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Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters "We Are Coming For You"; Calls John Kerry A "Murderer" | Zero Hedge

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge.

As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”

  • *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
  • *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS

With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soonJohn Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.

As Bloomberg reports,

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas

Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says

As tensions with the US continue to rise:

The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.

“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”

Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”

“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.

As Stratfor notesthese protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quoPerhaps things could be changing for Maduro…

Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.

The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.

But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.

How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.

Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see

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Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge.

As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”

  • *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
  • *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS

With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soonJohn Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.

As Bloomberg reports,

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas

Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says

As tensions with the US continue to rise:

The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.

“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”

Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”

“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.

As Stratfor notesthese protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quoPerhaps things could be changing for Maduro…

Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.

The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.

But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.

How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.

Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see

Corporate Tax Avoidance 'Scheme' Hurting Canada, Expert Says

Corporate Tax Avoidance ‘Scheme’ Hurting Canada, Expert Says.

 

offshore tax havens

As Canadians dutifully file personal income tax returns during the coming weeks, consider this: many profitable companies pay little or no tax.

In an interview this week on The Sunday Edition, Dennis Howlett, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, says these multinational corporations set up subsidiaries in tax havens such as Ireland, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and devise ways to transfer profits there from Canada. There are no laws to prevent this.

“There’s been a proliferation of tax havens,” Howlett explains to host Michael Enright. “Now, a quarter of all direct Canadian foreign investment going abroad is going to tax haven countries. That’s about $170 billion sitting in tax havens, so it’s become a huge problem.”

An additional concern for Howlett’s organization is Canada’s low corporate tax rate, which the Conservative government established with no guarantee or requirement from corporations that they spend it on job creation or other benefits to the country.

Currently, the rate is about 25 or 26 per cent, depending on the province. It’s so low that Howlett has actually heard complaints from the U.S.

“I was in Washington a year or so ago when I met with some of the congressional staff there, who were complaining about Canada becoming a tax haven,” he says, “because our corporate tax rates are now 10 points below the U.S.”

Culture of ‘secrecy’

He reveals that according to Bloomberg LP, few multinationals even pay that low rate. Of the TSX 60 – the top 60 companies trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange – only four paid 25 per cent tax or more between 2007 and 2011.

Thirteen per cent of these corporations paid less than 5 per cent in taxes and more than half paid less than 10 per cent. Much of this tax evasion is done secretly.

“The secrecy allows people to open shell companies or trust accounts where they don’t have to identify who the ultimate beneficial owner is,” Howlett explains. “So an account can be opened up in the name of a local lawyer or some other person who acts as an intermediary. That way they can hide the fact that they’ve got money sitting in an account and it’s very hard for the Canadian Revenue Agency to figure out who’s got money hiding in Barbados or Cayman Islands or wherever it is.”

He adds that severe cuts at Revenue Canada – more than 3,000 public servants, more than any other government department – have hampered the government’s ability to investigate cases of corporate tax avoidance: “The problem is unless there is some credible threat of being caught, more and more people get into this tax-haven, tax-avoidance scheme.”

He says the situation has become so serious that some corporations are trying to “put the brakes on” tax cuts, as they witness the effects on critical areas of the Canadian economy, such as education, health care and infrastructure.

Global efforts are underway for reform. The G8 and G20 summits asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to devise a new international corporate tax system.

“Ultimately, I think we need a unitary taxation system where multinational corporations have to report their global profits, and the profits should be taxed where the economic activities occur and the value is created,” Howlett says. “If the corporations aren’t paying their fair share, ordinary taxpayers are shouldering more of the tax responsibility.”

Corporate Tax Avoidance ‘Scheme’ Hurting Canada, Expert Says

Corporate Tax Avoidance ‘Scheme’ Hurting Canada, Expert Says.

 

offshore tax havens

As Canadians dutifully file personal income tax returns during the coming weeks, consider this: many profitable companies pay little or no tax.

In an interview this week on The Sunday Edition, Dennis Howlett, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, says these multinational corporations set up subsidiaries in tax havens such as Ireland, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and devise ways to transfer profits there from Canada. There are no laws to prevent this.

“There’s been a proliferation of tax havens,” Howlett explains to host Michael Enright. “Now, a quarter of all direct Canadian foreign investment going abroad is going to tax haven countries. That’s about $170 billion sitting in tax havens, so it’s become a huge problem.”

An additional concern for Howlett’s organization is Canada’s low corporate tax rate, which the Conservative government established with no guarantee or requirement from corporations that they spend it on job creation or other benefits to the country.

Currently, the rate is about 25 or 26 per cent, depending on the province. It’s so low that Howlett has actually heard complaints from the U.S.

“I was in Washington a year or so ago when I met with some of the congressional staff there, who were complaining about Canada becoming a tax haven,” he says, “because our corporate tax rates are now 10 points below the U.S.”

Culture of ‘secrecy’

He reveals that according to Bloomberg LP, few multinationals even pay that low rate. Of the TSX 60 – the top 60 companies trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange – only four paid 25 per cent tax or more between 2007 and 2011.

