Archive for February, 2010


Recently, Yoo and Bybee escaped accountability for their failings and attempts to do irreparable damage to our Constitution and Checks and Balances.   The U.S. Justice Department is still broken beyond all recognition in my book.  Now some are questioning more missing emails, this time John Yoo’s.  Read the following excerpt and then use the link to go to Truthout.org and read the rest of the story.  GFS

National Archives, Watchdog Demand DOJ Probe Destruction of John Yoo’s Emails

Friday 26 February 2010

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

Excerpt: 

“The National Archives and a watchdog group sent letters to the Justice Department (DOJ) Thursday demanding an investigation into the destruction of John Yoo’s emails in the summer of 2002, when he and other government attorneys prepared and finalized legal memoranda for the CIA that redefined torture and authorized interrogators to brutalize war on terror detainees.

The Federal Records Act (FRA) requires the preservation of government documents. Records cannot be destroyed unless approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). According to the DOJ’s web site, emails fall under FRA if they pertain to government business.

Last week, the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) released a long-awaited report into the legal work former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) attorneys Yoo and Jay Bybee did for the Bush administration on torture. Yoo currently works as a law professor at UC Berkeley and Bybee received a lifetime appointment as a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legal opinions written by Yoo in August 2002 and signed by Bybee cleared the way for the Bush administration to subject detainees to the near drowning of waterboarding and other brutal treatment at the hands of CIA interrogators.

Waterboarding and some of the other interrogation techniques sanctioned by the Bush administration, such as slamming detainees against walls and depriving them of sleep, have long been considered acts of torture and have been treated and prosecuted as war crimes. However, Yoo – working closely with Bush administration officials – claimed that the techniques did not violate US criminal laws and international treaties forbidding torture.

Further, Yoo asserted that Bush’s presidential powers were virtually unlimited in wartime, even a conflict as vaguely defined as the war on terror.”

Link to rest of article on Truthout.org:  http://www.truthout.org/national-archives-watchdog-demand-doj-probe-destruction-john-yoos-emails57202

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Jim Hightower considers the problem of large mega corporations being given the same rights as living human beings by a politically prejudiced Supreme Court and the impact on our political system, rights and national security.  Read the following excerpt and then use the link to go to Truthout.org and read the rest of the story. 

GFS

Fighting the Subversion of Our People’s Sovereignty

Friday 26 February 2010

by: Jim Hightower, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Excerpt: 

“As you’ve probably heard, corporations are now “people” — humanoids that are equivalent to you and me. This miraculous metamorphosis happened on Jan. 21. Accompanied by a blinding bolt of lightning, and a terrifying jolt of thunder, five Dr. Frankensteins on the Supreme Court threw a judicial switch that endowed these pulseless paper entities with the human right to speak politically.

Never mind that inanimate corporate constructs have no tongue, brain, heart or soul — the five judicial fabricators breathed unprecedented legal life into corporations, decreeing that the vast wealth held in their corporate treasuries is their voice. With a cry of “Shazam!” the court ruled that, henceforth, every corporation — from Wal-Mart to Wall Street — is entitled to “speak” by spending unlimited sums from their treasuries to elect or defeat candidates for any and all public offices in our land, from city council to the presidency.

By a bare five-to-four majority, the justices created an artificial, uber-wealthy, political monster that will overpower everyone else’s voices. For example, just the 100 largest corporations have assets totaling more than $13 trillion. No combination of human people’s political organizations can amass even a tiny fraction of that spending power.

With their ruling, five unelected guys in black robes have subverted our people’s sovereignty with a semantical perversion that twists special-interest things into “people” and money into “speech.” In so doing, the Supreme Five have substituted their personal political views for the clearly-expressed wisdom of America’s founders, every Congress since Teddy Roosevelt’s time, 22 states, dozens of cities, the court’s own precedents and the People themselves.”

Link to original article at Truthout.org:   http://www.truthout.org/jim-hightower-fighting-subversion-our-peoples-sovereignty57194

Dear G. Florence,

As you may know, since last summer we were on the verge of reconciling House and Senate Whistleblower Protection Act legislation — the final challenge in a ten-year campaign to restore credible free speech rights within the federal government. 375 organizations have joined the campaign for best practice rights protecting all employees paid by the taxpayers, including those in national security positions.  

