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The Profits of Escalation Why the US is Not Leaving Iraq By ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

The military-industrial-complex [would] cause military spending to be driven not by national security needs but by a network of weapons makers, lobbyists and elected officials.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

- General Smedley D. Butler

Neither the Iraq Study Group nor other establishment critics of the Iraq war are calling for the withdrawal of US troops from that country. To the extent that the Study Group or the new Congress purport to inject some "realism" into the Iraq policy, such projected modifications do not seem to amount to more than changing the drivers of the US war machine without changing its destination, or objectives: control of Iraq's political and economic policies.

In light of fact that by now almost all of the factions of the ruling circles, including the White House and the neoconservative war-mongerers, acknowledge the failure of the Iraq war, why, then, do they balk at the idea of pulling the troops out of that country?

Perhaps the shortest path to a relatively satisfactory answer would be to follow the money. The fact is that not everyone is losing in Iraq. Indeed, while the Bush administration's wars of choice have brought unnecessary death, destruction, and disaster to millions, including many from the Unites States, they have also brought fortunes and prosperity to war profiteers. At the heart of the reluctance to withdraw from Iraq lies the profiteers' unwillingness to give up further fortunes and spoils of war.

Pentagon contractors constitute the overwhelming majority of these profiteers. They include not only the giant manufacturing contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, but also a complex maze of over 100,000 service contractors and sub-contractors such as private army or security corporations and "reconstruction" firms.[1] These contractors of both deconstruction and "reconstruction," whose profits come mainly from the US treasury, have handsomely profited from the Bush administration's wars of choice.

A time-honored proverb maintains that wars abroad are often continuations of wars at home. Accordingly, recent US wars abroad seem to be largely reflections of domestic fights over national resources, or public finance: opponents of social spending are using the escalating Pentagon budget (in combination with drastic tax cuts for the wealthy) as a cynical and roundabout way of redistributing national income in favor of the wealthy. As this combination of increasing military spending and decreasing tax liabilities of the wealthy creates wide gaps in the Federal budget, it then justifies the slashing of non-military public spending-a subtle and insidious policy of reversing the New Deal reforms, a policy that, incidentally, started under President Ronald Reagan.

Meanwhile, the American people are sidetracked into a debate over the grim consequences of a "pre-mature" withdrawal of US troops from Iraq: further deterioration of the raging civil war, the unraveling of the "fledgling democracy," the resultant serious blow to the power and prestige of the United States, and the like.

Such concerns are secondary to the booming business of war profiteers and, more generally, to the lure or the prospects of controlling Iraq's politics and economics. Powerful beneficiaries of war dividends, who are often indistinguishable from the policy makers who pushed for the invasion of Iraq, have been pocketing hundreds of billions of dollars by virtue of war. More than anything else, it is the pursuit and the safeguarding of those plentiful spoils of war that are keeping US troops in Iraq.

(Because the role of oil is discussed extensively by many other researchers and writers, I would focus here on the role of the Pentagon contractors, both as a major driving force to the war on Iraq and a major obstacle in the way of withdrawing from that country.)

The rise of the fortunes of the major Pentagon contractors can be measured, in part, by the growth of the Pentagon budget since President George W. Bush arrived in the White House: it has grown by more than 50 percent, from nearly $300 billion in 2001 to almost $455 billion in 2007. (These figures do not include the Homeland Security budget, which is $33 billion for the 2007 fiscal year alone, and the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are fast approaching $400 billion.)

Large Pentagon contractors have been the main beneficiaries of this windfall. For example, a 2004 study by The Center for Public Integrity revealed that, for the 1998­2003 period, one percent of the biggest contractors won 80 percent of all defense contracting dollars. The top ten got 38 percent of all the money. Lockheed Martin topped the list at $94 billion, Boeing was second with $81 billion, Raytheon was third (just under $40 billion), followed by Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics with nearly $34 billion each.[2]

Fantastic returns to these armaments conglomerates have been reflected in the continuing jump in the value of their shares or stocks in the Wall Street: "Shares of U.S. defense companies, which have nearly trebled since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq, show no signs of slowing down. . . . All the defense companies-with very few exceptions-have been doing extremely well with mostly double-digit earnings growth. . . . The feeling that makers of ships, planes and weapons are just getting into their stride has driven shares of leading Pentagon contractors Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., and General Dynamics Corp. to all-time highs. . . ."[3]

Major beneficiaries of war dividends include not only the giant manufacturing contractors such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, but also a whole host of other war-induced service contractors that have mushroomed around the Pentagon and the Homeland Security apparatus in order to cash in on the Pentagon's spending bonanza.

A highly profitable and fast growing industry that has evolved out of the Pentagon's tendency to shower private contractors with tax-payers' money is based on its increasing practice of the outsourcing of the many of the traditional military services to private businesses. "In 1984, almost two-thirds of [the Pentagon's] contracting budget went for products rather than services. . . . By fiscal year 2003, 56 percent of Defense Department contracts paid for services rather than goods." What is more, these services are not limited to the relatively simple or routine tasks and responsibilities such food and sanitation services or building maintenance. More importantly, they include "contracts for services that are highly sophisticated, strategic in nature, and closely approaching core functions that for good reason the government used to do on its own. The Pentagon has even hired contractors to advise it on hiring contractors."[4]

Private security contracting, a lucrative and rapidly growing industry, is a good example of the Pentagon's policy of outsourcing. These contractors operate on the periphery of U.S. foreign policy by training foreign "security forces," or by "fighting terrorism." Often these private military corporations are formed by retired Special Forces personnel seeking to market their military expertise to the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, or foreign governments.

