Archive for April 7th, 2009

April 7, 2009
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Why the Meltdown Should Have Surprised No One

April 7, 2009

“The  Austrian School of economics is a path towards a more sound economy. It is crucial to move far away from the “fiat currency/derivatives school” that got us into this mess in the first place.”

F.F. 4/7/09

 

The 2009 Henry Hazlitt Memorial Lecture, presented by Peter Schiff. Recorded at the annual Austrian Scholars Conference, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 13 March 2009.

Obusha is trolling for another 9/11-style attack, to invoke a full-blown (albeit ‘charming’) police state: More US Drone Attacks in Pakistan Planned

April 7, 2009
Published: April 6, 2009

WASHINGTON — Despite threats of retaliation from Pakistani militants, senior administration officials said Monday that the United States intended to step up its use of drones to strike militants inPakistan’s tribal areas and might extend them to a different sanctuary deeper inside the country.

On Sunday, a senior Taliban leader vowed to unleash two suicide attacks a week like one on Saturday in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, unless the Central Intelligence Agency stopped firing missiles at militants. Pakistani officials have expressed concerns that the missile strikes from remotely piloted aircraft fuel more violence in the country, and some American officials say they are also concerned about some aspects of the drone strikes.

But as Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy to the region, arrived in Islamabad on Monday, the administration officials said the plan to intensify missile strikes underscored President Obama’s goal to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as to strike at other militant groups allied with Al Qaeda.

Officials are also proposing to broaden the missile strikes to Baluchistan, south of the tribal areas, unless Pakistan manages to reduce the incursion of militants there.

Influential American lawmakers have voiced support for the administration’s position.

Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee, acknowledged last week that “the price is very heavy” when missile strikes mistakenly kill civilians, but he said the strikes were “an extremely effective tool.”

The plans have met strong resistance from Pakistani officials and have also worried some former American officials and some analysts, who say that strikes create greater risks of civilian casualties and could further destabilize the nuclear-armed nation.

“You will be complicating and compounding anti-Americanism here,” said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general and military analyst in Islamabad. “How can you be an ally and at the same time be targeted?”

Some American experts say a crucial change in aerial warfare, in which American forces are now often stalking individuals rather than tanks and other large armaments as in past wars, has raised new legal issues.

A. John Radsan, who worked as a C.I.A. lawyer from 2002 to 2004, argued in a recent scholarly article he wrote with Richard W. Murphy, a fellow law professor, that the United States should follow the lead of the Israeli Supreme Court and require an investigation of “targeted killings” by the C.I.A. to control the practice.

While the notion of remote-control killing may seem chilling, military experts say the drones, which can transmit live video for nearly a day at a time, typically supply the weapons targeting officers with enough information to avoid civilian casualties.

Marc Garlasco, a former military targeting official who now works for Human Rights Watch, the international advocacy group, said the drones had helped limit civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the Air Force uses them to attack people laying roadside bombs and to attack other insurgents.

But in trying to take advantage of what can be fleeting chances to kill top Taliban and Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, the C.I.A. faces a much more difficult task, especially if it follows the targets into more populated areas.

“When you’re operating under very short time frames, like the C.I.A. is in Pakistan, you are exponentially increasing the risk of killing noncombatants,” Mr. Garlasco said.

In Pakistan, the extensive missile strikes have been limited to the tribal areas, and authorities say they have killed 9 of the top 20 Qaeda leaders. American officials say the missile strikes have forced some Taliban and Qaeda leaders to flee south toward Quetta, a city in the province of Baluchistan, which abuts the parts of southern Afghanistan where recent fighting has been the fiercest.

One of the prized attributes of the drones — the Cessna-size Predators and their larger and more heavily armed cousins called the Reapers — is that they can linger over an area day after day, sending back video that can be used to build a “pattern of life” analysis.

Some experts have compared them to mini-satellites that can monitor a suspected terrorist compound for weeks, watching where the people go and with whom they interact, to help confirm that the right people are being singled out for attack.

Experts say the drones also carry laser-guided weapons with small warheads that are precise enough to kill a group of people in a street without damaging nearby buildings.

