Today marks the end of week 1 of our online fundraising campaign. I am thankful to those of you who have kindly donated and helped with getting the word out. We have had contributions from 235 of you; thank you! We still have a long way to go to reach the first benchmark of 1000. As you can see I am counting the number of supporters rather than the dollar amount. For me, that is far more important, and that’s why no amount is considered too small; your willingness to support this site is what really counts. So please, let’s unite on this and take the countdown journey together. We need your help to get the word out and invite others to join this campaign. How hard is it to bring together 1000 or so members of the irate minority club? We can do it!
Peter and I are scheduled to interview three exciting guests: Activist and the founder of Cryptome.Org, John Young, author and activist Naomi Wolf, and the Director of Project Censored, Peter Phillips.
Here is the latest from Jamiol’s World:
And here are a few noteworthy articles and links:
German company accused of drug smuggling in Afghanistan
Nancy Isenson, APN/AFP
A German waste management firm employed by the NATO mission in Afghanistan has been accused of involvement in drug smuggling. Allegations against Ecolog and the Macedonian family behind it date back to the war in Kosovo.
Allegations have surfaced that a German-based company contracted by NATO's ISAF troops in Afghanistan may have been involved in smuggling drugs out of the country.
"There is a chance that drugs or other such things have been smuggled," NATO General Egon Ramms, chief at ISAF headquarters in the Netherlands told German public broadcaster NDR.
The German general confirmed that an investigation was underway into allegations that Dusseldorf-based Ecolog used contracts with NATO or ISAF for illegal activities. The firm had been working for NATO in Afghanistan since 2003, Ramms said.
Ecolog is employed by ISAF to handle laundry services at various locations in Kabul as well as garbage disposal at the military airport and ISAF headquarters in the Afghan capital. The company had been in charge of fuel deliveries to NATO troops in the past.
According to NDR, initial allegations against Ecolog and the Macedonian-Albanian family behind the company date back to the war in Kosovo. Then NATO-led KFOR troops had already suggested there may have been links between the Destani family and organized crime.
NATO is investigating NATO, again; right?! Anyone here remember Jan Willem Matser? Of course not. How could we be asked to remember something we never knew about? Thanks to our media here the name wouldn’t ring a bell with anyone except a few irate members here who read my piece last June.
Matser, a Dutch Lieutenant Colonel in Staff to NATO Secretary General George Robertson in charge of Eastern Europe, whose job gave him access to classified NATO material, was arrested on February 2003 in Wemmel, Belgium, and charged with trying to launder at least $200 million for an international drug cartel from his office at the alliance’s HQ in Brussels. Other criminals involved in Matser’s case were Mohammed Kadem, a Moroccan, and Pietro Fedino, a wealthy Sicilian with a previous conviction for cocaine smuggling.
Here is some background as reported by Times UK :
According to documents seen by The Sunday Times, the investigation began last September after customs police at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam received a tip-off about a FedEx parcel sent from Colombia to an address in the Netherlands. The parcel was found to contain a receipt for a £120m deposit at a bank in Bogotá and a fake document authorising the transfer of the same amount of money to Tender SA, a company registered in the Romanian town of Timisoara. The company is not suspected of any wrongdoing.
And here is some more background on the investigations from the same report by Times UK:
The information was passed to a police unit working for the Dutch finance ministry that specializes in combating organised crime. The package was fitted with a bug and resealed. It was allegedly received by Fedino, who is suspected by the Dutch police of being an Italian mafia boss. Five agents monitored him around the clock and listened to his telephone calls. It was this surveillance that led police to Matser. In a call taped on September 7, a man later identified as Matser said he was “going to be leaving NATO in half an hour”.
In a further conversation, on December 27, Matser allegedly said: “I’ll make false documents for the entire transaction . . . It’s no problem; my computer’s very patient and I can even recreate the official notary seals from old documents.” Matser also held several meetings with his alleged accomplices. One meeting with Kadem on Christmas Eve at the Airport hotel in Rotterdam was filmed by the surveillance team. Kadem was already the focus of four international drug investigations and had been sought by Interpol since 1996.”Investigators believe Matser helped to set up the scheme when NATO sent him to Romania last year to instruct central European intelligence chiefs on how to raise standards.”
Interestingly Dick Cheney’s Halliburton happened to be another contender for control of Romania’s Petrom. Here is the ‘Interesting’ Connection:
Matser and Tender are further connected by their failed attempt to gain control of PETROM National Society (SNP), a soon-to-be privatized Romanian oil-company, which produces 10% of the Romanian GDP. Tender, Matser and Halliburton formed a consortium in an effort to gain controlling stakes – 51% estimated to be worth approx. US$ 1 billion. A few days following the announcement of this trio’s interest, Matser was arrested. Subsequently, Romania’s Economy Ministry has made it known that the consortium had not met its criteria and was no longer being considered.”
