Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Review: Anti-Nazi Lawyer Paid for Choices

By Linda Short
May. 31, 2009

In the time after the failed Munich Beer Hall putsch, his short-lived imprisonment, and the writing and publication of Mein Kampf, but before his appointment as chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler was summoned as a prosecution witness by lawyer Hans Litten in the trial of four storm troopers.

The storm troopers were charged with attempted murder as members of a “roll commando” — essentially a paramilitary unit whose function was to seek out and attack or even kill political opponents.

“Crossing Hitler” offers an unfamiliar look at the life of — and consequences for — Litten, a 27-year-old Mischlinge (“crossbreed,” having Jewish ancestry) who intentionally chose cases that brought him into direct conflict with the rising Nazi party.

The failed putsch taught Hitler the need for acquiring power through legal means.

To that end, the succeeding years saw him trying to achieve a balance between proclaimed legality designed to reassure middle-class voters and cautious support of the violent proclivities of the SA, the storm troopers, in order to also keep their allegiance. That internal SA revolts against Hitler and the central Nazi party leadership erupted periodically indicates how delicate the balance was.

After a one-year ban following a deadly Berlin brawl, the Berlin SA began a new strategy for gaining political support: gradually moving in and taking over taverns in working- class districts where the political opponents of the Nazis predominated. Using the taverns as a base, SA members went out into neighborhoods fomenting violence.

The SA’s Storm 33 armed attack at the Eden Dance Palace gave rise to the trial in which attorney Litten called Hitler as a witness.

This trial was not the first time Litten had confronted members of Storm 33 in court. But in the Eden trial, Litten’s strategy was markedly different from that of the reluctant state prosecutor Stenig. Litten intended to use the trial to make a broad political point: “that the violence committed by Storm 33 was an essential element of the Nazi program” carried out on Hitler’s direct orders.

In this way, Litten hoped to expose the contradictions on which the Nazis’ appeal was based.

Only someone like Litten could dare to summon prominent leaders to give account in court. With his photographic memory and confidential information supplied by disgruntled SA members, Litten subjected Hitler to a “withering cross-examination” that left Hitler sputtering.

Litten’s choice of strategy ensured that he would be hated, remembered, and among the first arrested after Hitler was named chancellor.

The issue of choice is a real, significant and complex one. In all my classes I ask students to consider the choices they have made or might make in the face of antisemitic remarks, actions or stereotypes.

We consider Yehuda Bauer’s proposition, expressed in his “Rethinking the Holocaust,” that “any event is the result of the interaction of an infinite number of causal chains ... that ... interact and constantly change positions ... [based on] choices; and it is people who make the choices.”

Litten himself faced life-or-death choices, which he called the “double edge of the deed.” When confronted with the questions of how much to risk, he chose the dangerous answers over the safe ones, dying in a concentration camp despite international efforts to free him.

Litten’s story offers the reader an opportunity to ponder the choices he made, to consider the reasons why the German Association of Democratic Lawyers and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights today give an annual prize for human rights advocacy in his name, and to challenge one’s personal choices when confronted with violations of justice and human rights, whether in the United States or abroad.

Linda Short, who has a law degree, is lecturer in Jewish Studies with an emphasis in the Holocaust at Penn State.

California Now Faces Budget Cuts “Beyond Draconian”

One of the first targets is 200 state parks, already causing a public outcry as summer approaches.

By Daniel B. Wood
May 30, 2009

LOS ANGELES - Before this state’s May 19 vote on five initiatives intended to solve the state’s chronic fiscal difficulties, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — in person on the stump and via TV ad blitzes up and down the state — told voters that if the measures did not pass, the resulting budget cuts would be “draconian.”

In the days after the measures went down in flames, the announcements have come rapid fire, and various constituencies are reeling — calling the cuts “beyond draconian.” Some 235,000 state workers will have to take a 5 percent pay cut. Of the state’s 279 state parks, 200 will be closed. Schwarzenegger’s plan to dismantle the Cal Grant program — considered one of the nation’s best programs to help poorer students cover full fees or tuition at public colleges — would make California the first US state to eliminate student financial aid while raising tuition.

The list goes on and on:

A massive plan to overhaul healthcare in state prisons will be scaled back. A Senate bill which would have created a state-run system to provide healthcare to every Californian has been scrapped. A CalWorks program providing medical, dental, and vision care to 90,000 children will be eliminated. Hundreds of new spending programs have been sidelined, and the local budgets of cities and counties have been raided to make ends meet.

“We recognize the fiscal situation in California, and as much as we would love to be doing new and different things in California, we simply don’t have the money,” says Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) of Sacramento. After closing a $41.5 billion budget gap in February, the state has another $24.3 billion deficit in a $92 billion general fund budget.

Besides the pay cuts to state workers, one of the most highly-visible and painful cutbacks will be the closure of state parks, not just at the beginning of the summer season in which they are needed most, but in a recession year in which many vacationers are opting to say close to home to save money.

“This is going to be devastating,” says Jerry Emory, director of communications for the California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization which raises money to support parks. State parks had a record 80 million visits last year, and every indication is this year would have exceeded that, with reservations for the year filling up just hours after opening in January.

Besides laying off staff, the effect to local economies will be even worse. Studies show that for every dollar spent at a state park, $2.35 is generated for the state’s general fund through the ripple effect at nearby stores, attractions such as ferries, restaurants, souvenir stores, and other amenities. Closing the parks also creates law enforcement challenges and the further deterioration of buildings, restrooms, trails, and roads.

“Closing parks costs a lot of money. We already have $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance,” says Mr. Emory, “and that figure will balloon way beyond that while this closure is in effect.”

Emory says his foundation website is creating easy links to legislators for citizens to vent their anger and hopefully change Schwarzenegger’s directive by next Tuesday, when a budget meeting is scheduled. The governor announced the closure of 48 state parks last year, but later changed his mind after a public outcry.

Parks that will remain open are state beaches and other parks used by off-road vehicles and boats whose funding comes from taxes and fees generated by such boats and vehicles. Some beaches attract enough visitors to operate from parking, admissions, and other concessions fees. Some critics have said that the amount of savings is so minuscule from parks — only $70 million — that the governor may be using the high-visibility parks issue to provoke public pressure on legislators to solve the budget problem.

But spokesman for the governor’s Department of Finance, H.D. Palmer, says the governor’s proposals are “not a test.”

“We have been forced to put forward proposals that would have been unthinkable even a few short months ago,” Palmer says.

Staff writer Gloria Goodale contributed to this report.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

West Plots to Supplant United Nations with Global NATO

by Rick Rozoff
May 28, 2009

"A revived, robust, empowered and democratized UN must shift focus from a disproportionate emphasis on negotiating trade, treaty and other agreements in service to world commerce and in ceding vast tracts of the earth to interested parties under suspicious circumstances, as with the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon and 2.2 million square kilometers of the resource-rich Antarctic Ocean to Australia recently, to what needs to be its main objective: Exerting all efforts to eliminate forever the scourge of war."

Ten years ago it first became evident to the world that moves were afoot in major Western capitals to circumvent, subvert and ultimately supplant the United Nations, as the UN could not always be counted on to act in strict accordance with the dictates of the United States and its NATO allies. ...

"'[Madeleine] Albright ... and a handful of others (Michael Sheehan, Jamie Rubin) had entered into a pact together in 1996 to oust Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General of the United Nations, a secret plan we had called Operation Orient Express, reflecting our hope that many nations would join us in doing in the UN head. In the end, the US had to do it alone (with its UN veto) and Sheehan and I had to prevent the President from giving in to pressure from world leaders and extending Boutros-Ghali's tenure, often by our racing to the Oval Office when we were alerted that a head of state was telephoning the President. In the end Clinton was impressed that we had managed not only to oust Boutros-Ghali but to have Kofi Annan selected to replace him.' ... "


Friday, May 29, 2009

Doctor Condemns Conditions in Sri Lankan Detention Camps

By our correspondent
27 May 2009

The Sri Lankan government has herded about 300,000 Tamil civilians who fled the north-eastern war zone into camps around the northern city of Vavuniya. While the government has dubbed them “welfare centres,” in reality they are detention centres where people are forced to live in crowded conditions without adequate food and other basic necessities.

Detainees faced the brunt of intense shelling and bombing when the Sri Lankan army launched its final offensive to annihilate the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Amnesty International has reported: “The civilians who survived weeks under heavy combat reached the camps sometimes badly injured, malnourished, exhausted and traumatised. The displaced civilians are suffering from widespread and serious human rights violations at the hands of government security forces and allied paramilitary forces, including enforced disappearance; extra-judicial executions; torture and other ill-treatments, and forced recruitment to paramilitary groups.”

