In the year 2000, an out of work reporter is approached by a man who is not whom he appears to be. Lured into a romantic affair with him, the reporter is soon to lose everything—her family, her home, her country and nearly her life.
EXILE is the true story of Janet Phelan, who fled the US after the attempts to permanently silence her went awry. The lengths to which the intelligence community will go to cover their tracks is revealed in this memoir. The ultimate question—what is the meaning behind this grave assault on an American citizen—unfolds as the story is told.
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Janet Phelan - Reporter at Large
Former FBI Anthrax Investigator Files Lawsuit
Retaliation. It is becoming a rather consistent sub-text in growing numbers of reports coming in concerning US policies—domestic as well as international. On the domestic front, attorneys are being suspended from the practice of law for protesting that the courts are corrupt, an intelligence whistleblower flees the US for safety in Russia and a journalist has been stripped of US citizenship. All these stories have the element of retaliation in common.
And now, we have reports of the FBI retaliating against one of their own former agents, allegedly for criticizing a high profile and troubled investigation. Richard Lambert, former Inspector in Charge of the 2001 anthrax investigation (AMERITHRAX) has filed a lawsuit against former Attorney General Eric Holder, former FBI Chief Robert Mueller and others in the Justice Department, alleging retaliation.
The Biological Weapons Convention Turns 40--Are We Any Safer?
This year, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) celebrated its 40th birthday in Geneva, at the Palais Nacions. Amidst speeches and backslapping within the coterie of the BWC crowd, the question that hangs in the air is—Are we really any safer?
The Biological Weapons Convention was signed by the three depositary countries—Russia, Great Britain and the United States—in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. The announcement by the Nixon administration in 1969 that the US would unilaterally renounce the use of biological weapons and discontinue its biological weapons program provided an impetus towards the establishment of the treaty.
Is this a treaty or what?
Unlike other disarmament treaties, the BWC has no verification protocol. What this means is that there is no way for the Convention to check to see if those who have signed and ratified the Convention are in fact abiding by its dictates.
In 2001, after several years of meetings and consultations, an Ad Hoc Committee presented to the Convention a verification protocol for approval. The US delegation walked out, boycotting the protocol. Due to the refusal of the US to approve the verification mechanisms, the BWC remains a paper tiger. It is, in reality, a treaty in name only, with no way to check on compliance and no way to deal with violations.
The US team boycotted the protocol only months before the attacks of September 11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks. Based on what turned out to be false statements that Iraq was hosting an offensive biological weapons program, the US invaded Iraq in 2003. The FBI subsequently allocated responsibility for the anthrax attacks to a Fort Detrick researcher, Dr. Bruce Ivins, who conveniently committed suicide on the eve of his probable arrest. Subsequent reports have cast doubt on the likelihood that Ivins was the culprit. In fact, the weaponized anthrax most likely came from a Battelle lab or from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
Battelle is a private non-profit which also manages US Department of Energy and Homeland Security labs. Dugway is a military base. Both a Battelle lab in Ohio and Dugway had anthrax from the very same vial that Dr. Ivins had access to at Ft. Detrick and was determined to contain the weaponized anthrax used in the anthrax attacks. In other words, the anthrax most likely came from a facility funded by the US government.
The FBI declined to investigate personnel at either of these other facilities.
Is Adult Protective Services Protecting Abusers?
When the Elder Justice Initiative was recently funded by Congress for $4 million for the fiscal year 2015–at a mere fraction of the $25 million requested by President Obama—consumer advocates were ecstatic. The funds are earmarked for Adult Protective Services (APS), which has a national mandate to protect the elderly from abuse.
America’s dirty little secret (well, one of them, anyway) is the reality of elder abuse. As reported by ElderJusticeAction.com, 14% of older adults have experienced abuse since turning 60. As far as the financial cost of elder abuse, EJA reports that those who have been financially abused have lost an estimated 2.9 billion dollars per year and that the medical costs associated with elder abuse are greater than $5 billion. Furthermore, those who had confirmed cases of elder abuse, according to EJA, had twice the chance of ending up dead than those who had not been abused.
This abuse, however, is not limited to those who are related or socially connected with an elderly person. In fact, those who are appointed by the court as guardians are often the perpetrators of elder abuse. The Government Accountability Office published a study in 2010, entitled “GUARDIANSHIPS: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, and Abuse of Seniors”and had this to say about the phenomenon of guardians abusing their wards:
So is the Obama Administration actually stepping up to the line and taking a good hard swing at elder abuse?
The answer appears to be no. For the funding going into the Elder Justice Initiative is, as mentioned above, earmarked for APS. And APS may be one of the worst abusers around.
In The Chemical Dawn
The first cloud of gaseous terra re-formation
settles into the earth
and the parapets peel away from
the government buildings
and fly screeching towards the ochre distillation of sun
and a vague dream subsides back
into the pool of best- forgotten dreams
and I rise
against my better judgment
and the protest of my dying cells
I rise to face the spectre
of the chemical dawn
Outside my window
a few leaves flutter like the distressed hands
of an old woman
the bark on the trees has been scraped clean
and one last outraged rosemary bush
topples into a dessicated heap
something was hungry during the night
I step outside
breathe in the breath of it
smell the sweat of it
it is in the air
in the blood
the rivers and streams
in the bark and branches
bones of my planet
bones of my flesh
I once fought it with words
as if words could subdue this towering, toxic behemoth
I have no other weapons
my dreams were gutted
at the same time that the turrets and parapets and gargoyles
no more sorcery left in that flaccid, despoiled wellspring
I saw the first one years ago
the beast rising on ghastly wings
from the central cathedral
it was heresy back then
to say what you knew
it is only a brief synecdoche
that holds us in its warrantless spell
as the sky stoops
to fold us in
and the light breaks around us
in the chemical dawn
it slivers and shatters
like shards of burnt petroleum
gases rise from my footsteps as I
step out into what passes for day
and a crazed hope for human redemption
rises as a cry from my blackened and withered lungs
as I realize I can still breathe
I can still breathe
California Goes Dark
“We had better share our bewilderments. By hiding them from each other we should not hide them from ourselves.” — C.S. Lewis
The darkness now enveloping the state of California is not a result of a power failure. Rather, it is the result of too much power, concentrated in the hands of those who do not respect or honor those who have delegated authority to them.
This darkness is palpable, though it is not physical. This darkness is the result of attempts by those in power to illegally obscure their activities from the populace. Make no mistake, this darkness is obscuring crimes of murder as well as crimes against property.
The perpetrators of this darkness are acting in concert. On one hand, we have members of the California Department of Justice ignoring their responsibilities under the California Public Records Act. In another agency, also located in the capitol of California, Sacramento, we have other individuals — Julia Ansel, head of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (PFB) located in the Department of Consumer Affairs and also Russ Heimerich, spokesperson for the PFB, also illegally obscuring access to related information.
Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, you say. Sounds like a fairly minor issue, right?
In fact, the office is a misnomer. The PFB was established by an act of the California legislature in 2006, and, after Governor Schwarzenegger repeatedly vetoed funding for the nascent agency, opened its doors for the business of licensing and overseeing professional conservators in 2008. Conservators (in some states called “guardians”) are far more than bean counters. They hold the power of life and death over their wards.