Daily Archives: May 19, 2011

TSA backscatter radiation safety tests were rigged

NaturalNews.com | May 17, 2011

by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) It can now be revealed by NaturalNews that the TSA faked its safety data on its X-ray airport scanners in order to deceive the public about the safety of such devices.

As evidenced by recent events in Washington, we now live in an age where the federal government simply fakes whatever documents, news or evidence it wants people to believe, then releases that information as if it were fact. This is the modus operandi of the Department of Homeland Security, which must fabricate false terror alerts to keep itself in business — and now the TSA division has taken the fabrication of false evidence to a whole new level with its naked body scanners (see below).

Even physics professors question the TSA’s obvious cover-up
The evidence of the TSA’s fakery is now obvious thanks to the revelations of a letter signed by five professors from the University of California, San Francisco and Arizona State University. You can view the full text of the letter at:

http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/april-2011-letter-to-john-holdren

The letter reveals:

• To this day, there has been no credible scientific testing of the TSA’s naked body scanners. The claimed “safety” of the technology by the TSA is based on rigged tests.

• The testing that did take place was done on a custom combination of spare parts rigged by the manufacturer of the machines (Rapidscan) and didn’t even use the actual machines installed in airports. In other words, the testing was rigged.

• The names of the researchers who conducted the radiation tests at Rapidscan have been kept secret! This means the researchers are not available for scientific questioning of any kind, and there has been no opportunity to even ask whether they are qualified to conduct such tests. (Are they even scientists?)

TSA operates in complete secrecy
None of the Rapidscan tests have been available to be subjected to peer review. They are quite literally secret tests using secret techniques engineered by secret researchers. We the People apparently have no right to see the data, nor the methodology, nor even the names of the researchers who supposedly carried out these safety tests.

• The final testing report produced from this fabricated testing scenario has been so heavily redacted that “there is no way to repeat any of these measurements,” say the professors. In other words, the testing violates the very first tenant of scientific experimentation which is that all experiments must be repeatable in order to be verified as accurate.

As the professors state in their letter:

The document is heavily redacted with red stamps over the words and figures. In every case the electric current used which correlates one to one with X-ray dose has been specifically redacted. Thus there is no way to repeat any of these measurements. While the report purports to present the results of objective testing, in fact the JHU APL personnel, who are unnamed anywhere in the document either as experimenters or as authors, were not provided with a machine by Rapiscan. Instead they were invited to the manufacturing site to observe a mock-up of components (spare parts) that were said to be similar to those that are parts of the Rapiscan system. The tests were performed by the manufacturer using the manufacturer’s questionable test procedures.

You got that? Where is the outrage from the “scientific” community on all this? This quack science TSA testing is so atrociously and inexcusably bad that if this fabricated evidence were presented at any sort of scientific meeting, they would be laughed off the stage and publicly vilified in the media. And yet, somehow, when the TSA engaged in this sort of quack science, virtually the entire scientific community says nothing. Only a small group of especially courageous scientists has stood up to this obvious quackery, and even these professors are of course being blasted in the press and called un-American for merely questioning the obviously flimsy evidence being laughably fronted by the TSA.

I mean, seriously: Can you imagine the total outcry if an herbal product company claimed that its products cured cancer, and it did all the testing itself, and all the names of the researchers were kept secret, and the methodology was a secret, and the whole document was 50% redacted to protect “proprietary information?” They would actually be arrested by the federal government for running a criminal scam! So why can the TSA get away with the exact same scandalous junk science distortions and virtually no one in the mainstream media asks a single question?

The complete fabrication of safety in the name of false science
It’s amazing what America has come to these days, folks. The federal government isn’t merely counterfeiting money every day (or stealing from your retirement accounts to keep itself afloat, which just started happening yesterday), but the feds are also fabricating scientific evidence to keep pushing their utterly fabricated “war on terror.” The feds in Washington aren’t really fighting a war on terror… they ARE the terror! When the feds reach down your pants and feel your junk; when they force you to be fried with high-powered X-rays at the airport; and when they threaten anyone who stands up to their Nazi-like marching orders, they have become the very terrorist organization they claim to be fighting.

