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Archive for April 1st, 2011|Daily archive page

Spiegel TV: “Kill Team” Documentary (2011)

In Afghanistan, Archive, Military, USA on April 1, 2011 at 8:19 PM

For months, the US Army kept the images compiled by the so-called “kill team” under lock and key out of fear it could result in a scandal even greater than Abu Ghraib. SPIEGEL TV spent weeks researching the story behind the men of 5th Stryker Brigade and how things could go so terribly wrong. Warning: The documentary contains extremely graphic content.

Watch Part 1 / Part 2


When Justin Stoner returned to Forward Operating Base Ramrod, hoping to settle into his room and get some rest, he could recognize the smell right away: hashish. Time and time again, he had asked his roommate in this remote outpost in Afghanistan not to do drugs, at least not in their room.

But this time Stoner had had enough. As he filed the complaint with his superior, he knew it would result in serious trouble. When, almost as an aside, he mentioned that his pot-smoking comrades would take revenge, and that they were capable and guilty of much more than smoking hashish, he set in motion an investigation that would lead to what would become the US Army’s next Abu Ghraib.

Weeks later, the Army arrested 12 men, some of whom would speak openly to investigators about their so-called ” kill team,” an inner circle of soldiers belonging to the 5th Stryker Brigade out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington. Their alleged leader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, is supposed to have instigated the murder of innocent civilians and to have collected fingers he cut off of the hands of dead Afghans as trophies.

As horrifying as it is, the Army was almost more worried about something else: The men of FOB Ramrod had been documenting their exploits and had taken thousands of pictures, including many of dead Afghans, as well as videos of legitimate but highly graphic engagements. Most troubling was the fact that they had posed with the dead, smiling and holding up their heads like hunters proud of their “kill.”

For months, the US Army has kept these troubling documents under lock and key. SPIEGEL TV’s Karin Assmann spent weeks alongside her colleagues from SPIEGEL magazine researching the story behind the men of the 5th Stryker Brigade, exploring why they had gone so horribly off course. In her film, Assmann documents the young soldiers’ transformation. She speaks with family members and tells the mens’ stories with the help of their video-taped interrogations and the use of hundreds of pages of internal files. Assmann reconstructs two of the three alleged murders using the very photos that the US Army has tried to suppress.

Related Links:

Der Spiegel Releases U.S. Army “Kill Team” Photos from Afghanistan

Rolling Stone Releases More U.S. Army “Kill Team” Photos & Videos from Afghanistan

Lawsuit Forces FED to Release Documents

In News, NWO, Other Leaks, Wall Street on April 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM

A lawsuit filed by the Fox Business Network and Bloomberg News has forced the Federal Reserve Bank to give up details about which banks borrowed billions from the government during the financial crisis.


A massive cache of documents released by the Federal Reserve Thursday reveals that banks from every corner of the globe, large and small, turned to the U.S. government’s emergency bailout program for help as the credit crisis exploded in late 2008.

In addition to global banking giants such as Bank of New York Mellon (BK: 30.46, +0.59, +1.98%) and Morgan Stanley (MS: 27.42, +0.10, +0.37%), the documents show numerous, small regional banks tapped the Fed’s discount window, especially banks from areas hard hit by collapsing real estate markets, such as California.

Dexia, Erste Group and Depfa, were among the foreign banks that turned to the Fed as credit markets dried up and banks had no other alternative but to seek U.S. government bailout dollars.

Other big foreign borrowers were Norinchukin Bank of Japan, Bank of Scotland, and Germany’s Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg and France’s Societe Generale.

The Fed released the trove of information after a lengthy court battle initiated by media outlets including FOX Business, which sought the data under the Freedom of Information Act.

In 2008, as the financial crisis was gaining steam and many banks were bleeding money as a result of vast investments in toxic subprime loans, the U.S. government agreed to a series of emergency measures designed to bail out faltering banks by providing loans through the Fed’s discount window, often referred to as the lender of last resort.

According to the documents released Thursday, the peak for lending was Oct. 29, 2008, with $111 billion in discount-window borrowing. About $50 billion of that day went to Dexia and Depfa.

FOX Business initially sought information on the use of the bailout funds for American International Group (AIG: 35.18, +0.04, +0.11%) and the Bank of New York Mellon, and later sought similar data on the bailout funds for Citigroup Inc (C: 4.48, +0.06, +1.24%).

FOX Business asked the Treasury Department to identify, among other issues, the troubled assets purchased by the government, any collateral extended by the banks, and any restrictions placed on these financial institutions for their participation in this program.

But the Fed refused to name banks that borrowed funds through the discount window or provide any other information related to the emergency programs for fear there would be a run on banks tied to bailouts.

FOX Business and Bloomberg News subsequently argued in lawsuits that the public had a right to know where the money went and how much was borrowed.

Sifting through the documents one broad theme emerges: all the large banks used the discount window to some extent, though the use of this so-called lender of last resort was generally a small part of their total emergency borrowing through other Fed programs. Goldman Sachs, for instance, tapped the window for $50 million, a tiny amount for a firm that size.

In some cases, the documents reveal a bank failure occurring in real time. Washington Mutual, for instance, started borrowing from the discount window on Sept. 18, 2008, with an initial loan of $2 billion. But it then borrowed another $2 billion every night until Sept. 25, when JPMorgan bought it.

Discussing the rationale for withholding the information, Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida, said the Fed in late 2008, as it was lending money to desperate banks, feared “a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“The Fed was legitimately concerned if it revealed which banks were having trouble it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy and a death-knell for those banks,” he said.

