Tuesday, May 20, 2008

South Africans take out rage on immigrants

A wave of horrifying violence has swept the townships around Johannesburg in the past week, The Globe and Mail's Stephanie Nolen reported in an article Tuesday Xenophobic rage explodes in South Africa.

At least 22 people are dead, hundreds injured and an estimated 4,000 have been left homeless, most of them refugees and immigrants from other African countries.

"The sudden eruption of xenophobic savagery has forced South Africans into a moment of uncomfortable self-reckoning, as the newspapers and TV screens fill with images of ethnic-based brutality of a kind not seen since the darkest days of apartheid, and considered part of the past in this country, which fancies itself to be Africa's beacon of democracy and tolerance."

The attacks began in Alexandra Township and have spread to at least nine other poor, black communities. Foreigners are the ostensible target, although hundreds of native South Africans have also fled their homes in fear, seeking shelter in the yards of police stations and churches.

[ Via: The Globe and Mail ]

 

Everybody knows... - by Sheila Samples

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. 
Everybody knows the war is over. 
Everybody knows the good guys lost. 
Everybody knows the fight was fixed. 
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. 
That's how it goes.  Everybody knows.
~~Leonard Cohen
 
The fate of millions was sealed the moment Dick Cheney selected himself as The Destroyer whose charge to keep for the next eight years would be -- as Capitol Hill Blue's Doug Thompson so succinctly described George W. Bush -- a "criminally insane, pill-popping dry drunk."  I don't know about that.  I've seen some drunks in my time -- even dry ones -- and George Bush appears to be more than a little moist.

Bush was the perfect foil for Cheney.  The Scalia-driven 2000 election coup catapulted Bush to the top of the political heap.  For the first time in his worthless, impotent, cruelly indifferent life, Bush was suddenly important -- the most powerful man on the face of the earth -- and all because he had been told to scream, "Jezus!  Jezus is my philosopher!" to the swooning masses.  Makes one wonder at the rigid consent of those same "believers" for the ensuing slaughter of so many innocents -- when murdering even one in the name of Jesus should have sent a collective shriek reverberating throughout the religious universe. (See Matthew 18:14; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2)

Everybody knows that Bush isn't remotely qualified to be at the helm of the world's superpower.  He can neither think nor speak coherently, can recognize little other than Texas on a map, has completely torpedoed every business venture he attempted, and admittedly was a hard-partying sot until he was 40.  Cheney was another matter.  He was a household word.  He had been a public servant throughout his career.  He served as President Gerald Ford's chief of staff, earned six terms in the House of Representatives where he ascended to the position of minority whip and, finally, was the elder Bush's Secretary of Defense.

We trusted Cheney to keep Bush from making rash decisions.  Was it not Cheney who, at the conclusion of the 1991 Desert Storm assault, made the assessment that to expand the exercise to include regime change in Iraq was not morally sustainable because of the chaotic bloodletting -- the needless toll on our uniformed military?

We were wrong.  Had we bothered to check the "other priorities" that allowed Cheney to dodge the draft five times on his rise to power, his chilling congressional voting record, his efforts to enrich the military industrial complex by privatizing defense duties and granting massive contracts to Halliburton, we would have known that Cheney was consumed with lust for power and money.  We would have known Cheney had been champing at the bit for more than a decade to impose a new order wherein the American Empire controls the world and its resources.  

Had we checked, we would have known Dick Cheney was the wrong babysitter for a kid who gets his jollies by blowing things up.

Cheney Unbound

In 1991, Cheney was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But the upheaval of the following decade, the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, and the expanding manipulative power of the corporate media created the axis of corruption necessary for a Cheney reign of terror.  Cheney was ready, as were the militant warmongers of the Project for the New American Century who had been demanding Saddam Hussein's head for years.  At least 12 of the 18 co-signers of the January 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton, and another letter four months later to then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, demanding the overthrow of Saddam were given key positions on Cheney's destructive team.

The fix was in.  Four days before the 2001 inauguration, PNAC's deputy director, Thomas Donnelly, wrote a memorandum to "Opinion Leaders," reminding them that "the task of removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power still remains...Many in the incoming Bush Administration understand this challenge..."  

Four months after the inauguration, the White House issued a press release warning that the threat of terrorist-nations using weapons of mass destruction against the American "homeland" was very real.  To counter this danger, Cheney put himself in charge of the entire government -- departments of Defense, Justice, Health and Human Services, Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, FEMA, and "other federal agencies," which would naturally include both FAA and NORAD.  A new department -- the Office of National Preparedness -- was created so Cheney could protect us from catastrophic harm and deal with "consequence" management.  

The next four months were busy ones.  With malicious indifference, Cheney set about screwing the American people; destroying 225-year Constitutional protections, passing secret laws to seize unlimited executive power, and locking both Congress and the public out of the legislative process.  Bush provided cover by regaling us with hilarious "Benny Hill" bits of linguistic derring-do, strutting from one presidential photo op to another, falling off couches and bicycles, choking on pretzels, and attacking brush with a chainsaw at his Crawford ranch.  

Cheney in Charge

Then it was 9-11.  Suddenly Bush was no longer a spoiled, bumbling, schizophrenic little president.  In an instant, he was transformed into a loaded codpiece -- The Commander in Chief, The Decider of life and death -- a modern-day Caligula towering above mankind with lighted depleted uranium firecrackers gripped in both fists.  Cheney could not have picked a more willing accomplice to export death and violence to the four corners of the earth...

With smoke still rising from the ashes of Afghanistan, the drive to topple Saddam, who was demanding Euro for his oil, quickly turned into a crusade. It was Cheney-orchestrated and Cheney-driven.  Under the deepening shadows of mushroom clouds, administration neoconservatives teamed up with ecstatic corporate media co-conspirators to terrify an already traumatized public.  Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith launched a separate intelligence unit, the Office of Special Plans, to create the propaganda needed to invade Iraq.  

Since Bush can't be trusted to maintain a single train of thought in one-on-one interviews, he hit the campaign trail with a prepared speech he delivered over and over -- is now delivering about Iran -- frantically catapulting the propaganda that Saddam was "threatening America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons."  Bush convinced a majority of Americans that the Iraqi dictator was allied with Al Qaeda and provided a "safe haven" for terrorists, and if we didn't wipe him out, he would "strike us again without leaving any fingerprints."

Cheney's fingerprints are all over every aspect of the drive for war.  For a year and a half, Cheney bullied the entire intelligence apparatus, especially the CIA, into making a false case that Saddam was an immediate nuclear threat.  He denigrated the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report that there was no evidence, sneering that the intelligence was faulty, and IAEA Director-General Mohammed El-Baradei had no credibility where Iraq was concerned.

But it was Secretary of State Colin Powell who rolled the loaded dice at the UN Security Council on February 8, 2003, in a presentation even he admitted was "bullshit."  Powell, who is adept at leaving no fingerprints, but whose shadow lingers over decades of slaughtered innocents, carried the water for his masters one last time.  When Powell completed his somber charges that Al-Qaeda was in Iraq running "poison camps" full bore, that Saddam was obtaining magnets for uranium enrichment -- charges backed up with photos and vials of poison -- we were sold.  Because we trusted him.

A Moral Fork in the Road

I don't want to go off on an Aristotelian rant here, but thanks to Cheney and those around him obsessed with world government, this nation appears to be running on empty where morality, or ethos, is concerned.  Values such as compassion, sympathy, prudence, virtue, decency, ethics -- cannot thrive in a nation controlled by war criminals who force its citizens into submission through fear, violence and propaganda.  How can a society be "just" when natural laws have fallen by the wayside and nobody is held accountable for crimes against God and humanity?  

We are under the control of the criminally insane.  Cheney has turned the greatest democratic republic ever conceived into a world corporation and anointed himself its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  He has supplanted two centuries of protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with executive orders and secret laws.  In their lust for power and riches, Cheney and Bush have managed in just seven grueling, sadistic, morally corrupt years to destroy entire nations, including their own.  And they accomplished this in the only way possible.  Because we permitted it.  Because we lost our moral compass.

So we stand here in the blood-sodden mess of two lost wars.  Millions -- millions -- have been displaced, destroyed, dishonored in Cheney's quest for oil.  Tens of thousands of our own citizens are injured, maimed -- 4,077 dead -- an entire generation of Americans lost in a depleted uranium wasteland.  "So?" Cheney says, "They were all volunteers."  He admitted that losing sons or daughters could "be a burden" on families, but reminded us sternly that "the biggest burden" is on the President, who has to send even more to their deaths.

