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Friday
Jun062008

9/11's KSM: Inquisition not a trial

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators have denounced their trial as illegitimate and vowed to accept possible death sentences.

Mohammed and his four codefendants rejected representation by the military and civilian lawyers assigned to defend them, but the judge hearing their capital case temporarily ordered attorneys to continue representing two of them.

It was disclosed during the arraignment that the alleged Hamburg terrorism cell coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh had been compelled to take psychotropic drugs while imprisoned in Guantanamo. The Army lawyer representing reputed money facilitator Mustafa Ahmed Hawsawi said he had been intimidated by the others into joining the boycott.

Binalshibh objected to being denied the right to represent himself, insisting he has full command of his faculties despite the medication. He echoed Mohammed's desire for martyrdom, reminding the court that he had tried to be among the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackers but was denied a US visa.

Mohammed, known in counterterrorism circles as KSM, took command of his first public appearance since his arrest in Pakistan five years ago. He told the judge, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, that he considered all US law evil and the proceedings against him "an inquisition, not a trial."

When Kohlmann informed the self-proclaimed al Qaeda operations chief that the charges against him could result in a death sentence, the defendant replied amiably: "This is what I wish. I'm looking to be a martyr for a long time."

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Thursday
Jun052008

Senate Committee Report: Bush knew Iraq claims weren't true

A long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report made public Thursday concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.

A companion report found that a special office set up by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld undertook "sensitive intelligence activities" that were inappropriate "without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department."

“Before taking the country to war, this administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” said committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D- W. Va.

It's long been known that the administration's claims in the runup to the Iraq war, from Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al Qaida to whether Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program, were incorrect, and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suggested the problems were faulty intelligence.

"We had the intelligence that we had fully vetted, but it was wrong," she said. "We certainly regret that and we've taken measures to fix it."

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Thursday
Jun052008

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under U.S. control

By Patrick Cockburn / The Independent

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal. America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007.

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Thursday
Jun052008

Spooks Infest Marriott Hotel As Bilderberg Begins

Spooks, FBI agents and cops have descended on the Westfields Marriott hotel in Chantilly Virginia to scrutinize Jim Tucker and Alex Jones as the 2008 Bilderberg meeting gets underway today without even being mentioned in the American corporate media.

Immediately before appearing on the nationally syndicated Coast to Coast AM broadcast last night, a show that boasts around 16 million listeners, Alex Jones was interrupted by a fire alarm which forced him to leave the hotel.

"I know this is a set-up, they timed this exactly….the moment the phone rang the alarm goes off….they want to use this to flush us out of here," Jones told host George Noory.

Jones added that he was also confronted by a security guard 30 minutes before the interview who told him to stop filming and made a bizarre out of context reference to a fire alarm.

"This is some kind of stunt, these bastards walked up to us and made a comment about fire alarms, we come in here the phone rings and right as the phone rings and they pick it up this alarm goes off," said Jones.

Jones also said that FBI agents had grilled him and Tucker on whether he "was planning anything violent" during a confrontation in the hotel restaurant. "There’s agents and spies everywhere….everywhere we go we are followed….they are questioning us, getting in our faces," said Jones, who was also detained and interrogated before the 2006 Bilderberg meeting in Ottawa Canada.

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Thursday
Jun052008

Rep. Zoe Lofgren: ICE officials "are defending the indefensible"

The top U.S. immigration enforcement official told a congressional subcommittee yesterday that the Bush administration will disclose more information about foreigners who die in the sprawling network of federal detention centers around the country.

Julie Myers, assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, said her agency will report such deaths to a branch of the Justice Department that collects similar information about inmates in state prisons and local jails.

The Justice Department publishes statistics on the fatalities, not the identities of the victims, but Myers said the change represents "more transparency" about detainee deaths. Since last year, congressional Democrats have pleaded with ICE to reveal the names and circumstances of foreigners who have died in U.S. custody.

Myers announced the new reporting requirement during a congressional hearing on medical care for immigration detainees, the first since The Washington Post published a series of articles last month that documented a broken system of care for the growing number of foreigners who are imprisoned while the government tries to deport them.

The articles, based on thousands of pages of internal documents, found that 83 detainees had died since ICE was created five years ago and that many more sick and mentally ill people have been denied the treatment to which they are entitled.

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Thursday
Jun052008

War Saps Night-Vision Gear

The war in Iraq is creating a major - and perhaps deadly - shortage of night-vision goggles for civilian pilots who fly medical helicopters in the U.S.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has encouraged the use of such equipment since 2006 to reduce the risk of deadly nighttime crashes during emergency medical flights.

But air ambulance services that fly sick or injured people to the hospital have been put on waiting lists of a year or more by makers of night-vision gear because the U.S. military has contracts that give it priority.

"The war in Iraq escalated and the goggles weren't available," said Gary Sizemore, president of the National EMS Pilots Association and a pilot in Perry, Fla. "We were put on a waiting list."

