13 - Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for US Corporate Giants
Truthout, January 27, 2007
Title: “Which Side Are You On?”
Author: David Bacon
The Nation, February 6, 2007
Title: “Workers, Not Guests”
Author: David Bacon
Foreign Policy in Focus, February 26, 2007
Title: “Migrants: Globalization’s Junk Mail?”
Author: Laura Carlsen
Student Researcher: Fernanda Borras
Faculty Evaluator: Diana Grant, Ph.D.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) flooded Mexico with cheap
subsidized US agricultural products that displaced millions of Mexican
farmers. Between 2000 and 2005, Mexico lost 900,000 rural jobs and 700,000
industrial jobs, resulting in deep unemployment throughout the country.
Desperate poverty has forced millions of Mexican workers north in order to
feed their families.
The National Campesino Front estimates that two million farmers have been
displaced by NAFTA, in many cases related to the increase in US imports. In
1994, the first year of the agreement, the United States exported $4.59
billion of agricultural products to Mexico, according to the Department of
Agriculture. By 2006 the figure had risen to $9.85 billion - an increase of
114 percent. US exports of corn, Mexico’s staple crop and largest source of
rural employment, alone doubled to over $2.5 billion in 2006.
This combination of unemployment in Mexico, the huge gap between salaries in
the United States and Mexico, and US demand for cheap labor to compete on
global markets has created the current situation. The demand for
undocumented labor in the US economy is structural. It is not just a few
companies seeking to cut corners. These are not just jobs that “US workers
won’t take.” Migrants work in nearly all low-paying occupations and have
become essential to the US economy in the age of global competition.
The meatpacking industry provides a good example. The US meat industry as it
went global shows a fast slide in working conditions over the past decades
as a result of de-unionization, erosion of wages and benefits, and
increasing safety and health hazards. Part and parcel of that slide has been
the replacement of unionized US workers with migrants.
Aside from traditional employment in agriculture, another major use of
migrant labor has been through the advent of subcontracting. This practice,
well in place since the early 1980s, has contributed to the de-unionization
of the workforce. It conveniently releases employees from direct
responsibility for the legal status and treatment of workers in their
In the wake of 9/11, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted
workplace and home invasions across the country in an attempt to round up
“illegal” immigrants. ICE justifies these raids under the rubric of keeping
our homeland safe and preventing terrorism. However the real goal of these
actions is to disrupt the immigrant work force in the US and replace it with
a tightly regulated non-union guest-worker program.
This policy is endorsed
by companies seeking permanent low-wage workers through a lobby group called
Essential Worker Immigrations Coalition (EWIC). EWIC’s fifty-two members
include the US Chamber of Commerce, Wal-Mart, Marriott, Tyson Foods,
American Meat Institute, California Landscape Contractors Association, and
the Association of Builders and Contractors.
ICE now has Operation Return to Sender, a program, supposedly designed to
target fugitive aliens. The program has resulted in the indiscriminate
roundup of over 13,000 undocumented immigrants in cities throughout the
Immigrant rights organizations have noted that the crackdown has led to
serious human rights violations. Families are separated. Hearings are slow,
and often families do not know for long periods of time where their loved
ones are being held. A January 16 report from the Homeland Security
Department’s Inspector General of conditions at five detention centers
identified frequent violation of federal standards, overcrowding, and health
and safety violations.
The firings and raids highlight the vulnerability of immigrant workers under
current US law. In 1986 Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control
Act, making it a federal crime for an employer to hire a worker without
valid immigration documents. While few employers have ever faced penalties,
in reality the law made it a crime for undocumented workers to hold a job.
No current law requires employers to fire workers whose Social Security
numbers don’t jibe. But President Bush proposed a new administrative rule,
which would tell employers to fire anyone with a no-match. The regulation
has never been officially issued, but many companies claim they’re already
complying with it.
Both the enforcement and the agenda behind this crackdown are alarming many
unions. In 1999 the AFL-CIO called for the repeal of employer sanctions, as
well as for a generous legalization program, greater chances for family
reunification, and enforcement of workplace rights. The federation was
already on record opposing new guest worker programs.
The Service Employees,
and the two garment unions were among the first to push for this position.
“We still call for the repeal of employer sanctions, as we have from the
time it was passed,” says Bruce Raynor, UNITE HERE president.
“There are 12
million undocumented people living here, who are important to the economy,”
“They have a right to seek employment, and employers have a right
to hire them. The only way to deal with this is to give workers rights and a
path to citizenship.”
UPDATE BY DAVID BACON
“Which Side are you On?” and “Workers, not Guests” expose the way US
immigration law is being transformed into a mechanism for supplying labor to
some of the country’s largest corporations. Immigration law is creating a
two-tier society, in which millions of people are denied fundamental rights
and social benefits, because they are recruited to come to the US by those
corporations on visas that condemn them to a second-class status.
guest workers face increased poverty and exploitation, and their status is
being used to put pressure on wages, benefits and workplace rights for all
“Workers, not Guests” describes the way that the Bush administration uses
immigration raids to attack union organizing campaigns and efforts by
immigrant workers to enforce basic workplace rights and protections.
Further, the administration uses the raids to pressure Congress into
adopting new, vastly expanded guest worker programs.
Both articles describe the way some groups have abandoned their historic
opposition to contract labor programs. Instead, the National Council of La Raza, the
National Immigration Forum, and other labor and religious
organizations have developed a political alliance with some of the country’s
largest corporations, with the objective of passing new guest worker
legislation. This legislation also includes provisions that will make future
immigration raids much harsher and more widespread.
Since publication, the Bush administration and both Democratic and
Republican senators have announced new proposals that go even further. They
would end the ability of immigrant families to reunite in the US, and
instead institute a corporate-driven point system intended to supply skilled
labor to big companies. Raids and enforcement would become even harsher,
with huge detention centers built on the border. The proposals would allow
corporations to recruit as many as 600,000 contract guest workers a year.
The use of immigration policy to funnel labor to corporate employers is
growing at the same time that Congress is debating new corporate trade
legislation, including the renewal of fast track negotiating authority for
the administration, and four new trade agreements - with South Korea, Peru,
Panama, and Colombia.
These bills would all increase the displacement of
workers and farmers in other countries, sending many of them into the
migrant stream to the US. This displacement is being coordinated with
Congress’s immigration proposals, which would then channel displaced workers
into industries where their labor can be used profitably, and ensure that
they can only remain in the US in a status vulnerable to exploitation.
The mainstream press has carried many articles about the proposals and
raids. There has been very little coverage of the corporate backing for the
immigration bills in Congress, however. Many reporters refer to the guest
worker bills as “pro-immigrant” and “left.” This has not only been
inaccurate reporting, but has actually covered up the corporate domination
of the immigration agenda in Congress. There has been virtually no coverage
of the connection between US trade policy and immigration policy.
For more accurate information, readers can contact the National Network for
Immigrant and Refugee Rights, www.nnirr.org. Global Exchange organized a
national speaking tour on trade and immigration policy by David Bacon and
Juan Manuel Sandoval, a leading Mexican critic of NAFTA and US immigration
The presentations made during that tour are available on the Global
Exchange website, www.globalexchange.org.
Back to Contents
14 - Impunity for US War Criminals
Congressional Quarterly, November 22, 2006
Title: “A Senate Mystery Keeps Torture Alive - and Its Practitioners Free”
Author: Jeff Stein
Student Researcher: Marley Miller
Faculty Evaluator: James Dean, Ph.D.
A provision mysteriously tucked into the Military Commission Act (MCA) just
before it passed through Congress and was signed by President Bush on
October 17, 2006 (see story #1), redefines torture, removing the harshest,
most controversial techniques from the definition of war crimes, and exempts
the perpetrators - both interrogators and their bosses - from prosecution for
such offences dating back to November 1997.
Author Jeff Stein asks,
“Who slipped language into the MCA that would
further exempt torturers from prosecution?”
The White House denies any involvement or knowledge regarding the insertion
of such language, leaving the origin of adjustments to this significant part
of the MCA a mystery.
Motivation for this provision, however, leads clearly to leadership in the
Bush administration, as the passage effectively rewrote the US enforcement
mechanism for the Geneva War Crimes Act, which would have, upon sworn
testimonies of Lieutenant General Randall M. Schmidt, Major General
Mike Dunlavey, and US Brigadier General Commander, Janis Karpinski, held former
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President
George Bush guilty of active roles in directing acts of torture upon
detainees held at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib (see Censored 2007,
Story #7) .
A spokesperson for the Center for Constitutional Rights comments,
restricted definitions arguably would exempt certain US officials who have
implemented or had command responsibility for coercive interrogation
techniques from war crimes prosecutions. This amendment is designed to
protect US government perpetrators of abuses during the ‘war on terror’ from
Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch adds that the effect of this provision
of the MCA is,
“that perpetrators of several categories of what were war
crimes at the time they were committed, can no longer be punished under US
As a whole, the MCA evolved out of the need to override the June 2006
Supreme Court declaration that the administration’s hastily assembled
military commissions were unconstitutional. That momentous Supreme Court
decision confirmed that all prisoners in US custody had to be held in
accordance with the Geneva Convention’s Article 3, which prohibits “outrages
upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”
Through passage of the MCA, Congress and the President negated the
corrective role of the courts in checking and balancing executive power.
A Senate aide involved in the drafting of the Senate version of the bill
that was agreed upon by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner, said,
“We have no idea who [the extended impunity provision] came from or how it
came to be.”
White House spokesperson Dana Perrino said the stealth changes
didn’t come from the counsel’s office,
“It could have come from elsewhere in
the White House or Justice Department,” she said, “but it didn’t come from
Whatever the source, the amended provision was passed and
is now a part of
Back to Contents
15 - Toxic Exposure Can Be Transmitted to Future Generations on a “Second
Rachel’s Democracy & Health News, October 12, 2006
Title: “Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected”
Author: Peter Montague
Student Researchers: Kristen Kebler and Michael Januleski
Faculty Evaluator: Gary Evans, M.D.
Research suggests that, contrary to previous belief, our behavior and our
environmental conditions may program sections of our children’s DNA. New
evidence about how genes interact with the environment suggests that many
industrial chemicals may be more ominously dangerous than previously
It is increasingly clear that the effects of toxic exposure may be
passed on through generations, in ways that are still not fully understood.
