The American political system continues to ignore President Eisenhower’s dour warning about the Military-Industrial Complex and embrace President Reagan’s happy “We’re No. 1” illusions. The long-term consequences of this choice have been devastating to most U.S. citizens and to the world.

Years ago I read a newspaper story about an elderly man who lived in an impoverished area of Cleveland, Ohio. The man was a friendless loner who seemed to have no caring family members. Neighbors had noticed his mail piling up on his porch, and, with no responses to knocks on the door, they called the police who broke into the man’s house.

What they found is an allegory for our time, especially after another, peculiarly American school shooting, the latest one involving non-hunting weapons and the gunning down of 26 defenseless little children and staff members at an elementary school.

The withered old man was found dead in his bed, surrounded by rifles, pistols and guns of every description. Boxes of bullets and cartridges were stacked on the floor. He had a knife in his cold, dead hand and an actual harpoon was leaning against his refrigerator, which was empty. In a nation of plenty and with grocery stores in the man’s neighborhood, the well-armed man had starved to death.

He had fiercely exercised his precious Second Amendment rights but had ignored his neighbors, family and his health. He had apparently heard the National Rifle Association’s sermons about defending one’s property against intruders – by lethal means if necessary – but he had chosen to remove himself from civil society and starved to death, all alone in his well-defended room.

The man had wasted away, in a paranoid state, while “defending” himself against imaginary “others” who never did come to rob him. He had spent all of his money, including his Social Security and pension checks, on guns and ammunition, but he had spent nothing on food or life-sustaining activities. He was obsessed by the fear of burglars and thieves, and it had cost him his life.

And, what was perhaps a more tragic reality, he had been suspicious of his neighbors, all of whom were potential friends, although manywere probably keeping their distance from the crazy old man with the guns.

Painful Lessons

Our paranoid, militarized and heavily armed nation will probably ignore the lessons that should be obvious from that story. The arms race that financially bankrupted the Soviet Union and morally (and nearly financially) bankrupted the United States during the Cold War, was run at the expense of the sick, hungry, under-employed, homeless and desperate people everywhere, including many who were living, unnoticed, in our own neighborhoods and in our local ghettos on the other side of the tracks.

Mutual fear of the “other” caused the two Superpowers and their allies to spend obscene amounts of money on inedible and unnecessary weapons systems. The training of tens of millions of “kill or be killed” warriors who were both spiritually and emotionally deprived and deformed (often for the rest of their lives) inevitably weakened the moral integrity of the nation as well, all in the name of “national security.”

Contrary to what patriots who believe in American exceptionalism (and expect the rest of us to believe as well), America hasn’t been able to afford both guns and butter without borrowing money in order to keep that delusion going.

The Pentagon’s wars ever since the Reagan years have been mostly paid for with massive amounts of borrowing and huge indebtedness rather than with increased taxes, and the return on that “investment” has been lousy. The investor classes and lending institutions were happy however for they are the ones who receive the guaranteed interest payments on the T-bills and Treasury bonds.

But the increasing number of under-water private citizens are finding themselves forced to use credit cards to even pay for basic human necessities like food, water, clothing, health care, shelter and education. The increasing amount of joblessness, homelessness, home foreclosures and bread lines shouldn’t surprise anybody.

Emaciation of Militarized Nations

During the Cold War, the two saber-rattling superpowers each spent/wasted an irretrievable $12 trillion. America spent trillions of dollars recruiting, training and retaining troops; researching, developing and producing expensive weapons systems; maintaining hundreds of budget-busting military bases in countries ruled by brutal dictators and friendly fascist states as well as quasi-democracies, all the while virtually ignoring the growing numbers of impoverished and under-privileged people of color who helplessly watched their health, savings, civil rights, jobs and food security wither and disappear.

America has been ruled by a powerful insider group of over-privileged, body-guarded, chauffeured and essentially conscienceless Wall Street elites who live in gated communities. They are also among the One Percenters who have been fingered by the Occupy Wall Street movement as the criminal culprits who created the financial mess America is in.

The so far unindicted and not yet behind bars One Percenters were responsible for the Great Recession, which may still become the 21st Century’s version of the Great Depression. The nefarious corporations that are responsible for the economic crash of 2008 have, with their ill-gotten gains, bought and paid for most of the major media and also many of the bribed politicians and judges, all of whom are faithfully serving their paymasters by helping to implement their agendas in statehouses around the nation.

Most of these pro-corporate political leaders (both un-elected and elected, including five of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices) are dutifully promoting their greedy agendas. These traitors to real democracy only preach fiscal responsibility when the bottom lines of their paymasters are at risk, but they never seem to act when people in the lower 99 percent are in a financial crisis – including those needing jobs, healthcare, relief from Hurricane Sandy or protection from illegal foreclosures.

The moneyed ruling class, with large fortunes and investments to hide and protect, has conveniently forgotten that its Reaganomics-inspired predatory lending and the massive borrowing and spending tactics (the propaganda trick called “trickle-down” economics) sky-rocketed America’s national debt to its current unsustainable level.

The debt crises that follow are only being met with more borrowing and cutting spending for programs of social uplift, while never questioning the obscene, nearly $1 trillion annual budgets that continue to bloat the Pentagon. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) budget requests are, year after year, approved by nearly unanimous majorities of our chicken-hearted legislators of both political parties in the dark of night, when the daily news cycle is at hibernation status.

Chickens Home to Roost

And now, predictably, the chickens (in more than one sense of the word) have come home to roost. Strongly deluded that there is “glory” in war – and with blank-check borrowing and spending on weaponry – America has spawned tens of millions of sick, hungry, homeless, under-employed, under-educated, addicted, psychologically-traumatized and impoverished people, many of whom are conveniently hidden in inner cities that the out-of-touch policymakers never see.

Universal health care, which large majorities of the population desire, is habitually rejected by the powers that be in the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance industries. After all, the politicians who have been financed by such industries have great health insurance and health care themselves. So why would greedy One Percenters want to have their taxes go up to help those whom they have made sick, poor and hungry? (For that matter why should the One Percenters want to pay taxes that support public libraries and parks when they themselves have personal libraries and private playgrounds?)

“Let ‘em eat grass” was the fateful comment made to starving Indians by the thoughtless Minnesota territory Indian Agent who was later found dead with his mouth stuffed full of grass.

But America’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure can’t and won’t be fixed while bloated and wasteful military budgets go unopposed in Congress. You can’t afford both guns and butter!

If you are seeing cuts to the programs that make life worth living, understand that much of the blame should be placed on the massive Pentagon borrowing and spending that has gone on every year since the massive increases in spending on nuclear weaponry during the administrations Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Who’s in Charge?

What is the eventual outcome of putting a society’s basic human needs last? Poor mental and physical health, poor educational opportunities, a poorly trained workforce, underemployment, drug use (both illicit and prescription), hopelessness, suicidality, homicidality, addictive behaviors (including gambling), domestic abuse, street gangs, prostitution, ignorance, malnutrition, desperation, poverty and, inevitably, anger at and a desire to retaliate against a system of government and corporate control that neglects its people and then shows no signs of remorse for having done so.

It shouldn’t surprise us that the Occupy Wall Street  emerged and then was put down by the powers-that-be.

Are average Americans going to continue to be perpetually sickened and impoverished while blindly cheering our unaffordable #1 Military Superpower status? Are we going to continue to waste scarce resources on bankrupting wars and military occupations worldwide while refusing to make investments at home that would ensure a sustainable economy, a healthy planet and citizens whose physical and mental-health needs are met?

Are the weapons-makers, the gun-runners, the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA (and the dozens of other intelligence agencies) really just expensive make-work jobs programs that protect the global investments of the obscenely-wealthy war-profiteering, multinational corporations that further impoverish the rest of society? Knowing that the “black box” budgets of the dozens of American intelligence agencies now approximate $1 trillion a year makes one wonder if our nation has a military or if our military has a nation.

Are we going to continue ignoring the fact that wasteful war-industry jobs cost twice as much to generate and fund as jobs in health care, education, infrastructure repair or green technology? Are we going to continue to allow excessive military spending at the expense of the disappearing middle-class and an expanding lower class?

Are we going to continue fearing the wrath of the 800-pound gorillas of the One Percent that intimidate and threaten us into silence and inaction? Or are we going to courageously organize and band together to refuse to cooperate with the One Percenters?

Is It Too Late?

The military/industrial/congressional (MIC) complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address has increasingly parasitized the U.S. economy since World War II, and it has proven to be disastrous for average Americans.

President Dwight Eisenhower delivering his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961.

The MIC has caused the extinction of many family farms, family businesses and trade unions starting with Reagan, and it has created the heartless union-busting multinational corporations that yearn to pay slave wages to its workers.

The Complex has been behind the “fouling of the nest” (the poisoned environment) with tens of thousands of lethal, immune system destroying and cancer-causing industrial pollutants, radioactive waste disposal sites and toxic military dumpsites that will continue to foul the food, water, soil and air for generations unless effective programs are instituted.

Unsustainable levels of personal credit-card debt, college loan debt, healthcare debt and home mortgage debt among the lower 99 Percent, who were tempted, by predatory lenders, to imitate what seems to be the norm for the One Percenters, have resulted in an epidemic of home mortgage foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and homelessness.

Although it might already be too late, the lower 99 may finally be waking up and trying to reverse the nation’s descent toward total economic collapse, at which time the One Percenters, with their fortunes intact, will snap up everything they covet at fire sale prices. However, for the nation as a whole, being armed to the teeth and universally feared and hated (because America’s exploitative bullying behavior around the world) is not a sustainable path to global security.

Because of America’s bullying behavior and its misbegotten generations-long over-spending on its weapons systems (that continues to victimize billions of people, including its own citizens), we will soon have nobody interested in rescuing us from our massive indebtedness and our self-imposed, suicidal path towards collapse.

Without a change, America is destined to become a despised pariah state – a national version of that heavily armed dead man in Cleveland – as the U.S. sinks further and further into moral and spiritual depravity.

We Americans have to stop deluding ourselves into thinking that we can spend borrowed money on both guns and butter. America cannot continue to go the route of empty refrigerators and lethal weapons everywhere.

Gary G. Kohls is a peace-and-justice activist and retired mental health physician.

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that any amount of radiation – no matter how small – can cause cancer and other serious health effects.

(Current safety standards are based on the ridiculous assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s – and that radioactive particles ingested into the body cause no more damage than radiation hitting the outside of the body. In the real world, however, even low doses of radiation can cause cancer. Moreover, small particles of radiation – called “internal emitters” – which get inside the body are much more dangerous than general exposures to radiation. See this and this. And radiation affects small children much more than full-grown adults.)

But the Department of Energy – the agency which is responsible for the design, testing and production of all U.S. nuclear weaponspromotes nuclear energy as one of its core functions, which has been covering up nuclear accidents for decades, and has used mutant lines of human cells to promote voodoo, anti-scientific arguments – proposes letting radiation into our silverware.

Counterpunch notes:

Even the deregulation-happy Wall St. Journal sounded shocked: “The Department of Energy is proposing to allow the sale of tons of scrap metal from government nuclear sites — an attempt to reduce waste that critics say could lead to radiation-tainted belt buckles, surgical implants and other consumer products.”

Having failed in the ‘80s and ‘90s to free the nuclear bomb factories and national laboratories of millions of tons of their radioactively contaminated scrapand nickel, the DOE is trying again. Its latest proposal is moving ahead without even an Environmental Impact Statement. Those messy EISs involve public hearings, so you can imagine the DOE’s reluctance to face the public over adding yet more radiation to the doses we’re already accumulating.

Congressman Markey writes:

A Department of Energy proposal to allow up to 14,000 metric tons of its radioactive scrap metal to be recycled into consumer products was called into question today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) due to concerns over public health. In a letter sent to DOE head Steven Chu, Rep. Markey expressed “grave concerns” over the potential of these metals becoming jewelry, cutlery, or other consumer products that could exceed healthy doses of radiation without any knowledge by the consumer. DOE made the proposal to rescind its earlier moratorium on radioactive scrap metal recycling in December, 2012.

The proposal follows an incident from 2012 involving Bed, Bath & Beyond stores in America recalling tissue holders made in India that were contaminated with the radio-isotope cobalt-60. Those products were shipped to 200 stores in 20 states. In response to that incident, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson advised members of the public to return the products even though the amount of contamination was not considered to be a health risk.

This is not the first time this has happened.

As the Progressive reported in 1998, radioactive scrap metal was ending up in everything fromsilverware to frying pans and belt buckles:

The Department of Energy has a problem: what to do with millions of tons of radioactive material. So the DOE has come up with an ingenious plan to dispose of its troublesome tons of nickel, copper, steel and aluminum. It wants to let scrap companies collect the metal, try to take the radioactivity out, and sell the metal to foundries, which would in turn sell it to manufacturers who could use it for everyday household products: pots, pans, forks, spoons, even your eyeglasses.

You may not know this, but the government already permits some companies under special licenses, to buy, reprocess and sell radioactive metal: 7,500 tons in 1996, by one industry estimate. But the amount of this reprocessing could increase drastically if the DOE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the burgeoning radioactive metal processing industry get their way.

They are pressing for a new, lax standard that would do away with special permits and allow companies to buy and resell millions of tons of low-level radioactive metal.


The standard the companies seek could cause nearly 100,000 cancer fatalities in the United States, by the NRC’s own estimate.

(A couple of years later, Congressman Markey successfully banned most radioactive scrap … but now DOE is trying to bring it back.)

Radioactive scrap is a global problem. As Bloomberg reported last year:

“The major risk we face in our industry is radiation,” said Paul de Bruin, radiation-safety chief for Jewometaal Stainless Processing, one of the world’s biggest stainless-steel scrap yards. “You can talk about security all you want, but I’ve found weapons-grade uranium in scrap. Where was the security?

More than 120 shipments of contaminated goods, including cutlery, buckles and work tools such as hammers and screwdrivers, were denied U.S. entry between 2003 and 2008 after customs and the Department of Homeland Security boosted radiation monitoring at borders.

The department declined to provide updated figures or comment on how the metal tissue boxes at Bed, Bath & Beyond, tainted with cobalt-60 used in medical instruments to diagnose and treat cancer, evaded detection.


The general public basically isn’t aware that they’re living in a radioactive world,” according to Ross Bartley, technical director for the recycling bureau, who said the contamination has led to lost sales. “Those tissue boxes are problematic because they’re radioactive and they had to be put in radioactive disposal.”

Abandoned medical scanners, food-processing devices and mining equipment containing radioactive metals such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 are picked up by scrap collectors, sold to recyclers and melted down by foundries, the IAEA says.

Dangerous scrap comes from derelict hospitals and military bases, as well as defunct government agencies that have lost tools with radioactive elements.

Chronic exposure to low doses of radiation can lead to cataracts, cancer and birth defects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A 2005 study of more than 6,000 Taiwanese who lived in apartments built with radioactive reinforcing steel from 1983 to 2005 showed a statistically significant increase in leukemia and breast cancer.


India and China were the top sources of radioactive goods shipped to the U.S. through 2008, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Bartley, a metallurgist who has tracked radioactive contamination since the early 1990s, said there’s no evidence the situation has improved.


Two years after an Indian scrap-metal worker died from radiation exposure, the world’s second-most populous country hasn’t installed alarms, the Ministry of Shipping said in December.


The same thing could easily happen again tomorrow,” said Deepak Jain, 65, who owns the yard where the worker died. “We have no protection. The government promised a lot, but has delivered absolutely nothing.”

Indeed, we are being bombarded with low-level radiation from all sides:

  • In Japan, radioactive crops are being mixed into non-irradiated foods

(The government has even treated some people as guinea pigs.)

What can we do? Counterpunch notes:

You can tell the DOE to continue to keep its radioactive metal out of the commercial metal supply, commerce, and our personal items. You can demand a full environmental impact statement. Comment deadline is Feb. 9, 2013. Email to:[email protected] (with an underscore after “scrap_”). Snail mail to: Jane Summerson / DOE NNSA / PO Box 5400, Bldg. 401K. AFB East / Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests. Hillary Clinton

France’s military intervention into Mali may at first glance appear to have little to do with the U.S. “pivot” to Asia. But as a French mission supposedly meant to bolster a U.N. sanctioned and African-led intervention has gone from “a question of weeks” to “the total re-conquest of Mali,” what may have begun as a French affair has now become a Western intervention. And this in turn has drawn wider strategic interests into the conflict. Strategic interests, it is becoming clearer, shaped by the imperatives of the U.S. Asia pivot.

Widening Intervention

The geopolitical posturing over the crisis in Mali, coming as France’s intervention fans out across the region, is no more evident than in the public statements coming from both London and Washington.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron declared, the crisis in Mali “will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months.” Backing up such bluster, Britain has reportedly joined France in dispatching special commando teams to Mali, in addition to surveillance drones.

In Washington, the talk of a long war to be waged across the entire Sahel region of Africa has also begun. As one U.S. official speaking on the Western intervention into Mali warned Monday, “It is going to take a long time and time means that it could take several years.”

Such remarks mirror those made by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“This is going to be a very serious, ongoing threat because if you look at the size of northern Mali, if you look at the topography — it’s not only desert, it’s caves,” Clinton remarked. “Sounds reminiscent. We are in for a struggle. But it is a necessary struggle. We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the safe haven refrain is also pulsating through the corridors of the Pentagon.

“Some top Pentagon officials and military officers warn that without more aggressive U.S. action,” the Times reports, “Mali could become a haven for extremists, akin to Afghanistan before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

And as the American public is prepped for the opening of a new front in the unending “war on terror,” U.S. intervention accelerates.

As the Washington Post reports, the U.S. is now offering “aerial refueling” to French warplanes, along with “planes to transport soldiers from other African nations.”

U.S. intelligence officials, meanwhile, have reportedly begun drawing up plans to provide “data to help French warplanes locate and attack militant targets.” This, as Pentagon hawks continue to push for the use of drone strikes.

In fact, the New York Times reports the U.S. has begun “preparing plans to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups.”

The paper, which notes the base’s likely location to be in Niger, reports the Pentagon has “not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.”

As one American official told the Times, the decision to establish a permanent drone base in northern Africa “is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom [the U.S. Military’s Africa Command] a more enduring presence.”

The very notion, though, of an al-Qaeda threat in northern Mali so dire as to require Western intervention and a permanent U.S. presence is anything but well-defined. As Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy, notes:it’s by no means clear what threat al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb…poses to the United States.”

Indeed, the very notion of al-Qaeda in Mali posing a threat to the West is predicated on the oft-repeated safe haven refrain. That is, the belief that without foreign intervention al-Qaeda will use northern Mali as a staging ground to launch attacks within Western countries.

“But,” as Stephen Walt questions, “is there any real evidence that the extremists in Mali are plotting to attack France, the United States, or anyone else? Even if they were, is there good evidence that they have the will and the skill to carry out such activities, or that the consequences of a successful attack would be greater than the costs of French (and other) efforts to root them out? And is it possible that intervention in Mali might actually focus the extremists’ attention on the intervenors, instead of the central government?”

The answer to the latter question appears quite clear in the wake of the bloody hostage crisis in neighboring Algeria. Although, as French President François Hollande claimed, the retaliation for the French intervention merely provided “further evidence that my decision to intervene in Mali was justified.”

Interventions, we see, are predicated upon a rather self-fulfilling logic. For in a seemingly endless loop, interventions inevitably seem to create additional problems and crises that are then posited as both justifying the initial intervention, as well yet further interventions. In short, intervention begets intervention.

The Useful Menace

But while Western leaders dig deep to reassure themselves of the justness of their latest intervention, doubts are nonetheless increasing over the competence of the Malian army. As the New York Times reports, despite extensive U.S. training, the Malian army has proven to be “a weak, dysfunctional force that is as much a cause of Mali’s crisis as a potential part of the solution.”

The Western “hope” in Mali, then, as the Economist argues, “is to kill as many as possible of the most fanatical jihadists, and to garrison the northern towns with soldiers from Mali and its neighbours, before the insurgents can regroup or bring in recruits.”

With such “hope” one understands the talk of a struggle to be measured in decades.

Indeed, even the head of the U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham, has acknowledged the limitations the West faces in Mali.

“Realistically,” Ham recently remarked, “probably the best you can get is containment and disruption, so that al-Qaida is no longer able to control territory [there] as they do today.”

But as U.S. officials talk up the al-Qaeda threat in Mali, one can’t help but recall the assertion made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta back in 2011. As Panetta then declared, the U.S. was “within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda.” Yet, after the West’s support of Islamists fighters in Libya and Syria, that handy al-Qaeda specter has evidently been roused sufficiently to haunt the Western mind once more.

Of course, despite all the public claims to the contrary, defeating al-Qaeda has never really been a genuine pursuit of the U.S. anyway. After all, a vanquished al-Qaeda would really denote something of a strategic setback for Washington. It would deprive the U.S. a source of proxy war foot soldiers, while also leaving Washington struggling to justify its global garrisoning. In the end then, the al-Qaeda menace — that gift that keeps on giving — is simply too useful to defeat.

Containing China

One needs look no further than the intervention into Mali to see the al-Qaeda threat bearing fruit for the West. All the attention on combating al-Qaeda in northern Mali has provided the perfect cover for the U.S. and its junior Western partners to pursue their grand strategy of containment against China. And with China increasingly out competing Western interests throughout Africa, one understands the sudden neo-colonial urge in the West.

According to Razia Khan, the regional head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, bilateral trade between Africa and China is nearing $200 billion annually, having grown at an average rate of 33.6 percent per year over the past decade. What’s more, in the coming years Africa stands to become China’s largest trade partner, surpassing both the EU and the U.S.

None of this has been lost on Washington. As the presumptive next U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, noted during his Senate confirmation hearing, the U.S. is knowingly playing from behind.

“Now with respect to China and Africa, China is all over Africa — I mean, all over Africa. And they’re buying up long-term contracts on minerals, on … you name it,” Kerry commented. “And there’re some places where we’re not in the game, folks. And I hate to say it. And we got to get in.”

In a 2010 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Johnnie Carson, U.S. assistant secretary for African Affairs, echoed Kerry’s concerns. In fact, Carson went so far as to classify China as a “very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals.”

Such U.S. sneering over growing Chinese investments in Africa were aired publicly during Secretary of State Clinton’s visit through African back in August. As Clinton, in a clear jab at China declared on her trip, “Unlike other countries, ‘America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the resources flowing.’”

(The rights violations of the U.S.-trained Malian army puts just the latest lie to such righteous declarations.)

In response to Clinton’s jab, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency shot back that Clinton’s trip was “aimed at least partly at discrediting China’s engagement with the continent and curbing China’s influence there.”

And it is with such a fear of U.S. containment in mind that Beijing has come to interpret France’s intervention into Mali as a gateway for further Western interventions. As He Wenping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences warns, “French forces’ involvement in Mali will provide the case for legalization of a new interventionism in Africa.”

And indeed it will, just as the West’s Libyan romp, costing China $20 billion in investments, helped set the stage for the current intervention into Mali. For in order for the U.S. to harness Asia’s (read China’s) growth and dynamism — and thus cement America’s Pacific Century — the U.S. must come to also harness the growth and dynamism of Africa.

The U.S. containment of China, then, requires a pivot of sorts to Africa. Only the African pivot appears set to fall under the banner of that ever-malleable “war on terror.”

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin. He may be reached at [email protected] or via his website.

Reports emanating from the West African state of Mali indicate that French grounds forces accompanied by the national army from the capital of Bamako–along with a small contingent of regional troops from Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal, Benin, Chad and Nigeria–are moving towards the northern historic city of Timbuktu. Although there has been a media blockade by the French and Malian governments about the impact of the war, details of the conditions taking place inside the country are emerging.

In the northern city of Gao, French and Malian forces claim that they have taken the airport and are moving to occupy the city. A military press release from Paris stated that they were fired on by “Al-Qaeda linked terrorist elements who were destroyed.” (Associated Press, January 28)

Nonetheless, the ministry of defense in France has attempted to sanitize the actual situation in the contested areas. One report asserted that no civilians have been killed in the imperialist military operations, although other news agencies have contradicted these statements.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a press release issued on January 22, stated that “As air bombing and fighting continue in Mali refugees are continuing to cross into neighboring countries. In Mauritania, 4,208 Malian refugees have arrived since January 11.” (UNHCR)

This same media advisory continues noting that “After being registered at the Fassala transit center, they are being transported further inland to the Mbera refugee camp which is already hosting 55,221 people from earlier displacements.” During the same time period 1,300 refugees have arrived in Niger and 1,829 entered Burkina Faso.

Malians arriving in these neighboring states say that they are fleeing air strikes being carried out by French fighter jets. They are complaining about shortages of food, fuel and water. Many new arrivals are traveling in vehicles, but others are on foot and donkeys.

The refugees are anticipating that other members of their families will be crossing the borders very soon. Since the escalation of fighting in the north of Mali in January 2012, which was largely the result of the U.S.-NATO war against Libya, some 147,000 refugees have fled the country.

Inside the country, the UNHCR reports that 229,000 people have been internally displaced mainly from the areas around Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao. The UN refugee agency is assisting by providing food, water and shelter for the internally displaced as well.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced recently that the international body would not directly participate or authorize the deployment of troops under its authority. Ki-moon cited the humanitarian work carried out by the UN agencies, saying that the organization’s direct involvement would jeopardize the safety and security of its personnel.

Meanwhile the United States military is providing C-17 air transport for the French troops and equipment entering Mali. The Obama administration has pledged its support to the invasion and occupation of Mali where the Pentagon has maintained close ties with the national army.

Other NATO states are also participating in the war including Britain, Canada, Denmark and Italy. The Italian government announced on January 28 that it could not continue its support for the French war in Mali without the support of the parliament.

War Spreading to Niger

France announced that it would also deploy Special Forces units to neighboring Niger to guard the Areva uranium mines. The mines provide up to 70 percent of the uranium utilized to power its nuclear power reactors in France.

The mines are located in the areas around the towns of Arlit and Imouraren. Areva maintains operations in Canada, Kazakhstan as well as Niger.

Areva is the second largest uranium mining producer in the world. The mines in Niger are critical to its operations globally.

Just last year in October, the Niger government complained to Areva about the slow pace of its operations aimed at uranium production at the Imouraren site. Several personnel working at the mines were kidnapped during 2010 creating a serious security problem for the firm.

Also there were labor disputes in early 2012 among the construction workers at the Imouraren mines. The delays strained relations with the Niger government which threatened to withdraw support if the firm could not meet its construction deadlines.

France, a former colonial power in Africa, still maintains troops in various states on the continent including Gabon, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Niger and others. The U.S., which is expanding its military presence in Africa with the deployment of an additional 3,500 troops to 35 states, is therefore a natural ally of France in the imperialist expansion in the region.

Africa is becoming even more important in the supply of strategic resources essential for the maintenance of the industrial status of the western states. Oil, natural gas, coltan, platinum and uranium exist in abundance throughout the continent.

In addition to these resources, new findings have taken place over the last year in regard to natural gas and oil in East Africa. Explorations are ongoing in Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia as well as offshore areas in the Indian Ocean.

New Attacks in Algeria

On January 27, there was an attack carried out at the Ain Chikh natural gas pipeline in the Djebahia region of northern Algeria, some 75 miles east of the capital of Algiers. Initial reports indicated that two security guards were killed and five others were wounded.

Algeria was the scene of the seizure of the In Amenas gas field by an Islamist armed group purportedly headed by Mohktar BelMohktar of the “Signatories of Blood.” Algerian military forces stormed the plant on two occasions releasing hundreds of workers but the seizure resulted in the deaths of at least 81 people.

The war initiated by France against Mali, purportedly designed to prevent “Islamist extremists” from taking control of the entire country, has worsened the security situation throughout the region. U.S. trained Malian military personnel staged a coup against the democratically elected government in Bamako on March 22, after the army failed to mount an effective counter-attack against the Tuareg fighters in the north.

Opposition Grows to the Imperialist War in West and North Africa

More organizations are coming out against the French bombing and occupation of Mali, the spreading of the war into neighboring states and the support being provided by various NATO states. Workers World issued an editorial in its January 31 issue calling for the withdrawal of imperialist forces from the country.

Also Fightback! News, the website of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), published a statement opposing the intervention. A demonstration was held on January 23 in Minneapolis involving peace activists organized by the Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) chanting “No U.S. Drones to Mali, No U.S. Intervention in Mali!”

The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), a broad-based coalition of various groups from around the U.S., had already issued a statement opposing intervention in Mali prior to the French bombing and ground invasion which began January 11. The organizations’ administrative committee and coordinating committee has held two national conference calls on the situation inside Mali and the region.

UNAC will be issuing another statement updating its position on the current crisis. Plans are also underway for a national tour featuring people from the U.S. and Pakistan who are opposing the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone program that is devastating countries throughout Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor of the Pan-African News Wire

E MAIL: [email protected]

Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers this study on the 2006 Al Ishaqi massacre in Iraq, where eleven innocent civilians including five children were massacred by US occupation forces. The Pentagon immediately proceeded in portraying the massacre as part of an operation directed against Al Qaeda militants.

According the  US Forces Spokesman, William B. Caldwell,  “US military personnel had followed the proper procedures and rules of engagement, and that they had done nothing wrong”.

An investigation was opened following the massacre and the case of was casually dismissed. The investigation confirmed that US military personnel “had implemented the correct military procedures”.

Immediately following the massacre, however, the Iraqi police (which has a mandate to act in liaison with the US occupation forces):

“accused US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people, including five children and four women, before blowing up their house.”

To which a US military spokesman responded that it was “highly unlikely that the allegations [of the Iraqi police] were true”.

US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda cell leader, Ahmad Abdallah Muhammad Na’is al-Utaibi, was visiting the house and that they killed another one named Udai Faris. Caldwell confessed that the investigation confirmed the death of 4 to 13 persons during the operation.

This case is not by means unique. it is part of a routine process of killings of Iraqi civilians by US forces, using the “war on terrorism” as a pretext.

Killing of  civilians by US “Liberation forces” is the “new normal” under the general umbrella of  America’s “humanitarian” undertakings.

Circulate this article far and wide.

Post it on Facebook.

It provides evidence of crimes against humanity ordered and implemented by the US government.

Michel Chossudovsky, January 28, 2012

[note to readers: disturbing photographic evidence]

The 2006 Mass Murder of Iraqi Civilians by US Forces. Evidence of Unspeakable War Crimes

by Mayyasa Abduljabbar and Dirk Adriaensens

New Facts Emerge About the 2006 Al-Ishaqi Massacre. Investigation Must Be Reopened. 

The Al-Ishaqi incident refers to the reported mass murder of Iraqi civilians committed by US forces in Al-Ishaqi in 15 March 2006. After the incident, US troops rounded up and deliberately shot 11 people, including five children and four women, before blowing up their house.

the March 2006 Al-Ishaqi Massacre. 11 Iraqi civilians assassinated in cold blood by American Forces


As if he sees them for the first time, Ibrahim Harat, a former Iraqi officer whose leg is amputated, bents over to collect the bullet cases that American soldiers used six and a half years ago in an act of mass killing. In the destroyed house, he lost nine members of his family, among them five children, the youngest of them five months old.


The American Forces have told lie after lie about this mass killing they committed in the night of 15 April 2006, when the house of Faez Harat, a 28 years old primary school teacher, was raided. US Forces have claimed that the victims died in a tactical operation during the search for the Kuwaiti citizen Ahmad Abdullah Al-Utaibi, and how they killed another Iraqi armed man named Udai Faris. But the reports of the investigation prove that what really happened was nothing but an arbitrary execution.

The Iraqi armed man, as the Americans claimed, was imprisoned in Camp Bucca Prison, and now he’s in one of the government prisons in death row awaiting his execution after his conviction for violent acts. The other man, a Kuwaiti citizen, was handed over by the Americans to the Iraqi authorities in October 2008, and the Iraqi authorities sent him back to his country in the Autumn of 2010, to be put in jail for a previous offence he was accused of. The investigators have documents proving that Al-Utaibi had already been arrested by the American Forces one day before the mass murder.

Nothing remains from the house of Faez, which was raided by the American Forces on 15 March 2006, only the wall where the victims were executed remains, and hundreds of bullet cases. In the corners of the ruins, some burnt papers remain from the last English exam Faez had taken from his students in Al-Ishaqi Area, 100 km north of Baghdad.

Contrary to the lies mentioned in the reports submitted by the American Forces, the morgue reports and the copies obtained from Tikrit General Hospital to where the corpses were taken after the massacre, confirmed that the victims died as a result of shot wounds from very close range in their heads and chests. Additional proof can also be read in the reports of the local investigation committees and the tens of eyewitnesses in the Al-Safa Village. All of them assured that the victims, who were taken from their house after an hour of this attack, were all handcuffed, and their mouths were tied.

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks in August 2011 provided evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during this controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Al-Ishaqi. This cable brought the case back to the surface. The cable contained questions from Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur of extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, to the American Ministry of Defense on 27 March 2006 about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred, although the house was raided, 11 persons handcuffed, among them four women and five children, and all of them executed, before an air raid destroyed the whole house.

The cable notes that “at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay’ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra’a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz’s mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz’s sister (name unknown), Faiz’s nieces Asma’a Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.”

The Terror Night Details

The massacre started as Ibrahim Harat, the eldest brother of Faez remembers, when some Chinook helicopters started to roam the village, and landed in the area to raid the houses. Ibrahim lives not so far from Faez house, almost 75 meters away, so he was able to watch from the window what happened. The moon was full that night, and the helicopters directed their lights towards the house, so everyone could see clearly how the soldiers were shooting at the house for more than 15 minutes, before they started to raid it through the front and back doors. Then they continued the shooting inside the house for more than 20 minutes, before leaving. The last attack was accomplished by the Chinook helicopters, which destroyed the whole house with six rockets, one after another.

Until today, no one knows what really happened in Faez’ house. And later, when the American soldiers raided Ibrahim’s house, he ran after them to know what happened to his mother and Faez’ family, but the answer was a hard kick that threw him on the ground, and his artificial leg rolled a few meters away from him.

Looking for The Victims

Eesa Harat, another brother of Faez, remembers that there were six American soldiers who raided his house that night, and took him along with his family members to the garden of the house, forcing them to lie down with their faces on the ground, so he and some of his neighbours couldn’t see what happened in Faez’ house, they could only hear the continuous shooting and the noise of the Chinook helicopters roaming the area. The whole raiding operation (attacking Faez house, raiding the other houses, and leaving) lasted almost two hours, as Eesa remembers. When everything was over, everyone ran towards Faez house, calling for the residents, but no one answered.

Ubaid Harat, another brother who was an officer in the army before 2003, said that it was not so hard to find the victims, because they were all gathered in the only room that wasn’t destroyed, and they were covered with blankets.

Faez’ brothers and many other witnesses in the village said that all the victims were handcuffed behind their backs, except the infant, Baby Husam, who was handcuffed with his hands on the chest.

Natiq Jawad Al-Mamoori, a Military Affairs Expert and a retired Brigadier-General, said that handcuffed children after raids of this kind indicates that there was someone in the family who was being interrogated and being threatened that they would kill or torture the baby in case he  / she wouldn’t cooperate. The interrogated person is usually either the mother or the father of the child.

What Al-Mamoori said was fully consistent with the confessions of ex-American soldier Jesse Macbeth, in the spring of 2008. Jesse said that the American soldiers used horrible methods to interrogate people during house raids. Some soldiers would threaten to kill the youngest child in front of his / her parents to force them to confess things, and then they would keep on killing other children whenever it was deemed necessary to get more information. The American soldiers didn’t kill Ibrahim because they noticed he was a handicapped person. The US Forces that raided his house were trying to scare the inhabitants of the houses next to Faez’ house, and in the meantime, the other Forces would be able to carry out their executions.

