Feb 282013
 

Selected Articles

Global Research
Julie Lévesque

CIA Hollywood

“One of the most pervasive trends in 21st century western culture has become somewhat of an obsession in America. It’s called “Hollywood history”, where the corporate studio machines in Los Angeles spend hundreds of millions of dollars in order to craft and precisely tailor historical events to suit the prevailing political paradigm.” (Patrick Henningsen, Hollywood History: CIA Sponsored “Zero Dark Thirty”, Oscar for “Best Propaganda Picture”)

Black Hawk Dawn, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, those are only a few major recent productions showing how today’s movie industry promotes US foreign policy. But the motion picture has been used for propaganda since the beginning of the 20th century and Hollywood’s cooperation with the Department of Defense, the CIA and other government agencies is no modern trend.

With Michelle Obama awarding Ben Affleck’s Argo the Oscar for best movie, the industry showed how close it is to Washington. According to Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Argo is a propaganda film concealing the ugly truth about the Iranian hostage crisis and designed to prepare the American public for an upcoming confrontation with Iran:

Foreign policy observers have long known that Hollywood reflects and promotes U.S. policies (in turn, is determined by Israel and its supporters).   This fact was made public when Michelle Obama announced an Oscar win for “Argo” – a highly propagandist, anti-Iran  film.  Amidst the glitter and excitement, Hollywood and White House reveal their pact and send out their message in time for the upcoming talks surrounding Iran’s nuclear program […]

Hollywood has a long history of promoting US policies.   In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information (CPI) enlisted the aid of America ’s film industry to make training films and features supporting the ‘cause’.  George Creel, Chairman of the CPI believed that the movies had a role in “carrying the gospel of Americanism to every corner of the globe.”

The pact grew stronger during World War II […] Hollywood ’s contribution was to provide propaganda. After the war, Washington reciprocated by using subsidies, special provisions in the Marshall Plan, and general clout to pry open resistant European film markets […]

As Hollywood and the White House eagerly embrace “Argo” and its propagandist message, they shamelessly and deliberately conceal a crucial aspect of this “historical” event.  The glitter buries the all too important fact that the Iranian students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran , proceeded to reveal Israel ’s dark secret to the world.  Documents classified as “SECRET” revealed LAKAM’s activities.  Initiated in 1960, LAKAM was an Israeli network assigned to economic espionage in the U.S. assigned to “the collection of scientific intelligence in the U.S. for Israel ’s defense industry” (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich Oscar to Hollywood’s “Argo”: And the Winners are … the Pentagon and the Israel Lobby)

For a real account of the Iranian hostage crisis, a CIA covert operation, Global Research recommends reading Harry V. Martin’s article published in 1995: The Real Iranian Hostage Story from the Files of Fara Mansoor:

Fara Mansoor is a fugitive. No, he hasn’t broken any laws in the United States. His crime is the truth. What he has to say and the documents he carries are equivalent to a death warrant for him, Mansoor is an Iranian who was part of the “establishment” in Iran long before the 1979 hostage taking. Mansoor’s records actually discount the alleged “October Surprise” theory that the Ronald Reagan-George Bush team paid the Iranians not to release 52 American hostages until after the November 1980 Presidential elections […]

With thousands of documents to support his position, Mansoor says that the “hostage crisis” was a political “management tool” created by the pro-Bush faction of the CIA, and implemented through an a priori Alliance with Khomeini’s Islamic Fundamentalists.” He says the purpose was twofold:

Zero Dark Thirty is another great silver screen propaganda piece which spurred outrage earlier this year. It exploits the horrific events of 9/11 to present torture as an effective and necessary evil:

Zero Dark Thirty is disturbing for two reasons. First and foremost, it leaves the viewer with the erroneous impression that torture helped the CIA find bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan. Secondarily, it ignores both the illegality and immorality of using torture as an interrogation tool.

The thriller opens with the words “based on first-hand accounts of actual events.” After showing footage of the horrific 9/11 attacks, it moves into a graphic and lengthy depiction of torture. The detainee “Ammar” is subjected to waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and confined in a small box. Responding to the torture, he divulges the name of the courier who ultimately leads the CIA to bin Laden’s location and assassination. It may be good theater, but it is inaccurate and misleading. (Marjorie Cohn, “Zero Dark Thirty”: Torturing the Facts)

Earlier this year the Golden Globe awards made some analysts criticize Hollywood’s dark “celebration of the police state” and argue that the real Golden Globe winner  was the military-industrial complex:

Homeland won best TV series, best TV actor and actress. It IS a highly entertaining show which actually portrays some of the flaws of the MIIC system.