For example, MPRI, one of the largest and most active of these firms, which "has trained militaries throughout the world under contract to the Pentagon," was founded by former Army Chief of Staff Carl Vuono and seven other retired generals. The fortunes of these military training contractors, or modern-day mercenary companies, like those of the manufacturers of military hardware, have skyrocketed by virtue of heightened war and militarism under President George W. Bush. For example, "The per share price of stocks in L3 Communications, which owns MPRI, has more than doubled."[5]

As the Pentagon's manufacturing contractors such as Lockheed Martin make fortunes through the production of the means of death and destruction, they also create profit opportunities for service contractors such as Halliburton that, like vultures, follow the plumes of the smoke of deconstruction and set up shop for "reconstruction."

For example, in the same month (October 2006) that the US forces lost a record number of soldiers in Iraq, and the Iraqi citizens lost many more, Halliburton announced that its third quarter revenue had risen by 19 percent to $5.8 billion. This prompted Dave Lesar, the company's chairman, president and CEO, to declare, "This was an exceptional quarter for Halliburton."

Jeff Tilley, an analyst who does research for Halliburton, likewise pointed out, "Iraq was better than expected. . . . Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good."

This led many critics to point out scornfully that when around the same time Vice President Dick Cheney told Rush Limbaugh that "if you look at the overall situation [in Iraq] they're doing remarkably well," he must have been talking about Halliburton.[6]

The service and "rebuilding" contractors are frequently called "reconstruction rackets" not only because they obtain generous and often no-bid contracts from their policy-making accomplices, but also because they habitually shirk on their contracts and skimp on what they promise to do. For example, an investigative on-the-ground report from Iraq, sponsored by the Institute for Southern Studies and titled "New Investigation Reveals Reconstruction Racket," showed that despite "billions of dollars spent, key pieces of Iraq's infrastructure-power plants, telephone exchanges, and sewage and sanitation systems-have either not been repaired, or have been fixed so poorly that they don't function." The report, carried out by Pratap Chatterjee and Herbert Docena and published in the Institutes' Publication Southern Exposure, further revealed that the giant Pentagon contractor Bechtel "has been given tens of millions to repair Iraq's schools. Yet many haven't been touched, and several schools that Bechtel claims to have repaired are in shambles. One 'repaired' school was overflowing with unflushed sewage."

The report also showed that out of a $2.2 billion "reconstruction" contract with Halliburton, the company spent only 10 percent on "community needs-the rest being spent on servicing U.S. troops and rebuilding oil pipelines. Halliburton has also spent over $40 million in the unsuccessful search for weapons of mass destruction."[7]

The spoils of war and devastation in Iraq have been so attractive that an an extremely large number of war profiteers have set up shop in that country in order to participate in the booty: "There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield," reported The Washington Post in its 5 December 2006 issue.

The report, prepared by Renae Merle, further points out, "In addition to about 140,000 U.S. troops, Iraq is now filled with a hodgepodge of contractors. DynCorp International has about 1,500 employees in Iraq, including about 700 helping train the police force. Blackwater USA has more than 1,000 employees in the country, most of them providing private security. . . . MPRI, a unit of L-3 Communications, has about 500 employees working on 12 contracts, including providing mentors to the Iraqi Defense Ministry for strategic planning, budgeting and establishing its public affairs office. Titan, another L-3 division, has 6,500 linguists in the country."[8]

The fact that powerful beneficiaries of war dividends flourish in an atmosphere of war and international convulsion should not come as a surprise to anyone. What is surprising is that, in the context of the recent US wars of choice, these beneficiaries have also acquired the power of promoting wars, often by manufacturing "external threats to our national interest." In other words, profit-driven beneficiaries of war have also evolved as war makers, or contributors to war making.[9]

The following is a sample of such unsavory business­political relationships, as reported by Walter F. Roche and Ken Silverstein in a 14 July 2004 Los Angeles Times article, titled "Advocates of War Now Profit from Iraq's Reconstruction:" o Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey is a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests.

o Neil Livingstone, a former Senate aide who has served as a Pentagon and State Department advisor and issued repeated public calls for Hussein's overthrow. He heads a Washington-based firm, GlobalOptions, Inc. that provides contacts and consulting services to companies doing business in Iraq.

o Randy Scheunemann, a former Rumsfeld advisor who helped draft the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 authorizing $98 million in U.S. aid to Iraqi exile groups. He was the founding president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Now he's helping former Soviet Bloc states win business there.

o Margaret Bartel, who managed federal money channeled to Chalabi's exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, including funds for its prewar intelligence program on Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. She now heads a Washington-area consulting firm helping would-be investors find Iraqi partners. o K. Riva Levinson, a Washington lobbyist and public relations specialist who received federal funds to drum up prewar support for the Iraqi National Congress. She has close ties to Bartel and now helps companies open doors in Iraq, in part through her contacts with the Iraqi National Congress.

o Joe M. Allbaugh, who managed President Bush's 2000 campaign for the White House and later headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Edward Rogers Jr., an aide to the first President Bush, recently helped set up New Bridge Strategies and Diligence, LLC to promote business in postwar Iraq.[10]

There are strong indications that these dubious relationships represent more than simple cases of sporadic or unrelated instances of some unscruplulous or rogue elements. Evidence shows that contracts for the "reconstruction" of Iraq were drawn long before the invasion and deconstruction of that country had started. In a fascinating report for The Nation magazine, titled "The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," Naomi Klein describes such long-projected "rebuilding" schemes as follows:

"Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush Administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate 'post-conflict' plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries 'at the same time,' each lasting 'five to seven years.'"[11]

Here we get a glimpse of the real reasons or forces behind the Bush administration's preemptive wars. As Klein puts it, "a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction." Klein also documents how (through Pascual's office) contractors drew "reconstruction" plans in close collaboration with various government agencies and how, at times, contracts were actually pre-approved and paper work completed long before an actual military strike:

