Friday, October 31, 2008

Exxon Untouched in Global Financial Crisis - Oil Never Loses!

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Exxon Mobil sets record with $45.2 billion profitBy John Porretto
AP Energy Writer
Posted on Friday, 01.30.2009
http://www.miamiherald.com/business/nation/story/879748.html
HOUSTON -- Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for a U.S. company, even as its fourth-quarter earnings fell 33 percent from a year ago.
The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which the world's largest publicly traded oil company set in 2007.
The extraordinary full-year profit wasn't a surprise given crude's triple-digit price for much of 2008, peaking near an unheard of $150 a barrel in July. Since then, however, prices have fallen roughly 70 percent amid a deepening global economic crisis.
In the fourth quarter alone crude tumbled 60 percent, prompting spending and job cuts in an industry that was reporting robust, often record, profits as recently as last summer.
With piles of cash and diversified operations, the majors like Exxon Mobil have fared better than many smaller oil and gas companies, but Friday's results show no one is completely insulated from the ongoing malaise.
Irving, Texas-based Exxon said net income slid sharply to $7.8 billion, or $1.55 a share, in the October-December period. That compared with $11.7 billion, or $2.13 a share, in the same period a year ago, when Exxon set a U.S. record for quarterly profit. It has since topped that mark twice, first in last year's second quarter and then with earnings of $14.83 billion in the third quarter.
Revenue in the most-recent quarter fell 27 percent to $84.7 billion.
Both the per-share and revenue results topped Wall Street forecasts. On average, analysts expected the company to earn $1.45 a share in the latest quarter on revenue of $69.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
Shares rose $1.52, or 2 percent, to $78.52 in early trading.
The nation's second largest oil company, Chevron Corp., reported profits of $4.9 billion for the fourth quarter, though revenues slid 26 percent with oil prices in sharp decline.
It earned $2.44 per share in the three months ended Dec. 31. Like Exxon, Chevron easily beat expectations of analysts, who were looking for profits of $1.81 per share.
The industry went into retrenchment toward the end of the year with demand falling.
As expected, Exxon Mobil's bottom line took a beating from its exploration and production, or upstream, arm, where net income fell 31 percent to $5.6 billion. The culprit: lower crude prices, which the company said decreased earnings by $3.2 billion in the fourth quarter alone.
The company, which produces about 3 percent of the world's oil, said overall output fell 3 percent in the most-recent period, a troubling trend in previous quarters. Exxon, which generates more than two-thirds of its earnings from oil and gas production, said production-sharing contracts and OPEC quotas contributed to its lower output.
Results were better at its refining and marketing unit, where earnings rose 6 percent to $2.4 billion as higher margins overcame costs related to last summer's hurricanes and other factors.
The company's chemical division also took a hit, posting net income of $155 million versus $1.1 billion a year ago. Results were hurt by lower volumes and margins and hurricane-repair costs.
Exxon Mobil said it bought 119 million shares of its common stock in the quarter at a cost of $8.8 billion. Roughly $8 billion of that amount was dedicated to reducing the number of shares outstanding; the balance was used to offset shares issued as part of the company's benefit plans.
Exxon said it spent $26.1 billion on capital and exploration projects last year, up 25 percent from 2007. Its earnings release provided no information about its planned spending for 2009.
For the full year, Exxon Mobil's massive profit amounted to $8.69 a share, versus $7.28 a share a year ago.
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Exxon Mobil: Biggest profit in history
The largest U.S. oil company surges past analysts' estimates with a posted net income of $14.83 billion and sets a national record for quarterly profit.
By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: October 30, 2008: 3:28 PM ET
http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/30/news/companies/exxon_earnings/index.htm?cnn=yes
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. set a quarterly profit record for a U.S. company Thursday, surging past analyst estimates.
Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), the leading U.S. oil company, said its third-quarter net profit was $14.83 billion, or $2.86 per share, up from $9.41 billion, or $1.70, a year earlier. That profit included $1.45 billion in special items.
The company's prior record was $11.68 billion in the second quarter of 2008.
The latest quarter's net income equaled $1,865.69 per second, nearly $400 a second more than the prior mark.
The company said its revenue totaled $137.7 billion in the third quarter.
Analysts had expected Exxon to report a 40% jump in earnings to $2.38 per share, or net income of $12.2 billion, and a 28% surge in revenue to $131.13 billion, according to a consensus of estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
The company's earnings were buoyed by oil prices, which reached record highs in the quarter before declining. Oil prices were trading at $140.97 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and had fallen to $100.64 at the end.
Compare that to 2007, when prices traded at $71.09 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and rose to $81.66 by the end.
Last of the big quarters
Exxon's special charges include the gain of $1.62 billion from the sale of a German natural gas company. It also includes the $170 million charge in interest related to punitive damages from the Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan coast in 1989.
The Irving, Texas-based company said it lost $50 million, before taxes, in oil revenue because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The company expects damages related to these hurricanes to reduce fourth-quarter earnings by $500 million.
Exxon's stock price slipped by about 2% in afternoon trading. Bernie McGinn, Chief Executive of McGinn Investment Management and owner of 30,000 Exxon shares, said he wasn't surprised, given the recent downturn in oil prices.
"That's probably the last of the big profit quarters, at least for now," said McGinn. "You can't make the case that it's going to continue."
Despite the surge in profit, Exxon said oil production was down 8% in the third quarter, compared to the same period last year.
The company also said it is spending more money to locate new sources of oil. Exxon said it spent $6.9 billion on oil exploration in the third quarter, a jump of 26% from the same period last year. The company said it began a new program to tap natural gas offshore from Nigeria.
More investments
Exxon also has an aggressive program for buying back stock, with 109 million of its shares repurchased during the third quarter, at a cost of $8.7 billion.
In a conference call with analysts, David Rosenthal, vice president of investor relations for Exxon, said the company's "first priority" is using profits to continue investing in exploration programs for oil and other resources.
Rosenthal said the company would also consider using new-found funds to bolster its dividend, buy back more shares and to purchase other companies, but he declined to offer specific details.
Phil Weiss, analyst for Argus Research, said he doesn't expect Exxon to break any more profit records in future quarters.
"I don't expect the fourth quarter to be nearly as good as the third because of lower oil prices," said Weiss.
Analysts also said that demand for gasoline is falling, which could impact Exxon and other oil companies.
"While oil companies benefit from high oil prices in the short run, they might lose in the long run," Anas Alhajji, chief economist for NGP Energy Capital Management, wrote in an email to CNNMoney.com. "Higher oil prices lead to lower demand, as we have seen in recent months."
Earlier Thursday, Europe's leading oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA), reported a 22% gain in net profit for the third quarter, to $8.45 billion. The company said sales rose 45% to $132 billion.
Exxon is the second-largest company in the Fortune 500 in terms of annual sales, behind Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, Fortune 500).
Exxon's stock price has fallen about 20% so far this year, compared to the S&P 500, which has fallen about 36%.