We're at the crossroads.  We can no longer remain neutral nor mill around in confused acceptance of the genocidal madness into which we have been swept.  Thomas Jefferson said, "When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil."

Everybody knows the folly of the treasonous "corrections" made to counter the Iran-Contra evil in the 1980's and early '90's -- the flurry of Presidential Christmas-Eve pardons allowing convicted criminals to recede into the shadows only to return and metastasize throughout the current Cheney/Bush administration.  

Cheney, Bush and their co-conspirators throughout the three branches of government must be removed.  Indicted.  Convicted.  Imprisoned.  Voting records of the 435 members of Congress and 33 Senators up for re-election in 2008 must be vetted, and those who do not reflect the will of the people must go.  No exceptions.  The remaining 17 Senators must either stand or fall on their voting records.  If those who are guilty of the same breach of trust as their cohorts refuse to budge, they must be impeached and removed from office.

They have left us with but one choice, and one last chance to make that choice.  We have reached a point in the "course of human events" where it is not only our "right but our duty" to throw off this destructive government and institute one which remembers it "derives its just powers from the consent of the governed."  

The time has come for Americans to blink.  Because the Abyss is staring back at us.

[ Via: Political Cortex ]

 

Articles of Impeachment

Articles of Impeachment

of

President George W. Bush

and

Vice President Richard B. Cheney,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. - - ARTICLE II, SECTION 4 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have committed violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States, by the following acts:

1) Seizing power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the  rule of law; carrying out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of over one hundred thousand Iraqis, and thousands of U.S. G.I.s.

2) Lying to the people of the U.S., to Congress, and to the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war.

3) Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct attacks on civilians, civilian facilities and locations where civilian casualties were unavoidable.

4) Instituting a secret and illegal wiretapping and spying operation against the people of the United States through the National Security Agency.

5) Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently changing its government by force and assaulting Iraq in a war of aggression.

6) Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments and individuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

7) Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks.

8) Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, both a part of the "Supreme Law of the land" under Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.

9) Acting to strip United States citizens of their constitutional and human rights, ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the Executive of a citizen as an "enemy combatant."

10) Ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, and without charge, at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense.

11) Ordering and authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction, even where the judicial officer after full hearing determines a detainee is wrongfully held by the government.

12) Authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens who are designated solely at the discretion of the Executive who acts as indicting official, prosecutor and as the only avenue of appellate relief.

13) Refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government in the United States, including in response to Congressional inquiry.

14) Use of secret arrests of persons within the United States and elsewhere and denial of the right to public trials.

15) Authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government, even in the absence of a court order and even where an incarcerated person has not been charged with a crime.

16) Ordering and authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States, prior to hearing or trial, for lawful or innocent association with any entity that at the discretionary designation of the Executive has been deemed "terrorist."

17) Engaging in criminal neglect in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, depriving thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and other Gulf States of urgently needed support, causing mass suffering and unnecessary loss of life.

18) Institutionalization of racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity.

19) Refusal to provide information and records necessary and appropriate for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions.

20) Rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and abrogation of the obligations of the United States under, and withdrawal from, international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, and including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia, and rescission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome which served as the basis for the International Criminal Court.

Notes for the Consideration of Impeachment

[ Source: VoteToImpeach.Org ]

 

Blunt federal letters tell students they’re security threats

A German graduate student in oceanography at M.I.T. applied to the Transportation Security Administration for a new ID card allowing him to work around ships and docks.

What the student, Wilken-Jon von Appen, received in return was a letter that not only turned him down but added an ominous warning from John M. Busch, a security administration official: "I have determined that you pose a security threat."

Similar letters have gone to 5,000 applicants across the country who have at least initially been turned down for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, an ID card meant to guard against acts of terrorism, agency officials said Monday.

The officials also said they were sorry about the language, which they may change in the future, but had no intention of withdrawing letters already sent.

"It's an unfortunate choice of words in a bureaucratic letter," said Ellen Howe, a security agency spokeswoman.

Ms. Howe and Maurine Fanguy, who oversees the new ID card program, said that most foreign students did not qualify for the identity cards, but that the letters were not intended to label the recipients as potential terrorists. (Some applicants are also turned down because of criminal records.)

Mr. von Appen, 23, one of at least four oceanography students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who received identical letters, said he was stunned by its language.

"I was pretty much speechless and quite intimidated," said Mr. von Appen, whose research is supported by a $65,000-a-year grant from the National Science Foundation.

A British student at M.I.T. who was rejected, Sophie Clayton, 28, said that at first she was amused at what appeared to be a bureaucratic absurdity. But as she pondered the designation, Ms. Clayton said she grew worried. "The two words 'security threat' are now in the files next to my name, my photograph and my fingerprints," she said.

~ read on... ~

 

Quantum consciousness, May 20

From: Edgar Mitchell ushers in the Next Epoch in Evolution
 
deRegnier: Great.

I'm going to skip now to the focal point of your book, which is the dyadic model. I'm going to switch to that because it seems that it is a very important element of what you want to communicate with the book. Can you explain it to us in lay-person terms for the scientifically-challenged?

Mitchell: Yes, in a very simple statement: Four hundred years ago. the philosopher Rene Descartes came to the conclusion that physicality, spirituality, mind and body belonged to different realms of reality that didn't interact. Now, that served the purpose to get the Inquisition off the backs of the intellectuals so they could disagree on material things with the church and without the fear of being burned at the stake. So that ended that, but it did cause, for four hundred years, science to consider consciousness and mind a subject for philosophy and religion and not a subject for science.

Now, one of the things that happened, in the 1940s, was the mathematician, physicist, Norbert Wiener (MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for the first time really defined information as the negative of entropy, and entropy as the idea of the universe is running down and wastes energy. But, Wiener defined information as the negative of entropy, and that's wonderful but it didn't go far enough.

So what my dyadic model does, [relates to] Einstein's energy is the basis of matter. We know that if we take matter apart and explode matter, we find energy. And that energy is the basis of matter. But if we go a step further, we live in a universe where intelligence and knowing is important, and how do we know anything, well, information. And, information at its most basic definition is just patterns in energy.

So the dyadic model says that energy has two faces. Instead of being two separate things, it's the energy as the basis of our existence in matter. And, it´s the basis of our knowing and information. And that's the simplest way to explain it.

deRegnier: And how does that affect our consciousness, or how does the consciousness affect that model?

Mitchell: First of all, it gives a consistent way of looking at this and we needed that. But we had not had, in science, a definition of consciousness. The only definition of consciousness from the dictionary is that at its basic level it is awareness. Consciousness means to be aware, and then we have different levels of consciousness depending upon how complex the substance is. It has been demonstrated many times over in laboratories that basic awareness is demonstrable at the level of plants, at simple bacteria, at simple life forms.

This is done with Faraday cages. It's shown that this information at this deep level, at the quantum level, can transcend electromagnetic theory. And, now we're getting into quantum physics and we don´t want to go there at this point. But it's a very fundamental notion that awareness is at the very basis of things.

And we have a consciousness that is not only is aware, but we can think about our thinking and that is a much higher level of consciousness than we find at the level of plants and animals.

deRegnier: Has our level of consciousness changed as we've evolved?

Mitchell: I would think so. I tend to agree with the classic notions that come right out of biology that we have evolved from a more primitive state and that from those lower animal states, from which we came, that we have progressively evolved in our ability to utilize consciousness, to utilize thought and intelligence as we have learned more about our universe. Both on earth and as in the 19th and 20th centuries, and now the 21st century, we´ve been able to look out into the heavens with very powerful instruments and to find our place in the universe in totally new ways.

deRegnier: Would you say that with the dawning of ritual and religion, was that when there came a change in consciousness?

Mitchell: No, I would say there was a whole host of developments associated with that. The inventing of writing is one. Spoken language is another. And then the development of all this helps the brain to evolve and to utilize and to start to take on different characteristics.

I don't consider myself enough of an evolutionary biologist to speak coherently about all of this, but it's very clear that in the evolutionary process that's taken place in the last several thousand years as we have evolved language, and written language in particular, and from the Greeks forward learned to think in more logical terms.

deRegnier: What do you see as our responsibility with this consciousness? For example, do we have a responsibility to morality?

