Category Archives: Government

Less than 3 years after airport scanner buying spree, TSA removes them

It seems like only yesterday that the U.S. government rushed headlong into an airport scanner spending spree. It was 2010. Airport scammers or scanners?  

Now we learn that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is removing all Rapisan scanners and is seeking to off-load hundreds of Rapiscan scanners on other government agencies that don’t have the same need for privacy as airports. (I wonder who they might be.)

To whom do we owe this major spending gaffe? That would be presidents Bush and Obama and Congress who blindly followed the fear-mongering warnings of then U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. At the time, Chertoff was also a consultant and board member for several security firms, including Rapiscan. It wasn’t a secret. Anyone with an Internet connection and curiosity were aware of the connection but corporate media didn’t think it was relevant then and doesn’t think it’s relevant now. No mention of the man and his profitting from scanner sales in today’s major media stories. 

Conflict-of-interest and government waste — such quaint, antiquated notions.

Turkey Plays Lee Harvey for NATO Plotters

Michael Collins

(Washington, DC 10/6) The United States and European Union are setting the stage for a Syrian invasion. (Image)

Turkey is the fall guy.

The Turkish parliament provided Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan with a broad authorization “to make the necessary arrangements for sending the Turkish Armed Forces to foreign countries” Hurriyet, October 4, 2012. The vote was on party lines with the dominant AKP party forming a majority. Muharrem İnce of the CHP opposition party said: “This motion has no limits. You can wage a world war with [it].”

The warning about the road to war may be near reality. McClatchy Newspapers just reported the following:

ISTANBUL — One day after winning blanket authority to send forces into Syria, Turkey’s prime minister warned Friday that his country is “not far from war” and said that it would be a “deadly mistake” for the Syrian government to test Turkey’s will. McClatchy Newspapers, October 6, 2012

There is little doubt about which foreign country the president plans to invade. The resolution begins with these words: “The negative impact of the ongoing crisis in Syria on our national security, as well as on regional stability and security, is increasingly being seen.” Never mind that the negative impact was brought on by Turkey’s role as a supplier and conduit for foreign fighters now ravaging the two major cities of Syria.

The parliament also ignored the fact that the Turkish people they allegedly represent are overwhelmingly opposed to any action in Syria. Only 18 percent of the Turks polled support current policy in Syria according to a recent poll. It is fair to assume that fewer still would favor an outright invasion.

Why are war powers necessary?

A Syrian artillery shell landed in the Turkish border city of Akakale. The Turkish government claimed it killed five soldiers. The Syrians promptly apologized. That was a generous move given the fact that Turkey has been funding, training, and transiting foreign fighters into Syria for months in alliance with NATO and the Gulf oil oligarchs.

If any nation had real cause for serious anger, it would be Syria. Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey is an imminent threat to Syria’s survival as a sovereign state. Just north of the Syrian border, the Turkish city of Adana is the launching platform for supplies and personnel that have devastated Syria’s two major cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

The Libyan model of false flags, false reports, and subsidized rebels wasn’t doing the trick with the next victim of the co-opted Arab Spring. Free Syrian Army (read Libyan rebels) looked too much like a terrorist organization to gain much sympathy. Then we heard the inconvenient truth about the presence of al Qaeda fighters and a contingent from the new Libyan state. As a result, the Syrian Transition Council became so toxic that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused an invitation to a meeting several weeks ago. From the very start, Russia and China vetoed UN resolutions that would have legitimized full scale NATO assistance to the rebels and their partners, the foreign fighters.

Despite all of this, the minute an excuse emerged to rattle swords and plan an invasion, NATO was right there with full support for Turkish belligerence. The British and French, along with the U.S. state department chimed in demanding a “firm” response to Syria.

What to do? How about a patsy war?

The Libyan formula for regime change is failing. Assad may survive. So horrifying to the Western powers and Gulf monarchs, that possibility spurred President Barack Obama to urge action by Erdogan a month or so ago. Obama’s pose for a White House photograph of his call to Erdogan says it all. Time to step up to the plate Recep is the clear message. 

Why are the NATO powers supporting regime change? Let’s see, oh yeah, they want to bring democracy to Syria. Those who accept that excuse may be interested in this proposition. The real reasons are somewhat more complex. Saudi Arabia is obsessed with the impact of Shia unrest in its oil providences bordering Shia Iraq. Qatar, full partner in the Libya aggression, wants Assad out to clear the way for a major pipeline deal. The NATO countries are major oil addicts. Hence, they want to keep their dealer happy. In addition, the NATO nations win big over energy hungry China and oil and gas rich Russia in the new great game to corner dwindling energy supplies.

The Saudi’s and Qataris are not much at military operations. But they have deep pockets. Without their money as direct aid to the foreign fighters and rebels in Syria, there is no revolution. Without pleasing those two oil monarchies, the NATO nations risk losing their daily oil fix.

Epic cynicism

The rhetoric and behavior by those who will say and do anything to get their way represents cynicism on an epic scale.

