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Harper government negotiating Canada out of existence through NAFTA-SPP agenda

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Special to The Canadian

Tri-lateral negotiations – among Canada, United States, and Mexico – to “harmonize” national standards and rules are quietly continuing, notwithstanding the reported demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership process.

The cynical decision to further disguise a deep continental integration agenda was a result of the success of citizens and NGOs from all three nations in challenging the lack of transparency and fairness of the SPP process as well as the risks it represented to their local communities and national sovereignty.

The SPP process emerged out of a pre-existing corporate-driven continentalist agenda that capitalized on American post-9/11 fear about national security.  It built on the NAFTA foundation and sought to bring Canada, Mexico and the U.S. much closer to a common market and customs union. Some have described it as a future North American Union (NAU) similar to the European Union. They are certainly not similar.

A future North American Union (NAU) would have profound differences from the European Union political model.  

The elite pursued NAU which is being designed in the context of the “War against Terrorism” promises to lack the democratic pretensions of the European Union.

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September 21st, 2010 at 6:47 am

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Canada’s undermined sovereignty linked to declining quality-of-living and environmental degradation

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Special to The Canadian

Laws restricting foreign ownership have slowly been eroded in the past 40 years to the determent of our environment, our sovereignty and our long-term economic health (because of growing government and personal debt and deficits, the types of jobs being created, many of them low-paying service jobs, at the cost of losing hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, and the vulnerability of a “globalized economy”).  

The problem we have as Greens is influencing the global economic dialogue away from the dominant corporate-oriented “neo-liberal” economic ideas that have become the mainstream dominant ideas, and towards alternatives that are sustainable and just.  

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September 21st, 2010 at 6:38 am

Protect Canada’s democracy through affirming sovereignty against Globalization says Green Party of Canada

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Special to The Canadian

As a Green, I think it is important to take a stand against the idea of globalized or globally integrated economy.  

The entire Green political movement in Canada was borne from those inspired by the works of E.F. Schumacher and his economic work Small is Beautiful, which emphasized local economics.  Our own Elizabeth May and others helped to form the first environmental party in Canada in 1980, The Small Party, whose name was inspired by the title of his book.     

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September 21st, 2010 at 3:40 am

Canadian banks aiding alarming U.S.-led foreign takeover of Canada

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Defending our sovereignty as Canadians is vital to the affirming our democracy and independence as a nation.  Canada’s banks have been championing the destruction of our nationhood. 

Corporate-owned mass media also financed by these same banks, have sought to look the other way, and keep Canadians uninformed about this critical issue.

by Claudia Rodrigu

Private banks and other financial institutions, including the caisses populaires, have aided and abetted in what Canadians should consider one of the greatest crimes in the second half of the last century and continuing into the 21st.

Foreign take overs have been largly financed by private banks and other financial institutions. In fact, 42% of all foreign takeovers were financed by our good old patriotic banks. CIBC was the leading lender in the Shoppers Drug Mart takeover, and the recreational division of Bombardier was financed by BMO and RBC.

Private banks are also what we owe our 566.7 billion dollar debt to. Why? Because politicians are lobbied by private banks to ignore the Bank of Canada’s lending right and borrow from them instead. Canadians pay an estimated 170 million in interest a day  paid on our debt to private banks.

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September 21st, 2010 at 3:34 am

Harper government welcomes foreign takeovers of Canadian businesses

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Special to The Canadian

The Competition Policy Review Panel had recommended that the federal government water down most foreign investment controls and allow the mergers of major banks.

The report says Canada needs to reduce barriers to economic competition and embrace U.S. led “globalization”. “The panel believes that Canada needs to be more open to competition,” said panel chair L.R. “Red” Wilson, Chairman of the Board of CAE Inc. and former president and CEO of Bell Canada Enterprises.

One of Canada’s leading experts in foreign ownership believes the report is the work of business “ringers” who told Harper what he wanted to hear and believed in the first place.

Economist Mel Watkins told in a telephone interview, “My biggest fear [when the panel was set up] was that they would produce a report that was utterly self-serving for the business community. That’s precisely what they’ve done.” He says the report is “a wish list for business.”

The report proposes to make it easier for Canadian companies to be taken over, says Watkins, in every case except for cultural institutions. It recommends allowing any acquisition of a company worth less than a billion dollars to go ahead without government review. Current takeovers of companies are examined at the $250 million level.

Another recommendation aimed at making takeovers easier is to put the onus on government to prove the takeover could threaten national interests. Currently, companies involved must prove it does not.

“Nearly 16,000 acquisitions have taken place, and they haven’t turned down one until recently,” says Watkins, pointing to the rejected sale of aerospace manufacturer MDA Canada as the sole exception. He calls the policy switch pretty preposterous.

The language of the report, entitled “Compete to Win”, speaks to its political nature, says Watkins. “It sounds like a book by Don Cherry, full of sports and hockey analogies like ‘A good defence is a good offence’ and ‘We have to play more at the other end of the rink’. It’s as if the future of this country depends on Sports Canada.”

He finds the most interesting aspect of the report is its repeated focus on the “insufficiency of entrepreneurial ambition in Canada”, a notion with which he agrees. However, he attributes this insufficiency to the kind of colonial thinking and practices encouraged by the report.

“We’ve always thought of ourselves as part of another empire,” says Watkins. “So we have a Canadian business class that has no sense of itself. If you want to create a stronger business class in this country, it has to be encouraged to think of itself as separate from the US. The solutions offered by this report don’t speak to any kind of strategy like that.”

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September 21st, 2010 at 3:24 am

G2O summit: Racist Toronto Police arrest and detain visible minority CTV News Channel Producer

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Edited by Iain Mackenzie

PHOTO: Farzad Fatholahzadeh, a CTV News Channel producer, is seen moments after being arrested by police during a protest rally in Toronto on Saturday, June 26, 2010.

CTV News Channel producer Farzad Fatholahzadeh found himself among the prisoners at the Toronto G20 summit.  His hands were tied behind his back as he sat in his cage with 25 to 30 others after his arrest on Saturday night.

Fatholahzadeh stressed that police never treated him roughly, but as of Sunday afternoon the reasons for his arrest were still unclear to him.

