The following text is an excerpt from the Executive Summary of the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) BRAIN Working Group. This project has broad implications. It supports the development technologies to manipulate the human brain. It has military applications including the development of Neuroweapons. (GR Ed. M. Ch.)

To Read the full text as well as access the BRAIN Interim Report click here

On April 2, 2013, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative to “accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought.” In response to this Grand Challenge, NIH convened a working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, to develop a rigorous plan for achieving this scientific vision. To ensure a swift start, the NIH Director asked the group to deliver an interim report identifying high priority research areas that should be considered for the BRAIN Initiative NIH funding in Fiscal Year 2014. These areas of priority are reflected in this report and, ultimately, will be incorporated into the working group’s broader scientific plan detailing a larger vision, timelines and milestones.

The goals voiced in the charge from the President and from the NIH Director are bold and ambitious. The working group agreed that in its initial stages, the best way to enable these goals is to accelerate technology development, as reflected in the name of the BRAIN Initiative: “Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.” The focus is not on technology per se, but on the development and use of tools for acquiring fundamental insight about how the nervous system functions in health and disease. In addition, since this initiative is only one part of the NIH’s substantial investment in basic and translational neuroscience, these technologies were evaluated for their potential to accelerate and advance other areas of neuroscience as well.

In analyzing these goals and the current state of neuroscience, the working group identified the analysis of circuits of interacting neurons as being particularly rich in opportunity, with potential for revolutionary advances. Truly understanding a circuit requires identifying and characterizing the component cells, defining their synaptic connections with one another, observing their dynamic patterns of activity in vivo during behavior, and perturbing these patterns to test their significance. It also requires an understanding of the algorithms that govern information processing within a circuit, and between interacting circuits in the brain as a whole. With these considerations in mind, the working group consulted extensively with the scientific community to evaluate challenges and opportunities in the field. Over the past four months, the working group met seven times and held workshops with invited experts to discuss technologies in chemistry and molecular biology; electrophysiology and optics; structural neurobiology; computation, theory, and data analysis; and human neuroscience (a full list of speakers and topics can be found in Appendix A). Workshop discussions addressed the value of appropriate experimental systems, animal and human models, and behavioral analysis. Each workshop included opportunity for public comments, which were valuable for considering the perspectives of patient advocacy groups, physicians, and members of the lay public.

Although we emphasize that this is an interim report, which will develop with much additional advice before June 2014, certain themes have already emerged that should become core principles for the NIH BRAIN Initiative.

To Read the full text a well as access the Interim report click here

 

US Aiming for More than Nuclear Deal in Iran

October 8th, 2013 by Stephen Gowans

US hostility to Iran didn’t begin with the latter enriching uranium. It began in 1979, when Iran extricated itself from US domination by overthrowing the US-backed Shah, who had been installed after the United States and Britain engineered the overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected, and economically nationalist, prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh irked the British and Americans by nationalizing his country’s oil industry. Ever since the Shah’s overthrow, Washington has been waging war on Iran, through a proxy (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq), by sanctions, assassinations, cyber-warfare and threats of military intervention. The goal is to bring Iran back under US domination. Ending Iran’s nuclear program—or more specifically, its domestic production of nuclear fuel—is only part of the larger goal.

Recently, there has been talk of relaxing” or “easing” (though not ending) sanctions and of a possible “thaw” in US-Iranian relations. Washington sees, in the new Iranian president, the possibility of concessions, and wants to facilitate Iran’s partial capitulation. Israel fears that Iran is sending false signals, and is playing for time.

Iran is seeking an end to sanctions and recognition of its right to enrich uranium. [1] This conflicts with Washington’s view that Iran has the right to nuclear energy, but not to domestic production of nuclear fuel. Washington wants Iran to:

• Halt work on a heavy water reactor at Arak (which could produce plutonium);
• Destroy the subterranean Fordo uranium enrichment facility (which is invulnerable to air attack);
• Suspend production of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity (deemed dangerously close to weapons grade);
• Relinquish its existing stockpile of nuclear fuel;
• Allow international inspectors to talk to Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (who has been hidden away, out of reach of Israeli assassins. [2]

Even if Iran acceded to all of Washington’s demands, a number of US sanctions would remain. These include sanctions intended to stop Iran from:

• Developing other weapons of mass destruction;
• Building ballistic missiles;
• Supporting Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad;
• Exercising influence in the Middle East;
• Exporting arms;
• Dealing with unrest and subversion at home (stoked by the misery created by Western sanctions);
• Monitoring and censoring domestic internet communications. [3]

In previous talks with Iran, US and European negotiators have offered to relax some sanctions. For example, they proposed to end trade sanctions banning exports of airplane parts to Iran, in return for Iran suspending domestic production of nuclear fuel. This is a mild trade sanction, hardly punitive in comparison to the ban on Iranian oil exports and isolation of Iranian banks that have taken a heavy toll on Iran’s economy and more to the point, on the lives of its people.

Background [4]

In return for forswearing the development of nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) grants to non-nuclear weapons states the right to develop and use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran is a member of the treaty, and its nuclear facilities are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA monitors have never reported that Iran has diverted nuclear material to military use.

Whether the right to develop and use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes includes the right to enrich uranium is disputed, but some NPT members, including Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands, have domestic uranium enrichment programs which operate without sanction or threat. Only Iran is denied this right.

Israel refused to become a member of the NPT, presumably to allow itself the option to develop nuclear weapons. The country has an estimated 400 nuclear warheads, and the aircraft, ballistic missiles and submarine-launched cruise missiles to deliver them anywhere in the Middle East. In contrast, even if Iran did have nuclear warheads, it hasn’t anywhere near the range of delivery options Israel has, and would struggle to develop them.

This raises an embarrassing question for the United States. Why is Iran the object of sanctions, bombing threats, cyber-warfare, and an assassination campaign targeting its nuclear scientist, despite its forswearing the development of nuclear weapons and opening its nuclear facilities to the IAEA, when Israel, which actually has nuclear weapons and refuses to join the NPT, faces no similar pressure? The answer, according to John Bolton, who was deputy secretary of arms control under George W. Bush, is that “The issue for us is what poses a threat to the United States.” In other words, the key here is not a nuclear weapons capability but whether the country that possesses it is under US domination.

The United States supplied the Shah’s Iran with the Tehran research reactor, which began operations in 1967, and is still used to produce medical isotopes. It is this reactor which requires uranium enriched to 20 percent purity. In 1974, with Washington’s approval, the Shah announced plans to build two reactors at Bushehr. At the time of the 1979 revolution, the reactors were nearing completion. After the revolution, the United States tore up its nuclear agreements with Iran and pressured other countries to treat the country as a pariah.

The history of Iran’s nuclear program can be divided into two periods: Before the revolution, and after. Before the revolution, the United States and other Western countries helped Iran acquire nuclear technology. After the revolution, they did their best to freeze Iran out.

In the mid-1980s, Iran asked the IAEA for assistance in enriching uranium. The NPT directs nuclear powers to furnish non-nuclear member states with information, equipment and materials for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The idea is that there’s a quid-pro-quo: non-nuclear states agree to foreswear nuclear weapons in return for the nuclear weapons states helping them develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Under US pressure, Iran’s request for assistance was rejected. With this avenue blocked, Iran turned to AQ Khan, the father of the Pakistan bomb. The AQ Khan network provided Iran with design information and equipment for uranium enrichment facilities, enabling Iran to build an enrichment plant at Natanz.

Crying Wolf

US, Israeli and other US-ally intelligence agencies, western politicians, and the western media, have cried wolf about Iran developing nuclear arms since the early 1980s. In 1984, Jane’s Defence Quarterly reported that Iran was “entering the final stage of the production of a bomb.” [5] In 1995, The New York Times reported that US and Israel officials believed that Iran would have nuclear weapons by the year 2000. [6] Thirteen years later, Iran still doesn’t have a bomb. “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany, and it’s racing to arm itself with atomic bombs,” warned Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in 2006. [7] Netanyahu has been raising the same alarm for years. In 1992, he predicted that Iran was three to five years away from producing a warhead. [8] Today, he says Iran is only a few months away from developing a nuclear bomb. With his egregiously bad record of prediction, Netanyahu has revealed himself to be a fear-monger, and an unreliable prognostic.

No intelligence agency has ever produced hard evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The IAEA has never found that Iran has diverted nuclear material to military use. The US intelligence community’s Intelligence Estimate says that Iran abandoned a nuclear weapons program in 2003. The opinion that Iran had a nuclear weapons program to abandon in the first place is probably based on Iran acquiring information and equipment from AQ Khan. [9] Whatever the case, the US intelligence community doesn’t believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons today, and has said so repeatedly. Even so, major US news media regularly assert that the West believes Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons. If so, who in any official capacity in the West truly believes this?

In 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed six resolutions on Iran’s nuclear energy program, demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program. But the Security Council had no legal basis to claim that Iran’s nuclear energy program is a threat to international peace and security, and therefore, no basis to pass its resolutions. To repeat:

• There is no evidence Iran has nuclear weapons.
• The country’s nuclear facilities are monitored by the IAEA.
• The IAEA hasn’t uncovered any diversion of nuclear material for military use. [10]

What’s more, Iran hasn’t attacked another country in 200 years. And if Iran’s enriching uranium is a threat to international peace and security, why isn’t Argentina’s, Brazil’s, Germany’s, Japan’s and the Netherland’s? The answer is plain from Bolton: They’re US satellites; Iran isn’t.

Double Standards

Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus argues that the Israelis insist Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons despite Tehran’s assurances they are not, because that’s what the Israelis themselves did. Pincus wrote that:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders continue to accuse Tehran of deceit in describing its nuclear program as peaceful.

Perhaps Netanyahu sees Iran following the path Israel took 50 years ago when it’s known that his country joined the relatively small nuclear weapons club.

Back in the 1960s, Israel apparently hid the nuclear weapons program being carried on at its Negev Nuclear Research Center (NNRC) at Dimona. It deceived not only the international community but also its close U.S. ally. It repeatedly pledged “it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area.”

In early 1966, at the time of a U.S. sale of F-4 fighter-bombers to Israel, the Johnson administration insisted that Israel reaffirm that pledge. “Foreign Minister Abba Eban told Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara that Israel did not intend to build nuclear weapons, ‘so we will not use your aircraft to carry weapons we haven’t got and hope we will never have,’” according to the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XVIII.

Sound familiar? Maybe that’s why Netanyahu was so tough Tuesday during his U.N. General Assembly speech when attacking Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s statements that Tehran’s nuclear program is peaceful. When the Israeli prime minister asked, “Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?” I thought Dimona.

According to the bipartisan, Washington-based, Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Machon 2 facility at Dimona “is reportedly the most sensitive building in the NNRC, with six floors underground dedicated to activities identified as plutonium extraction, production of tritium and lithium-6,” for use in nuclear weapons. [11]

The answer to Netanyahu’s question about why Iran would bury its enrichment facilities deep underground is obvious: to protect them from an Israeli air attack. Israel destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility in 1981 and bombed a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in 2007, and has repeatedly threatened to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. It would be criminally stupid not to hide enrichment facilities underground with Mars-worshiping Israel in the neighbourhood, since the Zionist settlers are bent on denying any country in the Middle East that is not under the sway of its patron, the United States, access to nuclear technology, whether for peaceful or military purposes.

The important point that Pincus misses is that Israel never joined the NPT, thereby giving itself the legal latitude to pursue nuclear weapons, but more importantly, remaining free from IAEA monitoring, which would have made keeping the development of nuclear weapons under wraps inordinately difficult, and more likely, impossible. A country that intends to develop nuclear weapons on the sly doesn’t want international inspectors poking around its nuclear installations. That’s why non-nuclear countries that have gone on to develop nuclear weapons have either not joined the NPT, or have withdrawn from it before embarking on nuclear weapons development. The fact that Iran continues to belong to the NPT and therefore submits to ongoing monitoring, even though its treaty rights have been abridged and nuclear member states have failed to live up to their treaty obligations to share nuclear technology and know-how with Iran, is a compelling reason to doubt the country is trying to follow the path Israel did of developing nuclear arms covertly.

Washington’s Aims

What Washington ultimately wants is the replacement of Iran’s independent government with a pliable regime, that is, regime change in Tehran—a return to the time before the 1979 revolution. A recent US Congressional Research Service report notes that “observers believe that the international community should offer incentives—such as promises of aid, investment, trade preferences, and other benefits—if Iran were to completely abandon uranium enrichment in Iran or were there to be a new regime formed in Iran (emphasis added.)” [12] If the goal of sanctions is to deter Iran from enriching uranium, why offer to lift sanctions were there to be a new regime formed in Tehran? In this can be glimpsed the ultimate aim of anti-Iran economic warfare: Not to force Tehran to relinquish its right to enrich uranium, but to install a new regime. The United States already allows its satellites Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands to enrich uranium, and doubtlessly would allow Iran to do the same were the regime in Tehran as committed to acquiescing to Washington’s leadership as US satellites are.

As it manoeuvres to bring about regime change in Tehran, the United States pursues its intermediate goal of containing Iran, to limit its influence. Crippling Iran’s economy through sanctions serves two goals: weakening Iran and warning other countries of what happens to those who do not submit to US hegemony. The prospect of Washington even relaxing some sanctions has agitated Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates who fear that, with some of the fetters on Iran’s economy removed, the country will be better able to challenge them economically. [14]

Many US sanctions against Iran and those of US satellites are rooted in the pretext that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program, or at the very least is developing a nuclear weapons capability, that must be stopped because it is a threat to Israel. Attributing a covert nuclear weapons program to Iran while propagating a farrago of nonsense about Iran seeking to annihilate Israel militarily, allows Israel to remain militarily bulked up and immune from calls to relinquish its weapons of mass destruction, ostensibly in order to defend itself, but actually to be intimidating enough to act as Washington’s policeman on the beat. How, it is asked, can Israel disarm when its security is under unceasing threat from hostile neighbors? The necessity of guarding against a wide array of vastly exaggerated threats is a pretext all aggressive powers use, including the United States and Britain, to justify the maintenance of vast and multifariously dangerous arsenals, less for self-defense and more for aggression and to cow other countries into submission. Britain, for example, says it needs its nuclear arsenal for self-defense, but denies that North Korea needs nuclear weapons for the same purpose. However, of the pair, North Korea is the most likely to come under attack. Indeed, it has been the object of unceasing hostility from the world’s greatest military power for over six decades. The chances of Britain being attacked, even absent its nuclear weapons, are about as great as the chances that nuclear-weapons-free Canada will be—approximately zero.

Iran’s military capabilities pale in comparison with those of Israel, which are subsidized by the United States. Moreover, Israel’s security is vouchsafed by US military power. Iran poses no military threat to Israel of consequence, and, even in possession of a few warheads, would be greatly outclassed by Israel, both in the size of sophistication of its nuclear arsenal, and in the means of delivery. As a supporter of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, Iran is more of a nuisance to Israel than a direct threat. The idea that a nuclear-weapons-equipped Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel is a canard, of no more substance than Netanyahu’s frequent warnings, dating back to the early 1990s, that Iran is on the threshold of going nuclear.

Regime Change

Sanctions are a pathway to regime change. Their purpose is to create enough suffering that Iranians will rise in revolt and open the gate from within. That economic warfare has created suffering is not in doubt. Oil sales, which account for 80 percent of the country’s revenue, have been halved. Iran’s foreign exchange reserves have dwindled. Financing business deals has become terribly complicated. [14] Sanctions are deliberately disruptive.

Bahman Eshghi, who owns a bus manufacturing company, told The New York Times that “he ‘nearly had a heart attack’ when he found out that President Obama had imposed sanctions against any company working with Iran’s automotive industry. ‘That’s me,’ he said. ‘I feed 100 families in a city where nobody has work. Is Mr. Obama waging economic war on our leaders or on us?’ [15]

The answer is that Obama is waging war on ordinary Iranians. When the hardships the US government imposes become unendurable, it’s hoped that ordinary Iraninas will rise in revolt and topple their government, allowing Obama or his successors to install a US puppet, to return Iran to its status before the 1979 revolution. At that point, if it is ever reached, US foreign policy goals for Iran will have come to fruition.

There’s little chance of Washington significantly relieving its pressure on Iran. The United States may make insignificant concessions in return for Iran curtailing its production of nuclear fuel. This would leave Iran dependent on the West for fuel to power its reactors, and therefore more pliant, and more apt to make concessions on other matters, from reducing support to its Axis of Resistance partners to “reforming” its economy to accommodate Wall Street. Apart from making these minor concessions, it’s difficult to see Washington lifting sanctions en masse or normalizing relations with Iran until a pliant puppet regime has taken up residence in Tehran. For Washington, the name of the game is regime change. Arms control alone falls well short of the goal-line.

Notes

1. Michael Schwirtz and David E. Sanger, “Dueling narratives in Iran over U.S. relations”, The New York Times, September 29, 2013.

2. David E. Sanger, “Big challenges remain despite progress on Iran”, The New York Times, September 28, 2013; Jodi Rudoren, “Israel and others in Mideast view overtures of U.S. and Iran with suspicion”, The New York Times, September 28, 2013.

3. Kenneth Katzman, “Iran Sanctions”, Congressional Research Service, July 26, 2013.

4. This section based on Peter Oborne and David Morrison, A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran, Elliot and Thompson, London, 2013.

5. Oborne and Morrison.

6. Oborne and Morrison.

7. Joel Greenberg, “Benjamin Netanyahu invokes Holocaust in push against Iran”, The Washington Post, February 29, 2012.

8. Oborne and Morrison.

9. Oborne and Morrison.

10. Oborne and Morrison.

11. Walter Pincus, “Fineprint: A new approach for Israel?” The Washington Post, October 2, 2013.

12. Katzman.

13. Sanger; Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, “Netanyahu, in U.N. speech, assails Iran’s new president”, The Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2013.

14. Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran staggers as sanctions hit economy”, The New York Times, September 30, 2013.

15. Erdbrink.

In September 2013 the US National Institutes of Health ( NIH) issued an report titled, “Interim Report: Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) working group.” The report has extensively examined President Barack Obama’s brain project, which mentions the need to develop electromagnetic modulation as a new technology for brain circuit manipulation. In the meantime, the weekend edition of the Guardian newspaper in London published an article which explains that brain drugs will likely be replaced by brain circuit manipulation; this is a huge change from drug research to brain circuit research which is now heavily funded and taking off.

AHRC-STM-174-2013.jpg“New technologies such as optogenetics suggest that even finer control of brain circuits may be possible,” Vaughan Bell, who is a clinical psychologist and visiting researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, pointed in her article in the Guardian.

“While deep brain stimulation involves stimulating the brain with electrical currents, optogenetics involves injecting neurons with a benign virus that contains the genetic information for light-sensitive proteins. The brain cells then become light sensitive themselves and their activity can be controlled with millisecond flashes of light sent through embedded fibre optic cables. Until now, this has only been demonstrated in animals but there are high hopes that it could lead to precisely controlled treatments in humans that intervene only in carefully selected brain circuits,” she examined.

The Interim Report of NIH on the other hand carefully highlighted that “directly activating and inhibiting populations of neurons, neuroscience is progressing from observation to causation, and much more is possible. To enable the immense potential of circuit manipulation, a new generation of tools for optogenetics, pharmacogenetics, and biochemical and electromagnetic modulation should be developed for use in animals and eventually in human patients. Emphasis should be placed on achieving modulation of circuits in patterns that mimic natural activity.”

The threat is real. The NIH Interim Report is another of many indications that brain technology for neuroweapons is scientifically possible. Additionally, some say such technologies have been used systematically against select people in various jurisdictions. Many definitions on certain precedures and practices have to be revisited due to the many legal loop holes that allow for real criminals to commit illegal activities.

Our latest issue of Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives (Volume 02, Number 2 & 3) features as its main story, the inside story of a US mind control project. Ms. Cheryl Welsh, who is the director of a small human rights organization in the US, has been examining, on an in-depth level, this issue, exclusively for us. It is a privilege for us to present her long term research paper and we believe this will be a worthy contribution to a larger, critical debate on the use of neuroweapons. Currently, the dialectic on the new neuroscience programs is extremely one sided and lacking in an awareness of the likelihood of neuroweapons; there is a great need for a more balanced dialogue on a global level in the future as well.

Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives is a bi-monthly magazine which focuses on torture and its related issues globally. Writers interested in having their research on this subject published, may submit their articles to [email protected]

Copyright Asian Human Rights Commission, 2013

New History of Nuclear Weapons Control (and Lack Thereof) Cites National Security Archive Documents on War Plans, Nuclear Accidents, and Command Systems

Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control Wins High Praise from Reviewers, Calls Archive “A National Treasure”

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 442

A nuclear accident never produced a nuclear detonation, but according to a new book by Eric Schlosser every nuclear-tipped missile “is an accident waiting to happen, a potential act of mass murder.” Schlosser’s book,Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety (Penguin Press, 2013) includes a truly sobering account of safety breakdowns and failures from the 1950s to the 1980s. All readers will be impressed by the assiduousness of his research, the doggedness of his Freedom of Information Act requesting, and the great care which he has taken to pin down assertions in a great variety of primary and secondary sources. In this connection, staffers at The National Security Archive appreciate Schlosser’s kind words:

I am especially grateful for the work of the National Security Archive, based at George Washington University, which for almost three decades has been obtaining documents through the Freedom of Information Act and suing federal agencies when they are denied but also to hold it accountable for that behavior. The archive is a national treasure. Its digital collections proved invaluable to my research (p. 488).

Command and Control has received high praise from reviewers inThe New York Times, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle,and The New Yorker, among other publications.[1] All agree that it is an outstanding and original account of U.S. nuclear accidents and the efforts by top leaders and government experts to “put some sort of harness on nuclear weaponry” (Louis Menand, The New Yorker). The heart of the book, an extraordinarily striking and gripping account of the 1980 Titan II accident, has won deserved acclaim. According to Nina Tannenwald, in The San Francisco Chronicle, “Schlosser has written a powerful reminder that nuclear weapons are never really ‘safe’ despite the fact that safety measures have so far worked.” She further observes that the book might help create more support for President Obama’s proposal for nuclear abolition.[2]

To show how Eric Schlosser mined the Archive’s holdings in the Nuclear Vault and the Digital National Security Archive presented below are a sampling of documents cited in the endnotes. Almost all of them were declassified as the result of specific requests by the National Security Archive or were otherwise found through research at the U.S. National Archives. The document selection mirrors key themes in his book—control arrangements over nuclear weapons, command-and-control systems, nuclear accidents, and war plans.


THE DOCUMENTS

Document 1A-C: Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, for Atomic Energy , History of the Custody and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons (U) July 1945 – September 1977, February 1978, Top Secret, excised copy

A: Front matter through chapter 13

B: Chapter 14 through chapter 21, Summation, and Bibliography

C: Appendices

Source: FOIA request to Defense Department

Cited several times by Schlosser, this history was declassified in the late 1990s in response to FOIA requests by the Archive and the Natural Resources Defense Council. This release included an excised list of nuclear deployments sites by country that provided enough clues to enable Robert S. Norris, William Arkin, and the present editor to figure out and publish in the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists the names of all countries where the U.S. military deployed nuclear weapons during the Cold War.[3]

A new declassification review of this history is long overdue, but U.S. government rules and regulations hobble the declassification of “formerly restricted data,” even on the names of most countries where Washington deployed nuclear weapons. Until the rules are changed it is unlikely that significant new information will be declassified from this history.[4]

Document 2: L. Wainstein et al., The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning, 1945-1972 , Institute for Defense Analyses, June 1975, Top Secret

Source: FOIA request; also in National Security Archive published collection, U.S. Nuclear History: Nuclear Weapons and Politics in the Missile Era, 1955-68 , Washington, D.C., 1998), also available on Digital National Security Archive

One of the themes in Schlosser’s book is the fear that top U.S. government officials had of “decapitation,” that the Soviets would launch a first strike against the White House and other government command-and-control facilities and thereby destroy U.S. capabilities to launch a coordinated response. Cited numerous times by the author, the “eye-opening” Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] study, The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning provides significant detail on those concerns as they developed from the late 1950s into the early 1970s.

The IDA study was declassified by the Pentagon in the early 1990s in response to a National Security Archive Freedom of Information Act request. Initially prepared as supporting material for the Defense Department’s top secret History of the Strategic Arms Competition, 1945-1972 by Ernest May, Thomas Wolfe, and John Steinbruner, this study is invaluable because of its comprehensive treatment of the development of U.S. command-control-communications systems and the incessant high-level concern about their vulnerabilities. It includes fascinating detail on nuclear war plans, the first overseas deployments of U.S. nuclear weapons, nuclear stockpile numbers, and warning systems from the Dew Line to the Defense Support Program, among others.

Document 3: Memorandum from Secretary of Defense McNamara to McGeorge Bundy et al., 7 November 1963, enclosing Draft Memorandum to the President, “National Deep Underground Command Center as a Key FY 1965 Budget Consideration,” 7 November 1963, Top Secret

Source: National Archives, Robert McNamara Papers, box 119, Reading File (Nov 1963)

Schlosser cites one proposed solution to the command-and-control vulnerability problem that Robert McNamara suggested in November 1963: a “deep underground command center.” To be built 3,500 feet below the Pentagon and connected to the White House by tunnels, this “logical survivable node” would be built to withstand “multiple direct hits of 200 300 MT [megaton] weapons bursting at the surface or 100 MT weapons penetrating to depths of 70 to 100 feet.” The DUCC was never built, partly because it was not big enough to suit the JCS, although the proposal makes one wonder whether it influenced the underground shelter constructed at the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory during Richard Cheney’s tenure in office.

Document 4 : Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Secretariat, Historical Division, Joint Chiefs of Staff Special Historical Study, A Historical Study of Strategic Connectivity, 1950-1981 , July 1982, Top Secret

Source: FOIA appeal to the Department of Defense

Schlosser cites this recently declassified study in a long endnote on page 571. Like the IDA history prepared some years earlier, this historical report demonstrates the enduring concern about command-and-control vulnerabilities and their impact on decisions and developments during the Carter and Reagan administrations. Quoting an account of a Pentagon study by James Wade, Schlosser drew this implication: “the only nuclear war that the United States could hope to win would be one in which it launched first.”

Documents 5A-B: Nuclear Accident in Morocco, January 1958

A: State Department memorandum of conversation, “Sidi Slimane Air Accident Involving Plane Loaded with Nuclear Weapon [sic],” 31 January 1958, Secret

B: Letter from George L. West, Jr. to B.T.E.L “Lane” Timmons, 19 February 1958, Secret

SourceNational Archives, Record Group 59, Department of State Records, Records of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy and Outer Space, Records Relating to Atomic Energy Matters, 1944-1963, box 340, 18.1 Aircraft Carrying Nuclear Weapons—Accidents, 1958 and 1960; also in Digital National Security Archive]

Schlosser’s account of U.S. nuclear accidents is truly sobering. One of them, the Goldsboro, North Carolina, incident, when an H-bomb fell out of a B-52, recently received major press coverage. All of the incidents have been reported before, but by seeking declassification of key documents, Schlosser provides fresh perspective and new information.[5] In a few instances, he cites documents on nuclear accidents published by the Archive, including several on the accident at Sidi Slimane Air Force Base in Morocco in late January 1958: a B-47 caught on fire and the plutonium in the nuclear weapon onboard melted into the runway.

Document 6: Vulnerable Jupiter Missile Deployments, 1961

Executive Session, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Meeting Number 87-1-4, 20 February 1961

Source: National Archives, Record Group 128, Joint Committees of Congress, Records of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, box 10, Executive Session, Feb. 20, 1961, published in The Digital National Security Archive

During the early 1960s, until the Cuban missile crisis settlement led to their removal, the United States deployed Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in Italy and Turkey. Seen as first strike, “use them or lose them” weapons, the Jupiters were highly vulnerable which encouraged some officials to seek their removal even before the Cuban crisis. These concerns permeated the thinking of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and Schlosser provides extraordinary quotations from Committee members. While the arrangements included a two-person rule so that no individual could use the key to fire the weapons autonomously, Congressman Chet Holifield (D-Ca) thought this was a charade: “all the [Italians] have to do is hit [the U.S. officer] with a blackjack and they have got his key.” Moreover, the missiles were vulnerable to sabotage: the missiles were standing in a field and “can be knocked out with 3 rifle bullets.”

Documents 7A-C: Nuclear War Plans

A:Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, History & Research Division, History of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff: Background and Preparation of SIOP-62, n.d., Top Secret, excised copy

B: Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, History & Research Division, History of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff: Preparation of SIOP-63, January 1964, Top Secret, Excised copy

C: Carl Kaysen to General Maxwell Taylor, Military Representative to the President, “Strategic Air Planning and Berlin,” 5 September 1961, Top Secret, excised copy, with cover memoranda to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer, released to National Security Archive (appeal pending at Department of Defense).

Source for document C: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (hereinafter RG 218), Records of Maxwell Taylor (Document under appeal at Department of Defense)

A significant element in Schlosser’s narrative is the counterforce strategy which was central to U.S. strategic war plans; top priority went to massive attacks on an adversary’s nuclear forces and delivery systems. Schlosser cites two histories of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), both of which demonstrate how counterforce objectives drove strategic targeting. According to these histories, the destructiveness that inhered in the SIOP worried Army and Navy leaders, who saw “overkill,” but Air Force leaders saw valid levels of lethal force. As Schlosser notes, Eisenhower had originally opposed “100 percent pulverization of the Soviet Union” and learned from his science adviser that the new SIOP included “unnecessary and undesirable overkill.” Nevertheless, in one of his last actions as president, Eisenhower chose not to rock the boat; he approved the first SIOP, without requesting any changes.

As Schlosser indicates, President Kennedy and his advisers believed that the SIOP was dangerously rigid because it was a one-shot plan that aimed to destroy the entire “Sino-Soviet” bloc; they sought more flexible, less destructive war plans that gave the president some choices in a crisis. Schlosser has an interesting discussion of some of the thinking that emerged from these discussions, Carl Kaysen’s proposal for a selective first strike if a crisis over West Berlin access emerged. While Schlosser characterizes the Kaysen study as a “war plan,” it was more in the way of a concept for a plan. President Kennedy wanted to know what options were available if tensions over Berlin escalated, but the situation never reached the point, as Schlosser suggests on page 293, that the White House had a meeting on “whether to launch a surprise attack.”

Documents 8A-B: Predelegation

A: Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, Memorandum of Conference with the President, June 27, 1958 – 11:05 AM,” 30 June 1958, Top Secret.

Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Records of the White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, NSC Series, Subject Subseries, box 1, file: Atomic Weapons, Corresp. & Background for Pres. Approval & Instructions for Use of (2)

B: ” Instructions for the Expenditure of Nuclear Weapons in Accordance with the Presidential Authorization Dated May 22, 1957,” revised between 28 January 1959 and 12 May 1960, Top Secret, Excised Copy, 23 pp.

Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Records of the White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, NSC Series, Subject Subseries, box 1, file: Atomic Weapons, Corresp. & Background for Pres. Approval & Instructions for Use of (1)

Both first posted in “First Declassification of Eisenhower’s Instructions to Commanders Predelegating Nuclear Weapons Use, 1959-1960,” at http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB45/

Schlosser observes that “even more secret” than the war plans, which were “one of the “most closely guarded secrets,” were the presidential authorizing instructions to top commanders for the emergency use of nuclear weapons in a situation where the President was either missing or killed from a nuclear attack. These instructions were so sensitive that Eisenhower said that he was “very fearful of having written papers on this matter,” but in fact “written papers” had to be prepared so that top commanders would know when and how they could act under specified circumstances. Subsequent presidents would modify the instructions, for example, by authorizing non-nuclear responses in certain circumstances; predelegation instructions secretly stayed on the books for years. Both of these documents were declassified through requests to the Eisenhower Library by the National Security Archive.

Document 9: C.H. Builder, D. C. Kephart, and A. Laupa, “The U.S. ICBM Force: Current Issues and Future Options,” RAND Corporation, PR-1754-R, October 1975, Secret, excised copy

Source: FOIA release by U.S. Air Force

Schlosser cites and quotes this report in his discussion of launch-on-warning posture. The authors of this report looked closely at a number of problems, including the possible vulnerability of Minuteman ICBMs to preemptive attack. The authors saw “launch-under-attack-assessment” as one method for preserving the Minuteman force from attack. Highlighting “attack assessment” instead of “warning,” their term presaged one that would come into vogue within a few years: “launch under attack.” Further, their definition of attack assessment showed that the authors sought more authoritative reliance than satellite warning systems: to avoid a precipitous missile launch, they suggested that a “launch decision” would depend in part on “confirmed reports” that Soviet warheads had detonated “in the U.S. heartland.”

To support launch-under-attack assessment, the authors argued that “the technical capabilities to launch ICBMs on attack assessment should be developed for their deterrence value–so that no adversary would dare assume that the U.S. could not launch the force out from any attempted disarming attack.” Nevertheless, they warned against an open declaration of such a policy because launch-on-warning was so controversial: “it would be rigorously opposed as both dangerous and unstable (an accident could theoretically precipitate a nuclear war).” The authors also argued that the matter of ICBM survivability alone should not determine a decision to launch on attack assessment. Implicitly, the danger of nuclear war was too terrible to allow the “assurance of ICBM retaliatory capabilities [to] rest upon such an awesome commitment.”

Document 10: Minutes, National Security Council Meeting, “SALT (and Angola)”, 22 December 1975, Top Secret, excised copy

Source: Gerald R. Ford Library, National Security Council Meetings Files, Box 2

Schlosser quotes a discussion during a National Security Council meeting where some officials raised doubts about launch-on-warning while others supported for such a posture. Discussing a worst-case scenario–a Soviet ICBM attack on U.S. Minuteman silos–Secretary of State Henry Kissinger showed how difficult it would be for Soviet leaders to contemplate such an attack. Not only could the United States respond by launching SLBMs and bombers, it could also launch ICBMs on warning; the Minuteman force alone could produce 80 million Soviet casualties. When ACDA Director Fred Ikle mentioned the risks of a launch-on-warning posture–”accident prone” and “dangerous”–Kissinger implied it was already an available option by suggesting that command-and-control arrangements could be fixed to ensure that missiles were never launched without “presidential authority.”

Kissinger and top Pentagon officials were more interested in preserving the ambiguity of the U.S. posture so that the Soviets could not know with any certainty that, in Kissinger’s words, the United States had a “launch-on-warning policy.” Ambiguity would complicate Soviet nuclear planning; the policymakers wanted to keep Moscow guessing. Further, as National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft suggested, it was “not to our disadvantage if we appear irrational to the Soviets in this regard.” The implication was that such a tack could make the Soviets nervous and encourage diplomatic caution.


NOTES

[1] Even critical reviewers such as Gerard DeGroot in The Telegraph (26 September 2013), who finds the book hyberbolic, concedes that “it is perhaps right that we should exaggerate the threat of these weapons, since they are indeed horrible … Maybe it’s not a bad thing if the effect is greater vigilance.” DeGroot suggests that only a “few cows” would have been killed if a 20 megaton warhead had somehow exploded, but this attempt at humor significantly understates the terrible effects of such weapons. Farmers and their families and residents of nearby small towns would have been incinerated and prevailing winds could have dumped radioactive fallout on such nearby cities as Memphis, TN, with all the dangers to public health that would involve.

[2] Some readers will be surprised that, despite Schlosser’s warnings about the nuclear danger, he dismisses abolition as a serious long-range option.

[3] Robert S. Norris, William Arkin, and William Burr, “Where They Were,” and “How Much Did Japan Know?,”The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December 1999 and January-February 2000 respectively (may be available to subscribers only).

[5] Robert S. Norris, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents: Dangers in Our Midst,” The Defense Monitor, (1981).

Tokyo is to foot a $3.1 billion bill, which is part of the cost for relocating American troops from Okinawa. For the first time, it will also host US long-range surveillance drones, which would help to monitor disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The cost-sharing agreement for the troop transfer and the future deployment of drones by next spring are both part of an effort aimed at updating the US-Japan military and diplomatic alliance.

The pledge to modernize the alliance for the first time in 16 years was made in a joint declaration during the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who met their Japanese counterparts, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd R) and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera pose for photos at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on October 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd R) and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera pose for photos at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on October 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Japan hosts some 50,000 American soldiers and officers, particularly in Okinawa. Their presence is a constant source of tension with local populations due to crimes committed by the servicemen, disruptions caused by military flights and land use by the US military.

Last year the countries announced a plan to relocate about 9,000 US Marines from Okinawa to other locations. 5,000 of them will go to Guam while others will be stationed elsewhere. The estimated cost of the relocation is about $8.6 billion.

A file picture taken on April 24, 2010 shows planes and helicopters stationed at the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa prefecture. (AFP Photo)

A file picture taken on April 24, 2010 shows planes and helicopters stationed at the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa prefecture. (AFP Photo)

Japan will cover $3.1 billion of that sum, the officials from the two countries announced on Thursday. The cost includes development of new facilities in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

As the foot soldiers leave, US Global Hawk unmanned aircraft will be arriving, marking the first time that American drones will be stationed on Japanese soil on a permanent basis. Two or three long-range spy drones will be placed at a US base to help monitor Japan’s territory.

While the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea was not mentioned in the documents, the islands contested by Japan, China and Taiwan was a prevailing topic in public speeches after the signing.

Hagel said the US reiterated that it recognizes Japan’s administration of the islands and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defense treaty.

“We strongly oppose any unilateral or coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administrative control,” he said.

The US will also deploy second X-band early warning radar in Japan. Officials were careful to stress that it will be directed against North Korea rather than China, and will help track down and probably intercept missiles coming from the defiant state. The plan to deploy radar was first announced by the then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about a year ago. The new system will be placed at Kyogamisaki air base in Kyoto prefecture in western Japan to complement already existing radar in the northern part of Japan.

 

This March 22, 2013 handout image provided by the US Navy shows the Sea-based, X-band Radar (SBX 1) transits the waters of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (AFP Photo/US Navy)

This March 22, 2013 handout image provided by the US Navy shows the Sea-based, X-band Radar (SBX 1) transits the waters of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (AFP Photo/US Navy)

Beijing however may not be convinced by the assurances. It has criticized the installation of the inaugural military radar, saying it could disrupt the strategic military balance in the region and destabilize the situation.

Other plans to boost US military presence in Japan include possible deployment of F-35 jet fighters around 2017, a top UN official told AP. There is also a plan to send Navy P-8 anti-submarine aircraft later this year – the first time the sub-killers deployment outside of US.

The upgrade also expands cooperation in areas like counter-terrorism and cyber warfare. The Internet threat is the one that Japan sometimes cannot defend itself against with the systems it currently has, Kazunori Kimura, the Defense Ministry’s director of cyber-defense planning, told Reuters.

Frank Giustra – key power broker and close colleague of former President Bill Clinton – has taken a seat on the Board of Directors of U.S. Oil Sands, an Alberta-based company aiming to develop tar sands deposits in Utah’s Uintah Basin.

U.S. Oil Sands – in naming several new members to its Board – also announced it has received $80 million in “strategic financing” from Blue Pacific Investments Group Ltd., Anchorage Capital Group, L.L.C. and Spitfire Ventures, LLC.

The funding will help get the ball rolling on “tar sands south,” a miniature but increasingly controversial version of its big brother to the north, the Alberta tar sands. Giustra will likely help in opening the right doors for tar sands industry interests in the United States.

Giusta is best known for his work in the worlds of uranium mining and minerals mining, though he has dabbled in the Alberta tar sands finance world once before, lending upwards of $20 million in capital to Excelsior Energy. He serves as CEO and President of Fiore Financial Corporation.

Founder and Director of the Radcliffe Foundation and Co-Director of the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (formerly known as the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative), Frank Giustra has maintained close ties with Bill Clinton since 2005.

The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative is an arm of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation (the Clinton Foundation). Giustra sits on the Clinton Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Giustra also sits on the Board of Directors of Petromanas Energy Inc., an oil and gas company with assets including 1.1 million acres in Albania, 170,000 acres in France and 1.6 million acres in Australia.

Clinton and Giustra have been instrumental in forging a major oil deal in Colombia and a major nuclear uranium mining deal in Kazakhstan, among other things.

Opening Doors in Colombia

In a February 2008 article, ”Clinton Used Giustra’s Plane, Opened Doors for Deals,” Bloomberg mapped out the close relationship between Clinton and Giustra that began in 2005. 

“Clinton was borrowing [Giustra's private jet] to begin a four-day speaking tour of Latin America that would pay him $800,000,” Bloomberg detailed. “Frank Giustra…was forming a friendship that would make him part of the former president’s inner circle and gain him introductions to presidents of Kazakhstan and Colombia.”

Clinton’s effort to connect Giustra to former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was related to oil developments.

Alvaro Uribe; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp., spent more than $250 million to purchase control of a company that operated Colombian oil fields in conjunction with Ecopetrol S.A., the national oil company,” explained The Wall Street Journal. ”Pacific Rubiales has also signed a pipeline deal with Ecopetrol and been invited by the Colombian national petroleum agency to do further oil-development work in the country.”

Giustra’s Endeavor Financial Corporation provided the money for the Pacific Rubiales buyout, where he served as Chairman from 2001-2007. Giustra’s Fiore Financial Corporation maintains an “exclusive strategic alliance” with Endeavor Financial, which “provide[s] Endeavour with unique deal making and investment capabilities.”

Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership lists Pacific Rubiales, the Colombian government and Endeavor Mining (the mining wing of Endeavor Financial Corporation) among its current PartnersThe Wall Street Journal explained that Pacific Rubiales gave over $3 million to the Partnership, and Giustra put over $100 million of his own cash into the pot.

From Kazakhstani Uranium Shell Company to Clinton Foundation Trustee

Giustra’s self-serving philantrophy also took him and Clinton to Kazakhstan in September 2007, as documented in a January 2008 New York Times investigation.

Paralleling their Colombia activities, Clinton played the role of “doorman,” opening doors for Giustra to meet key leaders in the giant Central Asian state.

Map of Kazakhstan; Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Within two days [of the beginning of the trip], corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company [UrAsia Energy Ltd.] signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom,” wrote The Times.

“The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra.”

Like in Colombia, the deal was a win-win for Clinton and Giustra.

“Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra,” The Times further explained.

“The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle…Giustra [also] co-produced a gala 60th birthday for Mr. Clinton that featured stars like Jon Bon Jovi and raised about $21 million for the Clinton Foundation.”

Jon Bon Jovi; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Within a year and a half, Giustra sold off his stake in the Kazatomprom joint venture for $3.1 billion, which he had originally purchased for $450 million.

Giustra, Clinton Opening Doors for US Tar Sands Development?

With their history of partnering up on business deals worldwide, front-line Utah environmental activists fear the Uintah Basin could be next on the list for Frank Giustra and Bill Clinton.

“There have been efforts to squeeze oil from the tar sands and oil shale along the Colorado Plateau for decades, and ultimately these projects fail due to their experimental, energy intensive, and risky nature,” Jessica Lee, an activist with Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance said in an interview with DeSmogBlog.

Giustra’s presence on the Board, Lee believes, may give U.S. tar sands the credibility they currently lack in the eyes of capital investors.

“The real risk here is that investors will view Giustra and the other board members involvement as attractive, and will throw their own money away into a speculative investment,” she said. “Frank Giustra will not stay behind to clean up the mess U.S. Oil Sands leaves, pocketing whatever money he can and leaving Utah with a wasteland.”

“U.S. hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s divided rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed political opposition coalition and announced the formation of an alliance dedicated to creating an Islamist state. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group.” 1

Pity the poor American who wants to be a good citizen, wants to understand the world and his country’s role in it, wants to believe in the War on Terrorism, wants to believe that his government seeks to do good … What is he to make of all this?

For about two years, his dear American government has been supporting the same anti-government side as the jihadists in the Syrian civil war; not total, all-out support, but enough military hardware, logistics support, intelligence information, international political, diplomatic and propaganda assistance (including the crucial alleged-chemical-weapons story), to keep the jihadists in the ball game. Washington and its main Mideast allies in the conflict – Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – have not impeded the movement to Syria of jihadists coming to join the rebels, recruited from the ranks of Sunni extremist veterans of the wars in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, while Qatar and the Saudis have supplied the rebels with weapons, most likely bought in large measure from the United States, as well as lots of of what they have lots of – money.

This widespread international support has been provided despite the many atrocities carried out by the jihadists – truck and car suicide bombings (with numerous civilian casualties), planting roadside bombs à la Iraq, gruesome massacres of Christians and Kurds, grotesque beheadings and other dissections of victims’ bodies (most charming of all: a Youtube video of a rebel leader cutting out an organ from the chest of a victim and biting into it as it drips with blood). All this barbarity piled on top of a greater absurdity – these Western-backed, anti-government forces are often engaged in battle with other Western-backed, anti-government forces, non-jihadist. It has become increasingly difficult to sell this war to the American public as one of pro-democracy “moderates” locked in a good-guy-versus-bad-guy struggle with an evil dictator, although in actuality the United States has fought on the same side as al Qaeda on repeated occasions before Syria. Here’s a brief survey:

Afghanistan, 1980-early 1990s: In support of the Islamic Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”), the CIA orchestrated a war against the Afghan government and their Soviet allies, pouring in several billions of dollars of arms and extensive military training; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year; pressuring and bribing Pakistan to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary.

It worked. And out of the victorious Moujahedeen came al Qaeda.

Bosnia, 1992-5: In 2001 the Wall Street Journal declared:

It is safe to say that the birth of al-Qaeda as a force on the world stage can be traced directly back to 1992, when the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in their Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. … for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. 2

A few months later, The Guardian reported on “the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in “the war against terrorism”. 3

In 1994 and 1995 US/NATO forces carried out bombing campaigns over Bosnia aimed at damaging the military capability of the Serbs and enhancing that of the Bosnian Muslims. In the decade-long civil wars in the Balkans, the Serbs, regarded by Washington as the “the last communist government in Europe”, were always the main enemy.

Kosovo, 1998-99: Kosovo, overwhelmingly Muslim, was a province of Serbia, the main republic of the former Yugoslavia. In 1998, Kosovo separatists – The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – began an armed conflict with Belgrade to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs. 4

However, when US-NATO forces began military action against the Serbs the KLA was taken off the US terrorist list, it “received official US-NATO arms and training support” 5 , and the 1999 US-NATO bombing campaign eventually focused on driving Serbian forces from Kosovo.

In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it. But the United States was the first to do so, the very next day, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory.

The KLA have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

Nota bene: In 1992 the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs reached agreement in Lisbon for a unified state. The continuation of a peaceful multi-ethnic Bosnia seemed assured. But the United States sabotaged the agreement. 6

Libya, 2011: The US and NATO to the rescue again. For more than six months, almost daily missile attacks against the government and forces of Muammar Gaddafi as assorted Middle East jihadists assembled in Libya and battled the government on the ground. The predictable outcome came to be – the jihadists now in control of parts of the country and fighting for the remaining parts. The wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, presumably CIA, in the city of Benghazi.

Caucasus (Russia), mid-2000s to present: The National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House have for many years been the leading American “non-government” institutions tasked with destabilizing, if not overthrowing, foreign governments which refuse to be subservient to the desires of US foreign policy. Both NGOs have backed militants in the Russian Caucasus area, one that has seen more than its share of terror stretching back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s. 7

“Omission is the most powerful form of lie.” – George Orwell

I am asked occasionally why I am so critical of the mainstream media when I quote from them repeatedly in my writings. The answer is simple. The American media’s gravest shortcoming is much more their errors of omission than their errors of commission. It’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. So I can make good use of the facts they report, which a large, rich organization can easier provide than the alternative media.

A case in point is a New York Times article of October 5 on the Greek financial crisis and the Greeks’ claim for World War Two reparations from Germany.

“Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations,” writes the Times, but Germany “should pay off its own debts to Greece. … It is not just aging victims of the Nazi occupation who are demanding a full accounting. Prime Minister Antonis Samarass government has compiled an 80-page report on reparations and a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945. … The call for reparations has elicited an emotional outpouring in Greece, where six years of brutal recession and harsh austerity measures have left many Greeks hostile toward Germany. Rarely does a week go by without another report in the news about, as one newspaper put it in a headline, ‘What Germany Owes Us’.”

“The figure most often discussed is $220 billion, an estimate for infrastructure damage alone put forward by Manolis Glezos, a member of Parliament and a former resistance fighter who is pressing for reparations. That amount equals about half the country’s debt. … Some members of the National Council on Reparations, an advocacy group, are calling for more than $677 billion to cover stolen artifacts, damage to the economy and to the infrastructure, as well as the bank loan and individual claims.”

So there we have the morality play: The evil Germans who occupied Greece and in addition to carrying out a lot of violence and repression shamelessly exploited the Greek people economically.

Would it be appropriate for such a story, or an accompanying or follow-up story, to mention the civil war that broke out in Greece shortly after the close of the world war? On one side were the neo-fascists, many of whom had cooperated with the occupying Germans during the war, some even fighting for the Nazis. Indeed, the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged in August 1946 that there were 228 ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions – whose main task had been to track down Greek resistance fighters and Jews – on active service in the new Greek army. 8

On the other side was the Greek left who had fought the Nazis courageously, even forcing the German army to flee the country in 1944.

So guess which side of the civil war our favorite military took? … That’s right, the United States supported the neo-fascists. After all, an important component of the Greek left was the Communist Party, although it wouldn’t have mattered at all if the Greek left had not included any Communists. Support of the left (not to be confused with liberals of course) anywhere in the world, during and since the Cold War, has been verboten in US foreign policy.

The neo-fascists won the civil war and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency, named and modeled after itself, the KYP. For the next 15 years, Greece was looked upon much as a piece of real estate to be developed according to Washington’s political and economic needs. One document should suffice to capture the beauty of Washington’s relationship to Athens – a 1947 letter from US Secretary of State George Marshall to Dwight Griswold, the head of the American Mission to Aid Greece, said:

During the course of your work you and the members of your Mission will from time to time find that certain Greek officials are not, because of incompetence, disagreement with your policies, or for some other reason, extending the type of cooperation which is necessary if the objectives of your Mission are to be achieved. You will find it necessary to effect the removal of these officials. 9

Where is the present-day Greek headline: “What The United States Owes Us”? Where is the New York Times obligation to enlighten its readers?

The latest step in the evolution of America’s Police State

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

So say many Americans. And many Germans as well.

But one German, Ilija Trojanow, would disagree. He has lent his name to published documents denouncing the National Security Agency (NSA), and was one of several prominent German authors who signed a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel urging her to take a firm stance against the mass online surveillance conducted by the NSA. Trojanow and the other authors had nothing to hide, which is why the letter was published for the public to read. What happened after that, however, was that Trojanow was refused permission to board a flight from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, to Miami on Monday, September 30. Without any explanation.

Trojanow, who was on his way to speak at a literary conference in Denver, told the Spiegel magazine online website that the denial of entry might be linked to his criticism of the NSA. Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has contacted US authorities “to resolve this issue”. 10

In an article published in a German newspaper, Trojanow voiced his frustration with the incident: “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free’.” 11

Further irony can be found in the title of a book by Trojanow: “Attack on freedom. Obsession with security, the surveillance state and the dismantling of civil rights.”

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who oversees the NSA and other intelligence agencies, said recently that the intelligence community “is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” 12

It’s difficult in the extreme to see how this criterion would apply in any way to Ilija Trojanow.

The story is a poignant caveat on how fragile is Americans’ freedom to criticize their Security State. If a foreigner can be barred from boarding a flight merely for peaceful, intellectual criticism of America’s Big Brother (nay, Giant Brother), who amongst us does not need to pay careful attention to anything they say or write.

Very few Americans, however, will even be aware of this story. A thorough search of the Lexis-Nexis media database revealed a single mention in an American daily newspaper (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch), out of 1400 daily papers in the US. No mention on any broadcast media. A single one-time mention in a news agency (Associated Press), and one mention in a foreign English-language newspaper (New Zealand Herald).15

 Notes

  1. Washington Post, September 26, 2013
  2. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001
  3. The Guardian (London), April 22, 2002
  4. RT TV (Moscow), May 4, 2012
  5. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001
  6. New York Times, June 17, 1993, buried at the very end of the article on an inside page
  7. Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post, “Barbarians at the Gate: Terrorism, the US, and the Subversion of Russia”, August 30, 2012
  8. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, October 16, 1946, column 887 (reference is made here to Bevin’s statement of August 10, 1946)
  9. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947, Vol. V (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971), pp. 222-3. See William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 3 for further details of the US role in postwar Greece.
  10. Associated Press, October 2, 2013
  11. Huffington Post, “Ilija Trojanow, German Writer, Banned From US For Criticizing NSA”, October 1, 2013
  12. Washington Post, October 5, 2013

Violence, Instability, Torture and Deaths in Libya

October 8th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Wherever America shows up, mass slaughter, destruction, instability and human misery follow.

Today’s Libya reflects Washington’s deplorable legacy. North Africa’s most developed country was ravaged and destroyed. Anarchical charnel house conditions replaced it.

Disinformation.com listed 16 things Libyans lost. They include:

 

(1) free electricity

(2) interest free loans from state-owned banks

(3) homes considered a human right

(4) 60,000 dinars ($50,000) given newlyweds to begin married life, buy a home, and start a family

(5) free healthcare and education

(6) free land, facilities, equipment, seeds or livestock for Libyan farmers

(7) government funded education and healthcare abroad as well as $2,300 monthly for expenses

(8) 50% of cost subsidies for car purchases

(9) gasoline at 0.14 cents per liter (about 53 cents per gallon)

(10) freedom from IMF tyranny and other external debt bondage

(11) average salary compensation paid graduates until jobs were found

(12) a percent of oil revenue automatically credited to individual citizen bank accounts

(13) $5,000 given new mothers

(14) practically free bread; 40 loaves cost 0.15 cents

(15) 25% of Libyans have college degrees; literacy under Gaddafi rose from 25% to 83%

(16) his monumental Great Man-Made River (GMMR) project

It made the desert bloom. It provided free water. Gaddafi called it the 8th wonder of the world. He did so for good reason.

It developed an ocean-sized aquifer beneath Libyan sands. It was a decades-long work in progress.

In 2011, NATO bombed connecting pipelines and infrastructure. Depleted uranium weapons were used. Doing so irradiated clean, fresh water.

Free supplies no longer exist. Western profiteers intend exploiting them for bottom line priorities.

Predatory capitalism works this way. Ordinary people are exploited for profit. They lose out entirely. Libyans can explain best.

Dystopian harshness replaced North Africa’s most developed country. Doing so added another crime of war, against humanity and genocide to America’s rap sheet.

Obama bears full responsibility. He thrives on war. He wages one after another. He’s got more targets in mind. Libyans won’t ever forgive him.

They’ve got good reason not to. Things won’t ever be the same. Perhaps future generations will regain what they lost. Green resistance hopes one day to restore it.

Violent dystopian dysfunction reflects today’s Libya. Militia gangs control local areas. The entire populated north is a battleground.

Central governance is more illusion than reality. Near-term prospects are grim. A new UN report explains more. It’s titled “Torture and Deaths in Detention in Libya.”

It explains what Western media ignore. It’s ongoing, widespread and horrific.

International law prohibits torture and other forms of abuse at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.

It’s official US and Israeli policy. In Libya, it’s out-of control. In April 2013, Libya’s pseudo-government passed legislation criminalizing torture, forced disappearances and discrimination.

In September, another law requires all conflict-related detainees released or referred to the public prosecutor within 90 days.

It doesn’t matter. Torture and other forms of abuse persist. It’s commonplace to extract confessions. Detainees are denied access to counsel. Family member rarely get to see them.

An estimated 8,000 are affected. They’re brutalized lawlessly. It happens largely out of sight and mind.

In September 2011, Security Council Resolution 2009 established UNSMIL (UN Support Mission in Libya). On March 14, 2013, SC Resolution 2095 extended its mandate another 12 months.

From late 2011 to more recently, it reported 27 torture related deaths. True numbers are likely higher. Other deaths weren’t investigated.

Detention centers nominally are under government control. Local militia gangs effectively run them. They do whatever they want. They’re waging war on suspected Gaddafi loyalists.

UNSMIL’s more involved in militarized occupation than peacekeeping. It’s more part of the problem and related ones than the solution.

It’s true wherever Blue Helmets show up. They’re supposed to restore order, enforce peace, maintain security, and help transition to stable normality.

They’re imperial enforcers. They fuel conflict. They commit serious human rights abuses. They’re involved in sex trafficking and other crimes. They’re complicit in what they’re mandated to prevent.

In its World Report 2012: Libya, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said:

Post-Gaddafi prison conditions are “sub-standard, with overcrowding, inadequate food and water, and consistent reports about abuse, including beatings (and) use of electric shock.”

Investigator Sidney Kwiram said HRW documented “ongoing torture” used “to force confessions or for punishment.”

HRW omitted saying most detainees are alleged Gaddafi loyalists.

An Amnesty International (AI) report headlined “Libya: Deaths of detainees amid widespread torture,” saying:

Libyan detainees were tortured and abused. Some died. Victims were pro-Gaddafi loyalists. AI met detainees “in and around Tripoli, Misrata and Gheryan.”

Torture marks were visible. They included “open wounds on the head, limbs, back and other parts of the body.”

They’re inflicted “by officially recognized military and security entities, as well as a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework.”

AI called it “horrifying to find that there has been no progress to stop the use of torture.”

“We are not aware of any proper investigations into (these cases), and neither the survivors or relatives of those who have died in detention have had any recourse to justice or redress for what they have suffered.”

“While many detainees have described their experiences of torture to us, some have proved too scared to speak – fearing harsher torture” by doing so. Instead, they just showed their wounds.

They came from being “suspended in contorted positions, beaten for hours with whips, cables, plastic hoses, metal chains and bars and wooden sticks, and given electric shocks with live wires and Taser-like electro-shock weapons.”

Injuries AI saw confirmed detainee testimonies. So did medical reports. Victims had no legal representation. They confessed to stop pain.

One detainee told AI:

“This morning they took me for interrogation upstairs. Five men in plain clothes took turns beating and whipping me.”

“They suspended me from the top of the door by my wrists for about an hour and kept beating me. They also kicked me.”

Another said he was beaten on wounds sustained weeks earlier, adding:

“Yesterday they beat me with electric cables while my hands were cuffed behind my back and my feet were bound together.”

“They threatened to send me back to the militia (that) captured me, who would kill me.”

Others died from torture-inflicted injuries. Deep bruises and open wounds confirmed it. It’s unclear how many were affected. Perhaps dozens or more died this way.

Little is done to stop it. Dysfunctional conditions exist. Dismissiveness lets innocent thousands suffer in harsh confinement.

