Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Current News and Analysis

Current News and Analysis

Zionist fabrications, smears intensify ahead of Penn BDS conference

Does this look like “incitement” to you?

By Ali Abunimah | The Electronic Intifada | January 24, 2012
In the run-up to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conference at the University of Pennsylvania in early February, at which I will be spearking, the defamation and fabrication machines of anti-Palestinian groups have gone into over-drive.
In December, StandWithUS attempted to smear me as an “anti-Semite” with fabricated quotes.
And just yesterday, my colleague Ben White was subjected to prominent smears that he is an “anti-Semite” in the Israeli press. That in turn is part of an escalating campaign against human rights and equality champion Haneen Zoabi.

The latest smear against me comes in a column by Emily Schrader in The College Fix which slyly accuses me of “incitement to violence against Israelis.”  … continue

LAPD: Joint Military Drills In Downtown LA Won’t Disrupt Public’s ‘Daily Routines’

Helicopter exercises designed to “prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments”
CBS | January 24, 2012

LOS ANGELES — If you notice a heavy military presence around downtown Los Angeles this week, don’t be alarmed — it’s only a drill.
Joint military training exercises will be held evenings through Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LAPD will be providing support for the exercises, which will also be held in other portions of the greater Los Angeles area, police said. … Full article

Rebellion vs Rebels: ‘Libyans kick NTC out of Bani Walid’

| January 24, 2012

GOP Frontrunner Boasts Israel Support and Netanyahu Ties

By Nathan Guttman and Josh Nathan-KazisThe Forward – issue of December 16, 2011

… Ties between Gingrich and Netanyahu date back to the mid 1990s, when both shared a goal of countering a drive by then-president Bill Clinton to advance the peace process. Netanyahu, as leader of the opposition, maintained close relations with Gingrich and the Republican leadership.
“At the time, Bibi used him [Gingrich] to pressure the president when it came to issues relating to the peace process,” recalled Itamar Rabinovich, Israel’s ambassador to Washington from 1993 to 1996. …
… Gingrich hasn’t cornered the market on right-wing, pro-Israel supporters. Philip Rosen, former national chairman of American Friends of Likud, hosted a $10,000-per-head fundraiser for Romney in September. And Romney’s foreign policy team includes such neoconservative stalwarts as former defense policy advisory board member Eliot Cohen and Dan Senor, former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. … Read full article
Also read the Forward’s coverage of Gingrich’s vow to support Israel more strongly

New Sabra hummus ad uses images of Arabs, Africans to cover up Israel army connection

By Ali Abunimah | The Electronic Intifada | January 24, 2012
The Strauss Group, the company that openly supports the Israeli army and makes Sabra brand hummus, is trying a new advertising strategy to hide its Israeli connections and combat a growing boycott movement.
It is to depict Arabs and Muslims in its ads as a form of cover. Should we call this “Arabwashing?” … continue

Veolia must stop assisting the occupier and leave Jerusalem, says Hamas spokesperson

By Adri Nieuwhof | The Electronic Intifada | January 24, 2012
On his visit to Switzerland, Hamas spokesperson Mushir al-Masri unequivocally condemned the Jerusalem Light Rail project. French companies Veolia and Alstom should stop assisting the occupier and leave Jerusalem, he said.
Al-Masri headed a delegation of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva. The Electronic Intifada reported on the first official visit of Hamas members to a European country since the 2006 PLC elections. I interviewed Al-Masri on Thursday, 19 January, about his views on the Israeli Jerusalem Light Rail project.

The first line of the light rail connects West Jerusalem with the illegal settlements of Pisgat Ze’ev and French Hill in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and the annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. This status has been confirmed repeatedly by numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank. … continue

Israeli forces seize MP in Ramallah

Ma’an – 24/01/2012
RAMALLAH – Israeli forces detained Palestinian lawmaker Abul Jabbar Fuqaha from his Ramallah home on Tuesday morning, the fourth MP from a Hamas-affiliated party seized by Israel in five days.
Early Tuesday, Israeli soldiers ransacked Fuqaha’s home in the Al-Maysoun neighborhood of West Bank city Ramallah, before detaining the lawmaker.

Fuqaha, 43, was released from Israeli jail in February 2011 after serving two years administrative detention without charge. [...]
There are now 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council detained in Israeli jails, according to prisoners rights group Addameer. – Full article

Speaker Of Palestine Parliament Receives Six Months Administrative Detention

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | January 24, 2012

The Israeli Military Court at the Ofer Israeli prison, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, decided to imprison the elected head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Dr. Aziz Dweik, to six months administrative detention.
On Sunday, a court was held to look into the possibility of placing him under administrative detention, without any charges officially filed against him.
Both Dr. Dweik and legislator Khaled Tafesh, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, were taken prisoner on Friday.
Representing Dr. Dweik, Lawyer Fadi Al-Qawasmi stated that the court issued the administrative detention order despite the fact that no charges were brought against his client. … Full article

Israeli warplanes blast targets in southern, northern Gaza

Palestine Information Center – 24/01/2012

GAZA — Israeli warplanes launched four air raids on mainly deserted areas in northern and Gaza Strip at dawn Tuesday with no casualties reported.
Local sources told the PIC reporter that Israeli F-16s fired three missiles at uninhabited areas in northern Gaza in two raids.
Israeli warplanes launched two other raids to the east of Khan Younis and fired two missiles at greenhouses on the Khan Younis – Deir Al-Balah road in further escalation in the ceaseless Israeli aggression on the Strip.

Arab League plan ‘outrageous meddling’ in Syria

Press TV – January 24, 2012
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem says a new Arab League proposal that calls on President Bashar al-Assad to step down is “outrageous interference” in Syria’s internal affairs.

Muallem said in a press conference in the capital Damascus on Tuesday that Syria “will not accept the plan that infringes upon Syria’s sovereignty.”
On Sunday, the Arab League issued a statement after a meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, calling on President Assad to “transfer power to the vice president to form a government of national unity within two months.”
Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of the observer mission in Syria, said in a press conference in Cairo on Monday the situation has improved in Syria since the monitoring mission began on December 26, 2011.
The Syrian foreign minister said the Arab League has made “political decisions instead of discussing its observer mission’s report on Syria.”
Muallem added that the report proves that “armed gangs are still active in Syria and that the Syrian government is decisively fighting against them.”
Muallem’s remarks come as the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council member states jointly announced on Tuesday that the countries have decided to “follow Saudi Arabia’s decision to pull out its observers from the Arab League mission in Syria.” … Full article

Connect with the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel

23 January 2012 | US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
A collective of students in Gaza has formed the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI). These students are seeking to expand their collaboration and participation in events and activities with solidarity activists at international universities.
PSCABI members participate in many activities here in Gaza and are heavily involved in supporting the international student solidarity movements, especially with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns. PSCABI members frequently write letters out of Gaza, some of which we have listed below, encouraging people to participate in the boycott and thanking people who have supported the Palestinian cause.
PSCABI members are available to share ideas, participate via Skype or other technology in remote events, organize and strategize together, hear about your activities and provide information and narratives as Palestinian university students for your distribution, and provide access to voices speaking directly from besieged Gaza.
please contact us at pscabi@usacbi.orgPast Letters from PSCABI

Jeffrey Goldberg pushes false neocon smear scrubbed by Washington Post

By Max Blumenthal – Al Akhbar – 2012-01-24
For nearly a month, a group of foreign policy researcher-bloggers at the Center for American Progress (CAP), an influential liberal think tank based in Washington DC, have faced an unrelenting smear campaign. The smears, initiated by former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block, focused on a few sardonic tweets by CAP bloggers that raised the ire of the pro-Israel and neoconservative political community. One tweet that included the term “Israel Firster” received special attention.

“This kind of demagoguery, anti-Israel invective, and in some cases actual hate speech, is absolutely wrong whether it comes from the extreme Right or Left, and like cancer, it has to be cut out before it metastasizes and destroys the whole body,” Block complained to Jennifer Rubin, a neoconservative columnist for the Washington Post who has accused CAP of “anti-Semitism” and who was recently scolded by the paper’s ombudsman for endorsing a screed advocating the slaughter of Palestinians.
Block’s campaign was transparently designed to force the Democratic establishment to disown a group of researchers who had generated an effective and factually solid counter narrative to the case for a military strike on Iran. And it was well orchestrated, receiving robust and sustained amplification from the right-wing of the pro-Israel community. By January 19, after a who’s who of neoconservative writers and right-leaning Jewish American groups called for the firing of the researchers, and weeks after the small handful of “controversial” tweets had been deleted and apologized for, the smears graduated onto the pages of the Washington Post. … continue

Israeli special forces kidnap Jerusalemite MP, minister from Red Cross premises

Palestine Information Center – 23/01/2012
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israeli special forces stormed the Red Cross premises in occupied Jerusalem on Monday and kidnapped MP Mohammed Totah and former Jerusalem minister Khaled Abu Arafa, the PIC reporter said.
He said that the Israeli forces took both officials to an unknown location, quoting relatives as expressing fears that they would be banished from Jerusalem similar to their colleagues Mohammed Abu Tir and Mohammed Attoun.
The Israeli intelligence warned Totah and Abu Arafa in a telephone call two weeks ago that they should leave the Red Cross premises and occupied Jerusalem within 48 hours.
The kidnap coincides with an escalation in the targeting of Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank the latest being a few days ago when the Israeli occupation soldiers arrested Palestinian parliament speaker Dr. Aziz Dweik and MP Mohammed Tafesh.

Obama Set to Use Military Intervention Against Longshoremen

By Ben Schreiner | Dissident Voice | January 23rd, 2012
A decisive struggle promising to shape the fate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), West Coast dockworkers, and all organized labor is swiftly nearing a climax in Longview, Washington.
Within weeks, if not days, the international conglomerate EGT Development will seek to commence operations at its new $200 million export grain terminal at the Port of Longview.  In refusing to use ILWU labor, EGT is breaking the precedent in place since the 1930s, which holds that all public port docks up and down the West Coast are to be worked by the ILWU.
As ILWU Local 21 in Longview maintains, the union’s struggle against EGT’s scab facility is indicative of “the fight of working people everywhere.”  It is, as the union continues, “a make-or-break struggle for all organized labor.”