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Exxon guns for all-time profit record
Surging crude prices could help the oil giant post the biggest bottom line ever for a U.S. firm; refining margins, rising costs could get in the way.
By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer
January 23 2008: 1:29 PM EST
http://www.worldproutassembly.org/archives/2008/01/exxon_guns_for.html
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, is within striking distance of setting an all-time profit record - again.
Analysts are expecting the company to post solid quarterly and full-year earnings next Friday (see correction below) - and if the results top forecasts, Exxon (XOM, Fortune 500) could end up reporting the highest profit ever for a U.S. company.
With oil prices having recently crossed the $100 a barrel threshold, it comes as no surprise that Exxon is a whisker away from setting a new milestone.
"Exxon is likely to have record quarterly earnings," said Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer. "For every $1 [increase] in the price of oil, Exxon makes [another] $125 million for the quarter."
When asked if Exxon could top profit records, another analyst said: "That's not out of the realm of possibility."
The company is expected to earn $10.37 billion in the fourth quarter, according to earnings tracker Thomson Financial. That's about $330 million shy of Exxon's previous quarterly profit record of $10.7 billion set in the fourth quarter of 2005 - which also was a record for any U.S. corporation.
Exxon is expected to make $39.2 billion for all of 2007, just shy of its previous record of $39.5 billion in 2006, which breaks down to the company earning about $75,000 a minute.
If ConocoPhillips is any indication, Exxon should have no trouble meeting - and beating - estimates.
Conoco (COP, Fortune 500), the nation's third largest oil company, trounced profit estimates by nearly 25 percent when it reported Wednesday morning.
Number two Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) is also expected to do well. Analysts are expecting a 30 percent increase in earnings per share when it reports next Friday.
High crude prices have been the main factor behind the massive profits at oil firms.
Crude prices averaged $90 a barrel the fourth quarter, up 50 percent from the same period in 2006. They jumped 20 percent from the third quarter of 2007.
"That's what's really driving it here," said Robert Plexman, an analyst at CIBC World Markets.
Natural gas prices have also increased compared to last year, albeit marginally.
But costs have also increased for the oil companies, and they haven't been able to make as much selling gasoline, which is why profits haven't risen as rapidly as crude prices.
Slack demand for gasoline in the latter half of last year kept gas prices from rising as much as crude prices. Big oil companies that both pump oil and refine crude into gasoline have to spend more for crude but are unable to pass on all the extra cost to consumers, which eats in to gasoline profit margins.
That was the main reason oil companies reported earnings in the third quarter of 2007 that fell from the prior year. But profit on gas sales has improved somewhat in the fourth quarter, so it shouldn't be as big of a drag on earnings.
Finding oil has also become more costly. The oil boom has led to a surge in exploration and drilling activity, which has pushed up the price for skilled workers and equipment.
Furthermore, new supplies of oil are increasingly difficult to find and generally tend to be located in harder to reach - and hence more expensive - places. The new natural gas field discovered this week by Brazil's Petrobras lies under three miles of ocean.
Analysts say the big oil companies are having a hard time finding new oil.
"The big issue everyone will be looking for is production numbers," said Wesley Ralston, an integrated oil analyst at the New Orleans-based investment bank Howard Weil. "It's tough to offset the natural decline curve."
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Exxon and Cordoba: failure of justice
Ann Kristin Haldors Fontaine
Monday, November 5, 2007 http://greenlent.blogspot.com/2007/11/exxon-and-cordoba-failure-of-justice.html
Riki Ott, PhD., a community activist, former fisherm'am, has a degree in marine toxicology with a specialty in oil pollution and the author of Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, writes about the continuing saga of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the effects on Cordova Alaska, and the failure of our justice system.
The Supreme Court's recent decision to hear ExxonMobil's reasons to void the $2.5 billion punitive award in the Exxon Valdez case hit the town of Cordova, Alaska, hard. This small coastal fishing community -- my hometown -- along with the Alaska Native villages in Prince William Sound have borne the brunt of the largest crude oil spill in America's waters; a spill that took place more than 18 years ago, but one that continues to hold the region hostage.The second painful blow was the high court's decision to not even hear our reasons why the award should be restored to the full $5 billion that a jury of peers decided was necessary to punish the corporate giant back in 1994.While media pundits, lawyers, and scholars play the Supreme Court's decisions back and forth like a ping-pong ball, people in Cordova share a completely different perspective of this story. It's not about whether the Supreme Court should hear the case. To us, it's about justice and reparation -- making us whole, a promise Exxon made to the community five days after the spill. A promise that Exxon broke before the trial even started five years after the spill.To us, it's about more than an oil spill, the world's largest oil corporation, and a small fishing community in Alaska. It's about America's failed legal system that inherently cannot dispense justice in the face of corporate globalization.
Those affected by the spill offer some solutions for developing a just system that works for people.
First, post-disaster disputes could be minimized during preliminary planning and scoping of projects by negotiated, legally-binding agreements -- now that we are better informed of the ecological and human costs of disaster.Second, financial incentives and rules could be created to encourage dispute resolution through non-adversarial negotiated settlements. Such techniques have proven successful even for disasters involving toxic exposure.Third, incentives could be created to shorten litigation timelines by eliminating mechanisms that reward profits through stalling.Fourth, if punitive damages are to be effectively applied, then they must be linked with corporate profits rather than compensatory damages and they should be shared not only among victims, but also among the injured communities to rebuild areas devastated by disaster.In Cordova, we hope that it is just a matter of time before these suggestions or other similar ones are demanded by professionals, activists, and victims fed up with the American "injustice system."We know that change will have to come from each of us, as there is little hope that the Supreme Court, or any other branch of the current judicial system, will take it upon itself to keep from doing more harm to those it was designed to protect.
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Chief Justice Roberts defends Exxon
Posted by Amanda Terkel, 28 February 2008
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on how much money ExxonMobil should be forced to pay as damages for its Exxon Valdez oil spill 19 years ago. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank notes that Chief Justice John Roberts appeared “bothered” that Exxon might have to pay for its destruction:
What bothered the chief justice was that Exxon was being ordered to pay $2.5 billion — roughly three weeks’ worth of profits — for destroying a long swath of the Alaska coastline in the largest oil spill in American history.
“So what can a corporation do to protect itself against punitive-damages awards such as this?” Roberts asked in court.
The lawyer arguing for the Alaska fishermen affected by the spill, Jeffrey Fisher, had an idea. “Well,” he said, “it can hire fit and competent people.”
The rare sound of laughter rippled through the august chamber. The chief justice did not look amused.
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High court reduces Exxon oil spill damages
Court rules that punitive damages should roughly match cost of actual damage
http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/25/news/companies/SCOTUS_exxon/index.htm?cnn=yes
Last Updated: June 25, 2008: 3:30 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday reduced a $2.5 billion punitive damages award against energy giant Exxon for its role in an infamous 1989 maritime oil spill off the coast of Alaska.
The high court concluded that punitive damages should roughly match actual damages from the environmental disaster, which were about $507 million. Lower courts were asked to reassess the jury verdict, extending the years-long litigation in the case.
"The award here should be limited to an amount equal to compensatory damages," wrote Justice David Souter.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer agreed in part and disagreed in part with the majority ruling. In such cases, it is left open to interpretation whether their dissent is strong enough to be considered a vote against the majority.
Big business wins in Exxon Valdez case
In the incident, commonly known as the Exxon Valdez spill, 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled in pristine waters off the southern end of the state when a supertanker - the Exxon Valdez - ran aground on an offshore reef. Petroleum soaked some 1,200 miles of coastline, killing countless birds and marine life.
Much of the initial blame for the accident was placed on Capt. Joseph Hazelwood, who was cited by various courts for relapsed alcoholism that contributed to mistakes, leaving his vessel helplessly stuck on Bligh Reef.
Witnesses said he had been drinking heavily before the Exxon Valdez left port that night, and had left the ship's bridge when it left the normal shipping channels to avoid ice. Both actions violated Coast Guard and company policies.
A class-action lawsuit was brought against Exxon by nearly 33,000 plaintiffs - including fishermen, landowners, local governments and Native Americans - who claimed private economic harm from the spill.
The company, now known as Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), has already paid $3.4 billion in cleanup costs and millions in government fines and it argues it should not be forced to continue to pay for the spill.
A jury in 1994 awarded $5 billion in the class-action suit. A federal court later cut that amount in half, but it was still believed to be the largest punitive-damages judgment of its kind in U.S. courts. Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer, while compensatory damages compensate a wronged party for the loss they suffered.
The issue before the justices was whether the judgment was too high, based on past high court precedents limiting punitive awards.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed the company has deep financial pockets, and noted in their appeal that even a multibillion-dollar judgment amounts only to "barely more than three weeks of Exxon's net profits."
Alaska residents who attended oral arguments in April held signs noting the Texas-based company reported an annual profit last year of $40.6 billion, a record for a U.S. firm.
Exxon Mobil claimed the federal Clean Water Act does not allow for punitive damages for oil spills and other open-water environmental incidents similar to the Exxon Valdez. And they said federal maritime law prevents company owners from being held liable for personally negligent conduct by the captain or crew.
Souter wrote, "The common sense of justice would surely bar penalties that reasonable people would think excessive for the harm caused in the circumstances."
The ruling was applauded by organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation.
"This is good news for companies concerned about reining in excessive punitive damages," said Tom Donohue, the chamber's president and CEO, in a written statement. "For years, the chamber has argued that punitive damages are too unpredictable and unfair, and today the court agreed."
The high court has generally tried to limit punitive damages that are deemed "excessive." Last term, it threw out a $79 million award to an Oregon smoker's family who claimed tobacco giant Philip Morris contributed to his death by cancer. The justices, in their divided ruling in that case, said punitive damages almost always should match "actual," or compensatory, damages.
Justice Samuel Alito withdrew from deciding the case. Although no reason was given, financial disclosure reports indicated the newest justice had owned substantial amounts of Exxon stock.
Meanwhile, the long-running case has made it hard for residents of the community to move on, Travis Vlasoff, a native Chugach fisherman from Tatitlek, told CNN after oral arguments in the case. Vlasoff said the long legal fight has taken a financial and emotional toll among his family and friends.
"It's very difficult to advance the healing process without any sort of finality," he said. "Each turn has reopened long, deep wounds within the community and with individuals."
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Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 1989
NWtravel Magazine Online http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2405.html
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb
On March 24 1989, shortly after midnight, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in western Prince William Sound, Alaska. The collision resulted in the spilling of between 11 and 34 million gallons of crude oil — ultimately affecting 1,181 miles of Alaska's pristine coastline, and killing thousands of marine animals.
The spill is the largest in U.S. history, and ranked 34th on a list of the world's largest oil spills in the 25 years leading up to the disaster. The Exxon Valdez tragedy came to be seen as the nation's biggest environmental disaster since Three Mile Island¹.
Southcentral Alaska Natives, fishermen, and small businesses, were eventually force-fed the oily taste of economic hard times.
The voyage
Oil tanker Exxon Valdez departed from the oil terminal in Valdez, Alaska, on March 23, 1989. On the vessel's 28th voyage, the experienced crew of 19 routinely headed south through Prince William Sound, with a full 53 million gallons of oil.
Captain Joseph Hazelwood alerted the Coast Guard station of a change of course, and moved into the northbound lane to stay clear of icebergs. Captain Hazelwood then gave third mate Gregory Cousins instructions to steer the Exxon Valdez back into the original course of the southbound lane, once he had passed Busby Island.
Busby Island was already well behind the vessel when Cousins notified the helmsman that it was time to turn the vessel back toward the traffic lanes. Lookout Maureen Jones reported to Cousins that Bligh Reef light appeared off the starboard bow. The light should have been sighted off the port side — the supertanker was proceeding through Bligh Reef's close waters.
