Archive | May 25th, 2011

Protecting Us from Our Freedoms


Congress Set to Renew Patriot Act Spy Provisions

By Tom Burghardt

Global Research

Antifascist Calling…

As night follows day, you can count on Congress to serve as loyal servants and willing accomplices of our out-of-control National Security State.

Last week, in another shameless demonstration of congressional “bipartisanship,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) forged a filthy backroom deal that reauthorizes insidious surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act for an additional four years.

“Like clockwork,” the ACLU reports, Reid and McConnell “introduced a bill, S. 1038, that will extend the provisions until June 1, 2015.” As of this writing, the text of that measure has yet to be published.

And, like a faint echo from the past when the Patriot Act was signed into law nearly a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 provocation and the anthrax attacks, the ACLU tells us that “the Senate begins its debate on Monday with votes possible that same night.”

But why not forego a vote altogether. After all, with the White House “skipping a legal deadline to seek congressional authorization of the military action in Libya” under the War Powers Act, “few on the Hill are objecting,” the Associated Press reports.

Why not extend congressional “courtesy” to the White House over demands that their illegal spying on Americans continue indefinitely “as long as consultations with Congress continue”?

Consensus by congressional Democrats and Republicans over extending the provisions, the World Socialist Web Site reports, “meets the demands of the Obama administration and the Justice Department for a ‘clean’ extension, that is, one that does not make any concessions to concerns over the infringement of civil liberties, particularly in relation to the authorization to seize the records of libraries and other institutions.”

“The idea,” the Associated Press informs us, “is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government.” (emphasis added)

While most of the surveillance powers handed the security apparat were permanent, three controversial provisions had expiration dates attached to the law due to the potential for serious civil rights abuses. Such suspicions were certainly warranted as dozens of reports by Congress and the Justice Department, media investigations and Freedom of Information Act and other lawsuits subsequently disclosed.

The provisions set for renewal include the following:

• The “roving wiretap” provision grants the FBI authority to obtain wiretaps from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) under color of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and its bastard stepchild, the FISA Amendments Act, which granted retroactive immunity to the government’s telecommunications’ partners. This section of the law allows the Bureau to spy on anyone of “interest” to the FBI during the course of a “national security” investigation, without identifying a specific target to be surveilled or which communication medium will be tapped. Anyone caught in the FBI’s surveillance dragnet can themselves come under scrutiny, even if they were not named in the original warrant. Insidiously, under the “roving wiretap” provision, even if a warrant is executed by a judge in one jurisdiction, it can be made valid anywhere in the United States, solely on the say-so of the FBI. Essentially, this amounts to the issuance of a blank warrant that further marginalizes the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that warrants are only issued “particularly describing the place to be searched.”

• Section 215, the so-called “business records” provision, allows FISC warrants for virtually any type of record or “tangible thing:” banking and financial statements, credit card purchases, travel itineraries, cell phone bills, medical histories, you name it, without government snoops having to declare that the information they seek has any connection whatsoever to a terrorism, espionage or “national security” investigation. The government does not have to demonstrate “probable cause.” Government officials need only certify to a judge, without providing evidence or proof, that the search meets the statute’s overly-broad requirements and the court has been stripped of its authority to reject the state’s application. Surveillance orders under Section 215 can even be based on a person’s protected First Amendment activities: the books they read, web sites searched or articles they have published. In other words, exercising free speech under the Constitution can become the basis for examining personal records. Third parties served with such sweeping orders are prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone. In fact, with built-in gag orders forbidding disclosure subjects may never know they have be scrutinized by federal authorities, thereby undercutting their ability to challenge illegitimate searches.

• The “lone wolf” provision, a particularly onerous and intrusive investigative device allows the federal government to spy on individuals not connected to a terrorist organization but who may share ideological affinities with groups deemed suspect by the secret state. The definition of who may be a “lone wolf” is so vague that it greatly expands the category of individuals who may be monitored by the security apparat.

After Congress passed several earlier extensions, the three provisions were set to “sunset” on February 28, 2011. But with the Obama administration and the FBI insisting that no new civil liberties protections be added that would undercut their domestic spying powers, a 90-day temporary extension was approved earlier this year and is now set to expire on May 27.

This temporary extension followed an embarrassing loss in early February by the House Republican leadership who had failed to win a two-thirds majority passage of the proposal which barred amendments. In fact, 26 newly-elected Republican members, including those self-identified with the so-called “Tea Party” caucus, joined 122 Democrats in opposition and defeated the bill.

While Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have urged Congress to extend the provisions, permanently if possible or for an extended period if not, because they allege short-term extensions have a deleterious effect on “counterterrorism investigations” and “increase the uncertainties borne by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies in carrying out their missions.” Such mendacious claims however, are not borne out by the facts.

Indeed, the Department of Justice’s own Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) 2008 report found that “[t]he evidence showed no instance where the information obtained from a Section 215 order described in the body of the report resulted in a major investigative development.”

True enough as far as it goes, but such snooping provided an unprecedented view of the comings and goings of citizens now subjects of scattershot data-mining, dossier building and ginned-up federal prosecutions.

In fact, the OIG demonstrated conclusively that widespread abuses by the FBI in their issuance of constitution-shredding National Security Letters, handed out without probable cause and attached with built-in secret gag orders, have been used by the Bureau to target innocent Americans.

While Barack Obama promised to curtail the worst abuses of the previous administration when he assumed office in January 2009, the Justice Department reported there has been a huge increase in domestic spying during the first two years of his administration.

As Antifascist Calling reported earlier this month, according to figures supplied by the Justice Department “in 2010, the FBI made 24,287 NSL requests (excluding requests for subscriber information only) for information concerning United States persons. These sought information pertaining to 14,212 different United States persons.” Additionally, the FBI made 96 applications to the rubber-stamp FISC court in 2010 on 215 orders, a four-fold increase over 2009.

None of this should come as a shock to readers. As I have pointed out many times, the Obama administration has not simply extended the previous regime’s assault on civil liberties and political rights but has greatly accelerated the downward spiral towards a presidential dictatorship lorded-over by the Pentagon and the national security apparat.

Justice Department Stonewall Continues

Moves to renew the Patriot Act’s spy provisions follow closely on the heels of administration demands to expand the scope of National Security Letters. As The Washington Post reported last summer, the White House “is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.”

“The administration,” the Post disclosed, “wants to add just four words–‘electronic communication transactional records’– to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval.”

“Government lawyers,” the Post averred, “say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history.”

Additionally, the White House is demanding that the manufacturers of electronic devices such as iPhones and Blackberries, as The New York Times revealed last fall, make their products “technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.” In other words, the state is demanding that government-mandated backdoors be built into the existing architecture of the internet in order to further facilitate driftnet spying.

