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Torture Whistleblower Awardee Blasts Election Direction

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ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404 [at] aol.com, @elizabethmurra
Murray served as deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She said today: “This year the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence will be conferred on former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on CIA torture at great personal and professional cost. We will honor him this Sunday, September 25th at American University.

“John displayed both courage and integrity in speaking the truth to the American public about U.S. government-sponsored torture, no matter how inconvenient and costly the truth may have been.”

JOHN KIRIAKOU, jkiriakou [at] mac.com, @johnkiriakou
Kiriakou said today: “Our country is in crisis, whether it is because of our apparently seamless escalation into a permanent wartime economy, our inability to wage peace in the Middle East and South Asia, or our national compulsion to prosecute and humiliate national security whistleblowers. The quest for peace must be a part of our presidential election. Instead of arguing which candidate would be more likely to use drones, more likely to bomb our enemies, real or perceived, or more likely to use the stick, rather than the carrot, we must demand that those candidates commit themselves to the pursuit of peace both here and abroad. Without peace, we will continue down the long road toward anarchy and hatred. I am honored that my friends and colleagues in the intelligence and law enforcement communities have given me the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. I will work hard in the pursuit of peace. I hope to do them proud.”

Also, see: “Intel Vets Urge Fast Report on Clinton’s Emails” — which states: “Secretary Clinton’s case invites comparison with what happened to former CIA case officer Jeffrey Sterling, now serving a three-and-a-half-year prison term for allegedly leaking information to New York Times journalist James Risen.”

Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence notes that Kiriakou, in 2002, “led the team that located Abu Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda. It later transpired that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. … Kiriakou was the first U.S. government official to confirm (during a national news interview in December 2007) that waterboarding — which he described as torture — was used to interrogate al Qaeda prisoners. … Kiriakou subsequently faced persecution by the U.S. government for his act of truth-telling, and was sentenced to a 30-month prison term — ostensibly for revealing classified information. To this day Kiriakou remains the sole U.S. government official — past or present — who has gone to jail over the issue of torture in the post-9/11 era. Kiriakou’s claim of U.S. torture practices was later confirmed by President Obama, who in 2014 publicly acknowledged that ‘we tortured some folks.'”

As Clinton and Trump Hail Militarism, A Peace Conference Gathers

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The presidential candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties are trading aggressive language. Hillary Clinton states that the U.S. needs to be “standing up to aggressors,” and we need to “toughen our defenses,” while Donald Trump is saying “American strength is the only way to ensure peace. We must rebuild our military.”

Yesterday (Sept. 21)  was the International Day of Peace and #iInternationalDayOfPeace was a major trending topic on social media.

The following analysts will be among the many speakers at the conference No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism at American University, which will be live-streamed and begins on Friday.

DAVID VINE vine[at]american.edu
Vine is a professor at American University and author of the book Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World. His pieces include “Enduring Bases, Enduring War in the Middle East.”

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater[at]gmail.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee.

Her articles include “What a 21st-Century Peace Movement Looks Like,” which argues: “It’s time to address both the violence of militarism abroad and policing at home.”

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons reports: “Austria announces UN General Assembly resolution to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.”

Her pieces also include “Challenging the New Cold War,” which statess: “As NATO plans for a new Cold War, some Western dissidents are questioning the scare-mongering about Russia and the rationale for this expensive and dangerous revival.”

Slater has been on accuracy.org news releases including “Why is Russia Expanding Its Nuclear Arsenal?” in which she stated: “What’s going on here is we’ve pursued an aggressive posture, expanding NATO right up to Russia’s border, moving troops into eastern Europe, walking out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and planting missiles in Turkey, Poland and Romania. Now quite predictably, Russia is pushing back. Some people don’t see it because Russia has been demonized in much of the media.

“The Obama administration has announced that the U.S. government will be spending $1 trillion dollars over the next 30 years for two new bomb factories, planes, missiles and submarines to deliver new nuclear weapons. That’s totally inconsistent with its pledge under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to move toward disarmament.”

