Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gas prices: A cousin in Canada replies....

Handy having a cousin living in Canada. Great info source. He emails:

You were asking about gas prices. Ours are high and getting higher. Our gas is sold by the litre here in Canada. It used to be sold by the Imperial gallon, and at that time it was priced at .49 cents per gallon. I was in the petrolium business for 17 years, ( hauling bulk fuels) .

Then our damned government at that time introduced the metric sytem here, and every thing went metric. Now all our petrolium products are sold only in Litres.

Our average price of regular gas today in town here is $ 1.089 per litre. Add 5.5 cents for the higher Octane depending on what youre car or truck uses. My car uses the standard octane 87, and it holds 70 litres, so if it's near emty, I'm looking at a 75.00 dollar bill to fill.

Anyway, if you're looking at Imperial gallons at this price, it's $ 1.089 X 4.546 litres = $ 4.95 per gallon. If you're talking U S gallons at the same price it's $ 1.089 X3.785 litres = $ 4.12 per gal.

Wrap....OUCH!!!

Congress better REALLY protect the press...or...

From the NY Times:

In Leak Cases, New Pressure on Journalists

By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: April 30, 2006

Earlier administrations have fired and prosecuted government officials who provided classified information to the press. They have also tried to force reporters to identify their sources.

[Related:
The Nation: There Are Leaks. And Then There Are Leaks. (April 30, 2006) ]

But the Bush administration is exploring a more radical measure to protect information it says is vital to national security: the criminal prosecution of reporters under the espionage laws.
Such an approach would signal a thorough revision of the informal rules of engagement that have governed the relationship between the press and the government for many decades. Leaking in Washington is commonplace and typically entails tolerable risks for government officials and, at worst, the possibility of subpoenas to journalists seeking the identities of sources.
But the Bush administration is putting pressure on the press as never before, and it is operating in a judicial climate that seems increasingly receptive to constraints on journalists.

In the last year alone, a reporter for The New York Times was jailed for refusing to testify about a confidential source; her source, a White House aide, was prosecuted on charges that he lied about his contacts with reporters; a C.I.A. analyst was dismissed for unauthorized contacts with reporters; and a raft of subpoenas to reporters were largely upheld by the courts.

It is not easy to gauge whether the administration will move beyond these efforts to criminal prosecutions of reporters. In public statements and court papers, administration officials have said the law allows such prosecutions and that they will use their prosecutorial discretion in this area judiciously. But there is no indication that a decision to begin such a prosecution has been made. A Justice Department spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Friday.

Because such prosecutions of reporters are unknown, they are widely thought inconceivable. But legal experts say that existing laws may well allow holding the press to account criminally. Should the administration pursue the matter, these experts say, it could gain a tool that would thoroughly alter the balance of power between the government and the press.

The administration and its allies say that all avenues must be explored to ensure that vital national security information does not fall into the hands of the nation's enemies.

In February, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales whether the government's investigation into The Times's disclosure of a National Security Agency eavesdropping program included "any potential violation for publishing that information."

Mr. Gonzales responded: "Obviously, our prosecutors are going to look to see all the laws that have been violated. And if the evidence is there, they're going to prosecute those violations."
Recent articles in conservative opinion magazines have been even more forceful.

"The press can and should be held to account for publishing military secrets in wartime," Gabriel Schoenfeld wrote in Commentary magazine last month.

Surprising Move by F.B.I.

One example of the administration's new approach is the F.B.I.'s recent effort to reclaim classified documents in the files of the late columnist Jack Anderson, a move that legal experts say was surprising if not unheard of.

"Under the law," Bill Carter, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said earlier this month, "no private person may possess classified documents that were illegally provided to them."

Critics of the administration position say that altering the conventional understanding between the press and government could have dire consequences.

"Once you make the press the defendant rather than the leaker," said David Rudenstine, the dean of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York and a First Amendment scholar, "you really shut down the flow of information because the government will always know who the defendant is."

The administration's position draws support from an unlikely source — the 1971 Supreme Court decision that refused to block publication by The Times and The Washington Post of the classified history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. The case is generally considered a triumph for the press. But two of the justices in the 6-to-3 majority indicated that there was a basis for after-the-fact prosecution of the newspapers that published the papers under the espionage laws.

Reading of Espionage Laws

Both critics and allies of the administration say that the espionage laws on their face may well be read to forbid possession and publication of classified information by the press. Two provisions are at the heart of the recent debates.

The first, enacted in 1917, is, according to a 2002 report by Susan Buckley, a lawyer who often represents news organizations, "at first blush, pretty much one of the scariest statutes around."
It prohibits anyone with unauthorized access to documents or information concerning the national defense from telling others. The wording of the law is loose, but it seems to contain a further requirement for spoken information. Repeating such information is only a crime, it seems, if the person doing it "has reason to believe" it could be used "to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." That condition does not seem to apply to information from documents.

In the Pentagon Papers case, Justice Byron R. White, joined by Justice Potter Stewart, said "it seems undeniable that a newspaper" can be "vulnerable to prosecution" under the 1917 law.
Indeed, the Nixon administration considered prosecuting The Times even after the government lost the Pentagon Papers case, according to a 1975 memoir by Whitney North Seymour Jr., who was the United States attorney in Manhattan in the early 1970's. Mr. Seymour wrote that Richard G. Kleindienst, a deputy attorney general, suggested convening a grand jury in New York to that end. Mr. Seymour said he refused.

Some experts believe he would not have won. The most authoritative analysis of the 1917 law, by Harold Edgar and Benno C. Schmidt Jr. in the Columbia Law Review in 1973, concluded, based largely on the law's legislative history, that it was not meant to apply to newspapers.
A second law is less ambiguous. Enacted in 1950, it prohibits publication of government codes and other "communications intelligence activities." Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who took part in terrorism investigations in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks, said that both The Times, for its disclosures about the eavesdropping program, and The Post, for an article about secret C.I.A. prisons, had violated the 1917 law. The Times, he added, has also violated the 1950 law.

"It was irresponsible to publish these things," Mr. McCarthy said. "I wouldn't hesitate to prosecute."

The reporters who wrote the two articles recently won Pulitzer Prizes.

Even legal scholars who are sympathetic to the newspapers say the legal questions are not straightforward.

"They are making threats that they may be able to carry out technically, legally," Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago and the author of "Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime," said of the administration. The law, Professor Stone added, "has always been understood to be about spying, not about newspapers, but read literally it could be applied to both."

Others say the law is unconstitutional as applied to the press under the First Amendment.

"I don't think that anyone believes that statute is constitutional," said James C. Goodale, who was the general counsel of The New York Times Company during the Pentagon Papers litigation. "Literally read, the statute must be violated countless times every year."

Rodney A. Smolla, the dean of the University of Richmond law school, took a middle ground. He said the existing laws were ambiguous but that in theory it could be constitutional to make receiving classified information a crime. However, he continued, the First Amendment may protect newspapers exposing wrongdoing by the government.

The two newspapers contend that their reporting did bring to light important information about potential government misconduct. Representatives of the papers said they had not been contacted by government investigators in connection with the two articles.

That is baffling, Mr. McCarthy said. At a minimum, he said, the reporters involved should be threatened with prosecution in an effort to learn their sources.

"If you think this is a serious offense and you really think national security has been damaged, and I do," he said, "you don't wait five or six months to ask the person who obviously knows the answer."

Case Against 2 Lobbyists

Curiously, perhaps the most threatening pending case for journalist is one brought against two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac. The lobbyists, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted in August on charges of violating the 1917 law by receiving and repeating national defense information to foreign officials and reporters.
The lobbyists say the case against them is functionally identical to potential cases against reporters.

"You can't say, 'Well, this is constitutional as applied to lobbyists, but it wouldn't be constitutional if applied to journalists,' " Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Rosen, said at a hearing in the case last month, according to a court transcript.

In court papers filed in January, prosecutors disagreed, saying lobbyist and journalist were different. But they would not rule out the possibility of also charging journalists under the law.
"Prosecution under the espionage laws of an actual member of the press for publishing classified information leaked to it by a government source would raise legitimate and serious issues and would not be undertaken lightly," the papers said. Indeed, they continued, "the fact that there has never been such a prosecution speaks for itself."

Some First Amendment lawyers suspect that the case against the lobbyists is but a first step.

"From the point of view of the administration expanding its powers, the Aipac case is the perfect case," said Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center, a nonprofit educational group in Virginia. "It allows them to try to establish the precedent without going after the press."

Wrap...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Net Neutrality...

From Tom Paine:

Democracy 2.0
Timothy Karr
April 28, 2006

Timothy Karr is campaign director for Free Press , which is coordinating the SavetheInternet.com coalition.

As of this morning , more than 1,500 blogs have taken up a new cause, posting links to SavetheInternet.com and urging their readers to call on members of Congress to stand firm in defense of Internet freedom.

And, for the first time in blogger history, the Hill is hearing it.

The cyberstorm is over “Net Neutrality,” the principle that prevents large telephone and cable companies from controlling what we do, where we go and what we watch online. As part of a vote on new telecommunications legislation on Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee members defeated an amendment by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., that would have protected net neutrality by a count of 34-22.

What's remarkable about this result is the shift that occurred on Capitol Hill in the week prior to the vote. An unlikely coalition of political activists from the right and left, consumer groups, bloggers and Internet gurus banded together at SavetheInternet.com and sent more than 250,000 letters to Congress. This sparked an Internet revolt among bloggers who heaped scorn upon any member of the House who dared side with companies like AT&T and Verizon, which are spending millions of dollars in Washington to dismantle the rules that would stop their plans to control Internet content.

