excerpts from the book

Censored 2004

by Peter Phillips and Project Censored

Seven Stories Press, 2003, paper


The Neoconservative Plan for Global Dominance

Over the last year, corporate media have made much of Saddam Hussein and his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Rarely did the press address the possibility that larger strategies might also have driven the decision to invade Iraq. Broad political strategies regarding foreign policy do indeed exist and are part of the public record. The following is a summary of the current strategies that have formed over the last 30 years, strategies that eclipse the pursuit of oil and that preceded Hussein's rise to power:

In the 1970s, the United States and the Middle East were embroiled in a tug of war over oil. At the time, American military presence in the Gulf was fairly insignificant and the prospect of seizing control of Arab oil fields by force was pretty unattainable. Still, the idea of this level of dominance was very attractive to a group of hard-line, promilitary Washington insiders that included both Democrats and Republicans. Eventually labeled "neoconservatives," this circle of influential strategists played important roles in the respective Defense Departments of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr. at conservative think tanks throughout the 1980s and 1990s and today occupies several key posts in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department. The principals among them are:

* Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, our current vice president and defense secretary, respectively, who have been closely aligned since they served with the Ford Administration in the 1970s;

* Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the key architect of the postwar reconstruction of Iraq;

* Richard Perle, former chairman and current member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, which has great influence over foreign military policies;

* William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and founder of Project for a New American Century, the powerful, neoconservative think tank.

In the 1970s, however, neither high-level politicos nor the American people shared the priorities of this small group of military strategists. In 1979, the Shah of Iran fell and U.S. political sway in the region was greatly jeopardized. In 1980, the Carter Doctrine declared the Gulf "a zone of U.S. influence." It warned (especially the Soviets) that any attempt to gain control of the Persian Gulf region would be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the U.S. and repelled by any means necessary, including military force. This was followed by the creation of the Rapid Deployment Force-a military program specifically designed to rush several thousand U.S. troops to the Gulf on short notice.

Under President Reagan, the Rapid Deployment Force was transformed into the U.S. Central Command that oversaw the area from eastern Africa to Afghanistan. Bases and support facilities were established throughout the Gulf region, and alliances were expanded with such countries as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

Since the first Gulf War, the U.S. has built a network of military bases that now almost completely encircle the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.

In 1989, following the end of the Cold War and just prior to the Gulf War, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz produced the Defense Planning Guidance report advocating U.S. military dominance around the globe. The plan called for the United States to maintain and grow in military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge us on the world stage. Using words like "preemptive" and military "forward presence," the plan called for the U.S. to be dominant over friends and foes alike. It concluded with the assertion that the U.S. can best attain this position by making itself "absolutely powerful."

The 1989 plan was spawned after the fall of the Soviet Union. Without the traditional threat to national security, Cheney, Powell, and Wolfowitz knew that the military budget would dwindle without new enemies and threats. In an attempt to salvage defense funding, Cheney and company constructed a plan to fill the "threat blank." On August 2, 1990, President Bush called a press conference. He explained that the threat of global war had significantly receded, but in its wake, a new danger arose. This unforeseen threat to national security could come from any angle and from any power.

Iraq, by a remarkable coincidence, invaded Northern Kuwait later the same day.

Cheney et al. were out of political power for the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency. During this time, the neoconservatives founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The most influential product of the PNAC was a report entitled "Rebuilding America's Defense," <www.newamericancentury org>, which called for U.S. military dominance and control of global economic markets.

With the election of George W. Bush, the authors of the plan were returned to power: Cheney as vice president, Powell as secretary of state, and Wolfowitz in the number-two spot at the Pentagon. With the old Defense Planning Guidance as the skeleton, the three went back to the drawing board. When their new plan was complete, it included contributions from Wolfowitz's boss Donald Rumsfeld. The old "preemptive" attacks have now become "unwarned attacks." The Powell-Cheney doctrine of military "forward presence" has been replaced by "forward deterrence." The U.S. stands ready to invade any country deemed a possible threat to our economic interests.


Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty

As reported widely in the mainstream press, the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) represents the most extensive restructuring of the U.S. government since 1947-the year the Department of War was combined with the army, navy, marines, coast guard, and air force to create the Department of Defense (DOD). The new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) combines more than 100 separate entities of the executive branch, including the secret service, the coast guard, and the border patrol, among others. The DHS employs over 170,000 federal workers and commands a total annual budget of $37 billion. But what does this mean for the people of the United States? What sort of long-term effects will it have on the day-to-day lives of average Americans? These questions have received scant attention in the corporate media.

The concept of homeland security was thrown around the Pentagon long before the events of 9/11. Originally titled "Homeland Defense," it was placed within the Pentagon's "Operations Other Than War (OOTW)" command, under the stand-alone civil disturbance plan called the "Garden Plot." Over the years, homeland defense has been extended by a host of presidential decision directives and executive orders.

Now, following the events of 9/11, the initial concept has ballooned into a vast, powerful, and far-reaching department.

One DHS mandate largely ignored by the press requires the FBI, CIA, and state and local governments to share intelligence reports with the department upon command, without explanation. Civil rights activists claim that this endangers the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans by blurring the lines between foreign and domestic spying (as occurred during the COINTELPRO plan of the '60s and '70s). According to the ACLU, the Department of Homeland Security will be "100 percent secret and 0 percent accountable." Meanwhile, the gathering, retention, and use of information collected is a central focus of the Bush Administration's new agenda. Officially established to track down terrorists, information can be collected on any dissenter, American citizen or not, violent or not. The classification of recent peace marches and protests as "terrorist events" within DOD and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) documents is one example of the dangerous potential of these mandates.