Mitchell: Of course, what comes along with living is learning to develop everything that goes with our consciousness. We have to think about morality. We have to think about rightness. We have certainly learned to accept the notion that we're all created out of the same thing. And that's one of the things quantum physics has shown us. Particularly, what the space experience has shown me was that when we understand that the matter in our bodies and in everything (all matter is created in the star system, the heavy matter created in the furnace of stars) we start to realize that that is the basis of our very existence. And when we start to realize we are interconnected in this way it helps you see things in a different way.


From: Vesak Reflection on the Medical Profession
The Newtonian- Cartesian model of the world on which Western medicine developed has been superseded at the sub atomic level by quantum physics. Professor Carl von Weizsacker, German atomic physicist and philosopher, was interviewed in a Dutch TV programme on the challenge posed by the New Physics to religion and philosophy. The New Physics, the professor commented, calls for a new understanding of our world and a new ethical attitude to life and the world we live in. I quote from the transcript:
Consider the implications of quantum theory. In quantum theory we are describing the behaviour of stars and atoms and produce tables and figures as if we are spectators. But at the same time we realize, and we are reminded so profoundly of that old truth already understood by the Buddha that we are in fact telling our own story. Our own bodies consist of atoms; our own lives are part of that nature we are analyzing. We cannot separate it. We cannot speak of nature as if we did not belong to it. That is more or less the message of quantum theory. Now look at all the immense number of beings who are born, who live and die, who suffer because all life is suffering according to Buddha. But you cannot speak of this truth as something outside yourself, you yourself are born and you will die and you are going through a life of suffering because you build your life on false expectations which are frustrated, And in this situation you cannot distinguish between the onlooker - the one who looks and the one who is looked. You are one and the same you are in both roles at the same time.


From: Human consciousness, intelligence may suddenly shift

Accompanying continued progress in understanding the potential and apparent direction of human consciousness, some researchers point out that a "unified field" or "zero-point field" probably exists around us and within us.

In addition to this hypothesized energy field underlying what we see and experience around us, there may be various dimensions that we may not always see. Some researchers propose that boundaries or membranes, sometimes referred to as "branes," separate these dimensions.

For people who wonder about ideas like an afterlife, Heaven and angels, theories about other dimensions actually existing along with our normal reality might make sense. Individuals who say they have had a "near-death experience" or NDE report crossing a boundary, a tunnel of beautiful light, to a different reality.

Some spiritual researchers have hypothesized that there could be several layers or kinds of dimensions in the afterlife.

How do these ideas fit with emerging discoveries and theories in modern physics and other sciences? There seem to be some common elements between the scientific and spiritual views.

Spiritual philosophies and faiths often note that intellectual or brain-oriented thinking can only get us so far in understanding a larger intelligence or force around us.

Transcending our thinking minds, then using our hearts and what is often called a soul take us to new levels of perception, according to certain belief systems.

These same kinds of methods are used in ESP and remote viewing. Using internal resources that are not simply thinking with our brains, people can tap into perceptions we often call intuition, instincts, gut feelings, hunches, dreams and visions to gain new insights and information.

This is one area where science and spirituality seem to be merging. And it seems to be where new phenomena and insights are emerging.


From: Problems in Western Science Resolved By Occult Science

There are fundamental, perplexing questions on which science has scratched its head for centuries and is still at it. For example, did anything happen before the Big Bang, if so what? What are the mysteries of Sound and Light, Space and Time, Energy and Matter in manifesting the Cosmos? Do we need God? Who is He? Who made Him? What does He do?

Both science and religion have offered their explanations. But there are still many unanswered areas left.

London-based renowned theosophist and international lecturer Dr. Edi D Bilimoria, in his seminal work titled, "The Snake And The Rope", finds that the key to unlock answers to the mysteries that have ever perplexed science rests with Occult Science - the science of the hidden laws of nature. He explores how Occult Science answers such conundrums in science as Big Bang theory, infinite energy, extra-terrestrial life, nature of consciousness, and wave-particle duality.

In his book, Dr Bilimoria considers investigations by Western Science into Cosmology, Consciousness, Sound and Light, Biology and Evolutionary Theory. He then contrasts the philosophies and experimental methods of Western Science with those of Occult Science.

The book also delves into issues such as Quantum Physics and the Nature of Light and Matter, exploring why classical physics broke down and how quantum physics opens the door to the esoteric philosophy. Drawing upon hard science evidence that we humans existed alongside and much before the dinosaurs, the author explains why Darwinism is disintegrating.
 

Thirteen/WNET Relaunches Thirteen.org

Thirteen/WNET is relaunching its Web site, Thirteen.org, offering New Yorkers a dynamic new destination just for them. Drawing on a vast selection of current and archival video and supplementary materials to respond in real time to breaking news and area happenings, the new Thirteen.org will prove to be an indispensable resource for New Yorkers. Presenting illuminating background and fascinating stories related to the day's arts, science and news headlines, Thirteen.org gives context to the events of the day.
 
 

Secret law: Is this America?

Nat Hentoff
The Jamestown Sun - 05/15/2008

On April 30, the Senate's subcommittee on the Constitution held a vitally important hearing on "Secret Law and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government," chaired by Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis. At issue, ignored by the presidential contenders, is a profound change in the very core of our laws. Said witness Steven Aftergood, secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists:

Growing use of secret law "is implicated in fundamental political controversies over domestic surveillance, torture and many other issues directly affecting the lives and interests of Americans ... Secret law excludes the public from the deliberative process, promotes arbitrary and deviant government behavior, and shields official malefactors from accountability."

At this very Senate hearing, John R. Elwood, the Office of Legal Counsel's Deputy Assistant Attorney General, provided a startling example of the Bush administration's justification for the imperious essence of secret law. As reported in the May 1 New York Times, Elwood "disclosed a previously unpublicized method to cloak government activities."

The Bush administration believes, he said, "that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he and other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation."

Vladimir Putin would agree with that — but is this America? Responding to Elwood (and his boss, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said that this three-card Monte game (a sidewalk swindle) "turns the Federal Register (that prints these orders) into a screen of falsehoods." Behind the "phony regulations lawless programs can operate in secret."

Since 9/11, the president often says that his actions are based on legal opinions from the Justice Department, particularly from its Office of Legal Counsel. Another witness before the senate subcommittee on the Constitution was Dawn Johnsen, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel.

Concerning secret interpretations of not only executive orders but also of laws, she said the central question is:

"May the Office of Legal Counsel issue binding opinions that in essence tell the president and the executive branch that they need not comply with existing laws — and then not share those opinions, and that legal reasoning, with Congress or the American people? ... This combination — the claimed authority not to comply with the law and to do so secretly — is a terrible abuse of powers, without limits and without checks.

"It clearly is antithetical to our constitutional democracy."

This is also a central question for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain: Is the next president willing to continue this degree and extent of kingly secrecy, in which the Justice Department will be deeply complicit?

And my direct question to Republican John McCain: Will he continue Mukasey as U.S. attorney general, who has yet to utter a critical word about George W. Bush's unprecedented expansion of presidential powers that is nurtured by "secret law?"

In his Senate testimony, Aftergood zeroed in on the powerful Office of Legal Counsel, whose opinions, he noted, are "generally binding on the executive branch. Many of these opinions may be properly confidential. But others interpret the law authoritatively and in ways that are reflected in government policy."

Aren't the American people entitled to know what these authoritative opinions are that affect our lives — including our security — in so many ways. But, Aftergood cautions us that "most of these opinions are secret, so that the legal standards under which the government is actually operating at any given moment may be unknown to the public."

One of the charges against King George III in the Declaration of Independence was: "altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments."

The oath of Allegiance for New Citizens requires: "I will support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic ... and bear true faith and allegiance to the same."

But how can that oath be honored if American citizens, new and old, do not know "the legal standards under which the government is actually operating at any given moment?"

Getting back to presidential executive orders, they range, Aftergood points out, from "domestic intelligence activities to protection of human subjects in scientific research. But now it appears that none of these policies are securely established. In fact, any of them may already have been violated (or rather, 'waived') without notice. We just don't know."

Sen. Feingold deserves our thanks for holding this hearing on "secret law." As he says plainly: "It is a basic tenet of democracy that the people have a right to know the law."

Among the enormous responsibilities of the next president and Congress is to restore the rule of law and, not incidentally, the Constitution on which it stands — and let the sunshine in!

Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of many books, including "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance" (Seven Stories Press, 2004).

