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Monday, August 24, 2009

Biologists napping while work militarized

by Malcolm Dando
Aug. 20, 2009

As researchers discover more agents that alter mental states, the Chemical Weapons Convention needs modification to help ensure that the life sciences are not used for hostile purposes, says Malcolm Dando.

In October 2002, Chechen rebel fighters held more than 750 people hostage at a Nord-Ost production in a theatre in Moscow. The siege was broken only after special military forces used what the Russian Health Minister, Yuri Shevchenko, later described as a mixture of substances derived from fentanyl — an opiate developed in the 1950s as an anaesthetic. Widespread relief that many of the hostages were saved was tempered by 124 of them being killed by the gas.

Chemicals with effects like those of fentanyl are often known as 'incapacitating agents'. These substances affect biochemical processes and physiological systems to produce a disabling condition such as unconsciousness, and in higher concentrations can cause death. With effects that last from hours to days, they are distinct from standard riot-control agents such as CS gas, which cause sensory irritation that disappears shortly after termination of exposure.

That Russian special military forces resorted to using fentanyl in Moscow is a possible harbinger of the wider militarization of advances in the biological sciences.

Designer weapons

Attempts to exploit benignly intended research for hostile purposes are not new. After the Second World War, the international medical community began to discover compounds that alleviated symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression and mood swings. These findings weren't accompanied by a good understanding of how the drugs worked. Nevertheless, they prompted nations to ramp up their efforts to find chemicals suited to military use. In fact, in 1959, the chairman of the UK government's secret Chemistry Committee of the Advisory Council on Scientific Research and Technical Development told his colleagues that the committee was "looking for agents which would produce, not cure, psychoses"1.

Between the early 1950s and 1970s, researchers working in laboratories that eventually became the US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense studied chemical agents that affect the central nervous system. Indeed in 1961, the US military weaponized BZ — a drug that had originally been studied as a possible therapy for gastrointestinal diseases. BZ is one of a group of chemicals that act on the brain and can cause delirium; people exposed to it may fall into a stupor, struggle to speak, show poor coordination and have difficulty processing thoughts.

Despite the long-standing interest the defence industry has shown in drugs that alter people's physiological and mental states, a lack of knowledge has hampered attempts to use them. For example, by 1966, the US military had stockpiled munitions capable of delivering BZ, but its mode and site of action were poorly understood, and its effects varied widely from person to person. This and other problems led to its abandonment. The United States destroyed its stocks by 1990, several years before the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force in 1997.

Current biochemical threats range from lethal chemical agents to traditional and genetically modified biological agents. In general, biological agents such as anthrax cause governments the most concern. Only a few pathogens are suitable for military use, however. For example, smallpox could prove useful as a weapon because it is highly contagious; anthrax because it has a life cycle that involves the production of long-lived spores. The limited range of possibilities means that there is a good chance of developing countermeasures such as vaccines or antibiotics against these agents. Even if efforts are made to modify them — for example by introducing genes that encode antibiotic resistance — the problem of designing countermeasures is potentially surmountable because the range of effective manipulations that can be made is also limited.

But recent scientific and technological advances could transform the biochemical-threat landscape. Indeed, in 2003, military analysts from the Counterproliferation and Technology Office of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington DC predicted that emerging biotechnologies were likely to lead to a "paradigm shift" in the development of biological warfare agents2. They warned that it would soon become possible to engineer agents to target specific human biological systems at the molecular level.

This idea of identifying crucial biochemical pathways, and then designing compounds to disrupt them is a leap from the traditional model of biological-agent development. It expands the options: there are likely to be thousands of potential molecular targets and numerous ways of disrupting each one.

Frontiers of concern

Concerns about this kind of expansion of biochemical threats have since been reiterated by scientific and medical communities. For example, in 2006, the US National Academies produced a report called Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences. The authors argued that recent advances in our understanding of how bioregulatory compounds work, of signalling processes and of the regulation of human gene expression — combined with developments in chemistry, synthetic biology and in technologies such as nanotechnology — have "opened up new and exceedingly challenging frontiers of concern".

More recently, a 2008 US National Academies report entitled Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies, similarly argued that in cases in which 'agonists' of a particular system have been found to enhance some cognitive trait, an 'antagonist' might be developed that could reduce it and vice versa. If dopamine agonists enhance attention, say, so dopamine antagonists might disrupt it. They also warned, among other things, that nanotechnologies could overcome the blood–brain barrier and "exploit existing transport mechanisms to transmit substances into the brain in analogy with the Trojan horse".

Some researchers are actively facilitating the development of new chemical weapons. For example, a research group from Pennsylvania State University in University Park has identified several drug classes as potential non-lethal agents or 'calmatives'3, including benzodiazepines and 2-adrenoreceptor agonists, as well as individual drugs such as diazepam and dexmedetomidine.

Some researchers are actively facilitating the development of new chemical weapons.
Similarly, at the 4th European Symposium on Non-Lethal Weapons in 2007, researchers from the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Charles University in Prague described the effects on macaque monkeys of combinations of drugs that produce a rapid loss of aggressive behaviour4. They argued that the drugs could be "used to pacify aggressive people during ... terrorist attacks". The same researchers have also investigated methods of aerosol delivery to human volunteers.