Like the military services, the C.I.A. uses computer software to assess possible collateral damage, and the fusing on the bombs can be adjusted to limit their impact.

But in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it can also be hard to evaluate tips about the locations of Taliban or Qaeda leaders if there are no troops nearby to help check them out.

While the Air Force operates its drones from military bases in the United States, the C.I.A. controls its fleet of Predators and Reapers from its headquarters in Langley, Va.

The final preparations for strikes in Pakistan take place in a crowded room lined with video screens, where C.I.A. officers work at phone banks and National Security Agencypersonnel monitor electronic chatter, according to former C.I.A. officials.

The intelligence officers watch scratchy video captured by the drones, which always fly in pairs above potential targets.

According to the former officials, it is generally the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service or his deputy who gives the final approval for a strike. The decision about what type of weapon to use depends on the target, according to one former senior intelligence official.

Top national security leaders have approved lists of people who can be attacked, officials say, and the lawyers determine whether each attack can be justified under international law.

Mark Mazzetti and Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/world/asia/07drone.html

Gates Pushes for Radical Overhaul of Pentagon Arsenal

April 7, 2009

070206-D-7203T-013

 

By Noah Shachtman EmailApril 06, 2009 | 2:25:00 PM

Wired.com

 

 

Defense Secretary Gates just proposedthe most sweeping overhaul of America’s arsenal — and of the Pentagon budget — in decades.  Major weapons programs, from aircraft carriers to next-gen bombers to new school fighting vehicles, will be cut back, or eliminated. Billions more will be put into growing the American fighting force, both human and robotic.

For a year and a half, Gates has beentrying to force the American military-industrial establishment to concentrate on the dirty, irregular wars America is actually in — instead of tomorrow’s hypothetical showdowns with China or Russia. After 18 months of jawboning the generals, the defense executives, and the Pentagon bureaucracy, Gates is now backing up his words with a truly radical reworking on the Pentagon’s $1.6 trillion weapons portfolio. Troops and low-cost tools to fight insurgencies and terrorists are in. Gold-plated weaponry for tangling with another superpower are out. Critics will try to paint this new budget as some kind of kneecapping of America’s ability to project power around the world. But really what we have here is the Defense Secretary trying to shake the defense establishment free of the Cold War, finally.

None of this is a done deal — Congress will push back on Gates’ budget, hard. But under his proposal, the Navy will have its new aircraft carrier program slowed, and its hulking destroyer effort cut short. The Air Force will see the production of its prized stealth fighter, the F-22 Raptor, ended at 187 planes — almost two hundred less than what the air service wanted. The Missile Defense Agency’s interceptor portfolio will be reoriented around the threat from rogue states. But the biggest change, perhaps, will be in the Army. Gates is gutting “Future Combat Systems,” the $200 billion behemoth modernization project. (More on that, in the following post.)

Instead, Gates will pour $11 billion into increasing the number of troops in the Army and Marines while halting manpower reductions in the Air Force and the Navy. $2 billion will go towards increasing the number of drones and manned surveillance planes in the skies above Afghanistan and Iraq. Special forces troops will grow by five percent, or 2,800 commandos.

America will still build new ships and fighter jets. But they’ll be less expensive, and come in greater numbers. Production of the Joint Strike Fighter will ramp up to 30 planes next year, from 14 in 2009. Three Littoral Combat Ships — reconfigurable vessels, built for shoreline combat — will be purchased, under Gates’ plan. $900 million will go to proven anti-missile projects.

“Some will say I am too focused on the wars we are in and not enough on future threats,” Gates said at Pentagon press conference this afternoon. “But, it is important to remember that every defense dollar spent to over-insure against a remote or diminishing risk – or, in effect, to ‘run up the score’ in a capability where the United States is already dominant – is a dollar not available to take care of our people, reset the force, win the wars we are in, and improve capabilities in areas where we are underinvested and potentially vulnerable. That is a risk I will not take.”

 

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/04/budget.html

Pentagon Chief Rips Heart Out of Army’s ‘Future’

April 7, 2009

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By Noah Shachtman EmailApril 06, 2009 | 4:17:00 PM

Wired.com

 

In 2003, the U.S. Army introduced its plan to wage the wars of tomorrow. A fleet of light, networked, electric-powered combat vehicles would speed American forces into battle against another superpower military — and win the fight almost instantly, thanks to its unmatched ability to out-think and out-maneuver any foe. The generals called the effort Future Combat Systems, or FCS, and figured the whole thing might cost $92 billion.