“This introduces the concept of responsibility into genetics and
inheritance,” said Dr. Moshe Szyf, a researcher at McGill University in
Montreal, “This may revolutionize medicine. You aren’t eating and exercising
just for yourself, but for your lineage.”1
The new field of genetic research, called epigenetics, involves what
scientists are referring to as a “second genetic code” which influences how
genes act in the body. If DNA is the hardware of inheritance, the epigenetic
system is the software. The epigenetic system determines which genes get
turned “off” or “on” and how much of a certain protein they produce.
It is this switching system that allows the genetic material in each cell to
influence the creation of proteins - which ones are manufactured, in what
sequence, and how many. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. The
chemicals and hormones in our bodies are proteins. They determine, in large
part, how we look, how we feel, even how we act.1
Now, it seems that this chemical switching system may also act in reverse.
In most cases, epigenetic changes (changes to DNA from current environmental
conditions) are not passed from parents to their offspring. Scientists are
still not sure how - but genes seem to be “wiped clean” after a sperm
fertilizes an egg. Based on the recent data, however, researchers are
intrigued by the notion that some of the genetic changes influenced by our
diet, our behaviors, or our environment, may be passed on from generation to
On average, 1,800 new chemicals are registered with the federal government
each year and about 750 of these find their way into products, all with
hardly any testing for health or environmental effects. The bad news about
chemical contamination is steadily mounting, while the number of new
chemicals is steadily increasing. Many critics of the chemical and
pharmaceutical industries are renewing their admonitions that government
agencies practice the “precautionary principle” - the rule of “do no harm
first” in the approval of new drugs and chemicals.
In 2005, the European Union responded to this situation by trying to enact a
new law called Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals
(REACH), which requires that chemicals be tested before they are sold
As they say in Europe, “No data, no market.”
At the same time, US and
European chemical industries - and the White House - began working overtime to
subvert the European effort to enact REACH.
Their efforts failed, however,
and the REACH act was adopted by the European Union in December, 2006.2
Chemical companies throughout the US and Europe are still struggling with
how they will respond to the new requirements.
1. Anne McIlroy, “Chemicals and Stress Cause Gene Changes That Can Be
Inherited,” Globe & Mail, March 11, 2006. See
2. “European Parliament OKs World’s Toughest Law on Toxic Chemicals,” San
Francisco Chronicle, December 14, 2006.
UPDATE BY PETER MONTAGUE
Basically this story tells us that environmental influences (like our
mother’s diet and her exposure to toxic chemicals) are far more important to
us than anyone suspected just a decade ago.
It turns out that environmental influences shape us from the moment of
conception onward, and the earliest months and years of life are the most
important ones. It is called “fetal programming” and it means our first
environment (the womb) can determine what sorts of diseases will afflict us
later in life. Furthermore, some of these early influences can be inherited
by our offspring and even by their offspring. So your personal pattern of
disease may have been set by your grandmother’s diet, or by her exposure to
These findings imply that keeping toxic industrial chemicals out of the
environment is far more urgent than anyone has previously thought. With more
than 1,000 chemicals presently entering commercial channels each year with
almost no health or safety testing, this is not welcome news.
In May 2007, a group of two hundred scientists from five continents issued
strongly worded consensus statement (the “Faroes Statement”) saying that
early exposure to common chemicals leaves babies more likely to develop
serious diseases later in life, including diabetes,
attention deficits, certain cancers, thyroid disorders, and obesity, among
Notably, the scientists urged governments not to wait for more scientific
certainty but to take precautionary action now to protect fetuses and
children from toxic exposures.
Most of the mainstream press continued to tiptoe around this story, with a
few important exceptions, until May 2007 when the Faroes statement blew the
story open. Now that it is out in the open, we’ll have to see if the
mainstream press has what it takes to explain the far-reaching ramifications
of these findings.
The best source of information on this topic (and many others) is
Search for “epigenetics,” “fetal
programming,” or “gene expression.”
The concerns, warns Parry, over how the Pentagon judges “threats” and who
falls under the category of “those who would harm us.” A Pentagon official
said the Counterintelligence Field Activity’s TALON program has amassed
files on antiwar protesters.
In the view of some civil libertarians, a form of martial law already exists
in the U.S. and has been in place since shortly after the September 11
attacks when Bush issued Military Order Number One, which empowered him to
detain any non-citizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.
Today that order extends to U.S. citizens as well.
Farrell ends her article with the conclusion that while much speculation has
been generated by KBR’s contract to build huge detention centers within the
“The truth is, we won’t know the real purpose of these centers unless
‘contingency plans are needed.’ And by then, it will be too late.”
UPDATE BY PETER DALE SCOTT
The contract of the Halliburton subsidiary KBR to build immigrant detention
facilities is part of a longer-term Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME,
which sets as its goal the removal of “all removable aliens” and “potential
In the 1980s Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld discussed
similar emergency detention powers as part of a super-secret program of
planning for what was euphemistically called “Continuity of Government”
(COG) in the event of a nuclear disaster. At the time, Cheney was a Wyoming
congressman, while Rumsfeld, who had been defense secretary under President
Ford, was a businessman and CEO of the drug company G.D. Searle.
These men planned for suspension of the Constitution, not just after nuclear
attack, but for any “national security emergency,” which they defined in
Executive Order 12656 of 1988 as:
“Any occurrence, including natural
disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously
degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”
Clearly September 11 would meet this definition, and did, for COG was
instituted on that day. As the Washington Post later explained, the order,
“dispatched a shadow government of about 100 senior civilian managers to
live and work secretly outside Washington, activating for the first time
What these managers in this
shadow government worked on has never been
reported. But it is significant that the group that prepared
ENDGAME was, as
the Homeland Security document puts it, “chartered in September 2001.” For ENDGAME’s goal of a capacious detention capability is remarkably similar to
Oliver North’s controversial Rex-84 “readiness exercise” for COG in 1984.
This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to round up
and detain 400,000 imaginary “refugees,” in the context of “uncontrolled
population movements” over the Mexican border into the United States.
UPDATE BY MAUREEN FARRELL
When the story about Kellogg, Brown and Root’s contract for emergency
detention centers broke, immigration was not the hot button issue it is
today. Given this, the language in Halliburton’s press release, stating that
the centers would be built in the event of an “emergency influx of
immigrants into the U.S.,” raised eyebrows, especially among those familiar
with Rex-84 and other Reagan-era initiatives.
FEMA’s former plans ‘for the
detention of at least 21 million American Negroes in assembly centers or
relocation camps’ added to the distrust, and the second stated reason for
the KBR contract, “to support the rapid development of new programs,” sent
While few in the mainstream media made the connection between KBR’s contract
and previous programs, Fox News eventually addressed this issue,
pooh-poohing concerns as the province of “conspiracy theories” and
My article attempted to sift through the speculation,
focusing on verifiable information found in declassified and leaked
documents which proved that, in addition to drawing up contingency plans for
martial law, the government has conducted military readiness exercises
designed to round up and detain both illegal aliens and U.S. citizens.
How concerned should Americans be? Recent reports are conflicting and
In May, 2006, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began
“Operation Return to Sender,” which involved catching illegal immigrants and
deporting them. In June, however, President Bush vowed that there would soon
be “new infrastructures” including detention centers designed to put an end
to such “catch and release” practices.
Though Bush said he was “working with Congress to increase the number of
detention facilities along our borders,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, ranking
member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he first learned about
the KBR contract through newspaper reports.
Fox News recently quoted Pepperdine University professor Doug Kmiec, who
deemed detention camp concerns “more paranoia than reality” and added that
KBR’s contract is most likely “something related to (Hurricane) Katrina” or
“a bird flu outbreak that could spur a mass quarantine of Americans.” The
president’s stated desire for the U.S. military to take a more active role
during natural disasters and to enforce quarantines in the event of a bird
flu outbreak, however, have been roundly denounced.
Concern over an all-powerful federal government is not paranoia, but active
citizenship. As Thomas Jefferson explained,
“even under the best forms of
government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow
operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
From John Adams’s Alien and Sedition
Acts to FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans, the land of the free has
held many contradictions and ironies. Interestingly enough, Halliburton was
at the center of another historical controversy, when Lyndon Johnson’s ties
to a little-known company named Kellogg, Brown and Root caused a
congressional commotion - particularly after the Halliburton subsidiary won
enough wartime contracts to become one of the first protested symbols of the
Back then they were known as the “Vietnam
The question, of course, is what they’ll be known as next.
“Reagan Aides and the Secret Government,” Miami Herald, July 5, 1987,
“Foundations are in place for martial law in the US,” July 27, 2002, Sydney
“Halliburton Deals Recall Vietnam-Era Controversy: Cheney’s Ties to Company
Reminiscent of LBJ’s Relationships,” NPR, Dec. 24, 2003,
“Critics Fear Emergency Centers Could Be Used for Immigration Round-Ups,”
Fox News, June 7, 2006,
“U.S. officials nab 2,100 illegal immigrants in 3 weeks,” USA Today, June
Back to Contents
16 - No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11
The Muckraker Report, June 6, 2006, and Ithaca Journal, June 29, 2006
Title: “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11’”
Author: Ed Haas
Student Researcher: Bianca May and Morgan Ulery
Faculty Evaluator: Ben Frymer, Ph.D.
Osama bin Laden’s role in the events of September 11, 2001 is not mentioned
on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” poster.
On June 5, 2006, author Ed Haas contacted the Federal Bureau of
Investigation headquarters to ask why, while claiming that bin Laden is
wanted in connection with the August 1998 bombings of US Embassies in
Tanzania and Kenya, the poster does not indicate that he is wanted in
connection with the events of 9/11.
Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the
reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is
because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.” Tomb
continued, “Bin Laden has not been formally charged in connection to 9/11.”
Asked to explain the process, Tomb responded,
“The FBI gathers evidence.
Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to
present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States
Embassies being bombed, bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by
a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection
with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to
Haas pauses to ask the question,
“If the US government does not have enough
hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11, how is it possible that it had
enough evidence to invade Afghanistan to ‘smoke him out of his cave?’”
Through corporate media, the Bush administration told the American people
that bin Laden was “Public Enemy Number One,” responsible for the deaths of
nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. The federal government claims to
have invaded Afghanistan to “root out” bin Laden and the Taliban, yet nearly
six years later, the FBI said that it had no hard evidence connecting bin
Laden to 9/11.
