Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Truth About Charlie Wilson’s War. What you heard is a Fantasy!

The Rallying Cry for an Arms Buildup & to End Public Debate about American Foreign Policy on Afghanistan

CharlieWilsonAs the first journalists to enter Kabul in 1981 for CBS News following the expulsion of the Western media the previous year, we continue to be amazed at how the American disinformation campaign between Hollywood, Washington and Wall Street built around the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan lives on. We’ve seen this pattern from the media again and again. It was particularly disturbing to read Ken Herman’s December 18 interview, Charlie Wilson pessimistic about future of Afghanistan, in the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN filled with CIA disinformation. The secret campaign was activated before the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to sell the American people on financing the coming Muslim holy war against the Soviet Union

Let’s separate the child-like fantasy that has been resurrected over and over again from the true nature of Charlie Wilson and his war effort. From the interview:

“…the former East Texas congressman — immortalized in a book and a movie about his exploits that helped the Afghans drive out the Soviet Union.

FACT: Covert funding for the mujahideen began long before the Soviet invasion, not after. This covert aid was intended to lure the Soviets into the Afghan trap and hold them there, not drive them out, as claimed by Charlie Wilson. Both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski – President Carter’s national security adviser, have admitted in print (Gates, in his 1997 book, From the Shadows; Brzezinski, 1998 interview in Le Nouvel Observateur, that the U.S. had been secretly undermining its own diplomatic efforts in order to give the Soviets their own Vietnam in Afghanistan.

The American press failed to report these revelations from high-ranking government officials as news, back then. More recently, Brzezinski’s remarks were addressed in an interview with Samira Goetschel for her film, Our Own Private Bin Laden. She asked:

In your 1998 interview with the French Magazine Le Nouvel Observateur you said that you knowingly increased the probability of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Brzezinski responded:

The point very simply was this. We knew the Soviets were already conducting operations in Afghanistan. We knew there was opposition in Afghanistan to the progressive effort which had been made by the Soviets to take over. And we felt therefore it made a lot of sense to support those that were resisting. And we decided to do that. Of course this probably convinced the Soviets even more to do what they were planning to do…

FACT: As we document in our book, “Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story,” the record contradicts Brzezinski’s assumption that the Soviets would have invaded had it not been for his intentional provocation to lure the Soviet’s into the “Afghan trap.”

FACT: It is well documented that Charlie Wilson’s war prolonged Afghanistan’s agony for another six years, provided a secure multibillion-dollar technological training base for Islamic terrorism, and set the stage for a privatized heroin industry of historic proportions. It’s bad enough that a Hollywood film continues to project the propaganda campaign that kept Americans in the dark about America’s role in helping terrorism grow in Afghanistan. At this late date, it is unconscionable for any media to perpetuate the fantasy that Charlie Wilson or the Congress wanted the Soviets out of Afghanistan.

FACT: America’s mistake in Afghanistan was not “the endgame” problem depicted by “Charlie Wilson’s War.” The problem was in the conceptual framework created by America’s Cold War policy makers in the first place that made Afghanistan the bleeding ground it remains to this day.

FACT: Charlie Wilson’s War became the rallying cry for an arms buildup that would end­ public debate about American foreign policy on Afghanistan. The world was remade with the Soviet folly in Afghanistan, a Communist empire destroyed and the West’s pre-eminence assured. But the price in human suffering in Afghanistan and the impact on our democratic freedoms has yet to be understood.

# # # #

Fitzgerald & GouldPaul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began their experience in Afghanistan when they were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, Afghanistan Between Three Worlds, for PBS. In 1983 they returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher for ABC Nightline and contributed to the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. They continued to research, write and lecture about the long-term run-up that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. They are featured in an award winning documentary by Samira Goetschel. Titled, Our own Private Bin Laden which traces the creation of the Osama bin Laden mythology in Afghanistan and how that mythology has been used to maintain the “war on terror” approach of the Bush administration. Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story published by City Lights, January 2009 chronicles their three-decade-focus on Afghanistan and the media.

A Christmas Remembrance


By William A. Cook*

"The white civilized man (is) the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth."
(Herman Melville, 1840s)

In 1841, Melville sailed aboard the Acushnet, a whaling vessel, on a three year trip to the South Seas. By July of 1842, Melville and a shipmate, Toby Greene, jumped ship revolting against the tyrannical powers that brutalized the crew by oppressing these men of many races. Having witnessed American warships firing their guns at naked islanders in the Marquesas, Tahiti, and Hawaii and watched "rapacious hordes of enlightened individuals" seizing the "depopulated land" from the natives, reducing them to starving "interlopers" in their own country, he realized that the superior white Christian civilization epitomized absolute savagery and that cannibals treated others with more humanity than these self-identified enlightened men. That understanding of the civilized white man struck me with its absoluteness, its certainty, its expressive force the moment I opened my file of little four year old Kaukab Al Dayah, whose tender face rests on top of the rubble of her home, an unsuspecting victim of white Zionist brutality that delivered her family a missile as a Christmas gift just over a year ago. (See Salaman, "The true Jew is the European Ashkenazi … of whitish appearance," in Sand's The Invention of the Jewish People). (To see the picture of Kaukab Al Dayah, google her name. Two sites have photos: Getty Images and Laweranceofcyberia).

She, too, like the islanders in the South Seas 157 years ago, is a resident of a "depopulated land," or perhaps is an "interloper" that failed to flea when the merciful enlightened hordes shot their warning shots announcing the white man's civilized gesture to those about to be crushed, if they hoped to survive. How considerate. How truly enlightened. How like now in Gaza just a year ago, when Israel, our westernized culture in the Mid-East, the friendly democratic state of Europeanized enlightenment, attempted to crush the defenseless Gazans caught on their own island surrounded by the savage might of this most civilized state. How unfortunate since the intended target was the school next door; an unexplainable mistake since only precision missiles are used, $300,000 dollar weapons to ensure accuracy. "After all we are civilized; we don't permit such pictures to be made public. That's brutal, pornographic; at least blur the face as we do lest our people be shocked, or dismayed that the enemy seems so small, so sweet, so silent, so dead."

I look upon that serene face and see my own daughters asleep in their beds, no more than a yard apart when tucked in, sleeping now after the story's end, eyelids closed, lips parted, faces visible above the blankets as I turned out the lights. I remember because I was restoring a 1750 colonial house at the time and their room had not been touched yet. The heavy thick horse hair plaster was cracked on the ceiling, parts of it hung above the beds waiting the day I would tackle that room. But that night it crashed to the floor with a thunderous roar amid the screaming voices of the girls. How fear rushed to my throat; how relieved to find them untouched but sitting up in fright. How comforting for me to hold them and hug them till they fell asleep again. Remembering this moment, I find no words to express how a mother or a father or a grandmother or aunt or sister or brother would feel upon seeing the innocent face of little Kaukab shrouded in this pall of dirt and stone.

What horror strikes the soul to see that face encased in death, the weight of that shroud pressing around her tiny body, the cement wall rising beside her like the vault's side that receives the coffin, but there is no coffin. This is unnatural death. This is civilized death, the death of the innocent whose life was yet to be lived, whose eyes, shut now, will see no more the rising sun, whose hair, all matted now, will never flow in the warmth of the breeze, whose voice, silenced now, will never sing again. This is now the cold body of an unknown girl, unknown to the pilot of the F-16 that fired the missile, indeed, unconsidered by him lost as he is in his indifference to those he cannot see or hear or touch. How like Kaukab perhaps is that pilot's daughter. Was he happy, perhaps, upon his return home after his days work to lift his daughter's face to his lips before sitting down to dinner?

