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
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
“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,
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
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
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
1. “Military Commissions Act of 2006” Public Law 109-366, 109th Congress.
UPDATE BY ROBERT PARRY
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.
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
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.
Back to Contents
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,
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.”
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,
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
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
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
“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
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law, “Martial Law,” May 2007
UPDATE BY FRANK MORALES
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
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,
”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
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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Bushes and The New World Order
3 - AFRICOM - US Military Control of Africa’s Resources
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
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.
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
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.
“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
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.
Pentagon went so far as to declare the operation a blueprint for future
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
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.
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
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
New rules also pose a threat to essential services as FTAs allow foreign
investors to take ownership of healthcare, education, water, and public
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
Strong opposition is growing to the political asymmetry inherent in these
bilateral trade and investment agreements (see stories
Oxfam notes, “It is in nobody’s long-term interest to have a global economy
that perpetuates social, economic, and environmental injustice.”
UPDATE BY LAURA RUSU OF OXFAM INTERNATIONAL
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,
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.
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
For more information, please see http://www.oxfamamerica.org.
Back to Contents
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
One such contractor is First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting.
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
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
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,
seventeen workers climbed the wall of the construction site to escape, a
State Department official helped round them up and put them in virtual
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.
UPDATE BY DAVID PHINNEY
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.
Back to Contents
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
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
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
Alberto Gonzalez proudly announced on April 15 through corporate
“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
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,
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
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
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
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.
UPDATE BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
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.
Back to Contents
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
Blackwater is headed by a very right-wing Christian-supremist and
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.
“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
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
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
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.”
Back to Contents
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
Vandana Shiva translates,
“These are twin programs about a market grab and a
Burns announced that while the nuclear deal is the
cutting edge, what the US is really seeking is agricultural markets and real
“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
Instead village women save and trade hardy traditional seeds that
have evolved over centuries to produce low-maintenance, nutritious “crops of
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
“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
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
3. For information on growing food for health and personal freedom, go to
4. For information on threats posed by multinational seeds firms, go to
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
See also the
research of Dr. Irina Ermakova at
http://irina-ermakova.by.ru/eng/articles.html/, and of Dr.
6. “Heartless in the Heartland” is the ghastly story of how Monsanto
blackmailed US farmers not to save their seeds. See
7. For an excellent summary, watch The Future of Food, a documentary by
Deborah Koons Garcia, from
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
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 email@example.com), and “The Silent War on the People of
India,” which can be found at
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.
Back to Contents
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
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
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
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.
Back to Contents
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Back to Contents
Back to Global Banking
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
“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
Integrity Watch Afghanistan is another organization that
monitors corruption in the country and produces various reports.
UPDATE BY ANN JONES
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
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
Matt Waldman, head of Afghanistan policy for
Oxfam, one of the most
respected humanitarian NGOs in the world, wrote in The Guardian (May 26,
“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
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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).
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.
Back to Contents
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).
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,
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
“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
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.
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,
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
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
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
1. Haiti Information Project,”UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police
in Haiti,” May 8, 2005. See
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
4. Haiti Information Project, “Evidence mounts of a UN massacre in Haiti,”
July 12, 2005. See
5. Haiti Information Project,”The UN’s disconnect with the poor in Haiti,”
December 25, 2005. See
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
7. Haiti Information Project - February 2, 2007. UN terror kills Haiti’s
children at night
8. Haiti Information Project, “Massive demonstrations in Haiti catch UN by
surprise,” February 9, 2007. See
9. Haiti Information Project,”The UNspoken truth about gangs in Haiti,”
February 15, 2007. See
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:
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
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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