investiture as Pontiff. The ongoing trial in Buenas Aires is: "to consider the totality of crimes carried out under Operation Condor, a coordinated campaign by various US backed Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, to hunt down, torture and murder tens of thousands of opponents of those regimes. For further details, see Operation Condor: Trial On Latin American Rendition And Assassination Program By Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh, March 10, 2013. The military junta led by General Jorge Videla was responsible for countless assassinations, including priests and nuns, who opposed military rule, following the CIA sponsored March 24, 1976 coup which overthrew the government of Isabel Peron: "Videla was among the generals convicted of human rights crimes, including disappearances, torture, murders and kidanappings. In 1985, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Magdalena. Wall Street and the Neo liberal Economic Agenda. One of the key appointments of the military junta, on the instructions of Wall Street, was the Minister of Economy, Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, David Rockefeller and General Jorge Videla. The neo-liberal macro economic policy package adopted under Martinez de Hoz,was a carbon copy of that imposed in October 1973 in Chile by the Pinochet dictatorship, under advice from the "Chicago Boys", following the September 11, 1976 military coup.      


Bie Kentane: Iraqi Children: Deprived of Rights, Stolen Future!

For two decades, Iraqi children have been subjected to grave violations of human rights. Due to decades of war, foreign occupation, and international sanctions, Iraq has turned into one of the worst places for children in the Middle East, and North Africa, with around 3.5 million living in poverty, 1.5 million under the age of five undernourished, and 100 infants dying every day. This report will focus on the violations by the occupying forces, and the Iraqi government of the Convention, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, (ICRC) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Article 28. Right to education. Article 29. Goals of education. All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Before 1990s, Iraq's  education system statistically surpassed its neighbors, in terms of access, literacy and gender equality. However, almost three decades of wars, cruel sanctions, and humiliated blockade, have pushed back those advances. The youth component of the Iraqi population is the fastest growing in the nation. Iraq had an estimated 30,399, 572 people in 2011, according to the CIA World Fact book. The median age was 20.9, and 38% of the country was 14 or younger. Both of those statistics made Iraq the second youngest country in the Middle East and North Africa. This important element is obviously not being invested in, which could have detrimental affects upon Iraqs future. One of the major problems with the Iraqi bureaucracy, for example, is a lack of trained staff. If many Iraqis are failing to gain even a basic education, this issue will likely not be solved any time soon. The destruction or closing of schools and universities, the displacement of the population, and the fact that teachers are members of the professional class, who were killed, or forced to leave Iraq, resulted in a loss of schooling for children and young people, and therefore loss of life opportunities. Many children were displaced during the occupation, due to sectarian policies imposed by the occupiers, with no adequate facilities for their schooling. Loss of schooling is very hard to make up. Not only did the children and young people have their opportunities in later life reduced, but the community, and ultimately the state also loses from inadequate education.  

F. William Engdahl: The Fracked up USA Shale Gas Bubble.

At a time, when much of the world is looking with a mix of envy and excitement at the recent boom in USA unconventional gas from shale rock, when countries from China to Poland, to France, to the UK are beginning to launch their own ventures into unconventional shale gas extraction, hoping it is the cure for their energy woes, the US shale boom is revealing itself, to have been a gigantic hyped confidence bubble, that is already beginning to deflate. Carpe diem! America: The New Saudi Arabia? If we were to believe the current media reports out of Washington, and the US oil and gas industry, the United States is about to become  the new Saudi Arabia. We are told she is suddenly and miraculously on the track to energy self sufficiency. No longer the US economy will depend on high risk oil or gas, from the politically unstable Middle East, or African countries. The Obama White House energy adviser, Heather Zichal, has even shifted her focus from pushing carbon cap and trade schemes, to promoting America's shale revolution. In his January 2012 State of the Union Address to Congress, President Obama claimed that, largely owing to the shale gas revolution, we have a supply of natural gas, that can last America nearly 100 years. Renowned energy experts, like Cambridge Energy Researcher Daniel Yergin, in recent Congressional testimony, waxed almost poetic, about the purported benefits of the recent US shale oil and gas exploration: The United States is in the midst of the unconventional revolution in oil and gas, that it has becomes increasingly apparent, goes beyond energy itself. He did not explain what exactly energy going beyond energy itself means. He also claimed that the industry supports 1.7 million jobs, a considerable accomplishment, given the relative newness of the technology. That number could rise to 3 million by 2020. Very impressive numbers. Mr Yergin went on to suggest a major geopolitical dimension of America's shale oil and gas industry, saying expansion of US energy exports will add an additional dimension to US influence in the world. Shale gas has risen from two percent of domestic production a decade ago, to 37 percent of supply, and prices have dropped dramatically. US oil output, instead of continuing its long decline, has increased dramatically by about 38 percent since 2008. Just the increase since 2008, is equivalent to the entire output of Nigeria, the seventh largest producing country in OPEC. People talk about the potential geopolitical impact of the shale gas and tight oil. That impact is already here!    