Doing so reflects reality in today’s Libya. Heart of darkness lawless viciousness describes things. Pseudo-government does little to change them. Nor does UNSMIL. Rule of law in Libya doesn’t exist.

An estimated 37 detention facilities operate nationwide. With few exceptions, militia gangs control them. They do whatever they want.

They do it without oversight. They get away with torture, other forms of abuse and murder.

Victims are abducted from homes, workplaces, on streets, and at checkpoints. Doing so is arbitrary. It’s lawless. Due process, judicial fairness and proper redress don’t exist.

Ali Mas’ud death reflected others. A preliminary forensic report said “death (was) caused by a cerebral bleeding and cardiac arrest.”

“The corpse had several traumatic bruises. The death was caused by beatings and torture.”

Abdelhakim Belaid al-Tajuri died on route to hospitalization. Forensic analysis said he “died as a result of widespread injuries to his body and bleeding inside the head cavity.”

His face was badly swollen. Injuries were clearly visible. His hands and feet showed evidence of torture.

Gaddafi era 1991 Law No. 20 on the Promotion of Freedoms stated:

“No one can be deprived of his freedom, searched or questioned unless he has been charged with committing an act that is punishable by law, pursuant to an order issued by a competent court, and in accordance with the conditions and time limits specified by law.”

Article 30 of Gaddafi’s Code of Criminal Procedure required security officers to have an official competent authority-issued warrant authorizing arrest and detention.

Article 31 afforded detainees the right to challenge why they were held.

Article 106 mandated the right of counsel during criminal interrogations. Article 321 authorized providing legal representation if defendants had none.

Article 26 limited referring suspects for General Prosecution to 48 hours. For crimes against the state, it was seven days.

Article 435 mandated 10 years imprisonment for “any public official who order(ed) the torture of or tortures an accused.”

Articles 379 – 381 ordered up to one year in prison for “causing harm to another person leading to a sickness.”

Two years were mandated if it was life-threatening or caused paralysis for less than 40 days.

Five years were ordered in case of incurable illness, loss of body part or functioning organ, or other disability.

That was then. This is now. Anarchic viciousness replaced Gaddafi era law and order.

As signatory to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Libya is obligated to prevent these type abuses. So is UNSMIL as an occupying authority.

ICCPR’s Article 7 enshrines the right to life, stating:

“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

Article 7 states:

“No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Article 10 states:

“All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”

Other fundamental international laws have similar provisions. Under Gaddafi, Libya, as signatory, agreed to enforce them.

Little or nothing is done today. Innocent victims suffer horrifically. Torture and other forms of abuse persist. Law and order are figures of speech.

Obama bears full responsibility. He transformed sovereign Libya into dystopian hell. Out-of-control horrific conditions reflect today’s reality.

Green resistance struggles for freedom. It remains a distant dream.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/violence-instability-torture-deaths-libya/

US Government Shutdown Reaches Second Week

October 8th, 2013 by Andre Damon

The US government shutdown entered its second week amid calls from Wall Street and US creditors to prevent a default on the federal debt, which would occur unless Congress moves to raise the country’s borrowing limit by October 17.

Discussions in Washington are increasingly treating the ongoing government shutdown, which has furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers and shut down social services and other regulatory agencies as a non-issue, stressing instead the need to avoid a debt default. This was underscored over the weekend when the Obama administration ordered the vast majority of Defense Department personnel to return to work despite the shutdown, leaving the full burden on social programs and regulatory agencies.

An article in the Washington Post on Monday reported that “the collective impact of a scaled-back shutdown is expected to be small,” with “economists” shifting their alarm to the debt default.

Global stocks fell again Monday, as major US creditors, including Japan and China, issued warnings to the US to prevent default on the government’s debts. Zhu Guangyao, China’s vice finance minister, urged Washington to “ensure the safety of the Chinese investments,” while a senior official in Japan’s Ministry of Finance told the Financial Times that Japan is “very worried about the potential impact” of a US default.

Democrats and the White House responded to growing concerns within the political establishment over a debt default by proposing “a short-term bill, perhaps lasting only weeks, if necessary to avoid going over the brink,” the Post reported. Such a bill would contain no provisions to end the government shutdown and would set the stage for a broader deal to slash social spending.

The Republican-controlled House has passed a number of measures to ameliorate the effects of the government shutdown, including funding for the Food and Drug Administration and the promise to make good on back pay owed to workers as a result of the shutdown. So far the Senate has stalled on all but one of them: a bill to continue paying uniformed military personnell and civilian support staff.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday showed growing popular opposition to the government shutdown, with the approval rating for Congress falling to 11 percent, near its lowest level ever. Seventy percent of the population disapprove of the Republicans’ handling of the budget, up from 63 percent last week.

The Republicans, meanwhile, are increasingly shifting their demands from the call to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) to attacks on entitlement spending. “Any debt-limit increase is going to require cuts and reforms to address America’s enormous budget deficit,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, reinforcing remarks that the Speaker had made over the weekend.

In an interview Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner told interviewer George Stephanopoulos that the Republicans would make discussions on additional spending cuts the prerequisite for any deal to increase the US government’s debt ceiling.

Boehner said, “Let’s look at what’s driving the problem. Ten thousand baby-boomers like me retiring, every single day. 70,000 this week. 3.5 million this year. And it’s not like there’s money in Social Security or Medicare. The governments, over the last 30 years, have spent it all.”

In tying any increase in the debt limit to the demand for entitlement cuts, Boehner is taking up signals by President Obama that he is open to a deal along similar lines. In an interview last week with CNBC, Obama made clear that he is considering cuts to social programs—including Medicare and Social Security—as part of the budget debate.

Asked by the interviewer about Republican proposals to “end budget negotiation [by the] replacement of sequester cuts with entitlement cuts,” Obama replied, “It is important for us to deal with our long-term entitlement spending.” He added, “I think it is very important for us to continue to cut out programs that are unnecessary, not working—some of them need to be reformed.”

Obama raised these proposals as measures he would support outside of the immediate framework of the current budget discussion. However, behind the scenes, members of Congress are working on proposals that would resolve the debt limit impasse by means of a deal to slash entitlements, which the White House has already agreed in its latest budget proposal.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, based on an inside source, that Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio “has recommended an agreement that would fund the government for one year at the level favored by House Republicans that would include plans to start lawmakers on an overhaul of the tax code.”

The newspaper added, “His plan also would raise the debt limit by an amount equal to deficit-reduction measures already backed by Mr. Obama in his most recent budget, including a switch to a new measure of inflation under which Social Security benefits would rise more slowly.”

With nine days left before October 17, the day the Treasury says the US will run critically low on cash, Wall Street and US creditors are increasingly demanding that the budget negotiations do not in any way affect the country’s debt payments. Wall Street’s concern over the debt limit, however, in no way contradicts its demands for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which, though overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of the population, are supported by both the White House and the Republicans.

The US Raid on Libya and the Fraud of the War on Terror

October 8th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proclaimed Sunday that two covert operations mounted by US Special Forces in Libya and Somalia over the weekend “send a strong message to the world that the United States will spare no effort to hold terrorists accountable, no matter where they hide or how long they evade justice.”

Far from strong, upon any serious examination, the message sent by these operations is decidedly murky.

The abduction in Libya of alleged Al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Liby and the abortive Navy Seal raid on a leader of the Al Shabab Islamist militia in Somalia—called off after it encountered stiff resistance—are being treated by the US media as some monumental new battle in the never-ending global war on terror.

Al-Liby, who has been indicted in a US court on charges related to the preparation of the 1998 terror bombings at the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in which 224 people died, is reportedly being held on a US warship in the Mediterranean—beyond the reach of civilian courts and laws and being subjected to unknown methods of interrogation.

Counter-terrorism experts, ex-agents, and former cabinet members are being paraded before the television cameras in an attempt to rope in the American public, implicating it in another criminal operation by Washington.

For all of the blather from these experts, however, on one thing they are totally silent: the extraordinary history of al-Liby, the target of the US raid. A review of his career points to not some implacable struggle between mortal enemies, but rather a falling out between intimate partners. It is no exaggeration to suggest that Mr. al-Liby knows some of those who planned his capture on a first-name basis. His biography provides a glimpse into the bizarre and frightening world of the CIA and its secret wars, dirty tricks and global murders.

Al-Liby joined Al Qaeda when it was fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s, providing the foot soldiers for a covert CIA-organized war for regime change against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. At the time, then-US President Ronald Reagan hailed al-Liby and his fellow right-wing Islamist fighters as the “moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers,” while the US government poured some $10 billion into financing the war.

This relationship was not merely Reagan’s innovation. For decades before, US imperialism had promoted reactionary Islamist organizations to further US interests and combat socialist and left-nationalist influence in the Middle East and beyond. These layers provided the shock troops for CIA-orchestrated coups in Iran, Indonesia and elsewhere.

After the Afghan war, al-Liby reportedly followed Bin Laden to Sudan, where he continued to enjoy US and Western backing. It was during this period of the 1990s that Al Qaeda funneled Islamist fighters into Bosnia to go into battle for the US-backed Bosnian Muslim regime. In 1993, Bin Laden received Bosnian citizenship and a Bosnian passport. Al Qaeda terrorists were also sent into Kosovo to join the separatist movement against Serbia, which by 1999 was backed by a full-scale US-NATO air war.

In 1995, Sudan forced Bin Laden to send his Libyan followers out of the country in response to pressure from Libya’s head of state, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Shortly afterwards, Bin Laden himself would also be asked to leave, as Sudan faced pressure from Egypt, where an Al Qaeda-affiliated group had attempted to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak.

While Bin Laden went to Afghanistan, al-Liby found political asylum in the United Kingdom, Washington’s closest ally, on the grounds that he would face persecution in Libya.

In 2002, it was revealed that six years earlier al-Liby had been a key figure in a Libyan Islamic Fighting Group cell that was paid large sums of money by the British intelligence service, MI6, for an abortive plot to assassinate Gaddafi.

For nearly two years after the African embassy bombings, al-Liby was able to continue living in the UK, fleeing only in May of 2000 around the time he and 20 other Al Qaeda operatives were indicted in a Manhattan federal court as co-defendants of Osama in the African terrorist attacks. He was placed on the FBI’s “most wanted” list.

After a decade as a wanted terrorist, al-Liby returned to Libya in 2011 and once again was transformed into a US-backed “freedom fighter,” joining one of the Islamist brigades that served as proxy troops for the US-NATO war for regime change.

Why, two years after the toppling and assassination of Gaddafi, al-Liby has been snatched off the streets of Tripoli is by no means clear. His presence there was known to Washington from even before the war began. It is, however, part of a pattern alternating between close collaboration and falling out between the US intelligence apparatus and Al Qaeda. This is a pattern that goes a long way to explaining how the 9/11 terror attacks could take place—i.e., how Al Qaeda operatives known to the CIA could freely enter the US, take flying courses, and prepare the mayhem of September 11, 2001.

This same phenomenon was seen in the September 11, 2012 Al Qaeda assault on US diplomatic and CIA facilities in the eastern Libyan port city of Benghazi, in which the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans lost their lives. Stevens had played the instrumental role in coordinating US military action with operations of Islamists like al-Liby.

In the aftermath of the war, the CIA established a major secret station in Benghazi for the purpose of shipping arms stockpiles to similar elements being employed in the war for regime change in Syria. Something caused the relationship to sour, likely involving resentments among the Islamist militias that they had not been adequately compensated by their American patrons in terms of money or power.

The kidnapping of al-Liby by Delta Force commandos—ostensibly with no notification to the Libya’s nearly powerless interim government—only underscores the real results of a war promoted by the Obama administration as a crusade for human rights, democracy and freedom. Having claimed thousands of lives and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, the war has left Libya in a complete shambles, dominated by Islamist militias and petty warlords, rife with assassinations, kidnappings and torture and its oil production and other core economic activity at a virtual standstill.

Among the most staggering elements of this predatory war is that pseudo-left organizations, from the International Socialist Organization in the US to the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France hailed it as a revolution, acting to politically facilitate the total destruction and subjugation of a former colonial country.

For the last dozen years, Washington has justified military aggression abroad and the implementation of police-state methods at home in the name of a never-ending war on terrorism. Over the course of this period, the Bush and Obama administrations’ principal achievement consists of overthrowing two secular Arab regimes—in Iraq and Libya—and attempting to do the same to a third one in Syria. Each of these interventions has devastated the societies of these countries.

While Al Qaeda did not exist in any of these three countries before US intervention, it now thrives in all three. Tens of thousands from all over the region have been drawn to its banner in the US-backed sectarian war for regime change in Syria.

In the biography of al-Liby, the real character of the so-called war on terror emerges more clearly. It is the byproduct of multiple filthy operations mounted by US intelligence, using elements like Al Qaeda, betraying them and then dealing with the consequences in the form of terrorist operations, which are then turned into the pretext for wars abroad and state repression at home.

Are Emergency Plans Meant Only for Nuclear War the Real Justification for Spying?

To understand the scope, extent and reason that the government spies on all Americans, you have to understand what has happened to our Constitutional form of government since 9/11.

State of Emergency

The United States has been in a declared state of emergency from September 2001, to the present. Specifically, on September 11, 2001, the government declared a state of emergency. That declared state of emergency was formally put in writing on 9/14/2001:

A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby declare that the national emergency has existed since September 11, 2001 . . .

That declared state of emergency has continued in full force and effect from 9/11 to the present. President Bush kept it in place, and President Obama has also.

For example, on September 9, 2011, President Obama declared:

CONTINUATION OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY DECLARED BY PROC. NO. 7463

Notice of President of the United States, dated Sept. 9, 2011, 76 F.R. 56633, provided:

Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622(d), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency previously declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continuing and immediate threat of  further attacks on the United States.

Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2011. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency that was declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

The Washington Times wrote on September 18, 2001:

Simply by proclaiming a national emergency on Friday, President Bush activated some 500 dormant legal provisions, including those allowing him to impose censorship and martial law.

The White House has kept substantial information concerning its presidential proclamations and directives hidden from Congress. For example, according to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy:

Of the 54 National Security Presidential Directives issued by the [George W.] Bush Administration to date, the titles of only about half have been publicly identified. There is descriptive material or actual text in the public domain for only about a third. In other words, there are dozens of undisclosed Presidential directives that define U.S. national security policy and task government agencies, but whose substance is unknown either to the public or, as a rule, to Congress.

Continuity of Government

Continuity of Government (“COG”) measures were implemented on 9/11. For example, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, at page 38:

At 9:59, an Air Force lieutenant colonel working in the White House Military Office joined the conference and stated he had just talked to Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. The White House requested (1) the implementation of continuity of government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, D.C.

Likewise, page 326 of the Report states:

The secretary of defense directed the nation’s armed forces to Defense Condition 3, an increased state of military readiness. For the first time in history, all nonemergency civilian aircraft in the United States were grounded, stranding tens of thousands of passengers across the country. Contingency plans for the continuity of government and the evacuation of leaders had been implemented.

The Washington Post notes that Vice President Dick Cheney initiated the COG plan on 9/11:

From the bunker, Cheney officially implemented the emergency continuity of government orders . . .

(See also footnotes cited therein and this webpage.)

CNN reported that – 6 months later – the plans were still in place:

Because Bush has decided to leave the operation in place, agencies including the White House and top civilian Cabinet departments have rotated personnel involved, and are discussing ways to staff such a contingency operation under the assumption it will be in place indefinitely, this official said.

Similarly, the Washington Post reported in March 2002 that “the shadow government has evolved into an indefinite precaution.” The same article goes on to state:

Assessment of terrorist risks persuaded the White House to remake the program as a permanent feature of ‘the new reality, based on what the threat looks like,’ a senior decisionmaker said.

As CBS pointed out, virtually none of the Congressional leadership knew that the COG had been implemented or was still in existence as of March 2002:

Key congressional leaders say they didn’t know President Bush had established a “shadow government,” moving dozens of senior civilian managers to secret underground locations outside Washington to ensure that the federal government could survive a devastating terrorist attack on the nation’s capital, The Washington Post says in its Saturday editions.

Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) told the Post he had not been informed by the White House about the role, location or even the existence of the shadow government that the administration began to deploy the morning of the Sept. 11 hijackings.

An aide to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said he was also unaware of the administration’s move.

Among Congress’s GOP leadership, aides to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.), second in line to succeed the president if he became incapacitated, and to Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.) said they were not sure whether they knew.

Aides to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said he had not been told. As Senate president pro tempore, he is in line to become president after the House speaker.

Similarly, the above-cited CNN article states:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Friday he can’t say much about the plan.

“We have not been informed at all about the role of the shadow government or its whereabouts or what particular responsibilities they have and when they would kick in, but we look forward to work with the administration to get additional information on that.”

Indeed, the White House has specifically refused to share information about Continuity of Government plans with the Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress, even though that Committee has proper security clearance to hear the full details of all COG plans.

Specifically, in the summer 2007, Congressman Peter DeFazio, on the Homeland Security Committee (and so with proper security access to be briefed on COG issues), inquired about continuity of government plans, and was refused access. Indeed, DeFazio told Congress that the entire Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress has been denied access to the plans by the White House.

(Or here is the transcript).

The Homeland Security Committee has full clearance to view all information about COG plans.

DeFazio concluded: “Maybe the people who think there’s a conspiracy out there are right”.

University of California Berkeley Professor Emeritus Peter Dale Scott points out that – whether or not COG plans are still in effect – the refusal of the executive branch to disclose their details to Congress means that the Constitutional system of checks and balances has already been gravely injured:

If members of the Homeland Security Committee cannot enforce their right to read secret plans of the Executive Branch, then the systems of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution would seem to be failing.

To put it another way, if the White House is successful in frustrating DeFazio, then Continuity of Government planning has arguably already superseded the Constitution as a higher authority.

Indeed, continuity of government plans are specifically defined to do the following:

  • Top leaders of the “new government” called for in the COG would entirely or largely go into hiding, and would govern in hidden locations
  • Those within the new government would know what was going on. But those in the “old government” – that is, the one created by the framers of the Constitution – would not necessarily know the details of what was happening
  • Normal laws and legal processes might largely be suspended, or superseded by secretive judicial forums
  • The media might be ordered by strict laws – punishable by treason – to only promote stories authorized by the new government

See this, this and this.

Could the White House have maintained COG operations to the present day?

I don’t know, but the following section from the above-cited CNN article is not very reassuring:

Bush triggered the precautions in the hours after the September 11 strikes, and has left them in place because of continuing U.S. intelligence suggesting a possible threat.

Concerns that al Qaeda could have gained access to a crude nuclear device “were a major factor” in the president’s decision, the official said. “The threat of some form of catastrophic event is the trigger,” this official said.

This same official went on to say that the U.S. had no confirmation — “and no solid evidence” — that al Qaeda had such a nuclear device and also acknowledged that the “consensus” among top U.S. officials was that the prospect was “quite low.”

Still, the officials said Bush and other top White House officials including Cheney were adamant that the government take precautions designed to make sure government functions ranging from civil defense to transportation and agricultural production could be managed in the event Washington was the target of a major strike.

As is apparent from a brief review of the news, the government has, since 9/11, continuously stated that there is a terrorist threat of a nuclear device or dirty bomb. That alone infers that COG plans could, hypothetically, still be in effect, just like the state of emergency is still in effect and has never been listed.

Indeed,  President Bush said on December 17, 2005, 4 years after 9/11:

The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after Sept. 11 helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities.

The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time.

And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.

The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland.

During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation’s top legal officials, including the attorney general and the counsel to the president.

I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks [45 days times 30 equals approximately 4 years] and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and related groups.

The N.S.A.’s activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and N.S.A.’s top legal officials, including N.S.A.’s general counsel and inspector general.

In other words, it appears that as of December 2005, COG plans had never been rescincded, but had been continously renewed every 45 days, and .

In 2008, Tim Shorrock wrote at Salon:

A contemporary version of the Continuity of Government program was put into play in the hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when Vice President Cheney and senior members of Congress were dispersed to “undisclosed locations” to maintain government functions. It was during this emergency period, Hamilton and other former government officials believe, that President Bush may have authorized the NSA to begin actively using the Main Core database for domestic surveillance [more on Main Core below]. One indicator they cite is a statement by Bush in December 2005, after the New York Times had revealed the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, in which he made a rare reference to the emergency program: The Justice Department’s legal reviews of the NSA activity, Bush said, were based on “fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government.”

In 2007, President Bush issued Presidential Directive NSPD-51, which purported to change Continuity of Government plans. NSPD51 is odd because:

Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the President may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack, or to any ‘other condition.’ Changes of this magnitude should be made only after a thorough public airing. But these new Presidential powers were slipped into the law without hearings or public debate.

  • As a reporter for Slate concluded after analyzing NSPD-51:

I see nothing in the [COG document entitled presidential directive NSPD51] to prevent even a “localized” forest fire or hurricane from giving the president the right to throw long-established constitutional government out the window

  • White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that “because of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the American public needs no explanation of [Continuity of Government] plans”

This is all the more bizarre when you realize that COG plans were originally created solely to respond to a decapitating nuclear strike which killed our civilian leaders.   (It was subsequently expanded decades before 9/11 into a multi-purpose plan by our good friends Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. See this, this and this.)

Does COG Explain the Pervasive Spying on Americans?

5 years ago, investigative reporter Christopher Ketcham disclosed the spying which was confirmed last week by  whistleblower Edward Snowden:

The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.

Given that Ketcham was proven right, let’s see what else he reported:

Given that Ketcham was right about the basics, let’s hear what else the outstanding investigative journalist said in 2008:

There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.”

***

According to one news report, even “national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad” could be a trigger [for martial law ].

***

When COG plans are shrouded in extreme secrecy, effectively unregulated by Congress or the courts, and married to an overreaching surveillance state—as seems to be the case with Main Core—even sober observers must weigh whether the protections put in place by the federal government are becoming more dangerous to America than any outside threat.

Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets’ behavior and tracks their circle of associations with “social network analysis” and artificial intelligence modeling tools.

***

A former NSA officer tells Radar that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, using an electronic-funds transfer surveillance program, also contributes data to Main Core, as does a Pentagon program that was created in 2002 to monitor antiwar protesters and environmental activists such as Greenpeace.

***

If previous FEMA and FBI lists are any indication, the Main Core database includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protesters, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.

A veteran CIA intelligence analyst who maintains active high-level clearances and serves as an advisor to the Department of Defense in the field of emerging technology tells Radar that during the 2004 hospital room drama, [current nominee to head the FBI, and former Deputy Attorney General] James Comey expressed concern over how this secret database was being used “to accumulate otherwise private data on non-targeted U.S. citizens for use at a future time.” [Snowden and high-level NSA whistleblower William Binney have since confirmed this] …. A source regularly briefed by people inside the intelligence community adds: “Comey had discovered that President Bush had authorized NSA to use a highly classified and compartmentalized Continuity of Government database on Americans in computerized searches of its domestic intercepts. [Comey] had concluded that the use of that ‘Main Core’ database compromised the legality of the overall NSA domestic surveillance project.”

***

The veteran CIA intelligence analyst notes that Comey’s suggestion that the offending elements of the program were dropped could be misleading: “Bush [may have gone ahead and] signed it as a National Intelligence Finding anyway.” But even if we never face a national emergency, the mere existence of the database is a matter of concern. “The capacity for future use of this information against the American people is so great as to be virtually unfathomable,” the senior government official says.

In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world-renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won’t prevent terrorist conspiracies. “Because there is so little historical terrorist event data,” Jonas tells Radar, “there is not enough volume to create precise predictions.”

***

[J. Edgar Hoover's] FBI “security index” was allegedly maintained and updated into the 1980s, when it was reportedly transferred to the control of none other than FEMA (though the FBI denied this at the time).

FEMA, however—then known as the Federal Preparedness Agency—already had its own domestic surveillance system in place, according to a 1975 investigation by Senator John V. Tunney of California. Tunney, the son of heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney and the inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in the film The Candidate, found that the agency maintained electronic dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans that contained information gleaned from wide-ranging computerized surveillance. The database was located in the agency’s secret underground city at Mount Weather, near the town of Bluemont, Virginia. [One of the main headquarter of COG operations.] The senator’s findings were confirmed in a 1976 investigation by the Progressive magazine, which found that the Mount Weather computers “can obtain millions of pieces [of] information on the personal lives of American citizens by tapping the data stored at any of the 96 Federal Relocation Centers”—a reference to other classified facilities. According to the Progressive, Mount Weather’s databases were run “without any set of stated rules or regulations. Its surveillance program remains secret even from the leaders of the House and the Senate.”

***

Wired magazine turned up additional damaging information, revealing in 1993 that [Oliver] North, operating from a secure White House site, allegedly employed a software database program called PROMIS (ostensibly as part of the REX 84 plan). PROMIS, which has a strange and controversial history, was designed to track individuals—prisoners, for example—by pulling together information from disparate databases into a single record. According to Wired, “Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Senator Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude.” Sources have suggested to Radar that government databases tracking Americans today, including Main Core, could still have PROMIS-based legacy code from the days when North was running his programs.

***

Marty Lederman, a high-level official at the Department of Justice under Clinton, writing on a law blog last year, wondered, “How extreme were the programs they implemented [after 9/11]? How egregious was the lawbreaking?” Congress has tried, and mostly failed, to find out.

***

We are at the edge of a cliff and we’re about to fall off,” says constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein. “To a national emergency planner, everybody looks like a danger to stability. There’s no doubt that Congress would have the authority to denounce all this—for example, to refuse to appropriate money for the preparation of a list of U.S. citizens to be detained in the event of martial law. But Congress is the invertebrate branch.

***

UPDATE [from Ketcham]: Since this article went to press, several documents have emerged to suggest the story has longer legs than we thought. Most troubling among these is an October 2001 Justice Department memo that detailed the extra-constitutional powers the U.S. military might invoke during domestic operations following a terrorist attack. In the memo, John Yoo, then deputy assistant attorney general, “concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.” (Yoo, as most readers know, is author of the infamous Torture Memo that, in bizarro fashion, rejiggers the definition of “legal” torture to allow pretty much anything short of murder.) In the October 2001 memo, Yoo refers to a classified DOJ document titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States.” According to the Associated Press, “Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear. But federal documents indicate that the memo relates to the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program.” Attorney General John Mukasey last month refused to clarify before Congress whether the Yoo memo was still in force.

Americans have the right to know whether a COG program is  still in effect, and whether the spying on our phone calls and Internet usage stems from such COG plans. Indeed, 9/11 was a horrible blow, but it was not a decapitating nuclear strike on our leaders … so COG and the state of emergency should be lifted.

If COG plans are not still in effect, we have the right to demand that “enemies lists” and spying capabilities developed  for the purpose of responding to a nuclear war be discarded , as we have not been hit by nuclear weapons … and our civilian leaders – on Capital Hill, the White House, and the judiciary – are still alive and able to govern.

In this version the medic being interviewed says about the 2 minute mark:

“..It’s just absolute chaos and carnage here, erm we’ve had a massive influx of  what looks like serious burns, er seems like it must be some sort of chemical weapon, I’m not really sure..”

In this version she says – it is at about 2 mins 20 seconds in this edit:

“..It’s just absolute chaos and carnage here, erm we’ve had a massive influx of what looks like serious burns, er seems like it must be some sort of, I’m not really sure, maybe napalm, something similar to that..”

The disturbing thing is the footage of the doctor talking is precisely the same each time.  It is edited so as to give the impression the medic is talking in real time in her natural voice – there are none of the accepted devices used to indicate a voiceover translation.  But it must be true that in at least one, and possibly both, the clips she is not talking in real time in her own voice.  It is very hard to judge as her mouth and lips are fully covered throughout.  Perhaps neither of the above is what she actually said.

Terrible things are happening all the time in Syria’s civil war, between Assad’s disparate forces and still more disparate opposition forces, and innocent people are suffering.  There are dreadful crimes against civilians on all sides.  I have no desire at all to downplay or mitigate that.  But once you realise the indisputable fact of the fake interview the BBC has put out, some of the images in this video begin to be less than convincing on close inspection too.

François Hollande é socialista?

October 7th, 2013 by Salim Lamrani

Foto : Efe (24/09/2013)

O primeiro-ministro francês Jean-Marc Ayrault anunciou no dia 27 de agosto de 2013 uma nova reforma do sistema de aposentadoria com uma ampliação do tempo de contribuição para 43 anos. É a primeira vez na história da V República que uma maioria de esquerda arremete contra este símbolo do progresso social, conquistado a preço de muitas lutas: o direito à uma existência digna nos últimos anos de vida. Nem o presidente Jacques Chirac (1995-2007), nem Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012) – ambos de direita e de inclinação neoliberal — se atreveram a adiar a tal ponto a idade mínima para se aposentar. 1

Argumento usado por Hollande é que o aumento da expectativa de vida exige uma ampliação do tempo de contribuições

Entretanto, quando se encontrava na oposição, Hollande condenou com vigor a ampliação do tempo de contribuição para 41 anos, depois das reformas de 2003 (Ley Fillon), de Chirac: “O projeto do governo Raffarin [primeiro-ministro] suscita três objeções importantes  por parte dos socialistas: a rejeição à uma filosofia que consiste em pedir aos assalariados que trabalhem mais tempo para ganhar menos. A ampliação do tempo de contribuição — 40, 41, 42 anos e até mais se assim for necessário — era a posição dos empresários, agora é a solução do governo Raffarin”. 2

Quando, em 2010, Sarkozy ampliou novamente o tempo de contribuição, Hollande não deixou de estigmatizar esse atentado contra uma conquista social valorizada pelos cidadãos franceses: “É a reforma mais injusta arbitrada pelo presidente Sarkozy. Ele quis mandar um sinal aos mercados e aos sócios europeus. Escolheu fazer com que os pobres e aqueles que começaram a trabalhar cedo paguem. Esta reforma vai penalizar aqueles que entraram cedo na vida ativa e que poderiam se aposentar aos 60 anos, porque tinham todos os seus direitos, mas que terão de trabalhar não apenas 41 anos, mas 42, 43 ou inclusive 44 anos”. 3

Mas, uma vez no poder, longe de revogar as reformas de Fillon e Sarkozy, Hollande as validou e foi além, atentando contra todo um setor de pessoas vulneráveis: os idosos. De fato, para poder se aposentar com uma aposentadoria integral , os trabalhadores terão de contribuir mais, até 43 anos. Agora veja, é notório que o desemprego das pessoas com mais de 50 anos é cada vez mais significativo, como o dos jovens. A consequência previsível é que eles terão de se aposentar sem ter contribuído o suficiente para ter o benefício de uma aposentadoria integral, o que vai resultar no aumento da pobreza e da precariedade das pessoas da terceira idade.

O argumento usado por Hollande — costumeiramente usado pelos neoliberais — é que o aumento da expectativa de vida, agora considerado um obstáculo, exige uma ampliação do tempo de contribuições. Agora veja, se a expectativa de vida aumenta, é precisamente porque as pessoas trabalham menos tempo e podem disfrutar de sua aposentadoria com boa saúde. Assim, a reforma de Hollande terá impacto sobre o estado de saúde dos trabalhadores e, portanto, sobre sua expectativa de vida.

Por outro lado, esta reforma — exigida pela Comissão Europeia— que prevê, além disso, um aumento dos impostos diretos e em consequência uma diminuição dos salários, é um contrassenso econômico. De fato, agrava a austeridade para os idosos que não têm anos suficientes de trabalho — cujas aposentadorias vão diminuir automaticamente — e para os jovens que vão entrar mais tarde no mercado de trabalho por causa da saída deferida por seus predecessores. Assim, a diminuição dos salários devido à alta dos impostos diretos e à diminuição das aposentadorias vai ocasionar uma redução do consumo e, portanto, uma  baixa da atividade econômica, que será traduzida em um aumento do desemprego, para desembocar na diminuição dos recebimentos do Estado (impostos não pagos pelos novos desocupados) e um aumento de seus gastos (para pagar os subsídios do desemprego).

Desde que chegou ao poder, François Hollande multiplicou as decisões favoráveis aos conglomerados econômicos e financeiros, particularmente com o benefício fiscal às empresas de 20 bilhões de euros e com a recusa em regular o mundo financeiro apesar das promessas eleitorais. Também adotou medidas contra o interesse geral e contra os setores mais modestos, com o aumento do IVA e a reforma do sistema de aposentadoria.  A consequência foi imediata: o Partido Socialista perdeu todas as oito eleições parciais levadas a cabo sob a presidência de Hollande desde a sua eleição em maio de 2012, entre as quais cinco circunscrições onde tinha maioria presidencial.

Salim Lamrani

1. Jean-Marc Ayrault, “Réformes des retraites: garantir notre système, corriger les injustices“, Portail du Gouvernement de la République française, 27 août 2013. (site consultado no dia 1 de setembro de 2013).

2. François Hollande, “Discours de clotûre au Congrès de Dijon“, 18 de maio de 2013, Parti Socialiste. (site consultado no dia 1 de setembro de 2013).

3. Agence France Presse, “Retraites : Sarkozy a choisi ‘la réforme la plus injuste’ selon Hollande”, 16 de junho de 2010.

* Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor-titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se chama Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013, com prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

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According to the Washington Post (CIA Ramping up Covert Training Program for Moderate Syrian Rebels, Oct.3), the CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria, as U.S. officials said. The newspaper reports the CIA’s mission has been defined by the White House’s desire to seek a political settlement, a scenario that relies on an eventual stalemate among the warring factions rather than a clear victor. As a result, US officials said, limits on the agency’s authorities enable it to provide enough support to help ensure that politically moderate, U.S.-supported militias don’t lose but not enough for them to win.

The Washington Post informs that US officials spoke on the condition of anonymity and said the agency has sent additional paramilitary teams to secret bases in Jordan in recent weeks in a push to double the number of rebel fighters getting CIA instruction and weapons before being sent back to Syria. The effort led by the CIA was described as an urgent bid to bolster moderate Syrian militias, which have been unable to mount a serious challenge to Assad. The CIA is «ramping up and expanding its effort», said a U.S. official familiar with operations in Syria, because «it was clear that the opposition was losing, and not only losing tactically but on a more strategic level»…

Back in June the US deployed Patriot air defense systems F-16 fighter jet aircraft to Jordan as part of the annual military exercise called Eager Lion leaving 700 combat-equipped troops and 200 military planners in Jordan to assist in long-term planning with Jordanian forces in case of a chemical weapons crisis or a large-scale humanitarian relief mission. Then the US announced that it would send light arms to the rebels. In September the New York Times ran an interesting article called President Gains McCain’s Backing on Syria Attack saying, «Officials said that in the same conversation, which included Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, Mr. Obama indicated that a covert effort by the United States to arm and train Syrian rebels was beginning to yield results: the first 50-man cell of fighters, who have been trained by the C.I.A., was beginning to sneak into Syria».

Back in May there had been reports that this training program had already been underway for some time and the LA Times caught up with it in June, disclosing that the program began at least as far back as November 2012 on US bases in Jordan and Turkey.

On August 23 French Le Figaro reported that CIA-trained rebels crossed the Syrian border from Jordan. They had been trained for several months in a training camp on the Jordanian-Syrian border by CIA operatives, as well as Jordanian and Israeli commandos, the paper said. The first group of 300 handpicked Free Syrian Army soldiers crossed the border on August 17 into the Deraa region, and a second group was deployed on August 19, the paper reported. The paper quoted a researcher at the French Institute for Strategic Analysis as saying the trained rebels group was passing through Ghouta, on their way to Damascus.

CIA activities today

The CIA training effort is centered in Jordan. The program is aimed at shoring up the fighting power of units aligned with the Supreme Military Council, an umbrella organization led by General Idris, that is the main recipient of U.S. support. The training is led by small teams of operatives from the CIA’s Special Activities Division, a paramilitary branch that relies heavily on contractors and former members of U.S. Special Operations forces. Officials said the instruction is rudimentary and typically spans four to six weeks.

The Obama administration has explored the idea of using the U.S. military to expand the training program to what some officials have described as «industrial strength». It is unclear whether Jordan would welcome such a large U.S. military footprint, which would mean converting a covert program into one officially acknowledged by the United States.

There are also legal impediments, including a measure known as the Leahy Law that would require a determination that no recipients of U.S. military assistance had committed human rights abuses. The officials said the agency had sent more paramilitary teams to secret bases in Jordan in recent weeks in a push to double the number of rebel fighters getting CIA instruction and weapons before being sent back to Syria. The CIA was «ramping up and expanding its effort», said a US official familiar with operations in Syria, because “it was clear that the opposition was losing, and not only losing tactically but on a more strategic level”. The CIA declined to comment. The latest setback came last month, when the largest armed factions in Syria, including some backed by the US, announced the formation of an alliance with a goal of creating an Islamic state.

Trends in the ranks of Syrian opposition

On Sept. 24, 2013 the death bell rang for the West-supported Syrian armed opposition. 13 of the leading armed opposition organizations inside Syria decided to unite their efforts under an Islamist-jihadist banner as the «Islamist Alliance» claiming to represent more than 75 percent the rebels fighting the Assad administration. The Alliance is to spread sharia laws throughout Syria formally rejecting the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) as its legitimate representative. Significantly, the group includes some of the largest ostensibly moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) elements as well as Al Qaida affiliated organizations. The supreme leadership of Al Qaida warmly endorsed the new alliance in a special communiqué. «A group of powerful mujahedin units rejected the authority of the pro-Western Syrian opposition leadership abroad and called for it to be reorganized under an Islamic framework».

It is not just a serious set-back, but rather the total and absolute failure of the US and the West in general to influence the opposition, as well as the whole Syria policy and a challenge to those who presented the view that the majority of the Syrian opposition is liberal and moderate, like US Stare Secretary John Kerry did. The US administration officials were misleading the public and Congress about the composition of Syrian rebel forces deliberately minimizing the role of Islamist groups in the opposition.

The unification of radicals has become a clear trend. The Army of Islam has been established as another Islamist actor. Rebel brigades operating in and around Damascus announced by the end of September that they had united under a single command comprising 50 groups and numbering some thousands of fighters. The formation of the Army of Islam strengthens Salafist jihadis under the influence of Saudi Arabia another radical group – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda branch which has in recent weeks taken control of territory from other Islamist forces in parts of northern and eastern Syria.

All of these groups formally commit themselves to sharia as the «sole source of legislation». Bottom line, they were all Islamist from the start. Something Russia had many times warned the West about.

The US-led Western myope policy in Syria has resulted in radical Islam gaining the upper hand inside the Syria opposition to endanger Europe and the entire Mideast. A new safe haven for al-Qaeda-linked jihadists and local radicals is being established in the north and east of Syria threatening neighboring Iraq. The goal is a Sunni emirate on the Mediterranean shore and Turkish border. The seasoned fighters will one day go or return to the countries of Western Europe or former Soviet space. Within Iraq, they are trying to revive the Sunni-Shiite civil war with a wave of suicide bombs, something that has become a routine daily news on TV. They are also stirring up tensions inside neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. This is a universal problem, a threat posed for the USA, NATO, the EU, Russia and a lot of other states. And this is the time the CIA is involved in activities aimed at making Syria an al-Qaeda safe haven and base camp. Like it or not, but there is a reality – the government of President Assad now is the only force capable of standing up to the radicals offensive in Syria. Russia and the US will discuss the issue at the level of foreign chiefs on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit next week in Bali.

They have a lot to talk about. I wonder what the US State Secretary will say about his previous affirmations the Syrian opposition is predominantly moderate or the CIA activities to enhance Islamists capabilities in the country. There is also one more issue to discuss and one more threat to United Nations activities against the background revelations about what the CIA is doing. On October 3 Russian president’s Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russia fears that radical opposition in Syria may stage provocations in the process to eliminate chemical weapons. «Objectively speaking this cannot be ruled out, and we have certain understanding with our western partners in this respect that there are real risks and different kind of provocations because terrorists and extremists who are not interested in a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis might put different obstacles, quite serious, in the process to eliminate chemical weapons», said Bogdanov, who is Deputy Foreign Minister.

He explained that, «one can get to the depots that are controlled by the government only in crossing regions that are controlled by the opposition». «That is why the question arises how to cross these regions and ensure the safety of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who will work there», Bogdanov added. (6) The CIA is aiding those who pose this threat.

 The announcement of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, set for October 11, is sure to make big news. The prize remains the most prestigious in the world. But the award has fallen into an evasive pattern, ignoring the USA’s continuous “war on terror” and even giving it tacit support.

 In his 1895 will, the dynamite inventor and ammunition magnate Alfred Nobel specified that Norway’s parliament should elect a five-member committee for awarding the prize to “champions of peace.” Yet the list of recent Nobel peace laureates is notably short on such champions. Instead, the erstwhile politicians on the Norwegian Nobel Committee have largely bypassed the original purpose of the prize.

 Despite all its claims of independence, the Oslo-based Nobel Committee is enmeshed in Norwegian politics. The global prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize has obscured the reality that its selection committee is chosen by leaders of Norway’s main political parties — and, as a member of NATO, Norway is deeply entangled in the military alliance.

 When the Nobel Peace Prize went to President Obama in 2009, he was in the midst of drastically escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, in tandem with the rest of NATO. The same prize went to the European Union in 2012, a year after many of its member states intervened with military force in Libya. On both occasions, in effect, the Nobel Committee bestowed a “good war-making seal of approval.”

 Since 2001, the Nobel Peace Prize has been on a prolonged detour around the U.S. government’s far-flung warfare, declining to honor anyone who had challenged any of it anywhere in the world. But the Nobel Committee has done more than just ignore peace activism seeking to stop U.S.-led war efforts. By giving the Peace Prize to Obama and the E.U., the committee has implicitly endorsed those military efforts as part of a rhetorical process that conflates war-making with peace-making. Orwell’s 1984 specter of “War Is Peace” looms uncomfortably large.

 At times, the Peace Prize has earned goodwill in NGO circles by honoring humanitarian work that is laudable but not directly related to peace. And so far in this century, when the Nobel Committee has focused the prize on human rights, it has danced around Uncle Sam’s global shadow. The Peace Prize has gone only to dissidents in countries where governments are in conflict with Washington — such as Shirin Ebadi of Iran in 2003 and Liu Xiaobo of China in 2010 — while failing to honor any of the profuse activism against severe abuses by U.S.-backed governments.

 It was not always this way. During previous decades, the annual announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize might alternately please or enrage the top leaders in the capital of a world power. In 1983, the awarding of the prize to Poland’s Solidarity leader Lech Walesa infuriated the Kremlin. When the 1992 prize went to Rigoberta Menchu, an indigenous foe of U.S.-supported tyrants killing Guatemalan civilians in large numbers, it was a much-needed rebuke to Washington.

Yes, some Peace Prize choices were dubious or worse. After an Orwellian one, the caustic songwriter Tom Lehrer commented: “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” In an exercise of absurd equivalency, the Nobel Committee had given the 1973 prize to Kissinger and North Vietnam’s negotiator Le Duc Tho.

 The 1980s brought the Peace Prize to brave activists like Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina and Desmond Tutu of South Africa, as well as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. In 1996, longtime opponents of Indonesia’s U.S.-backed genocidal occupation of East Timor had reason to cheer when the Nobel Peace Prize went to East Timorese heroes Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta. The next year also brought good news when the prize went to Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

 But in the “war on terror” world of this century, the Nobel Committee — far from an independent, evenhanded course — has steered the Peace Prize away from terrain where the U.S. government and its allies might appear to be anything other than noble peace-seekers. Relying on such a broken moral compass, the mission to assist “champions of peace” with the Nobel Peace Prize has lost its way.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

 

Canada, as well as the US, infiltrated and spied on the Brazilian Energy Ministry, a new leak by Edward Snowden has revealed. The leaked documents show how the data gleaned through espionage was shared with international spy network the ‘Five Eyes.’

Newly-released documents handed over to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald by former CIA employee Edward Snowden describe in detail how Canadian intelligence infiltrated Brazil’s Energy and Mines Ministry.

“I was overwhelmed by the power of the tools used. The Ministry of Energy and Mines was totally dissected,” security expert Paulo Pagliusi told Brazilian program Fantastico, which first reported on the leak.

The program showed documents from a meeting of the ‘Five Eyes’ spy network, comprising the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, in June of last year. In a presentation the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSRC) – the Canadian version of the NSA – outlined how they used a program called Olympia to break through the Brazilian ministry’s encryption.

The information gleaned from the ministry was then shared with all of the members of the ‘Five Eyes.’

“They [Five Eyes] are sharing all the information, handing over documents to let other countries know exactly what they are doing,” said Glen Greenwald.

As a result of the infiltration of the ministry over an unspecified period, the CSCE developed a detailed map of the institution’s communications. As well as monitoring email and electronic communications, the CSCE also eavesdropped on telephone conversations. Able to identify mobile numbers, SIM card registrations and the make of a phone, Olympia even snooped on former Brazilian ambassador to Canada Paulo Cordeiro.

Canada has so far refused to comment on the reports of its spy program. Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobao told Fantastico that the reports were “serious” and should be condemned.

Canada is one of the world’s leading energy producers and has significant economic interests in Brazil.

“Canada has interests in Brazil, especially in the mining sector. Does this spying serve the commercial interests of select groups? I cannot say,” observed Lobao.

‘No economic espionage’

Previously, Brazilian newspaper Globo News reported that the NSA was monitoring Brazil’s state oil giantPetrobras. Washington reacted to the allegations, stating that the US “does not engage in economic espionage.” The Obama administration has said on a number of occasions that US covert surveillance is in the interests of protecting US national security.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has condemned the reports of the NSA’s surveillance of Brazil and demanded the US account for its actions.

As a consequence, the Brazilian head of state postponed an official visit to Washington in October. Rousseff has also taken measures to tighten Brazilian internet security.

“I have sent an internet draft bill to Congress, an initiative that will protect the privacy of Brazilians,”Rousseff wrote on Twitter on Sunday. The government is expected to vote on the bill in the coming weeks.

Back in September, Rousseff slammed the US for “economic espionage,” dismissing US claims the NSA spying is a preventative measure to ensure national security. Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Rousseff stated that state-run Petrobras is “no threat to the security of any country. Rather, it represents one of the greatest assets of the world’s oil and the heritage of the Brazilian people.”

Fast Times in Palestine

October 7th, 2013 by Jamal Kanj

As I read the book I tried to fathom what drove a young American woman from a small town in Oklahoma with degree in physics to end up spending two years traversing military checkpoints and helping farmers harvest olives in the Middle East.

Whenever I read a biographical book, I make it a point to start with the acknowledgement page to learn a little about the writer. In reading “Fast Times in Palestine: A love affair with a homeless homeland,” I had to start from the end of the book.

In those two pages the author thanked more than fifty individuals, but what got my attention was recognizing her ninth grade teacher for forcing her to write “a journal every day.” A gift the author displayed meticulously in chronicling the places and people she met in every page of a moving memoir of her journey in Palestine.

As I read the book I tried to fathom what drove a young American woman from a small town in Oklahoma with degree in physics to end up spending two years traversing military checkpoints and helping farmers harvest olives in the Middle East.

It could have been her adventurous nature and love for travel that brought her to that part of the world, but it was sheer destiny that tossed her into the abyss of fire to tell the world of her “love affair with a homeless homeland.”

After graduating from Stanford University in 2002, the newly graduated student was working at a neighborhood bar to save enough money for a backpacker vacation in the Greek isles when her French friend suggested Egypt as an alternative, less expensive destination. She traveled to Cairo and the Sinai, where she met an Israeli tourist named Dan who invited her to visit him in Israel.

Her journey took her across the Red Sea to Jordan, where she met—by chance—two peace volunteers, one British and one Canadian, who were on holiday from their work in Palestine. In the few days she spent with them in a downtown Amman hotel, she learned for the first time of the $3 billion the US government pays Israel annually on behalf of American taxpayers.

Stories about occupation, the Palestinian people and human rights activism intrigued her, and she became interested in finding out for herself the truth about life in the West Bank. She jumped on the opportunity when they invited her to come along with them, and they took her to an unlikely tourist destination, a small Palestinian village called Jayyous.

The author tackles the paradox of occupation in very straightforward layman’s terms, describing how a forty-mile journey from Jerusalem to the Palestinian city of Nablus would take a full day crossing a separation wall, changing cabs six times and navigating permanent and flying Israeli military checkpoints.  Meanwhile a much longer trip with her Israeli friend on “Jewish only settlement roads” could be completed uninterrupted in a much shorter time.

She also describes how the separation wall isolates villagers from their olive groves and farms—for many their only livelihood—while hilltop Jewish-only settlements encroach on centuries-old trees and isolate Palestinian towns and villages into islands surrounded by Zionist colonies and the army that protects them.

Ever more fascinated by the wickedness of occupation and the joys of life among Palestinians, Pamela Olson took a low-paying job in Ramallah as an editor and head writer for the Palestine Monitor to study and document the daily human rights abuses under Israeli occupation.

Living and working in the Palestinian political capital, Pamela entered Palestinian politics from its widest doors by becoming the foreign press coordinator for a major candidate in the 2005 presidential election.

In her two years between Jayyous and Ramallah, the author takes the reader on an extraordinary expedition very few of us will ever get the opportunity to experience in a lifetime. She takes us along with her via immaculate descriptions of the spring greenery on hills and meadows—not yet raped by the concrete desertification of the Jewish only settlements—or smoking Nargila (hookah) on porches with friends in Jayyous or sipping coffee at westernized cafés in Ramallah.

What makes this book special is the writer’s ability to keep the reader spellbound with her vivid descriptions of events, people and places. The reader is able to feel the author’s inner glee meeting beloved friends, pain while witnessing and experiencing the horrors of occupation and the melancholy of bidding farewell to people who became part of her family in Palestine.

The book can be obtained here.

Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes  weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper. He is a frequent contributor to this blog.

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition.According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

Recently revealed statements by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the height of the banking crisis in October 2008 could give some insights into that question. An article on BBC News on September 21, 2013, drew from an explosive autobiography called Power Trip by Brown’s spin doctor Damian McBride, who said the prime minister was worried that law and order could collapse during the financial crisis. McBride quoted Brown as saying:

If the banks are shutting their doors, and the cash points aren’t working, and people go to Tesco [a grocery chain] and their cards aren’t being accepted, the whole thing will just explode.

If you can’t buy food or petrol or medicine for your kids, people will just start breaking the windows and helping themselves.

And as soon as people see that on TV, that’s the end, because everyone will think that’s OK now, that’s just what we all have to do. It’ll be anarchy. That’s what could happen tomorrow.

How to deal with that threat? Brown said, “We’d have to think: do we have curfews, do we put the Army on the streets, how do we get order back?”

McBride wrote in his book Power Trip, “It was extraordinary to see Gordon so totally gripped by the danger of what he was about to do, but equally convinced that decisive action had to be taken immediately.” He compared the threat to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Fear of this threat was echoed in September 2008 by US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who reportedly warned that the US government might have to resort to martial law if Wall Street were not bailed out from the credit collapse.

In both countries, martial law was avoided when their legislatures succumbed to pressure and bailed out the banks. But many pundits are saying that another collapse is imminent; and this time, governments may not be so willing to step up to the plate.

The Next Time WILL Be Different

What triggered the 2008 crisis was a run, not in the conventional banking system, but in the “shadow” banking system, a collection of non-bank financial intermediaries that provide services similar to traditional commercial banks but are unregulated.  They include hedge funds, money market funds, credit investment funds, exchange-traded funds, private equity funds, securities broker dealers, securitization and finance companies. Investment banks and commercial banks may also conduct much of their business in the shadows of this unregulated system.

The shadow financial casino has only grown larger since 2008; and in the next Lehman-style collapse, government bailouts may not be available. According to President Obama in his remarks on the Dodd-Frank Act on July 15, 2010, “Because of this reform, . . . there will be no more taxpayer funded bailouts – period.”

Governments in Europe are also shying away from further bailouts. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Switzerland has therefore required the systemically risky banks to devise “living wills” setting forth what they will do in the event of insolvency. The template established by the FSB requires them to “bail in” their creditors; and depositors, it turns out, are the largest class of bank creditor. (For fuller discussion, see my earlier article here.)

When depositors cannot access their bank accounts to get money for food for the kids, they could well start breaking store windows and helping themselves. Worse, they might plot to overthrow the financier-controlled government. Witness Greece, where increasing disillusionment with the ability of the government to rescue the citizens from the worst depression since 1929 has precipitated riots and threats of violent overthrow.

Fear of that result could explain the massive, government-authorized spying on American citizens, the domestic use of drones, and the elimination of due process and of “posse comitatus” (the federal law prohibiting the military from enforcing “law and order” on non-federal property). Constitutional protections are being thrown out the window in favor of protecting the elite class in power.

The Looming Debt Ceiling Crisis

The next crisis on the agenda appears to be the October 17th deadline for agreeing on a federal budget or risking default on the government’s loans. It may only be a coincidence, but two large-scale drills are scheduled to take place the same day, the “Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill” and the “Quantum Dawn 2 Cyber Attack Bank Drill.” According to a Bloomberg news clip on the bank drill, the attacks being prepared for are from hackers, state-sponsored espionage, and organized crime (financial fraud). One interviewee stated, “You might experience that your online banking is down . . . . You might experience that you can’t log in.” It sounds like a dress rehearsal for the Great American Bail-in.

Ominous as all this is, it has a bright side. Bail-ins and martial law can be seen as the last desperate thrashings of a dinosaur. The exploitative financial scheme responsible for turning millions out of their jobs and their homes has reached the end of the line. Crisis in the current scheme means opportunity for those more sustainable solutions waiting in the wings.

Other countries faced with a collapse in their debt-based borrowed currencies have survived and thrived by issuing their own. When the dollar-pegged currency collapsed in Argentina in 2001, the national government returned to issuing its own pesos; municipal governments paid with “debt-canceling bonds” that circulated as currency; and neighborhoods traded with community currencies. After the German currency collapsed in the 1920s, the government turned the economy around in the 1930s by issuing “MEFO” bills that circulated as currency. When England ran out of gold in 1914, the government issued “Bradbury pounds” similar to the Greenbacks issued by Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War.

Today our government could avoid the debt ceiling crisis by doing something similar: it could simply mint some trillion dollar coins and deposit them in an account. That alternative could be pursued by the Administration immediately, without going to Congress or changing the law, as discussed in my earlier article here. It need not be inflationary, since Congress could still spend only what it passed in its budget. And if Congress did expand its budget for infrastructure and job creation, that would actually be good for the economy, since hoarding cash and paying down loans have significantly shrunk the circulating money supply.

Peer-to-peer Trading and Public Banks

At the local level, we need to set up an alternative system that provides safety for depositors, funds small and medium-sized businesses, and serves the needs of the community.

Much progress has already been made on that front in the peer-to-peer economy.  In a September 27th article titled “Peer-to-Peer Economy Thrives as Activists Vacate the System,” Eric Blair reports that the Occupy Movement is engaged in a peaceful revolution in which people are abandoning the established system in favor of a “sharing economy.” Trading occurs between individuals, without taxes, regulations or licenses, and in some cases without government-issued currency.

Peer-to-peer trading happens largely on the Internet, where customer reviews rather than regulation keep sellers honest. It started with eBay and Craigslist and has grown exponentially since. Bitcoin is a private currency outside the prying eyes of regulators. Software is being devised that circumvents NSA spying. Bank loans are being shunned in favor of crowdfunding. Local food co-ops are also a form of opting out of the corporate-government system.

Peer-to-peer trading works for local exchange, but we also need a way to protect our dollars, both public and private. We need dollars to pay at least some of our bills, and businesses need them to acquire raw materials. We also need a way to protect our public revenues, which are currently deposited and invested in Wall Street banks that have heavy derivatives exposure.

To meet those needs, we can set up publicly-owned banks on the model of the Bank of North Dakota, currently our only state-owned depository bank. The BND is mandated by law to receive all the state’s deposits and to serve the public interest. Ideally, every state would have one of these “mini-Feds.” Counties and cities could have them as well. For more information, see http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.

Preparations for martial law have been reported for decades, and it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully, we can sidestep that danger by moving into a saner, more sustainable system that makes military action against American citizens unnecessary.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200-plus blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

Palestinians do have Options for Change and Resistance

October 7th, 2013 by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

On November 28, 1947, the CIA predicted accurately the meaning of Truman’s push to partition Palestine:

“Armed hostilities between Jews and Arabs will break out if the UN General Assembly accepts the plan to partition Palestine … the resulting conflict will seriously disturb the social, economic, and political stability of the Arab world, and US commercial and strategic interests will be dangerously jeopardized … The poverty, unrest, and hopelessness upon which Communist propaganda thrives will increase throughout the Arab world.”

It has been 20 years since the Oslo process and we can engage in a postmortem analysis of the dozens of failed initiatives and plans for “peace,” or pacification.

Some would tell us our choices are or were limited. Ten years ago, our departed friend Professor Edward Said wrote: “Who is now asking the existential questions about our future as a people? The task cannot be left to a cacophony of religious fanatics and submissive, fatalistic sheep … We are that close to a kind of upheaval that will leave very little standing and perilously little left even to record, except for the last injunction that begs for extinction. Hasn’t the time come for us collectively to demand and formulate a genuinely Arab alternative to the wreckage about to engulf our world?”

Today, seven million of the 12 million Palestinians around the world are refugees or displaced people. There are some 5.8 million Israeli Jews and nearly 6 million Palestinians who live under the rule of the apartheid Israeli state. Half the Jews who live in Palestine/Israel are immigrants.

Israel stole most of the land and now controls some 93 percent of the land of Palestine (before the British invasion and the Balfour Declaration, native and Zionist Jews collectively owned only 2 percent of Palestine).

It is tempting for some people to lose faith in the possibility of liberation and justice after 132 years since the first Zionist colony and 65 years after the 1948 Nakba.

There was a phrase in the 1960s civil rights struggle, “free your mind and your ass will follow.” Surely when we free our minds we will see there are many options, despite the attempt of our oppressors to convince us that our options are gone, save for surrendering or issuing empty slogans.

Surely, we as a people can and do chart a path forward.

What are our options outside of sloganism or defeatism? That is to say, outside of current policies of endless talk or endless negotiations while weak?

The other options are not magical nor new; many have already articulated them in clear visions in countless studies.

Why not revive the original charter of PLO to liberate all of Palestine? Why not democratize the PLO to really represent the 12 million Palestinians around the world? Why not refuse to suppress resistance and instead engage in massive popular resistance throughout historic Palestine?

Why not engage in resistance in areas outside of Palestine? Why not target Zionist companies and interests world wide by economic boycotts and even sabotage? Why not expose and confront the network of Zionist lobbyists that support war crimes and support Zionist control? Why not engage in educational campaigns and media campaigns and lobbying around the world?