As part of homeland security, the USA Patriot Act of 2001 allows the government increased and unprecedented access to the lives of American citizens and represents an unrestrained imposition on our civil liberties. Wiretaps, previously confined to one phone, can now follow a person from place to place at the behest of government agents and people can now be detained on the vague suspicion that they might be a terrorist-or assisting one. Detainees can also be denied the right to legal representation (or the right of private counsel when they are allowed to meet with their attorneys).

William Safire, a writer for The New York Times, defined the first Patriot Act as a presidential effort to seize dictatorial control. No member of Congress was given sufficient time to study the first Patriot Act that was passed by the house on October 27,2001. In some cases, while driving the act through Congress, Vice President Cheney would not allow the legislation to be read, publicly threatening members of Congress that they would be blamed for the next terrorist attack if they did not vote for the Patriot Act.

The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (Patriot Act II) is accused of posing even greater hazards to civil liberties. The draft proposal of Patriot Act II was leaked from John Ashcroft's staff in February of 2003 and was stamped "Confidential -Not for Distribution." Patriot Act II was widely editorialized against in the U.S. media but full disclosure of the contents, implications, and motivations were underdeveloped. In particular, there are three glaring areas that warranted greater coverage by the American media:

* The second Patriot Act proposes to place the entire federal government and many areas of state government under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Homeland Security, and the FEMA NORTHCOM military command.

* Under Section 501, a U.S. citizen engaging in lawful activity can be picked off the streets or from home and taken to a secret military tribunal with no access to or notification of a lawyer, the press, or family. This would be considered "justified" if the agent "inferred from conduct" suspicious intention. One proposed option is that any violation of federal or state law could designate a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant" and allow him or her to be stripped of citizenship.

* Section 102 states that any information gathering can be considered as the pursuit of covert intelligence for a foreign power-even legal intelligence gathering by a U.S. reporter. This provision could make newsgathering illegal, and therefore, an act of terrorism.

In addition, the Bush Administration is calling for a repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, a law passed after the Civil War to prohibit the deployment of federal military forces onto American streets to control civil action-otherwise known as martial law.

One fear among civil rights activists is that, now that the details of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act/Patriot Act II have been revealed, the proposals contained therein will be taken apart, renamed, and incorporated into other, broader pieces of legislation within the Department of Homeland Security.


U.S. Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq U.N. Report

Throughout the winter of 2002, the Bush Administration publicly accused Iraqi weapons declarations of being incomplete. Yet the truth of the situation is that it was the United States itself that had removed more than 8,000 pages of the 11,800-page original report.

This came as no surprise to Europeans however, as Iraq had made extra copies of the complete weapons declaration report and unofficially distributed them to journalists throughout Europe. The Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung broke the story on December 19, 2002, in an article by Andreas Zumach.

At the same time, the Iraq government sent out official copies of the report on November 3, 2002. One, classified as "secret," was sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and another copy went to the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. convinced Colombia, chair of the Security Council and current target of U.S. military occupation and recipient of financial aid, to look the other way while the report was removed, edited, and returned. Other members of the Security Council such as Britain, France, China, and Russia, were implicated in the missing pages as well (China and Russia were still arming Iraq) and had little desire to expose the United States' transgression. So all members accepted the new, abbreviated version.

But what was in the missing pages that the Bush Administration felt was so threatening that they had to be removed? What information were Europeans privy to that Americans were not?

According to Niman, "The missing pages implicated 24 U.S.-based corporations and the successive Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. Administrations in connection with the illegal supplying of Saddam Hussein's government with myriad weapons of mass destruction and the training to use them." Groups documented in the original report that were supporting Iraq's weapons programs prior to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait included:

* Eastman Kodak, DuPont, Honeywell, Rockwell, Sperry, Hewlett-Packard, and Bechtel;

* U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Agriculture (DOA), and Department of Defense (DOD);

* nuclear weapons labs such as Lawrence-Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia.

Beginning in 1983, the U.S. was involved in 80 shipments of biological and chemical components, including strains of botulism toxin, anthrax, gangrene bacteria, West Nile fever virus, and dengue fever virus. These shipments continued even after Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran in 1984. Later, in 1988 Iraq used the chemical weapons against the Kurds.

But perhaps most importantly, the missing pages contain information that could potentially make a case for war crimes against officials within the Reagan and the Bush Sr. Administrations. This includes the current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld-for his collaboration with Saddam Hussein leading up to the massacres of Iraqi Kurds and acting as liaison for U.S. military aid during the war between Iraq and Iran.


Treaty Busting by the United States

The United States is a signatory to nine multilateral treaties that it has either blatantly violated or gradually subverted. The Bush Administration is now rejecting outright a number of those treaties, and in doing so places global security in jeopardy as other nations feel entitled to do the same. The rejected treaties include: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a protocol to create a compliance regime for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM). The U.S. is also not complying with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Commission (CWC), the BWC, and the U.N. framework Convention on Climate Change.

The ABM Treaty alone is a crucial factor in national security; its demise will destroy the balance of power carefully crafted in its original blueprint. The Bush Administration has no legitimate excuse for nullifying the ABM Treaty because the events that have threatened the security of the United States have not involved ballistic missiles, and none of them are in any way related to the subject matter of the ABM Treaty. Bush's withdrawal violates the U.S. Constitution, international law, and Article XV of the ABM Treaty itself. The Bush Administration says it needs to get rid of the ABM Treaty so it can test the SPY radar on the Aegis cruisers against Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and so that it can build a new test facility at Fort Greely, Alaska. In addition, some conservatives have willingly dismissed the ABM Treaty because it stands as the major obstacle towards development of a "Star Wars" missile defense system.

