1 - No Habeas Corpus for “Any Person”
Consortium, October 19, 2006
Title: “Who Is ‘Any Person’ in Tribunal Law?”
Author: Robert Parry

Consortium, February 3, 2007
Title: “Still No Habeas Rights for You”
Author: Robert Parry

Common Dreams, February 2, 2007
Title: “Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Restore the Most
American Human Right”
Author: Thom Hartmann

Student Researchers: Bryce Cook and Julie Bickel
Faculty Evaluator: Andrew Roth, Ph.D.

With the approval of Congress and no outcry from corporate media, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, ushered in military commission law for US citizens and non-citizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in the New York Times October 19, have given false comfort that we, as American citizens, will not be the victims of the draconian measures legalized by this Act - such as military roundups and life-long detention with no rights or constitutional protections - Robert Parry points to text in the MCA that allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship.


The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus rights for “any person” arbitrarily deemed to be an “enemy of the state.” The judgment on who is deemed an “enemy combatant” is solely at the discretion of President Bush.

The oldest human right defined in the history of English-speaking civilization is the right to challenge governmental power of arrest and detention through the use of habeas corpus laws, considered to be the most critical parts of the Carta Magna which was signed by King John in 1215.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist #84 in August of 1788:

The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus are perhaps greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it [the Constitution] contains. The practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious [British eighteenth-century legal scholar] Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital:

“To bereave a man of life” says he, “or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.”

While it is true that some parts of the MCA target non-citizens, other sections clearly apply to US citizens as well, putting citizens inside the same tribunal system with non-citizen residents and foreigners.

Section 950q of the MCA states that,

“Any person is punishable as a principal under this chapter [of the MCA] who commits an offense punishable by this chapter, or aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures its commission.”1

Section 950v.

“Crimes Triable by Military Commissions” (26) of the MCA seems to specifically target American citizens by stating that, “Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct.”1

“Who,” warns Parry, “has ‘an allegiance or duty to the United States’ if not an American citizen?”

Besides allowing “any person” to be swallowed up by Bush’s system, the law prohibits detainees once inside from appealing to the traditional American courts until after prosecution and sentencing, which could translate into an indefinite imprisonment since there are no timetables for Bush’s tribunal process to play out.

Section 950j of the law further states that once a person is detained,

“not withstanding any other provision of law (including section 2241 of title 28 or any other habeas corpus provision) no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions.”1

Other constitutional protections in the Bill of Rights, such as a speedy trial, the right to reasonable bail, and the ban on “cruel and unusual punishment,” would seem to be beyond a detainee’s reach as well.

Parry warns that, “In effect, what the new law appears to do is to create a parallel ‘star chamber’ system for the prosecution, imprisonment, and possible execution of enemies of the state, whether those enemies are foreign or domestic.

“Under the cloak of setting up military tribunals to try al-Qaeda suspects and other so-called unlawful enemy combatants, Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress effectively created a parallel legal system for ‘any person’ - American citizen or otherwise - who crosses some ill-defined line.”

In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales opined at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, 2007,

“The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended.”

More important than its sophomoric nature, Parry warns, is that Gonzales’s statement suggests he is still searching for arguments to make habeas corpus optional, subordinate to the President’s executive powers that Bush’s neoconservative legal advisers claim are virtually unlimited during “time of war.”


1. “Military Commissions Act of 2006” Public Law 109-366, 109th Congress.

See http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ366.109


The Consortium series on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 pointed out that the law’s broad language seems to apply to both US citizens and non-citizens, contrary to some reassuring comments in the major news media that the law only denies habeas corpus rights to non-citizens.


The law’s application to “any person” who aids and abets a wide variety of crimes related to terrorism - and the law’s provisions stripping away the jurisdiction of civilian courts - could apparently thrust anyone into the legal limbo of the military commissions where their rights are tightly constrained and their cases could languish indefinitely.

Despite the widespread distribution of our articles on the Internet, the major US news media continues to ignore the troubling “any person” language tucked in toward the end of the statute. To my knowledge, for instance, no major news organization has explained why, if the law is supposed to apply only to non-citizens, one section specifically targets “any person [who] in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States.” Indeed, the “any person” language in sections dealing with a wide array of crimes, including traditional offenses such as spying, suggests that a parallel legal system has been created outside the parameters of the US Constitution.

Since publication of the articles, the Democrats won control of both the House and Senate - and some prominent Democrats, such as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, have voiced their intent to revise the law with the goal of restoring habeas corpus and other rights. However, other Democrats appear hesitant, fearing that any attempt to change the law would open them to charges that they are “soft on terrorism” and that Republicans would torpedo the reform legislation anyway.


Outside of Congress, pro-Constitution groups have made reform of the Military Commissions Act a high priority. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union organized a national protest rally against the law. But the public’s lack of a clear understanding of the law’s scope has undercut efforts to build a popular movement for repeal or revision of the law.

To learn more about the movement to rewrite the Military Commissions Act, readers can contact the ACLU at https://secure.aclu.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=DOA_learn https://secure.aclu.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=DOA_learn.


On June 8, 2007 the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act on an 11-8 vote. If approved, the bipartisan bill, authored by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, will restore habeas rights that were taken away last year by the Military Commissions Act.


The bill will move to the full Senate for vote late June 2007.

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2 - Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
Toward Freedom , October 25, 2006
Title: “Bush Moves Toward Martial Law”
Author: Frank Morales

Student Researchers: Phillip Parfitt and Julie Bickel
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Merrifield, Ph.D.

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, which was quietly signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, the very same day that he signed the Military Commissions Act, allows the president to station military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.”

By revising the two-century-old Insurrection Act, the law in effect repeals the Posse Comitatus Act, which placed strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement.


The 1878 Act reads,

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

As the only US criminal statute that outlaws military operations directed against the American people, it has been our best protection against tyranny enforced by martial law - the harsh system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice. Historically martial law has been imposed by various governments during times of war or occupation to intensify control of populations in spite of heightened unrest. In modern times it is most commonly used by authoritarian governments to enforce unpopular rule.1

Section 333 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, entitled “Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law,” states that,

“the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service - to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of (or “refuse” or “fail” in) maintaining public order - in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.”

Thus an Act of Congress, superseding the Posse Comitatus Act, has paved the way toward a police state by granting the president unfettered legal authority to order federal troops onto the streets of America, directing military operations against the American people under the cover of “law enforcement.”

The massive Defense Authorization Act grants the Pentagon $532.8 billion to include implementation of the new law which furthermore facilitates militarized police round-ups of protesters, so-called illegal aliens, potential terrorists, and other undesirables for detention in facilities already contracted and under construction, (see Censored 2007, Story #14) and transferring from the Pentagon to local police units the latest technology and weaponry designed to suppress dissent.

Author Frank Morales notes that despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has been no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our elected officials in Congress.


On September 19, a lone Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that 2007’s Defense Authorization Act contained a,

“widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard [adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic order without the consent of the nation’s governors.”

A few weeks later, on September 29, Leahy entered into the Congressional Record that he had,

“grave reservations about certain provisions of the fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill Conference Report,” the language of which, he said, “subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law.”

This had been “slipped in,” Leahy said,

“as a rider with little study,” while “other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals.”

Leahy noted “the implications of changing the [Posse Comitatus] Act are enormous.”

“There is good reason,” he said, “for the constructive friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations. Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy. We fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the States, when we make it easier for the President to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty.”

Morales further asserts that “with the president’s polls at a historic low and Democrats taking back the Congress it is particularly worrisome that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator.”


1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law, “Martial Law,” May 2007


On April 24, 2007, Major General Timothy Lowenberg, the Adjutant General, Washington National Guard, and Director of the Washington Military Department, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on “The Insurrection Act Rider and State Control of the National Guard.” He was speaking in opposition to Section 1076 of the recently passed 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Bush quietly signed into law this past October 17.


The law clears the way for the President to execute martial law, commandeer National Guard units around the country and unilaterally authorize military operations against the American people in the event of an executive declaration of a “public emergency.”

This move toward martial law, which is intended to facilitate more effective counterinsurgency measures on the home front, took place, according to Lowenberg, “without any hearing or consultation with the governors and without any articulation or justification of need.” This, despite the fact that Section 1076 of the new law “changed more than one hundred years of well-established and carefully balanced state-federal and civil-military relationships.”


In other words, with one swipe of the pen, says the General,

“one hundred years of law and policy were changed without any publicly or privately acknowledged author or proponent of the change.”

Its “Federal Plans for Implementing Expanded Martial Law Authority” are to be executed via the recently created domestic military command, the Northern Command or NORTHCOM.

“One key USNORTHCOM planning assumption,” says Lowenberg, “is that the President will invoke the new Martial Law powers if he concludes state and/or local authorities no longer possess either the capability or the will to maintain order.”

In fact, this “highly subjective assumption,” as Lowenberg puts it, has been in the works for some time now.


According to the General, the,

“US Northern Command has been engaged for some time in deliberative planning for implementation of Section 1076 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization. The formal NORTHCOM CONPLAN 2502-05 was approved by Secretary of Defense Gates on March 15, 2007.”

Further, according to the General, the 2007 NDAA provisions “could be used to compel National Guard forces to engage in civil disturbance operations under federal control.”


In that case, NORTHCOM will effectuate its move to martial law, its “CONPLAN,” by way of its very own “civil disturbance plan,” Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Garden Plot.


Major Tom Herthel, of the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General School, recently laid out the Rules of Engagement & Rules for the Use of Force during the implementation of “GARDEN PLOT,” which according to Herthel, is,

”the plan to provide the basis for all preparation, deployment, employment, and redeployment of all designated forces, including National Guard forces called to active federal service, for use in domestic civil disturbance operations as directed by the President.”

Among other things, the “rules” allow for the use of lethal force during domestic “civil disturbance operations.”

That is why many are urging Congress to repeal Section 1076 of the 2007 NDAA through immediate enactment of Senate Bill 513. Introduced in February 2007, and sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill seeks to repeal, or as the Congress puts it,

“revive previous authority on the use of the Armed Forces and the militia to address interference with State or Federal law, and for other purposes,” through the “Repeal of Amendments made by Public Law 109-364-Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.”