"In close cooperation with the National Intelligence Council, Pascual's office keeps 'high risk' countries on a 'watch list' and assembles rapid-response teams ready to engage in prewar planning and to 'mobilize and deploy quickly' after a conflict has gone down. The teams are made up of private companies, nongovernmental organizations and members of think tanks-some, Pascual told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in October, will have 'pre-completed' contracts to rebuild countries that are not yet broken. Doing this paperwork in advance could 'cut off three to six months in your response time.'" No business model or entrepreneurial paradigm can adequately capture the nature of this kind of scheming and profiteering. Not even illicit businesses based on rent-seeking, corruption or theft can sufficiently describe the kind of nefarious business interests that lurk behind the Bush administration's preemptive wars. Only a calculated imperial or colonial kind of exploitation, albeit a new form of colonialism or imperialism, can capture the essence of the war profiteering associated with the recent US wars of aggression. As Shalmali Guttal, a Bangalore-based researcher put it, "We used to have vulgar colonialism. Now we have sophisticated colonialism, and they call it 'reconstruction.'"[12] Classical colonial or imperial powers roamed on the periphery of the capitalist center, "discovered" new territories, and drained them off of their riches and resources. Today there are no new places in our planet to be "discovered." But there are many vulnerable sovereign countries whose governments can be overthrown, their infrastructures smashed to the ground, and fortunes made as a result (of both destruction and "reconstruction). And herein lies the genius of a parasitically efficient market mechanism, as well as a major driving force behind the Bush administration's unprovoked unilateral wars of choice.

Not only does the new form of imperial or colonial aggression, driven largely by the powerful interests that are vested in the armaments industries and other war-based businesses, bring calamity to the vanquished, but it is also detrimental and burdensome to the victor, namely, the imperium and its citizens. Contrary to the external military operations of past empires, which usually brought benefits not only to the imperial ruling classes but also (through "trickle-down" effects) to their citizens, U.S. military expeditions and operations of late are not justifiable even on the grounds of national economic gains.

Indeed, escalating US military expansions and aggressions have become ever more wasteful and cost-inefficient as they are hollowing out the public treasury, undermining social spending, and accumulating national debt. Viewed in this light, the new form of imperialism can perhaps be called "parasitic" imperialism.

War profiteering is, of course, not new; it has always existed in the course of the history of warfare. What makes war profiteering in the context of the recent US wars of choice unique and extremely dangerous to world peace and stability, however, is the fact that it has become a major driving force behind war and militarism.

This is key to an understanding of why the US ruling elite is reluctant to pull US troops out of Iraq. The reluctance or "difficulty" of leaving Iraq stems not so much from pulling 140,000 troops out of that country as it is from pulling out more than 100,000 contractors. As Josh Mitteldorf of the University of Arizona recently put it, "There are a lot of contractors making a fortune and we don't want that money tap turned off, even though it is borrowed money, which our children and grandchildren will have to repay."[13]

It follows that US troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq as long as antiwar voices are not raised beyond the premises and parameters of the official narrative or justification of the war: terrorism, democracy, civil war, stability, human rights, and the like. Antiwar forces need to extricate themselves from the largely diversionary and constraining debate over these secondary issues, and raise public consciousness of the scandalous economic interests that drive the war.

It is crucially important that public attention is shifted away from the confining official narrative of the war, parroted by the corporate media and political pundits, to the economic crimes that have been committed because of this war, both in Iraq and here in the United States. It is time to make a moral case for restoring Iraqi oil and other assets to the Iraqis. It is also time to make a moral case against the war profiteers' plundering of our treasury, or tax dollars. To paraphrase the late General Smedley D. Butler, most wars could easily be ended-they might not even be started-if profits are taken out of them.[14]

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is a professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism His Web page is http://www.cbpa.drake.edu/hossein-zadeh

The truth .mysite

For the past five years, the United States has held hundreds of men from over 45 countries in Guantanamo Bay. Not a single person has been convicted of a crime, and three men died of apparent suicides.

Today marks five years since the US first transferred men to indefinite and arbitrary detention. Five years of lawlessness is enough – let's join with Amnesty International USA to demand that the detention facilities at Guantanamo be closed.

Bob Fertik

Help stand up for the America We Believe In We're mobilizing people of conscience across America to help change our country's disastrous course on human rights. Take action now!

Dear Friend,

America's commitment to human rights and justice is being held prisoner at Guantánamo Bay. Take action today to end the abomination.

Five years ago, the U.S. began detaining people at Guantánamo Bay without charges . . . without trial . . . without legal recourse . . . and without hope. The interrogation regime there led to many allegations of torture and ill-treatment. These abuses continue despite widespread domestic and international outrage.Help put a stop to these abuses.

The government wants us to think that all people held at Guantánamo Bay are known terrorists.

Unfortunately, it's not true. The detainees at Guantánamo Bay are only suspects, innocent until proven guilty, some as young as 15 when they were detained. They have been held for years in conditions that are isolating, harsh, inhuman and cruel.

Every day that the Guantánamo Bay detention facilities remain open is another day when the United States of America broadcasts to the world its utter lack of respect for the most basic human rights principles.

Why are human rights important anyway? Because human rights, values championed by the U.S. for decades, make way for a peaceful and secure world. Because without human rights, no one is safe. Respecting the innate human dignity of every human across the world is our only hope for a prosperous and peaceful society. When we respect each others' rights, we secure our own.

What can you do? Join Amnesty International and speak out against Guantánamo Bay and the policies behind it. Tell the President to shut down Guantánamo Bay.

Tell him that the America you believe in leads the world on human rights.

Please act today. Take a stand for human rights.

Sincerely,

Larry Cox Executive Director Amnesty International USA

The truth .mysite

THE TRUTH ABOUT CONSPIRACY THEORIES By Tom DeWeese MichNews.com Jan 10, 2007

http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_15371.shtm

lWhat is a conspiracy theory? There seems to be a lot of them because every time I write about another government program or policy, the denials begin as someone starts smirking "conspiracy theory" and calling me a fringe whacko. It's getting tiresome.

Another name they like to throw around is racist if I happen to write something about government programs designed to take my money to give to someone else. "Racist."

And if I happen to question environmental policy, then I'm a lackey of big business who wants to pave the earth. The term they use for radicals like me is the "astro turf crowd."