The NPT is crucial to global security because it bars the spread of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is currently in noncompliance with the NPT requirements, as demonstrated in the January 2002 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. Moreover, critics charge that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) under construction at Livermore lab violates the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which the U.S. signed in 1996, but has not ratified. The CTBT bans nuclear explosions, and its language does not contain any "exceptions allowing laboratory thermonuclear explosions."

The twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history, with a total of 174 million people killed in genocide and war. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, it increasingly needs an international legal framework through which the people of the world can be protected from heinous criminal acts, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It is an understanding of this reality that may explain the votes of the 139 countries that signed the Rome Treaty and the 67 ratifications that have resulted in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, signed the Rome Treaty supporting the ICC when he held office. However, in an unprecedented action, George W. Bush actually erased Clinton's signature (a United States president has never before "unsigned" a treaty). And his administration has declared it has no intention whatsoever of cooperating with the ICC.

Furthermore, in what is being called the Hague Invasion Act, the GOP-controlled House Appropriations Committee voted to authorize the use of military force to "rescue" any American brought before the ICC. Erica Terpstra, a parliamentary representative in the Netherlands, where The Hague and ICC are located, states that this "is not only a gesture against the Netherlands...but against the entire international community."

While proponents of ICC consider it the most important development in international law since the Nazi war crimes Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II, the Bush Administration insists it would limit U.S. sovereignty and interfere with actions of the U.S. military.

This unprecedented rejection of and rapid retreat from global treaties that have in effect kept the peace through the decades will not only continue to isolate U.S. policy, but will also render these treaties and conventions invalid without the support and participation of the world's foremost superpower.


U.S./British Forces Continue Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Despite Massive Evidence of Negative Health Effects

British and American coalition forces are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq and deliberately flouting a U.N. resolution that classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction.

Nobel Peace Prize candidate Helen Caldicott states that the tiny radioactive particles created when a DU weapon hits a target are easily inhaled through gas masks. The particles, which lodge in the lung, can be transferred to the kidney and other vital organs. Gulf War veterans are excreting uranium in their urine and semen, leading to chromosomal damage. DU has a half-life of 4.1 billion years. The negative effects found in one generation of U.S. veterans could be the fate of all future generations of Iraqi people.

An August 2002 U.N. report states that the use of the DU weapons is in violation of numerous laws and U.N. conventions. Maj. Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's DU project says, "We must do what is right for the citizens of the world- ban DU." Reportedly, more than 9,600 veterans have died since serving in Iraq during the first Gulf War, a statistical anomaly. The Pentagon has blamed the extraordinary number of illnesses and deaths on a variety of factors, including stress, pesticides, vaccines, and oil-well fire smoke. However, according to top-level U.S. Army reports and military contractors, "short-term effects of high doses (of DU) can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer." Our own soldiers in the first Gulf War were often required to enter radioactive battlefields unprotected and were never warned of the dangers of DU. In effect, George Bush Sr. used weapons of mass destruction on his own soldiers. The internal cover-up of the dangers of DU has been intentional and widespread.

In addition to Doug Rokke, the Pentagon's original expert on DU, ex-army nurse Carol Picou has been outspoken about the negative effects of DU on herself and other veterans. She has compiled extensive documentation on the birth defects found among the Iraqi people and the children of our own Gulf War veterans. She was threatened in anonymous phone calls on the eve of her testimony to Congress. Subsequently, her car, which contained sensitive information on DU, was mysteriously destroyed.


In Afghanistan: Poverty, Women's Rights, and Civil Disruption Worse than Ever

While all eyes have been turned to Iraq, the people of Afghanistan have continued to suffer in silence in what is considered to be their worst poverty in decades. The promised democratic government is too concerned with assassination attempts to worry about the suffering of its people. They still have no new constitution, no new laws, and little food. Ethnic and political rivalries plague the country and the military power of the warlords has increased. While the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the 4,500-strong foreign peacekeeping unit, is assigned to defend only the capital, private armies of an estimated 700,000 people roam Afghanistan continuing a traditional system of fiefdoms.

The Nation covered the failure of the improvement of women's rights after the U.S. invasion. Despite the fanfare (stripping the burqa and the signing of the Declaration of Essential Rights of Afghan Women), little has changed for the average Afghani woman. Many women have yet to stop wearing the burqa due to fear of persecution and the new Interior Ministry still requires women to receive permission from their male relatives before they travel. According to former Women's Affairs Minister Dr. Sima Samar, the ministry is severely underfunded. As of April 2002, Dr. Samar had no access to the Internet and was unable to afford to operate her satellite phone. She was also receiving many death threats. Dr. Samar resigned later that year and is currently working as a human rights commissioner. Hafiza Rasouli, a UNICEF project officer, stated, "We felt safer under the Taliban." As for the future loya jirga, or grand council, that will help determine governmental policies, only 160 seats out of 1,450 have been guaranteed to women.

