Thursday, December 25, 2008

American Foreign Policy Spreads Illegal Drug Trade Worldwide

The Taliban has been smuggling Afghan opium into Western nations, such as Great Britain in order to finance its war against the American occupation. The American War on Terror has caused the illicit drug trade to explode worldwide, just as American foreign policy has continually done throughout history. The unstable situation in Afghanistan has caused illegal opium production to jump 34 percent in 2007 from already record levels in 2006, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The Taliban has been smuggling Afghan opium via central Asia and West Africa en route to consumer nations, such as the United States and European nations. Drug profits are being used by the Taliban to finance its insurgency against Western occupation forces in Afghanistan. About $4 billion worth of opiates were exported from Afghanistan in 2007.

However, this is not the first time that illegal drugs have been used to finance an insurgent or rebel war. The same situation had occurred during the Reagan administration’s cold war against communism. This lead to the U.S.-backed Contra war against the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and then eventually spawned the Iran-Contra scandal. Ironically, this time the drug smuggling was occurring on the American side of the conflict. It was the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who had knowingly dealt with drug smugglers in Nicaragua in order to further Reagan’s anti-Communism campaign in Latin America, according to Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance,” a series of articles originally printed in the San Jose Mercury News. Webb later wrote about the controversy surrounding his series of articles in a 600-page book, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. In 1989, Sen. John Kerry conducted a highly-detailed senate report which “found cases in which high U.S. officials," due to fear of disrupting Reagan’s war against communism, “intervened to stop law enforcement operations aimed at nailing drug kingpins.” Money from smuggling cocaine into the United States was funneled to the Contras for weapons and other supplies in their war to overthrow the Russian-backed Sandinistas.

Although the CIA denies knowledge of any drug smuggling operations, many of their agents were being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). "In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA,” said Dennis Dayle, former chief of an elite DEA unit, according to Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, Updated edition , a book by Peter Dale Scott.

The largest cocaine smuggler in the history of the United States was Barry Seal, a CIA agent. Although the government had suspected him of being a drug smuggler they kept Seal on their payroll as an agent. The CIA would have Seal fly to Nicaragua to deliver arms to the Contras in Nicaragua in order to fight the communist Sandinistas. On his way back from Nicaragua he would bring back shipments of cocaine. After U.S. authorities seized $1.5 million in drug money during a sting operation, in which Seal acted as a DEA informant, Lt. Col. Oliver North suggested that the drug money be used to help the Contras, according to Kerry’s subcommittee report. The DEA ultimately denied North’s request. However if the drug bust never occurred the money probably would have gone to the Contra cause. More than likely North and the CIA were well aware of that.

During the Vietnam War, the same “secret army” the CIA had trained and equipped in Laos to fight the Vietnamese Communists were responsible for growing opium, which eventually found its way in the form of heroine to American troops fighting in Vietnam. One of the CIA’s operatives, Edgar "Pop" Buell, was responsible for teaching the Hmong, the mountain tribes recruited by the CIA, advanced agricultural techniques for growing opium in order to help fund covert actions against Vietnamese Communists in the hills of Laos, according to Professor Alfred W. McCoy’s book, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Also, after the end of the war North Vietnamese rulers who were put into power by the U.S. government were responsible and profited from the illegal heroine trade, which found its way to U.S. soldiers. Eventually many of the troops who survived the Vietnam War came back to the United States as heroine addicts, causing dramatic increase in demand for the deadly substance back home.

Historically, US foreign policy has caused instability in developing nations, which in turn causes an increase in the world wide illegal drug trade. In some instances the U.S. government is at best negligent, if not complicit, in speeding up the flow of drugs into its own streets as is the case during the Iran-Contra and the Vietnam War. At other times, such as with the war in Afghanistan American foreign policy is the destabilizing catalyst for drug smuggling into Europe and the U.S. With a dramatic increase in opium production from Afghanistan, a surge in heroine addiction in consumer countries such as the United States and European nations will surely occur.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mumbai and 9/11: Links Run Deep

The recent terrorist attack on Mumbai was meant to be India’s 9/11, claimed Azam Amir Kasab, 21, the only surviving gunman. This is just one connection between the terrorist attack in Mumbai and the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. In both attacks authorities and security agencies were warned beforehand. However, in both incidences, security was decreased just before the strikes.

