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January, 2010 Volume 35, Issue 1


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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS

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   Washington's Terrorism And The Cost Of Operation Hunker Down
By Edward W. Miller, MD
"Oh wad some power the giftie  gie us
To see ourselves as  others see  us.
It wad fra monie a  blunder free us
And foolish notion."  -Robert Burns (1759-96) 

   
On 4 June, 2009: (Associated Press) in a message broadcast for the first time on Pan-Arab Al Jazeera Television during Obama's visit to the Mideast, Osama bin Laden said Obama had inflamed hatred toward the United States by ordering Pakistan to crack down on militants in the Swat Valley, and blocking Islamic Law there.  "Elderly people fled their homes and lived in tents as refugees after they had lived in dignity in their homes... let the American people be ready to reap what the White House leaders have sown."
  
 President Bush, Jr. along with Cheney and Powell, lied and are still lying regarding threats that Saddam then some 6000 miles away, had posed to this Country.  Bush's lies worked, amplified by a chorus from the Neocons, and a reckless and somewhat incoherent Congress passed the "War Powers Act" with little or no serious debate and we were again on our way into Iraq in another war of planned aggression.
  
 "The Bush Jr. administration during their eight years, copying the Red Queen in Alice-In -Wunderland, (who went around shouting: "off with their heads) in Washington speak Bush cried "Terrorist" and went to his UN buddies demanding "Embargoes."
   
Much of the intelligent world has refused to accept many of Washington's designated terrorists and in a poll taken of over 7000 Europeans from 15 EU countries and reported in 2004, the great majority identified Israel as the "Greatest threat to world peace" with the United States running a close second.  
   
While Washington has labeled the 2003 bombing of our Trade Center and later, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as well as the USS C ole and the Twin Towers as "Terrorist Operations," and Bush with Congress help hurriedly established HSA, Howard Zinn  (historian, playwright) reminds us that modern war is by far the most feared and dangerous form of terrorism.
   
In ancient times, battles were likely to be fought between armies, though city populations might be subject to massacres, but beginning in WWII after the Nazis bombed London and Churchill retaliated by destroying Dresden from the air, citizen populations have more often become potential targets of incendiary or explosive bombs, chemical bombs and now radioactive materials, such as cluster bombs, scattered at will across great stretches of the landscape.
   
On the13th of May, 2006 Pat Buchanan reminded us that: "In the 27 years since the Iranian Revolution, the United States has launched air strikes on Libya, invaded Grenada, put Marines in Lebanon, and run air strikes in the Bekaa Valley and Chouf Mountains in retaliation for the Beirut bombing. We invaded Panama, launched Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait, and put troops into Somalia. Under Clinton, we occupied Haiti, fired cruise missiles into Sudan, intervened in Bosnia, conducted bombing strikes on Iraq, and launched a 78-day bombing campaign against Serbia, a nation that never attacked us. Then, we put troops into Kosovo.  After the Soviet Union stood down in Eastern Europe, we moved NATO into Poland and the Baltic States and established U.S. bases also in former provinces of Russia's in Central Asia. Americans are reminded that Bush Jr., using his presidential power, forcibly removed Haiti's duly-elected President, Aristide from power and flew him into exile to the Central Africa Republic. Today as 2010 approaches, we Americans are involved in two wars of our own choosing, while paying for Israel's continued violent exploitation of the Palestinians and other Mideast neighbors.
   
To protect us from further acts of "Terrorism which our continuing savagery abroad might engender, Congress has erected an expansive scaffolding called "Homeland Security," or in street terms "Operation Hunker Down", which is now costing us almost as much as our military exercises while intruding on our private lives and personal freedoms. 
   
January 23, 2003 saw the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, (HSA) the most significant realignment of the U.S. government in the last fifty years. Two weeks later, on February 6, 2003, Administrator Christine Todd Whitman established the EPA's Office of Homeland Security, fulfilling the Agency's need for a coordinating body.
  
 This 484-page Homeland Security Act (HSA) was pushed through Congress following 9/11, "to defend the US from further terrorist attacks."
  
 Its passage consolidated more than 20 existing federal agencies into a single Homeland Security Department, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE). Not since President Truman created the Department of Defense in 1947 had the federal government undergone such dramatic restructuring.
The aim of this consolidation was to detect terrorist threats by removing information firewalls between government agencies, and centralizing, that unprecedented flood of surveillance data made possible by the PATRIOT ACT.
   
However the massive collection of various departments, programmed for a thousand different functions has created one problem after another, with the result that calls for removing FEMA and ICE from under the control of HSA have been growing.
   
Civil liberties groups objected strongly to the Homeland Security Act, contending that it reduced privacy, increased government secrecy and power and strengthened government protection of special interests.
   