It is critical that Senate Bill 513 becomes law, and that our popular struggle succeeds in beating back the President’s attempt to further codify the immoral and criminal seizure of state control via woefully ill-advised and dictatorial moves toward martial law and military rule.

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3 - AFRICOM - US Military Control of Africa’s Resources
MoonofAlabama.org 2/21/2007
Title: “Understanding AFRICOM”
Author: Bryan Hunt

Student Researcher: Ioana Lupu
Faculty Evaluator: Marco Calavita, Ph.D

In February 2007 the White House announced the formation of the US African Command (AFRICOM), a new unified Pentagon command center in Africa, to be established by September 2008. This military penetration of Africa is being presented as a humanitarian guard in the Global War on Terror. The real objective is, however, the procurement and control of Africa’s oil and its global delivery systems.

The most significant and growing challenge to US dominance in Africa is China. An increase in Chinese trade and investment in Africa threatens to substantially reduce US political and economic leverage in that resource-rich continent. The political implication of an economically emerging Africa in close alliance with China is resulting in a new cold war in which AFRICOM will be tasked with achieving full-spectrum military dominance over Africa.

AFRICOM will replace US military command posts in Africa, which were formerly under control of US European Command (EUCOM) and US Central Command (CENTCOM), with a more centralized and intensified US military presence.

A context for the pending strategic role of AFRICOM can be gained from observing CENTCOM in the Middle East. CENTCOM grew out of the Carter Doctrine of 1980 which described the oil flow from the Persian Gulf as a “vital interest” of the US, and affirmed that the US would employ “any means necessary, including military force” to overcome an attempt by hostile interests to block that flow.

It is in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa that the US military force is most rapidly increasing, as this area is projected to become as important a source of energy as the Middle East within the next decade. In this region, challenge to US domination and exploitation is coming from the people of Africa - most specifically in Nigeria, where seventy percent of Africa’s oil is contained.

People native to the Niger Delta region have not benefited, but instead suffered, as a result of sitting on top of vast natural oil and natural gas deposits. Nigerian people’s movements are demanding self-determination and equitable sharing of oil-receipts. Environmental and human rights activists have, for years, documented atrocities on the part of oil companies and the military in this region. As the tactics of resistance groups have shifted from petition and protest to more proactive measures, attacks on pipelines and oil facilities have curtailed the flow of oil leaving the region.


As a Convergent Interests report puts it,

“Within the first six months of 2006, there were nineteen attacks on foreign oil operations and over $2.187 billion lost in oil revenues; the Department of Petroleum Resources claims this figure represents 32 percent of ‘the revenue the country [Nigeria] generated this year.’”

Oil companies and the Pentagon are attempting to link these resistance groups to international terror networks in order to legitimize the use of the US military to “stabilize” these areas and secure the energy flow. No evidence has been found however to link the Niger Delta resistance groups to international terror networks or jihadists.


Instead the situation in the Niger Delta is that of ethnic-nationalist movements fighting, by any means necessary, toward the political objective of self-determination. The volatility surrounding oil installations in Nigeria and elsewhere in the continent is, however, used by the US security establishment to justify military “support” in African oil producing states, under the guise of helping Africans defend themselves against those who would hinder their engagement in “Free Trade.”

The December 2006 invasion of Somalia was coordinated using US bases throughout the region. The arrival of AFRICOM will effectively reinforce efforts to replace the popular Islamic Courts Union of Somalia with the oil industry – friendly Transitional Federal Government. Meanwhile, the persistent Western calls for “humanitarian intervention” into the Darfur region of Sudan sets up another possibility for military engagement to deliver regime change in another Islamic state rich in oil reserves.

Hunt warns that this sort of “support” is only bound to increase as rhetoric of stabilizing Africa makes the dailies, copied directly out of official AFRICOM press releases. Readers of the mainstream media can expect to encounter more frequent usage of terms like “genocide” and “misguided.” He notes that already corporate media decry China’s human rights record and support for Sudan and Zimbabwe while ignoring the ongoing violations of Western corporations engaged in the plunder of natural resources, the pollution other peoples’ homelands, and the “shoring up” of repressive regimes.

In FY 2005 the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative received $16 million; in FY 2006, nearly $31 million. A big increase is expected in 2008, with the administration pushing for $100 million each year for five years. With the passage of AFRICOM and continued promotion of the Global War on Terror, Congressional funding is likely to increase significantly.

In the end, regardless of whether it’s US or Chinese domination over Africa, the blood spilled will be African.


Hunt concludes,

“It does not require a crystal ball or great imagination to realize what the increased militarization of the continent through AFRICOM will bring to the peoples of Africa.”

Update by Bryan Hunt

By spring 2007, US Department of Energy data showed that the United States now imports more oil from the continent of Africa than from the country of Saudi Arabia. While this statistic may be of surprise to the majority, provided such information even crosses their radar, it’s certainly not the case for those figures who have been pushing for increased US military engagement on that continent for some time now, as my report documented.


These import levels will rise.

In the first few months following the official announcement of AFRICOM, details are still few. It’s expected that the combatant command will be operational as a subunit of EUCOM by October 2007, transitioning to a full-fledged stand-alone command some twelve months later. This will most likely entail the re-locating of AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany, where EUCOM is headquartered, to an African host country.

In April, US officials were traversing the continent to present their sales pitch for AFRICOM and to gauge official and public reaction. Initial perceptions are, not surprisingly, negative and highly suspect, given the history of US military involvement throughout the world, and Africa’s long and bitter experience with colonizers.

Outside of a select audience, reaction in the United States has barely even registered. First of all, Africa is one of the least-covered continents in US media. And when African nations do draw media attention, coverage typically centers on catastrophe, conflict, or corruption, and generally features some form of benevolent foreign intervention, be it financial and humanitarian aid, or stern official posturing couched as paternal concerns over human rights.


But US military activity on the continent largely goes unnoticed. This was recently evidenced by the sparse reporting on military support for the invasion of Somalia to rout the Islamic Courts Union and reinstall the unpopular warlords who had earlier divided up the country.


The Pentagon went so far as to declare the operation a blueprint for future engagements.

The DOD states that a primary component of AFRICOM’s mission will be to professionalize indigenous militaries to ensure stability, security, and accountable governance throughout Africa’s various states and regions. Stability refers to establishing and maintaining order, and accountability, of course, refers to US interests. This year alone, 1,400 African military officers are anticipated to complete International Military Education and Training programs at US military schools.

Combine this tasking of militarization with an increased civilian component in AFRICOM emphasizing imported conceptions of “democracy promotion” and “capacity-building” and African autonomy and sovereignty are quick to suffer. Kenyans, for example, are currently finding themselves in this position.

It is hoped that, by drawing attention to the growing US footprint on Africa now, a contextual awareness of these issues can be useful to, at the very least, help mitigate some of the damages that will surely follow. At the moment, there is little public consciousness of AFRICOM and very few sources of information outside of official narratives.


Widening the public dialogue on this topic is the first step toward addressing meaningful responses.

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4 - Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements
Oxfam International, March 2007
Title: “Singing Away The Future”

IPS coverage of Oxfam Report March 20, 2007
Title: “Free Trade Enslaving Poor Countries”
Author: Sanjay Suri

Student Researcher: Ann Marie O’Toole
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Ph.D.

The Oxfam report, “Signing Away the Future,” reveals that the US and European Union (EU) are vigorously pursuing increasingly destructive regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements outside the auspices of the WTO. These agreements are requiring enormous irreversible concessions from developing countries, while offering almost nothing in return.


Faster and deeper, the US and EU are demanding unprecedented tariff reductions, sometimes to nothing, as the US and EU dump subsidized agricultural goods on undeveloped countries (see story #21), plunging local farmers into desperate poverty. Meanwhile the US and EU provide themselves with high tariffs and stringent import quotas to protect their own producers. Unprecedented loss of livelihood, displacement, slave labor, along with spiraling degradation of human rights and environments are resulting as economic governance is forced from governments of developing countries, and taken over by unaccountable multinational firms.

During 2006, more than one hundred developing countries were involved in FTA or Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations.

“An average of two treaties are signed every week,” the report says, “Virtually no country, however poor, has been left out.”

Much of the recent debate and controversy over trade negotiations has revolved around the increasingly devastating trade-distorting practices of rich countries versus the developing countries’ needs for food security and industrial development. The new generation of agreements, however, extends far beyond this traditional area of trade policy - imposing a damaging set of binding rules in intellectual property, services, and investment with much deeper consequences for development and impacts on the poor.

Double standards in the intellectual-property rights chapters of most trade agreements are glaring. As new agreements limit developing countries’ access to patented technology and medicines - while failing to protect traditional knowledge - the public-health consequences are staggering.

  • The US-Colombia FTA is expected to reduce access to medicines by 40 percent

  • The US-Peru FTA is expected to leave 700,000 to 900,000 Peruvians without access to affordable medicines

US and EU FTAs also require the adoption of plant-breeder rights that remove the right to share seeds among indigenous farmers. The livelihood of the world’s poorest farmers is thus made even more vulnerable, while profit margins of the world’s largest agribusinesses continue to climb. US FTAs are now pushing for patents on plants, which will not only limit the rights of farmers to exchange or sell seeds, but also forbid them to save and reuse seed they have grown themselves for generations.


Under US FTAs including DR-CAFTA, US–Peru and US–Colombia FTAs, developing-country governments will no longer be able to reject a patent application because a firm fails to indicate the origin of a plant or show proof of consent for its use from a local community. As a result, communities could find themselves forced to pay for patented plant varieties based on genetic resources from their own soil.

New rules also pose a threat to essential services as FTAs allow foreign investors to take ownership of healthcare, education, water, and public utilities.
Investment chapters of new FTAs and BITs allow foreign investors to sue for lost profits, including anticipated future profits, if governments change regulations, even when such reforms are in the public interest. These rules undermine the sovereignty of developing nations, transferring power from governments to largely unaccountable multinational firms.


A growing number of investment chapters and treaties further tip the scales of justice by preventing governments from screening or regulating foreign investment - banning the use of all ‘performance requirements’ in all sectors including mining, manufacturing, and services.

