Monday, 12 September 2005

chief of mi5 : erosion of civil liberties to fight terror


I think that this is a central dilemma, how to protect our citizens within the rule of law when intelligence does not amount to clear cut evidence and when it is fragile. We also, of course, and I repeat in both our countries and within the EU value civil liberties and wish to do nothing to damage these hard-fought for rights. But the world has changed and there needs to be a debate on whether some erosion of what we all value may be necessary to improve the chances of our citizens not being blown apart as they go about their daily lives. Another dilemma.

That brings me on to the roles of government, the commercial sector and the public. As I said earlier the threat cannot be countered by intelligence alone or by the police and the security and intelligence agencies.

It is the responsibility of governments to address the causes, set the legal frameworks for countering terrorism so that Services can collect intelligence by all means including through the retention of data, and ensure the development and implementation both of pan-government policies and international initiatives to protect ourselves to the best possible level.

It is also important that governments ensure intelligence and security agencies and the police have appropriate and effective legal powers and the resources to maximise the chances of success. My government has given to my Service and the police very public support since the attacks, understanding as it does that there is no such thing as complete security.


source MI 5

full text:

Speech By The Director General Of The Security Service, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, At The Ridderzaal, Binnenhof, The Hague, Netherlands, 1 September 2005

I am delighted to be here to celebrate the 60th Birthday of the AIVD. The friendship between the AIVD and my Service, the British Security Service - commonly known as MI5 - pre-dates even those 60 years.

I quote from a note in our files from 1946: "The friendly relationship, established during the war, with the Dutch Security Service in London continues to operate with very satisfactory results". In celebrating the birthday, I am here, not only to represent the UK, but as a symbol of all the friends of this Service and there are many throughout the world.

Perhaps that is my first message. One of the strengths we have in facing a global, international threat is long-standing intelligence relationships of trust and co-operation in Europe and further afield, created and nurtured in the case of the UK and the Netherlands over 60 years. That relationship has been tested in adversity. It is strongly-forged and, for someone with a career such as mine, a professional intelligence officer for over 30 years, the relationship means a great deal.

One of my first visits overseas as a young officer was to The Hague and, after a fascinating trip to the Mauritshuis, I remember very well meeting a Dutch officer of this Service who had been in the resistance in the Second World War while still a teenager. He had been sent to Buchenwald where he had survived because he worked as a Russian interpreter. His career was focussed first on fighting the threat from fascism then, by the time I met him, on countering terrorism.

Although I was born three years after the war and I do not speak Russian or, indeed, Dutch, and my experience was slight whilst his was extensive, we spoke a common language as we do today. Then and now the AIVD and the British Security Service understand each other and agree on the role of a modern, professional security service in a democracy. That role is to defend that democracy from substantial threats to its security and to protect, as far as possible, the way of life of its people. So, when Sybrand van Hulst invited me to speak on this occasion about the threat of international terrorism and the dilemmas in countering it, I had no hesitation in accepting his invitation.

I accepted the invitation to speak before the terrorist attacks in London in July. It is significant that we received from the AIVD an early message of sympathy and support, followed by constructive help. My Service received many offers of help from our friends around the world and our friends just across the English Channel. That is a second message. Key to countering this problem is international co-operation.

The attacks in London were a shock, and my Service and the police were disappointed that we had not been able to prevent them. But we were not altogether surprised because of our understanding of the threat which is what I wish to discuss next, although in some ways it feels unnecessary to describe it. We have seen so many manifestations of it both before 9/11, for example in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and since then in Casablanca, Madrid and Bali and many other places as well of course as here in the Netherlands.

Those of us in the intelligence community are also aware of many more attacks thwarted by good intelligence and police work, and through international co-operation. Those successes have usually been quiet ones. But we are judged by what we do not know and did not prevent. I shall come back to that point later when describing the nature of intelligence.

Al Qaida represents the first truly global terrorist threat. The extremist ideology it sponsors has spread round the world and seeped into and infected individuals and groups almost everywhere. The attacks of 9/11 inspired new generations, discontented with Western policies and ways of life, to seek to emulate, so far generally on a more modest scale, those horrendous attacks in New York and Washington we recall so well.

The key components of those attacks were a major loss of life, economic damage across the globe and the preparedness of 19 young men to commit suicide: it was a graphic illustration of what terrorism can achieve. And those inspired by Al Qaida who have formed networks based on terrorist training camps, not only in Afghanistan, and shared experiences in Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya, but also nearer to home, within our countries, have the capacity, if we allow them, to do real harm to our way of life.

