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[Bernie Sanders] Hillary Clinton's Top VP Pick Lets Big Banks Know He's In Their Corner

Submitted by Deirdre Fulton via CommonDreams.org,

Sounding another alarm for progressives wary of the Democratic establishment's support for Wall Street, the man said to be leading the pack of potential Hillary Clinton running mates - Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine - has just this week sent a clear message to big banks: He's in their corner.

Kaine, who is reportedly Bill Clinton's favorite for the vice presidential slot, signed onto two letters on Monday pushing for financial deregulation - letters that show the Clinton camp "how Kaine could be an asset with banking interests on the fundraising trail," according to David Dayen at The Intercept on Wednesday.

"Let's be really clear: It should be disqualifying for any potential Democratic vice presidential candidate to be part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy."

 

—Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America

The news should "disqualify" Kaine from the ticket, one prominent progressive group declared Thursday.

The first missive, signed by 16 Democrats and every Republican senator, calls on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to exempt community banks and credit unions from certain regulations.

As Dayen explains:

While this seems benign, tailoring rules that exempt large classes of financial institutions leaves consumers vulnerable to deceptive practices. A rule of this type could allow community banks and credit unions to sell high-risk mortgages or personal loans without the disclosure and ability to pay rules in place across the industry.

The second letter (pdf) deals with even bigger regional institutions, as it is aimed at helping "major firms including Capital One, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank, all of which control hundreds of billions of dollars in assets," according to the Huffington Post.

Signed by Kaine and three other Democratic senators—Mark Warner (Va.), Gary Peters (Mich.), and Bob Casey (Pa.)—the letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chair Martin Gruenberg "argues that it is unfair for these large banks to be required to calculate and report their liquidity?a critical measure of risk?on a daily basis," HuffPo's Zach Carter continues.

"This distinction is applied unevenly across regional institutions despite similar risk profiles, simply by virtue of an asset threshold," the letter reads.

Or, as Carter puts it, translating the senators' bottom line: "just because they're big, doesn't mean they should be regulated more closely."

Kaine for VP provides "a perfect example of why the party needs to create policies and pick candidates who reflect the will of the voters, not the will of elites and special interests that the superdelegate system has come to embody."

 

—Diane Russell, Maine State Representative

But in fact, Dayen points out, "[i]n an interconnected financial system, a large regional bank that gets into trouble has as much chance of creating ripple effects as a mega-bank. It's unclear why they should be exempted from regulations deemed appropriate for all facets of the financial sector."

On top of these salvos on behalf of the banking industry, the Huffington Post notes that Kaine did not sign onto a third letter sent Wednesday from 28 senators urging the CFPB to crack down on abusive payday lenders and in turn, protect consumers. 

That all this took place while Kaine is presumably being vetted for VP "could show potential financial industry donors that he is willing to serve as an ally on their regulatory issues," Dayen wrote, especially because Clinton has been pushed to the left by Bernie Sanders on Wall Street.

Given existing concerns around Kaine's support for the Trans Pacific Partnership and other so-called "free trade" deals, plus his mixed record on reproductive rights and now new proof of his bending to bankers, it's no wonder RootsAction co-founder and Bernie Sanders delegate Norman Solomon told Common Dreams on Wednesday that choosing the Virginia senator or someone like him "would be a very pronounced middle finger to the 13 million people who voted for Bernie."

Indeed, in a press statement on Thursday, critics of the Democratic Party's superdelegate system said Kaine's position at the top of the VP list provides "a perfect example of why the party needs to create policies and pick candidates who reflect the will of the voters, not the will of elites and special interests that the superdelegate system has come to embody."

"Superdelegates are the embodiment of a system that is rigged in favor of the powerful at the expense of the powerless," said Maine state representative Diane Russell, who originated an amendment to abolish superdelegates that will be taken up by the DNC Rules Committee on Saturday, "and there isn't a more powerful industry in America than the big banks."

And Democracy for America executive director Charles Chamberlain said in a statement Thursday:

"Let's be really clear: It should be disqualifying for any potential Democratic vice presidential candidate to be part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy."

 

"Our presidential ticket cannot beat the billionaire bigot by simply being not-Donald Trump," he added. "To win in November, our ticket needs to have an unquestionably strong record in the fight against income inequality, one of the defining issues of the 2016 election."

Published:7/22/2016 1:26:18 AM
[Florida] Black Lives Matter Activist DeRay McKesson Arrested In Baton Rouge

For the third consecutive day, protests against police violence (and less so the deadly retaliation by Micah Johnson) continued on Saturday night across America and shut down key roadways and transportation arteries in a number of U.S. cities on Saturday, resulting in mass arrests. The protests stretched into early Sunday morning in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, where tensions are most raw after the deaths of Alton Sterling in the Louisiana city and of Philando Castile in a St. Paul suburb.

While thousands of mostly peaceful demonstrators flooded the streets of major U.S. cities again Saturday night, a protest in St. Paul took a particularly violent turn, with participants hurling Molotov cocktails, fireworks, rocks, glass bottles, concrete slabs, and bricks at riot gear-wearing police officers.  Police said on Twitter that people on an overpass were "throwing objects at officers, dumping liquid on officers" and others were throwing rocks and rebar. Police were heard telling the crowd, "leave the interstate now or you'll be subject to a use of force" shortly after 10:30 p.m. Police blamed "aggressors" for throwing objects at officers, and said police were using "marking rounds." Five officers were injured, and two were taken to the hospital. All are expected to be okay.

Authorities used smoke bombs when 200 protesters refused to leave the roadway just after midnight. By 12:45 a.m. Sunday, police said they were clearing debris from the road in order to reopen the highway.

Between the demonstrations in Baton Rouge and St. Paul alone, there were more than 200 arrests.

But the most notable overnight arrest was that of DeRay McKesson, one of the leaders and most prominent activists of the Black Lives Matter protest movement, who as WaPo reports, was arrested in Baton Rouge, where he traveled earlier Saturday "to demonstrate in solidarity with residents angered by the recent death of Alton Sterling after an officer-involved shooting that was captured on video." McKesson was taken into custody around 11 p.m.

Activist DeRay McKesson is taken into police custody during a protest along
Airline Highway in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters

“The officers won’t give their names,” said Brittany Packnett, a co-founder with McKesson of the group Campaign Zero, a prominent activist collective. “He was clearly targeted.” She later tweeted that 100 people were arrested in Baton Rouge. There was no immediate official confirmation of that figure.

Packnett said McKesson was using his smartphone to live-stream the ongoing protests when police began forcibly dispersing the crowds. As McKesson and a group of about eight people walked down the street, an officer approached him and told him that he had been “flagged” and that if he left the sidewalk again he would be arrested. Moments later, she said, two officers forcefully arrested McKesson.

“They tackled him. One officer hit the top of his body and another officer the bottom,” Packnett said. The altercation knocked the phone from McKesson’s hand, ending his live broadcast of the demonstration, she said.

Blurry video of the moments before McKesson was taken into custody provided to The Washington Post captures his verbal exchange with the officers.

“The police continue to just provoke people,” McKesson said after an officer yells to a group of people that if they step on the roadway they will be arrested. Then an officer says the man in the “loud shoes” has been “flagged”: “You in them loud shoes, if I see you in the road, if I get close to you, you’re going to jail,” an officer can be heard saying on the video. In response, Packnett says, “We’re on the shoulder. There is no sidewalk, sir.”

McKesson is known for wearing a pair of red Nike sneakers and a blue vest to all protests he attends.

Activists continued to talk as they walked up the side of the street. Moments later, an officer’s voice is heard. “City police, you’re under arrest.” “What?!” McKesson exclaims. “I’m under arrest y’all.” Then the video and audio feed cuts out.

In a text message from police custody, McKesson said he and 33 others were in custody together, wrists tied, and being taken to a police precinct.

The reaction was quick: news of McKesson’s arrest exploded on social media, with more than 100,000 tweets before dawn using the hashtag #FreeDeray. Many urged people to call Baton Rouge police and demand his release.

As CNN's Brian Stetler noted after the arrest, "when you have someone that is relatively well-known and now trending on twitter, it does create more attention both for the protests and for the arrests."