Mr. Sizemore estimated that only 25 percent of the 800 or so emergency medical helicopters in the U.S. have the technology. He said he would like such gear on his own helicopter so he could better navigate the dark pine forest over which he routinely flies in northern Florida.

Night-vision goggles take the tiny amount of light from the stars or the moon and amplify it hundreds of times, enabling the pilot to see in the dark and avoid flying into mountains, wires or other obstructions.

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Thursday
Jun052008

Washington DC: Police to ID Drivers at Checkpoints

The Metropolitan Police Department said Wednesday that it will take the drastic step of restricting access to some 5th District neighborhoods to curb the unchecked violence that has resulted in 14 killings in that area since April.

Under the Neighborhood Safety Zones program, motorists will be required to show identification and explain to police their reason for being in the area before entering designated two- to three-block zones that have experienced high crime.

Civil rights groups, lawmakers and residents fear the move is another step toward creating a police state in the District, but city officials said they have covered all the legal bases.

Mary F. Calvert/The Washington Times Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier says a significant number of recent shootings in the 5th District were committed in stolen vehicles.

"It's not going to be random," said D.C. interim Attorney General Peter J. Nickles. "We're not picking on people. I don't anticipate [a lawsuit]. But if somebody wants to sue, the courthouse is open."

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said the plan, which will be enacted by an executive order, is illegal and susceptible to abuse.

"I support increased police presence to reduce crime, but to stop innocent people, require identification, and require everyone to explain themselves is unlawful," said Mr. Mendelson, who head's the Council's public safety committee.

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Thursday
Jun052008

U.S. To Lend Sensitive Security Gear to China's Military

The Bush administration has approved the export of sensitive equipment and expertise to China's military and police forces to bolster security at the Beijing Olympics, according to a number of private and public interviews and documents.

The support includes security and military equipment that is restricted for export under the Export Administration Act, prompting some critics of the policy to question its legality.

The FBI and other U.S. security agencies also are helping China to develop sensitive counterterrorism coordination techniques, such as creating joint security operations and intelligence centers, according to Bush administration defense and national security officials.

The officials said U.S. support to the Beijing Olympics is modeled on the security plan and federal assistance used for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The techniques can be used for surveillance of protesters, including Tibetans, they said.

The support is unprecedented for an administration that came to office voicing distrust of China, especially after a 2001 crisis involving the midair collision of a U.S. surveillance plane and Chinese jet interceptor.

It has raised concerns among human rights groups that some of the gear may be used to repress internal dissent, and has angered some in Washington who regard China as a long-term security threat.

Chinese officials said they think the assistance is appropriate given a history of terrorist attacks on the Olympics and the need to protect the athletes and visitors.

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Wednesday
Jun042008

US elections: Jimmy Carter tells Barack Obama NOT to pick Hillary Clinton as running mate

Barack Obama should not pick Hillary Clinton as his vice-presidential nominee, former president Jimmy Carter has told the Guardian.

"I think it would be the worst mistake that could be made," said Carter. "That would just accumulate the negative aspects of both candidates."

Carter, who formally endorsed the Illinois senator last night, cited opinion polls showing 50% of US voters with a negative view of Clinton.

In terms that might discomfort the Obama camp, he said: "If you take that 50% who just don't want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he's got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds."

Carter, who insisted that he would have been equally against an Obama-Clinton pairing if the former first lady had won the nomination, made the remarks in an interview with the Guardian's Weekend magazine, to be published on Saturday. The interview was conducted before the final round of voting last night confirmed Obama as the party's presumptive nominee.

The intervention of the former president - regarded as the senior elder of the Democratic party by some, and as a walking reminder of electoral failure by others - comes just as speculation of a joint Obama-Clinton ticket is building in the US. Lanny Davis, a close Clinton adviser and friend, has launched a petition drive and website - and written directly to Obama - urging him to appoint his defeated rival.

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Wednesday
Jun042008

FBI documents obtained by a congressional committee indicate that Vice President Dick Cheney may have authorized his former deputy to leak the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson!

In a June 3 letter sent to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Rep. Henry Waxman, Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called on the Justice Department to release transcripts of interviews that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald conducted with President George W. Bush and Cheney about the leak of Plame's identity.

Waxman said the Justice Department has turned over to his committee redacted transcripts of interviews that federal investigators conducted with former White House political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

According to those transcripts, Libby told federal investigators that Cheney may have told him to leak Plame's association with the CIA to reporters, Waxman said in the letter to Mukasey. 

"In his interview with the FBI, Mr. Libby stated that it was ‘possible’ that Vice President Cheney instructed him to disseminate information about Ambassador [Joseph] Wilson's wife to the press. This is a significant revelation and, if true, a serious matter. It cannot be responsibly investigated without access to the Vice President's FBI interview," Waxman wrote.

Waxman's office would not release copies of the Libby-Rove transcripts or describe the contents in any detail. Fitzgerald's investigative interviews with Bush and Cheney -- asking how much knowledge the President and Vice President had about the Plame leak -- have not been disclosed.

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