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Fleeing wrath of vicious cartels, record-breaking numbers of Mexicans seek political asylum in the...
Members of the Mexican Navy patrol a highway in the Mexico State, near the capital Toluca, January 29, 2013.
Mexico has scrambled military forces into areas near its capital to counter crime and drug cartels as the government stems violence across the country.
Around 50 marines and police officers supervised a checkpoint merely two hours away from Mexico City to check vehicles for drugs or weapons, AFP reported on Wednesday.
Despite the military occupation in the Greater Mexico City, having a population of over 20 million people, people welcome the policing presence.
"It is really good that you are doing this operation. We really needed this," a man with a wife and a baby told a marine armed with an M16 rifle as officers sifted through their taxi outside Toluca, the capital of Mexico State.
Authorities launched Operation Armor last week, where the government deployed 3,000 police officers, marines and soldiers in the Mexico State.
A recent battle between the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana and rival gang Guerreros Unidos in the area has pushed the state to enforce the counter action.
“The federal and state authorities acted rapidly and we will definitely prevent the state from being a place that criminal gangs or organized crime fight over,” Mexico State Governor Eruviel Avila Villegas said referring to the gang violence that he called a “sporadic” event.
Since mid-December the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto has taken a harder stance against crime and drug cartels across the country after introducing the creation of a 10,000-strong national police force.
Since election in July 2012, Pena Nieto has been using the Mexican military to stage security operations until he has put the new national police force into action.
Dismantling Power: The Zapatista Indigenous Presidential Candidate's Vision to Transform Mexico from Below
Peanut allergy associated with vaccinations leads to profit for patch-peddling pharmaceutical company
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink: Britain’s Defence Secretary...
Poisoned, Marginalised, Bankrupt and Dead: The Role of Agroecology in Resisting the Corporate Stranglehold...
“Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies.”
“It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward… Whatever their [farmers’] choice is… they must be allowed to make that decision… That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under?”
“Anyone who’s seen the recent virally circulated Venn diagrams of the personnel overlap between Monsanto and USDA personnel, or Pfizer and FDA, will immediately know what I’m talking about… A model of capitalism in which the commanding heights of the economy are an interlocking directorate of large corporations and government agencies, a major share of the total operating costs of the dominant firms are socialized (and profits privatized, of course), and “intellectual property” protectionism and other regulatory cartels allow bureaucratic corporate dinosaurs… to operate profitably without fear of competition." Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society.
The story goes like this: India is an economic miracle, a powerhouse of growth. It is a nation that increasingly embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship. And the proof? Until recently, India had year on year 9% GDP growth (or thereabouts).
“We don’t think how our farmers on whose toil we feed manage to sustain themselves; we fail to see how the millions of the poor survive. We look at the state-of-the-art airports, IITs, highways and bridges, the inevitable necessities for the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere and thrive, depriving the ordinary people of even the basic necessities of life and believe it is development.” – Sukumaran CV
“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades. And they are doing deliberately because the World Bank and big business have given the message that this is the only way to grow economically… Sixty percent of the population lives in the villages or in the rural areas and is involved in agriculture, and less than two percent of the annual budget goes to agriculture… When you are not investing in agriculture, you think it is economically backwards, not performing. You are not wanting it to perform. You are ensuring that the price they get today under the MSP (Minimum Support Price) has also being withdrawn. Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… Twenty-five crore people in this country are agricultural landless workers. If we give these people land, these people are also start-ups, these people are also entrepreneurs... But you are only giving these conditions to industry... agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”
“When we talk about budgets, it’s going to be populism or reforms. What is reforms? … if you don’t give anything to industry, they call it ‘policy paralysis’. But if you give them all kinds of dole then they think it is growth, they think it is a dream budget. In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions. Where are the jobs? They just created 1.5 crore jobs in the last ten years. Where are the exports? ... The only sector that has performed very well in this country is agriculture. Year after year we are having a bumper harvest. Why can’t we strengthen that sector and stop the population shift from the villages… Why do you want to move the population just because Western economists told us we should follow them. Why? Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?”
“In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.”
“If we grow millets and pulses, we will have more nutrition per capita. If we grow food by using chemicals, we are growing monocultures — this means that we will have less nutrition per acre, per capita… The agrarian crisis, the food crisis and the nutrition and health crisis are intimately connected. They need to be addressed together. The objective of agriculture policy cannot be based on promoting industrial processing of food. The chemicalisation of agriculture and food are recipes for “denutrification”… The Green Revolution displaced pulses, an important source of proteins, as well as oilseeds, thus reducing nutrition per acre. Monocultures do not produce more food and nutrition. They take up more chemicals and fossil fuels, and hence are profitable for agrochemical companies and oil companies. They produce higher yields of individual commodities but a lower output of food and nutrition.” (See here, ‘The Real Hunger Games’)
Prior to the recent national elections in
“Repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Indigenous communities have been displaced and reduced to living on the capital's rubbish dumps. This is a crime that we can rightly call genocide - the extinguishment of entire Peoples, their culture, their way of life and their environment.” (19)
War, Economic Catastrophe and Environmental Degradation. Under the Guise of Progress and Development
Have you ever mourned for America? All over this country, there are tens of millions of Americans that still deeply love the United States and that are deeply saddened by how far this nation has fallen. Recently, I posted an article comparing the America of the 1970s to the America of today, and it [...]
How would you feel if you found out that heroin was being sold in broad daylight in front of the school that your child was attending? Well, that is precisely what is happening up in Detroit. When one of my readers told me that heroin was being sold directly in front of the high school [...]
By Susan Duclos
Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Brownsville, Texas dropped a massive bombshell on the Obama administration saying the admin's immigration policies are "completing the criminal mission" of human traffickers "who are violating the border security of the United States" and assisting a “criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals."
Furthermore the judge called the Obama administration's actions "criminal and unconscionable."
Direct quotes from the ruling in U.S. v. Nava-Martinez, which will be embedded below, accusing the Obama administration of aiding and abetting human traffickers, includes:
"By fostering an atmosphere whereby illegal aliens are encouraged to pay human smugglers for further services, the Government is not only allowing then to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels, but is also inspiring them to do so."
"The DHS should enforce the laws of the United States -- not break them."