Meanwhile, Obama’s Justice Department continues to stonewall Congress and privacy advocates “demanding the release of a secret legal memo used to justify FBI access to Americans’ telephone records without any legal process or oversight.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) disclosed that the secret state satrapy that brought us COINTELPRO and employed Al-Qaeda triple agent Ali Mohamed as a “confidential informant,” refuses to tell us what that authority is or how their abusive power-grab squares with rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

“A report released last year by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General,” EFF attorneys write, “revealed how the FBI, in defending its past violations of the Electronic Privacy Communications Act (ECPA), had come up with a new legal argument to justify secret, unchecked access to private telephone records.” The heavily-redacted report revealed that the “Office of the Legal Counsel (OLC) had issued a legal opinion agreeing with the FBI’s theory.”


“The decision not to release the memo,” McClatchy Newspapers reported last week, “is noteworthy because the Obama administration–in particular the Office of Legal Counsel–has sought to portray itself as more open than the Bush administration was.”

“By turning down the foundation’s request for a copy,” journalist Marisa Taylor writes, “the department is ensuring that its legal arguments in support of the FBI’s controversial and discredited efforts to obtain telephone records will be kept secret.”


“Even officials within the Justice Department itself are concerned that the FBI’s secret legal theory jeopardizes privacy and government accountability, especially considering the FBI’s demonstrated history of abusing surveillance law,” averred EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston.

“The Justice Department has said it can’t release the document for national security reasons,” McClatchy noted, “but it hasn’t elaborated on that assertion. At the same time, the department and the FBI have refused to comment on the legal position itself.”


According to published reports, “the bureau devised an informal system of requesting the records from three telecommunications firms to create what one agent called a ‘phone database on steroids’ that included names, addresses, length of service and billing information.”

The OIG later concluded, Taylor writes, “that the FBI and employees of the telecom companies treated Americans’ telephone records in such an informal and cavalier way that in some cases the bureau abused its authority.”

Last year the Inspector General’s report asserted that “the OLC agreed with the FBI that under certain circumstances (word or words redacted) allows the FBI to ask for and obtain these records on a voluntary basis from the providers, without legal process or a qualifying emergency.”

That report “A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of Exigent Letters and Other Informal Requests for Telephone Records,” revealed widespread abuses by the Bureau and their telecom partners.

So-called “exigent” or emergency letters were used by the FBI to illegally obtain the phone records of thousands of Americans. According to an earlier report by EFF, “while we had known since 2007 that the FBI improperly sought phone records by falsely asserting emergency circumstances, the report shows the situation inside the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit (CAU) degenerated even further, sometimes replacing legal process with sticky notes.”

Senior staff attorney Kurt Opsahl wrote at the time that “employees of three telecoms,” since identified as AT&T, Verizon and MCI, “worked directly out of the CAU office, right next to their FBI colleagues.”

According to the Inspector General’s report, Opsahl averred, “even exigent letters became too much work: an FBI analyst explained that ‘it’s not practical to give the [exigent letter] for every number that comes in.’ Instead, the telecoms would provide phone records pursuant to verbal requests and even post-it notes with a phone number stuck on the carrier reps’ workstations.”

As Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald writes, “the way a republic is supposed to function is that there is transparency for those who wield public power and privacy for private citizens.”

However, “the National Security State has reversed that dynamic completely, so that the Government (comprised of the consortium of public agencies and their private-sector ‘partners’) knows virtually everything about what citizens do, but citizens know virtually nothing about what they do (which is why WikiLeaks specifically and whistleblowers generally, as one of the very few remaining instruments for subverting that wall of secrecy, are so threatening to them).”

“Fortified by always-growing secrecy weapons,” Greenwald avers, “everything they do is secret–including even the ‘laws’ they secretly invent to authorize their actions–while everything you do is open to inspection, surveillance and monitoring.”

“This is what the Surveillance State, at its core, is designed to achieve,” Greenwald cautions, “the destruction of privacy for individual citizens and an impenetrable wall of secrecy for those with unlimited surveillance power.”

As this filthy system continues to implode amidst an orgy of financial and political corruption that would make a Roman emperor blush, the capitalist oligarchy is hell-bent on shielding themselves from any meaningful oversight or accountability, thus ensuring that the secret state’s war on democracy itself continues.

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Hassan Nasrallah Backs Murders in Syria


He is backing the murderous President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. Because if he didn’t, he would lose the support of the Iranian regime and their money.

Since the uprising against the Syrian dictators some 1100 people have been killed by the regime and their thugs, according to Sawasiah, ABC News reports:

“Human rights activists in Syria say the two-month crackdown by security forces on anti-government protesters has cost the lives of at least 1,100 people.

The Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah says it has the names of 1,100 people reportedly killed during the unrest that broke out in mid-March.

Most were from southern areas in Hauran Plain – including the city of Deraa where the protests first began two months ago.

The human rights group says it in fact has heard reports of another 200 civilian deaths but has no names to base the figures on.

The death toll in Syria rose sharply after the protests spread from Deraa to other parts of the country.”

Yahoo News has more on Nasrallah’s speech:

” “We call on all Syrians to preserve their country as well as the ruling regime, a regime of resistance, and to give their leaders a chance to cooperate with all Syria’s communities in order to implement the necessary reforms,” he said in the speech broadcast by his party’s Al-Manar television.

The speech, marking the 11th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation, was broadcast on a giant screen to thousands of Hezbollah supporters in the village of Nabi Sheet, a Shiite stronghold in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

It was the first time the reclusive Hezbollah chief commented on the protests in Syria, which along with Iran is a major backer of his Shiite militant party.

“The difference between the Arab uprisings and Syria… is that President Assad is convinced that reforms are necessary, unlike Bahrain and other Arab countries,” said Nasrallah, who has not


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Zionist Obama backtracks on 1967 comments at AIPAC meeting

In his address to the influential pro-Zionist lobby in the U.S., AIPAC, President Barack Obama has backtracked from earlier remarks regarding an Zionist-Palestinian agreement based on their pre-1967 borders, suggesting Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu had misrepresented him.

Speaking in Washington to a welcoming crowd of Zionis hard-line supporters, Obama said delays in moving toward a two-state solution would undermine Zionist’s security.

“There was nothing particularly original in my proposal,” Obama told an estimated 10,000 delegations to the powerful pro-Zionist  lobby, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “This basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations,” AFP reported on Sunday.


However, during his Thursday speech, the U.S. chief executive had called on IsraHell to accept a return to territorial lines in place before the 1967 Arab-IsraHell war.

His comments had drawn pro-Zio-Nazi fire, forcing the president to retract after Netanyahu emphatically rejected the call to return to the pre-1967 lines on Friday, saying it would make the Zionist regime indefensible and isolate the illegal Nazi settlements in the West Bank.

But Obama said his position has “been misrepresented several times,” adding that mutually agreed swaps means that IsraHell would not be returning to the pre-1967 lines.

“If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance,” Obama said.

“What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace,” he said.

“The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel would only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve,” the president said.

His remarks on the controversy — coming on the eve of Netanyahu’s own speech to AIPAC — received loud applause from the thousands of delegates who drowned out a few boos.