Cousins was now in a perilous situation; he gave right rudder commands to effect the desired course change. The immediate and desperate attempts by Cousins to turn the tanker back into the much deeper traffic lanes fell short when an initial shock was felt — jolting the massive ship against the angry teeth of Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m.
The vessel scraped and gouged to a halt, and became perched amidships on a spire of Bligh Reef. Eight of Exxon Valdez's 11 cargo tanks were punctured, and 5.8 million gallons gushed out of the tanker in the first three hours. The environmental and economic nightmare was underway.
The cleanup
Exxon Corporation mobilized huge quantities of equipment and personnel to initiate the first response to the mishap; however, their crucial first few hours and days (when containment and cleanup efforts are at a premium) were lost. Fewer than 4,000 gallons of dispersant² were all that was available in nearby Valdez, Alaska, and application equipment or aircraft were non-existent.
A trial burn was conducted during the early stages of the spill, in hopes of lifting the oil from the frigid water. Although partially successful, the burning process was abandoned because of unfavorable weather conditions. Three days after the vessel was grounded, a storm pushed large quantities of fresh oil onto the rocky shores of many beaches throughout the sound.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Coast Guard, gave Exxon a September 15 cleanup deadline. Valdez was the most accessible city near the spill, so Exxon quickly transported its recovery headquarters to the small community.
The 3,500 residents of Valdez tripled in size, and the price of everything, including food and clothing, reached sky-high figures.
Exxon employed many people in the Prince William Sound area to transport supplies to the villages in the sound, and to support the cleanup crews throughout the oiled areas. Many exploited the disaster for money — including media crews that were covering every angle of the spill.
Workers would wipe and spray rocks with steam hoses, only to be rewarded by the changing tide — and a new coating of oil. Environmental groups worked feverishly to save oiled seals, otters, and birds.
Midway through the summer of 1989, new techniques and technologies were initiated. Microorganisms that break down crude oil were sprayed onto some of the beaches, and new materials were used in the tedious job of wiping operations.
Exxon returned to Prince William Sound in 1990 with a much smaller work force for further cleaning. The long-term damages by the oil spill were horrendous. Even today, damage assessments are being conducted on fish, marine, and land wildlife.
The damageThree national wildlife refuges, three national parks, wilderness areas, a national forest, and extensive areas that had been inhabited for thousands of years by Alaska Natives, were an oily mess.
The spill posed threats to the delicate food chain that supports Prince William Sound's commercial fishing industry and portions of the northern Gulf of Alaska. Also in danger were 10 million migratory shore birds and waterfowl, eagles, hundreds of sea otters, dozens of such other species as harbor porpoises and sea lions, and several varieties of whales.
More marine mammals and seabirds were killed directly by the oil than in any man-made disaster ever. Direct mortality of seabirds has been estimated at 300,000 to 645,000, with an additional loss in chick production of more than 300,000 following the spill. Some colonies of murres lost 60 to 70 percent of their breeding birds.
The marine mammal death toll included at least 25 killer whales out of an area population of about 180, 3,500 to 5,500 sea otters, and around 200 harbor seals.
The 1989 season of herring, which spawned in the near shore zone just as the oil arrived, was essentially lost. Terrestrial mammals, including river otters, brown bear, deer, and mink were all affected. Much of the intertidal zone was essentially cooked by the toxic oil, and invertebrate communities were severely altered.
Economically speaking, the studies of sportfishing activity and tourism indicators — vacation planning, visitor spending, and canceled bookings — indicated decreases in activity. The contingent valuation study estimated the lost passive use value at $2.8 billion.
Congress makes a financial cleanup
On October 9 1991, the settlement among the State of Alaska, the United States government and Exxon was approved by the U.S. District Court. It resolved various criminal charges against Exxon as well as civil claims brought by the federal and state governments for recovery of natural resource damages resulting from the unforgiving oil spill.
· In settlement of civil charges, Exxon would pay the State of Alaska and the United States $900 million over a 10-year period. The money would be used for restoration and administered by six government trustees; three federal, three state.
· In settlement of criminal charges, Exxon would pay a fine of $250 million. Two restitution funds of $50 million each were established, one under state control and one under federal authority. Against strong opposition from many Alaskans, $125 million of the balance was forgiven, owing to Exxon's cooperation during the cleanup, and upgraded safety procedures to prevent a reoccurrence. The remaining $50 million was divided between the Victims of Crime Act account ($13 million) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund ($12 million).
On September 16, 1994, a jury in federal court returned a $5 billion punitive damages verdict against Exxon. The company appealed several times, and in November 2001, the verdict was overturned by a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court.
While the federal and state governments settled their civil and criminal litigation against Exxon in 1991, as of March 2002, claims by private parties are still being litigated and remain unresolved.
The Exxon Valdez, re-named the SeaRiver Mediterranean, is still carrying oil around the world. Although she has been barred from ever entering Alaskan waters again, Exxon applied to have that court ruling reversed. The appeal was rejected.
The futureAs a direct or indirect result of the Exxon Valdez disaster, tighter environmental regulations have been imposed on many industries.
The 1990 Oil Pollution Act is now working internationally to make tankers safer. The act has added the standard regulation of double hulls, so that if the outer layer is punctured, no oil will escape. Among other benefits, large tracts of land have been added to Kenai Fjords National Park, using funds from the Exxon fines. Major spills have dropped by two-thirds since the Oil Pollution Act.
The combined ability of skimming systems to remove oil from the water is now 10 times greater than it was in 1989, with equipment in place capable of recovering more than 300,000 barrels of oil in 72 hours.
¹ Site of America's worst ever nuclear accident near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - March 28 1979. ² A chemical that aids in breaking up solids or liquids as fine particles or droplets into another medium.
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Exxon Mobil appeals $2.5 bln Valdez oil spill award
27 February 2008
By James Vicini and Chris Baltimore http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN2745818320080228?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn the $2.5 billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, arguing it should not be punished for the mistakes of the ship's captain.
But the lawyer for about 33,000 commercial fishermen and others harmed by the nation's worst tanker spill replied that Exxon Mobil for three years had overlooked numerous reports that Captain Joseph Hazelwood had a drinking problem.
The 90 minutes of arguments before the high court occurred just several weeks after the huge Texas-based oil company reported the highest-ever quarterly profit for a U.S. company of $11.7 billion.
Exxon Mobil's lawyer, Walter Dellinger, told the high court the company already has paid $3.4 billion for the spill and cannot be held liable for additional punitive damages under federal maritime law.
"Exxon gained nothing by what went wrong in this case and paid dearly for it," said Dellinger, who argued that the company had no malicious intent or improper profit motive.
A key issue in the case is whether the company can be held liable for the mistakes of Hazelwood, who violated company rules when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound in March 1989, spilling about 11 million gallons of crude oil.
The spill spread oil on more than 1,200 miles of coastline, closed fisheries and killed thousands of marine mammals and hundreds of thousands of sea birds.
The justices closely questioned both sides and gave no firm indication of how they would rule -- although in past cases they generally have imposed limits on huge awards of punitive damages imposed on corporate defendants.
Dellinger argued that Exxon Mobil cannot be punished for Hazelwood's actions because he was not a managerial employee who set company policy, like a chief executive would.
But Jeffrey Fisher, representing the plaintiffs, replied that Hazelwood was in charge of an Exxon shipping business unit and that it was perfectly appropriate to make the company pay punitive damages for the reckless acts of such an individual.
Upper Management Aware of Drinking
"We showed 33 instances in the record of Exxon employees drinking with Hazelwood or learning that he drank. Up and down the corporation, ... for three years, upper management was receiving reports that this man was drinking aboard the vessel," Fisher said.
While Exxon had a policy against operating tankers while under the influence, Fisher said that the company failed to enforce it in Hazelwood's case.
Fisher said Exxon only fired one person -- Hazelwood -- and only reassigned the third mate who actually steered the tanker. But everyone else higher up in the company "received bonuses and raises," he said.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed supportive of Fisher's argument. "The jury could have found that Exxon knew that this captain had a severe alcohol problem; and yet they let him stay on voyage after voyage and did nothing about it," she said.
Chief Justice John Roberts appeared more supportive of the company's arguments and asked: "Where do you draw the line between the CEO (chief executive officer) and the cabin boy?"
Justice Antonin Scalia said he doubted that a captain was high enough a position to justify holding the entire company liable. "The janitor has authority over an aspect of the corporation," he said. "Surely, that can't be the test."
Justice Stephen Breyer expressed concern of a "new world for the shipping industry" if punitive damages can be assessed against the company for the failures of responsibility by the ship's captain.
Dellinger said the U.S. appeals court that upheld the award incorrectly ruled that Exxon Mobil could be held liable for the $2.5 billion simply because Hazelwood left the ship's deck shortly before the ship plowed into Bligh Reef.
A decision is expected by the end of June.
Justice Samuel Alito, who owns Exxon Mobil stock, recused himself from the case. Alito's recusal means that only eight court members heard the case. Should the justices end up being split by a 4-4 vote, then the appeals court's ruling against Exxon Mobil would be simply affirmed.
(Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Dave Zimmerman)
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Court Rewards Exxon for Valdez Oil Spill
by Greg Palast
Chicago Tribune (revised)
Listen to Shannyn Moore of KUDO 1080AM and Greg Palast on the Exxon Valdez Verdict
[Thursday, June 26, 2008] Twenty years after Exxon Valdez slimed over one thousand miles of Alaskan beaches, the company has yet to pay the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by the jury. And now they won't have to. The Supreme Court today cut Exxon's liability by 90% to half a billion. It's so cheap, it's like a permit to spill.
Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to the disaster. There were plenty.
But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.
In San Diego, I met with Exxon's US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, "Admit it; the oil spill's the best thing to happen" to the Natives.
His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal - but Natives die.
And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.
In today's ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote that Exxon's recklessness was ''profitless'' - so the company shouldn't have to pay punitive damages. Profitless, Mr. Souter? Exxon and its oil shipping partners saved billions - BILLIONS - by operating for sixteen years without the oil spill safety equipment they promised, in writing, under oath and by contract.
The official story is, "Drunken Skipper Hits Reef." But don't believe it, Mr. Souter. Alaska's Native lands and coastline were destroyed by a systematic fraud motivated by profit-crazed penny-pinching.
Here's the unreported story, the one you won't get tonight on the Petroleum Broadcast System:
It begins in 1969 when big shots from Humble Oil and ARCO (now known as Exxon and British Petroleum) met with the Chugach Natives, owners of the most valuable parcel of land on the planet: Valdez Port, the only conceivable terminus for a pipeline that would handle a trillion dollars in crude oil.
These Alaskan natives ultimately agreed to sell the Exxon consortium this astronomically valuable patch of land -- for a single dollar.
The Natives refused cash. Rather, in 1969, they asked only that the oil companies promise to protect their Prince William Sound fishing and seal hunting grounds from oil.
In 1971, Exxon and partners agreed to place the Natives' specific list of safeguards into federal law. These commitments to safety reassured enough Congressmen for the oil group to win, by one vote, the right to ship oil from Valdez.
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Supreme Court Saves Exxon $2 Billion
Posted by Neil Katz http://eco-beat.com/p=165
Nineteen years ago the Exxon Valdez crashed into the shoreline of Alaska’s Prince William Sound spilling 11 million gallons of oil into pristine waters and ruining 1200 miles of coastline. Local residents and fisherman sued and an angry jury told Exxon to cough up $5 billion in damages. An appeals court cut that in half.
But yesterday, the Supreme Court, perhaps feeling sorry for a company that made $40 billion last year, cut Exxon’s bill down to just $500 million. With 20 years interest the real payout will be close to a billion. For Exxon, that’s about eight days worth of profits.
Even more shocking, $100 million of that money will go right back to Exxon. The company made a side deal with seven large fish processors in 1991, paying them $70 million for their share of the damages the courts would eventual deliver.
How is the rest of the money split up? According to the Anchorage Daily News, native villages will receive four percent of the take. Lawyers will get 22 percent. Forty nine percent goes to affected fishing companies who split the award based on the size of their business. By example, fisherman in Cook’s Inlet will receive $160,000 on average per permit.
Exxon claims they have already shelled out $3.4 billion in penalties, clean up costs and damages. Businesses are especially happy with this ruling because it appears to limit the amount of damages juries can award in maritime cases.
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[under construction]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

