by LAURA CARLSEN
Published on Countpunch Weekend Edition July 25-27 (go to Counterpunch site for the version with important hotlinks).
* Laura Carlsen is the Director of the Americas Program.
After three years of relative silence, the U.S. press has finally “discovered” the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors piling up on the U.S. border. Although the coverage often began with moving stories of the hardships these young migrants faced, it soon turned ugly. For right-wing pundits and politicians, the “humanitarian crisis” has become a crackdown on kids.
The dominant narrative has been that foolish parents, perhaps duped by scheming criminal bands, are sending hapless children north to take advantage of loopholes in U.S. immigration practices.
This is just plain wrong. On every count.
Knowing the Risks
Continue Reading »
Another reason Plan Mexico must be ended and for us to support the people of Mexico against the violence and corruption plaguing their government.
Take action urged by the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy!
Demand justice in the murder of U.S. journalist Brad Will
Suspend Merida Initiative aid to Mexican security forces
June 14 would have been U.S. journalist Brad Will’s 44th birthday. Will was shot and killed covering protests in the Mexican state of Oaxaca in 2006. Years later, his murder and that of at least 18 Mexicans murdered in the protests have still not been fully investigated and prosecuted by the Mexican government.
(See details of the Brad Will case here)
THIS WEEK: Please call Senator Dick Durbin who represents the state where Brad’s parents live (D, Illinois) and urge him to use his leadership position to demand justice in the murder of Brad Will and immediately halt US aid to Mexican military and police.
In the first complaint filed with the new Inspector General of the Police Department for the City of New York, on his first day in office, Friends of Brad Will recommend to the Inspector General a course of action for exposing and ending targeting of political activists by the NYPD, including the spying on and infiltration of Friends of Brad Will.
If you are a member of a human rights, environmental justice, police reform, good government or other civic organization, you and your organizations may have been targeted by NYPD operations over the last two decades.
You and your organizations can join us in calling on the Inspector General Philip Eure to conduct a full and public audit of NYPD spying, infiltration, and subversion of political activist groups and dissenters and to recommend laws mandating severe penalties for continuation of such unlawful practices to serve as an effective deterrent to their repetition. Read full complaint here.
Take action by contacting Mayor De Blasio and your City Council member and urging them to support our complaint and call for a full audit of the NYPD’s history of targeting political activists and an end those practices. Click here to view a sample letter to Mayor De Blasio you can cut and past and modify to your tastes. Continue Reading »
Here is an example of a letter you could send to Senator Durbin to end impunity for the murder of Brad Will and many others by Mexican government-backed paramilitaries
Subject: Plan Mexico (aka the Merida Initiative) and he Murder of US journalist Brad Will
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Max_Gleischman@durbin.senate.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Please thank Mr Durbin for writing about Illinois resident Brad Will’s murder in Oaxaca Mexico some time ago. What is the latest?
Senator Durbin represents the state where Brad’s parents live (D, Illinois) I urge you to use you leadership position to end immediately US aid to Mexican military and police and that such aid be ended until Brad Will’s murderers and the murders of other innocents (at least 18 Mexicans during the same period) and those in the Mexican civil administration who helped cover up these murders are all brought to justice.
Senator Durbin serves as the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate. Also known as the Majority Whip, Senator Durbin has been elected to this leadership post by his Democratic colleagues every two years since 2006. He sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations, Foreign Relations and Rules Committees.
You have the power to rally publicly your Senate colleagues and thereby to impress on the Obama Administration the importance of taking public action to ensure that ALL of those responsible for these murders and their cover-up are brought to justice and that military and police aid to Mexico is halted until they are.
Please reply, thank you.
Your Name Here
By Joseph J. Kolb
Published May 12, 2014
Note: We warned Washington Office on Against Latin America about the absence of benchmarks in Plan Mexico funding proposals by Bush. But they just pushed ahead despite the obvious failure of the model as made clear by corruption and brutality scandals that are endemic in the Colombia “drug war”. Of course, Plan Mexico is as much about ‘fighting drugs’ as Plan Colombia was.
Mexican police have captured high-profile drug kingpins in recent years, but complaints of abuse and corruption from members of the force have skyrocketed.AP
More than $1 billion in U.S. aid has done nothing to stem the rampant corruption and human rights violations within Mexican law enforcement, and lawmakers ought to rethink the flow of another $900 million in taxpayer dollars earmarked for south of the border, according to a new report from a Washington nonprofit.