Netanyahu on Saturday tried to play down a row with President Barack Obama, saying the rift between the leaders had been exaggerated.

Also well received was his promise to fight any efforts to isolate IsraHell at the United Nations, repeating that in such a case Palestinian efforts to win recognition as an independent state at the UN will fail.

He also sought to reassure Israel’s supporter of general U.S. support for Zionist security, a traditional line from American presidents.

“Even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and IsraHell are unbreakable, and the commitment of the United States to the security of IsraHell is ironclad,” Obama said to loud applause.

He also said Washington is going “beyond” regular military assistance to the Jewish state in order to help “maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.”



For more than half a century, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has worked to strengthen the U.S.-Zionist relationship. AIPAC

For many years AIPAC has falsely advertised IsraHell as a “democratic state” that best serves U.S. interests in a turbulent and unpredictable part of the world, covering up Zio-Nazi suppression of human rights and its very nature as an entity premised on fanatic militarism, racial segregation and injustice. Counterpunch

Each year, AIPAC is involved in more than 100 legislative and policy initiatives involving Middle East policy or aimed at broadening and deepening the U.S.-Zionist bond. AIPAC

AIPAC claims it “has a stranglehold on Congress.” With a $47 million a year budget and more than 100 full-time staffers, it is no doubt a formidable advocate for Israel’s interests.

AIPAC lobbyists with their Christian Zionist allies guarantee billions of dollars in military aid for Zionism  each year. AlterNet


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Is the US Driving the World Towards World War III


Osama’s Alleged Compound: How Many SEALs Died ?

Paul Craig Roberts



In a sensational and explosive TV report, the Pakistani News Agency has provided a live interview with an eye witness to the US attack on the alleged compound of Osama bin Laden. The eye witness, Mohammad Bashir, describes the event as it unfolded.Of the three helicopters, “there was only one that landed the men and came back to pick them up, but as he [the helicopter] was picking them up, it blew away and caught fire.” The witness says that there were no survivors, just dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. “We saw the helicopter burning, we saw the dead bodies, then everything was removed and now there is nothing.”

I always wondered how a helicopter could crash, as the White House reported, without at least producing injuries. Yet, in the original White House story, the SEALs not only survived a 40-minute firefight with al Qaeda, “the most highly trained, most dangerous, most vicious killers on the planet,” without a scratch, but also survived a helicopter crash without a scratch.

The Pakistani news report is available on You Tube. The Internet site, Veterans Today, posted a translation along with a video of the interview. And, Information Clearing House made it available on May 17.

If the interview is not a hoax and the translation is correct, we now know the answer to the unasked question: Why was there no White House ceremony with President Obama pinning medals all over the heroic SEALs who tracked down and executed Public Enemy Number One?

The notion that Obama had to keep the SEALs’ identity secret in order to protect the SEALs from al Qaeda detracts from the heroic tough-guy image of the SEALs, and it strains credulity that Obama’s political handlers would not have milked the occasion for all it is worth.

Other than on the Veterans Today and ICH Internet sites, I have not seen any mention of the Pakistani news story. If the White House press corps is aware of the report, no one has asked President Obama or his press spokesperson about it. Helen Thomas was the last American reporter sufficiently brave to ask such a question, and she was exterminated by the Israel Lobby.

In America we have reached the point where anyone who tells the truth is dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist” and marginalized. Recently, a professor of nano-chemistry from the University of Copenhagen made a lecture tour of major Canadian universities explaining the research, conducted by himself and a team of physicists and engineers, that resulted in finding small particles of unreacted  nano-thermite in dust samples from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers in addition to other evidence that the professor and the research team regard as conclusive scientific proof that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition.

No American university dared to invite him, and as far as I know no mention of the explosive research report has ever appeared in the American press.

I find it astonishing that 1,500 architects and engineers, who actually know something about buildings, their construction, their strength and weaknesses, and who have repeatedly requested a real investigation of the destruction of the three WTC buildings, are regarded as conspiracy kooks by people who know nothing whatsoever about architecture or engineering or buildings. The same goes for the large number of pilots who question the flight maneuvers carried out during the attacks, and the surviving firemen and “first responders” who report both hearing and personally experiencing explosions in the towers, some of which occurred in sub-basements.

A large number of high-ranking political figures abroad don’t believe a word of the official 9/11 story. For example, the former president of Italy and dean of the Italian Senate, told Italy’s oldest newspaper, Corriere delia Sera, that the intelligence services of Europe “know well that the disastrous [9/11] attack has been planned and realized by the American CIA and the [Israeli] Mossad . . . in order to put under accusation the Arabic Countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part in [the invasions].

Even people who report that there are dissenting views, as I have done, are branded conspiracy theorists and banned from the media. This extends into the Internet in addition to newspapers and TV. Not long ago a reporter for the Internet site, The Huffington Post, discovered that Pat Buchanan and I are critics of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. He was fascinated that there were some Reagan administration officials who dissented from the Republican Party’s war position and asked to interview me.

After he posted the interview on The Huffington Post, someone told him that I was not sound on 9/11. In a panic the reporter contacted me, demanding to know if I disbelieved the official 9/11 story. I replied that being neither architect, engineer, physicist, chemist, pilot, nor firefighter, I had little to contribute to understanding the event, but that I had reported that various experts had raised questions.

The reporter was terrified that he might somehow have given a 9/11 skeptic credibility and be fired for interviewing me about my war views for The Huffington Post. He quickly added at the beginning and, if memory serves, ending of the posted interview words to the effect that my lack of soundness on 9/11 meant that my views on the wars could be disregarded. If only he had known that I was unsure about the official 9/11 story, there would have been no interview.

One doesn’t have to be a scientist, architect, engineer, pilot or firefighter to notice astonishing anomalies in the 9/11 story. Assume that the official story is correct and that a band of terrorists outwitted not only the CIA and FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and those of our NATO allies and Israel’s notorious Mossad, along with the National Security Council, NORAD, air traffic control and airport security four times in one hour on the same morning. Accept that this group of terrorists pulled off a feat worthy of a James Bond movie and delivered a humiliating blow to the world’s only superpower.

If something like this really happened, would not the president, the Congress, and the media be demanding to know how such an improbable thing could have happened? Investigation and accountability would be the order of the day. Yet President Bush and Vice President Cheney resisted the pleas and demands for an investigation from the 9/11 families for one year, or was it two, before finally appointing a non-expert committee of politicians to listen to whatever the government chose to tell them. One of the politicians resigned from the commission on the grounds that “the fix is in.”

Even the two chairmen and the chief legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission wrote books in which they stated that they believe that members of the military and other parts of the government lied to the commission and that the commissionconsidered referring the matter for investigation and prosecution.

Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said: “FAA and NORAD officials advanced an account of 9/11 that was untrue . . . We, to this day don’t know why NORAD told us what they told us . . . It was just so far from the truth.”

Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said: “We had a very short time frame . . . we did not have enough money . . . We had a lot of people strongly opposed to what we did. We had a lot of trouble getting access to documents and to people. . . . So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail.”

