Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ergenekon and Occupy Wall Street CLEAN UP AND JAIL


"Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called "a precariat" -- seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity -- not only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail."

"The courageous and honourable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course." -Noam Chomsky 2011


They hang the man and flog the woman,
Who steals the goose from off the common,
Yet let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from the goose

- 17th century English protest rhyme

Americans who do not enjoy European style universal welfare are coming to the realization that despite their optimistic 'can do' attitude, they are no longer able to realize their much cherished American Dream. Hence, while Greed and Being Rich, the motivating force of capitalism, are openly and unashamedly celebrated in China, and elsewhere in the emerging economies, it Is now under popular attack in the USA because Greed is no longer a solution, but a problem.

The 99%movement in the USA is a manifestation of this new mood. The mission: To develop a political agenda based on the economic interests of 99% of Americans – especially where they conflict with the top 1% – which owns 34% of the wealth. This movement, which started only on the 17 September this year with call for occupy Wall Street, is going viral, spreading to over 80 cities. It is capturing the imagination of the Americans, and even Obama has acknowledge that "people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.."

From Boston by a Mark Provost

In the last several days in early October 2011, occupations have spread from Wall Street to more than 70 cities across America.

I drove from New Hampshire on Friday afternoon and arrived in Beantown to kickoff Occupy Boston. Dewey Square, the site of the occupation in the heart of the financial district, was easy to find thanks to police and media helicopters hovering overhead.

But rush hour traffic and Boston's circuitous one-way streets channeled me far from the site - and into an expensive garage.

I asked a well-dressed young man exiting work for directions to the park. He didn't know the location, and I didn't tell him why I was going (fearing he may intentionally misdirect me). Unfortunately, my cover was blown when "Brian" innocently asked a coworker for the whereabouts.

The coworker smiled and pointed me in the right direction, but not before he offered his opinion about the protest, "I am a capitalist. I work for an investment bank … but I don't agree with American-style capitalism." Without pause, he refined his thoughts, "I am a socialist."

One of Singapore's most renowned dissidents, TAN WAH PIOW was a student leader during the 1970s. In 1976, he refused to fulfil his military service and went into self-exile in London, from where he led an active opposition to the Singapore government through the FUEMSSO (Federation of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Malaysia and Singapore Student Organisation). He lost his Singapore citizenship in 1987.



(You may find some of the same elites!)

Mani Pulite and Ergenekon: Contrasting pictures in Turkey and Italy

There are valuable experiences Turkey ought to take from the Italian experience of the "Mani Pulite" (Clean Hands) initiative of the early 1990s.

 The Italian experiment teaches us that it is imperative to pursue dismantling gangs, illicit groups, criminal networks and the terrorist organization called Ergenekon all the way to the end. If the job is left unfinished or stops halfway through, as happened in Italy, we will eventually end up with a fractured political system, unable to formulate urgently needed policies to address our challenges. Polarized public opinion, dysfunctional security forces and a heavily tainted justice system would linger on for many years to come.

One might argue that Turkey's Ergenekon probe resembles more the Operation Gladio inquiry conducted by Magistrate Felice Casson in 1990 and offers a different kind of lesson in exposing state-sponsored secret terrorist networks. I tend to agree with that argument. Perhaps I would be able to discuss similarities and differences between the Gladio and Ergenekon cases in detail in another column. But here I believe the "Clean Hands" case offers unique insights into pitfalls in judicial proceedings that we in Turkey should carefully avoid to finalize the Ergenekon trials successfully.

When Antonio Di Pietro, the former Milan magistrate, launched the Clean Hands investigation in 1992, he initially became a national hero for exposing widespread corruption that had long endured among the politicians and business world with the involvement of all kinds of clandestine networks. Over 2,500 people, including 120 deputies and senators of the Italian parliament, 12 current or former ministers, four ex-prime ministers, businessmen and others from all walks of life were investigated by prosecutors during the course of the investigation.

In Turkey's landmark Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases we are nowhere near that number yet. But the cases brought the dirty dealings within the state to light for the first time, unveiling a vicious terrorist network known as Ergenekon, whose leadership would do anything, including killing civilians and non-Muslim minority leaders, to protect its interests. They even plotted to overthrow the government by enlisting top generals to their cause, hoping to trigger a military coup with the support of journalists, academics, jurists and others who were on Ergenekon's payroll.


There is a similarity between the Ergenekon and Clean Hands investigations, in the sense that both cases were associated with a single name. The Clean Hands operation was in fact conducted by a group of magistrates in Milan headed by Francesco Saverio Borrelli. Di Pietro was just a member of this group who became the dominant figure. In the Ergenekon case, specially authorized prosecutor Zekeriya Öz became a leading figure even though he was only one in a group of prosecutors who were assigned by the chief prosecutor in I.stanbul to examine the case.