When it came time to vote on Markey's amendment, two Democrats on the committee switched their previous votes to favor net neutrality and several others, who had been undecided, also voted for the amendment, citing the explosion of public interest in the issue.

More elected officials on both sides of the aisle, in both the House and the Senate are now monitoring the pulse of the blogosphere as this issue spreads offline.

"We would not have turned the corner in this fight without your blogs, your voices," Congressman Markey said yesterday during a teleconference with bloggers. "We need to put every member of Congress on record on where they stand on the future of the Internet," Markey said. That momentum has shifted in Congress, he continued, "is a reflection of the rumbling in cyberspace about what's going on with this bill."

Bloggers from left, right and center, including DailyKos, BuzzMachine, Atrios, Instapundit and even actress Alyssa Milano, called on their readers to pay very close attention to this issue. They’ve urged everybody to go after any elected representative who ignores the public interest in favor of the well-heeled telephone and cable lobbyists that have swarmed Capitol Hill as representatives attempt to rewrite telecommunications law.

Undaunted by the committee defeat, Markey is now rallying colleagues on the left and the right to support the introduction of his Network Neutrality Amendment onto the full floor of the House next week.

But it's an uphill battle. For the amendment to be voted upon by all members, it has to first get past the House's gatekeepers on the Rules Committee, which Rolling Stone ’s Matt Taibbi calls , "the free world's outstanding bureaucratic abomination—a tiny, airless closet deep in the labyrinth of the Capitol where some of the very meanest people on earth spend their days cleaning democracy like a fish."

This 13-member committee (nine Republicans and four Democrats) holds the congressional agenda in its grip. If Rules votes down your amendment, your amendment is DOA. Bloggers are banding together to ensure that no member of Congress gets off the hook that easily.
"There's a white hot firestorm on the issue on Capitol Hill," Matt Stoller said in a post at MyDD . "No one wants to see the telcos make a radical change to the Internet and screw this medium up, except, well, the telcos."

Politicians get scared when they realize the public is paying attention. As the blogosphere catches fire, momentum is shifting in Washington. Whereas before the big telephone companies and their coin-operated lobbyists were confident that Congress would simply roll over and do their bidding, today no member of Congress can vote with the telecom cartel without expecting repercussions.

The public is now watching and, with increasing frequency and volume, the message is getting through to Congress: we will not stand for any law that threatens Internet freedom.

Wrap...

CIA tries to gag it's own people....

From Secrecy News :

DISFAVORED CIA REPORTS PLACED ONLINE

U.S. News and World Report reported last January that at least three publications of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, all critical of the agency, had been withheld from the CIA web site ("ATangled Web Woven," by David E. Kaplan, U.S. News, January 30, 2006).

Now two of those disfavored publications are available on the Federation of American Scientists web site. The third will follow."Intelligence for a New Era in American Foreign Policy" is the report of a conference convened by the Center for the Study of Intelligence, published in January 2004 (1.3 MB PDF): http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/newera.pdf"

Analytic Culture in the U.S. Intelligence Community: An Ethnographic Study" is an interesting and unusual effort to assess intelligence analysis from an anthropological viewpoint, published in 2005. See(184 pages, 8 MB): http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/analytic.pdf

It is a small irony of the Information Age that by attempting to selectively withhold these publications from the web, the CIA has practically guaranteed that more people will read them than would have otherwise done so. But CIA seems to have little understanding of that fact, and the Agency's efforts to suppress criticism are as relentless as they are self-defeating."

The CIA has imposed new and tighter restrictions on the books, articles, and opinion pieces published by former employees who are still contractors with the intelligence agency," writes Shane Harris. See "Silencing the Squeaky Wheel" by Shane Harris, National Journal, April 27: http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/0427nj1.htm

See also "Excessive Secrecy Hurting CIA Studies" by Shaun Waterman, UPI,April 27: http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi/20060420-121533-2221r.htm

Wrap...

Morford on BushCo hypocrisy....

From sfgate.com :

Let Us Now Spit Upon The Earth You can do it the old way, or you can do it like Bush -- with smirks, mountain bikes and oil
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, April 28, 2006

Look, see those tire marks? That ungainly footprint? Feel that breath of humid doom upon your skin? Yes, the president was just here. Up in Napa Valley, riding his official Trek Mountain Bike One over the rocks and down the trails and through the cool California mud, a small army of handlers and Secret Service agents and emergency medical personnel by his side and/or rumbling along behind him in big black SUVs. It was very cute, in a fingernail-yanked-with-pliers sort of way.

It was Earth Day weekend. The president talked about how mountain biking helped him "settle his soul" and "burn off excess energy when you're living life to its fullest," which apparently means blindly running your nation into a bloody flaming wall at full speed like a drunk NASCAR driver on Ambien. He talked about how he enjoyed mountain biking because it had such minimal impact on the pristine, wild surroundings. Shockingly, lightning did not strike him dead on the spot.

Later on, the prez talked up the need for wildly implausible hydrogen-powered cars to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a group who, if they had a drop of integrity and brains among them, didn't believe a single word he said.

Bush on Earth Day. It's like Satan talking up the joys of Easter. It's like Paris Hilton chatting about treading the planet with humility and grace. It's like Jerry Falwell gushing about his love of Brokeback Mountain, Eli Lilly extolling the virtues of meditation and green tea. It is, in a word, embarrassing. Humiliating. Intellectually bludgeoning. And hypocritical in a way, and at a depth, that is as nauseating to stomach as the testosterone levels at a Duke lacrosse frat party.
This much we know: Bush is, it has been widely noted, the worst environmental president in modern America history. He has done more to eliminate protections and pollute the air, sell off national forests, whore the waterways, drill for oil and eviscerate pollution regulation than any president on the books. His environmental record is abysmal, shameful, and includes installing two of the worst secretaries of the interior in history, the abominable Gale Norton and now her male counterpart Dirk Kempthorne, who have turned around and reduced protections and sold off more forestland to private concerns -- oil, timber, coal, you name it -- since the Harding administration.

And of course, we are the only "enlightened" nation in the world to publicly spit upon the Kyoto Treaty, a landmark global pact to reduce CO2 emissions that is still only considered the first baby step in tackling the very, very dire problem of global warming.

Bush is, after all, a failed oilman. He has done all he can to ensure we will be dependent on the black death for the next two decades, minimum, which is, not surprisingly, the average remaining life span of his favoritest CEO cronies in the oil business. Serve the masters first, the Saudi sheiks second, the American people about, oh, 157th. It is the BushCo way.

No matter. Up in Napa, the president talked about connecting with nature, about getting his heart rate up by getting out there and challenging himself against the rugged terrain. Nature, of course, was unimpressed, sort of neutral on the whole thing, Bush just another animal scratching tracks on her incredibly resilient skin. Nature has a Zen-like quality about such things -- or perhaps more like Vishnu-Brahma-Shiva, creator and preserver and destroyer, watching it all, shrugging, sighing, taking the long view. If nature could talk, she would tell Bush he will be worm food very soon, and by the way, the worms are furious. She would then go back to watching the baby giraffes play in Africa.

There is no beauty in American political policy toward the Earth. There is no poetry or grace or true heart in how politicians -- especially Republican politicians -- view our natural commodities, no respect unless it is based on fear, unless it is begrudging and resentful, like when a hurricane makes a mockery of the president's feeble and unconvincing attempts to prove he cares. Has it always been this way? Maybe. But some leaders are far, far worse than others.

This is perhaps the most frightening thing about the Bush visit, about him having the nerve, the sheer vulgar gall to discuss the quality of his soul while biking through a natural habitat his administration so violently works to defile. It is this: He actually meant it. Bush was probably genuinely heartfelt about enjoying his ride through our troubled trees. He thinks he is attuned and connected. He thinks nature is nifty and calming. And, simply put, there is no more dangerous a leader on the face of the earth who, in every policy and every law and every action, abuses and distorts and molests the world around him, and yet who can turn on an ideological dime and calmly glorify that very thing which he helps destroy.

Recall former Spokane Mayor Jim West, big scandal just recently, an outspoken and homophobic ├╝ber-Republican on the outside, a guy who helped pass anti-gay legislation in Washington state and railed against gay rights in public, but who happily turned around and for over 20 years solicited 18-year-old boys in gay chat rooms at night and offered them free candy, T-shirts, sex, jobs. Bush is just like that. Abuse your issue openly during the day, screw it at night. And worst of all, give not a single thought to the brutal dichotomy.

Are there levels to hypocrisy? Degrees? Rings of hypocritical hell? It would appear so. After all, there are the common varieties of minor hypocrisies most of us live with every day, like claiming a deep concern for the planet but still using plastic bags and shopping at Target and enjoying a long summer drive. Like swooning over super-cute animals but never considering giving up our cool leather jackets and smokin' snakeskin boots. Like loathing obnoxious cell phone users but never thinking we might actually, you know, be one.

Hypocrisy is, verily, the American national pastime. It is part of our national character. But there is a point where hypocrisy takes a turn toward the abusive, toward the spiritually debilitating. It becomes less like livable hypocrisy and more like a mental condition, a barely functional psychosis.

And right now, we are, it seems, living smack in the middle of a decade of just such madness, led by a bumbling and confused, tepid little devil himself, happily biking through the trees as the forest groans.

Wrap...

Bush makes new deal with Dubai...

