Thursday, 25 June 2009

Glimpses of America's Man-Made Disasters - Part 7

by Trowbridge H. Ford

While the National Reconnassaince Office (NRO) had pulled off the man-made earthquake around Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on October 8, 2005 without a hitch, the Bush administration still had to be worried about unexpected, damaging blowback, how to exploit the new openings, how to provide a few fallguys for what the real covert culprits had done, how to get rid of them in an orderly, unthreatening fashion, find suitable, accommodating replacements for them, and provide new cover for the most powerful space weapons, so that more mayhem could be conducted with the least suspicions by the media and the public about what was really going on. In sum, it was time to make for a clean slate on the covert front so that more beneficial disaster capitalism could occur.

As soon as the Recontruction Conference on Pakistan in Novewmber 2005 showed that the United States was most pleased with Pervey Mushrarraf's settlement of its laser-caused earthquake - opening up its territories bordering on Afghanistan to American covert operations - the Bush administration replaced acting Air Force Secretary Peter Geren, the Pentagon's all-purpose fixer, by Michael Wynne. He was another Pentagon insider - former acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics - who was responsible for the develoopment, testing and purchase of all new weapons systems, especially high-powered laser devices which the Air Force was taking the running of from Dr. Donald Kerr's NRO. This was just part of the Pentagon's game of musical chairs to keep the media and the public in the dark as Geren immediately became the Army's Undersecretary, and then its Secretary when the current one was made a fallguy for the failures of veterans at Walter Reed Hospital.

With Geren conveniently out of the way, whistleblower Russell Tice then claimed that the National Security Agency (NSA) - the NRO's official superior - was mining the private actions of millions of Americans, what President Bush had claimed only concerned a small number of Americans in a focused way. The same day that The New York Times published Tice's anonymous contentions, he told ABC he was the source, as this link explains:

Of course, this touched off a running fire-storm about what NSA was doing, one which is still continuing, leaving the NRO securely high-and-dry about what it had been engaged in. One could hardly have had much doubt about what NSA was doing under Director Michael Hayden despite the surprises expressed by NYT reporter James Risen, and author James Bamford in Body of Secrets: How America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World, given Bush's views of the President's war powers. While Risen had been Tice's messeger, Bamford had been given a complete snow-job about what NSA had been experiencing, and doing when it came to its eavesdropping, especially when it came to signal intelligence (SIGINT), when he visited the Director. (See p.451ff.)

Hayden - with the help of former House Intelligence Committe chairman and now DCI Porter Goss, the Committee's former staff director John Millis, former NSA Director and now Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and others - had given a most pessimistic appraisal of its SIGINT capability aka Echelon while dragging the USS Jimmy Carter needlessly into the process, acting as if it was essentially to be invovled in tapping fiber-optic cables, and as if the USS Parche, the Navy's most decorated sub in this regard, was no longer in commission to do it. Bamford's sources gave the totally false impression that NSA was in no position to keep up with threats being facilitated by the use of personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, e-mails and fiber optics - a process further complicated by the delayed commissioning of the Carter. (p. 465)

In giving this most restricted account of NSA's muscle, Bamford restricted the sub's SIGINT capability beyond recognition, acting as if it were only an underwater messenger of what others were saying rather than a platform for striking back in all kinds of ways from its Multi-Mission Platform. There was no mention of its being a sub with a completely different mission, one where it could leave behind munitions, not just mines, to explode when it was convenient and safe, and SIGINT capabililty to convert messages - apparently from air guns and laser acoustic weapons though they were not mentioned - which would give the recepient more than he or it expected. In doing so, Bamford used an unnamed Los Angeles Times source rather than what Rear Admiral J. P. Davis had written in "USS Jimmy Carter (SSN23): Expanding Future SSN Missions" in the fall 1999 issue of Undersea Warfare:

With Pakistan completely split open because of the earthquake, the Pentagon's 'Special Operations' teams (SOTs) took full advantage of the new opportunities - what they had previously been mainly
doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and around Saudi Arabia where Major General Stanley McChrystal, who had become Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in September 2003, saw fit. McChrystal was a former 'notorious psychopath' Ranger who was working the 'dark side' missions that Vice President Dick Cheney had said were required after the 9/11 attacks. McChrystal embodied the tactics which characterized the covert growth of America's hidden empire - organizing teams to carry out extrajudicial killings, systematic torture of prisoners, bombing of communities to make them more cooperative, and search and destroy missions.

