February 7, 2002
Big Brother #31: The Long Arm of Big Brother Around The World
Reading this compilation, especially the excellent Colder War article below, makes for a VERY sobering experience... I wish I could conjure up a positive spin on all this... Perhaps someone will be able. I cannot. No US mainstream media is revealing any of this. And with the coming Olympic Games, there is no chance either the brainwashed US public will have any attention for looking at what their government is doing with their tax dollars.
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
P.S. See also my latest "Media compilation #46: A Sampling of Unreported News" at http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/Archives2002/MediaCompilation46.htm
1. The Colder War
2. Government Gangsterism at Work
3. U.S. plans air traveler database
4. Nato not Welcome in Munich
Enron a $300-million sweetheart deal on the pipeline project
GAO V. Cheney Is Big-Time Stalling
The Vice President Can Win Only If We Have Another Bush v. Gore -like Ruling
Another Enron-White House Connection
Is This a Democracy, or What?
Pentagon Official From Enron in Hot Seat
Questions Raised About Army Secretary White and Possible Conflicts of Interest
AlterNet has launched a special "EnronGate" page:
TOP TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ENRON
Enron's meltdown is more than a lone business scandal, it's an indictment of our entire financial and political system. This smart, simple Enron primer explains why.
Urge the immediate release all records of Cheney's Energy Task Force, and tell Bush to donate his $550,000 share of Enron's funds to the Enron Employee Transition Fund.
* The Collapse of Enron: A Timeline of Events
* "Enronomics" at a Glance
* What Has Enron Gotten for Its Campaign Contributions?
Plus, a roster of incisive and controversial articles, to be continually updated as the scandal unfolds, starting with:
ENRON IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
The Bush crowd was not simply duped by Enron and its partners-in-fraud. In fact, the White House deliberately created a friendly climate for such scoundrels.
ENRON WILL FORCE DUBYA'S RESIGNATION - Michael Moore
Because he allowed Enron to rip a huge hole in our political system and in so many people's lives, it is time for George W. Bush to resign.
Remnants of al-Qaida fight on (Jan 26)
Hundreds of Osama bin Laden's fighters are lying low near Afghanistan's second city, trimming their beards and gaining local support through their shared Muslim faith, an Afghan intelligence source said yesterday.
Afghanistan after the Taliban
War on terror loses its way (Jan 17)
As George Bush's anti-terrorism campaign expands its aims, it is in danger of obscuring the original quest for justice. (...) The US air force has continued a heavy, daily bombardment in the area around Zawar, despite growing protests from villagers and expressions of concern from ministers belonging to Hamid Karzai's interim government in Kabul.
Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team (23 Jan)
There is simply too much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL's pipeline, not about fighting terrorism.
Sent by Ken <NCEpanacea@aol.com>
The Colder War
January 29, 2002
LAST week, the US government announced that it was building the biggest-ever war machine. Military spending will rise to $379billion, of which $50billion will pay for its "war on terrorism". There will be special funding for new, refined weapons of mass slaughter and for "military operations" -- invasions of other countries.
Of all the extraordinary news since September 11, this is the most alarming. It is time to break our silence.
That is to say, it is time for other governments to break their silence, especially the Blair government, whose complicity in the American rampage in Afghanistan has not denied its understanding of the Bush administration's true plans and ambitions.
The recent statements of British Ministers about the "vindication" of the "outstanding success" in Afghanistan would be comical if the price of their "success" had not been paid with the lives of more than 5,000 innocent Afghani civilians and the failure to catch Osama bin Laden and anyone else of importance in the al-Qaeda network.
The Pentagon's release of deliberately provocative pictures of prisoners at Camp X-Ray on Cuba was meant to conceal this failure from the American public, who are being conditioned, along with the rest of us, to accept a permanent war footing similar to the paranoia that sustained and prolonged the Cold War.
The threat of "terrorism", some of it real, most of it invented, is the new Red Scare. The parallels are striking.
