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POT LOBBYISTS END SEASON 13-3 AGAINST JUSTICE DEPT, CUSTOMS, OTHERS

POT LOBBYISTS END SEASON 13-3 AGAINST JUSTICE DEPT, CUSTOMS, OTHERS

AMY ARGETSINGER AND ROXANNE ROBERTS, WASHINGTON POST –  The new team in

first place in the Congressional Softball League? None other than

Washington’s marijuana lobbyists. . . . The One Hitters — a team

sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the National

Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and related advocacy

groups — had by last week amassed a 13-3 record and vaulted to the top

of the league, which includes teams from the RNC, DNC, Justice, Customs

and Border Protection Service and the Pharmaceutical Research and

Manufacturers of America. “This effectively shatters the notion that

drug policy reformers are just a bunch of lazy ‘stoners,’ ” SSDP’s Tom

Angell wrote to us. . .

Two years ago, the team fielded by the White House’s Office of National

Drug Control Policy refused to play the One Hitters — first pleading

scheduling problems but later copping to ideological concerns. . .

And when they celebrate after the game? “The only substances you’ll find

on our team is beer,” Krane said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/08/05/AR2007080500149.html

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Tim Weiner’s “history” of the CIA

I just finished listening on C-SPAN to Tim Weiner being interviewed by David Ignatius re his new book on the CIA. Weiner is remarkably misleading about the CIA’s record, especially in relation to the Kennedys. This is not surprising, however, since Weiner has been a favored reporter of the CIA’s for years now.

Weiner’s point he most wants to convey is that — far from being the “rogue elephant” that Frank Church called it — the CIA has always been ultraresponsive to Presidents. But that is provable untrue.

I’m shocked he would open with a quote from Richard Helms, and then return to him on the subject of Kennedy’s assassination, given Helms’ willingness to lie under oath (he was charged with perjury for denying the CIA’s role in the Chilean operations).

Let’s look at how “responsive” the CIA has been to the president over the years:

Truman wanted an information agency. The CIA essentially blackmailed itself into existence (see CIA officer Miles Copeland’s veiled account of this in his book “The Real CIA.”) So right off the bat, the CIA was doing something Truman didn’t want. After Kennedy’s assassination, Truman wrote a letter that was published in the Washington Post, in which he stated:

I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue-and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.

With all the nonsense put out by Communist propaganda … the last thing we needed was for the CIA to be seized upon as something akin to a subverting influence in the affairs of other people. …

But there are now some searching questions that need to be answered. I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President, and that whatever else it can properly perform in that special field-and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.

We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.

The CIA was clearly not created to serve only the President. It was created to serve the interests of Wall Street, and if you follow their pattern of covert action around the globe, you’ll see who benefitted. The Guatemalan coup in 1954 benefitted the United Fruit Company. The Iranian coup in the early fifties benefitted the oil barons (access to oil was listed as the first explicit goal of the coup in the summary of that operation.) The CIA was created from the OSS, itself a creation not of the government so much as of Wall Street. The top officers all came from children of lawyers, bankers, and other money men. The OSS’s nickname was “Oh So Social” due to its high profile roster.

The CIA has often run an agenda counter to what the president wished. This is easy to document in the Kennedy administration – they were at odds at nearly every turn. But it wasn’t only the Kennedy adminstration that had difficulty with the CIA.

Under the Eisenhower administration, for example, Eisenhower was set to meet with Khrushchev to discuss a mutual reduction in arms. The CIA didn’t want to see any such accommodation. So in express defiance of Eisenhower’s request that no such flights be made, the CIA flew the U2 over the Soviet Union. As the “official” story goes, the Soviets shot it down. As people close to those events have said in print and elsewhere, there’s good evidence that the flight was deliberately sabotaged by the CIA so that it would crash over the Soviet Union, preventing a peace treaty. Even CIA director Allen Dulles stated the plane was not shot down. As Dulles testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 31, 1960:

“We believe that it was not shot down at its operating altitude of around 70,000 feet by the Russians. We believe that it was initially forced down to a much lower altitude by some as yet undetermined mechanical malfunction.” ? “It is obvious to us that the plane was not hit. If the plane had been hit by a ground-to-air missile, in our belief, it would have disintegrated.”

While Eisenhower later claimed responsibility for the overflight, the evidence is strong that he was surprised, and upset, that the CIA would risk upsetting the all-important peace conference. I believe that incident is part of the reason Eisenhower gave us that famous warning as he prepared to leave office:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

(Looks like we failed that call.)

