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NSA Surveillance Predated 9/11,
Cheney's Powers, Drug Industry Influence
Revealing News Articles
October 19, 2007

Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on new evidence that the NSA's surveillance of the American public predated 9/11, Dick Cheney's decades-long campaign to increase the powers of the presidency, the influence of the drug industry on medical schools, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and

Former CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm
October 13, 2007, Washington Post

A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal. Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks ... about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records. In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest's refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper. He has claimed in court papers that he had been optimistic that Qwest would overcome weak sales because of the expected top-secret contract with the government. Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts. In May 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA had been secretly collecting the phone-call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by major telecom firms. Qwest, it reported, declined to participate because of fears that the program lacked legal standing.

Note: The Bush Administration has claimed that the NSA surveillance of the American public was a necessary response to the attacks of 9/11. But this story reveals that the surveillance began before 9/11, shortly after Bush took office. The obvious question is, why? For many other reliable, verifiable reports that suggest the official explanation of the events of 9/11 is false, click here.

Cheney's Law
October 16, 2007, Frontline (PBS)

For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy -- without congressional approval or judicial review. "The vice president believes that Congress has very few powers to actually constrain the president and the executive branch," former Justice Department attorney Marty Lederman tells Frontline. "He believes the president should have the final word -- indeed the only word -- on all matters within the executive branch." After Sept. 11, Cheney and Addington were determined to implement their vision -- in secret. The vice president and his counsel found an ally in John Yoo, a lawyer at the Justice Department's extraordinarily powerful Office of Legal Counsel. In concert with Addington, Yoo wrote memoranda authorizing the president to act with unparalleled authority. "There were extravagant and unnecessary claims of presidential power that were wildly overbroad to the tasks at hand," [former Assistant Attorney General Jack L. Goldsmith] says. As the White House and Congress continue to face off over executive privilege, the terrorist surveillance program, and the firing of U.S. attorneys, Frontline tells the story of what's formed the views of the man behind what some view as the most ambitious project to reshape the power of the president in American history.

Note: To watch this revealing Frontline video, click here.

U.S. Medical Schools, Drug Makers Share Strong Ties
October 16, 2007, Washington Post

More than half of department chairs at U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals have financial ties with the drug industry, a new study finds. "There is not a single aspect of medicine in which the drug companies do not have substantial and deep relationships, [including] doctors-in-training, resident physicians, researchers, physicians-in-practice, the people who review drugs for the federal government and the people who review studies," said lead researcher Eric Campbell, associate professor at the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Drug companies have relationships with everyone," he continued. "They're involved in every aspect of medicine. Someone has to decide which of these is OK." The study, the first to examine the extent of these institutional relationships, is published in the Oct. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "I think the paper is a very valuable contribution, in that it provides what's probably the first comprehensive documentation of the extent of relationships that involve department chairs, and department chairs are certainly the key agents of overseeing and maintaining the day-to-day operations of a medical school or teaching hospital," said Dr. David Korn ... at the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C. The issue of medicine's ties to industry has been a hot one of late. One study found that third-year medical students get, on average, one gift or attend one activity sponsored by a drug maker each week. "Now it's up to the policymakers and people who run medical schools," said Campbell. "They need to come up with some rules and they need to be new rules. I believe there's very little reasonable justification for why drug companies should be involved in the education of medical students."

Note: For a powerful overview of medical corruption, click here.

