WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 — Notes taken by Director Robert S. Mueller III of the F.B.I. say that Attorney General John Ashcroft was “barely articulate,” “feeble” and “clearly stressed” shortly after a hospital-room meeting in March 2004 in which two top White House aides tried to persuade him to sign an extension for eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.
Mr. Mueller’s notes, based on a visit to Mr. Ashcroft’s room and released Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee, provide a fuller picture of the events surrounding a March 10, 2004, confrontation over the surveillance program. They go beyond the account that Mr. Mueller gave the committee in July and reinforce an account by James B. Comey, the former deputy attorney general who testified in May.
In providing corroboration for Mr. Comey’s version of events, Mr. Mueller’s typewritten entries served to rebut the suggestion of some Bush administration officials who have privately dismissed Mr. Comey’s account of the hospital standoff as an overwrought and one-sided description.
The notes list 26 meetings and phone conversations over three weeks — from March 1 to March 23 — during a fierce debate that almost led to mass resignations at the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Mueller was not at the meeting between Mr. Ashcroft and Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff. He arrived at the hospital shortly afterward, and his entries include an account of his hospital-room meeting with Mr. Ashcroft as well as what he says Mr. Comey told him about the earlier confrontation.
The notes also reveal a series of meetings before and after March 10 between Mr. Mueller and other high-level administration officials. Some of those meetings were attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, suggesting that Mr. Cheney had played a central role in the controversy. Other regular participants included Mr. Gonzales and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then the director of the National Security Agency, which conducted the eavesdropping program.
The notes, which were turned over to the committee this week, are not dated. But they suggest that Mr. Mueller gradually became an intermediary between the White House and the Justice Department, meeting with each side almost hourly as the crisis deepened.
During their bedside meeting with Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card tried to obtain his signature on a presidential order reauthorizing the program. Mr. Comey, acting as attorney general during Mr. Ashcroft’s hospitalization, had declined to sign the reauthorization, he said, because he believed that part of the program was illegal.
During the meeting, Mr. Ashcroft rebuffed the White House entreaties to sign the directive. Mr. Comey waspresent during that session, and Mr. Mueller’s notes show that Mr. Comey then briefed the F.B.I. director on Mr. Ashcroft’s remarks. Mr. Ashcroft, the notes said, reviewed his legal objections to the eavesdropping program and complained to Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card that he had been “barred from obtaining the advice he needed on the program by the strict compartmentalization rules of the WH,” a reference to the extreme secrecy imposed by the White House.
As a result of the deletions, virtually all of Mr. Mueller’s notations about his White House meeting with President Bush on March 12 were missing, though from Mr. Comey’s testimony it is known that the F.B.I. director intervened to head off threatened resignations by himself, Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Comey and other Justice Department officials.
After speaking with Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller, the president agreed to permit changes in the security agency’s activities to satisfy their legal objections. Current and former government officials have said the legal dispute involved data mining, or computer searches of electronic records of telephone calls and e-mail.
Mr. Mueller said in the notes that he had gone to the hospital after receiving a call from Mr. Comey, arriving at 7:40 p.m. and departing at 8:20. His notes said Mr. Comey had told him that Mr. Ashcroft, who had undergone gall bladder surgery the previous day, was in “no condition” to receive visitors.
Mr. Mueller said Mr. Comey had asked him to intervene with Mr. Ashcroft’s F.B.I. security detail to limit visitors.
“Comey asked me to meet briefly with the AG to see his condition,” he wrote. “He also asked that I inform the detail that no visitors, other than family, were to be allowed to see the AG without my consent (I so informed the detail).”
Gonzales and Card: Ballcarriers for End Run around the Constitution
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 18, 2007
The story above reveals background information about how and what Bush and Gonzales did within the Justice Department to force their illegal spying programs through. Understanding what Bush and Gonzales have done will help us understand what these criminals are doing now.
By 2002 Gonzales and Yoo had developed legal arguments that claimed Bush had unlimited power as a wartime president. At least two illegal warrantless wiretapping programs followed, one by the FBI, and one by the NSA. The NSA program at that time was most likley evading FISA warrants by monitoring foreign commuications to Americans without FISA's oversight or warrants.
Ashcroft was just fine with these programs. But something big happened in March of 2004. When the leading front men for the White House, Card and Gonzales, were desperate enough to try to use Ashcroft's post surgical incapacity and weakness to try to force through what appears to be either a radically expanded version of one of the two previous illegal search programs, or to authorize the creation of a new, third program.
Ashcroft had approved the previous two programs, but flat refused the third. There were rebellions in the Justice Department and the FBI against this particular expansion of illegal searches. Realize that Justice and the FBI had no problem with the previous two programs, despite the fact that they too are warrantless, and completely at odds with our Constitutional rights.
Mueller's defence of Ashcroft in the hospital is informative about the conflict over warrantless searches. As the head of the FBI, Mueller is the guy who has continued to refused to submit the FBI's illegal warrantless wiretapping program to Congressional Oversight. Mueller has no compunctions about breaking the 4th Amendment. Yet Mueller was so disturbed by the hospital assualt that he took notes about the incident. These notes prove Gonzales lied about the incident.
The Administration's assult on Ashcroft in the hospital is tells us alot about the character of this administration. Besides being indicative of the dishonorable character of this administration, that the hospital assualt was carried our by the President's Chief of Staff, Andy Card, indicates that this dishonorable task was done with the full knowledge and approval of the President. Apparently the President has no compunctions about using pressure on people in vunerable conditions.
Gonzales was much more than Card's assistant Messenger Boy for the President's disgraceful mission. Gonzales wrote the legal justification for unlimited presidential power which are still the basis of Bush's illegal spying program. Gonzales soon replaced the recalcatrant Ashcroft as Attorney General. The timing of the hospital assualt is also informative.
The timing of the hospital assualt on Ashcroft aligns with credible reports that the NSA had installed "splitter" rooms in regional telecommunications hubs capable of capturing all of the communications through that hub.
In January of 2003 an ATT Tech in San Francisco, Mark Klein, observed an NSA room capable of absorbing all of the substantial internet, digital and long-distance telephome communications the SF office handled. The same tech reported similar rooms had been constructed in other American cities. Another ATT Tech in his office received security clearence and worked in the room during 2003, and it appears, through the heavily redacted document, that the NSA room began receiving data from this system in February of 2003.
The completition and deployment of a comprehensive domestic easedropping capability by the NSA in early 2003 was the reason intense pressure from the White House was put on Ashcroft. The pressure on Ashcroft was to force him, in a moment of weakness and vunerbility, to approve this new, comprehensive, and completely unconstitutional and illegal spying program was chronologically aligned with the start up of a massive NSA program to record all American communications.
If Bush was capable of doing this to Ashcroft, just think of what he is authorizing in his secret prisons.
It appears that the ATT Tech in SF had seen the construction and shake down cruise for the program that inspired Gonzale's hospital assult on Ashcroft on March 10, 2004. This was the issue, the unfettered deployment of the NSA within the US, that had roiled the Justice Department and the FBI.
This was the real reason Gonzales was put in charge of Justice, rather than nominated for the Supreme Court.
Bush had immediate needs for a corrupted Attorney General who would defend the President's claims to unlimited authority. Gonzales wrote the president's legal opinions claiming unlimited power, and his low behavior during the hospital Assult on Ashcroft, assured the president that attorney general Gonzales has put aside his duty to our country and Constitution to assist and protect a whole range of crimes committed by a president who believs himself above the law. This President does not need warrants to arrest, let alone search anyone he chooses.
This means that the third, and most egregious program of them all, has certainly been approved and fully employed during Gonzales' tenure as attorney general. This means that the NSA program capable of recording all of the domestic internet, digital, and telephone communication of Americans is running now, in a city near you.
(Note from the author: Frontline, on oct 16, 2007, in in "cheney's law," confirmed that the hospital confrontation was indeed about the white house use of unlimited, unwarranted illegal spying, as I figured out above, on aug 18, 2007. alex, may 6, 2008.)
Domestic Spying: The Origins
After 911 bush went hog wild. Kidnapping, torture, and murder soon ensued. In the face of these crimes, it was apparently an easy reach for the administration to assume the power to search every american's digital communications.
Americans became aware of the extent of the president's seizure of power slowly, as the NYT spiked the story for at least a year. You would think they would have learned something from their servile behavior leading us to the iraq war. Yet another proof that the nyt, and the rest of the corporate press is no more than lapdogs of power, rather than watchdogs of freedom.
Bush Authorized Domestic Spying: Bush is a Criminal, and an Enemy of our Constitution, wp, 12-16-05
As time went on, it surfaced that a major controversy had broken out at the justice department over authorization of a number of presidential programs. The nature and extent of the most aggressive of these programs was exposed by Hard evidence surfaced from an Mark klein, an att tech who stumbed on blueprints for a massive data collection sysem attached to the nation's telecommunications backbone.
the desperation of the administration was exposed by the hospital incident, where gonzales and card attempted to pressure ashcroft, the attorney general, to approve these illegal programs, when he was critically ill under intensive care in a hospital.
Comey testimony before Congress, UTube, 20 minutes. Comey was the acting attn. gen. when ashcroft was in the hospital. Very informative.
The exposure of the hospital incident brought about cursory oversight by the dem congress.
links related to authorizing illegal searches in the justice department
Corruption Updates 70, 5th article. june 8, 2007,Democrats May Subpoena N.S.A. Documents(blowback from Comey's testimony to Congress recounting the hospital assualt on ashcroft, Congress wanted legal justifications for program, and his side of the episode from Gonzales. note that the nyt had exposed one of the programs in late 2005)
Corruption Updates 95, 5th article on the page,Gonzales testifies in firings row: And Lied to Congress about the hospital assualt
Corruption Updates 104, 1st article on the page, Mueller Notes Detail Pressure on Ashcroft Over Spying: Gonzales Caught Lying, yet Again
Goldsmith was head legal counsel in Justice, eventually resigining because of conflicts in the Office of Profeeional Council over authorizing a clearly unconstitutional and illegal criminal spying program.
Subsequent to these hearings, the dem congress has repeatedly affirmed the president's claims to unlimited, unchecked searching authority with illegal laws.
The illegal searching authority congress granted the president has many expressions. The "patriot" act authorized various types of warrantless searches, including a person's home, records, and telecommunications by domestic police agencies, such as the fbi. The other programs involve deploying the military, nsa, and cia within the us to conduct illegal searches.
The following link list tracks illegal spying of both domestic police and the intelligence services within the us. Titles in red denote articles concerning congressional misconduct.
criminal domestic spying links
december 3, 2006 to the present
Corruption Updates 23, 9th article on the page, "TIMES SOFTPEDALS PRESIDENTIAL WAR CRIMES AND DOMESTIC CRIMES"
Corruption Updates 25, 8th article on the page, "FBI CHIEF DEFYS CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE ILLEGAL PROGRAM"
Corruption Updates 32, 3rd article on the page, "PRESIDENT TRIES END RUN AROUND CONSTITUTION: CLAIMS ACTIONS ARE SECRET, AND ABOVE THE LAW"
Corruption Updates 36, 5th article on the page, "White House Confirms Americans Have No Constitutional Protections"
Corruption Updates 41, 5th article on the page, "FBI Violations May Number 3,000, Official Says:HOW DO YOU SAY ILLEGAL SEARCH? “National Security Letter"
Corruption Updates 70, 5th article on the page,Democrats May Subpoena N.S.A. Documents(Comey testified to Congress about the hospital assault, Congress wanted legal justifications for program, and his side of the episode from Gonzales)
Corruption Updates 88, 6th article on the page,Bush Authorized Domestic Spying: Bush is a Criminal, and an Enemy of our Constitution
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 16 — As President Pervez Musharraf begins his campaign this week for re-election to another five-year term, senior figures in the governing party have warned that the Supreme Court will almost certainly block his nomination for president and declare it unconstitutional.
American efforts to prod General Musharraf into a power-sharing arrangement with the exiled opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, as a way for him to continue as president would run into the same difficulty, the politicians said.
The Supreme Court has a new-found independence since Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry fought off an attempt by General Musharraf this year to dismiss him and won reinstatement on July 20, the legislators said.
The chief justice has made clear his determination to uphold the Constitution and see an end to autocratic government, and he now represents the biggest obstacle for General Musharraf’s efforts to stay on as president.
“I think it is very difficult for him to get through the question of eligibility,” the minister of state for information technology and telecommunication, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, said in an interview this week. “I would wish that he get through, but there are too many ifs and buts.”
The unusually blunt comments in interviews from the general’s own supporters, including a former prime minister and the vice president of the governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League, are an indication of what they see as a strong shift against General Musharraf’s continued military rule.
Opposition parties have raised at least five objections to General Musharraf’s nomination as president, and since most of them touch on the Constitution, the objections will go to the Supreme Court for decisions, Mr. Khakwani said. Not least among them is the fact he is both the president and the army chief of staff, something the Constitution bars.
Among the thorniest of problems is whether General Musharraf, 64, who seized power in a coup in 1999 and then was made president by referendum in 2002, can be considered to have already served the maximum two consecutive terms in office.
Then there is the fact that even if General Musharraf resigned as the army’s chief, technically he should allow two years to lapse before running for elected office.
Finally, there is the question of the appropriateness of having the general elected for a new five-year term by the current National Assembly, which would be dissolved immediately after the election. That vote is to be held by an electoral college of the national and provincial parliaments between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15.
But so far the general has rejected that idea. He told party supporters on Thursday that he would run for re-election in uniform, Reuters reported.
General Musharraf, who came very close last week to imposing emergency rule but backed away after heavy media, political and diplomatic pressure, has continued to insist that his plans are in accordance with the Constitution.
Yet more and more of his political supporters say the Supreme Court is unlikely to reconcile his ambitions with the law, even if he agrees to a power-sharing deal with Ms. Bhutto.
Such a deal envisages her giving him support to change the Constitution to allow him to continue in power.
Richard A. Boucher, the United States assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, who was recently in Islamabad for two days of talks with the government, said General Musharraf had made a commitment to carrying out the transition from military rule to democracy, and to addressing the issue of his army post during that transition, but Mr. Boucher declined to say more.
The mood in the country, led by lawyers’ associations and the political opposition, may overtake any power-sharing deal between General Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto, legislators said.
“There will be a wider movement against the president,” Syed Kabir Ali Wasti, vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League, predicted.
The bar associations, which orchestrated a countrywide campaign in support of Chief Justice Chaudhry, would begin a new campaign against the president’s election in uniform when they returned from summer break on Sept. 1, he said.
“I expect a successful movement,” he said. “They are opinion writers and very important as far as public opinion is concerned.”
Mr. Pirzada agreed. “The government is in a difficult position because of the lawyers,” he said. “They are in a very tough mood. I think it will be a very difficult month for Pakistan.”
Will US broker a Musharraf-Bhutto alignment between Army and Secular Corruption?
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 25, 2007
Musharraf's position as the Army's "candidate" for the upcoming presidential contest received the backing
of the Army when they assualted the Red Mosque. The Army demonstrated they would use military force to back Musharraf.
Musharraf's legitimacy is nakedly based on army bayonetts and American dollars. Bush has responded to the collaspe of even the appearence of legitimacy in Pakistan's military dictatorship by encouraging Musharraf to cut political deals with the opposition he had banished to maintain military control of the government.
Bush's plan is to replicate General Zia's "rump" style civilian government, created in 1988. Zia's rump was supposed to put a civilian face on the Army's control of real power in Pakistan. Bush's plan will prove to be as unworkable as Zia's.
The problem is going to be that Neither Bhutto's People's Party, nor Shariff's Pakistan Muslim League are going to allow the military to maintain political control when they resume political participation in Pakistan. Bush's plan is leading to chaos, if not civil war, in Pakistan.
Bush has funded and armed Musharraf's dictatorship, and is continuing to do so. Bush is pressuring Musharraf to allow the appearance of democracy, while supporting his military dictatorship. Rather than withdrawing support for Musharraf, and dealing with the ensuing administration, Bush's plan is to create a political frankenstein, stitching together tyranny and democracy into a political abomonation which is doomed to destroy itself.
Here's how it will go down: Bhutto and Sharif will win the elections, forcing the Army to assert martial law, kill the prosters, and arrest the political opposition. The Army will reimpose a dictator, possibly forcing Musharraf out in the process.
The alternative scenario is just as grim. If Bush can force a deal between the Army and the parties, a Bhutto-Sharif government will be elected, and Musharraf will remain as president. Within six months the civilian government will be driven from office by the army. The army will assert martial law, kill the protesters, and arrest the political opposition.
Bush's support and accomodation of Pakistan's military dictatorship is a huge source of the political instability in Pakistan. Our only hope of having a stable long-term relationship with Pakistan is to demand the military step out of politics, and allow the people of Pakistan to run their own affairs. If we were a democracy, we would find and develop long term friendship with democratic players around the world. Instead, we align ourselves with dictators, kings, and petty tyrants.
Bush's plan bet all of our chips on Musharraf and the Pakistani Military, and that relationship has weakened both the US and Pakistan. Our participation in propping up Musharraf's dictatorship has destabilized Pakistan, and our continued support for Musharraf and military authority will only bring a bigger blowup when Pakistan finally rejects foreign supported military dictators.
Bush's new plan involves continuing the political ascendency of the Pakistani military, which will only continue and deepen Pakistani political instability. It's kind of funny that Bush is only reaching for democracy in desperation, to save his military dictatorship in Pakistan.
If America actually stood for democracy and freedom, we would not be facing any of the dangers we now face in the Middle-East. American greed and aggression is conditioning the middle east to reject American "democracy" as nothing more than a cover for imposing dictators, suppressing the cultural and political voice of Muslims, and controlling the region's vast energy resources.
The whole world is coming to the clear conclusion that America does not stand for democracy or freedom. This will not change until Americans come to the same conclusion, and get off our asses and do something about it.
Until then, our corporate fascist government will continue to rob us, and the world of its rights and resources.
American Dictator Removes Chief Justice in Pakistan
The article below was written on March 12, 2007 for CU 38_10
Bush's haste in dealing with Afghanistan drew him into a convenient alliance with Pakistan's military dictator, Musharraf. This was an ignorant alliance, morally and practically speaking.
From a moral perspective, Pakistan is a nation of contradictions. Pakistan's emergence out of colonialism has devolved, again, into a military dictatorship supported by the United States. It is morally unacceptable for our country to support dictators.
From a Practical perspective, the alliance with Musharraf is a sign of Bush's ignorance in conducting the Afghan war. Rather than putting the forces on the ground required to take and hold Afghanistan, a just war, Bush's attention was focused on the upcoming unjust, illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush gauranteed chaos and failure in Afghanistan by relying on corrupt war lords and a dictator as the tools for the Afghan conquest.
Backing Musharraf is risky. Musharraf bridges the unstable divide between Pakistan's colonial past, and its religious present. Musharraf bridges the divide between traditional tribal authority, and centralized, modern state power. Musharraf sits, carefully balanced, atop a cauldron of conflict and contradiction that is Pakistan. Our alliance could create sufficient resistance to topple him into the cauldron.
Forging yet another American military alliance with yet another military dictator is not the path to long-term regional stability.
Musharraf will do our bidding as far as it suits his interests, and no further. Using tools like Musharraf to fight America's wars is not the way to victory.
Our alliance with Musharraf will only bring further regional instability, more American deaths, and cost us any chance of leaving Afghanistan as victors.
Amnesty International said Friday it has urged Egypt's president to allow independent monitoring of a trial of 40 opposition movement members.
The organization said it sent a letter to President Hosni Mubarak with its demands after legal observers from Amnesty and other human rights groups were prevented from entering the court during two previous hearings.
The trial, which resumes Sunday, is part of a government crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, whose members hold almost 20 percent of the seats in the country's parliament and pose the most significant challenge to Mubarak's regime.
The 40 Brotherhood members, including some top leaders, are on trial in a military court on terrorism and money laundering charges.
Human rights groups in Egypt and abroad have repeatedly
condemned the country's policy of trying civilians before military courts, which usually issue swift and harsh verdicts.
Bush Courts Employed in Egypt
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 27, 2007
The military tribunal that is rail-roading Mubarak's political opposition operates under the same authority that Bush has claimed here: The ability to deprive citizens of the rule of law, and try and convict them in courts controlled exclusively by the Dictator.
We have condoned and supported our dictators in the middle east while they stomp on the basic civil and human rights of their own citizens.
What is especially disturbing is the silence of our corporate politicians and press has we act like Nazis around the world.
It is bitterly ironic, but just, that our President is claiming and using these same dictatorial powers in the US.
We have no chance to stop the crimes committed in our name until we break the chokehold of corporate corruption that has engulfed our elections. Until we actually restore democracy here, people around the world will continue to feel the lash of American Supported Dictators.
Updates 18, 7th article on page, “FOR
MODERATE DEMOCRACY EGYPTIANS BELIEVE DEMOCRACY IN EGYPT IS NOT A
REAL CONCERN” (of the United States)
Sends Sadat's Nephew to Prison for Defaming Military,” Corruption
Update 21, 3rd article on page, states that:
United States had at one time talked about Egypt as leading the way
toward democratic reform in the Middle East. But with the chaos in
the region, and the political uncertainty in Egypt, officials in
Egypt said the United States has dropped all pressure to make
democratic reforms.” Now compare that with our latest
rational for the Iraq war: “We Will Spread Democracy across
the Middle East.
Update 40, 6 th article on page, "Before
the vote" (MUBARAK
ABOUT TO IMPOSE BUSH RULES ON EGYPT The
Constitutional changes Mubarak is about to impose on Egypt are the
same powers Bush has claimed here)
Most Syrians favor working with the United States to seek an end to the Iraq war, yet also support financing Iraqi fighters and other Middle East groups the U.S. considers terrorists, according to a rare poll of Syrians released Wednesday.
The survey also found that an overwhelming number of Syrians consider trade and political relations with Western countries important, but they narrowly oppose closer ties to the U.S.
The poll was sponsored by Terror Free Tomorrow, a bipartisan organization that seeks to erode support for international terrorism.
Earlier this month, the group released a survey of Iranians that found most favored their country developing nuclear weapons.
In the poll, 63 percent of Syrians said they favor their country working with the U.S. to resolve the war in Iraq. By a slight 44 percent to 39 percent margin, most said they oppose fighters crossing from Syria into Iraq.
Yet three-fourths said they support financial assistance for Iraqi fighters, the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. The U.S. considers Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah terrorist organizations.
In addition, seven in 10 said Syria should refuse U.S. investments and trade "to create more jobs in Syria," with similar numbers opposing U.S. investments in energy refineries and U.S. humanitarian aid.
Fifty-one percent said they would favor a peace treaty with longtime nemesis Israel if it withdraws from the Golan and recognizes Syrian sovereignty there. Israelis strongly oppose leaving the Golan, the boundary area between the two countries that Israel annexed nearly three decades ago.
In addition, 88 percent said they favored Lebanon ruling itself without outside interference, including from Syria.
The telephone survey of 1,004 adult Syrians was conducted in Arabic for Terror Free Tomorrow by D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., from July 11 to 14. An estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of Syrian households have landline telephones.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Aug. 16 — Iran used the meeting of a regional security organization here on Thursday to lash out at American plans for a missile defense shield, while President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia took an indirect swipe at what he calls Washington’s unilateral foreign policy.
Speaking at the one-day annual summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said the planned defense system, to be based in Eastern Europe, was “a threat to more than one country,” asserting that it would affect “a large part of Asia and S.C.O. members.”
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, established six years ago, brings together Russia and China, as well as the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, under the banner of combating terrorism and fostering regional collaboration. Iran has observer status in the group.
This week the group is conducting joint military exercises in Chelyabinsk, Russia, involving more than 6,000 troops.
Beyond its security aspect, the organization has provided a forum for criticism of United States policies. At its 2005 meeting in Kazakhstan, members demanded that Washington provide a timetable for ending its military presence in Central Asia.
Without mentioning the United States directly, Mr. Putin called for a “multipolar” world order, in line with his frequent criticisms of what he considers the Bush administration’s unilateral foreign policies. “Any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally are hopeless,” he said.
A joint statement at the conference’s end said that “modern challenges and security threats can only be effectively countered through united efforts of the international community.”
Analysts say the group hopes to become a counterweight to Western influence in the energy-rich and increasingly strategic Central Asian countries.
What unites the group’s countries “are genuine common concerns about security, about border issues and about trade and energy,” said Michael Hall, a Central Asia expert formerly with the International Crisis Group in Bishkek. “There is a certain sense of wanting to let the U.S. know that they’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Russia and China are eager to secure Central Asia’s considerable energy reserves for their own use, and Russia wants to maintain pre-eminence in a region it has long considered within its traditional sphere of influence.
This week, officials at the China National Petroleum Corporation announced that China and Turkmenistan, the second-largest gas producer in the former Soviet Union, would form working groups to help supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually over 30 years.
Moscow has locked up long-term gas supply contracts with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in an effort to replenish its dwindling supplies, and it recently reached an agreement to pipe Turkmen gas through Russia.
The pipeline deal in particular was considered a commercial coup and a setback to the United States, which hopes to ship Turkmenistan’s gas across the Caspian Sea to European markets.
Russia-China and the rise of a New World Balance of Power
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 27, 2007
We have two big things rising before us: The end of the era of colonialism, and the rise of a new paradigm to replace colonialism.
Unfortunatly, the US is fighting the rejection of colonialism around the world. Our major vechicle to check post-colonialism is "Globalism," the new mantra of the US quest for global domination. Our method to apply "Globalism" is to support dictators.
Our methods and goals have been rejected by people of good will around the world. Rising discontent in South America and the Middle-East is demanding the formation of a new global alingment of nations, a new global balance of power to check the spread of the American Global Empire.
I fully expect a new strategic alingment to form between China and Russia to act as a political and military umbrella to protect 3rd world nations from the coming storm of American Globalism.
China and Russia have buried their previous disagreements over differences in their "commie" governments. They have settled their border disputes, and Russia is moving to become a big player in providing China with energy. Only one thing is saving our bacon in the Middle-East: Both China and Russia have serious problems with muslims.
I am positive Russia would love to help the Taliban shoot down our helicopters in Afhganastan, but they know any weaponry they supply to the Taliban would end up being used against them in Dagestan and Chechnya. Until the Russians settle their Muslim Problem, their hands are tied, and they will be unable to support Anit-American Insurgencies in Iraq and Afhganastan.
China has no such restrictions, despite their problems with Muslims in Western China. China has been dealing arms and technology into the middle-East for over a decade. Our attack on Iraq has put tremendous internal pressure on the Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, and Jordanian dictatorships to alter their relationship with the US to maintain their governments, and their heads.
Expect China and Russia to offer political and military cover for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan when they depart from the American Sphere of Influence, which they mave have to do when we recognize that we have lost Iraq.
Bush is currently arming all the sides within Iraq, and arming all the Sunni States in the region. This is preparing for both the partition of Iraq, which is looking like our exit strategy, and the civil war which will likely follow our partition of, and withdrawl from, Iraq.
The governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan will not survive an American-Sponsored Civil War in Iraq when it breaks out into a regional war between Israel and the United States against Iran. This will be the point where our dictators either flee, abandon the US, or lose their heads.
Bush's invasion, despite its terrible toll, has failed to slow the rise of post-colonialism in the Middle-East. Quite to the contrary, it has accelerated the forces of independence across the region.
Bush's invasion has significantly enhanced Iran's power and prestiege in the Middle-East, awarding it with a natural ally in a Saddam-free Iraq. At the same time Bush's Iraq invasion has rekindled the internicine hostility between Sunni and Shite, and laid the foundations for regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Bush did not understand the nature of hostility between the Sunni and Shite in Iraq, which blinded him to the obivious fact that the Shite Majority in Iraq are the natural allies of Iran, and would never accept another foreign-supported dictator. Bush's miscalculations doomed his invasion from the very beginning, and likewise his plans to install a dictator in Iraq. Although the material, monetary and strategic damage Bush has done to the US and Iraq are significant, the greatest damage to the US empire have not yet played out. Bush has changed how Muslims in the Middle-East percieve us, and hopefully, if we are honest, how we percieve ourselves.
Bush is as a flash of a strobe in pitch darkness: his administration reveals the complete structure of political corruption that has captured both parties, our elections, our press, and our government. Bush has shown that both parties are corporate tools. Bush has made it impossible for honest American's to deny that we have lost our democracy, and that our corporate rulers from both parties have taken up the mantle of Imperialism, under the banner of "Globalism." This is the only good thing Bush has done during the last seven years: Bush exposed the true nature of the politics of corruption that runs both parties, has stolen our government, and crushed our rights.
A majority of the people of the world now understand we are an empire, and are influencing their governments to resist our policies. This has undermined our dictators in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, and will continue to diminish their legiimacy in porportion to their dependence on the United States.
Good can only come out of this tragedy if it wakes Americans up to the whole system of corruption that made Bush, and Congress' Crimes possible, and provoke us to restore our democracy, drive these bribed tools of greed out of our government, and reaffirm the right of Americans, and every nation around the world, to determine their own government through free elections. We must turn the crimes of our government into the oppertunity to restore our Constitutional Democracy.
At least 1 million pounds of suspect Chinese seafood landed on American store shelves and dinner plates despite a Food and Drug Administration order that the shipments first be screened for banned drugs or chemicals, an Associated Press investigation found.
The frozen shrimp, catfish and eel arrived at U.S. ports under an "import alert," which meant the FDA was supposed to hold every shipment until it had passed a laboratory test.
But that was not what happened, according to an AP check of shipments since last fall. One of every four shipments the AP reviewed got through without being stopped and tested. The seafood, valued at $2.5 million, was equal to the amount 66,000 Americans eat in a year.
FDA officials stuck the pond-raised seafood on their watch list because of worries it contained suspected carcinogens or antibiotics not approved for seafood.
"The system is outdated and it doesn't work well. They pretend it does, but it doesn't," said Carl R. Nielsen, who oversaw import inspections at the agency until he left in 2005 to start a consulting firm. "You can't make the assumption that these would be isolated instances."
If the system cannot stop known risks, Nielsen said, how can it protect against hidden dangers, such as the ingredients from China that made toothpaste potentially poisonous and killed dozens of pets earlier this year?
China is America's biggest foreign source of seafood, the 1.06 billion pounds it supplied in 2006 accounting for 16 percent of all seafood Americans buy.
Normally, the FDA inspects just 1 percent of the cargo it oversees. When goods land under an import alert, however, they are considered guilty until proven innocent: All shipments are supposed to be held until private tests that cost importers thousands of dollars show the seafood is clean.
The agency has about 450 budgeted positions for screening approximately 20 million shipments annually of such things as fish, fruit and medical devices. At a congressional hearing last month, FDA employees doubted whether they have the resources to do the job.
Last summer, FDA labs began accumulating evidence that 15 percent of farm-raised shrimp,
eel and catfish contained dangerous or unapproved substances. The agency started throwing individual companies on its watch list, and ultimately issued a sweeping mandate that all shrimp, eel and catfish raised on Chinese farms be stopped and tested.
The AP reviewed 4,300 manifests of seafood shipments from China compiled by Piers Reports, a company that tracks import-export data, and found 211 shipments that arrived under import alert since last fall.
FDA Incompentent to Defend American Health and Safety: Americans eating Tainted Chinese Fish
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 17, 2007
Ban China Trade until Labor, Environment, and Safety Standards are Assured
Banning the China Trade for health and safety reasons would be almost impossible, as we have moved a lot of "our" manufacturing there. And it would by hypocritical, as we have gutted health, safety, and labor standard here.
That is exactly why it is critical that we ban the China trade. Banning the China Trade is the only way we are going to restore product safety and decent working conditions for workers here, and in China.
Presently, we have a government that is incapable of protecting us from any threats, domestic or foreign. Our government has been throughly bribed to encourage, create and protect the irresponsible and unsafe trade that enriches their corporate sponsors.
Our government, and the free trade policy of both parties, better represent the Industries that bribed them than the American people.
Our corporations, with the close assistance of our government, have enriched themselves by embracing China's authoritarian state, its abusive labor policies, and its massive abuses of the the environment.
Domestically, The FDA, EPA, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are in exactly the same condition as every other executive branch agency: Gutted and under funded. These agencies are run by industry hacks and lobbyists from the industries they are charged to oversee.
Industry has paid dearly to be irresponsible. Their bribes sit in virtually every politician's pocket, independent of their party affiliation, or regional origin. The result is that Industry has been deregulated, and the safety of our people has been comprimised by political corruption and bribery.
The products of industry, including the products of foreign industry, are only subject to volentary regulation which they enforce on themselves. This is much worse than having the wolf run the henhouse. This is the same as if the wolf bribed the farme hands to feed him the chickens. The farm hand is the government, and the chickens are us. The betrayed farmer is our Constitutional government. The result of having a government by bribery are policies like globalism and free trade, regulated by the wolves themselves.
The only way to stop our corporations profiting from screwing labor, the environment, and poisioning everybody that consumes anything, is to ban the China trade, and start from scratch. Craft new trade treaties that protect American manufacturing. Initiate trade only when every product made in China is made under verifiable conditons that protect labor, the environment, and the end users of the products.
These standards must be required of every country that does business with the US. If they do not meet reasonable standards for labor, environmental, and safety, cut them off. Period.
Yet is ridicilious to believe that our corporate government will do a damn thing. Before reasonable Health, Safety and Environmental standards could ever be estabished with our trading partners, we will have to establish and enforce them here.
That will not happen here until we the people take back our government from the corporate mafia that has bribed it into submission.
The biggest bribers are not satisfied with the government subsidized foreign laborers they use against us here, but have gone to China to enrich themselves with extra profits gleaned from escaping the few health, welfare, and environmental protections we have here. Their profits are based on killing, disabling, and screwing workers in China, and poisioning end-users here.
The extra profits earned from the China Trade come directly from screwing the environment, employing brutal labor standards, and avoiding every chemical health and safety regulation that common decency requires. I imagine a chunk of that money falls into the campaign coffers of our corporate politicians here, completing the cycle of corruption and death that sustains them.
Politically, our government and business communtiy seem to work well with China's government. They have no trouble ignoring the serious human rights abuses of the tyrannical government running China, while they mutually enrich themselves in that abusive country.
The buisness abuses here and in China eminate from the same source. Both governments have slipped out of the control of their people. Both governments mutually form policies that abuse the rights and steal the wealth of their citizens. In China's case the China trade must stop until China grants basic human and civil rights to its citizens. This would require they give up the power to arbitrairly arrests, torture, unfairly try, and swifty execute their citizens.
In our case, the US should be prohibited from engaging in any foreign trade until we also renounce arbitrairy arrest, illegal detentions, torture, and endless detention without judicial review. In addition, the US must be forced to renounce unilateral invasions, the first use of nuclear weapons, and interefering in the domestic affairs of other sovereign nations before being allowed to engage in foreign trade.
The reason our government gets along with China so well is because both governments are dedicated to the same goal, and use the same means to achieve that goal. The goal is to control the Wealth and Power of their respective nations. The means are monetary corruption, bribery, backed by violence.
Unfortunatly, our government and corporations have more affinity for China's government than American citizens.
Mattel Inc., the nation's largest toy maker, announced recalls of more than 9.5 million Chinese-made toys today, including popular Barbie, Polly Pocket and "Cars" movie items, over concerns about lead paint and magnets that can be harmful if swallowed.
The move follows a high-profile recall nearly two weeks ago, when the El Segundo-based company announced the recall of 1.5 million of its Fisher-Price infant and preschool toys, also made inChina, because of possible lead paint contamination.
Consumers can call Mattel at (888) 597-6597 for information about the recalled toys with magnets, or (800) 916-4997 for information about the recalled cars.
China Trade Untrustworthy: Massive Mattell Recall
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 27, 2007
See Article, Commentary and Links in preceeding entry, #6
A federal consumer protection agency has regained its full authority to oversee the safety of thousands of household products, but only for the next six months.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been unable to order mandatory recalls, adopt new rules or assess civil penalties since early this year because it has not had enough members to officially meet and take action.
An amendment to a homeland security bill allows the commission, which normally has three members, to meet and take action for the next six months with only two members present. President Bush signed the legislation Friday.
The agency has continued to work with businesses on voluntary recalls of products that might be harmful for consumers.
One commissioner, Thomas Moore, said the lack of commission members has hampered the agency. "Even our ability to negotiate with companies with respect to voluntary recalls has been compromised," he said.
On March 1, Bush appointed Michael Baroody to serve as the commission's chairman...Baroody withdrew from consideration in May after strong opposition from some Senate Democrats over his career as a manufacturers' lobbyist.
Neutered Agency Given temporary Balls
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007
Corruption Updates 93, 5th article on the page, Consumer Product Safety Commission Panel vacancy puts us at risk
Corruption Updates 58, 9 th article on the page,Agency nominee withdraws: Lobbyist for Consumer Protection
HONG KONG, Aug. 13 — Steeply rising food prices pushed inflation in China to 5.6 percent last month, the fastest pace in a decade, government figures showed Monday, prompting renewed concern about whether inflation would spread more widely in China and abroad.
The government has gradually pushed up interest rates and raised the percentage of assets that banks must keep as reserves with the central bank, but it has refrained from trying to shock the economy into a slower pace of growth through sharp interest rate increases or severe administrative controls.
Led by pork and other meats, consumer prices for food were up 15.4 percent from a year ago, pinching unskilled workers and other low-income city dwellers to the alarm of top Chinese officials.
Floods in southern China have hurt crops. Grain prices have been rising globally because more grain is being used for ethanol production and because increasingly affluent people in developing countries are buying more grain-fed livestock and poultry. Pigs in China have been dying in significant numbers from diseases, driving up pork prices.
China has avoided so far the inflationary bottlenecks that briefly threatened to overwhelm it in 2004, even as growth has accelerated to a considerably faster pace.
Some economists worry that broader inflation will still come to China. They point to a brisk expansion in the money supply last month, and suggest that soon too much money may be chasing too few goods, inevitably leading to broader rises in China’s consumer price index.
“In our view, inflationary pressures will remain high in the coming
months, and we see significant upside risks to our current C.P.I. forecasts,” Liang Hong, an economist in the Hong Kong offices of Goldman Sachs, wrote in a research note.