The aid is part of the 2007 Merida Initiative, which promised Mexico’s federal police force funds for equipment and training, but tied the money to efforts to curtail corruption and abuse within the vast department. But the Washington Office on Latin America found complaints to Mexico’s Human Rights Commission have exploded over the same time, rising to 802 in 2012 from 146 six years earlier. Although the authors recognize Mexico’s attempts to improve its dysfunctional criminal justice system, they found it has failed to root out corruption and human rights violations among its police officers. Continue Reading »
See his full FAQ here.
Here’s the text below:
The people have spoken – it is time for the federal government to reform the failed marijuana policies that ruin lives and cost us billions of dollars every year.
Last November, Colorado and Washington voters chose to legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. Nineteen Jurisdictions already allow medical marijuana. Half of Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives, and about 18 million have used it in the past month. It has been here for years, and it is here to stay.
Instead of arresting two-thirds of a million people every year for using something that half of Americans feel should be legal, we should embark on a reasonable program allowing states to develop their own programs that the federal government should tax and regulate. This is a position that conservatives who respect states’ rights and liberals who respect individual rights should be able to get behind.
Once we have established this principle, we should finally institute a framework to tax and regulate marijuana that will save billions of dollars in enforcement-related costs and raise billions in new revenue for deficit reduction, substance abuse, and law enforcement.
Although estimates are imprecise, I believe that my Marijuana Tax Equity Act, in combination with an end to federal marijuana prohibition, should be able to produce a net savings of at least $100 billion over a decade through increased revenues and reduced expenditures, while growing the economies of small town and rural America. Continue Reading »
Excerpt of this excellent discussion:
“I see that the current illicit marketplace is the gateway. It is the environment that is the gateway, not a particular substance or drug, but the environment that we have of drug dealers acting on our corners hiring kids to sell drugs, marijuana and other drugs, recruiting them from our schools, bringing them out onto the street corners, to sell drugs in schools to other children. We’ve created an environment with policies of prohibition that puts more drugs into the hands of our young people than any other scheme we could possibly imagine. This is the worst. And we realized that back during the times of alcohol prohibition. That’s why alcohol prohibition only lasted 13 years instead of four decades.”
Excellent review of current drug policy discussions at the UN in respected UK medical journal, The Lancet.
Chris Ford, founder and clinical director of the non-governmental organisation International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies (IDHDP), told The Lancet: “We know the global war on drugs has failed and this has had devastating consequences for individuals and communities around the world. Large amounts of money have been spent on criminalisation and repressive measures have failed to curtail supply or consumption.”
on the Fair Blog by Janine Jackson
Quote: “US Attorney General Eric Holder called the arrest a “landmark achievement”: “The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence and corruption.”
But that activity wasn’t conducted by Guzman alone, and another notable player appears to be missing from the current story.” (bold ours)
Read it all here.
(NB: It’s about time. And too little too late for those who continue to rot in jail because of these regressive policies still on the books. And the victims of militarization in Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras etc are not addressed by piecemeal responses like decriminalization or changes in domestic sentencing law that’s still 18:1 for crack (black people) vs. cocaine (white people) possession etc.. – Rob)
Liberals and Republicans signal huge shift in attitude to US drug laws
With a handful of states considering new laws, America is becoming more sophisticated in its attitude towards drugs
by Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch
published in The Observer, Saturday 8 February 2014
Never did I think I would find myself agreeing with Texas governor Rick Perry on drug policy. But when the darling of Tea Party Republicans argued in favour of reducing prison populations and against federal obstruction of Washington and Colorado’s alternative marijuana policies, I found myself applauding the three-term governor.
“After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past,” Perry said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalisation and keep people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade.” Continue Reading »
and collusion with the cartels.
LEÓN: Despite the agreement, now there are doubts still lingering as to the capability and the willingness of the Mexican federal government to clean the state of organized crime, even more now in the lights of the recent attacks in Apatzingán while under federal protection, mainly because there is no trust in the honesty of the federal officials.
How the NSA Infiltrated Mexico’s Computers
“My opinion is that the demand for an explanation from the Obama administration is nothing more than a face-saving move by Peña Nieto. Obama has already not only admitted to the programs revealed by Snowden, but defended them.
Mexico does not need an explanation from President Obama. It needs a president who defends the dignity and independence of Mexico by drawing a diplomatic line that distinguishes between cooperation and intervention.”