Prior to the recent attacks in Mumbai the US intelligence warned India of a possible plot by terrorists to launch a waterborne assault, according to CBS. India was also warned that terrorists were planning to attack monumental and symbolic sites, such as the Taj Mahal. Security at the Taj Mahal was increased as a result. Taj Mahal security is operated by the Tata Group, India’s largest private corporation. But, instead of keeping security tight at the Taj Mahal, Tata Group decided to scale down previously added security measures prior to the attacks. “It's ironic that we did have such a warning and we did have some measures," Rattan Tata, Tata Group’s CEO, told CNN.

"People couldn't park their cars in the portico where you had to go through a metal detector… But if I look at what we had -- which all of us complained about -- it could not have stopped what took place”. Tata claims that the attackers had not gone through the entrance of the hotel, which previously had metal detectors, therefore claiming that scaling down the Taj Mahal security measures was inconsequential to preventing this specific attack.

Ironically, before 9/11, the US government had received intelligence of a possible terrorist attack using hijacked planes. Just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Vice President Cheney ordered the Air Force to stand down. The US government was also criticized for its slow response time. Some critics such as essayist, Gore Vidal in his book Dreaming War: Blood For Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, claimed that the Bush administration purposely ignored warnings of the attacks.

Another common thread between 9/11 and Mumbai is American International Group (AIG), which had been in the news for receiving $85 billion in US government bailouts. AIG is the majority shareholder of Kroll Associates, the company in charge of security at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. AIG also has links with Tata Group, who was in charge of security at the Taj Mahal. Tata Group had teamed up with AIG to form Tata-AIG, which insures the Taj Mahal and other hotels against terrorist attacks.

The attacks on the World Trade Center resulted in a declared “War on Terror” by the Bush Admistration. This lead to war in Afghanistan followed by war in Iraq. Kasab claims that he and his fellow gunmen were a part of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a jihadist group based out of Pakistan.

This has caused increased tension between India and Pakistan. This alarmed the world community because both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons. India and the US had just signed the 123 Agreement, which allows the US to exchange equipment and information to aide India in developing nuclear power. Coincidentally, AIG, even while asking for a government bailout, was still spending millions of dollars to lobby congress to sign the 123 Agreement. The US government denied Pakistan’s request for a similar agreement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AIG Bail-Out May Threaten Civil Liberties

The recent $152 billion government bailout of American International Group (AIG) may have given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) access to the personal information of millions of people in America and all over the world. AIG, its subsidiaries, and its founder have a history of fraud allegations and collaborating covertly with the CIA in espionage and illegal arms smuggling.

AIG is the majority shareholder of Kroll Associates, which is one of several private companies, which the CIA employs to conduct espionage and illegal arms smuggling. Kroll was used to smuggle arms to the Contras in El Salvador as part of the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. Kroll’s privatized status keeps it free from much of the congressional oversight that an official arm of the CIA would have to comply with. It is more difficult for Congress and the press to probe into Kroll’s potentially illegal activities. This would also be true of AIG.

AIG is America’s largest insurance provider. It also provides insurance internationally in 130 countries and jurisdictions. Insurance companies have access to more personal information on US citizens than almost any other entity in our society. They have access to our financial records, medical history, banking records, and much more. This puts into question whether the CIA may now be using AIG to conduct illegal espionage on American citizens in the name of the War on Terror.

It would not be the first time that the US government used insurance data to spy on those they considered dangerous or a threat. During World War II, the US government created the Insurance Intelligence Unit, a component of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the a forerunner of the CIA, and its elite counterintelligence branch X-2. This specialized intelligence group used international insurance data and information to gain knowledge of Germany’s economy and financial institutions, according Los Angeles Times article in 2000. The man who was in charge of the CIA’s secret insurance spying unit was Cornelius V. Starr, who later founded AIG.