As far as I know, not a single member of the government or the media made an issue of why the military would lie to the commission. This is another anomaly for which we have no explanation.

The greatest puzzle is the conclusion drawn by a national audience from watching on their TV screens the collapse of the WTC towers. Most seem satisfied that the towers fell down as a result of structural damage inflicted by the airliners and from limited, low-temperature fires. Yet what the images show is not buildings falling down, but buildings blowing up. Buildings that are destroyed by fires and structural damage do not disintegrate in 10 seconds or less into fine dust with massive steel beams sliced at each floor level by high temperatures that building fires cannot attain. It has never happened, and it never will.

Conduct an experiment. Free your mind of the programmed explanation of the towers’ destruction and try to discern what your eyes are telling you as you watch the videos of the towers that are available online. Is that the way buildings fall down from damage, or is that the way buildings are brought down by explosives? Little doubt, many Americans prefer the official story to the implications that follow from concluding that the official story is untrue.

If reports are correct, the US government has gone into the business of managing the public’s perceptions of news and events. Apparently, the Pentagon has implemented Perception Management Psychological Operations. There are also reports that the State Department and other government agencies use Facebook and Twitter to stir up problems for the Syrian, Iranian, Russian, Chinese, and Venezuela governmentsin efforts to unseat governments not controlled by Washington. In addition, there are reports that both governments and private organizations employ “trolls” to surf the Internet and to attempt to discredit in blogs and comment sections reports and writers who are out of step with their interests. I believe I have encountered trolls myself.

In addition to managing our perceptions, much is simply never reported. On May 19, 2011, the 14-decade-old British newspaper, The Statesman, reported that the Press Trust of India has reported that the Chinese government has warned Washington “in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China,” and advised the US government “to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

As trends forecaster Gerald Celente and I have warned, the warmongers in Washington are driving the world toward World War III. Once a country is captured by its military/security complex, the demand for profit drives the country deeper into war. Perhaps this news report from India is a hoax, or perhaps the never-diligent mainstream media will catch up with the news tomorrow, but so far this extraordinary warning from China has not been reported in the US media. [I had it posted on OEN.]

The mainstream media and a significant portion of the Internet are content for our perceptions to be managed by psy-ops and by non-reporting. This is why I wrote not long ago that today Americans are living in George Orwell’s 1984.

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The President Goes AIPACing


By Prof Lawrence Davidson

Part I – Doing the Domestic Political Dance


President Obama addressed the Zionist lobby AIPAC on 22 May 2011, just four days after his major televised 19 May address on the Middle East. In that earlier speech he paid attention to the popular uprisings going on in the region and placed himself, at least rhetorically, on the side of those seeking democratic reform. But then, in typical diplomatic fashion, he gave no indication that his administration would do anything forceful to prevent the current violent suppression of democratic protesters in those places where, we might assume, the U.S. has influence, like Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The speech to AIPAC was of a similar nature. In the earlier talk the president also said that the 1967 border was an appropriate starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Within the pro-Israeli environment of American domestic politics, many Zionists took offense. So, the speech on the 22 of May was diplomatically required to reassure them of the toothless nature of the original assertion.

There was something wearying about the President’s speech to AIPAC. The first half of it was all about how we are so solidly committed to Israel that whatever they do we will never abandon them. It was all about how we are going to go right on arming them so that, in effect, they will continue to have no incentive to negotiate justly with the Palestinians. In other words, the first half of the speech was all about why the Israelis and their supporters need pay no attention to the 1967 borders.

The president also peppered the talk with statements that, I am sorry to say, sound utterly wrong to anyone with an objective sense of the present situation. Here are just a couple of examples:

1. “We also know how difficult that search for security can be, especially for a small nation like Israel in a tough neighborhood.” Israel is not so much a small nation as a military giant. Obama knows that because it is the U.S. that has done the most to make Israel flagrantly oversized in this regard. In doing so Washington allowed Israel to become the bully that dominates the neighborhood. In other words, the president, as almost all of his modern predecessors before him, was reversing the facts for the sake of domestic political advantage.

2. “No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.”This reference was, of course, to Hamas. To call Hamas a “terrorist organization” is considerably out of date. Actually, it would be more fitting to assign the epithet to the Israeli government. That purveyor of state terrorism has brought sudden death to much larger numbers of innocent people than Hamas. And, using Obama’s logic, one might argue that Hamas should not be expected to negotiate with Israel, because Israel adamantly refuses to recognize it as the legitimately elected government of Palestine (which it is) and is “sworn to its destruction.” Further, as Palestine’s legally elected government, Hamas too has a right to defend itself against predatory neighbors.

3.“America’s commitment to Israel also flows from a deeper place–and that is the values we share.” There is something really embarrassing, actually downright humiliating, about the first African American president of the United States saying this about a prima facie racist state like Israel. Our two countries do not share any important values. This can be seen clearly in the fact that, when it comes to societal goals, the two lands are moving in starkly opposite directions. At least since the end of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s the United States has moved in the direction of greater and greater inclusiveness.

This movement has not always been smooth and consistent. However, today President Obama himself stands as living proof that inclusiveness is the direction American society has consciously set for itself. Not so Israel. Here it is the opposite–exclusiveness is the goal. If you are not Jewish, the goal of Israeli society is to render you a second class citizen and, eventually, expel you altogether. In terms of democracy, this makes Israel as democratic as, say, Alabama circa 1950. As a nation, the United States has left that era behind. So tell me, where are the shared values?

Part II – The Political Dance Has Become Irrelevant

President Obama sought to avoid “idealism or naivete.” He claimed to be approaching the Israel-Palestine problem in a “hard-headed” manner. Let me do the same. The American domestic political dance done obsessively by all recent presidents has never resulted in anything positive on the ground in Israel-Palestine. Indeed, U.S. foreign policy has only sustained Israel’s abilitynot to resolve the conflict. As a consequence of this Washington has rendered itself largely irrelevant to any final just resolution of this contest. Take the issue of the 1967 border which is the center of the present political flap in the U.S. It has significance only if you assume that there will be a viable two state solution.

However, long ago Israel has demonstrated that this will never happen. That was what Netanyahu was trying to tell Obama over the last few days. Most Palestinians and their worldwide supporters know this quite well. However, what neither Obama nor Netanyahu will admit is that the probable future of the Israel-Palestine conflict lies along a path that parallels the one taken by apartheid South Africa. In other words, the fate of Israel-Palestine is no longer in the hands of the Israelis and the Palestinians alone. The entire conflict has been internationalized. There is a quickly growing world-wide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that has joined the fray and its actions will, in the end, be more significant in resolving this struggle than those of any American President.

Part III – Conclusion

Weariness and boredom set in when you listen to people repeat themselves endlessly. Within the democratic political realm, that is the obsessive spell lobbies can cast on politicians. It is a design flaw, if you will, in the democratic system. The lobbies act like jealous gods who need to hear the prayers of their devotees said again and again. I am loyal, I am yours, forever, forever. Deviation means blasphemy and blasphemy means that the gods will bestow their cash blessings on someone else come the next election cycle.

