United States News Digest
Arrest of Israeli Spy Revives Hunt for 'X Committee'
April 24 (EIRNS)The arrest this week of an American-born Army engineer on charges that he spied for Israel, has revived the hunt for the "X Committee," the high-level apparatus of Israeli spies and agents of influence who worked with Jonathan Pollard, the American who was convicted of spying for Israel, who stole vast amounts of U.S. national security secrets during the 1980s, and passed them to Israel. On April 22, Ben Ami Kadish was arrested at his home in New Jersey, and charged with delivering U.S. nuclear weapon and other military secrets to Israel. The FBI affidavit, which was the basis for his arrest, linked Kadish directly with the Pollard apparatus, through a former Israeli science attaché in New York, Yosef Yagur, who was one of Pollard's controllers, and also managed Kadish's espionage activities.
U.S. intelligence sources have underscored the importance of the Kadish arrest, including the fact that the initial tipoff of his spying activities came from Israel. The sources linked the revival of the Israeli espionage issue to efforts within the U.S. military and intelligence community to prevent a new war in the Middle Easta war that Vice President Dick Cheney is aggressively promoting.
According to one Israeli source, the leaking of Kadish's identity as a spy was aimed at diverting attention from other, far more high-level Israeli assets in the U.S., who have been targets of American counterespionage investigation since the November 1985 arrest of Pollard. The source reported that top Israeli government officials fear that the search for the so-called "Mr. X" or "X Committee" of Israeli spies and agents still in place in the U.S. government, has recently advanced, and that there could be a major new scandal, far more damaging than the Kadish case. Kadish is 84 years old, and ended his career as an Army engineer at a key research and development facility in Dover, New Jersey in 1990. However, Kadish's handler, Yagur, has been a target of U.S. investigation since the Pollard arrest, and the renewed focus on his activities could have produced the long-anticipated breakthrough in the case.
EIR was the first publication in the world to reveal that Pollard was part of a much larger spy ring. While there was a broad recognition that there was another spy, "Mr. X," still on the loose, EIR documented the much larger apparatus, labelled the "X Committee." In the Spring 1986 special report, "Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Mafia: Moscow's Secret Weapon," EIR identified a number of leading "X Committee" suspects, including Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, and Albert Wohlstetter. Many of these individuals emerged as key neocon policymakers in the George W. Bush administration, and they all played a pivotal role in fabricating the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Today, these same neocons are pushing, along with Vice President Cheney, for U.S. military action against Iran and Syria before Bush leaves office. Were any of the key members of the "X Committee" to be revealed or indicted, it could greatly reduce the prospect that Cheney gets his way and convinces President Bush to order military strikes on Iran, and could destroy the political clout of the neocons forever.
'Protectionism' Threatens Murdoch's Media Empire
April 23 (EIRNS)In a speech before the Atlantic Council this week, British media baron Rupert Murdoch listed three threats to his world. First and foremost was "the growing appeal of protectionism." Only then, terrorism. Lastly, people losing faith in "our values." No wonder. The growing appeal of protectionism may block Murdoch's drive to secure a death grip on the globe's news/entertainment media. He is laying the groundwork for snaring another daily newspaper in New York City, the leading U.S. media market. But growing support for anti-monopoly legislation may thwart his moves.
Murdoch already owns the New York Post and the recently acquired Wall Street Journal, as well as two television stations in the New York market, and is now seeking to add Long Island-based Newsday to his empire.
But Congress is soon likely to pass a bill that would restore an old rule preventing an owner from controlling both a newspaper and a TV station in the same market. On April 24, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), disapproving the Federal Communication Commission's new media ownership rule. Dorgan recently told the Times, "They [media owners] try to argue that there are all these outlets the Internet, television, radio, newspapers, and so on. It may be more outlets, but it's the same ventriloquists. You have five or six corporate interests that determine what most Americans see, hear, and read."
Murdoch already owns the largest number of English-language media outlets in the world.
Petersburg Is First Virginia City To Support HBPA
April 22 (EIRNS)The city council of Petersburg, Va., passed a resolution supporting the model legislation for the Homeowners and Bank Protection Act (HBPA) on March 4. Resolution 19 demands that Congress move quickly to keep people in their homes and avert social chaos, by establishing a Federal agency to place the Federal and state chartered banks under protection; freeze all foreclosures, permitting American families to retain their homes; and entrust state governors with the responsibility for establishing rental assessments which will go into designated banks, while the Federal government provides the necessary credits and guarantees to assure a successful transition.
Petersburg, which is part of the Richmond metropolitan area, is a city of approximately 33,000 people. It is the first city in the Commonwealth of Virginiawhose northern counties, such as Loudoun and Prince William, have been dubbed Ground Zero for the housing collapseto take up the only solution to the banking/housing crisis, the HBPA. The Council called for the resolution to be sent to all Virginia Congressmen, as well as the President of the United States.
VA Officials Knew About Suicide Rate Among Veterans
April 22 (EIRNS)One month after CBS News aired a report on Nov. 14, 2007, that calculated that over 6,000 veterans had committed suicide in 2005, top Veterans Affairs officials admitted among themselves that the report was accurate. Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's top mental health official, said, in an internal e-mail to Dr. Michael J. Kussman, the VA's undersecretary for health, "There are about 18 suicides per day," among the total veteran population, and there are 4 to 5 per day among veterans who receive care from the VA, thereby confirming CBS's data. And yet, publicly, the VA told CBS that there were only 790 attempted suicides in all of 2007, when its own internal data suggested over 6,500 suicides.
That e-mail, and others, were submitted as evidence in the trial of a lawsuit, brought by two veterans' organizations against the VA, that began on April 21. Gordon Erspamer, lead attorney for the veterans' groups, told the court, according to news reports, "Our ultimate goal is guaranteed health care, timely health care, timely decisions on disability payments," but that, "The [VA's claims-processing] system is choking on the claims; the delays are unconscionable." Judge Samuel Conti, who is presiding over the trial in Federal court in San Francisco, said, in an earlier pre-trial ruling, that if the plaintiffs can prove their claims, they would show that "thousands of veterans, if not more, are suffering grievous injuries as the result of their inability to procure desperately needed and obviously deserved health care."
Rendell Ups Privatization Timetable on Pa. Turnpike
April 20 (EIRNS)Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell's drive to privatize the historic Pennsylvania Turnpike went into high gear this past week. A final call for bids for a 75-year lease of the turnpike was issued by Rendell's administration on April 15. This moves up the timetable to privatize the road. Rendell, who linked up with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to promote privatized funding of infrastructure, hopes to ram through legislative approval for the scheme by June 10. Rendell's move comes on the heels of the stinging defeat handed to Bloomberg from the New York State legislature, which rejected his made-in-London toll tax scheme, so-called "congestion pricing," which would have imposed a fee to drive into the city.
Rendell's lease plan, devised by Morgan Stanley & Co., mirrors Indiana's and Chicago's lease sell-offs of their roads to Macquarie Cintra. In the deal, Pennsylvania would receive an up-front payment for the 75-year lease, while all profits from tolls and food and fuel concessions on the turnpike would be kept by the highest bidder. Terms of the lease also include a 25% (!) toll hike in 2009.
The Pennsylvania scheme may be headed for defeat, as labor unions, the Turnpike Commission, and many Democratic legislators oppose it.