December 31, 2010
17 National Debt Statistics Which Prove That We Have Sold Our Children And Grandchildren Into Perpetual Debt Slavery
How would you feel if you found out one day that your parents had run up a million dollars in debt that now you were obligated to pay off?
Would you be absolutely furious?
Of course you would be, and rightly so.
So how do you think future generations will feel about us?
We were once the wealthiest nation on the planet, but we have taken that great inheritance and we have squandered it.
Now we are handing our children and our grandchildren the largest debt the world has ever seen.
How in the world can we do that?
How can we consign our descendants to perpetual debt slavery and still feel good about ourselves?
The America that we have all been enjoying so much today is going to be wiped out by all of this debt.
We have literally stolen the future.
We just had to keep spending more and more and more and more.
The greed of this generation will be remembered for a very, very long time.
The truth is that both political parties are responsible. Both of them have voted over and over and over to keep running up these huge budget deficits.
If you have voted for big spending Democrats at any point over the past 30 years then you have contributed to the problem. If you have voted for big spending Republicans at any point over the past 30 years then you have contributed to the problem.
Now we have reached a point where a horrific financial meltdown is basically inevitable. We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and it is only a matter of time until it bursts.
The following are 17 national debt statistics which prove that we have sold our children and our grandchildren into perpetual debt slavery....
#1 As of December 28th, the U.S. national debt was $13,877,230,355,933.00.
#2 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
#3 If the federal government began repaying the national debt at a rate of $10 million dollars a day it would take approximately 3,800 years to pay off the national debt.
#4 Today, the U.S. national debt is increasing by roughly 4 billion dollars every single day.
#5 The U.S. government is borrowing approximately 2.63 million more dollars every single minute.
#6 On September 30th, 1980 the U.S. national debt was 907 billion dollars. Just thirty years later, the U.S. national debt is over 14 times larger.
#7 According to a recent U.S. Treasury report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will reach 19.6 trillion dollars in 2015.
#8 It is being projected that the U.S. government will be paying 900 billion dollars just in interest on the national debt by the year 2019.
#9 A trillion $10 bills, if they were taped end to end, would wrap around the globe more than 380 times. That amount of money would still not be enough to pay off the U.S. national debt.
#10 The U.S. Congress has raised the federal debt ceiling six times in just the past three years.
#11 The 111th Congress added more to the U.S. national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined.
#12 The 111th Congress got us into so much new debt that it breaks down to $10,429.64 for each of the 308,745,538 people counted by the 2010 U.S. census.
#13 The U.S. government currently has to borrow approximately 41 cents of every single dollar that it spends.
#14 When you break down the debt that the U.S. government owes to China alone it comes to over $10,000 for every single American family.
#15 If you were alive when Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now. Almost unbelievably, the U.S. government will accumulate well over a trillion dollars more debt in 2011.
#16 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
#17 The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government debt held by the public will reach a staggering 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.
But the American people don't want to hear that we have spent decades creating a horrific debt crisis that is not going to be easy to fix. They just want someone to "tweak" a few things and get us back to being the greatest economy on earth. Unfortunately, it is simply not that easy.
Just check out the chart posted below. Our debt is exploding at an almost exponential rate....
But what do you tell a nation that is completely addicted to debt?
On an individual level, it can be a lot of fun to wildly run up credit card debt, but at some point you have to stop and start paying down that debt.
Unfortunately, on a national level we can't even get our politicians to slow down the rate at which our debt is increasing.
Sadly, the chart above does not tell the real story. It is based on fraudulent government accounting. If the government used GAAP accounting (like all public companies on Wall Street must), the numbers would look much worse.
John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics says that if the federal government would have used GAAP accounting standards to calculate the federal budget deficit for 2009, it would have been approximately 8.8 trillion dollars and that there is simply no way out of all this debt....
The government’s finances not only are out of control, but the actual deficit is not containable. Put into perspective, if the government were to raise taxes so as to seize 100% of all wages, salaries and corporate profits, it still would be showing an annual deficit using GAAP accounting on a consistent basis. In like manner, given current revenues, if it stopped spending every penny (including defense and homeland security) other than for Social Security and Medicare obligations, the government still would be showing an annual deficit. Further, the U.S. has no potential way to grow out of this shortfall.