 

ACLU Commends Senator Feingold for Hearing on Secret Law (4/30/2008)

The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded a Senate subcommittee for holding a hearing on the Bush administration's use of secrecy to institute government policy. During the hearing, entitled "Secret Law and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government," the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and its chairman, Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI), heard testimony from legal experts and open government advocates. The hearing focused on the administration's broad interpretation of the law as it relates to government secrecy and counterterrorism policies – including a legal opinion written by former Justice Department Official John Yoo on the use of torture in interrogations. That memo was made public through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made by the ACLU.

"Government transparency is the cornerstone of democracy," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "This administration has been rewriting the Constitution memo by memo. From what we've seen of the self-serving opinions issued by the Office of Legal Counsel, we can only believe that those that remain secret must equally distort the law in favor of President Bush's agenda. An agenda built on secrecy and overclassification is antithetical to our country's ideals."

The ACLU noted that the Bush administration's track record on government secrecy has been dismal at best. Memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) outlining legal opinions on torture and wiretapping remain classified despite several congressional calls for disclosure. The administration has also frequently issued executive orders only to amend those policies without publicly acknowledging the changes, removed public documents from the National Archives and created an unusual system of retroactive secrecy by reclassifying previously public information. One of the most public debates on executive power and secrecy has been rooted in the executive's ability to conduct surveillance. Since the revelation of the president's warrantless wiretapping program by the New York Times in December of 2005, that debate has been held publicly in Congress. However a missing piece of that debate is a still-secret OLC memo.

Last year, the ACLU filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for orders and legal papers discussing the scope of the government's authority to engage in the secret wiretapping of Americans. In December, a FISC judge ruled that the court would not conduct an independent review to determine whether or not the orders and legal papers were properly determined to be classified.

In recent years, the ACLU has engaged in a broad effort to uncover information about the Bush administration's torture and surveillance policies. In October 2003, the ACLU filed a FOIA request for records concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit enforcing the request – including the 2003 Yoo memo which stated that the president could authorize the torture of prisoners.  Many critical documents, however, remain secret.  Among the documents that still have not been released are an OLC memo listing interrogation methods for use by the CIA, and a Presidential Directive authorizing the CIA to set up secret detention facilities overseas.

"This administration's view of executive power is hostile not only to the Constitution but to our entire system of checks and balances," continued Fredrickson. "The president is bound by the same laws that govern every American citizen and to claim otherwise is outrageous. If nothing else, warping the role of the executive will be this administration's legacy. We applaud Senator Feingold for holding this hearing."

To read more about the ACLU's work on these issues, go to:
www.aclu.org/fisa
www.aclu.org/torture

 

Torture protests at UC law school ceremonies

Some 50 protesters, clad in orange jumpsuits and black hoods to emulate the infamous photos of prisoners in Iraq, picketed UC Berkeley's law school graduation ceremony Saturday, demanding that the university fire Professor John Yoo for his authorship of the Bush administration's policies on torture.

"We want to see him fired and disbarred for being a war criminal," said Anne Weills, an Oakland attorney who said she was with the National Lawyers Guild, one of the groups that protested. "Academic freedom stops when you intend to harm or injure somebody."

Yoo, a tenured constitutional law professor at Boalt Hall, took a leave of absence from 2001 to 2003 to work for the U.S. Department of Justice. During that time, he wrote what critics call the "torture memos," which protesters say outlined the legal basis for the use of torture at the Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) military prisons.

Boalt Hall officials said earlier last week that Yoo would not attend Saturday's graduation ceremony.

Graduates and their families and friends generally were supportive of the protest, held outside UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre, but they were also supportive of Yoo's right to teach at the law school.

"He definitely should be prosecuted, but he deserves his day in court like anyone else," said Reem Salahi of Los Angeles, who graduated from the law school Saturday. "Some people think this protest takes away from a celebratory event, but I think it's a good opportunity to raise this issue."

~ more... ~

 

Siegelman: ‘This Will Make Watergate Look Like Child’s Play’

In a new interview with the Anniston Star (AL), former Democratic Alabama governor Don Siegelman speaks out about Karl Rove's involvement in his prosecution. Siegelman is currently out on bond, after being sentenced to serve seven years in a bribery case in 2006. In his chat with the Star, Siegelman questions Rove's motives for refusing to testify to Congress under oath about the case:

The Star: Why do you believe Rove hasn't agreed to testify under oath?

Siegelman: He doesn't want to run the risk of lying under oath and being prosecuted for perjury.

You know, I think it's telling that he talks a good game. He wrote a, I think it was a five-page letter to [MSNBC anchor] Dan Abrams basically asking Dan Abrams questions about why he should testify under oath. When Conyers invited him to testify under oath, he's dodged that, he's skated, and I think it's clear he's got something to hide. Otherwise, there is no reason why he wouldn't testify under oath.

Last week, House Judiciary Committee members rejected Rove's offer to answer the committee's questions in writing — rather than testifying under oath — stating that "we can see no justification for his refusal to speak on the record to the Committee."

In his interview, Siegelman also stressed that that his case is "not an isolated incident":

Siegelman: I think this will make Watergate look like child's play when it is fully investigated, not so much this case because certainly it's not about me. It's about restoring justice and protecting our democracy and, because this case shows the lengths to which those who are obsessed with power will go in order to gain power or retain power, it has attracted the attention of the national press.

This was a pernicious, political plan that was set in motion by Karl Rove to further his espoused dream of establishing a permanent Republican majority in this country, and what he left out was by any means necessary.

Harpers' Scott Horton has reported that "most experienced and senior career prosecutors" opposed the Siegleman prosecution, yet the Justice Department pushed the case forward "with blunt political force." Former GOP operative Jill Simpson has also alleged that Rove asked her to find evidence that Siegelman was cheating on his wife.

[ Via: Think Progress ]

McCain subliminal flashed on Fox News

FDA dcraps Helsinki Declaration on protecting human subjects

In the mid-1990s, the National Institutes of Health ran a clinical trial in Africa testing whether a new antiretroviral drug to combat AIDS worked to prevent mother-child transmission. The trial created an ethical uproar because the control group received a placebo instead of an older anti-AIDS drug called AZT, which had already been proven successful in reducing the number of babies who contracted HIV from their mothers.

To critics, failure to provide a proven therapy to participants in this and similar trials was a basic violation of standards outlined in the Helsinki Declaration on protecting human subjects in research, originally adopted by the World Medical Association in 1964. But to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the drug industry, to which it had grown increasingly close over the course of the 1990s, it contradicted its longstanding policy of only requiring trials showing that a new drug was "better than nothing," i.e., better than placebo, to win regulatory approval. If the drug industry were to closely adhere to the Helsinki Declaration, it would always have to run comparison trials if an effective drug were already available.

Rather than accede to international norms, the FDA and the U.S. government in the succeeding years lobbied hard to get the WMA to amend its rules. And it has, several times. For instance, it now allows use of placebo-controlled trials for less serious illnesses. But the basic guidelines protecting human trial subjects' access to best available therapies remained intact.

Why is any of this relevant today? Last week, the FDA formally declared that it will no longer require that clinical trials submitted to the agency to get regulatory approval for a new drug adhere to the Helsinki Declaration. The new rule, which goes into effect next October, was supported by the drug industry but opposed by numerous public interest, patient advocacy, and consumer groups. The new rule requires only that trials conducted abroad by drug manufacturers follow good clinical practices (GCP) and include a review and approval by an independent ethics committee. There's nothing in GCP guidelines that requires patients in the control arm of a trial get access to already proven therapies. They only need receive the standard of care in that country.

What will this mean for the concept of "informed consent" in a poor country? Imagine for a moment that you live on $2 a day in, say, Zimbabwe, and have high blood pressure. Since the disease isn't life-threatening, you skip buying the available anti-hypertensives being sold in the village pharmacy because you can't afford them and none are on the national formulary. Hence, there is no local standard of care.

Now say you learn while visiting the village clinic that an international pharmaceutical company is recruiting patients for a clinical trial testing a new anti-hypertensive drug. If you join the trial, you may only get the placebo. But there's a 50-50 chance you will get the new drug, which hasn't been proven yet, but might work.

Are there risks associated with taking this new drug? Well, so far, none that the doctors think are serious enough to cancel the trial. But it says right on the form that something may turn up in the clinical trial in which you are being asked to participate. You sign up. After all, a 50-50 chance of getting a drug that has a good chance of working (the drug industry wouldn't be here testing it if it didn't, right?) is better than no drug at all. And how much risk could there be, anyway?