I’m especially upset to hear Weiner repeat the old canard that RFK ordered the killing of Castro. RFK did NOT order the CIA to kill Castro. EVER. There is NO such tape. NO such testimony. The closest you get are comments made NOT under oath by Richard Helms, which he refused to confirm when finally skewered on this point UNDER oath. Helms had his deputy, Sam Halpern, run around and tell people this was so, even though Helms knew this to be false. It’s not clear if Halpern knew this to be false, it’s only clear (now, with released records and additional comments from all the intimates of RFK still alive) that RFK would never have approved any murder plot. As RFK said to Dick Goodwin, he’s the guy who tried to SAVE Castro.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the CIA’s Bill Harvey sent 10 commando teams into Cuba with the goal of killing Castro. When RFK found out, he was as furious as anyone had ever seen him. He demanded Harvey stop and Harvey said he couldn’t call the teams back. RFK gave Harvey “five minutes” to explain what the hell he was thinking, doing this. Harvey tried to blame it on the Pentagon but RFK had already received believable assurances from the Pentagon that that was baloney. Five minutes later, with Harvey still talking, RFK walked. RFK then demanded the CIA fire Harvey. The ever compliant (not) CIA instead transferred Harvey to Rome to hide him from RFK, but Harvey returned stateside in 1963.

In fact, the accusation of RFK’s role in the Castro plots never even surfaced until the right wing and the CIA were both suffering severe scrutiny in the wake of the Watergate episode. The right wingers in the CIA wanted to use the occasion to smear Democrats as well, in the hopes of deterring a deeper investigation and possibly with the additional goal of deterring people from caring about who killed JFK and why.

Meanwhile, however, a document written by the CIA’s own Inspector General, not released until LONG after the Church and Pike committee investigations had already disappeared into history, asked and answered this question explicitly, asking, can the CIA claim it had executive authority for these plots, and answering its own question, “Not in this case”:

Can CIA state or imply that it was merely an instrument of policy?

Not in this case. While it is true that Phase Two was carried out in an atmosphere of intense Kennedy administration1 pressure to do something about Castro,2 such is not true of the earlier phase. Phase One was initiated in August 1960 under the Eisenhower adminstration. Phase Two is associated in [Bill] Harvey’s mind with the Executive Action Capability [assassination capability], which reportedly was developed in response to White House urgings. Again, Phase One had been started and abandoned months before the Executive Action Capability appeared on the scene.

When Robert Kennedy was briefed on Phase One in May 1962, he strongly admonished Houston and Edwards to check with the Attorney General in advance of any future intended use of U.S. criminal elements. This was not done with respect to Phase Two, which was already well under way at the time Kennedy was briefed.3 [Emphasis added.]

I added three notes to clarify:

1. The “Kennedy administration” does not mean the Kennedy’s. See Gerald Colby and Charlotte Dennett’s excellent book “Thy Will Be Done” and their chapter on the “Rockefeller Administration.” The Kennedys knew political operatives, but ended up relying on so many men from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that his administration could more appriately called “the Rockefeller administration.” Indeed, David Talbot shows in his recent book “Brothers” just how isolated the Kennedys became during their term, at war with nearly everyone at a high level in their administration. The Kennedys did not want a Pax Americana. The Rockefeller people did. There were several in Kennedy’s administration who wanted Castro dead. But JFK and RFK were not among them.

2. There was indeed intense pressure to “do something” about Castro. But Kennedy intimates have made clear, as does the available record from credible sources, that the Kennedys wanted to foment a domestic revolution inside Cuba. They did not want to kill Castro. And every time the CIA pressured them to do exactly that (at the Bay of Pigs, and again during the Cuban missile crisis), the Kennedy’s resisted that pressure.

3. The CIA states that they briefed Kennedy on the Phase One plots, but not the Phase Two plots. The wording is obtuse, but that is what they just said, right there in their own report. And they did not tell RFK they were using Mob people in the Phase Two plots either, despite RFK’s explicit request to be informed if the very people he had spent years trying to prosecute were suddenly going to get federal protection. Other sources make clear that Kennedy was reportedly livid at the discovery not just at the use of the Mob, but at the revelation that the CIA was trying to kill Castro.

