CENTRAL BANKS MASTER LIST | BANK for INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS
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http://www.nationaljournal.com/the-homemade-weapons-of-libya-s-rebel-forces-20110615
“A Libyan rebel fighter smokes a cigarette next to an improvised multiple rocket launcher in the back of a pickup truck, as the rebels prepare to make an advance, in the desert on the outskirts of Ajdabiya, on April 14.” (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)”

UNPRECEDENTED
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-21/libyan-rebel-council-sets-up-oil-company-to-replace-qaddafi-s.html
Libyan Rebel Council Forms Central Bank to Replace Qaddafi’s
by Bill Varner  /  Mar 22, 2011

Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Qaddafi whose assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council. The Transitional National Council released a statement announcing the decision made at a March 19 meeting to establish the “Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general” of the company.

The Council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.” The Security Council adopted a resolution on March 17 that froze the foreign assets of the Libyan National Oil Corp. and the Central Bank of Libya, both described in the text as “a potential source of funding” for Qaddafi’s regime.

Libya holds Africa’s largest oil reserve. Output has fallen to fewer than 400,000 barrels a day, Shokri Ghanem, chairman of the National Oil Corp., said on March 19. The country produced 1.59 million barrels a day in January, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Exports may be halted for “many months” because of sanctions and unrest, the International Energy Agency said. Brent crude for May settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange fell 0.3 percent to $114.62 as of 8:50 a.m. It surged to a 2 1/2-year high of $119.79 on Feb 24 as geopolitical tensions spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The European benchmark will average $109 a barrel this year, up from a previous forecast of $98, on expectations of an “extended shutdown” of Libyan oil supplies, Societe Generale SA said in a monthly review dated yesterday.

The statement by the Transitional National Council also said the rebels would “urgently prepare a file on the referral of Qaddafi and his gang and his associates involved in the killing of Libyans to the International Criminal Court.” The Security Council referred allegations of human rights violations by the Qaddafi regime to the court in a resolution adopted on Feb. 26. The statement said the council would begin choosing ambassadors to foreign countries. The UN said yesterday that Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who broke with the regime last month and said he was then representing the rebels, was no longer Libya’s accredited ambassador. Ambassador Mohammed Shalgham, who also broke with the regime, similarly lost his accreditation when Qaddafi appointed former UN General Assembly President Abdussalam Treki as envoy to the world body. Treki hasn’t presented his credentials yet to Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, a prerequisite for officials taking the post.


“A convoy of Libyan rebels deploy around the western gate of Ajdabiya on April 19.” (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

BROUGHT to YOU BY
http://www.ntclibya.org/english/meeting-on-19-march-2011/

the Interim Transitional National Council

“Meeting Outcomes of the Interim National Council held on 19 March 2011 BENGHAZI, LIBYA – The Interim National Council met on Saturday, 19 March 2011, and discussed a number of important national issues on the current circumstances of the country and the importance of taking necessary actions. The outcome of the meeting is summarized as follows:

First: The Council discussed all the developments on the ground, including the crimes committed by the Qadhafi regime against the Libyan people the Libyan people as well as the report submitted on the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 decided accordingly the following:

1-      To welcome the mentioned resolutions and urge the international community to expedite the initiative to implement the resolutions in order to protect the Libyan people and assist them in achieving the legitimate demand.

2-      To call upon the Libyans throughout the country to be cautions and to continue to demonstrate peacefully in order to achieve their legitimate demands by going out to the streets and peaceful sit-ins, particularly after the international community ensured the protection of Libyan civilians in accordance with Resolution 1973 and demanding the international community to ensure the safety of Libyan civilians.

3-      To urgently prepare a file on the referral of Qadhafi, his gang and his associates involved in killing of Libyans, to the international Criminal Court and entrusting a technical and legal team to complete the procedures.

4-      To intensify contacts with brotherly and friendly countries for the recognition of the Transitional National Council and welcome the positive response of many countries to deal with the Transitional National Council and urge other nations to an early recognition of the Council and urge other nations to an early recognition of the Council as the sole legitimate representative of Libyan People.

5-      To choose a number of ambassadors and representatives of Libya to foreign countries, according to proposal submitted by Foreign Affairs submitted for approval.

Second: The Designation of the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and appointment of a Governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.

Third: The establishment of Libyan Oil Company as supervisory Authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi and appointment of an interim Director-General for the Libyan Oil Company.”


“A rebel fighter rests on a weapon mounted on the back of a pickup truck on the front line between them and Muammar el-Qaddafi forces, 30 km south of Misurata, on May 27.” (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

SKEPTICISM
http://thenewamerican.com/world-mainmenu-26/africa-mainmenu-27/6915-libyan-rebels-create-central-bank-oil-company

As analysts debate possible motives behind President Obama’s United Nations-backed military intervention in Libya, one angle that has received attention in recent days is the rebels’ seemingly odd decision to establish a new central bank to replace dictator Muammar Gadhafi’s state-owned monetary authority — possibly the first time in history that revolutionaries have taken time out from an ongoing life-and-death battle to create such an institution, according to observers. In a statement released last week, the rebels reported on the results of a meeting held on March 19. Among other things, the supposed rag-tag revolutionaries announced the “[d]esignation of the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and appointment of a Governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.”

The Gadhafi regime’s central bank — unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is owned by private shareholders — was among the few central banks in the world that was entirely state-owned. At the moment, it is unclear exactly who owns the rebel’s central bank or how it will be governed. The so-called Interim Transitional National Council, the rebels’ self-appointed new government for Libya purporting to be the “sole legitimate representative of Libyan People,” also trumpeted the creation of a new “Libyan Oil Company” based in the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi. The North African nation, of course, has the continent’s largest proven oil reserves. The U.S. government and the U.N. have both recently announced that the rebels would be free to sell oil under their control — if they do it without Gaddafi’s National Oil Corporation. And the first shipments are set to start next week, according to news reports citing a spokesman for the rebels.

But the creation of a new central bank, even more so than the new national oil regime, left analysts scratching their heads. “I have never before heard of a central bank being created in just a matter of weeks out of a popular uprising,” noted Robert Wenzel in an analysis for the Economic Policy Journal. “This suggests we have a bit more than a rag tag bunch of rebels running around and that there are some pretty sophisticated influences.” Wenzel also noted that the uprising looked like a “major oil and money play, with the true disaffected rebels being used as puppets and cover” while the transfer of control over money and oil supplies takes place. And other analysts agreed. A popular blog called The Economic Collapse used sarcasm to express suspicions about the strange rebel announcement. “Perhaps when this conflict is over those rebels can become time management consultants. They sure do get a lot done,” joked the piece, entitled “Wow That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels Have Already Established A New Central Bank Of Libya.” The blog also commented, sarcastically again, on the possibility of outside involvement. “What a skilled bunch of rebels — they can fight a war during the day and draw up a new central bank and a new national oil company at night without any outside help whatsoever. If only the rest of us were so versatile! … Apparently someone felt that it was very important to get pesky matters such as control of the banks and control of the money supply out of the way even before a new government is formed,” read the piece.

Even mainstream news outlets were puzzled. “Is this the first time a revolutionary group has created a central bank while it is still in the midst of fighting the entrenched political power?” wondered CNBC senior editor John Carney. “It certainly seems to indicate how extraordinarily powerful central bankers have become in our era.” But some observers are convinced that the central bank issue was actually the primary motivation for the international war against Libya‘s dictatorship. In an article that has spread far and wide across the web, entitled “Globalists Target 100% State Owned Central Bank of Libya,” author Eric Encina maintains that the world’s “globalist financiers and market manipulators” could not stand the Libyan monetary authority’s independence, explaining:

Currently, the Libyan government creates its own money, the Libyan Dinar, through the facilities of its own central bank. One major problem for globalist banking cartels is that in order to do business with Libya, they must go through the Libyan Central Bank and its national currency, a place where they have absolutely zero dominion or power-broking ability. Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations. And when Gadhafi is gone and the dust has settled, according to Encina, “you will see the Allied reformers move in to reform Libya’s monetary system, pumping it full of worthless dollars, priming it for a series of chaotic inflationary cycles.” The future of Libya’s vast gold stockpiles could also be in jeopardy, he noted.

Numerous other analysts and experts have also pointed to the central banking issue as one of the top factors leading up to the Western backing of Libyan rebels. Monetary historian Andrew Gause, for example, recently shared his concerns about the matter publicly. Other points made in the rebels’ odd announcement last week included preparations to send Gadhafi to the U.N.’s International Criminal Court for trial, the selection of diplomats to send abroad, and the desire for other governments to recognize the Transitional National Council as the legitimate new rulers of Libya. France has already done so, and other governments may soon follow suit.

Of course, the U.S. government claims to have very little knowledge about who the rebels actually are. But the U.S. Commander of NATO forces recently admitted to the Senate that hints of al Qaeda involvement have been detected among the rebels. The terror group was created, armed, funded, and trained by the U.S. government decades ago, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted even recently. But since then, it has targeted American embassies and other U.S. targets. As The New American reported over the weekend, elements of al Qaeda and affiliated terror groups are indeed among the leadership of the revolution. But despite that fact, the U.S. government and the international coalition are providing air support and weapons for the new central-bank-creating rebels. Where the conflict goes from here is uncertain, but Western regimes have vowed not to let Gaddafi remain in power.


“A rebel poses with an armful of rocket-propelled grenades taken from an armored personnel carrier captured from forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi on the outskirts of the town of Zliten, west of the rebel-held port city of Misurata, on June 10.” (Reuters/Abdelkader Belhessin)

MEANWHILE: QADDAFI HAS $100+ BILLION STASHED
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/07/15/bloomberg1376-LOF9MG6S972901-254BJ5BEJ5PGELCM4FF1HAHRT3.DTL

July 16 (Bloomberg) — Muammer Qaddafi has at least $100 billion of assets abroad and Libya’s Transitional National Council expects a portion of the frozen funds to be released or to obtain borrowing against them. “To be safe we’re saying there’s over $100 billion,” spokesman Mahmoud Shammam said today by telephone from Istanbul, where the U.S. and its allies recognized the council as the sole legitimate governing authority in Libya at a meeting yesterday. “We need some necessity expenses and to get loans against a percentage.” The council requires $3 billion over six months to cover the budget and expects to get a $100 million loan from Turkey in the next three days, Shammam said. Kuwait has pledged $180 million, while Italy and other governments said yesterday that Libyan assets held by their countries “will be released or we’ll get loans against them,” he said. The TNC is saying the unfrozen funds won’t be spent, rather used as collateral to cover borrowing until an elected government is in place, Shammam said.

the LIBYA CONTACT GROUP
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/15/us-libya-meeting-usa-idUSTRE76E2QF20110715
Seeking to free funds, U.S. recognizes Libya rebels
by Andrew Quinn / Jul 15, 2011

(Reuters) – The United States Friday recognized Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council (TNC) as a legitimate government, a diplomatic boost which could unlock billions of dollars in frozen assets. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would extend formal recognition to the Benghazi-based TNC until a fully representational interim government can be established. “The TNC has offered important assurances today, including the promise to pursue a process of democratic reform that is inclusive both geographically and politically,” Clinton said in prepared remarks. “Until an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognize the TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis.”

Clinton’s announcement came as the Libya Contact Group, meeting in Istanbul, formally recognized the opposition as the representative of the Libyan people — sealing its diplomatic status as the successor government to embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi. The contact group, made up of more than 30 governments and international and regional organizations, also authorized U.N. special envoy Abdul Elah Al-Khatib to present terms for Gaddafi to leave power in a political package that will include a ceasefire to halt fighting in the civil war. Clinton said any deal “must involve Gaddafi’s departure” from power and a halt to violence. “Increasingly the people of Libya are looking past Gaddafi. They know, as we all know, that it is no longer a question of whether Gaddafi will leave power, but when,” she said. U.S. officials said the decision on formal diplomatic recognition marked an important step toward unblocking more than $34 billion in Libyan assets in the United States but cautioned it could still take time to get funds flowing to the cash-strapped Benghazi council. “We expect this step on recognition will enable the TNC to access additional sources of funding,” Clinton told reporters after the meeting, saying Washington would discuss with allies “the most effective and appropriate method” to do this. They also said no decisions had been made on upgrading U.S. representation in Benghazi — now a small office headed by special envoy Chris Stevens — or on bringing the TNC into the United Nations and other international organizations. Clinton acknowledged that the United States had “taken its time” in deciding on formal recognition of the TNC, but now firmly believed this was the way forward. “We think they are have made great strides and are on the right path,” she said.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on February 25 freezing the assets of Gaddafi, his family and top officials, as well as the Libyan government, the country’s central bank and sovereign wealth funds. Most of the frozen assets are liquid in the form of cash and securities. U.S. officials have pledged to free up some of the money for the TNC, which has run dangerously short of cash to pay for salaries and basic services even as it takes on more of the responsibilities of government. But discussions with Congress on mechanisms to free up the money ran into legal complications — some of which could be swept away by U.S. recognition of the TNC as Libya’s legitimate government. “Our hope is that in a relatively short time frame we will be able to make progress (on funds) but there’s a lot of moving pieces here,” one senior State Department official said. The United States could direct banks to transfer frozen funds directly to the TNC, but this might still run foul of U.N. financial sanctions in place on Libya. A second option would be for the United States to establish a line of credit backed by the frozen assets as several other countries have done.

Clinton’s announcement formally recognizing the TNC marked the end of a process which began in February when Obama declared that Gaddafi had lost his legitimacy as Libya’s leader because of his brutal response to anti-government protesters. “We wanted to send a very clear signal to Gaddafi and the people around him that we are looking past Gaddafi to a future without him,” the senior U.S. official said. “We felt that taking this step today sends that message loud and clear.” The United States closed its embassy in Tripoli in February and withdrew its diplomatic staff, but maintains embassy staff working in Washington to develop ties with the TNC. The United States and Gaddafi’s government have been estranged for most of the past four decades, and only resumed contacts in 2003 when Tripoli gave up its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and took responsibility for its role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.


Central Bank of Libya offices in Tripoli

the CENTRAL BANK of LIBYA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Bank_of_Libya
http://cbl.gov.ly/en/
http://cbl.gov.ly/en/home/index.php?cid=94
“The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) is 100% state ownership and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and enjoys the status of autonomous corporate body.”

DEFECTED CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR: ‘CASH MAY BE HIDDEN in DESERT”
http://video.ft.com/v/946393675001/Libyan-cash-may-be-hidden-in-desert
May 17 2011 : “Farhat Bengdara was, until he defected, at the heart of the Libyan regime as central bank governor. As rebels began the uprising against Muammer Gaddafi, Bengdara flew to Turkey and began to help the other side. In this revealing interview with the FT’s Middle East editor Roula Khalaf, he describes where Libya’s gold is kept, how Gaddafi may have foreign reserve cash hidden in the desert and the powerful effect of western sanctions.” (video 8m 44sec)

100% STATE-OWNED
http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article27208.html
Globalists Target 100% State Owned Central Bank of Libya
by Patrick_Henningsen / Mar 28, 2011

Eric V. Encina writes: One seldom mentioned fact by western politicians and media pundits: the Central Bank of Libya is 100% State Owned. The world’s globalist financiers and market manipulators do not like it and would continue to their on-going effort to dethrone Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi, bringing an end to Libya as independent nation. Currently, the Libyan government creates its own money, the Libyan Dinar, through the facilities of its own central bank. Few can argue that Libya is a sovereign nation with its own great resources, able to sustain its own economic destiny. One major problem for globalist banking cartels is that in order to do business with Libya, they must go through the Libyan Central Bank and its national currency, a place where they have absolutely zero dominion or power-broking ability. Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations. When the smoke eventually clears from all the cruise missiles and cluster bombs, you will see the Allied reformers move in to reform Libya’s monetary system, pumping it full of worthless dollars, priming it for a series of chaotic inflationary cycles.

The CBL is currently a 100% state owned entity and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The financial structure and general operation procedures of a state bank is of course much different than that of an American or European based central bank. Form starters it is not privately owned, for-profit bank with a undisclosed list of private shareholders like the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are. Libyan constitutional law establishing the CBL stipulates that its central bank maintains monetary stability in Libya and promotes sustained growth of its national economy. Libya also holds more bullion as a proportion of gross domestic product than any country except Lebanon, according to the London-based World Gold Council using January data from the International Monetary Fund. The value of gold is based on the March 25 close of $1,429.74 an ounce. Will this gold remain in Libya once Allied forces have taken control of Tripoli, or will it lost, or exchanged for pallets upon pallets of paper aka US dollars?



“THE PLAN”
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MD14Ak02.html

There is no denying at least one very popular achievement of the Libyan government: it brought water to the desert by building the largest and most expensive irrigation project in history, the US$33 billion GMMR (Great Man-Made River) project. Even more than oil, water is crucial to life in Libya.  The GMMR provides 70% of the population with water for drinking and irrigation, pumping it from Libya’s vast underground Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System in the south to populated coastal areas 4,000 kilometers to the north. The Libyan government has done at least some things right.

Another explanation for the assault on Libya is that it is “all about oil”, but that theory too is problematic. As noted in the National Journal, the country produces only about 2% of the world’s oil. Saudi Arabia alone has enough spare capacity to make up for any lost production if Libyan oil were to disappear from the market. And if it’s all about oil, why the rush to set up a new central bank?

Another provocative bit of data circulating on the Net is a 2007 “Democracy Now” interview of US General Wesley Clark (Ret). In it he says that about 10 days after September 11, 2001, he was told by a general that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq. Clark was surprised and asked why. “I don’t know!” was the response. “I guess they don’t know what else to do!” Later, the same general said they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. What do these seven countries have in common? In the context of banking, one that sticks out is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland.

The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked. Kenneth Schortgen Jr, writing on Examiner.com, noted that “[s]ix months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept euros instead of dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar.”  According to a Russian article titled “Bombing of Libya – Punishment for Ghaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar”, Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency.

During the past year, the idea was approved by many Arab countries and most African countries. The only opponents were the Republic of South Africa and the head of the League of Arab States. The initiative was viewed negatively by the USA and the European Union, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind; but Gaddafi was not swayed and continued his push for the creation of a united Africa.  And that brings us back to the puzzle of the Libyan central bank. In an article posted on the Market Oracle, Eric Encina observed: “One seldom mentioned fact by western politicians and media pundits: the Central Bank of Libya is 100% State Owned … Currently, the Libyan government creates its own money, the Libyan Dinar, through the facilities of its own central bank. Few can argue that Libya is a sovereign nation with its own great resources, able to sustain its own economic destiny. One major problem for globalist banking cartels is that in order to do business with Libya, they must go through the Libyan Central Bank and its national currency, a place where they have absolutely zero dominion or power-broking ability. Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations.”

Libya not only has oil. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its central bank has nearly 144 tonnes of gold in its vaults. With that sort of asset base, who needs the BIS, the IMF and their rules? All of which prompts a closer look at the BIS rules and their effect on local economies. An article on the BIS website states that central banks in the Central Bank Governance Network are supposed to have as their single or primary objective “to preserve price stability”.

They are to be kept independent from government to make sure that political considerations don’t interfere with this mandate. “Price stability” means maintaining a stable money supply, even if that means burdening the people with heavy foreign debts. Central banks are discouraged from increasing the money supply by printing money and using it for the benefit of the state, either directly or as loans.

In a 2002 article in Asia Times Online titled “The BIS vs national banks” Henry Liu maintained: “BIS regulations serve only the single purpose of strengthening the international private banking system, even at the peril of national economies. The BIS does to national banking systems what the IMF has done to national monetary regimes. National economies under financial globalization no longer serve national interests. FDI [foreign direct investment] denominated in foreign currencies, mostly dollars, has condemned many national economies into unbalanced development toward export, merely to make dollar-denominated interest payments to FDI, with little net benefit to the domestic economies.” He added, “Applying the State Theory of Money, any government can fund with its own currency all its domestic developmental needs to maintain full employment without inflation.” The “state theory of money” refers to money created by governments rather than private banks.

The presumption of the rule against borrowing from the government’s own central bank is that this will be inflationary, while borrowing existing money from foreign banks or the IMF will not. But all banks actually create the money they lend on their books, whether publicly owned or privately owned. Most new money today comes from bank loans. Borrowing it from the government’s own central bank has the advantage that the loan is effectively interest-free. Eliminating interest has been shown to reduce the cost of public projects by an average of 50%.  And that appears to be how the Libyan system works. According to Wikipedia, the functions of the Central Bank of Libya include “issuing and regulating banknotes and coins in Libya” and “managing and issuing all state loans”. Libya’s wholly state-owned bank can and does issue the national currency and lend it for state purposes.  That would explain where Libya gets the money to provide free education and medical care, and to issue each young couple $50,000 in interest-free state loans. It would also explain where the country found the $33 billion to build the Great Man-Made River project. Libyans are worried that North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led air strikes are coming perilously close to this pipeline, threatening another humanitarian disaster.

So is this new war all about oil or all about banking? Maybe both – and water as well. With energy, water, and ample credit to develop the infrastructure to access them, a nation can be free of the grip of foreign creditors. And that may be the real threat of Libya: it could show the world what is possible.  Most countries don’t have oil, but new technologies are being developed that could make non-oil-producing nations energy-independent, particularly if infrastructure costs are halved by borrowing from the nation’s own publicly owned bank. Energy independence would free governments from the web of the international bankers, and of the need to shift production from domestic to foreign markets to service the loans.  If the Gaddafi government goes down, it will be interesting to watch whether the new central bank joins the BIS, whether the nationalized oil industry gets sold off to investors, and whether education and healthcare continue to be free.

{Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are  http://webofdebt.com and http://ellenbrown.com.}

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http://www.wilsoncenter.org/events/docs/A%20National%20Strategic%20Narrative.pdf
by Mr. Y

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/13/the_y_article

On Friday, April 8, as members of the U.S. Congress engaged in a last-minute game of chicken over the federal budget, the Pentagon quietly issued a report that received little initial attention: “A National Strategic Narrative.” The report was issued under the pseudonym of “Mr. Y,” a takeoff on George Kennan’s 1946 “Long Telegram” from Moscow (published under the name “X” the following year in Foreign Affairs) that helped set containment as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union. The piece was written by two senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a “personal” capacity, but it is clear that it would not have seen the light of day without a measure of official approval. Its findings are revelatory, and they deserve to be read and appreciated not only by every lawmaker in Congress, but by every American citizen.

The narrative argues that the United States is fundamentally getting it wrong when it comes to setting its priorities, particularly with regard to the budget and how Americans as a nation use their resources more broadly. The report says Americans are overreacting to Islamic extremism, underinvesting in their youth, and failing to embrace the sense of competition and opportunity that made America a world power. The United States has been increasingly consumed by seeing the world through the lens of threat, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness, and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.

Courageously, the authors make the case that America continues to rely far too heavily on its military as the primary tool for how it engages the world. Instead of simply pumping more and more dollars into defense, the narrative argues:

By investing energy, talent, and dollars now in the education and training of young Americans — the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members, and parents, of tomorrow — we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future. Our first investment priority, then, is intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth.

Yet, it is investments in America’s long-term human resources that have come under the fiercest attack in the current budget environment. As the United States tries to compete with China, India, and the European Union, does it make sense to have almost doubled the Pentagon budget in the last decade while slashing education budgets across the country?

TEACHING SOFT POWER
http://hegemonicobsessions.com/?p=386
by HANS-INGE LANGØ / April 15th, 2011

Foreign Policy‘s John Norris has picked up on an article written by two U.S. military officers that seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the press. The article, titled “A National Strategic Narrative,” is being compared to George F. Kennan’s famous article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” for laying out a new direction in U.S. foreign policy (Kennan used the pseudonym “X” for the article which was published inForeign Affairs in July 1947). The authors, U.S. Navy Captain Wayne Porter and U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Mark Mykleby, invite this comparison by signing it “Mr. Y” and making several references to Kennan’s important note. Whereas Kennan laid the intellectual foundation for a strategy of containtment vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, Porter and Mykleby are calling for a strategy of sustainment: “It is time for America to re-focus our national interests and principles through a long lens on the global environment of tomorrow. It is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability); from an emphasis on power and control to an emphasis on strength and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement. We must recognize that security means more than defense, and sustaining security requires adaptation and evolution, the leverage of converging interests and interdependencies.”

The authors lay out three priorities as part of this new national strategy: investing in education to build the economy; relying less on military force and utilizing other parts of the foreign policy tool box, such as development and aid, to ensure long-term security; and developing sustainable access to, cultivation and use of natural resources. These are not ideas one would normally associate with the military, but something seems to be changing at the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has warned that the civilian side of U.S. foreign policy (e.g. the State Department and USAID) is underfunded. In a 2007 speech, he called cuts to ‘soft power’ tools during the 1990s “short-sighted,” saying it was a “gutting of America’s ability to engage, assist, and communicate with other parts of the world.” The message has not changed since then. In fact, both Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have vigorously opposed cuts to the State Department budget on repeated occasions. The Y article seems to be a continuation of this emphasis of ‘soft power’, and John Norris rightfully concludes that though the article was written in a personal capacity, “it would not have seen the light of day without a measure of official approval.”

It is a fundamentally optimistic proposition, confident in the capability of the United States to achieve positive influence in the world and the willingness of others to cooperate, rather than compete. Both these assertions are debatable. Should the United States move away from interventionism, it could find it has more influence through soft power than blunt coercion, yet there is no guarantee for that. As others countries rise, like the United States once did, they too will seek their place in the world, testing the boundaries of cooperation and accommodation. In the next couple of decades, Asia will be ripe for conflicts as China and India assert themselves, with Japan, South Korea and a host of other countries seeking physical and economic security. That is not to say that Asia is doomed to repeat the mistakes of Europe. One could make the case that economic and cultural developments, with their accompanying interdependencies, lessen the incentives for war. While China is asserting itself through territorial claims in the South China Sea and elaborate navy exercises, Beijing is primarily concerned with keeping the economy running at a brisk pace. War is bad for business, and China’s military remains inferior to that of the United States – let alone a coalition of U.S. and other regional forces. In addition, nuclear proliferation serves as a deterrent of total war that was woefully lacking in Europe during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Yet despite these disincentives, all the major players in Asia are building up their military capabilities, and some are even making significant changes to their national security strategies in anticipation of a more threatening China. This development is taking place largely independently of U.S. actions in the region and despite security guarantees given to South Korea and Japan. The United States is even encouraging Japan to take a larger share of its own security burden, which basically means more defense spending and a more offensive posture. Perhaps this is due to fiscal concerns, as the United States can ill afford to subsidize its allies’ security forever, but it might also come from a realization that there are limits to U.S. influence in the region. The Asian powers have their own national interests irrespective of U.S. concerns. This means that even if the United States adopts a more cooperative approach to foreign policy, others might not follow.

Direct confrontation is not the only challenge facing the United States. One could even make the case that war is not even at the top of the list. Competition for natural resources and access to markets is likelier to result in lawfare, economic sanctions and other soft power confrontations than kinetic actions. To solve these issues, the United States needs a large toolbox, so Porter and Mykleby are right in this respect to focus on ‘smart power’. The danger is that a normative approach to foreign policy might crash into a real world of realpolitik and hard power. Speaking softly will only get you so far, unless you carry a big stick. Looking beyond the emphasis on ‘soft power’, there is a more fundamental message coming out of the Y article. Though a cliché it may be, one is reminded of John Winthrop and his famous sermon “City Upon A Hill” from 1630 when reading the article. The authors urge policymakers, and Americans in general, to examine the role of the United States in an increasingly interdependent world: “This Narrative advocates for America to pursue her enduring interests of prosperity and security through a strategy of sustainability that is built upon the solid foundation of our national values. As Americans we needn’t seek the world’s friendship or to proselytize the virtues of our society. Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole, or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions.”

As Jonathan Monten describes it in his excellent article “The Roots of the Bush Doctrine,” American exceptionalism in foreign policy has historically taken on two distinct characters: exemplarism and vindicationism. We last saw the former during the presidency of George W. Bush, when foreign policy thinking was dominated by the belief that the United States had to take active measure to promote American values of liberty abroad. Merely being an example was not enough to cause change. The latter, which is on display in the Y article, is the idea that the United States should sort out its own house first and act as a beacon of light to the world, instead of forcing its ideals on others. The practical implication of this would likely be a policy of offshore balancing, and here is the real potential of Porter and Mykleby’s proposition. This would not be isolationism – as noninterventionism is often, and mistakenly, called. It would be a policy based on the genuine belief that the United States cannot, and should not, run the world. There are limits to U.S. power, and nationbuilding schemes like the ones Iraq and Afghanistan come with huge opportunity costs both abroad and at home.

CHINA POLITELY COMMENTS
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Facts and Figures: U.S. Human Rights Situation

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — China’s Information Office of the State Council, or cabinet, published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010” here Sunday. Following is the full text:

Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 on April 8, 2011. As in previous years, the reports are full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 is prepared to urge the United States to face up to its own human rights issues.

I. On Life, Property and Personal Security

The United States reports the world’s highest incidence of violent crimes, and its people’s lives, properties and personal security are not duly protected.

Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on earth has a rate that is higher. In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million property crimes and 133,000 personal thefts were committed against U.S. residents aged 12 or older, and the violent crime rate was 17.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice on October 13, 2010 (Criminal Victimization 2009, U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov). The crime rate surged in many cities in the United States. St. Louis in Missouri reported more than 2,070 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, making it the nation’s most dangerous city (The Associated Press, November 22, 2010). Detroit residents experienced more than 15,000 violent crimes each year, which means the city has 1,600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The United States’ four big cities – Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – reported increases in murders in 2010 from the previous year (USA Today, December 5, 2010). Twenty-five murder cases occurred in Los Angeles County in a week from March 29 to April 4, 2010; and in the first half of 2010, 373 people were killed in murders in Los Angeles County (www.lapdonline.org). As of November 11, New York City saw 464 homicide cases, up 16 percent from the 400 reported at the same time last year (The Washington Post, November 12, 2010).

The United States exercised lax control on the already rampant gun ownership. Reuters reported on November 10, 2010 that the United States ranks first in the world in terms of the number of privately-owned guns. Some 90 million people own an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, which has a population of about 300 million. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 28, 2010 that the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms that can not be violated by state and local governments, thus extending the Americans’ rights to own a gun for self-defense purposes to the entire country (The Washington Post, June 29, 2010). Four U.S. states – Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia and Virginia – allow loaded guns in bars. And 18 other states allow weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol (The New York Times, October 3, 2010). Tennessee has nearly 300,000 handgun permit holders. The Washington Times reported on June 7, 2010 that in November 2008, a total of 450,000 more people in the United States purchased firearms than had bought them in November 2007. This was a more than 10-fold increase, compared with the change in sales from November 2007 over November 2006. From November 2008 to October 2009, almost 2.5 million more people bought guns than had done so in the preceding 12 months (The Washington Times, June 7, 2010). The frequent campus shootings in colleges in the United States came to the spotlight in recent years. The United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph reported on February 21, 2011 that a new law that looks certain to pass through the legislature in Texas, the United States, would allow half a million students and teachers in its 38 public colleges to carry guns on campus. It would become only the second state, after Utah, to enforce such a rule.

The United States had high incidence of gun-related blood-shed crimes. Statistics showed there were 12,000 gun murders a year in the United States (The New York Times, September 26, 2010). Figures released by the U.S. Department of Justice on October 13, 2010 showed weapons were used in 22 percent of all violent crimes in the United States in 2009, and about 47 percent of robberies were committed with arms (www.ojp.usdoj.gov, October 13, 2010). On March 30, 2010, five men killed four people and seriously injured five others in a deadly drive-by shooting (The Washington Post, April 27, 2010). In April, six separate shootings occurred overnight, leaving 16 total people shot, two fatally (www.myfoxchicago.com). On April 3, a deadly shooting at a restaurant in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, left four people dead and two others wounded (www.nbclosangeles.com, April 4, 2010). One person was killed and 21 others wounded in separate shootings around Chicago roughly between May 29 and 30 (www.chicagobreakingnews.com, May 30, 2010). In June, 52 people were shot at a weekend in Chicago (www.huffingtonpost.com, June 21, 2010). Three police officers were shot dead by assailants in the three months from May to July (Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2010). A total of 303 people were shot and 33 of them were killed in Chicago in the 31 days of July in 2010. Between November 5 and 8, four people were killed and at least five others injured in separate shootings in Oakland (World Journal, November 11, 2010). On November 30, a 15-year-old boy in Marinette County, Wisconsin, took his teacher and 24 classmates hostage at gunpoint (abcNews, November 30, 2010). On January 8, 2011, a deadly rampage critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed and 12 others injured in the attack (Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2011).

II. On Civil and Political Rights

In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights by the government is severe.

Citizen’ s privacy has been undermined. According to figures released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September 2010, more than 6,600 travelers had been subject to electronic device searches between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, nearly half of them American citizens. A report on The Wall Street Journal on September 7, 2010, said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was sued over its policies that allegedly authorize the search and seizure of laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices without a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The policies were claimed to leave no limit on how long the DHS can keep a traveler’ s devices or on the scope of private information that can be searched, copied or detained. There is no provision for judicial approval or supervision. When Colombian journalist Hollman Morris sought a U.S. student visa so he could take a fellowship for journalists at Harvard University, his application was denied on July 17, 2010, as he was ineligible under the “terrorist activities” section of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. An Arab American named Yasir Afifi, living in California, found the FBI attached an electronic GPS tracking device near the right rear wheel of his car. In August, ACLU, joined by the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian weekly, had filed a lawsuit to expedite the release of FBI records on the investigation and surveillance of Muslim communities in the Bay Area. The San Francisco FBI office has declined to comment on the matter “because it’ s still an ongoing investigation.” (The Washington Post, October 13, 2010). In October 2010, the Transportation Security Administration raised the security level at U.S. airports requiring passengers to go through a full-body scanner machine or pat-downs. It also claimed that passengers can not refuse the security check based on their religious beliefs. Civil rights groups contended the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches (AP, November 16, 2010). The ACLU and the U.S. Travel Association have been getting thousands of complaints about airport security measures (The Christian Science Monitor, November 20, 2010).

Abuse of violence and torturing suspects to get confession is serious in the U. S. law enforcement. According to a report of Associated Press on October 14, 2010, the New York Police Department (NYPD) paid about 964 million U.S. dollars to resolve claims against its officers over the past decade. Among them was a case that an unarmed man was killed in a 50-bullet police shooting on his wedding day. The three police officers were acquitted of manslaughter and the NYDP simply settled the case with money (China Press, October 15, 2010). In a country that boasts “judicial justice,” what justice did the above-mentioned victims get? In June 2010, a federal jury found former Chicago police lieutenant Jon Burge guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Burge and officers under his command shocked, suffocated and burned suspects into giving confessions in the 1970s and 1980s (The Boston Globe, November 5, 2010). According to a report on Chicago Tribune on May 12, 2010, Chicago Police was charged with arresting people without warrants, shackling them to the wall or metal benches, feeding them infrequently and holding them without bathroom breaks and giving them no bedding, which were deemed consistent with tactics of “soft torture” used to extract involuntary confessions. On March 22, a distraught homeless man was shot dead in Potland, Oregon, by four shots from a police officer (China Press, April 1, 2010). An off-duty Westminster police officer was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and raping a woman on April 3 while a corrections officer was accused of being an accessory (Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2010). On April 17 in Seattle, Washington, a gang detective and patrol officer kicked a suspect and verbally assaulted him (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 10, 2010). On March 24, Chad Holley, 15, was brutally beaten by eight police officers in Houston. The teen claimed he was face down on the ground while officers punched him in the face and kneed him in the back. After a two-month-long investigation, four officers were indicted and fired (Houston Chronicle, May 4, June 23, 2010). On August 11, three people were injured by police shooting when police officers chased a stolen van in Prince George’ s County. Family members of the three injured argued why the police fired into the van when nobody on the van fired at them (The Washington Post, August 14, 2010). On September 5, 2010, a Los Angeles police officer killed a Guatemalan immigrant by two shots and triggered a large scale protest. Police clashed with protesters and arrested 22 of them (The New York Times, September 8, 2010). On November 5, 2010, a large demonstration took place in Oakland against a Los Angeles court verdict which put Johannes Mehserle, a police officer, to two years in prison as he shot and killed unarmed African American Oscar Grant two years ago. Police arrested more than 150 people in the protest (San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2010).

The United States has always called itself “land of freedom,” but the number of inmates in the country is the world’ s largest. According to a report released by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project in 2008, one in every 100 adults in the U.S. are in jail and the figure was one in every 400 in 1970. By 2011, America will have more than 1.7 million men and women in prison, an increase of 13 percent over that of 2006. The sharp increase will lead to overcrowding prisons. California prisons now hold 164,000 inmates, double their intended capacity (The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2010). In a New Beginnings facility for the worst juvenile offenders in Washington DC, only 60 beds are for 550 youths who in 2009 were charged with the most violent crimes. Many of them would violate the laws again without proper care or be subject to violent crimes (The Washington Post, August 28, 2010). Due to poor management and conditions, unrest frequently occurred in prisons. According to a report on Chicago Tribune on July 18, 2010, more than 20 former Cook County inmates filed suit saying they were handcuffed or shackled during labor while in the custody, leaving serious physical and psychological damage. On October 19, 2010, at least 129 inmates took part in a riot at Calipatria State Prison, leaving two dead and a dozen injured (China Press, October 20, 2010). In November, AP released a video showing an inmate, being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managed to plead for help through a prison guard station window but officers looked on and no one intervened until he was knocked unconscious. The prison was dubbed “gladiator school” (China Press, December 2, 2010).

Wrongful conviction occurred quite often in the United States. In the past two decades, a total of 266 people were exonerated through DNA tests, among them 17 were on death row (Chicago Tribune, July 11, 2010). A report from The Washington Post on April 23, 2010, said Washington DC Police admitted 41 charges they raised against a 14-year-old boy, including four first-degree murders, were false and the teen never confessed to any charge. Police of Will County, Illinois, had tortured Kevin Fox to confess the killing of his three-year-old daughter and he had served eight months in prison before a DNA test exonerated him. Similar case happened in Zion, Illinois, that Jerry Hobbs were forced by the police to confess the killing of his eight-year-old daughter and had been in prison for five years before DNA tests proved his innocence. Barry Gibbs had served 19 years in prison when his conviction of killing a prostitute in 1986 was overturned in 2005 and received 9.9 million U.S. dollars from New York City government in June 2010 (The New York Times, June 4, 2010).

The U.S. regards itself as “the beacon of democracy.” However, its democracy is largely based on money. According to a report from The Washington Post on October 26, 2010, U.S. House and Senate candidates shattered fundraising records for a midterm election, taking in more than 1.5 billion U.S. dollars as of October 24. The midterm election, held in November 2010, finally cost 3.98 billion U.S. dollars, the most expensive in the U.S. history. Interest groups have actively spent on the election. As of October 6, 2010, the 80 million U.S. dollars spent by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfed the 16 million U.S. dollars for the 2006 midterms. One of the biggest spenders nationwide was the American Future Fund from Iowa, which spent 7 million U.S. dollars on behalf of Republicans in more than two dozen House and Senate races. One major player the 60 Plus Association spent 7 million dollars on election related ads. The American Federation of States, County and Municipal Employees spent 103.9 million U.S. dollars on the campaigns from October 22 to 27 (The New York Times, November 1, 2010). U.S. citizens have expressed discontent at the huge cost in the elections. A New York Times/CBS poll showed nearly 8 in 10 U.S. citizens said it was important to limit the campaign expense (The New York Times, October 22, 2010).

While advocating Internet freedom, the U.S. in fact imposes fairly strict restriction on cyberspace. On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which will give the federal government “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency. Handing government the power to control the Internet will only be the first step towards a greatly restricted Internet system, whereby individual IDs and government permission would be required to operate a website. The United States applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted “Internet freedom” in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory. An article on BBC on February 16, 2011 noted the U.S. government wants to boost Internet freedom to give voices to citizens living in societies regarded as “closed” and questions those governments’ control over information flow, although within its borders the U.S. government tries to create a legal frame to fight the challenge posed by Wikileaks. The U.S. government might be sensitive to the impact of the free flow of electronic information on its territory for which it advocates, but it wants to practice diplomacy by other means, including the Internet, particularly the social networks.

An article on the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Magazine admitted that the U.S government’s approach to the Internet remains “full of problems and contradictions” (Foreign Policy Magazine website, February 17, 2011).

III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The United States is the world’s richest country, but Americans’ economic, social and cultural rights protection is going from bad to worse.

Unemployment rate in the United States has been stubbornly high. From December 2007 to October 2010, a total of 7.5 million jobs were lost in the country (The New York Times, November 19, 2010). According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor on December 3, 2010, the U.S. unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent in November 2010, and the number of unemployed persons was 15 million in November, among whom, 41.9 percent were jobless for 27 weeks and more (Data.bls.gov). The jobless rate of California in January 2010 was 12.5 percent, its worst on record. Unemployment topped 20 percent in eight California counties (The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2010). Unemployment rate of New York State was 8.3 percent in October 2010. There were nearly 800,000 people unemployed statewide, and about 527,000 people were collecting unemployment benefits from the state (The New York Times, November 19, 2010). Employment situation for the disabled was worse. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor on August 25, 2010, the average unemployment rate for disabled workers was 14.5 percent in 2009, and nearly a third of workers with disabilities worked only part-time. The jobless rate for workers with disabilities who had at least a bachelor’s degree was 8.3 percent, which was higher than the 4.5 percent rate for college-educated workers without disabilities (The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010). The unemployment rate for those with disabilities had risen to 16.4 percent as of July 2010 (The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010). In 2009, more than 21,000 disabled people complained to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about their experience of employment discrimination, an increase of 10 percent and 20 percent over the numbers of 2008 and 2007 (The World Journal, September 25, 2010).

