Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Always Being Watched - The "National Security" Apparatus Hijacked to Serve Needs of Big Business - TARP Fraud & CIA's Main Man: Bob Woodward

(Welcome to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina!)

For nearly a decade, 9/11 has been used to justify this kind of “intelligence” provided to corporate and private interests. Such information may have nothing to do with terrorism, but it serves nicely to illustrate how the protection of private profit has trumped concern for real public security. What was missed as institute “analysts” pondered potential Ruckus Group embarrassments to energy companies?
Time to be even more alert, campers, what with the latest "terror" warnings from the folks about that nonexistent Al Qaeda menace running rampant in Europe now. On Beyond Eisenhower (Zebra!)(h/t Dr. Seuss) From Stephan Salisbury through Tom at the Dispatch we hear the history of how we got to here (beginning with the FBI-paid black photographer who traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King and reported to them his every move). And it's not really a comforting bedtime story - so listen up! (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)
Surveillance, America’s Pastime

A Hall of Shame of State Snooping, Prying, and Informing Aimed at Destroying the Fabric of Civil Society

Stephan Salisbury . . . In an exhaustive recent report, the Memphis Commercial Appeal detailed Withers’s undercover activities, provoking a pained and complex response from the many who knew him and were involved in the civil rights movement. . . . Andrew Young, with King during those last moments, accepts Withers’s career as an informant, saying it just doesn’t bother him. Civil rights leaders, including King, viewed Withers as crucial to the movement’s struggle to portray itself accurately in Jet, Ebony, and other black journals. In that Withers was successful - and the rest, Young suggests, doesn’t matter. Besides, he told the Commercial Appeal, they had nothing to hide. “I don't think Dr. King would have minded him making a little money on the side.” Activist and comedian Dick Gregory, hearing Young’s comments, turned on his old comrade. “We are talking about a guy hired by the FBI to destroy us and the fact that Andy could say that means there must be a deep hatred down inside of him,” he said. “If he feels that way about King only God knows what he feels about the rest of us.” This is the way it is with informers, so useful to reckless law enforcement authorities and employed by the tens of thousands as the secret shock troops of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Surveillance has multiple uses, not the least of which is to sow mistrust, which in turn eats at the cohesion of families, social and political movements, and ultimately the fabric of community itself. . . . Keeping Tabs on Americans for Fun and Profit That was then, this is now. The Withers story is, of course, ancient history, shocking to many, yes, even though it is well known that FBI and police informers permeated the movement in general and King's circle in particular, and illegal wiretaps and bugs snared even the most private conversations of civil rights leaders. But few who thought or wrote about the Withers news found it an especially relevant tale for our present moment. How wrong they were. If, amid anti-communist hysterias and social upheaval decades ago, the U.S. government employed armies of informers and other forms of often illegal surveillance, government and law enforcement agencies today are actually casting a far broader surveillance net in the name of security in a relentless effort to watch and hear everything - and to far less attention or concern than in the 1960s. In fact, a controversy in Pennsylvania has just erupted over secret state surveillance of legitimate political groups engaged in meetings, protests, and debates involving subjects of public importance - natural gas drilling, abortion, military policy, animal mistreatment, gay rights. Such controversies over domestic political spying have surfaced remarkably regularly since September 11, 2001 - police and FBI informers in mosques, Defense Department surveillance of antiwar groups and even gay organizations, National Security Agency illegal wiretapping, and surveillance of groups planning protests for the political conventions of the major parties. Revelations of such activities have become almost white noise. All were covered in the media, but cumulatively it’s as though none of them ever happened. The Pennsylvania surveillance case, which is just the latest of these glimpses into the secret surveillance world of our ever more powerful national security state, does not directly involve informers (as far as we know). It marks a different point on what FBI Director Robert Mueller has referred to as the “continuum” -- the whole environment of daily life, really, which in the post-9/11 world has been appropriated by law enforcement officials in the name of “terrorism prevention.” “There is a continuum between those who would express dissent and those who would do a terrorist act,” Mueller said ominously in a 2002 speech. “Somewhere along that continuum we have to begin to investigate. If we do not, we are not doing our job. It is difficult for us to find a path between the two extremes.” What does that mean? Just last week, FBI agents raided half a dozen homes of anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago, carting away papers, computers, clothing, and other personal effects, all in the name of investigating “material support of terrorism.” The activists, their supporters, and their attorneys have a different view: they see the raids as designed to intimidate and disrupt legitimate political dissent -- points on “the continuum.” It is a virtual certainty that evidence of intrusive surveillance will surface as these cases mature. In Pennsylvania the continuum has meant, most recently, that the state Office of Homeland Security contracted with a small outfit, the Institute of Terrorism Response and Research, run by a couple of ex-cops, one from York, Pennsylvania, the other raised in Philadelphia and a veteran of Israeli law enforcement. For the past year, the institute has been providing secret intelligence reports via the state Homeland Security Office to Pennsylvania police departments and private companies in order, the reports say,to “support public and private sector, critical infrastructure protection initiatives and strategies.”