As of July 2002, the life expectancy for the people of Afghanistan is 46 years. The average yearly income per capita is $280. As for the children, 90 percent are not in school. After 23 years of war, the adult male population has been decimated, and many children have taken the place of their fathers and mothers as the breadwinners in their families. Some scavenge for scrap metal, wood, or bricks, while others hammer sheet metal, fill potholes, or build coffins. They are lucky to earn five cents an hour. More than one out of every four children in Afghanistan will die before the age of five. The growth of more than half these children is moderately or severely stunted from malnutrition. A UNICEF study has found that the majority of children are highly traumatized and expect to die before reaching adulthood. Beyond this, the region is just overcoming a three-year drought, which killed half the crops and 80 percent of livestock in some areas.

In January 2002, the Tokyo conference pledged $4.5 billion for reconstruction, of which donor nations promised $1.8 billion this year. Nearly one year later, barely 30 percent of what was promised had been delivered. The U.S. government's own contribution has been half that of the European Union. The $300 million granted in 2002 was quickly spent. The U.S. government has been hesitant to put funding into the ISAF or reconstruction-oriented groups and has been more focused on building an Afghan national army. However, the simultaneous funding of local warlords, now being referred to as "regional leaders," is undermining this work.


Africa Faces Threat of New Colonialism

Today, Africa is the most war-torn continent in the world. Over the past 15 years, 32 of the 53 African countries experienced violent conflict. During the Cold War years (1950-1989), the U.S. sent $1.5 billion in arms and training to Africa thus setting the stage for the current round of conflicts. From 1991 to 1995, the U.S. increased the amount of weapons and other military assistance to 50 of the total 53 African countries. Over the years, these U.S.-funded wars have been responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans and the subsequent displacement, disease, and starvation of many millions more.

In June 2002, leaders from the eight most powerful countries in the world (the G8) met to form a New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as an "antipoverty" campaign. One glaring omission, however, is the consultation and representation of the African nations. Not one of the eight leaders was from Africa. The danger of the NEPAD proposal is that it fails to protect Africa from exploitation of its resources. NEPAD is akin to Plan Columbia in its attempt to employ Western development techniques to provide economic opportunities for international investment. Welcomed by the G8 nations, this development plan reads like a mad dash to grab up as much of Africa's remaining resources as possible.

According to Robert Murphy of the U.S. State Department's Office of African Analysis, Africa is important to "the diversification of our sources of imported oil" away from the Middle E3;t. The U.S. currently gets 15 percent of its total oil imports from the African continent. By 2015, that figure will be 25 percent. Rather than a plan to reduce African poverty, NEPAD is a mechanism for ensuring that U.S. and other Western investments are protected.

All over Africa activists, trade unionists, and women's organizations are mobilizing against NEPAD. It is clear to them that the "solutions" put forward by NEPAD are in direct contradiction to what is really needed to deal with the problems faced by Africa today. The objective of NEPAD will be to provide "increased aid to developing countries that embrace the required development model." The harrowing effects of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank debt on the African continent will neither be addressed nor revoked by the new program. Under NEPAD, Africa's natural riches will continue to be bought and sold by the autonomous Western powers-that-be under the namesake of "development" and with the feigned support of the African people.

Meanwhile, the food shortage in Africa is now widespread. Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, general manager of the Environmental Protection Authority in Ethiopia, explains that drought is not the cause of famine in Africa. Storage and transport are the two big problems. The year before last in Ethiopia, when there was a surplus of food, farmers could not sell their produce (locally or on the foreign market) and thus, did not get the capital they needed for future crops. One hundred kilos of maize would sell for as little as $4 and Saudi Arabia wanted to buy this cheap maize. However, by the time the maize got to the port, its price tripled because transport costs are so high. It was marginally cheaper for Saudi Arabia to instead buy maize that came all the way from the U.S. The U.S. is underselling starving nations and the food shortages are actually exasperated by this practice.

Loans provided by the IMF, World Bank, and G8 have traditionally included strategies known as Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which came in to effect in Africa in 1980. SAPs require that governments reduce public spending (especially on health, education, and food/storage) in order to pay Western banks. They must also increase exports of raw materials to the West, encourage foreign investment, and privatize state enterprises. Instead of reducing the debt, since 1980, SAPs have increased African debt by 500 percent, creating a domino effect of disasters (prolonged famine, conflict, abject poverty, and environmental exploitation) linked to an estimated 21 million deaths and, in the process, transferring hundreds of billions of dollars to the West.


Bush Administration Behind Failed Military Coup in Venezuela

The April 11, 2002, military coup in Venezuela was supported by the United States government. As early as last June, American military attaches had been in touch with members of the Venezuelan military to examine the possibility of a coup. During the coup, U.S military were stationed at the Colombia-Venezuela border to provide support and to evacuate U.S. citizens if there were problems. According to intelligence analyst, Wayne Madsen, the CIA actively organized the coup. "The CIA provided Special Operations Group personnel, headed by a lieutenant colonel on loan from the U.S. Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to help organize the coup against Chavez," he said.

Since his 1998 election, President Hugo Chavez had increasingly socialized the Venezuelan government. One of his most controversial moves was to double the royalties charged to foreign oil companies by Venezuela's national oil company, PDUSA, abolishing a 60-year-old agreement with these companies. Venezuela is the fourth largest oil-producing nation, and the third largest oil provider to the U.S. As the leader of OPEC, Chavez has encouraged lowering oil production to raise prices.

Chavez has irritated the U.S. in many ways. In 1999, he altered the constitution, changing the law to provide unused land to the landless (who make up more than half of the population of 24 million) and angering powerful plantation owners. Chavez also refused to allow U.S. planes to fly over Venezuela during their military activities in Colombia. President Chavez was also the first head of state to visit Saddam Hussein in Iraq since the embargoes in 1990.

