Apr 302012
 
Kevin Johnson
Police are encountering more domestic violence related to the sluggish economy, a national survey of law enforcement agencies finds. 
The review, part of a continuing examination of how economic conditions are affecting law enforcement by the Police Executive Research Forum, found that 56% of the 700 responding agencies reported that the poor economy is driving an increase in domestic conflict, up from 40% of agencies in a similar survey in 2010.
Domestic violence is not a separate category of crime tracked in the FBI’s annual crime report, which has recorded a sustained decline in overall violence since the financial collapse in 2008. But the survey concludes that police are responding to more reports of domestic incidents, regardless of whether charges are filed.
In Camden, N.J., police responded to 9,100 domestic incidents in 2011, up from 7,500 calls in 2010.
Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said it was “impossible” to separate the economy from the domestic turmoil in the city where unemployment is 19%. 
Thomson said domestic-related aggravated assaults increased nearly 10% in 2011 from levels in 2010. The chief said the department has been tracking the calls closely because of the time and personnel they draw from a force that has been depleted in the past two years with layoffs of about 200 employees, another consequence of the poor economy.
“When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases,” Thomson said. “We see it on the street.”

Eugene, Ore., Police Chief Pete Kerns said troubling increases in assaults have coincided with the timing of the financial crisis and the slow recovery. In 2011, aggravated assaults increased to 234, up from 188 in 2010. Simple assaults also were up in 2011 to 1,552, from 1,440 in 2010.
Kerns said, more of the assaults are taking place in residential communities in addition to nightclubs and other traditional trouble spots.
The police survey appears to corroborate findings in 2009 by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Katie Ray-Jones, president of the hotline, said that financial stress was a factor in “intensifying and escalating” reported abuse. 
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the research forum, a Washington-based law enforcement think-tank, said police have been expressing concern about rising calls related to domestic strife for at least the past two years.
“You are dealing with households in which people have lost jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs,” Wexler said. “That is an added stress that can push people to the breaking point.”

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Apr 302012
 
EmptyWheel
Jim White

Despite no agreement being announced during Special Envoy Marc Grossman’s visit to Pakistan last week, Pakistan Today reports that negotiations between Pakistan and the US had continued, and an agreement on transportation of NATO supplies through Pakistan, along with the resumption of the flow of support funding for Pakistan, was to be announced as early as today. Those plans, and the prospects for finalizing an agreement, were disrupted Sunday when the CIA unilaterally restarted drone attacks inside Pakistan, striking a former girls’ school in which Uzbek and Tajik militants were said to be holed up.

Here is how Pakistan Today described the current situation:

Intense negotiations between US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have finally paved the way for the reopening of blocked NATO supplies and release of arrears under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by Washington, and a breakthrough in this regard is likely in a day or two, Pakistan Today learnt on Sunday.

This breakthrough is said to be planned for Monday (today) but Sunday’s drone strike in North Waziristan by CIA despite a clear ‘no’ to such attacks by Pakistani parliament has not gone down well with Pakistani authorities and it could impact the process of reconciliation between Islamabad and Washington.
/snip/

“Ambassador Grossman has left Islamabad but around 10 American officials are still here finalizing a deal on NATO reopening and CSF arrears’ release,” the diplomat said.
A member of the federal cabinet, Sheikh Waqas Akram disclosed that Islamabad and Washington were very close to reaching a deal on NATO supplies and CSF dues’ release.

“Yes that is true, this breakthrough is imminent and it was revealed by Ambassador Grossman himself when he met me and some other parliamentarians in his recent visit to Islamabad,” Akram, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, said. He said that a breakthrough on NATO supplies and CSF arrears, according to his information was about to take place today (Monday) but the latest drone strike in North Waziristan could again sabotage the reconciliatory efforts.

Akram then placed blame for the drone strike on “hawkish elements” in the US and suggested it was intended to disrupt negotiations:

“It seems that the hawkish elements in US establishment and among the political circles there do not want the improvement of ties between Pakistan and the US,” Akram said.