A police spokesman confirmed his arrest to The Advocate newspaper, but did not elaborate on potential charges and did not return a request for comment from The Post. As Saturday night became Sunday morning, there was no word on what charges McKesson might be facing. But a website for a local jail showed that McKesson was an inmate there as of Sunday. McKesson called a friend in Baltimore around 5:30 a.m. and told her he was in okay physical condition but did not know when he would be released, the friend told The Post.

* * *

Meanwhile, protests continued around major US cities.

The St. Paul protesters, who kicked off the night at 8 p.m. from the governor's mansion, forced the closure of Interstate 94. Some threw objects and dropped liquids from overpasses on officers below. Others directed laser pointers at officers. Police responded shortly after midnight with inert, glass balls and smoke to clear about 200 demonstrators who were blocking the interstate, which opened early Sunday morning. Pepper spray was also used on some protesters.

Protester Mike Martin told The Associated Press he was pepper sprayed by a police officer on a pedestrian bridge overlooking the interstate. He claimed he was trying to move the crowd along and keep the peace. "I guess I wasn't moving fast enough for him," Martin said. "He just got it out and bam, I saw a cloud. It's burning pretty bad."

In Baton Rouge masses of people also took to the streets. Demonstrators gathered at the convenience store where Sterling was shot before making their way to the Baton Rouge police department and the state Capitol. Baton Rouge resident Marie Flowers, who lives in the same neighborhood where Sterling was killed, came to the protest with her three children. "Black boys are being killed and this is just the culmination of what has been going on for decades," she told The AP. According to East Baton Rouge Sheriff public information officer Casey Hicks, there 101 arrests overnight related to the protest.

About 1,000 protesters faced off against riot gear-wearing police officers, while shouting "No justice! No peace!" Members of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense were also present, shouting "Black Power" and raising their fists. The protests died down a little after midnight.

Two weapons were confiscated, according to a police spokesman.

It was during this protest that McKesson was arrested.

Other cities where demonstrators took to the streets per ABC:

New York, N.Y.: Hundreds of people descended upon Union Square and marched uptown, chanting "Black lives matter" and "No justice, no peace." By the end of the demonstration, about 1,000 people had taken part. An NYPD spokesman said there were 20 arrests. The charges were unknown.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Hundreds of people took part in a six-hour march to two police precincts, shouting slogans while facing off with officers.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Several hundred people, some of whom were affiliated with Black Lives Matter, broke off from the city's 200th anniversary parade to march from Point State Park to the county courthouse.

Newport, Rhode Island: More than 150 people gathered in downtown Newport to listen to Black Lives Matter speakers.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Hundreds of Black Lives Matter supporters marched throughout the city, stopping outside a Broward County jail, where prisoners banged on windows in support. Other demonstrations were held in neighboring West Palm Beach and Miami. 

San Antonio, Texas: Shortly before 10 p.m. local time, someone had shot at the San Antonio Police Department headquarters, leaving no one injured, but police leaders anxious given the slayings of five officers in Dallas on Thursday.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Black Lives Matters supporters gathered in the city's downtown, where speakers addressed racial inequality and police violence.

San Francisco, California: Several roads and ramps to get on and off the Bay Bridge were blocked by demonstrators, who kicked off their march from the city's Hall of Justice. And in central California, hundreds of people blocked intersection in Fresno.

Published:7/10/2016 7:17:54 AM
[World] Confirmation Chaos and Constitutional Corruption

Ilya Shapiro

Within hours of hearing the news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his caucus would not be holding any hearings or votes on a replacement nominee until after the election. “Let the people decide” became the rallying cry of the Republican majority, and all of the party’s members on the Senate Judiciary Committee signed a letter pledging fidelity to the #NoHearingsNoVotes plan.

When President Obama announced the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland a month later, nothing really changed: this wasn’t about the nominee’s qualifications, but an argument from the political principle that the gaping hole left by a jurisprudential giant shouldn’t be filled until the voters in a polarized nation — who reelected Obama in 2012 but then handed the Senate to the GOP in 2014 — could have their say.

This seemed like unprecedented obstructionism, though historically plenty of judicial nominees have never gotten hearings or votes, and the last time that a Senate confirmed a nomination made by a president of the opposing party to a high-court vacancy arising during a presidential election year was in 1888. Indeed, under recent Republican presidents, Democratic senators ranging from Joe Biden to Chuck Schumer to Harry Reid announced that they wouldn’t consider any new nominees until after the election.

That’s literally their prerogative: Just like the Senate can decline to take up a bill passed by the House, or a treaty signed by the president, it can surely decide how to exercise its constitutional power to “advice and consent” on judicial nominations. This is purely a political matter, with the Senate staking out how it wants to exercise its power and the voters being the ultimate judges, as it were, of that tactic. Indeed, if the Senate decided not to confirm any nomine to any position, it could do so — and likely pay a high political price unless the president were so compromised as to lack any popular legitimacy whatsoever.

Why the Push to Fill the Vacancy?

Why has it come to this? Why all the focus on one office, however high it might be? Sure, it’s an election year, but that doesn’t mean that governance grinds to a halt. If Secretary of State John Kerry died or resigned, it would certainly be a big deal — with Republicans grilling his would-be successor on President Obama’s foreign-policy record — but there’s no doubt that the slot would be filled if someone with generally appropriate credentials were nominated. Even a vacancy in the vice-presidency wouldn’t last unduly long, though Republicans would jockey to extract concessions for not having Speaker Paul Ryan be President Obama’s designated successor (even if for mere months).

But of course executive appointments expire at the end of the presidential term, while judicial appointments long outlast any president. To take an extreme example, an important ruling on donor-list disclosures was made this past April by a district judge appointed by Lyndon Johnson. Justice Scalia himself served nearly 30 years, giving President Reagan legal-policy agenda a bridge well into the 21st century. And let’s not forget that the Scalia-less Supreme Court stands starkly split 4-4 on so many controversial issues: campaign-finance law, the Second Amendment, religious liberty, executive and regulatory power, to name just a few. In this already bizarre 2016 election, legal pundits have finally gotten their wish that judicial nominations are firmly among the top campaign issues.

If we want to have the rule of law, we need judges to interpret the Constitution faithfully and strike down laws when government is exceeding its authority.

Moreover, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the bitter confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. HBO aired a reenactment called “Confirmation,” which itself was controversial, reopening old political wounds regarding its portrayal of what Thomas referred to as a “high-tech lynching.” Justice Thomas received the narrowest Supreme Court confirmation in more than a century, 52-48 — and this less than four years after the failed nomination that ushered in the poisonous modern era of confirmation battles, that of Judge Robert Bork in 1987.

Senate Democrats had warned that nominating Bork would provoke a fight unlike any President Reagan had faced over judges — after Scalia’s unanimous confirmation the previous year. And so, the very day that Reagan nevertheless announced this pick, Ted Kennedy went to the floor of the Senate to denounce “Robert Bork’s America,” which is a place “in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.” It went downhill from there, as the irascible Bork — with an irascible beard — refused to adopt the now well-worn strategy of talking a lot without saying anything. A few years later, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would refine that tactic into a “pincer movement,” refusing to comment on specific fact patterns because they might come before the Court, and then refusing to discuss general principles because “a judge could deal in specifics only.”

History of Confirming Justices

Confirmation processes weren’t always like this. The Senate didn’t even hold public hearings on Supreme Court nominations until 1916 — and that innovation was driven by the unusual circumstances of (1) the resignation of a justice (Charles Evans Hughes) to run against a sitting president (Woodrow Wilson) and (2) the first Jewish nominee (Louis Brandeis). It wouldn’t be until 1938, with (also-Jewish) Felix Frankfurter, that a judicial nominee actually testified at his own hearing. In 1962, the part of Byron White’s hearing where the nominee himself testified lasted less than 15 minutes and consisted of a handful of questions, mostly about the Heisman-runner-up’s football-playing days.

What’s changed? Is it TV and social media, the 24-hour news cycle and the viral video? Is it that legal issues have become more ideologically divisive? No, it isn’t that there’s been a perversion of the confirmation process, increasingly demagogic political rhetoric, or even the use of filibusters. Those are symptoms of the underlying problem, a relatively new development but one that’s part and parcel of a much larger problem: constitutional corruption.

As government has grown, so have the laws and regulations over which the Court has power. All of a sudden, judges are declaring what Congress can do with its great powers, what kind of law the executive branch can write into the Federal Register, and what kinds of new rights will be recognized.  As we’ve gone down the wrong jurisprudential track since the New Deal, the judiciary now has the opportunity to change the direction of public policy more than it ever did. So of course judicial nominations and confirmations are going to be more fraught with partisan considerations.

