Saturday, November 20, 2010
This is a very interesting piece. Note that Jim Marrs has written a book called The Rise of the Fourth Reich: The Secret Societies That Threaten to Take Over America (New York: Harper Collins, 2008) in which he also alleges that many Nazi war criminals were brought to the United States and employed by the OSS which after WWII ended, became the CIA in 1947.
The intelligence community (in general but particularly the clandestine services which have carried out the "black-ops" activities since the early 1950's) has run what effectively is a complete paramilitary entity.
I encourage every reader to follow these developments.
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
Report provides new evidence about notorious Nazi cases; government trying to keep it under wraps
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
November 14, 2010 "New York Times" -- -WASHINGTON — A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades.
It describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.
The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.
Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.
The Justice Department report, describing what it calls “the government’s collaboration with persecutors,” says that O.S.I investigators learned that some of the Nazis “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the United States, even though government officials were aware of their pasts. “America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became — in some small measure — a safe haven for persecutors as well,” it said.
The report also documents divisions within the government over the effort and the legal pitfalls in relying on testimony from Holocaust survivors that was decades old. The report also concluded that the number of Nazis who made it into the United States was almost certainly much smaller than 10,000, the figure widely cited by government officials.
Wrangling over report's release
The Justice Department has resisted making the report public since 2006. Under the threat of a lawsuit, it turned over a heavily redacted version last month to a private research group, the National Security Archive, but even then many of the most legally and diplomatically sensitive portions were omitted. A complete version was obtained by The New York Times.
The Justice Department said the report, the product of six years of work, was never formally completed and did not represent its official findings. It cited “numerous factual errors and omissions,” but declined to say what they were.
More than 300 Nazi persecutors have been deported, stripped of citizenship or blocked from entering the United States since the creation of the O.S.I., which was merged with another unit this year.
In chronicling the cases of Nazis who were aided by American intelligence officials, the report cites help that C.I.A. officials provided in 1954 to Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolph Eichmann who had helped develop the initial plans “to purge Germany of the Jews” and who later worked for the C.I.A. in the United States. In a chain of memos, C.I.A. officials debated what to do if Von Bolschwing were confronted about his past — whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances,” the report said.
The Justice Department, after learning of Von Bolschwing’s Nazi ties, sought to deport him in 1981. He died that year at age 72.
Scientist for the Nazis — and NASA
The report also examines the case of Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who ran the Mittelwerk munitions factory. He was brought to the United States in 1945 for his rocket-making expertise under Operation Paperclip, an American program that recruited scientists who had worked in Nazi Germany. (Rudolph has been honored by NASA and is credited as the father of the Saturn V rocket.)
The report cites a 1949 memo from the Justice Department’s No. 2 official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back in the country after a stay in Mexico, saying that a failure to do so “would be to the detriment of the national interest.”
Justice Department investigators later found evidence that Rudolph was much more actively involved in exploiting slave laborers at Mittelwerk than he or American intelligence officials had acknowledged, the report says.
Some intelligence officials objected when the Justice Department sought to deport him in 1983, but the O.S.I. considered the deportation of someone of Rudolph’s prominence as an affirmation of “the depth of the government’s commitment to the Nazi prosecution program,” according to internal memos.
The Justice Department itself sometimes concealed what American officials knew about Nazis in this country, the report found.
In 1980, prosecutors filed a motion that “misstated the facts” in asserting that checks of C.I.A. and F.B.I. records revealed no information on the Nazi past of Tscherim Soobzokov, a former Waffen SS soldier. In fact, the report said, the Justice Department “knew that Soobzokov had advised the C.I.A. of his SS connection after he arrived in the United States.”
(After the case was dismissed, radical Jewish groups urged violence against Mr. Soobzokov, and he was killed in 1985 by a bomb at his home in Paterson, N.J. )
The secrecy surrounding the Justice Department’s handling of the report could pose a political dilemma for President Obama because of his pledge to run the most transparent administration in history. Mr. Obama chose the Justice Department to coordinate the opening of government records.
The Nazi-hunting report was the brainchild of Mark Richard, a senior Justice Department lawyer. In 1999, he persuaded Attorney General Janet Reno to begin a detailed look at what he saw as a critical piece of history, and he assigned a career prosecutor, Judith Feigin, to the job. After Mr. Richard edited the final version in 2006, he urged senior officials to make it public but was rebuffed, colleagues said.
When Mr. Richard became ill with cancer, he told a gathering of friends and family that the report’s publication was one of three things he hoped to see before he died, the colleagues said. He died in June 2009, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spoke at his funeral.
“I spoke to him the week before he died, and he was still trying to get it released,” Ms. Feigin said. “It broke his heart.”
Smoking guns and hideous failures
After Mr. Richard’s death, David Sobel, a Washington lawyer, and the National Security Archive sued for the report’s release under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Justice Department initially fought the lawsuit, but finally gave Mr. Sobel a partial copy — with more than 1,000 passages and references deleted based on exemptions for privacy and internal deliberations.
Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the department is committed to transparency, and that redactions are made by experienced lawyers.
The full report disclosed that the Justice Department found “a smoking gun” in 1997 establishing with “definitive proof” that Switzerland had bought gold from the Nazis that had been taken from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. But these references are deleted, as are disputes between the Justice and State Departments over Switzerland’s culpability in the months leading up to a major report on the issue.
Another section describes as “a hideous failure” a series of meetings in 2000 that United States officials held with Latvian officials to pressure them to pursue suspected Nazis. That passage is also deleted.
So too are references to macabre but little-known bits of history, including how a director of the O.S.I. kept a piece of scalp that was thought to belong to Dr. Mengele in his desk in hopes that it would help establish whether he was dead.
Chasing Dr. Mengele
The chapter on Dr. Mengele, one of the most notorious Nazis to escape prosecution, details the O.S.I.’s elaborate efforts in the mid-1980s to determine whether he had fled to the United States and might still be alive.
It describes how investigators used letters and diaries apparently written by Dr. Mengele in the 1970s, along with German dental records and Munich phone books, to follow his trail.
After the development of DNA tests, the piece of scalp, which had been turned over by the Brazilian authorities, proved to be a critical piece of evidence in establishing that Dr. Mengele had fled to Brazil and had died there in about 1979 without ever entering the United States, the report said. The edited report deletes references to Dr. Mengele’s scalp on privacy grounds.
Even documents that have long been available to the public are omitted, including court decisions, Congressional testimony and front-page newspaper articles from the 1970s.