Below is the news report on this ruling and beneath that is the short ruling that should be read in full to see the extent of condemnation the judge delivered to the Obama administration policies.
Judge Hanen Order on Child Smuggling-1 uploaded by Susan Duclos
Cross posted at Before It's News
Global Research and Countercurrents 30/10/2013
Back in 2008, Indian finance minister P. Chidambaram claimed that his government’s policies were pro growth and pro equity (1). He blamed an inept system of administering benefits to the poor for the low rate of ‘inclusive growth’. He also talked of the goal of alleviating poverty ‘in our lifetime’. What’s more, the type of development being pursued was deemed to be more or less correct and adverse effects were mainly due to lax application of laws, public officials dragging their feet over changes and misplaced fear about policies causing poverty, not alleviating it.
“… We are therefore committed to resist patents on seeds and life forms promoted by the TRIPS agreement of WTO which lead to the privatization of biodiversity and piracy of traditional knowledge… We are committed to promoting alternatives to non-sustainable agricultural technologies based on toxic chemicals and genetic engineering. We are committed to changing the rules of unfair trade force on small peasants through the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which are leading to destitution, debt and farmers suicides … Our mission is to promote organic fair trade, based on fairness to the earth and all her species, fairness to producers and fairness to consumers. We will... create another food culture, which respects diversity, local production and food quality… we are committed to creating a future of food and agriculture in which small farmers prosper and biodiversity and cultural diversity thrives… Biodiverse small organic farms increase productivity, improve rural incomes and strengthen ecological security. Large-scale industrial monocultures displace and dispossess small farmers and peasants, destroy the environment and create malnutrition and public health hazards. Our mission is to provide alternatives to a global food system, which is denying one billion people access to food and denying another 1.7 billion the right to healthy food, as they become victims of obesity and related diseases. Our mission is to provide “good food for all” through the promotion of biodiverse organic farming, food literacy and fair trade.” Navdanya Mission Statement (http://www.navdanya.org/
Oct. 17, 2013
CBS News has learned of a shocking link between a deadly drug cartel shootout with Mexican police last week and a controversial case in the U.S. The link is one of the grenades used in the violent fight, which killed three policemen and four cartel members and was captured on video by residents in the area.
According to a Justice Department “Significant Incident Report” filed Tuesday and obtained by CBS News, evidence connects one of the grenades to Jean Baptiste Kingery, an alleged firearms trafficker U.S. officials allowed to operate for years without arresting despite significant evidence that he was moving massive amounts of grenade parts and ammunition to Mexico’s ruthless drug cartels.
The gun battle took place last week in Guadalajara. Authorities say five members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used at least nine firearms and ten hand grenades against Mexican police. If one of the grenades was supplied with the help of Kingery, as believed, it adds to the toll of lives taken with weapons trafficked by suspects U.S. officials watched but did not stop.
This article was posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm
Countercurrents 28/8/2013 and Global Research 1/9/2013
"Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa." Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
|AP Photo/Narciso Contreras|
And here we go again. In
“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.” Oscar Wilde in ‘An Ideal Husband’.
Drip and drip again. It’s a walk through Triplicane. It’s a walk through the Triplicane and Royapettah areas of Chennai in July. It’s hot here. It’s always hot here. Watch your back. Watch your front. And, by the way, watch your side as well. Those mopeds, those scooters, those autos, those guided missiles from all directions. Around here, you walk in the road. Around here, city planners didn’t plan for much.
Bilderberg agenda: Western political, corporate heavyweights to discuss future of Middle East and Africa
Effective Immediately: All Semi-Automatic Pistols Sold In California to Require “Micro Stamp” Ballistic Identification
Effective Immediately: All Semi-Automatic Pistols Sold In California to Require “Micro Stamp” Ballistic Identification
The real "takers" in America are the unproductive rich .
March 21, 2013 |
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You don’t have to be a Tea Party conservative to believe that the economy is threatened when there are too many “takers” and not enough “makers.” The “takers” who threaten the dynamism and fairness of industrial capitalism the most in the 21st century are not the welfare-dependent poor — the villains of Tea Party propaganda — but the rent-extracting, unproductive rich.
The term “rent” in this context refers to more than payments to your landlords. As Mike Konczal and many others have argued, profits should be distinguished from rents. “Profits” from the sale of goods or services in a free market are different from “rents” extracted from the public by monopolists in various kinds. Unlike profits, rents tend to be based on recurrent fees rather than sales to ever-changing consumers. While productive capitalists — “industrialists,” to use the old-fashioned term — need to be active and entrepreneurial in order to keep ahead of the competition, “rentiers” (the term for people whose income comes from rents, rather than profits) can enjoy a perpetual stream of income even if they are completely passive.
Rents come in as many kinds as there are rentier interests. Land or apartment or rental-house rents flow to landlords. Royalty payments for energy or mineral extraction flow to landowners. Interest payments on loans flow to bankers and other lenders. Royalty payments on patents and copyrights flow to inventors. Professions and guilds and unions can also extract rents from the rest of society, by creating artificial labor cartels to raise wages or professional fees. Tolls are rents paid to the owners of necessary transportation and communications infrastructure. Last but not least, taxes are rents paid to territorial governments for essential public services, including military and police protection.
All of these goods or services are necessary to make or distribute the goods and services generated by productive industry (which can be government-owned or nonprofit, as well as for-profit). If one or more of the sectors providing inputs or infrastructure to productive industry charges excessive rents, then industry can be strangled. Industry cannot flourish if too much rent is paid to landlords, if credit is too expensive, if excessive copyright protections stifle the diffusion of technology. Even progressives must concede that guilds or unions or professions can use the power of labor monopolies to demand excessive incomes for their members and that at some point high taxes really do strangle the economy. (The evidence of successful high-tax-big government countries like those of Scandinavia suggests that you can go safely up to about 40-50 percent of GDP going to government, assuming the taxes are well spent and raised largely by less-distortionary taxes including consumption, property and wealth taxes).
All of this suggests that, if we want a technology-driven, highly productive economy, we should encourage profit-making productive enterprises while cracking down on rent-extracting monopolies, whether they are natural products of geography and geology (real estate and energy and energy and mineral deposits) or artificial (chartered banks, professional licensing associations, labor unions, patents and copyrights). This is a valid distinction between “makers” and “takers.”