This wasn’t always a problem — in the sense that partisanship didn’t really mean that much other than rewarding your cronies. It’s a modern phenomenon for our two political parties to be so ideologically polarized, and therefore for judges nominated by presidents from different parties to have notably different views on constitutional interpretation.

Under the Founders’ Constitution, under which the country lived under for its first 150 years, the Supreme Court hardly ever had to strike down a law. If you read the Congressional Record of the 18th and 19th centuries, Congress debated whether legislation was constitutional, much more than whether it was a good idea. Debates focused on whether something was genuinely for the general welfare or whether it only served, for example, the state of Georgia. “Do we have the power to do this?” was the central issue with any aspect of public policy.

In 1887, Grover Cleveland vetoed an appropriation of $10,000 for seeds to drought-stricken Texas farmers because he could find no constitutional warrant for such action. In 1907, in the case of Kansas vs. Colorado, the Supreme Court said that “the proposition that there are legislative powers affecting the nation as a whole although not expressed in the specific grant of powers is in direct conflict with the doctrine that this is a government of enumerated powers.”

The Changing Role of Judges

We also had a stable system of unenumerated rights that went beyond those listed in the Bill of Rights to those retained by the people per the Ninth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment was similarly redundant of the whole structure: the idea is that we have a government of delegated and enumerated — and therefore limited — powers.

Judges play much larger roles today. The idea that the General Welfare Clause says that the government can essentially regulate any issue as long as the legislation fits someone’s conception of what’s good — meaning, that you get a majority in Congress — emerged in the Progressive Era and was codified during the New Deal. After 1937’s so-called “switch in time that saved nine” — when the Supreme Court began approving grandiose legislation of the sort it had previously rejected — no federal legislation would be struck down until 1995. The New Deal Court is the one that politicized the Constitution, and therefore too the confirmation process, by laying the foundation for judicial mischief of every stripe — be it letting laws sail through that should be struck down or striking down laws that should be upheld.

This is not about the tired old debate about “activism” versus “restraint.” So long as we accept that judicial review is constitutional and appropriate in the first place — how a judiciary is supposed to ensure that the government stays within its limited powers without it is beyond me — then we should only be concerned that a court “get it right,” regardless of whether that correct interpretation leads to the challenged law being upheld or overturned. For that matter, an honest court watcher shouldn’t care whether one party wins or another. To paraphrase John Roberts at his confirmation hearings, the “little guy” should win when he’s in the right, and the big corporation should win when it’s in the right. The dividing line, then, is not between judicial activism and judicial restraint (passivism?), but between legitimate and vigorous judicial engagement and illegitimate judicial imperialism.

In that light, the recent confirmation battles — whether you look at Bork, Thomas, the filibustering of George W. Bush’s lower-court nominees, or the scrutiny of Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment — are all a logical response to political incentives. When judges act as super-legislators, senators, the media, and the public want to scrutinize their ideology and treat them as if they’re confirming lifetime super-politicians — and rightfully so.

Judges as Super-legislators

Sure we can tinker around the edges of the appointment process with bipartisan commissions, or have set terms or fixed retirement ages — or we could have scheduling requirements for when hearings and votes have to occur after a nomination — but all that is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. And the Titanic is not the judicial-nominations process, but rather the ship of government. The fundamental problem is the politicization not of the process but of the product, of the role of government, which began with the Progressive Era politically and was institutionalized during the New Deal.

Justice Scalia described this phenomenon in his dissent from the 1992 abortion ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey:

[T]he American people love democracy and the American people are not fools. As long as this Court thought (and the people thought) that we Justices were doing essentially lawyers’ work up here — reading texts and discerning our society’s traditional understanding of that text — the public pretty much left us alone. Text and traditions are facts to study, not convictions to demonstrate about. But if in reality our process of constitutional adjudication consists primarily of making value judgments; if we can ignore a long and clear tradition clarifying an ambiguous text … then a free and intelligent people’s attitude towards us can be expected to be (ought to be) quite different. The people know that their value judgments are quite as good as those taught in any law school — maybe better.

Enforcing the Founding Document

Ultimately judicial power is not a means to an end, be that liberal, conservative or anything else, but instead an enforcement mechanism for the strictures of the founding document. We have a republic, with a constitutional structure intended just as much to curtail the excesses of democracy as it was to empower its exercise. In a country ruled by law and not men, the proper response to an unpopular legal decision is not to call out the justices at a State of the Union address but to change the law or amend the Constitution.

Any other method leads to a sort of judicial abdication and the loss of those very rights and liberties that can only be vindicated through the judicial process — which by definition is counter-majoritarian. Or it could lead to government by black-robed philosopher kings. Even if that’s what you want, why would you hire nine lawyers for the job?!

So if we want to have the rule of law, we need judges to interpret the Constitution faithfully and strike down laws when government is exceeding its authority. Depoliticizing the judiciary is a laudable goal, but that’ll happen only when judges go back to judging rather than merely ratifying the excesses of the other branches while allowing infinite intrusions into economic liberties and property rights. Until that time, it’s absolutely appropriate to question judicial philosophies and theories of constitutional interpretation — and to vote accordingly.

Regardless of what happens to the Garland nomination or who’s president come January 2017, the battle for control of the third branch of government will continue — as will the attention paid to the resulting confirmation battles.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review.
Published:6/28/2016 8:50:36 AM
[Socialism] NPR + NYT: A Recipe for Cluelessness (John Hinderaker) What happens when a National Public Radio host interviews a New York Times reporter on the subject of Venezuela’s economic collapse? You get a perfect storm of cluelessness. The host is Terry Gross, the guest is New York Times reporter Nicholas Casey, and the program is Fresh Air. Gross asks Casey about the utter disaster that Venezuela has become. Casey understands the depth to which Venezuela has fallen–he lives in Published:6/11/2016 7:46:24 PM
[TC] YouTube star and Beme founder Casey Neistat is coming to Disrupt NY 2016 AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12:  Director Casey Neistat speaks onstage during "Breaking Barriers: How Content Will Accelerate VR and 360" at The Samsung Studio at SXSW 2016 on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung) Popular YouTuber Casey Neistat has a knack for viral hits. He’s called out Apple, blew through the entirety of Nike’s #MakeItCount filming budget traveling around the world and still got the shoe brand to showcase the video on its site, and Neistat most recently gained notoriety for snowboarding on the back of a Jeep through New York City during the January 2016 snowstorm.… Read More
Published:3/31/2016 5:00:25 AM
[Abu Dhabi] Why Did the 9/11 Commission Not "Follow the Money?", by Lars Schall

In the below article, independent investigative journalist Lars Schall explores the time-honored tradition of following the money in an attempt to discover answers to yet unanswered questions regarding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York City. Here is his report below.

 


Why Did The 9/11 Commission Not “Follow the Money”?

 

Lars Schall has put some material together that brings him to the question why the time-proven approach to “follow the money” was dismissed when it came the funding of the biggest terror attack on US soil.

By Lars Schall

 


Bill:

Howdy! I am an investigative financial journalist from Germany, who’s in the process of finishing a book trilogy on the topic of the so-called “Deep State”. Related to that project, I examined the case of a software program called the Prosecutor's Management Information System (PROMIS), a database system developed by INSLAW Inc., a U.S. information technology company, which was founded by William A. Hamilton, a former analyst with the National Security Agency (NSA). Indeed, in mid-2012, when he became aware of my research connected to PROMIS, Mr. Hamilton contacted me to ask me for help with investigating some certain aspects of the PROMIS case.'

 

Here’s a recent confirmation for this fact.

