Daily Archives: September 22, 2007

Tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, yet 80% of crime unsolved

This article is for all the strange and freakishly ignorant people out there who think Big Brother keeps us safe from crime and terror. These are the same people who think that gun-control reduces crime, who believe Islamic terrorists attacked London on 7/7 and New York on 9/11 and they are thoroughly convinced that if we don’t stop driving SUVs, the Earth will literally burn up into a cinder floating in space.

Stop parroting propaganda. Destroy your TV sets right now, flush your drugs down the toilet and go jump in a cold lake and wake up to reality. Thinking is hard to do isn’t it? Such a heavy burden. Let’s just let the elites do our thinking for us is how you want it. Well, that is how you invite tyranny to take over your life to the point of threatening your very survival.

The true power behind all major wars, false-flag terror operations, the global warming hoax, the Big Brother police state, the North American Union, the EU and the Asian Union, international drug trafficking, human trafficking, social degeneration and the economic meltdown is the plutocratic, globalist Illuminati and their monopoly on banking, industry and government and yes, even religion.

International Royalty, Bilderberg industrialists, Freemasons, Papal orders, the central bankers, the Zionists, the Order of Skull and Bones, intelligence agencies, organized crime syndicates and other interlocking secretive groups are behind this tyranny. We are talking about a few thousand people who are controlling the destiny of the entire world who are in turn controlled by just a small handful of ultra-rich puppet masters.

Big Brother is just another tool that the elite use to track and trace their human livestock. It is all set up by design to further enslave you to their New World Order system.

If you want to be free of this system of high-tech neofeudal slavery, you have to support monetary reform such that the nation’s financial power is taken out of the hands of a few elites, and put back into the hands of the people and their representatives. Controlling the power to issue money is the only way to control your own government. In America, that means supporting Ron Paul for president. As for other countries, you need to find your own Ron Paul and get him (or her) into the driver’s seat before it is too late.

. . .


“Shouting CCTV cameras” in London. Large black megaphones bark orders at passers by

Evening Standard | Sep 20, 2007

By Justin Davenport

London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million, figures show today.

But an analysis of the publicly funded spy network, which is owned and controlled by local authorities and Transport for London, has cast doubt on its ability to help solve crime.

A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.

The figures were obtained by the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly using the Freedom of Information Act.

Dee Doocey, the Lib-Dems’ policing spokeswoman, said: “These figures suggest there is no link between a high number of CCTV cameras and a better crime clear-up rate.

“We have estimated that CCTV cameras have cost the taxpayer in the region of £200million in the last 10 years but it’s not entirely clear if some of that money would not have been better spent on police officers.

“Although CCTV has its place, it is not the only solution in preventing or detecting crime.

“Too often calls for CCTV cameras come as a knee-jerk reaction. It is time we engaged in an open debate about the role of cameras in London today.”

The figures show:

• There are now 10,524 CCTV cameras in 32 London boroughs funded with Home Office grants totalling about £200million.

• Hackney has the most cameras – 1,484 – and has a better-than-average clearup rate of 22.2 per cent.

• Wandsworth has 993 cameras, Tower Hamlets, 824, Greenwich, 747 and Lewisham 730, but police in all four boroughs fail to reach the average 21 per cent crime clear-up rate for London.

• By contrast, boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea, Sutton and Waltham Forest have fewer than 100 cameras each yet they still have clear-up rates of around 20 per cent.

• Police in Sutton have one of the highest clear-ups with 25 per cent.

• Brent police have the highest clear-up rate, with 25.9 per cent of crimes solved in 2006-07, even though the borough has only 164 cameras.

The figures appear to confirm earlier studies which have thrown doubt on the effectiveness of CCTV cameras.

A report by the criminal justice charity Nacro in 2002 concluded that the money spent on cameras would be better used on street lighting, which has been shown to cut crime by up to 20 per cent.

Scotland Yard is trying to improve its track record on the use of CCTV and has set up a special unit which collects and circulates CCTV images of criminals.

A pilot project is running in Southwark and Lambeth and is expected to be rolled out across the capital.

The figures only include state-funded cameras.

The true number, once privately run units and CCTV at rail and London Underground stations are taken into account, will be significantly higher.

. . .