"The SOT's," Professor James Petras recently wrote about Washington's continuing covert wars, "specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US clients regimes. The SOT's 'counter-terrorism' is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-economic groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal's SOT's targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Parkistan through commando raids and air strikes."

These operations in Pakistan were well underway when General McChrystal in February 2006 became Commander, JSOC. It had already attempted to kill Ayman al-Zawahir by an airstrike in Damadola, eliminating senior commanders Abu Khabab al-Masri and Iman Asad allegedly in the process, and attacking the Danda Saidgai training camp in Northwest Waziristan. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban responded by assassinating the US consul in Karachi, and by the end of the year, given the escalating 'dirty war', controlled not only the province but also South Waziristan. It's much easier to expand wars rather than end them.

Encouraged by early results in Pakistan, Michael Wynne's Air Force - now the operator of the NRO's heavy, laser satellites - was authorized to give Iran, it seems, another dose, targeting the stragetic area equidistant between Baghdad and Tehran in the Shia heartland on March 31, 2006. Encouraged by the agreement the Security Council had just reached that Iran should never obtain nuclear weapons, Washington hit the only area in Iran not known for having earthquakes, and did so during another nightime operation which would have killed thousands of people, like earlier at Bam, instead of only 70 if it had not been for the action by its Unexpected Disaster Committtee - as if normally disasters are expected! Once the first eathquake occurred early during the night of the 30th, it roused the population from its beds, assuming that more would occur, and two more did just after midnight local time

Of course, by this time relations between Washington and Tehran had so soured that it did not even ask for help, as it had after the Bam earthquake. And President Bush had geopolitical matters so much on his mind that he said this twice about the earthquakes: "We obviously have our differences with the Iranian government but we do care about the suffering of the Iranian people. Secretary of State Condi Rice uttered similar "deep sympathy" for the suffering of the Iranian people, offering to supply aid, but none was forthcoming according to Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman. Iranian-American relations had descended to such a low point that hardly any niceties were in order.

The reason for the icy relations is not hard to determine if one reads the details about the earthquakes, and the damage they wrought. They occurred in two separate places - in the mountainous area noted for its agricultural operations, the epicenter well removed from the alleged fault line which official seismologists say caused it, and in the area around the cities of Boroujerd and Doroud. The agricultural area relies heavily upon its qanat (kanat in arabic) systems for providing the necessary water for its fields of grain and fruit orchards The earthquates were surpringinly close to the surface, only going down about seven kilometers.

Then almost all the killing and damage occurred in the mountains where the first 4.7 earthquake hit, resulting the the vast majority of the 70 human deaths, and 1,000 large livestock and 6,000 small livestock ones - killed when their barns and sheds collapsed. Most noticeable was the dozens of dead sheep and goats found in the fields, apparently killed by the lasers beams when they heated up the kilometers of kanats in the process. This is why they have always been used in the night - what the NRO shoulder patches were bragging about it owning - so as not to commit most suspicious human deaths rather than simply ones in their beds. Great destruction and damage was also done to deep wells, water storage areas, and 4,500 meters of kanats.

With the Bush administration now hopeful that it had finally turned the corner on Iraqi violence after the ouster of Saddam Hussein - what SOD Rumfeld may have planned from the beginning with his 'shock and awe' campaign in the hope that its post-liberation mayhem would kill off the necessary Sunni and Shia troublemakers - he now prepared his departure from the Pentagon. While a few generals and admirals were finally expressing their displeasure about what had happened during his preventive wars - what Rumsfeld even acknowledged - he wrote a secret memo on April 6th, calling upon his minions to "keep elevating the threat..."

While the ignorant might think that he was referring to more 9/11 style attacks, he added this to make sure that there was no confusion about what he meant, but not in the places threatened: "Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realise that they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists." ("Rumsfeld 'kept up fear of terror attacks'," The Daily Telegraph, March 11, 2007) In doing so, he deliberately ignored what Iran, Pakistan and North Korea were apparently aiming for with their nuclear programs, and what the Pentagon was doing its utmost to prevent. It all sounded like his swan song from the Pentagon, reminiscent of his Anchor Memo when he took office with the intention of fixing it despite all the governmental obstacles.