U.S. Civil Unrest, Crowd Control, and Detention Camps

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Is the US Government Preparing to Send Dissenters to Prison Camps?By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
February 5, 2009
© NewsWithViews.com
http://www.newswithviews.com/NWV-News/news123.htm
Within the last few weeks since Americans witnessed the transition between a Bush Administration to an Obama Administration, some conservatives have noticed an escalation in using the US military and military-style tactics to deal with "national security concerns." Such actions include use of army troops within US borders and the building of camps designed to house and control American citizens.For example, in January immediately following the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, Newswithview.com dispatched a reporter to participate in a US Department of Defense press conference.Armed Forces Press Service representative Donna Miles reported to news reporters, bloggers and Internet journalists that troops from the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were deployed to the Naval facility located in Indian Head, Maryland. Their assignment was allegedly to get hands-on training in skills they could depend on to provide "support during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident, known here as a CBRNE."
“It appears to me that the federal government is relaxing Posse Comitatus,” author Jerome Corsi told NewsWithViews.com
The "Rock of the Marne" division, which returned to Fort Stewart, Ga., direct from its third deployment to Iraq, the army division became part of the CBRNE Consequence Management Force. The force includes various military assets assigned to US Northern Command that could be called on to respond to a natural or manmade disaster with US borders.
However, not everyone is happy about this military development coming so close to the transition from the Bush White House to the Obama Administration. Some observers believe this plan is part of a deal between President-Elect Barack Obama and the current Secretary of Defense who will remain in his current position even after the Bush-Obama transition.
While these soldiers are being trained to operate within US borders, another development was discovered by conservative observers: the introduction of a congressional bill that would create de facto detention camps throughout the US.
“Unfortunately, the US has a history of using detention camps,” stated author and investigative journalists Jerome Corsi, best know for his co-authoring Unfit to Command, a work credited with keeping Senator John Kerry out of the White House.
“[This country] used detention camps in Washington, DC during the anti-Vietnam War protests. They were used in World War II to incarcerate Japanese-Americans. We are talking about a slippery slope: camps being prepared to be used in emergencies can easily be used to imprison dissenters,” Corsi told NewsWithViews.com in a telephone interview.
Disgraced former Florida judge -- now a Democrat Party member of the House of Representatives -- Rep. Alcee Hastings -- introduced what some claim is a disturbing piece of legislation. The new bill calls for the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to build at least six facilities that can be designated as "emergency centers. Hastings rationale for such facilities is to gather and "house" civilians on what are basically detention centers guarded by armed soldiers or paramilitary troops.
The House bill (HR 645) is not even on the radar of members of the elite media. According to critics of the plan, if passed the government will create camps or centers that by their nature restrict the activities of US citizens herded into them.
One critic, political strategist Mike Baker claims the idea of such detention center smacks of the type of concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany, Americans find repugnant.
"Why aren't the news media covering this story? Could it be because they fear being the first occupants of these so-called emergency installations? Where is the outrage by our nation's Fourth Estate?" asks Baker.
Hastings bill is suspected of attempting to help expand the President Obama's military and law enforcement powers. While Hastings pushes this bill, even Republican congressmen are hesitant to remind one another and the nation that this Florida congressman was impeached while he sat on Florida's federal court bench.
Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, he became the first African-American federal judge in the state of Florida, and served in that position for ten years. He’s still called “Judge” by some of his colleagues, but one would think he’d rather forget his days on the federal bench.
In 1989, Judge Hastings was impeached by the US House of Representatives for bribery and perjury. The Democratic-controlled Senate convicted Hastings of accepting a $150,000 bribe in 1981 in exchange for a lenient sentence and of perjury in his testimony about the case. Hastings said the charges against him smacked of racism.
Even Rep. John Conyers, who is also black, said he “found no trace of racism during the investigation.” He urged his colleagues to remove Hastings from the bench. He said, “[Hastings] is unfit to serve.”
When the ultra-liberal Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi nominated Hastings for the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, even members of her own political party balked.
"The prospect of Rep. Alcee Hastings becoming the chairman of the House of Representative’s Intelligence Committee was proposed by Congressional Black Caucus, who had been pressuring the new House Speaker Pelosi to appoint blacks to key leadership positions and Hasting benefited from the pressure on the radical left Pelosi," said former Detective Sidney Frances (NYPD-ret.), himself an African-American.
While not appointed to chair the intelligence committee, Hastings is currently a member of the powerful House Rules Committee and is a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). On the HPSCI, Hastings is the ranking Democratic member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
"While Obama and his team are making it sound as if they will use the military in a non-combative roll, part of the training being conducted is in urban warfare," claims political strategist Mike Baker.
"Obama appears oblivious to Posse Comitatus and to the US Constitution when it comes to using the military against civilians within US borders," he said.
"And where do you think they'll keep these American prisoners of war? In comes impeached and corrupt Congressman Hastings with a solution," adds Baker.
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U.S. Concentration Camps - FEMA and the REX 84 Program There over 600 prison camps in the United States, all fully operational and ready to receive prisoners. They are all staffed and even surrounded by full-time guards, but they are all empty. These camps are to be operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) should Martial Law need to be implemented in the United States.
The Rex 84 Program was established on the reasoning that if a mass exodus of illegal aliens crossed the Mexican/US border, they would be quickly rounded up and detained in detention centers by FEMA. Rex 84 allowed many military bases to be closed down and to be turned into prisons.
Operation Cable Splicer and Garden Plot are the two sub programs which will be implemented once the Rex 84 program is initiated for its proper purpose. Garden Plot is the program to control the population. Cable Splicer is the program for an orderly takeover of the state and local governments by the federal gov ernment. FEMA is the executive arm of the coming police state and thus will head up all operations. The Presidential Executive Orders already listed on the Federal Register also are part of the legal framework for this operation. http://www.thebirdman.org/Index/Others/Others-Doc-ConspiracyTheory&NWO/+Doc-ConspiracyTheory-ImposingFascism/AmericanConcentrationCamps-2005.htm
The camps all have railroad facilities as well as roads leading to and from the detention facilities. Many also have an airport nearby. The majority of the camps can house a population of 20,000 prisoners. Currently, the largest of these facilities is just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. The Alaskan facility is a massive mental health facility and can hold approximately 2 million people.
A person named Terry Kings wrote an article on his discoveries of camps located in southern California. His findings are as follows: Over the last couple months several of us have investigated three soon-to-be prison camps in the Southern California area. We had heard about these sites and wanted to see them for ourselves.The first one we observed was in Palmdale, California. It is not operating as a prison at the moment but is masquerading as part of a water facility. Now why would there be a facility of this nature out in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no prisoners? The fences that run for miles around this large facility all point inward, and there are large mounds of dirt and dry moat surrounding the central area so the inside area is not visible from the road. There are 3 large loading docks facing the entrance that can be observed from the road. What are these massive docks going to be loading?
We observed white vans patrolling the area and one came out and greeted us with a friendly wave and followed us until we had driven safely beyond the area. What would have happened had we decided to enter the open gate or ask questions?
This facility is across the street from the Palmdale Water Department. The area around the Water Department has fences pointing outward, to keep people out of this dangerous area so as not to drown. Yet, across the street, the fences all point inward. Why? To keep people in? What people? Who are going to be it’s occupants?
There are also signs posted every 50 feet stating: State of California Trespassing Loitering Forbidden By Law Section 555 California Penal Code.
The sign at the entrance says: Pearblossom Operations and Maintenance Subcenter Receiving Department, 34534 116th Street East. There is also a guard shack located at the entrance.
We didn’t venture into this facility, but did circle around it to see if there was anything else visible from the road. We saw miles of fences with the top points all directed inward. There is a railroad track that runs next to the perimeter of this fenced area. The loading docks are large enough to hold railroad cars.
I wonder what they are planning for this facility? They could easily fit 100,000 people in this area. And who would the occupants be?
Another site is located in Bran d Park in Glendale. There are newly constructed fences (all outfitted with new wiring that point inward). The fences surround a dry reservoir. There are also new buildings situated in the area. We questioned the idea that there were four armed military personnel walking the park. Since when does a public park need armed guards?
A third site visited was in the San Fernando Valley, adjacent to the Water District. Again, the area around the actual Water District had fences logically pointing out (to keep people out of the dangerous area). And the rest of the adjacent area which went on for several miles was ringed with fences and barbed wire facing inward (to keep what or who in?) Also, interesting was the fact that the addition to the tops of the fences were fairly new as to not even contain any sign of rust on them. Within the grounds was a huge building that the guard said was a training range for policemen. There were newly constructed roads, new gray military looking buildings, and a landing strip. For what? Police cars were constantly patrolling the several mile perimeter of the area.
From the parking lot of the Odyssey Restaurant a better view could be taken of the area that was hidden from site from the highway. There was an area that contained about 100 black boxes that looked like railroad cars. We had heard that loads of railroad cars have been manufactured in Oregon outfitted with shackles. Would these be of that nature? From our position it was hard to determine.
In searching the Internet, I have discovered that there are about 600 of these prison sites around the country (and more literally popping up overnight do they work all night). They are manned, but yet do not contain prisoners. Why do they need all these non-operating prisons? What are they waiting for? We continuously hear that our current prisons are overcrowded and they are releasing prisoners because of this situation. But what about all these facilities? What are they really for? Why are there armed guards yet no one to protect themselves against? And what is going to be the kick-off point to put these facilities into operation?
What would bring about a situation that would call into effect the need for these new prison facilities? A man-made or natural catastrophe? An earthquake, panic due to Y2K, a massive poisoning, a panic of such dimensions to cause nationwide panic?