Weiner makes a big deal of a CIA’s agents secret meeting with Rolando Cubela (not named by Weiner but it’s obviously him) and noted that the agent, Des Fitzgerald went to Cubela and SAID he was an emissary of Robert Kennedy.

What Weiner doesn’t tell you is that Helms had TOLD Fitzgerald to say that, even though Helms ALSO told Fitzgerald that RFK did not know. Helms told Fitzgerald not to talk to RFK about this, but to simply invoke his name with Cubela. That’s on the record, a record Weiner does not mention, even though that shows up in nearly all accounts of this meeting so he could hardly be ignorant of that.

Here are two examples of the CIA’s not following Kennedy’s orders that are not in Talbot’s book. In either 1962 or 1963 (I’m too lazy to go dig the article from my files), the CIA undertook to taint a large shipment of sugar leaving Cuba for the Soviet Union. Kennedy found out and went right to the press with it. Can you imagine the CIA’s fury at having been exposed by their own president? And can you imagine Kennedy’s fury, after the Bay of Pigs, to find the CIA was still willing to run its own operations without consulting him?

Another incident I learned about while browsing the Watergate hearings evidence, Volume 10. There’s a transcript of a secret conversation between Lucien Conein, longtime CIA agent who helped start the DIA (Kennedy’s replacement agency for the CIA, sadly staffed by the very people he would have wanted to stop if he knew who they were.) Hunt and Conein are discussing how Lodge, in Vietnam, was pushing for Diem’s assassination, and Robert Kennedy kept trying to stop the plot. They were laughing about how ineffective RFK was and how Lodge managed to get around him and give the plot a green light. I’d bet good money Weiner never read that interesting conversation, and doubt he’d have put it in his book even if he had.

[CORRECTION: The conversation is in vol. 9, not 10, and Conein was in the DEA, which was created by Nixon, not the DIA, which was created by Kennedy. And they are not recorded as laughing, but there’s a certain levity to the conversation, as I read it.]

I can’t believe Weiner’s near worship of Helms. People love to paint Helms as a solid bureaucrat, one of the “prudent professionals” as Stewart Alsop so lovingly called Helms, Angleton, and other right-wing nuts in the CIA. But this is the guy who, as a spy working under cover of UPI at the time, stole into Hitler’s personal quarters and took some of his stationary. He even wrote his son a letter on Hitler’s letterhead in later years, so enamored was he of his prize.

I’ve read every major history of the CIA to date. So far, it sounds like Weiner is just digging in the same trench. I have no intention of adding yet another book saying the same things to my collection. I have enough disinformation on my shelves already.

How I long to see a serious author do an honest history of the CIA. But then, it’s likely no major house would publish it. The Church and Pike committees found that the CIA controlled people at major publishing houses. Their inside people alerted them to books that might be harmful to the CIA, and got such books killed. James Angleton’s secretary used to be married to one of the big editors at Random House, Bob Loomis.

When the Bill Turner/Jonn Christian book on the RFK case snuck through, Random House, threatened with a lawsuit by a guy who may well have been connected to the CIA, recalled and burned the book. That’s our world.

That’s why I have to keep writing. SOMEONE who knows the truth has to stand up and tell it, since the shills get nearly all the airtime. I don’t know if Weiner is a shill or just someone who has fallen in love with his subject. I just know, from hearing him, that his representation is not an honest account of the full record of the CIA’s history. The REAL history of the CIA is far more interesting, and indeed, far more heartbreaking.

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California DE-Certifies Electronic Voting Machines!!

Wow! She did it. Calif. Secretary of State Debra Bowen did exactly what a bunch of dedicated activists elected her to do. Summary below but details at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vsr.htm:

She reviewed all the voting systems used in the state that were submitted for review.

She decertified all systems from the one vendor who refused to turn over their code for examination – ES&S, owners of Los Angeles County’s popular, but of unknown veracity, InkaVote system.

She decertified Diebold, Hart Intercivic, and Sequoia DRES (including at least some optical scan systems).

Only ONE Diebold AccuVote-TSx system is allowed per precinct, to aid the disabled.

“User jurisdictions are required to conduct a 100% manual count audit of the electronic results tabulated on each DRE machine in use on Election Day.” (That’s from the conditional recertification requirements for Diebold.)

Look for hundreds of news stories on this tomorrow. This is the biggest news re our vote in the nation right now. Huge. And Debra Bowen deserves THUNDEROUS applause and support for taking such a brave action on behalf of the people, against all the moneyed private interests that are desperate to control our elections.