Obama at UN, in Time of Perpetual War, a No War Conference

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JOE LAURIA, joelauria[at]gmail.com, @unjoe
Lauria is a veteran foreign affairs journalist who has covered the UN for 26 years for the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the London Daily Telegraph and other news outlets. His pieces include “Why We’re Never Told Why We’re Attacked,” and “Obama’s Self-Deceit,” about President Obama’s speech last year to the United Nations.

KATHY KELLY, kathy[at]vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Kelly is co-coordinator of the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

She will be among the many speakers at the conference No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism at American University, which will be live streamed and begins on Friday.

She was recently on a delegation to Russia. She stressed the importance of focusing “on the UN and ask how the UN will fulfill its mission to find non-lethal solutions to disputes between countries.”

She notes that recently the “Chicago Tribune reported that China and Russia are now doing joint military exercises in the South China Sea, on the borders of the DIU or Spratly Islands.

“I think the U.S. ‘Anakonda’ exercises have exacerbated Russian and Chinese determination to prove that they can compete, militarily, to secure or expand their borders.” She highlights the extensive network of U.S. military bases, noting this map, displaying the U.S.’s “chokehold” on Russia and China from Bruce Gagnon.

She recently wrote: “As of April 15, 2016, the U.S. DOD [the Pentagon] was proposing that the U.S. Fiscal Year 2017 budget significantly increase funding for the ‘European Reassurance Initiative’ (ERI) from $789.3 million the previous year to $3.4 billion. The document reads: ‘the expanded focus is a reflection of the United States’ strong and balanced approach to Russia in the wake of its aggression in Eastern Europe.’ The requested funds will enable the U.S. ‘defense’ establishment to expand purchases of ammunition, fuel, equipment, and combat vehicles. It will also enable the DOD to allocate money to airfields, training centers, and ranges, as well as finance at least ’28 joint and multi-national exercises which annually train more than 18,000 U.S. personnel alongside 45,000 NATO Allies.’ This is good news for major ‘defense’ contractors.

“In the past year, the National Guard of my home state of Illinois has participated in the DOD reserve component. Twenty-two U.S. states matched up with 21 European countries to practice maneuvers designed to build up the ERI. The IL National Guard and the Polish Air Force have acquired ‘Joint Terminal Attack Controller’ systems that enable them to practice coordinating airstrikes with Poland in support of ground forces combating enemies in the region.  Members of the IL National Guard were part of NATO’s July 2016 ‘Anakonda’ exercises on the Russian border. As the state of Illinois spent an entire year without a budget for social services or higher education, millions of dollars were directed toward joint military maneuvers with Poland that ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

“Many families in Illinois can relate to the impact of rising food prices in Russia while family income stays the same or decreases. People in both the U.S. and Russia would benefit from diversion of funds away from billion dollar weapons systems toward the creation of jobs and infrastructure that improve the lives of ordinary people.

“But people are bombarded with war propaganda. Consider a recent piece of propaganda-lite, just under five minutes, which aired on ABC News, showing Martha Raddatz in the back seat of an F-15 U.S. fighter jet, flying over Estonia. ‘That was awesome,’ Raddatz coos, as she witnesses war-games from the F-15’s open cockpit. She calls the American show of force a critical deterrent to Russian forces. The piece neglects to mention ordinary Russians on whose borders, in June 2016, ten days of U.S. / NATO military exercises involving 31,000 troops took place.”

Kelly has made 20 trips to Afghanistan as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. She has protested drone warfare by joining nonviolent civil resistance actions at U.S. military bases in Nevada, New York, Wisconsin, and Missouri. In 2015, for carrying a loaf of bread and a letter across the line at Missouri’s Whiteman AFB, Kelly served three months in federal prison. Her books include Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison.

 

9/11 Widow: Obama Stance on Terrorism Act “Appalling”

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KRISTEN BREITWEISER, kdianbreit[at]aol.com
Breitweiser is a 9/11 widow and activist. Working with a group of other 9/11 widows known as the “Jersey Girls,” she was able to pressure the U.S. government to conduct a formal investigation into the 9/11 attacks. She recently wrote the piece “Obama Is Blocking The Path To Justice For 9/11 Victims’ Families.”

