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The Flaws in the 9-11 Conspiracy

by DOUGLAS HERMAN

"The affairs of man and nature are not determined at random or by mere chance," -CIA liaison Colonel Fletcher Prouty, "JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy."

The more I consider the master plan for 911, the more I marvel at what went right. Then I roll my eyes and shake my head at what went wrong.

The flaws are obvious and leap out at any objective observer not blinded by denial or a false sense of patriotism.

Anyone possessing logic and a basic knowledge of science and the rudiments of human behavior can see the gigantic flaws.

Still, when you consider that the mainstream media in America is corporate-owned and those corporations earn billions in war profits (directly related to 911),the deathly silence about the many obvious flaws in the perfect plan does surprise you.

Presently, the planners enjoy immunity for the time being, enjoying a godlike sense of power to commit acts, however flawed and criminal, without repercussion.

This hubris, this overwhelming feeling of power, is itself a strength and flaw. The powerful do not fear the weak. As long as the master planners, however flawed and corrupt, hold top positions in the Department of Justice (sic), Department of War, both houses of Congress and the White House--plus the US media, they understandably feel invincible.

Let us examine a few of the biggest flaws in the master plan of 911. The master planners--for the sake of argument let us call this group the Project For a New American Century or PNAC--discussed a new Pearl Harbor attack which took place soon after their blueprint. They knew America needed enemies and needed control of oil-bearing countries and needed to prop up the US dollar.

So they devised a plan that would terrorize Americans, allow the rise of a profitable, trillion dollar police state (while embezzling over a trillion dollars through the Pentagon), while smashing the enemies of Israel at US taxpayer expense and with American blood.

Who Rules America?

by James Petras

In the broadest and deepest sense, understanding how the US political system functions, the decisions of war and peace are taken, who gets what, how and why, requires that we address the question of ‘Who rules America?’ In tackling the question of ‘ruling’ one needs to clarify a great deal of misunderstandings, particularly the confusion between those who make governmental decisions and the socio-economic institutional parameters which define the interests to be served. ‘Ruling’ is exacting: it defines the ‘rules’ to be followed by the political and administrative decision-makers in formulating budgetary expenditures, taxes, labor and social legislation, trade policy, military and strategic questions of war and peace. The ‘rules’ are established, modified and adjusted according to the specific composition of the leading sectors of a ruling class (RC). Rules change with shifts in power within the ruling class. Shifts in power can reflect the internal dynamics of an economy or the changing position of economic sectors in the world economy, particularly the rise and decline of economic competitors.

The ‘rules’ imposed by one economic sector of the RC at a time of favorable conditions in the world economy, will be altered as new dominant economic sectors emerge and unfavorable external conditions weaken the former dominant economic sectors. As we shall describe below the relative and absolute decline of the US manufacturing sector is directly related to the rise of a multidimensional ‘financial sector’ and to the greater competitiveness of other manufacturing countries. The result is an accelerating process of liberalization of the economy favored by the ascending financial sectors. Liberalization in pursuit of unregulated flows of investments, buyouts, acquisitions and trade increases the financial sector’s profits, commissions, incomes and bonuses. Liberalization facilitates the financial sector’s acquisition of assets. The declining competitiveness of the older ruling class manufacturing sector dependent on statist protectionism and subsidies leads to ‘rear-guard’ policies, attempting to fashion an unwieldy policy of liberalization abroad and protectionism at home.

The answer to the question of who rules depends on specifying the historical moment and place on the world economy. The answer is complicated by the fact that shifts among ‘sectors’ of the ruling class involves a prolonged ‘transitional period’. During this period declining and ascending sectors may intermingle and the class members of declining sectors ‘convert’ to the rising sector. Hence while power between economic sectors may change, the leading class groupings may not lose out or decline. They merely shift their investments and adapt to the new and more lucrative opportunities created by the ascending sector.

For example, while US manufacturing sector has declined relative to ‘finance capital’, many of the major investment institutions have shifted to the new financial ‘growth sectors.’ Concomitantly, the converted sectors of the ruling class will shift their policies toward greater liberalization and deregulation, thus severely weakening the rear-guard demands of the uncompetitive manufacturing sector. Equally important within the declining economic sectors of the RC, drastic structural changes may ensue, to regain profitable returns and retain influence and power. Foremost of these changes is relocation of production overseas to low wage, low tax, non-union locations, the introduction of IT technology designed to reduce labor costs and increase productivity, and diversification of economic activity to incorporate lucrative financial ‘services’.

For example General Electric has moved from manufacturing toward financial services, relocated labor intensive activity off-shore and computerized operations. Through these moves the distinction between ‘manufacturing’ and financial capital has been made obsolete in describing the ‘ruling class’.

To the degree that older manufacturing capitalists retain any economic and political weight in the RC, they have done so via sub-contracting overseas to Asia and Mexico (General Motors/Ford), invested in overseas plants to capture foreign markets, or have been converted in large part into commercial and importing operations (shoes, textiles, toys, electronics and computer chips).

Locally based manufacturers which remain in the RC are largely found among military contractors living off the largesse of state spending and depending on the political support of congressional and trade union officials, eager to secure employment for a shrinking manufacturing labor force.

During this transitional period of rapid and all-encompassing changes in the ruling class, enormous financial opportunities have opened up throughout the world. As a result of political tensions within the ‘governing class’, key policymakers are drawn directly from the most representative institutions of Wall Street. Key economic policies, especially those which are most relevant to the RC, tend to be overwhelmingly in the hands of tried and experienced top leaders from Wall Street.

Despite (or because of) the ascendancy of various sectors of financial capital in the RC, and their agreements on a host of ‘liberalizing’ economic policies, they are not homogeneous in all of their political outlooks, party affiliations, or their foreign policy outlook. Most of these political differences are questions of small matter – except on one issue where there is a major and growing rift, namely in the Middle East. A sector of the RC strongly aligned with the state of Israel supports a bellicose policy toward the Jewish state’s adversaries (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Palestine) as opposed to another sector of the RC favoring a diplomatic approach, directed toward securing closer ties with Arab and Persian elites. Given the highly militarized turn in US foreign policy (largely due to the ascendancy of neo-conservative ideologues, the strong influence of the Zionist Lobby, and the instability and failures of their policies in the Middle East and China) the RC has pressed for and secured direct control over foreign economic policy.

The tensions and conflicts within the RC – especially between the Zioncons and the ‘free marketeers’ – have been papered over by the enormous economic benefits accruing to all sectors. All RC financial sectors have been enriched by White House and Congressional policies. All have benefited from the ascendancy of ‘liberalizing regimes’ throughout the world. They have reaped the gains of the expansionary phase of the international economy. While the entire ruling financial, real estate and trading sectors have been the main beneficiaries, it has been the financial groups, particularly the investment banks that have led the way and provide the political leadership. Ascendancy of Financial Capital

‘Finance capital’ has many faces and cannot be understood without reference to specific sectors. Investment banks, pension funds, hedge funds, savings and loan banks, investment funds are only a few of the operative managers of a multi-trillion dollar economy. Moreover each of these sectors have specialized departments engaged in particular types of speculative-financial activity including commodity and currency, trading, consulting and managing acquisition and mergers. Despite a few exposés, court cases, fines and an occasional jailing, the financial sector writes its rules, controls its regulators and has secured license to speculate on everything, everywhere and all the time. They have created the framework or universe in which all other economic activities (manufacturing, retail sales and real estate) take place.

