The Secret Raids of Alberto Gonzales
Operation Falcon: 10,000 Swept Up
By MIKE WHITNEY
18/05/08 “Counterpunch” — – There’s only one way to make sure that the machinery of state-terror is operating at maximum efficiency; flip on the switch and let er rip. That was thinking behind last month’s massive roundup of 10,000 American citizens in what was aptly-christened Operation Falcon.
Operation Falcon was a massive clandestine dragnet that involved hundreds of state, federal and local law-enforcement agencies during the week of April 4 to April 10, 2005. It was the largest criminal-sweep in the nation’s history and was brainchild of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his counterpart in the US Marshal’s office, (Director) Ben Reyna.
Read more and listen to speeches by Mike Whitney and Jeremey Scahill on the militarization of America and on the looming martial law.
Blackwater USA, the private security contractor that has operated in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and New Orleans, has been booming the past few years. Founded in December of 1996, the company spent its early years “paying staff with an executive’s credit card and begging for customers,” according to the Virginian-Pilot. But today, Blackwater reportedly has revenues of about $100 million annually, almost all of it from government contracts, and maintains “a compound half the size of Manhattan and 450 permanent employees,” according to the newspaper.
How did Blackwater rise so high, so fast? The “war on terrorism” got the ball rolling for the firm, but one suspects that political connections played a big part as well. Erik Prince, Blackwater’s founder, is a former SEAL who is deeply involved in Republican Party politics. Since 1998, he has funneled roughly $200,000 to GOP committees and candidates, including President Bush. In 2004, Blackwater retained the Alexander Strategy Group, the PR and lobbying firm that closed down earlier this year due to its embarrassing ties to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. (Paul Behrends, a former national security adviser to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, handled the account for Alexander. After the firm shut down, Behrends moved on to a firm called C&M Capitolink, and took the Blackwater account with him.)
BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday that Blackwater should leave the country because of the mountain of evidence against the under-fire US security firm.
His comments came amid growing anger among Iraqis that “above-the-law” security contractors are continuing to operate in Iraq while Blackwater is being probed over a deadly shooting 17 days ago.
“I believe the abundance of evidence against it makes it unfit to stay in Iraq,” Maliki told a televised press conference in Baghdad.
A New York Times report on Wednesday citing witnesses, Iraqi investigators and a US official said that as many as 17 people were killed and 24 wounded when Blackwater employees opened fire in central Baghdad on September 16.
America’s hired guns in Iraq have been called ‘the coalition of the billing’, but Blackwater mercenaries are accused of more than just taking the money.
Investigations Editor Neil Mackay examines the links between the security firm and the US political elite
EVEN FOR Blackwater, it was an atrocity too far. If an Iraqi government report is to be believed, Blackwater, a US mercenary company which is unofficially the world’s largest “for hire” private army, indiscriminately and without provocation opened fire earlier this month on civilians in a Baghdad street, killing at least 20 people.
Iraq immediately revoked the firm’s licence to operate in the country and moved to expel its staff and prosecute those responsible for the shootings, but Blackwater’s activities have since resumed.
This coincides with the release of a US Embassy report on the September 16 shooting, obtained by the Washington Post and described by a State Department official as a “first blush” account. It details the events, as given by Blackwater guards, and has stirred controversy in Iraq and Washington and prompted an inquiry into the role of Blackwater and other private security firms in Iraq.
On February 7, 2007, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing to initiate an investigation into the performance and accountability of private military contractors in Iraq. The hearing included the examination of one prominent case study: a pivotal event of the Iraq War in which four Blackwater USA security contractors were ambushed and killed in Fallujah on March 31, 2004, while escorting a convoy.
At the hearing, Blackwater’s General Counsel testified that the company acted responsibly in preparing for and executing the Fallujah mission. He asserted that the vehicles involved had an “appropriate” amount of protection and that the level of staffing was “the norm” given “the threat as it was known on the ground in Iraq.”
Blackwater involved in Rendition flights.
This flight was spotted landing at a UK airport – proof that ‘rendition ‘ flights are still taking place
By GLEN OWEN
The row over CIA ‘torture flights’ using British airports has deepened following fresh evidence that a plane repeatedly linked to the controversial programme landed in the UK just days ago.
The plane was logged arriving at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk last weekend, and watching aviation experts said the aircraft, piloted by crew clad in desert fatigues, was immediately surrounded on the runway by armed American security forces.
Its registration number, clearly visible on the fuselage, identifies it as a plane which the European Parliament says has been involved in ‘ghost flights’ to smuggle terrorist suspects to shadowy interrogation centres abroad. Records show the plane is owned by Blackwater USA, a CIA contractor described as ‘the most secretive and powerful mercenary army on the planet’. An eyewitness, who previously worked as an RAF electronic warfare expert, said that as the plane – a CASA-212 Aviocar – taxied to a stop on the runway it was met by a US military Humvee.
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined for the first time Wednesday his concerns about oversight of private contractors in Iraq, telling Congress that he sent a fact-finding team to Baghdad and reminded U.S. commanders they have the authority to discipline private workers.
Gates also said he was troubled by security contractors’ practice of luring soldiers out of uniform by offering them higher salaries. He said he was looking for ways to put legal limits on that practice.
In remarks to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gates said he understood the reason for having 137,000 private contractors in Iraq – their presence allows U.S. troops to focus on combat while simpler tasks like providing food and laundry services and guarding fixed sites are done by private hires.
“But we clearly have to have proper oversight procedures and oversight activities in place to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to,” he said, adding: “My concern is whether there has been sufficient accountability and oversight.”
Gates appeared before the committee to spell out the administration’s request for nearly $190 billion in new funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the discussion quickly turned to the issue of private security contractors in Iraq, some of whom have been accused of rogue behavior.