We, the British and the Dutch, and many others in Western Europe and elsewhere judge the threat to be serious and sustained, with a proven lethality and the potential to continue for years to come. The root causes are fuelled by a complex series of intractable issues and while there has been substantial success and a high attrition rate against the core of Al Qaida, there are now many potential terrorists who have no linkage to Al Qaida but are inspired by its ideology and actions. On the Internet such individuals can see images of suffering Muslims in various parts of the world: and they may, from radical preachers, hear an interpretation of Islam which is violent and demands action by the listener.

This process of radicalisation is now better understood: the message has an appeal to small numbers in our communities. Bin Laden's articulation of an extremist ideology has inspired a broad coalition of groups and there is a widespread covert series of networks which supports that ideology, with links round the world and roots almost everywhere.

So how do we respond? Intelligence is key to any successful counter terrorist strategy but it is not enough and I shall explain why not. I want first to say something about the nature of intelligence and its use. What many here will know but is not always well understood is that intelligence rarely tells you all you want to know.

I should like to quote from Lord Butler's report into the "Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction". "The most important limitation on intelligence is its incompleteness. Much ingenuity and effort is spent on making secret intelligence difficult to acquire and hard to analyse... intelligence seldom acquires the full story... it is often... sporadic and patchy and, even after analysis may still be at best inferential".

Often difficult decisions need to be made on the basis of intelligence which is fragmentary and difficult to interpret. In sum, some is gold, some dross and all of it requires validation, analysis and assessment. When it is gold it shines and illuminates, saves lives, protects nations and informs policy. When identified as dross it needs to be rejected: that may take some confidence. At the end of the day it requires people of integrity not only to collect it but also to prioritise, sift, judge and use it.

Intelligence work requires careful training and people who are shrewd, objective and sensible and can manage the uncertainty of intelligence. I have met many people like that in the AIVD.

But intelligence is also fragile. It comes from human sources who risk their lives and whom we have a high moral duty to protect and from technologies whose effectiveness can be countered by skilled opponents. That is why there can be no coercion to share intelligence and why its use in open courts needs to be carefully handled. In principle we both want to share, and want to see successful prosecutions. We do not collect intelligence for its own sake; there is no point. We need to develop and act on it for the safety of all our citizens.

Given the threat is global, protecting our friends is a way also of protecting ourselves. So we have a very strong interest in international co-operation, in all similar services having both the full legal powers to collect intelligence and the skill and experience to handle it carefully but if we splash it around carelessly we shall soon have none of it. So I could never agree to a compulsory exchange of intelligence as that would risk compromising valuable sources of intelligence. There would soon be little to exchange.

To some that presents a real dilemma: to me it's part of the normal conduct of business, making sure intelligence gets to the right places and is used while sources are protected. I would add another dilemma in intelligence work, balancing investigation and monitoring of those whom we know present a threat, with work to discover and nullify previously unknown threats.

In the UK, and certainly here in the Netherlands, intelligence is not only used to help track down and disrupt terrorists. We are trying more widely to reduce the risks of terrorism. Intelligence supports wider policies and action to make it more difficult for terrorists to succeed. That may involve increasing protection at our key sites or on our key systems to reduce their vulnerability to attack. It will involve reviewing laws to check whether they are best-framed to be deployed early on before the terrorist commits his act.

I am sure you agree with me that containing terrorism in a democratic society, governed by the rule of law, where civil rights are of great value, having been acquired with difficulty over many centuries, is not straightforward. Our courts require evidence that meets high standards of proof and strong evidence of a crime having been committed or strong evidence of a conspiracy to commit such a crime.

This is one of the central dilemmas of countering this sort of terrorism. We may be confident that an individual or group is planning an attack but that confidence comes from the sort of intelligence I described earlier, patchy and fragmentary and uncertain, to be interpreted and assessed. All too often it falls short of evidence to support criminal charges to bring an individual before the courts, the best solution if achievable. Moreover, as I said earlier, we need to protect fragile sources of intelligence including human sources.

Being in this position can be uncomfortable for Services such as the AIVD and mine. We can believe, correctly, that a terrorist atrocity is being planned but those arrested by the police have to be released as the plan is too embryonic, too vague to lead to charges and possibly convictions. Furthermore the intelligence may be highly sensitive and its exposure would be very damaging as revealing either the source or our capability.