A chapter on the O.S.I.’s most publicized failure — the case against John Demjanjuk, a retired American autoworker who was mistakenly identified as Treblinka’s Ivan the Terrible — deletes dozens of details, including part of a 1993 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that raised ethics accusations against Justice Department officials.
That section also omits a passage disclosing that Latvian émigrés sympathetic to Mr. Demjanjuk secretly arranged for the O.S.I.’s trash to be delivered to them each day from 1985 to 1987. The émigrés rifled through the garbage to find classified documents that could help Mr. Demjanjuk, who is currently standing trial in Munich on separate war crimes charges.
Ms. Feigin said she was baffled by the Justice Department’s attempt to keep a central part of its history secret for so long. “It’s an amazing story,” she said, “that needs to be told.”
This article, " Nazis Were Given ‘Safe Haven’ in U.S., Report Says," first appeared in The New York Times.
Copyright © 2010 The New York Times
By By Fred Branfman
August 27, 2010 "Alternet" -- "[General McChrystal says that] for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies." -- "The Runaway General," Rolling Stone, 6/22/10
The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America's military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more "enemies," as Gen. McChrystal suggests -- posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military's policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.
The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing -- though directed and financed by the C.I.A. -- has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now has changed dramatically.
What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims -- through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.
Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world
(9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale "mechanized assassination." As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: "For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war."
This combination of human and technological murder amounts to a worldwide “Assassination Inc.” that is unique in human affairs.
The increasing shift to direct U.S. assassination began on Petraeus's watch in Iraq,where targeted assassination was considered by many within the military to be more important than the "surge." The killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered a major triumph that significantly reduced the level of violence. As Bob Woodward reported in The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008:
"Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of top secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups. A number of authoritative sources say these covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) responsible for hunting al Qaeda in Iraq, (conducted) lightning-quick and sometimes concurrent operations When I later asked the president (Bush) about this, he offered a simple answer: 'JSOC is awesome.'" [Emphasis added.]
Woodward's finding that many "authoritative sources" believed assassination more important than the surge is buttressed by Petraeus' appointment of McChrystal to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal's major qualification for the post was clearly his perceived expertise in assassination while heading JSOC from 2003-'08 (where he also conducted extensive torture at "Camp Nama" at Baghdad International Airport, successfully excluding even the Red Cross).
Another key reason for the increased reliance on assassination is that Petraeus' announced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan obviously cannot work. It is absurd to believe that the corrupt warlords and cronies who make up the "Afghan government" can be transformed into the viable entity upon which his strategy publicly claims to depend -- particularly within the next year which President Obama has set as a deadline before beginning to withdraw U.S. troops. Petraeus is instead largely relying on mass assassination to try and eliminate the Taliban, both within Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The centrality of assassination to U.S. war plans is revealed by the fact that it was at the heart of the Obama review of Afghan policy last fall. The dovish Biden position called for relying primarily on assassination, while the hawkish McChrystal stance embraced both assassination and more troops. No other options were seriously considered.
A third factor behind the shift to mass assassination is that Petraeus and the U.S. military are also determined to attack jihadi forces in nations where the U.S. is not at war, and which are not prepared to openly invite in U.S. forces. As the N.Y. Times reported on May 24, "General Petraeus (has argued) that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant groups."
The most significant aspect of this new and expanded assassination policy is President Obama's authorizing clandestine U.S. military personnel to conduct it. The N.Y. Times has also reported:
In roughly a dozen countries -- from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife -- the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists (Military) Special Operations troops under secret "Execute Orders" have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies.
Particularly extraordinary is the fact that these vastly expanded military assassination teams are not subject to serious civilian control. As the N.Y. Times has also reported, Petraeus in September 2009 secretly expanded a worldwide force of assassins answerable only to the military, without oversight by not only Congress but the president himself:
The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa. Unlike covert actions undertaken by the C.I.A., such clandestine activity does not require the president's approval or regular reports to Congress.
Although sold to the American public and Congress as targeted, selective assassination aimed only at a handful of "high value" insurgent leaders, the program has in fact already expanded far beyond that. As personnel and aircraft devoted to assassination exponentially increase, so too do the numbers of people they murder, both "insurgents" and civilians.
While it is reasonable to assume that expanding the number of Special Operations commandos to its present worldwide level of 13,000 will result in increasing assassinations, the secrecy of their operations makes it impossible to know how many they have murdered, how many of those are civilians, and the effectiveness of their operations. It is not known, for example, how many people U.S. military assassins murder directly, and how many they kill indirectly by identifying them for drone strikes. Much of their activity is conducted, for example, in North Waziristan in northwest Pakistan which, as the N.Y. Times reported on April 4 "is virtually sealed from the outside world."
More information, however, has emerged about the parallel and unprecedented mass mechanized assassinations being carried out by the C.I.A. drone programs. It is clear that they have already expanded far beyond the official cover story of targeting only "high-level insurgent leaders," and are killing increasing numbers of people.
The CIA, of course, is no novice at assassination. Future CIA Director William Colby's Operation Phoenix program in South Vietnam gave South Vietnamese police quotas of the number of civilians to be murdered on a weekly and monthly basis, eventually killing 20-50,000 people. CIA operatives such as Latin American Station Chef Duane "Dewey" Clarridge also established, trained and operated local paramilitary and death squads throughout Central and Latin America that brutally tortured and murdered tens of thousands of civilians, most notably in El Salvador where CIA-trained and -directed killers murdered Archbishop Romero and countless other Salvadorans.
But the present CIA assassination program in Pakistan and elsewhere is different not only because it is Americans who are themselves the assassins, but because of the unprecedented act of conducting mechanized mass assassination from the air. The CIA, as Nick Turse has reported for TomDispatch.com, is exponentially increasing its drone assassination program:
"(Drone) Reapers flew 25,391 hours (in 2009). This year, the air force projects that the combined flight hours of all its drones will exceed 250,000 hours. More flight time will, undoubtedly, mean more killing."
There were already signs in 2009, when drone strikes were a fraction of what they are now, that they were striking large numbers of civilians and proving militarily and politically counterproductive. Most Pakistanis believe it is largely civilians who are being killed, and anti-American hatred is growing accordingly. A Gallup poll conducted in July 2009, based on 2,500 face-to-face interviews, found that "only 9 percent of Pakistanis supported the drone strikes." A Global Research study documented the drone murder of 123 civilians in January 2010 alone.