Argo won best movie and best director. It glorifies the CIA and Ben Affleck spoke with the highest praise for the CIA.

And best actress went to Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty, a movie that has been vilified for propagandizing the use of torture.

***

The Military Industrial Intelligence Complex is playing a more and more pervasive role in our lives.  In the next few years we’ll be seeing movies that focus on the use of drone technology in police and spy work in the USA. We’ve already been seeing movies that show how spies can violate every aspect of our privacy– of the most intimate parts of our lives. By making movies and TV series that celebrate these cancerous extensions of the police state Hollywood and the big studios are normalizing the ideas they present us with– lying to the public, routinely creating fraudulent stories as covers for what’s really going on. (Rob Kall cited in Washington’s Blog, The CIA and Other Government Agencies Dominate Movies and Television)

All these troublesome Hollywood connections have been examined in an in-depth report Global Research published in January 2009: Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood. The article lists a great number of movies in part scripted for propaganda purposes by the Defense Department, the CIA and other government agencies. It is interesting to note that this year’s Oscar-winning director Ben Affleck cooperated with the CIA in 2002 as he starred in The Sum of All Fears.

Authors Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham explain that compared to the CIA, the Department of Defense “has an ‘open’ but barely publicized relationship with Tinsel Town” which, “whilst morally dubious and barely advertised, has at least occurred within the public domain.” Alford and Graham cite a 1991 CIA report revealing the sprawling influence of the agency, not only in the movie business but also in the media where it “has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation.” It was not until 1996 that the CIA announced it “would now openly collaborate on Hollywood productions, supposedly in a strictly ‘advisory’ capacity”:

The Agency’s decision to work publicly with Hollywood was preceded by the 1991 “Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness,” compiled by CIA Director Robert Gates’ newly appointed ‘Openness Task Force,’ which secretly debated –ironically– whether the Agency should be less secretive. The report acknowledges that the CIA “now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation,” and the authors of the report note that this helped them “turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success’ stories, and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others.” It goes on to reveal that the CIA has in the past “persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests” […]

Espionage novelist Tom Clancy has enjoyed an especially close relationship with the CIA. In 1984, Clancy was invited to Langley after writing The Hunt for Red October, which was later turned into the 1990 film. The Agency invited him again when he was working on Patriot Games(1992), and the movie adaptation was, in turn, granted access to Langley facilities. More recently,The Sum of All Fears (2002) depicted the CIA as tracking down terrorists who detonate a nuclear weapon on US soil. For this production, CIA director George Tenet gave the filmmakers a personal tour of the Langley HQ; the film’s star, Ben Affleck also consulted with Agency analysts, and Chase Brandon served as on-set advisor.

The real reasons for the CIA adopting an “advisory” role on all of these productions are thrown into sharp relief by a solitary comment from former Associate General Counsel to the CIA, Paul Kelbaugh. In 2007, whilst at a College in Virginia, Kelbaugh delivered a lecture on the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood, at which a local journalist was present. The journalist (who now wishes to remain anonymous) wrote a review of the lecture which related Kelbaugh’s discussion of the 2003 thriller The Recruit, starring Al Pacino. The review noted that, according to Kelbaugh, a CIA agent was on set for the duration of the shoot under the guise of a consultant, but that his real job was to misdirect the filmmakers, the journalist quoted Kelbaugh as saying […] Kelbaugh emphatically denied having made the public statement. (Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham, Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood)

During the Cold War the CIA’s Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) agent Luigi G. Luraschi was a Paramount executive. He “had secured the agreement of several casting directors to subtly plant ‘well dressed negroes’ into films, including ‘a dignified negro butler’ who has lines ‘indicating he is a free man’”. The purpose of these changes was “to hamper the Soviets’ ability to exploit its enemy’s poor record in race relations and served to create a peculiarly anodyne impression of America, which was, at that time, still mired in an era of racial segregation.” (Ibid.)