The U.S. government is essentially bankrupt at this point. It is just a matter of playing out the hand.
The rest of the world is starting to realize this, and confidence in the U.S. dollar is beginning to significantly decline.
Things did not have to turn out this way, but Americans did not listen to the warnings and so now this is where we are at as a nation.
The next time you see a small child, look into the hopeful eyes of that child and just think about what we have done to the future of all of our children.
We have obliterated the financial future of this nation. Someone should be put into prison for all this. But instead the mainstream media treats prominent politicians from both political parties like rock stars.
The mainstream media continues to perpetuate the myth that the U.S. economy is on the road to a grand recovery and that eventually we can get a handle on all this debt and that somehow everything is going to be okay.
Well, everything is not going to be okay.
All that is on the horizon is great financial pain, and the sad thing is that it could have all been avoided.
But now the game is over and the day of reckoning is coming soon.
We are going to reap what we have sown.
Steve Kroft reports on the precarious financial conditions many states are facing — including California — and what they're doing about it:
December 30, 2010
December 28, 2010
Posted on Dec 27, 2010
By Chris Hedges
The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.
We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.
Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake,” Orwell wrote in “1984.” “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” in his book “Democracy Incorporated” to describe our political system. It is a term that would make sense to Huxley. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. The corporation state, hiding behind the smokescreen of the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and the tawdry materialism of a consumer society, devours us from the inside out. It owes no allegiance to us or the nation. It feasts upon our carcass.
The corporate state does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader. It is defined by the anonymity and facelessness of the corporation. Corporations, who hire attractive spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education and mass communication. They control the messages in movies and television. And, as in “Brave New World,” they use these tools of communication to bolster tyranny. Our systems of mass communication, as Wolin writes, “block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, to its total impression.”
The result is a monochromatic system of information. Celebrity courtiers, masquerading as journalists, experts and specialists, identify our problems and patiently explain the parameters. All those who argue outside the imposed parameters are dismissed as irrelevant cranks, extremists or members of a radical left. Prescient social critics, from Ralph Nader to Noam Chomsky, are banished. Acceptable opinions have a range of A to B. The culture, under the tutelage of these corporate courtiers, becomes, as Huxley noted, a world of cheerful conformity, as well as an endless and finally fatal optimism. We busy ourselves buying products that promise to change our lives, make us more beautiful, confident or successful as we are steadily stripped of rights, money and influence. All messages we receive through these systems of communication, whether on the nightly news or talk shows like “Oprah,” promise a brighter, happier tomorrow. And this, as Wolin points out, is “the same ideology that invites corporate executives to exaggerate profits and conceal losses, but always with a sunny face.” We have been entranced, as Wolin writes, by “continuous technological advances” that “encourage elaborate fantasies of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, actions measured in nanoseconds: a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility, whose denizens are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge.”
Our manufacturing base has been dismantled. Speculators and swindlers have looted the U.S. Treasury and stolen billions from small shareholders who had set aside money for retirement or college. Civil liberties, including habeas corpus and protection from warrantless wiretapping, have been taken away. Basic services, including public education and health care, have been handed over to the corporations to exploit for profit. The few who raise voices of dissent, who refuse to engage in the corporate happy talk, are derided by the corporate establishment as freaks.
Attitudes and temperament have been cleverly engineered by the corporate state, as with Huxley’s pliant characters in “Brave New World.” The book’s protagonist, Bernard Marx, turns in frustration to his girlfriend Lenina:
“Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?” he asks.
“I don’t know that you mean. I am free, free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”
He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We have been giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated.
The façade is crumbling. And as more and more people realize that they have been used and robbed, we will move swiftly from Huxley’s “Brave New World” to Orwell’s “1984.” The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths. The good-paying jobs are not coming back. The largest deficits in human history mean that we are trapped in a debt peonage system that will be used by the corporate state to eradicate the last vestiges of social protection for citizens, including Social Security. The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. And when these truths become apparent, anger will replace the corporate-imposed cheerful conformity. The bleakness of our post-industrial pockets, where some 40 million Americans live in a state of poverty and tens of millions in a category called “near poverty,” coupled with the lack of credit to save families from foreclosures, bank repossessions and bankruptcy from medical bills, means that inverted totalitarianism will no longer work.