From Raw Story.org :

Bush okays Dubai military deal
RAW STORY
Published: Thursday April 27, 2006
Print This Email This

President Bush is expected on Friday to announce his approval of a deal under which a Dubai-owned company would take control of nine plants in the United States that manufacture parts for American military vehicles and aircraft, say two administration officials familiar with the terms of the deal, the NEW YORK TIMES will report Friday. Excerpts:
#
The officials, who were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about something the president had not yet announced, said that the final details had not yet been set and that Bush might put conditions on the transaction to keep military technology in the United States.

But his action is almost certain to attract scrutiny in Congress, because of the political furor that erupted over the administration’s approval of a deal earlier this spring that would have given another Dubai-owned company, Dubai Ports World, leases to operate several American port terminals through its acquisition of a British company, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

In this case, the plants in question are owned by Doncasters Group Ltd., a British company that is being purchased for $1.2 billion from the Royal Bank of Scotland Group by Dubai International Capital, which is owned by the United Arab Emirate government.

FULL RESTRICTED VERSION HERE

Wrap...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Illegal Immigration..the cause? NAFTA = Corporate Greed...

From truthout.org :

Immigration Flood Unleashed by NAFTA
By Roger Bybee and Carolyn Winter
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Thursday 27 April 2006

The recent ferment on immigration policy has been so narrow that it has excluded the real issue: family-sustaining wages for workers both north and south of the border. The role of the North American Free Trade Agreement and misnamed "free trade" has been scarcely mentioned in the increasingly bitter debate over the fate of America's 11 to 12 million illegal aliens.

NAFTA was sold to the American public as the magic formula that would improve the American economy at the same time as it would raise up the impoverished Mexican economy. The time has come to look at the failures of this type of trade agreement before we engage in more, and further lower the economic prospects of all workers affected. While there has been some media coverage of NAFTA's ruinous impact on US industrial communities, there has been even less media attention paid to its catastrophic effects in Mexico:

NAFTA, by permitting heavily-subsidized US corn and other agri-business products to compete with small Mexican farmers, has driven Mexican farmers off the land due to low-priced imports of US corn and other agricultural products. Some 2 million Mexicans have been forced out of agriculture, and many of those that remain are living in desperate poverty. These people are among those that cross the border to feed their families. (Meanwhile, corn-based tortilla prices climbed by 50%. No wonder so many Mexican peasants have called NAFTA their "death warrant.")

NAFTA's service-sector rules allowed big firms like Wal-Mart to enter the Mexican market and, selling low-priced goods made by ultra-cheap labor in China, to displace locally-based shoe, toy, and candy firms. An estimated 28,000 small and medium-sized Mexican businesses have been eliminated.

Wages along the Mexican border have actually been driven down by about 25% since NAFTA, reported a Carnegie Endowment study. An over-supply of workers, combined with the government-sponsored crushing of union organization, has resulted in sweatshop pay along the border where wages now typically run 60 cents to $1 an hour.

So rather than improving living standards, Mexican wages have actually fallen since NAFTA. The initial growth in the number of jobs has leveled off, with China's even more repressive labor system luring US firms to locate there instead.

But Mexicans must still contend with the results of the American-owned "maquiladora" sweatshops: subsistence-level wages, pollution, congestion, horrible living conditions (cardboard shacks and open sewers), and a lack of resources (for streetlights and police) to deal with a wave of violence against vulnerable young women working in the factories. The survival (or less)-level wages coupled with harsh working conditions have not been the great answer to Mexican poverty, while they have temporarily been the answer to Corporate America's demand for low wages.

With US firms unwilling to pay even minimal taxes, NAFTA has hardly produced the promised uplift in the lives of Mexicans. Ciudad Juarez Mayor Gustavo Elizondo, whose city is crammed with US-owned low-wage plants, expressed it plainly: "We have no way to provide water, sewage, and sanitation workers. Every year, we get poorer and poorer even though we create more and more wealth."

Falling industrial wages, peasants forced off the land, small businesses liquidated, growing poverty: these are direct consequences of NAFTA. This harsh suffering explains why so many desperate Mexicans lured to the border area in the false hope that they could find dignity in the US-owned maquiladoras - are willing to risk their lives to cross the border to provide for their families. There were 2.5 million Mexican illegals in 1995; 8 million have crossed the border since then. In 2005, some 400 desperate Mexicans died trying to enter the US.

NAFTA failed to curb illegal immigration precisely because it was never designed as a genuine development program crafted to promote rising living standards, health care, environmental cleanup, and worker rights in Mexico. The wholesale surge of Mexicans across the border dramatically illustrates that NAFTA was no attempt at a broad uplift of living conditions and democracy in Mexico, but a formula for government-sanctioned corporate plunder benefiting elites on both sides of the border.

NAFTA essentially annexed Mexico as a low-wage industrial suburb of the US and opened Mexican markets to heavily-subsidized US agribusiness products, blowing away local producers. Capital could flow freely across the border freely to low-wage factories and Wal-mart-type retailers, but the same standard of free access would be denied to Mexican workers.

Meanwhile, with the planned Central American Free Trade Agreement with five Central American nations coming up, we can anticipate even greater pressure on our borders as agricultural workers are pushed off the land without positive, alternative employment opportunities. People from Guatemala and Honduras will soon learn that they can't compete for industrial jobs with the most oppressed people in say, China, by agreeing to lowering their wages even more. Further, impoverished Central American countries don't have the resources to deal with the pollution and crime that results from moving people from rural areas to the city, often without their families.

Thus far, we have been presented with a narrow range of options to cope with the tide of illegal immigrants living fearfully in the shadows of American life. Should they simply be walled off and criminalized, as Sensenbrenner and House Republicans suggest? The Sensenbrenner option seeks to exploit the sentiment that illegal immigrants entering the US rather than US corporation exiting the US for Mexico and China are the primary cause of falling wages for most Americans.

The Bush version is only slightly different, envisioning the illegal immigrants as part of a vast disposable pool of cheap labor with no meaningful rights on the job or even the right to vote, to be returned to Mexico upon the whim of their employers.

Yet there is another well-known path of economic and social integration that has been ignored in the debates over immigration in the US: the one followed by the European Union and their social charter calling for decent wages, health care, and extensive retraining in all nations. Before then-impoverished nations like Spain, Greece and Portugal were admitted, they received massive EU investments in roads, health care, clean water, and education. The implementation of democracy, including worker rights, was an equally vital pre-condition for entry into the EU.

The underlying concept: the entire reason for trade is to provide improved lives across borders, not to exploit the cheapest labor and weakest environmental rules. We need to question the widely-held assumption that what benefits American corporations benefits Mexican workers and American workers. An authentic plan for growth and development isn't about further enriching Wall Street, major corporations, and a handful of Mexican billionaires; it is about the creation of family-supporting jobs. It is also about a healthy environment, healthy workers, good education, and ordinary people being able to achieve their dreams.

The massive tide of illegal immigration from Mexico is merely one symptom of an economic arrangement where human needs, not maximum profits - are not the ultimate goal but a subject of neglect. Neither a massive, shameful barrier at the border nor a disposable guest-worker program will address the problems ignited by NAFTA.

Programs providing stable, decent employment, modern transportation, clean water, and environmental cleanup are needed to take the place of the immense NAFTA failure and allow Mexicans to live decent, hopeful lives in their native land. But such an effort is imaginable only if the aim is truly mutual uplift for all citizens in both nations, instead of the NAFTA-fueled race to the bottom.

Wrap...

BushCo screws the vets...

From TomDispatch :

Tomgram:
Judith Coburn, Caring for Veterans on the Cheap

Can anyone be surprised any longer when FEMA reneges on its promise of a year's free housing to Hurricane Katrina evacuees? Or that, in once can-do America, the devastated southeastern coast from which those residents fled in such confusion remains almost singularly unreconstructed as the next hurricane season approaches? Or that the only ones likely to receive relief at the gas pump this summer are the oil companies? Or that the Bush administration is incapable of running a new Medicare drug program as anything other than an experience in chaos? Or that so many functions that once mad! e civil government seem in any way civil are simply disappearing and others are being rebuilt on a military model?

Typically, a Senate report on dismantling FEMA suggests replacing it with "a new National Preparedness and Response Authority whose head would... serve as the president's top adviser for national emergency management, akin to the military role served by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It would reunify disaster preparedness and response activities that [Department of Homeland Security head Michael] Chertoff decoupled, and restore grant-making authority taken away by Congress in redefining a stronger national preparedness system with regional coordinators, a larger role for the National Guard and the Defense Department and more money for training, planning and exercises."

None of this should surprise anyone all these years into the Bush presidency. But if you really want a benchmark of where we're heading, consider the Veterans Administration as the gasping canary in the American mineshaft of civility. And think of the matter this way: While President Dwight Eisenhower warned of a "military-industrial complex" in his 1961 farewell address to the American people ("In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex..."), we have never had a president who was so determined to turn more of what once passed for civil government over to the Pentagon, an organization seemingly intent on proving in Iraq and elsewhere that reconstruction and civil governance are nowhere in its bag of tricks.

Yet from avian-flu defense to catastrophe relief, from civil reconstruction to global diplomacy and domestic intelligence-gathering, the Pentagon, whose budget dwarfs all else, is the preeminent institution in this country today, shouldering ever more of the burden ever more poorly.

So when what is most "civil" in the military starts to falter as well, all of us should take note. In this case, as Judith Coburn reports below, the health-care and disability system for American veterans -- the very men and women this administration so cavalierly sent off to its war of choice in Iraq -- is in a state of increasing disarray and faces a wounded administration that secretly likes to think of the medical care of veterans as another form of welfare to be slashed.