Proportion of American people living in poverty has risen to a record high. The U.S. Census Bureau reported on September 16, 2010 that a total of 44 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, four million more than that of 2008. The share of residents in poverty climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level recorded since 1994 (The New York Times, September 17, 2010). In 2009, Mississippi’s poverty rate was 23.1 percent (www.census.gov). Florida had a total of 2.7 million people living in poverty (The Washington Post, September 19, 2010). In New York City, 18.7 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2009, as an additional 45,000 people fell below the poverty line that year (New York Daily News, September 29, 2010).

People in hunger increased sharply. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in November 2010 showed that 14.7 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2009 (www.ers.usda.gov), an increase of almost 30 percent since 2006 (The Washington Post, November 21, 2010). About 50 million Americans experienced food shortage that year. The number of households collecting emergency food aid had increased from 3.9 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009 (The China Press, November 16, 2010). The number of Americans participating in the food-stamp program increased from 26 million in May 2007 to 42 million in September 2010, approximately one in eight people was using food stamps (The Associated Press, October 22, 2010). In the past four years, 31.6 percent of American families tasted poverty for at least a couple of months (The Globe and Mail, September 17, 2010).

Number of homeless Americans increased sharply. According to a report by USA Today on June 16, 2010, the number of families in homeless shelters increased 7 percent to 170,129 from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2009. Homeless families also were staying longer in shelters, from 30 days in 2008 to 36 in 2009, and about 800,000 American families were living with extended family, friends, or other people because of the economy. The number of homeless students in the U.S. increased 41 percent over that in the previous two years to one million (The Washington Post, September 23, 2010; USA Today, July 31, 2010). In New York City, 30 percent of homeless families in 2009 were first-time homeless (www.usatoday.com). The city’s homeless people increased to 3,111, with another 38,000 people living in shelters (The New York Times, March 19, 2010). New Orleans had 12,000 homeless people (News Week, August 23, 2010). An estimated 254,000 men, women and children experienced homelessness in Los Angeles County during some part of the year. Approximately 82,000 people were homeless on any given night. African Americans made up approximately half of the Los Angeles County homeless population, 33 percent were Latino, and a high percentage, as high as 20 percent, were veterans (www.laalmanac.com). American veterans served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could become homeless one year and a half after they retired, and about 130,000 retired veterans become homeless each year in the US (homepost.kpbs.org). Statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless showed that more than 1,000 violent offences against homeless people have occurred in the U.S. which caused 291 deaths since 1999. (The New York Times, August 18, 2010)

The number of American people without health insurance increased progressively every year. According to a report by USA Today on September 17, 2010, the number of Americans without health insurance increased from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009, the ninth consecutive annual rise, which accounted for 16.7 percent of the total U.S. population. Sixty-eight adults under 65 years old died due to lack of health insurance each day on average in the US. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November 2010 showed that 22 percent of American adults between 16 and 64 had no health insurance (Reuters, November 10, 2010). A report issued by the Center for Health Policy Research, University of California, Los Angeles indicated that 24.3 percent of adults under 65 in California State in 2009 had no health insurance, representing a population of 8.2 million, up from the 6.4 million in 2007. Proportion of children without health insurance in the state rose from 10.2 percent in 2007 to 13.4 percent in 2009 (The China Press, March 17, 2010, citing the Los Angeles Times).

IV. On Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination, deep-seated in the United States, has permeated every aspect of social life.

An Associated Press-Univision Poll, reported by the Associated Press on May 20, 2010, found that 61 percent of people overall said Hispanics face significant discrimination, compared with 52 percent who said blacks do. The New York Times reported on October 28, 2010 that more than 6 in 10 Latinos in the United States say discrimination is a “major problem” for them, a significant increase in the last three years.

Minorities do not enjoy the same political status as white people. The New York city’s non-Hispanic white population is 35 percent, while more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites. Since winning a third term in November 2009, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners. All nine are white. Of the 80 current city officials identified by the Bloomberg administration as “key members” on its Website, 79 percent are white. Of 321 people who advise the mayor or hold one of three top titles at agencies that report directly to him – commissioners, deputy commissioners and general counsels, and their equivalents – 78 percent are white. And of the 1,114 employees who must live in the city, under an executive order, because they wield the most influence over policies and day-to-day operations, 74 percent are white (The New York Times, June 29, 2010).

Minority groups confront discrimination in their employment and occupation. The black people are treated unfairly or excluded in promotion, welfare and employment (Chicago Tribune, March 12, 2010). It is reported that one-third of black people confronted discrimination at work, against which only one-sixteenth of the black people would lodge a complaint. The Washington Post reported on October 15, 2010 that about 30 black firefighters alleged systematic racial discrimination within the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, claiming that black employees faced harsher discipline. Shirley Sherrod, who was black, was fired by the Agricultural Department after a blogger posted her truncated comments that 24 years ago, she did not help a white farmer when she was working for a nonprofit agency established to help black farmers. The U.S. Agriculture Department in February, 2010 reached a 1.25-billion-dollar settlement in a decades-long struggle by African-American farmers who had suffered from discrimination within farm loans (The Washington Post, July 23, 2010). The New York Times reported on September 23, 2010 that by September 30, 2009, Muslim workers had filed a record 803 claims of complaints over employment discrimination, up 20 percent from the previous year.

Minority groups have high unemployment rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July 2010, among the population 16 to 24 years of age, 2,987,000 unemployed people were white, with unemployment rate reaching 16.2 percent; 992,000 were black or African American people, with unemployment rate of 33.4 percent; 165,000 were Asians, with unemployment rate of 21.6 percent; 884,000 belonged to Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, with unemployment rate of 22.1 percent (www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/youth.pdf). According to a report of the working group of experts on people of African descent to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in August 2010, unemployment was a very serious issue for the Afro-descendant community in the United States, with levels of unemployment being, proportionately, four times higher among this population than in the white community. Reference was made to a case where the New York City Fire Department was found to have discriminated against people of African descent who had applied for employment as firemen. Of the 11,000 firemen employed by the New York City Fire Department, only about 300 were of African descent, despite their being about 27 percent of the population of New York (UN document A/HRC/15/18). Nearly one-sixth of black residents in the city were unemployed in the third quarter of 2010. About 140,000 of the city’s 384,000 unemployed residents, or 36 percent, were black (The New York Times, October 28, 2010).

Poverty proportion for minorities is also high in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau announced in September, 2010 that the poverty proportion of the black was 25.8 percent in 2009, and those of Hispanic origin and Asian were 25.3 percent and 12.5 percent respectively, much higher than that of the non-Hispanic white at 9.4 percent. The median household income for the black, Hispanic origin and non-Hispanic white were 32,584, 38,039 and 54,461 U.S. dollars respectively (The USA Today, September 17, 2010). A survey released by the America Association of Retired Persons on February 23, 2010 found that over the previous 12 months, a third (33 percent) of African Americans age 45+ had problems paying rent or mortgage, 44 percent had problems paying for essential items, such as food and utilities, almost one in four (23 percent) lost their employer-sponsored health insurance, more than three in ten (31 percent) had cut back on their medications, and a quarter (26 percent) prematurely withdrew funds from their retirement nest eggs to pay for living expenses. Even in the tough employment environment, 12 percent of African Americans age 65+ returned to the workforce from retirement, while nearly 20 percent of African Americans age 45 to 64 increased the number of hours worked and 12 percent took a second job (The Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2010). In 2009, there were more than 30,000 black children living in poverty in the nation’s capital, almost 7,000 more than two years before. Among black children in the city, childhood poverty shot up to 43 percent, from 36 percent in 2008. In contrast, the poverty rate for Hispanic children was 13 percent, and the rate for white children was 3 percent (The Washington Post, September 29, 2010).

The U.S. minority groups face obvious inequality in education. A latest report released by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University showed that 81 percent of white, 64 percent of Hispanic, and 62 percent of African-American students graduated from high schools in 2008 (The World Journal, December 2, 2010). As of 2008, among white men aged 55 to 64, the college completion rate was 43 percent, while 19 percent of Hispanics. Among white men aged 25 to 34, the completion rate was 39 percent, compared with 14 percent of Hispanics (The Washington Post, October 20, 2010). In New York City, the number of white adults with a master degree were three times more than Hispanics. According to a report released by the Sacramento State University, only 22 percent of Latino students and 26 percent African American students completed their two-year studies in the university, compared with 37 percent of white students (The San Jose Mercury News, October 20, 2010). A report released from New York City’ s Department of Education in January 2010 found that 6,207 or 4.7 percent-out of a total of 130,837 disciplinary incidents reported in the City’s public schools during the 2008-09 school year were bias-related with gender, race/color, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation (The China Press, January 18, 2010). The USA Today on October 14, 2010 reported that African American boys who were suspended at double and triple the rates of their white male peers. At the Christina School District in Delaware, 71 percent of black male students were suspended in a recent school year, compared to 22 percent of their white male counterparts. African-American students without disabilities were more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers. African-American students with disabilities were over twice as likely to be expelled or suspended as their white counterparts (USA Today, March 8, 2010).

The health care for African-American people is worrisome. Studies showed that nearly a third of ethnic minority families in the United States did not have health insurance. Life expectancy was lower and infant mortality higher than average (BBC, the social and economic position of minorities). Mortality of African American children was two to three times higher than that of their white counterparts. African American children represented 71 percent of all pediatric HIV/AIDS cases. African American women and men were 17 times and 7 times, respectively, more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than white people, and twice more likely to develop cancer.

Racial discrimination is evident in the law enforcement and judicial systems. The New York Times reported on May 13, 2010, that in 2009, African Americans and Latinos were 9 times more likely to be stopped by the police to receive stop-and-frisk searches than white people. Overall, 41 percent of the prison population was estimated to be African American. The rate of African Americans serving a life sentence was more than 10 times higher than that of whites. Males of African descent who dropped out of school had a 66 percent chance of ending up in jail or being processed by the criminal justice system (UN document A/HRC/15/18). A report said 85 percent of the people stopped in New York to receive stop-and-frisk searches over the past six years had been black or Latino (The Washington Post, November 4, 2010). According to a report of the Law School of the Michigan State University, among the 159 death row inmates in North Carolina, 86 were black, 61 were white and 12 were from other ethnic groups. During the trial process of the 159 capital cases, the number of black members taken out from the jury by prosecutors more than doubled that of non-black members. According to statistics from the Chicago Police Department, the proportion of black people being the criminals and the victims of all murder cases is the highest, reaching 76.3 and 77.6 percent respectively (portal.chicagopolice.org). The Homicide Report of the Los Angeles Times showed 2,329 homicides in Los Angeles County from January 1, 2007 to November 14, 2010, with victims of 1,600 Latinos and 997 black people (projects.latimes.com/homicide/map/).

Racial hate crimes are frequent. The FBI said in an annual report that out of 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States in 2009, some 4,000 were racially motivated and nearly 1,600 were driven by hatred for a particular religion. Overall, some 8,300 people fell victim to hate crimes in 2009. Blacks made up around three-quarters of victims of the racially motivated hate crimes and Jews made up the same percentage of victims of anti-religious hate crimes. Two-thirds of the 6,225 known perpetrators of all U.S. hate crimes were white (AFP, November 22, 2010).

Immigrants’ rights and interests are not guaranteed. Lawmakers in the Arizona Senate in April 2010 passed a bill to curb illegal immigration. The law requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people who are unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally (The Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2010). Another proposed Arizona law, supported by Republicans of the state, would deny birth certificates to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents (CNN U.S., June 15, 2010). A group of UN human rights experts on migrants, racism, minorities, indigenous people, education and cultural rights expressed serious concern over the laws enacted by the state of Arizona, saying that “a disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established”. The Arizona immigration law requires state law enforcement officers to arrest a person, without a warrant. It also makes it a crime to be in the country illegally, and specifically targets day laborers, making it a crime for an undocumented migrant to solicit work, and for any person to hire or seek to hire an undocumented migrant. The law may lead to detaining and subjecting to interrogation persons primarily on the basis of their perceived ethnic characteristics. In Arizona, persons who appear to be of Mexican, Latin American, or indigenous origin are especially at risk of being targeted under the law. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on November 19, 2010 that a large group of human rights organizations prepared to hold a vigil in South Georgia in support of suspected illegal immigrants being held in a prison in Lumpkin. As of September 17, 2010, the prison was holding 1,890 inmates. Court cases for inmates at the prison were pending for 63 days on average. With regard to immigration detainees, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said, in a report to the Human Rights Council in April 2010, that he received reports of detainees being willfully and maliciously denied proper medical treatment, to which they are entitled by legislation, while they are in the custody of the national authorities. The Special Rapporteur observed during his country missions that irregular migrant workers are often homeless or living in crowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions (UN document A/HRC/14/30).

V. On the rights of women and children

The situation regarding the rights of women and children in the United States is bothering.

Gender discrimination against women widely exists in the United States. According to a report released on August 11, 2010 by the Daily Mail, 90 percent of women have suffered some form of sexual discrimination in the workplace. Just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. A report by the American Association of University Women released on March 22, 2010 showed that women earned only 21 percent of doctorate degrees in computer science, around one-third of the doctorates in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences, chemistry, and math. Women doing the same work as men often get less payment in the United States. According to a report on September 17, 2010 by the Washington Post, in nearly 50 years, the wage gap has narrowed by only 18 cents. The census report released on September 16, 2010 showed that working women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The New York Times reported on April 26, 2010 that Wal-Mart was accused of systematically paying women less than men, giving them smaller raises and offering women fewer opportunities for promotion in the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history. The plaintiffs stressed that while 65 percent of Wal-Mart’s hourly employees were women, only 33 percent of the company’s managers were (The New York Times, April 26, 2010).

Women in the United States often experience sexual assault and violence. Statistics released in October 2010 by the National Institute of Justice show that some 20 million women are rape victims in the country (www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/october/10-ag-1220.html). About 60,000 female prisoners fall victims to sexual assault or violence every year. Some one fifth female students on campus are victims of sexual assault, and 60 percent of campus rape cases occurred in female students’ dorms (World Journal, August 26, 2010).

According to the Human Rights Watch report released in August last year, 50 detainees in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers have been alleged victims of sexual assault since 2003. Most of these victims were women, and some of the alleged assailants, including prison guards, were not prosecuted. In one case, a guard in a Texas detention center pretended to be a doctor and sexually assaulted five women in the center’s infirmary (World Journal, August 26, 2010). According to figures from Pentagon, cited by the Time magazine on March 8, 2010, nearly 3,000 female soldiers were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9 percent from the year before. Close to one third of the retired female soldiers said they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving.

Women are also victims of domestic violence. In the United States, some 1.3 million people fall victim to domestic violence every year, and women account for 92 percent. One in four women is a victim of domestic violence at some point during her life, and the violence kills three women each day in the United States by a current or former intimate partner (CNN, October 21, 2010). In 2008, police in the New York City received reports of more than 230,000 domestic violence cases, which equals to 600 cases per day (China Press, April 3, 2010). In all homicide cases in 2009, of the female murder victims for whom their relationships to the offenders were known, 34.6 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends (www2.fbi.gov). In the Santa Clara County in California, police receive more than 4,500 domestic violence related calls every year, and more than 700 women and children live in shelters to avoid domestic violence (World Journal, October 15, 2010; China Press, October 9, 2010).

Women’s health rights are not properly protected in the United States. According to the Amnesty International, more than two women die every day in the United States from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women in the past 20 years. Native American and Alaska Native women are 3.6 times, African-American women 2.6 times and Latina women 2.5 times more likely than white women to receive no or late pre-natal care (UN document A/HRC/14/NGO/13).

Children in the U.S. live in poverty. The Washington Post reported on November 21, 2010, that nearly one in four children struggles with hunger, citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 60 percent of public school teachers identify hunger as a problem in the classroom. Roughly the same percentage go into their own pockets to buy food for their hungry students (The Washington Post, November 21, 2010). According to figures released on Sept. 16, 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 to 20.7 percent in 2009, up 1.7 percentage points from that in 2008 (www.census.gov). Poverty among black children in the Washington D.C. is as high as 43 percent (The Washington Post, September 29, 2010), and some 2.7 million children in California live in impoverished families. The number of poor children in six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area has increased by 15 to 16 percent. Statistics show that at least 17 million children in the United States lived in food insecure households in 2009 (World Journal, May 8, 2010).

Violence against children is very severe. Figures from the official website of Love Our Children USA show that every year over 3 million children are victims of violence reportedly and the actual number is 3 times greater. Almost 1.8 million are abducted and nearly 600,000 children live in foster care. Every day one out of seven kids and teens are approached online by predators, and one out of four kids are bullied and 43 percent of teens and 97 percent of middle schoolers are cyberbullied. Nine out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school. As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they’ re afraid of being bullied (www.loveourchildrenusa.org). According to a report released on October 20, 2010 by the Washington Post, 17 percent of American students report being bullied two to three times a month or more within a school semester. Bullying is most prevalent in third grade, when almost 25 percent of students reported being bullied two, three or more times a month. According to a UN report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, 20 states and hundreds of school districts in the United States still permit schools to administer corporal punishment in some form, and students with mental or physical disabilities are more likely to suffer physical punishment (UN document A/HRC/14/25/ADD.1).

Children’ s physical and mental health is not ensured. More than 93,000 children are currently incarcerated in the United States, and between 75 and 93 percent of children have experienced at least one traumatic experience, including sexual abuse and neglect (The Washington Post, July 9, 2010). According to a report made by the Child Fatality Review Team from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, between 2001 and 2008, injury-related deaths among children aged one to 12 years old in the United States was 8.9 deaths per 100,000. The figure for those in the New York City was 4.2 deaths per 100,000 (China Press, July 3, 2010). Thirteen children and young adults have died at a Chicago care facility for children with severe disabilities since 2000 due to failure to take basic steps to care for them (Chicago Tribune, October 10, 2010). According to a study published on October 14, 2010 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, about half of American teens aged between 13 and 19 met the criteria for a mental disorder. Fifty-one percent of boys and 49 percent of girls aged 13 to 19 had a mood, behavior, anxiety or substance use disorder, and the disorder in 22.2 percent of teens was so severe it impaired their daily activities (World Journal, October 15, 2010). Pornographic content is rampant on the Internet and severely harms American children. Statistics show that seven in 10 children have accidentally accessed pornography on the Internet and one in three has done so intentionally. And the average age of exposure is 11 years old – some start at eight years old (The Washington Times, June 16, 2010). According to a survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of American teens have sent or posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves. (www.co.jefferson.co.us, March 23, 2010). At least 500 profit-oriented nude chat websites were set up by teens in the United States, involving tens of thousands of pornographic pictures.

VI. On U.S. Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations

The United States has a notorious record of international human rights violations.

The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused huge civilian casualties. A trove, released by the WikiLeaks website on October 22, 2010, reported up to 285,000 war casualties in Iraq from March 2003 through the end of 2009. The documents revealed that at least 109,000 people were killed in the Iraq war, and 63 percent of them were civilians (World Journal, October 23, 2010). In an attack in Baghdad in July 2007, an American helicopter shot and killed 12 people, among whom were a Reuters photographer and his driver (The New York Times, April 5, 2010). On February 20, 2011, a U.S. military operation in northeastern Afghanistan killed 65 innocent people, including 22 women and more than 30 children, causing the most serious civilian casualties in months (The Washington Post, February 20, 2011). According to a report in the Washington Post on October 15, 2010, Iraq’ s Human Rights Ministry reported in 2009 that 85,694 Iraqis were killed from January 2004 to October 31, 2008. Iraq Body Count, an organization based in Britain, said that a total of 122,000 civilians had been killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq (Newsday, October 24, 2010).

The U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and other regions have also brought tremendous casualties to local people. According to a report by McClatchy Newspapers on March 2, 2010, the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops had caused 535 Afghan civilian deaths and injuries in 2009. Among them 113 civilians were shot and killed, an increase of 43 percent over 2008. Since June 2009, air strikes by the U.S. military had killed at least 35 Afghan civilians. On January 8, 2010, an American missile strike in the northwestern region of Pakistan killed four people and injured three others (The San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2010). During an American Special Operation in Afghanistan on February 12, five innocent civilians were shot to death, and two of them were pregnant mothers (The New York Times, April 5, 2010, page A4). On April 12, American troops raked a passenger bus near Kandahar, killing five civilians and wounding 18 others (The New York Times, April 13, 2010). The Washington Post reported on September 18, 2010, that from January 2010, a “kill team” formed by five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had committed at least three murders, where they randomly targeted and killed Afghan civilians, and dismembered the corpses and hoarded the human bones (The Washington Post, September 18, 2010).

The U.S. counter-terrorism missions have been haunted by prisoner abuse scandals. The United States held individuals captured during its “war on terror” indefinitely without charge or trial, according to a joint study report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010 by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The report said the United States established detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and many other places in the world, keeping detainees secretly. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established secret detention facilities to interrogate so-called “high-value detainees”. The study said the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Bradbury had stated that the CIA had taken custody of 94 detainees, and had employed “enhanced techniques” to varying degrees, including stress positions, extreme temperature changes, sleep deprivation, and “waterboarding,” in the interrogation of 28 of those detainees (UN document A/HRC/13/42). The United States makes arrests outside its border under the pretext of the “war on terror.” According to a report of the Associated Press on December 9, 2010, documents released by the WikiLeaks website indicated that in 2003, some U.S. agents were involved in an abduction of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist. The U.S. agents abducted him in Macedonia, and secretly detained him in a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan for five months. However, a top diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin warned the German government not to issue international arrest warrants against the involved CIA agents.

The United States has seriously violated the right of subsistence and right of development of Cuban residents. On October 26, 2010, the 65th session of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” the 19th such resolution in a row. Only two countries, including the United States, voted against the resolution. The blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba qualifies as an act of genocide under Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted in 1948.

The United States refuses to join several key international human rights conventions, failing to fulfill its international obligations. To date, the United States has ratified neither the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, nor the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Up to now 96 countries have ratified the Convention. The United States, however, has not ratified it. So far, a total of 193 countries have joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child as states parties, but the United States is among the very few countries that have not ratified it.

On August 20, 2010, the U.S. government submitted its first report on domestic human rights situation to the UN Human Rights Council. During the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the record on November 5, the United States received a record 228 recommendations by about 60 country delegations for improving its human rights situation. These recommendations referred to, inter alia, ratifying key international human rights conventions, rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, racial discriminations and Guantanamo prison. The United States, however, only accepted some 40 of them. On March 18, 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the UPR on the United States, and many countries condemned the United States for rejecting most of the recommendations. In the discussion on the United States, speakers from some country delegations expressed their regret and disappointment over the United States’ refusal of a large number of the recommendations. They noted that the United States’ commitment to the human rights area was far from satisfying, and they urged the United States to face up to its own human rights record and take concrete actions to tackle the existing human rights problems.

The above-mentioned facts illustrate that the United States has a dismal record on its own human rights and could not be justified to pose as the world’s “human rights justice.” However, it released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries for their human rights practices. The United States ignores its own serious human rights problems, but has been keen on advocating the so-called “human rights diplomacy,” to take human rights as a political instrument to defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests. These facts fully expose its hypocrisy by exercising double standards on human rights and its malicious design to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights.

We hereby advise the U.S. government to take concrete actions to improve its own human rights conditions, check and rectify its acts in the human rights field, and stop the hegemonistic deeds of using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.

the VENDORS
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/15/stuxnet_jigsaw_completed/
Malware targets frequency converter drives from two specific vendors
by John Leyden / November 15th 2010

Security researchers have found an important missing piece in the Stuxnet jigsaw that provides evidence that the malware was targeted at the types of control systems more commonly found in nuclear plants and other specialised operations than in mainstream factory controls.

It was already known that the highly sophisticated Stuxnet worm targets industrial plant control (SCADA) systems from Siemens, spreading using either unpatched Windows vulnerabilities or from infected USB sticks. The malware only uses infected PCs as a conduit onto connected industrial control systems. The malware is capable of reprogramming or even sabotaging targeted systems while hiding its presence using rootkit-style functionality. New research, published late last week, has established that Stuxnet searches for frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya of Iran and Vacon of Finland. In addition, Stuxnet is only interested in frequency converter drives that operate at very high speeds, between 807 Hz and 1210 Hz.

The malware is designed to change the output frequencies of drives, and therefore the speed of associated motors, for short intervals over periods of months. This would effectively sabotage the operation of infected devices while creating intermittent problems that are that much harder to diagnose. Low-harmonic frequency converter drives that operate at over 600 Hz are regulated for export in the US by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment. They may have other applications but would certainly not be needed to run a conveyor belt at a factory, for example.

Symantec – which has an informative write-up piece here – describes the new research as a “critical piece of the puzzle”. Eric Chien, a senior researcher at Symantec, writes. “With this discovery, we now understand the purpose of all of Stuxnet’s code”. Although we know what Stuxnet does, we still can’t be sure who created it or its exact purpose, although we can make an educated guess. Stuxnet infections first surfaced in Malaysia in June, but the appearance of the malware in Iran has long been the major point of interest in the story. Plant officials at the controversial Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran admitted the malware had infected its network in September. This had nothing to do with a recently announced two-month delay in bringing the reactor online, government ministers subsequently claimed.

One theory is that Russian contractors at the site of Bushehr power plant introduced the malware, either accidentally or (more likely) deliberately. Stuxnet used four Windows zero-day vulnerabilities to spread and must have been developed by a team with expertise in and access to industrial control systems over several weeks, at a minimum. Altogether an expensive and tricky project with no obvious financial return, factors suggest the malware was developed with either the direct involvement of support of intelligence agencies or nation-states and designed for sabotage.

The appearance of the malware has provoked talk of cyberwar in some quarters and certainly done a great deal to raise the profile of potential attacks on power grid and utility systems in the minds of politicians. This is regardless of the potential likelihood of such an attack actually being successful, which remains unclear even after the arrival of Stuxnet.

BUSHEHR
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0921/Stuxnet-malware-is-weapon-out-to-destroy-Iran-s-Bushehr-nuclear-plant
Stuxnet malware is ‘weapon’ out to destroy … Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant?
by Mark Clayton / September 21, 2010

Cyber security experts say they have identified the world’s first known cyber super weapon designed specifically to destroy a real-world target – a factory, a refinery, or just maybe a nuclear power plant. The cyber worm, called Stuxnet, has been the object of intense study since its detection in June. As more has become known about it, alarm about its capabilities and purpose have grown. Some top cyber security experts now say Stuxnet’s arrival heralds something blindingly new: a cyber weapon created to cross from the digital realm to the physical world – to destroy something. At least one expert who has extensively studied the malicious software, or malware, suggests Stuxnet may have already attacked its target – and that it may have been Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, which much of the world condemns as a nuclear weapons threat.

The appearance of Stuxnet created a ripple of amazement among computer security experts. Too large, too encrypted, too complex to be immediately understood, it employed amazing new tricks, like taking control of a computer system without the user taking any action or clicking any button other than inserting an infected memory stick. Experts say it took a massive expenditure of time, money, and software engineering talent to identify and exploit such vulnerabilities in industrial control software systems.

Unlike most malware, Stuxnet is not intended to help someone make money or steal proprietary data. Industrial control systems experts now have concluded, after nearly four months spent reverse engineering Stuxnet, that the world faces a new breed of malware that could become a template for attackers wishing to launch digital strikes at physical targets worldwide. Internet link not required. “Until a few days ago, people did not believe a directed attack like this was possible,” Ralph Langner, a German cyber-security researcher, told the Monitor in an interview. He was slated to present his findings at a conference of industrial control system security experts Tuesday in Rockville, Md. “What Stuxnet represents is a future in which people with the funds will be able to buy an attack like this on the black market. This is now a valid concern.”

A gradual dawning of Stuxnet’s purpose
It is a realization that has emerged only gradually. Stuxnet surfaced in June and, by July, was identified as a hypersophisticated piece of malware probably created by a team working for a nation state, say cyber security experts. Its name is derived from some of the filenames in the malware. It is the first malware known to target and infiltrate industrial supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software used to run chemical plants and factories as well as electric power plants and transmission systems worldwide. That much the experts discovered right away.

But what was the motive of the people who created it? Was Stuxnet intended to steal industrial secrets – pressure, temperature, valve, or other settings –and communicate that proprietary data over the Internet to cyber thieves? By August, researchers had found something more disturbing: Stuxnet appeared to be able to take control of the automated factory control systems it had infected – and do whatever it was programmed to do with them. That was mischievous and dangerous.

But it gets worse. Since reverse engineering chunks of Stuxnet’s massive code, senior US cyber security experts confirm what Mr. Langner, the German researcher, told the Monitor: Stuxnet is essentially a precision, military-grade cyber missile deployed early last year to seek out and destroy one real-world target of high importance – a target still unknown. “Stuxnet is a 100-percent-directed cyber attack aimed at destroying an industrial process in the physical world,” says Langner, who last week became the first to publicly detail Stuxnet’s destructive purpose and its authors’ malicious intent. “This is not about espionage, as some have said. This is a 100 percent sabotage attack.”

A guided cyber missile
On his website, Langner lays out the Stuxnet code he has dissected. He shows step by step how Stuxnet operates as a guided cyber missile. Three top US industrial control system security experts, each of whom has also independently reverse-engineered portions of Stuxnet, confirmed his findings to the Monitor. “His technical analysis is good,” says a senior US researcher who has analyzed Stuxnet, who asked for anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press. “We’re also tearing [Stuxnet] apart and are seeing some of the same things.”

Other experts who have not themselves reverse-engineered Stuxnet but are familiar with the findings of those who have concur with Langner’s analysis. “What we’re seeing with Stuxnet is the first view of something new that doesn’t need outside guidance by a human – but can still take control of your infrastructure,” says Michael Assante, former chief of industrial control systems cyber security research at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. “This is the first direct example of weaponized software, highly customized and designed to find a particular target.” “I’d agree with the classification of this as a weapon,” Jonathan Pollet, CEO of Red Tiger Security and an industrial control system security expert, says in an e-mail.

One researcher’s findings
Langner’s research, outlined on his website Monday, reveals a key step in the Stuxnet attack that other researchers agree illustrates its destructive purpose. That step, which Langner calls “fingerprinting,” qualifies Stuxnet as a targeted weapon, he says. Langner zeroes in on Stuxnet’s ability to “fingerprint” the computer system it infiltrates to determine whether it is the precise machine the attack-ware is looking to destroy. If not, it leaves the industrial computer alone. It is this digital fingerprinting of the control systems that shows Stuxnet to be not spyware, but rather attackware meant to destroy, Langner says.

Stuxnet’s ability to autonomously and without human assistance discriminate among industrial computer systems is telling. It means, says Langner, that it is looking for one specific place and time to attack one specific factory or power plant in the entire world. “Stuxnet is the key for a very specific lock – in fact, there is only one lock in the world that it will open,” Langner says in an interview. “The whole attack is not at all about stealing data but about manipulation of a specific industrial process at a specific moment in time. This is not generic. It is about destroying that process.”

So far, Stuxnet has infected at least 45,000 computers worldwide, Microsoft reported last month. Only a few are industrial control systems. Siemens this month reported 14 affected control systems, mostly in processing plants and none in critical infrastructure. Some victims in North America have experienced some serious computer problems, Eric Byres, an expert in Canada, told the Monitor. Most of the victim computers, however, are in Iran, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia. Some systems have been hit in Germany, Canada, and the US, too. Once a system is infected, Stuxnet simply sits and waits – checking every five seconds to see if its exact parameters are met on the system. When they are, Stuxnet is programmed to activate a sequence that will cause the industrial process to self-destruct, Langner says.

Langner’s analysis also shows, step by step, what happens after Stuxnet finds its target. Once Stuxnet identifies the critical function running on a programmable logic controller, or PLC, made by Siemens, the giant industrial controls company, the malware takes control. One of the last codes Stuxnet sends is an enigmatic “DEADF007.” Then the fireworks begin, although the precise function being overridden is not known, Langner says. It may be that the maximum safety setting for RPMs on a turbine is overridden, or that lubrication is shut off, or some other vital function shut down. Whatever it is, Stuxnet overrides it, Langner’s analysis shows. “After the original code [on the PLC] is no longer executed, we can expect that something will blow up soon,” Langner writes in his analysis. “Something big.”

For those worried about a future cyber attack that takes control of critical computerized infrastructure – in a nuclear power plant, for instance – Stuxnet is a big, loud warning shot across the bow, especially for the utility industry and government overseers of the US power grid. “The implications of Stuxnet are very large, a lot larger than some thought at first,” says Mr. Assante, who until recently was security chief for the North American Electric Reliability Corp. “Stuxnet is a directed attack. It’s the type of threat we’ve been worried about for a long time. It means we have to move more quickly with our defenses – much more quickly.”

Has Stuxnet already hit its target?
It might be too late for Stuxnet’s target, Langner says. He suggests it has already been hit – and destroyed or heavily damaged. But Stuxnet reveals no overt clues within its code to what it is after. A geographical distribution of computers hit by Stuxnet, which Microsoft produced in July, found Iran to be the apparent epicenter of the Stuxnet infections. That suggests that any enemy of Iran with advanced cyber war capability might be involved, Langner says. The US is acknowledged to have that ability, and Israel is also reported to have a formidable offensive cyber-war-fighting capability.

Could Stuxnet’s target be Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, a facility much of the world condemns as a nuclear weapons threat? Langner is quick to note that his views on Stuxnet’s target is speculation based on suggestive threads he has seen in the media. Still, he suspects that the Bushehr plant may already have been wrecked by Stuxnet. Bushehr’s expected startup in late August has been delayed, he notes, for unknown reasons. (One Iranian official blamed the delay on hot weather.)

But if Stuxnet is so targeted, why did it spread to all those countries? Stuxnet might have been spread by the USB memory sticks used by a Russian contractor while building the Bushehr nuclear plant, Langner offers. The same contractor has jobs in several countries where the attackware has been uncovered. “This will all eventually come out and Stuxnet’s target will be known,” Langner says. “If Bushehr wasn’t the target and it starts up in a few months, well, I was wrong. But somewhere out there, Stuxnet has found its target. We can be fairly certain of that.”

HOW IT WORKS
http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/media/security_response/whitepapers/w32_stuxnet_dossier.pdf
http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/stuxnet-print-spooler-zero-day-vulnerability-not-zero-day-all
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/10/stuxnet.html

Computer security experts are often surprised at which stories get picked up by the mainstream media. Sometimes it makes no sense. Why this particular data breach, vulnerability, or worm and not others? Sometimes it’s obvious. In the case of Stuxnet, there’s a great story.

As the story goes, the Stuxnet worm was designed and released by a government–the U.S. and Israel are the most common suspects–specifically to attack the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. How could anyone not report that? It combines computer attacks, nuclear power, spy agencies and a country that’s a pariah to much of the world. The only problem with the story is that it’s almost entirely speculation.

Here’s what we do know: Stuxnet is an Internet worm that infects Windows computers. It primarily spreads via USB sticks, which allows it to get into computers and networks not normally connected to the Internet. Once inside a network, it uses a variety of mechanisms to propagate to other machines within that network and gain privilege once it has infected those machines. These mechanisms include both known and patched vulnerabilities, and four “zero-day exploits”: vulnerabilities that were unknown and unpatched when the worm was released. (All the infection vulnerabilities have since been patched.)

Stuxnet doesn’t actually do anything on those infected Windows computers, because they’re not the real target. What Stuxnet looks for is a particular model of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) made by Siemens (the press often refers to these as SCADA systems, which is technically incorrect). These are small embedded industrial control systems that run all sorts of automated processes: on factory floors, in chemical plants, in oil refineries, at pipelines–and, yes, in nuclear power plants. These PLCs are often controlled by computers, and Stuxnet looks for Siemens SIMATIC WinCC/Step 7 controller software.

If it doesn’t find one, it does nothing. If it does, it infects it using yet another unknown and unpatched vulnerability, this one in the controller software. Then it reads and changes particular bits of data in the controlled PLCs. It’s impossible to predict the effects of this without knowing what the PLC is doing and how it is programmed, and that programming can be unique based on the application. But the changes are very specific, leading many to believe that Stuxnet is targeting a specific PLC, or a specific group of PLCs, performing a specific function in a specific location–and that Stuxnet’s authors knew exactly what they were targeting.

It’s already infected more than 50,000 Windows computers, and Siemens has reported 14 infected control systems, many in Germany. (These numbers were certainly out of date as soon as I typed them.) We don’t know of any physical damage Stuxnet has caused, although there are rumors that it was responsible for the failure of India’s INSAT-4B satellite in July. We believe that it did infect the Bushehr plant.

All the anti-virus programs detect and remove Stuxnet from Windows systems.

Stuxnet was first discovered in late June, although there’s speculation that it was released a year earlier. As worms go, it’s very complex and got more complex over time. In addition to the multiple vulnerabilities that it exploits, it installs its own driver into Windows. These have to be signed, of course, but Stuxnet used a stolen legitimate certificate. Interestingly, the stolen certificate was revoked on July 16, and a Stuxnet variant with a different stolen certificate was discovered on July 17.

Over time the attackers swapped out modules that didn’t work and replaced them with new ones–perhaps as Stuxnet made its way to its intended target. Those certificates first appeared in January. USB propagation, in March.

Stuxnet has two ways to update itself. It checks back to two control servers, one in Malaysia and the other in Denmark, but also uses a peer-to-peer update system: When two Stuxnet infections encounter each other, they compare versions and make sure they both have the most recent one. It also has a kill date of June 24, 2012. On that date, the worm will stop spreading and delete itself.

We don’t know who wrote Stuxnet. We don’t know why. We don’t know what the target is, or if Stuxnet reached it. But you can see why there is so much speculation that it was created by a government.

Stuxnet doesn’t act like a criminal worm. It doesn’t spread indiscriminately. It doesn’t steal credit card information or account login credentials. It doesn’t herd infected computers into a botnet. It uses multiple zero-day vulnerabilities. A criminal group would be smarter to create different worm variants and use one in each. Stuxnet performs sabotage. It doesn’t threaten sabotage, like a criminal organization intent on extortion might.

Stuxnet was expensive to create. Estimates are that it took 8 to 10 people six months to write. There’s also the lab setup–surely any organization that goes to all this trouble would test the thing before releasing it–and the intelligence gathering to know exactly how to target it. Additionally, zero-day exploits are valuable. They’re hard to find, and they can only be used once. Whoever wrote Stuxnet was willing to spend a lot of money to ensure that whatever job it was intended to do would be done.

None of this points to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, though. Best I can tell, this rumor was started by Ralph Langner, a security researcher from Germany. He labeled his theory “highly speculative,” and based it primarily on the facts that Iran had an unusually high number of infections (the rumor that it had the most infections of any country seems not to be true), that the Bushehr nuclear plant is a juicy target, and that some of the other countries with high infection rates–India, Indonesia, and Pakistan–are countries where the same Russian contractor involved in Bushehr is also involved. This rumor moved into the computer press and then into the mainstream press, where it became the accepted story, without any of the original caveats.

Once a theory takes hold, though, it’s easy to find more evidence. The word “myrtus” appears in the worm: an artifact that the compiler left, possibly by accident. That’s the myrtle plant. Of course, that doesn’t mean that druids wrote Stuxnet. According to the story, it refers to Queen Esther, also known as Hadassah; she saved the Persian Jews from genocide in the 4th century B.C. “Hadassah” means “myrtle” in Hebrew.

Stuxnet also sets a registry value of “19790509” to alert new copies of Stuxnet that the computer has already been infected. It’s rather obviously a date, but instead of looking at the gazillion things–large and small–that happened on that the date, the story insists it refers to the date Persian Jew Habib Elghanain was executed in Tehran for spying for Israel.

Sure, these markers could point to Israel as the author. On the other hand, Stuxnet’s authors were uncommonly thorough about not leaving clues in their code; the markers could have been deliberately planted by someone who wanted to frame Israel. Or they could have been deliberately planted by Israel, who wanted us to think they were planted by someone who wanted to frame Israel. Once you start walking down this road, it’s impossible to know when to stop.

Another number found in Stuxnet is 0xDEADF007. Perhaps that means “Dead Fool” or “Dead Foot,” a term that refers to an airplane engine failure. Perhaps this means Stuxnet is trying to cause the targeted system to fail. Or perhaps not. Still, a targeted worm designed to cause a specific sabotage seems to be the most likely explanation.

If that’s the case, why is Stuxnet so sloppily targeted? Why doesn’t Stuxnet erase itself when it realizes it’s not in the targeted network? When it infects a network via USB stick, it’s supposed to only spread to three additional computers and to erase itself after 21 days–but it doesn’t do that. A mistake in programming, or a feature in the code not enabled? Maybe we’re not supposed to reverse engineer the target. By allowing Stuxnet to spread globally, its authors committed collateral damage worldwide. From a foreign policy perspective, that seems dumb. But maybe Stuxnet’s authors didn’t care.

My guess is that Stuxnet’s authors, and its target, will forever remain a mystery.

This essay originally appeared on Forbes.com.