“Every Step You Take” Trailer – CCTV in Britain

Every Step You Take – Homepage

Blackwater back on the streets of Baghdad

AFP | Sep 21, 2007

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Despite opposition from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, US security company Blackwater was back on the streets of Baghdad on Friday, four days after being grounded over a fatal shooting incident.

Maliki, meanwhile, was in the firing line over a damning report by the US embassy made public Friday detailing corruption plaguing his government, which called his office’s attitude to tackling the problem “openly hostile.”

Blackwater guards, whom a furious Maliki wanted replaced after they opened fire in Baghdad killing 10 people, were on Friday protecting US personnel on limited missions, US spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo told AFP.

“We have resumed limited movement today. It is very limited and all missions need to be pre-approved,” she said.

“The decision was taken by us in consultation with the Iraqi government. All convoys will be protected by PSDs (private security details). Yes, it is Blackwater.”

The US embassy ordered all staff confined to the highly protected Green Zone in Baghdad on Tuesday following Sunday’s shooting into a crowded square by Blackwater guards escorting a US civilian convoy through the capital.

Iraqis say civilians were killed, while Blackwater insists the convoy came under attack by insurgents.

Maliki demanded that Blackwater be replaced for the security duties. The firm provides guards for US officials and civilian employees in the war-torn country.

The issue is expected to be on the agenda when Maliki holds talks in New York next week at the United Nations General Assembly.

Also likely to be discussed is the draft embassy report into Iraqi government graft. Posted on the IraqSlogger.com website, it paints a grim picture of corruption at all levels.

Many departments, it says, are controlled by criminal gangs and militia while Maliki’s office has shown an “open hostility” to allowing independent investigators to probe corruption cases.

The 82-page corruption report is marked “sensitive but not classified” and labelled a “working draft.”

Nantongo confirmed that it is still only a draft and that there are questions about the reliability of some of the sources.

The Commission of Public Integrity (CPI), which is tasked with rooting out corruption from state institutions, is “a passive rather than a true investigative agency,” the report says.

“Though legally empowered to conduct investigations, the combined security situation and the violent character of the criminal elements within the ministries make investigation of corruption too hazardous for all but a tactically robust police force with the support of the Iraqi government.

“Currently this support is lacking,” it says, adding that this has allowed the “corruption to be the norm in many ministries.”

“(CPI investigators) cannot be trusted to truthfully reveal criminal activity against anyone protected by the violent or powerful,” the report says.

The interior ministry is seen by Iraqis as untouchable while corruption investigations in the defence ministry are judged to be ineffectual, it says.

“Several ministries are so controlled by criminal gangs or militias as to be impossible to operate (in the absence of) a tactical force protecting the investigator.”

The White House said Friday that Maliki was “working hard” to fight corruption but declined to say whether he had been “adequately successful.”

“We generally feel, in the administration, that they are trying to battle corruption,” said spokesman Tony Fratto, who added that some corruption was to be expected in Iraq which lacks basic institutional safeguards against it.

Bush and Maliki will meet on Tuesday, the White House said.

In other developments, police said on Friday that unidentified gunmen had killed an Iraqi radio journalist in Mosul in the second such attack in Iraq’s main northern city this month.

US forces also said they used a photograph to identify an Iranian they arrested in northern Iraq as a wanted bomb smuggler, amid claims by Iran the detainee is a businessman.

The Iranian was arrested on Thursday at a hotel in Sulaimaniyah, the northern city that is part of the autonomous Kurdish region.

Blackwater: Hired Guns, Above the Law


The Nation | Sep 21, 2007

by Jeremy Scahill

The Nation — Editor’s Note: This is an edited transcript of the prepared testimony of Jeremy Scahill before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, September 21, 2007.

My name is Jeremy Scahill. I am an investigative reporter for The Nation magazine and the author of the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. I have spent the better part of the past several years researching the phenomenon of privatized warfare and the increasing involvement of the private sector in the support and waging of US wars. During the course of my investigations, I have interviewed scores of sources, filed many Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained government contracts and private company documents of firms operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. When asked, I have attempted to share the results of my investigations, including documents obtained through FOIA and other processes, with members of Congress and other journalists.