I think that this is a central dilemma, how to protect our citizens within the rule of law when intelligence does not amount to clear cut evidence and when it is fragile. We also, of course, and I repeat in both our countries and within the EU value civil liberties and wish to do nothing to damage these hard-fought for rights. But the world has changed and there needs to be a debate on whether some erosion of what we all value may be necessary to improve the chances of our citizens not being blown apart as they go about their daily lives. Another dilemma.

That brings me on to the roles of government, the commercial sector and the public. As I said earlier the threat cannot be countered by intelligence alone or by the police and the security and intelligence agencies.

It is the responsibility of governments to address the causes, set the legal frameworks for countering terrorism so that Services can collect intelligence by all means including through the retention of data, and ensure the development and implementation both of pan-government policies and international initiatives to protect ourselves to the best possible level.

It is also important that governments ensure intelligence and security agencies and the police have appropriate and effective legal powers and the resources to maximise the chances of success. My government has given to my Service and the police very public support since the attacks, understanding as it does that there is no such thing as complete security.

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament has indicated that it will look at the facts and it will no doubt wish to review whether we missed anything and the attacks could have been prevented - but no one in government nor, to be fair, the media, immediately rushed to the presumption that the July attacks were our fault. And the public has bombarded our website with messages of support.

One way of using the intelligence is to develop from it advice to protect ourselves. Across the UK private companies are working with my Service and the police to improve their resilience and strengthen their ability to stay in business in the face of threats or actual attacks. The narrow definition of the threat to corporate security has traditionally been focused on crime and fraud: it needs to be widened to include terrorism, for anticipation of that to become an integral part of business planning.

And the public. Since 7th July I have been proud of the courage of Londoners, refusing to be cowed by the attacks on the underground and buses, resolutely asserting "we are not afraid" even when they are, and showing determination and toughness in the face of terror. People took extraordinary efforts to come to work even when the public transport system was only half-working.

A few days after the first attacks we celebrated in London the sixty years since the end of the Second World War. Veterans from that war came into Central London, all of them octogenarians or more, some proudly wearing their medals, some in wheelchairs, determined not to be stopped by the current manifestation of terror from remembering both their contemporaries who died preventing the terror of fascism from prevailing and from celebrating the democratic values which we share.

And I am proud that most people understood that the attacks were on all our citizens, whatever their ethnic origin, and indeed on 17 citizens of 14 other nations. There has been outspoken condemnation of terrorism from all quarters of society and many people have provided information to us and police.

This brings me to another point, the importance of public communication, of telling the public in broad terms what the threat is and trusting them to respond sensibly. We all rely upon public support and co-operation. For many years we have relied in the UK on the good will, good sense and above all, the trust of our fellow citizens to cope with the inconvenience of added security measures, checks and disruption to normal life of bomb warnings and other alerts.

I would note here a further dilemma. In a society with 24 hour media and the internet the chances are slight that a pre-emptive security response to a terror threat will go unreported. But it is often simply impossible to explain what lies behind a public alert.

I repeat. We need to protect valuable sources of intelligence without which there would be no warning at all. Compromising them will achieve little in the short term and, to repeat, will damage our ability to collect intelligence. At the same time public safety is the overriding concern and requires the authorities to act quickly when faced with credible intelligence about a threat.

Governments face difficult decisions about how best to protect the public, without preventing normal life going on or damaging the economy. We want people to continue their way of life and have confidence to make their own decisions on risk. Given we in the UK, and I expect the statistics are not so different here, receive over a hundred pieces of threat intelligence a week, i.e. intelligence pointing to a terrorist threat, decisions on what to do are difficult, especially as is so often the case if the intelligence is piecemeal and uncertain. The repercussions, another dilemma, of such decisions can be significant.

As I said earlier, international co-operation in the face of an international threat is essential. The AIVD presidency of the European Counter-Terrorist Group was particularly important, in welcoming the Security Services of the ten EU accession countries into the CTG, and in establishing the link between the CTG and the EU Sitcen. The UK plans for its Presidency were drawn up, in consultation with others, before the attacks: they have not needed to be much amended as, again as I said earlier, we anticipated further attacks and were not surprised when they occurred.

In my area we are working through the CTG and have an extensive range of work in hand. We wish to focus on implementing existing initiatives rather than producing a fresh raft of them. We need to engage more extensively with partners outside the EU in order to put the threat within Europe into a broader context and we need to build both on the links to Europol and the relationship with the EU Sitcen.

I know some believe that international, or in this case EU, work can present a difficult dilemma with regard to national interests but, in my experience, substantial counter-terrorist work on a practical, tactical level works successfully every day on the basis of the relationships of mutual trust to which I referred at the start of my talk. And at the political and strategic level there is further important work in progress.