To sum it all up, apparently, I'm a fringe radical, racist whacko who wants to destroy the earth. Wow. It's got to be a heavy burden having someone like me lurking in society. I'm sure there are lots of laws in the works to protect those who never get involved in anything from being harmed by my rude questioning of our dedicated public servants.

The funny thing is, in forty years of political life I have never once advocated passing a law or imposing a regulation or rule to make anyone do anything. I have spent my life just trying to get others to leave me, my family and my property alone. Whacko indeed.

Of course, the other side of the conspiracy theory charges is the denial by those actually carrying out the policies I'm questioning. Just ask them if they are doing anything wrong. Of course not. The policy in question, they say, is just a minor adjustment to correct a program for the benevolence and safety of us all. "The Republic is safe," they laughingly say into the television camera as a reporter questions one of my charges. They all have a good laugh over the silly conspiracy theories that keep springing up on the Internet. That in itself may be a good reason to regulate the Internet, to keep us all safe from the rantings of whackos.

Sometimes I listen to such arguments or read an article defending policies I've questioned and they make it sound so innocent, so benign. I think to myself, well, maybe I am wrong. Maybe these really are just good public servants whose polices aren't really a threat to anyone.

According to them, the UN has no teeth to make policy stick and is no threat to any nation's sovereignty; the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) is not the beginnings of a plan to create a North American Union, just a steps to grow the American economy and improve trade; America's public education system is really the best in the world, there is no effort to use the classroom for anything but good old fashioned reading, ritin, and rithmatic; There is no effort underway to create a national Big Brother surveillance system, the Patriot Act is just a tool for helping law enforcement fight terrorism and the Real ID Act is not a national ID; and the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club really just want to help protect the environment, not restructure our entire economic and social system.

I really would love to have all of these things be true. I would be happy. There would be no need for me to keep fighting such battles. It is very stressful, you know. I don't like being the one who spoils the mood at a party every time someone asks me a political question and then doesn't like my answer. I would gladly shut the doors of the American Policy Center forever. I could spend my life doing what I really want to do; write fiction books; open a printing company; be a disk jockey on the radio; operate a tourist business sailing a catamaran off the coast of Jamaica. So much I would rather do than deal with the lying sleazeballs who have one purpose in life – to take my liberty to build power for themselves.

The fact is, these policies and goals do exist. I'm just guilty of exposing them. By the way, I don't call them conspiracy theories – they do. These are simply policies which I believe are wrong because they endanger my liberties. It's an issue of political philosophy and ones view of the proper role of government. And so I exercise my right to oppose them.

They are the ones trying to hide their actions. I've always wondered, if someone believes they are doing the right thing, why do they want to hide their actions? Aren't they proud of their accomplishments? Don't they believe everyone would support them? Instead they cloak them in secrecy and lie when the light is shown under their rock. That's why they become conspiracies.

Let's take just a very few of today's current "conspiracy theories." To make it really easy for everyone to comprehend the true purpose of the policies in question – I'll use their words as much as possible.

They say it is a conspiracy theory to suggest that the United Nations is working to impose global governance and is a threat to national sovereignty. Just ask any proponent of the UN and they will tell you that the UN has no ability to do so. They cynically laugh at the suggestion that the UN even thinks of such things. The UN, they say, just wants to "promote human rights, improve governance and democracies and feed the poor." No conspiracy here. Just good old fashioned compassion.

The Truth. The UN has held countless international conferences dedicated to the purpose of implementing global governance. Each of these conferences, from the Earth Summit in Rio to the Habitat II conference in Istanbul, have produced policy documents and treaties designed to bind nations to global economic and environmental policies. Do they spend millions of dollars on these exercises simply to offer suggestions on how independent nations should act? Of course not. Here is what leading spokesmen for support UN policies really think of sovereignty.

"Nationhood as we know it will be obliterated, all states will recognize a single global authority…National sovereignty wasn't such a good idea after all…" Strobe Talbott, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Clinton Administration

"It is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation-states, however powerful." Maurice Strong, co-chairman UN Commission on Global Governance.

"a system of world order – preferably a system of world government – is mandatory…The proud nations someday will see the light and, for the common good and their own survival, yield up their precious sovereignty…" Walter Cronkite, A Reporter’s Life.

Of course, when I say they say these things, I'm called a nut. Go figure.

They say it is a conspiracy theory to suggest that the Bush Administration is creating a North American Union. "They" all shake their heads at this one, with smiles on their faces and they simply say no, there is no effort to create a North American Union. The Bush Administration's Security and Prosperity Partnership is not using a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) report as a blue print for the plan, and certainly not, there are no plans to throw out the dollar for a common North American currency called the Amero. The SPP, says the "Myths and Facts" section of the SPP web site (put there to calmly put down those darn conspiracy theorist) is not an agreement nor is it a treaty, In fact, no agreement was ever signed," the document proudly states.

The Truth. On March 23, 2005, President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin met at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas in what they called a "Summit." After the meeting, the three heads of state then drove to Baylor University to announce their "signing" of an agreement to form the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

Today, 20 working groups operate out of offices in the Commerce Department preparing policy papers, memorandums of understanding, and trilateral declarations of agreement, laying the foundation for how the agreement will work. Each working group has a counterpart in the other two nations. The Bush Administration refuses to release the names of the members of the working groups. Members of the groups and top Administration leaders including the Secretaries of Defense, State and Homeland Security have attended top level meetings in Canada and Mexico to discuss SPP policy such as "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration."

Yet, all of these very expensive meetings and travel expenses, paid for by the Administration have never been authorized by the U.S. Congress. Officially, Congress has never been informed of the activities of the SPP, nor have they been approved. It's all been created behind the scenes with the use of the President's Executive Order pen.

A key participant in the organization of the SPP is Dr. Robert Pastor, a member of the CFR and author of a 2001 book entitled "Toward a North American Commission" which outlined in detail the creation of a North American Union, including the creation of a common currency he called the Amero.

