Tag Archives: Exxon Mobil

Kennedy: Palin is Big Oil’s Dreamgirl

“THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SARAH PALIN AND DICK CHENEY IS…LIPSTICK.” — RFK JR.

* The Los Angeles Times published this opinion piece by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in today’s edition:

Palin’s Big Oil infatuation

She is as much a product of the oil industry as the current president and his vice president.
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
September 24, 2008
I was water-skiing with my children in a light drizzle off Hyannis, Mass., last month when a sudden, fierce storm plunged us into a melee of towering waves, raking rain, painful hail and midday darkness broken by blinding flashes of lightning. As I hurried to get my children out of the water and back to the dock, I shouted over the roaring wind, “This is some kind of tornado.”

The fog consolidated and a waterspout hundreds of feet high rose from the white ocean and darted across its surface, landing for a moment on a moored outboard to spin it like a top, moving toward a distant shore where it briefly became a sand funnel, and then diffusing into the atmosphere as it rained down bits of beach on the harbor. For 24 hours, a light show of violent storms illuminated the coastline, accompanied by booming thunder. My dog was so undone by the display that she kept us all awake with her terrified whining. That same day, two waterspouts appeared on Long Island Sound.

Those odd climatological phenomena led me to reflect on the rapidly changing weather patterns that are altering the way we live. Lightning storms and strikes have tripled just since the beginning of the decade on Cape Cod. In the 1960s, we rarely saw lightning or heard thunder on the Massachusetts coast. I associate electrical storms with McLean, Va., where I spent the school year when I was growing up.

In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today’s anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington’s C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.

Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy. In 1998, these companies plotted to deceive American citizens about climate science. Their goal, according to a meeting memo, was to orchestrate information so that “recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom” and that “those promoting the Kyoto treaty … appear to be out of touch with reality.”

Since that meeting, Exxon has funneled $23 million into the climate-denial industry, according to Greenpeace, which combs the company’s annual report each year. Since 2006, Exxon has cut off some of the worst offenders, but 28 climate-denial groups will still get funding this year.

Corporate America’s media toadies continue to amplify Exxon’s deceptive message. The company can count on its hand puppets — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, John Stossel and Glenn Beck — to shamelessly mouth skepticism about man-made climate change and give political cover to the oil industry’s indentured servants on Capitol Hill. Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe calls global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public.”

Now John McCain has chosen as his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a diligent student of Big Oil’s crib sheets. She’s something of a flat-earther who shares the current administration’s contempt for science. Palin has expressed skepticism about evolution (which is like not believing in gravity), putting it on par with “creationism,” which posits that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.

She used to insist that human activities have nothing to do with climate change. “I’m not one … who would attribute it to being man-made,” she said in August. After she joined the GOP ticket, she magically reversed herself, to a point. “Man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming,” she told Charles Gibson two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Alaska is melting before our eyes; entire villages erode as sea ice vanishes, glaciers are disappearing at a frightening clip, and “dancing forests” caused by disappearing permafrost astonish residents and tourists. Palin had to keep her head buried particularly deep in an oil well to ever have denied that humans are causing climate change. But, as Upton Sinclair pointed out, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Palin’s enthusiastic embrace of Big Oil’s agenda (if not always Big Oil itself) has been the platform of her hasty rise in Alaskan politics. In that sense she is as much a product of the oil industry as the current president and his vice president. Palin, whose husband is a production operator for BP on Alaska’s North Slope, has sued the federal government over its listing of the polar bear as an endangered species threatened by global warming, and she has fought to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s coast to oil drilling.

When oil profits are at stake, her fantasy world appears to have no boundaries. About American’s deadly oil dependence, she mused recently, “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.”

I guess the only difference between Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney is … lipstick.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School.
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Unearthing News the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

 

Ashcroft Claims Waterboarding Isn’t Torture

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft told the House Judiciary Committee last week that waterboarding is not torture. Ashcroft also claims waterboarding is more effective than other interrogation techniques and has served a “very valuable” purpose.

“I believe a report of waterboarding would be serious, but I do not believe it would define torture,” Ashcroft testified. He added, “the Department of Justice has on a consistent basis over the last half-dozen years or so, over and over again in its evaluations, come to the conclusion that under the law in existence during my time as attorney general, waterboarding did not constitute torture.”

Republican Representative Howard Coble of North Carolina asked Ashcroft, “Waterboarding, as we all know, is a controversial issue. Do you think it served a beneficial purpose?”