I would like to thank this committee for the opportunity to be here today and for taking on this very serious issue. Over the past six days, we have all been following very closely the developments out of Baghdad in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of as many as 20 Iraqis by operatives working for the private military company Blackwater USA. The Iraqi government is alleging that among the dead are a small child and her parents and the prime minister has labeled Blackwater’s conduct as “criminal” and spoke of “the killing of our citizens in cold blood.” While details remain murky and subject to conflicting versions of what exactly happened, this situation cuts much deeper than this horrifying incident. The stakes are very high for the Bush administration because the company involved, Blackwater USA, is not just any company. It is the premiere firm protecting senior State Department officials in Iraq, including Ambassador Ryan Crocker. This company has been active in Iraq since the early days of the occupation when it was awarded an initial $27 million no-bid contract to guard Ambassador Paul Bremer. During its time in Iraq, Blackwater has regularly engaged in firefights and other deadly incidents. About 30 of its operatives have been killed in Iraq and these deaths are not included in the official American death toll.

While the company’s operatives are indeed soldiers of fortune, their salaries are paid through hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxpayer funds allocated to Blackwater. What they do in Iraq is done in the name of the American people and yet there has been no effective oversight of Blackwater’s activities and actions. And there has been absolutely no prosecution of its forces for any crimes committed against Iraqis. If indeed Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater USA last Sunday, as appears to be the case, culpability for these actions does not only lie with the individuals who committed the killings or with Blackwater as a company, but also with the entity that hired them and allowed them to operate heavily-armed inside Iraq–in this case, the US State Department.

While the headlines of the past week have been focused on the fatal shootings last Sunday, this was by no means an isolated incident. Nor is this is simply about a rogue company or rogue operators. This is about a system of unaccountable and out of control private forces that have turned Iraq into a wild west from the very beginning of the occupation, often with the stamp of legitimacy of the US government.

What happened Sunday is part of a deadly pattern, not just of Blackwater USA’s conduct, but of the army of mercenaries that have descended on Iraq over the past four years. They have acted like cowboys, running Iraqis off the road, firing indiscriminately at vehicles and, in some cases, private forces have appeared on tape seemingly using Iraqis for target practice. They have shown little regard for Iraqi lives and have fueled the violence in that country, not just against the people of Iraq but also against the official soldiers of the United States military in the form of blowback and revenge attacks stemming from contractor misconduct. These private forces have operated in a climate where impunity and immunity have gone hand in hand.

Active duty soldiers who commit crimes or acts of misconduct are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the court martial system. There have been scores of prosecutions of soldiers– some 64 courts martial on murder-related charges in Iraq alone. That has not been the case with these private forces. Despite many reports–some from US military commanders–of private contractors firing indiscriminately at Iraqis and vehicles and killing civilians, not a single armed contractor has been charged with any crime. They have not been prosecuted under US civilian law; US military law and the Bush administration banned the Iraqi government from prosecuting them in Iraqi courts beginning with the passage of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 in 2004. The message this sends to the Iraqi people is that these hired guns are above any law.

US contractors in Iraq reportedly have their own motto: “What happens here today, stays here today.” That should be chilling to everyone who believes in transparency and accountability of US operations and taxpayer funded activities– not to mention the human rights of the Iraqis who have fallen victim to these incidents and have been robbed of any semblance of justice.

The Iraqi government says it has evidence of seven deadly incidents involving Blackwater. It is essential that the Congress request information on these incidents from the Iraqi authorities. What we do know is that in just the past nine months, Blackwater forces have been involved with several fatal actions. Last Christmas Eve, as Katy mentioned, an off-duty Blackwater contractor allegedly killed a bodyguard for the Iraqi Vice President. Blackwater whisked that individual out of the country. Iraqi officials labeled the killing a “murder” and have questioned privately as to why there has apparently been no consequences for that individual. Blackwater says it fired the individual and is cooperating with the US Justice Department. To my knowledge no charges have yet been brought in that case.

This past May, Blackwater operatives engaged in a gun battle in Baghdad, lasting an hour, that drew in both US military and Iraqi forces, in which at least four Iraqis are said to have died. The very next day in almost the same neighborhood, the company’s operatives reportedly shot and killed an Iraqi driver near the Interior Ministry. In the ensuing chaos, the Blackwater guards reportedly refused to give their names or details of the incident to Iraqi officials, sparking a tense standoff between American and Iraqi forces, both of which were armed with assault rifles.