The government has severely curtailed access to the camps for the media, aid workers and anyone else who might report on the conditions in the centres. We publish below an account given by a doctor to the WSWS about the condition of people in one camp. He was among team of doctors who visited the camp to provide medical treatment. We have withheld his name for security reasons.
A group of us went to a “hospital” located in Chettikulam about 300 kilometres from Colombo, close to Vavuniya. It was, in fact, a school turned into a hospital. There was no residential doctor. Instead, doctors and other health workers from outside treated patients in a camp set up in the school grounds, making use of school furniture and folding beds. There were about 150 patients in the makeshift hospital.

The place was called a satellite camp of the main Manik Farm camp, where hundreds of thousands of people are interned, about three kilometres away.

When we were going to Chettikulam, we had to undergo a full security check at the army checkpoint near Manik Farm. We were not allowed cameras, camera phones or any recording items. Manik Farm is surrounded by three fences of barbed and razor wire. Through the fences we could see a sea of white tents. Thousands of people, including men, women and children, could be seen moving about under the hot sun. Trees had been uprooted in order to set up the camp. Hundreds of heavily-armed personnel were patrolling in and around the camp.

We heard several announcements over the public address system urging unidentified LTTE cadres to surrender. I have read about Nazi concentration camps. I thought these must be similar to them.

Conditions in the camp were appalling. Having enough water to wash one’s face and hands was a luxury. The water in this area is not good. People were given water brought from bowsers.

There were toilets covered with polythene and no doors at all. Due to the lack of water, people did not use the toilets and instead relieved their bowels outside. But there was no water to wash after relieving. Food and other supplies were very limited. These people were not treated as human beings and had to live like pigs.

When we went to the medical clinic, thousands of people gathered around and asked for food and water. This spoke a lot about their condition. Hundreds came to complain about their illnesses. We asked them to form a queue. Within a few minutes, the queue stretched for hundreds of metres. However, we were able to treat only about 500 patients.

There were soldiers guarding them. The army provided a translator because the refugees were only able speak in their mother-tongue, Tamil. It appeared that they were reluctant to speak, cautious of the guard and translator.

Almost every child was malnourished, and most had wounds around their mouths. There was no point even talking about the quality of their teeth—many were suffering from lung and throat infections. Others had chickenpox or diarrhoea. For malnourished children, these diseases can be critical. Many required hospitalisation, but we were able to hospitalise only a few as the “hospital” was overcrowded.

These people had been living in the Vanni. Most of the children had been unable to go to school for years due to the war, as well as the lack of school facilities after nearly three decades of war. Before the army captured the area, it had been under LTTE control. One mother told me that most of the time she had had to feed her children with only rice and salt water. As the war intensified, they had had to pay 1,000 rupees ($US8.70) for a one kilo of rice and 500 rupees for a kilo of dhal. Two tablets of Panadol had cost 100 rupees.

We could not see any facial expression from the majority of the detainees. They were traumatised. They could not give rational answers and they needed mental health treatment. Mothers had to feed infants with biscuits because they were not provided with milk powder. Ladies’ sanitary wear was not available at all. Almost all the people were dressed in old, dirty clothes.

It was shocking that there was not a single residential doctor for this camp which housed hundreds of refugees. Every doctor in our team thought the situation in the camp was pathetic. We don’t believe that the government will or can fulfil the sea of needs of these people. Even the most developed country could not do this alone.

People in the south of Sri Lanka don’t know the real situation in the camps since the government has restricted the news and aid access. The Sri Lankan media does not give a true picture. If people knew the reality, they would help the refugees. People did that after the tsunami [in December 2004]. I am sure of that. They might also condemn the situation in the camps and express anger.

Spanish Prosecutor Targets Alleged Nazi Guards in US

Pedro Martinez Torrijos calls for international arrest warrants for three alleged concentrations camp guards currently living in US, says Spain has jurisdiction under its principle of universal justice

Associated Press (Excerpt)

A Spanish prosecutor called Friday for international arrest warrants for three alleged former Nazi death camp guards living in the United States, saying evidence shows they acted as accessories to genocide. ...

The suspects are Anton Tittjung, of Kewaunee, Wis.; Josias Kumpf, who lives in Racine, Wis.; and Johann Leprich, who lives near Detroit. ...

Equipo Nizkor, the Brussels-based rights group that filed the original complaint in Spain, says thousands of Spaniards were among the millions killed in Nazi concentration camps. It says more than 7,000 Spaniards were held at Mauthausen, for instance, and at least 4,300 of them died.

The group says US authorities have tried for years to deport the four suspects, alleging they lied about their Nazi pasts on their immigration papers.

Most Spaniards in Nazi camps were leftist Republicans who fled to France during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 and were captured while fighting German troops. ...

Full story,7340,L-3723234,00.html

Drummond Accused of Paying Death Squad To Assassinate Union Leaders in Colombia
May 28, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (CN) - Drummond Co. paid a Colombian death squad millions of dollars to murder and terrorize union workers at its coal mine, hundreds of people claim in Federal Court. They claim the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia used a "scorched earth policy ... torturing and murdering" and displacing thousands of peasants from their homes along Drummond's railroad line in Cesar and Magdalena provinces.

"Almost every family in these provinces lost a family member, a neighbor or friend to war crimes committed by the AUC during its brutal civil war with the FARC," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs also sued Alfredo Araujo Castro, Drummond's "manager of community relations" in Colombia, and James Atkins, its director of security in Colombia.

They claim, among other things, that Araujo committed perjury when he testified in June 2005, in Romero v. Drummond Co., that he had never met with "his childhood friend, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias Jorge 40, the leader of the AUC's Northern Block ... or any other AUC members."

They claim that Atkins and Araujo were present at a meeting with death squad leaders in November 2000 "at the entrance to Drummond's mine in La Loma," and that "at this meeting, defendant Atkins, on behalf of Drummond, approved a payment to the AUC of the assassination of the top leaders of the Drummond union".

Plaintiffs' lead counsel is Garfield Ivey Jr. of Jasper, Ala.

Mom in swastika case has online history of hate

Parent of girl in custody battle posts on pro-white forum, says her now-closed skinhead website ‘was a joke'

Patrick White
Globe and Mail/
May. 29, 2009

The couple who sent their seven-year-old daughter to school with white supremacist slogans drawn on her skin once set up a pro-skinhead website that was the subject of a criminal complaint.

Now deleted, the website aimed to attract skinheads interested in “looking out for each other and helping to cleanse the area we live in,” according to a statement on the homepage.

The girl's mother says the website “was a joke” and has repeatedly denied allegations that she preached hate to her daughter and two-year-old son. The province of Manitoba seized both children last year shortly after the daughter was sent to school with a swastika and white supremacist slogans on her ski and is seeking permanent custody in a Winnipeg court.

No one involved in the case can be identified under Manitoba law.

Social workers have testified that during interviews with the girl she spouted racial epithets and said “What people don't understand is that black people should die.”

The mother said she believes social workers coaxed her daughter into uttering the statements. “My daughter would never say anything like that,” she said in an interview.

The website, however, suggests the couple were fluent in such language.

Song lyrics on the site advocate hatred of Jews, blacks and gays.

The lyrics also glorify General Heinz Guderian, father of the German army's Second World War blitzkrieg tactics.

In the site's “Rants” section, diatribes target the mentally challenged and aboriginals.

Ottawa human-rights lawyer Richard Warman lodged a criminal complaint regarding the site in 2005. “I think it's regrettable that charges were never laid in 2005 which might have avoided this whole debacle now,” he said in an e-mail.

In an interview Wednesday, the mother – who is now living outside Manitoba and has not attended the custody hearing – admitted the couple created the site, but closed it shortly after police came knocking. “We were investigated for that one,” she said. “They took me in one room and [the father] in another.”

She is also an avid commenter on Web forums at, a “pro-white” site, where she has posted comments expressing hatred of Jews.

But the mother insists her indelible online fingerprint can be misunderstood without context.

“A skinhead is just a working-class white person,” she said, referring to the roots of skinhead culture in England during the 1950s. “Just because some skinheads want to go gay-bashing doesn't mean we all do it.”

She has been an self-professed skinhead from age 11 and said she remains one today despite her kids being taken away.