The latest award-winning movie productions show that the Manichean view of the world put forward by the US foreign policy agenda has not changed since the Cold War. The Hollywood-CIA alliance is alive and well and still portrays America as the “leader of the free world” fighting “evil” around the world:

The interlocking of Hollywood and national security apparatuses remains as tight as ever: ex-CIA agent Bob Baer told us, “There’s a symbiosis between the CIA and Hollywood” […] Baer’s claims are given weight by the Sun Valley meetings, annual get-togethers in Idaho’s Sun Valley in which several hundred of the biggest names in American media –including every major Hollywood studio executive– convene to discuss collective media strategy for the coming year. (Ibid.)

Global Research offers its readers a list of articles on this topic.

Contrary to the Hollywood film industry, Global Research is not subject to any influence from the US intelligence apparatus and works to provide you the truth rather than fiction and propaganda.

We rely only on the support of our readers to continue the fight for truth and justice. If you want to contribute to independent research become a Global Research member or make a Donation! Your support is very much appreciated.

Continue reading »

Feb 222013
 
Global Research

Nicola Nasser
palestine (2)

The “unbreakable alliance,” which will be confirmed by the upcoming visit of President Barak Obama to Israel , will disqualify the United States as an honest broker of peace in the Arab – Israeli conflict in Palestine , a Palestinian veteran peace negotiator says.

This “unbreakable alliance” will doom whatever hopes remain during Obama’s visit for the revival of the U.S. – sponsored deadlocked “peace process,” on the resumption of which depends the very survival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership, and explains as well the Palestinian frustration, low expectations, unenthusiastic welcome and the absence of celebrations for their most cherished among world celebrities, in a stark contrast to the euphoria that is sweeping Israel in waiting for what the U.S. and Israeli officials are describing as an “historic” visit.

On February 19, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office released the official blue, red and white logo that will be on all documents and signs during Obama’s visit late in March. The logo shows the words “Unbreakable Alliance” written in English and Hebrew under a combined Israeli and U.S. flags.

During his visit, Obama will become the first ever serving U.S. president to receive Israel’s presidential medal to honor the fact that he has “established the closest working military and intelligence relationship with Israel in the country’s history: Joint exercises and training, increased security assistance every year, unprecedented advanced technology transfers, doubling of funding for Israel’s missile defense system, and assistance in funding for the Iron Dome system,” according to Steven L. Spiegel in Huffington Post late last year.

Speaking exclusively to RFI Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian veteran peace negotiator and member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel’s partner in signing the defunct Oslo peace accords, said the first – term Obama administration “have just managed to buy more time for Israel” to “create facts on the (Israeli – occupied Palestinian) ground.”

“Our experience has been really tragic with this American administration,” which “started with such high hopes and tremendous promises,” but “they backed down so quickly it was incredible,” she added, to conclude: “The U.S. has disqualified itself as a peace broker.”

Therefore, “there are no plans to celebrate” Obama’s visit to Ramallah, because “they haven’t forgotten the part he played” in aborting the PLO’s efforts in 2011 to win the United Nations’ recognition of Palestine statehood as a full member and in opposing its UN recognition as a non – member observer state the next year, according to Shlomi Eldar in Al-Monitor on February 14. Still, to make a bad situation worse, Obama will convey the same message to Abbas during his upcoming visit, because “our position has not changed” neither to Palestinian statehood nor to Palestinian national reconciliation according to U.S. State Department spokeswoman Olivia Nuland on February 19.

Obama will visit on the backdrop of a two –year old simmering Palestinian – U.S. political crisis, which potentially could explode in the aftermath of his visit.

The U.S. subscription to the UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would establish irrevocably the prerequisite to make or break the only viable “two – state solution” for the almost century – old conflict, because it would confirm the 1967 borders as the basis for such a solution and, consequently, will for sure defuse the time bomb of the Israeli illegal settlement enterprise in the Palestinian occupied territories and pave the way for the resumption of negotiations. However neither Obama nor the U.S. is forthcoming and they continue to “manage” the conflict instead of seriously seeking to solve it.
Continue reading »

Feb 212013
 

That the US is objectively “the greatest country ever to exist” is as irrational as it is destructive, yet it maintains the status of orthodoxy

The Guardian
Glenn Greenwald

A US flag waves within the razor wire-lined compound of Camp Delta prison at Guantánamo Bay in 2006

A US flag waves within the razor wire-lined compound of Camp Delta prison at Guantánamo Bay in 2006.