We increasingly live in Orwell’s Oceania, not Huxley’s The World State. Osama bin Laden plays the role assumed by Emmanuel Goldstein in “1984.” Goldstein, in the novel, is the public face of terror. His evil machinations and clandestine acts of violence dominate the nightly news. Goldstein’s image appears each day on Oceania’s television screens as part of the nation’s “Two Minutes of Hate” daily ritual. And without the intervention of the state, Goldstein, like bin Laden, will kill you. All excesses are justified in the titanic fight against evil personified.
The psychological torture of Pvt. Bradley Manning—who has now been imprisoned for seven months without being convicted of any crime—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of “1984.” Manning is being held as a “maximum custody detainee” in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia. He spends 23 of every 24 hours alone. He is denied exercise. He cannot have a pillow or sheets for his bed. Army doctors have been plying him with antidepressants. The cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo have been replaced with refined Orwellian techniques, largely developed by government psychologists, to turn dissidents like Manning into vegetables. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. Now we can all be taken to Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to become compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures” are regularly imposed on our dissidents, including Syed Fahad Hashmi, who was imprisoned under similar conditions for three years before going to trial. The techniques have psychologically maimed thousands of detainees in our black sites around the globe. They are the staple form of control in our maximum security prisons where the corporate state makes war on our most politically astute underclass—African-Americans. It all presages the shift from Huxley to Orwell.
“Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling,” Winston Smith’s torturer tells him in “1984.” “Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
The noose is tightening. The era of amusement is being replaced by the era of repression. Tens of millions of citizens have had their e-mails and phone records turned over to the government. We are the most monitored and spied-on citizenry in human history. Many of us have our daily routine caught on dozens of security cameras. Our proclivities and habits are recorded on the Internet. Our profiles are electronically generated. Our bodies are patted down at airports and filmed by scanners. And public service announcements, car inspection stickers, and public transportation posters constantly urge us to report suspicious activity. The enemy is everywhere.
Those who do not comply with the dictates of the war on terror, a war which, as Orwell noted, is endless, are brutally silenced. The draconian security measures used to cripple protests at the G-20 gatherings in Pittsburgh and Toronto were wildly disproportionate for the level of street activity. But they sent a clear message—DO NOT TRY THIS. The FBI’s targeting of antiwar and Palestinian activists, which in late September saw agents raid homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, is a harbinger of what is to come for all who dare defy the state’s official Newspeak. The agents—our Thought Police—seized phones, computers, documents and other personal belongings. Subpoenas to appear before a grand jury have since been served on 26 people. The subpoenas cite federal law prohibiting “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.” Terror, even for those who have nothing to do with terror, becomes the blunt instrument used by Big Brother to protect us from ourselves.
“Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating?” Orwell wrote. “It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself.”
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”
GOP's Plan for the Economy: Force States into Bankruptcy and Default on Union Contracts and Pensions | Video Cafe
GOP's Plan for the Economy: Force States into Bankruptcy and Default on Union Contracts and Pensions | Video Cafe
Sam Seder filling in for Keith Olbermann on Countdown talked to former C&L contributor, FDL's Dave Dayden about his recent article at the News Desk -- In Unfolding War on Public Employees, State Lawmakers and Media Likely to Do the Work Themselves:
There’s no question that Republicans have introduced a bill which would require more transparency on state public pensions, and that they hope this would provide a road map in the states for where they can cut budgets; namely, on the backs of public employees. That doesn’t mean it will happen in exactly that way, however. And the idea that the next Congress will overhaul the 30s-era law allowing states to go bankrupt seems fanciful to me.