He said he was walking behind the police line, his media pass worn clearly around his neck. He was looking for another CTV producer to hand off a tape when a dozen police officers approached him.

“They asked me what I was doing there, and when I told them I was part of the media and that my truck was right behind me, they asked me to relax,” he said.

“I think I was pretty relaxed, and then they told me I was arrested.”

Police fastened his hands behind his back with plastic ties and led him away to a bus destined for the detention centre. He said one officer whispered in his ear, “‘Don’t worry, they’ll let you go, you’ve been co-operative’.”

“I knew the situation would get sorted out eventually,” said Fatholahzadeh, who was able to maintain calm throughout his ordeal. But “eventually” turned into six hours later. He wasn’t released from the detention centre until 3:30 a.m. Sunday, with no charges against him.

He described a range of moods and conditions among prisoners, including those who were almost “jovial” while they shared their stories, and those who were “bashed up” and in distress, with cuts and bruises on their swollen faces.

And some of the detained, he said, were wearing orange jumpsuits, as those around him made uncomfortable comparisons to the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

But one dominant mood among many of the peaceful protesters who were detained was of anger toward the anarchists who set fire to police cars and wreaked havoc on the downtown streets.

“They feel they gave them a bad name. They’re blaming these guys running around burning police cars to them being detained. And also, for the fact that … they’re justifying the government spending a billion dollars on security.”

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June 27th, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Understanding Earth's problems requires appreciating forces from outer space

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The Global Crisis, the quest for Empire and Extraterrestrials

by Come Carpentier de Gourdon [Excerpted]


 In the course of the last decades a growing body of evidence, compiled by a number of researchers, suggests that a very large and critically sensitive covert endeavour to understand, “reverse engineer” and harness technologies and processes possessed by extraterrestrial or alter-dimensional beings has been undertaken under the auspices of elite-driven interests.

Come Carpentier reviews some of the facts that point to this largely hidden reality on the basis of some recent books, including Michael Salla’s latest work: “The Challenge of Exopolitics”.

The Thesis

In recent years a few books have presented various facets of a hitherto largely ignored reality that seems to intrude into every aspect of our lives. I refer to the increasing likelihood that the forces at play beneath the spiritual, ecological, social, political and economic crisis that befalls us are hidden from view and remain inscrutable from a conventional rational perspective. If this exordium is mystifying, the best way to clarify what I am pointing at is to mention the titles of the books that I will use as beacons in this exposition. One is Dr. Michael Salla’s Exposing Government Policies on ET Life – The Challenge of Exopolitics (2009), another is Richard M Dolan’s UFOs and the National Security State – An Unclassified History (Vol. I- 2002), another yet is Prof. Peter Dale Scott’s Drugs, Oil and War (2003) about “Deep Politics.” I also have in mind John Perkins’s  Confessions of an Economic Hitman (2004) and Timothy Good’s Need to Know: UFOs, the Military and Intelligence, Jim Marrs’ The Alien Agenda  (1997) as well as Dr. Steven Greer’s  Hidden Truth, Forbidden Knowledge (2006), Dan Sherman’s Above Black – Project Preserve Destiny (1997) and Paola L. Harris’s various works, including the latest entitled  Exopolitics: All of the Above  (2009).

A special mention must be made of the cryptic and prophetic writing entitled Behold a Pale Horse, authored in 1991 by the late Milton William Cooper, a former Naval Intelligence Officer at the US Pacific Fleet Command, a seminal work.

In a nutshell, the theme or at least the proposition that underlies those books and connects them is that there is a secret world (or quasi-global) government which is by definition neither democratically elected nor publicly accountable, and which may have been able to connect with or tap into forces that are at least partly non-human and possibly originate outside our planet.

Though not all the cited books make the latter allegation, which some authors such as John Perkins or Peter Dale Scott may not agree with, they all bring various pieces to the puzzle we are trying to construct – or unravel, and all demonstrate and conclude that the global socio-political and “scientific” reality is not what most people are taught and subsequently believe it is.

What are, in brief, the elements of proof or the indications which lead us toward that stunning and yet not unprecedented conclusion?

1. Many authors, even among those of relatively conservative persuasion, have shown or acknowledged what Nafeez M. Ahmed calls “the increasing criminalization of the state” at the global level, but particularly applying to the most powerful or leading states, beginning with the “sole superpower” and its closest allies: the UK, Israel and other NATO members.

Ahmed asks in the same article entitled “Torture, Rendition, Terror and Oil: a Primer on Deep Politics”: “In the service of what powerful vested interests are states acting in this increasingly criminal manner?” and provides in response the definition coined by Peter D. Scott for “deep politics”: “(a system) in which institutional, non-institutional and para-political bodies, criminal syndicates, politicians, judges, media, corporations and leading government employees, resort to decision-making and enforcement procedures outside…law and society.

What makes these supplementary procedures “deep” is the fact that they are covert or suppressed, outside public awareness as well as outside sanctioned political processes” (in “Drugs, Oil and War”).

Ahmed adds that this situation generates “a form of police-crime symbiosis where the defining parameters of which side controls the other are no longer clear.” John Perkins is one of several expert witnesses who, as a former actor within the system (“an economic hit-man” as he defines himself) has documented and shown how this criminal hidden ruling structure spread its tentacles to control global economy and politics. He provides a vivid illustration of the operational methods used by the global powers-that-be, some of which were analyzed by Noam Chomsky in his books “ Manufacturing Consent ” (1988, with Edward S Herman) and “ Necessary Illusions ” (1988).

 2. Dolan, Salla, Good, Sherman, Marrs,  Harris, Greer and a host of other researchers have gathered and presented some of the massive evidence that our planet has been for many decades at least under the frequent or constant watch of intelligent highly technological “alien” (?) visitors who may or may not be “human,” but who do not belong or report to any known governments or corporate authorities in any country, and who often interfere with military, energy-producing, telecommunications, aeronautical and astronautical systems and organizations, with the apparent design to prevent any aggression from “our” side and to curtail or control our defensive and offensive capabilities.