Unfortunately, with the exception of some leftist and liberal economic thinkers who distinguish “rentier capitalism” or “financial capitalism” from “industrial capitalism,” conventional political discourse doesn’t distinguish among profit-earning “makers” and rent-extracting “takers.” Many progressives and populists indiscriminately denounce “big business” and “the corporations” as though a productive consumer electronics manufacturer were no different than a company that monopolizes the tolls from a privatized municipal parking meter system. At the same time, the center-left, whose upscale supporters tend to be credentialed upper-middle-class professionals, tend to ignore the antisocial aspects of the rent-extracting schemes of the professional guilds — medicine, law and the professoriate — as well as of their elite accomplices, the credential-granting universities.
As the Eurozone financial crisis continues to plague the island nation of Cyprus, its citizens are receiving a crash course in how an out-of-control banking industry and its corrupt banksters can bring an entire economy to its knees.
The Cypriot economy has ground to a halt, thanks to massive losses that its oversized banking sector sustained from investments in Greece and a deep recession.
Banks in Cyprus have been shut all week, and are not due to reopen until next Tuesday at the earliest, to try to prevent a run on the banks.
When all is said and done, and if the Cypriot economy ever recovers from this financial collapse, Cypriots will hopefully have a new-found awareness of the banks, and implement better oversight and regulation over their financial industry.
That’s exactly what they did in Iceland, and its working wonders for the small island nation.
In 2008, when the global financial crisis began taking down economies one by one, Iceland was hit incredibly hard.
All three of the country’s major privately owned banks collapsed, and Iceland’s stock exchange, the OMX Iceland 15, plummeted. Pension funds were slashed, and businesses were wiped out.
Iceland could have responded to that financial crisis the same way that the United States did, and come up with a massive bailout package to save the banks, and let their crimes go unpunished.
Or, Iceland could arrest the banksters that brought down the economy, bail out those most affected by the collapse – the average Icelanders themselves – and begin to rebuild the financial industry.
Iceland chose the latter. Jail the bums.
In December of 2008, the Icelandic parliament passed a bill establishing an Office of the Special Prosecutor.
The job of this new office was to investigate suspected criminal conduct leading up to, in connection with, or in the wake of the banking crisis, and to follow up these investigations by bringing criminal charges against those responsible for the crisis.
Since the Office of the Special Prosecutor was created, Iceland has been rounding up their banksters one after another.
In March of 2011, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were arrested in London, as part of the Special Prosecutor’s Office investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing.
In December of last year, a Reykjavik court sentenced two of the top executives at Icelandic bank Glitnir to jail time.
And just yesterday, nine more banksters from the Iceland bank Kaupthing were indicted and charged for their roles in orchestrating five large-scale market manipulation conspiracies.
These are only a few of the arrests that have been made, as Iceland cleans up its banking industry, and holds its own corrupt banksters accountable for their actions in the 2008 financial collapse.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, the Wall Street banksters that brought our economy to its knees are still sitting pretty in their corner offices or retired with hundreds of millions of dollars of your money.
Just look at Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan.
In a recent report on JPMorgan’s monumental multi-billion dollar trading loss, Dimon is alleged to have criminally withheld from regulators key details about the bank’s daily losses.
And numerous other reports have suggested that Dimon may have been complicit in JPMorganChase engaging in additional criminal and/or unethical activity.
But Dimon and the rest of his fat-cat buddies are doing just fine today, continuing to rake in multi-million dollar bonuses or golden-parachute retirements.
And Dimon’s actions pale in comparison to executives at the HSBC bank, who recently admitted in court to allowing Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to launder nearly $900 million through their bank. If you'd done that, you'd be in jail for the rest of your life, but these are rich white banksters who give millions to politicians and political parties.
Executives of the banks also admitted to using various schemes to move around hundreds of millions of dollars to nations subject to trade sanction, including Iran, Cuba and Sudan. And, reports suggest that some of this money made its way into the hands of terrorist organizations. If you'd done that, you might be in Guantanamo. But, then again, you're not a bankster.
Despite these egregious criminal actions, the United States has yet to jail a single HSBC bankster.
So, what’s the bottom line to all of this?
Eventually, when Cyprus’ economy recovers, the Cypriot government will have a choice to make.
They can choose to let their banksters go free, and risk another financial meltdown like we in the United States have chosen to do. Or they can take the Icelandic approach, crack down on corruption in their financial industry, and prosecute and jail those responsible for causing and worsening the collapse.
At the start of the 2008 worldwide economic collapse, Iceland was in worse shape financially than just about every country in the world.
Today, Iceland is home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
They got from there to here by throwing their banksters in jail.
Hopefully Cyprus will take a page out of the Icelandic playbook, and lock-up the banksters.
And America should do the same thing, too!
Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,
What might happen: printing money and issuing propaganda lose their effectiveness.
We all know what's supposed to happen in the global economy: we get more of everything: more stuff manufactured, more coal dug up and burned, more "aggregate demand" i.e. insatiable desire for more of everything, more innovation, more wealth, more money printed, more debt taken on to buy more stuff and more education, more tourists occupying more beaches sipping more drinks, more strip malls built, more airports expanded, more jobs created, more taxes collected-- more "growth" of everything, in every way and every day.
Beneath this expansive more-of-everything splendor, the power structure is supposed to remain unchanged: a small political-financial Elite holds all the reins of power, a manufacturing-consent propaganda machine (a.k.a. mainstream media) persuades the masses all is well, wealth continues to accumulate in the top 1/10th of 1%, money is printed/created and distributed to the State-financial partnership's fiefdoms and cartels, moderate inflation eats away at the value of wages but makes debt cheaper to service, and the Upper Caste of technocrats continue their well-paid enabling of the Aristocracy's dominance.
The dream of tens of millions of young people is to join the Upper Caste of lackeys, factotums, toadies and apparatchiks serving the Aristocracy's cartels and fiefdoms.
In sum, the pie of wealth is supposed to expand so fast that the 10% left for the bottom 90% will be enough to satisfy their high expectations of endlessly rising prosperity.
That is Baseline Scenario #1: the Status Quo remains as it is, unchanged. This is what's supposed to happen as a result of central bank money-printing and central government borrowing and spending: the Status Quo of endless growth ruled by an Elite will continue on the same trendline it has traced since 1946: more growth, more financialization, more concentration of wealth and political power, more technological innovation, and so on.