Why not build alliances with powerful states that could provide protection or support, like China, Russia or Brazil? Why not promote boycotts, divestment, and sanctions? Why not work through international agencies including the International Court of Justice to bring Israeli war criminals to justice and challenge membership of Israel in the UN and all its agencies? Why not do all the above and even more?

Politicians are reluctant to consider change because they believe they are important. To justify their inaction and lack of backbone, they even lie.

But people can and do force politicians to change. Regardless of how they got into power or the nature of governing systems, leaders cannot afford to ignore strong people demands. But if the people are complacent and ignorant, this is the best scenario for status quo politicians.

We saw changing policies in the Ottoman Empire from support of Zionism to rejection. We saw changes in British policies in response to the Palestinian revolution of 1936 and continuing pressures even recently when the British parliament voted against attacking Syria on behest of Israel.

And we saw the power of resistance in 1987-1991 in challenging both the complacency of leaders in Tel Aviv and Tunisia. Surely we can also learn lessons from the limitations of military might whether in Vietnam in the 1960s or in Iraq in 2003, or Lebanon in 2006, or Gaza in 2008.

More recently we can see dramatic shifts and retreats in issues dealing with Syria and Iran. History is dynamic and not static nor is it to the liking of status quo politicians.

The original Zionist project was for control of the area between the Euphrates and the Nile. Here we are 130 years later and even the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is roughly at parity between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. When Balfour declaration was issued in 1917, there were 650,000 Palestinians in Palestine; today there are nearly 6 million.

Surely this is not a hopeless scenario. After denying our existence, the Palestinian flag now flies around Palestine even inside the Green line. Surely this should not be at the expense of Palestinian flags on security uniforms preventing Palestinians from engaging in resistance or as backdrops with Israeli and American flags in endless negotiations.

Martin Luther King, Jr posed the question: “Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”

The author is a professor at Bethlehem University. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale.

God bless Lynne Stewart! Many thousands of global supporters stand with you. We do so uncompromisingly.

We do it because it matters. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.

We wish you happy birthday and many more. We hope for lots more outside prison walls.

We want you free at last. We want you healthy in top form again. We want what you rightfully deserve. We support your liberating struggle.

On October 8, Lynne turns 74. She’ll add a year behind bars. She’ll do it for devoting her life to helping others.

For promoting right over wrong. For being above reproach. For giving so much. For wanting so little in return.

For supporting society’s most disadvantaged. For being a role model for others to emulate.

For wanting little more beyond knowing doing the right thing is its own reward.

What kind of society imprisons its best and most honorable? What kind mischaracterized as a democracy does so?

What kind operates the world’s largest gulag? What kind does so globally. What kind institutionalizes cruel and unusual treatment? What kind does it worldwide?

What kind runs a homeland police state apparatus? What kind made state terror, torture and other forms of abuse official policy?

What kind persecutes innocent people? What kind targets society’s most vulnerable? What kind spurns rule of law principles?

What kind builds prisons, not hospitals or schools? What kind ignores human need? What kind does so disdainfully? What kind thinks fundamental rights are quaint and out-of-date?

What kind ravages and destroys one country after another? What kind wages war on humanity? What kind does so for imperial dominance? What kind risks survival doing so?

What kind values wealth, power and privilege over equity, justice, and human life? What kind claims doing the wrong thing is right?

Numerous previous articles discussed Lynne’s ordeal. She and her husband Ralph are personal friends.

They’re both longtime human rights defenders. What’s more important than that? They support peace, equity and justice. They deplore war, imperial ruthlessness, and discriminatory intolerance.

Defending clients prosecutors wanted imprisoned got Lynne targeted. She was wrongfully indicted, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.

Her original 16 month sentence was unjustifiably extended to 10 years. Imprisoning her for 10 seconds constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Nothing in today’s America surprises. Freedom, equity and justice are four-letter words. Rule of law principles don’t matter. Democratic values are verboten.

Criminal gangs run America. Rogue officials make policy. They do so for their own self-interest.

They conspire with corporate crooks and other societal miscreants. They partner for all they can get. They do so for wealth, power and privilege. They do it at the expense of public needs and common decency.

Imprisoning Lynne shows how low America has sunk. Its dark side has many forms. It champions wrong over right. It shames itself in the process.

Lynne’s a breast cancer survivor. It reemerged. It progressed to Stage 4. She’s dying. She’s denied expert life-saving treatment.

Her petition for compassionate release was turned down. She refiled and hopes for the best. Tens of thousands of world supporters endorse her fight for life.

They want her freed. She never should have been imprisoned in the first place.

On September 27, she commented from “Deep in the Belly of the Beast.” She’s at Federal Medical Center (FMC) Carswell, Ft. Worth, TX.

Her address is:

Lynne Stewart

#53504-054

Federal Medical Center, Carswell

PO Box 27137

Ft. Worth, TX 76127

She wrote:

“Now another month has passed and I am getting increasingly irritable that these jokers are so cavalier with my life and what time I have left. (I also am getting weaker.)”

“My application for compassionate release is moving but glacially (Are there any glaciers left? Only in the bureaucracy…).”

“We learned that the request has left the General Counsel’s office of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in Washington and is now being considered by an ‘Independent Committee’ (whatever that means).”

“From there it will ostensibly go to (BOP) Director, Mr. Samuels, for the final recommendation and request for a motion to the Judge.”

“As you can appreciate, there is still plenty of room for slips between cup and lip.”

“I truly understand that I, with the strong and consistent support of all 30,000+ of you, do constitute a ‘threat’ in their small universe.”

“That is to say that, the will of the People cannot be ignored forever. With that in mind, I want to urge everyone to come on out on…

OCTOBER 8, TUESDAY, MY 74th BIRTHDAY
FOR A LOCAL SHOW OF OUR COLLECTIVE WILL
IN OPPOSITION TO THE ‘DEATH PENALTY’

ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE

YOU AND YOUR COMRADES, FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES CAN GATHER AT YOUR LOCAL FEDERAL (US) COURTHOUSE OR POST OFFICE TO REMIND THEM THAT WE WILL NOT LET ME DIE IN A JAIL CELL !!!”

“If you can do this, please notify Ralph (Poynter, Lynne’s husband) of your location (917 853 9759, 518 358 2525) or email my web site (Lynne Stewart.org).”

“We hope this will be nationwide, and we can spread the word of the senseless cruelty in the way the Bureau of Prisons administers a program that is supposed to be compassionate.”

“I may be the ‘poster child’ but this is done on behalf of all the prisoners who are languishing, in pain or worse, trying to go home.”

“Be Out there on October 8. It is already an historic day. Let’s make it More So!!! Let’s Win.”

Lynne Stewart

Join others across America. Do it to support Lynne’s liberating struggle. Locations include:

NEW YORK CITY

From 6 – 10 PM

80 St. Marks Theatre on the corner of St. Marks Place & 2nd Ave

(not the church)

ALBANY, NY

Tuesday, October 8, Noon

US Federal Building, 1 Clinton Avenue

More information at: http://projectsalam.org/events/10-08-13.html

SAN FRANCISCO

At Montgomery & Market.

Assemble at 5 PM. Rally/speakout at 5:30 PM

SEATTLE, WA

Tuesday, October 8, 4-5:30 PM

Federal Building, 2nd Ave and Madison St

Petitioning for Compassionate Release

Write:

PRESIDENT OBAMA

The White House

Pennsylvania Ave,

Washington, DC 20500

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

US Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

CHARLES E. SAMUELS, JR.

Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons

320 First Street, NW

Washington, DC 20534

Re: Lynne Stewart, #53504-054 Compassionate Release 

CALL:

PRESIDENT OBAMA

(202) 456-1111

ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER

(202) 353-1555

CHARLES E. SAMUELS

(202) 307-3250/3062

Sign the petition for her compassionate release:

http://www.change.org/petitions/free-lynne-stewart-support-compassionate-release

Email Lynne at 1lawyerleft at gmail.com

Donate to Lynne’s defense fund one of three ways:

(1) Directly to her commissary account FMC Carswell by mail or Western Union.

Use her prison number (53504-054) and full name: Lynne Irene Stewart.

Send a US Postal money order to:

LYNNE IRENE STEWART

Inmate #53504-054

PO Boxo 474701

Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Non-postal money orders and non-government checks will be placed on a 15 day hold.

Personal checks and cash aren’t accepted.

The sender’s name and return address must appear on the upper left corner of the envelope.

Western Union Quick Collect Program

Inmates’ families and friends may also donate through Western Union’s Quick Collect Program.

Funds sent will be posted to the inmate’s account within two to four hours when sent from 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM Eastern time (seven days per week, including holidays).

Funds received after 9:00 PM Eastern time will be posted by 7:00 AM Eastern time the following morning. Funds may be sent one these ways:

1) At an agent location with cash: The inmate’s family or friends must complete a Quick Collect Form. Click here to view a sample Quick Collect Form.

To find the nearest agent, call 1-800-325-6000 or go to www.westernunion.com.

2) By phone using a credit/debit card: The inmate’s family or friends may simply call 1-800-634-3422 and press option 2.

3) ONLINE using a credit/debit card: The inmate’s family and friends may go to www.westernunion.com and select “Quick Collect.”

For each Western Union Quick Collect transaction, provide the following information:

Valid Inmate Eight-Digit Register Number (entered with no spaces or dashes) followed immediately by Inmate’s Last Name 2) Committed Inmate Full Name entered on Attention Line 3) Code City: FBOP, DC

Inmate’s committed name and eight-digit register number must be entered correctly.

If the sender does not provide the correct information, the transaction cannot be completed. The Code City is always FBOP, DC.

Any questions or concerns regarding Western Union transfers should be directed to Western Union by the sender (general public).

Questions or concerns should not be directed to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

For additional information concerning inmate Commissary account deposit procedures, please see the Bureau of Prisons Trust Fund/Warehouse/Laundry Manual (PS 4500.07) or 28 CFR Parts 506 and 540.

For information concerning a specific deposit, please contact Federal Bureau of Prisons’ staff at 202-307-2712 between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM Eastern time.

(2) A tax deductible National Lawyers Guild Foundation contribution.

Make checks payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation.

Write “Lynne Stewart Defense Committee” in the memo line.

Send check to:

Lynne Stewart Organization

350 Broadway

Suite 700

New York, NY 10013

(3) Directly to Lynne Stewart Organization.

Make checks payable to “Lynne Stewart Organization.”

Send check to:

Lynne Stewart Organization

350 Broadway

Suite 700

New York, NY 10013

A Final Comment

Help Lynne any way you can. Do it because it matters. Sign her compassionate release petition. Urge others to do it.

Contribute to her defense fund. Encourage others to contribute what they can afford.

Attend public rallies on her behalf.

Lynne’s one of thousands of political prisoners languishing in America’s gulag. It’s the shame of the nation. It symbolizes what’s wrong and needs fixing.

It exposes an ugly dark side authorities don’t want people to see. It’s America’s true face. It’s ruthless. It’s merciless. It’s heartless. It’s inhumane.

It defiles what real democracies stand for. America never was one. For sure it’s not now.

Remember and tell others. Doing the right thing is its own reward. Liberating struggles aren’t won easily or quickly.

Join others for real change. Everyone can make a difference. Lynne did so much for so many for so long. Her struggle is ours.

We’re all in this together. Join the fight to free her. Do it while there’s still time. Above all, do it because it matters.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

President Bashar al-Assad said that all the political decisions that have been taken by the west in the last ten years have been in support of al-Qaeda, intentionally or inadvertently.

In an interview with the German Der Spiegel News Magazine, President al-Assad said that through Western support, now there are thousands of al-Qaeda fighters from 80 countries in Syria.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Der Spiegel: Mr. President, do you love your country?

President Assad: Of course, and in this I am no different from most people. This is not merely about emotions, but rather about what one can do for his country if he has the power and especially in times of crisis; and at this particular time, I realize more than ever how much I love my country and so I must protect it. 

Der Spiegel: Wouldn’t you be more patriotic if you stepped down and allowed for negotiations over an interim government or for a cease-fire with the armed opposition?

President Assad: The Syrian people determine my fate; no other party can determine this issue. As for the armed opposition or factions, who do they represent – the Syrian people? If so, this can be proven only through the ballot box.

Der Spiegel: Are you prepared to run in the next elections?

President Assad: My term ends in August next year. The presidential elections should take place before that time. I cannot decide now whether I am going to run; this depends on what the Syrian people want. If people are not behind me, I won’t stand in the elections.

Der Spiegel: Will you seriously consider giving up power?

President Assad: This is not about me or what I want. It’s about what people want. The country is not mine alone, it’s the country for all Syrians.

Der Spiegel: But some people say that you are the cause of the rebellion, because people want to get rid of corruption and tyranny. They call for a true democracy; and according to the opposition, this is not possible with you in power.

President Assad: Do these people speak for themselves, or do they speak on behalf of the Syrian people or on behalf of the countries that are backing them? Do they speak on behalf of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia or Qatar? Let me be clear about this: this conflict is being brought to our country from the outside world. These people live in five-star hotels, they are dictated to by their financial backers and have no grass roots in Syria.

Der Spiegel: Do you deny that there is a strong opposition against you in your country? President Assad: There is certainly an opposition in our country. What country doesn’t have opposition? It’s impossible for all the Syrians to be on my side.

Der Spiegel: It’s not only us who deny the legitimacy of your presidency. U.S. President Barack Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York that a leader who kills his people and gases children to death has forfeited any right to rule his country.

President Assad: First, he is the president of the United States and has no right to pass judgment on Syria.Second, he has no right to tell the Syrian people whom to choose as their president. Third, what he says in realty has no foundation whatsoever. He has been calling for me to step down for one and a half years. What next? Have his statements made any impact? None whatsoever.

Der Spiegel: For us, it seems that you are ignoring reality. By stepping down, you save the people a great deal of suffering.

President Assad: This has nothing to do with me being president. Killing innocent people and terrorizing them by explosions and car bombs, brought to our country by al-Qaeda, is what causes pain to the Syrian people. What does that have to do with me being in office?

Der Spiegel: It is relevant because your forces and security services have committed some of these atrocities and you are responsible for that.

President Assad: Despite the fact that the protests were not peaceful at all, it was our policy from the beginning to respond to the demands of the demonstrators. In the first weeks, we lost soldiers and policemen who were killed in those protests. Nevertheless, a specialized committee changed the constitution to meet protesters’ demands and a referendum was held. On the other hand, we also needed to confront terrorism; it’s the duty of the government to defend the country and take the relevant decisions to that effect. In the context of implementing these decisions, mistakes were made. We must acknowledge that.

Der Spiegel: The rebellion started with demonstrations in Dara’a and the victims were not only members of your security forces. The other side also suffered a great deal. The protesters were beaten and fired at. This harsh treatment was one of the regime’s mistakes.

President Assad: When political measures are implemented – anywhere in the world – mistakes are made; we are only human.

Der Spiegel: So, you acknowledge that the harsh treatment meted out at the protesters was a mistake.

President Assad: There were individual errors. We all make mistakes. Even the president might make mistakes. Even if mistakes were made in on the ground, our principal decisions were the right ones.

Der Spiegel: Was the Houla massacre also the result of mere individual failure?

President Assad: Neither the government nor its supporters are to blame for that, because it was the armed gangs and the extremists who attacked the families who supported the government. This is exactly what happened. If you want to assert something to the contrary, you need to provide the evidence and this is what you cannot do. We, however, and contrary to your claims, can give you the names of the victims who were killed because they stood against terrorism.

Der Spiegel: We have evidence. Our reporters were in Houla and talked to the victims and carried out thorough investigations. The U.N. experts reached a conclusion, after investigating the case, that 108 people in the village were killed, including 49 children and 34 women, victims of your regime. How can you deny responsibility and accuse the so-called terrorists.

President Assad: With respect to your reporters, we Syrians, know our country better, know the truth better and can fully document that.

Der Spiegel: The culprits were ‘shabiha’, members of the militias with links to your regime.

President Assad: Do you have any evidence to prove that?

Der Spiegel: We heard this from people we consider credible.

President Assad: I’ll be candid and even blunt with you: your question is based on wrong information. What you are asserting has no ground in reality. A lie is a lie, no matter how you phrase it or present it.

Der Spiegel: That’s right. So, you don’t acknowledge that your ‘shabiha’ took part in the massacre.

President Assad: What do you mean by ‘shabiha?’

Der Spiegel: The militias close to your regime.

President Assad: This name is actually of Turkish origin, in Syria don’t know ‘shabiha.’ The reality is that, when armed groups attack remote areas, and the army and police cannot provide sufficient protection to citizens, villagers arm themselves and create patrols in self-defense. It’s true that some of those fought with our forces, but these are not militias formed to protect the president. What concerns these people is their country, which they are defending against al-Qaeda terrorists that have been attacking them for months.

Der Spiegel: So, it was only the other side who committed massacres and terrorism, and your soldiers, militias, security forces and intelligence services have nothing to do with that?

President Assad: One cannot make such sweeping generalizations: “They are one hundred percent guilty, and we are zero percent.” The truth is not always black and white; in the middle there are shades of grey. But, in principle this is true. We are defending ourselves and not anything else. As to individual mistakes, I cannot, as president of all the Syrians, follow and check on each and every one of the 23 million Syrians.

Der Spiegel: Wouldn’t it be possible that the crimes against the villagers were committed by parts of the Syrian Army outside your control?

President Assad: There are criminals in every country, even in your country. Those can be everywhere. This is normal; but we don’t have sufficient information about this.

Der Spiegel: The legitimacy of a president does not rest on slogans and promises, but on actions. As a result of the gas attack against your people, you forfeited every right to be in your position.

President Assad: We did not use chemical weapons; this is not true. And the picture you are drawing of me is not true. The United States, the entire western world, the richest countries in the Arab world and neighbouring Turkey are against me, and terrorists are crossing the borders from Iraq. On top of all of this, I kill my people, who support me nevertheless! Am I superhuman? No. So, why am I still in power two and half years on? The answer is simple: because a large segment of the Syrian people support me, they support the government and the state. Whether they constitute 50% or less, that is a different issue. But this large segment also means ‘legitimacy.’ This is how things are in reality.

Der Spiegel: After the U.N. investigation of this crime, U.S. President Obama had no doubt that your regime used chemical weapons on August 21 in an attack that claimed the lives of over a thousand people, including hundreds of children.

President Assad: Once again, Obama never provided one shred of evidence. The only things he provided were lies.

Der Spiegel: But the conclusions reached by the U.N. investigators …

President Assad: What conclusions? When the investigators came to Syria, we asked them to continue their work and we hope that they will provide an explanation of who is responsible for this act. 

Der Spiegel: The trajectory of the gas shells could be traced back from their point of impact to their point of launching. And it shows that they were launched from 4th division installations.

President Assad: This doesn’t prove anything. These terrorists can be anywhere; they are even in Damascus itself. They could fire a missile next to my home.

Der Spiegel: But launching rockets containing Sarin gas cannot be done by your enemies. They don’t have the capabilities to do that because it requires military equipment, training and accuracy.

President Assad: Who says so? Terrorists used Sarin gas in a Tokyo attack in the 1990s. Sarin is called the “kitchen gas” because anyone can make it anywhere, in any room. Der Spiegel: The two attacks cannot be linked or compared. This is about a military operation in Damascus.

President Assad: No one can say with any certainty that they used rockets. We have no evidence. But the certain thing is that Sarin was used. Is it not possible that one of our rockets hit a terrorist site containing Sarin? Or that they made a mistake while dealing with it? They are in possession of Sarin and they already used it in Aleppo.

Der Spiegel:13 cases were identified where Sarin was used, but in no case has it been used with such intensity as on August 21st. Have you conducted any investigations of your own?

President Assad: Every investigation should start with identifying the number of the real victims. The armed groups speak about 350. The United States speaks about 1,400. Médecins Sans Frontièresmention about 280. This cannot be right. Even the photos taken of the victims contain discrepancies. For instance, a dead child appears in two different locations.

Der Spiegel: You mean that the photos of the victims have been manipulated?

President Assad: I want to say this case should be verified thoroughly; and no one has done that so far. We cannot do it, because it is an area where terrorists operate.

Der Spiegel: This close to the city?

President Assad: They are very close to Damascus, close to our military barracks; they could kill our soldiers.

Der Spiegel: Do you think you can regain control of the areas you lost?

President Assad: It is not about winning or losing in territorial terms. We are not two states, one controlling an area belonging to the other, as in the case with Israel, which occupies our Golan Heights. This is about terrorism, which should be eliminated. When we liberate a certain area, as we have done in many areas of Syria, it doesn’t mean that we are winning, because the terrorists withdraw to another area and destroy it. That’s why we are also concerned about our citizens’ security.It is also important for us to win the support of our population: we win with their support and vice versa.

Der Spiegel: Do you still control the chemical weapons stockpiles?

President Assad: Yes, certainly. Furthermore, to assure you, I would like to add that the stored materials haven’t been activated; and no one can use them before they are prepared for that purpose.

Der Spiegel: This doesn’t rule out that the army was responsible for the attack. Western intelligence services intercepted phone calls in which your commanders urge the general command to use poisonous gas.

President Assad: This is complete fabrication and forgery and I will not waste my time with such allegations.

Der Spiegel: Isn’t it puzzling that we, in the West, have a completely different assessment of the situation?

President Assad:I n fact, your region is always late in recognizing reality and is extremely slow in understanding this reality. In the beginning, we talked about violent protests, while you talked about peaceful demonstrations. When we started talking about extremists, you were still talking about “some militants.”When we talked about al-Qaeda, you were still talking about a few terrorists, although they are actually the majority. Now you realize that it is about 50/50. Take, for instance, Secretary of State Kerry who still sticks to the past and talks about 20%. This is exactly what I meant with the reality deficit you have.

Der Spiegel: Is the reluctance the West to trust your assessments due to the lack of confidence in you. Where does the reason lie?

President Assad: I think the West prefers to trust al-Qaeda rather than to trust me.

Der Spiegel: This is absurd!!

President Assad: I mean it. Maybe you didn’t mean it, but it looks like it: all the decisions you have taken in the West for the past ten years have been in support of al-Qaeda. Some might have done that intentionally and some inadvertently. In any case, and through Western support, now we have thousands of al-Qaeda fighters from 80 countries. We have to deal with them. I am referring to those who have come from outside Syria.

Der Spiegel: You are losing many soldiers, those who defect to the opposition. Are you telling us that they became al-Qaeda affiliates overnight?

President Assad: No, I am not saying that they are all al-Qaeda, but most of them are. The minority are defectors or criminals. At the beginning of the crisis, we had over 60,000 outlaws at large. Those alone could form a whole army. How many are fighting us? I cannot give a specific figure. Most of them cross the border illegally for jihad. They come to Syria in the belief that they will go to heaven by waging war on atheists and non-Muslims. Even when we get rid of thousands of them, their ranks are replenished by other jihadists.

Der Spiegel: Yet, you believe you will win in this conflict?

President Assad: Even if there was no chance of winning the fight, we have no other choice but to defend our country.

Der Spiegel: On the subject of trust, we want to remind you that you have always denied that you possessed chemical weapons, while now you acknowledge that you have them.

President Assad: We never stated that we had no chemical weapons. We always phrased our statements “if we had …, then …” But we never lied.

Der Spiegel: It is reported that German companies supplied you with chemical materials, which you used to make chemical weapons. Do you have more specific information about this? President Assad: No, because these are technical issues. But, in principle, we didn’t receive outside help to make these weapons, because we didn’t need assistance. We are experts in the field.

Der Spiegel: Then, how many tons of Sarin gas or other agents do you have?

President Assad: This remains classified information until it is provided to OPCW.

Der Spiegel: According to intelligence agencies, you have a thousand tons in your stockpile. President Assad: What’s important is the principle not the figure. We have these weapons – yes, but we are committed to making the whole Middle East a WMD free zone. Der Spiegel: This is also a matter of trust. You say you have 32 stores, while Western intelligence services put the figure at 50.

President Assad: This is a technical issue better determined by specialists. As president, my focus is on the political track. We are transparent and the experts can access any facility. We’ll provide them with the data, which they can examine and verify and then judge our credibility. When we say we are transparent, we mean it: to date, we have complied with every agreement we have signed. Our history testifies to this. However, we will not bear the costs of destroying the weapons.

Der Spiegel: And the international community should simply accept that you haven’t hidden secret stockpiles somewhere?

President Assad: In international relations, things are not about trust and believing, they are about setting up the mechanisms on which the approach can be based. Whether you trust me as a person is not important. What is important is for institutions to work with each other: my government and the OPCW. What is important for me is to win the trust of the Syrian people and not the West. What is important for me is Syria not the West.

Der Spiegel: Don’t you need the West?

President Assad: Of course, but not to replace the Syrians, or the Russians who are real friends. They understand better than the West the truth about what is happening here in reality. If I am praising them now, this is not because of the close ties that have linked us for years, but because, frankly, the Russians are more independent than you are in Europe. You rely too much on the United States in your policies and easily adopt its policies.

Der Spiegel: The fact of the matter is that the Russians have strategic interests in Syria. President Assad: You can discuss that with President Putin. But I will say that some Europeans have come and signaled that they are convinced with our political position and that they share our analyses and explanations of the situation. But they cannot say this in public because it’s difficult for them at this moment in time.

Der Spiegel: And this applies to the poisonous gas attack?

President Assad: Of course. I say some, not all. To make this clearer, I’ll elaborate on the accusations against us. Both Obama and Kerry presented lies. But Obama couldn’t convince his people with his lies. According to one opinion poll, 51% of the American people reject a military strike against Syria. The British Parliament was against the strike too; and there was a tough debate in the French parliament. The whole “atmosphere” in Europe was against the strike, including the Vatican. Why? Because most people didn’t believe Obama’s story.

Der Spiegel: Is Germany part of the contacts you are making?

President Assad: We have contacts with some institutions and recently there have been channels that didn’t exist before. We exchange information, but we cannot talk about political communications.

Der Spiegel: Does Germany play a special role for you?

President Assad: When I look at Europe, the question for me is: who is closer to the reality of what is happening in our region? For us now, Germany and Austria have the most objective vision and are the closest to reality. This helps achieve Europe’s interests.

Der Spiegel: Could Germany play an intermediary role?

President Assad: I would be happy if German envoys visited Damascus to engage with us directly. If they talk to us, it doesn’t mean they support our government. They can ascertain for themselves the situation and base their work on the facts. If they think that by not engaging with us, they are isolating us, I tell them: you are isolating yourselves from reality; so, it’s about their interests. What do they gain when al-Qaeda is in their backyard wreaking havoc on the world? After two and half years, they should reconsider their policies. They should ask themselves: what are they gaining. What do their people gain when there is a state of chaos that they are supporting?

Der Spiegel: In light of the unrest in your country, are the chemical weapons stockpiles under control?

President Assad: There is no cause for concern, they are very well protected.

Der Spiegel: This applies to biological weapons too? You have biological weapons?

President Assad: We didn’t give any information in this regard because it is considered classified information. This should not be understood as confirmation that we possess them.

Der Spiegel: You understand the international community’s concern about WMDs falling into the hands of the terrorists.

President Assad: It is not as bad as it is portrayed by the media and believed in the West. There is no need for any undue concern.

Der Spiegel: As far as we know, you lost about 40% of your territories to the armed opposition, and in some areas about two thirds of the land.

President Assad: These are exaggerated figures. 60% of the country is desert and there is nobody there. In other parts of the country, the terrorists don’t control any connected areas.

Der Spiegel: This doesn’t apply to the area adjacent to the Turkish borders.

President Assad: They exist only in the area north of Aleppo, otherwise, there are only pockets. You cannot talk about a real frontline against us. Sometimes, these fighters are completely isolated and exist in areas where we don’t want to deploy the army. The percentage of land is not important to us.People’s solidarity is much more important and this is growing all the time, because they see what the terrorists are doing and what it leads to.

Der Spiegel: As a result of the violence of the conflict, a quarter of the Syrian population, i.e. five million people have become refugees.

President Assad: We don’t have accurate figures; but even four million is an exaggerated figure. Many of those who are displaced within Syria go to live with relatives and don’t appear in any statistics.

Der Spiegel: You talk about this issue as if it were an issue of paying taxes and not a humanitarian disaster.

President Assad: The exact opposite is true. You in the West use these figures as if you were reading a spreadsheet: four, five, six, seven million. These figures are of your making: seventy thousand victims, eighty thousand, ninety thousand, one hundred thousand, as if it were an auction.

Der Spiegel: The reason for this exodus is that people are fleeing you and your regime.

President Assad: Is this a question or a statement? If it’s a statement, then it’s completely wrong. If people flee, they do so for a number of reasons, first of which is fear of the terrorists.

Der Spiegel: Nobody flees from your soldiers and security forces?

President Assad: The army represents Syria; otherwise it would have disintegrated long ago. It doesn’t pose a threat to anyone. When we talk about refugees, let’s talk about another government – the Turkish government – which uses these figures for its own interests. It manipulates these figures and plays this humanitarian card at the United Nations in order to put pressure on us. Another reason for their interests is the money they receive to help the refugees, the money that moves only in the wrong direction, to their pockets; there are so many reasons. Of course within these large numbers of refugees, yes, some did flee in fear of the government but the situation is now changing with about a hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand refugees returning home.

Der Spiegel: How could you push those to take that step?

President Assad: We engaged with them in order to dispel their fears. Those who committed no crime have nothing to fear. Our message was: if you want to be against the government: come back and speak against us; and it worked.

Der Spiegel: You cannot show any military victory on any military front: you regaining control over Aleppo, which you announced, hasn’t happened. Ma’aloula is still a big problem. Even parts of Damascus are being shelled. We heard the sound of shelling on our way to your palace.

President Assad: When you are dealing with this kind of crisis, it is impossible for you to be as strong as in the past. The damage is huge and we’ll need a lot of time to overcome this. But the army and the people are united; and we have no choice but to trust and believe in our victory and in saving our country.

Der Spiegel: How can you believe in your victory if you brought Hezbollah in to help you?

President Assad: Lebanon is a very small country, about four million people. Damascus alone has five million, and Syria is too large and wide a country to be covered by Hezbollah. We cooperated on the borders with Lebanon in the fight against those terrorists who were also attacking Hezbollah members. That cooperation was fruitful and successful.

Der Spiegel: So, you can at last do without Hezbollah’s help?

President Assad: I didn’t say that, I only wanted to clarify and correct the western perception that the Syrian army couldn’t fight any more and that’s why Hezbollah intervened.

Der Spiegel: Hezbollah is one of the few entities that continue to support you. It seems that President Putin is gradually losing his patience with you.

President Assad: President Putin is more supportive of us now than any other time. He showed this by using three vetoes at the Security Council to prevent sanctions against us. Der Spiegel: But he endorsed the most recent resolution, which calls for the destruction of the chemical weapons.

President Assad: That was a good resolution.

Der Spiegel: Because it averted the military strike?

President Assad: There was no item in that resolution that undermined our interests. President Putin knows from his experience in fighting terrorism in Chechnya what we are going through here.

Der Spiegel: That’s why you are confident Moscow will provide you with the S300 air defense system, which you have been waiting months for?

President Assad: He has said more than once that he will support Syria in different fields and that he is committed to the contracts signed between us. This doesn’t only apply to air defense systems but to other weapons as well which enable us to defend ourselves.

Der Spiegel: The international community will do everything to prevent arming you.

President Assad: What right do they have? We are a sovereign state, and we have the right to defend ourselves. We don’t occupy anybody’s land. Why isn’t the international community bothered when Israel gets all kinds of weapons? Why should Israel receive three submarines from Germany, despite the fact that it is an occupying power and still occupies our land? We have the right to arm ourselves in accordance with the U.N. charter. This is why the West isn’t objective in this position; it’s because of these double standards that we don’t trust the West.

Der Spiegel: Aren’t you concerned that Israel will shell the new defense system as soon as it arrives from Moscow?

President Assad: In our case, and in this state of war, we don’t allow ourselves to feel fear. We have to do everything to be strong; and we shall not allow anyone to destroy our armaments and military equipment.

Der Spiegel: And if it happened? President Assad: Then, if things come to that, we shall talk about it then.

Der Spiegel: In the past your rhetoric about Israel was more self-confident.

President Assad: No, we need peace and stability in this region. We have always been aware of this. When it comes to revenge and reacting to a strike, we need to ask ourselves: where would that lead, particularly now that we are fighting al-Qaeda. We need to be careful not to ignite a new war.

Der Spiegel: When will you win against al-Qaeda?

President Assad: When we restore stability; that’s why we must get rid of the terrorists. Then, we need to get rid of their ideology that has infiltrated certain areas of Syria, because it is more dangerous than terrorism itself. This ideology, which encourages an eight-year old boy to slaughter a man while adults and children watch and cheer as if they were watching a football match. This actually happened in northern Syria. Getting rid of this mentality and liberating ourselves from it is going to be more difficult than getting rid of the chemical weapons.

Der Spiegel: Such scenes might not be strange in states like Somalia, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but in Syria?

President Assad: The brutality we are witnessing in Syria is incredible. Think of the Bishop whose head the terrorists severed with a small knife.

Der Spiegel: Somalia, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been “failed” states for decades. Yet, you believe you can restore Syria back to pre-rebellion times?

President Assad: Concerning stability, yes, when an end is put to billions of dollars flowing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, when Turkey stops its logistical assistance to the terrorists. Then we can solve the problem in a few months.

Der Spiegel: Is a negotiated solution still possible?

President Assad: With the armed groups – no. My definition of the opposition is a political program or entity that doesn’t carry weapons. If they were to lay down their weapons and return to normal life, it would be possible to talk to such people. When we spoke earlier about defectors, it is also important to point out that now many of them are withdrawing from rebel camps and joining the fight on our side.

Der Spiegel: For the international community, you are responsible for escalating this conflict, which has no end in sight. How can you cope with such guilt?

President Assad: It’s not about me, but about Syria. The situation in Syria worries and saddens me; that’s where my concern is, I am not concerned for myself.

Der Spiegel: Do your wife and three children stand at your side?

President Assad: Certainly, they have never left Damascus for one moment.

Der Spiegel: Has it crossed your mind that your end will be similar to President Ceausescu of Romania, when he was killed by a group of his soldiers?

President Assad: I am not worried about myself. Had I been worried and fearful, I would have left Syria a long time ago.

Der Spiegel: Mr. President, thank you very much for this interview.

England’s Killing Fields: Badgers, Power and Protest

October 7th, 2013 by Lesley Docksey

 Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies

And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.  John Clare – The Badger

The lanes of Somerset and Gloucestershire are being haunted by people from all walks of life but they all have one thing in common – they want to bring a halt to the killing of badgers.  It takes dedication to turn out, night after night, being stopped and questioned by police and, on occasion harassed by those carrying out the highly unpopular badger cull.  And other people in other parts of Britain are preparing to do the same if culls take place in their area for, as I wrote in Part 1 of this article about the badger culls, the British government seems determined to kill badgers on any grounds – or none.

 When the government first proposed setting up two pilot badger culls there were howls of protest from wildlife and conservation bodies, people who loved badgers and not a few who knew the ‘science’ behind the proposal was, to say the least, selective.  A petition asking for the planned culls to be stopped, put on the government website by Queen guitarist Brian May, got more signatures than any other petition on the site.

 The reason given for the pilot culls was that they were designed to see if culling by shooting would help prevent TB in cattle, or at least lower the incidence of TB in cattle.  And here the government wilfully ignored or misquoted the results from the Kreb study and others in order to justify the killing.  The Kreb 10-year study concluded that culling badgers would at the very best lower the incidence of TB among cattle by 25%, would also spread the disease to unaffected areas and yet still leave farmers with the remaining 75% of the problem.

But under the current regime the Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is both pro-business and pro-landowners of the large estate variety.  The environment keeps losing out.  And the Tories, headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, are still the party of the rich and landed gentry.  They like killing things, whether it’s going to war or trashing our wildlife.  Their planned culls have the unswerving support of the National Farmers Union (NFU).

Brian May claims the NFU does not really represent the average farmer because only 18% of farmers are actually members.  I have failed to verify that figure, but as George Monbiot has written , they certainly act as a lobby group for the large land owners.  Before the culls started the NFU tried to get an injunction that would prevent all protest activity while culling was taking place.  The High Court refused that but did allow an injunction against some of the possible actions protesters might try to take.  Pity no one took out an injunction against the guns to control their behaviour. 

 On August 27 the cull started in Somerset, followed on September 3 by Gloucester.  It soon became apparent that, despite Defra’s publicity, the culls were not intended to help prevent the spread of TB.   For a start, not one of the culled badgers will be tested to see if they were carrying the disease.  Why not?  Surely good science would seize this opportunity to discover whether, in two ‘hot-spots’ for TB in cattle, there is also a high incidence of TB in the badger population?  But, as Somerset County Councillor Mike Rigby discovered after persistent questioning, Defra has no interest at all in that.  Indeed, he thinks Defra is frightened of finding out how little TB there might be in the local badgers.

 Now they say the culls are just to test whether free-running badgers could be killed ‘humanely’ by shooting.  What is humane?  On 14 September we learnt that the government’s Chief Vet had admitted that “There are, however, no definitive criteria for determining humaneness in this context.”  If they can’t tell if a badger has been killed humanely, then the key aim of these culls is obviously rubbish.

 Two weeks into the cull in Somerset things started to go wrong.  To satisfy the criteria of the cull, over 2000 Somerset badgers have to be shot within the 6-week period.  There were reports that marksmen were struggling to meet their ‘kill’ target – fewer than 100 badgers had apparently been killed in the first ten days, when they should by then have killed 500.  Then a ‘wounded badger patrol’, having earlier seen marksmen searching for a body, found a badger which had died from a single high-velocity shot – the inference being that it had not been dispatched instantly but managed to crawl away, horribly wounded, to die.  Defra was “confident” that the animal had not been killed as part of the cull becauseAll badgers killed as part of the pilot culls have been shot cleanly and killed instantly.”  Huh?

Policing of the cull in Somerset seems to be fairly quiet.  Not so in Gloucestershire, with several incidents and arrests reported.  In one incident, after being held for 20 hours, having their homes broken into by the police and in one case even being strip searched, computers, phones and cameras taken to “gather evidence”, all four protesters arrested for “aggravated trespass” had their charges dropped.  This has apparently made them, not intimidated as the police obviously hoped, but more determined to protect badgers than ever.

 Others were detained on suspicion of ‘aggravated trespass’ and were recorded being held by the roadside until ‘someone from the NFU can come to deliver an official warning’.  The man doing the recording pointed out that the NFU had no legal right to issue an official warning.  Were the police acting for the NFU rather than simply policing, he asked.  He was then escorted further down the road by a police Inspector, who said he might cause an ‘incident’.   When questioned further by the man with the camera, it turned out the policeman was not from the Gloucester police force.  Embarrassment all round and the protesters were ‘de-arrested’.

Protesters complained they were being shot at.  The police at first said it was fireworks and then that the ‘shots’ were coming from a crow scarer.  It turned out the crow scarer was being used by the cull operators solely to frighten the protestors.  Gloucester’s PCC Martin Surl criticised the operators’ behaviour, saying it “fell short” of what people expected.  It fell even shorter when a woman was assaulted and her car vandalised while monitoring the badger cull.  One of her companions was also attacked. The Master of the Ledbury Hunt was alleged to have been among the men doing the assaulting.  Now there’s a surprise.  Hunting deer, foxes and hares with hounds is now illegal but the Hunts still carry on and the Tories have vowed to repeal the law should they ever have a majority in Parliament.  In preparation for that happy future of wildlife-trashing, the famous Eton College is teaching its young charges how to hunt hares with its own beagle pack. “We are,” as Old Etonian David Cameron is so very fond of saying, “all in it together.”

 Just to demonstrate to everyone the power that the NFU has, the other day it was reported that a woman who works as a government farm inspector and with a professional background in conservation, was sacked because she had tweeted that she didn’t think the cull was an effective way of dealing with bovine TB.  The NFU complained to Defra and that was the end of 22 years service in government farming agencies.  It is outrageous that the NFU can be allowed to pull strings like that.

And, as we near the end of this awful exercise, news finally comes of the first arrest under the terms of the NFU injunction.  They spend all that money going to the High Court to get their injunction, and this is all they get?  There is one more week to go before the cull in Somerset finishes, and two more weeks in Gloucester, where anti-cull activists are currently reporting little or no shooting.  Doubtless they will have as few dead badgers after 6 weeks as in Somerset.

And then comes the moment of deafening silence while we all wait for Defra not to release the results of their pilot culls.  Although the plans were to kill a total of more than 5000 badgers, in order to see whether these poor harried animals can be shot ‘humanely’, Defra is arranging that only about 250 carcasses will actually be examined for ‘cleanness of kill’.  According to Councillor Rigby, the Somerset badgers will be examined by the people who shot them – how unbiased is that?

But when I spoke to Drew Pratten of the Stop the Cull group he said that the Gloucester badgers “will be examined by an independent panel selected by Defra”.  “Hardly independent then?” I said.  “No,” was the reply.

This whole thing has been an ill conceived, badly managed and pointless waste of money.  But Environment Minister Owen Paterson is determined to carry on.  Regardless of the results he insists  he will roll out 10 culls per year across the country.  “One of the things I can promise you is, as long as I am around, we will pursue methods to remove TB from our diseased badgers,” he said.  By killing them all, of course.  And my MP Oliver Letwin is looking forward to having a cull in my home patch – in which case I’ll be out at night, haunting the lanes and footpaths of Dorset.  Mike Rigby sees it differently:

“The cull has been so badly organised and the case for it is so flimsy, I am left wondering whether Defra has deliberately set it up to fail.  This would give them the opportunity to say to the NFU “Look we tried. We set up the legal framework for you to cull badgers and you made a hash of it.  So it won’t be rolled out elsewhere.”  I wonder this because this shambles cannot possibly be the result of the best efforts of a major Government Department in one of the world’s biggest economies.”

Sorry Mike, but I disagree.  Our current government has been very good indeed at producing shambles, and ‘shambles’ is exactly the right word to use here.  It is the old word for slaughterhouse.

Lesley Docksey

03/10/13

 

Seasoned CBS News Anchor: “Whenever I’m Asked What Is The Most Manipulative And Secretive Administration I’ve Covered, I Always Say It’s The One In Office Now”

American constitutional experts say that Obama is worse than Nixon.

The government has taken to protecting criminal wrongdoing by attacking whistleblowers … and any  journalists who have the nerve to report on the beans spilled by the whistleblowers.  (The government has also repealed long-standing laws against using propaganda against Americans on U.S. soil, and the government is manipulating social media – more proof here and here).

The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

And it goes out of its way to smear whistleblowersthreaten reporters who discuss whistleblower information and harass honest analysts.

Journalism is not only being criminalized in America, but investigative reporting is actually treated liketerrorism.

The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

After the government’s spying on the Associated Press made it clear to everyone that the government is trying to put a chill journalism, the senior national-security correspondent for Newsweek tweeted:

Serious idea. Instead of calling it Obama’s war on whistleblowers, let’s just call it what it is: Obama’s war on journalism.

Moreover:

  • The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officers,  bloggers and anyone else who criticized the Iraq war
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)

And the American government has been instrumental in locking up journalists in America (and here),Yemen and elsewhere for the crime of embarrassing the U.S. government.

Moreover, while the Obama administration is spying on everyone in the country – it is at the same time the most secretive administration ever (background). That’s despite Obama saying he’s running the most transparent administration ever.

The Washington Post reports:

With the passage of the Patriot Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a vast expansion of intelligence agencies and their powers, the aggressive exploitation of intrusive digital surveillance capabilities, the excessive classification of public documents and officials’ sophisticated control of the news media’s access to the workings of government, journalists who cover national security are facing vast and unprecedented challenges in their efforts to hold the government accountable to its citizens. They find that government officials are increasingly fearful of talking to them, and they worry that their communications with sources can be monitored at any time.So what are they doing? Many reporters covering national security and government policy in Washington these days are taking precautions to keep their sources from becoming casualties in the Obama administration’s war on leaks. They and their remaining government sources often avoid telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges, arranging furtive one-on-one meetings instead. A few news organizations have even set up separate computer networks and safe rooms for journalists trained in encryption and other ways to thwart surveillance.

“I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or e-mails,” said veteran national security journalist R. Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit accountability news organization. “It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for government to monitor those contacts.”

“We have to think more about when we use cellphones, when we use e-mail and when we need to meet sources in person,” said Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press. “We need to be more and more aware that government can track our work without talking to our reporters, without letting us know.”

These concerns, expressed by numerous journalists I interviewed, are well-founded. Relying on the 1917 Espionage Act, which was rarely invoked before President Obama took office, this administration has secretly used the phone and e-mail records of government officials and reporters to identify and prosecute government sources for national security stories.

***

In addition to ongoing leak investigations, six government employees and two contractors, including fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have been prosecuted since 2009 under the Espionage Act for providing information to reporters about, among other subjects, the NSA’s communications surveillance, the CIA’s aggressive interrogation of terrorism suspects and, in the case of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, diplomatic cables and Iraq and Afghanistan war documents.

***

The Obama administration has drawn a dubious distinction between whistleblowing that reveals bureaucratic waste or fraud, and leaks to the news media about unexamined secret government policies and activities; it punishes the latter as espionage.

***

Every disclosure to the press of classified information now triggers a leak investigation, said Washington Post national news editor Cameron Barr. “Investigations can be done electronically. They don’t need to compel journalists to reveal sources.”

The Post’s Justice Department reporter, Sari Horwitz, said a Justice official told her that “access to e-mail, phone records and cellphones make it easier to do now.”

After the New York Times published a 2012 story by David E. Sanger about covert cyberattacks by the United States and Israel against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, federal prosecutors and the FBI questioned scores of officials throughout the government who were identified in computer analyses of phone, text and e-mail records as having contact with Sanger.

“A memo went out from the chief of staff a year ago to White House employees and the intelligence agencies that told people to freeze and retain any e-mail, and presumably phone logs, of communications with me,” Sanger said. As a result, longtime sources no longer talk to him. “They tell me: ‘David, I love you, but don’t e-mail me. Let’s don’t chat until this blows over.’ ”

Sanger, who has worked for the Times in Washington for two decades, said, “This is most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

***

A survey of government departments and agencies this summer by the Washington bureau of McClatchy newspapers found that they had wide latitude in defining what kinds of behavior constitute a threat. “Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material,” it reported in June. “They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for ‘high-risk persons or behaviors’ among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.”

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told me that the Insider Threat Program has already “created internal surveillance, heightened a degree of paranoia in government and made people conscious of contacts with the public, advocates and the press.”

***

“People think they’re looking at reporters’ records,” Post national security reporter Dana Priest told me. “I’m writing fewer things in e-mail. I’m even afraid to tell officials what I want to talk about because it’s all going into one giant computer.”

***

“Whenever I’m asked what is the most manipulative and secretive administration I’ve covered, I always say it’s the one in office now,” Bob Schieffer, CBS News anchor and chief Washington correspondent, told me.“Every administration learns from the previous administration. They become more secretive and put tighter clamps on information. This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”

On Sunday, for the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the 1973 October War between Israel and a coalition of Arab states, the military-backed interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Alliance called for rival protests across Egypt.

At least 49 anti-regime protesters were killed and hundreds injured and arrested in protests over the weekend. On Friday, four people had reportedly been shot dead in the southern city of Assiut and another one in the capital, Cairo. On Sunday, at least 44 protesters were killed by security forces working together with armed thugs. According to the Egyptian health ministry, 32 people were killed in Cairo, four in Beni Suef, and two in Delga and in Minya. Eight more deaths were as yet unaccounted for.

The interior ministry claimed that 423 supporters of former president Mohamed Mursi were arrested while trying to “storm Egyptian public squares.”

Cairo and other Egyptian cities resembled armed camps, with military helicopters hovering in the air and army tanks and infantry units on the ground. Streets were barricaded and highways reinforced by army checkpoints. Symbolizing the repressive character of the junta of General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Tahrir Square, the iconic center of the Egyptian Revolution, was surrounded by tanks, its entrances patrolled by soldiers and Egypt’s notorious Central Security Forces.

Anti-regime protests were organized by the Muslim Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Alliance, which has regularly called protests since Mursi’s ouster in a July 3 military coup. Despite a bloody crackdown on the MB—thousands of whose members have been killed or arrested since the coup—the largest Islamist organization in Egypt can still mobilize thousands of its members. However, its protests apparently did not gain broader support from Egypt’s working masses.

While the Brotherhood still demands Mursi’s reinstatement as president, it combined its protest call with an appeal to the military signaling the possibility of future reconciliation talks. In its official statement, the Anti-Coup Alliance called on its supporters “to celebrate that victory’s army and leaders” and asked the army to “go back to its true fighting doctrine.”

Military and security forces brutally prevented pro-MB protesters from reaching Tahrir Square using armored vehicles, tear gas and live ammunition.

Official celebrations organized by the junta on Tahrir Square and before the presidential palace in Cairo received less support, not exceeding a few thousand participants. This explodes the big lie promoted by the junta and its liberal and pseudo-left supporters that there is mass popular support for renewed military rule in Egypt.

On the contrary, there are increasing signs that under the Sisi dictatorship, Egypt is heading towards major social upheaval.

After the junta brutally suppressed two major strikes at Suez Steel and the Scimitar Petroleum Company in August, it is now desperately seeking to curb growing social discontent with populist gestures.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi’s promised to increase the minimum wage for government staff from 700 Egyptian pounds (100 $US) to 1,200 next year. The government also announced it would accept a court order to renationalize two companies that were privatized under ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. The military also reportedly distributed food in several governorates to boost its image before Armed Forces Day.

At the same time, the junta and its allies stepped up their nationalist propaganda to delegitimize protests and provide the military a cover to intensify the suppression of protests against its rule.

In a speech on state television on Saturday, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour called on all Egyptians to go to “every district, street and square of Egypt to celebrate your victory and support your army.” Presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Muslimani stated that “protesters against the army on the anniversary of [October 6] victory will be carrying out the duties of agents, not activists.”

Hassan Shahin, the spokesperson of the Tamarod campaign—which played the central role in channeling the mass working class protests against Mursi behind the military before the July 3 coup—stressed in a press conference that they back the army and police in their “war against terrorism.” He promised that “those who came down on 30 June and imposed their will on everybody and defended it will come down tomorrow to the squares to celebrate with the army.”

Shahin claimed that the 1973 war saw Egypt fight off the “Zionist enemy,” comparing Israel’s “terrorism” to the Muslim Brotherhood. “We live under the same terror from an internal enemy called the Muslim Brotherhood that is supported by the American and Zionist enemies,” he said. “Anyone who stands against the celebrations of October is outside the context of Egyptian nationalism and is considered a Zionist enemy.”

The attempt by the junta and its petty-bourgeois supporters to portray themselves as a national, even anti-imperialist, force is a farce. All the factions of the Egyptian bourgeoisie are bound by a thousand threads to imperialism and defend the same fundamental class interests. The Egyptian military is financed by the US and has continued the basic policies of the Mursi regime, which was also backed by Washington prior to the coup.

While Washington canceled joint military exercises with the Egyptian army and halted delivery of four F-16 fighter jets immediately after the junta’s massacre of thousands of MB supporters on August 14, it is now resuming its military cooperation.

On Thursday, Egypt’s army chief of staff Lieutenant General Sedki Sobhi met with Lieutenant General James L. Terry, head of the infantry forces in the US Central Command. According to Egypt’s MENA state news agency, the two military leaders discussed bilateral cooperation and joint military exercises between the Egyptian and the US armies.

In the meanwhile the Egyptian military continues its so-called offensive against “terrorism’’ on the Sinai. On Sunday it reportedly killed four gunmen near a checkpoint on the Cairo-Ismailia road. The army has killed around 100 alleged Islamists on the Sinai over the past two months, in what officials described as the largest mobilization of force in the area since the 1973 war.

The offensive is closely coordinated with Israel, which now regards the Egyptian army as a partner in sealing off the Gaza strip and maintaining the oppression of the Palestinian people.

The real alignment of forces and the official propaganda surrounding the anniversary of the October War exposes the class character of the entire Egyptian bourgeoisie—be it the military, the Islamists or the liberal and petty-bourgeois left forces. It was precisely the October War which paved the way for the Egyptian ruling class to enter into an alliance with US imperialism and Israel abroad and intensify the attacks on the working class at home.

As Egyptian scholar Naadia Ramsis Farah noted in a 2009 study: “For Egypt to broker an understanding with the west, and especially with the United States, Sadat opted for a limited war in 1973 to bring the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict to the international agenda and to raise options for settlement of the conflict. One year later, President Sadat declared an Open Door (liberalization) economic policy.”

All the bitter experiences since and especially throughout the mass revolutionary struggles in the past two and a half years have vindicated the perspective that only the working class can lead a struggle against imperialism and for democratic and social rights in Egypt and the Middle East.

On Saturday, US commandos launched simultaneous raids in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and on the Somali coastal town of Barawe, 110 miles south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in blatant violation of Libyan and Somali national sovereignty.

The Barawe raid, carried out by Navy SEALs, encountered heavy resistance and was repulsed before it could reach its target, which anonymous US officials said was a “senior leader” of Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militia. The US raid was apparently in retaliation for the September 21 attack on the luxury Westgate mall in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, for which Al Shabab took responsibility. It said the attack was carried out to punish Kenya for its participation in the US-led war against Al Shabab.

US officials said that the Tripoli raid led to the capture of Al Qaeda leader Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known as Abu Anas al-Liby. They added that he was “no longer in Libya,” indicating that he was in US custody, possibly bound for trial in New York City. Al-Liby faces a 2000 grand jury indictment accusing him of helping plan Al Qaeda’s 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania., which killed 224 people.

There were conflicting reports about al-Liby’s capture. Some said he was seized by US Special Forces after morning prayers near Tripoli’s Airport Road. Other reports said that he was seized by Libyan forces to obtain the $5 million reward offered by Washington for his capture.

Speaking for his mother at the family’s home in Tripoli, al-Liby’s 20-year-old son Abdullah al-Ruqai told reporters his father had been seized by local fighters: “They had a Libyan look and Libyan accents. They took him out of his car after breaking the window. They put him in a Mercedes and left.”

Al-Liby’s son denied that his father was involved in the 1998 embassy attacks, adding that his family had hired a lawyer to resolve the charges. He asked that his father be tried in Libya: “If they have any evidence, they should show it. I agree my father can go to trial, but it should be here in Libya.”

He said that his father had returned to Libya in October 2012—a year after the end of the NATO war in Libya which, relying on Al Qaeda-linked forces including veterans of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), toppled the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Hashim Bishr, the head of the Tripoli Supreme Security Committee (SSC) set up after the NATO war, echoed the family’s accounts that al-Liby had been captured by local forces.

Libya’s weak central government, fearing an eruption of popular anger after the US raid, issued a statement demanding an explanation: “The Libyan government is following the news of a kidnapping of a Libyan citizen who is wanted by US authorities. The Libyan government has contacted US authorities to ask them to provide an explanation.”

Islamist militia commander Abdul Bassit Haroun, whose forces now work with the central government, claimed the Libyan was not informed of the raid: “It is very bad that no state institutions had the slightest information about this process, nor do they have a force which was able to capture [al-Liby]. This means the Libyan state simply does not exist.”

US officials hailed the raids as a success, despite being held off in Barawe. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a brief statement, declaring: “I want to commend all of the service members who were involved in the planning and execution of these two operations, which demonstrate the unparalleled precision, global reach, and capabilities of the United States military.”

From Indonesia, where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared: “We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold accountable those who conduct acts of terror. Those members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run, but they can’t hide.”

In fact, the raids emerge from the de facto alliance and operational link that Washington has established with Al Qaeda-linked forces in much of the Middle East and Africa. Washington relied on such forces as the bulk of their ground troops in the war in Libya and then turned to Al Qaeda-linked forces as the spearhead of their war to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The US “war on terror” in the region, far from fighting Al Qaeda, has boosted it immensely, which US imperialism has seized upon as a pretext to launch more neo-colonial attacks in the region.

US allies such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have plunged large funds into supporting such terrorist operations, which were aided by the broad dissemination of weapons from Libyan stockpiles in the chaos in Libya that followed Gaddafi’s fall.

As with the original Al Qaeda group led by Osama bin Laden, which aided the CIA in the 1980s war in Afghanistan against the USSR, the US alliance with these reactionary Islamist forces came back to haunt the US. While the “blowback” after the Soviet-Afghan war included the 1998 embassy bombings and the September 11 attacks, the war in Libya and Syria have already led to events like the Westgate mall attack or the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. There, Islamist forces attacked and killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The New York Times commented that al-Liby’s capture was a break with “Washington’s previous reluctance to send American Special Operations forces into Libya.” Previously, the US government “refrained from such interventions for fear of setting off a backlash that could destabilize or overwhelm Libya’s fledgling transitional government … But American officials have now apparently run out of patience, signaling a new willingness to try to apprehend suspects in the Benghazi attack, as well.”

In Somalia, central government officials said that the likely target of the US raid in Barawe was a Chechen Islamist commander, and Somali police claimed seven people were killed in the raid.

Initial reports from Al Shabab claimed the attackers were British and Turkish Special Forces, one of whom killed. Al Shabab officials said, “Westerners in boats attacked our base at Barawe beach, and one was martyred from our side. No planes or helicopters took part in the fight. The attackers left weapons, medicine, and stains of blood, and we chased them. Although we both exchanged grenades, the attackers had silencer guns, so the weapons heard were ours.”

British, Turkish, and French officials all denied that their forces were involved, however, and after initially declining comment, US officials took responsibility for the raid.

NATO forces have repeatedly invaded the region of Barawe, where Al Shabab leader Ahmed Ali Godane reportedly resided in the past. The town was attacked by US forces in 2009, killing six, and by French forces in January in a failed mission to rescue a captured intelligence agent. US, British, and French warships maintain a permanent presence along strategic oil shipping lanes off the Somali coast, US and France have military bases in neighboring Djibouti, and the US has repeatedly launched drone strikes in Somalia.

Yesterday Al Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab denounced the US-backed regime in Somalia that is fighting Al Shabab: “The apostate Somali government is nothing in Somalia, no one asked them for permission to carry out the attack.”

He also denied that any senior Al Shabab commanders were present in Barawe when the US Navy SEALs attacked on Saturday: “Ordinary fighters lived in the house, and they bravely counter-attacked and chased off the attackers.”

Before World War Two American government, for all of its glaring faults, also served as a model for the world of limited government, having evolved a system of restraints on executive power through its constitutional arrangement of checks and balances. All that changed with America’s emergence as a dominant world power, and further after the Vietnam War.