IN AMERICA in the 1950s, the Red Scare was used to justify the growth of war industries, the suspension of democratic rights and the silencing of dissenters.
That is happening now.
Above all, the American industrial-complex has a new enemy with which to justify its gargantuan appetite for public resources -- the new military budget is enough to end all primary causes of poverty in the world.
Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, says he has told the Pentagon to "think the unthinkable".
Vice President Dick Cheney, the voice of Bush, has said the US is considering military or other action against "40 to 50 countries" and warns that the new war may last 50 years or more.
A Bush adviser, Richard Perle, explained. "(There will be) no stages," he said.
"This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there ... If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now."
Their words evoke George Orwell's great prophetic work, Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the novel, three slogans dominate society: war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Today's slogan, war on terrorism, also reverses meaning. The war is terrorism.
The next American attack is likely to be against Somalia, a deeply impoverished country in the Horn of Africa. Washington claims there are al-Qaeda terrorist cells there.
This is almost certainly a fiction spread by Somalia's overbearing neighbour, Ethiopia, in order to ingratiate itself with Washington. Certainly, there are vast oil fields off the coast of Somalia. For the Americans, there is the added attraction of "settling a score".
In 1993, in the last days of George Bush Senior's presidency, 18 American soldiers were killed in Somalia after the US Marines had invaded to "restore hope", as they put it. A current Hollywood movie, Black Hawk Down, glamorises and lies about this episode. It leaves out the fact that the invading Americans left behind between 7,000 and 10,000 Somalis killed.
Like the victims of American bombing in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Cambodia, and Vietnam and many other stricken countries, the Somalis are unpeople, whose deaths have no political and media value in the West.
WHEN Bush Junior's heroic marines return in their Black Hawk gunships, loaded with technology, looking for "terrorists", their victims will once again be nameless. We can then expect the release of Black Hawk Down II.
Breaking our silence means not allowing the history of our lifetimes to be written this way, with lies and the blood of innocent people. To understand the lie of what Blair/Straw/Hoon call the "outstanding success" in Afghanistan, read the work of the original author of "Total War", a man called Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter's National Security Adviser and is still a powerful force in Washington.
Brzezinski not long ago revealed that on July 3, 1979, unknown to the American public and Congress, President Jimmy Carter secretly authorised $500million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and "destabilise" the Soviet Union.
The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following years poured $4billion into setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan (Taliban means "student").
Young zealots were sent to the CIA's spy training camp in Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught "sabotage skills" -- terrorism. Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York, within sight of the fated Twin Towers.
In Pakistan, they were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS. The result, quipped Brzezinski, was "a few stirred up Muslims" -- meaning the Taliban.
At that time, the late 1970s, the American goal was to overthrow Afghanistan's first progressive, secular government, which had granted equal rights to women, established health care and literacy programmes and set out to break feudalism. When the Taliban seized power in 1996, they hanged the former president from a lamp-post in Kabul.
His body was still a public spectacle when Clinton administration officials and oil company executives were entertaining Taliban leaders in Washington and Houston, Texas. The Wall Street Journal declared: "The Taliban are the players most capable of achieving peace. Moreover, they were crucial to secure the country as a prime trans-shipment route for the export of Central Asia's vast oil, gas and other natural resources."
NO AMERICAN newspaper dares suggest that the prisoners in Camp X-Ray are the product of this policy, nor that it was one of the factors that led to the attacks of September 11. Nor do they ask: who were the real winners of September 11?
The day the Wall Street stock market opened after the destruction of the Twin Towers, the few companies showing increased value were the giant military contractors Alliant Tech Systems, Northrop Gruman, Raytheon (a contributor to New Labour) and Lockheed Martin. As the US military's biggest supplier, Lockheed Martin's share value rose by a staggering 30 per cent.
Within six weeks of September 11, the company (with its main plant in Texas, George Bush's home state) had secured the biggest military order in history: a $200billion contract to develop a new fighter aircraft. The greatest taboo of all, which Orwell would surely recognise, is the record of the United States as a terrorist state and haven for terrorists.