Tom

Coming Home from War on the Cheap
Shortchanging the Wounded
By Judith Coburn

On the eve of his Marine unit's assault on Falluja in November, 2004, Blake Miller read to his men from the Bible (John 14:2-3): "In my father's house, there are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I leave this place and go there to prepare a place for you, so that where I may be, you may be also."

A photograph of Miller's blood smeared, filthy face, so reminiscent of David Douglas Duncan's photos of war weary Marines in Vietnam, is one of the Iraq War's iconic images. Over a hundred newspapers ran it. But as the San Francisco Chronicle reported recently, Miller, a decorated war hero, has been shattered psychologically by Iraq. Disabled by flashbacks and nightmares, he continues to pay daily and dearly for his service there.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Don't ask...Navy Commander writes Rep Davis...

[Note: I commend Commander Coye (ret) for speaking out on the outrageous treatment of some of our honorable and courageous military. The wasteful, hurtful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should have been discarded long ago. We don't have so much brainpower and talent that we can afford to waste any of it due to ignorance and bias. My thanks to the Commander for allowing this posting. ]

The Honorable Susan Davis
4305 University Avenue Suite 515
San Diego, CA 92105

Dear Representative Davis:

I write as a retired naval officer who happens to be a lesbian. I was told by Jeri Dilno, one of your constituents, that you’re interested in hearing from female naval officers about the “ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)” gay ban to help you make a decision regarding co-sponsoring HR1059.
I write not only as a naval officer, but as a native-born San Diegan who grew up in the Navy. (My dad, Rear Admiral Jack Coye, was a famous WWII submariner). My parents retired to Coronado in 1968. I served my last seven years in San Diego and after retirement taught Political Science at Mesa College, San Diego State and University of San Diego. San Diego is my hometown.

During my active duty service, 1960-80, I helped enhance the career opportunities for Navy women as described in My Navy Too (enclosed), a creative memoir. This memoir details my trials and tribulations as a female naval officer when we had so few women, juxtaposed with the superb opportunities serving in our United States Navy. My primary struggles centered around being someone who discovered she was a lesbian while on active duty and the need to cope with living two separate lives, while simultaneously handling significant billets, including three intelligence tours and ultimately, as a commanding officer.

For you to truly understand the dilemmas of being a lesbian in the military I will invoke the personal: As Commanding Officer, PSA, NTC, my duties forced me to discharge 8-10 young men and women for the sole reason of homosexuality. Their excellent performance ratings and abilities were not considered. These actions were a final straw — my integrity told me I could no longer continue to live a lie, serving an organization that was (and still is) so blatantly discriminatory towards me and other homosexuals.

I understand that you want to be seen as neutral on the gay ban. I’m sad you feel your taking a positive stand for military gays and lesbians would lessen your ability to work with active duty and retired Navy constituents. This stance in some way reminds me of my dad. I had finished writing My Navy Too and asked him for emotional support and an “okay” to publish the manuscript. He was adamantly against its publication. He said, “What would our friends think of your lifestyle and of the Coye family?” Most of my parents’ friends were retired admirals and captains. I replied, “Dad, you might be surprised how they react. From my
discussions with straight Navy friends about the manuscript, they still respect me for who I am and what I accomplished in the Navy, and they support the idea of publication.”

After awhile Dad changed his mind. He said, “I have come to understand that you had no choice as to your sexuality.” His realization came from reading his daughter’s book, from self-education. To his surprise, after the book’s publication most of his friends were very supportive of me and “the Coye family.” It didn’t matter that I was a lesbian. They said, “You must be very proud of Beth and her accomplishments.”

For you to change your neutral position regarding cosponsoring HR 1059 would take a paradigm shift. It would be similar to what I wrote about through the character of Commander Tucker Fairfield — whose professional life almost matched mine — on page 247 of My Navy Too. You would have to be willing to take a leap and metaphorically come out of the shadowy illusions of Plato’s Cave and experience a path less traveled, a different reality about military gays and lesbians. I know you would gain support from straight retirees and active duty personnel. You would be surprised, as was my dad, at their responses.

I imagine you feel that co-sponsoring HR 1059 might jeopardize your working relationships and that “national security” issues must take precedence over softer, people issues, especially gay and lesbian people. I also know, however, that human resources issues in the long haul are more important than hardware and technology issues. For instance, how many fine young gays and lesbians are refusing to serve because of our inane DADT policy? What about the 65,000 military gays and lesbians on active duty striving to lead two lives and to live a lie, as I did for 20 years? To go against your conscience because of others’ unenlightened views, to me, is to be on an untenable and unhealthy path.....yet only you can choose your path.

May I suggest that you and others on the Committee consider ways to truly educate military and legislative leaders regarding the effects of the DADT policy upon not only the institution, but those most affected by this policy, a policy doomed from its beginnings. To this end, I would be pleased to forward copies of My Navy Too — in which both sides are argued — to anyone on your staff or to Committee members who might benefit from its reading. .

Thank you for being open to hearing from retired military gays and lesbians. If you would care to speak to a group of us, I’d be happy to arrange a meeting. I’m planning to join Service Members Legal Defense Network’s Lobby Days , May 15-16.

Warm regards,
Beth F. Coye, Commander, U.S. Navy (ret.) 541.482.6833, coyebf@mind.net
(Still a San Diegan at heart)

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Terrorism Intelligence Report....

From Strategic Forecasting Inc :

Combat Season and the Human Intelligence Front
By Fred Burton

There has been an upsurge of activity -- both by coalition military forces and jihadists -- along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent days. This is partly due to the spring thaws, which traditionally mark the beginning of the combat season in the region -- and indeed, U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan have launched a fresh offensive, Operation Mountain Lion, in Afghanistan's Kunar province.

But more seems to be afoot in the region than the anticipated military offensives. Specifically, several men have been murdered recently -- at least four of them beheaded -- on the belief that they were collaborating with the Americans, and some of the bodies had notes pinned to their clothing labeling them as American spies.

On the whole, the rhythm of activity this year seems to have a different beat; a sense of pressure is building for combatants on both sides of the U.S.-jihadist war, and this pressure seems to be coming from a variety of sources. Warfare, of course, is an evolutionary process.

The United States entered the war -- and Afghanistan -- in 2001 with a heavy reliance on signals intelligence, surveillance and some military forces. These certainly have had their uses, but the jihadists have been able to adapt to the known risks. For example, following Osama bin Laden's narrow escape at Tora Bora in late 2001, there were revelations in the press that his location had been tracked from signals sent by his satellite phone; it is believed that he may have escaped capture by sending the phone with a bodyguard who traveled in the opposite direction from bin Laden.

Similarly, the United States and its coalition partners appear to have had some success in tracing the recordings released by bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri back toward the source -- and the intelligence gleaned from this process may have triggered operations intended to kill or capture al Qaeda leaders. The number and frequency of recordings, particularly by al-Zawahiri (who was targeted in a Hellfire missile strike in Damadola, Pakistan, in January and had been the most often seen face of al Qaeda since 2004) appear to have dropped off dramatically as a result of such operations.

All in all, the evolutionary cycle of measures and countermeasures has forced the United States to rely ever more heavily on human intelligence (humint) -- which historically has been one of the weaknesses of the U.S. intelligence system in fighting a non-state actor. And there clearly have been signs that the humint capabilities of the Americans and their allies are improving.

The First Source of Pressure

The human intelligence battle between the Americans and al Qaeda is not new; it dates back to the days before the "Bin Laden Unit" was established at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. However, for the first several years, human intelligence efforts targeting al Qaeda were far from robust. The 9/11 attacks changed all that. The United States and its allies began serious efforts to develop human sources within or close to al Qaeda, but establishing such a network takes time -- especially when such a difficult target is in question. It is little wonder, then, that the United States relied heavily on technical intelligence methods in the early years of the war, and al Qaeda learned how to counter them. The battle now appears to be joined on the humint front, however.

As American and allied intelligence services have expanded humint networks in the region where al Qaeda's leadership is believed to be hiding, they have begun to offer even larger quantities of cash and visas to potential recruits. (Yes, visas. An opportunity to move one's entire family to the United States, Britain or Australia, with all expenses paid, is a powerful motivator to work for a time as an informant.) As a result, the jihadists now are finding it necessary to counter this new Western "offensive." Judging from the press reports about recent killings of suspected spies, it appears they are following through. Incidents that have surfaced in recent days include the beheading of a villager in North Waziristan agency who supplied food to American forces. The headless body of another man was found in Madakhel -- where Pakistani forces have been fighting with Taliban and al Qaeda supporters -- with a note saying that "all those working as U.S. spies will face the same fate." Perhaps the most widely noted incident, however, was the death of an al Qaeda suspect -- killed in a shootout with Pakistani forces -- in Bajaur agency April 20. Officials said that Marwan Hadid al-Suri, who was wanted by the United States, was an explosives expert who also worked as a "bag man," delivering funds to the families of al Qaeda supporters.

Clearly, both sides have developed their own lists of "most likely suspects" in the humint campaign. As the pressure mounts, the incentives offered for working as a source for the Americans will increase -- as will the penalties for those who are caught or who raise the suspicion of the jihadists.