It is weariness and boredom, a pronounced ennui, that one experiences when presidents go AIPACing. It would be better if they just sent an e-mail.

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Pakistan: In the Mist of Strategic Terrorism


“Pakistan is a nation of 1.5 billion people. Every Muslim no matter where he lives is a Pakistani.” Raja Mujtaba

By Jawad Raza Khan


Warfare dominions have changed since more than a decade; Pakistan is under ferocious attack; what all is going on is an all-out aggression against Pakistan as a state; after every attack in Pakistan, point of views are discussed on hourly basis and disseminated on half hourly basis. Some standard analyses are tabulated below.

  • This was a serious security breach

  • Where the intelligence agencies are?

  • Law enforcing agencies are in efficient

  • Musharraf is responsible of all this!

  • All this is because of the corruption in masses from top to bottom

  • Defense budget must be discussed at length in the Parliament

  • Tomorrow there will be a strike followed by a DHARNA

  • Punjabi Taliban’s are involved in it

  • Interior Minister claims “ Backbone of Taliban has been broken”

  • Why we made Taliban’s in first place?

The dosage of above mentioned analyses is so strong and continuous that sleepless dreams also constitute same themes, incidents and messages. Out of the entire predicament, one thing is on dot and as per the plan, strategic encirclement of Pakistan. The most defining aspect of the said maneuver is rolling now, in other words we can say that “the said strategic encirclement is now in execution phase, coupled with strategic terrorism”.

Point here is not to produce a horrifying document recounting yet another conspiracy theory against the state of Pakistan from outside. If this would have been the solution to the cancer we would have been cured much before the destruction of our strategic assets like P-3 Orion. Attack on Pakistan on the night 22nd May 2011 was a well-planned, rehearsed, coordinated and classically executed. What all financial and strategic loss Pakistan will bear is not the preposition to be discussed but the imperative is how Pakistan should defend itself in the face of this strategic terrorism? How Pakistan will convince the world that Pakistan is a nation capable of defending its nuclear arsenals?

Military lessons, Political Amrath Dharas and Administrative Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been formulated and reformulated so many times in past, but Pakistan is still bleeding hard and stuck in this quagmire for a long time, than “What is missing”?

By and large all the state elements are under serious threat and most of them are performing inefficiently.   In the latest form of warfare the most tangible segment is information war, privatization of this war machinery has proved to produce only an untamed monster, mincing money and ridiculing Pakistan in General. In strong nations media plays unprecedented role to recurvate “will to fight and survive as a nation” and with all due respect and without going into details generally this experiment has failed miserably”. This looks to be a too generalized and biased statement, but points to follow will be able to crystallize the exact requirement out of Executives, Legislators and Judiciary.

After declaring “WAR EMERGENCY” following actions are recommended to be done.

Complete Political leadership (in and outside parliament) with military leadership and Chief Justice need to sit and formulate a cohesive, coherent and comprehensive strategy against Strategic Terrorism

Immediate halt on statements by all politicians and dissemination of party point of view on naval catastrophe

Census be taken as an opportunity for pinpointing non Pakistanis and resolution be passed and enforced for their immediate deportation and if possible it should be coupled with de weaponing streets of Pakistan

Mechanism be formulated and efficiently enforced for uninterrupted trial of terrorists held in custody, setting examples for future

All intelligence agencies be ordered to re-organize their selves to fight this new facet of war with precision

Concept of community policing be introduced and enforced immediately especially in urban areas of the country through local body representatives

Training of civil defense and N.C.C must be started immediately for producing local countering forces at lower level

Pakistani electronic media (with exception of some) is incapable of handling and executing the all-important information war, immediate seizure of complete media (News channels) must be enforced (at least for six months) to gain unanimity amongst the masses for effective tackling of the war, only state television to function with all its emphasis on National unity should operate with efficient and precise content management

Pakistan can prevail, even after losing 40000 Pakistanis in this war. This resolution of Pakistanis has made the terrorists to change their priority to strategic targets, sending clear message to the all national institutions of Pakistan. Time to respond with efficiency is the only way out or we will be history as so many nations are…………………..God Forbid


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On Pakistan Hunt


By Shahid Zahur



The arrogance in Americans is visible in all spheres, and life of an American citizens is precious than the blood of hundreds of non Americans. They have got the license to invade or kill and no country/UN has the right to check them. Hitler took his nation on similar path, used propaganda effectively and made his people believe that they are superior to others.  In that phobia, the world suffered but Germans met with humiliating defeat. History always repeats itself but unfortunately what we learn from history is that we never learn from history.

After 9/11, USA went on killing spree on the pretext of saving Americans from terrorist’s attacks. The targets are unfortunately Muslims countries and with no mercy, air raids, drone attacks and ground attacks are continuing. The so called champions of human rights are spilling the blood of innocent people including women and children around the world. They have a propaganda tool in their hand that they are killing the terrorists, but what about the collateral damage.  It’s amazing that the West, India and Israel are dovetailing with American policies.  USA and west never took notice of heinous crimes and killing of innocent Palestinians and Kashmiries. Even on 15th May dozens of stone throwing protestors were killed in Palestine and daily people are being gun down in occupied Kashmir.

Now a game plan to defame Pakistan is being unfolded by our so called most trusted friend and strategic partner USA. As per a British Newspaper, Obama has approved a plan where by American troops will land to nuclear sites, if USA feels that there is a danger to these weapons from terrorists. Although Mr. Kerry has denied this report and said that he is ready to write with his blood that Americans are not after Pakistan’s nukes.  But the big question is, can we trust the Americans. Mr. Powel lied in front of the whole world and cheated the UN by showing fake evidence and documents that Iraq was having weapons of Mass Destruction. Similarly, our most important ally took lead from ISI but CIA kept ISI in darkens regarding information sharing against Osama and let us down.  Civilian nuclear deal has been struck with Indians, although she is not a signatory of Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Pressler amendments were imposed on Pakistan and we also witnessed the drama of 7th Fleet which never reached because Indians were given the free hand in former East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh). The bitter memories of the past have been further compounded due to Abbottabad Operation. Targeting nuclear assets doesn’t mean to destroy it, it means to create the situation, make the world believe that these weapons are not safe and can fall in to the hands of terrorists. Soviet Union had these weapons but economically they were destabilized and results of their choice were achieved by Americans.