Until the last two or so years, Erdogan and the AKP Party had a foreign policy doctrine that stressed zero problems with neighbors. Turkey acted as an intermediary between the West and Iran on delicate nuclear power negotiations. It developed a close relationship with Iraq. Most remarkably, Erdogan reached important agreements with Syria’s Assad, offered to help in negotiations with Israel on Syria’s behalf, and proposed a strong alliance with the Assad regime.

Today, Turkey’s policy is insults and attacks on its neighbors. The Turkish foreign minister blamed Iran for the problems in Syria. In a massive show of disrespect to Iraq, the Turkish foreign minister recently visited Kirkuk, the capital of the Kurdish section of that country, without announcing the trip to Iraq’s central government. The union with Syria is clearly dead, unless union comes through conquest.

Erdogan has offered up his country as the patsy for the monarchies of the Persian Gulf and NATO. That alliance didn’t have the room to drag the Syrian rebels across the finish line due to the blocking action of Russia and China in the United Nations. Turkey is their solution to get the war they want.

The entire effort by other nations to topple the government of Syria is a war crime. Syria represents no danger to the hostile nations, no imminent threat.

To show how lawless international relations are at this point, recall that President George W. Bush needed to create the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). With that fiction established as fact, the Bush administration then had the permission it thought necessary to invade Iraq.

By the new lower standards, the United States and the NATO nations feel no need to offer proof that the nations they want to bump off are an imminent danger. These new world leaders simply create internal disruption and death in the target nations, call it a civil war, and then either get the UN or a patsy like Erdogan to do the dirty work.

There are two factors that may prevent Turkey from attacking Syria and the consequent bloodbath. As limited as Erdogan is as a thinker and leader, he must know that 18% support for his policies presents a huge risk if he escalates those policies to full scale war. President Obama has his reelection at risk if war breaks out in the Middle East. More than 60% of citizens oppose military support or intervention in Syria.

Image this question at the next debate: “Mr. President, do you think that Hillary Clinton’s constant demands to oust Syrian president Assad have anything to do with the catastrophe in Syria?”

END

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The Money Party

Is Iran Preparing to Strike Back?

By Brian M. Downing

These attacks are almost certainly directed by Israeli, Saudi, and US intelligence services. They may also be acts of war.

“This business will get out of control.”
– The Hunt for Red October

In the last few years diplomatic pressures and economic sanctions have been imposed to convince Iran to allow international inspection of its nuclear research facilities. A number of states have also pursued a violent clandestine campaign of bombings and assassinations that have killed scores of Iranians, including nuclear scientists. These attacks are almost certainly directed by Israeli, Saudi, and US intelligence services. They may also be acts of war.

In recent weeks Iran has decried terrorism around the world (somewhat paradoxically, to be sure), put up a clumsy plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador, boasted of its missile strength, and briefly seized the British embassy in Tehran – an act done not by students as with the US embassy in 1979, but by toughs of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Most recently, the IRGC went on alert, ostensibly to brace for more attacks inside the country.

These responses indicate rising ire in the Iranian government, the political ascendancy of the IRGC, and most ominously, the likelihood of sharper hostilities in the region. In the absence of candid dialogue and in the oblique language of stern diplomacy, Iran is signaling the possibility of violent responses well beyond the quotidian rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas and Hizbullah. These could include encouraging Shiite uprisings in the Gulf and attacking Israeli, Saudi, and US targets. US targets would include troops in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan.

Foreign efforts to press Iran to abandon its nuclear program – sanctions and covert operations – have thus far been unsuccessful. They are getting out of control and are leading to violent retaliation and regional conflict. Indeed, they may be presently intended to elicit a violent response from Iran which will then be used as a pretext for stronger attacks – perhaps devastating ones on Iran’s air defenses and military bases to be followed on with strikes on nuclear sites.

These efforts only firming government and popular support for nuclear research and solidifying IRGC power in the state. Iran is moving from a theocracy with a zealous military to a military-dominated bureaucracy with a clerical body legitimizing it. And of course militaries usually prefer violent actions to diplomatic ones.

The American public is blissfully unaware of what is going on and will see a violent Iranian response as unprovoked and calling for decisive action. And any US attack on Iran will be widely judged as measured and just.

©2011 Brian M Downing Reposted with the author’s permission

Brian M. Downing is a political/military analyst and author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam. He can be reached at [email protected]

IMF Rates Up Dictatorships Just Before Revolutions

By Michael Collins

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) made an embarrassing error just two days before the start of the Libyan people’s revolution on February 17.  This quote from an IMF country study appeared in a previous article: “The outlook for Libya’s economy remains favorable.”  IMF Feb 15 This advice was 180 degrees off target.  The Libyan economy has ceased functioning as protests and popular demands imploded the Gaddafi regime. (Image)

Further investigation unearthed a specific pattern of positive IMF endorsements for each of the nations experiencing popular uprisings that are sweeping the region.  When the IMF blesses a nation’s progress for conforming to the economic policies underlying globalism, watch out! There is a popular rebellion in the wings.