Since 9/11, above all, constitutional American government has been overshadowed by a series of emergency measures to fight terrorism. The latter have mushroomed in size and budget, while traditional government has been shrunk. As a result we have today what the journalist Dana Priest has called

two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre – and its entirety…visible only to God.1

More and more, it is becoming common to say that America, like Turkey before it, now has what Marc Ambinder and John Tirman have called a deep state behind the public one.2 And this parallel government is guided in surveillance matters by its own Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, which according to the New York Times “has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.”3 Thanks largely to Edward Snowden, it is now clear that the FISA Court has permitted this deep state to expand surveillance beyond the tiny number of known and suspected Islamic terrorists, to any incipient protest movement that might challenge the policies of the American war machine.

Most Americans have by and large not questioned this parallel government, accepting that sacrifices of traditional rights and traditional transparency are necessary to keep us safe from al-Qaeda attacks. However secret power is unchecked power, and experience of the last century has only reinforced the truth of Lord Acton’s famous dictum that unchecked power always corrupts. It is time to consider the extent to which American secret agencies have developed a symbiotic relationship with the forces they are supposed to be fighting – and have even on occasion intervened to let al-Qaeda terrorists proceed with their plots.

For indeed it is certain that on various occasions U.S. agencies have intervened, letting al-Qaeda terrorists proceed with their plots. This alarming statement will be dismissed by some as “conspiracy theory.” Yet I will show that this claim does not arise from theory, but from facts, about incidents that are true even though they have been systematically suppressed or under-reported in the American mainstream media.

I am describing a phenomenon that occurred not just once, but repeatedly, almost predictably. We shall see that, among the al-Qaeda terrorists who were first protected and then continued their activities were

1) Ali Mohamed, identified in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 68) as the leader of the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing;

2) Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s close friend and financier while in the Philippines of Ramzi Yousef (principle architect of the first WTC attack) and his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

3) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, identified in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 145) as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

4) Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, whose presence in the United States was concealed from the FBI by CIA officers for months before 9/11.4

It might sound from these citations that the 9/11 Commission marked a new stage in the U.S. treatment of these terrorists, and that the Report now exposed those terrorists who in the past had been protected. On the contrary, a principal purpose of my essay is to show that

1) one purpose of protecting these individuals had been to protect a valued intelligence connection (the “Al-Qaeda connection” if you will);

2) one major intention of the 9/11 Commission Report was to continue protecting this connection;

3) those on the 9/11 Commission staff who were charged with this protection included at least one commission member (Jamie Gorelick), one staff member (Dietrich Snell) and one important witness (Patrick Fitzgerald) who earlier had figured among the terrorists’ protectors.

In the course of writing this essay, I came to another disturbing conclusion I had not anticipated. This is that a central feature of the protection has been to defend the 9/11 Commission’s false picture of al-Qaeda as an example of non-state terrorism, at odds with not just the CIA but also the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In reality, as I shall show, royal family protection from Qatar and Saudi Arabia (concealed by the 9/11 Commission) was repeatedly given to key figures like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

The establishment claims that the wars fought by America in Asia since 9/11 have been part of a global “war on terror.” But this “war,” or pseudo-war, has been fought in alliance with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan – precisely the principal political and financial backers of the jihadi terrorist networks the U.S. has supposedly been fighting. Meanwhile the most authentic opponents in the region of these Sunni jihadi terrorists – the governments of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran – have found themselves overthrown (in the case of Iraq and Libya) subverted with U.S. support (in the case of Syria), or sanctioned and threatened as part of an “axis of evil” (in the case of Iran). We should not forget that, just one day after 9/11, “Rumsfeld was talking about broadening the objectives of our response and ‘getting Iraq.’”5

To understand US involvement in the area I believe we must look at the complex of networks behind the recent U.S. campaign against Osama bin Laden and his followers in al-Qaeda. In fact both British and U.S. intelligence have had a deep and complex involvement for decades with the emerging movement of political Islam – a movement exemplified above all by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) or Ikhwan, and its many spinoffs, of which al-Qaeda is but one.

The MB itself should be regarded more as a movement than as a formal organization. Like the civil rights movement in America, it has been in continuous flux, and comprised of many tendencies, leading to some alliances that are nonviolent, others that are violent. Its complex relationships with the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also been in flux.

In the 1950s, when the Soviet Union and Nasserite nationalism were seen as enemies, MI-6 and the CIA developed mostly positive links with the MB and its allies. What follows in this essay suggests that, even since the fall of the USSR, the U.S. has repeatedly chosen on occasion to preserve its long-term relationship with violent elements of the MB.6

I conclude that the pseudo-war has been fought for other motives than the official one of fighting terrorism – indeed few informed observers would contest the obvious and often-voiced observation, from U.S. intelligence analysts among others, that U.S. wars overseas (as opposed to intelligence and police actions) have radically increased the dangers of terrorism, not reduced them.7 Among the hidden motives, two stand out. One is the intention to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in the oil- and gas-rich regions of Central Asia. Another is to justify a permanent domestic apparatus, in part to contain the threat of opposition to militarist policies, opposition either by direct action or by the publication (as in this essay) of suppressed truths.8

The protection to terrorists described in this essay, in other words, has been sustained partly in order to support the false ideology that has underlain U.S. Asian wars, disguised as a war on terror, for more than a decade. And the blame cannot be assigned all to the Saudis. Two months before 9/11, FBI counterterrorism expert John O’Neill described to the French journalist Jean-Charles Brisard America’s “impotence” in getting help from Saudi Arabia concerning terrorist networks. The reason? In Brisard’s paraphrase, “Just one: the petroleum interests.”9 Former CIA officer Robert Baer voiced a similar complaint about the lobbying influence of “the Foreign Oil Companies Group, a cover for a cartel of major petroleum companies doing business in the Caspian. . . . The deeper I got, the more Caspian oil money I found sloshing around Washington.”10

The decade of protection for terrorists demonstrates the power of this extra dimension to the American deep state: the dark forces in our society responsible for protecting terrorists, over and above the parallel government institutionalized on and after 9/11.11 Although I cannot securely define these dark forces, I hope to demonstrate that they are related to the black hole at the heart of the complex U.S-Saudi connection, a complex that involves the oil majors like Exxon, the Pentagon’s domination of oil and gas movements from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, offsetting arms sales, Saudi investments in major U.S. corporations like Citibank and the Carlyle Group, and above all the ultimate United States dependency on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and OPEC, for the defense of the petrodollar.12 The apparatus of U.S. security appears to have been hijacked by these deeper forces, in order to protect terrorists who should have been reined in. And the governing media have been complicit in concealing this situation.

In other words, this profound dimension of the deep state, behind its institutional manifestation in our parallel government, is a far greater threat than foreign terrorism to the preservation of U.S. democracy.

The FBI’s Intervention with the RCMP to Release Ali Mohamed, 1993

Let me begin this essay with the FBI’s instruction in 1993 to the Canadian RCMP to release the al-Qaeda organizer Mohamed Ali, who then proceeded to Nairobi in the same year to begin planning the U.S. Embassy bombing of 1998.

In early 1993 a wanted Egyptian terrorist named Essam Hafez Marzouk, a close ally of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, arrived at Canada’s Vancouver Airport and was promptly detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A second terrorist named Mohamed Ali, “the primary U.S. intelligence agent for Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden,” came from California to the airport to meet him; and, not finding him, made the mistake of asking about his friend at the Vancouver airport customs office. As a result the RCMP interrogated Mohamed Ali for two days, but finally released him, even though Ali had clearly come in order to smuggle a wanted terrorist into the United States.13

If the RCMP had detained Mohamed Ali, who was much bigger game than the first terrorist, hundreds of lives might have been saved. After being released, Ali went on to Nairobi, Kenya. There in December 1993 he and his team photographed the U.S. Embassy, and then delivered the photos to Osama bin Laden in Khartoum, leading to the Embassy bombing of 1998.14 Ali later told an FBI agent that at some point he also trained al Qaeda terrorists in how to hijack airplanes using box cutters.15

The RCMP release of Ali Mohamed was unjustified, clearly had historic consequences, and may have contributed to 9/11. Yet the FBI authorized it: Ali Mohamed gave the RCMP the phone number of an FBI agent, John Zent, in the San Francisco FBI office, and told them, “If they called that number, the agent on the other end of the line would vouch for him.” As Ali had predicted, Zent ordered his release.16

Ali Mohamed was an important double agent, of major interest to more important U.S. authorities than Zent. Although Mohamed was at last arrested in September 1998 for his role in the Nairobi Embassy bombing, the USG still had not sentenced him in 2006; and he may still not have gone to jail.17

The story of his release in Vancouver and its consequences is another example of the dangers of working with double agents. One can never be sure if the agent is working for his movement, for his agency, or – perhaps most likely – for increasing his own power and influence along with that of both his movement and his agency, by increasing violence in the world.18

Ali Mohamed’s Release as a Deep Event Ignored by the U.S. Media

Mohamed’s release in Vancouver was a deep event, by which I mean an event predictably suppressed in the media and still not fully understandable. A whole chapter in my book The Road to 9/11 was not enough to describe Mohamed’s intricate relationships at various times with the CIA, U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg, the murder of Jewish extremist Meir Kahane, and finally the cover-up of 9/11 perpetrated by the 9/11 Commission and their witness, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (Mohamed’s former prosecutor).19

The deep event is also an example of deep politics, a mixture of intrigue and suppression involving not just a part of the U.S. Government, but also the governing media. To this day (according to a 2013 search of Lexis Nexis) the Vancouver release incident, well covered in Canada’s leading newspaper The Toronto Globe and Mail (December 22, 2001), has never been mentioned in any major American newspaper.

More disturbingly, it is not even hinted at in the otherwise well-informed books and articles about Ali Mohamed by Steven Emerson, Peter Bergen, and Lawrence Wright.20 Nor is there any mention of it in the best insider’s book about the FBI and Ali Mohamed, The Black Banners, by former FBI agent Ali Soufan (a book that was itself heavily and inexcusably censored by the CIA, after being cleared for publication by the FBI).21 Since first publishing this paragraph, I have noticed that former CIA officer Michael Scheuer also faults both Steve Coll and Lawrence Wright for their “whole-hog acceptance of the Saudi narrative” that minimizes U.S.-Saudi differences.22

There is no doubt about the FBI’s responsibility for Mohamed’s release. It (along with other FBI anomalies in handling Mohamed) is frankly acknowledged in a Pentagon Security bio on Mohamed:

In early 1993, Mohamed was detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at the Vancouver, Canada, airport. He had come to the airport to meet an Egyptian who had arrived from Damascus but was found to be carrying two forged Saudi passports. When Mohamed was about to be arrested as well, he told the RCMP he was collaborating with the FBI and gave them a name and phone number to call to confirm this. The RCMP made the call and Mohamed was released immediately at the request of the FBI. When the FBI subsequently questioned Mohamed about this incident, he offered information about a ring in California that was selling counterfeit documents to smugglers of illegal aliens. This is the earliest hard evidence that is publicly available of Mohamed being an FBI informant.23

Contrast this official candor about the FBI responsibility for Mohamed’s release with the suppression of it in a much longer account of Mohamed (3200 words) by Benjamin Weiner and James Risen in the New York Times:

[In 1993] he was stopped by the border authorities in Canada, while traveling in the company of a suspected associate of Mr. bin Laden’s who was trying to enter the United States using false documents.

Soon after, Mr. Mohamed was questioned by the F.B.I., which had learned of his ties to Mr. bin Laden. Apparently in an attempt to fend off the investigators, Mr. Mohamed offered information about a ring in California that was selling counterfeit documents to smugglers of illegal aliens. 24

A long Wall Street Journal account massages the facts even more evasively:

At about the same time [1993], the elusive Mr. Mohamed popped up again on the FBI radar screen with information that underscored the emerging bin Laden threat. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police questioned Mr. Mohamed in the spring of 1993 after his identification was discovered on another Arab man trying to enter the U.S. from Vancouver — a man Mr. Mohamed identified as someone who had helped him move Mr. bin Laden to Sudan. The FBI located Mr. Mohamed near San Francisco in 1993, where he volunteered the earliest insider description of al Qaeda that is publicly known.25

In 1998, after the Embassy bombings, Mohamed was finally arrested. In the ensuing trial an FBI Agent, Daniel Coleman, entered a court affidavit (approved by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald) which summarized the Vancouver incident as follows:

In 1993, MOHAMED advised the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) that he had provided intelligence and counter-intelligence training in Afghanistan to a particular individual…. MOHAMED admitted that he had travelled to Vancouver, Canada, in the spring of 1993 to facilitate the entry of that individual into the United States…. MOHAMED further admitted that he and the individual had transported Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan to the Sudan in 1991…. MOHAMED told the RCMP that he was in the process of applying for a job as an FBI interpreter and did not want this incident to jeopardize the application. (In fact, MOHAMED then had such an application pending though he was never hired as a translator.)26

Like the American media, this FBI affidavit suppressed the fact that Mohamed, an admitted ally of Osama bin Laden caught red-handed with another known terrorist, was released on orders from the FBI.

The Two Levels of American History: Official History and Deep History

The whole episode illustrates what has become all too common in recent American history, the way in which secret bureaucratic policies can take priority over the public interest, even to the point of leading to mass murder

(since it contributed at a minimum to the 1998 Embassy bombings, if not also 9/11). It is also an example of what I mean by the two levels of history in America, We can refer to them as those historical facts officially acknowledged, and those facts officially suppressed; or alternatively as those facts fit to be mentioned in the governing media, and those suppressed by the same media. This leads in turn to two levels of historical narrative: official or archival history, which ignores or marginalizes deep events, and a second level – called deep history by its practitioners or “conspiracy theory” by its critics – which incorporates them. The task of deep political research is to recover deep events from this second level.

This activity sets deep political research at odds with the governing media, but not, I believe with the national interest. Quite the contrary. Speaking personally as an ex-diplomat, I should state clearly that the national interest does occasionally require secrets, at least for a time. Kissinger’s trip to China, for example, which led to a normalization of U.S.-Chinese relations, probably required secrecy (at least at the time) in order to succeed.

When insiders and the governing media collaborate in the keeping of a secret, as in the case of the FBI-ordered release of Mohamed, they probably persuade themselves that they are protecting, not just the FBI, but national security, indeed, the national interest. However national security in this case was conspicuously not served by the subsequent embassy bombings, let alone by 9/11.

In the glaring gap between these two levels of history is a third level — that of the privileged books about Mohamed – privileged in the sense that they have access to sources denied to others – that give important but selective parts of the truth. This selectivity is not necessarily culpable; it may for example be due to pressure from lawyers representing Saudi millionaires (a pressure I have yielded to myself).27 But cumulatively it is misleading.

I owe a considerable debt in particular to Lawrence Wright’s book, The Looming Tower, which helped expose many problems and limitations in the official account of 9/11. But I see now in retrospect that I, like many others, have been delayed by its selectivity on many matters (including for example Mohamed’s RCMP release) from developing a less warped understanding of the truth.

The Longer History of FBI and USG Protection for Ali Mohamed

Why did John Zent vouchsafe for Mohamed in 1993, so that the RCMP released him? The explanation of Peter Lance, the best chronicler of FBI culpability in both the first and second WTC attacks, is that Zent did so because Mohamed was already working as his personal informant, “feeding Zent ‘intelligence’ on Mexican smugglers who were moving illegal immigrants into the United States from the South.”28 (FBI agent Cloonan confirms that Mohamed had been working as a local FBI informant since 1992.29) Elsewhere Lance describes Zent as “trusting and distracted,” so that he failed to realize Mohamed’s importance.30

But the FBI’s protection of Ali Mohamed did not begin with Zent, nor was it limited to him. It dated back at least to 1989, when (according to the Pentagon Security bio)

While serving in the Army at Fort Bragg, he traveled on weekends to Jersey City, NJ, and to Connecticut to train other Islamic fundamentalists in surveillance, weapons and explosives. … Telephone records show that while at Fort Bragg and later, Mohamed maintained a very close and active relationship with the Office of Services [Makhtab-al-Khidimat] of the Mujihadeen, in Brooklyn, which at that time was recruiting volunteers and soliciting funds for the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. This was the main recruitment center for the network that, after the Soviets left Afghanistan, became known as al-Qaida….

The FBI observed and photographed Mohamed giving weapons training to a group of New York area residents during four successive weekends in July 1989. They drove from the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn to a shooting range in Calverton, Long Island, and they fired AK-47 assault rifles, semiautomatic handguns and revolvers during what appeared to be training sessions. For reasons that are unknown, the FBI then ceased its surveillance of the group.31

(Similarly in 1993 an FBI supervisor would again abruptly close down surveillance of another group from the al-Kifah Center at a militant training camp in Pennsylvania.)32

In the subsequent trial of Mohamed’s trainees and others for bombing the World Trade Center, the defense attorney, Roger Stavis, established that Mohamed was giving the al-Kifah trainees “courses on how to make bombs, how to use guns, how to make Molotov cocktails.” He showed the court that a training manual seized in Nosair’s apartment “showed how to make explosives and some kind of improvised weapons and explosives.”33

So why would the FBI, after having discovered terrorist training, then cease its surveillance? Here the Wall Street Journal gives the correct answer: the FBI ceased surveillance because they somehow determined that the men were training “to help the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan.”34 (Note however that the mujahedeen were no longer fighting the Soviet army itself, which had been withdrawn from Afghanistan as of March 1989.)

Al-Kifah, Ali Mohamed, the Flow of Arabs to Afghanistan

Afghanistan is indeed a plausible explanation for the FBI’s terminating its videotaping of jihadists from the Brooklyn Al-Kifah Refugee Center. Incorporated officially in 1987 as “Afghan Refugee Services, Inc.,” the Al-Kifah Center “was the recruitment hub for U.S.-based Muslims seeking to fight the Soviets. As many as two hundred fighters were funneled through the center to Afghanistan.”35 More importantly, it was

a branch of the Office of Services [Makhtab-al-Khidimat], the Pakistan-based organization that Osama bin Laden helped finance and lead and would later become al Qaeda. In fact, it was Mustafa Shalabi, an Egyptian who founded and ran the center, whom bin Laden called in 1991 when he needed help moving to Sudan.36

As we shall see, the Makhtab, created in 1984 to organize Saudi financial support to the foreign “Arab Afghans” in the jihad, was part of a project that had the fullest support of the Saudi, Egyptian, and U.S. Governments. And Ali Mohamed, who answered bin Laden’s call to Shalabi, and who remained in the US Army Reserves until August 1994, was clearly an important trainer in that project, in Egypt, in Afghanistan, and finally in America.

A privileged account of Mohamed’s career by Peter Bergen, in Holy Wars, Inc., claims that

Ali Mohamed…was an indispensable player in al-Qaeda…. At some point in the early eighties he proffered his services as an informant to the CIA, the first of his several attempts to work for the U.S. government. The Agency was in contact with him for a few weeks but broke off relations after determining he was “unreliable.” That would turn out to be a masterful understatement, as Mohamed was already a member of Egypt’s terrorist Jihad group. After being discharged from the Egyptian Army in 1984, Mohamed [took] a job in the counterterrorism department of Egyptair. The following year he moved to the United States,37

Bergen’s most serious omission here is that Mohamed, though he was on the State Department’s visa watch list, had been admitted to the U.S. in 1984 “on a visa-waiver program that was sponsored by the agency [i.e. CIA] itself, one designed to shield valuable assets or those who have performed valuable services for the country.”38 This should be enough to question the CIA’s account that it found Mohamed “unreliable.” (Later, one of Mohamed’s officers at Fort Bragg was also convinced that Mohamed was “sponsored” by a U.S. intelligence service, “I assumed the CIA.”)39 In addition Bergen omits that, before Mohamed’s brief stint as a formal CIA agent, he had been selected out of the Egyptian army in 1981 for leadership training at Fort Bragg – an important point to which we shall return.40

The FBI’s Cover-Up of Ali Mohamed’s Connection to the Kahane Murder

The CIA may have wanted to think that the Al-Kifah training was only for Afghanistan. But the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the mentor of the Center whom the CIA brought to America in 1990, was preaching for the killing of Jews and also for the destruction of the West.41 His preachings guided Mohamed’s Makhtab trainees: as a first step, in November 1990, three of them conspired to kill Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League.

Kahane’s actual killer, El Sayyid Nosair, was detained by accident almost immediately, and by luck the police soon found his two coconspirators, Mahmoud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh, waiting at Nosair’s house. Also at the house, according to John Miller (formerly of the FBI),

were training manuals from the Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg [where Ali Mohamed at the time was a training officer]. There were copies of teletypes that had been routed to the Secretary of the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.42

And the Pentagon bio, with yet another gentle dig at the FBI, identifies the documents as Mohamed’s:

In a search of Nosair’s home, the police found U.S. Army training manuals, videotaped talks that Mohamed delivered at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, operational plans for joint coalition exercises conducted in Egypt, and other materials marked Classified or Top Secret. These documents belonged to Mohamed, who often stayed in New Jersey with Nosair. The documents did not surface during Nosair’s 1991 trial for the Kahane murder. It is not known if the FBI investigated Mohamed in connection with these documents.

Yet only hours after the 1990 killing, Joseph Borelli, the chief of NYPD detectives, pronounced Nosair a “lone deranged gunman.”43 A more extended account of his remarks in the New York Times actually alluded to Mohamed, though not by name, and minimized the significance of the links to terrorism in a detailed account of the Nosair home cache:

The files contained articles about firearms and explosives apparently culled from magazines, like Soldier of Fortune, appealing to would-be mercenaries. But the police said the handwritten papers, translated by an Arabic-speaking officer, appeared to be minor correspondence and did not mention terrorism or outline any plan to kill the militant Jewish leader who had called for the removal of all Arabs from Israel.

“There was nothing [at Nosair’s house] that would stir your imagination,” Chief Borelli said…. A joint anti-terrorist task force of New York City police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been set up to look into any possible international links to the slaying, the official said, but so far has not turned up anything.

“Nothing has transpired that changes our opinion that he acted alone,” Chief Borrelli [sic] told a news conference yesterday afternoon.44

Later an FBI spokesman said the FBI also believed “that Mr. Nosair had acted alone in shooting Rabbi Kahane.” “The bottom line is that we can’t connect anyone else to the Kahane shooting,” an FBI agent said.45

Blaming the New York County District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, the FBI later claimed that the evidence retrieved from Nosair’s home was not processed for two or three years.46 But Robert Friedman suggests that the FBI were not just lying to the public, but also to Morgenthau (who had just helped expose and bring down the CIA-favored Muslim bank BCCI).

According to other sources familiar with the case, the FBI told District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau that Nosair was a lone gunman, not part of a broader conspiracy; the prosecution took this position at trial and lost, only convicting Nosair of gun charges. Morgenthau speculated the CIA may have encouraged the FBI not to pursue any other leads, these sources say. ‘The FBI lied to me,’ Morgenthau has told colleagues. ‘They’re supposed to untangle terrorist connections, but they can’t be trusted to do the job.’47

Using evidence from the Nosair trial transcript, Peter Lance confirms the tension between Morgenthau’s office, which wanted to pursue Nosair’s international terrorist connections, and the FBI, which insisted on trying Nosair alone.48

The FBI’s Protection of Ali Mohamed in the 1993 WTC Bombing

In thus limiting the case, the police and the FBI were in effect protecting, not just Ali Mohamed, but also Nosair’s two Arab coconspirators, Mahmoud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh, in the murder of a U.S. citizen. The two were thus left free to kill again on February 26, 1993, one month after the FBI secured Mohamed’s release in Vancouver. Both Abouhalima and Salameh were ultimately convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, along with another Mohamed trainee, Nidal Ayyad.

To quote the Pentagon bio yet again,

In February 1993, the terrorist cell that Mohamed had trained exploded a truck bomb under the World Trade Center that killed six and injured about 1,000 persons. The perpetrators of this bombing included people Mohamed had trained, and Mohamed had been in close contact with the cell during the period leading up to the bombing [i.e. including January 1993, the month of Mohamed’s detention and release in Vancouver]. Mohamed’s name appeared on a list of 118 potential un-indicted co-conspirators that was prepared by federal prosecutors.

Ali Mohamed was again listed as one of 172 unindicted co-conspirators in the follow-up “Landmarks” case, which convicted Sheikh Rahman and others of plotting to blow up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge.49 The two cases were closely related, as much of the evidence for the Landmarks case came from an informant, Emad Salem, whom the FBI had first planted among the WTC plotters. But the prosecutors’ awareness of Ali Mohamed’s involvement must be contrasted with the apparent intelligence failure at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center: according to Steve Coll, the CTC “immediately established a seven-day, twenty-four hour task force to collect intelligence about the World Trade Center bombing…but nothing of substance came in.”50

In the WTC bombing case, the FBI moved swiftly to bring the Al-Kifah plotters to trial one month later, in March. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a DIA officer, later said that

we [i.e. DIA] were surprised how quickly they’d [i.e. FBI] made the arrests after the first World Trade Center bombing. Only later did we find out that the FBI had been watching some of these people for months prior to both incidents [i.e. both the 1993 WTC bombing and 9/11].51

Shaffer’s claim that the FBI had been watching some of the plotters is abundantly corroborated, e.g. by Steve Coll in Ghost Wars.52

The U.S., Egyptian, and Saudi Backing for the Makhtab Network

What was being protected here by the FBI? One obvious answer is an extension of Lance’s explanation for Zent’s behavior: that Mohamed had already been a domestic FBI informant since 1992. However I entirely agree with New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who suspected that a much larger asset was being protected, the Saudi-sponsored network which we now know was the Makhtab-i-Khidimat, by this time already evolving into al-Qaeda.

On the day the FBI arrested four Arabs for the World Trade Centre bombing, saying it had all of the suspects, Morgenthau’s ears pricked up. He didn’t believe the four were ‘self-starters,’ and speculated that there was probably a larger network as well as a foreign sponsor. He also had a hunch that the suspects would lead back to Sheikh Abdel Rahman. But he worried [correctly] that the dots might not be connected because the U.S. government was protecting the sheikh for his help in Afghanistan.53

This “larger network” of the Makhtab, although created in 1984, consolidated an assistance program that had been launched by the U.S. Government much earlier in Egypt by Zbigniew Brzezinski. At almost the beginning of the Afghan war itself, Brzezinski arranged for a program to train members of the anti-Communist Muslim Brotherhood, a group which the CIA, and the British MI-6, had supported in various ways since the 1950s.54

In January 1980, Brzezinski visited Egypt to mobilize support for the jihad. Within weeks of his visit, Sadat authorized Egypt’s full participation, giving permission for the U.S. Air Force to use Egypt as a base…and recruiting, training, and arming Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood activists for battle…. Not only were they packaged and shipped to Afghanistan, but [by the end of 1980] they received expert training from U.S. Special Forces.55

U.S. military trainers had in fact already been in Egypt since at least 1978 (the year of the Israel-Egypt Camp David peace accords), training Sadat’s elite praetorian guard, of which Mohamed Ali was at the time a member. At first the training was handled by a “private” firm, J.J. Cappucci and Associates, owned by former CIA officers Ed Wilson and Theodore Shackley. But after Brzezinski’s visit in 1980, the contract was taken over by the CIA.56

In 1981 Ali Mohamed was selected out of the U.S.-trained praetorian guard for four months of Special Forces training at Fort Bragg: “Working alongside Green Berets, he learned unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency operations, and how to command elite soldiers on difficult missions.”57 Mohamed was in Fort Bragg as part of the Pentagon’s Professional Military Education (PME) program for future leaders; he was being trained to transmit to Egypt the kind of Afghanistan-related skills that he later provided to Al-Kifah on Long Island in 1989.58

Mohamed was thus in America when some of his fellow guard members, responding to a fatwa or religious order from Muslim Brotherhood member Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, assassinated Sadat in October 1981. The assassination only accelerated the export out of Egypt to Afghanistan of Muslim Brotherhood members accused of the murder. These included two of Mohamed’s eventual close associates, Sheikh Abdel Rahman and Rahman’s then friend Ayman al-Zawahiri, to whom Mohamed swore a bayat or oath of allegiance in 1984, after his return to Egypt.59

The Al-Kifah Target in 1993: Not Afghanistan but Bosnia

Morgenthau’s suspicions about Afghanistan in 1993 were very pertinent, but also somewhat anachronistic; by 1993, under its new director James Woolsey, both the CIA and al-Kifah had lost interest in Afghanistan. The new interim president of Afghanistan, Mojaddedi, under pressure from Washington, announced that the Arab Afghans should leave. Pakistan followed suit, closed the offices of all mujahedin in its country, and ordered the deportation of all Arab Afghans.60

But the Al-Kifah support network had new targets in mind elsewhere.

After 1991 the Brooklyn center was focused chiefly on training people for jihad in Bosnia, and at least two sources allege that Ali Mohamed himself visited Bosnia in 1992 (when he also returned to Afghanistan).61

Al-Kifah’s English-language newsletter Al-Hussam (The Sword) also began publishing regular updates on jihad action in Bosnia….Under the control of the minions of Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman, the newsletter aggressively incited sympathetic Muslims to join the jihad in Bosnia and Afghanistan themselves….The Al-Kifah Bosnian branch office in Zagreb, Croatia, housed in a modern, two-story building, was evidently in close communication with the organizational headquarters in New York. The deputy director of the Zagreb office, Hassan Hakim, admitted to receiving all orders and funding directly from the main United States office of Al-Kifah on Atlantic Avenue controlled by Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman.62

One of Ali Mohamed’s trainees at al-Kifah, Rodney Hampton-El, assisted in this support program, recruiting warriors from U.S. Army bases like Fort Belvoir, and also training them to be fighters in New Jersey.63 In 1995 Hampton-El was tried and convicted for his role (along with al-Kifah leader Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman) in the plot to blow up New York landmarks. At the trial Hampton-El testified how he was personally given thousands of dollars for this project by Saudi Prince Faisal in the Washington Saudi Embassy.64 (In addition, “Saudi intelligence has contributed to Sheikh Rahman’s legal-defence fund, according to Mohammed al-Khilewi, the former first secretary to the Saudi mission at the U.N.”)65

Later in this essay we shall have much more to say about Saudi support for this terrorist network, and in particular about the Saudi embassy in Washington.

Al-Kifah, Al-Qaeda, Tajikistan, and Drugs

Meanwhile the ISI had not lost interest in bin Laden’s Arabs, but began to recruit them with bin Laden’s support for battle in new areas, notably Central Asia and Kashmir.66 Bin Laden in the same period began to dispatch his jihadis into areas of the former Soviet Union, notably to the infant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Tajikistan.

The outbreak of Islamist violence in Tajikistan…moved bin Laden to send a limited number of Al-Qaeda cadre to support Tajik Islamist forces, among them his close associate Wali Khan Amin Shah [an Uzbek later working in the Philippines with Ramzi Yousuf and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and the soon-to-be-famous mujahid, Ibn Khattab. In addition, bin Laden, even after his 1991 move to Sudan, continued to run training camps in Afghanistan, where he welcomed the chance to train Tajiks, Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Chechens.67

In an al-Qaeda document captured in Iraq, bin Laden wrote

with the grace of Allah, we were successful in cooperating with our brothers in Tajikistan in various fields including training. We were able train a good number of them, arm them and deliver them to Tajikistan. Moreover, Allah facilitated to us delivering weapons and ammunition to them; we pray that Allah grants us all victory68

Many other accounts report that the delivery of arms and ammunition was facilitated by the involvement of the IMU and bin Laden in the massive flow of heroin from Afghanistan into the former Soviet Union. According to Ahmed Rashid,

Much of the I.M.U.’s financing came from the lucrative opium trade through Afghanistan. Ralf Mutschke, the assistant director of Interpol’s Criminal Intelligence Directorate, estimated that sixty per cent of Afghan opium exports were moving through Central Asia and that the “I.M.U. may be responsible for seventy per cent of the total amount of heroin and opium transiting through the area.”69

Among the experts confirming the IMU-al-Qaeda-drug connection is Gretchen Peters,

The opium trade… supported the global ambitions of Osama bin Laden…. There was … evidence that bin Laden served as middleman between the Taliban and Arab drug smugglers…. With Mullah Omar’s approval, bin Laden hijacked the state-run Ariana Airlines, turning it into a narco-terror charter service… according to former U.S. and Afghan officials…. One U.S. intelligence report seen by the author described a smuggling route snaking up through Afghanistan’s northwest provinces in Baghdis, Faryab, and Jowzan into Turkmenistan. It was being used as of mid-2004 by “extremists associated with the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al-Qaeda,” the report said. Traffickers would move “both heroin and terrorists” along the route and “then onwards into other countries in Central Asia,” the CIA document said.70

It has been widely reported that in the early 1990s, as US financial support dwindled and bin Laden’s finances were being rapidly exhausted in Sudan, his new involvement with the IMU and later the Taliban involved al-Qaeda also in the growing Afghan heroin traffic. Peters saw a CIA document confirming this.71 Yet the 9/11 Report, in contorted language, denied this, as did a Staff Report:

No persuasive evidence exists that al Qaeda relied on the drug trade as an important source of revenue, had any substantial involvement with conflict diamonds, or was financially sponsored by any foreign government.72

This surprising claim was at odds with the views of many U.S. intelligence operatives. It also contradicted the official position of the British government, which told its Parliament in 2001,

Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida have been based in Afghanistan since 1996, but have a network of operations throughout the world. The network includes training camps, warehouses, communication facilities and commercial operations able to raise significant sums of money to support its activity. That activity includes substantial exploitation of the illegal drugs trade from Afghanistan.73

Meanwhile there were allegations that the Brooklyn Al-Kifah Center, as well as bin Laden, was involved in drug trafficking. Back in 1993, the New York Times reported that, according to investigators, “Some of the 11 men charged in the [Day of Terror] plot to bomb New York City targets are also suspected of trafficking in drugs.”74 Mujahid Abdulqaadir Menepta, a Muslim suspect in both the 9/11 case and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was linked by telephone numbers on his cell phones to ongoing criminal investigations, involving “organized crime, drugs, and money laundering.”75 And Raed Hijazi, an al-Qaeda terrorist arrested in Jordan in 1999, had previously become an FBI informant in order to avoid drug charges.76

Why were these allegations of Al-Kifah drug involvement never pursued? We must consider the possibility that once again (as I have demonstrated elsewhere) the CIA provided protection for a traffic that supported the activities of its assets abroad.77

Was the U.S. Protection of the Al-Kifah Center Intended to Help Export and Finance Jihadis?

There is also no treatment in the 9/11 Report, and almost none elsewhere, of the allegations from Steven Emerson that by 1987, the Al-Kifah Center Al-Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn “had become a center for counterfeiting tens of thousands of dollars.”78 Similarly there has been no government follow-up of the allegation by Yossef Bodansky, citing FBI informant Emad Salem, that one of the Al-Kifah cell leaders (Siddiq Ibrahim Siddig Ali)

had offered to sell a million dollars [of counterfeit currency] for $150,000, well below market value. … Quantities of counterfeit $100 bills were later found at the apartment of Sheikh Umar Abdel-Rahman.79

J.M. Berger goes further, reporting from court testimony: “In order to support Al Kifah’s operations,” Mustafa Shalabi, the head of the Al-Kifah Center until his murder in 1991, “employed a number of for-profit criminal enterprises, including gunrunning, arson for hire, and a counterfeiting ring set up in the basement of the jihad office.”80 Yet the 9/11 Report is silent about these serious charges, which U.S. prosecutors at the time did not pursue.

Why this official reticence? The answer may lie in the fact that by 1996 bin Laden was “supporting Islamists in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kashmir, Tajikistan, and Chechnya.”81 And in step with bin Laden, the al-Kifah Center was also supporting jihad after 1992 “in Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Philippines, Egypt, Algeria, Kashmir, Palestine, and elsewhere.”82

But bin Laden and al-Kifah were not acting on their own, they were supporting projects, especially in Tajikistan (1993-95) and then Chechnya (after 1995), where their principal ally, Ibn al-Khattab (Thamir Saleh Abdullah Al-Suwailem) also enjoyed high-level support in Saudi Arabia.83

Khattab enjoyed a certain amount of logistical and financial support from Saudi Arabia. Saudi sheikhs declared the Chechen resistance a legitimate jihad, and private Saudi donors sent money to Khattab and his Chechen colleagues. As late as 1996, mujahidin wounded in Chechnya were sent to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, a practice paid for by charities and tolerated by the state.84

Ali Soufan adds that America also supported this jihad: by 1996, “the United States had been on the side of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.”85

By protecting the al-Kifah Center and its associates (including Mohamed) and not prosecuting them for their crimes (including murder), the U.S. Government was in effect imitating Saudi Arabia and Egypt, by keeping open a channel to export those in America who wished to wage jihad — thereby ensuring they would wage jihad in other countries, not here. (After the arrest of Sheikh Rahman in 1993 al-Kifah closed itself down. But we shall see that an allied institution, Sphinx Trading, continued after 9/11 to be protected, even after the FBI knew it had helped one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers.)86

Was all this protection intended to keep just such a channel open? It was certainly an intentional result of the protection and support for the Makhtab al-Khidimat in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Support for the Makhtab, and Later for Al-Qaeda

The Saudis, like the Egyptians, had domestic reasons for wishing to export as many Muslim Brotherhood members to possible death in Afghanistan, Bosnia, or anywhere else. Until 1979 Saudi Arabia had provided a home to Brotherhood members fleeing persecution in countries like Syria and Egypt, where some of them had tried to assassinate the Saudis’ political enemy Gamel Abdel Nasser. But in 1979 radical Wahhabis, condemning the ruling Saudi family as corrupt infidels, seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca and defended it for weeks.87 Profoundly shaken, the Saudi family used its foundations, like the World Muslim League (WML), to subsidize the emigration of political Islamists, above all to the new jihad in Afghanistan, which opened one month later against the Soviet Union.88

In Afghanistan both Rahman and al-Zawahiri worked with the Makhtab al Khidamat that had been created in 1984 by two other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Abdullah Azzam and the Saudi Osama bin Laden.89 All that the 9/11 Commission Report has to say about the Makhtab’s financing is that “Bin Laden and his comrades had their own sources of support and training, and they received little or no assistance from the United States.” (p. 56). But the Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid makes clear the support coming from the Saudi royal family, including Prince Turki (the head of Saudi intelligence), and also royal creations like the World Muslim League:

Bin Laden, although not a royal, was close enough to the royals and certainly wealthy enough to lead the Saudi contingent. Bin Laden, Prince Turki and General [Hameed] Gul [the head of the Pakistani ISI] were to become firm friends and allies in a common cause. The center for the Arab-Afghans was the offices of the World Muslim League and the Muslim Brotherhood in Peshawar which was run by Abdullah Azam. Saudi funds flowed to Azam and the Makhtab al Khidamat or Services Center which he created in 1984 to service the new recruits and receive donations from Islamic charities. Donations from Saudi Intelligence, the Saudi Red Crescent, the World Muslim League and private donations from Saudi princes and mosques were channeled through the Makhtab. A decade later the Makhtab would emerge at the center of a web of radical organizations that helped carry out the World Trade Center bombing [in 1993] and the bombings of US Embassies in Africa in 1998.90

Former Ambassador Peter Tomsen has described how the evolution of the Makhtab into al-Qaeda was accomplished with support from the offices of royally ordained organizations like the World Muslim League (WML) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY):

Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, headed the Muslim World League office in Peshawar during the mid-1980s. In 1988, he moved to Manila and opened a branch office of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. He made the charity a front for bin Laden’s terrorist operations in the Philippines and Asia. Al-Qaeda operatives, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and his nephew Ramzi Yusuf [master bomb-maker of the 1993 WTC bombing], traveled to Manila in the early 1990s to help Khalifa strengthen al-Qaeda networks in Southeast Asia and plan terrorist attacks in the region.91

There are many other examples of WML and WAMY connections to al-Qaeda. For example Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, a signatory of Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa to kill Jews and Americans, was invited in 1996 to the 34th WML Congress in Mecca and also spoke there to WAMY.92 Yet there are only minimal references to Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the western (as opposed to the Asian) media, and none (according to a Lexis Nexis search in July 2013) linking him to the WML or WAMY.

The FBI’s hands-off attitude towards WAMY in America was in keeping with its protection of Ali Mohamed. According to former federal prosecutor John Loftus and others, there was a block in force in the 1980s against antiterrorism enforcement that might embarrass the Saudis.93 This block explains for example the protection enjoyed by the chair of WAMY in Virginia, Osama bin Laden’s nephew Abdullah bin Laden. The FBI opened an investigation of Abdullah bin Laden in February 1996, calling WAMY “a suspected terrorist organization,” but the investigation was closed down six months later.94

What Saudi Prince Helped a Passportless Osama Leave Saudi Arabia?

None of the official or privileged sources on Ali Mohamed has linked him to Saudi intelligence activities. But there is at least one such link, his trip, as described in the Coleman FBI affidavit, when in 1991 (still a U.S. Army reservist) he “travelled to Afghanistan to escort Usama bin Laden from Afghanistan to the Sudan.”95 The FBI affidavit presents this, without explanation, as an act in furtherance of an al-Qaeda “murder conspiracy.” But Osama’s move to Sudan was synchronized with a simultaneous investment in Sudan by his bin Laden brothers, including an airport construction project that was largely subsidized by the Saudi royal family.96

A great deal of confusion surrounds the circumstances of bin Laden’s displacement in 1991-92, from Saudi Arabia via Pakistan (and perhaps Afghanistan) to the Sudan. But in these conflicted accounts one important fact is not contested: bin Laden’s trip was initially arranged by someone in the royal family.97 Steven Coll in Ghost Wars suggests that royal family arranged this trip amicably, blaming it it on pressure from the U.S:

Peter Tomsen and other emissaries from Washington discussed the rising Islamist threat with [Saudi intelligence chief] Prince Turki in the summer of 1991…. At some of the meetings between Turki and the CIA, Osama bin Laden’s name came up explicitly. The CIA continued to pick up reporting that he was funding radicals such as Hekmatyar in Afghanistan…. “His family has disowned him,” Turki assured the Americans about bin Laden. Every effort had been made to persuade bin Laden to stop protesting against the Saudi royal family. These efforts had failed, Turki conceded, and the kingdom was now prepared to take sterner measures…. Bin Laden learned of this when Saudi police arrived at his cushion-strewn, modestly furnished compound in Jeddah to announce that he would have to leave the kingdom. According to an account later provided to the CIA by a source in Saudi intelligence, the officer assigned to carry out the expulsion assured bin Laden that this was being done for his own good. The officer blamed the Americans. The U.S. government was planning to kill him, he told bin Laden, by this account, so the royal family would get him out of the kingdom for his own protection. The escort put bin Laden on a plane out of Saudi Arabia.98

Coll’s magisterial but privileged book appeared in February 2004. Six months later the 9/11 Commission Report published a quite different account, implying that by 1991 the Saudi government was estranged from bin Laden:

The Saudi government… undertook to silence Bin Laden by, among other things, taking away his passport. With help from a dissident member of the royal family, he managed to get out of the country under the pretext of attending an Islamic gathering in Pakistan in April 1991.99

Lawrence Wright claims, persuasively, that the prince returning Osama’s passport was no “dissident,” but Interior Minister Prince Naif, after bin Laden persuaded him he was needed in Peshawar “in order to help mediate the civil war among the mujahideen.”100 Prince Naif, the most anti-American of the senior Saudi royals, gave back bin Laden’s passport on one condition, that he “sign a pledge that he would not interfere with the politics of South Arabia or any Arab country.”101

The “Islamic gathering” is almost certainly a reference to the on-going negotiations in Peshawar which eventually produced the Saudi-backed Peshawar Accord (finalized in April 1992) to end the Afghan Civil War. By several well-informed accounts, Bin Laden did play an important part in these negotiations, in furtherance (I would argue) of Prince Turki’s own policies. Like Sheikh Rahman before him in 1990, bin Laden tried, vainly, to negotiate a truce between the warring mujahideen leaders, Massoud and Hekmatyar. In these negotiations (according to Peter Tomsen, who was there), Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda were all united in seeking the same objective: a united Sunni army (in opposition to American appeals for Shia representation) that could retake Kabul by force.102

Thus I believe it is quite clear that bin Laden, in his mediation attempts to bring Hekmatyar into the Peshawar consensus, was acting in line with official Saudi and Pakistani interests. Others disagree. Without documentation, the author of the Frontline biography of bin Laden asserts,

Contrary to what is always reiterated bin Laden has never had official relations with the Saudi regime or the royal family. All his contacts would happen through his brothers.103 …. Specifically he had no relation with Turki al-Faisal head of Saudi intelligence. He used to be very suspicious of his role in Afghanistan and once had open confrontation with him in 1991 and accused him of being the reason of the fight between Afghan factions.104

Michael Scheuer, once head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, endorsed this claim, and reinforced it with the testimony of Sa’ad al-Faqih (a critic of the Saudi royal family who has been accused by the U.S. Treasury of being affiliated with al-Qaeda) that, “after the Soviets withdrew ‘Saudi intelligence [officers] were actually increasing the gap between Afghani factions to keep them fighting.’”105

But this claim if true must have been after Kabul fell to the jihadis in 1992, when Massoud, backed by the favored Saudi client Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, began to fight Hekmatyar, the favored client of Pakistan’s ISI. Before this time the U.S. State Department’s Afghan policy was to promote a broad-based opposition to the rump Communist government in Kabul, while “side-lining the extremists,” including both Hekmatyar and Sayyaf.106

Pakistan’s ISI in the same period clearly wanted a strong rebel alliance united behind Hekmatyar, and both the CIA and the Saudis continued to support them. As Barnett Rubin reports, “During this period, political ‘unity’ of some sort among the mujahidin groups was a major goal of U.S.-Pakistani-Saudi policy.”107And in 1990-91, as Washington cut its allocation for the CIA’s covert Afghan program by 60 percent, Prince Turki more than made up for the shortfall by increased contributions from Saudi Arabia.108

I conclude that bin Laden’s mediation efforts in Peshawar in 1991 were in accordance with Prince Turki’s preferences, just as was Ali Mohamed’s effort, in organizing bin Laden’s subsequent move from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Sudan. As Steve Coll reports, the break between bin Laden and the Saudi royal family did not become serious until at least 1993, after the involvement of bin Laden’s ally Sheikh Rahman in the first WTC bombing.109

The State Department-CIA Split Over Afghanistan — and Oil

In 1991 the Soviet troops had been out of Kabul for two years; and, as former US Ambassador Tomsen has reported, the CIA’s objective of a Pakistan-backed military overthrow in Kabul was at odds with the official U.S. policy of support for “a political settlement restoring Afghanistan’s independence.”110 Ambassador Tomsen himself told the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad (“Bill”) that, by endorsing Pakistan’s military attack on Kabul,

he was violating fundamental U.S. policy precepts agreed to in Washington by his own agency. American policy was to cut Hekmatyar off, not build him up. Bill looked at me impassively as I spoke. I assumed his superiors in Langley had approved the offensive. The U.S. government was conducting two diametrically opposed Afghan policies.111

Steve Coll agrees that “By early 1991, the Afghan policies pursued by the State Department and the CIA were in open competition with each other…. The CIA…continued to collaborate with Pakistani military intelligence on a separate military track that mainly promoted Hekmatyar and other Islamist commanders.”112

This conflict between the State Department and CIA was far from unprecedented. In particular it recalled the CIA-State conflict in Laos in 1959-60, which led to a tragic war in Laos, and eventually Vietnam.113 Just as oil companies had a stake in the Indochina conflict, so too in 1990-92 the CIA was thinking not just of Afghanistan but of the oil resources of Central Asia, where some of the al-Kifah-trained “Arab Afghans” were about to focus their attention.

The State Department in Afghanistan represented the will of the National Security Council and the public state. The CIA, on the other hand, was not “rogue” (as has sometimes been suggested), it was pursuing the goals of oil companies and their financial backers – or what I have called the deep state — in preparing for a launch into the former Soviet republics of central Asia.

Covert Operations and Oil in Central Asia

In 1991 the leaders of Central Asia “began to hold talks with Western oil companies, on the back of ongoing negotiations between Kazakhstan and the US company Chevron.”114 The first Bush Administration actively supported the plans of U.S. oil companies to contract for exploiting the resources of the Caspian region, and also for building a pipeline not controlled by Moscow that could bring the oil and gas production out to the west.

In the same year 1991, Richard Secord, Heinie Aderholt, and Ed Dearborn, three veterans of U.S. operations in Laos, and later of Oliver North’s operations with the Contras, turned up in Baku under the cover of an oil company, MEGA Oil.115 This was at a time when the first Bush administration had expressed its support for an oil pipeline stretching from Azerbaijan across the Caucasus to Turkey.116 MEGA never did find oil; but it did contribute materially to the removal of Azerbaijan from the sphere of post-Soviet Russian influence, and hence to the ultimate construction of the Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan in Turkey.

As MEGA operatives in Azerbaijan, Secord, Aderholt, Dearborn, and their men engaged in military training, passed “brown bags filled with cash” to members of the government, and above all set up an airline on the model of Air America which soon was picking up hundreds of mujahedin mercenaries in Afghanistan.117 (Secord and Aderholt claim to have left Azerbaijan before the mujahedin arrived.)

Meanwhile, Hekmatyar, who at the time was still allied with bin Laden, was “observed recruiting Afghan mercenaries [i.e. Arab Afghans] to fight in Azerbaijan against Armenia and its Russian allies.”118 Hekmatyar was a notorious drug trafficker; and, at this time, heroin flooded from Afghanistan through Baku into Chechnya, Russia, and even North America.119

 

Bin Laden, Ali Mohamed, and the Saudi Royal Family

By attempting to negotiate Hekmatyar’s reconciliation with the other Peshawar commanders, bin Laden in 1991 was clearly an important part of the CIA’s effort to establish a pro-Pakistan regime in Kabul. So, a year earlier, had been the blind Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman:

In 1990, after the assassination of Abdullah Azzam, Abd al-Rahman was invited to Peshawar, where his host was Khalid al-Islambouli, brother of one of the assassins of Sadat…. On this trip, reportedly paid for by the CIA, Abd al-Rahman preached to the Afghans about the necessity of unity to overthrow the Kabul regime. 120

This presumably was shortly before Sheikh Abdul Rahman, even though he was on a State Department terrorist watch list after being imprisoned for the murder of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, was issued a multiple-entry U.S. visa in 1990 “by a CIA officer working undercover in the consular section of the American embassy in Sudan.”121 This was the same CIA-sponsored program that six years earlier had admitted Ali Mohamed, “a visa-waiver program that was … designed to shield valuable assets or those who have performed valuable services for the country.”122

And Ali Mohamed himself was, according to the New York Times, part of the CIA’s plan for a military solution: “In the fall of 1992, Mr. Mohamed returned to fight in Afghanistan, training rebel commanders in military tactics, United States officials said.”123 Before this, Mohamed had been charged with the major task of moving bin Laden, his four wives, and his seventeen children from Afghanistan to Sudan. The task was a major one, for Osama moved with his assistants, “a stable of Arabian horses, and bulldozers.”124

Meanwhile Saudi royal support for this web of radical organizations, in which Ali Mohamed was a central organizer and trainer, continued after the WTC bombing of 1993. The Turki-bin Laden connection, which was cemented by Turki’s chief of staff and bin Laden’s teacher Ahmed Badeeb, may have been renewed as late as 1998:

In sworn statements after 9/11, former Taliban intelligence chief Mohammed Khaksar said that in 1998 the prince sealed a deal under which bin Laden undertook not to attack Saudi targets. In return, Saudi Arabia would provide funds and material assistance to the Taliban…. Saudi businesses, meanwhile, would ensure that money also flowed directly to bin Laden. Turki would deny after 9/11 that any such deal was done with bin Laden. One account has it, however, that he himself met with bin Laden – his old protégé from the days of the anti-Soviet jihad – during the exchanges that led to the deal.125

Royal Saudi Financing for Bin Laden, Including His Move to the Sudan 

Summers also transmits insider reports

that at least two Saudi princes had been paying, on behalf of the kingdom, what amounted to protection money since 1995. The former official added, “The deal was, they would turn a blind eye to what he was doing elsewhere. ‘You don’t conduct operations here, and we won’t disrupt them elsewhere.’ ”

American and British official sources, speaking later with Simon Henderson, Baker Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, named the two princes in question. They were, Henderson told the authors, Prince Naif, the interior minister, and Prince Sultan. The money involved in the alleged payments, according to Henderson’s sources, had amounted to “hundreds of millions of dollars.” It had been “Saudi official money—not their own.”126

Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz

It would appear moreover that Saudi royal money may have helped pay for Bin Laden’s move to the Sudan in 1991-92: the move organized by Ali Mohamed, possibly in collaboration with bin Laden’s family. There is hotly contested evidence that Osama participated with his brothers in the construction of the Port Sudan airport, a project underwritten with funds from the Saudi royal family.127 According to Lawrence Wright, “the Saudi Binladin Group got the contract to build an airport in Port Sudan, which brought Osama frequently into the country to oversee the construction. He finally moved to Khartoum in 1992….”128

Not contested, but largely overlooked, is the evidence of how bin Laden financed his move, through investing $50 million in the Sudanese al-Shamal Islamic bank – a bank that also had support from both the bin Laden family and the Saudi royal family. As the Chicago Tribune reported in November 2001,

Al Shamal Islamic Bank

According to a 1996 State Department report on bin Laden’s finances, bin Laden co-founded the Al Shamal bank with a group of wealthy Sudanese and capitalized it with $50 million of his inherited fortune…..129

According to public records, among the investors in the Al Shamal Islamic Bank is a Geneva-based financial services conglomerate headed by Prince Mohamed al-Faisal al-Saud, [brother of Prince Turki], son of the late King [Faisal al-] Saud and a cousin [i.e. nephew] of the current Saudi monarch, King Fahd.

The Al Shamal bank, which opened for business in 1990, admits that Osama bin Laden held three accounts there between 1992 and 1997, when he used Sudan as his base of operations before fleeing to Afghanistan. But the bank insists in a written statement that bin Laden “was never a founder or a shareholder of Al Shamal Islamic Bank.”

Told of the bank’s statement, the State Department official replied that “we stand by” the assertion that bin Laden put $50 million into the bank.

The Al Shamal bank does acknowledge that among its five “main founders” and principal shareholders is another Khartoum bank, the Faisal Islamic Bank of Sudan.130 According to public records, 19 percent of the Faisal Islamic Bank is owned by the Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust, headed by Saudi Prince [Mohammed al-Faisal] al-Saud.

(The Dar Al-Mal Al-Islami or DMI Trust, “based in the Bahamas and with its operations center in Geneva,” was one of a spate of banks, mostly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, that were set up with western guidance and assistance – in DMI’s case the assistance came from Price Waterhouse and eventually Harvard University.131 DMI was one of the two main banks which, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, had been funding the Makhtab and also the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), of which more below.)132

The $3.5 billion DMI Trust, whose slogan is “Allah is the purveyor of success,” was founded 20 years ago to foster the spread of Islamic banking across the Muslim world. Its 12-member board of directors includes Haydar Mohamed Binladen, according to a DMI spokesman, a half-brother of Osama bin Laden…..

Though small, the Al Shamal Islamic Bank enabled bin Laden to move money quickly from one country to another through its correspondent relationships with some of the world’s major banks, several of which have been suspended since Sept. 11.

The Al Shamal bank was identified as one of bin Laden’s principal financial entities during the trial earlier this year of four Al Qaeda operatives convicted in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.133

One might have expected this early and revealing insight into bin Laden’s finances to have been developed in the spate of privileged bin Laden and al-Qaeda books that appeared in the years after 2001. In fact I have located only one brief inconsequential reference, in Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens: “Osama had reorganized his personal banking at the Al-Shamal Bank in Khartoum, but his accounts gradually dried up.”134

There is of course no mention of the al-Shamal Bank in the 9/11 Commission Report.

U.S. and Saudi Protection for Osama bin Laden’s Brother-in-Law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa

It seems clear that the 1980s official USG block against antiterrorism actions that might embarrass the Saudis was still in force in America in 1995. We see this in the extraordinary federal protection extended to Mohamed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s best friend and brother-in-law.

On December 16, 1994, the San Francisco FBI arrested Khalifa in Morgan Hills (not far from Ali Mohamed’s home). Khalifa’s business card had been discovered in a search one year earlier of Sheikh Rahman’s residence, after which he had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Landmarks case. Soon afterwards, a State Department cable described him as

a known financier of terrorist operations and an officer of an Islamic NGO in the Philippines that is a known Hamas front. He is under indictment in Jordan in connection with a series of cinema bombings earlier this year.135

Khalifa, in other words, was like Ali Mohamed involved in terrorist operations on an international level. He was an important source of information and talked freely to the FBI agents who arrested him. In his possession they found “documents that connected Islamic terrorist manuals to the International Islamic Relief Organization, the group that he had headed in the Philippines.”136 And in his notebook they found evidence linking him directly to Ramzi Yousef, who at the time was the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing.