Many nation-states have now acknowledged through the relevant official agencies or from the lips of very senior political and military leaders that they have been aware of this presence and potential threat for many years and have tried, without much if any success, to track down, study and understand the nature, origins, motives and goals of the “unknowns”.

A documentary by Jose Escamilla entitled “The Greatest Story ever denied – Proof of the Alien Presence” in one of several that provides hard and solid visual evidence from NASA and other “official” records about alien ships filmed in the atmosphere and in outer space.

3. Some researchers , especially Michael Salla and his colleagues in the realm of Exopolitics, Paola Harris, Alfred Lambremont Webre, Stephen Bassett, NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Greer, Victor Viggiani and others, (supported at least in part by many “whistle blowers” and by various high level government officials such as the former Defence Minister Paul Hellyer from Canada, Admiral Lord Hill Norton, former Chief of the British Defence Staff, French Defence Minister Robert Galley and General Bernard Norlain, once Hill Norton’s counterpart in the French Air Force, the late Colonel Philip Corso from the USA, Dr. Jacques Patenet, Director of GEIPAN at the CNES (the French NASA), Prof. Jean-Claude Ribes, associate director of the National Institute for Astronomy and Geophysics, France and Nick Pope who headed the “UFO Desk” at the UK’s Ministry of Defence) have documented apparent Extratrrestrial influences on worsening socio-economic, political, and environmental issues.

The effects in our polity

Richard Dolan, one of the most “political” of the authors mentioned defines the situation very well in the preface to his aforementioned book (UFOs and the National Security State): “America is a country with a bad conscience, nominally a republic and a free society, but in reality an empire and oligarchy: vaguely aware of its own oppression.” He describes the mysterious realm of “special projects” surrounding government military UFO intelligence and research as “a project that is taking place in near complete secrecy, for purposes unknown, by entities unknown, with access to apparently substantial resources and technology.”

It is noteworthy that various highly sober and experienced professionals of space exploration as Dr. Edgar Mitchell do not dismiss such apparently incredible allegations, but rather give them the benefit of doubt. Mitchell has often gone on record to state that he is convinced of the existence of a “cabal of insiders” which controls relations with the Aliens and the study of their technologies.

About the writer:

About the writer:

Come Carpentier De Gourdon is currently the Convener of the Editorial Board of the World Affairs Journal, a quarterly publication dedicated to international issues, sponsored by the Kapur Surya Foundation (a co-sponsor of the “World Public Forum for Dialogue of Civilisations”) New Delhi, India. He has been associated with various businesses and not-for-profit organizations. They include the Nuclear Disarmament Forum and the Foundation for Global Dialog, Zug, Switzerland (in 2001-2002), the Tissot Economic Foundation of Neuchatel, Switzerland (1991-2000), the Global Commission to Finance the United Nations (from 1994 to date), the FEGAWERK Group of Companies, Switzerland (1991-1999), the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BUSCO, Paris, France, 1994-1995), Planet India Ltd. of New Delhi, India (from 1995 to date), the Conference of World Affairs of the University of Colorado in Boulder, U.S. (1985 to 1988), Orbit Productions, Washington D.C., USA (1987 to 1989), the Together Foundation for Global Unity of Caracas, Venezuela and Boulder, Colorado (1990-1992) and the Swiss Academy of Technical and Engineering Sciences (SATW)(1992-1993) among others. He is the author of numerous papers including a presentation at the 2006 World Public Forum on “The Case for Exopolitics: Ushering in a Cosmic Dialogue.” His website is: LINK

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February 27th, 2010 at 10:06 am

Beyond Copenhagen: socially progressive alternatives to capitalism

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by Lauren Carroll Harris, Copenhagen

PHOTO: The TSX is Canada’s largest stock exchange.

“Can a finite Earth support an infinite project? The thesis of capitalism, infinite development, is a destructive pattern, let’s face it. How long are we going to tolerate the current international economic order and prevailing market mechanisms? How long are we going to allow huge epidemics like HIV/AIDS to ravage entire populations? How long are we going to allow the hungry to not eat or to be able to feed their own children? How long are we going to allow millions of children to die from curable diseases? How long will we allow armed conflicts to massacre millions of innocent human beings in order for the powerful to seize the resources of other peoples?”

— Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, speaking at COP15, December 16, 2009

Climate change is beyond an environmental issue. In Copenhagen, tens of thousands of ordinary people came together at the alternative climate summt, Klimaforum09, to discuss what the UN, governments and corporations cannot — to agree on and enact real solutions to the environmental crisis and all its associated issues, including food, land and water security for the Third World; compassionate responses to climate refugees; bridging the gulf of inequality between the global North and South, and the preservation of the rights of workers in unsustainable industries.

All these issues have been forced onto the global political agenda — for some time at least. Before Copenhagen, it was the global financial meltdown that put the word “capitalism” back into the everyday vocabulary.

Now in Copenhagen, many are explicitly discussing the issue of how to remove the causes of climate change — the capitalist system and its structurally unequal ownership and distribution of natural resources and wealth — root and branch.

In the words of one Klimaforum09 participant: “We need to think strategically about how to build a movement that can take power from a system that is completely unable to solve this crisis, a world that values its economic system over its ecosystem. We need to build a movement and a system that can give us all the things that they [the government leaders at COP15] can never give us.”

Denmark ‘worst possible host’

A session titled “Capitalism and the Climate Crisis: Left Alternatives” featured a range of left and socialist activists. Per Clausen of Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance criticised his government’s use of carbon offsets to falsely heighten its carbon emissions-reduction targets.

He said that emissions must be reduced in a real sense, “not drowned in a sea of quotas”, and that despite Denmark’s reputation as a “green” country, it “has proven itself to be the worst possible host of the climate summit. First, [Denmark] backtracks on the demand for a legally binding agreement. Second, [Denmark] has sold out on the demand that rich countries must reduce emissions by between 55 and 40% by 2020″.

Marisa Matias, a member of parliament for Portugal’s Left Bloc, criticised how the mainstream has adopted the language of the environment movement, but in a diluted manner, stripped of all meaning and divorced from a rigorous examination of the crisis’ real problems, and consequently, the real solutions.