Baseline Scenario #2 is the center cannot hold, and the Status Quo devolves.Those living through Scenario #2 will not notice any sudden changes; financial, political and geopolitical crises become the background noise to daily life.
The changes will be gradual and incremental: things will stop working as well, the homeless population will increase, stores will close, government offices will shorten their hours of operation, streets will remain unrepaired, hours will be cut, benefits will be trimmed, stadiums will no longer be filled during sporting events or musical extravaganzas.
There will be less of everything, not more, and a gradual but steady erosion of all "growth" baselines: fewer jobs, lower wages, fewer taxes collected, less profits, fewer retail outlets.
Faced with a shrinking pie to plunder and skim, the Aristocracy and its Upper Caste of technocrats will be forced to increase their share of the dwindling national surplus. Taxes and junk fees will rise, squeezing legitimate small enterprises into the informal economy, and the gulf between the Aristocracy/technocrat Upper Caste and the bottom 90% will widen: this can be characterized as the "third-worldization" of developed economies.
The disposable income of the top 10% will continue to rise, enabling them to retreat to the security of gated communities and luxury urban highrises, just like in Third-World megalopolises, while the gradual impoverishment of the bottom 90% erodes life outside the protected circles of the Elites and their well-paid worker-bees.
Anger and frustration rise, but food stamps, unemployment and transfer payments privatize the social mood: people are paid to stay home and watch TV or otherwise amuse themselves in political isolation. Nothing is sharp enough or drastic enough to spark a politically meaningful response. As long as the bread and circuses are ample, the masses are content to "get the best of what's still around" and go about their business without threatening the top 10%'s dominance of the national surplus.
Baseline Scenario #3 is something breaks: perhaps the trigger is a global credit event or a war, or perhaps it is the price of oil spiking on some disruption. The basic dynamic is this: increasingly fragile systems are increasingly vulnerable to sudden disruption and breakdown. On the surface, everything looks secure, until some event unleashes a cascade of unintended consequences.
The ultimate driver of Baseline Scenario #3 is diminishing returns: the political-financial Elite will respond as it did in 2008, by printing money to bail out banks and private cartels, by reassuring the masses via the propaganda mills, and so on, but these responses will have lost their initial effectiveness: the saturation of debt and propaganda will have reached 100%.
Printing more money and spewing more reassuring propaganda will no longer tamp down the crisis. Rather, the failure of these Status Quo responses will unleash an even more destabilizing crisis.
Baseline Scenario #3 will result when one of a network of highly interconnected systems breaks down, and all the other systems fall in a domino-like cascade of instability.
The key dynamic in Baseline Scenario #3 is the standard-issue official responses (print more money and issue more reassuring propaganda) will fail to stem the destabilization, and this failure will unleash an even larger wave of instability and breakdown.
Order will eventually be restored, but at a much lower level of wealth and prosperity. Baseline Scenario #3 will be replaced by Baseline Scenario #2--another period of erosion--until structural changes are allowed to reshape the political and financial landscape of power and wealth.
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In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder made an extraordinary admission.
Responding to questioning from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who noted that there had been no major prosecutions of financial institutions or executives by the Obama administration, Holder said: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them, when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute—if we do bring a criminal charge—it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy…”
In other words, major banks are so economically important that, according to Holder, it is impossible to prosecute them for criminal activity. They are above the law.
This exchange occurred during a discussion of the Justice Department’s settlement last month with British-based HSBC, the world’s third-largest bank. HSBC had been charged with laundering billions of dollars for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. In exchange for avoiding charges, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion, or roughly two months’ profits. Top US officials explicitly vetoed any criminal charges, even on lesser counts than money laundering.
HSBC is only the latest bank to have received a free pass. Earlier this year, ten financial firms agreed to pay $3.3 billion in cash to settle charges of mortgage fraud: amid the housing market collapse, they had employees fraudulently sign off on thousands of mortgage foreclosures a month.
Last year, the government ended an investigation into Goldman Sachs without charges over its promotion of mortgage-backed securities at the height of the speculative bubble—even as Goldman Sachs bet against the assets itself.
In 2010, the Obama administration reached a settlement with Wachovia Bank on similar charges as those brought against HSBC: laundering billions of dollars of drug money, in this case for the Sinaloa Cartel. The fine was $160 million, less than 2 percent of the previous year’s profits.
Many similar arrangements could be cited. In each case, a check is signed—if there is any punishment at all—and business goes on as usual. Whatever money the financial institutions lose is more than balanced by their take of the $85 billion funneled into the markets every month by the US Federal Reserve.
In justifying the administration’s refusal to prosecute, Holder cites the banks’ immense power over economic life. That these institutions exercise dictatorial control over the economy and engage in unchecked criminal behavior is not an argument for refusing to prosecute them, however. Rather, it is an argument for expropriating them, taking them out of the hands of the criminals that run them, and placing them under the democratic control of the working class.
In its dealings with these institutions, however, the government acts as a direct representative of the financial aristocracy. First Bush and then Obama justified the bank bailouts after the 2008 crash by citing the need to “save the economy.” Since then, millions of jobs have disappeared. To pay for such bank bailouts, governments around the world are implementing brutal austerity measures, wiping out public education, health care, retirement and other social programs.
A stench of corruption hangs over the whole process. There is hardly a single Obama administration official in a position important to the banks that does not have previous ties to Wall Street. These include:
Jacob Lew was confirmed this month by the Senate as Obama’s new treasury secretary. Lew, Obama’s former chief of staff, is also the former chief operating officer of Citigroup’s Alternative Investment Unit, which bet against the housing market as it collapsed.
Mary Jo White is Obama’s pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. White, who will likely be confirmed easily after hearings scheduled for today, is a former attorney at the corporate law firm Debevoise & Pimpleton, where she defended Wall Street banks and executives, often against investigations by the SEC itself.
Then there is the extraordinary case of David S. Cohen and Stuart Levey. As members of corporate law firm Miller Cassidy in the 1990s, they defended banks and other corporations from white-collar criminal charges, including money laundering. They passed in and out of the Treasury Department and private practice.