Though the world was to have been convinced by the December 2001 release of
a bin Laden “confession video,” the Department of Defense issued a press
release to accompany this video in which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said,
“There was no doubt of bin Laden’s responsibility for the
9/11 attacks even before the tape was discovered.”
In a CNN article regarding the bin Laden tape, then New York Mayor
Giuliani said that,
“the tape removes any doubt that the US military campaign
targeting bin Laden and his associates is more than justified.”
Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence
“The tape’s release is central to informing people in the
outside world who don’t believe bin Laden was involved in the September 11
Shelby went on to say “I don’t know how they can be in denial
after they see this tape.”
Haas attempted to secure a reference to US government authentication of the
bin Laden “confession video,” to no avail. However, it is conclusive that
the Bush Administration and US Congress, along with corporate media,
presented the video as authentic.
So why doesn’t the FBI view the
“confession video” as hard evidence?
After all, notes Haas, if the FBI is
investigating a crime such as drug trafficking, and it discovers a video of
members of a drug cartel openly talking about a successful distribution
operation in the United States, that video would be presented to a federal
grand jury. The participants identified in the video would be indicted. The
video alone would serve as sufficient evidence to net a conviction in a
So why, asks Haas, is the bin Laden “confession video” not
carrying the same weight with the FBI?
Haas strongly suggests that we begin asking questions,
“The fact that the
FBI has no hard evidence connecting Osama bin Laden to 9/11 should be
headline news around the world. The challenge to the reader is to find out
why it is not. Why has the US media blindly read the government-provided
9/11 scripts, rather than investigate without passion, prejudice, or bias,
the events of September 11, 2001? Why has the US media blacklisted any guest
that might speak of a government-sponsored 9/11 cover-up, rather than
seeking out those people who have something to say about 9/11 that is
contrary to the government’s account?”
“Who is controlling
the media message, and how is it that the FBI has no ‘hard evidence’
connecting Osama bin Laden to the events of September 11, 2001, while the US
media has played the bin Laden-9/11 connection story for [six] years now as
if it has conclusive evidence that bin Laden is responsible for the collapse
of the twin towers, the Pentagon attack, and the demise of United Flight
UPDATE BY ED HAAS
On June 6, 2006 the Muckraker Report ran a piece by
Ed Haas titled “FBI
says, ‘No hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.’” Haas is the editor
and a writer for the Muckraker Report.
At the center of this article remains
the authenticity and truthfulness of the videotape released by the federal
government on December 13, 2001 in which it is reported that
Osama bin Laden
“confesses” to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The corporate
media - television, radio, and newspapers - across the United States and the
world repeated, virtually non-stop for a week after the videotape’s release,
the government account of OBL “confessing.”
However, not one document has been released that demonstrates the
authenticity of the videotape or that it even went through an authentication
Muckraker Report has submitted Freedom of Information Act
requests to the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and CENTCOM requesting
documentation that would demonstrate the authenticity of the videotape and
the dates/circumstances in which the videotape was discovered.
yet to reply to the FOIA request. After losing an appeal, the FBI responded
that no documents could be found responsive to the request. The Department
of Defense referred the Muckraker Report to CENTCOM while also indicating
that it had no documents responsive to the FOIA request either.
The CIA however claims that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence or
nonexistence of records responsive to the request. According to the CIA the
fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is properly
classified and is intelligence sources and methods information that is
protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949, as amended.
Therefore, the Agency has denied your request pursuant to FOIA exemptions
(b)(1) and (b)(3).
Many people believe that if the videotape is authentic, it should be
sufficient hard evidence for the FBI to connect bin Laden to 9/11. The
Muckraker Report agrees. However, for the Department of Justice to indict
bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, something the government has yet to do, the
videotape would have to be entered into evidence and subjected to additional
scrutiny. This appears to be something the government wishes to avoid.
Some believe that the video is a fake. They refer to it as the “fat bin Laden” video. The
Muckraker Report believes that while the videotape is
indeed authentic, it was the result of an elaborate CIA sting operation. The
Muckraker Report also believes that the reason why there is no documentation
that demonstrates that the videotape went through an authenticity process is
because the CIA knew it was authentic, they arranged the taping.
It is highly probable that the videotape was taped on September 26,
2001 - before the US invaded Afghanistan.
Back to Contents
Back to Osama
Bin Laden and The 9-11 Events
17 - Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations
Environment News Service, March 24, 2006
Title: “Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits”
Author: Sunny Lewis
AlterNet, August 4, 2006
Title: “Military Waste in Our Drinking Water”
Authors: Sunaura Taylor and Astor Taylor
Student Researchers: Jonathan Stoumen, Adrienne Magee, and Julie Bickel
Faculty Evaluator: Sasha Von Meier, Ph.D. and Steve Norwick, Ph.D.
Water is essential to life, contributing to blood circulation, digestion,
metabolism, brain activity, and muscle movements. Yet reliably pure water is
growing scarce, even in the United States. Despite the federal government’s
avowed commitment “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and
biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,”1 corporations, municipalities,
and the US military pollute our waters - often with little or no
“Polluters are using America’s waters as their dumping ground,” said US
PIRG’s Clean Water Advocate Christy Leavitt. (US PIRG is the national lobby
office for the state Public Interest Research Groups, nonprofit public
interest advocacy organizations.)
“Troubled Waters: An Analysis of Clean
Water Act Compliance,” released by US PIRG in March 2006 shows that, between
July 2003 and December 2004, over 62 percent of industrial and municipal
facilities across the country discharged pollution into US waterways at
rates above limits established by the Clear Water Act (CWA).
Using the Freedom of Information Act, US PIRG investigated major facilities’
compliance - or lack of it - with established federal limits on pollution
discharges. The average facility discharged pollutants in excess of its
permitted limit by over 275 percent, nearly four times the legal limit.
Nationally, 436 major facilities exceeded their limits at least half of the
time during the study’s timeframe. Thirty-five facilities exceeded their
permits during every reporting period. Seven states allowed more than one
hundred violations of at least 500 percent (Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New
York, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachusetts).
The study could not analyze
facilities in California, Oregon, or Washington due to unreliable data.
Corn farming - think ethanol - is the crop most likely to leach chemical
contaminants into waterways.2
Atrazine, which several European nations have
banned, is an herbicide widely used in agribusiness, especially on major
crops such as corn. The EPA identifies atrazine as the second-most common
herbicide in drinking wells. Maximum safe levels of atrazine in drinking
water are three parts per billion, but scientists have found up to 224 parts
per billion in Midwestern streams, and 2,300 parts per billion in Corn Belt
Today more than 40 percent of US waterways are unsafe for swimming and
fishing, and, as shown by the PIRG study, industrial pollution of the
nation’s waters persists - despite the goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act to
make all US waters safe for fishing, swimming, and other uses by 1983, and
to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into waterways by 1985.
One reason for these ongoing failures is the Bush administration’s
consistent efforts to shortchange the Environmental Protection Agency’s
budget and to gut the Clean Water Act. In 2003, the Bush administration
significantly weakened protections for small streams, wetlands, and other
waters, despite Bush having declared 2002-2003 the Year of Clean Water.
However, opposition to environmental protection for clean waterways stems
from not only the Bush administration but also the US military, whose
pollution poisons the very citizens it is supposed to protect in the name of
national security. Weapons production, by the US military and its private
contractors, generates more hazardous waste annually than the five largest
international chemical companies combined, accounting for one-third of the
nation’s toxic waste. Furthermore, the US military is among the most
frequent violators of environmental laws.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has sought and received exemptions from a
number of crucial public health and environmental laws. Dramatic increases
in the amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE) in public aquifers have been one
fatal consequence of these exemptions. TCE, a known carcinogen, is used
commercially as a solvent. It is the most widespread industrial contaminant
in US drinking water. Since the Korean War, military contractors, such as
Hughes Missiles Systems (purchased by Raytheon in 1997), have used TCE to
degrease airplane parts, and to clean fuel lines at missile sites.
Consequently, TCE contamination is especially common around military
facilities. The Pentagon is responsible for the TCE contamination of over
1,400 properties. In 2001, the EPA sought to force the government to require
more thorough cleanups at military sites, by lowering the acceptable limits
on TCE from five parts per billion to one part per billion. In response, the
DoD joined the Department of Energy and NASA in blocking the EPA’s proposed
The Bush administration charged the EPA with inflating TCE’s risks,
and called on the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the EPA’s claims.
The Academy’s 2003 report confirmed the EPA’s assessment, linking TCE to,
impaired neurological function,
and other human ailments.
administration and the DoD have ignored these inconvenient findings.
result, citizens, who pay for the military budget with their tax dollars,
are also paying with their health and sometimes their lives.
1. Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 USC. 1251 et seq), Section
2. Sasha Lilley, “Green Fuel’s Dirty Secret,” CorpWatch, June 1, 2006.
UPDATE BY SUNNY LEWIS
Compliance with the Clean Water Act on the part of industrial and municipal
water facilities and land developers is of utmost importance to the quality
of America’s waters - from wetlands, ponds, and small streams to mighty rivers
and the Great Lakes.
The US Public Interest Research Group, US PIRG, which discovered the failure
of 62 percent of facilities to comply with the law based on documents
obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, intends to do more work on
this subject later this year.
Christy Leavitt of US PIRG, quoted by ENS in the original article, says the
group will issue another report based on updated figures obtained in May
from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
As ENS reported, US PIRG recommended that all US waters be protected by
withdrawal of what the group called “the Bush administration’s 2003 No
Protection” policy which excludes many small streams and wetlands from
protection under the Clean Water Act.
Since the ENS report was published, the US Supreme Court handed down a
ruling on the scope of the Clean Water Act that many water and environmental
experts as well as Members of Congress believe has muddied the legal waters
and made new legislation necessary.
In June 2006, the high court ruled in the case Rapanos et ux., et at. v.
United States that there are limits to the federal government’s authority to
regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act, but failed to agree on the
confines of that power.
The consolidated case involved conflicts between developers who wanted to
build condos and stores on wetlands and federal regulators, who refused to
allow the developments under the authority of the Clean Water Act. The
waters at issue were wetlands adjacent to ditches and drains that connected
to “navigable waters” of the United States.
For a full discussion of the ruling, please see the ENS report, “US Supreme
Court Decision Fails to Clarify Clean Water Act.”