“The reports that I have heard, and I have no reason to disbelieve them, indicate that they were very valuable,” Ashcroft replied, adding that CIA Director George Tenet indicated the “value of the information received from the use of enhanced interrogation techniques — I don’t know whether he was saying waterboarding or not, but assume that he was for a moment — the value of that information exceeded the value of information that was received from all other sources.”
More Details Emerge On How White House Blocked CO2 Cuts

Jason Burnett, a former Bush EPA appointee, told the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming last week that the White House was persuaded by “individuals working for particular oil companies, Exxon Mobil,” and oil industry trade associations to delay and ultimately block EPA’s efforts to regulate CO2 during the remainder of Bush’s term in office.

Burnett said that White House officials initially supported EPA’s efforts to create a framework to regulate CO2 emissions, but reversed course after a carefully choreographed lobbying campaign by representatives from Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, who argued that Bush should not undermine his legacy by regulating greenhouse gases. Burnett, the former EPA deputy associate administrator, claims that the coal and oil industries successfully persuaded the White House to block the EPA’s determination that CO2 and other greenhouse gases pose a significant threat to public health and the climate and should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Burnett explained to the committee how the electric power industry, particularly the Edison Electric Institute, “thought their members would be better served by getting out in front and actively engaging” regulators trying to shape CO2 standards, “rather than trying to fight what they judge to be inevitable.”

Burnett said he and other EPA staff were ordered by administration officials to downplay the risk of global warming: “We were told . . . that the [document] should not establish a path forward or a framework for regulation, but should emphasize the complexity of the challenge.”

EPA announced last week that the agency has no intention of regulating global warming emissions until after President Bush’s term ends. Days later, the agency issued detailed warnings confirming that global warming poses “substantial” threats to the United States. Heat waves, hurricanes and infectious diseases will increase and “it is very likely” that more people will die during extremely hot periods in future years, with the greatest impacts on the elderly, the poor and those in inner cities, according to the new EPA report.
Closing Coal Plants Benefits Children’s Brain Development

A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) concludes that shutting down coal-fired power plants has a direct, positive impact on infant brain development.

The study, published in the July 14th edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, tracked the development of two groups of children in China – one in utero while a coal-fired power plant was operating in the city of Tongliang and one in utero after the Chinese government had closed the same plant. The group exposed to coal plant emissions in the womb had significantly lower average developmental scores and reduced motor development at age two than children in the control group with no exposure to the coal plant emissions.

“This study provides direct evidence that governmental action to eliminate polluting coal-burning sources benefits children’s neurodevelopment,” said Dr. Frederica Perera, lead author of the study and Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. “These findings have major implications for environmental health and energy policy as they demonstrate that reduction in dependence on coal for energy can have a measurable positive impact on children’s development and health — in China and elsewhere,” said Perara.

Earlier studies conducted by the CCEH on coal’s health impacts found that newborns with high levels of prenatal exposure to air pollution from coal-fired power plants have smaller head circumference at birth, lower growth rate in childhood, and significantly worse performance on developmental tests at two years of age. Additionally, newborns in utero during operation of the coal burning power plant had higher levels of DNA damage due to prenatal exposure to air pollutants than newborns in either New York City or Krakow, Poland.
Green Energy Sector Jobs Surge, Coal Industry Employment Continues Falling

A new report by the Worldwatch Institute confirms that a transition to renewable energy sources will lead to significant global job gains. Meanwhile, coal industry employment continues to plummet. In the United States alone, coal industry employment has fallen by half in the last 20 years, despite a one-third increase in production.

An estimated 2.3 million people worldwide currently work either directly in renewables or indirectly in supplier industries. The solar thermal industry employs at least 624,000 people, the wind power industry 300,000, and the solar PV industry 170,000. More than 1 million people work in the biomass and biofuels sector, while small-scale hydropower employs 39,000 individuals and geothermal employs 25,000.

These figures are expected to swell substantially as private investment and government support for alternative energy sources grow.
Ford Finally Shifts Focus to Offer More Fuel Efficient Vehicles In the U.S.

Ford Motor Company’s two-decade obsession with selling Americans millions of gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks is finally waning. The company announced plans to drastically shift its focus to building more fuel-efficient cars. Ford plans to convert three of its North American assembly plants from producing trucks to cars, and to realign its factories to manufacture more fuel-efficient engines. Ford will also begin domestic production and sales of six of the car models it currently sells only in Europe.