So, in sum, we, the UK, the Netherlands and beyond face a high level of threat. The scale of the problem we face has become more apparent as the amount of intelligence collected and shared has increased. Responding to it is challenging. Intelligence, the capability to collect it and the competence to handle it are vital but not sufficient.

The response of governments, the commercial sector and the public are also of critical importance. Using intelligence, which may be both fragile and fragmentary, ensuring our legal frameworks are fit to address threats before they materialise fully, not through our own actions destroying what we value in our way of life and what terrorists wish to damage, and balanced public communication, all present real difficulties.

What I am confident about is that the Dutch people are as well-equipped as any to handle these dilemmas, and that in the AIVD you have a highly professional, modern, thoughtful Security Service doing a difficult job. I applaud them and hope you will join me in doing so.

Sunday, 11 September 2005

nuke: pentagon revises no first use doctrine


Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan

Strategy Includes Preemptive Use Against Banned Weapons

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

The document, written by the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002. The strategy was outlined in more detail at the time in classified national security directives.

At a White House briefing that year, a spokesman said the United States would "respond with overwhelming force" to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, its forces or allies, and said "all options" would be available to the president.

The draft, dated March 15, would provide authoritative guidance for commanders to request presidential approval for using nuclear weapons, and represents the Pentagon's first attempt to revise procedures to reflect the Bush preemption doctrine. A previous version, completed in 1995 during the Clinton administration, contains no mention of using nuclear weapons preemptively or specifically against threats from weapons of mass destruction.

Titled "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" and written under the direction of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the draft document is unclassified and available on a Pentagon Web site. It is expected to be signed within a few weeks by Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, director of the Joint Staff, according to Navy Cmdr. Dawn Cutler, a public affairs officer in Myers's office. Meanwhile, the draft is going through final coordination with the military services, the combatant commanders, Pentagon legal authorities and Rumsfeld's office, Cutler said in a written statement.

A "summary of changes" included in the draft identifies differences from the 1995 doctrine, and says the new document "revises the discussion of nuclear weapons use across the range of military operations."

The first example for potential nuclear weapon use listed in the draft is against an enemy that is using "or intending to use WMD" against U.S. or allied, multinational military forces or civilian populations.

Another scenario for a possible nuclear preemptive strike is in case of an "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy."

That and other provisions in the document appear to refer to nuclear initiatives proposed by the administration that Congress has thus far declined to fully support.

Last year, for example, Congress refused to fund research toward development of nuclear weapons that could destroy biological or chemical weapons materials without dispersing them into the atmosphere.

The draft document also envisions the use of atomic weapons for "attacks on adversary installations including WMD, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons."

But Congress last year halted funding of a study to determine the viability of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator warhead (RNEP) -- commonly called the bunker buster -- that the Pentagon has said is needed to attack hardened, deeply buried weapons sites.

The Joint Staff draft doctrine explains that despite the end of the Cold War, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction "raises the danger of nuclear weapons use." It says that there are "about thirty nations with WMD programs" along with "nonstate actors [terrorists] either independently or as sponsored by an adversarial state."

To meet that situation, the document says that "responsible security planning requires preparation for threats that are possible, though perhaps unlikely today."

To deter the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, the Pentagon paper says preparations must be made to use nuclear weapons and show determination to use them "if necessary to prevent or retaliate against WMD use."

The draft says that to deter a potential adversary from using such weapons, that adversary's leadership must "believe the United States has both the ability and will to pre-empt or retaliate promptly with responses that are credible and effective." The draft also notes that U.S. policy in the past has "repeatedly rejected calls for adoption of 'no first use' policy of nuclear weapons since this policy could undermine deterrence."

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has been a leading opponent of the bunker-buster program, said yesterday the draft was "apparently a follow-through on their nuclear posture review and they seem to bypass the idea that Congress had doubts about the program." She added that members "certainly don't want the administration to move forward with a [nuclear] preemption policy" without hearings, closed door if necessary.

A spokesman for Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday the panel has not yet received a copy of the draft.

Hans M. Kristensen, a consultant to the Natural Resources Defense Council, who discovered the document on the Pentagon Web site, said yesterday that it "emphasizes the need for a robust nuclear arsenal ready to strike on short notice including new missions."

Kristensen, who has specialized for more than a decade in nuclear weapons research, said a final version of the doctrine was due in August but has not yet appeared.

