Archive for January, 2012


Associated Press  |  Julie Watson

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.
A Marine sergeant who led a squad that killed 24 unarmed Iraqis avoided serving any time Tuesday for his role in one of the darkest chapters of the Iraq war, winning leniency through a plea deal that carried no real punishment beyond a reduction in rank.

Military judge Lt. Col. David Jones said he did not realize until after he recommended that Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich serve three months in the brig that his hands were tied by the deal that prevented any jail time.

Wuterich pleaded guilty Monday to negligent dereliction of duty as part of the agreement with prosecutors. The minor charge carries a maximum sentence of 90 days.

But because of the way the military system works, the terms of the deal with prosecutors immediately known to the judge.

The judge also said he would recommend that Wuterich’s rank be reduced to private but had decided not to dock his pay because the divorced father has sole custody of three young daughters.

The recommendation will now go to the commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command for approval.

Earlier in the sentencing hearing, prosecutors asked Jones to give Wuterich the maximum sentence of three months confinement, a reduction in rank and forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay.

They said his knee-jerk reaction of sending the squad to assault nearby homes without positively identifying any threat went against his training and led to the deaths of the 10 women and children.

“That is a horrific result from that derelict order of shooting first, ask questions later,” Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan told the court.

The assault on the homes was ordered after a roadside bombing killed a Marine.

Wuterich has acknowledged ordering his squad to “shoot first, ask questions later” after a roadside bomb took the life of a fellow Marine, but he said Tuesday he did not shoot any of the 10 women and children killed in nearby homes that he stormed with his men.

“The truth is: I never fired my weapon at any women or children that day,” Wuterich told Jones.

The surprise contention by Wuterich contradicts prosecutors who implicated him in 19 of the 24 deaths. It also counters testimony from a former squad mate who said he joined Wuterich in firing in a dark back bedroom where a woman and children were killed.

Defense attorney Neal Puckett said Wuterich has lived under the cloud of being labeled a killer who carried out a massacre in Iraq. Lawyers also said he has been exonerated of directly causing the deaths of civilians in the two homes and insisted his only intent was to protect his Marines, calling it “honorable and noble.”

“The appropriate punishment in this case, your honor, is no punishment,” Puckett said.

Wuterich, 31, told the court that his guilty plea should not suggest that he believes his men behaved badly or that they acted in any way that was dishonorable to their country. He said he ordered his men to “shoot first, ask questions later” so they would not hesitate in attacking the enemy, but he never intended to harm any civilians.

The plea deal that halted Wuterich’s manslaughter trial has sparked outrage in Iraq, where many said it proves the United States does not hold its military accountable for its actions.

In Iraq, residents of the Euphrates river town of Haditha were angered by the fact that not one of the eight Marines initially charged will be convicted of manslaughter. A survivor of the killings, Awis Fahmi Hussein, showed his scars from being hit by a bullet in the back.

“I was expecting that the American judiciary would sentence this person to life in prison and that he would appear and confess in front of the whole world that he committed this crime, so that America could show itself as democratic and fair,” he said.

In his statement, Wuterich also addressed family members of the Iraqi victims, saying there were no words to ease their pain.

“I wish to assure you that on that day, it was never my intention to harm you or your families. I know that you are the real victims of Nov. 19, 2005,” he said.

A former squad mate testified during the trial that he joined Wuterich in firing in a dark back bedroom of one of the homes where he saw small silhouettes. Later, when former Cpl. Stephen Tatum returned, he said he found woman and children had been killed.

Military prosecutors worked for more than six years to bring Wuterich to trial on manslaughter charges that could have sent him away to prison for life.

But only weeks after the long-awaited trial started, they offered Wuterich the deal that stopped the proceedings and dropped the nine counts of manslaughter.

It was a stunning outcome for the last defendant in the case once compared with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. The seven other Marines initially charged were exonerated or had their cases dropped.

The Haditha attack is considered among the war’s defining moments, further tainting America’s reputation when it was already at a low point after the release of photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison.

Legal experts said the case was fraught with errors made by investigators and the prosecution that let it drag on for years. The prosecution was also hampered by squad mates who acknowledged they had lied to investigators initially and later testified in exchange for having their cases dropped, bringing into question their credibility.