‘Finance capital’ is not an isolated sector and cannot be counterposed to the ‘productive economy’ except in the most marginal ‘local activity’. In large part finance capital interacts with and is the essential driving force in real estate speculation, agro-business, commodity production and manufacturing activity. To a large degree ‘market prices’ are as influenced by speculative intervention as they are by ‘supply and demand’. Equally important, the entire architecture of the ‘paper empire’ (the entire complex of inter-related financial investments) is ultimately dependent on the production of goods and services.

The structure of power and wealth takes the form of an inverted triangle in which a vast army of workers, peasants and salary employees produce value which becomes the basis for near and remote, simple and exotic, lucrative and speculative financial instruments. The transfer of value from the productive activities of labor up through the ladder and branches of financial instruments is carried out through various vehicles: direct financial ownership of enterprises, credit, debt leveraging, buyouts and mergers. The tendency of ‘productive capitalists’ is to start-up an enterprise, innovate, exploit labor, capture markets and then ‘sell-out’ or go ‘public’ (stock offerings).

The financial sector acts as combined intermediary, manager, proxy-purchaser and consultant, capturing substantial fees and expanding their economic empires and… preparing the way to higher levels of acquisitions and mergers… ‘Finance capital’ is the midwife of the concentration and centralization of wealth and capital as well as the direct owner of the means of production and distribution. From exacting a larger and larger ‘tribute’ or ‘rent’ (commission or fee) on each large-scale capital transaction, ‘finance capital’ has moved toward penetrating and controlling an enormous array of economic activities, transferring capital across national and sectoral boundaries, extracting profits and dumping shares according to the business, product and profit cycle.

Within the ruling class, the financial elite is the most parasitical component and exceeds the corporate bosses (CEOs) and most entrepreneurs in wealth and annual payments. It falls short of the annual income and assets of the super-rich entrepreneurs like William Gates and Michael Dell.

The financial ruling class is internally stratified into three sub-groups: at the top are big private equity bankers and hedge-fund managers, followed by the Wall Street chief executives, who in turn are above the next rung of senior associate or vice-presidents of a big private equity funds who is followed by their counterparts at Wall Street’s public equity funds. Top hedge fund managers and executive have made $1 billion dollars or more a year – several times what the CEO’s make at publicly traded investment houses. For example in 2006 Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, was paid $53.4 million, while Dan Ochs, executive of the hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital paid himself $220 million dollars. That same year the Morgan Stanley CEO received $40 million dollars, while the chief executive of the hedge fund Citadel was paid over $300 million dollars.

While the ‘hedge fund’ speculators receive the highest annual salaries, the private equity executives can equal their hundreds of millions payments through deal fees and special dividend payments from portfolio companies. This was especially true in 2006 when buyouts reached a record $710 billion dollars. The big bucks for the private equity bosses comes from the accumulating stake executives have in portfolio companies. They typically skim 20% of profits, which are realized when a group sells or lists a portfolio company. At that time, the payday runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The subset of the financial ruling class is the ‘junior bankers’ of private equity firms who take about $500,000 a year. At the bottom rung are the ‘junior bankers’ of publicly traded investment houses (‘Wall Street’) who average $350,000 a year. The financial ruling class is made up of these multi-billionaire elites from the hedge funds, private and public equity bankers and their associates in big prestigious corporate legal and accounting firms. They in turn are linked to the judicial and regulatory authorities, through political appointments and contributions, and by their central position in the national economy.

Within the financial ruling class, political leadership does not usually come from the richest hedge fund speculators, even less among the ‘junior bankers’. Political leaders come from the public and private equity banks, namely Wall Street - especially Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, the Carlyle Group and others. They organize and fund both major parties and their electoral campaigns. They pressure, negotiate and draw up the most comprehensive and favorable legislation on global strategies (liberalization and deregulation) and sectoral policies (reductions in taxes, government pressure on countries like China to ‘open’ their financial services to foreign penetration and so on). They pressure the government to ‘bailout’ bankrupt and failed speculative firms and to balance the budget by lowering social expenditures instead of raising taxes on speculative ‘windfall’ profits.

The Dance of the Billions: Finance Capital Reaps the Profits from their Power

Speculators of the world had a spectacular year in 2006 as global equities hit double digit gains in the US, European and Asian markets. China, Brazil, Russia and India were centers of speculative profiteering as the China FTSE index rose 94%, Russia’s stock market rose 60%, Brazil’s Bovespa was up 32.9% and India’s Sensex climbed 46.7%. In large part the stock markets rose because of cheap credit (to speculate), strong liquidity (huge financial, petrol and commodity profits and rents) and so-called ‘reforms’ which gave foreign investors greater access to markets in China, India and Brazil. The biggest profits in stock market speculation occurred under putative ‘center-left’ regimes (Brazil and India) and ‘Communist’ China, which have realigned themselves with the most retrograde and ‘leading’ sectors of their financial ruling class.

Russia’s booming stock market reflects a different process involving the re-nationalization of gas and petroleum sectors, at the expense of the gangster-oligarchs of the Yeltsin era and the ‘give-away’ contracts to European/US oil and gas companies (Shell, Texaco). As a result huge windfall profits have been re-cycled internally among the new Putin era millionaires who have been engaged in conspicuous consumption, speculation and investment in joint ventures with foreign manufacturers in transport and energy related industries.

The shift toward foreign-controlled speculative capital emerging in China, India and Brazil as opposed to ‘national and state’ funded investment in Russia accounts for the irrational and vitriolic hostility exhibited by the western financial press to President Putin.

One of the major sources of profit-making is in the area of ‘mergers and acquisitions’ (M&A) – the buying and selling of multinational conglomerates, with $3,900 billion in deals for 2006. Investment banks took $18.8 billion dollars in ‘fees’ leading to multi-million dollar bonuses for ‘M&A’ bankers. M&A, hostile or benign, are largely speculative activity fueled by cheap debt and leading to the greater concentration of ownership and profits. Today it is said 2% of the households own 80% of the world’s assets. Within this small elite, a fraction embedded in financial capital owns and controls the bulk of the world’s assets and organizes and facilitates further concentration of conglomerates. The value of speculative M&A on a world scale is 16% higher than at the height of the ‘DOTCOM’ speculative boom in 2000. In the US alone over $400 billion dollars worth of private equity deals were struck in 2005, three times higher than the previous year.

To understand who are the leading members of the financial ruling class one needs only to look at the ten leading private equity banks and the value and number of M&A deals in which they were engaged:

Private equity rankings by M&A deals (Year to Dec 20 2006)

US Value $bn Number

Blackstone 85.3 12

Texas Pacific 81.9 11

Bain Capital Partners 74.7 9

Thomas H Lee Partners 53.4 6

Goldman Sachs 51.2 5

Carlyle 50.0 14

Apollo Management 44.9 7

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts 44.5 3

Merrill Lynch 35.9 3

Cerberus Capital Management 28.6 4

Industry Total 402.6 1,157

(Financial Times 12/27/2006 p 13 - FT montage: Bob Haslett The crucial fact is that these private equity banks are involved in every sector of the economy, in every region of the world economy and increasingly speculate in the conglomerates which are acquired.