The Allied powers created the IMF in 1944 as a “cooperative institution that seeks to maintain an orderly system of payments and receipts between nations.”  The original entity was known as the Bretton Woods Agreement.  The US dollar, tied to gold, became the standard for international trade.  The agreement claimed to promote open global trade and economic liberalization through IMF loans to nations to increase the volume of global trade, i.e. globalization.  The US has led the organization since its inception.  In 1971, President Nixon removed the gold standard for the US dollar.  Shortly after Nixon’s move, members developed their own exchange arrangements in the context of IMF goals.

There are numerous criticisms of the IMF on the left and right.  The continued impoverishment of participating nations that were supposed to grow economically is the baseline critique.  IMF does not seem to help much, unless one considers debt-laden governments a sign of progress.  In essence, the loan program moves in to shore up nations devastated in the various shocks to the world economy from oil price increases, financial crises, etc., and, ironically, problems from following IMF recommendations. For the masses, the IMF is like the corner man for beaten down fighter who refuses to throw in the towel.  For the autocrats in charge, it is a regenerating pot of cash at the end of the rainbow.

IMF Scorecard in North Africa and the Middle East

IMF was wrong on Libya, as we have seen.  On the date of their report, February 15, “the outlook for Libya’s economy” was anything but favorable.  The nation was two days away from the current people’s revolution, which devastated the economy.

IMF said the following of Egypt before its revolution:

“The government’s FY2009/10 fiscal deficit target of 8.4 percent of GDP is expected to be met on the strength of careful fiscal management. If revenues perform better than expected as a result of strengthening activity, it would be prudent to save these.”  February 10, 2010

As though torture, political suppression, severe anti union policies, and the mass of people seeing their income buy less and less made no difference, IMF was bullish on Egypt.

IMF was also high on Tunisia just before that revolution took place:

“Executive Directors noted that Tunisia weathered the global crisis well, largely reflecting its sound macroeconomic management and structural reforms over the last decade, and timely policy responses since the onset of the crisis. …  Amid continued uncertainties for the external environment, they [IMF Directors] emphasized the need to maintain macroeconomic policies that support the recovery and to intensify structural reforms that would enhance competitiveness, diversify exports, and promote job creation.”  September 1, 2010

Weeks before the great Tunisian uprising, IMF says that Tunisia came through the global recession and emerged on a sound footing.  This point was missed by  the Tunisian people. Inspired by a street vendor who chose to self-immolate rather than endure any more of the regular indignities by the state bureaucracy, Tunisians went to the streets demanding the removal of the government.  They chased off their dictator but resistance remains as strong for those who oppose reform.  The “structural reforms that would enhance competitiveness” were not for the majority.  They benefited the despot, former dictator Ben Ali, and his cronies.

Yemen, on the southern border of Saudi Arabia, is the perfect client state for IMF assistance.  Due to a decline in oil revenues, the nation faced serious economic challenges.  IMF moved in to offer advice, which entailed reducing fuel subsidies; tightening tax code enforcement; and, “containing nonessential current expenditures.”

The reductions in fuel subsidies were substantial, 10%, angering the people.  The increases for  social support were modest.  IMF got it all wrong when it concluded:  “The program is off to a good start. A number of important policy measures have been implemented to address fiscal imbalances.”  IMF, August 19, 2010

Yemen has seen massive anti regime demonstrations over the past two weeks.  The most prominent demand is the removal of the autocrat, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled since 1978.   Since the initial protests at the end of January, the anti regime movement has backed the long-standing ruler into a corner.  Abdullah Saleh is now losing support from his remaining stronghold and may be gone soon.

IMF sees the Oman as a very safe bet for success due to “sound macroeconomic management.” Long one of the favored developing nations, the IMF said the main risk to Oman was from falling oil prices, IMF said.  Oil prices were up significantly when major protests broke out in this model economy.

On March 1, Aljazeera reported that, “The demonstration was organised by intellectuals and non-governmental associations and protesters held placards reading ‘We want jobs’, ‘We want higher salaries’ and ‘We want freedom of the press’.”

The revered Oman represents another IMF predictive failure, as does Bahrain, the site of a resistance movement that faced down murderous attacks.  Prior to the protests, IMF extolled, “the Bahraini authorities’ prudent macroeconomic policies and strong financial oversight.”

Who Benefits?

Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, and Bahrain  had two things in common prior to the popular uprisings.  They alligned with the fiscal and economic policies of the IMF and autocrats were in charge.  If you are an autocrat, dictator or strongman in charge of a nation of any size, you have to love the IMF.

They come into the country and  establish financial criteria. These strictures don’t harm you, the dictator, one bit.  You get loans and favorable trade agreements.  Cooperation with IMF globalization is the ticket to a series of big paydays.  You get current and  future rake offs for you and your cronies, and nobody at IFM complains.  (Data for graph)

Then you get to buy weapons and other goods that are totally useless to your citizens. That turns into another source of payoffs and enhanced personal income.