Leading these “hawkish elements”, of course, is the CIA, which both the Washington Post and New York Times identify as behind the drone strike Sunday. Both papers noted how Sunday’s strike undermines the ongoing negotiations. From the Times:

The C.I.A. strike underlined the tensions between American diplomatic and security priorities in Pakistan. Officials from the two countries are trying to reset relations that stalled badly after American warplanes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghanistan border in November.

Last week, President Obama sent his regional representative, Marc Grossman, to Islamabad for two days of high-level talks that aimed to reach agreement on a variety of contentious issues, including drone strikes, the reopening of NATO supply lines and the clearing of at least $1 billion in American military aid that is overdue.
/snip/

Diplomats from both countries insist that their talks are starting to make progress in some areas, like the reopening of NATO supply lines, the dispute about overdue military aid — variously estimated between $1.18 billion and $3 billion — and the nudging of the Afghan Taliban toward peace talks.

Yet the drone strike on Sunday in Miram Shah indicated that the C.I.A. would press ahead with its operations.

And from the Post:

CIA drone missiles hit militant targets in Pakistan on Sunday for the first time in a month, as the United States ignored the Pakistani government’s insistence that such attacks end as a condition for normalized relations between the two perpetually uneasy allies.

The drone strikes, which have long infuriated the Pakistani public, killed four al-Qaeda-linked fighters in a girls’ school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials there said.

Warning of diplomatic consequences, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attacks, the first since Parliament’s unanimous vote this month approving new guidelines for the country’s relationship with the United States. Some politicians said the drone strikes might set back already difficult negotiations over the reopening of vital NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago.

Although the Times and Post note that Pakistani diplomats are not pleased by the attacks, they did not carry the strongest reactions from Pakistan. The Express Tribune quotes a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office pointing out that drone attacks inside Pakistan are a violation of international law:

A statement issued by the Foreign Office denounced the latest strike as “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”.

“Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations,” it added. The matter would be taken up through diplomatic channels both in Islamabad and Washington.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, an apology from the US for November’s border post attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers is seen as one of the remaining actions needed to reach a final agreement on reopening the supply routes. Pakistan believed then that John Kerry would travel to Pakistan on April 29 to deliver the apology. The Pakistan Today article cited above repeats the expectation that an apology is still expected, but the Washington Post article states flatly that “Washington has made it clear that an apology will not be forthcoming”, echoing the report in the New York Times on Friday that no apology was forthcoming.

The CIA on Sunday added an exclamation point to that flat statement.

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Apr 302012
 
David K. Shipler
THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts. 
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested. 
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust. 
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps. 

Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court. Defendants invariably claim entrapment and almost always lose, because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents. To underscore their predisposition, many suspects are “warned about the seriousness of their plots and given opportunities to back out,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. But not always, recorded conversations show. Sometimes they are coaxed to continue. 
Undercover operations, long practiced by the F.B.I., have become a mainstay of counterterrorism, and they have changed in response to the post-9/11 focus on prevention.
“Prior to 9/11 it would be very unusual for the F.B.I. to present a crime opportunity that wasn’t in the scope of the activities that a person was already involved in,” said Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer and former F.B.I. agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups. An alleged drug dealer would be set up to sell drugs to an undercover agent, an arms trafficker to sell weapons. That still happens routinely, but less so in counterterrorism, and for good reason. 
“There isn’t a business of terrorism in the United States, thank God,” a former federal prosecutor, David Raskin, explained. 
“You’re not going to be able to go to a street corner and find somebody who’s already blown something up,” he said. Therefore, the usual goal is not “to find somebody who’s already engaged in terrorism but find somebody who would jump at the opportunity if a real terrorist showed up in town.” 
And that’s the gray area. Who is susceptible? Anyone who plays along with the agents, apparently. Once the snare is set, law enforcement sees no choice. “Ignoring such threats is not an option,” Mr. Boyd argued, “given the possibility that the suspect could act alone at any time or find someone else willing to help him.” 
Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech — comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas — then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups.
Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk: for example, Waad Ramadan Alwan, an Iraqi in Kentucky, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded roadside bomb near Bayji, Iraq, and Raja Khan of Chicago, who had sent funds to an Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan. 
But others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find. Take the Stinger missile defendant James Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer with a criminal record that included no violence or hate crime, despite his rants against Jews. “He was searching for answers within his Islamic faith,” said his lawyer, Clinton W. Calhoun III, who has appealed his conviction. “And this informant, I think, twisted that search in a really pretty awful way, sort of misdirected Cromitie in his search and turned him towards violence.” 
THE informer, Shahed Hussain, had been charged with fraud, but avoided prison and deportation by working undercover in another investigation. He was being paid by the F.B.I. to pose as a wealthy Pakistani with ties to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group that Mr. Cromitie apparently had never heard of before they met by chance in the parking lot of a mosque. 
“Brother, did you ever try to do anything for the cause of Islam?” Mr. Hussain asked at one point. 
“O.K., brother,” Mr. Cromitie replied warily, “where you going with this, brother?”
Two days later, the informer told him, “Allah has more work for you to do,” and added, “Revelation is going to come in your dreams that you have to do this thing, O.K.?” About 15 minutes later, Mr. Hussain proposed the idea of using missiles, saying he could get them in a container from China. Mr. Cromitie laughed. 
Reading hundreds of pages of transcripts of the recorded conversations is like looking at the inkblots of a Rorschach test. Patterns of willingness and hesitation overlap and merge. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Mr. Cromitie said, and then explained that he meant women and children. “I don’t care if it’s a whole synagogue of men.” It took 11 months of meandering discussion and a promise of $250,000 to lead him, with three co-conspirators he recruited, to plant fake bombs at two Riverdale synagogues. 
“Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment. 
The judge’s statement was unusual, but Mr. Cromitie’s characteristics were not. His incompetence and ambivalence could be found among other aspiring terrorists whose grandiose plans were nurtured by law enforcement. They included men who wanted to attack fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport; destroy the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago; carry out a suicide bombing near Tampa Bay, Fla., and bomb subways in New York and Washington. Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations. 
Another New York City subway plot, which recently went to trial, needed no help from government. Nor did a bombing attempt in Times Square, the abortive underwear bombing in a jetliner over Detroit, a planned attack on Fort Dix, N.J., and several smaller efforts. Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, it’s not easy to tell the difference.

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Apr 302012
 
Politico
John Bresnahan

House Republicans are not ready to proceed with a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious scandal, but there are clear signals that that GOP patience with the Justice Department is wearing thin.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday night that Speaker John Boehner had “given the green light” to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to pursue a contempt citation against Holder and the Justice Department for failing to comply with the panel’s probe into the hugely controversial program.

But GOP leadership aides and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee say no decision has been made to take such a dramatic step. They acknowledge, however, the possibility of bringing contempt proceedings has been discussed in leadership sessions.

“While there are very legitimate arguments to be made in favor of such an action, no decision has been made to move forward with one by the Speaker or by House Republican leaders,” a senior GOP leadership aide said.
“The Justice Department has not fully cooperated with the investigation into gunwalking that occurred in Operation Fast and Furious. The House Oversight Committee continues to make necessary preparations to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt if the Justice Department refuses to change course and stop blocking access to critical documents,” a spokesman for Issa added.


“While the committee continues to move toward consideration of contempt, it is important to note that the next step in the process of contempt must be made by the Oversight Committee. Reports, based on anonymous sources, that decisions for consideration of contempt on the House floor have already been made are inaccurate.”

The Times also reported it had obtained a draft 48-page contempt resolution being circulated by Issa’s staff. Committee sources confirmed the authenticity of the document but again cautioned that no final call had been made on whether to press the issue with a floor vote.

DOJ and White House officials counter that they have cooperated fully with Issa’s probe, turning over thousands of pages of documents to the panel and responding to dozen of inquiries from individual lawmakers.

Fast and Furious was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from 2009 to 2011. Agents allowed hundreds of illegal gun sales to occur in the hopes of tracking the weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

Instead, hundreds of guns disappeared or were used in other illegal activities inside Mexico. Two guns smuggled into Mexico under the program were recovered at the site where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.

Dozens of House and Senate Republicans – although not Issa – have called for Holder to resign over the scandal. So far he and President Barack Obama have dismissed the demands as politically motivated.

Enforcing a contempt resolution against Holder would be difficult even if approved by the House. During the Democratic-led probe into the U.S. Attorney firing scandal in 2007-8, both criminal and civil contempt resolutions were approved by the House as it sought internal White House documents and testimony from senior presidential aides, including Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff.