My alternate explanations for Stuxnet were cut from the essay. Here they are:

  • A research project that got out of control. Researchers have accidentally released worms before. But given the press, and the fact that any researcher working on something like this would be talking to friends, colleagues, and his advisor, I would expect someone to have outed him by now, especially if it was done by a team.
  • A criminal worm designed to demonstrate a capability. Sure, that’s possible. Stuxnet could be a prelude to extortion. But I think a cheaper demonstration would be just as effective. Then again, maybe not.
  • A message. It’s hard to speculate any further, because we don’t know who the message is for, or its context. Presumably the intended recipient would know. Maybe it’s a “look what we can do” message. Or an “if you don’t listen to us, we’ll do worse next time” message. Again, it’s a very expensive message, but maybe one of the pieces of the message is “we have so many resources that we can burn four or five man-years of effort and four zero-day vulnerabilities just for the fun of it.” If that message were for me, I’d be impressed.
  • A worm released by the U.S. military to scare the government into giving it more budget and power over cybersecurity. Nah, that sort of conspiracy is much more common in fiction than in real life.

Note that some of these alternate explanations overlap.

EDITED TO ADD (10/7): Symantec published a very detailed analysis. It seems like one of the zero-day vulnerabilities wasn’t a zero-day after all. Good CNet articleMore speculation, without any evidence. Decent debunking. Alternate theory, that the target was the uranium centrifuges in Natanz, Iran.

NATANZ
http://www.faz.net/s/RubCEB3712D41B64C3094E31BDC1446D18E/Doc~E8A0D43832567452FBDEE07AF579E893C~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html
http://frank.geekheim.de/?p=1189
Targeting the iranian enrichment centrifuges in Natanz? / 22.9.2010

I did a writeup of the stuxnet story so far for the large german newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), out in print today (now also online here ). Unfortunatelly the page-one teaser image chosen by the frontpage editor is outright silly, and the picture chosen by the FAZ for the main piece is the reactor in Bushehr, as the facility in Natanz is optically less attractive. But, hey, the story is what counts. I want to comment on some of the more detailed aspects here, that were not fit for the more general audience of the FAZ, and also outline my reasoning, why I think stuxnet might have been targeted at the uranium centrifuges in Natanz, instead of Bushehr as guessed by others.

stuxnet is a so far not seen publicly class of nation-state weapons-grade attack software. It is using four different zero-day exploits, two stolen certificates to get proper insertion into the operating system and a really clever multi-stage propagation mechanism, starting with infected USB-sticks, ending with code insertion into Siemens S7 SPS industrial control systems. One of the Zero-Days is a USB-stick exploit named LNK that works seamlessly to infect the computer the stick is put into, regardless of the Windows operating system version – from the fossile Windows 2000 to the most modern and supposedly secure Windows 7.

The stuxnet software is exceptionally well written, it makes very very sure that nothing crashes, no outward signs of the infection can be seen and, above all, it makes pretty sure that its final payload, which manipulates parameters and code in the SPS computer is only executed if it is very certain to be on the right system. In other words: it is extremly targeted and constructed and build to be as side-effect free as humanly possible. Words used by reverse engineers working on the the thing are “After 10 years of reverse-engineering malware daily, I have never ever seen anything that comes even close to this”, and from another “This is what nation states build, if their only other option would be to go to war”.

Industrial control systems, also called SCADA, are very specific for each factory. They consist of many little nodes, measuring temperature, pressure, flow of fluids or gas, they control valves, motors, whatever is needed to keep the often dangerous industrial processes within their safety and effectiveness limits. So both the hardware module configuration and the software are custom made for each factory. For stuxnet they look like an fingerprint. Only if the right configuration is identified, it does more then just spreading itself. This tells us one crucial thing: the attacker knew very precisely the target configuration. He must have had insider support or otherwise access to the software and configuration of the targeted facility.

I will not dive very much into who may be the author of stuxnet. It is clear that it has been a team effort, that a very well trained and financed team with lots of experience was needed, and that the ressources needed to be alocated to buy or find the vulnerabilities and develop them into the kind of exceptional zero-days used in the exploit. This is a game for nation state-sized entities, only two handful of governments and maybe as many very large corporate entities could manage and sustain such an effort to the achievment level needed to build stuxnet. As to whom of the capable candidates if could be: this is a trip into the Wilderness of Mirrors. False hints are most likely placed all over the place, so it does not make much sense to put much time into this exercise for me.

Regarding the target, things are more interesting. There is currently a lot of speculation that the Iranian reactor at Bushehr may have been the target. I seriouly doubt that, as the reactor will for political reasons only go on-line when Russia wants it to go on-line, which they drag on for many years now, to the frustration of Iran. The political calculations behind this game are complex and involve many things like the situation in Iraq, the US withdrawal plans and Russias unwillingness to let the US actually have free military and political bandwith to cause them trouble in their near abroad.

But there is another theory that fits the available date much better: stuxnet may have been targeted at the centrifuges at the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. The chain of published indications supporting the theory starts with stuxnet itself. According to people working on the stuxnet-analysis, it was meant to stop spreading in January 2009. Given the multi-stage nature of stuxnet, the attacker must have assumed that it has reached its target by then, ready to strike.

On July 17, 2009 WikiLeaks posted a cryptic notice:

Two weeks ago, a source associated with Iran’s nuclear program confidentially told WikiLeaks of a serious, recent, nuclear accident at Natanz. Natanz is the primary location of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. WikiLeaks had reason to believe the source was credible however contact with this source was lost. WikiLeaks would not normally mention such an incident without additional confirmation, however according to Iranian media and the BBC, today the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, has resigned under mysterious circumstances. According to these reports, the resignation was tendered around 20 days ago.

A cross-check with the official Iran Students News Agency archives confirmed the resignation of the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

According to official IAEA data, the number of actually operating centrifuges in Natanz shrank around the time of the accident Wikileaks wrote about was reduced substantially .

On 07. July 2009 the israeli news-site ynet-news.com posted a lengthy piece on possibly cyberwar against the Iran nuclear programm. Intriguingly, even contaminated USB-Sticks were mentioned. In retrospect, the piece sounds like an indirect announcement of a covert victory to allies and enemies.

That there are serious anti-proliferation efforts by all available means undertaken by western intelligence is not in doubt. .

There is further indication in the way stuxnet is actually working on the SPS-level. The current state of analysis seems to support the assumption, that the attack was meant to work synchronized and spread over many identical nodes. In a nuclear power plant, there are not many identical SPS-nodes, as there is a wide variety of subsystems of different kind. Compared to this, an enrichment centrifuge plant consists of thousands of identical units, arranged in serial patterns called cascades. Each of them is by necessity the same, as enrichment centrifuges are massively scaled by numbers. stuxnet would have infected each and every one, then triggering subtle of massive failures, depending on the choice of the attacker. To get an impression how the Natanz facility looks from the inside, Iranian President Ahamadinendjad has visited the place in April 2008.

So in summary, my guess is that stuxnet has been targeted at Natanz and that it achieved sucess in reducing the operational enrichment capability sucessfully. We will probably never be able to find out what really happened for sure, unless Iran comes forward with a post-mortem. Stuxnet will go down in history as the first example of a news class of malware, that has been engineered to weapons-grade performance with nearly no side-effects and pinpoint accuracy in delivering its sabotage payload.


Centrifuges acquired by Libya via the AQ Khan network

URANIUM PRODUCING STATES
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Qadeer_Khan
http://taiaglobal.com/?attachment_id=81
http://blogs.forbes.com/firewall/2010/11/22/dragons-tigers-pearls-and-yellowcake-4-stuxnet-targeting-scenarios/
Dragons, Tigers, Pearls, and Yellowcake: 4 Stuxnet Targeting Scenarios
by Jeffrey Carr / Nov. 22 2010

In all of the thousands of words that have been printed about Stuxnet, and the many interviews given, there’s been almost no discussion of alternative targeting scenarios for the Stuxnet worm. In fact, apart from my own work in this area, there’s been essentially two options discussed: 1 – the target was Natanz and/or Bushehr, or 2 – there’s no way to tell who the target was. That fact has greatly diminished the value of the discussion because by limiting it to one scenario, you cannot adequately engage in risk management – anticipating and defending against the threats yet to come – which is supposed to be your job if you’re in any type of security business.

To that end I’ve written a white paper ”Dragons, Tigers, Pearls, and Yellowcake: 4 Stuxnet Targeting Scenarios“, in which I describe four possible Stuxnet scenarios by examining the relationships that connect the “victim” states – a kind of cyber victomology. The title comes, in part, from the traditional animal symbolism of China and India – the dragon and the tiger.

The four scenarios are:
Rare-Earth Metals Producing States
Uranium-Producing States
Corporate Sabotage To Discredit Siemens AG
Protecting The Malacca Straits (the String of Pearls)

Due to the space and content limitations of this blog, I’m not able to reproduce the entire white paper here so what follows is a condensed version of the second scenario – an attack against uranium-producing states.

Attack Scenario #2: Uranium Producing States (Asia)

The list of states in Asia who are engaged in mining Uranium as well Uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication closely aligns with the list of states reporting Stuxnet infections.

Iran’s Natanz nuclear reactor has been mentioned in the press as a potential target however according to the IAEA, 2008 was the year that the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz suffered a significant drop in performance. The cause for that drop is not known but there is a lot of speculation ranging from incompetence to sabotage. Whatever the reason, it happened before the earliest Stuxnet sample was discovered (June, 2009).

Stuxnet has frequently been classified as a state or state-sponsored attack however starting in 2009 there’s been a marked increase of anti-nuclear power protests in Germany, Russia, Finland, and France by activist organizations like Ecodefense, ECOperestroika, Greenpeace, the Green League, and Ydinverkosto, a movement in northern Finland which opposes uranium mining and nuclear power. Finland is of particular interest since one of the two frequency convertor drives that Stuxnet issues commands to is made by a Finnish company, Vacon PLC. Some of the above-mentioned groups self-identify as anarchists and are on various law enforcement watchlists for engaging in acts of ecoterorism

Whether members of these groups have the requisite technical skill or the funds to create Stuxnet or similar malware is a matter for the respective state agencies to investigate.

Opportunity: Greenpeace is well-funded and has frequently conducted actions against nuclear facilities of the type that Stuxnet may be targeting. It is not known whether any members of Ydinverkosto are employed by Vacon or have contacts there.

Motive: Nuclear power plants, uranium mines, and Fuel Enrichment facilities are popular targets for environmental activists as well as eco-terrorists. The use of a virus like Stuxnet provides these groups with the ability to disrupt operations at targeted facilities with little to no risk to their members.

Means: Whether any of these groups have the resources or skill sets to develop, test, and launch this level of malware is unknown to the author at this time however Greenpeace France has been the victim of a cyber attack allegedly sponsored by French energy company EDF (see Attack Scenario #3 in the full report).

Assessment: More information is needed about the financial assets and technical capabilities of these environmental action groups before an accurate assessment can be made however these actors may pose a credible threat to this sector in the next few years.

FOR SALE?
http://www.debka.com/article/9169/
Brits declare war on Stuxnet. Americans say: Use it on North Korea / November 25, 2010

The Stuxnet virus which has crippled Iran’s nuclear program has suddenly become the object of a British MI6 Secret Service campaign to convince the British and American public that it is the enemy of the West and sold on the black market to terrorists, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report. Thursday morning, Nov. 25, Sky TV news led with a story claiming Stuxnet could attack any physical target dependent on computers. An unnamed Information Technology expert was quoted as saying enigmatically: “We have hard evidence that the virus is in the hands of bad guys – we can’t say any more than that but these people are highly motivated and highly skilled with a lot of money behind them.”

No one in the broadcast identified the “bad guys,” disclosed where they operated or when they sold the virus to terrorists. Neither were their targets specified, even by a row of computer and cyber-terrorism experts who appeared later on British television, all emphasizing how dangerous the virus was.

Our intelligence sources note that none of the British reporters and experts found it necessary to mention that wherever Stuxnet was discovered outside Iran, such as India, China and Indonesia, it was dormant. Computer experts in those countries recommended leaving it in place as it was harmless for computer programs and did not interfere with their operations. The fact is that the only place Stuxnet is alive and harmful is Iran – a fact ignored in the British reports.

Indeed, for the first time in the six months since Stuxnet partially disabled Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, Iran has found its first Western sympathizer, one who is willing to help defeat the malignant virus.

DEBKAfile’s sources note that the British campaign against Stuxnet was launched two days after Yukiya Amano, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, reported that Iran had briefly shut down its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, apparently because of a Stuxnet assault on thousands of centrifuges. According to our Iranian sources, the plant had to be closed for six days, from November 16-22.

Our sources also reported that the virus raided Iranian military computer systems, forcing the cancellation of parts of its large-scale air defense drill in the second week of November. Some of the systems used in the exercise started emitting wildly inaccurate data.

The Hate Stuxnet campaign London launched Thursday carried three messages to Tehran:
1. We were not complicit in the malworm’s invasion of your systems.
2. We share your view that Stuxnet is very dangerous and must be fought and are prepared to cooperate in a joint program to destroy it.
3. Britain will not line up behind the United States’ position in the nuclear talks to be resumed on Dec. 5 between Iran and the Six Powers (the five Permanent UN Security Council members + Germany). It will take a different position.
In the United States, meanwhile, DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that Stuxnet’s reappearance against Iran’s nuclear program is hailed. A number of American IT experts and journals specializing in cyber war have maintained of late that if the malworm is so successful against Iran, why not use it to disable North Korea’s nuclear program, especially the 2,000 centrifuges revealed on Nov. 20 to be operating at a new enrichment facility?

The popular American publication WIRED carried a headline on Monday, November 22, asking, “Could Stuxnet Mess With North Korea’s New Uranium Plant?” The article noted that some of the equipment North Korea was using for uranium enrichment was identical to Iranian apparatus and therefore perfect targets for the use of Stuxnet by American cyber experts.

NORTH KOREA
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/could-stuxnet-mess-with-north-koreas-new-uranium-plant/
Could Stuxnet Mess With North Korea’s New Uranium Plant?
Kim Zetter and Spencer Ackerman / November 22, 2010

The Stuxnet worm may have a new target. While security analysts try to figure out whether the now-infamous malware was built to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea has unveiled a new uranium enrichment plant that appears to share components with Iran’s facilities. Could Pyongyang’s centrifuges be vulnerable to Stuxnet?

While U.S. officials are trying to figure out how to respond to North Korea’s unveiling of a new uranium enrichment plant, there are clues that a piece of malware believed to have hit Iran’s nuclear efforts could also target the centrifuges Pyongyang’s preparing to spin.

Some of the equipment used by the North Koreans to control their centrifuges — necessary for turning uranium into nuclear-bomb-ready fuel — appear to have come from the same firms that outfitted the Iranian nuclear program, according to David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a long-time watcher of both nuclear programs. “The computer-control equipment North Korea got was the same Iran got,” Albright told Danger Room.

Nearly two months before the Yongbyon revelation, Albright published a study covering the little that’s publicly known about the North’s longstanding and seemingly stalled efforts at enriching its own uranium. (.pdf) Citing unnamed European intelligence officials, Albright wrote that the North Korean control system “is dual use, also used by the petrochemical industry, but was the same as those acquired by Iran to run its centrifuges.”

Albright doesn’t know for sure that the North Koreans’ control system is exactly like the one the Iranians use. Siegfried Hecker, the U.S. nuclear scientist invited by Pyongyang to view the Yongbyon facility,wasn’t allowed to check out the control room thoroughly, and his report about what he saw merely says that the control room is “ultra-modern,” decked out with flat-screen computer panels.

Nor is Albright to specify which company manufactured the control system — something that determines whether Stuxnet would have any potency. “But that’s really what the Stuxnet virus is taking over,” Albright says, “the control equipment, giving directions to the frequency converters.”

That suggests the vulnerabilities to Stuxnet suspected within Iran’s centrifuge-command systems might be contained within North Korea’s new uranium facility. Even if they’re not identical computer systems, Stuxnet demonstrated that the type of command systems employed in centrifuge-based enrichment is vulnerable to malware attack.

That’s not to say that Stuxnet is making its way inside the North Korean facility: Someone would have to infiltrate the Hermit Kingdom’s most sensitive sites and introduce the worm into the command systems, a hard bargain to say the least. In other words, don’t go thinking the United States or an ally could magically infect North Korea with Stuxnet. But if more information emerges about the North’s command systems, that might provide fodder for a copycat worm — provided someone could introduce it into Yongbyon.

Stuxnet was discovered last June by a Belorussian security firm, which found it on the computers of one of its unnamed clients in Iran. The sophisticated code is the first known malware designed to effectively target industrial control systems, also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA systems control various parts — such as automated assembly lines, pressure valves — at a wide variety of facilities, such as manufacturing plants, utilities and nuclear-enrichment plants.

Stuxnet targeted only a specific system made by Siemens — Simatic WinCC SCADA system — and only a specific configuration of the system. According to the latest findings uncovered by security firm Symantec, Stuxnet first looks for Simatic systems that are controlling two particular types of frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya in Teheran, Iran, or by Vacon, which is based in Finland.

Frequency converter drives are power supplies that control things such as the speed of a motor. Stuxnet only initiates its malicious activity, however, if there are at least 33 of these converter drives in place at the facility and if they are operating at a high speed between 807 Hz and 1210 Hz.

Such high speeds are used only for select applications, such as might be found at nuclear facilities. Speculation on Stuxnet’s likely target has focused on Iran’s nuclear facilities at Bushehr or Natanz. Symantec has been careful not to say definitively that Stuxnet was targeting a nuclear facility, but has noted that “frequency converter drives that output over 600 Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”

But according to a Department of Homeland Security official who spoke on background, frequency converter drives operate at this and similar high speeds in many facilities, not just nuclear plants.

“[They] are used anywhere you try to control a very precise process,” he says. They’re used extensively in the petro-chemical industry and in balancing machines that are used to build fan blades for jet engines. They’re also used for mining and metal manufacturing and in environments that require precise heating, cooling and ventilation. And they’re used in food processing for big mixers, conveyors and high-speed bottling lines.

As for the export limitation on high-speed drives that run above 600 Hz, the DHS official said this isn’t the only restriction on frequency converters. He notes that the Finnish manufacturer whose drives are targeted by Stuxnet requires buyers to have a special license to operate at frequencies exceeding 320 Hz — not out of concern that they would be used in a nuclear enrichment facility, but out of concern that they’re used properly.

“Because a lot of times you use them in very complex processes to develop exotic materials,” he says. “If you’re blending chemicals to create rocket fuel, you want to have this type of equipment be controlled so you need to have a license to purchase them, like you need a license to purchase bulk volumes of nitroglycerin.”

Albright was quick to add that the fact that “we don’t know much at all” about North Korea’s uranium enrichment means that “we can’t make judgments” about how vulnerable Pyongyang is to Stuxnet. It’s also possible that different command systems exist in facilities the United States doesn’t know about. “This could be a Potemkin centrifuge plant,” he says. “It’s so weird to put it at Yongbyon,” the center of North Korea’s plutonium production. “They obviously want to show it off,” Albright continues, perhaps “to distract us from their real centrifuge program.”

RUMORS
http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20018530-245.html
Stuxnet: Fact vs. Theory
by Elinor Mills / October 5, 2010

The Stuxnet worm has taken the computer security world by storm, inspiring talk of a top secret, government-sponsored cyberwar, and of a software program laden with obscure biblical references that call to mind not computer code, but “The Da Vinci Code.” Stuxnet, which first made headlines in July, (CNET FAQ here) is believed to be the first known malware that targets the controls at industrial facilities such as power plants. At the time of its discovery, the assumption was that espionage lay behind the effort, but subsequent analysis by Symantec uncovered the ability of the malware to control plant operations outright, as CNET first reported back in mid-August.

What’s the real story on Stuxnet?
A German security researcher specializing in industrial-control systems suggested in mid-September that Stuxnet may have been created to sabotage a nuclear power plant in Iran. The hype and speculation have only grown from there. Here’s a breakdown of fact versus theory regarding this intriguing worm.

Theory: The malware was distributed by Israel or the United States in an attempt to interfere with Iran’s nuclear program.
Fact: There’s no hard evidence as to who is behind the malware or even what country or operation was the intended target, though it’s clear most of the infections have been in Iran (about 60 percent, followed by Indonesia at about 18 percent and India at close to 10 percent, according to Symantec). Rather than establishing the target for Stuxnet, that statistic could merely indicate that Iran was less diligent about using security software to protect its systems, said Eric Chien, technical director of Symantec Security Response.

German researcher Ralph Langner speculates that the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran could be a target because it is believed to run the Siemens software Stuxnet was written to target. Others suspect the target was actually the uranium centrifuges in Natanz, a theory that seems more plausible to Gary McGraw, chief technology officer of Cigital. “Everyone seems to agree that Iran is the target, and data regarding the geography of the infection lends credence to that notion,” he writes.

In July 2009, Wikileaks posted a notice (formerly here, but unavailable at publication time) that said:

Two weeks ago, a source associated with Iran’s nuclear program confidentially told WikiLeaks of a serious, recent, nuclear accident at Natanz. Natanz is the primary location of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. WikiLeaks had reason to believe the source was credible, however contact with this source was lost. WikiLeaks would not normally mention such an incident without additional confirmation, however according to Iranian media and the BBC, today the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, has resigned under mysterious circumstances. According to these reports, the resignation was tendered around 20 days ago.

On his blog, Frank Rieger, chief technology officer at security firm GSMK in Berlin, confirmed the resignation through official sources. He also noted that the number of operating centrifuges in Natanz shrank significantly around the time the accident mentioned by Wikileaks purportedly happened, based on data from Iran’s Atom Energy Agency.

An Iranian intelligence official said this weekend that authorities had detained several “spies” connected to cyberattacks against its nuclear program. Iranian officials have said that 30,000 computers were affected in the country as part of “electronic warfare against Iran,” according to The New York Times. Iran’s Mehr news agency quoted a top official in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology as saying that the effect of “this spy worm in government systems is not serious” and had been “more or less” halted, the Times report said. The project manager at the Bushehr nuclear plant said workers there were trying to remove the malware from several affected computers, though it “has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant,” according to an Associated Press report. Officials at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said the Bushehr plant opening was delayed because of a “small leak” that had nothing to do with Stuxnet. Meanwhile, Iran’s Intelligence Minister, commenting on the situation over the weekend, said a number of “nuclear spies” had been arrested, though he declined to provide further details, according to the Tehran Times.

Specialists have hypothesized that it would take the resources of a nation state to create the software. It uses two forged digital signatures to sneak software onto computers and exploits five different Windows vulnerabilities, four of which are zero-day (two have been patched by Microsoft). Stuxnet also hides code in a rootkit on the infected system and exploits knowledge of a database server password hardcoded into the Siemens software. And it propagates in a number of ways, including through the four Windows holes, peer-to-peer communications, network shares, and USB drives. Stuxnet involves inside knowledge of Siemens WinCC/Step 7 software as it fingerprints a specific industrial control system, uploads an encrypted program, and modifies the code on the Siemens programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that control the automation of industrial processes like pressure valves, water pumps, turbines, and nuclear centrifuges, according to various researchers.

Symantec has reverse engineered the Stuxnet code and uncovered some references that could bolster the argument that Israel was behind the malware, all presented in this report (PDF). But it’s just as likely that the references are red herrings designed to divert attention away from the actual source. Stuxnet, for instance, will not infect a computer if “19790509” is in a registry key. Symantec noted that that could stand for the May 9, 1979 date of a famous execution of a prominent Iranian Jew in Tehran. But it’s also the day a Northwestern University graduate student was injured by a bomb made by the Unabomber. The numbers could also represent a birthday, some other event, or be completely random. There are also references to two file directory names in the code that Symantec said could be Jewish biblical references: “guavas” and “myrtus.” “Myrtus” is the Latin word for “Myrtle,” which was another name for Esther, the Jewish queen who saved her people from death in Persia. But “myrtus” could also stand for “my remote terminal units,” referring to a chip-controlled device that interfaces real-world objects to a distributed control system such as those used in critical infrastructure. “Symantec cautions readers on drawing any attribution conclusions,” the Symantec report says. “Attackers would have the natural desire to implicate another party.”

Theory: Stuxnet is designed to sabotage a plant, or blow something up.
Fact:Through its analysis of the code, Symantec has figured out the intricacies of files and instructions that Stuxnet injects into the programmable logic controller commands, but Symantec doesn’t have the context involving what the software is intended to do, because the outcome depends on the operation and equipment infected. “We know that it says to set this address to this value, but we don’t know what that translates to in the real world,” Chien said. To map what the code does in different environments, Symantec is looking to work with experts who have experience in multiple critical infrastructure industries.

Symantec’s report found the use of “0xDEADF007” to indicate when a process has reached its final state. The report suggests that it may refer to Dead Fool or Dead Foot, which refers to engine failure in an airplane. Even with those hints, it’s unclear whether the suggested intention would be to blow a system up or merely halt its operation.

In a demonstration at the Virus Bulletin Conference in Vancouver late last week, Symantec researcher Liam O’Murchu showed the potential real world effects of Stuxnet. He used an S7-300 PLC device connected to an air pump to program the pump to run for three seconds. He then showed how a Stuxnet-infected PLC could change the operation so the pump ran for 140 seconds instead, which burst an attached balloon in a dramatic climax, according to Threat Post.

Theory: The malware has already done its damage.
Fact: That actually could be the case and whomever was targeted has simply not disclosed it publicly, experts said. But, again, there’s no evidence of this. The software has definitely been around long enough for lots of things to have happened. Microsoft learned of the Stuxnet vulnerability in early July, but its research indicates that the worm was under development at least a year prior to that, said Jerry Bryant, group manager for Microsoft Response Communications. “However, according to an article that appeared last week in Hacking IT Security Magazine, the Windows Print Spooler vulnerability (MS10-061) was first made public in early 2009,” he said. “This vulnerability was independently rediscovered during the investigation of the Stuxnet malware by Kaspersky Labs and reported to Microsoft in late July of 2010.” “They’ve been doing this for almost a year,” Chien said. “It’s possible they hit their target again and again.”

Theory: The code will stop spreading on June 24, 2012.
Fact: There is a “kill date” encoded into the malware, and it is designed to stop spreading on June 24, 2012. However, infected computers will still be able to communicate via peer-to-peer connections, and machines that are configured with the wrong date and time will continue to spread the malware after that date, according to Chien.

Theory: Stuxnet caused or contributed to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill at Deepwater Horizon.
Fact: Unlikely, though Deepwater Horizon did have some Siemens PLC systems on it, according to F-Secure.

Theory: Stuxnet infects only critical infrastructure systems.
Fact: Stuxnet has infected hundreds of thousands of computers, mostly home or office PCs not connected to industrial control systems, and only about 14 such systems, a Siemens representative told IDG News Service.

And more theories and predictions abound. F-Secure’s blog discusses some theoretical possibilities for Stuxnet. “It could adjust motors, conveyor belts, pumps. It could stop a factory. With [the] right modifications, it could cause things to explode,” in theory, the blog post says. Siemens, the F-Secure post continues, announced last year that the code that Stuxnet infects “can now also control alarm systems, access controls, and doors. In theory, this could be used to gain access to top secret locations. Think Tom Cruise and ‘Mission Impossible.'”

Symantec’s Murchu outlines a possible attack scenario on CNET sister site ZDNet. And Rodney Joffe, senior technologist at Neustar, calls Stuxnet a “precision guided cybermunition” and predicts that criminals will try to use Stuxnet to infect ATMs run by PLCs to steal money from the machines. “If you ever needed real world evidence that malware could spread that ultimately could have life or death ramifications in ways people just don’t accept, this is your example,” said Joffe.

Google: ‘By no means should Google Maps be used as a reference to decide military actions between two countries.’


Current incorrect border in Google Earth, showing the S-shaped river course.

http://www.nacion.com/2010-11-04/ElPais/NotasSecundarias/ElPais2577867.aspx
http://searchengineland.com/nicaragua-raids-costa-rica-blames-google-maps-54885
Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps
by Matt McGee / Nov 4, 2010

An error on Google Maps has caused an international conflict in Central America. A Nicaraguan military commander, relying on Google Maps, moved troops into an area near San Juan Lake along the border between his country and Costa Rica. The troops are accused of setting up camp there, taking down a Costa Rican flag and raising the Nicaraguan flag, doing work to clean up a nearby river, and dumping the sediment in Costa Rican territory. La Nacion — the largest newspaper in Costa Rica — says the Nicaraguan commander, Eden Pastora, used Google Maps to “justify” the incursion even though the official maps used by both countries indicate the territory belongs to Costa Rica. The paper points out that Bing Maps shows the correct and officially recognized border. A Google spokesperson in Central America told La Nacion that the company doesn’t know the source of the maps error. Earlier this summer, Google announced that it made “significant improvements to our borders for over 60 countries and regions.” The Cambodian government has previously accused Google of being “radically misleading” in how it shows the border between it and Thailand. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Costa Rica — a country without a military. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla went on national TV last night and asked citizens to “be calm and firm, amid the outrage that these events provoke within us.”

Postscript: Our wording above, which implies that Pastora looked at Google Maps before moving troops into the region, may be incorrect. From reading additional news reports and speaking with journalists from the Tico Times, it sounds likely that the troops were already in the area before Google Maps was used to review the disputed border.


Map provided by Costa Rica to the ICJ

COSTA RICA
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gsZBBN97zCXC3sSElhRkh4_wG5lA?docId=CNG.b7b0e11361e7847889195c6db3707f9e.9f1

Costa Rica on Saturday stepped up pressure on international mediators to engage in its territory dispute with Nicaragua, after Google Maps was cited in an incident that saw the neighboring countries dispatch forces to their joint border. The Internet search giant joined the fray after a Nicaraguan commander cited Google’s version of the border map in an interview with Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion to justify a raid on a disputed border area. The area is hotly disputed by the two neighbors, and Costa Rica has asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate the alleged violations of its territory. OAS Secretary General Jose Manuel Insulza is touring both countries in a bid to mediate the dispute. On Saturday, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said she was prepared to take the dispute to the UN Security Council if the OAS cannot find a solution. “Costa Rica is seeing its dignity smeared and there is a sense of great national urgency” to resolve this problem, Chinchilla said after meeting Insulza. A discussion with US State Department officials led Google to conclude that “there was indeed an error in the compilation of the source data, by up to 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles),” for its map of the region, the company said Friday. Google geopolicy analyst Charlie Hale said in a Google blogpost that the State Department provided a corrected version and “we are now working to update our maps.”

The error lies in Google’s depiction of the border in part of the Caribbean coast, near the San Juan River, the center of the dispute between San Jose and Managua that arose over Nicaragua’s dredging of a river separating the two countries. Hale said Google’s map of the area will be corrected to follow the demarcation laid out in an 1897 arbitration award of a previous border treaty. “The corrected version will follow the east bank of the San Juan River going northward, nearly to the Caribbean. It will then turn eastward and follow the southern shoreline of a large lagoon, Laguna los Portillos,” he explained. The Nicaraguan government demanded that Google reject Costa Rica’s request to change the depiction of the border, which it called “correct.” “I officially request that (the border marking) not be modified,” Foreign Minister Samuel Santos asked Google representative Jeffrey Hardy. Hale noted that cartography is a “complex undertaking,” borders constantly change and “there are inevitably going to be errors” in the data. Costa Rica and Nicaragua have clashed since the 19th century over navigation rights for the San Juan River, which runs along half the frontier between the two countries. Nicaragua has denied sending troops over the border, as claimed by Costa Rica, which says Nicaraguan soldiers have crossed the waterway, pitched tents on a disputed island and raised their country’s flag there. On Tuesday, Costa Rica, which does not have an army, dispatched fresh security forces to the border to bolster 150 agents sent earlier to the region, the scene of increasingly heated cross-border tensions since October 18.


Map provided by Nicaragua to the ICJ

v NICARAGUA
http://www.ticotimes.net/News/Daily-News/Nicaragua-s-President-Accuses-Costa-Rica-of-Trying-to-Steal-Rio-San-Juan_Tuesday-November-02-2010/(offset)/10
http://www.insidecostarica.com/dailynews/2010/november/07/costarica10110705.htm
Nicaragua Asks Google NOT To Change Its Map On Border With Costa Rica

Nicaragua is asking the internet giant Google not to change its maps with respect Isla Calero while it continues its border dispute with Costa Rica and the dredging of the San Juan river. The request came from Nicaragua’s foreign minister, Samuel Santos, in a letter sent to Jeffrey Hardy at Google, a copy of which was made available to the press. The Nicaraguan request is based on arguments made earlier this week by Eden Pastora “commander cero”, in charge of the dredging operations, relying on Google Maps to identify the border, resulting in an international dispute that is currently before the Organization of American States (OAS).

In his letter, Foreign Minister Santos confirms the request to Google by the executive director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INET), Alejandro Rodriguez, in charge of the official maps of Nicaragua, not to accept an alleged request from Costa Rica to change the border between both countries in their satellite mapping service. “This letter is to confirm and reiterate the official request of Dr. Rodriguez made on behalf of Ineter to not accept the request that Costa Rica has to do, or can do to amend the line of the border with Nicaragua that appears, and has been popping up on Google maps,” noted Foreign Minister Santos in the letter.


Map attached to the Sept. 30, 1897 Arbitration Award

GOOGLE ANSWERS; BLAMES STATE DEPT.
http://ogleearth.com/2010/11/about-costa-rica-nicaragua-their-border-and-google/
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/11/regarding-boundary-between-costa-rica.html
Regarding the boundary between Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:52 PM

Update (11/8/10): For those interested in reading more about the history of this dispute, consider checking out Stefan Geens’ thorough post over at Ogle Earth [most image on this page were found here too].

Yesterday we became aware of a dispute that referenced the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua as depicted on Google Maps. This morning, after a discussion with the data supplier for this particular border (the U.S. Department of State), we determined that there was indeed an error in the compilation of the source data, by up to 2.7 kilometers. The U.S. Department of State has provided a corrected version and we are now working to update our maps. Unlike our current depiction, the corrected version will follow the east bank of the San Juan River going northward, nearly to the Caribbean. It will then turn eastward and follow the southern shoreline of a large lagoon, Laguna los Portillos. This depiction follows the demarcation laid out in the First Award of Arbitration of 1897, which affirmed the Cañas-Jerez Treaty of 1858. It is our goal to provide the most accurate, up-to-date maps possible. Maps are created using a variety of data sources, and there are inevitably going to be errors in that data. We work hard to correct any errors as soon as we discover them. Given the complexity of the issue, I thought that I’d take this opportunity to provide some additional historical context.

The dispute in this area goes back to at least the mid-19th century, and both the International Court of Justice and the United Nations have weighed in. The dispute mainly centers around control of the mouth of the San Juan River, and was recently reignited because of dredging activity in this location. In 1888, U.S. President Grover Cleveland was called upon by Nicaragua and Costa Rica to arbitrate the dispute. That year, the New York Times published President Cleveland’s decision. The 1888 Arbitration upheld the 1858 treaty and its terms.

Then, in 1897, Cleveland sent Edward P. Alexander to do a more detailed Arbitration Award for this region. Alexander went into great detail on the San Juan river boundary and drew the map depicted above. Once our updates go live in Google Earth and Maps we will be depicting the border according to the most recent and definitive records available. But as we know, cartography is a complex undertaking, and borders are always changing. We remain committed to updating our maps as needed.

PREVIOUS GOOGLE MAPS DISPUTES:
CAMBODIA v THAILAND
http://searchengineland.com/cambodia-calls-google-maps-misleading-over-thailand-border-dispute-35567
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSGE61406G20100205
Cambodia blasts Google map of disputed Thai border
by Prak Chan Thul & Martin Petty / 2.5.2010

Cambodia has hit out at Google over what it called a “radically misleading” map of the disputed Thai-Cambodia border, accusing the world’s biggest search engine of being “professionally irresponsible”. Cambodia, which is embroiled in a bitter diplomatic row with Thailand over the demarcation of the frontier, said the Google Earth map was “devoid of truth and reality” and called for its immediate removal because it was not internationally recognized. Cambodia made the complaint in a letter issued a day ahead of the first-ever visit to the border region by its outspoken prime minister, Hun Sen, a move likely to raise tension between the historic foes. “(The map) is devoid of truth and reality, and professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious,” Svay Sitha, secretary of state of the Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, wrote in the letter seen by Reuters on Friday. “We therefore request that you withdraw the already disseminated, very wrong and not internationally recognized map and replace it,” he said. Both countries have a heavy military presence along the border, where deadly clashes have occurred in the past three years.

At the centre of the row is the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, ownership of which was awarded to Cambodia in a 1962 international court ruling. However, many Thais have never fully accepted the decision and the temple has been used by both countries to stoke nationalist fervor. Thailand last year withdrew its pledge of support for Cambodia to list Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World Heritage site, arguing that jurisdiction of land around the temple had never been settled. The move angered Hun Sen, who has since formed a provocative alliance with exiled Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, giving him a base close to home in his fight to bring down the Thai government. Hun Sen is accused by Bangkok of colluding with the billionaire, offering him a home and a job as an economic adviser, to escalate a five-year political crisis in Thailand.

DOTTED LINES
http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021249.html
Disputed Territory? Google Maps Localizes Borders Based on Local Laws / 12.1.2009

Did you know that there are countries out there that have a dispute on where their border begins and ends? Yea, you know that. But did you know that Google will show different borders depending on how and where you access Google Maps?

Google Maps Help thread has a post from Brian from the Google Maps team who explains how this works. He said: It is Google’s standard practice to show all disputed regions around the world on its global properties, such as on maps.google.com. It has been Google’s consistent and global policy to depict disputed regions as per the claims made by the disputing/claiming nations on its global properties. This does not in any way endorse or affirm the position taken by any side but merely provides complete information on the prevailing geo-political situation to our users of global properties in a dispassionate and accurate manner. Products that have been localized to the local domain of a region such as maps.google.co.in may depict that country’s position as per the mandate of their local laws

For example, compare Google India Maps to Google Maps and you will see the border lines look a bit different. Here are screen captures:

Google Maps India, The Border:
Google Maps India Border

Google Maps US, The Border:
Google Maps in US India Border

Notice the dotted lines in the US map, how it doesn’t seem sure.

IMPROVING BORDER QUALITY
http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/12/when-sources-disagree-borders-and-place.html
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/07/improving-quality-of-borders-in-google.html
Improving the quality of borders in Google Earth and Maps
by Charlie Hale, Google Geo Policy Analyst / July 20, 2010

“At Google, we are constantly making improvements to all of our products, from Search to Gmail, Blogger to Chrome. When it comes to products like Google Earth and Google Maps, we work hard to improve our cartography and depict geopolitical features as accurately as possible. Last year, we discussed the ways we strive towards that accuracy, and today we are happy to announce some significant improvements to our borders for over 60 countries and regions (the updates are live in Maps and are coming to Google Earth shortly). To provide some background on this update, we thought we would take the opportunity to talk a bit more about our approach to mapping geopolitical features like borders.

Making Google’s mapping tools as accurate as possible is a complex process, especially when a map’s accuracy has both quantitative and qualitative aspects. We receive spatial data of all kinds – imagery, boundaries, place names, etc. – from a variety of sources worldwide, and we review them carefully before integrating them into the best representation of a given location in Google Earth and Maps. In the case of geopolitical features on our maps, the depiction of borders is something upon which local authorities, governments and internationally recognized bodies often disagree. Our goal is to provide the most legible and accurate maps we can given the information available in these oft-changing areas of geopolitical disagreement. Like most maps, ours include symbology that makes borders and other geopolitical features clearer to users. For example, we employ various boundary styles in Google Earth and Maps to clarify the current status of boundary lines, viewable here in the Help Center.

Similar to satellite imagery, boundary data is available in varying levels of resolution; the higher the resolution, the better the boundaries will follow specific geographic features, such as rivers. While we always strive to display the on-the-ground reality of a boundary’s position, in practice some boundary lines are not as accurate as we would like them to be due to the available resolution of our boundary data. With these improvements, many borders will now more closely follow natural boundaries such as mountains and rivers. The pictures below show a portion of the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which follows the Pamir Mountain Range, near the Zervashan River. As you’ll see, the new data follows the mountain ridgeline quite closely, even when zoomed in, which is a great improvement in positional accuracy.

before:

after:

In some areas we have improved our qualitative accuracy by changing the symbology of the boundary lines to reflect the updated status of a treaty or agreement based on political changes, new agreements or negotiations. This portion of the border between Ethiopia and Somalia changed from solid (yellow in Google Earth) – meaning “international” – to dashed (red in Google Earth) – meaning “disputed” – to reflect the ground-based reality that the two countries maintain an ongoing dispute in the Ogaden region.

before:

after:

In other cases our previous boundaries lacked key details and the new data provides more information. For example, we now show a disputed island near the borders of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina:

before:

after:

There are many other examples of both quantitative and qualitative changes we’ve made to improve our maps and we invite you to explore them. We will certainly continue to update and improve upon the borders and other geopolitical features in Google Earth and Maps, keeping in mind that the dynamic nature of such areas presents a significant cartographic challenge. Mapping is a field where there is never total agreement, but we try to do our best and will continue to develop new ways to meet these challenges. As always, we are happy to hear from our users with any questions and concerns about our approach to these complex issues.”