But he need not worry after all, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira has already absolved him of any guilt with the recent publication of his book, The King's Torah, a best seller in Israel, but un-reviewed in America, not by the enlightened New York Times or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. The good Rabbi writes "even babies and children can be killed if they pose a threat to the nation" (Haaretz 12/15/09). Many other Rabbis joined with Shapira in his call to kill Gentiles while absolving the soldier or citizen of Israel from guilt before the crime is committed. During Israel's Gaza New Year celebration last year, euphemistically dubbed Cast Lead, Rabbi Mordechai Elyahu, one of the leading Rabbis in Israel, "urged the army not to refrain from killing enemy children in order to save lives of Israel's soldiers" (EU Times, 11/11/09). After all, Christian morals are not binding on Jews. Certainly the civilized world can understand these perspectives since the ultra-orthodox Rabbis have only exonerated God's chosen from the guilt that attends Gentiles should they be so rash as to kill a Jew. Funny how we condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization and justify the carnage that took the life of little Kaukab Al Dayah. No doubt the F-16 pilot feared for his life if he did not destroy her before she got old enough to commit some yet to be determined evil against the IDF forces.

I think as I look upon this young girl's face of the mother who bore her, cherished her, dreamed for her; I think about her father who never thought that his daughter would find her grave in the ruins of her room as she slept; I think about her sisters and brothers who played with her just the evening before never imagining that her life would end in such suffering and pain; I think of her as a reflection of all who died in this wasted war that accomplished nothing but horrific pain for the Palestinian and provided only a junky's moment of ecstasy for Olmert, Barak, and Livni, as they sunk needles into their arms, feeling nothing but self-gratification, a sickness of the mind and spirit, a high that knows nothing of others, nothing of love or gratitude or peace, the ecstasy of nirvana that unites all in the human embrace.

As the year ends that opened with Israel's invasion of a people locked behind walls with no place to go, an invasion by the world's fourth largest military according to Israeli estimates, an invasion against a people that have no military, an invasion of a small speck of land that is home to 1.5 million people, an invasion that capped two years of siege by this same military that destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza, preventing food and medicine and oil and gas and water from entering Gaza, an invasion that was as merciless as that of any ferocious animal killing its prey, but here the prey is not one but 1400 with upwards of 5000 wounded and maimed, an invasion that can only mark the perpetrators as ruthless killers without compassion or conscience, a robotic mass that has lost all sense of humane sensitivity, a people that should be and must be isolated from the law abiding nations of the world.

Perhaps, if there is a God of mercy, He has left this image as a token of His love for those who died in this carnage, and a token of His compassion for those who inflicted it that they might learn. It is after all a mirror that both must look into, a symbolic image of life and death. For the Palestinian, it mirrors what life should be for little Kaukab and all children: the joy that should have been; the love showered upon her, lost forever; the home filled with laughter and hope and dreams and warmth and security, blasted now; the neighbors and friends and family, tightly knit in love and kinship, shattered now as this home is shattered. An image of what must be, for friend and foe alike, if this life of hope has meaning and promise.

For the Israeli, it mirrors what this state has become and what the future of the Jews might be under the pathological sickness imposed on them by the Zionists. What minister of God could conceive the slaughter of children and justify it unless he was mired in myth as recorded in Biblical lore. There we read of the Scourge inflicted by G-d on the first born of all who lived in Egypt on behalf of the Jews. There we read of Herod's slaughter of the innocents that first Christmas lest his throne be threatened by the Christ child. Why do such tales exist? They exist to give license to those who would inflict their will on those they fear; they are stories of minds distorted by self-indulgence, arrogance and pride; they impose what they will to ensure their power not through rational deliberation but through deceit, coercion and fear.

That child mirrors for the Zionist the perceived enemy next door grown into adulthood, the fear of what might be; the twisted steel bars rising from the rubble reflect the prison built around those who have been excluded from privilege; the crushed cement strewn on the ground beneath the grey walls reminds the Israeli of the Wall of Fear they have built around the Palestinians, a fear resident deep in the psyche of the Zionist, as all embracing as the rubble that encases little Al Dayah, a fear that those different from them might walk their streets and shop in their stores reminding them that the world is full of people to fear, people that must be controlled and isolated; and in that image they see themselves, the consequence of the corrosive acid that is destroying their faith that once stood for compassion and love seen in the sorrowful face of this innocent girl, the realization that they have destroyed their neighbors, those closest in blood and place to their lives, and in the reaction from people around the world to this unwarranted slaughter, they understand they have built their own ghetto wall around an enclave that exudes violence, vengeance, retaliation, and death to those who do not capitulate to their wants; they have in fact created what their fear predicted, a complete isolation from the civilized world.

What more can be said? Melville saw the cannibals as more civilized than the white Christians that ripped apart the indigenous people of the islands, denying that they had rights, and with impunity destroyed their cultures. It's not only the Christians now, the evangelical end timer Christians; it's the white Ashkenazi of Europe that act now with impunity, the enlightened offspring of the Eurocentric mind that believes in their own superiority fostered by their own myths, supported by the Congress of the United States, as they ravage the defenseless people of Palestine.

Let us all ask of the Child of Bethlehem that He offer this world once again the Beatitudes:

For little Kaukab, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;

For her parents, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God;

For the perpetrators of this havoc, Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

* William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of The Rape Of Palestine: Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy and The Chronicles Of Nefaria. He can be reached at: wcook@laverne.edu.

Is Israel a State or An Organ Harvesting Mafia?

By Kawther Salam

After Israel conceded to committing the crime of theft of human organs in a program
which was aired on Israeli TV Channel 2, will the Abu Kabir butchery, the so-called “Autopsy Institute of Forensic Medicine” in Israel, be now named a strategic base for the harvesting of human beings?

How does the world look at the consequences of the organized Israeli organ theft practiced at Abu Kabir hospital? Which are the legal procedures that can be taken against the perpetrators, often IDF officers?

Did Israel send their organ mafia to serve as IDF officers in the West Bank so that they could select and hunt Palestinian victims who had traits (and organs) corresponding to specific criteria, like the color of her skin, eyes and …?

This would help to explain many seemingly random murders by the IDF, of children, of people going about their business, people who often had no role in resistance and who were not involved in political activity of any kind.

How many innocent Palestinian were murdered by the IDF organ mafia? Were they executed for the theft of their organs, in order to make millions of gains for the IDF?

The answers to these questions will be more objective after reading the report translated from Arabic newspapers into English. The Arabic report includes excerpts of what was mentioned in the report of Channel 2 aired on December 19 2009 in Israel.

Sunday Dec 20 2009, Tel Aviv, The Israeli television Channel 2 reported that the organs of the dead Palestinians were stolen in hospitals. The TV report stated that many corneas and bones – long bones – and the skin from the back, were extracted from the bodies of Palestinians, without the consent of their families.