The Justice Department, then under former President George W. Bush at that time, refused to enforce the criminal contempt citation. The House Judiciary Committee then sued the White House in civil court. While the Judiciary Committee won an early round in the legal fight, the two sides eventually worked out a deal to make some of the information and staffers available, fearing that a court ruling could set a precedent that future presidents and Congresses would regret.

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Apr 302012
 
Tens of thousands of Czechs have taken to the streets in the capital city of Prague in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of communism to protest against austerity measures.

Unions, pensioners, student associations and others infuriated by austerity cuts took part in a protest rally on Saturday, chanting “Enough is enough.”

The protesters demanded the government’s resignation over reforms and budget cuts and called for early parliamentary elections as they blame the country’s budget deficit on capitalism, the government and spending cuts.

Unions have promised more protests and civil disobedience to paralyze the government unless their legitimate demands are met.

“They promised budgetary responsibility but instead the government debt is growing. They promised to fight graft but corruption has gripped their parties and the entire society,” Jaroslav Zavadil, the head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, told the crowd.

Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas says the austerity measures are needed to avoid falling in a “debt trap.”

The government has pledged to reduce the country’s budget deficit to below 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GPD) in 2013 from 3.5 percent expected this year.

The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, triggering incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European Countries.

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Apr 292012
 
New York Times
Dave Streitfield

SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.

The report, prepared by the Federal Communications Commission after a 17-month investigation of Google’s Street View project, was released, heavily redacted, two weeks ago. Although it found that Google had not violated any laws, the agency said Google had obstructed the inquiry and fined the company $25,000. 
On Saturday, Google released a version of the report with only employees’ names redacted.
The full version draws a portrait of a company where an engineer can easily embark on a project to gather personal e-mails and Web searches of potentially hundreds of millions of people as part of his or her unscheduled work time, and where privacy concerns are shrugged off. 
The so-called payload data was secretly collected between 2007 and 2010 as part of Street View, a project to photograph streetscapes over much of the civilized world. When the program was being designed, the report says, it included the following “to do” item: “Discuss privacy considerations with Product Counsel.” 
“That never occurred,” the report says. 
Google says the data collection was legal. But when regulators asked to see what had been collected, Google refused, the report says, saying it might break privacy and wiretapping laws if it shared the material. 
A Google spokeswoman said Saturday that the company had much stricter privacy controls than it used to, in part because of the Street View controversy. She expressed the hope that with the release of the full report, “we can now put this matter behind us.” 
Ever since information about the secret data collection first began to emerge two years ago, Google has portrayed it as the mistakes of an unauthorized engineer operating on his own and stressed that the data was never used in any Google product. 

The report, quoting the engineer’s original proposal, gives a somewhat different impression. The data, the engineer wrote, would “be analyzed offline for use in other initiatives.” Google says this was never done. 
The report, which was first published in its unredacted form by The Los Angeles Times, also states that the engineer, who began the project as part of his “20 percent” time that Google gives employees to do work on their own initiative, “specifically told two engineers working on the project, including a senior manager, about collecting payload data.” 
As early as 2007, the report says, Street View engineers had “wide access” to the plan to collect payload data. Five engineers tested the Street View code, a sixth reviewed it line by line, and a seventh also worked on it, the report says. 
Privacy advocates said the full report put Google in a bad light. 
“Google’s rogue engineer scenario collapses in light of the fact that others were aware of the project and did not object,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This is what happens in the absence of enforcement and the absence of regulation.” 
The Street View program used special cars outfitted with cameras. Google first said it was just photographing streets and did not disclose that it was collecting Internet communications called payload data, transmitted over Wi-Fi networks, until May 2010, when it was confronted by German regulators. 
Eventually, it was forced to reveal that the information it had collected could include the full text of e-mails, sites visited and other data. 
Even if a user was not working on a computer at the moment the Street View car slowly passed, if the device was on and the network was unencrypted, all sorts of information about what the user had been doing could be scooped up, data experts say. 
“So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake,” a Google executive wrote on a company blog in 2010. “The project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data.”
But according to the report, the engineer suggested in his proposal that it was entirely intentional: “We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.” 
Attending to paperwork did not seem to be a high priority, however. Managers of the Street View project told F.C.C. investigators that they never read the engineer’s proposal, called a design document. A senior manager of Street View said he “preapproved” the document before it was written.
More than a dozen countries began investigations of Street View in 2010. In the United States, the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general and the F.C.C. looked into the matter. 
The engineer at the center of the project cited the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. Because F.C.C. investigators could not interview him, they said there were still unresolved questions about the case.
Apr 292012
 
PressTV

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011 and many people, including members of the security forces, have been killed in the turmoil.

