Daily Archives: July 24, 2007

Romney Backs Interrogation, Patriot Act

Associated Press | Jul 20, 2007

By AMY LORENTZEN

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Friday more intense methods of CIA interrogation are acceptable in dealing with terrorism and he praised the broad powers granted law enforcement under the USA Patriot Act.

During a question-and-answer session at an Iowa campaign stop, Romney was asked about aggressive interrogation of those in U.S. custody. In recent years, questions have arisen as to whether the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques cross the line into torture and abuse, such as a practice known as water-boarding.

The CIA has denied it uses torture.

“I support tough interrogation techniques, enhanced interrogation techniques, in circumstances where there is a ticking time bomb, a ticking bomb,” Romney said. “I do not support torture, but I do support enhanced interrogation techniques to learn from terrorists what we need to learn to keep the bombs from going off.”

Romney answered questions about torture during a Republican debate in May but his answers Friday expanded on the issue.

The former Massachusetts governor also praised President Bush for enactment of the Patriot Act. Critics of the law contend that the government has invaded Americans’ privacy using the newfound powers of the act, such as the Justice Department’s authority on wiretapping.

“Our president, for all the criticism he receives, has kept America safe these last six years, and he has done it by: One pursuing the Patriot Act, which has given us the intelligence information we needed to find out who the bad guys were and get them out before they got us, and No. 2, when al-Qaida was calling America, he made sure someone here was listening,” Romney said. “And No. 3 … when terrorists were detained, were captured, he made sure we interrogated them.”

Romney was beginning a two-day trip through western and northern Iowa, seeking the support of conservative voters by continuing his focus on values. He stressed the importance of enforcing obscenity laws, getting tough on retailers who sell violent video games to kids and education to reduce the number of unwed mothers.

If someone uses the Web to sexually assault a child, he said there should be stiff consequences.

“I’ll call it one strike and you’re ours because I want to put them in jail for a long time and then put an ankle bracelet on them and a GPS transponder so that we know where they are for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Among those in attendance were Mark and Linda Spiegel, of Charter Oak, whose daughter is president of the Young Republicans chapter at the University of Northern Iowa and works as an intern for the Romney campaign.

“He’s in the same ballpark that we are. I agree with what he’s going with,” said Linda Spiegel, a nurse.

Later, during a stop in Storm Lake, Romney introduced his son, Josh, who is traveling the state with his wife and three children. The candidate also held up his granddaughter, Grace.

Romney said 96 of his relatives planned to attend the straw poll on Aug. 11 in Ames, Iowa, to help out his campaign.

“They’ll be serving the food and making sure it’s a great time for all,” Romney said.

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Presidential Order Affirms CIA Secret Detentions

Allows Detention in Violation of Geneva Conventions

InfoZine | Jul 24, 2007

New York, NY –  President George W. Bush’s new executive order on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program is contrary to the Geneva Conventions, Human Rights Watch said today.

The new order, issued today, purports to determine that the CIA’s detention and interrogation program “fully complies” with US obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as long as the CIA follows a series of requirements in carrying out the program.

But enforced disappearance – the hallmark of the CIA program, involving secret, incommunicado detention – is itself inconsistent with the requirement under Common Article 3 that detainees be treated humanely. A number of CIA prisoners were held for three or more years in secret detention facilities, known as “black sites,” before being transferred to military custody at Guantanamo Bay in September 2006. Others who were believed to have been held in CIA detention remain “disappeared.”

“By international human rights and humanitarian law standards, the CIA program is illegal to its core,” said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch. “Although the new executive order bars torture and other abuse, the order still can’t purport to legalize a program that violates basic rights.”

Human Rights Watch also expressed skepticism that the treatment requirements set out in the new order – that detainees not be tortured or ill-treated, and be fed adequately, among others – will be followed. It is well documented that holding detainees in prolonged incommunicado detention, without judicial or other independent oversight, is an invitation to torture and other abuse. Human Rights Watch pointed out that even the International Committee of the Red Cross has not been allowed to visit detainees in CIA custody.

In addition, because the written policies governing the CIA interrogation program will be classified, it will be impossible for any outside monitor to assess whether the interrogation practices they allow are consistent with international standards. Given that then-CIA director Porter Goss once referred to waterboarding – a form of mock drowning – as a “professional interrogation technique,” Human Rights Watch is concerned that abusive methods might still be authorized.

Notably, US officials have still refused to publicly denounce waterboarding as torture.

