Archive for April, 2008

MI5-Led Terror Patsies Back In The Headlines

April 4, 2008

Liquid bomb plot fraud gets unwarranted attention as court case begins

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, April 3, 2008

In light of today’s regurgitation of the alleged terror plot to bomb multiple transatlantic airliners in August 2006, a non-event that led to mothers being forced to drink their own breast milk amidst a myriad of other airport humiliations, it’s necessary to expose once again the true nature of this farce.

“Eight men planned to detonate bombs aboard flights from London across the Atlantic to create deaths on an almost unprecedented scale,” reports the BBC.

“Homemade devices were to be smuggled on to passenger aircraft and detonated mid-flight, Woolwich Crown Court heard.”

Let’s take a moment to recap on a few facts about what actually happened.

– British MI5 Intelligence had already infiltrated an agent within the bomb squad before the alleged attack was set to take place. British newspapers at the time reported on how MI5 ‘sneek and peek’ teams had discovered and bugged the terror cell’s bomb making lab and, “Allowed the terror plot to almost reach fruition – potentially putting civilian lives at risk.”

– In actual fact, as Pakistani news sources highlighted, MI5 learned that the attack was due to take place on Wednesday August 16th – yet they didn’t intend to arrest the alleged terrorists until Thursday August 17th or after – at least 24 hours after the attack had taken place. The timeline offers no other explanation than the fact that MI5 were prepared to let the attack go ahead before they would make arrests.

– U.S. and British authorities were fully aware of the plot at least a week in advance and squabbled between one another on when to announce that it had been foiled. Despite the fact that MI5 had had the group under surveillance for months and had already infiltrated an agent into their ranks, a sudden announcement was made on August 10th that the plot had been exposed as if it was a last minute rescue – throwing airports into chaos as fearmongering set in and travelers were forced to endure all kinds of new humiliation despite the fact that all the alleged terrorists had been under MI5’s control for weeks if not months.

Previous investigations into how MI5 infiltrates its agents into terror organizations provide a pattern as to what undoubtedly happened in this instance – the accused terrorists were likely told that they were helping test security by being part of a drill to measure the responsiveness of airline counter-terrorism.

– The behavior of the alleged terrorists gives no other explanation than they were completely unaware that they were about to be framed for such a mammoth terror plot. The characters and behavior of the known liquid bomb suspects at the time was completely inconsistent with any notion that they were preparing to kill themselves in acts of mass terror – mirroring the pre-attack demeanor of the 7/7 patsies.

– One of the main suspects, Tayib Rauf, was pictured on CCTV entering a bulk order supermarket in Birmingham just two hours before anti-terror police swooped in to grab him for his alleged role in a plot to bomb ten transatlantic airliners. What were the tools of terror Rauf was acquiring before his kamikaze death mission? Knives? Peroxide to make the deadly liquid bomb? Cameras to detonate the bombs? No – he was buying cakes. “Does this look like the kind of person planning such a plot? He doesn’t look like he’s about to blow himself up,” the owner of the store told the London Mirror. Rauf chatted with the owner, who said he was more concerned about his father’s confectionary business than the fact that he was about to aid in the mid-air slaughter of 3,000 people. Any two-bit psychologist can tell you that this individual’s behavior completely belies the notion that his life is about to come to an end. That in itself exposes the alleged plot for the monumental fraud it is.

– Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray also highlighted the limited capabilities and intent of the suspects – proof he said that the alert was government propaganda from a cabal that yearned for a “new 9/11.” “None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn’t be a plane bomber for quite some time,” said Murray.

– Again we were subjected to the same old story – they had young families, they were not political, they were active members of the community, everyone liked them whatever race, they loved football, they planned to be doctors, they had future prospects. The evidence that the London bombers knew they were about to die was so flimsy that newspapers and even the London Metropolitan Police concluded that they were unwitting dupes.

Despite these telling facts, all of which were casually brushed aside by the corporate media, we are now being forced to endure the same dose of fearmongering again two years later, absent the glaring reality that the much vaunted liquid bomb plot was nothing more than a cooked-up fraud on behalf of British and U.S. intelligence.


Ku-ring-gai High students ‘forced’ to accept ID scans

April 4, 2008

By Brad Norington and James Madden

A SYDNEY high school has been accused of intimidating students into having their fingerprints scanned for a new attendance monitoring system, and branding parents who object as “idiots”.

Parents of students at Ku-ring-gai High School in Sydney’s north say their children have been bullied into taking part in a trial of the scheme introduced this week.

According to a principal’s note sent home with students last Friday, parents were permitted to opt out by sending an “exemption” letter to the school.

Parents told The Australian yesterday their children were told their fingers would be scanned anyway, and data later deleted, only if there were still objections.

Alison Page said her daughter in Year 10 and other students who carried exemption letters were told “their parents were idiots for not agreeing”. She said they were asked again if they would have the scans. “They were told to go home and tell their parents they were worrying about nothing,” she added.