Once a major disaster occurs (whether it is a real event or manufactured event does not matter) Martial Law is hurriedly put in place and we are all in the hands of the government agencies (FEMA) who thus portray themselves as our protectors. Yet what happens when we question those in authority and how they are taking away all of our freedoms? Will we be the ones detained in these camp sites? And who are they going to round up? Those with guns? Those who ask questions? Those that want to know what’s really going on? Does that include any of us? The seekers of truth?
When first coming across this information I was in a state of total denial. How could this be? I believed our country was free, and always felt a sense of comfort in knowing that as long as we didn’t hurt others in observing our freedom we were left to ourselves. Ideally we treated everyone with respect and honored their uniqueness and hoped that others did likewise.
It took an intensive year of searching into the hidden politics to discover that we are as free as we believe we are. If we are in denial, we don’t see the signs that are staring at us, but keep our minds turned off and busy with all the mundane affairs of daily life.
We just don’t care enough to find out the real truth, and settle for the hand-fed stories that come our way over the major media sources television, radio, newspaper, and magazines. But it’s too late to turn back to the days of blindfolds and hiding our heads in the sand because the reality is becoming very clear. The time is fast approaching when we will be the ones asking "What happened to our freedom? To our free speech? To our right to protect ourselves and our family? To think as an individual? To express ourselves in whatever way we wish?"
Once we challenge that freedom we find out how free we really are. How many are willing to take up that challenge? Very few indeed, otherwise we wouldn’t find ourselves in the situation that we are in at the present time. We wouldn’t have let things progress and get out of the hands of the public and into the hands of those that seek to keep us under their control no matter what it takes, and that includes the use of force and detainment for those that ask the wrong questions.
Will asking questions be outlawed next? Several instances have recently been reported where those that were asking questions that came too near the untold truth (the cover up) were removed from the press conferences and from the public’s ear. Also, those that wanted to speak to the press were detained and either imprisoned, locked in a psychiatric hospital, slaughtered (through make-believe suicides) or discredited.
Why are we all in denial over these possibilities? Didn’t we hear about prison camps in Germany, and even in the United States during World War II? Japanese individuals were rounded up and placed in determent camps during the duration of the War. Where was their freedom?
You don’t think it could happen to you? Obviously those rounded up and killed didn’t think it could happen to them either. How could decent people have witnessed such atrocities and still said nothing? Are we going to do the same here as they cart off one by one those individuals who are taking a stand for the rights of the citizens as they expose the truth happening behind the scenes? Are we all going to sit there and wonder what happened to this country of ours? Where did we go wrong? How could we let it happen?
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Bombs, choppers during military exercises startle residents12:42 PM CST on Thursday, February 5, 2009
Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
http://www.wwltv.com/topstories/stories/wwl020409cbbombs.1da02ce4.html
NEW ORLEANS – Residents in and around New Orleans have been hearing the sounds of low-flying helicopters and what sounds like bomb blasts over the past few nights, but the sounds are part of a training exercise for some of America's elite military troops.
At one Lakefront home, Gigi Burk normally hears her son, 6-year-old Beau, practicing the piano, but last night she heard something much different at around 10 p.m.
“I said, oh my God! They're bombs. That's what I thought it was, somebody dropping bombs,” Burk said.
Burk said she panicked, not knowing why she was hearing what sounded like explosions and low-flying helicopters.
“We're a little skittish around here with things that have happened,” Burk said.
But according to military officials, it’s a training exercise that brought about 150 U.S. troops from the U.S. Special Operations Command to train in New Orleans for urban warfare.
“They are regularly engaged in combat operations,” said U.S. Special Operations Command staffer Kimberly Tiscione. “They are the best of the best we have to offer across all the branches of the military.”
Black Hawk and "Little Bird" helicopters are transporting troops to several locations around New Orleans, according to Tiscione.
“They're going to be flying near buildings, doing approaches on them,” Tiscione said. “You might see them landing on the roof tops or landing on the ground near them as well.”
“I heard a bunch of explosions starting at about 10 p.m. They were about ten seconds apart, and then they'd stop, and we thought it was over, but then they started again,” said Burk.
Tiscione said that the ground troops were performing “breeches at several different locations.
“So, they're moving through doorways or walls or that sort of thing. They're also doing weapons proficiency,” Tiscione said.
The forces are using simulated ammunitions, almost like paintball pellets, to conduct the training. And even though the noise may affect your neighborhood, the night-time training is only supposed to last from sundown to 11 p.m., according to Tiscione.
“They are the best of the best because they get these kind of training events,” she said.
Burk said she wishes the training had been better publicized before-hand to avoid a scare Tuesday night.
"People were talking about it everywhere today," Burk said.
The NOPD did put a press release out about the training, and WWL-TV aired a story about it; however, that was a week ago.
Since U.S. Special Operations Command hasn't done a similar training here since 2000, it has caught many people by surprise.
The training will go on every night through the end of this week.
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Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out “Crowd Control”By Naomi Wolf, AlterNet. Posted October 8, 2008
http://whitewraithe.wordpress.com/2008/page/6/
Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they didn’t pass the bailout bill. This will not be the last time.
George Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, thus making it legal for military to patrol the U.S. He has also legally established that in the “War on Terror,” the U.S. is at war around the globe and thus the whole world is a battlefield. Thus the U.S. is also a battlefield.
He also led change to the 1807 Insurrection Act to give him far broader powers in the event of a loosely defined “insurrection” or many other “conditions” he has the power to identify. The Constitution allows the suspension of habeas corpus — habeas corpus prevents us from being seized by the state and held without trial — in the event of an “insurrection.” With his own army force now, his power to call a group of protesters or angry voters “insurgents” staging an “insurrection” is strengthened.
U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California said to Congress, captured on C-Span and viewable on YouTube, that individual members of the House were threatened with martial law within a week if they did not pass the bailout bill:
“The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. … Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day and a couple of thousand on the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no.”
If this is true and Rep. Sherman is not delusional, I ask you to consider that if they are willing to threaten martial law now, it is foolish to assume they will never use that threat again. It is also foolish to trust in an orderly election process to resolve this threat. And why deploy the First Brigade? One thing the deployment accomplishes is to put teeth into such a threat.
I interviewed Vietnam veteran, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and patriot David Antoon for clarification:
“If the President directed the First Brigade to arrest Congress, what could stop him?”
“Nothing. Their only recourse is to cut off funding. The Congress would be at the mercy of military leaders to go to them and ask them not to obey illegal orders.”
“But these orders are now legal?’”
“Correct.”
“If the President directs the First Brigade to arrest a bunch of voters, what would stop him?”
“Nothing. It would end up in courts but the action would have been taken.”
“If the President directs the First Brigade to kill civilians, what would stop him?”
“Nothing.”
“What would prevent him from sending the First Brigade to arrest the editor of the Washington Post?“
“Nothing. He could do what he did in Iraq — send a tank down a street in Washington and fire a shell into the Washington Post as they did into Al Jazeera, and claim they were firing at something else.”
“What happens to members of the First Brigade who refuse to take up arms against U.S. citizens?”
“They’d probably be treated as deserters as in Iraq: arrested, detained and facing five years in prison. In Iraq a study by Ann Wright shows that deserters — reservists who refused to go back to Iraq — got longer sentences than war criminals.”
“Does Congress have any military of their own?”
“No. Congress has no direct control of any military units. The Governors have the National Guard but they report to the President in an emergency that he declares.”
“Who can arrest the President?”
“The Attorney General can arrest the President after he leaves or after impeachment.”
[Note: Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has asserted it is possible for District Attorneys around the country to charge President Bush with murder if they represent districts where one or more military members who have been killed in Iraq formerly resided.]
“Given the danger do you advocate impeachment?”
“Yes. President Bush struck down Posse Comitatus — which has prevented, with a penalty of two years in prison, U.S. leaders since after the Civil War from sending military forces into our streets — with a ’signing statement.’ He should be impeached immediately in a bipartisan process to prevent the use of military forces and mercenary forces against U.S. citizens”
“Should Americans call on senior leaders in the Military to break publicly with this action and call on their own men and women to disobey these orders?”
“Every senior military officer’s loyalty should ultimately be to the Constitution. Every officer should publicly break with any illegal order, even from the President.”
“But if these are now legal. If they say, ‘Don’t obey the Commander in Chief,’ what happens to the military?”
“Perhaps they would be arrested and prosecuted as those who refuse to participate in the current illegal war. That’s what would be considered a coup.”
“But it’s a coup already.”
“Yes.”
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Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1
3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active ArmyBy Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Sep 30, 2008 16:16:12 EDT
http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.
It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.
But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.
After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.
“Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future,” said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. “Now, the plan is to assign a force every year.”
The command is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., but the soldiers with 1st BCT, who returned in April after 15 months in Iraq, will operate out of their home post at Fort Stewart, Ga., where they’ll be able to go to school, spend time with their families and train for their new homeland mission as well as the counterinsurgency mission in the war zones.
Stop-loss will not be in effect, so soldiers will be able to leave the Army or move to new assignments during the mission, and the operational tempo will be variable.
Don’t look for any extra time off, though. The at-home mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a deployment.
The 1st of the 3rd is still scheduled to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan in early 2010, which means the soldiers will have been home a minimum of 20 months by the time they ship out.
In the meantime, they’ll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.
Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.
The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them. [Read entire article at: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/]