Those who support the development of incapacitating agents often argue that using them in conflict situations stops people being killed. Historical evidence suggests otherwise. At the Nord-Ost siege, for instance, terrorists exposed to the fentanyl mixture were shot dead rather than arrested. Likewise, in Vietnam, the US military used vast quantities of CS gas — a 'non-lethal' riot-control agent — to increase the effectiveness of conventional weapons by flushing the Viet Cong out of their hiding places.

Blind to misuse

The lack of engagement with this issue among life scientists in general is alarming. Some companies are already marketing oxytocin on the back of studies showing that a nasal squirt of the hormone increases trust in humans. Even though the effectiveness of commercial sprays is doubtful, such research opens up the possibility of a drug that could be used to manipulate people's emotions in a military context. Discussions with more than 2,000 practising life scientists in 13 countries over the past few years have taught me that few have considered such possible uses of their work.

There are problems with both the international conventions that protect us from the potential misuse of biological and chemicals research — the CWC and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, for instance, lacks an effective verification mechanism to ensure that nations are fulfilling their obligations.

Some have called for the CWC agreement to be amended to allow the use of novel incapacitating agents5. In the past 20 years, modern warfare has changed from predominantly large-scale clashes of armies to messy civil strife: think of Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The chemical agents described here are particularly suited to this style of warfare; it's not hard to find people in the military world who think they would be useful5.

The CWC urgently needs modifying if it is to continue to help ensure that the modern life sciences are not used for hostile purposes. Most pressingly, the compatibility of the Convention with the development of non-lethal chemical agents for law enforcement needs careful scrutiny.

Article II.9(d) states that "Law enforcement including domestic riot control" is exempt from the prohibition of the use of chemical agents. 'Law enforcement' could be taken by some to cover more than domestic riot control — which, in certain circumstances, would make it legal for the military to use agents such as fentanyl.

In my opinion, all use of novel non-lethal agents such as fentanyl for law enforcement should be prohibited, or at least heavily restricted. If, instead, we sit on our hands we must accept that new incapacitating agents are just the beginning. We will be, as the British Medical Association concluded in its 2007 study, The Use of Drugs as Weapons, "knowingly moving towards the top of a 'slippery slope' at the bottom of which is the spectre of 'militarization' of biology" including "intentional manipulation of peoples' emotions, memories, immune responses or even fertility".

See Editorial:
A question of control


Chemical Committee, Minutes of the 32nd Meeting, 5 March, 1959 (PRO/WO195/14637, 1959).
Petro, J. B., Plasse, T. R. & McNulty, J. A. Biosecur. Bioterror.

1, 161–168 (2003). Lakoski, J. M., Bosseau Murray, W. & Kenny, J. M. The Advantages and Limitations of Calmatives for Use as a Non-Lethal Technique (Penn. State Univ., 2000).

Hess, L., Schreiberová, J., Málek, J., Votava, M. & Fusek, J. Drug-Induced Loss of Aggressiveness in the Macaque Rhesus. Proc. of the 4th European Symposium on Non-Lethal Weapons on Non-Lethal Weapons Ettlingen, Germany, 21–23 May (2007).

Whitbred, G .N. T. Offensive Use of Chemical Technologies by US Special Operations Forces in the Global War on Terrorism: The Nonlethal Option. Maxwell Paper No. 37 (Air Univ. Press, 2006).

Malcolm Dando is principal investigator for the Wellcome Trust project on Building a Sustainable Capacity in Dual-Use Bioethics, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Richmond Road, Bradford, BD7 IDP, UK.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Common Sense 2009

Larry Flint
Huffington Post
August 20, 2009

The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate.

It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.

This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars.

So arrogant, so smug were they that, without a moment's hesitation, they took our money -- yours and mine -- to pay their executives multimillion-dollar bonuses, something they continue doing to this very day. They have no shame. They don't care what you and I think about them. Henry Kissinger refers to us as "useless eaters."

But, you say, we have elected a candidate of change. To which I respond: Do these words of President Obama sound like change?

"A culture of irresponsibility took root, from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street." There it is. Right there. We are Main Street. We must, according to our president, share the blame. He went on to say: "And a regulatory regime basically crafted in the wake of a 20th-century economic crisis -- the Great Depression -- was overwhelmed by the speed, scope and sophistication of a 21st-century global economy."

This is nonsense.

The reason Wall Street was able to game the system the way it did -- knowing that they would become rich at the expense of the American people (oh, yes, they most certainly knew that) -- was because the financial elite had bribed our legislators to roll back the protections enacted after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Congress gutted the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial lending banks from investment banks, and passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed for self-regulation with no oversight. The Securities and Exchange Commission subsequently revised its rules to allow for even less oversight -- and we've all seen how well that worked out.

To date, no serious legislation has been offered by the Obama administration to correct these problems.