She said that throughout high school, she buried her nose in law and history books, studying the legal implications of her beliefs. She said she may have let racist remarks slip in front of her children from time to time, but said it was never with malicious intent.

“I might have come home and said something like ‘That stupid nigger at 7-Eleven asked me for ID again and now I've got to go back,'” she said. “Or it could be like, one of my best friends, I make fun of him for being a Pollack. He calls me a Scottish bitch, you know.”

While she moderates her own views, she said she can't speak on behalf of her husband. The couple separated soon after Child and Family Services took their children away.

“We've had several arguments on politics,” she said. “I have said to him ‘You're a bigot.'”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Could a teenage girl topple Berlusconi?

She calls him 'daddy'. He bought her a £6,000 necklace for her 18th. Silvio Berlusconi's relationship with Noemi Letizia has already seen his wife file for divorce. Now, could it cost him his grip on power? ...


Controversial Bishop's Order Anti-Semitic, Too

Beyond the Bishop
By Heidi Beirich
Summer 2009

Dickinson, Texas — Twenty miles north of Galveston, at the busy intersection of two once-rural state highways that are now crowded with mini-malls and drugstores, stands the oldest church in the United States belonging to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). A peaceful Catholic church with priests in residence, Queen of Angels shows no sign of the international controversy that erupted in January, when Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of four SSPX bishops.

Bishop Richard Williamson

Most of that controversy has centered on one of the reinstated bishops, Richard Williamson, who is infamous for his Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. In January, just a few days before the pontiff invited Williamson back into the church, he appeared on a Swedish TV program insisting the Nazis had no gas chambers. "I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against — is hugely against — 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler," Williamson said. "I believe there were no gas chambers."

The Vatican said the pope had been unaware of Williamson's views, which provoked a firestorm of criticism, some of it from ranking Catholic officials.

By the end of January, the pope had decided Williamson would not be allowed to perform priestly functions unless he recanted his views. In early February, Williamson was also suspended from his post as head of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina, and SSPX Superior General Bernard Fellay issued an order forbidding Williamson to make "any public statements on political or historical issues." Later in the month, Argentina expelled the bishop and he returned to his native England.

That wasn't all. Fellay also told the world that Williamson's beliefs "do not in any way reflect the position of our Society." But the facts do not support him. The truth is that Williamson's thinking reflects much of basic SSPX doctrine.

As the international furor over Williamson grew, SSPX officials rushed to scrub their websites of offending material. In February, for instance, a 1997 article by two SSPX priests that called for locking Jews into ghettos because "Jews are known to kill Christians" disappeared. But the makeover was far from complete.

Still on at press time was a 1959 letter from a close friend of SSPX's founder. "Money, the media, and international politics are for a large part in the hands of Jews," Bishop Gerald Sigaud wrote. "Those who have revealed the atomic secrets of the USA were … all Jews. The founders of communism were Jews." And as of early February, the Canadian SSPX website still hosted an archive of Williamson's anti-Semitic letters, one of which complains that "Jews have come closer and closer to fulfilling their … drive toward world domination."

SSPX and Queen of Angels

SSPX, which has chapels and schools across the U.S. and worldwide, was founded in 1970 by the late French archbishop, Marcel-François Lefebvre, a hard rightist who supported the pro-Nazi Vichy regime. Though he participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) that enacted several liberalizing reforms within the church, Lefebvre ultimately refused to sign certain of the council's final reports and in 1974 publicly denounced the effort as heretical. He was particularly upset by the adoption of the new Mass, celebrated in local languages instead of the traditional Latin. As a result, then-Pope Paul VI ordered the archbishop to shut down his Swiss seminary, but Lefebvre refused to comply, leading the Vatican to suspend his right to perform priestly functions (a step short of excommunication) in 1976. In 1988, Lefebvre took his most radical step yet, consecrating four bishops, including Williamson, in defiance of the Vatican. Pope John Paul II then excommunicated Lefebvre and his bishops, declaring SSPX in formal schism with the church.

Queen of Angels was the first SSPX church founded in the U.S. and served as the group's headquarters until 1978, when the leadership moved to St. Marys, Kan.

Dedicated by Lefebvre in 1977, the property features a pretty white church, set amid dormitories and a shrine to the Virgin Mary, that looks like it was built by Texas' original Spanish settlers. Attached to the front of the church is a big, bronze plaque announcing that it is part of SSPX and that traditional Latin masses are held twice daily. Inside the church itself are an impressive altar, stone sculptures and stained glass windows. Today, the only hint of the recent controversy is a notice on the inner doors of a letter from Superior General Fellay, expressing "our filial gratitude" for the lifting of the excommunications. No mention is made of the Pope's subsequent demand that Williamson recant his Holocaust denial—even though Williamson's views, and the Pope's rejection of them, have been broadcast around the world.

Perhaps there is a reason for why nothing is said of Williamson at Queen of Angels. As the place where the SSPX's Angelus Press first set up shop, the church itself has long been in the business of peddling anti-Semitism. Proudly on display in the small and musty one-room Queen of Angels bookstore, which is located behind the church, are all sorts of Catholic materials, from rosaries to advent calendars — plus hate literature, much of it either published or sold by Angelus Press. The history section prominently displays Hilaire Belloc's The Jews, which blames Jews for Bolshevism and corrupt financial practices. In a tall turnstile filled with pamphlets are several copies of Time Bombs of the Second Vatican Council, where SSPX's former superior general, Rev. Fr. Franz Schmidberger, pontificates on the Vatican Council's evils. Schmidberger denounces Third World immigration into Western countries as "destroying our national identity and, furthermore, the whole of Christianity," and goes on to accuse the Jews collectively of deicide.

Also on hand at Queen of Angels bookstore are dozens of current and back copies of The Angelus, a monthly magazine put out by the SSPX that has published several extremists. Found in the pages of The Angelus (and carried on the SSPX's website) are the writings of the late Father Denis Fahey, whose main topic was the inherent evil of the "Jewish Nation" and who is quoted on a white supremacist site devoted to "1,001 Quotes By and About Jews"; John Vennari, who publishes Catholic Family News and has written of a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy to destroy the church; and Robert Sungenis, the leader of a particularly virulent group called Catholic Apologetics International who frequently reminds people that the 1911 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia "predicts the anti-Christ will come from Jewry."

One item that was not on hand at Queen of Angels was the viciously anti-Semitic conspiracy tome, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which has been sold in the last few years by representatives of Angelus Press at far-right Catholic conferences and, in the past, from its headquarters in St. Marys, Kan. The Protocols probably won't surface again — SSPX officials have been cleaning their websites of controversial materials since the Williamson controversy erupted.

The 1997 article that was scrubbed, published by The Angelus and written by Michael Crowdy and Kenneth Novak, didn't stop at accusing Jews of murdering Christians. The article also blames Jews for the French Revolution, communism and capitalism; suggests a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy has destroyed the Catholic Church; and says Judaism is "inimical to all nations." The Williamson letters remaining on the Canadian SSPX website also were revealing. In "WTC—The Wage of Sin," Williamson blames the 9/11 terrorist attacks on "the would-be architects of the New World Order" who are clearly Jews, although he is not explicit. "In the Catholic Middle Ages the Jews were relatively impotent to harm Christendom, but as Catholics have grown over the centuries since then weaker and weaker in the faith, especially since Vatican II, so the Jews have come closer and closer to fulfilling their substitute-Messianic drive towards world dominion," he added.

Assessing SSPX

Williamson is only one of many SSPX leaders who have expressed anti-Semitic views. Also on the Canadian site at press time was a piece by SSPX Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Herkel called "Is the Anti-Christ Coming?" Herkel asserts that Jews are considering rebuilding "the ancient Temple of Jerusalem" which he argues "would fit in with the devil's desire to mock the holy places of God." "If the ancient Temple is rebuilt and is the place where the Antichrist will receive divine worship, it must follow that the Antichrist will be Jewish," Herkel writes. "The devil will not fail to make use of their blindness to foist the Antichrist upon them," he concludes.

Other SSPX officials sound similar. In 1997, French SSPX Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, one of the four bishops excommunicated by Pope John Paul II, wrote that "Jews are the most active partisans for the coming of the anti-Christ." After the Williamson controversy broke out, Fr. Floriano Abrahamowicz, a pastor and spokesperson for the SSPX in Northern Italy, defended Williamson and said he, too, was unsure if gas chambers were used for anything but disinfection or whether 6 million Jews were really murdered. He called the Jews a "people of deicide."