But, it turns out, just about every assumption the Army had about its future was wrong. America’s wars wound up being against terrorists and insurgents, not other big armies. The enemy weapons of choice in those fights — metal-shredding roadside bombs — made a priority of more armor, not less. The U.S. military-industrial complex’s attempts to make the combat vehicles electric floundered. The projects to provide battlefield bandwidth fizzled. The already-massive budget for FCS grew, by some estimates, to a truly gargantuan $200 billion. And with every added billion and technology flop, the calls to rework or kill off FCS grew louder.

Now,  Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking to all-but-end the Army’s Future Combat Systems. In his proposal today to radically overhaul of Pentagon’s arsenal, Gates said he wanted to scrap all eight of the vehicles at the heart of FCS — including a next-gen tank, cannon and infantry carrier. “I have concluded that there are significant unanswered questions concerning the FCS vehicle design strategy. I am also concerned that, despite some adjustments, the FCS vehicles — where lower weight, higher fuel efficiency, and greater informational awareness are expected to compensate for less armor — do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gates said.

When they first launched FCS six years ago, the Army’s top generals made a bet — not just on the coming wars around the globe, but on the politics within the Beltway. Ordinarily, weapons systems are bought one class at a time: one particular tank, one particular network, a single model of a fighter jet. But in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Army saw several of its weapons programs killed off by the Pentagon brass. So the generals made a decision, to package what would ordinarily be dozens of programs — new vehicles, new robots, new networks — into a single effort called “Future Combat Systems.” And they awarded the massive contract for the whole thing to a pair of companies, Boeing and SAIC. The executives and the generals said it was to make sure all the gear worked in concert. Critics countered that, by combining all those programs into one, it made FCS too bloated, too ungainly to ever work right. And by the way, they added, why was there so little government oversight of what Boeing and SAIC did?

Gates sided with the critics Monday afternoon. “I am troubled by the terms of the current contract, particularly its very unattractive fee structure that gives the government little leverage to promote cost efficiency,” he said. “Because the vehicle part of the FCS program is currently estimated to cost over $87 billion, I believe we must have more confidence in the program strategy, requirements and maturity of the technologies before proceeding further.”

Bits of FCS will continue. Small ground robots and drones developed under the program will be “spun out” soon to the troops. But, if Gates has his way, the generals’ original vision for Future Combat Systems is over. As one Capitol Hill source put it, “They wanted to make it too big to fail, and in the process, made it a failure.”

 

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/04/gates-rips-hear.html

Cybersecurity Bill Gives Obama Dictatorial Power Over Internet

April 7, 2009

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars
April 6, 2009

 

As we reported on March 22 when Jay Rockefeller was peddling nonsense about a pimple-faced kid in Latvia taking down the power grid in America with a laptop computer, the current wave of fear-mongering about cyber terrorism is just that — unsubstantiated fear-mongering. Critical networks are largely protected and “nightmarish tales of their vulnerability tend to be largely apocryphal,” according to Gabriel Weimann, author of Terror on the Internet. “Psychological, political, and economic forces have combined to promote the fear of cyberterrorism.”

Indeed, there are political forces are behind Senate bills No. 773 and 778, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who declared last month that we would all be better off if the internet was never invented. Rockefeller meant the government would be better off if the internet was never invented. If the internet was never invented, the corporate media would dominate news and information and alternative media restricted to print would have a far more difficult time counter balancing government propaganda. Government and the elite behind it are sincerely worried about the fact increasing numbers of people get their news from alternative media sources on the internet and corporate media newspapers are falling like dominoes.

“If we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina,” said fear-monger Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who is co-sponsoring the bill. “We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs – from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records – the list goes on,” added Rockefeller.

Rockefeller’s bills introduced in the Senate — known as the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 — would create yet another government bureaucracy, the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor. It would report directly to Obama. Rockefeller’s legislation would grant “the Secretary of Commerce access to all privately owned information networks deemed to be critical to the nation’s infrastructure “without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule or policy restricting such access” (see a  working draft of the legislation here).