The Total Information Awareness Office was the most controversial of the Act's provisions. TIA was given a startup budget of $200 million, and a mandate to achieve a state of "Total Information Awareness." Admiral John Poindexter, who had lied to Congress about his role in the Iran Contra affair, was placed in charge of the Office.
   
Under the HSA, any person or agency that voluntarily submit "critical infrastructure information" to a federal agency is assured confidentiality of the information and the source, and the supplier of the information cannot face prosecution based on vulnerabilities that the information revealed. The American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) says the proof that HSA is determined to conduct massive surveillance on the American people is their "deep involvement" with Matrix, a private, Florida-based company which makes data-mining software that can access billions of private-sector records on American citizens in seconds.
   
Although the American people were told that the Homeland Security Act ( HSA) was a direct result of September 11, it is widely known that the Hart-Rudman Commission, (officially the "US Commission on National Security for the 21st Century"), created under Clinton in 1998, actually authored the blueprint for what became the HSA, and published it in a report called the "Road Map for National Security: Imperative For Change." Of the 14 members of the Hart-Rudman Commission, nine were members of the Council on Foreign Relations whose roster has included most of the neoconservatives populating the Bush Administration, including Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Robert Zoellich, George Tenet and Paul Wolfowitz.
   
In 2002, President Bush signed legislation to create a new Cabinet Department of Homeland Security, and appointed a former federal appeals court judge, Michael V. Chertoff as Secretary of Homeland Security.
   
The inclusion of both ICE and FEMA under DHS has tended to militarize these two agencies whose previous interaction with the public had been exemplary and non-confrontational. FEMA was absorbed into DHS as of 2003 and as a result, became part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of Department of Homeland Security, employing more than 2,600 full time employees.
  
 FEMA, which stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Originally conceived in the Richard Nixon Administration, was refined by President Jimmy Carter and given teeth in the Ronald Reagan and George Bush Administrations.
   
FEMA had one original concept when it was created, to assure the survivability of the United States government in the event of a nuclear attack on this nation. It was also provided with the task of being a federal coordinating body during times of domestic disasters, such as earthquakes, floods. FEMA's performance, managed under HSA, during and after the New Orleans disaster has come under condemnation. Not only was the chain-of-command under HDA an example of costly malfunction, but also in the aftermath of the hurricane, the handling of housing, food supplies, transportation of the homeless and even emergency medical care, was widely criticized.
   
Opening fire on supposed looters, military trucks roaming the New Orleans streets full of Blackwater employees, armed to the teeth and wearing camouflaged uniforms has never been explained, and as reported on KPFA on 20 December (FLASHPOINT), after the New Orleans City Council voted 7/0 to destroy some 40 units of public housing, FEMA officials began forcibly removing these mostly blacks both from their public housing and from thousands of FEMA-supplied trailers, eventually leaving well over 20,000 homeless and impoverished (mostly blacks) to survive on the streets during the chill of the Christmas holidays.
   
The recent subordination of our long-established and efficient Immigration Service, (now ICE) under Michael Cheroff, is also encouraging the same inhumane militarization employed when he took over FEMA in the New Orleans disaster.
   
On November 10th. 2003 Homeland Security had Launched Operation Ice Storm (PHOENIX, AZ). Top law enforcement and government officials joined with the Department of Homeland Security to announce Operation ICE Storm, an unprecedented multi-agency initiative led by the Department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to combat human smuggling. This taskforce  is made up of federal, state, and local agencies. This militarization of ICE, which organization had for years functioned without violence, played out in a New England town when, at 8:30 AM on March 6th, 2007, some 300 ICE agents raided a clothing factory on the New Bedford waterfront, charging that the owner encouraged illegal immigrants to work. At least 300 workers who could not immediately prove they were in the country legally were detained.
   
These textile workers, mostly women from El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala and other Central American countries were all victims of our CIA- sponsored political and economic upheavals in their own countries. These workers' children in school during the raid, on returning home experienced the terror of forced separation from their parents, some of whom had already been flown away to prisons as far as Texas and Florida. (Many of the children, born in the US were US citizens.)
   
With a record now of over of over 140 such ICE raids, many kids of Mexican blood, rendered parentless, have been flown to orphanages set up in Mexico. KPFA (Flashpoint) recently reported one Mexican orphanage in the State of Sonora presently houses some 6,000 ICE-orphaned children, many US citizens.
   
Whether it's yanking poor blacks out of public housing in New Orleans, or shooting Mexican immigrants in the mesquite along our southern borders, this militarism of FEMA and ICE is a threat to us all, and a blot on our humanity, another of the challenges facing Obama.




 














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