When Di Pietro launched his political party later on, it dealt a heavy blow to the credibility of Clean Hands, as the public was led to believe that he had political motivations all along. A propaganda campaign fiercely launched by politicians and their extensions in the media to discredit Di Pietro tainted the Clean Hands investigation. In the Turkish case, we do not see any indication that Öz will be getting involved in politics anytime soon. In fact, Turkey's Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) did the case a favor by taking him off of it after four years on the assignment, effectively preventing the case from becoming synonymous with his name. His work did not go unrewarded, however, as the HSYK promoted Öz to another position. The remaining prosecutors and newcomers assigned to the case are actively presenting the government's case in ongoing trials.

The second difference between the Turkish and Italian experiences is that when Clean Hands started, magistrates opened a wide front against any and all political figureheads involved in the corruption network. It was a kind of all-out war across political parties. When politicians realized that the operation would land them in jail, be they in the governing or opposition parties, they collaborated closely to stop the investigations and launched a campaign to discredit prosecutors. They succeeded in doing so in three years when 27 criminal charges were raised against Di Petro in 1995. Though he was eventually acquitted of all charges, the negative campaigning was successful in stopping the investigations.


In the Ergenekon case, Turkish prosecutors are investigating the terrorist network whose ultimate aim is to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, which has been elected to office in three consecutive elections since 2002. Therefore, unlike Italian magistrates, Turkish prosecutors enjoyed strong backing from the government and the largest political party in Turkey, which won 50 percent of the vote in a landslide victory in the June 12 elections of this year. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the third-largest party in Turkey, maintained a neutral position to the case overall, while implicitly supporting the governing party in its bid to get rid of clandestine networks nestled in the state organs for decades.

That left only the main opposition party Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) as a defender of suspects arrested and being tried in Ergenekon and other cases. But the party leadership's close association with suspects accused of serious crimes and an overwhelming body of convincing evidence submitted to the court have hurt the CHP more than ever. The party suffered in the last national election, failing to win over 30 percent of the vote, a psychological threshold the new leadership put forward as a benchmark for success. Realizing that the attack on prosecutors does not bring any votes, the CHP seems to have eased on the rhetoric of accusations leveled against prosecutors. As such, prosecutors in Turkey enjoyed what Italian magistrates lacked in their pursuit of justice -- political cover.

The third difference is that Di Pietro and others were systematically attacked by major media outlets acting as proxies for political heavyweights in the country, and magistrates were therefore portrayed negatively. The reason was obvious, of course, as the investigation reached even the media magnate leader of the center-right alliance, Silvio Berlusconi, who later became the prime minister. In one of his interviews, Di Pietro was critical of the media in Italy, saying: "Our media is notoriously successful at warping the truth. Those under investigation were falsely represented as victims and the judges as assassins, but no innocent person was imprisoned."

In Turkey, however, thanks to a diversification of media outlets and pluralism in recent years, prosecutors have found more than enough support to continue their operations to dismantle gangs. In fact, the small independent and liberal Taraf daily, a newcomer in the media market, published many leaked documents of the coup plots, eventually leading to official investigations into "untouchable" generals. Other big media groups such as Zaman, Sabah, Star and Yeni S,afak lent huge support to these investigations, while only a few remaining media groups continue to attack prosecutors.

Looking back at the Italian case, the stakes for Turkey are quite high. If Turkey fails to conclude these landmark trials and allows the suspects to go back to the community without paying the price, we will be confronted with a highly fractured and polarized political system, just like that in Italy. No one would dare launch similar investigations against powerful generals and others. We would go back to square one just like the Italians did under Berlusconi, where corruption is once again rampant. When that happens in Turkey, we will suffocate under the constant pressure of internal political problems. We may have to kiss our role as major regional player goodbye.

The good thing is that policymakers in Turkey have come to an understanding that the country simply cannot afford to lose in this game. They seem to have a strong resolve to see the Turkish version of the Clean Hands investigation through to the end.

The main figure in a scandalous 1996 car crash that for the first time brought evidence to light showing links between the state and illegal formations was killed by Ergenekon, a clandestine terrorist organization charged with plotting to overthrow the government, and not in the crash, according to new evidence made public on Monday. Dossiers of evidence from the second indictment in the trial of suspected members of Ergenekon were handed to defense attorneys on Monday evening.

According to a witness whose testimony is included in the new dossiers, Abdullah Çatlı, an ultranationalist criminal who was thought to have died in the 1996 Susurluk car crash, which exposed links between the Turkish state, the criminal underworld and Turkish security forces, was killed by Ergenekon. The Susurluk incident revealed that Çatlı, a leader of the ultranationalist Grey Wolves group, worked for the state.

Hüseyin Kocadağ, a former police chief; Sedat Bucak, a southeastern tribal leader whose men were armed by the state to fight separatist violence; and Çatlı, an internationally wanted mafia boss, were involved in an accident near the small township of Susurluk while riding in the same car. Kocadağ, Çatlı and his girlfriend, a former model, were allegedly killed in the accident. No arrests of major figures were made as a result of the ensuing investigation, which had actually exposed, for the first time in modern Turkish history, a gang with links to the state. Retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, who is currently in jail as an Ergenekon suspect, was detained but later released during the Susurluk investigation.