In the era of the ascendancy of speculative finance capital it is not surprising that the three leading investment banks, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns reported record annual profits, based on their expansion in Europe and Asia, and their transfer of profits from manufacturing and services to the financial sector. For the year 2006, Goldman Sachs (GS) recorded the most profitable year ever for a Wall Street investment bank, on the basis of big (speculative) ‘trading gains and lucrative investment in the world’s worst sweatshops in Asia. GS reported a 69% jump in annual earnings to $9.54 billion dollars. Lehman Brothers (LB) and Bear Stearns (BS) equity banks also recorded record earnings. LB earned a record $4billion for the year. SB earned a record $2.1 billion dollars. For the year Lehman set aside about $334,000 dollars per junior banker, while top speculators and bankers earned a big multiple of that amount.

For the year 2006 investment banking revenue reached nearly $38 billion dollars compared to $25 billion dollars in 2004 – an increase of 34% (Financial Times Dec. 13, 2006 p.15).

The dominance of finance capital has been nurtured by the speculative activity of the controllers and directors of state-owned companies. ‘State’ ownership is an ambiguous term since it raises a further more precise question: ‘Who owns the state’? In the Middle East there are seven state-owned oil and gas companies. In six of those companies the principal beneficiaries are a small ruling elite. They recycle their revenues and profits through US and EU investment banks largely into bonds, real estate and other speculative financial instruments (FT Dec 15, 2006 p.11). State ownership and speculative capital, in the context of closed ‘Gulf-State’ type of ruling classes, are complementary, not contradictory, activities. The ruling regime in Dubai converts oil rents into building a regional financial center. Many Jewish-American-led Wall Street investment banks cohabitate with new Islamic-based investment houses, both reaping speculative returns.

Much of the investment funds now in the hands of US investment banks, hedge funds and other sectors of the financial ruling class originated in profits extracted from workers in the manufacturing and service sector. Two inter-related processes led to the growth and dominance of finance capital: the transfer of capital and profits from the ‘productive’ to the financial and speculative sector and the transfer of finance capital overseas, in the form of take-over of foreign assets now equivalent of around 80% of the US GDP. The roots of finance capital are embedded in three types of intensified exploitation: 1) of labor (via extended hours, transfer of pension and health costs from capital to labor, frozen minimum wage, stagnant and declining real wages and salaries); 2) of manufacturing profits (through higher rents, inter-sectoral transfers to financial instruments, interest payments and fees and commissions for mergers and acquisitions); and 3) via state fiscal policies by lowering capital gains taxes, increasing tax write-offs and tax incentives for overseas investments and imposing regressive local, state and federal taxes.

The result is increasing inequality between, on the one hand, senior and junior bankers, public, private equity, investment and hedge fund directors, and their entourage of lawyers, accountants and, on the other hand, wage and salaried workers. Income ratios range between 400 to 1 and 1,000 to 1, between the ruling class and median wage and salary workers is the norm.

Crisis of the Working and Middle Class – (Begin to Worry the Ruling Class)

Living standards for the working and middle class and the urban poor have declined substantially over the past thirty years (1978-2006) to a point where one can point to a burgeoning crises. While real hourly wages in constant 2005 dollars have stagnated, health, pension, energy and educational costs (increasingly borne by wage and salary workers) have skyrocketed. If extensions in work time and intensification of work place production (increases in productivity) are included in the equation, it is clear that living (including working) conditions have declined sharply. Even the financial press can write articles entitled:

“Why Ordinary Americans have Missed Out on the Benefits of Growth” (FT November 2, 2006 p.11). Financial and investment banks are in charge of advising and directing the ‘restructuring’ of enterprises for mergers and acquisitions by downsizing, outsourcing, give-backs and other cost-cutting measures. This has led to downward mobility for the wage and salaried workers who retain their jobs even as their tenure is more precarious. In other words, the greater the salaries, bonuses, profits and rents for the financial ruling class engaged in ‘restructuring’ for M&As, the greater the decline in living standards for the working and middle class.

One measure of the enormous influence of the financial ruling class in heightening the exploitation of labor is found in the enormous disparity between productivity and wages. Between 2000 and 2005, the US economy grew 12%, and productivity (measured by output per hour worked in the business sector) rose 17% while hourly wages rose only 3%. Real family income fell during the same period (FT November 2, 2006 p.11). According to a poll in the fall of November 2006, three quarters of Americans say they are either worse off or no better off than they were six years ago (FT November 3, 2006 p.13).

The impact of the policies of the financial ruling class on both the manufacturing and service sectors transcends their profit skimming, credit leverage on business operations and management practices. It embraces the entire architecture of the income, investment and class structure. The growth of vast inequalities between the yearly payments of the financial ruling class and the medium salary of workers has reached unprecedented levels. The financial elite receives something in the range of a ratio of 500 up to 1000 times that of an average worker, depending on how narrowly or broadly we conceive of the financial ruling class. Members of the financial ruling class have noted these vast and growing inequalities and express some concern over their possible social and political repercussions. According to the Financial Times (December 21, 2006), billionaire Stephen Schwartzman, CEO of the private equity group Blackstone warned:

“that the widening gap between Wall Street’s lavish pay packages and middle America’s stagnating wages risks causing a political and social backlash against the US’s ‘New Rich’”. Treasury Secretary and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson admitted that median wage stagnation was a problem and that amidst “strong economic expansion many Americans simply are not feeling (sic!) the benefits” (FT November 2, 2006 p. 11). Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank testified before the Senate that “inequality is potentially a concern for the US economy…to the extent that incomes and wealth are spreading apart. I think that is not a good trend” (Ibid). In 2005 the proportion of national income to GDP going to profits, rents and other non-wage and salary sources is at record levels – 43%. Inequality in the distribution of national income in the US is the worst in the entire developed capitalist world. Moreover studies of time series data reveal that in the US inequality increased far greater and intergenerational social mobility was far more difficult in the US than any country in Western Europe. The growth of monstrous and rigid class inequalities reflects the narrow social base of an economy dominated by finance capital, its ingrown intergenerational linkages and the exorbitant entry fees ($50,000 per annum tuition with room and board) to elite private universities and post-graduate business schools. Equally important, the political power of finance capital and its ‘associated’ conglomerates wield uncontested political power in the US in comparison to any country in Europe. As a result the US government redistributes far less through the tax and social security, health and educational system than other countries. (ibid)

While some financial rulers express some anxiety about a ‘backlash’ from the deepening class divide, not a single one publicly supports any tax or other redistributive measures. Instead they call for increases in educational up-grading, job retraining and greater geographical mobility, though it is precisely among the educated middle class which is suffering salary stagnation.

