October 23, 2014 - The Constantine Report    
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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading

Four Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in 2007 Iraq Shootings of 31 Unarmed Civilians

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By Spencer S. Hsu, Victoria St. Martin and Keith L. Alexander

Washington Post, October 22, 2014

A federal jury in Washington convicted four Blackwater Worldwide guards Wednesday in the fatal shooting of 14 unarmed Iraqis, seven years after the American security contractors fired machine guns and grenades into a Baghdad traffic circle in one of the most ignominious chapters of the Iraq war.

The guilty verdicts on murder, manslaughter and gun charges marked a sweeping victory for prosecutors, who argued in an 11-week trial that the defendants fired recklessly and out of control in a botched security operation after one of them falsely claimed to believe the driver of an approaching vehicle was a car bomber. Jurors rejected the guards’ claims that they were acting in self-defense and were the target of incoming AK-47 gunfire. Overall, defendants were charged with the deaths of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others at Baghdad’s Nisour Square shortly after noon Sept. 16, 2007. None of the victims was an insurgent.

“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District, whose office prosecuted the case. “I pray that this verdict will bring some sense of comfort to the survivors of that massacre.”

Defense attorneys appeared stunned and said they would appeal. David Schertler, an attorney for defendant Dustin Heard, called the result “incomprehensible.”

“The verdict is wrong,” Schertler said. “We’re devastated. We’re going to fight this every step of the way.”

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated 28 days before convicting Nicholas A. Slatten, 30, of Sparta, Tenn., of murder. Also convicted were Paul A. Slough, 35, of Keller, Tex., of 13 counts of manslaughter and 17 counts of attempted manslaughter; Evan S. Liberty, 32, of Rochester, N.H., of eight counts of manslaughter and 12 counts of attempted manslaughter; and Heard, 33, of Knoxville, Tenn., of six counts of manslaughter and 11 counts of attempted manslaughter.

Jurors also convicted Slough, Liberty and Heard of using military firearms while committing a felony. Prosecutors dropped three counts against Heard after jurors deadlocked on them. Slatten faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for murder. The others — who, like Slatten, are military veterans — face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered the men held pending sentencing. Jurors declined to comment.

carbombThe outcome capped a difficult, years-long quest by prosecutors to bring the case to trial and a milestone in the government’s efforts to monitor security contractors’ conduct on the battlefield. The contractor shootings and the U.S. government’s refusal to allow the men to be tried in Iraq sent relations between the two countries into a crisis, and the Blackwater name became shorthand for unaccountable U.S. power.

The security firm’s founder, Erik Prince, eventually left the company, which was renamed Xe Services, then later sold and renamed Academi.

“We at ACADEMI are relieved that the justice system has completed its investigation” into the tragedy and that any wrongdoing “has been addressed by our courts,” company spokeswoman Callie Wang said in a statement.

In Congress, lawmakers denounced the Blackwater shootings as recently as this summer, but legislation that would provide clearer jurisdiction to prosecute criminal wrongdoing overseas by private contractors has languished for years. The author of the proposed change, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), applauded the verdict Wednesday, but added, “It should not have taken this long for justice to be served. . . . Ensuring that our government has the ability to hold government contractors accountable should be a bipartisan issue, and I hope senators of both parties will work together to pass this important reform.”

Prosecutors called 71 witnesses to four for the defense. The witnesses included victims, surviving relatives and nine fellow Blackwater guards. The 30 Iraqis who testified represented the largest number of foreign witnesses to travel to the United States for a criminal trial, prosecutors said.

At the time of the incident, the defendants were among 19 Blackwater guards providing security for State Department officials in Iraq. Their convoy, called Raven 23, was clearing a path back to the nearby Green Zone for another Blackwater team evacuating a U.S. official from a nearby car bombing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion told jurors that Slatten “lit the match that ignited the firestorm,” firing his sniper rifle at the driver of a stopped white Kia sedan, killing him. Slough, the convoy command vehicle’s turret gunner, joined in as other Raven 23 members fired into stopped traffic and then turned more firepower onto a panicked, fleeing crowd, prosecutors said.

The only damage caused to the convoy’s command vehicle came from shrapnel by an American grenade fired at short range, the government said. To buttress their case, prosecutors contended that Slatten and Liberty held hostile views about Iraqi civilians and that Slough on occasion fired weapons at Iraqi targets without provocation.

Blackwater_Security_Company_MD-530F_helicopter_in_Baghdad,_2004The defendants’ attorneys said their clients acted reasonably at a time when the Iraqi capital was the scene of “horrific threats” from car bombs, am­bushes and follow-on attacks, sometimes aided by Iraqi security forces­­ infiltrated by guerrillas.

At trial, under cross-examination, some former Blackwater employees differed over whether Slatten or others fired the first shots, and some agreed that they heard incoming AK-47 fire.

Charges in the shooting were first brought against six Blackwater employees in 2008, one of whom, Jeremy Ridgeway, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and testified for the government in the current trial. Charges against another man, Donald Ball, were dropped. A federal judge, however, threw out the other indictments in 2009, saying that prosecutors improperly relied on statements that the guards gave the State Department immediately after the shooting, believing that they would not be used in court. An appeals court reversed that ruling in 2011, enabling prosecutors to obtain fresh indictments.