Yet, as the ILWU and its allies ready to fight EGT’s union busting, the US military lies in wait to intervene on the behalf of the conglomerate.
As ILWU International President Rob McEllrath disclosed in a January 3 letter:
We have been told that this vessel will be escorted by armed United States Coast Guard, including the use of small vessels and helicopters, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the EGT facility.
The revelation that the Coast Guard (one of the five armed forces of the United States, and the lone military organization within the Department of Homeland Security) will be utilized to guard the EGT ship has drawn outrage and harsh condemnation from many within the labor community.  … continue

British Jews cancel Abbas meeting

Ma’an – 23/01/2012
TEL AVIV – Jewish community leaders in Britain canceled a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to London last week, an Israeli newspaper reported Monday.
The meeting was supposed to be one of several Abbas has held with Jewish leaders around the world in an effort to increase pressure on Israel to move forward with peace talks, Haaretz reported.
However, the meeting in Britain was called off following a request from representatives of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Israeli Embassy in London, according to the report.
The British government sought to convince the Jewish leaders to hold the meeting, Haaretz said.

The report says the Palestinian envoy in London sought to arrange the meeting several weeks ago. Manuel Hassassian and British Foreign Office officials asked leaders of the Jewish community to attend.

UN rights chief urges US close Guantanamo

Al Akhbar | January 23, 2012
UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Monday lamented the United States’ failure to close the detention facility at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, three years after incoming President Barack Obama pledged to shut the camp.
“It is 10 years since the US government opened the prison at Guantanamo, and now three years since January 22, 2009, when the president ordered its closure within 12 months,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
“Yet the facility continues to exist and individuals remain arbitrarily detained – indefinitely – in clear breach of international law,” she said in a statement.

Pillay said new legislation had only entrenched the system of arbitrary detention at Guantanamo Bay, that accepted its first prisoners on 11 January 2002.
The National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law in December 2011, “effectively codifies” indefinite military detention without charge or trial, she said.
“This piece of legislation contravenes some of the most fundamental tenets of justice and human rights, namely the right to a fair trial and the right not to be arbitrarily detained.” … Full article

US drone raids kill 5 in Pakistan

Press TV – January 23, 2012
At least five people have been killed in two strikes carried out by a US assassination drone in the Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan, Press TV, reports.

Security officials said on Monday that the American drone targeted a vehicle and a house with two missiles, killing five people at Degan village near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan on the Afghan border.
The death toll is expected to rise, and the rescue operation is underway in the area, local residents say. … Full article

Iran To Survive US Oil Embargo

Experts regard all this as an attempt by Washington to economically undermine the EU
By Konstantin Garibov | Voice of Russia | January 21, 2012

The ongoing US pressure on the European Union, Turkey, Japan, China and India to halt imports of Iranian oil and suspend any related financial transactions is facing resistance by oil importing companies and nations.
Last week India and Turkey refused to sign up to a proposed embargo on the import of Iranian crude, just days after the same had been announced by China.
Moreover, just as the EU is bracing itself for a decision on halting Iranian oil imports it will have to make on January 23, a number of Western companies are hastily extending their contracts with Iranian partners to avoid being hit by the proposed sanctions.
In an affront to Washington, India and Turkey have said although they would comply with the standing UN sanctions against Tehran, they would ignore oil embargoes introduced by individual countries. Iranian oil accounts for just under 10% of India’s needs and a hefty 30% of Turkish imports. … continue

Gingrich’s Major Backer Arch-Zionist Sheldon Adelson

America Hijacked | January 22nd, 2012

Gingrich’s faltering presidential campaign was completely resuscitated by a 5 million donation from Las Vegas casino king and super-Zionist Sheldon Adelson. (According to Wikipedia, Adelson is currently the 8th wealthiest American and 16th wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $23.3 billion.) Rising from the ashes, Gingrich now has won the South Carolina primary and has a decent chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee.
Adelson has been the major backer of Gingrich for some time. A Washington Post article on the Adelson-Gingrich connection (though kept out of the first section of the paper) states: “Perhaps no other major presidential candidate in recent times has had his fortunes based so squarely on the contributions of a single donor, as Gingrich has on Adelson, who has spent millions in support of Gingrich and his causes over the past five years.” … continue

Israeli occupation forces arrest Palestinian human rights team

Palestine Information Center – 21/01/2012

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israeli occupation forces arrested a Palestinian human rights team in occupied Jerusalem while documenting the arrest of a Jerusalemite boy on Friday night.
Wadi Hilwa human rights center said in a statement on Saturday that its director Jawad Siyam, researcher Ahmed Qara’in, and cameraman Ahmed Siyam were arrested.
The center said that the detention was made while the team was documenting the arrest of the Jerusalemite boy Majd Hammad near the Maghareba gate of the Aqsa Mosque.

Soldiers raid community center, arrest local activist

Ma’an – 22/01/2012

HEBRON – Soldiers ransacked the office of a Palestinian community center in Hebron on Saturday and arrested the coordinator of a local coalition group.
Issa Amr, leader of a group called Youth Against Settlements, was blindfolded and detained.
“Soldiers took me to a military base in Tel Rumeida, they handcuffed and blindfolded me where I was brutally beaten for no reason. They also threatened to kill me, and settlers spat on me several times.
Then they chanted hate slogans and things like ‘each Arab dog will have its day’. After that, soldiers steered me in the streets as they chanted that Golani battalion is the best in the Israeli army,” Issa Amr told Ma’an after he was released. … continue

Facebook shows its tyrannical face, blocks solidarity page of hunger striker

Palestine Information Center – 22/01/2012
RAMALLAH — The facebook controllers erased a solidarity page protesting Israel’s arbitrary detention of Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan who has undergone open hunger strike since the first day of his arrest.
Facebook claimed the page was blocked because it was used to incite against Israel.
Information technology expert Ali Sa’eed said Zionist parties could be behind this unjust facebook decision.
He noted it was not the first time, facebook blocked pages supporting the Palestinian national cause and called for reopening other facebook pages to challenge its racist behavior.

No more back room deals — Users must have a voice in governing the Internet

By Kurt Opsahl | EFF | January 20, 2012
MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd gave an interview to the New York Times yesterday, in which “Mr. Dodd said he would welcome a summit meeting between Internet companies and content companies, perhaps convened by the White House, that could lead to a compromise.” While framed by the Times as his acceptance of defeat (the MPAA had rejected a prior meeting), the article shows that Dodd still doesn’t get it.

The former Senator hopes for a return to the traditional levers of power, where the laws are written by lobbyists, and sold by back-room deals negotiated behind closed doors. He wants to frame the debate as the comfortable story of a dispute between companies in Silicon Valley and companies in Hollywood, that would doubtless be resolved on the basis of who’s more connected or has better lobbying budgets ‒ or so he hopes. … continue

Corn Prices Rise Worldwide Due to U.S. Ethanol Policy

By Rudy Ruitenberg – Bloomberg – January 22, 2012
The use of corn to make ethanol in the U.S. is helping to lift the grain price worldwide, said Jose Graziano da Silva, the new director general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. [...]
Corn futures closed at $6.115 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Jan. 20, almost triple the $2.1175 a bushel for the grain a decade ago. Part of the U.S. corn production is used to make ethanol for blending into gasoline as a fuel while rapeseed is used in Europe to make biodiesel. … Full article

Mobile nuclear meltdowns: Coming soon to a town near you?

By Vladimir Slivyak – Translated by Maria Kaminskaya | Bellona | January 18, 2012
MOSCOW – Some three hundred nuclear time bombs are to cross the vast expanses of Russia within the next dozen years as Moscow embarks on its plan to send special-purpose trains with spent nuclear fuel (SNF) burnt at the country’s commercial reactors to a storage facility in Siberia. That’s the “solution” the nuclear industry has come up with for the ever mounting problem of nuclear waste – take it cross-country and pile it up where it will threaten the environment and public health for generations to come.
The first train bound for Krasnoyarsk Region in Central Siberia – where a repository is being built for both Russia- and foreign-produced nuclear waste – will carry spent nuclear fuel generated at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), a site near Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg, in the country’s northwest.
The date of departure – the first in a large-scale series of shipments devised to scoop up and stow away nuclear waste from all over the country – is being kept secret. The State Nuclear Corporation Rosatom plans to move some 22,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel to Siberia before 2025. This means three new trains loaded with dangerous waste – 300 shipments in total – will be arriving in the closed town of Zheleznogorsk, also known as Krasnoyarsk-26, every second month for the next thirteen years.