Your people live in a state of existential dread  if you add unfulfilled dreams to the material deprivation.  But you’re looking good to IMF and, as a result, your personal fortune grows.  Just play ball with the big boys and it’s a never ending holiday for you and your friends.

How much more of this IMF success package can the people of the world endure?


N.B. Two days after this article was published including the IMF Feb 15 statement that,  “The outlook for Libya’s economy remains favorable, “ an IMF representative admitted that the sustainability of macroeconomic gains required a more inclusive participation by a nation’s population. One wonders when IMF will issue an apology to all of those who have suffered under the dictators IMF has propped up over the past several decades?

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IAVA calls SOTU statements on VA electronic medical records system ‘misleading’

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) says a statement made by President Obama during his second State of the Union address on January 25 concerning electronic medical records needs to be corrected so the public, service members and veterans don’t assume the system, the so-called “Blue Button” initiative is fully operational.

IAVA disagrees with the president’s comment that “Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.”

“Contrary to the President’s comment, the only thing a veteran can download from the VA’s system are pharmaceutical records and personal health information that he or she has self-entered. This is a critical distinction,” IAVA said in a statement. 

IAVA also urged the president to launch an aggressive national suicide prevention campaign involving the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and community-based nonprofits. “He must also issue a national call for more military mental health providers, who can support service members, veterans and their families throughout deployment and beyond,” said IAVA founder and executive director Paul Rieckhoff.

Experts say that about 20 percent of veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide rates continue to climb.

Growing more frustrated with government policies and the lingering economic problems, IAVA also called on the president, Congress and the business sector to address growing unemployment among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Despite hiring incentives, the jobless rate among these veterans is higher than the national average, estimated at 11.5 percent versus 9.4  percent for non-veterans, according to the Department of Labor’s  most recent report. Unemployment in some states and among the youngest veterans is even higher. Unemployment among the youngest veterans, ages 18 to 24 is at 21 percent, according to the labor department.

Deadbeats Bush and Gingrich Say "States Better Off Bankrupt"

Michael Collins

Not if a state owes you money!

Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich just published an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times arguing that states would be wise to consider filing bankruptcy to relieve their financial troubles.  They cite three states, California, Illinois and New York, while failing to mention the angry elephant in the living room with similar problems, Texas.

Texas faces a $25 billion shortfall for a $95 billion two-year budget.  That equals California’s 18-month deficit inherited by the recently inaugurated Governor Jerry Brown.

“So why haven’t we heard more about Texas, one of the most important economy’s in America? Well, it’s because it doesn’t fit the script. It’s a pro-business, lean-spending, no-union state. You can’t fit it into a nice storyline, so it’s ignored,” said Business Insider.

Texas is a major inconvenience to Bush and Gingrich. They lay the financial problems at the door of unions and state employee pensions:

“The lucrative pay and benefits packages [read pensions] that government employee unions have received from obliging politicians over the years are perhaps the most significant hurdles for many states trying to restore fiscal health.”  Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich, January 27

This is blatant intellectual dishonesty.  By giving examples of states with strong civil servant unions, they stack the deck for their explanation of state debt.  Yet the dire budget problems in Texas negate their argument entirely.  That is sufficient reason to dismiss the rest of their arguments and their stated motives, as well.

The Larger Picture - Tear Down that Government at Every Level

In the past few weeks, we have seen a multilevel assault on federal, state and local governments and the programs offered, e.g., public education, roads, public safety, etc.

This year’s public fretting over the federal deficit was bipartisan. Peter Peterson’s budget commission produced a plan to reduce the federal deficit at the same time that President Obama’s hand picked commissionwars and bailouts. reported similar findings.  Entitlements, Social Security in particular, require substantial cuts. They failed to note the real causes of the deficit.

Even though Social Security has a surplus, there’s a repetitive mantra that You’ll never get your money out of it. The budget hawks have repeated that so often, they probably believe it.  And they should. They’re doing everything they can to make sure that we don’t see a fair return on our significant investment. The message is clear. Cut Social Security, take less than your were promised, and we’ll all live happily ever after (unless you relied on the promise made by the government based on your full participation).

The second assault on government targeted local municipalities - Day of Reckoning 12/19/10. Meredith Whitney of CBS claimed her study showed that the municipal bond market was headed for collapse and chaos. Whitney failed to show her work and asked us to trust her. This created unrest in the bond market. Whitney clings to her evidence just like the late Senator Joseph McCarthy held tight his fictitious list of 400 Communists in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations who were subverting the government.

Now, Bush and Gingrich are attacking state governments and the programs that they provide to citizens. They focus on unfunded pension liabilities that ballooned during the recession we’re told is over. They fail to note the cause of those problems: the fact that pension funds relied on the Wall Street casino and fell victim to the vicissitudes of Goldman Sachs, etc., and the failure of Congress and the last two chief executives to regulate risky behavior.

The Neo Malthusian Catastrophe

Economist Thomas Malthus argued that there would be “forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production.” The new Neo Malhusians argue that we must return to inferior economic conditions, absent the right to organize and bargain for wages and without the promise of Social Security, because expenditures have outpaced the ability to produce offsetting revenue.