Faez had never joined an armed group, although in his area (Al-Ishaqi) there were Al-Qaeda members and other armed groups. The President of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organisation was shocked when he arrived at the crime scene, noticing that a lot of evidence was destroyed after the execution of the family members, because the villagers had taken off the handcuffs, and had laid the corpses on the ground to prepare the bodies for burial.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Mashhadani said that the conservative traditions of the heads of tribes in the area who gathered after the massacre, prevented the members of his organisation to take photos of the corpses of the women whose mouths were violently tied with their own headscarves. Al-Mashhadani added that a video had been shot while the bodies were taken to the morgue and that the interrogator has a copy. The men were trying to prevent the photographer from taking photos to some of the bodies, saying that these were corpses of women.

The Morgue Reports

The morgue reports in Tikrit stated that most of the victims got bullet holes in their heads and chests, while other victims had bullet wounds all over their bodies. None of the bodies had traces of gunpowder. This is proof that they didn’t use any kind of weapon, as a forensic expert has declared. This evidence proves that the American Forces lied when they said that the family had shot the soldiers from inside the house. That was the justification the American Army gave for their massacre.

The Results of the American Investigation

The investigation found, on 2 June 2006 (a few days days before they killed Al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq) that US military personnel had followed the proper procedures and rules of engagement, and that they had done nothing wrong. The American Forces Spokesman, William B. Caldwell stated that they opened an investigation the next day after the Al-Ishaqi massacre, and they found that the American Forces had implemented the correct military procedures. Immediately after the incident, Iraqi police accused the US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people, including five children and four women, before blowing up their house. A US military spokesman at the time responded that it was “highly unlikely that the allegations were true”. US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda cell leader, Ahmad Abdallah Muhammad Na’is al-Utaibi, was visiting the house and that they killed another one named Udai Faris. Caldwell confessed that the investigation confirmed the death of 4 to 13 persons during the operation.

Caldwell added that the Kuwaiti Al-Utaibi was a leader of Al-Qaeda, and that Udai Faris -also named Abu Ahmad- was an Iraqi who was responsible for making explosives and recruiting civilians for the insurgency. Caldwell told the same standard story about this massacre that the American Forces always used: “after the American Forces reached the house, they faced continuous shooting from inside. This required air force support, implementing tactical operations inside the targeted house where they found the body of Udai Faris with three other bodies of civilians.” Caldwell also mentioned that the investigating officer thought that nine other persons had also died as a result of the operation, but that it was hard to specify how many dead bodies there were under the rubble of the collapsed house.

Caldwell finished his “story” saying that it was defamatory to accuse the American Army of raiding the house, killing in cold blood an innocent family living in peace and destroying the house with helicopters to hide the crime.

Caldwell’s statement contradicted the original report from the Joint Coordination Center, which said U.S. forces entered the house while it was still standing. That first report noted: “The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men. Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals.” The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, who was described in the document as the assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center.

According to Caldwell’s story, four persons were killed: Abu Ahmad, and a woman and two children, in addition to nine other persons, which means that the total number of the victims would be 13. But there was another contradiction in the juggling with the numbers. No one was able to differentiate between 4 corpses  (the first statement), and 13 corpses (as stated in the second statement – Caldwell’s) or 11 corpses that were taken from Faez house (according to the report by Al-Ishaqi Police). All this confirmed that the Americans were hiding something about that massacre, including the real number of victims.

There’s a question that the Americans never answered in none of their statements; how could Al-Utaibi have stayed alive after all the shooting outside the house, which lasted for 15 minutes? And then a continuous shooting for about 20 minutes inside the house? How did he survive while all the persons inside the house, including the five children, were killed? If the American soldiers had the ability of arresting Al-Utaibi without eliminating the whole family, why did they kill them all, most of them women and children?

The Iraqi Fighter (The Living Dead)

The American Army tried to evade answering that question, although the investigator asked them several times. The American Embassy informed the investigator that they had no further comment. The American Forces alleged that there was an insurgent in Faez’ house whose name was Ahmad Abdullah Al-Utaibi, and another Iraqi armed man called Udai Faris. But it came as a big surprise when the investigator could prove that the armed man, whom the American Forces claimed to have killed during the attack, and whose full name was Udai Faris Abdullah Al-Mujammaee – nick named Abu Ahmad, turned out to be alive and kicking. The investigator requested the Iraqi authorities to meet Udai Faris in the prison in Tikrit, but they refused.

Udai Faris became a famous prisoner after his escape from jail with 15 other prisoners in September 2009, all members of an Al-Qaeda group. The escapees were caught, Udai being the last one who got captured, two years after his escape.

After a phone call, arranged through mediators, with Udai’s father, he said that his son was arrested by the Americans since 2005, and that he had heard about his death in Faez’ house like everyone else. But the father was lying, because he visited him many times in jail after the Al-Ishaqi operation.

In Search of the Kuwaiti “Leader”

Since the American Forces refused to add any further comment regarding Udai Faris, saying that he was either killed as they stated, or he wasn’t even in the house because he was already in jail. There is no other witness left but Ahmad Abdullah Al-Utaibi, because the Americans mentioned in their statements that he was in the house when they raided it, and he was arrested then.

The available information about Al-Utaibi indicates that he was 24 years old when the Al-Ishaqi massacre took place. He was arrested in 2005 for his attempt to overthrow the government in Kuwait, with the assistance of the Al-Jazeera Lions Organization, which is part of Al-Qaeda. He was bailed and released in August 2005. He escaped Kuwait after his release, entered Iraq illegally from Syria as a trader of Arab horses. As the American statements indicate, he was arrested while he was in Faez’ house in Al-Ishaqi on 15 March 2006.

The investigators could take a simple look at Al-Utaibi’s records, through a senior security official, but the investigator preferred not to mention his name or position out of fear for losing his job. Those records indicate that although his arrest required the elimination of a whole family, the American Army released him, and he was submitted to the Iraqi authorities in October 2008. He was supposed to be imprisoned for six years for the accusation of his illegal entrance to Iraq. Moreover, he confessed to the American Forces that he was involved in armed activities of Al-Qaeda. Al-Utaibi spent almost two years in Susa Prison in Suleymaniyah in the north of Iraq, before he was released and transferred to his country in November 2010.

The Secrets of The Night of Al-Utaibi’s Arrest

The records related to Al-Utaibi reveal that he entered Iraq from Syria to fight with Al-Qaeda, and that he was arrested on 14 March 2006, and was imprisoned on 15 March 2006. This proves that he was indeed in jail when the Al-Ishaqi massacre happened. Natiq Jawad, a Military Expert, thinks that this information could serve as evidence that Al-Utaibi’s name was included in the Al-Ishaqi massacre case on purpose, as a justification for the atrocities the US Forces committed there.

Prohibited Documents

Brigadier-General Muamman Khudur, the Manager of Susa Prison, refused to show the investigator any classified record of Al-Utaibi without a formal approval from the Iraqi Ministry of Justice. Since the end of 2011 until last August, the Ministry of Justice kept on refusing to grant permission to the investigator to have a look at Al-Utaibi files. Even the Supreme Judicial Council refused to show Al-Utaibi’s records because, as they claimed “the regular trials procedures should be highly classified, and no one is allowed to reveal them to the public” as mentioned by a Spokesperson of the International Red Cross in Iraq, Abdulsattar Al-beeraqdar, and his assistants in the Amman Office and Al-Sulaimaniyah Office, who all refused to give information regarding the file n° iqz012953, Al-Utaibi file. After numerous calls to the American Embassy, their only answer is: “we have no comment”.

The Horror Policy

Abdulrahman Al-Mashhadani, the President of Hammurabi Human Rights Institution explains that the way the American Forces behaved in the Al-Ishaqi massacre is part of the horror policy to scare the civilians in the Iraqi cities and villages, through targeting a house randomly and killing everyone there. The witnesses, among them Faez’ brothers, assured that the attack was unprovoked, there was not a single bullet fired from the house before or during the attack. Besides, these US Forces didn’t ask anyone from the house to surrender. They killed all the residents in cold blood.

Omar Al-Juboori, a Military Expert, said that the Chinook helicopters which attacked the house are provided with very advanced equipment through which they can know how many people are in the house, whether they were children or adults, in which room they stand, through the infrared. That’s why the Forces aimed to eliminate everyone in the house, in order not to leave any eyewitness alive, except the American soldiers.

Between Baghdad and Washington

After recurrent calls made by the investigator with Ali Al-Musawi, the Iraqi Prime Minister Consultant, to comment about the speech of the Spokeswoman of the American Ministry of Defense, regarding the cable  about the massacre published by WikiLeaks, the American Spokeswoman declared that this document can never force the American Army to reopen the investigation. Al-Musawi assured that the Iraqi government was ready to open an investigation, according to the information published by WikiLeaks, and that the government would take all the legal procedures to ensure the rights of the victims.

But here’s the tricky part. Al-Musawi said that Iraq cannot reopen the investigation unless the Americans cooperate, because the American Army has more details about the case, adding that the Iraqi-American Agreement states that Baghdad has the right to open an investigation in case it’s proven that there was an arbitrary execution carried out by the American Forces. Al-Musawi assured that Iraq will never abandon the rights of its citizens, and that they will follow the case until a new investigation is reopened, without giving further details.

Tariq Harb, a Legal Expert, said that the government cannot implement what it promised, because it’s not that easy. Starting an investigation in such cases can only be done through diplomatic ways, because the American soldier is immune according to the Iraqi-American Agreement, and cannot have a trial in Baghdad, but in the American courts only.

A senior official in the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the investigator that there are many cases like this one that might be dealt with in the future, according to the Iraqi-American Agreement, but this depends on the evidence that might be discovered in the future. He refused to officialise this statement, because the case is so sensitive.

Other Massacres of The Same Kind

What happened in Al-Ishaqi didn’t happen only there. Many massacres happened before and after 15 March 2006 in many cities in Iraq, like the one in Haditha four months before Al-Ishaqi, which took the lives of 24 civilians, among them ten children and women. After a shameful trial, it was proven that the massacre was a case of collective punishment, after a bomb killed an American soldier.

The trial lasted three years, and everyone thought that there would be a harsh judgment against these soldiers because of their criminal behaviour, but it came as a huge shock when the judge of Pendleton Military Court in California sentenced the Marine squad leader, who pleaded guilty for war crimes in connection with the assassination of these 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, to a maximum of 90 days in prison and a reduction in pay and rank. But because he pleaded guilty, Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich won’t serve any time in the brig. Eight Marines were initially charged. One was acquitted, and six others had their cases dropped.

Those decisions were proof of the negligence of the American judiciary in terms of protecting the Iraqi civilians from assassinations by American soldiers, who apparently have a license to kill. Another atrocity happened when American soldiers in late 2006 killed 32 Iraqi civilians during a similar raid, among them six children and eight women. No one tried to open an investigation, and the American Army issued a statement after the incident, which said that the soldiers followed correct procedures, and that they were shooting back after someone shot at them from inside one of the targeted houses.

It was not so different in the case of Al-Ishaqi, when an American commander, who was close to the area, said he didn’t know about an operation in Al-Ishaqi, claiming that the operation was carried out by soldiers who came with helicopters from one of the American military bases in Baghdad.

The American military investigators asked Faez’ brothers a few questions for two hours. After that, an American person with a Lebanese accent called them, asking them to drop charges in case they tried to sue the American Army, and in return they would get a good financial compensation. When the brothers refused that offer, no one called them again, and the case was closed.

Philip Alston made the following observation about the Al-Ishaqi incident. “The tragedy,” he said, “is that this elaborate system of communications is in place but the (U.N.) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up when states ignore issues raised with them.”

When the Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights looks the other way when crimes against humanity happen under its eyes; when the International Human Rights bodies are impotent and don’t make an issue out of war crimes and grave violations of human rights, what is the reason for their existence?

Who will have the guts and the political courage to dig into all these mass killings and other war crimes committed by the American Forces when they occupied and destroyed Iraq? People of conscience need to continue the fight for accountability and justice for Iraq. It’s the least they can do. It’s the least WE can do.

Original article appeared in Arabic:

Additional reporting and editing: Dirk Adriaensens

Translation: Lubna Al Rudaini

by Jenny Brown

Small but highly publicized strikes by Walmart retail and warehouse workers last fall set the labour movement abuzz and gained new respect for organizing methods once regarded skeptically. “The labour movement is all about results,” says Dan Schlademan, who directs the Making Change at Walmart project of the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). “The results are creating the energy.”

Walmart is a particularly rich target because the company is so large that it sets wages and prices among suppliers and competitors.

What’s the strategy behind the latest surprising wave of activism? Like most new organizing in the private sector, decades of attempts to unionize Walmart stores in the U.S. and Canada have been met with firings, outsourcing, and even closings.

So retail workers who staff the stores, warehouse workers who move Walmart’s goods, and even guest workers who peel crawfish for a supplier are ignoring the path laid out by U.S. labour law, in which workers sign a petition asking to vote on a union. Instead, they’re exercising their rights to redress grievances together, whether a majority can be rallied to support the effort or not.

One-day strikes in dozens of stores last October and November protested illegal retaliation against those who had spoken up at their workplaces and joined the Organization United for Respect (OUR) at Walmart. Several had been fired and many experienced threats and cuts in hours for their participation. “We have a way to respond to illegal actions,” Schlademan said: “the power of the strike.”

Spread to Fast Food

Last summer, following the OUR Walmart model, the Service Employees (SEIU) started funding an effort to organize fast food workers in New York, Chicago, and other cities. Inspired by the Walmart warehouse and store strikes, workers launched one-day strikes in New York City a week after Black Friday. Workers marched back in with clergy, elected officials, and press, shaming managers who had hoped to retaliate, and reinstating one Wendy’s striker when her manager fired her for participating.

While last fall was the first time Walmart has faced strikes in the U.S., it’s not the first time groups of Walmart workers have organized successfully. The Service Employees (SEIU) and the Food and Commercial Workers funded a pilot project in 2005 to form store committees in Florida, where the company was expanding rapidly at the time, and then in California.

After a year, the Florida Walmart Workers Association (WWA) had 800 dues-paying members in around 40 stores, according to Rick Smith, a co-director of the project. “The goal was 25 per cent [membership] in the store, then do shop floor actions to get people some gains in the stores,” he said.

It worked. Workers in South St. Petersburg got a co-worker unfired after half the day shift quit in protest. After their hours were cut, workers in a small town circulated a petition in the community and got their schedules restored. Others won a place to park their bikes.

A chief complaint was skimpy schedules, so WWA organized workers to apply for unemployment checks when their hours were cut back. The jump in claims meant that Walmart had to pay higher unemployment insurance premiums, leading the company to rethink its scheduling at stores where WWA was strong.

Simultaneously, the unions created leverage by hindering Walmart’s expansion in Florida, by attending hearings and challenging permits for new stores and distribution centers.

“Walmart is all about logistics,” said Smith.

No one was fired for organizing, and WWA filed no charges with the Labor Board.

Don’t Use the Hotline

Although Walmart maintains a hotline to corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, for any manager who suspects union activity, some Florida store managers avoided calling it, said Smith. They feared that anti-union teams sent by headquarters would blame them and transfer or demote them.

WWA members took advantage of management’s jumpiness, occasionally suggesting they would call Bentonville themselves if a problem could not be solved, Smith said. Store managers would back down, saying they were sure issues could be handled locally.

The Florida effort fell apart when the unions withdrew support, partly due to a fight between them. “It was frankly an experiment,” said Smith, who currently works for SEIU. “We believed you could build a workers’ organization without having collective bargaining.”

He described the effort as “outrageously successful… In some ways it’s harder now because of the economy.”

But the next steps are far from certain. “Are you trying to have a union like we have now? If so I would say forget it, don’t do it,” said Rick Smith, who was involved in a 2005 pilot project to organize Walmart in Florida. Instead, he advised activists to “figure it out as you go along.”

That’s pretty much the attitude of organizers who are making interesting things happen in warehouses, retail, restaurants, fast food, and along Walmart’s supply chain from the ports to the stores. Their efforts are part “non-majority” organizing on the job site, part strategic besmirching of their employers’ brands, part community-labour coalescing – and several parts chutzpah.

Born of Desperation

“The labour movement has tried a range of strategies over the last 20 years,” said Mark Meinster, who’s organizing Walmart warehouse workers in Illinois.

“Comprehensive campaigns, neutrality agreements, NLRB organizing – and while we’ve learned a lot through those strategies, none of it has reversed the decline.

“So now we’re at a point where there’s openness to new strategies. There’s an understanding that we won’t get labour law reform soon, that employers will continue to take a more aggressive stance toward workers and their unions, and so unions are looking at ways to impact those employers economically.”

Meinster also praised the skills labour has learned in its decades of operating from weakness: research, using the law, capital strategies, international work. The trick now, he said, is to combine those staff skills with building leaders in the workplaces and a willingness to use pre-majority organizing and, if workers so choose, strikes.

“I don’t know how to grasp corporate attention,” said Martha Sellers, a cashier in Paramount, California, who struck on Black Friday. “I expect we get to them through their paycheck.”

Interestingly Quiet

Despite Walmart’s fearsome reputation, the Black Friday strikes did not produce additional firings. “We’re not assuming a new reality inside the company, but it’s interestingly quiet,” said Schlademan.

The walkouts involved some 500 workers in dozens of stores. In some stores as few as two workers struck; in others half the shift walked out. Around 13 walked out of the Walmart in Paramount. “We were all scared, but we did it,” said Sellers. Though the store is now more understaffed than ever, managers have not taken action against the strikers, she said, and are “being very careful about what they say.”

That calm may be because the public eye is on Walmart. The actions at 1,000 stores held by community supporters, ranging from small informational pickets outside to musical flash mobs inside, gained plenty of media glare.

Walmart also wants to protect its image because it’s trying to convince city councils to let it build in urban areas that have thus far rejected the big box, markets like New York City and Seattle. Having paved rural and suburban America with its stores, Walmart is desperate to grow in cities.

Nick Allen of Warehouse Workers United believes Walmart cares about “reputational harm” that can’t be quantified, like the hit the company took when 112 apparel workers at a supplier were burned to death in Bangladesh. “When you’re the biggest employer it puts a level of scrutiny on you,” he said.

But even with Walmart on its best behavior for now, it’s unclear – even to organizers – how to take today’s retail effort to the next level. Many worker complaints, such as those about health care or pay, hit the heart of Walmart’s low-road business model and solutions can’t be extracted from local store managers. For example, workers want regular shifts. But managers get bonuses (and preserve their jobs) by keeping labour costs down using a hated just-in-time scheduling system, said Nelson Lichtenstein, a historian who writes about Walmart.

Still, “Walmart will accommodate various kinds of pressures,” said Lichtenstein, as long as it doesn’t mean recognizing a union. The penny-pinching corporation contradicted its own forecasts and raised wages in 700 of its stores in 2006, according to recently revealed company communications. The increase was likely a result of vigorous non-majority organizing in 2005 and 2006.

And on January 15 there was a sign the strikes have made top management defensive about scheduling. Walmart CEO Bill Simon announced vague intentions to change the company’s scheduling practices, which elicited a skeptical response from OUR Walmart: “We need these words to translate into real action.”

Raising Pay

If the current effort ends up raising Walmart pay substantially, it will be good news for retail and grocery workers around the country – another reason for organizers to target the company.

Walmart employs nearly one out of every 100 U.S. workers. It also sells more groceries than any of the largest U.S. grocery chains and undermines wages for grocery and other retail workers, many of them UFCW members. Walmart’s poor standards are used to justify low pay and unpredictable schedules everywhere from big box Target to New York boutiques.

OUR Walmart’s demands include $13 an hour, and fast food workers in New York and Chicago recently united under the banner of “Fight for $15.” Politicians are limping behind. In January, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that the state’s minimum wage should increase by $1.50 to $8.75, still miserably low. Nationally, the average Walmart worker makes around $8.81.

Trying to pit workers against customers, naysayers claim that higher wages will increase Walmart’s prices. But a recent study by the think tank Demos calculated that if all big low-wage retailers raised store workers to $12.25 a hour, it would lift three quarters of a million Americans above the poverty line – and cost customers only 15 cents per shopping trip.

Meanwhile, those same customers’ own wages have been dragged down by the Walmartized economy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the Walton family controls $100-billion, more wealth than the bottom 42 per cent of Americans combined.

‘Open Source’ Organizing

Walmart has more than 4,000 stores and 1.4 million employees in the U.S., so OUR Walmart has just scratched the surface. Hoping to grow quickly, organizers describe the group as “open source,” meaning that workers can stumble upon it, talk to existing activists, and then organize themselves. The group boasts thousands of members, up from 100 in early 2011, in 43 states. Members pay dues of $5 a month. UFCW has put in considerable resources and is “in it for the long haul,” said Schlademan.

Bargaining Without a Majority?

OUR Walmart members aren’t a majority even in stores where they are relatively strong, and they aren’t seeking Labor Board elections because Walmart has a track record of closing stores in retaliation.

Labour law protects them when they take action together, but without collective bargaining, will they ever be able to establish the schedules, job security, pay, and health care they’re demanding?

U.S. labour law in the 1930s provided that any group of workers could bargain on behalf of its members, even if they weren’t a majority of the workforce, according to labour law scholar Charles Morris.

This is how fast food workers in New Zealand have gained contracts with better pay – which the employer then extends to all workers lest everyone join the union (see article here). In the U.S., though, the labour board and the courts have not recently allowed non-majority bargaining.

The United Electrical Workers have organized the most sustained examples of non-majority (or pre-majority) unions, in both private and public sector workplaces in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. UE is among several unions that have asked the NLRB to allow non-majority bargaining, arguing that the law clearly provides for it.

However, even if the Obama administration’s Labor Board did recognize non-majority bargaining, the concept would face an uphill battle in the courts and in Congress, said UE’s general counsel, Joseph Cohen.

Nonetheless, the general crisis in private sector organizing and the non-majority organizing at Walmart have stimulated some union strategists to take a new look.

The Illinois AFL-CIO is co-sponsoring a conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago on March 7 to discuss “New Models of Worker Representation,” including that employed by the UE’s Warehouse Workers for Justice. Charles Morris and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will speak.

Walmart managers are spreading the word, too. As Black Friday protests approached, workers around the country reported meetings warning them not to participate.

There is a spontaneous quality to the group. OUR Walmart’s Facebook page bustles with discussions of goings-on at the stores. Workers compare their quarterly profit-sharing bonuses (measly), tell stories about crazy managers (one in Alabama recently held a 30-minute meeting in the freezer to punish staff), compare their hours (dropping since Christmas), and write in to ask for help.

“I work at the Walmart in Moultrie, Georgia,” wrote Michael Brady on December 30. “Managers use their power to fire people just because they don’t like you… I heard about this group from a friend and we really need some help here.”

Others are frustrated at work but express skepticism about organizing. “There will never be respect for us, we just work, that’s all we do… The ones that bitch get fired, so good luck with your little deal here,” wrote Travis Ratajcyzk, an unloader in Covina, California. OUR Walmart activists in other stores reassured him they had been active for over a year and had not been fired.

It’s possible the current composition of the National Labor Relations Board is helping forestall retaliatory firings. In 2000, Walmart faced board charges for retaliation against store employees across the country. Forty-one were fired for concerted activity between 1998 and 2003, says UFCW.

The union hoped to win a broad injunction against the company, which might have given workers nationwide breathing room to organize. But, according to Lichtenstein, Walmart made a call to the White House, and the incoming Bush administration promptly fired sympathetic NLRB General Counsel Leonard Page. The complaint went nowhere.

Under President Obama, the board and general counsel have been more sympathetic to worker organizing and have even sought injunctions against anti-union activity at other companies.

The board could be helpful if the company returns to its “fire first, deal with the legal problems later” attitude.

“We’re assuming the worst and hoping for the best,” said Schlademan of the company’s recent behavior. “Walmart is good at being patient and waiting until the spotlight is off of them.”

In preparation, the union and OUR Walmart have been trying out adopt-a-store ideas, so community members can immediately raise a fuss if workers are fired. They’ve also been developing an electronic rapid-response system and connecting with sympathetic local clergy and elected leaders. And they plan more strikes. •

Jenny Brown is a staff writer for Labor Notes where this article first appeared.

The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions

January 28th, 2013 by James F. Tracy

Huge New Slick at Site of BP’s 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

January 28th, 2013 by Washington's Blog


Wings of Care provided new photos of an oil slick in the area of the Gulf oil spill, noting:

Here is the large surface slick that has been sitting over the Macondo area since last autumn, with as yet no explanation from BP or the US Coast Guard as to its origin. Its persistence, even after the weeks of rough weather we have had in recent weeks and months, suggests that its flow is substantial. Scientists who have sampled it have found evidence of manmade products such as drilling mud.

Wings of Care provided an update yesterday:

The most troubling vision today was the Macondo area itself. The slick that we had first noticed last fall, which was spreading over the area within a half-mile or so of the scene of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, was huge today. It stretched over 7 nautical miles in the south-north direction and was almost a mile wide in some spots. There were some patches of rainbow sheen and even some weathered oil (brownish “mousse”), although overall it remained a light surface sheen.


There are patches of rainbow and weathered “mousse” in it as well, which we have not seen out there for many months.

Stuart Smith provides context:

In Louisiana, we are blessed to have a one-woman environmental protection agency by the name of Bonny Schumaker. A retired NASA physicist and pilot, Schumaker has found a way to merge her love of all creatures and her passion for flying to create an amazing operation called On Wings Of Care. She flies animal rescue missions but since 2010 has also devoted a lot of her energy toward helping her fellow citizens learn the truth about the aftermath of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

When the authorities wanted to restrict the public’s access to the site of the massive spill, Schumaker and her flights have documented both the scope of the spill and the extent of damage to marine life — and she hasn’t let up. In August 2011 and again in October 2012, her photographic evidence has forced BP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other agencies to acknowledge and to investigate new sightings of fresh oil sheens near where BP’s rig blew up and sank. We’re still not satisfied with BP’s response to the problem, and we’re concerned that the oil may actually be coming from fissures under the sea.

One thing is undeniably clear from the photographic evidence: The oil is still there, 33 months after the explosion.


Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey (who may win election to the U.S. Senate later this year) said of the ongoing problems at the site: “Back in 2010, I said BP was either lying or incompetent. Well, it turns out they were both. This is the same crime scene, and the American public today is entitled to the same information that BP was lying about in 2010 so that we can understand the full dimension of the additional environmental .”

“If a mandarinate ruled America, the recruiting committee on September 11 would have had to find someone like Cheney.” Washington Post author Barton Gellman in his book “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency”

Terrorism. Emergency plans. Political careers. The history of 9/11 can be written from many angles.

But whatever point of view is chosen, Dick Cheney is a central figure. “Principle is okay up to a certain point”, he once said, “but principle doesn´t do any good if you lose the nomination”. He´s surely an elusive character. Not less than Donald Rumsfeld, his close companion. Both of their lifes are inseperably bound with a dark side of recent American history. The core of the following story was originally told by the authors James Mann and Peter Dale Scott whose thorough research is deeply appreciated. Yet a lot of background information was added. Thus a bigger picture slowly took shape, showing a plan and its actors …

Cheney and Rumsfeld were an old team. Major parts of their careers they had spent together. Both had no privileged family background. Cheney´s father worked as an employee for the department of agriculture, Rumsfeld´s father had a job in a real estate company. The families´ living conditions were modest. Both sons could go to university only with the backing of scholarships.

Rumsfeld, born 1932, chose political science. He was a rather small and sturdy person, but with energetic charisma. While at university he engaged in sport and was known as a succesful ringer. Later Rumsfeld went to the Navy to become a pilot. The Navy hat paid a part of his scholarship. At the end of the 1950s he eventually started his career in politics as assistant of a congressman. Meanwhile father of a young family, and following a short intermezzo at an investment bank, Rumsfeld himself ran for Congress, at the age of 29 only.

Getting backing

The prospects in his Chicago home district were unfavorable. He was inexperienced and almost without any voter base, compared to the other candidates. But the dynamic and ambitious Rumsfeld impressed some of Chicago´s business leaders, such as the boss of pharma heavyweight Searle. They paid for his campaign. With this economic power in his back also one of Chicago´s newspapers supported him. Rumsfeld won the election in 1962 and went to Washington as a republican representative.

At the beginning of the 1960s he visited lectures at the University of Chicago, where Milton Friedman was teaching, one of the most influential economists of his time. Friedman was one of the founding fathers of neoliberalism. He called for less influence of the state and praised the self regulation of the markets. In 1962 his bestseller Capitalism and Freedom was published. Rumsfeld was impressed by these thoughts. In a speech honoring Friedman 40 years later he remembered: “Government, he has told us, has three primary functions: It should provide for the military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. And it should protect citizens against crimes against themselves or their property.” (1) This self-imposed restriction of politics was also the core of Rumsfeld´s belief while he served in Congress in the 1960s.

An apprentice in politics

Cheney, 9 years younger than Rumsfeld, meanwhile studied political science as well. First at Yale, where he left soon because of poor grades, then at a less prestigious university in the Midwest. Contrary to the forceful Rumsfeld he appeared rather defensive, quiet and cautious. His imminent recruiting to the Vietnam war he avoided by getting deferred from military service because of his study at the university and the pregnancy of his wife, until he couldn´t be recruited because of his age in 1967.

At the age of 27 Cheney was looking for a job in Washington. He applied for an internship at Rumsfeld´s office. But Rumsfeld rejected him. The failed interview was embarrassing for Cheney who in later times liked to tell the story of this flop as an anecdote. But soon both men found together.

Under president Nixon, Rumsfeld had switched in 1969 from Congress to government. First he ran the Office of Economic Opportunity. There he administered federal social programs – not exactly one of his major concerns, but still one step forward in career. Rumsfeld was looking for new staffers to pass on work. By recommendation of a befriended representative he employed Cheney as his assistant. Cheney was a diligent worker and quickly made himself indispensable. Whoever wanted something from Rumsfeld, learned soon to try it via Cheney.

Rumsfeld´s career developed. People started becoming aware of him nationwide. He looked good, was energetic and had a catching smile. His intelligence was outstanding. But he also liked to exaggerate and escalate conflicts and often was unnecessarily blunt to others. Soon he became president Nixon´s advisor (who would praise him as a “ruthless little bastard”). Three years later he went to europe becoming NATO´s ambassador there – escaping from Washington shortly before the Watergate affair would kill the careers of many of Nixon´s advisors.

Tasting power

In the mid of the 1970s politics in America went through a time of upheaval. The economy was in crisis. With the lost war in Vietnam, nationwide student protests and Watergate the leadership of the superpower showed internal signs of decay, culminating in Nixon´s resignation in 1974. Successor Gerald Ford appointed Rumsfeld to become chief of staff with Cheney shadowing him closely as his deputy.

Now both men had arrived in the centre of power. The position of chief of staff was seen as highly influential in the White House. He was the closest advisor to the president, controlled his schedule and also decided who would meet him. After Nixon, Watergate and the extensively publicly discussed CIA scandals the new administration had to fight with a damaged reputation. This difficult situation, with a relatively weak president, increased the importance of the chief of staff.

Rumsfeld and Cheney were partners now and had great influence on president Ford. When he reshuffled his cabinet abruptly in 1975 in the so-called “Halloween massacre”, firing among others the CIA director and the secretary of defense, many suspected Rumsfeld being the wirepuller. Fact was at least that he and Cheney were profiteering.

Rumsfeld now took over the command at the Pentagon. There he started expensive and prolonged defense projects like the Abrams tank and the B-1 bomber, building economic impact for decades. At the same time the 34 years old Cheney moved up to become chief of staff in the White House. Now he was no longer only assistant but an authority with relevant beliefs. One of his rules went: “Principle is okay up to a certain point, but principle doesn´t do any good if you lose the nomination.” (2)

Revolving doors

However soon just that happened. After the defeat of the Republicans in 1976 both men dropped out of government. Together with their families they spent holidays with each other in the Caribbean. Rumsfeld remembers the relaxing break with pleasure: “We played Tennis, boated, and spent time in the sun talking about life. Cheney grilled steaks and made chili.” (3)

Back home Cheney started capitalizing his Washington insider knowledge by working for a consulting company, helping wealthy clients with their investment decisions. But soon he returned to politics. At the end of the 1970s he went as elected Congressman to the House of Representatives. Yet the stress and pressure had their effect on the cautious and restrained Cheney – at age 37 he suffered his first heart attack.

Rumsfeld on the other hand found his new place for a longer time in private business. Dan Searle, the Chicago pharma magnate who had financed his first election campaign 15 years before, now entrusted him his whole company, appointing him to Searle´s CEO. Financially Rumsfeld climbed to new heights with that job. As CEO he got 250.000 Dollars a year, about four times more than as secretary of defense. (4) And also in his new job he made no half measures. Within short time Rumsfeld fired more than half of the employees, generating a huge increase in corporate profit. The business newspapers praised him as an outstanding manager.

In the 1980s the Republicans came back to power with Ronald Reagan. The new president conjured up the threatening picture of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” and increased military spending. The Cold War gained new momentum.

The Armageddon Plan

At this time the White House also developed a secret emergency plan, put in action however only at September 11th, 2001 for the first time. Initially it should guarantee that the government could continue its operations even after a Soviet nuclear strike. The plan was called COG (Continuity of Government) and called for a very special emergency measure: when disaster struck, three teams should be sent to different places in the country, replacing the government. Each team would have an own “president” as well as other people standing in for the different departments and government agencies. If one team would be killed, the next one could be activated. So the planners hoped to keep control over the military and the most important parts of the administration, after an atomic bomb or another disaster had wiped out the government in Washington. (5)

These worries about a possible “decapitation” of the national leadership were deemed very seriously because exactly this course of action was also part of the U.S. war strategy towards the Soviets. (6)

The COG plan existed not only on paper. It was exercised in reality regularly in the 1980s. Once a year the teams, each consisting of a “president”, a “chief of staff” and about 50 staffers, were secretly flown from Washington to a closed military base or a bunker somewhere in the United States. There they played the emergency scenario for several days. Not even their closest relatives knew about the location or purpose of the exercise. (7)

Richard Clarke, later anti-terror coordinator under the presidents Clinton and Bush junior, recalls one of the maneuvers at that time:

 ”I remember one occasion where we got the call. We had to go to Andrews Air Force Base and get on a plane and fly across the country. And then get off and run into a smaller plane. And that plane flew off into a desert location. And when the doors opened on the smaller plane, we were in the middle of a desert. Trucks eventually came and found us and drove us to a tent city. You know, this was in the early days of the program. A tent city in the middle of the desert — I had no idea where we were. I didn’t know what state we were in. We spent a week there in tents, pretending that the United States government had been blown up. And we were it. It’s as though you were living in a play. You play-act. Everyone there play-acts that it’s really happened. You can’t go outside because of the radioactivity. You can’t use the phones because they’re not connected to anything.” (8)

Part of every team was one authentic secretary, leading a government department also in real life. He had to play the president. Yet his real life portfolio didn´t matter – at one point even the secretary of agriculture played the president. In the end the secretary taking part in the exercise was usually just the one being dispensable. Apparently more important was the role of the chief of staff. This part was routinely played only by a person who had been White House chief of staff also in real life. (9)

Therefore Rumsfeld and Cheney were regular participants of the secret annual COG exercises. Other attendants described them as being involved in shaping the program. (10) So at a time when the two men had no position whatsoever in government (Rumsfeld, as mentioned, was boss of a pharma company, Cheney was congressman), both of them disapeared every year for a few days to practice the take-over of the government after a disaster.

Above the law

The plan was secret also because it bypassed the constitution. Since the presidential succession was already explicitly fixed by law: if the president died, the vice president took over, then followed by the speaker of the house, after him the longest serving senator, then the secretaries of state, treasury, defense and so forth. However the COG plan simply ignored this well balanced constitutional arrangement. In an emergency it called instead for a president who was not democratically legitimized at all.