Many Americans are reacting to high gas prices by purchasing smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and since Detroit had little to offer to meet those priorities, Japanese automakers have capitalized on surging consumer demand for their more fuel-friendly cars and hybrids.

Ford posted the worst quarterly performance in its history this week, losing $8.67 billion in the second quarter. The company lost $15.3 billion in 2006 and 2007 combined. Ford slashed more than 40,000 jobs in the past three years, and sold off three of its European luxury brands to raise money to cover the losses from declining SUV and truck sales.

The company is faring only slightly better than General Motors, which is facing the possibility of bankruptcy thanks to Detroit’s collective gamble that Americans would keep buying big trucks and that gas would remain cheap. Honda announced record profits for the quarter, and Toyota beat General Motors in worldwide sales in the first half of the year, setting a pace to strip GM of its long-standing title as worldwide auto sales leader.
Judge Restores Endangered Species Act Protections for Yellowstone Wolves

Yellowstone area gray wolves are once again protected by the Endangered Species Act, after a federal district court judge restored the wolf’s endangered status last week. The protections were lifted by the Bush administration earlier this year as ranching and hunting interests prevailed over science. Environmental groups sued the Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service to re-list the species, which faced the possibility of irreparable harm if planned hunts had proceeded this fall, when hunters in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were set to kill 500 wolves.

The district court judge restored the protections after a review of the science, calling the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to de-list the wolves “problematic.” The judge criticized FWS approval of Wyoming’s plans to allow the wolf population to fall to just eight breeding pairs instead of the 15 pairs the federal government once required based on the science. The judge pointed out that federal authorities previously rejected Wyoming’s plans based on the science and that the FWS move to de-list the wolf “represents an agency change of course unsupported by adequate reasoning.”

Relief for the wolves may be temporary, as the judge’s preliminary injunction could be reversed. Since the Bush administration delisted the wolf in late March, more than 100 wolves have been killed in the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Wolves Return to Oregon Wilderness

Oregon state officials confirmed last week that the state’s first wolf pack appears to have settled into the Grants Pass area, a century after federally-funded bounty hunters eradicated the species from the west. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator Russ Morgan identified at least two adults and two pups last week when they answered his early-morning howls in the Umatilla National Forest. The pack likely descended from reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone, and either swam or found a bridge across the Snake River to reach the Oregon wilderness.

Thousands of gray wolves roamed the Rocky Mountains before being slaughtered and eliminated from 95 percent of the lower 48 states by the 1930s. The reintroduction of wolves by the federal government 12 years ago has measurably improved the natural balance in the Northern Rockies and benefited bird, antelope and elk populations, according to NRDC. Wolf tourism contributes at least $35 million to the local Yellowstone area economy each year.
Texas Approves a $4.93 Billion Wind Power Transmission Upgrade

Texas regulators approved a $4.93 billion wind-power transmission project last week, a move that will help ease a transmission bottleneck and deliver far more wind energy to Texas customers. The infrastructure expansion will enable the transport of 18,500 megawatts of electricity from remote west Texas wind farms to the state’s major population centers, providing enough power for 3.7 million homes on a hot day with peak demand.

Currently, some Texas wind turbines are shut off while the wind is blowing because existing transmission capacity can’t handle the load, a problem also hindering wind development in other states. The transmission infrastructure expansion is expected to lower electricity costs, ease pollution and create jobs, while also providing relief for Texans whose electric bills have soared along with rising natural gas prices.

 

White House Tries to Define Contraception As Abortion

Catering to the religious right, Bush administration health officials are attempting to redefine many forms of contraception as abortion. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposes to allow any federal grant recipient to deny a woman’s access to contraception, undermining recent state laws enacted to ensure that women can get contraception when they want or need it.

The federal government previously followed the definition of pregnancy endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; both agree that pregnancy begins at implantation. The new regulations would cut off federal funds to hospitals and states where medical providers are obligated to offer legal abortion and contraception to women.

The HHS proposal states that “the conscience of the individual or institution should be paramount in determining what constitutes abortion, within the bounds of reason. … The Department proposes, then, to allow individuals and institutions to adhere to their own views and adopt a definition of abortion that encompasses both views of abortion.”