Many of these reports focused on groups opposed to Marcellus Shale drilling, which you may not have known was a breeding ground for terrorism. In fact, you may not even know what it is. But particularly in Pennsylvania and New York, Marcellus Shale means big bucks. The shale is part of a 600-mile-long geological formation containing a huge reservoir of natural gas. Energy companies are seeking to exploit that formation in ways that have raised serious and widespread environmental concerns. Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania, facing severe budget problems, wants to impose a tax on the eager drillers. With Marcellus Shale, there’s something for everybody -- except for environmentalists concerned about the impact of drilling on the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the Delaware River basin. Opposition from various environmental groups, then, has threatened to spoil the party. What a surprise to find many of those groups mentioned in one “counterterrorism” report after another. For instance, a report on an “anti-gas” training session in Ithaca, New York, noted that the group conducting the training (part of a radical environmental network) was nonviolent, but should be considered dangerous anyway. “Training provided by the Ruckus Group does not include violent tactics such as the use of IEDs [roadside bombs] or small arms,” a 2009 institute report assured its no-doubt-relieved readers. “The Ruckus Group does, however, provide expertise in planning and conducting demonstrations and campaigns that can close down a facility and embarrass a company.” To spell it out: this counterterrorist monitoring institute was providing public-relations alerts for private energy companies at tax-payer expense. For nearly a decade, 9/11 has been used to justify this kind of “intelligence” provided to corporate and private interests. Such information may have nothing to do with terrorism, but it serves nicely to illustrate how the protection of private profit has trumped concern for real public security. What was missed as institute “analysts” pondered potential Ruckus Group embarrassments to energy companies? Rendell, who claimed shock and embarrassment when the reports became public this month, has now cancelled the institute’s $103,000 state contract. He also insisted that he knew nothing about the contract, and reaffirmed the right of peaceful protest in the United States. Not so fast. My colleague at the Philadelphia Inquirer Dan Rubin first reported the institute’s questionable focus on July 19th. At that time, the state director of homeland security, James Powers, defended the institute’s work, citing intelligence warnings about protests at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh last year. “Powers said that Institute analysts posed in chat rooms as sympathizers of the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which opposed the summit, and learned where the group would be mobilizing,” Rubin wrote. ‘“We got the information to the Pittsburgh police,’ he said, ‘and they were able to cut them off at the pass.”’ How could Rendell not know about this? Among the many unanswered questions to date: Who received these reports and for what purpose? The state has declined so far to disclose a list of the recipients. But in an email that Powers inadvertently sent to an anti-drilling group, he all but admits that the intelligence operation, at least in part, served corporate drilling interests.

Not really surprised are we? I'll not forget soon hearing that the so-called G-20 readiness preparations were really steps taken to silence protesters. And here's the proof. Please read the whole essay by clicking on the title link. From George Washington's blog we hear even more on how (emphasis marks added - Ed.):
The "National Security" Apparatus Has Been Hijacked to Serve the Needs of Big Business

As I noted yesterday: Claims of "national security" are ... used to keep basic financial information - such as who got bailout money - secret. That might not bode for particularly warm and friendly treatment for someone persistently demanding the release of such information. I gave the following two examples: Reuters noted in January: U.S. securities regulators originally treated the New York Federal Reserve's bid to keep secret many of the details of the American International Group bailout like a request to protect matters of national security, according to emails obtained by Reuters. And Business Week wrote on May 23, 2006:

President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations.

Further evidence comes from the Department of Homeland Security's involvement in requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. As AP noted in July: For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive.

*** The Freedom of Information Act, the main tool forcing the government to be more open, is designed to be insulated from political considerations.

***Career employees were ordered to provide Secretary Janet Napolitano's political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived, whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.

If a member of Congress sought such documents, employees were told to specify Democrat or Republican.

*** The special reviews at times delayed the release of information to Congress, watchdog groups and the news media for weeks beyond the usual wait, even though the directive specified the reviews should take no more than three days.

***Two exceptions required White House review: requests to see documents about spending under the $862 billion stimulus law and the calendars for Cabinet members.

Calendars became politically sensitive after AP obtained them for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. They described calls several times each day with Wall Street executives.