• The dose rates of X-rays being emitted by the Rapidscan machines are actually quite high — comparable to that of CT scans, say the professors. Yes, the dose duration is significantly lower than a CT scan, but the dose intensity is much higher than what you might think. And as anyone who knows a bit about physics and biology will tell you, the real danger from radiation is a high-intensity, short-duration exposure. That’s exactly what the TSA’s backscatter machines produce.

• The radiation detection device used by Rapidscan to measure the output of the machines — an ion chamber — is incapable of accurately measuring the high-intensity burst of radiation produced by the TSA’s naked body scanners, say the professors.

• At the same time, the radiation field measurement device used by the TSA — a Fluke 451 instrument — is incapable of measuring the high dose rates emitted by backscatter machines. The measurement devices, in effect, “max out” and cannot measure the full intensity of the exposure. Thus, the TSA’s claims of “low radiation” are actually fraudulent. By the way, the device mentioned by the TSA really is an F 451. Does that ring a bell in terms of fiction novels? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahren…)

• The amount of electrical current applied to the X-ray tubes has been redacted by the TSA (working with John Hopkins). This makes it impossible for third-party scientists to accurately calculate the actual radiation exposure, and it hints at yet more evidence of a total TSA cover-up. As explained by the professors:

…the X-ray dose is proportional to the current through the X-ray tube. Not having access to the current used in the JHU test, or in the field application of the scanner means that the measurements at JHU are irrelevant to the dose at the airport. There is also no data on the pixel size and overscanning ratio, which also bear directly on the dose delivered to subjects. The statement in the HHS letter that the fluence is not a relevant quantity ignores fundamental physics.

There shall be no independent testing whatsoever

The TSA adamantly refuses to allow independent testing of the radiation levels being emitted by the machines. The agency is using the cover story that “terrorists might be able to circumvent the technology” if anyone is allowed to actually test the machine.

Hilarious! This is the very definition of quack science. You have to trust our in-house fabricated experiments, and we won’t tell you how we even arrived at our test results, and we won’t release the names of the scientists who even ran the tests, but we can’t tell you more because of the terrorists.

Notably, this is after Osama Bin Laden has already been killed, and he was the whole reason the TSA started up in the first place. The terror mastermind is dead, in other words, and still the TSA can’t trust university physics professors to conduct credible science on its naked body scanners.

Actual radiation emitted by the machines is far higher than what the TSA claims

John Sedat, a professor emeritus in biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF and the primary author of the letter says, “..the best guess of the dose is much, much higher than certainly what the public thinks.” This indicates the public has been deeply misled by the actual amount of radiation emitted by the machines.

• Peter Rez, the physics professor from Arizona State, says that the high-quality images described by the TSA could not be produced with the low levels of radiation being claimed by the TSA. The images, in other words, don’t match up with the TSA’s cover story. Rez estimates the actual radiation exposure is 45 times higher than what we’ve previously been told.

• The TSA machines are capable of firing even higher levels of radiation into a “region of interest” (such as your anus or scrotum, in which the TSA seems to be taking great interest these days), thereby exposing that region to even higher levels of radiation than the rest of your body.

Full Story

United Airlines ‘sorry’ about reintroducing 9/11 flight numbers


Newspapers and flags decorate the fence overlooking the Flight 93 Memorial Park in Shanksville, Pennsylvania Photo: REUTERS

United Airlines has apologised after “inadvertently” reintroducing flights numbered 93 and 175 almost a decade after they were involved in the September 11 terror attacks.

United Airlines ‘sorry’ for 9/11 flight numbers blunder

Telegraph | May 18, 2011

By Alastair Jamieson

The carrier began selling tickets for flights with those numbers despite having withdrawn them they were hijacked in the 2001 atrocity.

The move was greeted with dismay by passengers and described as “a terrible misstep” by airline unions.

United 93 from Newark to San Francisco crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing 33 passengers, seven crew and four hijackers while United 175 from Boston to Los Angeles was flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center killing 51 passengers, nine crew and five hijackers.

The airline subsequently withdrew UA93 and UA175 from use – a common practice when a flight number becomes widely synonymous with tragedy.

United 93 was even used as the title for a film about the heroism of passengers who attempted to subdue the hijackers.