The plan was authorized with a secret directive by president Reagan. According to his security adviser Robert McFarlane Reagan personally decided who would lead the individual teams. The COG liaison officer in charge inside the National Security Council was Oliver North, who later became known as the key person in the center of the Iran-Contra scandal. (11)

Only incidentally, in connection with that scandal, the first details of the secret plan came to light in 1987. Under president Reagan Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North had coordinated a series of steps building in effect a shadow government, Congress didn´t know about, let alone having approved it. The Miami Herald wrote about this in 1987: “Oliver North helped draw up a controversial plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. (…) From 1982 to 1984, North assisted FEMA, the U.S. government’s chief national crisis-management unit, in revising contingency plans for dealing with nuclear war, insurrection or massive military mobilization.” (12)

That the COG plan, suspending the constitution, could indeed not only be activated in case of a nuclear war, was laid out in a further directive authorized by Reagan in the last days of his presidency in November 1988. According to this directive the plan should be executed in a “national security emergency”, defined rather vague as a “natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States”. (13) In effect this meant a massive undermining of democratic principles. The COG plan, executed unter the circumstances mentioned, could also be used as cover for a coup d’état.

Meanwhile Cheney and Rumsfeld went on secretly exercising the take-over of the government during their annually running maneuvers. Belonging to this inner circle of potential state leaders had to be an uplifting feeling for both men. In case of a huge disaster the fate of the nation would lie in their hands.

Reach for the presidency

At the end of the 1980s Cheney moreover had climbed to the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, the elite network connecting business leaders and politicians, well known for its huge influence on American foreign policy. In the meantime Rumsfeld had become a multimillionaire through the sale of the pharma company he had led. He planned running for the presidency in 1988. But his campaign didn´t succeed. From the outset Reagan´s vice president Bush senior had been the republican frontrunner – and finally also won the election.

But now Cheney got his chance. He became secretary of defense in the new administration, the same position Rumsfeld had already held 12 years before. Cheney successfully managed the first Iraq war in 1991, which led – parallel to the decline of the Soviet Union – to a permanent deployment of U.S. troops in the oil-rich Saudi Arabia. The control over Iraq was now in reach.

After the defeat of the Republicans in 1992 Cheney also considered an own presidential campaign. Yet soon he had to realize that he lacked support. Instead he moved to the private sector, becoming CEO of Halliburton, one of the world´s biggest oil supply companies. As secretary of defense he already had build connections to the firm, leading later to multi-billion-dollar contracts with the Pentagon. The new job now also filled Cheney´s pockets, making him a multimillionaire as well.

Meanwhile Rumsfeld had established himself as a highly effective and ambitious business executive. In the 1990s he first led a telecommunications company, then a pharma corporation.

The COG plan still existed, however with other presumptions. After the fall of the Soviet Union it no longer focused on the Russian nuclear threat, but on terrorism. Though it was reported in the mid 1990s that president Clinton wanted the program to phase out, it later became clear that this announcement only applied to the portion of the plan relating to a nuclear attack. (14) Then anti-terror coordinator Richard Clarke later disclosed that he had updated the COG plan in 1998. (15) The corresponding presidential directive (PDD-67) was secret. Its precise content was never made public. (16)

Cold War reloaded

At the same time a circle of neoconservatives around Rumsfeld and Cheney prepared for return to power. At the end of the 1990s they founded an organisation called “Project for the New American Century” (PNAC). Their self declared desire: “increase defense spending significantly” and “challenge regimes hostile to our interests”. (17)

In parallel Rumsfeld headed a congressional commission assessing the threat of foreign long range missiles. Already in the 1980s Ronald Reagan had started plans for a national missile defense, which burdened the national budget over the years with about 50 billion dollars. Yet in the 1990s even the own intelligence agencies saw no longer a real threat. Because who should fire missiles on Washington in the near future? Yeltsin´s Russia? Or China, that became economically more and more interdependent with the United States? However the so-called “Rumsfeld Commission” revised the assessment of the intelligence agencies. In its 1998 published report new possible aggressors were named: North Korea, Iran and Iraq. (18)

The same year Rumsfeld and his PNAC associates had already written an open letter to president Clinton, urging him to be tougher on Iraq. Saddam Hussein´s regime should be “removed”, the letter demanded. (19)

Finally, in September 2000, two month before the presidential election, PNAC published a lengthy strategy paper, giving policy guidance to the next administration. “Rebuilding America´s Defenses” was its programmatic title and it analysed principles and objections of a new defense policy.

Basically the paper called for a massive increase in defense spending and a transformation of the armed forces into a dominant but mobile, rapidly deployable power factor. The aim was enduring military supremacy, which according to PNAC would urgently require new weapons systems like the missile defense. Yet the paper made also clear that the process of implementing these demands would be a long one and provoke resistance, “absent” – quote – “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” (20)

A question of energy

After George W. Bush´s inauguration in January 2001 the members of this circle secured important posts in the new administration. Cheney turned into the leading figure. This had become apparent well before the election. As early as April 2000 Bush had asked him to handle the selection of his vice presidential running mate. In the end Cheney had all but proposed himself for the job. (21) Meanwhile the workaholic had survived three heart attacks. One of his first recommendations to Bush was the appointment of Rumsfeld, almost 70, as secretary of defense. Deputy of his old associate became Paul Wolfowitz, a hardliner who had already worked for Cheney as chief strategist in the Pentagon at the beginning of the 1990s. Compared to these men president Bush himself was a newcomer in Washington. Though he was blessed with political instinct and a very practical intuition, he could hardly hold a candle to these old hands intellectually.

One of the first steps of the new administration was the creation of a “National Energy Policy Development Group”. It was headed directly by Cheney. Its final report, issued in May 2001, described the situation quite openly:

“America in the year 2001 faces the most serious energy shortage since the oil embargoes of the 1970s. (…) A fundamental imbalance between supply and demand defines our nation´s en­ergy crisis. (…) This imbalance, if allowed to continue, will inevitably undermine our economy, our standard of living, and our national security. (…) Estimates indicate that over the next 20 years, U.S. oil consumption will increase by 33 percent, natural gas consumption by well over 50 percent, and demand for elec­tricity will rise by 45 percent. If America´s energy production grows at the same rate as it did in the 1990s we will face an ever-in­creasing gap. (…) By 2020, Gulf oil producers are projected to supply between 54 and 67 percent of the world´s oil. Thus, the global economy will almost certainly continue to depend on the supply of oil from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members, particularly in the Gulf. This region will remain vital to U.S. interests.” (22)

Later it was disclosed that Cheney´s energy task force had also secretly examined a map of the Iraqi oil fields, pipelines and refineries along with charts detailing foreign suitors for il-field contracts there. Again, the date was March 2001.

Anticipating the unthinkable

Concurrently to its effort in energy policy the new administration created an “Office of National Preparedness”. It was tasked with the development of plans responding to a possible terror attack and became assigned to the “Federal Emergency Management Agency” (FEMA). (23) FEMA was already responsible for the COG plan since the 1980s. To call it back to mind: “From 1982 to 1984, Oliver North assisted FEMA in revising contingency plans for dealing with nuclear war, insurrection or massive military mobilization.” (24)

Back then Cheney had played a role in shaping these plans. Now he could continue the work – because Bush appointed him to head the new program. (25) Director of FEMA on the other hand became Joe Allbaugh, who had little professional expertise, but could offer other qualities. Allbaugh was Bush´s campaign manager, a man for tough and rather rude matters and also one of the president´s closest confidants. Back in 1994 he had managed Bush´s campaign to become governor of Texas and at the end of 2000 he had helped stopping the recount of votes in Florida. (26) That an expert for political tricks was appointed to head FEMA indicates that the administration had political plans with the emergency management agency from the outset.

Till today it´s undisclosed how the COG plan was refined in detail under Cheney´s direction in 2001.  However the following is apparent: in the months leading to 9/11 Cheney linked anti-terror and emergency management measures with national energy policy. Commissions working on both issues were handled by him simultaneously. This connection anticipated the policy after 9/11, which could be summarized as using a terror attack as rationale for extending the power of the executive and waging war to seize control of world regions important for energy supply.

The emergency plans Rumsfeld and Cheney were involved with since the 1980s culminated in autumn 2001. On the morning of September 11th the secret COG program was implemented for the first time. (27) Shortly before 10:00 a.m., after the impact of the third plane into the Pentagon, Cheney gave the order to execute it. (28)

The shadow government

Almost nothing is known about the content of the plan and the specific effects of its activation. The secrecy in this respect appears grotesque. Even the simple fact of the plan´s implementation on 9/11 was concealed for months. After sporadic hints in the press the Washington Post finally disclosed some details in March 2002. In an article titled “Shadow government is at work in secret” it reported that about 100 high-ranking officials of different departments were working outside Washington as part of the emergency plan since 9/11:

“Officials who are activated for what some of them call ‘bunker duty’ live and work underground 24 hours a day, away from their families. As it settles in for the long haul, the shadow government has sent home most of the first wave of deployed personnel, replacing them most commonly at 90-day intervals. (…) Known internally as the COG, for ‘continuity of government’, the administration-in-waiting is an unannounced complement to the acknowledged absence of Vice President Cheney from Washington for much of the past five months. Cheney’s survival ensures constitutional succession, one official said, but ‘he can´t run the country by himself.’ With a core group of federal managers alongside him, Cheney – or President Bush, if available – has the means to give effect to his orders.” (29)

But what orders gave Cheney to his strange “shadow government” while his stays at the bunker? And what justified extending this emergency measure for seemingly infinite time? For the White House clearly hadn´t been wiped out by bombs. The president lived and his administration was able to act. Who needed a permanent second secret government?

After the first disclosure of these facts in spring 2002 leading politicians of the legislative immediately started expressing their astonishment. Soon it became clear that neither Senate nor House of Representatives knew anything about the activation of COG and the work of the “shadow government” in secret. The parliament had simply been ignored. (30) Later the 9/11 Commission experienced similar executive secrecy. Though it mentioned in its final report the implementation of the plan on 9/11, it also admitted not having investigated the issue in depth. Instead the Commission had only been briefed “on the general nature” of the plan. (31)

Patriots under pressure

An immediate response to 9/11 was the Patriot Act, passed only one month later, and allowing a broad range of highly controversial measures, from domestic wiretapping to warrantless detention of foreign terror suspects. The latter legalized the forthcoming procedures at Guantánamo, leading to secret U.S. prisons all over the world.

Two influential opponents of these legal changes were Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader, and Patrick Leahy, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both received letters with spores of deadly anthrax. The source was never traced with certainty. After that Daschle and Leahy gave up their resistance against the new legislation and approved the Patriot Act. (32)

In their radical nature the hastily passed changes bore resemblance to decrees while a state of emergency. And indeed were they similarly already part of the COG plan in the 1980s. (33)

Government officials familiar with COG indicated after 9/11 that the plan could really have resulted in martial law – if additionally to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon also large numbers of congressmen and executive branch leaders had been killed on that day. (34)

Is it in this context a coincidence only that the fourth hijacked plane on 9/11 was heading towards Washington to hit the Capitol or the White House? (35)

Killers from Sudan?

There is also circumstantial evidence for an assassination attempt on president Bush in Florida that morning. The Secret Service had received a related warning the night before at 4:08 a.m., according to a TV report by a local ABC affiliate. (36) A few hours later Secret Service agents searched an apartment in Sarasota and arrested four men from Sudan, apparently belonging to the south sudanese liberation army SPLA, a paramilitary force secretly supported by the United States. (37) Also AP reported these arrests mentioning that the suspects had been released soon again because they had “no connection” to 9/11. The whole issue just would have been a “coincidence”. (38)

President Bush spent the night before 9/11 at a resort on Longboat Key, an island right next to Sarasota where he planned to visit an elementary school on the next morning. Longboat Key Fire Marshall Carroll Mooneyhan was a further witness of the possible assassination attempt. He said that at about 6 a.m. on September 11th a van with self-proclaimed reporters of middle eastern descent had pulled up at Bush´s resort, stating they had a “poolside” interview with the president. The men asked for a special Secret Service agent by name but where turned away by the guards. (39)

Were these “reporters” identical with the Sudanese temporarily arrested by the Secret Service later that morning in Sarasota? The incident resembled at least the successful assassination of Taliban foe Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before on September 9th in Afghanistan. The suicide attackers there were also a fake TV team using a bomb hidden in a camera, as the New York Times reported on September 10th. (40)

Additionally three witnesses remembered seeing Mohammed Atta and a companion at Longboat Key´s Holiday Inn on September 7th, three days before Bush would spend the night on that same small island. (41) September 7th was also the day the White House first publicly announced Bush´s schedule to travel to Sarasota. (42) In this context it is surely worth to consider if Atta scouted out the place for an assassination plot.

Completing the plot

The question arises: Did a circle around Cheney, Rumsfeld and some associates use 9/11 for a disguised coup d’état, partly failed in its execution?

Regardless of the answer to that question – 9/11 in fact allowed the implementation of emergency measures, the weakening of the legislative, the start of several wars and a massive increase in defense spending. The amounts in question easily exceed the imagination of observers.

While in the second half of the 1990s the average national defense budget totaled about 270 billion dollars a year, that number nearly doubled in the decade after 9/11, when the average annual budget went up to over 500 billion. (43) For the Pentagon´s private contractors that meant a sales increase of inconceivable 2.300 billion dollars between 2001 and 2010.

A national economy under arms

If one looks at the development of defense spending in the United States since 1940, some far-reaching conclusions arise. (44) It seems as if the attack on Pearl Harbor and the following involvement in World War II led to a structural change of the American economy. The budgetary value of the military was never reduced to a “normal” level after that. On the contrary it increased decade by decade. Thus the whole economy got into a fatal dependency on the defense business.

This ongoing development came to a halt only with the fall of the Soviet Union. Ten years later then 9/11 became the catalyzing event to kick-start the military buildup again – with all its broad economic effects on the country.

Cheney and Rumsfeld don´t seem to be driving forces in this “game”, but merely two talented managers, risen to the top in the stream of events. Author James Mann, who had disclosed their involvement in the COG plan first in 2004, described their political role this way:

“Their participation in the extra-constitutional continuity-of-government exercises, remarkable in its own right, also demonstrates a broad, underlying truth about these two men. For three decades, from the Ford Administration onward, even when they were out of the executive branch of government, they were never far away. They stayed in touch with defense, military, and intelligence officials, who regularly called upon them. They were, in a sense, a part of the permanent hidden national-security apparatus of the United States, inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America keeps on fighting.” (45)


 (1)  US Department of Defense, 09.05.02, “Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld speaking at Tribute to Milton Friedman”

 (2)  James Mann, “Rise of the Vulcans. The History of Bush ́s War Cabinet”, New York 2004, p. 73

 (3)  Donald Rumsfeld, “Known and Unknown. A Memoir”, New York 2011, p. 240

 (4)  Ibid., p. 245

 (5)  James Mann, “Rise of the Vulcans. The History of Bush ́s War Cabinet”, New York 2004, pp. 138-145

(6)  Ibid., p. 139

(7)  Ibid., p. 138

(8)  ABC, 25.04.04, “Worst Case Scenario – Secret Plan to Control U.S. Government After an Attack Went Into Motion on 9/11″

(9)  James Mann, “Rise of the Vulcans. The History of Bush ́s War Cabinet”, New York 2004, p. 140

(10)  Ibid., p. 138;

Washington Post, 07.04.04, “‘Armageddon’ Plan Was Put Into Action on 9/11, Clarke Says”, Howard Kurtz

(11)  James Mann, “Rise of the Vulcans. The History of Bush ́s War Cabinet”, New York 2004, p. 142

(12)  Miami Herald, 05.07.87, “Reagan Aides and the ‚secret‘ Government”, Alfonso Chardy

(13)  Peter Dale Scott, “The Road to 9/11. Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America”, Berkeley 2007, p. 185;

Executive Order 12656 – “Assignment of emergency preparedness responsibilities”, 18.11.88

(14)  Peter Dale Scott, “The Road to 9/11. Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America”, Berkeley 2007, p. 186

(15)  Richard Clarke, “Against All Enemies. Inside America ́s War on Terror”, New York 2004, p. 167

(16)  PDD-NSC-67 – “Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations”, 21.10.98

(17)  Project for the New American Century, 03.06.97, “Statement of Principles”

(18)  New York Times, 16.07.98, “Panel Says U.S. Faces Risk Of a Surprise Missile Attack”, Eric Schmitt

(19)  Project for the New American Century, 26.01.98, “Iraq Clinton Letter”

(20)  Project for the New American Century, September 2000, “Rebuilding America´s Defenses”, p. 51

(21)  Barton Gellman, “Angler. The Cheney Vice Presidency”, New York 2008, Chapter 1

(22)  “National Energy Policy – Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group”, 16.05.01

(23)  White House press release, 08.05.01, “Cheney to Oversee Domestic Counterterrorism Efforts”

(24)  Miami Herald, 05.07.87, “Reagan Aides and the ‚secret‘ Government”, Alfonso Chardy

(25)  White House press release, 08.05.01, “Cheney to Oversee Domestic Counterterrorism Efforts”

(26)  Peter Dale Scott, “The Road to 9/11. Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America”, Berkeley 2007, p. 210

(27) 9/11 Commission Report, p. 38

(28) “Brief Timeline of Day of 9/11 Events, drafted by White House”

Washington Post, 27.01.02, “America’s Chaotic Road to War”, Dan Balz and Bob Woodward

(29)  Washington Post, 01.03.02, “Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret”, Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt

(30)  Washington Post, 02.03.02, “Congress Not Advised Of Shadow Government”, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin

(31)  9/11 Commission Report, p. 555

(32)  Salon, 21.11.01, “Why Daschle and Leahy?”, Anthony York

(33)  Miami Herald, 05.07.87, “Reagan Aides and the ‚secret‘ Government”, Alfonso Chardy

(34)  ABC, 25.04.04, “Worst Case Scenario – Secret Plan to Control U.S. Government After an Attack Went Into Motion on 9/11″">

(35)  9/11 Commission Report, p. 14

(36)  Daniel Hopsicker, “Welcome to Terrorland”, 2004, p. 42

(37)  Ibid., p. 44

(38)  Ibid., p. 45

(39)  Longboat Observer, 26.09.01, „Possible Longboat terrorist incident – Is it a clue or is it a coincidence?“, Shay Sullivan">

(40)  New York Times, 10.09.01, „Taliban Foe Hurt and Aide Killed by Bomb“

(41)  Longboat Observer, 21.11.01, „Two hijackers on Longboat?“, Shay Sullivan

(42)  White House, 07.09.01, „Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer“

(43)  US Office of Management and Budget, “Table 3.1 – Outlays by Superfunction and Function: 1940–2016″

(44)  Ibid.

(45)  The Atlantic, March 2004, “The Armageddon Plan”, James Mann

James Mann, “Rise of the Vulcans. The History of Bush ́s War Cabinet”, New York 2004, p. 145

“The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation, according to the officials who briefed on intelligence.” WSJ, Nov 1, 2012

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, finally appeared before the US Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees on Wednesday, January 23, after a long delay. She was asked many questions by the Congress about what had happened in Benghazi on September 11 and how this could happen. The problem with the responses she gave to these questions was that she focused on the narrative presented in the State Department Report that had been released a month earlier, and which is deeply flawed.

In order to understand the nature of what happened on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, and how the State Department under Hillary Clinton has been an important part of the cover up of what this second September 11 is actually a part of, it is important to understand the problem with the State Department Report being used to carry out the US government cover up of what I call the Benghazi Affair.

On December 18, the US State Department released its report on the September 11, 2012 attacks on two US facilities in Benghazi, Libya. These attacks had resulted in the deaths of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans working for the US government in Libya. The US government had claimed that its report would shed light on what had become a contentious Congressional and media debate over the cause and details of the attack on these two US government compounds in Benghazi.

Soon, however, it became clear that the State Department Report issued by the Accountability Review Board (hereafter ARB Report), offered the public little information to add to what had already been made available by the State Department or the media. Instead, the public version of the ARB Report, referred to as the “unclassified” version, actually functions as part of the cover-up of what happened on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi. Most of this public document carefully refrains from any discussion of the role or activities of the CIA and what bearing this had on the events of September 11-12 2012 in Benghazi. But the role of the CIA in Benghazi and its bearing on what happened there on September 11 is the crucial question that any legitimate investigation into the situation must explore.

The trick of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) was that it issued two different versions of its Report. One version was an “unclassified” report that was available to the press, the public and the US Congress to discuss in public.(1) The other version was a “classified” report that was to be hidden from public or press scrutiny and was only to be available to Congress in a closed Congressional process. The unclassified version of the ARB Report could not mention the CIA activities. It could only discuss the role of the State Department in what happened.

The problem with such a restriction is that one of the US government sites in Benghazi that was attacked was a CIA facility referred to as the ‘Annex’ (hereafter CIA annex compound). The other site was allegedly a State Department administered facility referred to as the ‘Special Mission Benghazi Compound’ (hereafter special mission compound). This second compound, according to the WSJ, was actually created to provide diplomatic cover for the CIA facility.(2)

While some US Congressional Committees have been conducting investigations into what happened in Benghazi, they have agreed to discuss only the activities of the State Department in their open, public sessions, and to reserve any consideration or questions about the activities of the CIA for closed sessions of their committees, away from public view.(3)

Not only is the US Congress restricted from discussing the role of the CIA in Benghazi in open session, some of the mainstream US media have agreed to a request by the US government to withhold details about the CIA operations in Benghazi. The New York Times (NYT) is one such publication. (4) In an article briefly referring to the CIA annex compound, which the NYT says “encompassed four buildings inside a low-walled compound….” The NYT acknowledges that, “From among these buildings, the C.I.A. personnel carried out their secret missions.” But then the article explains that, “The New York Times agreed to withhold locations and details of these operations at the request of Obama administration officials….”

To declare an investigation into or discussion of the activities regarding the role of the CIA and its Annex compound as a forbidden subject during an open committee meeting of Congress, is to prevent the US Congress from fulfilling its oversight obligations over the US Executive branch of government. For the US government to require the US media to restrict coverage is to shroud the needed public discussion and investigation in darkness.

The effort to cover up the role of the CIA in the events resulting in the attack on the two US government facilities in Benghazi, however, demonstrates that something important is at stake and worth investigating.

Despite the US government effort to impose such restrictions, there are media accounts and some Congressional documents that provide a glimpse into the details of hidden CIA activity that the attacks on the US facilities in Benghazi help to reveal.

To understand the nature of this hidden activity, requires a willingness not only to critique the official explanations, but also to examine the events that can help to uncover the actual forces at work in Benghazi and the role they played in CIA activities in Libya.

One Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article is particularly helpful. The article, is titled “CIA Takes Heat for Role in Libya.” It provides a rare window into details of the murky world of the CIA operation in Benghazi and how it came about.(5)

The article notes that former CIA Director David Petraeus did not greet the bodies of the four Americans killed in Benghazi when they were returned to the US, even though two of those killed are acknowledged to have worked for the CIA. “Officials close to Mr. Petraeus,” the WSJ explains, “say he stayed away in an effort to conceal the agency’s role in collecting intelligence and providing security in Benghazi.”

Of the 30 or more American officials evacuated from Benghazi, only seven worked for the State Department. According to the WSJ, “Nearly all the rest worked for the CIA, under diplomatic cover, which was a principle purpose” of the special mission compound.

Soon after the struggle against the government of Libya began in February 2011, the CIA set up a compound in Benghazi for its spy operations. Eventually, the CIA gave its compound a State Department office name, the Annex, to disguise its purpose, the WSJ reveals. According to the US government, the role of the CIA in Benghazi was “focused on countering proliferation and terrorist threats….A main concern was the spread of weapons….”

“At the annex,” the WSJ explains, “many of the analysts and officers had what is referred to in intelligence circles as ‘light cover’ carrying U.S. diplomatic passports.”

Providing a cover for the secret operation of the CIA, however, created problems for State Department officials who felt the CIA was not “forthcoming with information,” even in the midst of the attack on the US facilities. As the WSJ notes, on September 11, 2012, “At 5:41 p.m. Eastern time, Mrs. Clinton called Mr. Petraeus. She wanted to make sure the two agencies were on the same page.”

Even after the attack was over and the analysts and officers had been evacuated, the accounts in the WSJ and McClatchy Newspapers, describe how quickly the CIA acted to clean out documents and equipment from the Annex. By contrast, the US government left the premises of the special mission compound unguarded and open to looters for weeks after the attack.

“The significance of the annex was a well-kept secret in Benghazi,” the WSJ reporters conclude. A McClatchy article documents how a well guarded secret was even the location of the CIA Annex compound. (6)

The implication is that the attackers at the special mission compound intended to flush out the covert location and presence of the CIA Annex compound so as to end its ability to continue its secret activities.(7)

An opinion piece, “The Fog of Benghazi”, appeared in the WSJ on November 3. It discusses what was at stake for the US government as a result of the September 11 attack in Benghazi(8): “America has since closed the Libya diplomatic outpost and pulled a critical intelligence unit out of a hotbed of Islamism, conceding a defeat. U.S. standing in the region and the ability to fight terrorist groups were undermined, with worrying repercussions for a turbulent Middle East and America’s security. This is why it’s so important to learn what happened in Benghazi.”

The effort to learn what happened in the Benghazi Affair, is similarly the subject of a 10 page letter dated October 19 sent by two US Congressmen to President Obama. (9) One of the Congressmen, Darrell Issa, is Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The other, Jason Chaffetz, is Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations.

Their letter raises ten questions for President Obama, the answers to which they explain are needed for the US Congressional investigation to determine the significance of the Benghazi affair. Also in their letter they include an attachment of 160 pages of data and photos which document the lawless environment in Libya, and particularly in Benghazi in the months before the Benghazi attack. This data was obtained by the US Congress from the State Department. (10) Though the data is labeled as sensitive, it is not classified material.

This data documents in a way that is now public, the perilous environment existing in Libya, providing a graphic description of the armed militias who carry out bombings, murders and kidnappings of government officials and others who try to challenge the lawlessness.

The data demonstrates the details of what the ARB Report acknowledges as “a general backdrop of political violence, assassinations, targeting former regime officials, lawlessness, and an overarching absence of central government authority in eastern Libya.” (11)

The Internet has made possible the publication of a number of investigative accounts of various aspects of the Benghazi Affair. Several of these propose that the CIA and even Chris Stevens were part of a gun running operation, gathering up weapons from Libya and facilitating their shipment to the insurgents fighting against the government in Syria. Some of the articles also propose that the CIA operation in Benghazi helped to send mercenaries from other countries to fight against the government of Syria. (12)

Fox News and a number of associated websites have featured articles which offer such accounts. Often, however, the articles rely on anonymous sources to support their claims.

Rarely are media offering accounts that portray this reality able to present direct evidence to support the narratives they develop.

An important exception is an article that appeared in the Times of London on September 14, 2012. This was three days after Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

The article documents that a ship, the Al Entisar (also written as Intisaar or The Victory in English), sailing under a Libyan flag with a 400 ton cargo, which included SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and some humanitarian supplies, is said to have arrived September 6 at the Turkish Port of Iskenderun.(13)

The captain of the ship, Omar Mousaeeb, a Libyan from Benghazi, was accompanied by 26 Libyans who were on board to help smuggle the shipment from the Turkish Port across the border into Syria. The plan was then to distribute the weapons to insurgents in Syria who were allied with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This account by the Times of London provides specific details about the mechanisms and problems of this Libyan weapons pipeline to the insurgency in Syria. The article describes the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) over who would get the weapons from the Al Entisar shipment.

“The scale of the shipment and how it should be disbursed, has sparked a row between the FSA and the Muslim Brotherhood, who took control of the shipment when it arrived in Turkey,” writes Sheera Frenkel, the author of the Times of London article.

Though the ship arrived at the port in Turkey on September 6, not all of the cargo had been transported into Syria by September 14, the article notes, though this is over a week after the ship arrived at the port in Turkey. While “more than 80 percent of the ship’s cargo,” the Times of London explains, “had been moved into Syria, Mr. Mousaeeb and a group of Libyans who had arrived with the ship said they were preparing to travel with the final load into Syria to ensure it was being distributed.” Actually their concern appeared to be to whom it was distributed, not how.

The Times of London refers to two Syrian activists with the FSA who complained that infighting within the insurgent ranks had delayed the arrival of the weapons in Syria, “There was widespread talk of Syrian groups who allied themselves with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement being given a larger share of the ship’s cargo.” One activist quoted objects that, “The Muslim Brotherhood, through its ties with Turkey, was seizing control of this ship and its cargo.”

While the Times of London does not directly link Chris Stevens or the CIA annex compound to the Al Entisar arms shipment to Turkey, the article does provide an important context for how the conflict over which insurgent group would get weapons from the shipment created a source of significant tension at the very time the attack on the two US compounds in Benghazi took place.

Given the question, “Why Chris Stevens would have traveled to Benghazi to be in this perilous environment on September 11,” an answer which points to some urgent matter which needed his attention, would help to provide the rationale for him to ignore the security considerations against his making such a trip.

Keeping in mind the importance of this shipment of weapons from Benghazi to Turkey, the need to work out the details of the weapons distribution process could very well have provided the motive for Stevens to plan a visit in Benghazi during such a perilous period as the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the US.

By September 11, infighting among the Muslim Brotherhood and other insurgent groups, over who would be given the weapons from the Al Entisar shipment, suggests the likelihood that Turkey’s Consul General in Benghazi and the US Ambassador needed to discuss the conflict over the weapons and the problem of how they should be moved into Syria and distributed among the insurgent groups.

In line with this reasoning, it is not surprising that Chris Stevens had a meeting with Turkey’s Consul General to Benghazi, Ali Sait Akin on September 11 at the Benghazi special mission compound.

The description of the infighting over the Al Entisar shipment to a port in Turkey of weapons for the Syrian insurgency, raises the possibility that the Turkish Consul General to Benghazi and Stevens discussed the conflict over the weapons. As of September 11, there were weapons that had yet to be distributed and smuggled into Syria from the Al Entisar shipment.

On September 10, when Stevens arrived in Benghazi, the shipment of arms had only recently been received at the Turkish port of Iskenderun, and the conflict among the insurgent groups who were to receive the weapons was not yet resolved.

According to documents that Congress received from the State Department, soon after Stevens arrived in Benghazi on September 10, he visited the CIA annex compound for a briefing.

On September 11 he stayed at the special mission compound but had meetings scheduled with someone from the Arabian Gulf Oil Co. (AGOCO), and later in the afternoon with someone from the Al Marfa Shipping and Maritime Services Co. (The names of the individuals were blacked out.) Then he had dinner and discussion with Ali Sait Akin, Turkey’s Consul General to Benghazi.(14)

While there has been no specific information made available by the State Department about the content of the meetings Stevens had on September 10 and 11, Turkey’s role in the shipping of weapons and foreign fighters into Syria to assist the fight against the Syrian government is the subject of numerous articles. The Times of London article describes previous difficulty experienced in trying to ship a cargo of weapons to where they could be safely unloaded and moved to insurgents in Syria. Given this previous experience it is not surprising that it was necessary to have the Turkish government intervene to settle problems that arose with the Al Entisar weapons shipment. It had taken several weeks “to arrange the paperwork for the Turkish port authorities to release the cargo.”(15) The Times of London quoted Suleiman Haari, who worked with Captain Mousaeeb. Haari explained that “Everyone wanted a piece of the ship. Certain groups wanted to get involved and claim the cargo for themselves. It took a long time to work through the logistics.”

This could account for the surprise visit by the then head of the CIA, David Petraeus on September 2 to Ankara. (16) Petraeus arrived in Ankara for what appeared to be talks with the President of Turkey and other Turkish government officials. Were Petraeus’s meetings with Turkish government officials needed to help make the arrangements for the Libyan ship to dock at the port in Turkey and unload the weapons that were to be smuggled across the border into Syria? This is a question Petraeus could answer if he were to testify at a US Congressional hearing again.

In light of the WSJ claim that the special mission compound had been set up to provide diplomatic cover for the CIA operation run out of the Annex, the question is raised as to whether the special mission compound was actually a State Department facility or a CIA facility acting under cover as a State Department operation.

According to the unclassified version of the ARB Report, Chris Stevens had arrived in Benghazi on April 5, 2011, “via a Greek cargo ship at the rebel-held city of Benghazi to re-establish a U.S. presence in Libya.” He had been appointed the US government’s “Special Envoy to the Libyan Transitional National Council” (TNC), acting as an official contact between the insurgents fighting to overthrow the government of Libya and the US government that was aiding them to bring about regime change in Libya. (17) Such an activity is contrary to international law and provisions of the UN charter (Article 2 Sections 1, 4, 7) which prohibit interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. (18)

Stevens’ mission, the Report states, “was to serve as the liaison with the TNC” for a post-Qaddafi government in Libya. The US embassy had been closed in February 2011, and was only reopened on September 22, 2011 with Gene Cretz as the Ambassador.

The ARB Report notes, however, that the CIA had set up the CIA compound in Benghazi in February 2011 soon after the insurgency arose against the Libyan government. This is a confirmation that the US government had put intelligence operatives on the ground in Benghazi just as the insurgency against the Libyan government was getting underway. This is also at least one month before Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi.

The ARB Report also reveals that Chris Stevens stayed at the CIA Annex from the beginning of June, 2011 until June 21, 2011. Not until June 21 did “he and his security contingent move into what would become the Special Mission Benghazi compound….” According to the ARB Report the special mission compound in Benghazi was set up a few months after the CIA compound. (19)

This puts in perspective why the WSJ article on November 1 says that the special mission compound was established to provide diplomatic cover for the CIA facility, subsequently referred to as “the Annex”. Stevens remained as Special Envoy to the TNC and stayed in Benghazi until November 17, 2011. On May 26, 2012 Stevens arrived in Tripoli to replace Cretz as US Ambassador to Libya.

What was the State Department responsibility for the special mission compound? If its purpose was to provide diplomatic cover for the CIA, then what was the CIA responsibility? These are significant questions. But it is unlikely that such questions will be asked at the public Congressional oversight investigations because questions about the role of the CIA Annex in Benghazi have been declared to be a classified matter.

Though the NYT article, ”U.S. Approved Weapons for Libya Rebels Fell into Jihadis’ Hands,” about the Benghazi affair doesn’t go into detail about what the CIA was doing in Benghazi, it raises a significant issue that is likely to be at the root of why there was an attack on both the special mission compound and the CIA Annex compound.(20) The NYT refers to the concern US government officials involved in the program raise about the problems created by the US government helping to provide weapons to insurgents fighting in Libya and Syria. According to the NYT, what these Islamic militants will do with these weapons worries high level US government national security officials.

While officially, the US government claims it is not providing weapons, the Times of London article about the shipment of weapons from Benghazi to Turkey, provides a striking example of how the US and Turkish governments, both overtly, and covertly, appear to be involved in collecting weapons in Libya and helping to ship them to be used against the Syrian government and people.(21)

The NYT claims that the US government has little control over where these weapons go and the harm they do when used in Libya, Syria, or other conflicts in the region. The NYT reports, “Concerns in Washington soon rose about the groups Qatar was supporting, officials said. A debate over what to do about the weapons shipments dominated at least one meeting of the so-called Deputies Committee, the interagency panel consisting of the second-ranking officials in major agencies involved in national security. ‘There was a lot of concern that Qatar weapons were going to Islamist groups,’ one official recalled.” (22)

These supposed ‘Qatar’ weapons, however, did not originate with Qatar alone. By way of an example, the NYT quotes one US weapons dealer who wanted to sell weapons to the insurgency in Libya during the war against Libya. The NYT describes how he applied to the State Department for a license. “He also sent an e-mail to J. Christopher Stevens, then the special representative to the Libyan rebel Alliance, ” reports the NYT. According to e-mails provided to the NYT by the arms dealer, Marc Turi, Stevens wrote back to Turi that he would “share Mr. Turi’s proposal with colleagues in Washington.” Eventually the weapons dealer was encouraged to communicate with contacts in Qatar.(23)

Such examples help to demonstrate both that there is concern among US government officials in Washington about the US government arming militant Islamists, the very people the US government condemns as “terrorists” in other situations. Also though the weapons pipeline may have on the surface been made to appear unconnected to the US actually supplying the arms that are being distributed by Qatar or Saudi Arabia, in the case of Marc Turi, as one example, the weapons pipeline was arranged for by a license provided by the US government to ship the weapons to Qatar.