 

Lars:


I am pleased to confirm that I contacted you for help in investigating aspects of the INSLAW Affair in which the U.S. Department of Justice secretly misappropriated the PROMIS legal case management software from INSLAW, Inc., one of its software vendors, and disseminated stolen copies beyond the U.S. Department of Justice for U.S. and Israeli intelligence database projects, including NSA's Follow the Money Project for real-time electronic surveillance of wire transfers of money and letters of credit through the banking system; Israel's sale of a version of PROMIS equipped with a special data retrieval capability to foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies of both friendly and adversarial governments worldwide to facilitate the theft of their intelligence secrets while producing profits for intelligence insiders; the CIA's deployment of PROMIS to virtually every component of the U.S intelligence community as ’compatible database software’ for the gathering and dissemination of U.S. intelligence information between and among the entities that ’produce’ the intelligence information and the entities that ’consume’ the intelligence product; the CIA's deployment of PROMIS to the leading semi-conductor manufacturers in the world so NSA could exercise real-time electronic surveillance of the manufacturing and illicit sale of integrated circuits engineered for advanced defense and military applications; and the sale by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proprietary company in Cyprus to the drug interdiction entities of Middle Eastern governments of a back-door version of PROMIS so DEA could augment its own drug trafficking intelligence information with the intelligence information stolen from these Middle Eastern governments.

Bill Hamilton

Founder and President INSLAW, Inc.

Washington, D.C.

 

The Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS) was originally developed by INSLAW for the US Justice Department. However, according to Guy Lawson’s book entitled Octopus, that sophisticated piece of software “had been so successful that the American intelligence agency apparatus had secretly stolen the software to put it to use covertly. The CIA had reconfigured the code and installed it in 32-bit Digital Equipment Corporation VAX minicomputers. The agency had used front companies to sell the new technology to banks and leading financial institutions like the Federal Reserve. Hidden inside the computer was a ‘trapdoor’ that enabled intelligence agencies to covertly monitor financial transactions digitally for the first time. (…) In Bob Woodward’s book Veil, former CIA director William Casey said the secret money-tracking system had been one of his proudest achievements. (1)

 

In May 1998, Dr. Norman Bailey published a monograph entitled The Strategic Plan That Won The Cold War, which references the importance of NSA’s Follow the Money Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) mission and also includes a Foreword written by William P. Clark, President Reagan’s National Security Advisor in 1982 and 1983, extolling the role of Reagan’s NSC staff in “bringing about the end of the cold war.” (2) Dr. Bailey also acknowledged several years before on the public record while being interviewed by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) that NSA undertook its so called Follow the Money Program.

 

While being interviewed by PBS for a July 12, 1989 television documentary entitled Follow the Money, he stated that the Reagan White House tasked the NSA in 1981 with implanting “powerful computing mechanisms” in three major wire transfer clearinghouses: CHIPS (the Clearing House Interbank Payment System) in New York City, which reportedly records payments and settlements for foreign trade, foreign exchange, and syndicated loans for its 139 member banks in 35 countries; CHAPS in London, which reportedly performs similar functions for Sterling-denominated transactions; and SIC in Basel, Switzerland, which reportedly records the same types of transactions when they involve Swiss Francs. Dr. Bailey described the new NSA SIGINT penetration of the banking sector as giving the United States the capability to follow the money flowing from foreign governments to international terrorists through the international banking system, intercepting the fund transfer messages from one bank to another as they occurred in real time. (3)

 

When he was interviewed for a July 23, 2008 article by Tim Shorrock in Salon Magazine, Dr. Bailey was quoted as stating that INSLAW’s “PROMIS was the principal software element used by the NSA” for its real-time surveillance of bank transfers. (4)

 

In a personal message that I received in June 2013, Dr. Bailey told me:

“I was appointed Director of Planning and Evaluation on the staff of the National Security Council at the White House in early 1981, when Ronald Reagan took over the presidency. In that capacity I coordinated national security planning throughout the government and evaluated the results of operations undertaken as a result. One of the projects I personally initiated was the tracing of the funding of activities contrary to the national security interests of the United States back to their sources. This activity was given the nickname ’follow the money’. I worked especially with the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board and the National Security Agency in carrying out this project (which is very much ongoing today). During this period I visited the NSA twice, and during my visits was told that the principal software utilized for the purpose of tracing money movements was PROMIS. At that time this meant nothing to me, as I was not a computer specialist, but rather a financial and monetary economist. Only much later did I realize that the NSA must have been given this software by the Department of Justice, which had originally utilized it to track cases. I had little to do with the Justice Department in my position, and even if I had known that such a transaction had taken place I would have found nothing wrong with it in principle, assuming the laws regarding patent protection and payment for patented products had been processed normally. That is absolutely all I know from personal experience: the NSA began to use PROMIS software sometime in 1981.”


As mentioned before, in his book, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987, Bob Woodward quotes CIA Director William Casey as claiming that one of his proudest achievements as President Reagan’s CIA Director was the “penetration of the international banking system, allowing a steady flow of data from the real, secret set of books kept by many foreign banks …” (5)

 

Moreover, a June 5, 1986 email message from David Wigg to Colonel Oliver North, originally classified SECRET/CODE WORD but later partially declassified and released in redacted form as a result of the Iran-Contra investigations, discusses a Reagan National Security Council (NSC) staff proposal to expand NSA’s SIGINT penetration of the banking sector to add another approximately 400 major commercial banks. The email message reported on a meeting that same day with the two top officials of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to obtain a legal opinion, binding on the Executive Branch and authorizing the planned expansion. David Wigg, who had served as CIA Director Casey's liaison from the CIA to the NSC staff before transferring to the NSC staff, (6) described its objective as helping to “track financial flows through Syria, Libya, Iran, etc. through the 400 or so principal banks that make up the interbank market; to notify and work with European Govs. To fill gaps in our coverage and to cooperate with us in freezing/seizing assets as appropriate (all on a confidential basis).” (7)

 

The use of NSA’s bank surveillance project in the fight against international terrorism led to the decision by President Ronald Reagan to bomb Libya. That decision was based on precise Follow the Money SIGINT evidence that Libya had financed a terrorist attack in Germany that killed an American soldier. “The highly classified initiative, known as ‘Follow the Money,’ had allowed the Reagan administration to trace the Libyan government’s secret funding of a terrorist group that had bombed a disco in Berlin in 1986, killing an American soldier and wounding two hundred civilians.“ (8)

 

In the Preface of The 9/11 Commission Report, released in 2004, the 9/11 Commission writes near the very beginning:

“Our aim has not been to assign individual blame. Our aim has been to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11 and to identify lessons learned.“


It looks as if the lesson learned is that you can ignore the funding of a terror attack that kills more than 3.000 people on American soil, while during the presidency of Ronald Reagan the U.S. Government took the funding issue of a terror attack in Berlin extremely serious. Why do I say so? Because in Chapter 5, the 9/11 Commission states with respect to the funding issue of the 9/11 attacks:

"Ultimately the question is of little practical significance."


However, ask yourself, if you do not really investigate this question, is “the fullest account of the events surrounding 9/11” still possible? Interestingly enough, NSA’s Follow the Money mission exists until today and was expended in recent years. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2013:

“Indeed, secret documents reveal that the main NSA financial database Tracfin, which collects the ’Follow the Money’ surveillance results on bank transfers, credit card transactions and money transfers, already had 180 million datasets by 2011. The corresponding figure in 2008 was merely 20 million. According to these documents, most Tracfin data is stored for five years.” (9)

 

Furthermore, Der Spiegel reported:


“Classified documents compiled by the US intelligence agency NSA (...) show how comprehensively and effectively the intelligence agency can track global flows of money and store the information in a powerful database developed for this purpose.
’Follow the Money’ is the name of the NSA branch that handles these matters. (…) Financial transfers are the ‘Achilles' heel’ of terrorists, as NSA analysts note in an internal report. Additional fields of activity for their ’financial intelligence’ include tracking down illegal arms deliveries and keeping tabs on the increasingly lucrative domain of cybercrime. Tracing international flows of money could help reveal political crimes, expose acts of genocide and monitor whether sanctions are being respected. (…) The classified documents show that the intelligence agency has several means of accessing the internal data traffic of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a cooperative used by more than 8,000 banks worldwide for their international transactions. The NSA specifically targets other institutes on an individual basis. Furthermore, the agency apparently has in-depth knowledge of the internal processes of credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard. (…) The collected information often provides a complete picture of individuals, including their movements, contacts and communication behavior. The success stories mentioned by the intelligence agency include operations that resulted in banks in the Arab world being placed on the US Treasury's blacklist. (…) [T]he documents reveal the close involvement of the US Treasury in selecting the program's spying targets. Indeed, according to the documents, there is an exchange of personnel in which NSA analysts are transferred for a number of months to the relevant department in the US Treasury.“
(10)

 

This report by Der Spiegel certainly documents that the NSA and the US Treasury are still interested in the financial activities related to terrorism. This is underlined by the fact that the US Treasury established in 2004 – the same year in which the 9/11 Commission Report was released – a special branch called the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), which oversees the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (TFFC). Its mission: “to combat terrorist financing domestically and internationally”. (11)

 

CNN stated in a detailed 2010 report that the US Treasury is:

“…one of the key players in the war on terrorism and smack in the middle of nearly every major international conflict in which the United States is involved. (…) Inside Treasury, the work is done by a low-profile but high-impact unit known as the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. (…) Treasury is the world's only government finance agency with its own in-house intelligence unit. It has offices as far flung as Riyadh, Islamabad, Kabul and Abu Dhabi. They're the ones seizing or freezing assets of suspected bad guys -- from terrorists to drug runners. They're a part of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, sharing information with the CIA and the FBI, among others.