Tomgram: William deBuys, Exodus from Phoenix

We're not the first people on the planet ever to experience climate stress. In the overheating, increasingly parched American Southwest, which has been experiencing rising temperatures, spreading drought conditions, and record wildfires, there is an ancient history of staggering mega droughts, events far worse than the infamous dust bowl of the 1930s, the seven year drought that devastated America's prairie lands. That may have been the worst prolonged environmental disaster recorded for the count, but historically speaking, it was a mere dry spell compared to some of the mega droughts that lasted centuries to millennia. Such events even happened in human history, including an almost century long southwestern dry spell in the second century AD, and a drought that was at least decades long in the twelfth century. These were all events driven by natural climate variation. Climate change adds a human factor to the equation in a region already naturally dry, and short on water. It ups the odds of bad events happening. In the coming century, how habitable will parts of the bustling desert Southwest turn out to be? Already, in the face of heat and drought, small numbers of people from small towns in the region are leaving. And this, too, has happened before. There are sobering previous examples of what it means, when extreme climate stress hits this area. Chaco Canyon was abandoned by its native population during that twelfth century drought, and 150 years later, the Hohokam native culture. of what is now central Arizona, whose waterworks in the dry lands of that area were major and impressive, also abandoned its lands, possibly due to drought, as Tom Dispatch regular William deBuys recounts in his recent book: A Great Aridness: Climate Change, and the Future of the American Southwest. At some point, he writes, Hohokam society passed a threshold, the number of able bodied workers it could muster was no longer sufficient to meet the challenge of rebuilding dams, when they washed out and cleaning canals, as they inevitably silted up. Eventually the hydraulic system collapsed, and the society that depended on it could no longer exist. The survivors turned their backs on their cities, and scattered into the vastness of the land, doing what they could to survive.     


Chris Hedges: "Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam" r

A book by Nick Turse's "Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam" is not only one of the most important books ever written about the Vietnam conflict, but provides readers with an unflinching account of the nature of modern industrial warfare. It captures, as few books on war do, the utter depravity of industrial violence, what the sociologist James William Gibson calls "technowar."It exposes the sickness of the hyper masculine military culture, the intoxicating rush, and addiction of violence, and the massive government spin machine, that lies daily to a gullible public and uses tactics of intimidation, threats and smear campaigns to silence dissenters. Turse, finally, grasps that the trauma that plagues most combat veterans, is a result not only of what they witnessed or endured, but what they did. This trauma, shame, guilt and self revulsion push many combat veterans, whether from Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, to escape into narcotic and alcoholic fogs or commit suicide. By the end of Turse's book, you understand why. This is not the book Turse set out to write. He was, when his research began in June 2001, a graduate student looking at post traumatic stress disorder among Vietnam veterans. An archivist at the US National Archives asked Turse whether he thought witnessing war crimes could cause PTSD. He steered Turse to yellowing reports amassed by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group. The group, set up in the wake of the My Lai massacre, was designed to investigate the hundreds of reports of torture, rape, kidnapping, forced displacement, beatings, arson, mutilation, executions and massacres carried out by US troops. But the object of the group was not to discipline or halt the abuses. It was, as Turse writes, "to ensure that the army would never again be caught off guard by a major war crimes scandal." War crimes, for army investigators, were an image management problem. Those charged with war crimes were rarely punished. The numerous reports of atrocities collected by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group were kept secret, and the eyewitnesses who reported war crimes were usually ignored, discredited or cowed into silence.      

Gary Corseri: Six Ways the US Supreme Court Has Defiled Our Constitution.

