Massive US Surveillance, Indefinite Detention by Executive Order, CIA Nuclear Secrets
Revealing News Articles
December 27, 2010
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the massive surveillance system developing to monitor US citizens, the Obama administration's intention to issue an Executive Order to establish indefinite detention of anyone, including US citizens, the CIA's links to a secret nuclear materials market, 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. The most important sentences are highlighted. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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December 20, 2010, Washington Post
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. The months-long investigation [by The Washington Post], based on nearly 100 interviews and 1,000 documents, found that: * Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America. * The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. * Law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies. * The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings.
Note: This report is part of a series, "Top Secret America," by The Washington Post. For more, click here.
Indefinite detention for suspects at Guantanamo Bay
December 22, 2010, Washington Post
The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ..., U.S. officials said. Some civil liberties groups oppose any form of indefinite detention. "Indefinite detention without charge or trial is wrong, whether it comes from Congress or the president's pen," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office. "Our Constitution requires that we charge and prosecute people who are accused of crimes. You cannot sell an indefinite detention scheme by attaching a few due-process baubles and expect that to restore the rule of law. That is bad for America and is not the form of justice we want other nations to emulate." Legislation supported by some Republicans ... would create a system of indefinite detention not only for some Guantanamo detainees but also for future terrorism suspects seized overseas.
Note: Why are so few people speaking out about indefinite detention, when it is done in a way that gives the person detained virtually no legal rights or recourse? This clearly violates the sixth amendment to the US Constitution which states, "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
C.I.A. Secrets Could Surface in Swiss Nuclear Case
December 24, 2010, New York Times
A seven-year effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to hide its relationship with a Swiss family who once acted as moles inside the world's most successful atomic black market hit a turning point on [December 23] when a Swiss magistrate recommended charging the men with trafficking in technology and information for making nuclear arms. The prospect of a prosecution, and a public trial, threatens to expose some of the C.I.A.'s deepest secrets if defense lawyers try to protect their clients by revealing how they operated on the agency's behalf. The three men – Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Urs and Marco – helped run the atomic smuggling ring of A. Q. Khan, an architect of Pakistan's nuclear bomb program, officials in several countries have said. In return for millions of dollars, according to former Bush administration officials, the Tinners secretly worked for the C.I.A. as well, not only providing information about the Khan network's manufacturing and sales efforts, which stretched from Iran to Libya to North Korea, but also helping the agency introduce flaws into the equipment sent to some of those countries. A trial ... could also expose in court a tale of C.I.A. break-ins in Switzerland, and of a still unexplained decision by the agency not to seize electronic copies of a number of nuclear bomb designs found on the computers of the Tinner family. Ultimately, copies of those blueprints were found around the globe on the computers of members of the Khan network.
Note: This report establishes yet another connection between a secret nuclear materials network linking both Khan and US government officials, parts of which were divulged by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who identified moles working with Khan in both the US State Department and the Pentagon. For more on these highly suspicious networks, click here.
For $250M, Nigeria drops bribery charges against Cheney, Halliburton
December 17, 2010, USA Today
Nigeria announced today that in exchange for $250 million, the African nation has dropped bribery charges against Dick Cheney, eight others and Halliburton, the oil-services company he headed before becoming vice president. African and U.S. media say Halliburton and Cheney have not commented on the deal, which the head of Nigeria's anti-corruption agency said was offered by Texas-based Halliburton. As The Wall Street Journal points out, "U.S. regulators collected $1.28 billion in penalties and criminal fines in the Bonny Island case after settling charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law that bans the bribery of foreign officials to obtain business." Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said that the $250 million would include roughly $130 million frozen in a Swiss bank, and that remainder would be paid as fines, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday. But a source told AFP $100 million was in Switzerland and $30 million was in Monaco, saying the money was paid to an intermediary but never passed on as part of the bribery scheme.
Note: It sounds like Cheney and Halliburton basically bribed their way out of a potentially very damaging court case. For lots more from major media sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.
Cuomo lashes out at Ernst & Young
December 21, 2010, Reuters blog
Excerpts from complaint by New York State Attorney General (and Governor-Elect) Andrew Cuomo: E&Y [Ernst and Young] substantially assisted Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., now bankrupt, to engage in a massive accounting fraud, involving the surreptitious removal of tens of billions of dollars of securities from Lehman's balance sheet in order to create a false impression of Lehman's liquidity, thereby defrauding the investing public. As the financial crisis deepened in 2007 and 2008 and Lehman's liquidity problems intensified, E&Y ... assisted Lehman in defrauding the public about the Company's deteriorating financial condition, particularly its leverage. As the public auditor for Lehman, E&Y had the absolute obligation to ensure that Lehman's financial statements ... did not mislead the public. Instead of fulfilling this obligation ... E&Y sat by silently while Lehman deceived the public by concealing [fraulent] transactions and misrepresenting the Company's leverage. By doing so, E&Y directly facilitated a major accounting fraud, and helped Lehman mislead the public as to its true financial condition. E&Y, which reaped over $150 million in fees from Lehman, must be held accountable for its role in this fraud.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources detailing the fraud that led to the financial crisis and bailout of Wall Street by taxpayers, click here.
