U.S.-Funded Group In Egypt Linked to Global Intrigue

A U.S.-based advocacy group raided by Egyptian authorities in December possessed maps showing a break-up of Egypt into four smaller nations, according to an Egyptian news report that tends to conflict with mainstream reporting by prominent United States media. Egypt arrested staffers at four U.S.-based "Non-Government Organizations" (NGOs) and is holding suspects for trial. U.S. officials have protested and suggested that Egyptian authorities trumped up criminal charges to stall democratic reforms after last year's overthrow of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, at right. Hosni Mubarak

On Feb. 8, El Akhbar in Egypt headlined a news article, 'Maps' Cited in Arrest of Foreign NGO Workers, Including 19 Americans. The report said, according to a translation, Judge Sameh Abu-Zeid confirmed that authorities found maps at the headquarters of the International Republican Institute [IRI]. He said the maps divide Egypt into four regions. "The first area is named 'Canal,' the second 'Greater Cairo,' the third 'Delta' and the fourth 'Upper Egypt.'" Another publication cited as context a report that some Westerners have studied ways for Africa's most populous nation to be partitioned into smaller nations, reducing its overall influence.

Update: Several speakers at a National Press Club forum Feb. 14 on press freedoms in the Middle East said they have not heard of the Egyptian government's claim that it had seized partition maps from IRI, forming part of the basis for charges in a crackdown NGOs.

More generally, the controversy puts a global spotlight on U.S. government-funded NGOs. Inevitably, they must balance their need to seem both benign and effective. Few can argue with a mission of "democracy-building." But specific activities involve such tasks as fostering fair voting (sometimes through advanced election machine technology susceptible to manipulation), journalism independent of government, and vigorous civic bodies, which may pressure or otherwise protest government officials. These activities can prove highly controversial abroad, just as the are in the United States when undertaken by American citizens. Here, authorities around the nation have moved to disperse the Occupy encampments, for example, while many of the same government leaders and pundits who criticize U.S. street protesters and whistleblowers applauding such protests elsewhere. But imagine if those Occupy protests had been encouraged by unregistered Egyptian activists working behind the scenes with journalists, voting machine experts and opposition leaders? And what if Egyptian-government funded advisors to U.S. protesters had flouted laws on registration and were then discovered to have maps showing the break-up of the United States into four smaller nations?

Less hypothetically, arrests of more journalists in the Murdoch empire's "hacking" scandal over the weekend show that even in the West "news-gathering" may have links to illegal electronic surveillance and political intrigue with enormous blackmail potential.

Somewhat similarly, our Project provides below an exclusive report showing how IRI used U.S. taxpayer funds nearly a decade ago to provide Croatian journalists with a website designed by Republican IT guru Michael Connell, who later facilitated the transfer of 2004 Presidential voting results from Ohio to arch-enemies of the Democratic candidate before results were announced to the public. Details are sparse on precisely what the now-deceased Connell did with either those Ohio voting results or earlier with Croatian journalists. We don't know, for example, whether he arranged for any ongoing monitoring of the Croatian journalists' reports and other activity. Nonetheless, there are legitimate questions in whether U.S. taxpayers were creating problems by hiring a prominent partisan -- who would become a key player in 2004 voting in Ohio in what some U.S. critics regard as one of the most important suspected election machine frauds in world history -- to advise others around the world on good practices for democracy-building.

Justin Raimondo drew such contrasts Feb. 10 in his column, The ‘Cairo 19′ Got What They Deserve, published in Antiwar.com. "Egypt, like the US, has strict controls on foreign interference in its internal politics: foreign-funded organizations must register with the government, and give a complete accounting of their activities. The US has even stricter controls: foreign contributions to electoral activities on American soil are forbidden by US law, and, in addition, groups receiving funding from foreign governments must register as foreign agents. The penalty for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine – roughly equivalent (except for the fine) to the penalty faced by the “Cairo 19.”