In addition, Wuterich was seen as taking the fall for senior leaders and more seasoned combat veterans, analysts said. It was his first time in combat.

Brian Rooney, an attorney for another former defendant, said cases like Haditha are difficult to prosecute because a military jury is unlikely to question decisions made in combat unless wrongdoing is clear-cut and egregious, like rape.

“If it’s a gray area, fog-of-war, you can’t put yourself in a Marine’s situation where he’s legitimately trying to do the best he can,” said Rooney, who represented Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the highest-ranking Marine charged in the case. “When you’re in a town like Haditha or Fallujah, you’ve got bad guys trying to kill you and trying to do it in very surreptitious ways.”

During the trial before a jury of combat Marines who served in Iraq, prosecutors argued he lost control after seeing the body of his friend blown apart by the bomb and led his men on a rampage in which they stormed two nearby homes, blasting their way in with gunfire and grenades. Among the dead was a man in a wheelchair.

Wuterich said his orders were based on the guidance of his platoon commander at the time. He has acknowledged the squad did not take any gunfire during the 45-minute raid.

Many of his squad mates testified that they do not believe to this day that they did anything wrong because they feared insurgents were inside hiding.

Haditha prompted commanders to demand troops be more careful in distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

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Watch the full Keiser Report E175 on Tuesday. This week Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, notice that looking back is not an option when all the evidence is destroyed by the SEC and Max tries to explain the gold / Treasury conundrum. In the second half of the show Max talks to Catherine Austin Fitts about exponential fraud and the financial coup d’etat.

KR on FB: http://www.facebook.com/KeiserReport


80% of Americans agree that in order to save our democracy, we have to get money out of politics. Large corporations and special interest groups provide the majority of funding for virtually all federal and state political campaigns. This obligates lawmakers to spend about three quarters of their time fundraising, which means they spend the majority of their time talking to and hearing the concerns of special interest groups and corporations. As a result, lawmakers typically don’t listen to the voices of the American people, who they are supposed to represent. Not only that, they’re so overwhelmed with fund raising that they delegate the task of writing the bills they introduce to corporate lobbyists!

Indeed, the problem runs even deeper. There’s an episode of Futurama where’s there a presidential debate on TV. The two candidates are identical clones. One says something like “My opponent’s position on the color orange is unconscionable.” The parody strikes sadly close to home. Because corporations, special interest groups, and the 1% are the only ones with enough money to fund a successful federal election campaign, they get to decide who is able to run for office in the first place! Ever wonder why all political candidates wind up catering to Wall St. and corporations in the same way once in office despite superficial differences in their political stances and their political affiliation? Now you know.

The only way to get money out of politics is to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo. There are two ways to pass a constitutional amendment. The first is for 2/3 of the House and Senate to vote for an amendment. The second is for 2/3 of the state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention, which is a convention where citizen representatives propose amendments to the constitution. The founders intended the constitutional convention to be a way of having a nonviolent revolution.

Either way, ¾ of the state legislatures have to ratify an amendment before it becomes law. This means that in order for an amendment to pass, it would have appeal strongly to the majority of red and blue states. The only issue that cuts across party lines like this is getting money out of politics.

Several Senators have proposed amendments to get money out of politics. I think we should support their efforts. However, I also think we should start calling for a constitutional convention as well. This would serve as a threat to politicians that if they lack the political will to get money out of politics, we the people will do it for them. It would also serve as a backup plan in case the politicians don’t pull through for us, which if experience is to be believed, they probably won’t. What do you think?



For decades, lobbies and special interests have ruled Capitol Hill, with PACs effectively steering the outcome of every major political campaign by injecting money and buying influence. Now we find out that Texas Congressman and GOP candidate Ron Paul has been targeted by a new breed of PAC, this time with foreign backing.

In recent years, activists and advocates have won back some ground in terms of placing limits and disclosure on campaign donations from individuals, businesses and have attempted to rein in some of the financial influence of political action committees (PACs). Just when one dragon was slayed, another, more menacing one was born. Enter the world of the Super PAC.

As 501c organizations, these new Super PACs take advantage of recent election funding rulings which allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to operate totally independently – and spend as much as they wish on election campaign media packages. Super PACs can also hold fundraisers to solicit money from donors – with no limits. The rise of the Super PAC has meant a complete runaround of any campaign ethics, or campaign finance regulation.