Instead, Obama wants to increase the oversight power of the Federal Reserve. Never mind that it already had significant oversight power before our most recent economic meltdown, yet failed to take action. Never mind that the Fed is not a government agency but a cartel of private bankers that cannot be held accountable by Washington. Whatever the Fed does with these supposed new oversight powers will be behind closed doors.

Obama's failure to act sends one message loud and clear: He cannot stand up to the powerful Wall Street interests that supplied the bulk of his campaign money for the 2008 election. Nor, for that matter, can Congress, for much the same reason.

Consider what multibillionaire banker David Rockefeller wrote in his 2002 memoirs:

"Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure -- one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."Read Rockefeller's words again. He actually admits to working against the "best interests of the United States."

Need more? Here's what Rockefeller said in 1994 at a U.N. dinner: "We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis, and the nations will accept the New World Order." They're gaming us. Our country has been stolen from us.

Journalist Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone, notes that esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith laid the 1929 crash at the feet of banking giant Goldman Sachs. Taibbi goes on to say that Goldman Sachs has been behind every other economic downturn as well, including the most recent one. As if that wasn't enough, Goldman Sachs even had a hand in pushing gas prices up to $4 a gallon.

The problem with bankers is longstanding. Here's what one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, had to say about them:

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation, and then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their father's conquered."

We all know that the first American Revolution officially began in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence. Less well known is that the single strongest motivating factor for revolution was the colonists' attempt to free themselves from the Bank of England. But how many of you know about the second revolution, referred to by historians as Shays' Rebellion? It took place in 1786-87, and once again the banks were the cause. This time they were putting the screws to America's farmers.

Daniel Shays was a farmer in western Massachusetts. Like many other farmers of the day, he was being driven into bankruptcy by the banks' predatory lending practices. (Sound familiar?)

Rallying other farmers to his side, Shays led his rebels in an attack on the courts and the local armory. The rebellion itself failed, but a message had been sent: The bankers (and the politicians who supported them) ultimately backed off. As Thomas Jefferson famously quipped in regard to the insurrection: "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Perhaps it's time to consider that option once again.

I'm calling for a national strike, one designed to close the country down for a day.

The intent? Real campaign-finance reform and strong restrictions on lobbying. Because nothing will change until we take corporate money out of politics. Nothing will improve until our politicians are once again answerable to their constituents, not the rich and powerful.

Let's set a date. No one goes to work. No one buys anything. And if that isn't effective -- if the politicians ignore us -- we do it again. And again. And again.

The real war is not between the left and the right. It is between the average American and the ruling class. If we come together on this single issue, everything else will resolve itself. It's time we took back our government from those who would make us their slaves.

Larry Flynt, Publisher of Hustler magazine and free speech advocate


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stop Corporate Terrorism

Progressive Populist
Sept. 1, 2009 Issue

For sheer, unmitigated gall, it’s hard to beat the conservatives who are mounting a last-ditch campaign to derail meaningful health care reform.

First, the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies bribed Congress members with millions of dollars in campaign contributions to keep expansion of Medicare — the most efficient way to provide affordable health coverage to every American — “off the table.”

Then their allies in Congress held up the progress of a compromise health reform bill past the summer recess. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) continues to negotiate with Republican senators who have indicated that they will never support a final bill that liberal Democrats could support.

At the same time, rightwing organizers are coordinating mobs that have disrupted attempts by Democratic Congress members to discuss health care reform in their home districts.

Protesters have shown up at congressional town meetings armed with Republican talking points that the President Obama’s plan would threaten Medicare and veterans’ health programs, put government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors and set up “death panels” to deny care for seniors and the disabled.

In fact, as Mike Madden notes in “Dispatches,” the “death panels” already are operated by private health insurance companies, who wield insurance-policy fine print to deny expensive treatments for stricken customers who thought they were covered. The bureaucrats earn bonuses and their bosses fatten their corporate profits at the expense of unlucky patients.

Wendell Potter was head of corporate communications for CIGNA, one of the largest for-profit health insurance companies, when he helped spearhead the healthcare industry’s campaign against Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko in 2007. But he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! in July 16 that he decided “it was time to go” after CIGNA later that year denied a California teenager, Nataline Sarkisyan, coverage for a liver transplant that her doctors had recommended.

That forced Nataline’s family to appeal to the media, the California Nurses Association and others to put pressure on the company, which ultimately decided to cover the procedure, but it was too late for Nataline, who died just two hours after CIGNA told her family the transplant could go ahead.

Potter quit CIGNA and became a whistleblower with the Center for Media and Democracy ( He said Wall Street has forced insurance companies to dump more sick customers in order to increase profit margins since 1993, when Bill and Hillary Clinton were trying to reform health care. At that time, insurers spent 95 cents of every premium dollar to pay claims.

Now, with the consolidation of the insurance industry into seven very large for-profit companies that dominate the market, the companies have gotten those payouts down to 80% of premiums paid. The savings go to the corporate bottom line.

In comparison, only 3% of Medicare expenses go to administration and there is no incentive to arbitrarily deny care.

But that’s socialism!