In May, 2005, the CFR published its own version in a report called "Building a North American Community." Pastor had a guiding hand it writing that report as well. Yet, the Bush Administration continues to deny there is any connection to Pastor's book or the CFR report, even though Pastor is a major player in the implementation of the SPP.

We are supposed to believe that a man who has written passionately to advocate a North American Union, and travels the world advocating its establishment, now quietly sits in SPP meetings but does nothing to help promote or implement his ideas. It's even harder to explain the near identical language in the SPP documents and Pastor's book. No conspiracy here, just good old fashioned civil servants trying to make the government run better. Logic and the ability to read and to mentally process such information is simply to be suspended. Anything other conclusion is simply to be degraded as a conspiracy theory.

They say it is a conspiracy theory to suggest the public education system is more interested in employing behavior modification techniques to mold children’s values attitudes and beliefs rather than teaching them solid academics. Innovations, new ideas, technology, a community working together, focus from a federal department of education, more money, higher standards, all have been put in place over the past 20 years to assure "no child is left behind" in our drive for educational excellence. Corporate leaders have been recruited to help assure our children are getting the best education in the history of the nation. Awards are given to those dedicated, selfless community volunteers who are making a difference. Pats on the back and smiles assure us all is well as test scores are going up.

No one today in public office has a more condescending smile when challenged about the lack of knowledge in our children. Teachers are instructed by the NEA to report anyone using the term "dumbing down." For they must be right wing whackos determined to undermine the precious public school system.

The Truth. Today's children are academically stupid. Ask any child basic questions about the Constitution and the uniqueness of our system of government; ask them to answer basic math questions without the use of a calculator; ask them to diagram a sentence or find on a map nations mentioned everyday in the news. Most can't do it. They have little knowledge of history, civics, geography or math.

But ask them about global warming, ozone holes and the evils of business and they will have a lively discussion. The reason – that's what classroom time is spent on. Situation ethics and behavior modification to instill in our children attitudes, values and beliefs which reflect a specific outcome – a political outcome designed to lead our children toward the "proper" attitude for living in a global village as global citizens.

Consider these quotes from education reformists. "Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our Founding Fathers, toward his parents, toward our elected officials, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It's up to you, teachers, to make all of these sick children well by creating the international child of the future." Chester Pierce, Harvard University to a 1973 Education Seminar in Denver.

"We must stop being curriculum based..." William Spady, father of Outcome- based Education school "reform"

School to Work is one of the three major "reforms" shoved on the public school system to create "excellence." Does it education our children or just create a training process to dump kinds into dead end jobs? Let the experts tell you.

"Educated employees have higher turnover rates, lower job satisfaction, and poorer promotion records than less educated employees." David Hornbeck, STW proponent.

"Most employees under this model need not be educated. It is far more important that they be reliable, steady, and willing to follow directions." Lauren Resnick, Member of the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS).

And that is why your children are stupid, But anyone who questions such stupidity is called a fringe whacko.

They say it is a conspiracy theory to suggest the Patriot Act and the Real ID Act are creating a Big Brother Society. Any member of the Bush Administration will tell you its all about fighting terrorism and protecting the great freedoms of this nation. No conspiracy, just making sure the government has the necessary tools to protect us.

The Truth. In the name of fighting terrorism we are witnessing a new kind of government "urban sprawl" oozing out of Washington, D.C. into every back alley, bedroom and underwear drawer in America. In short, we are witnessing the birth of a powerful multi-billion dollar surveillance lobby consisting of an army of special interest groups, Washington lawyers, lobbyists and high-tech firms with wares to sell.

The personal rights of American citizens are the farthest thing from their minds as they seek to fill their pockets while enabling government to monitor and control our lives to a degree unheard of prior to 9/11. This army seeks riches from the federal trough as it pushes for laws and regulations to spy on and control the lives of law-abiding citizens.

"Follow the money" pretty much sums up the truth about any issue. There is money-a go go flowing in the name of national security. The Washington Post has reported that one powerful D.C. law firm, Powell, Golden, Frazier and Murphy haw put together a homeland security unit of 50 lawyers. They will seek government contracts for their clients, and one can bet they will spend a great deal of effort lobbying for more intrusive laws to help build the surveillance industry.

IBM has opened a "Government Solutions Shop." Unisys Corporation has established a similar exhibition for inspection by federal surveillance planners, called the "Homeland Security Center for Excellence." Both corporations are racing to cash in on the billions of dollars for facial recognition systems at airports and high-tech ID cards.

The Chamber of Commerce has hired a former deputy assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to act as a liaison between the Chamber and businesses seeking homeland security contracts.

The target of all of these corporations, lawyers, lobbyists and special interests is the massive Department of Homeland Security. This one agency, comprised of 22 combined federal departments with 170,000 employees, has the ultimate power in the nation. Under the Patriot Act this one Cabinet Secretary has the power to send federal law enforcement into private homes without a search warrant. Records and materials may be taken from homes, computer records searched, phones tapped, and e-mails monitored without legal protection of rights.

And the Homeland Security Department, which is being so heavily lobbied by the surveillance industry, has the power under the Real ID Act to mandate ID requirements including biometrics scans such as finger printing, retinal scans, or facial scans. With so much high tech money apply pressure, does anyone have doubt what Homeland Security will recommend for a national ID?

Of course it's only paranoid, fringe fanatics who could oppose such important protections in this dangerous time of terrorist threat.

They say it is a conspiracy theory to suggest that the environmental movement is really destroying human civilization. I'm not even going to spend time trying to pretend on this one. Let the greens speak for themselves.

The Truth. "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" Maurice Strong, Chairman of the UN's Earth Summit, 1992.

"We reject the idea of private property." Peter Berle, President, National Audubon Society.

"Free enterprise really means rich people getting richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process…Capitalism is destroying the earth." Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Pet ownership is slavery. Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or be entertained by." Ingrid Newkirk, Founder of People for the ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA).