The dossiers contain the testimony of a secret witness, referred to as Kıskaç (Pincer), who told the prosecution on Nov. 30, 2008, that a senior gendarmerie master sergeant he identified as Hakan, who worked for JİTEM -- an illegal organization founded inside the gendarmerie accused of hundreds of atrocities against civilians in the Southeast -- revealed to him that Çatlı had not died in the accident. Kıskaç said Hakan had told him: "Abdullah Çatlı's arm was broken in the accident. We killed him by bludgeoning him to death." JİTEM is believed to be the most important armed branch of Ergenekon.

Kıskaç, who asked Hakan why Bucak had not been killed by JİTEM's men, received the reply: "This man has 14,000 armed men; he has control over a route from Antep to Silopi. We don't want to lose this route." Hakan also said the accident had been arranged by JİTEM and that Osman Gürbüz, another Ergenekon suspect, had followed the Mercedes Çatlı and the others were in.

"They told me to work for them. They said they'd guarantee me immunity. JİTEM was a unit established to fight terrorism, but they are dealing with every kind of business but terrorism, including extortion and assassinations," Kıskaç told the prosecution.

There are 248 dossiers containing evidence backing up the allegations brought by the prosecution against the suspects in the Ergenekon trial. The new documents reveal that retired Gen. Şener Eruygur, who was arrested but then released pending trial after suffering a severe fall and sustaining cerebral injuries, ordered his assistants to clean up any incriminating documents that might be found in his office during police raids. The dossiers include transcripts of a phone conversation between Eruygur and a woman named Nermin, apparently Eruygur's secretary. In response to the woman's questions regarding certain documents, Eruygur says: "Tear them apart; throw them away." The dossiers reveal that Eruygur hid a large number of confidential documents crucial to the organization's coup plots in his office.

Allegations put forward by a newsweekly accusing former military commanders of plotting a coup d'état have also made their way into the second indictment of the Ergenekon trial. The allegations leveled in the summer of 2007 by the Nokta newsweekly -- which claimed that in 2004 now-retired Adm. Özden Örnek and the four force commanders at the time had made plans to stage military coups to be named Ayışığı (Moonlight) and Sarıkız (Blonde Girl) -- will be brought before a court for the first time. The new dossiers include excerpts from Örnek's diary as well as personal notes of Ergenekon suspect and Cumhuriyet daily columnist Mustafa Balbay. Gen. Eruygur is accused of being the mastermind behind Moonlight and Blonde Girl, as well as two other coup plans the group called Yakamoz (Sea Sparkle) and Eldiven (Glove).

The documents also reveal that the group gathered intelligence and compiled lists of information about Justice and Development Party (AK Party) politicians. In these lists, some AK Party members are tagged with labels such as "Kurdish-Arab hybrid" and "Kurdish rebel Sheik Said's grandson." Next to one of these figures, a statement reads, "He is a leader in the mobilization of Kurdish population movements."

The organization also compiled detailed information on the politicians closest to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, including Mücahid Arslan, Hüseyin Besli, Cüneyt Zapsu, Egemen Bağış and Ömer Çelik. In addition to biographies and detailed information on these politicians, Eruygur's team also categorized AK Party politicians into two groups -- supporters of Erdoğan and supporters of Abdullah Gül.

The new dossiers also include evidence that generals planned to ban civilian political activity for at least two decades.

The second indictment accuses Eruygur of "establishing or leading an armed terrorist organization, recording private information of various individuals illegally, attempting to overthrow the government, influencing the judiciary, inciting people to armed revolt and attempting to destroy the Turkish Parliament." The prosecution demands three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole and an additional 142 to 246 years in jail without the possibility of parole.

Other evidence included in the dossiers reveals that the generals' coup-plotting group within the military, named the Republican Work Group (CÇG), actively supported Turkish Cypriot politician Rauf Denktaş.

Dink murder suspect and Dalan

The dossiers also include concrete evidence showing that Professor Ercüment Ovalı, who was arrested last year on suspicion of possible links to the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, had frequent meetings with fugitive Ergenekon suspect and former İstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan. This information was obtained from a phone conversation between Ergenekon suspect Kemal Aydın and Ovalı.

'I found Eruygur collapsed on the floor'

Retired Gen. Eruygur suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on Sept. 17, 2008, at Kandıra Prison, where he was jailed at the time. The new documents also include Ergenekon suspect and retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon's testimony to the prosecution about Eruygur's fall in prison, in which he sustained a head injury. In his testimony, Tolon is quoted as saying: "In the morning, I opened my eyes to a loud noise. I heard a noise between a snore and a grumble. The grumbling wasn't too far away. I got up, thinking I had fallen asleep in the wrong place. When I reached the stairs, I saw that he was lying on his back right at the spot where the stairs turned 90 degrees to the right, with his legs open like a V. I could see that he was breathing. I ran down the stairs. I tried to get him up, but he didn't come to. I started banging on the door so a security officer would come. One came within a minute or two."

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posted by u2r2h at 8:52 AM


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