Bush and Gingrich fail to ask the questions of real importance. Why has the economy faltered so badly? The answers wouldn’t please them or their patrons.

To begin with, there has been no regulation of risk-filled financial schemes, from subprime derivatives to credit default swaps, since the big banks and Wall Street were set free in the late 1990s.

We’re fighting two very expensive and unnecessary wars.

Bailouts!

Then we have the money addiction of the top 1% of the population, which took 65% of the net new income in the United States from 2002 through 2007.

What are they Afraid of?

There is an island of fiscal stability among the states, North Dakota. The traditionally conservative state also has a state bank, the Bank of North Dakota (BND). State funds go into the bank, BND creates credit, and funds are available for the public benefit. Here is the BND statement of purpose for lending.

Lending Services:  On behalf of the State of North Dakota, the Bank administers several lending programs that promote agriculture, commerce and industry. Financing economic development is the thrust of Bank of North Dakota’s efforts. The Bank is specifically authorized to assist numerous other financial institutions in providing financing to stimulate economic development in the state.

Ellen Brown has been advocating state banks for the past two years. She points out: “With over $17 billion available to deposit in its own bank, California could create $170 billion or more in credit — enough not only to meet its budget shortfall but to fund many other much-needed projects; and rather than feeding an ungrateful Wall Street, the bank’s profits would return to the state and its people.” Ellen Brown, July 22, 2009

Legislation was introduced in Washington that would create a state bank of Washington. This has attracted attention since it would be only the second state bank if the legislation passes.

“Rep. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, the House bill’s sponsor, said the proposal was modeled after a similar institution in North Dakota and based on the idea that the state’s money should not be at the disposal of Bank of America, where Washington has its accounts.

“Why don’t we create our own institution, keep that money in our state and we make money off our money that we can then reinvest back into our community?” asked Hasegawa.’   The News Tribune, January 26

Aside from their general paranoia and guilt, the potential of a state bank movement may have Jeb Bush, Gingrich, and their patrons frightened out of their wits. They may be particularly fearful of the unpredictable and innovative Governor Brown who needs financial relief now and has the will and spirit to engage in a political showdown. BND is a highly credible state project. A Washington State bank would be significant due to the size of the state and the major business located there.

But a Bank of the State of California would represent a major threat to just about every one of the Neo Malthusians. The state was and can be once again a trend-setter. What a trend that would be.

END

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The Hornet's Nest Kicked Back - A Review of Susan Lindauer's Extreme Prejudice

Michael Collins

Fiction delivers justice that reality rarely approaches.  Victims endure suffering and emerge as victors after overcoming incredible challenges.  Stieg Larsson’s gripping Millennium Trilogy weaves a story of revenge and triumphs for Lizbeth Salander, locked away in a mental institution and sexually abused for years.

When Salander got out and threatened to go public about a high level sexual exploitation ring, the perpetrators sought to lock her up again.  In the final installment, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Salander found some justice. (Image)

Susan Lindauer’s autobiography, Extreme Prejudice, tells a story with certain broad similarities.  In her case, however, the hornet’s nest kicked back with a real vengeance.  After over a decade as a U.S intelligence asset, Lindauer was privy to information about pre-war Iraq that threatened to serve up a huge embarrassment to the Bush-Cheney regime.  She hand delivered a letter to senior Bush administration officials in hopes of averting what she predicted would be the inevitably tragic 2003 US invasion of Iraq.  Those officials, unnamed in the indictment, were her second cousin, then White House chief of staff Andy Card, and Colin Powell.

After the invasion failed to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Lindauer went to Congress offering to testify about the quality of prewar intelligence. In early 2004, she met with staffers in the offices of Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Trent Lott (R-MS) in February 2004.  Shortly after those visits and other offers to testify in public, Lindauer was indicted on March 11 for serving as an “unregistered agent” for pre war Iraq and promptly arrested.  .

The Crime That Wasn’t

And what did Lindauer do as an alleged unregistered foreign agent, a charge the government was never willing to try in open court?  According to then U.S. District Court Judge Michael B. Mukasey, who handled the case for a period, the “high-water mark” of government’s case was based entirely on the letter that Lindauer delivered to her second cousin, then White House chief of staff, Andrew Card.  Lindauer had written Card on at least ten other occasions since the 2001 Bush Inauguration.  She wrote:

“Above all, you must realize that if you go ahead with this invasion, Osama bin Laden will triumph, rising from his grave or seclusion. His network will be swollen with fresh recruits, and other charismatic individuals will seek to build upon his model, multiplying those networks. And the United States will have delivered the death blow to itself. Using your own act of war, Osama and his cohort will irrevocably divide the hearts and minds of the Arab Street from moderate governments in Islamic countries that have been holding back the tide. Power to the people, what we call “democracy,” will secure the rise of fundamentalists.”   Susan Lindauer’s last letter to Andrew Card, January 6, 2003 in American Cassandra: Susan Lindauer’s Story, Oct 17, 2007

This letter was based on extensive contacts with Iraqi diplomats at the United Nations in New York and a prewar trip that she took to Iraq with the knowledge  of her intelligence handlers.