In 2004, Levey joined the Bush administration as undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, responsible for overseeing narcotics trafficking and money laundering. He left in March 2011 to become HSBC’s chief legal officer. His deputy at the treasury department, and his successor, was none other than David S. Cohen. The two ex-colleagues would have both been heavily involved in forging the recent deal to settle HSBC’s money-laundering charges.
No banks or executives are prosecuted, because the individuals who would do the prosecuting and the individuals who would be prosecuted are, more or less, the same people.
Holder made his statements on the banks at the same hearing in which he laid out the Obama administration’s position that it has the authority to assassinate citizens within the United States without judicial review.
The coming together of these two statements is not simply coincidental. There is a class logic at work. With the active assistance of the state, the financial aristocracy is engaged in a looting operation, and criminality has become an integral part of the mode of wealth accumulation.
Anticipating social opposition, this same aristocracy is engaged in a conspiracy against democratic rights. While the banks and executives cannot be touched, anyone opposing these policies will face repressive police-state methods.
The political and economic system is rotten to the core. The only rational and appropriate response to such a state of affairs is to overturn this system, capitalism, and institute a new form of social organization based on the principle of social need—that is, socialism.
The active involvement of the state and all its institutions and parties in the criminal operation makes clear that the interests of the working class cannot be advanced except through a mass social and political movement, which aims to replace the government of the banks with a government of, by and for the working class.
Americans have been waiting for a politician like Warren for nearly a century.
March 10, 2013 |
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Heavens to Betsy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren leapt from the gate of her first term pummeling Ben Bernanke on too-big-to-fail financial institutions. Then she demanded to know why American banks were never brought to trial. Finally, last Thursday, looking for all the world like a school principal called to sort out teenage hooligans, she queried regulators as to why HSBC bankers who launder money for drug lords and terrorists should go free. Quoth the senator:
"If you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're going to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”
Game on! Naturally, the left is swooning. Elizabeth Warren says what we all wish we could say to the besuited jerks who defend a crooked industry. Except, instead of snatching them by the lapels and screaming obscenities as we might do, Warren sits calmly and repeats her inimitably direct questions like a blond Terminator. The big banks and their lackeys can’t stand her, and it looks as if the feeling is mutual.
Americans love her because we have serious unfinished business with the banking industry. We remember how the White House chose to protect the bankers from the pitchforks in the wake of the financial crisis. We’ve gritted our teeth as bankers have charted a course to record-breaking profits as the rest of us slogged through a shitty economy.
Now it feels like the day we hoped for. The one the banking industry feared as it tried to thwart Warren's victory in 2013. There's a new sheriff in town, a real champion for the 99 percent who will not accept a two-tiered justice system and who dares look the criminal and the complicit in the eye. That Warren's showdown in the Senate Banking Committee corral came just a day after Attorney General Eric Holder fessed up to the fact that some banks are so big and powerful they are really above the law felt like balm on a freshly salted wound.
Economist Robert Johnson, executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, who served as chief economist to the Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of William Proxmire, praised Warren's resolve in an email to me: "Elizabeth Warren has chosen to do something novel as a US senator: represent the people. In our money-drenched political system that is akin to defying gravity. God bless Elizabeth Warren."
Warren is certainly making welcome noises in these early days of her tenure. She is breaking a taboo in speaking up so forcefully this early in the game, as newbie senators are generally expected to keep their heads down. Cynics cannot deny the fact that it actually matters tremendously that someone knowledgeable is at the table. If regulators know they'll be cross-examined by a person who knows what they're up to, they may think twice about what they're (not) doing. They can't completely ignore congressional pressure, particularly as Warren is a majority member of the Senate. On HSBC, unfortunately, the case is probably closed. But banks certainly hate the negative light Warren shined on them with her latest confrontation. And that's welcome news. This is not small potatoes.
However, Warren will need to follow up her tough talk with serious legislative proposals that she could build support for as she takes the lead on banking issues. As Yves Smith has pointed out on Naked Capitalism, the real test of her tough-mindedness “will come through the letters, speeches, and positions she takes on banking matters outside the formal Committee sessions."
Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the XIXth and XXth centuries, reappeared in the 1960’s during the decolonization period operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.
These non-state entities of the XXIst century operate in extremely blurred situations where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations recruiting former militaries as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.
However, these individuals cannot be considered as civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive/defensive to an active/offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law either, since they are not part of the army or in the chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.
PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.
Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally, with the mandate: “To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights (…) and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities”.
During the past five years, the Working Group has been studying emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding private military and security companies. In our reports we have informed the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly about these issues. Of particular importance are the reports of the Working Group to the last session of the Human Rights Council, held in September 2010, on the Mission to the United States of America (20 July to 3 August 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.3; on the Mission to Afghanistan (4-9 April 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.2, and the general report of the Working Group containing the Draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council, Document A/HRC/15/25.
In the course of our research, since 2006, we have collected ample information which indicate the negative impact of the activities of “private contractors”, “private soldiers” or “guns for hire”, whatever denomination we may choose to name the individuals employed by private military and security companies as civilians but in general heavily armed. In the cluster of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by employees of these companies, which the Working Group has examined one can find: summary executions, acts of torture, cases of arbitrary detention; of trafficking of persons; serious health damages caused by their activities; as well as attempts against the right of self-determination. It also appears that PMSCs, in their search for profit, neglect security and do not provide their employees with their basic rights, and often put their staff in situations of danger and vulnerability.
On 16 September 2007 in Baghdad, employees of the US-based firm Blackwater were involved in a shooting incident in Nisoor Square in which 17 civilians were killed and more than 20 other persons were wounded including women and children. Local eyewitness accounts indicate the use of arms from vehicles and rocket fire from a helicopter belonging to this company.
There are also concerns over the activities and approach of PMSC personnel, their convoys of armored vehicles and their conduct in traffic, in particular their use of lethal force. This particular incident was not the first of its kind, neither the first involving Blackwater.
According to a congressional report on the behaviour of Xe/Blackwater in Iraq, Xe/Blackwater guards were found to have been involved in nearly 200 escalation-of-force incidents that involved the firing of shots since 2005. Despite the terms of the contracts which provided that the company could engage only in defensive use of force, the company reported that in over 80 per cent of the shooting incidents, its forces fired the first shots.