(updated below)

Last week, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, and the US – the country with the world’s largest stockpile of that weapon and the only one in history to use it – led the condemnation (US allies with large nuclear stockpiles, such as Britain and Israel, vocally joined in). Responding to unnamed commentators who apparently noted this contradiction, National Review’s Charles Cooke voiced these two assertions:

cooke tweetHe followed that with this:

cooke tweetNobody can reasonably dispute that North Korea is governed by a monstrous regime and that it would be better if they lacked a nuclear weapons capability. That isn’t what interests me about this. What interests me here is that highlighted claim: that the US “is the greatest country in world history”, and therefore is entitled to do that which other countries are not.

This declaration always genuinely fascinates me. Note how it’s insufficient to claim the mere mantle of Greatest Country on the Planet. It’s way beyond that: the Greatest Country Ever to Exist in All of Human History (why not The Greatest Ever in All of the Solar Systems?). The very notion that this distinction could be objectively or even meaningfully measured is absurd. But the desire to believe it is so strong, the need to proclaim one’s own unprecedented superiority so compelling, that it’s hardly controversial to say it despite how nonsensical it is. The opposite is true: it has been vested with the status of orthodoxy.

What I’m always so curious about is the thought process behind this formulation. Depending on how you count, there are 179 countries on the planet. The probability that you will happen to be born into The Objectively Greatest One, to the extent there is such a thing, is less than 1%. As the US accounts for roughly 5% of the world’s population, the probability that you will be born into it is 1/20. Those are fairly long odds for the happenstance of being born into the Greatest Country on Earth.

But if you extend the claim to the Greatest Country that Has Ever Existed in All of Human History, then the probability is minute: that you will happen to be born not only into the greatest country on earth, but will be born at the precise historical time when the greatest of all the countries ever to exist is thriving. It’s similar to winning the lottery: something so mathematically improbable that while our intense desire to believe it may lead us on an emotional level wildly to overestimate its likelihood, our rational faculties should tell us that it is unlikely in the extreme and therefore to doubt seriously that it will happen.

Do people who wave the Greatest Country in All of Human History flag engage that thought process at all? I’m asking this genuinely. Given the sheer improbability that it is true, do they search for more likely explanations for why they believe this?

In particular, given that human beings’ perceptions are shaped by the assumptions of their culture and thus have a natural inclination to view their own culture as superior, isn’t it infinitely more likely that people view their society as objectively superior because they’re inculcated from birth in all sorts of overt and subtle ways to believe this rather than because it’s objectively true? It’s akin to those who believe in their own great luck that they just happened to be born into the single religion that is the One True One rather than suspecting that they believe this because they were taught to from birth.

At the very least, the tendency of the human brain to view the world from a self-centered perspective should render suspect any beliefs that affirm the objective superiority of oneself and one’s own group, tribe, nation, etc. The “truths” we’re taught to believe from birth – whether nationalistic, religious, or cultural – should be the ones treated with the greatest skepticism if we continue to embrace them in adulthood, precisely because the probability is so great that we’ve embraced them because we were trained to, or because our subjective influences led us to them, and not because we’ve rationally assessed them to be true (or, as in the case of the British Cooke, what we were taught to believe about western nations closely aligned to our own).

That doesn’t mean that what we’re taught to believe from childhood is wrong or should be presumed erroneous. We may get lucky and be trained from the start to believe what is actually true. That’s possible. But we should at least regard those precepts with great suspicion, to subject them to particularly rigorous scrutiny, especially when it comes to those that teach us to believe in our own objective superiority or that of the group to which we belong. So potent is the subjective prism, especially when it’s implanted in childhood, that I’m always astounded at some people’s certainty of their own objective superiority (“the greatest country in world history”).

It’s certainly true that Americans are justifiably proud of certain nationalistic attributes: class mobility, ethnic diversity, religious freedom, large immigrant populations, life-improving technological discoveries, a commitment to some basic liberties such as free speech and press, historical progress in correcting some of its worst crimes. But all of those virtues are found in equal if not, at this point, greater quantity in numerous other countries. Add to that mix America’s shameful attributes – its historic crimes of land theft, genocide, slavery and racism, its sprawling penal state, the company it keeps on certain human rights abuses, the aggressive attack on Iraq, the creation of a worldwide torture regime, its pervasive support for the world’s worst tyrannies – and it becomes not just untenable, but laughable, to lavish it with that title.