A particularly significant indication of the drone strikes' military ineffectiveness has come from Colonel David Kilcullen, a key Petraeus advisor in Iraq, who testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 23, 2009, that, "Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. We need to call off the drones."
Kilcullen's testimony was ignored, however, and as drone strikes have not only been continued but exponentially increased, there are increasing signs that they have vastly increased the scope of the killing far beyond the claimed "high-level insurgent leaders." The N.Y. Times reported on Aug. 14:
[The CIA has] broadened its drone campaign beyond selective strikes against Qaeda leaders and now regularly obliterates suspected enemy compounds and logistics convoys, just as the military would grind down an enemy force.
Reuters reported on May 5 that:
The CIA received approval to target a wider range of targets in Pakistan's tribal areas, including low-level fighters whose identities may not be known, U.S. officials said on Wednesday. Former intelligence officials acknowledged that in many, if not most cases, the CIA had little information about the foot soldiers killed in the strikes.
What this means is clear: the CIA is assassinating an expanding number of "low-level" people, labeling them as "fighters," but has little if any idea of who they really are. The history of such mechanized campaigns from the air, such as Laos where I have studied the U.S. 1964-'73 air war intensively, is that increased warfare from the air inevitably becomes increasingly indiscriminate, destroying civilian and military targets alike. As the drone program continues to expand, it will inevitably wind up killing more civilians -- and, if McChrystal is right, exponentially create more people committed to killing Americans.
Numerous moral, legal and ethical objections have been raised to this program of mass assassination. Philip Alston, the United Nations special representative on extrajudicial executions, has stated that "this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions."
The notion that a handful of U.S. military and CIA officials have the right to unilaterally and secretly murder anyone they choose in any nation on earth, without even outside knowledge let alone oversight, is deeply troubling to anyone with a conscience, belief in democracy, or respect for international law. It was precisely such behavior that made the Gestapo and Soviet secret police symbols of evil. Since the U.S. Congress has never reined in an Executive Branch that has routinely ignored international law since 1945, however, it is likely that the question of whether this program will be continued will be determined by its perceived effectiveness, not its morality.
The evidence is mounting that U.S. assassinations are so ineffective they are actually strengthening anti-American forces in Pakistan. Bruce Reidel, a counterinsurgency expert who coordinated the Afghan review for President Obama, said: "The pressure we've put on (jihadist forces) in the past year has also drawn them together, meaning that the network of alliances is growing stronger not weaker."
Reidel's striking conclusion that jihadi forces in Pakistan are stronger after six years of drone airstrikes the CIA claims are weakening them, is echoed by numerous other reports indicating that General Petraeus' strategy of using military force against Al Qaeda, Afghan and local insurgent forces in Pakistan has pushed them further east from isolated northwest areas into major cities like Karachi, where they operate freely and work together far more closely than before. The general's miscalculations regarding Pakistan are reason enough for him to be replaced.
In the long run, General Petraeus' strategy of expanding both ground and mechanized assassination throughout the 1.3 billion-strong Muslim world is likely to do the greatest disservice to his country's interests. It is true that U.S. leaders have used local forces to assassinate tens of thousands since 1945 and that while these programs were largely ineffectual, they did not lead to attacks on American soil.
But 9/11 has changed the calculus. It is clear that in today's wired and globalized world, marked by large-scale immigration, cheap telecommunications and airline travel, where crude technologies like car bombs or IEDs can be as easily detonated in New York as in Kandahar, and where America's enemies are growing increasingly technologically sophisticated even as nuclear weapons proliferate and become miniaturized, it is the height of folly to foment geometrically growing anti-American hatred in the volatile Muslim world.
A growing number of military and counterinsurgency experts support Colonel Kilcullen's belief that these assassination programs abroad are not protecting Americans at home. Both the "Underwear" and the "Times Square" bombers attributed their attempts to blow up Americans to their anger at the drone strikes. While Americans were saved by their incompetence, the U.S. may not be so lucky the next time, and the time after that. One thing is crystal clear: inflaming anti-American hatred throughout the Muslim world can only exponentially increase the numbers of those committed to killing Americans.
Such fears are increasing in Washington, as the N.Y. Times reported in the wake of the Times Square bombing:
A new, and disturbing, question is being raised in Washington: Have the stepped-up attacks in Pakistan -- notably the Predator drone strikes -- actually made Americans less safe? Are they inspiring more attacks on America than they prevent? As one American intelligence official said, "Those attacks (on two Pakistani Taliban leaders) have made it personal for the Pakistani Taliban -- so it's no wonder they are beginning to think about how they can strike back at targets here."
As General Petraeus and the U.S. military "make it personal" to increasing number of people throughout the Muslim world, they are recklessly sowing a whirlwind for which many of us, our children and grandchildren may well pay with our lives for decades to come.
It is difficult for most Americans to grasp the fact that their leaders' incompetence -- Republican and Democrat, civilian and military -- poses one of the single greatest threats to their own safety. But only when Americans do so will there be any hope of making America more secure in the dangerous years to come. (Editor's NOTE: This is not due to incompetance. It is pre-meditated. The MIMIC is committed to continuing the present course. Their calculus is as follows: The minute the US radically reduces its foreign presence including its global assassination program and its war machine, rising powers will no longer be willing to finance our debt as they will no longer fear us. Once that happens the USA will be totally bankrupt. The empire currently serves to delay the day of reckoning which is quickly approaching. That is why we have money for war-making virtually unlimited but have no money for universal health care, infrastructure, education etc).
A clear place to begin protecting America is to abandon the assassination approach to war, ditch General Petraeus, end the military and CIA's focus on worldwide and mechanized mass assassination, and halt its reckless expansion of U.S. war-making into nuclear-armed Pakistan and so much more of the Muslim world.
Final Note: Duane 'Dewey' Clarridge: The True Face of U.S. Policy Toward the Muslim World:
We'll intervene whenever we decide it's in our national security interest. And if you don't like it, lump it. Get used to it, world!" -- Duane Clarridge, interviewed by John Pilger in "The War on Democracy"
As the N.Y. Times reported, Clarridge is presently advising CIA assassination efforts in Pakistan. ("Duane R. Clarridge, a profane former C.I.A. officer who ran operations in Central America and was indicted in the Iran-contra scandal, turned up this year helping run a Pentagon-financed private spying operation in Pakistan.")