"The only really good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation levied by an elitist species upon the rest of the natural world." Friends of the Earth.

"The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing…This is not to say that the rise in human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that is will be much of a help to the world in the long run." Editorial in the 'Economist.'

"If you give the idea a chance, you might agree that the extinction of homo sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions of other earth-dwelling species." Wild Earth Magazine

"Among environmentalists sharing two or three beers, the notion is quite common that if only some calamity could wipe out the entire human race, other species might once again have a chance." Richard Conniff, Audubon Magazine

This is the wasted human corpuscle which dares call me a fringe extremist, yet not once have I called for their eradication, nor would I because I value human life – even theirs.

My ideals of governance are exactly the same as those held by the founders of this nation including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Henry and Madison. Their ideas of a controlled government, individual liberty, private property ownership and free enterprise are the ones which made this nation the most free, richest and healthiest in the world.

The opposite – the ideas being promoted today by those who advocate powerful central government, controlled economies, destruction of private property ownership and redistribution of wealth are the root of poverty, pain and human misery. Those policies have been proven time and again to fail, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

They seek to control every movement, every action and every decision people make about their own lives. Rather than following our Constitution, which says we are all born with our rights, giving government the job to protect them, they seek to dictate what our rights will be. Control, power, and ultimately disaster – caused by their policies are the future we face with them in charge.

To cover it up and redirect attention, they call me an extremist whacko. And the tactic works every time a lazy, uninformed electorate chooses to trust elected officials to make decisions for them. Luckily, I have a tough hide.

Copyright by Tom DeWeese, americanpolicy.org www.americanpolicy.org

Tom DeWeese is the President of the American Policy Center and the Editor of The DeWeese Report

The truth .mysite

Blood Meridian: Bush's High Crimes of Torture and War Chris Floyd, Atlantic Free Press

Link

January 10, 2006

If you want to see the depravity and filth that festers in the core of the Bush Administration made plain , read the story below. The regimen of torture and suffering being inflicted on captives in Bush's War of Terror is not some sort of aberrant overreaction to concerns about national security and public safety: these specifically designed, deliberately induced tortures are the expression of the President's deepest desires and clearly stated wishes. Just as the war of aggression in Iraq is his war, these crimes against humanity are his crimes. They are happening because he wants them too.

The only possible response of a sane society to the depredations of this man is his impeachment and removal from power. There is no other course of action for any responsible, patriotic member of Congress to take. Unfortunately, the American Establishment has clearly gone insane — so deranged from decades of bloated power and privilege that it can no longer act even to save itself from the general ruin that Bush is bringing upon the country. Unfortunately, there are very, very few responsible, patriotic members of Congress.

Witness the empty bluster behind the latest Democratic "opposition": in the face of Bush's imminent escalation of the war — with a "surge" that cannot possibly succeed in doing anything but increasing the bloodshed and hatred in the other nation he has ruined — they are offering a "series of symbolic votes" that "would do nothing in practical terms" to stop or even hinder this insane course, as the NY Times reports. The ever-hapless hairpiece hero, Joe Biden, believes this witless flapping of arms will "demonstrate to the president that he's on his own" — a realization that will somehow "spark real change."

But Bush already believes he is on his own — and he likes that way. He has already asserted that he will continue his course in Iraq even if he is deserted by everyone but his wife and dog. And his little mouthpiece, Tony Snow, has just announced that the President is an autocrat who cannot be restrained by any action of Congress whatsoever: "The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way." (Via Cenk Uygur by way of Steve Gilliard.)

"Symbolic votes" won't stop Bush. Even substantive actions — such as cutting off funding — will not stop him. He will clearly provoke a constitutional crisis and continue the war (and the tortures in his gulag) by any means necessary. He is probably willing to attempt to overthrow the government altogether with a military coup if he feels he is being thwarted in his "sacred duty as Commander-in-Chief to protect the nation," which, in his mind, means waging aggressive war, torturing people, spying on us all and looting the treasury on behalf of his cronies. The only possible way to derail his destructive and criminal course is impeachment.

But how will that happen with the weak reeds and blathering hairpieces now in charge of Congress? What will it take to light a fire under them and force them to do what they are legally and morally bound to do — uphold the Constitution? Will they really let Bush go on and on, in slaughter and torture, escalating the war crime in Iraq and very likely launching a new war against Iran?

If the past five years is any indication, the answer is yes, they will. Consider that most leading Democrats are even more hawkish in their saber-rattling at Iran than the Bush Administration, which is even now methodically preparing for war with Tehran, either via a direct U.S. strike or else in reaction to the inevitable Iranian response to an attack by Israel. How can the bellicose Democrats object when Bush puts blood and iron to their rhetoric? A strike on Iran would be the perfect way to "restore bipartisan unity on the Hill."

Yet we live in hope and die in despair, as Brother Edsel always says. So keep pounding the drum: impeach, impeach, impeach. Make it so loud that one day it might even pierce the hairpiece of Joe Biden, and convince the cowardly lions of Congress to do their duty. The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate — although that grim reality may well be thrust upon us. But for God's sake, let's not go down without a fight.

Guantánamo's Lost Souls (Guardian). By American lawyer George Brent Mickum.

Excerpts: The day after tomorrow marks the confluence of two ignominious anniversaries. The first is the five-year anniversary of the opening of the notorious prison camps run by the US at the Guantánamo naval air station in Cuba. In the five years since the US started shipping prisoners from around the world to Guantánamo, approximately 99% have never been charged with any transgression, much less a crime. Approximately 400 prisoners, characterised by the Bush administration as "the worst of the worst", have been released without charge, many directly to their families. That any prisoners have been released is due almost entirely to the outrage of the civilised world.