This is more than just an intellectual exercise. This belief in America’s unparalleled greatness has immense impact. It is not hyperbole to say that the sentiment expressed by Cooke is the overarching belief system of the US political and media class, the primary premise shaping political discourse. Politicians of all types routinely recite the same claim, and Cooke’s tweet was quickly re-tweeted by a variety of commentators and self-proclaimed foreign policy experts from across the spectrum.

Note that Cooke did not merely declare America’s superiority, but rather used it to affirm a principle: as a result of its objective superiority, the US has the right to do things that other nations do not. This self-affirming belief – I can do X because I’m Good and you are barred from X because you are Bad – is the universally invoked justification for all aggression. It’s the crux of hypocrisy. And most significantly of all, it is the violent enemy of law: the idea that everyone is bound by the same set of rules and restraints. Continue reading »

Feb 202013
 

Green Left
Duncan Roden

February 23 marks the 1000th day in which alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, 24-year-old US Army intelligence officer Bradley Manning, has been jailed by US authorities without trial.

A pre-trial hearing in January in the case of Manning, concluded that his defence would be restricted to arguing motive during his trial, scheduled for June 3.

Manning has been accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, which revealed a wide range of US war crimes, as well as evidence of corruption and lying by a range of governments.

BradleyManning.org said Manning is “accused of releasing the Collateral Murder video, that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also accused of sharing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and a series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables.

“These documents … illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy.

“Given the war crimes exposed, if PFC Bradley Manning was the source for these documents, he should be given a medal of honor.”

The US government, however, responded to the leaked evidence of serious US crimes by charging Manning with several offences, alleging that he “aided the enemy”. Judge Army Colonel Denise Lind’s January 17 ruling, like previous rulings in Manning’s case, remains unavailable to the public. Information can only be gleaned from reporters who were present at the hearings.

Kevin Gosztola, a journalist who has been diligently covering Manning’s case, was present at the hearings. He said the ruling means the defence cannot discuss whether Manning had “good faith” when arguing against charges that he “wrongfully and wantonly cause[d] to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the United States government”.

Nor can the defence use the argument in relation to charges where the government has to prove he had “reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation”.

However, the defence can discuss motive when addressing charges that Manning aided the enemy, to put the case that he did not know passing information to WikiLeaks would constitute “dealing with the enemy”.

It will also be allowed for sentencing, in which case he will have already been found guilty of very serious crimes that carry the potential for life imprisonment, or even potentially the death penalty. The question of motives could, at best, be used only to appeal for leniency in sentencing.

Manning’s defence team hoped to argue that he had the motive to “select information he believed could not be used by the enemy to harm the US”. However, the judge ruled that Manning’s subjective conclusions were “immaterial”.

This means that what Manning believed when carrying out the alleged offences will not be considered, only what is “objective”. As Gosztola points out: “What would an objective person know about classified information that would be kept secret for twenty-five years?”

The ruling also closed off the defence’s attempt at having damage assessment reports allowed in the trial. These are reports conducted by US security agencies that investigated damage caused by the leaked documents.

The reports concluded that there was no or very little harm caused, so the government prosecutors are eager to keep the reports out of the trial. Lind determined that Manning could not have known what measures agencies of government would have taken to mitigate damage so such evidence was not relevant.

These rulings greatly limit the defence’s line of argument. Gosztola described the primary line of defence for Manning as “odd”. Defence will argue that the military let Manning down by not practising good information security and also pointing to Manning’s mental health issues and claiming that the military was derelict in providing care.

This is a “litigious” defence, he says, which isn’t actually aimed at saying Manning is not guilty, but rather trying to get the charges thrown out.

The hearing has also renewed interest in how the final judgement will impact the mainstream press’ publication of the leaks.

Scott Shane in the New York Times quoted an exchange where “Colonel Lind, the judge, asked a prosecutor a hypothetical question: If Private Manning had given the documents to The New York Times rather than to WikiLeaks, would he face the same charges?” The prosecutor answered yes.

The NYT, along with many other mainstream publications, published hundreds of the documents that Manning allegedly leaked to WikiLeaks. The Justice Department continues its investigation into whether WikiLeaks head Julian Assange and his associates can be charged over publishing secret US cables.

Hearings also considered the defence’s charge that Manning’s rights had been violated due to unjustified delay of the trial. If the judge rules in the defence’s favour, there is the potential for the charges to be dropped.

Manning was first jailed on May 27, 2010. The defence put forward examples of when they believed the government had failed to act or acted improperly.