*** Under the law, people can request copies of U.S. government records without specifying why they want them and are not obligated to provide personal information about themselves other than their name and an address where the records should be sent. Yet several times, at least, junior political staffers asked superiors about the motives or affiliations of the requesters. Wired described it this way:

The DHS issued a directive to employees in July 2009 requiring a wide range of public records requests to pass through political appointees for vetting. These included any requests dealing with a “controversial or sensitive subject” or pertaining to meetings involving prominent business leaders and elected officials. Requests from lawmakers, journalists, and activist and watchdog groups were also placed under this scrutiny. Moreover, as the ACLU notes, Fusion Centers - a hybrid of military, intelligence agency, police and private corporations set up in centers throughout the country, and run by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security - allow big businesses like Boeing get access to classified information which gives them an unfair advantage over smaller competitors:

Participation in Fusion Centers might give Boeing access to the trade secrets or security vulnerabilities of competing companies, or might give it an advantage in competing for government contracts. Expecting a Boeing analyst to distinguish between information that represents a security risk to Boeing and information that represents a business risk may be too much to ask.(Similarly, Blackwater/Xe provides security for both the government and large corporations, and is interconnected with intelligence gathering operations.) And a large portion of all intelligence work has now being outsourced to private companies. For example, according to the Washington Post:

Close to 30 percent of the workforce in the intelligence agencies is contractors.

And under the FBI's Infraguard program, businesses sometimes receive intel even before elected officials.

Of course, "no-bid" contracts in Iraq and elsewhere are another example of how national security claims have been used to bypass the normal bidding process which is designed to save taxpayers money. Halliburton and other friends of the Bush administration have received tremendous windfalls in this fashion. And because BP supplies most of the oil and gas to the U.S. military, I would be surprised if BP has to participate in normal bidding procedures for new war-related projects.

Indeed, the whole Gulf oil spill is a classic example of how national security claims have been used to protect a private corporation. Specifically, as many locals have testified (and as will come out more in the next couple of years), the Department of Homeland Security has helped to enforce a blackout of information on how bad the oil spill was, and has hindered scientists from collecting data from the most impacted sites.

And Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned Congress that there would be martial law unless the Tarp bailouts were approved. As I pointed out last October:

The New York Times wrote on July 16th:

In retrospect, Congress felt bullied by Mr. Paulson last year. Many of them fervently believed they should not prop up the banks that had led us to this crisisyet they were pushed by Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke into passing the $700 billion TARP, which was then used to bail out those very banks.

***Congressmen Brad Sherman and Paul Kanjorski and Senator James Inhofe all say that the government warned of martial law if Tarp wasn't passed:

Bait And Switch

Indeed, the Tarp Inspector General has said that Paulson misrepresented some fundamental aspects of TARP.

And Paulson himself has said: During the two weeks that Congress considered the [Tarp] legislation, market conditions worsened considerably. It was clear to me by the time the bill was signed on October 3rd that we needed to act quickly and forcefully, and that purchasing troubled assets — our initial focus — would take time to implement and would not be sufficient given the severity of the problem. In consultation with the Federal Reserve, I determined that the most timely, effective step to improve credit market conditions was to strengthen bank balance sheets quickly through direct purchases of equity in banks.

So Paulson knew "by the time the bill was signed" that it wouldn't be used for its advertised purpose - disposing of toxic assets - and would instead be used to give money directly to the big banks? And see this and this.

In the above-described ways - and many others as well - the entire "national security" apparatus has been hijacked to serve the needs of big business.President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. But its not just the "military". Homeland Security, intelligence agencies, and other portions of the government have also become servants of big business as well. Indeed, the interests of the government and big business are so closely aligned that some high-level government officials may consider any threat to the bottom line of the big banks and other corporate giants as an existential threat to the nation's security.

And speaking of those society-destructive, Bankster-primed "derivatives?"
windcatcher said ... In 2009 speculative, unregulated derivatives was the World's largest market at an estimated 600 Trillion; Wall Street controls an estimated 520 Trillion of that world derivatives market (for) which they pay “0” in tax. Imagine if the Banksters paid a 10% sales tax into out U.S Treasury from derivatives, we could abolish individual income tax forever! The World's total economic output was an estimated 58.07 Trillion (taxable) and the total World bond market was an estimated 82.2 Trillion (taxable). The implementation and manipulation of (Bush administration) derivatives is the World Banksters/Big Oil Weapon of Mass Destruction and it is not American Empire that they desire, indeed, it is American Empire, Independence and Democracy that they want to destroy in order to implement the New World Order. The New World Order capital will be in Dubai.
But wait - wasn't that the setting for "Sex and the City 2?" No, Abu Dhabi was the venue of gold for that movie - just a little over 80 miles away. Easy traveling distance - in your Lear. No wonder they laughed so hard when we thought it was just the oil they were after . . . and how Dumbya got off so lightly for his skit before the National Press Club when he pretended to be looking for WMD's under his speaker's podium . . . . Read on and weep for our lost innocence (and country). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Inside the "Inside Story"