In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in another case, Solid Waste Agency of
Northern Cook County v. Corps of Engineers, SWANCC, that non-navigable,
isolated, intrastate waters do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean
On May 25, 2007, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the House of
Representatives that attempts to clarify the original intent of Congress in
the 1972 Clean Water Act in the wake of these two decisions.
To achieve clarification, the new measure, the Clean Water Restoration Act,
replaces the term “navigable waters of the United States” with the term
“waters of the United States.”
The Clean Water Restoration Act has 158 original cosponsors, and the
endorsement of more than three hundred organizations representing the
conservation community, family farmers, fishers, surfers, boaters, faith
communities, environmental justice advocates, labor unions, and civic
It replaces a bill mentioned in the original ENS report, the Clean Water
Authority Restoration Act, that was not approved during the 109th Congress.
As ENS reported in March 2006, US PIRG recommended that the Clean Water
State Revolving Fund be fully funded to help communities upgrade their sewer
The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund guarantees loans for cities and
towns so they can borrow for sewer projects at a lower interest rate, saving
local taxpayers billions of dollars nationwide.
On March 8, 2007, ENS reported that the Bush administration’s budget
proposal to cut some $400 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund
budget came under fire by members of both parties in the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee.
On March 9, 2007, ENS reported that the US House of Representatives passed
the Water Quality Financing Act of 2007. For the first time in twenty years,
the measure H.R. 720, would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving
Funds. At press time, this measure had not come before the US Senate.
For its part, the US EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance,
OECA, says its actions to enforce Clean Water Act requirements in FY 2006
resulted in more than 283 million pounds of pollutants reduced.
Most of these reductions are the result of the EPA’s “national priority
efforts” to control overflows from combined sewer overflows and sanitary
sewer overflows and contamination caused by surface runoff from storm-water
and concentrated animal feeding operations, the agency said.
Working in partnership with states, OECA says it concluded major legal
settlements with dozens of cities to bring critical sewer systems back into
The settlements require comprehensive plans to improve the maintenance and
operation of systems to reduce overflows, and long-term capital construction
projects to expand treatment capacity to ensure that sewage is properly
treated before being discharged, the OECA said in the “EPA Fiscal Year 2006
The settlements concluded in FY 2006 will reduce overflows of untreated or
inadequately treated sewage by 26 million pounds, with an estimated
investment of $930 million in sewer system upgrades and improvements.
To find out more about the scope of the Clean Water Act and compliance with
this law, visit:
Back to Contents
18 - Mexico’s Stolen Election
AlterNet, August 2, 2006
Title: “Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México”
Author: Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland
Revolution, September 10, 2006
Title: “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles”
Authors: Revolution Newspaper Collective
Researchers: Bill Gibbons and Erica Haikara
Faculty Evaluator: Ron Lopez, Ph.D.
Overwhelming evidence reveals massive fraud in the 2006 Mexican presidential
election between “president-elect” Felipe Calderón of the conservative PAN
party and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the more liberal PRD. In an
election riddled with “arithmetic mistakes,” a partial recount uncovered
evidence of abundant stuffing and stealing of ballots that favored the PAN
Meanwhile, US interests were significantly invested in the outcome of
Mexico’s election. Though neither candidate had any choice but to cooperate
with the US agenda, important differences existed around energy policy,
specifically with regard to foreign privatization of Mexican oil and gas
Though the energy sector of Mexico is already deeply penetrated by US
capital, as it stands, the Mexican government owns and controls the oil
industry, with very tight restrictions on any foreign investment. Petróleos
Mexicanos (Pemex), the fifth largest oil company in the world, exports 80
percent of its oil to the US. Sixty percent of its revenue ($30 billion per
year) currently goes to the Mexican government, accounting for more than 40
percent of the Mexican government’s annual revenues.
Calderón promises a more thorough and streamlined exploitation of Mexico’s
oil, demanding that Mexico remove barriers to private/foreign investment
(which are currently written into the Mexican Constitution). Obrador, on the
other hand, insisted on maintaining national ownership and control of the
energy sector in order to build economic and social stability in Mexico.
In June 2005, Mexico signed an accord called Alliance for the Security and
Prosperity of North America (ASPAN) with Canada and the US. The point was
made that this accord would be binding on whoever became president of Mexico
in the upcoming elections. Included in ASPAN is a guarantee to fill the
energy needs of the US market, as well as agreements to forge “a common
theory of security,” allowing US Homeland Security measures to be
implemented in Mexico.
Five months later, in November 2005, an “audition” was held with Mexican
presidential candidates before members of the US Chamber of Commerce in
Mexico City. All candidates were asked whether they would open the energy
sector in Mexico, especially the nationalized oil company, Pemex, to US
Felipe Calderón received resounding applause when he answered that he is in
favor of private investment in Pemex, and of weakening the labor unions. He
also received applause when he stated that he supported George Bush’s guest
worker program and that he agreed the border needed to be secured or
militarized. Obrador said that he would not allow risk capital investment in
Pemex - but hastened to add that other sectors would be opened to investment.
Calderón won the audition, Obrador was granted the role of understudy.
Former US Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow told Obrador,
“If you win the
election, we will support you.”
But when Obrador appeared to be the
front-runner in the election, PAN allied with forces in the US to launch a
feverish campaign against him.
Though US laws prevent US influence in other countries’ elections,
anti-Obrador ads airing on Mexican TV were designed by US firms and
illegally financed by business councils that included such transnationals as
Wal-Mart and Halliburton. US election advisers Rob Allyn and Dick Morris
were contracted to develop a media campaign that would foment fear that
Obrador, with ties to Chavez and Castro, posed a dangerous Socialist threat
Outgoing president Vicente Fox violated campaign law by making dozens of
anti-Obrador speeches during the campaign, as the PAN party illegally
saturated airwaves with swift-boat style attack ads against Obrador. Under
Mexican law, ruling party interference is a serious crime and grounds for
annulling an election.
While Obrador’s campaign and hundreds of independent election observers
documented several hundred cases of election fraud in making their case for
a recount, most Mexican TV stations failed to report the irregularities that
surfaced. Days after the election The New York Times irresponsibly declared
Calderón the winner, and Bush called to personally congratulate Calderón on
his “win,” even though no victor had been declared under Mexican law.
Illegal media campaigns combined with grand-scale fraud had had their
Dominant forces in the US thus had a strong presence behind the scenes of
the 2006 Mexican election. As a consequence, Washington looks forward to
working with Calderón, who promises tighter (repressive) control and
cooperation on all matters of interest to the US, in an accelerated plan to
put Mexico more directly under US domination.
Mexico has thus been denied the democratic election of a president who might
have joined Latin America in standing up to aggressive US neoliberal
Back to Contents
19 - People’s Movement Challenges Neoliberal Agenda
Trade Matters, American Friends Service Committee, May 3, 2006
Title: “Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?”
Author: Jessica Walker Beaumont
International Herald Tribune, December 28, 2006
Title: “Economic Policy Changes With New Latin American Leaders”
Author: Mark Weisbrot
International Affairs Forum, March 31, 2007
Title: “Is Hugo Chavez a Threat to Stability? No.”
Author: Mark Weisbrot
Student Evaluator: Toni Catelani
Faculty Evaluator: Phil Beard, Ph.D.
The US Free Trade model is meeting increasingly successful resistance as
people’s movements around the world build powerful alternatives to
This is particularly evident in Latin America, where massive opposition to
US economic domination has demanded that populist leaders and parties take
control of national governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina,
Brazil, Nicaragua, and Uruguay.
Latin American presidents are delivering on promises to fix the mistake of
twenty-five years of neoliberal reforms that resulted in the region’s worst
economic collapse in more than one hundred years. In the two decades
preceding World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies,
1960-1980, the region’s income per person grew by 82 percent. By comparison
it grew just 9 percent 1980–2000, and only 4 percent 2000–2005.
Strong ties between Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and
Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, and Nicaragua’s
Ortega, along with cooperative relationships with major economies including
Argentina and Brazil, are creating the real potential for autonomous
alternatives to US-dictated economic policy in the Western Hemisphere.
In the past year alone several leaders have announced plans to cut ties with
World Bank and
IMF. After a sweeping reelection in December 2006, Chavez
announced April 30, 2007 that, having paid off debts to the World Bank and
the IMF, Venezuela would cut ties with both institutions.1 Chavez has been
able to put his nation on a path of solid growth by fulfilling his 1998
campaign promise to renationalize Venezuela’s oil industry (PDVSA).
fierce US opposition to his move to end foreign privatization led to a
failed US-backed military coup in 2002, nationalized oil is now the source
of nearly half the Venezuela government’s revenues and 80 percent of the
country’s export earnings. Venezuela’s economy has grown 38 percent in the
last three years.
Chavez plans to set up a new lending institution run by Latin American
nations and has pledged to support it with Venezuela’s booming oil
revenues.1 Venezuela’s $50 billion in foreign exchange reserves is providing
financial support to countries in the region without the exploitive policy
conditions attached to WTO and World Bank lending. Leaders are thus able to
deliver on promises to their people, contributing not only to stability but
to the strengthening of Democracy in the region.
In April 2006, Evo Morales announced his rejection of the IMF and any future
FTA with the US. He instead launched the Bolivian Peoples Trade Agreement
(PTA), a socialist alternative to the neoliberal free trade model. The PTA
emphasizes support of indigenous culture, reciprocity, solidarity, and
national sovereignty. Above all the PTA emphasizes improved living
conditions for the whole population as a result of international trade and
Bolivia’s 2005 passage of a Hydrocarbons Law raised the
royalties paid by foreign gas companies to the government of Bolivia. While
infuriating US corporations, the resulting tens of millions of dollars in
revenue have enabled Bolivia to pay off its IMF debt and begin to build
social programs and national reserves.
In December 2006, Rafael Correa, who recently won the presidential election
in Ecuador on an anti-privatization, anti-US military base platform,
announced plans to restructure Ecuador’s foreign debt in order to increase
spending on crucial social programs. Ecuador has since paid its debt to the IMF and announced plans to sever ties to the institution. Nicaraguan
President Daniel Ortega has also announced negotiations toward an IMF exit.