Fred Branfman, the editor of “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), exposed the U.S. secret air war while living in Laos from 1967 to 1971.
By Erin Chase
November 17, 2010 "Lew Rockwell" -- - I have an incident to share that occurred late Friday afternoon, November 12, 2010, around 5:15 in the Dayton International Airport.
I realize the publishing this publicly on the internet puts me into a delicate situation, given that I am a high profile blogger and author. This is a difficult incident to share, but it needs to be said...Because I will not be a silent victim. I will share the facts of the incident in as a matter of fact manner as I can.
I checked into my flight and had a boarding pass printed that included “plus infant.” My baby and I were flying from Dayton, OH, to San Antonio, TX, so I could run in the San Antonio Half Marathon. I was taking my baby along because he is still breastfeeding for part of the day.
I entered the security line, removed the special formula that I had with me for the baby, as well as my quart size baggie with my other liquids. I went through the x-ray machine and metal detector, carrying the baby, with no incident.
Because I was traveling with baby formula, I knew to expect that they would test it with the paper circles for explosives. The TSA agent took all of my belongings over to the table in the center of the explosive screening tables. She asked me, “Are you aware of the NEW policies for carrying liquids through security that were instated 4 years ago?” (capitalized to show the emphasis that she placed on that word.)
I replied, “Yes, I fly with him every several weeks.”
She scanned the formula, then turned to me and said, “Remove your shoes and stand on that black mat for a patdown.”
I said, “OK, what do I do with the baby?”
“You cannot be holding him.” (I am traveling alone.)
So I placed him into his stroller. She instructed me, “Spread your feet apart and hold your arms out to the side.” I obliged.
She patted my left arm, my right arm, my upper back and my lower back. She then said, “I need to reach in and feel along the inside of your waistband.”
She felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.
She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.
She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.
She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia.
She then told me that I could put my shoes on and I asked if I could pick up the baby, she replied Yes.
She then moved back to my belongings to finish scanning them with the paper discs for explosives.
When she finished she said I was free to go.
I stood there holding my baby in shock. I did not move for almost a minute.
I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking.
Here is why I was sexually assaulted. She never told me the new body search policy. She never told me that she was going to touch my private parts. She never told me when or where she was going to touch me. She did not inform me that a private screening was available. She did not inform me of my rights that were a part of these new enhanced patdown procedures.
When I booked my ticket, I was given no information that the TSA had changed their wand and unintrusive patdown procedures to “enhanced” patdown procedures that involved the touching of all parts of your body, including breasts and vagina on women and testicles and penis on men. I was not informed by any signs on the front side of security about the new procedures. I had not seen any media coverage about the issue, so I had no idea that this was a new government sanctioned policy.
Another important piece in this story, the Dayton airport does not have the new body scanners. I was not given any other search options. It was enhanced patdown, or nothing. (And I would have opted for the body scanner, if I were going to be subject to a sexual assault.)
I asked to speak to a supervisor immediately. I had a very unpleasant conversation with him that lasted 20 minutes. I moved to the back of the security area, made a few phone calls, including to my lawyer. He did some quick research, and learned that I had indeed been sexually assaulted because she did not follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) for the new search.
During our first conversation, the TSA acting manager of the shift told me that the TSA agent who sexually assaulted me was supposed to inform me about the new search procedure and tell me when and where she was going to touch me. He also apologized on behalf of himself and on behalf of the agent who sexually assaulted me. I was not allowed to speak to the agent who sexually assaulted me, nor did the acting manager provide me with her name. (I did not have the presence of mind to look at her nameplate, as I was in shock.)
I also spoke with the Dayton police, the Dayton airport police, and left a message for the TSA manager for the Dayton airport. I intend to request the TSA to arrange for counseling services to be provided to me, so I can deal with the aftermath of the sexual assault that took place, caused by the specific touching actions and failure to inform me of the policies by the TSA agent.
I am speaking out against the TSA and share my sexual assault case to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else, anywhere.
I will not be a silent victim of sexual assault by a TSA agent. Total Sexual Assault.
I am calling for immediate change to this new enhanced body patdown search.
I am calling for the TSA agent who sexually assaulted me to be fired.
I am calling for you, a fellow American, to stand up against these new enhanced full body patdown search procedures of the TSA.
Please note: I do plan on flying back to Ohio on Monday, because it will take me too long to drive home from Texas. I do not however intend to fly again until this search policy of sexual molestation is revoked by the TSA.
I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”
I will be posting frequently on this topic as unfortunately, this devastating problem has hit close to home.
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
Written by Kathleen Doheny Gannett
Healthy Place HERE...
Dec 24, 2008
Since the 1960s, the number of cases of eating disorders has doubled in the United States, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition, a non-profit advocacy organization. About 0.5 percent of teenage girls suffer from anorexia. Up to 5 percent have bulimia nervosa, in which they binge on food and then purge by vomiting or using laxatives, according to the Chicago-based American Academy of Pediatrics.
The statistics suggest that eating disorders have moved beyond the stereotype. It used to be considered primarily a health issue for young, white, affluent teenage girls. Now, the problem has crossed socioeconomic, ethnic and gender boundaries.
Up to 10 percent of all cases now affect boys, and boys and girls are being diagnosed with eating disorders at earlier ages, according to the academy and eating-disorder experts. advertisement
Recent studies have shown that 42 percent of first-, second- and third-grade girls want to be thinner; that 40 percent of almost 500 fourth-graders surveyed said they diet "very often" or "sometimes"; and that 46 percent of 9-year-olds and 81 percent of 10-year-olds admit to dieting, binge eating or fear of getting fat, according to the Harvard Eating Disorders Center in Boston.
The boom in eating disorders is fueled by a number of factors, experts say. Children see parents diet, sometimes obsessively and unnecessarily, and learn by example.
Pressure to look good probably never has been greater, and "good" often translates to "thin," says Dr. Ellen Rome, head of the section of adolescent medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Today's youngsters "are bombarded with messages that thin is in," she says.
Experts hope to get a handle on the problem, partly through earlier diagnosis so patients can get the treatment they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a policy statement urging its members to be alert to the possibility of eating disorders in their patients and advising them on how to screen for problems.
Among the recommendations: Pediatricians should be aware of signs and symptoms of eating disorders, such as dizziness, weakness, constipation or "cold intolerance." They also should calculate patients' weight and height to see if they are at a healthy weight and know when and how to refer patients to other specialists when needed.