As per Daily Telegraph the initial intelligence about Osama was given by Pakistan but USA intentionally kept Pakistan away from this operation because they wanted to take the credit for themselves to raise the sagging popularity of Obama government.  Like weapons of Mass Destruction bluff, they blamed that Pakistan was hiding Osama which is absurd. Pakistan lost more than 40,000 people, killed and captured hundreds of Al-Qaida members, including Khalid Shiekh. Thousand of terrorist’s attacks took place and Pakistan is economically almost collapsed but the blame game is still on. I agree that some security lapses did occur but blaming and humiliating the whole nation is not correct. Its amazing that after 9/11 and 7/7 no terrorist attack took place in America or West but the war is continuing and Pakistanis, the major sufferer are being declared as accused. The peanut aid is far less than our losses. It’s not aid but some repayment of our expenses on War on Terror.  By passing or cheating each other is disastrous, Pakistan is a responsible state and it must be treated as a true partner and not as a subservient country. Dictation, pressure tactics and allegations will further complicate the issue. The root causes of terrorism should be addressed and CIA agents like Raymond Davis should not have the license to kill. Drone attacks must be stopped and these be given to Pakistan. The dangerous game of violating the sovereignty of any country should end forthwith. The world must ensure that USA doesn’t make the UN hostage because of money.

The recent visit of US special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Grossman is seems to be a damage control exercise but Pakistanis who were already apprehensive with the US intentions are not prepared to become part of their double game. Grossman has again talked about the billions of dollars aid being given to Pakistan. The citizens of Pakistan are now questioning that is it the money which matters. Can these peanut dollars bring back more than forty thousand martyrs, can it heals the wounds of millions, can it restore our economy which suffered after 9/11, can the devastated bomb blasts and killing be stopped and peace is brought back to Pakistan?  The answer is negative,  then USA should stop threatening and humiliating Pakistan.  USA and West are fighting war on our soil. We are being killed by the terrorists and even own allies but do more mantra continues.

Pakistan needs to come out from the talking mode and prepare a Road Map to be followed by the government. The institutions, especially parliament must play its role. Looting and plundering the national exchequer should be finished. We have all the resources but not the will to use them. Instead of getting distinction in the roll of corrupt countries, we need to work, work and work for the progress of Pakistan, only then we can earn the respect, sovereignty and true independency. Secret deals must end and by defaming own security agencies, we are strengthening our enemies. We must think ten times before we speak or take action. Individuals could go wrong but not the institution. If we strengthened the institutions, respect the law and be honest to ourselves then we can rise and shine Insha Allah.

USA must remember that if double standards, carrot and stick policies are not changed and Pakistan is intentionally defamed or pushed against the wall then the results could be disastrous. The situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is already bad and now homing on to Pakistan would be a strategic blunder. USA and West should rehash their   policies and do take measures to make their countries safe from terrorists but not on the cost of Pakistanies. If we are friends then friendship should remain in all weather like our friend China.

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Two sources on Syria for the New York Times: one in…Maryland and another in…Washington, DC



Really.  This is a typical story. They let the two fellows tell stories and anecdotes about the situation in Syria: and their propaganda basically allows the Syrian regime propaganda to talk about a foreign conspiracy (of course, there is a foreign conspiracy in Syria but the underlying causes for the uprisings is largely domestic and indigenous).  Look at one guy:  ““They are using these tactics to cut off communication for the people,” said Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies. He said the Facebook pages of at least two close friends had been recently hacked and now featured conspicuously pro-government messages.”  Anything they say becomes news.  Then the other guy:  “said Ammar Abudlhamid, a Syrian activist based in Maryland who was one of several Syrian exiles to help organize delivery of satellite phones, cameras and laptops into the country earlier this year.”  I have one question: what would happen to an American living in Maryland if he admits to the New York Times that he helped in the “delivery” of satellite phones, cameras, and laptops” into, say, the opposition in Bahrain?  Would he not be put on trial on terrorism charges?

Seeking to Disrupt Protesters, Syria Cracks Down on Social Media


New York Time

The Syrian government is cracking down on protesters’ use of social media and the Internet to promote their rebellion just three months after allowing citizens to have open access to Facebook and YouTube, according to Syrian activists and digital privacy experts.

Security officials are moving on multiple fronts — demanding dissidents turn over their Facebook passwords and switching off the 3G mobile network at times, sharply limiting the ability of dissidents to upload videos of protests to YouTube, according to several activists in Syria. And supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, are using the same tools to try to discredit dissidents.

In contrast to the Mubarak government in Egypt, which tried to quash dissent by shutting down the country’s entire Internet, the Syrian government is taking a more strategic approach, turning off electricity and telephone service in neighborhoods with the most unrest, activists say.

“They are using these tactics to cut off communication for the people,” said Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies. He said the Facebook pages of at least two close friends had been recently hacked and now featured conspicuously pro-government messages.

With foreign journalists barred from the country, dissidents have been working with exiles and using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to draw global attention to the brutal military crackdown on protesters that has killed more than 700 people and has led to mass arrests in the last nine weeks. The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, which now has more than 180,000 members, has been a vital source of information for dissidents.

“The only way we get information is through the citizen journalists,” said Ammar Abudlhamid, a Syrian activist based in Maryland who was one of several Syrian exiles to help organize delivery of satellite phones, cameras and laptops into the country earlier this year. “Without them, we would not know anything.”

While Facebook has proved to be a powerful platform for activists to help mobilize protests and broadcast their struggle in Tunisia, Egypt and now in Syria, it can also pose considerable risks to dissidents.

There are about 580,000 Facebook users in Syria, a 105 percent increase since the government lifted its four-year ban on Feb. 9, according to Fadi Salem, director of the Governance and Innovation Program at the Dubai School of Government.

Though Syrian officials sought to portray the decision as a sign of openness, human right advocates warned that the government could use Facebook to closely monitor regime criticism and ferret out dissidents as nearby countries erupted in revolt.

A man in his 20s living in Syria said that the police demanded his Facebook password late last month after arresting him where he worked and taking his laptop. “I told him, at first, I didn’t have a Facebook account, but he told me, after he punched me in the face, that he knew I had one because they were watching my ‘bad comments’ on it,” he said. “I knew then that they were monitoring me.”

The man, who asked that his name not be used because he fears that talking openly could cost him his life, gave up his password and spent two weeks in jail. After he was released, he said that he found pro-regime comments made in his name on his Facebook account. “I immediately created a new account with a fake name and so did most of my friends,” he said.

Another man living in Syria, who is in his early 30s, said security officials also demanded his Facebook password. He is a software developer working to support a small group of digital activists who distribute video of the protests to television and media companies outside of Syria.

He said that he was able to avoid detention recently because he had created multiple Facebook accounts with fake identities. Under Facebook’s terms of service, users are required to use their real identity online or risk losing their account.

He said it was the only way for him and others to keep safe.

“I was called down to security headquarters and told to bring my laptop,” said the man whose identity is also being withheld because he fears that he will be jailed or killed for supporting the dissidents.

“They told me to give them my password so they could verify an account. They wanted me to open it in front of them. I actually opened up the other account that had nothing on it. They went through the messages trying to find comments that are related to the revolution. But there were none.”

He said people now shared passwords with friends so that if they mysteriously vanished, their friends would delete regime criticisms on their Facebook pages, which are considered enough evidence to detain someone under the country’s strict freedom of expression laws.