Argentina was one of the IMF’s most publicized “successes”
turned-crushing-failure at the end of the last century. From 1991 to 1998
the country adopted a host of IMF-recommended reforms including large-scale
privatizations. The economy grew substantially during this period but went
into a terrible downward slide beginning in mid-1998. At the end of 2001 the
whole experiment fell apart, with the country defaulting on more than $100
billion of debt. The currency collapsed soon thereafter, and the majority of
people fell below the poverty line in a country that had previously been one
of the richest in Latin America.2
When Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner finally refused the IMF’s
debilitating repayment mandates, Argentina’s economy began to rebound - and it
hasn’t stopped growing. In a remarkable expansion, which was never supposed
to have happened according to IMF predictions, Argentina’s economy has grown
by 47 percent in the past few years, making it the fastest growing economy
in the Western Hemisphere, and pulling more than nine million people (in a
country of 36 million) out of poverty.2 Argentina decided to make its break
with the IMF in January 2006 by paying off its remaining $9.9 billion debt.
As of December 2005, Brazil is also free to make its own decisions, free
from IMF interference, after paying off its debt two years ahead of
“We repaid the money to show the world that this country has a
government and it is the owner of its own nose,” Lula said at the time,
adding, “Brazil has been able to decide that it does not want another IMF
While it is an expanding reality that many strong and growing people’s
movements have not been so fortunate as to have representative
governments - the people of India (see
story #8), Mexico (see
story #18), and
story #3) are but a few examples - more and more elected leaders in
Latin America are providing models of true democratic leadership that is of,
for, and by the people.
1. Jorge Rueda, “Venezuela Pulling Out of IMF, World Bank,” Associated
Press, May 1 2007.
2. Mark Weisbrot, “IMF’s Fall From Power,” Washington Post.com, April 13,
3. Xinhua, “Early Debt Payment Enables Brazil to Make Own Budget Decisions,”
Peoples Daily Online, December 16, 2005.
UPDATE BY Jessica Walker Beaumont
Written a year ago, the American Friends Service Committee article “Is the
US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?” accurately predicted a growing resistance
among Latin American and African leaders to the current “one-size-fits-all”
US trade policy model.
Proponents of the current US free trade model seem willing to do whatever it
takes to keep the free trade train moving down the track. However their time
is literally running out, in part due to the looming July 1 expiration of
“fast track” authority that gives the Bush administration the power to
negotiate free trade agreements on behalf of Congress.
Although Bolivia, Ecuador and Southern Africa stand firm against US Free
Trade Agreements (FTA), there remains a “coalition of the willing” lining up
to get their trade agreements. Pending trade pacts for Congressional
consideration include those with Colombia, Peru, Panama and Korea. Greasing
the wheels to pass these FTAs is a new “breakthrough trade deal” with the
Bush administration announced by Democratic leadership on May 10, 2007.
It is said that the deal would improve new free trade agreements by
requiring that they include labor and environmental standards, and by
insuring better access to essential medicines. Sounds good right? Well, the
deal was negotiated in secret with only a handful of Congressional members,
the legal text is still not released, and high-powered big business groups
are supporters. The official outline of the deal reveals all that is
excluded, ignoring a cry for substantial rethinking of US trade policy.
Meanwhile Bolivia continues to advance its People’s Trade Agreement. In
April, 2007 Bolivia (along with Venezuela and Nicaragua) decided to withdraw
from the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
housed at the World Bank. This came out of the social movement started in
2001 against the US multinational Bechtel that sued Bolivia under the ICSID
for $25 million after it was thrown out during the
Cochabamba Water War.
Dropping out of the ICSID sends a clear message that protecting private
investment at the expense of the rights of the people will not be tolerated.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, elected into power on an anti-FTA and
anti-US military base agenda, is considering doing the same. In April Correa
expelled the World Bank’s representative in Quito, accusing him of
withdrawing funds in protest over the government’s oil sector reforms.
Costa Rica offers a new beacon of hope as they have yet to ratify the
Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Huge resistance to CAFTA grew
as people learned it would require the dismantling of Costa Rica’s public
telecommunications sector that is funding education. On April 12, 2007 the
Supreme Electoral Court approved a measure calling for a binding referendum
on CAFTA, likely to take place in August or September.
The CAFTA referendum
will be Costa Rica’s first public referendum since it gained independence
from Spain in 1821 (Inside US Trade, May 4, 2007).
Back to Contents
20 - Terror Act Against Animal Activists
Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, March 9, 2007
Title: “The AETA is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement
(and Unconstitutional as Well)”
Authors: David Hoch and Odette Wilkens
Green is the New Red, November 14, 2006
Title: “US House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little
Discussion or Dissent”
Author: Will Potter
Earth First! Journal, November, 2006
Title: “22 Years for Free-Speech Advocates”
Student Researcher: Sverre Tysl
Faculty Evaluator: Scott Suneson, MA
The term “terrorism” has been dangerously expanded to include acts that
interfere, or promote interference, with the operations of animal
enterprises. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed into law on
November 27, 2006, broadens punishment present under the Animal Enterprises
Protection Act (AEPA) of 1992.
One hundred and sixty groups, including the
National Lawyers’ Guild, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League
of Humane Voters, Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the
New York City Bar Association, oppose this Act on grounds that its
terminology is dangerously vague and poses a major conflict to the US
The broad definition of an “animal enterprise,” for example, may encompass
most US businesses:
“any enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal
products.” The phrase “loss of any real or personal property,” is elastic
enough to include loss of projected profit. Concerns deepen as protections
against “interference” extend to any “person or entity having a connection
to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise.”
A letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to Congress dated
March 6, 2006, “on behalf of hundreds of thousands of activists and members
and fifty-three affiliates nationwide,” explains their opposition to AETA
based on the concern that First Amendment activities such as demonstrations,
leafleting, undercover investigations, and boycotts may be punishable as
acts of terror under the overly vague and open-ended law.
The ACLU letter maintains,
“Lawful and peaceful protests that, for example,
urge a consumer boycott of a company that does not use humane procedures,
could be the target of this provision because they ‘disrupt’ the company’s
business. This overbroad provision might also apply to a whistleblower whose
intentions are to stop harmful or illegal activities by the animal
enterprise. The bill will effectively chill and deter Americans from
exercising their First Amendment rights to advocate for reforms in the
treatment of animals.”
Author Will Potter argues that the harsher amendments that AETA brings to
its predecessor, AEPA, are hardly necessary, as AEPA was successfully used
to disproportionately prosecute the SHAC 7 - six animal rights activists
organized to expose the illegal and inhumane operations of
Sciences - for “animal enterprise terrorism.”
Budgerigar of Earth First!
recounts that three of the defendants were charged under AEPA in September
of 2006 with interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit interstate
stalking for organizing demonstrations and running a website that published
names and addresses of those involved in the vivisection industry.
was collectively sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.
“The supreme irony
of this case,” notes Budgerigar, “rests in the fact that these activists
were convicted of conspiracy to damage the profits of an animal enterprise,
but not of actually damaging it. Even so, the ever-so-honorable judge
ordered the defendants to pay a total of $1,000,001 in restitution fees.”
Yet Congress deemed that AEPA was not a serious enough tool for going after
animal rights “extremists.” David Hoch and Odette Wilkens of
“How did this bill [AETA] pass the House?”
Hoch and Wilkens explain that in spite of the fact that one hundred and
sixty groups opposed its passage, the House Judiciary Committee placed AETA
on the suspension calendar, under which process bills that are
non-controversial can be passed by voice vote. The vote on the bill was then
held hours earlier than scheduled, with what appears to have been only six
(out of 435) Congresspersons present. Five voted for the bill, and Dennis
Kucinich, who said that “[t]his bill will have a real and chilling effect on
people’s constitutionally protected rights,” voted against it.
on to say,
“My concern about this bill is that it does nothing to address
the real issue of animal protection but, instead targets those advocating
Budgerigar concludes, “The message could not be more clear: run an effective
activist campaign, and you will be vilified, criminalized, and imprisoned.”
UPDATE BY DAVID HOCH AND ODETTE WILKENS
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), whose recent passage
virtually no media coverage, will chill the first amendment rights of animal
advocates and serve as a template for future limitations on the free speech
of all activists.
The Act subjects anyone who
(1) uses interstate commerce,
(2) with the intent to damage or interfere with an “animal enterprise” or
with any person or entity associated with an animal enterprise, and
causes any economic damage or corporate profit loss or bodily injury or fear
of bodily injury, or
(4) conspires or attempts to do any of the foregoing,
to prosecution for “animal enterprise terrorism.”
AETA expands the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), under which six
animal activists were convicted and imprisoned for publicly advocating
animal protection activities. The new law requires less serious conduct than
the “physical disruption to...an animal enterprise” called for in AEPA,
provides stiffer penalties for economic damage and subjects violators who
cause no economic damage, bodily harm or fear of serious bodily harm, to as
much as one year in prison, while also serving as a predicate for
AETA serves animal enterprises wishing to brand animal activists as
criminals and treating dissent as terrorism, and indicates a trend toward
treating dissent as terrorism, as evidenced by the Justice Department’s
current attempt to increase sentences up to twenty years through the
application of a concept called “terrorism enhancement.”
AETA violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by proscribing formerly
protected modes of expression and invidiously discriminating against animal
activists through the imposition of harsher sanctions than those applied to
similar or even more serious crimes under the 2005 federal sentencing
guidelines. The Act is also unconstitutionally vague, due to the
indecipherable ambiguity of statutory terms such as “interfere with” or
“profit loss.” That vagueness extends to declared exemptions for lawful
boycotts and peaceful protests, which could involve the same conduct that
would subject one to prosecution under AETA. A lawful boycott is, by
definition, the intent to interfere with and cause economic damage to some
Furthermore, an animal enterprise need not be acting lawfully to be
protected under the Act. Illegal animal enterprise is not an affirmative
defense for activities such as whistle-blowing or undercover investigations
into animal cruelty, labor conditions, or environmental violations.
To pass AETA, the House invoked a technicality that allows non-controversial
bills to be approved by a voice vote, and then voted when only six members
were present, although the bill was highly controversial, with approximately
one hundred sixty organizations opposing its passage. The Act is unjust,
oppressive, and unconstitutional and the honorable thing would be for
Congress to repeal it, but without public knowledge and pressure that is
unlikely. Therefore, a more prudent strategy would be to increase public
awareness until a critical mass convinces Congress to rescind the Act.