By Reese Erlich
November 19, 2010 -- I'm finishing up a 25-city book tour that took me from New York and Chicago to Elizabethtown, PA, and Spearfish, SD. I met with college students, farmers and laid-off workers. Most people in the US now oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but I found a lot of confusion about the War on Terrorism.
Here are four of the more commonly asked questions:
1. Isn't it true that while not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims?
Well, just asking the question reveals a lot about how those in power have manipulated our concept of terrorism.
To begin, I point out that plenty of non-Muslims have carried out terrorist acts. Here's a partial list.
- Timothy McVeigh was convicted of detonating a truck bomb in front of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, which resulted in 168 deaths. He was Catholic.
- In 1994 Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish-American Israeli settler in the West Bank city of Hebron opened fire on Muslim worshippers, killing 29 and wounding 150. He died at the scene, and his grave later became a pilgrimage site for extremists in Israel.
- Murderers of abortion doctors in the US frequently carry out their crimes in the name of evangelical Christianity.
- In 2010, in a protest against federal government policies, Joseph Stack flew a plane into an Austin building housing IRS offices. He came from a Christian background and ranted against all religion.
I understand if you didn't think of those examples right away. We've been conditioned to think of terrorists as foreigners, or people trained by foreigners, preferably dark skinned people with a grudge against the West. But a white guy with a bomb trying to kill civilians for political purposes is still a terrorist.
Targeting civilians with political violence is terrorism, whether carried out by individuals, groups or governments. But the US government and major media have so distorted the word that virtually anyone who uses violence to oppose US policy is branded a terrorist. Conversely, anyone using violence against civilians to support US policy is a freedom fighter.
2. Yeah, but didn't Arabs and Muslims initiate the use of terrorism?
Zionists fighting in Palestine prior to the formation of Israel pioneered many modern day terrorist tactics. In 1947 an extremist Zionist group called Lechi, also known as the Stern Gang, was the first to use letter bombs. It mailed them to British Cabinet members.
The Stern Gang assassinated major British diplomats and the chief UN mediator trying to negotiate a two-state solution in 1948 Palestine. The Irgun, another Zionist extremist group, planted bombs in Arab East Jerusalem, seeking to kill civilians and drive Palestinians out. Arab insurgent groups also planted bombs intended to kill civilians and used other terror tactics against Jews.
In 1954 Israel became the first country to hijack an airplane for political purposes. It seized a Syrian civilian plane in a failed effort to trade hostages for Mossad intelligence agents captured by the Syrians.
Nor did Muslims originate suicide bombings. That dubious honor belongs to the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, who were Hindus.
3. Others may engage in terrorism, but isn't Arab and Muslim terrorism a serious threat to US national security?
Some extremists acting in the name of Islam do pose a threat to American civilians. The perpetrators of such crimes should be arrested, given fair trials and, if found guilty, severely punished. Muslims and everyone else around the world would cooperate with such police action. After all, extremist groups have killed far more Muslims than Christians or Jews.
But isn't that rather naïve to think police action can dismantle al- Qaeda? After all, didn't the US have to invade Afghanistan to put al- Qaeda on the run?
It wasn't necessary to invade and permanently occupy Afghanistan to rout al Qaeda. The few hundred members of al Qaeda living in Afghanistan fled the country and set up shop in Pakistan. Today, autonomous cells operate in Yemen and other countries. And, after nine years on the most wanted list, the US has still not managed to capture Osama bin Laden or other top leaders.
Fighting extremist groups such as al Qaeda requires both political and armed action. Undercut their base politically and isolate them among their followers. Turncoats and local officials will help capture the leaders.
But US military actions have had the opposite effect. The US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the covert war in Pakistan, help recruit angry young men to the extremist cause.
Instead of narrowing the target to the small number of extremist groups, US leaders intentionally expand the enemies list. They lump together al Qaeda with Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon. We are told that they are all part of a worldwide terrorist network.
In fact, groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas have significant bases of support, and have won free and fair elections, while also maintaining armed wings. They consider themselves national liberation movements opposing foreign occupiers.
If I lived in Lebanon or Palestine, I would never vote for such groups. They represent a conservative, religious trend that opposes real freedom in their countries. For the same reasons, I would never vote for Israel's religious parties. But just as Israel's religious extremists are part of that country's political reality, so Hamas and Hezbollah must be treated a serious political players - not marginalized as "terrorists."
4. So why is the US fighting in so many countries?
Under the guise of combating terrorism, the US has expanded its fleets of aircraft carriers, battle ships, and fighter-bombers - armaments particularly ill-suited to fight terrorist cells. But they do allow the US empire to forcibly expand around the globe, helping guarantee profits for US corporations. Oil pipeline and drilling companies got lucrative contracts in Iraq; US oil companies are preparing for a bonanza if Iraq finally privatizes its oil industry.
Over the past nine years, the US has built over a dozen new military bases throughout the Middle East and Asia. The US has over 750 military bases at home and around the world.
But the empire is in decline. The current wars have cost over a trillion dollars, and the meter is still running. A significant part of the current economic crisis, with 9.5% unemployment, flows from never-ending spending on war. A majority of Americans have come to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People in the Middle East and in the US will eventually force a withdrawal of US troops and an end to the wars.
The US will never win the War on Terrorism. The term will simply fade into the history books, along with the empire itself.
November 19, 2010 "Reuters" -- CHICAGO - More than 45 million Americans, or 20 percent of U.S. adults, had some form of mental illness last year, and 11 million had a serious illness, U.S. government researchers reported on Thursday.
Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of mental illness at 30 percent, while those aged 50 and older had the lowest, with 13.7 percent, said the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA.
The rate, slightly higher than last year's 19.5 percent figure, reflected increasing depression, especially among the unemployed, SAMHSA, part of the National Institutes of Health, said.
"Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA's administrator, said in a statement.
"The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord."
The 2009 mental health survey hints at the impact of record unemployment rates, which last year hit a 25-year high as struggling employers slashed jobs to cope with a weak economy.
For many, lost employment meant loss of health insurance, leaving many of the nation's mentally ill unable to get treatment.
According to the survey, 6.1 million adults last year had a mental health need that went untreated, and 42.5 percent said it was because they could not afford it.
It found 14.8 million Americans had major depression last year, and 10 percent of the jobless did, compared with 7.5 of retired people or those not in the job force, 7.3 percent who worked part time and 5.4 percent who worked full time.