However, a recent schedule shake-up in preparation for the ongoing merger with Continental Airlines saw the numbers brought back as codeshares for flights operated by Continental but sold under the United brand.

Neither of the flight numbers would have been used on the same route but the airline responded quickly to complaints.

A spokesman for United said: “We regret that these flight numbers were inadvertently reinstated in our system. We are taking immediate steps to remove them and apologize for the error.”

A similar message was given on Twitter to frequent flyers who criticised the move as “boneheaded”.

The Association of Flight Attendants said using flight numbers 93 and 175 was “not an option”.

Greg Davidowitch, president of AFA at United, said: “We have advised United Airlines that reinstatement of flights 93 and 175 is a terrible misstep. Out of respect for those who lost their lives and those who will always remember our heroes, United Airlines must do what should have already been done – immediately and permanently retire these flight numbers.”

Air France changed the number of its Rio-Paris flight from A447 to AF445 after the former crashed over the Atlantic in 2009.

However, other flight numbers live on. BMI British Midland still operates flight 92 on its Heathrow-Belfast route, the same number involved in the Kegworth air disaster in 1989.

Oakland-based Family Radio sees donations soar as ‘Judgment Day’ approaches


An evangelical group from Oakland has been putting up signs declaring that Judgement Day is coming May 21. This billboard greets travelers headed north on I-880 near the Coliseum complex in Oakland, Calif. Friday April 22, 2011. (Karl Mondon/Staff)

Judgment Day is fabulous for business.

Contra Costa Times | May 18, 2011

By Matthias Gafni

Just ask Family Radio, the evangelical nonprofit that has plastered billboards and driven vans across the Bay Area and the world proclaiming the end of the world will be Saturday. The Oakland-based nonprofit has raised more than $100 million over the past seven years, according to tax returns. It owns 66 radio stations across the globe and was worth more than $72 million in 2009.

As The End nears, donations have spiked, a board member says, enabling Family Radio to spend millions of dollars on more than 5,000 billboards.

But it is not about money, say President Harold Camping and board member Tom Evans. It’s about spreading the Gospel and saving as many people as possible.

What will the nonprofit do with the millions of dollars left in the bank Saturday?

“When Judgment Day comes, if someone is a billionaire, how will they take their money with them?” said Camping, 89, during a phone interview Tuesday. “If we have any money left, and we will because we have to pay bills up to the very end “… it will all be destroyed because the world will be in a day of judgment.

“The money is not important at all. It’s a vehicle to spread the judgment and a vehicle of the Lord.”

Related

Armageddon coming this Saturday; supermarket lines expected to be long

Camping, a Bible scholar and former civil engineer, founded the 24-hour evangelical broadcasting network in 1959. The station with offices on Hegenberger Road in Oakland reaches listeners around the world in 75
languages — locally on 610 AM and at http://www.familyradio.com.

For years, the stations have espoused Camping’s belief that May 21, 2011, is the date of the rapture, when true believers will be taken up to heaven.

For those left behind, there will be a tremendous earthquake followed by six months of mayhem, disease and destruction until Oct. 21, when the world ends.

Camping used mathematical biblical calculations to determine the date. He erroneously predicted Doomsday before, Sept. 4, 1994, but says he has corrected his miscalculation.

The recent marketing blitz has drawn international media attention and the Day of Reckoning date trended as the hottest Google search Tuesday.

In September, Family Radio’s board members made a final push, dedicating all “extra dollars” to billboards and the Caravan project, which sent volunteers across the country in RVs painted with Apocalypse warnings, Evans said. The outreach has paid off.

“Donations have picked up, but not enough to offset the amount of money we’re spending,” said Evans, adding that the organization’s money comes only from listener donations, not corporate or church sponsors. “The only reason we had those assets in ’09 was God had been very generous to Family Radio.”

In 2009, in the last Family Radio tax return that was made public, the group collected $18.4 million in contributions, and earned more than $1 million in investment and other income. That year the group spent $36.7 million, and $41.2 million the previous year.

In 2009, Family Radio also reported employing 348 people earning more than $9 million in wages and benefits.

Camping, however, said he has been a full-time volunteer for five decades.

“I’ve never taken one nickel out of Family Radio,” said its president, who lives with his wife in Alameda. “Many evangelists have become very rich, but my wife and I live very modestly.”