Neither IRI nor NDI ever registered with the authorities in Egypt: the claim is that they didn’t do so because “the laws required licenses that were almost never granted” and “exerted government control over foreign contributions.” Of course, the New York Times reporter who wrote this neglected to inform his readers that the US absolutely bans any foreign intervention in the electoral process on its own soil. That’s the Americans’ signature stance in the world: one standard for me, and another for thee….It’s hard to believe anyone with the least bit of objectivity would blame the Egyptians for reacting to interference in their politics the way they have."

Update 2: Michael Collins provided an important complementary analysis Feb. 14 in NGOs Explain Away Egyptian Indictments.He summarized an "NGO Version of Egyptian Legal Problems" as follows:

Like the Republican and Democratic NGOs, both Freedom House and the journalist's organization receive financial support from NED. Several NGOs feeling the pain in Egypt put together an analysis of the situation: Backgrounder: The Campaign Against NGOs in Egypt, Project for Middle East Democracy, February 10, 2012. The report fails to mention any legitimate objection Egypt or any other host nation might have to an aggressive foreign superpower trying to influence the host nation's governance. In fact, the report is littered with claims that the organizations don't take sides. They're just on the ground to promote the political process. A look back at the long history of NGO democracy groups shows just the opposite. In the Ukraine's Orange Revolution, democracy NGOs, Bush administration officials, and their supposed enemy George Soros were highly partisan, using arguments to overturn the 2004 Ukraine election while they all stood silent about the stolen election of 2004.

Collins continues as follows:

When the host nation has a crisis and the NGOs get a little too involved, the host nation must tolerate this interference without complaint. Egypt's government had enough over the past few months. Rep. Ron Paul summed up the hypocrisy of the NGO democracy organizations during a House of Representatives speech opposing funding on October 7, 2003: "How would Americans feel if the Chinese arrived with millions of dollars to support certain candidates deemed friendly to China? Would this be viewed as a democratic development?"

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan Administration who believes fellow conservatives and Democrats alike have strayed far from our nation's constitutional roots, published a hard-hitting column Feb. 14 entitled Is Western Democracy Real or a Facade? In it, he says, "Recent events in Greece and Italy have created more skepticism of the West’s claim to be democratic. Two elected European prime ministers, George Papandreou of Greece and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, were forced to resign over the sovereign debt issue. Not even Berlusconi, a billionaire who continues to lead the largest Italian political party, could stand up to the pressure brought by private bankers and unelected European Union officials."

But much of the nation's mainstream news coverage differs sharply from the Collins-Raimondo and sometime Roberts perspective, although few pundits address the specifics they raise. Thus, the Washington Post relies heavily on foreign affairs and human rights experts to decry the prosecutions in recent news articles. Two examples are: In Egypt, NGO crackdown and draft law have chilling effect and NGO workers could face 5 years in prison, Egyptian judges say. Similarly, the prominent human rights attorney Scott Horton published a column in Harper's entitled, Egypt’s War on NGOs.

Egypt Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, appointed by the military in December, has insisted that U.S. threats to withdraw U.S. aid from Egypt will not help the 19 American NGO employees now in Egyptian custody. The prime minister, shown at left in a Wikipedia photo, is an economist who previously served as the post from 1996 to 1999. News reports described him at the time as "Minister of the Poor" because of policies of dealing with those with limited income. Mubarak was Egypt's fokamal Ganzouriurth President, beginning in 1981 following the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. Last April, a prosecutor ordered Mubarak and his two sons to undergo questioning about claims of corruption and abuse of power. He is being tried on charges of premeditated murder of peaceful protesters during the revolution against him that began a year ago. Authorities said they are investigating him also on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of his predecessor, Sadat.

As an example of U.S. news coverage, the Washington Post's news article in its hard copy Feb. 12 took a dim view of Egypt's raids against the NGOs. Headlined In Egypt, NGO crackdown and draft law have chilling effect, it reported:

A few months before Egyptians are to elect a new president, groups that have played key roles in the elections of emerging democracies elsewhere in the region are paralyzed by a widening criminal probe of such organizations, backed by the country’s ruling generals. Other nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers in Egypt are trying to keep a low profile, saying they worry about being named in the legal case or otherwise affected by the broader cloud of suspicion hanging over foreign-funded groups.

