Thursday, September 04, 2008

Police State Practice: Republican Convention: USA

Target: Why Journalists are Arrested in America

Why We Were Falsely Arrested

By Amy Goodman

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Government crackdowns on journalists are a true threat to democracy. As the Republican National Convention meets in St. Paul, Minn., this week, police are systematically targeting journalists. I was arrested with my two colleagues, “Democracy Now!” producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, while reporting on the first day of the RNC. I have been wrongly charged with a misdemeanor. My co-workers, who were simply reporting, may be charged with felony riot.

The Democratic and Republican national conventions have become very expensive and protracted acts of political theater, essentially four-day-long advertisements for the major presidential candidates. Outside the fences, they have become major gatherings for grass-roots movements—for people to come, amidst the banners, bunting, flags and confetti, to express the rights enumerated in the Constitution’s First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Behind all the patriotic hyperbole that accompanies the conventions, and the thousands of journalists and media workers who arrive to cover the staged events, there are serious violations of the basic right of freedom of the press. Here on the streets of St. Paul, the press is free to report on the official proceedings of the RNC, but not to report on the police violence and mass arrests directed at those who have come to petition their government, to protest.

It was Labor Day, and there was an anti-war march, with a huge turnout, with local families, students, veterans and people from around the country gathered to oppose the war. The protesters greatly outnumbered the Republican delegates.

There was a positive, festive feeling, coupled with a growing anxiety about the course that Hurricane Gustav was taking, and whether New Orleans would be devastated anew. Later in the day, there was a splinter march. The police—clad in full body armor, with helmets, face shields, batons and canisters of pepper spray—charged. They forced marchers, onlookers and working journalists into a nearby parking lot, then surrounded the people and began handcuffing them.

Nicole was videotaping. Her tape of her own violent arrest is chilling. Police in riot gear charged her, yelling, “Get down on your face.” You hear her voice, clearly and repeatedly announcing “Press! Press! Where are we supposed to go?” She was trapped between parked cars. The camera drops to the pavement amidst Nicole’s screams of pain. Her face was smashed into the pavement, and she was bleeding from the nose, with the heavy officer with a boot or knee on her back. Another officer was pulling on her leg. Sharif was thrown up against the wall and kicked in the chest, and he was bleeding from his arm.

I was at the Xcel Center on the convention floor, interviewing delegates. I had just made it to the Minnesota delegation when I got a call on my cell phone with news that Sharif and Nicole were being bloody arrested, in every sense. Filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films and I raced on foot to the scene. Out of breath, we arrived at the parking lot. I went up to the line of riot police and asked to speak to a commanding officer, saying that they had arrested accredited journalists.

Within seconds, they grabbed me, pulled me behind the police line and forcibly twisted my arms behind my back and handcuffed me, the rigid plastic cuffs digging into my wrists. I saw Sharif, his arm bloody, his credentials hanging from his neck. I repeated we were accredited journalists, whereupon a Secret Service agent came over and ripped my convention credential from my neck. I was taken to the St. Paul police garage where cages were set up for protesters. I was charged with obstruction of a peace officer. Nicole and Sharif were taken to jail, facing riot charges.

The attack on and arrest of me and the “Democracy Now!” producers was not an isolated event. A video group called I-Witness Video was raided two days earlier. Another video documentary group, the Glass Bead Collective, was detained, with its computers and video cameras confiscated. On Wednesday, I-Witness Video was again raided, forced out of its office location. When I asked St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington how reporters are to operate in this atmosphere, he suggested, “By embedding reporters in our mobile field force.”

On Monday night, hours after we were arrested, after much public outcry, Nicole, Sharif and I were released. That was our Labor Day. It’s all in a day’s work.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America.

© 2008 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate


Monday, September 01, 2008

Black Sea Power

Russia remains a Black Sea power
By M K Bhadrakumar

If the struggle in the Caucasus was ever over oil and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) agenda towards Central Asia, the United States suffered a colossal setback this week. Kazakhstan, the Caspian energy powerhouse and a key Central Asian player, has decided to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Russia over the conflict with Georgia, and Russia's de facto control over two major Black Sea ports has been consolidated.

At a meeting in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Thursday on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Moscow could count on Astana's support in the present crisis.

In his press conference in Dushanbe, Medvedev underlined that his SCO counterparts, including China, showed understanding of the Russian position. Moscow appears satisfied that the SCO summit also issued a statement on the Caucasus developments, which, inter alia, said, "The leaders of the SCO member states welcome the signing in Moscow of the six principles for regulating the South Ossetia conflict, and support Russia's active role in assisting peace and cooperation in the region." The SCO comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

There were tell-tale signs that something was afoot when the Kazakh Foreign Ministry issued a statement on August 19 hinting at broad understanding for the Russian position. The statement called for an "unbiased and balanced assessment" of events and pointed out that an "attempt [was made] to resolve a complicated ethno-territorial issue by the use of force", which led to "grave consequences". The statement said Astana supported the "way the Russian leadership proposed to resolve the issue" within the framework of the United Nations charter, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and international law.

