What will it take for DEA head Michele Leonhart to get shitcanned? Her agents killing innocent civilians in Honduras? Nope. Allowing Mexican drug cartels to smuggle drugs into the US? Negative. Laundering Mexican cartel drug proceeds through US banks? Huh uh. Raiding legal medical marijuana dispensaries in California? No dice.
The Bush appointee, inexplicably retained by Obama, has had a disastrous run as head of a disgraced agency entrusted to run the stupidest war (on drugs) in current US history. Even with that record, a recent story out of Texas is a new low for her and the DEA.
DEA enlisted Lawrence Chapa as a drug informant after he was busted for possession, a common tactic for the narcoknuckleheads. Chapa was subsequently hired by a small Houston trucking company as a driver. About five weeks after Chapa was hired, the company's owner received a phone call informing him that one of his trucks had been involved in a homicide, that his driver was dead and that marijuana had been found inside his truck.
The truck was supposed to be in the garage for repairs. Instead, DEA instructed Chapa to
borrow steal the truck, which was then filled with pot and enlisted in drug sting operations.
On one such drug run, while police and DEA looked on, four gunmen (we are told they were Los Zetas members) ambushed Chapa and shot him to death. In the ensuing Keystone Kops melee, a Houston cop shot a county sheriff's deputy in the leg.
The truck's owner was never informed about his driver's activities, nor the use of his truck for a drug run. Further, DEA won't pony up to repair the damage from the shootout. How incompetent do you have to be to get fired in Washington DC?
But there are other issues here. First, there are the blatant falsehoods being spread by police, DEA and other associated law enforcement to cover their embarrassment after the incident, and the media's credulity over what was surely a weird situation.
In light of more recent revelations, note the parsing (no mention of friendly fire shooting or that officers were watching when it happened), DEA macho posturing "We are not going to tolerate these types of thugs out there using their weapons like the Wild, Wild West" and lack of detail in the story.
One wonders why questions weren't asked: Four Zetas travel deep into Texas to murder a truck driver over a small load of pot? And just so happens over a dozen police were eating donuts on the exact same remote road where the murders took place?
Note also that Chapa, under DEA direction and using the same stolen truck, made numerous drug runs to the US-Mexico border. The Zetas gunmen (if they were Zetas at all) would have had no reason to attempt a hit on US soil if not for DEA's manufactured drug pipeline, which the Zetas saw as unwelcome rivals. DEA got their man killed. It's unclear just what benefit they got from their scheme, but surely a dead snitch is the worst publicity ever for an agency dependent on them.
This story uses the incident, which was manufactured by DEA, to highlight the issue of border security. Outcries over Mexican gunmen entering the US to kill Americans is red meat for conservatives who would like to wall-off the entire US-Mexico border.
As for police and DEA manipulating media with bogus information, check this story, where the dead truck driver, Lawrence Chapa, DEA's murdered snitch, becomes one of the Zeta hitmen, and a Mexican narco-trafficker to boot.
Under what authority does DEA steal private property for use in illegal activities, thereby putting the property owners at financial and legal risk and possibly endangering their lives? This is your war on drugs, akin to shooting oneself in the foot with an RPG at a dance contest.
Despite common sense, the movie Gasland, polluted water tables, regional earthquakes and other geological and environmental damages inflicted by hydraulic fracturing, academics are writing reports that give the old wink and nod to gas company practices while pocketing cash and stock from those same gas companies.
The University of Texas Austin produced a report saying fracking doesn't pollute underground aquifers, period, end of discussion. The head of the report commission, UT professor Charles Groat, is an industry shill, having been granted over a million dollars in gas company stock and a yearly stipend of nearly $60000, a small matter he failed to mention to UT administrators. He also failed to mention he's on the board of Plains Exploration & Production Company, an oil and gas company.
In Ohio, a geology professor had some conflicts of interest pointed out to him while he awshucksed and claimed he was ignorant of any ethical lapses
As if Penn State's reputation weren't bad enough, it produced a report by bought and paid for geologist Timothy Considine that has been criticized for misrepresentation of facts and non-disclosure of the study's source of funding, namely the shale gas industry. Penn State subsequently retracted the report because it contained numerous 'flaws.'