In Najaf in April 2004 and on several other occasions, employees of this company took part in direct hostilities, as well as in May 2007, where another incident involving the same company reportedly occurred involving guards belonging to the company and forces belonging to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior allegedly exchanged gunfire in a sector of Baghdad.
Also in central Baghdad the shooting of employees of the PMSC, Unity Resources Group (URG), protecting a convoy, left two Armenian women, Genevia Antranick and Mary Awanis dead on 9 October 2007 when their car came too close to a protected convoy. The family of Genevia Antranick was offered no compensation and has begun court proceedings against URG in the United States.
This company was also involved in the shooting of 72-year-old Australian Kays Juma. Professor Juma was shot in March 2006 as he approached an intersection being blockaded for a convoy URG was protecting. Professor Juma, a 25-year resident of Baghdad who drove through the city every day, allegedly sped up his vehicle as he approached the guards and did not heed warnings to stop, including hand signals, flares, warning shots into the body of his car and floodlights. The incident occurred at 10am.
Two United States-based corporations, CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), were involved in the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. CACI and L-3 Services, contracted by the Government of the United States, were responsible for interrogation and translation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq.
Seventy two Iraqi citizens who were formerly detained at military prisons in Iraq, have sued L-3 Services, Inc. (“L-3”), a military private contractor which provided civilian translators for United States military forces in Iraq and Adel Nakhla, a former employee of L-3 who served as one of its translators there under the Alien Tort Statute. They allege having been tortured and physically and mentally abused during their detention and that they should be held liable in damages for their actions. The plaintiffs assert 20 causes of action, among which: torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress.
A number of reports indicate that private security guards have played central roles in some of the most sensitive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) such as the arbitrary detention and clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the involvement in CIA rendition flights as well as joint covert operations. Employees of PMSC would have been involved in the taking of detainees, from “pick up points” (such as Tuzla, Islamabad or Skopje) transporting them in rendition flights and delivering them to drop off points (such as Cairo, Rabat, Bucharest, Amman or Guantanamo) as well as in the construction, equipping and staffing of CIA’s “black sites”.
Within this context, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. (a subsidiary company of Boeing) on behalf of five persons who were kidnapped by the CIA disappearing in overseas prisons kept by USA secret services. Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support. The five persons were tortured during their arbitrary detention.
The 2009 annual report of DynCorp International refers to four lawsuits concerning the spraying of narcotic plant crops along the Colombian border adjacent to Ecuador on behalf of 3 Ecuadorian Providences and 3266 plaintiffs.
From 1991, the United States Department of State contracted the private company DynCorp to supply services for this air-spraying program against narcotics in the Andean region. In accordance with the subscribed contract of 30 January 1998, DynCorp provides the essential logistics to the anti-drug Office of activities of Colombia, in conformity with three main objectives: eradication of cultivations of illicit drugs, training of the army and of personnel of the country, and dismantling of illicit drug laboratories and illicit drug-trafficking networks.
An NGO report indicated the consequences of the spraying carried out within the Plan Colombia had on persons living in the frontier region. One third of the 47 women in the study exposed to the spraying showed cells with some genetic damage. The study established the relationship of the air fumigations of the Plan Colombia with damages in the genetic material. The study demonstrates that when the population is subjected to fumigations “the risk of cellular damage can increase and that, once permanent, the cases of cancerous mutations and important embryonic alterations are increased that prompt among other possibilities the rise in abortions in the area.
This example is particularly important given that Plan Colombia has served as the model for the arrangements that the United States would apply later to Iraq and Afghanistan. Plan Colombia provides immunity to the employees of the PMSC contracted (DynCorp) the same as Order 14 of the Coalition Provisional Authority did in Iraq.
The 2004 attempted coup d’état, which was perpetrated in Equatorial Guinea is a clear example of the link between the phenomenon of mercenaries and PMSCs as a means of violating the sovereignty of States. In this particular case, the mercenaries involved were mostly former directors and personnel of Executive Outcomes, a PMSC that had become famous for its operations in Angola and Sierra Leone. The team of mercenaries also included security guards who were still employed by PMSCs as was the case of two employees of the company Meteoric Tactical Systems providing security to diplomats of Western Embassies in Baghdad-among which to the Ambassador of Switzerland. It also included a security guard who had previously worked for the PMSC “Steele Foundation” and had given protection to President Aristide of Haiti and conducted him to the plane who took him to exile.
Trafficking in persons
In 2005, 105 Chileans were providing/or undergoing military training in the former army base of Lepaterique in Honduras. The instruction consisted in anti‐guerrilla tactics such as possible ambushes and deactivation of explosives and mortars how to avoid them. The Chileans had entered Honduras as tourists and were illegally in Honduras. They used high‐caliber weapons such as M‐16 rifles or light machine guns. They had been contracted by a subsidiary of Triple Canopy.
They were part of a group, which included also 189 Hondurans recruited and trained in Honduras. Triple Canopy had been awarded a contract by the United States Department of State. The strong contingent left the country by air from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in several groups with a stopover in Iceland. Then reached the Middle East and were smuggled into Iraq.
The majority of the Chileans and Hondurans were engaged as security guards at fixed facilities in Iraq. They had been contracted by Your Solutions Honduras SRL, a local agent of Your Solutions Incorporated, registered in Illinois, United States of America, which in turn had been subcontracted by Triple Canopy, based in Chicago, United States of America. Some of the Chileans are presently working in Baghdad providing security to the Embassy of Australia under a contract by Unity Resources Group (URG).
Human rights violations committed by PMSC to their employees
PMSC often put the contracted private guards in situations of danger and vulnerability, such as the ‘private contractors’ of Blackwater, killed in Fallujah in 2004 allegedly due to the lack of the necessary safety means that Blackwater was supposed to provide in order to carry out the mission.
It should not be forgotten that this incident changed dramatically the course of the war and the occupation by the United States in Iraq. It may be considered as the turning point in the occupation of Iraq. This led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city and a successful recapture operation in the city in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury, which resulted in the death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 America troops were killed, and 560 wounded.
The U.S. military first denied that it has use white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in Fallujah, but later retracted that denial, and admitted to using the incendiary in the city as an offensive weapon. Reports following the events of November 2004 have alleged war crimes, and a massacre by U.S. personnel, including indiscriminate violence against civilians and children.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah – cite_note-17 This point of view is presented in the 2005 documentary film, “Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre”. In 2010, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a leading medical journal, published a study, which shows that the rates of cancer, infant mortality and leukemia exceed those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The over 300 000 classified military documents made public by Wikileaks show that the “Use of Contractors Added to War’s Chaos in Iraq”, as has been widely reported by the international media recently.