O tenderest of mercies! The right to speak one's mind freely, the right to question and challenge, upon which all other rights are hinged! 1. "Corporate Personhood" The first attack came almost two hundred years ago, in 1819, as the Industrial Revolution was beginning to spin serious wheels in the budding Empire. Blacks picked cotton in the South, and the mills hummed in Lowell, Mass, and other river blessed locations in the North. It was a hundred years after Newcomen's steam engine, and less than two decades after Fulton's steamboat would once again spur our westward expansion. Given such multi-factoral impetus, and its own proclivity, established by Marshall, to oversight, how could our Supreme Court  restrain its worst intentions? And so it is declared, in "Trustees of Dartmouth College vs Woodward," the principle of "corporate person hood." The Court was essentially restating the 14th Amendment, but now equating the "rights"of corporations to be as free as real, live, human beings from any State's denial of "equal protection" under the laws within its jurisdiction. Of course, this 14th Amendment "equal protection" did not apply to cotton picking slaves, "Indian savages," women, etc! And that's the assault on our national consciousness and conscience, and we have lived with that assault for nearly two centuries! 2. "Fire in a Crowded Theater" Fast forward exactly 1 century. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is now Chief Justice, and the "budding Empire" is now fully fledged, not content with spreading its eagle wings over its own continent, but, since the Monroe Doctrine, having declared its hegemony over the Western hemisphere, tightening such with the Spanish American war, the result of which sees it slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, when they declare their own right to "freedom of speech" and an independent republic! Up to my own boyhood in New York City, Oliver Wendell Holmes' father's poem, "Old Ironsides," was still standard 9th grade fare. They say the acorn doesn't fall far from the oak, and we may discern something of his son's patriotic fervor in his father's bombastic poem about a War of 1812 ship about to be scuttled. Here's the middle stanza: Her deck, once red with heroes' blood, Where knelt the vanquished foe, When winds were hurrying o'er the flood, And waves were white below, No more shall feel the victor's tread, Or know the conquered knee, The harpies of the shore shall pluck The eagle of the sea! The "hero's blood" with which Oliver, Jr. wanted to anoint the world, the "victor's tread" he wanted to protect, belonged to those dough boys drafted to fight Mr. Wilson's "War To End All Wars." A group of peace nicks had tried to exercise their freedom of speech, by distributing flyers opposed to the draft. When the case of "Schenck vs the United States" came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Holmes argued in favor of abridging free speech, asserting: "The most stringent protection of free speech, would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater and causing panic.   

Israeli Website Caught Ciber Spying.

Websense Security Labs, and the Websense Threat Seeker Network, have detected that the Israeli websites ict.org.il and herzliyaconference.org have been involved in a "waterhole" attack, and are injected with malicious  code that serves as an exploit for Internet Explorer vulnerability CVE-2012-4969. Unfortunately, I have been used to Israeli treachery during my service as Intelligence Operations Officer under Colonel Akkula. You see, before I volunteered my service in Vietnam, I intercepted an Israeli message that our so-called "Ally" had used our aircraft to destroy the USS Liberty with all of our sailors on board. At the time, I had been ordered by Colonel Akkula to bring this piece of Israeli treachery to the attention of General Sherrer, the commander of our unit. Since my colonel asked me to bring the sad news to our General, while I stood behind his door. Of course, our General was horrified: With friends like Israel, we have no need of enemies! In other words, Israel has always been an enemy of our United States, while they still needed our "free" aircraft and other US benefits. So, the Cyber Spying incident is nothing new to me. The malicious code, identified as CVE-2012-4969, an internet Explorer vulnerability that was verified as zero day at the time, and was found to be exploited in the wild on 23rd of January 2013. At the time of this writing, the malicious code from as early as 23rd of January is nothing new to me. As long as we continue to supply Israel with free military equipment, they will continue to make fools of us, and our government.


Stuart Littlewood: Zionist Terror Plan is Legitimized by half wits in the West!

Another dirty word in the conspiracy to steal the land of Palestine. I have to admit, I was only dimly aware of the Dalet Plan, before reading Alan Hart's latest article: The green light for Zionism's ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The Dalet Plan, or Plan D, was the Zionist terror mob's diabolical blueprint for the violent and blood spattered takeover of the Palestinian homeland. Some call it the Palestinian holocaust, written 65 years ago, and based on three earlier schemes drafted between 1945 and 1948. It was drawn up by the Jewish underground militia, the Haganah, at the behest of David Ben Gurian, then boss of the Jewish Agency. Plan D was a carefully thought out, step by step plot choreographed in advance of the British mandate government's withdrawal,, and the Zionists' declaration of Israeli statehood. It correctly assumed that the British authorities would no longer be there. Indeed, the British had completed their departure by 15 May 1948. The Plan's intention, on the surface, was to gain control of the areas of the Jewish state, and defend its borders, but it also aimed to do much more. It included measures to control the areas of Jewish settlements and concentrations located outside Jewish borders, and ensure freedom of military and economic activity, by occupying and controlling important high ground positions on a number of transport routes. This would be achieved by, among other things, applying economic pressure on the enemy by besieging some of his cities, encirclement of enemy cities, and blocking the main enemy transportation routes, Roads, bridges, main passes, important crossroads, path, etc. must be blocked by acts of sabotage, explosions, barricades, mine fields, as well as by controlling the elevations near roads, and taking up positions there. Jewish forces would occupy the police stations, described as fortresses, fifty of which had been built by the British throughout Palestine after the Arab unrest of 1936-39. The Plan discussed operations against enemy population centers located inside, or near our defensive system, in order to prevent them from being used as bases by an active armed force. These operations included Destruction of villages, setting fire to, blowing up and planting mines in the debris, especially those population centers, which are difficult to control continuously.   