Defence and the judge seemed to agree that there was no case in military justice history that took so long to go to trial. If the defence succeeds in pushing this argument, all the charges against Manning could be dismissed due to the speedy trial violations. Lind is due to make her ruling before the next hearing begins on February 26.

Meanwhile, Manning languishes in solitary confinement in Fort Levenworth, Kansas. The Bradley Manning Support Network reports events are being planned around the world, including the US, Germany, Canada, Britain and Italy on February 23, to mark Manning’s 1000th day of jail.

[For more information, visit www.bradleymanning.org.] Continue reading »

Feb 202013
 

PressTV
Kevin Barrett

The scene of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City

The scene of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City

Ellen Mariani’s petition to the Supreme Court sought to reinstate her wrongful death lawsuit against US government officials and others – a suit which had been denied, at lower levels, on the grounds that she had no standing to sue those responsible for her husband’s death! In fact, Ellen Mariani was cheated by lawyers who were secretly working for the other side, and by judges with massive conflicts of interest.”

On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, the United States Supreme Court slammed its door in the face of the last 9/11 family member seeking justice through the American legal system.

Ellen Mariani, whose husband Neil was murdered on September 11, 2001, had turned down more than a million dollars in government hush money to pursue the real 9/11 criminals in federal court.

After eleven years, two separate lawsuits, and an unbelievable series of encounters with corrupt lawyers and Israeli-American judges, Ellen Mariani has finally heard from the United States Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court’s message is loud and clear: There will be no truth, and no justice, concerning 9/11… at least not in the US court system.

Ellen Mariani’s petition to the Supreme Court sought to reinstate her wrongful death lawsuit against US government officials and others – a suit which had been denied, at lower levels, on the grounds that she had no standing to sue those responsible for her husband’s death! In fact, Ellen Mariani was cheated by lawyers who were secretly working for the other side, and by judges with massive conflicts of interest.

Vincent Gillespie of the Ellen Mariani Legal Defense Fund explains: “It’s politics. They don’t want any 9/11 cases to go forward… If this had come to trial, there’s all kinds of evidence that could have come out.”

Ellen Mariani’s case, like almost all 9/11-related litigation, was channeled through the courtroom of Judge Alvin Hellerstein. Gillespie charges:

“One of the problems was Judge Hellerstein. He’s an immense problem. First, we have Israeli defendants here. ICTS (the airline security company established in 1982 by members of Israeli intelligence) is one of the defendants. And Hellerstein is a Zionist Jew with all kinds of connections to the Jewish community. His sister lives in Israel, his son works in an Israeli law firm, he’s involved in a couple of Jewish organizations in New York. His wife is involved in a Jewish organization. Just that by itself is going to create a conflict of interest. He’ll want to protect Israeli defendants.”

Israeli defendants? Were there Israelis involved in 9/11?

Gillespie explains: “There were over 180 Israelis arrested on and around 9/11. The person overseeing that was Michael Chertoff, a dual national Israeli-American. And he sent them all back with a slap on the wrist for visa violations.”

(Note: The case for Israeli involvement in 9/11 has been made in Christopher Bollyn’s book Solving 9/11; a much shorter brief is available on-line by searching for “Israel Did 9/11, All the Proof in the World!”)

Why would Judge Hellerstein, a man completely bound up in Israeli connections and conflicts of interest, preside over virtually all 9/11-related litigation? Why would Hellerstein’s court repeatedly stymie all 9/11 survivors and family members interested in pursuing justice?

Vincent Gillespie sums it up: “The whole system is controlled by Zionist Jews!”

Here are some of the details given by Gillespie:

“Judge Hellerstein’s son is Joseph Hellerstein. Joseph Hellerstein worked for an Israeli law firm. That Israeli law firm represented a company called B.O.S., Better On-Line Solutions. One of the guys on the board of directors is a very wealthy Israeli man who was formerly the chairman of the Board of Directors of ICTS. Not only that, his family has a majority ownership stake in ICTS – they own more than 50% of the company! Now that company is a defendant in this case. Not only that, but it is the parent company of Hunt-Leigh USA. Hunt-Leigh USA was the passenger screening company that allegedly let all these hijackers on the planes at Logan Airport. And that’s also a defendant in the case.