Because of the close relationship that many of Venezuela's wealthy have with the United States, the coup took place with little opposition from Venezuela's long-established business and political community. The Bush Administration was quick to endorse the change in government, which put Pedro Carmona, a wealthy businessman and former business associate of George Bush Sr., into office. Carmona's first move as president was to "dissolve the Constitution, national legislature, Supreme Court, attorney general's office, and comptroller's office."

In the United States, corporate press covered the coup from a sympathetic anti-Chavez perspective. On April 11, the alleged murder of 17 anti-Chavez protesters (itself a response to sniper fire that killed protestors at a pro-Chavez demonstration) was pointed to as justification for Chavez's removal. Yet the two following days, which resulted in the killing of as many as 40 pro-Chavez protesters, the deaths were hardly mentioned.

Television stations in Venezuela refused to cover the anti-coup protests, choosing instead to run their regular program schedule. Five out of the six major networks are owned by a single owner, who supported U.S. involvement in Venezuela. CIA Special Operations psychological warfare (PSYOPs) produced television announcements, purportedly by Venezuelan political and business leaders, saying Chavez "provoked the crisis by ordering his supporters to fire on peaceful protestors in Caracas."

Despite the distorted media coverage in Venezuela, a huge anti-coup civil protest involving hundreds of thousands of people began. Several branches of the Venezuelan military joined the anti-coup forces. The streets of Caracas were flooded with protestors and soldiers vehemently chanting anti-Carmona slogans. Within two days, Carmona stepped down and Chavez returned to power.


Corporate Personhood Challenged

Since the founding of our country, a debate has raged over the nature of corporations and whether they should be entitled to the same right to legal "personhood" as actual people. This idea of corporate personhood has recently come under scrutiny.

It was back in 1886 that a Supreme Court decision (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company) ostensibly led to corporate personhood and free speech rights, thereby guaranteeing protections under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. However, according to Thom Hartmann, the relatively mundane court case never actually granted these personhood rights to corporations. In fact, Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote, "We avoided meeting the Constitutional question in the decision." Yet when writing up the case summary-which has no legal status-the court reporter, a former railroad president named J.C. Bancroft Davis, declared: "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." But the court had made no such legal determination. It was the clerk's opinion and misrepresentation of the case in the headnote upon which current claims of corporate personhood and free speech entitlements now rests.

In 1978, however, the Supreme Court further entrenched the idea of corporate personhood by deciding that corporations were entitled to the free speech right to give money to political causes-linking free speech with financial clout. Interestingly, in a dissent to the decision, Chief Justice William Rehnquist pointed out the flawed 1886 precedent and criticized its interpretation over the years saying, "This court decided at an early date, with neither argument nor discussion, that a business corporation is a 'person' entitled to the protection of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

But more recently, in December 2002, Porter Township, Pennsylvania, unanimously passed an ordinance denying corporate claims to personhood. The township is the first and only local government in the United States to deny these civil and constitutional rights to corporations. Porter Township and neighboring Rush Township have laws that govern the local dumping of Pittsburgh-generated sludge by charging the dumping companies a "tipping fee." In 2000, Synagro Corporation, one of the largest dumping companies in the nation, sued Rush Township, claiming that as a corporate citizen, the township violated Synagro's Fourteenth Amendment rights. In response, Porter Township, passed its precedent-setting ordinance claiming that the dumping company, or any corporation within its jurisdiction, may not wield personhood and free speech privileges. A more high-profile challenge to corporate personhood involves a lawsuit against Nike and its claims on Third-World labor practices. In 1998, Nike CEO Phil Knight wrote a New York Times op-ed piece responding to criticisms of Nike's Asian labor practices. As was widely reported in the mainstream press in mid-April of 2003, San Francisco consumer advocate Marc Kasky filed a lawsuit against Nike, believing the company misled the public about its labor practices. Nike, however, claims that the First Amendment protects Nike's statements, making it irrelevant whether the statements are true or false. In May 2002, the California Supreme Court ruled against Nike, saying its statements were commercial speech and can therefore be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. This ruling, writes Justice Joyce L. Kennard, "means only that when a business enterprise, to promote and defend its sales and profits, makes factual representations about its own product or its own operations, it must speak truthfully." On April 26, 2003, the Ottawa Citizen provided some pro-Nike coverage of the current case against Nike saying, "The case began some years ago when antiglobalizers accused Nike of exploiting workers at its factories abroad. The Nike bashing was unrelenting, and the company fought back." Hartmann's article also notes The New York Times' editorial support for Nike saying, "In a real democracy, even the people you disagree with get to have their say." That's true, says Hartmann, but Nike is not a person-it's a corporation.

On June 26, the Supreme Court sidestepped the potential landmark decision by dismissing the Nike case, sending it back to San Francisco. The court agreed that the case presented "novel First Amendment issues" and that a California trial would help resolve the facts. The case should go to trial in San Francisco by fall 2004.


U.S. Military's War on the Earth

The world's largest polluter, the U.S. military, generates 750,000 tons of toxic waste material annually, more than the five largest chemical companies in the U.S. combined. This pollution occurs globally, as the U.S. maintains bases in dozens of countries. In the U.S., there are 27,000 toxic hot spots on 8,500 military properties. Washington's Fairchild Air Force Base is the number-one producer of hazardous waste, generating over 13 million pounds of waste in 1997. Not only is the military emitting toxic material directly into the air and water, it's poisoning the land of nearby communities, resulting in increased rates of cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, low birth weight, and miscarriage.