Health insurance companies, health care providers and pharmaceutical companies are pouring $1.4 million a day into lobbying, to water down the reforms, delay their implementation or, better yet from their point of view, kill it off entirely.

“Of course, the thing they fear most is that the country will at some point gravitate toward a single-payer plan,” Potter said. “That’s the ultimate fear that they have. ... They fear even the public insurance option that’s being proposed, that was part of President Obama’s campaign platform, his healthcare platform. And they’ll pull out all the stops they can to defeat that."

The insurance industry’s game plan to defeat the current reform effort is based on scare tactics, he said. “They’ll be working with their ideological allies, with the business community, with conservative pundits and editorial writers, to try to scare people into thinking that embracing a public health insurance option would lead us down the ... slippery slope toward socialism and that you will be, in essence, putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor. ... They’ve used those talking points for years, and ... they’ve always worked.”

This year conservatives have mobilized cadres of “teabaggers,” the right-wing shock troops who first came on the scene in April to protest taxes and vilify President Obama. Organized by Washington-based lobbyists such as Dick Armey’s “FreedomWorks” and local Republican and Libertarian officials, the teabaggers showed up at town hall rallies to crowd out health reform supporters and shout down attempts by Congress members to explain their positions on health care as well as attempts by health reform advocates to make their cases.

Obama made a populist appeal for healthcare reform in Portsmouth, N.H. on Aug. 11, telling the bipartisan crowd about the pitfalls of private insurance and making it clear that people who think they have good insurance coverage should welcome reforms too: “I don’t think government bureaucrats should be meddling [in your health care], but I also don’t think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling,” he said, adding, “Right now insurance companies are rationing care.”

He added that he is not promoting a single-payer plan, because it would be too disruptive. “I am promoting a plan that will assure that every single person is able to get health insurance at an affordable price, and that if they have health insurance they are getting a good deal from the insurance companies.”

Teabaggers (many of whom are covered by Medicare but are frightened by the scare tactics) protest that Obama is moving too fast, but we’ve been waiting for universal health care for more than 60 years, since Harry Truman proposed national health insurance after World War II.

This past year’s election not only put Obama in the White House with a mandate for change but also put commanding Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Independent polls consistently show that a clear majority of the public wants reform with at least a strong public option. (A New York Times/CBS poll on July 29 found Americans trust Obama over Republicans on health care by a 55%-26% margin and 66% support a Medicare-style public option for all Americans.)

It’s time to move on healthcare reform. Senate Democrats need to remind Max Baucus that his is merely one committee that is working on health reform. There are several points on which Democrats and Republicans can agree, such as defining a minimum package of benefits; prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of a person’s medical history or health condition; and setting up health insurance exchanges, where people could shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits.

The Senate health committee, chaired by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) in the absence of ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), has approved a bill that, in addition to these points, would set up a “public option,” administered by the government, to compete with private health insurance companies.

Republicans say they won’t allow a government-run public insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Fine. But Baucus and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the finance committee, need to produce the best bill they can come up with, so Democratic leaders can merge it with the health committee draft, and send the resulting bill with a strong public option to the full Senate for an up-or-down vote.

If any Democrat supports a Republican filibuster, Majority Leader Harry Reid should make it clear they can forget about any Senate leadership role in the next session.

Progressive Democrats are in a lot stronger position in the House, where three committees already have produced bills that will be consolidated into one measure when the House comes back in September. Then a House-Senate conference committee will meet to reconcile the differences in the bills and send the compromise back to both respective chambers for final passage.

Democrats must pass strong health care reform this fall by any means necessary. They must not submit to the corporate terrorists. — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2009


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Man used Limewire for identity theft

August 11, 2009
IDG News Service

(Washington) A Seattle man was sentenced to more than three years in prison Tuesday for using the Limewire file-sharing service to lift personal information from computers across the U.S.

The case highlights a type of identity theft that is probably more common than most people realize, said the assistant U.S. attorney in the Computer Hacking and Internet Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The man typed words like “tax return” and “account” into the Limewire search box, the assistant U.S. attorney said.

That allowed him to find and access computers on the Limewire network with shared folders that contained tax returns and bank account information.

He also searched specifically for forms that parents fill out to apply for college financial aid for their children, which include “exhaustive personal and financial information about the family,” she said.

He used the information to open accounts, create identification cards and make purchases.

He was sentenced Tuesday to 39 months in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud, accessing a protected computer without authorization to commit fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

He was tried in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Glenn Beck loses advertising because of black blog complaints : is Rush Limbaugh next?

by Clifford Bryan
August 10, 2009

Glenn Beck with Fox News is feeling the heat of the black blogger community that teamed up to send over 100,000 complaints to his bosses about his out of control highly polarizing language recently.

During an August 4 appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Beck called President Barack Obama a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

This all happened the week of Harvard Professor Henry Gates being arrested. and birthers claiming existence of Obama Kenyan birth certificate. Is this an attack on free speech , well not really because he can still say what he wants but his bosses at Fox may have a talk with him to tone it down next time he wants to speak in racial terms about President Barack Obama.