Before she could stand trial, in 2005, Judge Mukasey accepted the opinions of court appointed experts that Lindauer might be delusional and ordered her locked her up for an extended psychiatric evaluation and observation.  She was placed in the Carswell federal prison facility at the very secure Carswell Air Force Base in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Mukasey’s conclusion was contradicted by evidence not considered (see below) covering fourteen months (March 2004-April 2005) of court ordered evaluation and psychological services in Maryland that consistently reported that Lindauer was functioning well and not delusional.  The order allowed 120 days, the legal maximum detention period.  She was at detained for seven months at Carswell and another four months in a Manhattan lockup.

When Lindauer refused to take strong psychotropic medication as part of her evaluation, Assistant US Attorney Ed O’Callaghan sought a court order from Judge Mukasey to force the medication on her either orally or by injection.  Remarkably, it appears that Mukasey was not informed that the professional staff at Carswell had recommended against forced medication.  Based on his detailed opinion and order of September 6, 2006 denying the Assistant US Attorney’s request, Mukasey was also not aware of direct evidence from Carswell professional staff that Lindauer’s behavior was well with the normal range, particularly considering the circumstances.

Five years after her indictment, Susan Lindauer never got the trial she repeatedly requested.  On September 15, 2009, Assistant US Attorney O’Callaghan convinced US District Court Judge Loretta Preska that Lindauer was not mentally competent to stand trial.  Judge Preska dismissed the case at the request of O’Callaghan’s replacement on January 15, 2010.  This was done against Lindauer’s wishes and ignored credible witnesses who testified to her role as an intelligence asset.

Lindauer’s  second attorney, Brian Shaughnessy, a former federal prosecutor in Judge John J. Sirica’s court and distinguished Washington, DC defense counsel, noted that this was the only case that he’d ever heard of in which prosecutors argued that a defendant was mentally incompetent to stand trial

O’Callaghan went on to serve as legal advisor for then Governor Sarah Palin’s scandal defense team in Alaska.  Judge Preska received an appointment from President Bush to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit six days before ruling that Lindauer was incompetent to stand trial.  Andy Card pursued a successful career in the private sector.  And Colin Powell retained is good name and status despite misleading the United Nations about Iraq’s alleged chemical weapons programs and his active participation in “choreographed” torture sessions for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and lesser known detention venues.

Despite her efforts and willingness to go public for the benefit of the country, Lindauer was systematically attacked by the federal government and denied her repeated requests for an open trial in federal court.  For her, there were no movies or best sellers, no award or promotions, and no happy endings.  She was left at the side of the road with only her story and evidence to challenge the charges that the government steadfastly refused to try in open court for over five years.

Lindauer’s case was so strong that her second and final attorney, Brian Shaughnessy, took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement that her claims were supported by the extensive evidence that he reviewed.  He said, “I … assure you that Ms. Lindauer’s story is shocking, but true.  It’s an important story of this new political age, post-9/11.”  Her uncle, attorney Thayer Lindauer, offered an affidavit on his research which confirmed Lindauer’s role as a US intelligence asset.

What Were They Trying to Hide and How Did They Hide It

Lindauer’s career as a US intelligence asset and back channel to Iraq first came to light in 1998.  She released an affidavit for the Lockerbie bombing trial recounting information provided to her by the man she described as her CIA handler, Richard Fuisz.  The claim was that the bombings were carried out by Syrian operatives, not the accused Libyans.  Given Fuisz’s reputed high level intelligence skills, this was a major event covered in the press.  Despite the publicity and controversy surrounding the affidavit, Lindauer’s association with Fuisz continued.  She was never charged or even reprimanded by the government for her role in the affair.

But when Lindauer was willing to go public with her work on Iraq with Fuisz and another reported intelligence handler, Paul Hoven, she was indicted for giving one letter to Andrew Card, a letter which proved to be very much in line with of the best advice the Bush administration received on the ill conceived, deadly invasion and occupation of Iraq.  That was what the administration was so intent on hide hiding.

The information Lindauer would have released, as told in Extreme Prejudice, concerned her work with Fuisz in the months prior to 9/11 in which Fuisz and his team provided early warning about the attacks on the World Trade Center.  She would have revealed Iraq’s willingness to turn over terrorists to the FBI and about her contact providing  information on al Qaeda’s financial structure and funding.

The vehicle to silence Lindauer was the indictment as an unregistered foreign agent, despite the flimsy basis for the charge.  Once indicted, the newly crafted Patriot Act was the clincher.  The act allows charges to be levied without specifics listed in an indictment or known to the defendant.  In fact, under the act, the defendant’s attorney may not have access to the charges unless certain security requirements are met.