While Rumsfeld withheld announcing his resignation until the day of the 2006 Congressional elections, though it so leaked to the press so that the voters would know he was leaving - hoping that the long-awaited act would bolster Republican chances at the polls but it didn't, causing the Bush administration to lose control of Congress - it immediately nominated everyone's choice, former DCI Robert Gates, to be his successor, and he was confirmed in record time. Gates had been former President Bush's replacement of DCI William Webster, and achieved the kind of coordination between the Agency and the Bureau - especially in handling the Iran-Contra cover-up which cost him the job the first time after Reagan had nominated him to replace William Casey - which the gigantic Pentagon so sorely needed now. (For more on this, see Mark Riebling, Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, p. 381ff.)

Gates' first victim, after a prudent pause, was DCI Porter Goss in May 2006 who he knew all too well after his long career in the Agency. Goss avoided analyzing intelligence too much, as his dismissing the leading analysts in the Agency showed when he took over, and was too careless in his private life - what had led to his forced retirement when he came down with VD after visiting, as many high-flying bachelors in Washington did, the prostitution ring aka "Capitol Couples" that Hana and Karl Koecher were running for the Czechoslovak security and intelligence service. "Hana, blonde, attractive and ten years younger than her husband," Christopher Andrew wrote in The Sword and the Shield, "later boasted that she had had sex with numerous CIA personnel, Pentagon officials, reporters from major newspapers and a US Senator." (p. 200)

Three days later, after it was learned that Goss' Executive Director, Kyle 'Dusty' Foggo, had been having sex parties with Hana, he too was gone, though the Agency denied that there was any connection between the resignations. Foggo had been instrumental in arranging the heating up of Hurricane Katrina, and slowing the response to it, and had had a corrupt relationship, involving former acting Air Force Secretary Geren, in kickbacks Boeing was giving out. Of course, the cause of his resignation was just the cover story as this had been known for at least a quarter century, and it claimed that Foggo had had to go because he was sharing her with Soviet spy, Felix Bloch, rather than with Goss too.

Little wonder that NSA director Major General Michael Hayden then followed Goss as DCI. Hayden knew where most eavesdropping secrets were buried, and how best to keep them covered up. John Negroponte, the new Director of National Intelligence and former US Ambassador to Iraq, knew most about the personnel problems at CIA, and arranged the necessary changes.

Steven Kappes, the former DDO who had resigned because of Goss' Chief of Staff Pat Murray so politicizing the Agency, was brought back as the new Deputy Director - Negroponte having been informed by Mary Margaret Graham, an Assistant Deputy Director of Counterintelligence, of all the womanizing and politicizing there. This had been particularly difficult for Negroponte, the former American Ambassador to Honduras, because Foggo had been a close associate involved in its search and destroy missions, organized from the embassy. Most important, Robert Richer, the number 2 man in the DO who resigned suddenly during Hurricane Katrina because of the DCI's isolated decision-making, had to find a new place, becoming CEO of Cofer Black's Total Intelligence
Solutions in 2007.

The most important decisions then were made by Negroponte, and his replacement at National Intelligence, Mike McConnell. The plan was to make sure that everyone believed that the Pentagon was apparently not planning a new generation of space-based surveillance satellites, and the ones it already had were being destroyed. At the same time, NRO Director Donald Kerr left, having transferred the last vestiges of its heavy satellite, SIGINT operations to the Air Force, and by replacing the aggressive shoulder patch - showing one of its four orbiting satellites hitting back at unsuspecting targets, and bragging about its owning the night - with a most innocent one, showing just two orbits of satellites, circling the globe. Kerr was replaced by Scott Large.

Negroponte was most eager to tell the press, especially U. S. News and World Report, about the "managerial nightmare" he had in getting rid of the $25 billion, overbudget, and five-year behind Future Imagery Architecture System - what planned to establish in space dual purpose imagery and SIGINT satellites to do whatever was required. Poor quality control in the satellites, and technical problems with their operations raised questions about their ever being completed. Negroponte moved decisvely to end the program, getting rid of half of the classified project - apparently the SIGINT half as the Air Force still had the Misty satellites which could perform the necessary send-back messages if necessary.

No sooner had McConnell been installed as Negroponte's replacement as National Intelligence Director than he announced that he had closed down the production of the satellite spy program, and was in the process of finding out who was responsible for the hopeless boondoogle, seeing to his dismissal. McConnell, in stopping the production of more Misty satellities, said nothing about stopping the use of ones still in service. And he was apparently looking for Air Force Secretary MIchael Wynne who had been pushing their production, though McConnell conveniently postponed his search and Wynn's firing until he was no longer needed. For more on this, see this link:

In this context, Naomi Klein's latest, comprehensive survey of disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine, appeared, and covert planners were most relieved to see that it had grown very little in its basic character, and in its coverage. The role of satellites, especially laser-equipped satellites and submarines in their making, and their possible use on countries like Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and those around the Indian Ocean were never even alluded to. In fact, they, outside of Sri Lanka, were never even seriously mentioned in the whole process. Actually, she hardly said anything new about the subject since her damage-limitation story on the Katrina disaster. If anything, according to her, shock was wearing off rather than increasing.