BABY COME BACK  | TEXAS v IRAN (cont.)

| PETROCURRENCY GLOSSARY |

the PETRODOLLAR
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-petrodollar.htm

“A petrodollar is a dollar earned by selling petroleum. Petrodollars flow into members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at a steady rate, and flow out at an almost equally steady rate as these countries invest petrodollars overseas. In fact, often money makes a round trip, flowing from a country like the United States to an OPEC member which in turn reinvests the funds in the United States. Prices for oil sales are generally given in United States Dollars (USD). In 1973, economist Ibrahim Oweiss wanted to come up with a term to describe the large volumes of currency changing hands as a result of oil sales. He coined the portmanteau “petrodollar,” referring to “petroleum” and the United States Dollar. People also use the term “oil money” or “petrocurrency” to describe petrodollars, although “petrocurrency” is also sometimes confusingly used to refer to the currency used by an oil producing country.

At various points in history, OPEC members have literally made more petrodollars than they knew what to do with. Rising oil prices resulted in such a flood of currency that these countries were unable to invest it on internal development projects. As a result, many nations started engaging in a practice known as petrodollar recycling, in which they promptly reinvest the currency in banks in regions like Europe and North America. Changes in oil prices can lead to ebbs and flows in the movement of the petrodollar and in the investment funds available to OPEC members. Some of these nations rely heavily on income from oil sales and are placed at a disadvantage when prices are depressed. In regions such as Dubai, the profound impact of petroleum sales on regional economies can be seen firsthand in the form of extravagant and rapid development reflecting the increasing wealth of some members of the population.

While the bulk of oil sales are conducted in USD and prices are quoted in USD, some countries have opted to sell in other currencies. The dominance of the USD in global commerce is credited in part to the petrodollar, and some theorists have suggested that changing economic trends may result in petrodollar warfare, in which there will be a push to denominate oil sales in other currencies. If, for example, the world switched to the petroeuro, based on the currency of the European Union, the United States Dollar might weaken as a result.”

for EXAMPLE
http://www.linkedin.com/in/josephevers
Investment Management industry, 2003 — Present (7 years )
“I created and ran a privately-held blackbox hedge fund based off of a proprietary, in-house FIX protocol implementation. We cribbed custom algorithms from bioinformatics, were the first to apply autocorrelation attacks to the market, and first to apply wavelets to price stochastics. As part of the management of this fund, we created our own international shipping arm to ease exploitation of petrodollar/petroeuro arbitrage. The chief chunks of our fund are global macro, managed futures and short bias, but you name it– options, swaps, rate agreements, bonds– we trade it in the course of a given week.”

PETRODOLLAR WARFARE
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html
http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/13/2010/3954
Petrodollar warfare: Dollars, Euros and the upcoming Iranian oil bourse
by William R. Clark / August 05 2005

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous…Having said that, all options are on the table.” — President George W. Bush, February 2005

Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian “petroeuro” system for oil trade. Similar to the Iraq war, military operations against Iran relate to the macroeconomics of ‘petrodollar recycling’ and the unpublicized but real challenge to U.S. dollar supremacy from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency.



It is now obvious the invasion of Iraq had less to do with any threat from Saddam’s long-gone WMD program and certainly less to do to do with fighting International terrorism than it has to do with gaining strategic control over Iraq’s hydrocarbon reserves and in doing so maintain the U.S. dollar as the monopoly currency for the critical international oil market. Throughout 2004 information provided by former administration insiders revealed the Bush/Cheney administration entered into office with the intention of toppling Saddam.[1][2] Candidly stated, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ was a war designed to install a pro-U.S. government in Iraq, establish multiple U.S military bases before the onset of global Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency ( i.e. “petroeuro”).[3] However, subsequent geopolitical events have exposed neoconservative strategy as fundamentally flawed, with Iran moving towards a petroeuro system for international oil trades, while Russia evaluates this option with the European Union.

In 2003 the global community witnessed a combination of petrodollar warfare and oil depletion warfare. The majority of the world’s governments – especially the E.U., Russia and China – were not amused – and neither are the U.S. soldiers who are currently stationed inside a hostile Iraq. In 2002 I wrote an award-winning online essay that asserted Saddam Hussein sealed his fate when he announced on September 2000 that Iraq was no longer going to accept dollars for oil being sold under the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, and decided to switch to the euro as Iraq’s oil export currency.[4] Indeed, my original pre-war hypothesis was validated in a Financial Times article dated June 5, 2003, which confirmed Iraqi oil sales returning to the international markets were once again denominated in U.S. dollars – not euros.

The tender, for which bids are due by June 10, switches the transaction back to dollars — the international currency of oil sales – despite the greenback’s recent fall in value. Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq’s oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq’s recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar. [5]



The Bush administration implemented this currency transition despite the adverse impact on profits from Iraqi’s export oil sales.[6] (In mid-2003 the euro was valued approx. 13% higher than the dollar, and thus significantly impacted the ability of future oil proceeds to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure). Not surprisingly, this detail has never been mentioned in the five U.S. major media conglomerates who control 90% of information flow in the U.S., but confirmation of this vital fact provides insight into one of the crucial – yet overlooked – rationales for 2003 the Iraq war.

Concerning Iran, recent articles have revealed active Pentagon planning for operations against its suspected nuclear facilities. While the publicly stated reasons for any such overt action will be premised as a consequence of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there are again unspoken macroeconomic drivers underlying the second stage of petrodollar warfare – Iran’s upcoming oil bourse. (The word bourse refers to a stock exchange for securities trading, and is derived from the French stock exchange in Paris, the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs.)

In essence, Iran is about to commit a far greater “offense” than Saddam Hussein’s conversion to the euro for Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York’s NYMEX and London’s IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism.[7] The proposed Iranian oil bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project of U.S. global domination, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil market.



From the autumn of 2004 through August 2005, numerous leaks by concerned Pentagon employees have revealed that the neoconservatives in Washington are quietly – but actively – planning for a possible attack against Iran. In September 2004 Newsweek reported:

Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran. The Defense Department unit responsible for military planning for the two troublesome countries is “busier than ever,” an administration official says. Some Bush advisers characterize the work as merely an effort to revise routine plans the Pentagon maintains for all contingencies in light of the Iraq war. More skittish bureaucrats say the updates are accompanied by a revived campaign by administration conservatives and neocons for more hard-line U.S. policies toward the countries…’

…administration hawks are pinning their hopes on regime change in Tehran – by covert means, preferably, but by force of arms if necessary. Papers on the idea have circulated inside the administration, mostly labeled “draft” or “working draft” to evade congressional subpoena powers and the Freedom of Information Act. Informed sources say the memos echo the administration’s abortive Iraq strategy: oust the existing regime, swiftly install a pro-U.S. government in its place (extracting the new regime’s promise to renounce any nuclear ambitions) and get out. This daredevil scheme horrifies U.S. military leaders, and there’s no evidence that it has won any backers at the cabinet level. [8]

Indeed, there are good reasons for U.S. military commanders to be ‘horrified’ at the prospects of attacking Iran. In the December 2004 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows reported that numerous high-level war-gaming sessions had recently been completed by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel who has run war games at the National War College for the past two decades.[9] Col. Gardiner summarized the outcome of these war games with this statement, “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers: You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.” Despite Col. Gardiner’s warnings, yet another story appeared in early 2005 that reiterated this administration’s intentions towards Iran. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s article in The New Yorker included interviews with various high-level U.S. intelligence sources. Hersh wrote:

In my interviews [with former high-level intelligence officials], I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’ the former [CIA] intelligence official told me. But the [Bush administration officials] say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned – not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there. [10]

The most recent, and by far the most troubling, was an article in The American Conservative by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi. His article, “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,” suggested the resurrection of active U.S. military planning against Iran – but with the shocking disclosure that in the event of another 9/11-type terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office wants the Pentagon to be prepared to launch a potential tactical nuclear attack on Iran – even if the Iranian government was not involved with any such terrorist attack against the U.S.:

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. [11]

Why would the Vice President instruct the U.S. military to prepare plans for what could likely be an unprovoked nuclear attack against Iran? Setting aside the grave moral implications for a moment, it is remarkable to note that during the same week this “nuke Iran” article appeared, the Washington Post reported that the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of Iran’s nuclear program revealed that, “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years.”[12] This article carefully noted this assessment was a “consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, [and in] contrast with forceful public statements by the White House.” The question remains, Why would the Vice President advocate a possible tactical nuclear attack against Iran in the event of another major terrorist attack against the U.S. – even if Tehran was innocent of involvement?



Perhaps one of the answers relates to the same obfuscated reasons why the U.S. launched an unprovoked invasion to topple the Iraq government – macroeconomics and the desperate desire to maintain U.S. economic supremacy. In essence, petrodollar hegemony is eroding, which will ultimately force the U.S. to significantly change its current tax, debt, trade, and energy policies, all of which are severely unbalanced. World oil production is reportedly “flat out,” and yet the neoconservatives are apparently willing to undertake huge strategic and tactical risks in the Persian Gulf. Why? Quite simply – their stated goal is U.S. global domination – at any cost.

To date, one of the more difficult technical obstacles concerning a euro-based oil transaction trading system is the lack of a euro-denominated oil pricing standard, or oil ‘marker’ as it is referred to in the industry. The three current oil markers are U.S. dollar denominated, which include the West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), Norway Brent crude, and the UAE Dubai crude. However, since the summer of 2003 Iran has required payments in the euro currency for its European and Asian/ACU exports – although the oil pricing these trades was still denominated in the dollar.[13]

Therefore a potentially significant news story was reported in June 2004 announcing Iran’s intentions to create of an Iranian oil bourse. This announcement portended competition would arise between the Iranian oil bourse and London’s International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), as well as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). [Both the IPE and NYMEX are owned by U.S. consortium, and operated by an Atlanta-based corporation, IntercontinentalExchange, Inc.]

The macroeconomic implications of a successful Iranian bourse are noteworthy. Considering that in mid-2003 Iran switched its oil payments from E.U. and ACU customers to the euro, and thus it is logical to assume the proposed Iranian bourse will usher in a fourth crude oil marker – denominated in the euro currency. This event would remove the main technical obstacle for a broad-based petroeuro system for international oil trades. From a purely economic and monetary perspective, a petroeuro system is a logical development given that the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the U.S., and the E.U. accounted for 45% of exports sold to the Middle East. (Following the May 2004 enlargement, this percentage likely increased).



Despite the complete absence of coverage from the five U.S. corporate media conglomerates, these foreign news stories suggest one of the Federal Reserve’s nightmares may begin to unfold in the spring of 2006, when it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for $60 dollars on the NYMEX and IPE – or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 – €50 euros via the Iranian Bourse. This assumes the euro maintains its current 20-25% appreciated value relative to the dollar – and assumes that some sort of US “intervention” is not launched against Iran. The upcoming bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world – global oil and gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no longer be able to effortlessly expand credit via U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar’s demand/liquidity value will fall.

It is unclear at the time of writing if this project will be successful, or could it prompt overt or covert U.S. interventions – thereby signaling the second phase of petrodollar warfare in the Middle East. Regardless of the potential U.S. response to an Iranian petroeuro system, the emergence of an oil exchange market in the Middle East is not entirely surprising given the domestic peaking and decline of oil exports in the U.S. and U.K, in comparison to the remaining oil reserves in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. What we are witnessing is a battle for oil currency supremacy. If Iran’s oil bourse becomes a successful alternative for international oil trades, it would challenge the hegemony currently enjoyed by the financial centers in both London (IPE) and New York (NYMEX), a factor not overlooked in the following (UK) Guardian article:

Iran is to launch an oil trading market for Middle East and Opec producers that could threaten the supremacy of London’s International Petroleum Exchange.

…Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other OPEC producers that western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility. [emphasis added]

The IPE, bought in 2001 by a consortium that includes BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was unwilling to discuss the Iranian move yesterday. “We would not have any comment to make on it at this stage,” said an IPE spokeswoman. [14]

During an important speech in April 2002, Mr. Javad Yarjani, an OPEC executive, described three pivotal events that would facilitate an OPEC transition to euros.[15] He stated this would be based on (1) if and when Norway’s Brent crude is re-dominated in euros, (2) if and when the U.K. adopts the euro, and (3) whether or not the euro gains parity valuation relative to the dollar, and the EU’s proposed expansion plans were successful. Notably, both of the later two criteria have transpired: the euro’s valuation has been above the dollar since late 2002, and the euro-based E.U. enlarged in May 2004 from 12 to 22 countries. Despite recent “no” votes by French and Dutch voters regarding a common E.U. Constitution, from a macroeconomic perspective, these domestic disagreements do no reduce the euro currency’s trajectory in the global financial markets – and from Russia and OPEC’s perspective – do not adversely impact momentum towards a petroeuro. In the meantime, the U.K. remains uncomfortably juxtaposed between the financial interests of the U.S. banking nexus (New York/Washington) and the E.U. financial centers (Paris/Frankfurt).

The most recent news reports indicate the oil bourse will start trading on March 20, 2006, coinciding with the Iranian New Year.[16] The implementation of the proposed Iranian oil Bourse – if successful in utilizing the euro as its oil transaction currency standard – essentially negates the previous two criteria as described by Mr. Yarjani regarding the solidification of a petroeuro system for international oil trades. It should also be noted that throughout 2003-2004 both Russia and China significantly increased their central bank holdings of the euro, which appears to be a coordinated move to facilitate the anticipated ascendance of the euro as a second World Reserve Currency. [17] [18] China’s announcement in July 2005 that is was re-valuing the yuan/RNB was not nearly as important as its decision to divorce itself form a U.S. dollar peg by moving towards a “basket of currencies” – likely to include the yen, euro, and dollar.[19] Additionally, the Chinese re-valuation immediately lowered their monthly imported “oil bill” by 2%, given that oil trades are still priced in dollars, but it is unclear how much longer this monopoly arrangement will last.

Furthermore, the geopolitical stakes for the Bush administration were raised dramatically on October 28, 2004, when Iran and China signed a huge oil and gas trade agreement (valued between $70 – $100 billion dollars.) [20] It should also be noted that China currently receives 13% of its oil imports from Iran. In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, the U.S.-administered Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) nullified previous oil lease contracts from 1997-2002 that France, Russia, China and other nations had established under the Saddam regime. The nullification of these contracts worth a reported $1.1 trillion created political tensions between the U.S and the European Union, Russia and China. The Chinese government may fear the same fate awaits their oil investments in Iran if the U.S. were able to attack and topple the Tehran government. Despite U.S. desires to enforce petrodollar hegemony, the geopolitical risks of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would surely create a serious crisis between Washington and Beijing.

It is increasingly clear that a confrontation and possible war with Iran may transpire during the second Bush term. Clearly, there are numerous tactical risks regarding neoconservative strategy towards Iran. First, unlike Iraq, Iran has a robust military capability. Secondly, a repeat of any “Shock and Awe” tactics is not advisable given that Iran has installed sophisticated anti-ship missiles on the Island of Abu Musa, and therefore controls the critical Strait of Hormuz – where all of the Persian Gulf bound oil tankers must pass.[22] The immediate question for Americans? Will the neoconservatives attempt to intervene covertly and/or overtly in Iran during 2005 or 2006 in a desperate effort to prevent the initiation of euro-denominated international crude oil sales? Commentators in India are quite correct in their assessment that a U.S. intervention in Iran is likely to prove disastrous for the United States, making matters much worse regarding international terrorism, not to the mention potential effects on the U.S. economy.

…If it [ U.S.] intervenes again, it is absolutely certain it will not be able to improve the situation…There is a better way, as the constructive engagement of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has shown…Iran is obviously a more complex case than Libya, because power resides in the clergy, and Iran has not been entirely transparent about its nuclear programme, but the sensible way is to take it gently, and nudge it to moderation. Regime change will only worsen global Islamist terror, and in any case, Saudi Arabia is a fitter case for democratic intervention, if at all. [21]

A successful Iranian bourse will solidify the petroeuro as an alternative oil transaction currency, and thereby end the petrodollar’s hegemonic status as the monopoly oil currency. Therefore, a graduated approach is needed to avoid precipitous U.S. economic dislocations. Multilateral compromise with the EU and OPEC regarding oil currency is certainly preferable to an ‘Operation Iranian Freedom,’ or perhaps another CIA-backed coup such as operation “Ajax” from 1953. Despite the impressive power of the U.S. military, and the ability of our intelligence agencies to facilitate ‘interventions,’ it would be perilous and possibly ruinous for the U.S. to intervene in Iran given the dire situation in Iraq. The Monterey Institute of International Studies warned of the possible consequences of a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities:

An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities…could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran’s international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. [23]

Synopsis:
It is not yet clear if a U.S. military expedition will occur in a desperate attempt to maintain petrodollar supremacy. Regardless of the recent National Intelligence Estimate that down-played Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program, it appears increasingly likely the Bush administration may use the specter of nuclear weapon proliferation as a pretext for an intervention, similar to the fears invoked in the previous WMD campaign regarding Iraq. If recent stories are correct regarding Cheney’s plan to possibly use a another 9/11 terrorist attack as the pretext or casus belli for a U.S. aerial attack against Iran, this would confirm the Bush administration is prepared to undertake a desperate military strategy to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while simultaneously attempting to prevent the Iranian oil Bourse from initiating a euro-based system for oil trades.

However, as members of the U.N. Security Council; China, Russia and E.U. nations such as France and Germany would likely veto any U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Resolution calling the use of force without solid proof of Iranian culpability in a major terrorist attack. A unilateral U.S. military strike on Iran would isolate the U.S. government in the eyes of the world community, and it is conceivable that such an overt action could provoke other industrialized nations to strategically abandon the dollar en masse. Indeed, such an event would create pressure for OPEC or Russia to move towards a petroeuro system in an effort to cripple the U.S. economy and its global military presence. I refer to this in my book as the “rogue nation hypothesis.”

While central bankers throughout the world community would be extremely reluctant to ‘dump the dollar,’ the reasons for any such drastic reaction are likely straightforward from their perspective – the global community is dependent on the oil and gas energy supplies found in the Persian Gulf. Hence, industrialized nations would likely move in tandem on the currency exchange markets in an effort to thwart the neoconservatives from pursuing their desperate strategy of dominating the world’s largest hydrocarbon energy supply. Any such efforts that resulted in a dollar currency crisis would be undertaken – not to cripple the U.S. dollar and economy as punishment towards the American people per se – but rather to thwart further unilateral warfare and its potentially destructive effects on the critical oil production and shipping infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran’s euro-denominated oil bourse will open in March 2006. Logically, the most appropriate U.S. strategy is compromise with the E.U. and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes…known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. — James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Footnotes:
[1]. Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’ Neill, Simon & Schuster publishers (2004)
[2]. Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Free Press (2004)
[3]. William Clark, “Revisited – The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth,” January 2003 (updated January 2004) http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html
[4]. Peter Philips, Censored 2004, The Top 25 Censored News Stories, Seven Stories Press, (2003) General website for Project Censored: http://www.projectcensored.org/ Story #19: U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq http://www.projectcensored.org/publications/2004/19.html
[5]. Carol Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, “Iraq returns to the international oil market,” Financial Times, June 5, 2003
[6]. Faisal Islam, “Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,” [UK] Guardian, February 16, 2003 http://observer.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,896344,00.html
[7]. “Oil bourse closer to reality,” IranMania.com, December 28, 2004. Also see: “Iran oil bourse wins authorization,” Tehran Times, July 26, 2005
[8]. “War-Gaming the Mullahs: The U.S. weighs the price of a pre-emptive strike,” Newsweek, September 27 issue, 2004. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6039135/site/newsweek/
[9]. James Fallows, ‘Will Iran be Next?,’ Atlantic Monthly, December 2004, pgs. 97 – 110
[10]. Seymour Hersh, “The Coming Wars,” The New Yorker, January 24th – 31st issue, 2005, pgs. 40-47 Posted online January 17, 2005. Online: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050124fa_fact
[11]. Philip Giraldi, “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,” American Conservative, August 1, 2005
[12]. Dafina Linzer, “Iran Is Judged 10 Years From Nuclear Bomb U.S. Intelligence Review Contrasts With Administration Statements,” Washington Post, August 2, 2005; Page A01
[13]. C. Shivkumar, “Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms,” The Hindu Business Line (June 16, ` 2003). http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/bline/2003/06/17/stories/ 2003061702380500.htm
[14]. Terry Macalister, “Iran takes on west’s control of oil trading,” The [UK] Guardian, June 16, 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1239644,00.html
[15]. “The Choice of Currency for the Denomination of the Oil Bill,” Speech given by Javad Yarjani, Head of OPEC’s Petroleum Market Analysis Dept, on The International Role of the Euro (Invited by the Spanish Minister of Economic Affairs during Spain’s Presidency of the EU) (April 14, 2002, Oviedo, Spain) http://www.opec.org/NewsInfo/Speeches/sp2002/spAraqueSpainApr14.htm
[16]. “Iran’s oil bourse expects to start by early 2006,” Reuters, October 5, 2004 http://www.iranoilgas.com
[17]. “Russia shifts to euro as foreign currency reserves soar,” AFP, June 9, 2003 http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7214-3.cfm
[18]. “China to diversify foreign exchange reserves,” China Business Weekly, May 8, 2004 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-05/08/content_328744.htm
[19]. Richard S. Appel, “The Repercussions from the Yuan’s Revaluation,” kitco.com, July 27, 2005 http://www.kitco.com/ind/appel/jul272005.html
[20]. China, Iran sign biggest oil & gas deal,’ China Daily, October 31, 2004. Online: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-10/31/content_387140.htm
[21]. “Terror & regime change: Any US invasion of Iran will have terrible consequences,” News Insight: Public Affairs Magazine, June 11, 2004 http://www.indiareacts.com/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=908&ctg=World
[22]. Analysis of Abu Musa Island, http://www.globalsecurity.org http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/abu-musa.htm
[23]. Sammy Salama and Karen Ruster, “A Preemptive Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences,” Monterry Institute of International Studies, August 12, 2004 (updated September 9, 2004)http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/040812.htm

KUWAIT FIREFIGHTER INTERVIEW
http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/3620.cfm
Interview with Author Frank Touby / September 9, 2010

Worldpress: In your book “Burning Sands” you write about your experience fighting the oilfield fires in Kuwait that Saddam Hussein lit 19 years ago. You got a position as a trainee oilfield firefighter with Safety Boss Ltd., of Calgary, Alberta, to essentially better entrench yourself as a journalist. Some of the scenes you describe are quite intense. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Frank Touby: It was the most fascinating and virtuous adventure of my life. We worked 14-hour days with no days off, and yet we were eager to get out there again at the start of each day. When we quenched a fire on a wild well that had been burning for five or more months we pinched off a toxic smoke trail that had stretched for thousands of miles around the earth. As the tail end of that noxious smoke stream trailed into the sky there was such a sense of exhilaration that came with participating in a truly worthy effort. I especially gained an appreciation for the skills and intelligence of farm boys, who provide most of the labor in the oil patch. They can operate almost any piece of heavy equipment for the first time just by looking at it. They are smart, dependable and energetic. I’m a guy whose career resulted from formal education and had an inclination to disregard such people whose work gets them dirty and who speak in less-than-correct English. Never again. On the other hand, these guys were so strong, so competent in their rightwing universes, that many of them couldn’t imagine others being truly needy of aid that government properly must provide. Not entirely their fault.

WP: Can you elaborate on that last point? What do you mean by “so competent in their rightwing universes…”?
FT: Sure. They were brought up in that rugged frontier milieu of independence, strength, self-made personhood and self-reliance. You look after yourself, your buds and your family in that model and everyone else does the same. So there is no need for crooked politicians or carpet-bagging bureaucrats to come in and tell you what to do with your land, your property and yourself. The men I worked with at Safety Boss, the blowout company, were Canadians mainly from Alberta and Saskatchewan. But it was very much the same with many of them. Mike Miller, the owner of Safety Boss, was not like that at all. He is a more urbane, philosophical man and a great, considerate leader. His company set a world record that likely will never be duplicated: 126 wild wells “killed” in five months. It probably won’t ever happen again because nobody will again set so many wells ablaze. There’s no point to it since it’s now proven that the wild wells can be quenched in a relatively short period of time. But nobody knew that at the time Saddam had his troops and sappers spend over a year preparing 700-plus wells to be torched.

WP: What did it teach you about the effects of war over resources?
FT: I must admit to having a jaded view that didn’t come from my experiences in Kuwait, but from events that transpired ever since. In short, I think war is almost a requirement to keep certain resources scarce and their prices high. Monopoly also serves that purpose—as it does with diamonds and with oil refineries that produce gasoline. War also accommodates the needs of the cabal Dwight Eisenhower warned us against as he left the presidency in 1961: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” So far we have failed.

WP: How do you think the BP oil spill compares to the oil fires in Kuwait?
FT: Aside from being wild wells, they couldn’t be more dissimilar. While the desert in Kuwait was aflame with over 700 oil fires, BP managed to contaminate an area larger than that from a single well. Kuwait was heartless and malicious; BP, to the best of our knowledge, was heartless and incompetent. I fear the harm from BP will both overshadow the severity and outlast the harm from six months of wild wells in Kuwait.

WP: What do you think government’s role should be in getting developed countries off oil?
FT: There’s no excuse for our dependency on oil from any source. It’s solely caused by the control transnational corporations hold over governments. Alcohol (ethanol) is a better fuel than petroleum: higher octane, clean burning, endlessly renewable. It’s what the Model T Ford originally used before J. D. Rockefeller gave huge funds to the Women’s Christian Temperance League to get it outlawed, allegedly so his oil wells would be worth a fortune. (It’s detailed in David Blume’s book “Alcohol Can Be a Gas: Fueling an Ethanol Revolution for the 21st Century.”) Ethanol poses a threat to corporate monopolists because it can be produced by little guys, in contrast to the millions of dollars worth of refinery that it takes to produce gasoline. Ethanol doesn’t have to be made from corn grain, which is an atrocity since that’s a food crop. Almost any vegetable matter will work, including corn stalks that normally go to waste. Bulrushes, or cattails, are especially productive. Government’s role should be to encourage such oil replacements, but that won’t happen so long as corporatists control politicians and corporations are considered equal to real human beings in our laws.

WP: Do you have any ideas as to how people can break that corporate stronghold? Because you’re right; in the United States, for example, we’ve seen Congress’ attempt at an energy bill fail miserably. Certainly corporate influence had something to do with that.
FT: Yes. The situation in Canada is nearly the same as in the U.S. Corporations buy politicians and universities. The latter are the principal mechanisms of corruption since universities produce the civil service and also issue the various scientific dictates that are used to justify regulations favored by their corporate patrons. The effects of purchased politicians need no explanation. In Canada both the Liberal and Conservative parties are on the same corporatist pages, just as Republicans and Democrats are identically compromised in the States. Government ministries or departments, such as the regulators of pharmaceuticals and broadcasters, function as advocates for the corporations they’re nominally regulating. The solution is simple to state and perhaps impossible to remedy, short of a revolution either by law or by arms. It requires an end to corporate personhood: the ridiculous notion that a business corporation has human rights identical to those of real human beings. That was recently confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court (Citizens United vs. FEC), which ruled that corporations mustn’t be denied the human right of freedom of speech by limiting the money they can spend on election campaigns. The result will naturally be that corporations can own any elections they choose. Enabled by government “regulators,” junk-food giants wreck the health of billions of people with unhealthful restaurant fare; farm and chemical oligopolies harm our food supplies; drug giants waste our health resources by ignoring or concealing unprofitable health alternatives while inventing new “diseases” and investing their research dollars on marketing schemes to sell prescription cures for such contrivances as “acid reflux disease” (aka, “heartburn,” effectively countered with baking soda); oil companies write their own environmental rules. Practically everything government regulates is now compromised by multinational corporations for their profit purposes. An intermediate step to remediate the harm might be to change tax codes in the U.S. and Canada, since both nations have well-established different tax categories for corporations than for individuals. Prohibit businesses from deducting any expenses and require them to report all worldwide revenues. It would have marked impact on each economy to start with, since many businesses and charities exist because of corporations’ abilities to write off related expenses. It would eliminate “charitable” deeds that are done in corporate names, but really those are promotional expenses. Corporations and all businesses can’t be expected to operate in any way except in their own interests. Regulation by government is needed to avoid oligopolies and other cancerous growths that strangle free enterprise or harm consumers and workers.
Universities should be prohibited from accepting funds from individuals or corporations to ensure their independence from corruption. They should be entirely funded by government, which has a responsibility to provide education just as it has to provide the military, healthcare, currency, police, fire departments, roads, regulation of enterprise and so forth. In other words, using the phrase of Seattle-based radio commentator Thom Hartmann, it’s incumbent on government to ensure and maintain “The Commons” that comprise civilization.

the PETROEURO
http://tradecrudeoil.coremach.com/capitalism-under-attack-petrodollars-petroeuros-and-the-iranian-oil-bourse/
Petrodollars, Petroeuros and the Iranian Oil Bourse
by Luigi Frascati / 2007

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous […]. Having said that, all the options are on the table” (President George W. Bush, February 2005)

Who would have ever imagined it?
Forget about the Prophet Mohammed, Islam, the Koran, President Ahmadinejad and his nuclear program, Islamofascism and all the umpah-pah. The Mullahs do not like American Dollars anymore. As reported by Reuters UK ([http://rtv.rtrlondon.co.uk/2006-12-18/3e56a070.html]) Iran announced that it has ordered its Central Bank to start using Euros for foreign transactions, and to transform the nation’s Dollar-denominated assets held abroad into the single European currency. “The government has ordered the Central Bank to replace the Dollar with the Euro to limit the problems of the executive organs in commercial transactions,” government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters.

Coming from OPEC’s fourth oil producer, this is a move that will undoubtedly have both deep economic reverberations and grave political consequences worldwide. It would certainly appear that rather than ‘wiping out Israel’ from the face of the planet, Iran is setting the tempo to wipe out American capitalism and influence everywhere. To understand the implications of such a move in financial affairs, one has to first revert to the importance of money in our economic systems and the effects that the ravages of inflation have over it.

Money is one of man’s most amazing inventions. Imagine the difficulty of our daily lives without those metal coins and coloured pieces of paper. To make any kind of transaction – from shopping for groceries to purchasing a real estate asset – you would have to find someone who had what you want and who wanted what you have, and then the two of you could barter. In a world with thousands of products, one would spend most of the time looking for trading partners and devoting very little time to actually earn an income. The alternative to avoid having to find trading partners would be for each and everyone of us to do a little bit of everything by ourselves.

But with money on the scene everything becomes more straightforward, simple and less time-consuming, and all of us can increase our productivity by and through specialization – that is doing what we do best, and then trade with our partners. As a direct and proximate consequence of our increased productivity, each of us can therefore become richer. It is easy to lose sight of the very basic economic point that we all owe a large part of our high living standards to the existence of money, its possession and the spending power that stems out of it. But there is a catch: money works best when its value is stable over time. And this is nowhere more true than in international trade.

Economically speaking, the power of the American Dollar and its influence in economic and financial affairs worldwide was born during the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held at Bretton Wood, New Hampshire in July 1944. The Conference was attended by the delegates of all 45 allied nations directly and indirectly involved in the fight against the powers of the Axis – Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy, and their socio-economic doctrines. As a result of the Bretton Woods Conference, a system of exchange rate among different currencies was set up anchored on the American Dollar, which was made convertible to gold – the common denominator and measure of wealth worldwide. Thus, the American Dollar became de facto the reserve currency of the world, accepted and traded everywhere. This system remained in place until the early 1970’s and it allowed countries to accumulate reserves in American Dollars, as opposed to gold.

When in 1970-1971 an economically resurgent Western Europe began demanding payment for their US Dollars, as it became clear that the American Government did not have enough gold reserves to buy back all those Dollars, the US Treasury under the Nixon Administration rather than defaulting on its payment ‘de-anchored’ the Greenback – that is it severed the link between the Dollar and gold. To avoid an international collapse of the American currency in world markets, however, the US treasury had to substitute gold with another valuable commodity so as to entice foreign countries to keep their foreign reserves in Dollars and to continue accepting the American currency.

Thus in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement was made with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. Dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only American Dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil-producing countries, it now had the reason to hold Dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world’s demand for Dollars could only increase. Even though Dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil. The Petrodollar was born.



In 2000, the first man who actually began demanding Euros for his oil was none other than Saddam Hussein of Iraq – and we all know what has happened to him. To be more specific, in fact, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (1937-2006), former President of Iraq, made two strategic mistakes, the second one of which would ultimately cost him his neck – literally. Firstly, on August 2, 1990 he invaded Kuwait, a country very friendly with both the United Kingdom and the United States, and holding approximately ten percent of the world’s oil reserves. Saddam, furthermore, became a real threat to Saudi Arabia as well. By invading Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia, Saddam breached the Carter Doctrine postulated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, which states that “[…] an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The Carter Doctrine was later on upheld by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 with National Security Directive 26, which declares that “Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states in the area are vital to U.S. national security […].” The Gulf War ensued in January 1991.



The second mistake of Saddam was to start demanding payment for his oil in Euros. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business the need arose to make an example of anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. Dollars. The punishment came with the worsening of the geo-political situation after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and an increased perception and worry about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction – which he had used extensively against the Kurds and his own citizens. President Bush’s Shock-and-Awe intervention in Iraq followed, which ultimately brought about the demise of the Iraqi dictator.



Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian “petroeuro” system for oil trade – the Iranian Oil Bourse (‘Bourse’ is the French word for Stock Exchange). The proposed Iranian Oil Bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the Euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade.

This is so, because the Europeans would no longer have to buy and hold Dollars in order to secure their payment for oil, but would instead pay with their own currency. The adoption of the Euro for oil transactions would provide the European currency with a reserve status that would benefit the European at the expenses of the Americans. Given U.S. foreign debt levels and trade deficit, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on the Dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil markets, and America can hardly afford that to happen. It is really a case of lethal economic terrorism and financial warfare, a matter of life and death.

And speaking of economic terrorism and financial warfare, it is very interesting and worth mentioning the link between oil and Euros on one side and Iran’s nuclear programme on the other side that Gholam Hossein Elham has made during the foresaid announcement. He has stated: “They (the Westerners) should put an end to their hostilities towards our nation and should also be aware that we are capable of achieving nuclear technology through very transparent and legal methods – something that they must respect. They must not waste their time with venting hostility against this nation, otherwise they will be harmed, more so than us.”

If Iran follows up with the intention to charge Euros for its oil, the upcoming Iranian Bourse will introduce Petroeuros currency hedging in direct competition with traditional Petrodollars. More than that, in political terms, it will pit America, Israel and Sunni Islam against Iran, Syria and Shiite Islam and will fundamentally create new dynamics and competition into the biggest markets in the world – those of global oil and gas trade. One of the Federal Reserve’s nightmares may well begin to unfold if it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for USD 60 on the NYMEX and IPE – or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 – €50 through the Iranian Bourse. In essence, America would no longer be able to expand effortlessly its debt-financing with the issuance of US Treasury bills, and the international demand and liquidity of the American Dollar would fall. This is a very good reason to go to war.

PREVIOUSLY on SPECTRE : CABLE CUT CONSPIRACIES
https://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/how-to-run-a-traceroute-cable-cut-conspiracies-cont/
http://www.ilovebonnie.net/2008/02/13/google-maps-version-of-the-2008-submarine-cable-cuts/
http://www.ilovebonnie.net/2008/02/06/submarine-cables-subsidiares-and-subversion/
Undersea Cable Cuts and the Iranian Oil Bourse

“Through the research that I have exhaustingly done over the past few days, this is the one that has struck me as the most likely reason for the damages that have occurred to submarine internet cables. The Iranian oil bourse is going to be a stock market for petroluem, petrochemicals and gas. What’s the big catch here? The exchange planned on being ran with currencies excluding the U.S. dollar. If you remember from earlier in the post, Iran stopped allowing purchases of their oil with the U.S. dollar in December of 2007. So, obviously, the U.S. is not going to be happy about this. The biggest piece of information linking this to the recent damages is the proposed location of the bourse: the island of Kish. This is the island that is right next to at least two of the cuts that have recently occurred…”

IRAN OIL BOURSE
http://www.iranbourse.com/Default.aspx?tabid=215
http://www.islamidavet.com/english/2010/09/12/kish-island-open-to-foreign-investment/
http://www.oil-price.net/en/articles/iranian-oil-bourse-opening.php
Iranian Oil Bourse Opens
by Steve Austin / 2008.02.06

The Iranian Oil Bourse establishing Euro-based pricing of oil is set to open on February 17th 2008 and could have devastating effects on the US dollar. Currently all three major oil markets (WTI, NYMEX, IPE) trade barrels of oil in US dollars. Consequently any country buying oil needs dollars to pay for it. This enables the US Federal Reserve to issue huge volumes of dollars to meet increasing demand for oil. In return oil producing nations invest dollar proceeds in US treasury bills, allowing for the current US budget deficit. But this balance may become unsettled after a fourth major oil market opens this month, trading in Euros: the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB).

Unlike other bourses, the IOB relies on a peer-to-peer trading model, using the Internet. IOB has been in the works for several years and encountered many hurdles on the way, the last of which are severed underwater internet cables creating an Internet outage throughout the Middle East days before the IOB’s opening and prompting conspiracy theories. In recent years the US has outfitted some of its submarines with the capability to splice optical fiber underwater so these theories may not be far-fetched. Having the world’s second largest oil reserves of 136 gigabarrels, Iran will likely extend its influence on financial markets when the IOB opens. Although under-reported by the media, this historical shift and its consequences should be watched closely.

GOVERNMENT-MADE BUBBLE?
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2010/09/29/feature-irans-bourse-booms-despite-sanctions/
Iran’s bourse booms despite sanctions
by Robin Pomeroy / Sep 30, 2010

In the busy foyer of the Tehran Stock Exchange an old woman in a black chador clutches her shopping bag and gazes up hopefully at the electronic display showing the latest share prices. Like the other Iranians bustling past her, she is betting on a market that has soared to record highs despite ever-tightening international sanctions, lackluster oil prices and political uncertainty after last year’s disputed presidential election. While U.S. diplomats were busy upping Iran’s economic punishment over nuclear activities Washington fears are aimed at making a bomb, Iranian shares, which might have been expected to fall, have, instead, gone through the roof. Tehran’s Tepix index has risen 65 percent to all-time highs this year. Its latest record was set on Sept. 18, when it hit 18,658, up from 11,295 at the start of the year. By comparison, New York’s S&P 500 Index has made no major gains this year as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the financial crisis.

Officials say privatisation, cheap valuations and moves to cut red tape and encourage private investors have lured Iranians away from the once-booming property market, the traditional home of the Iranian nest egg, which stagnated in late 2008. The world’s fifth-largest oil exporter hopes to raise $12.5 billion by privatising over 500 state firms during the 2010-11 year, and plans to sell all of its refineries and petrochemicals units, promising potential investors a solid pipeline of IPOs. Iranians are also increasingly reluctant to park their spare cash in the bank, where interest on instant access savings has fallen from about 12.5 percent three years ago to 6 percent now. Those rates seem healthy compared to Western economies, where central bank rates are near zero, but are no match for the rewards promised by a bourse which already boasts more than 330 listed firms and a market capitalisation above $70 billion.

Speaking in his office on the upper floors of the stock exchange, bourse chief Hassan Ghalibaf Asl summed up the logic: “The opportunities and good factors affecting the growth of the capital market and attracting investors are more important, and the weight of them is more, than bad factors.” Few dispute however, that the bad factors are there. From a lack of transparency to tightening sanctions, myriad challenges belie the Tehran Stock Exchange’s stellar performance. Firms related to the elite Revolutionary Guards and other state bodies have bought large stakes in privatised companies, further muddying the waters between public and private in a country where powerful quasi-official foundations pervade.

Last year, a consortium linked to the Revolutionary Guards took a controlling stake in the Telecommunications Company of Iran for $7.8 billion, raising concern that some firms being put up for sale are just being transferred within the public sector. Investments by these vast semi-official or politically connected organisations have caused the surges in stock prices that small investors have been happy to ride, Meir Javedanfar, an Iran expert at Middle East analysis firm Meepas, said. “Very few stock exchanges have record gains in a country where sanctions, economic isolation, unemployment and inflation are increasing,” he said. “All indicators point to this boom being a government-made bubble. It’s difficult to predict when it will burst.” Even in parliament, questions are being asked about the disconnect between soaring share prices and an economy facing not just sanctions but looming cuts to multi-billion-dollar state subsidies that currently guarantee cheap fuel to domestic industries and reduce the cost of goods for Iranian consumers. Many small investors are ordinary Iranians, who could end up suffering the most if boom turns to bust.

Sheltering from the blazing sun under the porticos of the bourse building, a man sits on a fold-out stool and sells economics text books laid at his feet on sheets of newspaper. Traders, the majority apparently amateurs, pass him on their way inside to swap rumours as they crowd around touchscreens, looking up data provided by the bourse on their chosen stocks. Iranians can place orders with professional brokers, without having to go in person to the bourse, but the building, with its atmosphere of anticipation, attracts scores of people, placing their cash alongside institutions like Iran’s pension funds. Apart from one turbaned cleric and a handful of women, most are middle aged men, and the mood is optimistic though smaller trades are driven largely by rumour, since rules requiring listed firms to disclose their performance and plans are lax.

With his boy-band haircut, jeans and T-shirt, 26-year-old Navid Sadri is not the typical day-trader on Tehran’s bourse, but he has been making his living on the market for eight years, long enough to know that a boom usually ends in a bust. “Eight months ago there was a very small crowd,” he says, pointing to the amateur traders hovering in the corridors above the bourse’s modest trading floor. “If every day there’s a bigger crowd it’s a sign that there will be a drop.” While domestic investment in the bourse booms, international sanctions and political uncertainty are hampering the flow of foreign funds and expertise that Iran needs to modernize. Foreign investment on the Tehran bourse accounts for just 0.5 percent of the shares, according to the bourse chief. “We don’t even look at the Iranian market. There is just too much political risk involved,” Robert McKinnon of ASAS Capital, an asset management company in Dubai, said in June, when bourse officials travelled to the city to drum up foreign interest.