“Environmental crises are viewed as technical, as externalities — ‘there’s a problem in the water, in the soil, in the air’ — and separated from their social origins”, Matias said. “Over the last two decades, [the words] ’sustainable development’ have been integrated into the discourse of every party, every government, but they have an empty significance.

“We must see environmental problems in the realms of social and distribution problems, and that means ecological and social justice as the solution. It makes no sense to talk about nature without talking about society and who has control over natural resources.”

Vestas example

The “Left Alternatives” panel also included Ian Terry, a former Vestas employee and member of the British Socialist Workers’ Party. Vestas is a Danish wind-turbine manufacturer that recently sacked hundreds of staff at a turbine factory on Britain’s Isle of Wight.

Terry explained the signficance of the Vestas workers’ campaign to save their jobs, and how it offered unique opportunities to make links between the erosion of the environment and workers’ rights.

“We were told that our jobs were secure, the industry was booming and we wouldn’t be worrying about the recession. Three weeks later they told us we were all going to lose our jobs. At the same time [Britain's Labour government] was claiming to be creating 400,000 green jobs. So we occupied our factory.

“What I experienced [during the factory occupation] was amazing, a coming together of environmentalists, socialists, trade unionists and the local community. And for me it solidifies the argument that capitalism is the same problem — for the working-class movement and for the environment movement.

“Although we didn’t actually save our jobs, the media reported quite kindly and widely. It wasn’t just the left media, everyone picked it up because it was an environmental issue … What we’re doing now is working on the million green jobs campaign. We’ve set out where we can create jobs in green energy, the insulation of houses and public transport.

“There are many people in the UK right now who are jobless. We’ve been able to build pressure, talk in workplaces, in factories that are closing with people about the links between capitalism and the climate. The workers movement must link up with the environment movement.

“After `The Wave’ [a 50 000-strong demonstration in London on December 5] and after Copenhagen, quite clearly there are a lot of people coming together [to demand action to stop climate change]”, he said.

“It’s not an abstract issue — we’ve had thousands of people on the streets. We’re arguing for a socially just future, not just a future where we survive. That’s where the organised left has got to play a part [in relating to the broader environmental movement]. The green jobs campaign does [make those links] by uniting trade unionists and environmentalists. We strengthen each other.”

Another campaigner involved in the British Workers’ Climate Action group pointed out that so-called “green companies” will, by their nature, be more interested in capitalising on a growing market opportunites and prioritising profit over the environment and their workers’ rights — for Vestas, “wind turbines are just another commodity”.

Market solutions rejected

Many conference participants labelled efforts to impose market solutions — such as offsetting carbon emissions in the first world with “carbon reducing” projects in the Third World that have been shown to trample on the rights of labourers — as a re-colonisation of the global South.

Another activist pointed out that in a recent study, two-thirds of the UN sponsored Clean Development Mechanism offset projects in Europe failed to reduce carbon emissions, and some even increased emissions.

However, carbon trading continues to be advocated as a solution to climate change by pro-business governments. The carbon market is worth US$1.2 trillion a year, according to British economist Nicholas Stern.

Instead of market-friendly solutions offered by the richest countries, which are refusing to equally redistribute wealth and resources, there was a consensus that genuine grassroots democracy could restore capitalism’s chronic ecological and social imbalance.


Roberto Perez, a Cuban biologist and activist, spoke to Green Left Weekly about some of the ways in which Cuba has begun to mend the ecological rift while developing the living standards of its citizens. Having a collective rather than a private, market-based approach to agriculture has built a sense of community among people, and gone a long way to ensure the country’s secure access to food.

“Our urban agriculture receives a lot of support from the local and central government. In 1990, when there was no food, it took us a while to realise that the most reliable way to get food was to grow it ourselves”, Perez explained.

“Not many people reacted like that, they were thinking that something might come, that the market will come up with something magical. The market hasn’t come up with any solutions in Africa. So the government said, ‘let’s organise this’.

“Government support came in the form of giving unused and underused land for agriculture, training more than 12,000 technicians and farmers, funding and the creation of 3000 agricultural clubs for children. Because education in Cuba is free, studying permaculture is free.

“Some of the lessons learned include the importance of equal distribution and access to land. In Cuba, most [industrial] property ownership is collective. We prefer to give access to the land and to production to the people everywhere — small scale, large scale. There was the political will and support, the Cuban government didn’t have much money, but it organised a lot.

“Now we have small farms on workplaces that provide lunch for their workforce. We have 300,000 home plots of land. And we have the urban collective gardens.

“Many people think that as consumers, they have the power to choose. But what do consumers choose? What is in the supermarket. You can choose between brands A, B and C. But out of that, what can you choose? If you grow your own food as a society, that’s power. There are many people who don’t want people to recover that power”, Perez pointed out.

Socialist example

Perez said he believes this model of sustainable growth can be replicated in other poor countries. “Cuba shows the scale you can do this on. [Our socialist, sustainable agricultural and social system] is not marginal, it’s not an eccentricity. All the countries that are facing these crises can do this. We found a way. It’s not perfect. We are growing, planting the future. The past is fossil fuels, the past is inequality.”

The official Copenhagen process has backfired — rather than being a show of global leaders’ political resolve, the talks ceaselessly teetered on collapse. A leaked UN report shows that the deal on offer [in the finals day of the talks] would lead to a disastrous temperature increase of three degrees Celsius.

On this final day of negotiations, the absence of an agreement that legally binds developed countries to warming of two degrees Celsius or less has rendered hollow the hardline rhetoric of leaders like US President Barack Obama, British Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Australian ALP Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

These leaders’ assertion that their actions and emissions pale in significance to those of large developing nations like China and India appears more withered, pathetic and inexcusable than ever before.

Copenhagen has revealed that the power of the rich — the power of the few — is shakier than it seems, that the planet and its people will not accept further inaction, and that the climate justice movement is increasingly prepared to step in where global leaders have failed.

From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #821 9 December 2009.

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December 27th, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Canada's Digging for Gold, Mining Corruption

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One of Africa’s Poorest and Most Embattled Countries is Prey to Canadian Mining Companies Searching for the Last Great Gold mine

by John Lasker

PHOTO: This gold is from a day’s work at Kaniola mine in South Kivu.  Photo credit: Sasha Lezhenev
CANADIAN DIMENSION — The war in Congo is fueled by a thriving gold trade today, with armed groups controlling mines and earning an estimated $50 million last year from selling gold and minerals.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, showing the province of South Kivu.