The United States has relied and continues to rely heavily on private military and security contractors in conducting its military operations. The United States used private security contractors to conduct narcotics intervention operations in Colombia in the 1990s and recently signed a supplemental agreement that authorizes it to deploy troops and contractors in seven Colombian military bases. During the conflict in the Balkans, the United States used a private security contractor to train Croat troops to conduct operations against Serbian troops. Nowadays, it is in the context of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular that the State is massively contracting out security functions to private firms.
In 2009, the Department of Defense employed 218,000 private contractors (all types) while there were 195,000 uniformed personnel. According to the figures, about 8 per cent of these contractors are armed security contractors, i.e. about 20,000 armed guards. If one includes other theatres of operations, the figure rises to 242,657, with 54,387 United States citizens, 94,260 third country nationals and 94,010 host-country nationals.
The State Department relies on about 2,000 private security contractors to provide United States personnel and facilities with personal protective and guard services in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Pakistan, and aviation services in Iraq. The contracts for protective services were awarded in 2005 to three PMSCs, namely, Triple Canopy, DynCorp International and the U.S. Training Center, part of the Xe (then Blackwater) group of companies. These three companies still hold the State Department protective services contracts today.
Lack of transparency
The information accessible to the public on the scope and type of contracts between the Government of the United States and PMSCs is scarce and opaque. The lack of transparency is particularly significant when companies subcontract to others. Often, the contracts with PMSCs are not disclosed to the public despite extensive freedom of information rules in the United States, either because they contain confidential commercial information or on the argument that non-disclosure is in the interest of national defense or foreign policy. The situation is particularly opaque when United States intelligence agencies contract PMSCs.
Lack of accountability
Despite the fact of their involvement in grave human rights violations, not a single PMSC or employee of these companies has been sanctioned.
In the course of litigation, several recurring legal arguments have been used in the defense of PMSCs and their personnel, including the Government contractor defense, the political question doctrine and derivative immunity arguments. PMSCs are using the Government contractor defense to argue that they were operating under the exclusive control of the Government of the United States when the alleged acts were committed and therefore cannot be held liable for their actions.
It looks as if when the acts are committed by agents of the government they are considered human rights violations but when these same acts are perpetrated by PMSC it is “business as usual”.
The human rights violation perpetrated by private military and security companies are indications of the threat posed to the foundations of democracy itself by the privatization of inherently public functions such as the monopoly of the legitimate use of force. In this connection I cannot help but to refer to the final speech of President Eisenhower.
In 1961, President Eisenhower warned the American public opinion against the growing danger of a military industrial complex stating: “(…) we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.
Fifty years later, on 8 September 2001, Donald Rumsfeld in his speech in the Department of Defence warned the militaries of the Pentagon against “an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America (…) Let’s make no mistake: The modernization of the Department of Defense is (…) a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s. (…) The adversary. (…) It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. (…)That’s why we’re here today challenging us all to wage an all-out campaign to shift Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to the tooth. We know the adversary. We know the threat. And with the same firmness of purpose that any effort against a determined adversary demands, we must get at it and stay at it. Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”
Rumsfeld should have said the shift from the Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the private sector. Indeed, that shift had been accelerated by the Bush Administration: the number of persons employed by contract which had been outsourced (privatized) by the Pentagon was already four times more than at the Department of Defense.
It is not anymore a military industrial complex but as Noam Chomsky has indicated “it’s just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext”.
The articles of the Washington Post “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control”, by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (19 July 2010) show the extent that “The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work”.
The investigation’s findings include that some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States; and that an estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. A number of private military and security companies are among the security and intelligence agencies mentioned in the report of the Washington Post.
The Working Group received information from several sources that up to 70 per cent of the budget of United States intelligence is spent on contractors. These contracts are classified and very little information is available to the public on the nature of the activities carried out by these contractors.
The privatization of war has created a structural dynamic, which responds to a commercial logic of the industry.
A short look at the careers of the current managers of BAE Systems, as well as on their address-books, confirms we are not any longer dealing with a normal corporation, but with a cartel uniting high tech weaponry (BAE Systems, United Defence Industries, Lockheed Martin), with speculative financiers (Lazard Frères, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank), together with raw material cartels (British Petroleum, Shell Oil) with on the ground, private military and security companies.
The majority of the private military and security companies has been created or are managed by former militaries or ex-policemen for whom it is big business. Just to give an example MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporation) was created by four former generals of the United States Army when they were due for retirement. The same is true for Blackwater and its affiliate companies or subsidiaries, which employ former directors of the C.I.A.. Social Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the Rotating Door Syndrome.
The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.
“Without contractors: (1) the military engagement would have had to be smaller–a strategically problematic alternative; (2) the United States would have had to deploy its finite number of active personnel for even longer tours of duty -a politically dicey and short-sighted option; (3) the United States would have had to consider a civilian draft or boost retention and recruitment by raising military pay significantly–two politically untenable options; or (4) the need for greater commitments from other nations would have arisen and with it, the United States would have had to make more concessions to build and sustain a truly multinational effort. Thus, the tangible differences in the type of war waged, the effect on military personnel, and the need for coalition partners are greatly magnified when the government has the option to supplement its troops with contractors”.
The military cannot do without them. There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE impact of Private Security Contracting on U.S. Goals in Afghanistan
Conclusion I: The proliferation of private security personnel in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the counterinsurgency strategy. In May 2010 the U.S. Central Command’s Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate reported that there were more than 26,000 private security contractor personnel operating in Afghanistan. Many of those private security personnel are associated with armed groups that operate outside government control.
Conclusion 2: Afghan warlords and strongmen operating as force providers to private security contractors have acted against U.S. and Afghan government interests. Warlords and strongmen associated with U.S.-funded security contractors have been linked to anti Coalition activities, murder, bribery, and kidnapping. The Committee’s examination of the U.S. funded security contract with ArmorGroup at Shindand Airbase in Afghanistan revealed that ArmorGroup relied on a series of warlords to provide armed men to act as security, guards at the Airbase.