Shipments like these threaten the safety of residents of more than 15 large Russian cities that will happen to be on the way, urban centers like the Russian capital, Moscow, as well as St. Petersburg, Penza, Samara, Kirov, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk and so on – virtually every industrial hub on Russia’s enormous map. Even though the shipping routes have not been disclosed, simple logic suggests moving trains loaded with cargoes as massive and logistically sensitive as these will require major railroads – such as those that involve stations, links, and depots serving heavy-traffic areas. … continue

The Radioactive Waste Crisis

By LINDA PENTZ GUNTER | CounterPunch | January 20, 2012
Before the month of January is out, the US Department of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future will unveil the result of its two year-long investigation into what to do with the accumulated radioactive waste at the country’s nuclear power plants. By this year’s end, that waste will constitute a mountain 70 years high, with the first cupful generated on December 2, 1942 at the Fermi lab not far from Chicago when scientists first created a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

There remains no viable solution for either the management or certainly the “disposal” of nuclear waste. Yet, the one recommendation that will not be contained in the DOE report is to stop making any more of it.  While a child would never be allowed to continue piling up toys in his or her room indefinitely, failing to tidy up the mess, the nuclear industry continues to be permitted to manufacture some of the world’s most toxic detritus without a cleanup plan.
A sneak peak last July at the Commission’s draft report confirms that no new miracles are to be unveiled this month. Its preferred “solution” appears to be “centralized interim” storage, an allegedly temporary but potentially permanent parking lot dumpsite for highly radioactive waste that, based on past practices, will likely be targeted for an Indian reservation or a poor community of color. “Centralized interim” storage sites for the country’s irradiated reactor fuel rods could easily become permanent if no suitable geological repository site is found. It will mean transporting the waste from reactors predominantly located east of the Mississippi to a likely more remote, western location. And these wastes would then have to be moved again, transported past potentially 50 million homes, en route to a “permanent” dump site… continue

US to send old warship to Persian Gulf

Press TV – January 22, 2012
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has vowed to maintain a fleet of eleven warships despite budget pressures, mostly to project sea power against Iran.
On board of the oldest US aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, Panetta told the crowd of 1,700 sailors that the 50-year-old ship is heading to the Persian Gulf region in a direct message to Tehran.

“The reason we maintain a presence in the Middle East … We want them to know that we are fully prepared to deal with any contingency and it’s better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy,” Panetta said.
The USS Enterprise is the oldest active duty ship in the American naval fleet and its mission dates back to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and the Vietnam War.
The decision to maintain 11 warships comes at a time when the US economy is facing a national debt of more than USD 15 trillion after a decade of costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… Full article

Is Israel Planning ‘Pearl Harbor’ False Flag Attack in the Persian Gulf?

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | January 21, 2012

In a January 9 op-ed in the Jerusalem Post magazine, Avi Perry, a former intelligence expert for the Israeli government, appears to be hinting how Israel plans to induce the United States into attacking Iran:
Iran, just like Nazi Germany in the 1940s, will take the initiative and “help” the US president and the American public make up their mind by making the first move, by attacking a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian attack on an American military vessel will serve as a justification and a pretext for a retaliatory move by the US military against the Iranian regime. The target would not be Iran’s nuclear facilities. The US would retaliate by attacking Iran’s navy, their military installations, missile silos, airfields. The US would target Iran’s ability to retaliate, to close down the Strait of Hormuz. The US would then follow by targeting the regime itself. … continue

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Boot That Stamps On Your Face

False footprint of history misleads
our brains, destroys our lives

"Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce, and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate."--James A. Garfield, 20th U.S. president, two weeks before he was assassinated in 1881.

by John Kaminski

This is the fact we can't get straight.

One side - one entity, one organization - funds BOTH sides in all the wars.

Failure to comprehend this one stark truth has diminished human life beyond comprehension. For openers, it has cost millions of human lives throughout the 20th century and into the 21st in the form of wars that were cynically fomented to mask the massive robberies of other countries. And all of them - every single one - has been manipulated into being, not for geopolitical or philosophical purposes, but for robbery, pure and simple. All done under some patriotic rubric and all done by the same bunch, money controllers of that certain stripe whose name it is not permitted to mention in that society they call polite.

The way to see that picture of one central controlling financial octopus slithering down through history with backroom bribes and secret assassinations is to take the core syllabus of Eustace Mullins and Archibald Maule Ramsay, edit it, and lay it out like an outline.

1645: Portuguese Jewish bankers in Holland Solomon de Medina and Fernando Carvajal secretly fund Oliver Cromwell to readmit the Jews to England, where they had been banished for loansharking for almost 400 years. This drama leads to the killing of the king, the debauching of Ireland, and the capture of the British treasury by the Jews, which is why the [Rothschild] City of London is the power center of the world today.

1791: The great liberation - peace, freedom and brotherhood. Run secretly by Jewish bankers inside British intelligence, the French overthrew their corrupt and bankrupt king by burning churches and slaughtering each other in the streets while the newly powerful Rothschild dynasty paraded one murderous puppet after another and completely erased the heroic history of the Gauls that had made France an empire. Today France has a Jewish president who reportedly works for the CIA. [Controlled by the Israeli Mossad]

1917: A trainload of Jews from Brooklyn carrying $40 million in gold bullion steamed across Europe and wound up occupying 363 of the 388 seats in the new Bolshevik assembly after these humanitarian Jewish revolutionaries cut up the czar and his family into little pieces and burned them. You may not have noticed, but these are the people in charge of the United States now. [MM: YES, I have noticed!!!]

1945: Hitler had been assisted in his drive to power by notable U.S. interests, whose descendents were to include future U.S. presidents. It was all part of a long-range plan to have a second German war, but more than that, it was a perfect example of how the international money machine was funding both sides in the same conflict, for the obvious purpose of making money off the consumption of weaponry, armaments, and the other amenities of war.

1967: Nelson Rockefeller smiles in Moscow while delivering trucks to the USSR, who forwarded them to North Vietnam, where they were used to kill American troops.

2010: Al Qaida shows up as designated enemy all over the world. Invented by Zbigniew Brzezinski after he recruited the Mujaheddin to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan, the created terrorist group was really a list, a data base, of Arab thugs who could be bought and used as double agents. Although a cynical fiction, this "base" was blamed for the 9/11 attack, and used to justify wars all over the world. It was the creation of "the perfect enemy," one which could never be caught because it did not really exist, except as a department of the Jewish intelligence agencies.

Many other entries of salient significance could be added to this list, but for purposes of comprehension and future use, this pattern, this syllabus, should be used to illustrate and verify the secret political pattern that has dominated the world since the Age of Enlightenment, the time of Shakespeare, a period of almost 400 years.

These other entries might include:

* 1815: Nathan Rothschild's capture of the British money exchange after the battle of Waterloo, in which France's Napoleon was defeated by Britain's Wellington, and Rothschild increased his fortune by a factor of 5000 by misrepresenting the outcome. The founder of this Rothschild dynasty that has controlled the world for 200 years began when Nathan's father killed the 25-year-old Prince William of Hesse and stole his fortune.

* 1847: At a wedding in London, Britain's Jewish PM Benjamin Disraeli, inventor of the term Zionism, told James and Lionel Rothschild that the U.S. would be divided into two parts: the north for James and the South for Lionel. That next year came the Worldwide Jewish Revolution of 1848, when revolutions occurred in every country in the world and the organization later known as B'nai Brith hooked its financial tentacles into literally every corner of the world. That was the year Marx wrote the Communist manifesto.

* 1913: German Jewish banker Paul Warburg ramrodded the Federal Reserve Act and the Income Tax through a paid-off Congress, and World War I, finally with enough money to build the weapons of war, introduced an era where permanent, continuous war would become a financial necessity simply to pay the armies it had created.

* 1932: Hitler did not have the money to seriously prepare for war until he sent his Jewish lawyer Rosenberg to London to enlist the help of American industrialists to fund the Nazi war machine. Shortly thereafter, America declared a bankruptcy it has never resolved, and also confiscated all the gold in the country.

Even today as high-tech sadists use weather wars to destabilize enemy countries and oppress the populations into grateful submission, we see in the pattern of the world that is being formed before our eyes the same basic falsehood that has been perpetrated on the public these last four centuries - that it is countries who are fighting each other, whereas really it has been clever bankers establishing institutions and manipulating situations to make it appear these countries needed to be fighting each other, when in fact the only reason for these wars was to make money, usually by stealing things.

So when I hear people talking about Republicans and Democrats,

or this celebrity or that, I kind of shut it all out now, because I know

the real news is really taking place on another level. It does us no good to understand the parliamentary blather that accomplishes certain

tasks, as long as we don't know what the original orders are from the bankers to the politicians. Understanding what passes for political news in mainstream media (in any era) guarantees that you DON'T understand the real forces at play.

The testament of suppressed history from Mullins, Ramsay and other forgotten martyrs to the cause of truth clearly shows a master plan that has survived and prospered down through history. This dominant force has profoundly diminished our lives through regimentation and hypocrisy, not to mention unleashing the nastiest plagues ever known to man and killing people for fun, just because they like blood.

Most importantly, now is the time to clearly identify this potentially fatal influence on world society, because not to do so guarantees no problem of meaningful significance will ever be solved, because the underlying, motivational forces of them remain undiscussed. It's impossible to really know anything under these circumstances. And that's where the public remains today - permanently in the dark.

Lastly, in the study of human nature, let us remember our traditions are descended from the seed of Abraham, the famous banker who sold his wife to Pharoah and begat a tradition of sabotaging other countries by stealth that venerated blood ties over honesty, and righteous murder over the compassion they pretended to preach.

If we are to have a future that involves individual liberty, understanding the nature of the boot on our faces is the most important thing to know.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, who for eight years on the Internet, and thirty-some years before that in newspapers, has been trying to tell people that the world is hooked into an artificial reality that has been constructed for them by people who don't have their best interests at heart.

http://johnkaminski.info/ Contributions to and comments about his work may be directed to 250 N. McCall Rd. #2, Englewood FL 34223.




Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama To Unveil A New(er) Deal: Here Comes $50 Billion For Rails, Roads And Runways

source: Tyler Durden...

The New Deal cost America $50 billion in 1930s dollars. How the times have changed - today the White House will announce a new and improved New(er) Deal, which will invest $50 billion in a 3Rs sequel - road, rail and runway, infrastructure developments. It will have roughly one thousandth the impact of the Roosevelt plan, demonstrating once again that in 80 years the only thing that has actually worked in America is the ongoing devaluation of the dollar. But don't call it failed fiscal surplus infinity +1, that would certainly not help the Democrats' InTrade odds this November. But since ARRA has now failed and GDP is stalling, and the Fed is pretty much powerless to create anything except a huge spike in gold prices once it goes full retard on monetary policy, what does one expect the president to do (aside from the obvious which is whatever the teleprompter tells him)? At least Paul Krugman will be giddy: there go two more $25 billion bond auctions to spike the economy for one or two days, only to cause another output vacuum shortly thereafter. And since no Obama plan could be complete without the creation of a czar or a bank to act as chief administration of fund misappropriation and embezzlement, the plan will also see the creation of an "Infrastructure Bank" which Wall Street is already actively plotting how to frontrun and to vicious rob blind at the expense of future generations. So congratulations America: ten days of total tax revenue were just washed down the drain to keep a few road workers busy: we'll skip the obligatory "Change you can..." jokes at this point. We also won't mention the imminent receipt of Warren Buffett's "thank you" card by the administration - that's a given.