The regulations would enable anyone working for a federal clinic, or a health center that receives federal funding — even in the form of Medicaid – to deny access to contraception at any time.
Shoddy KBR Electrical Work Threatens Soldiers at U.S. bases in Iraq

Internal Army documents confirm that the Pentagon hid the extent of deaths and injuries from fires and shocks caused by shoddy electrical work by defense contractor KBR on U.S. military bases in Iraq. Soldiers housed on KBR-built bases face much more widespread and dangerous risk of electrocution and fire than the Pentagon and KBR have admitted publicly. While the Pentagon previously reported only 13 electrocutions in Iraq, the documents show that many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks resulting from poor electrical work. No single document tracks the exact number of deaths and injuries, making it impossible to determine the exact toll from KRB’s shoddy performance.

KBR’s own internal study found a “systemic problem” with its electrical work, although the company denies any link between its work and the electrocutions. Electrical problems are the most urgent noncombat safety hazard for soldiers in Iraq, according to a 2007 Army survey. A log from one Baghdad building complex detailed soldiers complaints of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis.

But the Pentagon did little to address the issue until a Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth, was electrocuted in January while showering. KBR and other contractors have collected millions of dollars to repair and upgrade military facilities in Iraq, including their electrical systems. The documents reveal that KBR and other firms delegated electrical work and other duties to subcontractors who hired unskilled Iraqis who were paid only a few dollars a day.

The Bush administration’s heavy reliance on private contractors in Iraq led to rampant abuse by contractors, particularly KBR which is also accused of overbilling taxpayers, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted.

Article courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Send tips about other stories the mainstream media forgot to report: unearthednews@gmail.com

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RFK Jr.’s News of the Week

Here’s the latest “Unearthed” News from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle:

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

 

Government Report Links Extreme Weather In North America To Global Warming Pollution

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program released a 162-page report overwhelmingly confirming that manmade pollution is causing “changes in weather and climate change.” The report concludes that an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events “could seriously affect” human health, agricultural production, and the availability and quality of water in North America.
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080619_climatereport.html
Led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the report represents the most extensive assessment yet of how global warming will impact North Americans in the future, synthesizing the findings of more than 100 academic papers, including the latest scientific evidence which wasn’t considered in the most recent IPCC assessment. The report confirms that manmade global warming pollution has caused an increased frequency of heat waves, droughts, severe rainfall, and fierce hurricanes, and that there is a 90 percent likelihood that the frequency and intensity of such extreme weather events will continue to accelerate unless immediate action is taken to slow global warming pollution.


Exxon, Shell and BP Among Oil Giants Set to Receive No-Bid Contracts in Iraq

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company prior to nationalization of Iraq’s oil business 36 years ago — are “in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields.” The contracts are intended to jumpstart oil production by half a million barrels a day while Iraqi leaders debate legislation on how to divide the nation’s oil revenues.

Although worth only about $500 million to each company, the no-bid contracts are expected to give the companies a significant bidding advantage over competitors in future contracts on Iraqi oil development. The New York Times confirmed that the “unusual” no-bid contracts were awarded to the oil companies because they provided free advice over the past two years to the Iraq Oil Ministry. In all cases but one, the same company that provided free advice to the ministry on a specific oil field was awarded the contract for that field.

Leila Benali, an authority on Middle East oil at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, told the Times that “The bigger prize everybody is waiting for is development of the giant new fields,” and that these initial contracts give the winning companies a “foothold” to vie for longer-term deals in Iraq.

While State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that the U.S. had “no involvement” in encouraging the no-bid deals with U.S. oil companies, the Times points out that “there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.”

The Bush administration indicated that it sees no need to “get involved” with the negotiations, despite concerns that the presence of U.S. companies, particularly ExxonMobil, could escalate tensions in Iraq and lead to further violence against U.S. troops.
U.S. Government Testing Drugs with Severe Side Effects on War Veterans

The government is employing hundreds of military veterans as lab rats in drug tests, distributing medications known to have potentially severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior. A media investigation uncovered how the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying cash to distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to take part in medical experiments. The practice raised serious ethical concerns in the wake of a near-lethal confrontation between police and an Iraq war veteran who suffered a psychotic episode while taking the controversial anti-smoking drug Chantix.

The VA knew for weeks that the drug had potentially severe mental side effects, yet failed to inform study participants of the dangers prior to the near-fatal incident involving James Elliott, a decorated Iraqi veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who was Tasered by police responding to a 911 call at his Maryland home. Elliot claims he was suffering from Chantix-induced psychotic hallucinations when he reached for a gun as officers approached him. Elliott was part of a Chantix trial targeted toward veterans with PTSD, and said the drug led him to suffer frequent hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.