In an effort to attract cash from abroad, Iran revoked a rule this year that had forced foreign investors to hold their initial capital in the Islamic Republic for three years. While foreign investors can now repatriate their capital whenever they want, U.S. rules ban any bank that does business with the United States from making transactions with Iran. That rule is enough to keep most major international banks at bay. So far, Tehran’s bourse has lured only a handful of smaller institutions willing to gamble on the world’s riskier markets. Fund management company Castlestone calls Iran stocks “a jaw-dropping opportunity” and plans to include them in a new high-growth emerging markets fund. Turquoise Partners, an investment firm with offices in Tehran and London, manages a $100 million fund on behalf of foreign investors wanting a piece of the Iranian action. “We’ve had a flood of money coming into the market in the last one and a half years,” Ali Mashayekhi, head of investment research at Turquoise, said.

CURRENCY WARS
http://www.ecb.int/stats/exchange/eurofxref/html/eurofxref-graph-usd.en.html#1999
http://www.feasta.org/documents/review2/nunan.htm
Petrodollar or Petroeuro? A new source of global conflict
by Cóilín Nunan

No observer of the lead-up to the war in Iraq and its aftermath could have failed to notice that the level of cooperation between Europe and America was extremely low. France and Germany were very strong opponents of the US/UK invasion and even after the war was declared over, disagreements persisted over the lifting of sanctions and how Iraq should be run. So was this just a one-off tiff or was it a symptom of deeper flaws in the relationship? I believe that the war on Iraq illustrated for the first time that continental Europe, led by France and Germany, no longer wishes to follow the Americans politically, although what has been termed a ‘clash of civilisations’ [1] is probably better viewed as a ‘clash of economies’.

While disagreements over the US trade barriers on steel imports or the European restrictions on imports of American genetically modified crops have attracted widespread comment, the most intense economic rivalry of all has received far less media attention than it perhaps should: this is the rivalry between the dollar and the euro for the position of world reserve currency, a privileged status that has been held by the dollar ever since the Bretton Woods agreement nearly 60 years ago.

At present, approximately two thirds of world trade is conducted in dollars and two thirds of central banks’ currency reserves are held in the American currency which remains the sole currency used by international institutions such as the IMF. This confers on the US a major economic advantage: the ability to run a trade deficit year after year. It can do this because foreign countries need dollars to repay their debts to the IMF, to conduct international trade and to build up their currency reserves. The US provides the world with these dollars by buying goods and services produced by foreign countries, but since it does not have a corresponding need for foreign currency, it sells far fewer goods and services in return, i.e. the US always spends more than it earns, whereas the rest of the world always earns more than it spends. This US trade deficit has now reached extraordinary levels, with the US importing 50% more goods and services than it exports. So long as the dollar remains the dominant international currency the US can continue consuming more than it produces and, for example, build up its military strength while simultaneously affording tax cuts.

Getting a share of this economic free lunch has been one of the motivations, and perhaps the main motivation, behind setting up the euro [2]. Were the euro to become a reserve currency equal to, or perhaps even instead of, the dollar, countries would reduce their dollar holdings while building up their euro savings. Another way of putting this would be to say that Eurozone countries would be able to reduce their subsidy to American consumption and would find that other countries were now subsidising Eurozone consumption instead.

A move away from the dollar towards the euro could, on the other hand, have a disastrous effect on the US economy as the US would no longer be able to spend beyond its means. Worse still, the US would have to become a net currency importer as foreigners would probably seek to spend back in the US a large proportion of the estimated three trillion dollars which they currently own. In other words, the US would have to run a trade surplus, providing the rest of the world with more goods and services than it was receiving in return. A rapid and wholesale move to the euro might even lead to a dollar crash as everyone sought to get rid of some, or all, of their dollars at the same time. But that is an outcome that no-one, not even France or Germany, is seeking because of the huge effect it would have on the world economy. Europe would much prefer to see a gradual move to a euro-dollar world, or even a euro-dominated one.

It turns out that there is a small group of countries which is playing the arbiter in this global contest. These are the world’s oil exporters, in particular OPEC and Russia. Ever since the days when the US dominated world oil production, sales of oil and natural gas on international markets have been exclusively denominated in dollars. This was partly a natural state of affairs since, up until the early 1950s, the US accounted for half or more of the world’s annual oil production. The tendency to price in dollars was additionally reinforced by the Bretton Woods agreement which established the IMF and World Bank and adopted the dollar as the currency for international loans.

The vast majority of the world’s countries are oil importers and, since oil is such a crucial commodity, the need to pay for it in dollars encourages these countries keep the majority of their foreign currency reserves in dollars not only to be able to buy oil directly but also to protect the value of their own currencies from falling against the dollar. Because a sudden devaluation of a country’s currency against the dollar would lead to a jump in oil prices and a possible economic crisis, every country’s central bank needs dollar reserves so as to be able to buy its own currency on the foreign exchange markets when its value needs to be supported.

The fact that oil sales and loans from the IMF are dollar-denominated also encourages poorer countries to denominate their exports in dollars as this minimises the risk of losses through any fluctuations in the value of the dollar. The knock-on effect of this is that, since many of these exports are essential raw materials which richer countries need to import, their denomination in dollars reinforces the need for rich countries to keep their own currency reserves in dollars.

While the denomination of oil sales is not a subject which is frequently discussed in the media, its importance is certainly well understood by governments. For example, when in 1971 President Nixon took the US off the gold standard, OPEC did consider moving away from dollar oil pricing, as dollars no longer had the guaranteed value they once did. The US response was to do various secret deals with Saudi Arabia in the 1970s to ensure that the world’s most important oil exporter stuck with the dollar [3]. What the Saudis did, OPEC followed. More recently, in June 2003, the Prime Minister of Malaysia publicly encouraged his country’s oil and gas exporters to move from the dollar to the euro. The European and American reactions were polar opposites: the EU’s Energy Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, welcomed the suggestion, saying that ‘in the future the euro is [going to be] taking a place in the international markets in general as the money of exchange’ and that this was ‘a matter of realism’ [4]. Her counterpart in the US, the director of the Energy Information Administration, Guy Caruso, said that he couldn’t see ‘any particular merit’ in the move and that over the long run ‘the dollar’s always won out’ [5]. Either way, Malaysia is only a relatively minor oil exporter, so what it does can only have a very limited effect. A switch by a major oil exporter would be of far greater significance.

The first country to actually make the switch was a very important oil exporter indeed: Iraq, in November 2000 [6,7]. Before the war in Iraq began, some observers, myself included, argued that this might well be a major reason for the US desire to invade and the strong Franco-German opposition to the invasion [8,9]. Corroborating evidence included the apparent influence which loyalty (or lack thereof) to the dollar seemed to have on the US attitude towards other OPEC members. Iran had been talking of selling its own oil for euros [6,10] and was subsequently included in George Bush’s ‘axis of evil’. Venezuela, another important oil exporter, had started bartering some of its oil, thus avoiding the use of the dollar, and was encouraging OPEC to do likewise [11] – and the US was widely suspected in having played a part in the attempted coup against the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.

Semi-official confirmation that petro-currency rivalry was at the heart of the split between France and Germany, on the one hand, and the US, on the other, was provided by Howard Fineman, the chief political correspondent for Newsweek, in an article he wrote in April 2003, in the aftermath of the war. The Europeans and Americans were then arguing over whether the UN’s oil-for-food programme in Iraq should remain in place or not. Using the term ‘clash of civilisations’ to describe the divide which was developing, Fineman explained that the disagreement had little to do with the French calls for the search for weapons of mass destruction to resume and for sanctions to remain in place until the search was complete. Instead, Fineman said, it was mainly about the dollar vs the euro. Citing White House officials and a presidential aide, he explained that the dispute between the two continents was really about ‘who gets to sell – and buy – Iraqi oil, and what form of currency will be used to denominate the value of the sales. That decision, in turn, will help decide who controls Iraq, which, in turn, will represent yet another skirmish in a growing global economic conflict. We want a secular, American-influenced pan-ethnic entity of some kind to control the massive oil fields (Iraq’s vast but only real source of wealth). We want that entity to be permitted to sell the oil to whomever it wants, denominated in dollars.’ Fineman concluded his article by confidently predicting that future Iraqi oil sales would be switched back to dollars [1].

Fineman’s White House sources would appear to have been reliable as that is precisely what has happened: when Iraqi oil exports resumed in June of last year, it was announced that payment would be in dollars only [12,13]. It was also decided that the billions of Iraqi euros which were being held in a euro account, controlled by the UN under the oil-for-food programme, were to be transferred into the Development Fund for Iraq, a dollar account controlled by the US [13,14,15].

Furthermore, Youssef Ibrahim, a former senior Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and energy editor on the Wall Street Journal, who is a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, has called Iraq’s switch to the euro ‘another reason’ for the war, saying that a general move by oil producers to the euro would be a ‘catastrophe’ for the US [16].

America’s willingness to use violence to defend its economic interests does not seem to have reduced the number of oil exporters considering switching to the euro as they recognise that their use of the dollar enables the US to build up its military strength. In addition to Malaysia, Indonesia has the switch under consideration [17] while Iran has been shifting its currency reserves into euros. Moreover, according to the Vice-President of the Iranian central bank, it has actually sold some of its oil to Europe for euros and is encouraging members of an Asian trade organisation, the Asian Clearing Union, to pay for Iranian oil in the European currency [18]. Along with Malaysia, it is also at the forefront of efforts to establish a new gold-backed currency, the Islamic Gold Dinar, to be used in international trade amongst Muslim countries instead of both the dollar and the euro [19]. In a further development, in June 2004, Iran announced that it had plans to establish an oil-trading market for Middle Eastern and OPEC producers which could threaten the dominance of London’s International Petroleum Exchange and New York’s Nymex [20]. Such a move could help remove some of the technical difficulties that exist with a switch away from dollar-denomination of oil sales.

It is therefore not surprising to find that, just as with Iraq, the European Union and the US are dealing with Iran in very different ways. While the EU has been holding trade negotiations with Iran [21] and involved in dialogue about its nuclear programme, the US has refused to get involved in direct talks with the Iranian government which it views as ‘evil’. The American Enterprise Institute, a highly influential American ‘think tank’, has in fact been actively calling for ‘regime change’ [22] and, although this policy has yet to be officially endorsed by the Bush administration, in July 2004 it was claimed in the British press that a senior official of the Bush administration had indicated that, if re-elected, Bush would intervene in the internal affairs of Iran in an attempt to overturn the Iranian government [23,24].

European enthusiasm for the ‘petroeuro’ also appears undampened by the US takeover of Iraq. Since the war, the European Union has been actively encouraging Russia, another opponent of the US invasion, to move to euro oil and gas sales. In October 2003, during a joint press conference with Germany’s Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder, the Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia was thinking about selling its oil for euros. A few days later, the European Commission President, Romano Prodi, said, after a summit between Russia and the European Union, that Russia was now drawn to having its imports and exports denominated in euros [25,26].

In December 2003, speculation about the future roles of the dollar and the euro increased when OPEC Secretary General Alvaro Silva, a former Venezuelan oil minister, said that the organisation was now considering trading in euros or in a basket of currencies other than the dollar, as the US currency was declining in value [27] . Although a few days later the Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said that OPEC would not be discussing a switch to the euro at its next meeting (comments reinforced by the Qatari President of OPEC and the Algerian oil minister [28]), articles discussing a possible move continued to appear in the media [29,30] and the euro’s value against the dollar soared. Despite the speculation, no decision to move to the euro was taken at OPEC’s meeting in early February 2004 and thereafter the euro’s value fell back again.

In fact, close inspection of the dollar-euro exchange rate shows that since the euro’s introduction in January 1999, petro-currency rivalry appears to have played an important part in swinging the rate one way or the other. The markets, it seems, have noticed the importance of what is happening. On the other hand, the lack of an open discussion of the issues suggests that politicians and bankers are keen to move ahead with their plans with little or no explanation to the general public.

Should we not, however, be debating more openly what kind (or kinds) of international financial structure(s) we want to adopt, since the question has potentially huge implications for the stability of the world economy and for peace and stability in oil-exporting countries? A good starting point for such a debate would be the recognition that no country or countries should be allowed to dominate the system by controlling the issuance of the currency or currencies used. Similarly fundamental would be to prevent any country from running a persistent trade surplus or deficit so as to avoid the build up of unjust subsidies, unpayable debts and economic instability. At Bretton Woods, John Maynard Keynes, who understood how important these two conditions were, proposed a system which would have met them, but his proposal was rejected in favour of the dollar.[31] The dollar, though, is no longer a stable, reliable currency: the IMF has warned that the US trade deficit is so bad that its currency could collapse at any time.[32] Will we really have to wait for a full-blown dollar crisis before a public debate about creating a just and sustainable trading system can begin?

References
1. Howard Fineman, ‘In Round 2, it’s the dollar vs. euro’, April 23 2003, Newsweek, http://www.msnbc.com/news/904353.asp?0sl=22&newguid=FD367EA32A81424DB1136AF1FD3221F4&cp1=1
2. Anon., ‘Will the euro rule the roost?’, January 1 1999, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/the_launch_of_emu/inside_em u/225434.stm
3. David E. Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, Cornell University Press, 1999
4. Anon., ‘EU says oil could one day be priced in euros’, 16 June 2003, Reuters
5. Irene Kwek, ‘EIA Says Oil Price Switch To Euro From Dollar Unlikely’, 16 June 2003, Dow Jones Newswires
6. Recknagel, Charles, ‘Iraq: Baghdad Moves to Euro’, November 1 2000,Radio Free Europe, http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2000/11/01112000160846.asp
7. Faisal Islam, ‘When will we buy oil in euros?’, February 23 2003, The Observer, http://www.observer.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,900867,00.html
8. William Clark, ‘The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth’, January 2003, http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html
9. Cóilín Nunan, ‘Oil, currency and the war on Iraq’, January 2003, http://www.feasta.org/documents/papers/oil1.htm
10. Anon., ‘Iran may switch to euro for crude sale payments’, Alexander Oil and Gas, September 5 2002, http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntm23638.htm
11. Hazel Henderson, ‘Globocop v. Venezuela’s Chavez: Oil, Globalization and Competing Visions of Development’, April 2002, InterPress Service, http://www.hazelhenderson.com/Globocop%20v.%20Chavez.htm
12. Carola Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, ‘Iraq returns to international oil market’, June 5 2003, Financial Times
13. Coalition Provisional Authority Regulation Number 2, http://www.cpa-iraq.org/regulations/index.html#Regulations
14. UN Security Council Resolution 1483, http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions03.html
15. Judy Aita, ‘U.N. Transfers Oil-for-Food Program to CPA, Iraqi Officials Nov 22’, November 2003, Washington File, http://www.cpa-iraq.org/audio/20031122_Nov-22UN_Transfers_Oil_for_Food_Program-post.htm
16. Catherine Belton, ‘Why not price oil in euros?’, October 10 2003, Moscow Times
17. Kazi Mahmood, ‘Economic Shift Could Hurt U.S.-British Interests In Asia’, March 30 2003, IslamOnline.net
18. C. Shivkumar, ‘Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms’, June 16 2003, http://www.blonnet.com/2003/06/17/stories/2003061702380500.htm
19. Anon, ‘Malaysia, Iran discuss the use of gold dinar’, July 3 2003, Asia Times, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EG03Ae01.html
20. Terry Macalister, ‘Iran takes on west’s control of oil trading’, June 16 2004, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1239644,00.html
21. Hooman Peimani, ‘EU and Iran talk trade, not war’, June 7 2003, Asia Times, www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EF07AK02.html
22. Guy Dinmore, ‘US lobbyists tune in for regime change in Iran’, December 5 2003, Financial Times
23. Michael Binyon and Bronwen Maddox, ‘US sets sights on toppling Iran regime’, July 17 2004, The Times
24. Jennifer Johnston, ‘Regime change in Iran now in Bush’s sights’, July 18 2004, The Sunday Herald, www.sundayherald.com/43461
25. Lisa Jucca and Melissa Akin, ‘Europe Presses Russia on Euro’, October 20 2003, Moscow Times
26. Simon Nixon, ‘What’s that in euros?’, October 18 2003, The Spectator, www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old§ion=current&issue=2003-10-18&id=3619
27. Anon., ‘OPEC may trade oil in euros to compensate for dollar decline’, December 9 2003, Associated Press, http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_490084,00020008.htm
28. Anon., ‘Saudi Arabia: Dollars only please’, December 13 2003, Reuters, http://money.cnn.com/2003/12/13/news/international/bc.energy .saudi.reut/
29. Patrick Brethour, ‘OPEC mulls move to euro for pricing crude oil’, January 12 2004, Globe and Mail, http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040112.wopec0112/BNStory/Business/
30. Anon., ‘To euro or not: should oil pricing ditch the dollar?’, February 9 2004, AFP
31. Michael Rowbottom, Goodbye America! Globalisation, Debt and the Dollar Empire, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2000
32. Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott, ‘IMF warns trade gap could bring down dollar’, September 19 2003, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1045193,00.html

EXOPOLITICS (n. art or science of government as concerned with creating/influencing policy toward extraterrestrial beings)

as in: are STATE SECRETS SAFE from TELEPATHY?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8662822.stm
Russian president asked to investigate alien claims
by Richard Galpin / 5 May 2010

A Russian MP has asked President Dmitry Medvedev to investigate claims by a regional president that he has met aliens on board a spaceship. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the leader of the southern region of Kalmykia, made his claim in a television interview. MP Andre Lebedev is not just asking whether Mr Ilyumzhinov is fit to govern. He is also concerned that, if he was abducted, he may have revealed details about his job and state secrets. The MP has written a letter to Mr Medvedev raising a list of his concerns. In his letter he says that – assuming the whole thing was not just a bad joke – it was an historic event and should have been reported to the Kremlin. He also asks if there are official guidelines for what government officials should do if contacted by aliens, especially if those officials have access to state secrets. Mr Ilyumzhinov said in an interview on primetime television that he had been taken on board an alien spaceship which had come to planet Earth to take samples – and claims to have several witnesses. He has been president of Kalmykia, a small Buddhist region of Russia which lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea, for 17 years. The millionaire former businessman has a reputation as an eccentric character. As president of the World Chess Federation, he has spent tens of millions of dollars turning the impoverished republic into a mecca for chess players – building an entire village to host international tournaments.

POLICY CLARIFICATION REQUESTED
http://www.newsru.com/russia/04may2010/uno_top_secret.html
http://trueslant.com/juliaioffe/2010/05/05/serious-allegations-kalmyk-governor-leaks-classified-information-to-humanoid-aliens/
Kalmyk governor leaks classified information to ‘humanoid’ aliens?
by Julia Ioffe / May. 5 2010

Andrey Lebedev, a Duma deputy for the right-wing nationalistic LDPR party, is pissed: there is a traitor in Russia’s house, and he’s a traitor of the very worst order. Lebedev’s allegation, which he addressed yesterday to President Dmitry Medvedev, is serious. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the autocratic, chess-playing, Buddhist billionaire ruler of the Semiautonomous Russian Republic of Kalmykia on the shores of the Caspian, has been feeding highly classified state secrets to aliens, Lebedev alleges.

According to Lebedev, extraterrestrial “humanoids” are now in possession of some of Russia’s most secret secrets. Here’s what happened. Lebedev realized something was very extremely horribly wrong as he watched Ilyumzhinov’s interview with Vladimir Pozner, the Russian Larry King. During the interview, Ilyumzhinov openly discussed his 1997 encounter with benevolent aliens. According to Ilyumzhinov, it all happened on a Saturday night. He came home to his Moscow apartment, watched some TV, read a bit, and drifted off to sleep. Mid-drift, he heard the balcony door open. Then someone called to him. Ilyumzhinov went to check it out, only to discover a hovering transparent tube, which he, naturally, entered. Inside, humanoids in yellow spacesuits awaited him. They had a pleasant talk, which occurred on the level of mindwaves because, Ilyumzhinov said, “there wasn’t quite enough oxygen.” The humanoids, who were friendly, told Ilyumzhinov that they were not yet ready for direct contact with human humans. Instead, they gave him a tour of the ship and sent him on his way. Sounds fine, but what, Lebedev wonders, really happened aboard that ship?

Did Ilyumzhinov talk to the aliens about his official duties? “Did the representatives of these extraterrestrial civilizations ask Ilyumzhinov about the nuances of his professional duties, and, if they did, what ‘evidence’ did he give?” Moreover, Lebedev wants to know, did Ilyumzhinov let the President know about his contacts with such beings? And, while we’re at it, “who else among the governors of the Russian Federations, members of the government, and other federal civil servants is communicating with aliens? Dmitry Anatolyevich,” Lebedev wrote, addressing the Medvedev by his patronymic, “you will agree that, unless Ilyumzhinov is bluffing, then this information is historically significant. If possible, I ask you to brief the deputies of the Federal Duma about your conclusions.” Medvedev has yet to respond.

the DISCLOSURE PROJECT
http://www.disclosureproject.org/
http://www.youtube.com/user/DisclosureLobby
http://www.disclosureproject.org/docgallery.shtml
http://web.archive.org/web/20021202090635/http://www.cohenufo.org/Military+Nuclear+Specialists+Testify+To+UFO+Reality.htm

Lt. Colonel Dwynne Arneson: US Air Force (retired): “I was the top-secret control officer at Malmstom AFB for the 20th Air Division. I happened to see a message that came through my communications center. It said…that ‘A UFO was seen near missile silos’…and it was hovering. It said that the crew going on duty and the crew coming off duty all saw the UFO just hovering in mid-air. It was a metallic circular object and from what I understand, the missiles were all shut down. What I mean by ‘missiles going down’ is that they went dead. And something turned those missiles off, so they couldn’t be put back in a mode for launching.”

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
http://www.extracampaign.org/
http://www.bluebookarchive.org/
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/ufo/index-e.html
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos/
http://www.theblackvault.com/modules/?r=articles/category/UFO+Phenomena+
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_temas5.htm#exopolitica
http://www.hyper.net/ufo.html

HAWKING: ‘THINK OF COLUMBUS, + HOW WELL THAT WENT’
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/space/article7107207.ece
Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking
by Jonathan Leake / April 25, 2010

The aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist — but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact. The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries. Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space. Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved. “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational,” he said. “The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.” The answer, he suggests, is that most of it will be the equivalent of microbes or simple animals — the sort of life that has dominated Earth for most of its history.

One scene in his documentary for the Discovery Channel shows herds of two-legged herbivores browsing on an alien cliff-face where they are picked off by flying, yellow lizard-like predators. Another shows glowing fluorescent aquatic animals forming vast shoals in the oceans thought to underlie the thick ice coating Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity. He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.” He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

The completion of the documentary marks a triumph for Hawking, now 68, who is paralysed by motor neurone disease and has very limited powers of communication. The project took him and his producers three years, during which he insisted on rewriting large chunks of the script and checking the filming. John Smithson, executive producer for Discovery, said: “He wanted to make a programme that was entertaining for a general audience as well as scientific and that’s a tough job, given the complexity of the ideas involved.” Hawking has suggested the possibility of alien life before but his views have been clarified by a series of scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery, since 1995, of more than 450 planets orbiting distant stars, showing that planets are a common phenomenon. So far, all the new planets found have been far larger than Earth, but only because the telescopes used to detect them are not sensitive enough to detect Earth-sized bodies at such distances. Another breakthrough is the discovery that life on Earth has proven able to colonise its most extreme environments. If life can survive and evolve there, scientists reason, then perhaps nowhere is out of bounds.

Hawking’s belief in aliens places him in good scientific company. In his recent Wonders of the Solar System BBC series, Professor Brian Cox backed the idea, too, suggesting Mars, Europa and Titan, a moon of Saturn, as likely places to look. Similarly, Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, warned in a lecture earlier this year that aliens might prove to be beyond human understanding. “I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive,” he said. “Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there are aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains.”

PARANORMAL POLITICAL SCIENCE
http://www.aolnews.com/weird-news/article/exopoliticians-say-governments-must-start-planning-for-alien-visits/19456520
The Politics of Extraterrestrials
by David Moye / April 28, 2010

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking isn’t the only man concerned about the potential ramifications of an extraterrestrial presence on Earth. Turns out, a growing number of people are becoming involved in “exopolitics,” the study of the political ramifications of alien visitors — whether they be friend or foe — and how humans should prepare for either scenario. Take Michael Salla, an international politics scholar who in 2001 started dedicating his time to exopolitics. Since then, Salla, an expert in conflict resolution, has been lobbying for extra transparency from the government regarding extraterrestrials. He says that it’s imperative for the planet to have a plan just in case an E.T. decides to make Earth his new home. “It’s not necessary to assume E.T.s are real, just possible,” Salla said. “Then you prepare for it and think through all the issues.”

According to Salla, those issues include deciding how the alien presence will be announced (he advocates announcing the presence of microbes and working up to more sentient beings), and who will be in control — a secret committee or a corporate entity. Even more important: If the E.T.s have superior technology, should they be forced to share it? Of course, another big issue is determining the protocol for contact between humans and aliens, lest either side be exposed to strange viruses, a Romeo and Juliet situation between Martians and Earthlings — or worse. “A big question is how will humans interact with aliens,” Salla said. “If someone is threatened by one, will they take a shot at them while driving by? And, if so, will this be as illegal as shooting a human?”

Luckily, for Salla and the others in this pioneering form of paranormal political science, they aren’t the only ones asking these questions. “In the last six months, both the Vatican and the Royal Society of London have held astrobiological conferences studying the implications of life found on other worlds,” he said. Exopolitician Alfred Webre is confident that an alien discovery would have a major earthly impact. He believes that the politician or head of state who announces an encounter with an E.T. will have an incredible amount of political capital internationally. No wonder, he says, that many UFOlogists believe that JFK planned to make such an announcement before his 1963 assassination.

However, Webre also admits that if, say, President Barack Obama were to make such an announcement, it could likely fall prey to the partisan battles that have plagued other big issues such as the economy, immigration reform and health care. “There have been rumors that Obama might make such an announcement, but there have been so many immediate crises that what might be a political slam dunk hasn’t taken place,” said Webre, who recently shocked the world by claiming that both the U.S. and Russia have developed electromagnetic weapons that can trigger earthquakes. Webre concedes that while being the person who announces the real presence of alien life will make history, it’s possible that E.T.s might not want to put their eggs in one basket, politically speaking, since they wouldn’t want to give the appearance of favoring one nation over another. If and when aliens “do surface, the thought is that they’d do it through a neutral party such as the United Nations,” Webre said.

Other exopoliticians, like political activist Stephen Bassett, believe that the governments of the world — especially the United States — don’t want to give such a momentous announcement to the U.N. Bassett, a registered lobbyist who wants Congress to release information about the presence of aliens, says any announcement made about E.T.s — at least in the U.S. — is only likely to happen with the express cooperation of U.S. military intelligence. “Barack Obama won’t say he wants to reveal the truth; the military will come to him and say, ‘You’re the guy,'” Bassett said. “Then there would be a substantial press conference with all the evidence anyone could want that proves the presence is real.” And he says that announcement would come quickly. “You can’t have a leak 20 days in advance,” Bassett said. “You don’t float trial balloons. You make the decision and you move quickly.”

Bassett, who is organizing the X-Conference 2010, an exopolitical gathering May 7 to 9 in Washington, D.C., says that after a nation makes the initial announcement, others would promptly follow. But he admits, “This is a transcendent issue. Whatever country makes the announcement will get most of the historical attention.” Although Bassett believes any such announcement would be made by one nation, Webre says he and other exopoliticians have been talking with members of the U.N. General Assembly regarding U.N. Resolution 33/426, which is a proposal to set up a Department of Extraterrestrials Affairs. He is more confident of this happening than Salla. “There has been a 60-year period where any information that the governments of the world may have has not been shared with the public,” he said. “Whatever is decided, it needs to be done with transparency and accountability. It’s important to share such information with U.N. and U.S. office holders.” Of course, a lot has changed in that 60-year period. Webre says that in 1961, studies indicated that a sudden announcement of an alien presence would scare people and cause psychological distress and panics, like the one that surrounded Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” hoax. “A more recent study showed that 85 percent view an announcement about aliens on Earth as something positive,” he said.

However, Webre may get some argument from Hawking, who is still pessimistic about trying to make friends with an alien species. “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans,” he said while promoting his new Discovery Channel series “Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking.” But Salla says the extreme divide between cynics like Hawking and optimists like the Vatican, which has declared that God may have created theologically minded beings on other planets besides Earth, is OK, just as long as the debate is happening. “While one can heartily disagree with Hawking’s public policy recommendation of ignoring intelligent alien life, he is to be congratulated for elevating exopolitical study as a ‘perfectly rational’ discussion,” Salla said.

CROP CIRCLES
http://ccdb.cropcircleresearch.com/index.cgi
http://www.wccsg.com/AboutCropCircles/Physicalaspect/tabid/742/language/en-US/Default.aspx
http://www.lucypringle.co.uk/photos/


the Wilton Windmill crop circle which appeared on Friday 21st May

COMMUNICATIONS  [ONGOING]
http://dailygrail.com/Essays/2010/5/Planck-found-Eulers-Identity-Crop-Circle
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/crop-circle-season-arrives-with-a-mathematical-message-1982647.html
Crop circle season arrives with a mathematical message
by Matilda Battersby / 26 May 2010

It is perhaps little known that the beautiful county of Wiltshire, famed for Stonehenge and the white horses carved into its hills, is the most active area for crop circles in the world, with nearly 70 appearing in its fields in 2009. It is unsurprising then, that the appearance of a phenomenally complex 300ft design carved into an expanse of rape seed on a Wiltshire hillside has caused excitement. But it’s not just the eye-pleasing shape which has drawn attention to it. The intersected concentric pattern has been decoded by experts as a “tantalising approximation” of a mathematical formula called Euler’s Identity (e ^ ( i * Pi ) + 1 = 0), widely thought be the most beautiful and profound mathematical equation in the world.

The design above appeared beside Wilton Windmill late on Friday night. Lucy Pringle, a founder of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies, was one of the first on the scene. She says: “What has happened in this particular crop circle is that there are 12 segments and within each segment there are 8 partly concentric rings. Each of these segments indicates a binary code based on 0 and 1. If you use an Ascii Table [computer calculation system], the pattern transposes itself into a tantalising approximation of Euler’s equation.”

The average person finds such complex mathematical talk utterly confounding, so The Independent Online asked Dr John Talbot, a maths research fellow at University College London, for his take on the matter. He said: “Looking at the crop circle, the link with Euler’s most famous identity seems to make perfect sense. However, the way the formula has been executed is partially incorrect. One of the discrepancies is that one part of the formula translates as ‘hi’ rather than ‘i’, which could be somebody’s idea of a joke.” The Wilton Windmill circle is not the first to have provoked mathematical exposition. In July 2008 a photograph of a crop circle near Barbary Castle (also in Wiltshire) caught the attention of retired American astrophysicist Mike Reed when he saw it in a national newspaper. He was struck by its shape and eventually concluded that it was a coded image representing the first ten digits of Pi (3.141592654), a conclusion declared to be a “seminal event” by Pringle at the time.

Sceptics dismiss crop circles as utter rubbish, but despite decades of research nobody knows conclusively how they’re made. As Francine Blake of the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group, explains: “The difficulty is that we don’t know the answer. It’s something that needs to be treated with great respect, but is too often talked about flippantly in the media which, I think, closes the subject rather than opens it.” There has been extensive scientific exploration into the affect the circles have on nearby wildlife. Flowers and soils inside crop circles are dramatically altered, Blake explains. Pringle observed in a 2003 experiment that seed samples taken from inside a crop circle had 40 per cent higher protein levels than those taken from outside it.

Another interesting element is the nature of the soil on which the circles appear. Pringle says that 93.8 per cent of crop circles are made on chalk, “a worldwide phenomenon” recorded in 54 different countries. She says the significance may be connected to underground springs called aquifers commonly found in chalk: “It is thought that the originating force probably originates in the ionosphere (an area of atmospheric electricity). The force then spirals to earth in the form of a vortical plasma and hits the ground with some 100 of 1000’s of volts per metre for just a nano second only, else the crop would be burnt. Occasionally we do see evidence of scorched flattened crop inside certain circles. The electromagnetic fields of both the underground springs and the descending force work in harmony or conjunction with each other.”

Blake also remarks on the significance of the chalk, which she says the ancients often built their monuments on – an observation which the existence of Neolithic sites like Stonehenge and Avebury attest. She says the ancients also built their temples on “energy lines” and has observed that “crop circles always appear on or near these lines.” Blake was impressed with the Barbary Castle circle and its derivations because the shape itself was “like a Labyrinth,” which “gives it a spiritual as well as a mathematical tradition.”

Nobody knows for sure how crop circles are made. Reports of strange mists creating the complicated patterns in a matter of minutes, their connotations with little green men and Midwich Cuckoos and elaborate hoaxes have fostered a widespread unwillingness to take the idea seriously. This approach both feeds the mystery around the concept and prevents further exploration of it, as it is an area of research that is unlikely to be awarded large research grants or space on university courses. But, as Blake remarks: “There’s neither rhyme nor reason, they just keep coming.” And with crops nearly at their full height, the UK’s crop circle season is upon us. If you want to see for yourself Wiltshire is your best bet.

MAJESTIC 12
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majestic_12#Reliably-documented_UFO_activities_by_purported_MJ-12_members
http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/majestic.htm
http://www.majesticdocuments.com/documents/pre1948.php

INTERPLANETARY PHENOMENON UNIT (IPU)
http://wikibin.org/articles/interplanetary-phenomenon-unit.html

The Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit (or IPU) was a United States Army staff section established by at least 1947 and dissolved by the late 1950s. Officials have confirmed that the IPU existed, but little else is known about it. It seems to have been an unidentified flying object-related undertaking. Some ufologists have suggested that the very name “Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit” is an indication that the IPU was convinced that the extraterrestrial hypothesis was a viable explanation for UFOs. There has been speculation that the IPU was another name for the Majestic 12 or MJ-12, an unconfirmed (and controversial) U.S. UFO research group said to have been founded in 1947 to handle UFO investigations in the aftermath of the so-called Roswell UFO incident.

Another contention is that the IPU was a separate unit, also founded in 1947 following Roswell, under the direction of Army Counterintelligence, but ultimately at the disposal of MJ-12. Researchers William Steinman and Wendelle Stevens contended the IPU unit was directly involved in the crash-recovery of another UFO at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948, being ordered there by MJ-12. However, another MJ-12 related document of questionable authenticity, indicated the unit was supposedly established early in 1942 by General George Marshall following a well-publicized UFO incident, the so-called “West coast air raid” or “Battle of Los Angeles” in which an unidentified object or objects over Los Angeles resulted in a massive anti-aircraft barrage.

General Douglas MacArthur has also been rumored as involved in the formation of the IPU, during or towards the end of World War II, because of the many UFO incidents occurring under his command in the Pacific. Allegedly MacArthur reported directly to General Marshall. Maybe supporting MacArthur’s involvement is the fact that he did make public statements on at least three occasions that Earth might have to unite to fight a future war against an alien menace. Two such quotes were in the New York Times, October 8, 1955, and July 5, 1961. Another was a famous speech at West Point, May 12, 1962, in which he said, “We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy …of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.” Wiki source The same quote also appeared in a July 4th speech MacArthur delivered in Manila in 1961.

In May 1984, William Steinman first wrote the Army Directorate of Counterintelligence, since, according to Steinman’s information, the IPU was run out of the Scientific and Technical Branch of the Directorate. Steinman received the following reply from a Lieutenant Colonel Lance R. Cornine. Cornine claimed that the IPU had only an unofficial existence and refused to definitely acknowledge the existence of any unit records: “As you note in your letter, the so-called Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit (IPU) was disestablished and, as far as we are aware, all records, if any, were transferred to the Air Force in the late 1950’s. The ‘unit’ was formed as an in-house project purely as an interest item for the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. It was never a ‘unit’ in the military sense, nor was it ever formally organized or reportable, it had no investigative function, mission or authority, and may not even have had any formal records at all. It is only through institutional memory that any recollection exists of this unit. We are therefore unable to answer your questions as to the exact purpose of the unit, exactly when it was disestablished, or who was in command. This last would not apply in any case, as no one was in ‘command’. We have no records or documentation of any kind on this unit.”

In March 1987, British UFO researcher Timothy Good also wrote the Army Directorate of Counterintelligence and again received a letter confirming the existence of the IPU from a Colonel William Guild. Guild was more definitive about the existence of IPU records and that they had been turned over to the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), the USAF counterintelligence unit, and the Air Force’s Project Blue Book: “…the aforementioned Army unit was disestablished during the late 1950’s and never reactivated. All records pertaining to this unit were surrendered to the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations in conjunction with operation BLUEBOOK.” Good also stated that the IPU reported directly to General Marshall. Documents from AFOSI about the IPU, if they exist, have never been released.

NEED to KNOW
http://www.presidentialufo.com/
http://www.ufoskeptic.org/president.html
Would a President be Briefed on a UFO Special Access Program?

In 1976 presidential candidate Jimmie Carter promised the American people that he would open any government UFO files that might exist. Recall that while governor of Georgia, Carter had a UFO sighting and actually filed a report. After winning election to President, Carter met with CIA Director George H. W. Bush seeking a briefing on the topic. Bush turned him down, claiming that neither as President nor as Commander-in-Chief did he have a “need to know.” Once in office Carter turned to NASA for information, directing presidential science advisor Frank Press to ask NASA administrator Robert Frosch to “form a small panel of inquiry” to investigate the UFO situation. This letter and other correspondence may be found in “UFOs and NASA” (Journal of Scientific Exploration, pp. 93–142, 1988). Nothing at all came of this as recounted by Richard C. Henry — then a young astrophysicist (now a prominent Johns Hopkins professor) working as a deputy to the director of what was the Astrophysics Division at NASA headquarters — on whose desk this “hot potato” request landed. For five months NASA went through some amusing twists and turns, recounted by Henry, before politely declining.

Discounting the NASA farce, and assuming that any possible UFO program would exist as a Special Access Program in the Department of Defense, on what legal basis would the President and Commander-in-Chief be denied access? It is likely that the UFO topic is actually classified by one or more laws duly enacted by Congress in the late 1940s concerning national security — but without any overt reference to UFOs of course — and signed by President Truman. Only a handful of members of Congress, if any at all, would have known that more than Cold War issues were involved in this far-reaching national security legislation enacted at a time of near panic over a Soviet nuclear threat. There are at least two bins into which the UFO topic could have been placed such that a future President could not unilaterally release it (legally) or, in fact, maybe even know about it. One bin is the category of Restricted Data (RD) established by the Atomic Energy Act in 1946 and pertains to Special Nuclear Material (SNM); another bin would be what has since evolved into the Waived Special Access Program system set up under the authority of the National Security Council which traces back to the National Security Act signed by Truman in 1947 (interestingly only a couple of weeks after the Roswell episode).

That means that even if an incoming President asked someone who knew about the existence of such a program, that individual would be required by law to not only not tell the President, but also to actively mislead him, if necessary. (Such a policy is actually spelled out in controversial documents that researchers Ryan and Robert Wood obtained and traced back to CIA Director Allen Dulles in the 1950s. The source of these documents is unclear.) If a president today tried the same thing without the appropriate clearances (which he could not give to himself) he would likewise be told (legitimately) that there was nothing disclosable. If this hypothesis is correct, then UFO information would be “Born Secret” by the Atomic Energy Act, and not releasable to anyone without at least an AEC “Q” clearance (and likely higher, R or above), plus a legitimate need to use it in his/her job. By law, all RD is “owned” by the AEC Commissioner at its inception. The AEC clearance standards are somewhat different than executive branch standards. In order to grant a Q or higher clearance, the Commissioner must find that the applicant is of “good moral character,” among other things. Thus, if the Commissioner didn’t like Richard Nixon’s burglary at the Watergate Hotel, or Bill Clinton’s dalliances, the Commissioner could withhold access to RD even on those grounds.

A new President who wants to know what the government knows about UFOs would have to be persistent, clever, and informed before beginning the quest, as Clinton’s failed attempt via Associate Attorney General Webster Hubble attests. Simply issuing a presidential executive order declassifying the topic might yield the mistaken conclusion that there is no such material. The first step would be to determine under exactly what legal jurisdiction the matter is classified. This could best be accomplished by a small dedicated research team reporting directly and personally to the President with at least high enough clearances to be able to read all classified Presidential Decision Memoranda and the classified appendices to the Atomic Energy Act and the National Security Act.

SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAMS
http://web.archive.org/web/20010302181319/http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jidr/jidr000105_01_n.shtml
http://www.ufoskeptic.org/black.html
On Black Special Access Programs

The three-tier standard government security clearance levels are well known: confidential, secret and top secret. However just having a clearance at one of these levels does not automatically give access to any information at that level. There has to be a demonstrable “need to know” in order to be briefed or read in on a given project, program, facility or intelligence product. But this system is merely the “white” side of the security system. There is a massive secret “black” system as well, the existence of which is known while the details (naturally) are deeply hidden. (For a publicly available overview see the Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy: 1997, chaired by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senate Document 105-2. See also the report In Search of the Pentagon’s billion dollar hidden budgets by Bill Sweetman, North American editor for the British publication Jane’s Defence Weekly, from which much of the following material has been condensed.) This structure has been described as a “shadow military” existing in parallel with open or overtly classified programs. It is for programs considered to be too sensitive for normal classification measures: these are called Special Access Programs (SAPs). They are protected by a security system of great complexity. Many of the SAPs are located within industry funded through special contracts. Under arrangements called “carve-outs” such programs and funds become removed from the usual security and contract-oversight organizations. In 1997 there were at least 150 SAPs.