This truth is virtually unknown by the American public and makes a mockery of Bush's (and Blair's) statements about "tracking down terrorists wherever they are". They don't have to look far.
Florida, currently governed by the President's brother, Jeb Bush, has given refuge to terrorists who, like the September 11 gang, have hijacked aircraft and boats with guns and knives. Most have never had criminal charges brought against them.
Why? All of them are anti-Castro Cubans. Former Guatemalan Defence Minister Gramajo Morales, who was accused of "devising and directing an indiscriminate campaign of terror against civilians", including the torture of an American nun and the massacre of eight people from one family, studied at Harvard University on a US government scholarship.
During the 1980s, thousands of people were murdered by death squads connected to the army of El Salvador, whose former chief now lives comfortably in Florida. The former Haitian dictator, General Prosper Avril, liked to display the bloodied victims of his torture on television. When he was overthrown, he was flown to Florida by the US government, and granted political asylum.
A leading member of the Chilean military during the reign of General Pinochet, whose special responsibility was executions and torture, lives in Miami. THE Iranian general who ran Iran's notorious prisons, is a wealthy exile in the US. One of Pol Pot's senior henchmen, who enticed Cambodian exiles back to their certain death, lives in Mount Vernon, New York.
What all these people have in common, apart from their history of terrorism, is that they either worked directly for the US government or carried out the dirty work of US policies.
The al-Qaeda training camps are kindergartens compared with the world's leading university of terrorism at Fort Benning in Georgia. Known until recently as the School of the Americas, its graduates include almost half the cabinet ministers of the genocidal regimes in Guatemala, two-thirds of the El Salvadorean army officers who committed, according to the United Nations, the worst atrocities of that country's civil war, and the head of Pinochet's secret police, who ran Chile's concentration camps.
There is terrible irony at work here. The humane response of people all over the world to the terrorism of September 11 has long been hijacked by those running a rapacious great power with a history of terrorism second to none. Global supremacy, not the defeat of terrorism, is the goal; only the politically blind believe otherwise.
The "widening gap between the world's "haves" and "have nots"', says a remarkably candid document of the US Space Command, presents "new challenges" to the world's superpower and which can only be met by "Full Spectrum Dominance" -- dominance of land, sea, air and space.
Government Gangsterism at Work
Ted Rall, AlterNet
January 31, 2002
Unbridled legal hypocrisy is a recurring theme of the ideologically-impoverished Bush imperium. When it suits their immediate aims, the Bushies wield the law like a club. As soon as the law proves inconvenient, however, they chuck it out the window like a gum wrapper.
We've seen this schizy lurching between law-and-order conservatism and anarchic retro-Tricky Dicky Nixonism ever since November 2000, when the same campaign that sued under Florida's election laws to stop that state's ballot recount resorted to hired thugs and back-room deals when it became obvious that they were going to lose.
Born illegitimately of intimidation, this administration is waging its New War on Terror with the same graceless style. Before September 11, it used international organizations and legal strictures to impose economic sanctions on Afghanistan. As the Trade Center towers burned and Bush's polls soared, the last vestige of respect for law disappeared. Bush dropped bombs without declaring war, without bothering to formally request that the Taliban extradite Osama bin Laden, and without presenting a smidgen of proof that either the Afghan government or bin Laden had anything to do with the attacks on New York and Washington. "You're either with us or against us," Bush said, but "us" meant "me."
During the last few months, at least 6,000 people have vanished off the streets of the United States. Kidnapped by government agents, they have no idea when -- or if -- they will be released from prison. The Bushies say these people overstayed their visas, that they have links to Al Qaeda, that they don't wash their hands after using the toilet, that America is safer because they're behind bars.
Is any of this true? Who knows? Since they haven't been granted access to lawyers or allowed to call their families, no one can talk to them. Bush says they have no rights because they're not American citizens. Keep that in mind the next time you travel abroad.