Rest published at Counterpunch here
Read all of this By SPIEGEL staff here.
Part 2: Targeting Mexico
Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security, which was folded into the new National Security Commission at the beginning of 2013, was responsible at the time for the country’s police, counterterrorism, prison system and border police. Most of the agency’s nearly 20,000 employees worked at its headquarters on Avenida Constituyentes, an important traffic artery in Mexico City. A large share of the Mexican security authorities under the auspices of the Secretariat are supervised from the offices there, making Avenida Constituyentes a one-stop shop for anyone seeking to learn more about the country’s security apparatus.
That considered, assigning the TAO unit responsible for tailored operations to target the Secretariat makes a lot of sense. After all, one document states, the US Department of Homeland Security and the United States’ intelligence agencies have a need to know everything about the drug trade, human trafficking and security along the US-Mexico border. The Secretariat presents a potential “goldmine” for the NSA’s spies, a document states. The TAO workers selected systems administrators and telecommunications engineers at the Mexican agency as their targets, thus marking the start of what the unit dubbed Operation WHITETAMALE.
Workers at NSA’s target selection office, which also had Angela Merkel in its sights in 2002 before she became chancellor, sent TAO a list of officials within the Mexican Secretariat they thought might make interesting targets. As a first step, TAO penetrated the target officials’ email accounts, a relatively simple job. Next, they infiltrated the entire network and began capturing data.
Soon the NSA spies had knowledge of the agency’s servers, including IP addresses, computers used for email traffic and individual addresses of diverse employees. They also obtained diagrams of the security agencies’ structures, including video surveillance. It appears the operation continued for years until SPIEGEL first reported on it in October.
The technical term for this type of activity is “Computer Network Exploitation” (CNE). The goal here is to “subvert endpoint devices,” according to an internal NSA presentation that SPIEGEL has viewed. The presentation goes on to list nearly all the types of devices that run our digital lives — “servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, handsets, phone switches, SCADA systems, etc.” SCADAs are industrial control systems used in factories, as well as in power plants. Anyone who can bring these systems under their control has the potential to knock out parts of a country’s critical infrastructure.
Why are we still fighting the drug war?
published in the January 6, 2014 edition of The New Yorker
Read it here.
Excellent piece, by Nick Alexandrov, on the origins and recent history of the ‘war on drugs’ and what the US government has really been fighting. I wonder if the Washington Office on Latin America still maintains their position on Plan Mexico, that they are “not for it or against it”.
Quote from this powerful New York Times oped, published December 22nd, 2013: “It is important to recognize that while Mr. Obama showed mercy to these eight people, his administration has been the least merciful in modern times. The power to mitigate an overly harsh sentence is squarely in his hands, and yet in nearly five years he has commuted just nine sentences and issued 52 pardons.” (bold mine)
President Obama’s decision on Thursday to commute the outrageously long drug sentences of eight men and women showed a measure of compassion and common sense. But it also served to highlight the injustice being done to thousands of prisoners under federal sentencing laws.
Read the rest here.
Excerpt: Juan Orlando Hernández, the right wing National Party politician who was the declared winner in the presidential elections in Honduras, based his campaign on “christian values” against the homosexual community. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced Hernández as the winner, saying that he was 6 points ahead of Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party (The Freedom and Re-foundation party), wife of former president Mel Zelaya who was ousted in the 2009 Coup. LIBRE, a new party that was born out of Coup resistance, has incorporated many members of the sexual diversity community in its ranks and has denounced fraud at the polls.
Rest of the article, Written by Andalusia Knoll, and published on 20 December 2013, here. Where are the Amnesty International action alerts against Secretary of State Kerry and Obama for giving the thumbs up to a violence-ridden fraudulent election? Post election, it’s just symbolic nonsense, without naming names, and, most shockingly, leaving the major military backer of the junta, the United States Government under then Secretary of State Clinton, currently John Kerry, both under President Obama, off the hook.
by domestic Insider NGOs.
Excellent report here by Bruce Dixon for Black Agenda Report entitled “Obama & Holder Win Court Case, Keep Thousands in Prison Under Unfair 80s Crack Sentencing Laws”.
Soon to come, we hope to have an expose of foreign Insider NGOs that are serving to prolong and even benefit from the ‘Drug War”.
A strong indictment, by Peter Watt, of the “drug war” and the large banks and wealthy bankers who profit from it.