More from Politico:

Seeking to bolster the sluggish economy, President Barack Obama is using a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee to announce he will ask Congress for $50 billion to kick off a new infrastructure plan designed to expand and renew the nation’s roads, railways and runways.

The goals, according to the White House: “Rebuild 150,000 miles of roads — renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system … . Construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail — enough to go coast-to-coast … . Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway — while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays.”

The measures include the “establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs," and “the integration of high-speed rail on an equal footing into the surface transportation program.”

“To jumpstart job creation, this long-run policy front-loads — through a $50 billion up-front investment — a significant share of the new infrastructure resources,” the White House said in a fact sheet. “As with other long-run policies, the Administration is committed to working with Congress to fully pay for the plan.”

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been pushing an infrastructure plan in West Wing meetings for weeks. But with the November midterms looming, officials were having trouble finding a way for the effects to be felt immediately.

A White House official said: “Today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, President Barack Obama will announce a comprehensive infrastructure plan to expand and renew our nation’s roads, railways and runways. This proposal is among a set of targeted initiatives that the president will outline in Cleveland on Wednesday to support our economic recovery and ensure long-term sustainable growth.

“The plan builds upon the infrastructure investments the president has already made through the Recovery Act, includes principles the president put forth during the campaign, and emphasizes American competitiveness and innovation.”

At 3:10 p.m. Eastern time, Obama is to deliver remarks on the economy at Milwaukee Laborfest, in Henry Maier Festival Park.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Badge-Toting Pyschotic Shoots Up Home, Gets Off Scot-Free

source: William Grigg...

“This guy … just tried to run my husband over!” exclaimed Arkansas resident Cindy Nelson in a frantic 911 call on July 21. “Oh, my God — he’s shooting at us! Oh, my God!”

A few minutes later, Fred Ensminger — the deranged assailant — placed a 911 call of his own.

“This is Diamondhead 1106…. I have been shot and I need medical at my front gate ASAP.”

Ensminger, as we will see anon, is a recidivist criminal, but he is no run-of-the-mill psychotic. He is employed by the Police Department of Diamondhead Arkansas, a gated community located south of Hot Springs.

A few minutes before Cindy Nelson told a 911 dispatcher that a “guy with a badge” was trying to murder her husband, she had passed Ensminger’s pickup truck, which was parked by the side of the road.

As Nelson started to go around the truck, Ensminger pulled out in front of her. According to an eyewitness, Ensminger “stopped suddenly,” causing Nelson to slam on her brakes to avoid a collision.

According to the witness, Ensminger climbed out of his pickup truck and began to harangue Nelson. She reacted by pulling around him and proceeding down the road. An infuriated Ensminger followed in close pursuit.

With Ensinger’s pickup truck looming in her rear-view, Nelson called her husband, Jerry Chambliss, and told him that she was being followed. She had no idea at this point that her stalker was an off-duty police officer.

After Nelson entered the gated community, Chambliss went into the driveway “with my arms up, palms out, hollering stop, stop, stop, what are you doing?” he later told investigators.

Ensminger gunned the pickup forward, striking Chambliss and knocking him down. He then compounded this act of attempted vehicular homicide by grabbing a shotgun and firing several rounds into the garage. At some point Ensminger punctuated his acts of attempted criminal homicide by flashing his state-issued costume jewelry.

Chambliss raced into the house and retrieved a loaded 9mm handgun and returned fire, striking Ensminger in the shoulder and forcing the assailant to withdraw.

After Ensminger called for backup, Nelson made a second 911 call requesting a police officer. When the dispatcher replied that an officer was already on the premises, Nelson suggested that it might be worthwhile to send someone other than the person who had just perforated her home with gunfire.

Following surgery to remove the bullet he had received as a consolation prize for finishing second in a shoot-out, Ensminger filed the predictably perjurious official report. He claimed to have observed Nelson driving erratically, and that she had attempted to run him over when he displayed the trinket denoting his supposed authority.

That claim was demolished by contradictory eyewitness testimony, which established that while Ensminger screamed at Nelson and wagged a finger in her direction, he never flashed his badge.

Ensminger offered a similarly mendacious version of his encounter with Chambliss. In the officer’s account, he was confronted by an “angry unknown man” who slammed on the hood of his car telling him to get out of the driveway.

In this depiction, Chambliss shot Ensminger without provocation, and the off-duty cop returned fire in self-defense. Once again, that account couldn’t be reconciled with the evidence assembled during an investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

In his official report, state Prosecuting Attorney Steve Oliver concluded that Chambliss “was justified in using deadly physical force in the defense of himself and his wife on July 21, 2010…. Under Arkansas law, Mr. Chambliss was not required to retreat if he was not the original aggressor.”

This of necessity means that Fred Ensminger, the “original aggressor,” committed multiple acts of criminal assault, and thus be subject to prosecution — correct?

Well, no.

Oliver ruled that Ensminger displayed “poor judgment in his aggressive pursuit of Ms. Nelson to her residence but he acted with the belief that he was justified under color of law.”

This unsupportable, invalid “belief” appears sufficient to exculpate Ensminger’s repeated attempts to murder Jerry Chambliss. Oliver doesn’t provide any other explanation for his decision not to file criminal charges of any kind against Ensminger, who not only remains free but is still on active duty with the Diamondhead Police Department.

“Just because he has a badge he does not have the right to come down and kill citizens,” Chambliss complained to Little Rock’s Fox affiliate. According to Oliver, that state-issued bauble does indeed confer the authority to commit acts of discretionary murder. Oliver’s report clearly suggests that if Ensminger had displayed his chintzy totem of official privilege during the highway confrontation with Cindy Nelson, Chambliss would be facing criminal charges.

Significantly, the shootout between Ensinger and Chambliss was originally described by the Diamondhead Police and the local media as growing out of a “domestic dispute.”

Chief Pat Mahoney and Garland County Deputy Judy Daniel told Little Rock’s Fox 16 News that they were concerned about their injured comrade, who had been stricken in the line of duty as he was “investigating” a purported episode of domestic violence.

That official lie is indigestibly rich in irony, given the fact that Ensminger — a “gypsy cop” who has been repeatedly fired and punished for disciplinary infractions and criminal acts — was himself arrested on a domestic violence charge in 2006. The victim in that assault, which took place in front of the police station in Alexander, Arkansas, was a female police officer.

“We are very happy that the officer is OK and extremely glad that the suspect is in custody,” stated Deputy Daniel shortly after that heroic defender of public order tried to murder Jerry Chambliss. “It just makes it easier on everybody, the other officers, his family.”

Note how this description of “everybody” refers exclusively to those employed as agents of government coercion. The “civilian” who used righteous force to repel Ensminger’s criminal assault apparently doesn’t count. Mere Mundanes never do.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Obama Administration Reverses Course, Forbids Sale of 850,000 Antique Rifles

By Maxim Lott for FoxNews.com

A photo of M1 Garands (National Park Service)

The South Korean government, in an effort to raise money for its military, wants to sell nearly a million antique M1 rifles that were used by U.S. soldiers in the Korean War to gun collectors in America.

The Obama administration approved the sale of the American-made rifles last year. But it reversed course and banned the sale in March – a decision that went largely unnoticed at the time but that is now sparking opposition from gun rights advocates.

A State Department spokesman said the administration's decision was based on concerns that the guns could fall into the wrong hands.

"The transfer of such a large number of weapons -- 87,310 M1 Garands and 770,160 M1 Carbines -- could potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes," the spokesman told FoxNews.com.

"We are working closely with our Korean allies and the U.S. Army in exploring alternative options to dispose of these firearms."

Gun control advocates praised the Obama administration for taking security seriously.

"Guns that can take high-capacity magazines are a threat to public safety," said Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Even though they are old, these guns could deliver a great amount of firepower. So I think the Obama administration's concerns are well-taken."

But gun rights advocates point out that possessing M1 rifles is legal in the United States -- M1s are semi-automatics, not machine guns, meaning the trigger has to be pulled every time a shot is fired -- and anyone who would buy a gun from South Korea would have to go through the standard background check.

"Any guns that retail in the United States, of course, including these, can only be sold to someone who passes the National Instant Check System," said David Kopel, research director at the conservative Independence Institute. "There is no greater risk from these particular guns than there is from any other guns sold in the United States."

M1 carbines can hold high-capacity ammunition clips that allow dozens of rounds to be fired before re-loading, but Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, noted that is true about any gun in which an ammunition magazine can be inserted -- including most semi-automatics.

"Anything that accepts an external magazine could accept a larger capacity magazine," Cox said.

"But the average number of rounds fired in the commission of a crime is somewhere between 1 and 2 … this issue just shows how little the administration understands about guns."

He called the administration's decision "a de facto gun ban, courtesy of Hillary Clinton's State Department."

Asked why the M1s pose a threat, the State Department spokesman referred questions to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF representatives said they would look into the question Monday afternoon, but on Wednesday they referred questions to the Justice Department. DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd referred questions back to the State Department.

According to the ATF Guidebook on Firearms Importation, it would normally be legal to import the M1s because they are more than 50 years old, meaning they qualify as "curios or relics." But because the guns were given to South Korea by the U.S. government, they fall under a special category that requires permission from the State Department before any sale.