"This doctrine does not deliver on the Bush administration pledge of a reduced role for nuclear weapons," Kristensen said. "It provides justification for contentious concepts not proven and implies the need for RNEP."

One reason for the delay may be concern about raising publicly the possibility of preemptive use of nuclear weapons, or concern that it might interfere with attempts to persuade Congress to finance the bunker buster and other specialized nuclear weapons.

In April, Rumsfeld appeared before the Senate Armed Services panel and asked for the bunker buster study to be funded. He said the money was for research and not to begin production on any particular warhead. "The only thing we have is very large, very dirty, big nuclear weapons," Rumsfeld said. "It seems to me studying it [the RNEP] makes all the sense in the world."

new orleanians treated like animals


FEMA's Blocking Relief Efforts - An Amazing List


FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
FEMA turns away generators
FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"
That last one is real -- not satire but straight from FEMA's website.
EMS & Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences

note: Bradshaw and Slonsky are paramedics frorm California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans. Larry Bradsahw is the chief shop steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790; and Lorrie Beth Slonsky is steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790.[California]

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of

New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.

There was more suffering than need be.
Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

Sep 6, 2005, 11:59

By Parmedics Larry Bradsahw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky


Blackwater Mercenaries Deploy in New Orleans

By Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo

t r u t h o u t | Report

Saturday 10 September 2005

New Orleans - Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. Some of the mercenaries say they have been "deputized" by the Louisiana governor; indeed some are wearing gold Louisiana state law enforcement badges on their chests and Blackwater photo identification cards on their arms. They say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force. Several mercenaries we spoke with said they had served in Iraq on the personal security details of the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer and the former US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte.

"This is a totally new thing to have guys like us working CONUS (Continental United States)," a heavily armed Blackwater mercenary told us as we stood on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. "We're much better equipped to deal with the situation in Iraq."

Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences. Their presence on the streets of New Orleans should be a cause for serious concern for the remaining residents of the city and raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here. Some of the men now patrolling the streets of New Orleans returned from Iraq as recently as 2 weeks ago.

What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments.

Blackwater is one of the leading private "security" firms servicing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has several US government contracts and has provided security for many senior US diplomats, foreign dignitaries and corporations. The company rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March 2004. Those killings sparked the massive US retaliation against the civilian population of Fallujah that resulted in scores of deaths and tens of thousands of refugees.

As the threat of forced evictions now looms in New Orleans and the city confiscates even legally registered weapons from civilians, the private mercenaries of Blackwater patrol the streets openly wielding M-16s and other assault weapons. This despite Police Commissioner Eddie Compass' claim that "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons."

Officially, Blackwater says it forces are in New Orleans to "join the Hurricane Relief Effort." A statement on the company's website, dated September 1, advertises airlift services, security services and crowd control. The company, according to news reports, has since begun taking private contracts to guard hotels, businesses and other properties. But what has not been publicly acknowledged is the claim, made to us by 2 Blackwater mercenaries, that they are actually engaged in general law enforcement activities including "securing neighborhoods" and "confronting criminals."

That raises a key question: under what authority are Blackwater's men operating? A spokesperson for the Homeland Security Department, Russ Knocke, told the Washington Post he knows of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security. "We believe we've got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety." he said.

But in an hour-long conversation with several Blackwater mercenaries, we heard a different story. The men we spoke with said they are indeed on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana governor's office and that some of them are sleeping in camps organized by Homeland Security in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One of them wore a gold Louisiana state law enforcement badge and said he had been "deputized" by the governor. They told us they not only had authority to make arrests but also to use lethal force. We encountered the Blackwater forces as we walked through the streets of the largely deserted French Quarter. We were talking with 2 New York Police officers when an unmarked car without license plates sped up next to us and stopped. Inside were 3 men, dressed in khaki uniforms, flak jackets and wielding automatic weapons. "Y'all know where the Blackwater guys are?" they asked. One of the police officers responded, "There are a bunch of them around here," and pointed down the road.

"Blackwater?" we asked. "The guys who are in Iraq?"

"Yeah," said the officer. "They're all over the place."

A short while later, as we continued down Bourbon Street, we ran into the men from the car. They wore Blackwater ID badges on their arms.

"When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?,'" said one of the Blackwater men. He was wearing his company ID around his neck in a carrying case with the phrase "Operation Iraqi Freedom" printed on it. After bragging about how he drives around Iraq in a "State Department issued level 5, explosion proof BMW," he said he was "just trying to get back to Kirkuk (in the north of Iraq) where the real action is." Later we overheard him on his cell phone complaining that Blackwater was only paying $350 a day plus per diem. That is much less than the men make serving in more dangerous conditions in Iraq. Two men we spoke with said they plan on returning to Iraq in October. But, as one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to 6 months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations."