“This has become a huge impediment to the U.S.’s ability to deliver and to have an impact with its aid,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy. “This is casting a real shadow over all U.S. assistance to Egypt.”

Egyptian activists who are not targets of the probe say it has set an ominous tone for human rights and political freedoms in Egypt — two of the main goals of a popular revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. The concerns triggered by the crackdown have been exacerbated by a draft law that would close the loopholes allowing NGOs to register as corporations or other types of private entities.

Protesters continue to demand the council’s ouster, most recently by calling for a mass strike Saturday, the one-year anniversary of Mubarak’s ouster. Egypt’s foreign reserves are running dangerously low and the tourism industry, a pillar of the economy, is in a tailspin.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY.) said last week that the United States should suspend the nearly $1.5 billion in aid the United States is expected to give Egypt this year, unless the country’s military chiefs cease “using American citizens as scapegoats for the continuing upheaval in Egypt,” according to the Post report. A tone of strong disapproval is conveyed also by the National Press Club (NPC) announcement of a Feb. 14 forum, NPC plans repression of expression in Mideast event, that was developed in cooperation with Freedom House, among others.

Update 3: I attended the forum at the Press Club organized by its Press Freedom Committee chaired by John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at Congressional Quarterly covering defense and foreign policy issues. I asked several panelists and audience members if they had heard of the Egyptian government's claim of finding partition maps at IRI. Only an audience member working for an Egyptian news organization had heard of the report. Donnelly, who worked nearly a near as a Club volunteer assembling the expert panel, responded that such a government claim, if true, probably deserves to be included news coverage along with proper context. Another panelist, speaking only on a non-attribution basis, said that any characterization (such as Raimondo's) comparing NGOs in Europe to foreign counterparts in the United States wrong because the United States encourages privately funded civic activity at home and abroad.

I always welcome responses from such experts. Yet my reaction in this instance is that foreigners maybe less impressed than many Americans with the pass-through mechanisms that our nation's taxpayer-funded NGOs use in combination with private donations to maintain their claims that they are "non-government." Several of the relevant NGOs were created during the 1980s to avoid direct government funded, but benefit from the funds via intermediaries. The classification problem is perenniel not simply for general civic organizations that receive income from both public and private sources, but for the news media also. The simplistic notion is that the West relies on private media. But distinctions can be blurred in many instances. Advocates for the Voice of America would argue that its government-funded voice is more independent than even largely private media outlets in some nations. Somewhat similarly, those in the United Kingdom can vigorously debate whether government-subsidized BBC or the Murdoch-controlled News Corp. provides the more independent coverage of political figures. That debate is further complicated by multiple recent arrests of Murdoch employees in the nation's hacking scandal. Revelations involve not simply alleged News Corp. blackmail of entertainers from information gleaned through illegal wiretapping. Also, news reports suggest efforts to tap politicians -- who may have been pressured as a result to cooperate with Murdoch executives in as-yet unknown ways that undercut a notion of strict separation.  

NGO Work In Croatia

Moreover, some U.S.-based critics of the NGOs say their activities can create deep suspicions in foreign nations about whether the NGOs primarily help foreign nations or important interests in the West. Our Justice Integrity Project received a 51-page IRI report this weekend, for example. It reported to IRI's funders at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on how IRI spent government funding for projects in Croatia during the years 2001 to 2004.

Among the IRI projects was one listed on page 13 to use federal funding to hire the then-prominent Republican Internet and web design consultant Michael Connell to set up websites for Croatian journalists. Previously, Republicans in Washington had hired Connell to set up IT services for Congress, the Bush White House and for such regional projects as electronic back-up services for the Ohio Secretary of State's offices for voting returns in the 2004 Presidential election. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell was also chairman of Ohio's Bush-Cheney re-election committee that year, showing a vital conflict in the voting process not uncommon in major voting scandals.