The military currently manages 25 million acres of land providing habitat for some 300 threatened or endangered species. Groups such as Defenders of Wildlife have sued the military for damage done to endangered animal populations by bomb tests. The testing of low-frequency sonar technology is accused of having played a role in the deaths of whales around the world.

Rather than working to remedy these problems, the Pentagon claims that the burden of regulations is undercutting troop readiness. The Pentagon already operates military bases in and outside of the U.S. as "federal reservations" which fall outside of normal regulation. Yet the Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking further exemptions in Congress from the Migratory Bird Treaties Act, the Wildlife Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.


Plan Puebla-Panama and the FTAA

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is a trade agreement intended to spread NAFTA's trade rules to an additional 31 Latin American nations by 2005. Working in conjunction with FTAA is Plan Puebla-Panama (PPP), a multi-billion-dollar development plan in progress that would turn southern Mexico and all of Central America into a colossal free-trade zone, competing in the worldwide race to drain wages, working conditions, environmental protection, and human rights.

PPP is the brainchild of Mexican president, and former Coca-Cola executive, Vicente Fox. Fox set priorities when he first took office, stating, "My government is by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs." Not surprisingly then, the PPP emerges not as a strategy to end the endemic poverty in this region, but rather to induce private investment/colonization as it turns over control of the area's vast natural resources-including water, oil, minerals, timber, and ecological biodiversity- to the private sector, mostly multinational corporations. Seven hundred and eighty companies of all sizes (including Harkin, Union Pacific-Southern, International Paper, Exxon, Mobil, Dow Chemical of Mexico, Union Carbide, and Monsanto) sent representatives to the PPP informational meeting in Yucatan during the summer of 2002.

The ideas for the PPP area consist of: the construction of new ports, airports, railroads, bridges, and 25 dams for hydroelectric generation; the upgrading of telecommunications facilities, including a fiber-optic network; the upgrading of electrical grids; highway construction; and the creation of wildlife reserves to help facilitate "bioprospecting" by various multinational seed, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is the main backer of the Plan Puebla-Panama. The cost of $3.5 billion, which is 84 percent of the funds, will initially go for massive road construction and improvement on two stretches of highways. One of the highways will be from the Central America's Caribbean coast up 1,745 km to the Mexican border with Texas, and the other highway will run 3,150 km from central Mexico going into Panama City. As trade routes, these two highways are intended to open the entire Mexican and Central American corridor for business. The taxpayers of the eight PPP countries will be the ones paying for the development of the public-works projects that will benefit private transnational capital and assure profits for corporate investors.

Fox wants to transplant the maquiladora, production-for-export model that has been applied with disastrous results in northern Mexico. The American isthmus, the narrowest part of the Americas, will be turned into a state-of-the-art foreign product assembly station. Twenty-first century commodities are increasingly produced in the Pacific Rim, with China's 1.2 billion people leading the way with the largest and lowest-paid work force in the world. But transportation is a problem when the largest consumer bases are located on the U.S. Atlantic Coast and in the upper Midwest. It is much cheaper to ship these goods unassembled, using modern containerized shipping, but they still must be assembled into finished products before reaching the market. Thus, the isthmus offers unique strategic advantages as the shortest land route between Pacific production and Atlantic consumption.

According to journalist Miguel Pickard this project will turn 9 southern Mexico states and all of Central America into a massive free-trade zone, competing in a race to the bottom of the list of the world's wages, working conditions, environmental regulations, and human rights policies.

Under the FTAA, multinational corporations could leverage exploited workers in Mexico against even more desperate workers in Haiti, Guatemala, or Brazil. The FTAA would intensify NAFTA's "race to the bottom" and deepen the negative effects of NAFTA already seen in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. PPP is one more "development" plan instituted by transnational corporations and international financial institutions that will benefit the corporate bottom line, but result in more poverty and displacement. More than 18 percent of the inhabitants of the future PPP area belong to indigenous communities, 40 percent are under age 15, and the majority 1t live below the poverty line.


U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq

President Richard Nixon removed U.S. currency from the gold standard in 1971. Since then, the world's supply of oil has been traded in U.S. fiat dollars, making the dollar the dominant world reserve currency. Countries must provide the United States with goods and services for dollars-which the United States can freely print. To purchase energy and pay off any IMF debts, countries must hold vast dollar reserves. The world is attached to a currency that one country can produce at will. This means that in addition to controlling world trade, the United States is importing substantial quantities of goods and services for very low relative costs.

The euro has begun to emerge as a serious threat to dollar hegemony and U.S. economic dominance. The dollar may prevail throughout the Western Hemisphere, but the euro and dollar are clashing in the former Soviet Union, Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

In November 2000, Iraq became the first OPEC nation to begin selling its oil for euros. Since then, the value of the euro has increased 17 percent, and the dollar has begun to decline. One important reason for the invasion and installation of a U.S. dominated government in Iraq was to force the country back to the dollar. Another reason for the invasion is to dissuade further OPEC momentum toward the euro, especially from Iran, the second largest OPEC producer, which was actively discussing a switch to euros for its oil exports.

Because of huge trade deficits, it is estimated that the dollar is currently overvalued by at least 40 percent. Conversely, the euro-zone does not run huge deficits, uses higher interest rates, and has an increasingly larger share of world trade. As the euro establishes its durability and comes into wider use, the dollar will no longer be the world's only option. At that point, it would be easier for other nations to exercise financial leverage against the United States without damaging themselves or the global financial system as a whole.