In other words, Obama would have a Cyber Czar in the Commerce Department and the power to shut down the internet.

The cybersecurity fraud now in motion will grant the Department of Commerce oversight of “critical” networks, such as banking records, would grant the government access to potentially incriminating information obtained without cause or warrant, a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Mother Jones. 

“The whole thing smells bad to me,” writes Larry Seltzer for eWeek. “I don’t like the chances of the government improving this situation by taking it over generally, and I definitely don’t like the idea of politicizing this authority by putting it in the direct control of the president.”

Obama’s internet agenda is an extension of his effort to impose government control over the private sector. Republicans call this socialism. In a way it is socialism, but not the kind you were told about in high school — it is a socialism devised by the Trilateralists and Council on Foreign Relations. It is a system of control that will be imposed by the bankers and has nothing to do equality for all individuals or a fair or egalitarian method of compensation for workers. Banker socialism is about serfdom and poverty.

It should be obvious what is going on here. Not if but when the next false flag attack occurs here in America, the elite will turn off the internet in order to control the flow of information. They will tell us they were forced to do this in order to deny terrorists in caves or driving around with Ron Paul bumper stickers on their cars the ability to sabotage the power grid and banks.

Senate bills No. 773 and 778 are about controlling information. The bills have nothing to do with mischievous kids with laptops in Latvia.

http://www.infowars.com/cybersecurity-bill-gives-obama-dictatorial-power-over-internet/

Massive Checkpoint Operation in Tennessee Violated Posse Comitatus, Fourth Amendment

April 7, 2009

12

 

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars
April 6, 2009

 

 

On April 3, Infowars reported on the decision of the Tennessee Governor’s office to call off an illegal seat belt checkpoint operation that was scheduled to be conducted by the Whiteville police with DHS and military participation on April 4.

Earlier today on the Alex Jones Show, Tennessee Representative Johhny Shaw admitted he was unaware of the planned operation. He also said Governor Phil Bredesen did not know the DHS and military planned to collaborate with local police in Shaw’s district in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

Alex talks with Tennessee Representative Johhny Shaw

Shaw’s admission state government was unaware of the scheduled checkpoint is more evidence the feds are contacting local police agencies directly without going through the state or informing them of operations that are in violation of the law.

 

It appears this is not the case in regard to another illegal operation. Last month, DHS, federal and state agencies, the Air Force, and local law enforcement worked together to violate the law in Tennessee.

On March 31, 2009, theMarion County News reported on a truck checkpoint set-up by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Homeland Security, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the Monteagle Police Department, the Tennessee National Guard, the Arnold Air Force Base Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Department of Commerce and Insurance and the FBI.

“Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers led explosive and drug sniffing dogs around the bases of trucks while National Guardsmen circled overseas containers with explosive and radiation detecting hand held devices in a scene reminiscent of ‘24’. Dozens of law enforcement vehicles, lights flashing, lined the brake inspection station, as trucks, both private and commercial, queued in the far right lane of 24 for what seemed like miles,” reports a Marion County News reporter.

According to a Tennessee Department of Safety press release, the object if the Homeland Security type checkpoints is to stop, evaluate and inspect as many commercial vehicles as possible, focusing in commercial vehicles, rental trucks and cargo tanks. Furthermore, these checkpoints will be held randomly throughout the year.

“The object (of the checkpoint) is to look at as many trucks as possible. I want to find something,” Sergeant John Harmon told law enforcement officials during the pre-checkpoint briefing. “I want to prevent something from happening.”

 

Harmon didn’t discover anything one might find in an episode of 24. However, over a span of ten hours, cops issued dozens of tickets on 285 eastbound for everything from safety defects to DUI.

Posse Comitatus was violated during the massive operation held on March 24 due to the fact the Arnold Air Force Base Police participated.

As noted above, DHS and the military intend to participate in additional sweeps — not simply in violation of Posse Comitatus but also the Fourth Amendment — randomly throughout the year. Tennessee residents need to contact local and state officials and demand the Constitution and Posse Comitatus be respected.