The Bush police state doesn't coddle our own citizens, either. John Walker Lindh, an American with the bad taste to join the Taliban and the bad luck to get caught, was held for weeks without even being told that his parents had hired him an attorney. You may or may not give a damn about Walker, but he's an American citizen accused of serious federal crimes. The fact that he's been denied legal counsel, that Attorney General John Ashcroft's outrageous statements have made it impossible for him to get a fair trial, and that Bush was seriously considering subjecting him to one of his kangaroo-court military tribunals, tells you everything Americans need to know about our leaders' respect for the law.
Don't deign to look down on Burma or North Korea; when it comes to human rights, you live in a rogue state. Exhibit A: The Taliban and accused Al Qaeda prisoners of war now being held in pens in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Despite European criticism of the conditions under which they are being held, Dick Cheney insists that "nobody should feel defensive or unhappy about the quality of treatment they've received." Maybe so. But if our government has nothing to be ashamed of, why can't reporters, lawyers or family members get inside to visit them?
Even more troubling is the administration's assertion that these men are "unlawful combatants" not entitled to the decent living conditions and other protections guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions. When Nazi Germany executed captured soldiers of the French Resistance, using the argument Bush now cites, the world was appalled. The Taliban prisoners' status is far more clear than the maquis -- the Afghans were fighting to defend their own nation's government from an invasion force. The Taliban, who controlled 95 percent of Afghanistan, were recognized as its government by three U.S.-aligned nations. If the Talibs aren't prisoners of war, who are?
Fortunately, the Geneva Conventions addresses the current situation. In the event of a dispute over the status of prisoners, the agreement stipulates that "such prisoners shall enjoy the protection of the present convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." But, protests Cheney: "These are the worst of a very bad lot. They are very dangerous...These are bad people...They may well have information about future terrorist attacks against the United States. We need that information. We need to be able to interrogate them and extract from them whatever information they have."
In other words, our Vice President wants to torture our prisoners, which justifies our making an end-run around one of the most important international agreements ever made.
"The debate is not actually whether these people are prisoners of war," an anonymous State Department official told The New York Times January 28. "They are not. The debate is why they are not prisoners of war." Cheney summed up the Bush position the next day: "They are not P.O.W.s. They will not be determined to be P.O.W.s."
To hear these guys tell it, the Geneva Conventions exist solely to protect the safety and dignity of American servicemen when they fall into enemy hands. When we capture foreigners in combat, on the other hand, we simply claim that they're "unlawful combatants." Unfortunately for future American P.O.W.s -- er, detainees -- the rest of the world is listening closely.
After September 11, many Americans wondered aloud why other citizens of the world hate us so much. What kind of things could we, or our government, have done that would explain such fury?
Here's one example.
From: "Orwilly" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: THIS PLAN IS GOING TO MAKE US ALL SLAVES !!!
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002
U.S. plans air traveler database
Proposed security system aimed at weighing risks
By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Feb. 1 - Federal aviation authorities and technology companies will soon begin testing a vast air security screening system designed to instantly pull together every passenger's travel history, living arrangements and a wealth of other personal and demographic information.
'This is not fantasy stuff. This technology, based on transaction analysis, behavior analysis, gives us a pretty good idea of what's going on in a person's mind.'
- JOSEPH DEL BALZO (Security consultant)
THE GOVERNMENT'S plan is to establish a computer network linking every reservation system in the United States to private and government databases. The network would use data-mining and predictive software to profile passenger activity and intuit obscure clues about potential threats, even before the scheduled day of flight.
It might find, for instance, that one man used a debit card to buy tickets for four other men who sit in separate parts of the same plane - four men who have shared addresses in the past. Or it might discern that someone who is unemployed or a low-wage worker is buying a one-way first-class ticket to a destination he has never visited.
Those sorts of details - along with many other far more subtle patterns identified by computer programs - would contribute to a threat index or score for every passenger.
Passengers with higher scores would be singled out for additional screening by authorities.
As described by developers, the system will be an unobtrusive network enabling authorities to target potential threats far more effectively while reducing lines at security checkpoints for most passengers. Critics say it would be one of the largest monitoring systems ever created by the government and a huge intrusion on privacy.