Why Is the UBS Whistle-Blower Headed to Prison?
October 6, 2009, Time Magazine
No one, including himself, would argue that Bradley Birkenfeld, 44, is a saint. But at the same time, almost no one in the U.S. government would deny that Birkenfeld was absolutely essential to its landmark tax-evasion case against Swiss banking giant UBS. The former UBS employee turned whistle-blower exposed the previously hidden world of offshore tax shelters, which cheats the Treasury out of about $100 billion a year. Thanks to his insider information, UBS was fined $780 million, and it promised to "exit entirely" from the U.S. tax-shelter business and to provide the names of thousands of American tax dodgers, from which hundreds of millions of dollars still might be collected. It also led to new tax treaties with the Swiss that should provide unprecedented tax information in civil cases and better access to such data in criminal cases. Considering Birkenfeld's help, many observers wonder why the Justice Department decided to arrest and prosecute him. Many critics believe the decision to prosecute Birkenfeld, whom some consider the most important whistle-blower in years, sends the worst possible message to other financial-industry insiders who might be considering coming forward. The Government Accountability Project (GAP), a Washington watchdog organization that has extensive whistle-blower experience, says a chilling effect is already apparent: a senior executive at a European bank that offers similar U.S. tax shelters is having second thoughts about going public because of the Birkenfeld case.
Note: For lots more, including Obama's tight ties with UBS, see the New York Daily News article here.
Senate panel ban seen as double standard
December 19, 2010, Washington Post
Gordon R. England's appointment to a top Pentagon post in 2006 came at a high price. The Senate committee overseeing his confirmation demanded that he give up lucrative stocks and options he held in companies that do business with the military. England said he took a big hit on his taxes and lost out on more than $1 million in potential profits that year when he divested himself of interests in companies that included General Dynamics. If he had been a senator, he would not have had to sell anything. The Senate Armed Services Committee prohibits its staff and presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation from owning stocks or bonds in 48,096 companies that have Defense Department contracts. But the senators who sit on the influential panel are allowed to own any assets they want. And they have owned millions in interests in these firms. The committee's prohibition is designed to prevent high-ranking Pentagon officials from using inside information to enrich themselves or members of their immediate family. But panel members have access to much of the same inside information, because they receive classified briefings from high-ranking defense officials about policy, contracts and plans for combat strategies and weapons systems. "I think Congress should live by the rules they impose on other people," said England, who served as deputy defense secretary under George W. Bush until 2009.
Note: Congress is amost always exempt from it's own rules, as further described in this powerful Time magazine article. This is one major source of rampant corruption in US government. For more on government corruption, click here.
Stanford faculty still taking drug firms' money
December 20, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle/ProPublica
Last year, Stanford banned its physicians from giving paid promotional talks for pharmaceutical companies. One thing it didn't do was make sure its faculty followed that rule. A ProPublica investigation ["Dollars for Docs"] found that more than a dozen of the school's doctors were paid speakers in apparent violation of Stanford policy - two of them were paid six figures since last year. Conflict-of-interest policies have become increasingly important as academic medical centers worry that promotional talks undermine the credibility not only of the physicians giving them, but also of the institutions they represent. Yet when it comes to enforcing the policies, universities have allowed permissive interpretations and relied on the honor system. That approach isn't working. Many physicians are in apparent violation, and ignorance or confusion about the rules is widespread. As a result, some faculty physicians stay on the industry lecture circuit, where they can net tens of thousands of dollars in additional income. Critics of the practice say delivering talks for drug companies is incompatible with teaching future generations of physicians. That's because drug firms typically pick the topic of the lecture, train the speakers and require them to use company-provided presentation slides.
Note: "Dollars for Docs" is an ongoing investigation into the influence of drug company marketing payments on medical providers. To search for a doctor in the database, click here.
FDA panel urges new look at "silver" teeth fillings
December 15, 2010, MSNBC/Reuters
Enough uncertainty surrounds silver-colored metal dental fillings with mercury that U.S. regulators should add more cautions for dentists and patients, a U.S. advisory panel [has] said. The fillings should be accompanied by warnings about unknown risks for vulnerable people such as children and pregnant women. "There really is no place for mercury in children," Suresh Kotagal, a panelist and neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said of the toxic metal. Mercury has been linked to neurological damage at high exposure levels and makes up about half of a metal filling. While the panel stopped short of urging a ban, it wants the FDA to look at the latest data and reassess its guidance after the agency last year declared the fillings safe. Some European nations have banned amalgam use. Critics told the advisers there was a clear link between mercury fillings and side effects, especially in more vulnerable patients. They should be banned or not implanted unless patients give consent, they said.