The lengthy statement leaned toward the Russian position but offered a labored explanation for doing so.

Kazakhstan has since stepped out into the thick of the diplomatic sweepstakes and whole-heartedly endorsed the Russian position.
This has become a turning point for Russian diplomacy in the post-Soviet space. Nazarbayev said:

I am amazed that the West simply ignored the fact that Georgian armed forces attacked the peaceful city of Tskhinvali [in South Ossetia]. Therefore, my assessment is as follows: I think that it originally started with this. And Russia's response could either have been to keep silent or to protect their people and so on. I believe that all subsequent steps taken by Russia have been designed to stop bloodshed of ordinary residents of this long-suffering city. Of course, there are many refugees, many homeless.

Guided by out bilateral agreement on friendship and cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia, we have provided humanitarian aid: 100 tons have already been sent. We will continue to provide assistance together with you.

Of course, there was loss of life on the Georgian side - war is war. The resolution of the conflict with Georgia has now been shifted to some indeterminate time in the future. We have always had good relations with Georgia. Kazakhstan's companies have made substantial investments there. Of course, those that have done this want stability there. The conditions of the plan that you and [President of France Nicolas] Sarkozy drew up must be implemented, but some have begun to disavow certain points in the plan.

However, I think that negotiations will continue and that there will be peace - there is no other alternative. Therefore, Kazakhstan understands all the measures that have been taken, and Kazakhstan supports them. For our part, we will be ready to do everything to ensure that everyone returns to the negotiating table.

From Moscow's point of view, Nazarbayev's words are worth their weight in gold. Kazakhstan is the richest energy producer in Central Asia and is a regional heavyweight. It borders China. The entire US regional strategy in Central Asia ultimately aims at replacing Russia and China as Kazakhstan's number one partner. American oil majors began making a beeline to Kazakhstan immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 - including Chevron, with which US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was associated.

Unsurprisingly, Kazakhstan figured as a favorite destination for US Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W Bush has lavishly hosted Nazarbayev in the White House.

The US had gone the extra league in cultivating Nazarbayev, with the fervent hope that somehow Kazakhstan could be persuaded to commit its oil to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, whose viability is otherwise in doubt. The pipeline is a crucial component of the US's Caspian great game.

The US had gone to great lengths to realize the pipeline project against seemingly hopeless odds. In fact, Washington stage-managed the "color" revolution in Georgia in November 2003 (which catapulted Mikheil Saakashvili to power in Tbilisi) on the eve of the commissioning of the pipeline. The general idea behind the commotion in the South Caucasus was that the US should take control of Georgia through which the pipeline passes.

Besides, Kazakhstan shares a 7,500 kilometer border with Russia, which is the longest land border between any two countries in the world. It would be a nightmare for Russian security if NATO were to gain a foothold in Kazakhstan. Again, the US strategy had targeted Kazakhstan as the prize catch for NATO in Central Asia. The US aimed to make a pitch for Kazakhstan after getting Georgia inducted into NATO.

These American dreams have suffered a setback with the Kazakh leadership now closing ranks with Moscow. It seems Moscow outwitted Washington.

Belarus voices support the other neighboring country sharing a common border with Russia, Belarus, has also expressed support for Moscow. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visited Medvedev in Sochi on August 19 to express his solidarity.

"Russia acted calmly, wisely and beautifully. This was a calm response. Peace has been established in the region - and it will last," he commented.

What is even more potent is that Russia and Belarus have decided to sign an agreement this autumn on creating a unified air defense system. This is hugely advantageous for Russia in the context of the recent US attempts to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic.

According to Russian media reports, Belarus has several S-300 air defense batteries - Russia's advanced system - on combat duty and is currently negotiating the latest S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010.

Attention now shifts to the meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is scheduled to take place in Moscow on September 5. The CSTO's stance on the crisis in the Caucasus will be closely watched.

It appears that Moscow and Kazakhstan are closely cooperating in setting the agenda of CSTO, whose members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The big question is how the CSTO gears up to meet NATO's expansion plans. The emergent geopolitical reality is that with Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow has virtually checkmated the US strategy in the Black Sea region, defeating its plan to make the Black Sea an exclusive "NATO lake". In turn, NATO's expansion plans in the Caucasus have suffered a setback.

Not many analysts have understood the full military import of the Russian moves in recognizing the breakaway Georgian republics.

Russia has now gained de facto control over two major Black Sea ports - Sukhumi and Poti. Even if the US-supported regime of Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine creates obstacles for the Russian fleet based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol - in all probability, Moscow will shrug off any Ukrainian pressure tactic - the fleet now has access to alternative ports on the Black Sea. Poti, in particular, has excellent facilities dating to the Soviet era.