She said today: “The 9/11 families will be in Washington, D.C. all week to rally support against the President — starting with our protest tomorrow [Tues.] at Lafayette Square Park at 12:30. We are also trying to persuade Congress to stay in town for the inevitable override vote of Obama’s veto so it doesn’t get pushed to the lame duck session.

“We find the President’s position in support of Saudi Arabia absolutely appalling and untenable. Clear and convincing evidence proves that the Saudis are the number one funder of terrorist groups that kill Americans.

“Moreover, given the events that have transpired in NY/NJ in the past two days — we find the President’s continued opposition to JASTA [Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act] downright dangerous and disturbing.

“The fact that President Obama has held onto JASTA and not delivered his veto — thereby delaying the override vote — can only mean one thing: this man is using JASTA — a piece of powerful anti-terrorism legislation — as a political football.

“While the President purposely drags his feet in issuing his veto, the Saudis and their lobbyists have seen fit to walk the halls of Congress attempting to pick off our override votes. In addition, due to the President’s purposeful delay, the actual vote to override might now be delayed by two months into the lame duck session.

“Obviously, we hope Congress will remain in session to thwart the President and his deplorable political game-playing — game-playing that not only affects the 9/11 families’ right to accountability and justice — but also continues to place this nation at risk to terrorist attacks, as is witnessed by the past 48 hours. We believe that this is what happens when nobody is held accountable.”

The New York Times recently reported: “Two lobbying and public relations firms under contract with the Saudi government, Qorvis MSLGroup and Podesta Group, circulated this week a compilation of recent statements by foreign officials warning that passing the legislation could set off a wave of retaliatory measures by other counties.” Podesta Group was founded by John and Tony Podesta. Tony is the current chairman of the group. John is chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Breitweiser added: “The reporting about the Podesta Group is concerning. …
“Jubeir’s [Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir] visit to Lindsey Graham’s office and Graham suddenly having issues with the bill does not seem coincidental.‎ Senator Graham had all of his ‘concerns’ about JASTA addressed and satisfied back in the spring. Senator Graham happily lifted his hold on JASTA then. I can’t imagine what changed his position. What could Jubeir have said?”Also see from Kate Gould: “Vote this Week to Block Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia.”

U.S. Violation of Syrian Ceasefire Prompts Emergency UN Meeting


Reuters is reporting: “U.S.-led coalition air strikes reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers on Saturday, endangering a U.S.-Russian brokered ceasefire and prompting an emergency UN Security Council meeting as tensions between Moscow and Washington escalated.”

CHARLES GLASS, charlesglassbooks at gmail.com, @charlesmglass
Glass was recently in Syria for the New York Review of Books and was on assignment in Iraq for Harper’s Magazine. His latest book is Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring, from Verso Books. He was ABC News Chief Middle East correspondent and recently wrote the piece “In the Syrian Deadlands.” He was just on the accuracy.org news release “Syria Burning.

REESE ERLICH, ReeseErlich2 at hotmail.com, @ReeseErlich
Foreign correspondent and book author Erlich said today: “The U.S. bombed Syrian government soldiers and a Syrian military base, with estimates off 62-90 dead and over 100 wounded. The U.S. says the attack was accidental.

“However, on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry attacked the Assad regime for continuing its air strikes and for not allowing delivery of relief supplies to besieged cities — only briefly apologizing for the U.S.-caused death and destruction.

“The tone of the comments suggest the bombing raid was an intentional effort to pressure Assad and the Russians. Regardless of the intent, objectively the attacks are a huge setback to the announced U.S.-Russian ceasefire and proposed military cooperation against extremist rebels.

“The Russian government has called for a special meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter.”

The paperback edition of Erlich’s book Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect, has just been published this week.

