Sunday, November 28, 2010

"The underwear bomber incident is, in some ways, 9/11 writ small. A credibly identified terrorist is allowed to board U.S. commercial airliner with little scrutiny. There is a tragic outcome." [The tragedy being U.S. fliers now saddled with scanners and gropers]

Scanners - The Prequel

Michael Collins

How did we get to the point of full body scans at airports, the massive personal intrusion that represents, and the tens of millions spent for machines that irradiate us as a consequence of merely flying from here to there?

The proximate cause is the attempted bombing of a December 25, 2009 Northwest airlines flight. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an engineering student, attempted to mix, then detonate a bomb as Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam made its descent to Detroit's Metropolitan Airport. Mr. Abdulmutallab somehow got on the flight with the chemicals undetected, hidden in his underwear. (Image)

There was furor followed by calls for tighter airport security. Specifically, Michael Chertoff, former Bush Homeland Security chief, claimed full body scanners were the solution. One thing led to another and here we are today. Full body scanners are in 68 airports and planned for 1,000 across the United States by the end of 2011. Those who refuse the full body scans will be subject to "pat-downs, which include searches of passengers' genital areas." .

The Missing Link

Right after the Christmas 2009 bombing attempt, two United States citizens, frequent world travelers, spoke up about what they'd both witnessed prior to the flight departing from Amsterdam's Schipohl International Airport. Kurt Haskell and his wife Lori, attorneys from Taylor, Michigan, were sitting near the ticket counter waiting to board Flight 253. They saw two men approached the counter and speak with the agent on duty. One of the men was later identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who would later haplessly try to blow up the Northwest flight. The other was a well dressed man in his 50s (the sharp dressed man) who they took to be an Indian national.
"While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit," Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. "The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'"

Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee.

The ticket agent referred Mutallab and his companion to her manager down the hall, and Haskell didn't see Mutallab again until after he allegedly tried to detonate an explosive on the plane. Dec 26, 2009
The Haskell's told their story to U.S. agents investigating the bombing attempt while they and other passengers were held at the Detroit airport. Shortly after being released from the airport, Kurt Haskell posted a comment on a news thread. This was the first of a number of media encounters where the story was told consistently.

A summary article in Wikipedia provides the narrative of the official response to the Haskell's story. "The Dutch counter terror agency" reviewed 200 hours of airport security tapes and announced their conclusion that Abdulmutallab had no "accomplices," effectively questioning the accuracy of the Haskells' report. Kurt Haskell then challenged authorities to release the 200 hours of tape: "Put the video out there to prove I'm wrong." Failing to take up that challenge, federal law enforcement officials in the U.S. leaked the following:
Federal agents also tell ABC they are attempting to identify a man who passengers said helped Abdulmutallab change planes for Detroit when he landed in Amsterdam from Lagos, Nigeria.

Authorities had initially discounted the passenger accounts, but the agents say there is a growing belief the man have played a role to make sure Abdulmutallab "did not get cold feet." Brian Ross, ABC News, Jan. 2
In summary, security officials discounted the Haskells' report by claiming that the video tape at Schipohl showed no one assisting Abdulmutallab at the ticket counter or anywhere else. The Haskells responded by saying, Show us the tape. At that point, "Federal agents" spoke to ABC's Brian Ross and said, Well, maybe there was a sharp dressed man and here's what he did.

This rejoinder by "Federal agents" is an endorsement of the reasonableness of the account by Kurt and Lori Haskell and, by implication, an admission that their account is correct.

Would Scanners Have Stopped Abdulmutallab?

We know that federal law enforcement quietly allowed the Haskell's story to stand through the statement to Brian Ross. Since key elements of the story have not been formally investigated, we don't know if Abdulmutallab went through normal check-in or if, as witnessed and indicated, he somehow bypassed normal security requirements. We don't know who the sharp dressed man is. We don't know the full extent of the system breakdown that allowed all of this to happen.

We do know that the bomber's father, Umaru Mutellab, one Africa's wealthiest individuals, told U.S. intelligence authorities that his son was a terrorist a month before the bombing. We also know that Abdulmutallab's name was placed in a terrorism database a month before the Christmas flight. However, his name was not transferred from that database to a watch list of 14,000 essentially nominated for the no-fly database, nor was the name transferred to the 4,000 member official no-fly list.

In the furor over the event, a clear voice emerged with a solution to future problems like that presented by the underwear bomber. Michael Chertoff, long time Bush national security official offered these unqualified assertions on December 27 in the Washington Post and December 28 in the New York Times:
"This plot is an example of something we've known could exist in theory, and in order to be able to detect it, you've got to find some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren't easy to get at," Chertoff said. "It's either pat-downs or imaging, or otherwise hoping that bad guys haven't figured it out, and I guess bad guys have figured it out." Washington Post, Dec 27

"In recent days, Kip Hawley, the former T.S.A. director, and Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary, have called for the rapid installation of a new generation of whole-body scanners that can look underneath clothing to search for hidden weapons or explosives, which officials consider the single most significant aviation threat today..." New York Times, Dec. 28, 2009
From that point forward, the focus on preventing future terror threats to air travel focused on full body scanners. On January 15, 2010, the New York Times appended the December 28,, 2009 article with this statement:
"Articles on Dec. 28, 29 and 30, about the apparent bombing attempt on a flight to Detroit, discussed the use of full-body scanners for airport security. They cited Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of homeland security, as supporting wider use of the scanners. Mr. Chertoff has confirmed in several recent interviews that a manufacturer of the devices is a client of his consulting company. That connection should have been noted in the articles." Editors Note, January 15
Chertoff was caught red handed shilling for full body scanners in behalf of a company that was a client of Chertoff's consulting company. He was busted in public by the New York Times editor.

What was the outcome? Chertoff's original, self-interested assertion prevailed. We have full body scans headed for 1,000 airports and, for those who don't want the radiation, the national security grope, invasive searches of the passenger's genital area.

Never mind the first hand eye witness accounts by Kurt and Lori Haskell. Never mind the report by one of the most prominent public figures in Nigeria, the bombers father, that his son was a terrorist and the lack of decisive action on that tip off. Never mind the never released 200 hours of Dutch security footage that could have proven without a doubt the existence of a facilitator, the sharp dressed man who accompanies the bomber.