The swiftness with which Russia took control of Poti must have made the US livid with anger. Washington's fury stems from the realization that its game plan to eventually eliminate Russia's historical role as a "Black Sea power" has been rendered a pipe dream. Of course, without a Black Sea fleet, Russia would have ceased to be a naval power in the Mediterranean. In turn, Russia's profile in the Middle East would have suffered. The Americans indeed had an ambitious game plan towards Russia.

There is every indication that Moscow intends to assert the strategic presence of its Black Sea Fleet. Talks have begun with Syria for the expansion of a Russian naval maintenance base at the Syrian port of Tartus. The Middle East media recently suggested in the context of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Moscow that Russia might contemplate shifting its Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol to Syria. But this is an incorrect reading insofar as all that Russia needs is a supply and maintenance center for its warships, which operate missions in the Mediterranean. In fact, the Soviet navy's 5th Mediterranean Squadron had made use of Tartus port for such purpose.

China shows understanding

Moscow will approach the CSTO summit pleased with the SCO's backing, even it it was not without reservations. Medvedev said of the SCO meeting,
Of course, I had to tell our partners what had actually happened, since the picture painted by some of the Western media unfortunately differed from real facts as to who was the aggressor, who started all this, and who should bear the political, moral and ultimately the legal responsibility for what happened ...

Our colleagues gratefully received this information and during a series of conversations we concluded that such events certainly do not strengthen the world order, and that the party that unleashed the aggression should be responsible for its consequences ... I am very pleased to have been able to discuss this with our colleagues and to have received from them this kind of support for our efforts. We are confident that the position of the SCO member states will produce an appropriate resonance through the international security, and I hope this will give a serious signal to those who are trying to justify the aggression that was committed.
It must have come as a relief to Moscow that China agreed to line up behind such a positive formulation. On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow also seems to have had its first contact with the Chinese Embassy regarding the issue. Significantly, the Foreign Ministry statement said the meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin and Chinese ambassador Liu Guchang took place at the Chinese initiative.

The statement claimed, "The Chinese side was informed of the political and legal motives behind Russia's decision and expressed an understanding of them." (Emphasis added.) It is highly unlikely that on such a sensitive issue, Moscow would have unilaterally staked a tall claim without some degree of prior tacit consent from the Chinese side, which is a usual diplomatic practice.

The official Russian news agency report went a step further and highlighted that "China had expressed its understanding of Russia's decision to recognize Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia".

The favorable stance by Belarus, Kazakhstan and China significantly boosts Moscow's position. In real terms, the assurance that the three big countries that surround Russia will remain on friendly terms no matter the West's threat to unleash a new cold war, makes a huge difference to Moscow's capacity to maneuver. Any time now - possibly this weekend - we may expect Belarus to announce its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Clearly, Moscow is disinterested to mount any diplomatic campaign to rally support from the world community for the sovereignty and independence of the two breakaway provinces. As a Moscow commentator put it, "Unlike in comrade Leonid Brezhnev's time, Moscow is not trying to press any countries into supporting it on this issue. If it did, it could find quite a few sympathizers, but who cares?"

It serves Moscow's purpose as long as the world community draws an analogy between Kosovo and the two breakaway provinces. In any case, the two provinces have been totally dependent on Russia for economic sustenance.

With the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, what matters critically for Moscow is that if the West now intends to erect any new Berlin Wall, such a wall will have to run zig-zag along the western coast of the Black Sea, while the Russian naval fleet will always stay put on the east coast and forever sail in and out of the Black Sea.

The Montreal Convention assures the free passage of Russian warships through the Straits of Bosphorous. Under the circumstances, NATO's grandiose schemes to occupy the Black Sea as its private lake seem outlandish now. There must be a lot of egg on the faces of the NATO brains in Brussels and their patrons in Washington and London.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar
was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.


(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Canada and the Chinese Mafia

One man's China crusade
Donna Jacobs, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, August 25, 2008
For Canadian diplomat Brian McAdam, it wasn't that he had uncovered the lucrative sale of Canadian visas during his posting at Canada's Hong Kong consulate.

Both Canadian and Chinese consular staff, he says, were selling visas to members of the Chinese mafia and Communist China's intelligence service. The price, he heard, ranged from $10,000 to $100,000 per visa.

It wasn't that reports he sent to his bosses in Canada -- details on murderers, money launderers, smugglers and spies trying to enter Canada -- were met with silence or mostly destroyed.
It wasn't dozens of threatening calls -- "Stop what you're doing or you're going to find yourself dead" -- from Triad members during his 1989-1993 stint in Hong Kong.

What finally broke him down, he says, was "the incredible feeling of betrayal from my colleagues. I'd worked with these people for years."