The stage was now set for disaster capitalism to move yet again ahead, as I shall add soon.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Voice of the Whitehouse - 21 June 2009

It has just been firmly announced by the U.S. Treasury that the $134.5 billion dollars in government T-bills that the press reported were being smuggled by purported Japanese across the Italian/Swiss borders are laughable fakes. Don’t believe it. They are not fake at all. This is a case of “Just keep on going folks. Nothing to look at here.”. Most people don't realize that these negotiable instruments are not available to individuals and could signal some serious implications for the world economy and especially for the future of the U.S. dollar—just what we need. All so-called bearer bonds are serial numbered and it is known here that these bonds are not fake and were bought much earlier by the People’s Republic of China! What is all this about? The Chinese are livid with rage that Obama upped the interest rate on Treasury bills, thus effectively halving the value of the immense Chinese holdings of said bills. They tried every diplomatic trick in the book to stop this increase but Obama needs more money for his projects and his best option was to give better rates on T-bills. Now, the Chinese are trying to show him that they will fuck with the Treasury and so the two fake Japanese were deliberately sent off to Switzerland, via Italy with the Italian police warned they were coming. The Chinese wanted this to be discovered and wanted the US to know that China would do her level best to discredit American Treasury instruments if their demands were not met. These demands will not be met so China will try something else. North Korea is also getting shirty with us but they are walking on a soda cracker bridge just as it starts to rain.

Full story...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Glimpses of America's Man-Made Disasters - Part 6

by Trowbridge H. Ford

The Bush administration, especially the Pentagon's Donald Rumsfeld and DCI Porter Goss, was most concerned about public and media reaction to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - worried that they might be seen as the culmination of their covert operations coming home to roost, thanks to what Naomi Klein had written in The Nation the previous spring about the rise of disaster capitalism, and what former Malaysian President Mohammad Mahathir had been feared of alluding to before a conference on the environment at Kuala Lumpur shortly after the disasters.

The Secretary of Defense had appointed Peter Geren - a slimy former Congressman hoping to take advantage of Anadarko Petroleum's windfall profits in the Gulf while attempting to mobilize the country behind the Christian Embassy's crusade against Islam - as Acting Air Force Secretary to provide cover for the air cowboys in the National Reconnaissance Office while they heated up the Loop Current with satellite lasers for strategic purposes under the official leadership of its new Director, Dr. Donald M. Kerr, who had been sent over from the Agency by Goss to give their operations a veneer of authenticity..

Mahathir's prepared remarks had been completely sidetracked, though, by a walkout by the Anglo-American diplomatic delegation - apparently triggered by fears that he would give the lowdown on how tropical depressions, ending with Zoé in the Pacific, had been cooked up into cyclones and hurricanes - resulting in an off-the-cuff diatribe about American and Britishr war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. And Klein had alluded in her article to the "Acts of God or Acts of Bush (on orders from God)" which had created disasters from "Iraq to Aceh, Afghanistan to Haiti". The island republic suffered in 2005 its worst hurricane damage in history, starting with Hurricane Dennis, which killed at least 40 Haitians and left 15,000 homeless.

Still, Fidel Castro made up for Mahathir not saying more about the Katrina disaster by offering the aid of hundreds of doctors, and tons of medical supplies to Katrina's victims - what he had already done for the hundreds of thousands victims of the Indian Ocean tsunamis, indicating that America's chickens in weather manipulation had truly come home to roost. The offer was so telling that the White House refused it, telling the Cuban leader to give his own people freedom instead. Cuban had avoided its own cockup over the disaster, surprisingly reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks, by learning to coordinate an effective response to such predictable hazards.

Fortunately, for the Pentagon and the Agency, Klein preferred in her article, "Let the People Rebuild New Orleans" in the September 26th issue of The Nation, to see Katrina's wake as an opportunity for democracy rather than the result of institutionalized recipes for disaster - what had been the norn for almost all disasters whether they had been naturual or man-made in origin. There was no hint that the hurricane was just another example of "vulgar colonialism", to quote Shalmali Guttal from her earlier piece - a clean slate to be reconstructed by the parallel governments of disaster capitalism as it saw fit. In fact, Klein never even used the term, and has rarely done so since.