In the heart of Africa, did a Canadian mining company cut a deal with an infamous and violent African militia that played a major role in the Rwandan genocide of 1994? According to one expert of the militia, known as the “FDLR,” or the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, the mining company has no other choice if it wants to safely dig up billions-of-dollars worth of gold for themselves and their investors.

The mining company with the fever for African gold is the Banro corporation of Toronto. It owns four mines relatively close to each other in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Specifically, the mines are located in the eastern DRC province of South Kivu, a rugged landscape of jungles, volcanoes, and millions of poor Congolese. Still in an exploratory stage, Banro believes that 10 million ounces could be extracted, and if gold stays around US$950 oz., that’s roughly $10 billion.

Now Banro is trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars via the Toronto Stock Exchange so they can begin mining this bonanza, calling it Africa’s last great gold deposit. Banro also boasts about the tax-breaks they’ve been given by a country the UN states is ranked 177th out of 179 on its Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, annual GDP (in the case of the Congolese, $300 a year), literacy rate, and number of school-aged children being educated.

Banro’s Third World adventure is a familiar quest Canadian mining companies have undertaken during the last 20 years. Increasingly restricted by newly enacted environmental legislation in its own home¬land, a Canadian mining company leaves for a nation where the environmental laws are weak and the politician’s cheap. Funding for Banro’s African dig flows easily from the Toronto Stock Exchange. And like a lot of foreign labour, it is also dirt cheap in the eastern DRC—- where artisanal miners gladly work for just a few dollars a day.

According to, 60 percent of all the world’s mining companies are based in Canada, generating $50 billion a year for Canadians. “The Toronto Stock Exchange is the number one (generator) for mining capital in the world,” says Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada, an Ottawa-based mining industry watch-dog group. Taking your operation overseas also saves your country from dealing with the mess: 20 tonnes of waste rock comes from the creation of one gold wedding ring.

But the story of Banro in the Congo has a twist. A risk actually, that some believe could turn into another African nightmare for all involved. The eastern regions of the DRC have been stricken by a decade-long “resource war” — a moniker that former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the UN has used to describe the conflict that has laid siege to the eastern DRC. This resource war has cooled of late, but the threads of peace and stability in the eastern DRC have always proven to be fragile. Thus the possibility of another western-based mining company taking billions of dollars right out from under the feet of the Congolese could create a spark that re-ignites this war.

In the late 1990s, so strong was the lure of eastern DRC gold, casserite, and coltan, that neighbouring countries of Uganda and Rwanda invaded with proxy militias and their own armies. In 2000, the Rwandan military and connected politicians, for instance, made $250 million moving coltan out of eastern DRC to Western-based mining companies and metal traders who then sold the resources to companies that manufactured parts for the likes of Sony and Motorola. Coltan, when processed becomes the powder tantalum, which is used in the making of capacitors — capacitors needed to make cell phones, video game consoles, and computers so valuable to western personal technology.

This conflict, waged in part so the West can have its personal electronics, cost the lives of three to five million Congolese and other Africans, according to many NGOs.

In the Neighbourhood

While Banro’s mines are not directly in the heart of where this resource war was waged the fiercest, their mines are awfully close. Indeed, one of the biggest players in the resource war was the FDLR, which owes its existence to illegal mining. According to FDLR-expert Hans Romkema, director of Conflict and Transition Consultancies of the Netherlands, each of Banro’s four mines are just a few miles from territory control¬led by the militia, which is an estimated 6,000 strong. Romkema has monitored the militia in-country on several expeditions. He says the FDLR, for the most part, is the only military and political force near Banro’s mines — a force that exploits natural resources, controls trade, collects taxes, and dominates the local population. The FDLR is composed of Rwandan Hutus who escaped into the neighbouring eastern forests of the DRC after the 1994 Rwandan genocide and alleged to have played a major role in murdering 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The FDLR aims to overthrow the current Rwandan government, but several FDLR leaders use the movement to protect themselves because they are wanted by the U.S. government and the International Criminal Tribune for crimes committed in 1994.

Romkema reported in 2007 that some Congolese civilians are undergoing military training so the FDLR can indoctrinate them as “Interahamwe” — those who committed genocide. Romkema believes Banro’s mines are too big and no militia “will have the guts to take control over one of those mines.” Thus no Canadian troops or any western-based private army will ever have to be flown into central Africa — hopefully. Over the past 12 months, Congolese and Rwandan government troops, along with UN Peace-keeping forces (there to enforce a peace treaty), have conducted numerous operations to oust the FDLR once and for all. The FDLR are clearly agitated, some fleeing toward Banro’s mines, reported the UN.

“There are widespread reports … of atrocities including accusations of murder, rape, and torture, on the part of the FDLR rebels,” said UN spokesperson Ron Redmond to the newswire Agence France-Press late last summer. Last May, the FDLR struck back, attacking a village in South Kivu killing 60 civilians and 30 government troops, according to the UN. On its website, the FDLR has denied any involvement.

The risk seems too great for any mining company to take the chance, but to hedge their bets, Banro may have no choice but to play “by the rules” of the eastern DRC, Romkema says. Meaning they will have to bribe or make some type of off-the-books agreement with both the Congolese government and whatever militia controls the territory their mine is located in, he says.

“In my view, Banro cannot work, neither in their (mines) without having had some contacts with the FDLR,” says Romkema. “Those contacts can have occurred through an intermediary. But somebody must have passed the message to leave the miners alone.”

Banro’s Martin Jones, a spokesperson from Toronto, refutes Romkema’s claim. “He’s not going to find any FDLR in the neighbourhood,” he said referring to the forests 20 to 40 miles south west of Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, where one of Banro’s mines are. Three years ago an FDLR column passed nearby without incident, which prompts Jones to say the militia is not the concern the NGOs make them out to be.

