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Deaths rise as U.S. uses storm trooper tactics at home
(BBC NEWS, March 20, 2006)
The recent killing of an unarmed Virginia doctor has raised concerns about what some say is an explosion in the use of military-style police Swat teams in the United States. . . . Armed with assault rifles, stun grenades - even armoured personnel carriers - units once used only in highly volatile situations are increasingly being deployed on more routine police missions. . . . Dr Salvatore Culosi Jr had come out of his townhouse to meet an undercover policeman when he was shot through the chest by a Special Weapons and Tactics force. . . . It was about 2135 on a chilly January evening. The 37-year-old optometrist was unarmed, he had no history of violence and displayed no threatening behaviour. . . . But he had been under investigation for illegal gambling and in line with a local police policy on "organised crime" raids, the heavily armed team was there to serve a search warrant. Salvatore Culosi Sr, the dead man's father, told the BBC: "I never knew him to carry so much as a pocket knife so it bewilders me how a detective could spend three months investigating my son and not know he is a pussy cat. . . . Professor Peter Kraska, an expert on police militarisation from Eastern Kentucky University, says that in the 1980s there were about 3,000 Swat team deployments annually across the US, but says now there are at least 40,000 per year. . . . Dr Kraska believes there has been an explosion of units in smaller towns and cities, where training and operational standards may not be as high as large cities - a growth he attributes to "the hysteria" of the country's war on drugs. . . . "I get several calls a month from people asking about local incidents - wrong address raids, excessive use of force, wrongful shootings - this stuff is happening all the time," he adds. . . . Every wrongful death of a civilian, or criminal killing of a police officer, fuels the complex and emotive argument over the way the United States is policed. . . . Dr Kraska sees such initiatives as reflecting a changing culture of police work. . . . "These elite units are highly culturally appealing to certain sections of the police community. They like it, they enjoy it," he says. . . . "The chance to strap on a vest, grab a semi-automatic weapon and go out on a mission is for some people an exciting reason to join - even if policing as a profession can - and should - be boring for much of the time. . . . "The problem is that when you talk about the war on this and the war on that, and police officers see themselves as soldiers, then the civilian becomes the enemy."
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posted by Lorenzo 6:03 PM
Internet blows CIA agents' cover
(BBC News, 12 March 2006)
The Chicago Tribune says it has compiled a list of 2,653 CIA employees, just by searching the internet. . . . The newspaper said it gathered the information from online services that compile public data, that any fee-paying subscriber can access. . . . A CIA spokeswoman admitted the internet had scuppered some of its methods. . . . "Cover is a complex issue that is more complex in the internet age," said Jennifer Dyck. . . . "There are things that worked previously that no longer work. [CIA Director Porter] Goss is committed to modernising the way the agency does cover in order to protect our officers who are doing dangerous work." . . . Ms Dyck declined to detail the remedies "since we don't want the bad guys to know what we're fixing". . . . Asked how so many personal details of CIA employees had found their way into the public domain, a senior US intelligence official told the Tribune "I don't have a great explanation, quite frankly". . . . Asked about fears that the details might be accessed by terrorist groups, he replied: "I don't know whether al-Qaeda could do this, but the Chinese could." . . . The disclosure comes as the US justice department continues an investigation into whether members of the Bush administration deliberately exposed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:20 PM
The U.S. has run amok; former CIA analyst
(Ambika Behal, UPI, March 9, 2006)
"The American people need to wake up now, the evidence is all there," he said. "Our president and vice president have started a war of aggression defined by Nuremberg as a supreme international crime." . . . Corruption has run amok in intelligence circles and the president should be impeached, a former CIA analyst says. . . . Also, he said, the United States is undergoing a constitutional crisis. . . . "I do not wish to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture," wrote Ray McGovern in a recent letter as he returned his Intelligence Commendation Award medallion to Congressman Pete Hoekstra, R-MI, and Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. . . . A 27-year veteran of the CIA, spanning administrations from John F. Kennedy to George Herbert Walker Bush, the current president's father, McGovern has taken, in recent years, a vocal stand on several aspects of the current Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and ensuing events. . . . Returning his medal for "especially commendable service" took a lot of thought. "I had been thinking of ways I could disassociate myself from torture," he said, describing it as a response for his grandchildren who, he said, would ask him what role he played in current events. . . . The alleged corruption of intelligence strikes a heavy chord with McGovern. The war in Iraq started, he said, because former CIA director George Tenet, was given no choice but to state the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. . . . "Back in my day, I like to think we would have got up and walked out," if asked to force intelligence, he said. "Cooking intelligence is a cardinal sin in the intelligence world." . . . "As outraged as we are by the politicization, some say prostitution, of intelligence procedures, we are upset by the undermining of the Constitution," he said, speaking for the anti-war group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, of which he is a founder. . . . "When I speak frankly about the real reasons why we went into Iraq," he said, "I use the acronym OIL - Oil, Israel, Logistical bases." In recent months, the debate has turned to Iran. . . . McGovern refers to a former colleague at the CIA -- Paul Pillar, recently retired and now able to voice his perspectives on current situations. . . . McGovern quoted Pillar's words from a talk given at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington Tuesday, "It is important to bear in mind that we don't know if Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon." . . . His point, he said, was that one must not only analyze the historical facts that would lead to such a conclusion, but also provide hard evidence -- not corrupted evidence. He said he believed that, if not prevented now, another war will start in the next month or two. . . . "The American people need to wake up now, the evidence is all there," he said. "Our president and vice president have started a war of aggression defined by Nuremberg as a supreme international crime." . . . Describing members of Congress as tools of the White House, McGovern expressed a need for the people to take a different way. "Together with torture and clearly illegal wiretapping, we need to look for ways to stop all these crimes and indignities," he said. . . . McGovern also discussed the constitutional provision of impeachment. "I think impeachment proceedings should begin" against President Bush, he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:43 PM
The Collapse of the American Empire
(By Kirkpatrick Sale)
I think it behooves us to examine seriously the ways in which the U.S. system is so drastically imperiling itself that it will cause not only the collapse of its worldwide empire but drastically alter the nation itself on the domestic front. . . . All empires collapse eventually . . . The reasons are not really complex. An empire is a kind of state system that inevitably makes the same mistakes simply by the nature of its imperial structure and inevitably fails because of its size, complexity, territorial reach, stratification, heterogeneity, domination, hierarchy, and inequalities. . . . In my reading of the history of empires, I have come up with four reasons that almost always explain their collapse. . . . First, environmental degradation. . . . Second, economic meltdown. . . . Third, military overstretch. . . . Finally, domestic dissent and upheaval. Traditional empires end up collapsing from within as well as often being attacked from without . . . The tactics of the Bush II administration show that it is so fearful of an expression of popular dissent that it is willing to defy and ignore environmental, civil-rights, and progressive groups, to bribe commentators to put out its propaganda, to expand surveillance and data-base invasions of privacy, to use party superiority and backroom tactics to ride roughshod over Congressional opposition, to use lies and deceptions as a normal part of government operations, to break international laws and treaties for short-term ends, and to use religion to cloak its every policy. . . . It's also hard to believe that a nation so thoroughly corrupt as this-in all its fundamental institutions, its boughten parties, academies, corporations, brokerages, accountants, governments-and resting on a social and economic base of intolerably unequal incomes and property, getting increasingly unequal, will be able to sustain itself for long. The upsurge in talk about secession after the last election, some of which was deadly serious and led on to organizations throughout most of the blue states, indicates that at least a minority is willing to think about drastic steps to "alter or abolish" a regime it finds itself fundamentally at odds with. . . . Those four processes by which empires always eventually fall seem to me to be inescapably operative, in varying degrees, in this latest empire. And I think a combination of several or all of them will bring about its collapse within the next 15 years or so. . . . Jared Diamond's recent book detailing the ways societies collapse suggests that American society, or industrial civilization as a whole, once it is aware of the dangers of its current course, can learn from the failures of the past and avoid their fates. But it will never happen, and for a reason Diamond himself understands. . . . As he says, in his analysis of the doomed Norse society on Greenland that collapsed in the early 15th century: "The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity." If this is so, and his examples would seem to prove it, then we can isolate the values of American society that have been responsible for its greatest triumphs and know that we will cling to them no matter what. They are, in one rough mixture, capitalism, individualism, nationalism, technophilia, and humanism (as the dominance of humans over nature). There is no chance whatever, no matter how grave and obvious the threat, that as a society that we will abandon those. . . . Hence no chance to escape the collapse of empire.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:20 PM
Harry Browne died March 1, 2006
Browne was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000. He died at his home in Franklin, Tenn., after a long struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Browne was 72.
"I would describe him as the most free man I ever met," said Jim Babka. "He was gentlemanly, courteous and cultivated his personal happiness. Mr. Browne was "poised and well-spoken, very gracious, very much a gentleman" and "incredibly disciplined."
Mr. Browne was an author and investment adviser. He was the author of 12 books that have sold a combined total of more than 2 million copies. They included "Why Government Doesn't Work," "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World," and "Fail-Safe Investing." His 1973 book, "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World," has been compared by some to Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" in terms of its influence in promoting a philosophy of individual freedom. In his 1970 book "How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation," he predicted that the dollar would be devalued and major inflation could be forthcoming.
Browne painstakingly "defended personal liberty against the surveillance state, less government against the homeland-security state, and peace against the war on terror." An Internet-distributed essay that Browne wrote a day after the 9/11 attacks said "it was only a matter of time until Americans would have to suffer personally" for their government's foreign policy missteps.
Mr. Browne "was a consistently hard-core and vital voice for liberty," Reason magazine senior editor Brian Doherty wrote at www.reason.com. Browne advocated ending the "insane War on Drugs." He also wanted to abolish the income tax.
"He was a man of great principle who courageously and consistently stood up for liberty even when his position clashed with mainstream political culture and public opinion," said Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank in Auburn, Ala.
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posted by Hal 1:33 PM