The people of New Orleans, according to Klein, would not go quietly in the night, "...scattering across the country to become homeless in countless other cities while federal relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos, hotels, and chemical plants..." Community Labor United, a coalition of low-income groups in New Orleans, would not let the area be treated as if it were some third-world disaster site. The $10.5 billion provided by Congress and the $500 million raised by charities, Klein added, belonged to the victimized people, and they should be allowed to use it in ways they saw fit, not like what happened to the people of Sri Lanka after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. If the inhabitants of Mexico City could force their government to rebuild their community after the devastating earthquake in 1985, the people of New Orleans could do the same.

Unfortunately, this proved to be a complete pipedream, as Klein herself duly recorded in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, though the role of disasters - hurricanes, cyclones, and earthquakes - were sorely missing in helping explain the process until it came to Katrina. There was no mention of the consequences of any cyclone, especially Cyclone Zoé, which had wreaked such physical, financial and social havoc in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean whatever their cause. There was no mention of other hurricanes which had regularly pounded Cuba, not even the devastation caused to the island by Katrina - only what Hurricane Mitch had conveniently done by mass flooding to the troublesome states of Honduras, Nicaraqua, and Guatemala in Central America in October 1998. (pp. 500-1) And earthquakes - especially the ones in Iran around the Manjil-Rudbar area, and in the ancient city of Bam in anticipation of the two Gulf Wars, and the one in Turkey at Izmit in 1999, whatever caused them - were surprisingly not included among the tactics of disaster capitalism.

Shock doctrine, the less insidious term according to the expert on the subject, was essentially caused by various neo-cons, especially from Chicago and Harvard Universities, who persuaded Southern Cone dicatators to adopt unfettered capitalism whatever the cost and consquences, and when they were overthrown, their successors liquidated their debts by essentially scrapping whatever was required at great social and economic cost to satisfy lenders, particularly the IMF and the World Bank "Believers in the shock doctrine," she conveniently concluded, "are convinced that only a great rupture - a flood, a war, a terrorist attack - can generate the kind of vast, clean canvases they crave." (p. 25. N. b. the examples she chooses.)

This was all the more amazing since she finally concluded that the devastation to the Gulf coast by Katrina was the best example of disaster capitalism, with its Green and Red Zones of parallel infrastructures for rich and poor, and at the expense of established government: "Under Bush, the state still has all the trappings of a government - the impressive buildings, presidential press briefings, policy battles - but it no more does the actual work of governing than the employees at Nike's Beavereton campus stitch running shoes." (p. 528) In saying all this, her September 2005 article about letting the people rebuild New Orleans is nowhere to be seen.

Most important, this most restricted view of the role of disasters, especially their causes - whether they be natural or man-made of some sort or another - had already experienced the unprecedented feedback by Senator Jay Rockefeller and a few other Democratic colleagues on its Intelligence Committee - publicly objecting the previous December to yet another NRO Misty satellite being in the works, action which he had twice tried to stop, and called "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security." What he was referring to - though no one had yet claimed sigint satellites "very, very... dangerous" - was so sensitive that the NRO had called upon the Justice Department to look into the prosecution of any alleged leaker.

Klein's failure to investigate the ramifications of this development, much less write about it - given what happened during the 2005 hurricane season - is simply mystifying.

For more, see this link

Of course, given this essential news backout about covert possibilities, the NRO was able to move quickly against the growing problems in Pakistan whose Balochistan, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), North--West Frontier Province, Swat Valley and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir were becoming increasingly Taliban and Al-Qaeda dominated despite what Washington had dictated to strong-man President Pervez Musharraf. He had staged a coup in 1999 against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the conduct of the war with India over Kashmir, and received $10.5 billion in aid from the West, once he had capitulated to threats of being attacked unless he didn't join the so-called war on terror. While he supplied three airbases for the conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom, he never really went after the Taliban because of his own strategic interests, causing so much consternation in Washington that it finally decided to fix the problem as best it could.

About the situation around 2005, Ahmed Rashid has written in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, "Pakistan on the Brink," the target area had become a absolute powerkeg, thanks to the inaction of the Musharraf regime though somehow making no mention of the earthquake. Maulana Muhamed had so used his FM radio station with inflammatory messages in the Swat valley that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban built up several more stations and an army for him. In FATA, the Pashtun tribal leaders had organized their own militias, and plans for the liberation of Pakistan, slitting the throats of some 300 pro-government ones in the process. In the meantime, the Afghan Taliban, thanks to the inaction of the relevant Pakistani authorities and the assistance from FATA and Balochistan, revived their insurgency in Afghanistan. And extremist Punjabi groups joined the mix after Pakistan's relations with India over Kashmir cooled down.