‘Treasury is the only finance ministry in the world to have an intel shop that is very much focused on financial intelligence, getting access to information about the networks that support terrorists, weapons proliferation or narcotics traffickers,’ said David Cohen, assistant secretary for terrorist financing. (…) The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence was put together six years ago following the big federal agency shuffle that created the Department of Homeland Security.
The office has more than 700 attorneys, investigators, analysts and financial experts. And the financial intelligence unit is housed with other Treasury teams, such as the financial crimes unit, that need intel on alleged dirty money transactions. (…) Sometimes the office's work has drawn controversy. For example, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Treasury has had access to a database of intra-European financial transactions, despite protests about privacy violations.” (12)

 

Obviously, the U.S. Government disagrees with the 9/11 Commission in a substantial way when it comes to the “practical significance" of this specific issue, i.e. the financing of terrorism. In the 9/11 Commission Report, they tell you not a single thing about the “Follow the Money” program and its capabilities. Moreover, they give you no clue what the U.S. intelligence agencies actually did to track down the financial activities of the alleged 9/11 hijackers and their handlers. And they even made a false statement when they wrote “that the National Money-laundering Strategy Report for 2001 ’didn’t mention terrorist financing in any of its 50 pages’, when in fact that report “mentions it 17 times”. (13)

When you see it through the prism of 9/11, isn’t it justified to ask why the U.S. Government has a “Follow the Money” program at all, if the funding of 9/11 was "of little practical significance"?

 

Maybe the answer to this question depends on which kind of story the 9/11 Commission had in mind that it wanted to tell the public. An account as the following written by British investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed is for sure at odds with the “mythical historical narrative” that 9/11 has become. He writes:
“In his book Intelligence Matters (2004), Senator Bob Graham, co-chair of the
Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, discusses the contents of a top secret CIA memo dated 2nd August 2002 about two 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. The CIA memo concluded that there is ’incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government.’

The 28 page section of the Congressional report including discussion of the CIA memo was classified, but some of its contents were leaked, and related issues revealed in press reports. Early in 2000, when Almidhar and Alhazmi arrived at Los Angeles airport, they were picked up by a fellow Saudi, Omar al-Bayoumi, who gave them $1,500 in cash, moved them into his apartment building, and helped them apply for flight school. Al-Bayoumi worked for Dallah Avco, a Saudi-based airline chaired by Prince Bandar’s father, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz. The firm is a major contractor for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation.

 

In the following months, al-Bayoumi and his associates received regular cashier’s cheques of around $2,000 a month, totaling tens of thousands of dollars. These came from Prince Bandar and his wife, Princess Haifa bin Faisal. Both Bandar and his wife claimed the money was donated for charitable purposes (one payment track was made after one of al-Bayoumi’s associates requested assistance from the Saudi embassy for thyroid treatment), and that they had no idea it was being diverted to fund the 9/11 hijackers.

After 9/11, British authorities questioned al-Bayoumi in London about the Saudi money trail to bin Laden’s hijackers. They had discovered secret papers with the private phone numbers of senior Saudi government officials concealed beneath the floorboards of his flat in London. The investigation went nowhere: al-Bayoumi was soon released, and disappeared into Saudi Arabia.” (14)

Fact is, you won’t find this addressed in any way in the final report of the 9/11 Commission. The same is true when it comes to the allegations against a man by the name of Omar Sheikh Saeed. Why should anybody bother about this man?

 

Well, Nafeez Ahmed writes:

“In his memoirs, In the Line of Fire, Gen. Musharraf revealed that Omar Sheikh Saeed was a MI6 agent who had executed certain missions on behalf of the British intelligence agency, before travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he met Osama bin laden and Mullah Omar. Sheikh Saeed was first recruited by MI6 while at the London School of Economics, recounts Musharraf. The agency persuaded him to join anti-Serb demonstrations during the Bosnia conflict, and later sent him to Kosovo to join the jihad. Musharraf argues that at some point, Saeed likely became ’a rogue or double agent.’

Musharraf’s claims are no doubt self-serving, deflecting from the widely-reported fact that Sheikh Saeed was an ISI asset. But they chime with other facts in the public record. Former US Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus, for instance, who held top secret national security clearances, has confirmed that MI6 was working with leaders of the now banned British group al-Muhajiroun?—?Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza and Haroon Rashid Aswat (who would later become bin Laden’s bodyguard)?—?to recruit British Muslims to fight in Kosovo in 1996.
Sheikh Saeed would have been part of that MI6-backed funnel. Others in Musharraf’s government were convinced that Sheikh Saeed was also a CIA asset. In a little-noted article on Saeed’s murky background in March 2002, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that: ’There are many in Musharraf’s government who believe that Saeed Sheikh’s power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA.’ Officials believe that ’Saeed Sheikh was bought and paid for.’” (15) At the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Brigadier Ijaz Shah, the former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan, was “the handler for Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was involved in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002”, reported Pakistani security specialist Arif Jamal. “Omar Saeed Sheikh surrendered to Brigadier Shah who hid him for several weeks before turning him over to authorities.” (16)

 

As Nafeez Ahmed explains:

“Brig. Shah’s connection to Omar Sheikh Saeed is deeply troubling. Sheikh Saeed was not simply accused of murdering Daniel Pearl?—?he was al-Qaeda’s finance chief during the 9/11 attacks. After 9/11, Indian intelligence officials confirmed that then ISI director Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad had ordered Omar Saeed to wire at least $100,000 to the chief 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta. As I documented in my books The War on Truth (2005) and The War on Freedom (2002), which was among 99 books selected for the 9/11 Commissioners to use as part of their inquiries, multiple US intelligence investigations corroborated the Indian allegations. US authorities had further confirmed that Sheikh Saeed had wired as much as $500,000 if not more to several of the 9/11 hijackers?—?all at the behest of the ISI. Despite this, US authorities took no measures to designate or extradite either Sheikh Saeed or his ISI boss, Mahmoud Ahmad. As former British Cabinet Minister Michael Meacher observed: ‘It is extraordinary that neither Ahmad nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count [of financing 9/11]. Why not?’” (17) And John Newman, “a former executive assistant to the director of the NSA who spent 20 years in the US Army Intelligence and Security Command, pointed out that despite Sheikh Saeed’s kidnapping of British citizens and related terror offenses, he faced no indictments from the US or Britain, and was even able to travel back to London in January 2000. He had also kidnapped American citizens, but faced no indictments from the US until after 9/11.
‘Did the United States not indict Saeed Sheikh because he was a British informant? Did the agency [CIA] receive information provided by Saeed Sheikh from British or Pakistani intelligence?’ asked Newman rhetorically at a 2005 Congressional briefing on the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report.

‘This would help explain why Saeed Sheikh was not indicted and escaped justice for his crimes and traveled freely around England… If the foregoing analysis has any merit, Western intelligence agencies were receiving reports from a senior al-Qaeda source. Once again, however, al-Qaeda had used Western intelligence to accomplish its own mission. Saeed Sheikh was probably a triple agent.’ Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed’s role in the 9/11 attacks on behalf of the head of the ISI, Newman noted, was completely ignored by the 9/11 Commission Report.“ (18)

 

Another researcher is skeptical when it comes to the allegations that Nafeez Ahmed is talking about. His name: Peter Dale Scott. The former Professor for English at the University of California in Berkeley writes in his book, The Road to 9/11:

“In October 2001, shortly after the catastrophic events of 9/11, U.S. and British newspapers briefly alleged that the paymaster for the 9/11 attacks was a possible agent of the Pakistani intelligence service ISI, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (or Sheik Syed). There was even a brief period in which it was alleged that the money had been paid at the direction of the then ISI chief, Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad. (19) The London Guardian reported on October 1, 2001, that ’U.S. investigators believe they have found the ‘smoking gun’ linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terrorist attacks. . . . The man at the centre of the financial web is believed to be Sheikh Saeed, also known as Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad, who worked as a financial manager for Bin Laden when the Saudi exile was based in Sudan, and is still a trusted paymaster in Bin Laden’s alQaida organization.’ (20) This story was corroborated by CNN on October 6, citing a ’a senior-level U.S. government source’ who noted that ’Sheik Syed’ had been liberated from an Indian prison as a result of an airplane hijacking in December 1999.