The actions of this one company, perhaps more than any other private actor in the occupation, have consistently resulted in escalated tension and more death and destruction in Iraq–from the siege of Fallujah, sparked by the ambush of its men there in March of 2004, to Blackwater forces shooting at Iraqis in Najaf with one Blackwater operative filmed on tape saying it was like a “turkey shoot” to the deadly events of the past week.

Colonel Thomas Hammes, the US military official once overseeing the creation of a new Iraqi military, has described driving around Iraq with Iraqis and encountering Blackwater operatives. “[They] were running me off the road. We were threatened and intimidated,” Hammes said. But, he added, “they were doing their job, exactly what they were paid to do in the way they were paid to do it, and they were making enemies on every single pass out of town.” Hammes concluded the contractors were ” hurting our counterinsurgency effort.”

Brigadier General Karl Horst, deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division said of private security contractors, “These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force…. They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place.” Horst tracked contractor conduct for a two month period in Baghdad and documented at least a dozen shootings of Iraqi civilians by contractors, resulting in six Iraqi deaths and the wounding of three others. That is just one General in one area of Iraq in just 60 days.

The conduct of these private forces sends a clear message to the Iraqi people: American lives are worth infinitely more than theirs, even if their only crime is driving their vehicle in the wrong place at the wrong time. One could say that Blackwater has been very successful at fulfilling its mission–to keep alive senior US officials. But at what price?

It is long past due for the actions of Blackwater USA and the other private military firms operating in Iraq–actions carried out in the names of the American people and with US tax dollars–to be carefully and thoroughly investigated by the US Congress. For the Iraqi people, this is a matter of life, and far too often, death. In the bigger picture, this body should seriously question whether the linking of corporate profits to war making is in the best interests of this nation and the world. I would humbly submit that the chairs of relevant committees in both the House and Senate use their power of subpoena to compel the heads of the major war contracting companies operating on the US payroll in Iraq to appear publicly before the American people and answer for the actions of their forces. I am prepared to answer any questions.

Schwarzenegger embraces role as global-warming statesman

Governor, not president, seen as head of U.S. fight

COPLEY NEWS | Sep, 20, 2007

By Michael Gardner

SACRAMENTO – When the U.N. secretary-general extended an off-the-cuff invitation to participate in a global-warming conference in New York City, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t hesitate.

“Of course. I feel honored. Thank you,” Schwarzenegger answered without pause as he and Ban Ki-moon wrapped up a July tour of a San Jose company researching ways to limit greenhouse gases.

In contrast, President Bush has withstood growing international pressure to become more aggressive in setting a national agenda to curb global warming.

The world will be reminded of the stark difference between the two Republicans when Bush and Schwarzenegger take separate stages next week.

On Monday, Schwarzenegger will be at the United Nations to promote California’s landmark law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and urge all nations to answer what he considers one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

Schwarzenegger “has become the de facto president on the world stage because President Bush has been so absent,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a national advocacy group.

Bush, meanwhile, has invited leading nations to Washington Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 to begin drafting a long-term, largely voluntary program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with an eye on the effects on industry. His goal is to produce a framework by the end of next year that would guide international policy after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

“We are at the point of renewal of the climate-change agenda,” said James Connaughton, chairman of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Internationally, global warming is being blamed for drought-induced famines, a shrinking polar ice cap and killer heat waves. In California, Schwarzenegger has warned of drawn-out dry spells, forests turned into tinderboxes and damaging floods from early snow melt. Most scientists say greenhouse gas emissions – mostly from cars, refineries and industry – are a major contributor to global warming.

Since taking office, Schwarzenegger has been a dominant force driving U.S. attitudes toward global warming.

“While the Bush administration doesn’t have a great record on climate change, we are very impressed with what the governor of California is doing,” said Gregory Barker, a member of the British Parliament since 2001.

“Governor Schwarzenegger has not been talking. He’s been doing,” said Barker, the Conservative Party’s voice on environmental affairs.

John Bruton, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, said his member countries look to California and its governor for leadership.

“When Europeans think of innovation, they think of California,” said Bruton, the former prime minister of Ireland. “If California says the problem of climate change is real, we have a sense California knows what it’s talking about.”

Many Europeans are skeptical of Bush’s commitment, particularly since he has failed to endorse Kyoto’s goals to curb global warming.

“It is no secret that across Europe, that has been a great disappointment,” Barker said. “Without America involved, there can be no solution to climate change.”