All of this reveals a systemic defect in anti-terrorism activities, one that, if corrected, could have more efficiently and effectively prevented future terror threats everywhere by logical changes in policies and practices. Instead of decisive action on this clearly documented problem, we now have full body scanners proposed by a Bush era security official with a clear conflict of interest.

Perpetual 9/11

The underwear bomber incident is, in some ways, 9/11 writ small. A credibly identified terrorist is allowed to board U.S. commercial airliner with little scrutiny. There is a tragic outcome. Clear breakdowns in security are exposed, breakdowns that make no real sense to citizens - failure to put Abdulmutallab on the no-fly list, for example. Congress and others fail to truly examine any of this, while the public is whipped into a fury. Instead of a real solution, a serious, unflinching investigation into who was responsible and why crazy policies are in place that appear to coddle identified threats, we end up with a solution that makes little, if any sense - full body scanners.

Full body scanners share a common trait with the misdirected solutions to avoid a future 9/11 - the Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping, suspension of habeas corpus, torture, etc. The scanners represent a major intrusion into our lives, a violation of our rights, a likely health hazard, and a major diversion from the real issue at hand - incompetence and/or deception in the handling of identified threats to the nation, individuals who somehow bypass the very security protections put in place to stop their attacks.

Also see:
“Conspiracy or cock up?” White House reaction to ersatz bomber Michael Collins, Jan 8
"The Big Con" - Taliban About to Defeat Pakistan, Take Control of Nukes, and It's Another 9/11 Michael Collins, May 11, 2009
This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Must-Watch Democracy Now! Segments: CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter Apologizes to Michael Moore for PR Smear Campaign ...and Joe Nocera on The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis

I. The Fear of Sicko: CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter Apologizes to Michael Moore for PR Smear Campaign; Moore Says Industry Was Afraid Film Would Cause A 'Tipping Point' for Healthcare Reform

Democracy Now! hosts a joint interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore and Wendell Potter, who was the head of corporate communications for the health insurance giant CIGNA when Moore’s film, Sicko, was released in 2007. Potter left the company in 2008 and has since become the industry’s most prominent whistleblower. In the interview, Potter apologizes for his role in the industry’s attack on Moore and the film. [includes rush transcript]
Blogger's Note: Unlike the sound bites you hear on U.S. TV newscasts, these three segments evolve slowly as the interviewees carefully choose their words to accurately recount the facts well as their feelings about these facts. Bear with them. It's worth your time.

Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans
Wendell Potter (Author)
Michael Moore (Actor), Tucker Albrizzi (Actor), Michael Moore (Director)

II. Joe Nocera on "All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis"

As federal agents raid the offices of three major hedge funds amidst news of a sweeping probe of insider trading at Wall Street firms, we speak with New York Times business columnist, Joe Nocera, about his new book, All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis. The book describes how most of the underlying structures and key players behind the financial crisis have emerged relatively unscathed. [includes rush transcript]

All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
Bethany McLean (Author), Joe Nocera (Author)

Blogger's Note: At the opening of this interview, Amy Goodman states that "Federal agents have raided the offices of three major hedge funds amidst news of a sweeping probe of insider trading at Wall Street firms. ... Collectively, the three firms manage nearly $10 billion in assets."
One might hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg, since convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernie Madoff managed about $65 billion and lost and estimated $18 billon of his investor's money.

Actually, it seems to me that a far bigger Wall Street fraud was exposed by Joe Nocera in a New York Times article entitled "Markets Quake, and a ‘Neutral’ Strategy Slips" on August 18, 2007. But if Joe recognized what really happend then, he hasn't spelled it out even in his new book.

I beleive that I've figured it out. The essence of this Nocera column had to do with the so-called quant (short for quantitative) funds based on computer programs developed by physicists who are particularly good at analyzing complex systems by means of mathematical algorithms. By means of these computer algorithms AQR Capital Management's flagship hedge fund had been up over the previous seven years on average, 13.7% a year, out performing the S&P which gained only 2.9% during that time. Then in a single week (August 6-10, 2007) this quant fund LOST 13% ...and all other quant funds had similar losses.

"And then," Nocera wrote on August 18th, "in the blink of an eye, it turned around, at least for the moment. As of today [the AQR quant] fund had gained back half of what it lost in the previous two weeks..."

Nocera posed some big questions: "What really happened during the Great Quant Meltdown of early August? More to the point, should it scare us or reassure us?"

I decided that even more important was the question: Why did everything turn around “in the blink of an eye”?

And it wasn't hard to answer it. Physicists and IT experts using computers have an expression, "Garbage in equals garbage out."

Normally the "garbage" is the data, but it this particular situation the data are rightly assumed to be correct. Therefore, the algorithm that was totally correct for seven years running must have transmogrified into total garbage by August 10, 2007. And the reason everything was cool again with the quant funds by August 18, 2007, was that the physicists had revised the algorithm to take into account the new trend in the data. Duh!

Because I had been graphing both the market indices and commodities stocks at the time, the algorithm fix immediately became clear to me: Up to August 10, 2007, when the stock market weakened, investors had intuitively switched their money into commodities. Just common sense.

And by August 18, 2007, the quant physicists had figured out why common sense is now out the window: Now when the major market indices begin to slide, their new algorithm (counter intuatively) sells a five-times larger bundle of commodities than the baskets of S&P, Dow-Jones, and NASDAQ stocks others are dumping and uses the cash from the commodity sales to prop up the New York markets.  And the new algorithm reverses this process once these major exchanges show renewed signs of life due to duped investors reentering these markets.  My evidence for this conclusion can be downloaded here.

What led to this paradigm change? Obviously, it was the sudden inception of full manipulation of the stock markets by the U.S. government and/or Wall Street criminals. The object is to keep the Wall Street indexes from crashing (as they must) until some future time when 'The Powers That Be' are fully poised to profit from the market-crashing event they are cooking up.

So this part of the "hidden history" is still hidden from us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Project for the New American Century

War Is a Lie

David Swanson: All wars require lies

More at The Real News

Project For The New American Century

David Swanson: PNAC calls for the assertion of American military might around the globe

More at The Real News

War Is a Lie, by David Swanson
November 23, 2010
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Current Events > War & Peace
#3 in Books > History > Military > World War II
#3 in Books > Nonfiction > Government > Public Policy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fair and Balanced Questions: What is truly going on in America, "voter fraud" by individual Democratic voters ...or systematic rigging of elections by hacking election computers? And supposing that the election computers ARE being hacked. Who is doing that, George Soros or Karl Rove?