More than 170 countries have signed international investment agreements that provide foreign investors with the right to turn immediately to international investor-state arbitration to settle disputes, without first trying to resolve the matter in national courts. Such arbitration fails to consider public interest, basing decisions exclusively on commercial law.

Not only is the legal basis for investment arbitration loaded against public interest, so are the proceedings. Despite the fact that many arbitration panels are hosted at the World Bank and the United Nations, the investment arbitration system is shrouded in secrecy. It is virtually impossible to find out what cases are being heard, let alone the outcome or rationale for decisions. As a result, there is no body of case decisions to inform governments of developing countries when drafting investments agreements.

Oxfam notes that the only group privy to this information is an increasingly powerful select group of commercial lawyers, whose fees often place them out of reach of developing-country governments. These lawyers, according to the Oxfam report, are eager to advise foreign investors regarding opportunities to claim compensation from developing countries under international investment agreements.

Strong opposition is growing to the political asymmetry inherent in these bilateral trade and investment agreements (see stories #8, #19, and #21). As Oxfam notes, “It is in nobody’s long-term interest to have a global economy that perpetuates social, economic, and environmental injustice.”


While real progress toward achieving a development-friendly outcome in the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round is still quite elusive, the negotiation of bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) that would undermine development continues at an unabated pace.

In the United States, the new Democratic leadership in Congress recently negotiated changes in the areas of labor, environment, and intellectual property in regard to access to medicines that are to be incorporated into the completed FTAs awaiting Congressional ratification.


If implemented as agreed, these changes would mean important progress in enforcing core International Labor Organization standards and multilateral environmental agreements, and in promoting public health over private profits by reducing onerous protections for pharmaceutical monopolies. Still, more must be done in these areas, and harmful provisions remain in several other areas that will adversely affect developing countries, particularly the poor.

Without further changes, the FTAs create a profoundly unfair situation in which the US provides massive domestic agricultural supports and subsidies that allow products to be exported below their cost of production, while developing country trading partners are left with no means of protection. With large portions of their populations dependent upon agriculture for their livelihoods, the FTAs provide no effective safeguard to protect poor farmers from unfair competition.


In addition, investment rules in the FTAs will hinder local and national governments from directing foreign investment so that it contributes to sustainable development. The investment chapter will give foreign companies leeway to challenge investment regulations, such as laws to protect the environment and public health. These and other provisions would deny developing countries the policy space needed to further their own development.

The US Administration hopes to bring FTAs with Peru, Panama, Colombia and Korea to a vote this year, although it remains doubtful whether there would be sufficient Congressional support to move the latter two. Congressional leadership is insisting that Colombia must also address its serious problems of violence and impunity, particularly as suffered by trade unionists, and has raised market-access concerns with regard to South Korea.

In a similar vein, the European Union has proceeded with FTA negotiations with African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries by pushing forward negotiating texts that will undermine the ability of poor countries to effectively govern their economies, protect their poorest people, improve livelihoods, and create new jobs.


Going beyond the provisions negotiated at a multilateral level, the EU is making requests that would impose far-reaching, hard-to-reverse rules in the areas of market access, agriculture, services and intellectual property. At the same time, the EU is proceeding to open formal negotiations with Central American countries for an FTA that would impose similar rules that undermine development.


A similar agreement with Andean countries is expected to follow, and plans have been announced to open negotiations with ASEAN, India, and South Korea. In all of these negotiations, the EU, like the US, is failing to put development first.

For more information, please see http://www.oxfamamerica.org.

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5 - Human Traffic Builds US Embassy in Iraq
CorpWatch, October 17, 2007
Title: “A US Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World’s Largest Embassy”
Author: David Phinney

Student Researcher: Kristen Kebler and Angela Purcaro
Faculty Evaluator: Andrew Roth, Ph.D.

The enduring monument to US liberation and democracy in Iraq will be the most expensive and heavily fortified embassy in the world - and is being built by a Kuwait contractor repeatedly accused of using forced labor trafficked from South Asia under US contracts. The $592 million, 104-acre fortress equal in size to the Vatican City is scheduled to open in September 2007. With a highly secretive contract awarded by the US State Department, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting has joined the ranks of Halliburton/KBR in Iraq by using bait-and-switch recruiting practices.


Thousands of citizens from countries that have banned travel or work in Iraq are being tricked, smuggled into brutal and inhumane labor camps, and subjected to months of forced servitude - all in the middle of the US-controlled Green Zone, “right under the nose of the US State Department.”

Though Associated Press reports that,

“The 5,500 Americans and Iraqis working at the embassy are far more numerous than at any other US mission worldwide,”1 there is no mention in corporate media of the 3,000 South Asian laborers working for contractors in dangerous and abysmal living and working conditions.

One such contractor is First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting. FKTC has procured several billion dollars in US construction contracts since the war began in March 2003. Much of its work is performed by cheap labor hired from South Asia. The company currently employs an estimated 7,500 foreign laborers in theaters of war.

American FKTC employees report having witnessed the issuance of false boarding passes to Dubai, and passport seizure from planeloads of South Asian workers, who were instead routed to war-torn Baghdad. Former US Embassy construction manager for FKTC, John Owen, disclosed to author David Phinney that the deception had all the appearance of smuggling workers into Iraq.

On April 4, 2006, the Pentagon issued a contracting directive following an investigation that officially confirmed that contractors in Iraq, many working as subcontractors to Halliburton/KBR, were illegally confiscating worker passports, using deceptive bait-and-switch hiring practices, and charging recruiting fees that indebted low-paid migrant workers for many months or even years to their employers.

Section 1. (U) of the Pentagon directive states,

“An inspection of contracting activities supporting DoD in Iraq revealed evidence of illegal confiscation of worker (Third Country National) passports by contractors/subcontractors; deceptive hiring practices and excessive recruiting fees, substandard worker living conditions at some sites, circumvention of Iraqi immigration procedures by contractors/subcontractors and lack of mandatory trafficking in persons awareness training. This FRAGO [fragmentary order] establishes responsibilities within MNF-1 for combating trafficking in persons.”

An April 19, 2006 memorandum from Joint Contracting Command in Baghdad to All Contractors again states that,

“Evidence indicates a widespread practice of withholding employee passports to, among other things, prevent employees ‘jumping’ to other employers. All contractors engaging in the above mentioned practice are directed to cease and desist in this practice immediately.”

The Pentagon has yet to announce, however, any penalty for those found to be in violation of US labor trafficking laws or contract requirements.

In a resignation letter dated June 2006, Owen told FKTC and US State Department officials that his managers at the US Embassy site regularly beat migrant workers, demonstrated little regard for worker safety, and routinely breached security. He also complained of poor sanitation, squalid living conditions and medical malpractice in labor camps where several thousand low-paid migrant workers, recruited from the Philippines, India, and Pakistan lived. Those workers, Owen noted, earned as little as $10 to $30 for a twelve-hour workday.

Rory Mayberry, a medic subcontracted to FKTC to attend construction crews at the Embassy, shares similar complaints about treatment of migrant laborers. In reports made available to the US State Department, the US Army, and FKTC, Mayberry called for the closure of the onsite medical clinic, listing dozens of serious safety hazards, unsanitary conditions, as well as routine negligence and malpractice. He furthermore called for an investigation into deaths that he suspected resulted from medical malpractice. Mayberry is not aware of any follow-up on his allegations.

Owen says that State Department officials supervising the US Embassy project are aware of abuse, but apparently do nothing. He recalls,

“Once when seventeen workers climbed the wall of the construction site to escape, a State Department official helped round them up and put them in virtual lockdown.”

Phinney says that more FKTC employees are stepping forward to say that Owen’s and Mayberry’s testimonies “only begin to scratch the surface” of the conditions workers are forced to endure in building this monument to US liberation and democracy in Iraq.


1. Associated Press, “New US Embassy in Iraq Cloaked in Mystery,” MSNBC, April 14, 2006.


When I first heard that Project Censored would recognize this story on the low-wage migrant laborers from South Asia building the US embassy in Baghdad, I admit I felt the story was a failure. Allegations of forced labor, lousy treatment of workers and beatings struck me as something that should rise to the level of torture at Abu Ghraib.


Despite what appears to be a whitewash review of the embassy project by the State Department Inspector General that exonerated the contractor - even though more than a dozen sources on the site say conditions were abysmal - I am now encouraged by a recent effort at the US Justice Department to investigate allegations of labor trafficking and other matters.


But the problem of labor abuse has been found to be “widespread” among contractors in the theater of war in Iraq. Unfortunately, not one contractor has been penalized - in fact, many are being rewarded with new US-funded contracts.


That is a crime to humanity that may haunt the United States for years to come.

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6 - Operation FALCON Raids
SourceWatch, November 18, 2006
Title: “Operation Falcon”
Author: Brenda J. Elliot

Ukernet, February 26, 2007
Title: “Operation Falcon and the Looming Police State”
Author: Mike Whitney

Student Researcher: Erica Haikara and Celeste Winders
Faculty Evaluator: Ron Lopez, Ph.D.

Under the code name Operation FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) three federally coordinated mass arrests occurred between April 2005 and October 2006. In an unprecedented move, more than 30,000 “fugitives” were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation’s history. The operations directly involved over 960 agencies (state, local, and federal) and were the brainchild of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and US Marshal’s Director Ben Reyna.


The DoJ supplied television networks government-shot action videotape of Marshals and local cops raiding homes and breaking down doors, “targeting the worst of the worst criminals on the run,” emphasizing suspected sex offenders. Yet less than ten percent of the total 30,150 were suspected sex offenders and less than two percent owned firearms.


The press has not asked, “Who were the others?”


And to date, the US Marshal’s office has issued no public statement as to whether the people arrested in Operation Falcon have been processed or released. Author Mike Whitney cautions that Attorney General Gonzales has little interest in the petty offenders who were netted in this extraordinary crackdown. This action is instead, he warns, a practice roundup in the move toward martial law.

Altogether, there were three FALCON Operations, each netting roughly 10,000 criminal suspects. Between April 4–10, 2005, FALCON I swept up 10,340 fugitives in the largest nationwide mass arrest (to that date) in American history.