In 1968 Starr chose Maurice Greenberg as his successor at AIG. In 2005 Greenberg was investigated by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for securities fraud. The investigation led to a $1.6 billion fine for AIG and criminal charges for some of its executives. Although the criminal charges against Greenberg have been dropped after AIG settled the case, Spitzer has taken the case to civil proceedings where many of the major allegations are still part of the claim. Spitzer’s successor, Andrew Cuomo, is now running the investigation. Greenberg was eventually forced to resign as CEO of AIG.

Maurice is not the only Greenberg who has had to deal with allegations of illegal activity. In 2005, his son, Jeffrey W. Greenberg, was forced to resign as CEO of Marsh & McLennan, after the company’s insurance brokerage unit was charged with bid-rigging and accepting kickbacks, among other allegations.

AIG, its subsidiaries, and those that are connected to the company have a history and a reputation of operating outside of the law and sometimes on behalf of the CIA’s domestic and international agendas. As part of the bailout, the Federal Reserve now owns 79.9% of AIG. The company’s history is riddled with fraud allegations, criminal convictions, and ties with Kroll, nobody knows if favors were agreed upon behind closed doors in return for the government bailout.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fear, Atheism, and Politics Play Role in Evangelical Manifesto

The recent Evangelical Manifesto is all about politics and fear. Despite claiming to depoliticize the religion the document actually plays on Christianity’s fear of atheism in the US in order to manipulate American politics. The Manifesto, written by Os Guinness, portrays two opposing possibilities for religious discourse in American society, the “naked public square” and the “civil public square.” Guinness presents the two possible choices for the future of America, one being the right path, the other disastrous for America. He warns of dangers of the “naked” public square, which according to the Evangelical Manifesto, is completely devoid of religion or spirituality in public life. In contrast the document promotes a so-called “civil” public square, which would allow for expression of religion and spirituality in the public domain.

Guinness then distinguishes the difference between an “atheist” and a “secularist” in order to politicize the two terms. The document claims that a “secularist” can become an “atheist” by denying access to the spiritual world. “We ourselves [evangelicals] are often atheists unawares, secularists in practice who live in a world without windows to the supernatural,” claimed the Manifesto. The “secularists” are depicted as open to a discussion of religion and spirituality in the public forum. He allows the “secularist” to become a part of the “civil public square,” but claims that Evangelicals need to be aware of “the striking intolerance evident among the new atheists,” therefore alienating “atheists” from the “civil” public square.

Guinness uses fear to paint a horrific picture of America in the hands of the atheists by comparing atheism in America to Europe’s exclusion of religion from public life. The Manifesto warns American Evangelicals that “If this hardens into something like the European animosity toward religion in public life, the result would be disastrous for the American republic…” In the summary of the Manifesto, which accompanied the main document, the writer called atheists “coercive secularists.” The difference between “secularists” and “atheists” is a coercive and evil nature, according to the Evangelical Manifesto. The document spends a significant amount of time creating fear of an atheist or coercive secularist state. Guinness depicts “secularists” as participating members of the “civil public square” while “atheists” as intolerant to the Evangelical movement, as well as other religions.

However, Christianity has experienced little intolerance in the US in comparison to other parts of the world, such as the Middle East. Unofficially, however, the US government is already endorsing the Christian religion over any other religion. There have been highly publicized accounts of Christian military personnel bullying and even threatening those non-Christian military men and women. Even President Bush had been criticized for describing the current Iraq War as a “crusade.” Many claimed it was a reference to the original 11th century Christian Crusades against Muslims in the Middle East. In the past five years if any religion has been receiving the most intolerance in the US it would be Islam.