But as Peter Lance narrates, “The Feds never got a chance to question him.” Instead, in January 1995, a decision was made by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and supported by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to whisk Khalifa from the United States to Jordan for trial, where he was soon “acquitted of terrorism charges and allowed to move to Saudi Arabia.”137 There “Saudi officials greeted him at the airport.”138

“I remember people at CIA who were ripshit at the time” over the decision, says Jacob L. Boesen, an Energy Department analyst then working at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. “Not even speaking in retrospect, but contemporaneous with what the intelligence community knew about bin Laden, Khalifa’s deportation was unreal.”139

Even more unreal was the decision of a court in a civil case to return to Khalifa before his deportation the contents of his luggage, including his notebook and other computer files.140

I believe that Peter Lance, after all his meticulous scholarship, failed to identify who was really being protected by this evasive measure. He writes that Khalifa, from 1983 to 1991, “had been trusted by al Qaeda with running the Philippines branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), one of their key NGOs.”141

But the IIRO was in the hands of a far greater power than al-Qaeda, which in any case did not exist in 1983. It was a charitable organization that had been authorized in 1979 by Saudi royal decree, as an affiliate of another key institution of the royal family, the Muslim World League (MWL).142 According to former CIA officer Robert Baer, the IIRO has been run “with an iron hand” by Prince Salman ibn Abdul-Aziz al Saud (the brother of Saudi King Abdullah), who “personally approved all important appointments and spending.”143

International Islamic Relief Organization

The creation date of 1979 reflects the important shift in that year of the Saudi royal family’s attitude towards the political Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan (of which Mohammed Jamal Khalifa was a senior member). As already noted, 1979 was the year radical Wahhabis, seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca. In response, the Saudi family foundations like the IIRO began to subsidize the emigration of the Muslim Brotherhood.144

Thus Khalifa’s status in the IIRO was not anomalous. Besides the bombings in Jordan, the IIRO has also been linked to support of terrorists in the Philippines,145 India,146 Indonesia,147 Canada,148 Albania, Chechnya, Kenya,149 and other countries, notably Bosnia.150 In particular Khalifa personally has been accused of financing the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (which in 1993 had kidnapped an American Bible translator).151 Yet “The U.S. government has not designated Khalifa as a financial supporter of terrorism.”152

U.S. and Royal Protection for Al-Qaeda Plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

The Saudi royal protection for Jamal Khalifa was more than matched by the Qatari royal protection of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Yousuf’s uncle and co-conspirator in the Philippines. The 9/11 Commission, who judged KSM to be “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” made a muted acknowledgment of this Qatari protection of him:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — Yousef’s uncle, then located in Qatar — was a fellow plotter of Yousef’s in the Manila air plot and had also wired him some money prior to the Trade Center bombing. The U.S. Attorney obtained an indictment against KSM in January 1996, but an official in the government of Qatar probably warned him about it. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed evaded capture (and stayed at large to play a central part in the 9/11 attacks).153

From other sources, notably Robert Baer who was then a CIA officer in Qatar, we learn that the “official” was Sheikh Abdallah bin Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatari minister of the Interior and the brother of then Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalid al-Thani.154 According to ABC News,

Mohammed is believed to have fled Qatar with a passport provided by that country’s government. He is also believed to have been given a home in Qatar as well as a job at the Department of Public Water Works. Officials also said bin Laden himself visited Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani in Qatar between the years of 1996 and 2000.155

The 9/11 Commission Report itself, in a footnote, notes that

Although KSM claims that Sheikh Abdallah was not a member, financier, or supporter of al Qaeda, he admits that Abdallah under- wrote a 1995 trip KSM took to join the Bosnia jihad.156

This admission is hard to reconcile with the Commission’s official finding that

It does not appear that any government other than the Taliban financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11, although some governments may have contained al Qaeda sympathizers who turned a blind eye to al Qaeda’s fund-raising activities.157

In 2013 the Syrian nightmare finally made US media admit, in the words of The Atlantic, that Qatar is “a global financial backer of the Brotherhood.”158 This admission considerably complicates the earlier establishment stereotype of political Islamists like KSM as “non-state actors.”159

In Triple Cross, Peter Lance, who does not mention KSM’s escape from Qatar, focuses instead on the way that, later in the same year, U.S. federal prosecutors kept his name out of the trial of Ramzi Yousuf in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mike Garcia and Dietrich Snell presented a riveting, evidence case… and characterized the material retrieved from Ramzi’s Toshiba laptop as ‘the most devastating evidence of all.”…. While Yousuf’s Toshiba laptop… contained the full details of the plot later executed on 9/11, not a word of that scenario was mentioned during trial. …. Most surprising, during the entire summer-long trial, the name of the fourth Bojinka conspirator, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed…was mentioned by name only once, in reference to a letter found in [Yousuf’s apartment].160

Lance repeatedly suggests that U.S. prosecutors in New York, and particularly Dietrich Snell, were responsible for minimizing the role of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and other shortcomings, because they were seeking “to hide the full truth behind the Justice Department’s failures.”161 But the matter of KSM’s escape in 1996, like the release of Jamal Khalifa, was sensitive at a much higher level than that of prosecutors. It was a matter that reached back into the black hole that is represented by the ultimate United States dependency on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and OPEC, for the defense of the petrodollar.

In other words, the suppression of KSM’s name was not surprising at all. On the contrary, it was totally consistent with one of the most sensitive and controversial features of the 9/11 story: the much-discussed fact that before CIA two counterterrorist officers protected two of the alleged future hijackers from detection and surveillance by the FBI.

Federal Protection for Alleged 9/11 Hijackers

Morgenthau’s hypothesis that the CIA was protecting Saudi criminal assets received further corroboration in the wake of 9/11. There is now evidence, much of it systematically suppressed by the 9/11 Commission, that before 9/11 CIA officers Richard Blee and Tom Wilshire inside the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, along with FBI agents such as Dina Corsi, were protecting from investigation and arrest two of the eventual alleged hijackers on 9/11, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — much as the FBI had protected Ali Mohamed from arrest in 1993.

There are also indications that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, like Hampton-El before them, may have been receiving funds indirectly from the Saudi Embassy in Washington:

“[B]etween 1998 and 2002, up to US$73,000 in cashier cheques was funneled by [Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar’s wife Haifa – who once described the elder Bushes as like “my mother and father” – to two Californian families known to have bankrolled al-Midhar and al-Hazmi. … Princess Haifa sent regular monthly payments of between $2,000 and $3,500 to Majeda Dweikat, wife of Osama Basnan, believed by various investigators to be a spy for the Saudi government. Many of the cheques were signed over to Manal Bajadr, wife of Omar al-Bayoumi, himself suspected of covertly working for the kingdom. The Basnans, the al-Bayoumis and the two 9/11 hijackers once shared the same apartment block in San Diego. It was al-Bayoumi who greeted the killers when they first arrived in America, and provided them, among other assistance, with an apartment and social security cards. He even helped the men enroll at flight schools in Florida.”162

The Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 (pp. 173-77), though very heavily redacted at this point, supplies corroborating information, including a report that Basnan had once hosted a party for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman. In other words, the Congressional investigation found indications that those supporting the Islamist conspirators of 1993, were in 2001 supporting those eventually accused of 9/11.

The 9/11 Commission Report, overruling FBI reports, simply denied that Saudi embassy money had supported the two hijackers.163 It recognized that there had been an intelligence failure with respect to the al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, but treated it as an accident that might not have occurred “if more resources had been applied.”164 This explanation, however, has since been rejected by 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean. Asked if the failure to deal appropriately with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi could have been a simple mistake, Kean replied:

Oh, it wasn’t careless oversight. It was purposeful. No question about that .… The conclusion that we came to was that in the DNA of these organizations was secrecy. And secrecy to the point of ya don’t share it with anybody.165

In 2011 an important book by Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, demonstrated conclusively that the withholding was purposive, and sustained over a period of eighteen months.166 This interference and manipulation became particularly blatant and controversial in the days before 9/11.167

Before reading Fenton’s book, I was satisfied with Lawrence Wright’s speculation that the CIA may have wanted to recruit the two Saudis; and that “The CIA may also have been protecting an overseas operation [possibly in conjunction with Saudi Arabia] and was afraid that the F.B.I. would expose it.”168 However, I am now persuaded that Lawrence Wright’s explanation, that the CIA was protecting a covert operation, may explain the beginnings of the withholding in January 2000, but cannot explain its renewal, after a quiescent period, in the days just before 9/11.

Fenton analyzes a list of thirty-five different occasions where the two alleged hijackers were protected in this fashion, from January 2000 to about September 5, 2001, less than a week before the hijackings.169 In his analysis, the incidents fall into two main groups. In the earlier incidents he sees an intention “to cover a CIA operation that was already in progress.”170 However after “the system was blinking red” in the summer of 2001, and the CIA expected an imminent attack, Fenton can see no other explanation than that “the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.”171

In support of Fenton’s conclusion, there is evidence (not mentioned by him) indicating that in mid-2001 the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC), who were the chief suppliers of the CIA protection, believed an al-Qaeda attack was imminent, and that al-Mihdhar was important to it. On August 15, CIA Counterterrorism Chief Cofer Black told a secret Pentagon conference, “We’re going to be struck soon…. Many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S.”172 Three weeks earlier, CTC Deputy Chief Tom Wilshire had written that ““When the next big op is carried out… Khallad [bin Attash] will be at or near the top ….Khalid Midhar should be very high interest.”173 Yet Wilshire (like his superior, Richard Blee), instead of telling the FBI what he knew about al-Mihdhar, did the opposite: he

not only failed to tell anyone else involved in the hunt [for Al-Mihdhar] that Almihdhar would likely soon be a participant in a major al-Qaeda attack inside the US, but also supported a dubious procedure which meant that the FBI was only able to focus a fraction of the resources it had on the hunt.174

Fenton’s serious allegation has to be considered in the light of the earlier instances of protection we have surveyed:

1) the protection given to Salameh and Abouhalima in the 1990 Kahane murder, leaving them free to participate in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing;

2) the failure for two or three years to process Ali Mohamed’s documents seized in 1990, which could have prevented the 1993 World Trade Center bombing;

3) the release of Ali Mohamed from RCMP detention in 1993, leaving him free to participate in the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing;

4) the treatment of Ali Mohamed as an “unindicted coconspirator” in the 1993 WTC bombing case and Landmarks case, leaving him free to participate in the 1998 Nairobi Embassy bombing.

An On-Going Cover-Up That Did Not End with 9/11

There are other indicators that these events were part of a single long-term cover-up, one that is still on-going. One of the connectors is Sheikh Abdul Rahman’s Al-Salaam Mosque in Jersey City, visited by Ali Mohamed and his trainees in 1989, and allegedly frequented by two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers (Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi) in 2000-01.175

Next door to the Mosque in Jersey City was the Sphinx Trading Company, whose incorporator and director, Waleed Abouel Nour, was like Ali Mohamed listed as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1995 Landmarks conspiracy case. (The New York Times later reported that the FBI had identified Nour as a terrorist.)176

At minimum [sic], two Ali Mohamed-trained members of the New York cell — El Sayyid Nosair and Siddig Ali Siddig — are confirmed to have kept mailboxes at Sphinx Trading during the 1990s, as did the blind Sheikh himself. A decade later, the mailboxes were still being used by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.Testifying in a sealed proceeding in 2002, a New Jersey policeman said the FBI told him that “several of the hijackers involved in the September 11th event also had mailboxes at that location.” Police searched the office of a New Jersey businessman [Mohamed el-Atriss] whose name appeared on the Sphinx Trading Co. incorporation papers and found the names and phone numbers of several hijackers among his papers. The businessman eventually admitted having sold fake identification cards to two of the hijackers.177

[One of the fake IDs was given to Khalid al-Mihdhar.]178

This important inquiry into the infrastructure of the Ali Mohamed connection was quickly shut down by the FBI:

The police officer testified in 2002 that the FBI had shut down the New Jersey police investigation of these connections, without explanation but amid unconfirmed rumors (reported by the New York Times) that the businessman was himself an FBI informant. All terrorism charges against the businessman were eventually dropped.179

The Saudi-American Petroleum Complex and the Defense of the Petrodollar

This on-going cover-up of a terrorist infrastructure spanning a decade is mirrored by the censorship of the Joint Inquiry findings about Osama Basnan, involved in the pass-through of Saudi Embassy funds to al-Mihdhar, and earlier the host of a party for Sheikh Abdul Rahman. One factor enabling the cover-up is the overarching and little understood U.S.-Saudi relationship. To understand it we must also consider the context of petrodollars, OPEC and the major oil companies.

The export of Saudi oil, paid for by all customers in U.S. dollars, and in the U.S. case largely offset by the export of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia, is a major underpinning of America’s petrodollar economy. As I have documented elsewhere, its current strength is supported by OPEC’s requirement (secured by a secret agreement in the 1970s between the US and Saudi Arabia and continuing to this day) that all OPEC oil sales be denominated in dollars.180 $600 billion of the Saudi dollar earnings have been reinvested abroad, most of it in U.S. corporations like Citibank (where the two largest shareholders are members of the Saudi Royal family).181

This fusion of U.S. and Saudi governing interests is as much political as economic. The first oil price hikes of 1972-73, arranged by Nixon with the King of Saudi Arabia and the Shah of Iran, helped pay to arm Iran and Saudi Arabia as U.S. proxies in the region, following the withdrawal of British troops from the region in 1971.182 The oil price hikes of 1979-80, on the other hand, were assuredly not the intention of President Carter, a political victim of the increases. They have however been credibly attributed to the work of oil majors like BP, possibly acting in collusion with Republicans; and had the result of helping to elect Ronald Reagan (as well as Margaret Thatcher in England).183

I am suggesting that there is a high-level fusion of interests between the U.S. and Saudi governments, oil companies and banks (not to mention facilitating alliances like the Carlyle Group) which the CIA tends to represent continuously, and not just ad hoc for the sake of any one particular goal. The on-going protection given through the years to criminals like Salameh, Ali Mohamed, al-Mihdhar, and al-Hazmi should be seen as consequences of this high-level fusion of interests. Needless to add, the 99 percent of ordinary American people, having as a result now suffered a series of recurring attacks (the first World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 Embassy bombings, possibly even 9/11 itself), have been losers from this arrangement.

I am confident that the mystery of USG protection to terrorists can be traced in part to this “roof” of inscrutable governmental, financial, and corporate relationships between the United States and Saudi Arabia. There is a “black hole” at the center of this roof in which the interests of governments, petrodollar banks, intelligence agencies, and multinational oil companies, are all inscrutably mixed.

This multinational pyramid, with interests at odds with the American people’s, is growing stronger. In March 2007 the major U.S. corporation Halliburton, one of the prime forces behind U.S. involvement in the Caspian basin, announced it would “open a corporate headquarters in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai and move its chairman and chief executive, David J. Lesar, there.”184 One can see why. The UAE is a corporate paradise, with low taxes and unions forbidden by law.185

Haliburton in Dubai

Its petrodollars empower it to counter trends toward a more democratic Middle East: for example, the $8 billion aid now promised from the UAE and the Saudis to al-Sisi after the military coup in Egypt now marginalizes the paltry $1.5 billion annual aid package from the United States.186

And in the UAE there will be increasingly sophisticated infrastructure for a global reach, immune from popular oversight. A secret American-led mercenary army is being put together for the UAE by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater, who is now a UAE resident.187 In 2013 the UAE also hired Booz Allen, one of the National Security Agency’s most important contractors “to replicate the world’s largest and most powerful spy agency in the sands of Abu Dhabi.”188

Still at the apex of this pyramid are probably the banks and the colossi of the military-industrial-petroleum complex. Franklin Roosevelt wrote to Col. House in 1933: “The real truth . . . is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.”189 A year later Senator Gerald Nye, a Republican, presided over a series of influential hearings into munitions companies and banks, after which Sen. Nye commented that it was “altogether fair to say that these bankers [referring to the “house of Morgan”] were in the heart and center of a system that made our going to war inevitable.”190

That inevitability appears to have been reinforced by the introduction of swollen Saudi oil profits into the American political system. Adnan Khashoggi, a wealthy political fixer of the 1960s and 1970s, is said to have once left a briefcase containing one million dollars with Nixon at his Western White House, and to have held deposits of $200 million in the bank of Nixon’s crony Bebe Rebozo.191 In 1977 Saudi billionaires Khalid bin Mahfouz and Ghaith Pharaon teamed up with former Texas Governor John Connally to buy the Main Bank in Houston – a bank distinguished by its “highly unusual “ practice of obtaining and disbursing “more than ten million dollars a month in hundred dollar bills.”192 Khalid bin Mahfouz also “helped finance the Houston skyscraper for the Texas Commerce Bank, in which [Reagan’s Chief of Staff] James Baker had a significant stake.”193 Repeated investments in the struggling oil company of the young George W. Bush (Arbusto, later part of Harken Energy), led to speculation by “a knowledgeable Saudi source” that they “may have been part of the same strategy the Saudis had of investing in U.S. companies that were connected to powerful politicians.”194

George W. Bush and Prince bin Sultan

If we are ever to free our state from the invisible deep state behind it, and protect our institutions and people from onslaughts of foreign wealth, a first step, I am convinced, must be a closer public examination of our pseudo-war on terror.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

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Notes

1 Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little Brown, 2011), 52.

2 E.g. Marc Ambinder and D.G. Grady, Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry (New York: Wiley, 2013); John Tirman, “The Quiet Coup: No, Not Egypt. Here,” HuffingtonPost, July 9, 2013, here.

3 Erich Lichtblau, “In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.,” New York Times, July 6, 2013.

4 In addition there are unproven allegations that the United States granted a green card to Ayman al Zawahiri, identified in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 57) as “the most important Egyptian in bin Laden’s circle,” and since 2011 the leader of al-Qaeda (Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War On Truth: 9/11, Disinformation And The Anatomy Of Terrorism [Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005], 46). It is not contested that “Foreign trial transcripts and U.S. court records confirmed that Zawahiri had previously flown to America, once in the early 1990s, and again in 1994…. Ali Mohamed, bin-Laden’s American-trained military adviser, served as Zawahiri’s host during the 1994 American fundraising campaign” (Jayna Davis, The third terrorist: the Middle East connection to the Oklahoma City bombing [Nashville, TN: WND Books, 2004], 318-19).

5 Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 30.

6 It is relevant that in 2011 the U.S. provided assistance to the armed overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, by a violent resistance force in which the MB were prominent. See Peter Dale Scott, “The Libyan War, American Power and the Decline of the Petrodollar System”,” Asian-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, April 27, 2011, here.

7 E.g. Mark Mazzetti, “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat,” New York Times, September 23, 2006, here.

8 A recent FBI circular instructs enforcement officials that people should be “considered suspicious” of possible involvement in “terrorist activity” if they hold the “attitude” described as “Conspiracy theories about Westerners” (Ralph Lopez, “FBI calls half of populace with 9/11 doubts potential terrorists,” Crime, September 19, 2013, here; citing FBI circular, “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Sleepers”).

9 Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Ben Laden: la vérité interdite (Paris: Denoël, 2001), 14.

10 Robert Baer, See No Evil: the true story of a ground soldier in the CIA’s war on terrorism (New York: Crown Publishers, 2002), 243-44; discussion in Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, oil, and war: the United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). 28-31; The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 170-72.

11 Cf. my enlargement of the concept of an American deep state beyond parallel government in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 20-23; Peter Dale Scott, “The ‘Deep State’ behind U.S. democracy,” VoltaireNet, April 6, 2011, here; etc.

12 All of America’s military engagements since 1950 have involved defense of the petrodollar system. See Peter Dale Scott, “The Libyan War, American Power and the Decline of the Petrodollar System,” Asian-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, April 27, 2011, here.

13 Peter Lance, Triple Cross: How bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI — and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him (New York: Regan/ HarperCollins, 2006), 120-25. Cf. Toronto Globe and Mail, November 22, 2001; Tim Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012),  397.

14 Ali H. Soufan, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (New York: Norton, 2011), 75-77.

15 Lance, Triple Cross, 373. Cf. J.M. Berger, “Paving the Road to 9/11,” Intelwire, here: “Ali Mohamed was the utility player who created al Qaeda’s terrorist infrastructure in the United States — a series of connections, ideas, techniques and specific tools used by the [9/11] plot’s hijackers and masterminds…. Mohamed described teaching al Qaeda terrorists how to smuggle box cutters onto airplanes.”

16 Lance, Triple Cross, 123-24.

17 Soufan, The Black Banners, 561. The testimony of former FBI agents like Ali Soufan that Mohamed was not incarcerated has been challenged in a curious book by Special Forces veteran Pete Blaber, The Mission, The Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander (New York: Berkley Trade, 2010). Blaber claims to have interviewed Mohamed in a prison cell, after reading Mohamed’s perceptive document on how to track down Osama bin Laden. Blaber argues strenuously that Mohamed was not a double agent, but fails to deal with any of the countervailing evidence (such as the RCMP release).

18 “D.E.A. Deployed Mumbai Plotter Despite Warning,” New York Times, November 8, 2009; cf. Scott, American War Machine, 246-47. Cf. The Globe and Mail (Canada), May 26, 2011: “FBI thought Mumbai massacre plotter worked for them, court told.” Another much simpler domestic example of this puzzle is Richard Aoki, the FBI informant who in the 1960s supplied the Black Panthers in Oakland with arms (Seth Rosenfeld, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power [New York: Macmillan, 2012], 418-24, etc.).

19 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 151-60. For a summary, see Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists,” Asian-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 29, 2011, here.

20 Steven Emerson, American jihad: the terrorists living among us (New York: Free Press, 2002), 57-58; Peter L. Bergen, Holy war, Inc.: inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden (New York: Free Press, 2001), 135; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 181-82. Wright gives a detailed summary of John Zent’s ensuing interview with Mohamed in May 1993, but says not a word about Zent’s intervention with the RCMP. To my knowledge the only privileged book to do so is Tim Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012), 397: “He explained that he was working for the FBI and he offered the telephone number of his Bureau contact in San Francisco. The Canadians released Mohamed after the agent vouched for him.” Weiner’s relative candor came in 2012, long after this FBI scandal had already been publicized by Lance and other authors, including myself.

21 Cf. Washington Post, June 1, 2012: “Soufan’s case was unusual because he never worked for the CIA. The PRB’s [Publications Review Board’s] authority [i.e. legal authority] is grounded in the secrecy agreements signed by agency employees that require them to submit any material prepared for public disclosure ‘either during my employment . . . or at anytime thereafter.’” In other words, the CIA’s PRB had no legal right to censor Soufan’s book, but did so anyway – an example of the blurring of past bureaucratic distinctions in today’s shadow state.

22 Michael Scheuer, Osama bin Laden (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 218n.

23 “Ali Mohamed Case,” Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), Department of Defense, here; citing the Toronto Globe and Mail.

24 Benjamin Weiner and James Risen, “The Masking of a Militant: A special report; A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast,” New York Times, December 1, 1998. This embarrassing exercise in damage control cannot be found on Lexis Nexis.

25 Peter Waldman, Gerald F. Seib, Jerry Markon, Christopher Cooper, “Sergeant Served U.S. Army and bin Laden, Showing Failings in FBI’s Terror Policing,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2001.

26 Daniel Coleman, Affidavit, Sealed Complaint, United States of America v Ali Abdelseoud Mohamed, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, September 1998 (obtained by INTELWIRE.com), p.7, here. In fact Mohamed had been an FBI informant since at least 1992 (see below).

27 I had no choice but to remove certain relevant material from The Road to 9/11. As British and American lawyers pointed out to me, my sources had already retracted their statements before me.

28 Lance, Triple Cross, 125. Cf. Steven Emerson, “Osama bin Laden’s Special Operations Man,” Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International, September 1, 1998, here: “In a seemingly bizarre twist, while in California, Mohammed volunteered to provide information to the FBI on a smuggling operations involving Mexicans and other aliens not connected to terrorist groups. Within time, officials say, the relationship allowed Mohammed to divert the FBI’s attention away from looking at his real role in terrorism into examining the information he gave them about other smuggling.” But it could not have diverted the FBI’s attention for very long. By May 1993, five months later, Mohamed had described to Zent in some detail his activities with Obama and al-Qaeda (Wright, Looming Tower, 181-82; J. M. Berger, ed., Ali Mohamed: An Intelwire Sourcebook (Intelwire Press, 2006), 31-32).

29 Lance, Triple Cross, 95. Cf. Tim Weiner, Enemies, 397.

30 Lance, Triple Cross, 99. Similarly Tim Weiner writes that the FBI agents handling Mohamed “did not comprehend him” (Weiner, Enemies: a history of the FBI, 397).

31 “Ali Mohamed Case,” Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), Department of Defense, here, emphasis added.

32 Miller, Stone, Mitchell, The Cell, 90-91.

33 U.S. vs. Omar Abdel Rahman et al., September 11, 1995; quoted in Berger, Ali Mohamed, 210; cf. Lance, Triple Cross, 48.

34 “Sergeant Served U.S. Army and bin Laden,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2001: “At the time, the FBI wrote them off as harmless zealots, fired up to help the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan.”

35 Bergen, Holy War, Inc., 134. The al-Kifah Center (al-Kifah means “the struggle”) was “known informally as ‘the jihad office.’… There was no problem finding volunteers, who might stay in Afghanistan up to three months at a time…. The volunteers joined the forces of the Hezb-I-Islami (Party of Islam), led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar” (Stephen Franklin, “Slain Muslim Had Link To Radical Cleric,” Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1993, here.)

36 Mitchell D. Silber, The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 169-70.

37 Peter Bergen, Holy War, Inc., 130-31.

38 Lawrence Wright, Looming Tower, 180; citing Boston Globe, February 3, 1995; cf. Robert Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad,” New Yorker, March 17, 1995; Paul L. Williams, Al Qaeda: brotherhood of terror ([Parsippany, NJ?]: Alpha, 2002), 117.

39 Lance Williams and Erik McCormick, “Al Qaeda terrorist worked with FBI,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2001.

40 “Ali Mohamed Case,” Pentagon, here.

41 Robert Friedman, “The CIA and the Sheik,” Village Voice, March 30, 1993; Evan Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe (New York: Berg, 2004), 26.

42 John Miller, Michael Stone, Chris Mitchell, The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (New York: Hyperion, 2002), 44. Cf. J.M. Berger, Jihad Joe: Americans who go to war in the name of Islam, (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2011), 44: “The stash included military training manuals and documents given to Nosair by Sergeant Ali Mohamed, the jihadist mole at Fort Bragg.”

43 Newsday, November 8, 1990.

44 New York Times, November 8, 1990.

45 New York Times, December 16, 1990. Compare the Pentagon’s terrorist account of the training given by Mohamed (“surveillance, weapons and explosives”) with the more benign version in the long article about Mohamed in the New York Times: “Mr. Mohamed met the local Muslims at an apartment in Jersey City, and taught them survival techniques, map reading and how to recognize tanks and other Soviet weapons, according to testimony by one of his students at Mr. Nosair’s 1995 Federal trial” (Weiner and Risen, “The Masking of a Militant: A special report,” New York Times, December 01, 1998).

46 TV journalist John Miller, a former New York deputy police commissioner who would later become the FBI’s Assistant Director for Public Affairs, reported in The Cell (44) that the disputed evidence from Nosair’s home was withheld from NYPD officer Edward Morris, who prepared the NYPD case against Nosair: “On the third day after the shooting, while Norris was out to lunch, the FBI removed Nosair’s 16 boxes of files from Norris’s squad room. Unfortunately the evidence was about to enter a black hole. The FBI now says it turned the files the evidence was about to enter a black hole. The FBI now says it turned the files over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, after it was decided, following a series of meetings and phone calls, that the local prosecutor and the NYPD would have exclusive jurisdiction over the murder case. The Manhattan DA’s office won’t comment on what was done with the files before Nosair’s trial, though Norris was never informed they were available. But this much is certain: The bulk of the material remained untranslated and unread for nearly three years.” [This last sentence is hard to reconcile with the detailed description given at the time by Borelli.]

47 Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad.”

48 Lance, Triple Cross, 58-62.

49 For the list, see Lance, Triple Cross, 574-75.

50 Steve Coll, Ghost wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 251.

51 Quoted in Peter Lance, Triple Cross, 383.

52 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, 255; “Since 1989 the FBI had been running paid informants inside circles of Islamic radicals in New York and New Jersey. In 1990, the FBI carted away forty-seven boxes of documents and training manuals from the home of El Sayyid Nosair.” Cf. Lance, Triple Cross, 73-75, etc.

53 Robert Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad,” New Yorker, March 17, 1995.

54 Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: how the United States helped unleash fundamentalist Islam (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003), 73-79, 98-108, 120-25. Cf. Robert Baer (a former CIA officer), Sleeping with the Devil (New York: Crown, 2003), 99: “The White House looked on the Brothers as a silent ally, a secret weapon against (what else?) communism. This covert action started in the 1950s with the Dulles brothers… when they approved Saudi Arabia’s funding of Egypt’s Brothers against Nasser;” Scott, Road to 9/11, 44.

55 Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game, 274-75; quoting John Cooley, Unholy Wars (London: Pluto Press, 1999), 31-32: “By the end of 1980, U.S. military trainers were sent to Egypt to impart the skills of the U.S. Special Forces to those Egyptians who would, in turn, pass on the training to the Egyptian volunteers flying to the aid of the mujahideen in Afghanistan.”

56 Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to terror: the rogue CIA and the legacy of America’s private intelligence network (New York: Carrol and Graf, 2005), 150, 247.

57 “Ali Mohamed Case,” here.

58 Cf. Emerson, “Osama bin Laden’s Special Operations Man:” “He had been in the United States earlier that decade, having graduated as a captain from a Special Forces Officers School at Fort Bragg in 1981 in a program for visiting military officials from foreign countries.”

59 Lance, Triple Cross, 194 (oath).

60 Scott, Road to 9/11, 161-62; citing Guardian (London), January 7, 1993; Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 16.

61 Ferrukh Mir, Half Truth (iUniverse.com, 2011), 163-64: “In 1992, Ali Mohamed, a double agent and ex-US Special Forces officer with close ties to Al-Kifah, led a group of US militants who were all ex-US soldiers to train and fight in Bosnia. Abu Obadiah Yahiya, an ex-US Marine and security chief at the Brooklyn branch, lead [sic] a second group of US militants to fight in Bosnia.” Cf. Mark Huband, Trading Secrets: spies and intelligence in an age of terror (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 112; “Mohamed – using the nom-de-guerre Abu ‘Abdallah – travelled to Bosnia as part of a team which trained and armed Muslim fighters there until June 1993, when he travelled on to Khartoum and was asked by bin Laden to set up the al-Qaeda cell in Nairobi, Kenya.”

62 Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 39-41; citing Steve Coll and Steve LeVine, “Global Network Provides Money, Haven,” Washington Post, August 3, 1993. Bin Laden also gave money to the Third World Relief Agency to buy weapons for Bosnian fighters (Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Through our enemies’ eyes: Osama bin Laden, radical Islam, and the future of America [Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2006], 151).

63 Scott, Road to 9/11, 149-50; Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 45, 73-75.

64 Scott, Road to 9/11, 149; Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 73. I have been unable to identify this Prince Faisal securely. He is perhaps Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who frequently visited the United States in connection with his horse-breeding interests in Kentucky. In 2003 Gerald Posner claimed that Faisal’s older brother and business partner Ahmed bin Salman had had ties to al-Qaeda and advance knowledge of 9/11 (Gerald Posner, Why America slept: the failure to prevent 9/11 [New York: Random House, 2003]), 202. Cf. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Day, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Bin Laden (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011), 405-07, 419, 563-64.

65 Friedman, “The CIA’s Jihad.” About this time, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in 2013 the leader of al-Qaeda, came without difficulty to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley, where he was hosted by Ali Mohamed (Lawrence Wright, New Yorker: “Zawahiri decided to look for money in the world center of venture capitalism-Silicon Valley. He had been to America once before, in 1989, when he paid a recruiting visit to the mujahideen’s Services Bureau branch office in Brooklyn. According to the F.B.I., he returned in the spring of 1993, this time to Santa Clara, California, where he was greeted by Ali Mohamed, the double agent.”)

66 Bruce O. Riedel, The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2008), 43: “Osama also worked with ISI in the creation of a key Kashmiri jihadist group in the late 1980s, the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.” Cf. Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America (Rocklin, CA: Forum, 2001), 320.

67 Michael Scheuer, “Central Asia in Al-Qaeda’s Vision of the Anti-American Jihad, 1979-2006,” China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly (2006), 3.

68 The Black Vault

69 Ahmed Rashid, “They’re Only Sleeping: Why militant Islamicists in Central Asia aren’t going to go away,” New Yorker, January 14, 2002, here; cf. Ahmed Rashid, Jihad (New Haven: Yale UP, 2002), 165; Svante Cornell, “Narcotics, Radicalism and Security in Central Asia: The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,” Uppsala University, December 2004, 19: “Bolot Januzakov, Head of the Kyrgyz Security Council, asserted in 2000 that the IMU controlled the majority, perhaps up to 70%, of the heroin entering Kyrgyzstan.”

70 Gretchen Peters, Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda (New York: Macmillan, 2009), 69, 87, 89, 132-33.

71 Peters, Seeds of Terror, 132-33.

72 9/11 Commission, “Monograph on Terrorist Financing: Staff Report to the Commission,” 7. Cf. 9/11 Commission Report, 171: “Al Qaeda has been alleged to have used a variety of illegitimate means, particularly drug trafficking and conflict diamonds, to finance itself…. While the drug trade was a source of income for the Taliban, it did not serve the same purpose for al Qaeda.” The footnote to this sentence (p. 499) adds: “No evidence indicates any such involvement in drug trafficking, and none of the detained al Qaeda operatives has indicated that this was a method of fund-raising.”

73Evidence Presented to the British Parliament, 4th October 2001,” Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2001. Cf. New York Times, October 4, 2001. For further documentation, see Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 32, 36.

74 New York Times, 7/20/93. Cf. J. R. de Szigethy, “Crime Scene — World Trade Center,” AmericanMafia.com, September 2004: “The murders [from the 1993 WTC bombing] were the result of a plot by members of an organized crime syndicate involved in drug trafficking.”

75 Jayna Davis, The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing (Nashville: WND Books/Thomas Nelson, 2004), 303.

76 Boston Herald, 10/17/01; cf. 9/11 Report, 175.

77 Cf. Scott, American War Machine.

78 Steven Emerson, American jihad: the terrorists living among us (New York: Free Press, 2002), 28.

79 Yossef Bodansky, Terror! The Inside Story of the Terrorist Conspiracy in America (New York: S.P.I. Books, 1994), 166. Similarly Gerald Posner notes “rumors that [Mustafa] Shalabi [the head of the al-Kifah Center until he was murdered in February 1991] … might be involved in counterfeiting” (Posner, Why America slept, 8).

80 Berger, Jihad Joe, 37; citing USA v. Rahman, S5 93 Cr. 181, court transcript, April 3, 1995.

81 Scheuer, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes, 151.

82 Emerson, American jihad, 28.

83 Bin Laden’s and al-Qaeda’s proximity to Khattab is both asserted and disputed at high levels. See Robert W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: from gazavat to jihad (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International, 2011), 165-66.

84 Thomas Hegghammer. Jihad in Saudi Arabia: violence and pan-Islamism since 1979 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 56.

85 Soufan, Black Banners, 62. Jeremy Scahill also writes of Special Operations veterans in Blackwater with previous “experience in Chechnya” (Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield [New York: Nation Books, 2013], 408.).

86 Berger, Ali Mohamed, 18 (discussed below).

87 Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam’s Holiest Shrine (New York: Anchor, 2008).

88 Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan: messianic terrorism, tribal conflicts, and the failures of great powers (New York: PublicAffairs, 2011), 179-82, 195-99.

89 Coll, Ghost wars, 155. For Azzam’s and OBL’s Muslim Brotherhood memberships, see Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: an Arabian family in the American century (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), 148, 253.

90 Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale UP, 2001), 131. Cf. Steven A. Yetiv, The Petroleum Triangle: Oil, Globalization, and Terror (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 65.

91 Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 198.

92 Scott, Road to 9/11, 171; citing Rajeev Sharma, Pak Proxy War (New Delhi: Kaveri Books, 2002), 145-46.

93 Cf. John J. Loftus, “What Congress Does Not Know about Enron and 9/11,” May 2003, here: “The … block order, in force since the 1980’s, was against any investigation that would embarrass the Saudi Royal family. Originally, it was designed to conceal Saudi support for Muslim extremists fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Chechnya, but it went too far. Oliver North noted in his autobiography, that every time he tried to do something about terrorism links in the Middle East, he was told to stop because it might embarrass the Saudis. This block remains in place.”

94 Scott, Road to 9/11, 172; citing Greg Palast and David Pallister, “Intelligence: FBI Claims Bin Laden Inquiry Was Frustrated,” Guardian, November 7, 2001, here.

95 Coleman affidavit, 2; in Berger, Ali Mohamed, 26.

96 Coll, The Bin Ladens, 399-401.

97 For a summary of some of the conflicting accounts, see Summers and Day, The Eleventh Day, 215-16.

98 Coll, Ghost Wars, 231, emphasis added. In 2001 Peter Bergen had claimed that bin Laden “used his family connections with King Fahd to convince the [Saudi] government that he needed to leave the country to sort out some business matters in Pakistan. Arriving there in April 1991, he then sent a letter to his family telling them that he would not be able to return home. After some months in Afghanistan he arrived in Sudan” (Bergen, Holy War, Inc., 81-82).

99 9/11 Commission Report, 57. In the December 2004 paperback edition of Ghost Wars (231-32), Coll adjusted his account to reconcile with the 9/11 Report. He replaced his sentence, “The escort put bin Laden on a plane out of Saudi Arabia,” with two new ones: “Two associates of bin Laden later offered a different version while under interrogation. They said a dissident member of the royal family helped him leave the country by arranging for bin Laden to attend an Islamic conference in Pakistan during the spring of 1991.” The “Islamic conference” is almost certainly a reference to the negotiations in Peshawar, which produced the Saudi-backed Peshawar Accord (finalized in April 1992) to end the Afghan Civil War. Bin Laden did play a part in these negotiations. Like Sheikh Rahman before him, he tried, vainly, to negotiate a truce between the warring mujahideen leaders, Massoud and Hekmatyar (Wright, Looming Tower, 161; Roy Gutman. How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Hijacking of Afghanistan [Washington DC., Endowment of the United States Institute of Peace, 2008], 34).

100 Steve Coll also suggests that the “interior ministry” (headed by the Prince) supplied bin Laden with “a one-time exit visa to travel to Pakistan to liquidate investments there” (Coll, The Bin Ladens, 381). Both motives may have been present in bin Laden’s mind, but his capacity to serve as a mediator may have been more influential in persuading the Saudis to arrange for his departure.

101 Wright, Looming Tower, 161. For Naif (or Nayef) as anti-American, see Coll, Ghost Wars, 399; Coll, The Bin Ladens, 437, 626n.

102 Tomsen, Wars of Afghanistan, 485: “Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood extremists, and Prince Turki’s General Intelligence Directorate supported the ISI’s extremist-centered Afghan strategy.”

103 Against this odd claim cf. e.g. Wright, Looming Tower, 154: “The minister of the interior, Prince Naif, … summoned bin Laden to his office…. Bin Laden had reported to Naif…many times during the Afghan jihad.” As noted above, Ahmed Rashid claims that bin Laden and Prince Turki became “firm friends and allies” in the same cause (Taliban, 131).

104 “A Biography of Osama bin Laden,” Frontline, PBS, here.

105 Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Through our enemies’ eyes, 131.

106 Coll, Ghost Wars, 207.

107 Barnett R. Rubin, Afghanistan in the Post-Cold war Era (New York: Oxford UP, 2013), 86.

108 Coll, Ghost Wars, 215-16.

109 Coll, The Bin Ladens, 403-05: (“Osama now became a target; it is not entirely clear why”).

110 Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 337.

111 Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 406-07.

112 Coll, Ghost Wars, 225.

113 Scott, American War Machine, 94-105; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 98-103.

114 Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, 145.

115 Thomas Goltz, Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter’s Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1999), 272-75. Cf. Mark Irkali, Tengiz Kodrarian and Cali Ruchala, “God Save the Shah,” Sobaka Magazine, May 22, 2003, here. A fourth operative in MEGA Oil, Gary Best, was also a veteran of North’s Contra support effort. For more on General Secord’s and Major Aderholt’s role as part of Ted Shackley’s team of off-loaded CIA assets and capabilities, see Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era (Boston: South End Press, 1987), 26-30, 36-42, 197-98.

116 It was also a time when Congress, under pressure from Armenian voters, had banned all military aid to Azerbaijan (under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act). This ban, reminiscent of the Congressional ban on aid to the Contras in the 1980s, ended after 9/11. “In the interest of national security, and to help in `enhancing global energy security’ during this War on Terror, Congress granted President Bush the right to waive Section 907 in the aftermath of September 11th. It was necessary, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Congress, to `enable Azerbaijan to counter terrorist organizations’” (Irkali, Kodrarian and Ruchala, “God Save the Shah,” Sobaka Magazine, May 22, 2003).

117 Goltz, Azerbaijan Diary, 272-75; Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 7. As part of the airline operation, Azeri pilots were trained in Texas. Dearborn had previously helped Secord advise and train the fledgling Contra air force (Marshall, Scott, and Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection, 197). These important developments were barely noticed in the U.S. press, but a Washington Post article did belatedly note that a group of American men who wore “big cowboy hats and big cowboy boots” had arrived in Azerbaijan as military trainers for its army, followed in 1993 by “more than 1,000 guerrilla fighters from Afghanistan’s radical prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.” (Washington Post, 4/21/94) Richard Secord was allegedly attempting also to sell Israeli arms, with the assistance of Israeli agent David Kimche, another associate of Oliver North. See Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 7, 8, 20. Whether the Americans were aware of it or not, the al- Qaeda presence in Baku soon expanded to include assistance for moving jihadis onwards into Dagestan and Chechnya.

118 Cooley, Unholy Wars, 180; Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 7. These important developments were barely noticed in the U.S. press, but a Washington Post article did belatedly note that a group of American men who wore “big cowboy hats and big cowboy boots” had arrived in Azerbaijan as military trainers for its army, followed in 1993 by “more than 1,000 guerrilla fighters from Afghanistan’s radical prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.” (Washington Post, April 21, 1994). The Azeri “Afghan Brigade” was formally dissolved in 1994, after which it focused more on sabotage and terrorism (Cooley, Unholy Wars, 181),

119 As the 9/11Commission Report notes (58), the bin Laden organization established an NGO in Baku, which became a base for terrorism elsewhere. It also became a transshipment point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia, whose branches “extended not only to the London arms market, but also throughout continental Europe and North America (Cooley, Unholy Wars, 176).

120 Rubin, Afghanistan from the Cold War, 86.

121 Bergen, Holy War, Inc., 67. Cf. Ali Soufan, Black Banners, 565 (murder of Anwar Sadat, watch list); Berger, Jihad Joe, 24 (watch list).

122 Lawrence Wright, Looming Tower, 180; cf. Paul L. Williams, Al Qaeda: brotherhood of terror ([Parsippany, NJ?]: Alpha, 2002), 117.

123 “A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast,” New York Times, December 1, 1998, here.

124 Phil Karber, Fear and faith in paradise: exploring conflict and religion in the Middle East (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), ZZ; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 164-65.

125 Summers, The Eleventh Day, 393: “Citing a U.S. intelligence source, the author Simon Reeve reported as much in 1999 – well before it became an issue after 9/11.”

126 Summers and Swan, The Eleventh Day, 394.

127 Coll, The Bin Ladens, 399-401. Cf. Geoffrey Wawro, Quicksand: America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East (New York: Penguin Press, 2010): “Osama mixed business and religion. He committed to build an airport at Port Sudan;” Karber, Fear and faith in paradise: “Bin Laden promised the people of Sudan an airport at Port Sudan.”

128 Wright, Looming Tower, 165.

129 The text of the State Department paper of August 14, 1996, “State Department Issues Factsheet on Bin Ladin,” is reproduced in Brisard and Dasquié, Ben Laden: la vérité interdite, 257-58.

130 The Faisal Islamic Bank of Sudan and the Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt were both founded in 1977 with official approval by Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud, a graduate of Menlo College in California. Cf. “Sudan Islamic Banking,” Photius, here: “The Faisal Islamic Bank, whose principal patron was the Saudi prince, Muhammad ibn Faisal Al Saud, was officially established in Sudan in 1977 by the Faisal Islamic Bank Act. The ‘open door’ policy enabled Saudi Arabia, which had a huge surplus after the 1973 Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) increases in the price of petroleum, to invest in Sudan. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the National Islamic Front, played a prominent role on the board of directors of the Faisal Islamic Bank, thus strengthening the bank’s position in Sudan.”

131 Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game, 180-81.

132 Jane’s Intelligence Review, August 1, 2001; quoted in Scott, Road to 9/11, 356.

133 John Crewdson, “Swiss Officials Freeze Bank Accounts Linked to Supporters of Terrorist Groups.” Chicago Tribune, November 3, 2001, Cf. Ahmed, War on Truth, 98; Financial Times, November 29 2001: “A US State Department report in 1996 and a French investigation into the bank separately concur that bin Laden invested $50m in the bank on his arrival in Sudan in 1991, an allegation Mr Ismail [of the bank] denies.” Cf. also Brisard, Ben Laden: La Verité Interdite, 119-21, 308-10, etc.

134 Coll, The Bin Ladens, 413. There is a brief reference to the State Department White Paper in Bergen, Holy Wars, Inc. (2001), 83: “Bin Laden…sank $50 million of his own money into the Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in Khartoum” (cf. 264n). The controversial author Yossef Bodansky links both the Faisal Islamic Bank and the Al-Shamal Bank to significant jihad activities, as well as possible drug trafficking (Bodansky, Bin Laden, 42-43).

135 Lance, Triple Cross, 157-59, citing State Department Cable 1994STATE335575.

136 Steve A. Yetiv, The petroleum triangle: oil, globalization, and terror (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2011), 114-15.

137 Zachary Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2003), 108. At ease in Saudi Arabia, Khalifa became a misleading source, rather than a topic of inquiry, in privileged bin Laden books like Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower (112-13, 450).

138 Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Through our enemies’ eyes, 151.

139 Lance, Triple Cross, 161, citing personal interview.

140 Lance, Triple Cross, 162.

141 Lance, Triple Cross, 157-58.

142 Khalifa also “headed the Muslim World League office in Peshawar in the 1980s. In 1988, he moved to Manila and opened a branch office of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [an allied royal creation]” (Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 198).

143 Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, 167, 140.

144 Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 179-82, 195-99.

145 Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, 93.

146 Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, 69; Aaron Mannes, Profiles In Terror: The Guide To Middle East Terrorist Organizations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 41.

147 Kumar Ramakrishna (ed.), After Bali: The Threat of Terrorism in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, 2003), 139.

148 Wesley J. L. Anderson, Disrupting Threat Finances: Utilization of Financial Information to Disrupt Terrorist Organizations in the Twenty-First Century (S.l.: BiblioScholar, 2012), 14.

149 Girma Yohannes Iyassu Menelik, Europe: The Future Battleground of Islamic Terrorism (München: GRIN-Verlag, 2010), 95.

150 Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 41-42. Before being captured in Pakistan, Ramzi Yousuf was being sheltered by his maternal uncle Zahid al-Shaikh, a principal with Mercy International (Lance, 1000 Years for Revenge, 189). Mercy International was another Islamic NGO involved in recruiting “international volunteers” for the war in Bosnia (Richard Labévière, Dollars For Terror: The United States and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000), 151.

151 Larry Niksch, Abu Sayyaf: Target of Philippine-U. S. Anti-Terrorism Cooperation (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2007), CRS-4.

152 Peter L. Bergen, The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda’s Leader (New York: Free Press, 2006), 444.

153 9/11 Commission Report, 73; citing Joint Inquiry Report (classified version), 324-28. Cf. pp. 146, 148: “In 1992, KSM… moved his family to Qatar at the suggestion of the former minister of Islamic affairs of Qatar, Sheikh Abdallah…, In January 1996, well aware that U.S. authorities were chasing him, he left Qatar for good.”

154 Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, 18-19, 194-96. Baer heard from another member of the al-Thani family, former police chief Hamad bin Jasim bin Hamad al-Thani, that when KSM came from the Philippines, Abdallah bin Khalid gave him 20 blank Qatari passports. Later, “As soon as the FBI showed up in Doha” in 1996, the emir ordered Abdallah to move KSM out of his apartment to his beach estate, and eventually out of the country (pp. 195-96).

155 Brian Ross and David Scott, “Al Qaeda Ally? Member of Qatari Royal Family Helped Senior Al Qaeda Official Get Away,” ABCNEWS.com, February 7, 2003, here.

156 9/11 Commission Report, 488; citing Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 23, 2003.

157 9/11 Commission Report, 171. A Sarajevo paper confirmed that KSM worked for a relief group in Bosnia that “was just a cover for the Cairo-based Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood” (Adnkronos, January 20, 2009, here).

158 “How Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the Tortoise and the Hare of the Middle East,” The Atlantic, August 27, 2013, here. Qatar’s motives for this support seem to be the same as Saudi support earlier, for protection at home: “By aligning itself with [the Brotherhood] Qatar could extend its influence and protect itself from revolution on its own soil, turning the Muslim Brotherhood into an ally rather than a threat” (Frida Ghitis, “Qatar’s Risky Bet on the Muslim Brotherhood,” World Policy Review, January 31, 2013).

159 E.g. Kimberley N. Trapp, State Responsibility for International Terrorism (New York : Oxford University Press, 2011), 51.

160 Lance, Triple Cross, 253; emphasis in original. Lance does discuss the role of Qatar’s Sheikh Abdullah in helping KSM to escape the FBI (Cover up: what the government is still hiding about the war on terror [New York: Regan Books, 2004], 168-69).

161 Lance, Triple Cross, 342.

162 Summers and Day, The Eleventh Day, 410-15, 559-62; Former Senator Bob Graham, Keys to the Kingdom, 131-32; cf. David B. Ottaway, The king’s messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America’s tangled relationship with Saudi Arabia (New York: Walker & Company, 2008), 198-99.

163 9/11 Commission, ”Appendix A: The Financing of the 9/11 Plot, Staff Report, Terrorist Financing, 1.“Despite persistent public speculation, there is no evidence that the hijackers who initially settled in San Diego, Mihdhar and Hazmi, received funding from Saudi citizens Omar al Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, or that Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal provided any funds to the hijackers either directly or indirectly. A number of internal FBI documents state without reservation that Bayoumi paid rent on behalf of Mihdhar and Hazmi, a claim reflecting the initial view of some FBI agents. More thorough investigation, however, has determined that Bayoumi did not pay rent or provide any funding to the hijackers.”

164 9/11 Commission Report, 266-72 (272).

165 Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Who Is Rich Blee?” 911Truth.org, September 21, 2111; Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Insiders voice doubts about CIA’s 9/11 story,” Salon, October 14, 2111, here. O’Connor and Nowosielski add corroboration from former Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke. “Clarke said he assumed that ‘there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share that information.’ When asked who might have issued such an order, he replied, ‘I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet — although he added that Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.’

166 Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots (Walterville, OR: TrineDay, 2011); cf. Peter Dale Scott, “9/11 as a Deep Event: How CIA Personnel Helped Allow It To Happen,” in James R Gourley, ed., The 9/11 Toronto Report: International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001 (Seattle, WA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012), 109-27. According to Fenton (pp. 72-79), the post-9/11 cover-up of Wilshire’s behavior was principally the work of one person, Barbara Grewe, who worked first on the Justice Department Inspector General’s investigation of Wilshire’s behavior, then was transferred to two successive positions with the 9/11 Commission’s staff.

167 On August 29, less than two weeks before 9/11, this interference led one FBI agent, Steve Bongardt, to predict accurately that “someday someone will die” (9/11 Commission Report, 259, 271; Lawrence Wright, Looming Tower, 352–54; Scott, American War Machine, 203).

168 Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; cf. Wright,Looming Tower, 339-44; discussion in Scott, The War Conspiracy, 355, 388-89.

169 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 383-86.

170 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 48. Cf. Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; quoted approvingly in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 399.

171 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.

172 Quoted in Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, 21.

173 Tom Wilshire, July 23, 2001, in “United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui (No. 01-455), Substitution for the Testimony of ‘John.’” U.S. Court for the District of Alexandria, July 31, 2006; quoted in Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 274, 401.

174 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 276.

175 Berger, Ali Mohamed, 17; citing Wayne Parry, “Mysterious pair in custody perplexes federal investigators,” Associated Press, November 11, 2001; Falasten M. Abdeljabbar, “Neighborhood tired of suspicions and fear,” The Jersey Journal, December 18, 2001.

176 Robert Hanley and Jonathan Miller, “4 Transcripts Are Released In Case Tied to 9/11 Hijackers,” New York Times, June 25, 2003.

177 Berger, Ali Mohamed, 18; citing John Kifner, “Kahane Suspect Is a Muslim With a Series of Addresses,” New York Times, November 7, 1990; Transcript, Sealed Bail Hearing, US v. El-Atriss, November 19, 2002. The transcripts were unsealed after a lawsuit by several organizations including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

178 Wayne Parry, “September 11 Fake ID Suspect Flees U.S.,” Associated Press, July 31, 2003, here.

179 Berger, Ali Mohamed, 18; citing Robert Hanley and Jonathan Miller, “4 Transcripts Are Released In Case Tied to 9/11 Hijackers,” New York Times, June 25, 2003; Wayne Parry, “Judge releases transcripts in Sept. 11 fake IDs case,” Associated Press, June 24, 2003. The New York Times story is worth quoting further: “*Mr. Atriss was a co-founder of a Jersey City check-cashing company, Sphinx Trading Company, that had bank accounts with millions of dollars and had as a co-owner Waleed Abouel Nour, whom the F.B.I. had identified as a terrorist. That business was at the same location, on Kennedy Boulevard, used as a mailing address by several of the hijackers and earlier by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whose followers were convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.”

180 Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 53. Cf. David E. Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999), x: “In 1974 [Treasury Secretary William] Simon negotiated a secret deal so the Saudi central bank could buy U.S. Treasury securities outside of the normal auction. A few years later, Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal cut a secret deal with the Saudis so that OPEC would continue to price oil in dollars. These deals were secret because the United States had promised other industrialized democracies that it would not pursue such unilateral policies.

181 See e.g. Michael Quint, “Saudi Prince Becomes Citicorp’s Top Stockholder.” New York Times, February 22, 1991.

182 Andrew Scott Cooper, The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), 275, etc.; Scott, Road to 9/11, 33-34.

183 F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (London: Pluto Press, 2004), 173; Andrew Gavin Marshall, “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the ‘Arc of Crisis.’” Global Research, September 4, 2010, here. Cf. Scott, Road to 9/11, 86-89.

184 “Halliburton to Move Headquarters to Dubai,” New York Times, March 11, 2007, here. Halliburton made this announcement after it was “being investigated by different government agencies for various allegations of improper business dealings, and it is in the cross hairs of Democrats in Congress for alleged overbilling” (ABC News, March 12, 2007, here).

In 2013 the hotel conglomerate Starwood, operating Sheraton and Westin hotels, announced a similar move for a month as “a grand experiment” (Business Insider, April 11, 2013, here).

185 Energy analyst Roger Read said that if Halliburton “formally incorporates itself in the U.A.E., the banking mecca of the Middle East, company profits will soar…. ‘You’d probably be looking at a tax savings of several hundred million [dollars]. … It’s a win for the shareholders’” (ABC News, March 12, 2007, here).

186 “Egypt Is Arena for Influence of Arab Rivals,” New York Times, July 9, 2015, here

187 “Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder,” New York Times, May 14, 2011, here.

188 David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, “After Profits, Defense Contractor Faces the Pitfalls of Cybersecurity,” New York Times, June 15, 2013, here).

189 Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: a political history of the American rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002), 71.

190 “Nye Denies Inquiry ‘Cleared’ Morgan, New York Times, February 10, 1936;

quoted in Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States (New York: Gallery Books, 2012), 76.

191 Summers with Swan, Arrogance of Power, 283; Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, 43 (briefcase); Renata Adler, “Searching for the Real Nixon Scandal,” Atlantic [December 1976], 76–84 Rebozo’s bank).

192 Russ Baker, Family of secrets: the Bush dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence means for America (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009), 304; citing Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud, 34.

193 Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud, 101.

194 Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud, 122; cf. Scott, Road to 9/11, 176-78.

– See more at: http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/4005#sthash.ct0isKIa.dpuf

Militarization of Local Law Enforcement Erodes Civil Liberties, Encourages Overly Aggressive Policing

American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in 23 states today simultaneously filed more than 255 public records requests to determine the extent to which local police departments are using federally subsidized military technology and tactics that are traditionally used overseas.

“Equipping state and local law enforcement with military weapons and vehicles, military tactical training, and actual military assistance to conduct traditional law enforcement erodes civil liberties and encourages increasingly aggressive policing, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the ACLU’s Center for Justice. “We’ve seen examples of this in several localities, but we don’t know the dimensions of the problem.”

The affiliates filed public records requests with local law enforcement agencies seeking information on the use of:

Special Weapons and Tactics teams, including:

  • Number and purpose of deployments
  • Types of weapons used during deployments
  • Injuries sustained by civilians during deployments
  • Training materials
  • Funding sources.

Cutting edge weapons and technologies, including:

  • GPS tracking devices
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones”
  • Augmented detainee restraint, or “shock-cuffs”
  • Military weaponry, equipment, and vehicles obtained from or funded by federal agencies such as the Departments of Defense and/or Homeland Security.

Affiliates filed a second request with state National Guards seeking information regarding:

  • Cooperative agreements between local police departments and the National Guard counter-drug program.
  • Incidents of National Guard contact with civilians.

“The American people deserve to know how much our local police are using military weapons and tactics for everyday policing,” said Allie Bohm, ACLU advocacy and policy strategist. “The militarization of local police is a threat to Americans’ right to live without fear of military-style intervention in their daily lives, and we need to make sure these resources and tactics are deployed only with rigorous oversight and strong legal protections.”

The affiliates which filed public records requests are: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Once the information has been collected and analyzed, if needed, the ACLU will use the results to recommend changes in law and policy governing the use of military tactics and technology in local law enforcement.

URL http://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/aclu-launches-nationwide-investigation-police-use-military-technology-tactics
March 6, 2013

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; [email protected]


ACLU - The Militarization of Policing in America

No Tanks in Towns

American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war.

Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend. It’s time to understand the true scope of the militarization of policing in America and the impact it is having in our neighborhoods.

On March 6th, ACLU affiliates in 23 states filed over 255 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments. Stay tuned as this project develops.hnology & Tactics

 

NATO’s Secret Armies Linked to Terrorism?

October 6th, 2013 by Dr. Daniele Ganser

At a time when experts are debating whether NATO is suited to deal with the global “war on terror”, new research suggests that the alliance’s own secret history has links to terrorism. [This article was originally published in December 2004]

ISN Editor’s Note:

This report written by Daniele Ganser is based on excerpts from his book, “NATO’s Secret Armies. Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe”, released this week by Frank Cass in London.

The book describes NATO’s clandestine operations during the Cold War. The research was prompted by a story that made world headlines in 1990 but quickly disappeared, ensuring that even today, NATO’s secret armies remain just that – secret.

Until now, a full investigation of NATO’s secret armies had not been carried out – a task that Ganser has taken on single-handedly and quite successfully.


In Italy, on 3 August 1990, then-prime minister Giulio Andreotti confirmed the existence of a secret army code-named “Gladio” – the Latin word for “sword” – within the state. His testimony before the Senate subcommittee investigating terrorism in Italy sent shockwaves through the Italian parliament and the public, as speculation arose that the secret army had possibly manipulated Italian politics through acts of terrorism.

Andreotti revealed that the secret Gladio army had been hidden within the Defense Ministry as a subsection of the military secret service, SISMI. General Vito Miceli, a former director of the Italian military secret service, could hardly believe that Andreotti had lifted the secret, and protested:

“I have gone to prison because I did not want to reveal the existence of this super secret organization. And now Andreotti comes along and tells it to parliament!” According to a document compiled by the Italian military secret service in 1959, the secret armies had a two-fold strategic purpose: firstly, to operate as a so-called “stay-behind” group in the case of a Soviet invasion and to carry out a guerrilla war in occupied territories; secondly, to carry out domestic operations in case of “emergency situations”.