In criticizing the CIA program, Human Rights Watch continued to draw attention to more than three dozen missing CIA detainees. In June, Human Rights Watch and five other human rights groups published a report listing 39 people who were believed to have been held at some time in CIA prisons, and who remain “disappeared”. One of the missing detainees, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, recently reappeared in Pakistan.

“Detainees in CIA custody were in many cases ‘disappeared’ for years,” Mariner said. “Several dozen are still ‘disappeared’ with no information about their fate.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has expressed grave concern about the US government’s use of secret CIA prisons to hold suspected terrorists, concluding that detention under such conditions violates the detainees’ basic human rights and is incompatible with international humanitarian law.

Hugo Chavez pushes for unlimited re-election

RIA Novosti | Jul 23, 2007

castro_chavez_2

Cuban Communist dictator for over four decades poses with his protege’ Hugo Chavez who now hopes to duplicate his mentor’s life-long rule.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has said he will soon submit to parliament a bill allowing the president to be re-elected an unlimited number of times.

“If people don’t vote for me, I will leave. I’m not trying to hold onto this place, as I have always said. I won’t cry if I am rejected,” Chavez told the Hello President TV show Sunday.

“If the Venezuelan people say go, I will go,” he said.

Venezuela’s leader is elected by a simple majority by a direct national vote and is the head of state and government for six years, and can be re-elected once.

Chavez first pledged to change the number of allowable presidential terms after he won the presidential election in December 2006.

“I think the country’s Constitution should be changed. This first of all concerns presidential terms. We have no right to deprive people of the possibility of electing a leader they like for a fourth, fifth or sixth term,” he said.

Earlier, Venezuela’s parliament gave Chavez wide legislative powers. The new bill makes it possible for Chavez to issue decrees aimed at full nationalization of the country’s economy, including the power sector and telecommunications, for 18 months.

Kamikaze survivors express regret and anger in new film

Independent |  Jul 24, 2007

wings-of-defeat

By David McNeill in Tokyo

Trying to imagine Toshio Yoshitake as a wild-eyed 21-year-old hunched over the cockpit of a flying bomb is not easy. Yet this kindly pensioner with the easy laugh was once one of a legendary squad of Japanese pilots who terrorised the United States Navy fleet in the Pacific as it inched its way toward invasion of the Japanese mainland.

Long before 11 September 2001 and today’s suicide bomber came the kamikaze, or tokkotai (special attack) pilots as they were known in Japan. Like the jihad martyrs of the Middle East, the Second World War kamikazes were depicted as desperate, fanatical men who burnt with hatred for the US and were ready to die for their god, the emperor. But a new documentary shows a different story.

In Wings of Defeat, directed by Risa Morimoto, a Japanese-American, the dwindling group of ageing pilots who survived express sadness, regret and even anger at their leaders, who told them they were fighting madmen who would kill them all. “They thought they were fighting to end all wars, and they were lied to – as we are being lied to now in Iraq,” Morimoto recently told The Japan Times.

Launched as the US began its attack on the Philippines in 1944, the kamikaze wave damaged or destroyed 300 US warships by flying bomb-laden planes straight at them though a blizzard of anti-aircraft fire. About 5,000 Japanese men, barely out of their teens and with no chance of turning the tide against the US juggernaut, lost their lives

Yoshitake’s survival was a fluke. On the way to attack US ships in the Philippines his plane was shot down and he was badly injured. He says he still has nightmares. “In my dreams I’m trapped in my burning plane on Mactan, trying to escape. But my legs won’t move.”

Masaaki Kobayashi, another former pilot in the film, says all the pilots “thought we were fighting and giving our lives for our families and our comrades”.

Wings of Defeat arrives at a time when a movement led by Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, is trying to rewrite Japan’s wartime history, and hot on the heels of a very different film. In I Go to Die for You, written by Tokyo’s right-wing governor, Shintaro Ishihara, the pilots are eulogised are self-sacrificing heroes. Nationalists often glorify the kamikaze as “falling cherry blossom petals”.

Kazuo Watanabe, who helped compile a book of the secret writings of young Japanese soldiers, says, the imagery along with the relentless barrage of wartime propaganda, helped force the men to strangle their emotions and “accept the irrational as rational”.

Morimoto was persuaded to return to Japan from her native New York to interview survivors after learning that her uncle was once a tokkotai pilot. Until then, she says, all her images of the kamikaze were from US propaganda movies, which were completely at odds with the “kindly, gracious man” she knew. After years of silence, the former pilots relished the chance to explain their experiences. One even criticised Emperor Hirohito.