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Concerns about deployment of military on U.S. soil growing -- while mainstream media buries its head in the sand: Naomi Wolf
Submitted by BuzzFlash on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 9:40am.
http://buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/1813
The following is the spin of military spokespeople in response to questions about the deployment of the First Brigade on US soil for the first time in over 200 years.
The Army Times initially reported that the First Brigade would handle domestic crowd control and subduing 'unruly individuals' and that they had 'lethal and nonlethal technologies' to do so. Then it issued a correction declaring that the 'nonlethal' package was not for domestic crowd control. Then after a hue and cry was raised by many citizens, Northern Command (NorthCom) offered a wholesale revision of their mission – and the mainstream media is eating it up. Here is an excerpt from the articled linked to in the previous sentence:
Despite conspiracy theories that this could be a first step toward martial law in the U.S., there won't be tanks on Main Street or active-duty troops putting down demonstrations. That is barred by federal law banning the military from being used on U.S. soil for domestic law enforcement.
Instead, the soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., have been training to back up civilian authorities in providing medical care and dealing with chemical, biological, high explosive or nuclear attack.
Not only does this entirely contradict the first Army Times reports, it also egregiously misrepresents to readers the status of US law in regards to this deployment. Yes, there are laws against military policing on US streets -- they are part of both the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1879's Posse Comitatus Act -- but the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gutted them.
Congress restored some limitations on the President's ability to deploy troops to engage in military policing in 2008 -- but President Bush issued a signing statement declaring he did not feel bound by those limitations. He also can direct these troops -- and the National Guard, and Blackwater -- to engage in military policing of civilian populations simply by verbally and unilaterally declaring a national emergency of whatever kind he wishes.
Unfortunately, the US Army spokespeople are parsing their words and misleading us. And, whatever the stated mission is today, the fact remains that military up the chain of command report to the Commander in Chief -- not to Congress or to you and me, and not to the Governors as most of the National Guard do.
Why do I insist on raising an alarm about this deployment in spite of a great deal of opposition and criticism? (Though I am grateful, too, for a great deal of support.) I insist on raising an alarm because I am aware of world events and not just blinded by American recent history.
In Zimbabwe, a nominal democracy, President Mugabe sent troops to harass, arrest and even kill voters during a closely contested election. Mugabe's challenger called off his own supporters, telling them they should not risk being killed just in order to vote.
In Sierra Leone, a nation I visited shortly after elections, during a fragile democratic voting process troops and militias were both deployed by the contesting political parties to intimidate, beat and arrest voters. In Azerbaijan, troops were sent to intimidate the opposition during the elections -- and now there is no meaningful opposition. Don't trust me -- ask Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. Troops are sent by leaders in power, even in weakening democracies, to intimidate voters, arrest and harass opposition leaders in tightly fought elections, all over the damn world.
And nothing, nothing, nothing prevents the First Brigade from being positioned around poll locations, intimidating or silencing or threatening or worse those who challenge their voting outcome or their having been purged from the rolls. This at a time when Prof. Mark Crispin Miller of NYU and Robert Kennedy and many others are documenting MILLIONS of voters being systematically purged from rolls -- overwhelmingly by Republican actions -- and early voting is already showing machines flipping selections from Democrat to Republican, and voters becoming upset.
I am having a surreal experience with the mainstream media, as well, as I try to raise questions. A source at The Philadelphia Inquirer says that nothing has appeared on the wires about the First Brigade -- so they can't cover it. A source at The New York Times says they are 'looking into it' -- but no coverage yet. "The Today Show" asked if I was a 'fear-monger' and 'paranoid' for raising alarms and reproduced NorthCom's soundbite intact about the First Brigade being here to help with communities affected by weapons of mass destruction -- but did no independent reporting of their own. I know from hearing from citizens across party lines that I am not the only American concerned about what information the Army may have about such threats to lead to this deployment now -- the first time since the Indian Wars that troops have been sent onto US soil.
We recommend watching the just-released free online documentary of Wolf's "End of America." It's alarming and persuasive. [Read entire article at: http://buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/1813]

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Assigning U.S. Troops to U.S. Soil and Other Presidential Power Grabs
10/13/2008 4:27:06 PM
by Chelsey Perkins
At the beginning of this month, something quite extraordinary occurred in the United States, something that—despite its clearly controversial nature—went almost entirely unaddressed by mainstream media outlets. On October 1, the U.S. military assigned the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division to the United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM). This means that U.S. soldiers will be operating on U.S. soil, seemingly in direct contradiction of federal law.
The Army Times broke the story early in September, reporting that the unit “may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack....” Since the story ran, NORTHCOM officials have backed off from the “crowd control” and “civil unrest” purposes. As Col. Michael Boatner told Amy Goodman on the Oct. 7 episode of Democracy Now!, “We’re proud to be able to provide this capability. It’s all about saving lives, relieving suffering, mitigating great property damage to infrastructure and things like that, and frankly, restoring public confidence in the aftermath of an event like this.”
Questions remain, however. Why here and why now? With Homeland Security funding already helping to militarize police forces throughout the United States, what additional purpose would a U.S. military unit serve? Well, consider this possibility: The country is facing its most frightening economic crisis since the Great Depression, and civil unrest is more than a looming threat for the government. Then there's the question of whether the maneuver is even legal. Critics of the unit assignment—including Glenn Greenwald at Salon, Amy Goodman, and author Naomi Wolf—cite a longstanding law that appears to be violated by the Pentagon’s recent assignment.
The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 following Reconstruction, prohibits federal military personnel from acting in a law enforcement capacity in the United States, except if authorized by constitutional amendment or Congress. Also important to note is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which authorizes the president to deploy federal troops to quell lawlessness, insurrection, or rebellion, yet seriously limits his powers by indicating that a state government must first request assistance.
In 2007, Congress amended the act to include the authority to deploy troops in the instances of a natural disaster, epidemic, public health emergency, terrorist attack, or “other condition”—a vague phrase leaving open the possibility of wide-ranging interpretation. Although Congress repealed the amendment via the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, President Bush attached a signing statement essentially claiming his constitutional authority would allow him to act as he saw fit.
Since September 11, 2001, the executive branch has been slowly chipping away at civilian protections against martial law, possibly rendering both Posse Comitatus and the Insurrection Acts impotent. For example, as noted in 2005 on the Balkanization blog, a footnote in the 2005 book Torture Papers references a memo written by federal judge Jay Bybee in 2001 indicating his (and apparently Alberto Gonzalez’s and John Yoo’s) interpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act as not forbidding the use of military force for the purpose of preventing or deterring terrorism within the United States.
There's also National Security Presidential Directive 51, an executive order issued in May 2007 that defines the president’s unilateral authority to maintain continuity of the government in the instance of a “catastrophic emergency.” In the directive, a “catastrophic emergency” is defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.” As Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive, points out, by using the word “or,” the directive could read “any incident... that results in extraordinary levels of... disruption severely affecting the U.S.... economy.” Sounds like a “catastrophic emergency” could be declared today, with a domestic military unit at President Bush’s disposal.
Although Wolf and others go so far as to argue that President Bush has executed a coup and should be arrested or that he could potentially call off the election in the name of an emergency, the chances that we’ll be living in a full-fledged military dictatorship anytime soon are probably slim. It isn’t that the soldiers will suddenly begin patrolling polling stations or shooting fellow citizens; it’s that this action and dramatic expansions of presidential power set a dangerous precedent that could be exploited through hazily legal means.
Because President Bush defined the whole world as a battlefield in the “War on Terror,” the United States is a battlefield, too. And as commander-in-chief, the president’s orders to the domestic military unit could theoretically supersede the law of the land. Whether a president with ill intentions would act on this authority remains to be seen, but even though it hasn’t occurred, we shouldn’t be any less frightened about the possibility of it occurring at any moment. And we should make sure our laws protect against such abuses of power.