The military secret services’ perceptions of what constituted an “emergency” was well defined in Cold War Italy and focused on the increasing strength of the Italian Communist and the Socialist parties, both of which were tasked with weakening NATO “from within”. Felice Casson, an Italian judge who during his investigations into right-wing terrorism had first discovered the secret Gladio army and had forced Andreotti to take a stand, found that the secret army had linked up with right-wing terrorists in order to confront “emergency situations”. The terrorists, supplied by the secret army, carried out bomb attacks in public places, blamed them on the Italian left, and were thereafter protected from prosecution by the military secret service. “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game,” right-wing terrorist Vincezo Vinciguerra explained the so-called “strategy of tension” to Casson.

“The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.”

No comment from NATO or the CIA

How strongly NATO and US intelligence backed and supported the use of terror in Italy in order to discredit the political left during the Cold War remains subject of ongoing research. General Gerardo Serravalle, who had commanded the Italian Gladio secret army from 1971 to 1974, confirmed that the secret army “could pass from a defensive, post-invasion logic, to one of attack, of civil war”.

The Italian Senate chose to be more explicit and concluded in its investigation in 2000: “Those massacres, those bombs, those military actions had been organized or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence.” Ever since the discovery of the secret NATO armies in 1990, research into stay-behind armies has progressed only very slowly, due to very limited access to primary documents and the refusal of both NATO and the CIA to comment. On 5 November 1990, a NATO spokesman told an inquisitive press: “NATO has never contemplated guerrilla war or clandestine operations”.

The next day, NATO officials admitted that the previous day’s denial had been false, adding that the alliance would not comment on matters of military secrecy. On 7 November, NATO’s highest military official in Europe, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) US General John Galvin, together with NATO’s highest civilian official, Secretary-General Manfred Wörner, briefed NATO ambassadors behind closed doors. “Since this is a secret organization, I wouldn’t expect too many questions to be answered,” reasoned a senior NATO diplomat, who wished to remain unnamed. “If there were any links to terrorist organizations, that sort of information would be buried very deep indeed.” Former CIA director William Colby confirmed in his memoirs that setting up the secret armies in Western Europe had been “a major program” for the CIA. The project started after World War II in total secrecy, and access to information was limited “to the smallest possible coterie of the most reliable people, in Washington, in NATO” and in the countries concerned. Yet when in Italy in 1990 former CIA director Admiral Stansfield Turner was questioned on television on Gladio, he strictly refused to answer any questions on the sensitive issue, and as the interviewer insisted with respect for the terror victims, Stansfield angrily ripped off his microphone and shouted: “I said, no questions about Gladio!”, whereafter the interview was over.

Protest from the EU

If there had been a Soviet invasion, the secret anti-communist soldiers would have operated behind enemy lines, strengthening and setting up local resistance movements in enemy-held territory, evacuating shot down pilots, and sabotaging the supply lines and production centers of occupation forces. Upon discovery of the secret armies, the European Parliament responded with harsh criticism, suspecting it to have been involved in manipulation and terror operations. “This Europe will have no future,” Italian representative Falqui opened the debate, “if it is not founded on truth, on the full transparency of its institutions in regard to the dark plots against democracy that have turned upside down the history, even in recent times, of many European states.” Falqui insisted that “there will be no future, ladies and gentlemen, if we do not remove the idea of having lived in a kind of double state – one open and democratic, the other clandestine and reactionary. That is why we want to know what and how many “Gladio” networks there have been in recent years in the Member States of the European Community.” The majority of EU parliamentarians followed Falqui, and in a special resolution on 22 November 1990 made it clear that the EU “protests vigorously at the assumption by certain US military personnel at SHAPE and in NATO of the right to encourage the establishment in Europe of a clandestine intelligence and operation network”, calling for a “a full investigation into the nature, structure, aims, and all other aspects of these clandestine organizations or any splinter groups, their use for illegal interference in the internal political affairs of the countries concerned, and the problem of terrorism in Europe”.

Secret armies across Western Europe

Only the parliaments in Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium had formed a special commission to investigate the national secret army, and after months or even years of research, presented a public report. Building on this data and secondary sources from numerous European countries, “NATO’s Secret Armies” confirms for the first time that the secret networks spread across Western Europe, with great details on networks in Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, as well as the strategic planning of Britain and the US. The stay-behind armies were coordinated on an international level by the so-called Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) and the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), linked to NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). And they used cover names such as “Absalon” in Denmark, “P26” in Switzerland, “ROC” in Norway or “SDRA8” in Belgium. Interestingly, large differences existed from country to country. In some nations the secret armies became a source of terror, while in others they remained a prudent precaution.

In Turkey, the “Counter-Guerrilla” was involved in domestic terror and torture operations against the Kurds, while in Greece, the “LOK” took part in the 1967 military coup d’état to prevent a Socialist government. In Spain, the secret army was used to prop up the fascist dictatorship of Franco, and in Germany, right-wing terrorists used the explosives of the secret army in the 1980 terror attack in Munich. In other countries, including Denmark, Norway, and Luxemburg, the secret soldiers prepared for the eventual occupation of their home country and never engaged in domestic terror or manipulation. In the context of the ongoing so-called war on terror, the Gladio data promotes the sobering insight that governments in the West have sacrificed the life of innocent citizens and covered up acts of terrorism in order to manipulate the population.

Allegations that NATO, the Pentagon, MI6, the CIA, and European intelligence services were linked to terror, coups d’état, and torture in Europe are obviously of an extremely sensitive nature, and future research is needed in the field. In the absence of an official investigation by NATO or the EU, ongoing international research into terrorism is about to tackle this difficult task, the first step of which I hope to have promisingly taken with “NATO’s Secret Armies”.

Dr. Daniele Ganser is a Swiss historian, peace and energy researcher and the director of the Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research (SIPER). His research interests include international history from 1945 to today, secret warfare and geostrategy, intelligence services and special forces, peak oil and resource wars, globalization and human rights.

The US President was recently interviewed by the Associated Press (AP) on a number of issues including the US government shutdown and his recent discussion with Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani.

President Obama was asked about his conversation with Rouhani and how he perceives Iran’s new leadership role.  Obama said:               

Well, here’s what we know: He was not necessarily the preferred candidate of some of the ruling clerics when he initially threw his hat into the ring. He won pretty decisively.

So what we know is, is that in the Iranian population at least, there is a genuine interest in moving in a new direction. Their economy has been crippled by international sanctions that were put in place because Iran had not been following international guidelines, and had behaved in ways that made a lot of people feel they were pursuing a nuclear weapon.

I think Rouhani has staked his position on the idea that he can improve relations with the rest of the world. And so far, he’s been saying a lot of the right things. And the question now is, can he follow through? The way the Iranian system works, he’s not the only decision maker — he’s not even the ultimate decision maker.

But if in fact he is able to present a credible plan that says Iran is pursuing peaceful nuclear energy but we’re not pursuing nuclear weapons, and we are willing to be part of a internationally verified structure so that all other countries in the world know they are not pursuing nuclear weapons, then, in fact, they can improve relations, improve their economy. And we should test that.

 Obama also stated that the Iranians are a year or more away, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said Iran is now 6 months way from producing a nuclear weapon.  There are media reports that Obama and Netanyahu have a difficult relationship regarding Iran’s “alleged” nuclear weapons program.  But a recent meeting between the two confirms how much they agree on Iran.  Netanyahu and Obama met with reporters a day before Netanyahu was scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that “It is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened” according to Reuters.  The report also confirmed how Netanyahu and Obama agree on the use of force militarily:     

Even as Netanyahu called for a “credible military threat” to pressure Iran to comply, Obama insisted: “We take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran.”

The Obama administration is ignoring the facts of his own intelligence agencies who confirmed in a March 23rd, 2012 Reuters special report titled Intel shows Iran nuclear threat not imminent.’  The report stated:

 The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.

Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

 The report also said:

Reuters has learned that in late 2006 or early 2007, U.S. intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped.

 The United States and Israel will try to sabotage the upcoming talks between Iran and the US in Geneva.  In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s Worldwide Threat Assessment stated the following:

We assess Iran is developing nuclear capabilities to enhance its security, prestige, and regional influence and give it the ability to develop nuclear weapons, should a decision be made to do so. We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

 Tehran has developed technical expertise in a number of areas—including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles—from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.

Of particular note, Iran has made progress during the past year that better positions it to produce weapons-grade uranium (WGU) using its declared facilities and uranium stockpiles, should it choose to do so. Despite this progress, we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU before this activity is discovered.

We judge Iran’s nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran. Iranian leaders undoubtedly consider Iran’s security, prestige and influence, as well as the international political and security environment, when making decisions about its nuclear program. In this context, we judge that Iran is trying to balance conflicting objectives. It wants to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities and avoid severe repercussions—such as a military strike or regime threatening sanctions.

 

Back In April 2010, Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing with Defense Intelligence Agency director Ronald Burgess stated on record that “Iran’s military strategy is designed to defend against external threats, particularly from the United States and Israel” and “to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.”  Netanyahu said “Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map” Again in 2012, Burgess explained to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack.” Prime Minister Netanyahu discredit’s Iran’s leadership by saying President Rouhani is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community.”  Obama’s view on Iran’s is in line with Netanyahu’s assessment.  He told the Associated Press:

 Our assessment continues to be a year or more away. And in fact, actually, our estimate is probably more conservative than the estimates of Israeli intelligence services.

So we share a lot of intelligence with Israelis. I think Prime Minister Netanyahu understandably is very skeptical about Iran, given the threats that they’ve made repeatedly against Israel, given the aid that they’ve given to organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas that have fired rockets into Israel. If I were the Prime Minister of Israel, I would be very wary as well of any kind of talk from the Iranians.

But what I’ve said to Prime Minister Netanyahu is that the entire point of us setting up sanctions and putting pressure on the Iranian economy was to bring them to the table in a serious way to see if we can resolve this issue diplomatically. And we’ve got to test that. We’re not going to take a bad deal. We are going to make sure that we verify any agreement that we might strike.

But it is very much in not only the United States’ interest but also Israel’s interest to see if we can resolve this without some sort of military conflict. And so we now have the time to have those serious conversations, and we’ll be able to measure how serious the Iranians are.

 

Main Stream Media outlet CNN reported that Obama said that he and Netanyahu have a “good working relationship” despite past reports that their relationship was rather difficult in terms of the Iranian problem they both shared.

On Monday, Obama said he has a “good working relationship” with Netanyahu, and reaffirmed the U.S. bond with the Israeli people.  “Our unshakeable bond with the Israel people is stronger than ever,” he said. “Our commitment to Israel’s security is stronger than ever.”

Both leaders said Iran was a key topic.  “Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction, so for Israel, the ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its military nuclear program,” Netanyahu said. “That’s the bottom line.”  Obama said that if Iran wants sanctions relief, it will have to meet “the highest standards of verifications.”

 “It is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient,” Obama said on Monday. “We have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they are meeting their international obligations fully and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon.” 

Obama and Netanyahu want a war with Iran, although going to war with Syria proved to be a difficult task thanks to Russia’s efforts on preventing a devastating war.  The US and Israeli governments will try to discredit Iran’s new leader because the last obstacles to control the Middle East is Syria and Iran.  Both countries are targeted by the west, regardless of the Iranian government’s attempt at diplomacy with the West.  Israel wants to expand its power in the Middle East with US backing.  The Obama administration will make it difficult for the Iranian government to prove that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.  Israel wants war and so does the United States.  Clapper did say that “generally speaking,” the United States and Israel are “on the same page” when it comes to Iran.  That is a statement coming from an intelligence official that is proven to be a fact.  The US/Israeli Alliance is “Unshakable”, that is Obama’s repeated message to the world.  Expect the upcoming Geneva talks to hit a wall, and that wall is the US and Israeli Alliance.

Lampedusa : Di cosa l’Italia deve proprio vergognarsi

October 6th, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

Vergogna e orrore»: questi termini usa il presidente della repubblica Napolitano a proposito della tragedia di Lampedusa. Più propriamente dovrebbero essere usati per definire la politica dell’Italia nei confronti dell’Africa, in particolare della Libia da cui proveniva il barcone della morte. I governanti che oggi si battono il petto sono gli stessi che hanno contribuito a questa e ad altre tragedie dei migranti.

Prima il governo Prodi sottoscrive, il 29 dicembre 2007, l’Accordo con la Libia di Gheddafi per «il contrasto ai flussi migratori illegali». Poi, il 4 febbraio 2009, il governo Berlusconi lo perfeziona con un protocollo d’attuazione. L’accordo prevede pattugliamenti marittimi congiunti davanti alle coste libiche e la fornitura alla Libia, di concerto con l’Unione europea, di un sistema di controllo militare delle frontiere terrestri e marittime. Viene a tale scopo costituito un Comando operativo interforze italo-libico. La Libia di Gheddafi diviene così la frontiera avanzata dell’Italia e della Ue per bloccare i flussi migratori dall’Africa. Migliaia di migranti dell’Africa subsahariana, bloccati in Libia dall’accordo Roma-Tripoli, sono costretti a tornare indietro nel deserto, condannati molti a sicura morte. Senza che nessuno a Roma esprima vergogna e orrore.

Si passa quindi a una pagina ancora più vergognosa: quella della guerra contro la Libia. Per smantellare uno stato nazionale che, nonostante le ampie garanzie e aperture all’Occidente, non può essere totalmente controllato dagli Stati uniti e dalle potenze europee, mantiene il controllo delle proprie riserve energetiche concedendo alle compagnie straniere ristretti margini di profitto, investe all’estero fondi sovrani per oltre 150 miliardi di dollari, finanzia l’Unione africana perché crei suoi organismi economici indipendenti: la Banca africana di investimento, la Banca centrale africana, il Fondo monetario africano. Grazie a un attivo commerciale di 27 miliardi di dollari annui e a un reddito procapite di 13mila dollari, la Libia è prima della guerra il paese africano dove il livello di vita è più alto, nonostante le disparità, e viene lodata dalla stessa Banca mondiale per «l’uso ottimale della spesa pubblica, anche a favore degli strati sociali poveri». In questa Libia trovano lavoro circa un milione e mezzo di immigrati africani.

Quando nel marzo 2011 inizia la guerra Usa/Nato contro la Libia (con 10mila missioni di attacco aereo e forze infiltrate), il presidente Napolitano assicura che «non siamo entrati in guerra» ed Enrico Letta, vicesegretario del Pd, dichiara che «guerrafondaio è chi è contro l’intervento internazionale in Libia e non certo noi che siamo costruttori di pace». «Pace» di cui le prime vittime sono gli immigrati africani in Libia che, perseguitati, sono costretti a fuggire [1].

Solo in Niger ne rientrano nei primi mesi 200-250mila, perdendo la fonte di sostentamento che manteneva milioni di persone. Molti, spinti dalla disperazione, tentano la traversata del Mediterraneo verso l’Europa. Quelli che vi perdono la vita sono anch’essi vittime della guerra voluta dai capi dell’Occidente. Gli stessi governanti che alimentano ora la guerra in Siria, che ha già provocato oltre 2 milioni di profughi. Molti dei quali già tentano la traversata del Mediterraneo. Se anche il loro barcone affonda, c’è sempre un Letta pronto a proclamare il lutto nazionale.

“Project Censored educates students and the public about the importance of a truly free press for democratic self-government.  We expose and oppose news censorship and we promote independent investigative journalism, media literacy, and critical thinking.

The growth of independent media and journalism in recent years shows that people throughout the world yearn to hold not only their leaders accountable, but their media sources as well. For that reason, the Project Censored research program continues, in its small way, to support and highlight those who tell the truth about the powerful (no matter the consequences) and are relentless in their quest to hold Big Media accountable for their decisions”.

The Project Censored Award is granted to the authors of news stories which are censored or excluded from the mainstream media. Global Research from the outset has supported the endeavors of the Project Censored Team.

This year, five Global Research authors are the recipients of the 2012-2013 Project Censored Award.  Global Research is indebted to these distinguished authors for their outstanding contributions.

The Project Censored award was granted to:

Kevin Zeese for his contribution to the debate on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Ellen Brown for her analysis of how bank interest leads to hikes in the prices of consumer goods, James Tracy  on the detrimental impacts of wireless technology on the health of Americans. Cassandra Anderson and Anthony Gucciardi on the insidious role of Monsanto.

Kevin Zeese: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens a Regime of Corporate Global Governance

The Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP branded as a trade agreement and negotiated in unprecedented secrecy is actually an enforceable transfer of sovereignty from nations and their people to foreign corporations…Continue Reading…
.
Ellen Brown: Bank Interests Inflate Global Prices by 35 to 40 Percent
A stunning thirty-five to forty percent of everything we buy goes to interest…Continue Reading…
.
Prof James Tracy: Wireless Technology a Looming Health Crisis
As a multitude of hazardous wireless technologies are deployed in homes schools and workplaces government officials and industry representatives continue to insist on their safety despite growing evidence to the contrary…Continue Reading…

Cassandra Anderson and Anthony Gucciardi: Did Monsanto Plant GMOs Before USDA Approval?

Monsanto introduced genetically modified alfalfa in a full two years before it was deregulated according to recently released evidence…Continue Reading…

 


Below is the complete list of Project Censored awards

Top 25 Censored Stories from 2012-2013

25. Israel Gave Birth Control to Ethiopian Immigrants Without Their Consent

 In January Israel acknowledged that medical authorities have been giving Ethiopian immigrants long-term birth-control injections often without their knowledge or consent…

24. Widespread GMO Contamination: Did Monsanto Plant GMOs Before USDA Approval?

Monsanto introduced genetically modified alfalfa in a full two years before it was deregulated according to recently released evidence…

23. Transaction Tax Helps Civilize Wall Street and Lower the National Debt

In February United States senators Tom Harkin D-Iowa and Peter DeFazio D-Oregon introduced a bill to implement a new tax of three basis points that is three pennies for every hundred dollars on most nonconsumer stock trades…

22. Pennsylvania Law Gags Doctors to Protect Big Oil’s “Proprietary Secrets”

In communities affected by hydraulic fracturing or fracking people understand that this process of drilling for natural gases puts the environment and their health at risk…

21. Monsanto and India’s “Suicide Economy”

Monsanto has a long history of contamination and cover-up and in India another Monsanto cover-up is ongoing…

20. Israel Counted Minimum Calorie Needs in Gaza Blockade

Declassified documents reveal that the Israeli military calculated how many calories a typical Gazan would need to survive in order to determine how much food to supply the Gaza Strip during the blockade…

19. The Power of Peaceful Revolution in Iceland

After privatization of the national banking sector private bankers borrowed billions of dollars or ten times the size of Iceland s economy creating a huge economic bubble that doubled housing prices and made a small percentage of the population exceedingly wealthy…

18. Fracking Our Food Supply

The effects of hydraulic fracturing or fracking on food supply and the environment are slowly emerging…

17. The Creative Commons Celebrates Ten Years of Sharing and Cultural Creation

Creative Commons CC is celebrating ten years of helping writers artists technologists and other creators share their knowledge and creativity with the world…

16. Journalism Under Attack Around the Globe

Journalists are increasingly at risk of being killed or imprisoned for doing their jobs a situation that imperils press freedom…

15. Food Riots: The New Normal?

Reduced land productivity combined with elevated oil costs and population growth threaten a systemic global food crisis…

14. Wireless Technology a Looming Health Crisis

As a multitude of hazardous wireless technologies are deployed in homes schools and workplaces government officials and industry representatives continue to insist on their safety despite growing evidence to the contrary…

13. A Fifth of Americans Go Hungry

An August Gallup poll showed that percent of Americans lacked sufficient money for needed food at least once over the previous year…

12. The US Has Left Iraq with an Epidemic of Cancers and Birth Defects

High levels of lead mercury and depleted uranium are believed to be causing birth defects miscarriages and cancer for people living in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Fallujah…

11. Bush Blocked Iran Nuclear Deal

According to a former top Iranian negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian in Iran offered a deal to the United States France Germany and the United Kingdom that would have made it impossible for Iran to build nuclear weapons…

10. A “Culture of Cruelty” along Mexico–US Border

Migrants crossing the Mexico US border not only face dangers posed by an unforgiving desert but also abuse at the hands of the US Border Patrol…

9. Icelanders Vote to Include Commons in Their Constitution

In October Icelanders voted in an advisory referendum regarding six proposed policy changes to the Constitution…

8. Bank Interests Inflate Global Prices by 35 to 40 Percent

A stunning thirty-five to forty percent of everything we buy goes to interest…

7. Merchants of Death and Nuclear Weapons

The Physicians for Social Responsibility released a study estimating that one billion people one-seventh of the human race could starve over the decade following a single nuclear detonation…

6. Billionaires’ Rising Wealth Intensifies Poverty and Inequality

As a direct result of existing financial policies the world s one hundred richest people grew to be billion richer in…

5. Hate Groups and Antigovernment Groups on Rise across US

The Southern Poverty Law Center SPLC which monitors hate groups and antigovernment groups released a report showing that radical antigovernment patriot groups and militias actively operate within the United States…

4. Obama’s War on Whistleblowers

Obama signed both the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act expanding whistleblower protections in November and the National Defense Authorization Act NDAA furthering these protections in January…

3. Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens a Regime of Corporate Global Governance

The Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP branded as a trade agreement and negotiated in unprecedented secrecy is actually an enforceable transfer of sovereignty from nations and their people to foreign corporations…

2. Richest Global 1 Percent Hide Trillions in Tax Havens

The global percent hold twenty-one to thirty-two trillion dollars in offshore havens in order to evade taxes according to James S Henry the former chief economist at the global management consulting firm McKinsey Company…

1. Bradley Manning and the Failure of Corporate Media

In February United States military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning confessed in court to providing vast archives of military and diplomatic files to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks saying he wanted the information to become public to make the world a better place and that he hoped to spark a domestic debate on the role of the military in US foreign policy…Continue Reading…

The war criminals of Congress are protected by the ignorance of the public.

As Americans waste time watching their favorite sports teams compete with one another and remain spellbound, the youth of the nation is corrupted with Miley Cyrus while the American corporate military occupies over 130 nations in nearly 1000 war system bases that facilitate the slaughter of millions of people on the command of an imperial executive.

Congressmen, the lawmakers who have the power to reign in the war making executive, are complicit war criminals themselves and are supported by the military industrial complex weapons industry that supplies the generals, the soldiers, the Special Forces, the mercenaries and the killer team CIA. Congress is an appendage of America’s right-wing killing machine that must remain sacrosanct in this system of militarized violence that continues its killing spree, globally.

Congressmen interests are funded by their war criminal industrial machine masters, Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon to continue making drones, missiles, aircraft and bombs and to control Caspian Basin oil in Afghanistan to reserve a never ending supply of oil for the military that plans to wage war forever.

Society is under corporate technological militarized control and surveillance. How can any genuine massive civil-disturbance protest against militarization, standing armies and the war economy occur within the United States whether on college campuses or anywhere when every waking moment individuals are attached to machines such as I-Phones, I-Pads, headphones, that function as  time eating, attention stealing devices deliberately designed to infest their minds with corporate military commercialized brainwash and stifle and kill free thought as a form of pacification and electronic soft counter-insurgency against genuine antiwar anti-militarized sentiment?

The manufactured terrorism threat functions symbiotically with mass consumerism and structured life as people plug in and tune out or remain ignorant of corporate military imperial violence documented in history and investigative journalism books that is the real terrorism waged by the Pentagon and CIA.

What does it say about the indoctrination level of U.S. society when the vast majority of its citizens have no idea that their nation is an empire and that their government has a militarized presence around the world and that flat-screen televisions are situated in every restaurant, mall, store or other public gathering place blaring the familiarized mind-numbing war propaganda of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, football, tools of murder treated as spectacle through the coordinated propaganda of jet-takeoffs over football fields, or worse, the commercialized and morally decadent adjunct of the Pentagon that has historically amplified and churned out a readily available supply of both state war and police state propaganda–Hollywood “entertainment,” no doubt responsible for the recruitment of thousands upon thousands of now dead and maimed men and women killed in greedy wars for profit and glory of government officials and will continue to do so as long as a permanent institutionalized war system run by the Pentagon remains in place.

Civilian federal workers are forced to take a furlough but the Pentagon-NSA-CIA war machine remains in full operation against manufactured enemies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and conducts surveillance against the domestic U.S. public while U.S. war threats abound against Iran over nuclear weapons they don’t even have.

When individuals have no idea what a SOCOM, CENTCOM, a NORTHCOM, and SOUTHCOM, is, but they are academics working at universities, dentists, mechanics, laborers in general–living in a world of delusion and social control and not understanding the violence of imperial corporate war factory military bombs and missiles deliberately targeting innocent civilians and infrastructure and blowing people away because of the deliberate systematic information control and diversion of the ideological system this means America has gone insane drinking the poison of violence commercialization and war and remains suspended in this narcosis even if another slaughter is temporarily suspended.

Routine slaughter continues unabated via deliberate drone attacks on civilians, including CIA murder in Pakistan, Somalia, Philippines, counterinsurgency JSOC jackboot door-to-door murder in Afghanistan, and CIA-funded cutthroat mercenaries in Syria. Killer Special Forces teams are stationed in 120 nations including the latest area of imperial expansion, Africom.

War is permanent. Taliban resisting U.S. occupation are retina scanned to feed their identities into massive U.S. imperial military surveillance databases as were Iraqis, Yemenis and now Somalis.

Understanding the problem doesn’t necessarily necessitate having the solution. The structural controls are so daunting that the false consciousness of the majority of the population cannot perceive the mass societal manipulation. They don’t see the dead bodies piled up by the CIA, U.S. Army, Marines, private mercenaries and JSOC nor do they see the millions killed in Iraq from 1991 during the Bagdhad Amman Highway of death U.S. air hunt of fleeing Iraqi civilians or the present day sectarian warfare slaughter caused by the brutal U.S. occupation.

War and corporate militarism death and destruction eat out the substance of the land. The U.S. is the greatest war criminal nation on the planet, laden with atrocities, from 3 million murdered with agent orange defoliants and counterinsurgency in Indochina, 80,000 dead in El Salvador, a counterinsurgency bloodbath Guatemala in the 1980′s that took up to 60,000 lives, hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq due to infrastructure bombing and a sanctions campaign in 1991, followed by the U.S. criminal invasion and bombing of that nation in 2003.

The majority of the population doesn’t know about the U.S. use of Salvadoran and Guatemalan secret police advised by CIA and the formulation of death squads where CIA installs the dictatorships, then supplies the bullets and the guns for the police constabularies and elite, rich property owning death squad mercenaries to root out communist subversion wherever it lurks its head as these militarized corporate counterinsurgency then go to work against dissident populist movements.

They don’t know about the torture, assassination, bugging, spying, training in secret police methods, infiltrating dissident groups, training in mercenary warfare and sending arms to criminal elements to slaughter U.S. Pentagon and CIA “enemies,” including 40,000 Vietnamese revolutionaries during Operation Phoenix, thousands upon thousands of Nicaraguans murdered under the U.S. military trained Somoza national guard and during the Contra War against peasant farming cooperatives in which 10,000 Nicaraguan civilians were murdered, raped, bombed and mutilated by CIA trained and supplied right-wing exile guerilla insurgents.

All of these crimes were waged and continue indefinitely without a declaration of war against a state by the U.S. Congress in violation of Article I Section 8 as does the inhumane, racist and unconstitutional torture and forced feeding of emaciated Guantanamo and Bagram concentration camp detainees held indefinitely as the U.S continues its corporate war military slaughter across the globe.

This is a conspiracy that separates the powers that be from the rest of the people. If only they knew and were awakened perhaps this cognitively disturbing information would spark the indignation of the depoliticized, indignified American masses whose tax dollars pay for slaughter.

Death and destruction abounds in a fake oligarchic domestic social control system and fake elections penetrate the mass mind with propaganda, lies, distortion mentally deranged control and simulated manipulation through the television screen while bombs and missiles obliterate civilians, including children and captives of the U.S. military detention system are continuously tortured. Congress is too bloodstained with their own war crimes and loaded with buy-offs from the armaments industry to ever stop the killing.

This truth is too hard for many “proud” Americans to swallow, but black operation foreign policy is the rule of the day. Individuals are slaughtered via U.S. CIA-military interventions into their country to control the development of their economies and their land, resources, labor, utilities and other infrastructure that is bought up by foreign multinational corporations. This is why the U.S. never leaves Afghanistan. The CIA and military are waging a permanent psychological warfare counterinsurgency campaign, including assassination, bombing, and torture to keep the Afghan population from defecting to the Taliban so that U.S. imperialism can continue its Caspian Oil dominance. It’s not now and never was about pursuing the perpetrators of 911 who died on an airplane and were Saudis, Yemenis and U.A.E. citizens. Thousands upon thousands of Guatemalans and Salvadorans have starved due to counterinsurgency policies which facilitated the export of bananas, beef and coffee to North America while land for the growth of maize for domestic consumption was denied by the U.S. suppressive violence of the allied oligarchical elite working with the CIA, the Pentagon and the U.S. embassy.

The CIA imparted the Greek KYP intelligence service with torture, assassination techniques, bugging equipment, spying techniques and training this secret police agency to torture and murder the political left in Greece and the CIA conspired with the Greek military and KYP chief George Papadopoulos to oust Andreas Papandreou, after this prime minister objected to CIA-KYP spying on his ministerial conversations, in a coup to facilitate the continued massive stationing of U.S. military/NATO nuclear weapons bases, military bases housing war mobilized American soldiers and other infrastructure of the imperial NATO capitalist imperialist war machine.

U.S. military allowed Joint US Military Advisory Group to serve as a front, cross-pollination cover for CIA combat psywar expert Edward Lansdale whose CIA psywar squad collaboration with Philippine military, wealthy landowner goon squads and police lead to the slaughter of the Philippine Huks to maintain 23 U.S. military bases in the Philippines and reinforce a U.S. Philippine trade agreement allowing foreign interests parity in the development of Philippine resources.

This policy drove the peasants and farmers off their land for the U.S. and European sugar interests and decimated the Philippine farmer population, allowing the U.S. a stationing area for the criminal bombing of Vietnam where anticolonial Vietnamese resisting this slaughter and occupation were tortured and locked in small, crippling stone boxes known as Tiger Cages and Philippine troops participated with U.S. military in slaughtering the Vietcong.

This slave factory war machine run by war mongers obliterates nations with evil criminality all over the world. Just because the media is blacking it out doesn’t mean it’s not occurring—right now, don’t be fooled. Don’t expect congressional war criminals to bring justice to those slaughtered by the U.S. imperial massacre war machine. Under the War Crimes Act of 1996—passed by the United States Congress and signed by Bill Clinton, a war crime is “a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.”

The U.S. congress relinquished their war authority to George Bush and Dick Cheney who proceeded to carry out aggressive war for natural resources and presided over a network of torture bases that included Syria and Libya, where Assad and Gaddafi helped Bush torture Arabs in dungeons, not to mention grotesque torture that still exists and has devolved into force-feeding emaciated prisoners in Guantanamo. Article 6 of the U.S. constitution says that all ratified treaties are law of the land and the U.S. ratified article 3 of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, which prohibits torture of detainees “taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms.”

Many people rounded up for bounty by the U.S. military and Northern Alliance in Afghanistan didn’t even have weapons, and individuals snatched and grabbed under the Bush administration extra-ordinary rendition system surely didn’t have weapons, yet all of these people have suffered torture.

The U.S. Congress has violated its own Constitution, passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 suspending Posse Comitatus and gave the military the authority to arrest and detain Americans on U.S soil. They cannot be trusted to turn themselves in for war crimes or for violations of the U.S. Constitution.

William C. Lewis is a journalist, researcher and book collector from Washington State. He can be reached at [email protected]

William blogs at http://politicalaffairs.weebly.com/

Police in America: “Licensed to Kill”

October 6th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Miriam Carey is the latest victim. She deserved to live, not die. More on her below.

Incidents occur daily across America. Blacks and Latinos are most vulnerable. Police shoot innocent suspects for any reason or none all.

Rarely are officers or their superiors held accountable. On average, US police kill one or two people daily. Most often, incidents go unnoticed.

Violence in America is systemic. Previous articles discussed it. America glorifies wars. It does so in the name of peace.

It has by far the highest homicide rate among all developed nations. It’s obsessed with owning guns.

Violent films are some of the most popular. So are similar video games. Peace, stability and security are convenient illusions. Imperial wars and domestic violence crowd them out.

Communities, neighborhoods, schools, work places, commercial areas and city streets are affected. Driving while black is dangerous.

A 1999 ACLU report discussed it. Titled “Driving While Black: Racial Profiling On Our Nation’s Highways,” it said:

It’s longstanding practice in America. In 1967, dozens of witnesses told Kerner Commission members that “stopping of Negroes on foot or in cars without obvious basis” was a key reason for riots the previous summer in cities across America.

The Fourth Amendment assures “(t)he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The Eight Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.”

What’s crueler than state-sponsored cold-blooded murder.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits “depriv(ing) (anyone) of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The 14th Amendment forbids states from “depriv(ing) any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It affirms “equal protection of the laws.”

Police across America spurn constitutional and US statute laws. They do so with impunity. According to ACLU:

“No person of color is safe from (mis)treatment anywhere, regardless of their obedience to the law, their age, the type of car they drive, or their station in life.”

“In short, skin color has become evidence of the propensity to commit crime, and police use this ‘evidence’ against minority drivers on the road all the time.”

“This vicious cycle carries with it profound personal and societal costs.”

“It is both symptomatic and symbolic of larger problems at the intersection of race and the criminal justice system.”

“It results in the persecution of innocent people based on their skin color.”

“It has a corrosive effect on the legitimacy of the entire justice system.”

It’s worse than that. Blacks and other people of color risk death at the hands of out-of-control cops. They’re licensed to kill. They murder with impunity.

Overwhelming evidence proves it. In 2010, Injustice Everywhere (IE) published a National Police Misconduct Statistical Report.

It found thousands of instances of police misconduct. Hundreds of civilian deaths followed. When officers are held accountable, most often discipline imposed is mild.

Criminal justice in America is systemically unfair. Victims are cheated. A previous article discussed Trayvon Martin’s murder.

It asked when is killing a non-threatening, unarmed teenager not murder? It’s when Jim Crow justice trumps fundamental civil rights.

It’s when victims are black. It’s when killing them is OK when whites do it.

It’s when institutionalized racism threatens all people of color. It’s when longstanding practice turns a blind eye to killing them.

It’s when cops are licensed to kill. On October 3, Washington, DC police gunned down Miriam Carey. They did so in cold blood. They did it willfully.

Doing so reflects epidemic levels of state-sponsored violence across America. Cops call killing non-threatening civilians “justifiable homicides.”

Unarmed Blacks and Latinos are victimized. Post-9/11, police have increasingly been militarized.

It’s justified on the pretext of waging war on terror. Mariam Carey was a 34-year old Stamford, CT dental hygienist. Previously she lived in Brooklyn.

 She was unarmed. Capitol police killed her after a car chase. Reportedly she tried breaching a White House security barrier. Police banged on her car window. They ordered her to stop.

She appeared to back up into a police vehicle. She fled. She did so after cops opened fire. Capitol police and Secret Service officers gave chase.

 They fired multiple times at her vehicle. Why on busy DC streets? Why when backup units could have blocked her safely?

 Why wasn’t she taken alive, detained and questioned? Why do cops routinely shoot first? Why are they allowed to get away with it?

 Things ended violently near the US Capitol. Miriam’s car crashed. She got out. She was clearly unarmed. She was non-threatening.

 Cops shot her to death. They riddled her body with bullets. Doing so was cold-blooded murder. Bystanders nearby could have been harmed.

 Miriam had her one-year daughter with her when she was killed.

 Family members said she suffered from postpartum depression. The Mayo Clinic says many new mothers experience the “baby blues” after childbirth.

Mood swings and crying spells follow. Usually they fade quickly. Sometimes they last longer. The behavioral pattern isn’t a character flaw or weakness.

Change of life at times affects people this way. Some need more time than others to adjust. Given today’s dire economic conditions, doing so is harder than during more normal times.

 Mariam’s sisters want answers. Amy Carey-Jones said there should’ve been “another way instead of shooting and killing” her.

 Valerie Carey said she “didn’t deserve to have her life cut down” this way.

Her mother, Idella, said she had no history of violence. She threatened no one.

 Mariam’s friends, neighbors and associates were shocked.

 Next door neighbor Erin Jackson said she doted on her daughter, Erica. She often took her on picnics.

“She was pleasant. She seemed very happy with her daughter, very proud of her.”

 Former Brooklyn neighbor, Jeff Newsome, said he was shocked to hear what happened.

 ”I would have never, never thought that she would do something like this. I can’t believe it.”

Angela Windley was a former high school classmate. She remained a close friend. She was “floored and sad,” she said.

 Mariam “was just a very sweet person, very determined and driven in order to get out of the neighborhood and do better for herself,” she added.

 ”She wasn’t violent or anything like that. I looked up to her a little bit. She was kind of like a big sister.”

According to psychiatrist Ariela Frieder:

“If it’s just a case of postpartum depression, you usually don’t see people hurting others or getting aggressive.”

Mariam worked for periodontist Barry Weiss. She was fired, he said, about a year ago. He wouldn’t say why.

He did say a head injury requiring hospitalization prevented her from working for a time. Several weeks after returning, she was fired.

It’s unknown why she tried breaching a White House security barrier. She turned her car around to flee. Cops opened fire. Doing so, of course, terrified her.

She likely panicked. She sped off. She wanted to get away safely. She wanted to protect her daughter.

Being shot at is terrifying. So is being chased by armed cops and Secret Service agents. She didn’t threaten them. She deserved to live, not die.

According to Dr. Mark Mason:

 ”Given the fact that we have an unarmed female, the police have come forward to say she was unarmed.”

 ”There was an infant in the car. There was no gunfire of any kind that came from the car at any time.”

 ”A lot of questions need to be asked. The police in Washington DC way-way overreacted.”

“There are alternatives to respond to situations short of deadly force.”

She could have been stopped by blocking city streets or shooting out her tires. Failure to do so shows the mentality of trigger-happy cops in America today.

It bears repeating. They kill one to two civilians in America daily. They do it willfully and maliciously. Most victims are unarmed. Most committed no crimes.

Most are Blacks or Latinos. Cops shoot first. They ask questions later. Their answers don’t wash.

Militarized America leaves no one safe. Trayvon Martin, Mariam Carey, and countless others like them learned the hard way.

Their deaths reflect a national sickness. It’s a national addiction. Violent cultures operate this way. Among all developed countries, America’s by far the worst.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/police-america-licensed-kill/

This latest plot to destabilise Iran’s civilian nuclear power industry comes on the heals of a recent foreign intelligence operation to eliminate Iranian nuclear scientists.

Three Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in mysterious explosions over the past three years, and a fourth survived additional assassination attempt.

In addition to this, the US and Israel orchestrated a highly risky Stuxnet cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facility systems in 2010 – an operation which arguable put millions of innocent lives at risk.  US General James Cartwright (photo, right), became the high-ranking, high-profile whistleblower in the history of the United States this year, for exposing the US-Israeli Stuxnet and Flame virus program to the New York Times. His reward from the Obama administration was to be indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act.

This past Friday President Obama told the media that while Rouhani was saying “all the right things”, meanwhile Israeli leader Benyamin Netanyahu is actively leading a public, and private effort to undermine any chance of a diplomatic solution with Iran.

21WIRE’s Andrew McKillop explains the obvious antagonistic, under the table agenda – and the hypocrisy, which Israel is running regarding their propaganda campaign to demonise Iran:

“In a vintage performance at the UN General Assembly, October 1st, Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu castigated the Obama outreach strategy to Tehran, telling world leaders that Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. He claims that this he bazaar-wise Tehran dealer is even more dangerous than the last one – a Muslim (if not Arab) street-credible menace, who according to Netanyahu is determined to use Obama’s naïve and dangerous thawing of relations to craftily advance his country’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

Israel, weapons analysts estimate, already has a fully functional nuclear arsenal including at least 80 warheads of the explosive power used against Hiroshima, of around 13 – 16 kilotons TNT equivalent, each.”

Obama has always had difficulty following through with any of his rhetoric, so no one is expecting the President to go the distance with diplomacy with Iran. More than likely, his peaceful overtures are part of a White House PR rear-guard action to save the President from a public opinion free fall in approval ratings. When push comes to shove and Israel engages in pre-emptive aggression towards Iran, it’s all but certain that Washington’s diplomatic facade will fold in favour of the powerful Israeli lobby who ultimately dictate Washington’s foreign policy agendas.

This latest sabotage effort seems intent on derailing peaceful efforts between the West and Iran.

RT reports…

The Iranian authorities have arrested four men for planning to sabotage nuclear sites, reports state news. The announcement comes as Iran’s newly-appointed president takes steps to allay fears over its supposed nuclear weapons program.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced on Sunday that a“number of saboteurs” had been caught “red-handed” before they could carry out their plan.


IMAGE: The reactor building of Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (photo: Iranian Students News Agency – ISNA).

“Four of these individuals were caught red-handed and their interrogations are ongoing,” he said, according to the Mehr news agency on Sunday. Salehi did not elaborate on any of the details of the alleged plot to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities and did not specify the nuclear sites that were targeted.

He added that the suspects were now being interrogated by Iranian authorities.

Iran has accused the West on a number of occasions of sabotaging its nuclear program. In the past Tehran has slammed the US and Israel for orchestrating the Stuxnet cyberattack on nuclear facility systems in 2010. Iran has also claimed the West is behind the assassination of its nuclear scientists.

The arrest of the suspected saboteurs comes as the Iranian government takes steps to dispel western fears over its nuclear program. The West believes that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, something that the country’s leadership has consistently denied, maintaining its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

New to office, President Hassan Rouhani has reached out to Washington in a move to restart negotiations over Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program.

Rouhani spoke to President Barack Obama last week in a telephone call, which marked the first talks between US and Iranian leaders in over three decades.

As it stands President Rouhani is set to meet with leaders from the UK, Germany, France, Russia and China in Geneva in mid-October in landmark negotiations. Iran’s new moderate leadership wants to lift the crippling economic sanctions implemented against Tehran by Washington with a view to curtailing the Iranian nuclear program.

Tehran has said that the international community must come up with new conditions before the negotiations in Geneva. Currently, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – plus Germany demand that Iran cease enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent. In addition, they have asked Tehran to ship out some uranium stockpiles.

Iran’s new stance on the nuclear issue has been hailed by world leaders as a step in the right direction and a possible end to the diplomatic stalemate.

‘Iran is one year away from nuclear armament’

However, Washington has voiced skepticism over Tehran’s motives. On Friday Obama told press that while Rouhani was saying “all the right things,” it remains to be seen whether or not he will follow through with his pledges. In addition, Obama stated that Iran is one year away from developing a nuclear weapon, citing US intelligence sources.

Israel, on the other hand, claims that Tehran’s wish to negotiate is merely a ruse and Iran is months away from developing its nuclear capabilities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Israel will move to strike Iranian nuclear facilities if Tehran does not cease its alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.

On Tuesday Netanyahu urged the UN General Assembly not to be fooled by Iran, stressing that Israeli was ready to “stand alone” against the country it has branded an enemy of the state.

“Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community,” said Netanyahu. He appealed to the international community to keep the financial penalties against Tehran in place. http://rt.com/news/iran-arrested-nuclear-sabotage-800/

NATO-Russian Co-operation on Syria Chemical Weapons?

October 6th, 2013 by Global Research News

 Dr Ian Davis of NATO Watch sends news of today’s report in the Journal of Turkish Weekly suggesting that NATO and Russia have agreed to cooperate to facilitate Syria chemical disarmament.

Russia and NATO have agreed to fund and provide technical assistance to the operation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to bring about the chemical disarmament of Syria.

Emerging from an Ambassador-level session of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels Friday, Russian Ambassador Alexander Grushko said ‘the sides have agreed to pull off the task in strict keeping with Resolution 2118 of the UN Security Council and the subsequent resolution of the OPCW.’ They had also agreed that the Syrian crisis can only be settled politically, through an all-embracing second Geneva conference on Syria, which should bring the Syrian government together with all rebel groups.

Grushko also said that the Russian side ‘has reminded NATO that it is vitally important to adhere to the UN ruling to deny support in whatever form to non-governmental Syrian groups that go for acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

He warned that support of this kind would blow in the sails of Jihadist groups including Al Qaeda that pursue Islamic rule in Syria and the rest of the Middle East.

This is exactly what Dr Davis and Andreas Persbo, Executive Director of VERTIC, called for in an opinion piece published on 13 September, which was read by a senior NATO official, who responded favourably in a private email on 17th September.

Dr Davis adds, “As far we can ascertain, no one else was calling for such a strategic alignment and our efforts to place the article in both The Guardian and New York Times fell on deaf ears”.

The news is not yet to be seen in the Western Press, but was announced yesterday in some detail by the Voice of Russia and the day before in its Indian edition.

Russia and NATO have agreed to fund and provide technical assistance to the chemical weapon disarmament process in Syria being conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW at an Ambassador-level session of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on Friday.

Disarmament personnel are expected to begin travelling to chemical-weapon facilities to disable equipment next week, according to an OPCW press release. Dr Davis ends:

As we said in our earlier article, this cooperation could be a potential game changer. Not only does this agreement offer a tentative route map out of the mess in Syria but also a broader strategic, normative and political rapprochement between NATO and Russia, as well as a re-invigorated United Nations. We await further details of the NATO-Russia agreement with interest”.

 NATO Watch: Promoting a more transparent and accountable NATO

by Carl Messineo

General Michael Hayden, the former Director of the NSA and CIA, in a thinly veiled comment suggested today that whistleblower Ed Snowden should be assassinated by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Snowden is on a short list of candidates for a European Human Rights award.

Hayden told a Washington Post forum: “I’d also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden, but it was for a different list.”

Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden

..

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee immediately signaled his support for Gen. Hayden’s suggestion that Snowden be put on a U.S. kill list. “I can help you with that,” Rogers said.

Gen. Hayden was the Director of the NSA and the architect of George W. Bush’s secret domestic spying program. In 2006 he became Bush’s CIA Director.

In recent years it has become public knowledge that the U.S. has “kill lists” and the President signs off at weekly sessions on those who will be targeted for assassination.

This is shameful, offensive, and should be condemned by all. Given that the U.S. government arrogates to itself the power to carry out illegal extrajudicial killings, the fact that these officials feel they can so casually boast and threaten to kill a whistleblower makes plain that they are unfit to hold any positions of authority.

We must all stand with courageous Edward Snowden, just as activists with the ThankYouEdSnowden.org campaign did yesterday by protesting during the Senate Judiciary hearing appearance of James Clapper and Keith Alexander. Click here to see the photos from the protest inside the hearing.

Netanyahu’s Magnum Opus: a Suicidal Speech to the UN

October 6th, 2013 by Kourosh Ziabari

After delivering that ludicrous speech to the UN and displaying the childish cartoon of a bomb with a fuse to the world leaders in 2012, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again made himself a laughing stock by parroting nonsensical, hallucinatory words about Iran’s nuclear program and its newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani in the 68th session of the UN General Assembly.

Bibi Netanyahu described Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and dedicated almost all his unfruitful and boring speech to the statements made by President Rouhani in his address to the UN General Assembly’s General Debate. One may think that the Israeli hawk had prepared nothing to say before coming to New York and was just monitoring the Iranian president’s lecture and concocting responses to it.

Netanyahu claimed that in the past three years, Iran has perpetrated or ordered terrorist attacks on five continents! Nobody was there to challenge this lunatic man and ask him to present evidence for his allegations. The irony is that since the inauspicious birth of the Israeli regime in 1948, thousands of Palestinians have been murdered by this killer state, and yet its prime minister claims that Iran is a supporter of terrorism.

According to the ICT Middleastern Conflict Statistics Project, only in the Second Intifada which started on September 28, 2000 and lasted until February 8, 2005, more than 13,000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli forces. Israel is getting away with these crimes against humanity, but who can imagine that Iran would have been treated in the same way if it had ever murdered not 13,000, but simply 13 civilians in one of its neighboring countries in the daylight?

Again, in what the Israelis call Operation Cast Lead, that is the 2008-2009 Gaza Massacre, Israel killed 1,417 citizens of the Gaza Strip which it had invaded for many years.

 These barbaric killings have raised no eyebrows in the UN and other international organizations, giving more courage and audacity to Israel to practice lawlessness and enjoy immunity to the internationally recognized regulations and conventions and projecting its own criminal actions on the others. That is what has emboldened Netanyahu to the extent that he now accuses the most pacifist nation of the region, Iran, of spreading violence and terror.

 According to Netanyahu, President Rouhani had called on nations to “join his wave against violence and extremism, but the only waves Iran had generated in the last 30 years were the waves of violence and terrorism it had unleashed in the region and across the world. I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts its President’s soothing rhetoric.”

 However, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif whose first appearance in the UN as Iran’s top diplomat – he had previously served as Iran’s permanent representative to the UN for several years – was a brilliant and dazzling performance described Netanyahu’s position in the world with the best words: “Netanyahu is the most isolated individual in the United Nations.”

 Zarif who has met more than 30 foreign ministers from the five continents on the sidelines of the General Assembly smartly revealed the futility and uselessness of Netanyahu’s remarks and underlined the fact that Israel is now more isolated than ever as Iran is approaching the world powers, rebuilding its foreign relations and improving its international stature; something which causes hysteria and turmoil in Israel’s political establishment that is predicated on fear-mongering, warmongering and causing troubles to others.

 It’s an irrefutable reality that Israel’s survival is hinged on an imaginary threat that can buy Tel Aviv sympathy and commiseration. This is what Israel has helped Israel through more than six decades to assure its survival. Now that the conciliatory tone of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has convinced the world that Iran poses no threat to any nation and that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, Israel is feeling that it’s being left with no such an existential threat which can produce an artificial and fake security for it.

 FM Zarif wisely pointed out that through the past 22 years, Israel has been constantly warning that Iran would be producing a nuclear weapon within six months, but that six-month deadline has never arrived and this clearly attests to the Israeli panic about a misperceived Iranian threat Israel has always bragged about.

An Israeli expert once revealed this hidden truth to Trita Parsi: “you have to recognize that we Israelis need an existential threat. It is part of the way we view the world. If we can find more than one, that would be preferable, but we will settle for one.”

 The improvement of Iran’s relations with the world countries, and in particular with the United States is something which ruffles Israel’s feathers. Israel benefits from the continuation of hostility between Iran and the U.S., and now that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken up détente and reconciliation with the West and the United States, Israel finds itself a loser of this bargain.

Even Jonathan Marcus, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent has acknowledged that Iran-U.S. rapprochement will challenge Israel and its regional hegemony. Alluding to the momentous phone conversation between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his American counterpart Barack Obama which has caused a wave of euphoria and enthusiasm in the world, Marcus noted that the success of Iran’s charm offensive at the UN has caught Israel unawares and angered Bibi Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s comments that Iran’s overtures to the West are not reliable and genuine seem to have few supporters, even among the American officials who think it’s more logical and reasonable to give diplomacy with Iran time to work.

According to Wendy R. Sherman, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and chief nuclear negotiator in the previous talks with Iran, the Congress should give the administration more time to pursue the diplomatic track with the Islamic Republic before further decisions on sanctions are made. Sherman who is very close to the Israeli government, tried to appease her friends in Tel Aviv by telling the Congress that Israel’s security remains a “paramount concern” for the United States, but she couldn’t hide her willingness  for testing diplomacy with Iran, something which Israel strongly disfavors.

More importantly, the Secretary of State John Kerry himself believes that depriving Washington and Tehran and the whole international community of the chance of finding a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff is a “malpractice.” In a meeting with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo, John Kerry said it would be a “diplomatic malpractice of the worst order” not to test Iran’s willingness to comply with international demands over its nuclear program.

Albeit these remarks by the American officials are made in the wake of aggressive pressures by Israel and the Zionist lobby in the United States that are pulling out all the stops to prevent an agreement between Iran and the world powers to bring the nuclear stalemate at the end, so it’s not surprising that an essence of conservatism and self-restraint can be found in their statements. The American and European media have greater freedoms in expressing their excitement at the Iran-U.S. rapprochement and the possibility of a nuclear deal between them which Iranian president has predicted can be achieved in 6 to 12 months.

In the recent days, American news agencies, newspapers, TV and radio stations have widely given coverage to President Rouhani’s speech to the UN and described it with such adjectives as “unprecedented”, “promising”, “peaceful” and “logical.” They talked of the Rouhani-Zarif axis and their “charm offensive” at the UN which was indubitably successful. On the contrary, they censured Netanyahu for his bizarre and peculiar speech which was devoid of any traces of reason and rationality.

It’s not strange that Netanyahu is indescribably angry and lonesome these days. Israel’s long-term interests lie in sabotaging international peace and order. Now that this peace and order is going to reemerge from Tehran and Washington, it’s quite understandable that Netanyahu and his Likudnik friends are running mad.

BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR4 October 2013

To Whom It May Concern

I wish to complain that the report purporting to show the aftermath of an alleged incendiary bomb attack in Aleppo, transmitted by the BBC on 29 August and published on the BBC news website here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23892594 contains a large degree of fabrication.

I understand that the first thirty seconds of the report were filmed by an unnamed non-BBC party, and so presume that, as Panorama reporter Ian Pannell is visible between 1:44 and 1:46 (walking, at the left of the picture) and again at 2:18 beside Dr Rola, that the remainder of the report, from 0:30 onwards, was filmed by BBC cameraman Darren Conway. Please correct me if I am wrong and if any part of the footage beyond 0:30 was filmed by other BBC employees or non-BBC third parties.

The piece begins with Ian Pannell’s narration over a short piece of the non-BBC footage stating “an old blanket to cover a corpse”. However what is shown from 00:16 to 00:23 is a blanket being draped over a ledge.

At 2:08 in the report a man with a naked back and tattered blue shirt on his left shoulder is seen climbing down from a truck, as the voice of the British doctor (Dr Rola) is heard asking “more coming? More? More?”. The suggestion is that these are fresh casualties arriving at the “basic hospital”; however the same man with the tattered blue shirt had already been shown walking into the hospital, from 1:44 onwards. It is clear that the footage has been edited and the words of Dr Rola crafted to create the impression of a larger number of alleged victims than were in fact present.

The supposed eyewitness Mohammed Abdullatif, who speaks from 2:55, is plainly reading out a letter, drafted by a person or persons unknown, from a cue card; he commences with the words “Dear United Nations” and proceeds to stumble over unfamiliar text (“…you’re recalling peace – you’re calling for peace”). The obvious conclusion is that the spontaneity and passion are artificial.

In the section commencing immediately after Mr Abdullatif’s recitation, at 3:02, a number of alleged victims are shown, including the man seen twice earlier in the tattered blue shirt. This group is initially fairly static and quiet; then at 3.03 the man in the tattered blue shirt looks into the camera, and at 3.04, as he raises his left arm, the entire group suddenly begins to writhe and moan in unison. The adolescent in the white shirt, second from the right in the shot, rises to the floor with perfect ease and equanimity, and is clearly not in the least distress. The seemingly prostrate young man in red, third from the right, had previously had no difficulty climbing down from the back of the truck at 2:08. Viewed several times over, this obviously stage-managed sequence quickly becomes risible, and because the white cream on the skin of the alleged victims seen here is of a piece with that seen on other alleged victims throughout the report, the inescapable conclusion is that all of them are equally fake.

The text under the BBC online piece talks of “napalm-like burns”; Ian Pannell states “the injuries and debris suggests something like napalm or thermite” (1:52) and Dr Rola suggests (2:30) that the supposed injuries are the result of “maybe napalm, something similar to that”.

These statements betray at best a basic lack of journalistic acumen, and, in the case of Dr Rola, medical knowledge. The most cursory web research reveals the vast difference in severity between burns caused by napalm – which sticks to the skin and generates temperatures of 800 to 1,200 degrees Celsius – and the supposed injuries of the alleged victims in the Panorama footage.

Kim Phuc, a napalm bombing survivor known from a famous Vietnam War photograph has said “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can imagine” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napalm#Effects_on_people. It is entirely implausible to suggest that the relatively composed woman featured from 2:38 to 2:44, the shaking child Ahmed featured from 2:45 to 2:54 (who appears to nod as if in communication to someone off-screen at 2:46 before turning to speak to the camera), and the adolescent featured from 3:20 to 3:27 – who repeats, rather than “gasps” as your reporter would have it, the word for “water” – are suffering “the most terrible pain you can imagine”. Footage of genuine napalm victims would likely be far too horrific and distressing to broadcast and to describe the alleged injuries depicted in these scenes as “napalm-like” is an insult to those who have suffered the reality.

Other aspects of this story are extremely dubious.

Wikipedia states that “One firebomb released from a low-flying plane can damage an area of 2,500 square yards” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napalm#Effects_on_people. In the footage of the Panorama crew’s visit to the site of the alleged incendiary bomb attack, commencing at around 00:30, a modestly sized crater surrounded by some charring to the immediate vicinity only is visible. The infant’s swing seen from 1:00 onwards, just yards away from the alleged impact crater, would surely have been incinerated in a firebombing attack, suggesting that it may have been placed at the scene after the event as “window dressing”.

The ages of many of the alleged victims in the footage seems at odds with the description of the site of the attack as a “playground”. The man in the tattered blue shirt featured heavily in the footage, the man on the stretcher from 2:00, the woman being carried on a stretcher at 2:27 and the woman featured from 2:38 are all adults. Nowhere in the report are any victims that would seem to fit the age range suggested by the infant’s swing and the small girl’s shoe shown seen at 1:11.

The Panorama team might also have speculated as to what kind of a “playground” possesses a swimming pool, visible from 0:33 onwards. “Courtyard” would perhaps be a more accurate and less emotive term to describe the scene of the incident.

The background and affiliations of the charity Hand in Hand for Syria and of Dr Rola are also worthy of scrutiny.

I can fully understand that a medic working in a violent and politically fraught situation may wish to conceal her identity altogether, however as Dr Rola is willing to appear on camera it seems oddly reticent for her to conceal her last name. Moreover, Dr Rola appeared on Newsnight on 30 August http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23909554, as well as on other BBC output, expressing her disappointment at the UK parliament’s decision to reject possible military action against the Syrian government.

In addition to the very startling scenario of a medical doctor implicitly calling for military strikes which would inevitably lead to deaths and injuries, as this website puts it http://wikispooks.com/wiki/Dr_Rola “You do not volunteer to appear on the flag-ship BBC Politics TV program advocating for a military bombing campaign with any realistic expectation – let alone right – to remain anonymous”.