Schwarzenegger also has openly criticized the president on the issue.

Through Linda Adams, the governor’s top environmental adviser, Schwarzenegger gave the president a no-confidence vote on the eve of the two global warming meetings.

“We’re assuming there will need to be a new president before we’re afforded meaningful action,” said Adams, a Democrat.

Schwarzenegger has threatened to take the Bush administration to court over California’s right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. He maneuvered around the president to craft such agreements between states and has met independently with world leaders in Canada, France and England.

He also secured a commitment from some Republican governors as well as the mayor of New York to participate in reduction programs.

All of this does not come without cost – financial and political. Schwarzenegger has been criticized for promoting industry-friendly incentives over tighter regulations and for spending tax dollars on globe-trotting.

Some consumer watchdogs also criticized Adams and others for taking a spring trip to Europe financed by the California Climate Action Registry, which receives funding from regulated industries. Some business leaders also joined the trip, giving them access to decision-makers.

“Big-business opponents of greenhouse gas reductions bought high-quality face time,” said Carmen Balber of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

Nevertheless, some prominent Democrats don’t fault Schwarzenegger’s trips.

“The governor has to go because Bush isn’t doing his job,” said state Attorney General Jerry Brown, a former governor. “As the leader of California, he’s a very visible national figure. People pay attention to him.”

Brown did say he was encouraged by the president’s call for a summit on the issue.

“It’s significant George Bush is now using the word ‘global warming’ and talking about it as a serious threat and promising to do something,” Brown said. “It’s a fundamental shift of position.”

Joel Schwartz, an analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said politicians and the public need to keep in mind that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could force higher energy prices and squeeze supplies.

“No matter where you are, people are going to have a tough time giving that up,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz is skeptical of the dire warnings. “Climate change is not a crisis,” he said. “The thing we should be most afraid of is rushing to foolish policy.”

The president’s platform includes working with big emitters such as China and India. He also wants to curb rampant deforestation because trees take carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, out of the air. And he wants to strike technology-sharing deals.

Bush believes more can be accomplished through voluntary programs that offer incentives. He also wants to see more progress from India and China before inflicting the pain of mandatory emission controls on U.S. companies.

Initially a global warming skeptic, Bush said in a recent letter to world leaders that “science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it.”

The president added that he wants “special emphasis on how major economies can, in close cooperation with the private sector, accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies.”

European leaders say they are looking to Bush to provide a clear signal of U.S. direction.

“Business needs certainty about the regulatory regime,” said Bruton, the European Union ambassador.

Barker, the member of Britain’s Parliament, said the United States can no longer avoid tough choices.

“It’s not a question of pass or pay,” he said. “You have to play this one.”

. . .


Global warming due to natural 1,500-year cycle, say experts

Chilling truth about ‘global warming’ hypocrisy

China says one-child policy helps protect climate

Majority Of Scientists Don’t Support Man Made Warming Theory

Making a killing: how private armies became a $120 billion global industry

Independent | Sep 21, 2007

By Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle

In Nigeria, corporate commandos exchange fire with local rebels attacking an oil platform. In Afghanistan, private bodyguards help to foil yet another assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai. In Colombia, a contracted pilot comes under fire from guerrillas while spraying coca fields with pesticides. On the border between Iraq and Iran, privately owned Apache helicopters deliver US special forces to a covert operation.

This is a snapshot of a working day in the burgeoning world of private military companies, arguably the fastest-growing industry in the global economy. The sector is now worth up to $120bn annually with operations in at least 50 countries, according to Peter Singer, a security analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“The rate of growth in the security industry has been phenomenal,” says Deborah Avant, a professor of political science at UCLA. The single largest spur to this boom is the conflict in Iraq.

The workings of this industry have come under intense scrutiny this week in the angry aftermath of the killing of Iraqi civilians by the US-owned Blackwater corporation in Baghdad. The Iraqi government has demanded the North Carolina-based company is withdrawn. But with Blackwater responsible for the protection of hundreds of senior US and Iraqi officials, from the US ambassador to visiting congressional delegations, there is certainty in diplomatic and military circles that this will not happen.

The origins of these shadow armies trace back to the early 1990s and the end of the Cold War, Bob Ayers, a security expert with Chatham House in London, explains: “In the good old days of the Cold War there were two superpowers who kept a lid on everything in their respective parts of the world.”