Michael ConnellOhio voters alleging election fraud in that race later subpoenaed Connell, shown at right with a Bush-Cheney photo, as an adverse witness to describe how and why he would give a partisan voting consultancy in Tennessee access to Ohio's returns before they were announced to the public -- especially when Ohio';s results that year determined the Presidential race nationwide.

Connell's deposition in November 2008 was not released publicly until last summer. In it, he said that Ohio voting officials requested him to arrange for Ohio's 2004 vote totals to be sent on Election Day to SmarTech, a Republican consultancy that also handled Bush White House emails (many of them later reported lost when disclosure advocates and Congressional investigators sought them). In 2004, the consultancy also handled IT work for the advocacy group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which opposed the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry.

Plaintiff attorneys in the suit announced they were so pleased with Connell's admissions that they intended to make him one of their two key witnesses at trial along with another Republican IT expert, Stephen Spoonamore. The latter said Ohio's electronic arrangement with SmartTech facilitated by Connell provided an excellent opportunity for those involved, should they desire, to switch vote totals without public awareness.

But Connell is unavailable for further questions. An accomplished pilot, he died the month when his plane crashed the month after his deposition. Our Project reported on that deposition and death last summer in Cutting Through Hype, Hypocrisy of Vote Fraud Claims, a survey of major books, articles and lawsuits about voting fraud allegations nationwide in the United States over the previous decade.

In fairness to Connell, the article noted that friends and family believe he was motivated by intense anti-abortion views that justified in his mind strong support for Republicans. The company's officials have denied any wrongdoing, and seek additional business from a wide array of clients globally. Smartech grew out of an affiliate with a slightly different spelling, Smarttech. Its parent company, Airnet, describes itself as follows on its website: "Airnet is the parent company of SMARTech, Stream to You, and Wireless in the Parks and is known for providing businesses and organizations with high performance technology in Wireless and Wireless Mesh Networking, Data and Disaster Recovery Services, and Internet Services....We are a privately owned company serving regional, national and international customers."

Summing Up

Whatever the past in Croatia, Ohio and elsewhere, the news now is in Egypt. Americans can either read simply our news reports, or seek to understand the complications -- including a threat that Egyptian government leaders may feel dwarfs the military aid the United States is offering to free the NGO suspects. For Egyptian perspective, the Moderate Voice quoted columnist Muhammad Dunia of Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram as saying:

Up to now, some thought the ravings about this suspicious plot were for domestic political consumption only. But during the investigation into illegal funding of non-governmental organizations by Egyptian justice, maps were found inside an American non-governmental organization [the International Republican Institute] laying out plans to partition the country. The subject wasn’t really a secret, as a scheme to divide Egypt into an Islamic State in the North and a Christian one in the South was leaked on the Internet not long ago. This is particularly dangerous because some international media have exploited the protests at the Maspiro TV station [by Coptic Christians -- 27 were killed]. Certain analysts and researchers of Middle East affairs sought to revive the notion by posting partition maps on the Web. This demonstrates both foreign and domestic hands behind what is happening now in Egypt.

Westerners may disagree with such comments both in terms of specific facts and general conclusions. Yet it's incontestable that one of the great ironies of Washington's highly active and lucrative industry in NGO-democracy-building is that recipients overseas of the instruction don't always agree with what they're told.


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Selected News Reports Referenced Above

OpEd News, NGOs Explain Away Egyptian Indictments, Michael Collins, Feb. 14, 2012. During the 2011 Egyptian protest movement, United States government had its stealth agents in place. It also had its proxies in worldwide democracy movement, the non-government organizations (NGOs) operating with funding from the neoconservative leaning National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The International Republican Institute started up in Egypt in 2005. Its counterpart, the National Democratic Institute has been there since 1995. For two decades, the Chamber of Commerce Center for International Private Enterprise and the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center carried out their work in Egypt under one name or another. Here's how it works. A sovereign state receiving aid or otherwise under the influence of the United States is required to open up to NGOs from the United States funded by the U.S. government. The pass through organization, NED, serves as the cutout that allows the various NGOs to look independent. But they're not. These organizations would be out of business exist without your tax dollars.