Pentagon Review Faults Bank Record Demands
October 14, 2007, New York Times

An internal Pentagon review this year found systemic problems ... in the military's efforts to obtain records from American banks and consumer credit agencies in terrorism and espionage investigations, according to Pentagon documents. The newly disclosed documents, totaling more than 1,000 pages, provide additional confirmation of the military's expanding use of what are known as national security letters under powers claimed under the Patriot Act. The documents show that the military has issued at least 270 of the letters since 2005, and about 500 in all since 2001. The documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by two private advocacy groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The New York Times first disclosed the military's use of the letters in January, and senior members of Congress and civil liberties groups criticized the practice on grounds that it seemed to conflict with traditional Pentagon rules against domestic law enforcement operations. The documents raise a number of apparent discrepancies between the Defense Department's internal practices and what officials have said publicly and to Congress about their use of the letters. The documents suggest, for instance, that military officials used the F.B.I. to collect records for what started as purely military investigations. And the documents also leave open the possibility that records could be gathered on nonmilitary personnel in the course of the investigations. Civil liberties advocates said recent controversy over the Department of Defense's collection of information on antiwar protesters made them suspicious of the assertion that the letters had been used exclusively to focus on military personnel. "We are very skeptical that the D.O.D. is voluntarily limiting its own surveillance power," said Melissa Goodman, a staff attorney for the A.C.L.U..

CIA director investigating watchdog
October 12, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)

CIA Director Michael Hayden has mounted a highly unusual challenge to his agency's chief watchdog, ordering an internal investigation of an inspector general who has issued a series of reports sharply critical of top CIA officials. Hayden is seeking to rein in an inspector general who has used the office to bring ... scrutiny upon CIA figures from former Director George Tenet to undercover operatives running secret overseas prison sites. The investigation is focused on ... CIA Inspector General John Helgerson and his office, particularly whether they were fair and impartial in their scrutiny of the agency's terrorist detention and interrogation programs. Officials said that the investigation also will span other subjects and that it already has expanded since its start months ago. U.S. intelligence officials concerned about the inquiry said it is unprecedented and could threaten the independence of the inspector general position. The investigation "could at least lead to appearances he's trying to interfere with the IG, or intimidate the IG, or get the IG to back off," one U.S. official familiar with the investigation said. Frederick Hitz, who served as the CIA's inspector general from 1990 to 1998, said the move will be perceived as an attempt by Hayden "to call off the dogs." "What it would lead to is an undercutting of the inspector general's authority and his ability to investigate allegations of wrongdoing," Hitz said. "The rank and file will become aware of it, and it will undercut the inspector general's ability to get the truth from them." Hayden has been a staunch defender of the Bush administration's counterterrorism programs.

Note: What does it say about an agency when they accuse their own internal investigator of being corrupt?

Supreme Disgrace
October 12, 2007, New York Times

Somehow, the [Supreme Court] could not muster the four votes needed to grant review in the case of an innocent German citizen of Lebanese descent who was kidnapped, detained and tortured in a secret overseas prison as part of the Bush administration's ... anti-terrorism program. The victim, Khaled el-Masri, was denied justice by lower federal courts, which dismissed his civil suit in a reflexive bow to a flimsy government claim that allowing the case to go forward would put national security secrets at risk. Those rulings ... represented a major distortion of the state secrets doctrine, a rule ... that was originally intended to shield specific evidence in a lawsuit filed against the government. It was never designed to dictate dismissal of an entire case before any evidence is produced. The Masri case ... is being actively discussed all over the world. The only place it cannot be discussed, it seems, is in a United States courtroom. In effect, the Supreme Court has granted the government immunity for subjecting Mr. Masri to "extraordinary rendition," the morally and legally unsupportable United States practice of transporting foreign nationals to be interrogated in other countries known to use torture and lacking basic legal protections. It's hard to imagine what, at this point, needs to be kept secret, other than the ways in which the administration behaved, ... quite possibly illegally, in the Masri case. The Supreme Court has left an innocent person without any remedy for his wrongful imprisonment and torture. It has ... established [itself] as Supreme Enabler of the Bush administration's efforts to avoid accountability for its actions. These are not accomplishments to be proud of.