“And these are not the only (conflicts of interest). These patterns of connections are detailed in the April 2012 filing by Bruce Leichty, Ellen Mariani’s attorney, with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

When they get to the two-judge Appeals Court, guess what happens? One of the judges on that panel is a woman named Susan Carney. Well, she’s married to Lincoln Kaplan, who is entirely involved in the Zionist Jewish community. There’s a conflict of interest right there already. And the presiding judge is Dennis Shanker. And he’s involved in all these Zionist activities. He took this trip to Israel where he was talking to Knesset members and ‘terrorism experts.’ It was funded by Israel. The whole system is controlled by Zionist Jews! So Ellen Mariani’s appeal goes to them! And if you look at their response to Ellen Mariani’s April 19th filing, they’re already calling it anti-Semitic. When they get to the appeals court, they get a Jewish judge. And in this June 6th, 2012 decision, they get really nasty. And just like in the April Gallop case, they threaten sanctions – a huge fine, like $30,000! That’s what they do. They threaten sanctions, they’re starting to throw their weight around. I’m not sure if they’re actually going to get sanctions. But they tried to; that’s what the court tried to do. So there are a lot of problems here. And that’s just one area of improprieties.” Continue reading »

Feb 192013
 

Ninety-nine percent of us live on the wrong side of a one-way mirror

Scientific American
Michael Fertikhttp://www.suenterpriseawards.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Ordinary-Banking-vs-Online-Banking.jpg

Imagine an Internet where unseen hands curate your entire experience. Where third parties predetermine the news, products and prices you see—even the people you meet. A world where you think you are making choices, but in reality, your options are narrowed and refined until you are left with merely the illusion of control.

This is not far from what is happening today. Thanks to technology that enables Google, Facebook and others to gather information about us and use it to tailor the user experience to our own personal tastes, habits and income, the Internet has become a different place for the rich and for the poor. Most of us have become unwitting actors in an unfolding drama about the tale of two Internets. There is yours and mine, theirs and ours.

Here’s how it works. Advertising currently drives the vast majority of the Internet industry by volume of revenue. Silicon Valley is excellent at founding and funding companies that give you free apps and then collect and sell your data when you use them. For most of the Internet’s short history, the primary goal of this data collection was classic product marketing: for example, advertisers might want to show me Nikes and my wife Manolo Blahniks. But increasingly, data collection is leapfrogging well beyond strict advertising and enabling insurance, medical and other companies to benefit from analyzing your personal, highly detailed “Big Data” record without your knowledge. Based on this analysis, these companies then make decisions about you—including whether you are even worth marketing to at all.

As a result, 99 percent of us live on the wrong side of a one-way mirror, in which the other 1 percent manipulates our experiences. Some laud this trend as “personalization”—which sounds innocuous and fun, evoking the notion that the ads we see might appear in our favorite color schemes. What we are talking about, however, is much deeper and significantly more consequential.

For example, federal regulations make it illegal to discriminate in pricing access to credit based on certain personal attributes. But, as Natasha Singer recently reported in the New York Times, technical advances in mining online and offline data have made it possible to skirt the spirit of the law: companies can simply not make any offers to less credit-attractive populations. If you live on the wrong side of the digital tracks, you won’t even see a credit offer from leading lending institutions, and you won’t realize that loans are available to help you with your current personal or professional priorities.

For the past decade, e-commerce sites have altered prices based on your Web habits and personal attributes. What is your geography and your past buying history? How did you arrive at the e-commerce site? What time of day are you visiting? An entire literature has emerged on the ethics, legality and economic promise of pricing optimization. And the field is advancing quickly: last September, Google received a patent on technology that lets a company dynamically price electronic content. For instance, it can push the base price of an e-book up if it determines you are more likely to buy that particular item than an average user; conversely, it can adjust the price down as an incentive if you are judged less likely to purchase. And you won’t even know you are paying more than others for the exact same item.

These blind walls also appear in our digital political lives. As Eli Pariser has observed, the Internet shows us “what it thinks we want to see” by serving up content that matches the hidden profiles created about us based on our daily online interactions. This behind-the-scenes curation reinforces our political points of view through online “echo chambers” that affirm, instead of challenge, what we already believe to be true. As Harvard University scholar Cass Sunstein has written, liberals and conservatives who deliberate questions openly only with people of the same political stripe become more confident and extreme in their views.

Segregation and separation are on the rise. The fun of personalization has a dark side. Continue reading »

Feb 192013
 

Information Liberation
Phillip Smith



An Arizona appeals court has ruled that marijuana users don’t need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence. The common sense-defying ruling came Tuesday in the case of a man who tested positive for an inactive marijuana metabolite that remains in the body for weeks after the high from smoking marijuana has worn off.