Kopel said that he hopes the State Department spokesman's statement that it is working to "dispose" of the guns does not mean they want to melt them down.

"It seems to have this implication of destruction, which would be tremendously wasteful," he said. "These are guns that should be in the hands of American citizens for marksmanship and safety training."

Asked whether melting the guns down would be a good option, Henigan said: "Why let them into the country in the first place? If there is a legally sufficient way to keep them out, we think it's perfectly reasonable to do so."

Past administrations have also grappled with the issue of large-scale gun imports.

The Clinton administration blocked sales of M1s and other antiquated military weapons from the Philippines, Turkey and Pakistan. It also ended the practice of reselling used guns owned by federal agencies, ordering that they be melted down instead.

In contrast, 200,000 M1 rifles from South Korea were allowed to be sold in the U.S. under the Reagan administration in 1987.

A decision like that would be better for everyone, Cox said.

"M1s are used for target practice. For history buffs, they're highly collectible. We're going to continue to make sure that this backdoor effort that infringes not only on lawful commerce but on the Second Amendment is rectified."

Henigan disagrees.

"They clearly were used as military guns, and the fact that they likely can take high-capacity magazines makes them a special safety concern," he said.

The White House referred questions on the issue to the Pentagon, which referred questions to the U.S. Embassy in South Korea, which deferred back to the State Department.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Public Employee Unions Guarantee National Bankruptcy

SARTRE – August 29, 2010

“The Assembly Public Safety Committee today is considering one of the most noxious, special-interest pieces of legislation we’ve seen in a while—one that will endanger public safety, tread on the California constitution and reinforce the perception that some government workers are part of a special, coddled group that’s exempt from the normal legal and ethical standards that are applied to other Californians.” The Registry

Public Employee Unions Guarantee National Bankruptcy

Presidential executive orders have a long history. Both Democratic and Republican presidents exercise such commands. Are EO’s a privilege in law or are they simply a technique to skirt passing a Congressional statute? The executive branch adopts a pattern of rule that undermines the fundamental purpose of separation of power. The historic result is that the legislature is relegated to a junior collaborator in their partnership of crime. The bureaucracy has developed into a full-fledged imperial juggernaut that has a life of its own. Who started such an ill-conceived practice?

“Executive Orders have two main functions: to modify how an executive branch department or agency does its job (rule change) or to modify existing law, if such authority has been granted to the President by Congress. Executive orders are not mentioned by the Constitution, but they have been around a long, long time. George Washington issued several Presidential Proclamations, which are similar to EO’s . EO’s and Proclamations are not law, but they have the effect of statutes. Executive orders are subject to judicial review, and can be declared unconstitutional”.

The Kennedy pandering to government “hired help” put the bankruptcy of state and federal budgets into motion. Consider for a moment the absurdity of encouraging a permanent class of government slackers who conspire to steal from the productive wealth creators of society. Anyone who accepts that state or federal employees provide invaluable and necessary public services must be a “civil servant” or come from the long tradition of government parasites.

One of the most destructive of initiatives encourages the unionization of state and federal public employees.

“In 1959, the state of Wisconsin enacted the first state statute permitting municipal employees the right to form, join, and be represented by labor organizations. Three years later, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988, which granted federal employees the right to join and form unions and to bargain collectively. The order established a framework for collective bargaining and encouraged the expansion of collective bargaining rights to state and local government employees. Beginning in 1976, the federal courts have ruled that the First Amendment’s freedom of association prohibits states from interfering with public sector employees’ right to join and form unions. These decisions invalidated the sovereignty doctrine, contributing to the growth of unions.The Supreme Court held in Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees, Local 1315 (1979), (3) however, that nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires public employers to either recognize or collectively bargain with public employee unions. Employees can form and join unions without the benefit of protective legislation, but public employers are not compelled to recognize or bargain with unions. Public employers are required to bargain only under laws that mandate bargaining. The duty to bargain can be imposed only by statute“.

A Baron’s cover article, The $2 Trillion Hole lays out the dire dilemma.

“According to a survey last month by the Pew Center on the States, a nonpartisan research group, eight states — Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and West Virginia — lack funding for more than a third of their pension liabilities. Thirteen others are less than 80% funded.

According to the latest compensation survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average state and local employee out earns his counterpart in the private economy with an hourly wage of $26.11, versus $19.41. That’s before benefits (pensions, health care, paid vacations and sick days and leaves) drive the disparity even higher, to $39.60 an hour for public employees and $27.42 for private workers.

Besides the politicians, the primary culprits are the public-employee unions, which have used their growing power to dramatically enhance pension benefits. They curry favor with sympathetic politicians, lavishing them with large donations and manning campaign phone banks. They also engage in full-court-press lobbying at all levels of state and local government”.

Watch the video Plunder! by journalist Steven Greenhut, who details a number of ploys that both workers and management use to maximize their retirement checks. The brilliant WSJ article, Public Employee Unions Are Sinking California by Mr. Greehut points out the insane aftermaths from allowing public employee unionization.

“Approximately 85% of the state’s 235,000 employees (not including higher education employees) are unionized. As the governor noted during his $83 billion budget roll-out, over the past decade pension costs for public employees increased 2,000%. State revenues increased only 24% over the same period. A Schwarzenegger adviser wrote in the San Jose Mercury News in the past few days that, “This year alone, $3 billion was diverted to pension costs from other programs.” There are now more than 15,000 government retirees statewide who receive pensions that exceed $100,000 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Many of these retirees are former police officers, firefighters, and prison guards who can retire at age 50 with a pension that equals 90% of their final year’s pay. The pensions for these (and all other retirees) increase each year with inflation and are guaranteed by taxpayers forever—regardless of what happens in the economy or whether the state’s pensions funds have been fully funded (which they haven’t been).

A 2008 state commission pegged California’s unfunded pension liability at $63.5 billion, which will be amortized over several decades. That liability, released before the precipitous drop in stock-market and real-estate values, certainly will soar”.

If you think that there are exceptions within the public sector unions that are above criticism you are wrong. Teachers like to cling to the myth that they are essential and sacrifice to educate the children. By any objective and empirical standards the results of their social engineering and indoctrination is an underclass of illiterate and brain dead idiots. Government schools are tombs for zombie reproduction. NJ Governor Chris Christie is spot on in his assessment of the Teachers Union video.It is beyond common sense and pragmatic necessity to sit back and allow the “dumbing down” of America by a system that rewards failure and steals tax dollars to pay the Teacher Unions blackmail. If you think reform is possible, forget it.

In, The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand, Steven Brill writes.”The teachers’ unions have become accustomed in recent years to fighting off reform efforts by Republicans and think-tank do-gooders. They ignore the rhetorical noise, while sticking to the work of negotiating protectionist contracts with the politicians who run school systems and depend on their political support”.The fact that the education bureaucracy comprises a union paradise is obvious. Why citizens swallow this insult might best be explained that most feudal subjects were trained to accept unlimited abuses from the state in government schools.

Municipal jurisdictions do not fare any better. View the Public Sector Union Bosses’ Stranglehold on Mayors video. America does not need cradle to grave government services and certainly cannot afford its cost.

The Freeman sums up the essential problem in Government Workers Are America’s New Elite.

“The bottom line: Public-safety officials have many ways to gin up their already generous retirements benefits to astronomical levels. Most garden-variety government employees get lucrative pensions also. It is common for them to retire at age 55 with more than 80 percent of their final year’s pay. Most public employees receive defined-benefit retirement plans, in which the taxpayer promises a set rate of return, as opposed to private-sector workers who have 401(k)s and other defined-contribution plans in which the market sets the return”.

Public Employee Unions came into being because of harebrained executive orders. The legislature has the authority to put an end to the abuse of power from the executive. Indeed the theory is sound. The election of courageous representatives dedicated to unwinding of the tyranny from the public sector is remote even under the best of circumstances. The lobbying and funding from public service unions keep a stranglehold on the process.

The U.S. is broke. Public Employee Unions refuse to void their unconscionable contracts. The taxpayer can no longer afford this destructive fraud. Society can only be rejuvenated through a total downsizing of all public services. The biggest deadbeats that skim off the system are your phony public servants. The only bright spot from a collapse and natural bankruptcy is the evaporation of the public sector. Can you say Bye Bye to those decadent pensions? The government wants total control and public employees have made their – UNION – bargain with the devil.

SARTRE – August 29, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How A Hero in New Orleans Was Arrested, Labeled A Terrorist And Imprisoned

August 28, 2010 by politicaltheatrics

Today, a personal story of a national tragedy. Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born New Orleans building contractor, stayed in the city while his wife and children left to Baton Rouge. He paddled the flooded streets in his canoe and helped rescue many of his stranded neighbors. Days later, armed police and National Guardsmen arrested him and accused him of being a terrorist. He was held for nearly a month, most of which he was not allowed to call his wife, Kathy. Today, in a rare broadcast interview, Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun join us to tell their story, along with the man who chronicles it in the book Zeitoun, Dave Eggers. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: It was five years ago that Hurricane Katrina was barreling towards the Gulf Coast. Today, a Democracy Now! global broadcast exclusive: we spend the hour on the story of one family from New Orleans, the Zeitouns, not only experienced the widespread displacement caused by the storm, but they were also victimized by the so-called “war on terror.” Their story forms the basis of the critically acclaimed novel Zeitoun by the celebrated writer Dave Eggers, who just won the American Book Award for his book.

Abdulrahaman Zeitoun is a Syrian-born immigrant to the United States who lived in New Orleans with his wife Kathy, an American convert to Islam, and their children. Together, they ran a successful painting and contracting business and are well known in the local community of New Orleans.

As the storm approached the city in late August 2005, Kathy and her kids fled to Baton Rouge to her sister’s house. They then proceeded to a friend’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, where they waited out the storm. Meanwhile, Abdulrahman Zeitoun was ready with his sixteen-foot aluminum canoe when Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 storm on August 29th.