The film’s producer, Linda Hoaglund, said that when the film was shown to the American survivors of kamikaze attacks, some cried. “For the first time they realised they were just high-school boys … shooting at other high-school boys.”

Chavez threatens to throw out foreigners who criticise him

Independent | Jul 24, 2007

By David Usborne

Hugo Chavez has served notice that foreign dignitaries visiting Venezuela will be deported if they presume publicly to criticise him as he attempts to transform the country into a single-party state dedicated to his vision of “21st century socialism”.

“How long are we going to allow a person from any country in the world to come to our own house to say there’s a dictatorship here, that the President is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?” Mr Chavez asked during his weekly television and radio program, Alo, Presidente, on Sunday.

President Chavez, who is preparing to submit next month to the Venezuelan Congress a radical overhaul of the country’s constitution, did not name names. But the outburst was widely thought to have been prompted by critical comments by Manuel Espino, the president of Mexico’s ruling, centre-right National Action Party, recently in Caracas.

His six-hour broadcast on Sunday contained numerous hints as to the content of the reform, which his opponents fear will hasten Venezuela’s transition to a fully socialist state. With all the deputies in the congress allied with him, the changes are certain to be approved and will be tested in a referendum early next year.

Among them was a confirmation that Mr Chavez, who was re-elected in DEcember by a large margin for a third term of office, will seek term limits on all elected officials with the exception of himself. “If there’s indefinite re-election here, it should only be for the president of the republic, not for governors and mayors,” Mr Chavez confirmed. “They have governing methods that don’t have anything to do with revolution and integration.”

Since December, Mr Chavez has moved swiftly to advance what he has called his Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, named after Simon Bolivar, the hero of the South American independence movement. He has taken steps to nationalise the telecommunications and energy industries, notably forcing foreign oil exploration companies to accept state control of their operations.

He has also launched an ambitious effort to unite the leftist factions already supporting him into a single new party. Officials claim that as many as six million citizens have already declared allegiance to it. Mr Chavez insists that his aim is to shift control of the country’s destiny to the citizenry and the poor. It is a strategy that is sure to play well with the masses. Hunger and poverty rates have been slashed under Mr Chavez’s rule and provision of education and health care has been greatly improved

Is this Big Brother street?

IC Wales | Jul 22, 2007

by James McCarthy

SMILE…you’re on camera. Today we can reveal the incredible rise of CCTV with one Welsh street containing a staggering 73 spy cams in less than half-a-mile.

Wales on Sunday’s count on Cardiff’s St Mary Street and High Street, which runs as one 800m road, equates to one every 11m.

But private and public cameras were most prolific in Swansea’s 240m-long Wind Street Swansea, where we spotted 34 – or one every seven metres.

Newport’s 320m High Street had 20, one every 16 metres, while Llandudno’s Mostyn Street had just 10 over a 1,200m stretch, or one every 120 metres.

In the capital, Cardiff Council defended the figure in one of the city’s main thoroughfares, busy with shoppers and workers by day and heaving with partygoers by night.

A spokesman said: “The cameras in St Mary Street are used to monitor traffic but also the police use them to monitor crime and disorder.

“If there are any accidents, information can be put out to tell people to avoid the area. They’re quite useful.”

And South Wales Police’s Inspector Tony Bishop said: “They are one of the most effective tools to tackle crime because they provide crime prevention, crime detection, and evidence gathering for the courts.”

Barely a pace can be walked down any high street in the country without hundreds of images of shoppers being gathered by public and private organisations.

Spies in the sky sit atop lampposts, adorn walls and peer from doorways at passers by. They snap speeding drivers and motorists running red lights.

So common are they that hardly anyone notices the long eye of the lens in our towns and cities anymore.

There is no official record of camera numbers as shop owners do not need planning permission to put up CCTV.

The result is thousands of cameras watching our every move – Britain is the most heavily observed country in the world.

The latest studies show there are 4.2 million surveillance cameras in the UK, or one for every 14 people.

Whether they make us safer is debatable.

Mark Dziecielewski, of civil liberties group Watching Them Watching Us, said: “Politicians like cameras because they are seen to be doing something.

“But just like you see birds perched on scarecrows, the hoodies and dealers come back once the novelty has worn off.