Prof. James Tracy: The Politics of Imagined Opinion!

Where do you locate yourself on the political spectrum? Are you a liberal or a conservative? On the left, the right, or perhaps you are a bit of both. It is no secret that American mass culture often blunts the capacity for civic engagement and political awareness, yet those who pursue an identity in acceptable political dialogue, are less aware of how the parameters of American politics have been carefully crafted to elicit vicarious, and seemingly meaningful participation for the politically inclined. This is at least partially, because political elites have for close to a century, carefully crafted and presided over a political universe of smoke and mirrors for their subjects. One where citizens think and act, as if they have political choices and agency, thereby perpetuating the myth of democratic participation and enfranchisement. Thinking along these lines, is apparent in the almost century old writings of the well known American political commentator Walter Lippmann. Lippmann's many observations on media and public opinion, are significant not just because he was a distinctly influential and gifted commentator, but also because of his many close working relationships and affinities with the most powerful financial and political elites of his day. In fact, historian Carroll Quigley recognizes Lippmann as the authentic spokesman in American journalism for the Anglo American Establishments on both sides of the Atlantic in international affairs. As World War One concluded, Lippmann played a central role in recruiting intellectual talent for the Inquiry, a group of several dozen analysts, set up by the Wilson administration, and powerful Wall Street bankers and oil barons, to ostensibly establish plans for a peace settlement, what eventually crystallized as Wilson's Fourteen Points, and a transnational system of governance, called the League of Nations, most Americans rejected. In reality, the Inquiry was a philosophical and functional precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, gathering, analyzing, and producing recommendations on how the bankers and oil men should proceed with maintenance of their overseas assets, in a vastly rearranged geopolitical environment.  

Sami Jamil Jadallah: It Is Only $60 Billions, Nothing Honorable About It

If one is to look at facts on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, one can see the biggest international failures and fraud in US history. Not only did the military fail big time, but the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan was a total disaster. The recent report, issued by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, released a few days ago, is an indictment of the failures of Congress, the White House, the Pentagon and the State, doing their job, and the mishandling of reconstruction, with over $60 Billions simply wasted. Add to this the over $90 Billions for reconstruction of Afghanistan, with Afghanistan looking worse now than before the invasion. This is not a few millions here, this is $60 Billions simply wasted. Add to this the over $90 Billion for reconstruction of Afghanistan, with Afghanistan looking worse now than before the invasion. This is not a few million here, this is $60 Billions, no small sum of money by any means. This report coincided with the BBC. The Guardian recent report of US military partnership and management of training sectarian militias, that simply killed, murdered and tortured Iraqis, engaging in systematic torture, that should have sent military commanders, including Pentagon officials right to the Hague. It seems the Pentagon of the Axis of Evil, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, could not do anything right. They enlisted was criminals, to manage the insurrections in post occupied Iraq, and invited a bunch of crooks to manage the reconstruction. The US action sowed the seeds of a corrupt, sectarian and criminal regime in Iraq, no different from that of the late Saddam Hussein. According to Bob Adelmann of the New Americans, the costs of the war, when officially ended on December 15, 2011, have cost American tax payers more than $800 billion in direct expenses, and another estimated $1 trillion in additional health costs, for those wounded in the war. Joseph Stiglitz, co author of the "The Three Trillion War" arrived at $3 trillion, as a conservative estimate. Every American citizen using a calculator, knows what $60 Billion can do for their community, for their state, and certainly for their cities. The US and for the last three decades, with some minor exceptions, is looking more and more like a third world country, corrupt, incompetent, with a government that is paralyzed by political ideologies, and a Congress beholding to foreign lobby and corporate interests, rather than taxpayers and constituents. 