Ms Page said her other daughter in Year 12 was among students required to provide finger scans without notice after an English exam on Tuesday. Her daughter had an exemption letter but had not been allowed to take it into the room.

“They were not allowed to leave the room until it was done,” she said. “They were told it could be deleted later if they didn’t want it done.”

Parent Chris Gurman said his daughter Alex was also told she could not leave the exam room until her fingerprint was taken.

“My daughter was the only one who refused,” Mr Gurman said. “She’s read 1984. When she refused to co-operate, a teacher let her out of the room.”

Alex Gurman, 17, said they were told: “‘If any of your stupid parents have any worries about this we will talk about it later.’ I felt like crying, I felt like I was being forced to do something I didn’t want to do, it was very confronting.”

The Australian Council for Civil Liberties raised concerns about people being pressured into fingerprint scans, and said they posed dangers to privacy.

Council secretary Cameron Murphy said: “This is exactly why the process is unacceptable, because in most cases where this biometric information is collected it is very rarely by consent.”

The principal of the creative arts high school, Glenda Aulsebrook, said she was unaware of allegations that students had been forced to accept scans, saying no one was obliged to participate. Ms Aulsebrook denied fingerprints were kept on record, saying only numbers were kept on a database.

She said she first became aware of the procedure at a principals’ conference where she was shown how it operated.

NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca said a small number of schools had introduced fingerprint scanning with the support of parents, adding it was not a government nor department initiative.

“In each case the department has ensured there are strict privacy safeguards and parental consent,” Mr Della Bosca said.

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell said he was worried parents who wanted to opt out might have been forced to participate. The process had also never been formally announced by Mr Della Bosca nor the Iemma Government, he said.

An Education Department spokeswoman said inquiries would be made about the scheme.

Sources in the childcare sector said some long day care and family day care centres used touch screen sign-in systems that recognised parents’ prints.

UPDATE: School stops fingerprinting students

Ted Turner: Global warming could lead to cannibalism

April 4, 2008

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/03/08

Failure to address global warming will have us all dead or eating each other by mid-century.

So says Ted Turner, the restaurateur, environmentalist and former media mogul whose controversial comments have earned him the nickname “Mouth of the South.”

If steps aren’t taken to stem global warming, “We’ll be eight degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow,” Turner said during a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose that aired Tuesday.

“Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals,” said Turner, 69. “Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable.”

One way to combat global warming, Turner said, is to stabilize the population.

“We’re too many people; that’s why we have global warming,” he said. “Too many people are using too much stuff.”

Turner suggested that “on a voluntary basis, everybody in the world’s got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it.”

Admitting that he’s “always suffered from foot-in-the-mouth disease,” Turner added, “I’ve gotten a lot better, though. It’s been a long time since anybody caught me saying something stupid.”

Turner went on to say that military budgets need to be cut “way back.”

“Right now, the U.S. is spending $500 billion a year on the military, which is more than all 190 countries in the world put together,” he said.

“The two countries that the military industrial complex and some of our politicians would like to demonize and make enemies are Russia and China,” Turner said. “China just wants to sell us shoes. They’re not building landing craft to attack the United States, and Russia wants to be our friends, too.”

He said that despite the United States’ huge military budget, “we can’t win in Iraq.”

“We’re being beaten by insurgents who don’t even have any tanks, they don’t have a headquarters, they don’t have a Pentagon, we don’t even know if they have any generals,” Turner told Rose.

Turner called the Iraqi insurgents “patriots” who “don’t like us because we invaded their country and occupied it. Nobody likes to be invaded.”

The CNN founder also said he thinks his old network has veered too far away from serious news, instead favoring lighter stories delivered by attractive female “chickies” and opinion-based news such as Lou Dobbs’ show.

Secret DOJ Memo Says Fourth Amendment Has "No Application" After 9/11

April 3, 2008

Disclosure of classified documents reveal total dismissal of U.S. Constitution

Steve Watson
day, April 3, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union has uncovered details pertaining to a secret Justice Department memo from October 2001 that reveals the Bush administration effectively suspended the Fourth Amendment where domestic counter terrorism operations are concerned.

The ACLU reports that the memo states the “Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.” after 9/11. In other words, the DOJ gave the White House a green light to effectively shelve Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures in the wake of the terror attacks.

The memo was written by then deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo, also the co-author of the PATRIOT Act and author of the now notorious torture memos.

It is almost certain that Yoo’s memo was written to provide a legal basis for the NSA, a military intelligence agency, to begin its warrantless wiretapping program, which was initiated in the same month.

Just days after the memo’s delivery to the White House, Dick Cheney and other administration officials briefed four House and Senate leaders on the NSA’s secret terrorist surveillance program for the first time.

The existence of the 2001 memo came to light via a newly declassified March 2003 document from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) entitled Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States, which makes reference to the previous memo.

(Article continues below)

The ACLU reports that this second memo takes the erosion of the Constitution beyond the Fourth Amendment and makes the case that the central due process guarantee of the Fifth Amendment, the protection against deprivation of life, liberty and property, can also be bypassed by the President.