To learn more about AETA or become involved in the effort to repeal it,
visit the Equal Justice Alliance website at
UPDATE BY WILL POTTER
Shortly after passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the Fur
Commission USA distributed an announcement to supporters proclaiming
“Mission Accomplished!” Corporations have been eager to appropriate much of
the “War on Terrorism” rhetoric against activists, but this was an
interesting PR choice. Bush stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln in front of a
banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, only to be dogged by that
hubris months, and now years, later.
It looks like corporations may be haunted by similar ghosts in this domestic
front of the “War on Terrorism.” Not only has the legislation not deterred
illegal activity by underground activists, it may have actually added fuel
to their fire. On January 5, 2007, the Animal Liberation Front - considered by
the FBI to be the “number one domestic terrorist threat” - distributed an
anonymous communiqué related to vandalism at the home of a University of
Utah animal researcher.
“PS. To all the vivisectors we have
yet to visit: don’t bask in your recent legislative victory for too long.
This new animal enterprise law means NOTHING. - ALF”
It wasn’t an isolated incident. Just two days after the president signed the
law, another communiqué claimed credit for vandalizing the windows of a
pharmaceutical company, and underground activists signed it:
the SHAC 7!”
(The SHAC 7 are a group of activists convicted under the
original legislation. They were never accused of anything like breaking
windows: they “conspired” to violate the law by running a website and
vocally supporting both legal and illegal tactics against companies doing
business with a controversial lab).
If the purpose of AETA is to go after underground activists, that mission is
far from accomplished. And if the purpose of AETA is to go after “the above
ground,” activists are organizing to challenge that mission as well. Just a
few weeks after the legislation passed, student activists protested outside
the offices of US Rep. James P. McGovern in Massachusetts, naming and
shaming him for not being present for a vote. McGovern’s staff quickly
stated publicly that he does not support the law, he would have voted
against it if he had known about a vote, and he would advocate for repeal.
And then there were dozens of community events around the world to raise
awareness about labeling activists as “ecoterrorists,” from South Africa to
Greece to Minneapolis, MN.
To be clear, in some ways the mission of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
has been accomplished: it has instilled a level of fear in mainstream,
above-ground, legal activists that they may one day be hit with the T-word
in this ever-expanding “War on Terrorism.”
But through my reporting I’ve found that an interesting thing happens when
people learn about this “Green Scare” and the corporate and political
interests behind it: that fear easily turns to rage. More than 140 comments
have been posted on the article I wrote about the legislation passing the
House. Some of them express fear and a bit of hopelessness.
Many share the
tenor of “Jersey” who wrote:
“do they really think everyone is going to
crawl into the woodwork and stand for this?”
Since the law passed, I have been speaking regularly in public forums like
the New York City Bar Association, Yale Law School, activist conferences,
and with both mainstream and alternative press, and I’ve been able to see
that phenomenon over and over again: questioning and investigating the
legislation, and the money behind it, demystifies the law. It dewclaws it.
That knowledge is what ultimately worked against Senator Joseph McCarthy,
succeeding where the “loyalty oaths” and the “naming names” failed. It can
work now, too. If reporters do their jobs, and expose these issues to the
general public, people can stop being afraid and start being pissed.
For more information, please visit www.GreenIsTheNewRed.com.
Back to Contents
21 - US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments
Oxfam International, June 29, 2006
Title: “US Seeks ‘Get-Out Clause’ for Illegal Farm Payments”
Financial Times UK, January 9 2007
Title: “Canada Launches WTO Case on US Subsidies”
Author: Eoin Callan
Student Researcher: Cedric Therene
International Business Evaluator: Tim Ogburn
On July 24, 2006, after nearly five years of global trade negotiations,
talks at the meetings of the World Trade Organization collapsed - perhaps
permanently, say some economic analysts. In January of 2007, trade ministers
from the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India, Japan, and
Australia said they remained hopelessly stalemated, mostly on the
contentious issue of farm trade. US negotiators blamed the breakdown on
E.U., India, and Japan for balking at the unrestricted opening of markets to
What went uncovered in mainstream news sources was any analysis of the
content of the negotiations - what exactly the countries involved were
offering, and what they expected in return.
Of utmost importance to the Bush Administration was that the US receive
immunity from lawsuits by poor countries before Bush’s special “fast track”
trade negotiating powers expired at the end of June, 2007.
In a last-minute proposal, one not included on the original agenda, the US
suddenly insisted that all trade agreements include a special clause called
a “Peace Clause” that would make its use of illegal farm subsidies immune
from prosecution by the countries affected. Between 1994 and 2003, such a
Peace Clause had denied developing nations any legal recourse in the face of
the “dumping” of cheap foreign products that had devastated their
According to international NGOs such as Oxfam International, the Peace
Clause gives rich countries like the US and the European Union free rein to
provide huge subsidies to their farmers. Such practices benefit the
economies of already-wealthy nations, while damaging the agricultural
communities of poorer nations. According to a 2003 Oxfam report,
thirty-eight developing countries have suffered from unfair competition as a
result of illegal subsidies in the US and EU.
Events following expiration of these legal protections make it clear why the
US was so eager to reintroduce a new version of the Peace Clause (and why it
was done so slyly). Following its expiration in 2003, Brazil took the US to
the WTO court charging that US cotton subsidies had depressed world prices,
hurting cotton producers in Brazil and around the world - and Brazil won!
2005, the WTO agreed with Brazil’s charge, ordering that the US immediately
discontinue its distribution of illegal agricultural subsidies. Fearing that
other developing nations would follow suit, US negotiators were driven to
reintroduce the proposal for protections they had enjoyed under the Peace
More recently, following the July 2006 collapse of the Doha trade talks,
Canada has asked the WTO to review charges that the US is continuing to use
illegal and “trade-distorting” agricultural subsidies. The charges focus on
payments made to American corn farmers, but also challenge the total level
of US agricultural subsidies. This is the most significant challenge to the
structure of US agricultural subsidies since the landmark WTO ruling in
favor of Brazil in 2005.
In June of 2007, The Canadian government asked the WTO to establish a
dispute settlement panel to investigate the allegation.2 Under WTO rules,
the United States can provide up to $19.1 billion annually in subsidies that
are considered trade-distorting. Canada says the United States broke the
rules every year from 1999 to 2005 except for 2003.
Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the US trade representatives, parroted the
position taken previously by US officials addressing the Brazil dispute. She
“Negotiation, not litigation, is the path to removing trade
distortions in agriculture and improving opportunities for farmers and
producers all around the world.”2
The US says that it needs the Peace Clause
renewed in order to protect itself from litigation while it “is in the
process of reducing its trade-distorting subsidies.”
But Oxfam notes that,
proposals included in the new Peace Clause would actually allow the US to
increase its farm support from under $20 billion to almost $23 billion. The EU proposal would allow an increase in farm subsidies from $23 billion to
Poor countries, with no surplus to supplement their farmers’
income shortfalls, would have nothing to respond with - no global support, no
economic power, and no legal appeals.
1. Paul Blustein, “Trade Talks Fail After Stalemate Over Farm Issues;
Collapse Comes With Finger-Pointing,” Washington Post, July 25, 2006.
2. Phillip Brasher, “Canada attacks US subsidies at WTO,” Des Moines
Register, June 8, 2007.
Back to Contents
22 - North Invades Mexico
TomDispatch.com, September 19, 2006
Author: Mike Davis
Title: “Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South”
Student Researcher: Rachel Icaza and Erica Haikara
Faculty Evaluator: Francisco Vazquez, Ph.D.
The visitor crossing the Mexican border from Tijuana to San Diego these days
is immediately confronted by a huge sign, “Stop the Border Invasion!”
Sponsored by allies of the anti-immigrant vigilante group, the Minutemen,
the same signs insult Mexican citizens at other border crossings in Arizona
and Texas. The ultimate irony is that a crisis invasion is indeed occurring,
but the signs, it seems, may be pointed the wrong direction.
Author Mike Davis points out that, in a “reality stood on its head,” few
people - at least outside Mexico - have bothered to notice that while all the
nannies, cooks, maids, and gardeners have been heading north to tend the
luxury lifestyles of irate republicans, the Gringo masses have been rushing
south to enjoy glorious budget retirements and affordable second homes in
The number of North Americans living in Mexico has soared from 200,000 to 1
million (one-quarter of all US expatriates) in the past decade. With more
than 70 million American baby-boomers expected to retire in the next two
decades, experts predict “a tidal wave” of migration to warmer - and
cheaper - climates. Baby-boomers are not simply feathering nests for eventual
retirement, but also increasingly speculating in Mexican resort property and
gated communities, complete with Hooters, Burger King, and Starbucks. The
land rush is sending up property values to the detriment of locals whose
children are consequently driven into slums or forced to emigrate north,
only to face increasing “invasion” charges.
The Gringo footprint is largest (and brings the most significant
geopolitical consequences) in Baja California, an epochal process that, if
unchecked, will produce intolerable social marginalization and ecological
Indeed, the first two stages of informal annexation have already occurred.
Under the banner of NAFTA, Southern California has exported hundreds of its
sweatshops and toxic industries to the maquilladora zones of Tijuana and
Mexicali. The Pacific Maritime Association, representing the West Coast’s
major shipping companies, has joined forces with Korean and Japanese
corporations to explore the construction of a vast new container port at
Punta Colonel, 150 miles south of Tijuana, which would undercut the power of Longshore unionism in San Pedro and San Francisco.
Secondly, tens of thousands of US retirees and winter-residents are now
clustered at both ends of the peninsula.
Along the northwest coast from
Tijuana to Ensenada, a recent advertisement for a real estate conference at
UCLA boasts that,
“there are presently over fifty-seven real estate
developments with over 11,000 homes/condos with an inventory value of over
$3 billion all of them geared for the US market.”
Meanwhile, at the tropical end of Baja, a US
expatriate enclave has emerged
in the twenty-mile strip between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose de Cabo. Los
Cabos has become an archipelago of real-estate hot spots where continuous
double-digit increases in property values pull in speculative capital.
Judging from the registration of private planes at the local airport, Cabos
has essentially become a resort suburb of Orange County - the home of the most
vehement Minutemen chapters.
Davis points out that many wealthy Southern Californians evidently see no
contradiction between fuming over the “alien invasion” with one’s
conservative friends at the Newport Marina one day, and flying down to enjoy
their Cabos investment properties the next.