Thursday is also the start of my clients' fifth year of captivity around the world: Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna...Bisher and Jamil have withstood various forms of physical torture during their five years as prisoners. Both have suffered numerous beatings (Bisher suffered broken ribs and perhaps a broken foot because of beatings by guards, though both injuries went untreated - despite Bisher's requests for medical assistance), stress positions, temperature extremes, extreme sleep deprivation, death threats, threats to family and, at various times, starvation and being denied water that was fit to drink.

It pains me to report that, at the start of his fifth year in prison, the once healthy and extremely articulate Bisher is failing. He is no longer able to withstand the most insidious form of torture being used by the US military: prolonged isolation combined with environmental manipulation that includes constant exposure to temperature extremes and sleep deprivation...

What the British government knows and the British public needs to know is that Bisher's treatment is designed to achieve a single objective: causing an individual to lose his psychological balance and, ultimately, his mind. Every aspect of Bisher's prison environment is controlled and manipulated to create constant mental instability. The damage to Bisher's psyche is not unexpected. The ravages of extended isolation and sensory deprivation leave no marks, but they destroy the mind...

Bisher al-Rawi is, slowly but surely, slipping into madness. British officials have long been aware of Bisher's treatment. To my knowledge, they have done nothing to intercede on his behalf. They have done nothing to end his torture and constant mistreatment. They have done nothing to address the constantly changing list of spurious, new allegations that the military is uses to justify continued imprisonment.

Among the latest new allegations: the military alleges that Bisher received terrorist training in Bosnia and Afghanistan. British officials know these charges are false beyond conjecture. Bisher has never been in Bosnia and has signed an affidavit to that effect. The only time Bisher has been in Afghanistan was when the CIA rendered Bisher and Jamil there aboard CIA Gulfstream V-N379P out of the Republic of the Gambia to Cairo, Egypt, where the aircraft refuelled, then went on to the notorious Dark Prison. The reports Bisher and Jamil have given us have matched exactly the flight logs of CIA flights we have obtained. In the Dark Prison, Bisher and Jamil spent weeks underground, encased in total darkness, chained to a wall and shackled in leg irons, starved, and assaulted 24 hours a day with cacophonously loud noise before being transferred to Bagram....

Until last March the British government adamantly refused to intercede on behalf of any of the British residents still interred at Guantánamo....That changed suddenly when the government asked for Bisher's return on non-humanitarian grounds, belatedly conceding that Bisher had worked for MI5. Unfortunately for Bisher, this long-overdue admission, and the British government's request for his immediate repatriation, coincided with Bisher being thrown into isolation. He remains there more than nine months later, with no end in sight.

Bisher's world is a cell 6ft by 8ft in Camp V, where alleged "non-compliant" prisoners are incarcerated. After all these years and hundreds of interrogations, Bisher finally refused to be interrogated further. Despite the fact that Guantánamo officials have publicly proclaimed that prisoners are no longer required to participate in interrogations, Bisher is deemed to be non-compliant and hence is tortured daily....

Solitary confinement is but a single aspect of the torture that Bisher endures on a daily basis. While in isolation, Bisher has been constantly subjected to severe temperature extremes and other sensory torments, many of which are part of a sleep deprivation program that never abates. Frequently, Bisher's cell is unbearably cold because the air conditioning is turned up to the maximum. Sometimes, his captors take his orange jumpsuit and sheet, leaving him only in his shorts. For a week at a time, Bisher constantly shivers and is unable to sleep because of the extreme cold. Once, when Bisher attempted to warm himself by covering himself with his prayer rug, one of the few "comfort items" permitted to him, his guards removed it for "misuse". On other occasions, the heat is allowed to become so unbearable that breathing is difficult and labored. For a week at a time, all Bisher can do is lie completely still, sweat pouring off his body during the day when the Cuban heat can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature inside Camp V is even higher.

Bisher is allowed no contact with fellow prisoners. Bright lights are kept on 24 hours a day. Bisher is given 15 sheets of toilet paper per day, but because he used his sheets to cover his eyes to help him to sleep, his toilet paper - considered another comfort item by his beneficent constabulary - has been removed for "misuse". Accordingly, he is no longer receives his daily ration of 15 sheets of toilet paper. Imagine being in the position of having to make a choice between using your tiny allotment of toilet paper for the purpose for which it was intended or using it to sleep, and then having it removed altogether...

Changes of clothing take place at midnight when prisoners are given a single, thin cotton sheet. Prisoners are unable to sleep until close to 1am. They are awakened at 5am, when each is required to return his sheet. All of Bisher's legal documents and family photographs were seized from him last June and have never been returned.

If Bisher spends four more months in the conditions I have described, the man I met in September 2004, who was healthy, articulate, thoughtful and humorous, will in all likelihood no longer exist. He will probably slip into a madness that is permanent. If that comes to pass, Britain must recognise and accept the grave culpability it bears...

The Bush Administration, of course, continues to deny that the United States uses torture, prating endlessly about the Administration's humane treatment of the prisoners and its robust compliance with the Geneva Conventions. It long ago defined away torture in the now infamous "Torture Memo" commissioned by now Attorney General Alberto Gonsales. But thousands of pages of memoranda generated by FBI field agents at the prison camps in Guantánamo and released pursuant to Freedom of Information Act litigation belie the Administration's hollow assertions and paint a grim and accurate picture...

These memoranda expose in detail only some of the "torture techniques" employed by the military. They document abuses that include "strangulation, beatings, [and] placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings" (document 4911 entitled Urgent Report). Mamdouh Habib, a former prisoner at Guantánamo who was rendered first to Egypt for unmentionable torture before being transferred to Guantánamo, arrived there without fingernails and bleeding from the ears and nose where cigarettes had repeatedly burned him. Habib, one of the few prisoners actually charged by the military, was summarily released to his home in Australia once the extent of his abuse was exposed. But before placing Habib on the aircraft that would eventually take him home, military officials could not resist one last gratuitous torture: they told him he was being transferred back to Egypt! Among the horrors I have been exposed to in this case, this particular story haunts still.