Thirteen per cent of these corporations paid less than 5 per cent in taxes and more than half paid less than 10 per cent. Much of this tax evasion is done secretly.

“The secrecy allows people to open shell companies or trust accounts where they don’t have to identify who the ultimate beneficial owner is,” Howlett explains. “So an account can be opened up in the name of a local lawyer or some other person who acts as an intermediary. That way they can hide the fact that they’ve got money sitting in an account and it’s very hard for the Canadian Revenue Agency to figure out who’s got money hiding in Barbados or Cayman Islands or wherever it is.”

He adds that severe cuts at Revenue Canada – more than 3,000 public servants, more than any other government department – have hampered the government’s ability to investigate cases of corporate tax avoidance: “The problem is unless there is some credible threat of being caught, more and more people get into this tax-haven, tax-avoidance scheme.”

He says the situation has become so serious that some corporations are trying to “put the brakes on” tax cuts, as they witness the effects on critical areas of the Canadian economy, such as education, health care and infrastructure.

Global efforts are underway for reform. The G8 and G20 summits asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to devise a new international corporate tax system.

“Ultimately, I think we need a unitary taxation system where multinational corporations have to report their global profits, and the profits should be taxed where the economic activities occur and the value is created,” Howlett says. “If the corporations aren’t paying their fair share, ordinary taxpayers are shouldering more of the tax responsibility.”

What Happens After Sunday's Crimea Referendum Vote? | Zero Hedge

What Happens After Sunday’s Crimea Referendum Vote? | Zero Hedge.

Given this morning’s UN vote declaring the Crimea referendum invalid (and Russia’s obvious veto – along with China’s abstention), and on the heels of Lavrov’s words Friday that Russia would decide how to respond to the Crimean vote after the referendum had been held, it is thought-provoking to consider Putin’s options given the vote’s outcome is a near-certainty voting in favor of accession to the Russian Federation (especially in light of this morning’s images across Crimea). Europe’s Council on Foreign Relations notes “not knowing Vladimir Putin’s strategy makes it hard for Europe and the West to come up with meaningful and workable responses. In a way, we are all speculating and trying to get a glimpse into Putin’s soul. The five points below attempt to reinforce or refute some aspects of the conventional wisdom that has emerged from all this speculation.”

 

Via CEFR,

1. Has Putin always wanted to invade Crimea?  

Russian diplomats (who probably hate their jobs these days) have made elaborate attempts to demonstrate that no international law has been broken in Crimea. But the breach is blatant and the pretext used to justify invasion is thinner than thin – and Moscow knows it.

It is true that some hawkish groups in Moscow probably could not care less about international law. They would approve of any means to reunify Slavic lands. However, the bulk of the establishment has in fact always maintained a different position. For example, the Russian foreign ministry has traditionally adhered to a rigidly legalistic view of world affairs: in effect, post-1945 international law, with its strict emphasis on state sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and the inviolability of borders. Newer and softer concepts, such as the responsibility to protect, are alien to them.

Putin himself has always passionately belonged to that legalistic camp, as evidenced by his positions on Libya, on Syria, and on multiple other issues. Therefore, deciding to invade Crimea cannot have been easy for him. He must consider that something extremely important is at stake. The corollary is that in defending his conception of what is at stake, he may well be ready to go further than many of us assume.

2. Is Putin out of touch with reality?

Angela Merkel’s statement that Putin is out of touch with reality, which was leaked to the New York Times, gave rise to a considerable amount of conjecture and comment. Some people concluded that Putin has gone mad. In fact, while he may be living in his own version of reality, it looks like Putin’s world has actually been around for a long time.

Putin seems to sincerely believe that dangerous extremist groups have taken power in Kiev. He may genuinely not realise that the events in Kiev represented a classic popular revolution. As pointed out by Fiona Hill, it is possible that the whole concept of popular revolutions is alien to Putin. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Russia was having its own revolution, Putin was not there – he was serving the KGB in Dresden. He did not personally witness the fact that a massive number of people were involved in the overthrow of the Soviet Union. His being abroad for these pivotal events, as well as his KGB schooling and worldview, may have made it easy for him to see the collapse of the Soviet Union as the result of a conspiracy by a few combined with betrayal by others.

Similarly, Putin may see current events in Ukraine as a conspiracy by the West, which was definitely his view of the Orange revolution of 2004. Or he may see the situation as the result of recklessness: actions along the same lines as Western involvement in Libya and Syria. As Putin sees it, in both places the West has supported marginal and extremist groups against legitimate leaders, in a naïve hope that democracy will somehow take root in the ruins of the old regimes. It may well be that he saw the West applying the same logic to Ukraine and decided that he could not allow anything of the kind to happen in Ukraine.

Added to this, he likely feels a sense of betrayal over the West’s (as he sees it) geopolitical incursion into Ukraine, and over the West’s failure (as he sees it) to support Viktor Yanukovych after the agreement of February 21. All this comes together to form the reality in which Putin lives.