If Blackwater's reputation and record in Iraq are any indication of the kind of "services" the company offers, the people of New Orleans have much to fear.

Jeremy Scahill, a correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, and Daniela Crespo are in New Orleans. Visit for in-depth, independent, investigative reporting on Hurricane Katrina. Email:


addendum 15 march 2010


The Sky Before Katrina Struck
Whoever took these pictures did an awesome job.
And whoever said Katrina was 'awesome and terrifying' is telling the truth. Wow, take a look at this ....
These pictures were made by a man in Magee, MS where the eye of the storm passed thru- what an experience. Magee is 150 miles North of Waveland, Mississippi where the Hurricane made landfall. The dance with Katrina, part of her beauty as she left destruction on her exit. They are remarkably dramatic...
The following picture was taken from the third story balcony of Saint Stanislaus College located next door to Our Lady of the Gulf church in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi on the morning of August 29th, 2005.
This is believed to be the initial tidal wave from Hurricane Katrina. The tidal wave was approximately 35 to 40 feet high. When it slammed into the beach front communities of Bay Saint Louis and Waveland, Mississippi to completely destroy 99% of every structure along the beach for 9 miles and over a mile inland. The destruction only started there. The flooding that continued inland destroyed the contents of all but 35 homes in these two communities of approximately 14,000 people.

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

scientific papers not telling the truth

Most scientific papers are probably wrong

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.

"We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery," Ioannidis says.

In the paper, Ioannidis does not show that any particular findings are false. Instead, he shows statistically how the many obstacles to getting research findings right combine to make most published research wrong.

Massaged conclusions

Traditionally a study is said to be "statistically significant" if the odds are only 1 in 20 that the result could be pure chance. But in a complicated field where there are many potential hypotheses to sift through - such as whether a particular gene influences a particular disease - it is easy to reach false conclusions using this standard. If you test 20 false hypotheses, one of them is likely to show up as true, on average.

Odds get even worse for studies that are too small, studies that find small effects (for example, a drug that works for only 10% of patients), or studies where the protocol and endpoints are poorly defined, allowing researchers to massage their conclusions after the fact.

Surprisingly, Ioannidis says another predictor of false findings is if a field is "hot", with many teams feeling pressure to beat the others to statistically significant findings.

But Solomon Snyder, senior editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, US, says most working scientists understand the limitations of published research.

"When I read the literature, I'm not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I'm reading to get ideas. So even if something is wrong with the paper, if they have the kernel of a novel idea, that's something to think about," he says.

Journal reference: Public Library of Science Medicine (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124)

Monday, 5 September 2005

chemtrails: german greenpeace mp not worried

Chemtrails Coming Out Of The Closet?