Neither the Democratic Party majority in Congress, nor the Republican-controlled Executive offer any proposals to challenge the financial ruling class’s dominance nor are there any proposals to reverse its most retrograde policies causing the growing inequalities, wage stagnation and the increasing rigidity of the class structure. The reason has been reported in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times: An overwhelming chunk of the funds that Democrats raise nationally for election campaigns comes either from Wall Street financiers or Silicon Valley software entrepreneurs. (FT November 3, 2006 p. 13). The Democratic congressional electoral campaign was tightly controlled by two of Wall Street’s favorite Democrats, Senator Charles ‘Israel First’ Schumer and Congressman Rahm Immanuel, who selectively funded candidates who were pro-war, pro-Wall Street and unconditionally pro-Israel. Democrats slated to head strategic Congressional committees like Zion-Lib Barney Frank have already announced they have ‘good working relations’ with Wall Street. The Financial Ruling Class Also Governs

Ruling classes rule the economy, are at the top of the social structure and establish the parameters and rules within which the politicians operate. More often than not few actually engage directly in congressional politics, preferring to build economic empires while channeling money toward candidates prepared to do their bidding. Only when an apparent division occurs, especially within the Executive, between the interests of the ruling class and the policies of the regime will elite members of the ruling class intervene directly or take a senior executive position to ‘rectify’ policy. Ruling Class Political Power: Paulson Takes Over Treasury

Several sharp divergences occurred during the Bush regime between finance capital and policymakers. These policies prejudiced or threatened to seriously damage important sectors of the financial ruling class. Theses include: 1) the aggressive militarist and protectionist policies pursued by senior Pentagon officials and ‘Zion-con’ Senators toward China; 2) the political veto by Congress of the sale of US port management to a Gulf State-owned company and of a US oil company to China; 3) the failure of the Bush regime to secure the privatization of social security and to weaken the regulatory measures introduced in the aftermath of the massive corporate (Enron and World Com) and Wall Street swindles and 4. the need to put a check on the uncontrolled growth of fiscal deficits resulting from the Middle East wars, the ballooning trade deficits and the weakening dollar.

The headlines of the financial press (FT December 4, 2006 p.3) spell out finance capital’s direct intervention into key White House policy making:

“Goldman Sachs Top Alumni Wield Clout in White House”

and “Former Bank Executives Hold Unprecedented Power within a US Administration” US financial and manufacturing ruling classes have long influenced, advised and formulated policy for US Presidents. But given the stakes, the risks and the opportunities facing the financial ruling class, it has moved directly into key government posts. What is especially unprecedented is the dominant presence of members from one investment bank – Goldman Sachs. In late November 2006, Goldman Sachs (GS) senior executive William Dudley took over the Federal Reserve Bank of New York markets group. Hank Paulson, ex-CEO of GS is Treasury Secretary – explicitly anointed by President Bush as undisputed czar of all economic policies. Reuben Jeffrey, a former GS managing partner is the chief regulator of commodity futures and options trading, Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff (he decides who Bush sees, when and for how long – in other words arranges Bush’s agenda) served as GS executive director. Robert Steel, former GS vice chairman, advises Paulson on domestic finance. Randall Fort, ex-GS director of global security, advises Secretary of State Rice. The ex-GS officials also dominate Bush’s working group on financial markets and financial crisis management. The investment bankers wielding state power will control the Bush regime’s biggest housing giants (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), tax policy, energy markets – all issues that directly affect the investment banks. In other words, the financial banks will be ‘regulated’ by their own executives. The degree of finance capital’s stranglehold on political power is evidenced by the total lack of criticism by either party. As one financial newspaper noted:

“Neither Mr. Bush nor Goldman have been criticized by Democrats for holding too many powerful jobs in part because the investment bank (GS) also has deep ties to Democrats. Goldman represented the biggest single donor base to the Democrats ahead of this (2006) year’s mid-term election”. (FT December 4, 2006)

Among Paulson’s first moves was to organize a top level delegation to China and a working group to work on forming a ‘strategic partnership’. Its task is to accelerate the ‘opening’ of China’s financial markets to penetration and majority takeovers by US operated investment funds. This represents a potential multi-trillion dollar window of opportunity. By seizing the initiative Paulson hopes to undercut the anti-China cohort of neo-con, Pentagon and White House militarists, as well as backwater backers of Taiwanese independence and Congressional chauvinist demagogues like Senator Schumer who threaten to undermine lucrative US-Chinese economic relations.

To lower the fiscal deficit, Paulson proposes to ‘reform’ entitlements - reduce spending on Medicare and Medicaid and to work out a deal with the Democrats to privatize Social Security piecemeal.

Where finance capital has not been able to fashion a coherent economic strategy is with regard to Washington’s Middle East wars. Because of the pull of the Zionist Lobby on many of leading lights of Wall Street – including its unofficial mouthpieces – the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times – Paulson has failed to formulate a strategy. He sis not even pay lip service to the Baker Iraq Study Group report’s proposal to gradually draw down troops for fear of alienating some key senior executives of Goldman Sachs, Stern, Lehman Brothers et al who follow the ‘Israel First’ line. As a result, Paulson has to work around the Lobby by focusing on dealing with the Gulf city-state monarchies and Saudi Arabia in order to avoid another disastrous repetition of the Dubai Port management sale. Paulson above all wants to avoid Zionist political interference with the two way flow of finance capital between the petrol-financial-banking complexes in the Gulf States and Wall Street.

He wants to facilitate US finance capital’s access to the large dollar surpluses in the region. It is not surprising that the Israeli regime has accommodated their wealthy and influential financial backers on Wall Street by drawing a distinction between ‘moderate’ (Gulf States) with whom they claim common interests and ‘Islamic extremists’. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has directed his zealots in the US-Jewish Lobby to take heed of the refinements in the Party Line in dealing with US-Arab relations.

Nevertheless with all its concentrated political power and its enormous wealth and economic leverage over the economy, Wall Street cannot control or avoid serious economic vulnerabilities or possible catastrophic military-political events.

The Future of the Financial Ruling Class

What is abundantly clear is that one of the main threats to world markets – and the health of the financial ruling class – is an Israeli military attack on Iran. This will extend warfare throughout Asia and the Islamic world, drive energy prices beyond levels heretofore known, cause a major recession and likely a crash in financial markets. But as in the case of the relationships between Israel and the US, the Zionist Lobby calls the shots and its Wall Street acolytes acquiesce. As matters now stand, the Jewish Lobby supports the escalation of the Iraq war and the savaging of Palestine, Somalia and Afghanistan. It has neutralized the biggest and most concerted effort by big name centrist political figures to alter White House policy. Baker, Carter, former military commanders of US forces in Iraq have been savaged by the Zionist ideologues. Under their influence the White House is putting into practice the war strategy presented by the ‘American’ Enterprise Institute (a Zioncon thinktank). As a result parallel to Bush’s appointment of Paulson and Wall Streeters to run imperial economic policy, he has appointed an entire new pro-war civilian military-security apparatus to escalate and extend the Middle East wars to Africa (Somalia) and Latin America (Venezuela).

Sooner or later a break between Wall Street and the militarists will occur. The additional costs of an escalating wars, the continual ballooning debt payments, huge imbalances in the balance of payments and decreasing inflows of capital as multi-national repatriate profits and overseas central banks diversify their currency reserves will force the issue. The enormous and growing inequalities, the massive concentration of wealth and capital at a time of declining living standards and stagnant income for the vast majority, gives the financial ruling class little political capital or credibility if and when an economic and financial crisis breaks.

With foreign investors owning 47% of all marketable US Treasury bonds in 2006 compared to 33% in 2001 and foreign holdings of US corporate debt up to 30% today, from 23% just 5 years ago, a rapid sell-off would totally destabilize US financial markets and the economic system as well as the world economy. A rapid sell-off of dollars with catastrophic consequences cannot be ruled out if US-Zionist militarism continues to run amuck, creating conditions of extended and prolonged warfare.