The FDA alerted the VA weeks before Elliott’s incident that Chantix was responsible for a large number of reported hallucinations, suicide attempts and psychotic behavior, but the VA did not alert Elliott or his fellow study participants of the risks prior to his confrontation with police. “You’re a lab rat for $30 a month,” Elliott said, arguing that the VA treated him like a “disposable hero.”
New Research Links Traffic Pollution to Childhood Allergies

A study by German epidemiologists reveals the strongest evidence yet that the risk of developing a range of allergies and respiratory illnesses increases the closer children live to congested roads. The study suggests the risk of developing asthma, hay fever, eczema or other allergies is roughly 50 percent higher for children living 50 yards from a busy road than for those living 1,000 yards away.

“We consistently found strong associations between the distance to the nearest main road and the allergic disease outcomes,” the study’s lead author, Joachim Heinrich, wrote in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


Oil Tycoon Pickens Tells Congress World Oil Production Has Peaked

Billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens told Congress he believes that oil production has peaked at 85 million barrels per day. Pickens said during testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the United States’ continued heavy reliance on foreign oil could drain the U.S. economy unless lawmakers act quickly to jumpstart a clean technology revolution. “The price of oil will go up further,” Pickens predicts. “In 10 years, we will have exported close to $10 trillion out of the country if we continue on the same basis we’re going now. It is the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind,” he said. Pickens, who made his fortune investing in oil, announced plans for a $2 billion wind energy project earlier this year.
Blackwater Asks Judge to Apply Afghan Islamic Law Instead of U.S. Law In U.S. Soldier Fatalities Lawsuit

Private military contractor Blackwater is asking a federal court to rely on Sharia, the Islamic law of Afghanistan, rather than U.S. law, in an effort to avoid potentially stiff penalties in a lawsuit brought by the widows of three American soldiers who died when the Blackwater-run plane they were on crashed in the Afghan mountains.

Blackwater founder and owner Erik Prince told editors and reporters at North Carolina’s News & Observer newspaper that, because the crash occurred in Afghanistan, the company believes the case should be decided by Afghan law. Sharia does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees during the course of their work.
The lawsuit would be dismissed if the judge agrees that Sharia law applies in Blackwater’s case.
Denver Police Stockpiling Pepper Weapons Ahead of Democratic Convention

Denver police are buying dozens of guns that fire a pepper spray-like substance instead of bullets, designed to aid police efforts to disperse crowds. The guns fire plastic balls filled with a powder that’s “like a combination of cayenne pepper and baby powder,” according to the manufacturer, which confirmed to reporters that the police requested the order be delivered in time for the Democratic National Convention in late August.

Denver received a $50 million federal grant for security during the convention, but refuses to disclose exactly how it is spending that money, prompting a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union last month.


Cheney Wins Battle, Records Will Remain Hidden From the Public

Vice President Dick Cheney won the battle to withhold his office’s records from the public, leaving members of Congress frustrated and convinced that there may not be any further avenues to gain access to the secretive Vice President’s records before he leaves office. “I’m not sure there’s anything we can do,” said Representative Henry Waxman, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “He has managed to stonewall everyone.”

Cheney argues that he doesn’t belong to either the executive or the legislative branch of government exclusively, and therefore isn’t subject to public information laws, even though previous administrations complied with information requests. Government personnel officials also confirmed that they have no information on Cheney’s staff available for public review either.

The Justice Department rebuffed repeated requests by members of Congress to investigate Cheney’s claims to secrecy, agreeing with the Bush administration’s assertion that Cheney and his staff are not part of the executive branch.
Rumsfeld Solicited Torture Advice From Army Psychologists, Ignored Lawyers’ Objections

A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation revealed that former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and senior aides in the Pentagon asked military psychologists as early as July 2002 to provide a list of harsh methods interrogators might employ against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The psychologists, who train Army troops how to survive enemy interrogations, responded with a list of techniques including sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding and slapping. Despite immediate objections from military lawyers who questioned the legality of using the proposed techniques without further review, Rumsfeld ordered interrogators to use the methods on detainees at Gauntanamo anyway.