He likens the collapse of the Soviet Union to “taking the lid off a pressure cooker”. What we have seen since, he says, is the rise of international dissident groups, ultranationalists and multiple threats to global security.

The new era also saw a significant reduction in the size of the standing armies, at the same time as a rise in global insecurity which increased both the availability of military expertise and the demand for it. It was a business opportunity that could not be ignored.

Now the mercenary trade comes with its own business jargon. Guns for hire come under the umbrella term of privatised military firms, with their own acronym PMFs. The industry itself has done everything it can to shed the “mercenary” tag and most companies avoid the term “military” in preference for “security”. “The term mercenary is not accurate,” says Mr Ayers, who argues that military personnel in defensive roles should be distinguished from soldiers of fortune.

There is nothing new about soldiers for hire, the private companies simply represent the trade in a new form. “Organised as business entities and structured along corporate lines, they mark the corporate evolution of the mercenary trade,” according to Mr Singer, who was among the first to plot the worldwide explosion in the use of private military firms.

In many ways it mirrors broader trends in the world economy as countries switch from manufacturing to services and outsource functions once thought to be the preserve of the state. Iraq has become a testing ground for this burgeoning industry, creating staggering financial opportunities and equally immense ethical dilemmas.

None of the estimated 48,000 private military operatives in Iraq has been convicted of a crime and no one knows how many Iraqis have been killed by private military forces, because the US does not keep records.

According to some estimates, more than 800 private military employees have been killed in the war so far, and as many as 3,300 wounded.

These numbers are greater than the losses suffered by any single US army division and larger than the casualties suffered by the rest of the coalition put together.

A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: “These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people.”

In Abu Ghraib, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators were reportedly private contractors.

Private soldiers are involved in all stages of war, from training and war-gaming before the invasion to delivering supplies. Camp Doha in Kuwait, the launch-pad for the invasion, was built by private contractors.

It is not just the military that has turned to the private sector, humanitarian agencies are dependent on PMFs in almost every war zone from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Which raises the next market the industry would like to see opened: peacekeeping. And the lobbying has already begun.

Chavez to put troops on the streets “to ensure citizens’ security”


Under the Venezuelan Constitution, security bodies have “a civilian nature.” However, in his proposed changes to the Constitution, President Hugo Chávez suggests giving the National Armed Force (FAN) a new role, namely, “permanent participation in tasks to ensure citizens’ security”

EL UNIVERSAL | Sep 21 , 2007

Venezuelan Armed Force may become free to take the streets


The question of demilitarization of police corps as a signal of their degree of democratization is a highly complicated issue. Some European countries such as Belgium, Spain, France and Italy have followed an undisputable democratic path with police services both attached to the ministries of defense and having a military arrangement.

However, “the fact that police and military roles have not been separated has brought about a number of problems preventing the implementation of a police model that is civilian and respects human rights,” claims attorney José María Rico, a Canadian expert in police services.

Under the Venezuelan Constitution, security bodies have “a civilian nature.” However, in his proposed changes to the Constitution, President Hugo Chávez suggests giving the National Armed Force (FAN) a new role, namely, “permanent participation in tasks to ensure citizens’ security.” The draft reform even proposes the possibility to “organize police corps” as part of the National Guard.

Both retired colonel Alfredo Daniels Torres -a co-founder in 1998 of the Human Rights Division, Ministry of Defense- and retired lieutenant colonel Héctor Herrera -chair of the Bolivarian Military Front- stressed that such a proposal “should not raise the alarms,” as both the National Guard and the Military Police Corps are currently playing a role in citizens’ security tasks. However, the technical secretary of the extinct Commission for Police Reform, Soraya El Achkar, claims “risk levels are likely to increase.”

“Violence and abuse of power are likely to worsen. The military are trained to defend the territory; they use weapons and have values such as discipline, subordination, and obedience. On the other hand, the police corps are involved in crime prevention and settlement of conflicts through mediation; the use non-lethal weapons, and should have cardinal values such as prudence and dialogue,” explains El Achkar.

Daniels Torres, however, underscores that military officers can respect human rights and do their job. “Under the United Nations, the role of police corps -either civilian or military- is not restricted. A manual outlines every possible procedure to be followed regarding security tasks, while respecting human rights. Human rights never stop a police officer from acting.”