“This memo makes a mockery of the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU. “That it was issued by the Justice Department, whose job it is to uphold the law, makes it even more unconscionable.”

The March 2003 document was declassified by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the ACLU pertaining to the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad.

In a footnote of the document it is written “Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations”, referring to a document titled Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States.

“The recent disclosures underscore the Bush administration’s extraordinarily sweeping conception of executive power,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “The administration’s lawyers believe the president should be permitted to violate statutory law, to violate international treaties, and even to violate the Fourth Amendment inside the U.S. They believe that the president should be above the law.”

The AP reports that the Justice Department has refused to say if and when the legal opinion expressed in the two newly discovered memos was overturned internally, meaning that it could still be considered legally acceptable to forgo constitutional protections on the President’s say so.

The ACLU has challenged the withholding of the October 2001 memo and the issue is pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

These two new memos provide more sections in the vast jigsaw of legislation that when pieced together makes up the complete overturning by the current administration of the protections provided to American citizens by the Constitution .

Top Bush Administration officials pressured underlings to use torture tactics at Guantanamo

April 3, 2008

Of Guantanamo interrogators: “You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas.”

“Torture at Guantánamo was sanctioned by the most senior advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense, according to the international lawyer and professor of law at University College London Philippe Sands, who has conducted a forensic examination of the chain of command leading from the top of the administration to the camp at Guantánamo,” Vanity Fair will report on newstands today.

The article directly contradicts the administration’s account to Congress, which placed responsibility on military commanders and interrogators on the ground for the practices banned by the Geneva Conventions.

The full story is available here.

Another KBR Rape Case

April 3, 2008


[posted online on April 3, 2008]

Editor’s Note: Lisa Smith is a pseudonym used on request. Additional reporting by Te-Ping Chen. Research support provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.


It was an early January morning in 2008 when 42-year-old Lisa Smith*, a paramedic for a defense contractor in southern Iraq, woke up to find her entire room shaking. The shipping container that served as her living quarters was reverberating from nearby rocket attacks, and she was jolted awake to discover an awful reality. “Right then my whole life was turned upside down,” she says.

What follows is the story she told me in a lengthy, painful on-the-record interview, conducted in a lawyer’s office in Houston, Texas, while she was back from Iraq on a brief leave.

That dawn, naked, covered in blood and feces, bleeding from her anus, she found a US soldier she did not know lying naked in the bed next to her: his gun lay on the floor beside the bed, she could not rouse him and all she could remember of the night before was screaming and screaming as the soldier anally penetrated her while a colleague who worked for defense contractor KBR held her hand–but instead of helping her, as she had hoped, he jammed his penis in her mouth.

Over the next few weeks Smith would be told to keep quiet about the incident by a KBR supervisor. The camp’s military liaison officer also told her not to speak about what had happened, she says. And she would follow these instructions. “Because then, all of a sudden, if you’ve done exactly what you’ve been instructed not to do–tell somebody–then you’re in danger,” Smith says.

As a brand-new arrival at Camp Harper, she had not yet forged many connections and was working in a red zone under regular rocket fire alongside the very men who had participated in the attack. (At one point, as the sole medical provider, she was even forced to treat one of her alleged assailants for a minor injury.) She waited two and a half weeks, until she returned to a much larger facility, to report the incident. “It’s very easy for bad things to happen down there and not have it be even slightly suspicious.”

Over the next month and a half, she says, she faced a series of hurdles. She would be discouraged from reporting the incident by several KBR employees, she says. She would be confused by the lack of any written medical protocol for sexual assault (as the only medical person on site, she treated herself with doxycycline). She would wander through a tangled maze of interviews with KBR and Army investigators about the incident without any clear explanation of her rights. She would be asked to sign several documents agreeing not to publicly discuss the incident, she says. She describes having her computer–which she saw as her lifeline, her main access to the outside world–confiscated by KBR staff as “evidence” within hours of receiving her first e-mail from a stateside lawyer she had reached out to for help.

And eventually she would find herself temporarily assigned to sleeping quarters between two Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) officials, who, she says, assured her that it was for her own safety, since her alleged assailants were at the same camp for questioning; they roamed freely. When she wanted to move about the camp to get meals etc., she was escorted.

Smith felt very alone. But she was not.

In fact, a growing number of women employees working for US defense contractors in the Middle East are coming forward with complaints of violence directed at them. As the Iraq War drags on, and as stories of US security contractors who seem to operate with impunity continue to emerge (like Blackwater and its deadly attack against Iraqi civilians on September 16, 2007), a rash of new sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints are being lodged against overseas contractors–by their own employees. Todd Kelly, a lawyer in Houston, says his firm alone has fifteen clients with sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation complaints (for reporting assault and/or harassment) against Halliburton and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC (KBR), as well as Cayman Island-based Service Employees International Inc., a KBR shell company. (While Smith is technically an SEII employee, she is supervised by KBR staff as a KBR employee.)