This means that what we are seeing as Putin’s revisionism may still be inspired largely by his conservatism. Also, much of his reality is indeed based on false premises. But understanding this does not make it easier to set the record straight and make Putin see sense – as multiple Western interlocutors have by now discovered.

3. Does Putin want to use Crimea as leverage over Ukraine? 

Some analysts assume that Russia will stop short of incorporating Crimea, but will instead keep it in a Transnistria-style legal limbo in order to use it as leverage over Kiev. It seems likely that obtaining leverage over all of Ukraine, as opposed to just Crimea, is Moscow’s real goal. But it is hard to predict exactly what Moscow will see as sufficient and reliable leverage.The government that came to power in Kiev in late February is weak. Contrary to Moscow’s claims, it is not illegitimate – it is as legitimate as it can be under the circumstances. However, it still does not represent the whole of society in the ways that a government should. In theory, it would have been easy for Moscow to gain leverage over the new government by using a mixture of legitimate and more shady means. But Moscow did not even make the attempt.

By now, it is unclear just how much the “Transnistrianisation” of Crimea would add to Moscow’s leverage. Kiev is now considerably less amenable to making a deal with Moscow than it would have been less than a month ago. Many in the nationalist camp may be secretly relieved to see Crimea go, taking with it its two million Russian voters and Russian base.

As recently as a week or so ago, Russia could probably have counted on the West to put pressure on Kiev. The West is terrified by what Moscow is doing and it does not know how to respond. So, many would have been relieved if, instead of annexing Crimea, Russia stopped at “Transnistrianisation”. The West would have been ready to put pressure on Kiev to accept Moscow’s conditions – thereby, of course, contributing to prolonged bad governance in Ukraine and, consequently, to more trouble down the road. But Moscow did not try to use the West either – and now it could be too late for that as well. The build-up of Russian troops at Ukraine’s borders has probably made the West more determined to counter Russia and less likely to go for unholy compromises. And, likewise, the massing of troops could indicate that Moscow is not interested in making use of Western pressure. The sort of control over Kiev that the Kremlin has in mind may be of a much harder sort than mere co-option and coercion.

4. Is Putin acting only in response to domestic pressures?

Some analysts claim that the whole Crimea affair was begun in order to impress the domestic public, who have increasingly fallen out of love with Putin. Others, even those who do not share that interpretation, claim that Putin cannot back down because of domestic pressures. It is true that the invasion has boosted Putin’s ratings. And the domestic media-propaganda machine has created a powerful momentum for annexation, which has the support of many in Russian society. But it is still hard to believe that any of this constitutes serious limitations of action for Putin, especially given that he does not have to face the ballot box any time soon.

Russian society has no capacity for an informed and critical discussion about foreign policy. The state-controlled media is masterful in justifying the regime’s actions, whatever they may be. Portraying a climb-down as a victory would be easy. (This kind of method is described well in an old Soviet joke about a 100-metre race between Ronald Reagan and Leonid Brezhnev: after Reagan’s win, the Soviet news agency reported that “in yesterday’s race between the heads of state the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR achieved a precious second place. The president of the Imperialist United States finished second-last.”)

In short, for the moment at least, Putin is in no way hostage to his domestic constituency. But that does not mean that he will want to de-escalate or back down.

5. Will sanctions stop Putin?

Different people see different logic behind Western sanctions on Russia. Some hope that sanctions, or the threat of them, will force Moscow to back down. Others hope that sanctions will alienate Russian elites from Putin and leave him with little domestic support. Others simply believe that people who were instrumental in acting against sovereignty and territorial integrity deserve to be punished. And some look at the situation from a long-term perspective and think that sanctions should be applied to erode the economic foundations of an increasingly aggressive regime.

Much of this reasoning seems accurate and justified. But even so, the calculation that sanctions will make Putin reverse course does not ring true. Ever since the domestic protests of 2011-2012, Putin has lost trust in the members of his elite who keep their money in the West and so are vulnerable to Western pressures. Losing their support, therefore, does not really matter to him. They have no leverage over him. In any case, “repatriating money” has been an unofficial policy for quite a while.

Sanctions, as well as Putin’s growing alienation from Russian elites, may well have effects in the medium term. But they will not stop Putin on Sunday or in the days ahead. Even so, this does not mean that sanctions are futile or unnecessary – especially because it seems more and more likely that we are now facing a longer-term battle between Russia and the West.

What Happens After Sunday’s Crimea Referendum Vote? | Zero Hedge

What Happens After Sunday’s Crimea Referendum Vote? | Zero Hedge.