In Lindauer’s case, her attorney had a secret briefing with US intelligence officials.  Just as the Patriot Act allows, the occurrence and the content of that meeting were never revealed to Lindauer.   Her first attorney, Samuel Talkin, had a met with US intelligence officials shortly after the defense psychologist, Sanford L. Drob, PhD, conducted a two hour interview with Lindauer (report reviewed by the author)..  A few days after the Talkin-US intelligence meeting, Drob recommended a defense based on mental incompetence.  The meeting between her first attorney’s and US intelligence officials was revealed to Lindauer only years later by her second counsel, Brian Shaughnessy, who obtained the information through pre trial discovery motions.

Psychiatric Set Up and Tear Down

The full spectrum tear down of Lindauer relied heavily on highly selective psychiatric testimony from several court appointed psychiatrists in Manhattan.  None of these psychiatrists ever treated Lindauer.  They all interviewed her in a forensic setting, which typically drastically limits understanding an examinee’s mental state in politically charged contexts where the examinee is not cooperative.   Worse, the forensic experts hired by the state in such contexts often act as “hired guns,” and typically refuse to consider independent substantive evidence that supports the examinee’s claims.

By her report and the author’s review of interview transcripts provided by her attorney, Lindauer was not once cooperative with the court appointed forensic examiners.  The dialog between her and psychiatrist Stewart Kleinman, MD, the most influential expert, was caustic and devoid of substantive content.  Linder repeatedly stated that she didn’t want to be interviewed by Kleinman.

In essence, the court experts routinely refused to follow up with witnesses Lindauer offered to attest to her role as an intelligence asset and to confirm her activities related to Iraq.

Most telling, the experts, upon whom Judge Mukasey relied for his confinement of Lindauer and his later opinion on forced medication, failed to consider the twelve month record of evaluation and counseling treatment after her arrest.  Psychiatrist Dr John S. Kennedy, MD of Maryland concluded that her:

“… thought content was free of hallucinations, delusions, homicidality, or suicidality. She expressed confidence in an acquittal.  Judgment and insight were fair.  Cognition was grossly intact. … I don not believe there are grounds for a psychosis diagnosis.”  March 13, 2004

Lindauer attended 35 hours of counseling sessions between March 2004 and April 2005.  You can examine the notes yourself provided by Lindauer and a part of her legal defense documentation.

There is a consistent pattern of assessed psychological stability in every single monthly summary.  A frequent theme is expressed over time is that Lindauer, “appears to maintain psychological stability and shows no sign or symptom of mania or psychosis.”   Her treatment was concluded on April 7, 2005 with the note, “So far she has shown no signs of mania or depression and any symptoms of psychosis that would require additional intervention.”

This information was not seriously considered or, more likely, completely ignored by the New York court appointed “experts” who labeled her delusional for maintaining her innocence.  In addition, never mentioned in court proceedings was important evidence from Carswell psychiatric nursing reports.  These reports document a consistent pattern of positive behavior and no signs of hallucinations or delusions during confinement.  The Mukasey ruling of September 6, 2006, well referenced with the court expert opinions, makes no mention of Dr. Kennedy’s evaluation, the 35 hours of counseling provided in Maryland, or the Carswell nursing reports.  This was highly relevant primary evidence by clinicians familiar with Lindauer’s day to day and week to week behavior over time.

As she tells it convincingly in Extreme Prejudice, Lindauer had to be silenced.  First she was defamed publicly as someone who had worked for Iraq.  Then she was diminished by the selective analysis by court appointed psychiatrists which further negated her story.  Like the current Wikileaks controversy over Julian Assange, the delivery of bad news for those in power in the White House resulted in a figurative order to shoot the messenger.

Extreme Prejudice is memoir, action thriller, and cautionary tale on the risks citizens take when they go too far, know too much, and offer to tell the truth.

END

Disclosure:  Lindauer based a chapter of Extreme Prejudice on an unpublished paper I wrote on the relationship between 9/11 and the Iraq war.  I received no compensation for this.

Extreme Prejudice by Susan Lindauer

Susan Lindauer’s web site

Articles on the Lindauer case by Michael Collins

Special thanks to Michael Green for his helpful comments

This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Feds wage cupcake wars on moms with school age kids

The Feds thought it would be a ‘piece of cake’ to slip some vague rules and regulations into the child nutrition bill that Preudent Obama signed into law December 13.

Parents are irate over a section of the bill that gives the government the power to limit  bake sale fund-raisers, and is so broad that any president‘s administration could ban bake sales altogether. The bill does not cover bake sales at after hours activities, such as sporting events.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News:

Republicans … and public school organizations decry the bill as an unnecessary intrusion on a common practice often used to raise money. “This could be a real train wreck for school districts,” Lucy Gettman of the National School Boards Association said Friday, a day after the House cleared the bill. “The federal government should not be in the business of regulating this kind of activity at the local level.”

The legislation is the pet project of the first lady, Michelle Obama, and her campaign to stem childhood obesity. Its aim is to provide more healthful school meals for needy children. The bill also places the responsibility of writing guidelines for schools to follow under the Agriculture Department, which has a year to write the guidelines.