Jamie Leigh Jones, whose story made the news in December–when she alleged that her 2005 gang rape by Halliburton/KBR co-workers in Iraq was being covered up by the company and the US government–also initially believed hers was an isolated incident. But today, Jones reports that she has formed a nonprofit to support the many other women with similar stories. Currently, she has forty US contractor employees in her database who have contacted her alleging a variety of sexual assault or sexual harassment incidents–and claim that Halliburton, KBR and SEII have either failed to help them or outright obstructed them.

Most of these complaints never see the light of day, thanks to the fine print in employee contracts that compels employees into binding arbitration instead of allowing their complaints to be tried in a public courtroom. Criminal prosecutions are practically nonexistent, as the US Justice Department has turned a blind eye to these cases.

Jones’s case was the subject of a House Judiciary hearing in December. Right now, Jones’s lawyers are awaiting a decision on whether she will get her day in court or be forced to submit to binding arbitration, which KBR is insisting on. Likewise, the company is pressuring Lisa Smith into pursuing her claims against the company through its Dispute Resolution Program based on the contract she signed before she went to Iraq. Critics argue that the company’s arbitration system allows it to minimize bad publicity and lets assailants off the hook.

Smith, who retained a lawyer only two weeks ago, is weighing her options.

KBR attorney Celia Ballí, responding to a letter from Smith’s lawyer, wrote in a letter dated March 17, “The Company takes Ms. Smith’s allegations very seriously and has and will continue to cooperate with the proper law enforcement authorities in the investigation of her allegations to the extent possible.” Ballí noted that the matter has been turned over to the CID and said that Smith has been “afforded with counseling and referral services through the Company’s Employee Assistance Program.” Ballí wrote in the letter that there are “inaccuracies” in the description Smith has put forward regarding her treatment after the alleged sexual assault. “Therefore, the Company requests that you fully investigate all the facts alleged by Ms. [Smith] as the Company intends to pursue all available remedies should false statements be publicized.”

Such “investigation” may prove difficult for her attorney. In the next sentence, the company says it is “not in a position to release any personnel or investigative records regarding Ms. [Smith’s] allegations at this time.” In response to a request for comment on this story, a company spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that Smith’s “allegations are currently under investigation by the appropriate law enforcement authorities. Therefore, KBR cannot comment on the specifics of the allegations or investigation.” The spokesperson added, “Any allegation of sexual harassment or assault is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.” It remains unclear, however, what law enforcement investigation is examining the KBR employee’s role in the alleged assault, since Army CID is charged with investigating only cases that involve US military personnel.

For her part, Smith can’t quite call herself a victim yet. In the course of several conversations over several days, she never once says the word “victim” out loud. Let alone “rape.” Let alone “gang rape.”

She simply describes what happened, moving through the course of events as if this had happened to someone else, as if the recitation of details were an act of contrition she was compelled to perform.

Like many rape survivors, she feels guilty. In this case, Smith confesses that she broke company policy the evening of the incident by having a drink (alcohol is expressly forbidden). She had landed at Camp Harper only a week earlier, when she returned from a stateside R&R with her family. Since arriving in Iraq six months earlier, she had been at a larger facility, Camp Cedar. But her new posting at Camp Harper put her in a smaller outpost of sixty people: part US military, part KBR employees, part SEII workers. When some KBR colleagues invited her to join them for a drink after work, she did.

Smith says she had only one drink–and she asked someone to hold it after a few sips while she went outside for a smoke. Smith’s attorney, Daniel Ross, speculates that someone slipped the date-rape drug Rohypnol in her drink.

Smith’s memory of the evening is fuzzy, and the only thing she remembers clearly about the events surrounding her assault is the aforementioned moment of oral and anal penetration. She also remembers screaming.

The morning after the incident, Smith says, she was called into the office of her supervisor, who was Camp Harper’s KBR manager; he appeared to know–at least in part–what had happened. She would later learn from an Army investigator that her supervisor had been in the room where the drinking and alleged rape had taken place at least twice that evening. Smith, who appears to have blacked out, has no direct knowledge of his participation–or indeed of who else among the crowd initially gathered in the room may have been involved. “He was one of the people involved in saying, ‘Don’t say anything,'” Smith says of her conversation with the KBR camp manager the morning following the incident. “Then he said, ‘This will never happen again.'”

Smith offered to pack up and go home. But he sent her back to work. First, though, he responded to Smith’s plea to get the soldier she still had not been able to rouse out of her bed by contacting the military’s Special Forces liaison at Camp Harper. The liaison, whom Smith knew only by his nickname, DJ, was direct. “He told me not to speak of this to anyone and that he would take care of it,” Smith says.