In 2008 and 2009, he lent $175,516 to the organization, according to the tax returns.

Spreading the word of God also did not shield Family Radio from the 2008 stock market crash. The nonprofit reported $8.6 million in investment losses, dropping its stock portfolio to about $35.3 million that year.

It is sad, said a Pinole atheist, that Family Radio preys on fear, particularly during tough economic times.

“I’m concerned people will give their life savings to the organization and come Sunday, they’ll say, ‘Well, I’m still here and all I have is this Winnebago,’ ” said Larry Hicock, California director for the American Atheists, which is hosting post-rapture parties in Oakland and elsewhere this weekend. “This could be a Kool-Aid moment. It takes an incredible denial of reality to not have a Kool-Aid moment.”

Camping bristles at talking about money or fundraising.

“We have no interest in talking about money. We never tell people what to do with their money, that’s between them and God,” he said. “We’ll be paying all our bills to the last day and we’re honest in everything we do.”

Family Radio has no intention of giving away its money or assets before The End.

“There isn’t going to be a Saturday. So certainly none of Family Radio’s assets will be left because it won’t matter,” Evans said.

“The last thing people should be concerned with is what Family Radio is doing or what their assets are. They should be concerned with what I am doing and how I will stand before God.”

Full Story

British businessman facing jail for Prophet Mohammed insult


Insulting Islam is a serious offence in the United Arab Emirates and can attract a fine and a sentence of up to a year in prison Photo: GETTY

A British businessman is facing jail for insulting the Prophet Mohammed after getting into an argument in a shop in Dubai.

Telegraph | May 18, 2011

By Richard Spencer, Dubai

The man, named in court papers as Andrew Graham, 40, is said to have told Hassan Habib, a Pakistani computer salesman, that the Prophet was a “terrorist”.

Insulting Islam is a serious offence in the United Arab Emirates, as in other Gulf countries, and can attract a fine and a sentence of up to a year in prison.

Mr Graham pleaded not guilty at a hearing in Dubai Courts on Tuesday, admitting he had an argument with Mr Habib but denying he had attacked the Prophet or muslims.

Mr Habib, 21, told The Daily Telegraph Mr Graham had seemed to be trying to pick a fight when he came into the store where he sells Dell laptops, Emax in Mall of the Emirates.

“He insulted first my country, then Muslims, and then the Prophet,” he said.

“It was not the first time – he has had arguments in other outlet stores, according to my friends. But they are Indians and with me he increased the argument.”

The court was told Mr Graham had got into an argument with Mr Habib about the Taliban. When Mr Habib insisted that muslims were peace-loving, Mr Graham allegedly said: “All Muslims are mad and your Prophet Mohammad was a bad man. Your Prophet Mohammad was a terrorist.” Mr Graham, who had to be told to change after arriving at court wearing shorts, said: “I spoke with him about the problems between the Pakistani government and the Taliban.

“From what he said I understood that the salesman was a supporter of the Taliban. I told him he was crazy because they were terrorists and they kill people and bomb each other. I didn’t say anything bad about Muslims or the Prophet.” Mr Graham was remanded on bail until the next hearing on June 9, when a verdict will be handed down. He is believed to work in Qatar but to be staying near the Mall of the Emirates, as Mr Habib said he had seen him jogging nearby in the days before the incident.

Inside Obama’s “Orwellian World” Where Whistleblowing Has Become Espionage: The Case of Thomas Drake

democracynow.org | May 18, 2011

National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake faces 35 years in prison on espionage charges for alleged unauthorized “willful retention” of five classified documents. “Espionage is the last thing my whistleblowing and First Amendment activities and actions were all about,” Drake said recently in a public speech. “This has become the specter of a truly Orwellian world where whistleblowing has become espionage.” According to The New Yorker, the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act of 1917 to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous administrations combined. We play excerpts of Thomas Drake’s first public comments and talk to former Justice Department whistleblower, Jesselyn Radack. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: A new exposé by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker magazine has revealed more details about the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers. The article focuses on former National Security Agency analyst Thomas Drake, who’s being prosecuted for leaking information about waste and mismanagement at the agency. Drake was the source for a Baltimore Sun series on the NSA’s overspending and failure to properly maintain its large trove of domestic spy data.