Only 64 percent of adults aged 18 or older with major depression were treated last year, compared with 71 percent a year ago.
Being jobless also increased the risk of suicide.
Adults who were unemployed last year were twice as likely to have serious thoughts of suicide as people who were fully employed, with 6.6 percent of the unemployed considering suicide, compared with 3.1 percent of those who were working.
The survey also found that 23.8 percent of women had some form of mental illness, compared with 15.6 percent of men.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Liberal Democratic peer asks why world allows Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to continue – "Is it Holocaust guilt?"
By JONNY PAUL
November 15, 2010 "JPost" -- LONDON – In the second attack on Israel by Liberal Democrat politicians in the same week that the party’s leader said the party got it wrong on Israel, Jenny Tonge claimed on Friday that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is the root cause of terrorism worldwide.
Possibly “Holocaust guilt” allows this treatment to go unchecked, Tonge said, adding that it might also be the “power of the pro-Israel lobby” in the UK and US.
The Liberal Democrat peer was speaking in the House of Lords at the Strategic Defense and Security Review, which sets out how the British government will deliver the priorities identified in its national security strategy.
On the issue of world conflict prevention, Tonge then said: “It is a disgrace to us all that problems such as Kashmir and Palestine are still alienating Muslims all over the world.
“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims,” she said, “and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide.”
“Even [the Quartet’s Middle East envoy] Tony Blair has now admitted this publicly,” she claimed.
“Why do we let it continue? Is it Holocaust guilt? We should be guilty – of course we should. Is it the power of the pro-Israel lobby here and in the USA?” The peer went on say that “cynics might think” Britain is at the ready to help Israel attack Iran.
“Or is it the need, maybe, to have an aircraft carrier called Israel in the Middle East, from which to launch attacks on countries such as Iran? The cynic might think that that is why HMS Ark Royal and the Harriers [fighter jets] can be dispensed with [as part of UK defense cuts] – [since] we already have a static “Ark Royal” in a strategic position, armed to the teeth and ready to fight, provided that we do not offend Israel,” she said.
Tonge, a lifelong anti-Israel activist, continued: “I feel sorry for the people of Israel sometimes. Their government’s policies have made that country the cause of a lot of the world’s problems, yet now they are seen in the middle as the remedy and the base for the West to fight back.”
The party has distanced itself from Tonge’s comments, which “do not reflect the views of the Liberal Democrats,” a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. “Indeed, last week [party leader] Nick Clegg stressed that Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats.”
Last week, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Phillips told a meeting of the radical fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign in parliament that “Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust, and America is in the grip of the well-organized Jewish lobby.”
These two incidents came in the same week that Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told a meeting of Liberal Democrat supporters of Israel that his party had got it wrong on Israel.
“I’m not certain that we have always made ourselves clearly heard on this, so let me say it again now: Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is nonnegotiable for Liberal Democrats.
“No other country so continually has its right to exist called into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable. There can be no solution to the problems of the Middle East that does not include a full and proper recognition of Israel by all parties to the conflict,” he said.
“Campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people has been heard loud and clear from the Liberal Democrats, [and] it should always have been accompanied, equally loudly and equally clearly, by an awareness of the security challenges faced by Israel, and of the right of Israel to defend itself against the threats that it continually faces,” Clegg added.
In February, Clegg sacked Tonge as health spokeswoman in the Lords after she suggested that Israel set up an inquiry to refute allegations that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” organs of earthquake victims.
It is not the first time the Liberal Democrat politician has been sacked by the party for her comments on Israel.
In 2006, then party leader Menzies Campbell dissociated the party from Tonge and condemned her for “clear anti-Semitic connotations” after she said that “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.”
In 2004, Tonge was sacked as a spokeswoman on children’s issues after suggesting she could consider becoming a suicide bomber.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
As Professor Hudson outlines in the preceeding piece, the plutocrats have all but won the class struggle and in so doing have almost completely succeeded in converting the United States into a true third world nation while amassing unconsionable wealth through debt creation. The debt in question has effectively been transferred to the lower classes. Eventually it will become clear that it can never be repaid. That is when the dollar will become worthless and foreign countries will refuse to lend us any more money i.e., no one will buy our Treasury Bonds. At that point the country will either be balkanized into several regional superstates or conquered by a new Superpower.
In the meantime, in an attempt to delay the day of reckoning, our feckless Congress and Executive branch will predictably try to decrease the budget deficit and the national debt by cutting back on entitlements including Medicare and Social Security. The trillion dollar plus per year war budget will not be touched since it is too lucrative a source of funds for many of the plutocrats who make up the MIMIC (media/intelligence/military/industrial/complex).
The plutocrats however will do just fine because by then they will have moved all of their money "off-shore", having found other geographical locations from which to base their operations. It matters little to them where they physically reside after all. In fact, much of the "smart money" has been moved off-shore already along with the off-shoring of US manufacturing and out-sourcing of US jobs. So much for the inevitable "globalization" the rubric under which this gigantic wealth transfer has taken place. It is as vacuous a concept in practice as "free trade" and "free market capitalism." Follow the money and it is apparent that one and only one entity has benefitted from them all--the super rich.
We must now realize that unadulterated greed on behalf of the ruling class has become their singular goal, or "end." The "means" to that end is the wealth transfer which the executive and legislative branches keep in place through their refusal to enact real financial reform. It is a simple means/end equation analysis for the plutocrats. Their only driving force is to acquire more money and the power which it brings, virtually any "means" to that end is acceptable to them. Americans of more modest means must accept that the plutocrats could care less about their plight or whether the United States of America survives as an intact nation. We must follow the evidence where it actually leads and that unfortunately is the unvarnished truth.
With the recent Supreme Court decision HERE...
allowing virtually unlimited corporate contributions to political candidates without the need for full disclosure, the total purchase of Congress by the wealthy has been accomplished. Barring a complete reversal and move to a government financed election system in which individuals and corporations would be prevented from contributing to political campaigns, it is difficult to imagine how the current situation can be altered. The very people in Congress who must change the system are bought and paid for by those whose interest lies in maintaining the status quo.
A grass-routes massive wave of populism not controlled by either major political party might be the only non-violent way in which to attempt to alter the increasingly disastrous national trajectory.
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
November 16, 2010
Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his bipartisan willingness to renew the tax cuts for the super-rich enacted under George Bush ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by Mr. Obama’s promise to rise above partisan politics – by ruling on behalf of Wall Street, now that it is the major campaign backer of both parties?