Smith sat tight for a few days but then contacted a friend at Camp Cedar, where her permanent assignment was, and asked if the Employee Assistance person for KBR was back from her R&R yet. She was not. Smith was worried about even discussing the incident, since she knew that none of her conversations were confidential. “Camp Harper has only three phones,” she says. “One is in the camp manager’s office. One is in the Operations Office. And one is in a hallway.” She wavered. A few days later, when she knew that the Employee Assistance person for KBR would be back, Smith called her on the phone. The Employee Assistance woman was a friend of hers and, without getting too specific about the details of the incident, Smith sought her advice. “We had worked other situations together in the past, and I talked to her and she was like, ‘I don’t know if I’d report that. You know what happens when you report things.’ And I did. I’d seen it.”

Despite Smith’s silence, rumors were circulating at the camp. Two and a half weeks after the incident, she was questioned by someone from the KBR Employee Relations office, who appeared to be investigating a series of improprieties at the camp, Smith says. Fearful, she denied knowledge of any wrongdoing at the camp.

When Smith returned to her original posting at Camp Cedar, a larger facility with a human resources person and more friends she could approach for advice, she recontacted the man from Employee Relations who had been investigating “improprieties” and told him her story.

This set the wheels in motion for a series of interviews, most of which concluded with Smith being asked to sign a nondisclosure statement by representatives of the company, she says.

Eventually, shortly before she was slated to return to the United States for R&R, one of the investigators for KBR suggested that Smith get tested for STDs, hepatitis, HIV, etc. and took her to the nearby military Combat Support Hospital. “The doctor took me into her office, and we talked a long time before she did an exam,” Smith says. “We talked about the assault and the details and she was actually very, very kind and encouraged me to report it to the military. She tried convincing me that it wasn’t my fault [for having a drink]. She was just a really kind lady–and that was the first time I had given any of the whole details of all that had happened.”

In fact, military protocol compelled the doctor to report the incident; Smith was immediately contacted by the Army Criminal Investigation Division and questioned.

A few days later, shortly after contacting an attorney in the United States to advise her on her rights, the attorney sent her a draft letter he was sending to KBR on her behalf, notifying the company that he was representing her and briefly summarizing her accusations. KBR came to her office within hours, she alleges, and confiscated her computer as “evidence,” effectively limiting her access to the outside world. The CID did not respond to requests for comment.

Many victims of sexual assault find themselves without meaningful recourse when they work for US defense contractors that are powerful companies on foreign soil. “It’s one big battle over where to fight the battle,” said Smith’s attorney Ross, who is considering if and how and against whom to file charges on behalf of his client.

Take Jamie Leigh Jones’s case, for example.

Since Jones alleged she was gang raped in 2005, while KBR was still a Halliburton subsidiary, her case is covered by an extralegal Halliburton dispute-resolution program implemented under then-CEO Dick Cheney in 1997. The program has all the hallmarks of the Cheney White House’s penchant for secrecy. While Halliburton declared the program’s aim was to reduce costly and lengthy litigation (and limit possible damage awards in the process), in practice it meant that employees like Jones signed away their constitutional right to a jury trial–and agreed to have any disputes heard in a private arbitration hearing without hope of appeal. (While two lower courts declared the tactic illegal, in 2001, the Texas Supreme Court overturned those rulings.)

Accordingly, Jones faces two major roadblocks in the fight for justice. The first is the battle to have the perpetrators prosecuted in criminal court–which, because of Order 17, may be nearly impossible. According to the order, imposed by Paul Bremer, US defense contractors in Iraq cannot be prosecuted in the Iraqi criminal justice system. While they can technically be tried in US federal court, the Justice Department has shown no interest in prosecuting her case. In fact, for more than two years now, the DOJ has brought no criminal charges in the matter. Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican who has taken up Jones’s cause, reports that federal agencies refuse to discuss the status of the investigation; meanwhile, in December, the DOJ refused to send a representative to the related Congressional hearing on the matter.

Even more appalling, the Justice Department, which can and should prosecute most of these cases, has declined to do so. “There is no rational explanation for this,” says Scott Horton, a lecturer at Columbia Law School who specializes in the law of armed conflict. Prosecutorial jurisdiction for crimes like the alleged rape of Jones is easily established under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act and the Patriot Act’s special maritime and territorial jurisdiction provisions. But somebody has to want to prosecute the cases.

Horton wonders what the 200 Justice Department employees and contractors stationed in Iraq do all day, noting that there has not been a single completed criminal conviction against a US contractor implicated in a violent crime anywhere in Iraq since the invasion.

“We have a complete process in place for solving military criminal violations when soldiers commit crimes, but for the 180,000 employees of private contractors over there, there is nothing,” says Horton. “It’s like Texas west of the Pecos in 1890 over there!” It’s just common sense that you’re going to have some violent crimes when you throw this many people together, he says. “Think about it. You have 180,000 people over there, you’re going to have a few crimes. I don’t know how anybody could fairly view this as a partisan issue. Crimes happen when you bring people together anywhere, and in a war setting, without adult supervision, crimes are going to increase. That is just a fact. And if you eliminate law enforcement, the crimes are going to get worse because people will quickly learn they can get away with it.”

Things don’t look a whole lot rosier when it comes to seeking relief in the civil courts.