There are also levels of SAP, the first being a division into acknowledged and unacknowledged SAPs. Black Program is slang for an unacknowledged SAP. An unacknowledged SAP is so sensitive that its very existence is a “core secret.” Indeed, some unacknowledged SAPs are sensitive to the extent that they are “waived” (a technical term) from the normal management and oversight protocols. Even members of Congress on appropriations committees (the Senate and House committees that allocate budgets) and intelligence committees are not allowed to know anything about these programs. In the case of a waived SAP, only eight members of Congress (the chairs and ranking minority members of the four defense committees) are even notified that a given program has been waived (without being told anything about the nature of the program). Such a program is certainly deep black (though I am not sure if that designation is actually used in the business).

The number of people with access to multiple SAPs is deliberately very limited. This virtually assures that hardly anyone knows what is going on in another program. Black programs are often covered by white (normal classification system) or unclassified programs. The U2 spyplane was covered by a weather-research aircraft program. Such covering allows technology to be relatively openly developed until such time as it is ready for application to a black program. The overt cover program is then usually cancelled, having accomplished its purpose. This happened to the X-30 National Aerospaceplane project in 1994. It appeared to be an unrealistically ambitious program that was eventually cancelled, but was in reality a cover for what is almost certainly a black-world hypersonic aircraft according to defense analyst Sweetman. (This may be the source of the phantom sonic boom phenomenon reported since the early 1990s.)

Someone read in on an unacknowledged SAP would be required to deny even its existence, i.e. even a “no comment” would be a serious breach of security. It can also happen that someone, such as a general or admiral, ostensibly responsible for certain types of programs or areas of technology would not be briefed on the existence of a program that should be within his jurisdiction. (If your name is not on the so-called “bigot list” for a program you will not be briefed, no matter what your rank or responsibility. Even the director of the CIA or the DIA would not ex officio and automatically be on all such lists.) The wall of denial in the deep black world can thus be maintained by both deception and deliberately designed lack of cognizance leading to apparently honest denial. In addition to passive security, active measures can also be deemed necessary: disinformation. Again according to the report by Sweetman, two high level commissions have concluded that, among other things, black programs include “systematic efforts to confuse and disinform the public.” One disinformation ploy is to divulge both real and fabricated information of equal apparent credibility mixed together to someone or some group. The fabricated information can then be used to discredit claims, individuals or organizations. This is a highly effective way to keep a major secret: let the secret be revealed but mixed with sufficient disinformation to assure that the secret will not be believed by anyone who actually matters, for example the national media. The cost of such intense levels of security can be quite steep. It has been estimated that an intensively sensitive program may consume half or even more of its secret budget in security.

The products of the intelligence community are termed Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). It is easier to keep a program hidden in a contractor facility than in a government facility. Deeply buried programs in contractor facilities are called “carve outs” (referring to the budget). A crash retrieval or some classified continuation of Project Blue Book would likely exist as a deep black industrially-based SAP. A program involving hardware would be considered technology rather than intelligence and most likely fall under the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Ironically for such a program even someone having an intelligence “ticket” at the highest level would not be considered to have a need to know. All of this results in very effective isolation and virtually no one in a position of open civilian governmental authority being cognizant of this after a time, even though, at least in principle, the Special Access Program Oversight Commitee, SAPOC, should be cognizant of such a program. I do not know of any fundamentally limiting factors in the potential longevity of a program. The extreme compartmentalization and limited oversight would tend to keep a program in existence, perhaps indefinitely. Political leaders come and go, pandering to the masses for votes in the eyes of many within the military and intelligence communities, and as a result have varying degrees of respect and trust in that world. Deep black programs can become quite independent of any given administration, and it would certainly be unrealistic to assume that a given president has been briefed on every SAP. A president does not automatically have a need to know. Moreover Freedom of Information Act requests cannot penetrate unacknowledged special access programs.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
http://www.paradigmresearchgroup.org/Rockefeller%20Documents/Rockefeller_Initiative_Documents.htm
http://technorati.com/technology/article/researcher-grant-cameron-talks-mcelroy-research/
http://www.presidentialufo.com/articles-a-papers/262-politics-religion-and-human-nature
Practical Problems and Roadblocks On the Path Toward Official UFO Acknowledgment
by Peter Robbins / 31 August 2009

Introduction

“We seek a free flow of information… we are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” — President John F. Kennedy

“I have discussed this matter with the affected agencies of the government, and they are of the opinion that it is unwise to publicize the matter at this time.” — Senator Richard B. Russell, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Russell personally sighted a UFO over Russia in 1955, an event which was classified SECRET by our government

Curiosity seems to be an integral component of human nature, for most of us in any case. Anyone who has ever gazed up and observed something unusual traversing the sky overhead has likely wondered what it is and what its origins were, especially if its flight characteristics and appearance suggested it might be under intelligent control. This longing to understand has not been confined to modern times. Generals and foot soldiers serving under Alexander the Great almost certainly wondered the same thing as “flying shields” hung over their field of battle the night before an engagement, as did the residents of sixteenth century Nuremberg, Germany, as cylinder-shaped UFOs released innumerable spherical and disc-shaped objects into the morning sky. Uncounted people from every era and corner of the Earth have shared a similar sense of wonder, awe, fear, and curiosity, but it was not until history ushered in the modern era of UFO sightings that some began to assume – correctly as it turned out – that our governments might actually have known more about this illusive phenomenon than they chose to let on.

The passage of years has brought with it a growing number of voices both here and abroad who are calling on the American Government to declassify and disseminate classified files relating to UFOs, and that this process be undertaken in a timely manner. France, Denmark, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Sweden and Uruguay have done so with the United Kingdom currently in the process of making thousands of pages formerly classified UFO documents and information available to the public on official web sites. Even so, its fair to assume that the most highly classified information in possession of least some of these countries remains well secured. Since its inception under the Carter Administration, our Freedom of Information Act has been an effective instrument of release for thousands of pages of official UFO documentation, but no British-style declassification initiative has ever been enacted here.

There is good cause for the frustration driving this movement. For the past sixty-two years, requests that the subject be taken seriously and accorded some measure of official, public respect have fallen on deaf ears and repeatedly been met with evasion, confabulation, silence or outright lies. Decades of dedicated study and evaluation have made many of us confident we can face this truth, whatever implications are suggested by the other-worldly presence lurking behind it. As for the readiness of our fellow citizens and the eight-plus billion others who populate this planet and may not be of similar mind, well, they’ll just have to get used to living in a world transformed.

But what really are the implications of stepping through such a cosmic doorway, and what, if any responsibility do we owe the people and institutions who remain woefully unprepared for such an Earth-shaking transition? It’s imperative that we come to appreciate the reasons for proceeding with caution and respect for the unconsidered possibilities which the wholesale release of compelling UFO information may unleash upon us, and upon those who are generally oblivious to the weighty issues involved. I for one would like to know what our government knows about UFOs, but am deeply concerned about the impact which public airing of such data may have on ‘the uninitiated,’ for it will be their dreams, beliefs and hopes that stand to be most effected.

UFOs and the Politics of Politics

“I think it’s time to open the books on questions that have remained in the dark; on the question of government investigations of UFOs. It’s time to find out what the truth really is that’s out there. We ought to do it because it’s right; we ought to do it because the American people quite frankly can handle the truth; and we ought to do it because it’s the law.” — John Podesta, now Presidential Advisor Podesta

“I’ve never met Dennis Kucinich and I don’t know Governor Richardson. No, I don’t think there are UFOs. No, I don’t think the government… What the hell are we talking about? This has gone downhill real quick…” — Joseph Biden, now Vice President Biden

“You know, I don’t know, and I don’t presume to know. What I do know is that there is life here on Earth, and that we’re not attending to life here on Earth.” — Barack Obama, now President Obama

It’s something of a given in American politics: being perceived as someone who takes the subject of UFOs seriously is tantamount to political suicide, doubly so if you’ve been reckless enough to go on record as maintaining that some UFOs may represent advanced technology under the control of other intelligences from parts unknown. An initiative aimed at making such information public would spin this given around on its head, but when it comes to this particular issue, winning the hearts and minds of the powerful, influential, and significant public figures, remains extremely challenging.

Of course there have been exceptions to this rule and they should be acknowledged as such. A small but courageous contingent of astronauts have put their careers and reputations at considerable risk by saying they are now convinced – through either informed opinion or experience – that UFOs are real. The late Steven Schiff, a progressive Democrat and Congressional Representative from New Mexico, and the late Barry Goldwater, a conservative Republican and senior Senator from Arizona, were shining examples of this contrarian position and neither ever backed down from his outspoken beliefs. President Reagan, who had a stunner of a UFO sighting when he was Governor of California, also took the subject seriously and referred to matters extraterrestrial on a number of occasions during his time as President. In 1987 he made this statement during a speech before the 42nd General Assembly of the United Nations: “In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?”

Even with such an allegorical tagline, General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not find such statements uplifting or entertaining, and on such occasions was known to make less than pleased remarks about the President’s “LGMs,” as in little green men. The anti-UFO secrecy position held by Presidential Adviser John Podesta is another exception to the rule, but then he is an appointed rather than an elected official and most Americans remain oblivious to his outsider opinions on the issue.

Despite similar convictions which may be held by government officials, few have had the courage to follow in Goldwater’s or Schiff’s steps, or even Reagan’s, and with good cause. Since the summer of 1947, our media, our military and numerous other branches and offices of our government have done a superb job of embracing – at least in public – the false notion that a serious belief in the reality of UFOs is functionally identical to delusional thinking, mental illness, or something very much akin to it. Some past Presidents and Presidential candidates have had an obvious sympathy for UFO openness, only to recant later, then retreat into silence or into the mob of naysayers. Whatever the motivating factors behind their actions or reactions, understanding the dynamics that create such back-peddling may ultimately help us to change the climate that fostered it.

Michigan Republican Gerald Ford took a courageous stand for UFO openness during his days in the House of Representatives. A spate of unexplained sightings inundated his district during the mid-sixties and a number of the witnesses were people Ford had known for years. He took their accounts seriously and acted decisively in recommending that a committee be created to investigate the phenomena: “I think we owe it to the people to establish credibility regarding UFOs and to produce the greatest possible enlightenment on this subject.” Such a committee was established in 1968 only to wither and die because of a lack of any serious implementation. Ford’s UFO activism vaporized once he assumed the Presidency, as did any public comments on the matter.

Jimmy Carter’s UFO sighting occurred in January 1969 during his run for the Georgia governorship. He remembered it as “the darndest thing I’ve ever seen. It was big, it was very bright, it changed colors and it was about the size of the moon. We watched it for ten minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never make fun of people who say they’ve seen unidentified flying objects in the sky.” His completed MUFON sighting report is one of Ufology’s most interesting artifacts. Now convinced that UFOs, whatever they might be, were real, Carter went on record during his 1976 Presidential campaign that if elected he would release then-classified UFO information – with one possible factor acting as a deterrent: “I don’t see any reason to keep information like that secret, but there may be some aspects of the UFO information which I am not familiar with that might be related to some secret experiments that we were doing that involve national security or new weapons systems. I certainly wouldn’t release that.” “Defense implications” were indeed cited as the reason he did not make good on his pledge.

We now know that Carter wanted to transfer responsibility for UFO affairs to NASA, only to have its highly respected director threaten to resign if he did so. The Director’s stated reason was that saddling the already financially overburdened space agency with responsibility for this routinely mocked subject would only result in popular as well as official ridicule that would jeopardize much needed funding. The President considered his options – then backed down, never to raise the issue again during his time in office. In later years Mr. Carter kept his distance from the subject, possibly because he’d grown tired of being asked about his sighting and earlier outspoken views. In 2007 he was quoted as saying, “I think it is impossible in my opinion – some people disagree – to have space people from other planets or other stars to come here. I do not believe that is possible.” Then again, that same year he allegedly confided to Shirley Maclane, “that basically the President or the Executive Branch is not on a ‘need to know basis.’” Whatever opinions you may hold on Ms. Maclane or her views, the statement she relates is an extremely important one.

I am far from alone in having come to the conclusion that the President is not in fact on a need to know basis, and that occupants of the office from Eisenhower on have been briefed in accordance with their loyalty, pre-existing knowledge of the situation, and level of popularity among those who actually hold power over this information. And who are the individuals charged with control over such secrets? We’re not actually sure anymore. In 1947 it was certainly a highly cleared core of military and intelligence personnel, aided by key scientists and a small cadre of distinguished insiders who had the trust and confidence of President Truman. But the balance of true power has shifted markedly since then leaving us to ponder the degree of influence which leading defense contractors, multinationals and financiers exert over our government’s secret keeping apparatus – another dark dividend of this country’s not having heeded President Eisenhower’s parting warning on the dangers posed by a military industrial complex allowed to proliferate veritably unchecked.

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico would like to know some of these secrets; in particular, those pertaining to what actually happened in his state in early July of 1947. In 2004 he went on record as such, but don’t expect him to publicly acknowledge it now. It was that year he wrote, “It would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows. With full disclosure and our best scientific investigation, we should be able to find out what happened on that fateful day in July of 1947. The American people can handle the truth no matter how bizarre or mundane, and contrary to what you see in the movies.”

The reason for the Governor’s seeming change of heart was simple. The autumn of 2007 saw Richardson’s contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Dennis Kucinich, outed by the late television commentator Tim Russert as having actually observed a UFO of some sort – this in the company of his wife and their friend Shirley MacLaine. For weeks to follow, Kucinich was unable to make an appearance without being questioned about the sighting. He soon tired of defending his perceptions and began responding to such questions with some humor, as in this interview with a Michigan radio station: “I later learned after this story surfaced that 40 million Americans have seen things in the sky that they thought they couldn’t identify. I also learned that President Reagan and President Carter at one time or another saw UFOs. So it may just be that seeing a UFO is a prerequisite to becoming President.”

But once the pundits and talking heads grew tired of working over Kucinich, they turned on Bill Richardson. Their reason being, that he was Governor of New Mexico, and attacking the credibility of the Roswell incident has remained fair game for the uninformed. Richardson is a political realist, and as a viable contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination, acted quickly to control political fallout, within days disavowing any public pretense of taking the subject seriously, but not in a mean-spirited or undiplomatic manner: “…I promote Roswell as a tourism issue, but there is no credible evidence… I’ve never seen one. I doubt their existence, but I admit, I’m the governor of the state and I push the tourism promotion side…” Put yourself in the Governor’s place for a moment and you’ll begin to appreciate why such a response was, regrettably, both rational and appropriate.

A few examples of professional politicians whose careers intersected with a subject encumbered by such a virulent ridicule factor that even a passing association with it can mark or damage a career, or leave the individual fighting for their political life. It is not out of the question we may someday find ourselves with a President who, through one channel or another, learns enough, and becomes passionate enough about the subject in the process of learning about it, that they decide to put themselves squarely on the line, then cross it, ‘need to know’ be damned. This of course dependent on the possibility that such an independent, Executive undertaking has ever even has the possibility of succeeding. Short of mass UFO landings, such a Presidential directive would seem to have a significant potential to help shine a light on all of those long buried telex’s, cablegrams, reports, orders, memoranda, and technical analyses. Anyone waiting for assistance from that small army of unnamed, appointed bureaucrats whose security clearances and positions allow them to hold sway over the temporary occupants of the highest offices in the land, may be waiting for a very long time. Had Governor Richardson been nominated and elected in 2008, then given a chance to learn the answers to some of the questions he’d asked in 2004, it might have been President Richardson who finally bucked the system.

But we live in a democracy and the ideal would be for the House and/or Senate to spearhead such an initiative. The key to this possibility is education, but that necessitates a willingness to be educated. My guess is that taking time from their busy schedules to study the evidence supporting UFO reality holds a low priority for the overwhelming majority of current office holders. Short of allowing them to view a recovered extraterrestrial craft and its cryogenically suspended crew, my vote would be to lock them all into Roswell’s International UFO Museum and Research Center for a month and have them begin to work their ways through its world-class library. Regrettably the logistical and legal problems involved preclude this possibility.

Attending UFO conferences is a practical way to gain information on the subject. Again, enticing our dignitaries to register is something else. I remember the surprise I felt when I learned that Claiborne Pell, then the Senior Senator from Rhode Island, was sitting just a few aisles from me during a lecture at MUFON’s 1987 Symposium. This was at American University in Washington, D.C. At the break some of us approached him and asked why he was there. Pell responded with a smile that he was also interested in the subject – in his capacity as a private citizen, of course. Finding a ranking American senator at a UFO conference is, well, extremely rare. There was however a privately funded effort to place quality UFO evidence in the hands of the executive and legislative branches and the driving force behind it was one of the wealthiest men in America.

Laurance Rockefeller’s* name was first publicly linked with the subject in 1995 with the publication of a series of newspaper articles. His interest quickly accelerated into activism, the end result of which was the Unidentified Flying Objects Briefing Document: the Best Available Evidence. This was accomplished with the aid of two old friends who shared his passionate interest; Sandra Wright and Marie Galbraith – wife of our then-Ambassador to France and daughter-in-law of the economist John Kenneth Galbraith. They were assisted in their efforts by members of The Fund For UFO Research. The document’s actual writers were the Fund’s Don Berliner, Galbraith, and veteran Ufologist Antonio Huneeus.

In December 1995, copies of the handsomely bound 170 page report were delivered to every congressman and house member, and as I understood it, the President, Vice President, cabinet level officials and other Washington movers and shakers. But its impact was considerably less than Laurence and his colleagues had hoped for. Whatever disappointment they may have felt was compounded by the outing which he and Galbraith received on the front page of The New York Observer. On April 8, 1996 the weekly published an extremely mocking article entitled “Rockefeller Greets Aliens! A Rich Guy’s UFO Dream.” It was accompanied by a huge cartoon of Laurence and Marie running through Washington shielding themselves from a sky filled with flying saucers and aliens. Even billionaires are subject to embarrassment and Mr. Rockefeller was no exception. Both he and Galbraith withdrew from any publicly expressed interest in the subject and returned to their private lives. The Best Available Evidence was later published as a mass market paperback, but in the end the results of the efforts expended by this dedicated group were next to nil. The ridicule factor has spared few who sought the public airing of UFO related information. Rich man, Presidential candidates, Presidents, it doesn’t matter.

The declassification of compelling UFO documents would go a long way in allowing elected officials to once and for all break through the ridicule barrier and take the subject seriously in public discourse. Yet the chances for declassification and dissemination are limited at best if politicians and influential public figures remain fearful of taking an open and courageous stand. The essence of this problem was summed up by the late Dr. James E. McDonald, University of Arizona atmospheric physicist and pioneering Ufologist: “The scientific community as a whole does not take the U.F.O. problem seriously because it lacks experimental data, but it lacks experimental data because it does not take the problem seriously. It is like the youth of 20 who cannot find a job because he lacks experience and lacks experience because he cannot find a job.” But an even greater obstacle to resolving this conundrum is the often invoked term, ‘National Security,’ or perhaps more accurate to this discussion, national insecurity. As such, it’s imperative we take this phrase and its interpretations to task.

* Personal note: Laurance (correct spelling, he was named after his mother, Laura) Rockefeller spent much of his adult life as a philanthropist, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to the establishment and upkeep of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, wetlands and other environmental causes. In the early nineteen eighties he became interested in the work of a small but dedicated non-profit repertory theater company which I house managed. For the next five or six years Rockefeller quietly underwrote the production of about a dozen of the Off Broadway plays we produced, and in the process helped to keep dozens of our actors, technical and support personnel employed, something for which I will always be grateful to him. During that period I saw him several times a season during which we’d usually find a few minutes to chat, mostly about the current production.

Some years later, in late 1994 or early 1995 as best I remember, I received a call from someone particularly close to Rockefeller who also happened to be a good friend of mine. After securing my absolute discretion in the matter, they told me that over the preceding months Laurance had quite simply become obsessed with the subject of UFOs and the government’s seeming cover-up of information relating to them. This was informing more and more of their conversations and the friend had grown concerned that if this preoccupation continued to grow, Laurance might begin to seek information or advice from people who would either take advantage of his position and standing, or supply him with specious data. Could I put together a reading list of what I felt were the best UFO books available and assemble a collection of declassified documents and reports which would serve as a proper introduction to the subject? The friend would be glad to pay my copying costs. I agreed of course and set to work.

A week or so later I informed them that the material was ready, along with a cover letter noting my willingness to meet or speak with the recipient and do my best to answer any questions the papers might generate. The friend asked me to deliver the material at a specified date and time. True to form Mr. Rockefeller maintained an office on the top floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and a security officer at the information desk directed me to a special elevator. Once it reached the top floor the door opened directly into an exterior office where another security officer stood waiting for me. “Mr. Robbins?” he asked, eyeing the parcel I held. “Yes.” I answered. “I’ll take that” he responded. I handed it to him, he thanked me, and that was that.

I received a final call from the friend soon after, thanking me on behalf of Laurance and saying he appreciated the material and the time I’d taken to organize and copy it. Not long after this Rockefeller began to establish his own contacts within the UFO research community, becoming friends with Budd Hopkins and John Mack, among others, and going on to spearhead the funding, publication and distribution of The Unidentified Flying Objects Briefing Document.

The Question of National Security

“It is my view that this situation has possible implications for our national security which transcend the interests of a single service.” — General William Bedell Smith, Director of the CIA from 1950-53

“It is time for the truth to be brought out in open Congressional hearings. Behind the scenes high ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about the UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense.” — Admiral Roscoe Hillenkotter, Director of the CIA from 1947-50

Like beauty, national security seems to exist in the eye of the beholder. What currently classified UFO related information constitutes a threat to legitimate and rational national security concerns? The dictionary defines the word “security” in part as, “The state of being secure; freedom from danger.” Will widespread knowledge of the truth about UFOs, the intelligences behind them, and the implications of both tend to increase or decrease the potential for danger to our citizenry? Opinions on this vary.

One faction maintains the status quo should be upheld and the secret keeping continue until such a time when the government decides on its own to reverse their standing policy. Another supports full and complete declassification and dissemination and nothing less. A third advocates release and publication with some specific reservations. The rest of us remain conflicted and likely a little overwhelmed by the ramifications of any of these decisions. Which national security concerns should help guide our thinking here? It appears that striking a balance between society’s and the individual’s right to know while simultaneously protecting the legitimate concerns of National Security is a problem of the first order.

Nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman remains one of the UFO field’s ranking figures and is one of only a small handful of Ufologists to have actually held security clearances. In Friedman’s case, during his fourteen years of work on the development of a wide variety of advanced classified nuclear and space systems for such companies as GE, GM, Westinghouse, McDonnell Douglas and Aerojet General Nucleonics. Though an advocate of releasing UFO related information, he remains opposed to doing so without reservation and maintains: “There is a real need for recognition of the security aspects and that one can’t tell one’s friends without telling one’s enemies… Instead I believe that any such announcement should be on an international basis along with an announcement that international conferences will be held to deal with the religious, economic and political aspects of the new world situation that would occur once disclosure has been made. Planning will be required.”

Friedman’s co-author of Captured: The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, Kathleen Marden, is also a proponent of limited declassification and release, and has had decades to consider the question from a particularly unique point of view. She is the niece of Betty Hill, one of the world’s best-known UFO abductees, has served on the MUFON Board of Directors as their Director of Field Investigator Training, and has a background in both social work and education. Marden’s training and education has left her concerned about “social unrest, depending on what’s released.” Her main concern is “the uncertainly regarding the sociological, religious and economic impact of full disclosure,” and she does not mince her words in articulating them:

“We currently have a situation where an alien civilization can visit us at will, abduct and experiment upon us and harvest our natural resources. We are completely helpless to protect ourselves politically and militarily. My primary questions are as follows: How would we proceed after disclosure? Would we normalize relations with them, or do they feel so technologically, intellectually and emotionally superior to us that they think of us as primitives, unworthy of standing on equal ground? Would they then land at will in full public view? Would they openly abduct us? Would full disclosure lead to a chaotic society and the degradation of cultural values? Would it lead to a rise in alcoholism and drug abuse? Full disclosure does not necessarily imply the sharing of technology and it could have a disastrous impact upon our civilization.”

Ms. Marden’s concerns fall squarely within the realm of national security and the questions she poses are not new ones. Early support for caution is reflected in the conclusions of the Brookings Institution’s 1960 report, “Proposed Study on the Implications for Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs.” This paper, prepared at the request of NASA, supported the idea of an extraterrestrial presence and warned that actual contact might result in a certain amount of social chaos, a shaken faith in our scientific establishment, and a crisis of faith for religious fundamentalists.

The state of being secure. Freedom from danger. Is it possible for the truth about UFOs and their implications to coexist with a true state of national security? Our system of government grants us the option to set limits on openness, just as long as the public has the final say in determining whether ‘the truth shall set them free’ or ‘ignorance is bliss.’ It’s difficult to know how to resolve this contradiction. Consider the following.

It is now sometime in the future and our government is in the process of methodically revealing information about UFOs and the intelligences behind them. The truth about alien abductions has caused a certain amount of shock across the nation and around the world, and in-depth stories on abduction are now regularly featured in magazines, newspapers, TV shows and of course on the Internet. The time has now come to tell the public about human-alien hybrids. Even for someone like me, a research specialist who spent years working directly with this subject’s seminal investigator, Budd Hopkins, this remains extremely disturbing territory. But the public is told, in as reassuring a manner as possible, that, among other things, these half-human half-other beings are the result of an ongoing alien effort involving human females to create a hybrid species. Then the public learns that some hybrids are so human looking in appearance they are able to pass among us without being noticed. Aliens among us? Aliens who look like people? Possibly living in the apartment across the hall or the house around the corner? Not on my planet. How long will be before the nightly news reports that a person now in police custody took a shot at someone with wispy blonde hair they were sure was staring at them across a restaurant, or winged that geeky guy who speaks in a monotone and is known to have an interest in UFOs? Any positive benefits of declassification and release would have been far outweighed by the negative impact on their security, national or otherwise.

Admittedly, this is an extreme example and a worst case scenario, but I don’t think an unfair one to cite. Its been said that the most dangerous drug in the world is testosterone. Add to that an overload of extremely frightening information and a firearm and you have an equation none of us want to see factored into the declassification process. What then is the balancing point between truth and security? I wish I knew.

Organized Religion and the Impact of Declassification

“We are not authorized to exclude that on another star beings do exist, even if they are completely different from us.” — Cardinal Nicolò Cusano, philosopher and scientist, 1401-1464

“It is absurd to claim that the worlds surrounding us are large, uninhabited deserts and that the meaning of the universe lies just in our small, inhabited planet.” — The Jesuit Father and astronomer Fr. Angelo Secchi, 1818-1876

“It seems to be in accordance with the aim of the world that inhabitable celestial bodies are settled by creatures that recognize the glory of God in the physical beauties of their worlds, in the same way man does with his smaller world.” — Joseph Pohle, German theologian 1904

Some months back my friend Bridget and I were discussing the potential impact which official confirmation of UFO reality might have on the country’s religious communities. Her take on the subject was of particular interest to me as she is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Bridget followed up with an email, part of which underscored a particularly serious thought, but had me laughing just the same: “The other day Jonathan and I were watching that funny and annoyingly disturbing cartoon, “Family Guy” and Peter Griffin (do you ever watch this program?) is afraid to go to the store Bed, Bath and Beyond because even though he’s okay with going into the Bed and Bath part of the store, he’s afraid of going into the Beyond section! They show him entering through a door where he is immediately sucked into the world of weird equations and other oddities floating all around him. … I wanted to use it as part of a sermon illustration but didn’t want to admit that I watch “Family Guy”!”

Bridget’s observation is at once wise, funny and poignant. Most people seem far more comfortable in Bed and Bath than they do in Beyond. Religion offers us the potential for protection of a higher power as well as a set of beliefs that we can hold fast to and draw comfort from when the ‘Beyond,’ or unknown comes calling. The dictionary defines “faith” as “unflagging trust; belief without firm proof; belief in a supreme being; a religion.” None of us can say with any certainty how followers of the world’s religions will take to the idea that they share the universe with other intelligent beings, or with an assortment of them for that matter, something which, in the interpretations of many, is not referred to or discussed in their holy texts. Surmounting the problems associated with this perceived lapse will be easier for people of faith to overcome if their traditions allow for some latitude in the interpretation of their religious teachings, less so for those who hold that their beliefs and holy texts are sacrosanct and not open to interpretation.

We can assume that the relevant surveys and polls taken over the past few decades which indicate a majority of Americans feel there is intelligent life in space include a good percentage of individuals who, if asked, would identify themselves as people of faith. I’ve taken my own informal poll of Christian and Jewish friends, and listened to the views of Muslim and Hindu ones on the subject. To a person, all were in agreement that if our government ever confirmed the reality of UFOs, and stated that some were likely extraterrestrial in origin, their faith God and in their religions would remain unshaken. While entirely unscientific in its approach, the results of my inquiry tend to refute those of the Brookings Institution’s study, in relation to all but the beliefs of religious fundamentalists. Thankfully there is no need to lean on my data.

The September, 2008, issue of the MUFON UFO Journal featured the results of a survey conducted by Rev. Ted Peters and his associate Julie Froehlig. It was published under the title, “Is Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life a Threat to Religion?,” and is very much worth reading. The goal of “The Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey” was to test whether or not contact between Earth and an extraterrestrial civilization would result in a crisis (or even collapse) of belief among the religious traditions of Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, Jews, and Buddhists. The survey found that for the most part religious persons do not fear contact.” Somewhat surprisingly, a secondary finding was that a majority of non-religious respondents were the ones most concerned about such a crisis occurring.

How should theologians react to the religious implications of the ‘official’ discovery or acknowledgment of extraterrestrial (or other unearthly) life? What models should be considered in counseling their flocks, especially the more skittish among them?

In 1937 the Jesuit theologian Herbert Thurston wrote, “From a logical point of view, Christians that accept miracles and other episodes related on the Gospel “… cannot reject in a obstinate way the reiterated testimonies of modern and reliable witnesses that relate what their eyes have seen.” There are a number of other religious arguments that can be made in favor of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, some of which are reflected in the quotations preceding this section. The late Monsignor Corrado Balducci was a Vatican theologian and insider best known for his public pronouncements on the UFO phenomenon. He maintained that extraterrestrial contact is a real phenomenon and “not due to psychological impairment,” nor did he see this belief “in conflict with the Christian religion.” On October 8, 1995, he caused a major stir among Ufologists , and I daresay a good number of Roman Catholics, when he appeared on Italian National Television and stated, that “Extraterrestrials do exist,” and “… if 99 out of 100 {UFO reports} were false and that one was true, it’s that one that says some phenomenon exist.” It’s worth noting that some years earlier, Stanton Friedman said, “The question is not whether all UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin, but are any? The evidence indicates some are.”

It was the Monsignor’s contention that after excluding such conventional anomalies as “light effects,” atmospheric phenomena, clouds, ball lightning, etc, and factoring in some common sense, human rationalism and the testimony of hundreds of thousands of reliable eyewitness accounts worldwide, “it seems impossible to deny at a rational level that something real does exist!” It was also his belief there may be other inhabited planets, and noted that “In the Bible there are not specific allusions to other living beings, but neither is it excluded {in} this hypothesis.” A review of the Monsignor’s arguments can be found in his paper, “Ufology and Theological Clarifications.”

There is no way that a Prelate of Balducci’s stature would have been allowed to express the public views he did without the expressed permission of the Vatican. Whatever the Church’s innermost reasons for embarking on such a program, it represents a truly revolutionary approach to an extraordinarily complex problem: how to make the faithful aware of this presence in an officially sanctioned manner, and in the process, prepare them for at least some of the information which declassification and release would reveal. Other religious leaders who appreciate the seriousness of this situation might do well to consider applying a similar strategy tailored to the needs of their followers. I would recommend they begin by reading any of the following books: UFO and the Bible by M.K. Jessup, The Bible and Flying Saucers by Rev. Barry Downing, The Spaceships of Ezekel by Joseph F. Blumrich, and The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin.

Fundamentalism and UFOs

“…no reasonable mind can assume that heavenly bodies which may be far more magnificent than ours would not bear upon them creatures similar or even superior to those upon our human Earth.” — Giordano Bruno, Italian scientist-philosopher, arrested in 1592 and burned to death as a heretic in 1600

“I believe in G-O-D, not U-F-O.” — Mike Huckabee, evangelical Christian minister, former Governor of Arkansas, and former candidate for President

The results of The Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey do not take into account the UFO related beliefs of religious fundamentalists, Christian or otherwise, and we should strive to understand what they are. If we fail to do so our ignorance may result in some very rough going. Reverend Bridget offered me a good starting point, “… the interesting part about the religious beliefs and the skepticism about UFO reality, is that religious fundamentalists are willing to literally believe in angels and miracles as recorded in the Bible because the Bible is their authority, but dismiss other concepts that could explain the same sort of phenomena. I also think the fascination and fear of the unknown is in many ways why religion, especially the fundamentalist, black and white brand, thrives and mainline gray area faiths are struggling.”

I first became interested in the UFO related beliefs of fundamentalists a dozen years ago, and not for the best of reasons. It followed my learning of a broadcast of the popular evangelical television show, “The 700 Club.” The program aired on July 8, 1997 and featured an exchange about the then current Mars Pathfinder Mission. The discussion soon shifted to the possibility of aliens from space and UFOs. It was then that host Pat Robertson stated it was his firm belief that, even if they were real, such ‘aliens’ were really demons whose intention was to lead people away from Christ. His opinion allowed for no possibility that an actual space alien had ever made its way to Earth, even for a brief visit. In fact the situation was so grave, maintained Robertson, that those who actually believe that space aliens were real should be put to death by stoning.

I had never heard of anyone holding such a draconian view in all the years I’d been involved in UFO studies. Was this an isolated position or one shared by others who adhered to Mr. Robertson’s religious beliefs? My UFO related views and opinions are not faith-based and it was difficult for me to take in how someone could claim to know what I considered the unknowable. In this case, the absence of any possibility the Earth has ever been visited by intelligent beings from another planet, solar system, galaxy, dimension or time. Intolerance should always be taken seriously, and soon afterwards the journal Freedom Writer included a commentary about the show, saying, in part: “As the founder and chairman of the Christian Coalition – a group dedicated to becoming the most powerful political force in America – Mr. Robertson’s extreme ideas need to be taken seriously, for they not only negate pluralism, but condemn to death those who dare to believe differently.”

We Americans have the right to hold whatever religious beliefs we wish, including the right not to believe, just so long as our beliefs do not impinge on the rights of others. My readings on the broadcast included a pair of books on Christian fundamentalist beliefs as they pertained to the UFO phenomenon, UFOs and Their Mission Impossible, and the more luridly titled UFOs: Satanic Terror. Both underscored Mr. Robertson’s basic belief – not that you should stone to death those whose UFO conclusions differed from yours, but that we were misguided souls whose secular, scientific and historic views were only leading us further from Christ’s teachings and any understanding of the revealed word. In the opinion of the authors it came down to this: that as no direct references to extraterrestrials or their applied technology appear in the Old or New Testament, all anomalous UFOs are demonic in origin and among the signs and portents predicted in the Book of Revelations.

In an effort to better understand fundamentalist UFO beliefs, I put a series of questions to three people I know who were qualified to answer them. My good friend Kim, a Christian fundamentalist, and Joseph Jordan and Guy Malone, Christian fundamentalists with an established involvement in UFO studies. All were gracious and forthcoming in responding to my questions, even the most difficult of them.

Malone observed that, “Like most secular people, most Christians have not made this an independent topic of research, and therefore their opinions are largely shaped (like all) through what they see on television and movies, and their own ponderings. Adding any form of religious belief in God to the question of life on other planets, and you typically get the same response from religious adults as you do from a religious 12-year old : “Well I suppose God could have created life on other planets if he wanted to…” (add disclosure event here, and it becomes) “.. and now the government says it’s true so I guess it is.”

All three adhere to a literal interpretation of The New and The Old Testament, and were in agreement that, as neither holy book contained any literal, direct reference to aliens from space, the notion was excluded from their beliefs, an argument, regrettably, which the Roman Catholic Church used in the 1500s to destroy the native populations of the Americas. The “antipods,” as they were called, could be nothing but Satanic because nothing in Scripture even alluded to their presence.

Kim, Joe and Guy share the view that the intelligences behind the UFO phenomenon are not from another star system or planet, but interdimensional entities, demonic in nature, pretending to be aliens. A fallen angel is able to manifest itself in physical form. Satanic craft are able to make it appear they originate from somewhere out it space. Jordan added that the demon hypothesis was rooted in the belief that ‘they’ were preaching a new, and by extension, blasphemous gospel which included a message given to some abductees and contactees that ‘they’ were the true creators of our religions. This is seen as a key deception that can only be attributed to Satan. As to how Christian fundamentalists as a whole may respond to any official pronouncement that UFOs and aliens were real – and that at least some of are extraterrestrial in nature, Malone felt, “..they would react to a government disclosure announcement with disbelief, and possibly conclude that said government is either in collusion with the fallen angels, or deceived by them..”

Strong words. The possibility of citizens convinced the government is in collusion with or deceived by fallen angels. What if the government does implement a declassification process which supports an extraterrestrial explanation? Might not some of the more extremist fundamentalists conclude that elements within the government were now, bluntly put, in league with Satan? And if so, might not acts of domestic terrorism be an appropriate response? I respectfully noted that the self-professed Christian Timothy McVeigh’s justification for bombing the federal offices housed in the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was to strike back at the government for its botched mishandling of the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, a year to the day prior. McVey’s unconscionable act resulted in the deaths of 168 men, women and children and the complete destruction of the building and remained the greatest single act of domestic terrorism until September 11, 2001. All of my respondents sadly agreed such a possibility would not be out of the question, but that such an action would only be undertaken by a true extremist, an acknowledged reality in all religions. They also agreed that no true believer – meaning someone who has established a personal relationship with Jesus and maintained a ‘heart belief’ as opposed to a ‘mind belief’ in his or her Christianity – would ever take part in such a heinous act, but instead would do everything within their power to preclude it.

Jordan summed up, that as an Evangelical Christian who at one time had been an agnostic, and been involved in metaphysical studies, he supports the release of all pertinent, classified UFO information. He feels this would result in an honest discussion between the citizenry and the government, cause Christians to finally wake up, and act as a call for everyone to make a choice: between an extraterrestrial or other hypothesis, and the UFO beliefs held by Christian fundamentalists.

The UFO beliefs of other faiths religious extremists vary, but I do have a particular concern about the rise to power of the reactionary Taliban, as intolerant and vindictive a fundamentalist religious sect as the world has seen. We do not know what their reaction to an official endorsement of an extraterrestrial reality might be, but I’m convinced it will be seen as a heresy and in some manner interpreted as in direct violation of their interpretation of The Koran. Such a threat to the fundamentalist Muslim way of life will only be compounded if it originates with ‘The Great Satan,’ that is, America. Lets remember that other perceived insults to the faith ranging from infidel troops on the ground in Saudi Arabia to disrespectful political cartoons published in a Danish newspaper, have resulted in the destruction of property, the deaths of many people, and out-and-out Jihad.

Thinking Out Loud

“In the very middle of the Near East crisis, UN Secretary General Thant took time to do a very significant thing. He arranged to have one of the top advocates of the theory that flying saucers – UFOs – are from another planet, speak before the Outer Space Affairs Committee of the UN. Interesting fact is that U Thant has confided to friends that he considers UFOs the most important problem facing the UN.” — Nationally syndicated newspaper columnists Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, 1967

“… those in government who have knowledge showing UFOs are identifiable feel the subject cannot be discussed by those in the know without serious repercussions. Others are afraid their friends and co-workers will think they are crazy if they even so much as insinuate that UFOs are identifiable as manned craft from outside the Earth. This particularly applies to newspaper editors and publishers, reporters and analysts.” — Sarah McClendon, career journalist and former White House correspondent

“I sincerely hope you are successful in preventing a reopening of UFO investigations.” — USAF Colonel Charles H. Senn, Chief Community Relations Division Office of Information, from a September 1, 1977 letter to NASA

Just how should our government go about initiating the process we contemplate here? I share the conviction that any such announcement and initiative be made on an international basis supported by careful and thoughtful planning. In no way however does this preclude initiating the process of declassifying thousands of lower and mid level UFO related documents and posting them to a Department of Defense website as they become available, much in the manner currently being undertaken by Her Majesty’s Department of Defence. Time and attention should be spent studying the impact which online posting has on the public consciousness and taken into consideration as planning continues.

Should our government choose to proceed beyond such a basic plan, what follow are a series of steps they might wish to consider. This of course precluding the possibilities that, 1. Such an undertaking is even possible, that such actions are not already under consideration, or that they, or one’s similar have already been implemented. The reasons I feel we should not expect to see any such initiatives undertaken at present are purely political in nature.