Despite the denials of the doctors who work in the autopsy institute stealing organs, the Israeli television showed a tape of length of 57 minutes which was filmed in the Institute by “Judea Hiss” (Yehuda Hiss), the director of Abu Kabir Institute, who served as an official medical autopsy and judiciary in Israel. Yehuda Hiss released the video which shows how doctors were extracting the organs of the dead, and what was happening in the dark rooms of the Institute of Autopsy.

According to what was seen in the film, since the early eighties until the end of 2000, while Hiss was in charge of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, everything was happening under the authority of Hiss and signed under his name. The organs of Palestinians and other dead people were taken and implanted in the bodies of Jewish patients.

The video showed how Dr. Hiss did not hesitate to tell to the doctors working with him to “Take from the dead very quickly! Take corneas and implant them into the patients in need”. The video also showed how Dr. Hiss was himself extracting organs from cadavers.
Hiss was heard in the video saying: “We were taking the corneas without taking out the eyes, and then we covered the place of the cornea and closed the eye. We did that as scientific research.”

According to the Law of autopsy in Israel, the extraction of organs from cadavers without the consent of the families of the dead is forbidden, but Dr. Yehuda Hiss was not taking the law into his consideration.

Hiss said in the film: “We gave these organs to the hospitals in Israel, particularly the Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv. Because the doctors there were my friends, we did not take money in exchange for that, but the hospital gave us a microscope after 4 years. We also provided organs to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, who also gave us a video camera for the internal organs of the body in return for the organs which we gave to them.”

According to the Israeli television report, Abu Kabir doctors were doing that without the knowledge of the families of the deceased. According to the statement of a professor at the Institute “we were extracting the long bones of the dead, and sometimes we took parts of their heart.”

And to return to what was exposed in the TV film, the skin of the back was taken from the dead as well the cornea, as a treatment for wounded Israel soldiers.

According to Avi Itrg “We were taking the skin off the back of the deceased and this was not discovered by their families because they were not turning the body during the burial, and they did not know that we got the skin from the back of their dead relatives.”

In 1986, Israel set up the skin bank. The bank suffered from a lack of the skin, but the Abu Kabir autopsy institute provided the bank with the skin for wounded Israeli soldiers and citizens who suffered burns.”

According to the video tape, Arieh Eldad, a squatter in Kfar Adumim, who is a medical doctor specializing in plastic surgery and was the chief medical officer of the IDF from 1997-2000, and who is a member of the Knesset for the National Union, said “We had orders not to take the consent of the families while taking the organs of the dead”.

Arieh Eldad was born in Tel Aviv in 1950, His father, Israel Eldad was one of the leaders of the underground group in Lohamei Herut Yisrael or Lehi. He is a squatter in the West Bank settlement of Kfar Adumim. From 1997-2000 Eldad served as chief medical officer in the IDF with a rank of brigadier general. From 2000-2003, after leaving active military service, Eldad served as director of the plastic surgery unit at the Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hosptial in Jerusalem.

The Israeli television stated that the complaints started in the nineties by members of the families whose deceased relatives organs were stolen. Dr. Hiss, who denied that the organ theft had happened, did not know before denying that the video, which he recorded while stealing the organs, would find its way to the press.

Yehuda Hiss said that the Israeli army was sending them an expert in cosmetic plastic surgery (he meant by indirect way Dr. Arieh Eldad), and they were allowing them to be interns at the Abu Kabir autopsy institute. “These doctors were grabbing the skin from the dead for transplants into the bodies of wounded soldiers.”

A father of an Israeli officers who was killed, said during the Israeli television report that he was surprised when he opened the coffin of his son, and he saw how the doctors played with the body his son: they cut his neck, and pulled his eyes, even though he warned them not to touch the body of his son.

An expert from the University of Brooklyn said: “I heard about the subject of stealing the organs, and when I checked I found that Israel removed organs from Palestinians, and implanted them into the bodies of Israeli soldiers.” She strongly condemned the theft of the Palestinians organs, and she wondered how somebody can grab the organs from the body of the enemy and implant them into the bodies of his own soldiers, without the knowledge of their families. This is immoral behavior.”

For its part, the Israeli health ministry responded to the film which the Israeli TV showed by saying: “All what happened was in accordance with the law.”

The criminal IDF spokesman refused to give a comment on the film, and he asked to change the debate on the subject.

The Israeli hospitals have commented on the issue by saying “this topic is an old one and there is no reason to talk about it now again.”

Dr. Ahmed Al-Tibi, deputy of Knesset chairman, head of Arab Bloc for change, confirmed that the Abu Kabir institute grabbed skin patches and corneas from the bodies of Palestinians for Israeli soldiers in the 1990 years, and pointed out that the second channel of Israeli television presented a report and audio recordings of the director of the Forensics Institute at Abu Kabir with the facts which had not been published in the past.

These facts confirm that organs from all the bodies which were brought to the Institute in the nineties were stolen without the consent of the family, whether they belonged to a Jew or to a Palestinian. Al-Tibi added that skin patches were taken into the skin bank of the hospital and transferred to the soldiers who were subjected to injuries or burns, and also that corneas also taken from the eyes of the deceased.

The responsible for the theft project is the former IDF officer Arieh Eldad, who is today a member of the Israeli Knesset.

British professor Nancy Schaefer Dios, who met the director of Abu Kabir 10 years ago and recorded a talk with him about these facts, said: “It is true that corneas and skin were taken from the bodies of Palestinians and Israelis, but taking the skin from the Palestinian bodies to transfer it to the enemy soldiers, this is moral decline.”

She added: “you can take skin from the Israelis to Israelis, but with the consent of the family, but how is taking organs from Palestinians for the benefit of Israeli soldiers understandable?"

The Israeli military has admitted harvesting organs from dead Palestinians

Dr. Jehuda Hiss
The Israeli military has admitted harvesting organs from dead Palestinians after an interview conducted over the issue in 2000 was broadcast again.

Over the weekend, Israel's Channel 2 TV broadcast an interview conducted in 2000 with the then-head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr. Jehuda Hiss who revealed that forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinian corpses in the 1990s, the Associated Press reported.

"We started to harvest corneas ... Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family," said the doctor.

According to the report, the forensic specialists harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without seeking permission from relatives.

Hiss also described how his doctors would cover up the removal of corneas from bodies.

"We'd glue the eyelid shut," he said, adding that "We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids."

In response to the broadcast, the Israeli military confirmed the report in a statement but said, "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer."

The report was released after an article by Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom, accusing Israel of killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs, caused a huge controversy.

The article, entitled They plunder the organs of our sons, published by the Swedish daily Aftonbladet, sparked outrage among Israeli officials, who called it "groundless," "outrageous" and "anti-Semitic."

Bostrom, however, said the purpose of his opinion article was to call for an investigation into numerous claims in the 1990s that such activity was going on.

Israel Admits Stealing Palestinian Organs

"If such is what they are willing to admit, imagine how much they are concealing," Knesset member Teibi told IOL.

By Khalid Amayreh* | Sabbah Report | www.sabbah.biz

israel-Stealing-Palestinian-OrgansOCCUPIED JERUSALEM — For the first time, Israel has tacitly admitted stealing Palestinian body parts for transplant in Jewish patients, vindicating accusations leveled by Palestinians and rights groups over the past years.

"We started to harvest corneas…whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family," pathologist Yehuda Hiss, the former head of the Abu Akbar Center, also known as the L. Greenberg Institute for Forensic Medicine, told Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, now a professor of Anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, in a documentary aired by the Israeli Channel Two.