The book tells the story of how Zeitoun spent days rescuing people stranded in the storm, until he was picked up by an armed squad who accused him of being a terrorist. He was held for three weeks without any contact with his family. They thought he was dead.

In an exclusive broadcast interview, I spoke with Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his wife Kathy yesterday, as well as the bestselling writer, publisher, Dave Eggers, whose numerous works include A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, also the founder of the independent publishing house and literary journal McSweeney’s.

I began the interview by asking Dave Eggers to explain how he first came across the story of what the Zeitouns went through in the aftermath of Katrina.

DAVE EGGERS: At McSweeney’s, we have a small publishing company in San Francisco, and we have a series called Voice of Witness that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. And the first book in the series was about the wrongfully convicted and exonerated here in the US. And right when that book was coming out, Katrina hit, and so we talked to a lot of friends that we had in Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Atlanta, and people fanned out and began interviewing New Orleanians who had fled the storm. And when we started getting the transcripts back and the tapes back from the interviewers, I saw the story of the Zeitouns, and I was struck by it on so many levels. And so, the next time I was in New Orleans a few months later, I met the family, and we spent many hours together, and I got to know the kids.

And I think even—you know, I was struck by it on this—on the level of—you know, I don’t think many of us knew of this intersection, this improbable intersection of the war on terror and Katrina, and how the folding of FEMA into Homeland Security affected the response to Katrina. And there were so many sort of political aspects of it, and I was interested in it on a journalistic level. But it was also getting to know this family that I connected to almost immediately. And also, you know, their story goes so deep, you know, and Zeitoun’s family story in Syria was so fascinating. And Kathy’s conversion to Islam was, I think, a really valuable way to introduce Islam to readers that might not know too much about it.

And so, they’re this all-American family. They encompass the immigrant experience, the American Dream, all these all-American values in New Orleans. And then, at the same time, you know, he was put in this moment in time where he rose to a challenge and became a hero. And then, of course, something terrible happened that I hope could never happen again in this country, that it was a moment in time when we didn’t live up to our highest values and aspirations. And so, there were so many aspects of it that interested me. But again, most of it was a personal connection to the family, that, you know, now it’s five years on, and we’re inextricably woven together and very close. And so, it was their faith in me and their trust in me and their courage in telling their story that made it possible.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Eggers, could you tell us a little bit of what you just told us in shorthand, where Zeitoun—where Abdulrahaman Zeitoun was born, how he grew up, how he ended up here and then went from the horror of the storm to the horror of the prison, after being considered a hero?

DAVE EGGERS: Well, you know, some of the—one of the great parts of researching a book like this was to go back to his hometown of Jableh on the coast of Syria and see this—what was, at the time, when he was growing up, a pretty small fishing village. And it’s grown somewhat since then. But I was able to meet his brothers and sisters, all of whom—or most of whom are still there, and also see their—his grandmother’s home town, which is on an island called Arwad Island, which is just off the coast to near Tartus, and get to know everybody and see, you know, and get to know generations of the Zeitouns. And they—it’s an incredibly illustrious family that has—you know, they’ve achieved so many things. You know, they’re professors, and they’re principals of schools and doctors, and, you know, his brother Ahmed is a ship captain, and I got to spend time with him in Spain.

And so, you know, Zeitoun grew up there, and he eventually became a merchant sailor, sailing around the world on many different vessels, helping to load and unload. And he saw the world that way and finally stopped in the US. You know, he first settled in Baton Rouge, and then New Orleans. And he built this business from scratch, because he had grown up around a lot of different trades, and he got to know masonry and painting and carpentry. And he was—you know, he worked for a lot of other contractors, and he was the hardest working guy that they had ever seen. And so, pretty soon he had his own business. Soon after, he married Kathy, and they built this business together as, like, equal partners in, you know, handling different sides of the business.

And so, in every way, they really do embody the American Dream: hard work, family and a dedication to one’s neighbors. You could see how one of the reasons that he stayed behind when the storm hit was to take care of his clients’ homes. He has keys to every one of them. He’s got, you know, hundreds of keys to homes all over the city, because he’s taken care of these houses, and so—and everybody trusts him with them, so—which makes it all the more tragic, I think, and exasperating that he is the model citizen in so many ways and he was victimized this way.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about that day, September 6th, and the different men who, oh, Zeitoun had been going around with, helping others with. Talk about Nasser and Todd and, from your research, what happened that day.

DAVE EGGERS: Well, Nasser was a friend of Zeitoun’s who also was Syrian, and he—they had gone back. They knew each other for many, many years. And he had been living in the city as a—you know, first came here as a graduate student at Tulane. And they ran into each other after the storm. And Nasser helped distribute supplies with Zeitoun in the canoe, and they spent many days together. And Nasser was living at that house on Claiborne, too. And then, Todd Gambino is a resident there, and he—you know, a whole book could be written about Todd, because he saved many, many lives and—going around on a motorboat. And then there was this relative stranger named Ronnie that none of them knew, but who had stopped by once or twice to use the phone.

And, you know, after all of this happened, I was sure—I got a copy of the arrest record, and I wanted to see who the officers were on the arrest record. There were two there. And so, I tracked down both of them, one of whom was a veteran officer from New Mexico who had come to New Orleans after the storm, and then the main officer was a New Orleans police officer who had been going around up and down Claiborne and had been—he says that he—in my interview with him, he said that he observed them looting, all four of them looting a Walgreens. And in the end, there was no evidence of any looting. He didn’t recover any stolen goods at the house or anything like that. And so—but he went to Napoleon-St. Charles, where many military and other officers were gathered, and he got a team together, and then they came into the house and raided it and arrested all four of them. And so, I found it totally important to interview these two officers.

And I think, you know, had the whole system been working, had there been due process, had there been public defenders available and a rational bail set and phone calls available to people and people being able to be visited by or contact their relatives or family, and had any of these other things that we take for granted been in place, a lot of the injustices would have been mitigated to some extent. But none of these were—none of these systems were working. And so, once they were arrested and brought, you know, in this van, driven by our National Guardsmen, brought to Camp Greyhound, they got lost in the system. That’s when the system was broken down. And even if the arrest had been wrongful and the evidence wasn’t there, under normal circumstances, they would have been free on bail, and the charges would have been dropped momentarily. But in this case, because none of these other systems were working, that’s how they and hundreds of others were lost in the Louisiana prison system. And, you know, Todd Gambino did many months in prison, and Nasser did many months in prison. And hundreds of others did what was known as “Katrina time,” where they were lost in the system. Records weren’t kept. Some people weren’t allowed to make phone calls or meet with lawyers—or anyone—for upwards of a year. And so, it was a complete meltdown of the system, unfortunately.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Eggers has just won the American Book Award for his book Zeitoun. He’s joining us from New Orleans. We’re going to come back to Dave, but before we do, we’re going to hear from the Zeitouns themselves in their own words. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: In this Democracy Now! global broadcast exclusive, the first time Dave Eggers and the subjects of his book, the Zeitouns, have joined together in a studio to tell their story. It’s the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. And we go to Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun themselves. Abdulrahman is known in New Orleans by his last name, Zeitoun. I spoke to Zeitoun and his wife Kathy yesterday. i

AMY GOODMAN: Describe the day that life as you know it completely changed. Of course, life had already changed. You were alone there trying to help people, your family in Baton Rouge.

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: This day, we come from around—around noon, like maybe around 3:00. And I got to the house, and I go to the bathroom, and I open the water, and I see the water running. You know, before one week, don’t see water running. And I jump, take a shower right away. And I have the couple guys—there was one guy, apart from me, from other place, and I tell him, “Go ahead. Jump in the shower, because I have water running.” And I got outside and start making my phone calls. And he got out, and someone started talking to him. I can’t see who’s talking, but I hear just somebody talking. I say, “Who’s outside?” He said, “Someone ask us if we need any water.” I said, “Tell him we have enough, and maybe somebody else need it more than us.”

And this guy—I mean, he uses the way, if we need water, to keep coming to the house. And the guys keep talking and come closer slowly to the house. And I see five, six guys, military, with the policemen, jump in the house with all the weapon. And the guys ask us, “What you guys doing here?” I says, “It’s my house.” He says, “You have ID?” I say, “Yes.” I show him my ID. I don’t think he have enough time to see—to read my name. He just saw my picture and, like, sees a strange name, and he said, “Go to the boat.” On the table in the middle of my room, I have my note with my wife—where she’s staying, phone numbers. Only way in touch with—only way I can touch with her, because the cell phone doesn’t work. I can ask him if I can get the note. He said, “No, just go on the boat.” I tried to get it anyway, and he is appearing to shoot. And I said, “OK, this is not good.”

And I got to the boat, and then he’s—I have other two guys there also. Say, “All of you get on the boat now.” Happened that Gambino, he’s outside, coming from somewhere. And then, as I get there, he asked, “What? How? What’s going on?” He said, “Who are you?” He said, “I live here.” Said, “Get on the boat.” And they brought him with us. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Their guns are drawn?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Yes, have an army ready to shoot. You know, have a, like, military, like, ready—like these guys coming for—like prepared for war. And brought us to St. Charles and Napoleon. As soon we got there, we have like, every one of us, being five, six guys jump on him and tied him down. Like I saw something like only thing you see it in the movies. Anyway, brought us to one van—

AMY GOODMAN: That they jump on each one of you and tie you down.

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Yes. Yes, ma’am. I mean, I don’t know what happens in these guys’ mind. I feel something not good. And after, brought us to the van. Before that, when we were in the boat, I said, “Where are you taking us?” He said, “You know, just we take you, talk to our boss.” When we got there and see this motion action, where we in the van waiting, have one guy come behind the wheel. And I ask him, “What’s going on? What’s wrong?” He said, “We’re from Indiana. We’re doing our job.” That’s the only thing he have to say. And I stay quiet almost like for fifteen minutes, we sitting and waiting. After that, he got the order to move. He brought us to the bus station there and processed us—

AMY GOODMAN: The Greyhound station.