At least one airline, Delta, has been working with several companies on a prototype. Northwest Airlines has acknowledged that it is talking with other airlines about a similar screening system. Federal authorities hope to test at least two different prototypes in coming months or possibly sooner, according to government and industry sources familiar with the effort.
"This is not fantasy stuff," said Joseph Del Balzo, a former acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and a security consultant working on one of the profiling projects. "This technology, based on transaction analysis, behavior analysis, gives us a pretty good idea of what's going on in a person's mind."
The screening plans reflect a growing faith among aviation and government leaders that information technology can solve some of the nation's most vexing security problems by rooting out and snaring people who intend to commit terrorist acts.
But a range of policy and technical questions still need to be answered before the system can become a reality. The Transportation Security Administration, for example, must decide on a set of standards so technology companies and airlines can begin building a system. They must also figure out how to pay for the system and its operation. Industry officials have said they hope the system will cost, on average, less than $2 per ticket.
Officials at the TSA declined to comment, saying they did not want to disclose any details that might undermine aviation security.
Government officials and companies also face questions about privacy. In interviews, more than a dozen people working on two parallel projects said they are taking pains to protect individual privacy. They intend to limit the personal information shared with airlines and security officials. Instead, passengers' records are likely to be color-coded based on the level of threat computers determine they pose.
But developers face restrictions on how much information they can use. Industry officials have already discussed with lawmakers the possibility of rolling back some privacy protections in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Driver's Privacy Protection Act to enable them to use more of the credit and driver data.
Civil liberties activists said they fear the system could be the beginnings of a surveillance infrastructure that will erode existing privacy protections. When told about the system, Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU, said it would be "a massive complex system of surveillance."
'We can quickly build a system that is much more effective than anything in place today. There is a night-and-day difference.'
- JOSEPH SIROSH
"It really is a profound step for the government to be conducting background checks on a large percentage of Americans. We've never done that before," he said. "It's frightening."
Some critics also worry that law enforcement authorities will be tempted to use it for broader aims, such as snaring deadbeat parents or profiling for drug couriers.
"If you can profile for terrorists, you can profile for other things," said Richard M. Smith, an independent computer security and privacy specialist. "The computer technology is so cheap and getting so much cheaper, you just have to be careful: Turn up the volume a little bit, and we just use the air transportation system to catch everybody."
Airlines rely on a couple dozen variables to screen passengers, such as how they bought tickets, whether they're flying one way and travel history, people familiar with the system said. The details of that system, known as Computer Assisted Passenger Screening, or CAPS, are closely guarded. But security specialists regard that system - expanded after Sept. 11 - as limited.
The systems under development would include a thousand or more minute details and computer-derived conclusions about a person's travel, daily activity over time and whether he or she has coordinated activity with other passengers, possibly on other flights, according to the groups developing the systems.
Two leading prototypes are being developed. One group is led by HNC Software, a risk-detection specialist that works for credit card issuers, telephone companies, insurers and others. HNC is working with several companies, including PROS Revenue Management, which has access to seating records of virtually every U.S. passenger, and Acxiom Corp., one of the world's largest data-marketing companies, which collects such information as land records, car ownership, projected income, magazine subscriptions and telephone numbers.
"We can quickly build a system that is much more effective than anything in place today," said Joseph Sirosh, executive director of advanced technology solutions at HNC Software. "There is a night-and-day difference."
A second group is being led by Accenture. It has worked for months on a prototype with a variety of companies, including Delta. Data-giant Equifax, Sabre Inc., which is responsible for about half of U.S. airline reservations, IBM and other companies have also been working on profiling efforts.
NORMAL VS. RISKY
Both systems are designed to use travel information and other data to create models of "normal" activity. Then they will look for variations in individual behavior that might suggest risk. Both may eventually make use of some sort of biometic system that uses iris scans, fingerprints or other immutable characteristics.