Damascus blames armed terrorist groups for the country’s year-long unrest, asserting that violent acts are being orchestrated from abroad.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Paul Sheldon Foote, professor at the California State University, Irvine, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Professor, how would you explain Russia’s stance and position towards Syria?

Foote: I think it’s time that someone started telling the truth about it. It’s very obvious that America, Israel and some Arab countries are behind this terrorism in Syria.

A big lie for a long time, that America’s been at war with terrorism while they continually support terrorism in the region. It’s outrageous what they’re doing.

Not only that, they’ve used that as an excuse in America for taking away our freedoms. It’s time for the people in the West to wake up to what’s really happening. It affects not only Syria but it affects all of us in the West too.




Press TV: Nearly a year into the crisis in Syria, many people around the world are asking this question, that what is the end game in Syria? What will happen after this 90-day period after Kofi Annan’s peace plan?


Foote: I think that those in the West who have started this don’t have any plans to stop in the near future. They would even be happy to see a civil war in the country totally torn into pieces.


Unfortunately, the only way it’s going to end is if there’s any decent people left in Syria who won’t take money or weapons from the Israelis, Americans or Arabs, and realize that what they’re doing is very treasonous.


Press TV: Why is it that the Syrian government is accused and not the opposition?


Foote: It’s the controlled media of the West. It’s like George Orwell: ‘black is white and white is black’. The Western media has great success in twisting every truth into a lie, and a lie into a truth.


Unfortunately, millions of people in America continue to listen only to the “lame-stream” media, as we call it here – the critics of the lies are the mainstream media.


GMA/JR



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Apr 292012
 
Russia Today

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to fund French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign – to the tune of 50 million euro, a new report says.

The Paris-based investigative website Mediapart published “documentary evidence” that Gaddafi was ready to stump up tens of millions of dollars to help Sarkozy win the French presidential race.

Mediapart claimed Saturday that the 2006 document was provided by “former senior [Libyan] officials, who are now in hiding.”  They further claim the document came “from the archives of the secret service,” and was signed by Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief and later foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.

In it, Koussa noted “an agreement in principle to support the campaign for the candidate for presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy, for a sum equivalent to 50 million euro.”

Sarkozy attempted to deflect the allegations when confronted by a TF1 presenter, saying, “If [Gaddafi] had financed it, I wasn’t very grateful.” Sarkozy’s sarcastic comeback was in reference to France’s lead role in the NATO campaign that led to Gaddafi’s brutal demise.

‘It’s obviously an attempt to draw away attention after Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back on stage,’ Nicolas Sarkozy told the French media.

On Friday the former IMF-chief, who was once tipped to win France’s presidential vote, but dropped out of the race after a sex scandal, claimed Sarkozy and other political rivals orchestrated his downfall.

‘This only plays into Socialists’ hands as they don’t want to be reminded that they were going to make him the next French president,’ Sarkozy added.

It’s not the first time the French president denies allegations his 2007 campaign was sponsored by Tripoli.

In March 2012 Sarkozy also rejected claims he took €50 million from Muammar Gaddafi.
The scandal with alleged finance from Libya dates back to March 2011 when Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam demanded that Sarkozy return the money his family had given for the 2007 campaign:

 “He’s disappointed us. We have all the bank details and documents for the transfer operations and we will make everything public soon,” – threatened Saif al-Islam in a TV interview during the NATO-backed military campaign in Libya.

French politicians are banned from receiving campaign contributions from foreign states, and a French judge is currently looking into the allegations.

The latest document has surfaced at a particularly sensitive time for Sarkozy, who lost the first round of the French presidential vote and is currently trailing his Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the polls.