The remaining four defendants claimed the violence was triggered by Ridgeway, who a prosecutor conceded suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and “lost it” in Iraq, and by the convoy’s team leader, Jimmy Watson.

Watson and two other members of the Blackwater team were granted limited immunity by the government to testify against their former colleagues.

Wednesday’s verdict by a civilian jury against the contractors marked a striking departure from how the military justice system dealt with U.S. service members accused of killing 25 unarmed Iraqi in a 2005 raid on their home in Anbar province.

Eight U.S. Marines were initially charged in the Haditha incident, but one was acquitted and six others had charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to assault against them dropped. Ultimately, only one, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, was convicted of negligent dereliction of duty in connection with the incident, receiving a reduction in rank and no jail time.

Julie Tate and Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

Kill the Messenger, a movie starring Jeremy Renner, just opened, about the life and death of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Gary Webb, who committed suicide in 2004. Webb came late to the Iran/Contra scandal, long after most of the mainstream media had moved on. In 1996, he wrote a three-part series for the San Jose Mercury News, “Dark Alliance,” that exposed the distribution network, which included the Nicaraguan Contras, responsible for supplying the cocaine that helped kick off South Central Los Angeles’s crack epidemic.

The allegations were not new. Earlier, in the 1980s, Robert Parry and Brian Barger reportedon the story for AP, which was picked up by then freshman Senator John Kerry, who in 1988released an extensively documented committee report showing the ways the Contras, backed by Ronald Reagan’s White House, were turning Central America into a transshipment point for Colombian cocaine, using the drug revenue to fund their war on the Sandinistas. Webb’s report specifically looked at what happened to cocaine once it entered the United States.

Rather than follow up on Webb’s findings—and on Kerry’s and Parry’s earlier investigation—The New York TimesThe Washington Post and, especially, the Los Angeles Times went after Webb, destroying his reputation and driving him out of the profession and into a suicidal depression.

I haven’t seen Kill the Messenger yet, but there’s no doubt that it sides with Webb. That seems to have unsettled David Carr, the media critic for The New York Times. Last week, in an anguished, deeply ambivalent assessment of Webb’s legacy, Carr admitted that the thrust of what Webb wrote about “really happened,” making passing reference to Kerry’s “little-noticed 1988 Senate subcommittee report.” Carr tentatively suggests that perhaps journalists should have better spent their energy reporting the larger story, rather than relentlessly fact-checking Webb. At the same time, though, he presented the campaign that ultimately drove Webb to his death as a “he-said-she-said-who-can-ultimately-say?” matter of interpretation, given ample space to Webb’s tormentors, like Tim Golden, who wielded the hatchet for The New York Times, and the odious Jerry Ceppos, the executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News who, faced with unrelenting pressure from the big boys in NY, LA and Washington, betrayed Webb.

Such is the state of media criticism that Carr could make notice of Kerry’s “little-noticed” Senate report without pointing out the obvious: it was “little-noticed” because newspapers, like his, little noticed it. Alexander Cockburn, Carr isn’t. Maybe he was trying for understated irony. As many of Webb’s defenders have noted, if journalists had put half the passion into following up the implications of that report that they put to discrediting Webb, we’d know a lot more about the darkest side of America’s national security state. Peter Kornbluh: “If the major media had devoted the same energy and ink to investigating the contra drug scandal in the 1980s as they did attacking the Mercury News in 1996, Gary Webb might never have had his scoop.”

Carr’s worst offense against Webb—other than not mentioning that Webb had won a Pulitzer Prize, for his work with a team of reporters investigation the 1989 San Francisco earthquake—is that he blames Webb himself for his downfall: “Mr. Webb was open to attack in part because of the lurid presentation of the story and his willingness to draw causality based on very thin sourcing and evidence. He wrote past what he knew.”

No. Webb was open to attack because the Los Angeles Times alone assigned seventeen reporters to leverage the inherent mysteries of the national security state to cast doubt on Webb. As Nick Schou, author of the book, Kill the Messenger, on which the movie is based,writes, “Much of the [Los AngelesTimes’ attack was clever misdirection, but it ruined Webb’s reputation: In particular, the L.A. Times attacked a claim that Webb never made: that the CIA had intentionally addicted African-Americans to crack.”

Webb won’t be vindicated by the movie Kill the Messenger because he has already been vindicated by serious nonfiction reporters, like Schou and others. And by history itself. Webb was documenting one aspect of the blowback that we all have been living with from Iran/Contra, which is really just shorthand for Reagan’s broader set of Central American policies. Central America was the place the national security state got its groove back after Vietnam, and the repercussions are ongoing: among them, the rise of Salvadoran and Honduran transnational gangs, the drug war, which has turned the Colombian-Central American-Mexican corridor into a war zone, the 2009 Honduran coup, and this summer’s exodus of Central American child refugees.