Not all members of SSPX agree. Father Paul Morgan, the SSPX district superior for Great Britain, issued a statement in late January denouncing Williamson and declaring his division's opposition to "all forms of racism and anti-Semitism." Even so, the anti-Semitism that has been expressed by SSPX leaders, sold by Angelus Press and published on the group's websites makes a mockery of Superior General Fellay's statement that Williamson's beliefs "do not in any way reflect the position of our Society." Williamson is also making a mockery of Fellay's demand that he not "make any public statements on political or historical issues."

In a Feb. 9 interview with the leading German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, Williamson, who is being investigated in Germany for having violated that country's criminal laws forbidding Holocaust denial, said he would reevaluate the facts of the Holocaust — including, presumably, his claim that fewer than 300,000 people died in Nazi death camps. But he added that the information available in the 1980s put the existence of the gas chambers and the entire Holocaust in question. Asked if he would visit any concentration camps, he declared, "I will not travel to Auschwitz."

How any of this squares with Pope Benedict XVI's statement on Feb. 12 that the Catholic Church "is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism" is unclear. Meanwhile Rev. Arnaud Sélégny, the general secretary of the SSPX international headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland, is on record saying that Williamson would certainly be included in any reconciliation between SSPX and the Vatican because "everybody is allowed to have his opinion in the Society."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Children, Unlamented Victims of Bush War Crimes

08 MAY 2009 00:00

Torture has received the most attention among the many war crimes of the Bush administration. But those who support Bush’s pursuit of the “war on terror” have not been impressed by recriminations over torture. Worse than torture are the murders of at least 50 prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo, but again the hard-hearted are unimpressed when those whom they perceive as terrorists receive illegal extrajudicial capital punishment.

The case for abusing children, however, is more difficult to support. The best kept secret of the Bush’s war crimes is that thousands of children have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise denied rights under the Geneva Conventions and related international agreements. Yet both Congress and the media have strangely failed to identify the very existence of child prisoners as a war crime. In the Islamic world, however, there is no such silence. Indeed, the prophet Mohammed was the first to counsel warriors not to harm innocent children.

The first example of war crimes against children, which are well documented, occurred during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, when the children’s hospital in Kabul was bombed, its patients thereby murdered, contrary to the Red Cross Convention of 1864. Other children were killed as “collateral damage” during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, contrary to the Geneva Convention ban on indiscriminate killing in wartime, though numbers of dead are unknown. During spring 2004, during the assault on Falluja, Iraq, some 300 children, including peaceful demonstrators, were killed. Their dead bodies were filmed live on al-Jazeera Television throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

In 2008, the Bush administration reported to the UN-assisted Committee on the Rights of the Child that the United States from 2002 had detained 2,400 children in Iraq and 100 in Afghanistan, though another source claims that the figure for Afghanistan is at least 800 boys, aged 10 to 15, from whom as many as 64 were sent to Guantánamo, of which there were 21 as of May 2008. That month, the Committee upbraided the United States for charging minors with war crimes instead of treating underage persons as victims of war. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s two children, aged 7 and 9, were separately detained to intimidate him to confess.

While detained, several children have been brutalized and tortured. At Abu Ghraib, American guards videotaped Iraqi male prisoners raping young boys but took no action to stop the offenses. Perhaps the worst incident at Abu Ghraib involved a girl aged 12 or 13 who screamed for help to her brother in an upper cell while stripped naked and beaten. Iraqi journalist Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz, who heard the girl’s screams, also witnessed an ill 15-year-old who was forced to run up and down Abu Ghraib with two heavy cans of water and beaten whenever he stopped. When he finally collapsed, guards stripped and poured cold water on him. Finally, a hooded man was brought in. When unhooded, the boy realized that the man was his father, who doubtless was being intimidated into confessing something upon sight of his brutalized son.

While General Hamid Zabar was being questioned in Iraq, his interrogators decided to arrest his frail 16-year-old son in order to produce a confession. After soldiers found the boy, he was stripped, drenched with mud and water, and exposed to the cold January night while bound and driven about in the open back of a truck. When presented naked to his father, he was shivering due to hypothermia, clearly needing medical attention.

At least 25 war crimes refer specifically to child prisoners. Among the crimes are the arbitrary transfer out of their home countries, leaving their parents to wonder whether they were dead. When their locations were later revealed, parents were not allowed to contact them, even through the mail. And family members knew nothing of Hassin Bin Attash’s extraordinary rendition experience in Jordan or Ahmad Bashir’s disappearance for two years in a secret prison.

Children have been incarcerated in the same quarters as adults, contrary to the Geneva Convention. Subjected to solitary confinement, they are denied educational and recreational opportunities. Indeed, one attorney was not allowed to give his client (Omar Khadr) a copy of “Lord of the Rings” or play dominoes with him; another has been forbidden to supply his client (Mohammed Jawad) articles from the Internet. After Captain James Yee left Guantánamo on September 10, 2003, no Muslim chaplain has ever replaced him, so they have not been provided appropriate religious education.

Meanwhile, the authorities have refused to investigate or prosecute those who have abused children, and there have been no programs established to prevent prison mistreatment or to assist in their resulting post-traumatic stress. They have been denied legal counsel and a statement of reasons for their confinement upon arrival in prison, held far beyond the “speedy trial” requirement under the Geneva Conventions, coerced into confessions that may be false, and denied available exculpatory evidence, including witnesses.

In 2003, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao gave a speech on behalf of the need to rehabilitate child soldiers from Burundi, Colombia, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. While she spoke, several children were being abused at Guantánamo. The most famous, Mohammed Jawad and Omar Khadr, are still being held for trial at Guantánamo.

Omar Khadr’s videotaped plea for his mommy and claims of torture has been seen on television worldwide. While still wounded from battle in Afghanistan, Omar was interrogated many times, sometimes while hooded with dogs barking near him, so he confessed to stop the pain from his wounds. During interrogation at Guantánamo, Omar was shackled to the floor in stress positions until he soiled himself. His bound body was twice used as a mop to wipe his own urine mixed with pine oil after which he was refused a shower and a change of clothing. He has also been administered a brutal beating while on a hunger strike, threatened with rape, and denied pain medication.

There is some puzzlement over the reason for imprisoning Mohammad Jawad. Is it because, while at an American-run prison in Afghanistan in 2002, he has claimed that he saw Americans murdering inmates? At Guantánamo, to deprive him of sleep in order to force some sort of confession, he was shifted from one cell to another more than 100 times during two weeks in May 2004, and he remains in solitary confinement today. When he showed up in court in 2008, he was the first to wear leg shackles. During his arraignment, the judge asked him whether he accepted the assigned military defense attorney as his lawyer. After replying in the negative, the judge asked whether he knew another lawyer. His reply to the Kafkaesque inquiry was “Since I don’t know any lawyer, how can I have them represent me? . . . I should be given freedom so that I can find a lawyer.” His request to hunt for a lawyer was then denied.

The mistreatment of children is something not so funny that has been neglected on the road to investigations of and calls for prosecution of those responsible for torture. George W. Bush has never been asked about the abuse of children in American-run prisons in the “war on terror.” It is high time for Bush and others to be held accountable for what is arguably the most egregious of all their war crimes—the abuse and death of children, who should never have been arrested in the first place.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Holy Mission to Reveal the Truth about Nazi Death Squads

God's work: Father Patrick Desbois is in a race against time to gather testimony before all those who witnessed the slaughter die

Father Patrick Desbois has spent the past decade piecing together the horrific story of the Nazis' secret death squads. Jonathan Brown meets a man who's rewriting history

By Jonathan Brown
26 May 2009

Father Patrick Desbois is a man desperately racing with death. By his own calculations he has six, perhaps seven years at the outside in which to complete his work: a task, which until the reaper renders it impossible some time in the not-too-distant future, is at once unimaginably chilling in nature and nightmarishly ambitious in scale. For the 53-year-old French priest, with an easy laugh and shining eyes, has made it his holy mission to recall for the world the slaughter enacted by the Nazi mobile death squads, the feared Einsatzgruppen, which roamed and murdered Jews and Gypsies with impunity in the remote villages of the former Soviet Union between 1941 and 1944.

It was, until the intervention of Father Dubois, a largely overlooked episode in one of the grimmest chapters of the Second World War. But for the last 10 years the priest and his helpers have painstakingly gathered the testimony of the survivors of this period, travelling to some of Europe's most abject places where, without judging, they have listened as a procession of elderly men and women recalled – often for the first time – how, a lifetime ago, they became teenage helpmates to the Nazi killing machine.