As a start toward getting the truth, let's watch Jon Stewart's recent summation of Glenn Beck's amusingly illustrated case against Soros:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
George Soros Plans to Overthrow America
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

In the clip you just watched you repeatedly hear "voter fraud" mentioned on Fox News -- enough times to make anyone suspect that myriad Democratic voters commiting "voter fraud" are the reason why the Republicans didn't sweep both houses of congress last November 2nd.  Karl Rove's role in hacking election computers goes totally unmentioned.

Is this because Rove innocent? Well, watch this Keith Olbermann clip from a couple years ago:

O.K., so that was a couple years ago. Maybe the case against Rove has long since dried up?

Um, well, this account is pretty damned current:
John Michael Spinelli
Columbus Government Examiner

CBS, CNN capture video of Ohio attorney subpoena served on Karl Rove
October 27th, 2010 3:43 pm ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) - A federal subpoena, issued by Ohio attorney Cliff Arnebeck and sanctioned by the Office of Ohio Secretary of State, was served last Sunday in Washington to Karl Rove on his way to an appearance on the CBS news program Face the Nation.

CNN, CBS capture video of subpoena servicing to Karl Rove

The process service for the subpoena reported that CBS and CNN camera men "captured video" of the event.

In an article written by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman and published at, the federal subpoena orders Rove to testify in deposition about his role in the alleged theft of the 2004 election, and to discuss his orchestration of tens of millions of corporate/billionaire dollars in this year's General Elections on November 2.
For the rest of the article above, go here:

It's not surprising that Glenn Beck missed this detail, because it certainly doesn't fit very well into his story.

But why didn't Olbermann pick up on it?

Oops, how obvious! Olbermann has recently been shown that he can be fired for the most trivial of "missteps" ...and any mention on the air of electronic election rigging in the USA by REPUBLICANS would surely be a "capital offense."

The "mainstream media" that most Americans watch is mostly owned by Rupert Murdoch, not George Soros.

Perhaps many of my readers have difficulty in believing that wholesale election rigging can be taking place in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." That would be thoroughly un-American. Surely something that would have been detected and decried by the House Un-American Activities Committee...

Seriously though, U.S. voting machines and central tabulators are decidedly vulnerable to hacking by insiders.

But how do we know that and why should we believe such an un-American activity is being carried out in America? Well, even Jon Stewart has figured this out:

But neither Jon Stewart nor Glenn Beck are computer experts. So let's hear from some true experts:

Perhaps you Fox News watchers are a bit suspicious that all those experts may have been "poor loser" Democrats. If so, then hear it from REPUBLICAN information-technology expert Stephen Spoonamore:

So, now maybe you are convinced that the means for wholesale election theft are soundly established, but is there any strong evidence of wholesale rigging of U.S. elections has actually taken place?

Yes, indeed there is!   For example, I highly recommend that you read "Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?" by Steven F. Freeman & Joel Bleifuss. But if that is too much bother and/or you want to know about more recent elections than 2004, go here:

That leaves only the question of what George Soros has been up to recently.

Just what is Soros' role in U.S. politics? Is he really plotting the overthrow of the entire country like Glenn Beck says? Well, an article in today's Los Angeles Times spells out Soros' stated opinion on Obama's first two years in office.

The last three paragraphs of this LA Times article read like this:
Soros, who did not participate in the 2010 election ... [says] Obama needs to push back more against the right, particularly around the issue of tax cuts.

"I admire the president for his attempt to rise above partisan party politics," he said in a statement he sent to the Tribune Washington Bureau. "His policies have made the recession he inherited shorter and shallower than it would otherwise have been. But after two years of complete noncooperation and vicious distortion, the time for compromise has ended."

"Extending the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% will not create jobs, but it will preclude further job-creating fiscal measures, including support to states," he said. (blogger emphasis added)
Um, that doesn't sound much like a plot to take over the country to me.

Rather, it sounds a lot more like a plot for We The People to rein in the looting of our country by the richest 2% -- and implies that Soros is actually "calling in artillery on his own position" to SAVE the country!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Victory in Congress for "We The People" Gone Unreported by the Mainstream Media -- and the $7.6Trillion Mortgage-Backed Securities Market that Threatens to Implode at Any Moment

Blogger's Note: I have Googled this issue and could find no mainstream media mention of this. All mentions came from blogs, mostly repeating one or more original accounts such as the following:
Posted: 11/ 17/ 10 7:44 pm                                                       Post subject: HR 3808 Veto Upheld

Bill to Retroactively Immunize Mortgage Fraud Defeated

HR 3808 Veto Upheld
HR 3808 went down.

Congratulations to everyone who called their congress members to demand that this blatant attempt to legalize mortgage fraud be defeated.

And thanks to ZeroHedge poster 4ClosureFraud for being on the forefront of this issue, and helping to keep us informed!

For those who don’t know, 4ClosureFraud – and their friends Foreclosure Hamlet – have been the two main movers and shakers in exposing foreclosure fraud in the United States.


In the video below, Chairman Ted Kaufman of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel introduces the panel's November report, "Examining the Consequences of Mortgage Irregularities for Financial Stability and Foreclosure Mitigation." The full report is available online at
Clearly, Ted and his panel are on our side.  The implosion of the mortgage-backed securities market must be born by the banks that caused the problem.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do you anticipate flying out of a U.S. airport anytime in the future? If so, you really need to take note of this.

First the good news. Good people of all political persuasions are getting together to oppose what is happening:

Now zoom in on exactly what sort of things are happening:

And here are some more graphic descriptions of the kinds of groping that women and children have been subjected to:

If you should be wondering how the health-hazzard-cum-privacy-invading x-ray scanners came to be installed in U.S. airports at taxpayer expense, go here.

Blogger's Note: This video was added two hours after posting the above.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Blogger's Note: These are a must-watch, my friends, a MUST WATCH!

Confession: When I first heard that the state of Minnesota had elected a professional wrestler as their governor, I thought it ludicrous.