For example, KBR is fighting tooth and nail to make sure Jones’s case stays in private arbitration, as per her contract. And given that in February, a federal district court ruled that Tracy Barker–another KBR employee who says she was sexually assaulted–couldn’t present her case in open court, prospects for the civil suit Jones brought last May look dim.

And that’s particularly troubling, according to Jones’s attorney Todd Kelly, because the clandestine nature of arbitration allows corporate malfeasance to go unchecked. Trials serve a purpose above and beyond pronouncing verdicts. “It’s like the Enron trial here in Houston,” he says. “Where every day in the Houston Chronicle there was a story exposing what egregious things go unchecked in the corporate culture. The United States got to peek into the corporate underwear drawer and saw it was not as pretty as it looked from the outside.” Kelly argues that Halliburton and KBR ought to be similarly exposed to public scrutiny via jury trials. These civil remedies arranged in a secretive manner have repercussions beyond the dollar figures. “It allows for future rapes to occur,” he says, arguing that these defense contractors have been able to quietly settle and compel victims to remain silent: the public remains oblivious to the crimes, no one is punished and a hostile and violent workplace continues unchecked.

In the future, the sole recourse for victims like Jones may be through Congress. Last October the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that requires the FBI to investigate allegations of wrongdoing and permits all US contractors to be tried under American jurisdiction. The Senate has yet to vote on the legislation.

For her part, Jones intends to persevere. “Part of the reason I’m going forward with this case is to change the system,” she says. “Who knows how many of us rape victims are out there?”

Smith, who is now back in the United States on two weeks R&R, is uncertain what the future holds for her. “I don’t think I’ve been able to make any decisions or plans or goals yet,” she says. First of all, there is the fact that she arrived home from Iraq to learn that her husband had been rushed to the hospital earlier that day after a partial stroke. She needs her job with SEII because she is the one who gets health insurance–vital not only for the two teenage daughters still living at home but for her husband, with his health problems. She worries, “Human Resources made me sign statements saying that I’m supposed to be back in Dubai on April 7 at 10 p.m., and if I’m not there I will not be reimbursed my $1,600 airfare or for my two weeks’ vacation.”

And indeed, the March 17 letter her attorney received from KBR attorney Celia Ballí says that Smith can be placed on medical leave “pending resolution of the investigations related to this matter” but warns, “However, per Company policy, [her] leave will be unpaid.” She is welcome to apply for workers’ comp, the lawyer states.

Can she return to her old job as a paramedic in Lena, Illinois?

“Yes, my license is in good standing, and I’ve never had a problem,” she says. “But it means a difference of about $6,000 a month in salary and no health insurance. My biggest reason for working for KBR in the first place was so I could get insurance for my husband and girls…” Smith’s sentence trails off. She begins a new one. Stops midway. She tries again to organize her thoughts. “I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to go back to work. How am I going to make myself do this?” she says, manifesting the confused indecisiveness and sense of a “foreshortened future” that are hallmarks of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Has she seen a rape crisis counselor?

Not yet, Smith says. “Someone from KBR Employee Assistance gave me a flier to call someone in Houston,” she says, but it turned out to be for general financial or emotional problems during deployment. They referred her to a website. “I’m 9,000 miles away in Iraq and the website says, ‘Please put in your zip code and we’ll refer you to a rape crisis counselor in your zip code area.'”

Smith, who says she cannot sleep, appears exhausted. She tells her story without affect, little inflection and tamped emotion. She only tears up twice, most visibly when speaking about one of her sons, a 22-year-old US soldier who served in the Middle East recently. While she was in the process of debating whether–and how–to go about reporting her assault, she contacted him to see what his feelings were on the matter. “I didn’t want him upset with his mom,” she says, explaining that she was very loyal to the mission in Iraq and that he was similarly loyal to his service. “I was assaulted by somebody who was wearing the same uniform as him, and I just didn’t want him to think bad of me. My children are pretty much my world.” Smith’s eyes fill with tears, and she pauses to collect herself. “I didn’t want him to be upset because I was calling out somebody who was wearing his same uniform. They’re supposed to be proud of what they do. And I’m proud of my sons. And in my mind, I live that war every day. I can make all sorts of excuses under the sun for bad behavior.”

Her son advised her to make the formal complaint.

“He was like, ‘Of course you’re going to talk to CID, Mom. Of course you are.'” Smith smiles. “He doesn’t think people should be allowed to wear his uniform and act like that. He’s been in the war too and says it’s no excuse. They’re better trained than that. That’s what my son thought. And he’s not angry at his mom.”

UK Mass genetic surveillance

April 3, 2008

Britain’s police want to routinely put children as young as five on the National DNA Database (NDNAD), even when no crime has been committed.

Gary Pugh, the DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard, recently told the press, “The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people.”

According to Pugh, who was interviewed by the Observer, “If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large.”

Pugh’s words are a sinister echo of the film Minority Report, in which a specialist “pre-crime” police department routinely arrests people who have not committed any offence.