Alberto Gonzalez proudly announced on April 15 through corporate media,

“Operation FALCON is an excellent example of President Bush’s direction and the Justice Department’s dedication to deal both with the terrorist threat and traditional violent crime. This joint effort shows the commitment of our federal, state, and local partners to make our neighborhoods safer, and it has led to the highest number of arrests ever recorded for a single initiative of its kind. We will use all of our Nation’s law enforcement resources to serve the people, to pursue justice, and to make our streets and Nation safer.”

Operation FALCON II, carried out the week of April 17–23, 2006, arrested another 9,037 individuals from twenty-seven states mostly west of the Mississippi River.


Operation FALCON III, conducted during the week of October 22–28, 2006, netted another 10,733 fugitives in twenty-four states east of the Mississippi River.

The US Marshals Service has not yet disclosed the names of the people arrested in these massive sweeps nor of what crimes they were accused. We have no way of knowing whether they were provided with due process of law, where they are now, or whether they have been abused while in custody.

SourceWatch contributors further ask for clarification,

“Although Attorney General Gonzales stated on April 15, 2005 that Operation FALCON was ‘an excellent example of President Bush‘s direction and the Justice Department’s dedication to deal both with the terrorist threat and traditional violent crime,’ where is the connection between the Operation FALCON roundups and catching terrorists? Why did police wait for federally orchestrated raids to arrest known sex offenders and suspected murders? Why were state and federal agencies integrated with local law enforcement to simply carry out routine police work?”

The media played an essential role in concealing the important details of the Operation. In fact, the non-critical “cookie cutter” articles which appeared in newspapers across the country suggest that the media may have collaborated directly with the Justice Department. (see Chapter 9, Fake News) Whitney notes that nearly identical “news” segments and articles put the best possible spin on a story that most Americans might find deeply disturbing, and perhaps frightening.

While mass militarized police roundups make little sense as a method of apprehending fugitives, the FALCON program does make sense as a means of effectively setting up a chain-of-command structure that radiates from the Justice Department and relocates the levers of control to Washington where they can be manned by members of the administration.


Whitney warns that the plan behind the FALCON program appears to have been devised to enhance the powers of the “unitary” executive by putting state and local law enforcement under federal supervision, ready for the institution of martial law (see story #2.)

Update by Mike Whitney

Operation FALCON presents the first time in US history that all of the domestic police agencies have been put under the direct control of the federal government. The implications for American democracy are quite profound.

Operation FALCON serves no purpose except to centralize power and establish the basic contours of an American police state. It is not an effective way of apprehending criminals.

For the most part, the media completely ignored FALCON. In fact, these extraordinary police-state sweeps did not elicit even one editorial or one column-inch of commentary from any journalist in the country. Following the government’s version of events, the story was simply brushed aside as trivial. For those who care to explore the media’s true role in undermining the fundamental rights of Americans; FALCON is probably a good place to begin. It illustrates how the media deliberately obscures facts that do not serve the overall interests of the state.

The last FALCON operation was carried out on October 28, 2006. Since then, the project has been put on “hold,” presumably until some time in the future when it will be reactivated by presidential decree. The precedents have now been established for law enforcement agencies across the nation to be taken over by the chief executive at a moment’s notice.


If there is another terrorist attack within the United States, or the outbreak of an epidemic, or a natural disaster on the scale of Hurricane Katrina; we can expect that President Bush will consolidate his power by asserting direct control over all of the various federal, state, and local police agencies. Eventually, we will see that FALCON was organized with that very purpose in mind.

Recent changes to the Insurrection Act of 1807 as well as to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 allow President Bush to declare martial law at his own discretion and to take control of the National Guard from the state governors. That means that Bush now has a complete monopoly on all the means of organized violence in the country.

With the aid of the corporate media and an alliance of far-right organizations, Bush has successfully removed all the traditional obstacles to absolute power. The groundwork has been laid for an American dictatorship. FALCON is just one small part of that much larger plan.


A more recent and less publicized sweep was made March 7, 2007, in Baltimore, with the arrest of about two hundred fugitives. The rationale for this sweep is more puzzling, perhaps, as it was the only city involved. This sweep received only local media attention.

Numerous questions, as stated in the Operation FALCON article, remain unanswered. The mainstream press does not appear to be interested in exploring beyond the initial sweep events.

Both House and Senate committees on the judiciary and government oversight are digging into DoJ operations due to the US attorney firings and politicization of the Department, with all roads leading to the White House. It is not unreasonable to expect that these sweeps may eventually come under investigation as well.

The mainstream press, to my knowledge, has not responded at all to my SourceWatch coverage of this story. The press coverage that Operation FALCON received appears to be limited to DoJ and USMS news releases with the addition of an occasional local interest story. Information on the fate of the 30,000 plus who were arrested is conspicuous by its absence.

Additional information on this story should be available from both the DoJ and USMS. In reality, it most likely will not be, as neither has provided any updates. The SourceWatch article will continue to be updated when or if additional information becomes available.

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7 - Behind Blackwater Inc.
Source: Democracy Now! January 26, 2007
Title: “Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush’s Undeclared Surge”
Author: Jeremy Scahill

Student Researcher: Sverre Tysl
Faculty Evaluator: Noel Byrne, Ph.D.

The company that most embodies the privatization of the military industrial complex - a primary part of the Project for a New American Century and the neoconservative revolution is the private security firm Blackwater.


Blackwater is the most powerful mercenary firm in the world, with 20,000 soldiers, the world’s largest private military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships, and a private intelligence division. The firm is also manufacturing its own surveillance blimps and target systems.

Blackwater is headed by a very right-wing Christian-supremist and ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, whose family has had deep neo-conservative connections. Bush’s latest call for voluntary civilian military corps to accommodate the “surge” will add to over half a billion dollars in federal contracts with Blackwater, allowing Prince to create a private army to defend Christendom around the world against Muslims and others.

One of the last things Dick Cheney did before leaving office as Defense Secretary under George H. W. Bush was to commission a Halliburton study on how to privatize the military bureaucracy. That study effectively created the groundwork for a continuing war profiteer bonanza.

During the Clinton years, Erik Prince envisioned a project that would take advantage of anticipated military outsourcing. Blackwater began in 1996 as a private military training facility, with an executive board of former Navy Seals and Elite Special Forces, in the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina. A decade later it is the most powerful mercenary firm in the world, embodying what the Bush administration views as “the necessary revolution in military affairs” - the outsourcing of armed forces.

In his 2007 State of the Union address Bush asked Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years.


He continued,

“A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer civilian reserve corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them.”

This is, however, precisely what the administration has already done - largely, Jeremy Scahill points out, behind the backs of the American people. Private contractors currently constitute the second-largest “force” in Iraq. At last count, there were about 100,000 contractors in Iraq, 48,000 of which work as private soldiers, according to a Government Accountability Office report.


These soldiers have operated with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints and are politically expedient, as contractor deaths go uncounted in the official toll. With Prince calling for the creation of a “contractor brigade” before military audiences, the Bush administration has found a back door for engaging in an undeclared expansion of occupation.

Blackwater currently has about 2,300 personnel actively deployed in nine countries and is aggressively expanding its presence inside US borders. They provide the security for US diplomats in Iraq, guarding everyone from Paul Bremer and John Negroponte to the current US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. They’re training troops in Afghanistan and have been active in the Caspian Sea, where they set up a Special Forces base miles from the Iranian border. According to reports they are currently negotiating directly with the Southern Sudanese regional government to start training the Christian forces of Sudan.

Blackwater’s connections are impressive. Joseph Schmitz, the former Pentagon Inspector General, whose job was to police the war contractor bonanza, has moved on to become the vice chairman of the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company, and the general counsel for Blackwater.

Bush recently hired Fred Fielding, Blackwater’s former lawyer, to replace Harriet Miers as his top lawyer; and Ken Starr, the former Whitewater prosecutor who led the impeachment charge against President Clinton, is now Blackwater’s counsel of record and has filed briefs with Supreme Court to fight wrongful death lawsuits brought against Blackwater.

Cofer Black, thirty-year CIA veteran and former head of CIA’s counterterrorism center, credited with spearheading the extraordinary rendition program after 9/11, is now senior executive at Blackwater and perhaps its most powerful operative.

Prince and other Blackwater executives have been major bankrollers of the President, of former House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, and of former Senator, Rick Santorum.


Senator John Warner, the former head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Blackwater, “our silent partner in the global war on terror.”

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Back to Blackwater




8 - KIA - The US Neoliberal Invasion of India
Democracy Now! December 13, 2006
Title: “Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the US-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India”
Author: Vandana Shiva with Amy Goodman

Global Research, October 9, 2006
Title: “Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India Take on Monsanto”
Author: Arun Shrivastava

Title: “Sowing Trouble: India’s ‘Second Green Revolution’”
Author: Suman Sahai

Student Researchers: Jonathan Stoumen and Michael Januleski
Faculty Evaluator: Phil Beard, Ph.D.

Farmers’ cooperatives in India are defending the nation’s food security and the future of Indian farmers against the neoliberal invasion of genetically modified (GM) seed.


As many as 28,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the last decade as a result of debt incurred from failed GM crops and competition with subsidized US crops, yet when India’s Prime Minister Singh met with President Bush in March 2006 to finalize nuclear agreements, they also signed the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), backed by Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and Wal-Mart.


The KIA allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, of its trade sector by giant agribusiness ADM and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart.

Though the contours of KIA have been kept so secret that neither senior Indian politicians nor the scientific community know its details, it is clear that Prime Minister Singh has agreed to sacrifice India’s agriculture sector to pay for US concessions in the nuclear field.

In one of very few public statements by a US government official regarding KIA, Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, states,

“While the civilian nuclear initiative has garnered the most attention, our first priority is to continue giving governmental support to the huge growth in business between the Indian and American private sectors. Singh has also challenged the United States to help launch a second green revolution in India’s vast agricultural heartland by enlisting the help of America’s great land-grant institutions.”

Vandana Shiva translates,

“These are twin programs about a market grab and a security alignment.”