Is that really non-coerced, informed consent?

It's getting tougher and tougher to recruit patients in the U.S. to participate in clinical trials. It's also getting a lot more expensive for drug companies to run them here. The result is that 35 percent of all trials submitted to the FDA in new drug applications now take place abroad. This new rule will only make that number grow.

Moreover, many of those trials conducted abroad (or about 15 percent of all trials) aren't even be registered with the FDA. Unlike trials conducted in the U.S., companies do not have to submit an investigative new drug application (IND) to the FDA before beginning research in foreign countries. The FDA estimates about 575 of the foreign trials submitted to the agency each year as part of new drug applications do not go through the IND process. In other words, the FDA has no record that they even exist.

The FDA is required by law to monitor clinical trials conducted under INDs to protect their human subjects. But an Inspector General's report released last September found that the FDA had no registry of trials (which was rectified by passage of the FDA reform law last October); no registry of the Institutional Review Boards that were supposed to be monitoring trials conducted under its auspices; and independently monitored fewer than one percent of the trials it knew about.

And now it has passed a rule that increases the likelihood that more trials will go abroad and that more of them will not even be registered with the FDA, which makes them all but impossible to monitor.

In the final rule published in the Federal Register, the FDA rejected the notion that adopting the self-regulating GCP standard and eliminating references to the Helsinki Declaration "will hurt subjects in developing countries or result in less protection for subjects in foreign studies." The agency noted that GCP requires trial sponsors closely monitor trial behavior and report adverse events. If I were a headline writer at the New York Daily News, the headline on that story would have been: FDA to Global Poor: Drop Dead.

What I can't understand is why no one in the U.S. press, including in the medical literature, paid attention to this story in the past year as this change was underway. Has the U.S. become entirely callous about the impact its ill-conceived policies are having on the rest of the world? Or am I off-base and this stuff really doesn't matter.

[ Via: Gooznews ]

National sovereignty and international law

In his conversation with Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL this week, international lawyer Philippe Sands discussed the Bush Administration's view of international law:
"They don't like international rules. It goes back to a project back in the 1990s, a Project for the New American Century, in which the very same people who came into the administration said, 'International rules impose constraints on the United States, undermine America's sovereignty, make America unable to protect itself. And we're going to get rid of them.' And they came into office, I think, with that as a policy objective. And 9/11 provided a useful way of taking that forward."
The argument that international laws endanger national sovereignty can be heard from diverse voices across the political spectrum with regard to a variety of issues.
Regarding trade policy, for instance, progressive stalwart Ralph Nader warned against "sovereignty shredding" and said:
"The decisions are now in Geneva, bypassing our courts, our regulatory agencies, our legislatures."
The conservative John Birch Society objects to the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which is purportedly a non-binding initiative to build "cooperative relations" between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Society argues:
"Plans include a 'free trade zone with a common security perimeter,' thus erasing established international borders. U.S. citizens would then effectively surrender their citizenship to the North American Union (NAU)... The John Birch Society believes the American people should oppose any programs or projects that would replace our constitutional system and/or combine our government with the very different Canadian and Mexican governmental systems — effectively destroying the United States of America."
 

How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

Ben Aris in Berlin and Duncan Campbell in Washington
The Guardian, Saturday September 25 2004
 
Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today's president.
 
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

Tantalising

Bush was also on the board of at least one of the companies that formed part of a multinational network of front companies to allow Thyssen to move assets around the world.

Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler's efforts to re-arm between the two world wars. One of the pillars in Thyssen's international corporate web, UBC, worked exclusively for, and was owned by, a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands. More tantalising are Bush's links to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times in the 1930s, but documents from the US National Archive declassified last year link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were still involved in the company when Thyssen's American assets were seized in 1942.

Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of Maryland.

The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.

The second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November, the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush's ventures, had also been seized.

The third set of documents, also at the National Archives, are contained in the files on IG Farben, who was prosecuted for war crimes.

A report issued by the Office of Alien Property Custodian in 1942 stated of the companies that "since 1939, these (steel and mining) properties have been in possession of and have been operated by the German government and have undoubtedly been of considerable assistance to that country's war effort".

Prescott Bush, a 6ft 4in charmer with a rich singing voice, was the founder of the Bush political dynasty and was once considered a potential presidential candidate himself. Like his son, George, and grandson, George W, he went to Yale where he was, again like his descendants, a member of the secretive and influential Skull and Bones student society. He was an artillery captain in the first world war and married Dorothy Walker, the daughter of George Herbert Walker, in 1921.

In 1924, his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment banker, helped set him up in business in New York with Averill Harriman, the wealthy son of railroad magnate E H Harriman in New York, who had gone into banking.

One of the first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a founding member of the bank and the incorporation documents, which list him as one of seven directors, show he owned one share in UBC worth $125.

The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush's father-in-law to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany's most powerful industrial family.

August Thyssen, the founder of the dynasty had been a major contributor to Germany's first world war effort and in the 1920s, he and his sons Fritz and Heinrich established a network of overseas banks and companies so their assets and money could be whisked offshore if threatened again.

By the time Fritz Thyssen inherited the business empire in 1926, Germany's economic recovery was faltering. After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December 1931 and admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I Paid Hitler, when the National Socialists were still a radical fringe party. He stepped in several times to bail out the struggling party: in 1928 Thyssen had bought the Barlow Palace on Briennerstrasse, in Munich, which Hitler converted into the Brown House, the headquarters of the Nazi party. The money came from another Thyssen overseas institution, the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvarrt in Rotterdam.

By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world's largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler's build-up to war.

Between 1931 and 1933 UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad. According to documents seen by the Guardian, after UBC was set up it transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.

In 1941, Thyssen fled Germany after falling out with Hitler but he was captured in France and detained for the remainder of the war.

There was nothing illegal in doing business with the Thyssens throughout the 1930s and many of America's best-known business names invested heavily in the German economic recovery. However, everything changed after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Even then it could be argued that BBH was within its rights continuing business relations with the Thyssens until the end of 1941 as the US was still technically neutral until the attack on Pearl Harbor. The trouble started on July 30 1942 when the New York Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled "Hitler's Angel Has $3m in US Bank". UBC's huge gold purchases had raised suspicions that the bank was in fact a "secret nest egg" hidden in New York for Thyssen and other Nazi bigwigs. The Alien Property Commission (APC) launched an investigation.

There is no dispute over the fact that the US government seized a string of assets controlled by BBH - including UBC and SAC - in the autumn of 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy act. What is in dispute is if Harriman, Walker and Bush did more than own these companies on paper.

Erwin May, a treasury attache and officer for the department of investigation in the APC, was assigned to look into UBC's business. The first fact to emerge was that Roland Harriman, Prescott Bush and the other directors didn't actually own their shares in UBC but merely held them on behalf of Bank voor Handel. Strangely, no one seemed to know who owned the Rotterdam-based bank, including UBC's president.

May wrote in his report of August 16 1941: "Union Banking Corporation, incorporated August 4 1924, is wholly owned by the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. My investigation has produced no evidence as to the ownership of the Dutch bank. Mr Cornelis [sic] Lievense, president of UBC, claims no knowledge as to the ownership of the Bank voor Handel but believes it possible that Baron Heinrich Thyssen, brother of Fritz Thyssen, may own a substantial interest."

May cleared the bank of holding a golden nest egg for the Nazi leaders but went on to describe a network of companies spreading out from UBC across Europe, America and Canada, and how money from voor Handel travelled to these companies through UBC.

By September May had traced the origins of the non-American board members and found that Dutchman HJ Kouwenhoven - who met with Harriman in 1924 to set up UBC - had several other jobs: in addition to being the managing director of voor Handel he was also the director of the August Thyssen bank in Berlin and a director of Fritz Thyssen's Union Steel Works, the holding company that controlled Thyssen's steel and coal mine empire in Germany.

Within a few weeks, Homer Jones, the chief of the APC investigation and research division sent a memo to the executive committee of APC recommending the US government vest UBC and its assets. Jones named the directors of the bank in the memo, including Prescott Bush's name, and wrote: "Said stock is held by the above named individuals, however, solely as nominees for the Bank voor Handel, Rotterdam, Holland, which is owned by one or more of the Thyssen family, nationals of Germany and Hungary. The 4,000 shares hereinbefore set out are therefore beneficially owned and help for the interests of enemy nationals, and are vestible by the APC," according to the memo from the National Archives seen by the Guardian.