The paradox is that some of the most wealthy and powerful beneficiaries of the ascendancy of finance capital are precisely the same class of people who are financing their own self-destruction. While cheap finance fueling multi-billion dollar mergers, acquisitions, commissions and executive payoffs, heightened militarism operates on a budget plagued by tax reductions, exemptions and evasions for the financial ruling class and ever greater squeezing of the overburdened wage and salary classes. Something has to break the cohabitation between ruling class financiers and political militarists. They are running in opposite directions. One is investing capital abroad and the other spending borrowed funds at home. For the moment there are no signs of any serious clashes at the top, and in the middle and working classes there are no signs of any political break with the two Wall Street parties or any challenge to the militarist-Zionist stranglehold on Congress. Likely it will take a catastrophe, like a White House-back Israeli nuclear attack on Iran to detonate the kind of crisis which will provoke a deep and widespread popular backlash of all things military, financial and made in Israel.

And the entire scenario would be wrapped around a "terror" event concocted by a relatively few men without morals who planned to make a huge amount of money.

Diabolical, yet perfectly brilliant, however flawed.

The flaws point clearly to Israeli involvement in 911 but implicate US overseers who conveniently looked the other way all throughout the "terrorist" attack. The chief flaw seems to be with the hijackers

themselves. They behaved unlike any religious ideologue/ fanatic ever. They behaved like pimps. They behaved like very bad actors who deviate from the script. They partied nonstop and tossed money around like confetti. They gambled. They frolicked with strippers at bars and on yachts. They acted badly and screamed at bystanders about what they intended to do.

In short they appeared to be role players, rather than religious ideologues, paid for by powerful sponsors.

And all the while they lived next to highly secure US government bases. They lived on the exact same streets as Israeli operatives posing as art dealers, who also attempted to penetrate highly secure US government bases.

Anyone see a flaw here? The "hijackers," fit the psychological profile of pretenders and posers.

Or patsies controlled, handled, followed, manipulated or directed by the top two governments, Israel and the US, parties that fit the profile of conspirators exactly.

Indeed, the Israelis appear to be minders--babysitters even--of the hijackers, aware of their every move.

Another apparent flaw. The airplanes. Investigative reporter Greg Szymanski at www.arcticbeacon.com went so far as to note that many of the "destroyed" planes remained on active rolls long after 911.

With the convenient NORAD standdown, the remote controlled planes could safely fly through the skies.

Otherwise a USAF top gun could slide up close to those big birds and radio back that they were NOT the flights 11, 175, 77 or 93.

So NORAD fighters had to be far from the action. The flaw here is that the fingerprints of conspiratorial guilt lead directly back to Dick Cheney or General Eberhart. Because within five minutes of that second plane striking the WTC, everyone in America knew the skies over Washington DC should have been---would have been---secure if NORAD acted properly

The gigantic flaw is that Al Qaeda does not control NORAD but top US officials do The next obvious flaw is how to topple the Security & Exchange (SEC) records building at the WTC-7 without striking it with an airplane or without a major fire. This flaw worried the master planners all throughout September 11, 2001.

The arsonists had done a professional job of evacuating everyone and then systematically torching as many floors in the building as they could. But still, compared to many other major fires in steel skyscrapers, the spot fires in WTC-7 resembled exactly what it was: arson.

Predictably, the US media and scholarly "experts" of academia (Bought and paid for by the US government) did their best to explain away the collase of WTC-7.

Still the peculiar collapse, caught on video and film, of the building falling straight down and close to freefall gravitational speed, remains a flaw by the master planners.

They factored on the many videos of the second plane smacking the WTC but did not factor for the endless video record of the controlled demolition of WTC-7.

Another major flaw also pertains to video tape. At the Pentagon the FBI collected CCTV tapes from surrounding businesses and government cameras.

When no video images were forthcoming, coupled with the lack of debris, Americans naturally assumed a conspiracy.

The flaw was in the planning.

The conspirators should have realized videos would indicate an aircraft but not the Boeing Flight 93 and assembled fuzzy images of an exact copy of the big Boeing beforehand ready for public consumption. The flaw in the Put Options--investors betting that airline stock would plummet after 911--was explained away as one investment firm advising its subscribers to acquire an abnormally large amount of such options.

But who told the firm? I surmise that someone close to the master plan told someone connected to the investment firm to buy. Not surprisingly, the heads of the CIA have always enjoyed friendly ties to large investment firms.

Many former top CIA officials retire to take positions at top Wall Street banks.

Another huge flaw remains the crushed trucks laden with gold discovered weeks later in the basement of the WTC.

Who loaded those trucks and why? Certainly NOT anyone connected to the Islamic terrorists. The trucks indicate a huge slip in the planning and execution and point to some group who knew beforehand the buildings were coming down. They decided to profit from their insider knowledge, probably without the consent of the master planners.

Curiously, the New York media let the story die rather than ask difficult questions.

The Internet linked and filed the newsreport of the crushed truck laden with gold bars, otherwise the US media would deny the story as an "urban legend."

These are just a few of the more evident flaws in the master plan. Dozens more remain. Any good investigator could pick apart the official story. 911 remains the greatest unsolved crime of the century. But because the master planners control both the investigative bodies and the US media, they continue to breath free and rake in the profits from their crime.

Colonel Prouty, government whistleblower forty years ago, wrote: "Almost everyone who has taken the time to do any reading and thinking about that crime knows this is a game for the biggest stake of all--absolute control of the government of the United States of America; and, with control of this government, control of the world. And yet the real crime underlying all of this has not even been identified, stated, and charged.

"The real criminals still walk the streets, run their corporations, control their banks, and pull strings throughout their political and financial machines."

*** USAF veteran and amateur sleuth, Douglas Herman wrote the true crime novel, The Guns of Dallas. Email at douglasherman7@yahoo.com

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED http://www.rense.com/general74/pplan.htm

The truth .mysite

U.S. behind reign of terror sweeping Philippines

By Teresa Gutierrez, Cebu City, Philippines

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Jan. 8—Our trip coincided with the scheduled meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which was to take place the first week of December in Cebu City. ASEAN’s main role is to facilitate economic and political penetration of the area for imperialism. However, the Philippine government announced that the ASEAN meeting would be cancelled due to a reported typhoon that was to hit the island at the same time. It was evident, however, that the summit of 25 Asian countries was actually cancelled due to the political typhoon sweeping the country.

Major demonstrations and massive political sentiment against the president of the country, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, were the real reasons the summit was cancelled. As of this writing, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has announced that the ASEAN summit will take place here in Cebu City from Jan. 10 to 15.

One of the most outstanding developments revealed to our delegation was the tremendous wave of repression hitting the Filipino population. Since 2001, over 700 people in the Philippines have been killed or disappeared. The wave of repression against the people is so stark that every week since 2004 approximately two activists have been killed and one has disappeared.

This alarming situation was described to us repeatedly, confirming published reports by several sources. Amnesty International issued a report in August stating its concern over “continued violation of human rights in the country.”

In fact, during the two-week period since we arrived, a total of seven people have been reported missing or killed by the official newspapers of this country.

The findings of the “Stop the Killings in the Philippines Campaign,” published by the IBON Foundation, concluded that, “The pattern of assassinations and political persecution of activists, members of people’s movements, and leftist leaders in the Philippines has become an urgent international issue.”

IBON continued, “While killings and summary executions are not rare in the Philippines, this trend of political assassinations intensified in 2004 during the national elections, and has continued in the last two years—making it possibly the worst period for human rights violations since the Marcos era.”

Behind the wave of terror: U.S. imperialism

The wave of terror currently sweeping the Philippines is part and parcel of U.S. imperialism’s historical and bloody drive to dominate and control the South East Asian region, especially the Philippines. These aims are best capsulated in the words of U.S. Sen. Alfred Beveridge when he said in 1900, “The country that rules the Pacific, rules the world.”