I myself plan to distance myself from Beck because he has turned into more of an entertainer out to stoke the fires of racism and hatred which is not hard to do during these tough economic times, inciting poorly educated whites to riot, Is Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs next?

Well my guess is the Afro sphere will be following them closely for the next couple of months . This week Obama joker posters went viral . All of this going on while town hall protestors against health care reform became violent.

Others are hopeful that the sponsor pullout from the Beck show will make a positive difference in countering hate language, slanders, smears, and outrageous comments by figures on television and radio including Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs.

Limbaugh has likened President Obama to Nazis causing the White House to declare he was on "thin ice." Dobbs is actively promoting the idea the president was not born in the U.S. All of this happening and we have not even started on gun control law debate which should be a hot topic if the NRA has anything to say about it ,I'm sure they do with the amount of lobbying they did for gun permit advocates.

The group that led the coalition against Beck is Color of Change who said that the dangers of these tactics are real. We saw the same dynamic during the presidential race: by the end, the McCain/Palin campaign was unable to control the violent energy whipped up by their race-baiting.

The result was an unprecedented number of threats on Obama's life, a rise in the number of hate groups, and an increase in the number of threats and crimes against immigrants and Black people.

The conservative right wing even took aim at Obama's daughter Malia Obama which is about as far across the line as you can go and unprecedented.

Who can forget Virginia politician Catherine Crabill calling for Republicans to bear arms.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

9/11 FEMA videographer at Ground Zero goes public

Exclusive interview: Kurt Sonnenfeld
Voltiare Network

As official videographer for the U.S. government, Kurt Sonnenfeld was detailed to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, where he spent one month filming 29 tapes: "What I saw at certain moments and in certain places ... is very disturbing!" He never handed them over to the authorities and has been persecuted ever since. Kurt Sonnenfeld lives in exile in Argentina, where he wrote "El Perseguido" (the persecuted). His recently-published book tells the story of his unending nightmare and drives another nail into the coffin of the government’s account of the 9/11 events. Below is an exclusive interview by The Voltaire Network.


Kurt Sonnenfeld graduated from the University of Colorado (USA) with studies in International Affairs and Economics, as well as in Literature and Philosophy. He worked for the United States government as official videographer and served as Director of Broadcast Operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Emergency Response Team.

Additionally, Kurt Sonnenfeld was contracted by several other governmental agencies and programs for classified and “sensitive” operations at military and scientific installations throughout the United States.

On September 11, 2001, the area known as “Ground Zero” was sealed from the public eye.

Sonnenfeld, however, was given unrestricted access enabling him to document for the investigation (that never took place) and provide some “sanitized” pool video to virtually every news network in the world. The tapes that reveal some of the anomalies which he discovered at Ground Zero are still in his possession.

Accused of a crime that did not occur in a manifest frame-up scenario, especially in light of ensuing events [1], Kurt Sonnenfeld has been persecuted across continents. After several years of fear, injustice and isolation, he has decided to take a public stand against the Government’s official story and is prepared to submit his material to the close scrutiny of reliable experts.

Kurt Sonnenfeld

Voltaire Network: Your autobiographical book titled "El Perseguido" (the persecuted) was recently published in Argentina where you live in exile since 2003. Tell us who is persecuting you.

Kurt Sonnenfeld: Although it is autobiographical, it is not my life story. Rather it is a history of the extraordinary events that have happened to me and my family at the hands of U.S. authorities over the course of more than seven years, spanning two hemispheres, after my tour of duty at Ground Zero and becoming an inconvenient witness.

Voltaire Network: You explained that your request for refugee status within the terms of the Geneva 1951 Convention is still being considered by the Argentinean Senate, while in 2005 you were granted political asylum, albeit, on a provisional basis. That probably makes you the first U.S. citizen in that situation! And no doubt the first U.S. Government official with direct exposure to the events surrounding September 11, 2001 who has “blown the whistle”. Is this what drove you into exile?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave (or stay away from) his or her country for reasons of persecution. It’s undeniable that many people have been persecuted unfairly as a result of the quasi-fascist laws and policies brought about by the shock of September 11, 2001, and they deserve refugee status. But the fact is, requesting refugee status is a risky and dangerous step to take. America is the world’s only remaining “superpower”, and dissent has been effectively repressed. Any person who requests refugee status on political grounds is by nature making an extreme statement of dissent. And if your request is denied, what do you do? Once you make the request, there can be no going back.

Personally, I wasn’t forced to leave the United States, and I certainly did not “flee”. At the time I was still fairly oblivious to what was actually brewing against me. I hadn’t connected the dots yet; so that when I left in early 2003 I had every intention of returning. I came to Argentina for a short respite; to try to recuperate after all that had happened to me. I travelled here freely, with my own passport, using my own credit cards. But because of an incredible series of events, I have since been forced into exile, and I haven’t been back.