Red-handed

Jones recommended that the assets be liquidated for the benefit of the government, but instead UBC was maintained intact and eventually returned to the American shareholders after the war. Some claim that Bush sold his share in UBC after the war for $1.5m - a huge amount of money at the time - but there is no documentary evidence to support this claim. No further action was ever taken nor was the investigation continued, despite the fact UBC was caught red-handed operating a American shell company for the Thyssen family eight months after America had entered the war and that this was the bank that had partly financed Hitler's rise to power.

The most tantalising part of the story remains shrouded in mystery: the connection, if any, between Prescott Bush, Thyssen, Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC) and Auschwitz.

Thyssen's partner in United Steel Works, which had coal mines and steel plants across the region, was Friedrich Flick, another steel magnate who also owned part of IG Farben, the powerful German chemical company.

Flick's plants in Poland made heavy use of slave labour from the concentration camps in Poland. According to a New York Times article published in March 18 1934 Flick owned two-thirds of CSSC while "American interests" held the rest.

The US National Archive documents show that BBH's involvement with CSSC was more than simply holding the shares in the mid-1930s. Bush's friend and fellow "bonesman" Knight Woolley, another partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman in January 1933 warning of problems with CSSC after the Poles started their drive to nationalise the plant. "The Consolidated Silesian Steel Company situation has become increasingly complicated, and I have accordingly brought in Sullivan and Cromwell, in order to be sure that our interests are protected," wrote Knight. "After studying the situation Foster Dulles is insisting that their man in Berlin get into the picture and obtain the information which the directors here should have. You will recall that Foster is a director and he is particularly anxious to be certain that there is no liability attaching to the American directors."

But the ownership of the CSSC between 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and 1942 when the US government vested UBC and SAC is not clear.

"SAC held coal mines and definitely owned CSSC between 1934 and 1935, but when SAC was vested there was no trace of CSSC. All concrete evidence of its ownership disappears after 1935 and there are only a few traces in 1938 and 1939," says Eva Schweitzer, the journalist and author whose book, America and the Holocaust, is published next month.

Silesia was quickly made part of the German Reich after the invasion, but while Polish factories were seized by the Nazis, those belonging to the still neutral Americans (and some other nationals) were treated more carefully as Hitler was still hoping to persuade the US to at least sit out the war as a neutral country. Schweitzer says American interests were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Nazis bought some out, but not others.

The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world war.

Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of "state sovereignty".

Jan Lissmann, one of the lawyers for the survivors, said: "President Bush withdrew President Bill Clinton's signature from the treaty [that founded the court] not only to protect Americans, but also to protect himself and his family."

Lissmann argues that genocide-related cases are covered by international law, which does hold governments accountable for their actions. He claims the ruling was invalid as no hearing took place.

In their claims, Mr Goldstein and Mr Gingold, honorary chairman of the League of Anti-fascists, suggest the Americans were aware of what was happening at Auschwitz and should have bombed the camp.

The lawyers also filed a motion in The Hague asking for an opinion on whether state sovereignty is a valid reason for refusing to hear their case. A ruling is expected within a month.

The petition to The Hague states: "From April 1944 on, the American Air Force could have destroyed the camp with air raids, as well as the railway bridges and railway lines from Hungary to Auschwitz. The murder of about 400,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims could have been prevented."

The case is built around a January 22 1944 executive order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt calling on the government to take all measures to rescue the European Jews. The lawyers claim the order was ignored because of pressure brought by a group of big American companies, including BBH, where Prescott Bush was a director.

Lissmann said: "If we have a positive ruling from the court it will cause [president] Bush huge problems and make him personally liable to pay compensation."

The US government and the Bush family deny all the claims against them.

In addition to Eva Schweitzer's book, two other books are about to be published that raise the subject of Prescott Bush's business history. The author of the second book, to be published next year, John Loftus, is a former US attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the 70s. Now living in St Petersburg, Florida and earning his living as a security commentator for Fox News and ABC radio, Loftus is working on a novel which uses some of the material he has uncovered on Bush. Loftus stressed that what Prescott Bush was involved in was just what many other American and British businessmen were doing at the time.

"You can't blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did - bought Nazi stocks - but what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us today?" he said.

"This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich's defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted," said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg.

"The Union Banking Corporation was a holding company for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen," said Loftus. "At various times, the Bush family has tried to spin it, saying they were owned by a Dutch bank and it wasn't until the Nazis took over Holland that they realised that now the Nazis controlled the apparent company and that is why the Bush supporters claim when the war was over they got their money back. Both the American treasury investigations and the intelligence investigations in Europe completely bely that, it's absolute horseshit. They always knew who the ultimate beneficiaries were."

"There is no one left alive who could be prosecuted but they did get away with it," said Loftus. "As a former federal prosecutor, I would make a case for Prescott Bush, his father-in-law (George Walker) and Averill Harriman [to be prosecuted] for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They remained on the boards of these companies knowing that they were of financial benefit to the nation of Germany."

Loftus said Prescott Bush must have been aware of what was happening in Germany at the time. "My take on him was that he was a not terribly successful in-law who did what Herbert Walker told him to. Walker and Harriman were the two evil geniuses, they didn't care about the Nazis any more than they cared about their investments with the Bolsheviks."

What is also at issue is how much money Bush made from his involvement. His supporters suggest that he had one token share. Loftus disputes this, citing sources in "the banking and intelligence communities" and suggesting that the Bush family, through George Herbert Walker and Prescott, got $1.5m out of the involvement. There is, however, no paper trail to this sum.

The third person going into print on the subject is John Buchanan, 54, a Miami-based magazine journalist who started examining the files while working on a screenplay. Last year, Buchanan published his findings in the venerable but small-circulation New Hampshire Gazette under the headline "Documents in National Archives Prove George Bush's Grandfather Traded With the Nazis - Even After Pearl Harbor". He expands on this in his book to be published next month - Fixing America: Breaking the Stranglehold of Corporate Rule, Big Media and the Religious Right.

In the article, Buchanan, who has worked mainly in the trade and music press with a spell as a muckraking reporter in Miami, claimed that "the essential facts have appeared on the internet and in relatively obscure books but were dismissed by the media and Bush family as undocumented diatribes".

Buchanan suffers from hypermania, a form of manic depression, and when he found himself rebuffed in his initial efforts to interest the media, he responded with a series of threats against the journalists and media outlets that had spurned him. The threats, contained in e-mails, suggested that he would expose the journalists as "traitors to the truth".

Unsurprisingly, he soon had difficulty getting his calls returned. Most seriously, he faced aggravated stalking charges in Miami, in connection with a man with whom he had fallen out over the best way to publicise his findings. The charges were dropped last month.

Biography

Buchanan said he regretted his behaviour had damaged his credibility but his main aim was to secure publicity for the story. Both Loftus and Schweitzer say Buchanan has come up with previously undisclosed documentation.

The Bush family have largely responded with no comment to any reference to Prescott Bush. Brown Brothers Harriman also declined to comment.

The Bush family recently approved a flattering biography of Prescott Bush entitled Duty, Honour, Country by Mickey Herskowitz. The publishers, Rutledge Hill Press, promised the book would "deal honestly with Prescott Bush's alleged business relationships with Nazi industrialists and other accusations".

In fact, the allegations are dealt with in less than two pages. The book refers to the Herald-Tribune story by saying that "a person of less established ethics would have panicked ... Bush and his partners at Brown Brothers Harriman informed the government regulators that the account, opened in the late 1930s, was 'an unpaid courtesy for a client' ... Prescott Bush acted quickly and openly on behalf of the firm, served well by a reputation that had never been compromised. He made available all records and all documents. Viewed six decades later in the era of serial corporate scandals and shattered careers, he received what can be viewed as the ultimate clean bill."

The Prescott Bush story has been condemned by both conservatives and some liberals as having nothing to do with the current president. It has also been suggested that Prescott Bush had little to do with Averill Harriman and that the two men opposed each other politically.

However, documents from the Harriman papers include a flattering wartime profile of Harriman in the New York Journal American and next to it in the files is a letter to the financial editor of that paper from Prescott Bush congratulating the paper for running the profile. He added that Harriman's "performance and his whole attitude has been a source of inspiration and pride to his partners and his friends".

The Anti-Defamation League in the US is supportive of Prescott Bush and the Bush family. In a statement last year they said that "rumours about the alleged Nazi 'ties' of the late Prescott Bush ... have circulated widely through the internet in recent years. These charges are untenable and politically motivated ... Prescott Bush was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathiser."