The documentary revealed that in the 1990s, forensic specialists harvested corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

Hiss said his doctors often sought to mask the removal of corneas from bodies.

"We'd glue the eyelid shut. We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids."

Other body parts believed to have been harvested from deceased Palestinians and others included heart arteries, bones and corneal tissues.

"The skins were taken from the bodies and transmitted to Hadasah hospital in West Jerusalem on the request of the Israeli army to be transplanted to wounded soldiers and in case of disaster," said Hiss.

Hiss revealed that in the early 1990s, military surgeons began removing a thin layer of skin from bodies to treat burn victims, which he said was done without family consent.

Hughes reportedly decided to publish the interview, recorded in 2000 as part of her studies at the Israeli forensic institute, after a leading Swedish daily reported in August that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians to trade in their organs.

A Swedish journalist revealed earlier this year that Israeli doctors at the Abu Akbar forensic institute had been harvesting organs from Palestinians killed by the Israeli army.

The Aftonbladet report, written by Donald Bostrom, cited an incident of Palestinian organ harvesting by Israel in 1992 during the first Intifada.


Ahmed Teibi, a member of the Israeli Knesset and head of the Arab nationalist Party, insists that the new evidence incriminates the Israeli army and government.

"If such is what they are willing to admit, imagine how much they are concealing," he told IslamOnline.net.

Teibi says the revelations amounted to irrefutable evidence proving that Israeli doctors at the Abu Akbar institute harvested appendages and corneas from bodies of slain Palestinians in the 1990s.

He says the latest revelations underscored the "inherent racism plaguing the Israeli Jewish society."

Teibi was the first to raise questions about the issue of Palestinian organ harvesting by Israeli doctors.

In January, 2002, then Israeli Health Minister Nessim Dahan said in response to a question by Teibi that he couldn't deny or confirm that organs of Palestinian youths and children killed by the Israeli army were taken out for transplants or scientific research.

"I couldn't say for sure that something like that didn't happen."

At that time, Teibi said he had received credible evidence proving that Israeli doctors at the forensic institute of Abu Akbar extracted such vital organs as the heart, kidneys and liver from the bodies of Palestinian youth and children killed by the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Israeli military confirmed to the Channel Two documentary that the practice of harvest Palestinian organs took place in the 1990ss.

"This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer."

Palestinians, however, insist that the Israeli army continued to harvest Palestinian organs for transplant or for sale in the black market.

Earlier this year, relatives of several Palestinians killed by the Israeli army during Al-Aqsa uprising told IOL that their beloved ones were returned to them shortly after they were killed without their vital organs and with a huge cut from the stomach to the neck stitched up.

* Khalid Amayreh a journalist based in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983.

Israel has admitted to harvesting Palestinian organs…

GOD Promised Me Your Land, Your Corneas, and Your Bones


The cat is finally out of the bag and now Israel has admitted to harvesting Palestinian organs…when Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper featured an opinion piece by freelance journalist Donald Bostrom about the same subject four months earlier, the Israelis went ballistic and reached into their “name-calling” drawers and surprise…surprise, they called Sweden anti-sematic. The story reports that in the 90s, the Israeli hospitals used Palestinians among others as essentially body parts for their fallen soldiers.

The harvesting issue came to light again when an interview with the former head of Israel’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr. Jehuda Hiss was made public. While the reporting is new, the interview itself was recorded in 2000 by an American scholar, who released it because of a big controversy that came to light last August over the allegation by the Swedish newspaper that accused Israel of killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs. Israel aggressively denied the charge. While the Israeli might have not in purpose killed Palestinians for the sake of harvesting their body organs, the Israeli army and settlers however seldom need a reason to kill a Palestinian. In the broadcasted interview, Hiss can be heard saying, “We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

The report on Channel 2 reported that in the 90s, forensic specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of fallen Palestinians, foreign workers and Israeli citizens. In the same interview, Hiss described how his medical team would cover their track in the events of a removal of corneas from bodies. “We’d glue the eyelid shut,” he said. “We wouldn’t take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids.”

Those frightening accounts make think of Israeli hospitals less of a place for treatment and more of a butcher shop. I know many Palestinians have benefited from medical care in Israeli hospitals including close relatives of mine. But this creepy report makes me question the ethics of those Israeli doctors who found no wrong in harvesting the body organs of Palestinians to batch up Israeli soldiers and not have the common courtesy of contacting the relatives.

This is not a verdict on the virtue of organ donors, there are many Palestinians who gladly donate organs to save lives—look up the story of Ahmad El-Khateeb, the Palestinian boy from Jenin refugee camp who was assassinated in November 2005 by the Israeli military for playing with a toy gun; his family willingly donated his organs to save the lives of five Israeli children who needed organs that Ahmad’s little dead body provided. The difference of course is choice! While Ahmad’s family had no choice in the death of their son, they did have a choice to save other lives. I find myself echo what Knesset Member Ahmad Tebi said about this matter “If such is what they are willing to admit, imagine how much they are concealing,”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Sorry Episode in American History: Agent Orange

Cycles of atrocities, Cycles of Shame & Regret, and Cycles of more atrocities…

This recent article by Time Magazine on Agent Orange in Vietnam opened up a floodgate of emotions I had thought I had gotten over with a year ago, after my own personal first-hand experiences there. The article was fairly well-written, that is, considering the publication. Here are some excerpts:

This lonely section of the abandoned Danang air base was once crawling with U.S. airmen and machines. It was here where giant orange drums were stored and the herbicides they contained were mixed and loaded onto waiting planes. Whatever sloshed out soaked into the soil and eventually seeped into the water supply. Thirty years later, the rare visitor to the former U.S. air base is provided with rubber boots and protective clothing. Residue from Agent Orange, which was sprayed to deny enemy troops jungle cover, remains so toxic that this patch of land is considered one of the most contaminated pieces of real estate in the country. A recent study indicates that even three decades after the war ended, the cancer-causing dioxins are at levels 300 to 400 times higher than what is deemed to be safe.

After years of meetings, signings and photo ops, the U.S. held another ceremony in Vietnam on Dec. 16 to sign yet another memorandum of understanding as part of the continuing effort to manage Agent Orange’s dark legacy. Yet there are grumblings that little — if anything — has been done to clean up the most contaminated sites. Since 2007, Congress has allocated a total of $6 million to help address Agent Orange issues in Vietnam. Not only does the amount not begin to scratch the surface of the problem or get rid of the tons of toxic soil around the nation, but there are questions about how the money is being spent.

Groups caring for children born with horrific deformities from Agent Orange — such as malformed limbs and no eyes — are wondering why they haven’t seen any of that money. Bedridden and unable to feed themselves, many patients need round-the-clock care. As they age, and parents die, who is going to look after them? asks Nguyen Thi Hien, director of the Danang Association of Victims of Agent Orange.

You can read the entire article here.

I spent the better part of the year 2008 in Vietnam. I traveled around the country, and was involved in interviewing and recording various children related charities and organizations there. While in the Da Nang area I had an opportunity to visit and interview a family who were victims of Agent Orange – bed-ridden twin men of age 28 and their parents.