Missing the Wells Fargo Story: Employees and Customers Blew Whistle, Were Ignored


The Los Angeles Times reports this morning: “The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on aggressive sales tactics employed by Wells Fargo employees that led to a $185-million settlement package with federal and state regulators. Five senators requested a committee investigation into the bank’s pressure-cooker sales practices that pushed thousands of Wells Fargo employees to open as many as 2 million accounts that customers never asked for. Scheduled to testify at the hearing are John Stumpf, chief executive of the San Francisco-based bank, and Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

WILLIAM K. BLACK, blackw[at]umkc.edu, @williamkblack
Black is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. A former bank regulator who led investigations of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, he is the author of the book The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.

Black recently did an interview with The Real News: “Media Grossly Downplaying the Depths of the Wells Fargo Scandal,” in which he states: “The hard work was done by the customers, by the employees, and by Los Angeles county, that brought the suit in 2015, building on these whistleblowers. You see almost no credit for that, in the coverage. Instead these federal agencies held absolutely not a single individual accountable, there were no admissions, there were absolutely no admissions in the settlement agreement. So this settlement agreement, principally negotiated by the CFPB, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, is disgustingly weak.”

In the interview, Black gets into the specifics of how “the workers [were] … actually the folks who blew the whistle on these frauds, along with Wells Fargo customers.” He adds: “In fact, this is a place that has absolutely refused to clean up its house and, by the way, while it was firing over 5,000 of the employees, the people who were being coerced and not only encouraged but demanded and praised by Wells Fargo managers to cheat. The person who was in charge of the entire consumer banking division was allowed to retire. Praised as the model of what a banker should be, by the CEO and given millions of dollars with absolutely no claw-back for the abuses.”

See from 2013 in the Los Angeles Times: “Wells Fargo’s pressure-cooker sales culture comes at a cost,” and from 2015: “Why Is My Bank Teller Trying to Sell Me a Credit Card I Don’t Want?” (Mother Jones) and At Wells Fargo, How Far Did Bank’s Sales Culture Go? (Wall Street Journal).

Farmers Union Condemns Bayer/Monsanto Deal

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USA Today reports “Bayer to acquire Monsanto for $66B,” The paper reports it would be the “largest cash acquisition proposal on record.”

ROGER JOHNSON, via Andrew Jerome, ajerome[at]nfudc.org, @nfudc
National Farmers Union
President Roger Johnson issued the following statement this morning: “Consolidation of this magnitude cannot be the standard for agriculture, nor should we allow it to determine the landscape for our future. The merger between Bayer and Monsanto marks the fifth major deal in agriculture in the last year, preceded by an approval of the Syngenta/ChemChina acquisition and proposed mergers between Dow/DuPont, Potash Corp./Agrium and John Deere/Precision Planting LLC.

“For the last several days our family farm and ranch members have been on Capitol Hill asking members of Congress to conduct hearings to review the staggering amount of pending merger deals in agriculture today. We will continue to express concern that these megadeals are being made to benefit the corporate boardrooms at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural economies.

“We are pleased that next week the Senate Judiciary Committee will be reviewing the alarming trend of consolidation in agriculture that has led to less competition, stifled innovation, higher prices and job loss in rural America. We underscore the importance that all mergers, including this recent Bayer/Monsanto deal, be put under the magnifying glass of the committee and the U.S. Department of Justice.”

National Farmers Union has been “working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.”

“Syria Burning”

syria-burningCHARLES GLASS, charlesglassbooks[at]gmail.com, @charlesmglass
Glass was recently in Syria for the New York Review of Books and was on assignment in Iraq for Harper’s Magazine. His latest book is the recently released Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring, from Verso Books. He was ABC News Chief Middle East correspondent and recently wrote the piece “In the Syrian Deadlands.”

He said today: “The problem is that the two main parties backing the factions in Syria — the United States and Russia — have not budged from their positions. Russia’s position is that Bashar al-Assad must remain as president, and the American position is that Bashar al-Assad must go as president. And they haven’t seemed to have reconciled these two points of view, although the recent agreement has pushed the U.S. closer to the Russian position…

“If you look at a map of the Arab world, there are about 22 members of the Arab League stretching from Mauritania all the way to the borders of Iran. Almost every one of those countries is an American client state. Only one is a Russian client state. That’s Syria. …

“On the surface, the United States is fighting against the Islamic State mainly because it went into Iraq. They didn’t seem to mind it when they were just in Syria. But they’re still allowing Turkey to keep its border open for men and supplies to come into the Islamic State. And they still — if they’re fighting the Islamic State, they’re still allowing the Saudis to provide the Islamic State and…other similar jihadist groups [like] al-Qaeda to receive weapons, including anti-tank weapons, from the Saudis. And this is fine with American policy and consistent with it, or they’ve simply lost control over the course of events.”