However, one of the country's oldest Jewish publications, the Jewish Advocate, has aired the controversy in detail.

More than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some people, war can be a profitable business.

[ Source: The Guardian ]

Progressive vision failure: The real scandal of Bush’s Knesset speech

Sunday, 18 May 2008
 
There has been much throwing about of brains in the "progressosphere" about George W. Bush's shocking and unseemly injection of – gasp! – partisanship into his address to the Israeli Knesset the other day.  Evidently this was the first time in American history that a president has ever indulged in such un-statesmanlike behavior while gadding about in foreign parts. And what exactly did Bush do, what was this act of unprecedented moral and political depravity? Brace yourself: he made a remark that could be construed as an implied criticism of Barack Obama.

Now, it so happens that there was indeed a very grave and sinister scandal in Bush's appearance before the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding. But it had nothing to do with his witless ejaculation of that clapped-out right-wing trope of yore: the "Neville Chamberlain gambit," in which anyone who fails to evince sufficient eagerness to immediately obliterate Washington's designated enemy of the day is accused of "appeasement," paving the way for the next Hitler, etc. No; the real scandal lies elsewhere. But the fact that it was universally ignored, in favor of starchy outrage over the non-issue of Bush's remark, tells us a great deal about the clueless – and gutless – nature of so much of what passes for political dissent in America today.
 
I.
We will get to the genuine outrage shortly, but first let's cut through some of the starch. The reaction of Will Bunch, who writes the Attywood blog for the Philadelphia Daily News, is a good example of the overwrought reaction that greeted Bush's typically bug-eyed reading of the words that someone put on the autocue for him. This is the offending passage, which Bunch took from this CNN story:

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," said Bush, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

That's it. A tired, ludicrous, irrelevant and meaningless analogy, from the most unpopular president in American history –  a despised, pathetic wretch whose words sway no one beyond a fanatic minority of zealots – and a cynical, profit-seeking elite -- already committed to his murderous vision. The speech will have no impact whatsoever on the outcome of the presidential race. It tells us nothing that we don't already know about the Bush gang's lust for war with Iran, a nation the gang has long painted in the colors of Nazi Germany.

But because this pointless regurgitation contained a dig at the likely Democratic nominee, Bunch calls it an act of "political treason." In fact, in a truly remarkable – and to me genuinely shocking – outburst, he says that Bush's tweaking of Obama in the speech was actually worse than the Watergate scandal, the Iran-Contra scandal, and all of the Bush Regime's own depredations in the past seven years, including the "flagrant disregard for the Constitution, the launching of a 'pre-emptive' war on false pretenses, and discussions about torture and other shocking abuses inside the White House inner sanctum." All of this -- crime, deceit, mass murder in a war of aggression -- pales in comparison to Bush's Knesset speech, which Bunch calls "a new low that I never imagined was even possible."

I don't want to pick on Bunch. He seems like a nice guy, and he has worked hard over the years in detailing some of the outrages of the Bush Regime. But I must confess that I simply cannot comprehend the mindset that would lead to such a statement. Bush goading Obama in an overseas appearance is a "new low"? Worse than torture? Worse than unrestricted spying on the American people? Worse than the subversion of the electoral process in Watergate (not to mention the 2000 and 2004 campaigns)? Worse than running guns to the Iranian mullahs to help fund a terrorist insurgency in Nicaragua? Worse than aggressive war launched on false pretenses? Worse than a million people dead and more than four million driven from their homes? What kind of moral algebra could lead to such a conclusion? How could anything that Bush says at this point be worse than what he has already done?

Part of it stems,  I think, from the deeply ingrained and deeply self-righteous "American exceptionalism" that characterizes most "progressive" viewpoints. What we have here, first, is the temporary insanity that afflicts almost all partisans during an election year, in which the slightest perturbation on the American political scene far outweighs any other event in moral importance. Second, there is the upsurge of patriotic bunkum that arises during presidential campaigns, where partisanship so often wraps itself in the robes of a violated idealism.  Witness the quivering sanctimony of Bunch's indignation (and try not to let the humming chorus of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" – from, say, the soundtrack of "Doctor Strangelove" – drown out the prose as you read):

As a believer in free speech, I think Bush has a right to say what he wants, but as a President of the United States who swore to uphold the Constitution, his freedom also carries an awesome and solemn responsibility, and what this president said today is a serious breach of that high moral standard.

Of course, there are differences of opinion on how America should handle Iran, and that's why we're having an election here at home, to sort these issues out -- hopefully with respect and not with emotional and inaccurate appeals….[Here Bunch accurately describes the hypocrisy of Bush's remarks in respect to other American dealings with Libya and, indeed, Iran. Then the bunkum kicks into overdrive.]

But what Bush did in Israel this morning goes well beyond the accepted confines of American political debate. When the president speaks to a foreign parliament on behalf of our country, his message needs to be clear and unambiguous. Our democracy may look messy to outsiders, and we may have our disagreements with some sharp elbows thrown around, but at the end of the day we are not Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives.

We are Americans.

O, e pluribus unum! Let the mighty eagle soar! Yeah, we may mix it up a little bit, but at the end of the day we are all one, we are all….family.

One can only assume that Bunch has not been reading his own admirable pieces for the past several years. Or anything else for that matter. Throughout this entire decade, the public "debate" has been packed to the rafters with fierce excommunications of Bush regime critics as "un-American," not "real Americans," not "one of us," "traitors," "enemies"  and so on and so forth. (My own in-box has groaned with such messages for years. Indeed, if I had a dollar for every time I've been told by a fellow American that I am not their fellow American, I could probably run for president myself. At least for a week or two. I imagine that Bunch, writing for a much larger public platform, has gotten even more of this kind of  hysterical shunning.) Yet still the bunkum goes on:

And you, Mr. Bush, are the leader of us all. To use a diplomatic setting on foreign soil to score a cheap political point at home is way beneath your office, way beneath your country, and way beneath the people you serve. You have been handed an office once uplifted to great heights by fellow countrymen from Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Eisenhower, and have plunged it so deeply into the Karl-Rove- and-Rush-Limbaugh-fueled world of political destruction and survival of all costs that [you] have lost all perspective -- and all sense of decency. To travel to Israel and to associate a sitting American senator and your possible successor in the Oval Office with those who at one time gave comfort to an enemy of the United States is, in and of itself, an act of political treason.

"You, Mr. Bush, are the leader of us all." I can't say for sure, of course, but I would bet good money that not once in the last five years (if not longer) has Will Bunch ever felt in his heart, even for a nano-second, that Bush is "the leader of us all." I would imagine that Bunch, like any sentient being, has long considered Bush to be a willfully ignorant preppy thug who cheated his way into office, where he has gleefully spit and shat upon the Constitution, the rule of law and all human decency. And I know for a fact – from the very post examined here  – that Bunch considers Bush a war criminal who launched an act of aggression on false pretenses. So why does Bunch – and the other progressives shocked at Bush's speech – engage in false pretenses of their own? Why pretend that this bloodstained husk is some kind of legitimate figure, and be outraged when he fails to respect the niceties of some idealized vision of American politics, or lowers the "dignity of his office"?

And why engage in the same kind of historical ignorance that Bush's statement reeks of? Bunch says that Bush compared Obama to "those who at one time gave comfort to an enemy of the United States." Presumably, he is referring to Neville Chamberlain and others who negotiated with Hitler before the war. But Hitler was not "an enemy of the United States" until he declared war on America in December 1941, in fulfillment of his military pact with Japan. Thus anyone who held talks with Hitler prior to December 1941 was not "giving comfort to an enemy of the United States." Yes, I know Bunch is trying to turn Bush's own words against him, to say, "you call Obama an appeaser, but you are committing treason yourself!" But "appeasement," though it might be foolish or ineffectual in particular circumstances, is not treason. Nor did Bush claim it was. And for God's sake, criticizing a political opponent – even in the hallowed precincts of a foreign legislature – is not treason in any sense, not even metaphorically.

And speaking of historical ignorance, should we now take up the vast field of crime, folly, and "political destruction and survival at all costs" that has historically characterized the "dignity of the office" of president, which Bush has supposedly lowered? No; life is too short. Let's leave that fascinating topic aside for now and move on.