I do not accept all the assertions and suggestions of the Wikispooks page, for instance, while it seems clear that Dr Rola uses more than one surname (“Hallem” here http://atfal.co.uk/the-team.html and “Alkurdi” here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anaesthesia/people/Alkurdi) I do not agree that the Dr Rola who appeared on Newsnight on 30 August is not the same woman who appears in the Panorama footage I am complaining about. I have also been unable to verify the site’s claims that the incident took place during Syrian school holidays, when there is no clear reason why children would be in a school playground, or that the Arabic language website that is linked to hosts a comment from a contributor, said to be from the vicinity of the attack, stating that the building in the report is in fact “a fairly standard construction villa with a swimming pool on the other side of the buttressed wall”.

However the site does make the indisputable point that the Hand in Hand for Syria logo http://www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk/index.php is clearly based on the flag of the Syrian opposition, specifically the Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_opposition. It is entirely negligent of the BBC to fail to inform its viewers of the crucial fact of this affiliation.

In short, I am shocked and astonished that the BBC should present as genuine such self-evidently falsified and stage-managed scenes, which would appear to have almost certainly been manufactured by parties with an interest in seeing western intervention in Syria on the side of opposition forces.

I trust you will seek a full explanation from Ian Pannell, Darren Conway and the Panorama editorial department as to how this patently fraudulent footage came to be presented as authentic.

I await your response to all the points I have raised above, which I shall be sharing widely, with great interest.

Yours sincerely

Robert

PS I have just seen the follow up piece by Ian Pannell “Syria: Agony of victims of ‘napalm-like’ school bombing” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-24288698.

Some further points arise which I would ask you to please clarify:

• The words spoken by Dr Rola have been altered between the two reports.

In the original item http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23892594 (from 2:18 to 2:32) Dr Rola’s words are:

“..It’s just absolute chaos and carnage here, erm we’ve had a massive influx of what looks like serious burns, er seems like it must be some sort of, I’m not really sure, maybe napalm, something similar to that..”

In the newer item, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-24288698 (from 2:00 to 2:13) these have been changed to:

“..It’s just absolute chaos and carnage here, erm we’ve had a massive influx of what looks like serious burns, er seems like it must be some sort of chemical weapon, I’m not really sure..”

The audio in both of these segments is identical, with all the same inflections, up to the point “…must be some sort of..” after which the soundtrack in one or the other has been overdubbed. Please can you provide the name of the individual who carried this out, when it was done and to what purpose?

The two segments are shot from slightly different angles, and it is not immediately clear to me whether it is the same scene filmed from two different angles or whether they are two different “takes” filmed moments apart. If the former is the case, please can you provide the names of both camera people involved, and say whether they are both BBC employees; if the latter, please can you explain why a large part of the audio from one has been dubbed onto the other, and in at least one case subsequently interfered with?

• Ahmed Darwish (previously reported as being 15 years old, now 13, an understandable error), seems to have developed burns to his upper and lower lips (2:46) which were not in evidence in the original footage.

• The plea of the young girl Siham, featured in the text of the piece (“Please let it be over now”, she said. “We need to find a way out. We’ve had all we can take.”) seems remarkably politicised and reflective for someone of her age, alleged to be “suffering with 70% burns”.

• Dr Saleyha Ahsan, featured from 2:15 to 2:24, is a filmmaker with a military background:

http://oneworldaction.wordpress.com/100-unseen-powerful-women/arts-and-media/saleyha-ahsan/
http://knightayton.co.uk/female-presenters/saleyha-ahsan

Please can you confirm whether Dr Ahsan had any involvement in the making or editing of any of the footage in the two reports?

Responses

 

 

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With the partial shutdown of the US government ending its fourth day on Friday, leaving 800,000 federal employees out in the street and vital social, environmental and other services paralyzed, the US Congress appeared no closer to an agreement on a bill that would provide the appropriations to keep the government running in the new fiscal year that began Tuesday.In immediate jeopardy are programs like WIC, which provides supplemental food assistance to some 9 million low-income women, infants and children, and Head Start, with nearly 20,000 children in programs whose grants kick in on October 1 already facing the threat of being locked out.

The shutdown has also begun spilling over to the private sector, with government contractors laying off employees, in some cases because they work in shuttered government buildings or depend upon government inspectors to approve their work. Lockheed Martin Corp. announced on Friday that it would begin furloughing 3,000 of its employees and would be forced to increase the number each additional week of the shutdown. Boeing also said it would begin furloughing workers.

Nonetheless, Wall Street appeared unfazed by the government funding crisis, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up by a little more than half a percent on Friday. Indifferent to the mass suffering caused by the shutdown, the banks and finance houses appeared confident that congressional leaders would do their bidding by raising the debt ceiling and averting a default before the government reaches its borrowing limit on October 17.

During a closed-door House Republican caucus meeting Friday, House Speaker John Boehner reportedly told his fellow Republicans that he would not allow the government to default, while indicating that the debate on raising the debt ceiling would likely become tied into the shutdown issue as well as proposals for far-reaching cuts to core social programs such as Social Security and Medicare and fresh tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy.

“I don’t believe we should default on our debt,” Boehner told reporters after the Republican caucus meeting Friday. He added, however, “If we are going to raise the amount of money we can borrow, we ought to do something about our spending problem and lack of economic growth.”

The likelihood that the government shutdown will continue for at least another week was underscored by a procedural maneuver unveiled by House Democrats Friday, aimed at forcing a vote by the Republican-led chamber on a so-called “clean” spending bill, i.e., one not tied to Republican demands for changes in the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

The Democrats’ plan, which revolves around a so-called discharge petition, would result in a measure which funds the government only through November 15. It requires getting all 200 House Democrats to sign a petition along with at least 18 Republicans, who would have to defy their own party leadership. Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, while backing the maneuver, warned that “the fear factor on the Republican side is very high” and that members of the majority were being “threatened” not to support any clean spending bill.

Perhaps the most significant feature of this Democratic strategy is that even in the unlikely event that it garnered the required number of signatures and moved through the House, the earliest any vote could take place would be October 14, extending the shutdown for at least another 10 days.

The attitude of US finance capital toward the political wrangling in Washington was summed up by Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, who told USA Today: “The shutdown is a sideshow. It’s all about the debt ceiling and potential default.”

This sentiment was echoed by Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman Wealth Management, who told CNBC Friday: “I find it painful to say this, but the government shutdown doesn’t tend to affect markets at all. The debt ceiling debate, however, is a different matter… we’re likely to have uncertainty until the 11th hour.”

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, in an interview with Fortune magazine, argued that politicians should be prohibited from using approval of the government’s borrowing authority as leverage for shifting other policies. “It ought to be banned as a weapon,” he said. “It should be like nuclear bombs, basically too horrible to use.”

On Thursday, the US Treasury Department said that failure to raise the debt limit and a resulting default on US government debt “has the potential to be catastrophic,” likely triggering a financial meltdown that would “echo the events of 2008 or worse.”

According to Treasury estimates, without an increase in the borrowing cap by October 17, it will be left with only $30 billion to meet $60 billion in daily outlays. Failing to meet interest payments on government bonds would result in default.

Such a default, the Treasury report warned, would cause the seizing up of credit markets, a collapse in the value of the dollar and a skyrocketing of US interest rates, with effects that would “reverberate around the world.”

The pretense of the political debate in Washington is that Obama and the Democrats are committed to “clean” bills funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, while Republicans are attempting to condition such legislation on the inclusion of delays or alterations of Obamacare and cuts in core entitlement programs. The reality is that both parties are in agreement that attacks must be carried out on Social Security, Medicare and other programs in order to pay for the massive and continuing bailout of Wall Street. Whether they will accompany or follow bills to fund government operations and raise the debt ceiling remains to be seen.

A CBS News poll released Thursday showed that nearly nine out of ten Americans disapprove of the government shutdown, with 43 percent describing themselves as angered by it. In this poll as well as others, Obama, as well as congressional Democrats and Republicans, all receive record negative ratings, with the larger share of blame falling on the Republicans.

Among growing sections of working people, there is a recognition that the Democrats and Republicans are not merely involved in a dysfunctional partisan confrontation, but are preparing to carry out punishing new attacks on social services living standards. Tens of millions of workers are well acquainted with being thrown out of their jobs and losing income, like the federal workers today.

The isolation from and indifference to the concerns of ordinary working people on the part of the Congress and the entire government, together with the recognition that they are widely hated throughout the country, contributes to an atmosphere of fear in Washington that found tragic expression Thursday in the gunning down of an emotionally disturbed young woman in the streets of the US capital.

Miriam Carey, 34, a dental hygienist from Connecticut, died in a hail of bullets after ramming her car, carrying herself and her infant daughter, into barricades and police vehicles outside the White House and the Capitol building.

There are growing questions over the behavior of the Secret Service and Capitol Police, who fired multiple rounds at her vehicle as it sped away—in contravention of basic protocols for the use of deadly force—and then killed the woman after, according to some reports, she had gotten out of the car. It was reported that Carey, who was unarmed, was shot at least six times and that her wounds were so devastating that it made identification difficult.

One tourist compared the response of security forces to Carey’s ramming of a police barricade to someone having “poked a hornets’ nest,” with heavily armed paramilitary police swarming through the center of official Washington and placing Congress in lockdown, with legislators ordered to “shelter in place.”

The incident underscored that while services vital to the quality of life of millions have been shuttered by the budget confrontation, the massive military, police and intelligence apparatus continues to operate at full throttle.

The so-called “2 plus 2” meeting in Tokyo this week of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel with their Japanese counterparts marked a significant escalation of the US military build-up against China. The lengthy joint statement announced major deployments of hi-tech US weaponry to Japan and a green light for Japanese remilitarisation, within the framework of “a more robust alliance”.Thursday’s talks took place in the wake of the Obama administration’s decision to postpone an imminent military attack on Syria last month in the face of mass popular opposition, both in the United States and around the world. The “2 plus 2” meetings make clear that despite the postponement of war with Syria, Washington’s plans for military escalation are proceeding apace.

Washington’s decision to back down provoked consternation among US allies not only in the Middle East, but in Asia, where Obama’s “pivot” has encouraged Japan and other countries to adopt a more aggressive stance towards China.

Fears that American allies could be left out on a limb were underscored this week when Obama cancelled his high-profile trip to South East Asia amid the crisis in Washington generated by the government shutdown. While the Obama administration has repeatedly declared the “rebalancing” of US military forces to the Indo-Pacific region would be quarantined from austerity measures, such pledges are called into question by the political turmoil over the budget.

The “2 plus 2” meeting on Thursday sent the unmistakable message that the US is proceeding with its military build-up in Asia that includes stationing 60 percent of American naval and air force assets in the region by 2020. The American deployments announced in the joint statement are all directed at strengthening US-Japanese military against China. These include:

* The stationing of a second X-band early warning radar in Japan near Kyoto, as part of joint anti-ballistic missile systems. While nominally directed against North Korea’s primitive nuclear capabilities, these weapons are part of the Pentagon’s preparations for nuclear war against China and Russia.

* The basing of advanced P-8 surveillance and anti-submarine planes starting in December 2013 and long-range Global Hawk drones next year. The stepping up of US maritime surveillance in the East China and South China Seas, where the US “pivot” has exacerbated tense maritime disputes with China, including with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu island, is particularly provocative.

* Two squadrons of MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off transport planes will enhance the capacity of the Japanese military to rapidly deploy troops in the event of a conflict over the Senkakus. The Pentagon also plans to deploy F-35B vertical take-off stealth fighters by 2017—again for the first time outside the US—boosting its ability to carry out its Air-Sea Battle strategy for a blitzkrieg against military targets inside China.

The Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”, which began in mid-2009 and was openly announced in November 2011, has inflamed nationalism and militarism throughout the region. Nowhere is this more evident than in Japan, where the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which took office last December, has boosted military spending, toughened its stance on the Senkakus, and taken steps to free the military from the constraints imposed by the Japanese constitution, which formally forbids external military aggression.

In the joint “2 by 2” statement, the US “welcomed” Japan’s “intention to make more proactive contributions to addressing the challenges faced by the international community”; its decision to establish a National Security Council; its expanded military budget; its re-examination of the legal basis for “collective self-defence; and “regional contributions, including capacity building effects vis-à-vis South East Asian countries.”

Abe is proceeding with his election pledge to build “a strong Japan” with “a strong military”. His government is seeking to either circumvent or amend the constitution to allow for “collective self-defence”—that is, the ability of Japanese imperialism to wage war with the US including “pre-emptive” military strikes. Japan has already pledged to boost the coast guard in the Philippines—the former US colony and leading South East Asian partner in confronting China.

The “2 by 2” statement also laid out closer US-Japanese military collaboration in intelligence sharing, cyber warfare and “space-based maritime domain awareness”—that is, the use of spy satellites for surveillance of the Western Pacific. Japan and the US also reaffirmed their agreement on US military bases on Okinawa, which have provoked deep popular opposition. Tokyo has agreed to pay $3.1 billion towards the relocation of 9,000 US Marines to Guam as part of the Pentagon’s broader restructuring of US forces throughout the region, including to Australia and the Philippines.

This week’s ministerial meeting was the first time that such high-level talks were held in Tokyo, rather than Washington, in recognition of Japan’s “greater responsibilities”. The Obama administration clearly regards the Abe government as a central partner in its efforts to contain and prepare for war against China. The planned revision of the “Guidelines for Japan-US Defence Cooperation” will formalise “robust” new military arrangements.

The escalation of US military deployments to East Asia and US encouragement of Japanese militarism as an adjunct to the Pentagon testify to the utter recklessness of US foreign policy. Staggered by an intractable capitalist crisis in the United States and worldwide, US imperialism is intensifying its pursuit of global hegemony through military intimidation and war.

Amid growing popular opposition to war, the tempo of US military aggression has accelerated since the outbreak of the global economic crisis in 2008, threatening an even greater conflagration. Having temporarily stepped back from an attack on Syria—a war that risked a confrontation with Iran, Russia and China—the US has stepped up its preparations for just such a conflict.

In every country, the drive to war is being accompanied by the whipping up of poisonous nationalism and a relentless assault on the living standards of working people. The only social force able to prevent war is an independent movement of the international working class to abolish its root cause—global capitalism and its outmoded nation state system—and reorganise the world economy on socialist lines for the benefit of all humanity.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is Qatar’s Emir [image left]. He heads a despotic monarchical rogue state.

He maintains supreme power. What he says goes. Ordinary Qataris have no say.

State terror defines official policy. Qatar has one of the world’s worst human and civil rights record.

Torture and other forms of repression are commonplace. So is brutal worker exploitation. Foreign nationals suffer most.

 According to the State Department’s 2012 human rights report:

“The principal human rights problems were the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully, restriction of fundamental civil liberties, and pervasive denial of expatriate workers’ rights.”

“The monarch-appointed government prohibited organized political parties and restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, and assembly and access to a fair trial for persons held under the Protection of Society Law and Combating Terrorism Law.”

“Other continuing human rights concerns included restrictions on the freedoms of religion and movement, as foreign laborers could not freely travel abroad.”

“Trafficking in persons, primarily in the labor and domestic worker sectors, was a problem.”

“Legal, institutional, and cultural discrimination against women limited their participation in society.”

“The noncitizen “Bidoon” (stateless persons) who resided in the country with an unresolved legal status experienced social discrimination.”

Migrants comprise the vast majority of Qatar’s two million population. London’s Guardian ran a series of articles explaining more.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) chose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup games.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter did so disgracefully. He ignored outrageous exploitation foreign construction workers face. More on that below.

Qatar is a key US regional ally. Doha hosts America’s forward CENTCOM (US Central Command) headquarters. It’s based at Al Udeid Air Base. It’s home for 5,000 US forces.

It’s a hub for US Afghanistan and Iraq operations. Qatar was instrumental in Obama’s Libya war. Its special forces armed and trained extremist Islamist militants.

 They included the CIA affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). They’re ideologically allied with Al Qaeda.

In December 2004, the State Department designated it a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). If doesn’t matter. America uses Al Qaeda and likeminded organizations as enemies and allies.

Qatar supports Obama’s war on Syria. It helps recruit extremist fighters. It provides funding, weapons and training. It’s part of Washington’s plan to oust Assad.

London’s Guardian headlined “Qatar: one migrant worker’s story.”

 Nepalese worker Bhupendra Malla Thakuri “borrowed money to afford a recruitment agent’s fees (for) a job as a truck driver in Qatar”

 It pays 1,200 riyals monthly (about $330). In June 2011, Bhupendra was severely injured. His leg was crushed on the job. He was hospitalized for months.

“When I was discharged,” he said, “the company only paid me for the 20-odd days I had worked that month, but nothing more.”

 ”They didn’t give me my salary. They didn’t give me anything. It was a very critical situation. I was injured and my leg had become septic.”

 His company gave him a document in English to sign. It asked him to agree to return to Nepal. It declared all his benefits paid.

He refused to sign, saying:

 ”I had to return to the hospital frequently for checkups, but I didn’t have money for that. I needed money for transportation and medicine. There was no money for food.”

 His indebtedness rose to about $4,400. He had no way repay. He sued. He was lucky. He got significant compensation. On July 29, he went home.

 According to Amnesty International Gulf migrant researcher James Lynch:

“Bhupendra’s case illustrates both the callousness with which so many companies treat migrant workers in Qatar, but also the laborious and confusing processes which migrant workers are expected to navigate in order to get their rights.”

“It took him more than two years, and enormous stamina and courage, to get the compensation he deserved, during which time he was penniless.”

On September 25, the Guardian headlined “Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘slaves.’ Exclusive: Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers preparing emirate for 2022.”

They endure outrageous human rights abuses. In recent weeks, dozens of Nepalese migrant workers died.

“(T)housands more (endure) appalling labour abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.”

During summer 2013, “Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day.”

 Many were young men. Sudden heart attacks killed them. Others died from accidents. Human life in Qatar is cheap.

 Guardian investigators “found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery.”

From June 4 – August 8, at least 44 workers died. Heart attacks or workplace accidents took most of them.

Other damning evidence uncovered included:

  • forced labor on World Cup infrastructure;
  • withholding pay for some Nepalese workers for months; allegedly it’s to prevent them from running away;
  • confiscating worker passports; doing so reduces their status to illegal aliens; and
  • denying workers access to free drinking water in summer heat.

“About 30 Nepalese sought refuge at their embassy in Doha to escape the brutal conditions of their employment,” said the Guardian.

Rogue Qatari officials are very much involved in ruthless migrant worker exploitation.

“The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament,” the Guardian added.

It shows FIFA’s complicity with brutal police state repression. It doesn’t surprise. Formula One’s governing body includes Bahrain on its calendar.

It does so despite the Gulf monarchy’s appalling human rights record.

Murder, torture, other forms of abuse, lawless arrests, kangaroo court trials, and longterm imprisonments don’t matter.

Bahrain Grand Prix races are held as scheduled. Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone operates like FIFA’s Sepp Blatter. Money, lots of it, prestige, and self-interest alone matter.

State terror is a small price to pay. Welcome to Qatar and Bahrain. They’re two of the world’s most repressive dictatorships. They’re valued US allies. They’re complicit in America’s imperial wars.

One migrant Qatari worker told Guardian investigators:

“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us. I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless.”

“I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.”

Guardian investigators found migrant workers sleeping 12 to a room. Filthy conditions made many sick.

Some were forced to work without pay. They were left begging for food and clean water. Ran Kuman Mahara said:

“We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours; 12 hours’ work and then no food all night.”

“When I complained, my manager assaulted me, kicked me out of the labour camp I lived in and refused to pay me anything. I had to beg for food from other workers.”

Nearly all Nepalese migrant workers have huge debts. They accrued them to pay recruitment agents for their jobs.

They’re obligated to repay. They have no way to do so. They had no idea how brutally they’d be exploited.

They held against their will in forced bondage. They’re treated callously. Dozens are worked to death.

Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, called the emirate an “open jail” for foreign workers. It’s that and much more.

According to Anti-Slavery International director Aidan McQuade:

 ”The evidence uncovered by the Guardian is clear proof of the use of systematic forced labour in Qatar.”

 ”In fact, these working conditions and the astonishing number of deaths of vulnerable workers go beyond forced labour to the slavery of old where human beings were treated as objects.”

“There is no longer a risk that the World Cup might be built on forced labour. It is already happening.”

Qatar has the world’s highest ratio of migrant workers to domestic population. Over 90% of its workforce are aliens. From now until 2022, another 1.5 million will be recruited.

Based on current conditions, they’ll be held in forced bondage. They’ll be brutalized against their will.

They’ll be lawlessly held to build stadiums, roads, ports, and hotels, as well as other infrastructure and facilities in time for FIFA’s 2022 World Cup games.

Nepal supplies about 40% of Qatar’s migrant workers. In 2012, over 100,000 were recruited. They had no idea how brutally they’d be treated.

 On the one hand, FIFA officials insist on acceptable labor standards conditions and practices. On the other, they turn a blind eye to appalling abuses.

It bears repeating. Money, lots of it, prestige, and self-interest alone matter. It doesn’t surprise. Olympism operates the same way.

 It’s more about profiteering, exploitation, and cynicism than sport. In modern times, it’s always been that way.

 It’s dark side excludes good will and fair play. Scandalous wheeling, dealing, collusion, and bribery turns sport into a commercial grab bag free-for-all.

Marginalized populations are exploited. Thousands are evicted and displaced. Disadvantaged residents are left high and dry.

Cozy relationships among government officials, corporate sponsors, universities, and IOC bosses facilitate exploiting communities, people, and athletes unfairly. It’s standard practice.

FIFA operates the same way. Denial of fundamental rights and freedoms is ignored. Readying venues for scheduled events come first.

Repression and worker abuses don’t matter. High-minded hyperbole conceals what demands condemnation.

CH2M Hill is a leading consulting, engineering, construction, program management firm. It “was recently appointed the official programme management consultant to the supreme committee,” said the Guardian.

It claims a “zero tolerance policy for the use of forced labour and other human trafficking practices.”

According to its engineering subsidiary Halcrow:

“Our supervision role of specific construction packages ensures adherence to site contract regulation for health, safety and environment.”

 ”The terms of employment of a contractor’s labour force is not under our direct purview.”

Nepalese worker explain otherwise. They’re virtual slaves. They want to leave but can’t. According to one unnamed migrant:

“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us. If we run away, we become illegal and that makes it hard to find another job.”

Qatar’s labor ministry lied claiming it enforces strict standards and practices. According to the Guardian:

“The workers’ plight makes a mockery of concerns for the 2022 footballers.”

General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions head Umesh Upadhyaya said:

“Everyone is talking about the effect of Qatar’s extreme heat on a few hundred footballers.”

“But they are ignoring the hardships, blood and sweat of thousands of migrant workers, who will be building the World Cup stadiums in shifts that can last eight times the length of a football match.”

They turn a blind eye to the appalling human rights abuses they endure. They’re held in forced bondage for Qatari/FIFA profits, self-interest and prestige.

Doing so makes a mockery of sport. Illusion substitutes for reality. Dark side truth explains best.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/appalling-migrant-worker-conditions-qatar/

 

“Whereas Liberian president Charles Taylor was accused of encouraging the slaughter of possibly 50,000 people in Sierra Leone, Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have armed, financed and protected the killers of six million people – 120 times as many fatalities – in the eastern Congo.”

Last year, former Liberian president Charles Taylor became the first former head of state ever to be convicted by an international tribunal. Taylor, whose 60-year prison sentence was upheld, last week, was found guilty of war crimes – not in his own country, but in neighboring Sierra Leone, where a civil war had raged from 1991 to 2002. The Liberian president wasn’t accused of personally committing mass murder in Sierra Leone, or even of having ordered that these crimes be committed. Instead, the prosecution argued that he had “instigated” others to commit the crimes in order to profit from the sale of what became known as “blood diamonds.” The court reasoned that Taylor must have known about the horrendous crimes that were being perpetrated by his friends among the rebels in the neighboring country, and was, therefore, as guilty as they were.

If that is the new standard for international criminal law, then Barack Obama and the two other living U.S. presidents should soon be moving into prison cells next door to Charles Taylor. These three U.S. presidents have instigated – with full knowledge of the consequences – 17 years of the most ghastly crimes imaginable in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Whereas Liberian president Charles Taylor was accused of encouraging the slaughter of possibly 50,000 people in Sierra Leone, Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have armed, financed and protected the killers of six million people – 120 times as many fatalities – in the eastern Congo, where American allies Rwanda and Uganda have been on a rampage of looting and mass murder since 1996.

Charles Taylor’s motive was said to be personal gain from the blood diamond trade – although international investigators have never found his alleged hidden treasure. The United States let loose its Rwandan and Ugandan dogs of war for a much bigger prize: the world’s largest deposits of strategic minerals that are required for maintenance of modern industries and war machines. Charles Taylor’s stash of ill-gotten cash may be fictional, but the flow of Congolese coltan and other strategic minerals through Rwandan and Ugandan military middlemen to the rich countries of the West is undeniable. Charles Taylor’s crimes in Sierra Leone – if he is guilty – pale in comparison to those of U.S. presidents in the Congo, where Clinton, Bush and Obama have instigated, encouraged and collaborated in the worst genocide since World War Two. And, just like common criminals, they tried to hide the evidence – suppressing United Nations reports, preventing discussion of Congo’s complaints before the World Body, and flooding the corporate media with propaganda that Rwanda and Uganda’s leaders are the most honorable men in Africa – when, in fact, they are the continent’s most coddled thieves and killers.

Of course, the United States will never submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court; its presidents cannot measure up to anyone’s standard of justice. They live by the law of the gun – the greatest war criminals on planet Earth.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

Russia has evidence proving it. More on that below. A previous article said the following:

On August 29, Mint Press News headlined “Exclusive: Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack,” saying:

“Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.”

Abu Abdel-Moneim lives in Ghouta. He’s the father of an insurgent fighter. “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” he said.

Some were “tube-like” in structure. Others were like a “huge gas bottle.” They were stored in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and other insurgents died during the Ghouta attack.

A female Jabhat al-Nusra fighter named “K” said:

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

Another fighter named “J” said:

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”

According to Mint Press:

“Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.”

“More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.”

Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s directly involved. He’s Washington’s point man against Syria. He’s advancing the kingdom’s top goal. It wants Assad, Iran’s government and Hezbollah toppled.

Doing it involves arming and funding some of the most extremist elements. They’re cutthroat killers. They’re committing outrageous atrocities.

They brag about them. Media scoundrels give them short shrift. Most often their crimes go unreported.

False flags are involved. They permit pointing fingers the wrong way. Assad’s wrongfully blamed for death squad crimes.

No verifiable evidence links him to any CW attacks throughout months of conflict. Claims otherwise have no basis in fact.

They’re false. They’re malicious. They’re repeated with disturbing regularity. So-called intelligence cited is fake. It’s created out of whole cloth.

It’s done to blame Assad for insurgent crimes. They’ve been caught red-handed various times using CWs. Coverup and denial followed.

On October 4, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined “Saudi Arabia group behind chemical weapons provocation in Syria – source.”

They were based in Jordan. King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein’s Hashimite Kingdom is complicit. A Russian source said:

“Having analyzed this information, which was received from a whole range of sources, we are getting a picture that confirms that the criminal provocation in Eastern Ghouta was committed by a specialized group that was sent by Saudi Arabia from the territory of Jordan and acted under the cover of the Liva al-Islam (Banner of Islam) group.”

It’s an extremist Islamic group. It includes over 50 brigades. It operates near Damascus.

Saudi-based Abdullah Mohammed Alloush is a Salafist cleric. His son Zahran heads it. He conducts joint operations with Jabhat al-Nusra. He rejects negotiations with Assad.

In July 2012, Liva al-Islam was responsible for killing Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, his deputy Asef Shawkat and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani.

Another Moscow source said:

“(T)he chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta on August 21 and all the subsequent developments literally caused a stir in Syrian society, and people reacted painfully to the distorted interpretation of those events given by a number of media outlets and politicians.”

“That is why Syrians whose political views differ dramatically, including the opposition’s militants themselves, are actively trying to tell everything they know about this crime and the forces who masterminded and sponsored it to diplomats and international organization officials who continue working in Syria.”

According to Syria Minister Omram al-Zoabi:

Damascus and Moscow “maintain permanent, almost daily contact concerning those details.”

Syria established a special interdepartmental group. It decides how best to eliminate all chemical weapons.

It’s cooperating with Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors.

On October 1, an advance group arrived in Damascus. They did so to begin the ambitious task of destroying CWs safely and completely. Syria has an estimated 1,000 ton stockpile.

According to Zoabi:

“Whether to destroy chemical weapons on the scene or take them out to other countries for scrapping will be determined by experts and the interdepartmental group which was formed by the Syrian government and comprises representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry. It’s a technical issue.”

On October 2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:

“We read reports and hear from various sources, semi-official and trustworthy, that some official representatives of a number of the countries of the region surrounding Syria allegedly established contacts and meet regularly with leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups, and also that those radicals have some components of chemical weapons maybe found in Syria or maybe brought from somewhere, and not just on the Syrian territory, but also that chemical weapons components have been brought to Iraq and that provocations are being prepared there.”

Supplying insurgents with CWs increased after Security Council Resolution 2118 was adopted.

Lavrov wants all sides to resolve differences nonviolently. He wants them to agree to attend Geneva II without preconditions.

“There are enough provocateurs, and there will probably be more provocations,” he added.

“What’s important now is that it shouldn’t be them who calls the tune but Russia and the United States as the initiators of Geneva-2 along with the United Nations secretary general to whom a request to that effect was submitted in New York.”

“We hope that consultations that are now being conducted by the UN secretary general and his special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, will produce positive results enabling us to organize initial events needed to launch this conference.”

“It’s important that all the Syrian factions be fully represented at the talks for the future agreements to be really stable and lasting.”

On October 4, Itar Tass headlined “Russia fears radical Syrian opposition provocations in elimination of chemical weapons,” saying:

According to Putin’s Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov:

“Objectively speaking this cannot be ruled out, and we have certain understanding with our western partners in this respect that there are real risks and different kind of provocations because terrorists and extremists who are not interested in a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis might put different obstacles, quite serious, in the process to eliminate chemical weapons.”

“What really concerns us, and what objectively will be a problem, is that it will not be easy to get to the places where chemical weapons or some components are located.”

“In principle, chemical arsenals are under control of the Syrian government, but I think not all of them.”

“But one can get to the depots that are controlled by the government only in crossing regions that are controlled by the opposition.”

“That is why the question arises how to cross these regions and ensure the safety of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who will work there.”

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky expects international inspectors to begin work on eliminating Syria’s CWs next week.

Doing so won’t be easy. Expect anti-Assad provocations to follow. Expect him to be wrongfully blamed for what happens.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Government Officials Fail Honesty Standards of 12 Year Olds

Government leaders have been caught in lie after lie about spying … but keep on spouting new lies:

The Government Is Spying On Everything

Despite dishonest proclamations to the contrary, the government is – in reality – spying on everything:

  • NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA collects all of our conversations word-for-word

No Adult Supervision

The NSA has gone rogue … with no oversight:

  • When these judges raised concerns about NSA spying, the Justice Department completely ignoredthem

Spy Information Being Shared with Numerous Federal, State and Local Agencies … and Private Contractors

Your private information isn’t staying inside the NSA … it’s being spread all over the place:

  • The NSA not only shares our information with other American agencies, it also gives personal, sensitive unfiltered information on Americans to Israel and other foreign nations

Your Sensitive Financial Data Is Being Gathered

One of the types of personal information being spied on is your sensitive financial information:

Spying Is Killing the Economy

Spying is hurting the economy:

  • For example, Facebook lost 11 millions users as of April mainly due to privacy concerns (and that wasbefore the Snowden revelations). And see these reports from Boingboing and the Guardian

Mass Surveillance Doesn’t Protect Us From Terrorism

The main justification for spying – that it’s needed to protect us from terrorism – is false:

Mass Surveillance Makes the Internet and Computers Less Safe

Spying makes us vulnerable to hackers:

  • IT and security professionals say spying could mess up the safety of our internet and computer systems
    • For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes:

“By weakening encryption, the NSA allows others to more easily break it. By installing backdoors and other vulnerabilities in systems, the NSA exposes them to other malicious hackers—whether they are foreign governments or criminals.  As security expert Bruce Schneier explained, ‘It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create.’”

  • The NSA’s big data collection itself . Remember, the Pentagon itself sees the collection of “big data” as a “national security threat” … but the NSA is the biggest data collector on the planet, and thus provides a tempting mother lode of information for foreign hackers

One of the Real Reasons the Government Conducts Mass Surveillance

If the spying doesn’t keep us safe, why are they doing it? One of the main reasons is money:

“We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.”

Bunker Mentality

The intelligence agencies have fallen into a bizarre bunker mentality:

  • As just one example of how far they’re going, the feds are considering prosecuting the owner of a private email company – who shut down his business rather than turning over records to the NSA – for refusing to fork over the information and keep quiet. This is a little like trying to throw someone in jail because he’s died and is no longer paying taxes
  • A Harvard law school professor – and director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University – says:

“The NSA has mounted a systematic campaign against the foundations of American power: constitutional checks and balances, technological leadership, and market entrepreneurship. The NSA scandal is no longer about privacy, or a particular violation of constitutional or legislative obligations. “.

Unconstitutional and Illegal

Not only is mass surveillance unnecessary, counter-productive in fighting terrorism and out of control, it’s also illegal:

  • We’re not talking about just a little bit illegal under American law. Top constitutional experts say that Obama and Bush are worse than Nixon … and the Stasi East Germans

The Danger of Tyranny

Insiders say that the mass surveillance is creating a real danger of tyranny in America:

  • The NSA treats the American people with contempt. For example, Spiegel notes:

“The authors of the [NSA slides] draw a comparison with “1984,” … revealing the agency’s current view of smartphones and their users. “Who knew in 1984 that this would be Big Brother …” the authors ask, in reference to a photo of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. And commenting on photos of enthusiastic Apple customers and iPhone users, the NSA writes: “… and the zombies would be paying customers?

  • A Congressman noted that – even if a mass surveillance program is started for good purposes – it will inevitably turn into a witch hunt
  • Indeed, the NSA was already spying on American Senators more than 40 years ago

Whistleblowers Are Heroes

The Good News …

Fortunately, polls shows that Americans understand the reality of mass surveillance:

  • And thinks that the government has gone way too far in the name of terrorism
  • Only 11% of Americans trust Obama to actually do anything to rein in spying
  • A huge majority of Americans wants the director of intelligence – Clapper – prosecuted for perjury(the chair of the 9/11 Commission agrees)

A group sent by Saudi Arabia from Jordanian territory is responsible for the August 21 chemical weapons provocation that was staged in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, said Russian diplomatic sources.

“Having analyzed this information, which was received from a whole range of sources, we are getting a picture that confirms that the criminal provocation in Eastern Ghouta was committed by a specialized group that was sent by Saudi Arabia from the territory of Jordan and acted under the cover of the Liva al-Islam group,” one of the sources said.

Сирия химическое оружие

Another source said that “the chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta on August 21 and all the subsequent developments literally caused a stir in Syrian society, and people reacted painfully to the distorted interpretation of those events given by a number of media outlets and politicians.”

“That is why Syrians whose political views differ dramatically, including the opposition’s militants themselves, are actively trying to tell everything they know about this crime and the forces who masterminded and sponsored it to diplomats and international organization officials who continue working in Syria,” he said.

Moscow and Damascus contact each other daily on chemical weapons destruction – Syrian minister

Moscow and Damascus discuss details of the Syrian chemical weapons destruction plan almost daily, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency.

“We maintain permanent, almost daily contact concerning those details,” he said.

The minister pointed out that a special interdepartmental group had been set up under the Syrian government to decide how exactly the country’s chemical arsenals would be eliminated.

“Whether to destroy chemical weapons on the scene or take them out to other countries for scrapping will be determined by experts and the interdepartmental group which was formed by the Syrian government and comprises representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry. It’s a technical issue,” al-Zoabi said.

Syria chemical weapons: used by terrorists, smuggled to Iraq – Russian FM

Russia has evidence that chemical weapons components are used by terrorists in Syria and smuggled into Iraq for possible provocations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, reports VoR’s Polina Chernitsa.

“We read reports and hear from various sources, semi-official and trustworthy, that some official representatives of a number of the countries of the region surrounding Syria allegedly established contacts and meet regularly with leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups, and also that those radicals have some components of chemical weapons maybe found in Syria or maybe brought from somewhere, and not just on the Syrian territory, but also that chemical weapons components have been brought to Iraq and that provocations are being prepared there,” Lavrov said at a news conference following talks with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid.

All that has intensified after the UN Security Council passed a Russian-US-proposed resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons and the Geneva-2 conference, the Russian minister said.

Sponsors of Syrian opposition should stop attempts to disrupt Geneva-2

Sponsors of the Syrian opposition should stop attempts to disrupt the Geneva-2 international conference on Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“There are enough provocateurs, and there will probably be more provocations. What’s important now is that it shouldn’t be them who calls the tune but Russia and the United States as the initiators of Geneva-2 along with the United Nations secretary general to whom a request to that effect was submitted in New York,” Lavrov said.

He urged all the Syrian forces to agree to attend Geneva-2 without preliminary conditions in keeping with the Geneva communique signed last June.

Those who sponsor and finance the Syrian opposition “should realize their responsibility and stop attempts to disrupt preparations for the conference in a bid to reanimate a military scenario,” Lavrov said.

Syrians are able to agree implementation of Geneva communique

Russia hopes that the Syrians will be able to find common ground on the implementation of the June 30 2012 Geneva Communique, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

He reiterated calls for the Geneva-2 international conference on Syria to be convened in the nearest future.

“We hope that consultations that are now being conducted by the UN secretary general and his special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, will produce positive results enabling us to organize initial events needed to launch this conference. It’s important that all the Syrian factions be fully represented at the talks for the future agreements to be really stable and lasting,” Lavrov said.

Copyright Voice of Russia, 2013

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

In the final months of 2011, almost two years before the city of Detroit would shock America by declaring bankruptcy in the face of what it claimed were insurmountable pension costs, the state of Rhode Island took bold action to avert what it called its own looming pension crisis. Led by its newly elected treasurer, Gina Raimondo – an ostentatiously ambitious 42-year-old Rhodes scholar and former venture capitalist – the state declared war on public pensions, ramming through an ingenious new law slashing benefits of state employees with a speed and ferocity seldom before seen by any local government.

Detroit’s Debt Crisis: Everything Must Go

Called the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011, her plan would later be hailed as the most comprehensive pension reform ever implemented. The rap was so convincing at first that the overwhelmed local burghers of her little petri-dish state didn’t even know how to react. “She’s Yale, Harvard, Oxford – she worked on Wall Street,” says Paul Doughty, the current president of the Providence firefighters union. “Nobody wanted to be the first to raise his hand and admit he didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about.”

Soon she was being talked about as a probable candidate for Rhode Island’s 2014 gubernatorial race. By 2013, Raimondo had raised more than $2 million, a staggering sum for a still-undeclared candidate in a thimble-size state. Donors from Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital and JPMorgan Chase showered her with money, with more than $247,000 coming from New York contributors alone. A shadowy organization called EngageRI, a public-advocacy group of the 501(c)4 type whose donors were shielded from public scrutiny by the infamous Citizens United decision, spent $740,000 promoting Raimondo’s ideas. Within Rhode Island, there began to be whispers that Raimondo had her sights on the presidency. Even former Obama right hand and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed to Rhode Island as an example to be followed in curing pension woes.

What few people knew at the time was that Raimondo’s “tool kit” wasn’t just meant for local consumption. The dynamic young Rhodes scholar was allowing her state to be used as a test case for the rest of the country, at the behest of powerful out-of-state financiers with dreams of pushing pension reform down the throats of taxpayers and public workers from coast to coast. One of her key supporters was billionaire former Enron executive John Arnold – a dickishly ubiquitous young right-wing kingmaker with clear designs on becoming the next generation’s Koch brothers, and who for years had been funding a nationwide campaign to slash benefits for public workers.

Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and $70 million went to Paul Singer’s Elliott Management. The funds now stood collectively to be paid tens of millions in fees every single year by the already overburdened taxpayers of her ostensibly flat-broke state. Felicitously, Loeb, Garschina and Singer serve on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a prominent conservative think tank with a history of supporting benefit-slashing reforms. The institute named Raimondo its 2011 “Urban Innovator” of the year.

The state’s workers, in other words, were being forced to subsidize their own political disenfranchisement, coughing up at least $200 million to members of a group that had supported anti-labor laws. Later, when Edward Siedle, a former SEC lawyer, asked Raimondo in a column for Forbes.com how much the state was paying in fees to these hedge funds, she first claimed she didn’t know. Raimondo later told the Providence Journal she was contractually obliged to defer to hedge funds on the release of “proprietary” information, which immediately prompted a letter in protest from a series of freaked-out interest groups. Under pressure, the state later released some fee information, but the information was originally kept hidden, even from the workers themselves. “When I asked, I was basically hammered,” says Marcia Reback, a former sixth-grade schoolteacher and retired Providence Teachers Union president who serves as the lone union rep on Rhode Island’s nine-member State Investment Commission. “I couldn’t get any information about the actual costs.”

This is the third act in an improbable triple-fucking of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era. Five years ago this fall, an epidemic of fraud and thievery in the financial-services industry triggered the collapse of our economy. The resultant loss of tax revenue plunged states everywhere into spiraling fiscal crises, and local governments suffered huge losses in their retirement portfolios – remember, these public pension funds were some of the most frequently targeted suckers upon whom Wall Street dumped its fraud-riddled mortgage-backed securities in the pre-crash years.

Today, the same Wall Street crowd that caused the crash is not merely rolling in money again but aggressively counterattacking on the public-relations front. The battle increasingly centers around public funds like state and municipal pensions. This war isn’t just about money. Crucially, in ways invisible to most Americans, it’s also about blame. In state after state, politicians are following the Rhode Island playbook, using scare tactics and lavishly funded PR campaigns to cast teachers, firefighters and cops – not bankers – as the budget-devouring boogeymen responsible for the mounting fiscal problems of America’s states and cities.

Secrets and Lies of the Bailout

Not only did these middle-class workers already lose huge chunks of retirement money to huckster financiers in the crash, and not only are they now being asked to take the long-term hit for those years of greed and speculative excess, but in many cases they’re also being forced to sit by and watch helplessly as Gordon Gekko wanna-be’s like Loeb or scorched-earth takeover artists like Bain Capital are put in charge of their retirement savings.

It’s a scam of almost unmatchable balls and cruelty, accomplished with the aid of some singularly spineless politicians. And it hasn’t happened overnight. This has been in the works for decades, and the fighting has been dirty all the way.

How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform

There’s $2.6 trillion in state pension money under management in America, and there are a lot of fingers in that pie. Any attempt to make a neat Aesop narrative about what’s wrong with the system would inevitably be an oversimplification. But in this hugely contentious, often overheated national controversy – which at times has pitted private-sector workers who’ve mostly lost their benefits already against public-sector workers who are merely about to lose them – two key angles have gone largely unreported. Namely: who got us into this mess, and who’s now being paid to get us out of it.

The siege of America’s public-fund money really began nearly 40 years ago, in 1974, when Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA. In theory, this sweeping regulatory legislation was designed to protect the retirement money of workers with pension plans. ERISA forces employers to provide information about where pension money is being invested, gives employees the right to sue for breaches of fiduciary duty, and imposes a conservative “prudent man” rule on the managers of retiree funds, dictating that they must make sensible investments and seek to minimize loss. But this landmark worker-protection law left open a major loophole: It didn’t cover public pensions. Some states were balking at federal oversight, and lawmakers, naively perhaps, simply never contemplated the possibility of local governments robbing their own workers.

Politicians quickly learned to take liberties. One common tactic involved illegally borrowing cash from public retirement funds to finance other budget needs. For many state pension funds, a significant percentage of the kitty is built up by the workers themselves, who pitch in as little as one and as much as 10 percent of their income every year. The rest of the fund is made up by contributions from the taxpayer. In many states, the amount that the state has to kick in every year, the Annual Required Contribution (ARC), is mandated by state law.

Chris Tobe, a former trustee of the Kentucky Retirement Systems who blew the whistle to the SEC on public-fund improprieties in his state and wrote a book called Kentucky Fried Pensions, did a careful study of states and their ARCs. While some states pay 100 percent (or even more) of their required bills, Tobe concluded that in just the past decade, at least 14 states have regularly failed to make their Annual Required Contributions. In 2011, an industry website called 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the 10 brokest, most busted public pensions in America. “Eight of those 10 were on my list,” says Tobe.

Among the worst of these offenders are Massachusetts (made just 27 percent of its payments), New Jersey (33 percent, with the teachers’ pension getting just 10 percent of required payments) and Illinois (68 percent). In Kentucky, the state pension fund, the Kentucky Employee Retirement System (KERS), has paid less than 50 percent of its ARCs over the past 10 years, and is now basically butt-broke – the fund is 27 percent funded, which makes bankrupt Detroit, whose city pension is 77 percent full, look like the sultanate of Brunei by comparison.

Here’s what this game comes down to. Politicians run for office, promising to deliver law and order, safe and clean streets, and good schools. Then they get elected, and instead of paying for the cops, garbagemen, teachers and firefighters they only just 10 minutes ago promised voters, they intercept taxpayer money allocated for those workers and blow it on other stuff. It’s the governmental equivalent of stealing from your kids’ college fund to buy lap dances. In Rhode Island, some cities have underfunded pensions for decades. In certain years zero required dollars were contributed to the municipal pension fund. “We’d be fine if they had made all of their contributions,” says Stephen T. Day, retired president of the Providence firefighters union. “Instead, after they took all that money, they’re saying we’re broke. Are you fucking kidding me?”

There’s an arcane but highly disturbing twist to the practice of not paying required contributions into pension funds: The states that engage in this activity may also be committing securities fraud. Why? Because if a city or state hasn’t been making its required contributions, and this hasn’t been made plain to the ratings agencies, then that same city or state is actually concealing what in effect are massive secret loans and is actually far more broke than it is representing to investors when it goes out into the world and borrows money by issuing bonds.

Some states have been caught in the act of doing this, but the penalties have been so meager that the practice can be considered quasi-sanctioned. For example, in August 2010, the SEC reprimanded the state of New Jersey for serially lying about its failure to make pension contributions throughout the 2000s. “New Jersey failed to provide certain present and historical financial information regarding its pension funding in bond-disclosure documents,” the SEC wrote, in seemingly grave language. “The state was aware of . . . the potential effects of the underfunding.” Illinois was similarly reprimanded by the SEC for lying about its failure to make its required pension contributions. But in neither of these cases were the consequences really severe. So far, states get off with no monetary fines at all. “The SEC was mistaken if they think they sent a message to other states,” Tobe says.

But for all of this, state pension funds were more or less in decent shape prior to the financial crisis of 2008. The country, after all, had been in a historic bull market for most of the 1990s and 2000s and politicians who underpaid the ARCs during that time often did so assuming that the good times would never end. In fact, prior to the crash, state pension funds nationwide were cumulatively running a surplus. But then the crash came, and suddenly states everywhere were in a real, no-joke fiscal crisis. Tax revenues went in the crapper, and someone had to take the hit. But who? Cuts to corporate welfare and a rolled-up-newspaper whack of new taxes on the guilty finance sector seemed a good place to start, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, it was then that the legend of pension unsustainability was born, with the help of a pair of unlikely allies.

Most people think of Pew Charitable Trusts as a centrist, nonpartisan organization committed to sanguine policy analysis and agnostic number crunching. It’s an odd reputation for an organization that was the legacy of J. Howard Pew, president of Sun Oil (the future Sunoco) during its early 20th-century petro-powerhouse days and a kind of australopithecine precursor to a Tea Party leader. Pew had all the symptoms: an obsession with the New Deal as a threat to free society, a keen appreciation for unreadable Austrian economist F.A. Hayek and a hoggish overuse of the word “freedom.” Pew and his family left nearly $1 billion to a series of trusts, one of which was naturally called the “Freedom Trust,” whose mission was, in part, to combat “the false promises of socialism and a planned economy.”

The Great American Bubble Machine

Still, for decades Pew trusts engaged in all sorts of worthy endeavors, including everything from polling to press criticism. In 2007, Pew began publishing an annual study called “The Widening Gap,” which aimed to use states’ own data to show the “gap” between present pension-fund levels and future obligations. The study quickly became a leading analysis of the “unfunded liability” question.

In 2011, Pew began to align itself with a figure who was decidedly neither centrist nor nonpartisan: 39-year-old John Arnold, whom CNN/Money described (erroneously) as the “second-youngest self-made billionaire in America,” after Mark Zuckerberg. Though similar in wealth and youth, Arnold presented the stylistic opposite of Zuckerberg’s signature nerd chic: He’s a lipless, eager little jerk with the jug-eared face of a Division III women’s basketball coach, exactly what you’d expect a former Enron commodities trader to look like. Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning documentary The Smartest Guys in the Room and remembers those tapes of Enron traders cackling about rigging energy prices on “Grandma Millie” and jamming electricity rates “right up her ass for fucking $250 a megawatt hour” will have a sense of exactly what Arnold’s work environment was like.

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

In fact, in the book that the movie was based on, the authors portray Arnold bragging about his minions manipulating energy prices, praising them for “learning how to use the Enron bat to push around the market.” Those comments later earned Arnold visits from federal investigators, who let him get away with claiming he didn’t mean what he said.

As Enron was imploding, Arnold played a footnote role, helping himself to an $8 million bonus while the company’s pension fund was vaporizing. He and other executives were later rebuked by a bankruptcy judge for looting their own company along with other executives. Public pension funds nationwide, reportedly, lost more than $1.5 billion thanks to their investments in Enron.

In 2002, Arnold started a hedge fund and over the course of the next few years made roughly a $3 billion fortune as the world’s most successful natural-gas trader. But after suffering losses in 2010, Arnold bowed out of hedge-funding to pursue “other interests.” He had created the Arnold Foundation, an organization dedicated, among other things, to reforming the pension system, hiring a Republican lobbyist and former chief of staff to Dick Armey named Denis Calabrese, as well as Dan Liljenquist, a Utah state senator and future Tea Party challenger to Orrin Hatch.

Soon enough, the Arnold Foundation released a curious study on pensions. On the one hand, it admitted that many states had been undercontributing to their pension funds for years. But instead of proposing that states correct the practice, the report concluded that “the way to create a sound, sustainable and fair retirement-savings program is to stop promising a [defined] benefit.”

In 2011, Arnold and Pew found each other. As detailed in a new study by progressive think tank Institute for America’s Future, Arnold and Pew struck up a relationship – and both have since been proselytizing pension reform all over America, including California, Florida, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky and Montana. Few knew that Pew had a relationship with a right-wing, anti-pension zealot like Arnold. “The centrist reputation of Pew was a key in selling a lot of these ideas,” says Jordan Marks of the National Public Pension Coalition. Later, a Pew report claimed that the national “gap” between pension assets and future liabilities added up to some $757 billion and dryly insisted the shortfall was unbridgeable, minus some combination of “higher contributions from taxpayers and employees, deep benefit cuts and, in some cases, changes in how retirement plans are structured and benefits are distributed.”

What the study didn’t say was that this supposedly massive gap could all be chalked up to the financial crisis, which, of course, had been caused almost entirely by the greed and wide-scale fraud of the financial-services industry – particularly with regard to state pension funds.

A study by noted economist Dean Baker at the Center for Economic Policy and Research bore this out. In February 2011, Baker reported that, had public pension funds not been invested in the stock market and exposed to mortgage-backed securities, there would be no shortfall at all. He said state pension managers were of course somewhat to blame, but only “insofar as they exercised poor judgment in buying the [finance] industry’s services.”

In fact, Baker said, had public funds during the crash years simply earned modest returns equal to 30-year Treasury bonds, then public-pension assets would be $850 billion richer than they were two years after the crash. Baker reported that states were short an additional $80 billion over the same period thanks to the fact that post-crash, cash-strapped states had been paying out that much less of their mandatory ARC payments.

So even if Pew’s numbers were right, the “unfunded liability” crisis had nothing to do with the systemic unsustainability of public pensions. Thanks to a deadly combination of unscrupulous states illegally borrowing from their pensioners, and unscrupulous banks whose mass sales of fraudulent toxic subprime products crashed the market, these funds were out some $930 billion. Yet the public was being told that the problem was state workers’ benefits were simply too expensive.

In a way, this was a repeat of a shell game with retirement finance that had been going on at the federal level since the Reagan years. The supposed impending collapse of Social Security, which actually should be running a surplus of trillions of dollars, is now repeated as a simple truth. But Social Security wouldn’t be “collapsing” at all had not three decades of presidents continually burgled the cash in the Social Security trust fund to pay for tax cuts, wars and God knows what else. Same with the alleged insolvencies of state pension programs. The money may not be there, but that’s not because the program is unsustainable: It’s because bankers and politicians stole the money.

Still, the public mostly bought the line being sold by Arnold, Pew and other anti-pension figures like the Koch brothers. To most, it didn’t matter who was to blame: What mattered is that the money was gone, and there seemed to be only two possible paths forward. One led to bankruptcy, a real-enough threat that had already ravaged places like Vallejo, California; Jefferson County, Alabama; and, this summer, Detroit. In Rhode Island, the tiny town of Central Falls went bust in 2011, and even after a court-ordered plan lifted the town out of bankruptcy in 2012, the “rescue” left pensions slashed as much as 55 percent. “You had guys who were living off $24,000, and now they’re getting $12,000,” says Day. Though Day and his fellow retirees are still fighting reform, he says other union workers might rather settle than file bankruptcy. Holding up an infamous local-newspaper picture of a retired Central Falls policeman in a praying posture, as though begging not to have his whole pension taken away, Day sighs. “Guys take one look at this picture and that’s it. They’re terrified.”

Such images chilled many public workers into accepting the second path – the kind of pension reform meagerly touted by one-percent-friendly politicians like Gina Raimondo. Anyone could see that “reform” meant giving up cash. But the other parts of these schemes were murkier. Most pension-reform proposals required that states must go after higher returns by seeking out “alternative investments,” which sounds harmless enough. But we are now finding out what that term actually means – and it’s a little north of harmless.

Looting Main Street: How the Nation’s Biggest Banks Are Ripping Us Off

One of the most garish early experiments in “alternative investments” came in Ohio in the late 1990s, after the Republican-controlled state assembly passed a law loosening restrictions on what kinds of things state funds could invest in. Sometime later, an investigation by the Toledo Blade revealed that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation had bought into rare-coin funds run by a GOP fundraiser named Thomas Noe. Through Noe, Ohio put $50 million into coins and “other collectibles” – including Beanie Babies.

The scandal had repercussions all over the country, but not what you’d expect. James Drew, one of the reporters who broke the story, notes that a consequence of “Coingate” was that states stopped giving out information about where public money is invested. “If they learned anything, it’s not to stop doing it, but to keep it secret,” says Drew.

Invasion of the Home Snatchers

In fact, in recent years more than a dozen states have carved out exemptions for hedge funds to traditional Freedom of Information Act requests, making it impossible in some cases, if not illegal, for workers to find out where their own money has been invested.

The way this works, typically, is simple: A hedge fund will refuse to take a state’s business unless it first provides legal guarantees that information about its investments won’t be disclosed to the public. The ostensible justifications for these outrageous laws are usually that disclosing commercial information about hedge funds would place them at a “competitive disadvantage.”

In 2010, the University of California reinvested its pension fund with a venture-capital group called Sequoia Capital, which in turn is a backer of a firm called Think Finance, whose business is payday lending – a form of short-term, extremely high-interest rate lending that’s basically loan-sharking without the leg-breaking, and is banned in 15 states and D.C. According to American Banker, Think Finance partnered with a Native American tribe to get around state interest-rate caps; someone borrowing $250 in its “plain green loans” program would owe $440 after 16 weeks, for a tidy annual percentage rate of 379 percent. In a more recent case, the pension fund of L.A. County union workers invested in an Embassy Suites hotel that is trying to prevent janitors and other employees from organizing. California passed a law in 2005 making hedge-fund investments secret.

The American Federation of Teachers this spring released a list of financiers who had been connected with lobbying efforts against defined-benefit plans. Included on that list was hedge-funder Loeb of Third Point Capital, who sits on the board of StudentsFirstNY, a group that advocates for an end to these traditional plans for public workers – that is, pensions that promise a guaranteed payout based on one’s salary and years of service. When Rhode Island union rep Reback complained about hiring funds whose managers had anti-labor histories, she was told the state couldn’t make decisions based on political leanings of fund managers. That same month, Rhode Island moved to disinvest its workers’ money from firearms distributors in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Hedge funds have good reason to want to keep their fees hidden: They’re insanely expensive. The typical fee structure for private hedge-fund management is a formula called “two and twenty,” meaning the hedge fund collects a two percent fee just for showing up, then gets 20 percent of any profits it earns with your money. Some hedge funds also charge a mysterious third fee, called “fund expenses,” that can run as high as half a percent – Loeb’s Third Point, for instance, charged Rhode Island just more than half a percent for “fund expenses” last year, or about $350,000. Hedge funds will also pass on their trading costs to their clients, a huge additional line item that can come to an extra percent or more and is seldom disclosed. There are even fees states pay for withdrawing from certain hedge funds.

In public finance, hedge funds will sometimes give slight discounts, but the numbers are still enormous. In Rhode Island, over the course of 20 years, Siedle projects that the state will pay $2.1 billion in fees to hedge funds, private-equity funds and venture-capital funds. Why is that number interesting? Because it very nearly matches the savings the state will be taking from workers by freezing their Cost of Living Adjustments – $2.3 billion over 20 years.

“That’s some ‘reform,’” says Siedle.

“They pretty much took the COLA and gave it to a bunch of billionaires,” hisses Day, Providence’s retired firefighter union chief.

When asked to respond to criticisms that the savings from COLA freezes could be seen as going directly into the pockets of billionaires, treasurer Raimondo replied that it was “very dangerous to look at fees in a vacuum” and that it’s worth paying more for a safer and more diverse portfolio. She compared hedge funds – inherently high-risk investments whose prospectuses typically contain front-page disclaimers saying things like, WARNING: YOU MAY LOSE EVERYTHING – to snow tires. “Sure, you pay a little more,” she says. “But you’re really happy you have them when the roads are slick.”