Today these witnesses have grown old and infirm and many are already dead. Living in countries where the average life expectancy for a man is little more than 60 years, those who experienced first-hand the Nazi genocide in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Ossetia are steadily dying out. When they are gone, Father Desbois fears, so too will the memory of what they saw – and with it a truth which exists only in the conscience of Europe's poorest people.

During the course of the last decade, Father Desbois and his team from Yahad in Unum, a French organisation dedicated to Christian-Jewish understanding, have recorded conversations with more than 1,000 witnesses to the mass murders on Hitler's Eastern Front. So far they have discovered some 850 unmarked graves – the majority of them previously unknown – including a site at Bodgdanivka which contained the remains of some 42,000 Jews.

The oral histories they have gathered, along with detailed ballistic evidence, could soon change the face of the study of the Holocaust, pushing the final death toll upwards by as much as 500,000 victims. They are also, he hopes, providing irrefutable proof in the face of increasingly vocal Holocaust deniers, emboldened by the disappearance of the generation still able to recall the horrors of the Third Reich as they actually happened.

Father Dubois was invited to Britain by the University of Manchester's Centre for Jewish Studies where last week he addressed academics and spoke at the city's Anglican Cathedral. Though largely unknown outside Jewish circles in the UK, he is a hero in Israel and the United States. Last year, in his native France, he was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by President Nicolas Sarkozy, and sports the discreet red streamer proudly in the buttonhole of his black priest's jacket. As he sits in the Victorian splendour of Manchester's Palace Hotel, describing the detail of his harrowing work, he displays a blistering sense of urgency at the looming loss of the folk memory of the Nazi atrocities in the former Soviet Union.

"I am running against time," he says. "We have a maximum of six or seven years if we take into account the age of the witnesses because they are so old. Sometimes you arrive in the village and are told 'I'm sorry, Father, but Madame Anna died just one month ago and she was the last witness. And now nobody knows any more.' So I see time is short and we need to achieve our goal as quickly as possible, which is why we must multiply our energy," he says.

The reason for taking up this work is simple: to restore the dignity of the uncounted and largely unmourned dead who were slaughtered and piled into pits like animals, and to allow the Kaddish – the Jewish prayer of mourning – to be recited over their final resting places. But there is another reason too; to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust.

"You cannot leave Europe with thousands of unknown unmarked graves, or we deny all our values," he says, his hands trembling slightly as he speaks. "And what do we say to Cambodia or to Darfur if we do not bury correctly the victims in our own continent? We are now 60 years after, and it is our last chance to do it."

It is estimated that a minimum of 1.5 million Jews and Gypsies were killed in Ukraine during the Second World War. The country was second only to Poland for the number of Nazi murders on its soil. A further 500,000 perished in Belarus, while the exact numbers that perished in the vast expanse of Russia, where the German army was encamped some 17 miles from the Kremlin in the Moscow suburbs, or even in occupied Ossetia, can still only be guessed at – until that is these territories, too, welcome in the priest and his helpers to unlock the memories of survivors there too.

What made the slaughter in Eastern Europe so unimaginable is that it was carried out not in the impersonal industrialised surrounding of the concentration camps but by mobile units of individuals armed with low-powered rifles. The policy laid down by Berlin was simple and based on an evil economy to appease the army's concerns over dwindling resources: "one bullet – one Jew; one Jew – one bullet".

The modus operandi of the Einsatzgruppen was as predictable as it was murderous, explains Father Desbois. The mobile units were the precursors of Heinrich Himmler's "Final Solution" policy. Composed primarily of German SS and military personnel, they could draw on members of the notorious German Gendarmerie, local police or even civilians – "anyone with a carbine" explains the priest. Using the Soviet system of requisition enacted on their behalf by compliant local mayors appointed by the Nazis, the death squads were often staffed by gunmen plucked from everyday war duties and left deeply traumatised by their actions. Their orders were to kill those they were told were enemies of the Reich. Among the Jews, Gypsies and communists were thousands of mentally and physically disabled people, women and children.

Their approach was always the same, explains Father Desbois. First a single uniformed officer, an expert in digging mass graves, would arrive in a village. His initial stop would be the home of the local mayor, where he would ask simply: "How many Jews?" Gauging who was and was not Jewish in the Soviet Union was easy. Jews were considered one of the USSR's national minorities and the information was recorded in official documents. Having arrived at a figure and estimated the volume of the pit required to hold the victims, the solider would order the mayor to round up local teenagers, many of whom are now among Father Desbois's witnesses. They would then be ordered to dig. Sometimes the pits were complex structures, excavated deep into the ground with stairs to allow the soon to be murdered to lie down "like sardines" before they were shot. Sometimes they were little more than shallow holes. When the work was complete, the call would go out to the regional headquarters seeking gunmen from the surrounding countryside.

The day of the murders would have a chilling routine to it, says Father Desbois. "They (the mobile units) would all gather together in the morning of the killing and surround the village and then announce that the Jews will be deported to Palestine. They are Soviets, so while an order like this is not nice, it is not surprising to be deported," he explains. The credulous victims would then begin to line up in the streets, assembling in lines of five, carrying whatever belongings they could. Those less credulous among them who refused to leave their homes were shot and their bodies stacked up on horse-drawn carts. The "deportees" were ordered to march to the waiting pit, strip and then, still five-a-breast, walk straight into the bullets of the waiting gunmen.

Those who were left behind remember all too vividly what they saw, says Father Desbois. "I met a witness who told me: I saw my neighbour. She was in the line to wait and I was crying. She told me: 'Don't cry, we are going to Palestine.' But I knew they were not going to Palestine because early in the morning I was out with my cow and I saw the mass grave – I saw it being dug by the children." As the victims were being mown down, the Germans and their forced helpers set about the task of looting the belongings of their victims. Clothes and jewellery were packed in boxes while gold was prised from the mouths of the dead. The furniture was taken from the now empty houses. The best was sent back to Germany while the rest was sold off for cash. Meanwhile, the grim task of burial was being completed by the same children who had dug the graves several days earlier. Because of the "one bullet" policy, many of those inside the pits were not dead. Children were dragged in by their falling parents or propelled by the force of the advancing victims behind them. Others were pushed in by gloved helpers. "In some cases there were Ukrainian girls," recalls Father Desbois. "I met one who was asked to walk on the corpses between the shootings to make them flat. She said: 'The soldiers asked me in the morning to come with my friends and between each of the shootings I had to go down and walk on the corpses with my bare feet.'" Among the victims were many friends and classmates, stripped naked and slaughtered before her eyes. "They shot them and I had to walk on them like the others," she recalled. Witnesses, little more than children, remembered how the victims writhed "like flies and worms" as they died.

Sometimes some of those who were not dead would escape. More often they would suffocate under the weight of the earth and bodies, but not before they had endured further days of suffering, during which villagers watched as the freshly dug earth heaved and fell under the agonized movements of the victims below. It was as if the whole pit was breathing, according to one onlooker.

"On the evening of the killing they would organise a party for the shooters," says Father Desbois. There would be drinking, dancing and prostitutes who travelled with the death squads as they moved from village to village. The party was designed to ease the psychological guilt of the killers, believes the priest, and bind the gunmen in the commonality of their mass murder.

But while official records were kept detailing how many had been shot, it is believed that up to 10 times that number were killed in Ukraine unofficially. After the shootings each village would be declared "Judenfrei" – free of Jews – putting them in good favour with the Nazi authorities. Any Jews that escaped and returned were often killed to prevent this status being lost. Many were forced into hiding in the forests until the end of the war, only to emerge into the further terror under Stalin. Others were not so lucky.

"In some villages they kept Jewish women to be sex slaves or forced workers for the Gestapo," explains Father Desbois. "At the end of the war, in many villages, they were pregnant, so they shot them just before leaving the village. It is very difficult to find the mass graves of these girls because no one wants to speak of that. All the village knew them because they worked for the Gestapo so they saw them every time they went to present their papers," he says.

Unlike the Holocaust in Central and Western Europe, where victims were rounded up and deported, the genocide in Ukraine and Eastern Europe came to the village squares, the gardens and farms of the survivors, and it was among them that the bodies remained. Again, unlike Germany and Poland, where the extermination camps stand testament to the atrocities that were perpetrated within their walls, no symbols or memorials exist to the dead Jews and Gypsies of the former USSR. Under Stalin, the victims, where they were remembered, were considered to be fallen fellow-Soviets. All that remains of this Holocaust by bullets are the cartridge cases discarded in the dirt, each bearing a distinctive date and brand and each having claimed the life of a human being.