Burns announced that while the nuclear deal is the cutting edge, what the US is really seeking is agricultural markets and real estate markets,

“to take over the land of people, not through a market mechanism, but using the state and an old colonial law of land acquisition to grab the land by force.”

Through KIA, Monsanto and the US have asked for unhindered access to India’s gene banks, along with a change in India’s intellectual property laws to allow patents on seeds and genes, and to dilute provisions that protect farmers’ rights. A combination of physical access to India’s gene banks and a possible new intellectual property law that allows seed patents will in essence deliver India’s genetic wealth into US hands. This would be a severe blow to India’s food security and self-sufficiency.

At the same time KIA has paved the way for Wal-Mart’s plans to open five hundred stores in India, starting in August 2007, which will compound the outsourcing of India’s food supply and threaten 14 million small family venders with loss of livelihood.

“This is not about ‘free trade,’” Shiva explains, “Today’s trade system, especially in agriculture, is dishonest, and dishonesty has become a war against farmers. It’s become a genocide.”

Farmers are, however, organizing to protect themselves against this economic invasion by maintaining traditional seed banks and setting up exemplary systems of community agrarian support.


In response to the flood of debilitating debt tied to GM/hybrid seeds and the toxic petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides these crops depend on, one woman in the small village of Palarum says,

“We do not buy seeds from the market because we suspect they may be contaminated with genetically engineered or terminator seeds.”

Instead village women save and trade hardy traditional seeds that have evolved over centuries to produce low-maintenance, nutritious “crops of truth.”

Each village in this rural area of India has formed its own community-based organization called a sangham. Seventy-two sanghams are part of a regional federation. These sanghams form an informal social security network that, through the maintenance of seed banks, will come to the rescue of individuals or entire villages in times of crop failure. Every member of the community has access to food and is assured of some work even if landless. The federation furthermore trains students in skills such as carpentry, computing, pottery, bookbinding, veterinary science, herbal medicine, sewing, farming, waste management, and agro-forestry.

Author Arun Shrivastava comments that,

“These seventy-two villages were once horizontally and vertically stratified along caste, class, and religious lines. Food scarcity was endemic, people were malnourished, the majority worked as unskilled day wagers. Today they are cohesive, interdependent. I did not see one malnourished person. Rarely do people go to urban centers to seek work.”

Shrivastava continues,

“The community is the most important entity that can help us ensure food and nutrition security. The right of access to natural resources - land, rivers, forests, air, and everything that Nature has given us, including seeds, is the fundamental right of the communities, not of the corporations or the state or the individual. No corporation has the right to expropriate what Nature gave us.”

Professor of genetics Suman Sahai concludes,

“India must be cautious that it does not become the dumping ground for a technology and its controversial products that have been rejected in many parts of the world and whose safety and usefulness remain questionable. Food security is an integral part of national security. All India’s efforts in the nuclear arena to shore up its national security goals will be undermined if it allows itself to become insecure in the matter of food.”


1. Nicholas Burns, “‘Heady Times’ For India And the US,” Washington Post, April 29, 2007.

UPDATE BY Arun Shrivastava

Nature has given us seeds and ‘crops of truth’ that do not require any tending but give us nutrition at no or low-cost. This knowledge needs to be rapidly disseminated; soon our lives may depend on it.

With current farming and food distribution systems it takes ten calories of fossil fuel energy to transport one calorie of food from farm to fork. That is unsustainable now; the era of cheap oil is effectively finished. Since we are already past peak oil, we all must learn to ensure food and nutrition security for our family and community. We will have to learn basic skills like conserving seeds, growing nutritious food, and medicinal crops without chemicals and machines. We will need more cohesive and interdependent local communities, like the women of Zaheerabad have shown.

The women of Zaheerabad save seeds in community-held seed banks and grow nutrition-dense food through a system that ensures health and livelihood for all. They have established how self-sufficient, sustainable communities might live in a post-carbon world.

A handful of multi-national corporations are patenting seeds. These genetically modified (GM) seeds neither increase yield nor reduce costs nor enhance nutritive content of foods, nor reduce dependence on oil. The seeds of deception have destroyed farmers in India, the US, and elsewhere.

Patenting ensures monopoly control while subverting farmers’ right to save seeds; it is antithetical to natural rights of local communities. The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture covertly seeks to gain access and control over community-held seeds.

Since publication of the article, Deccan Development Society (DDS) has extended the model to twenty-six more villages but the community FM radio station remains silent.

At People’s SAARC (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation) summit in Kathmandu (March 2007) participants voted for a “GM-free South Asia,” community control over seeds and protection of South-Asian biodiversity. Over six million farmers requested the Supreme Court of India (April 2007) to ban open field trials of GM seeds because of the dangers of irreversible contamination of community-held seeds and adverse impact on health.

The mainstream media is silent. They don’t have space for disseminating information that will save us from disease and starvation. These are unglamorous issues.

For more information on growing crops of truth and the need for a new social order, the following are ideal sources:

1. The Web site of Deccan Development Society (DDS), initiator and facilitator of the sanghams, is http://www.ddsindia.com/www/default.asp.  Contact PV Satheesh, Director of Zaheerabad Project.

2. Beej Bachao Andolan (BBA, Save the Seeds Movement) is a well-known movement of farmers who save traditional seeds of the Himalayan region. Contact Biju Negi, negi.biju@gmail.com

3. For information on growing food for health and personal freedom, go to www.soilandhealth.org.

4. For information on threats posed by multinational seeds firms, go to www.gmwatch.org and www.mindfully.org.

5. The Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey Smith discusses how GM foods, introduced in the US in 1993 without proper biosafety assessment, endanger our health. It is available at www.seedsofdeception.com.


See also the research of Dr. Irina Ermakova at http://irina-ermakova.by.ru/eng/articles.html/, and of Dr. Arpad Pusztai: http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/a.pusztai/

6. “Heartless in the Heartland” is the ghastly story of how Monsanto blackmailed US farmers not to save their seeds. See www.mindfully.org.

7. For an excellent summary, watch The Future of Food, a documentary by Deborah Koons Garcia, from http://www.lilyfilms.com/



The Future of Food



THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind

the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.


8. For discussions on peak oil and food security, see Richard Heinberg’s Fifty Million Farmers, published on November 17, 2006, available at http://www.energybulletin.net/22584.html. Also visit the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, managed by Dr. Colin Campbell, one of world’s leading oil experts, at http://www.peakoil.net

9. My two recent papers also shed light on the subject: “The attack on our seeds,” a related article published by Farmer’s Forum in India (contact the editor at bksnd@airtelbroadband.in), and “The Silent War on the People of India,” which can be found at http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/cgi-bin/blogs/voices.php/2007/03/22/the_silent_war_on_the_people_of_india .  

UPDATE BY Vandana Shiva

The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture impacts 650 million farmers of India and 40 million small retailers and it is redefining the relationships between people in the two biggest democracies in the world.

A new movement on retail democracy has begun in India that is bringing together small shopkeepers, street hawkers, trade unions and farmers unions. On August 9, 2007, which is Quit India Day, the movement will be organizing actions across the country telling Wal-Mart to leave India.

For more information, visit our website at www.navdanya.org.

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9 - Privatization of America’s Infrastructure
Mother Jones, February 2007
Title; “The Highwaymen”
Author: Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway

Human Events, June 12,2006
Title: “Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway”
Author: Jerome R. Corsi

Student Researcher: Rachel Icaza and Ioana Lupu
Faculty Evaluator: Marco Calavita, Ph.D.

We will soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers, and Spanish contractors for the privilege of driving on American roads, as more than twenty states have enacted legislation allowing public-private partnerships to build and run highways. Investment firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the Carlyle Group are approaching state politicians with advice to sell off public highway and transportation infrastructure.


When advising state officials on the future of this vital public asset, these investment firms fail to mention that their sole purpose is to pick up infrastructure at the lowest price possible in order to maximize returns for their investors. Investors, most often foreign companies, are charging tolls and insisting on “noncompete” clauses that limit governments from expanding or improving nearby roads.

In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which called for the federal and state governments to build 41,000 miles of high-quality roads across the nation, over rivers and gorges, swamps and deserts, over and through vast mountain ranges, in what would later be called the “greatest public works project in human history.” Eisenhower considered the interstate highway system so vital to the public interest that he authorized the federal government to assume 90 percent of the massive cost.

Fifty years later, states are selling off our nation’s enormous, and aging, infrastructure to private investors. Proponents are celebrating these transactions as a no-pain, all-gain way to off-load maintenance expenses and increase highway-building funds without raising taxes. Opponents are lambasting these plans as a major turn toward handing the nation’s valuable common asset over to private firms whose fidelity is to stockholders - not to the public transportation system or the people who use it.

On June 29, 2006, Indiana’s governor Mitch Daniels announced that Indiana had received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) of Australia. In exchange the state handed over operation of a 157-mile Indiana toll road for the next seventy-five years. With the consortium collecting the tolls, which will eventually rise far higher, the privatized road should generate $11 billion for MIG-Cintra over the course of the contract.

In September 2005, Daniels solicited bids for the project, with Goldman Sachs serving as the state’s financial adviser - a role that would net the bank a $20 million advisory fee. When Goldman Sachs, one of the nation’s most active and most profitable investment banks, with deep connections to Washington, began advising Indiana on selling its toll road, it failed to mention the fact that, even as it was advising Indiana on how to get the best return, its Australian subsidiary’s mutual funds were ratcheting up their positions in MIG - becoming de facto investors in the deal.

Many are suspicious that governors like Daniels across the nation are taking questionable advice from corporate investment banks - and from Washington.
Despite public concerns, privatization of US transportation infrastructure has the full backing of the Bush administration.


Tyler Duvall, the US Department of Transportation’s assistant secretary for transportation policy, says the DoT has raised the idea with “almost every state” government and is working on sample legislation that states can use for such projects. Across the nation, there is now talk of privatizing the New York Thruway to the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey turnpikes, as well as of inviting the private sector to build and operate highways and bridges from Alabama to Alaska.

In Texas, Governor Rick Perry still refuses to release details of a $1.3 billion contract his administration signed with Cintra for a forty-mile toll road from Austin to Seguin, or of an enormous $184 billion proposal to build a 4,000-mile network of toll roads through Texas.