Given this morning’s UN vote declaring the Crimea referendum invalid (and Russia’s obvious veto – along with China’s abstention), and on the heels of Lavrov’s words Friday that Russia would decide how to respond to the Crimean vote after the referendum had been held, it is thought-provoking to consider Putin’s options given the vote’s outcome is a near-certainty voting in favor of accession to the Russian Federation (especially in light of this morning’s images across Crimea). Europe’s Council on Foreign Relations notes “not knowing Vladimir Putin’s strategy makes it hard for Europe and the West to come up with meaningful and workable responses. In a way, we are all speculating and trying to get a glimpse into Putin’s soul. The five points below attempt to reinforce or refute some aspects of the conventional wisdom that has emerged from all this speculation.”

 

Via CEFR,

1. Has Putin always wanted to invade Crimea?  

Russian diplomats (who probably hate their jobs these days) have made elaborate attempts to demonstrate that no international law has been broken in Crimea. But the breach is blatant and the pretext used to justify invasion is thinner than thin – and Moscow knows it.

It is true that some hawkish groups in Moscow probably could not care less about international law. They would approve of any means to reunify Slavic lands. However, the bulk of the establishment has in fact always maintained a different position. For example, the Russian foreign ministry has traditionally adhered to a rigidly legalistic view of world affairs: in effect, post-1945 international law, with its strict emphasis on state sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and the inviolability of borders. Newer and softer concepts, such as the responsibility to protect, are alien to them.

Putin himself has always passionately belonged to that legalistic camp, as evidenced by his positions on Libya, on Syria, and on multiple other issues. Therefore, deciding to invade Crimea cannot have been easy for him. He must consider that something extremely important is at stake. The corollary is that in defending his conception of what is at stake, he may well be ready to go further than many of us assume.

2. Is Putin out of touch with reality?

Angela Merkel’s statement that Putin is out of touch with reality, which was leaked to the New York Times, gave rise to a considerable amount of conjecture and comment. Some people concluded that Putin has gone mad. In fact, while he may be living in his own version of reality, it looks like Putin’s world has actually been around for a long time.

Putin seems to sincerely believe that dangerous extremist groups have taken power in Kiev. He may genuinely not realise that the events in Kiev represented a classic popular revolution. As pointed out by Fiona Hill, it is possible that the whole concept of popular revolutions is alien to Putin. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Russia was having its own revolution, Putin was not there – he was serving the KGB in Dresden. He did not personally witness the fact that a massive number of people were involved in the overthrow of the Soviet Union. His being abroad for these pivotal events, as well as his KGB schooling and worldview, may have made it easy for him to see the collapse of the Soviet Union as the result of a conspiracy by a few combined with betrayal by others.

Similarly, Putin may see current events in Ukraine as a conspiracy by the West, which was definitely his view of the Orange revolution of 2004. Or he may see the situation as the result of recklessness: actions along the same lines as Western involvement in Libya and Syria. As Putin sees it, in both places the West has supported marginal and extremist groups against legitimate leaders, in a naïve hope that democracy will somehow take root in the ruins of the old regimes. It may well be that he saw the West applying the same logic to Ukraine and decided that he could not allow anything of the kind to happen in Ukraine.

Added to this, he likely feels a sense of betrayal over the West’s (as he sees it) geopolitical incursion into Ukraine, and over the West’s failure (as he sees it) to support Viktor Yanukovych after the agreement of February 21. All this comes together to form the reality in which Putin lives.

This means that what we are seeing as Putin’s revisionism may still be inspired largely by his conservatism. Also, much of his reality is indeed based on false premises. But understanding this does not make it easier to set the record straight and make Putin see sense – as multiple Western interlocutors have by now discovered.

3. Does Putin want to use Crimea as leverage over Ukraine? 

Some analysts assume that Russia will stop short of incorporating Crimea, but will instead keep it in a Transnistria-style legal limbo in order to use it as leverage over Kiev. It seems likely that obtaining leverage over all of Ukraine, as opposed to just Crimea, is Moscow’s real goal. But it is hard to predict exactly what Moscow will see as sufficient and reliable leverage.The government that came to power in Kiev in late February is weak. Contrary to Moscow’s claims, it is not illegitimate – it is as legitimate as it can be under the circumstances. However, it still does not represent the whole of society in the ways that a government should. In theory, it would have been easy for Moscow to gain leverage over the new government by using a mixture of legitimate and more shady means. But Moscow did not even make the attempt.

By now, it is unclear just how much the “Transnistrianisation” of Crimea would add to Moscow’s leverage. Kiev is now considerably less amenable to making a deal with Moscow than it would have been less than a month ago. Many in the nationalist camp may be secretly relieved to see Crimea go, taking with it its two million Russian voters and Russian base.

As recently as a week or so ago, Russia could probably have counted on the West to put pressure on Kiev. The West is terrified by what Moscow is doing and it does not know how to respond. So, many would have been relieved if, instead of annexing Crimea, Russia stopped at “Transnistrianisation”. The West would have been ready to put pressure on Kiev to accept Moscow’s conditions – thereby, of course, contributing to prolonged bad governance in Ukraine and, consequently, to more trouble down the road. But Moscow did not try to use the West either – and now it could be too late for that as well. The build-up of Russian troops at Ukraine’s borders has probably made the West more determined to counter Russia and less likely to go for unholy compromises. And, likewise, the massing of troops could indicate that Moscow is not interested in making use of Western pressure. The sort of control over Kiev that the Kremlin has in mind may be of a much harder sort than mere co-option and coercion.