Politics:

Fueling the PressureFor the United States, the pressure is due in some part to the current political cycle and the state of the presidency. Certainly, the search for bin Laden and al-Zawahiri -- and the failure to locate them -- is not a new theme. But it has been used by the Democrats in criticisms of the Bush administration since the 2004 presidential campaign, and it is beginning to resonate with growing numbers of Americans who have other reasons for turning sour on the president's leadership. One of the tools used to recruit informants is the State Department's "Rewards for Justice" program, which has publicly offered up to $25 million (and relocation) for those providing information that leads to the arrest or death of key al Qaeda figures. The bounty approach has been successful in the past; the U.S. government paid out large rewards to informants in Pakistan who aided in the capture of Mir Amal Kansi and Abdel Basit -- who was snagged for a mere $2 million reward. Despite the dramatic increase in the bounty offer, though, the program has yet to bear fruit in the case of bin Laden or al-Zawahiri.

U.S. forces have gotten close to al-Zawahiri on a few occasions, most recently in Damadola, but when the target is missed, the voting public is not prone to giving the administration credit for the effort. Rather, it prompts al Qaeda's leadership to emerge from the shadows, to prove to both their followers and the United States that they remain alive, well and in command. Within days of the Damadola strike, al-Zawahiri issued another videotape -- taunting the United States for its failure. Indeed, every time al Qaeda leaders issue a statement -- such as the audiotape by bin Laden or the new video featuring Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that came out this week -- discussion of the administration and its failure to capture them is turned up a notch.

Within hours of the latest bin Laden airing, for example, U.S. President George W. Bush's critics were on television, charging that the decision to invade Iraq had deflected attention and resources away from the search for al Qaeda's apex leadership.

With his public approval ratings still on the decline and midterm elections looming in the fall, the president is in need of a win. There are other measures at his disposal, but a successful operation resulting in the death of bin Laden or al-Zawahiri obviously would be a major boost. Such a score would be welcomed by the American public at any point, of course, but if the administration is to have a success Republicans can trumpet during the coming election campaign, it will need to act during the dawning combat season.

Al Qaeda: Fighting Attrition and Informants

Of course, the administration is not alone in sensing pressure; al Qaeda's forces have been badly battered during the past four years. Senior operational leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, have been captured; others -- including Mohammed Atef and Abu Hamza Rabia -- have been killed. Regional affiliates have been able to carry out attacks since 9/11, but the core leadership is hiding in isolation and strategic capabilities have been severely degraded.

The military operations in Kunar province are another factor to consider. Past U.S. operations in that province have sparked tenacious resistance by the jihadists, indicating that there might be high-value al Qaeda targets there. The logical safe haven, of course, is on the Pakistan side of the border. The Taliban, al Qaeda and affiliated militias long have used these areas as a rest and refit base, knowing that U.S. forces cannot or will not chase them into Pakistani territory. There are very public Taliban locations here, with large billboards touting Taliban slogans. Moreover, tribal ties and other relationships mean that many of the residents in this region are at least sympathetic toward the Taliban and jihadist cause.

However, Pakistani forces have been continuing operations in the areas corresponding with Kunar province, and there have been a series of strikes involving U.S. Predator drones along the border region as well. The last of these was at Damadola -- which, though it didn't kill al-Zawahiri, did result in the deaths of four others believed to have been al Qaeda operational leaders. The strike likely disrupted al Qaeda plans just preceding Bush's trip to Pakistan on March 4.

Clearly, the challenges for coalition troops in this region are great, but they do not appear to have been insurmountable. Military operations have been designed to ring in and restrict the movements of al Qaeda suspects, and the support of human intelligence sources -- who can provide targeting information -- is key, particularly in such rugged terrain. Thus far, al Qaeda has held its own in the humint war, but the Americans now seem to be gaining ground -- and the jihadists must counter the new threat to their lives with brutal efficiency.

Fear and Psychology

The web of protection that al Qaeda leaders have spun around themselves has varied and nuanced threads. There are shared religious convictions, cultural and religious obligations to protect guests, ties of friendship and intermarriage with locals, and other factors that would make one loathe to betray their locations. But significantly, there is also fear -- a double-edged sword. We cannot know if any or all of the alleged collaborators who have recently been murdered were indeed providing intelligence to the Americans, but their deaths and the warnings sent with them vividly illustrate al Qaeda's reaction to the increasing human intelligence pressure. In essence, they have upped the ante for Americans attempting to recruit sources and the stakes for those who might be tempted to provide information.

However, the very fact that the Americans are attempting to ramp up their humint network also might force al Qaeda to step up operational security measures, and perhaps even instill an added measure of paranoia. Tactically, this could make it somewhat harder for the United States to get a source in close -- something that is already incredibly difficult to accomplish -- but it may also result in the leadership becoming even more isolated and unable to take part in operational planning. Paranoia also adds to the odds that al Qaeda members or sympathizers might target and kill an innocent person -- and in so doing, possibly anger a family member (or clan). Revenge is sometimes a stronger motivator than money, particularly among certain cultures that emphasize the concepts of tribe, family and honor.

We believe, then, that the human intelligence war along the Afghan-Pakistan border will intensify as the year progresses. The Americans need to get to the al Qaeda leadership and -- with their targets leery of U.S. technical intelligence capabilities -- human sources will be the critical factor in success. Al Qaeda, obviously, will move to counter this pressure. More carnage along the border is likely to ensue.

Send questions or comments on this article to analysis@stratfor.com.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In the military, a "whacko" law....

From .Voice of San Diego. org:

Don't Ask/Don't Tell of Failure
By KEITH TAYLOR
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Corey Kepler, president and CEO of The TFS Group on Engineer Road, is the personification of the American success story. Right after he was discharged in 2000, he used some of the skills he had honed in the Army to grab a nice chunk of the computer business. A tad short of Horatio Alger perhaps, but it was the good old can-do spirit we Americans take such pride in.

Working from his apartment in Point Loma, Corey started a business that helped bring 320 tanning salons and/beauty parlors into the cyberspace world, and that's just for starters. So far, he has moved into his own office, hired 14 people, and is looking to expand to the East Coast. San Diego is lucky to have him and his business. Our gain is the Army's loss.

About 10 years ago, enticed by the promise of being part of a hi-tech crew that fired Patriot Missiles, young Kepler joined the Army. Soon his leaders found he had an even more valuable talent. He was one of those guys who recognized the tremendous potential of computers, and how to exploit them.

Soon he was sitting in an air conditioned office designing programs while his buddies were toiling away in the blazing sun of Fort Bliss, Texas, Corey wrote programs from scratch, sometimes integrating two or three existing ones to do a unified task. One, a training program he created several years ago, is still being used -- this in a world where computer programs are generally obsolete as soon as they are completed.

During his three-year hitch, he received the Army Achievement Medal and three personal letters of commendation. Any employer, anywhere, would make every effort to keep such a valuable person. Well, all but one, I guess.

Kepler was gay but discreet. He lived within the constraints of the military's "don't ask/don't tell" rules. For more than two years, most of his fellow soldiers, his noncoms, and his officers had no problems with his being gay. One of the letters of commendation was awarded personally by a major general.

Then he got new battery and battalion commanders, a captain and lieutenant colonel respectively. Things changed. His privileges were curtailed and his work, the sort of things for which he'd been so highly commended, were questioned.

Let me, as a veteran of 23 years, point out that isn't unusual and shouldn't be. New skippers must be sure that their predecessors weren't being snowed by a slick con artist. What was unusual was that his immediate seniors confided in him that his sexual orientation was the cause. They even told him things would be very rough if he decided to stay in the Army.

Again, I can attest that isn't uncommon, but it should be. Many a soldier or sailor has been earmarked as a guy who is "out of step." From that point on, life becomes hell.

espite the misuse of the word, being gay isn't queer, but the way our military handles it is. Take the so-called "don't ask" rule. It was instituted in 1993 to prevent just such things as Kepler went through. It didn't. It didn't even prevent much more egregious, often dangerous violations. Within a year of the inauguration of the program, seven soldiers learning Arabic or Farsi at the Defense Language Institute were kicked out; this at a time when we were told our biggest shortcomings in intelligence was a lack of linguists.

The military and our present administration have stayed the course despite the fact that restrictions against gays serving have been lifted elsewhere, here and abroad. My old outfit, the National Security Agency with all its secrecy has dropped the prohibitions. Likewise the FBI, most armed forces around the world, even the San Diego Police Department have lifted restrictions. Only a couple other countries in NATO still ban gays from their armed services.

I'd say it was time to come up to date on this problem, at least as up to date as we were in the Revolution. We might not even have been a republic if it hadn't been for Baron Frederich von Steuben, a gay officer we borrowed from Prussia to win a war.

Congress hired von Steuben to train the Continental forces stationed at the winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pa. He also wrote the official military guide for our Army. It, like Kepler's training program, stayed around for a while. It was our guide until 1812. Cities, towns or counties are named for von Steuben in Maine, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was formed about the time "don't ask/don't tell" came out. They are holding a "lobby day" on May 14-16. Their intent is to urge congress to do away this wacko law. I hope congress members pay attention.

Keith Taylor is a retired navy officer living in Chula Vista. He can be reached at KRTaylorxyz@aol.com.