Pakistan, like most of the countries between China and Morocco, has its own system of qanats, called karezes. These are the underground systems of water collection which rely upon a central well from the surface to supply entrance to a collecting chamber at the lowest ground level, so that fields can be irrigated, and populations supplied with the basic essential. They can be vast distances in length with tunnels along the way for more collections, and proper ventilation, While Iran was thought to be the source of Pakistan's systems - what the NRO had taken advantage of in making its 1990 and 2003 earthquakes - actually its are now believed to have come from Afghanistan. While pipes have replaced tunnels in many Pakistani kerezes, making them less manipulable from outside forces, delay-action dams to collect more water have made them more unstable if so attacked.

For more, see this link

Again, Professor Zhoughao Shou predicted the Paskistani earthquake, as he had those off the coast of Aceh in November-December 2004, but no one in a position of authority took them seriously. In the December 2006 issue of the "New Concepts in Global Tectonics" Newsletter, he laid out his findings about recent serious earthquakes in "Precursor of the Largest Earthquake of the Last Forty Years," pp. 3-12. His critics believed that earthquakes always started deep underground, thanks to tectonic plates crashing togther, and that there were never visible precursors of them. Shou continued to say that his vapor theory about cloud formation over earthquake epicenters, and their unexpected movement, contrary to usual weather patterns, demonstrated otherwise.

After a discussion of Shou's claims, the newsletter concluded: "This work demonstrates that the vapor theory does not give false warnings. Shou's recent investigation shows that all earthquakes of magnitude 7 or above in the world from June 1993 to October 2005 have a vapor precursor. In contrast, government seismologists worldwide have not yet made a precise and reliable." This seems to say more about their character than that of various earthquakes.

Still, Shou made no attempt to explain the cause of the cloud formations, and many of them could well be from plates rubbing together, volcanic action, etc. The Pakistani one appeared just too convenient politically, and suspiciously connected to the Misty satellite passing overhead every 90 minutes to be of natural origin. The next to last passage overhead caused a minor earthquake, and after all the inhabitants around Muzaffarabad had gone back to bed after their morning tea, as it was Ramadam, the devastating one occured 90 minutes later, killing 75,000 people, and rendering another 500,000 homeless.

When the Musharraf government acted most positively to offers of assistance, Washington was uncharacteristically most supportive for disaster relief occurring anywhere along the "axis of evil". It airlifted 1,200 military personnel, 162 cargo lifts of equipment, and 1,900 tons of supplies. With the opening up of the Taliban-dominated area to American forces, the Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios announced to a November Reconstruction Confererne that it was proving the Paskistanis with $300 million in aid, the Pentagon was throwing in another $110 million, and private charities would be adding another $100 million.

Despite all the hoopla about this assistance of save the living, and subsequent aid to help them progress, Pakistan is in even worse shape than Afghanistan, thanks in part to the continuing silence by those in the media and in politics who know about its real causes but have failed to speak out, as Rashid has concluded:

"In Pakistan there is no such broad national identity or unity. Many young Balochs today are fiercely determined to create an independent Balochistan. The ethnic identities of the peple in the other provinces have become a driving force for disunity. The gap between the rich and poor has never been greater....There is confusion about what actually constitutes a threat to the state and what is need for nation-building." (p. 16)

Until the United States sorts out its confusions about these same matters, especially the use of force in the nation-building, it will only get worse, as we shall see.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Key figures in global battle against illegal arms trade lost in Air France crash

When this happened my first question was; "who was on that plane" modern airliners don't tend to just fall out of the sky without a trace. Maybe this one did and I'm being paranoid but there were a lot of people with a lot of money to lose. Like I said, probably just paranoia!

Amid the media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France's ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world's most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.

Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio's sprawling favelas.

Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development.

Buenos Aires-born Dreyfus had been living in Rio since 2002, where he and his sociologist wife worked with the Brazilian NGO Viva Rio.

"Pablo will be remembered as a gentle and sensitive man with an upbeat sense of humour," said the Small Arms Survey. "He displayed an intellectual curiosity and a determined work ethic that excited and enthused all who worked with him."