But I don’t think states or municipalities need much help from the federal government in their desire to rewrite public employee union contracts. There has been a concerted effort for years to demonize and delegitimize public employee unions, from both Republican pols and the media in general. This has left a distorted impression about greedy union contracts and well-paid government functionaries. So the new class of Republican governors would certainly want to capitalize on that by pleasing the public, who now favor things like wage freezes (which Obama just instituted at the federal level) and furloughs and bigger pension contributions, punishing those workers. And they are animated by a general hatred of unions, which have maintained their strength in the public sector while fading away in the private sector.
Alongside that, there are legitimate budget problems in the states. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates a $118 billion dollar shortfall in state and municipal budgets in 2011. And there are certainly some states and municipalities with currently unfunded pension liabilities. While federal aid could offset some of that, there’s no chance it will happen – expect the House to pass, early next year, a resolution basically forbidding “bailouts” of the states. At that point, state governments will either have to cut spending or raise taxes to balance their budgets, which almost all of them are constitutionally required to do. With public employees – or rather, cops, firefighters, nurses, teachers, the people who prepare your state tax refund, the people who get you your driver’s license, the people who get the roads and bridges fixed and basically secure your safe passage through the commons – seen in a negative light, they will in many states be lined up for cuts.
There's much more there so go read the rest. Republicans continue to prove that they're willing to finish wrecking our economy for political gain and to get their dream fulfilled of busting every union we've got left in this country in the process.
December 24, 2010
Who's Who at Wikileaks?
Global Research Editor`s Note
Progressive organizations have praised the Wikileaks endeavor. Our own website Global Research has provided extensive coverage of the Wikileaks data banks and their implications, particularly with regard to US-NATO war crimes.
A distinction should be made between the Wikileaks data banks, which constitute a valuable source of information in their own right, and the mechanisms whereby the leaks, used as source material by the corporate media, are transformed into news.
Wikileaks from the outset has collaborated closely with several mainstream media.
This article by Julie Lévesque focusses on the nature and organizational structures of the Wikleak project.
“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” --Franklin D. Roosevelt
After the publication of a series of confirmations rather than revelations, there are some crucial unanswered questions regarding the nature and organizational structure of Wikileaks.
Shrouded in secrecy, the now famous whistleblowing site and its director Julian Assange are demanding "transparency" from governments and corporations around the world while failing to provide some basic information pertaining to Wikileaks as an organization.
In the introduction to the book Underground: Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier (1997), by Julian Assange and Suelette Dreyfus, Assange begins with the following quotes:
Although we cannot confirm that the above quotes referred to him, they nonetheless suggest that Assange, at the time, was hiding his true identity.
Was he collaborating with these institutions?
For example, in his e-mail, Assange updates Blonder on his work, referring to “other platforms I have not as yet tested”, seemingly indicating that he was collaborating with the NASA employee. One thing we can confirm is that Julian Assange was in communication with people working for NASA and the Los Alamos Lab in the 1990s.
Adams also “chairs the Advisory Board of the Centre for the Mind at Sydney University and the Australian National University”. CFR member Michael Spence also serves on this board and Rupert Murdoch’s son, Lachlan Murdoch, has served as well until 2001. The 2008 Distinguished Fellow of the Center for the Mind was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has faced a slew of accusations for war crimes. Does Adams have conflicting allegiances: serving on the advisory board of the Wikileaks organization whose mandate is to expose war crimes, yet at the same time sitting on another board which honors an accused war criminal.
One of the board members of this fund is Steven Aftergood, who wrote one of the first articles on Wikileaks before the website was even functional. In a report from Technology Daily dated January 4, 2007, it is stated that “Wikileaks recently invited Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy researcher at the Federation of American Scientists [FAS], to serve on its advisory board.”
“’WikiLeaks allegedly has an advisory board, and allegedly I'm a member of it... I don't know who runs it...’ Laurie says his only substantive interaction with the group was when Assange approached him to help design a system that would protect leakers' anonymity.” (David Kushner, Inside Wikileaks' Leak Factory, Mother Jones, 6 April, 2010)
Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, a “Tibetan exile & activist” is a former President of the Washington Tibet Association, and was a member of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. In July of this year he was appointed by the Governor of Washington State to the State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. (A Tibetan Appointed to the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Tibetan Association of Washington, 17 July 2010)
Wang Youcai co-founded the Chinese Democracy Party and is another leader of the Tienanmen Square protests. Imprisoned for “conspiring to overthrow the Government of China... he was exiled in 2004 under international political pressure, especially from the United States. He is also a “member of Chinese Constitutional Democratic Transition Research and a member of the Coordinative Service Platform of the China Democracy Party” (Wikileaks' Avisory Board, Wikileaks.org, 27 March 2008)
Xiao Qiang is also the "founder and publisher of China Digital Times" (Biographies, National Endowment for Democracy), which is a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) (Directives from China's Ministry of Truth on Liu Xiaobo winning Nobel, Democracy Digest, October 8, 2010).