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Adding more good, up-coming books to the list....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:

FICTION/DEBUT:

Former WSJ writer and Columbia MFA grad Jennifer Cody Epstein's IRON ORCHID, an epic historical novel based on the true story of Pan Yuliang, a celebrated and controversial female Chinese painter born into poverty at the turn of the century, who escaped life in a brothel to attend the Shanghai Academy of Art in 1917 and went on to have a flourishing career in Paris, to Jill Bialosky at Norton, in a pre-empt (US), and to Mary Mount at Viking UK, at auction, by Elizabeth Sheinkman at Curtis Brown UK.Elizabeth@curtisbrown.co.uk

Dutch rights to Pieter Swinkels at Bizije Bij, in a pre-empt, with offers in Italy and Germany.Rights: betsy@curtisbrown.co.uk

Sophie Judah's JWALANAGAR STORIES, depicting the shtetl life in a small Indian village among the Bene Israel Jews, to Altie Karper at Schocken Books, in a very nice deal, by Sharon Friedman at Sharon Friedman Literary Agency (World English). sfbooks@netvision.net.il

THRILLER:

Derek Nikitlas's PYRES, about a young girl who witnesses her father's murder during a carjacking which turns out not to be the random act of violence it first seems, to Michael Homler at St. Martin's, in a nice deal, by Jeff Gerecke.

[Note: St Martin's is an excellent publisher!]

GENERAL/OTHER:

Former game show producer Chuck Barris's THE BIG QUESTION, a satire set in the near-future, when a producer discovers the formula for the ultimate reality/game show, where contestants compete for millions of dollars -- and face on-camera execution if they lose, to David Rosenthal at Simon & Schuster, with Sarah Hochman editing, in a very nice deal, for publication in spring 2007, by Jennifer Lyons of Lyons & Pande (world).victoria.meyer@simonandschuster.com

Manette Ansay's THE CONFESSIONS OF JOSEPH FREMANTLE, about a woman in the early 1800s who went to sea as a man, and MY FATHER'S HOUSE, focusing on the love triangle among Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, again to Claire Wachtel at William Morrow, by Deborah Schneider at Gelfman Schneider (NA).

HISTORY/POLITICS/CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Clayton Cramer's ARMED AMERICA, examining the origins and development of America's unique "gun culture" from the earliest settlement to 1840 and proving that our forebearers were armed to the teeth, to Joel Miller at Nelson Current, for publication in fall 2006, by Ed Knappman of New England Publishing Associates (World).ed@nepa.com

HARLEMWORLD author and Duke professor of African-American studies and urban anthropology John L. Jackson, Jr.'s RACIAL PARANOIA: The Paradox at the Heart of Black and White, a look at the historical and contemporary manifestations of racial paranoia in American society, and what this phenomena means for the way we understand race and racial difference in this country, to Ellen Garrison at Basic, at auction, by Andrew Stuart at The Stuart Agency (world). andrew@stuartagency.com

MEMOIR:

Actress Kathleen Turner's TAKE THE LEAD, LADY!, written in collaboration with Gloria Feldt (an author and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America), covering her path to superstardom and revealing many private struggles and triumphs for the first time, and details on how she persevered in the face of health and family issues, to Karen Murgolo at Springboard Press, for six figures, at auction, by Karen Gantz Zahler at Karen Gantz Literary Management (world).Kgzahler@aol.com matthew.ballast@twbg.com

Marjorie Hart's SUMMER AT TIFFANY, the true story of a University of Iowa Kappa and her best friend, who came to New York during the summer of 1945 where they found positions as pages at Tiffany -- interacting with everyone from Judy Garland on her honeymoon to Old Man Tiffany -- while having misadventures in the city and falling in love, to Jennifer Pooley at William Morrow, for publication in April 2007,jennifer.pooley@harpercollins.com

NARRATIVE:

Kate Braestrup's FINDING THE BODY, about her work as a chaplain working on search-and-rescue missions for the Maine State Warden Service, to Reagan Arthur at Little, Brown, at auction, for publication in 2007, by Sally Wofford-Girand at Brick House (NA).

Playing House and When She Was Bad author Patricia Pearson's SCREAMING LIKE A GIRL: A History of Being Afraid, about the many dangers facing the modern world (avian flu, climate change, terrorism) and what we can do about them (panic); including the psychology, biology, and cultural background behind fear, to Gillian Blake at Bloomsbury, by Paula Balzer at Sarah Lazin Books (World English).

SPORTS:

Golf instructor Jim Hardy's THE PLANE TRUTH FOR GOLFERS MASTER CLASS, the follow up to his The Plane Truth for Golfers, with John Andrisani, to Mark Weinstein at McGraw-Hill, by Farley Chase at the Waxman Literary Agency (NA).

GENERAL/OTHER:

President and CEO of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School and host of the History Channel's Digging for the Truth Josh Bernstein's DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH, weaving history and archaeology with accounts of his travels drawn from his personal journal, including full-color photos, to Jonathan Burnham and Gail Winston at Harper, for publication in January 2007, by Mel Berger at the William Morris Agency.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mary McCarthy, BushCo & Geneva Conventions...

From truthout.org :

McCarthyism: Mary and Joe
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Tuesday 25 April 2006

As additional information on the firing of CIA official Mary McCarthy just ten days short of her retirement becomes available, what is afoot is becoming quite clear. We are witnessing a Stalinesque show trial sans the actual trial and inevitable execution. The purpose is intimidation, not extermination. We should be thankful for small favors, I suppose.

There has been no sign they put on the handcuffs as they "escorted" McCarthy out of the office last week. And it appears she will get off relatively lightly - with the character assassination regarded as appropriate for any "traitor" independently in touch with the press. And then there is the stigma that CIA Director Porter Goss, the staffers he brought with him from Congress (not-so-affectionately known as "the gosslings"), and Rush Limbaugh believe should inevitably attach to anyone who gave $2,000 to the Kerry campaign.

Goss and his "independent" Inspector General Danny Kaye - oops, I mean 35-year CIA veteran John Helgersen - are determined to show their patron, Vice President Dick Cheney, some results from the unprecedented rash of "single-issue" polygraph tests now being administered to CIA employees. Beware, all ye who have let the word "media" slip into consciousness. It's sweaty-palms time at CIA headquarters. The Fourth Estate has morphed into a Fifth Column.

The current witch-hunt atmosphere in Langley calls to mind that of February 1973 when James Schlesinger was appointed to replace the not-sufficiently-malleable Richard Helms as President Richard Nixon's CIA director. Watergate was unfolding and Nixon's poll numbers then were about what President George W. Bush's are now. At his first plenary meeting with CIA managers, Schlesinger came on rather strong: "I am here to make sure you guys don't screw Richard Nixon. And, just so you get the picture, I shall be reporting to Bob Haldeman, not to Henry Kissinger." Haldeman was Nixon's chief of staff; Kissinger his national security adviser (the customary contact for a CIA director).

The recent Washington Post report, quoting intelligence officials to the effect that "the White House has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers" is an especially alarming sign. Let all those who gave Kerry $2,000 beware. Goss and gosslings are in position to finish destroying any vestige of non-partisanship and objectivity at the CIA. Who is to stop them? John Negroponte who, as ambassador to Honduras, helped run the Contra war in Nicaragua for CIA Director William Casey and feigned ignorance of the rampant death squads there?

Back to McCarthy (Mary)

Whether or not Mary McCarthy was among the many sources used by Washington Post reporter Dana Priest for her Pulitzer Prize-winning story on the secret prisons run by CIA abroad, the PR folks at Langley have shot themselves in the foot by calling renewed attention to the kidnappings, "extraordinary renditions," and torture which Cheney and the president have had the agency carry out on so grand a scale. And we can rest assured that the hunt for patriotic truth tellers (aka leakers) will continue apace.

But it is also likely that the truth telling will continue. And, in the end, the truth tellers will be glad they did. The years of Bush, Cheney, and Goss are limited, and they will not be able to repeal 18 US Code 2441 (the War Crimes Act of 1996 condemning torture) before going out the door. In addition, potential truth tellers have become increasingly aware of the seldom-mentioned "Nuremberg obligation" to do what one reasonably can to prevent the commission of international crimes like torture.

By conducting these activities overseas, Bush's lawyers thought they might dodge the US criminal statute. Maybe so. But international sanctions also apply. Will Donald Rumsfeld be able to travel to Europe once he loses his Secret Service protection and that afforded by the office of secretary of defense? Will CIA operatives, like the notorious keystone-cops kidnapping crew in Milan, be able to vacation on the Riviera? Interpol knows who they are.

Those inside the government who become privy to - or, worse still, become responsible for - such criminal activity have a legal as well as a moral obligation to blow the whistle. So take heart, past or future truth tellers. With the polygraph, they may eventually track you down. But it is bound to be awkward indeed to take you to court for revealing war crimes. And you will have earned not only a badge of courage but also exculpatory evidence in the event there are prosecutions - here or abroad.

Staying Within "Grievance Channels"

Sunday's Washington Post quoted an unnamed "former senior intelligence official" saying he thought a majority of CIA officers would probably agree with the firing of McCarthy if, as the CIA alleges, she "knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence" with journalists (which she has now denied). "A small number might support her, but the ethic of the business is not to leak," said the former official, adding that one should stay within official grievance channels.

That's what my colleague CIA analyst Sam Adams did 40 years ago - and came to rue the day. Through painstaking research in Washington, combined with imaginative bar-hopping in Vietnam, Adams discovered that Gen. William Westmoreland's staff in Saigon had been ordered to keep Communist force figures artificially low (about half the actual strength), in order to project a picture of progress. When the countrywide offensive at Tet in late-January/early-February 1968 gave the lie to Westmoreland's figures and vindicated Adams, Sam tried manfully to hold the culprits accountable by going to the CIA's and the Pentagon's inspectors general. He got the proverbial run-around, and some 30,000 additional US troops and a million more Vietnamese fell before the war was over six years later. Adams was never able to shake his nagging remorse at the thought that he might have helped prevent further carnage, had he gone out of "official channels" and briefed his findings to the then-free mainstream press. He died at 55 when his heart gave out.