Such examples provide the context for how the US government has covertly and overtly been helping to provide the weapons that are then used by those hostile to the US to inflict harm on the Libyan and Syrian people and even on Americans, as those killed in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. This situation, several commentators have noted, is reminiscent to the Iran Contra Affair where the US government entities covertly acted in a way that jeopardized the interests and even the physical well being of US officials and civilians. And it is likely that the actions being taken by US government officials to arm and provide other forms of support for the Libyan and Syrian insurgencies, are contrary to US laws and constitutional obligations.(24)

Such considerations reflect some of the salient concerns raised by a number of online commentators about the Benghazi Affair. One example of many that have been published online in the last few months is the article “Benghazigate: The Cover-up continues” by Bill Shanefeld published at the American Thinker website. The article raises two important questions (25): “(1) The pre-”event” purpose of the compound and its Annex (since these operations probably motivated the perpetrators of the “event”); and (2) Team Obama’s failed policies in North Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan.”

The article also refers to some of the many contributions made by other online commentators. These various commentaries help to clarify that the Benghazi affair offers a relatively rare window into the on the ground actions of the US government’s clandestine operations. These actions are the partner to the role the US government is playing in the UN Security Council and the UN in general in its efforts to turn the UN into a partner in its CIA and NATO activities. The Benghazi Affair is an important situation and the question remains as to whether the illegal activities of the US government acting contrary to the obligations of the UN Charter in Libya and more recently Syria will come to light.


1. U.S. State Department Public Accountability Board Report

2.Margaret Coker, Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman, Margaret Coker, ”CIA
Takes Heat for Role in Libya,” WSJ, November 1, 2012.

3. Dana Milbanks, “Letting Us in on a Secret,” Washington Post,
October 10, 2012,

4.Helene and Eric Schmidt, Michael S Schmidt, “Deadly Attack In Libya
was Major Blow to CIA Efforts,” New York Times, September 23, 2012.

5. Margaret Coker, Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman, Margaret Coker, ”CIA
Takes Heat for Role in Libya,” WSJ, November 1, 2012.

6.Nancy A. Youssef, “Libyans, diplomats: CIA’s Benghazi station a
secret – and quickly repaired,” McClatchy Newspapers, November 12,

7. Catherine Herridge, “CIA moved swiftly to scrub, abandon Libya
facility after attack, source says,” Fox News, December 5, 2012.

8. “The Fog of Benghazi,” Opinion Piece, WSJ, Nov. 3, 2012

9. Letter from Representative Issa and Representative Chaffetz to
President Obama, October 19, 2012

10. The Oversight Committee’s letter was accompanied by 166 pages of
documents and photos.


11. U.S. State Department Public Accountability Board Report

12. See for example, ”Interview with Clare M. Lopez”

13. Sheera Frenkel, “Syrian rebels squabble over weapons as biggest
shipload arrives from Libya; Turkey,” Times (London), September 14,
2012, p. 23

14. Schedule of Chris Stevens activities on September 10 and September 14.

Included in data sent to President Obama by Issa and Chaffetz

15. Sheeran Frenkel, “Syrian rebels squabble over weapons as biggest
shipload arrives from Libya; Turkey,” Times (London), September 14,
2012, p. 23

16. “CIA chief Petraeus pays surprise visit to Turkey,” Hurriyet Daily
News, September 2, 2012

J. Millard Burr, “The Benghazi Attack: Some Thoughts,” Economic
Warfare Institute Blog, Oct 24, 2012.

17. U.S. State Department Public Accountability Board Report

18. Dr. Curtis Doebbler, “It is illegal to support rebels fighting a
legitimate government,” Note from,

19. U.S. State Department Public Accountability Board Report

Margaret Coker, Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman, Margaret Coker, ”CIA
Takes Heat for Role in Libya,” WSJ, November 1, 2012.

20. Mark Mazzetti, James Risen, Michael S Schmidt, ”U.S. Approved Arms
for Libya Rebels Fell into Jihadis’ Hands,” NYT, December 5, 2012.

21. Sheera Frenkel, “Syrian rebels squabble over weapons as biggest
shipload arrives from Libya; Turkey,” Times ( London), September 14,
2012, p. 23

Also see other relevant articles such as:

Christina Lamb, “Covert US Plan to Arm Rebels,” The Sunday Times
(London), December 9, 2012, p. 1,2

Franklin Lamb, “Flooding Syria with Foreign Arms: A View from
Damascus”, Foreign Policy Journal, Nov. 5, 2012.

J. Millard Burr, “You Can Kiss Petraeus Goodbye,” End Time News, Nov. 5, 2012

22. Mark Mazzetti, James Risen, Michael S Schmidt, ”U.S. Approved Arms
for Libya Rebels Fell into Jihadis’ Hands,” NYT, December 5, 2012.

23. Mark Mazzetti, James Risen, Michael S Schmidt, ”U.S. Approved Arms
for Libya Rebels Fell into Jihadis’ Hands,” NYT, December 5, 2012.

24. Michael Kelley, “The CIA’s Benghazi Operation May Have Violated
International Law,” Nov. 5, 2012

Oona A. Hathaway, Elizabeth Nielsen, Chelsea Purvis, Saurabh Sanghvi,
LEGAL FRAMEWORK.,” Yale Law School Report. Posted Nov. 15, 2011.

25. Bill Shanefeld, “Benghazigate the cover-up continues.” American
Thinker, January 9, 2013.

A version of this article appears on my netizenblog at

Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar GRIMMSON was interviewed over the weekend (26./27.01.2013) at the World Economic Forum in Davos on why Iceland has enjoyed such a strong recovery after it’s complete financial collapse in 2008, while the rest of the Western world struggles with a recovery that has no clothes.

Grimsson gave a famous reply to the financial MSM reporter, stating that Iceland’s recovery was due to the following primary reason:

„… We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn’t introduce austerity measures like you’re seeing here in Europe. …“

When asked whether Iceland’s policy of letting the banks fail would have worked in the rest of Europe, Grimsson replied:

„… Why are the banks considered to be the holy churches of the modern economy? Why are private banks not like airlines and tele-communication companies and allowed to go bankrupt if they have been run in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bail-out banks is a theory that you allow bankers enjoy for their own profit their success, and then let ordinary people bear their failure through taxes and austerity. 
People in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run. …“

The whole interview with Grimmson (02:56 min) is available – see:


US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s “Economic Legacy”

January 28th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

From January 26, 2009 – January 25, 2013, he was Obama’s Treasury Secretary. He and Fed chairman Bernanke engineered crisis conditions.

Bankers profited hugely. They still do. Ordinary people were scammed. Geithner’s gone. His legacy speaks for itself. His background showed what to expect. He spent three years at Kissinger Associates.

From 1988 – 2002, he held various Treasury posts. He left to become Council on Foreign Relations international economics department senior fellow.

From 2001 – 2003, he was IMF Policy Development and Review director. He left to become New York Fed president.

He partnered with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Bernanke. They planned the grandest of grand thefts. They implemented banker bailouts.

They looted the federal treasury. They stuck taxpayers with the bill. They debased the currency. They transformed America into an unprecedented money making racket.

As New York Federal Reserve Bank president/vice chairman of the Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC), Geithner helped engineer crisis conditions.

As Treasury Secretary, he exacerbated them. He turned them into a protracted mainstream depression.

In November 2008, Michel Chossudovsky asked “Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse?”

The “financial meltdown (wasn’t) the result of a cyclical economic phenomenon.” It was willful government policy. It was implemented “through the Treasury and the US Federal Reserve Board.”

It was and remains “the most serious economic crisis in World history.” Banker bailouts exacerbated crisis conditions. They “trigger(ed) an unprecedented concentration of wealth.”

Economic and social inequality followed. Indebtedness “skyrocketed.” Everything that happened was planned. Robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul became policy.

Geithner and Bernake bear full responsibility. They partnered in crime. Neil Barofsky was Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) watchdog. He served as SIGTARP (Special Inspector General for TARP).

In July 2009, he estimated the initial $700 billion bailout could balloon to $23.7 trillion. He said Obama administration secrecy concealed what’s essential to reveal.

Trillions were stolen. From $9 to $14 trillion is known. Estimates range to multiples that amount. Corrupt bureaucrats and crooked bankers alone know how much.

Five major ones matter most: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. They reflect more than too big to fail. What they say goes. They occupy Washington. They run America. They dictate policy.

Geithner and Bernanke are crime bosses. They’re complicit in grand theft. They abandoned Main Street for Wall Street. They know where the bodies are buried. They know the harm they caused.

Bankers got bailouts. Ordinary people were lied to and scammed. Geithner and Bernanke exceeded the worst of Bush administration policies. Too big to fail became a license to steal.

They serve Wall Street giants. They engineered a financial coup d’etat. They created a fraudulent housing and debt bubble. They illegally shifted vast amounts of capital offshore.

Privatization became piracy. It was used as pretext to shift government assets to private investors. They did so at below-market prices.

At the same time, they moved private liabilities to government. They did it at no cost to private interests.

They’re waging war on middle America. They want social societies destroyed. They want banana republics replacing them. Labor is earmarked for destruction. Totalitarian neoliberal rule is planned.

Unaccountability is institutionalized. Crisis conditions remain unresolved. Much worse ahead looms. Expect Geithner to return to his ideological roots. He’s heading back to Wall Street. Expect him to cash in for services rendered.

Days before he left, he called his bailout scheme doomed to be unpopular. “You look like you’re giving aid to the arsonist,” he said.

He claims history will judge him more kindly. He turned reality on its head. He wrecked the economy. He claims he saved it. He didn’t avoid a Great Depression. He caused one.

He didn’t save millions of jobs. He destroyed them. He engineered fake financial reform. He capitulated to Wall Street. He avoided real change. He advanced global monetary control. He did it at the expense of fairness.

He took advantage of a corrupted system. It’s crisis-prone, unstable, anarchic, ungovernable, and self-destructive. It repeats boom and bust cycles.

Crooks run monetary and fiscal policy. Recessions and depressions follow. Ordinary people are hurt most. Bankers and other financial giants profit enormously. Add money laundering to their profit centers.

Money power controls America. Policy facilitates grand theft. Too big to fail banks consolidate. They become larger and more powerful.

They game the system for profit. They gamble with public money. They wage financial war on humanity. Massive fraud facilitates private gain. Reform is a figure of speech.

Last July, New York Fed documents implicated Geithner in rigging Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate). It’s a fundamental rate-setting benchmark. It’s set daily between UK banks for overnight to 12 month durations.

It’s produced for ten currencies with 15 maturities. It represents the London market’s lowest cost of unsecured funding. It’s the primary global short-term rate benchmark.

Last summer’s scandal reflected a cesspool of financial fraud. Manipulating the rate up lets banks steal countless billions in inflated loan costs.

Downward manipulation deprives states, communities, pension funds, ordinary investors, and retirees of similar amounts from fixed income holdings.

As New York Fed president and Treasury Secretary, Geithner was complicit in fraud. His mandate was to facilitate it. He didn’t disappoint.

Instead of fixing a corrupted system, he advanced and exacerbated it. He turned crisis conditions into disaster. He and Bernanke share honors as public enemy number one.

They gave away the store to Wall Street. They laid foundational plans for greater grand theft. In real democracies, they’d be in prison. Washington will have to explain why not.


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

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

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

by Jerry Elmer

MY LAI, Vietnam — My Lai is known to Americans as the site of a massacre of Vietnamese civilians by American troops. On the morning of March 16, 1968, American forces entered the village and gathered up all living things: elderly men and women, infants in mothers’ arms, pigs, chickens, and water buffalo. Then, the Americans proceeded to kill them all, slowly, carefully, methodically. It took four hours (this was no sudden outburst of passion), until all 504 people and all the animals were massacred. Fifty-six of the people killed were under seven years old; some of the infants were bayoneted to death. Women were raped before being shot.

After the killing orgy, two of the American soldiers (one a religious Mormon) sat down to lunch nearby. Unfortunately, their meal was interrupted by the moans of a few villagers shot and left for dead, but not yet fully dead. The two soldiers, disturbed by the interruption, finished off the few villagers still alive, and then went placidly back to their meal.

Today, there is a memorial here at the site of the massacre. Part of the memorial is an indoor museum. The highlight of the museum is a somber plaque containing the names and ages of each one of the 504 people killed. There is a large outdoor monument and several smaller sculptures on the grounds. There is also a large outdoor mosaic in a pattern that reminds one of Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” (which was commissioned as a memorial to the victims of an earlier massacre). Here at My Lai, one can walk around the remains of the village and see the Thun Yen ditch in which 170 of the victims died. And one can see the remaining brick foundations of the few burned village houses that had brick foundations. It was raining today in My Lai. Neither the village nor the museum is very large, and it does not take long to see it all.

My friend, Lady Borton, who lives in Vietnam, tried to discourage me from visiting My Lai. Back in 1968, Lady had been living in Quang Ngai Province, where My Lai is located, working for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the co-recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize. AFSC had a center in Quang Ngai, providing medical aid for civilian war victims. Lady had taken some of the first American journalists to My Lai after the massacre was first revealed in the West by Seymour Hersh. Lady said to me, “The point I made then, which was ignored then, is that this behavior by American GIs happened all the time. I had friends who survived and were killed in subsequent massacres in the same area. There were many massacres…. I hold a contrarian view about [these] tourist sites because they lift up one incident (or one individual) as if this were an aberration, when, at least to my observation, the truth is quite the opposite.”

Lady (that’s her name, not her title) is quite correct; the My Lai massacre was not an aberration. It was an exemplar of what American troops did in Vietnam. The issue that Lady raises is an important one, and it is part of a wider debate that has been going on for decades.

In 1962, Hannah Arendt covered the trial of Adolph Eichmann for The New Yorker magazine, and her articles were subsequently published as a book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Arendt’s book caused a firestorm of controversy. Her argument, reflected in the subtitle of the book, was that Eichmann was not a monster, not an aberration; he was an ordinary man, a bureaucrat, who did his job efficiently and well. In the 50 years since the Eichmann trial, Arendt’s central argument has become a commonplace — so much so that it is difficult for contemporary observers to appreciate how controversial Arendt’s thesis was at the time. Today, Daniel Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, makes much the same point. Hitler did not kill six million Jews on his own, and atrocities were not limited to a few monsters in the Schutzstaffel (SS). The Holocaust was carried out with the cooperation and assistance of millions of ordinary people. Evil is banal, not extraordinary.

Lady argues that My Lai was just an ordinary example of a far wider phenomenon. Arendt argues that Eichmann was just an ordinary example of a far wider phenomenon. They are both correct.

This argument resonates for me because, growing up, I heard it from my own family, Viennese Jewish refugees who fled Vienna after the Anschluβ, the Nazi takeover of Austria in March 1938. For example, I keenly remember the controversy that erupted in 1972 over the elevation of the Austrian Kurt Waldheim to be Secretary General of the United Nations. During World War II, Waldheim had been an intelligence officer in the Nazi Wehrmacht. His defense of his actions was that Austria had been Hitler’s firstvictim. Don’t blame Austrians for Nazi atrocities, Waldheim said; we Austrians were victims of the Nazis. My grandmother was outraged. She told me how, when Hitler marched into Vienna, jubilant throngs of Austrians packed the streets to welcome him. Mothers held infants aloft to be blessed by Hitler. Austrians were not unwilling victims, my grandmother told me; the Austrians embraced Hitler eagerly and enthusiastically.

My grandmother’s personal experience agreed with Goldhagen’s scholarly research; the Holocaust was not caused only by Hitler and a few henchmen. Despite the controversy Arendt stirred up in 1962, she was absolutely correct: what was really scary about Eichmann was precisely his banality.

So, too, with My Lai. One leading scholarly account of the massacre describes Charlie Company, which carried out the atrocity, as “very average” for American forces (Four Hours in My Lai, by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim, pp. 50-51). Of Lt. William Calley, the only American convicted of the crime, Bilton and Sim say that he was “a bland young man burdened with as much ordinariness as any single individual could bear … conventional and commonplace” (Id., p. 49). Another scholarly account of the massacre says: “There was simply nothing unusual about Charley Company” (My Lai: A Brief History with Documents, by James S. Olson and Randy Roberts, p. 10).

That is to say, I believe that Lady is correct. My Lai was not an aberration; it was very, very ordinary. But still I traveled many hours out of my way to visit. Why?

I believe that, while what happened on March 16, 1968 here at My Lai was in no way unusual, exemplars like this help us to remember important matters. In 1975, I visited the memorial that now stands at Dachau with my father. It was a very moving visit, not because this was the only place where the Holocaust was carried out, but because it was — in its typicality — an exemplar. Seeing the barracks, seeing the crematoria, reminded me that this was one of the very, very many places where the Holocaust was carried out.

In 1981, I was one of the first Westerners in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power. The killing field at Rolous Village that I visited, with its acres of skeletal remains and the stench of rotting corpses, was not unique; but it was an important exemplar of a much broader phenomenon. As an exemplar it was worth visiting, because it helped me to understand and remember the wider phenomenon.

So too with My Lai. Lady is correct; My Lai was not unusual. But I am glad I came here, because it helps me understand and remember the wider phenomenon.

Jerry Elmer is the author of Felon for Peace: The Memoir of a Vietnam-Era Draft Resister. The book has been published in Vietnam as Tôi ph?m vì hòa bìng, by Th? Gi?i Publishing House in Hanoi, which is bringing out a third edition of the book in January on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement.

Here in the United States, where there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime, the rape and gruesome murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi on December 16th was treated as an exceptional incident. The story of the alleged rape of an unconscious teenager by members of the Steubenville High School football team was still unfolding, and gang rapes aren’t that unusual here either. Take your pick: some of the 20 men who gang-raped an 11-year-old in Cleveland, Texas, were sentenced in November, while the instigator of the gang rape of a 16-year-old in Richmond, California, was sentenced in October, and four men who gang-raped a 15-year-old near New Orleans were sentenced in April, though the six men who gang-raped a 14-year-old in Chicago last fall are still at large.  Not that I actually went out looking for incidents: they’re everywhere in the news, though no one adds them up and indicates that there might actually be a pattern.

There is, however, a pattern of violence against women that’s broad and deep and horrific and incessantly overlooked. Occasionally, a case involving a celebrity or lurid details in a particular case get a lot of attention in the media, but such cases are treated as anomalies, while the abundance of incidental news items about violence against women in this country, in other countries, on every continent including Antarctica, constitute a kind of background wallpaper for the news.

If you’d rather talk about bus rapes than gang rapes, there’s the rape of a developmentally disabled woman on a Los Angeles bus in November and the kidnapping of an autistic 16-year-old on the regional transit train system in Oakland, California — she was raped repeatedly by her abductor over two days this winter — and there was a gang rape of multiple women on a bus in Mexico City recently, too.  While I was writing this, I read that another female bus-rider was kidnapped in India and gang-raped all night by the bus driver and five of his friends who must have thought what happened in New Delhi was awesome.

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.

Here I want to say one thing: though virtually all the perpetrators of such crimes are men, that doesn’t mean all men are violent. Most are not. In addition, men obviously also suffer violence, largely at the hands of other men, and every violent death, every assault is terrible.  But the subject here is the pandemic of violence by men against women, both intimate violence and stranger violence.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Gender

There’s so much of it. We could talk about the assault and rape of a 73-year-old in Manhattan’s Central Park last September, or the recent rape of a four-year-oldand an 83-year-old in Louisiana, or the New York City policeman who wasarrested in October for what appeared to be serious plans to kidnap, rape, cook, and eat a woman, any woman, because the hate wasn’t personal (though maybe it was for the San Diego man who actually killed and cooked his wife in November and the man from New Orleans who killed, dismembered, and cooked his girlfriend in 2005).

Those are all exceptional crimes, but we could also talk about quotidian assaults, because though a rape is reported only every 6.2 minutes in this country, the estimated total is perhaps five times as high. Which means that there may be very nearly a rape a minute in the U.S.  It all adds up to tens of millions of rape victims.

We could talk about high-school- and college-athlete rapes, or campus rapes, to which university authorities have been appallingly uninterested in responding in many cases, including that high school in Steubenville, Notre Dame University,Amherst College, and many others. We could talk about the escalating pandemicof rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the U.S. military, where Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta estimated that there were 19,000 sexual assaults on fellow soldiers in 2010 alone and that the great majority of assailants got away with it, though four-star general Jeffrey Sinclair was indicted in September for “a slew of sex crimes against women.”

Never mind workplace violence, let’s go home.  So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over 1,000 homicides of that kind a year — meaning that every three years the death toll tops 9/11’s casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular terror. (Another way to put it: the more than 11,766 corpses from domestic-violence homicides since 9/11 exceed the number of deaths of victims on that day and all American soldiers killed in the “war on terror.”) If we talked about crimes like these and why they are so common, we’d have to talk about what kinds of profound change this society, or this nation, or nearly every nation needs. If we talked about it, we’d be talking about masculinity, or male roles, or maybe patriarchy, and we don’t talk much about that.

Instead, we hear that American men commit murder-suicides — at the rate of about 12 a week — because the economy is bad, though they also do it when the economy is good; or that those men in India murdered the bus-rider because the poor resent the rich, while other rapes in India are explained by how the rich exploit the poor; and then there are those ever-popular explanations: mental problems and intoxicants — and for jocks,head injuries. The latest spin is that lead exposurewas responsible for a lot of our violence, except that both genders are exposed and one commits most of the violence. The pandemic of violence always gets explained as anything but gender, anything but what would seem to be the broadest explanatory pattern of all.

Someone wrote a piece about how white men seem to be the ones who commit mass murders in the U.S. and the (mostly hostile) commenters only seemed to notice the white part. It’s rare that anyone says what this medical study does, even if in the driest way possible: “Being male has been identified as a risk factor for violent criminal behavior in several studies, as have exposure to tobacco smoke before birth, having antisocial parents, and belonging to a poor family.”

Still, the pattern is plain as day. We could talk about this as a global problem, looking at the epidemic of assaultharassment, and rape of women in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that has taken away the freedom they celebrated during the Arab Spring — and led some men there to form defense teams to help counter it — or the persecution of women in public and private in India from “Eve-teasing” to bride-burning, or “honor killings” in South Asia and the Middle East, or the way that South Africa has become a global rape capital, with an estimated 600,000 rapeslast year, or how rape has been used as a tactic and “weapon” of war in Mali, Sudan, and the Congo, as it was in the former Yugoslavia, or the pervasiveness of rape and harassment in Mexico and the femicide in Juarez, or the denial of basic rights for women in Saudi Arabia and the myriad sexual assaults on immigrant domestic workers there, or the way that the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case in the United States revealed what impunity he and others had in France, and it’s only for lack of space I’m leaving out Britain and Canada and Italy (with its ex-prime minister known for his orgies with the underaged), Argentina and Australia and so many other countries.

Who Has the Right to Kill You?

But maybe you’re tired of statistics, so let’s just talk about a single incident that happened in my city a couple of weeks ago, one of many local incidents in which men assaulted women that made the local papers this month:

“A woman was stabbed after she rebuffed a man’s sexual advances while she walked in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood late Monday night, a police spokesman said today. The 33-year-old victim was walking down the street when a stranger approached her and propositioned her, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. When she rejected him, the man became very upset and slashed the victim in the face and stabbed her in the arm, Esparza said.”

The man, in other words, framed the situation as one in which his chosen victim had no rights and liberties, while he had the right to control and punish her.  This should remind us that violence is first of all authoritarian. It begins with this premise: I have the right to control you.

Murder is the extreme version of that authoritarianism, where the murderer asserts he has the right to decide whether you live or die, the ultimate means of controlling someone.  This may be true even if you are “obedient,” because the desire to control comes out of a rage that obedience can’t assuage. Whatever fears, whatever sense of vulnerability may underlie such behavior, it also comes out of entitlement, the entitlement to inflict suffering and even death on other people. It breeds misery in the perpetrator and the victims.

As for that incident in my city, similar things happen all the time.  Many versions of it happened to me when I was younger, sometimes involving death threats and often involving torrents of obscenities: a man approaches a woman with both desire and the furious expectation that the desire will likely be rebuffed.  The fury and desire come in a package, all twisted together into something that always threatens to turn eros into thanatos, love into death, sometimes literally.

It’s a system of control. It’s why so many intimate-partner murders are of women who dared to break up with those partners.  As a result, it imprisons a lot of women, and though you could say that the attacker on January 7th, or a brutal would-be-rapist near my own neighborhood on January 5th, or another rapist here on January 12th, or the San Franciscan who on January 6th set his girlfriend on firefor refusing to do his laundry, or the guy who was just sentenced to 370 years for some particularly violent rapes in San Francisco in late 2011, were marginal characters, rich, famous, and privileged guys do it, too.

The Japanese vice-consul in San Francisco was charged with 12 felony counts of spousal abuse and assault with a deadly weapon last September, the same month that, in the same town, the ex-girlfriend of Mason Mayer (brother of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer) testified in court: “He ripped out my earrings, tore my eyelashes off, while spitting in my face and telling me how unlovable I am… I was on the ground in the fetal position, and when I tried to move, he squeezed both knees tighter into my sides to restrain me and slapped me.” According to the newspaper, she also testified that “Mayer slammed her head onto the floor repeatedly and pulled out clumps of her hair, telling her that the only way she was leaving the apartment alive was if he drove her to the Golden Gate Bridge ‘where you can jump off or I will push you off.’” Mason Mayer got probation.

This summer, an estranged husband violated his wife’s restraining order against him, shooting her – and six other women — at her spa job in suburban Milwaukee, but since there were only four corpses the crime was largely overlooked in the media in a year with so many more spectacular mass murders in this country (and we still haven’t really talked about the fact that, of 62 mass shootings in the U.S. in three decades, only one was by a woman, because when you say lone gunman, everyone talks about loners and guns but not about men — and by the way, nearly two thirds of all women killed by guns are killed by their partner or ex-partner).

What’s love got to do with it, asked Tina Turner, whose ex-husband Ike once said, “Yeah I hit her, but I didn’t hit her more than the average guy beats his wife.” A woman is beaten every nine seconds in this country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. It’s the number-one cause of injury to American women; of the two million injured annually, more than half a million of those injuries require medical attention while about 145,000 require overnight hospitalizations, according to the Center for Disease Control, and you don’t want to know about the dentistry needed afterwards. Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S.

“Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined,” writes Nicholas D. Kristof, one of the few prominent figures to address the issue regularly.

The Chasm Between Our Worlds

Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage some men lay down as they attempt to control some women, and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they’ve gotten so used to they hardly notice — and we hardly address. There are exceptions: last summer someone wrote to me to describe a college class in which the students were asked what they do to stay safe from rape. The young women described the intricate ways they stayed alert, limited their access to the world, took precautions, and essentially thought about rape all the time (while the young men in the class, he added, gaped in astonishment). The chasm between their worlds had briefly and suddenly become visible.

Mostly, however, we don’t talk about it — though a graphic has been circulating on the Internet called Ten Top Tips to End Rape, the kind of thing young women get often enough, but this one had a subversive twist.  It offered advice like this: “Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone ‘by accident’ you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.” While funny, the piece points out something terrible: the usual guidelines in such situations put the full burden of prevention on potential victims, treating the violence as a given. You explain to me why colleges spend more time telling women how to survive predators than telling the other half of their students not to be predators.

Threats of sexual assault now seem to take place online regularly. In late 2011, British columnist Laurie Penny wrote, “An opinion, it seems, is the short skirt of the Internet. Having one and flaunting it is somehow asking an amorphous mass of almost-entirely male keyboard-bashers to tell you how they’d like to rape, kill, and urinate on you. This week, after a particularly ugly slew of threats, I decided to make just a few of those messages public on Twitter, and the response I received was overwhelming. Many could not believe the hate I received, and many more began to share their own stories of harassment, intimidation, and abuse.”

Women in the online gaming community have been harassed, threatened, and driven out. Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic who documented such incidents, received support for her work, but also, in the words of a journalist, “another wave of really aggressive, you know, violent personal threats, her accounts attempted to be hacked. And one man in Ontario took the step of making an online video game where you could punch Anita’s image on the screen. And if you punched it multiple times, bruises and cuts would appear on her image.” The difference between these online gamers and the Taliban men who, last October, tried to murder 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for speaking out about the right of Pakistani women to education is one of degree. Both are trying to silence and punish women for claiming voice, power, and the right to participate. Welcome to Manistan.

The Party for the Protection of the Rights of Rapists

It’s not just public, or private, or online either.  It’s also embedded in our political system, and our legal system, which before feminists fought for us didn’t recognize most domestic violence, or sexual harassment and stalking, or date rape, or acquaintance rape, or marital rape, and in cases of rape still often tries the victim rather than the rapist, as though only perfect maidens could be assaulted — or believed.

As we learned in the 2012 election campaign, it’s also embedded in the minds and mouths of our politicians.  Remember that spate of crazy pro-rape thingsRepublican men said last summer and fall, starting with Todd Akin’s notorious claim that a woman has ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of rape, a statement he made in order to deny women control over their own bodies. After that, of course, Senate candidate Richard Mourdock claimed that rape pregnancies were “a gift from God,” and just this month, another Republican politician piped up to defendAkin’s comment.

Happily the five publicly pro-rape Republicans in the 2012 campaign all lost their election bids. (Stephen Colbert tried to warn them that women had gotten the vote in 1920.)  But it’s not just a matter of the garbage they say (and the price they now pay).  Earlier this month, congressional Republicans refused to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, because they objected to the protection it gave immigrants, transgendered women, and Native American women.  (Speaking of epidemics, one of three Native American women will be raped, and on the reservations 88% of those rapes are by non-Native men who know tribal governments can’t prosecute them.)

And they’re out to gut reproductive rights — birth control as well as abortion, as they’ve pretty effectively done in many states over the last dozen years. What’s meant by “reproductive rights,” of course, is the right of women to control their own bodies. Didn’t I mention earlier that violence against women is a control issue?

And though rapes are often investigated lackadaisically – there is a backlog of about 400,000 untested rape kits in this country– rapists who impregnate their victims have parental rights in 31 states. Oh, and former vice-presidential candidate and current congressman Paul Ryan (R-Manistan) is reintroducing a bill that would give states the right to ban abortions and might even conceivably allow a rapist to sue his victim for having one.

All the Things That Aren’t to Blame

Of course, women are capable of all sorts of major unpleasantness, and there are violent crimes by women, but the so-called war of the sexes is extraordinarily lopsided when it comes to actual violence.  Unlike the last (male) head of the International Monetary Fund, the current (female) head is not going to assault an employee at a luxury hotel; top-ranking female officers in the U.S. military, unlike their male counterparts, are not accused of any sexual assaults; and young female athletes, unlike those male football players in Steubenville, aren’t likely to urinate on unconscious boys, let alone violate them and boast about it in YouTube videos and Twitter feeds.

No female bus riders in India have ganged up to sexually assault a man so badly he dies of his injuries, nor are marauding packs of women terrorizing men in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and there’s just no maternal equivalent to the 11% of rapes that are by fathers or stepfathers. Of the people in prison in the U.S., 93.5% are not women, and though quite a lot of them should not be there in the first place, maybe some of them should because of violence, until we think of a better way to deal with it, and them.

No major female pop star has blown the head off a young man she took home with her, as did Phil Spector.  (He is now part of that 93.5% for the shotgun slaying of Lana Clarkson, apparently for refusing his advances.)  No female action-movie star has been charged with domestic violence, because Angelina Jolie just isn’t doing what Mel Gibson and Steve McQueen did, and there aren’t any celebrated female movie directors who gave a 13-year-old drugs before sexually assaulting that child, while she kept saying “no,” as did Roman Polanski.

In Memory of Jyoti Singh

What’s the matter with manhood? There’s something about how masculinity is imagined, about what’s praised and encouraged, about the way violence is passed on to boys that needs to be addressed. There are lovely and wonderful men out there, and one of the things that’s encouraging in this round of the war against women is how many men I’ve seen who get it, who think it’s their issue too, who stand up for us and with us in everyday life, online and in the marches from New Delhi to San Francisco this winter.

Increasingly men are becoming good allies – and there always have been some.  Kindness and gentleness never had a gender, and neither did empathy. Domestic violence statistics are down significantly from earlier decades (even though they’re still shockingly high), and a lot of men are at work crafting new ideas and ideals about masculinity and power.

Gay men have been good allies of mine for almost four decades. (Apparently same-sex marriage horrifies conservatives because it’s marriage between equals with no inevitable roles.) Women’s liberation has often been portrayed as a movement intent on encroaching upon or taking power and privilege away from men, as though in some dismal zero-sum game, only one gender at a time could be free and powerful. But we are free together or slaves together.

There are other things I’d rather write about, but this affects everything else. The lives of half of humanity are still dogged by, drained by, and sometimes ended by this pervasive variety of violence.  Think of how much more time and energy we would have to focus on other things that matter if we weren’t so busy surviving. Look at it this way: one of the best journalists I know is afraid to walk home at night in our neighborhood.  Should she stop working late? How many women have had to stop doing their work, or been stopped from doing it, for similar reasons?

One of the most exciting new political movements on Earth is the Native Canadian indigenous rights movement, with feminist and environmental overtones, called Idle No More. On December 27th, shortly after the movement took off, a Native woman was kidnapped, raped, beaten, and left for dead in Thunder Bay, Ontario, by men whose remarks framed the crime as retaliation against Idle No More. Afterward, she walked four hours through the bitter cold and survived to tell her tale. Her assailants, who have threatened to do it again, are still at large.

The New Delhi rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, the 23-year-old who was studying physiotherapy so that she could better herself while helping others, and the assault on her male companion (who survived) seem to have triggered the reaction that we have needed for 100, or 1,000, or 5,000 years. May she be to women — and men — worldwide what Emmett Till, murdered by white supremacists in 1955, was to African-Americans and the then-nascent U.S. civil rights movement.

We have far more than 87,000 rapes in this country every year, but each of them is invariably portrayed as an isolated incident.  We have dots so close they’re splatters melting into a stain, but hardly anyone connects them, or names that stain. In India they did. They said that this is a civil rights issue, it’s a human rights issue, it’s everyone’s problem, it’s not isolated, and it’s never going to be acceptable again. It has to change. It’s your job to change it, and mine, and ours.


Rebecca Solnit has written a version of this essay three times so far, once in the 1980s for the punk magazine Maximum Rock’n’Roll, once as the chapter on women and walking in her 2000 book Wanderlust: A History of Walking, and here. She would love the topic to become out of date and irrelevant and never to have write it again.

The Obama administration’s vendetta against whistleblowers continues with the sentence of 30 months jail time handed down on Friday for former CIA agent John C. Kiriakou, who in 2007 acknowledged that US agents were involved in torture.

On December 10, 2007, Kiriakou was interviewed on ABC News about the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who the Bush administration claimed was an Al Qaeda “mastermind” and aide to Osama Bin Laden. In the course of the interview, Kiriakou acknowledged that CIA agents waterboarded Zubaydah.

Kiriakou’s statements about torture in the 2007 interview were ambivalent. On the one hand, Kiriakou stated that the torture of Zubaydah was effective in obtaining information. On the other hand, Kiriakou was apparently troubled by the political, legal, and moral implications of torture.

