Sunday, 28. March 2010
Today marks Boiling Frogs Post’s fifth month of operation, and the last day of our fundraising campaign. On behalf of our team members I want to thank all of you for your support, with a special thanks to 658 of you who donated to our cause. We may not have reached our benchmark for our desired objectives and planned expansion, but we have you and a good start, so we’ll continue as best as we can, and work toward those objectives.
I am thrilled to announce the addition of a new team member, Luke Ryland, a good friend and a partner whom I have known and worked with since 2006; please welcome Luke and here is his bio:
Luke Ryland is an independent political analyst and online journalist based in Australia. He has been an expert commentator on the Sibel Edmonds case and nuclear black market cases for various progressive radio shows and online publications. Mr. Ryland’s work focuses on the nuclear black market, the Turkish lobby in the US, the energy and geopolitical wars in Central Asia, and the corruption of US Congress. Mr. Ryland has an MBA and a Bachelors degree in Commerce from the University of Melbourne. Visit Luke Ryland’s website.
We recently published Luke Ryland’s expose on FBI documents confirming major criminal investigations of Turkish operatives and their US official friends in Chicago. And here is a link to a recent interview with Mr. Ryland conducted by Scott Horton of AntiWar.Org: Click here.
Starting this coming Wednesday I’ll be on the road for a few weeks, traveling for work and personal matters. I won’t be out of touch. We have three Boiling Frogs interviews, one of which will be posted every other week: Professor Francis Boyle, Naomi Wolf, and Peter Phillips. Meanwhile, Peter B Collins and I will find ways to overcome significant time zone differences and connection difficulties, and continue to conduct additional interviews. We will also have articles and analyses by our contributors, and of course Paul Jamiol’s great editorial cartoons.
Here is my list of noteworthy articles and links from this past week:
Let’s start with our President, since we’ve been keeping tabs on his changes on his promised changes. The following piece is also related to the Obama White House’s 180 degree turn on protection for national security whistleblowers, which we’ve been covering for over a week.
A little secret about Obama’s transparency
Andrew Malcolm, LA Times
The current administration, challenged by the president to be the most open, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than Bush did.
The Democratic administration of Barack Obama, who denounced his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the most secretive in history, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than the Republican did.
Transparency and openness were so important to the new president that on his first full day in office, he dispatched a much-publicized memo saying: “All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”
One of the exemptions allowed to deny Freedom of Information requests has been used by the Obama administration 70,779 times in its first year; the same exemption was used 47,395 times in Bush’s final budget year.
An Associated Press examination of 17 major agencies’ handling of FOIA requests found denials 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50% from the 2008 fiscal year under Bush.
We’ve been keeping tabs, and our list of ‘Bush-Like’ and ‘Worse-Than-Bush’ points has been expanding continuously. Mr. Obama’s love and usage of State Secrets Privilege, his position against government whistleblowers, his support for illegal domestic wiretapping, his passion for wars and drones, his kind-heartedness towards torturers & other criminals…During his first few months in office, a few of his previously duped supporters were too generous and maybe a bit too naïve to label him ‘Bush-Lite.’ How about now? Is it time to call the President ‘Bush-Dark’? You be the judge; what say you?
Karzai talks peace with militant group linked to Taliban
Deb Riechmann, AP
President Hamid Karzai held an unprecedented meeting yesterday with representatives of a major Taliban-linked militant group, boosting his outreach to insurgency leaders to end the eight-year war.
Less certain is whether the talks with the weakened Hizb-i-Islami faction represent a game-changer in the conflict, given its demand to rewrite the Afghan constitution and force a quick exit of foreign forces.
It is the first time that high-ranking representatives of the group, led by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, have traveled to Kabul to discuss peace. The reconciliation offer from Hekmatyar contrasts with his reputation as a ruthless extremist.
Hekmatyar, who is in his 60s, was a major recipient of US military aid during the war against the Soviets in the 1980s but fell out of favor with Washington because of his role in the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal. The US government declared Hekmatyar a “global terrorist’’ in February 2003, saying he participated in and supported terror acts committed by Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Unless that tag is removed, the designation could complicate any move by the United States to sign off on a deal, even though in recent years Hekmatyar has expressed a willingness to negotiate with the Karzai government. A spokesman for Hekmatyar said the delegation had lunch with Karzai at the presidential palace and planned to meet with him again.
Last January our team member duo, Liz Gould and Paul Fitzgerald, wrote an excellent piece on this opium dealing terrorist, who happened to get his grooming from our very own CIA. If you haven’t read the Gould-Fitzgerald piece titled ‘Apocalypse of the American Mind’, click here. Was he ever off the CIA list of ‘operators’? I for one would certainly doubt it.
NATO rejects Russia’s demand to destroy Afghan poppy fields
Brussels – NATO and Russia clashed on Wednesday over how to tackle the drug problem in Afghanistan, where Western nations have been fighting a Taliban-led insurgency for eight years.