Drake faces 35 years in prison for espionage but isn’t actually accused of spying. Instead, he’s accused of holding on to classified documents in his basement that he says he didn’t know were classified. His trial is set to begin next month in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Overall, The New Yorker magazine reports, the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act of 1917 to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous administrations combined. Gabriel Schoenfeld of the Hudson Institute said, “Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon.”

Drake received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling last month. In his acceptance speech, he criticized the prosecution of whistleblowers.

THOMAS DRAKE: Truth tellers, such as myself, are those who are simply doing their jobs and honoring their oaths to serve their nation under the law of the land. We are dedicated to the proposition that government service is of, for, by the people. We emphatically do not serve in order to manipulate on behalf of the powerful, nor to conceal unlawful, illegal or embarrassing secrets from the public, because truth does matter. Truth may be inconvenient. It may cause embarrassment. It may threaten the powers that be and their unlawful activities, but it is still the truth. I have but this one life to live.

Full Story

World Bank: “BRIICS” Harbinger Of A New World Order

World Bank: The Rise of the BRIICS A Harbinger Of A New World Economic Order

Forbes | May 17 2011

By EVA PEREIRA

The days of U.S. global economic dominance are numbered. A report recently released by the World Bank predicts that by 2025, a multi-polar world will emerge in which economic clout is spread across developed and emerging economies.

Between 2010 and 2025, average growth rates in emerging economies are expected to be more than twice that of advanced economies — 4.7 to our 2.3 percent. The BRIICS (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, South Korea) will lead the emerging world, accounting for more than half of all global growth.

Interestingly, trade and investment patterns are shifting too. Foreign investment deals between developing countries are rapidly increasing. According to the report, over a third of FDI inflows to developing countries now originate in other developing countries, a trend which is predicted to increase as emerging economies further industrialize and shift production down the value chain. This is already underway in China, where the WSJ recently reported rising wages are causing local companies to shift production outside the country, in some cases to Bangladesh, in an effort to keep costs down.

According to Mansoor Dailami, manager of the Emerging Global Trends team and lead author of the report, China’s increasing economic dominance will lead to a more international role for its currency. “The most likely global currency scenario in 2025 will be a multi-currency one centered on the dollar, the euro, and the renminbi.” Already, the Chinese are moving to internationalize their currency through the development of offshore renminbi markets and by encouraging its use in trade.

In the long term, growth in emerging economies will be contingent on their ability to innovate and shift away from an externally driven growth model to one fueled in part by local consumption. Reforms across the board will be needed in order for a middle class to form.

The shift towards a multi-polar world will usher in a new era for U.S. policymakers. Power is no longer as centralized as it once was. Policy coordination will become increasingly important in navigating a more integrated global economy and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.

Ohio High Temperatures Coldest Ever For Mid-May

whiotv.com | May 18, 2011

WILMINGTON, Ohio — Ohio’s chilly mid-May has made the record books.

The National Weather Service says Monday’s high temperature in Columbus of 49 degrees and Tuesday’s high of 51 were the coldest maximum temperatures ever seen on May 16 and 17 in the city.

Tuesday’s cool weather in Columbus broke a record that had stood since 1915.

Also on Tuesday, Cincinnati’s high of 51 degrees and Dayton’s top temperature of 49 were the coolest highs ever recorded in those cities on May 17. The weather service says Cincinnati and Dayton on Monday saw their second-chilliest maximum temperatures for May 16.

Ohio’s central and southern regions are expected to see a slight warm-up on Wednesday — into the 60s.

Cold California spring weather could have profound consequences for fish, wildlife

Cold spring has consequences for fish, wildlife

Record-Bee | May 17, 2011

By Terry Knight

Few people will argue that California is experiencing one of the coldest springs in recent memory and the effect on the fish and wildlife could be profound. The bass should have completed their spawning cycle by now but that hasn’t yet happened. In fact, many of the bass still haven’t moved into their spawning areas. One day they move onto the spawning beds and then a blast of cold weather hits and they move off. This could go down as one of the latest spawning periods for bass in years.