Whatever Kiriakou’s intentions in his initial ABC News interview, his statements represented the first public confirmation by a government agent that Zubaydah had been waterboarded. The interview was widely reported and lauded internationally, but it also made Kiriakou a number of enemies in high places.

Kiriakou’s 2007 interview represented a step forward in efforts to bring to light the criminal abduction, torture, and murder apparatus erected by the US government in the course of the so-called “war on terror.” The revelation that Zubaydah was tortured certainly implicated top personnel in the US government, as well as the torturers themselves, in war crimes and other serious violations of US and international law.

In the upside-down world of the US justice system, the orchestrators of torture remain at large, and Kiriakou is going to prison.

According to his 2010 memoir entitled, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (which the CIA prevented him from publishing for two years), Kiriakou did not participate in the torture of Zubaydah. Kiriakou instead relied in the 2007 interview on one internal agency cable, according to which Zubaydah had been waterboarded only once and had provided “actionable intelligence.” In fact, the cable was false. Two years later it emerged that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times.

In the course of his capture, Zubaydah was shot and seriously injured as he attempted to flee. In secret CIA “black sites,” Zubaydah endured brutal beatings, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, stress positions, being locked in a crouching position in a tiny box for long periods of time, and loud music at debilitating volumes. At one point, CIA agents removed Zubaydah’s left eye.

The Bush administration claimed that Zubaydah was Al Qaeda’s “number three” leader and the “hub of the wheel.” However, in subsequent legal proceedings, the US government admitted that Zubaydah had not been a “member” of Al Qaeda or even “formally” identified with the organization, and he had no advance knowledge of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

According to his attorneys, Zubaydah currently suffers from permanent brain damage and can no longer remember his father’s name or his mother’s face.

The torture of Zubaydah and others was carried out at the behest of top figures in the US political establishment. The August 2002 “torture memos” drafted by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, which recommend waterboarding, include the following description of the procedure:

“In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, airflow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth… During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths… The procedure may then be repeated. The water is usually applied from a canteen cup or small watering can with a spout…”

While Kiriakou is chiefly known for his role in exposing torture, his memoir also contains several damning revelations concerning the Bush administration’s criminal preparations for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which were the subject of a Truthout investigative report.

According to Kiriakou, he and another CIA official were approached in August 2002 by the CIA’s unnamed director of Iraq operations. “Okay, here’s the deal,” the director said. “We’re going to invade Iraq next spring…It’s a done deal…The decision’s already been made…the planning’s completed, everything’s in place.”

Kiriakou said he was told to ignore the public “debate” as to whether the US should invade Iraq. “We were going to war regardless of what the legislative branch or what the federal government chose to do,” Kiriakou wrote. Kiriakou identified the office of Vice President Dick Cheney as one of the principal moving forces behind the war.

The pretext for the Obama administration’s prosecution of Kiriakou was his alleged leak of the names of covert CIA agents involved in torture to journalists in 2008. Kiriakou, for his part, claims the leak was inadvertent. “If I’d known the guy was still under cover,” Kiriakou said, according to the New York Times, “I would never have mentioned him.”

The prosecution of Kiriakou marks the sixth in a string of prosecutions by the Obama administration of individuals who have leaked “classified” information. Before these six prosecutions, there were only three such prosecutions in US history, including the Nixon administration’s prosecution of Daniel Ellsburg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers.

The New York Times reported on January 5 that the “leak prosecutions,” including of Kiriakou, “have been lauded on Capitol Hill as a long-overdue response to a rash of dangerous disclosures and have been defended by both Mr. Obama and his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr. ”

“We know the government wants to send a signal…that the U.S. is intent on protecting its secrets from disclosure in cases relating to torture, and wants to chill further disclosures by anyone,” read a statement by the Friends of John Kiriakou, soliciting donations for his legal defense fund.

“But this is a case that should never have been brought anywhere—let alone in a country that values free speech and the protections of the First Amendment. Journalists covering national security issues understand the stakes here, and what this case represents.”

The Obama administration’s trademark political prosecution method is to seek gratuitously excessive prison time for the targeted individual in order to bully that person into making a guilty plea to a lesser charge. In this case, Kiriakou was threatened with up to 45 years in prison, with violations of the World-War-I-era Espionage Act included among the charges in the indictment.

Kiriakou has stated that he accepted the plea deal for 30 months prison time out of concern for his family and young children, who at one point were reduced to living on food stamps following his indictment. In addition to prison time, Kiriakou has accrued approximately $500,000 in legal fees associated with his defense, according to one account.

Kiriakou’s prosecution for allegedly leaking the names of undercover intelligence agents cannot help but recall the Valerie Plame affair. In June 2007, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was convicted in connection with the leak of the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Plame’s name was leaked in apparent retaliation for revelations by former ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame’s husband, concerning the falsity of the Bush administration’s “weapons of mass destruction” claims in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq. In 2007, the Bush administration commuted Libby’s prison sentence.

To date, Kiriakou is the only CIA agent to be prosecuted by the Obama administration in connection with torture.

The CIA’s Secret Prisons in Poland

January 28th, 2013 by RT

A Polish investigation into secret CIA jails is being suppressed because it will embarrass the top echelon of the country’s government, lawyers of two men held illegally in one of the CIA’s ‘black sites’ in Poland tell media.

Reportedly, the results of this investigation could link some of Poland’s most senior politicians with illegal detention and torture, as well as impact negatively on the relationship between Poland and its key ally, the US, according to Reuters.

The news agency’s sources, including lawyers and human rights activists, reveal that the investigation was halted after the original investigators were taken off the case early last year.

The probe began in 2008 with prosecutors from the capital Warsaw, but in early 2012 the prosecutor-general transferred the investigation to the southern city of Krakow.

“The image is of a complete lack of action,” Mikolaj Pietrzak, lawyer for Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri who says he was detained in a CIA jail on Polish soil, told Reuters. “The case is obviously, in my opinion, under political control … The most convenient thing politically is for the case to drag on,” Pietrzak added.

Bartlomiej Jankowski, a lawyer for the second alleged ex-detainee, Abu Zubaydah, has confirmed this.

“I am not receiving any information [from prosecutors] about new documents, nor am I informed about any new hearings. This is something that worries me,” Jankowski said.

CIA-run prison was discovered in a small remote village Stare Kiejkuty and was operational from December 2002 to the fall of 2003. It was used to transport suspected Al-Qaeda members outside the US territory to interrogate without having to adhere to US law.

Polish officials say the investigators are still in the midst of collecting evidence and the investigation is taking so long because US officials have not been responding to information requests.

In 2006, then-President George W. Bush revealed the US had CIA detention facilities overseas, but no details came out as to their exact locations.However, human rights groups named Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Thailand as the most likely hosts.

The CIA’s black sites in Europe are rumored to have detained and tortured suspected terrorists, and to hold them in custody before being transported to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The sites and the prisoners existed in legal limbo, with no oversight from citizens of the host countries. The CIA is believed to have operated with the knowledge and cooperation of the governments of those countries.

Poland is the second country to have opened a criminal investigation into the matter, after Lithuania (though that case has been closed).

Polish investigation is entering its fifth year, scheduled to end this month, but there are reports that the prosecutors may apply for an extension.

‘Investigation implicated senior levels of Polish government’

One of the main problems with the investigation is the fact that it affects top levels of Polish government, argues Polish Senator Jozef Pinior, who has pushed for a full investigation.

” [The government] are in a sandwich between opening this issue up and the pressure from the hard core of the Polish state, the secret service, the prosecutor’s office, who say: ‘Let’s keep this secret’,” Pinior told Reuters.

In response, Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s office stated that the investigators are independent from external influence. “No executive body can influence the prosecutor’s actions,” it said in a statement.

Rumors about Poland hosting a CIA-run prison had circulated for years, though the country’s authorities dismissed them as absurd.However, the UN and the Council of Europe had long claimed they had evidence of the site’s existence.

Also aware of the CIA program was Marek Dukaczewski, who was head of military intelligence when the alleged jail was in operation. He was the only one to acknowledge the CIA prison publicly in 2010.

Two prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, claimed they were prisoners at this black site. Polish prosecutors have already given the two ‘victim status’.

Among other possible detainees are self-proclaimed 9/11 terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, perpetrator of the 2000 USS Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and Palestinian terror suspect Abu Zubaydah.

Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande use the French armies to pander to private or foreign interests. They sent men to their death to plunder Ivory Coast cocoa, Libya’s gold reserves, Syria’s gas, and Mali’s uranium.

The trust has been broken between the military chiefs and the soldiers who are in the army to defend the homeland.

 At the traditional New Year wishes ceremony, for fear that the military might shoot the President, the Elysée security service deactivated their weapons (Olivet military base, 9 January 2013). (photo right)

The military adventures of Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande in Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Libya, Syria and now in Mali are hotly discussed in the French army. And the opposition they face is at a critical point. Some examples:

In 2008, when Nicolas Sarkozy had just changed the mission of the French soldiers in Afghanistan to become supplementary forces of the U.S. occupation, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Bruno Cuche, refused to send in Leclerc tanks. The crisis was so profound that President Sarkozy took advantage of the first opportunity to force General Cuche to resign.

In 2011, it was Admiral Pierre-François Forissier’s turn. The Chief of Naval Staff had publicly expressed his doubts about the operation in Libya which, according to him, took the French forces away from their primary mission of defending the homeland.

In 2012, General Jean Fleury, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, was even more explicit in saying that France has neither the vocation nor the means to attack Syria.

Over the past five years, the senior officers-most often very observant Catholics- have become convinced that the power of the French army has been diverted by presidents Sarkozy and Hollande to serve private or foreign interests, U.S. and Israeli.

This is confirmed by the very organization of recent external operations. Since 2010, most of them have escaped the command of Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, to accrue to the command of General Benedict Puga, from the Elysée.

This paratrooper, a specialist of Special Operations and Intelligence, embodies both dependence on Israel and the revival of colonialism. It was he who oversaw, in Egypt, the construction of the steel wall to complete the closure of the Gaza Strip, turning it into a giant ghetto.

We know that Nicolas Sarkozy did not enjoy contact with the military. François Hollande, on his part, flees their company. Thus, when he went to Lebanon to urge President Michel Suleiman to support the secret war in Syria, on November 4, he did not see fit to greet the French contingent of UNIFIL. This affront is not attributable to disdain, but to Hollande’s his fear of coming into contact with them.

The crisis of confidence has reached a point where the security service of the Elysée fears a military attempt on the life of the President of the Republic. Thus, January 9, at the President’s address to the French armed forces, at the 12th regiment of Cuirassiers d’Orléans base, the Elysée required the neutralization of weapons. The firing pins of assault rifles and machine guns were removed, and pistols were also incapacitated. Ammunition was confiscated and stored in sealed bags. Such a measure had not been taken since the Algerian crisis, sixty years prior.

When François Hollande said: “The military community is a family, with the active units and reserves (…) I know the stability, solidarity and I also appreciate the sense of discipline, cohesion and even of discretion“, the behavior of his security services belied his words. The President is afraid of his armed forces. He distrusts his soldiers because he knows he cannot justify the missions he assigns to them.

This crisis will not fail to deepen if the president continues his commitment to extending covert operations to Algeria. Moreover, since the suspension of conscription and the professionalization of the armed forces, many recruits are drawn from Muslim families from Algeria. They will not fail to react emotionally to the rampant recolonization of their parents’ homeland.

Translation Roger Lagassé

It is clear that during the middle of December of last year that the Obama White House had settled on former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be the Secretary of Defense. The U.S. Intelligence Community and defense establishment was told to come up with a strategy to combat the expected strong opposition to the nomination of the critical of Israel Hagel by that nation’s lobby in the United States.

The pro-Hagel circles needed a secret weapon to counteract the Israel supporters who would stress that Hagel was not supportive of the «special relationship» between the United States and Israel. There was no better way to demonstrate that Israel was no special ally of the United States but a longtime hostile intelligence threat to America by declassifying a large part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Damage Report arising from the intense espionage carried out by one-time U.S. Naval Intelligence spy Jonathan Jay Pollard on behalf of Israel…

The declassification of the long-classified Pollard report was made on December 16, 2012. However, the first substantial media reports on the report began around December 26. The Jewish media, including Yeshiva World, Tablet Magazine, and Jewish Week, contended the report only showed that Pollard disclosed classified information on Arab and Soviet military capabilities, ignoring the fact that Pollard’s disclosures revealed the nature of U.S. intelligence sources and methods in obtaining such information, thereby putting U.S. civilian and military assets in extreme jeopardy.

The one major explosive revelation in the declassified report is Pollard’s involvement in a highly-classified Israeli-South African program to test a nuclear weapon in the South Atlantic/South Indian Ocean region in September 1979.

The Pollard Damage Assessment was prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence’s Foreign Denial and Deception Analysis Committee and issued on October 30, 1987. The report reveals for the first time that Pollard began working as a U.S. naval intelligence watch officer the same month that Israel and South Africa, possibly with the financial support of Taiwan, detonated a nuclear device in the South Atlantic/South Indian Ocean near South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands. The un-redacted damage assessment report also provides details of Pollard’s espionage work for South Africa before or at the same time he was spying for Israel.

Pollard’s espionage for Israel and South Africa provide evidence of his a key role in providing faulty intelligence to higher U.S. intelligence echelons concerning the nuclear test. Pollard’s mission was clear: his Israeli handlers wanted the details of the nuclear test kept secret. If it were proven that Israel was violating South African sanctions, the Symington Amendment would have required the United States to cut off all military and economic assistance to Israel. Even the powerful Jewish Lobby could not get around what was U.S. law.

The report describes Pollard’s work in September 1979 in the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office (NFOIO) in Suitland, Maryland, outside of Washington, DC. The report states: “He began work as an Intelligence Research Specialist assigned to the Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center (NOSIC} of the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office in September 1979.” The report also states that during the same month of the South African-Israeli nuclear test Pollard “admitted that he had attended a clandestine meeting with the South African Defense Attaché.”

In July 1980 Pollard admitted to his superiors that he lied about his contacts with South African intelligence. However, this «admission» was to cover up what Pollard knew about the successful nuclear test the previous year and after Pollard and, presumably other Israeli moles, tainted U.S. intelligence into believing that the double flash normally associated with a nuclear detonation spotted on September 22, 1979 by the bhangmeter photo sensors on U.S. VELA 6911 nuclear detection satellite, orbiting over the South Atlantic at one-third the distance to the moon, was nothing more than a meteor entering the atmosphere or some other natural event.

Pollard failed to highlight several key indicators from his ocean surveillance duties that would have prompted U.S. intelligence assets to turn their attention toward South African extended waters on September 22, 1979. The entire South African Navy was placed on alert for the entire week surrounding September 22 and the Simonstown and Saldanha naval bases were placed under tight security that same week, But Pollard sat on the information and likely deep sixed analysis reports from co-workers on South Atlantic/South Indian Ocean operations during the fateful week.

It is clear that certain intelligence quarters in the U.S. Navy began feeding false intelligence on the double nuclear flash to the CIA. The CIA decided to hire the contractor firm MITRE to analyze recorded acoustic data gathered by the Navy’s Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) and the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) less than one-hertz acoustic monitoring systems that piggybacked off the Navy’s SOSUS acoustic hydrophone arrays extending from Bermuda, Wales, and Iceland. The tests revealed that there was a 2-4 kiloton nuclear bomb test in the South Atlantic with acoustic intelligence confirming concussive blast low-level harmonics from Navy and Air Force sonar arrays.

An auroral flash normally associated with nuclear blasts was detected by meteorological stations on Norway’s Bouvet Island, France’s île de la Possession in the nearby Crozet Islands, and at the Japanese Showa station in Antarctica. Further intelligence supporting the nuclear blast event was compiled by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory including increased radiation found in sheep downwind of the blast site in Western Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria and in ionospheric disturbances detected by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

Someone within the ranks of Navy intelligence was preparing incorrect intelligence reports and covering for Israel’s and South Africa’s involvement in a nuclear test. One of those suspected is Pollard, whose job was to monitor naval operations around the world the day the nuclear test was conducted in the South Atlantic.

The report’s description of Pollard’s early association with South Africa, which some authors of the damage report attempted to debunk, at the same time Israel and the apartheid regime were cooperating on nuclear weapons development is as follows:

“The following factors that have come to light about his employment with the Navy indicate that Pollard was unsuited for access to sensitive national security information:

- False claims concerning professional qualifications. Pollard falsely stated on his naval employment application that he had a ‘provisional’ M.A. degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Moreover, in February 1980 during an interview with Task Force 168, the intelligence element charged with HUMINT collection, Pollard falsely claimed to have an M.A. degree, to be proficient in Afrikaans, and to have applied for a commission in the naval reserve. Pollard made another, more farfetched statement to his immediate supervisor in NOSIC: he said he had key South African contacts who could provide him with valuable information, and that he had known South African citizens for many years because his father bad been the CIA Station Chief in South Africa.”

The report also states: “Pollard claimed in a post-arrest debriefing that he had come very close to volunteering to commit espionage while holding a conversation in Hebrew with the Israeli Naval Attaché during a U.S.-Israeli intelligence exchange in 1983. Although it is not clear exactly when Pollard first began to consider espionage, we believe it was at least as early as 1980-81.”

The damage report’s Executive Summary is surprisingly soft on Israel’s use of Pollard as a spy. The summary states that Pollard’s “short but intensive espionage career on behalf of Israel lasted from June 1984 until his arrest on 21 November 1985.” However, other sections of the report state that Pollard considered spying for Israel at least as early as 1980-81. Other parts of the report indicate that Pollard’s espionage for both Israel and South Africa began much earlier and that even as a teen Pollard was a committed Zionist who placed loyalty to Israel above the United States.

Of course, it is this sort of hard intelligence that can be used to show that Israel has long been an adversary of the United States and a dangerous espionage center for anti-U.S. operations. At the time of the South African-Israeli nuclear test, the administration of President Jimmy Carter was actively enforcing military sanctions against South Africa imposed by UN Security Council resolution 418 of 1977.

Two years before Pollard was arrested by the FBI after trying to seek political asylum in the Israeli embassy in Washington, the FBI arrested in New York South African Navy Commodore Dieter Gerhardt and his East German spy wife, Ruth, based on a tip from a Soviet defector code named «Farewell.» Gerhardt was the commander of the South African Navy’s Simonstown naval base and had access to signals intelligence intercepts from South Africa’s secret Silvermine listening post near Cape Town. South Africa and the U.S.U.K. signals intelligence alliance shared some intelligence at a low level during this time frame.

Gerhardt’s role as a possible liaison to Pollard and Israeli intelligence in the United States becomes apparent when Gerhardt’s own admission: that he was an important liaison in South African – Israeli military cooperation. Gerhardt later revealed that he was aware of the South African-Israeli nuclear test in the South Atlantic, which he said was code named Operation Phoenix. Gerhardt’s later admission also revealed that the nuclear test was a «clean» blast, an indication that South Africa and Israel had tested a neutron bomb. Israel’s possession of neutron bombs is one of the Jewish state’s most closely-guarded secrets. The Israeli Lobby’s unofficial conspiracy debunking journal, Popular Mechanics, which ruled out any official U.S. or Israeli government involvement in the 9/11 attack, stated that there was no nuclear explosion and that Gerhardt lacked credibility. The Pollard Damage Report and other revelations have substantiated Gerhardt’s claims. Pollard also was dealing with both the South Africans and Soviets. Moreover, it was later determined that Israel later swapped some of Pollard’s classified information with the Soviets in return for an increase in exit visas for Soviet Jews to Israel.

After Gerhardt was sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa, and Gerhardt’s wife received a ten year sentence, South African President P. W. Botha offered amnesty to some prisoners in 1988, including Nelson Mandela. Ruth Gerhardt applied for the amnesty. The request was turned down by none other than Justice Richard Goldstone, the self-proclaimed Zionist who has run hot and cold on Israeli atrocities in Gaza. Goldstone in 1988 was obviously acting under orders from Israel to keep Ruth Gerhardt under lock and key. In 1985, Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu began passing secrets on Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the media, including the fact that South African uclear scientists were frequent guests at the top secret Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona in the Negev Desert.

In 1986, Vanunu was forcibly kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome after he was lured into a Mossad «honey trap» and imprisoned in Israel. Efforts by some in U.S. intelligence to trade Vanunu for Pollard were met with stony silence from Israeli officials. In 1988, Israel was trying to get Pollard released from the life prison sentence handed down in 1987 and Goldstone was under pressure to ensure that the Gerhardts remained silent, especially after Vanunu’s embarrassing disclosures about Israeli nuclear weapons and South Africa. Ruth was released in 1990 and her husband was released in 1992. In 1999, Gerhardt received amnesty and his rank of Rear Admiral was restored. Vanunu was eventually released but his «freedom» has largely consisted of virtual house arrest in Israel.

Later, Deputy South African Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad and former CIA Pretoria station officer Tyler Drumheller confirmed that Israel and South Africa jointly tested the South Atlantic nuclear weapon.

The Pollard deception continues to haunt the world today. One of the key players in the Israel-South African nuclear weapons research was Israeli arms smuggler Shaul Eisenberg, the head of the Israel Corporation and a provider of military hardware to China, North Korea, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Eisenberg, whose Wikipedia entry has been re-written by Israeli propagandists, controlled Israel Aircraft Industries and Zim Israel Navigation Shipping Company. Eisenberg was able to provide needed nuclear weapons components from Operation Phoenix to China and two of its major allies, North Korea and Pakistan.

It is with this knowledge of Israel’s destructive actions against America that Hagel and his supporters prepare to do battle with the nefarious Israel Lobby during the expected heated Senate confirmation hearings.

The Pentagon planners and their paid anthropologist shills are gearing up for the Pentagon’s next battle: the one for the Pacific that will ensure that the island nations that dot the vast maritime expanse will remain a part of the Anglo-American sphere of influence and not become part of a «Chinese lake».The Pacific Ocean has been a favorite stomping ground for U.S. government-financed anthropologists ever since Margaret Mead ‘s 1928 treatise on the Samoan people, Coming of Age in Samoa, laid the groundwork for the intelligence-related anthropological study of the peoples of the Pacific Ocean by the U.S. military and intelligence services. Mead later became a researcher for the CIA-connected RAND Corporation and became a supporter of CIA funding of anthropologic surveys and studies via laundered academic research grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).USAID / CIA/Special Operations projects with names like Phoenix, Prosyms, Sympatico, and Camelot used anthropologists and social scientists to reconnoiter targeted tribal areas in South Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, Colombia, and Chile to determine how U.S. Special Forces and intelligence agents could use indigenous peoples to further American military goals. The operations in the cases of Phoenix in South Vietnam and Prosyms in Indonesia resulted in genocide on a massive scale…

Today, the military’s tribal and native peoples targeting programs fall under the nomenclature of «human terrain systems» or HTS. Brought back to life in Afghanistan and Iraq, these genocidal programs now have their eyes on the Pacific in order to gear up for what the Pentagon and Langley planners believe is an inevitable war with China.

It is fitting, therefore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now looking for up to 15,000 acres of land to lease on American Samoa. The U.S. military wants to establish a major training base on American Samoa for at least five years and probably longer. The base is to provide 24-hour road access that will permit 60 full days of training per year. The Army also wants the base to permit the use of pyrotechnic and blank ammunition during daytime and nighttime training. It is certain that the U.S. is looking at building a simulated rural and village tropical environment for the use of U.S. and future «coalition of the willing» armies to practice battling an enemy in the Pacific region. That «enemy» is China.

The United States obviously foresees the Pacific as a future battleground between American and its allied forces and China for control of the important trade routes that crisscross the vast maritime region. Not since the U.S. military campaign against Japan during World War II has the Pacific seen such an American military projection of power.

The decision by the Obama administration to «pivot» its military forces into Asia and the Pacific has brought about a strong response from China, which sees itself as the ultimate target for the increased U.S. military presence. China’s ambassador to Australia Chen Yuming called the stationing of 2500 U.S. Marines in Darwin an «affront» and a Cold War containment policy toward China.

The establishment of a U.S. military training base on American Samoa follows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first ever attendance by a U.S. Secretary of State of a Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) summit in Rarotonga, Cook Islands on August 31, 2012. It was the first such visit to the Cook Islands and underscored America’s decision to maintain its stranglehold over the small Pacific island nations while at the same time beefing up its military forces in the region.

The United States and its two Pacific overseers – Australia and New Zealand –- are attempting to cement their neo-colonialist hegemony over the Pacific states, which are independent in name only. Enter the Human Terrain practitioners from the Pentagon and CIA to keep the Pacific islanders divided. Clinton’s participation in the PIF summit is aimed at not only maintaining the status quo but in promoting the rivalries between Polynesians, Micronesians, and Melanesians among the island states.

The United States, having virtual ownership of the quasi-independent Micronesian nations of Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands, as well as total control over the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Marianas, can use its influence over Micronesians to play them off against the other two major ethnic groups. They are the Melanesian Spearhead Group of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the New Caledonia (Kanaky) liberation front and the Polynesian Leaders Group of Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, French Polynesia, as well as the intelligence eyes and ears of Washington, American Samoa. The United States, Australia, and New Zealand can use their Human terrain System knowledge of ethnic rivalries in the Pacific to ensure that China is kept out of the area.

Part of the strategy relies on Taiwan’s «checkbook» diplomacy to maintain Taiwanese rather than Chinese embassies and aid missions in the small island states. There are currently Taiwanese embassies in Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Kiribati. Among these, Nauru, Solomon Islands, and Kiribati switched their recognition back to Taiwan after opening up diplomatic relations with China. Kiribati came under pressure after it decided to allow China to build a missile tracking station on south Tarawa. The U.S. believed the China Space Telemetry Tracking Station was going to spy on the «Star Wars II» activity at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The Marshallese on the atoll are under constant surveillance by well-armed U.S. security personnel.

In 2004, Vanuatu switched its recognition back to China from Taiwan after Prime Minister Serge Vohor paid a secret visit to Taiwan and was ejected from office in a vote of no confidence. Vohor actually punched the Chinese ambassador after Vohor returned from Taiwan. Such incidents in the Pacific Islands have been known to set off riots between opposing political parties and ethnic groups. The Pentagon will use such politico-ethnic tinderboxes as a secret weapon against China.

The CIA, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and New Zealand Secret Intelligence Service (NZSIS) have programs to undermine South Pacific governments that establish close relations with Beijing. However, the Human Terrain operatives have gone further. Aware of the animosity that poor Pacific Islanders have toward local successful Chinese businessmen, the bought—and-paid for anthropologists have stirred up riots, especially in Solomon Islands and Tonga, to marginalize China’s influence in the region.

There are contingency plans to foment riots against ethnic Chinese in Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. The CIA’s Operation Prosyms in Indonesia relied on longstanding animosity between Muslim Indonesians and ethnic Chinese to stoke riots against the Chinese in the aftermath of the 1965 CIA coup against President Sukarno. The mayhem resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 ethnic Chinese and a severance of relations between the CIA-installed Suharto government and China. President Obama’s anthropologist mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, played a crucial role in Prosyms. Mrs. Dunham’s son appears prepared to reenact anti-Chinese pogroms in the islands of the Pacific.

It is clear that the U.S. military training in American Samoa will be used to train Pacific Islander mercenaries, many of whom, such as Marshall Islanders, American Samoans, and Guamanians already serve in the U.S. military, to train young men from impoverished Kiribati, Micronesia, Samoa, and Fiji. Fijian and Tongan mercenaries, battle-hardened from Western campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other regions, are also available to supplement the U.S. Pacific Command’s training complex on American Samoa. If Fiji’s military-led government , which has been the subject of diplomatic sanctions by Australia and New Zealand, continues to get close to China and North Korea, these Fijian mercenaries could see coup d’état duty on behalf of the CIA, ASIO, and NZSIS in their homeland of Fiji. And the diplomats of the small Chinese embassy in Nuku’alofa, Tonga have witnessed how fast the fury of local Tongans can be turned on the Chinese business community. These blood-soaked scenarios all figure heavily into Pentagon HTS plans for the Pacific.

The United States will continue to keep the Pacific Islands within its vast gulag to prevent the extension of Chinese influence. Today, Pacific Islanders are faced with a virtual «Berlin Wall» that keeps Pacific Islanders confined to their own islands while outsiders, like Chinese and Russians, are kept out. The method by which Washington, Canberra, and Wellington have created airline and sea transit monopolies and transit visa requirements means that Samoans from the Independent State of Samoa cannot visit nearby American Samoa without a special permit. And the U.S. Department of Homeland Security decides who will receive special permits and transit visas, including for those traveling on diplomatic passports. Any scheduled airline that connects any of the islands via American Samoa, Guam, or Hawaii requires a U.S. transit visa and that entails invasive interviews by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.

There is a reason why so many negotiations and agreement to establish the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership have been secret. As the title indicates, the TPP, as it is known, is a «strategic» trade bloc, which means it also has a military dimension. In essence, it is no different than the Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere established by Imperial Japan during World War II. The United States, not wanting to be viewed as starting the bloc but wanting it to be a replacement for the Cold War military alliance, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), sat in the background while New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, and Chile signed up as charter members in 2005.

As more nations joined, the TTP’s military profile became clearer. The countries that signed up to the TPP were all being groomed for the anti-China military bloc for the Pacific: Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Peru, and the United States signed on. Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, Colombia, Costa Rica, Laos, and Taiwan later expressed an interest in joining the TPP. The eastward blockade of China became clear. The United States already had existing military alliances with six of the other ten TPP member nations. From Darwin, Australia and Subic Bay, Philippines to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam and the U.S. built Mataveri Airport on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), the U.S. was delineating the borders of its own Asia-Pacific Sphere and a line over which China would be warned not to cross.

Mrs. Clinton may have arrived in Rarotonga last year amid waves and smiles but her sinister plans for the Pacific region have more to do with using the Pacific Islanders for cannon fodder in what Washington expects to be a coming regional war with China.

In the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, top US regulators and monetary policy officials were largely blind to the impending financial collapse, according to transcripts of discussions within the Federal Reserve’s policy-making Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released last week.

The documents, totaling 1,566 pages and covering all of 2007, show that top officials of the US central bank were unable not only to predict, but even conceive of a crisis of the magnitude that broke out in 2008. The transcripts echo the sentiment expressed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier this month in an appearance at the University of Michigan. In response to a questioner who asked what had surprised him the most since the eruption of the crisis, Bernanke replied, “The crisis.”

In the year prior to the period covered in the transcripts, US home values, which had up to that point been growing at double-digit rates, leveled off and gradually began falling. This caused a surge in foreclosures, particularly among sub-prime borrowers, many of whom had been lured into taking out mortgages they could not afford based on lenders’ assurances that home values would continue to rise indefinitely.

Major financial houses, which were holding billions of dollars in securities consisting of bundles of mortgages, known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), saw the default rates on their holdings grow sharply.

As the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reported in April 2011, during January and February 2007, Goldman Sachs “rapidly sold off or wrote down the bulk of its existing sub-prime RMBS [residential mortgage-backed securities] and CDO inventory, and began building a short position that would allow it to profit from the decline of the mortgage market.” In other words, Goldman Sachs, like other banks, was aware of the disaster that was about to befall the housing market, and was betting that it would collapse.

Yet according to the FOMC transcripts, in January of 2007, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the “worst outcomes” for the housing market were looking more improbable, while there were “good fundamental reasons to think that growth” would be “moderate.”

The following month, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) announced that it would no longer purchase the riskiest sub-prime mortgages or mortgage-related securities. But in March, Bernanke said, “The impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the sub-prime market seems likely to be contained,” according to the transcripts.

New Century Financial, a leading sub-prime mortgage lender, filed for bankruptcy the following month, and by July, Bear Stearns was forced to liquidate two of its hedge funds that focused on mortgage-backed securities after credit rating agencies downgraded a significant portion of these assets.

Even as signs of a major crisis in the sub-prime mortgage market continued to mount, the FOMC remained largely impervious to the gathering crisis. Frederic Mishkin, an FOMC member and author of a widely-used college textbook on monetary policy, downplayed the importance of the collapse in sub-prime securities at the August 7, 2007 FOMC meeting. “Of course,” he said, “the media are making the sub-prime market into the whole story, but I think it is just not the right story. The sub-prime market is really a very small percentage of the total credit markets.”

He went on to turn the metaphorical frown upside-down: “Basically, what I think is happening in a way is quite a good thing: We were concerned that the markets were a little too optimistic, that there was too much opacity, and that people weren’t worried about it. Now, in fact, they are worried about it, and I think that is fundamentally a healthy situation.”

By August, American Home Mortgage Investment Corporation had filed for bankruptcy, and by September home values had fallen five percent since the beginning of the year. Under these circumstances, Fed officials cut the benchmark federal funds interest rate for the first time in the year.

But even while making this move, they denied that the sub-prime problem reflected a systemic crisis. In October 2007, David Stockton, the Federal Reserve’s chief economist, observed that “we are not forecasting a deep credit crunch. If you were more concerned that that was what you were facing, I don’t think this forecast is consistent with it.”

Aside from the regulators’ apparent blindness, the minutes provide a glimpse into the incestuous relationship between the major banks and the Federal Reserve, one of their principal regulators.

In August 2007, as the committee was deliberating whether to cut interest rates, Timothy Geithner, then president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, said that bank executives “obviously don’t have any idea that we’re contemplating a change in policy.”

However, Jeffrey M. Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, implied that Geithner had informed the banks of the Federal Reserve’s plans, saying, “I spoke with Ken Lewis, president and CEO of Bank of America this afternoon, and he said that he appreciated what Tim Geithner was arranging by way of changes in the discount facility. So my information is different from that.”

If Geithner did, in fact, tell Lewis and other bank executives about the Fed’s plans, he enabled them to make millions of dollars at the expense of less powerful rivals.

Not all of the FOMC members were blind to the looming disaster in the mortgage market. Janet Yellen, then the president of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, warned about the broader impact of the housing downturn. “I still feel the presence of a 600-pound gorilla in the room, and that is the housing sector,” she observed in June.

She added, “The risk for further significant deterioration in the housing market, with house prices falling and mortgage delinquencies rising further, causes me appreciable angst.” The previous month, she had said that while a forecast by the Federal Reserve staff “assumes that national house prices are flat going forward, I am worried that they may actually fall.”

Yellen’s concerns were largely brushed off until the end of the year, when the real economy began to rapidly deteriorate.

The question arises: how was it possible that the Federal Reserve officials, many of them considered to be among the best economists in the country, failed to foresee the financial collapse?

In part, the answer lies in the fact that they had spent their entire careers apologizing for, justifying and facilitating the very processes that led to the catastrophe.

Instead of warning about the growing influence of the banks and their speculation in mortgage-backed securities and exotic derivatives, the representatives of official economics, including Bernanke and the members of the Federal Reserve Board, did everything they could to promote the deregulation of the financial industry, removing virtually all government oversight from the banks, while pursuing an expansionary monetary policy to feed the speculative frenzy.

The drive to deregulate the financial industry, associated most closely with the school of economist Milton Friedman, reflected the growing domination of US capitalism by the most parasitic sections of capital, centered in the financial industry. Friedman’s theories of unrestrained free market capitalism, previously frowned upon as near quackery, came to dominate official economics, with Bernanke considering himself a disciple of Friedman.

The blindness of the Fed was rooted in definite material and social interests. The entire financial and political establishment had a vested interest in keeping the housing bubble, based on little more than a Ponzi scheme, going.

Wall Street had driven the frenzy of sub-prime lending, buying up toxic mortgages by the fistful in order to bundle them into securities and CDOs, which they then sold to investors all over the world at an enormous profit. The regulatory agencies, including the Fed, blessed the operation and gutted all government oversight to allow the banks to engage in reckless and quasi-criminal activities. The credit rating firms such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s made huge profits by giving the mortgage-backed bonds their highest ratings.