Washington Post, Egypt sets trial date for pro-democracy workers, Ernesto Londoño, Feb. 18, 2012. The trial of 43 people charged with unlawfully conducting pro-democracy work will begin Feb. 26, state media reported Saturday, in the latest sign that the Egyptian government is disinclined to heed Washington’s warning that failure to drop the matter could lead to a cut off of U.S. aid. The announcement of a trial date for the defendants, including at least 16 Americans, came as the state-run newspaper, al-Ahram, published several stories that portrayed the work of the non-government organizations as underhanded and a threat to Egypt’s sovereignty. Egypt's ruling generals appear to be playing a risky game of brinkmanship by cracking down on American nonprofit groups that promote democracy there. Some say the move may threaten U.S. foreign aid to Cairo. The al-Ahram report Saturday said the pro-democracy organizations ramped up efforts and spending after last year’s wintertime revolt. Their work “served specific political tendencies and countries’ agendas, despite the fact that they did not have a license to operate,” the newspaper reported.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Egypt-U.S. Dispute: Cairo Refuses To Back Down Over NGO-Row, Sarah El Deeb, Feb. 8, 2012. Egypt refused to back down Wednesday in a dispute with the U.S. over Cairo's crackdown on nonprofit groups despite Washington's threats to cut aid, while the military deployed troops to the nation's streets after a surge in violence and protests against its rule. Egypt's official MENA news agency said the army was deploying more troops to reinforce the police, restore security and state "prestige." The move comes in the wake of a deadly soccer riot last week that sparked days of clashes between the police and protesters. At least 89 people were killed in a week of violence. On Sunday, Egyptian investigative judges referred 16 Americans and 27 others to trial on accusations they illegally used foreign funds to foment unrest in the country. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called on Egypt to release the Americans, saying the 16 "have not done anything wrong." Egyptian authorities put the number of Americans referred to trial at 19, but Nuland on Tuesday said there are 16 Americans in the case.

Harper's / No Comment, Egypt’s War on NGOs, Scott Horton, Feb. 7, 2012. It may well be that Egyptian prosecutors (and more importantly, the Egyptian military) believe that organizations dedicated to promoting democracy are actually working to overthrow the Egyptian state in the interests of some foreign power. Similar allegations were widely disseminated during the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Throughout the Arab Spring, affected governments similarly whispered that the opposition had been instigated by some shadowy foe—be it Al Qaeda, Israel, or the United States. Placing the blame for domestic problems on the unseen hand of a foreign foe is an ancient and sometimes effective strategy for a government in extremis.....Whether they occur in Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Hungary, or Israel, attacks on NGOs, especially those focused on democracy advocacy and human rights, are the hallmark of il-liberalism. In Egypt, they demonstrate how the revolution has run off course. And they show the country’s deep-seated suspicion of the United States. The Obama Administration is right to treat these developments with alarm. So should the Egyptians still protesting at Tahrir Square.

AntiWar.com, The ‘Cairo 19′ Got What They Deserve, Justin Raimondo, Feb. 11, 2012. Egypt, like the US, has strict controls on foreign interference in its internal politics: foreign-funded organizations must register with the government, and give a complete accounting of their activities. The US has even stricter controls: foreign contributions to electoral activities on American soil are forbidden by US law, and, in addition, groups receiving funding from foreign governments must register as foreign agents. The penalty for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine – roughly equivalent (except for the fine) to the penalty faced by the “Cairo 19.” Neither IRI nor NDI ever registered with the authorities in Egypt: the claim is that they didn’t do so because “the laws required licenses that were almost never granted” and “exerted government control over foreign contributions.” Of course, the New York Times reporter who wrote this neglected to inform his readers that the US absolutely bans any foreign intervention in the electoral process on its own soil. That’s the Americans’ signature stance in the world: one standard for me, and another for thee….It’s hard to believe anyone with the least bit of objectivity would blame the Egyptians for reacting to interference in their politics the way they have.