Did Webb write “past what he knew”? Of course he did. He was writing about the covert activities of the rogue National Security Council and CIA and their shadowy relations with drug runners! As John Kerry complained in 1998, after being allowed to read a classified CIA investigation, launched as a result of Webb’s reporting: “Some of us in Congress at the time, in 1985, 1986, were calling for a serious investigation of the charges, and C.I.A. officials did not join in that effort…. There was a significant amount of stonewalling. I’m afraid that what I read in the report documents the degree to which there was a lack of interest in making sure the laws were being upheld.” “Scant proof,” sniffed Golden, in his New York Times take-down of Webb.

Webb provides a fascinating account of his “hours-long conversations with editors that bordered on the surreal” in an essay titled “The Mighty Wurlitzer Plays On,” in which they relentlessly presented him with unprovable hypotheticals: “’How do we know for sure that these drug dealers were the first big ring to start selling crack in South Central?’ editor Jonathan Krim pressed me during one such confab…. ‘Isn’t it possible there might have been someone else and they never got caught and no one ever knew about them? In that case, your story would be wrong.’ I had to take a deep breath to keep from shouting. ‘If you’re asking me whether I accounted for people who might never have existed, the answer is no,’ I said.”

Schou writes that because “Webb shot himself in the head twice—the first bullet simply went through his cheek—many falsely believe the CIA killed him.” Webb was apparently depressed that he couldn’t get a job that paid enough to let him keep his house.

But staring too long into the abyss that is Iran/Contra is bad for one’s mental health. The artist Mark Lombardi drew constellation-like renderings of the paramilitary and para-financial scandals, scandals that have increased in frequency with the spread of neoliberalism. These include Iran/Contra, BCCI and Harken Energy, Savings and Loan, many of them involving the Bush family. Lombardi too killed himself, in 2000.

It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole, or into a James Ellroy novel, trying to draw the connections. Iran/Contra is like the Da Vinci Code of the national security state, and reading any one paragraph of the Kerry Committee Report can send minds reeling:

In a June 26, 1987 closed session of the Subcommittee, Milian Rodriguez testified that in a meeting arranged by Miami private detective Raoul Diaz with Felix Rodriguez, he (Milian) offered to provide drug money to the Contras. Milian Rodriguez stated that Felix accepted the offer and $10 million in such assistance was subsequently provided the Contras through a system of secret couriers.

Félix Rodríguez is, of course, the Cuban exile CIA agent who hunted down Che Guevara in Bolivia. The relationship of narcotics and covert ops goes back at least to the Opium Wars of the nineteenth century, but a key moment in the Cold War history of that relationship took place with the 1959 Cuban Revolution, which broadcast the Cuban drug mafia throughout all of the Americas, allying their interests with anti-Castro counterrevolutionaries and CIA spooks. That alliance mutated and metastasized, infecting different places at different times, including Colombia, Bolivia, Panama, Honduras and South Central Los Angeles.

Inevitably, the reporting of Webb and the art of Lombardi raise the specter of conspiracy. But conspiracy theorists, in their worst, most compulsive form, are obsessed with proving the detail, establishing the single link, after which everything will make sense. Webb and Lombardi, in contrast, stepped back to see the bigger picture and consider the moral meaning of the connections they were making.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/181940/new-york-times-wants-gary-webb-stay-dead#

Further Reading:

Martin Hartmann, a former Mesa resident, was one of at least 38 suspected Nazi war criminals who collected Social Security benefits in exchange for voluntarily leaving the country, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Hartmann’s deal, and others like it, helped the U.S. Justice Department avoid lengthy deportation hearings and increased the number of Nazis ejected from the country, according to the AP.

The payments, said to be in the millions of dollars, became bargaining chips on behalf of the Justice Department’s Nazi-investigation unit known as the Office of Special Investigations, according to the news agency. If the Nazi suspects agreed to leave, they could continue to get Social Security benefits, the AP said.

Before giving up his U.S. citizenship in 2007, Hartmann lived with his wife, Ellen, in the Leisure World retirement community in Mesa.

Hartmann concealed his Nazi involvement upon arrival in America in 1955. He worked as a typesetter and a printer before learning how to use computers, according to Ellen Hartmann and Justice Department officials.

The couple bought their home in Mesa in 1987 and later decided to live there permanently.

Martin Hartmann, who lived in Mesa, reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 to return to Germany when it was found out he was a Nazi SS guard in World War II. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)
Martin Hartmann, who lived in Mesa, reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 to return to Germany when it was found out he was a Nazi SS guard in World War II.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

Hartmann never let on about his time as a Nazi SS guard, except for an old picture of himself in an SS uniform hanging on a wall in his home.

But that was enough. Nathan Gasch, a neighbor, told The Arizona Republic in 2007 that he recognized the uniform in the picture because he had been a prisoner at the same camp in 1944.

Gasch said he never mentioned it to Hartmann and continued to exchange pleasantries with him.

Hartmann, now 95, is one of four living beneficiaries who collected benefits after leaving the U.S. for Berlin.

The Social Security Administration refused the AP’s request for information about who received benefits and how much they were paid.

Republic reporter JJ Hensley contributed to this article.