One of several multi-billion dollar real estate projects being developed for
the US market is the Villages of Loreto: another 6,000 homes for expatriates
in colonial-Mexico motif on the Sea of Cortez. The $3 billion Loreto project
boasts that it will be the last word in green design, exploiting solar power
and restricting automobile usage. It will, coincidently, balloon Loreto’s
population from its current 15,000 to more than 100,000 in a decade, with
the social and environmental consequences of a sort that can already be seen
in the slum peripheries of Cancun and other mega-resorts.
One of the irresistible attractions of Baja is that it has preserved a
primordial wildness that has disappeared elsewhere in the West. Local
residents, including a very eloquent indigenous environmental movement,
cherish this incomparable landscape, as they do the survival of an
egalitarian ethos in the peninsula’s small towns and fishing villages.
However, thanks to the silent invasion of the baby-boomers from the north,
much of the natural history and frontier culture of Baja could be swept away
in the next generation.
The problem is, as Tom Engelhardt of Tomdispatch
points out, “Fences don’t work if you’ve got your own plane.”
Back to Contents
23 - Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq
North Bay Bohemian, January 24, 2007
Title: “Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict”
Author: Peter Byrne
Student Researcher: David Abbott, Amanda Spigut, and Ann Marie O’Toole
Faculty Evaluator: David McCuan, Ph.D.
Dianne Feinstein - the ninth wealthiest member of congress - has been beset by
monumental ethical conflicts of interest. As a member of the Military
Construction Appropriations Subcommittee (MILCON) from 2001 to the end of
2005, Senator Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions of dollars
to her husband’s firms.
From 1997 through the end of 2005, Feinstein’s husband Richard C. Blum was a
majority shareholder in both URS Corp. and Perini Corp. She lobbied Pentagon
officials in public hearings to support defense projects that she favored,
some of which already were, or subsequently became, URS or Perini contracts.
From 2001 to 2005, URS earned $792 million from military construction and
environmental cleanup projects approved by MILCON; Perini earned $759
million from such projects.
In 2000, Perini earned a mere $7 million from federal contracts. After 9/11,
Perini was transformed into a major defense contractor. In 2004, the company
earned $444 million for military construction work in Iraq and Afghanistan,
as well as for improving airfields for the US Air Force in Europe and
building base infrastructures for the US Navy around the globe. In a
remarkable financial recovery, Perini shot from near penury in 1997 to
logging gross revenues of $1.7 billion in 2005.
It is estimated that Perini now holds at least $2.5 billion worth of
contracts tied to the worldwide expansion of the US military. Its largest
Department of Defense contracts are “indefinite delivery-indefinite
quantity” or “bundled” contracts carrying guaranteed profit margins. As of
May 2006, Perini held a series of bundled contracts awarded by the Army
Corps of Engineers for work in the Middle East worth $1.725 billion. Perini
has also been awarded an open-ended contract by the US Air Force for
military construction and cleaning the environment at closed military bases.
In 2003 hearings, MILCON approved various construction projects at sites
where Perini and/or URS are contracted to perform engineering and military
construction work. URS’s military construction work in 2000 earned it a mere
$24 million. The next year, when Feinstein took over as MILCON chair,
military construction earned URS $185 million. On top of that, the company’s
architectural and engineering revenue from military construction projects
grew from $108,726 in 2000 to $142 million in 2001, more than a
thousand-fold increase in a single year.
Beginning in 1997, Michael R. Klein, a top legal adviser to Feinstein and a
long-time business partner of Blum’s, routinely informed Feinstein about
specific federal projects coming before her in which Perini had a stake. The
insider information, Klein said, “was intended to help the senator avoid
conflicts of interest.” Although Klein’s admission was intended to defuse
the issue, it had the effect of exacerbating it, because in theory,
Feinstein would not know the identity of any of the companies that stood to
contractually benefit from her approval of specific items in the military
construction budget - until Klein told her.
Feinstein’s husband has profited in other ways by his powerful political
connections. In March 2002, then-Governor Gray Davis appointed Blum to a
twelve-year term as a regent of the University of California, where he used
his position as Regent to award millions of dollars in construction
contracts to URS and Perini. At the time, he was the principal owner of URS
and had substantial interests in Perini. In 2005, Blum divested himself of
Perini stock for a considerable profit.
He then resigned from the URS board
of directors and divested his investment firm of about $220 million in URS
1. Peter Byrne, “Blum’s Plums” North Bay Bohemian, February 21, 2007.
UPDATE BY PETER BYRNE
Shortly before my expose of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s conflict of interest
was published in January 2007, Feinstein, who had declined to substantively
comment upon serious allegations of ethical misconduct as reported in the
story, resigned from the Military Construction Subcommittee.
I then wrote
three follow-ups, including a news column on her resignation, an expose of
her husband Richard Blum’s conflict of interest as a regent of the
University of California, and an expose of Blum’s business partner, Michael
R. Klein. With Blum’s financial backing, Klein, a war contractor, operates a
non-profit called The Sunlight Foundation that awards millions of dollars to
reporters and government watchdog groups to research government ethics.
In March, right-wing bloggers by the thousands started linking to and
commenting upon these stories - agitating for a Congressional investigation of
Feinstein. In just two days, the stories got 50,000 online hits. Michael
Savage and Rush Limbaugh did radio segments on my findings. I declined to
appear on their shows, because I do not associate with racist, misogynist,
homophobic demagogues. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly invited me to be on his
national TV show, but quickly uninvited me after I promised that the first
sentence out of my mouth would frame Feinstein as a neoconservative
warmonger just like O’Reilly.
As the storm of conservative outrage intensified, Joe Conason, from
Nation Institute, which had commissioned the Feinstein investigation, asked
to have the tag thanking the Nation Institute for funding removed from my
stories because, he said, Katrina vanden Heuval, The Nation’s editor and
publisher, did not want the magazine or its non-profit institute to be
positively associated with Limbaugh. I told Conason that not only was I
required to credit The Nation Institute under the terms of our contract, but
that The Nation’s editors should be proud of the investigation and gratified
by the public reaction.
The back story to that encounter is that, in October, vanden Heuvel had
abruptly killed the Feinstein story, which had been scheduled to run as a
cover feature before the November 2006 election in which Feinstein was up
for reelection. The Nation’s investigative editor, Bob Moser, who worked
closely with me on the project from start to finish, wrote that I had done a
“solid job,” but that the magazine liked to have a political “impact,” and
since Feinstein was “not facing a strong challenge for reelection,” they
were not going to print the story.
Moser added that there was no “smoking
gun,” which amazed me, since Klein’s admission that he was funneling defense
contracting wish lists developed by Feinstein’s husband’s company directly
to the senator, who was in a position to make those wishes come true, was a
hot and smoking fact pointing toward corrupt practices. Subsequently, vanden
Heuval wrote an editorial praising women leaders of the newly-empowered
Democratic Party, including Feinstein: go figure.
I then sold the story to Salon.com, who abruptly killed it right before
publication, too. This time the editor’s explanation was that “someone
talked to the Sunlight Foundation” and that Salon no longer saw the matter
as a serious conflict of interest. So, I pitched the story to Slate, The NewRepublic, Harper’s, the Los Angeles Times and, by way of experiment, to
the neoconservative American Spectator and Weekly Standard.
Most of the
editors praised the reporting, but turned down the story. I cannot help but
believe that, considering the precarious balance of power in the
post-election Senate, some of these editors were not eager to critique the
ethics of a Democrat. As for rejection by the neoconservatives, I theorize
that they secretly adore Feinstein, who has consistently supported Bush’s
war and homeland security agenda and the illiberal Patriot Act.
So I sold the tale to the North Bay Bohemian, which, along with its sister
papers in San Jose and Santa Cruz ran it on the cover - complete with
follow-ups. After it appeared, the editors and I received a series of
invective-filled emails from war contractor Klein (who is also an attorney)
but, since he could show no errors of fact in the story, he did not get the
retraction that he apparently wanted.
In March, the story crested a Google
tidal wave generated by left- and right-wing bloggers wondering why the
mainstream media was ignoring the Feinstein scandal. After two dozen
newspapers ran a McClatchy wire service article in April observing that no
one had found any factual faults in my reporting, the lefty group Media
Matters attacked me on its Web site as a right-wing pawn, without even
calling me for comment, nor finding any errors in my reporting. I parried
their fact-free insults with facts and they were compelled to correct the
On April 30, The Hill newspaper in Washington D.C. ran a highly-visible
op-ed by a conservative pundit quoting from my story and comparing Feinstein
(unfairly) to convicted felon and former Congressman, Duke Cunningham. As
the Feinstein investigation gained national traction, mostly outside the
realm of the mainstream media, one of Klein’s employees at the Sunlight
Foundation posted a “critique” of my story, which was loaded with personal
insults, but contained no factual substance.
Not coincidentally, Feinstein’s
press office distributes, upon request, a similarly-worded “rebuttal,” which
insults my personal integrity, finds no factual errors, and does not address
the damning fact, reported in the story, that four non-partisan ethics
experts based in Washington D.C. found the senator had a conflict of
interest after reviewing the results of my investigation.
Also, in April, CodePink and The Raging Grannies held a demonstration in
front of the Feinstein-Blum mansion in San Francisco demanding that she
return her war profits to the Iraqi people. That was my proudest moment.
Five months after the story was printed, opinion-floggers across the
political spectrum continue to loudly ask why the mainstream media has not
reported on Feinstein’s ethical problem. Some say that the hurricane of
opinion raised by the investigation has killed Feinstein’s chance for a spot
on the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket in 2008. Klein has continued
to send me e-mails full of verbal abuse, misspellings, and implied threat of
Blissfully, I delete them.
Back to Contents
24 - Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President
Global Research, January 20, 2007
Title: “Wiped Off The Map - The Rumor of the Century”
Author: Arash Norouzi
Information Clearing House, May 9, 2006
Title: “Full Text: The President of Iran’s Letter To President Bush”
Translated by Le Monde
Student Researchers: Becky Bazell
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Ph.D.
Across the world a media story has spread that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad
has threatened to destroy Israel, by saying that, “Israel must be wiped off
the map.” Contrary to general belief, this statement was actually a
misinterpretation. However, it was the Islamic Republic News Service in Iran
that first mistranslated the quote.
Iran’s Foreign Minister attempted to
clarify the statement, but the quote ended up having a life of its own in
the corporate media.