The family lived in a village, in a shack, 3.5 miles from the nearest road. I had to walk the entire distance on a very hot and humid day, pass through many rice paddies, and after being chased by an angry water buffalo, I finally made it.

The following 5-minute video includes one of the interview segments I conducted with the parents, and brief footage of the twin’s horrendous condition. Before you watch the video:

  • The footage of the Agent Orange victims is very graphic and may be disturbing to some.

  • I apologize for the quality of the video: I had to conduct the interview through my translator and overcome my own shock and emotional response, while recording the victims.

Here is my video, recorded in March 2008, near Da Nang, Vietnam:

I want to emphasize these facts from the Time Magazine article:

The U.S. government still spends billions every year on disability payments to those who served in Vietnam — including their children, many of whom are suffering from dioxin-associated cancers and birth defects. Since 2007, Congress has allocated a total of $6 million to help address Agent Orange issues in Vietnam.


Some point out that the U.S. spends only a fraction on Agent Orange cleanup compared to the $50 million it spends every year on searching for the remains of American soldiers missing in action.

And I want to add a few other comparison points:

We spend billions per week on undeclared wars to injure, kill, and destroy. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on fraudulent and wasteful defense contracts. We spend billions on drones and bombs which kill 687 civilians per 14 enemy targets, amounting to a ratio of nearly 50 civilians killed for each undeclared enemy killed…

And when it comes to cleaning up this huge mess we left behind in Vietnam, when it comes to a certain degree of reparation expected from a superpower nation with even a minute amount of moral decency, when it comes to…we go on denying responsibility, arguing irrational technicalities, and do nothing, absolute zilch.

President Gerald Ford had the following to say on February 19, 1976, on the anniversary of the Japanese Internment:

I call upon the American people to affirm with me the unhyphenated American promise that we have learned from the tragedy of that long ago experience-forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American and resolve that this kind of error shall never be made again.

Okay, for this post I am not going to dwell upon President Ford’s consciously chosen words to emphasize our responsibility to treasure liberty and justice only for individual Americans, and not for all humanity (Still- I’m grinding my teeth, and holding my tongue). Now, here is my question:

What is it with all these past lessons of tragedies we later come to admit to and regret?! Because we keep doing the same thing over and over again. Because we seem to always turn around afterwards and start the next vicious cycle again. And it seems we have been making the vicious cycles longer and crueler each time: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, Extraordinary Renditions …

Perhaps a president or two later, we’ll be hearing regrets along the same lines on all the atrocious acts we’ve been engaged in since 2001, in the name of a war on terror, in the name of national security. Perhaps, we’ll be taking a solemn oath or two to not repeat the same atrocious acts. Perhaps we’ll have a law or two written to emphasize and engrave our regrets and commitment to never do the same again… And then, perhaps, there will come another pretext, or something declared and used as pretext, and we’ll go about forgetting all past regrets, declare our previous oaths nullified, and have the previous laws replaced with the opposite of the original and name them ‘patriotic,’ and …there we’ll go repeating history, only making each cycle bigger and worse than the one before.

Am I just being cynical here? I don’t think so. But, what do you think?

The US Currently Has 189,000 Personnel in Afghanistan - INCLUDING MERCENARIES

Stunning Statistics About the War That Everyone Should Know


A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Contract Oversight Subcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it. Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense’s total workforce, “the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history.” That’s not in one war zone—that’s the Pentagon in its entirety.

In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo[PDF] released by McCaskill’s staff,

“From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000.”

At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that’s right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan.

The US has spent more than $23 billion on contracts in Afghanistan since 2002. By next year, the number of contractors will have doubled since 2008 when taxpayers funded over $8 billion in Afghanistan-related contracts.

Despite the massive number of contracts and contractors in Afghanistan, oversight is utterly lacking. “The increase in Afghanistan contracts has not seen a corresponding increase in contract management and oversight,” according to McCaskill’s briefing paper. “In May 2009, DCMA [Defense Contract Management Agency] Director Charlie Williams told the Commission on Wartime Contracting that as many as 362 positions for Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs) in Afghanistan were currently vacant.”

A former USAID official, Michael Walsh, the former director of USAID’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance and Chief Acquisition Officer, told the Commission that many USAID staff are “administering huge awards with limited knowledge of or experience with the rules and regulations.” According to one USAID official, the agency is “sending too much money, too fast with too few people looking over how it is spent.” As a result, the agency does not “know … where the money is going.”

The Obama administration is continuing the Bush-era policy of hiring contractors to oversee contractors. According to the McCaskill memo:

In Afghanistan, USAID is relying on contractors to provide oversight of its large reconstruction and development projects. According to information provided to the Subcommittee, International Relief and Development (IRD) was awarded a five-year contract in 2006 to oversee the $1.4 billion infrastructure contract awarded to a joint venture of the Louis Berger Group and Black and Veatch Special Projects. USAID has also awarded a contract Checci and Company to provide support for contracts in Afghanistan.

The private security industry and the US government have pointed to the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker(SPOT) as evidence of greater government oversight of contractor activities. But McCaskill’s subcommittee found that system utterly lacking, stating: “The Subcommittee obtained current SPOT data showing that there are currently 1,123 State Department contractors and no USAID contractors working in Afghanistan.” Remember, there are officially 14,000 USAID contractors and the official monitoring and tracking system found none of these people and less than half of the State Department contractors.

As for waste and abuse, the subcommittee says that the Defense Contract Audit Agency identified more than $950 million in questioned and unsupported costs submitted by Defense Department contracts for work in Afghanistan. That’s 16% of the total contract dollars reviewed.

Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.His new website is RebelReports.com

Wars to Come by Mumia Abu-Jamal

For many, the Obama candidacy represented a change so profound that they thought (or perhaps more accurately, hoped), that an Obama presidency would not only mean a deep domestic social transformation, but an end to the American cycle of war.

To them the news of an upsurge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan means those hopes were dashed.

They will not be the last ones.

For among those many are those who never regarded the U.S. as an empire, and thus were woefully unprepared for the hunger of any president for more executive power, or the necessities of any empire to expand rather than simply cede power.

Many of the most vociferous critics of the expansive powers of the Bush administration -- of his wiretaps, his secret prisons, of his penchant for total surveillance over Americans at home or abroad -- are strikingly silent now, when under Obama, these same powers reside in the executive.

Secret prisons? Yes - still there; illegal renditions ? Still there: Wire taps of Americans without court order? Yup.

Indeed, little has changed but the public tone of debate. There's little bombast, a good deal less bluster, and a whole lot less fear-talk, but the same programs are running -- full speed ahead.

And there's still wars -- begun in deception and greed; continued because of simple political necessity.

Yet, there's more.

In the next 5 years or so, many of the men who fought in these wars will be back in the States, working as prison guards, cops, security specialists and the like.

Many will be bitter as vinegar, as angry as a hornet's nest, because they'll know, as previous generations of veterans learned, that they fought, not for the people -- not even for the constitution -- but for the wealthy rulers who could not care less about their lives or their loss.

What will this mean for U.S. society? How will it impact the future?

Almost 90 years ago, at the end of World War I, soldiers, bitter at the loss of the war, and humiliated by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, became a right wing political force that would years later re-emerge as the Nazis--which tore through Europe with a vengeance.

That is to say, wars don't necessarily end when politicians or diplomats shake hands and sign treaties. They fester and feed off of unresolved issues and re-emerge -- sometimes worse than before.