“Having so many cameras in one place actually makes police investigations harder because they have to divert so much manpower into checking footage from every single camera.”

A spokesman for AXA insurance said CCTV did not necessarily reduce business premiums, adding: “They are usually installed for the peace of mind of the owners.

“Insurers are more interested in the physical security – shutters, grilles and an alarm connected to the police station.”

But doubts over their effectiveness has not deterred businesses from snapping up cameras, which are much cheaper than they once were.

Smart Protection Systems’ Daniel Botterill said: “The quality of the standard cameras was always pretty good, but people were put off by the video recording equipment.

“To get a good picture you would have to change the tape every three hours. Digital technology changed all that. A typical machine will now record continuously for three months.

“It used to cost thousands and has only become affordable for ordinary shops in the last five years.”

The Walkabout chain – which has pubs in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea – has CCTV watching drinkers at every bar.

A spokesman said: “All Walkabout venues have security cameras that record inside and outside the venues 24 hours a day, every day.

“We have them in place to ensure that all of our customers have a safe and fun Walkabout experience.”

Immigration Deception Reveals SPP Threat to America

Family Security Foundation | Jul 19, 2007

spp

By John Lewandoski

When the common sense approach to a public issue is conspicuously avoided by Washington power brokers, it’s a good time to suspect ulterior motives.  Such is the case with our Mexican border and why it “can’t” be secured.  Bottom line: border control is not designed to remedy the security problem.  Rather, the border is designed to be eliminated.

Unnoticed by much of mainstream America, there is an unholy cabal that’s slithering past them. Among the geo-economic power elite in Washington, with our President at the core, is an effort that if not averted will, by 2010 or thereabouts, lead America into a hardened amalgam of tri-national partnership, and eventually into international organization.  The result of this could, and more likely will, be the abolishment of our Constitution and national sovereignty; i.e., America in name, but a “nation-less” country.  It appears that Mr. Bush doesn’t want a common border between Mexico and the U.S., and thus is doing his best to win and maintain favor with the Mexican government and its people, who have everything to gain by border dissolution.

A recent and firm clue that the President is willing to go to extreme ends to maintain this Mexican favor is the Ramos/Compean border agent case that has slapped two U.S. Border Agents with federal penitentiary terms of over a decade each, all as a result of a flagrant miscarriage of justice perpetrated against them by the Bush Administration.  Just ask any of the 70 congressmen who signed legislation in January 2007, introduced by Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), calling for a reversal of the outrageous convictions, and that the two agents be freed from jail immediately.  As of July 2007, no public action whatsoever has been taken by the President to comply.  Worse, facilitating the convictions were the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the total machinations of which produced the sham case and trial resulting in the sentences.  [For much more detail, do a “Ramos Compean” Google-search or see http://www.minutemanproject.com – article “Invasion USA Ignacio Ramos reported in ‘emaciated’ condition.”

What is it that makes this President defy common-sense conduct…

·         by not wanting border security tightly (and easily) implemented, especially in a post- 9/11 environment?

·         by pandering to corrupt, ill-run Mexican administrations when he should be protecting America from such things?

·         by going to inexplicable lengths to use his power to facilitate incrimination of U.S. Government Border Agents in favor of Mexican appeasement?

Answer: largely, it’s the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP). You may have heard the term SPP, but my guess is that unless you frequent credible alternative news sources, this may be your first exposure.

Back on March 23, 2005, in Waco, Texas, President Bush, then-President Vicente Fox of Mexico and Paul Martin, then-Prime Minister of Canada, met at a summit meeting to enter into an agreement between the three countries that is designed, trilaterally, to bring “security, partnership, and prosperity” to these three North American land masses.  Critics, however, believe that the agreement will do nothing more than join these lands commonly together, erase northern and southern U.S. borders and form a North American continental perimeter instead.  They further believe that the idea is to proceed rapidly forward as the next step in the process of NAFTA and CAFTA, both of which propel these three countries toward the North American Union (NAU) and some say ultimately to integration with the overarching New World Order or One World Government.

This isn’t an Orwellian novel.  It appears the idea here, via the SPP, is to make this transition gradually, incrementally and generally unnoticed, for were it to be revealed as it should be, I’d suspect there’d be civil uprisings nationwide.  When it does come under scrutiny, the SPP firmly denies its aims are ultimately toward the NAU, but the framework and underlining implications of the SPP scream otherwise.