4. Is Putin acting only in response to domestic pressures?

Some analysts claim that the whole Crimea affair was begun in order to impress the domestic public, who have increasingly fallen out of love with Putin. Others, even those who do not share that interpretation, claim that Putin cannot back down because of domestic pressures. It is true that the invasion has boosted Putin’s ratings. And the domestic media-propaganda machine has created a powerful momentum for annexation, which has the support of many in Russian society. But it is still hard to believe that any of this constitutes serious limitations of action for Putin, especially given that he does not have to face the ballot box any time soon.

Russian society has no capacity for an informed and critical discussion about foreign policy. The state-controlled media is masterful in justifying the regime’s actions, whatever they may be. Portraying a climb-down as a victory would be easy. (This kind of method is described well in an old Soviet joke about a 100-metre race between Ronald Reagan and Leonid Brezhnev: after Reagan’s win, the Soviet news agency reported that “in yesterday’s race between the heads of state the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR achieved a precious second place. The president of the Imperialist United States finished second-last.”)

In short, for the moment at least, Putin is in no way hostage to his domestic constituency. But that does not mean that he will want to de-escalate or back down.

5. Will sanctions stop Putin?

Different people see different logic behind Western sanctions on Russia. Some hope that sanctions, or the threat of them, will force Moscow to back down. Others hope that sanctions will alienate Russian elites from Putin and leave him with little domestic support. Others simply believe that people who were instrumental in acting against sovereignty and territorial integrity deserve to be punished. And some look at the situation from a long-term perspective and think that sanctions should be applied to erode the economic foundations of an increasingly aggressive regime.

Much of this reasoning seems accurate and justified. But even so, the calculation that sanctions will make Putin reverse course does not ring true. Ever since the domestic protests of 2011-2012, Putin has lost trust in the members of his elite who keep their money in the West and so are vulnerable to Western pressures. Losing their support, therefore, does not really matter to him. They have no leverage over him. In any case, “repatriating money” has been an unofficial policy for quite a while.

Sanctions, as well as Putin’s growing alienation from Russian elites, may well have effects in the medium term. But they will not stop Putin on Sunday or in the days ahead. Even so, this does not mean that sanctions are futile or unnecessary – especially because it seems more and more likely that we are now facing a longer-term battle between Russia and the West.

Are We Fully Understanding the Consequences of Oil Transit Accidents? | Nick Martyn

Are We Fully Understanding the Consequences of Oil Transit Accidents? | Nick Martyn.

Recent events in Canada’s rail transport network have prompted a much-needed national debate about the risks of energy transport and rail safety. No matter our personal stance regarding climate change, we all live in an oil dependant society and until we find another way to power the global economy and our civil society, oil and gas will have to move from where it is found to where it is used. In Canada that largely means it will move either via pipeline or rail. But when a pipeline leaks or oil tankers derail, the risks of oil transit are thrown into stark relief; especially for the residents of communities in the immediate vicinity and the ecosystems affected.

Broadly speaking, risk is thought of as the “possibility of loss.” It is generally viewed as the combination of the likelihood of loss and the consequences of that loss. Likelihood, otherwise known as the “probability of occurrence”, is the foundation of actuarial science; which underpins the insurance industry. Probability suggests that if historical trends continue and the future cooperates with the past, then the likelihood of something occurring can be calculated to a sufficient degree that insurance against the event could be issued with a reasonable chance that it would not have to be paid. In essence a bet is laid against the event. If the event occurs then the insurer has to pay out. If it does not then the insurer makes money.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada declared 2013 the worst year on record for insurance related payouts, meaning that insurers will pay out a lot of money because the future did not cooperate with the past and the unlikely happened. The object lesson here is that while likelihood is interesting, consequences are costly.

As we seek export markets for Canadian energy products, so the volume of those products in transit increases. Eric Sprott, the renowned Canadian resource investor notes in his January 27, 2014 newsletter that by the end of 2013 Canada’s rail industry was shipping 375,000 barrels of oil per day and that figure is expected to each 900,000 barrels per day by the end of 2014. As for a pipeline, Sprott believes the Energy East pipeline will get the go-ahead and will increase Canada’s export capacity by 800,000 barrels. Since Canada has not added significantly to its pipeline infrastructure in decades, there is little choice but to ship it via the rail network, which coincidentally has not been significantly increased in decades. When both the nature and the volume of rail traffic increases on a network that has not appreciably increased in size or capability the “likelihood” of failure events also increases, as do the consequences.