Voltaire Network: What type of events are you referring to?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: I’ve suffered false accusations for “crimes” that demonstrably did not happen, abusive imprisonment and torture as a result of those accusations, as well as outrageous calumnies against my reputation, death threats, kidnap attempts and several other violations of civil and human rights as denounced by numerous international accords. My return to the United States would not only be a continuation of those violations, but would be aggregated by the separation - perhaps permanent - from my wife and three-year old twin daughters, the only thing remaining that I have to live for. And then, after the impossibility of receiving a fair trial for a crime that did not happen, I could be subject to the death penalty.

Voltaire Network: In 2005, the U.S. Government lodged a request to have you extradited, which was turned down by a Federal Judge. Then, in 2007, the Argentinean Supreme Court – in a show of integrity and independence - turned down the U.S. appeal, but your Government persisted. Can you shed some light on the situation ?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: In 2008, the US government appealed again, this time with absolutely no legal foundation, to the Supreme Court, which will surely uphold the two already unassailable rulings made by the Federal Judge.

In one of those rulings, it was also noted that there were too many “sombras”, or shadows, surrounding my case. There were many, many obvious fabrications in the extradition order sent here by US authorities, and, thankfully, we were able prove that. The fact that there were so many fabrications has actually served to support my request for asylum. We were also able to show that we had been subject to a prolonged campaign of harassment and intimidation from US intelligence services. As a result, since my family has been assigned round-the-clock police protection. As one senator has noted about my case: “It is their behavior that belies their true motivations”.

Voltaire Network: They want you pretty badly for a “crime that did not happen”! How do you account for such doggedness? As a FEMA official, you must have been trusted by your government. At what point did the situation capsize?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: In hindsight, I realize now that the situation had capsized some time before I actually became aware that it had capsized. Initially, the false accusation against me was completely irrational, and I was totally destroyed by it.

It is incredibly difficult to have suffered the loss of someone you love to suicide, but to then be accused of it is too much to bear. The case was dismissed based on a mountain of evidence that overwhelmingly absolved me (Nancy, my wife, had left behind a suicide note and a journal of suicidal writings ; she had a family history of suicide ; etc.). The prosecution was 100% sure of my innocence before requesting the dismissal of charge.

But the sustained incarceration even AFTER it was indicated that I was to be freed was what proved to me that something was happening under the surface. I was held in jail for FOUR MONTHS after my lawyers were informed that the case was to be dismissed and was finally released in June 2002. During that time, an amazing series of strange events began to occur.

While still being held, I had a telephone conversation with FEMA officials in an effort to resolve the issue, but I realized that I was considered “compromised”. I was told it had been agreed that “the agency had to be protected”, especially in light of the upheaval that was threatening with the implementation of the “Patriot Act” and the expected usurpation that would come with the new Department of Homeland Security. After all the dangers I had risked, all hardship and difficulties I had endured for them for almost 10 years, I felt betrayed. It left a void in my soul.

Because of their abandonment, I told them I didn’t have the tapes, that I gave them to “some bureaucrat” in New York, and that they would have to wait until I was released to retrieve any other documents in my possession. Soon after that conversation, my house was “seized”, the locks were changed, and men were observed by neighbors entering my house, though there is no record in the court of their entry, as would be required. When I was finally released, I discovered that my office had been ransacked, my computer was missing, and that my tape library in my basement had been dug through and several were missing. Men were constantly parked on the street near my house, my security system was “hacked” more than once, outdoor security lights were unscrewed, etc., to the point that I went to stay with some friends at their condo in the mountains, which was then ALSO broken into.

Anyone who looks for the truth recognizes that there has been an amazing series of irregularities in this case and that an appalling injustice is being carried out on me and my loved ones. This intense campaign to return me to American soil is a false pretext for other darker motives.

Voltaire Network: You have suggested that you observed things at Ground Zero that did not tally with the official account. Did you do or say anything to arouse suspicion in this respect?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: In that same telephone call I said that I would “go public”, not only with my suspicions about the events surrounding September 11, 2001, but about several contracts I had worked on in the past.

Voltaire Network: What are your suspicions based on?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: There were many things, in hindsight, that were disturbing at Ground Zero. It was odd to me that I was dispatched to go to New York even before the second plane hit the South Tower, while the media was still reporting only that a “small plane” had collided with the North Tower — far too small of a catastrophe at that point to involve FEMA .

FEMA was mobilized within minutes, whereas it took ten days for it to deploy to New Orleans to respond to Hurricane Katrina, even with abundant advance warning!

It was odd to me that all cameras were so fiercely prohibited within the secured perimeter of Ground Zero, that the entire area was declared a crime scene and yet the “evidence” within that crime scene was so rapidly removed and destroyed. And then it was very odd to me when I learned that FEMA and several other federal agencies had already moved into position at their command center at Pier 92 on September 10th, one day before the attacks!

We are asked to believe that all four of the “indestructible” black boxes of the two jets that struck the twin towers were never found because they were completely vaporized, yet I have footage of the rubber wheels of the landing gear nearly undamaged, as well as the seats, parts of the fuselage and a jet turbine that were absolutely not vaporized. This being said, I do find it rather odd that such objects could have survived fairly intact the type of destruction that turned most of the Twin Towers into thin dust. And I definitely harbor some doubts about the authenticity of the “jet” turbine, far too small to have come from one of the Boeings!