The tragedy of Sam Adams is well known, even to those, like Mary McCarthy, who joined the Agency many years after Sam left. From his present perch, I relish the thought that he is pleased that others may have learned a valuable lesson from the frustration he encountered by "staying within official grievance channels."

Like Sam, Mary McCarthy is an independent thinker, which she proved during her tenure as Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the White House from 1998 to 2001. There she achieved some notoriety for the personal letter she sent President Bill Clinton, criticizing the flimsiness of the "intelligence" that led to the cruise missile strike on the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant that some suggested might be producing chemical warfare agent. She was correct, but then-CIA director George Tenet vouched for the "evidence," testosterone won the day, and they blew the place up.

Torturous Decisions

Those paying attention to the issue of torture by the CIA and the Army will recall the tortured memorandum of January 25, 2002, authored by David Addington (then-counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and now Cheney's chief of staff) and signed by then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. That memo argued that "Geneva's strict limitations on questioning enemy prisoners" were "obsolete" in the new war-on-terror paradigm. Still, Addington/Gonzales felt compelled to remind the president that US criminal code, the War Crimes Act (18 USC 2441), with its draconian penalties (including death) could come into play.

That statute pins the "war crime" label on any grave breach of Geneva, like "outrages against personal dignity," regardless of whether the detainee qualifies as a prisoner of war. Addington and Gonzales warned the president of the danger that he could be prosecuted under that law by a future independent counsel, but reassured him that there is a "reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution." That was good enough for President Bush, who on February 7, 2002, signed a memorandum saying that detainees should be treated humanely, "as appropriate and consistent with military necessity." And that is the loophole through which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld drove a Mack truck. The "rotten apples" were at the very top of the barrel.

The infamous memorandum of January 25 was leaked to Newsweek, which published it and others like it in May 2004. The tortured reasoning was greeted with widespread scorn by the US legal profession and in August 2004 roundly condemned by the American Bar Association, 12 former federal judges, former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, former FBI Director William Sessions, and many others. The ABA formally condemned the administration's treatment of detainees and called upon it to "comply fully" with the US Constitution and international laws and conventions ratified by the US that outlaw torture. It was that same year, 2004, when the torture of prisoners was depicted in the leaked photos from Abu Ghraib, that Mary McCarthy returned to the CIA from a sabbatical that followed her stint at the White House.

Those who have worked with her testify to her respect for law and regulation. That she had more than passing interest in, and respect for the law is suggested not only by her decision several years ago to attend law school at night, but also by the hackles she reportedly raised among testosterone-laden operatives who saw her in her White House role as an annoying hindrance to aggressive tactics against terrorists.

Back at CIA, Mary McCarthy assumed a position in the office of CIA Inspector General John Helgersen, who is responsible for internal investigations of wrongdoing by the agency and has extraordinary access to secrets deprived to others under the need-to-know principle. It is well known that agency personnel, who witnessed torture by the US military in Guantanamo, for example, complained to superiors and to the White House. It is a safe bet that some agency officers also registered objections to "extraordinary rendition," including kidnapping and transporting "terrorist suspects" to so-called black prison camps for interrogation - "with the gloves off," in the swaggering words of then CIA chief counter-terrorism official Cofer Black (now a vice president with the Defense contractor Blackwater). In addition, some CIA officers may have learned of the warrantless eavesdropping in violation of NSA's "eleventh commandment" - thou shall not spy on Americans. In any event, it is certainly safe to say that Helgersen's IG account had become a growth industry, with a requirement for all the professional help it can muster. When Mary McCarthy came on board, she no doubt gained inside insight into complaints of a variety of abuses.

Departing From Custom

Sadly, common practice in such circumstances for someone at retirement age, as McCarthy was, is to hunker down, retire quietly with a healthy annuity, and then become something of a celebrity by writing a tell-all book and going on "60 Minutes." Not McCarthy. Given the courage and independence she showed in her earlier professional life together with her sensitivity to the law, it is a safe bet she tried hard to get management to address the more egregious abuses - torture and rendition, for example. It is equally likely that she got no help from former director George Tenet or current director Porter Goss, both of them on the end of a tight leash held by Vice President Dick Cheney.

But could she not have turned to her new boss, "independent" Inspector General Helgerson? As statutory IG, Helgerson does enjoy some unique prerogatives and autonomy, should he choose to exercise them. Those familiar with his longstanding penchant for sniffing the breezes from the White House and director's office and trimming his sails accordingly would be shocked to see him actually exercise those prerogatives. Rather, he has obediently acquiesced in denying Congress the particulars of his investigations - the one on the performance of CIA officers before September 11, 2001, for example, which reportedly heaped criticism on Medal of Freedom awardee George Tenet and other senior agency officials. And according to yesterday's New York Times, "independent watchdog" Helgerson recently let himself be talked into submitting to a polygraph exam by those he is supposed to be "watch-dogging." Remarkable.

It seems likely that Mary McCarthy quickly saw the lay of the land and decided the Helgerson-Goss route held no promise for success in addressing the abuses of torture and rendition. Had she any doubts on that score, they presumably were dispelled as she watched Director Porter Goss trot off with Cheney to the office of Sen. John McCain to plead for an exception for the CIA from his draft amendment banning torture. This particular mission was not accomplished, but the president appended a "signing statement" saying, in effect, that he feels free to disregard the McCain amendment banning torture.

Turn to Congress?

Where else to turn? The intelligence committees of Congress? A fool's errand. Indelibly imprinted on my mind is a remark made by CIA darling former Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-Texas) when he took the reins of the House Intelligence Committee during the war with the USSR in Afghanistan. Wilson wrote to his CIA friends, "Well, gentlemen, the fox is in the hen house. Do whatever you like." Some twenty years later, the committee's current chairman, Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), has proven a worthy successor, occasionally sniping - as he did yesterday on TV - at National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, but essentially giving the intelligence agencies free rein as long as they remain harnessed tightly to White House policy.

A recent episode may serve to illustrate this. Late last year, having bowed for over a year to White House pressure to suppress New York Times journalist James Risen's Pulitzer-winning scoop on warrantless wiretapping by NSA, the Times management suddenly awoke to the fact that Risen's book was about to appear. In order to avoid the embarrassment of not having carried such a critical story by one of its own writers, the Times told the White House that the story was about to be published. On December 5, 2005, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman were summoned to an oval office meeting with President Bush, who tried - this time in vain - to dissuade the Times from publishing the warrantless eavesdropping story, which then appeared 11 days later (and six weeks after Dana Priest's expose in the Post regarding secret CIA prisons for interrogating suspected terrorists).

The White House, however, apparently forgot to inform NSA Director, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander that a new die was cast. The next day, December 6, the blindsided Alexander - still following the old talking points - assured visiting House intelligence committee member Rush Holt (D-NJ) that NSA did not eavesdrop on Americans without a court order. When Holt later learned he had been deliberately misled about the NSA eavesdropping program, he wrote a blistering letter to Alexander. Nothing has been heard from Chairman Hoekstra, though, and there is not the slightest sign he cared very much that his colleague was lied to on a key aspect of his oversight responsibilities. So, the director of NSA can lie with impunity to minority members of the House intelligence committee; only the chairman counts.

This fits in well with a pattern long familiar to senior intelligence officers. And, as Mary McCarthy watched this latest charade, she must have felt affirmed in her apparent conviction that turning to the House "oversight" committee would, in present circumstances, be a feckless enterprise. And who better than she could see the high farce attached to Hoekstra's hyperbole yesterday on FOX as he parroted (twice) what were doubtless the "McCarthy talking points" from the White House:

"This person in the CIA thought that they were above the law (sic). They thought that the law did not apply to them. They have put America at risk. They have put our troops on the front lines at risk because they broke the law."

With all due respect, Congressman Hoekstra, if you would exercise your oversight responsibilities, the system of checks and balances could work, and folks like McCarthy would not have to go to the press.

Equally feckless would be recourse to the Senate intelligence committee chaired by Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), patsy for the White House since day one of his tenure. No need to rehearse the evidence here. You may wish, though, to check out Scott Ritter's comments on the Semper Fi senator from Kansas - "Semper Fraud, Senator Roberts" at http://www.antiwar.com/orig/ritter.php?articleid=5537.

Mary's Motivation

And so, assuming there is substance to press allegations that McCarthy has admitted she talked with the press, small wonder. (At the same time, she has now denied disclosing any classified information.) I was intrigued by a remark the press has attributed to former CIA deputy director Dick Kerr: "I have no idea what her motive was." Kerr added that McCarthy was a "good, substantive person." And he was right about that - "good" in the sense that she has that all too uncommon mix of smarts, integrity, and guts.

Well, Dick, it's a no-brainer. Is it not clear that she thought the American people should be given the chance to know of the kidnapping, rendition, torture, and other indignities being carried out in our name? Is it not clear that Mary McCarthy is one of those unusually courageous officers willing to take considerable personal risk in order to help democracy work - information being the oxygen of democracy?

But what about her secrecy agreement? The international Truth-Telling Coalition issued a statement on these difficult decisions on September 9, 2004. Perhaps Mary read it; perhaps now her colleagues will.

I have not spoken with Mary McCarthy in ten years, but it seems clear to me that she and many of her colleagues are confronted by an unwelcome choice between her oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and the secrecy agreement all of us signed when we entered on duty with the CIA. Her entire record shows that she did not take such restrictions lightly. None of us did; none of us do.