And they sometimes return to the land that birthed them.

Obama's Bioweapons Program

The Obama administration's recent declaration on bioweapons would simply be another run-of-the-mill example of our "change" president's duplicity were it not such an unmitigated disaster.

Recapitulating sinister Cold War practices that informed American ruling class consensus when it came to secretly toying with nature's most deadly pathogens, (a) because they could, (b) because it was, and is, highly profitable and (c) because they got with it, the profound failure by the administration to rein-in out-of-control corporate grifters, militarists and scientists thirsting after an endless flow of taxpayer dollars, have put us all on a potential glide path towards the abyss.

Since the roll-out of the Obama product-line January 21, on issues ranging from war and peace to economic justice and from civil liberties to healthcare, the "change" team exhibit the same callous disregard for disarmament proposals that characterized their Bushist predecessors in the Oval Office.

Nowhere is this reality so transparently delineated than by the administration's continuing efforts to derail plans to revitalize the moribund Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), rejecting binding verification protocols that would finally give the 1972 treaty teeth.

"Strengthening" the BWC: Killing it with Kindness

From her perch as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, a former Democratic congresswoman from the San Francisco Bay Area (in other words, a feckless "liberal" who spent her career paying lip-service to the antiwar sentiments of her constituents--and then voting in favor of every blood-soaked imperialist adventure undertaken by the Bush regime) rejected international monitoring of military and pharmaceutical sites that might employ research for illicit purposes, e.g., the fabrication of banned biological weapons.

"The Obama administration will not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the convention," Tauscher told delegates December 9 at the annual meeting of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva.

The position outlined last week by the administration eerily follows in the footsteps of the previous government. In 2001, there was broad support internationally for revitalizing the BWC draft Protocol; a long, circuitous process undertaken back in 1991.

But during these earlier negotiations, the U.S. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released a position paper opposing the routine inspection of laboratories and other research facilities on the grounds of safeguarding "confidential business information," a position they have reiterated today.

This, along with U.S. Defense Department opposition killed the deal after the American delegation, under instructions from arch neocon John Bolton who then held Tauscher's brief, argued that an international inspections regime would put U.S. "national security" at "risk" by allowing spot checks of suspected U.S. weapons sites.

Revealing a warmer and fuzzier, though no less obstructionist side than blustery Bolton, the Undersecretary mounted a charm offensive in Geneva, touting the National Security Council's (NSC) "National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats" as a major transformation of the U.S. position. It wasn't. Tauscher told delegates: "The United States intends to implement this [NSC] strategy through renewed cooperation and more thorough consultations with our international counterparts in order to prevent the misuse and abuse of science while working together to strengthen health security around the world."

However, not a single word in the 23-page NSC document addresses the vital issue of verification. Indeed, while no-holds-barred inspections of nuclear weapons' facilities undergird international treaties governing the destruction of warheads and missiles, thus ensuring compliance with treaty obligations by states, when it comes to biological weapons the "National Strategy" skirts the question entirely. Why?

While the United States claims that it will "advance policies and practices that establish and reinforce norms against the misuse of the knowledge and capabilities that arise from the life sciences while encouraging their free and open availability for peaceful and beneficial use," a call to "develop and employ complementary and multi-layered systems for influencing, identifying, inhibiting, and interdicting biological threats" does nothing to constrain state or corporate actors from exploiting the life sciences for nefarious ends, to wit, work with dual use select agents that can be diverted into surreptitious weapons' programs.

This is crucial. While the document asserts that America's "relationships with the United Nations, international organizations, foreign governments, and the private sector are critical to the success of our efforts" the fact is, the "private sector" and the secret state's own Defense Department are dead-set against any initiative that give international arms' control monitors access to their facilities.

Claiming that the United States "has carefully reviewed previous efforts to develop a verification protocol," the administration has "determined that a legally binding protocol would not achieve meaningful verification or greater security."

Echoing Tauscher and the NSC's lame reasoning, Barry Kellman, president of the International Security and Biopolicy Institute told The Hill he "agreed," and told the publication "that given the rapid evolution of the biological market, technologies that once could only be made in a laboratory can now be made anywhere, so it would be impossible to verify that a country is holding true to the convention protocols."

Really? Perhaps then, Mr. Kellman would care to enlighten us as to which select agent was used in the first and to date, only, bioterrorist attack of the 21st century, and where pray tell it might have come from.

Editing Out the Secret State: The 2001 Anthrax Attacks

As has generally been accepted by scientific experts and as The Baltimore Sun revealed back in 2001, "for nearly a decade, U.S. Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the [October 2001] mail attacks."

Investigative journalist Scott Shane disclosed that Dugway's Life Sciences Division "made hundreds of kilograms of anthrax for bombs designed to kill enemy troops over hundreds of square miles" during the Cold War.

Indeed, the "extraordinary concentration" of the finely-milled powdered anthrax mailed to the media and members of Congress was "in the range of 1 trillion spores per gram" which "meant that the letter could have contained 200 million times the average dose necessary to kill a person."

Researchers at Northern Arizona University determined that "the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax is indistinguishable from that of the Ames 'reference strain,' which is the strain used most often at Fort Detrick and Dugway, according to a scientist familiar with the genetic work," the Sun reported.

Years later, former Ft. Detrick deputy commander Richard Spertzel told investigative journalists Bob Coen and Eric Nadler that "the material that was in the Daschle/Leahy letter was "1.5 to 3 microns in particle size" and characterized the refinement "as super sophisticated ... phenomenal." When investigators attempted to examine samples under a microscope, "it readily floated off the slides."

In other words, the "genetic fingerprint" and "extraordinary concentration" of the weaponized anthrax used in the attack would require a team of individuals, and not a proverbial "lone nut" to produce a biotoxin possessing such exquisitely lethal characteristics. The inescapable conclusion is that the anthrax used to murder five people, sicken dozens of others and terrorize the rest of us, could only have come from a state program or one operating under contract to a government agency.

Could the deadly biotoxin have been diverted from a U.S. defense facility or corporate lab by a group of "black box" scientists operating under the radar for their own nefarious ends, i.e. strengthening the state's repressive hand within the social-political context of the 9/11 attacks? It is certainly possible and cannot be ruled out.

As I previously reported, Global Security Newswire (GSN) disclosed in June that "a recently completed inventory at a major U.S. Army biodefense facility found nearly 10,000 more vials of potentially lethal pathogens than were known to be stored at the [Ft. Detrick] site."

According to reporter Martin Matishak, the 9,220 samples discovered "included the bacterial agents that cause plague, anthrax and tularemia; Venezuelan, Eastern and Western equine encephalitis viruses; Rift valley fever virus; Junin virus; Ebola virus; and botulinum neurotoxins."

While Ft. Detrick's deputy commander Col. Mark Kortepeter claimed there are "multiple layers of security" and that "a lot of buffers [would] prevent anyone who shouldn't be in the laboratory from getting in in the first place and then preventing them taking something out with them," this dodges the question of whether someone who was authorized to be inside Ft. Detrick or any of the other 400 U.S. facilities that have Biosafety Level-3 or Biosafety Level-4 laboratories, could smuggle out deadly toxic substances.