Describing it as a “step towards a police state,” National Primary Headteachers’ Association representative Chris Davis said it was tantamount to condemning children “at a very young age for something they have not yet done. They may have the potential to do something, but we all have the potential to do things. To label children at that stage and put them on a register is going too far.”

Action on Rights for Children and GeneWatch, a not-for-profit group that monitors developments in genetic technologies, have produced evidence to show that by March 2009, some 1.5 million children aged 10-17 will be recorded on the National DNA Database, a figure they say is far higher than admitted by government.

The organisations estimate that at least 1.1 million children have already had their DNA recorded between 1995 (when the NDNAD was established) and April 2007, with more than half a million being aged between 10 and 16.

Helen Wallace from GeneWatch said, “Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the police should not keep records of people, including 100,000 under 18s, who have been found not guilty or have had the charges dropped.”

Terri Dowty from Action on Rights for Children said, “These children will be on the database for the rest of their lives. We are turning thousands of innocent children into lifelong suspects. No other country in Europe criminalises children at such a young age.

“The Home Office has shown repeated reluctance to release figures for children on the DNA database, presumably realising how shocked the public would be,” Dowty said.

Mass genetic surveillance

Pugh’s call for the routine sampling of DNA from children as young as five is only the latest in a number of statements by senior police officers and judges advocating the extension of powers to take and keep DNA samples from wholly innocent individuals, setting up a system of mass genetic surveillance.

Following two recent high-profile murder convictions where the culprits had been implicated by DNA found at the scene, calls were again made to establish a national DNA register containing samples from everyone in the UK. Last year, one of Britain’s most senior judges, Lord Justice Sedley, also called for DNA records to be kept on all UK residents.

The government has not ruled out such a move, merely saying that it would raise “significant practical and ethical issues.”

Last year, the Home Office launched a consultation to examine the possible expansion of the DNA database to cover all those arrested, even for such minor offences as begging or speeding. According to the Observer, a Home Office document initiating the consultation had promoted the merits of massively expanding the database.

Home Office Minister Meg Hiller told the home affairs select committee in February that information on the identity register, which will underpin new biometric passports and the ID cards soon to be routinely issued, would be shared with authorities in the European Union and United States “in specific cases.”

And at a recent pan-European conference on serious organised crime, London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said DNA records should be extended throughout the EU.

Roger Smith, director of human rights organisation Justice, said granting police the power to compel samples without having to show reasonable suspicion was “a substantial and unwarranted intrusion on the rights of personal privacy.” He called for a return to the position prior to 1995, when police were only allowed to keep the samples of those convicted.

Under legislation introduced in 2001 and 2004, the Labour government has considerably extended police powers to take and keep DNA samples from anyone arrested on suspicion of having committed a “recordable offence.” This includes any offence punishable by imprisonment, but also extends to relatively minor offences such as tampering with a motor vehicle, poaching and drunkenness.

Under the 2004 legislation, police can take a DNA sample from any person arrested aged 10 or more, in the case of a child, without the parent’s consent.

This legislation currently only applies to those arrested in England and Wales. In Scotland, which has a different judicial system, most samples are destroyed if the person is not charged or is later acquitted. However, senior Scottish police officers are lobbying hard for similar powers to their English and Welsh counterparts.

The UK now has the world’s largest DNA database, containing information on at least 4.5 million individuals, equivalent to some 7 percent of the population. According to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, only 1.13 percent of the population in the EU have their DNA documented, with records being held on just 0.5 percent in the US.

In what constitutes a major breech of civil liberties—overturning the fundamental legal norm of the presumption of innocence—records can be kept indefinitely on NDNAD even if a person is never formally charged, or is later acquitted of the offence for which he or she was arrested.

The call for DNA samples to be routinely taken from those below the age of 18 continues a major escalation in the process of criminalising children ongoing since Labour came to power in 1997.

Labour’s 1998 Crime and Disorder Act reduced the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 10. The act also introduced so-called ASBOs—Anti Social Behaviour Orders—a measure that has been largely aimed against young people. It means that once an ASBO has been granted, which can be for relatively minor misdemeanours or behaviour that is causing a nuisance, breaching the ASBO can result in a criminal record.

There is also strong evidence to show that such routine recording of DNA samples unfairly discriminates against individuals from ethnic minorities. According to Black Mental Health UK, black people are three time more likely to have their DNA recorded than white people.

The organisation says government figures show that 77 percent of young black men will soon have their details held on NDNAD, “despite evidence that black people are no more likely to have committed a crime than white people.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty said establishing a DNA database for everyone in the UK “ignores the extremely intimate nature of DNA and the massive scope for error and abuse” — one report has revealed that serious flaws have been found in the data, with up to 14 percent of the entries being duplicates, stored under different names.

Such concerns are well founded in light of recent scandals in which government computer disks have been lost containing millions of sensitive personal records—in one case affecting 25 million people, covering 7.25 million families overall—including names, dates of birth, and bank and address details.