Tracy Bloom: Rand Paul, Truthdigger of the Week!

The confirmation of John Brennan, the man tapped by President Obama to head the Central Intelligence Agency, appeared to be a slam dunk. That is, until Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, took to the Senate floor to begin a lengthy filibuster of Brennan's nomination, that served as a scathing indictment of the Obama administration's targeted killings policy: "I will speak until I can no longer speak," Paul, who vehemently opposed Brennan's nomination, said on the Senate floor shortly before noon Eastern time Wednesday, as he began his old school style talking filibuster. "I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to cost, that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil, without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court." By its end, nearly 13 hours later, Paul had indeed sounded the alarm bells over the administration's deeply troubling policy. His talking filibuster was a rarity in the Senate, which nowadays allows its members to "filibuster" by refusing to end debate, or proceed with a nomination, unless a majority 60 vote thresh hold is met. The last time the kind of talking filibuster that Paul mounted, happened was more than two years ago, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took the Senate floor to stall a tax cut deal. By using the procedural tactic the way it was intended, Paul pressed his case against the administration's controversial drone strike policy, which potentially allows the government to target American citizens on US soil in extraordinary circumstances. This policy itself represents nothing short of an egregious violation of the US Constitution's Fifth Amendment guarantee, that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, and of American civil liberties in general. This is an issue that should unite both sides of the political spectrum. Yet, it was Republicans, most notably the junior senator from Kentucky, and aided by others in the GOP, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Utah Senator Mike Lee, who led the charge to get Attorney General Eric Holder to clarify whether the administration believed it had the power to use unmanned aerial drones within the US to kill its own citizens.     

Alexander Reed Kelly: Truthdigger of the Week, Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Wednesday. He was 58. For two years, an unspecified cancer in his lower body resisted surgery and treatment, and ultimately carried him away from the people who came to love him during his 14 year rule. Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara wrote, the day after Chavez's death, the president earned the love of Venezuelans at home, and leftists across the world, for combining "the fiery rhetoric of Italian fascism" with the egalitarian priorities of Scandinavian socialism. The progressive social and economic policies he instituted from his election in 1999 onward, inspired the business class that he was successfully tethering to plot his death or disappearance. In 2002, an American supported attempt to oust Chavez failed. Afterward, the privately owned media in the United States and Venezuela relentlessly sought to portray him as a dictator. What were his achievements? One of Chavez's first acts was to nationalize Venezuela's oil industry. Before Chavez, the oil supply was privately owned. A small class of monopoly holding elites, sold the oil to the United States at low cost, and took the profits for themselves. Chavez immediately raised the prices, and sold the oil to the United States at low cost, and took the profits for themselves. Chavez immediately raised the prices, and sold the oil directly to purchasing countries. As he explained in an interview with "Democracy Now", this eliminated the speculators in the middle, and allowed Venezuela to provide Latin America and Caribbean countries with cheap fuel. Chavez used Venezuela's oil profits to end illiteracy, provide elementary high school and college education, help poor mothers cover the cost of raising their families, expand and increase retirement benefits, provide neighborhood doctors to all communities, and launch massive housing construction programs. He cut poverty in half, and reduced extreme poverty by two thirds. Venezuela was transformed from the most unequal country in Latin America to the least. Democracy thrived as well. More than 30,000 newly created neighborhood councils gave members of the public the means to have their wants and needs heard. In 2005, Chavez declared himself a socialist, but not in the authoritarian mold of the Soviet Union under Stalin. He vowed his commitment to a socialism that was participatory and fully democratic. The political variety would exist alongside the economic kind.        

Sartre Batar: John O Brennan, CIA Drone Director!