In 1998, Wang Dan was granted the NED's Democracy Award "for representing a peaceful alternative to achieve democracy and for [his] courage and steadfastness in the cause of democracy". (1998 Democracy Award honors Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in China, National Endowment for Democracy)
The Battle for "Transparency"
In 2007, Wikileaks described itself as an “uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis.” Its priority? “[E]xposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.” Like the advisory board member list, this description no longer appears on Wikileaks’ website. The organization also claimed to be “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.” (Wikileaks.org, 17 December 2007)
Assange encourages blind faith in Wikileaks as he puts a lot of emphasis on the trustworthiness of his opaque organization. In the words of Assange:
"People should understand that WikiLeaks has proven to be arguably the most trustworthy new source that exists, because we publish primary source material and analysis based on that primary source material," Assange told CNN. "Other organizations, with some exceptions, simply are not trustworthy."(The secret life of Julian Assange, CNN, 2 December 2010, emphasis added)
Yet The New York Times, which employs members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) including Wikileaks’ collaborator David E. Sanger, has proven more than once to be a propaganda tool for the US government, the most infamous example being the Iraqi WMD narrative promoted by Pulitzer Prize winner Judith Miller.
Links to The Intelligence Community
Wikleaks feels the need to reassure public opinion that it has no contacts with the intelligence community. Ironically, it also sees the need to define the activities of the intelligence agencies and compare them to those of Wikileaks:
Wikileaks' Entourage. Who Supports Wikileaks?
The people gravitating around Wikileaks have connections and/or are affiliated to a number of establishment organizations, major corporate foundations and charities. In the Wikileaks’ leak published by John Young, a correspondence dated January 4, 2007, points to Wikileaks' exchange with Freedom House:
John Young became very sceptical concerning the Wikileaks project specifically with regard to the initial fund-raising goal of 5 million dollars, the contacts with elite organzations including Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy and the alleged millions of documents:
This amount could not be needed so soon except for suspect purposes.
I'd say the same about the alleged 1.1 million documents ready for leaking. Way too many to be believable without evidence. I don't believe the number. So far, one document, of highly suspect provenance."
Some people suspect that this is a false flag operation intended to control the Internet.
The various connections tell us something regarding Assange's entourage. They do not, however, provide us with evidence that people within these various organizations were supportive of the Wikileaks project.
Over the last seven months, the London based Frontline Club has served as de facto U.K "headquarters" for Wikileaks. The Frontline Club is an initiative of Henry Vaughan Lockhart Smith, a former British Grenadier Guards captain. According to NATO, Vaughan Smith became an "independant video journalist [...] who always hated war, but remained [...] soldier-friendly". (Across the Wire, New media: Weapons of mass communication, NATO Review, February 2008)
Upon his release from bail, Julian Assange was provided refuge at Vaughan Smith's Ellingham Manor in Norfolk.
The Frontline Club is an establishment media outfit. Vaughan Smith writes for the NATO Review. (See NATO Web TV Channel and NATO Nations: Accurate, Reliable and Convenient). His relationship to NATO goes back to 1998 when he worked as a video journalist in Kosovo. In 2010, he was "embedded with a platoon from the British Grenadier Guards" during Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. (PBS NewsHour, February 19, 2010). According to the New York Times, The Frontline Club "has received financing for its events from the Open Society Institute". (In London, a Haven and a Forum for War Reporters - New York Times, 28 August 2006)
Concluding Remarks: The Cyber Warfare Narrative
Ultimately, Wikileaks could spark off, intentionally or not, entirely new rules and regulations.