The Committee’s investigation also revealed that the Defense Department strategically hid prisoners who were subjected to the harsher techniques from Red Cross personnel monitoring detention centers to ensure compliance with the Geneva Convention rules for treatment of prisoners of war. According to secret memos from 2002 when the harsh methods were first employed at Guantanamo, Pentagon attorney Lt. Col. Diane Beaver advised interrogators to “curb the harsher operations” while the Red Cross monitors were around, and said in a private meeting that interrogators’ use of the techniques “is not being reported officially. The [Red Cross] is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.”

Beaver’s comments were recorded in the minutes of an October 2002 meeting between CIA and military lawyers and intelligence officials who discussed how to hide “ghost detainees” from the Red Cross at military detention centers.

Another attendee at the meeting, senior CIA lawyer John Fredman, explained that whether harsh interrogation amount to torture “is a matter of perception.” Fredman said, “If the detainees dies you’re doing it wrong.”

Armed Services Committee chair Sen. Carl Levin commented, “Were these actions the result of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that’s not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”

 

This column originally appeared in Huffington Post.

Send tips about other stories the mainstream media forgot to report: unearthednews@gmail.com

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More “Unearthed” News from RFK Jr.

Here’s this week’s “Unearthed” news column from RFK Jr. (you can also listen to this report at the Ring of Fire radio website or watch it at GoLeft.tv):

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

Huffington Post

 

Bush Regrets Legacy as “Guy Really Anxious for War”

President Bush told the UK newspaper The Times in an exclusive interview that he regrets his reputation as a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. Recognizing the bitter divisions both at home and abroad caused by the war, Bush suggested, “in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.” Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive,” Bush said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”

 
McClatchy Investigation Confirms Routine Torture At U.S. bases in Afghanistan

 

An eight-month investigation by McClatchy Newspapers confirmed the mistreatment and systematic torture of detainees in Afghanistan, starting in 2001 and lasting at least 20 months. Sixty-eight percent of former detainees interviewed by McClatchy say they were assaulted in Afghanistan, far surpassing the number of detainees with similar stories from Guantanamo Bay. Prison guards interviewed by McClatchy say they were deployed to run Afghan detention centers with inadequate training, a poor understanding of the rules of conduct, and an absence of supervision. “Everybody hit their boiling point,” according to one interviewee who described how he and fellow guards routinely beat detainees. Asked why they would abuse prisoners, one guard said “retribution for September 11, 2001,” indicating that many guards believed the detainees were terrorists, even though the vast majority of the detainees had little or no connection to al Qaeda.

“Whether they got in trouble or not, everybody struck a detainee at some point,” said Brian Cammack, an Army Reservist sentenced to three months in military confinement and a dishonorable discharge for hitting a detainee. Spc. Jeremy Callaway, another Army Reservist who admitted to striking numerous detainees in Afghanistan, told military investigators that he was ordered to “mentally and physically break the detainees.” He testified that, “I guess you can call it torture.”

 
Bush Administration Enables Oil Companies to Harass Already Threatened Polar Bears

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently issued rules allowing seven big oil companies to harass and potentially harm polar bears in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. The new regulations shield the seven companies, which include Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips, from any liability for harming polar bears while exploring for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea. The FWS argues that exploration in the midst of polar bear habitat would have a “negligible effect on the bears’ population,” a claim at odds with the Interior Department’s decision less than a month ago to list polar bears as a threatened species because of habitat loss due to global warming. Industrial activity is known to disrupt polar bears’ search for food and their efforts to raise cubs in dens protected from human disturbance.

 
Right Wing Talk Host Michael Reagan Calls for Murder of Anti War Activists

On June 13, talk radio host Michael Reagan, the adopted son of former president Ronald Reagan and occasional guest anchor on Fox News, called for the murder of anti-war activists who, according to Reagan, are sending letters to U.S. soldiers arguing that the U.S. government had a role in 9/11.

Reagan told his nationally-syndicated radio audience:

“Take em out and shoot em. . . . You take em out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. . . . Anybody who would do that doesn’t deserve to live. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that’s what they are. And you shoot em dead. I’ll pay for the bullets.”

 
Newt Gingrich Claims Supreme Court Decision Will ‘cost us a city’

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich echoed the extreme right wing rhetoric of Justice Antonin Scalia on Face the Nation June 15th, claiming that the Supreme Court’s recent decision restoring the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo detainees would “cost us a city.” Justice Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion that the Court’s decision “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Gingrich told the Face the Nation audience that “the debate ought to be about whether you’re prepared to lose an American city on behalf of five lawyers — it was a five to four decision… [and debate] whether or not you’re prepared to allow any random, nutcake district judge who has no knowledge of national security to set the rules for terrorists.”