Well, Barak Obama got his wish on the second try. With the confirmation of John Owen Brennan by the Senate, the CIA has a new director from their own ranks. Brennan's 25 years with the CIA, included work as a Near East and South Asia analyst, as station chief in Saudi Arabia, and as director of the National Counter terrorism Center. He proudly attests, "I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I've worked for the past five administrations." Imagine a non partisan spook as D/CIA. If this development is intended to restore confidence in the agency, just what kind of organization will emerge from a careerist covert agent at the helm? The role of a spy network is to obtain intelligence, and analyze the significance of information on advocacies bent on causing harm to our national security. Notwithstanding its long history, the CIA has departed from the art of spying, and often substituted the belligerent waging of combat outside the international general rules of war. The aftermaths of condoning a sub rosa intervention, in place of a declared military action, has transformed and prevented the meaning and legitimacy of a valid national security function. The net result of sanctioning operations outside the command of the military branches, has allowed the CIA to evolve into a free lance warfare entity, that often betrays the constitutional republic. Loyalty to the "Agency" often supersedes a pledge of allegiance to the nation. Within this context, the Brennan appointment signals a dangerous escalation of black op missions, using mercenary contractors, which conceal political fallout, and provide the cover of plausible deniability. The use of CIA drones to assassinate expected terrorists with impunity, is a major technological departure from intelligence gathering. The indiscriminate elimination of suspected targets with drone bombing, that knowingly causes collateral damage, is a war crime. The institutional operatives of the agency discard the fact, that America is less secure from the inevitable blow-back, that such killing produces. The recent Drone Strikes Protest provides some of the real inconvenient truths about the reign of terror from Hellfire missiles. Brennan has continuously denied that drones cause collateral damage, claiming in a July 2011 speech, that not a single collateral death had taken place as a result of drone strikes in Pakistan, a view he continued to uphold during his Senate hearings.   


Preston James PhD: Belt Way Whoppers.

The US government is based on very, very big lies. Even before World War 1, and afterwards, our government has a sordid history of big lies, While many of them are absurd, ridiculous lies the public will accept: Almost everything the US Government states officially is a lie! It's all necessary in order for our government to control our people. A bodyguard of lies protect the US Government from exposure of their New World Order Globe agenda against the American People. As Winston Churchill said during the Second World War, truth was so important to victory, that it must be protected by a bodyguard of lies. If the enemy were able to find out the truth, of the Allies' secret plans and deceptions, especially regarding the upcoming Invasion, the war might have been lost. Churchill identified the maintaining of deception as a primary factor in obtaining victory. The US Government uses lies as a technique of major deception. We can now assume that the US government is using major deception in a well organized attempt to obtain their victory, in a covert war against the American people, a war that most only makes sense, and few know the specifics of, but the numbers of those who know the specifics are growing by leaps and bounds every day, thanks to the alternative media on the world wide Internet. The US Government must lie to the American people, to obtain their objectives in a war against the American People. Why then, is the US Government lying about everything to the American people? What is the covert war against the American people all about, and whose interests are they fighting for? The US government is conducting a long term covert war against its own citizens to subdue them, and make them good NWO (New World Order) global citizens.The answer is, that the US Government is like every other large contemporary nation state is technically at war with its people, because most large governments of the world see their people as an enemy to be conned, subdued and entrained with New World Order Globalist values and expectations. This must be done to represent those interests of the folks, who put them in power, and essentially own them.  

Stephen Lendman: Chavez, Visionary Leader Extraordinaire!

He and Castro matter most. They don't come any better. They transformed their countries responsibly. Doing so made the impossible possible. They did it against long odds. They won the hearts and minds. Castro did it his way. Chavez chose a Venezuelan model. He envisioned socialism for the 21st century. He wanted it based on solidarity, fraternity, love, justice, liberty and equality. He wanted it built bottom up. He deplored top down. Popular protagonism over bureaucracy was policy. He abhorred neoliberal harshness. He called it incompatible with democracy. He wanted another way. His legacy reflects his accomplishments. Eva Golinger knew Chavez. She called him a grandiose visionary dream maker. Venezuelans loved him, so did millions worldwide. They did so for good reason: He cared, He made a difference. His achievements are remarkable. They can't be ignored. He was honest, said Golinger. His roots were humble, since he grew up in a mud hut, selling candies on streets. He did so to earn money for his family. He dreamed of building a strong, sovereign nation, independent of foreign influence. He dreamed of improving the lives of his people. He wanted poverty eradicated, for a better life for Venezuelans, and called it the good life. He made dreams come true, achieving remarkable changes. They are more than just numbers: He transformed one of Latin America's most unequal countries into its most equitable. At the same time, he achieved impressive economic growth, in 14 years. He spoke truth to power, since it matters, and he cared about Venezuela's most disadvantaged, lifting them from poverty, providing education, healthcare, affordable food, housing, and hope. At the same time, he recognized the rights of the disabled, of indigenous people, all genders and sexualities, breaking down the barriers of racism and classism, and declared himself a socialist feminist. He not only made his own dreams come true, but he inspired as all to achieve our fullest potential. I am just a soldier, he said. America wanted him dead. Bush failed several times to remove him, while Obama tried to kill him. Toppling foreign leaders by coups or assassination is US policy. William Blum has done some of the best research, including his book "Rogue State" They are must reading. He documented dozens of successful and failed post WW II US interventions, including toppling Iran's Mohammad Mossaddegh in 1953, the CIA's first successful coup. Ousting Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, failing to kill China's Chou En Lai in 1955, failing to kill Fidel Castro, failing to kill France's Charles de Gaulle, plotting Gaddafi's assassination for decades, and very likely killing Chavez.   