Attempts to rescue the brutal past from historical amnesia and indifference have been an immense challenge for Argentine, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Chilean, Paraguayan, and Uruguayan human rights campaigners and victims of political repression, and it has taken decades of persistence and direct action to bring any of those responsible for past crimes to trial. One wonders how future activists will confront the murderers, torturers, politicians, and bankers of the drug war in Mexico. Will the respectable men and women of the international banking industry, for example, who enable the carnage and chaos by laundering billions of dollars of cartel money, ever face jail sentences for their active complicity in one of the planet’s most violent criminal industries?
Please read the rest of this piece at Peter Watt’s NACLA blog here.
|NSA Staffed U.S.-Only Intelligence “Fusion Center” in Mexico City|
|Written by Michael Evans and Jesse Franzblau|
|Tuesday, 19 November 2013|
Source: Migration Declassified
The memo was written by William Wechsler, then the head of CN> and is addressed to Mike Vickers, who was then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (ASD (SO/LIC&IC)). In this post, Vickers played a leading role in coordinating clandestine operations against terrorist groups, including drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. Vickers is perhaps best known for his role, memorialized in the book and film Charlie Wilson’s War, as a CIA operative who helped to arm Afghan Mujahideen fighters in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. Appointed Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence by President Barack Obama in 2010, Vickers is now the top civilian intelligence official at DOD.
While the term “high value target” often refers to leaders of terrorist groups or hostile states, highly-sensitive NSA documents disclosed in September 2013 by Brazil’s O Globo show that NSA officials used the same language to refer to the presidents of Mexico and Brazil.
Read the rest here.
Interview with a clear-sighted fighter against the ‘drug war’ on Democracy Now November 11th.
Published: November 6, 2013
By DAN FROSCH
“DENVER — Marijuana proponents scored significant victories on Tuesday as voters around the country passed ballot measures decriminalizing marijuana possession and approved regulatory taxes on the drug.”
The election yesterday resulted in (yet another) signal of the US public’s opposition to the ‘war on drugs’ and a demand for change. Rest of piece here.
As we organize for justice for Brad Will and others murdered with impunity, let’s not forget that the demonstrators and social movement Brad was documenting were targeted by plain-clothed police and other paramilitary forces.
Brad Will – Murdered with impunity by Mexican Government paramilitaries 7 years ago.
The US journalist was covering the teachers’ strike and popular movement in Oaxaca, Mexico, which the Mexican government was violently attempting to crush.
The Case of a Murdered US journalist
On June 14, 2006 the PRI Governor of Oaxaca, Ulyses Ruiz Ortiz, authorized a pre-dawn violent attack by paramilitary police officers on a peaceful protest camp of striking-teachers. A widespread social movement of thousands of inhabitants of Oaxaca, APPO, was launched in response, its ranks swelling because of the notoriety of Governor Ruiz’s corruption and the popular recognition of his having taken the Governorship through fraudulent elections.
At a street demonstration on October 27, 2006, U.S. Indymedia video journalist Brad Will was shot and killed while filming a confrontation between APPO activists and paramilitary forces. His film footage that day showed local police, municipal officials and paramilitaries shooting directly at demonstrators. Continue Reading »
[Editor: Drug trade listed by US spies as top strategic objective of surveillance. Benefits to international (US) investments are also a by-product. Human rights, a much lower priority, for President Obama's spying program.]
Der Spiegel, 20 October 2013
By Jens Glüsing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark
The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.
That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as “top secret” said: “TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”
According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.” The president’s office, the NSA reported, was now “a lucrative source.”
This operation, dubbed “Flatliquid,” is described in a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which SPIEGEL has now had the opportunity to analyze. The case is likely to cause further strain on relations between Mexico and the United States, which have been tense since Brazilian television network TV Globo revealed in September that the NSA monitored then-presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and others around him in the summer of 2012. Peña Nieto, now Mexico’s president, summoned the US ambassador in the wake of that news, but confined his reaction to demanding an investigation into the matter.
Now, though, the revelation that the NSA has systematically infiltrated an entire computer network is likely to trigger deeper controversy, especially since the NSA’s snooping took place during the term of Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón, a leader who worked more closely with Washington than any other Mexican president before him.
Cryptome: This spying was apparently done from the NSA’s Medina Regional SIGINT Operations Center (MRSOC), Lackland Air Force Base Annex, San Antonio, TX (formerly Medina Regional SIGINT Operations Center):