According to the International Action Network on Small Arms Control (IANSA), Dreyfus's work was instrumental in the introduction of landmark small arms legislation in Brazil in 2003. Under this legislation, an online link was created between army and police databases listing production, imports and exports of arms and ammunition in Brazil.

Dreyfus was an advocate of the stringent labelling of ammunition by weapons firms, arguing that by clearly identifying ammunition not only by its producer but also its purchaser, the likelihood of weapons being sourced by criminals from corrupt police or armed forces personnel is greatly reduced.

Though a Brazilian referendum on the right to bear arms was rejected in 2005, Viva Rio says the campaign should be considered a success because half a million weapons were voluntarily handed in to the authorities. Anti-gun activists put the referendum defeat down to fears criminals would circumvent the law and continue to gain access to small arms the usual way - through Paraguay and other bordering countries. This was not an irrational fear: until 2004, when Paraguay bowed to Brazilian pressure, even foreign tourists were allowed to purchase small arms simply by presenting a photocopy of their identity card. Dreyfus knew that many of the weapons from the so-called tri-border area between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina were reaching Rio drug gangs.

When unidentified gunmen made off with a stash of hand grenades from an Argentine military garrison in 2006, Dreyfus deplored what he said was lax security at military depots across the world. "If a supermarket can keep control of the amount of peas it has in stock, surely a military organisation could and should be able to do the same with equal if not greater efficiency with its weapons," he said. "The key words are logisitics, control, security."

When Rio agents smashed a cell of drug traffickers who had sourced their weapons from the tri-border area, Dreyfus noted its leaders were prominent businessmen living in apartments in the plush Rio suburbs of Ipanema and São Corrado, "not in the favelas".

In a recent report posted on the Brazilian website Comunidade Segura (Safe Community), Dreyfus noted that the Brazilian arms firm CBC (Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos) had become one of the world's biggest ammunition producers by purchasing Germany's Metallwerk Elisenhutte Nassau (MEN) in 2007, and Sellier & Bellot (S&B) of the Czech Republic in March. This would not be particularly noteworthy but for the fact that CBC's exports had tapered off in recent years due to legislation restricting exports to Paraguay, arms that often found their way back into Brazil and on to the Rio drug gangs - the "boomerang effect", as Dreyfus called it. "The commercial export of weapons and ammunition from Brazil to the bordering countries stopped in 2001," wrote Dreyfus. "CBC lost commercial markets in Latin America, but Brazil won in public security."

However, manufacturers from other countries had moved in to fill the void, and before its purchase by CBC, S&B was already "one of the marks most currently apprehended" by Brazilian police. Dreyfus said that, in view of the fact the Czech Republic was bound by the EU Code of Conduct on weapons exports - which states that EU countries must "evaluate the existence of the risk that the armament can be diverted to undesirable final destinations", CBC should "consider the risk that some of these exports end up, via diversions, feeding violence in Brazil".

Though his focus was on Latin America, Dreyfus also advised the government of Mozambique and at the time of his death was preparing to do the same for the government of Angola, where stockpiles of weapons left over from the civil war continue to pose a security problem.

Dreyfus and Dreyer were on their way to Geneva to present the latest edition of the Small Arms Survey handbook, of which Dreyfus was a joint editor. It was to have been their latest step in their relentless fight against evil.

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Fighting Nineteen Eighty-Four

by Henry Porter

Sixty years ago today George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, and this evening, as though to mark the anniversary of Orwell's last book, the former head of GCHQ, Sir David Pepper, slips from the shadows to tell the BBC's Who's Watching You programme that it has become necessary for the government to record all data from phone and internet traffic in the fight against terror.

Pepper, who was, incidentally, born as Orwell struggled over his manuscript in the winter of 1948 – the year the author reversed for his title – makes a case for the total surveillance of society in order to catch the increasingly sophisticated targets. "There are plenty of people who will do all they can to make themselves difficult to find," he says. "The thing you worry about most is the attack that you haven't seen coming."

The unknown enemy is cast, very much like the ill-defined threat presented to Oceania in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as a pervasive, cunning and unseen foe that requires total watchfulness and, it follows, the sacrifice of the essential right of privacy. In the programme, Pepper explains the challenges that face his former colleagues at GCHQ with a diagram that shows how information is carried in discreet packets across the internet, a development which he implies must be met by granting the agency total access to all our communications.