The ruling in Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan overturned a decision by a superior court judge who said that it didn’t make sense to prosecute people for driving under the influence if they’re not actually under the influence.

The ruling turned on a close reading of legislative intent in writing the state’s DUID law. The legislation specified the presence of “the metabolite” of THC, and Shilgevorkyan had argued that lawmakers meant “hydroxy-THC, the metabolite which would indicate current impairment, not carboxy-THC, an inactive metabolite that indicates only usage some time in the past.

The appeals court disagreed, citing its decisions on earlier challenges to the DUID. “The legislature intended to create a ‘per se prohibition’ and a ‘flat ban on driving with any proscribed drug in one’s system,” the court noted. “We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not.”

Because the law was drafted to protect public safety, the appeals court said, it should be interpreted broadly to include inactive as well as active compounds.

But Superior Court Commissioner Myra Harris, who had ruled on Shilgevorkyan’s behalf, warned in her earlier opinion that the appeals court’s interpretation of the law would result in people, including out of state medical marijuana patients, being charged with DUI when they are not impaired.

“Residents of these states, particularly those geographically near Arizona, are likely to travel to Arizona,” Harris said in her 2012 ruling upholding the dismissal. “It would be irrational for Arizona to prosecute a defendant for an act that might have occurred outside of Arizona several weeks earlier.”

Shilgevorkyan’s attorney said he plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Continue reading »

Feb 192013
 

Some light was shed yesterday on the apparent “ransacking” of legal materials from defendants in the 9/11 trial.

Lt. Commander George A. Massucco, assistant to the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo Bay, produced the materials, which he said were seized as part of Standard Operating Procedures to maintain safety at the prison facility.

Massucco testified that some of the materials had been confiscated because they were improperly stamped. Legal mail is marked with a stamp when approved, but the stamps need to be dated and initialed, markings which were missing from some of the documents.  He said other materials were seized because they “were disturbing,” and the staff was “concerned for safety reasons” the material would remain in cell.

Among the items in that category were three books in the possession of co-defendant Ramzi bin-al-Shibh: The 9/11 Commission Report, Perfect Soldiers: The 9/11 Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It by Terry McDermott, and The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda by Ali Soufan.  Massucco said he could not account for three pages of legal material bin-al-Shibh’s lawyer, James Harrington, said were also missing.

Among the materials taken from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s cell was toilet paper with writing on it, and a metal pen refill hidden in the binding of a book.  All the items except Black Banners and the pen refill were to be returned.

This week’s controversy over the confiscation of materials from the defendants’ legal bins drew into sharp relief a key point of contention these hearings need to resolve: balancing the confidentiality of attorney-client communication with the need for security at the prison facility.  At the end of the day, the judge threw the problem to both teams to solve; he ordered the defense team to draft a plan for privileged communication to submit to the prosecution in one week.  The prosecution will have another week to respond with their own proposal, or one day to respond if they have no revisions to offer.  The judge will then issue an order based on the proposals.

Early in the day, Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald (Ret.), the military commissions’ convening authority, took the stand and was questioned by Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, the lawyer for co-defendant Mustafa al Hawsawi. Ruiz was arguing that his client had been improperly charged — in legal terms that the referral of charges against his client was “defective.”

As the convening authority, MacDonald — who answers only to the secretary of defense — is responsible for managing the entire military commissions process, including referring charges against he accused, as well as logistics and personnel.

The exchange grew quite heated, with MacDonald becoming angry and shouting responses at Ruiz, whose questions centered around a lack of resources he had been given to defend his client, such as mitigation experts and a translator.  “You were provided opportunities in March of 2011. We provided eight to 10 cleared translators to be dedicated to your team. You rejected those translators,” MacDonald barked.  “The person you picked didn’t have a security clearance.”

Adm. MacDonald’s testimony was cut short however, in order to give the court time to address the issue of the materials seized by the guard force.  His testimony about for the charge of defective referral, as well as a charge of “unlawful command influence,” will continue when the hearings reconvene in April.

There was one area of solid progress in court today.  All sides agreed to the removal of microphones made to look like smoke detectors that had been installed in rooms used by defense lawyers to meet with the accused.  “The sooner, the better,” Judge James Pohl said.  “That would’ve been my low-tech solution anyway.” Continue reading »