By William Thomas


Nearly seven years after extensive « lay downs » of lingering and spreading white plumes were first reported smearing skies over across North America, Europe is in an uproar and Washington could be close to coming clean about chemtrails.
At least the Bush White house will soon have a legitimate weather control agency to finally « launder » one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated.
Introduced in the US Senate on March 1, 2005, Bill S517 calls for a US « Weather Modification Advisory and Research Board » to officially commence operations in October 2005. When passed as expected, this law will make large-scale chemical alteration of the atmosphere legal across a formerly free and beautiful land called America.
It’s already happening. Less than two weeks before the bill was introduced, Linda wrote from « up here in the mountains of northeast Georgia » of the worst spray day she had ever seen. « Not one day in the past two months have we had a blue sky with normal clouds, » Linda wrote. Even normal clouds « are ‘laced’ with whatever the hell is coming out of those white planes that have no engine sounds, even when they fly low enough to see there is no printing anywhere on the planes. »
Several years ago the US Air Force stated that it was repainting its silver aircraft white, and retrofitting its jet tanker fleet with « hush kits » to silence their engines.
Whatever fresh environmental disaster Bill S517 accomplishes, this bill will ease the way for admission of a project suspected by many and confirmed by air traffic controllers at America’s biggest airports. When and if the US public demands that their government « do something » about the extreme weather pummeling their neighborhoods, Washington will be able to officially reply, « We are. »
Intended to « develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated national weather modification policy, » the board is tasked with coordinating state and federal weather modification efforts. It’s direct mandate is stepped-up research and development aimed at developing experimental « models, devices, equipment, materials, and processes » to change or control, « by artificial methods » the development of clouds and/or precipitation in the troposphere. This weather-forming region of the atmosphere lies between Earth’s surface and the stratosphere, starting around 35,000 feet.
The federal weather modifiers will now directly oversee the cloud-seeding operations currently being carried out over dozens of states to increase rain and snowfall for irrigation, electrical power and winter recreation purposes. As droughts intensify under an onslaught of moisture-absorbing chemicals dispensed behind ozone-destroying jet tankers, and future towns wash away in sudden flash floods triggered by rain-inducing atmospheric tinkering, these unnatural disasters and other « inadvertent » effects of weather modification will be closely « studied » by the newly created board.
But no studies have been released on the implications of wide-scale alteration of regional atmospheric heat balances.
Large-scale weather modification is banned under the United Nations Environmental Modification Convention signed by Washington in 1970.
Meanwhile, recent heavy « Chemtrail » spraying over Portland, Oregon and Canada’s west coast has eased off once again. Another long-time Chemtrail « hot zone », Santa Cruz, California continues reporting clear blue skies unmarked by the chemplanes’ ugly scrawl.
As recently as May 2005, a Swiss resident sent photographs to Meria Heller’s website, reporting: « Today was one of the heaviest Spraying in Switzerland ever. »
Some Canadians also have their eyes wide open. in June 2005, large graffiti spray-painted on a major overpass in West Vancouver advised motorists: WAKE UP, LOOK UP, CHEMTRAILS ARE EVERYWHERE.
An active duty air force crew chief has described environmental combat missions already being flown by specially-outfitted C-130 Hercules transports, which can be reloaded, refueled and relaunched in just 10 minutes to continue their assault on violent storms afflicting US communities. Flown by regular air force pilots, these « science flights » include onboard meteorologists, who painstakingly log the results of each mission.
Big storm fronts and hurricanes require a vast amount of absorbent chemicals to reduce their destructive power. To achieve the fast turn-around times needed to complete their missions, flights of returning C-130s taxi to a stop and immediately commence refueling as the empty onboard spray canister is removed. as soon as the empty canister is clear of the aircraft, a waiting truck wheels a semi-trailer-size container of sky-seeding chemicals to the plane’s lowered rear ramp, where it is slid inside on rails like a gigantic « soda dispenser ».
The crew chief added that other spray missions spread (barium) chemtrails to facilitate 3D radar mapping of the entire continental United States. He also said that the air force has been spraying storm fronts « for a long time ». The military’s main interest, he added, is experimentation aimed at gaining control of the weather for military use.
Did the air force spray this year’s first Caribbean hurricane, in which the western quadrant disintegrated just before making its Texas landfall? « There’s no reason they wouldn’t, » the crew chief replied.
But C-130 turboprops would not necessarily be used to try to influence hurricanes that typically release more energy than all atomic arsenals combined. Referring to the 757s recently modified for aerial spraying, the crew chief told, « We’ve got them, but I can’t talk about them. »
He added that many people in the air force « are aware of William Thomas » and his reporting on chemtrails. The crew chief confirmed that this reporter « has it mostly right » concerning the application and purposes behind chemtrails. But would not elaborate on my reporting.
Meanwhile, the chemtrails controversy has taken Europe by storm following a series of articles by Swiss freelance journalist Gabriel Stetter in the German popular science magazine Raum+Zeit (Space and Time), circulation circa 50,000.
Stetter’s first article, « White Skies » created a public relations nightmare for Greenpeace when it informed readers in January 2004 how « Thousands of people were thoroughly shocked when they realised, and were informed by Greenpeace in Germany, Switzerland and Austria that-for some reason or other-Greenpeace has no interest in the Chemtrail question whatsoever. »