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General would deploy troops on U.S. soil
NORTHCOM commander ready to obey any presidential order to intervene in domestic emergencyPosted: November 16, 20071:00 am Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi© 2008 WorldNetDaily.com http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58696
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The commander of USNORTHCOM says he's prepared to obey any order from the president to deploy U.S. troops on American soil in response to a domestic emergency.
"If he were to choose to declare a national emergency, then clearly we at USNORTHCOM would be able to operate in that environment, in response to direct orders from the secretary of defense," Gen. Victor E. "Gene" Renuart told WND at his Peterson Air Force Base headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"But, I'm not sure that would ever be a routine event, and certainly it would be a minority event," he added in an interview conducted during a simulation of a multi-pronged terrorist attack.
As WND reported earlier this year, President Bush appears to have positioned the U.S. military and the National Guard, acting under presidential authority, to intervene in a wide range of domestic incidents that could occur anywhere in North America.
USNORTHCOM was established in 2002 with responsibility for a "homeland defense" area that includes the U.S., Canada, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean and waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans contiguous to the U.S. [Read entire article at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58696]

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Videos of Troops on U.S. Soil
http://video.google.ca/videosearch?hl=en&q=troops+on+us+soil&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title#

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Canadian troops to operate on US soil?
Friday, February 29, 2008
http://politicalbeachgirl.blogspot.com/2008/02/canadian-troops-to-operate-on-us-soil.html
Well, the Posse Comitatus law remains but the end run circumventing that law is spectacular and perhaps treasonous: US and Canada agree to use each others troops on the other's soil. Here's the link with a H/T to Blue Collar Republican: Canada, US to use troops on each other's soil in civil emergencies. Emergencies can be defined in many ways... How's that for betrayal in spades? It just keeps getting clearer and clearer - it doesn't matter who we have as president, the American people are being shafted six ways to Sunday. Just get those DVDs and the snacks and chill out. We can't even use US troops on US soil to defend our borders. Our government will not defend us from Mexican military incursions, drug cartels, or smugglers of human traffic. Hey, maybe we can use Canadian troops to protect us against the drug cartels and smugglers and other folks invading our nation. Hmmm.... No, I doubt that defending the American people is the purpose of the agreement. This move is so transparently a move to defend the "government" from the American people that it makes me ill. And I promise you, the move is "bipartisan" - once the "jackboots" clamp down upon us, no political party will lift them. I just can't believe this new assault upon the United States of America. Of course, it will make the North American Union easier to impose. How much longer until January 20th, 2009? Or does it matter? If this report and agreement between the Canadian and US governments is true, then it will be the first time since the American Revolutionary War that military troops from foreign governments will be stationed on our soil taking up arms against the American people with the exception of the War of 1812. And this time ostensibly the Canadian military will be called in for civil emergencies. I would suspect more for civil disturbances, we will after all be a nation of many diverse cultures and many languages with different standards, some more easily prone to violence and revolution. Our American Marines - God Bless them - have said continuously that they will not fire upon American citizens. Perhaps foreign troops will have no such moral dilemma. Nikita Kruschev said they would bury us from within. I wonder if they dreamed it would be so easy or carried out by our own "elected" administration. Where do we turn now, we, people of the land of the free and the home of the brave! My God, to be destroyed by our own leaders - how bold they are and how confident and how pathetic...to so blatantly betray our trust and set the stage in phases for our destruction... Of course, we are taught that we are "one nation under God with liberty and justice for all" so maybe "man" won't have the last word after all...

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How the Administration Twisted Arms to Pass the Bailout
By Joel Skousen
RepublicBroadcasting.org
http://republicbroadcasting.org/index.php?cmd=columnists.article&articleID=439
First I will quote from Congressman Ron Paul’s commentary as he points out that putting pressure on Congress to "Do Something" often leads to disaster. "It has not been a good week for the Republic. It took quite a bit of trampling of the Constitution, but the bailout bill passed, as I suspected it would. The bailout failed the first time it was brought to the House. Undaunted, the Senate pressed on by attaching the bailout as an amendment to another House passed bill that was pending in the Senate. The new bailout version had new taxes, so according to the Constitution it should not have originated in the Senate [They got around this by taking an existing tax bill that came from the house, renaming it the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and then replacing the entire contents—a real magician’s trick that none of the leadership objected to].
"In its embarrassment at being called a ‘Do-Nothing Congress’ the 110th Congress took decisive action and did SOMETHING. No matter that it was the wrong thing. In fact, it wasn't until the Senate had a chance to load it up with even MORE spending, when it was finally inflationary and horrible enough, at $850 billion instead of a mere $700 billion, that it passed –– and with a comfortable margin, in spite of constituent calls still coming in overwhelmingly against it. 57 members switched their vote! The market went down anyway. Our nation is now just that much more in the hole. You will pay your part of this mess through inflation, and very likely hyperinflation."
But even more ominous was the report that one lone Democratic Congressman had the courage to admit before the House (it got no news coverage except on CSPAN) that unnamed administration officials had actually threatened a few hold outs with martial law in the US if they didn’t pass this legislation. Steve Watson has the story:

"Congressman Brad Sherman of California’s 27th congressional district [a member of the House of Representatives since 1997 and the Committee on Financial Services with Texas Congressman Ron Paul] told the House in a speech yesterday evening that he personally knew of several Congressional representatives who have said they were threatened with the prospect of all out martial law should they vote in opposition to the $700 billion bailout. Sherman essentially intimated that powerful forces who want the bill passed have attempted to blackmail elected representatives."