It may seem strange that the task of remembering the millions of Jews and Gypsies who died in Eastern Europe should fall to a Roman Catholic priest. Father Desbois is neither a historian, nor an archaeologist. He is certainly not a politician. It was through his family's wartime experiences that he became involved in his present mission. The Desbois family resisted the German occupation, hiding partisans on their farm in eastern France. His grandfather (and other relatives) were imprisoned, eventually being sent to the Ukraine, witnessing the horrors at Rawa-Ruska where thousands of Jews died. He eventually told his grandson what he had seen, as a way of downplaying his own suffering. It was during a visit to the site of his grandfather's wartime incarceration that Father Desbois posed the local mayor a simple question: "Where are the bodies of the Jews?" The politician said he did not know – an answer the priest found impossible to believe. Returning the next year, there was a new mayor, who this time took the inquisitive Frenchmen out in to the forest where 100 villagers were waiting to tell him of the horrors they had seen played out there among the birch trees.

The symbol of his authority is, he says, his clerical collar. Arriving unannounced, he knocks on doors and listens – offering no comment or judgment on actions which may have haunted a life for 60 years. Often, at the end of a gruelling testimony he may pray with the witnesses, though he does not offer absolution through confession. It is simply an opportunity for someone to talk while another listens.

"These people, they may have seen on one day the killings of over 1,000 persons, and sometimes they say to me: "all my life I dreamt of finding someone to tell them.'"

He recalls a recent interview in Brest, Belarus, when an elderly man was describing how he would rest at night from packing away the belongings of the slaughtered Jews as the German soldiers raped the surviving women. "At the end of the interview I said: 'Of course you have spoken a lot of times about that before?' He said: "No, it is the first time that I have spoken. Who would be interested in all that?' These were poor people and no one has ever paid any attention to them," he says.

Even today, conditions in the villages of the former Soviet Union are harsh. There are often no roads; no running water and the weather is bitterly cold. It is also an occasionally violent part of the world and the priest, who has been shot at in the past, makes his five journeys a year to the former killing fields in the company of armed bodyguards. After enduring the horrors of the Nazis and Stalin during their lives, the villagers have never posed themselves the kind of questions of guilt and complicity that so often bedevil the conscience of the wealthier and more privileged, believes Father Desbois.

As a former mathematics teacher in West Africa who became a priest after working with Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, he is not inured to suffering. But he dismisses inquiries about how he or others "feel" in relation to the atrocities as "typical Western questions". Under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century people simply had no choice – they co-operated or they died. This leaves him free to concentrate on the task in hand – logging the dead.

"My questions are who killed the Jews? Where are the corpses and how do we establish evidence? I am completely concentrating on my goal and I try to avoid the other questions or I might miss my goal," he says."

With the backing of the French government and Pope Benedict, Father Desbois has become of the leading figures in the world of Jewish-Christian relations. But he sees his role simply. "I am a very practical person and I want to stay at this level. I am not an important person. I am only doing some duty that has to be done. To bury the people is not an important role – it is a simple role," he says. As for those who question the existence of the Holocaust, whether they are politicians or within his own church, he sees them as the direct inheritors of Himmler and Heydrich. They are, he says, the "deniers of the inferno".

And at the heart of the unimaginable continent-wide tragedy can be found individual human suffering and a timeless story and its still unanswered questions dating back to the murder of Abel.

He says: "I don't work for millions. I am the disciple of Mother Teresa. Everybody asked her: 'How can you stand in Calcutta with 13 million poor people?' And she answered: 'I never saw 13 million, I only saw one.' It is the same for me... it is people. I try to think really concretely of these people not as a millions or just mathematics – I am looking for the tombs of Isaac, Rebecca and Dora," he says. "We cannot build a safe Europe and a modern world and ask people to keep silent. Otherwise we justify the next genocide. It is the ultimate victory to Hitler if we don't bury the victims."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Democrats: CIA is Out to Get Us

By MANU RAJU | 5/12/09

Dems, including Sen. Carl Levin, charge that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on waterboarding in order to deflect blame away from itself.

Democrats charged Tuesday that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on harsh interrogation techniques in order to deflect attention and blame away from itself.

“I think there is so much embarrassment in some quarters [of the CIA] that people are going to try to shift some of the responsibility to others — that’s what I think,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was briefed on interrogation techniques five times between 2006 and 2007.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said he finds it “interesting” that a document detailing congressional briefings was released just as “some of the groups that have been responsible for these interrogation techniques were taking the most criticism.”

Asked whether the CIA was seeking political cover by releasing the documents, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said: “Sure it is.”

The CIA has long been on the receiving end of harsh rebukes from Congress — on intelligence failures leading up to the war in Iraq, on secret prisons abroad and on the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects. But with the release of records showing that it briefed members of Congress along the way, the CIA has effectively put lawmakers on the defensive.

Intelligence officials insist it wasn’t intentional and have not taken responsibility for publicly releasing the documents.

Asked for comment about the Democrats’ charges, CIA spokesman George Little said only that the CIA “understands the importance of a strong relationship with the Congress, which in our democracy, conducts oversight of secret intelligence activities.”

But another U.S. intelligence official went further, noting that the records of the congressional briefings were “prepared in response to a request from Congress.”

Intelligence Committee member Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said it appears that “members of the committee or their staff were not in any way involved in [the release of the document]. It appears to come from the executive branch itself. ... I think it’s unbelievable.”

A top congressional official who has participated in the briefings added: “I think the agency wanted to get this out, quite frankly.” ...

"Democrats: CIA is out to get us - Manu Raju -" -

Sunday, May 24, 2009


" ... Nancy Kissinger, who was sitting next to me, recommended the pigs in blankets. ... "

By Thessaly La Force
New Yorker/MAY 7, 2009

Last night, at The River Club, Henry Kissinger threw a book party for his protégé, Joshua Cooper Ramo. Handsome and fluent in Chinese, Ramo speaks with the rapidity and grace of those who appear regularly on television. He’s the youngest full partner of Kissinger Associates, a geostrategic advisory firm. Naturally, his book—which is already a best seller—is called “The Age of the Unthinkable.”

In a wallpapered room overlooking the East River, among waiters passing canapés of foie gras and lobster, I asked Ramo about the genesis of his book. “The summer before September 11th,” he said, “I had been doing volunteer work in an AIDS hospice in South Africa and I realized our foreign policy was failing in a huge and dramatic way. Basically, it was morally indecent. Then I came back and saw September 11th, and saw that it was intellectually incoherent as well. It was at that point where I really started saying to myself, ‘Okay, something is deeply flawed in our system.’” Ramo says he wrote from four to eight every morning.

Ramo concludes that the models we use to think about the world, and to solve our problems, are wrong. He thinks we should study terrorists, hedge-fund managers, (there’s a chapter called “The Management Secrets of Hizb’allah”), and other innovators who have learned to be resilient in a time of crisis.

But what about his boss? “Dr. Kissinger’s summary,” he said, “after reading my book, was, ‘My understanding from reading this book is that you have complete contempt for me.’ As an employee, it’s kind of a conversation-ender, but I’ve done my best to recover from that.”

Kissinger, who nonetheless was full of high praise for “young Joshua” admitted as much: “It has one basic theme that is a little difficult for me, which is that my generation is sort of a bunch of dodos, that we stagger through life with just one idea in our minds, which on top of it, is hugely wrong. We don’t have the perception to look at the multiplicity of events that the modern generation experiences.”

Nancy Kissinger, who was sitting next to me, recommended the pigs in blankets. I asked if she could explain geostrategic advising.

“I haven’t the vaguest idea!” she said. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

9/11 Commission Official says Public Story “Almost Entirely Untrue”

By Hunter Gorinson
May 21, 2009

John Farmer

Since the turn of the millennium, John Farmer’s resumé has boasted many impressive accomplishments: New Jersey Attorney General, Acting Governor of that same state for 90 minutes on January 8, 2002 and, perhaps most importantly, Senior Counsel to the Bush-appointed - and dramatically underfunded - 9/11 Commission (also known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States).

Now, with a freshly inked contract from Houghton Mifflin Books in hand, Farmer is set [to] contradict the findings of the so-called “truth commission” that he once helped administrate with his new book, The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America's Defense on 9/11. Though the 256-page hardcover won’t be released until January 2010, its description is enough to make even the most stoic of conspiracy theorists take to internet message boards faster than you can say Loose Change. Here’s the official solicitation, care of Houghton Mifflin:

... John Farmer is proud of his and his colleagues’ work. Yet he came away from the experience convinced that there was a further story to be told, one he was uniquely qualified to write.