NATO or its defendants never answered the following question that arose from the Matser Case, I guess they didn’t have to; after all, they are ‘NATO’:
The silence has been deafening which has greeted the revelation that NATO officials consort with some of the biggest gangsters in organised crime. Yet it is obvious what questions Matser’s convictions throws up. What did Matser’s bosses at NATO, including the Secretary-General, know about his criminal activities? How can a NATO official, with all the security controls which such a post implies, entertain friendship and business contacts with well-known gangsters and criminals? How can he amass such stupendous sums of money while holding down a full-time office job?
Despite serious charges supported by tons of evidence Matser was mysteriously acquitted :
A Dutch court on 27 January acquitted former NATO official Jan Willem Matser of charges he attempted to launder $200 million by channeling money from a Colombian bank account to Belgium via Romania, AP and AFP reported (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” 14 January 2004). The judge said prosecutors had failed to support the money-laundering charges. Matser was found guilty of forgery and fraud on two other accounts and was sentenced to 14 months in prison, but was ordered released because he has already served two-thirds of the sentence in pretrial detention. He was given three years’ probation.
No ‘real’ explanation has ever been provided for his acquittal. Matser was convicted of forgery but acquitted of other charges, including belonging to a criminal organization. Yep, that’s the kind of immunity you get if you are a NATO man directly or indirectly.
I don’t want to sound like an online gambling center operator, but who wants to bet against me on this:
The company in question, Ecolog, won’t be touched; NATO will make it swoooshhhhh disappear, and continue its ‘real’ business with our Langley guys in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).
Holbrooke seeks Central Asia help for Afghanistan
Peter Leonard, AP News
U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke visited Kazakhstan on Sunday to drum up regional assistance in stabilizing Afghanistan, the last stop on his tour of former Soviet states in Central Asia.
The recent surge in the U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan has been accompanied by a U.S. effort to enlist help from neighboring nations in rebuilding the war-ravaged country and to provide reassurances that the war won't spill over the border. We are talking to all the countries that have a concern in the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that is why we are here today," Holbrooke said in Kazakh capital of Astana.
So, what’s the purpose?
The roles of Central Asia and Russia in assisting NATO operations in Afghanistan has grown over the past year with the opening of an overland route to Afghanistan from Europe via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The route offers an alternative to the alliance's main logistics chain through Pakistan, which has come under repeated attack by militants.
Sure! And our panting over the resources and strategic positioning there, and our fierce cut-throat competition with Russia & China ain’t got nothing to do with it… Okay, maybe the icing on the cake?!
Rep. Ron Paul on Assassinations of Americans by Their Own Government
Pentagon Discloses Hundreds of Reports of Possibly Illegal Intelligence Activities
The Department of Defense has released more than 800 heavily-redacted pages of intelligence oversight reports, detailing activities that its Inspector General has “reason to believe are unlawful.” The reports are the latest in an ongoing document release by more than a half-dozen intelligence agencies in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by EFF in July 2009.
This new release, from various Defense components including the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comes in four parts, see here. Much of the reported improper activity consisted of intelligence gathering on so-called “U.S. Persons,” including citizens, permanent residents and U.S.-based organizations. Although Defense agencies are generally prohibited from collecting such information (except as part of foreign intelligence or counter-intelligence activity), it is apparent from the unredacted reports released to EFF that some DoD components have had chronic difficulty complying with that prohibition.
Read the rest here.
The Senate passed the extension Wednesday evening thus sending it to the House which also passed it last night. There was no debate in extending the Act and approval was declared by an overwhelming majority voice vote of 315 to 97. What a convenient way for Congressional members to hide their actions so as not to be affected by angry constituents come election time in November. A voice vote erases the possibility of accountability since there is no official record of how each member voted. It’s ironic to see how Congress is careful to protect its privacy while voting to freely invade the privacy of American citizens.
Under the Act, the government can access this information from American citizens without their knowledge and without probable cause. Furthermore, they can issue a “gag order” preventing the investigated citizen from knowing about the government‘s activity. In addition, a felony can be issued if the party requested to provide the information informs the person under investigation. This means that if your employer was asked to provide certain information about you to the government and they told you, they would be charged for doing so.
The extremes that this act allows the government to go to is incredible. Not only are they being allowed to go against fundamental American civil liberties, but they are also allowed to hide that from the investigated citizen. Basically, you will only know they are after you if they want you to know. According to last month’s Reuters report the FBI collected over 2,000 U.S. phone records “by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or by persuading phone companies to provide them.”
Aaaaannnndddd, here is the President of Change:
President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation's main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act. Provisions in the measure would have expired on Sunday without Obama's signature Saturday.