The New York Times reported December 9, that Tauscher rejects a strict regulatory regimen that would monitor state bioweapons research and development because of the "regulatory burdens that verification would place on the American pharmaceutical industry and on the military's bio-defense research activities."

Given the available facts surrounding the 2001 anthrax terrorist incident and the FBI's subsequent cover-up, Tauscher's fear of "regulatory burdens" on the "pharmaceutical industry" and the state's own "bio-defense research activities" are certainly misplaced and should be viewed with suspicion.

Big Pharma and Congress: Best Friends Forever!

While journalists and researchers have explored ethically-challenged relationships amongst former Defense Department officials and the weapons' industry, most recently by USA Today, and have described the oft-cited revolving door as entrée to an exclusive and highly lucrative good 'ol boys club; call it a Beltway version of a retirement village for Pentagon clock-punchers.

Inquiring minds can't help but wonder: does the same clubby atmosphere pervade, and inform, the policy decisions made by denizens of the Bioweapons-Industrial-Complex? Let's take a look!

Take the Alliance for Biosecurity, a Big Pharma lobby shop aligned with the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), as a starting point. Self-described as "a collaboration among the Center for Biosecurity and 13 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies," one "whose mission is to work in the public interest to improve prevention and treatment of severe infectious diseases--particularly those diseases that present global security challenges," one discovers that similar relationships between academia, industry and government abound.

Since Antifascist Calling first reported on Alliance efforts to increase state funding of biotechnology and "biodefense" research in August, all references to the Alliance for Biosecurity have been scrubbed from UPMC's web site. Indeed, all traces of the lobby shop's activities, including group policy statements and testimony before relevant congressional committees have simply vanished.

But why, pray tell, would they take evasive action in the first place? And more importantly, what do they have to hide? As it turns out, quite a lot.

According to The Washington Times, when the Center for Biosecurity's director, Dr. Tara O'Toole, was nominated for her current post as Undersecretary of Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, she had "served as a key adviser for a lobbying group funded by the pharmaceutical industry that has asked the government to spend more money for anthrax vaccines and biodefense research."

Reporter Tim McElhatton disclosed that O'Toole "never reported her involvement with the lobbying group called the Alliance for Biosecurity in a recent government ethics filing." The Washington Times further reported that the Alliance "has spent more than $500,000 lobbying Congress and federal agencies--including Homeland Security--since 2005, congressional records show."

"In written testimony to Congress" according to McElhatton, "Dr. O'Toole said the alliance was 'created to protect the Center for Biosecurity's status as an honest broker between the biopharma companies and the U.S. government'." As is well known, $500,000 buys much in the way of "honesty" in the halls of Congress!

In an October 31 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "signed by Dr. O'Toole and two other alliance officials, the group called on Congress to include more than $900 million for the 'advanced development of medical countermeasures' to be administered by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority."

The Washington Times revealed that the letter was also "signed by the chief executive officer of member company PharmAthene, David Wright, who was one of the two first co-chairmen for the alliance after its creation in 2005."

McElhatton reported that according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing "Mr. Wright's company has a big financial interest in securing work from the authority," and that "PharmAthene has been trying to win a contract administered by the authority to supply 25 million doses of an anthrax vaccine to the national stockpile."

According to a press release, the firm announced that PharmAthene "will participate in and present data at the HHS Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) workshop and BARDA Industry Day taking place in Washington, DC Dec. 2-4, 2009."

Indeed, the PHEMCE work shop "will bring together public and private sector stakeholders for a dynamic dialogue on the current state of medical countermeasure preparedness, PHEMCE initiatives in the past year, and plans for moving forward to enhance national capabilities to respond to a public health emergency."

When "moving forward" entails the expenditure of nearly one billion dollars for "countermeasure preparedness," one can be sure that companies on the make will be all ears!

Former Bushist Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, averred that the PHEMCE workshop "is very timely given the WMD Commission's conclusion that terrorists are much more likely to attack America with a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon."

Despite the fact that weapons' experts have not reached a consensus on the Commission's alarmist report, given the extreme difficulty faced by "terrorists" to fabricate biotoxins into an effective weapon, Thompson claims, "now that our national experts have made this warning clear, we need to take the immediate steps necessary to protect against potential biological attacks against the U.S. homeland. In particular, we need to move forward efforts to build and stockpile appropriate biological countermeasures, such as next-generation anthrax vaccines, recombinant influenza vaccines, and novel antivirals."

Among the "experts" consulted by the WMD Commission were none other than Dr. O'Toole's Center for Biosecurity who have called for the expenditure of some $3.4 billion annually on "countermeasure development to reach 90 percent chance of success defending the country against bioterrorism threats."

Nowhere however, in the PharmAthene press release is it disclosed that the former HHS Secretary has a proprietary interest in securing federal dollars allegedly to "enhance national capabilities" to better respond "to a public health emergency." Currently, Thompson is the President of Logistics Health, Inc., a firm that does extensive business with the U.S. Department of Defense for what it euphemistically calls "military readiness."

Craig Holman, the legislative director of the watchdog group Public Citizen, said that O'Toole's lack of transparency "definitely and clearly runs counter to the intent of the law."

What was the response by Senate Democrats, quick to denounce the "culture of corruption" of their coconspirators across the aisle? According to The New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "slammed Republicans for slowing down, and in some cases, blocking the confirmation of nominees for various posts in the Obama administration."

Neither Reid, nor for that matter the Times, breathed a word about O'Toole's obvious conflict of interest and cosy relationships with biodefense firms she would presumably oversee from her perch at DHS.

Instead, we are lavished with empty rhetoric from Reid who told the Times: "'For that position, [DHS Undersecretary] President Obama nominated an expert in combating both pandemics and bioterror attacks,' Mr. Reid said, adding: 'Imagine that: Americans are bracing against a flu epidemic here at home and threats of terrorism from abroad, the President nominated someone highly experienced in both of those areas, and Republicans are saying no'."

Despite revelations of serious ethical breaches, O'Toole was confirmed by the Senate November 4.

The Ties that Bind (And Pay Handsomely!)

The close proximity of O'Toole, the Center for Biosecurity and now, the Department of Homeland Security to Alliance members such as Bavarian Nordic; Cangene Corporation; DOR BioPharma, Inc.; DynPort Vaccine Company LLC; Elusys Therapeutics, Inc.; Emergent BioSolutions; Hematech, Inc.; Human Genome Sciences, Inc.; NanoViricides, Inc.; Pfizer Inc.; PharmAthene; Siga Technologies, Inc.; Unither Virology LLC, , as well as associate Alliance member, the spooky, CIA-connected Battelle Memorial Institute, might just help explain the Obama administration's opposition to strengthening the BWC.

According to the Center for Responsive Politic's OpenSecrets.org database, the Alliance for Biosecurity have contributed some $600,000 to congressional grifters since 2005 through the Philadelphia law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath.

While chump change when it comes to assuring that the best congresspeople money can buy stay "on-message," OpenSecrets reports that since 1990, Big Pharma and their allies in the health products industry have spent a whopping $177,030,005 on "influence and lobbying." Breaking down the numbers, the watchdog group avers that the bulk of contributions have benefited Republicans ($111,405,078 or 63%) vs. Democrats ($65,056,643 or 37%).