The same goes for birds and other wildlife. Wet and cold springs normally result in a high mortality of the young. The young birds get wet and die of exposure. Even deer offspring have a hard time surviving when the weather is such as we are experiencing this year.

The length of the day and water temperature are what determines the spawning cycle in largemouth bass. During the spring months when the water temperature reaches 60 degrees, the male bass selects a location and fans an area about the size of a dinner plate with his tail. When the water warms up to 62 degrees or more the females start to stage near the spawning beds. The actual spawning occurs when the water temperature reaches about 65 degrees. The height of the spawn occurs when it is between 68-70 degrees.

Water temperature determines how long the eggs take to hatch. When it is less than 65 degrees it can take as long as 12 days for the eggs to hatch. However, if the water temperature rises to 70 degrees the eggs hatch in two or three days. This is important because the longer the eggs take to hatch the more vulnerable they are to predation. Bluegill and other fish constantly try to devour the eggs.

If the water temperature never warms up to 65 degrees most of the females will still spawn although the success of the spawn is diminished. This often occurs in northern states.

So far this year there have been very few days when the water temperature has even reached 63 degrees at Clear Lake. Most of the time it has been hovering between 58-60 degrees.

During cold springs, such as we are experiencing this year, the survival rate for the young is much lower than in warm months. Even under optimum conditions less than 1 percent of all the bass spawned survive. A typical nest sees approximately 2,000 eggs actually hatch but fewer than 20 fingerlings will survive to 10 inches.

Young bass feed on their yolk sack for the first week of their life. Within two weeks they start to feed on insect larva and other small aquatic creatures. Normally by October the young bass should be two or three inches in length and feeding heavily on small minnows or even other young bass. Like most predator fish they are cannibalistic and think nothing of gulping down a brother or a sister. In fact, stomach analyses of adult bass have shown that up to 10 percent of the contents is comprised of young-of-the-year bass.

The later in the year that bass spawn also has an effect on the overall population. If they spawn too late the young bass go into the winter with little body fat and they will have a lower survival rate.

It’s not only the bass that delay spawning when the water is cold. Channel catfish require a water temperature between 70 and 85 degrees to spawn. The optimum for spawning success is 75 degrees. Catfish are well into their spawning cycle by the end of May at Clear Lake in normal years. However, this year that could be delayed until well into July. Other game fish such as bluegill and crappie also require warm water to spawn and so far that hasn’t happened.

As for other wildlife, I have seen very few fawns this year. That means the does are delaying dropping their fawns because of the cold and wet weather. Baby turkeys also have been rare. When a young turkey gets wet it has little chance of surviving. The same applies to just about all species of song birds. As a biologist once told me, “when a wild bird or other animal gets sick it can’t go to a doctor; it either recovers on its own or dies.”

Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Founder Erik Prince’s Private Army of “Christian Crusaders” in the UAE

democracynow.org | May 18, 2011

The United Arab Emirates has confirmed hiring a company headed by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of the military firm Blackwater. According to the New York Times, the UAE secretly signed a $529 million contract with Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign mercenaries. The troops could be deployed if foreign guest workers stage revolts in labor camps, or if the UAE regime were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world. Prince has one rule about the new force: no Muslims. We speak to investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill and Samer Muscati of Human Rights Watch. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: The United Arab Emirates has confirmed hiring a company headed by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater. According to the New York Times, the UAE secretly signed a $529 million contract with Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, or R2, to put together an 800-member battalion of mercenaries.

Documents show the force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from attacks, and put down internal revolts. The troops could be deployed if foreign guest workers stage revolts in labor camps, or if the UAE regime were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world. One contract document describes, quote, “crowd-control operations” where the crowd “is not armed with firearms but does pose a risk using improvised weapons (clubs and stones).”

The UAE is a close ally with the United States, and it appears the deal has received the Obama administration’s support. One U.S. official told the Times, quote, “The gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help. They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”

News of the deal also comes just weeks after the UAE’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited President Barack Obama at the White House late last month. A White House statement said Obama and the Crown Prince would discuss, quote, “the strong ties between the United States and the U.A.E. and our common strategic interests in the region.”