Now that story can be told. Tape recordings, transcripts, and contemporaneous records that had been classified have since been declassified, and the inspector general’s investigations of government conduct have been completed. Drawing on his knowledge of those sources, as well as his years as an attorney in public and private practice, Farmer reconstructs the truth of what happened on that fateful day and the disastrous circumstances that allowed it: the institutionalized disconnect between what those on the ground knew and what those in power did. He reveals — terrifyingly and illuminatingly — the key moments in the years, months, weeks, and days that preceded the attacks, then descends almost in real time through the attacks themselves, revealing them as they have never before been seen.

Ultimately Farmer builds the inescapably convincing case that the official version not only is almost entirely untrue but serves to create a false impression of order and security. The ground truth that Farmer captures tells a very different story — a story that is doomed to be repeated unless the systemic failures he reveals are confronted and remedied. ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ray L. Hunt: Catalyst for Cataclysm

"Ray L. Hunt is CEO of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., a member of the Halliburton Board of Directors, a Bush "Pioneer," a major Republican fund-raiser, a contributor of $35 million to Southern Methodist University (SMU) to support a George W. Bush Presidential Library and think tank (oxymoron alert), and, by the way, a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). ... "

The Disappeared: Dozens of CIA ‘Ghost Prisoners Missing'

" ... The CIA spent weeks during the summer of 2006—shortly before Mr. Bush acknowledged the CIA prisons and suspended the program—transferring prisoners to Pakistani, Egyptian and Jordanian custody. ... 'If these men are now rotting in some Egyptian dungeon, the administration can't pretend that it's closed the door on the CIA program.' ... "

By William Fisher
May 21, 2009

NEW YORK (IPS/GIN) - At least three dozen detainees who were held in the CIA's secret prisons overseas appear to be missing—and efforts by human rights organizations to track their whereabouts have been unsuccessful.

The story of these "ghost prisoners" was comprehensively documented by Pro Publica, an online investigative journalism group.

In September 2007, Michael V. Hayden, then director of the CIA, said, "fewer than 100 people had been detained at CIA's facilities." One memo released recently confirmed that the CIA had custody of at least 94 people as of May 2005 and "employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these."

Former President George W. Bush publicly acknowledged the CIA program in September 2006, and transferred 14 prisoners from the secret jails to Guantanamo. Many other prisoners, who had "little or no additional intelligence value," Mr. Bush said, "have been returned to their home countries for prosecution or detention by their governments."

But Mr. Bush did not reveal their identities or whereabouts—information that would have allowed the International Committee for the Red Cross to find them—or the terms under which the prisoners were handed over to foreign jailers. ...

Pro Publica reported that former officials in the Bush administration said that the CIA spent weeks during the summer of 2006—shortly before Mr. Bush acknowledged the CIA prisons and suspended the program—transferring prisoners to Pakistani, Egyptian and Jordanian custody.

The organization said the population inside the program had been shrinking since the existence of the prisons was detailed in a Washington Post article in November 2005. Renewed diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Libya in May 2006 made it possible for the CIA to turn over Libyan prisoners to Muammar Gadhafi's control.

Joanne Mariner, director of the Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program at Human Rights Watch, said, "If these men are now rotting in some Egyptian dungeon, the administration can't pretend that it's closed the door on the CIA program."


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Franco, Like Hitler, had One Testicle

18 May 2009

Spain's Franco 'had one testicle'

Gen Franco ruled Spain following the civil war until his death in 1975
A new book claims the Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco, may have had more in common with Adolf Hitler than previously known - having one testicle.

Much like the Nazi leader, Franco's loss stemmed from an injury he suffered in battle, his doctor's granddaughter told the historian Jose Maria Zavala.
Franco was wounded in the lower abdomen at El Biutz, near Ceuta, in June 1916.

Biographers have long speculated this affected the reproductive organs of the dictator, who ruled from 1939 to 1975.

However, he did have a daughter, Carmen Franco y Polo, in 1926.

Last year, documents came to light containing an account by a medic who treated Hitler during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Dr Johan Jambor told his priest that Hitler had been injured in the abdomen and had lost a testicle. He said the first question Hitler had asked him was: "Will I be able to have children?" ...

Story continues

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Edwin Black's THE PLAN
Four Minute Trailer
edwin black
The Plan in paperback from Dialog Press

The Cutting Edge

also see
The Plan excerpt
Chapter One

... During the preparation of this chapter, ominous predictions based on underreported, almost obscure, international developments suddenly became outstripped by tornadic daily events proving the point and accelerating the crisis. Over-the-horizon notions foreshadowed in 2007 became a scream from the rooftops and the stuff of nightly newscast headlines. By spring 2008, biofuels-blamed food staple riots requiring armed government suppression had already broken out in at least 15 nations including Russia, Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, Egypt, Bangladesh, Thailand and several African states. Mass starvation due to fuel-stoked food prices suddenly loomed on a scale not previously seen in dozens of countries for an estimated 100 million people. Numerous nations began formulating countermeasures to fuel-based food riots, including governmental bodies in the Philippines, India and even such stable societies as Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Indeed, during April 2008, the crisis hit home even in the wellfed USA. Leading “buy in bulk” retailers, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, suddenly announced rice rationing, in some stores voluntary and in some units enforced. Nonetheless, some stores actually reported food shortages. At the same time, food banks for the disadvantaged reported angry citizens waiting in line for depleted supplies.3 Publishers and distributors spoke of prominently placing this book not only in conventional bookstores but in thousands of grocery stores around the nation as the entire topic was now more than merely political or environmental fodder for the mind, but indeed a matter of food and household necessity.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called biofuel-related starvation a greater threat to world stability than the international credit crunch surging through the money-wracked world of 2008. “Tackling hunger,” Brown declared, “is a moral challenge to each of us and it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of nations.” World Food Program executive director Josette Sheeran agreed, terming the “food or fuel” crisis a “silent tsunami.” Jean Ziegler, the U.N.’s ranking food official made headlines worldwide by going so far as to declare to a German radio station that “Producing biofuels today is a crime against humanity.” India’s finance minister used the same words in condemning the trend to corn ethanol.

Surely many will die if the oil stops or is radically reduced. Large numbers will simply slip quietly into death from weakness and malnutrition. But how many will also die fighting as the aggression between men heightens in the face of a shrinking food supply? If a man must choose to pump a gallon of gas to secure a gallon of milk for his babies, he will. As society spirals down into desperation, who will be blamed? What hoarders will be shot? How many will carjack a vehicle not for its stereo but for its gasoline? How many will jump a fence to drill a gas tank? Which gas stations will be overrun? How many will never get to the hospital in an emergency? How many buildings will burn because fire trucks cannot roll for lack of fuel?

The situation can get worse if an oil shortage becomes intractable. Rooftop ethanol stills producing stockaded “moonshine fuel” will become a fact of life complete with the armed motorcycle marauders who populate “future shock” movies. They will jump from the screen into our communities.

War for oil will result. The blood of young men mixing with the ooze of oil will once again drain the life out of industrialized nations as it has so many times during the turbulent 20th century and the first groans of the tower-tumbled 21st century. Those who crave the oil will fight to get it. Those who possess it will fight to withhold it.

All the nightmare scenarios have been written, published, broadcast, epistled, door hammered, lectured and Web-spread throughout the hemispheres and blogospheres and the tired ears of a helpless world. That world wonders if it should act up and demand, look up and beseech, or just give up and wait. We get the message: Oil is our necessity and our curse. All of us have heard some of it, all of it, too much of it. ...

Suspected War Criminal to Lead U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

By Nicolas J S Davies
Online Journal
May 14, 2009

On July 22 2006, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled “No blood, no foul” about American torture practices at three facilities in Iraq. One of them was Camp Nama, which was operated by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), under the direction of then Major General Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal was officially based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but he was a frequent visitor to Camp Nama and other Special Forces bases in Iraq and Afghanistan where forces under his command were based.