The man liberated in this way was Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a notorious kidnapper raised in England and widely reported as a probable agent of the ISI. (21) One newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, suggested he may have been a double agent, recruited inside al Qaeda and the ISI by CIA. (22) Others have since argued that Saeed Sheikh worked for both the United States and Britain, since ’both American and British governments have studiously avoided taking any action against Sheikh despite the fact that he is a known terrorist who has targeted U.S. and UK citizens.’ (23)

Subsequent newspaper stories reported on the undoubted relationship of Saeed Sheikh to the ISI, to FBI claims that he wired $100,000 to 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta’s bank account, (24) to a CNN report that these funds came from Pakistan, (25) and to the uncontested statement that (as later stated in the indictment of the so-called twentieth hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui) ’on September 11, 2001, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi left the U.A.E. for Pakistan.’ (26)

The most sensational charge, alluded to earlier, came from Indian intelligence sources: that Saeed Sheikh had wired the money to Atta at the direction of Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, then director of the ISI." (27)

"All these important and alarming charges are ignored in the 9/11 Commission Report, in which the Saeed Sheikh born in London is not mentioned. (28) Instead, the report assured its readers in a carefully drafted comment that ’we have seen no evidence that any foreign government—or foreign government official—supplied any funding.’ (29) It was later reported, however, that ’the Pakistan foreign office had paid tens of thousands of dollars to lobbyists in the U.S. to get anti-Pakistan references dropped from the 9/11 inquiry commission report.’ (30) The U.S. government and the mainstream media’s decisions to drop the Saeed Sheikh story in October 2001 were clearly political. On September 20, 2001, President Bush delivered his memorable ultimatum to ’every nation, in every region. . . . Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ There was probably no leader for which the choice was more difficult, or the outcome more unpredictable, than General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. But on October 7, Musharraf fired his pro-Taliban ISI chief, General Mahmoud Ahmad, along with two other ISI leaders. (31) As the historian John Newman, a former U.S. Army Intelligence analyst, has commented: ’The stakes in Pakistan were very high. As Anthony Zinni explained to CBS on 60 Minutes, ‘Musharaf may be America’s last hope in Pakistan, and if he fails the fundamentalists will get hold of the Islamic bomb.’ Musharaf was also vital to the war effort, and was the key to neutralizing Islamists and rounding up Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.’ (32)

A number of books, in reporting the Saeed Sheikh story, have focused on the fact that General Ahmad was in Washington on 9/11, meeting with such senior U.S. officials as CIA director George Tenet. (33) In my opinion the mystery of 9/11 must be unraveled at a deeper level, the ongoing groups inside and outside governments, in both Pakistan and America, which have continued to use groups like al Qaeda and individuals like Ahmad, for their own policy purposes. (…) They [the relationships between these groups] are far too complex to be reduced to two or three individuals. The ongoing collaboration of the ISI and CIA in promoting terrorist violence has created a complex conspiratorial milieu, in which governments now have a huge stake in preventing the emergence of the truth.” (34)

 

The 9/11 Commission surely would have had the chance to address the issue. But again, it decided the question was “of little practical significance".

Let me remind you on the idea of “follow the money”. Fred Shapiro, author of the book, The Yale Book of Quotations, wrote in 2011 for example: "The forthcoming Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, to be published by Yale University Press, quotes (...) a 1975 book by Clive Borrell and Brian Cashinella, Crime in Britain Today: 'Mr. [James] Crane usually offers this piece of sound advice to all new officers joining his fraud department: ‘Always follow the money. Inevitably it will lead to an oak-paneled door and behind it will be Mr. Big.’ It is a tip that has paid off in scores of cases.'” (35)

 

The alternative catchphrase "Money trail" refers to the same idea of following the movement of money, e.g. from one person to another, from one organization to another, from one bank account to another, in order to find out what is really happening. So, why did the 9/11 Commission deem this tried and tested approach useless? Yours truly leaves the silent answer to the reader's wisdom.

 

Best regards,

Lars Schall.

 

 

 

SOURCES:

(1) Guy Lawson: “Octopus – Sam Israel, The Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con”, New York, Crown Publishers, 2012, page 144. On the PROMIS saga see also Cherie Seymour: “The Last Circle – Danny Casolaro’s Investigation into The Octopus and the PROMIS Software Scandal”, Walterville, TrineDay, 2011.

(2) See Norman A. Bailey: “The Strategic Plan that Won the Cold War – National Security Decision Directive 75”, published here: http://www.iwp.edu/news_publications/book/the-strategic-plan-thatwon-

the-cold-war

(3) For the transcript of the PBS documentary “Follow the Money” see Lars Schall: “Follow the Money: The NSA’s real-time electronic surveillance of bank transactions”, published at LarsSchall.com on February 2nd, 2014 under: http://www.larsschall.com/2014/02/02/follow-themoney-

the-nsas-real-time-electronic-surveillance-of-bank-transactions/

(4) See Tim Shorrock: “Exposing Bush’s historic abuse of power”, published at Salon on September 23, 2008 under: http://www.salon.com/2008/07/23/new_churchcomm/

(5) Compare Elliot L. Richardson: “INSLAW’s ANALYSIS and REBUTTAL of the BUA REPORT:

Memorandum in Response to the March 1993 Report of Special Counsel Nicholas J. Bua to the Attorney General of the United States Responding to the Allegations of INSLAW, Inc.”, published here: http://textfiles.com/law/rebuttal.txt

(6) David Wigg also earlier worked with William Casey when Casey headed the Export/Import Bank (1974-76).

(7) The National Security Archives at George Washington University published a collection of White House emails that Iran-Contra investigators had recovered from the Reagan National Security Council IBM mainframe computer after the NSC staff had deleted them as the Iran-Contra scandal began to unfold. See here: http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/white_house_email/. The documents

were later also published as a book, see Tom Blanton (ed.):
"White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages The Reagan/Bush White House Tried to Destroy", New Press, New York, 1995. For an online reference to the email message from David Wigg to Oliver North see J. Orlin Grabbe: “Plot to Spy on Banks Outlined in White House Email”, January 2, 1997, published at Mem Research under: https://www.memresearch.org/grabbe/email.htm

(8) Guy Lawson: “Octopus”, loc. cit., page 144.

(9) See Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark: “'Follow the Money': NSA Monitors Financial World”, published at Spiegel Online on September 16, 2013 under:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/how-the-nsa-spies-on-internati...

(10) Ibid.

(11) Compare “U.S. Treasury Department Announces New Executive Office for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes”, published at the website of the U.S. Treasury on March 3, 2003 under:

https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js77.aspx

(12) Compare Jennifer Liberto: “Treasury's quiet war”, published at CNN on February 16, 2010

under: http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/16/news/international/Treasury_intelligence...

(13) Jim Hogue: “Follow the Money? God forbid”, published at Baltimore Chronicle on January 29, 2008 under: http://www.baltimorechronicle.com/2008/012908Hogue.shtml.
Hogue points in this article at “an unusual surge in the currency component of the M1 money supply” in the U.S. in July and August of 2001 that was “never investigated”. Related to this specific case see also Lars Schall:

“How does ’dirty money’ become ’clean money’?”, published at
LarsSchall.com on September 27, 2012 under: http://www.larsschall.com/2012/09/27/how-does-dirty-money-become-clean-m...,

and Lars Schall: "9/11: Currency joins insider trade claims", published at Asia Times Online on September 13, 2013 under: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/GECON-01-

130913.html

(14) Nafeez Ahmed: “The bin Laden death mythology”, published at Insurge Intelligence on July 3, 2015 under:

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/the-bin-laden-death-mythology-9a...