A number of U.S. citizens, including former Blackwater employees, have occupied senior positions in the operation. Legal experts have questioned whether those involved might be breaking federal laws prohibiting U.S. citizens from training foreign troops if they did not secure a license from the U.S. Department of State. The force is reportedly made up of Colombians, South Africans and other foreign troops. Prince reportedly has a strict rule against hiring any Muslims because he’s worried they could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims.

Prince himself now lives in the United Arab Emirates after moving their last year under a cloud of legal controversy here in the United States. The UAE deal is the first to emerge publicly since Prince sold Blackwater and suggested he would leave the private military business behind.

For more, we’re joined by independent journalist, Democracy Now! correspondent, Nation writer, Jeremy Scahill, author of the award-winning bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Jeremy was the first journalist to report on Prince’s move to the United Arab Emirates, two months before it was publicly confirmed.

Full Story

Erik Prince, You’re No Indiana Jones

“If you have connections to the royal families, then the law doesn’t really apply to you.”

thenation.com | May 16, 2011  

by Jeremy Scahill

When Erik Prince, founder of the infamous mercenary company Blackwater, claimed in early 2010 he was leaving the soldier of fortune business, he said he’d decided to pursue a less dangerous and controversial line of work. “I’m going to teach high school,” he said, straight-faced, in an interview with Vanity Fair. “History and economics. I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.” It was an interesting comment. As fans of Indiana Jones will recall, the whip-wielding archaeologist was indeed a professor. But what he did on the side—traveling the globe in search of potentially history-altering artifacts—was his real passion. In one confrontation with his arch-nemesis, archaeologist René Emile Belloq, who is working for the Nazis, Jones threatens to blow up the Ark of the Covenant with an RPG. “You’re going to give mercenaries a bad name,” Belloq tells him.

Erik Prince did leave the US, but he isn’t teaching high school and is certainly not out of the mercenary business. In fact, far from emerging as a neo-Indiana Jones, the antithesis of a mercenary, Prince is more like Belloq, offering his services to the highest bidder. Over the weekend, The New York Times revealed that Prince was leading an effort to build an army of mercenaries, 800 strong—including scores from Colombia—in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. They would be trained by US, European and South African Special Forces veterans. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, also known as R2, was bankrolled to the tune of $529 million from “the oil-soaked sheikdom,” according to the Times, adding that Prince was “hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi” Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Erik Prince is not mentioned by name in corporate documents outlining the deal, but is instead referred to as “Kingfish.”

The contract between R2 and the UAE kicked in last June and is slated to run through May 2015. According to corporate documents on the private army Prince is building in the UAE, its potential roles include “crowd-control operations,” defending oil pipelines from potential terrorist attacks and special operations missions inside and outside the UAE “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.” Other sources said the Emiratis wanted to potentially use the force to quell potential rebellions in the country’s massive labor camps that house the Filipinos, Pakistanis and other imported laborers that fuel the country’s work force. Prince also has plans to build a massive training base, modeled after the 7,000 acre private military base Blackwater built in Moyock, North Carolina.

The US government is aware of the arrangement. “The gulf countries, and the UAE in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help,” one Obama administration official “who knew of the operation” told the Times. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told The Nation she is launching an investigation into Prince’s work in the UAE. “The man who brought us Blackwater, a company whose name has become synonymous with the worst of contractor abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been hired to put together a mercenary army that could be used to suppress a revolt or attack pro-democracy protesters,” Schakowsky said. “I will be pursuing the question of whether Mr. Prince obtained the necessary licenses to conduct the training of foreign troops and whether his actions in UAE have broken any U.S. laws.  Regardless, I do not believe private US citizens should be providing mercenary forces for foreign governments.”

While much of the focus on R2’s arrangement with the UAE has detailed its work within the Emirates, an official statement from General Juma Ali Khalaf Al Hamiri, of the UAE military, suggested that the services of R2 and other Western firms have helped the UAE “to make meaningful and significant contributions in theatres of operations such as Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently Libya.”

The Times reports that part of the UAE’s motivation in getting into bed with Prince was the hope that his “troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran,” adding: “Some security consultants believe that Mr. Prince’s efforts to bolster the Emirates’ defenses against an Iranian threat might yield some benefits for the American government, which shares the U.A.E.’s concern about creeping Iranian influence in the region. ‘As much as Erik Prince is a pariah in the United States, he may be just what the doctor ordered in the U.A.E.,’ said an American security consultant with knowledge of R2’s work.”

