United States News Digest
Military Dependence on Contractors is an 'Addiction'
Sept. 28 (EIRNS)The Sept. 16 incident in which Blackwater security guards engaged in a shoot-out in Baghdad that left at least eight civilians dead, has put a spotlight on the dependency of the U.S. military on contractors in Iraq. Peter Singer, the expert on mercenaries at the Brookings Institution, compares that dependency to an addiction. In a report dated Sept. 21, Singer writes that the use of contractors in Iraq "has created a dependency syndrome on the private marketplace that not merely creates vulnerabilities, but shows all of the signs of the last downward spirals of an addiction."
After listing the particulars as to how the use of contractors has undermined the counterinsurgency mission in Iraq, Singer says that there are those who will try to ignore that cycle, by describing these incidents as "mere anomalies," or that "we can't go to war without them." These "are the denials of pushers, enablers and addicts," he says. "Only an open and honest intervention, a step back from the precipice of over-outsourcing, can break us out of the vicious cycle into which we've locked our national security."
Lyndon LaRouche said, "This is the new violence. These are Roman Empire-style killer teams. This is what the Roman legions devolved towards: private murder gangs, led by their corporate presidents, in effect. This was the Nazi project of the 'Allgemeine SS,' even though the end of the war prevented its complete realization."
Russian Ambassadors Support Kennebunkport Initiative
Sept. 27 (EIRNS)The negotiations on the Russian proposal for joint use of the Gabala radar installation in Azerbaijan, had better be successful, or there will be "big trouble," stated Sergei Mikhailovich Rogov, director of Russia's U.S.A. and Canada Institute, and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Rogov was replying to a question from EIR reporter Michele Steinberg, directed to a panel of U.S. and Russian ambassadors from the last three decades, who appeared at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25.
Thirteen former ambassadors from the U.S. to Russia, and from Russia to the U.S., were present at the event, which commemorated the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S.A. and Russia. The panel opened with statements from two of the former Russian Ambassadors, Vladimir Lukin and Yury Dubinin, and from two of the American Ambassadors, James Franklin Collins and Arthur Hartman, answering the question as to whether the "rocky" relations between the two countries could face better days, especially after the 2008 elections in both countries. All of the panelists agreed, yes, relations can and must, but the podium questions, from moderator Jill Dougherty of CNN, were absolutely lacking in content and vision.
However, when EIR's Steinberg raised the Kennebunkport initiative by Putin, to offer a chance for U.S.-Russian cooperation on the Gabala radar installation in Azerbaijan, there was a very lively response. Steinberg also asked about the role of the commission with Henry Kissinger and Dr. Yevgeny Primakov which was set up to pursue U.S.-Russian cooperation.
Several participants there are either on the commission, or work with it, including, Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, Thomas Graham from Kissinger McLarty Associates, and Rogov, who is more of an advisor.
Vorontsov said that the Kissinger-Primakov commission has a broader purpose in discussing cooperation, and nothing to do with negotiating the Gabala proposal per se. It is a commission of senior advisors, and that, answering as a member of that commission, he hoped that they will find a role in advising the governments of both countries that come into being after their respective elections. The Commission just had a very successful meeting recently, and plan to meet again in January.
Speaking from the audience, Rogovwho played a major role in organizing the Ambassadors' conferencemade two points: The Kissinger-Primakov commission is a gathering to mobilize the brain power of both sides to discuss and figure out what can be done to improve the relations between the two. It does not negotiate the missile defense issue, and is not a substitute for negotiations. There have been some official discussions between the Foreign Ministry and the State Department, and a week or so ago, a group that included "the BMDO" [sicBallistic Missiles Defense Office, now called the Missile Defense Agency] visited the site in Gabala, and the Russians showed the Americans their "TOP SECRET facilities" for the first time. However, said Rogov, [Gen. Patrick] O'Reilly was not all that impressed, and the Americans indicated they want to use Gabala for its capabilities, "along with" Poland and the Czech Republic. The Russians said, "No, that does not workit is either/or." So, said Rogov, there have to be negotiations. If this does not lead to compromise, there will be "big trouble."