Open-ended intergovernmental working group established by the HR Council
Because of their impact in the enjoyment of human rights the Working Group on mercenaries in its 2010 reports to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly has recommended a legally binding instrument regulating and monitoring their activities at the national and international level.
The motion to create an open ended intergovernmental working group has been the object of lengthy negotiations, in the Human Rights Council, led by South Africa in order to accommodate the concerns of the Western Group, but primarily those of the United States and the United Kingdom and of a lot a pressure exerted in the capitals of African countries supporting the draft resolution. The text of the resolution was weakened in order to pass the resolution by consensus. But even so the position of the Western States has been a “fin de non recevoir”.
The resolution was adopted by a majority of 32 in favour, 12 against and 3 abstentions. Among the supporters of this initiative are four out of the five members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) in addition to the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group.
The adoption of this resolution opens an interesting process in the UN Human Rights Council where civil society can participate in the elaboration of an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies. The new open ended intergovernmental working group will be the forum for all stakeholders to receive inputs, not only the draft text of a possible convention and the elements elaborated by the UN Working Group on mercenaries but also of other initiatives such as the proposal submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Montreux Document and the international code of conduct being elaborated under the Swiss Initiative.
However, the negative vote of the delegations of the Western Group indicates that the interests of the new staggering security industry – its annual market revenue is estimated to be over USD one hundred billion – have been quite well defended as was the case in a number of other occasions. It also shows that Western governments will be absent from the start in a full in-depth discussion of the issues raised by the activities of PMSC.
We urge all States to support the process initiated by the Council by designating their representatives to the new open-ended intergovernmental working group, which will hold its first session in 2011, and to continue a process of discussions regarding a legally binding instrument.
The participation of the UK and USA main exporters of these activities (it is estimated at 70% the industry of security in these two countries) as well as other Western countries where the new industry is expanding is of particular importance.
The Working Group also urges the United States Government to implement the recommendations we made, in particular, to:
support the Congress Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act, which clearly defines the functions which are inherently governmental and that cannot be outsourced to the private sector;
rescind immunity to contractors carrying out activities in other countries under bilateral agreements;
carry out prompt and effective investigation of human rights violations committed by PMSCs and prosecute alleged perpetrators;
ensure that the oversight of private military and security contractors is not outsourced to PMSCs;
establish a specific system of federal licensing of PMSCs for their activities abroad;
set up a vetting procedure for awarding contracts to PMSCs;
ensure that United States criminal jurisdiction applies to private military and security companies contracted by the Government to carry out activities abroad; and
respond to pending communications from the Working Group.
The United Nations Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, initiated a review in November 2010 in Geneva, focussing on the human rights record of the United States. The above article is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on 3 November 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.
 Blackwater Worldwide abandoned its tarnished brand name in order to shake its reputation battered by its criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two-dozen businesses under the name Xe’, see Mike Baker, ‘Blackwater dumps tarnished brand name’, AP News Break, 13 February 2009.
 URG, an Australian private military and security company, uses a number of ex military Chileans to provide security to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. Recently one of those “private guards” shot himself, ABC News, reported by La Tercera, Chile, 16 September 2010.
J.Mendes & S Mitchell, “Who is Unity Resources Group?”, ABC News Australia, 16 September 2010.
 Case 8:08-cv-01696-PJM, Document 103, Filed 07/29/10. Defendants have filed Motions to Dismiss on a number of grounds. They argue, among others, that the suit must be dismissed in its entirety because they are immune under the laws of war, because the suit raises non-justiciable political questions, and because they possess derivative sovereign immunity. They seek dismissal of the state law claims on the basis of government contractor immunity, premised on the notion that Plaintiffs cannot proceed on state law claims, which arise out of combatant activities of the military. The United States District Court for the district of Maryland Greenbelt Division has decided to proceed with the case against L-3 Services, Inc. It has not accepted the motions to dismiss allowing the case to go forward.
 Mission to the United States of America, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, United Nations document, A/HRC/15/25/Add.3, paragraphs 22.
 James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “Blackwater guards tied to secret C.I.A. raids ”, New York Times, 10
 Adam Ciralsky, “Tycoon, contractor, soldier, spy”, Vanity Fair, January 2010. See also Claim No. HQ08X02800 in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Binyam Mohamed v. Jeppesen UK Ltd, report of James Gavin Simpson, 26 May 2009.
ACLU Press Release, UN Report Underscores Lack of Accountability and Oversight for Military and Security Contractors, New York, 14 September 2010.
 The reports also indicates that the Revenues of DynCorp for 2006 were of USD 1 966 993 and for 2009 USD 3 101 093
 Mission to Ecuador, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, United Nations document, A/HRC/4/42/Add.2
 A number of the persons involved in the attempted coup were arrested in Zimbabwe, other in Equatorial Guinea itself the place where the coup was intended to take place to overthrow the government and put another in its place in order to get the rich resources in oil. In 2004 and 2008 the trials took place in Equatorial Guinea of those arrested in connection with this coup attempt, including of the British citizen Simon Mann and the South African Nick du Toit. The President of Equatorial Guinea pardoned all foreigners linked to this coup attempt in November 2009 by. A number of reports indicated that trials failed to comply with international human rights standards and that some of the accused had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. The government of Equatorial Guinea has three ongoing trials in the United Kingdom, Spain and Lebanon against the persons who were behind the attempted coup.
 Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, Mission to Honduras, United Nations document A/HRC/4/42/Add.1.
 Mercenaries without borders by Karel Vereycken, Friday Sep 21st, 2007
 Among which General Carl E. Vuono, Chief of the Army during the Gulf War and the invasion of Panama; General Crosbie E. Saint, former Commander in Chief of the USA Army in Europe and General Ron Griffith. The President of MPRI is General Bantant J. Craddock.
 Such as Cofer Black, former Chief of the Counter Terrorism Center; Enrique Prado, former Chief of Operations and Rof Richter, second in command of the Clandestine Services of the Company
 Article published in the Spring 2010 issue of the University of Chicago Law Review, titled “Privatization’s Pretensions” by Jon D. Michaels, Acting Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law
 INQUIRY INTO THE ROLE AND OVERSIGHT OF PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTORS IN AFGHANISTAN, R E P O R T TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES UNITED STATES SENATE, 28 September 2010