U.S. imperialism invaded and occupied the Philippines and other countries of the Asia Pacific region at the beginning of the 20th century.

Indeed, East Asia is key to imperialist aims to control markets and make ever greater profits. Over 2.5 billion people live in this region—one-third of the world’s population—and their economies are 25 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Southeast Asia is 9 percent of the world’s population and 5 percent of the global GDP.

The region is home to some of the most strategic countries in the world: China, Korea and Vietnam, which have all been at the center of imperialism’s war drive. Japan, an imperialist country, is a major rival to Wall Street.

According to the Institute of Political Economy, based in the Philippines, the U.S. currently has more than 386,000 U.S. troops deployed in 150 countries, including 70,000 troops in East Asia. There were 850 U.S. military bases in 138 counties as of 2005. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are key nations to Washington, used in every way possible to maintain its domination in the area.

The task of these thousands of troops is to make sure that the main strategic objectives of the U.S. are protected in the region. Southeast Asia is of particular interest to the U.S. It seeks to maintain hegemony with its puppet regimes and exclude Japan and China, one reason why the Philippines is key to the U.S. It wants free access to major sea lanes and to deepen and expand trade and investment in the area.

Imperialism carries out these aims at the same time that it drives the Asian Pacific people further and further into poverty and despair. Eliza Griswold, a journalist, writes: “[T]he most pressing problem in today’s Philippines isn’t terrorism or even government corruption but poverty and a lack of social mobility. About 15 percent of its people live on less than $1 a day.”

The war on terror: a basis for re-colonization

The U.S. has operated military bases in the Philippines since 1947. After righteous struggles that shook the country, most of these bases closed in 1992. But with the advent of U.S. imperialism’s so-called war on terror, there is now a concerted effort to once again militarize the Philippines. The rebuilding of official U.S. bases in the Philippines is centered in Mindanao, a primarily Muslim area.

U.S. Navy Commander Adm. William J. Fallon—commander of the U.S. Pacific command—said last March 7, “Southeast Asia is the front line of the war on terror.”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has not only become a key ally of imperialism, she is a puppet of Washington.

This so-called war against terrorism is in reality a war of terror against the people.

Victims of repression in the Philippines—those who have died as a result of these extrajudicial killings—are mainly people who are fighting against deadly economic policies or who are denouncing the repression: activists, students, labor leaders, journalists, members of people’s movements and leftists.

State terror reigns in the Philippines. The situation is so serious and so critical that even spokespeople of foreign chambers of commerce and transnational corporations have been forced to pay lip service against the repression.

On Jan. 6 the Macapagal-Arroyo administration announced that the government will spend about 10 billion pesos in 2007—a lot of money for an impoverished nation. About $200 million is earmarked for the purchase of attack helicopters and other military equipment, which is a sign that the repression will not only continue but intensify. Repression breeds resistance

Since Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office in 2001, about 730 people have been killed. (IBON)

They include Bishop Alberto Ramento; Markus Bangit, an indigenous leader of the Malbong Tribe of Tomiangan, Tabuk, Kalinga and the coordinator of the Elders Desk of the Cordillera People’s Alliance; activist teacher Napolean Pornasdoro; Bayan Muna Party (People First Party) members Jayson Delen and Jimmy Mirafuente; Cris Hugo, the regional coordinator of the League of Filipino Students; and Nestle Union president and KMU leader, Diosdado Fortuna. The KMU is the revolutionary workers union in the Philippines and stands for the May 1st Movement.

More than 168 leaders and activists remain missing.

The IAC delegation met with the mother of one of missing student leader, Sherlyn Cadapan. Sherlyn was abducted with another student leader, Karen Empeño, and 55-year-old activist Manuel Merino.

The young women, both in their early 20s, are students at the University of the Philippines (UP). The three were abducted on July 26, 2006. They were volunteers of the Alliance of Peasants in Bulacan, Philippines.

Six armed men forcibly entered the house where the students were staying. Merino, who was staying at a house nearby, came to help the two young women. All three were forced into a vehicle and driven away. The young women’s parents believe that troops of the 56th infantry Battalion in Bulacan were the ones who abducted the three activists.

The commander of the 7th Infantry Division, based where the abduction took place, told the family that the young women were members of the New Peoples Army, the armed wing of the resistance in the country. The family believes that such statements indicate the military knows the whereabouts of the three.

The mother of Sherlyn Cadapan told me at a demonstration against proposed changes to the Philippine Constitution that she will not stop until she finds her daughter.

Despite the wave of repression sweeping the country, the movement is strong. The abductions and assassinations have not stopped the people’s struggle for self determination and freedom from imperialist domination.

Despite a heavy police presence in preparation for the scheduled ASEAN conference here, the movement organized conferences for Jobs and Justice and against Global Terrorism, as well as demonstrations in the streets, which IAC representatives participated in.

Many of the people who attended these events told of family members missing or dead. But the history of the will of the Filipino people to resist domination is as long as imperialism’s aims in the region. It will be the Filipino people who will ultimately prevail, as seen by the courage and commitment here.

Copies of the IBON Foundation report can be ordered at leftbooks.com.

________________ Articles copyright © 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Another unwanted war

BY ERIC S. MARGOLIS

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14 January 2007

IN HIS memorable, 1961 farewell speech, President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans to avoid foreign entanglements and beware the growing power of the military-industrial complex.

It was thus ironic to see American air strikes being launched last week from the decks of the mighty attack carrier USS Eisenhower’ against the East African nation of Somalia.

The US has opened a fourth front in the war on terrorism’ trumpeted the Pentagon, as if it did not have enough failing wars on its hands in Afghanistan and Iraq.

US warplanes and, reportedly, Special Forces units, attacked Somalia from the sea and from the US base at Djibouti. Other US units and FBI agents have been deployed on the Kenya-Somalia border. Much of Somalia is already occupied by Ethiopia’s powerful, US-financed army. Ethiopia invaded defenseless Somalia, with Washington’s blessing, under cover of the Christmas holiday.

But was Somalia really a ‘hotbed of terrorism’ as Washington claimed? The US-Ethiopian invasion of Somalia was sparked by last fall’s defeat of corrupt Somali warlords armed and financed by the CIA. They had kept Somalia in turmoil and near anarchy for 15 years. Last year, a group of Muslim jurists and notables, the Union of Islamic Courts, managed to defeat the warlords and impose a rough form of law and order on many parts of chaotic central and southern Somalia.

The conservative Islamic Courts were sympathetic to pan-Muslim causes. But there is no evidence they were involved in anti-American jihadist movements and had no identifiable links, as Washington claimed, to Al Qaeda. A handful of African Al Qaeda suspects in the 1998 bombing of US Embassies in East Africa may have been in Somalia, but going to war against a sovereign nation to try to assassinate or capture a handful of suspects (some reportedly escaped) is like using a nuclear weapon to kill a gnat and is sure to generate more anti-US violence. Air strikes by carrier- based US F-18s and the deadly AC-130 gunships killed between 50-100 Somali civilians but, apparently, no Al Qaeda suspects.

In line with increasing militarisation of US foreign policy, the Pentagon’s new golden-haired boys, Special Operations Command, pushed aside the humiliated CIA and the feckless State Department and vowed to drain the Islamic swamp’ in Somalia.