Where the game was often played according to how much special interests could buy a candidate, the game has now shifted into darker areas, namely, how special interests can take down, and eliminate a candidate during the early part of an election cycle. South Carolina residents are currently being slammed with a record number of Super PAC-funded TV adverts, some of which are negative in nature. More shocking is the fact that all these Super PAC ads are being paid for by just a handful of wealthy donors and establishment syndicates.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post this week, David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for the Public Campaign Action Fund revealed, “There are probably fewer than 100 people who are fueling 90 percent of this outside money right now.” The report also adds:

In total, these new and unrestrained political action committees spent more than $15 million supporting GOP candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire and are now outspending the official campaigns in South Carolina by 2 to 1, according to advertising and expenditure data.

Out of this small handful of mega-rich donors, the Israeli lobby is represented heavily. The Washington Post adds here:

And casino magnate Sheldon Adelson recently dashed off a $5 million check to a group backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), marking what may be the largest single political contribution in U.S. history. Adelson is well known for supporting hard-line policies favoring Israel while also advocating measures that would benefit the gambling industry.

This level of allowable interference in US campaigns has seen Super PACs propping up certain alternate horses in the political race, in order to take votes away from the any serious rival to Establishment’s front-runner of choice. Based on election results and major polling, Mitt Romney’s only serious rival coming out of New Hampshire would be Ron Paul, yet, large sums of money are still flowing elsewhere in the field. Why?

In terms of the remaining GOP field, one could not find a more unappealing and unpopular candidate to commit millions in PAC funds for the duration of the primaries than Rick Santorum. Similarly, a complete non-runner and failure in all polling, John Huntsman, managed to bag a cool $2.5 million late in the game from the Super PAC, ‘Our Destiny’, which floated his campaign through Iowa and New Hampshire. Both men have secured some heavy backing, but skeptics should really be asking after these primaries have concluded, how a candidate with no real national support base could continue through the primaries – at such a great expense.

Likewise, the career of Newt Gingrich has long since peaked, with many mainstream political pundits even categorizing him as ‘unelectable’, but his recent record-breaking PAC donation from the Israeli lobby establishment figure Sheldon Adelson now begins to make sense. Note that Adelson is also an active financial supporter and media arm for Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career in Israel.

Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate who is not overtly ‘pro-Israel’ in the popular neoconservative sense. On January 13, in the run-up to the pivotal South Carolina GOP primary, the Emergency Committee for Israel, run by neoconservative thinker William Kristol, released an ad in which its Director Gary Bauer makes a plea to voters – not endorsing any candidate, rather, telling conservatives that they must reject Congressman Ron Paul as their GOP candidate, deriding his foreign policy views with respect to America’s ‘special relationship’ with Israel, and fighting the War on Terror – concluding that, “We can do better than Ron Paul”. See their advert here:

In reality, Ron Paul has broadcast a consistent message over the years, one which firmly places America first, and foreign entanglements last. He is the only GOP candidate who pledges to bring the troops home, cut off foreign military aid to countries overseas and lastly, he is not supporting any form of military showdown with Iran. For these reasons, his platform comes into direct conflict with the state of Israel – who is advocating the opposite, making him a target of this latest foreign interest Super PAC attack.

From this event, one can state as fact – not theory, that Israel and its supporters in the US are actively working to derail Ron Paul’s race towards the GOP nomination, and the Presidency. This fact alone, should be cause for alarm from even the most moderate of public corridors.

Should a foreign country, in this case Israel, be allowed to buy a significant influence through the media in American democratic elections? Should candidates be allowed to accept donations – even indirectly, from foreign interest PACs or agents thereof, thus creating a serious conflict of interest, and threat to national security?

Democracy for hire?

Once the GOP primaries are finished and the opposition nominee is selected, you will then see the pro-Democratic Super PACS sprung into action. President Obama’s hands will remain clean until that time, but the Democrats could very well fall on this same sword should public outrage in America reach significant levels.

With such an over-arching umbrella of influence determining its outcome, one can only conclude that the American democratic system of elections has been manipulated and twisted to such a degree by powerful special interests, that major elections in the US cannot be classed as either free or fair. Rather they have warped into cynical, stage-managed events, engineered by the few in order to achieve a particular outcome.