It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.
Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). This is nearly double what it received a generation ago. The rest of the population is being squeezed, and foreclosures are rising.
Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. Today’s financial elites will win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help them rather than shepherd them into debt peonage as the economy settles into debt deflation.
We are dealing with shameless demagogy. The financial End Time has arrived, but Mr. Obama’s happy-talk pretends that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and stay home, as they did earlier this month. So “two years” means forever in politician-talk. Why vote for a politician who promises “change” but is merely an exclamation mark for the Bush-Cheney policies from Afghanistan and Iraq to Wall Street’s Democratic Leadership Council on the party’s right wing? One of its leaders, after all, was Mr. Obama’s Senate mentor, Joe Lieberman.
The second pretense is that cutting taxes for the super-rich is necessary to win Republican support for including the middle class in the tax cuts. It is as if the Democrats never won a plurality in Congress. (One remembers George W. Bush with his mere 50+%, pushing forward his extremist policies on the logic that: “I’ve got capital, and I’m using it.” What he had, of course, was Democratic Leadership Committee support.) The pretense is “to create jobs,” evidently to be headed by employment of shipyard workers to build yachts for the nouveau riches and sheriff’s deputies to foreclose on the ten million Americans whose mortgage payments have fallen into arrears. It sounds Keynesian, but is more reminiscent of Thomas Robert Malthus’s lugubrious claim (speaking for Britain’s landed aristocracy) that landlords would keep the economy going by using their rental income (to be protected by high agricultural tariffs) to hire footmen and butlers, tailors and carriage-makers.
It gets worse. Mr. Obama’s “Bush” tax cut is only Part I of a one-two punch to shift taxes onto wage earners. Congressional economists estimate that extending the tax cuts to the top 2% will cost $700 to $750 billion over the next decade or so. “How are we going to go out and borrow $700 billion?” Mr. Obama asked Steve Croft on his Sixty Minutes interview on CBS last week.
It was a rhetorical question. The President has appointed a bipartisan commission (right-wingers on both sides of the aisle) to “cure” the federal budget deficit by cutting back social spending – to pay yet more bailouts to the economy’s financial wreckers. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might better be called the New Class War Commission to Scale Back Social Security and Medicare Payments to Labor in Order to Leave more Tax Revenue Available to Give Away to the Super-Rich. A longer title than the Deficit-Reduction Commission used by media friendlies, but sometimes it takes more words to get to the heart of matters.
The political axiom at work is “Big fish eat little fish.” There’s not enough tax money to continue swelling the fortunes of the super-rich pretending to save enough to pay the pensions and related social support that North American and European employees have been promised. Something must give – and the rich have shown themselves sufficiently foresighted to seize the initiative. For a preview of what’s in line for the United States, watch neoliberal Europe’s fight against the middle and working class in Greece, Ireland and Latvia; or better yet, Pinochet’s Chile, whose privatized Social Security accounts were quickly wiped out in the late 1970s by the kleptocracy advised by the Chicago Boys, to whose monetarist double-think Mr. Obama’s appointee Ben Bernanke has just re-pledged his loyalty.
What is needed to put Mr. Obama’s sell-out in perspective is the pro-Wall Street advisors he has chosen – not only Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke (who last week reaffirmed his loyalty to Milton Friedman’s Chicago School monetarism), but by stacking his Deficit Reduction Commission with outspoken advocates of cutting back Social Security, Medicare and other social spending. Their ploy is to frighten the public with a nightmare of $1 trillion deficit to pay retirement income over the next half century – as if the Treasury and Fed have not just given Wall Street $13 trillion in bailouts without blinking an eye. President Obama’s $750 billion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 2% is mere icing on the cake that the rich will be eating when the bread lines get too long.
To put matters in perspective, bear in mind that interest on the public debt (that Reagan-Bush quadrupled and Bush-Obama redoubled) soon will amount to $1 trillion annually. This is tribute levied on labor – increasing the economy’s cost of living and doing business – paid for losing the fight for economic reform and replacing progressive taxation with regressive neoliberal tax policy. As for military spending in the Near East, Asia and other regions responsible for much of the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, Congress will always rise to the occasion and defer to whatever foreign threat is conjured up requiring new armed force.
It’s all junk economics. Running a budget deficit is how modern governments inject the credit and purchasing power needed by economies to grow. When governments run surpluses, as they did under Bill Clinton (1993-2000), credit must be created by banks. And the problem with bank credit is that most is lent, at interest, against collateral already in place. The effect is to inflate real estate and stock market prices. This creates capital gains – which the “original” 1913 U.S. income tax treated as normal income, but which today are taxed at only 15% (when they are collected at all, which is rarely in the case of commercial real estate). So today’s tax system subsidizes the inflation of debt-leveraged financial and real estate bubbles.
The giveaway: the Commission’s position on tax deductibility for mortgage interest
The Obama “Regressive Tax” commission spills the beans with its proposal to remove the tax subsidy for high housing prices financed by mortgage debt. The proposal moves only against homeowners – “the middle class” – not absentee owners, commercial real estate investors, corporate raiders or other prime bank customers.
The IRS permits mortgage interest to be tax-deductible on the pretense that it is a necessary cost of doing business. In reality it is a subsidy for debt leveraging. This tax bias for debt rather than equity investment (using one’s own money) is largely responsible for loading down the U.S. economy with debt. It encourages corporate raiding with junk bonds, thereby adding interest to the cost of doing business. This subsidy for debt leveraging also is the government’s largest giveaway to the banks, while causing the debt deflation that is locking the economy into depression – violating every precept of the classical drive for “free markets” in the 19th-century. (A “free market” meant freedom from extractive rentier income, leading toward what Keynes gently called “euthanasia of the rentier.” The Obama Commission endows rentiers atop the economy with a tax system to bolster their power, not check it – while shrinking the economy below them.)
Table 7.11 of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) reports that total monetary interest paid in the U.S. economy amounted to $3,240 billion in 2009. Homeowners paid just under a sixth of this amount ($572 billion) on the homes they occupied. Mr. Obama’s commission estimates that removing the tax credit on this interest would yield the Treasury $131 billion in 2012.
There is in fact a good logic for stopping this tax credit. The mortgage-interest tax deduction does not really save homeowners money. It is a shortsighted illusion. What the government gives to “the homeowner” on one hand is passed on to the mortgage banker by “the market” process that leads bidders for property to pledge the net available rental value to the banks in order to obtain a loan to buy the home (or an office building, or an entire industrial company, for that matter.) “Equilibrium” is achieved at the point where whatever rental value the tax collector relinquishes becomes available to be capitalized into bank loans.