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JUDGE PUTS TEMPORARY BAN ON NAVY SONAR USE

BBC – The US Navy has been ordered not to use mid-frequency

sonar

equipment during training exercises off the coast of

California until

the end of 2009.

A federal judge ruled in favor of campaigners who argued

that the

devices harmed marine mammals in the area. They said noise

pollution

from sonar disorientated whales, causing them to become

stranded on

beaches. A navy spokesman said they would appeal because

the injunction

jeopardized the nation’s safety and security. The legal

action was

brought by a coalition of animal welfare groups, led by the

Natural

Resources Defense Council. . . US District Judge

Florence-Marie Cooper

issued the temporary sonar ban following the navy’s request

to dismiss a

lawsuit filed by the NRDC in March, which alleged the

widespread use of

high-intensity sonar during training exercises breached

environmental

legislation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6934715.stm

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UNION OFFICIAL AT SPP PROTEST FENDS OFF POLICE PROVOCATEURS

More creeps creating problems wherever they think they can suck alittle energy off of other people in the process… CANADIAN PRESS Protesters are accusing police of using undercover agents to provoke violent confrontations at the North American leaders’ summit in Montebello, Que. . . A video, posted on YouTube, shows three young men, their faces masked by bandannas, mingling Monday with protesters in front of a line of police in riot gear. At least one of the masked men is holding a rock in his hand. The three are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location. Coles also demands that they put down their rocks. Other protesters begin to chime in that the three are really police agents. Several try to snatch the bandanas from their faces. Rather than leave, the three actually start edging closer to the police line, where they appear to engage in discussions. They eventually push their way past an officer, whereupon other police shove them to the ground and handcuff them. Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot. Kevin Skerrett, a protester with the group Nowar-Paix, said the photos and video together present powerful evidence that the men were actually undercover police officers. . . The three do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/248608

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Sheriffs protest fed drug-war fund cuts

PORTLAND, Ore. – From Arizona to Oregon and east to Kentucky, county sheriffs are bracing for stiff cuts in a federal funding program that has helped them battle drug cartels. Congress in January cut funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant by two-thirds, from $520 million to $170 million for fiscal 2008. Local agencies say that’s a threat to the officers who do much of the law enforcement spadework. The Byrne program is not without controversy, having drawn allegations of abuse. But many enforcement organizations consider it essential to their local efforts. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson of Josephine County in southwest Oregon said pending cuts in Byrne money and in federal payments made to counties to offset the loss of timber revenues have essentially disbanded the Josephine Interagency Narcotics Team (JOINT). “We’ve just withdrawn from JOINT,” he said. “There’s no funding. And we know the (Mexican) cartels are at work.” The Bush administration has argued that the program should end because crime is down and the money is needed elsewhere. That assessment clashes with reports from many states of record hauls of drugs, especially methamphetamine and marijuana, and increased activity by drug gangs. “If we don’t get some funding back we’ll be in deep trouble when it comes to drug enforcement,” said Iowa drug enforcement chief Gary Kendall. He said 85 percent of the state’s new cases last year were by county interagency drug teams that get Byrne grant money, but the funding cuts will reduce those agencies’ employees from 59 to 20. Kendall said Iowa’s problem is methamphetamine, which now comes mostly from Mexico since Iowa tightened access to over-the-counter medications that contain ingredients used in home meth labs. Money from the Byrne program can be used for other programs as well, including anti-gang efforts, some prosecution costs and child and spousal abuse prevention. But critics say the program has been tainted by abuse and corruption, sometimes racially based, with many complaints coming from Texas. Best-known is a case in Tulia, Texas, where a 1999 Byrne-funded investigation led to the cocaine arrests of 46 people, most of them black, on evidence so flimsy that 38 were pardoned by Gov. Rick Perry in 2003. The undercover agent responsible for the arrests was convicted of perjury and the defendants got a $5 million settlement from the state. The Texas ACLU has identified more than a dozen other Byrne-funded operations it says were abusive and several other states have investigated similar complaints. Texas has imposed strict limits on Byrne-funded drug task forces. Some national drug enforcement leaders say it makes more sense to go after the higher-ups rather than fill local jails with lesser offenders. “But where the rubber meets the road, it’s the local sheriff and police departments” who do the groundwork, said John Cary Bittick, sheriff of Monroe County, Ga., and the congressional liaison for the National Sheriffs’ Association. In Oregon, local drug agents last year pulled up a record 262,000 marijuana plants, double the number for 2006, but their Byrne funding will drop from $3.4 million last year to $1.2 million this year. Most seizures of marijuana “grows” in Oregon are made in the state’s southwest corner, but counties there already are on the ropes from sharp cuts in federal payments made to offset revenue losses resulting from cutbacks in logging on national forests. The sheriff of one county in that region, Mike Winters of Jackson County, says Mexican cartel activity has spilled into his jurisdiction from Northern California. “The Mexican cartels are growing it and if they plant 100 gardens and get 50 taken off, they still make a lot of money,” he said after last year’s growing season. Kentucky, the second-largest marijuana producer after California, is in similar straits. “Local governments have already put up money and they can’t put up any more,” said Van Ingram, branch manager for compliance for the Kentucky Office of Drug Compliance. ___ On the Net: Sheriffs Association: http://www.sheriffs.org