Legal Challenge

The European Court of Human Rights heard a case at the end of February in which two innocent people are seeking to have their records removed from the National DNA Database.

Legal representatives for the two—40-year-old Michael Marper and a youth named only as “S”—argue that retention of such records for innocent people is a breach of Articles 8 (respect for the privacy of the individual) and 14 (prohibiting discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In both cases, the police have refused to destroy fingerprints and DNA records taken when the two individuals, one only a teenager, were originally arrested. The police subsequently dropped the case against Marper, while the youth “S” was acquitted.

It is thought that NDNAD could hold the records of up to 1 million innocent people, with GeneWatch estimating that up to 10 percent of these could be from children—records that would have to be destroyed should the legal challenge succeed.

In February, the Economist magazine reported a Home Office spokesperson saying that innocent people “have nothing to fear from providing a sample,” since retaining such evidence was “no different from recording other forms of information such as photographs and witness statements.”

However, DNA provides a wide range of other information about an individual, such as their parentage, or a susceptibility to particular diseases or disabilities. Some insurance companies have already raised the possibility of introducing “genetic screening” as a means of lowering premium charges since the information could be used to deny cover for individuals with certain genetic markers.

The body operating the NDNAD, the Forensic Science Service, a government-owned company, is a prime candidate for privatisation, which could open up the use of the database for purely commercial purposes.

It also allows an almost unlimited possibility of police frame-ups.

The thread-bare argument that if people have “nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear” is clearly not borne out by the record of Labour. The governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have trampled on long-standing democratic and legal norms, constantly eroding the rights of the individual in favour of the right of the state to monitor and control its citizens.

Street-sweeper cameras eye illegal parking

April 3, 2008

By Gary Emerling

D.C. officials have put cameras on light poles, police cars and government buildings. Now they’re preparing to put them on street sweepers in the latest example of increasing surveillance of city residents.

The D.C. Council yesterday unanimously passed legislation introduced at the request of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty that will let officials equip the District’s tractor-sized street-sweeping machines with cameras that can scan license plates and photograph vehicles illegally parked in a street-sweeping zone.

The bill will face a final vote by the council next month and would expand the District’s automated enforcement network that already monitors red-light running and speeding. The city also operates 74 surveillance cameras affixed to light poles and buildings in neighborhoods as part of an effort to deter crime.

But critics have charged that the latest devices serve as a moneymaker for the city and an intrusion on privacy instead of a public safety tool, as officials contend.

“The greater concern for us is the expansion of the program,” said John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for AAA-Mid Atlantic. “I think it’s hard to say to people that revenue is not one of their ulterior motives.”

Scheduled street-cleaning service takes place weekly in every city ward except for Ward 3, and it is temporarily suspended during winter. Signs prohibit parking along curbs during a two-hour window while the service occurs, and violators caught by the cameras will receive a $30 citation in the mail.

Linda Grant, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW), which operates the street-sweeping program, said the legislation will provide the agency with an added tool to clean streets without obstruction and rid neighborhoods of trash and toxins.

DPW officials say parking control officers are able to enforce street-sweeping regulations on only about 20 percent of the routes.

A 2007 agency study showed that street sweepers removed pollutants like oil and grease at a rate of 10 pounds per mile swept, while chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus were brushed up at a rate of three pounds per mile swept.

“If we can encourage people to change their behavior so that we can sweep, then that’s our point,” Miss Grant said. “It’s not about ticket writing; it’s about being able to clean the streets.”

The cameras will cost roughly $40,000 each and will be placed on two street sweepers initially. Warning notices will be issued during the first 45 days of the program.

Miss Grant said her agency issued 114,000 tickets on streets with residential sweeping in fiscal 2006, and that the agency averages about 450 tickets per day for street-sweeping violations.

Officials say that if 20 percent of motorists violate regulations against parking in blocks marked for street sweeping in a given month, the city will collect about $213,000 in additional monthly revenue.

Mr. Townsend said he fears the program will place tourists and motorists who live outside the District at a disadvantage because they don’t know about the automated enforcement.

But council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, also stressed that increasing revenue isn’t the program’s end goal.

“What we’re going to find is with these increased violations, we’re going to find a source of revenue generation, which is not our purpose at all,” Mr. Graham said. “Our purpose here is to get clean streets.”

Torture Bracelet To Control Dissenting Americans?

April 3, 2008

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Department of Homeland Security is pursuing the introduction of a device known as the Security Bracelet, a wearable tag that would allow authorities to inflict pain compliance on suspects from a distance, while also recommending law enforcement applications and potential use in “crowd control situations”.

Introduced ostensibly to combat airline terrorism, a creepy promo video courtesy of the patent holders Lamperd FTS exploits shocking 9/11 imagery to push the torture device as a solution to countering potential hijackers by inflicting “Electro-Muscular Disruption” and presumably giving the rest of the passengers a debilitating shock at the same time.

Full article:

Paul Lectures Bernanke: U.S. Moving Towards Fascism

April 3, 2008