Thus begins President Bush’s fourth war against the Muslim World. He failed dismally to capture Osama bin Laden, conquer Iraq, or pacify Afghanistan. Dirt-poor, defenseless Somalia is Bush’s last stab at military glory and a last-ditch effort to convince Americans the so-called war on terror’ is a success.

The administration is again recklessly charging into a thicket of tribal politics in a remote nation it knows nothing about. US policy in Somalia is being driven by neoconservatives seeking war against the entire Muslim World, and self-serving advice from ally Ethiopia. Israel has close intelligence, military and economic links to Ethiopia’s regime and has long conducted covert operations in the Horn of Africa.

Eritrea’s 1993 secession took away Ethiopia’s natural access to the sea, leaving it landlocked. Ethiopia’s prime goal in Somalia is seizing one or more deep-water ports, turning Somalia into a protectorate, and crushing any Islamic movements that might enflame its own voiceless Muslims, who comprise half of Ethiopia’s 73 million people.

America’s attack on Somalia recalls Afghanistan. The US is again blundering into ancient clan and tribal conflicts, using foreign troops and local mercenaries to defend a puppet regime without any popular support. US-Ethiopian intervention in Somalia is certain to re-ignite the murderous clan rivalries that brought it to its current state of anarchy.

Like Afghanistan, Somalia was easy to invade, but may prove very difficult to rule, or eventually leave. The invading Ethiopians, blood foes of Somalis, were not greeted with flowers, as US neocons again promised. Many Somalis saw the US and Ethiopians as invaders, and the now scattered Islamic Courts militias as their best hope for stability and normalcy. Now they are back to zero – or worse.

Like Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001, Somalis have been slow to organise resistance against their latest occupiers. But in time they will likely mount a fierce resistance to the new US-Ethiopian condominium over Somalia. Again, as in Afghanistan, Somali resistance to foreign occupation was initially feeble, but it is likely to intensify into guerrilla operations if the Ethiopian Army remains for long. From 1899 to 1930, Somalia waged a bitter guerrilla war against British colonial occupation, in which a third of its population was killed. Britain gave the Ogaden region of western Somalia to Ethiopia, thus ensuring permanent hostility between the two neighbours. So begins yet another unnecessary war.

Eric S. Margolis is a veteran American journalist and contributing foreign editor of The Toronto Sun.

The truth .mysite

Bush Issues Fatwa Against Iran

Joseph A. Palermo

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I truly believed that President George W. Bush was at least going to announce that Condi Rice was going on a shoe-buying tour of Tehran and Damascus, and I was also fully confident such a "diplomatic" trip would have been just another Karen Hughes-type PR campaign. If Bush were a sane person he would have taken the simple Karl Rovian step of an opening of negotiations, heeded that one tiny piece of the Baker-Hamilton study, and taken a little wind out of the war opposition's sails.

(The mainstream media would have given him great press for it.)

Instead, Bush issued a fatwa against Iran and Syria. He is sending in an armed-to-the-teeth carrier group into the Persian Gulf and he is escalating the war in Iraq. Bush is pursuing Richard Nixon's Cambodia strategy: escalate and expand the war and try to "win" it. He'll probably ratchet up the air war too just as Nixon did.

The net-roots organization, the "World Can't Wait" (worldcantwait.org), which has been calling for Bush's removal from office for years, just got a shot in the arm with Bush's bellicose and insane speech tonight. Bush must be removed from office before he ignites a global catastrophe.

If Bush sparks a "Gulf of Tonkin incident" in the Persian Gulf, and gets us into a shooting war with Iran, or launches air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, he could easily create the conditions for the outbreak of a regional war, or even something we might call World War III.

Bush's speech tonight showed that he is a Neo-Con, right-wing Christian fundamentalist. He has not a clue about what is going on in Baghdad. He spoke of "neighborhoods" being secured and U.S. "check points" being set up. He talked of an attempt to block arms and other supplies coming from Iran. He will follow not one of his "Uncle Jim" Baker's suggestions; he's still rebelling against his daddy. Bush was speaking about Al-Maliki as if he is really going to move against the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr. A thousands times, Bush showed in this speech tonight that he is completely out of touch with reality. Bush has drunk the Kool-Aid, there is no turning back. His messianic fantasies about the Middle East were on display for the all world to see.

Kudos to Keith Olberman for latching on to Bush's statements about the U.S. stance toward Iran and Syria; that was the most important revelation of the speech tonight: Bush appears to be threatening a regional war. Arianna Huffington deserves our gratitude for a clear and forceful performance on Joe Scarborough's show. And even Chris Matthews did an adequate job following Olberman's lead on the Iran and Syria issue. The Democrats in Congress must stop this madness before Bush leads the United States and the world into an even bigger bloodbath in the Middle East, one that could make Baghdad look like -- to quote neo-con Kenneth Adelman -- a "cake walk."

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100,000 Mercenaries, the Forgotten "Surge"

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By Barry Lando

http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=19429

What is striking about the current debate in Washington - whether to "surge" troops to Iraq and increase the size of the U.S. Army - is that roughly 100,000 bodies are missing from the equation: The number of American forces in Iraq is not 140,000, but more like 240,000.

What makes up the difference is the huge army of mercenaries - known these days as "private contractors." After the U.S. Army itself, they are easily the second-largest military force in the country. Yet no one seems sure of how many there are since they answer to no single authority. Indeed, the U.S. Central Command has only recently started taking a census of these battlefield civilians in an attempt to get a handle on the issue...

The private contractors are Americans, South Africans, Brits, Iraqis and a hodgepodge of other nationalities. Many of them are veterans of the U.S. or other armed forces and intelligence services, who are now deployed in Iraq (and Afghanistan and other countries) to perform duties normally carried out by the U.S. Army, but at salaries two or three times greater than those of American soldiers.

They work as interrogators and interpreters in American prisons; body guards for top U.S. and Iraqi officials; trainers for the Iraqi army and police; and engi-neers constructing huge new U.S. bases. They are often on the front lines. In fact, 650 of them have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion

Their salaries, are, in the end, paid directly by the U.S. government - or tacked on as huge additional "security charges" to the bills of private American or other contractors. Yet the Central Command still doesn't have a complete list of who they are or what they are up to. The final figure could be much higher than 100,000. The U.S. Congress, under Republican control until now, knows even less.

Yet these private contractors man their own helicopters and Humvees and look and act just like American troops.

"It takes a great deal of vigilance on the part of the military commander to en-sure contractor compliance," William L. Nash, a retired general, told the Washington Post. "If you're trying to win hearts and minds and the contractor is driving 90 miles per hour through the streets and running over kids, that's not helping the image of the American army. The Iraqis aren't going to distinguish between a contractor and a soldier."

But who, in the end, do these contractors answer to? The U.S. Central Command? Their company boss? Or the official they've been assigned to protect?

A recent case in point: The former Iraqi minister of electricity, who had been imprisoned on corruption charges, managed to escape in broad daylight in the heavily fortified Green Zone. Iraqi officials claim he was spirited away by con-tractors from a private security detail that had been hired when he was minis-ter. Which raises another question. Who has jurisdiction over these private contrac-tors if they run afoul of the law in Iraq? Also, are they supposed to follow the Geneva Conventions? Or George W. Bush's conventions?

For instance, according to The New York Times, although 20 civilian contractors working in U.S. prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq - including Abu Ghraib - have been charged with mistreating prisoners, none has ever been successfully prosecuted.