He notices that the Venezuelan military have been since 1998 to date, and have started to receive training in human rights. “Every military school in this country teaches this subject matter today.”

Last August 26, during his weekly radio and television show Aló, Presidente (Hello, President), Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chávez clarified that in his draft changes to the Constitution he proposed that “the National Armed Force is conferred upon the responsibility to play an active role in citizens’ security tasks,” because he was taking into consideration the insecurity problems facing the country. At that time, Chávez claimed that “the only component of the National Armed Force that is currently authorized to take the streets and fight crime is the National Guard.” “The Army cannot do that, unless in a special situation and under precise instructions,” Chávez stated.

According to El Achkar, that should change. “The National Armed Force -under a presidential decree- should be instructed to take the streets only when police corps has been surpassed. If, in the Constitution, you transfer this role to the National Armed Force, then you are widening its functions, and making it a rule rather than an exception.”

She reminds that the extinct Commission for Police Reform recommended organizing “merely civilian” police corps. And she warns that changing the role of FAN in this regard will not solve the problem of crime.

“In order to cut crime rates, prevention is needed, and at the present time the National Guard hits the streets only to be present there. Patrolling is not enough, as criminals move to other areas, where there are not law enforcement officers. This is a wrong strategy.”

According to Herrera, however, this “structural change” will bring “excellent results,” and will also pave the way for FAN to act. “You cannot issue a decree every time to instruct the FAN to act for the sake of the people. In case of emergency, you will not need a special mandate, as this would be provided for” under the Constitution.

. . .



Student movement denounces “Chávez’ abuses”
Chávez “plans to change the Constitution in order to stay in power forever,” because the Venezuelan ruler “does not believe in democracy” and intends to “build a communist regime.”

‘Chessboard killer’ claims Russian murder record

Police expected him to be declared insane but were shocked when he was found to be of sound mind.


Alexander Pichushkin, accused of killing dozens of people, looks on from behind a glass security cage during the first day of his trial in Moscow, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007. After his arrest last year, Alexander Pichushkin claimed that he had killed more than 60 people in a Moscow park over several years marking his slayings on a chessboard, with the goal to fill all 64 squares, but prosecutors said they had only gathered evidence to charge him with 49 murders. (AP Photo)

Sunday Herald | Sep 22, 2007

Loner says he killed 63 people, not 49 as charged

MANY RUSSIANS dream of living like an oligarch but Alexander Pichushkin, a supermarket porter, harboured a very different ambition: to become Russia’s most prolific serial killer.

The quiet loner, who went on trial last Friday, revelled in his notoriety and loved the fact that Moscow’s newspapers gave him ghoulish nicknames.

The two that stuck, “The Maniac”, and “The Chessboard Killer” made him infamous and feared throughout Russia.

Now that his killing spree is over, Pichushkin claims he realised his twisted goal, murdering as many as 63 people over 14 years, outstripping the previous serial killer “record” of 52 victims.

The police have a problem though. They are struggling to find all the bodies and the evidence to match his crimes.

As a result, Pichushkin has “only” been charged with the murders of 49 people and the attempted murders of three others. His trial has generated intense media interest despite the fact that it appears to be an open and shut case.

Most people charged with 49 murders might be concerned about the prospect of a life behind bars. But Pichushkin has a different worry: the 33-year-old Muscovite wants his bloodthirsty murder tally to be recognised in full.

The man he is “competing” with was executed in 1994, a time when Russia still had the death penalty. Andrei Chikatilo, known as the Rostov Ripper, is widely recognised as Russia’s worst serial killer. For Pichushkin he was the man “to beat.”

Chikatilo murdered 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990, cannibalising some of his victims. Pichushkin hoped to kill more and to go down in Russian criminal history.

When police raided his apartment, they found a chessboard he had used to notch up his victims. One square was marked up and covered with a coin every time he took a life.

His eccentric way of “keeping score” earned Pichushkin the sobriquet The Chessboard Killer. His aim was to fill all 64 squares but his arrest, in June of last year, halted his macabre game.

Police sources say he had filled up 63 squares and was close to completing his “game”. However Pichushkin himself has said he would never have stopped.

“I never would have stopped, never,” he said in a televised confession.”They saved a lot of lives catching me.”

In the same confession Pichushkin gave a disturbing insight into his mind. “For me, a life without murder is like a life without food for you,” he said.