To help counter the protesters’ successful online narrative, pro-government supporters in Syria have created Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and YouTube channels to disseminate pro-regime messages on pages in Syria and around the world, including pages run by the White House and Oprah.

The Syrian Electronic Army group is also working to disrupt dissident efforts. Their Facebook page, with 60,000 members, was shut down by Facebook this month for outlining detailed instructions on how to attack opponents online, a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

For now, activists in Syria said they would not know whether using Facebook had helped or hurt them until the revolt came to an end.

“Using it for activism is a risky gambit,” said Peter Eckersley, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy group that is looking into reports of an anonymous effort to hack into people’s Facebook accounts in Syria.

“It may be effective if the regime that you are campaigning against is insufficiently ruthless or powerful. If you win quickly, Facebook is the right tool to use. If not, it becomes much more dangerous.”

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Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn Trying to Torpedo the Dollar?



By Mike Whitney



It’s all about perception management. The media is trying to dig up as much dirt as they can on Dominique Strauss-Kahn so they can hang the man before he ever sees the inside of a courthouse. It reminds me of the Terry Schiavo case, where devoted-husband Michael was pegged as an insensitive slimeball for carrying out the explicit wishes of his brain-dead wife. Do you remember how the media conducted their disgraceful 24 hour-a-day Blitzkrieg with the endless coverage of weepy Christian fanatics on the front lawn of the hospital while Hannity, Limbaugh and O’ Reilly fired away with their sanctimonious claptrap?

And now you’re telling me that that same media is just “doing their job?”

Give me a break.

Whoever wants to nail IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has really pulled out all the stops.  Their agents have been rummaging through diaries, hotel registries, phone records, yearbooks, yada, yada, yada. The UK Telegraph even paid a visit to a high-priced DC knocking shop to get a little dirt from Madame Botox; whatever it takes to make a randy banker look like the South Hill rapist. And they’re doing a pretty good job, too. The cops have made sure that the “Great Seducer” always appears handcuffed and dressed in a “pervie” raincoat with 3-days stubble before they parade him in front of the media.  On Wednesday–more grist for the mill–they released his mug-shot, an unflattering, deadpan photo that makes him look like Jack-the-Ripper. Was that the intention?

And, that’s not the half of it.  The Big Money is exhuming every woman he’s ever had contact with for the last 30 years hoping they can glean some damning tidbit of information that will convince the doubters that beneath that sophisticated manner and $25,000 suit lurks a closet Bluebeard ready to snap up your daughters and defile your wives.    Next thing you know,  they’ll be trotting out Paula Jones and Tanya Harding claiming they spent a torrid night with the Marquis de Kahn in a trailerpark outside Winamucca.

Where does it stop? Or does it stop? Are we in for another year-long Clinton-Lewinski feeding frenzy where everyday we hear more lurid details about the sexploits of people who don’t really interest us at all?

Aren’t you at all curious about who’s behind this “lynching by media” scam?  This is an all-out, no-holds-barred, steel-cage, take-down.  The big boys save that kind of action for the worst offenders, that is, for the insiders who have broken “Omerta” or wandered off the reservation.  I mean, they locked him up on Riker’s Island without bail, for Chrissake. What does that tell you? Even Bernie Madoff was allowed to stay in his $7 million Park Avenue penthouse while he waited for trial, but not Straus-Kahn. Oh, no. He get’s the royal treatment, even though he has no criminal record and nothing but the sketchy accusations of a chambermaid against him, he’s carted off to the state slammer where he can mingle with hardened criminals while dining on corn flakes and Wonder Bread.

You call that justice?

Can I tell you what this is all about? It’s about the dollar. That’s right. Strauss-Kahn was mounting an attack against the dollar and now the wrath of the Empire has descended on him like ton-of-bricks.  Here’s the scoop from the UK Telegraph:

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has called for a new world currency that would challenge the dominance of the dollar and protect against future financial instability…..

He suggested adding emerging market countries’ currencies, such as the yuan, to a basket of currencies that the IMF administers could add stability to the global system….Strauss-Kahn saw a greater role for the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, (SDRs) which is currently composed of the dollar, sterling, euro and yen, over time but said it will take a great deal of international cooperation to make that work.” (“International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn calls for new world currency”, UK Telegraph)

So, Strauss-Kahn finds himself in the same crowd as Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, right? You may recall that Saddam switched  from dollars to euros about a year before the war. 12 months later Iraq was invaded, Saddam was hanged, and the dollar was restored to power.  Gaddafi made a similar mistake when “he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar.” (“Libya: All About Oil, or All About Central Banking?” Ellen Brown, Op-Ed News)  Libya has since come under attack by US and NATO forces which have armed a motley group of dissidents, malcontents and terrorists to depose Gaddafi and reimpose dollar hegemony.

And now it’s Strauss-Kahn’s turn to get torn to shreds. And for good reason. After all, DSK actually poses a much greater threat to the dollar than either Saddam or Gaddafi because he’s in the perfect position to shape policy and to persuade foreign heads of state that replacing the dollar is in their best interests. And that is precisely what he was doing; badmouthing the buck. Only he was too dense to figure out that the dollar is the US Mafia’s mealticket, the main way that shifty banksters and corporate scalawags extort tribute from the poorest people on earth. Strauss-Kahn was rocking the boat, and now he’s going to pay.

Here’s a clip from CNN Money:

“The International Monetary Fund issued a report Thursday on a possible replacement for the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The IMF said Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, could help stabilize the global financial system….SDRs represent potential claims on the currencies of IMF members…..The IMF typically lends countries funds denominated in SDRs. While they are not a tangible currency, some economists argue that SDRs could be used as a less volatile alternative to the U.S. dollar.

“Over time, there may also be a role for the SDR to contribute to a more stable international monetary system,” he said.

The goal is to have a reserve asset for central banks that better reflects the global economy since the dollar is vulnerable to swings in the domestic economy and changes in U.S. policy.

In addition to serving as a reserve currency, the IMF also proposed creating SDR-denominated bonds, which could reduce central banks’ dependence on U.S. Treasuries. The Fund also suggested that certain assets, such as oil and gold, which are traded in U.S. dollars, could be priced using SDRs.” (“IMF discusses dollar alternative”, CNN Money)

Wow. So DSK was zeroing in on US Treasuries as well as the dollar? That’s the whole shooting match.

So, what type of progress was he making in converting USDs to SDRs? According to Reuters: “The IMF general resources credit outstanding increased to 65.5 billion Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, ($104 billion) on May 12 from 6.0 billion SDRs at December 2007. The so-called new arrangement to borrow, which came into effect on April 1, increased the IMF’s available lending resources to 269 billion SDRs on May 12 from 120 billion SDRs on March 31.” (

Not a bad start for such an ambitious project. It looks like DSK’s dream of dethroning the dollar as the de facto “international currency” was beginning to gain momentum.  But didn’t he know that his actions would anger some very powerful and well-connected people?

