Top ten list of Obama’s efforts to destroy civil liberties by Jonathon Turley; Clinton voices U.S. strategy of surrounding Iran with a “defense umbrella”; U.S. clients up the human rights abuses to “fight terror”; China cashing in on its foreign holdings; and more…

Jonathon Turley’s top ten list of “Obama’s rollback on civil liberties and constitutional principles”. If you missed Sunday’s WaPo article on the C.I.A. role in Bush Adminstration torture, it’s an absolute must-read.

If you didn’t see Stephen Colbert last night, Jeremy Scahill is right, it was probably the best segment of “The Word” ever on the “torture debate”. See the video here. Glenn Greenwald added his comment here.

U.S Secy. of State Hillary Clinton voices the American strategy of surrounding Iran, militarily with a “defense umbrella” to intimdate. Senior White House adviser on iran policy — and former adviser to Mrs. Clinton — Dennis Ross has historically called for a “nuclear umbrella” in the region like that in Asia. “We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf,” Mrs. Clinton said, “it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.” (NYT)

“The radical right in the West, and the neoconservatives, are still spreading alarmism about Iran’s nuclear program,” writes Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation). “This, of course, is nonsense. Iran has not an ounce of highly enriched uranium (HEU), having stockpiled only a limited quantity of fuel-grade, low enriched uranium (LEU) . To build a bomb, Iran would have to refine all of its current stockpile of LEU to have enough HEU to build one (yes, one) bomb…. There’s no reason to be alarmed about Iran’s nukes. The world has plenty of time to deal with that problem. (Even the Mossad now says that Iran won’t have a bomb until 2014 at the earliest, according to Haaretz.)” Where Mr. Dreyfuss gets the illusion that “Obama is offering to bring Iran into the community of nations” is beyond me.

Pakistan’s intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), briefed the NYT for two hours that the U.S.-led Afghan Surge is counter-productive to making the Af-Pak region safer. “The surge in Afghanistan will further reinforce the perception of a foreign occupation of Afghanistan. It will result in more civilian casualties; further alienate local population. Thus more local resistance to foreign troops,” one of the first slides of the briefing read. (NYT)

“The C.I.A.’s involvement in planning assassinations goes back at least to 1954, when it prepared a manual for killings as part of a U.S.-run coup against the leftist government of Guatemala,” writes David Wise at the LAT. “The agency’s manual recommends ‘the contrived accident’ as the best way to dispose of someone. ‘The most efficient accident … is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface. Elevator shafts, stairwells, unscreened windows and bridges will serve.’ The manual suggests grabbing the victim by the ankles and ‘tipping the subject over the edge. … Falls before trains or subway cars are usually effective, but require exact timing.'”

U.S. client-state Saudi Arabia is being criticized by Amnesty International for its vast increase of human rights abuses since 2001 in the “War on Terror”. The amount of detainees went from the hundreds to the thousands with over 3,000 remaining in custody. “Others have been moved to an official “re-education” programme though it is unclear how they are selected and under what conditions they can obtain release,” Amnesty International reports. “Reported methods of torture and other ill-treatment include severe beatings with sticks, punching, and suspension from the ceiling, use of electric shocks and sleep deprivation. Flogging is also imposed as a legal punishment by itself or in addition to imprisonment, and sentences can include thousands of lashes.”

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said that increased U.S. military presence in Colombia is a “threat”. “They are surrounding Venezuela with military bases,” he said in a speech. (AJE)

China’s beginning to collect on its over $2.1tn in foreign reserves — more than any in the world — to expand its multinational quasi-government banks, oil, and communications corporations. China’s non-financial international investments rose to $40.7bn in 2008 from $148m in 2002 (FT).

Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson grilled Federal [sic] Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the FED’s credit creation of over half a trillion dollars to loan foreign central banks and have no knowledge of how those central banks are loaning the “money”. Mr. Grayson asked, “Is it safe to say that nobody in 1913 contemplated that a small little group of people would decide to hand out half a trillion dollars to foreigners?,” to which Mr. Bernanke claimed this was common, which Mr. Grayson debunked. (5:11 – h/t: Paul Joseph Watson):

Israel’s illegal apartheid wall in the West Bank “will remain in place and will not be dismantled,” PM Bibi Netanyahu told the Knesset (Ha’aretz).

“On Monday over 1,500 olive trees belonging to Palestinians near the Yitzhar settlement south of the Palestinian city Nablus were set on fire and destroyed by settlers,” reports Mel Frykberg at IPS. “The wave of violent attacks against Palestinians had started increasing in number and severity in the summer of last year when Israeli settlers started to make good on their threat to enforce their ‘price tag’ policy with ‘protests’ after each outpost forcibly evacuated…. ‘[P]rotests’ have come in the form of rioting, attacking Palestinians, throwing rocks at their cars, setting their property and farmland on fire, as well as attacking Israeli soldiers and police.”

Palestinians are protesting “stop work orders” imposed by the Israeli gov’t. Why? The “stop work orders” are to stop Palestinian construction on Palestinian land. Truth really is stranger than fiction. (PTV)

Oakland, CA passed a “pot tax”. So now, you won’t be kidnapped for smoking pot. Now, you have to pay the gov’t to not kidnap you. Where’s the progress here? (HuffPo)

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