Income-Inequality Gap Widens
October 12, 2007, Wall Street Journal

The richest Americans' share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and underlining the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers. The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks. The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000. The IRS data go back only to 1986, but academic research suggests the rich last had this high a share of total income in the 1920s. Until this summer, soaring stock prices and buoyant credit markets had produced spectacular payouts for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, and investment bankers. One study by University of Chicago academics Steven Kaplan and Joshua Rauh concludes that in 2004 there were more than twice as many such Wall Street professionals in the top 0.5% of all earners as there are executives from nonfinancial companies. Mr. Rauh said "it's hard to escape the notion" that the rising share of income going to the very richest is, in part, "a Wall Street, financial industry-based story." The study shows that the highest-earning hedge-fund manager earned double in 2005 what the top earner made in 2003, and top 25 hedge-fund managers earned more in 2004 than the chief executives of all the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, combined. The IRS data show that the median tax filer's income -- half earn less than the median, half earn more -- fell 2% between 2000 and 2005 when adjusted for inflation, to $30,881. At the same time, the income level for the tax filer just inside the top 1% grew 3%, to $364,657.

Note: For many verifiable reports on worsening income inequality, click here.

Knights Templar win heresy reprieve after 700 years
October 11, 2007, Washington Post/Reuters

The Knights Templar, the medieval Christian military order accused of heresy and sexual misconduct, will soon be partly rehabilitated when the Vatican publishes trial documents it had closely guarded for 700 years. A reproduction of the minutes of trials against the Templars, "Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars" is a massive work ... with a 5,900 euros ($8,333) price tag. "This is a milestone because it is the first time that these documents are being released by the Vatican," said Professor Barbara Frale, a medievalist at the Vatican's Secret Archives. The parchment, also known as the Chinon Chart, was "misplaced" in the Vatican archives until 2001. The Templars ... were founded in 1119. They amassed enormous wealth and helped finance wars of some European monarchs. Legends of their hidden treasures, secret rituals and power have figured over the years in films and bestsellers such as "The Da Vinci Code." The Knights have also been portrayed as guardians of the legendary Holy Grail. The Templars went into decline after Muslims re-conquered the Holy Land at the end of the 13th century and were accused of heresy by King Philip IV of France, their foremost persecutor. Templars were burned at the stake for heresy by King Philip's agents after they made confessions that most historians believe were given under duress. Philip was heavily indebted to the Templars, who had helped him finance his wars, and getting rid of them was a convenient way of cancelling his debts, some historians say. Rosi Fontana, who has helped the Vatican coordinate the project, said: "The most incredible thing is that 700 years have passed and people are still fascinated by all of this."

Note: The mass arrest of the Knights Templar occurred on Friday the 13th of 1307, which some believe was the origin of Friday the 13th being a day of bad luck. This group is suspected of harboring many secrets. The order still exists today (do a Google search) and may still play a role in political manipulations. For highly revealing media articles on other powerful secret societies, click here.

Public health: The hidden menace of mobile phones
October 7, 2007, Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)

Using a mobile phone for more than 10 years increases the risk of getting brain cancer, according to the most comprehensive study of the risks yet published. The study – which contradicts official pronouncements that there is no danger of getting the disease – found that people who have had the phones for a decade or more are twice as likely to get a malignant tumour on the side of the brain where they hold the handset. The scientists who conducted the research say using a mobile for just an hour every working day during that period is enough to increase the risk – and that the international standard used to protect users from the radiation emitted is "not safe" and "needs to be revised". They conclude that "caution is needed in the use of mobile phones" and believe children, who are especially vulnerable, should be discouraged from using them at all. Official assurances that the phones are safe have been based on research that has, at best, included only a few people who have been exposed to the radiation for long enough to get the disease, and are therefore of little or no value in assessing the real risk. The scientists pulled together the results of the 11 studies that have so far investigated the occurrence of tumours in people who have used phones for more than a decade, drawing on research in Sweden, Denmark Finland, Japan, Germany, the United States and Britain. They found almost all had discovered an increased risk, especially on the side of the head where people listened to their handsets. [One of the study's authors] said he uses a mobile phone as little as possible, and urges others to use hands-free equipment and make only short calls, reserving longer ones for landlines. He also said that mobiles should not be given to children, whose thinner skulls and developing nervous systems make them particularly vulnerable.

Note: Evidence has been mounting for some years that cell phones and wireless technology (WiFi) have significant health risks. For a recent brief summary by a highly respected scientist, click here.