(15) Ibid.

(16) Ibid. Ahmed writes: “Jamal refers to an interview in 2000 with a Pakistani security official, who disclosed Shah’s relationship with Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed on condition of anonymity.”

(17) Michael Meacher: “The Pakistan connection”, published at “The Guardian” on July 22, 2004

under: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jul/22/usa.september11

(18) Nafeez Ahmed: “The bin Laden death mythology”, loc. cit.

The following footnotes from 19 to 33 are taken from Peter Dale Scott: “The Road to 9/11 – Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America”, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2007, pp. 334-335:

(19) Griffin, 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 104–7; Ahmed, War on Truth, 137–44; and Peter Dale Scott, “The CIA’s Secret Powers: Afghanistan, 9/11, and America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, Critical Asian Studies 35, no. 2 (2003): 233–58.

(20) Julian Borger and John Hooper, “Trail Links Bin Laden Aide to Hijackers,” Guardian, October 1, 2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/wtccrash/story/0,,561001,00.html.Cf. Griffin, 9/11

Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 109–10. The investigators were later identified as the FBI (Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2001; CNN, October 28, 2001; and Times [London], November 16, 2001).

(21) For example, Daniel Klaidman, “Federal Grand Jury Set to Indict Sheikh,” Newsweek, March 13, 2002: U.S. officials suspect “that Sheikh has been a ‘protected asset,’ of Pakistan’s shadowy spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.” The story was enhanced by Indian intelligence sources with a more sensational claim: that Saeed Sheikh had wired the money to hijacker Mohamed Atta at the direction of Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, the director of the ISI at the time (Wall Street Journal,October 10, 2001). Indian sources later downplayed this anti-Pakistani
allegation by suggesting that the money came instead from a ransom paid to another terrorist, Aftab Ansari in Dubai, when a Kolkata businessman, Partha Roy Burman, was kidnapped in July 2001 (B. Muralidhar Reddy, “Omar Sheikh Arrested, Says Pearl Is Alive,” The Hindu, February 13, 2002).

 

(22) “Did Pearl Die Because Pakistan Deceived CIA?” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 3, 2002,

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_20141.html “There are many in Musharraf’s government who believe that Saeed Sheikh’s power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA. The theory is that with such intense pressure to locate bin Laden, Saeed Sheikh was bought and paid for.”

(23) Ahmed, War on Truth, 142; cf. John Newman, “Omissions and Errors in the Commission’s Final Report: Rep. McKinney 9/11 Congressional Briefing,” August 18, 2005,

http://911readingroom.org/bib/whole_document.php?article_id=422; Musharraf, In the Line of Fire,

225: “It is believed in some quarters that while Omar Sheikh was at the LSE [London School of Economics] he was recruited by the British intelligence agency MI6. It is said that MI6 persuaded him to take an active part in demonstrations against Serbian aggression in Bosnia and even sent him to Kosovo to join the jihad. At some point he probably became a rogue or double
agent.”

(24) Maria A. Ressa, “India Wants Terror Spotlight on Kashmir,” CNN, October 8, 2001,

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/south/10/08/india.ressa/.

(25) “Sources: Suspected Terrorist Leader Was Wired Funds through Pakistan,” CNN, October 1, 2001, http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/10/01/inv.pakistan.funds/: “As much as $100,000 was wired in the past year from Pakistan to Mohamed Atta.” Subsequent developments lent weight to the Pakistani connection, such as the arrest of Atta’s alleged controls, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in Pakistan.

(26) United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, #108.

(27) “India Helped FBI Trace ISI-Terrorist Links,” Times of India, October 9, 2001; Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2001.

(28) The appendixes note, in a list of names, a “Sheikh Saeed al Masri” as an “Egyptian; head of al Qaeda finance committee.” Instead, following a previous reversal in the U.S. media, the financial role attributed earlier to Sheikh Saeed is now given to “Mustafa al Hawsawi,” the name (or pseudonym) used for the financial transactions (9/11 Commission Report, 436). The only
reference to any Sheikh Saeed in the text says that the Egyptian (or Kenyan) Sheikh Saeed “argued that al

Qaeda should defer to the Taliban’s wishes” and not attack the United States directly (9/11 Commission Report, 251). The report treats Sheikh Saeed and al-Hawsawi as two people, whereas earlier they had been identified in U.S. media reports as the same person.

(29) 9/11 Commission Report, 172.

(30) “Pakistan Weekly Spills 9/11 Beans,” Telegraph (Calcutta), March 13, 2006,

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060313/asp/nation/story_5962372.asp. The Telegraph story cited the Friday Times, a Pakistani weekly, which claimed the story was based on “disclosures made by foreign service officials to the Public Accounts Committee at a secret meeting in Islamabad.”

(31) Kamran Khan and Molly Moore, “Leader Purges Top Ranks of Military, Spy Services,” Washington Post, October 8, 2001; Thompson, Terror Timeline, 260–61. It was widely reported that Mahmoud was let go for being too sympathetic to the Taliban (for example, Alan Sipress and Vernon Loeb, “CIA’s Stealth War Centers on Eroding Taliban Loyalty and Aiding Opposition,” Washington
Post, October 10, 2001).

(32) Newman, “Omissions and Errors in the Commission’s Final Report.”

(33) For example, Ahmed, War on Truth, 137–46; Griffin, 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 103–9.

(34) Peter Dale Scott: “The Road to 9/11”, loc. cit., pp. 132-134.

(35) See Fred Shapiro: “Follow the Money”, published at Freakonomics on September 23, 2011

under: http://freakonomics.com/2011/09/23/follow-the-money/










Published:3/30/2016 7:53:52 PM
[Recession] Chang and Eng – The US and Canada

 

 

 

Chang and Eng – The US and Canada

Written and submitted by Jeff Thomas (CLICK FOR ORIGINAL)

 

 

 

 

Chang and Eng – The US and Canada

 

 

Chang and Eng were the first internationally known “Siamese twins”, as a result of their having been exhibited worldwide. Although each had a complete body, they were joined together at the sternum.

In 1870, Chang suffered a stroke and his health deteriorated over the next four years. In 1874, at age sixty-two, he developed bronchitis and died. His brother Eng realised immediately that his continued attachment to his brother meant that he was next. Although he was separated from his twin in an emergency operation, Eng died hours later. He left the problem too long and paid with his life.

Just as with Siamese twins, it’s a risky proposition for one country to have too much dependency on another. If a visitor to Uruguay were to visit a supermarket and examine the origin of the products by reading labels, he would find that Uruguay produces 90% of the food it consumes. In Cuba, however, we read the labels on packaging and see that the great majority of packaged foods comes from Mexico. This suggests that, should food production diminish in Mexico, or should there be political turmoil or shipping problems, Cuba could face significant problems in feeding its people.

A similar problem exists in Canada. Roughly 70% of Canada’s export product is sold to the US, whilst over 60% of its imports come from the US. Of particular concern is oil. The Canadian oil industry cannot survive without the US, as over 99% of its oil production is shipped there. Unless oil returns to a level over $60/bbl fairly soon (don’t hold your breath), and the US doesn’t stop dithering over the pipeline issue, not only will Canadian jobs and oil sales suffer, but entire companies are likely to fail.

Regarding banking, Canadians take pride in their system and rightfully so, as Canadian banks have been nowhere near as cavalier as American banks in recent history. However, without transfers between the two countries (particularly between New York and Toronto), their banks would quickly find themselves in peril. If the US were to find itself in an economic crisis, as appears likely, Canada’s banks would also be in crisis.

In 2007, the US experienced a collapse in its real estate market. Many Canadians felt that they were in better shape, as they did not experience a similar collapse. Unfortunately, though, the Canadian housing bubble continued to grow. Over the last ten years, inflation-adjusted residential real estate prices  inCanada have increased by 49.3%, whilst US and EU numbers have gone down. House buyers in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are way overdue for a major fall. All that would be needed would be a rise in interest rates to prick the bubble. (Canadian Real Estate values must decline by 35.1% just to be equal to the US.) 

Other sectors of the economy, however, have already taken a hit from the North American recession. Jobs have disappeared and wages have not kept abreast of increasing costs. Households have made up the difference with debt, and have committed themselves to a phenomenal level of borrowing. Indebtedness in relation to income has increased dramatically.