The Swiss government also came under public pressure to explain the checkerboards being painted in its skies. On March 5, 2004 the Environment Department in Berne, Switzerland responded to an inquiry by Rudolf Rechsteiner, Social Democratic member of parliament, admitting that « A number of ideas exist that show how it would be possible to reduce global warming by technical means, at least in the short term. »
But these ideas, the government office hastened to add, « are no more than theoretical. We are not aware of any practical application of these methods, either at home or abroad. »
Ten days later, Greenpeace Switzerland climate and transport expert Cyrill Studer wrote an internal memo assuring colleagues that while he had « heard of the chemtrails phenomenon, » for the present, Greenpeace « will not be following up the theme of chemtrails. »
Two reasons for inaction by Greenpeace climate change activists were given. First, Studer explained, « There is not a sufficiently solid scientific basis » for Greenpeace to risk its budget and reputation verifying this « supposed phenomenon ». To do so, he added in his memo to Greenpeace staff, « would overstretch our capacities.Important elements of our climate campaign would suffer, particularly the promotion of energy efficiency and of renewable energies, or our active influence in present-day politics. »
Outside Greenpeace’s corporate offices, the controversy continued. On June 11 German Greenpeace spokeswoman Kristine Läger told concerned constituents:
The idea of reducing global warming by putting chemicals in the atmosphere has been around a long time. There are various proposals in this direction, suggesting the chemicals should be independently sprayed and that they should be mixed with the fuel of ordinary passenger aircraft. Whether in Germany such proposals have reached the point of actual realization is highly questionable. So far as we are aware there are no indications from research and observation of weather and climate that these so-called chemtrails exist. Nor are we aware of any project that has been realized in practice.. in all probability this is not happening.
But Gabriel Stetter believes that the Greenpeace « Rainbow Warriors » know all about the rainbows in the sky. They probably also know of geoengineering studies to reduce incoming sunlight and slow global warming issued by the National Academy of Sciences. « And they may even have taken a look at the Welsbach Patent, » he writes. « But they have no idea what conclusions to draw from the chessboard pattern suspended in the Hamburg sky or the aluminium-enriched ‘rainbows’.
« Supposing the word ‘chemtrails’ appeared in print in the Greenpeace Magazine, » Stetter speculates. « How many tens of thousands of people more would look up into the sky and recognize that the supposedly Utopian « proposal » has long moved on via « spraying trials » to a systematic, long-term spreading of cloud cover over the whole of Europe? »
Back in Basel, Gabriel Stetter quoted unsourced opinion polls showing that in this « stronghold » of chemtrails believers, one in ten people « have already heard of them despite the media blackout. Several thousand people in the prosperous town at the bend in the Rhine know that the chemtrails phenomenon suggests that something is seriously wrong. »
Among these Swiss chemtrails activists, he explained, « are well-to-do people, who because of their environmental awareness have been for a long time, in some cases for decades, members of Greenpeace. »
Not any more.
« Veteran anti-nuclear activists, campaigners for animal welfare or against electrosmog-in their alarm they had all turned to Greenpeace because of the chemtrails, which are visible everywhere in the skies above Basel. But a painful experience awaited all of them. They were palmed off with the same unsatisfactory answers that we have by now grown tired of hearing. The consequence drawn by these elderly, well-to-do activists from Greenpeace’s lack of interest was the immediate cancellation of membership of many years, the withdrawal of legacies, and the withholding of payments to Greenpeace until further notice. »
As Brian Holmes notes on his website,, the October 2004 issue #131 of the Raum + Zeit contained many pages of letters from readers responding positively to Stetter’s first article in issue #127. « Many of these letters are illustrated with color photographs supplied by the readers themselves. »
Former six-year a board member of Greenpeace Germany, Monika Griefahn chaired the Committee for Culture and Media of the Federal German Parliament when she replied to a letter from two chemtrails dissenters in July 2004, stating, « I am in basic agreement with your concerns. Instead of making a concerted and determined effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world, experiments of various kinds are being carried out in the earth’s atmosphere in order to cure the symptoms. »
Former six-year a board member of Greenpeace Germany, Monika Griefahn chaired the Committee for Culture and Media of the Federal German Parliament when she replied to a letter from two chemtrails dissenters in July 2004, stating, « I am in basic agreement with your concerns. Instead of making a concerted and determined effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world, experiments of various kinds are being carried out in the earth’s atmosphere in order to cure the symptoms. »
After assuring her correspondents, « I share your concern over the use of aluminium or barium compounds which have a considerable toxic potential, » the parliamentarian went on to say, « however, so far as I am aware the extent of their use is so far minimal. »
« At last! » Stetter announced in the German science magazine. « There we have it. In the skies of Germany, so Social Democratic member of Parliament Monika Griefahn tells us, aluminium and barium compounds are being spread just as tens of thousands of concerned citizens have observed, documented and bitterly deplored. »
Thanking the Honorable Griefahn her for her courage, Stetter suggested, « Maybe one day statues of politicians like Monika Griefahn or the equally plucky US Congressman Dennis Kucinich will adorn in marble splendor the squares of newly verdant German or American cities. »
That would be nice.
But the public outcry in Europe will have to spread to North America if we are to stop this massive, illegal and continuing air and atmospheric pollution.
Excerpted from Convergence Weekly