Note: Why is mercury still used in most dental fillings, when there is a known risk and other materials are available? Our teeth are not a good place for mercury. Studies have proven that small amounts of mercury are released by these fillings in gases into the mouth, only the toxicity is debated. For more, click here.
His mission is giving away money
November 12, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
It was a chance meeting with a Tibetan refugee that gave Marc Gold the idea that changed his life. Like most Americans he was shocked by the poverty he saw on his first wide-eyed trip to Asia in 1989. He loved India's temples, elephants and spicy food, but what really got his attention was the grinding misery. It left him feeling demoralized and hopeless. Then he met Tsering Gyatso, the wife of a friend he'd made in the Himalayas. Her family was too poor to consult a doctor about the painful, and life-threatening, ear infection that she had endured for months. Gold was able to put that right in an afternoon with antibiotics costing less than the price of a latte back home in California. A further $30 purchased a hearing aid, and she was able to work again. It was a life-changing moment for both of them. "I thought, wow, this philanthropy stuff is great!" Marc said, He knew plenty of his friends back home would like to help if they could. And that gave him a simple idea. Ask friends, neighbors and colleagues for money -- then give it away, as wisely as possible. His quest has taken him to slums, war zones and refugee camps. He's helped rescue teenage sex slaves in Cambodia, paid for medical treatment for families in the bombed-out ruins of Kabul, Afghanistan, and rebuilt the homes of Thai friends that washed away in the 2004 tsunami. He always looks for people who have slipped through the cracks, those who have received no help from governments or big aid agencies.
Beer vendor doubles as philanthropist
September 21, 2009, WLS-TV (Chicago ABC affiliate)
To thirsty baseball fans at Wrigley Field and the Cell, Adam Carter is the beer guy. But Carter's passion extends way beyond beer and baseball. He is a Fulbright scholar with a Master's degree in international development. But around the ball park he is simply known as beer guy. Adam Carter spends his summers hauling beer cans through the stands at baseball games. It's how he makes his living. But also how he supports his passion: helping others. During baseball's offseason, he travels the remote corners of the world providing food to malnourished kids in Brazil or wheelchairs in Mali. Or mosquito nets in Senegal. He calls what he does micro-philanthropy. Last year he distributed about ten thousand dollars worth of aid in developing countries. But he saw how every dollar was being spent and is convinced he is making a difference one life at a time. Many of his regular customers know about his charity work and contribute generous tips to the cause. Some get a special baseball card that lists some of his accomplishments on the back.
Note: Watch the inspiring two-minute video of Adam at the link above. For more on Adam and the many he has inspired, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Planning for Terror but Failing to Act
December 30, 2001, New York Times
An extensive review of the nation's antiterrorism efforts shows that for years before Sept. 11, ... top leaders never reacted as if they believed the country was as vulnerable as it proved to be that morning. Dozens of interviews with current and former officials demonstrate that even as the threat of terrorism mounted through eight years of the Clinton administration and eight months of President Bush, the government did not marshal its full forces against it. The rising threat of the Islamic jihad movement was first detected by United States investigators after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The inquiry into that attack revealed a weakness in the immigration system used by one of the terrorists, but that hole was never plugged, and it was exploited by one of the Sept. 11 hijackers. On at least three occasions between 1998 and 2000, the C.I.A. told the White House it had learned where Mr. bin Laden was and where he might soon be. Each time, Mr. Clinton approved the strike. Each time, George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, called the president to say that the information was not reliable enough to be used in an attack, a former senior Clinton administration official said."
Warnings: Earlier Hijackings Offered Signals That Were Missed
October 3, 2001, New York Times
Over and over since Sept. 11, aviation and security officials have said they were shocked that terrorists had hijacked airliners and crashed them into landmark buildings. ''This is a whole new world for us,'' Jane F. Garvey, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, said in testimony before a House subcommittee on Sept. 20. But the record shows that for her and others, there were numerous warnings. In 1994, two jetliners were hijacked by people who wanted to crash them into buildings, one of them by an Islamic militant group. And the 2000 edition of the F.A.A.'s annual report on Criminal Acts Against Aviation, published this year, said that although Osama bin Laden ''is not known to have attacked civil aviation, he has both the motivation and the wherewithal to do so." The previous year's edition of that report said that an exiled Islamic leader in Britain proclaimed in August 1998 that Mr. bin Laden would ''bring down an airliner, or hijack an airliner to humiliate the United States.'' The authorities appeared to draw no lessons from the two attacks in 1994.
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