So, what does Guinness mean by “intolerance?” Perhaps the writer is referring to the ban on public prayer or displaying religious symbols on government property. Guinness maybe inferring that those who believe in upholding separation of church and state, which has traditionally been championed by the political left, are part of the “intolerant” atheists. During an interview with Alex Chediak ( Guinness was asked if Christian voters should consider a pro-choice candidate if the candidate aligns with other Christian values. “Emphatically not, and the Manifesto is blunt about the undiminished fight for life and marriage,” replied Guinness siding with most on the political right, which has traditionally been supported by Evangelical and born-again Christians.

The Evangelical Manifesto is a subversive attack on the separation of church and state, without which, the government would be allowed to officially endorse one religion over another. It would only be a matter of time before Roe v. Wade will be reversed and gay marriage is banned based on government-endorsed Christian values. Although the Manifesto claims to want to end “cultural-warring” between the left and right, it is covertly continuing Evangelism’s manipulation of US politics.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Big Pharma Sells Happiness to America

Americans are now buying their happiness in pill form. Big Pharma is recklessly pushing anti-depression drugs onto the American public. The pharmaceutical industry has been financially influencing members of the government and using misleading advertising campaigns in order to get their psychiatric drugs approved for public consumption without proper clinical trials.

Big Pharma has infiltrated the FDA and the NIMH, two government entities, in order to get their psychiatric drugs approved for public consumption quickly with minimal barriers. In 55 percent of the FDA advisory meetings on drug approvals, half or more of the FDA advisers had financial connections to the interested drug company, while in 92 percent of these advisory meetings, at least one FDA adviser had a financial conflict of interest according to USA Today in 2000. Almost every FDA meeting on drug approvals have been tainted by Big Pharma’s money.

The pharmaceutical companies also left their mark on the National Institute for Mental Health, the government-funded organization responsible for mental illness research. Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to regularly offer prestigious and lucrative positions to NIMH members. In 1993 Steven Paul, scientific director of NIMH, resigned to become vice president of Eli Lilly while Lewis Judd, a former NIMH director joined Roche Pharmaceutical. Both companies are two major players in the psychiatric drug market. Eli Lilly produces the well-known psychiatric drugs, Prozac and Zyprexa. Roche Pharmaceutical manufactures Valium, Klonopin, and other psychiatric drugs. The drug companies are actively recruiting members of the NIMH into high-paid private sector positions to bolster their influence over the government institution.

With influence over members of the FDA as well as the NIMH, the pharmaceutical companies offer incentives for members of both organizations to rush psychiatric drugs through a hasty approval process. The FDA only requires two randomized clinical trials to be conducted on subjects for usually only 4 to 12 weeks according to the New York Times on April 15, 2008. Many people who take anti-depressant drugs are taking the drug for major portions of their lives. There have been very few tests on the effects of long-term use of the drugs. Yet, pharmaceutical companies are still pushing for new psychiatric drugs. One of the newest drugs to hit the market, Effexor, has only been tested for a two-year duration. Drugs are being sent straight to the consumer without clinical knowledge of long-term effects. They are even trying to treat marijuana addiction, which has yet to been proven to biologically exist, with lithium. Big Pharma also targets children. More than half of all foster children ages 13 to 17 were being given psychiatric drugs to control their behavior, according to the New York Times on April 26, 2008.

Pharmaceutical companies send out biased and exaggerated press releases to increase the number of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs. In 1987 Eli Lilly released Prozac, a serotonin-enhancer, based on the theory that depression was caused by low levels of serotonin. Eli Lily then used a multi-billion dollar marketing campaign to further convince doctors and the public that depression was caused by a deficiency in serotonin and Prozac was the cure for this deficiency. However, in 1998 The American Medical Association concluded that the link between low levels of serotonin and depression was unclear. By this time the percentage of Americans in outpatient treatment had more than tripled, and prescriptions of psychiatric medications had more than doubled, according to Eli Lily had already made its money. The insurance companies cashed in. And now, the anti-depressant drug market is a $12 billion per year industry and growing, slowing medicating the nation into chemical happiness.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coming Soon...