What does this say about the state of America in 2012? To this point, Donnelly sums it up: “When you think about the amazing impact that this small number of people have on deciding the election, on the information that people will have on who to vote for, it’s mind-boggling.”

Surely, the American people cannot be a winner in this current climate of campaign high finance and open corruption. Much worse however, in this current set-up the true winner of a genuine democratic race – can never be known.

Many will be understandably outraged to know how this game is being played behind the scenes. If there was ever a time for election reform, it is 2012.


Andrew Adler, now that’s a name that should live in Jewish infamy.  He’s the publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times who actually published a column in his paper saying that one of three options Israel should consider on the day the Prime Minister hears that Iran has a nuclear weapon is for Mossad agents in the U.S. to assassinate Barack Obama.

Just in case you think I’m making this lunacy up here’s a screenshot of the column itself.  Here’s the money–or should I say, “kill shot.”  Adler writes that Option 3 is:

…Give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.

Yes, you read option three correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?

Another way of putting “three” in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives…Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?

You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.

No, actually I’ve got to believe that Andrew Adler is a class A asshole and an idiot to boot.  I could rail about the fact that the editor of a Jewish paper in one of America’s largest Jewish communities would pen such disgusting tripe.  But what disturbs me even more is that the tens of thousands of Jews living in Atlanta read not just this, but all the garbage this jerk writes.  Imagine the impact that this has on the tone and substance of political debate in that town.

Apparently, Israel has such a sterling reputation lately for political assassinations that Adler and others have come to believe that the best way of pursuing a political objective is to murder whoever stands in the way.  That’s one of the legacies that Israel’s far right government has bestowed to the world, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

Don’t think that Atlanta is alone.  The Jewish paper in the Five Towns published a similarly disturbing column a few years ago calling for the murder of Muslims.  Jews, even rabbis, dream up the most vile, disgusting scenarios for their fellow Jews.  In Israel, rabbis call for putting uppity Arabs in concentration camps.  We have much to ashamed of, just as we have much to be proud of: from our prophetic ethical tradition and inheritors of its mantle like Martin Buber, Judah Magnes and those who founded Brit Shalom; and their latter-day followers in NGOs like Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, the Popular Committee Against Torture, Breaking the Silence, Peace Now and so many others.


A US senator says President Barack Obama is prepared to issue the order for a military attack on Iran if the Washington-engineered sanctions fail to stop Tehran’s nuclear program.

“[Obama] is definitely capable of ordering a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities,” Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told The Cable in a Friday interview.

“I don’t know that the president will order a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities even if the sanctions don’t work, but I know that he’s capable of doing that and I believe he’s prepared to do that,” Lieberman said, adding that he doesn’t think Obama would ever send ground troops to Iran.

The US, Israel and their allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and have used this allegation as a pretext to convince the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions on Iran.

On New Year’s Eve, President Obama signed into law fresh unilateral economic sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with the Iranian financial institution.

The European Union followed suit with its foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton threatening Tehran with continuing sanctions. “I expect Iran will realize that we will continue with sanctions. EU members are discussing further sanctions right now,” she said.

The EU foreign ministers are expected to hold a meeting later this month on January 23 to discuss the proposed embargo on Iran’s oil exports.

Washington and Tel Aviv have also used nuclear weapons allegations to repeatedly threaten Tehran with the “option” of a military strike.

On December 20, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that Iran was one year away from building an atomic weapon, threatening that Washington will take every step “necessary” to stop Tehran’s nuclear program.

Less than a week later, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said the US military is ready to launch a military strike against Iran, if occasion necessitates.

With the upcoming US presidential election, the Republican candidates have similarly heightened the anti-Iran rhetoric, in an apparent bid to win over the Zionist lobby.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials have also recently stepped up their war rhetoric against Iran. On November 21, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned the “time has come” to deal with Iran. Israeli President Shimon Peres also threatened on November 6 that an attack against Iran is becoming “more and more likely.”

Iran has categorically refuted the US-led allegations regarding its nuclear program, saying that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Iranian officials have also promised a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.

http://presstv.com/detail/221208.html