To date consequence has been considered somewhat subjective and therefore less quantifiable than likelihood, partly because each stakeholder sees consequence differently. For instance the Mayor of a community thinks of the consequence of a train derailment and spill in the community in a much different way than the CEO of the rail company or the owner of the shipment. The cold hard reality is that no matter how small the statistical likelihood that derailments will happen, the consequences when derailments happen are significant. As events increase in frequency and it seems severity, it is clearly time to rethink our evaluation of risk in rail transport.

While the probability that a train-load of inappropriately classified oil products would careen down a hill in rural Quebec and explode, killing 47 people and contaminating a fragile lake ecosystem was so infinitesimally small as to be almost incalculable, the consequences were devastating and will be felt for generations. The policies that drive rail system regulation (or any system for that matter) are driven by the likelihood of a failure not the consequences. In part this is because it is difficult to foresee every event and frame a regulation to prevent it, but also because the risk analysis techniques to quantify consequence in a useful way, to date, have not existed.

Risk analysis techniques have improved markedly in recent years, to the point that networked risk analysis tools can fathom the pathways of exposure to risk in models containing thousands of entities. Given the complexity and importance of the energy transport question in Canada and the severe and sometimes tragic consequences of failure, it seems time to revisit the question of energy transport risk with modern tools so that no matter which side of the energy debate we stand on, we have a safer, cleaner Canada to live in and to pass on to our children.

Are We Fully Understanding the Consequences of Oil Transit Accidents? | Nick Martyn

Are We Fully Understanding the Consequences of Oil Transit Accidents? | Nick Martyn.

Recent events in Canada’s rail transport network have prompted a much-needed national debate about the risks of energy transport and rail safety. No matter our personal stance regarding climate change, we all live in an oil dependant society and until we find another way to power the global economy and our civil society, oil and gas will have to move from where it is found to where it is used. In Canada that largely means it will move either via pipeline or rail. But when a pipeline leaks or oil tankers derail, the risks of oil transit are thrown into stark relief; especially for the residents of communities in the immediate vicinity and the ecosystems affected.

Broadly speaking, risk is thought of as the “possibility of loss.” It is generally viewed as the combination of the likelihood of loss and the consequences of that loss. Likelihood, otherwise known as the “probability of occurrence”, is the foundation of actuarial science; which underpins the insurance industry. Probability suggests that if historical trends continue and the future cooperates with the past, then the likelihood of something occurring can be calculated to a sufficient degree that insurance against the event could be issued with a reasonable chance that it would not have to be paid. In essence a bet is laid against the event. If the event occurs then the insurer has to pay out. If it does not then the insurer makes money.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada declared 2013 the worst year on record for insurance related payouts, meaning that insurers will pay out a lot of money because the future did not cooperate with the past and the unlikely happened. The object lesson here is that while likelihood is interesting, consequences are costly.

As we seek export markets for Canadian energy products, so the volume of those products in transit increases. Eric Sprott, the renowned Canadian resource investor notes in his January 27, 2014 newsletter that by the end of 2013 Canada’s rail industry was shipping 375,000 barrels of oil per day and that figure is expected to each 900,000 barrels per day by the end of 2014. As for a pipeline, Sprott believes the Energy East pipeline will get the go-ahead and will increase Canada’s export capacity by 800,000 barrels. Since Canada has not added significantly to its pipeline infrastructure in decades, there is little choice but to ship it via the rail network, which coincidentally has not been significantly increased in decades. When both the nature and the volume of rail traffic increases on a network that has not appreciably increased in size or capability the “likelihood” of failure events also increases, as do the consequences.

To date consequence has been considered somewhat subjective and therefore less quantifiable than likelihood, partly because each stakeholder sees consequence differently. For instance the Mayor of a community thinks of the consequence of a train derailment and spill in the community in a much different way than the CEO of the rail company or the owner of the shipment. The cold hard reality is that no matter how small the statistical likelihood that derailments will happen, the consequences when derailments happen are significant. As events increase in frequency and it seems severity, it is clearly time to rethink our evaluation of risk in rail transport.

While the probability that a train-load of inappropriately classified oil products would careen down a hill in rural Quebec and explode, killing 47 people and contaminating a fragile lake ecosystem was so infinitesimally small as to be almost incalculable, the consequences were devastating and will be felt for generations. The policies that drive rail system regulation (or any system for that matter) are driven by the likelihood of a failure not the consequences. In part this is because it is difficult to foresee every event and frame a regulation to prevent it, but also because the risk analysis techniques to quantify consequence in a useful way, to date, have not existed.

Risk analysis techniques have improved markedly in recent years, to the point that networked risk analysis tools can fathom the pathways of exposure to risk in models containing thousands of entities. Given the complexity and importance of the energy transport question in Canada and the severe and sometimes tragic consequences of failure, it seems time to revisit the question of energy transport risk with modern tools so that no matter which side of the energy debate we stand on, we have a safer, cleaner Canada to live in and to pass on to our children.

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington's Blog

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington’s Blog.

What You DON’T KNOW About CIA Fight with Congress

You’ve heard that there’s a big battle between the CIA and Congress over the CIA spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s review of documents related to the Bush-era torture program.