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Yes, the Greyhound station. And we stay almost like hour in the lobby there, where—and taking pictures and checking us and strip us naked and, I mean, then all the kind of—and have guys surround us like with the dog and the sort of like security, very high security, you know? I don’t know how to describe it. I was just very—we can’t move. We have to stand, our leg open and our foot in place and our arm on the seat. I mean, you can’t have any movement.

And after we finish, brought us to the—where the bus line up, have like—been designed like Guantánamo Bay jails, you know, like wire and like fence wires and almost like, I think, fifteen-, twenty-foot-high, and we have like cages. Brought us ourself with one of the cage. The first—I remember exactly first cage, I got next to the station, next to the engine for the train. We stay next to the engine three days, right in our ears. I mean, I think I’m becoming deaf after that, because imagine you be three days next to the engine running, because the engine generates electricity for the station.

AMY GOODMAN: Zeitoun, just to understand here, you had been looking for help to save your neighbors, over these days that you were saving people. Now you were brought to the Greyhound station, and you say it was built like Guantánamo, which means they must have been spending time since the storm turning this bus station into a prison. You had been traveling a lot in your canoe. Had you seen this happening?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: No, because I never got this close to the bus station, although what I saw over there, have not just—I mean, I spend some time. You have all kind of very high-tech equipment there, have a lifter, a crane, have a machine with big wheels to prepare to drive in the water. I mean, very high-tech equipment there, and this can be used to rescue people, better to build a jail. I mean, I was surprised. I mean, all kind of machineries you can imagine is there.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did they tell you you had been arrested, you had been detained, that you were stripped naked, that you were being imprisoned with the other men that you had been traveling around with to help others? What was your crime, did they say?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: This is what I tried to find out. Every time we asked someone, and they start to throw a name at us: “You guys Taliban. You’re al-Qaeda.” I mean, each one guy is passing by, give us, like—I don’t know. Is it like he throw it like a joke or like a serious? We don’t know what this—you know, been telling us like that. And I finally had discovered—

AMY GOODMAN: They said you were Taliban and al-Qaeda?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Yes, this is what they were accusing us for at first. And this is why, when first day we In the bus station, these people called—what you call it, the Homeland Security on us, and have two guys come there, interview us inside. And this guy, like, shake his head, and he left. He said, “We don’t have nothing with these people.” You know, just left. That’s why these guys think he have like when brothers from there have a big fish. And I don’t know what this guy is thinking.

And also, after three days, we’ve been tranferred to Baton Rouge, also have to, after like a week from being transferred to Baton Rouge, we have FBI or some high official guys, very, very, very intelligent people come to us and interview me and other—my friends. And he tell maybe like that. He said, “Look, we don’t have nothing on you. We never have anything on you. Just up to these people, you know, what they do.” He asked me, “What I can do to help you?” And I request for him to call my wife, tell her I’m OK. And he did. And the people in jail in Baton Rouge—and anywhere in New Orleans, too—nobody give us chance to call or just to pass message to my wife to say I’m here or I’m alive. Every time I ask somebody, “Please call my wife,” he say, “We can’t do that.” “Give me—let me make phone call.” “We can’t let you do that.” And it happened almost like three weeks. I never have a chance to call my wife, let her know where I am.

AMY GOODMAN: Kathy Zeitoun, talk about this time, from September 6th, when you stopped hearing from your husband, for these weeks. Where were you when the calls stopped? And what happened to you and your kids afterwards?

KATHY ZEITOUN: At this time, we were in Arizona, Chandler, Arizona. I kept waiting for him to call. He didn’t. Every time the phone would ring, I would rush to the phone hoping that it was him. It wasn’t. By the next day, we didn’t hear from him. Then we went to the Red Cross building, and then we put in a missing person’s report. And also, we put our name over at—I think they have a coliseum over there. We had to go there and file a missing person’s report over there, as well. And his brother at this point was calling, asking if I had heard from him, because he could no longer get in touch with him, as well. So then we had his brother and then the rest of his family calling, because they couldn’t get in touch with him, as well. And everybody was worried about him at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, at what point did you start to give up hope? And what were you telling your children?

KATHY ZEITOUN: I think by the second week, I was really horribly nervous. And I would just tell my children, when I saw that it was affecting them so horribly at this point, I was telling them—they would hear me speak with my sister, and it was affecting them, especially my youngest daughter. It affected her horribly. I mean, she stopped eating. She wasn’t sleeping very well. Her hair was falling out when I would brush it. You would hear her talking to her cousins. She would say, “We have so much water in our house and in so much of the street, and we don’t know where my dad is.” So, finally, when I saw that my emotions are playing on my children, then we just had to tell them, “No, I heard from Daddy. Daddy is with a friend. He’s going to be home soon.” But maybe they believed it, maybe not. It didn’t settle her nerves any. So that’s—it was a really bad time for all of us.

AMY GOODMAN: You were a well-known developer in New Orleans. How is it that no one knew you, from all the houses you had built and rebuilt and rented? Who were these people who were holding you?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: All of them not from—not from our town. I think most of them come from—what’s call it?—Angola, what I heard, and other people. The military people from Indiana, that’s what he tell me. Say, “We from Indiana. We’re doing our”—

AMY GOODMAN: Angola, meaning the prison in Angola, Louisiana?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Yeah, Angola prison. Yeah, this what I heard this, the people around the prison in New Orleans from Angola, Angola prison. And also, the most of the military, the one pick me up is from—the guy tell me, “We’re from Indiana.” This is what he say we do. “From Indiana. We’re doing our job.” I don’t think anybody from our city around.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the man, the old African American missionary, who was giving out Bibles at the Hunt prison, who finally you got to make the critical call to Kathy.

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Yeah, believe it or not, anybody pass by me, I will, you know, try to just encourage him to make this phone call, not just him. I have everybody, includes, you know, the lady, she distributes the medicine for the people with the prescription or the—and also I have one lady in security. I say, “Well, man, this lady maybe have softer heart from the guys. Let her try.” I try. Well, say, “No, I can’t.” I say, “I don’t want you to—just call my wife and tell her I’m here, I’m alive. That’s it.” She say, “I can’t do it.” And we—I’m talking about we’re in Baton Rouge, and I know—I heard people making calls from there. Just for us, she said, “The phone broken.” Never let us—you know, every time call for phone.

After three weeks, gave us chance to make phone call, and when I go to make the call, because only number I have, my wife’s cell phone—I don’t know where she is. The number she’s staying, the land phone, I don’t have the number, because I left it on the table in the house where I used to be. And he gave me one chance to make phone call, and we can’t call a cell phone. We have to be land phone. And I come back with empty-handed.

AMY GOODMAN: But this man did make the call to Kathy?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: No, this man—yeah, this man, when he passed by, and, you know, I just—this guy, you know, giving religious advice and things, and I asked him if he can do this call for me. He say, “OK,” and he writes the number. And, I mean, I’ve been trying everybody. I mean, I give up. Just, I keep trying. And he did. And days later, when the government official come and interview us, and he asked me if I need any help. Well, even I don’t want him to take me out, I don’t ask him to get me outside, I just go, “Call my wife.” I mean, he’s—I mean, if he want to take me out, I’m sure he can, because this is, you know, one from high position, officer. And all I ask him, just—because I know if I get out, nothing to do. All I need is to my wife to know I’m safe.

AMY GOODMAN: Kathy, when you got that call—Kathy, when you got that call, what did it mean to you? And how did you begin to track down your husband? You didn’t still—you didn’t know where he was.

KATHY ZEITOUN: No, I didn’t know where he was at the time. When I got the phone call, it was a big relief. I didn’t want to let the man off the telephone, to be honest. I tried to hold him as much as I can, ask him as many questions as I could. But in reality, I think we were only on the phone for like a few minutes. And he told me, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to work itself out, and most likely the charges are going to be dropped.” But not too long after that, Homeland Security called me, as well, and told me, “Look, your husband is here. Don’t worry. The charges are going to be dropped. We have no interest in him. We’ve never had any interest in him. And don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine soon. You know, just all the charges are going to be dropped. Don’t worry. He’s here.”

As soon as I found out where he was, I called the lawyer, Raleigh Ohlmeyer. And we started trying to track him down. You know, it was really hard to track him down, even though we knew where he was, because they didn’t have the names of the people in a computer. It was just on a piece of paper on the side of a desk or in a file. It wasn’t—I mean, I would call the prison and try to find out what kind of rights I would have. They’d say, “He’s not our prisoner.” So, I guess because he wasn’t their prisoner, FEMA was paying them to keep him there. He did not have the same rights as everybody else had. He didn’t have the right to the phone call or medical or visitation or proper eating. So it’s really sad that the system shut itself down so bad at this time of need.

AMY GOODMAN: And Kathy, your feelings today, after having gone through this experience, from your husband being considered an American hero for so many to being called a terrorist and being imprisoned? That’s five years ago. This is today. How do you feel?

KATHY ZEITOUN: Well, we don’t feel that he’s actually a hero. We just feel that he’s a man who was at the right place at the right time who did the right thing. As far as what happened to him, it’s very disappointing, and it’s very sad, you know? But things happen and, God willing, people will learn from them. And hopefully these mistakes won’t happen again.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you suing?

KATHY ZEITOUN: We are. From the beginning. Because I was so angry. I was—I can’t describe the feelings that I had. And again, I thought it was revenge that I wanted, but it really wasn’t revenge. It was justice. But I think we’re at peace with it now. I think—I’m not angry anymore about it. And we still don’t know what’s going to happen with the lawsuit anyway. I know they threw it out one time, and it was brought back in. I mean, they could still throw it out. Who knows? We don’t know what’s going to happen with it. It’s just sitting there, just like my husband did.

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: The main reason the story got out, because our lawyer, because he wanted her—


ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: —to put everything on paper.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you hope to accomplish with the lawsuit?