Exposing the Mine

Nevertheless, the presence of another Canadian mining company near the killing fields of a past conflict waged so the West can have its technological toys raises a potent question: Can Banro reverse the deadly trend of resource-driven wars in Africa by putting millions back into a community which is also heavily employed by Banro?

Jones says Banro is not just interested in Congolese gold. They’ve invested into the area by building several schools, roads, and a potable water system for a region in desperate need of such infrastructure. They also said they will spend $13 million to relocate a small village of 750 Congolese, while also finding work for 800 Congolese miners who are digging “illegally,” as Banro says, near the same mine.

Romkema says if Banro operates in the same way other Western mining companies have in the past in the Congo — illegally and secretly moving resources out of the country and bribing corrupt DRC officials — “They’ll help to maintain the illegal networks that have characterized the DRC for so long and that entirely destroyed the Congolese State.” The FDLR has been part of illegal networks for many years, networks that usually end at Western-based metal brokers, such as Britain’s Afrimex, Bangkok’s Thaisacro, and Belgium’s Trademet, as uncovered earlier this year by Global Witness, a British-based NGO.

Calling out the Companies

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this summer, she railed against the sexual violence that has victimized Congolese women. She also lambasted corrupt DRC officials, calling for more government transparency and accountability. But something was inexplicably missing in her Congo roundtables, even though Congolese journalists tried to prod her about the issue. There was hardly any atonement for the Western-based mining companies and metal brokers who have helped fuel the DRC resource war of the last ten years.

“The future of Africa is up to the Africans. The future, ultimately, of the Congolese people is up to the Congolese people,” she said to journalists.

Someday that may hold to be true. But without question, the recent past of the Congolese was partially dictated by Western-based mining companies and metal brokers. A significant number of them are Canadian, as revealed by a 2001 UN investigation titled “The illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC.” One of the Canadian companies named in the report was Banro while others included First Quantum Minerals and Tenke Mining Corporation, both based in Vancouver. Simply put, these Canadian mining companies and metal brokers are accused of stealing resources from a nation, its people and government, which were overwhelmed by war.

Plundering resources from a nation in the grip of war is in violation of OECD guidelines for multi-national corporations, a voluntary set of moral standards for working in another country established by the think-tank the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in France. But the Canadian government — like many Western governments — are not bound to enforce OECD guidelines.

“The U.S. government was one of the most determined to quash the UN Panel’s reports but this is also true of Canada, the UK and Belgium,” says Tricia Feeney, executive director of the London-based Rights and Accountability in Development or RAID. “All (companies) were exonerated. The UN Panel said the cases had been resolved.”

Just because the UN laid down, says Feeney, doesn’t mean the companies are innocent. “Essentially the UN was forced to drop the case but as they explained (in their reports), ‘resolved’ didn’t mean that the initial allegations were unsubstantiated,” she says. “The (U.S. and Canadian) companies have tried to hide behind the technicality of ‘resolved’ but the UN itself made clear that this classification didn’t mean that the companies had not behaved in the way described in the UN reports.”

Which way will the Canadian government look?

In Ottawa, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada keeps watch on homeland mining companies working overseas. Spokesperson Laura Dalby stated in an email they are closely monitoring Banro’s four mines using trade commissioners based in the DRC capital of Kinshasa. “Canada encourages and expects Banro Corporation to respect all laws and international standards, to operate responsibly, transparently, in full consultation with the DRC government and the local community in which they are conducting their operations,” she wrote.

What’s more, Banro continues to receive “full cooperation and support” from the DRC’s central and provincial governments, she stated. The department is hoping Banro finds a way to boost the eastern DRC out of its war-torn malaise.

“We hope to see positive outcomes as a result of Banro Corporation’s investments and Corporate Social Responsibility activities in the DRC. This is meant to drive forward the country’s industrialization and create new and income-earning opportunities for the fast-growing population,” she wrote.

Just four years ago, however, MiningWatch’s Jamie Kneen said the Canadian government essentially looked the other way following a massacre in which a Canadian mining company played arole. In October of 2004, Anvil Mining, the leading copper producer in the DRC, had to shut down production at their Dikulushi Mine when a so-called “rebellion” took place in a nearby village a rebellion of “10 to 12” villagers that had nothing to do with mining, said Kneen. Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), of the DRC government, proceeded to seize the town, says Kneen, then went door-to-door “raping and pillaging.” Between 70 to 100 civilians were killed including women and children. Kneen said the DRC forces had Anvil’s “full cooperation.” Anvil claimed the DRC forces basically put a gun to their chest. Anvil nevertheless offered up trucks and logistics, says Kneen; trucks that transported troops and dead civilians.

In the aftermath, the Canadian government “refused to investigate because there’s no legal mechanism in place,” says Kneen.

In 2002, Toronto’s Barrick Gold, Canada’s biggest gold miner, was accused by NGOs of making mining agreements with two eastern DRC militias, which at the time were in the midst of murdering hundreds of civilians. In return for the mines, the militias were given housing and trucks, among other appeasements. When some of the rebels were apprehended by government forces, Barrick paid for their lawyers. In December of 2008, a Barrick Gold mine in Tanzania was overrun by hundreds of angry locals, ceasing production. Millions of dollars of damages was reported.

“If the people are not improving their lives as a result of the gold exploitation, it will be easy for rebel groups to recruit amongst the region’s youngsters,” Romkema says of Banro. “I never had the impression that the population (near Banro’s mines) is benefiting anything from the exploitation (or mining) of minerals.”

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Written by thecanadianheadlines

December 26th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Secrecy about UFOs and Extraterrestrials shows the true colours of an aspiring U.S. Global Empire

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by Richard M. Dolan [Excerpted]

  The UFO problem


The UFO problem is a real one. It has involved military personnel around the world for more than fifty years, and is wrapped in secrecy. Over the years, however, enough pieces of the puzzle have emerged to give us a sense of what the picture looks like. What I have tried to do is very simple: to use as many of those pieces as possible in constructing a clear, straightforward, historical narrative of the UFO problem, focusing on the national security dimensions.

Because the subject of UFOs has become little more than a cultural joke, it is important to stress at the outset why it is not a joke, not entertainment, but something worthy of serious attention.