I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer
October 6, 2007, Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)

Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth. The announcement ... will herald a giant leap forward in the development of designer genomes. It is certain to provoke heated debate about the ethics of creating new species. A team of 20 top scientists assembled by Mr Venter, led by the Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, has already constructed a synthetic chromosome. Using lab-made chemicals, they have [created] a chromosome that is 381 genes long and contains 580,000 base pairs of genetic code. The DNA sequence is based on the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium which the team pared down to the bare essentials needed to support life, removing a fifth of its genetic make-up. The wholly synthetically reconstructed chromosome, which the team have christened Mycoplasma laboratorium ... is then transplanted into a living bacterial cell and ... in effect becomes a new life form. The new life form will depend for its ability to replicate itself and metabolise on the molecular machinery of the cell into which it has been injected, and in that sense it will not be a wholly synthetic life form. However, its DNA will be artificial, and it is the DNA that controls the cell and is credited with being the building block of life. [Venter] has further heightened the controversy surrounding his potential breakthrough by applying for a patent for the synthetic bacterium. Pat Mooney, director of a Canadian bioethics organisation, ETC Group, said the move was an enormous challenge to society to debate the risks involved. "Governments, and society in general, is way behind the ball. This is a wake-up call - what does it mean to create new life forms in a test-tube?" He said Mr Venter was creating a "chassis on which you could build almost anything."

Note: For an abundance of reports highlighting the dangers posed by genetic modification, click here.

An American Embassy with All the Amenities
October 4, 2007, Talk of the Nation (NPR)

The new U.S. embassy in Baghdad is shaping up to be the largest and most lavish embassy in the world. Tucked inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, the $600-million compound will include grocery stores, a movie theater, tennis courts and a club for social gatherings. In "The Mega Bunker of Baghdad," Vanity Fair reporter William Langewiesche describes the compound – and argues that it's not being built for diplomacy.

Note: Click on the link above to listen to this revealing radio report.

Woman loses 95 pounds, trains for marathons
October 3, 2007, CNN

If someone had asked Kelly Pless to describe herself three years ago, the word "fit" would have never crossed her mind. For most of her adult life, the 31-year-old ... has struggled with her weight. She started gaining as a teenager and by the time she graduated from high school, she was carrying 215 pounds on her 5' 2" frame. At 28, she started having trouble breathing and doctors told her the weight was to blame. She reached her breaking point. Pless decided to do something. Fortunately she didn't have to look far for inspiration. "My manager at the Kennedy Space Center ran marathons, and he was the same age as my father," she said. Over the next three to four months, she began walking, without any real goal or expectation. Pless believed that if she just focused on eating less and moving more, everything would fall into place. "At first, it was hard to start exercising because I was worried people would make fun of me," Pless said. "But then I just told myself, if that's the worst that could happen ... I just got out there and didn't care." She also adopted an "eat to live" philosophy and satisfied her cravings for sweets by eating lots of fruit. "After a few months of cutting [snacks and sweets] out, I focused more on portion control," said Pless. "I pretty much eat when I'm hungry and don't eat when I'm not and really try to pay attention to when those times are. Pless asks herself, "What do I really want to eat? Or, what does my body really want right now?" All of the hard work and determination paid off. Pless has lost 95 pounds and kept it off for 1� years. As a result, she says, she's healthier and more confident. Pless runs about 40 miles a week while she trains for two marathons she plans to run this winter. "Running has become a constant for me and does so much more for me than maintain my weight, which is now about 125 pounds," said Pless.

Special Note: For a revealing 10-minute Fox News clip revealing the dangers of aspartame and related political manipulations, click here. For a most awesome, six-minute BBC video clip of an amazing hybrid between a motorcycle and a car, click here. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! And for the fascinating testimony of five eye-witnesses to the Roswell UFO cover-up on the Sci-Fi channel website, click here.

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NSA Surveillance Predated 9/11, Cheney's Powers, Drug Industry Influence