Yep, looks like Blackwater is going nowhere.
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday September 18, 2007
Members of Blackwater scan Baghdad from their helicopter. Photograph: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty
The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, apologised to the Iraqi government yesterday in an attempt to prevent the expulsion of all employees of the security firm Blackwater USA.The ministry of interior yesterday took the decision to expel Blackwater after eight Iraqi civilians were killed and 13 wounded in Baghdad when shots were fired from a US state department convoy on Sunday.
Diplomats, engineers and other westerners in Iraq rely heavily on protection by Blackwater. The Iraqi decision created confusion on the ground, with uncertainty over whether protection was still available and whether Blackwater staff should leave the country immediately.
Don’t count your chickens until they hatch.
Blackwater US private security contractors secure a site in Baghdad where a roadside bomb exploded near the Iranian embassy, 2005.
Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty
TIME has obtained an incident report prepared by the U.S. government describing a fire fight Sunday in Baghdad in which at least eight Iraqis were reported killed and 13 wounded. The deadly incident occurred when a convoy of U.S. personnel protected by Blackwater security contractors came under small arms fire. Blackwater returned fire, resulting in the Iraqi deaths. The loss of life has provoked anger in Baghdad, where the Interior Ministry has suspended Blackwater’s license to operate around the country. Several Iraqi government officials have indicated their opposition to Blackwater’s continued presence in their country.
BAGHDAD: Security contractors opened fire in western Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least nine civilians and wounding 18, Iraqi police said. The U.S. Embassy said contractors working for the State Department were involved in an incident but provided no further details.
The shootings happened about 12:30 on Nisoor Square in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Mansour, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.
The security contractors were in a convoy of six SUVs and left the scene after the shooting. The policeman said he did not have more details, but a witness said the shooting erupted after an explosion.
Yep, the surge is working, add genocide through sickness to the list of war crimes.
BAGHDAD, Sept. 11 — A cholera epidemic in northern Iraq has infected approximately 7,000 people and could reach Baghdad within weeks as the disease spreads through the country’s decrepit and unsanitary water system, Iraqi health officials said Tuesday.
The World Health Organization reported that the epidemic is concentrated in the northern regions of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya and that 10 people are known to have died. But Dr. Said Hakki, president of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, a relief organization that has responded to the epidemic, said that new cases had turned up in the neighboring provinces, Erbil and Nineveh, indicating that the disease had spread.
Most significant, Dr. Hakki said, were two cases in a village on the border between Kirkuk and Diyala Provinces, one involving a young girl. Baghdad is next to Diyala.
Mr Chavez’s government took control of the oil project in May
Exxon Mobil is seeking arbitration over a stand-off with Venezuela about the takeover of its oil assets.The US oil firm made its case to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a group with close ties to the World Bank.
GOP Operative Ed Gillespie ‘hard-wired’ into Petraeus’s shop
by: Matt Stoller
Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:41:26 PM EDT
As if this is not obvious already.Another new arrival in the West Wing set up a rapid-response PR unit hard-wired into Petraeus’s shop. Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge.
Now we know why the Iraqi national power grid had to be destroyed, the population will give up anything just to have electricity again.
By Ben Lando, UPI. Posted September 10, 2007.
An Iraqi electricity law hasn’t been made public.
Two of Iraq’s many needs right now are more electricity and more investment. A law being drafted could satisfy both, paving the way for foreign and domestic private companies to build power plants, a step toward fully privatizing the electricity sector.
“It should be short coming,” a senior U.S. official working in Baghdad on Iraq’s electricity sector told United Press International on condition of anonymity on the sidelines of an Iraq energy conference.
September 10, 2007 | From theTrumpet.com
Questions loom whether China is behind recent dollar sales—if it is, America’s way of life is about to change. The only question is how badly and how fast. By Robert MorleyThe U.S. dollar is standing at the edge of a cliff, and most people don’t even know it.
Data released by the New York Federal Reserve shows that foreign central banks have been net sellers of U.S. treasuries over the past five weeks, with $48 billion having been sold since late July, and $32 billion in just the last two weeks.
The U.S. runs budget deficits each year. If foreigners stop buying treasuries—or worse, start selling them—the dollar could be in big trouble.
By Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) – The launch of a new U.S. military command for Africa is aimed at helping the continent to boost its own security and not at projecting American power or countering Chinese influence, a U.S. official said on Monday.
Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, rejected what he called a series of “myths” surrounding October’s launch, also including the idea that it was linked to growing U.S. appetite for West African oil exports.
If you want to find out more, there is an interesting discussion going on at the pilots for 911 truth forum about this subject.
By Michael Hoffman – Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Sep 5, 2007 19:26:41 EDT
The Air Force continued handing out disciplinary actions in response to the six nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on a B-52 Stratofortress bomber from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30. The squadron commander in charge of Minot’s munitions crews was relieved of all duties pending the investigation.
It was originally reported that five nuclear warheads were transported, but officers who tipped Military Times to the incident who have asked to remain anonymous since they are not authorized to discuss the incident, have since updated that number to six.
Air Force and defense officials would not confirm the missiles were armed with nuclear warheads Wednesday, citing longstanding policy, but they did confirm the Air Force was “investigating an error made last Thursday during the transfer of munitions” from Minot to Barksdale.
What is money, who creates it? The government? Well, no. American money is created by the Federal bank of America, lovingly refered to as the Feds. The problem is that the Feds are not federal at all. It is a privatly owned financial institution awed only by a very small group of very powerful individuals. How do they do it, and why is an privatly owned instituut allowed to control the money flow around the world? Watch the video money is debt and learn.