It is known, however, that the Bush administration is quietly advancing the plan to build a huge ten-lane NAFTA Super Highway through the heart of the US along Interstate 35, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minnesota, financed largely through public-private partnerships. The Texas Department of Transportation will oversee the Trans-Texas Corridor as the first leg of the NAFTA Super Highway, which will be leased to the Cintra consortium as a privately operated toll road. Construction is slated to begin in 2007.

Authors Daniel Schulman and James Ridgeway warn that, just as the creation of a National Highway system promised to “change the face of America,” in Eisenhower’s words, so too could its demise.


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Return to The North America Union





10 - Vulture Funds Threaten Poor Nations’ Debt Relief
BBC Newsnight, February 14, 2007
Title: “Vulture Fund Threat to Third World”
Author: Greg Palast with Meirion Jones

Student Researcher: Jenifer German
Faculty Evaluator: Robert Girling, Ph.D.

Vulture funds, otherwise known as “distressed-debt investors,” are undermining UN and other global efforts to relieve impoverished Third World nations of the debt that has burdened them for many decades.

Vulture funds are financial organizations that buy up debts that are near default or bankruptcy. The vulture fund will pay the original investor pennies on the dollar for the debt and then approach the debtor to arrange a better repayment on the loan, or will go after the debtor in court.

In the private financial world, these funds, like the birds they are named for, provide a useful function for investors who are unable to follow up on defaulted debts and are themselves facing financial ruin if the debtor reneges entirely.

Under normal circumstances, distressed-debt investing - like day trading - is risky business. It is a gamble and the company knows that going in. The vulture fund may get nothing for its investment if the debtor continues to default and has no assets to attach. However, if there is still meat on the bones (the debtor has considerable assets to liquidate) the vulture fund can make millions.

A problem has arisen in recent years, however, as vulture funds have begun inserting themselves into an increasingly globalized “free market” - where no distinction is made between an irresponsible and defaulted company and a destitute and impoverished nation.

In the case of nations, the actions of vulture funds are corrupting the process begun in 1996 to provide debt relief for Third World nations struggling to emerge from the heavy debt laid upon them by previous corrupt rulers and colonial masters.

In one recent case, the poverty-stricken nation of Zambia was negotiating with Romania to reduce a $40 million debt still owed from a 1979 loan to buy Romanian tractors. In 1999, Romania had agreed to liquidate the entire loan for $3 million. Zambia planned to use the debt cancellation to invest in much-needed nurses, teachers, and basic infrastructure.


Just before the deal was finalized however, investors at the England-based vulture fund Donegal International convinced the Romanian government to sell them the loan for just under $4 million - not much more than Zambia had offered. Donegal then turned around and sued Zambia (where the average wage is barely a dollar a day) for the full $40 million.

Throughout the lawsuit, global NGOs have pleaded with the English High Court to void the new contract and allow Zambia to honor the original agreement of $3 million. But on February 15, 2007, an English court ruled that Donegal was entitled to much of what it was seeking - at least $15 million, perhaps more.1
In a last desperate plea, global NGOs working to relieve Third World debt (such as Oxfam and the Jubilee Debt Campaign) turned to Donegal directly, asking them to forgive the debt.


Donegal knows that, as a national entity, even a cash-poor country like Zambia has access to considerable resources; in this case copper, cobalt, gem stones, coal, uranium, marble, and much more. Public works and other civic improvement projects can also be liquidated.

Also, Donegal has no history of mercy toward impoverished nations. In 1996 it paid $11 million for a discounted Peruvian debt and threatened to bankrupt the country unless they paid $58 million. Donegal got its money. Now they’re suing Congo Brazzaville for $400 million for a debt they bought for $10 million.


Donegal and other vulture funds have teams of lawyers combing the world for assets that can be seized.

Even worse, many of these vulture funds have influential ties to powerful world leaders like the Bush administration. The risk normally faced by distressed-debt investors is virtually eliminated when they have political influence that is greater than the poor nation they are suing. They raise most of their money through legal actions in US courts, where lobbying and political contributions hold influence. And many vulture fund CEOs have close links to top officials both in the US and England.

President Bush has the power to block collection of debts by vulture funds, either individual ones or all of them, if he considers it to be at odds with US foreign policy - in this case debt relief for poor countries.2


According to Congressman John Conyers,

“It’s our position that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the comity doctrine brought from our constitution allows the president to require the courts defer in individual suits against foreign nations. And so, we’re conducting a couple of things. First of all, we want to know where these practices are going on at the present time, and, two, how we can get this information to President Bush so that he can, as he indicated to us, stop it immediately.”3

Chancellor Gordon Brown, now the prime minister of England, calls the vulture funds perverse and immoral. Oxfam and Jubilee have urged the chancellor to use his influence as chair of the International Monetary Fund’s key decision-making committee to make sure that new regulations are devised that prevent private companies from bypassing international debt rules and pursuing debts from very poor countries.


1. Ashley Seager, “Court Lets Vulture Fund Claw Back Zambian Millions,” The Guardian, February 16, 2007.
2. Ashley Seager, “Bush Could Block Debt Collection by ‘Vulture’ Funds,” Guardian Unlimited, February 22, 2007.
3. “Conyers Confronts Bush On Vulture Bonds,” an interview with Democracy Now!, February 16, 2007.

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11 - The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan
Tomdispatch.com, August 27, 2006
Title: “Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan”
Author: Ann Jones

CorpWatch, October 6, 2006
Title: “Afghanistan Inc: a CorpWatch Investigative Report”
Author: Fariba Nawa

Student Researchers: Madeline Hall and Julie Bickel
Faculty Evaluator: James Dean, Ph.D.

A report issued in June 2005 by the non-profit organization Action Aid reveals that much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations. “Phantom aid” that never shows up in the recipient country is a scam in which paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent, American “experts” under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts.


Additionally, 70 percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully “tied” to the donor nation, requiring that the recipient use the donated money to buy products and services from the donor country, often at drastically inflated prices. The US far outstrips other nations in these schemes, as Action Aid calculates that 86 cents of every dollar of American aid is phantom.

Authors Ann Jones and Fariba Nawa suggest that in order to understand the failure and fraud in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, it is important to look at the peculiar system of American aid for international development. International and national agencies - including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and USAID, that traditionally distribute aid money to developing countries - have designed a system that is efficient in funneling money back to the wealthy donor countries, while undermining sustainable development in poor states.

A former head of USAID cited foreign aid as “a key foreign policy instrument” designed to help countries “become better markets for US exports.” To guarantee that mission, the State Department recently took over the aid agency. USAID and the Army Corps of Engineers now cut in US business and government interests from the start, making sure that money is allocated according to US economic, political, strategic, and military priorities, rather than according to what the recipient nation might consider important.

Though Afghans have petitioned to allocate aid money as they find appropriate, donor countries object, claiming that the Afghan government is too corrupt to be trusted. Increasingly frustrated and angry Afghan communities meanwhile claim that the no-bid, open-ended contracts being awarded to contractors such as Kellogg, Brown, and Root/Halliburton, DynCorp, Blackwater, and the Louis Berger Group are equivalent to licensed bribery, corruption, theft, and money laundering.

The Karzai government, confined to a self-serving American agenda, has delivered little to the average Afghan, most of whom still live in abject poverty. Western notions of progress evident in US-contracted hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls full of new electronic gadgets and appliances are beyond the imaginations or practicalities of 3.5 million war torn Afghan citizens who are without food, shelter, sewage systems, clean water or electricity.

Infrastructure hastily built with shoddy materials and no knowledge or respect for geologic or climatic conditions is culminating in one expensive failure after another. USAID’s website, for example, boasts of its only infrastructure accomplishment in Afghanistan - the Kabul-Kandahar Highway - a narrow and already crumbling highway costing Afghanis $1 million a mile.


The highway was featured in the Kabul Weekly newspaper in March 2005 under the headline, “Millions Wasted on Second-Rate Roads.” The article notes that while other bids from more competent construction firms came in at one-third the cost, the contract went to the Louis Berger Group, a firm with tight connections to the Bush administration - as well as a notorious track record of other failed and abandoned construction projects in Afghanistan.

Former Minister of Planning, Ramazan Bashardost, complained that when it came to building roads, the Taliban had done a better job.

“And,” he also asked, “Where did the money go?”

Now, in a move certain to lower President Karzai’s approval ratings and further diminish US popularity in the area, the Bush administration has pressured Karzai to turn this “gift from the people of the United States” into a toll road, charging each driver $20 for a road-use permit valid for one month. In this way, according to American “experts” providing highly paid technical assistance, Afghanistan can collect $30 million annually from its impoverished citizens and thereby decrease the foreign aid “burden” on the United States.

Jones asks,

“Is it any wonder that foreign aid seems to ordinary Afghans to be something only foreigners enjoy?”

UPDATE BY Fariba Nawa

Afghanistan, Inc. is a thirty-page report that digs deep into the corruption involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The report focuses on US government-funded companies contracted to rebuild Afghanistan. The importance of this report is that it’s the first serious look at corruption of aid money spending from a grassroots level. It includes an emphasis on various projects in villages and the cities and it covers all sides of the issue. It shows how big money is spent on bad work.

The report was first published in English through CorpWatch, a watchdog of corporations, on May 2, 2006. It was translated into the Persian languages of Dari and Pashto in September 2006. The companies investigated in the report continue to receive millions of dollars in contracts from the US government despite their incompetence and wasteful spending. Louis Berger, Bearing Point, Chemonics, and DynCorp are still taking American taxpayers’ money and showing minimum results in Afghanistan.

Some of the mainstream press gave the report coverage, including NPR’s Morning Edition, KRON Channel 4 news in San Francisco when it was first published, and later on, BBC radio and many other European outlets continue to call and ask the author about the report. However, that’s a limited response to the fact that this was a groundbreaking report with important information for policy change. The report has been a source for many others researching the subject. If you’d like more information on corruption on reconstruction in Afghanistan, please refer to CorpWatch’s website www.corpwatch.org.


Integrity Watch Afghanistan is another organization that monitors corruption in the country and produces various reports.