Facts: Jesse Ventura is a former Navy frogman who has carried his fearlessness and sense of purpose into the present-day political arena. Add to that his terrific intellect and stage presence and you have a stellar researcher and expositor of the truths that we absolutely need to know, but which our government deliberately conceals from us.

Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura: 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bank of America is Dead Man Walking. If Congress passes a law to legalize their crimes and reimburse their losses with taxpayer money, it'll be time to rebel.

Alternet/ By Joshua Holland

Bank of America Is in Deep Trouble, and There May Be Financial Disaster on the Horizon

Its stock value has dropped 40 percent since April, and the bank is mum on what losses it's hiding on its $2.3 trillion balance sheet.

November 11, 2010 | Will Bank of America be the first Wall Street giant to once again point a gun to its own head, telling us it'll crash and burn and take down the financial system if we don’t pony up for another massive bailout?

When former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was handing out trillions to Wall Street, BofA collected $45 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to stabilize its balance sheet. It was spun as a success story -- a rebuke of those who urged the banks be put into receivership -- when the behemoth “paid back” the cash last December. But the bank’s stock price has fallen by more than 40 percent since mid-April, and the value of its outstanding stock is currently at around half of what it should be based on its “book value” -- what the company says its holdings are worth.

“The problem for anyone trying to analyze Bank of America’s $2.3 trillion balance sheet,” wrote Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil, “is that it’s largely impenetrable.” Nobody really knows the true values of the assets these companies are holding, which has been the case ever since the collapse. But according to Weil, some of BofA’s financial statements “are so delusional that they invite laughter.”

Weil points to the firm’s accounting of its purchase of Countrywide Financial -- the criminal enterprise at the center of the sub-prime securitization market. Bank of America, Weil notes, hasn’t written off Countrywide’s entire value. “In its latest quarterly report with the SEC,” he wrote, “Bank of America said it had determined the asset wasn’t impaired. It might as well be telling the public not to believe any of the numbers on its financial statements.”

With investors valuing BofA at half the worth that the bank claims, it’s one titan of Wall Street that may be on the brink of collapse. But it’s not alone. “Everybody was doing this, this is not just something that Countrywide and Bank of America were doing," legendary investor Jim Rogers told CNBC. As a result, the banks’ balance sheets are "full of rotten stuff" that “is going to be a huge mess for a long time to come.”

And that “rotten stuff” will continue to be a drag on the brick-and-mortar economy until the mess gets cleaned up. Which, in turn, is a powerful argument for a second dip into the public trough.

When the financial crisis hit, those of us who view the free market as more than a hollow slogan urged the government to take over the ailing giants of Wall Street, wipe out their investors, send their parasitic management teams to the unemployment line and gradually unwind the huge pile of “toxic” assets that they’d amassed before selling them back, leaner and meaner, to the private sector.

It worked in the past -- it was Ronald Reagan’s response to the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s. But that was then, and today Reaganite policies are deemed to be “creeping socialism” -- thoroughly unacceptable. We were told the banks were too big to fail, and Bush saw eye-to-eye with Republicans and Blue Dogs in Congress and bailed the banks out without exacting a penalty in exchange for the taxpayers' largesse. They socialized the risk, but the financial industry went right back to its old tricks, paying its execs fat bonuses and playing fast and loose with its accounting.

Much of that toxic paper remains on their books -- somewhere. The assets are still impossible to price and now several Wall Street titans appear to be approaching a tipping point, poised to once again to extort a mountain of cash from our Treasury by claiming to be too big -- and interconnected -- to crash and burn as the principles of the free market would otherwise dictate.

There are alternatives. As in 2008, the federal government could put failing financial institutions into receivership. But some experts are saying that if we want to get off the roller coaster of an economy moving from one financial bubble to the next, a bolder approach is necessary: permanent nationalization of banks that can’t survive without public dollars.

“Inevitably, American taxpayers are going to pick up much of the tab for the banks' failures,” wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz last year. “The question facing us is, to what extent do we participate in the upside return?” Stiglitz argued that the government should take “over those banks that cannot assemble enough capital through private sources to survive without government assistance.”

To be sure, shareholders and bondholders will lose out, but their gains under the current regime come at the expense of taxpayers. In the good years, they were rewarded for their risk-taking. Ownership cannot be a one-sided bet.

But there’s a difference between then and now. At the time, most of us saw the crash as a result of hubris and greed run amok in an under-regulated financial sector. Now, we know the financial crisis was the result of unchecked criminality -- that fraud was perpetrated, in the words of University of Missouri scholar (and veteran regulator) William Black, “at every step in the home finance food chain.” As Black and economist L. Randall Wray wrote recently:
The appraisers were paid to overvalue real estate; mortgage brokers were paid to induce borrowers to accept loan terms they could not possibly afford; loan applications overstated the borrowers' incomes; speculators lied when they claimed that six different homes were their principal dwelling; mortgage securitizers made false [representations] and warranties about the quality of the packaged loans; credit ratings agencies were overpaid to overrate the securities sold on to investors; and investment banks stuffed collateralized debt obligations with toxic securities that were handpicked by hedge fund managers to ensure they would self destruct.
That homeowners would default on the nonprime mortgages was a foregone conclusion throughout the industry -- indeed, it was the desired outcome. This was something the lending side knew, but which few on the borrowing side could have realized.

And since the crash, they’ve committed widespread foreclosure fraud, dutifully whitewashed by the corporate media as nothing more than some “paperwork” problems resulting from a handful of “errors.”

It is anything but. As Yves Smith, author of Econned: How Unenlightened Self-Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism, wrote in the New York Times, “The major banks and their agents have for years taken shortcuts with their mortgage securitization documents — and not due to a momentary lack of attention, but as part of a systematic approach to save money and increase profits.”
Increasingly, homeowners being foreclosed on are correctly demanding that servicers prove that the trust that is trying to foreclose actually has the right to do so. Problems with the mishandling of the loans have been compounded by the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, an electronic lien-registry service that was set up by the banks. While a standardized, centralized database was a good idea in theory, MERS has been widely accused of sloppy practices and is increasingly facing legal challenges.
Judges are beginning to demand that the banks show their work -- prove they have the right to foreclose -- and in many instances they can’t, having sliced and diced those mortgages up into a thousand securities without bothering to verify the paperwork as most states require by law. This leaves what Smith calls a “cloud of uncertainty” hanging over trillions in mortgage-backed securities -- the largest class of assets in the world -- and preventing a real recovery of the housing market. In turn, that is holding back the economy at large; according to the International Monetary Fund, it’s the drag of the housing mess that’s causing the high and sustained levels of unemployment we see today.