"It goes to your very soul," he says. "It is a spiritual crisis. It is a psychological breakdown."

There was the day he got a phone call from his Hong Kong Police Department source, who was wiretapping a Triad kingpin.

"What shocked the Hong Kong policeman was that the Triad member had phoned someone in the Canadian immigration minister's office in Ottawa," says Mr. McAdam.

"The officer commented: 'With that kind of relationship, you've got a really serious problem.' "

What shocked Mr. McAdam was what the officer said next: The Canadian reassured the Triad boss, "Don't worry about McAdam and what he's doing. We'll take care of him."

And, says Mr. McAdam, they did.

Immigration Canada offered him a good new job in Ottawa. He returned -- and found that his ostracism was complete. His 30-year career in Europe, the Caribbean and Asia was over.

That stunning moment of clarity shut him down, physically and mentally. After two years on medical leave, swinging between hypersomnia -- sleeping 20 hours a day -- and

insomnia, he says he finally did what his bosses and almost all of his co-workers wanted. In 1993, at age 51, he took early retirement.

Though bereft of job, he says, "I felt free of a horrible group of people."

"Ill, depressed and unemployed," he says, "I knew what I'd discovered was profoundly important."

In his 850-page manuscript --working title The Dragon's Deception -- he writes: "I was mocked, demeaned and threatened in a hostile environment while dealing with some of the world's most ruthless criminals. Staff in both Hong Kong and in Ottawa gave copies of my confidential reports about some of the criminals to the gangsters themselves, and that greatly put my life at risk. I received death threats for a number of years but no one has ever been concerned about my safety. The big question (was): Why did Canadian diplomats in Hong Kong and bureaucrats in Ottawa do whatever they could to destroy my work and myself?"

As he tells it, around that time, he was formulating the idea of a formal investigation to verify and enlarge his findings in Hong Kong. By 1995, a dozen CSIS and RCMP officers formally launched their first joint project: Operation Sidewinder

Concealing his ill health, Mr. McAdam supplied the team with extensive documentation of China's criminals and the Communist government's ambitious program of acquisition, espionage and political influence in Canada and around the world.

The RCMP's own more narrow investigation into Mr. McAdam's discoveries -- separate from Sidewinder -- had begun in 1992. They probed incidents of corruption but limited themselves to locally engaged staff -- not Canadians.

A seven-year investigation ensued. Seven RCMP investigators came and went. "As soon as one (Mountie) would investigate, they'd pull him off," Mr. McAdam says. "Another officer would come along, start to make discoveries and would be pulled off."

"I believe both probes (by the Sidewinder team and by the RCMP) had considerable political interference to shut them down," says Mr. McAdam, "and it seemed to be coming from the highest levels."

Mr. McAdam credits David Kilgour, then Liberal MP for Edmonton-Strathcona and secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, for his persistent letters. Mr. Kilgour sent his first letter directly to then-prime minister Jean Chrétien asking for a public inquiry -- which Mr. McAdam had requested and continues to request. However, the government ordered an RCMP probe. Mr. Kilgour later sent letters asking the force to end its delays.

Among the RCMP officers sent to Hong Kong was a 26-year veteran, Cpl. Robert Read, who, in 1996, spent months reviewing and corroborating many of Mr. McAdam's findings. When RCMP Supt. Jean Dubé pulled him off the file in 1997, the Mountie publicly accused him of obstruction -- a charge the RCMP dismissed. Supt. Dubé fired Cpl. Read.

"They fired him to stop the investigation," says Mr. McAdam. Cpl. Read took his case -- the incriminating material, political connections between the Chinese government and Mr. Chrétien's Liberal government, the evidence of a coverup -- to the media.

In 2003, an RCMP external committee confirmed Cpl. Read's findings. It found the RCMP "consistently demonstrated a reluctance to investigate" and ordered the force to rehire him. The RCMP refused. Cpl. Read sued.

Recently retired Giuliani Zaccardelli was RCMP commissioner at the time.

In 2005, Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington heard Cpl. Read's case and upheld the firing for "lack of loyalty to the government." In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the case. Cpl. Read's and Mr. McAdam's stories are told on

The Sidewinder report supported Mr. McAdam. It went further: "They found that crime members with ties to China's military intelligence had invested billions in Canada," says Mr. McAdam, "in high-tech, in computer companies, telecommunication companies."

A few days after Sidewinder's final report was sent to CSIS in 1997, Sidewinder was shut down. CSIS disbanded the team and directed the investigators to destroy every document. Says Mr. McAdam: "It tells you there's a coverup going on."

The Sidewinder team destroyed hundreds of pages of Mr. McAdam's research, his books and his reports.

"I trusted I'd get it all back" -- he laughs at the idea of having to make copies to protect his material from Canadian law enforcement. "I never dreamed this would be the outcome -- all kinds of material, just gone.