 

Obama’s safety net: the TelePrompter

April 7, 2009

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By  | 3/5/09 1:04 PM EDT

 

President Barack Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his TelePrompter. 

The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president’s prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks. 

Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House’s stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks. 

Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small. 

After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck. 

His use of the teleprompter makes work tricky for the television crews and photographers trying to capture an image of the president announcing a new Cabinet secretary or housing plan without a pane of glass blocking his face. And it is a startling sight to see such sleek, modern technology set against the mahogany doors and Bohemian crystal chandeliers in the East Room or the marble columns of the Grand Foyer.

“It’s just something presidents haven’t done,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a presidential historian who has held court in the White House since December 1975. “It’s jarring to the eye. In a way, it stands in the middle between the audience and the president because his eye is on the teleprompter.” 

Just how much of a crutch the teleprompter has become for Obama was on sharp display during his latest commerce secretary announcement. The president spoke from a teleprompter in the ornate Indian Treaty Room for a few minutes. Then Gov. Gary Locke stepped to the podium and pulled out a piece of paper for reference. 

The president’s teleprompter also elicited some uncomfortable laughter after he announced Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his choice for Health and Human Services secretary. “Kathy,” Obama said, turning the podium over to Sebelius, who waited at the microphone for an awkward few seconds while the teleprompters were lowered to the floor and the television cameras rolled. 

Obama has relied on a teleprompter through even the shortest announcements and when repeating the same lines on his economic stimulus plan that he’s been saying for months — whereas past presidents have mostly worked off of notes on the podium except during major speeches, such as the State of the Union.

Ari Fleischer, a former spokesman for George W. Bush, said while it’s entirely a matter of personal style, using a teleprompter at these smaller events has its drawbacks. 

“It removes you from the audience in the room,” Fleischer said. When speaking from notes, Fleischer said, the president can pick up his head and make eye contact with those in the audience, as opposed to focusing on the teleprompter to his left and right. 

Bush, Fleischer added, “would use the teleprompter for his major big events, but when he would travel around the country or do events, he would almost always work off of large index cards.” 

The White House says Obama’s point of reference is insignificant. 

“Whether one uses note cards or a teleprompter, the American people are a lot more concerned about the plans relayed than the method of delivery. This is not always true of the media,” said Bill Burton, deputy press secretary.

Obama has never tried to hide his use of a teleprompter. It was a mainstay during the final months of his campaign. He brought it to county fairs and campaign rallies alike — and once had it set up in the ring at a rodeo. 

In a break from his routine, Obama did not use a teleprompter during his pre-Inauguration speech at a factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio — and his delivery seemed to suffer. He paused too long at parts. He accentuated the wrong words. And overall he sounded hesitant and halting as he spoke from the prepared remarks on the podium. 

As president, the stakes in what he says are higher. Governing is not campaigning, and, as a former first-term senator, Obama has not held a previous elected position where his words carried even close to this level of influence. 

“In this kind of environment, you don’t want to make mistakes — on the economy you’re talking about doing things that affect the markets,” Kumar said. 

But be it extra precaution, style or a mental crutch, Obama has shown in the past that he needs the teleprompter. And while he still has his prepared remarks placed on the podium in a leather folder, the White House has shown no sign of trying to wean him off of it. 

Before Obama entered a room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Wednesday to announce his crackdown on defense contracts, a CNN reporter asked an Obama aide if the teleprompter could be moved further away from the podium or lowered. The answer was an unequivocal ‘no.’ 

“He uses them to death,” a television crewmember who also covered the White House under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said of the teleprompter. “The problem is, he never looks at you. He’s looking left, right, left, right — not at the camera. It’s almost like he’s not making eye contact with the American people.” 

Wednesday’s event posed another scenario photographers and television crews have to work around. Obama had five others join him at the announcement, including Sen. John McCain. The takeaway shot was of Obama and McCain. But the teleprompter on Obama’s left was almost directly in front of McCain. 

“You couldn’t get a good angle on him with McCain,” said a White House photographer who also covered Bush. “So if there’s someone else important in the frame, it’s hard to get a shot without the teleprompter.”

 

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19663.html