Faced with waning international economic power, military superiority is the United States' only tool for world domination. Although the expense of this military control is unsustainable, says journalist William Clark, "one of the dirty little secrets of today's international order is that the rest of the globe could topple the United States from its hegemonic status whenever they so choose with a concerted abandonment of the dollar standard. This is America's preeminent, inescapable Achilles' heel." If American power is ever perceived globally as a greater liability than the dangers of toppling the international order, the U.S. systems of control can be eliminated and collapsed. When acting against world opinion-as in Iraq-an international consensus could brand the United States as a "rogue nation."


Pentagon Increases Private Military Contracts

President Dwight Eisenhower's final remarks upon vacating the White House were "Beware the military-industrial complex." With the war on Iraq, the government rapidly increased the already growing privatization of much of its military operations. Staffed largely by ex-military and Defense Department officials, private companies- such as Kellogg, Brown & Root; DynCorp; Cubic; ITT; and MPRI-have been aggressively snatching up government contracts. One estimate, cited by Nelson Schwartz in Fortune magazine, says that 8 percent, or $30 billion, of the Pentagon's total budget for 2003 will go to private companies. Following 9/11, the Defense Department released a study that concluded, "Only those functions that must be performed by the Defense Department should be kept by the Defense Department. Any function that can be provided by the private sector is not a core government function." The U.S. military has contracted with private military companies on everything from kitchen and laundry duty to domestic recruiting efforts.

Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) is a subsidiary of Halliburton, the energy company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. By the time Cheney left Halliburton for the vice presidency, the company had extensive involvement with the Pentagon. While secretary of defense for Bush Sr., Cheney awarded Halliburton a $3.9 million contract to "study and then implement the privatization of routine army functions." Adm. Joe Lopez (ret.), former commander in chief for U.S. forces in southern Europe, as well as Cheney's aid under the elder Bush, is now the senior vice president at KBR and responsible for military contracting.

KBR was given a 10-year contract entitled Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). This is a "cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity service," an open-ended mandate for privatization anywhere in the world, according to journalist Pratap Chatterjee. Whereas it used to take 120 to l80 days to deploy private companies to foreign military bases, a 72-hour notice is now all that is required. KBR was also given $16 million to build a 408-bed prison for Afghanistan's enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Last year, DynCorp won a State Department contract to protect Afghan president Hamid Kharzai. The protection force consists of former members of Delta Force and other elite military units. DynCorp, in conjunction with several other companies such as Airscan and Northrop Grumman, receives roughly $1.2 billion a year to spray suspected coca fields in Columbia.

In April 2003, DynCorp was also awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to build a private police force in post-Saddam Iraq. Potential officers do not need to speak Arabic and must be U.S. citizens and current or former police officers, according to the London Observer. Private police provided by DynCorp working for the U.N. in Bosnia were accused of buying and selling prostitutes, including a 12-year-old girl. Others were accused of videotaping the rape of one of the women. Ecuadorian peasants are suing the company, alleging that chemicals sprayed over Colombia spread into Ecuador killing legal crops and children. DynCorp has been accused of destruction of legal crops and of committing serious human rights violations.


Third World Austerity Policies: Coming Soon to a City Near You

Policies traditionally carried out overseas by international lending institutions such as the United States-led World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF) are quickly becoming part of the U.S. domestic economy. Privatization, loss of social services, bifurcation of the economy, and an overall decline in the lives of working people are an ongoing reality in the U.S.

Officially, IMF and World Bank measures were imposed to curb inflation, increase exports, and strengthen the fiscal condition of debtor nations, allowing them to pay back their loans. In actuality, however, the common result of structural adjustments
has been depressed wages, reduced consumer purchase-power, and environmental degradation, while boosting profit rates for multinational investors. Small farmers, having lost their subsidies and import protections, are driven off their land into overcrowded cities. According to a number of economists, including the former chief economist for the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, as Western investment in the Third World increased throughout the '90s, so did poverty and social instability.

The World Bank and IMF have a four-step "reform" formula for each country. The formula includes capital-market liberalization, privatization, market-based pricing, and, finally, the introduction of "free trade." In step one, capital is freed up to flow in and out across the borders. Generally, the result is the increased flow of capital out to external businesses with no guarantee that the money will flow in through foreign investment.

Privatization is the second step. This refers to the transfer of traditionally state-run services and utilities like gas, oil, roads, water, post offices, and banks to private companies. The problem, say critics, is that private ownership of a country's framework leaves it unable to protect its citizens or natural resources from abuses of power.

Step three of the program, market-based pricing, is the point at which consumer purchase-power drops and the local economy really begins to suffer. The country's political leaders no longer have the ability to place local controls on economic trends and the country and its citizens become vulnerable to the whims of the global market.

The final step in the formula is free trade. But "free" is a relative term when referring to import/export values and global trade agreements. Third World nations are not on the same economic footing as their industrialized trade partners. Industrialized countries, influenced by their corporate backers, usually override attempts at import protections by Third World countries in order to procure local industries, cheap labor, and natural resources.

Many of these policies had been established slowly in the United States over a number of years, but the intensity and speed with which they are now emerging is unprecedented. After 9/11, with much of the public distracted by terrorism and the desire for national defense, business litigators and anti-labor politicians stepped up the process of rolling back laws enacted over the last 100 years to protect workers, the public, and the environment from the excesses of industry. Just as with World Bank/IMF policies in other countries, the goal is to privatize profits and socialize losses. The vast majority of profits made by a company will be concentrated in a few private hands, while economic losses will be borne by the taxpayers through increased taxation and denial of social benefits. This is a trend that represents a huge shift in social and economic policy in the United States, with long-term implications.