Big financial firms have also been cooking their books in order to obscure how shaky their balance sheets really are because honest accounting would likely bring an end to those big bonuses that drive “the Street.” Yet a day of reckoning may be fast approaching.

If the worst-case scenario should come to pass, with the banks hit by thousands of lawsuits, unable to foreclose on properties in default and with investors running for the hills, expect to hear calls for TARP II. It’d be a very heavy political lift, but given Congress’s fealty to Wall Street it could plausibly be passed.

There are alternatives. As in 2008, the federal government could put failing financial institutions into receivership. But some experts are saying that if we want to get off the roller coaster of an economy moving from one financial bubble to the next, a bolder approach is necessary: permanent nationalization of banks that can’t survive without public dollars.

“Inevitably, American taxpayers are going to pick up much of the tab for the banks' failures,” wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz last year. “The question facing us is, to what extent do we participate in the upside return?” Stiglitz argued that the government should take “over those banks that cannot assemble enough capital through private sources to survive without government assistance.”
To be sure, shareholders and bondholders will lose out, but their gains under the current regime come at the expense of taxpayers. In the good years, they were rewarded for their risk-taking. Ownership cannot be a one-sided bet.

Of course, most of the employees will remain, and even much of the management. What then is the difference? The difference is that now, the incentives of the banks can be aligned better with those of the country. And it is in the national interest that prudent lending be restarted.
Leo Panitch, a professor of comparative political economy at Canada’s York University, wrote that "the prospect of turning banking into a public utility might be seen as laying the groundwork for the democratization of the economy.”

Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, points to the success of the nation’s only government-owned bank, the Bank of North Dakota. “Last year,” she wrote, “North Dakota had the largest budget surplus it had ever had…and it was the only state that was actually adding jobs when others were losing them.”

North Dakota has an abundance of natural resources, including oil, but as Brown notes, other states that enjoy similar riches were deep in the red. “The sole truly distinguishing feature of North Dakota seems to be that it has managed to avoid the Wall Street credit freeze by owning and operating its own bank.” She adds that the bank serves the community, making “low-interest loans to students, farmers and businesses; underwrit[ing] municipal bonds; and serv[ing] as the state’s 'Mini Fed,' providing liquidity and clearing checks for more than 100 banks around the state.”

Several states have considered proposals to emulate North Dakota, but such a bold move would obviously be all but impossible in Washington. But it shouldn’t be off the table. Banks provide an “intermediary good” to the economy, creating no real value. But Big Finance’s speculation economy has caused great and real pain for the rest of us. As Joe Stiglitz put it, there’s no reason in the world the incentives of the banks shouldn’t be better aligned with the interests of the country and its citizens.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America). Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

Blogger's Note: Some significant details of the hole that Bank of America has dug itself into can be found here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why We Know the U.S. Has Become a Bananna Republic

Op-Ed Columnist
Our Banana Republic
Published: November 6, 2010

In my reporting, I regularly travel to banana republics notorious for their inequality. In some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie.

But guess what? You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home — and in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, it may get worse.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

That’s the backdrop for one of the first big postelection fights in Washington — how far to extend the Bush tax cuts to the most affluent 2 percent of Americans. Both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires. Republicans would also cut taxes above that.

The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.

At a time of 9.6 percent unemployment, wouldn’t it make more sense to finance a jobs program? For example, the money could be used to avoid laying off teachers and undermining American schools.

Likewise, an obvious priority in the worst economic downturn in 70 years should be to extend unemployment insurance benefits, some of which will be curtailed soon unless Congress renews them. Or there’s the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps train and support workers who have lost their jobs because of foreign trade. It will no longer apply to service workers after Jan. 1, unless Congress intervenes.

So we face a choice. Is our economic priority the jobless, or is it zillionaires?

And if Republicans are worried about long-term budget deficits, a reasonable concern, why are they insistent on two steps that nonpartisan economists say would worsen the deficits by more than $800 billion over a decade — cutting taxes for the most opulent, and repealing health care reform? What other programs would they cut to make up the lost $800 billion in revenue?

In weighing these issues, let’s remember that backdrop of America’s rising inequality.

In the past, many of us acquiesced in discomfiting levels of inequality because we perceived a tradeoff between equity and economic growth. But there’s evidence that the levels of inequality we’ve now reached may actually suppress growth. A drop of inequality lubricates economic growth, but too much may gum it up.

Robert H. Frank of Cornell University, Adam Seth Levine of Vanderbilt University, and Oege Dijk of the European University Institute recently wrote a fascinating paper suggesting that inequality leads to more financial distress. They looked at census data for the 50 states and the 100 most populous counties in America, and found that places where inequality increased the most also endured the greatest surges in bankruptcies.

Here’s their explanation: When inequality rises, the richest rake in their winnings and buy even bigger mansions and fancier cars. Those a notch below then try to catch up, and end up depleting their savings or taking on more debt, making a financial crisis more likely.

Another consequence the scholars found: Rising inequality also led to more divorces, presumably a byproduct of the strains of financial distress. Maybe I’m overly sentimental or romantic, but that pierces me. It’s a reminder that inequality isn’t just an economic issue but also a question of human dignity and happiness.

Mounting evidence suggests that losing a job or a home can rock our identity and savage our self-esteem. Forced moves wrench families from their schools and support networks.

In short, inequality leaves people on the lower rungs feeling like hamsters on a wheel spinning ever faster, without hope or escape.

Economic polarization also shatters our sense of national union and common purpose, fostering political polarization as well.

So in this post election landscape, let’s not aggravate income gaps that already would make a Latin American caudillo proud. To me, we’ve reached a banana republic point where our inequality has become both economically unhealthy and morally repugnant.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Russia Today Series on the U.S. Economy

Blogger's Note: These three videos are in reverse chronological order. The latest, and I think the best, is first.