Raimondo recently criticized the high-fee structure of hedge funds in the Wall Street Journal and told Rolling Stone that “‘two and twenty’ doesn’t make sense anymore,” although she hired several funds at precisely those fee levels back before she faced public criticism on the issue. She did add that she was monitoring the funds’ performance. “If they underperform, they’re out,” she says.

And underperforming is likely. Even though hedge funds can and sometimes do post incredible numbers in the short-term – Loeb’s Third Point notched a 41 percent gain for Rhode Island in 2010; the following year, it earned -0.54 percent. On Wall Street, people are beginning to clue in to the fact – spikes notwithstanding – that over time, hedge funds basically suck. In 2008, Warren Buffett famously placed a million-dollar bet with the heads of a New York hedge fund called Protégé Partners that the S&P 500 index fund – a neutral bet on the entire stock market, in other words – would outperform a portfolio of five hedge funds hand-picked by the geniuses at Protégé.

Five years later, Buffett’s zero-effort, pin-the-tail-on-the-stock-market portfolio is up 8.69 percent total. Protégé’s numbers are comical in comparison; all those superminds came up with a 0.13 percent increase over five long years, meaning Buffett is beating the hedgies by nearly nine points without lifting a finger.

Union leaders all over the country have started to figure out the perils of hiring a bunch of overpriced Wall Street wizards to manage the public’s money. Among other things, investing with hedge funds is infinitely more expensive than investing with simple index funds. On Wall Street and in the investment world, the management price is measured in something called basis points, a basis point equaling one hundredth of one percent. So a state like Rhode Island, which is paying a two percent fee to hedge funds, is said to be paying an upfront fee of 200 basis points.

How much does it cost to invest public money in a simple index fund? “We’ve paid as little as .875 of a basis point,” says William Atwood, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Investment. “At most, five basis points.”

So at the low end, Atwood is paying 200 times less than the standard two percent hedge-fund fee. As an example, Atwood says, the state of Illinois paid a fee of just $57,000 last year on $550 million of public money they put into an S&P 500 index fund, which, again, is exactly the sort of plain-vanilla investment that Warren Buffett used to publicly kick the ass of Wall Street’s cockiest hedge fund.

The fees aren’t even the only costs of “alternative investments.” Many states have engaged middlemen called “placement agents” to hire hedge funds, and those placement agents – typically people with ties to state investment boards – are themselves paid enormous sums, often in the millions, just to “introduce” hedge funds to politicians holding the checkbook.

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail

In Kentucky, Tobe and Siedle found that KRS, the state pension funds, had paid a whopping $14 million to placement agents between 2004 and 2009. In Atlanta, a member of the city pension board complained to the SEC that the city had hired a consultant, Larry Gray, who convinced the city pension fund to invest $28 million in a hedge fund he himself owned. Raimondo says she never hired placement agents, but the state did pay a $450,000 consulting fee to a firm called Cliffwater LLC.

Doughty says the endless system of highly paid middlemen reminds him of old slapstick comedies. “It’s like the Three Stooges,” he says. “When you ask them what happened, they’re all pointing in different directions, like, ‘He did it!’”

How Wall Street Is Using the Bailout to Stage a Revolution

Even worse, placement agents are also often paid by the alternative investors. In California, the Apollo private-equity firm paid a former CalPERS board member named Alfred Villalobos a staggering $48 million for help in securing investments from state pensions, and Villalobos delivered, helping Apollo receive $3 billion of CalPERS money. Villalobos got indicted in that affair, but only because he’d lied to Apollo about disclosing his fees to CalPERS. Otherwise, despite the fact that this is in every way basically a crude kickback scheme, there’s no law at all against a placement agent taking money from a finance firm. The Government Accountability Office has condemned the practice, but it goes on.

“It’s a huge conflict of interest,” says Siedle.

So when you invest your pension money in hedge funds, you might be paying a hundred times the cost or more, you might be underperforming the market, you may be supporting political movements against you, and you often have to pay what effectively is a bribe just for the privilege of hiring your crappy overpaid money manager in the first place. What’s not to like about that? Who could complain?

Once upon a time, local corruption was easy. “It was votes for jobs,” Doughty says with a sigh. A ward would turn out for a councilman, the councilman would come back with jobs from city-budget contracts – that was the deal. What’s going on with public pensions is a more confusing modern version of that local graft. With public budgets carefully scrutinized by everyone from the press to regulators, the black box of pension funds makes it the only public treasure left that’s easy to steal. Politicians quietly borrow millions from these funds by not paying their ARCs, and it’s that money, plus the savings from cuts made to worker benefits in the name of “emergency” pension reform, that pays for an apparently endless regime of corporate tax breaks and handouts.

A notorious example in Rhode Island is, of course, 38 Studios, the doomed video-game venture of blabbering, Christ-humping ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who received a $75 million loan guarantee from the state at a time when local politicians were pleading poverty. “This whole thing isn’t just about cutting payments to retirees,” says syndicated columnist David Sirota, who authored the Institute for America’s Future study on Arnold and Pew. “It’s about preserving money for corporate welfare.” Their study estimates states spend up to $120 billion a year on offshore tax loopholes and gifts to dingbats like Schilling and other subsidies – more than two and a half times as much as the $46 billion a year Pew says states are short on pension payments.

The bottom line is that the “unfunded liability” crisis is, if not exactly fictional, certainly exaggerated to an outrageous degree. Yes, we live in a new economy and, yes, it may be time to have a discussion about whether certain kinds of public employees should be receiving sizable benefit checks until death. But the idea that these benefit packages are causing the fiscal crises in our states is almost entirely a fabrication crafted by the very people who actually caused the problem. It’s like Voltaire’s maxim about noses having evolved to fit spectacles, so therefore we wear spectacles. In this case, we have an unfunded-pension-liability problem because we’ve been ripping retirees off for decades – but the solution being offered is to rip them off even more.

Everybody following this story should remember what went on in the immediate aftermath of the crash of 2008, when the federal government was so worried about the sanctity of private contracts that it doled out $182 billion in public money to AIG. That bailout guaranteed that firms like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank could be paid off on their bets against a subprime market they themselves helped overheat, and that AIG executives could be paid the huge bonuses they naturally deserved for having run one of the world’s largest corporations into the ground. When asked why the state was paying those bonuses, Obama economic adviser Larry Summers said, “We are a country of law. . . . The government cannot just abrogate contracts.”

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

Now, though, states all over the country are claiming they not only need to abrogate legally binding contracts with state workers but also should seize retirement money from widows to finance years of illegal loans, giant fees to billionaires like Dan Loeb and billions in tax breaks to the Curt Schillings of the world. It ain’t right. If someone has to tighten a belt or two, let’s start there. If we’ve still got a problem after squaring those assholes away, that’s something that can be discussed. But asking cops, firefighters and teachers to take the first hit for a crisis caused by reckless pols and thieves on Wall Street is low, even by American standards.

This story is from the October 10th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-the-pension-funds-20130926

Corporate Child Abuse: The Unseen Global Epidemic

October 4th, 2013 by Prof. John McMurtry

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul”, Nelson Mandela says, “than the way in which it treats its children”.

Who would disagree?

Yet today children may be assaulted, diseased, or killed by pervasive corporate drugs, junk-foods and beverages, perverted by mindless violence in multiple modes, deployed as dead-end labour with no benefits, and then dumped into a corporate future of debt enslavement and meaningless work. How could this increasing systematic abuse be publicly licensed at every level? What kind of society could turn a blind eye to its dominant institutions laying waste the lives of the young and humanity’s future itself?

The abuse is built into the system. All rights of child care-givers themselves – from parent workers to social life support systems – are written out of corporate ‘trade’ treaties which override legislatures to guarantee “investor profits” as their sole ruling goal.  Children are at the bottom, and most dispossessed by the life-blind global system. The excuse of “more competitive conditions” means, in fact, a race to the bottom of wages and benefits for families, social security, debt-free higher education, and protections against toxic environments to which the young are most vulnerable. At the same time, escalating sales of junk foods, malnutrition, and cultural debasement propel the sole growth achieved – ever more money demand at the top.

The mechanisms of abuse are not tempered by reforms as in the past, but deepened and widened.  Omnibus Harper budgets stripping even scientific and social fact-finding bodies and transnational foreign corporate rights dictated in the name of “Trans-Pacific Partnership” and “Canada-Europe Trade Agreement” advance the Great Dispossession further. An unasked question joins the dots, but is taboo to pose. What war, ecological or social collapse is not now propelled by rapidly creeping corporate rights to loot and pollute societies, ecosystems and – least considered – the young?   

I explain the entire system in the expanded second edition of the Cancer Stage of Capitalism. Omnivorous money sequences of the corporate rich multiply through their life hosts overriding social life defences at every level and silencing critics. None are bound to serve any life support function but only to maximize profits. They surround, they intimidate, they bribe and threaten with corporate lobby armies to overrun legislatures and launch attack ads and wars with the mass media as their propaganda vehicles. All the classical properties of bullying abuse are there – pervasive one-way demands, ganging up, threats of force, false pretexts, weaker opponents picked on and exploited, and brutal attack of what resists. Yet bullies are seen only among the young themselves, while government in the interest of children’s well-being is increasingly sacrificed to the fanatic doctrine that the market God’s “invisible hand” is Providence and all commodities are “goods”. 

How Corporate Abuse Moves to the Insides of Children 

Recall General Electric frontman and U.S. president Ronald Reagan broadcasting the post-1980 war against  unions, peace activists, environmentalists, and any community not subservient to U.S. corporate rights. Tiny and starving Nicaragua which had arisen against U.S.-backed tyranny by bringing public education and health benefits to poverty-stricken children was singled out for example. “All they have to do is say ‘Uncle’, Reagan smirked to the press when questioned on what Nicaragua could do to stop the U.S. attacks. They did not and the U.S. mined their central harbour and financed Contras with drug money for weapons to attack and burn the schools and clinics. The Reagan government and the media then ignored the six-billion dollar judgement of the International Court of Justice against the war crimes and the false claim of “self defense”. Abusers always continue if not named and children are always the primary victims.

With now the bank-engineered collapse of social-democratic Europe, oil-rich opponents cleared for corporate looting across the Middle East, and the Earth’s primary life support systems in slow motion collapse, we are apt to overlook the direct corporate invasion of the minds and bodies of children. As elsewhere, “giving them what they want” is the justification. And all the buttons are pushed to hook the young to addictive corporate products – child and adolescent fear of being left out, addictive desires for more sugar, salt and fat, primeval fascination with images of violence and destruction, craving for attention in stereotype forms, inertial boredom with no life function, the loss of social play areas by the great defunding, restless compulsion to distraction, and black hole ego doubts. All the enticements to addictive and unhealthy products form a common pattern of child abuse, and it is far more life disabling than any in the past. Beneath detection, a pathogenenic epidemic grows.

In response to commodity diseases from skyrocketing obesity and unfitness to unprecedented youth depression and psychic numbing to violence, almost no public life standards of what is pushed to the young are allowed into the super-lucrative market. Even while children’s growing consumption of multiplying junk foods, pharma drugs, and life-destructive entertainments addict them to what may in the end ruin their lives, preventative life standards are furiously lobbied against. As Joel Bakan’s Childhood Under Siege/ How Big Business Targets Your Children shows, the systemic abuse is ignored, denied and blocked against public regulation. Even with deadly diabetes by junk foods and beverages and hormonal disruption and body poisoning by the countless untested chemicals, materials and drugs fed into their lives, the young find no protection from this systematic and growing corporate abuse, not even mandatory package information to prevent their still rising profitable disorders of body and mind.

Understanding Corporate Child Abuse  as System Pathology

Bakan’s classic film and book, The Corporation, has revealed step by step the “corporation as psychopath”. Professor of law as well as parent, he recalls the “overarching idea” of modern civilization which has been aggressively pushed aside: “that children and childhood need the kind of public protection  and support that only society could offer” (p. 164). Now he observes, the big corporations are “free to – - pitch unhealthy ideas and products- – to pressure scientists and physicians to boost sales of their psychotropic drugs – - – to turn children’s environments – indeed their very bodies – into toxic stews – - and to profit from school systems increasingly geared to big business” (p. 164). Horrendous hours and hazards of child labour are what has long attracted attention, and Bakan reports that these are returning today (e.g., pp. 129-38).

R.D. Laing’s classic Massey lecture, The Politics of the Family goes deeper than issues of child labour by arguing that the young are made to live inside a dramatic play whose roles are mapped from one generation to the next. They are “good” or “bad” as they follow or resist the roles imposed on them.  The sea-change today is that the stage and script are dictated by the pervasive marketing of big-business corporations (pp. 3-5 and passim). They set the stages and the props of youth activities and dreams across domains of sport, peer play and relations, identity formation, eating and drinking, creative expression, clinical care, increasingly schooling, and even sleeping. Their ads condition children from the crib onwards and hard-push harmful addicting substances. This is why, for example, “only 1% of all ads for food are for healthy nourishment” (p. 210). Selling unhealthy desires through every window of impressionable minds has multiplied so that almost no region of life including schools is free from the total agenda.

All the while corporately-controlled governments abdicate an ultimate obligation of modern government – enabling protection of the young’s lives and humanity’s healthy future. On pervasive corporate violence products, for example, the American Medical Association reports: “Aggressive and violent thought and behaviour are systematically induced in virtually all children by corporate games” (p. 201). The occupation of childhood and youth has now reached 9 to11 hours daily for ages 8-to-18-year-olds who are glued to multi-media orchestrated by commercial corporations (p. 207).   Children are motivated by unneeded desires and adaptation to a surrounding culture which has a “panopticon marketing system” to hook into their “deep emotions” (pp. 17-27). Non-stop repetition of slogans and false images substitute for reason and life care, and the logic of ads is that you are defective without the product. In essence, addictive dependency to junk commodities of every kind drives the growth of corporate sales and disablement of children’s life capacities follows. What greater abuse of children could there be?

Bakan reports copious findings on Big Pharma buying doctors with favours, planting articles in name journals, inventing child illnesses to prescribe medications to, and drugging the young from infancy on with the unsafe substances they push (pp. 65-114). Along with the corporate invasion of children’s healthcare goes the invasion of public education (pp. 139-71, 245-56). Administrators with now corporate executive salaries for no educational function collaborate with the agenda, and mechanical testing devices closed to independent academic examination  are the Trojan horse for a mass lock-step of miseducation (pp. 140-62).  Bakan is aware that the whole trend of corporatization of the classroom and educational institutions “undermines the role of education in promoting critical thought and intelligent reflection” (p. 47). Indeed it wars against them in principle. For reasoning and critical research require learners to address problems independently of corporate profits and to penetrate behind market-conditioned beliefs. Big-business demands the opposite. It maximizes money returns as its first and final principle of thought and judgement, and selects against any truth or knowledge conflicting with this goal.

Corporate child abuse, in short, far surpasses all other forms of child abuse put together. But in a world where both parents are at work to survive and big money always wins elections, the life interests of children are bullied out of view. “Corporations [are] large, powerful and dominating institutions”, Bakan summarizes, “deliberately programmed to exploit and neglect others in pursuit of wealth for themselves” (p. 175).

 So what is the resolution? Bakan emphasizes the pre-cautionary principle and laws against clear harms to the young.  He emphasizes “values” and “teaching what is good for them and what is not” (pp. 49-50). Yet we have no principled criterion of either.  They are self-evident once seen. The good for children is whatever enables life capacities to coherently grow, and the bad is whatever disables them.  Corporate dominion goes the opposite direction. Thus unfitness, obesity, depression, egoic fantasies, aggressive violence, and aimlessness increase the more its profitable child abuse runs out of  control.  This is the heart of our disorder. Public regulation of corporations by tested life-capacity standards is the solution.

 John McMurtry is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and author of What is Good? What is Bad? The Value of All Values Across Time, Place and Theories UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). His expanded second edition of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure has just been released across continents.

Syria is NOT a Civil War, It Is a Foreign Intervention

October 4th, 2013 by James Corbett

Syria is entering a new stage of secular-on-extremist violence, with the collective war against President Assad almost sidelined by the growing mayhem. Outside plans for chaos have begun uncontrollably to shift the war, according to a number of experts.

Analyst and editor of the Corbett Report, James Corbett, feels it important to emphasize the gap between the motives displayed by various factions inside Syria and the initial aim of external powers to remove Assad.

This view is furthered by professor of international relations Mark Almond, who believes that a diffuse groupings all dangerously seeking personal gain may put disarmament process off the rails.

On one hand, the Syrian conflict is seen as painstakingly planned and funded chaos from outside in Corbett’s view. On the other are several civil wars within the main struggle, which are prone to constant shifts in allegiances due to the aforementioned chaos, according to Almond.

RT: What exactly are the radical Islamists fighting for in Syria?

James Corbett: Well, I don’t think we have to go very far out on a limb to discover what they are fighting for. We can take it from the words of the international terror bogeyman spokesperson and US collaborator Ayman al-Zawahiri, who used the opportunity of his 9/11 12th anniversary audio message to specifically call for Islamic fighters in Syria to not cooperate with non-Islamic fighters.

The end goal of that is of course Jihad for the purpose of establishing an Islamic state, and that’s exactly what motivates these fighters specifically to commit mass executions, taking over entire towns, killing men, women and children with impunity, filming themselves eating hearts and livers of some of the people that they’ve killed. And other atrocities in this conflict have been waged for the specific purpose of establishing an Islamic state.

RT: And how does the increase in fighting among opposition forces affect the positions of the Syrian government?

JC: I suppose from the Syrian government’s point of view, having a divided opposition is a good thing, but I don’t know if it makes much of a difference because there are about 10,000 of these Islamic fighters and they are by far the largest percentage in terms of the fighting force on the ground in Syria. They are the ones that are most actively engaged in the fight, because these tend to be the battle-hardened Jihadists who have spent time in other places such as Chechnya and elsewhere, learning how to commit Jihad. So they are the ones taking the brunt of the actual fight.

Even if it does mean that the more moderate rebels – quote unquote – have been sidelined in this conflict, it still means that the Syrian army is still basically fighting against an army of 10,000 Jihadists, and these are the people who seem to have the least scruples when it comes to the way that they engage in this conflict and the extent they’re willing to go to.

Rebel fighters prepare explosive devices to be used during fighting against Syrian government forces on September 7, 2013 in Syria's eastern town of Deir Ezzor. (AFP Photo)Rebel fighters prepare explosive devices to be used during fighting against Syrian government forces on September 7, 2013 in Syria’s eastern town of Deir Ezzor. (AFP Photo) 

RT: What unites these opposition rebels is their hatred of President Assad. Why is it so hard for them to come together and fight as a single front?

JC: Well, I think it’s based on the fundamentally mistaken assumption that’s often purveyed in the media that what’s happening in Syria is some sort of civil war, some sort of internal conflict, and a lot of narrative has been framed around that. But I think it’s fundamentally false to assert that. I think we have to understand what’s happening in Syria as the planned result of a nearly decade-long intervention: foreign-funded, foreign-armed, foreign-supplied, foreign-trained intervention in Syria that has been arming and training Syrian opposition groups – on the record, documentably – back to the Bush administration, as far back as 2006. They were starting to train the opposition forces in Syria.

So we have to understand that this is not some sort of spontaneous uprising; and that as a result there are many different outside forces, including the United States, including the Saudis, the Qataris and others, who are funding and financing their own fighters to go into this conflict. And many of them are motivated for different reasons and are there for different opportunities and some are motivated as mercenaries, others by Jihad and the chance of establishing an Islamic state. But just because they have the same goal of overthrowing the Assad government doesn’t mean they are there for the same reasons.

RT: We heard some of those rebel groups have refused to honor the international agreement on the chemical disarmament of Syria. Will they be able to hamper the whole process?

JC: Very easily so, and I think we can see exactly what‘s kicked off this entire process in the first place. The August 21 attacks in Ghouta, which still there has not been one shred of evidence to suggest that it has been coming from the Syrian government. The weapons inspectors did not conclude that, it was beyond the mandate of their investigation. And in fact all of the evidence continues to point to the fact that it was an attack launched by the rebel groups as a sort of false-flag provocation in order to cross the ‘red line,’ in order to get military intervention from the US and its allies. And in the exact same vein all it would take is one such similar incident for it to be immediately again be blamed on the Assad government and used again as an excuse for calling off that UN Security Council resolution.

So it’s very easy to get this disarmament process off the rails. It would be much more difficult to see this through to completion, even if everyone at the table has the best intentions. All it takes is one rogue group with access to chemical weapons to commit an attack and derail the entire process.

A member of the Islamic Kurdish Front aims at a position of fellow Kurdish fighters from the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) during clashes with the militia, reportedly set up to protect the Kurdish areas in Syria from opposing forces, on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, on August 23, 2013. (AFP Photo)A member of the Islamic Kurdish Front aims at a position of fellow Kurdish fighters from the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) during clashes with the militia, reportedly set up to protect the Kurdish areas in Syria from opposing forces, on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, on August 23, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Islamic rebels ‘hijacking’ civil war

RT: The radical rebel factions – do you think they are capable of hijacking the civil war and dictating their own rules to the secular opposition?

Mark Almond: Yes, in some ways they are more dangerous to the secular opponents of Assad than to the Assad regime. One basic problem is that the radical Islamic rebels are not any better motivated. They have an ideology to fight the war, but also they are better funded and better equipped. And so they are both in a position to show themselves as leaders in the fight against Assad, even though they’re not really a threat to his regime. But more importantly, they can silence and intimidate those groups in Syria in the areas where they dominate, who don’t particularly like their brand of Islam.

And indeed there are critics of the whole idea that having a Jihad against Assad is a way to overthrow him, because it seems in fact to have pushed a large number of people who may have been dissatisfied with the regime to say “At least the Assad regime is secular, at least it has certain rules. We would be completely at the mercy with rather arbitrary interpretations of Islam, who impose them brutally.”

RT: International mediators are pushing for peace talks between Damascus and the secular opposition. Can they be brought to the table as well?

MA: Well, it’s not impossible. But the problem of course is that it’s very difficult for the people who want to have a peace conference in the West to admit that we have any kind of contacts with these people, because after all they’re supposed to represent the terrorist threat on a global scale, which since 9/11 has been a threat to America and its European allies.

So the idea that we can somehow negotiate with these people is problematic, even though ion practice, of course, there are under-the-table contacts, after all. Turkey – a NATO country provides them with a hinterland through which they’re able to operate. Large numbers of foreign fighters – I’ve seen this myself from Tunisia, for instance – come via Turkey, going to Syria. So there is in fact, if you like, a NATO ‘necessary’ link with these radical groups. They couldn’t really operate in northern Syria without the connivance and, at least, toleration without Turkey and, by extension, NATO partners.

Rebel fighters from the Al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade pose for picture as they attend a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman mountains, in Syria's northern Latakia province, on April 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)Rebel fighters from the Al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade pose for picture as they attend a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman mountains, in Syria’s northern Latakia province, on April 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

RT: Of course the US and its allies have pumped more than a billion dollars’ worth of support to the Syrian rebels. But is there any way to be sure the money doesn’t end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda?

MA: This is a huge problem; the idea that you could vet with people who get the weapons. There are a large number of groups. Some of them are just local people; some are radicals from within Syria, some from outside. And there’s a constant mixing up of people: one group asserts itself, may have a bit of money, and may get some success, draws supporters. It then falls out with other groups. After all, we’re seeing in several places in northern Syrian the fighting between the more radical groups – not just between them and the secular opposition, but also between those who claim to be the really true Jihadists against the people they say aren’t Islamic enough, even though they might seem to most outsiders to be fairly sever fundamentalists.

So there isn’t just a civil war within a civil war, but several local civil wars within this conflict in Syria. And I think anybody who thinks that the West can pick and choose who are the good guys and the bad guys is very naïve.

RT: You briefly mentioned this already, but what are the prospects of extremist elements spilling over Syria’s borders and destabilizing neighboring countries there?

MA: Well, we see already in Iraq, for instance, a lot of the violence in Iraq is carried out by the same group that carries out car bombings and attacks in Syria as well. There’s the risk to Turkey, because, of course, inside Turkey it’s a very, very, hot topic as to whether the government is wise to pursue the policy towards Syria that it has done; it could spill over into Lebanon, into Jordan; but it could also cause more danger, from the perspective of people in the countries who are supplying the funding to the rebel groups.

Maybe some of the foreign Jihadists who’ve come down to Syria to fight, who’ve taken their experience in making car bombs and carrying out assassinations and so on, back into western Europe, back into, perhaps, even the rich Gulf states who fund it. So the danger is, to me, is that Syria could become this seabed for terrorism and instability, and even just violent crime, across much of the world that, at the moment, sees itself as looking on as spectators, but could well find that it has sparked a tsunami of terrorism and disorder that could spread.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


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Gen. Keith B. Alexander (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

The administration has been amping up stats about foiled plots to bolster support for mass surveillance.

In so many words, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted Wednesday that the Obama administration had issued misleading information about terror plots and their foiling to bolster support for the government’s vast surveillance apparatus.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange:

“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” said Leahy. The Vermont Democrat then asked the NSA chief to admit that only 13 out of a previously cited 54 cases of foiled plots were genuinely the fruits of the government’s vast dragnet surveillance systems:

“These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled,” Leahy said, asking Alexander, “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”

“Yes,” replied Alexander.

Proof positive of what many of us have long posited: that under the flimsy guise of a targeted War on Terror, the surveillance state has established itself with little regard for an honest relationship with the American public.

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email [email protected].

A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs August 21, 2013 (Reuters/Ammar Dar)

The August chemical weapons attack in the Syrian capital’s suburbs was done by a Saudi Arabian black operations team, Russian diplomatic sources have told a Russian news agency.

“Based on data from a number of sources a picture can be pieced together. The criminal provocation in Eastern Ghouta was done by a black op team that the Saudi’s sent through Jordan and which acted with support of the Liwa Al-Islam group,” a source in the diplomatic circles told Interfax.

The attack and its consequences had a huge impact on the Syrian situation, another source said.

“Syrians of various political views, including some opposition fighters, are seeking to inform diplomats and members of international organizations working in Syria what they know about the crime and the forces which inspired it,” he told the agency.

Liwa Al-Islam is an Islamist armed group operating near Damascus headed by the son of a Saudi-based Salafi cleric. The group claimed responsibility for the bombing of a secret governmental meeting in Damascus in July 2012 that killed a number of top Syrian officials, including Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, his deputy Asef Shawkat, and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani.

The allegations mirror a number of earlier reports, which pointed to Saudi Arabia as the mastermind behind the sarin gas attack, which almost led to US military action against Syrian government. Proponents of this scenario say intelligence services in Riyadh needed a false flag operation to provoke an American attack in Syria, which would tip the balance in favor of the armed opposition supported by Saudi Arabia.

While the majority of Western countries say they are certain that the Syrian government carries the blame for the attack, Damascus maintains that the rebel forces must be behind it. Russia shares this conviction too, calling the incident a provocation.

Back in March US President Barack Obama said the use of chemical weapons would be a ‘red line’ for the Syrian government, crossing which would prompt America’s intervention into the bloody Syrian conflict. After the August attack, which the US believes has claimed some 1,400 lives, the president was called on his words by many supporters of the Syrian opposition both at home and outside of the US.

The plan for military action was put on pause after a Russia-brokered deal with Damascus, which agreed to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons. Experts from OPCW are currently in Syria preparing for the disarmament.

Back in March, US President Barack Obama said the use of chemical weapons would be a ‘red line’ for the Syrian government, crossing which would prompt America’s intervention in the bloody Syrian conflict. After the August attack, which the US believes has claimed some 1,400 lives, the president was called to act on his words by many supporters of the Syrian opposition both at home and outside the US.

Earlier a UN report concluded that nerve gas had indeed been used “on a large scale” in August. However, the consistency of the findings is under question.

According to the report, none of the environmental samples the UN collected in Western Ghouta tested positive for Sarin, while biomedical samples, taken from affected people, all tested positive.

RT’s Worlds Apart host Oksana Boyko has spoken to Angela Kane, UN high representative for disarmament affairs, who has just returned from Damascus.

“If you read the report, the report comes out and says sarin was used. It is also a matter that maybe in the environmental samples they took there was no sarin found, but that does not mean that sarin was not used,” Kane told Worlds Apart. “It was there in the human samples. If they had more time to go around they would have found different samples. It was a limited collection that they did, but the collection was conclusive. I think, it was very comprehensive, therefore, we shared all of those samples with the Syrian government.”

At the same time, there have been concerns voiced that witnesses the UN team spoke to were brought by the opposition from different regions and did not live in Western Ghouta.

“I think it is not possible to say ‘We brought them all from a different area.’ To my mind that is inconceivable. You can come up with the theory, but this does not mean the theory is correct,” Kane said.

The recent Conservative Party Conference in Manchester has seen the Tories putting forward harmful proposals targeting lower income families and young people. It is a continuation of aggression against the average Briton that began as soon as the ruling coalition of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats came to power, with such notorious policies such as the Bedroom Tax, the tripling of tuition fees, and the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

Disabled and mentally ill people are subjected to humiliating evaluations by Atos, the government contractor who is tasked, it seems, with getting people off welfare by any means possible. Suicides have skyrocketed as a result, as people who can barely survive as it is are told they are able to work, and have their financial support stopped.

The Tory leadership, however, seem to think that they need to do more to make the lives of the working class in Britain harder. After many months of a steady demonization campaign in the right wing media portraying those struggling to find work and/or receiving financial aid from the state as parasites bleeding Britain dry, the Conservatives clearly felt it was time to really put the boot in, claiming a desire to tackle the alleged ‘something for nothing’ culture that all poor people apparently subscribe to. No mention, of course, of the ‘something for nothing’ culture that the Tory Party’s friends in the banking sector have enjoyed.

Those under the age of twenty-five will no longer be entitled to Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit should the Conservatives win the 2015 General Election, according to David Cameron. Such policies will be disastrous for young Brits, and may lead to mass homelessness as young people struggle to find work and are left with nothing, not even a roof over their heads. Any idea that said young adults can simply stay with their parents until they are twenty-five is impractical. Care leavers are released from the system aged eighteen. Some young adults leave home early to escape abusive households. And if a young adult leaves home after school, somehow finds a job, and then loses said job before they reach twenty-five, they may find that moving back in with their parents is not an option, as their parents may have had to downsize their home due to the Bedroom Tax.

And if young people are not earning, then the Tories say they should be learning. And you can see how enthusiastic they are for people to learn, what with the aforementioned tripling of tuition fees. But then, any exploitative ruling class knows that an educated working class is dangerous to them, so it is not surprising to see the poor being scared off by such outrageous fees. One suspects it is also the reason the ConDem coalition gutted the British movie industry by abolishing the UK Film Council in 2010. Better for British film makers to concentrate on big-budget patriotic drivel and romcom fluff than films that make people think.

Generally, people who have struggled to find work and have been getting by on Jobseekers Allowance have been highlighted by the Tories as especially undesirable, regardless of their age. It has been suggested that those on JSA do one of three things to justify their benefits – work for ‘free’, spend thirty-five hours a week in a branch of Jobcentre Plus searching for jobs while being watched over by staff, or join training courses presumably aimed at making attendees more employable.

The third option is a laughable gimmick. It does not matter how much training someone does to spruce up one’s CV if there are not enough jobs to go around. It is simple mathematics – if there are three million people unemployed and only five hundred thousand jobs available, then the majority will not be able to find work. And where have the jobs gone? Britain used to be an industrial powerhouse. What happened? Why, neoliberalism happened, of course. Far better for the shareholders if the jobs are shipped overseas to be worked by people in third world countries who won’t ask for anywhere near as much money as workers in Britain would.

Then there’s the first option. Most JSA recipients receive less than the national minimum wage. If they are forced to work for corporations for less than minimum wage, it will undermine those currently working on minimum wage, and may in fact lead to greater unemployment as corporations make those current workers redundant in an effort to improve the bottom line. One could be forgiven for suspecting that this is something that appeals greatly to the sociopathic neoliberals of the Tory Party.

As does, no doubt, the second option. Jobcentres are, allegedly, there to help the unemployed to find work. Turning them into holding pens for the unemployed would no doubt mean lucrative contracts to private security firms such as G4S and Serco, who will be charged with overseeing the undesirables. And obviously, holding someone in a building for thirty-five hours a week will not somehow create extra jobs. You cannot apply for something that isn’t there. Do not be surprised if, should these proposals become reality, violence because commonplace at Jobcentres as frustration and hopelessness set in. The atmosphere inside Jobcentres are often tense on a quiet day, and it’s not just from the clients. The staff are overworked and are constantly made to jump through bureaucratic hoops as their superiors try to find new ways to deliver the impossible, or, one could be forgiven for suspecting, to try and find an excuse to stop peoples’ benefits.

So what happens if you’re young and out of work? Work for less than a living wage in one of the most expensive countries on the planet? Take on the crippling debt of the tuition fees? Join the military and go fight resource wars? The Tories claim these sadistic policies will encourage entrepreneurship. They may be more accurate than they realise. People may turn to crime to get by. But if you’re a shareholder in G4S or Serco, this is a good thing. A Prison Industrial Complex similar to that in the United States is there to be built, with slave labour courtesy of the new wave of convicts ensuring maximum profits. But whichever path you take it results in massive profits for corporations and their tame, millionaire front men in the British Government.

Understandably, reaction to these new proposals has been scathing. Parents fear for their children’s future. Young people, already struggling, feel persecuted. Poor people expect to be squeezed even harder. Many accuse the Tories of being out of touch. However, the political Elites of Britain certainly appear to know how angry they are making people. And they do not care. There is money to be made, people to exploit and abuse, resources to seize.

To protect themselves, they encourage police brutality, holding lacklustre inquiries into deaths of civilians at the hands of police officers. They arm officers with tasers, allowing people to be tortured by the constabulary. British citizens should thankful that British police do not, as a rule, carry firearms, or Britons could be subject to the kind of wanton murderous violence that American police officers visit daily upon US citizens. And let us not forget, it was such police barbarity, arrogance, and unaccountability that led to poor and marginalised people tearing large swathes of British cities to pieces in 2011.

During his speech at the Tory Party conference, Cameron hailed social workers, saying they do ‘an important job’. If the young and the poor find that due to the actions of the ConDem coalition that they are left with nothing to lose, they may become like the proverbial cornered fox, and the political Elites of Britain may find that they will need far more than social workers to protect them. Fortunate for them then, that private security contractors will be there to pick up the contracts to save them, as will elements of the police who are fond of wading into pitched street battles with their fellow serfs. Divide and conquer.

On Sep. 30, the 22nd anniversary of the 1991 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien to demand two things: “Martelly must go! MINUSTAH must go!”

Knowing this agenda, the day before over 100 delegates representing about two dozen different popular organizations from all of Haiti’s ten departments gathered at the Fany Villa Reception Center in Port-au-Prince to reflect on and debate a proposal on how to form a provisional government which could lead the country to free, fair, and sovereign elections after Martelly’s departure from power, which all of the delegates felt would be coming in the days ahead, one way or another.

The proposal was made by the Kòwòdinasyon Desalin or Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new formation headed by several prominent veterans of Haiti’s democratic struggle over the past 25 years.

“We are sure that the U.S. Embassy has made its plans for what to do after the Haitian people have chased Martelly and [Prime Minister Laurent] Lamothe from power,” said one KOD leader, Yves Pierre-Louis, who is also Haïti Liberté’s Port-au Prince Bureau Chief. “The Haitian people also have to work out their plans so that Washington, Paris, and Ottawa don’t simply impose another puppet on Haiti, as they have done so often over the past two decades.”

...

The essence of KOD’s proposal is the formation of a 13 member Council of State which would lead the country with a judge drawn from Haiti’s Supreme Court. The Council of State’s members would be drawn from key sectors of Haitian society: peasant organizations, popular organizations, political parties, non-aligned parties, women’s organizations, unions, the business sector, vodou, Protestant, and Catholic sectors, students, young people, and civil society.

“The Council of State would sit down with the Supreme Court judge to find a democratic formula to name a government,” the KOD proposal reads. “That government would put in place a democratic Provisional Electoral Council which would hold a general election in the country for all the empty posts in a time frame of no more than six months.”

KOD proposed that Haiti should accept no international financing for those elections which comes with any strings attached. “We would not refuse” any solidarity offered from foreign nations, “but they cannot meddle in Haiti’s internal affairs,” the proposal reads. “They can give their support, but without any conditions.”

In the same vein, the proposal calls on the 9,000 occupation troops of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave the country immediately. “The last MINUSTAH soldier should leave the country no later than May 2014, just as [a Haitian] Senate resolution [passed in May] demands,” said the proposal.

KOD works with a host of popular organizations which were also instrumental in organizing the Popular Forum such as the National Movement for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity of Haitians (MOLEGHAF), the Patriotic Force for Respect of the Constitution (FOPARK), the National Popular Platform (PNP), the Movement for the Survival of Haitian Society (MOSSOH), the Organization of Young Progressives of Avenue Pouplar (OJPAP), Organization for National Progress (OPNA), the Great Space Reflection for Social Integration (GERES), the Awakened Militants for Another Haiti (MRH), and the Popular Assembly for Change in La Saline (RPCS).

Many organizations from Haiti’s provinces also sent delegates to the Forum, including groups like the Organization of Young Patriots for the Development of Baradères (OPDB), the League of Progressive Youth from Grande Rivière du Nord, Pòt la from the Artibonite, and the Revolutionary Movement for the Development of the North West (MRDNO), and OPDSIC from the Grande Anse.

There were also international delegates who attended from the Guadeloupe Haiti Tour Committee and the International Support Haiti Network in the United States, and from the Travayè e Péyizan (Workers and Peasants) organization in Guadeloupe. Messages of solidarity were also sent from unions and parties in Brazil and Argentina.

The meeting was chaired by two other KOD leaders, Oxygène David and Pierre Michaël, who kept the speeches moving at an efficient clip. FOPARK’s Biwon Odigé, whose organization initiated the call for a massive march on Sep. 30, also shared the podium.

“Overall, the delegates welcomed and received well KOD’s proposal which was presented at the beginning of the day,” said another KOD leader, Mario Joseph, one of Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyers, at an Oct. 1 press conference at the Office of International Lawyers (BAI). “The delegates divided themselves into eight workshops which met for almost two hours to analyze the proposal. Afterwards, each workshop presented a summary of the delegates’ reflections on how to reinforce and enrich the proposal. In the days ahead, a committee of synthesis will review the reports of each workshop to draw up a final resolution. All popular organizations who approve the final resolution can sign it, even if there are some who were not able to participate in the Sep. 29 Popular Forum.”

Lawyer André Michel, who has been severely persecuted for bringing a corruption lawsuit against the Martelly government, also attended the Forum, as did outspoken Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, who electrified the room with his address.

“Today we will try, even if we have only a little time, to bring a little light to the battle we are leading as political militants,” said Sen. Moïse. “We are clear about it: the international community has an agenda for Haiti. In 1990, we disrupted their plans and elected our own government. Seven months later, they carried out a bloody coup d’état. Since then, it is they who have imposed what they want in Haiti. This cannot continue. They imposed President Martelly on us. They imposed Laurent Lamothe on us…. It is we, the Haitian people, who have to take our destiny in hand. And that is what we are beginning to do here today.”

In concluding its proposal, KOD wrote that the Martelly administration along with the embassies of Washington, Paris, and Ottawa “will say that what we propose is not legal, is not acceptable…. But when the imperialists make a coup or an illegal election, even when the people reject it, they don’t care… What we propose is more democratic, more authentic, more honest and more sovereign than any of the maneuvers the imperialists have carried out in Haiti. It is time for the Haitian people to stop taking orders from the colonists. We have to construct our own democracy, because we are a nation, not a colony. We are our own masters.”

 by Corporate Europe Observatory

As the second round of negotiations on the proposed EU-US trade agreement kick off in Brussels next week, a new report published by the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) [1] today reveals the true human and environmental costs of an EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP/TAFTA). The report shows that the promises of job creation and growth are illusions; and that the real impetus behind a deal comes from major EU and US corporations that have joined forces to remove as many labour, health and environmental standards as possible in a devastating race to the bottom.

A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership highlights how the European Commission’s bold promises of up to 1% GDP growth and massive job creation through the EU-US trade deal are not supported even by its own studies, which rather predict a trivial growth rate of just 0.01% GDP over the next 10 years and the potential loss of jobs in several economic sectors, including agriculture.

 The report also explains how the corporations are lobbying EU-US trade negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards as well as undermine digital rights. Attempts to strengthen banking regulation in the face of the financial crisis could also be jeopardised as the financial lobby uses the secretive trade negotiations to undo financial reforms such as restrictions on the total value of financial transactions or the legal form of its operations.

“Big business lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic view the secretive trade negotiations as a weapon for getting rid of policies aimed at protecting European and US consumers, workers and our planet”, said Kim Bizzarri, the author of the report. “If their corporate wish-list is implemented, it will concentrate even more economic and political power within the hands of a small elite, leaving all of us without protection from corporate wrongdoings.”

The report also warns that the investment chapter of a proposed EU-US trade agreement could open the floodgate to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations, challenging democratic policies at international tribunals if they interfere with their profits.

To shine light on these unprecedented corporate privileges, the S2B network, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute, have also published today an updated analysis (A transatlantic corporate bill of rights) of the leaked Commission proposals for so-called investor-state dispute settlement under the proposed EU-US deal.

 Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory and author of A transatlantic corporate bill of rights, said: “The proposed investor rights in the transatlantic trade deal show what it is really about: It’s a power grab from corporations to rein in democracy and handcuff governments that seek to regulate in the public interest. It’s only a matter of time before European citizens start paying the price in higher taxes and diminished social protection.”

Both reports highlight how consumer watchdogs, digital rights and trade activists, environmentalists and trade unions are preparing to fight the corporate dystopia put forward in the EU-US trade deal [2].

Luis Rico of Ecologistas en Acción, a member of the Seattle to Brussels network said: “We hope that the disturbing evidence we provide will show why all concerned citizens and parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic need to urgently mobilise against the proposed EU-US trade deal. We have to derail this corporate power grab that threatens to worsen the livelihood of the millions of people already seriously affected by the financial crisis and by the crippling consequences of Europe’s austerity reforms.”

 Notes:

[1] The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) includes development, environmental, human rights, women and farmers organisations, trade unions and social movements working together for a truly sustainable, just and democratic trade policy in Europe. Corporate Europe Observatory is one of its members.

 [2] More concerns from environmental and consumer groups will be raised in a press conference on Monday, 7 October, 11am in the International Press Center, Résidence Palace, in Brussels. On Tuesday, 8 November, 9am, a protest stunt will take place in front of the Berlaymont building, 200 Rue de la Loi, Brussels. Please contact [email protected] for further information.

Read the complete Report

Copyright. Corporate Europe Observatory 2013

Abdeen Jabara was spied on by the NSA in the late 1960s. (Photo: ACLU/Tracked in America)

Abdeen Jabara was hardly shocked when the scandal over the National Security Agency’s global surveillance dragnet broke in June.

“I was not at all surprised by the Snowden revelations about the NSA,” Jabara, a prominent lawyer and a founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told me in a phone interview. “The United States has this huge, huge international surveillance apparatus in place and after 9/11 they were going to use it as much as they could as part of the war on terror. It was just too tempting.”

He would know–he’s lived it. Jabara is one of many Americans to have been personally spied on by the NSA decades ago. A court battle that started in 1972 eventually forced the secretive surveillance agency to acknowledge that it pried into the life of an American in an effort that began in August 1967. The disclosure was the first time the U.S. admitted it had spied on an American.

Jabara’s story lays bare the deep roots of the NSA’s surveillance. Today, with the NSA operating under the ethos of “collect it all,” there’s much more surveillance of Americans when compared to prior decades. But the current spying occurs in a less targeted way.

Documents published by The Guardian have revealed that virtually every American’s communications are swept up by phone and Internet surveillance, though the government is not targeting individual Americans. Instead, the NSA is targeting foreigners but has retained–and sometimes searched– information about Americans in communication with foreign subjects of spying. In contrast, Jabara was working as a lawyer at a time when the NSA was specifically targeting domestic dissidents.

In 1972, Jabara filed suit against the government for prying into his life. A young Detroit-based attorney at the time, Jabara represented people from the Arab-American community caught up in legal trouble. He also took on the cases of people harassed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had stepped up efforts to surveil Arab activists in the aftermath of the 1967 war, when the U.S. alliance with Israel was solidified. Jabara was caught up in what was called “Operation Boulder,” a Nixon administration-era program that put Arabs under surveillance. “Operation Boulder,” which was sparked by the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, went after domestic activist groups and was instrumental in the deportation of hundreds of people on technical irregularities.

Jabara was spied on without a warrant, albeit incidentally–the U.S. government never targeted him, but surveilled phone calls and telegrams from his clients. His case forced the government to disclose that Jabara was spied on and that non-governmental domestic groups shared information on Jabara with the U.S. The FBI was the primary agency tracking him, but it was the NSA that furnished the federal law enforcement agency with records of Jabara’s phone conversations.

In 1979, a federal district court judge handed Jabara and his legal team a victory with a ruling that said the U.S. had violated Jabara’s Fourth Amendment and privacy rights. The federal government appealed, and a separate court delivered a setback to Jabara. In 1982, an appeals court ruled that the government can intercept conversations between U.S. citizens and people overseas–even if there is no reason to believe the citizen is a “foreign agent.” The final step in the case came in 1984, when the FBI agreed to destroy all the files on Jabara and stipulated that the lawyer did not engage in criminal activity.

The timeline of Jabara’s case traverses a changing legal landscape governing surveillance. When Jabara first filed suit, there was no legal framework prohibiting the government from spying on Americans without a warrant. But in the wake of disclosures about the NSA keeping a “watch list” of some 1,650 anti-war activists and other evidence of domestic surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in 1979. The act required intelligence agencies to go to a secretive court–where the judges are handpicked by the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice–in order to target Americans. It’s an open question whether the secretive court, criticized for being deferential to government claims, would have denied the NSA’s and FBI’s bid to spy on Jabara. But it would have had to show probable cause that Jabara was an agent of a foreign power–an assertion that federal judges eventually rejected.

Parallels between current-day surveillance and the spying on Jabara are easy to come by. The U.S. government attempted to shield disclosing data on surveilling Jabara by asserting the “state secrets” privilege. The Obama administration used the same argument to try to dismiss a lawsuit against the NSA. Both surveillance efforts raise the question of how to square a secret spying regime with a Constitution that ostensibly protects privacy. And the government revealed that it shared information on Jabara with three foreign governments–a foreshadowing of revelations that the U.S. shares intelligence information with allies, including the Israeli government. (Jabara suspected that the U.S. shared data on him with Israel, though the government denied that.)

Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that not much had shifted since the government spied on Jabara. “What has changed is that the intelligence community is doing even more surveillance,” Tien told me in an interview. “What didn’t change? They’re still surveilling people in the United States and they’re doing it illegally.”

Now, the question is whether more legal checks will be put on the NSA’s surveillance regime. The secretive agency is battling civil liberties groups in courts and could be reined in by new legislation proposed by elected officials. But Jabara’s case–and the long history of NSA spying–shows that despite reform efforts, spying on Americans continues unabated.

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU intends to create the world’s largest free trade area, ‘protect’ investment and remove ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers’. Corporate interests are driving the agenda, with the public having been sidelined. Unaccountable, pro-free-trade bureaucrats from both sides of the Atlantic are facilitating the strategy (1) 

In addition to the biotech sector and Big Pharma, groups lobbying for the deal have included Toyota, General Motors, IBM and the powerful lobby group the Chamber of Commerce of the US. Business Europe, the main organisation representing employers in Europe, launched its own strategy on an EU-US economic and trade partnership in early 2012. Its suggestions were widely included in the draft EU mandate.

An increasing number of politicians and citizens groups have criticised the secretive negotiations and are demanding that they be conducted in an open way. This is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights or the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.

One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognise their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The official language talks of ‘mutual recognition’ of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU’s.

The US wants all so-called barriers to trade, including controversial regulations such as those protecting agriculture, food or data privacy, to be removed. Even the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.

The public in Europe does not want such things. People want powerful corporations to be held to account and their practices regulated by elected representatives who they trust to protect their interests, the public good. However, the TAFTA seems an ideal opportunity for corporations to force wholly unpopular and dangerous policies through via secretive, undemocratic means. They have been unable to do this in a democratic and transparent manner, so secret back room deals represent a different option.

Corporate demands include an “ambitious liberalisation of agricultural trade barriers with as few exceptions as possible.” Food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved genetically modified crops. This is a long-standing industry agenda also supported by feed and grain trading giants, including Cargill, Bunge, ADM and the big farmers’ lobby COPA-COGECA. Meanwhile, the biotech industry on both sides of the Atlantic is offering its “support and assistance as the EU and the US government look to enhance their trade relationship.”

New Report

If the pro-free-market bureaucrats and corporations get their way and successfully bar the public from any kind of meaningful information input into the world’s biggest trade deal ever to be negotiated, Europeans could end up becoming the victims of one of the biggest corporate stitch ups ever. Left unchallenged, it will allow huge private interests to dig their profiteering snouts into the trough of corporate greed at the expense of ordinary people.

And that’s not hyperbole. Such a view is confirmed by the release of a new report on the eve of the second round of negotiations that are due to begin in Brussels next week.

The report, published by the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) (2), reveals the true human and environmental costs of the proposed TAFTA. ‘A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership’ highlights how the European Commission’s promises of up to 1% GDP growth and massive job creation through the EU-US trade deal are not supported even by its own studies, which predict a growth rate of just 0.01% GDP over the next ten years and the potential loss of jobs in several economic sectors, including agriculture.

The report also explains how corporations are lobbying EU-US trade negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards as well as undermine digital rights. Attempts to strengthen banking regulation in the face of the financial crisis could also be jeopardised as the financial lobby uses the secretive trade negotiations to undo financial reforms, such as restrictions on the total value of financial transactions or the legal form of its operations.

Kim Bizzarri, the author of the report:

“Big business lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic view the secretive trade negotiations as a weapon for getting rid of policies aimed at protecting European and US consumers, workers and our planet. If their corporate wish-list is implemented, it will concentrate even more economic and political power within the hands of a small elite, leaving all of us without protection from corporate wrongdoings.”

The report also warns that the agreement could open the floodgate to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations who can challenge democratic policies at international tribunals if they interfere with their profits.

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory and author of ‘A transatlantic corporate bill of rights’:

“The proposed investor rights in the transatlantic trade deal show what it is really about: It’s a power grab from corporations to rein in democracy and handcuff governments that seek to regulate in the public interest. It’s only a matter of time before European citizens start paying the price in higher taxes and diminished social protection.”

Consumer watchdogs, digital rights and trade activists, environmentalists and trade unions are preparing to fight the corporate dystopia put forward in the EU-US trade deal.

Luis Rico of Ecologistas en Acción, a member of the Seattle to Brussels network:

“We hope that the disturbing evidence we provide will show why all concerned citizens and parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic need to urgently mobilise against the proposed EU-US trade deal. We have to derail this corporate power grab that threatens to worsen the livelihood of the millions of people already seriously affected by the financial crisis and by the crippling consequences of Europe’s austerity reforms.”

Do we want increasingly bad and unhealthy food, our rights at work being further eroded, the environment being damaged in the chase for profit, ever greater reckless gambling in the financial sector or our elected representatives being by-passed via international tribunals? Of course we don’t. 

Where is the democracy surrounding this proposed TAFTA? Where is ordinary people’s  protection from the ‘free’ market corporate-financial cabals that ultimately drive global economic policy and geo-political strategies? By translating corporate power into political influence at the G8, G20, WTO, NATO or elsewhere, whether it is by war, threats, debts or coercion, secretive and undemocratic free trade agreements are but one tool that very powerful corporations use in an attempt to cast the world in their own image (3,4).

The TAFTA is little more than an attempt at a corporate power grab masquerading as something that promotes growth, freedom, harmony and job creation. Those claims are bogus. It must be stopped

Please noteMore concerns from environmental and consumer groups will be raised in a press conference on Monday, 7 October, 11am in the International Press Center, Résidence Palace, in Brussels. On Tuesday, 8 November, 9am, a protest stunt will take place in front of the Berlaymont building, 200 Rue de la Loi, Brussels.

Contact [email protected] for further information.

Notes

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-free-trade-agreement-a-corporate-stitch-up-by-any-other-name/5339789

2)  The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) includes development, environmental, human rights, women and farmers organisations, trade unions and social movements working together for a truly sustainable, just and democratic trade policy in Europe. Corporate Europe Observatory is one of its members.

3) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-great-eu-india-corporate-heist-uncovering-the-free-trade-agenda/5342267

4) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-corporate-driven-neocolonial-plunder/5338049

The Israeli Prime Minister may have left his cartoon bomb at home, but his latest appearance at the UN contained no shortage of dubious claims aimed at strangling the nascent US-Iran rapprochement in its cradle.

Just three days after the historic phone call between US President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani, hopes for a thaw in relations between the two countries were dashed when Obama confirmed that military options were still on the table during a press conference with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office. In his eloquent address to the General assembly, Rouhani explicitly cited the “military options on the table” position as being an illegal and ineffective contention, prior to explicitly declaring, “peace is within reach.” Obama’s unwillingness to deviate from his dominant line comes as no surprise looking back to his excessively uni-polar and exceptionalist address to the general assembly. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif immediately decried Obama’s flip-flop, and urged Washington to show consistency in dealing with Iran to promote trust – a unexceptional plea that will most likely prove to be too much for Washington to adhere to.

Whatever glimmers of pragmatism employed by the Obama administration in its dealings with the incumbent administration in Tehran at the start of the general assembly were overshadowed by Washington’s unshakeable bond with Israel as Netanyahu visited the White House and took to the podium as the final speaker. Obama is not quite transparently about to turn his back on the “warmongering pressure groups” Rouhani warned that would enact measures to maintain the status quo in his address. For those radicals who dominate the political establishment in Tel Aviv, the coherent and temperate Rouhani is incomparably more troublesome than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose bellicosity allowed Israel to more plausibly sell its anti-Iran narrative. As many journalists and always analysts point out, following Israel’s tirades, Tel Aviv has Iran accused of being “months away from the bomb” for over two decades.

Netanyahu’s latest performance has been in keeping with Israel’s proclivity for relying exclusively on dubious or highly debatable claims to delegitimize Iran. Bibi may have convinced some who are unfamiliar with the issue, but for others, he has again shown his promising potential as a fiction writer, perhaps an apt career path for the man to embark upon once he leaves office. Though the Israeli leader invoked an ancient Persian edict of King Cyrus that allowed Jews to return to the land of Israel as a mark of historic friendship between the Jewish and Persian people, Netanyahu has only ever viewed Iran as a modern-day Amalek, the Biblical state and people whose total extermination by the Israelites was called for in the Old Testament. At the forefront of Bibi’s hysterical diatribe was the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, and the wholly groundless claims that Iranian nuclear warheads could strike New York City in 3 to 4 years.

The last time Netanyahu addressed the UN with his doodled explosive, he claimed that Iran would soon have the capability to enrich uranium to 90 percent, allowing them to construct a nuclear weapon by early-to-mid 2013. Bibi may be a compelling storyteller, but he has sorry credentials as a fortune teller. Washington and Tel Aviv have taken the conscious decision to ignore evidence entirely brought forward by the US Intelligence Community, as well as appeals from nuclear scientists, policy-advisers. IAEA and WHO personnel claim that the “Iranian threat” is exaggerated and politicized. Netanyahu has not corrected his statements insinuating that Iran was nearing his red line of 90 percent enrichment, the amount needed to weaponize uranium. There is no evidence to suggest that Iran has pursued enrichment over the 20 percent needed for medical research, which is allowed within the stipulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory.

At no point has the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported conclusive evidence of a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has in fact done more than most other countries to address concerns that its enrichment program may be diverted to non-peaceful uses, including placing additional restrictions on its enrichment process by ratifying additional protocols to allow for rigorous inspection by the IAEA. Enrichment facilities, such as in Natanz, operate with the participation of foreign representatives, and while Netanyahu accuses Iran of exploiting its heavy water reactor in Arak to gain “a plutonium path” to the bomb, Iran has no reprocessing capability to extract plutonium and IT has specifically renounced plutonium reprocessing. The IAEA’s latest report published in February 2013 confirmed an expansion in Iranian uranium enrichment capabilities, and that Iran was reconverting its 280 kg of near-20% enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor.

The IAEA February 2013 report acknowledges, along with numerous experts, how the product of Iran’s gas-based centrifuges – uranium hexafluoride gas – would be entirely impractical to weaponize, especially after it is reconverted into a fuel product. The religious prohibitions issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader regarding the proliferation of both chemical and nuclear weapons is often downplayed in the West, but consider that Iran failed to pursue development of chemical weapons even when it came under attack from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Iran’s military strategy reflects a defensive logic based on missile-based deterrence which aims to prevent pre-emptive strikes and Gulf Arab participation in a US offensive against Iran. Tehran’s ballistic missiles rely on conventional explosives, while it is developing unmanned drones based on American technology, and maritime capabilities that would allow it to close the Strait of Hormuz if threatened or attacked. There is no evidence that Iran has developed or tested chemical or nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, and its military program has only served a defensive function.

Netanyahu uses his opportunities to address the international community to scapegoat Iran because it allows the Jewish state to portray itself as a victim while it defies dozens of UN resolutions and international law. Tehran has called for a nuclear-free region encompassing West Asia and North Africa on multiple occasions, and Rouhani took the initiative to do so again in his UN address. Israel, being the only country in the region to have nuclear weapons, is not a signatory to the NPT, nor has it ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Israel’s apartheid status is horrifying enough – its failure to adhere to international conventions on its nuclear and chemical stockpiles should warrant a sustained and internationally endorsed regime of boycott, divestment, and international sanctions on Tel Aviv. As a serial violator of international law, Israel should not be allowed to maintain its status as a“good” rouge state.

If peace in the Middle East is the goal, it is within reach, but the thawing of relations between the US and Iran is a vital prerequisite. A historic compromise between Washington and Tehran based on equal footing would be remembered as a crucial foreign policy victory for the Obama administration. The fulfillment of Rouhani’s vision for a nuclear-free Middle East would be a momentous achievement – Obama should be bold and consider the historical parallels. In the late 80s, Mikhail Gorbachev called for the US and USSR to incrementally eliminate their massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons and proposed a disarmament framework to Ronald Reagan, who turned down the deal in favor of an outlandish pursuit of a space weaponization program that never came to fruition. Obama would be a fool to repeat Reagan’s mistake in the modern context by not strong-arming Israel into signing the NPT. Peace is within reach, but Obama appears to lack the political will to reach out and make it a tangible reality.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.