Federal Judge Finds Patriot Act Unconstitutional
Sept. 27 (EIRNS)A Federal judge in Portland, Oregon, ruled yesterday that key sections of the U.S.A. Patriot Act are unconstitutional, because they permit the Executive branch to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens "without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."
The ruling, by Federal District Judge Anne Aiken, came in the case of Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim lawyer who was wrongly arrested and jailed after the FBI had erroneously linked him to the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.
"For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of lawwith unparalleled success," Judge Aiken said. Responding directly to the government's arguments defending the searches and surveillance of Mayfield's home and office, she wrote, "A shift to a nation based on extraconstitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill advised."
This is the second time this month that a Federal judge has found elements of the Patriot Act to be in violation of the Constitutionthe other being a Federal judge in New York who said that the use of so-called National Security Letters to obtain e-mail and telephone information without a court order is unconstitutional.
Bush's 'No Child Left Alive Veto'
Sept. 26 (EIRNS)With the number of American children lacking any health insurance at over 9 million and growing by 10% a year, President George W. Bush has sworn to veto an expansion in the Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which has passed both Houses of Congress by large, bipartisan majorities. In the Senate, 18 Republicans joined with the Democrats to pass the bill by a 67 to 29 veto-proof margin on Sept. 27. In the House, the vote was 265 to 159 on Sept. 25, and while not veto-proof, the 45 Republicans who joined with the Democrats increases the political cost of a veto. On the same day as the House vote, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) angrily accused the President of blocking this urgently needed bill solely in order to push his own innovation, "personal health insurance accounts."
Bush wants Congress to pass an authorization that shrinks the SCHIP program over the next five years, rather than expanding it according to the pressing need recognized by the great majority of Congressmen.
Bush's 'No Child Left Alive' veto, is what Lyndon LaRouche called this most malicious veto yet by the lame-duck President. "Gustav Mahler's composition, 'Songs on the Death of Children,' should be performed at the White House while Bush signs his veto statement, if he still dares to do so," said LaRouche.
Senate Passes Water Development Bill by Veto-Proof Margin
Sept. 25 (EIRNS)The Senate voted 81 to 12 yesterday to pass the conference report on the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill authorizes $23 billion for flood damage reduction, particularly in southern Louisiana; water infrastructure; environmental restoration; and other water-related projects. It also includes measures to reform the way the Army Corps of Engineers evaluates and approves projects, and requires that each project be subject to independent review. Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Congress passed a WRDA every two years, but the Bush Administration has been opposed to a new WRDA, despite the deterioration of water infrastructure, such as locks and dams on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, some of which have exceeded their 50-year design life. Yesterday's veto-proof Senate vote follows a similar 381 to 40 vote in the House on Aug. 1.
Hospitals in Los Angeles Area in Danger of Bankruptcy
Sept. 24 (EIRNS)While California's Governator Schwarzenegger postures on his proposed bipartisan health-care proposal, mooting a special session of the California Legislature, the Los Angeles Times of Sept. 23, in a continuing series on the crisis in health-care infrastructure in Los Angeles County area, reports that private hospitals accounting for 15% of the beds in the region are in dire financial straits, raising the possibility of additional delays in already-overburdened emergency rooms, longer ambulance rides, and reduced access to care. The series reports that since 1996, more than 70 community hospitals have closed across the state, over 50 of these in Southern California. While well-known facilities in affluent areas are seeing rising profits, smaller hospitals in "have not" areas are losing as much as tens of millions of dollars apiece, as the uninsured and underinsured flock to these remaining institutions, while Federal and state reimbursements to them are reduced. The recent closing of Martin Luther King-Harbor Hospital, a comprehensive teaching hospital set up to bring state-of-the-art medical care to the poor in the Watts area in the early 1970s, has left remaining institutions to absorb the 47,000 patients who used its emergency room annually.