While industry was being decimated, productive investment scaled backed, and the wages and living standards of the working class driven down, American capitalism generated an ever-increasing share of profits from financial machinations and outright fraud.

By downplaying the disastrous implications of a collapse in sub-prime mortgages, the Federal Reserve objectively aided and abetted the Wall Street banks, providing them with the time they needed to offload their sub-prime mortgage holdings and begin making large bets against the housing market and the securities they themselves had created.

Yet the release of the transcripts has been met with a deadening silence from lawmakers as well as the media. There are no calls for congressional hearings or any public accounting for the abject failure of these supposed custodians of the economy to detect the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This only underscores the complete subordination of the entire political system, and both of its parties, to the financial aristocracy.

The Hidden War on Nature

January 27th, 2013 by Lesley Docksey

Western governments are blind to the campaign they should be waging, that of climate change, the degradation of the environment and the destruction of the natural world upon which all humanity depends.

We have been told for years about the catastrophic felling of the rain forests; the reduction of tiger, gorilla, whale or bluefin tuna populations; the extinction of countless species of small insects, reptiles, birds and plants; and the loss of biodiversity and habitats in far-off lands.  But closer to home and far more subtle is the gentle, almost invisible eating away of the environment and its protections by governments, even while they prate about destruction elsewhere.  It is happening in all those countries whose governments are in thrall and tied to big business and making money regardless of tomorrow.  It is happening near you.  And it is accompanied by a lot of cynical promises, pledges and ‘public consultations’ that the genuine public never seem to be involved in.

Politicians kowtow to voters’ concerns by parading their ‘green’ credentials, but statements are cheap.  So are new logos.  Back in 2006 the Conservatives, recognising that many voters were tired of the lack of environmental action by the Labour government, produced the new Tory logo , a scribbled tree.  Meant to show off new green credentials, what it really suggests is that all things green can be rubbed out and redrawn to suit the Tory agenda.  At the same time David Cameron demonstrated just how green he was by flying up to the Arctic Circle for a photo-shoot with huskies.  Bearing in mind that the Tories are the party of the ‘landed gentry’ who own an awful lot of Britain (only 0.6 per cent of the UK’s population owns 50 per cent of our rural land), how green have they proved to be?

When Cameron became Prime Minister he said he was going to head the ‘greenest government ever’. They showed their true colours when they announced the sell-off of publicly-owned forests to private buyers.  Such was the outcry from people waking up to the realisation that ‘their’ woods meant a lot to them, that a U turn was taken and the policy finally scrapped.  But it was clear that the only value our beloved countryside had for the Tories was monetary.

Having to manage a large national debt, they announced massive cuts in the budgets of various ministries.  Fair enough – but look at this:  Defra (Department for Environment, Farming & Rural Affairs) was asked to cut its small annual budget of £2.9bn by 25%.  Yet the £46.1bn budget of the Ministry of Defence was only cut by 8%, demonstrating all too clearly where the government’s priorities lie.  Within Defra is the Environment Agency.  A major part of the EA’s role is flood defence work.  Last summer Britain suffered exceptionally wet weather with thousands of homes flooded – not helped by the fact that flood defence schemes had not been built because of the cuts.

In their drive for cuts they have axed, among other bodies, the Renewables Advisory Board, Advisory Committee on Organic Standards, the Commons Commissioners, Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.  Natural England, whose remit is to conserve the natural environment, was threatened, as were Wildlife Trusts across the country.  No change there then.  Back in 1995 a former Conservative government cut the budget of Scottish Natural Heritage, apparently in retaliation for its support of the campaign against the proposed super quarry on the Isle of Harris.

The Tories do not like wildlife.  The Chancellor, George Osborne, accused  the habitats directive, aimed at safeguarding wildlife and biodiversity, of “placing ridiculous costs on British businesses”.  After this country finally banned the hunting of animals (mainly foxes, deer and hares) by dogs in 2004, Tory MPs mutter about repealing the law so they can get back to killing for fun.  And the Heythrop Hunt, which Cameron himself follows, was convicted  last December of illegally hunting foxes.

All birds of prey, protected by law, are seen as enemies of the rich who own large estates and love shooting pheasant and grouse.  Such a man is Owen Paterson, appointed by Cameron to be the Environment Secretary, an appointment that provoked outrage among environmentalists.  His department, Defra, came up with a scheme to deal with the awful threat to young pheasants.  As the RSPB’s conservation director Martin Harper said, “We are shocked by Defra’s plans to destroy buzzard nests and to take buzzards into captivity to protect a non-native game bird released in its millions”.  Pheasants are bred almost entirely for the idle rich to shoot.  And Defra admitted no studies had been done to find out whether buzzards really are a threat.  Another public outcry and a retreat into ‘consultations and studies’.

For many of these people our ‘green and pleasant land’ is not there to be cherished and protected, but simply a place to enjoy yourself in, (the Labour party, urban-oriented as they are, also have little interest in the countryside other than as a place for entertainment).  But even when farming, truly the one essential ‘industry’ as it provides our food, is considered, more killing is proposed.  This time badgers, also protected by law, were the target.  They were to be culled because they are carriers of bovine TB and some of our milk herds are infected.  In vain did people point out that killing the badgers made the survivors move into other TB-free areas.  In vain did people call for cattle or badgers to be vaccinated.  In vain did the government’s chief scientist advise against it.  The killing would go ahead.  Luckily for the badgers, Defra got its figures, timing and finance wrong and the cull has been delayed.  For now.

But the war against the environment is relentless.  If we are down to just one breeding pair of hen harriers, we may also lose that iconic animal of the Highlands, the wildcat.  One of our few remaining predators, the wildcat is about to become extinct in the wild.  But the people who protect these endangered species are also in danger of becoming extinct.  The National Wildlife Crime Unit, a strategic police unit, will probably lose its funding – hardly a great saving: 10 people and a budget of £136,000.  I was told the other day that my county police force has already lost its wildlife officer.  But these are the people who go after and successfully prosecute those who kill our birds of prey.  Funny, that.

Despite pleas the government refused to prevent the import of ash trees until too late and the ash dieback disease is now established in our woodlands.  It refuses to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that studies say are damaging bees.  As usual it wants even more ‘proof’.  Even where the voters are concerned, its green policies are worthless.  The ‘green deal’, providing subsidies to help people insulate Britain’s cold and draughty homes was introduced in 2012.  It could have made a major contribution in cutting our carbon emissions.  But it then decided to restrict the deal to the very poor (who can’t take up the offer because they don’t own their own homes) with the result that only a tiny percentage of the homes will be insulated.

Last year the GM companies started to promote GM crops again on the premise again that many of the world’s people were starving.  They were backed up by an endless parade of government spokesmen including Owen Paterson insisting that GM food will sort our problems – no worries.  Their campaign was spoilt early this year by a report stating that almost 50% of the world’s food is wasted.  The hunger is a result of how we manage the world, not the earth’s inability to feed us.  But politicians in favour of genetically modified food do gloriously get it wrong at times in their eagerness to earn their biotech wages.

Of course, governments aren’t alone in trying to present themselves as ‘green’.  In 2000 British Petroleum launched a new logo telling us how they were working towards a green sustainable future.  They weren’t the only energy company to take that line, but their corporate-speak doesn’t mention that now.  They’re too busy rushing after Arctic drilling, tar sands or shale gas.  They will have a champion in Paterson who is really enthusiastic about fracking.

Britain isn’t alone in this – far from it.  Wherever you live you will find politicians chipping away at our precious environment on behalf of big business and the rich.  But if they won’t protect the small things, there’s no hope they will take action on the huge issue of climate change.  They are now admitting that the likely global temperature rise will be between 4-6 degrees C by the end of this century, but still pretending this is ‘manageable’.

Life does not depend on money, on economic growth, national interests or politicians.  It depends on the rocks and the soil, the water and the air, the miracle of seeds sprouting and animals giving birth.

Footnote:  just occasionally nature succeeds in getting in the way of ‘progress’.  Great Crested Newts, another protected species, held up the proposed development of the St. Athan Military Academy in Wales.  They’ve done it again!


“How Many Times Did You Blow Yourself Up?” Or, Why Iraq is Revolting” 

 The inhuman prison system in Iraq,  a legacy of the US occupation

Azzaman reported on 25 January:

The question “How many times did you blow yourself up?” is part of a joke doing rounds in Iraq. It refers to a prisoner who under duress and in order to prevent his interrogators from torturing him any further admitted that he had blown himself up several times.For his tormentors the response was ‘good’ enough to brand him ‘terrorist’ and keep him behind bards without proper trial for many years.Many Iraqi prisoners, some of them still languishing in their prison cells and other released, speak of their torture and imprisonment in Iraqi jails in these terms.

Hurling empty and ridiculous accusations is part of the skills that U.S. troops and their jailers have bequeathed Iraqi security forces.The shortest way for an Iraqi in custody today is to quickly confess to the accusation hurled at him to escape humiliation and torture.

The issue of tens of thousands of jailed Iraqis is at the top of demands of Iraqi demonstrators and protesters.Stories of families being destroyed following the arrest of their breadwinners without charges and proper trial are common in Iraq.Some of the prisoners started their terms at the age of 19 or even younger and have been in jail for many years without trial.

Would the government have the guts to ponder the future of a young generation in prison for so long and of children whose father has been jailed simply on ungrounded suspicions and for so long? What kind of future awaits them?The government should listen carefully to the demands of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets of major cities in central Iraq.

Freeing prisoners and putting an end to jailing people without proper trial is only a first step. Maliki’s government should be dissolved and put on trial.Reparations should be paid to all the victims who have been unjustly and illegally detained for so many years, including the detainees in American administered prisons.

Many Human Rights Organisations, including The BRussells Tribunal, have frequently alarmed the world community about the horrible conditions in Iraq prisons, where torture, rape, sodomy and outright murder are endemic.

34 Detainees tortured to death in 3 months

Journalists obtained a list of 34 names of detainees who died in prison after being tortured, within three months in 2012. The list is a formal document from the Ministry of Justice, requested by the Human Rights Committee in the Iraqi Parliament. Most of these prisoners had no autopsy reports from the Forensic Medical Department.

When the spokesman of Ministry of Justice, Haidar al-Saadi, was asked about this, he denied the validity of this information, and accused external parties conspiring secretly and promoting lies. When the reporter gave him the official documents in which the Ministry of Justice confessed of the death of the detainees he became speechless and did not know the answer but he promised the reporter to prepare the answer the next day. Unfortunately, when the BBC called him the next day he closed his phone!!!

Women imprisoned for many years instead of their husbands and sons

The Iraqi News Network reported on 16 January that Hussein Al-Shahristani, the Deputy Prime Minister of Energy and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee that was formed to study the demands of the demonstrators visited one of the women prisons in Baghdad. Al-Shahristani found out that there was a female inmate who was there for six years and her case was never submitted to court. She was arrested because her son was suspected to be involved in terroristic activities. A few days ago, Noori Al-Maliki assured that the government would never allow arresting the mother, the wife, the son, or the sister instead of the wanted husband or father, and that everyone is responsible for his / her own crime. That is a lie, one more to be added to Nouri’s credentials.

When the woman was asked about the reason behind her arrest, she said that her son entered his house one day carrying a black sack containing items she didn’t know about. The security forces came to their house the next day and arrested her because she didn’t report her son to the authorities about that sack. The woman used to live in one of the eastern areas and remained in prison for the last six years without any judicial procedure.

Wesaal Al-Jaf, the Member of the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee confirmed that there are a huge number of detainees whose cases have not enough evidence to back the accusations. Al-Jaf demanded to form a united investigation group to review the cases of the detainees. It is known now that every institution, whether civil or military, has its own detention centers or secret prisons. Al-Jaf added that releasing the prisoners is the first step towards a just judicial system.

Torture and murder in Al Rasafah secret prison

Many Iraqi families havetestified that their sons are in a secret prison in Al-Rasafah Prisons Compound, named Quarries 13, run by the Iraqi Correction Office, under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. Al-Rasafah Prisons Compound includes many public prisons, like Al-Rasafah 1st,2nd,3rd,4th, and the 5th Prisons, in addition to the uncovered secret prison, in which the prisoners face torture every day. When the families went to visit their sons, entrance was prohibited.

The Prison Management didn’t confirm or deny whether their sons were imprisoned there or not, but the Management assured the visitors that there are more than 50 prisoners in that building, and they cannot call their families or consult  a lawyer. The families said their sons were in that prison for 3 to 5 years, and they knew nothing about this until the released prisoners told them.

One of the released prisoners said that he was in that secret prison. The Prison consists of metal caravans divided into small cells2 meters long and 1 meter wide. The ground and walls are all of rusty iron, the toilet is inside this cell too, and is sometimes blocked so the dirty water floods out. In the winter, the rain pours inside and fills the cells. Many prisoners have serious diseases,like scabies, as a result of this terrible condition. The prisoners are enduring continuous torture and many of them died after the harsh torture.

New information aboutthe torture of the security guards of Al-Hashimi& Al-Isawi

IraqiRabita reported recently that they have received new information about the methods of torture used against the security guards of Al-Hashimi and Al-Isawi.The investigators have been torturing those guards continuously for 14 days, using electricity, beating, cutting their tongues with sharp razors andthen filling their mouths with salt.

A committee from the Ministry of Interior came to see one of those prisoners, then a judge sent by Al-Maliki met him, the prisoner told the judge that he couldn’t walk, so they wrapped him with a blanket and carried him. The judge told the prisoner that this was a “political issue” and that he couldn’t do anything for him. One of the imprisoned guards told the investigator who was beating him to stop hurting him if he had some honour left. The investigator replied that the guard and his family have no honour, and that he will slaughter all the Sunni Iraqis and throw them in the Tigris River.

These are the names of some of the investigators who tortured the guards on a sectarian basis:

-          Major Ali Hasan Al-Bahadli: an ex convict, accused of murder and rape. Maliki released him to torture people especially for this case.

-          Lt.ColonelNema Al-Gharbawi.

-          Saad Al-Lami – the judge who supports all of this.

Another prisoner said that they brought a laptop into the prison facility with files of crimes, and that the prisoners had to memorize those crimes, to confess those crimes in front of the media or the judges,then they checked if the prisoners had “memorized” those crimes well.In case there’s a proven crime, but the prisoner is Shiite, the prison management blackmails that prisoner and asks a lot of money. In return, they “transfer” his accusations to a Sunni prisoner from the arrested guards and release the Shiite.

Ahmad, One the brothers of Al-Hashimi’s guard Muhammad Shawqir,visited the prison and asked about his brother.Instead they arrested himon false grounds. Then he was brought before a judge and when the judge said he was innocent, they brought him back to his cell and accused him of another crime, and so forth.

One of Al-Hashimi’s security guards who is now in jail told IraqiRabita:

On 31 December2012, we had a very long session of beating and torture.There were 12 security guards of Al-Isawi with us.The torture session was to prepare them to sign some confessions,this time against the Al-Anbar heads of tribes,Ali Hatam Al-Sulaiman and Abu Risha.

The oddest thing was that the investigators told the prisoners that they had to confess againstMasoudBarazani, that hewas“leading and funding death squads in Mosul to kill the academics and the Imams in the mosques”.

In the morning, they brought cameras from Al-Iraqia TV to record those confessions on TV.So, the prisoners started to accuse Ali Hatam that he bombed many areas in Al-Anbar, Ramadi and Ana, and that Abu Risha killed many of his opponents in Ramadi and Heet, and was cooperating with Al-Qaeda to raid checkpoints. They recorded those confessions to be used by Maliki when needed.

One of Al-Hashimi security guards who is now in jail called me, telling me the following:

In December,31st,2012 , we had a very long session of beating, swearing and torture, there are 12 security guards of Al-Eesawi with us, the torture was to prepare them to sign on some confessions ,this time was on Al-Anbar heads of tribes,one of them is ( Ali Hatam Al-Sulaiman) and ( Abu Reesha).

What was also odd is that the investigators told the prisoners that they have to confess on MasoudBarazani, and that the latter is leading and funding death squads in Mosul to kill the academics and the Imams in the mosques.

In the morning, they brought cameras from Al-Iraqia TV to make those confessions on TV .So, the prisoners started to accuse Ali Hatam that he bombed many areas in Al-Anbar, Ramadi and Ana, and that Abu Risha killed many of his opponents in Ramadi and Heet, and was cooperating with Al-Qaeda to raid checkpoints. They recorded those accusations to be used when needed.

If the accusations are false, who are the real criminals?

Here are some clues. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

 Al-Maliki himself has dropped all charges against mass murderer  IsmaelHafid Al-Lami.

This well-known criminal nicknamed Abu Diriwas summoned to Al-Rasafah Criminal Court, after a direct decision by Nouri Al-Maliki to drop all charges against that man. Ismael Al-Lami was accused of many sectarian killings, kidnapping, torturing and burying the victims alive. Nouri Al-Maliki headed theAsaibAhlulHaq Militia and they formed a Special Operations Cell. This Cell is connected directly with Al-Maliki’s Office and is run by Abu Diri himself. Its main duty is to assassinate everyone opposing Al-Maliki policy. Abu Diri is a well-known killer of Iraqis, carried out many crimes in 2006 and 2007 on behalf of the Al-Mahdi Militia,Al-Jaafari and Iran. He used terrible ways to torture and killed many Iraqis, whether they were Sunni or Shiite.Later, he escaped to Iran and joined the Iranian Basij, but he went back to Iraq after an invitation from Al-Maliki himself.

Jawad Al-Bolani, the former Minister of Interior escaped to Beirut after a scandal of being involved in terroristic activities. Hamid Al-Mutlag, the Iraqi League Representative said that the former Minister of Interior Jawad Al-Bolani escaped to Beirut, after it was discovered he was involved in terrorist activities. Al-Mutlagdemanded the government to take legal actions against the officials who have corruption cases in order not to allow them to escape the country, assuring that when those corrupted people escape, and no one punishes them, the Iraqi people would never trust the government again.

Al-Mutlag said in a statement that such an escape by Al-Bolani increased the suspicions of corruption. Al-Mutlagadded that Al-Bolani had connections with terrorist activities from the first day of his job as Minister of Interior. The Parliament Defense and Security Committee haveample evidence about terrorist operations supervised by Al-Bolani and his brother. Al-Mutlag added that it’s the duty of the government to arrest such criminals to submit them to the Iraqi judiciary.

Al-Zamili: from serial killeras Deputy Minister of Health to Parliament Member in acommittee to provide security forthe iraqis!

To make things even worse, and to fully understand the anger of the Iraqi people and the demands of the Iraqi protest movement, here is the incredible case of Hakim Al-Zamili.

Hakim Al-Zamili was well known when Ibrahim Al-Jaafari was the Prime Minister in Iraq. The Iraqis used to call him the Butcher of the Ministry of Health (MOH), because he was leading militias that kidnapped employees from the MOH, or patients from the hospitals and health centres, to kill them and throw them on the garbage dump. He also formed a militia to watch the families who visited the morgues to look for their sons who were killed. A member of this militia would address one of the family members and if the victim was a Sunni, he would contact the militia to kidnap that family member and kill him. Hospitals became a source of horror for every Sunni in Iraq, because as soon as they would enter a hospital, they would be kidnapped and brutally killed.

When he held that position,the MOH distributed medicines that caused miscarriagesto pregnant women.So, Al-Elwiyah Hospital registered the miscarriages of 25 infants daily.

The most famous crimes Al-Zamili was that when his militia kidnapped Dr.Al-Al-Mahdawi who was nominated to be the Deputy Minister of Health,they met with Al-Mahdawi in the MOH building, and there he and his security guards were kidnapped, and until now they are still missing.

He was accused of kidnapping Ammar Al-Saffar,the second nominated Deputy Minister of Health,although Al-Saffar was from the Dawa Party. No one found his corpse or found out anything related to his kidnapping, until the Dawa Party closed the case for unknown reasons.

After many complaints, and after his crimes exceeded all limits, when even Al-Maliki couldn’t stop this murderous creature, the American Forces arrested him and submitted him to the Iraqi Judiciary, accused of kidnapping tens of innocent people. After he was arrested, he directly confessed things about the Minister of Health,he also mentioned to the Americans the names of 61 members of death squads in Baghdad, Najaf and Samawah. He confessed that he used the ambulances to transport weapons and wanted members of the Mahdi Militia,and to transport the kidnapped victims to theKalf-al-Sadda Area to kill them there. After those confessions and details the Americans formed a committee headed by Colonel Mark Martins,this committee transferred Al-Zamili and Hameed Al-Shammari, the Head Security Guard in the MOH, into an open court, saying that this trial would be more important than the trials of Saddam’s regime officials.

But, since the Iraqi judiciary is terribly corrupted, and the Mahdi Militia controls the courts, the judiciary and the police stations, all the accusations against Al-Zamili were dropped, and he was finally released after the witnesses failed to testify against his crimes. That’s how Al-Zamili was released after less than a year, although the Americans claimed that his trial would be the trial of the decade! Later it was discovered that his militia threatened the judges and witnesses, kidnapped their family members and threatened to rape and kill them, even when the Coalition Forces assured their safety !

The MOH under Al-Jaafari’s rule was controlled by the Sadr bloc.Dr.Ali Al-Shammari, the ex- Minister of Health was nominated by the Sadrists. But, after Dr.Al-Shammari found out about the crimes the Mahdi Militia against the Sunnis in the MOH, after he noticed that he was actually leading a Ministry of kidnapping and torture and a slaughter house, not a Ministry, he was threatened by the Sadrists when he dismissed many criminals who used to work in the MOH,as Ismael Haqqi,the Red Crescent President declared. Dr.Al-Shammari decided to seek help from the Americans, had loads of evidences and files that proved corruption and crimes committed by the Sadrists and the Mahdi Militia in the MOH. He also decided to leave his job because of those crimes.The accusations incriminated Al-Mahdi Militia and Muqtada Al-Sadr personally,crimes committed in every department related to the MOH. Unfortunately,the Americans also decided to ignore those evidences and closed the case. Were they themselves involved? Were these militias used as local stooges to carry outtheir counterinsurgency program? All the available evidence points in that direction.

Having a person like Al-Zamili in the Iraqi Parliament despite his terrible crime record, tells us that Iraq is run by a group of criminals, supervised by a parliament that is more criminal than the government itself. He is a Parliament member now, and there’s no need to be astonished if we find him one day as the Minister of Justice. Hadi Al-Ameri has no diploma,but he’s the Minister of Transportation, Ali Al-Adeeb has no doctorate certificate, but he’s the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, so, contemporary Iraq has the dubious reputation to give important positions to criminals.

After all these and other cruelties and human rights abuses inflicted upon the Iraqi people, does it come as a surprise that millions of people are currently demonstrating against this corrupted government? The Iraqi people want to live in peace and dignity, and they want security for their families. They are fed up with this country that looks more like a huge open air concentration camp than as a “blossoming democracy”.

Translation of Iraqi reports: Lubna Al Rudaini

Dirk Adriaensens is coordinator of SOS Iraq and member of the executive committee of the BRussells Tribunal. Between 1992 and 2003 he led several delegations to Iraq to observe the devastating effects of UN imposed sanctions. He was a member of the International Organizing Committee of the World Tribunal on Iraq (2003-2005). He is also co-coordinator of the Global Campaign Against the Assassination of Iraqi Academics. He is co-author of Rendez-Vous in Baghdad, EPO (1994), Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, Pluto Press, London (2010), Beyond Educide, Academia Press, Ghent (2012), and is a frequent contributor to GlobalResearch, Truthout, The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and other media.

Drone Wars: “The Ethics of Killing Civilians”

January 27th, 2013 by Global Research News

While Americans debate the ethics of killing American citizens abroad without a trial, as happened when a U.S. predator drone targeted U.S.-born Al Qaeda campaigners Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan last month, there has been little talk about the ethics of killing civilians.

In Yemen, however, the subject is on everyone’s mind.

Although drones have been flying over the country for almost a decade, the frequency of the attacks have increased significantly in recent years. Locals in southern Yemen, where the drone strikes are primary concentrated, said that these days, the U.S. drones have been bombing on a near daily basis.

Yemen drone wars 2011 10 7

Yemeni boys vent their anger at a rally in Sanaa on Sept. 30, 2011. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty)

The practice of using unmanned aerial vehicles to target suspected terrorists in southern Yemen has had myriad repercussions, beyond just civilian casualties. Local government officials say outside of the psychological impact of hearing the endless buzz of drones flying overhead, they have had an economic impact on the region, as well as a political one.

Despite the claims of large numbers of civilian deaths, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a controversial U.S. ally in the war on terror, has always supported the drones. As a result — and likely the reason for his continued support, analysts say — the United States remained largely quiet during the massive protests that engulfed the country earlier this year, only backing an internationally-brokered plan for a transfer of power after his security forces opened fire on unarmed activists in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital.

Saleh’s cooperation with the United States, and his support of the air strikes, has further enraged average Yemenis and is often cited as one of the reasons why millions of people have risen up against his government over the last eight months.

“The Saleh regime allowed the U.S. to intervene and desecrate our homeland from end to end,” said a local politician in the rural village of Muajala, located in southern Abyan Province, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Yemen has been turned into Afghanistan and its people, either in mountains or valleys, were turned into [members] of Al Qaeda.”

The political repercussions don’t stop with the protests.

The Drone Wars: The humans behind the technology

In May 2010, an errant U.S drone strike killed Jabr Al-Shabwani, the popular deputy governor of Marib Province, in the country’s east. Al-Shabwani had been mediating a discussion between militants and the government when the hellfire missile struck. The death of Al Shabwani outraged Yemenis across the country. And the government approval of the drone strikes has stoked separatist sentiments in the south that have plagued the country for generations.

“Our reaction [to the presence of drones] is like any Yemeni’s. It is a violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and a crime committed against the Yemeni people,” said Ahmed Al-Shabwani, the deputy governor’s brother.

The Al-Shabwani family retaliated, carrying out a series of attacks against the country’s oil and power industry, demanding that Saleh stop cooperating with the U.S. drone program.

Yemeni Vice President Abd Rabo Mansur Hadi, in a speech in July, revealed that the United States was providing “logistical” support to the Yemeni military in their operations against militants in the country’s south. Later, after President Saleh returned from Saudi Arabia after being injured in an assassination attempt on his palace, Saleh himself thanked the United States, as well as Saudi Arabia, for their help in fighting militants in southern Yemen.

“The drones fly over Marib every 24 hours and there is not a day that passes that we don’t see them. The atmosphere has become weary because of the presence of U.S. drones and the fear that they could strike at any time. The drones themselves are getting inaccurate information … and that is what happened when they martyred Sheikh Jabr Al-Shabwani,” said Ibrahim Al-Shabwani, another one of the deputy governor’s brothers.

“Marib’s sovereignty has been breached. We demand that they [the Yemeni and American governments] give us the truth, otherwise disastrous things will happen to either Americans or Yemenis,” he added.

Although, since no one keeps track, it’s nearly impossible to tally just how many civilians have been killed in drone strikes, local reports put the number well into the hundreds or more.

Days before the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound jet liner in 2009, the Obama administration authorized a cruise missile strike on Muajala against suspected Al Qaeda militants. Fifty-two civilians were killed in that attack, many of who were women and children.

“There were elements of Al Qaeda about three kilometers away from civilians when the missiles hit,” said Yaslam Al-Anbory, a resident of Muajala, whose relative was killed in the 2009 missile strike. “But the majority of those killed were civilians.”

Locals claim that the drones have been only marginally more accurate. While the U.S. government hails the killing of Awlaki has a major success in the fight against Al Qaeda around the world, Yemenis themselves, who say they have barely heard of the man, are forlorn. They know that with every perceived success, the drone program gains legitimacy. And they are worried that more civilians will be killed.

Today, with little success, some relatives are seeking justice for the loved ones they have lost.

“We have asked for compensation from the government but have received nothing. I swear nothing was paid. We demand fair compensation from America,” Al-Anbory said.

Additionally, the link between the failing Yemeni economy and American drone and missile strikes is a strong one, according to Yemeni political analyst Abdul Ghani Al-Iryani.

For instance, as tribes continue to attack Yemen’s already meager oil infrastructure in retaliation for the death of Jabr Al Shabwani, the economic cost is felt.

“That one drone strike in May of last year has cost Yemen over $1 billion,” he said.

Back in 1992 the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff held a “Strategy Essay Competition.”

The winner was a National War College student paper entitled, “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” Authored by Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. the paper is a well documented, “darkly imagined excursion into the future.”

The ostensibly fictional work is written from the perspective of an imprisoned senior military officer about to be executed for opposing the military takeover of America, a coup accomplished through “legal” means. The essay makes the point that the coup was “the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992,” including “the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses,” particularly law enforcement.

Dunlap cites what he considered a dangerous precedent, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act, an act that sanctioned US military engagement with law enforcement in domestic “support operations,” including “civil disturbance” operations. The act codified the lawful status and use of military “assets” in domestic police work.

Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms

Since that time the American people have been subject to a series of deeper and deeper encroachments upon our basic freedoms, increasingly extensive deployment of military operations on the home front, perpetrated by a corporate driven military mission creep that now claims the right and duty to arrest and detain us on the word of a Pentagon or White House operative. President Obama’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whose Section 1021 sanctions the military detention of American citizens without charge, essentially aims to put the last nail in the coffin of our Constitution, our teetering Republic and our most basic democratic traditions.

The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration (“you can trust me”) would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course (of course) shortly before Congress voted on the final bill, which the President signed on the 31st of December 2011, a day that will go down in infamy.

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.” According to Senator Dianne Feinstein. “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.” Think again. (Guardian, 12/14/11)

Under the legislation, suspects can be held without trial  ”until the end of hostilities.” They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch implied that the signing of such a bill by a President would have once been unthinkable, noting that “the paradigm of the war on terror has advanced so far in people’s minds that this has to appear more normal than it actually is.” Further, “it wasn’t asked for by any of the agencies on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in the United States. It breaks with over 200 years of tradition in America against using the military in domestic affairs.”

In fact, the heads of several “security agencies,” including the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general objected to the legislation. Even some within the Pentagon itself said they were against the bill. No matter, and no matter the intention inherent in lip service opposition, the corporate elite who drive the disastrous and inhumane polices of this country see it otherwise, and they, not the generals or anyone else, call the shots!

And they’ve been at this for some time. A persistent and on-gong counter-insurgency directed against the American people, the detention provisions embedded in the NDAA are about more than “social control.” It amounts to a direct attack on the person, an “unreasonable search and seizure” in the cause of maintaining the shaky capitalist ship of state; suppressing popular resistance, dissent and protest, movements of peace and justice, recast as “civil disorder,” “civil disturbance” and “domestic terror.”

Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing “civil disturbance” and “domestic terrorism” including the training of National Guard troops, local police and the authorization of massive surveillance, are part of a long history of American “internal security” measures dating back to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept, promulgated by elite sectors intent on maintaining their grip on the levers of state; that within the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might have to fight; or at least be ordered to fight. (See: Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Joan M. Jensen, Yale University Press, 1991)

Thus, in reaction to a period of social upsurge flush with movements of liberation, justice and peace, and the mounting of powerful campaigns which threatened the status quo and elite control, the US military’s stand alone apparatus for conducting “civil disturbance suppression” operations, including detention, was born, immediately on the heels of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.

The Garden Plot Operation

US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Operation Garden Plot, follows, as was mentioned, in the footsteps of a long tradition of US military involvement in the suppression of dissent. Intriguingly, the Garden Plot operation is cited in documents related to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. (See: Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, William Pepper, Carroll and Graf, 1995)

Currently, the Garden Plot operation is centered at the Pentagon’s Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). “Stood up” in 2002, (though In the works prior to 9/11), NORTHCOM, America’s “domestic military command,” is tasked with various “counter-terror,” “homeland defense” and “homeland security” activities, including “civil disturbance suppression” operations, and “assisting law enforcement” within Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Under NORTHCOM, Operation Garden Plot functions, with the US Army as “executive agent,” as “ConPlan 2502.” In two parts, the “con plan” is officially listed as: United States Northern Command, Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 3501 (formerly 2501), Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), dated 11 April 2006; and the United States Northern Command, Concept Plan 3502 (formerly 2502), Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.

As noted above, the latest development in the Pentagon’s evolving mission of suppressing, at the behest of it’s corporate “civilian” overseers, a detention provision, is buried within the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 signed by President Obama in the fog (grog) of this past New Years Eve.

NDAA 2012

Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012 seemingly allows (the language is evasive) for the detention (without trial or charges) of American citizens redefined by the “executive” elite as “enemy combatants” in the so-called “war on terror, ” a “war” which has become in the eyes of many, a war against the Constitution and civil liberties, a war against the disenchanted, fed-up and dissenting American public, spearheaded by a militarized police state allied to imperial military courts and “tribunals,” buttressed and rationalized with mind-bending mil-speak of “enemy combatants,” “unlawful combatants,” “enemy belligerents,” “homeland battlefield” “domestic extremists” “domestic terrorists” and the like.

And yet, behind all the sophistry, lies and manipulation, the brutal truth is obvious: The corporate elite that directs things has seen fit to unleash it’s military on it’s own people in a desperate attempt to suppress the democratic (read: protest) rights of it’s citizenry, us! Why? Simple: the paranoia of the thief, the well founded fear that knows that forced deprivation and scarcities, violence at home and abroad, rooted in greed, has run it’s course in America. And they are right! And so, it makes ominous sense that we are confronted with the horrific machinations of forced detention for those who resist a “new world order” come home in a “homeland” which opportunistically collapses all distinction between dissent and terrorism, police and military, right and wrong, obfuscating the truth of who the real terrorists are!

When Congress passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it included provisions that authorized U.S. armed forces to detain persons who are captured in the conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”

Section 1021 entitled “AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE” allows for the President (whoever that may be) “to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force … to detain covered persons …pending disposition under the law of war.”

“A covered person,” according to the edict’s malleable lingo, is “any person … who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks …” or, who “was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban,” or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Accordingly, “the disposition of a person under the law of war” will include “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities …” Now, by stating that “nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force,” and that “nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States,” it would appear that the law exempts American citizens from the threat of detention. Correct?

Detention is a Booming Industry

Don’t be too confident. Detention is a booming industry. In 2006 the Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International reported that Halliburton off-spring, “global engineering and technical services powerhouse KBR [Kellogg, Brown & Root] announced in January 2006 that its Government and Infrastructure division was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency.” The $385 million dollars over 5 year contract “is to be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” building “temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.” Could the 2012 NDAA / Section 1021 be such a “new program?”

There has been some confusion over what Section 1021 actually means, and that in and of itself is cause for concern. Congressional spokespeople have stated that the provisions of NDAA 2012 / Sec 1021 do not provide any “new authority” to detain U.S. citizens or others who may be captured in the United States. Obama waffled likewise in the lead up to his signing the provision. Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ho-hummed and said that, “we are simply codifying existing law.” But that was an evasion, since existing law, like it or not, regarding the detention of U.S. persons in the “war on terror” is indeterminate in important respects. And “indeterminate” is not good enough!

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service fleshes out the law of detention as set forth in Section 1021, identifying what is known to be true as well as what is unsettled and unresolved. It is perfectly clear, for example, that a U.S. citizen who fights alongside “enemy forces” against the United States on a foreign battlefield could be lawfully detained. This was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

On the other hand, the CRS report explains, “the President’s legal authority to militarily detain terrorist suspects apprehended in the United States has not been definitively settled.” Nor has Congress helped to settle it. “This bill does not endorse either side’s interpretation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “but leaves it to the courts to decide.”

So, if a detention of a U.S. person does occur, the CRS said, “it will be up to a court to determine Congress’s intent when it enacted the AUMF [the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force], or alternatively, to decide whether the law as it was subsequently developed by the courts and executive branch sufficiently established that authority for such detention already exists.”