Imagine this: during a drug raid in any of the gritty urban drug centers, say one in Washington DC, cops shoot and kill a suspect. Now say the shooter-cop wasn't local, or even a federal law enforcement official, wasn't even a US citizen, but a Honduran drug officer working America's mean streets. Why is he here? Because Honduras has a drug problem, a problem exacerbated, say the Hondurans, by US inability to keep drugs from its shores. That's why he's here.
Well, this twisted scenario in reverse is exactly what the US DEA is doing in Honduras, where they've now been involved in two fatal shootings of Honduran citizens. And it's not just Honduras, the newly militarized DEA has been setting up operations in several Latin and South American countries.
And now DEA is charging into Africa, "a significant expansion of the war on drugs." William Wechsler, DoD's top anti-drug official, provided some inadvertent prophecy when he spelled out how this expansion of US militarization will go, "West Africa is now facing a situation analogous to the Caribbean in the 1980s, where small, developing, vulnerable countries along major drug-trafficking routes toward rich consumers are vastly under-resourced to deal with the wave of dirty money coming their way."
It's well known among US intelligence and drug agents that in the 1980s the Caribbean was a CIA-transit point for drugs, money and guns, which trades they facilitated to arm the Contras. Spend any time in Jamaica and you will hear talk of CIA election tampering, assassinations and violence instigated against what the agency considered an uncooperative Jamaican government in the 1970s, and the flood of drugs that ravaged Jamaica in the 1980s, which legacy the island still struggles with.
This is what is happening in Africa right now, history is being dusted off, US policy is being retooled for another continent long on resources and short on bulwarks against imperial grabassing. In Mali, the US, at least, facilitated a coup; Ethiopia is in Uncle Sams pocket; Kenya is about to get US drones and all the shit that goes with it (US 'trainers,' maintenance personnel, security, etc etc etc); US special forces are on the ground in Nigeria; Sudan, Somalia, Libya - all this and more is part of the US shadow war in Africa.
The war on drugs has long been a front for the US foreign policy obsession du jour. In Latin and South America it's the US counterweight to China's stealthy but irrevocable advance into the hemisphere. In Africa it's resources. Just as in the 1980s in Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, et al, a buyin to the US war on drugs comes with a steep cost.
Here is your war on drugs, costing billions in taxpayer money each year.
The last of the true lefties, Alexander Cockburn, has died, aged 71, of cancer. Now there's a huge Cockburn sized hole in the truth about what's happening to the world. He was a source of inspiration to us here at FOG, a fearless partisan for 'telling the facts and naming the names.' Slainte Mr. Cockburn, and thank you.
This is how it begins. Scientists at a NJ lab have created genetically engineered babies, thirty of them, containing DNA from two maternal donors. Utter disbelief.
An Iowa MILF has shown herself to have a knocking set of brass balls. Randi Shannon has out-Occupied all the Occupy movements combined - she's Occupied the Constitution! Yes, it's about damned time, too. Iowa business owner, Christian and mother of four Shannon has given up her citizenship in the false country, the United States of America, which she states is really a Corporation. It's a little complicated so go here, here and here and work it out for yourself. She's a member of the Republic of the United States, the real civil entity promised us in the Constitution. The President of the Republic has just appointed her Senator for Iowa (apparently in the Republic there's no voting. We like that.).
Yes there is a president of the Republic of the United States too, but we don't like him, we like Randi Shannon. So inspired by her example and honoring the sudden, startling feeling that we might just be growing a pair of our own, finally after all these years, we here at FOG, as a real person, well, an aggregate, a composite of the best in all of us here in the Republic, we hereby declare ourself THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES!
We are asking Anonymous and LulzSec, for the good of the Republic (we'll discuss your... honorarium later, Ministry of Plenty perhaps?), to hack the living shit out of the presidential pretender (he who shall not be named) while we settle into our new position. You're our Senator now Randi. We'll contact you soon darling. God bless the Republic of the United States of America. (We're democrats [small d] so we're opening this up to
our subjects all citizens - do we need a new flag? The old one is so... corporate America).