Nine months later the conundrum I described - no peace, no security, no development - still pertains, and Afghan hopes sour.

The US still looks for a military solution. In the first five months of 2007, seventy-five coalition troops were killed (compared to fifty-three in the same period last year), including thirty-eight Americans. Civilian casualties were variously reported - some sources said “almost 1,800” - including 135 killed by US or NATO forces.

The US position on military “progress” against the Taliban, expressed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on June 4, 2007, as he prepared to visit Afghanistan, remained “guarded optimism.” Gates told reporters a goal of his trip was to insure close coordination of combat operations and development and reconstruction efforts. That’s a switch, suggesting some clue that reconstruction may be a better way to “kill” the Taliban, but leaving unanswered the question of how to coordinate war and peaceful activity.

The real importance of “Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan” lies behind the front page military coverage - in what it reveals of the systemic scams and should-be scandals of American aid. The story makes news now and then when billions “disappear” from reconstruction projects in Iraq, but to my knowledge it has yet to be investigated by media or congress. What’s discussed is the occasional budgetary black hole that suggests some random malfeasance, in much the same way that torture at Abu Ghraib was discussed as the work of a few “bad apples.”

Maybe reporters don’t want to take up the story because it’s complicated. It’s about numbers. Like Enron. Dreary, ho-hum, life-shattering stuff. I don’t know. But one curious thing: when my book Kabul in Winter appeared in 2006, a very long section on this topic was the one part no reviewer touched.

Now bigger voices than mine speak out. Abdullah Abdullah, the distinguished former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, recently complained that of every $100,000 promised to Afghan development, less than a third reaches the country.


Matt Waldman, head of Afghanistan policy for Oxfam, one of the most respected humanitarian NGOs in the world, wrote in The Guardian (May 26, 2007) that,

“America is bankrolling Afghanistan” but “as in Iraq, a vast proportion of aid is wasted.”

And more to the point,

“Close to half of US development assistance goes to the five biggest US contractors in the country.”

Waldman argues that too much aid money is lost to high salaries and living costs of international experts, purchase of non-Afghan resources, and corporate profits. He figures the cost of the average expat (read “American”) expert at half a million dollars a year.

So why is it left to representatives of foreign governments, foreign humanitarian organizations, and foreign press to expose this fraud?

To keep up with news about Afghanistan see news@afghanistannewscenter.com, a daily roundup of stories from the world’s English language press. For policy issues see the Web site of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation (www.cic.nyu.edu) or that of the Center’s senior fellow and Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin (brr5@nyu.edu). To keep an eye on the corridors of power see the website of the Center for Public Integrity (www.publicintegrity.org), and specifically for information on corporate scams see www.corpwatch.org.

Journalists should also be advised that several professional organizations are protesting the increasing difficulty of covering Afghanistan because of interference by US, Afghan, and ISAF forces. They include IFJ (International Federation of Journalists), AIJA (Afghan Independent Journalists Association), and CPAJ (Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists).


Currently Afghan journalists are also boycotting the Afghan Wolesi Jirga (lower house of Parliament) to protest its enactment of repressive media laws and the consequent imprisonment of journalists.


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12 - Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops
HaitiAction.net, January 21, 2007
Title: “UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre”
Authors: Haiti Information Project

Inter Press Service
Title: “Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege”
Authors: Wadner Pierre and Jeb Sprague

Student Researcher: William Leeming
Faculty Evaluator: Dianne Parness

Eyewitness testimony confirms indiscriminate killings by UN forces in Haiti’s Cité Soleil community on December 22, 2006, reportedly as collective punishment against the community for a massive demonstration of Lavalas supporters in which about ten thousand people rallied for the return of President Aristide in clear condemnation of the foreign military occupation of their country.


According to residents, UN forces attacked their neighborhood in the early morning, killing more than thirty people, including women and children. Footage taken by Haiti Information Project (HIP) videographers shows unarmed civilians dying as they tell of extensive gunfire from UN peacekeeping forces (MINUSTAH).

A hardened United Nations strategy became apparent days after the demonstration, when UN officials stated they were entering Cité Soleil to capture or kill gangsters and kidnappers. While officials of MINUSTAH have admitted to “collateral damage,” in the raids of December 2006, they say they are there to fight gangsters at the request of the René Préval government.

But many residents and local human rights activists say that scores of people having no involvement with gangs were killed, wounded, and arrested in the raids.
Although MINUSTAH denied firing from helicopter gunships, HIP captured more than three hours of video footage and a large selection of digital photos, illustrating the UN’s behavior in Haiti.



Un Soldiers Launched Attack Against Gang In Cite Soleil



An unidentified twenty-eight-year-old man, filmed by HIP, can be seen dying as he testifies that he was shot from a circling UN helicopter that rained gunfire on those below. HIP film also shows a sixteen-year-old, dying just after being shot by UN forces. Before dying he describes details of the UN opening fire on unarmed civilians in his neighborhood. The wounded and dying, filmed by HIP, all express horror and confusion.

IPS observed that buildings throughout Cité Soleil were pockmarked by bullets; many showing huge holes made by heavy caliber UN weapons, as residents attest. Often pipes that brought in water to the slum community now lay shattered.

A recently declassified document from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince reveals that during a similar operation carried out in July 2005, MINUSTAH expended 22,000 bullets over several hours.


In the report, an official from MINUSTAH acknowledged,

“given the flimsy construction of homes in Cité Soleil and the large quantity of ammunition expended, it is likely that rounds penetrated many buildings, striking unintended targets.”

Frantz Michel Guerrier, spokesman for the Committee of Notables for the Development of Cité Soleil based in the Bois Neuf zone, said,

“It is very difficult for me to explain to you what the people of Bois Neuf went through on Dec. 22, 2006 - almost unexplainable. It was a true massacre. We counted more than sixty wounded and more than twenty-five dead, among [them] infants, children, and young people.”


“We saw helicopters shoot at us, our houses broken by the tanks,” Guerrier told IPS.


“We heard detonations of the heavy weapons. Many of the dead and wounded were found inside their houses. I must tell you that nobody had been saved, not even the babies. The Red Cross was not allowed to help people. The soldiers had refused to let the Red Cross in categorically, in violation of the Geneva Convention.”

Several residents told IPS that MINUSTAH, after conducting its operations, evacuated without checking for wounded.

Following the removal of Haiti’s elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide government (see Censored 2005, story #12), up to one thousand Lavalas political activists were imprisoned under the US-backed interim government, according to a Miami University Human Rights study.

A study released by the Lancet Journal of Medicine in August 2006 estimates that 8,000 were killed and 35,000 sexually assaulted in the greater Port-au-Prince area during the time of the interim government (2004-2006). The study attributed human rights abuses to purported “criminals,” police, anti-Lavalas gangs, and UN peacekeepers.

HIP Founding Editor Kevin Pina commented,

“It is clear that this represents an act of terror against the community. This video evidence shows clearly that the UN stands accused, once again, of targeting unarmed civilians in Cité Soleil. There can be no justification for using this level of force in the close quarters of those neighborhoods. It is clear that the UN views the killing of these innocents as somehow acceptable to their goal of pacifying this community.


Every demonstration, no matter how peaceful, is seen as a threat to their control if it includes demands for the return of Aristide to Haiti. In that context it is difficult to continue to view the UN mission as an independent and neutral force in Haiti. They apparently decided sometime ago it was acceptable to use military force to alter Haiti’s political landscape to match their strategic goals for the Haitian people.”

Update by Kevin Pina

Since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas political party were ousted from power on February 29, 2004, accusations of gross human rights violations have persisted in Haiti. While the Haitian National Police (HNP) received training and assistance from the UN following Aristide’s ouster, they were also accused of summary executions, arbitrary arrests, and the killing of unarmed demonstrators.


The actions of the Haitian police became so egregious that even UN police trainers (CIVPOL) began to question the motives of their commanders and the mission’s objectives. The Haiti Information Project (HIP) received the following correspondence in response to a May 8, 2005 article “UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police in Haiti.”1 This is the first publication of that correspondence:

Just want to reinforce your observations as all being accurate.

I am one of the 25 US CIVPOL here on the ground in Haiti, having arrived last November. As a group we are frustrated by the UN’s and CIVPOL’s unwillingness to interpret their mandate aggressively. I have been pushing them to conduct investigations into all the shootings and other significant Human Rights violations with no success. The Police Commissioner and command staff shows little interest and claim the mandate does not allow them to do this. Unfortunately I have countless examples.

The corruption in the HNP is massive with little interest in addressing the problem. Just keep up the pressure, I don’t know what else to do.

Stephen MacKinnon
Chief, Strategic Planning Unit

Chief MacKinnon provided HIP with information and documents that painted a disturbing picture of a UN operation more obsessed with political embarrassment caused by mounting demonstrations for Aristide’s return than interest in reigning in human rights abuses committed by the HNP.2

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) now stands accused of having itself committed several massacres in the seaside shantytown of Cité Soleil. This area of the capital served as a launching site for massive demonstrations demanding the return of President Aristide and for an end to what they called the foreign occupation of their country.

The Brazilian military has responsibility for leadership of the UN military forces in Haiti and is authorized to use deadly force. They are at the top of the command structure and their influence on the overall mission should not be understated. More importantly, there is a direct parallel between Brazilian military tactics utilized by UN forces in Haiti and similar military-style assaults used by the police in their own country.

The Brazilian military police have been accused of firing indiscriminately in the poor slums of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro called favelas. This was highlighted in an Amnesty International report “Brazil: ‘They come in Shooting’: Policing socially excluded communities,” released on December 2, 2005.3

This is similar to the tactics authorized by the Brazilian generals in Haiti. It has resulted in several high-profile massacres committed in the poor slum of Cité Soleil where protestors challenged the UN’s authority by continuing to launch massive demonstrations demanding Aristide’s return and condemning the UN’s presence in Haiti. In each instance, the United Nations and the elite-run Haitian press demonized the entire community as being criminals and gangsters and/or collaborators of criminals and gangsters.


While it is true that armed “gangs” operated in the neighborhood and a few claimed they were aligned with Aristide’s Lavalas movement, these military raids had a clear correlation to the ongoing demonstrations and opposition to the UN presence in Haiti.