Michel Chossudovsky: Israel, A De Facto Member of NATO!

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen received Israel's president Shimon Peres at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 7. The order of the day: To enhance military cooperation between Israel and the Atlantic Alliance, focusing on issues of counter terrorism. Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained, and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation, so we can fight global terror together, and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces, including Afghanistan. Israel is already involved in covert operations, and non conventional warfare in liaison with the US and NATO. This agreement is of particular significance, because it deepens the Israeli NATO relationship beyond the so called Mediterranean Dialogue. The joint statement points to an Israel NATO partnership in the fight against terror, and the search for peace, in the Middle East and the world. What this suggests, is the participation of Israel in active theater warfare alongside NATO, ie, as a de facto member of the Atlantic Alliance. In other words, Israel would be directly involved were US NATO to launch an outright military operation against Syria, Lebanon, or Iran. Israel offered to assist NATO in counter terrorism operations directed against Hezbollah and Iran. The two agreed during their discussions, that Israel and NATO are partners in the fight against terror, the statement said. President Peres stressed the need to maintain and increase the cooperation between Israel and NATO, and Israel's ability to cooperation, and provide technological assistance, and knowledge from the vast experience Israel had gained in the field of counter terrorism. Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained , and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation, so we can fight global terror together, and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces, including in Afghanistan, Peres told Rasmussen. It is worth noting that in November 2004 in Brussels, NATO and Israel signed an important bilateral protocol, which paved the way for the holding of joint NATO Israel military exercises. A follow up agreement was signed in March 2005 in Jerusalem, between NATO's Secretary General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.            


The Economist: Venezuela after Chavez. Now for the reckoning!g

In the flesh he seemed indestructible. Hugo Chavez was not especially tall, but he was built like one of the tanks he once commanded. He was possessed of seemingly inexhaustible energy. He traveled incessantly, both around his vast country and abroad. Each Sunday, he would host live television shows lasting up to 12 hours. He would ring up ministers in the early hours of the morning to harangue them. For 14 years, everything that happened in Venezuela passed through his hands, or so he liked to think. Yet Mr Chavez turned out to have been as reckless with his health, as with his country's economy and its economy and its democracy. Those late nights were fueled by dozens of cups of sweet Venezuelan coffee. When in mid 2011, he revealed that he had been operated on for cancer, the lack of detail "a baseball sized tumor in the pelvic region" suggested that the diagnosis had come late. He turned down an offer of care from a Brazilian hospital that has recently cured three Latin American presidents of cancer, preferring treatment in Cuba, where his condition could be kept secret. Rather than stand aside from the presidency, he insisted that he could run his country from his Havana sickbed. After another two operations and chemotherapy, he declared himself cured. Addicted to the drugs of power and popular acclaim, he campaigned for, and won yet another six year term in an election last October. During the campaign, it was clear to those not blinded by loyalty, that Mr Chavez was still a sick man. After the election, he dropped out of sight, before making the somber announcement on December 8th, that he was going back to Cuba for yet another operation. If the worst happened, he said, Venezuelans should vote for Nicholas Maduro, his foreign minister and appointed vice president, as his successor. The six hour operation did not go well. After weeks, in which close family kept a bedside vigil, joined at times by senior officials, Mr Chavez returned home last month, to die on March 5th, at the age of 58. To the end, Mr Chavez's rule was narcissistic, with country and constitution subordinated to his whim. In the tradition of the Latin American "caudillo", he wanted to die with his boots on. When he was too ill to be sworn in for his new term on January 10th, his officials, with Cuban support, resolved to disregard the constitution that he himself had pushed through in 1999, and declared that the inauguration could happen at a later date. It will be harder for them to avoid the constitution's requirement, that in the event of the President's death, an election must be held within 30 days, though in practice a poll may be difficult to organize in such a short period.    

Tom Burghardt: Wall Street Banks, Money Laundering and the Drug Trade!.