Dennis Kucinich: Flawed US economy works against people (Nov 12, 2010)

Some Dennis Kucinich quotes from this interview: "The structure of the U.S. economy is wrong for the average American." "The Fed basically printed $600 BLN and gave it to the banks, not to the people." "The Fed directs monetary policy in America for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many." "The Fed looked the other way when banks ... were securitizing their mortgages and going along with investments that were pyramiding the values of these securitizations.

Currency Battle: Obama faces G20 grilling over dollar disaster move (Nov 10, 2010)

Currency Wars: US to send tsunami of printed money
(Nov 9, 2010)

Friday, November 12, 2010

PBS Is Dead. Long Live Press TV!

Blogger's Note: There is no way this video will ever be found on YouTube, so I couldn't find a way to embed it. Rather I present only a single frame of this stunning set of interviews of three American patriots by Judy Woodruff's counterpart in Tehran. Please link to it here. If for any reason it doesn't play, please read the transcript.

'America wages wars for profit'

Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:38PM
Interview with Stephen Lendman, writer and radio host from Chicago; Bill Jones with the Executive Intelligence Review from Washington; and Jeff Gates, US attorney and author from California
Again, here's the link.

Former US President George W. Bush has in his book said that by going to war in Iraq, the US has saved British lives as it stopped possible terrorist attacks.

What he did not reveal was that the Iraq war created much terrorism inside the country as many sources say the war has led to the deaths of over a million Iraqi lives.

To discuss the issue, Press TV had an interview with Stephen Lendman, writer and radio host from Chicago, Bill Jones with the Executive Intelligence Review from Washington and Jeff Gates, US attorney and author from California. The following is the transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Mr. Lendman, Bush has boasted about giving the okay on water-boarding alleged terrorist suspects in American custody. Both the current president and attorney general have said that water-boarding is torture. Where exactly does that leave Bush?

Stephen Lendman: Well, water-boarding is absolutely torture. Torture is illegal under international law and the US law. All treaties, Geneva, the UN Convention against Torture 1984, the US War Crimes Act, and the international treaties that America has signed before Geneva treaties, under the supremacy cause of the US constitution. They are automatically US law. The UN charter I might add as well.

Torture is illegal. Unequivocally illegal at all times and under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions. Water-boarding is torture. I've written about it. I do a lot of writing. I've written about water-boarding. Water-boarding simulates drowning but it's worse than that. It literally endangers the lives of the people submitted to it. For example, I've written about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the supposed 9/11 mastermind who I think had nothing whatsoever to do with it. He was water-boarded 186 times. Now just imagine that. That means maybe 186 times he thought he was going to die. Besides all the other tortures inflicted on him for many years. 9/11, I have discussed it on my program, I have written about it. I don't have a smoking gun to prove it, but I think my own government is responsible for 9/11.

My own belief is that it literally was a co-effort between the CIA and the Israeli Mossad. It had nothing to do with the people they blamed it on.

Press TV: We definitely need to do a program looking into 9/11 again, but, getting back to the situation that we are looking at right now, you said in all cases that water-boarding is torture. Now George W. Bush has said that he would ask his legal advisers. And they said that it was absolutely no torture. Do you think he is lying or his advisers told him something wrong? What do you think is going on here?

Stephen Lendman: Well, his advisers told him what he wanted to hear. That's the way the system works. One of them was the infamous John Yoo. He wrote two torture memos authorizing torture which basically as Donald Rumsfeld, former Defense Secretary, put it, "We can do anything to anybody short of causing organ failure. In other words, if you don kill them, you can inflict anything on them, any amount of pain, any amount of discomfort. You can call it torture, you can call it whatever you want. As long as we don't kill them, it's legal. Well, sorry. International law says it's illegal.

Now lawyers like John Yoo [, he] absolutely knows that when he wrote torture memos authorizing these procedures to be committed. John Yoo is complicit with George Bush, Rumsfeld and everyone else in the administration, administering torture.

Press TV: Mr. Jones, Bush seems to have no remorse for the loss of lives which have taken place based on a fabrication of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. What do you think about this? He was not apologetic. He was basically not saying that he was sorry that he went to war, but said that he would do the same thing again.

Bill Jones: Well, I think basically Bush is a fool. He was placed into office because he was the son of a president by people who were more powerful and more intelligent than him. And he was basically a stooge for them. And he has proven that gross ignorance in the fact that he can come out and say the things he is saying now. I think he did it because of the tremendous defeat of the Obama administration in the latest elections. He probably thought time was right to stick his head up. He has been in hiding for quite a while, reviled by many people as the worst president we have ever had. But now he feels that he can come out and try and speak in his defense. The issue of the 9/11 is of course that he's tallying the whole time as the reason, I'm in agreement with the former speaker, although you have to look at the Saudi and British role in that development, but it was used in the same way that the Reich Stag fire was used by the Nazis. Whoever may have perpetrated it, it was used to turn up and down the thinking in the United States that these kinds of things that occurred post-9/11 would have been unthinkable, illegal and immoral prior to that period, but because of the so-called emergency laws that were put in, Bush was able, at the instigation of Cheney and other people in control, to move in the direction of what was really, what I would consider, a fascist policy.

Press TV: Mr. Gates, Under the international law, Bush's admission that he authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger Washington's obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him. Do you think that will happen?

Jeff Gates: Probably not, for the same reason that he became president to begin with. If you watch the president's election closely, in effect, he preempted that in the primary of 2000 when this syndicate raised about 50 million dollars in about a six week period. It then had a brand name of politicians to put into office, who a national security column says were a classic asset. An asset of someone with the profile of sufficient debts, but you know if you place them in a time and place and circumstance, by which you have considered an influx, the behavior consistent with that …he could be charged with war crimes …He could probably be charged with … we know that he had facts in front of him that he did not make his decision on instead based on his belief. He came to office as a Christian Zionist not unlike Harry Truman who recognized Israel over … one or two close advisors. You fast forward it to 2000 and you bring in another Christian Zionist into the Presidency, recovering alcoholic, out of source with his dad and a long range of dysfunctions and that's what made him a classic asset. No wonder you can blame him but you also blame a whole series of previous presidents that set this up. But I think this misses the point. The point is how do we continue to do this presidency after presidency. And how do we as Americans end up … called guilt by association. How destruction and self-deceit commit America to war, as we were truly deceived to go to war. If you look back at all that intelligence it doesn't go to Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld; those are faces on a far more systemic and frankly more sinister phenomenon.