"The (Sidewinder) team leader was demoted after submitting the report. He resigned. And CSIS's almost sole China expert also resigned in disgust.

"At least six investigations by the U.S. Senate and Congress, from 1997 to 2003, corroborated Sidewinder's findings," he says. "Though senior management at CSIS maligned the report as 'rumour-laced conspiracy theory,' others saw it as 'groundbreaking' and 'years ahead of the curve.' "

Ward Elcock, who retired in 2004, was CSIS director at the time.

Since then, the FBI has named China as the biggest intelligence threat to the U.S., says Mr. McAdam.

And Canada, he says, is now known as "one of the world's centres for Chinese organized crime and espionage."

Last year, CSIS director Jim Judd testified before the Senate that nearly half of all spies from 15 countries who operate in Canada work for China -- and consume half his counter-espionage resources.

Mr. McAdam says: "I feel better than I have for 15 years. I feel fantastic, tremendous. I feel back to normal."

What saved him? "The love of my wife, Marie. I'd never be alive without her. She nurtured me and cared for me beyond belief." And, he adds, determination. "I wanted to stop Chinese criminals and spies from trying to destroy our country."

These days, although he's never called upon by his own government, Mr. McAdam has started to do international consulting work on global operations -- including Canada -- of the increasingly strong partnership of Chinese intelligence and organized crime.

"I'm on a crusade," he says. "I don't know how to describe it any other way. I don't think we should be selling our country to China."


Next week: McAdam: China's Top 5 Myths

Donna Jacobs is an Ottawa writer; her e-mail address is:


Can NATO Survive?

Can NATO Survive Georgia?
by Immanuel Wallerstein

Amidst all the journalistic brouhaha about a new cold war, most analysts are missing out on the real crisis that has been crystallized by Saakashvili's imprudent excursion into South Ossetia. The very existence of NATO has been put into question. To understand that, we have to go back to the beginning of NATO as an institution and a concept.

The story began in 1947 when the United Kingdom and France signed the Treaty of Dunkirk, pledging mutual assistance in case of a revival of German military aggression. In 1948, this grouping was expanded to include the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg in the Treaty of Brussels, in a move still designed to defend against Germany. Later that year, the five nations set up the Western Union Defence Organization, with a combined chiefs of staff committee. There are two things to note about these treaties. The United States was not part of them, and they were aimed primarily at Germany, not the Soviet Union.

The founding of NATO in 1949 came in the wake of the Berlin Blockade of 1948. NATO in effect nullified the Western Union defense treaties. It was focused not on the dangers of renewed German militarism but on the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union. From the point of view of the United States, NATO served several purposes. It was a message to the Soviet Union that the United States was committed to maintaining the existing boundaries of the division of power in Europe, which had seemed threatened by the Berlin Blockade. It was a method of reconciling the French and the British to the rearmament of West Germany. And it was a way of controlling the military operations of the allies by undoing their nascent military structure and subordinating their troops to a U.S. command.

The political leaders and the majority of the population of western European countries were initially quite favorable to the concept of NATO. For them, it guaranteed that the United States would indeed defend them should the Soviet Union come to think it could violate the Yalta arrangements. And France was now ready to accept West German rearmament as a part of their historic reconciliation. France, however, chafed at the third objective -- keeping French troops under U.S. command, which is what led Charles De Gaulle in 1966 to withdraw from the NATO command structure and require its headquarters to move from Paris to Brussels.

Beginning in the 1970s, western Europe had not only gotten over its worries about Germany but had begun to think that the Soviet Union no longer posed an imminent menace of invasion. Various countries, and not only France, began to think of how they could bring a tamer, post-Stalinist Soviet Union into more intensive cooperation with western Europe. This was notably the case with West Germany's Ostpolitik. And when, in the 1980’s, the idea was broached of a gas pipeline from the Soviet Union to western Europe, this was favorably received even by the United Kingdom under Margaret Thatcher.

The United States was dismayed by these developments. It unsuccessfully opposed the gas pipeline. It sought to discourage all talk of reviving a European army that was not part of NATO. In general, it became considerably less friendly to the idea of Europe as Europe, one that was separate from a North Atlantic community.

The strain was intensified with the collapse of the communisms in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since NATO had been created as a structure to defend western Europe against a Soviet Union governed by a Communist party, what function did NATO now have? The United States was determined to maintain NATO, and sought a new definition of its role. It was also determined not to permit the emergence of an autonomous European structure, delinked from the United States, and worse still, possibly creating the "common European home" that would include Russia, and which Mikhail Gorbachev had proposed.