Once upon a time, Al Capone said: You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun, than you can with a kind word alone! In Reckless Endangerment, a lively expose of the frauds at the heart of the sub prime meltdown, journalists Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner wrote that if "mortgage originators like Nova Star or Countrywide were the Gretchen Morgenson, and Joshua Rosner wrote that if "mortgage originators like Nova Star or Countrywide were the equivalent of drug pushers, hanging around a schoolyard, and the ratings agencies were the narcotic cops looking the other way, brokerage firms providing capital to anything goes lenders were the overseers of the cartel." Their observations are the most relevant, given the outrageous behavior by major banks, which polluted an already terminally corrupt financial system, with blood spattered cash, siphoned off from the global drug trade. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to insist that drug money, laundered by financial giants like HSBC and Wachovia were in fact, little more than "hedges" designed to offset losses in residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS), sliced and diced into toxic collateralized debt obligations, as the 2007 to 2008 global economic crisis cratered the capitalist "free market." And like Wachovia's ill fated $25.5 billion buy out of Golden West Financial World Savings Bank at the top of the market in 2006, HSBC's 2002 purchase of Household International and its mortgage unit, Household Finance Corporation, for the then princely sum of $15.2 billion, also proved to be a proverbial deal too far. Evidence suggests that HSBC stepped up money laundering for their cartel clients, as the hyper inflated real estate bubble collapsed. Along with other self styled masters of the universe, who were bleeding cash faster than you can say credit default swaps, HSBC posted 2008 projected first quarter losses of "$17.2 billion, after the decline of the US housing market hid the value of its loans," according to BBC News. From there, RMBS deficits skyrocketed. By 2010, as Senate and Justice Department investigators were taking a hard look at bank shenanigans, Reuters reported that HSBC Holdings was "working off $20 billion worth of loans per year, in its US Household Finance Corp unit", where "liabilities stood at about $70 billion." However, if you slice today's epidemic of financial corruption, a trend already clear two decades ago, when economists George Akerlof and Paul Romer, published their seminal paper, Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit. Incentives were huge, as senior bank executives inflated their balance sheets with "criminal proceeds likely to have amounted to some 3.6 per cent of GDP, or around US $2.1 trillion in 2009," according to 2011 estimate by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).      

Dean Henderson: The 911 Illusion, Deutsche Bank & Blackstone!

Around the same time a Navy Seal team was descending upon the Abbottabad complex, allegedly housing Osama bin Laden, the US Justice Department was suing Deutsche Bank. Bin Laden was a disciple of Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdullah Azzam. Abbottabad is named after British military officer Sir James Abbott. In a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, US Attorney Preet Bharara was seeking damages and losses on Deutsche Bank issued mortgages backed by US taxpayers via HUD. The world's third largest bank is majority owned by the Warburg dynasty that funded Hitler. It also needs to answer for its role in short trades, made just prior to 911. Deutsche Bank Goes Short. Days after 911, Bush SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt, who was later forced to resign over his pathetic response to a series of corporate scandals, appeared on CNN, to reveal a pattern of unusually heavy volumes of short selling of both airline and insurance stocks in the week prior to 9/11. Pitt vowed to track these trades down, speculating that al Qaeda may have been involved. It was the last time anyone in the Bush Administration mentioned it. According to the Herzliya International Institute for Counter Terrorism, Sept. 21, 2001, an Israeli anti terrorism organization, the ringleader in shorting these stocks was Deutsche Bank Alex Brown. An article in Barons corroborates this fact. American and United Airlines, and the reinsurance giants who covered the WTC, Munich RE, Swiss RE, and the French Axa, were specifically targeted. On September 10th, a day before the attacks, the put/call ratios on these stocks was unprecedented. A put is a futures option that bets on a stock's decline, while a call is a futures option that bets that the stock will go up. On September 10, 2001 at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, there were 4,516 puts on American Airlines, to only 748 calls. United Airlines was targeted for 4,744 puts, as opposed to 396 calls. The numbers on the reinsurance companies were similarly lopsided. By far the biggest trader of the put options was Deutsche Bank Alex Brown, the US trading arm of Deutsche Bank, which bought traditional Eight Families' wealth repository and largest Four Horsemen shareholder Banker's Trust in 1999, to become the world's largest bank, with $882 billion in assets. In 2001, Senator Carl Levin's (D-MI) Banking Committee fingered Banker's Trust as a major player in drug money laundering. On August 28th, just two weeks before 911, Deutsche Bank executive Kevin Ingram pled guilty to laundering heroin proceeds, and arranging US weapons sales to parties in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A June 15, 2001 New York Post article said Osama bin Laden was the likely buyer. Ingram is a close friend of Clinton Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs insider Robert Rubin, most recently a board member at Citigroup. Ingram earlier worked at both Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers.