Wednesday, August 26, 2009


American Decency

[The following two articles give us a peek into the the heart of darkness. Even though the older article seems to indicate that Project X documents are no longer in circulation, the later article and contemporary American tactics around the world indicate that the rationality remains unchanged. America continues to have the personality of a psychopath. What's scary is not just that this country is a dangerous psychopath but that it aggressively exports its madness to all parts of the world.]

A newly declassified CIA report says interrogators threatened to kill family members of a man accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The report, written in 2004 and released Monday by the U.S. Justice Department, said CIA officers told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that if any other attacks happened in the United States, “we’re going to kill your children.”

The report also said Abd al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole warship bombing, was hooded and handcuffed and threatened with an unloaded gun and a power drill.

The unidentified interrogator also threatened Nashiri’s mother and family, implying that they would be sexually abused in front of him, according to the report.

Mohammed and al-Nashiri are currently being held by the U.S. at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.

In another case, CIA officers staged a mock execution — firing a gun in a room adjacent to an interrogation — in an apparent effort to convince a detainee that someone nearby had been killed, the report said.

Source - CBS News, 2009

Project X

Until the early 1980s, the U.S. military ran an intelligence training program in Latin America and elsewhere using manuals that taught foreign officers to offer bounties for captured or killed insurgents, spy on nonviolent political opponents, kidnap rebels' family members and blackmail unwanted informants, according to recently declassified Army and Defense Department documents.

The manuals, known as Project X, were written by U.S. Army experts starting in 1965 for use by the U.S.-funded Joint Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program. Portrayed by the Army as instructional materials to help friendly governments fight Cuban- and Soviet-inspired rebels in Latin America, the manuals were "in fact a guide for the conduct of clandestine operations" against domestic political adversaries including peaceful ones, according to a panel of Army experts that later reviewed some of the material.

The Pentagon disclosed last year that training manuals using Project X materials were distributed at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, now at Fort Benning, Ga., which trains Latin and Central American military officers. The new documents, released after petitions filed under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the original manuals were used much more widely, by U.S. military personnel working in a variety of foreign countries.

The foreign intelligence assistance program as a whole, of which Project X was a part, probably ended in the early 1980s, the new documents indicate. But some of the Project X manuals continued to be used off and on, both at the school and in Latin and Central America. Use of the manuals stopped in 1991, when the Defense Intelligence Agency raised legal and ethical questions and ordered the manuals taken out of circulation.

Army officials were unable to provide details about the intelligence assistance program, such as the date it ended or the countries where it operated. It's also impossible to tell how the use of the training manuals may have influenced the actions of foreign militaries.

The intelligence assistance program was first used in 1965 to train Vietnamese and other foreign nationals at the then-U.S. Army Pacific Intelligence School on Okinawa, Japan, and also operated in Iran in the late 1970s, according to the records.

The program's history is difficult to trace in part because Defense Department intelligence oversight officials, after seeing what the manuals contained in 1991, ordered that the original documentation be destroyed. The ostensible reason was so the materials could never be used again. A 1991 Defense Department memo said "computer disks, lesson plans and `Project X' documents" had to be destroyed because they were obsolete.

But Pentagon sources, who asked not to be named, said they suspect that the documents were destroyed to hide an embarrassing chapter in the military's conduct abroad.

It is illegal to destroy federal documents without the approval of the National Archives, which has opened an inquiry to find out if such approval was granted.

The new documents cast light on the U.S. military's Cold War role in instructing foreign governments in tough tactics in the battle against what was viewed as leftist subversion. Related but distinct controversies have arisen over the CIA's work in such matters.

By the mid-1970s, the intelligence assistance program was operating in nearly every Latin American country, said a retired Army colonel who managed the program for the U.S. Southern Command until the early 1970s.

"Latin American militaries had no role in the defense of their country {against foreign threats}. The only real role they had was internal defense," he said. "So how do you help them? You can't help them get big airplanes to shoot each other. You can't help them get big tanks. You can help them with information."

"The militaries we were training were right-wing, not liberals," the retired colonel said. "It sounds like Cold War hooha, but that's where it was at back then."

He denied the instructors taught the tactics detailed in its many training manuals. "It was rookie kind of stuff" that was taught, he said, adding that Latin American military officials often scoffed at how tame the material was.

Using documents obtained through the FOIA by The Washington Post, and separate materials gathered by Carlos Osario of the National Security Archive, a Washington-based nonprofit research group, it is possible to piece together the broad outlines of the intelligence assistance program that included Project X.

While few of the original Project X manuals exist, numerous Army and Defense Department documents indicate they were the basis for the material found in the later School of the Americas materials disclosed last year.

Bert Haggett, an Army security specialist in the counterintelligence and human intelligence division, said the Army agrees with a 1991 Defense Department intelligence oversight report that found that numerous examples of "objectionable" material from Project X were used in the school manuals.

"They were objectionable and we do not disagree with that," Haggett said. "It should not have been there. . . . That's one of the reasons we have an intelligence oversight office," he said. "Times were different."

The original manuals were written by experts at the U.S. Army Intelligence School, then located at Fort Holabird, Md., and approved for export by the Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence. They included lessons in creating "black, gray or white" lists of potential adversaries and in making block-by-block inventories of families and their assets to keep tabs on the population, the documents show.

A 1972 roster of Project X materials available for use included documents on aerial surveillance, electronic eavesdropping, interrogation, basic countersabotage measures, hiring and firing informants, lock picking, and censorship. The latter was described as "a general introduction to censorship to include reference to Armed Forces Censorship . . . and National Censorship."

Some of the material found later to be most offensive comes from manuals entitled, "Agent Handling" and "Counterintelligence." Summarizing those, Maj. Thomas Husband, assistant deputy director for counterintelligence support, wrote in 1991: "Document contained several passages which provided training regarding the use of sodiopentathol {truth serum} compound in interrogation, abduction of adversary family members to influence adversary, prioritization of adversary personalities for abduction, exile, physical beatings and execution."

A 1968 manual called "Employee Procurement and Utilization" said, "The intelligence operative must recognize the vulnerabilities in the organizational structure . . . of the insurgent underground. . . . A defector can protect himself by the elimination of all other members of his cell."

The Project X material suggested militaries infiltrate and suppress even democratic political dissident movements and hunt down opponents in every segment of society in the name of fighting Communism.

Military intelligence should infiltrate a wide array of groups, including political parties, labor unions, youth and student groups, religious organizations, and publishing organizations. "Mass organizations . . . villages from which crops are being diverted, and groups of underprivileged people are all potential insurgent targets," says the Employee Procurement manual.

One manual even cast suspicion on the electoral process. Insurgents "can resort to subversion of the government by means of elections. . . . Insurgent leaders participate in political contests as candidates for government office," it said.

The first Joint Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program project was launched on Okinawa in 1965 as the U.S. ground and air campaign in Vietnam took off.

"This school is in an excellent position to meet requests for intelligence training submitted by" military advisers and attaches in "the Pacific and Southeast Asia area," a 1965 informational brochure on the program states.

One counterintelligence official told Army officials in 1991 that she believed the program might be linked to the Phoenix program, a U.S. military and CIA undertaking that resulted in the assassinations of thousands of South Vietnamese suspected of disloyalty. Some of the Project X materials appeared to be the same as the Phoenix lessons, and the Army intelligence school was teaching a course on the Phoenix program at the same time that the Project X manuals were being written, she noted.

During the mid-1970s, after the intelligence school moved to Fort Huachuca, Ariz., the school "began exporting, on request, Project X material to MAAGs, MILGROUPS, defense attaches, and other U.S. military agencies participating in the U.S. advisory-training effort in friendly foreign countries," according to a short history of the program prepared in 1991.

Those acronyms refer to the various types of military advisory groups that existed as part of the U.S. government presence in foreign countries. In some countries, U.S. military personnel were located in the U.S. Embassy; in others they worked from offices in the country's defense ministry.

Sometimes lesson plans were sent to be used by U.S. military personnel already in the country. Other times, Army Intelligence Mobile Training Teams, small groups of military intelligence officers, were dispatched to do the training. Foreign officers were also allowed to take courses at U.S. intelligence schools here and abroad.

It is uncertain from the documents when the program ended. The 1991 memo by Maj. Husband said he believed the program was halted "by the Carter administration for fear the training would contribute to human rights violations in other countries."

But in 1980, President Jimmy Carter's last year in office, the annual review by the office of the assistant chief of staff for intelligence, then responsible for the program, noted that "major problems encountered {in the intelligence assistance program} were the revolution in Iran which degraded {the program} and other U.S. efforts; and further personnel reductions in attache and security assistance organizations."

Source - Washington Post, 1997

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Swiss Skum - It's Easier To Steal From The Poor

Swiss private bankers are turning to emerging markets and shunning American clients as the government’s agreement to hand over the details of 4,450 UBS AG accounts to U.S. authorities erodes bank secrecy.

Yesterday’s settlement in a lawsuit against UBS comes five months after Switzerland said it would renegotiate tax treaties to avoid being blacklisted as an uncooperative tax haven. Swiss banks hold $2 trillion for individuals overseas, or 27 percent of the globe’s offshore wealth, according to Boston Consulting Group and the Swiss Bankers Association.

“It shows Swiss banks can be put under pressure by foreign tax authorities,” said Teodoro Cocca, professor of wealth management at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. “Bringing new money to Switzerland will be considered risky.”

Some of Switzerland’s 300 banks are already shifting their focus to Asia, Russia and the Middle East, stressing their financial expertise and Switzerland’s reputation for stability and security. Julius Baer Holding AG, Lombard Odier & Cie. and Bank Sarasin & Cie. have opened offices from Moscow to Singapore and Mumbai in the past two years.

The decline of bank secrecy has been an issue for Swiss bankers since 2002, when the European Union asked for the automatic exchange of tax information, said Alfred Mettler, an adviser to the Swiss government on banking secrecy and a professor at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

“Bank secrecy will change and over time there will be less and less untaxed money in Switzerland, especially from the U.S.,” Mettler said. “But privacy will remain important, even with double-taxation agreements.”

‘Scheme to Defraud’

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service plans to target other financial institutions, law firms and entities that help Americans hide assets offshore, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

UBS admitted in February to participating “in a scheme to defraud the U.S.” The Zurich-based bank agreed to pay $780 million and disclose the names of more than 250 clients who allegedly hid assets from the IRS. A day later, the IRS sued UBS for information on as many as 52,000 clients, triggering the negotiations that led to yesterday’s settlement.

“Swiss bank secrecy that includes tax evasion is on its last legs,” said tax attorney Josh Ungerman of Meadows, Collier, Reed, Cousins & Blau LLP in Dallas. “The IRS made clear that U.S. clients at other Swiss banks are subject to U.S. requests for information if they engaged in the same type of tax evasion as UBS clients.”

Client Exodus

The litigation has already damaged UBS, adding to an exodus of clients hurt by the global financial crisis. UBS customers withdrew 156.3 billion francs ($146.8 billion) of assets over the past five quarters, dropping the bank into second place globally as a money manager for the rich.

“This agreement helps resolve one of UBS’s most pressing issues,” Chairman Kaspar Villiger said yesterday in a statement. “I am confident that the agreement will allow the bank to continue moving forward to rebuild its reputation through solid performance and client service.”

The Swiss tradition of bank secrecy dates to the 19th century. The first laws forbidding bankers from disclosing information were enacted in 1934, a year after Adolf Hitler passed legislation threatening to imprison Germans who didn’t declare money held abroad.

“This agreement doesn’t undermine Swiss bank secrecy,” said Michael Ambuehl, Switzerland’s chief negotiator on the UBS settlement. “I don’t think that there will be pressure on other Swiss banks on the basis of the UBS agreement. The agreement has been made specifically for the UBS case.”

Swiss Laws

The settlement complies with existing Swiss laws under which tax fraud, or actively misleading authorities, is a crime and tax evasion, or failing to declare assets, is not. It also gives clients the right to appeal to a Swiss court if UBS decides to turn over their names.

The government has said the new tax treaties it is negotiating will allow it to cooperate on both fraud and evasion cases if foreign authorities provide specific evidence of a violation.

The UBS agreement shows the limits of banking secrecy, said Martin Maurer, secretary general of the Zurich-based Association of Foreign Banks in Switzerland, which represents more than 140 institutions.

“If a bank undermines a foreign law, then you can’t expect the Swiss government to cover its wrongdoings in another country,” Maurer said.

American Accounts Closed

Increased scrutiny from U.S. regulators has led some Swiss banks to close investment accounts held by Americans.

UBS told U.S. clients in a March 27 letter that it planned to terminate their existing accounts within 45 days. Customers who wanted to continue banking with UBS were asked to transfer their assets into an entity registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a copy of the seven-page letter seen by Bloomberg News.

Geneva-based Mirabaud & Cie. is closing the “few remaining” accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, a company spokesman said in June.

HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss private bank and Credit Suisse Group AG have also asked clients for permission to release their details to financial regulators in other countries that demand investor disclosure.

The Swiss unit of HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, in September asked clients to surrender their right to secrecy if they wanted to hold securities in 28 markets. The bank said it “strongly recommends” that independent money managers renounce banking secrecy for clients who want to invest in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Russia, Singapore and seven other markets.

Ringfencing Americans

“The big banks will probably ringfence American clients and concentrate on developing emerging markets, such as India and China,” said Matthew Ledvina, an international tax lawyer in Zurich. “It’s hard to beat countries like Switzerland for political risk.”

Some Swiss banks are also opening branches in new European markets to serve clients in their home countries, instead of in Switzerland.

Julius Baer opened offices in Istanbul, Moscow and Milan in the past two years. Lombard Odier, Geneva’s oldest private bank, has expanded in Prague and Singapore, and Bank Sarasin opened branches in Mumbai, Warsaw and Frankfurt.

Pictet & Cie., Switzerland’s biggest closely held private bank, is expanding its Frankfurt-based staff to attract more onshore money from German clients.

“Switzerland has to promote its political stability, the skills of its employees and its low-tax environment,” said Cedric Tille, a professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “If all we have to offer is the ability to hide from the tax man, then we are in trouble because that would be building a financial model on sand.”

Source - Bloomberg

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Washington, DC - On A High

The largest study of banknotes has found that 95% of dollar bills in Washington DC bear traces of the illegal drug cocaine.

The figure for the US capital is up 20% over two years.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth tested notes from more than 30 cities worldwide.

They say the rise observed in the US may be due to increased drug use caused by higher stress levels linked to the global economic downturn.

Bank notes can pick up traces of cocaine directly from users snorting it through rolled up bills or when cash is stacked together.

Stress factor?

Besides Washington, other big US cities such as Baltimore, Boston and Detroit had the highest average cocaine levels on their dollar bills.

Dr Yuegang Zuo, who led the research, said: "To my surprise, we're finding more and more cocaine in banknotes.

"I'm not sure why we've seen this apparent increase, but it could be related to the economic downturn, with stressed people turning to cocaine."

Other countries where notes were tested were Canada, Brazil, China and Japan.

China had the lowest rates, with only 12% of its bills contaminated.

In the US the cleanest bills were collected from Salt Lake City, home of the religious group, the Mormons.

Source - BBC

Monday, August 17, 2009


Film Reviews - Some Contemporary Mexican Cinema

1. More Than Anything In The World

Directed By - Andres Leon Becker & Javier Solar (2006)

The relationship between the beautiful Emilia and her imaginative young daughter, Alicia, is tested in this understated Mexican drama. Disoriented after moving to a new apartment and left to herself when her mother starts bringing men home, Alicia takes refuge in dreams that soon become nightmares, especially once she begins to suspect that her mother has become possessed by the man she believes to be a vampire next door. A keen look at the pace and tribulations of contemporary Mexican family life, this film sheds light on the secret world of lonely children while never straying from its true focus: the unusual love between a single mother and her only child.

2. Tropic Of Cancer

Directed By - Eugenio Polgovsky (2004)

An impressive, almost silent account of the way in which several families survive in Mexico's San Luis Potosi desert, located at the Tropic of Cancer. Living in prehistoric conditions, under the scorching sun, they use homemade traps and weapons to catch birds, rodents, tortoises and poisonous snakes. Their main concern is avoiding starvation. They eat what they catch and sell their products to passing motorists on Highway 57, the most important trade route in Mexico.

3. Island Being

Directed By - Eun Hee Ihm (2007)

In South Korea, one of the world's most modern and powerful industrial economies, some unimaginable outrages of the past still persist. One of them is the island of Sorokdo, where Korean lepers have been interned since the time of Japanese occupation. What was once a genuine concentration camp - with experiments performed on human beings - still serves as a place of segregation where society and families cast off their sick. Using a suggestive soundtrack, images of terrible beauty and an uncompromising but fair-handed approach to its subjects, the director delivers a remarkable piece: a visual and almost tactile journey, a deeply moving reflection on the value of human life.

4. News From Afar

Directed By - Ricardo Benet (2004)

Martin sets out from his village, with the aim of arriving in Mexico City and save his family from their predetermined existence. The film is a raw, true-to-life, disturbing journey about people in a tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere and their struggle to escape marginality.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hedge Hog

The Fog Of Numbers

There's something happenin' here
What it is ain't exactly clear....
-- Buffalo Springfield

One of main reasons behind the vast confusion now reigning in the USA, our failure to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to us (or what to do about it), is our foolish obsession with econometrics -- viewing the world solely through the "lens" of mathematical models. We think that just because we can measure things in numbers, we can make sense of them.

For decades we measured the health of our economy (and therefore of our society) by the number of "housing starts" recorded month-to-month. For decades, this translated into the number of suburban tract houses being built in the asteroid belts of our towns and cities. When housing starts were up, the simple-minded declared that things were good; when down, bad. What this view failed to consider was that all these suburban houses added up to a living arrangement with no future. That's what we were so busy actually doing. Which is why I refer to this monumentally unwise investment as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

Even this interpretation -- severe as it is -- does not encompass the sheer damage done by the act itself, on-the-ground and to our social and cultural relations. Suburbia destroyed the magnificent American landscape as effectively as it destroyed the social development of children, the worth of public space, the quality of civic life, and each person's ability to really care about the place they called home.

It's especially ironic that given our preoccupation with numbers, we have arrived at the point where numbers just can't be comprehended anymore. This week, outstanding world derivatives were declared to have reached the 1 quadrillion mark. Commentators lately -- e.g. NPR's "Planet Money" broadcast -- have struggled to explain to listeners exactly what a trillion is in images such as the number of dollar bills stacked up to the planet Venus or the number of seconds that add up to three ice ages plus two warmings. A quadrillion is just off the charts, out of this world, not really subject to reality-based interpretation. You might as well say "infinity." We have flown up our own collective numeric bung-hole.

The number problems we face are now hopeless. America will never be able to cover its current outstanding debt. We're effectively finished at all three levels: household, corporate, and government. Who, for instance, can really comprehend what to do about the number problems infesting Fannie Mae and the mortgages associated with her? There's really only one way out of this predicament: to get ready for a much lower standard of living and much different daily living arrangements. We can't wrap our minds around this, so the exercise du jour is to play games with numbers to persuade ourselves that we don't have to face reality. We're entertaining ourselves with shell games, musical chairs, Chinese fire drills, Ponzi schemes, and Polish blanket tricks (where, to make your blanket longer, you cut twelve inches off the top and sew it onto the bottom).

Now that Newsweek Magazine -- along with the mendacious cretins at CNBC -- have declared the "recession" officially over, it's a sure thing that we are entering the zone of greatest danger. Some foul odor rides the late summer wind, as of a rough beast slouching toward the US Treasury. The stock markets have gathered in the critical mass of suckers needed to flush all remaining hope out of the system. The foreign holders of US promissory notes are sharpening their long knives in the humid darkness. The suburban householders are watching sharks swim in their driveways. The REIT executives are getting ready to gargle with Gillette blue blades. The Goldman Sachs bonus babies are trying to imagine the good life in Paraguay or the archepelego of Tristan da Cunha.

While extremely allergic to paranoid memes and conspiracy theories, I begin to wonder about the impressive volume of World Wide Web chatter about an upcoming bank holiday -- meaning that the US government might find itself constrained to shut down the banking system for a period of time to deal with a rapidly developing emergency that might prompt the public to make a run on reserves. God knows, there are enough black swans crowding the skies these days to blot out the sun. I hesitate to suggest that readers who are able to should consider stealthily withdrawing a month's worth of walking-around money from their accounts.

The week past, some so-called "conservative" political action groups (read: brownshirts pimped by corporate medical interests) trumped up a few incidents of civil unrest at "town meetings" around the country, ostensibly to counter health care reform ideas. The people behind these capers may be playing with dynamite. It's one thing to yell at a congressman over "single payer" abstractions. It'll be another thing when the dispossessed and repossessed Palin worshippers, Nascar morons, and Jesus Jokers haul the ordnance out of their closets and start tossing Molotov cocktails into the First National Bank of Chiggerville.

Source - James Howard Kunstler

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Natural Detox Is Not Disease

People who understand body cleansing, understand what detoxification symptoms are. Medical professionals understand the symptoms that make up what we call disease. But the odd thing is that most detoxification symptoms are also the symptoms used to detect a disease.

If you think about that for a minute, what does it really tell you? The truth is: When we have a problem in the body, the body tries to detoxify itself to remove the problem. That is why we experience detoxification symptoms in the presence of a problem. Yet, your doctor will often call the presence of these symptoms the problem, without understanding what the body is trying to do about the problem.

It's true: Detoxification symptoms often look like what we call disease.

They can take the form of fevers (toxins trying to leave through the skin), headaches (too many toxins in the bloodstream), acne (toxins trying to make it out through the skin), tiredness (toxins in the blood), sneezing (toxins trying to make their way out through your nose at 95 miles per hour), coughing (toxins trying to get out of our lungs), vomiting (toxins leaving the body through the stomach), diarrhea (toxins exiting the body in mass through the bowel), rashes (toxins attempting to leave through the skin)... The list really goes on and on.

When we see these symptoms most people think that they are sick, even though it is by removing these toxins that our bodies are trying to make us well. In fact, most all of the swine flu symptoms are actually detoxification symptoms. If you start looking at many disease symptoms through this new lens, you'll be amazed at what you find.

When you understand this, the obvious answer to disease is really to detoxify the body and help the body along with its natural disease elimination methods.

But, because most of the population doesn't currently understand what detoxification symptoms are, when the detoxification symptoms occur, much of the population heads to a drug-oriented doctor, who also doesn't understand detoxification symptoms. The doctor confirms that they are sick, and then puts them on some sort of drug that is designed to stop the symptoms.

But, what those drugs really do is stop the detoxification process and bury the toxicity (the original problem) in the body, where it will often creep back up later. When it creeps back up, it will be seen as another and often more serious problem.

So, with drug therapies, you may feel better initially because you've stopped the detoxification process, but you'll feel worse later. Actually, you'll likely become the target of more serious diseases, without understanding how you and your doctors played a role in the process.

Source - Natural News

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Blackwater Prince

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as "John Doe #2," is a former member of Blackwater's management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has "learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances." Identified as "John Doe #1," he says he "joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel." It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is "scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq." Like Doe #2, he states that he fears "violence" against him for "submitting this Declaration." No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

"Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds," states Doe #2. "On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed."

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

"It's a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters," John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney's office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. "It would be a crime if we did that." Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: "We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual."

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, "Unfortunately no one can help you in that area." The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation's request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement "in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice." Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe":

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department," according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News's Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a "federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food." Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

Doe #2 also says Prince "repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men." He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson "hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field," saying they "knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money."

Doe #1 states that "Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians." He concludes, "Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct." Doe #1 states that he "personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force." He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or "seriously" wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that "all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded," but that "Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a 'hot wash.' Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred." Blackwater, he says, "did not provide the video to the State Department."

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince "made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis." Specifically, he alleges that Prince "obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis."

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, "Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes."

"For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes." He added: "Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will."

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, "If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians." Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

"Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn't exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated," Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.

Source - The Nation

Sunday, August 02, 2009



A cup of hot cocoa may not do much to cool you down from the summer swelter, but it may cool down your blood pressure. According to a new report filed in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, hypertensive rats fed a moderate dose of powdered chocolate dropped their systolic blood pressure rates by an average of 50 mmHg after a single dose. The cocoa content was 70 percent.

The study`s specimens were mice, some with normal blood pressure, others with high blood pressure. The rats were grouped in a fashion so that rats with normal blood pressure and high blood pressure received one of a range of cocoa doses (as low as 50 milligrams to as much as 600 milligrams of cocoa powder).

While the researchers did not observe any noticeable differences in blood pressure readings among the rats with normal blood pressure, the hypertensive rats that received 300 milligrams of cocoa powder had a systolic blood pressure reading that dropped 60 mmHg four hours after the dose.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, lead researcher Dr. Amaiya Aleixandre said, "The results obtained suggest that [hot cocoa] could be used as a functional food ingredient with potential therapeutic benefit in the treatment and prevention of hypertension." Dr. Aleixandre and her colleagues hail from Spain`s Universidad Complutense in Madrid.

While all chocolate contains flavonoids - the active ingredient in chocolate that helps lower blood pressure, among other healthful functions - the chocolate tested in this study is not like the kinds traditionally found on supermarket shelves. Unlike those, the cocoa tested in this study was dark chocolate, which has a much higher flavonoid yield than milk chocolate (the chocolate used had approximately 139 milligrams of flavonoids per gram of cocoa powder).

Contrary to popular belief, the average cup of hot cocoa contains more flavonoids than other highly concentrated antioxidant drinks, like red wine and green tea. Experts suggest the average person should get about 6.7 grams of chocolate in their diet per day, which amounts to about the size of a fun-size candy bar. Any more than that and the negatives begin to outweigh the positives.

But again, all cocoas and chocolates are not built the same. There`s a world of difference between raw cocoa and processed cocoa, the kind typically found in most candy bars and hot cocoa mixes.

For the most health benefit, look for all-natural sources of cocoa. Pay special attention to a product`s ingredients, specifically the percentage of pure cocoa powder used. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better it is, and the higher it is in overall flavonoid content. Further, make sure that the cocoa is unprocessed. Any truly natural cocoa product should mention that in their ingredients.

Source - Natural News