The immediate structural question for NATO was the issue of expansion -- to include or not the former Soviet satellites, which were now emancipated from their links with the Soviet Union/Russia. The United States pushed hard, almost immediately, for their incorporation into NATO. The western Europeans were less enthusiastic. The former satellites saw their incorporation as their link to the United States, as protection against Russia, and as a gateway to economic betterment. The United States saw their incorporation as a constraint on Russia's possible resurgence but even more as a guarantee that "Europe" would not be able to delink from its U.S. close alliance, since these countries would oppose it. And western Europe was less enthusiastic precisely because they understood what the United States was doing.

The Iraq war exacerbated the situation greatly. Donald Rumsfeld gloated over two Europes -- "old" Europe, which was effete and uncooperative, and "new" Europe, which was committed to the same world objectives as the United States. Actually, in the immediate situation of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were three Europes: Rumsfeld's "new" Europe (that is, the former Soviet satellites); those that refused to join the "coalition of the willing" (notably France and Germany); and those western European countries that in 2003 supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq (notably the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy). France and Germany pulled closer, politically, to Putin's Russia in their common opposition to the United States at the United Nations.

The strain continued. When the United States pushed this year for the launching of the process to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, they met strong opposition not only from France and Germany but from the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy as well. Indeed they had strong support in only four of the eastern European states -- Poland and the three Baltic states. The other eastern European states were reticent as well.

Then came Saakashvili's march into South Ossetia and Russia's vigorous and successful riposte. Poland and the three Baltic states immediately gave full support to Georgia, and the United States a bit less rapidly raised its rhetorical level, and sent in warships with humanitarian aid.

What did western Europe do? Immediately, and without consulting anyone, President Sarkozy of France negotiated a truce in the fighting, and then got the European Union to endorse this fait accompli. Chancellor Merkel of Germany then got into the act with further negotiations with Russia. Even Silvio Berlusconi of Italy was telephoning Putin. All this while, Condoleezza Rice was out of the real diplomatic picture.

Did the diplomacy work? Only of course up to a point, as controversy continues about where Russian troops are presently stationed and Russia's definitive recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But western European statesmen keep making statements about how one should be careful not to cut off ties with Russia. And it seems the most the western European press can do is to scold Russia that it is they who are breaking friendly relations with western Europe. Most revealing of all is the report in the New York Times that Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states are calling not Rice but Angela Merkel, asking her to use her influence to help resolve the situation. Angela Merkel has made it clear that Germany will not be rushed into approving Georgian membership in NATO.

Most remarkable of all is an op-ed in the Financial Times by Kishore Mahbubani, a senior academic in profoundly pro-Western Singapore. Mahbubani says that 10% of the world is united in condemning Russia, and the other 90% "is bemused by western moralising on Georgia." He says Mao Zedong was right in one thing - the distinction between the primary contradiction and the secondary contradictions with which one must always compromise. "Russia is not close to becoming the primary contradiction the west faces." He ends by saying that it is Western "flawed (strategic) thinking" that is causing the world to be a more dangerous place.

The United States is not yet ready to listen to the sage counsel of its own friends in the non-Western world. Western Europe is grappling its way to understanding what's at stake for them. NATO cannot survive the irrelevance of its strategic activity in what Mahbubani calls the "post cold-war era."

Immanuel Wallerstein, Senior Research Scholar at Yale University, is the author of The Decline of American Power: The U.S. in a Chaotic World (New Press).

Copyright ©2008 Immanuel Wallerstein – distributed by Agence Global

Dark Side Of The "Free World"

The Dark Side Of The "Free World"

By Rob Gowland

27/08/08 "The Guardian" -- - The book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, published in mid-July, is written by US journalist Jane Mayer, whose specialty is writing about counter-­terrorism for The New Yorker.

The book has particularly peeved the CIA and its boss in the White House for, apparently, Ms Mayer has had access to a secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross issued last year labelling the CIA’s interrogation methods for "high-level Qaeda prisoners" as "categorically" torture. In consequence, the Bush administration officials who approved these methods would be guilty of war crimes.

The book says the Red Cross report was shared with the CIA, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It would not be the first time of course that US authorities (civil, intelligence or military) have indulged in or turned a blind eye to torture or other forms of horrifying brutality.

One thinks of their blood-soaked activities to thwart the former Communist Resistance leaders from gaining political power in Western Europe after WW2, or their even more bloody destruction of democracy in Guatemala or Chile, El Salvador and pre-Castro Cuba.

The many atrocities by US forces in Korea and Vietnam were far too numerous to be the work of "rotten apples"; they were clearly the result of US government and military policy, just like the actions of the US military in charge of the Abu Graib prison in Iraq.

A society that bases itself on force and brutality, on state terrorism, while simultaneously indulging in the most hypocritical lip-service to the ideals of humaneness and justice, cannot but find excuses for torture.

Only last year or the year before, Amnesty International — an organisation not noted for being hostile to the USA — stated that the procedures in many US civilian jails amounted to torture. Military prisons operated by the US in other countries must surely be hell on earth.