Argentina Crisis Sparks Cooperative Growth

The citizens of Argentina are cooperatively rebuilding their country, rising above the financial devastation caused by decades of privatization and military leadership. In December 2001, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recipe had gone sour, destroying currency values and employment levels. The IMF "recipe" had used loans to prop up an overvalued peso, as well as to push the multinational privatization of Argentine companies.

The resulting crisis left thousands of people unemployed. Fearing a run on the banks, the government froze accounts, enraging a public that was already nervous about losing its life savings. Millions took to the streets throughout the country shouting, "Que se vayan todos!" (roughly, "Throw the bums out!")

The president resigned and within a month Argentina defaulted on $132 billion of foreign debt and suffered a 25 percent unemployment rate, a middle class rapidly slipping into poverty, widespread hunger, and mounting crime. What had once been the world's seventh richest nation found itself in complete economic, political, and social collapse...

The middle and lower classes have joined in a grassroots movement to take back the country. The power vacuum is being filled by an array of grassroots democratic organizations. Asambleas populares (popular assemblies) are occurring all over the country including over 200 neighborhoods in Buenos Aires alone. These assemblies consist of people gathering in parks or plazas to address problems facing their communities: food distribution, health care, day care, welfare, and transportation. "The spirit on the streets and in the assemblies is that people can govern themselves," notes SIC magazine. According to one poll, one-third of Argentines have attended a popular assembly, and "35 percent say the assemblies constitute 'a new form of political organization."' Many people have even disengaged themselves from the formal peso economy by joining "barter clubs"-neighborhood-based economic networks that let citizens trade goods and services without dealing with the banks. The barter system now accounts for $400-$600 million worth of business.

The spirit of the cooperative is alive and well in cities, rural areas, and neighborhoods all over Argentina. Neighborhood assemblies have organized alternative forms of survival such as street-corner soup kitchens. Food donations are now replacing money as the price of entrance to cultural events. Community gardens are prospering.

... Argentina is awash in economic and political chaos; however, it is clear that the Argentine people have decided to take control of their communities. The current rebuilding process does not depend on IMF recipes or capitalist promises, but rather on the cooperation of hundreds of Argentines. It's an enormous social experiment that could prove to be the first great popular rebellion against capitalism of the twenty-first century. When an entire people wake from the trance of political passiveness, it seems that anything is possible.


U.S. Aid to Israel Fuels Repressive Occupation in Palestine

U.S. aid to Israel over the course of its 54 years of nationhood has fueled the illegal occupation of Palestinian land superceding Palestinian rights to self-government.

Jimmy Carter raised the ire of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other Zionist pressure groups when he expressed support for a "Palestinian Homeland" and criticized Israel's settlement policies. However, he never favored the creation of a Palestinian state and did nothing to slow the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. U.S. support of Israel was greatly increased during the Reagan era, which represented "a quantum leap in efforts to promote Israel and delegitimize the Palestinians in the United States." Illicit arms technology transfers to Israel resulted in a greatly enhanced Israeli military.

Under the Clinton Administration, even while the "peace process" and the Final Status Talks were ongoing between the Palestinians and Israel, U.S. economic and military aid to Israel continued to accelerate from 1949 to 1997, U.S. aid to Israel, which has a population of 4.8 million, totaled over $134 billion. The total U.S. foreign aid to Israel [from 1949-1997] exceeded the total aid to all of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined, which has a combined population of 486 million.

During the last 25 years [1978-2003] U.S. aid to Israel has been about 60 percent military aid and 40 percent economic aid. There is a new plan to phase out all economic aid by 2008 in order to have all the aid going to military. Israel receives about $3 billion a year in direct aid and $3 billion a year in indirect aid in the form of special loans and grants. Under the Arms Export Control Act the U.S. can only sup-, ply weapons that are used "for legitimate self defense." The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act prohibits military assistance to any country "which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." The Proxmire Amendment bans military assistance to any government that refuses to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities. All three of these laws are currently being broken with aid to Israel.

Since 1982, the aid to Israel has been transferred in one lump sum at the beginning of each fiscal year. Aid to other countries is distributed in quarterly installments throughout the year and they must account for specific purchases. Israel is not required to account for the specific purchases that the aid is being used for; it can be spent on anything-including expansion of colonial settlement projects.

It is with this aid that Israel has been able to continue the comprehensive and unrelenting occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Today, Israel is bulldozing Palestinian farmers' olive trees in order to build an encompassing 30-foot-high cement wall with gun towers and electric fencing to imprison Palestinians and the entire West Bank. Israeli forces have commandeered the Western Aquifer, which constitutes 50 percent of the West Bank water supply, and thousands of acres of Palestinian agricultural land. The wall around Jerusalem will bring the now-divided Holy City fully under Israeli control and effectively strangle West Bank economy and agriculture. The wall includes a 15-foot-deep,-foot-wide trench (Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! reported it would be filled with raw sewage), a dirt path that will be a "killing zone" for Palestinians who try to access it, an electrified fence, and a two-lane Israeli patrol road.

Since Israel barred most Palestinians from working inside Israel, unemployment in the West Bank has soared to over 50 percent. Agriculture is therefore more important than ever. Square foot by square foot, olive tree by olive tree, village by village, Israel is relentlessly taking over Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza with the full support of the American taxpayer.

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