El Akhbar (Egypt), 'Maps' Cited in Arrest of Foreign NGO Workers, Including 19 Americans, By Yusuf Jamal Masrawi, Translated by Nicolas Dagher, Feb. 8, 2012. Judges Ashraf el Ashmawy and Sameh Abu-Zeid, appointed by Justice Minister Adel Abdul Hamid to look into the issue of foreign funding of non-governmental organizations, have held a press conference to reveal the results of their investigation. The judges offered some of the facts surrounding their decision to forbid 43 defendants, including 19 Americans, from leaving the country, and to refer them to the Cairo Criminal Court to face trial on charges of administering NGOs without the necessary permits. See also, Moderate Voice, Raids on Offices of American NGOs Reveal Scheme to ‘Partition’ Egypt, William Kern, Feb.11, 2011.

Washington Post, In Egypt, NGO crackdown and draft law have chilling effect, Ernesto Londoño, Feb. 11, 2012. A crackdown on U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups in Egypt and a bill before parliament that would further restrict nongovernmental organizations here are inhibiting development work and activism during a period many Egyptians hoped would be marked by greater freedoms.

Washington Post, NGO workers could face 5 years in prison, Egyptian judges say, Ernesto Londoño, Ernesto Londoño,  Feb. 8, 2012. Egypt’s prime minister said Wednesday that the government would not drop a criminal probe into U.S.-funded pro-democracy organizations, and officials said the Egyptians and Americans charged in the case could face up to five years in prison.  The remarks by the investigative judges handling the case — the most detailed characterization of the government’s case against the pro-democracy workers to date — did not suggest that authorities had uncovered nefarious or subversive activities.

National Press Club, NPC plans repression of expression in Mideast event, John Donnelly, Feb. 13, 2012. The National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee plans to host a panel to examine the latest Mideast trends on repression of expression on Feb. 14. With a violent crackdown raging in Syria and the future of countries from Libya to Egypt still uncertain, the Mideast remains a top focus of world news. But more than a year after the start of the Arab Spring, reporters and citizens trying to document these events remain under siege. The panel will examine how regimes are repressing the media and the Internet communications of their people. The moderator will be Frank Smyth, executive director of Global Journalist Security (journalistsecurity.net) and senior advisor for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Panelists include Nada Alwadi, a Bahraini journalist; Abderrahim Foukara, Al Jazeera’s Washington bureau chief; Jeff Ghannam, a lawyer, writer and former reporter who has contributed widely to the debate on social media and media development in the Arab region; Clare Morgana Gillis, a US-based freelancer with Mideast experience who was jailed in Libya last year; and Courtney C. Radsch, program manager for the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign. Assisting the National Press Club in this event are: Freedom House, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance.

OpEd News, Has America's stolen election process finally hit prime time? Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Dec. 29, 2011. It took two stolen US Presidential elections and the prospect of another one coming up in 2012. For years the Democratic Party and even much of the left press has reacted with scorn for those who've reported on it. But the imperial fraud that has utterly corrupted our electoral process seems finally to be dawning on a broadening core of the American electorate -- if it can still be called that. The shift is highlighted by three major developments: 1. The NAACP goes to the United Nations. 2. The Justice Department awakens; and 3. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) finally finds that voting machines are programmed to be partisan. The theft of our elections has finally taken a leap into the mainstream of the American mind. Whether that leads to concrete reforms before another presidential election is stolen remains to be seen. But after more than a decade of ignorance and contempt, it's about time something gets done to restore a semblance of democracy to the nation that claims to be the world's oldest.

Justice Integrity Project, Cutting Through Hype, Hypocrisy of Vote Fraud Claims, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 13, 2011. Recent events show why election theft deserves much more scrutiny than it receives from either government officials or news reporters. Most dramatically, a federal judge has released the 2008 testimony of GOP IT guru Michael Connell. The Ohio resident died in a mysterious plane crash that year after anonymous warnings he would be killed if he testified about his work with Karl Rove and others helping the Bush-Cheney ticket win in 2000 and 2004.