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DIRTY SECRETS OF IRAQ WAR POURING OUT IN COURT RECORDS

CHICAGO TRIBUNE – The dirty secrets of Iraq war profiteering keep pouring out. Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war’s largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand. . . Federal prosecutors in Rock Island have indicted four former supervisors from KBR, the giant defense firm that holds the contract, along with a decorated Army officer and five executives from KBR subcontractors based in the U.S. or the Middle East. Those defendants, along with two other KBR employees who have pleaded guilty in Virginia, account for a third of the 36 people indicted to date on Iraq war-contract crimes, Justice Department records show. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Rock Island sentenced the Army official, Chief Warrant Officer Peleti “Pete” Peleti Jr., to 28 months in prison for taking bribes. One Middle Eastern subcontractor treated him to a trip to the 2006 Super Bowl, a defense investigator said. . . A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda: The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-kbr-war-profiteers-feb21,1,5231766.story?page=1

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TELECOMS AGREE TO RESUME ILLEGAL WIRETAPS

REUTERS – The Bush administration said on Saturday U.S. telecommunications companies have agreed to cooperate “for the time being” with spy agencies’ wiretaps, despite an ongoing battle between the White House and Congress over new terrorism surveillance legislation. . . On Friday U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said telecommunications firms have been reluctant to cooperate with new wiretaps since six-month temporary legislation expired last weekend. As a result, they told Congress, spy agencies have missed intelligence. Democrats accused the Bush administration of fear-mongering and blamed it for any gaps. President George W. Bush has said he would not compromise with the Democratic-led Congress on his demand that phone companies be shielded from lawsuits for taking part in his warrantless domestic spying program.

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN2229053420080224?rpc=92

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WITHOUT IMMUNITY, TELECOMS BACKING OFF ILLEGAL WIRETAPS FOR BUSH REGIME

NEWSWEEK – It’s been barely a week since the Democratic-controlled Congress allowed a temporary electronic spying law to lapse. But U.S. intelligence agencies are already encountering problems maintaining and expanding vital operations, the Bush administration claims. In a letter sent late on Friday to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey claimed that in the six days since the temporary law expired, some “partners” in intelligence operations have “reduced cooperation.” According to two government officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive material, the “partners” referred to in the letter are (unnamed) U.S. telecommunications companies, who-with administration backing-have been aggressively lobbying Congress for a controversial clause in new electronic spying legislation. The clause would effectively wipe out a series of private lawsuits seeking damages against the telecoms for their cooperation with what civil libertarians and administration critics claim was an illegal expansion of electronic spying against targets inside the U.S.-an expansion authorized by President Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. http://www.newsweek.com/id/114572

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Federal Decrim Bill for Pot announced

For the first time in nearly 25 years, NORML is spearheading a campaign in Congress to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. Congress created cannabis prohibition, and the courts say time and again to reformers: ‘Congress is the place to change marijuana laws.’

Bi-Partisan Support in Congress for Reform
To wage this long-overdue effort, NORML has teamed up with two of our closest Congressional allies: Democrat Congressman Barney Frank from Massachusetts and Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.  Over the past several months I have worked closely with these courageous Representatives to draft legislation that would strip the federal government of its authority to enforce marijuana possession laws.  This legislation is now pending before Congress as House Bill HR 5843, an ‘Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults.’

Yes indeed, for the first time in more than two decades, we have legislation in Congress that, if enacted, would end the federal prosecution of adult marijuana consumers!