An interrogator at Camp Nama described locking prisoners in shipping containers for 24 hours at a time in extreme heat; exposing them to extreme cold with periodic soaking in cold water; bombardment with bright lights and loud music; sleep deprivation; and severe beatings. When he and other interrogators went to the colonel in charge and expressed concern that this kind of treatment was not legal, and that they might be investigated by the military’s Criminal Investigation Division or the International Committee of the Red Cross, the colonel told them he had “this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the international body charged under international law with monitoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions, and it, therefore, has the right to inspect all facilities where people are detained in a country that is at war or under military occupation. To hide prisoners or facilities from the ICRC or to deny access to them is a serious war crime. But many U.S. prisons in Iraq have held “ghost” prisoners whose imprisonment has not been reported to the ICRC, and these “ghosts” have usually been precisely the ones subjected to the worst torture. Camp Nama, run by McChrystal’s JSOC, was an entire “ghost” facility. ...


Monday, May 18, 2009

Kansas City Writer's Book Covers Neo-Nazis, Other Ultra-Right Groups in US Politics

By Associated Press
May 18, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City researcher of fascist and neo-nationalist movements has published a book on radical, right-wing American politics.

Leonard Zeskind's book Blood and Politics is summed up in its subtitle: "The History of the White Nationalist Movement From the Margins to the Mainstream."

Zeskind attempts to trace the lineage of the ultra-right in the United States and interpret it as a historical movement rather than spikes of violent activity. He also works to show how some ideas, such as anti-immigration, have seeped into American political life.

Zeskind established the Kansas City-based Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. The book is being published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.,0,332461.story

Attorney Forced Off Lawsuits Against Banks Over Pinochet Money

Alana Roberts
Daily Business Review
May 18, 2009

Squire Sanders & Dempsey partner Pedro Martinez-Fraga has been forced -- after at least four years of work -- to withdraw from cases filed by the Chilean government alleging four banks helped former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet hide $26 million in government money. Portugal's Espirito Santo Bank claims Martinez-Fraga has a conflict of interest in pursuing the complaints because a Squire Sanders attorney serves on Espirito Santo's board. Another defendant, Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group, also is a Squire Sanders client.

The Chilean government claims Espirito Santo, PNC, Spain's Banco Santander and the Bank of Chile violated the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act for negligence or active roles in helping Pinochet hide stolen government money. The suits were filed in Miami federal court March 11 by Martinez-Fraga and Squire Sanders associate Tania Cruz.

Pinochet, who seized power in a 1973 military coup that overthrew the Marxist-led government of President Salvador Allende, died at the age of 91 in late 2006. Although he led the country to an age of prosperity and a revival of a free market economy, his name became synonymous worldwide with human rights abuses, brutal political oppression and domestic corruption. He was barred from continuing as president in a 1988 plebiscite.

Two years before his death, Chilean investigators said they identified millions Pinochet had placed in secret bank accounts in various countries, and the Santiago government undertook legal action to retrieve the money.

"Tragically, had many of the financial institutions that opened accounts by or for Pinochet followed even the most basic regulations and guidelines concerning among other things the reporting of suspicious transactions and the determination of the source of a customer's funds, Pinochet's misdeeds would have been exposed long ago," the complaint against Espirito Santo says.

Martinez-Fraga asked to withdraw as counsel for the Chilean government in all four of the Miami cases after the conflict issue was raised by Berger Singerman attorneys Mitchell Berger of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and James Cunningham Jr. of Miami. They alleged in an April 27 response that the presence of another Squire Sanders attorney on Espirito Santo's board caused a conflict. Another conflict stems from PNC's status as a Squire Sanders client, attorneys familiar with the case say.

Espirito Santo noted Squire Sanders of counsel Eric Buermann is a senior director on Espirito Santo's board, and a bank court filing said the Squire Sanders team initially refused to withdraw from the case.

Berger and Cunningham also wrote that Squire Sanders attorneys told them Buermann said there was no reason to withdraw.

"Squire Sanders & Dempsey indicated to the bank's counsel that based on the facts known by Mr. Buermann, there was no reason for it to withdraw. The only way that the law firm could have reached this conclusion was by interviewing Mr. Buermann about his knowledge of the facts of the case. The bank pointed out that any such interview is a violation of ... rules of professional conduct," Espirito Santo said in a court filing.

The Squire Sanders team filed a motion to withdraw from the Espirito Santo Bank case last month and sought a 30-day extension to find replacement attorneys. Espirito Santo is challenging the 30-day request, and a hearing on that motion is set for today before U.S. District Judge Donald Graham.

William Hill and Melissa Alvarez, attorneys at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod in Miami, agreed to step in to represent the Chilean government.

The Espirito Santo attorneys also allege the case is time-barred and say the RICO statute is often misused.

In a filing last week, Hill disputed that assertion and said Espirito Santo's effort to block the 30-day extension to find replacement plaintiff attorneys is now moot.

"On the issue of the conflict, we said very clearly in the papers we're not addressing it," Hill said. "It's not an issue. That issue I will say for PNC is moot because the Squire Sanders firm was given leave to withdraw."

Banco Santander filed a dismissal motion Monday, arguing the case is time-barred and asserts "unsupportable legal theories."

Martinez-Fraga didn't address in an e-mail why he withdrew from the cases.

Calls to Buermann, Berger and Cunningham were not returned by deadline.

Martinez-Fraga began working on the case while he was a Greenberg Traurig shareholder. He and other lawyers for the Chilean government petitioned U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard in June 2005 to force the banks to cooperate with its investigation.

The Chilean probe of Pinochet concluded banks helped the general hide stolen government funds.

"Over the course of 20 years, Pinochet and his chief henchman, Oscar Aitken Lavanchy, devised and implemented a scheme to siphon no less than $26 million in funds, secreted these funds and their investment proceeds in an astonishing number of bank accounts at financial institutions located worldwide, including in the United States," the Chilean government's complaint said.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Grim Photos - Pictures Should be Released" - Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed

Salt Lake Tribune

Much as he'd like to, President Barack Obama can't have it both ways. In releasing four memos that gave a patina of legal justification to the CIA to brutalize prisoners, he ignited a controversy.

Should the memo writers, and perhaps their Justice Department supervisors further up the ladder -- maybe all the way to the top -- be prosecuted for authorizing interrogation methods that treaties and U.S. laws forbade? And, if not prosecutions, should a special commission be empaneled to at least investigate and make public all the evidence?

At first, the president appeared to encourage the debate, although making it clear he opposes prosecutions. Now, in opposition to a court order, he is trying keep secret photos that show prisoners being abused by U.S. interrogators.

That turnaround seems both counterproductive and ill-advised, serving merely to strengthen compelling arguments for an exhaustive investigation and full disclosure. And in seeking to block the photos, he degrades the commitment to transparency that he said informed his decision to release the memos.

Obama has responded that the pictures would only "further inflame anti-American opinion" and put U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq in greater danger. He says they are not as graphic as the stark images from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that shocked the world in 2004. It's true, given the deep-seated hatred for America in much of the Arab world, that more images of prisoner abuse would be inflammatory, even if, as Obama says, the photos are less explosive than those that already are public.

We understand that the president is working feverishly to get U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that part of that effort is to improve America's image in that part of the world. New photos of prisoner abuse won't help that cause.

But Obama set a correct course for the country when he issued an executive order on his second day in office prohibiting the harsh interrogation techniques that amount to torture. His release of the torture memos was a good beginning.

Obama has said he wants the country to look forward, not getting bogged down in investigating and prosecuting those involved in the policy of torture.

But a simple disavowal of torture is woefully inadequate. We as citizens must face squarely what has been done in our name and then decide what to do about it. Obama should release the photos and appoint a bipartisan commission to examine all the evidence of how this happened, who ordered it and who carried it out.

Dutch WWII Collaborator Dies in Germany

May 1, 2009

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, May 1 (UPI) -- Hans Bikker, a Dutch collaborator with the Nazis who lived in Germany for decades after escaping from prison, has died in the Netherlands, officials said.

Bikker was 93, Radio Netherlands reported. Police in Germany confirmed that he died in early November and was buried in Haspe in the Ruhr, where he had lived.

A member of the Waffen SS, Bikker served on the Eastern Front and in the Netherlands. He was nicknamed the Butcher of Ommen for his treatment of inmates at the Erika concentration camp.

After the war, Bikker was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Jan Houtman, a member of the Dutch Resistance, in 1944. The sentence was commuted to life in prison, and he escaped from a prison in Breda with six other Nazi collaborators in 1952 and fled to Germany.

In Germany, Bikker took advantage of a 1943 law granting citizenship to foreigners who served in the German military. He was able to stay under the radar until 1995.

He escaped a new trial for killing Houtman in 2004 when a judge ruled he was mentally incompetent.