Although stories of strange objects in the sky go far back in time, the problem received little attention until World War II. At that time, military personnel from Allied and Axis countries reported unconventional objects in the sky, eventually known as foo fighters. In retrospect, this development is not so surprising. First, human aviation had become widespread for the first time. Above the clouds, thousands of pilots suddenly had the kind of visibility that no one ever had before. A second reason was the invention of radar, which extended the range of human vision by electronic means. Moreover, it seemed reasonable to assume that the odd sightings were related to the war itself, perhaps experimental technology.

One might have expected such sightings to vanish after the war’s end in 1945. Instead, they increased. In Europe in 1946, then America in 1947, people saw and reported objects that could not be explained in any conventional sense. Wherever sightings occurred, military authorities dominated the investigations, and for perfectly understandable reasons. Unknown objects, frequently tracked on radar and observed visually, were flying within one’s national borders and, in the case of the United States, over sensitive military installations. The war was over. What was going on here?

Initially, some Americans feared that the Soviet Union might be behind the “flying saucer” wave. This possibility was studied, then rejected. At a time when the world’s fastest aircraft approached the speed of 600 mph, some of these objects exceeded – or appeared to exceed – 1,000 mph. What’s more, they manoeuvred like no aircraft could, including right angle turns, stopping on a dime, and accelerating instantly. Could the Soviets really have built something like that? If so, why fly them over all over America and Western Europe? To experts, the idea seemed farfetched at best, and fifty years later, their conclusion stands.

If not Soviet, could the objects have been American? The possibility was studied and rejected for the same reasons. The speed of sound was not broken until October of 1947: was it really credible that, prior to this, the Americans had secretly discovered a hypersonic anti-gravity technology?

During the UFO wave of 1947, all indications are that there were multiple, simultaneous investigations within the American military and intelligence community of these flying saucers. Although the Air Force was officially charged with investigating them, it was never the only game in town. Every service reported and investigated sightings. The FBI investigated UFOs for a while, and by 1948 at the latest, the CIA initiated an ongoing interest.

By the end of 1947, a contingent of analysts at the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base believed that UFOs were extraterrestrial. ATIC was the Air Force’s chief center for evaluating new technology, and as such was a key player in the early investigation of UFOs. By the summer of 1948, this team prepared an “Estimate of the Situation” that landed on the desk of Air Force Commander Hoyt Vandenberg, stating the extraterrestrial thesis. As the story goes, Vandenberg rejected it, either for lack of proof, or because it did not state his desired conclusion. Either way, he made it clear that the Air Force would not accept speculation about extraterrestrials as a solution to UFOs.

Of course, people continued to see these things and wonder what they were. In the summer of 1952, for instance, UFO sightings were so frequent and often of such high quality, it actually appeared to some in the Air Force that an invasion might be under way. Could it really be aliens?

With some help from the secret CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel of January 1953, the Air Force greatly improved censorship over the problem. Still, it never quite went away. Civilian organizations emerged to collect and analyze interesting UFO reports. Complicating matters was the fact that the Air Force had backed itself into a corner. Despite its public contempt for UFOs, it had committed itself to monitoring them as a possible national security threat. Those who criticized the Air Force’s statements about UFOs – and there were many such people – frequently asked, if saucers posed no threat to national security, and existed only in the imagination, why did the Air Force create Project Blue Book to study the reports?

Then came the great UFO wave of 1965 and 1966. The density and quality of sightings made it clear that the Air Force could no longer hide behind weather balloons, swamp gas, or ball lightning. At the same time, it became equally impossible to withstand public scrutiny of the problem. The Air Force therefore funded a scientific study of UFOs by the University of Colorado, known more generally as the Condon Committee, to “settle” the matter once and for all. After two years of suspense, the committee concluded that UFOs were not worthy of scientific study, essentially nonsense. Critics responded that the study itself was worthless, with conclusions that did not match its own data. Moreover, the committee had bad blood among its own members, which resulted in the removal of the “pro-UFO” contingent mid-way through the project. It strongly appeared that the project’s leadership was set on a negative conclusion from the beginning. Rumours spread about control over the committee, either by the Air Force or CIA.

As messy as the Condon Committee was, its report gave the Air Force precisely what it needed: justification to close Blue Book. In December, 1969, the Air Force announced it no longer investigated UFOs. The major civilian investigative organizations also declined rapidly, and people who saw UFOs now had scarcely anywhere to turn.

Let us pause here to assess the situation. What we can see is that, at some point during the mid-1940s, the intelligence apparatus of the United States, as well as of several other nations, had reason to believe that there were artefacts in the skies that did not originate from America, Russia, Germany, or any other country. Within the U.S., these objects violated some highly sensitive military air space, and did not appear to be natural phenomena. One may presume that the affected national security authorities made it an immediate obsession to determine the nature and purpose of these objects, and we may infer that the issue probably became a deep secret by 1946, or 1947 at the latest.

Some will dismiss this all as “conspiracy theory,” one of many dotting the American landscape. In popular culture, the very term serves as an automatic dismissal, as though no one ever acts in secret. Let us bring some perspective and common sense to this issue. The United States is comprised of large organizations – corporations, bureaucracies, “interest groups” and the like – which are conspiratorial by nature. That is, they are hierarchical, their important decisions are made in secret by a few key decision-makers, and they are not above lying about their activities. Such is the nature of organizational behaviour. “Conspiracy,” in this key sense, is a way of life around the globe.

Within the world’s military and intelligence apparatuses, this tendency is magnified to the greatest extreme. During the 1940s, while the military and its scientists developed the world’s most awesome weapons in complete secrecy, the UFO problem descended, as it were, into their lap. Would they be interested in unknown objects snooping around their restricted air space? Would they want to restrict the information they acquired? There is no definite answer, but the known facts indicate this was so.

If we assume, then, that there is a UFO conspiracy, we may ask where it is. Is there a central control group, for example, managing the problem? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. It is possible, even plausible, that no one holding public office today knows what is going on. It may be that a UFO control group existed at one time within the U.S. Department of Defense or the CIA, but there is no absolute reason why such a situation must exist today. Not only is secrecy within those circles axiomatic, but information is so highly compartmentalized that it is easy to imagine how various strands of UFO information could fall into dozens of semi-isolated domains.