The country is the world’s largest producer of poppy seeds, a key ingredient in the manufacture of heroin. Russia is keen to pursue an aggressive eradication strategy, while Western allies fear that such an approach risks antagonizing the local population, who rely on selling poppy crops to survive.
The different points of view came to a head at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council attended by the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Agency (FSKN), Victor Ivanov and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
‘Afghan opiates led to the death of 1 million people by overdose in the last 10 years, and that is United Nations data. Is that not a threat to world peace and security?’ Ivanov asked journalists after the meeting.
Russians know very well what this is about. After all, they used to be a major player in ‘this’ particular field, and now a bit grumpy because…their share of this pie has been significantly reduced? Certainly it’s not about a million+ deaths caused by ‘overdose;’ of that much I can assure you. So maybe our guys will let their guys have a bit more; like this maybe:
However, he stressed that there was ‘a very positive mood’ in the talks with Ivanov and said that the two sides agreed to boost an already existing programme that involves joint training of Afghan counter-narcotics police.
Please bring in your two cents (and more).
In the last few days there have been numerous articles portraying the White House as tough on Israel, and depicting Israel-US relations as severely strained. Coincidentally, two months ago similar articles were written in Turkey on endangered ties – Turkey-Israel. In Turkey this usually happens when elected officials see the need, that is, fulfilling public expectations, albeit cosmetically, to appear ‘a bit’ tough on Israel. While they do that, the business of kissing up to Israel continues behind the scenes; as always.
Here is how badly strained is the relationship between the White House and the Israeli bosses:
Exclusive / Despite row, U.S. and Israel sign massive arms deal
Amos Harel, Haaretz
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel’s defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal.
According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million.
The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel’s defense industry.
The deal will be covered by American foreign assistance funds. The Pentagon will issue a formal announcement on the matter on Thursday evening.
That’s right; that’s how strained things are! And here is another exposé on strained Obama-Israel relations; NOT!
Former Obama Aide New Head of AIPAC
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Israel National News
Lee “Rosy” Rosenberg, a jazz recording industry veteran capitalist who accompanied U.S. President Barack Obama on his campaign trip to Israel two years ago, takes over on Sunday as the new president of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Rosenberg also served on the president’s national campaign finance committee.
The new AIPAC president hails from Chicago, the home state of President Obama, and also is on first-name terms with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior advisor.
My advice? Next time you read bologna articles on the Obama White House being tough on Israel, don’t believe it, go do your own bit of research, and determine for yourself who is the ‘servant’ and who is the ‘boss’ in this (Israel Lobby-US President) relationship;-)
And finally, two well-researched and nicely-written reports by my favorite publication, Asia Times:
‘Strategic depth’ at heart of Taliban arrests
By Shibil Siddiqi, ATimes
Pakistan has recently arrested a number of top Taliban leaders, including the second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and many of the Quetta shura. It also killed in a drone attack Mohammad Haqqani, a leader of the powerful Haqqani network that Pakistan had been loath to target. Many commentators, including influential think-tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment, have struggled to explain Pakistan’s motivations behind the arrests and have hoped they embody a volte-face in its policies towards Afghanistan.
In actuality the arrests are far from representing a paradigm shift in Pakistani thinking. Pakistan’s approach to Afghanistan can be boiled down to two words: “strategic depth”, the holy grail of the nation ‘s strategic policy for more than two decades. Strategic depth remains the central pillar in Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan. However, the concept itself is being reinterpreted by Pakistan‘s security establishment as a consequence of the sliding balance of opportunities and threats, both foreign and domestic.
Read the rest here.
A Spy Unsettles US-India Ties
M K Bhadrakumar, ATimes
News that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had reached a plea bargain with David Coleman Headley, who played a key role in the planning of the terrorist strike in Mumbai in November 2008 in which 166 people were killed, has caused an uproar in India.
The deal enables the US government to hold back from formally producing any evidence against Headley in a court of law that might have included details of his links with US intelligence or oblige any cross-examination of Headley by the prosecution.
Nor can the families of the 166 victims be represented by a lawyer to question Headley during his trial commencing in Chicago. Headley’s links with the US intelligence will now remain classified information and the Pakistani nationals involved in the Mumbai attacks will get away scot-free. Furthermore, the FBI will not allow Headley’s extradition to India and will restrict access so that Indian agencies cannot interrogate him regarding his links with US and Pakistani intelligence.
In return for pleading guilty to the charges against him Headley will get lighter punishment than the death sentence that was probably most likely.
Headley’s arrest in Chicago last October initially seemed a breakthrough in throwing light on the operations and activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based terrorist organization, in India. But instead the Obama administration’s frantic efforts to cover up the details of the case have been taken to their logical conclusion.
Read the rest here. We’ll keep this story on our radar. There are tons buried and covered up here…