Nonetheless, the SPP has a dedicated following and support, as revealed in Marcela Sanchez’s recent Washington Post column, all of which indicates SPP is doing a fine job of convincing some of its “public-spirited” intents. In short, the SPP is so well crafted it appears to promote altruistic “progressive” outcomes no one in his right mind would refute – that is, if one believes the hype.  Columnist Sanchez points out, after all, SPP goals such as “…leaders (President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon) are expected to announce an integrated strategy to combat pandemics…” ; and “…trilateral regulatory cooperation framework, meant to enhance competitiveness, while maintaining high standards of health and safety”. She also states the SPP makes “…no mention of erasing borders and establishing a separate legal system, (or) adopting a single currency…”  Well, of course it doesn’t, even though those tenets are clearly inferred.  Has Ms. Sanchez reviewed the European Union’s (EU) structure lately? The parallel between it and what’s brewing here in Washington is strikingly similar.

Why is the Washington Post promoting SPP support while other qualified journalists counter the Post’s position diametrically, stating that through cunning and design, the SPP is actually an evolving press conference which has already produced signed documents that constitute an agreement (although the SPP indicates no “agreement”, per se, was ever signed.  The SPP is carefully not a law or treaty, because those actions must involve Congressional approval and ratification. So, it appears that our president knowingly side-stepped constitutional protocol by operating a deception to avoid exposure to the other arms of government and, of course, to the American people…at least at this stage of the game.

A good “home” for this new agreement between the three countries then was found in the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. From there, the White House manages many working groups, and according to distinguished historian/writer, Dr. Jerome Corsi, the groups are within the Department of Commerce (DOC); exactly what the relationship is to the DOC, however, is unknown to the general public. The DOC highly refutes direct DOC oversight, stating SPP is a “…White House-led initiative…”.  But it is interesting that the “big three” directly responsible for SPP development under the President are Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, Condolzeza Rice, Secretary of State, and Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security.

Something of a counter-constitutional stench is wafting out of Washington if we start connecting dots the mainline media are ignoring by ignorance, bias, or neglect. Even the SPP’s own website provides their organizational framework of the SPP.  Included are the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Health & Human Services and more— all cabinet level reporting groups that report to aforementioned Gutierrez, Rice, and Chertoff.  And paralleling the US team, assisting in this overall developmental effort, are the parallel governmental bureaucracies of Mexico and Canada.

So what we have metastasizing in Washington, unbeknownst to the general public, are policy making groups, appointed officials, committees, advisory boards and essentially trilateral, parliamentary councils all hard at work in restructuring (destroying, actually) our U.S. constitutional way of American life to create a new world order, pure and simple. Too bold a statement?  Although the SPP denies any infringement on our Constitution, the ultimate and inevitable outcome of any combined, tri-lateral/national construct, by definition, can mean nothing less than a re-written tri-national document.

These working groups compose a “shadow government”, or a parallel of our Founding Father’s constitutional bureaucracy that includes bureaucracies of the other two North American countries in the process. The eventual result of this new, comparable, trilateral bureaucracy is the fear, and some say certainty, that our U.S. laws and regulations will be rewritten to harmonize with those of Mexico and Canada – and all this, now, being accomplished in the Executive arm of U.S. Government, all without congressional oversight or review!

Our continually eroding Constitution, in Article 1, Section 1, declares that all legislative powers shall be vested in the Congress of the U.S.  But Congress has abdicated its responsibility by allowing the Executive branch, by means of the SPP, to steal law-making authority to which it’s not entitled.  Just recently, as the Senate’s immigration bill bit the dust, inserted in that bill — by parties unknown — was an after-the-fact endorsement of the SPP scheme.

The credible journalist/editor, Cliff Kincaid, of http://www.aim.org states, “… The White House was most likely behind this stealth attempt to get Congress to approve SPP, which forms the basis of the North American Union (NAU).”  (aim.org report, July 9, 2007). This ram-through legislation is precisely what seasoned constitutional journalists all along have predicted would precipitate SPP congressional approval. Although the SPP maneuver was included in the now dead immigration bill, don’t remotely assume it, too, is dead; it’s only in a coma, certain to be revived for another stealth presentation snow-job by the same “parties unknown” who placed it there this time around.

Thus is the general overview of the SPP currently buzzing in our Department of Commerce.  It is hoped that the reader is stirred enough to contact Washington legislators to demand accountable, limited government in America, and complete uncovering, inspection, and removal of the SPP.

Your national sovereignty is at stake.