These FBI memoranda also document efforts by the military to cover-up the abuses. Document number 3977 is a memorandum entitled "Impersonating FBI at GTMO". It informs FBI superiors in Washington, DC that military interrogators at Guantánamo are impersonating the FBI when torturing prisoners. It goes on to state: "These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralisation nature to date and [the Department of Defense, Criminal Investigation Task Force] believes that [the torture] techniques have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee. If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [by] the 'FBI' interrogators. The FBI will be left holding the bag before the public."

If I alone were making these claims, I would expect at least some readers to doubt the reliability of my account. But FBI field agents wrote these documents. The FBI withheld them until a US court ordered their production. Notably, no one in the Bush Administration or the military has questioned the veracity of these FBI accounts. Thus, there is no debate regarding the authenticity or accuracy of the information contained in these documents.

But if corroboration is needed, the FBI accounts are confirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which reports that the methods used at Guantánamo have, over time, become "more refined and repressive" than those witnessed by the Red Cross on previous visits. Red Cross officials are on record stating that military interrogators seek to make detainees dependent upon them through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions". They confirm that prisoners are exposed to loud and incessant noise and music and were subjected to "some beatings".

The Red Cross also reports that interrogators not only used psychological and physical coercion, but also enlisted the participation of medical personnel in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics". Doctors and other medical personnel work directly with military officials at Guantánamo, conveying data about prisoners' "mental health and vulnerabilities". The Red Cross reports these medical professionals become part of the torture and interrogation machine. Their chief function is not the medical care of prisoners, but assisting interrogators in extracting information. As a result, prisoners no longer trust doctors and others to whom their treatment is entrusted.

It should come as a surprise to no one that the Red Cross concluded that "[t]he construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture."

...Almost a hundred prisoners that we know of have died in US custody; 33 of these deaths are formally classified as homicides by the military. Not since the second world war, when the US imprisoned American citizens of Japanese descent, has this country experienced such a constitutional nadir. If the world is to fight this war on terror, morality must not be allowed to become collateral damage. The time is long past for the British government to demand Bisher's and Jamil's immediate return. Paradigms of innocent suffering, they will remain wraiths that hover above the political and moral landscape, constantly reminding us that the destinies of those who would wage just war and those against whom that war is waged are mingled.

The truth .mysite

January 11, 2006 Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends. Senate Tired of Your E-mails, Phone Calls; Expected to Pass Bill that Will Keep You From Getting Needed Information.

The U.S. Senate is poised to pass Senate Bill 1 (Section 220), which would effectively keep AFA and every other pro-family organization in America from providing you information on bills in Congress. Under Senate Bill 1 (Section 220), we would only be able to provide you information on a bill at a high cost and at great danger of being penalized by Congress.

To put it bluntly, members of Congress are tired of getting your e-mails and phone calls, and Senate Bill 1(Section 220) is designed to keep information from you that might inspire you to call or write your senator.

Click here to read AFA's review of Senate Bill 1 (Section 220).

The new Democratic Senate thinks that if it can keep you from getting information—which is what Senate Bill 1 (Section 220) would do—then it will not be getting e-mails and phone calls from you.

Senators favoring this bill are simply tired of hearing from you. That is the bottom line. They don’t want to hear from you. They don’t want you to be informed. They want to silence you. How? By simply keeping you from receiving information that AFA provides.

I know that language is strong, but Senate Bill 1 (Section 220) will do exactly what I’ve said.

Take Action 1. Send an e-mail to your two senators now!

2. Call your two senators at 202-224-3121. (Simply ask for one senator. Then call the other one at the same number. Ask your senators to vote against Senate Bill 1 (Section 220).

3. Please forward this to your friends and family. It is vitally important that they know what members of the Senate are trying to do.

4. Print this information, and share it with members in your Sunday School class and church and urge them to send an e-mail and call.

If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift? Thank you for caring enough to get involved.

Sincerely,

Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman American Family Association

P.S. Please forward this 11, 2006

Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.

Senate Tired of Your E-mails, Phone Calls; Expected to Pass Bill that Will Keep You From Getting Needed Information.

The truth .mysite

For the past five years, the United States has held hundreds of men from over 45 countries in Guantanamo Bay. Not a single person has been convicted of a crime, and three men died of apparent suicides.

Today marks five years since the US first transferred men to indefinite and arbitrary detention. Five years of lawlessness is enough – let's join with Amnesty International USA to demand that the detention facilities at Guantanamo be closed.

Bob Fertik

Help stand up for the America We Believe In We're mobilizing people of conscience across America to help change our country's disastrous course on human rights. Take action now!

Dear Friend,

America's commitment to human rights and justice is being held prisoner at Guantánamo Bay. Take action today to end the abomination.

Five years ago, the U.S. began detaining people at Guantánamo Bay without charges . . . without trial . . . without legal recourse . . . and without hope. The interrogation regime there led to many allegations of torture and ill-treatment. These abuses continue despite widespread domestic and international outrage.Help put a stop to these abuses.

The government wants us to think that all people held at Guantánamo Bay are known terrorists.

Unfortunately, it's not true. The detainees at Guantánamo Bay are only suspects, innocent until proven guilty, some as young as 15 when they were detained. They have been held for years in conditions that are isolating, harsh, inhuman and cruel.

Every day that the Guantánamo Bay detention facilities remain open is another day when the United States of America broadcasts to the world its utter lack of respect for the most basic human rights principles.

Why are human rights important anyway? Because human rights, values championed by the U.S. for decades, make way for a peaceful and secure world. Because without human rights, no one is safe. Respecting the innate human dignity of every human across the world is our only hope for a prosperous and peaceful society. When we respect each others' rights, we secure our own.

What can you do? Join Amnesty International and speak out against Guantánamo Bay and the policies behind it. Tell the President to shut down Guantánamo Bay.

Tell him that the America you believe in leads the world on human rights.

Please act today. Take a stand for human rights.

Sincerely,

Larry Cox Executive Director Amnesty International USA