All of this traces back to … notion of Zionism. I as a lawyer call it trans-generation organized crime…

The attitude in the US and the Middle East has not changed with the shift from the Republicans to the Democrats, it is only the same policies with a different face on the same problem.

Press TV: Mr. Lendman, the US is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture. What exactly has happened? Why hasn't the UN gotten involved and do you expect that perhaps the UN would play a role in this and get involved, being that the US is a signatory to this [UN convention]?

Stephen Lendman: Not at all, the US was instrumental in setting up the UN in the 1940s after the World War II. And of course we have a Security Council with a veto. America can veto all the other countries of the world combined. It could be the whole world going one way and America going the other way. And as long as you have a UN run like that, the UN is literally a tool of US policy.

And the US is the only country that has egregiously used that veto. Once in a blue moon, another country does. Only four others can do it besides the US. But America has egregiously used the veto power. So the UN can do absolutely nothing to stop America. An important point for people to know is America may have two major parties but America is a one-party state. It doesn't matter whether Democrats are in power or the Republicans. It's referred to as the money party or the property party. And Barack Obama is merely George Bush's third term. Bill Clinton was worse than Ronald Reagan. George Bush was worse than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, believe it or not, is worse than George Bush. It's hard to believe. But he's worse than George Bush. He is smoother but before his term runs out, people will catch on. They are catching on now slowly. I think he'd be a one-term president. But the policies are seamless. The wars are planned in advance. The pretexts come about after the plans are made.

We went to war with Afghanistan four weeks after 9/11. It takes months to plan a war like that. The plan to go to war with Iraq was already conceived. The blueprint was written. It was on the shelf ready to take out. The only decision was which country we go to war with first. They picked Afghanistan. Iraq and Afghanistan of course had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. They didn't threaten the US. George Bush lied. Everybody else in the administration lied. I agree George Bush was a tool. Obama is a tool. And it doesn't matter whether it's Obama or whoever comes after him. It's the system that needs to be indicted.

Press TV: If what you are saying is true, where are the American people in the middle of this? If nothing really changes and it's the system that is consistent and as you said is getting worse. Are the American people not informed about this? Why isn't there a lot being said about this in general, this perspective that you have just brought out? Why no analyses are being made?

Stephen Lendman: It's such an important point. I have read about it and talked about it on my radio program. People get more informed all the time. The problem is even though the majority are not… the majority get the news and information from TV which means the cable channels, CNN, FOX, the broadcast channels; the CBS the NBC. They lie, they do not inform. They produce managed news not real news and information. They bring on a host, they bring on pundits and they lie. They misinform, they censor. But even people who do know what's going on, most of them are indifferent. They have their own lives. They worry about nonsensical things like shopping, like the latest films, the latest fashions. That's crazy but that's what they think about. And they say, "Well I need to go to work, I need to support my family." They worry about these things. So in France, you see strikes, a million, two or three million people come out on the streets day after day after day after day. None of us in America [is doing the same]. We are having our liberty stolen. We are having our wealth stolen. And people are just indifferent to the possibility that some day what they think is a country that is free will turn out to be … a police state. And all the benefits are gone, and when they finally awaken to that it will be too late.

Press TV: Mr. Jones, in the light of what Mr. Lendman has said, there are human rights organizations that try to keep a tab on things. For example, according to the Amnesty International, Bush's admittance to knowing and approving water-boarding makes him accountable. What would it take in the United States for someone like Bush to be held accountable?

Bill Jones: Well, it will probably take a general mass uprising which could indeed occur at certain points. The problem with the American people is that they are concerned about what's going on. They were concerned when they elected Barack Obama because they elected Barack Obama because he wasn't George Bush. But Barack Obama was much more George Bush than people thought, which is why his popularity now has gone down the tubes rapidly, putting him in a position, I think the latest polls proved it, that his popularity is worse than Bush's.

The real problem is the lack of leadership. I would say the cowardice of what leadership is in this country. I will give you an example. Barack Obama has basically through Nancy Pelosi horsewhipped the Congress into accepting a policy that most of them probably admitted was wrong. Namely, to spend over one trillion dollars in bailing out Wall Street when our cities were falling apart, when our bridges were coming down, when there are all kinds of infrastructures that needed money. This trillion dollars plus went to Wall Street to bail out the bankers and the people suffered. Most of the congressmen who were hearing from their districts on what the problems were knew that that was a wrong policy but they were too cowardly...

Press TV: Let me interrupt you there. If you say that basically the leaders in the US right now do not have the courage to do what they basically should do, they are cowards, then who is really running the show? If they are bowing obviously to some higher power, who do you think is behind the show in Washington?

Bill Jones: Well, primarily the ones who have been running the show during the Obama administration have been really the Wall Street banks. It's not just only the Wall Street banks. It's really the London banks, because Obama's policy has been to try and save the bankrupt financial system with the trillions and trillions of dollars of debt that cannot be paid instead of moving in the direction of, say, creating a new financial system and agreements between governments.

A lot of things could have been done to resolve this economic crisis. But the bankers were telling Geithner and Larry Summers "you've got to save Wall Street, whatever it's going to cost. Give them what they need." And then Bernanke and Geithner went to the president and said, "OK, give them what they want."

Press TV: Based on what you have said, would you say that it is not only Bush that is implicit in what he has said but the whole system has been implicit in basically allowing this to happen. Would you say that is true?

Bill Jones: It's fundamental corruption in the system which is ruled by the money that a lot of these people need in order to win their election. That is the case with Congress. The rule in Congress is "Go along to get along." That's once these guys get into the Congress and will see what happens to these Tea Party and all these other wild people who have been elected now... When word comes down, you want a position in the committee; you want a position in this and that. You have to follow the rules here.

And it's all about the money. Now if somebody opposes that… they could do it, if they mobilized the people, if they went to the people and said "we cannot allow this to happen." But nobody, up in to this point, in the US Congress, has shown the guts to try and do that. And that is, like I said, a problem of leadership. If anybody would do that, they would gain the immediate support from the American population who are totally disgusted with the way that Washington works.

Press TV: Being that you have said, that it is a corrupt system, where does it go from here? And, basically, what happened to the so-called justice that the US said it stood for?