KATHY ZEITOUN: Well, I think some things have already been accomplished, thank God. I think they learned their mistakes from Katrina. I saw that with Gustav. They did things a lot of differently—a lot differently, actually. I would hope that they wouldn’t stereotype as bad. I think there was a lot of stereotyping, intentionally or not, unfortunately. It did happen. And I say this because my husband was at this house, our house, and he was arrested, and our neighbor across the street, who was at his house, he was picked up and sent to a different place, wherever he wanted to go. So, unfortunately, there was a lot of stereotyping, and I hope that they learned their lessons, at least from this story, that—you know, don’t judge somebody just by appearance.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Zeitoun, has it shaken your faith in America?

ABDULRAHMAN ZEITOUN: Not—I mean, the life, I think, moving forward, because now the life getting better. Now we have—we see a lot of improvement in the city. And the children—I mean, for me, like myself, I like to forget all about it now. I keep look for in the future to—with a smile, because—I mean, and the past doesn’t take us anywhere. We should just go ahead, focus about rebuild, do right things and build relationship with everybody else, especially with—we have a new—a lot of new people in the city. And we have some—I mean, most of the original people back. We have, like now, in my neighborhood, we have plenty new neighbors, we have the original neighbors. We back together, and everything go back close to normal.

AMY GOODMAN: Abdulrahaman and Kathy Zeitoun, speaking to us from New Orleans. When we come back from break, we’ll return to Dave Eggers, the celebrated writer who chronicled their story in his latest book Zeitoun. It just won the American Book Award. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: We return now to our global broadcast exclusive. We go back now to writer Dave Eggers, whose nonfiction work Zeitoun tells the story of Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina five years ago—Zeitoun going from American hero to terrorist in the eyes of the US authorities. I spoke to Eggers Thursday and asked him to describe the conditions under which Abdulrahman Zeitoun was held when he was arrested in New Orleans in the aftermath of the storm.

DAVE EGGERS: The prison had been erected by trustees of Angola, and the guards were manning it along with it being a home base for a lot of National Guardsmen. And so, once they were handed off, that was the last the arresting officers saw of them. And then they were in the hands of this whole other body that took a look at—our assumption is that they took a look at the last names and origins of Nasser and Zeitoun, in particular, and thought, “Huh, we might have something really interesting on our hands.” And so, that’s when there were visited by Homeland Security representatives, and that’s when they had a very strange circumstance where another man was put in their cage and sort of—in an attempt, Zeitoun believes, to get them talking, would try to provoke them with anti-American rhetoric. It was very strange.

But I think that this—again, the successive nature of handing them off from one body to the next, and once they were put on a bus and sent to Hunt Correctional Facility, then they were lost even deeper in the system. No one was really tracking them and others, because very good record keeping was not being kept. And they weren’t subject to the same rights of prisoners at Hunt, who had been processed adequately.

And so—and I think that, you know, you take a lot of National Guardsmen, many of whom—and military personnel—many of whom had been in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of whom were believing the hype, that the city was out of control and that they were entering a war zone. And it’s no wonder that they would say to Zeitoun and Nasser, “You guys are al-Qaeda, you guys are Taliban,” and suspect them. And I think that that climate right then was very troubling, and so it led to this military solution to a humanitarian problem. And I think that there was paranoia in the air that didn’t serve anybody very well. And Ralph Gonzales, one of the arresting officers from New Mexico, told me—he said he had been led to believe that they were entering a war zone and that what they were sent there to do, fully armed with machine guns and body armor and, you know, armed to the teeth, was an operation for command and control. But what they found, within hours of landing in the city, was that they were needed mostly for search and rescue. And so, I think that as much as so many agencies tried to do their best, I think that the climate and the misinformation and the misplaced priorities led to some very unfortunate results.

AMY GOODMAN: Zeitoun got very sick in the jail and in the prison.

DAVE EGGERS: Yeah, you know, first he had, you know, a very bad cut on his foot, and it was getting infected while he was at Camp Greyhound. And here’s a guy—he’s old school. He’s incredibly resilient. He’s not one to complain about an injury. But he couldn’t get help. Doctors would go to and fro, and they wouldn’t stop to help him. And then, once he was at Hunt, he couldn’t get any help at all, and he was—he felt like he had an incredible pain in his side that was eating away at him, and he didn’t know what it was. And so—but, of course, he got no medical attention there. And, you know, again, he was left there to think, because nothing was improving, he had no reason to believe that he might ever be released. If you haven’t gotten adequate legal representation and you’re not able to contact your family, what reason does he have to believe that he will ever get out? And I think a lot of the prisoners that did Katrina time were in the same circumstance, where none of the rights that we expect were there. And it turned into a Kafkaesque situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Eggers, when Kathy finally learned that he was alive and then started to make calls and even had a lawyer and even knew he was at Hunt, but told he wasn’t, how long was that time, from when he had been picked up, September 6th, to when he was finally released?

DAVE EGGERS: It was three weeks before she heard from him. That was when the missionary who Zeitoun had given his phone number to called Kathy. And that’s when she first knew that he was even was alive. And what was interesting was that, even then, it was extremely difficult to extract him from Hunt. And it was only because they had means to hire a private lawyer, they had a property that they could put up against the bail and—because they had set bail for all of those charged after Katrina with minor offenses—looting or, you know, stealing a sausage in one case—the bail was astronomical in some cases, $100,000 for stealing a small piece of food. And so, this was the case with Zeitoun, too. The bail was, I think, about $100,000. And so they had to put up their office building as collateral to get him out. And even then, when there was a court hearing finally set, Kathy wasn’t told where it was, couldn’t find where the courthouse was, where they were holding these hearings. And when she called to find out, they told her that she couldn’t be told where the court hearing would be, that that was, quote-unquote, “private information.”

And iIt’s interesting that what Kathy says is that after all of this and all that she went through, it was that moment that really broke her, that she knew that her husband was alive, finally, and all she wanted to do was reach him and be able to see him again. And that’s when, even then, the bureaucracy and this sort of humanity and this callousness sort of prevented her from doing so, and that they wouldn’t even tell her where he was, you know, where the trial would be held. And so, I think—you know, I do hope that everybody learned something from this. But I think it’s a lesson in how sort of everyday inhumanity or everyday—you know, what might seem like small abuses of power or the lack of recognition of our common humanity can cause incredible suffering.

AMY GOODMAN: How is it that Todd Gambino and Nasser ended up in prison for so many more months, up to, in Todd’s case, a year?

DAVE EGGERS: They didn’t have the—they and hundreds of others didn’t have the money to hire private lawyers. And without that, they didn’t have a prayer. There were a lot of really great public defenders who took it upon themselves to search out these prisoners who were lost in the system and to try to track them and find out what they were charged with and give them representation, but that took many, many months to sort out. And the Zeitouns did what they could for their friends, but it was—you know, there’s only so much that you can do, and there were so many others that wee in the same situation. So, you know, Todd is out now, and he’s doing fine. He’s actually working in a shallow oil rig off the Gulf, just work that he had done before. And Nasser went back to Syria. And it’s a shame, but there are hundreds of other stories like it.

AMY GOODMAN: And now, the lawsuit, to—as Kathy said, to bring some kind of justice to stop this from happening again.

DAVE EGGERS: Well, what one lawyer said was that they had better get in line. There are thousands of civil suits against the city, the state, FEMA, Homeland Security, government. And there isn’t a whole lot of movement with any of these civil suits. The most famous among them is the case of the two men who were shot on the Danziger Bridge and the officers who are being held responsible for that. Obviously that case is moving forward on both levels, on a criminal level and a civil level, but I don’t think—I don’t have—I’m not holding my breath that the rest of these civil cases are going to result in compensation or any sort of, you know, satisfaction anytime soon.

I think that the Zeitouns have put it behind them, and I think that telling their story created, I think, a sense of peace and closure, if you will, and also the fact that, you know, they helped create the Zeitoun Foundation, which has been able to give grants to a number of nonprofits all over New Orleans that, like themselves, are helping rebuild the city. And I think that that gives them some sense of wholeness, too. And so—but the civil suit, I think we could find ourselves ten years from now saying the same, and it would not have moved a great deal. But I know that Kathy, especially, wanted to do it as a gesture just to make sure that this wasn’t forgotten.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Eggers, you certainly will ensure that this story is not only not forgotten, but is learned about, is read, all over the world, both with Zeitoun and also with Voice of Witness. I’m wondering, as we conclude—we’ll lose the satellite in a minute—how you fit the story of Zeitoun, of the Zeitouns, into all your Voice of Witness series—Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives, Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan, and, of course, what we’re talking about today on this fifth anniversary, Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath.

DAVE EGGERS: Well, I think—I just believe in the right of people and, I think, the need for people to be able to be heard. I think that what we found with Voice of Witness is, again and again, when you give the opportunity to people to tell their story from beginning to end, from—we ask them, “Where were you born? What were you like as a child? Who were your friends? What was your family like? What was your home life like?” We go all the way from birth to where they are now. And I think that when you give people control over their story a bit and you give them a sense of ownership over their story, and that we’re not going to publish it until you’ve approved of every word and make sure that it’s completely accurate and that we fact-checked it independently, I think that, again and again, you find people that have been victimized and who have, you know, suffered a good deal—when finally they can get their story on paper, on the record, completely right, I think that there is an incredible sense of relief that comes to them. That’s what we—our narrators tell us again and again. It’s like finally this burden that they’ve felt for so long, this story that they’ve carried around, is finally out there. And maybe those who are responsible for this might be less likely to do it again, or the system that’s responsible might be closer to being corrected or addressed, because they spoke up.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun. It just won the American Book Award. He’s also founder of the independent publishing house and literary journal, McSweeney’s. The book is being adapted into an animated movie, directed by Jonathan Demme next year. On Monday, we’ll continue in New Orleans to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.