In The Washington Times piece cited above, ethics groups have said that the Alliance's set-up "is an example of what critics call "stealth lobbying," in which like-minded companies form a loosely knit compact and spend lots of money lobbying the government. The arrangement is legal, but it exposes loopholes that prevent the public from finding out how much money each company pays and whether one business exerts more control over the others."

Alliance legal counsel Anita Cicero told the paper, "the group is complying with all applicable federal laws" and that the group "does not generate income, does not have a bank account and does not owe taxes." She told the paper the organization "was formed so companies, academic institutions and the government" could work together to "accelerate the development of therapeutic and vaccine countermeasures."

"Countermeasures" that markedly add to the corporatist bottom line.

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB), chock-a-block with industry insiders and academic shills, posted an August 11 notice buried in the Federal Register.

Rescued from oblivion by the whistleblowing intelligence and security web site Cryptome, we were informed that NBSB's "Market & Sustainability Work Group" seek to hand over even more cash to industry partners.

Seeking public comment on the group's working document, "Inventory of Issues Constraining or Enabling Industry Involvement in Medical Countermeasure Efforts," NBSB is seeking to further "streamline" the Food and Drug Administration's already lax review process in a move meant to further "incentivize" industry by "increased federal funding for advanced development, in the form of cost-reimbursement contracts and rewarding private-capital investments with milestone payments at procurement."

Under NBSB's proposal, the drug industry stands to grab "reimbursement of development costs + 15%, with return-on-working-capital at 22%, and cost-of-money-for-capital at 15%."

If said corporate patriots swing into action during a national emergency, then "compensation if commercial product(s) during emergencies (e.g., lost sales, market share, delayed licensing" are fully paid by the federal government. Talk about a robust "public-private partnership" in action!

But wait, there's more!

GSN reported in October that Alliance member Human Genome Sciences Inc. had earned $160 million from the federal government for sales of its ABthrax vaccine, despite a Food and Drug Administration report that stated although the product performed better than a placebo (!) "it is still unknown how well these models and results predict efficacy in humans." Despite these equivocal findings, "Washington has placed an order for 65,000 doses of ABthrax for the country's emergency medicines reserve."

Now that's what I call a streamlined review process!

Earlier in October, GSN disclosed that Alliance member Emergent BioSolutions won $4.9 million in funding from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, "for the development of a new anthrax vaccine that could require only two doses to provide protection."

As investigative journalists and filmmakers Bob Coen and Eric Nadler revealed in Anthrax War and a companion book, Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail, Emergent BioSolutions has a very interesting pedigree indeed.

When the State of Michigan auctioned off the Michigan Biological Products Institute (MBPI) in 1998, standing in the wings with a check for $24 million were Lebanese financiers Ibrahim El-Hibri and son Fuad, "an international telecom magnate" according to Coen and Nadler. During this period, the firm the El-Hibri's had founded after scooping-up MBPI for a song, BioPort, "held the exclusive contract to provide the U.S. government with the anthrax vaccine, and that in addition to the physical plant, the Michigan sale included $130 million in contracts with the Department of Defense."

During their investigation, Coen and Nadler learned "that the El-Hibris had participated in the privatization of portions of the United Kingdom's leading biodefense facility, Porton Down, a decade earlier" and that "with the acquisition of the Michigan plant, the family had planted stakes in the only two leading anthrax vaccine producers in the West." What makes this particularly troubling according to Coen and Nadler, is the fact that the "El-Hibri's did not have science backgrounds or biotech business experience before the Porton takeover--but were clearly canny investors."

Alarmingly, "the troubling fact [was] that the sale of MBPI to BioPort had transferred control of a sensitive government program to a network of companies, one of which was headquartered in the Dutch Caribbean."

Indeed, "Fuad El-Hibri himself informed Congress in 1999 that the controlling shareholder in BioPort--Intervac LLC--was partly owned by I and F Holdings NV, a Netherlands Antilles investment company owned by his father."

None of this troubled Congress in the least since, as Coen and Nadler relate "no one on the House Committee on Government Reform asked him if El-Hibri senior had any partners in I and F Holdings." These disturbing facts led the investigative journalists to wonder: "Who actually owned the largest anthrax vaccine manufacturing plant in the West, if not the world? Who really knew."

Fast forward a decade and according to GSN BioPort, now Emergent BioSolutions, "is the producer of BioThrax, the only vaccine licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of anthrax disease. The company is also developing other anthrax treatments and countermeasures against diseases such as botulism and hepatitis B." Funds for developing the vaccine were provided "through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

Last month, GSN revealed that Alliance member, Danish firm Bavarian Nordic will receive some $40 million for a freeze-dried version of the firm's Imvamune vaccine for smallpox. GSN reported that "Bavarian Nordic has received $680 million in contracts for Imvamune from the U.S. government. Washington has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine in its liquid-frozen form and has the option of buying another 60 million," according to a company press release.

This, despite the fact that smallpox has disappeared as an international public health threat. However as the Sunshine Project's Edward Hammond revealed in Emerging Technologies: Genetic Engineering and Biological Weapons, when a U.S. research team at the State University of New York in Stony Brook synthesized poliovirus "from scratch," the responsible bioresearch community were alarmed.

Hammond commented that "the experiment exemplifies possibilities that generate real problems if similar techniques become applicable to agents such as smallpox. Today it is unlikely (though not completely impossible) that countries apart from Russia and the USA have access to smallpox virus. This is the basis of the current threat assessments with regard to smallpox, which rate the likelihood of a smallpox attack very low. Should it become possible in a few years to build smallpox virus in the laboratory, the situation would be turned upside down. The relative security that can be assumed today (at least for most countries in the world) will evaporate."

Since Hammond's piece first appeared in 2003, is it plausible that synthetic smallpox could have been ginned-up in a top secret U.S. research facility, hence contingency planning by secret state officials to have a freeze-dried, hence longer-lived vaccine on hand? We don't know.

Examining only the three above-named firms, OpenSecrets reports that since 2000, Human Genome Sciences has expended some $24 million since 2002 for lobbying; Emergent BioSolutions has spent some $10.9 on lobbying efforts since 2003, and Bavarian Nordic has spent some $21.7 lobbying Congress since 2002.

Given the enormous outlay of taxpayer largesse to firms that have profited handily under the Project BioShield Act of 2004, a grotesque piece of Bushist legislative flotsam, and the nearly $60 billion dollars reported by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation spent on so-called biodefense by the federal government, one can only conclude that lobbying activities by Big Pharma is an investment well-spent!

Keep in mind too, that the expenditure of federal dollars for Project BioShield and related programs do not include black budget allocations concealed by the CIA and Pentagon under a welter of above top secret Special Access Programs, a subject that Antifascist Calling will explore in future reports.


As the Sunshine Project's Edward Hammond has warned: "Rapid developments in biotechnology, genetics and genomics pose a variety of environmental, ethical, political, and social questions. And because they open up tremendous new possibilities for biological warfare, these technological developments have grave implications for peace and security."

We must view the Obama administration's cynical opposition to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention because of the "regulatory burdens that verification would place on the American pharmaceutical industry and on the military's bio-defense research activities" as a dire international public health emergency, one which University of Illinois constitutional law professor Francis Boyle, the author of the 1989 Bioweapons Anti-Terrorism Act, has called "a catastrophe waiting to happen."

We proceed blindly along this path at our own peril.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, Information Clearing House and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.