II.
As we said, at the core of the mindset represented by Bunch's post is a fierce partisanship disguised as idealism. To test this, let's perform a brief thought experiment. Imagine that Barack Obama, not George Bush, is president of the United States. Imagine that President Obama went to Israel and spoke to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the nation's founding. Imagine that upon that solemn occasion, President Obama spoke on this wise:

"Some seem to believe that violence, or the ever-present threat of violence, should always be at the forefront of our dealings with those nations with whom we have serious disagreements -- as if pointing a gun at someone's head is the best way to win hearts and minds," said Obama, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by presidential candidate John McCain and other Republicans for military action against Iran.

"But I believe we should follow the insights of that great statesman and military leader, Winston Churchill, who said: 'Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.' We have an obligation to pursue every possible avenue for peaceful resolution – and pursue them in good faith, with genuine commitment and unstinting effort – before we ever consider drawing the terrible sword of war. History teaches us the monstrous consequences of making violence a key instrument of national policy. We need only look at the unspeakable evils unleashed by Nazi Germany, or the agony today in Iraq, to see the cruel folly of opposing Churchill's abiding wisdom on this point."

What would Will Bunch and the progressosphere have said to such a speech? Would they have condemned Obama for "political treason," for lowering the dignity of his office by launching a "cheap" partisan dig at a domestic political opponent during a speech abroad? Would they shuddered with revulsion at his invocation of Nazi Germany for political purposes – in the Israeli parliament, of all places?

No, of course not. They would have praised his bold stance against the warmongers back home – and the warmongers in Israel. They would have hailed his subtle dig at McCain: "another brilliant example of the artful blending of political pragmatism and genuine idealism that has been a hallmark of Obama's presidency." They would have applauded his reference to World War II: "I doubt if a single member of the Knesset was left unmoved when Obama evoked the 'unspeakable evils' of Nazi Germany. I know there were tears in my eyes as I watched that portion of the speech on YouTube. That's precisely the kind of deep, learned historical perspective – tempered always with the human touch, the empathy toward others – that has made this president so unique." In short, they would have lauded such a speech, if the content and speaker had been different. It is certainly not the non-existent principle of non-partisan presidential decorum in foreign appearances that has so vexed them in this case.

Every time a president speaks on foreign soil – every single time, in every administration – there is a domestic political angle somewhere in the mix. Every time a president goes abroad and praises his own policies or viewpoints, he is attacking his domestic critics, either directly or by implication. There is nothing unusual or heinous about the practice; it is inevitable, and unavoidable, if a president says anything more than "Happy to be here" on a foreign visit. Even in the most idealized world of ever-dignified presidents representing a unified people who always put aside their sharp elbows and come together in the end, Bush's flaccid rhetoric at the Knesset would not represent a scandal or outrage of any kind.

III.
But the progressive hissy fit over Bush's speech has provided a massive distraction from the real scandal of his appearance before the Knesset, and his reference to Nazi Germany: the fact that this mass-murdering wager of aggressive war would not have been standing before the Knesset at all – if not for his own family's extensive, and profitable, role in the rise of the Nazi war machine. A role which continued not only after "Nazi tanks crossed into Poland" (where Bush family investments helped finance the concentration camp at Auschwitz) but even after Nazi forces were killing American troops in North Africa.

As Toby Rogers noted in his landmark 2002 piece for Clamor magazine, "Heir to the Holocaust," which pulled together the vast amount of documentary evidence of the Bush-Walker clan's intimate and instrumental connection to the Nazis:

According to classified documents from Dutch intelligence and US government archives, President George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush made considerable profits off Auschwitz slave labor. In fact, President Bush himself is an heir to these profits from the holocaust which were placed in a blind trust in 1980 by his father, former president George Herbert Walker Bush.

Throughout the Bush family's decades of public life, the American press has gone out of its way to overlook one historical fact – that through Union Banking Corporation (UBC), Prescott Bush, and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, along with [their business partner] German industrialist Fritz Thyssen, financed Adolf Hitler before and during World War II.

Rogers' article – and other pieces such as the stories published in 2003 by John Buchanan in the New Hampshire Gazette -- provide the devastating details of this sorry history, including the seizure of some of the Bush family's Nazi assets under the Trading With the Enemy Act in 1942 – and their subsequent pulling of elitist strings to keep these genuinely treasonous dealings out of the public eye….and even profit from them after the war, when the family and its partners were allowed to liquidate their share of the seized foreign assets:

Prescott Bush received $1.5 million for his share in UBC. That money enabled Bush to help his son, George Herbert Walker Bush, to set up his first royalty firm, Overby Development Company, that same year. It was also helpful when Prescott Bush left the business world to enter the public arena in 1952 with a successful senatorial campaign in Connecticut. On October 8th, 1972, Prescott Bush died of cancer and his will was enacted soon after.

In 1980, when George H.W. Bush was elected vice president, he placed his father's family inherence in a blind trust. The trust was managed by his old friend and quail hunting partner, William "Stamps" Farish III. Bush's choice of Farish to manage the family wealth is quite revealing in that it demonstrates that the former president might know exactly where some of his inheritance originated. Farish's grandfather, William Farish Jr., on March 25th, 1942, pleaded "no contest" to conspiring with Nazi Germany while president of Standard Oil in New Jersey. He was described by Senator Harry Truman in public of approaching "treason" for profiting off the Nazi war machine. Standard Oil, invested millions in IG Farben, who opened a gasoline factory within Auschwitz in 1940.

Farish had signed a deal with the Nazis on secret patents for synthesizing rubber. Hitler couldn't have gone to war without it. Even after America entered the war, Farish stood by his Nazi partners and refused to share these precious trade secrets with the U.S. government, despite the American military's dire need for rubber.

None of this means that Bush's grandfather was a Nazi. This is simply the way the American elite have always functioned. Ideology, morality, patriotism, law – all must give way to the relentless and ruthless pursuit of wealth, and the power and privilege and dominance wealth brings. Prescott Bush traded with the Nazis, even when they were killing Americans, because there was money in it. For the same reason, his son, Prescott Jr., has long been a leading figure in trading with the repressive communist regime in China (as have Dubya's brother Neil -- and Don Rumsfeld too, for that matter.). For the same reason, Prescott Senior's other son, George Herbert Walker Bush, and his son, George Walker Bush, have long had extensive and intimate business ties with the violent religious extremists in Saudi Arabia, and with a number of other tyrants throughout the Middle East and around the world.

It seems astonishing that in a media culture in which the slightest youthful peccadillo and most remote family history of a presidential candidate or office-holder are exhumed and examined in microscopic detail, the Bush family's documented and indisputable involvement in the rise of Hitler and his machine of aggressive war has never come to the attention of the general public. But because such truths expose the reality of the elites who control the commanding heights of American society – and give the bitter lie to bubbly effusions of American exceptionalism, to pious, comforting fantasies about unifying leaders of us all carrying out their awesome and solemn responsibilities with unshakeable dignity – they remain forever outside the purview of "serious" discourse. Anything that genuinely challenges the prevailing pieties that mask the murderous operations of empire and oligarchy must be ignored, or mocked, scorned and marginalized (as we have seen in the controversy over Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright). If in those very rare instances when the challenge is too powerful to be ignored or trivialized, then it must be physically destroyed, as in the case of Martin Luther King Jr. -- or even George Wallace, who presented a dangerous challenge to elite rule from the right (threatening the race-based "Southern strategy" of the Nixon campaign) and was eliminated from the national scene by the assassination attempt in 1972 which left him crippled.

The only scandal attendant on Bush's speech last week was the fact that this unrepentant beneficiary of Nazi blood money – who has himself aped the Nazis in his own policies of aggressive war, state terror and lawless authoritarianism -- was allowed to stand before a foreign legislature and prate about freedom and liberty and "fighting evil." And this is just part of a larger scandal: that he has been allowed to walk free among decent people without facing the slightest threat of justice for his crime, enjoying what is perhaps the chief privilege of his class – the immunity from all consequences of his malevolent actions.

But to the progressosphere, Bush's little indirect dig at Obama was far more scandalous than any of this; indeed, it was a "new low" in our national life. Of such tunnel-visioned self-delusion is our "progressive movement" made. Afraid to speak the truth, or unable to see it when it is in front of their eyes: no wonder the "progressives" have been unable to stop the Regime's monstrous crimes, or rally public support for impeachment, or turn the tide of national policy away from empire, dominion and injustice – a destructive tide that Obama, Clinton and McCain are happy to keep riding to their own positions of power, wealth and privilege.
 
[ Source: Empire Burlesque ]

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