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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]

07.19 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat

07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

News Media Matters

07.19 Fox News’s star names excuse the inexcusable after Trump's latest racist attack

07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

Daily: FAIR Blog
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.19 Are progressives working on a climate plan for 2021? You bet.

07.19 The 51 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump's repugnant North Carolina rally

07.19 The Real Meaning of ‘Send Her Back!’

07.18 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Breaking up Homeland Security

07.18 Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California

07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]

07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]

07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]

07.18 "Can't Change a Corrupt System by Taking Its Money": Sanders Urges All 2020 Democrats to Reject Insurance, Big Pharma Cash [49:02 video w/ lousy sound]

07.17 Why Democrats’ oversight machine is moving so slowly against Trump

07.17 Here's the real reason Trump is attacking 'the squad': he's scared of their politics

07.17 'Good,' Says Elizabeth Warren, After Billionaire Right-Winger Peter Thiel Says She's 2020 Democrat He Is 'Most Scared By'

07.17 The American Right Defines Patriotism As Complacency About Racism

07.17 This is what today's America looks like. The squad is us

Justice Matters

07.19 UN urged to act over 'purge' of Turkey's lawyers by Erdogan

07.19 DOJ Releases Strong Evidence of Trump’s Campaign Finance Violations But No Explanation of No Charges [The statement]

07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

High Crimes vs. Human Rights

07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.19 U.N.'s Bachelet says Congresswomen opposing Trump are 'fantastic'

07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]

07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]

07.18 Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market

07.18 There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff

07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]

07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]

07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]

07.17 Trump’s Unlawful Asylum Policy Is a Jab at Mexico

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

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  Blackwater's Unwritten Death Contract
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THE “ULTIMATE TORTURE“ WAS MOSTLY OUTSOURCED:

Blackwater's Unwritten Death Contract

by Ray McGovern
First published yesterday in ConsortiumNews.com, 20 August 2009

Hats off to Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times for reporting that it was after CIA Director Leon Panetta’s holdover lieutenants finally told him that, under President Bush, they had farmed out assassinations to their Blackwater subsidiary, that he abruptly stopped the project and told Congress.

I use “they” advisedly, since the CIA officials who had kept Panetta in the dark continue to function as Panetta’s top managers at the agency.

Until now, it was not clear what prompted Panetta to set up hurried consultations in late June with the intelligence oversight committees of the House and Senate. And an odd odor still hangs over the affair.

After being briefed by Panetta, one committee member described him as “stunned” that his lingering lieutenants had kept information on the program from him until nearly five months into his tenure.

And yet there is not the faintest hint that anyone on either committee dared to ask why Panetta continues to leave such tainted officials in very senior positions.

Mazzetti quotes officials as admitting that “the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater” for a program with “lethal” authority.

What Mazzetti does not mention —  and what he, like the vast majority of Americans, may not know — is that there is a one-sentence umbrella “contract” available for use as authorization for such activities. It is a legal loophole of sorts, through which Bush and Cheney drove a Mack truck.

Bush administration lawyers were not the first to read considerable leeway into that loophole — one sentence in the language of the National Security Act of 1947. The sentence can be (ab)used as authorization for all manner of crimes — irrespective of existing law or executive order.

A Cheney-esque “unitary executive” perspective and a dismissive attitude toward lawmakers reinforced George W. Bush’s predilection to exploit this ambiguous language, taking it further than it had ever been taken in the past.

The Act (as slightly amended) stipulates that the CIA Director shall:

“Perform such functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the National Security Council may from time to time direct.”

There’s the “umbrella contract.” While more than one past President (I served under seven during my tenure at CIA) has taken advantage of that open language, the Bush administration translated the dodging into a new art form.

This, in turn, was sustained by Frankenstein cottage industries like Blackwater to launch and operate the administration’s own Gestapo. I use the word advisedly; do not blanch before it.

As for outsourcing, the Nazi Gestapo enjoyed umbrella authorization from the Fuhrer; they and the SS knew what was wanted, and famously “followed orders.”

There was absolutely no need to go back to supreme authority for approval to contract out some of their work. German legislators turned out to be even more intimidated than ours — if you can imagine it.

Charlatans Can Apply...and Stay

As for an American President’s freedom of action, all a President need do is surround himself with eager co-conspirators like the sycophant former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, (not to mention his, and Panetta’s, lingering lieutenants) who give allegiance to their secret world of unchecked power, rather than to the Constitution of the United States.

True, a Vice President thoroughly versed in using the levers of power can be a valuable asset. But the sine quo non for successful subversion of our Constitutional process is this: cowardly members of Congress so afraid of being painted pastel on terrorism that they abdicate their oversight responsibility.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney made “terrorification” of Congress a high priority, and congressional leaders caved, winking even at torture, kidnapping, warrantless eavesdropping, etc., etc., etc.

Speaking of contracting, Congress’ oversight role was, in a very real sense, “contracted out” — to eight invertebrate leaders from the House and Senate whose unconscionable, see-no-evil acquiescence was driven solely by their felt need to appear tough on terrorism.