Many are calling it a “constitutional crisis“. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa calls it potential “treason“.

The congress members complaining about spying by the CIA are right, of course.

But they are hypocrites. Specifically, these same congress members  didn’t raise a peep when the government was spying on the people … and instead defended the government’s mass surveillance at every opportunity.

There are hundreds of thousands of Google hits for the search term “Hypocrisy CIA Senate Feinstein“.

High-level NSA whistleblower Bill BinneyEdward Snowden, a very high-level former CIA officer, aformer FBI agent and many others are all slamming Congress for the hypocrisy

Even Jon Stewart has lambasted them:

(And this isn’t the first time that Congress has been hypocritical when the spying was turned against them personally.)

A corrupt CIA is certainly part of the problem.   After all, the same guy who was the lawyer for the CIA torture unit – and who was mentioned 1,600 times in the Senate intelligence report on torture – is now the chief counsel for the CIA … the guy working so hard to make sure the torture report is never released. (He was also involved in the destruction of tapes documenting CIA torture … discussed more fully below).

And don’t let Obama fool you: The White House is a big part of the problem as well.

Obama has for years prevented the Senate Intelligence report on torture – what the CIA’s spying is all about – from being declassified.

Glenn Greenwald tweets:

Could someone remind me who appointed [CIA director] John Brennan and to whom he reports? Having trouble finding it in most discussions ….

Obama appointed current CIA-director John Brennan, who – before the appointment – had expressly endorsed torture, assassination of unidentified strangers (including Americans) without due process, and spying on all Americans, and got caught in numerous lies related to national security and defense.   (Indeed, Brennan insisted that he be sworn in with a copy of the Constitution which didn’t include the Bill of Rights.)

The White House has also withheld 9,400 documents from the Senate’s CIA torture investigation. McClatchy reports:

The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

And Senator Mark Udall said that Obama knew about the CIA’s spying on Congress.

Not Just the CIA … And Not a New Problem

But it’s not just the CIA.   And there has been a constitutional crisis for a long time.

For example, the FBI collected files on everyone.  As the New York Times reports:

J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.

The NSA has been spying on – and intimidating – its “overseers” in Washington.  Indeed, the NSA spied on anti-war Congress members in the 1970s … including the chair of the Congressional Committee investigating illegal NSA spying.

One of the NSA  whistleblower sources for the big 2005 New York Times exposé on illegal spying – Russel Tice – says that the NSA illegally spied on General Petraeus and other generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and all of the other supreme court justices, the White House spokesman, and many other top officials.

The Washington Times reported in 2006 that – when Tice offered to testify to Congress about this illegal spying – he was informed by the NSA that the Senate and House intelligence committees were not cleared to hear such information:

Renee Seymour, director of NSA special access programs stated in a Jan. 9 letter to Russ Tice that he should not testify about secret electronic intelligence programs because members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees do not have the proper security clearances for the secret intelligence.

(And see this.)

Former high-level NSA executive Bill Binney points out how absurd that statement is:

Russ Tice … was prepared to testify to Congress to this, too, and so NSA sent him a letter saying, we agree that you have a right to go to Congress to testify, but we have to advise you that the intelligence committees that you want to testify to are not cleared for the programs you want to speak about. Now, that fundamentally is an open admission … by NSA that they are violating the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978, which require NSA and all other intelligence agencies to notify Congress of all the programs that they’re running so they can have effective oversight, which they’ve never had anyway.

Binney confirmed to Washington’s Blog:

The violations of law and the constitution are being openly admitted by both Congress and the NSA.

The Other Story Getting Lost In the Shuffle

And there’s another story getting lost in the shuffle …

Sure, the top independent interrogation experts say that torture is ineffective … and actually harmsnational security. You’ve probably already heard arguments one way or the other on this issue, and likely have made up your mind about it.

But remember, the torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects was of a “special” type.

Specifically, Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating false confessions. And see these important reports from McClatchyNew York TimesCNN and Huffington Post.

In other words, we’re not just talking about torture.  We’re talking about deploying a special type of torture in order to get FALSE confessions.

In addition, the Atlantic notes:

America is likely to torture again, if we aren’t doing it already.

(And see this and this.)

A related part of this underreported story is that the CIA’s torture program ended up deceiving the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accountsof what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. The 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand. The Commission itself didn’t really trust the interrogation testimony… yet published it as if it were Gospel.

New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees.

NBC News reported:

  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
  • One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

And the CIA videotaped the interrogation of 9/11 suspects, but falsely told the 9/11 Commission that there were no videotapes or other records of the interrogations, and then illegally destroyed all of the tapes and transcripts of the interrogations. (As discussed above, the current head CIA lawyer helped to destroy the tapes.)

9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton wrote:

Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

***

Government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.

In other words,  we’ve got a rogue government.  That’s the big story behind the CIA-congressional battle.

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington’s Blog

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington’s Blog.