Late last year, just when it looked like the Senate bill was going to be passed, there were a number of delays and now two Senators have placed holds on the bill because they think it is too strong. Members of our Make It Safe Coalition (MISC) steering committee, the White House, and key House and Senate offices have been working tirelessly to get those holds lifted and get the Senate bill passed.

The Senate bill is flawed, but it is the strongest bill ever offered in the Senate and includes many of the improvements we have been fighting for over the past 3 years. But most importantly, this bill must be passed if we are to get a strong whistleblower law enacted this year. That’s why POGO and other groups like GAP, Public Citizen, UCS, AFGE, NTEU, and ACLU have been working for Senate passage of this bill alongside many MISC partners.  We know that after passage will come the hard work of strengthening the final legislation, which will reconcile the House and Senate whistleblower bills.

If you would like to help, our bottom line message is simple. Please contact your senators and tell them to insist that Senators Harry Reid (D – NV) and Mitch McConnell (R – KY) deliver a vote on the Whistleblower Protection Act, without further stalling or delay. Tell them that ten years is long enough to pass rights so that those who defend the public can defend themselves. Please head over to the MISC Action Center to send a message now.

Sincerely,

Danielle Brian

Executive Director

Lindsey M. Williams (202) 324-1903

lmw@whistleblowers.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Whistleblowers Center Refutes False Charges Made Against UBS Whistleblower

Washington, D.C. February 17, 2010.  Today, the National Whistleblowers Center released evidence regarding the case of UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, which demonstrates his heroic efforts to expose tax fraud.   Attached to the fact sheet prepared by the NWC are scanned original documents related to the illegal UBS tax scandal. 

Link to info on Bradley Birkenfeld:  http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_advancedtags&view=tag&id=83&Itemid=108

“The record shows the Department of Justice’s decision to prosecute Mr. Birkenfeld is a farce to say the very least,” said Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center and co-counsel for Mr. Birkenfeld.

The evidence includes the original internal e-mails Mr. Birkenfeld sent to his superiors raising concerns and his original internal whistleblower complaint.  Also included are letters from U.S. government agencies, which acknowledge Mr. Birkenfeld’s disclosures as essential to the case against UBS.   Link to evidence:  http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1036

In spite of his documented efforts to report the fraud, stand up to his employers and work with government investigations, Mr. Birkenfeld is currently in federal prison. He is the only banker associated with the illegal UBS program to receive a prison sentence.

“Mr. Birkenfeld’s sentence sends a chilling message to any international banker who may be considering coming forward and bringing similar information to the government,” said Lindsey M. Williams, Director of Advocacy and Development at the National Whistleblowers Center.

The National Whistleblowers Center is asking members of the public to consider the facts, and TAKE ACTION by supporting the clemency campaign currently underway on behalf of Mr. Birkenfeld.

Indeed, theoretically anyone can.  But will they?  Whistling tends to call the pack down upon you.  Not everyone is willing to do that.  Those that do, are setting themselves up for the long haul.  Someone recently told me that having a rock in your shoe for a short jaunt down the hallway is one thing but having a rock in your shoe for a 25 mile run is another. 
 
A friend in Alaska once told me that real Alaskans know better than to put on those “bear bells” marketed to tourists in the summer.  There is no surer and faster way to make yourself the end target of those carnivores than to wear those bells that were allegedly intended to notify the bear of your presence and encourage his or her bearness to move along out of your way. 
 
Thankfully, some of those among us are willing to do what is right even with the cost to themselves and their families.  We owe all of them our efforts to help and support them. 
 
The newest version of  the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) is an example of when all of us are needed to take action and apply pressure in whatever way we personally can.  If this is enacted, we will be going back to the dark ages, and no one will be safe, or should I say we will be even less safe than the danger we are all in presently.  (Please see earlier post from the National Whistleblower’s Center, today.)
 
GFS

From National Whistleblower’s Center:

Poison Pills in Senate Whistleblower Bill May Become Law Take Action!

Your senator can prevent this from happening!

Dear Action Alert Members,

For months, we’ve been telling you about the dangerous provisions included in the Senate version of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372). We have now learned that S. 372 is being “hotlined,” a process by which legislation can be passed through unanimous consent, without any debate or a roll-call vote.

A whistleblower protection enhancement bill should improve protections for whistleblowers, not destroy protections that have been in place for years. The impact of these provisions on national security whistleblowers will be devastating. Your intervention on this issue is crucial.