All the above (and other factors too numerous to mention) serve as a reminder that, should the US take a fall economically, its Siamese twin will be in for problems that will mirror those of its brother to the south.

If ever there were a time when the cavalry needs to ride in and save the day, it would be over the next year or two. Unfortunately, the opposite is likely to occur. Canadians have recently opted to elect pinup-boy Justin Trudeau as its Prime Minister, who has already promised to steer Canada further into taxation and debt.

To show he means business, he has sold off virtually all of Canada’s three tonnes of gold reserves.

Those of us who are British are still smarting over UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s sale of Britain’s gold at the bottom of the market (just under $300) at the turn of the millennium. Mister Trudeau has likely accomplished a similar feat, if it proves true that gold is now at the bottom of its four-year correction and is poised for its next bull market.

In my own country, I deal regularly with Canadian investors, who often say something to the effect of, “The US is headed off the cliff. I know we’ll feel the heat, but thank God, we’re more conservative and it won’t be too bad for us.”

It’s true that in several ways, Canada hasn’t been as stupid as the US, but (especially with Mister Trudeau now in the driver’s seat), as events unfold in the US, they may well make up for lost time. It’s entirely possible that the new Canadian government will shoot itself in the foot repeatedly until they catch up with the US. However, even at best, when the US pulls the “flush” handle on their economy, Canada will caught in the maelstrom.

In 1874, when Chang and Eng died, people queried, “Why didn’t they have the surgery to separate themselves years previously, when it would have assured the longevity of one if the other died?”

Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s no different for nations. Rarely does any nation take the bitter pill of diversifying, prior to a crisis. Almost invariably the “Eng” nation procrastinates until it’s too late and it follows its brother into crisis and/or collapse.

If the reader finds himself nodding at this observation, he may question whether he, as an individual, is prepared. Today, a quiet exodus of Americans has begun. Increasing numbers are diversifying themselves out of the US; moving their wealth (and often themselves) out of their home country so that they won’t be casualties when the odiferous effluvium hits the fan.

However, fewer Canadians share their concern. We’re seeing less of an exodus from Canada. Do they have reason to feel less threatened? Well, certainly we shall see a collapse in several of the world’s most prominent jurisdictions in future. If we base our projections on the fundamentals alone, we might see a crash in China, one in Japan, the EU, then America. Canada might well come in at the end.

However, the fundamentals certainly indicate that all will be hard hit at one point or another and it’s not always the fundamentals that set the order. In the end, it’s generally a series of black swan events that trigger the inevitable, sometimes resulting in a less logical order.

Black swans are, by definition, unpredictable. It may turn out that oil alone could trigger an early fall for Canada. But our concern here should not be over which jurisdiction hits the skids first. Our concern should be the inevitability of the events.

It should be said that it’s far too late in the game to perform surgery that would assure a healthy Canada, if and when the US takes its dive. It’s not, however, too late for Canadians to create individual diversification of investment. They may still sell off their homes and choose to rent for the next few years (better to lose a little than a lot). They may also move their money out of financial institutions and into precious metals in an offshore depository. And if they wish to own property, they might choose to buy land or built property in a jurisdiction that promises to survive the coming economic debacle better than their home country.

There are certainly means and there may be adequate time to avoid the same outcome as Eng.

 

 

Please email with any questions about this article or precious metals HERE

 

 

Chang and Eng – The US and Canada

Written and submitted by Jeff Thomas (CLICK FOR ORIGINAL)

 

 

 

Jeff Thomas is British and resides in the Caribbean. The son of an economist and historian, he learned early to be distrustful of governments as a general principle. Although he spent his career creating and developing businesses, for eight years, he penned a weekly newspaper column on the theme of limiting government. He began his study of economics around 1990, learning initially from Sir John Templeton, then Harry Schulz and Doug Casey and later others of an Austrian persuasion. He is now a regular feature writer for Casey Research’s International Man and Strategic Wealth Preservation in the Cayman Islands.

 

 










Published:3/24/2016 3:23:29 AM
[World] [Eugene Volokh] No constitutional right to engage in consensual BDSM sex

Besides the interesting free speech and due process holdings, the federal district court’s decision in Doe v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason Univ. also discusses whether there is a constitutional right to engage in consensual BDSM sex. No, says, the court, rejecting the view that Lawrence v. Texas creates a general constitutional right to adult noncommercial sexual autonomy.

The plaintiff student was expelled for allegedly having sex with a woman without her consent, by refusing to stop a BDSM sexual act when his sexual partner said the safe word. But his claim was that, in adjudicating the case, the university administration “‘disregarded’ the BDSM context of the relationship and how it ‘affected matters like consent and related issues’ and treated a BDSM relationship as ‘per se sexual misconduct,’” and thus violated his right to engage in consensual sexual activity as well. This gave the court occasion to consider whether there is such a right; here is how the court responded:

[P]laintiff bases his fundamental liberty interest argument on Lawrence v. Texas (2003) [which struck down a ban on same-sex anal-sex] …. tIn order to understand fully the methodology employed under this line of cases, analysis properly begins by considering the most recent of the Supreme Court’s decisions in this line, namely Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) [the same-sex marriage case -EV]. Importantly, Obergefell explicitly establishes that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses are “interlocking” and each “leads to a stronger understanding of the other.” In other words, Obergefell highlights that the decision to recognize an implied fundamental liberty interest as judicially enforceable turns, in part, on whether the liberty interest at issue has historically been denied on the basis of impermissible animus or, alternatively, on a legitimate basis aimed at protecting a vulnerable group.

[Footnote: Obergefell‘s discussion of the interlocking nature of liberty and equality explains—or is at least consistent with—the Supreme Court’s willingness to recognize constitutionally protected and judicially enforceable implied fundamental liberty interests when the person asserting the right has been denied a liberty based on animus or moral condemnation, but not when the denial is rooted in a desire to protect the vulnerable. See, e.g., Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) (declining to enforce a fundamental liberty interest in obtaining physician-assisted suicide in part due to the vulnerability of certain patients); Cruzan v. Dir., Mo. Dep’t of Health (1990) (similar). Thus, the Supreme Court has made it plain that the government can restrict certain freedoms as necessary to protect or otherwise to further permissible interests. See id.; also, e.g., Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992) (plurality opinion) (employing an “undue burden” test in the context of the fundamental liberty interest in procuring an abortion because “the State’s interest in the potential life within the woman” justifies certain regulations). ]

Lawrence is not to the contrary. There, the Supreme Court reasoned that a statute criminalizing homosexual sodomy violated a judicially enforceable implied fundamental liberty interest in sexual intimacy because of the history of animus towards homosexuals. See Lawrence (noting that “powerful voices … condemn homosexual conduct as immoral” but that this does not permit “the majority [to] use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through the operation of the criminal law”). Indeed, the Supreme Court has since noted [in Obergefell] that Lawrence “acknowledged, and sought to remedy, the continuing inequality that resulted from laws making intimacy in the lives of gays and lesbians a crime against the State” and “therefore drew upon principles of liberty and equality to define and protect the rights of gays and lesbians.”

Under the Lawrence methodology, history and tradition continue to inform the analysis. See id. (“History and tradition guide and discipline [the implied fundamental liberty interests] inquiry but do not sett its outer boundaries.”). Yet, courts must consider not only the history and tradition of freedom to engage in certain conduct, but also any history and tradition of impermissible animus that motivates the legislative restriction on the freedom in order to weigh with appropriate rigor whether the government’s interest in limiting some liberty is a justifiable use of state power or an arbitrary abuse of that power.

In this respect, the conclusion … that there is no deeply rooted history or tradition of BDSM sexual activity remains relevant and important to the analysis. Also relevant and important to the analysis is the absence of a history of impermissible animus as the basis for the restriction at issue here. Sexual activity that involves binding and gagging or the use of physical force such as spanking or choking poses certain inherent risks to personal safety not present in more traditional types of sexual activity. Thus, as in Cruzan and Glucksberg, a legislative restriction on BDSM activity is justifiable by reference to the state’s interest in the protection of vulnerable persons, i.e. sexual partners placed in situations with an elevated risk of physical harm.

Accordingly, consistent with the logic of Lawrence, plaintiff has no constitutionally protected and judicially enforceable fundamental liberty interest under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to engage in BDSM sexual activity.











Published:3/4/2016 12:00:14 PM
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