What happened with Building 7 is incredibly suspicious. I have video that shows how curiously small the rubble pile was, and how the buildings to either side were untouched by Building Seven when it collapsed. It had not been hit by an airplane; it had suffered only minor injuries when the Twin Towers collapsed, and there were only small fires on a couple of floors. There’s no way that building could have imploded the way it did without controlled demolition. Yet the collapse of Building 7 was hardly mentioned by the mainstream media and suspiciously ignored by the 911 Commission.

Voltaire Network: Reportedly, the underground levels of WTC7 contained sensitive and undoubtedly compromising archival material. Did you come across any of it?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: The Secret Service, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of Emergency Management’s “Crisis Center” occupied huge amounts of space there, spanning several floors of the building. Other federal agencies had offices there as well.

After September 11, it was discovered that concealed within Building Seven was the largest clandestine domestic station of the Central Intelligence Agency outside of Washington DC, a base of operations from which to spy on diplomats of the United Nations and to conduct counterterrorism and counterintelligence missions.

There was no underground parking level at Seven World Trade Center. And there was no underground vault. Instead, the federal agencies at Building Seven stored their vehicles, documents and evidence in the building of their associates across the street. Beneath the plaza level of US Customs House (Building 6) was a large underground garage, separated off from the rest of the complex’s underground area and guarded under tight security. This was where the various government services parked their bomb-proofed cars and armored limousines, counterfeit taxi cabs and telephone company trucks used for undercover surveillance and covert operations, specialized vans and other vehicles. Also within that secured parking area was access to the sub-level vault of Building 6.

When the North Tower fell, the US Customs House (Building 6) was crushed and totally incinerated. Much of the underground levels beneath it were also destroyed. But there were voids. And it was into one of those voids, recently uncovered, that I descended with a special Task Force to investigate. It was there we found the security antechamber to the vault, badly damaged. At the far end of the security office was the wide steel door to the vault, a combination code keypad in the cinderblock wall beside it. But the wall was cracked and partially crumbled, and the door was sprung partially open. So we checked inside with our flashlights.

Except for several rows of empty shelves, there was nothing in the vault but dust and debris. It had been emptied. Why was it empty? And when could it have been emptied?

Voltaire Network: Is this what set alarm bells ringing for you?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: Yes, but not immediately. With so much chaos, it was difficult to think. It was only after digesting everything that the “alarm bells” went off.

Building Six was evacuated within twelve minutes after the first airplane struck the North Tower. The streets were immediately clogged with fire trucks, police cars and blocked traffic, and the vault was large enough, 15 meters by 15 meters by my estimate, to necessitate at least a big truck to carry out its contents. And after the towers fell and destroyed most of the parking level, a mission to recover the contents of the vault would have been impossible. The vault had to have been emptied before the attack.

I’ve described all of this extensively in my book, and it’s apparent that things of importance were taken out of harm’s way before the attacks. For example, the CIA didn’t seem too concerned about their losses. After the existence of their clandestine office in Building Seven was discovered, an agency spokesman told the newspapers that a special team had been dispatched to scour the rubble in search of secret documents and intelligence reports, though there were millions, if not billions of pages floating in the streets. Nevertheless, the spokesman was confident. “There shouldn’t be too much paper around,” he said.

The bizarre hollowed-out vestiges of The US Customs House (Building Six)

And Customs at first claimed that everything was destroyed. That the heat was so intense that everything in the evidence safe had been baked to ash. But some months later, they announced that they had broken up a huge Colombian narco-trafficking and money-laundering ring after miraculously recovering crucial evidence from the safe, including surveillance photos and heat-sensitive cassette tapes of monitored calls.

And when they moved in to their new building at 1 Penn Plaza in Manhattan, they proudly hung on the lobby wall their Commissioner’s Citation Plaque and their big round US Customs Service ensign, also miraculously recovered, in pristine condition, from their crushed and cremated former office building at the World Trade Center.

Voltaire Network: You weren’t alone on the Ground Zero assignment. Did the others notice the same anomalies? Do you know whether they have they also been harassed?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: Actually there were a few people on two different excursions that I know about. Some of us even discussed it afterwards. They know who they are and I hope that they will come forward, but I’m sure they have strong apprehensions as to what will happen to them if they do. I will leave it to them to decide, but there is strength in numbers.

Voltaire Network: With the publication of your book, you have become a "whistleblower" – yet another step on which there is no going back! There must be many people with inside knowledge about what really happened or did not happen on that fateful day. Yet, hardly any have stepped up to the plate and certainly no one who was directly involved in an official capacity. This is what makes your case so compelling. Judging from your ordeal, it is not difficult to imagine what is holding such people back.

Kurt Sonnenfeld: Actually, there are several other very smart and credible people blowing whistles, too. And they are being discredited and ignored. Some are being harassed and persecuted, as I am.