Up to now, “lower courts that have addressed questions the Supreme Court left unanswered have not achieved a consensus on the extent to which Congress has authorized the detention without trial of U.S. persons as ‘enemy combatants,’ and Congress has not so far clarified its intent.”

Well, it is certainly reassuring that a New York court has sought to clarify it’s intent on the matter. On May 16, 2012 a newly appointed federal district judge, Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued a ruling, hailed by many, which preliminarily enjoins (prohibits) enforcement of the indefinite detention provisions (Sec 1021) of the NDAA 2012.

The “temporary restraining order” came as a result of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violated both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. “The government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [Section] 1021,” Judge Forrest said in her ruling. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.”

Where it will go from here is anybodies guess. Judge Forrest’s ruling was not permanent. A day after the ruling, the Wall Street Journal, for it’s part, offered it’s sour grapes, pontificating that the ruling “will be overturned on appeal,” while “its reasoning needs to be deconstructed so it doesn’t do more harm in the meantime.” A week later, on the 25th, federal prosecutors from Obama’s Department of Justice, calling Judge Forrest’s ruling “extraordinary,” suggested that she lift the injunction, claiming further that her ruling only effects those plaintiffs named and not other potential or future targets of the draconian legislation.

Well, a few days ago on June 6th the upright Judge Forrest responded with an 8 page, “memorandum and opinion” in which she sought to “eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.” (New York Times, “Detention Provision is Blocked” 6/7/12). And as to whom and for whom her original order was intended: “The May 16th order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court – or by Congress.” That’s clear enough!

So, as it stands now now, although Judge Forrest’s decision may temporarily protect Americans from provision 1021, it remains to be seen what the higher courts do should Obama’s people appeal. And unfortunately, Judge Forrest’s ruling, as praiseworthy as it is, does nothing to spare both foreign reporters and civilians from a life of imprisonment, let alone the more than 6 billion citizens of foreign nations who can still be handcuffed and hauled away to a US military prison without ever being brought to trial.

So, bottom line, given the indeterminate nature of a law that would snatch us up off the streets, throw away the key, and grant us little or no access to a trial let alone legal counsel of choice not vetted by the Pentagon, we should have no illusions that we are well along the slippery indeterminate slope to a full blown militarized police state; the complete identification, coordination and consolidation of the police and military function in America in the interests of an elite who regard us as the enemy, maybe even their property! Maybe even as targets for assassination!

Naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution

We should recall, that the current attempt by the executive to designate American citizens for detention without trial; a naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure and the guarantee of a trial, was preceded by the administration’s “resolve” to assassinate at will Americans abroad, place them on a “kill list,” and eliminate them. According to the New York Times “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” (5/29/12) the President and his advisors have made it clear that they have the authority “to order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial.”

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel rationalized such a move in “a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” (New York Times, “Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen,” 10/8/11) Accordingly, after a dubious period of “internal deliberations,” Mr. Obama gave his approval, and the cleric Anwar al-Awlak was assassinated in September 2011, along with an associate Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but happened to be traveling with Mr. al-Awlak. Apparently, campaign rhetoric and public demeanor to the contrary, when asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”

The Posse Comitatus Act

How did we get here? We need to recognize that the “massive diversion of military resources” into domestic law enforcement for the purposes of suppressing dissent and worse has a long history, a history that has witnessed the steady evisceration of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the sole federal statute that criminalizes military incursions into the domain of domestic law enforcement. The Act is the backbone of our democratic republican tradition of separating the military and police function in this country and represents the ultimate bulwark against military dictatorship in the interests of the rich. That is the reason it is and continues to be attacked, ridiculed and ignored by elements in both the corporate and military spheres. For example, “Current Obstacles to Fully Preparing Title 10 Forces for Homeland Defense and Civil Support” by Commander James S. Campbell, United States Navy, May 2008 and, “The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Law Enforcement Title” by COL (Ret) John R. Brinkerhoff, December 2004, both seek to delegitimize and undercut the status and importance of the Act, a law so critical to the maintenance of our freedoms, and yet, a law about which most Americans remain unaware.

The 1878 Act, 18 USC § 1385 – USE OF ARMY AND AIR FORCE AS POSSE COMITATUS, more popularly known as The Posse Comitatus Act, reads as follows:

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, wilfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a Posse Comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

As noted, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement law would seemingly violate the spirit if not the letter of this Act. Nonetheless, like a slowly boiling pot relentlessly eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression, the utilization of military assets, under cover of law enforcement to suppress our democratic rights has proceeded steadily by design, virtually un-noticed.

Historical milestones: eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression

A very limited listing of some historical milestones:

* In 1968, as mentioned above, concurrent with the creation of the Federal Commission on Civil Disorder, better known as the Kerner Commission, the Pentagon hatched it’s very own “civil disorder” operation. “US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2,” code named “Garden Plot,” coordinates, until this day, all aspects of “civil disturbance suppression” in America, including the use of so-called “non-lethal weapons” during conveniently designated domestic “operations other than war” (OOTW), and “military operations in urban terrain” (MOUT), a “war” which pits “non-combatant” citizens and protesters (overwhelmingly non-violent) against militarized police on the streets of America.

* Only a few months after the round up and detention of 7,000 anti-war protesters in Washington DC, imprisoned in RFK stadium, an early Garden Plot operation, the 1971 Non-Detention Act was passed, specifically to repeal portions of the 1950 “anti-communist” “Emergency Detention Act” which had allowed for detention of suspected subversives without the normal Constitutional checks required for imprisonment. The Non-Detention Act required specific Congressional authorization for such detention. It reads that, “no citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” In recent years, the statute has been used to challenge military detainment of U.S. citizens accused of terrorist activity, as in the case of Jose Padilla.

A Congressional Research Service report on the history of the Non-Detention Act noted that, “legislative debate, committee reports, and the political context of 1971 indicate that when Congress enacted Section 4001(a) it intended the statutory language to restrict all detentions by the executive branch, not merely those by the Attorney General.” Further, “lawmakers, both supporters and opponents of Section 4001(a), recognized that it would restrict the President and military authorities.”

As for the Padilla case, the Supreme Court of the United States originally took the 2004 case of Rumsfeld v. Padilla to decide the question of whether Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorized the President to detain a U.S. citizen, which would run afoul of the Non Detention Act. But it did not give an answer, instead ruling that the case had been “improperly filed.” And so the issue, as to whether and under what circumstances the military can pick you up, detain and imprison you, without charging you, from the point of view the Supreme Court, remains “unsettled.”

* Also in 1971, the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) was created. Headed up by Louis Giuffrida, formerly of Army Combat Command, the first director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CSTI introduced the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) concept, offering courses on “civil disorder management” for select “militarized” police and National Guard units armed and trained for domestic operations in the urban centers of America. During this period the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) facilitated federal funding and other military largess to the burgeoning militarized sectors of the domestic police forces along with training of selected National Guard units. Still in operation, CSTI is currently headed up by William J. Hatch Colonel, USA (RET), while funding for militarizing local police departments these days is facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, funding which has increased drastically since 9/11.

* In 1975 the Trilateral Commission, a Western European, Japanese, US corporate think-tank convened by David Rockefeller, issued a report entitled, “The Crisis of Democracy.” (NYU Press, 1975) Authored by none other than Samuel  Huntington. (“Clash of Civilizations”). Huntington’s book is a blueprint for the on-going counter-revolution in America, emphasizing the elite requirement of suppressing democratic “insurgency,” the “distemper” of the 60s, a “distemper” that according to Huntington, stemmed from an “excess of democracy.” The only and final solution therefore is to “moderate” and “shrink democracy,” concluding that, “there are potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”

* In 1983, the US Army published Field Manual 3-19-15, Civil Disturbance Operations (since updated in 2005). The manual addresses civil disturbance operations in both continental United States (CONUS) and outside continental United States (OCONUS). It states that, “today, United States (US) forces are deployed on peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and humanitarian assistance operations worldwide. During these operations, US forces are often faced with unruly and violent crowds intent on disrupting peace and the ability of US forces to maintain peace. Worldwide instability coupled with increasing US military participation in peacekeeping and related operations requires that US forces have access to the most current doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) necessary to quell riots and restore public order.”

“In addition to covering civil unrest doctrine for CONUS operations, FM 3-19.15 addresses domestic unrest and the military role in providing assistance to civil authorities requesting it for civil disturbance operations …The principles of civil disturbance operations, planning and training for such operations, and the TTP [“tactics, techniques and procedures”] employed to control civil disturbances and neutralize special threats are discussed in this manual. It also addresses special planning and preparation that are needed to quell riots in confinement facilities are also discussed. In the past, commanders were limited to the type of force they could apply to quell a riot. Riot batons, riot control agents, or lethal force were often used. Today, there is a wide array of nonlethal weapons (NLW) available to the commander that extends his use of force along the force continuum. This manual addresses the use of nonlethal (NL) and lethal forces when quelling a riot.” And as noted, the training is meant to be operative in both foreign and domestic contexts, the war abroad, the war at home.

* In 1986, the Pentagon issues Department of Defense Directive 5525.5, or DoD Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Officials. US military involvement in domestic law enforcement is subsumed and rationalized under “doctrines” entitled Operations Other Than War (OOTW) and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), along with divisions known as Military Support to Law Enforcement Agencies (MSLEA) and Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA)

* In 1992 President Clinton’s Justice Department consolidated a partnership with the Pentagon in the area of “technology transfer.” The so-called “technology transfer agreements” allowed for the military to weaponize domestic police forces, further enhancing the growth of para-military “special forces” like “special units” in local police departments across the country, including “civil disturbance” units and training. The Clinton administration extended the police/military connection by mandating that the Department of Defense and its associated private industries form a partnership with the Department of Justice to “engage the crime war with the same resolve they fought the Cold War.” The program, entitled, “Technology Transfer From Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” (“Technology Transfer from Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” National Institute of Justice Journal, No 229, August, 1995), calls for the transfer of military technology to domestic police organizations to better fight “crime.” Previously, direct “transfers” of this sort were made only to friendly foreign governments. The Clinton directive enhanced and formalized direct militarization of domestic police forces.

Currently, Title XIV of an earlier NDAA in 2007 entitled, “Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions,” authorizes “the Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD) processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology to federal, State, and local first responders.” In other words, the law facilitates the “transfer” of the newest in so-called “crowd control” and surveillance technology to local militarized (politicized) police units.

* In 1993, the US Army and Marine Corps publish Domestic Support Operations Field Manual 100-19.

* In 1994, the Department of Defense issued Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS) that details the rationale and means (“tactics, techniques and procedures”) for suppressing dissent. It states that, “the President is authorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States to suppress insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions and circumstances. Planning and preparedness by the Federal Government and the Department of Defense for civil disturbances are important, do to the potential severity of the consequences of such events for the Nation and the population.”

* In 1995, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an key elite “policymaker” headquartered in New York City, set up an “Independent Task Force on Nonlethal Weapons (NLW)” in order “to assess the current status of non-lethal weapons development and availability within the Department of Defense, in light of their potential to support U.S. military operations and foreign policy,” not to mention the suppression of dissent at home. The 16 member Task Force, which published its’ findings in 1999, was chaired by IBM executive Richard L. Garwin, CFR “Senior Fellow for Science and Technology.” Other members of the Task Force included CFR “military fellow” David Jones, United States Navy, Commander, Edward N. Luttwak, member, “National Security Study Group administered by the Department of Defense,” Edward C. Meyer, USA (Ret.), Chair of Mitretek Systems, formerly Chief of Staff, US Army, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Janet and Christopher Morris, President/Vice President, M2 Technologies, Inc, members US Global Strategy Council.

The Director of the CFR task force on non-lethal “technologies” was W. Montaque Winfield, former Executive Officer to the Commander of the “Stabilization Force” stationed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Also a 1998-9 CFR “military fellow,” Brigadier General Winfield, some of you might recall, was the deputy director for operations (DDO) in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11, who according to the 9/11 Commission, left his post that very morning to attend a “pre-scheduled meeting” and allowed a colleague who had only recently qualified to take over his position, to stand in for him. He didn’t return to his post until after the terrorist attacks had ended.

The CFR had issued an earlier report on the subject of “non-lethal” weapons in 1995, and stated in the 1999 report that they had regrettably “found that the DoD has made only limited progress developing and deploying nonlethal weapons since 1995.” The CFR, offering a bit of a tongue lashing to it’s hired generals, considered the “shortfall” the result of a “continued lack of appreciation for NLW among civilian and military policymakers.” Taking a firm line, the CFR report recommends that, “senior civilian and military leaders should make NLW development a priority.” After all, “nonlethal weapons could give policymakers a more potent weapon than economic sanctions.” In fact, “used alone”, the report notes, “NLW could penalize civilian economies without high civilian casualties.” Looking for something between “diplomatic table thumping and outright annihilation,” the armchair corporate warriors at the CRR continued to pound away at the need for accelerated “non-lethal” R and D.

* Subsequently, on July 9, 1996, the Department of Defense complied, issuing Directive 3000.3, Policy for Non-Lethal Weapons. The Directive established Department of Defense policies and responsibilities for the development and employment of so-called “non-lethal weapons,” designating the Commandant of the Marine Corps as Executive Agent for the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program. On July 1, 1997, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was established to support the Executive Agent for Non-Lethal Weapons in the day-to-day management of the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program putting the “best and the brightest” at work in designing soft-kill means (including neuro-weapons) of “crowd dispersal” and “social control” set within a strategy of so-called “low-intensity warfare” and “counter-insurgency.”

Recently, this past May 17, 2012 the DoD issued Instruction 3200.19. Entitled “Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW) Human Effects Characterization,” the “instruction” “establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for a human effects characterization process in support of the development of NLW, non lethal technology and NLW systems.” It also establishes a “Human Effects Review Board,” which “scientifically” evaluates and quantifies levels of pain, calculating the most desirable “effects” in regard to the use of non-lethal force against non-combatants and protesters. In this regard, they receive a lot of assistance from their friends and associates in academia.

In 1997 Penn State University established the Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies. The Institute is “dedicated to providing a base of multidisciplinary knowledge and technology that supports development and responsible application of non-lethal options for both military and civilian law enforcement. “ The Institute is administered by Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), under the direction and support of the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

Its Human Effects Advisory Panel sponsored a conference in September 2000, whose purpose was “to assess crowd behavior and the potential for crowd control … a leading core capability sought by the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program.” Their 2001 report was entitled, “Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control, and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons.”

Meanwhile, the University of New Hampshire’s Non-Lethal Technology Innovation Center (NTIC) was created by a grant from the DoD’s Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate about the same time “to effect the next generation of NL capabilities by identifying and promoting the development of innovative concepts, materials and technologies within the academic community.” Its “Society of Force Effectiveness, Analysis and Techniques” (FEAT) was “established to engage primary source scientists to share results and analyses from studies of applied force, whether physical, psychological, or emotional. The Society’s scope of interests includes the impact of non-lethal or less lethal force intervention on sustained attention; performance degradation due to fatigue or intentional distraction; compliance; vigilance; and stress resilience.” The Society, given its specific intent on affecting “motivational behavior,” is keen on identifying “disciplines that support the development of tools of behavioral modification through force (e.g., kinetic and electromagnetic energies, psychological operations).”

* In August of 2001, the Pentagon issued Field Manual 3-19.40, Internment and Resettlement Operations. Explicating the role of military police engaged in law enforcement, including at the point of domestic detention activities set within the context of “emergency” support, the extensive manual covers detention policies and methodologies and the use of non-lethal weapons. Chapter 10, Sections 49-66 detail the nature of “emergency services” within the “continental United States,” explaining that “MP (military police) units assisting ES (emergency service) operations in CONUS involve DoD-sponsored military programs that support the people and the government at all levels within the US and its territories.” Classified as “domestic support,” the manual states that, “federal armed forces can be employed when …” in the face of a declared “emergency,” “state and local authorities do not take appropriate action.”

In that instance, FEMA would serve as “the single POC within the government.” With a nod to the Posse Comitatus Act the document goes on to state that, “the MP support to ES in CONUS varies significantly from other I/R (internment/resettlement) operations. The basic difference is that local and state governments and the federal government and its agencies have a greater impact and role in supporting and meeting the needs in an affected community.” “If tasked to set up and operate an I/R facility, the MP commander retains control of military forces under his command,” and can operate “in conjunction with local, state and federal law enforcement officials.”

* September 11 provided the elite Project for a New American Century and their associates with the “new Pearl Harbor” they sought, as set forth in Rebuilding America’s Defenses (pg.51), a major consequence of which was the September 18, 2001 passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force or AUMF.

The Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world

This singular, presumably legal rationale for much of what we now endure, the AUMF substantiates the notion that the Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world, any time it chooses. In addition, apparently as we now see, the AUMF gives the Pentagon and it’s covetous corporate directors justification for the military takeover of America itself and the detention of its people. Thus, the AUMF is cited by the peddlers of Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012.

The modern “military tribunal” structure, which is a major piece of the detention/repression apparatus, came into formal existence as a consequence of the 2002 Department of Defense Military Commission Order No.1, issued on March 21, 2002 by former president (war criminal) George W. Bush.

The entire military commission/tribunal structure is a work in progress, or more precisely, a dynamic and strategic power play on the part of the rulers set in motion following 9/11; a “might makes right” gambit undertaken by the militarist directors in the smoke of 9/11. Like the so-called Patriot Act, it was forced down the throats of a submissive, clueless public, sufficiently softened by means of prime time terror, fear and panic. Taking two steps forward and one step back, the militarists act first and then rationalize (or more precisely have their employees in the Congress) baptize the move after the fact. Where do presidents like Dubya, and now Obama get the authority to issue such blanket, unilateral decrees, totalitarian “executive orders,” such as Obama’s “National Defense Preparedness Order” of this year, which would force us to work for the Pentagon? The answer: No where! They have no authority! Particularly to set up parallel systems of jurisprudence as a means of by-passing Constitutional protections. In historical fact, this approach has a parallel in earlier maneuvers of another former “executive,” Adolph Hitler. (see Hitler’s Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Muller, Harvard, 1991)

Concurrent with the round-up of over a thousand people following the September 11 attack, many of whom are still being held, many in solitary confinement, with no charges being filed, President Bush signed in November 2001 an order, establishing military “tribunals” for those non-citizens, accused, anywhere, of “terrorist related crimes.” And now, with the NDAA, citizens might soon face the same fate. Just imagine some smug and starchy government lawyer arguing that “the right to equal protection,” a fundamental principle of both U.S. and international law, demands that Americans be detained too!

At the time (2001), the National Legal Aid & Defender Association stated that the Bush promulgated “military order” violated the constitutional separation of powers:

“It has not been authorized by the Congress and is outside the President’s constitutional powers … the order strips away a variety of checks and balances on governmental power and the reliability and integrity of criminal judgments… undermines the rule of law worldwide, and invites reciprocal treatment of US nationals by hostile nations utilizing secret trials, a single entity as prosecutor, judge and jury, no judicial review and summary executions.”

More recently, in October 2009, the U.S. Congress passed and Obama dutifully signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (2009 MCA), which remains in effect today, legalizing further, if you will, the naked power grab by the executive in behalf of the elite. Since then the “Office of Military Commissions” has been set up as a public relations/propaganda front for the dictatorship. It promises to “provide fair and transparent trials of those persons subject to trial by Military Commissions while protecting national security interests.” Kind of like Fox’s “fair and balanced” news reporting.

Finally, we should recall that the NDAA of past years, aside from providing the funding of vast sums for illegal and immoral wars, torture and assassination, has been the site of various embedded measures designed to further limit our democratic rights of free expression and assembly, which is the foundation of effective and meaningful dissent. One such measure dates back to 2007, to the then so-called John Warner NDAA, named after militarism’s best friend and sponsor of the iconic AUMF.

Public Law 109-364, or the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007″ (H.R.5122), was signed by George Bush on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony. It allowed the President to declare a “public emergency” and subsequently station troops anywhere in America, seizing control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” Well, fortunately, a massive protest ensued and the sections of the law that allowed for such were eventually repealed in the midst of which Senator Pat Leahy commented that, “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law.” Preparing to order the military onto the streets of America, the presumption is that some form of martial law would be in evidence. Note that the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is “martial law.”

The concept of martial rule, as distinct from martial law, is not written, and therefore is an eminently more workable arrangement for “law enforcement forces.” That’s because, as US Army Field Manual 19-15 points out, “martial rule is based on public necessity. Public necessity in this sense means public safety.” According to the manual (cited above), updated in 2005, U.S. state authorities “may take such action within their own jurisdictions.” And yet, “whether or not martial rule has been proclaimed, commanders must weigh each proposed action against the threat to public order and safety. If the need for martial rule arises, the military commander at the scene must so inform the Army Chief of Staff and await instructions. If martial rule is imposed, the civilian population must be informed of the restrictions and rules of conduct that the military can enforce.”

Now, respecting the power of free speech, the manual suggests that, “during a civil disturbance, it may be advisable to prevent people from assembling. Civil law can make it unlawful for people to meet to plan an act of violence, rioting, or civil disturbance. Prohibitions on assembly may forbid gatherings at any place and time.” And don’t forget, “making hostile or inflammatory speeches advocating the overthrow of the lawful government and threats against public officials, if it endangered public safety, could violate such law.”

Further, during civil disturbance operations, “authorities must be prepared to detain large numbers of people,” forcing them into existing, though expanded “detention facilities.” Cautioning that, “if there are more detainees than civil detention facilities can handle, civil authorities may ask the control forces to set up and operate temporary facilities.” Pending the approval of the Army Chief of Staff, the military can detain and jail citizens en masse. “The temporary facilities are set up on the nearest military installation or on suitable property under federal control.” These “temporary facilities” are “supervised and controlled by MP officers and NCOs trained and experienced in Army correctional operations. Guards and support personnel under direct supervision and control of MP officers and NCOs need not be trained or experienced in Army correctional operations. But they must be specifically instructed and closely supervised in the proper use of force.”

According to the Army, the detention facilities are situated near to the “disturbance area,” but far enough away “not to be endangered by riotous acts.” Given the large numbers of potential detainees, the logistics (holding, searching, processing areas) of such an undertaking, new construction of such facilities “may be needed to provide the segregation for ensuring effective control and administration.” It must be designed and “organized for a smooth flow of traffic,” while a medical “treatment area” would be utilized as a “separate holding area for injured detainees.” After a “detainee is logged in and searched,” “a file is initiated,” and a “case number” identifies the prisoner. In addition, “facility personnel also may use hospital ID tags. Using indelible ink, they write the case number and attach the tag to the detainees wrist. Different colors may be used to identify different offender classifications ”

Finally, if and when it should occur, “release procedures must be coordinated with civil authorities and appropriate legal counsel.” If the “detainee” should produce a writ of habeas corpus issued by a state court, thereby demanding ones day in court, the Army will “respectfully reply that the prisoner is being held by authority of the United States.”

In conclusion:

There is no question that the militarized police state, in all its myriad permutations has arrived. In fact, the militarizing of American cities and society as a whole proceeds apace in lock step (Cities Under Seige: The New Military Urbanism, Stephen Graham, 2010) with the racist, anti-immigrant “defense” of the borders, a veritable cash cow for military contractors, booming. The cities, the borders, so how bout the skies? Well, as this is being written, the latest 2013 NDAA discussions include a Senate Armed Services Committee call to allow drones to operate “freely and routinely” in America!

Meanwhile, the GAO has just issued a report to Congress entitled “DOD Should Reevaluate Requirements for the Selective Service System” which calls for an evaluation of Pentagon “manpower needs for the Selective Service System in light of current national security plans.” Such an evaluation would, the report notes, “better position Congress to make an informed decision about the necessity of the Selective Service System or any other alternatives that might substitute for it.”

Yes indeed, the water is boiling. Not to mix metaphors, but it’s time to jump out of the frying pan and hopefully not into the fire, which I take to mean that we must confront and deconstruct, in a non-violent way, the increasing potential for far more violence and suppression of our basic freedoms. The handing over of our resources, lives, fortune and reputation to a clique of thieves and murderers dressed up as presidents, congress people and corporate military executives and underlings is to foster our continued enslavement to the perpetrators of injustice and genocide, here and broad, inequality and greed, here and abroad, and signals the political suicide for our republic. We have got to act to stop the police state and reassert the values of community, justice and equality in the councils of governance. And to do so we must dis-empower the militarists.

One thing we can do right now is to initiate organizing campaigns in neighborhoods and communities across the country aimed at the passing of Posse Comitatus-like legislation on the local and state level, encouraging dialogue on the de-militarization of our communities, and raising the human right to be free of the violation inherent in all forms of militarism. By removing all aspects of militarism from domestic policing, lock, stock and barrel, we can expand the terrain of dissent and begin to reclaim our country back from the economic vultures and parasites and their violent mercenaries who are killing this country and the world. But first we must criminalize, like the Posse Comitatus Act does, all military involvement in law enforcement.

Communities must organize to de-militarize their police

Communities must organize to de-militarize their police. By analyzing police budgets, cutting the “special ops” training and funding and weapons transfers that fuel the militarization of law enforcement, we will most certainly decrease the level of police violence directed against the citizenry, and bridge issues and communities concerned with the epidemic of racist “police brutality” and the burgeoning of militarized police forces, veritable occupation armies in communities of color across America.

Along with criminalizing the militarization of local police we must work to criminalize racial profiling on the part of the police, a practice (indoctrinated in soldiers) that provides naked justification for “stop and frisk” harassment and the murdering of young black men.

Make killer cops liable for these murders, stripped of the “sovereign immunity” that is their 007 license to kill. Ditto for “stand your ground” or more-arms-for-the-white-right laws, which along with the high rates of gun ownership in certain demographic regions of the country, create the ominous potential for “deputized” armed posses, who along with state sponsored “defense forces” on a mission to presumably protect the “homeland” promise only more violence and repression. Disarm and expose them, expose the fraud of a hyped-up “law enforcement” establishment willing to break any laws to please the master, the financiers, the power brokers who manipulate them for gain, who are really only pawns in their game.

It is irrational and a violation of the civil and human rights of the citizenry to perpetuate the arming of militarized police trained to suppress constitutionally insured rights to free speech and assembly. They are supposed to defend the Constitution, not “detain” those who do! They are supposed to defend the civil rights of the people, not “partner” with the CIA and FBI and spy on activists and Muslim communities, entrapping their youth, victims of the racist charade called “the war on terror.” (Associated Press, “Post-9/11, NYPD targets ethnic communities, partners with CIA,” 8/24/11)

They are supposed to defend the right to protest, not brutalize those who do, peacefully, as in the most recent police crack-down on the Occupy movement. (New York Times, “When the Police Go Military” 12/3/11). They are supposed to be sensitive to the civil and human rights of all the people, respect the cultural diversity of their environment, “serve and protect,” not to be trained in “quick shoot reflex” by outfits such as the Firearms Training Systems which trains both the NYPD and the US marines!

Police departments are public institutions subject to the will of local governments, to the will of the public, the people. But only if we act! Where and under what circumstances the police receive their training, are granted “immunity” and what armaments they possess, (paid for by public funds) and what sort of institutional relationships with US military and intelligence agencies (which public documents would make evident) are they engaged in …

These are the kinds of questions and avenues of approach common throughout history in the struggle of citizens against police/military dictatorships. And despite the recent May 17, 2012 issuance of the “DoD Civil Liberties Program,” which defines civil liberties as “fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution of the United States,” except when “operational requirements” of “an authorized law enforcement, intelligence collection, or counterintelligence activity” dictate otherwise; despite the tightening noose, in the end we must rely on the law, on “the rule of law,” specifically, on the ability (necessity) of reasonable people of good will acquiring sufficient power to draft new and enforceable laws, laws which promote justice, healing, growth, life and peace. And to make them stick!

We claim and hope to be a society of laws, by the people, for all the people. But we are not. Never have been. Nonetheless, we are capable of evolving, of igniting a revolution of values in this country and becoming the land we all aspire to “with justice and freedom for all.” But in order to get there, we will have to overcome the coup of 2012.

Frank Morales / Memorial Day / 2012

WWIII Scenario


NATO Terrorists in Syria Attack Kurdish Minority

January 27th, 2013 by Eric Draitser

 The Western media and Western government representatives from the United States and across the European Union, still insist that the sectarian bloodbath unfolding in Syria, fueled by US, British and EU weapons and cash, is a so-called “pro-democracy” uprising. Why then, one might ask, are these so-called “pro-democracy” freedom fighters turning their weapons on Syria’s Kurdish minority if the “rebels” are allegedly locked in mortal combat with a “dictatorship” they seek to overthrow for the sake of all Syrians?

The answer of course is that the conflict is most certainly not a “pro-democracy” uprising, but rather Saudi-Qatari inspired sectarian extremists imported and armed by NATO from abroad, to subjugate and conquer the people of Syria – to subjugate and conquer anyone who does not subscribe or submit to Saudi-inspired, NATO underwritten extremism in pursuit of foreign-backed regime change and regional geopolitical reordering.

To explain the recent violence visited upon Kurds in Syria, PressTV interviewed New York City-based geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser of

SYRIA: CIA-MI6 Intel Ops and Sabotage

January 27th, 2013 by Felicity Arbuthnot

This incisive article by veteran war correspondent  Felicity Arbuthnot was published by Global Research a year ago, on February 2, 2012.

You will not read it in the New York Times.

At a time of  mounting media fabrications –when “objective truths are fading” and  “lies are passing into history”– this analysis reveals the diabolical modus operandi of US-NATO terrorism and  how covert intelligence ops are applied to trigger conditions which are conducive to the collapse of nation states. One of these “conditions” is the outright killing of  innocent civilians as part of a cover operation and then blaming president Bashar Al Assad of  having committed atrocities against his own people

Michel Chossudovsky,  Global Research , January 27, 2012


“In order to facilitate the action of liberative (sic) forces, …a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. …[to] be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention, …

Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main (sic) incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals. …Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus …

Further : a “necessary degree of fear .. frontier incidents and (staged) border clashes”, would “provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS [MI6 should use … capabilitites in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.” (Joint US-UK leaked Intelligence Document, London and Washington, 1957)

“'The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history."
(George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950.)

For anyone in two minds about what is really going on in Syria, and whether President Assad, hailed a decade ago as “A Modern Day Attaturk”, has become the latest megalomaniacal despot, to whose people a US-led posse of nations, must deliver “freedom”, with weapons of mass, home, people, nation and livelihood destruction, here is a salutary tale from modern history.

Have the more recent sabre rattlings against Syria* been based on US-UK government papers, only discovered in 2003 - and since air brushed (or erroneously omitted) from even BBC timelines, on that country?(i)

In late 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, Matthew Jones, a Reader in International History, at London’s Royal Holloway College, discovered “frighteningly frank” documents:1957 plans between then UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, and then President, Dwight Eisenhower, endorsing: “a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion (of Syria) by Syria’s pro-western neighbours.” (ii)

At the heart of the plan was the assassination of the perceived power behind then President Shukri al-Quwatli. Those targeted were: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, Head of Military Intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, Chief of Syrian General Staff: and Khalid Bakdash, who headed the Syrian Communist Party.

The document was drawn up in Washington in the September of 1957:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative (sic) forces, reduce the capabilities of the regime to organize and direct its military actions … to bring about the desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals.

“Their removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention, and in the light of circumstances existing at the time.”

In the light of President Assad’s current allegations of foreign forces and interventions, cross border incursions (as Colonel Qadafi’s before him, so sneered at by Western governments and media – and, of course, ultimately proved so resoundingly correct.) there are some fascinating, salutary phrases:

“Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main (sic) incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.

“Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus … care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures.”

Further : a “necessary degree of fear .. frontier incidents and (staged) border clashes”, would “provide a pretext for intervention”, by Iraq and Jordan - then still under British mandate.

Syria was to be: “made to appear as sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments … the CIA and SIS [Her Majesty's Secret International Serivce, MI6] should use … capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

Incursions in to Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, would involve: “sabotage, national conspiracies, and various strong arms activities”, were, advised the document, to be blamed on Damascus.

In late December 2011 an opposition “Syria National Council” was announced, to “liberate the country”, representatives met with Hilary Clinton. There now seems to be a US – endorsed “Syrian Revolutionary Council.”

The Eisenhower-Macmillan plan was for funding of the: “Free Syria Committee” and “arming of political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities”, within Syria.

CIA-MI6, planned fomenting internal uprisings and replacing the Ba’ath-Communist-leaning government, with a Western, user-friendly one. Expecting this to be met by public hostility, they planned to: “probably need to rely first on repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power.”

The document was signed off in both London and Washington. It was, wrote Macmillan in his diary: “a most formidable report.” A Report which was: “withheld even from British Chiefs of Staff …”

Washington and Whitehall had become concerned at Syria’s increasingly pro-Soviet, rather than pro-Western sympathies – and the Ba’ath (Pan Arab) and Communist party alliance, also largely allied within the Syrian army.

However, even political concerns, were trumped by Syria then controlling a main pipeline from the Western bonanza of Iraq’s oil fields, in those pre-Saddam Hussein days.

Briefly put: in 1957, Syria allied with Moscow (which included an agreement for military and economic aid) also recognized China – and then as now, the then Soviet Union warned the West against intervening in Syria.

Syria, is unchanged as an independent minded country, and the loyalties remain. It broadly remains the cradle of the Pan Arab ideal of Ba’athism, standing alone, since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In 1957, this independent mindedness caused Loy Henderson, a Senior State Department official, to say that:“the present regime in Syria had to go …”

Ultimately, the plan was not used, since, British mandate or not, neighbouring countries refused to play. However, the project, overtly, bears striking similarity to the reality of events over the last decade, in Syria – and the region.

In a near 1957 re-run, Britain’s Foreign Minister, William Hague has said President Assad “will feel emboldened” by the UN Russia-China vote in Syria’s favour.

Hilary (“We came, we saw, he died”) Clinton, has called for: “friends of a democratic Syria”, to unite and rally against the Assad government:

“We need to work together to send them a clear message: you cannot hold back the future at the point of a gun”, said the women filmed purportedly watching the extrajudicial, illegal assassination of may be, or may be not, Osma Bin Laden and others – but certainly people were murdered – by US illegal invaders – at the point of lots of guns.

Supremely ironically, she was speaking in Munich (5th February) historically: “The birth place of the Nazi party.”

The Russia-China veto at the UN on actions against Syria, has been condemned by the US, varyingly, as: “Disgusting”, ‘shameful”, “deplorable”, “a travesty.”

Eye opening, is the list of US vetoes to be found at (iii). Jaw dropping double standards can only be wondered at (again.).

Perhaps the bottom line is: in 1957, Iraq’s oil was at the top of the agenda, of which Syria held an important key. Today, it is Iran’s – and as Michel Chossudovsky notes so succinctly: “The road to Tehran is through Damascus.”(iv)







The Children Killed by America’s Drones. “Crimes Against Humanity” committed by Barack H. Obama., Prof Michel Chossudovsky, January 26, 2013


Behind each name there is the face of a child with a family history in a village in a far away country, with a mom and a dad, with brothers and sisters and friends.