He claimed to have got a sexual thrill from killing and to have felt a satisfying sense of power. “I felt like the father of all these people since it was I who opened the door for them to another world.”

All of his killing was done in Bitsevsky Park in southwest Moscow.

His victims were almost exclusively men between the age of 50 and 70. He followed a well-established pattern, befriending people with a sob story about his dead dog that was allegedly buried in the park. Pichushkin would then invite his victim to drink vodka with him at the dog’s grave.

When Pichushkin was satisfied that his victims were sufficiently intoxicated he would deliver a fatal blow to the back of their heads with a hammer.

He came unstuck however when he decided to murder a woman at a pre-arranged meeting last June. Police found her body in a stream in the park; she had died from a serious blow to the head. Pichushkin had begun to develop a taste for serial killer “showmanship” and had driven small wooden stakes into her eyeballs to garner more attention.

But the woman had taken a precaution before setting out for her meeting and left Pichushkin’s name and number with her son. A metro ticket found in her coat also allowed police to recover CCTV footage which showed her and Pichushkin walking together.

Police were worried Pichushkin might take his own life when confronted with his crimes so staged an elaborate arrest dangling on ropes outside his window before entering SAS-style and making the arrest.

In the event, Pichushkin confessed immediately. Police expected him to be declared insane but were shocked when he was found to be of sound mind.

Giuliani tells NRA that 9/11 altered his views on guns

Newsday | Sep 21, 2007


WASHINGTON – Rudy Giuliani told the National Rifle Association Friday that his own views on gun control have evolved in part due to the Sept. 11 attacks, which he said highlighted the importance of the Second Amendment right of allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns.

Facing a group that he once likened to “extremists,” Giuliani sought to temper his past strong support for national gun control laws by saying he could no longer support a lawsuit he filed as New York mayor in 2000, which was designed to hold gun-makers liable for gun violence.

Giuliani said “there have been subsequent intervening events — Sept. 11 — which casts somewhat of a different light on the Second Amendment and Second Amendment rights. It doesn’t change the fundamental rights, but maybe it highlights the necessity for them more.”

Giuliani has built his presidential campaign on convincing Republicans that his performance after the Sept. 11 attacks shows he is the strong leader America needs — but it was the first time he had linked his personal views on gun control to the terror attacks.

The lawsuit — which ironically was being debated in a New York appeals court Friday as well — was one of the sharpest points of disagreement between Giuliani and the gun?rights lobby, which he criticized as President Bill Clinton’s leading Republican ally in pushing for a national assault weapons ban.

Giuliani rival John McCain also criticized the former mayor’s tactics Friday, calling it a “particularly devious effort to use lawsuits to bankrupt our great manufacturers. A number of big-city mayors decided it was more important to blame the manufacturers of a legal product than it was to control crime in their own cities.”

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson also addressed the meeting of about 400 NRA members, winning by far the warmest reception of the top-tier candidates as he recounted his long-standing relationship with the NRA. He also criticized Giuliani indirectly when he told the audience he doesn’t believe gun laws should be different between big cities like New York and more rural areas of the country — a position Giuliani has taken.

In his remarks, Giuliani sought to forge common ground with the members of the nations’ leading gun-rights group, stressing that he used gun laws in New York City as a way to crack down on rampant crime and turn New York into the safest large city in America.

And he backed off from his past calls for more gun laws in the nation — such as his support of the assault weapons ban — by saying he now believes it is more important to strictly enforce the laws already on the books, with tough mandatory sentences, than to create new ones.

“We need to have zero tolerance for crime committed with a gun. After all, it’s people that commit crimes — not guns,” Giuliani said, echoing a long-standing NRA slogan. In prosecuting gun crime, he called for “no plea bargains, no exceptions, you go to jail.”

On the city’s 2000 lawsuit, Giuliani sought to defend his thinking at the time, saying he was trying to use every law at his disposal and every interpretation of every law to cut violent crimes. He pointed to a 60 percent drop in murders and a more than 70 percent drop in shootings as proof his approach worked.

But he said he could not longer support the lawsuit because it has taken some legal turns that he doesn’t agree with, though he did not elaborate. And he said his thinking also was influenced by a recent court ruling that overturned a strict handgun ban in the District of Columbia, which he said crystallized his own thinking.