Julie Lévesque is a journalist at Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
December 23, 2010
The Oil BP Tried To Hide Has Been Discovered, In Thick Layers On the Sea Floor Over An Area of Several Thousand Square Miles → Washington's Blog
By David WalshThe German magazine Spiegel reported December 17 that secret US diplomatic dispatches, released by WikiLeaks, reveal how American authorities put pressure on the Italian government to protect CIA agents responsible for kidnapping and torture.
23 December 2010
US officials intervened aggressively with the government of Silvio Berlusconi, going so far as to threaten damaged relations between the two countries, to suppress the case against two dozen CIA agents who abducted Egyptian Islamist cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in 2003.
In one of the most widely publicized cases of the illegal US practice of “extraordinary rendition,” Omar was abducted in broad daylight from the streets of Milan, taken to the US Air Force base at Aviano, and eventually transported to Cairo, where he was brutally tortured over the course of 14 months. He claims US agents were present during the abuse and interrogation. The imam was released by Egyptian authorities in 2004, later re-arrested and then released for good in 2007, with no criminal charges ever having been laid. He remains under house arrest.
Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro pieced together the CIA plot against Omar over the course of five years. The investigation led to the indictment of 26 Americans, including CIA and military personnel. Successive Italian governments, however, refused or ignored the prosecutors’ extradition requests.
In November 2009, a Milan judge—in the absence of the defendants—handed down sentences of five years in jail for 21 CIA operatives and a US Air Force officer and a sentence of eight years in prison for the primary organizer of the kidnapping, the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Lady. Another three American citizens—including Lady’s boss, Jeff Castelli, head of the CIA in Italy in 2003—were acquitted on the grounds that they enjoyed diplomatic immunity. See: [Italian court convicts US agents in CIA rendition case [6 November 2009] http://www.wsws.org/articles/
Spiegel explains that starting in 2007, when the legal proceedings against the CIA kidnappers began in earnest, “the US government tried to intervene—first in Milan and then in Rome—so as to influence the investigations of the public prosecutor’s office.” The documents, reports the German periodical, “provide detailed descriptions of how both the American ambassador and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates exerted direct pressure on the Italian government in Rome.”
Gates and the US ambassador wanted to be certain that the Berlusconi regime would use its influence to prevent international arrest warrants being issued for the CIA agents accused of involvement in the Abu Omar abduction, the type of arrest warrant issued for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks on phony sexual assault charges.
In May 2006, Spiegel reports, the American ambassador “relayed a threatening message: If arrest warrants were in fact issued, it could lead to a drastic deterioration in bilateral relations.” In notes following a conversation with a high-ranking Italian government official, the US ambassador wrote that he had explained that “nothing would damage relations faster or more seriously than a decision by the government of Italy to forward warrants for arrests” of the CIA agents in question.
The Italian government was more than happy to oblige. As Spiegel notes, “Even before the Americans started exerting pressure, the Italian government had already been doing all it could to cover up the Abu Omar affair,” in which its intelligence services were deeply involved. The magazine adds, “Other cables create the impression of a subservient stance on the part of the Italians—to the point that they became active accomplices. With startling frankness, members of the government suggest to the Americans that Italy’s independent judiciary could be easily manipulated.”
Discussions of this highly damaging affair went on at the highest levels. Defense Secretary Gates met with Prime Minister Berlusconi in February 2010 in an effort to obtain immunity for Joseph Romano, a US Air Force officer and one of those convicted in November 2009. According to a cable made public by WikiLeaks, Berlusconi told Gates that he “was working hard to resolve the situation.”
The Italian prime minister also told the Pentagon’s top man that the country’s justice system was “dominated by leftists” and that he had many enemies, especially among the public prosecutors. Berlusconi also predicted that the “courts will come down in our favor” on appeal.
On December 15, an Italian appeals court increased the sentences against the 23 Americans convicted in the abduction. The court added one year to the eight-year term handed down to former CIA station chief Lady and two years to the five-year terms given to the other 22 Americans convicted. The CIA criminals remain at liberty, but run the risk of arrest if they travel to Europe.