AntiWar.com, Notes in the Margin, Justin Raimondo, Feb. 10, 2012. Bad news: it looks like Judge Andrew Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” – one of the most popular programs on Fox Business News – has been axed by Roger Ailes and his neocon friends. Fox Business has some other libertarian and quasi-libertarian commentators, but — unlike the Judge — they rarely bring up foreign policy from a non-interventionist perspective. Napolitano’s radical libertarianism, which owes more to Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises than to the US Chamber of Commerce, was apparently too much for Ailes to put up with, and the final straw was no doubt the Judge’s unbridled enthusiasm for Ron Paul. The Judge violated the first commandment of Fox News commentators, which is to always and in every instance support the War Party to the hilt.

Related Global News

Marcello Ferrado de NoliAugosto Pinochet Professors Blogg (Sweden), Sweden and Pinochet: On torture crimes, extradition lawyers, and politically designed judges, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, at left, Feb. 13, 2012. “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder does not prosecute U.S. torturers; he prosecutes those who speak out about U.S. torture. Will Julian Assange be next?” says human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, legal advisor to Assange. "The analysis of this blog," writes Dr. Ferrada-Noli, a longtime professor of medicine, "reviews in similar fashion thec historical background of Swedish policy regarding extradition of political prisoners. We revisit the risks as to whether Swedish authorities would give their prospective prisoner Assange -- already accused by high-profile U.S. politicians of being a terrorist -- to the United States. Sweden undertook a shameful and largely hidden policy during and after World War II, for example, to return political refugees to Russia. In 1998, pro-USA Swedish officials declined to support the extradition to face trial in Spain of CIA-installed dictator Augusto Pinochet, then in London and shown at right in a Wikipedia photo. Spain, then as now, asserts universal jurisdiction on crimes involving politically motivated torture and assassination. Spanish authorities documented how Pinochet's forces had inflicted these crimes in Chile on hundreds of political prisoners later living in exile in Sweden, including this author."

New York Times, Hacking Cases Focus on Memo to a Murdoch, Sarah Lyall and Ravi Somaiya, Feb. 11, 2012. As dozens of investigators and high-powered lawyers converge on Rupert Murdoch’s News International in the phone hacking scandal, attention has focused on the printout of an e-mail excavated three months ago from a sealed carton left behind in an empty company office. Addressed to Mr. Murdoch’s son James, it contained explosive information about the scale of phone hacking at The News of the World tabloid — information James Murdoch says he failed to take in because he did not read the whole e-mail chain. The e-mail returned to cause trouble for News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of News Corporation, several weeks ago when the company said that it had been deleted from Mr. Murdoch’s computer. Even as people familiar with the investigations said the e-mail and its convoluted history will form a crucial part of the inquiry into allegations of a cover-up, the scandal appeared to be widening on Saturday, as senior journalists at News Corporation’s Sun tabloid were arrested.

The Guardian (United Kingdom), Murdoch media empire engulfed in scandal as Scotland Yard's net spreads; Increasing arrests and suspicions of bribery puts News Corporations' global interests under greater scrutiny, Jamie Doward, Feb. 11, 2012. Dark rumours were swirling as long ago as last spring, when Rupert and James Murdoch paid three unprecedented visits to Wapping in the space of a month. Not only were father and son considering closing the scandal-racked News of the World, went the chatter on the Wapping grapevine, but its sister paper, the Sun, was also in the line of fire. Back then the fears seemed outlandish, born of the febrile atmosphere around the Sunday title that was to bring about its demise last July. There was little evidence the toxic allegations of malpractice would spread to the daily tabloid.

AGI (Italy), Anonymous attacked Putin's Party, raising havoc on Webpage, Feb. 11, 2012. The Anonymous hacker group, now very active, attacked two regional offices of United Russia, Vladimir Putin's party. The hackers raised havoc in Moscow's regional er-region.ru Webpage and the party's udm-er.ru page in the Udmurt Republic. The hacking was reported by the group through a now-customary message on its Twitter profile. It is Anonymous' third attack on Russia, which they blame of having tampered with the final results of last December's parliamentary elections. Two webpages of the Russian Premier's party have been blacked out since Wednesday while the website of the party's branch office in Kaluga, a city close to Moscow, was put out of service on Thursday.