TAKE ACTION! Demand enhanced protection for federal employee whistleblowers!

Although many provisions of the bill enhance whistleblower protections, there are many “poison pills” that must be corrected, including these (see links to Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report accompanying S. 372):

S. 372 repeals the FBI whistleblower protection law! Originally passed in 1978, improved in 1989, and given strong teeth by President Clinton in 1997, the law has been instrumental in permitting FBI agents to expose abuses ranging from civil rights violations, agent misconduct, and threats to our nations security. (see p.46)

Agency heads of the Justice Department, Commerce Department and security agencies (Defense Department etc.), covering over half the federal workforce, are given the power to unilaterally fire a whistleblower with no administrative or judicial review. (see p.73)

National security whistleblowers are denied the right to have their retaliation cases reviewed by independent agencies, such as the Office of Special Counsel or the Inspector General and they are denied the right to court access. Instead, the very agency that fired the whistleblower is given exclusive power to conduct the “fact finding” investigation into whether that agency broke the law. (see p.70)

A new procedural roadblock impacting every federal employee was inserted into this 105-page bill. This provision gives all federal agencies the power to request the dismissal of a whistleblower case without giving the employee an opportunity to have a hearing and will prevent most employees from obtaining a jury trial. (see p.57)

TAKE ACTION! Demand that your Senator personally withhold consent of S.372 until these critical corrections are made.

“Hotlining” requires unanimous consent, which gives you a unique opportunity to ensure this bill does not pass as is.  Every Senator, regardless of committee assignment, has the opportunity to weigh in on this legislation.

It only takes one Senator’s demand that these issues be fixed in order to stop this Trojan horse from destroying existing whistleblower protections. That Senator can be yours. Please TAKE ACTION and contact your Senator today! 

Sincerely,

Jane Turner

Former FBI Special Agent, 25-Year Veteran

Director of FBI Oversight, National Whistleblowers Center

Sibel Edmonds

Former FBI translator

Founder National Security Whistleblowers Coalition

 

18 Feb 2010

A recent US government report criticizing large American defense contractors of avoiding taxes by moving operations offshore could have interesting implications for the relationship between the industry and the state, Jody Ray Bennett writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Jody Ray Bennett for ISN Security Watch


Nearly one year after the G20 announced a commitment to crackdown on the use of international tax havens, giant US defense contractors continue to enjoy lightly regulated offshore financial centers to avoid taxation and escape paying millions in employee benefits.

In a report released in late January by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent watchdog organization that investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, research found several large defense contractors with registered offshore subsidiaries and other holdings.

The findings of the report are rather interesting: “Many of the top 29 U.S. publicly traded defense contractors – those with $1 billion or more in DOD contracts in fiscal year 2008 – have created offshore subsidiaries to facilitate global operations,” and since 2003, have “increased their use of these subsidiaries by 26 percent, maintaining at least 1,194 in 2008.”

The report analyzed the following 13 companies: Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company, General Dynamics Corporation, L-3 Communications, KBR Inc, ITT Corporation, General Electric, Computer Sciences Corporation, Health Net Inc, Harris Corporation, Honeywell International Inc, DynCorp International Inc, Rockwell Collins Inc, Fluor Corporation, Combat Support Associates and AECOM Technology Corporation.

 To read rest of this story, follow the link below.

Link:  http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?lng=en&id=112888

Here is a short video regarding the disposition of the FDIC Bailouts of certain banking entities, and who is profiting from the personal disasters of homeowners.  Enjoy.  -GFS

http://www.thinkbigworksmall.com/mypage/player/tbws/23088/830654

Someone sent me this link to a story about a high percentage of the funding of wind farms going to buying Chinese or other foreign made equipment.  This money is part of our taxpayer provided Federal Stimulus Dollars.  This seems very short sighted considering the state of our economy and the poor balance of trade with China.  In case anyone wants to interview or contact an American Company that does quality work, there is one posted below. 

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=3e1_1265765987

There is a good company run by highly technical people in Washington State that makes this equipment. There is no reason to buy it overseas. The company is Janicki Industries, in Sedro Woolley, 1-(888)856-5143.  I believe I read a story last year that they were supplying the replacement parts for turbines, which were damaged somewhere, that were originally made overseas.  As I recall, the foreign made turbines had not held up well, necessitating serious repairs.