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Nominations for April 2008

#019 Iraq Vets Testify

Researched by Kat Pat Crespan and Erica Elkington

Iraq Veterans Against the War brought together more than 300 war veterans on March 13-16, 2008 to discuss soldiers’ actions and the impact of the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. At the “Winter Soldier” event, dozens veterans publicly testified about crimes they committed during the course of battle — many of which were prompted by the orders or policies set down by superior officers. Some international law experts say the soldiers’ statements show the need for investigations into potential violations of international law by high-ranking officials in the Bush administration and the Pentagon. The event was designed to demonstrate that well-publicized incidents of US brutality, including the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha, are not isolated incidents perpetrated by “a few bad apples,” as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the organizers said, of “an increasingly bloody occupation.” Though BBC predicted that this event would dominate international news, there was a near total back out on this historic news event by the US corporate media.

In June 2007 The Nation also published interviews of 50 Iraq vets in a comprehensive investigation into the effects of the occupation on Iraqi civilians.

“Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan— Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations”
Live Broadcast Pacifica Radio. March 14-16, 2008,
http://warcomeshome.org/wintersoldier2008

“US Soldiers ‘Testify’ About War Crimes” Aaron Glantz, One World.net, 3/19/2008
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/19/7763/

“Why Are Winter Soldiers Not News?” FAIR, 3/19/08
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3318

“The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness” Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, The Nation, 7/30/2007
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/hedges

#188 InfraGard

Researched by Chris Armanino and Sarah Maddox

More than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to collect information on individuals. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public, and at times before elected officials. In return they provide information to the government. The ACLU warns, “There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations—some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers—into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI.” Aside from information sharing, members are expected to assist the government when martial law is declared. “They’re very much looped into our readiness capability,” says DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa. According to more than one interviewed member they have permission to shoot to kill in the event of martial law without fear of prosecution. As of late January 2008, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, www.infragard.net, which adds that, “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have representatives in InfraGard.”

“Exclusive! The FBI Deputizes Business” Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, 2/7/2008

http://www.progressive.org/mag_rothschild0308

#104 Chertoff Waives All Laws for Border Construction

Researched by Josh Argyle

Outrage is mounting as construction of the US-Mexico border wall moves forward, destroying all homes, schools, businesses, ecosystems as well as family, social and business connections in its path. In response to protest and legal actions, Chief of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff is using the power granted him in the Real ID Act of 2005 to waive all laws that might slow barrier construction. According to the Congressional Research Service, this grant of phenomenal power is unprecedented: It gives an unelected, political appointee —Chertoff—sole discretion to ignore all federal laws. In 2005, when environmental groups opposed wall construction through a delicate San Diego estuary, Chertoff waived the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Water Act, National Wildlife Refuge Act, the Federal Water Pollution Act, and other statutes. Chertoff again used his exemption in Yuma, Arizona, in January 2007. In October 2007 he suspended nineteen laws that stood in the way of a two-mile section of border fence through a national conservation area in Arizona. He is currently threatening the same in southern Texas. No judicial review of Chertoff’s decisions is permitted—except for alleged constitutional violation, a route lawyers say has yet to be tried.

“The Border Fence Will Wreck the Environment and Destroy Families” Mary Jo McConahay, Texas Observer, 10/27/2007
http://www.alternet.org/environment/62137/?page=entire

“A ‘Real’ Battle Over the Border Wall” Texas Observer, 11/8/2007
http://www.texasobserver.org/blog/index.php/2007/11/08/a-real-battle-over-the-border-wall/

#205 Holes in the Border Wall (link to #104)

Researched by Sarah Maddox

Department of Homeland Security is not answering questions of why the US-Mexico fence is bypassing properties of the wealthy and politically connected. As the DHS files eminent domain lawsuits to evict homeowners and public entities (such as City and State parks and universities), local residents are questioning the justification for their sacrifice, and just how secure this fence can be, given all the “gaps” for the affluent. One condemned property borders that of billionaire Ray L. Hunt, of one of the wealthiest oil and gas dynasties in the world, and a major donor to some of Bush’s pet projects. The wall stops at Hunt’s 6,000-acre property of exclusive gated communities and a 1,800-acre business park.  At another point the wall stops at the edge a popular Winter retreat and golf course, and starts up again at its other side. The Secure Border Initiative contract awarded to Boeing (one of Washington’s biggest political contributors to both parties) is an “indefinite delivery” contract with little oversight and no maximum on how much they can spend. Residents argue that the fence’s construction has everything to do with politics and private profit, and nothing to do with stopping illegal immigration.

“Holes in the Wall” Melissa del Bosque, Texas Observer Web Exclusive, 2/18/2008
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2688

“Holes in the Wall: Texas Border Wall Bypassing Wealthy Residents with Bush Admin Ties” Democracy Now!, 2/27/2008
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/27/holes_in_the_wall_texas_border

#168 Japan Debates War on Terror and 9-11

Researched by Alan Scher and Bill Gibbons

Testimony in the Japanese Parliament, broadcast live nationwide on Japanese TV in January 2008, challenged the premise and validity of the Global War on Terror. Parliament members insisted upon an investigation into the War’s origin: the events of 9/11. Parliament Member Yukihisa Fujita pointed out that 24 Japanese citizens were killed on 9/11, yet the mandate of a Japanese Government criminal investigation never followed. “So far the only thing the government has said is that we think it was caused by Al Qaeda because President Bush told us so.  We have not seen any real proof that it was Al Qaeda.” Fujita went on to extensively ask “about the suspicious information being uncovered and the doubts people world-wide are having about the events of 9/11.” Fujita received support for concluding that the reason for participating in the US War on Terror needs to be investigated and analyzed. After the testimony, Fujita says that many of his fellow Parliament members thanked him for the bravery it took to publicly address 9/11. He also received a death threat.