If you are old enough to have been involved in UFO studies during the Watergate era, you may recall a brief but pervasive rumor that swept through Ufology at the time. It came and went as the revelations of Republican Party corruption mounted and consensus within the then ongoing Senate hearings was tipping more and more toward the possibility of Presidential impeachment. The repeated buzz was that Nixon was seriously considering declassifying and releasing UFO related files in a last ditch effort to redirect public attention from his own spiraling journey down the political drain. Of course this never happened, but it actually would not have been a bad strategy for the increasingly desperate President to take in turning our collective focus toward a far greater issue, and one that just might have resulted in a temporary standing down from Watergate for the sake of stability during a national, and by extension, international crisis.

Support him or revile him, our current President is now responsible for a national economy in full scale crisis, a hot war and a very warm war, an aging infrastructure in grave need of attention, and a nation overdue for revised energy and environmental policies, these for starters. How would news that the President has become interested in UFOs and aliens be greeted? Even in the best of times, its difficult to say, but my personal thoughts are that any interest he might publically exhibit – no matter how seemingly inconsequential – will inevitably be seen by many as a desperate attempt to turn the nation’s eyes from the all-too-Earthy problems and challenges he faces. This could result in an all-out assault and absolute field day for his opponents – and many of his supporters – uniting as nothing else could under a banner of every single flying saucer and little green men insult, slur, aside and putdown. Even so, none of these considerations needs stand in the way of Mr. Obama’s discretely learning more about the subject now. It also seems to me that a web-based airing of at least some currently classified UFO documents could be undertaken and accomplished without directly involving the President, an important plus in helping to deflect or bypass the ridicule, at least initially, which would likely result.

Qualified members of the President’s staff might then begin to quietly select, vet and assemble trusted personnel to form the core of a highly classified working group charged with beginning to draft a workable plan with any eye on implementation when the political and financial climates stabilize to some degree. Through secured channels representatives of the working group could then begin to make contact with some of the officials who were involved in declassifying and posting UFO information in their own countries in order to take advantage of their experience and lessons they may have learned in the process of doing so. A liaison between the working group and appropriate personnel within Her Majesty’s Ministry of Defence would be of particular value, given the long and close relationship existing between our governments. Subject to the approval of the President, our Ambassador to the United Nations should also receive a limited briefing on this undertaking in preparation for a time when he or she may be called upon to network with their colleagues in the international community. And if they have not already begun to do so, the United States should encourage other world leaders to initiate the establishment of similar working groups within their own governments. An individual of the President’s choosing should then be appointed chairperson. They in turn should begin to seek out those best qualified to become members of a larger international committee, one charged with creating a workable worldwide strategy appropriate to such a far-reaching undertaking.

One of the working group’s first jobs should be to vet, or to re-vet the relatively small group of bureaucrats cleared to review and declassify the veritable warehouse of waiting documents. I say ‘re-vet’ in that there may be personnel among those charged with this exclusive responsibility who might base their decisions to declassify or not on reasons of conscience or religious opposition, much as a pharmacist might refuse to sell birth control to someone they deemed inappropriate on moral or religious grounds. But all candidates under consideration for the national working group and committee into which it will evolve will need to be screened and cleared to ensure they have both the emotional stability and intellectual capacity to deal with the increasingly stressful realizations they will face during the course of their work. To reiterate: whether religious or agnostic, technically-minded or artistic in background, all possible should be done to ensure that the men and women involved are open-minded, well-rounded and be able to ‘take it’ when it comes to introducing issues such as alien-human breeding, missing pregnancies, human-hybrids, and the possibilities their presences imply. In the words of Karl Abraham, former science writer for The Philadelphia Enquirer, “If the enquiring scientist can’t stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.”

Who should be considered for membership in such a committee? Without question, leading members of our scientific community and qualified individuals in such diverse fields the military, intelligence, economics, physics, anthropology, law, communications, crisis intervention, medicine, mental health, defense industry, journalism, publishing, print and broadcast media, education, diplomacy, political science, theology, philosophy, sociology, social work and the film industry, along with representative members of the House and Senate. For good measure I would include balanced representation from the President’s Board of Religious advisors, a political scientist, cultural, folk, and military historians, a child behaviorist, several respected writers and artists, an astronaut or two, and, yes, a select number of Ufologists. Frankly, I would rather be subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques than cite my preferred choices here, but they should certainly include experienced, leading figures in their specialty areas of study. It would be their job initially to help establish a ‘curriculum’ that the others could follow in commencing their Ufological education. Once such this was established and underway, these Ufologists would remain available to advise and consent with the diverse mix of committee members.

Needless to say, committee members would have to be sworn to the strictest confidence, at least during the initial phases of their work, both to allow for the freest flow of information between them, and to better assure that participants were confident that their involvement would not become the subject of irresponsible media leaks. I cannot prove this, but I strongly suspect that back in the forties, key members of the Truman Administration were called upon to brief a select number of America’s most powerful publishers and broadcast magnates on the seriousness of the UFO problem and, citing national security concerns with an additional appeal to their patriotism, were able to enroll such business leaders in helping to keep the secret through a program of stilted reportage. Likely professional peer pressure played more of a part in this than direct orders from any editor, publisher or reporter, but however this pattern was set in motion, it was extremely effective and thrives to this day. It’s worth noting however that the great majority of local newspapers around the nation remained – and continue to remain – immune to this trend, but then their honest and sometimes laudatory coverage has rarely been featured in the nationals. At some point in the committee’s work, this process should be repeated, but in reverse, allowing for an appropriate shift in UFO news coverage and reporting that encourages editors, publishers, and network executives to give their reporters and producers the consent and encouragement they will need to retool their historic treatment of this subject. It would be ideal for this to coincide with limited, online declassification of UFO documents on a dedicated DoD website.

By this stage, governments are hopefully falling into line behind each other and progressing along the same general course. Meetings and conferences would now be regularly scheduled in more and more countries, each attended by representatives of their and other county’s committees, all doing their best to share new developments on their growing findings and learning all they are able from their growing pool of knowledge. Some of the actions contemplated or generated at such gatherings may lean toward the incalculable. A subject that is sure to arise is, should governments begin to institute guidelines for the training of a new breed of diplomat? Should the members of such a new diplomatic corps lean toward representing their own governments or only work in concert?

Many will disagree, but I question the potential effectiveness of such a diplomatic undertaking. The documented behavior of many of these intelligences indicates, to some of us at least, that, not only can they read our minds, but that they have the power to cloud them, creating scenarios in which we perceive something to be other than what it actually is. Certainly history may prove me wrong, but I think such an effort will turn out to be more symbolic than practical. On a decidedly human note, would such go-betweens – especially those representing the more powerful and influential governments – attempt to cut separate deals calculated to (hopefully) secure better terms or treatment for their citizenry? Then again, perhaps just for their elite, say anyone with the right connections or earning in excess of, oh, twenty million dollars a year? The possibilities spiral beyond imagination.

Shared knowledge and careful study may result in our confirming that some of the ‘thems’ are generally passive and more intent on observing our species than interacting with it. There may be others who seem benevolent and demonstrate the potential of becoming allies against more predatory species. Then again, deception seems to underscore so much of the behavior I’ve learned to attribute to these other intelligences, why should we take even our own best conclusions at face value? It may also emerge that others are more aggressive in nature and that we would be wise to consider new means of defense and defense strategies – if this is even a possibility. At some point, even if just for some fictional perspective, representatives may want to call for a screening of the classic “Twilight Zone” episode, “To Serve Man,” with its wonderful ‘cookbook’ ending. And so these international dialogues will continue to develop and refine themselves.

Overall, the public airing of some of the information culled from such ongoing activities may prove to yield a social and political climate increasingly free of the ridicule factor, one that would allow for a heretofore unknown exchange of honest and genuine UFO related concerns and considerations at every level of society. A secondary, but crucially important result would be that for the first time, elected officials, scientists, and other public figures would finally feel safe enough to openly go on record with their opinions, beliefs, suggestions and even fears on the matter. As each new finding, fact, and opinion are assimilated by an increasingly aware public, the next wave of releases may be a bit easier to grasp, accept and incorporate into our newly evolving understanding of ourselves, and of our place in the greater scheme of things. I’d like to think an additional byproduct of this process will be a kind of de-facto reconciliation with our government over their historic compulsion to cover-up and hoard the unnerving information they’ve been collecting and classifying for decades.

A final benefit, or danger, depending on your point of view, is that many of us may actually begin to think of ourselves as human beings first, and as Americans, Christians, Jews, Hindus, black, white or brown second. While warm and New-Agey in concept, such a reapportionment of humanity’s priorities may bring with it a very real potential for conflict between those who grow to embrace this view, and those who do not. Member of the ‘humans first’ contingent will be more difficult for government and organized religion to control or manipulate, and drive many who already fear government intervention, the evils of FEMA, creeping socialism and the eroding of what they consider their God-given rights to begin to behave in increasingly reactionary ways. The knowledge we acquire may bring with it a whole new set of fears of the unknown to replace our preexisting ones, no matter how farsighted and thoughtful the planning we institute proves to be.

With so much uncertainty playing across the horizon, my thoughts return to President Reagan’s carefully crafted statement, “In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” Will the ‘threat’ he referred to turn out to be another fear of the unknown, or a viable, definable, real world threat, like getting hit in the head by some cosmic baseball bat? Will declassification and the revelations it is sure to bring with it assist us in addressing the threat he refers to, or will it make us more vulnerable to it? Some believe they have the answer to this question but I am not one of them. The only thing I know for sure is that if the government of the United States and that of its sister governments, acting on behalf of a representative number of “we the people,” resolve to open this Pandora’s box, we had better be prepared to take full responsibility for whatever follows in its wake. For once opened, the concept of ‘limited’ declassification and publication may prove as difficult to control as spilled mercury.

I have a quotation posted over my desk that’s been with me for years. It’s from Mark Twain, one of my favorite writers, and it says: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Let us hope that if and when it comes to reaching a final decision about this, our President – or whoever proves to be responsible for such a decision – will weigh all of the options fully and thoughtfully, surround him or herself with the very best people possible, and implement the right plan, and not the almost right plan. It may prove to be the most far-reaching decision any President, or anyone else for that matter, will ever make.

References
1. 12th Planet, The; Sitchin, Zecharia, Bear & Company, Santa Fe, NM, this ed 1991 (general reference)
2. Abovetopsecert.com interview with Shirley MacLaine, November 2007
3. Aliens From Space; Keyhoe, Maj. Donald, Doubleday & Co., NY, 1973, p.p. 89-90
4. A Survey of Press Coverage of Unidentified Flying Objects, 1947 – 1966; Strentz, Herbert J., Dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of the Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctorate of Philosophy, June 1970, p.p. 242
5. Beyond Top Secret; Good, Timothy, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1996, p.p. 259, 539
6. Bible & Flying Saucers, The; Downing, Rev. Barry H., Avon, NY, 1968 (general ref.)
7. From features@seacoastonline.com, “Call for Obama to open UFO files” by Dean Merchant, January 18, 2009
8. Cameron, Grant website; Jimmy Carter quote and Joseph Biden quote, this in response to the question, Do you believe in UFOs? http://www.presidentialufo.com/
9. “Carter Sighting, The, The A.P.R.O. Bulletin; November 1976, p.p. 1, 4-5
10. “Church and Spiritualism, The;” Thurston, Herbert, Milan, 1937; p.p.179
11. Die Sternewelt undihre Bewohner (translation: The Stars of the Universe and Its Inhabitants); Pohle, Joseph, Köln, Germany, 1904, p.p. 457
12. Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 5, No. 6, 1959 – pp. 28; Senator Richard B. Russell quote.
13. Flying Saucers, 101; Burt, Harold E., UFO Magazine Books, 2000, p.p. 96, 100
14. Freedom Writer, July/August 1997; “Pat Robertson advocates death by stoning for UFO enthusiasts”
15. “Proposed Study of the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs,” The Brookings Institution, released December 14, 1960
16. “In Defense of Secrecy,” New York Times Magazine; Feldman, Noah, p.p. 11-12
17. McClendon News Service News Release, March 30, 1998 press release, McClendon, Sarah, White House Correspondent
18. NBC News, October 30, 2007, from Barak Obama’s statement in reply to a question from Tim Russert: “Do you believe there is life beyond earth?
19. “Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey, The;” Peters, Dr. Ted, and Froehlig, Julie, MUFON UFO Journal, September 2008, No. 485, p.p 7-9
20. Reagan, Ronald; a note on the extraterrestrial quotation. My colleague Ron Regehr learned through Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson that the extraterrestrial references included in a number of President Reagan’s speeches were personally inserted by him and not the product of his speechwriters. They are penciled in in the President’s handwriting and archived at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
21. Robertson, Pat, comments from July 8, 1997 broadcast of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s, The 700 Club, and excerpts from their response to Peter Robbins’ letter of August 30, 1997
22. Roswell Dig Diaries, The; Doleman, William H., Carey, Thomas J., Schmitt , Donald R., Richardson, Bill and McAvennie, Mike, SCI FI Channel Books, NY, 2004, from the forward
23. Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects; Condon, Dr. Edward U., Bantam Books, New York, 1968, p.p.1
24. SCI FI Channel News Conference October 22, 2004, quoting John Podesta
25. Spaceships of Ezekiel, The; Blumrich, Josef F., Bantam Books, 1974 (general reference)
26. Thant, U, UN Secretary General reference. This statement appeared in the nationally syndicated newspaper column by Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson on June 27, 1967
27. Traitè de Mètapsychique; Richet, Charles, published in Paris 1922, p.p. 787-788
28. “Unholy Communion: The Unwanted Piece of the Puzzle;” Jordan, Joseph and Ruffino, David, DVD of lecture, CE4 Research Conference, Roswell NM, July 6, 2008
29. UFO and the Bible; Jessup, M.J., Citadel Press, NY, 1956 (general ref)
30. UFOcity.com Report, “UFOs and Intolerance;” Robbins, Peter, parts 1,2, & 3, September, October, November 1999
31. UFO Encyclopedia, The; 2nd Edition, Clark, Jerome, Omnigraphics, Inc., Detroit. Volume 1, p.p.174; Volume 2, p.p. 830-831
32. UFO Encyclopedia, The; Sachs, Margaret, Perigree Books, NYC, 1980, p.p. 225
33. “Ufology and Theological Clarifications;” Balducci, Monsignor Corrado, published Pescara, Italy, 2001 (deceased Sept. 20, 2008)
34. “UFO Research and Christian Faith,” Balthaser, Dennis G, independent investigative writer and columnist, June, 2004
35. UFOs and Extraterrestrials in History; Naud, Yves, Ferni Publishers, Geneva, 1978, volume 4 preface, unnumbered page
36. UFOs and Their Mission Impossible; Wilson, Dr. Clifford, Word of Truth Productions, NY, 1974
37. UFOs and the National Security State; Dolan, Richard M., Hampton Roads Publishing, VA, 2002, p.p. 245
38. UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991; Dolan, Richard M., Keyhole Publishing Co., Rochester, NY, 2009, Introduction, p.p. 5, 6
39. UFOs: Satanic Terror; Tyson, Basil, Horizon Books, Alberta, Canada, 1977 (general ref)
40. Unidentified Flying Objects Briefing Document: The Best Available Evidence; Berliner, Don, Galbraith, Marie, and Huneeus, Antonio, UFO Research Coalition, 1995, p.p. 21, 122, 123, 144, 147
41. “Will Obama Discuss UFO X-Files on Canada Trip;” Lowe, Larry, Phoenix UFO Examiner, February 16, 2009


UN report on UFOs 14-July 1978; Gordon Cooper, Jacques Vallee, Claude Poher, Allen Hynek, Sir Eric M. Gairy with UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim

CLOSE ENCOUNTER with DR. J. ALLEN HYNEK
http://www.cufos.org/index.html
http://www.cun-italia.net/documenti/project.htm
http://www.cohenufo.org/Hynek/hynk_fbi.htm
http://www.cohenufo.org/Hynek/hynk_lgh_study.htm
http://www.cohenufo.org/Hynek/hynkreval_bb.htm#hynekclassif
http://www.cohenufo.org/Hynek/hynk_stacy.htm
by Dennis Stacy / 1985

For over two decades, from 1948 to 1969, Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a consultant in astronomy to the United States Air Force. The subject of his advice, however, was not the fledgling space program or even the moon and stars above, but Unidentified Flying Objects. In 1973 he founded the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and had serves as Director and editor of its journal, “International UFO Reporter.”

STACY: Dr. Hynek, as a scientist, you go back as far with UFO phenomenon as probably anyone alive today. Exactly how did that relationship begin?
HYNEK: That’s an easy story to tell. In the spring of 1948, I was teaching astronomy at Ohio State University, in Columbus. One day thee men, and they weren’t dressed in black, came over to see me from Wright Patterson Air Force Base in nearby Dayton. They started out by talking about the weather, as I remember, and this and that, and then finally one of them asked me what I thought about flying saucers. I told them I thought they were a lot of junk and nonsense and that seemed to please them, so they got down to business. They said they needed some astronomical consultation because it was their job to find out what these flying saucer stories were all about. Some were meteors, they thought, others stars and so on, so they could use an astronomer. What the hell, I said, it sounded like fun and besides, I would be getting a top secret security clearance out of it, too. At that time, it was called Project Sign, and some of the personnel at least were taking the problem quite seriously. At the same time a big split was occurring in the Air Force between two schools of thought. The serious school prepared an estimation of the situation which they sent to General Vandenburg, but the other side eventually won out and the serious ones were shipped off to other places. The negatives won the day, in other words. My own investigations for Project Sign added to that, too, I think, because I was quite negative in most of my evaluations. I stretched far to give something a natural explanation, sometimes when it may not have really had it. I remember one case from Snake River Canyon, I think it was, where a man and his two sons saw a metallic object come swirling down the canyon which caused the top of the trees to sway. In my attempt to find a natural explanation for it, I said that it was some sort of atmospheric eddy. Of course, I had never seen an eddy like that and had no real reason to believe that one even existed. But I was so anxious to find a natural explanation because I was convinced that it had to have one that, naturally, I did in fact, it wasn’t until quite some time had passed that I began to change my mind.

STACY:Was there ever any direct pressure applied by the Air Force itself for you to come up with a conventional explanation to these phenomena?
HYNEK:There was an implied pressure, yes, very definitely.

STACY:In other words, you found yourself caught, like most of us, in a situation of trying to please your boss?
HYNEK:Yes, you might as well put it that way, although at the same time I wasn’t going against my scientific precepts. As an astronomer and physicist, I simply felt a priori that everything had to have a natural explanation in this world. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. The ones I couldn’t solve, I thought if we just tried harder, had a really proper investigation, that we probably would find as answer for. My batting average was about 80 percent and I figured that anytime you were hitting that high, you were doing pretty good. That left about 20 percent unsolved for me, but only about three or four percent for the Air Force, because they used statistics in a way I would never have allowed for myself. For example, cases labeled as insufficient information they would consider solved! They also had some other little tricks. If a light were seen, they would say, “aircraft have lights, therefore, probable aircraft.” Then, at the end of the year, when the statistics were made up, they would drop the “possible” or “probable” and simply call it aircraft.

STACY:What began to change your own perception of the phenomenon?
HYNEK:Two things, really. One was the completely negative and unyielding attitude of the Air Force. They wouldn’t give UFOs the chance of existing, even if they were flying up and down the street in broad daylight. Everything had to have as explanation. I began to resent that, even though I basically felt the same way, because I still thought they weren’t going about it in the right way. You can’t assume that everything is black no matter what. Secondly, the caliber of the witnesses began to trouble me. Quite a few instances were reported by military pilots, for example, and I knew them to be fairly well-trained, so this is when I first began to think that, well, maybe there something to all this. The famous “swamp gas” case which came later on finally pushed me over the edge. From that point on, I began to look at reports from a different angle, which was to say that some of them could be true UFOs.

STACY:As your own attitude changed, did the Air Force’s attitude toward you change, too?
HYNEK:It certainly did, quite a bit, as a matter of fact. By way of background, I might add that the late Dr. James E. McDonald, a good friend of mine who was then an atmospheric meteorologist at the University of Arizona, and I had some fairly sharp words about it. He used to accuse me very much, saying you’re the scientific consultant to the Air Force, you should be pounding on generals’ doors and insisting on getting a better job done. I said, Jim, I was there, you weren’t you don’t know the mindset. They were under instruction from the Pentagon, following the Robertson Panel of 1953, that the whole subject had to be debunked, period, no question about it. That was the prevailing attitude. The panel was convened by the CIA, and I sat in on it, but I was not asked to sign the resolution. Had I been asked, I would not have signed it, because they took a completely negative attitude about everything. So when Jim McDonald used to accuse me of a sort of miscarriage of scientific justice, I had to tell him that had I done what he wanted, the generals would not have listened to me. They were already listening to Dr. Donald Menzel and the other boys over at the Harvard Astronomy Department as it was.

STACY:Did you think you would have been shown the front door and asked not to come back?
HYNEK:Inside of two weeks I imagine. You’re familiar with the case of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler from the history of astronomy? Brahe had the observations and didn’t know what to do with them, and Kepler,who was nearsighted and couldn’t make the observations, did. So essentially, I played Kepler to the Air Force’s Tycho Brahe. I knew the Air Force was getting the data and I wanted a look at it, so I made very full use of the copying machines at Wright-Patterson. I kept practically a duplicate set of records because I knew that someday that data would be worth something. Toward the end, however, I was barely speaking with Major Quintanilla who was in charge. We had started as really good friends and then things got very bad because he had one lieutenant who was such a nincompoop, it seemed to me. Everything had to be “Jupiter or Venus” or this or that. You have no idea what a closed mind, what a closed attitude it was. I kept doggedly on, but I can safely say that the whole time I was with the Air Force we never had anything that resembled a really good scientific dialogue on the subject.

STACY:They weren’t really interested in an actual investigation of the subject then?
HYNEK:They said they were, of course, but they would turn handsprings to keep a good case from getting to the “attention of the media”. Any case they solved, they had no trouble talking to the media about. It was really very sad…. I think their greatest mistake in the early days, however, was not turning it over to the universities or some academic group. They regarded it as an intelligence matter and it became increasingly more and more embarrassing to them. After all, we paid good tax dollars to have the Air Force guard our skies and it would have been bad public relations for them to say, yes there’s something up there, but we’re helpless. They just couldn’t do that, so they took the very human action of protecting their own interests. What they said was that we solved 96 per cent of the cases and that we could have solved the other four per cent if we had just tried harder.

STACY:Was it the famous Michigan sightings of 1966, explained away as “swamp gas” that finally did lead the Air Force to bring in a reputable university?
HYNEK:Yes, that, as you know, became something of a national joke and Michigan was soon being known as the “Swamp Gas State.” Eventually, it resulted in a Congressional Hearing called for by then state Congressman, Gerald Ford, who of course later went on to become President. The investigation was turned over to the Brian O’Brien Committee who did a very good job. Had their recommendations been carried out, things might have turned out much better than they did. The recommended that UFOs be taken away from the Air Force and given to a group of universities, to study the thing in a as wide a way as possible. Well, they didn’t go to a group, they went to a university and a man they were certain would be very hard-nosed about it, namely, Dr. Edward Condon at the University of Colorado. That was how the Condon Committee and eventually the Report came to be.

STACY:Were you ever called on to testify before, or advise the Committee?
HYNEK:In the early days they called on me to talk to them, to brief them, but that was the extent of it. They certainly didn’t take any of my advice.

STACY:By 1968, the generally negative Condon Report was made public and the Air Force used its conclusions to get out of the UFO business. Were you still an official advisor or consultant at that time?
HYNEK:Oh, yes, I was with the Air Force right up until the very end, but it was just on paper. No one had cut the chicken’s head off yet, but the chicken was dead. The last days at Blue Book were just a perfunctory shuffling of papers.

STACY:In terms of the UFO phenomenon itself, what was going on about this time?
HYNEK:Well, as you know, the Condon Report said that a group of scientists had looked at UFOs and that the subject was dead. The UFOs, of course, didn’t bother to read the report and during the Flap of 1973, they came back in force.

PERHAPS EXCESSIVE SECRECY
http://www.cufos.org/IUR_article3.html
The CIA’s UFO History
by Mark Rodeghier

After the Cold War ended, the culture of secrecy and the operational style of the CIA began to change. Its director appeared on a radio talk show, and it became possible for citizens to pressure the CIA in ways unheard of during that earlier era. Ufology has been a beneficiary of these changes.

In late 1993, inquiries from several UFO researchers led CIA Director R. James Woolsey to order a review of all CIA files on UFOs. This agency-wide search occurred in 1994 and centralized the CIA’s UFO files. Taking advantage of this opportunity, government historian Gerald K. Haines reviewed the documents, conducted interviews, and wrote a study examining the CIA’s interest and involvement in UFO investigation and government UFO policy from 1947 until 1990. Haines’s study was published in Studies in Intelligence, a classified journal published quarterly for the intelligence community. The article, “CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947–90,” appeared in the first semiannual unclassified edition for 1997, on pages 67–84. It can be found at http://www.odci.gov/csi/studies/97unclas/ufo.html [dead link]

This is a rather important document because it is the first time that a government agency has written a review of its involvement with UFOs. Although the study had been available at least since June when I downloaded it from the CIA Web site, it did not receive widespread publicity until early August. But when the press learned about the Haines study, the attention was dramatic. The story was carried in most large newspapers, on the NBC Nightly News, and many other media outlets. A typical headline from the Chicago Sun-Times reads, “CIA feared UFO hysteria.” Several columnists used the CIA history as an opportunity to bash the CIA and secrecy in government, as exemplified by the column by David Wise (author of The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power) in the New York Times “Big Lies and Little Green Men.”

The media generally focused on two aspects of the Haines article. In a brief section entitled “CIA’s U–2 and OXCART as UFOs,” Haines claims that many UFO sightings in the late 1950s and 1960s were actually misidentified secret American spy planes. Moreover, he alleges that the Air Force’s Project Blue Book was in on this cover-up, purposely misled the public, and falsified (Haines didn’t use that word but that is plainly what the Air Force would be doing) UFO explanations. This is important news if true, and the media rightly played up this angle. Note that the CIA is not accused of deception by Haines; rather, it is the Air Force that willingly concocted the bogus explanations. Reporters asked the Air Force for comment, and on August 4, Brigadier General Ronald Sconyers told the press, “I cannot confirm or deny that we lied. The Air Force is committed to providing accurate and timely information within the confines of national security.”

General Sconyers sounds a bit like a weasel-worded politician, and his statement hardly serves to reduce the controversy.he second topic seized upon by the press and played up as news was the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel from 1953. Yes, that is correct, the Robertson Panel, whose report has been well-known to anyone interested in UFOs for over 30 years now. That the press could consider the recommendations of the panel to be news at this late date speaks volumes for the intelligence, reporting skills, and historical knowledge of the Fifth Estate. (The Washington Post, in full damage-control mode, said in an editorial that the study was “not an exposé full of new revelations,” but the paper had already published an article claiming the opposite.)

Press coverage focused on the panel’s recommendations that UFO reports be debunked (a policy Blue Book followed assiduously after 1953), that UFO groups be watched, and that there was a danger the Soviets might use UFOs to clog the channels of communication and then launch a nuclear attack. The deception about our spy planes was just a small part of this strategy. Although the press was only late by about 40 years, their coverage of this aspect of the report is a positive note for ufology. What is clear from the tone of most articles is that the CIA’s (and Air Force’s) lies about UFOs are just further examples of all the many lies the American public had been told during the Cold War. And for once, ufologists are being viewed in a sympathetic light by the media as direct victims of government deception.

Coming on the heels of the Air Force’s second report on Roswell, the tide has begun to turn against the government in the UFO debate. More and more, it is becoming apparent the government has lied about UFOs for years, and that it still may be lying today. Although the press gave so much coverage to the Haines article, it missed part of the story, failed to do any independent investigation, and generally swallowed the report as written. As Paul Harvey says, now for the rest of the story.

The CIA’s excessive secrecy
The report by Haines is remarkably brief, given the CIA’s complex UFO involvement. In its Internet version the full article is 21 pages in length, with eight pages of that for footnotes (with several interesting tidbits buried there). Whole swaths of history, such as the early 1970s, are compressed into a few paragraphs or sentences. Certainly a more complete study could be done, and perhaps the classified version is a bit longer.

Nevertheless, to this credit, Haines several times makes it clear that the CIA bungled the handling of UFOs because of its policies of excessive secrecy, in effect fueling the idea of a massive UFO cover-up (for which, not surprisingly, Haines finds no evidence). For example, in 1957 Leon Davidson, a UFO investigator who worked at getting the Robrtson Panel report released and was a believer in a government cover–up, was working on a UFO case involving a strange tape recording made by the Maier sisters of Chicago. This tape had actually been analyzed by the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) and found to be “nothing more than Morse code from a US radio station.”

When Davidson wrote to Dewelt Walker, the CIA officer who had contacted the Maier sisters, Walker obfuscated and refused to provide a straight answer about his role. When Davidson persisted, the CIA had the Air Force contact Davidson saying that Walker “was and is an Air Force Officer.” Then to further screw things up, the CIA had one of its officers dress in an Air Force uniform and contact Davidson, claiming to speak on behalf of the Air Force. One cannot blame Davidson for believing there was a cover-up because, obviously, there was. As Haines writes, “Thus, a minor, rather bizarre incident, handled poorly by both the CIA and the Air Force, turned into a major flap that added fuel to the growing mystery surrounding UFOs and CIA’s role in their investigation.”

In another incident, officers from the Contact Division (CD) of the CIA obtained a UFO photograph from Ralph Mayher in November 1957. After the photos were returned (with no comment or analysis for Mayher), he contacted the CD for the CIA’s evaluation because he wanted to mention it on a television program on which he was going to appear. The CIA declined. Major Donald Keyhoe, head of NICAP, heard about these events and contacted the CIA to confirm the story. But the CIA refused, referring the matter to the Air Force, even though, as Haines writes, “CD field representatives were normally overt and carried credentials identifying their Agency association.” No wonder, again, that ufologists would conclude the government was lying about its UFO activities.

Monitoring of UFO investigators
Although the CIA clearly lied to Davidson and Keyhoe, the actual UFO events at the heart of each story were mundane and not of particular importance. More sinister is the suggestion that the CIA (or FBI at the CIA’s direction) has monitored UFO groups and investigators. Haines has no direct evidence for this, but it is unclear where such records would be kept or whether they would even be at the CIA (rather than the FBI). Certainly, the FBI has files on various ufologists, including Richard Hall, head of the Fund for UFO Research and long-time staffer at NICAP.

A complete history of the CIA’s involvement in UFOs should have discussed this critical issue in depth; after all, the Robertson Panel recommended that UFO groups be monitored for subversive activities. That Haines did not fully discuss this subject can probably be attributed to his ignorance of UFO history, to the lack of documentation about this subject in CIA records, and perhaps, to the scope of his article which is more concerned with the investigation of UFOs rather than the investigation of ufologists.

The one bit of evidence Haines does include involves Leon Davidson again. In 1958, worried about future inquiries about government UFO investigation, the CIA met with the Air Force to discuss what to do with such requests. CIA officer Frank Chapin “hinted that Davidson might have ulterior motives” and he suggested having the FBI investigate Davidson. Haines says the record is unclear as to whether the FBI ever acted on this suggestion, but it is not clear how deeply Haines investigated this possibility. Although the evidence is circumstantial, there are other hints that the government was monitoring UFO groups long before these discussions. In their book UFOs Over the Americas, Jim and Coral Lorenzen detail several rather bizarre incidents of what would seem to be rather clumsy attempts to learn the Lorenzens’ motives for their UFO investigations and the work of APRO, the organization they founded. These occurred in several states over at least a dozen years, and the Lorenzens sound more amused by the experience than upset.

In point of fact, just about any ufologist would have been pleased to have the Air Force or CIA approach them and ask for advice about UFO investigations or what types of cases the investigator was receiving. The problem faced by these agencies, as Haines outlines, is that an excessive policy of secrecy kept them from openly contacting UFO investigators who most likely would have cooperated with government requests for information. As evidence, in early 1965 CIA agents finally did meet openly with Richard Hall at NICAP offices, who glady gave them copies of UFO reports for the CIA’s own review of the UFO situation.

The Robertson Panel
There is no more pivotal event in the CIA’s involvement with UFOs, perhaps in the U.S. government’s interest in UFOs, than the Robertson Panel of January 1953. Haines devotes just over a page to this critical study, which provides him no room for nuance or much more than a bare reciting of the facts. In his review of CIA documents he demonstrates the very high-level CIA interest in UFOs engendered by the UFO flap in the summer of 1952 and, especially, the sightings over Washington, D.C. A special study group was formed within OSI to review the UFO situation. Director Walter Bedell Smith “wanted to know whether or not the Air Force investigation of flying saucers was sufficiently objective,” and he wondered “what use could be made of the UFO phenomenon in connection with US psychological warfare efforts.”

Memos and meetings were frequent in late 1952 as the CIA considered what should be done about the UFO problem. Haines’s research shows that the Robertson Panel’s concerns about the clogging of communication channels and the use of UFOs to disrupt U.S. air defenses were taken straight from CIA concerns expressed in internal memos during the summer of 1952. In other words, the Robertson Panel, despite the eminence of the scientists involved, appears to have been carefully orchestrated by the CIA to come to the conclusions it did, which included debunking UFOs with the help of the Air Force Project Blue Book. Haines does not comment on this element of the CIA’s role in determining government policy.

Spy planes and UFOs
I turn now to the issue that so dominated press coverage of Haines’s article, the claim that many UFO reports were caused by secret aircraft flights. Given the nature of many UFO reports of objects seen at close range low to the ground, ufologists have uniformly found this claim preposterous. I have over the years personally reviewed the majority of Blue Book reports and know that that they were not caused by misidentifications of spy planes. But because this is such an important claim, here is the full discussion of this issue by Haines.

In November 1954, CIA had entered into the world of high technology with its U-2 overhead reconnaissance project. Working with Lockheed’s Advanced Development facility in Burbank, California, known as the Skunk Works, and Kelly Johnson, an eminent aeronautical engineer, the Agency by August 1955 was testing a high-altitude experimental aircraft—the U-2. It could fly at 60,000 feet; in the mid-1950s, most commercial airliners flew between 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet. Consequently, once the U-2 started test flights, commercial pilots and air traffic controllers began reporting a large increase in UFO sightings.

The early U-2s were silver (they were later painted black) and reflected the rays from the sun, especially at sunrise and sunset. They often appeared as fiery objects to observers below. Air Force BLUE BOOK investigators aware of the secret U-2 flights tried to explain away such sightings by linking them to natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions. By checking with the Agency’s U-2 Project Staff in Washington, BLUE BOOK investigators were able to attribute many UFO sightings to U-2 flights. They were careful, however, not to reveal the true cause of the sighting to the public.

According to later estimates from CIA officials who worked on the U–2 project and the OXCART (SR-71, or Blackbird) project, over half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights (namely the U-2) over the United States. This led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements to the public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily sensitive national security project. While perhaps justified, this deception added fuel to the later conspiracy theories and the cover-up controversy of the 1970s. The percentage of what the Air Force considered unexplained UFO sightings fell to 5.9 percent in 1955 and to 4 percent in 1956.

What exactly is the evidence for the claim that “over half of all UFO reports . . . were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights”? In one footnote, Haines mentions the monograph The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954–1974, by Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach (1992). A colleague at CUFOS tried to obtain a copy of this reference, which was published by the CIA History Staff, but has been told the monograph is classified. That makes it impossible to verify its accuracy. In a second footnote, Haines mentions a telephone interview with a John Parongosky, who “oversaw the day-to-day affairs of the OXCART program.” I would like to call Mr. Parongosky myself, but have been unable to find any listing or address for him. In any case, there is a very straightforward step which could verify this claim about spy planes, one I am surprised was not taken by at least one reporter. If the Air Force was lying about the cause of UFO sightings to protect the secrecy of our spy planes, then obviously the heads of Blue Book would hve been central to the deception. Yet no one seems to have contacted any of these officers, most of whom are still living, for a comment.

I had previously spoken to Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert Friend, head of Blue Book from about 1958 to early 1963, on a matter of UFO history, so I called him again recently to discuss this subject. Friend had not heard about the CIA report (he doesn’t watch much television and doesn’t follow UFO news closely these days), but he was very interested to learn about its existence. He asked me for a copy plus any news stories I had on the report. I read to him the discussion by Haines reproduced above and then asked for his comment. Almost the first words he said were that it is “absolutely not true” that he or his Blue Book team were covering up spy flights as alleged by Haines. He found the whole idea laughable, and he knew Blue Book did not receive more reports from pilots and air traffic controllers after the U-2 began flying.

I asked him if he had ever concealed classified activities that were reported as UFOs. Friend indicated that, indeed, this had occurred on a few occasions, but it was not a regular occurrence. I inquired as to whether he had regular contact with the CIA at Blue Book. He said that he did because the CIA overlooked no potential source of information and wanted to keep tabs on all government intelligence activities. In addition, the Air Force had utilized the services of the National Photographic Interpretation Center, the CIA’s photo analysis office, to analyze UFO photos. However, in none of his contacts with the CIA or U-2 project staff was Friend ever told to conceal sightings of the U-2 by the CIA.

To be absolutely sure before I ended the conversation, I asked Friend whether the project had ever received a sighting which he recognized as caused by a U-2 (or other secret aircraft). He said, to his recollection, no. Once again, he chuckled about the idea of half of all UFO reports being caused by manned reconnaissance flights. I then read him the statement by Sconyers quoted earlier, in which the general cannot “confirm or deny that we lied.” This brought a guffaw from Friend, who wondered why Sconyers, or anyone currently in the Pentagon, should know what happened 30 years ago. We both marveled at how the press and the military (and Haines) had failed to contact the obvious central figures in this alleged cover-up.

In summary, then, the claim that motivated the press coverage of Haines’s report is inaccurate and is not evidence for a CIA and Air Force cover-up of UFO sightings and lies to the American public. Yet the CIA and Air Force did knowingly debunk UFO sightings, and Blue Book personnel often came up with any old explanation so that the yearly summary sheets would have only a small percentage of unidentified sightings. So I’m not too unhappy that the CIA and Air Force were taken to task for something they didn’t do, but it is important to set the record straight.

Forcing disclosure of CIA records
Beginning in the mid-1970s, UFO researchers began using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request government, including CIA, documents on UFOs. Once again, the CIA mishandled the requests. After William Spaulding, head of Ground Saucer Watch, wrote in 1975 requesting UFO records, the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator Gene Wilson wrote to Spaulding that the Robertson Panel was “the summation of the Agency interest and involvement in UFOs.” As Haines states, “Wilson was ill-informed.”

Not believing Wilson’s statements, ufologists sued the CIA for records and won the release of about 800 pages in December of 1978. Since the CIA had, unwisely, been denying its inolvement in UFO matters, the media was surprised to learn how many documents were held by the agency. The New York Times claimed as a result that the CIA was probably secretly involved in the study of UFOs. CIA Director Stansfield Turner was so upset by this that he asked his senior officers “Are we in UFOs?” He received a negative answer from his deputy and so moved to quash a new lawsuit asking for the withheld documents from the first release.Notwithstanding the reply Turner got, Haines found that the CIA continued a few activities during the 1980s. As he writes:

During the late 1970s and 1980s, the Agency continued its low-key interest in UFOs and UFO sightings. While most scientists now dismissed flying saucers [sic] reports as a quaint part of the 1950s and 1960s, some in the Agency and in the Intelligence Community shifted their interest to studying parapsychology and psychic phenomena associated with UFO sightings. CIA officials also looked at the UFO problem to determine what UFO sightings might tell them about Soviet progress in rockets and missiles and reviewed its counterintelligence aspects. Agency analysts from the Life Science Division of OSI and OSWR officially devoted a small amount of their time to issues relating to UFOs. These included counterintelligence concerns that the Soviets and the KGB were using US citizens and UFO groups to obtain information on sensitive US weapons development programs (such as the Stealth aircraft), the vulnerability of the US air-defense network to penetration by foreign missiles mimicking UFOs, and evidence of Soviet advanced technology associated with UFO sightings.

If I hadn’t checked the calendar after reading this, I would have sworn this was 1952 and I was reading of CIA concerns about how UFOs could be used by the Soviets against the United States, as eventually expressed in the recommendations of the Roberson Panel report. Some things never change, at least during the Cold War. Haines notes that during this period, “Agency officials purposely kept files on UFOs to a minimum to avoid creating records that might mislead the public if released,” and Haines says he found almost no documentation on CIA involvement with UFOs in the 1980s. This certainly is an effective method to circumvent FOIA, but it hardly leads to further confidence in the CIA. Finally, in an intriguing footnote, Haines says that the “CIA reportedly is also a member of an Incident Response Team to investigate UFO landings, if one should occur. This team has never met.” Say what? He offers no evidence for this statement, which, if true, belies the notion that the government completely ignores UFO reports.

AREA 51 WORKERS SPEAK
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-mag-april052009-backstory,0,5104077.story
After decades of denying the facility’s existence, five former insiders speak out
by Annie Jacobsen / April 05, 2009

Area 51. It’s the most famous military institution in the world that doesn’t officially exist. If it did, it would be found about 100 miles outside Las Vegas in Nevada’s high desert, tucked between an Air Force base and an abandoned nuclear testing ground. Then again, maybe not– the U.S. government refuses to say. You can’t drive anywhere close to it, and until recently, the airspace overhead was restricted–all the way to outer space. Any mention of Area 51 gets redacted from official documents, even those that have been declassified for decades.