Moms, dads pull 'parent trigger' to shoot down a California school

Compton, California — The Wall Street Journal suggested it could be the “shot heard ’round the world.” The New York Times called it a “nightmare situation.” The LA Times avoided such hyperbole, reporting flatly that parents with children attending McKinley Elementary in Compton, California, a small city just east of Los Angeles, were the “first to use California’s new “parent-trigger” law, under which a majority of parents can force a school to shut down, replace its staff or convert to a charter.

“Giving power to the parents — this is what this is all about,” declared Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of the Parent Revolution led by Ben Austin, which successfully fought for enactment of a year-old state law that has shaken up the education establishment across the country.

History was made on Tuesday when 60 percent of the parents of McKinley students, organized by the Parent Revolution, turned in petitions exercising their right to take over the school and turn it over to Celerity, a successful charter school operator. With several other states moving to enact similar legislation, the Parent Revolution represents a radical shift in education, a devolution of power away from school boards and teacher unions and giving parents a direct say in the children’s education.

It has the support of the Obama Administration and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is running for mayor of Chicago in part on a pledge to enact a “parent trigger” law. It is what Neighborhood Councils were supposed to achieve in L.A., but have been thwarted for a decade by the obstructionist tactics of City Hall.

Needless to say, the teacher unions are bitterly opposing the parent trigger, with Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, calling the parent trigger a “lynch mob law.” United Teachers Los Angeles, the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District union where students go to kill time before dropping out) also vigorously opposes the parent trigger as well as the mayor’s top-down reform effort through the Partnership for L.A Schools.

Resistance to power sharing from those who have it is to be expected, but it should be clear to anyone paying the least attention that the winds of change are blowing hard across America; that the deep recession has exposed deep public discontent and the disconnect between our governmental institutions at all levels and people.

Like the citizen revolt that brought down the corruption in the City of Bell, California, the parent revolt over a failing school in Compton ought to inspire people everywhere to stand up against the failure of government to serve their interests. This a revolutionary time in America. The economy is never coming back to the point where hyper-consumerism defines the American Dream, the American way of life.

Dramatic changes are coming whether we resist them or stand by passively. Like the people of Bell and Compton, poor and largely minority communities, we are all need to become active participants in taking back our schools, our cities, our states, our nation or we have nothing left but leaving it to others to determine what the new America is going to be like.

L.A.'s mayor is all wet when it comes to reforming the water and power department

Los Angeles — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, presumably after deep soul-searching, suddenly decided Tuesday afternoon to make a stand for good government — his LA Clean Sweep membership card is in the mail.

The gift-taking absentee mayor got religion just hours after Department of Water and Power (DWP) Commission President Lee Kanon Alpert abruptly resigned, saying he needed to spend more time with his family and his law practice, and the City Council voted 10-1 to put a Charter amendment on the March 8 ballot giving themselves the power to remove DWP commissioners and general managers.

Why they need this authority is hard to understand since they rubber stamp every mayoral commission appointee in what amounts to a no-question-asked-lovefest and the mayor dumps general managers every six months or so. Nonetheless, they made this measure the 11th to go on the March ballot just a couple of weeks after deadlocking 7-7 on it. Only vulnerable Councilman Jose Huizar voted against it and for good reason. He’s counting on the mayor, who represented CD14 before him and put him on the LA school board previously, coming up with all the money he needs to fend off labor mediator Tony Butka and businessman Rudy Martinez, while staying as far away from the Eastside as he has for most of the last six years.

“I am disapproving the proposed ballot language inasmuch as it seems to reform the governance of one city department before we have had an opportunity to take a comprehensive assessment of all city departments,” the mayor wrote in his brief veto message. Mayoral spokesman, Matt Szabo, explained the mayor whose 28 percent power rate hike was rejected last spring now `believes that what the ratepayers truly need — more transparency in how their rates are determined — was accomplished by the council’s action to place on the ballot” a measure to create the Office of Public Accountability and Rate Payer Advocate.’

You can take Szabo’s word to the bank on what the mayor actually believes about this or any other city issue. The 10 votes for the measure is enough to override his veto so it will be amusing to watch Tom LaBonge, who is as vulnerable to defeat in March as Huizar, and other Council members stand up to the heat from the mayor’s pressure. There are a lot of reason the mayor can’t find a qualified utility executive to run the DWP — total loss of credibility, total management disarray, total confusion on what its policies are, total obscurity of its finances, total control of the utility by union bully Brian D’Arcy. That’s why one person after another has turned down the job and the threat of becoming the Council’s political football only adds to the negatives.

But take the mayor at his word, something only fools would do given his long string of broken promises. He wants to see a comprehensive review of the entire commission system, which he has totally corrupted by reducing honorable people to nothing but stooges for his failed policies even as the vast army of deputies he has browbeat general managers into submission. Still, it’s good to know someone, presumably Austin Beutner, the first deputy mayor and interim DWP GM, was capable of dragging him away from his yoga lessons and party duties to sign the veto message.

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