The second round of the presidential election is scheduled for May 6.

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Apr 292012
 
Truthout
John Pilger

You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda,” but “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative” and “organization”: all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming Western democracy.

What are you going to do about it?

In Britain, on instructions from the CIA, secret courts are to deal with “terror suspects.” Habeas Corpus is dying. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five men, including three British citizens, can be extradited to the US even though none except one has been charged with a crime. All have been imprisoned for years under the 2003 US/UK Extradition Treaty which was signed one month after the criminal invasion of Iraq. The European Court had condemned the treaty as likely to lead to “cruel and unusual punishment.” One of the men, Babar Ahmad, was awarded 63,000 pounds compensation for 73 recorded injuries he sustained in the custody of the Metropolitan Police. Sexual abuse, the signature of fascism, was high on the list. Another man is a schizophrenic, who has suffered a complete mental collapse and is in Broadmoor secure hospital; another is a suicide risk. To the Land of the Free they go – along with young Richard O’Dwyer, who faces ten years in shackles and an orange jump suit because he allegedly infringed US copyright on the Internet.

As the law is politicized and Americanized, these travesties are not untypical. In upholding the conviction of a London university student, Mohammed Gul, for disseminating “terrorism” on the Internet, appeal court judges in London ruled that “acts … against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which sought to influence a government and were made for political purposes” were now crimes. Call to the dock Thomas Paine, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela.

What are you going to do about it?

The prognosis is clear now: the malignancy that Norman Mailer called “pre fascist” has metastasized. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, defends the “right” of his government to assassinate American citizens. Israel, the protégé, is allowed to aim its nukes at nukeless Iran. In this looking glass world, the lying is panoramic. The massacre of 17 Afghan civilians on 11 March, including at least nine children and four women, is attributed to a “rogue” American soldier. The “authenticity” of this was vouched by President Obama himself, who had “seen a video” and regarded it as “conclusive proof.” An independent Afghan parliamentary investigation produced eyewitnesses who give detailed evidence of as many as 20 soldiers, aided by a helicopter, ravaging their villages, killing and raping: a standard, if marginally more murderous, US Special Forces “night raid.”

Take away the videogame technology of killing – America’s contribution to modernity – and the behavior is traditional. Immersed in comic-book righteousness, poorly or brutally trained, frequently racist, obese and led by a corrupt officer class, American forces transfer the homicide of home to faraway places whose impoverished struggles they cannot comprehend. A nation founded on the genocide of the native population never quite kicks the habit. Vietnam was “Indian country” and its “slits” and “gooks” were to be “blown away.

The blowing away of hundreds of mostly women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai in 1968 was also a “rogue” incident and, profanely, an “American tragedy” (the cover headline of Newsweek). Only one of 26 men prosecuted was convicted and he was let go by President Richard Nixon. My Lai is in Quang Ngai Province where, as I learned as a reporter, an estimated 50,000 people were killed by American troops, mostly in what they called “free fire zones.” This was the model of modern warfare: industrial murder.

Like Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan is a theme park for the beneficiaries of America’s new permanent war: NATO, the armaments and high-tech companies, the media and a “security” industry whose lucrative contamination is a contagion on everyday life. The conquest or “pacification” of territory is unimportant. What matters is the pacification of you, the cultivation of your indifference.
What are you going to do about it?

The descent into totalitarianism has landmarks. Any day now, the Supreme Court in London will decide whether WikiLeaks’ editor, Julian Assange, is to be extradited to Sweden. Should this final appeal fail, the facilitator of truth-telling on an epic scale, who is charged with no crime, faces solitary confinement and interrogation on ludicrous sex allegations. Thanks to a secret deal between the US and Sweden, he can be “rendered” to the American gulag at any time. In his own country, Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has conspired with those in Washington she calls her “true mates” to ensure her innocent fellow citizen is fitted for his orange jump suit just in case he should make it home. In February, her government wrote a “WikiLeaks Amendment” to the extradition treaty between Australia and the US that makes it easier for her “mates” to get their hands on him. She has even given them the power of approval over Freedom of Information searches – so that the world outside can be lied to, as is customary.

What are you going to do about it?

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