Well, if he did; he never let on. In fact, he started mucking around in other stuff, too, like when he intervened on behalf of Irish taxpayers, trying to protect them at the expense of foreign bondholders. That’s a big “No no” in banker’s world. They keep a list of “people who count”, and taxpayers are not on that list. Here’s an excerpt from the Irish Times:

“Ireland’s Last Stand began less shambolically than you might expect. The IMF, which believes that lenders should pay for their stupidity before it has to reach into its pocket, presented the Irish with a plan to haircut €30 billion of unguaranteed bonds by two-thirds on average. (Irish finance minister) Lenihan was overjoyed, according to a source who was there, telling the IMF team: “You are Ireland’s salvation.”

The deal was torpedoed from an unexpected direction. At a conference call with the G7 finance ministers, the haircut was vetoed by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who, as his payment of $13 billion from government-owned AIG to Goldman Sachs showed, believes that bankers take priority over taxpayers. The only one to speak up for the Irish was UK chancellor George Osborne, but Geithner, as always, got his way. An instructive, if painful, lesson in the extent of US soft power, and in who our friends really are.

The negotiations went downhill from there. On one side was the European Central Bank, unabashedly representing Ireland’s creditors and insisting on full repayment of bank bonds. On the other was the IMF, arguing that Irish taxpayers would be doing well to balance their government’s books, let alone repay the losses of private banks.” (“Ireland’s future depends on breaking free from bailout”, Morgan Kelly, Irish Times)

So, Strauss-Kahn stuck up for Irish taxpayers over the banks, the bondholders, the ECB, and the US Treasury. Naturally, that made him persona non grata among the ruling throng.

And, there’s more, too, because Strauss-Kahn’s vision was not limited to currency alone, but involved broad structural changes to the IMF itself that would have reversed decades of neoliberal policies.  DSK had settled on a new approach to policymaking; one that would abandon the worst elements of globalization and put greater emphasis on social cohesion, cooperation and multilateralism. Here’s an excerpt from the speech titled “Human Development and Wealth Distribution” he gave in November 2010:

“….Adam Smith—one of the founders of modern economics—recognized clearly that a poor distribution of wealth could undermine the free market system, noting that: “The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful and…neglect persons of poor and mean condition…is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

This was over 250 years ago. In today’s world, these problems are magnified under the lens of globalization….globalization also had a dark side. Lurking behind it was a large and growing chasm between rich and poor—especially within countries. An inequitable distribution of wealth can wear down the social fabric. More unequal countries have worse social indicators, a poorer human development record, and higher degrees of economic insecurity and anxiety. In too many countries, inequality increased and real wages stagnated—failing to keep up with productivity—over the past few decades. Ominously, inequality in the United States was back at its pre-Great Depression levels on the eve of the crisis….

An immediate task is to end the scourge of unemployment….Progressive taxation can also promote equity through redistribution, and this should be encouraged….“Inequality is corrosive” ….“it rots societies from within…it illustrates and exacerbates the loss of social cohesion…the pathology of the age and the greatest threat to the health of any democracy.” (“Human Development and Wealth Distribution”, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF)

Can you believe it? DSK is lecturing bankers about redistribution? That’s not what they want to hear. What they want to hear is why ripping off poor people actually makes the world a better place.  DSK’s speech just shows that he wasn’t drinking the Koolaid anymore. He was becoming a nuisance and they needed to get rid of him.

Does that mean he didn’t rape the woman who was in his hotel room?

Of course not. In fact, he could be guilty. But he deserves a fair trial, and someone’s making damn sure he doesn’t get one.

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Saudi Arabia: A couragious woman drives in Jeddah



Najla Hariri is taking to the roads in Jeddah. After driving in Egypt, Lebanon and Europe she found it too ridiculous not to be able to go anywhere with two cars but her husband and eldest son away. Although she does not want to be at the vanguard of change she feels she has no choice. She has the full support of her husband.

Najla Hariri says she was inspired by the protests taking place elsewhere in the Middle East.

“Enough is enough”, she told the BBC as she drove around the city. “I have the right to [drive].”
Ms Hariri holds a driving licence from both Egypt and Lebanon from her time living abroad, and also has an international licence that she uses when she drives in Europe.
”In this society I am a little bit brave – I am not scared. There is no law against women driving. It’s society’s [convention] that says women are not allowed to drive.”

Opponents of women driving argue that it’s safer for females to have a male in the car with them, and that they are honoring their women by sparing them the strain of driving.

“They are lying to themselves,” replies Ms Hariri forcefully. “It is safer for women to drive themselves. We have four million foreign drivers [in the country] and we’d like to get rid of them and drive ourselves.”

Ms Hariri admits she did not want to be at the vanguard of efforts to give women more freedoms.
She returned to Saudi Arabia two years ago and was tempted to start driving immediately.
She found herself stuck at home with two cars but no driver, as her husband and eldest son were both away. “But I waited for the right time; I waited for other ladies to [go first],” she says. As no-one stepped forward, she has decided that now is the moment.
“Before in Saudi, you never heard about protests,” she says. “[But] after what has happened in the Middle East, we started to accept a group of people going outside and saying what they want in a loud voice, and this has had an impact on me.”

A Facebook page is encouraging women to come out and drive on 17 June. Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. Other women are pushing for the right to vote in municipal elections scheduled for September, while there are also calls for women to get permission to sign legal documents.
Aalia, a 19-year-old university student, is co-ordinating some of the online reform efforts.
“We are focusing on spreading the word, raising public awareness,” she says. “Women here don’t know their rights.”

Naturally there is a backlash to the fact that Saudi Women want to drive their own cars.
Sheikh Mohammed al-Nujaimi, a Saudi cleric, dismissed the campaign, saying statements he makes about religious issues that are posted on websites have received more than 24,000 page views in a day.
The plan is “against the law, and the women who drive should be punished according to the law,” al-Nujaimi said in a telephone interview. Driving causes “more harm than good” to women, because they risk mixing with men they aren’t related to, such as mechanics and gas-station attendants, he added.
“Women will also get used to leaving their homes at will,” al-Nujaimi said.

Over the years clerics have put forward the reasons why women should not be allowed to drive. These are:

    • removal of hijab (face veil)

    • loss of modesty in women

    • women leaving their homes, driving around because they enjoy driving

    • women rebelling, they may go out of the house and drive to place where they can find peace. As young men do, but young men are able to put up with more than women.

    • driving is a cause for fitnah, immoral men will take advantage of her when she is in need of help

    • When women drive it leads to overcrowding in the streets, or it deprives some young men of the opportunity to drive cars when they are more deserving of that.

    • it will cause the fitnah to flourish, because women will buy a new car because it’s a new model or because they will be the first one to drive it.

On Saturday 21st Manal al-Sherif was detained by the Religious Police after posting a video of herself driving around Khobar on the internet. She has been released, although the terms of her release are not known.


further reading:

BBC News: Saudi woman seeks to put women in the driving seat.

Yahoo News: Saudi woman detained after driving

Islamopedia: Fatwas on women driving
Islam Q&A: Women driving

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