But agency alumnae/i, at least those of my vintage, believe we must always give priority to the Constitution - and the "Nuremberg obligation."

Ray McGovern was an analyst at the CIA for 27 years.

The best of the best...and that's saying something..

About 3 more weeks before I will have this book in my hands. Just take a look:

Title:
The Hard Way
Author: Lee Child
Fiction - Thrillers>
Imprint: Delacorte Press> # of pages: 384 Price: $ 25.00

READ AN EXCERPT:> > CHAPTER 1> >

JACK REACHER ORDERED espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived at his table he saw a man's life change forever. Not that the waiter was slow. Just that the move was slick. So slick, Reacher had no idea what he was watching. It was just an urban scene, repeated everywhere in the world a billion times a day: A guy unlocked a car and got in and drove away. That was all.> >

But that was enough.> >

The espresso had been close to perfect, so Reacher went back to the same cafe exactly -twenty--four hours later. Two nights in the same place was unusual for Reacher, but he figured great coffee was worth a change in his routine. The cafe was on the west side of Sixth Avenue in New York City, in the middle of the block between Bleecker and Houston. It occupied the ground floor of an undistinguished -four--story building. The upper stories looked like anonymous rental apartments.

The cafe itself looked like a transplant from a back street in Rome. Inside it had low light and scarred wooden walls and a dented chrome machine as hot and long as a locomotive, and a counter. Outside there was a single line of metal tables on the sidewalk behind a low canvas screen.

Reacher took the same end table he had used the night before and chose the same seat. He stretched out and got comfortable and tipped his chair up on two legs. That put his back against the cafe's outside wall and left him looking east, across the sidewalk and the width of the avenue.

He liked to sit outside in the summer, in New York City. Especially at night. He liked the electric darkness and the hot dirty air and the blasts of noise and traffic and the manic barking sirens and the crush of people. It helped a lonely man feel connected and isolated both at the same time.

He was served by the same waiter as the night before and ordered the same drink, double espresso in a foam cup, no sugar, no spoon. He paid for it as soon as it arrived and left his change on the table. That way he could leave exactly when he wanted to without insulting the waiter or bilking the owner or stealing the china. Reacher always arranged the smallest details in his life so he could move on at a split second's notice. It was an obsessive habit. He owned nothing and carried nothing. Physically he was a big man, but he cast a small shadow and left very little in his wake.

He drank his coffee slowly and felt the night heat come up off the sidewalk. He watched cars and people. Watched taxis flow north and garbage trucks pause at the curbs. Saw knots of strange young people heading for clubs. Watched girls who had once been boys totter south. Saw a blue German sedan park on the block. Watched a compact man in a gray suit get out and walk north. Watched him thread between two sidewalk tables and head inside to where the cafe staff was clustered in back. Watched him ask them questions.

The guy was medium height, not young, not old, too solid to be called wiry, too slight to be called heavy. His hair was gray at the temples and cut short and neat. He kept himself balanced on the balls of his feet. His mouth didn't move much as he talked. But his eyes did. They flicked left and right tirelessly. The guy was about forty, Reacher guessed, and furthermore Reacher guessed he had gotten to be about forty by staying relentlessly aware of everything that was happening around him. Reacher had seen the same look in elite infantry veterans who had survived long jungle tours.

Then Reacher's waiter turned suddenly and pointed straight at him. The compact man in the gray suit stared over. Reacher stared back, over his shoulder, through the window. Eye contact was made. Without breaking it the man in the suit mouthed thank you to the waiter and started back out the way he had entered. He stepped through the door and made a right inside the low canvas screen and threaded his way down to Reacher's table. Reacher let him stand there mute for a moment while he made up his mind. Then he said "Yes," to him, like an answer, not a question.

"Yes what?" the guy said back.

"Yes whatever," Reacher said. "Yes I'm having a pleasant evening, yes you can join me, yes you can ask me whatever it is you want to ask me."

The guy scraped a chair out and sat down, his back to the river of traffic, blocking Reacher's view.

"Actually I do have a question," he said.

"I know," Reacher said. "About last night."

"How did you know that?" The guy's voice was low and quiet and his accent was flat and clipped and British.

"The waiter pointed me out," Reacher said. "And the only thing that distinguishes me from his other customers is that I was here last night and they weren't."

"You're certain about that?"

"Turn your head away," Reacher said. "Watch the traffic."

The guy turned his head away. Watched the traffic.

"Now tell me what I'm wearing," Reacher said.

"Green shirt," the British guy said. "Cotton, baggy, cheap, doesn't look new, sleeves rolled to the elbow, over a green T-shirt, also cheap and not new, a little tight, untucked over -flat--front khaki chinos, no socks, English shoes, pebbled leather, brown, not new, but not very old either, probably expensive. Frayed laces, like you pull on them too hard when you tie them. Maybe indicative of a -self--discipline obsession."

"OK," Reacher said.

"OK what?"

"You notice things," Reacher said. "And I notice things. We're two of a kind. We're peas in a pod. I'm the only customer here now who was also here last night. I'm certain of that. And that's what you asked the staff. Had to be. That's the only reason the waiter would have pointed me out."

The guy turned back.

"Did you see a car last night?" he asked.

"I saw plenty of cars last night," Reacher said. "This is Sixth Avenue."

"A Mercedes Benz. Parked over there." The guy twisted again and pointed on a slight diagonal at a length of empty curb by a fire hydrant on the other side of the street.

Reacher said, "Silver, four-door sedan, an S-420, New York vanity plates starting OSC, a lot of city miles on it. Dirty paint, scuffed tires, dinged rims, dents and scrapes on both bumpers."

The guy turned back again.

"You saw it," he said.

"It was right there," Reacher said. "Obviously I saw it."

"Did you see it leave?"

Reacher nodded. "Just before eleven -forty--five a guy got in and drove it away."

"You're not wearing a watch."

"I always know what time it is."

"It must have been closer to midnight"

"Maybe," Reacher said. "Whatever."

"Did you get a look at the driver?"

"I told you, I saw him get in and drive away."

The guy stood up.

"I need you to come with me," he said. Then he put his hand in his pocket. "I'll buy your coffee."

"I already paid for it."

"So let's go."

"Where?"

"To see my boss."

"Who's your boss?"

"A man called Lane."

"You're not a cop," Reacher said. "That's my guess. Based on observation."

"Of what?"

"Your accent. You're not American. You're British. The NYPD isn't that desperate."

"Most of us are Americans," the British guy said. "But you're right, we're not cops. We're private citizens."

"What kind?"

"The kind that will make it worth your while if you give them a description of the individual who drove that car away."

"Worth my while how?"

"Financially," the guy said. "Is there any other way?"

"Lots of other ways," Reacher said. "I think I'll stay right here."

"This is very serious."

"How?"

The guy in the suit sat down again.

"I can't tell you that," he said.

"Goodbye," Reacher said.

"Not my choice," the guy said. "Mr. Lane made it -mission--critical that nobody knows. For very good reasons."

Reacher tilted his cup and checked the contents. Nearly gone.

"You got a name?" he asked.

"Do you?"

"You first."

In response the guy stuck a thumb into the breast pocket of his suit coat and slid out a black leather business card holder. He opened it up and used the same thumb to slide out a single card. He passed it across the table. It was a handsome item. Heavy linen stock, raised lettering, ink that still looked wet. At the top it said: Operational Security Consultants.

"OSC," Reacher said. "Like the license plate."

The British guy said nothing.

Reacher smiled. "You're security consultants and you got your car stolen? I can see how that could be embarrassing."

The guy said, "It's not the car we're worried about."

Lower down on the business card was a name: John Gregory. Under the name was a subscript: British Army, Retired. Then a job title: Executive Vice President.

"How long have you been out?" Reacher asked.

"Of the British Army?" the guy called Gregory said. "Seven years."

"Unit?"

"SAS."

"You've still got the look."

"You too," Gregory said. "How long have you been out?

"Seven years," Reacher said.

"Unit?"

"U.S. Army CID, mostly."

Gregory looked up. Interested. "Investigator?"

"Mostly."

"Rank?"

"I don't remember," Reacher said. "I've been a civilian seven years."

"Don't be shy," Gregory said. "You were probably a lieutenant colonel at least."

"Major," Reacher said. "That's as far as I got."

"Career problems?"

"I had my share."


"You got a name?"

"Most people do."

"What is it?"

"Reacher."

"What are you doing now?"

"I'm trying to get a quiet cup of coffee."

"You need work?"

"No," Reacher said. "I don't."

"I was a sergeant," Gregory said.

Reacher nodded. "I figured. SAS guys usually are. And you've got the look."

"So will you come with me and talk to Mr. Lane?"

"I told you what I saw. You can pass it on."

"Mr. Lane will want to hear it direct."

Reacher checked his cup again. "Where is he?"

"Not far. Ten minutes."

"I don't know," Reacher said. "I'm enjoying my espresso."

"Bring it with you. It's in a foam cup."

"I prefer peace and quiet."

"All I want is ten minutes."

"Seems like a lot of fuss over a stolen car, even if it was a Mercedes Benz."

"This is not about the car."

"So what is it about?"

"Life and death," Gregory said. "Right now more likely death than life."

Reacher checked his cup again. There was less than a lukewarm -eighth--inch left, thick and scummy with espresso mud. That was all. He put the cup down.

"OK," he said. "So let's go.

Excerpted from The Hard Way by Lee Child

> Copyright (c) 2005 by Lee Child.

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