In a speech Prince delivered in late 2009, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, Prince spoke of the need to confront Iranian influence in the Middle East, charging that Iran has a “master plan to stir up and organize a Shia revolt through the whole region.” At the time, Prince proposed that armed private soldiers from companies like Blackwater be deployed in countries throughout the region to target Iranian influence. “The Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places,” Prince said. “You’re not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very small, very light footprint.” In addition to concerns of political expediency, Prince suggested that using private contractors to conduct such operations would be cost-effective. “The overall defense budget is going to have to be cut and they’re going to look for ways, they’re going to have to have ways to become more efficient,” he said.

Former employees of R2 “said that in recruiting the Colombians and others from halfway around the world, Mr. Prince’s subordinates were following his strict rule: hire no Muslims,” according to the Times. “Muslim soldiers, Mr. Prince warned, could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims.” One of the Colombians who worked for Prince in the UAE told the Times, “We were practically an army for the Emirates,” adding: “They wanted people who had a lot of experience in countries with conflicts, like Colombia.”

This particular choice is interesting given the past treatment of Colombians by Prince’s companies. In 2006, thirty-five former Colombian troops on contract in Iraq with Blackwater claimed that the firm had defrauded them and was paying them just $34 a day for a job that earned exponentially more for their US and European counterparts. The Colombians said they were originally promised $4000 a month but learned of their greatly reduced pay only after arriving in Iraq. When they protested and demanded to leave Baghdad, Blackwater officials reportedly “threatened to remove us from the base and leave us in the street in Baghdad, where one is vulnerable to being killed, or, at best, kidnapped.” Eventually the Colombians were repatriated. In 2007, one of the Colombian recruiters who had hired the men for Blackwater, was gunned down in Bogotá. This time around, the Colombians were reportedly paid about $150 a day and were recruited by a Caribbean-based company called Thor Global Enterprises. The Colombians were issued visas by the UAE’s military intelligence branch, allowing them to breeze through customs without being questioned.

An American who runs another security company in the UAE told The Nation that news of Prince’s company is “a fricking PR disaster” for the UAE, adding that it will mean “some of the other Sheikhs will want answers about what a private Christian army was intended for.” Prince’s name has also surfaced in connection with another mercenary company, Saracen, in Somalia. The United Nations has suggested that the company violated a UN arms embargo.

Among the other Americans working closely with Prince on building the private army in the UAE is a former FBI Agent named Ricky “CT” Chambers. He recently ran Blackwater’s training program in Afghanistan that was registered under the shell company name of Paravant. That arrangement remains the subject of multiple Congressional and federal investigations in the US and two former Paravant operatives were convicted in March of the manslaughter of two Afghan civilians. Chambers is being paid about $300,000 a year, while US contractors, with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, are being offered pay packages worth up to $200,000 a year to work for Prince in the UAE.

When Prince moved to the UAE last summer, he said he chose Abu Dhabi because of its “great proximity to potential opportunities across the entire Middle East, and great logistics,” adding that it has “a friendly business climate, low to no taxes, free trade and no out of control trial lawyers or labor unions. It’s pro-business and opportunity.”

The timing of Prince’s move was auspicious to say the least. It came just month after five of Prince’s top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince’s longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy, and Prince’s former legal counsel, Andrew Howell.  The UAE does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. “If Prince were not living in the US, it would be far more complicated for US prosecutors to commence an action against him,” said Scott Horton, a Columbia University Law lecturer and international law expert who has long tracked Blackwater. “There is a long history of people thwarting prosecutors simply by living overseas.” The UAE, Horton told me when I first learned Prince was moving to the UAE last summer, is “definitely a jurisdiction where Prince could count on it not being simple for the US to pursue him legally.” The UAE is made up of seven states, the most powerful among them being Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Since 9/11, they have emerged as hubs for the US war industry. “Global service providers” account for some three-quarters of Dubai’s GDP, while oil represents only 3 percent. “They have established themselves as the premiere location in the Middle East for offshore banking and professional services,” said Horton, who has legal experience in the UAE. “If you have connections to the royal families, then the law doesn’t really apply to you.”