Long time Fistful of Gold readers have come to expect searing analysis, lyrical, Homeric prose, a vivid and perspicacious sense of the ironies of history, healthy skepticism, and ethical standards that would make a nun blush. We also value truth, so we are coming clean - we outsource. Let's face it, human beings are messy creatures, with wants, needs, dental appointments, diarrhea, hangovers, sorrow, fatigue, tetchy spouses. They are unreliable, they make mistakes, they are deeply flawed, annoyingly human.
The truth is Fistful of Gold has long been in the vanguard, we have been, and still are, on the cutting edge of journalism. We don't like to talk about it, but our eggheads developed a revolutionary algorithm that allows us to opt out of the human flawtrap. We feed in data and our algorithm excretes news, well written, accurate, timely, inexpensive to produce, news. We call our mathematical model 'How.' As a relatively young computer program, I'm not developed enough to explain the sophisticated double layer of humor involved in that name, but it has something to do with Hermagoras of Temnos, and a movie called 2001. Perhaps you can query my cousin 'The Google' and he can provide the answer you seek.
This leaves our fearless managing editor plenty of time to develop his drinking habit, and indulge in certain predilections we don't understand and that are borderline illegal. Face it, we are the future of journalism, no coffee break necessary.
Two bylines on this story about Waste Management refuse technicians (garbagemen, no offense) receiving counter-terror training ahead of the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa. What did employees learn? They learned that Waste Management itself could be a target. Perhaps because anarchists believe garbage haulers are tools of the surveillance state? They were instructed to watch for strange men taking photographs of their trucks, and "anyone taking an undue interest in our bins." There was a multiple choice test afterwards, and those who passed got a certificate and ball cap.
We've been following events in TN, which has one of the largest fusion centers in the country and who's law enforcement community is loveydovey with DHS and TSA. NewsChannel 5 did some darn good reporting on a story from May of this year that had us shaking our heads in disbelief (the interview with the police officer is a must see) and prompted FOG to issue travelers an alert to avoid TN highways.
A recent NewsChannel 5 story, brought to you by Phil Williams the same reporter as the one cited above, shows that fearless journalism is still being practiced in this country, you just have to look very hard to find it. Williams discovered a local police chief had used money from the 'Policing for Profit' fund to deliver a city owned bulldozer to his private property located in a secluded area. Williams went looking for answers, to the chief's work, his home and his remote property. When he finally got the chief on the phone he was detained by local law enforcement, who were attempting to intimidate him, but he calmly informed them that they were out of their jurisdiction and demanded they let him go.
Eventually, Williams got an explanation of sorts, contradictory, nonsensical, and very suspicious but an explanation, from the town mayor who said the bulldozer was his doing. Read it for yourself, and witness Williams holding hinky public officials ass to the fire in the face of their patently ludicrous explanations.
Here's to you Phil Williams, a Fistful of Gold 'Fistie' for a job well done.
In 2011, US taxpayers paid $11 billion dollars to keep themselves in the dark about what their government is doing in their name. 92 million documents were classified last year by federal agencies. That of course doesn't include the cost of sealed lips at CIA, NSA or any other intelligence agency. To learn that number they'd have to kill you afterwards, preferably with a drone so they could keep that secret too.
Heartwarming Horatio Alger immigrant story involving a drug kingpin's main enforcer and hitman who, through hard work, pluck and verve, pulls himself up by his shoulder holster straps to land in the top ranks of the CIA. After running the Agency's counterterror assassination squad, he really hit the jackpot as a VP of Blackwater. He is close friends with Cofer Black, one of about a dozen people who bear main responsibility for September 11, 2001 (whatever you believe happened, Black was up to his neck in it).
For over ten years Merck has been lying about the efficacy of its mumps vaccine. It fabricated data, juiced the vaccine itself and then Merck executives ordered a cover-up of the affair. Two whistleblowers eventually stepped forward. This is where things get really interesting.
FDA gave Merck a monopoly on the vaccine, and the US government itself was by far its largest customer. When two whistleblowers stepped forward in 2010 with a suit against Merck, their former employer, FDA did exactly nothing. No legal action, no investigation, no accountability - it simply subscribed to business as usual.
Through the actions of the corrupt and feckless FDA, US taxpayers got screwed twice. For over a decade Merck sold the government an ineffective vaccine and mumps remained viable, much to the surprise of the CDC which claimed it should have been eradicated by now.