Within the military, secrecy remains the rule regarding UFOs. Closing down Project Blue Book did not end UFO reports or investigations. Indeed, the Air Force neglected to mention in its 1969 announcement that Blue Book had never been the main body investigating UFOs; after 1952, its existence was purely a public relations endeavour. Investigations of UFOs continued, and military facilities dealing with super-sensitive information (such as the fabled Area 51 in Groom Dry Lake, Nevada) continued to be the source of UFO-related rumours. But a member of the military would be foolish in the extreme to be caught discussing any of this with the public. In the words of 133rd Airborne Wing officer James Goodell:

“When you go to work on those locations, you sign away your constitutional rights. You sign a piece of paper saying that if you violate your security agreement, and you discuss programs that you were working on, without a trial, without the right of appeal, you’re going to go to the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for twenty years. That’s a real big incentive to keep your mouth shut.”

This refers to the “Oath Upon Inadvertent Exposure to Classified Security Data or Information.” Taken by all personnel exposed to classified information of any kind, it is binding for life, under all circumstances. [1]

The military has taken the UFO issue deep under cover. For the last thirty years, requests to the Air Force or other government bodies about UFOs have elicited the same response:

“From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force investigated Unidentified Flying Objects under Project Blue Book. The project, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated Dec. 17, 1969. Of a total of 12,618 sightings reported to Project Blue Book, 701 remained “unidentified.”

“The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled, “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects;” a review of the University of Colorado’s report by the National Academy of Sciences; previous UFO studies and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

“As a result of these investigations, studies and experience gained from investigating UFO reports since 1948, the conclusions of Project Blue Book were: (1) no UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of threat to our national security; (2) there was no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as “unidentified” represented technological developments or principles beyond the range of modern scientific knowledge; and (3) there was no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as “unidentified” were extraterrestrial vehicles.

“With the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force regulation establishing and controlling the program for investigating and analyzing UFOs was rescinded….

“Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the Air Force. Given the current environment of steadily decreasing defence budgets, it is unlikely the Air Force would become involved in such a costly project in the foreseeable future.” [2]

“We think we’re Luke Skywalker,” says a friend of mine, “when we’re actually Darth Vader.” America is a country with a bad conscience, nominally a republic and free society, but in reality an empire and oligarchy, vaguely aware of its own oppression, within and without. I have used the term national security state” to describe its structures of power. It is a convenient way to express the military and intelligence communities, as well as the worlds that feed upon them, such as defence contractors and other underground, nebulous entities. Its fundamental traits are secrecy, wealth, independence, power, and duplicity.

The UFO cover-up (precisely the right phrase) is one secret among many within the American national security state. Like other areas within its domain, the UFO problem has been handled secretly, with great deception, and significant resources. The secrecy stems from a pervasive and fundamental element of life in our world: that those who are at the top of the heap will always take whatever steps necessary to maintain the status quo.

1. Secrecy. Nearly everything of significance undertaken by America’s military and intelligence community in the past half-century has occurred in secrecy. The undertaking to build an atomic weapon, better known as the Manhattan Project, remains the great model for all subsequent activities. For four years not a single member of Congress even knew about it, although its final cost exceeded the then-incredible total of $2 billion. During and after the Second World War, other important projects, such as the development of biological weapons, the importation of Nazi scientists, terminal mind control experiments, nationwide interception of mail and cable transmissions of an unwitting populace, infiltration of the media and universities, secret coups, secret wars, and assassinations all took place far removed not only from the American public, but most members of Congress and a few Presidents. Indeed, several of the most powerful intelligence agencies were themselves established in secrecy, unknown by the public or Congress for many years.

2. Wealth. Since the 1940s, the U.S. Defense and Intelligence establishment has had more money at its disposal than most nations. In addition to official dollars, much of the money is undocumented. From its beginning, the CIA was engaged in a variety of off-the-record “business” activities that generated large sums of cash. The connections of the CIA with global organized crime (and thus de facto with the international narcotics trade) has been well-established and documented for many years. [6] In addition, the CIA maintained its own private airline fleet which generated a tidy sum of unvouchered funds primarily out of Asia. Finally, much of the original money to run the American intelligence community came from very wealthy and established American families, who have long maintained an interest in funding national security operations important to their interests.

3. Independence. In theory, civilian oversight exists over the U.S. national security establishment. The President is the military Commander-in-Chief. Congress has official oversight over the CIA. The FBI must answer to the Justice Department. In practice, little of this fond theory applied during the period under review. One reason has to do with the secrecy: the compartmentalization of information within military and intelligence circles. “Top Secret” clearance does not clear one for all Top Secret information. Sensitive information is available on a need to know basis. Two CIA officers in adjoining rooms at the Langley Headquarters can be involved in completely different top secret activities, each completely ignorant of the other’s doings. Such compartmentalization not only increases secrecy, but independence from the wrong (e.g. official) kinds of oversight.

Great latitude of activity is not merely the prerogative of the CIA. During the 1950s, President and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower effectively lost control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The situation deteriorated so much that during his final two years in office, Eisenhower asked repeatedly to get an audience with the head Strategic Air Command to learn what America’s nuclear retaliatory plan was. What he finally learned in 1960, his final year in office, horrified him. If a revered military hero such as Eisenhower could not control America’s nuclear arsenal, nor get a straight answer from the Pentagon, how on earth could Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon regarding comparable matters?

4. Power. Secrecy, wealth, and independence add up to power. Through the years, the national security state has gained access to the world’s most sophisticated technology, sealed off millions of acres of land from public access or scrutiny, acquired unlimited snooping ability within U.S. borders and beyond, conducted overt or clandestine actions against other nations, and prosecuted wars without serious media scrutiny. Domestically, it maintains influence over elected officials and communities hoping for some of the billions of defence dollars.

5. Duplicity. Deception is a key element of warfare, and when winning is all that matters, the conventional morality held by ordinary people becomes an impediment. The examples of public deception by national security elements are too many to summarize here, but are provided in the ensuing chapters.

Excerpted from Richard M. Dolan’s book entitled National Security State: An Unclassified History Volume One: 1941 to 1973.

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