 
Bush Impeachment Articles Presented to Congress by Dennis Kucinich

Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich presented thirty-five articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to Congress last week.
Many of the articles deal with the Iraq war, including the first: “Article 1 – Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq.”

Other articles delve into GOP election fraud, such as Article 28, charging President Bush with “tampering with free and fair elections,” along with “corruption of the administration of justice.” Article 29 charges the Bush administration and the GOP with “conspiracy to violate the Civil Rights Act of 1965.”

Kucinich presented impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney in April. Kucinich said at the time that “impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.”

 
Federal Judge Rules White House Can Keep Millions of Missing Emails Secret

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the White House can keep secret its paper trail regarding millions of missing emails which could shed further light on the administration’s internal communications leading up to the war in Iraq. The judge ruled that the Office of Administration is shielded from Freedom of Information Act requests because it lacks “substantial independent authority” and its functions “are strictly administrative.” The office previously responded to FOIA requests ever since it was established in 1978, but the Bush White House reversed that policy last year when the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the White House over its records concerning the missing emails. The ruling closes another door on public attempts to learn why the White House is so closely guarding information about the missing emails.

 
Supreme Court Rejects ExxonMobil Efforts to Avoid Human Rights Lawsuit

ExxonMobil’s efforts to appeal a 2001 human rights lawsuit fell on deaf ears at the Supreme Court, which rejected the company’s arguments for dismissing the case. Human rights advocates brought the suit against Exxon on behalf of 11 Indonesian villagers who allege that Exxon hired Indonesian military members to harass and abuse them near one of the company’s natural gas facilities.

The justices are also expected to rule before the end of the month on whether ExxonMobil has to pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. Exxon has waged a 14-year fight over its liabilities for the disaster since a jury in Alaska originally awarded $5 billion to Valdez fishermen and residents whose lives and businesses were devastated by the spill. An appeals court halved the award in 2006, and Exxon is asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the award entirely, claiming the company owes nothing beyond what it already spent cleaning up the spill. Justice Samuel Alito is recused from hearing both cases because he owns at least $100,0000 in ExxonMobil stock.

 
BBC Uncovers $23 Billion in Lost, Stolen and Unaccounted Iraq Funds

BBC journalists estimate the loss, theft or shoddy accounting of as much as $23 billion in U.S. spending in Iraq. Private contractors have collected massive profits throughout the Iraq war and rebuilding process, often winning no-bid contracts like the initial $7 billion give-away to Halliburton in the run-up to the invasion. Not a single U.S. contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanaged funds yet, primarily due to a gag order restricting discussion of the allegations that will likely remain in place until President Bush leaves office. Representative Henry Waxman, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, predicts that the enrichment of contractors “may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.” Waxman told the BBC that the “waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, it’s egregious.”

 
White House Hinders EPA Scientists’ Assessments of Toxic Chemicals

In a move that could threaten the health of millions of Americans, the White House instituted policy changes to delay EPA’s scientific assessments of toxic chemicals, making it harder for the public to comment and limiting independent scientific review. The changes affect the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which tracks the health risks of hundreds of toxic chemicals and is used by EPA offices to set protective health standards for drinking water, air pollution and toxic waste cleanups.

Dr. Linda Greer, director of NRDC’s public health program, testified last week before a House Science subcommittee that the new White House policy “invites the injection of non-scientific considerations into the IRIS assessments, and further, it shields from public scrutiny the input from other parts of the government with a potential financial or political interest in the outcome of a particular assessment.”

The changes introduce three new opportunities for OMB and other non-health agencies to intervene in EPA’s health assessments – all three shielded from public view. Previously the IRIS process provided draft assessments to the public, OMB and non-health agencies at the same time. The new process injects polluting agencies such as DOD and DOE into the assessment process at an earlier stage, and with no public disclosure, and forces EPA staff to address the interests of the non-health focused agencies whether they are consistent with public health policies or not. Then the draft is finally made available to the public for comment, but a final intervention point before the assessment can be finalized requires EPA staff to resolve any outstanding concerns OMB and polluting agencies might raise. Dr. Greer told the House science subcommittee that “this new process is designed precisely to give the polluting agencies more access and more influence to what has historically been an objective scientific evaluation process — and to add at least two or more years to the review of mission critical chemicals.”

 

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