It has become the holy grail for conspiracy theorists, with UFOlogists positing that the Pentagon reverse engineers flying saucers and keeps extraterrestrial beings stored in freezers. Urban legend has it that Area 51 is connected by underground tunnels and trains to other secret facilities around the country. In 2001, Katie Couric told Today Show audiences that 7 percent of Americans doubt the moon landing happened–that it was staged in the Nevada desert. Millions of X-Files fans believe the truth may be “out there,” but more likely it’s concealed inside Area 51’s Strangelove-esque hangars–buildings that, though confirmed by Google Earth, the government refuses to acknowledge.

The problem is the myths of Area 51 are hard to dispute if no one can speak on the record about what actually happened there. Well, now, for the first time, someone is ready to talk–in fact, five men are, and their stories rival the most outrageous of rumors. Colonel Hugh “Slip” Slater, 87, was commander of the Area 51 base in the 1960s. Edward Lovick, 90, featured in “What Plane?” in LA’s March issue, spent three decades radar testing some of the world’s most famous aircraft (including the U-2, the A-12 OXCART and the F-117). Kenneth Collins, 80, a CIA experimental test pilot, was given the silver star. Thornton “T.D.” Barnes, 72, was an Area 51 special-projects engineer. And Harry Martin, 77, was one of the men in charge of the base’s half-million-gallon monthly supply of spy-plane fuels. Here are a few of their best stories–for the record: On May 24, 1963, Collins flew out of Area 51’s restricted airspace in a top-secret spy plane code-named OXCART, built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. He was flying over Utah when the aircraft pitched, flipped and headed toward a crash. He ejected into a field of weeds.

Almost 46 years later, in late fall of 2008, sitting in a coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley, Collins remembers that day with the kind of clarity the threat of a national security breach evokes: “Three guys came driving toward me in a pickup. I saw they had the aircraft canopy in the back. They offered to take me to my plane.” Until that moment, no civilian without a top-secret security clearance had ever laid eyes on the airplane Collins was flying. “I told them not to go near the aircraft. I said it had a nuclear weapon on-board.” The story fit right into the Cold War backdrop of the day, as many atomic tests took place in Nevada. Spooked, the men drove Collins to the local highway patrol. The CIA disguised the accident as involving a generic Air Force plane, the F-105, which is how the event is still listed in official records.

As for the guys who picked him up, they were tracked down and told to sign national security nondisclosures. As part of Collins’ own debriefing, the CIA asked the decorated pilot to take truth serum. “They wanted to see if there was anything I’d for-gotten about the events leading up to the crash.” The Sodium Pento-thal experience went without a hitch–except for the reaction of his wife, Jane. “Late Sunday, three CIA agents brought me home. One drove my car; the other two carried me inside and laid me down on the couch. I was loopy from the drugs. They handed Jane the car keys and left without saying a word.” The only conclusion she could draw was that her husband had gone out and gotten drunk. “Boy, was she mad,” says Collins with a chuckle.

At the time of Collins’ accident, CIA pilots had been flying spy planes in and out of Area 51 for eight years, with the express mission of providing the intelligence to prevent nuclear war. Aerial reconnaissance was a major part of the CIA’s preemptive efforts, while the rest of America built bomb shelters and hoped for the best. “It wasn’t always called Area 51,” says Lovick, the physicist who developed stealth technology. His boss, legendary aircraft designer Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson, called the place Paradise Ranch to entice men to leave their families and “rough it” out in the Nevada desert in the name of science and the fight against the evil empire. “Test pilot Tony LeVier found the place by flying over it,” says Lovick. “It was a lake bed called Groom Lake, selected for testing because it was flat and far from anything. It was kept secret because the CIA tested U-2s there.”

When Frances Gary Powers was shot down over Sverdlovsk, Russia, in 1960, the U-2 program lost its cover. But the CIA already had Lovick and some 200 scientists, engineers and pilots working at Area 51 on the A-12 OXCART, which would outfox Soviet radar using height, stealth and speed. Col. Slater was in the outfit of six pilots who flew OXCART missions during the Vietnam War. Over a Cuban meat and cheese sandwich at the Bahama Breeze restaurant off the Las Vegas Strip, he says, “I was recruited for the Area after working with the CIA’s classified Black Cat Squadron, which flew U-2 missions over denied territory in Mainland China. After that, I was told, ‘You should come out to Nevada and work on something interesting we’re doing out there.’ ”

Even though Slater considers himself a fighter pilot at heart–he flew 84 missions in World War II–the opportunity to work at Area 51 was impossible to pass up. “When I learned about this Mach-3 aircraft called OXCART, it was completely intriguing to me–this idea of flying three times the speed of sound! No one knew a thing about the program. I asked my wife, Barbara, if she wanted to move to Las Vegas, and she said yes. And I said, ‘You won’t see me but on the weekends,’ and she said, ‘That’s fine!’ ” At this recollection, Slater laughs heartily. Barbara, dining with us, laughs as well. The two, married for 63 years, are rarely apart today. “We couldn’t have told you any of this a year ago,” Slater says. “Now we can’t tell it to you fast enough.” That is because in 2007, the CIA began declassifying the 50-year-old OXCART program. Today, there’s a scramble for eyewitnesses to fill in the information gaps. Only a few of the original players are left. Two more of them join me and the Slaters for lunch: Barnes, formerly an Area 51 special-projects engineer, with his wife, Doris; and Martin, one of those overseeing the OXCART’s specially mixed jet fuel (regular fuel explodes at extreme height, temperature and speed), with his wife, Mary. Because the men were sworn to secrecy for so many decades, their wives still get a kick out of hearing the secret tales.

Barnes was married at 17 (Doris was 16). To support his wife, he became an electronics wizard, buying broken television sets, fixing them up and reselling them for five times the original price. He went from living in bitter poverty on a Texas Panhandle ranch with no electricity to buying his new bride a dream home before he was old enough to vote. As a soldier in the Korean War, Barnes demonstrated an uncanny aptitude for radar and Nike missile systems, which made him a prime target for recruitment by the CIA–which indeed happened when he was 22. By 30, he was handling nuclear secrets. “The agency located each guy at the top of a certain field and put us together for the programs at Area 51,” says Barnes. As a security precaution, he couldn’t reveal his birth name–he went by the moniker Thunder. Coworkers traveled in separate cars, helicopters and airplanes. Barnes and his group kept to themselves, even in the mess hall. “Our special-projects group was the most classified team since the Manhattan Project,” he says.

Harry Martin’s specialty was fuel. Handpicked by the CIA from the Air Force, he underwent rigorous psychological and physical tests to see if he was up for the job. When he passed, the CIA moved his family to Nevada. Because OXCART had to refuel frequently, the CIA kept supplies at secret facilities around the globe. Martin often traveled to these bases for quality-control checks. He tells of preparing for a top-secret mission from Area 51 to Thule, Greenland. “My wife took one look at me in these arctic boots and this big hooded coat, and she knew not to ask where I was going.”

So, what of those urban legends–the UFOs studied in secret, the underground tunnels connecting clandestine facilities? For decades, the men at Area 51 thought they’d take their secrets to the grave. At the height of the Cold War, they cultivated anonymity while pursuing some of the country’s most covert projects. Conspiracy theories were left to popular imagination. But in talking with Collins, Lovick, Slater, Barnes and Martin, it is clear that much of the folklore was spun from threads of fact.

As for the myths of reverse engineering of flying saucers, Barnes offers some insight: “We did reverse engineer a lot of foreign technology, including the Soviet MiG fighter jet out at the Area”–even though the MiG wasn’t shaped like a flying saucer. As for the underground-tunnel talk, that, too, was born of truth. Barnes worked on a nuclear-rocket program called Project NERVA, inside underground chambers at Jackass Flats, in Area 51’s backyard. “Three test-cell facilities were connected by railroad, but everything else was underground,” he says.

And the quintessential Area 51 conspiracy–that the Pentagon keeps captured alien spacecraft there, which they fly around in restricted airspace? Turns out that one’s pretty easy to debunk. The shape of OXCART was unprece-dented, with its wide, disk-like fuselage designed to carry vast quantities of fuel. Commercial pilots cruising over Nevada at dusk would look up and see the bottom of OXCART whiz by at 2,000-plus mph. The aircraft’s tita-nium body, moving as fast as a bullet, would reflect the sun’s rays in a way that could make anyone think, UFO.

In all, 2,850 OXCART test flights were flown out of Area 51 while Slater was in charge. “That’s a lot of UFO sightings!” Slater adds. Commercial pilots would report them to the FAA, and “when they’d land in California, they’d be met by FBI agents who’d make them sign nondisclosure forms.” But not everyone kept quiet, hence the birth of Area 51’s UFO lore. The sightings incited uproar in Nevada and the surrounding areas and forced the Air Force to open Project BLUE BOOK to log each claim.

Since only a few Air Force officials were cleared for OXCART (even though it was a joint CIA/USAF project), many UFO sightings raised internal military alarms. Some generals believed the Russians might be sending stealth craft over American skies to incite paranoia and create widespread panic of alien invasion. Today, BLUE BOOK findings are housed in 37 cubic feet of case files at the National Archives–74,000 pages of reports. A keyword search brings up no mention of the top-secret OXCART or Area 51. Project BLUE BOOK was shut down in 1969–more than a year after OXCART was retired. But what continues at America’s most clandestine military facility could take another 40 years to disclose.

DUNBAR’S NUMBER
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article6999879.ece
Our brains can’t handle all our Facebook friends
BY Chris Gourlay / January 24, 2010

WE may be able to amass 5,000 friends on Facebook but humans’ brains are capable of managing a maximum of only 150 friendships, a study has found. Robin Dunbar, professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, has conducted research revealing that while social networking sites allow us to maintain more relationships, the number of meaningful friendships is the same as it has been throughout history.

Dunbar developed a theory known as “Dunbar’s number” in the 1990s which claimed that the size of our neocortex — the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language — limits us to managing social circles of around 150 friends, no matter how sociable we are. These are relationships in which a person knows how each friend relates to every other friend. They are people you care about and contact at least once a year. Dunbar derived the limit from studying social groupings in a variety of societies — from neolithic villages to modern office environments. He found that people tended to self-organise in groups of around 150 because social cohesion begins to deteriorate as groups become larger.

Dunbar is now studying social networking websites to see if the “Facebook effect” has stretched the size of social groupings. Preliminary results suggest it has not. “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world,” said Dunbar. “People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they’re unlikely to be bigger than anyone else’s. “There is a big sex difference though … girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together.” Dunbar’s study is due to be published later this year.


http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/page18900.html

the SOCIAL BRAIN
http://www.commonsenseadvice.com/human_cortex_dunbar.html

Your brain is hard wired to pay attention to about 150 people. Try to have a relationship with any more than that, and your life will turn to pure crap. Just ask the Military, Gore-Tex, or Krippendorf’s tribe. They’ll all tell you the same thing. One fifty is the way to go. They’ve known for hundreds of years that people work best in groups of 150 or less. Now it’s your turn. The human cortex, responsible for complex thought and reasoning, is overgrown in humans when compared to other mammals. Scientists have argued for years about why this is the case.

One theory holds that our brains evolved because our primate ancestors began to gather food in more complex ways. They began eating fruit instead of grasses and leaves. This involved traveling long distances to find food, and required each species to maintain a complex mental map in order to keep track of fruit trees. More brainpower might have been needed to determine if a fruit was ripe, or to discern proper methods for peeling fruit or cracking nuts. The problem with this theory is that if one tries to match brain size with the eating habits of primates, it doesn’t work. Some small-brained monkeys are eating fruit and maintaining complex maps and some larger brained primates are eating leaves. What does work, apparently, is group size. If one examines any species of primate, the larger their neocortex, the larger the average size of the group they live with.

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar has done some of the most interesting research in this area. Dunbar’s argument is that as brains evolve, they become larger in order to handle the unique complexities of larger social groups. Humans socialize the largest social groups because we have the largest cortex. Dunbar has developed an equation, which works for most primates, in which he plugs in what he calls the neocortex ratio of a particular species – the size of the neocortex relative to the size of the brain – and the equation gives us the maximum expected group size for each species. For humans, the max group size is 147.8, or about 150. This figure seems to represent the maximum amount of people that we can have a real social relationship with – knowing who another human is and how they relate to us.

Dunbar has gone through anthropological literature and found that the number 150 pops up over and over again. For example, he looked at 21 different hunger-gatherer societies around the world and found that the average number of people in each village was 148.4. The same pattern holds true for military organization. Over the years, through trial and error, military planners have arrived at a rule of thumb for the size of a functional fighting unit – 200 men. They have realized that it is quite difficult to make any larger a group than this to function as a unit without complicated hierarchies and rules and regulations and formal measures to insure loyalty and unity within the group. With a group of 150 or so, formalities are not necessary. Behavior can be controlled on the basis of personal loyalties and direct man-to-man contacts. With larger groups, this seems impossible.

Further is the religious group known as the Hutterites, who for hundreds of years, through trial and error, have realized that the maximum size for a colony should be, low and behold, 150 people. They’ve been following this rule for centuries. Every time a colony approaches this number, the colony is divided into two separate colonies. They have found that once a group becomes larger than that, “people become strangers to one another.” At 150, the Hutterites believe, something happens that somehow changes the community seemingly overnight. At 150 the colony with spontaneously begin dividing into smaller “clans.” When this happens a new colony is formed.

Another good example of our hard wired social limits is Gore Associates, a privately held multimillion-dollar company responsible for creating Gore-Tex fabric and all sorts of other high tech computer cables, filter bags, semiconductors, pharmaceutical, and medical products. What is most unique about this company is that each company plant is no larger than 150. When constructing a plant, they put 150 spaces in the parking lot, and when people start parking on the grass, they know it’s time for another plant. Each plant works as a group. There are no bosses. No titles. Salaries are determined collectively. No organization charts, no budgets, no elaborate strategic plans. Wilbert Gore – the late founder of the company, found through trial and error that 150 employees per plant was most ideal. “We found again and again that things get clumsy at a hundred and fifty,” he told an interviewer some years ago.

Take a lesson from this. If you are engaged in a large enterprise or are planning to work for one, realize that large groups rapidly reduce the efficiency of an operation. If each department is separated, especially if there are hundreds or thousands of people involved, complex systems of organizations will be required to keep everyone in check. Peer pressure is much more powerful than the somehow vague concept of a boss or punishment. People will work only hard enough not to get fired in a very large group, but will live up to the expectations of their peers in smaller groups where they have a personal relationship with each of their co-workers. Of course, a small group size is not by any means a guarantee of success. Small enterprises fail all the time. It’s just a concept — an idea to keep in the back of your mind as you vegetate in that basement cubicle.

HUMANS are PACK ANIMALS
http://www.liv.ac.uk/evolpsyc/Evol_Anthrop_6.pdf
http://www.liv.ac.uk/researchintelligence/issue17/brainteaser.html
The ultimate brain teaser / August 2003

Relative to their body size, monkeys, apes and humans have unusually big brains. It has been suggested that this reflects the complexity of their social lives. This hypothesis is gaining support thanks to ground-breaking research by a University of Liverpool scientist, whose methods have been taken up by primate researchers around the world. These same methods could soon shed light on the story of human evolution. Judged by our genomes, there’s surprisingly little difference between humans and chimps: 95% of our DNA is similar, making chimps our closest ape ‘cousins’. Judged by most other measures, there are significant distinctions between the two species. So, how did humans come to be so different to chimps and other apes?

Clearly, brain size plays a crucial role: all primates have big brains relative to their body size, but human brains are disproportionately large. It’s a phenomenon whose origins date back two million years, when the brain size of some of our hominid ancestors started to increase exponentially. Why did these changes take place in primates in general, and humans so particularly? Over the years, scientists have proposed a range of possible explanations. One intriguing suggestion is that primates’ brain size reflects the complexity of their social lives. Primate social systems are much more complex than other species’, routinely involving the formation of coalitions and tactical deceptions – so primates need larger brains to accommodate the computational demands of such complex behaviour. Over the past decade, a Liverpool University scientist has subjected this ‘social brain’ hypothesis to rigorous tests. His methods have been taken up by primate researchers around the world – and soon they will be shedding extraordinary light on the story of human evolution.

Innovative Models
Professor Robin Dunbar is an evolutionary psychologist with an interest in the behavioural ecology of primates – in the interrelations between primates and their environment. Based in the School of Biological Sciences, he is widely known for developing innovative systems models of the socio-ecology of primates, using equations similar to those deployed by economists to model national economies. “Scientists around the world have recorded a huge amount of quantitative information on primates”, he explains. “There’s environmental, demographic and anatomical data, data on diet composition, on the time devoted to foraging, feeding, grooming and so on. “We extracted certain types of data relating to monkeys and apes, and used a series of regression equations to describe the relationships between the different variables. We then combined these various components into a single, integrated systems model for each species. These models enable us to identify defining behavioural characteristics – for instance, limits on the social group size of a particular species and how this varies according to habitat.” Demonstrating that there is, for instance, a species-specific a limit on social group size is one thing; finding a robust explanation for this is another thing altogether.

Significant correlations
The social brain hypothesis suggests that socio-ecological characteristics like this are related to brain size. Robin Dunbar decided to test this hypothesis. He started by focussing on two specific measures of primate social complexity – social group size and grooming clique size. “In primate species, total group sizes may be quite large”, he explains, “but individual primates usually belong to a smaller social sub-group, on which they rely for support when conflicts break out. The number of regular grooming partners they have may be much smaller, though. For instance, chimps belong to social groups comprising about 50 individuals, but they have only two or three grooming partners.”

Robin Dunbar used the volume of the neocortex – the ‘thinking’ part of the brain – as his measure of brain size, because this accounts for most of the brain’s expansion within primates. He found that both measures of social complexity correlated with relative neocortex volume in primate species. Subsequently, he predicted the social group size of some other monkey and ape species from their neocortex volumes – with impressive accuracy. Thanks to his ground-breaking work, and the follow-on studies which it stimulated, numerous features of primate social behaviour can now be predicted from neocortex volume – from the time devoted to social interaction, the level of social skills and the degree of tactical deception practiced to community and coalition size. We can also predict when social groups will split up because their size is unsustainable; Robin Dunbar’s research shows that the volume of the neocortex imposes a limit on the number of relationships that individual primates can sustain in their mental model of their social world.

The human dimension
Humans are primates, too – so do they fit into the pattern established for monkeys and apes? This is the key question which Robin Dunbar sought to answer by using the same equations to predict human social group and clique size from neocortex volume. The results were… ~150 for social group size, and ~12 for the more intimate clique size. He subsequently discovered that modern humans operate on a hierarchy of group sizes. “Interestingly”, he says, “the literature suggests that 150 is roughly to the number of people you could ask for a favour and expect to have it granted. Functionally, that’s quite similar to apes’ core social groups.” As a principal investigator in the 7-year programme of research recently funded by the British Academy, Robin Dunbar will have the resources required to build models of the socioecology of all the great apes and contemporary foraging peoples. He aims to combine these models into a single generic model, which can then be used to illuminate the course of human evolution.

New approach to old puzzles
“Traditionally, our insights have come from ‘bones and stones’ – that’s to say, analysis of fossil remains and any evidence of their material culture, like stone tools. This tell us quite a lot, but on its own, it’s unlikely to tell us much more about either the social or the cognitive development of hominids and early humans”, he says. There are numerous puzzles to solve – for example, why did Neanderthals, some of whom lived at the same time as anatomically modern humans, fail to develop fully-fledged human-style culture? Comparative analyses across primates and contemporary foraging peoples should present new hypotheses – for instance, Neanderthals may have lacked a sufficiently large frontal neocortex to support the social cognitive skills required. Robin Dunbar’s University of Liverpool colleague, Professor John Gowlett and collaborators at Southampton University will then review the archaeological record to see whether there are data to support or undermine such hypotheses. There are two key questions which Robin Dunbar hopes to answer over the next seven years: when did hominid brains develop recognizably human minds – and what triggered this momentous development?

a FUNCTIONAL LIMIT
http://radio-weblogs.com/0107127/categories/networksAsTheOrganizationOfTheFuture/2003/02/22.html

“Primates are, above all, social animals….These analyses suggest that although the size of the group in which animals live in a given habitat is a function of habitat-specific ecologically-determined costs and benefits …..The group size identified by this relationship appears to refer to the maximum number of individuals with whom an animal can maintain social relationships by personal contact.

It is not necessary that all these individuals live in the same physical group: chimpanzees ….Rather, the neocortical constraint seems to be on the number of relationships that an animal can keep track of in a complex, continuously changing social world: the function subserved by that level of grouping will depend on the individual species’ ecological and social context. ….current neocortex size sets a limit on the number of relationships that it can maintain through time, and hence limits the maximum size of its group. This means that although the evolution of neocortex size is driven by the ecological factors that select for group size, we can use the relationship in reverse to predict group sizes for living species

It is generally accepted that the cohesion of primate groups is maintained through time by social grooming Social grooming is used both to establish and to service those friendships and coalitions that give primate groups their unique structure. As might be anticipated, the amount of time devoted to social grooming correlates well with group size, notably among the catarrhine primates However, the relationship between group size and time devoted to grooming appears to be a consequence of the intensity with which a small number of key “friendships” (the primary network) is serviced rather than to the total number of individuals in the group

These primary networks function as coalitions whose primary purpose is to buffer their members against harassment by the other members of the group. The larger the group, the more harassment and stress an individual faces and the more important those coalitions are. It seems that a coalition’s effectiveness (in the sense of its members’ willingness to come to each other’s aid) is directly related to the amount of time its members spend grooming each other Hence, the larger the group, the more time individuals devote to grooming with the members of their coalitionary clique.

The mean size of the primary network is, however, related to the mean group size for the species. This suggests that groups are built up by welding together sets of smaller primary networks and that the total size of the group is ultimately limited not by the number of networks that can be welded together but rather by the size of the networks themselves”

For us the key group size is 150
“it turns out that most organised (i.e. professional) armies have a basic unit of about 150 men (Table 3). This was as true of the Roman Army (both before and after the reforms of 104BC) as of modern armies since the sixteenth century. In the Roman Army of the classical period (350-100 BC), the basic unit was the maniple (or “double-century”) which normally consisted of 120-130 men; following the reforms instituted by Marius in 104BC, the army was re-organised into legions, each of which contained a number of semi-independent centuries of 100 men each (Haverfield 1955, Montross 1975). The smallest independent unit in modern armies (the company) invariably contains 100-200 men (normally three or four rifle platoons of 30-40 men each, plus a headquarters unit, sometimes with an additional heavy weapons unit) (Table 3). Although its origins date back to the German mercenary Landsknechts groups of the sixteenth century, the modern company really derives from the military reforms of the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus in the 1620s. Despite subsequent increases in size to accommodate new developments in weaponry and tactics, the company in all modern armies has remained within the 95% confident limits of the predicted size for human groups. The mean size of 179.6 for the twentieth century armies listed in Table 3 does not differ significantly from the 147.8 predicted by equation (1) (z=0.913, P=0.361 2-tailed).

This fact has particular significance in the context of the present argument. Military units have to function very efficiently in coordinating men’s behaviour on the battlefield: the price of failing to do so is extremely high and military commanders cannot afford to miscalculate. Given that the fighting power of a unit is a function of its size, we might expect there to be considerable selection pressure in favour of units that are as large as possible. That the smallest independent unit should turn out to have a maximum size of about 200 even in modern armies (where technology presumably facilitates the coordination of planning) suggests that this upper limit is set by the number of individuals who can work effectively together as a coordinated team. Military planners have presumably arrived at this figure as a result of trial and error over the centuries.

In the context of the present analysis, the reason given by the Hutterites for limiting their communities to 150 is particularly illuminating. They explicitly state that when the number of individuals is much larger than this, it becomes difficult to control their behaviour by means of peer pressure alone (Hardin 1988). Rather than create a police force, they prefer to split the community. Forge (1972) came to a rather similar conclusion on the basis of an analysis of settlement size and structure among contemporary New Guinea “neolithic” cultivators. He argued that the figure 150 was a key threshold in community size in these societies. When communities exceed this size, he suggested, basic relationships of kinship and affinity were insufficient to maintain social cohesion; stability could then be maintained only if formal structures developed which defined specific roles within society. In other words, large communities were invariably hierarchically structured in some way, whereas small communities were not.

Similarly, in an analysis of data from 30 societies ranging from hunter-gatherers to large-scale agriculturalists, Naroll (1956) demonstrated that there was a simple power relationship between the maximum settlement size observed in a given society and both the number of occupational specialities and the number of organisational structures recorded for it. His analyses suggest that there is a critical threshold at a maximum settlement size of 500 beyond which social cohesion can only be maintained if there is an appropriate number of authoritarian officials. Bearing in mind that Naroll’s threshold is expressed as the maximum observed settlement size, it seems likely that the equivalent mean settlement size will not be too far from the value of 150 suggested by the above analyses.

Other evidence suggests that 150 may be a functional limit on interacting groups even in contemporary western industrial societies. Much of the sociometric research on industrial and other comparable organisations, for example, has demonstrated that there is a marked negative effect of group size on both group cohesion and job satisfaction (as indicated by absenteeism and turnover in posts) within the size range under consideration (i.e. 50-500 individuals: see, for example, Indik 1965, Porter & Lawler 1965, Silverman 1970). Indeed, an informal rule in business organisation identifies 150 as the critical limit for the effective coordination of tasks and information-flow through direct person-to-person links: companies larger than this cannot function effectively without sub-structuring to define channels of communication and responsibility (J.-M. Delwart, pers. commun.). Terrien & Mills (1955), for example, found that the larger the organisation, the greater the number of control officials that is needed to ensure its smooth functioning.

Other studies have suggested that there is an upper limit on the number of social contacts that can be regularly maintained within a group. Coleman (1964) presented data on friendships among print shop workers which suggest that the likelihood of having friends within the workplace reaches an asymptote at a shop size of 90-150 individuals. (The small size of the sample for large groups makes it difficult to identify the precise point at which “saturation” is reached.) Coleman explicitly argued that this was a consequence of the fact that there is a limit to the number of individuals within a shop that any one person can come into contact with. Moreover, his results also seemed to suggest that the large number of regular interactants that an individual can expect to have within a large work group limits the number of additional friendships that can be made outside the workplace.”

CONTACT
Robin Dunbar
http://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/about-us/staff/academic/prof-robin-dunbar/
http://www.biolsci.liv.ac.uk/academic_life/individ_staff_sub.asp?tutorid=52
email : robin.dunbar [at] anthro.ox.ac [dot] uk / rimd [at] liv.ac [dot] uk

Co-evolution of neocortex size, group size and language in humans
http://www.bbsonline.org/documents/a/00/00/05/65/bbs00000565-00/bbs.dunbar.html
The Social Brain Hypothesis
http://psych.colorado.edu/~tito/sp03/7536/Dunbar_1998.pdf
Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language By Robin Dunbar
http://books.google.com/books?id=nN5DFNT-6ToC

as IMPLEMENTED by SWEDISH TAX AUTHORITY
http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Lifestyle/Culture/Literature/Reading/Astrid-Lindgren-lives-on/
http://www.thelocal.se/7972/20070723/
Swedish tax collectors organized by apes / 23 Jul 07

A reorganization of workers at the Swedish Tax Authority is partly shaped on studies of apes, according to a leaked internal report. Employees are not flattered by the comparison. The tax authority is currently undergoing its largest reorganization for many years. One of the foundations of the restructuring plan is a report which says that studies of apes show that people work best in groups of 150. The reorganization was announced earlier in the summer. Work is being moved from small towns to larger towns and cities. Around 1,350 people are affected by the move. Economies of scale are a large part of the reason for the reorganization, but the authority has placed an upper limit of 150 employees per office, according to a report seen by news agency TT. The figure is justified using biological studies. “The number 150 returns again and again when discussing the size of a group which has some kind of social commonality. Evolutionary biologists have seen that primates live in social groups of varying sizes,” the report says. A comparison of the size of human brains to those of various other apes allows scientists to calculate the best group size for humans to work in. “Based on this formula we have concluded that the optimum (or largest possible) group of people is 147.8.” The military, the Hutterite religious group and hunter-gatherer societies are also examples in which groups have tended to comprise around 150 people. Employees who have spoken to news agency TT said they “seriously questioned” whether it was serious to compare them to apes. They also said it gave rise to scepticism over the basis of other elements of the reorganization, under which 1,000 people are moving workplace. A list will be published in late August of the offices earmarked for closure. No spokespeople for the tax authority were available for immediate comment on Monday.


photo from “When I got a ‘proper’ job” (Set)

GORE-TEX BUSINESS MODEL in DEPTH : NO BOSSES
http://www.gore.com/en_xx/aboutus/culture/index.html
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/11/noboss.html
BY Michael Kaplan / October 31, 1997
Working as a business leader in Gore’s military-fabrics division, Terri Kelly often finds herself disabusing outsiders of the notion that life in a world without authority figures is Utopia.

If you’ve nicknamed your boss the Walking Plague, Terri Kelly is a woman you will envy: she’s never had a boss. After graduating from the University of Delaware in 1983 with a BS in engineering, Kelly went to work for W.L. Gore and Associates, a $1.1 billion company best known as a developer of high-tech fabric. If you’ve worn a Gore-Tex jacket, you’ve had a close encounter with a Gore product. A visionary corporation, Gore is built from a blueprint that its founder refers to as a “lattice” (as opposed to a “ladder”). There is no visible hierarchy at Gore — and no job titles. In fact, there are no bosses. Instead, there are leaders who achieve their positions by gaining followers. Business goals are established by consensus. Gore’s internal “structure” was put into place in 1958 by cofounder Bill Gore, an ex-DuPont exec who believed that leaders should be chosen by the people who follow them. Working as a business leader in Gore’s military-fabrics division, Kelly often finds herself disabusing outsiders of the notion that life in a world without authority figures is Utopia.

Fantasy: You’re responsible to no one.
Reality: You’re responsible to everyone.

“Although I’m a business leader for military fabric, I’m a leader only if there are people who are willing to follow me,” says Kelly. “A project doesn’t move forward unless people buy into it. You cultivate followership by selling yourself, articulating your ideas, and developing a reputation for seeing things through.” Here is Kelly’s three-point plan for convincing fellow Goreans to buy in on her projects.

Resolve the potentially fatal flaw.
After conceiving an idea, Kelly scrutinizes the plan to find its weakest link and takes it to the person who oversees that part of the business. “Let’s say I’ve come up with a design for a winter sleeping bag for the military,” she says. “I’d go to the person responsible for marketing the bag and find out whether there’s demand for it. If there isn’t, I’d go back and try to reposition the plan. If he’s excited by the idea and thinks it’s viable, I’d bring him in on the project to help me develop it.”

Give away ownership.
Once Kelly is convinced there’s a market for the sleeping bag, she starts casting about for people from other divisions — manufacturing, design, fabric, sales — to form a core team and develop the product. “It’s a process of giving away ownership of the idea to people who want to contribute and be a part of it. The project won’t go anywhere if you don’t let people run with it.”

Connect the project with the Big Picture.
Unlike people in hierarchical companies, Kelly cannot simply draft the members of her team. She’s got to win them over. Her most reliable tactic is to show how the project will improve Gore’s bottom line.

“People here understand that the growth of our business with the military is absolutely critical to our overall success. If I paint a convincing argument that we aren’t giving the soldier our best product, then Gore employees need to think about that. And I have to show them that through their lack of action, they are opting out of the company’s future.”

Fantasy: There’s no boss standing between you and a raise.
Reality: Everyone stands between you and a raise.

“Salary raises depend on the written reviews of your peers, not on a boss’s recommendation,” says Kelly, who adds that the reviews include a numerical ranking for each person within a particular department. “The idea is that employees are not accountable to the president of the company; they’re accountable to their colleagues.” Achieving a high ranking, Kelly explains, depends in part on your ability to work on high-profile projects. Follow these steps.

Establish your credibility.
“You won’t get invited to join the hot teams until you’ve already contributed to projects that weren’t so attractive,” says Kelly. “To get ahead, you must first demonstrate that you can take ownership of a project and stick with it. Anyone can talk about going the extra mile. First you’ve got to prove to everyone else that you can do it.”

Pursue the team of your dreams.
“When it’s not immediately clear who will be a good fit on a particular team, you hope that somebody will step up and express excitement about being a part of it. People here should never wait around to be asked to join a team. They’ve got to be proactive. They have to volunteer.”

ILLUSION of CHAOS
http://www.workforce.com/section/09/feature/24/29/22/index.html
W.L. Gore believes its egalitarian workforce philosophy–no titles, workers collaborating in small teams–fuels creativity and innovation. But as global expansion raises the need for more formalized practices, can the company maintain itself?
By Patrick J. Kiger / February 27, 2006

At manufacturing company W.L. Gore & Associates, the unconventional workplace culture has become nearly as legendary as the company’s weather-resistant Gore-Tex synthetic fabric is ubiquitous. There is the story of the employee who told company founder Bill Gore that she had to attend an outside meeting where hosts would expect her to have a job title–a custom banished by Gore, who believed that such distinctions stifled freedom, communication and creativity. He jokingly suggested that she call herself “supreme commander.” The employee reportedly liked it so much she had business cards printed with that inscription.

Over the years, the Newark, Delaware, manufacturer has grabbed the lead in numerous markets through technological breakthroughs. That strategy has been facilitated in large part by Gore’s unorthodox workforce management practices, such as a “flat lattice” organizational structure by which the company strives to encourage creativity. “We work hard at maximizing individual potential, maintaining an emphasis on product integrity and cultivating an environment where creativity can flourish,” says Terri Kelly, the company’s new president and CEO. “A fundamental belief in our people and their abilities continues to be the key to our success, even as we expand globally.”

In many ways, little has changed during the history of the 48-year-old firm, which in January placed fifth on Fortune’s list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.” Gore’s employees–all “associates” in Gore-speak–still are encouraged to spend at least some of their time developing pet projects in addition to their regular work. Instead of bosses, they have “sponsors” who help them find the place in the organization where their skills and interests will best fit. They recruit one another to work in scores of small teams rather than sprawling bureaucracies, and are evaluated on the value of their contribution to the team rather than strictly upon their work’s bottom-line impact. The privately held company, which had $1.84 billion in worldwide sales in 2005, up 16.5 percent from the previous year, markets more than 1,000 products ranging from heart patches and synthetic blood vessels to plastic-coated acoustic guitar strings that are more dependable than conventional metal ones.

But as Gore has grown–from 3,000 workers in the early 1980s to 7,300 engineers, salespeople, medical device assemblers and others in 45 facilities worldwide today–and shifted to supplying multinational clients whose manufacturing facilities may be scattered around the globe, the company has been compelled to tinker with its trademark culture. For other companies, Gore provides a useful lesson in how to develop more formalized practices without stifling innovation. “From a practice and operations standpoint, we have to do things a little differently,” says Gore human resources associate Jackie Brinton. “But our basic culture hasn’t changed. We still believe in the power of the individual who is given the freedom to do great things and in the beauty of small teams, even though we’re now operating on a global, coordinated scale.”

Getting bigger while staying small
The classic Gore culture began in the basement of the home of Bill Gore, who left DuPont in 1958 to create his own enlightened version of the workplace. Gore built the company upon four core principles–fairness; freedom to encourage others to grow in knowledge, skill and responsibility; ability to honor one’s own commitments; and consultation with others before taking action that could affect the company “below the waterline.” Instead of the typical corporate hierarchy, he created a “flat lattice” organization that not only had no titles, but also no chains of command or predetermined channels of communication.

In Gore’s model, associates communicate directly with one another and are accountable to their peers rather than bosses. Ideally, leaders in the company emerge naturally by demonstrating special knowledge, skill or experience –“followship.” Thomas Malone, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management and the author of The Future of Work, describes Gore as a “miniature democracy.” “The way you become a manager is by finding people who want to work for you,” Malone says. “In a certain sense, you’re elected rather than appointed. It’s a democratic structure inside a business organization.” The $1.84 billion company’s flat organizational structure makes it exceptionally nimble. “If someone has an idea for a new product, they don’t have to go up a hierarchy to find some boss to approve it,” says John Sawyer, chairman of the department of business administration at the University of Delaware. “Instead, they have to find peers in the organization who support the idea and will work with them. That open style of communication allows ideas to come up from the bottom.”

The company developed shred-resistant Glide dental floss, for example, after an associate wondered whether Gore’s industrial fibers could be used for cleaning teeth as well. Engineers at Gore’s Flagstaff, Arizona, plant worked for three years on their own to develop plastic-coated guitar string before they offered the product of their inspiration to the company, which successfully marketed it. In his 2000 best-seller The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell described Gore’s traditional practice of limiting the size of its plants to roughly 150 workers, because that was the largest group of people who could know one another well enough to converse in the hallway. Today, however, human resources associate Brinton works in a plant with more than 300 fellow associates. More important, associates in multiple countries may have to work together to service a single multinational client.

In addition to encouraging the old hallway chats, Gore now has regular plant communications meetings where leaders share with the associates news about company performance, discuss safety and introduce new workers. “It’s a challenge to get bigger while staying small,” Brinton says. Associates still work in small teams and frequently meet face to face–though in some cases the teammates may be on several continents and do much of their communicating by phone or e-mail. “It’s tough to build relationships by e-mail,” Brinton says. “For us, that’s a work in progress right now. We do bring global teams together physically on a fairly regular basis.” Brinton can’t calculate the expense of such travel, but says it is substantial. In recent years, Gore has also begun subjecting its product development process to more discipline, the University of Delaware’s Sawyer says. While associates still initiate their own projects and build support for them, an evaluation team measures their progress against metrics or goals that must be reached in order for a project to progress.

Illusion of chaos
Gore’s recruiters still spend months and sometimes years filling job vacancies because it isn’t easy to find people who not only have the right business skills, but also are temperamentally and intellectually suited for the unorthodox environment. “It isn’t a company for everyone,” Brinton says. “It takes a special kind of person to be effective here–someone who is really passionate about sharing information, as opposed to controlling it. Someone who can handle a degree of ambiguity, as opposed to ‘Here’s my job and I only do these tasks.’ Someone who’s willing to lift his or her head up from the desk and see what the business’ real needs are.”

Even those select few hires, a fraction of a percent of the 38,000 applications that the company receives annually, sometimes start with the misconception that the company is a place where employees do literally whatever they choose. “There’s certainly a misunderstanding in many cases about what freedom means at Gore,” Brinton says. “People can’t figure out how it might work. It sounds like chaos.” In reality, there is structure at Gore driven by a certain internal logic–and the belief that motivated individuals eventually gravitate toward the things they do best. The non-utopian reality is that associates are hired to fill certain set expectations and meet certain business needs–in Gore parlance, the “core commitment.” They must build credibility by performing those obligatory functions before they can pursue their own ideas and persuade other associates to form a team to work on them.

Ed Gunzel, a 12-year associate at Gore who gradually has become a technical leader, describes his path: “I started out working in new product development, the consumer side of fabrics, and really enjoyed that. But eventually, over time, I saw some areas where I could have a bigger impact, in terms of helping align teams around certain objectives and seeing where we could go with our technology for military, fire and law enforcement use. I saw that need and chose to get involved, and that’s become more of my core commitment than individual products.” These days, Gore associates use the company intranet to seek out opportunities elsewhere in the organization, but personal relationships still remain at the core of the company’s development process–the relationship between an associate and his or her sponsor, and the relationships among sponsors. “The sponsor’s role is to be broadly knowledgeable about the business, to be able to help the associate find opportunities,” Brinton says.

The mentoring process has changed slightly in recent years. In the past, sponsors might have had informal conversations about associates’ performance and prospects. Brinton says that Gore now has a more structured system, the Fall Development Process, in which teams of sponsors meet to discuss whether the associates under their guidance are in the roles that best utilize their skills and to talk about what other opportunities there might be for them in the company. “When we were smaller, everyone knew what was happening everywhere,” Brinton says. “But now that we’ve become broader globally, someone sitting in a single plant might not be able to see all the opportunities.” Even so, “we’re not moving pieces on a chessboard here,” Brinton says. “We’re making recommendations to the associates. They’re the ones who actually make the decision about what role they’re going to pursue. Sometimes, it may be in a different direction than what the sponsor suggests, based upon their passions.”

Gore’s evaluation process looks at an associate’s work but doesn’t focus strictly on the bottom-line impact. “For example, if a sales associate got involved in a training program, the person’s sales numbers may be down, but his or her overall contribution may be up,” Brinton says. “You have to look at the whole person, and whether he or she is making a contribution in a different way.” Additionally, “people can be involved with projects that weren’t successful, but still can be ranked high from a contribution standpoint,” Brinton says. “When you’re an entrepreneurial organization, you’re going to be taking some risks. That doesn’t mean that the person doing that work made less of a contribution. We’re valuing people who take smart risks. And you learn a lot from projects that fail, as well as ones that are successful.”

While other companies have instituted small, self-managed teams and some other aspects of Bill Gore’s philosophy, no imitator has taken those concepts as far as the company he founded, says Henry Sims Jr., a professor of management at the University of Maryland’s graduate business school and an expert on small, self-managing teams. “One of the things that’s different about Gore is that they started with this philosophy,” Sims says. “There’s a lot of evidence that these small, empowered teams can be very effective, but they take a great deal of time and attention to develop. And changing to that system requires a period of difficult and frustrating transition,” he says. “Once teams reach a mature stage, as they have at Gore, they can do things a lot better. They can produce products at a lower cost, bring in new processes more rapidly and smoothly, innovate more quickly.” Brinton says Gore has been able to maintain its unique approach in part because the company remains privately held. “The beauty is that we can make decisions that support our ongoing growth, and not have to just do things because we need to look good for the next quarter,” she says.