“Transcript Of Japanese Parliament’s 911 Testimony” Benjamin Fulford, Rence.com, and Rock Creek Free Press, 1/14/2008,
http://www.rense.com/general80/testi.htm

#073 CARE Rejects US Food Subsidies

Researched by Cedric Therene

One of the world’s largest international aid organizations turned the food aid industry on its head recently by declaring they will not accept $46 million in food subsidies from the U.S. government. The report “White Paper on Food Aid Policy” explains US-based CARE International’s opposition to “monetization” —the food aid policy in which the US government buys crops from subsidized US farms and ships them around the world through aid organizations. Often food aid is driven by “the export and surplus disposal objectives of the exporting country.” CARE claims that the way the U.S. government distributes food hurts small farmers and undermines local food production in the very communities and countries the program is supposed to help. The system replaces self-sustainability with increased poverty and dependency. Meanwhile the powerful US agribusiness industry uses the concept of “charity” to justify blocking international demands to limit the import of destabilizing US farm subsidies.

“Mutiny Shakes U.S. Food Aid Industry” Ellen Massey, North American Inter Press Services, 7/23/2007
http://ipsnorthamerica.net/print.php?idnews=1008

“Starvation, Aid Agencies and the Benevolence of the Imperialists” Revolution Magazine, 10/1/2007
http://rwor.org/a/108/awtw-food-aid-en.html

#100 Tracking Billions Lost in Iraq

Researched by Bill Gibbons

One month after the Invasion of Iraq the United States Federal Reserve began shipping $12 Billion in U.S. currency (United Nations impounded funds dating back from the first Gulf war which belonged to the Iraqi People) to Iraq where it was to be dispensed by the Coalition Provisional Authority for reconstruction. Incredibly, at least $9 billion has gone missing, unaccounted for because of mismanagement and lack of oversight. In a little over a year, the Fed shipped $12 Billion, in bricks weighing a total of 363 tons. There was no auditing arm established by the Pentagon to track the money. The Coalition Provisional Authority was literally a rogue agency within the US, with no formal documents establishing it. Run out of a home in La Jolla, California, it was a shell corporation with no certified public accountants on staff, its address of record a post-office box in the Bahamas where it is legally incorporated. That post-office box has been associated with shadowy offshore activities.

“Billions over Baghdad” Donald Barlett and James Steele, Vanity Fair 10/2007
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/10/iraq_billions200710

“Billions Over Baghdad: How Did $9B in Cash Airlifted From the Fed to Iraq Go Missing?” Democracy Now!9/12/2007
http://www.democracynow.org/2007/9/12/billions_over_baghdad_how_did_9b

“The Great American Swindle” Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 8/23/2007
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16076312/the_great_iraq_swindle

#077 Hillary’s Faith Based Politics

Research by Sarah Maddox

Through all of her years in Washington, Hillary Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. The Fellowship’s long-term goal is “a leadership led by God—leaders of all levels of society who direct projects as they are led by the spirit.” The Fellowship’s “God-led” leaders have also included General Suharto of Indonesia; Honduran general and death squad organizer Gustavo Alvarez Martinez; and dictator Siad Barre of Somalia. Clinton’s religious talk is more deeply rooted than either fans or foes would have it. It reveals not just a determination to “out-Jesus” the GOP, but also a powerful religious influence behind her politics.

“Hillary’s Prayer: Hillary Clinton’s Religion and Politics” Kathryn Joyce & Jeff Sharlet, Mother Jones, September 1, 2007

http://www.motherjones.com/cgi-bin/print_article.pl?

url=http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/09/hillarys-prayer.html

#002 World Bank Responsible for Theft of Congo Forests

Researched by Pat Stengle and Katie Ernest

The World Bank financed and encouraged foreign companies to destructively log the world’s second largest forest, destroying the environment of up to 600,000 Congolese Pygmies, according to an independent inspection panel report on an internal investigation by senior bank staff and outside experts. The report accuses the bank of drastically misleading the Congo government about the value of its forests, of deceptive and unethical business practice, and of breaking its own rules regarding protection of environments and alleviation of poverty. The report on the bank’s activities in Democratic Republic of Congo since 2002 follows complaints made by an alliance of 12 Pygmy groups. The groups claim that the legally-questionable World Bank system of awarding vast logging concessions to companies to exploit the forests causes “irreversible harm” to rainforests that nearly 40 million people depend on medicines, shelter, timber and food.

“World Bank Accused of Razing Congo Forests” John Vidal, The Guardian UK, 10/4/2007
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/04/congo.forests

“Vast Forests With Trees Each Worth £4,000 Sold for a Few Bags of Sugar” John Vidal, The Guardian UK, 4/11/2007

http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/041107EA.shtml

#053 CIA and FBI Edit Wikipedia

Researched by Pat Stengle and Elizabeth Allen

People using CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program. The changes violate Wikipedia’s conflict of interest guidelines. The tracing program, WikiScanner, was developed by Cal Tech graduate, Virgil Griffith, who traced numerous violations to FBI and CIA computers. According to spokesperson Sandy Ordonez of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia’s neutrality guidelines prohibit persons with close ties to an issue from contributing to or editing that entry.

“See Who’s Editing Wikipedia – Diebold, The CIA, A Campaign” John Borland, Wired, 8/2007
http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/08/wiki_tracker

“Wikipedia ‘ Shows CIA Page Edits” Jonathan Fildes, BBC News, 8/15/2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6947532.stm

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