People are gripped by fear. Everybody knows that if you question US authority you will have problems in some way or another. At minimum you will be discredited and dehumanized. Most likely you’ll find yourself indicted for something completely unrelated, like tax evasion — or something even worse, as in my case. Look at what happened to Secret Service whistle-blower Abraham Bolden, for example, or to chess master Bobby Fischer after he showed his disdain for the US. There are countless other examples. In the past I asked friends and associates to speak out for me to counter all the lies being planted in the media, and all of them were terrified as to the ramifications to themselves and their families.

Voltaire Network: To what degree would your discoveries at Ground Zero expose the government’s involvement in those events? Are you familiar with the investigations that have been carried out by numerous scientists and qualified professionals which not only corroborate your own findings but, in some instances, far exceed them? Do you regard such people as "conspiracy nuts"?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: At the highest levels in Washington, DC, someone knew what was going to happen. They wanted a war so badly that they at least let it happen and most likely even helped it happen.

Sometimes it seems to me that the “nuts” are those who hold to what they’ve been told with an almost religious fervor despite all of the evidence to the contrary — the ones who won’t even consider that there was a conspiracy. There are so many anomalies to the “official” investigation that you can’t blame it on oversight or incompetence. I am familiar with the scientists and qualified professionals to whom you refer, and their findings are convincing, credible, and presented according to scientific protocol — in stark contrast to the findings of the “official” investigation. In addition, numerous intelligence agents and government officials have now come forward with their very informed opinions that the 911 Commission was a farce at best or a cover-up at worst. My experience at Ground Zero is but one more piece of the puzzle.

Voltaire Network: Those events are nearly 8 years behind us. Do you consider that uncovering the truth about 9/11 continues to be an important objective? Why?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: It is of absolute importance. And it will be equally as important in 10 years, or even 50 years if the truth still has not been exposed. It is an important objective because, at this point in history, many people are too credulous to whatever “authority” tells them and too willing to follow. People in a state of shock seek guidance. People who are afraid are manipulable.

And being able to manipulate the masses results in unimaginable benefits to a lot of very rich and very powerful people. War is incredibly expensive, but the money has to go somewhere.

War is very profitable for the very few. And somehow their sons always end up in Washington DC, making the decisions and writing the budgets, while the sons of the poor and the poorly-connected always end up on the enemy lines, taking their orders and fighting their battles. The enormous black-budget of the US Department of Defense represents an unlimited money machine for the military-industrial complex, figuring in the multi-trillions of dollars, and it will continue to be so until the masses wake up, recuperate their skepticism and demand accountability. Wars (and false pretexts for war) will not cease until the people realize the true motive of war and stop believing “official” explanations.

Voltaire Network: What is referred to as the 9/11 Truth Movement, has been asking for a new, independent investigation into those events. Do you think that the Obama Administration holds out some hope in this respect?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: I really hope so, but I’m skeptical. Why would the leadership of any established government willingly undertake any action that would result in a serious compromise to their authority? They will prefer to maintain the status quo and leave the things the way they are. The conductor of the train has been changed, but has the train changed its course? I doubt it. The push has to come from the public, not only domestically, but internationally, like your group is doing.

Voltaire Network: A number of human rights and activist groups are supporting your plight, not least Peace Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. How have the Argentinean people in general responded to your situation?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: With an incredible outpouring of support. The military dictatorship is still fresh in the collective memory of most of the people here, along with the knowledge that the dictatorship (along with the other South American dictatorships at the time) was backed by the CIA, directed at the time by George Bush Senior. They remember well the torture centers, the secret prisons, the thousands of people “disappeared” for their opinions, the living in daily fear. They know that the United States today will do the same thing if they consider it beneficial, that they will invade a country to achieve their political and economic interests and then manipulate the media with fabricated “causus belli” to justify their conquests.

My family and I are honored to have Adolfo Pérez Esquiveland his advisors at Servicio de Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) among our dearest friends. We have worked together on many causes, including the rights of refugees, the rights of women, for children without families and children with HIV/AIDS.

We are also honored to have the support of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo; Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Línea Fundadora; Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS); Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos (APDH); Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos por Razones Políticas; Asociación de Mujeres, Migrantes y Refugiados Argentina (AMUMRA); Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Honorable Cámara de Diputados de la Provincia de Buenos Aires; Secretaría de Derechos Humanos de la Nación; and the Programa Nacional Anti-Impunidad.

On an international level, Amicus Curiae have been presented in our favor by REPRIEVE of Great Britain, along with the collaboration of NIZKOR of Spain and Belgium. In addition, my wife, Paula, and I have been received in the Congress by La Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Garantías de la Honorable Cámara de Diputados de La Nación.

Voltaire Network: As we said, deciding to write this book and to go public was a huge step. What pushed you to do it?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: To save my family. And to let the world know that things are not what they seem.

Voltaire Network: Last but not least: what will you do with your tapes?

Kurt Sonnenfeld: I am convinced that my tapes reveal many more anomalies than I am capable of recognizing given my limited qualifications. I will therefore cooperate in any way that I can with serious and reliable experts in a common endeavour to expose the truth.

Voltaire Network: Thank you very much !

Interview conducted by The Voltaire Network:
[1] added to the original posting by way of clarification