What You DON’T KNOW About CIA Fight with Congress

You’ve heard that there’s a big battle between the CIA and Congress over the CIA spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s review of documents related to the Bush-era torture program.

Many are calling it a “constitutional crisis“. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa calls it potential “treason“.

The congress members complaining about spying by the CIA are right, of course.

But they are hypocrites. Specifically, these same congress members  didn’t raise a peep when the government was spying on the people … and instead defended the government’s mass surveillance at every opportunity.

There are hundreds of thousands of Google hits for the search term “Hypocrisy CIA Senate Feinstein“.

High-level NSA whistleblower Bill BinneyEdward Snowden, a very high-level former CIA officer, aformer FBI agent and many others are all slamming Congress for the hypocrisy

Even Jon Stewart has lambasted them:

(And this isn’t the first time that Congress has been hypocritical when the spying was turned against them personally.)

A corrupt CIA is certainly part of the problem.   After all, the same guy who was the lawyer for the CIA torture unit – and who was mentioned 1,600 times in the Senate intelligence report on torture – is now the chief counsel for the CIA … the guy working so hard to make sure the torture report is never released. (He was also involved in the destruction of tapes documenting CIA torture … discussed more fully below).

And don’t let Obama fool you: The White House is a big part of the problem as well.

Obama has for years prevented the Senate Intelligence report on torture – what the CIA’s spying is all about – from being declassified.

Glenn Greenwald tweets:

Could someone remind me who appointed [CIA director] John Brennan and to whom he reports? Having trouble finding it in most discussions ….

Obama appointed current CIA-director John Brennan, who – before the appointment – had expressly endorsed torture, assassination of unidentified strangers (including Americans) without due process, and spying on all Americans, and got caught in numerous lies related to national security and defense.   (Indeed, Brennan insisted that he be sworn in with a copy of the Constitution which didn’t include the Bill of Rights.)

The White House has also withheld 9,400 documents from the Senate’s CIA torture investigation. McClatchy reports:

The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

And Senator Mark Udall said that Obama knew about the CIA’s spying on Congress.

Not Just the CIA … And Not a New Problem

But it’s not just the CIA.   And there has been a constitutional crisis for a long time.

For example, the FBI collected files on everyone.  As the New York Times reports:

J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.

The NSA has been spying on – and intimidating – its “overseers” in Washington.  Indeed, the NSA spied on anti-war Congress members in the 1970s … including the chair of the Congressional Committee investigating illegal NSA spying.

One of the NSA  whistleblower sources for the big 2005 New York Times exposé on illegal spying – Russel Tice – says that the NSA illegally spied on General Petraeus and other generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and all of the other supreme court justices, the White House spokesman, and many other top officials.

The Washington Times reported in 2006 that – when Tice offered to testify to Congress about this illegal spying – he was informed by the NSA that the Senate and House intelligence committees were not cleared to hear such information:

Renee Seymour, director of NSA special access programs stated in a Jan. 9 letter to Russ Tice that he should not testify about secret electronic intelligence programs because members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees do not have the proper security clearances for the secret intelligence.

(And see this.)

Former high-level NSA executive Bill Binney points out how absurd that statement is:

Russ Tice … was prepared to testify to Congress to this, too, and so NSA sent him a letter saying, we agree that you have a right to go to Congress to testify, but we have to advise you that the intelligence committees that you want to testify to are not cleared for the programs you want to speak about. Now, that fundamentally is an open admission … by NSA that they are violating the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978, which require NSA and all other intelligence agencies to notify Congress of all the programs that they’re running so they can have effective oversight, which they’ve never had anyway.

Binney confirmed to Washington’s Blog:

The violations of law and the constitution are being openly admitted by both Congress and the NSA.

The Other Story Getting Lost In the Shuffle

And there’s another story getting lost in the shuffle …

Sure, the top independent interrogation experts say that torture is ineffective … and actually harmsnational security. You’ve probably already heard arguments one way or the other on this issue, and likely have made up your mind about it.

But remember, the torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects was of a “special” type.

Specifically, Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating false confessions. And see these important reports from McClatchyNew York TimesCNN and Huffington Post.

In other words, we’re not just talking about torture.  We’re talking about deploying a special type of torture in order to get FALSE confessions.

In addition, the Atlantic notes:

America is likely to torture again, if we aren’t doing it already.

(And see this and this.)

A related part of this underreported story is that the CIA’s torture program ended up deceiving the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accountsof what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. The 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand. The Commission itself didn’t really trust the interrogation testimony… yet published it as if it were Gospel.

New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees.

NBC News reported:

  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
  • One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

And the CIA videotaped the interrogation of 9/11 suspects, but falsely told the 9/11 Commission that there were no videotapes or other records of the interrogations, and then illegally destroyed all of the tapes and transcripts of the interrogations. (As discussed above, the current head CIA lawyer helped to destroy the tapes.)

9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton wrote:

Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

***

Government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.

In other words,  we’ve got a rogue government.  That’s the big story behind the CIA-congressional battle.

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