Stephen Lendman: Well, America says a lot of things, but what it does and what it says go in two different paths. Who runs America? It is very clear who runs America. Corporate America runs the country. Bankers [are] in the lead [of] really what is called the fire sector, finance, real state, insurance led by the big Wall Street banks. And of course the Federal Reserve is not federal. It is owned by the banks. The Wall Street banks have a controlling interest. They decide the way the country will be run, including waging wars. One reason for waging wars is they are so profitable. Not just to the defense contractors, [but also] to the big banks, to technology companies, all companies that supply goods and services including private contractors that have every incentive to want America to be in war.

America has a prominent war agenda, we just need to find new enemies, and if they don't exist, we need to create them. It is the system that is broken and corrupted, and I agree. Unless there is a mass uprising, that is nowhere in sight, this will not change. It will only get worse.


Paul Craig Roberts: "...the US is a morally bankrupt, self-righteous country that believes that might is right."

Might Is Right

By Paul Craig Roberts

November 03, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- In my last column, Who Has The Crystal Ball, I questioned the existence of “the liberal media,” and I remarked that it would be interesting to know the manufacturer of the full body scanners and the company’s relationship to the US and Israeli governments.

Conservative readers wrote to me saying that, as I had not mentioned National Public Radio, I had hidden “the liberal media” under the table. Another reader, well informed on the subject, told me about the full body scanner company and its relationship to the US and Israeli governments.

Let’s begin with the latter.

The full body scanners are manufactured by Rapiscan Systems, a firm represented by the Chertoff Group. The Chertoff Group is Michael Chertoff, a dual Israeli/US citizen appointed Secretary of Homeland Security in 2005 by Puppet President George W. Bush. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) used Obama’s economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to purchase 150 Rapiscan machines. Much larger purchases are in the works.

Chertoff has been a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and a federal prosecutor who convicted and destroyed the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, apparently illegally as the conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court. But, of course, the firm and the careers of its employees were already destroyed by Chertoff.

Chertoff was also appointed Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice by George W. Bush. Chertoff supervised the 9/11 investigation or non-investigation.

Chertoff is also the co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act, a piece of fascist legislation that destroys American civil liberties.

Today Chertoff is using his government credentials to push full body scanners into American airports. A rights group,, has criticized Chertoff for abusing “the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners.”

Chertoff’s mother, Livia, was an El Al Airlines hostess and according to some a Mossad agent (see, for example, ).

Now let’s have a look at National Public Radio. Once upon a time NPR was an alternative voice. That voice was discarded during the Bush administration when Republican fundraiser Gay Hart Gaines was appointed by Dubya as vice chair for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Cheryl Feldman Halpern was appointed chair of the Corporation by Dubya, and Elizabeth Sembler was appointed by Dubya to the board of the corporation.

These women are certainly not liberals. Gaines is affiliated with right-wing and neoconservative organizations, such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the National Review Institute. According to Common Cause, Gaines was “an ardent fundraiser for Newt Gingrich.”

Halpern is a Republican donor and a critic of NPR. Halpern has accused NPR of anti-Israel bias and said that public broadcasting journalists should be penalized for biased programs. Biased programs are those that don’t fit Republican and AIPAC agendas. Halpern accompanied President George W. Bush to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Israeli state in May 2008. Halpern is a board member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a spin-off organization from AIPAC tasked with focusing primarily on influencing the US executive branch while AIPAC focuses on Congress. At her confirmation hearing, Halpern expressed her opinion that Public Broadcasting System’s Bill Moyers was not objective and regretted that as chair of the corporation she lacked the authority to “remove physically somebody who had engaged in editorialization of the news.”

Sembler is director of Jewish Studies at the Jewish Day School in Clearwater, Florida. Her husband is CEO of the Sembler Company, a shopping center development firm.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting board distributes federal funds to noncommercial radio and TV stations. It became clear to NPR that their funding was in question, and NPR deserted truth for money.

The Republican takeover was completed by an infusion of corporate money into NPR. Today the station has as many advertisements for corporate donors as a commercial station. It still pretends to be financed by listeners, but NPR is now part of the corporate media and sounds like the voice of Israel.

On November 2, NPR’s news broadcast showed its new colors. Reporting on the 40-year sentence handed to Omar Khadr by a Gestapo military tribunal for “war crimes,” NPR provided commentary from a widow of a US soldier killed in the firefight that captured the wounded 15-year old Khadr and by a retired US military officer. NPR did not provide any commentary by legal experts who have shown the “trial” to be a travesty of law.

Khadr was captured in wounded condition following a four-hour firefight in the Afghan village of Ayub Kheyl, which came under US attack. He was accused of throwing a hand grenade that fatally wounded a US soldier. It is impossible to know who threw a grenade during a firefight. Moreover, the use of lethal force in military encounters does not constitute a war crime.

Khadr was held for seven years in Guantanamo where he was tortured into confession. At his trial, his confession became a plea bargain.

What Khadr’s trial was about is establishing that “enemy combatants” who resist US aggression are war criminals. The assumption is that only “terrorists” resist American invasion of their countries.

None of this information was revealed by the NPR report. Instead America’s “alternative voice” was thoroughly neoconservative. NPR presented its listeners with the self-righteous celebration of the US soldier’s widow, who, the Guardian reported (Nov. 2) “pumped her fist and cheered ‘yes.’ The widow said that now, finally, that justice was done she could get on with her life. NPR followed up with a retired US military officer, who said that Khadr’s sentence was equivalent to freeing a murderer.

Khadr’s prosecutor, Jeffrey Groharing, declared that Khadr’s sentence “will send a message to Al-Qaeda and others whose aims and goals are to kill and cause chaos around the world.” The irony in this assertion escaped the tamed NPR. The deaths that can be attributed to Al Qaeda are tiny in number compared to the deaths inflicted by gratuitous US and Israeli naked aggression against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Yeman, and Somalia. Groharing declared the 15-year old Khadr to have been “an accomplished terrorist” who committed the offense of resisting American aggression.

Now, really, what kind of idiot would interpret NPR’s report as “the liberal media.”

What message did Khadr’s sentence send? To insouciant Americans only that finally a terrorist got his comeuppance despite the liberal media. To the rest of the world the message is: the US is a morally bankrupt, self-righteous country that believes that might is right. The American claim to world leadership is discredited.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.