Prisoners of War Bob Woodward and All the President’s Men (2010 Edition) By Andrew J. Bacevich Tom Dispatch Once a serious journalist, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward now makes a very fine living as chief gossip-monger of the governing class. Early on in his career, along with Carl Bernstein, his partner at the time, Woodward confronted power. Today, by relentlessly exalting Washington trivia, he flatters power. His reporting does not inform. It titillates. A new Woodward book, Obama’s Wars, is a guaranteed blockbuster. It’s out this week, already causing a stir, and guaranteed to be forgotten the week after dropping off the bestseller lists. For good reason: when it comes to substance, any book written by Woodward has about as much heft as the latest potboiler penned by the likes of James Patterson or Tom Clancy.

Back in 2002, for example, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Woodward treated us to Bush at War. Based on interviews with unidentified officials close to President George W. Bush, the book offered a portrait of the president-as-resolute-war-leader that put him in a league with Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But the book’s real juice came from what it revealed about events behind the scenes. “Bush’s war cabinet is riven with feuding,” reported the Times of London, which credited Woodward with revealing “the furious arguments and personal animosity” that divided Bush’s lieutenants.

Of course, the problem with the Bush administration wasn’t that folks on the inside didn’t play nice with one another. No, the problem was that the president and his inner circle committed a long series of catastrophic errors that produced an unnecessary and grotesquely mismanaged war. That war has cost the country dearly -- although the people who engineered that catastrophe, many of them having pocketed handsome advances on their forthcoming memoirs, continue to manage quite well, thank you.

To judge by the publicity blitzkrieg announcing the arrival of Obama’s Wars in your local bookstore, the big news out of Washington is that, even today, politics there remains an intensely competitive sport, with the participants, whether in anger or frustration, sometimes speaking ill of one another.

Essentially, news reports indicate, Woodward has updated his script from 2002. The characters have different names, but the plot remains the same. Talk about jumping the shark.

Read on, please. And don't miss those commenting on Tom's essay. They are PRICELESS!

bozh · 2 hours ago

Yes, avoid like a plague to talk about structure of governance of which administration is just one part and talk solely about individuals and their tiny or large faults. Since only structure and how its parts behave and intermesh; forming a whole,and elucidating situation, it must be avoided and every MSM columnist knows that. And if u can find scandal, ooh la lah--- all the better, let alone faults which we all have. Pulitzer prize is just not good enough--- u even get to see la presidenta let alone el presidente. To these scribes, the system of rule does not even exist. All there is, is fierce champions of freedom, justice, truth, peace fiercely fighting for such elements of life, but with faults which must be listed. But then, all of a sudden, a blitzthought is born, and 99.99% of all squabblers: CIA-FBI-Army echelons, columnists, 'educators', clergy, congresspeople, judiciary, movie 'stars', advisers, CNN 'experts' approbate all US wars, CIA terror, drugwars, wars for poverty-ignorance,etc. So system allows and actually promotes personal bickering, envy, etc., but devil help u if u ever touch the system! U can run dwn bush, clinton, obama all u want, but that's all u can do! And 98% of amers think they received some value or knowledge. tnx Pat · 1 hour ago

SUSPICIOUS MINDS 'Once a serious journalist' ??? IN WHAT UNIVERSE ???? You haven't been reading your Lobster UK and your Spartacus Schoolnet have you? Nor your 'Namebase'. ... WOODWARD - STILL SHILLING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT ? Woodward - who was in the Office of Naval Intelligence -- which shared a building with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 -- who has never said what he was doing in California during his time stationed there - Operation Chaos against the '60s protesters? Woodward the man given a hasty training in journalism and then handed the scoop of a lifetime on a plate -- the Watergate Break-In story -- what a coincidence that a man from ONI just happened to be there to take the ball and score the touchdown. FYI - in intelligence you _have_to_ operate as if there are _no_ coincidences. And there may not be! ; ) - http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKwoodward.htm And now Woodward has the inside scoop from the US's favorite throat-cutter, McChrystal, whose fellow Neocon alumni of special forces - Richard Armitage - was known to his 'friends' as 'Butcher' because of treatment of the (so-called) enemy in another make-believe war for the protection of democracy, freedom and the American-way. Though probably not for Mom and apple-pie. Don't believe a word of what Woodward now says; except to see what the faction of the elite feeding information to him want known. And to follow John Pilger's favourite quote from British muckraking reporter Claude Cockburn "Never believe anything, until the official denial."


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