Red Cross representatives were only permitted to interview high-level "terrorist" detainees in late 2006, after they were moved to the military detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Until then, while the prisoners were being "interrogated" in the CIA’s secret prisons, the Red Cross was not given access to them.

It is now well known that these secret prisons are located in US client states, some in Eastern Europe where anti-Communist regimes are all too willing to co-operate with their US backers, and some in states like Egypt that are equally dependent on US support. Significantly, they all practice torture.

We have all seen the images from Guantánamo Bay of prisoners, shackled and manacled, stumbling along with a guard on either side. But all the time, the particularly frightening threat hangs over them of being taken from there and returned to one of the secret prisons away from any prying eyes.

In testimony to the Red Cross, Abu Zubaydah, the first major Al Qaeda figure the United States captured, told how he was confined in a box "so small he said he had to double up his limbs in the foetal position" and was one of several prisoners to be "slammed against the walls".

The CIA has admitted that Abu Zubaydah and two other prisoners were water-boarded, a form of torture in which water is poured in the nose and mouth of the victim to simulate the sensation of suffocation and drowning.

The Pentagon and the CIA have both defended water-boarding on the same grounds: "because it works", the torturer’s classic justification. Jane Mayer’s book says Abu Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he had been water-boarded at least ten times in a single week and as many as three times in a day.

The Red Cross report says that another high level prisoner, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged chief planner of the attacks of September 11, 2001, told them that he had been kept naked for more than a month and claimed that he had been "kept alternately in suffocating heat and in a painfully cold room".

A New York Times article on the report says the prisoners considered the "most excruciating" of the methods was being shackled to the ceiling and being forced to stand for as long as eight hours. This is a well-known torture technique that has severe physical effects on the victim’s body.

According to The New York Times article, eleven of the 14 prisoners reported to the Red Cross that they had suffered prolonged sleep deprivation, including "bright lights and eardrum-shattering sounds 24 hours a day".

The New York Times reported that a CIA spokesman had confirmed that Red Cross workers had been "granted access to the detained terrorists at Guantánamo and heard their claims".

The same CIA spokesman said the agency’s interrogations were based on "detailed legal guidance from the Department of Justice" and had "produced solid information that has contributed directly to the disruption of terrorist activities". There’s that justification of torture again.

Bernard Barrett of the International Committee of the Red Cross declined to comment on the book when asked by The New York Times. He did not deny any of the book’s claims, but regretted "that any information has been attributed to us" because, it seems, the International Committee of the Red Cross "believes its work is more effective when confidential"!

He went on to say: "We have an ongoing confidential dialogue with members of the US intelligence community, and we would share any observations or recommendations with them."

So that’s OK then.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gorilla Radio for Monday, Sept. 1st 2008

GR 04-68 CFUV 101.9FM 104.3 Cable ''
Monday, Sept. 1st, 2008

5:00:00 Welcome to GR etc. And welcome to the fresh-faced first year students here at the University of Victoria as the 2008-2009 school year begins. Many of those hopeful youngsters wandering the campus today, looking for their assigned classrooms are likely unaware of the icy grip the Cold War held over their predecessors here in Victoria and around the world. It was a fearful time, a time of true terror threats; the terror then being a little more immediate than cave-dwelling religious zealots, jealous of "our freedoms." The fear in those dark days was thermo-nuclear war between the countries of the Warsaw Pact and their opposite numbers in NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Only recently has, after nearly sixty years, some of the close calls the world had for a planet-killing finale been made public. Now, it seems George W. Bush's Republican party, after seven bloody years of carnage visited around the world are, in what many view as a desperate last grasp at retaining power, attempting to create a new Cold War. Call it Cold War II.

Last month, retired American fighter pilot, nuclear and rocket scientist, and patriot, Dr. Bob Bowman spoke here in Victoria. Bowman begged the question: "Can Canada escape U.S. takeover?" Dr. Bob Bowman and Canada going down the Armageddon rode with America in the first segment.

And; in the early years of the Cold War, an American president, the country's former number one military man, warned the nation of a "Military Industrial Complex" that threatened the very foundations of democracy in the United States and around the world. Sadly, that president's warnings were not heeded, leading us to where we are today; ruled by militarists and maniacs who have perfected the perpetual war economy. Were Dwight Eisenhower alive today, he may warn of another unholy alliance, rotting the founding priniciples of American. The Prison Industrial Complex picks up at home where the globetrotting militarists leave off; making of American crime and punishment a profits bonanza with little room left for truth, justice, or the American way.

Nat Smith is an organizer with Critical Resistance, an organization formed ten years ago this month to fight the growth of the Prison Industrial Complex. CR10 is getting ready for a mobilization in Oakland, California later this month to commemorate their beginnings, and to reinforce the message more releveant now than it was even then. Nat Smith and shutting down the Prison Industrial Complex in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here to bring us up to speed with all the good goings on in and around Victoria in the coming week. But first, Dr. Bob Bowman asking, "Can Canada Escape U.S. Takeover?"