Officials at both HNC and Accenture said they take care with the personal information their systems collect and parse. The HNC prototype, for instance, does not link a passenger's personal information to a passenger's threat index. Officials also pledged that there will be no racial profiling, in part because ethnicity often has no bearing on potential risk.
The HNC prototype uses software known as neural networks, which can "learn" subtle patterns and relationships by processing millions of records, to predict when a particular transaction is likely to be fraudulent. The company already uses neural networks software to accurately profile the activity of millions of credit card owners, telephone callers and people receiving insurance benefits to crack down on fraud.
The HNC prototype would allow authorities, based in control rooms, to examine potential threats across the aviation system. One computer screen, for instance, includes a "prioritized passenger list" with passengers ranked from the highest risk to the lowest. The same screen also includes a box called "passenger coordination" with the names of other travelers that the computer has somehow linked to the high-risk passenger. Other screens show an aggregate threat for planes, airports and the entire system.
The Accenture system also creates a threat index, using massive computing power and relational database software. It examines travel data to look for things such as routes involving odd destinations or flying patterns. To search for threads linking individuals, the system will sift huge amounts of travel records, real estate histories and "seven layers" of passenger associates, according to Accenture partner Brett Ogilvie.
For instance, it would note if an individual lived at the former address of someone considered high risk. Theoretically, the system could be calibrated to watch for people with links to certain restaurants, hotels or parts of the country thought to be favored by terrorist cells. The system also would match individuals against government watch lists. Any potential link to a threatening character or region could boost a passenger's score.
A limited model report, generated by Accenture on one individual, looked like any number of publicly available dossiers provided by information services. It included all his addresses for the past two decades; the telephone numbers and former addresses of people who now occupy those residences; the names, ages, addresses, telephone numbers and partial Social Security numbers of possible relatives. Some of the information was incomplete or, apparently, unrelated to the passenger.
The company said it would eventually like to have more data in the analysis, including embassy warnings, passport information, foreign watch lists. Eventually, with government approval, they would link the system to a national ID or some sort of biometric or both.
The index would send color-coded signals to airlines. Green would indicate no problem. Yellow would indicate the need for more questioning. Red means apprehend. Ogilvie said the company would try to offer the same sort of service to cruise ships, theme parks and other facilities that want to bolster security.
"The data is there and the technology is there," Ogilvie said. "There's a lot of value. There's a lot of data."
Paul Werbos, a senior National Science Foundation official and a neural networks specialist, said such systems need to be used carefully. While there is no doubt that profiling can improve security, Werbos said, "We have to be very careful not to create punishments, disincentives, for being different from average."
YET ANOTHER PIECE OF NEWS OUR MEDIA WON'T LET US KNOW
Nato not Welcome in Munich
Jan 28 '02
Thousands of protesters are expected to converge on Munich on the weekend 1-3 February, as another "Conference on Security Policy" is held in the German city. As every year, government members from all Nato states, including most defence and foreign ministers, are meeting 200 high-ranking army officials and war experts to discuss "security" and "peace" issues. This means they will lay out plans for future military interventions, invent new enemies, discuss costly military programmes etc. - in short: plan the next war.
A hundred groups and organisations from Munich and other parts of Germany, including peace, antifascist, socialist, autonomist and student groups, amongst many others, have called for a variety of actions to disturb the meeting and to show alternatives to a continuous militarisation of society. Events will start with a rally on Friday afternoon, continue with a massive demonstration on Saturday and an attempt to reach the luxury hotel where the meeting is held, and include a counter-conference in the evening. Also during Saturday, a Carnival against Nato" will occupy streets and spaces and cause creative disruption in Munich's inner city.
The city council has so far reacted to the announced protests with attempts of intimidation and repression. All infrastructure, such as sleeping places for the expected thousands of protesters, infopoints etc. was blocked or cancelled due to government pressure. The venue for a benefit gig was told it may face closure if the gig went ahead, each and every attempt to mobilise for the protests has been facing the risk of legal consequences. Freedom of speech, movement and assembly are heavily restricted.
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