This means that what appears at first as “helping homeowner” afford to pay mortgages turns out merely to enable them to afford to pay more interest to their bankers. The tax giveaway uses homebuyers as “throughputs” to transfer tax favoritism to the banks.
It gets worse. By removing the traditional tax on real estate, state, local and federal governments need to tax labor and industry more, by transforming the property tax onto income and sales taxes. For banks, this is transmuting tax revenue into gold – into interest. And as for the home-owning middle class, it now has to pay the former property tax to the banker as interest, and also to pay the new taxes on income and sales that are levied to make up for the tax shift.
I support removing the tax favoritism for debt leveraging. The problem with the Deficit Commission is that it does not extend this reform to the rest of the economy – to the commercial real estate sector, and to the corporate sector.
The argument is made that “The rich create jobs.” After all, somebody has to build the yachts. What is missing is the more general principle: Wealth and income inequality destroy job creation. This is because beyond the wealthy soon reach a limit on how much they can consume. They spend their money buying financial securities – mainly bonds, which end up indebting the economy. And the debt overhead is what is pushing today’s economy into deepening depression.
Since the 1980s, corporate raiders have borrowed high-interest “junk bond” credit to take over companies and make money by stripping assets, cutting back long-term investment, research and development, and paying out depreciation credit to their financiers. Financially parasitized companies use corporate income to buy back their stock to support its price – and hence, the value of stock options that financial managers give themselves – and borrow yet more money for stock buybacks or simply to pay out as dividends. When the process has run its course, they threaten their work force with bankruptcy that will wipe out its pension benefits if employees do not agree to “downsize” their claims and replace defined-benefit plans with defined-contribution plans (in which all that employees know is how much they pay in each month, not what they will get in the end). By the time this point has been reached, the financial managers have paid themselves outsized salaries and bonuses, and cashed in their stock options – all subsidized by the government’s favorable tax treatment of debt leveraging.
The attempted raids on McDonalds and other companies in recent years provide object lessons in this destructive financial policy of “shareholder activists.” Yet Mr. Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission is restricting its removal of tax favoritism for debt leveraging only for middle class homeowners, not for the financial sector across the board. What makes this particularly absurd is that two thirds of homeowners do not even itemize their deductions. The fiscal loss resulting from tax deductibility of interest stems mainly from commercial investors.
If the argument is correct (and I think it is) that permitting interest to be tax deductible merely “frees” more revenue to pay interest to banks – to capitalize into yet higher loans – then why isn’t this principle even more applicable to the Donald Trumps and other absentee owners who seek always to use “other peoples’ money” rather than their own? In practice, the “money” turns out to be bank credit whose cost to the banks is now under 1%. The financial-fiscal system is siphoning off rental value from commercial real estate investment, increasing the price of rental properties, commercial real estate, and indeed, industry and agriculture.
Alas, the Obama administration has backed the Geithner-Bernanke policy that “the economy” cannot recover without saving the debt overhead. The reality is that it is the debt overhead that is destroying the economy. So we are dealing with the irreconcilable fact that the Obama position threatens to lower living standards from 10% to 20% over the coming few years – making the United States look more like Greece, Ireland and Latvia than what was promised in the last presidential election.
Something has to give politically if the economy is to change course. More to the point, what has to give is favoritism for Wall Street at the expense of the economy at large. What has made the U.S. economy uncompetitive is primarily the degree to which debt service has been built into the cost of living and doing business. Post-classical “junk economics” treats interest and fees as payment for the “service” for providing credit. But interest (like economic rent and monopoly price extraction) is a transfer payment to bankers with the privilege of credit creation. The beneficiaries of providing tax favoritism for debt are the super-rich at the top of the economic pyramid – the 2% whom Mr. Obama’s tax giveaway will benefit by over $700 billion.
If the present direction of tax “reform” is not reversed, Mr. Obama will shed crocodile tears for the middle class as he sponsors the Deficit Reduction Commission’s program of cutting back Social Security and revenue sharing to save states and cities from defaulting on their pensions. One third of U.S. real estate already is reported to have sunk into negative equity, squeezing state and local tax collection, forcing a choice to be made between bankruptcy, debt default, or shifting the losses onto the shoulders of labor, off those of the wealthy creditor layer of the economy responsible for loading it down with debt.
Critics of the Obama-Bush agenda recall how America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century was an era of economic polarization and class war. At that time the Democratic leader William Jennings Bryan accused Wall Street and Eastern creditors of crucifying the American economy on a cross of gold. Restoration of gold at its pre-Civil War price led to a financial war in the form of debt deflation as falling prices and incomes received by farmers and wage labor made the burden of paying their mortgage debts heavier. The Income Tax law of 1913 sought to rectify this by only falling on the wealthiest 1% of the population – the only ones obliged to file tax returns. Capital gains were taxed at normal rates. Most of the tax burden therefore fell on finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector.
The vested interests have spent a century fighting back. They now see victory within reach, by perpetuating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, phasing out of the estate tax on wealth, the tax shift off property onto labor income and consumer sales, and slashing public spending on anything except more bailouts and subsidies for the emerging financial oligarchy that has become Mr. Obama’s “bipartisan” constituency.
What we need is a Futures Commission to forecast just what will the rich do with the victory they have won. As administered by President Obama and his designated appointees Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, their policy is financially and fiscally unsustainable. Providing tax incentives for debt leveraging – for most of the population to go into debt to the rich, whose taxes are all but abolished – is shrinking the economy. This will lead to even deeper financial crises, employer defaults and fiscal insolvency at the state, local and federal levels. Future presidents will call for new bailouts, using a strategy much like going to military war. A financial war requires an emergency to rush through Congress, as occurred in 2008-09. Mr. Obama’s appointees are turning the U.S. economy into a Permanent Emergency, a Perpetual Ponzi Scheme requiring injections of more and more Quantitative Easing to to rescue “the economy” (Mr. Obama’s euphemism for creditors at the top of the economic pyramid) from being pushed into insolvency. Mr. Bernanke’s helicopter flies only over Wall Street. It does not drop monetary relief on the population at large.
“The Wurst of Obama: He’s Carving the Middle Class into Sausage Filler as a Super-Meal for the Rich.”