You can see GCHQ's problem, but we should not take the word of a securicrat with a narrow view of how a free society works to be the only voice in this debate. For like his successor Iain Lobban, Pepper's solution to the problem of tracking terrorist communications is mass surveillance, which, if allowed, would give the government enormous powers and would very likely become subject to the law of function creep, as all these measure are. (Last week I reported on how the police national DNA database set up to solve crime was now being used in Camden as a "crime prevention" measure).

A Home Office memo leaked during the period when the former home secretary, Jacqui Smith, was swooning over GCHQ's megalomaniac plans held them to be "impractical, disproportionate, politically unattractive and possibly unlawful". The plans have since been modified so that data collection would be outsourced to internet service providers, who are, by the way, none too happy about it, but the key measure of mass surveillance remains and so does the truth of that characterisation by an anonymous official.

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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Voice of the White House - May 31, 2009

More and more information is emerging here about the planning of the Cheney people to implement a coup in the United States. The purpose of this coup, which was blocked solely because of the refusal of the senior officers of the Army to cooperate, was to enforce the wishes of the lunatic Vice President and his captive President.

Historical events are very much like a child’s kaleidoscope. It is possible to identify all of the shapes and colors of the bits of glass contained in the toy, but when they are placed in a mirrored tube, no one can accurately predict the exact patterns that will emerge when the tube is rotated. Historians can recognize the factors and forces that create change but can never predict exactly when or how they will combine, or what the effect of these combinations will be.

The coup, a seizure of power, has been a part of history for as long as man has been an organized social animal. The determined will attack the complacent, sometimes with success, and as often with failure. That which was successful in a disorganized and demoralized Imperial Russia might not be at all successful in another country at another time.

Intellectual curiosity was more likely the reason for the emergence of the subject, but the continued discussion about the bearing of arms by non-military citizens is much more interesting. The concept of the citizen army in the United States had its roots in the rural militias of the colonial period, when small communities, far from urban areas or standing garrisons, needed to protect themselves, their families and their holdings from attacks by hostile Indians. These militias grew in strength and eventually viewed the British Army as a more serious enemy.

That the first government of the United States viewed the citizen-soldier or the militiaman as an important implement of defense, is reflected in the Constitution where the subject is specifically addressed.

In one of his dinner table conversations, Hitler once said that the purpose of the police was to protect the citizen, not to intimidate him.

No coup or popular rising has taken place in times of relative stability. It is only when the great middle-class awakens to find itself and its institutions under attack and undefended that the thought of self-defense becomes valid. Violent upheavals do not begin without warning. Before a volcano erupts, there are nearly always ominous signs of the impending disaster and very often, clear though these indications may be, they are ignored out of the fear of radical change found in the complacent throughout history.

Trotsky very clearly recognized this fear of change and took swift advantage of it when he seized power in Russia. By the time the public was aware of what had happened, it was almost too late to react, and by the time the population, most of whom were only interested in survival and creature comforts might have reacted, the militants were in power and increasing their control on a daily basis.

A conservative government might be dull but it does not, in general, attempt to exert control over its citizens, other than to maintain law and order. A radical government, on the other hand, cannot feel safe in its power until it has established an ever-intrusive control over its people. Control of weapons is certainly a prime goal for such an entity and this would work in tandem with discrediting, and eventually destroying, any institution that might be able to mount an attack on it. The first target would be any religious group who might find a moral, and hence religious, fault with its goals or techniques. The second target would be any other organization that could conceivably organize against it.

In a monarchy, the people have little choice over the succession of rulers and a good king with a short reign can easily be replaced by a bad one with a long reign. In a republic, malfunction and mendacity are correctable at the ballot box. If this safety valve is shut down, an explosion will certainly result.

News can easily be controlled by those with the desire and ability to do so. Governments can exert great influence over nearly any media entity through their power in the granting of licenses or their control over entree to official information. By a de facto control over the reporting of news, an administration bent on complete domination can accomplish the implementation of their goals with relative ease, given a receptive and passive audience.

Faked opinion polls and heavily slanted pro-administration reportage might have had a strong effect on this audience when there were no other sources of information. But, with the advent of alternative information sources, such as the computer, the photocopier and the facsimile machine, propaganda is far less able to influence, dominate, and control public perceptions.

The concept of civil unrest is always abhorrent to the entrenched entities which comprise the leadership of the political and business factors of an urbanized and stable society. These individuals belong to the Order of St. Precedent whose motto is “Look Backwards,” and whose watchword is “That Which Has Not Been, Cannot Be.” Trotsky and his ilk knew how to utilize such blindness.

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