Glass’s past books include The State of Syria: Past, Present and Futureand Tribes With Flags.

 

Whistleblowers Second Jill Stein’s Call for Real 9/11 Investigation

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COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan[at]earthlink.net, @ColeenRowley
Rowley, a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

She just wrote the piece “Why This FBI Whistleblower Seconds Jill Stein’s Call For A New 9/11 Investigation” for Huffington Post, which states: “On this sad 15th anniversary of 9/11, I am encouraged to see that Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein put out a statement calling for a new investigation not afflicted by all the limitations, partisan obstacles and other problems that adversely affected the 9/11 Commission.

“It’s what so many of us have long called for, including me personally (see here and here) as someone with a front row seat to the FBI’s initial cover-ups. The FBI was only one of the agencies and political entities which strived to cover up the truth of why and how they all ignored a ‘system blinking red’ in the months before the attacks. So successful had this been that when I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2002, I actually felt I had to explain why the truth was important. That we ‘owed it to the public, especially the victims of terrorism, to be completely honest’ and ‘learning from our mistakes’ were two of the reasons I came up with.

“But the biggest mistake, the launching of the ruinous, counter-productive ‘war on terror,’ had already broken out even before my testimony (and long before the 9/11 Commission was allowed to begin work), along with its attendant war crimes such as torture, which were secretly ‘legalized.'” Rowley will be participating in the upcoming World Beyond War conference beginning Sept. 23 in Washington D.C.

ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404[at]aol.com, @elizabethmurra
Murray served as deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis.

She is quoted in Rowley’s new piece: “I have long believed there needs to be a kind of 9/11 ‘Truth Commission’ — completely independent and untainted by any political organization — in order for this country to be able to move forward in any meaningful way. The sad fact is that many folks, for varying reasons, just don’t want to ‘go there’ — i.e. the truth may be too painful for them. I don’t know exactly what happened on 9/11, but given my government’s record on Iraq and other issues, I have no reason to trust the official version.

“I think that keeping the public in a fog regarding 9/11 is extremely destructive to the health of the nation. 9/11 is like an open running sore — let’s heal it, painful as it may be.”

The Money Behind the Dakota Pipeline

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Telesur reports in “What You May Not Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline” — which features an interview with Robin Martinez, attorney for the North Dakota protesters: “The Dakota Access Pipeline has been drawing national attention for threatening Native American ways of life and land. As protesters hailed a victory on Friday handed down by three federal departments, a slew of legal issues remain at hand.”

HUGH MacMILLAN, via Seth Gladstone, sgladstone at fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
MacMillan is senior researcher on water, energy and climate issues at the group Food & Water Watch. He recently co-wrote the report “Who’s Banking on the Dakota Access Pipeline?” which states: “Powerful oil and gas companies are taking appalling steps to override the Sioux’s objections, using their immense financial resources to push for building this pipeline, which will further line their pockets. But behind the companies building the pipeline is a set of even more powerful Wall Street corporations that might give you flashbacks to the 2007 financial crisis.” Among the companies funding the project are Citibank, Wells Fargo, UBS, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, SunTrust, Credit Suisse and TD Securities.

The report states: “These banks expect to be paid back over the coming decades. By locking in widespread drilling and fracking in the false name of U.S. energy independence and security, the banks are increasing our disastrous dependence on fossil fuels. …

“Even before Dakota Access’s security turned violent, the activists faced harsh responses as Governor Dalrymple has declared a state of emergency, removing water and sanitation resources from the reservation, and the police have set up roadblocks around the reservation. Dozens of protesters have already been arrested, and police have spread false rumors of violence from the peaceful protectors.” Gladstone is deputy communications director for Food & Water Watch.

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