‘The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. That atmosphere is not justified.’ Sherman stated. ‘Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day, another couple of thousand the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no... That’s what I call fear mongering.’"
The Future Threat of Martial Law
While the immediate threat of martial law was hollow, our government is slowly and covertly preparing for just such a step at a future time when it can be more easily justified. The Bush administration designated this week an entire combat infantry brigade (1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry) to the Army’s Northern Command—a new Command specifically designed to intervene in domestic unrest. Now that Command has teeth. While Army spokesmen downplayed the mission (according to CNN) as "search and rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support... The Army says the unit would be deployed to help local, state or federal agencies deal with such incidents, not take the lead. The law enforcement type training is not connected to its new mission, it says.
"But actual training records show the force is intending to directly attack US civilians in a law enforcement role—in contravention of the Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the use of military forces in domestic unrest. A news report in the Army Times newspaper last month noted that in addition to emergency response the force "may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control." This unit has been training with ‘equipment generally used in law enforcement, including beanbag bullets, Tasers, spike strips and roadblocks,’ said CNN. "That kind of training seems a bit out of line for the unit's designated role..."
The military continues to assert that the force will not be used for civil unrest. To test the Army’s claims, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow.com held a confrontational interview with both Army Col. Michael Boatner, future operations division chief of USNORTHCOM, and Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, a critic of the Army’s claims. Note in the interplay how simple and plain assurance by the Army spokesman, which seem innocent at first are taken apart piece by piece by a savvy critic. It’s never enough to hear only the government side.
Col. Michael Boatner: "There has been some concern and some mis-impressions that I would like to correct. The primary purpose of this force is to provide help to people in need in the aftermath of a WMD-like event in the homeland. It’s something that figures very prominently in the national planning scenarios under the National Response Framework, and that’s how DoD provides support in the homeland to civil authority. This capability is tailored technical life-saving support and then further logistic support for that very specific scenario... So we’ve been given control of these forces so that we can train them, ensure they’re responsive and direct them to participate in our exercises, so that were they called to support civil authority, those governors or local state jurisdictions that might need our help, that they would be responsive and capable in the event and also would be able to survive based on the skills that they have learned, trained and focused on.
"They ultimately have weapons, heavy weapons and combat vehicles and another service capability at their home station at Fort Stewart, Georgia, but they wouldn’t bring that stuff with them. In fact, they’re prohibited from bringing it [Who will hold the Army to its word when tanks and armored personnel carriers show up for crowd control someday?]. They would bring their individual weapons [notice he evades saying anything about tasers or other supposedly non-lethal weapons], which is the standard policy for deployments in the homeland. Those would be centralized and containerized, and they could only be issued to the soldiers with the Secretary of Defense permission. It’s all about saving lives, relieving suffering, mitigating great property damage to infrastructure and things like that, and frankly, restoring public confidence in the aftermath of an event like this.
Amy Goodman: "So the use of the weapons would only be decided by SECDEF, the Secretary of Defense. But what about the governors? Would the Sec. of Defense be able to preempt the governors in a decision whether these soldiers would use their weapons on US soil?
Col. Michael Boatner: "No, this basically only boils down to self-defense. Any military force has the inherent right to self-defense. And if the situation was inherently dangerous, then potentially the Secretary of Defense would allow them to carry their weapons, but it would only be for self- and unit-defense [so if they feel "threatened" by a crowd, or if an agent provocateur starts throwing rocks or fires a shot, we’ll have a blood bath]. This force has got no role in a civil disturbance or civil unrest, any of those kinds of things [True in law, but untrue in practice].
Matthew Rothschild: "Well, I’m very concerned on a number of fronts... Colonel Boatner talked about this unit, what it’s trained for. Well, let’s look at what it’s trained for. This is the 3rd Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat unit that has spent three of the last five years in Iraq in counterinsurgency. It’s a war-fighting unit, was one of the first units to Baghdad. It was involved in the battle of Fallujah [where they did a lot of civilian damage]. And now they’re bringing that training here? On top of that, one of the commanders of this unit was boasting in the Army Times about this new package of non-lethal weapons that has been designed, and this unit itself is going be able to use, according to that original article. And in fact, the commander was saying he had even tasered himself and was boasting about tasering himself. So, why is a Pentagon unit that’s going to be possibly patrolling the streets of the United States involved in using tasers?
Col. Michael Boatner: "That involved a service mission and a service set of equipment that was issued for overseas deployment. Those soldiers do not have that on their equipment list for deploying in the homeland [but they have them and can authorize them at a moment’s notice]. And again, they have been involved in situations overseas. So, I would say that our soldiers are trustworthy. They can deploy in the homeland, and American citizens can be confident that there will be no abuses.
Matthew Rothschild: "Well, you know, that doesn’t really satisfy me, and I don’t think it should satisfy your listeners and your audience, Amy, because, you know, our people in the field in Iraq, some of them have not behaved up to the highest standards, and a lot of police forces in the United States who have been using these tasers have used them inappropriately. The whole question here about what the Pentagon is doing patrolling in the United States gets to the real heart of the matter, which is, do we have a democracy here? I mean, there is a law on the books called the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act that says that the president of the United States, as commander-in-chief, cannot put the military on our streets. And this is a violation of that, it seems to me. President Bush tried to get around this act a couple years ago in the Defense Authorization Act that he signed that got rid of some of those restrictions, and then last year, in the new Defense Authorization Act, thanks to the work of Senator Patrick Leahy and Kit Bond of Missouri, that was stripped away. And so, the President isn’t supposed to be using the military in this fashion, and though the President, true to form, appended a signing statement to that saying he’s not going to be governed by that. So, here we have a situation where the President of United States has been aggrandizing his power, and this gives him a whole brigade unit to use against US citizens here at home.
Col. Michael Boatner: "[responding to the Posse Comitatus Act restrictions] It absolutely governs in every instance. We are not allowed to help enforce the law [then why do they have any role at all?]. We don’t do that. Every time we get a request [from the President, not the Governors]—and again, this kind of a deployment is defense support to civil authority under the National Response Framework and the Stafford Act. And we do it all the time, in response to hurricanes, floods, fires and things like that [that used to be the exclusive call of the Governors]. But again, you know, if we review the requirement that comes to us from civil authority and it has any complexion of law enforcement whatsoever, it gets rejected and pushed back, because it’s not lawful.
Matthew Rothschild: "One of the reasons [his answer] doesn’t [satisfy me] is not by what Boatner was saying right there, but what President Bush has been doing. And if we looked at National Security Presidential Directive 51, that he signed on May 9th of 2007, Amy, this gives the President enormous powers to declare a catastrophic emergency and to bypass our regular system of laws, essentially, to impose a form of martial law. And if you look at that National Security Presidential Directive, what it says, that in any incident where there is extraordinary disruption of a whole range of things, including our economy, the President can declare a catastrophic emergency."
Naomi Wolf Sounds the Alarm
Naomi Wolf, author of "Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries" sounds the alarm—and everyone should be listening. Below is a link to a dramatic interview of this gutsy and articulate author. Never before have I seen a better recitation of the coordinated threats being built up for the suppression of dissent in America. Everyone should watch this.
That said, I have a few caveats to offer so that you will not be led astray by some of her statements. 1) There was no coup on 1 October (when the threats came down for Martial Law in order to pass the Bailout Bill). The PTB have been in relative control of our government for over a century. These threats appear because they only have effective control, not absolute control —so they still have to "lean on" people from time to time. 2) Her tactic of finding a state Attorney General to arrest the President is worthless. No District Attorney or even the federal Attorney General would do that. The only real constitutional authority is impeachment and that is off the table with both parties in power.
In fact, there can be no popular revolution unless a huge minority of people of people start taking to the street. And even if they did, they would succumb to almost any false solution the establishment Congress came up with to pacify them (ie: another Congressional investigation stacked with establishment insiders). The PTB are very careful not to inflame the majority, even during this financial crisis. In my end of the year "Big Picture" issue, I will speak extensively to the issue of what we can and cannot do to fight this losing battle. Don’t miss it.
Here is the link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XgkeTanCGI
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Why is a U.S. Army brigade being assigned to the "Homeland"?
By Glenn Greenwald
Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/09/24/army/
Several bloggers today have pointed to this obviously disturbing article from Army Times, which announces that "beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North" -- "the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities." The article details:
They'll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.
They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack. . . .
The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
"It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they're fielding. They've been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it."
The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
"I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered," said Cloutier, describing the experience as "your worst muscle cramp ever -- times 10 throughout your whole body". . . .
The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced "sea-smurf").
For more than 100 years -- since the end of the Civil War -- deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Though there have been some erosions of this prohibition over the last several decades (most perniciously to allow the use of the military to work with law enforcement agencies in the "War on Drugs"), the bright line ban on using the U.S. military as a standing law enforcement force inside the U.S. has been more or less honored -- until now. And as the Army Times notes, once this particular brigade completes its one-year assignment, "expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one."
After Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration began openly agitating for what would be, in essence, a complete elimination of the key prohibitions of the Posse Comitatus Act in order to allow the President to deploy U.S. military forces inside the U.S. basically at will -- and, as usual, they were successful as a result of rapid bipartisan compliance with the Leader's demand (the same kind of compliance that is about to foist a bailout package on the nation). This April, 2007 article by James Bovard in The American Conservative detailed the now-familiar mechanics that led to the destruction of this particular long-standing democratic safeguard:
The Defense Authorization Act of 2006, passed on Sept. 30, empowers President George W. Bush to impose martial law in the event of a terrorist "incident," if he or other federal officials perceive a shortfall of "public order," or even in response to antiwar protests that get unruly as a result of government provocations. . . .
It only took a few paragraphs in a $500 billion, 591-page bill to raze one of the most important limits on federal power. Congress passed the Insurrection Act in 1807 to severely restrict the president's ability to deploy the military within the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tightened these restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone who used the military within the U.S. without the express permission of Congress. But there is a loophole: Posse Comitatus is waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.
Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from "Insurrection Act" to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act." The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only "to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy." The new law expands the list to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition" -- and such "condition" is not defined or limited. . . .
The story of how Section 1076 became law vivifies how expanding government power is almost always the correct answer in Washington. Some people have claimed the provision was slipped into the bill in the middle of the night. In reality, the administration clearly signaled its intent and almost no one in the media or Congress tried to stop it . . . .
Section 1076 was supported by both conservatives and liberals. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, co-wrote the provision along with committee chairman Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). Sen. Ted Kennedy openly endorsed it, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), then-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was an avid proponent. . . .
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned on Sept. 19 that "we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law," but his alarm got no response. Ten days later, he commented in the Congressional Record: "Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy." Leahy further condemned the process, declaring that it "was just slipped in the defense bill as a rider with little study. Other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals."
As is typical, very few members of the media even mentioned any of this, let alone discussed it (and I failed to give this the attention it deserved at the time), but Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein wrote an excellent article at the time detailing the process and noted that "despite such a radical turn, the new law garnered little dissent, or even attention, on the Hill." Stein also noted that while "the blogosphere, of course, was all over it . . . a search of The Washington Post and New York Times archives, using the terms 'Insurrection Act,' 'martial law' and 'Congress,' came up empty."
Bovard and Stein both noted that every Governor -- including Republicans -- joined in Leahy's objections, as they perceived it as a threat from the Federal Government to what has long been the role of the National Guard. But those concerns were easily brushed aside by the bipartisan majorities in Congress, eager -- as always -- to grant the President this radical new power.
The decision this month to permanently deploy a U.S. Army brigade inside the U.S. for purely domestic law enforcement purposes is the fruit of the Congressional elimination of the long-standing prohibitions in Posse Comitatus (although there are credible signs that even before Congress acted, the Bush administration secretly decided it possessed the inherent power to violate the Act). It shouldn't take any efforts to explain why the permanent deployment of the U.S. military inside American cities, acting as the President's police force, is so disturbing. Bovard:
"Martial law" is a euphemism for military dictatorship. When foreign democracies are overthrown and a junta establishes martial law, Americans usually recognize that a fundamental change has occurred. . . . Section 1076 is Enabling Act-type legislation—something that purports to preserve law-and-order while formally empowering the president to rule by decree.
The historic importance of the Posse Comitatus prohibition was also well-analyzed here.
As the recent militarization of St. Paul during the GOP Convention made abundantly clear, our actual police forces are already quite militarized. Still, what possible rationale is there for permanently deploying the U.S. Army inside the United States -- under the command of the President -- for any purpose, let alone things such as "crowd control," other traditional law enforcement functions, and a seemingly unlimited array of other uses at the President's sole discretion? And where are all of the stalwart right-wing "small government conservatives" who spent the 1990s so vocally opposing every aspect of the growing federal police force? And would it be possible to get some explanation from the Government about what the rationale is for this unprecedented domestic military deployment (at least unprecedented since the Civil War), and why it is being undertaken now?
UPDATE: As this commenter notes, the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act somewhat limited the scope of the powers granted by the 2007 Act detailed above (mostly to address constitutional concerns by limiting the President's powers to deploy the military to suppress disorder that threatens constitutional rights), but President Bush, when signing that 2008 Act into law, issued a signing statement which, though vague, seems to declare that he does not recognize those new limitations.
UPDATE II: There's no need to start manufacturing all sorts of scare scenarios about Bush canceling elections or the imminent declaration of martial law or anything of that sort. None of that is going to happen with a single brigade and it's unlikely in the extreme that they'd be announcing these deployments if they had activated any such plans. The point is that the deployment is a very dangerous precedent, quite possibly illegal, and a radical abandonment of an important democratic safeguard. As always with first steps of this sort, the danger lies in how the power can be abused in the future.

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Is Posse Comitatus Dead? US Troops on US Streets
October 07, 2008
Democracy Now!
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/7/us_army_denies_unit_will_be
Amy Goodman interviews Col. Michael Boatner, Future Operations division chief of USNORTHCOM and Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive magazine.

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Report: Economic Crisis Here Could Lead to Civil Unrest, Military Rule
By Susie Madrak
Monday Dec 29, 2008 5:00pm
http://crooksandliars.com/
This isn't sounding quite as crazy as it used to:
EL PASO -- A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.
"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.
The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.
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DoD May Act On US Civil Unrest
December 29, 2008
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
http://www.military.com/news/article/study-dod-may-act-on-us-civil-unrest.html?ESRC=eb.nl
A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.
"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.
The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.
[...]
Earlier this year, Pentagon officials said as many as 20,000 Soldiers under the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will be trained within the next three years to work with civilian law enforcement in homeland security.
[Read entire article at: http://www.military.com/news/article/study-dod-may-act-on-us-civil-unrest.html?ESRC=eb.nl]

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