Amid heated wrangling over Iran’s nuclear program and the threat of
preemptive strikes by the US, the quote has been continually used to
reinforce the idea that Iran is being run by extremists seeking the total
destruction of Israel.
So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in Farsi:
“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv
Rezhim-e is the word “regime,” pronounced just like the English word with an
extra “eh” sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country
or Israel the landmass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant
distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad did not
even refer to Israel by name, he instead used the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” (regime occupying Jerusalem).
A similar statement by Ahmadinejad in December 2006, “As the Soviet Union
disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish and humanity will be
liberated,” has also been misinterpreted.
In May of 2006 President Ahmadinejad published an open letter to President
Bush clearly asking for peace and the mutual respect of human rights. He
warns that Western media, through contrived and deceptive information, has
intensified the climate of fear that leads to attacks on innocent peoples.
The letter was not reported in the US news media.
Ahmadinejad began the
“Mr. George Bush, For some time now I have been thinking,
how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the
international arena. Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great
Messenger of God, Feel obliged to respect human rights, Present liberalism
as a civilization model, Announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of
nuclear weapons and WMDs, Make “War on Terror” his slogan, And finally, Work
towards the establishment of a unified international community - a community
which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, But at the
same time, have countries attacked; The lives, reputations and possessions
of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the … of a … criminals in a
village city, or convoy for example the entire village, city or convey set
Ahmadinejad declared that Zionism is the West’s apparatus of political
oppression against Muslims. He says the “Zionist regime” was imposed on the
Islamic world as a strategic bridgehead to ensure domination of the region
and its assets. This position is viewed as threatening to many in the West.
While threats and counter-threats escalates tensions in the Persian Gulf, I
believe it is important for the media to publish both sides of issues and be
as accurate as possible by seeking to build understanding rather than fear
- Peter Phillips
UPDATE BY Arash Norouzi
In May 2007, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution
calling on the U.N. Security Council to charge Ahmadinejad with the crime of
inciting genocide “because of his calls for the destruction of the State of
Israel” - a violation of the U.N.’s 1948 Genocide Convention - specifically
citing the false “wiped off the map” quote from October 2005.
It also called
for the U.N. to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, with the,
“potential means to the end of carrying out President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s
threats against Israel.”
This misquote has become a key component of
the push for war with Iran, a
war that would make Iraq look like the cakewalk it was predicted to be.
Attacking Iran would result in massive death and destruction, affect world
oil supplies, provoke terrorism, could initiate the next World War, and
might even include the use of nuclear weapons for the first time since WWII.
In this heated atmosphere, an accurate narrative is essential in averting
the next cataclysmic Mideast intervention. When President Bush emphasizes
the importance of taking the words of America’s enemies seriously, that
process begins with first determining just what exactly those words are.
Yet my article is about more than just clarifying a mistranslated statement.
It’s about the media, propaganda, plagiarism, language, false assumptions
...Functioning much like a puzzle, it engages readers by allowing them to
deconstruct the quote and its meaning themselves. This self-verification
process adds a compelling aspect in which credibility becomes largely
obsolete. The article’s ’punchline’ demonstrates undeniably that members of
the mainstream media knowingly spread this rumor, and readers are challenged
to check for themselves by comparing linked sources proving this claim.
The idea is not merely to contest a single misquote, but to also promote
skepticism about all pre-war intelligence. If this quote is false, then it’s
logical to assume that other accusations against Iran could be wrong
too - just as they were with Iraq.
The overwhelming ubiquity of this misquote has deterred others from
correcting what they probably view as a lost cause. Yet my article alone has
been viewed by millions, translated into at least half a dozen languages,
garnered radio interviews, inspired videos on YouTube, and become the
subject of an entire article in The Bangkok Post.
It got the attention of
people at the BBC, Washington Post, IAEA, State Department, United Nations,
and the Islamic Republic itself.
It’s been quoted by numerous journalists,
authors and academics, in published letters to the editor, and on call-in TV
shows such as on C-SPAN. The Associated Press has now begun citing the
“vanish from the page of time” phrase, adding that “independent analysts”
have refuted the “map” quote; and Dennis Kucinich was prepared to correct
the rumor when asked about the subject on TV recently.
These are hopeful signals that underscore the importance of alternative
voices in the media, and their potential effectiveness in influencing the
discourse. If the first casualty of war is the truth, then it’s up to the
truth tellers - whomever they may be - to enlighten us.
Back to Contents
Back to The Actual Iran Case
25 - Who Will Profit from Native Energy?
LiP Magazine, June 5, 2006
Title: “Native Energy Futures”
Author: Brian Awehali
Student Researchers: Ioana Lupu and Mayra Madrigal
Faculty Evaluator: Dolly Freidel, Ph.D.
Energy on Native American land is becoming big business. According to the
Indigenous Environmental Network, 35 percent of the fossil fuel resources in
the US are within Indian country. The Department of the Interior estimates
that Indian lands hold undiscovered reserves of almost 54 billion tons of
coal, 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 5.4 billion barrels of oil.
Tribal lands also contain enormous amounts of alternative energy.
blowing through Indian reservations in just four northern Great Plains
states could support almost 200,000 megawatts of wind power,” Winona LaDuke
told Indian Country Today in March 2005, “Tribal landholdings in the
southwestern US…could generate enough power to eradicate all fossil fuel
burning power plants in the US.”
The questions to be answered now are: what sort of energy will Indian lands
produce, who will make that decision, and who will end up benefiting from
According to Theresa Rosier, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian
“increased energy development in Indian and Alaska Native
communities could help the Nation have more reliable homegrown energy
This, she says, is,
“consistent with the President’s National
Energy Policy to secure America’s energy future.”
Rosier’s statement conveys quite a lot about how the government and the
energy sector intend to market the growing shift away from dependence on
foreign energy. The idea that “America’s energy future” should be linked to
having “more reliable homegrown energy supplies” can be found in native
energy-specific legislation that has already passed into law.
What this line
of thinking fails to take into account is that Native America is not the
same as US America. The domestic “supplies” in question belong to sovereign
nations, not to the United States or its energy sector.
So far, government plans to deregulate and step up the development of
domestic (native) energy resources is being spun as a way to produce clean,
efficient energy while helping Native Americans gain greater economic and
tribal sovereignty. Critics charge, however, that large energy companies are
simply looking to establish lucrative partnerships with tribal corporations,
which are largely free of regulation and federal oversight.
For example, in 2003, the Rosebud Sioux of South Dakota, in partnership with
NativeEnergy, LLC, completed the first large-scale native-owned wind turbine
in history. The project was billed as a way to bring renewable
energy–related jobs and training opportunities to the citizens of this
sovereign nation, who are among the poorest in all of North America.
NativeEnergy’s President and CEO Tom Boucher, an energy industry vet,
financed the Rosebud Sioux project by selling “flexible emissions standards”
created by the Kyoto Protocol. These are the tax-deductible pollution
credits from ecologically responsible companies (or in this case, Native
American tribes), which can then be sold to polluters wishing to “offset”
their carbon dioxide generation without actually reducing their emissions.
Since the Rosebud test case proved successful, NativeEnergy moved forward
with plans to develop a larger “distributed wind project,” located on eight
different reservations. NativeEnergy also became a majority Indian-owned
company in August 2005, when the pro-development Intertribal Council on
Utility Policy (COUP) purchased a majority stake in the company on behalf of
its member tribes.
The COUP-NativeEnergy purchase just happened to coincide with the passage of
the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The act contains a number of native
energy–specific provisions in its Title V, many of which set alarming
Most outrageously, it gave the US government the power to grant rights of
way through Indian lands without permission from the tribes - if deemed to be
in the strategic interests of an energy-related project. Under the guise of
“promoting tribal sovereignty,” the act also released the federal government
from liability with regard to resource development, shifting responsibility
for environmental review and regulation from the federal to tribal
Also, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network, the
act “rolls back the protections of…critical pieces of legislation that
grassroots indigenous peoples utilize to protect our sacred sites.” Some
critics have derided the 2005 act as a fire sale on Indian energy,
characterizing various incentives as a broad collection of subsidies
(federal handouts) for US energy companies.
America’s native peoples may attain a modicum of energy independence and
tribal sovereignty through the development of wind, solar, and other
renewable energy infrastructure on their lands.
But, according to Brian Awehali, it won’t come from getting into bed with, and becoming indebted to,
the very industry currently driving the planet to its doom.
UPDATE BY Brian Awehali
I believe the topic of this article was important and urgent because
sometimes all that glitters really is gold, even if the marketing copy says
it’s green. The long and utterly predictable history where indigenous
peoples and US government and corporate interests are both concerned
shouldn’t be forgotten as we enter the brave new green era.
for-profit energy schemes on Indian lands as a means of promoting tribal
sovereignty is both ludicrous and offensive, as are “green” development
plans intrinsically tied to the extraction of fossil fuels in the
deregulated Wild West of Indian Country. Energy companies are only
interested in native sovereignty because it means operations on Indian lands
are not subject to federal regulation or oversight.
This is why I included a
discussion in my article about the instructive example of the Alaska tribal
corporations and the ways they’ve mutated into multi-billion dollar loophole
exploiters. (My brief examination of Alaska tribal corporations drew heavily
from an excellent Mother Jones article, “Little Big Companies,” by
It’s also my belief that the probably well-intentioned idea of
“green tags,” carbon offset credits, and market-enabled “carbon neutrality”
should be examined very closely: Why are we introducing systems for
transferring (or trading) the carbon emissions of “First World” polluters to
those who contributed least to global warming?
I would argue that this is
merely a nice-sounding way for the overdeveloped world to purchase the right
to continue its pathologically unsustainable mode of existence, while doing
little to address the very grave ecological realities we now face.
It’s very hard to know what the impact of this story was, or to gauge
mainstream response to it. In my experience, the so-called mainstream has a
difficult time absorbing and understanding Native American issues, not least
because this mainstream tends to think of indigenous peoples in North
America in historical, rather than contemporary, terms.
I am, however,
encouraged by the number of journalists and writers who are beginning to ask
critical questions about green-washing, and I see my story as adding to that
collective body of work.
For more information about energy policy and its impact on indigenous
communities of North America, I recommend visiting the Indigenous
Environmental Network (www.ienearth.org), and checking out their
Back to Contents