Another point, which brings us back to the discussion about increasing Ameri-can troop levels in Iraq: It would seem that the Pentagon could outsource a "surge" by a simple accounting sleight of hand, quietly contracting for another 10,000 or 20,000 mercenaries to do the job, and the Congress and press would be none the wiser.

Barry Lando, a former 60 Minutes producer, is the author of "Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush." He also blogs at Barrylando.com.

The truth .mysite

Follow the Money to 9-11 Players Conspiracy

by DOUGLAS HERMAN

You have to admire such chutzpah (Yiddish word for audacity). You have to admire, grudgingly, such cold-blooded, calculating cruelty, such amazing vision, however sadistic and criminal.

911 remains a master plan ridden with obvious flaws. The master planners stood to gain TRILLIONS in profits, (although paid in blood money), for their skillful concept carried out like the climax of a suspenseful Hollywood movie.

And so five years later, that masterful crime, what I call "The Greatest Unsolved Crime of The Century," remains a magician's trick worthy of Satan himself.

Consider the targets chosen. The WTC complex was an enormous architectural white elephant filled with asbestos and with far too few tenants.

But because the WTC had been built much too big and much too well, the cost of deconstruction, an estimated 15 billion, far outweighed whatever profit an owner might gain from years of ownership. But suppose a buyer stepped forward and purchased the property, with the foresight to realize the towers were targets?

And suppose that buyer, possessed insider information about an attack and insured them against such a fate?

And suppose that buyer collected when those white elephants crashed to the ground within months? In fact that is exactly what did happen, to the extent of 3.

5 billion dollars.

Now suppose one of the collapsed structures hadn't even been hit? Instead the nearby 47-story, WTC-7 burst into flame, a suspicious, haphazard fire that raged hours through several key floors long after the twin towers fell.

Several of the floors housed Security & Exchange (SEC) records pertaining to multi-billion dollar investigations. The Los Angeles Times reported on September 17, 2001 that an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 cases were destroyed. They included SEC's major inquiry into the manner in which investment banks divided up hot shares of initial public offerings (IPOs) during the high-tech boom.

By destroying the building, the fire and subsequent collapse destroyed the records forever and meant a huge net savings for CEOs and corporations being investigated. Add several hundred millions, perhaps billions to our crime spree so far.

Suddenly you realize why 911 occurred. For a twisted sense of globalism certainly, but for greater personal profit assuredly. The master planners, and one need look no further than the PNAC signers and whom they represented, realized that great crimes required great rewards.

Not surprisingly, many 911 skeptics focused unnecessarily on those United and American airline Put options. Yet, had they been collected, only a few millions would have been gained. Very likely, some rogue, low level co-conspirator, with pre-knowledge of the master plan, made those Put options but without top level approval. Just one of the many flaws that day.

Likewise, the heist of gold bars from vaults far below the WTC complex during the massacre occurring above may have yielded several hundred million more. No one knows.

The New York city media, once again as complicit as co-conspirators, chose to ask few embarrassing questions about that crushed truck found weeks later below the WTC or who had loaded it. Once again this may have been another subsidiary operation, another unauthorized plundering by an insider group, like a lone looter who smashes a storefront window and grabs a handful of jewelry during a major earthquake.

While hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars, changed hands as nearly 3,000 unlucky Americans died at the WTC bombardment, TRILLIONS of dollars went missing over at the Pentagon. How? Easy. A simple sleight of hand, a sudden explosion and presto, 2.3 trillion of missing money was magically forgotten.

Two Trillion. Just like that.

Only a day before 911, on September 10, 2001, kindly Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, admitted, during the last peaceful day of terror-free living, that 2.3 trillion of Pentagon money was missing and unaccounted for.

What a fortunate thing to happen -- a wonderful thing, this 911 attack-- wonderful indeed for those who stole/ embezzled/ purloined/ pocketed those trillions.

Suddenly "Arab Terrorists" had provided a Godsend (Allah be praised), provided a perfect distraction, for generals and general contractors and Fortune 500 corporations and the Pentagon comptroller and the Sec-Def and everyone else it seems -- everyone, that is, but the average American or the average Muslim.

Imagine if you owned a bank and an investigation determined that you and your relatives had embezzled two trillion dollars from your bank.

Newspapers blared the headline: "Two Trillion Missing."

But--BUT---before the ink had dried on the tabloids, a nasty group of Islamofascists blew your bank ( or at least the records section) to smithereens.

What a lucky break for you and your relatives. What an unlucky break for all those employees killed.

But wait! In the following weeks, government inspectors (without investigating further) allowed your bank, encouraged your bank, to collect MORE funds---500 billion more per year---to squander or spend however you felt.

Because that is EXACTLY what happened in the 24 hours between the time Rumsfeld admitted the money went missing from the Pentagon and the 911 "terror" attack on the five-sided fortress.

Flight 77, or the remote controlled aircraft that blew concentric holes through six walls (airplane parts indicate the latter), slammed into the newly remodeled Army financial management/audit area and the Army personnel offices, one of two main west section offices heavily destroyed in the Pentagon attack. The other section being the Naval Command Center. Casualties were heavy.

"Were the auditors who could 'follow the money,' and the computers whose data could help them do it, intentionally targeted, asked Jim Marrs and Barbara Honegger in her Pentagon Attack Papers?

"It is worth noting that the Pentagon's top financial officer at the time, Dov Zakheim, who also acknowledged the 'missing' trillions, had a company that specializes in aircraft remote control technology."

Curiously, like many top level civilians working at the Pentagon on 911, Zakheim held duel citizenship, US and Israel.

When following the money trail, you realize the incalculable billions gained with the conquest of war-torn and impoverished Afghanistan, which depended on a manufactured attack. But rather than find and capture a CIA--created mastermind allegedly responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths, the sole purpose of the attack on Afghanistan appeared to be control of a country for the benefit of an oil pipeline.

In the book, "Bin Laden: the Forbidden Truth" by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasique, the authors claim the U.S. tried to negotiate a trans-Afghanistan pipeline deal with the Taliban as late as August, 2001. "We'll either carpet you in gold or carpet you in bombs," negotiators reportedly said. When the pipeline deal fell through, the carpet of bombs followed---beginning with the WTC.

If you follow the trillion-dollar money trail throughout 911, you easily see that those who stood to profit the most also occupied key places - military and civilian security systems, oil and gas consortiums, intelligence agencies, US Department of Justice and the US media/ propaganda systems - to make 911 happen and, just as important, to conspire to conceal the crime.

The master planners pulled off a perfect plan, despite the obvious flaws.

The blood money still flows, overflows, into their vaults and accounts. The planners remain masters of the known universe, unafraid of anyone or anything except perhaps a shadow.

Because somewhere, perhaps in the depths of the Pentagon, honorable US officers, patriots like Colonel Bob Bowman, who realize EXACTLY what happened on 911, realize how the USAF was used as an unwitting accomplice on 911, simmer with shame, with resentment, with rage and frustration.

One day these honorable men, together with other honorable men throughout this nation, will take legal steps to right the monstrous wrong that was done on September 11, 2001.

Godspeed that day.

*** Former USAF non-com Douglas Herman writes extensively on history and true crime related issues. His recent novel, The Guns of Dallas, examines the JFK assassination in a critical light.

Email douglasherman7@yahoo.com

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