5:03:00 20:00 Discussion w/ Bob Bowman

Welcome to the show, Bob; America is Canada's long-time ally and its largest and closest trading partner; why would it want to "take us over?"

5:23:00 1:00 Cart(s)
5:24:00 11:00 Janine Bandcroft
5:35:00 3:00 Music
5:38:00 1:00 Cart(s)
5:39:00 20:00 Disscussion w/ Nat Smith

Welcome back to GR, etc. in the early years of the Cold War, an American president, the country's former number one military man, warned the nation of a "Military Industrial Complex" that threatened the very foundations of democracy in the United States and around the world. Sadly, that president's warnings were not heeded, leading us to where we are today; ruled by militarists and maniacs who have perfected the perpetual war economy. Were Dwight Eisenhower alive today, he may warn of another unholy alliance, rotting the founding priniciples of American.

Nat Smith is an organizer with Critical Resistance, an organization formed ten years ago this month to fight the growth of the Prison Industrial Complex. CR10 is getting ready for a mobilization in Oakland, California later this month to commemorate their beginnings, and to reinforce the message more releveant now than it was even then.

"Welcome to the program, Nat; Critical Resistance has been on the Prison Industrial Complex case for a decade now; where do thing stand today, as compared to when this resistance began?"

5:59:00 1:00 Thanks to Dr. Bob Bowan, Nat Smith, J9; upcoming.
6:00:00 --:-- -0-

Goon Squad Try-Outs: Pre-emptive House Raids for Minneapolis RNC


Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis
[updated below (with video) - Update II - Update III]

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as "Do you have Terminator ready?" as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.

Several of those who were arrested are being represented by Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild. Nestor said that last night's raid involved a meeting of a group calling itself the "RNC Welcoming Committee", and that this morning's raids appeared to target members of "Food Not Bombs," which he described as an anti-war, anti-authoritarian protest group. There was not a single act of violence or illegality that has taken place, Nestor said. Instead, the raids were purely anticipatory in nature, and clearly designed to frighten people contemplating taking part in any unauthorized protests.

Nestor indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is "conspiracy to commit riot." Nestor, who has practiced law in Minnesota for many years, said that he had never before heard of that statute being used for anything, and that its parameters are so self-evidently vague, designed to allow pre-emeptive arrests of those who are peacefully protesting, that it is almost certainly unconstitutional, though because it had never been invoked (until now), its constitutionality had not been tested.

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.

UPDATE: Here is the first of the videos, from the house that had just been raided:

Jane Hamsher has more here, and The Minnesota Independent has a report on another one of the raided houses, here.

UPDATE II: Here is the video we took from the second house as the raid was occurring. We were barred from entering but spoke with neighbors outside as well as with Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota Lawyer's Guild, regarding these raids:

Over at FDL, Lindsay Beyerstein spoke with the property owner whose house -- the fourth one we now know of -- was being raided while the raid was in progress, and Lindsay has details here ("About an hour and a half ago 20 to 30 heavily armed police officers surrounded the house. One of my roommates said 'I want to see a warrant' and she was immediately detained"). Meanwhile, Indy Media of Twin Cities -- an association of independent journalists in the area -- just told me that several of their journalists have been detained while trying to cover these raids. Their site, with ongoing updates, is here.

The Uptake also has several reports of the various raids, including video of the raid at the property whose owner Bernstein spoke with as the raid occurred. That video includes an interview with a lawyer from the National Lawyer's Guild who was detained and put in handcufffs, explaining that the surrounded house is one where various journalists are staying. Additionally, a photojournalist with Democracy Now was detained at that house as well. So, both journalists and lawyers -- in addition to protesters -- have been detained and arrested even though not a single violent or criminal act has occurred.

UPDATE III: FDL has the transcript of part of my discussion about these raids with the National Lawyer Guild's Minnesota President -- here.

The Uptake has this amazing video interview with the Democracy Now producer who was detained today. As the DN producer explains, she was present at a meeting of a group called "I-Witness" -- which videotaped police behavior at the 2004 GOP Convention in New York and helped get charges dismissed against hundreds of protesters who were arrested. The police surrounded the St. Paul house where they were meeting even though they had no warrant, told them that anyone who exited the house would be arrested, and then -- even though they finally, after several hours, obtained a warrant only for the house next door -- basically broke into the house, pointed weapons at everyone inside, handcuffed them, searched the house, and then left. Here is a blog post from one of the members of I-Witness asking for help during the time when they were forced to stay inside the house (see the second post -- it reads like a note from a hostage crying out for help). This is truly repugnant, extreme police behavior designed to intimidate protesters, police critics and others, and it ought to infuriate anyone and everyone who cares about basic liberties.

-- Glenn Greenwald