Wall Street Journal, Syria Peace Force Fails to Gain Traction, Joe Lauria, Feb. 13 2012.  Britain and Russia dismissed the Arab League's call to for a peacekeeping force in Syria, as the United Nations accused the Assad regime of escalating the crisis, with thousands dead and tens of thousands arrested, fleeing the country and displaced internally.  William Hague, the British foreign secretary, told reporters in South Africa, "I don't see the way forward in Syria as being Western boots on the ground in any form, including in any peacekeeping form. I think they would need to come from other countries rather than Western nations."

Moscow Times, Putin Chasing Imaginary American Ghosts,  Michael Bohm, Feb. 9, 2012. We have heard claims that the United States is trying to orchestrate an Orange Revolution in Russia many times before, but it was never this intense. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent the first signal in late November when he called Russians who receive certain foreign grants "Judases" and said it is necessary to strengthen the punishment for Russians "who carry out the orders of foreign states." A week later, Putin claimed that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instigated the opposition protests. The gambit seemed to work. A Levada survey held shortly after showed that 23 percent of those polled believed that the protesters were paid by the United States, while 47 percent had difficulty answering. Mikhail Leontyev, host of the "Odnako" program on Channel One, picked up on Putin's cues in his Jan. 17 show, implying that U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul has been sent to Moscow to carry out an Orange Revolution. McFaul has a perfect background for this mission, Leontyev said. After all, McFaul's academic specialty is revolutionary movements and democracy, and he even wrote a book with the suspicious title Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. If that were not enough, 20 years ago McFaul worked as a senior adviser to the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. nongovernmental organization that is "well known for its close ties to U.S. intelligence organizations," Leontyev said.

Salon, U.S. v. Pakistan on transparency and accountability, Glenn Greenwald, Feb.13, 2012. Virtually without exception, the American judiciary has refused to allow any victims of America’s War on Terror abuses — whether foreign national or American citizen — to even have their claims heard in court. Federal courts have repeatedly shielded government officials from any accountability for these abuses, not by ruling in their favor on the merits, but by ruling that they need not answer for their actions at all. Courts have accomplished this whitewashing by accepting the Bush and Obama DOJ’s arguments that government actions undertaken as part of the War on Terror are completely shielded from judicial review — i.e., from the rule of law — by both secrecy doctrines (it’s too secret to risk having a court examine) and immunity prerogatives (government officials cannot be sued even for egregious wrongdoing committed while in office). Here are just a few illustrative examples:

New York Times, Britain Shouldn’t Aid a Lawless America, Eric L. Lewis, Feb. 13, 2012. The British government will be held in contempt of court later this week if it does not physically produce a prisoner of war whom its special forces captured in 2004 and then handed over to American soldiers.  The current legal drama began in February 2004, when two Pakistani rice merchants, Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, disappeared on a business trip to Iran. They were held incommunicado for nearly a year before their families learned that they had been captured by British forces in Iraq and then turned over to American soldiers.  The two men were transferred in accordance with an American-British-Australian agreement mandating observance of the Geneva Conventions and stipulating that all prisoners must be returned, if requested, to the country that originally transferred them.

Paul Craig Roberts.org, Is Western Democracy Real or a Facade? Feb. 14, 2012. The United States government and its NATO puppets have been killing Muslim men, women and children for a decade in the name of bringing them democracy. But is the West itself a democracy? Skeptics point out that President George W. Bush was put in office by the Supreme Court and that a number of other elections have been decided by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail. Others note that elected officials represent the special interests that fund their campaigns and not the voters. The bailout of the banks arranged by Bush’s Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs chairman, Henry Paulson, and Washington’s failure to indict any banksters for the fraud that contributed to the financial crisis, are evidence in support of the view that the US government represents money and not the voters.