Cité Soleil was terrorized on July 6, 2005 when Brazilian commanders authorized a raid by UN forces with the stated aim of routing gangs in the area.4 For Aristide supporters, the raid was a preemptive strike by the UN to dampen the impact of protests on Aristide’s birthday, planned to take place only nine days later on July 15. It also represented the first time UN forces purposely sought to assassinate the leadership of armed groups claiming allegiance to Aristide’s Lavalas movement.5


By the time UN guns stopped firing, countless unarmed civilians lay dead with many having been killed by a single high-powered rifle shot to the head. Since then, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the US Embassy and various intelligence agencies, were aware of the excessive use of force by UN forces in Haiti on July 6, 2005.6 Despite being heavily censored by US officials, what emerges is clear evidence of the disproportionate use of force by UN troops in Cité Soleil.

December 16, 2006 saw another large demonstration for Aristide that began in Cite Soleil and only six days later on December 22, Brazilian commanders would authorize a second deadly raid that residents and human rights groups say resulted in the wholesale slaughter of innocent victims. The unspoken parallel of Brazil’s role in leading the UN’s military strategy in Haiti is the fact that terror tactics such as these have been their modus operandi in their own country.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 2, UN forces entered Cité Soleil firing indiscriminately and their victims were two young girls killed as they slept in their own home.7


Massive demonstrations were scheduled to take place five days later demanding the return of Aristide throughout Haiti on Feb. 7. While these demonstrations went largely unreported by the international corporate media, this stood in contrast, to the avalanche of news stories filed two days later on Feb. 9, when UN forces launched yet another deadly military operation in Cité Soleil.8


Although these raids were ostensibly to rid the neighborhood of gangs, they followed the same pattern and relationship to demonstrations for Aristide’s return and military tactics used by Brazilian commanders in previous UN operations.

The only rights organizations documenting the loss of life and destruction of property resulting from the UN raid on December 22, 2006, as well as previous and subsequent UN military operations, were the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI).9


HIP, the organization originally authoring the article being recognized by Project Censored, is a news agency that has extensive video evidence and interviews from Cité Soleil taken the same day these attacks by United Nations forces were executed.


HIP offers any human rights organization the opportunity to view the documentary footage and evidence supporting the claims of Cité Soleil residents that massacres by UN forces have been committed against them. Unfortunately, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States have remained conspicuously disinterested and silent about this evidence.

For further information and updates about Haiti, please visit www.haitiaction.net, www.ijdh.org, www.HaitiInformationProject.net, www.haitianalysis.com, www.canadahaitiaction.ca, and www.ahphaiti.org.


1. Haiti Information Project,”UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police in Haiti,” May 8, 2005. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_8_5/5_8_5.html.
2. Internet correspondence received from Steve McKinnon to HIP May 12, 2005.
3. Amnesty International Report, “Brazil: ‘They come in Shooting’: Policing socially excluded communities” December 2, 2005. See http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGAMR190252005 
4. Haiti Information Project, “Evidence mounts of a UN massacre in Haiti,” July 12, 2005. See http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/7_12_5.html.
5. Haiti Information Project,”The UN’s disconnect with the poor in Haiti,” December 25, 2005. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/12_25_5/12_25a_5.html.
6. Haiti Information Project, “US Embassy in Haiti acknowledges excessive force by UN,” January 24, 2007. Article based on FOIA documents obtained by College of DuPage Geography Professor Keith Yearman. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_23_7/1_23_7.html.
7. Haiti Information Project - February 2, 2007. UN terror kills Haiti’s children at night http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_2_7a/2_2_7a.html.
8. Haiti Information Project, “Massive demonstrations in Haiti catch UN by surprise,” February 9, 2007. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_9_7/2_9_7.html.
9. Haiti Information Project,”The UNspoken truth about gangs in Haiti,” February 15, 2007. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_15_7/2_15_7.html.
10. Video images documenting UN military operations on July 6, 2005 and December 22, 2006 were taken by HIP videographer Jean-Baptiste Ristil.


An Update on 2/28/2007 IPS Article:

"Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege"
Journalism and Civil Society in Haiti: The Acceptable and The Unacceptable
by Jeb Sprague and Wadner Pierre

Initially neither one of us thought of ourselves as journalists, but we were so shocked by events on the ground in Haiti (which were rarely being covered) that we felt compelled to write about them.


The photographs and reports in such human rights studies as the one done by the (www.law.miami.edu/cshr/CSHR_Report_0311-162006.pdf) Center for the Study of Human Rights, Miami University 2005, really bear testament to the tragedy that the poor in Haiti have been dealt.

But in the dominant rhetoric of most donor groups and much of the mainstream media the coverage we found ignored so many voices, such as those of Haiti’s vibrant grassroots civil society.

Of any country in the western hemisphere, the people of Haiti are filled with a vitality for democracy. Radio is the most popular form of communication partially because of economic accessibility and partially because it encourages discussion and debate.


But the reflection of Haiti’s civil society in the media and through donor intervention creates a distinct parallel; where one group of highly influential civil society leaders tightly connected with foreign donors, the foreign embassies present in Port-au-Prince and the large media outlets receives broad coverage and support; another civil society, present broadly, a pulsating grassroots that is less visible to the outside eye.

The testimonials and opinions of the donor and foreign government backed elite or middle class based civil society groups are propelled in the media spotlight as unbiased and independent, to the point where they become for foreign academics "the Haitian civil society".


They have bilingual language skills, often higher education and the technological tools to communicate their programs to a transnational audience. Aid groups fly them abroad to make presentations or provide them with training seminars in the Dominican Republic or Washington, DC.

In the slum - and rural-based communities another civil society exists outside of the limelight. The members of this civil society are often broke, rarely able to making a sustainable living at what they do. They are relatively unknown and unheard of by the outside world. These groups, popular and well organized on the ground, have broad participation. They carry out large mobilizations, they fill the streets with friends and family, they organize strikes, they are on the radio, and they organize co-ops, literacy centers, and community programs.

So in our articles we have tried to provide as many direct quotes and testimonials as possible from this grassroots civil society. At the same time we try to place this along side the official neoliberal “realist” rhetoric, http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2937 holding the official organs responsible, confronting them and asking them the hard questions (which they are often shocked to hear). Most important are the voices of the victims of violence, the wife and husband who lost their children, the unemployed man wounded on the side of the street; these are voices that call out to be heard.

The deafening silence from the mainstream US and European press is partially explained by a sort of internalized elite or middle class class view that promotes obedience and subordination to the "official," or the recognized expert and professional view (See: http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/20031209.htm Chomsky Propaganda model).


One should not step outside of the line, i.e.: criticize UN troops. Journalists willing to do that are rarely considered career viable journalists. Another aspect is that editors and their papers are dependent on their advertisers, so stories about poor Haitians struggling for democracy become unpalatable. And in much of the press there is a knee jerk reaction to really criticize the poor of other countries, especially if they are able to organize amongst themselves.

Journalists that step outside the boundary are assailed by groups and individuals whose credentials often depend on maintaining the "official", the "expert" view.


For example, according to New York Times author Walt Bogdanich after he published his well-researched  2006 story in the New York Times, critical of the activities of the US government financed International Republican Institute (IRI) in Haiti, he received a huge internal and external backlash. He observes that the back-lash was more so than he has ever received for any story during his time at the New York Times.


His piece was one of the few mainstream articles that really investigated into the political morass of the destabilization campaign against Haiti's elected 2001-2004 government.

MINUSTAH's operations in Cité Soleil, since writing our article, have continued. But in recent months the killings have lessened (although a man just last week was shot and killed by UN troops/ early June 2007).


Over the months that followed our article, MINUSTAH was able to arrest one of the most well-known gang leaders, Evens Jeune, along with many of those within his group. MINUSTAH has claimed to have set up hospital clinics in the buildings used by the gangs, but on-site visits have revealed empty houses with no hospital clinics and no UN staffers.


Haitian government promises of job programs have been slow to materialize in Cité Soleil. UN officials have purposely downplayed or ignored the protests of the poor demanding reparations. However, a number of community schools and health organizations, such as the Lamp Foundation, continue to do good work in Cité Soleil. Some human rights groups, such as the GDP, BAI, CONODH, and AUHMOD, continue to be active in the neighborhoods, but other locally formed groups such as the HNVNPC have gone back to their jobs, mostly in churches and schools.

The population of Cité Soleil has suffered horribly, either caught in the crossfire or purposely targeted.


The socio-economic situation and dire poverty in Cité Soleil is a direct result of the prolonged policies of wealthy countries and donor institutions; forcing and  destabilizing out of power those elected Haitian governments that have advocated key policies of sovereignty and social investment, while opposing privatization and neoliberal adjustments whenever they can.


Rarely told is how Haiti's police throughout the 1990's and early 2000's were systematically manipulated by the US embassy, CIA, and Haitian elites - this had a direct result on the security situation in Haiti. Economic instability heightened by coups and prolonged political crises - promoted by elites unhappy with the popular electoral choice - have cost Haiti jobs and development.


All of this has pushed Haiti further into the abyss.

When international institutions and governments are busy coordinating these kinds of egregious activities, we feel it is the responsibility of journalists, activists, and academics (especially those lucky enough to have the resources) to investigate; all while speaking with the poor and finding out their concerns. From this experience we founded a website, haitianalysis.com, to connect foreign young journalists with young Haitian journalists in poor communities - with the specific purpose of covering poor communities and grassroots organizing.


Soon after our IPS article appeared, members of the Haitian diaspora in New York were able to raise thousands of dollars to help in the funeral expenses of the two young Lubin daughters, Stephanie, seven, and Alexandra, four, killed by UN ammo according to their parents. Wadner's photos of the young girls have appeared in numerous Haitian newspapers and websites of various languages.


The Lubin parents, distraught, wanted everyone to know about what had occurred on that night of February 1st 2007. To our knowledge the United Nations has never launched an investigation into the killing of the two Lubin daughters. UN officials have even gone so far as to claim, just this year, that their heavily armed military force has not been responsible for a single death of an innocent civilian. We will continue asking that a proper investigation be held.

For more information, we suggest that readers view websites such as,

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