HHS, parent agency of FDA, is thoroughly beholden to the vaccine industry (see our stories on other vaccine fiascos here and here), rife with corruption, failed oversight and regulators who protect the very industry they are charged to oversee.
With history as a guide, there is a strong possibility that HHS and FDA will indemnify Merck, nullifying any legal action against a government contractor.
Why does CNN suck at least as much as Fox News only in a different way? They hire 'journalists' like LZ Granderson, who wrote one of the most unintentionally hilarious pieces we've read this year. His thesis? Journalists shouldn't be so nosy, gathering all those pesky facts and quotes and shit like that. It just makes things so messy for our
massas elected officials. Like Iran-Contra, like Fast and Furious. A must read.
And who can forget the colossal clusterfuck over the recent SCOTUS health care ruling. Both CNN and Fox News (brothers of different mothers) got it exactly wrong in their initial reporting. It's no accident, and CNN suits are predictably blase about their fuckup. A news organization that gets the news exactly wrong - no big deal.
FOG has repeatedly assailed NPR's dismal national security coverage, particularly Tom Gjelten and Dina Temple-Raston. A recent story provides (further) confirmation.
Gjelten quotes cybersecurity expert (debatable) Jeffrey Carr that Flame is an espionage tool, not a cyber war weapon. Carr also casts doubt on famed cyber researcher Eugene Kaspersky, who discovered Flame, claiming he has a hidden agenda because he is Russian.
This is the same Jeffrey Carr who told anyone that would listen that Stuxnet was a Chinese product. He also hawked his expertise attempting to debunk early claims of US-Israel authorship of Stuxnet. Now that the Obama administration has copped to developing, deploying and subsequently losing control of Stuxnet, perhaps Gjelten will choose his experts more carefully.
DEA continues it's long downhill slide. DEA head Michelle Leonhart, asserting her detailed knowledge of Mexican drug cartels, once stated, "The unfortunate level of violence [in Mexico] is a sign of success in the fight against drugs."
May 2012, DEA, riding shotgun on a Honduran drug raid following a punk tipoff, participated in the killing of innocent civilians - the tally, four dead and a bunch wounded, including two pregnant women and two children. Honduran media claimed the victims were innocent civilians.
And now, a recent court decision regarding a busted DEA drug raid spelled out what should be good common sense - pointing loaded assault weapons at children is not good.
The US is still at war? Wonder why people aren't protesting in the streets, get us the hell out of Afghanistan? Because the US public doesn't know what's actually happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Philippines, Syria, Libya, Honduras, Pakistan and other countries where the US is dropping bombs and killing people.
WAPO is reporting, not a retraction mind you, on a recent attack in Afghanistan. Post-attack, US media quickly did due diligence by faithfully transcribing the exact words of military and administration officials. Who lied - about the number of US casualties, and about the severity and relative success of the attack on a US installation. That didn't stop DoD head Panetta from using it to condemn Pakistan.
A masked man entered a bank in Aurora, CO brandishing two guns. Police were called and for reasons not yet known, they blockaded 25 cars at a specific intersection. They proceeded to pull-out, handcuff and detain each car's owner and any passengers, including children, for two hours while they searched for the lone bank robber. The police chief said that "the ends justify the means," meaning, one assumes, that catching the robber justifies handcuffing innocent bystanders.
This story is disturbing on many levels. Is law enforcement now proceeding on an ends-justifies-means basis? The constitutionally violative police actions aside, the media coverage of the incident is dismal, but not surprising. The first report mentions that police used "tracking technology" to locate the suspect. The Aurora police chief stated that it was a virtual certainty that he was among the 40 or so people detained. Watch the video carefully. At about the 1:15 mark, a man in an FBI windbreaker brandishes a box with an antenna on it, pointing it this way and that, searching for something. Obviously, the stolen money had an RFID tracker attached. This raises even more questions. Is money being chipped, like US passports? Was the chip slipped in by a teller?
The local news media seem to have no idea how to cover this story (here and here). And gauge the response of several of the people illegally detained by the police. One woman laughed about it during an interview with a reporter. None of those interviewed seemed upset, and news reports to date say that Aurora police have received no complaints. Proceed to the exit in an orderly fashion.