“After 9/11 everything changed,” is certainly an overused aphorism. But it does apply to the spirit and soul of our country, after President Bush was given the pulpit at National Cathedral.

Vengeance is ours, said the President. And the vast majority of Christian leaders were cowed into razoring out of their Bibles “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”

The clergy clapped, and so did the Congress and the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM). Don’t you remember?

The situation bears a striking resemblance to that described by writer Sebastian Haffner in Berlin in 1933 after the Reichstag fire (Germany’s 9/11):

“What was missing is what in animals is called ‘breeding.’ This is a solid inner kernel that cannot be shaken by external pressures, something noble and steely, a reserve of pride, principle, and dignity to be drawn on in the hour of trial. It is missing in Germans.

“As a nation they are without backbone. That was shown in March 1933. At the moment of truth, when other nations rise spontaneously to the occasion, the Germans collectively and limply collapsed, yielded to a nervous breakdown, and became a nightmare to the rest of the world.” [Defying Hitler, p. 135]

Stormy Applause

And our Congress? During the President’s infamous State-of-the-Union address on Jan. 28, 2003 (yes, the one with the uranium-from-Africa-to-Iraq and other make-believe), Bush got the most unbridled applause when, after bragging about the 3,000 “suspected terrorists” whom he said had been arrested, he added:

“And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.”

The lawmakers’ reaction and the cheering that followed in the FCM reminded me of the short italicized note that Pravda regularly tacked onto the bottom of paragraphs recording the text of similarly fulsome leadership speeches: Burniye aplaudismenti; vce stoyat! — Stormy applause; all rise!

Even so, Soviet leaders generally avoided (as not quite presidential) the seeking of applause for thinly veiled allusions to extrajudicial killing.

It is Congress that is collectively responsible for abdicating its oversight responsibility, while cheering on creeps like Cofer Black, CIA’s top counter-terrorism official from 1999 to May 2002 and now one of Blackwater’s senior leaders.

In his prepared testimony to a joint congressional 9/11 inquiry on Sept. 26, 2002, the swashbuckling Black said this about “operational flexibility”:

"All I want to say is that there was ‘before’ 9/11 and ‘after’ 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves came off. ... I know that we are on the right track today and as a result we are safer as a nation. ‘No Limits’ aggressive, relentless, worldwide pursuit of any terrorist who threatens us is the only way to go and is the bottom line.”

What were those “gloves” to which you referred, Mr. Black? Do you mean that legal restrictions were gone? And “No Limits?” Is it the case that there now are no limitations on your pursuit of terrorists?

From what do you derive that kind of authorization, Mr. Black? These are just sample questions that, apparently, occurred to none of the congressional inquiry members to ask.

And authorization? In the Bush/Cheney White House, all it took was a presidential signature, like that appearing in strokes of large felt-tipped pen under the two-page executive memorandum of Feb. 7, 2002.

Last December the Senate Armed Forces Committee, without dissent, concluded that this memo, “opened the door” to abusive interrogation by exempting al Qaeda and Taliban detainees from Geneva protections. Alberto Gonzales, in an inadvertent blunder, released that memo five years ago.

Special presidential memos (often referred to as “Findings”) authorizing covert action like the lethal activities of the CIA and Blackwater have not yet surfaced. They will, in due course, if the patriotic truth tellers who have now spoken to the Times and the Washington Post about CIA and Blackwater continue to put the Constitution and courage above secrecy oaths.

The Savage Mood

CIA operative Gary Schroen told National Public Radio that, just days after 9/11, Cofer Black sent him to Afghanistan with orders to “Capture bin Laden, kill him, and bring his head back in a box on dry ice.” As for other al Qaeda leaders, Black reportedly said, “I want their heads up on pikes.”

Schroen told NPR he had been stunned that, for the first time in 30 years of service, he had received orders to kill targets rather than to capture them. Contacted by the radio network, Black would not confirm the exact words of the order to Schroen, but did not dispute Schroen’s account.

This quaint tone reverberated among macho pundits in the FCM. Washington Post veteran Jim Hoagland, who was extremely well plugged in to the Bush administration, on Oct. 31, 2001, wrote an open letter to President Bush.

Apparently no Halloween prank, Hoagland strongly endorsed the wish for “Osama bin Laden’s head on a pike,” a wish he attributed to Bush’s “generals and diplomats.” The consummate insider, Hoagland then almost gave the real game away, giving Bush a list of priorities:

“The need to deal with Iraq’s continuing accumulation of biological and chemical weapons and the technology to build a nuclear bomb can in no way be lessened by the demands of the Afghan campaign. You must conduct that campaign so that you can pivot quickly from it to end the threat Saddam Hussein’s regime poses.”

I have the feeling we are in for many more chapters recording how the savage mood in Washington played out during the last seven years of the Bush/Cheney administration.


Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC.  He is a 27-year veteran analyst of the CIA and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on August 21, 2009.

 

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