In effect, he said, if investors or depositors think there’s going to be a bank run the chances are good there will be a bank run.

On the other hand, the secrecy surrounding the Fed’s discount window flies in the face of other U.S. securities laws, namely the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “mandate that all material information should be disclosed to investors for publicly traded corporations,” said Ritter.

The FOIA complaint was filed by FOX News Network, LLC, as owner of FOX Business.

Kevin Magee, Executive Vice President of FOX Business Network, said at the time, “The Treasury has repeatedly ignored our requests for information on how the government is allocating money to these troubled institutions. In a critical time like this amidst mounting corruption and an economic crisis, we as a news organization feel it’s more important than ever to hold the government accountable.”

In early 2009, a federal judge ordered the release of some documents from Treasury. Much of the information contained in the documents was redacted, leaving thousands of blank documents, whited-out sentences and page after page of little more than lists of email recipients, senders and subject lines.

Meanwhile, Treasury was still able to file what’s known as a Vaughan index, which allowed it to hold back some information. Citing attorney-client privilege, the government held back a lot. That’s the material now being released.

Courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of FOX Business. In separate rulings, federal judges said Congress rather than the Fed should decide whether withholding the information best serves the national interest.

Despite the court victories, release of the material provided on Thursday had been held up on appeal. Specifically, a trade group called the Clearing House Association [CHA], which represents some of the biggest U.S. banks, had sought recently to have the case heard by the Supreme Court.

The CHA argued in its court filing that the Fed has never revealed the identities of borrowers from its discount window, the lending facility where banks get short-term funding and the source of the 2008 emergency loans.

But the Supreme Court ruled last week that it would not hear the case, forcing the release of the information by the Fed. The Fed, essentially conceding the battle to the media outlets, did not join the appeal by the CHA.

In an unrelated FOIA battle, FOX Business fought successfully last year for the repeal of a measure included in the recent financial reform bill that made it easier for the Securities and Exchange Commission to withhold information from the public. President Obama repealed the controversial provision in October following bi-partisan criticism of its inclusion in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill.

While that same bill has forced the Fed to increase its transparency, one area had been isolated for continued secrecy – the Fed discount window. Thursday’s release gives the public access to that information.

Steven G. Mintz, who has argued several FOIA cases on behalf of Fox Business, said earlier this week in response to the Fed’s release of the material, “It’s been a long time coming. I am very pleased that the American public will finally be able to learn who borrowed money from the Fed discount window during the financial crisis.”

Congressman Ron Paul discusses the documents the FED released by court order today.


Related Links:

FCIC Report Says Financial Crisis Was Avoidable and Warnings Were Ignored

Inside Job (2010)

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?

Violence Erupts In Ivory Coast Over Disputed Presidency

In Ivory Coast, World Revolution on April 1, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Violence erupted in Ivory Coast as fighters supporting Alassane Ouattara captured several cities and moved on Abidjan, the last major stronghold of Laurent Gbagbo. Ouattara and incumbent President Gbagbo have battled since Oauttara decisively won the November election, but Gbagbo has refused to concede. Margaret Warner reports.


Forces loyal to democratically elected president Alassane Ouattara are pressing into Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, in a bid to wrest control of the country from incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to relinquish his post.

Ouattara said in a televised speech Thursday that his forces are working to “reestablish democracy and to ensure that the people’s vote is respected.”

But one of Gbagbo’s advisers said he would not resign: “He will not resign in the wake of this attack. He is not going to abdicate. He is not going to lay down his arms. He will stay in power to lead the resistance to this attack against Ivory Coast,” said Toussaint Alain in Paris, according to the Associated Press.

Adding international pressure, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Gbagbo, his wife and three close associates.

According to the United Nations, at least 462 people have been killed since Gbagbo refused to cede power after the majority of voters in November chose Ouattara as their next leader.

Meanwhile, Gen. Edouard Kassarate, who is in charge of the country’s police, has defected, and army chief Phillippe Mangou has taken refuge in the South African ambassador’s residence in Abidjan, reported the Christian Science Monitor.

In addition to moving into Abidjan, forces supporting Ouattara, who call themselves the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, have taken control of the key port city of San Pedro and the nation’s capital, Yamoussoukro.

An eyewitness, long-time Abidjan resident Nfor Susungi, reported hearing heavy gunfire in distant parts of the city and in other places seeing oddly quiet streets, according to the BBC.

Related Link: Ivory Coast Violence Leaves 800 Dead in 1 Day

What Does Your TV Know About You?

In News, NWO, Science & Technology on April 1, 2011 at 9:37 AM

As you watch TV, the TV is watching you. Advertisers are using technology to track what we like, and don’t like, and applying it to commercials. Deborah Feyerick explains how.

DOJ Starts Investigation Into Seattle Police Brutality

In News, NWO on April 1, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Federal officials today announced that the Department of Justice will conduct a comprehensive investigation into allegations of excessive use of force and discriminatory policing by members of the Seattle Police Department.


Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington, made the following statement in response.

“We’re pleased by this news. The ACLU and 34 community organizations requested such an investigation in hopes that a fresh set of eyes will improve policing in Seattle. With its expertise and experience, the Department of Justice should be able to provide some useful recommendations for curtailing the troubling uses of force we’ve seen. We appreciate that city of Seattle and police leaders have taken a cooperative attitude toward the DOJ and expect something good to come from its involvement with Seattle.”

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