U.S. government smear campaign against reporters exposing the drone wars

Proliferation of Armed Drones for “Global Security”: Will the UN Drone Inquiry Get to the Heart of the matter?, Chris Cole, January 26, 2013


The UN inquiry into the use of armed drones for targeted killing, announced yesterday by London-based UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, is very much to be welcomed. Undertaken at the direct request of several…


UN Launches Major Investigation into Civilian Drone Deaths, 

Chris Woods and Alice K Ross, January 26, 2013

A UN investigation into the legality and casualties of drone strikes has been formally launched, with a leading human rights lawyer revealing the team that will carry out the inquiry. The announcement came…


Obama Inauguration Day: Two Nobel Peace Laureates, “Drones Apart”. Martin Luther King: “From Every Mountainside, Let Freedom Ring.”, Felicity Arbuthnot, January 21, 2013

One day … Children at school will ask: What is war? You will answer them. You will tell them: Those words are not used any more. Like stagecoaches, galleys or slavery. Words no longer meaningful … (Martin Luther King,15th January…


Institutionalized Killing: Obama to Approve Drone Assassination Manual, 

Patrick Martin, January 21, 2013

President Obama is about to sign off on a manual that will institutionalize the process by which the White House orders and approves killings by remote-controlled drones, according to a report Sunday. The so-called counterterrorism “playbook” will define the circumstances…

 Drone Wars UK, January 20, 2013


“What is needed is a clear understanding of the issues involved so that informed decisions can be made.” The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, MoD 2011 In 2011 the MoD published its policy document on the use of armed…

 Norman Solomon, January 19, 2013


A simple twist of fate has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, he has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”


Click here for all articles published this week.

‘French War Exacerbates Mali’s Internal Tensions’

January 27th, 2013 by Abayomi Azikiwe

To watch this TV interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, click here

A political commentator believes that the French military operation against Malian fighters has exacerbated the internal tensions in the resource-rich African country.

France initiated military action in Mali on January 12 to allegedly halt the advance of the rebels, who control the northern parts of the West African nation. Chaos broke out in the African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire in Detroit, to further talk over the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: How bad are things looking for France in Mali when even the United Nations is not willing to come onboard?

Azikiwe: The French government made a unilateral decision to enter Mali. They have been carrying out bombing operations, ground operations and in the reports emerging from the ground in Mali about numerous atrocities that have been committed, that are being attributed to the Malian military but as we know, the French are there to serve the interests of not only their own government but also in an attempt to prop up an unstable military regime that had taken power last year in Mali.

Reports coming out of Sevare indicate that 11 people recently were massacred in a military base; at least 20 other murders in the same region has been reported over the last several days and this is taking place at a time in which there are certain elements among the Tuareg population who are willing to negotiate with the Malian government to reach a political solution in this crisis.

For example, the Ansar Dine, it was just reported yesterday, has undergone a major split inside the organization and the group that has emerged, the Islamic Movement of Azawad, is willing to hold negotiations.

They in fact, met with the representatives of the Malian government in neighboring Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

So France, of course, has exacerbated the internal tensions inside of Mali as a result of their military operations inside the country.

Press TV: So then many people have spoken about how Mali may become France’s Afghanistan. Is that a fair comparison?

Azikiwe: It is a vast country; the Tuaregs as well as other groups inside of Mali have a long history of resistance against colonialism and neocolonialism and I do not believe that France is going to reach its objectives inside the country without a major campaign of armed unrest on the part of not only the Tuareg population but also other groups inside of Mali as well because they too are being victimized by this military onslaught.

 Through much of history the abnormal has been the norm.

This is a paradox to which we should attend. Aberrations, so plentiful as to form a terrible normality of their own, descend upon us with frightful consistency.

The number of massacres in history, for instance, are almost more than we can record.  There was the New World holocaust, consisting of the extermination of indigenous Native American peoples throughout the western hemisphere, extending over four centuries or more, continuing into recent times in the Amazon region.

There were the centuries of heartless slavery in the Americas and elsewhere, followed by a full century of lynch mob rule and Jim Crow segregation in the United States, and today the numerous killings and incarcerations of Black youth by law enforcement agencies.

Let us not forget the extermination of some 200,000 Filipinos by the U.S. military at the beginning of the twentieth century, the genocidal massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks in 1915, and the mass killings of African peoples by the western colonists, including the 63,000 Herero victims in German Southwest Africa in 1904, and the brutalization and enslavement of millions in the Belgian Congo from the late 1880s until emancipation in 1960—followed by years of neocolonial free-market exploitation and repression in what was Mobutu’s Zaire.

French colonizers killed some 150,000 Algerians. Later on, several million souls perished in Angola and Mozambique along with an estimated five million in the merciless region now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The twentieth century gave us—among other horrors—more than sixteen million lost and twenty million wounded or mutilated in World War I, followed by the estimated 62 million to 78 million killed in World War II, including some 24 million Soviet military personnel and civilians, 5.8 million European Jews, and taken together:  several million Serbs, Poles, Roma, homosexuals, and a score of other nationalities.

In the decades after World War II, many, if not most, massacres and wars have been openly or covertly sponsored by the U.S. national security state. This includes the two million or so left dead or missing in Vietnam, along with 250,000 Cambodians, 100,000 Laotians, and 58,000 Americans.

Today in much of Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East there are “smaller” wars, replete with atrocities of all sorts. Central America, Colombia, Rwanda and other places too numerous to list, suffered the massacres and death-squad exterminations of hundreds of thousands, a constancy of violent horrors. In Mexico a “war on drugs” has taken 70,000 lives with 8,000 missing.

There was the slaughter of more than half a million socialistic or democratic nationalist Indonesians by the U.S.-supported Indonesian military in 1965, eventually followed by the extermination of 100,000 East Timorese by that same U.S.-backed military.

Consider the 78-days of NATO’s aerial destruction of Yugoslavia complete with depleted uranium, and the bombings and invasion of Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Western Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now the devastating war of attrition brokered against Syria. And as I write (early 2013), the U.S.-sponsored sanctions against Iran are seeding severe hardship for the civilian population of that country.

All the above amounts to a very incomplete listing of the world’s violent and ugly injustice. A comprehensive inventory would fill volumes. How do we record the countless other life-searing abuses: the many millions who survive wars and massacres but remain forever broken in body and spirit, left to a lifetime of suffering and pitiless privation, refugees without sufficient food or medical supplies or water and sanitation services in countries like Syria, Haiti, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Mali.

Think of the millions of women and children around the world and across the centuries who have been trafficked in unspeakable ways, and the millions upon millions trapped in exploitative toil, be they slaves, indentured servants, or underpaid laborers. The number of impoverished is now growing at a faster rate than the world’s population.  Add to that, the countless acts of repression, incarceration, torture, and other criminal abuses that beat upon the human spirit throughout the world day by day.

Let us not overlook the ubiquitous corporate corruption and massive financial swindles, the plundering of natural resources and industrial poisoning of whole regions, the forceful dislocation of entire populations, the continuing catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima and other impending disasters awaiting numerous aging nuclear reactors.

The world’s dreadful aberrations are so commonplace and unrelenting that they lose their edge and we become inured to the horror of it all. “Who today remembers the Armenians?” Hitler is quoted as having said while plotting his “final solution” for the Jews. Who today remembers the Iraqis and the death and destruction done to them on a grand scale by the U.S. invasion of their lands? William Blum reminds us that more than half the Iraq population is either dead, wounded, traumatized, imprisoned, displaced, or exiled, while their environment is saturated with depleted uranium (from U.S. weaponry) inflicting horrific birth defects.

What is to be made of all this? First, we must not ascribe these aberrations to happenstance, innocent confusion, and unintended consequences.  Nor should we believe the usual rationales about spreading democracy, fighting terrorism, providing humanitarian rescue, protecting U.S. national interests and other such rallying cries promulgated by ruling elites and their mouthpieces.

The repetitious patterns of atrocity and violence are so persistent as to invite the suspicion that they usually serve real interests; they are structural not incidental.  All this destruction and slaughter has greatly profited those plutocrats who pursue economic expansion, resource acquisition, territorial dominion, and financial accumulation.

Ruling interests are well served by their superiority in firepower and striking force. Violence is what we are talking about here, not just the wild and wanton type but the persistent and well-organized kind. As a political resource, violence is the instrument of ultimate authority. Violence allows for the conquest of entire lands and the riches they contain, while keeping displaced laborers and other slaves in harness.

The plutocratic rulers find it necessary to misuse or exterminate restive multitudes, to let them starve while the fruits of their land and the sweat of their labor enrich privileged coteries.

Thus we had a profit-driven imperial rule that helped precipitate the great famine in northern China, 1876-1879, resulting in the death of some thirteen million. At about that same time the Madras famine in India took the lives of as many as twelve million while the colonial forces grew ever richer.  And thirty years earlier, the great potato famine in Ireland led to about one million deaths, with another desperate million emigrating from their homeland. Nothing accidental about this: while the Irish starved, their English landlords exported shiploads of Irish grain and livestock to England and elsewhere at considerable profit to themselves.

These occurrences must be seen as something more than just historic abnormalities floating aimlessly in time and space, driven only by overweening impulse or happenstance. It is not enough to condemn monstrous events and bad times, we also must try to understand them. They must be contextualized in the larger framework of historical social relations.

The dominant socio-economic system today is free-market capitalism (in all its variations). Along with its unrelenting imperial terrorism, free-market capitalism provides “normal abnormalities” from within its own dynamic, creating scarcity and maldistributed excess, filled with duplication, waste, overproduction, frightening environmental destruction, and varieties of financial crises, bringing swollen rewards to a select few and continual hardship to multitudes.

Economic crises are not exceptional; they are the standing operational mode of the capitalist system. Once again, the irrational is the norm. Consider U.S. free-market history: after the American Revolution, there were the debtor rebellions of the late 1780s, the panic of 1792, the recession of 1809 (lasting several years), the panics of 1819 and 1837, and recessions and crashes through much of the rest of that century. The serious recession of 1893 continued for more than a decade.

After the industrial underemployment of 1900 to 1915 came the agrarian depression of the 1920s—hidden behind what became known to us as “the Jazz Age,” followed by a horrendous crash and the Great Depression of 1929-1942. All through the twentieth century we had wars, recessions, inflation, labor struggles, high unemployment—hardly a year that would be considered “normal” in any pleasant sense. An extended normal period would itself have been an abnormality. The free market is by design inherently unstable in every aspect other than wealth accumulation for the select few.

What we are witnessing is not an irrational output from a basically rational society but the converse: the “rational” (to be expected) output of a fundamentally irrational system. Does this mean these horrors are inescapable? No, they are not made of supernatural forces. They are produced by plutocratic greed and deception.

So, if the aberrant is the norm and the horrific is chronic, then we in our fightback should give less attention to the idiosyncratic and more to the systemic. Wars, massacres and recessions help to increase capital concentration, monopolize markets and natural resources, and destroy labor organizations and popular transformative resistance.

The brutish vagaries of plutocracy are not the product of particular personalities but of systemic interests. President George W. Bush was ridiculed for misusing words, but his empire-building and stripping of government services and regulations revealed a keen devotion to ruling-class interests.  Likewise, President Barack Obama is not spineless. He is hypocritical but not confused. He is (by his own description) an erstwhile “liberal Republican,” or as I would put it, a faithful servant of corporate America.

Our various leaders are well informed, not deluded. They come from different regions and different families, and have different personalities, yet they pursue pretty much the same policies on behalf of the same plutocracy.

So it is not enough to denounce atrocities and wars, we also must understand who propagates them and who benefits. We have to ask why violence and deception are constant ingredients.

Unintended consequences and other oddities do arise in worldly affairs but we also must take account of interest-driven rational intentions. More often than not, the aberrations—be they wars, market crashes, famines, individual assassinations or mass killings—take shape because those at the top are pursuing gainful expropriation. Many may suffer and perish but somebody somewhere is benefiting boundlessly.

Knowing your enemies and what they are capable of doing is the first step toward effective opposition. The world becomes less of a horrific puzzlement.  We can only resist these global (and local) perpetrators when we see who they are and what they are doing to us and our sacred environment.

Democratic victories, however small and partial they be, must be embraced. But the people must not be satisfied with tinseled favors offered by smooth leaders. We need to strive in every way possible for the revolutionary unraveling, a revolution of organized consciousness striking at the empire’s heart with the full force of democracy, the kind of irresistible upsurge that seems to come from nowhere while carrying everything before it.

Michael Parenti’s most recent books are The Culture Struggle (2006), Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (2007), God and His Demons (2010), Democracy for the Few (9th ed. 2011), and The Face of Imperialism (2011). For further information about his work, visit his website:

The New Mediterranean Oil and Gas Bonanza

January 27th, 2013 by F. William Engdahl

The discovery in late 2010 of the huge natural gas bonanza off Israel’s Mediterranean shores triggered other neighboring countries to look more closely at their own waters. The results revealed that the entire eastern Mediterranean is swimming in huge untapped oil and gas reserves. That discovery is having enormous political, geopolitical as well as economic consequences. It well may have potential military consequences too.

Preliminary exploration has confirmed similarly impressive reserves of gas and oil in the waters off Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and potentially, Syria.

Greek ‘energy Sirtaki’

Not surprisingly, amid its disastrous financial crisis the Greek government began serious exploration for oil and gas. Since then the country has been in a curious kind of a dance with the IMF and EU governments, a kind of “energy Sirtaki” over who will control and ultimately benefit from the huge resource discoveries there.

In December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea. [1]

The southern Aegean Sea and Cretan Sea are yet to be explored, so the numbers could be significantly higher. An earlier Greek National Council for Energy Policy report stated that “Greece is one of the least explored countries in Europe regarding hydrocarbon (oil and gas-w.e.) potentials.” [2] According to one Greek analyst, Aristotle Vassilakis, “surveys already done that have measured the amount of natural gas estimate it to reach some nine trillion dollars.” [3]  Even if only a fraction of that is available, it would transform the finances of Greece and the entire region.

Tulane University oil expert David Hynes told an audience in Athens recently that Greece could potentially solve its entire public debt crisis through development of its new-found gas and oil. He conservatively estimates that exploitation of the reserves already discovered could bring the country more than €302 billion over 25 years. The Greek government instead has just been forced to agree to huge government layoffs, wage cuts and pension cuts to get access to a second EU and IMF loan that will only drive the country deeper into an economic decline. [4]

Notably, the IMF and EU governments, among them Germany, demand instead that Greece sell off its valuable ports and public companies, among them of course, Greek state oil companies, to reduce state debt. Under the best of conditions the asset selloffs would bring the country perhaps €50 billion. [5] Plans call for the Greek state-owned natural gas company, DEPA, to privatize 65% of its shares to reduce debt. [6] Buyers would likely come from outside the country, as few Greek companies are in a position in the crisis to take it.

One significant problem, aside from the fact the IMF demands Greece selloff its public oil interests, is the fact that Greece has not declared a deeper exclusive economic zone like most other countries which drill for oil. There was seen little need until now. An Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) gives a state special mineral rights in its declared waters under the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in November 1994. Under UNCLOS III, a nation can claim an EEZ of 200 nautical miles from its coastline. [7]

Turkey has previously stated it would consider it an act of war if Greece drilled further into the Aegean. [8] Until now that did not seem to have serious economic consequences, as no oil or gas reserves were known. Now it’s an entirely different ballgame.

Evangelos Kouloumbis, former Greek Industry Minister recently stated that Greece could cover “50% its needs with the oil to be found in offshore fields in the Aegean Sea, and the only obstacle to that is the Turkish opposition for an eventual Greek exploitation.” [9]

Hillary dances the Sirtaki too…

In July 2011 Washington joined the Greek energy Sirtaki. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Athens with energy on her mind. That was clear by the fact she brought with her her Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, Richard Morningstar. Morningstar was husband Bill Clinton’s Special Advisor to the President on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, and one of the Washington strategic operatives in the geopolitical battles to dismember the Soviet Union and surround a chaos-ridden Russia with hostile pro-NATO former states of the USSR. Morningstar, along with his controversial aide, Matthew Bryza, have been the key Washington architects of Washington’s geopolitically-motivated oil and gas pipeline projects that would isolate Russia and its Gazprom gas resources from the EU. Bryza is an open opponent of Russian Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline that would transit the eastern Mediterranean states. [10] Clearly the Obama Administration is not at all neutral about the new Greek oil and gas discoveries. Three days after Hillary left Athens the Greek government proposed creation of a new government agency to run tenders for oil and gas surveys and ultimate drilling bids.

Morningstar is the US specialist in economic warfare against Russian energy diplomacy. He was instrumental in backing the controversial B-T-C oil pipeline from Baku through Tbilisi in Georgia across to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a costly enterprise designed solely to bypass Russian oil pipeline transit. He has openly proposed that Greece and Turkey drop all historic differences over Cyprus, over numerous other historic issues and agree to jointly pool all their oil and gas reserves in the Aegean Sea. He also has told the Greek government it should forget cooperation with Moscow on the South Stream and Bourgas-Alexandroupolis gas pipeline projects. [11]

According to a report from Greek political analyst Aristotle Vassilakis published in July 2011, Washington’s motive for pushing Greece to join forces with Turkey on oil and gas is to force a formula to divide resulting oil and gas revenues. According to his report, Washington proposes that Greece get 20% of revenues, Turkey another 20% and the US-backed Noble Energy Company of Houston Texas, the company successfully drilling in the Israeli and Greek offshore waters, would get the lion’s share of 60%. [12]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s  husband, Bill, is a Washington lobbyist for Noble Energy. [13]

And some Cyprus complications…

As if these geopolitical complications were not enough, Noble Energy, has also discovered huge volumes of gas off the waters of the Republic of Cyprus. In December 2011 Noble announced a successful well offshore Cyprus in a field estimated to hold at least 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Noble’s CEO, Charles Davidson remarked to the press, “This latest discovery in Cyprus further highlights the quality and significance of this world-class basin.” [14]

Cyprus is a complicated piece of real estate. In the 1970’s as declassified US Government documents recently revealed, then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actively encouraged and facilitated arms to the Turkish regime of Kissinger’s former Harvard student and then- Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, to stage a military invasion of Cyprus in 1974, in effect partitioning the island between an ethnically Turkish north and an ethnically Greek Republic of Cyprus in the south, a division which remains.  The Kissinger strategy, backed by the British was believed intended to create a pretext for a permanent US and British military listening post in the eastern Mediterranean during the Cold War. [15]

Today the ethnically Greek south, where Noble has discovered large gas deposits, is a member of the EU. Its President, Demetris Christofias, is the only national leader in the European Union who is a communist. He is also a close friend of Israel, and of Russia. In addition, he is a major critic of American foreign policy, as well as of Turkey. [16]

Now Israel is planning to build an underwater gas pipeline from the Israeli Levantine fields across Cyprus waters onto the Greek mainland where it would be sold on the EU market. The Cyprus and Israel governments have mutually agreed on delimitation of their respective economic zones, leaving Turkey in the cold. Turkey openly threatened Cyprus for signing the agreement with Noble Energy. That led to a Russian statement that it would not tolerate Turkish threats against Cyprus, further complicating Turkish-Russian relations. [17]

Turkish-Israeli relations, once quite friendly, have become increasingly strained in recent years under the Erdogan foreign policies. Ankara has expressed concern about Israel’s recent ties with its historic antagonists, Greece and the Greek side of Cyprus. Turkey’s ally the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, fears it could miss out on its fair share of the gas after Israel and Nicosia signed an agreement to divide the 250 kilometers of sea that separate them. [18]

It becomes evident, especially when we glance at a map of the eastern Mediterranean, that the oil and gas prospective bonanza there is a rapidly unfolding conflict zone of tectonic magnitude involving strategic US, Russian, EU, Israeli and Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese interests.

F. William Engdahl is the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order        


1. Ioannis Michaletos, Greek Companies Step Up Offshore Oil Exploration—Large Reserves Possible, December 8, 2010, accessed in

2. Ibid.

3. Hellas Frappe, Hillary came to Greece to seal oil exploration deals!, July 21, 2011, accessed in

4. Chris Blake, Drilling for oil in the Aegean nay help ease Greece’s debt crisis, July 7, 2011, accessed in

5. Ibid.

6. John Daly, Greece Considering Plugging Aegean Islands into Turkish Energy Grid, 22 November 2011, accessed in

7. United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982: PART VI: CONTINENTAL SHELF, Article76, Definition of the continental shelf, accessed in

8. Chris Blake, op. cit.

9. Ioannis Michaletos, op. cit.

10. Hellas Frappe, op. cit.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Hugh Naylor, Vast gas fields found off Israel’s shores cause trouble at home and abroad, January 24, 2011, accessed in

14. Noble Energy Press Release, Significant Natural Gas Discovery Offshore Republic of Cyprus, December 28, 2011, accessed in

15. Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, New documents link Kissinger to two 1970s coups, June 26, 2007, accessed in

16. Yilan, Cyprus conflict defies ready solution, May 30, 2011, accessed in

17. Stephen Blank, Turkey and Cyprus Gas: More Troubles Ahead in 2012, Turkey Analyst, vol. 5 no. 1, 9 January 2011, accessed in

18. Hugh Naylor, op. cit.

Life will perish as the environment perishes. (21st century ecological economist).

Only in science fiction can humans escape the consequences of destroying their own habitat. In Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love, the “Great Diaspora of the Human Race” began “more than two millennia ago” and has spread to more than “two thousand colonized planets.”

The once “lovely green planet” Earth is a slum planet barely able to support life where only the poorest live, Earth’s natural capital having been consumed over two thousand years ago. Humans have found the ability to rejuvenate themselves and to live almost endless lives, but they are unable to rejuvenate the planets whose natural capital they devour. Humans have not encountered “one race as mean, as nasty, as deadly as our own.” As homo sapiens use up the environments of colonized planets, “human intergalactic colony ships are already headed out into the Endless Deeps,” leaving their ruins behind them.

In his book, Collapse, University of California biogeography professor Jared Diamond describes the nonfictional past and present destruction of Earth’s natural capital. Surprisingly, Diamond begins his story of the self-destruction of Easter Island, Anasazi, and Maya civilizations with present-day Montana and ends with Australia. We think of these two lands as scenic, lightly populated, and largely untouched, but they have been brought to the brink of ruin. Diamond’s point is that modern scientific and technological man is no better at managing nature’s capital than previous societies.

Many associate ecological destruction with population pressure. However, the toxicity associated with mining, fracking, chemical fertilizer and GMO farming, and the adverse watershed effects of logging is turning even low density states such as Montana into an environment with ruined soil and water.

In Montana mining has produced a legacy of toxicity–mercury, arsenic, cyanide, cadmium, lead, and zinc. These toxic substances have found their way into Montana’s fishing rivers and into reservoirs. From reservoirs toxic substances have leaked into groundwater and into the wells that supply homes. In 1981 groundwater serving family wells in areas of Montana was found with arsenic levels 42 times higher than federal standards permit.

Before Montana could find ways to retrieve its water resources from the toxic run-offs from mining, a new threat has appeared: hydraulic fracking. Fracking uses huge amounts of surface water, which it infuses with toxic chemicals to aid the extraction of underground gas and oil deposits that are otherwise unrecoverable. The energy industry and its media shills are touting “energy independence” in order to sway the public away from environmentalists, who are warning of the dangers.

Some of fracking’s toxic wastes stay in the ground and seep into aquifers, destroying the water supply. The toxic water that comes back up with the gas or oil has to be disposed of. On occasion, it ends up in city or town waste water treatment plants, which cannot detoxify the water, and in streams where toxic run-off can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus and produce golden algae (prymnesium parvum) which destroys all aquatic life. The use of surface water for fracking might already have depleted the streams that supplied the water, lowering their volume and thus making them vulnerable to other pollution, such as septic tank run-offs and algae from higher temperatures due to a lower water level.

While promising “energy independence,” fracking actually threatens to destroy our fresh water supplies. Recently, researchers have given attention to the fact that water might be the limiting resource and end up more valuable than oil, gas, or gold.

Fracking is still in its infancy, but Pennsylvania is already hard hit. There have been reports that some homeowners have been warned to open their windows when they take a shower, because of the methane content of the water which is high enough in some instances for the water to actually burn.

Energy spokesmen claim that methane found in ground water near fracking sites is a natural condition. However, residents say that their water was not infused with methane prior to the fracking operations. A study recently published by the National Academy of Sciences found that the type of methane gas that has appeared in water supplies is the same as the gas nearby wells are extracting with fracking operations. This indicates that the methane is moving into water supplies through underground fractures.

In 2012 Robert Oswald, professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published with a coauthor, Veterinarian Michelle Bamberger, a peer-reviewed article that indicated a link between fracking and neurological, reproductive, and gastrointestinal problems of livestock exposed via air or water to toxic chemicals used in fracking.

Fracking, like deep sea drilling and all other dangerous exploitations of nature’s resources, produces large short-run profits for corporations at the expense of everyone else and the future. The cost of the polluted water, dead fish, infertile humans and animals, polluted soil and air, and the increase in diseases are all external costs imposed on third parties who have no stake in the ill-gotten profits.

Pennsylvania, possibly the most corrupt state in the US, has passed a law that prevents health care professionals from sharing information about the health care effects of fracking. “I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice,” says Dr. Helen Podgainy, pediatrician from Coraopolis, Pa.

In other words, as in Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love, in Amerika today a handful of rich control everything. Nothing else counts or matters. Oxfam, an international philanthropy organization, announced on January 18 that the world’s 100 richest people earned an average of $2.4 billion each in 2012. Imagine that! An annual income of $2,400 million, or a daily income of $6,575,000. Compared to this, one of the early billionaires back in the 1990s, Sir James Goldsmith, was a poor man.

Easter Island is a clear example of a civilization that destroyed itself by stripping its environment of its resources. Professor Diamond observes: “ Easter Island was as isolated in the Pacific Ocean as the Earth is in space. When the Easter Islanders got into difficulties there was no where to which they could flee, nor to which they could turn for help; nor shall we modern Earthlings have recourse elsewhere” if we destroy the natural capital of our planet. Indeed, Diamond asks, “if mere thousands of Easter Islanders with just stone tools and their own muscle power sufficed to destroy their environment and thereby their society, how can billions of people with metal tools and machine power now fail to do worse?” Diamond might have added that people producing toxic wastes that poison the air, water, and soil and armed with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are certain to destroy Earth, especially when almost every government is unaccountable.

On Easter Island trees were the major resource for the population. Trees provided food, housing, watershed that protected against soil erosion, compost, and the large canoes that allowed the inhabitants to leave the island and to fish offshore. What, Professor Diamond asks, was the ruler thinking when the last tree was cut down?

The answer perhaps is that the ruler was thinking of his own glory. How would his stone monument be rolled into place without the aid of the last tree? What counts, the ruler thought, is not that the Easter Island population survive, but that I have no less glory in my monuments than my predecessors. Thus, with the last tree felled, Easter Island’s death warrant was signed.

When the original colonists arrived in Australia, they made a mistaken inference and concluded bountiful harvests were in their reach. Alas, there is salinity under the soil and irrigation brings the salt to the surface where it destroys the crops.

Salinity brought to the surface by irrigation then runs off into the surface water. The Murray/Darling River accounts for about half of Australia’s agricultural production. But as the river flows downstream, more and more water is extracted. The river becomes progressively salty as its volume decreases and more released salt deposits run off into the river. Diamond reports that “in some years so much water is extracted that no water is left in the river to enter the ocean.”

Clearing the land of its native vegetation contributes to the release of salinity. Diamond writes that 90% of Australia’s original native vegetation has been cleared.

The problems with Australia’s soils and waters are profound, but don’t expect the government to take them into account. Capitalist enterprises can make short term profits by destroying the fragile soils and waters of Australia. The small population of Australia is all the country can support considering its fragile ecology.

This brings us to the rain forests of Brazil, the most extraordinary modern example of the wanton destruction of immense natural resources by the blind force of unregulated capitalist greed, a destructive force as dangerous as that of nuclear weapons.

In The Fate of the Forest, Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn take us through centuries of destruction of the most valuable forests on earth and the indigenous peoples that inhabited them. This book is an extraordinary learning experience and covers many centuries of man’s destruction of the Amazon rain forests, medicinal plants, waters, indigenous peoples, and animal, vegetable and insect species. Every development plan failed, whether originating in a Brazilian government, private capitalist such as Henry Ford and Daniel Ludwig, or international organization.

Briefly what happened is this. In order for outsiders to gain title to land inhabited by natives, rubber tappers, Brazil nut gatherers, and others who had use rights to the forests and knew how to exploit the forests without damaging them, the trees had to be felled, because titles were granted to cleared land.

Land speculators and cattle ranchers acquired vast land holdings by wiping out forests of mahogany, rubber, and Brazil nut trees along with the native inhabitants. The cleared land, deprived of its stewards and its nutrients, became compacted and infertile after a few years. Cattle farming is profitable for a short time before the soil is exhausted, but the-short term profits exist only because of government subsidies and because the external costs of the value of the forests that were destroyed in order to gain a land title are not counted in the cost of the cattle.

The Fate Of The Forest was published in 1990 by the prestigious University of Chicago Press. The information in the book goes to 1988. What has happened to the Amazon since I do not know. Hecht and Cockburn report that remnants of indigenous peoples, despite the murder of many of their leaders by the land barons who were never held accountable, succeeded in forcing the corrupt government of Brazil to establish “extractive reserves” that were supposed to protect the use rights of existing social organizations to the forests. The authors indicate as of their time of writing that the corrupt rich and well-connected were able to take advantage of the extractive reserves to continue their process of land theft. The same misuse is made of national parks. The indigenous inhabitants are moved off national park lands, but favored capitalists are given access to exploit the resources.

Irecommend this book to everyone. It shows conclusively without being didactic that unregulated capitalism is one of the greatest forces of destruction of peoples, animal and plant life, and the Earth’s ecology. The book shows that for short-term profit, capitalists are willing to destroy irreplaceable resources. Future profitability is not important to them.

And so we have GDP accounting that measures the Gross Domestic Product of countries without regard to the cost of polluted air, water, and soil, and without regard, for example, to the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico from oil spills and chemical fertilizer run-off from farming. We add to GDP the value of the fracked oil and gas, but do not subtract the value of the ruined water supply of peoples and the life in the streams.

When mining corporations blow off the tops of mountains, GDP counts the minerals extracted as an addition to value, but does not offset this value with the cost of the ruined scenery and environmental effects of destroyed mountains.

When fishermen dynamite coral reefs in order to maximize their fish catch, the value of the fish obtained by destroying the environment that produced the fish is not offset by the destruction of the coral environment that would have produced a future supply of fish. The dynamite purchase is counted as GDP, but the destroyed reef is not counted as an offsetting cost.

Ohio has experienced earthquakes from fracking. How severe will these become as the earth is fractured in the interest of short-term profit?

Heinlein recognized “Mankind The Destroyer” and depicts humans as destroyers first of their Galaxy and then of other Galaxies.

Will the real human race, as compared to Heinlein’s fictional one, have the possibility of escaping from a destroyed Earth to other planets? Or is the destruction of Earth’s ecology much closer in time than the ability of humans to colonize space?

Economists have responsibility for earthlings’ ignorance about their environmental dependence. Economics claims that man-made capital is a substitute for nature’s capital. As nature’s capital is depleted, reproducible man-made capital will take its place. This assumption is embodied in the production function that is the basis of modern economic theory. The assumption is absurd, because it assumes that finite resources can support infinite growth. Economists should begin their education with courses in physics.

The correct description of the production process is that natural resources are transformed into useful products and waste products by labor and man-made capital. Nature’s capital and man-made capital are complements, not substitutes. Nature’s capital is used up as resources are exploited to make useful products, and air, land, and water become polluted with the waste products from production. The capacity of the planet’s “waste sinks” is limited.

GDP accounting does not include the costs of environmental destruction as a cost of production. For example, the costs of the unexpected consequences of genetically modified crops are not included in the prices of the wheat, corn, and soybeans. In 2011 plant pathologist and soil microbiologist Don Huber described these costs to the US Secretary of Agriculture. Toxic effects on soil microorganisms have disrupted nature’s balance, resulting in an increase in plant diseases. Soil fertility, micronutrients, and the nutritional value of foods have all been harmed. Animal reproductive problems, weak immune response, and premature aging are linked to herbicide-resistant GMOs that have become animal feed.

According to ecological economist Herman Daly, if all the costs of production are included, the decrease in nature’s capital could outweigh the value of the increase in GDP. As Hecht and Cockburn make clear, this has certainly been the case in the exploitation of the Amazon. The output is worth far less than the resources that were ruined in order to produce it.

There is very little of the earth left that has not been ruined by humans. The little that is left is the Antarctic, the Arctic, and some parts of Alaska such as the wilderness above Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The Antarctic is protected by treaty largely because no major power has figured out how to claim it. However, Shell Oil Company, with Obama’s blessings, is now involved in offshore drilling in the Arctic, and a consortium of global mining corporations is lobbying Congress, the White House, and the Environmental Protection Agency for a green light for the Pebble Mine, an enormous open-pit mine to be placed in wilderness above Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Scientists have concluded that the mine will make a dead zone out of a huge area of spectacular scenery encompassing the largest remaining wild salmon runs, and the wildlife, native inhabitants, and commercial fisherman dependent on the fish.

EPA’s scientists have concluded that the Pebble Mine would be environmentally and economically devastating, but this is a weak argument in the face of the greed of a few powerful moneybags for more profit. Just as Easter Islanders cut down their last trees, Americans are set to destroy their last wilderness and its fish, wildlife, and water resources. The mining lobbyists call this ecological destruction “progress” and “jobs” but do not count as an offset the 14,000 jobs related to the salmon fishery that will be destroyed by the Pebble Mine or the dead waters, fish, and wildlife that their toxic process will certainly produce.

Robert Redford and the National Resources Defense Council have arrayed with the EPA scientists against the Pebble Mine. Will Washington listen to fact, or will homo sapiens yet again discard fact for temporary profit and take another step toward finishing off the planet’s life-sustaining capability?

Will the idiots who rule the earth destroy it before humans can escape to other planets?

From all evidence, the destruction of earth’s ecology has an immense head start on homo sapiens’ ability to colonize space.

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But, are we talking about African slavery? King James II and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African. The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves. This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry. In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

But, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?

Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

This is a list of names of innocent children killed by America’s drones

But behind each name there is the face of a child with a family history in a village in a far away country, with a mom and a dad, with brothers and sisters and friends.

Among the list, are infants of 1, 2, 3 and 4 years old.

In some cases brothers and sisters of an entire family are killed.

Four sisters of the Ali Mohammed Nasser family in Yemen were killed. Afrah was 9 years old when she and her three younger sisters Zayda (7 years old) , Hoda (5 years old) and Sheika (4 years old) were struck by an American drone.

Ibrahim, a 13 year old boy of the Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye family in Yemen was  struck by a US drone, together with his younger brother Asmaa (9 years old) and two younger sisters, Salma (4 years old) and Fatima (3 years old) 

These children are innocent.  They are not different from our own children.

Their lives were taken away at a very young age as part of a military agenda, which claims to be combating  “international terrorism”

 These drone attacks are extremely precise.  We are not dealing with “collateral damage”.

Drone operators have the ability of viewing from a computer screen their targets well in advance of a strike.

A family home is referred to as a “structure” or a “building” rather than a house. When they target a home with family members, they kill children. And they know that in advance of the drone strike:

“Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.

“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.

“Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.” (  The Woes of an American Drone Operator,, December 14, 2012)

These children were killed on the orders of the US President and Commander in Chief  Barack H. Obama.

The commander in chief sets the military agenda and authorizes these killings to proceed.

The killings were quite deliberate. They are categorized as “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Those who ordered these drone killings, including  the president of the United States, are war criminals under international law and must be indicted and prosecuted

It should be noted that the drone attacks on civilians have increased dramatically during the Obama presidency (see below).

Michel Chossudovsky, January 26, 2012

Pakistan strikes

The List of Names was compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004–2013

Total US strikes: 362
Obama strikes: 310
Total reported killed: 2,629-3,461
Civilians reported killed: 475-891
Children reported killed: 176
Total reported injured: 1,267-1,431

US Covert Action in Yemen 2002–2013

Total confirmed US operations (all): 54-64
Total confirmed US drone strikes: 42-52
Possible extra US operations: 135-157
Possible extra US drone strikes: 77-93
Total reported killed (all): 374-1,112
Total civilians killed (all): 72-177
Children killed (all): 27-37

US Covert Action in Somalia 2007–2013

Total US strikes: 10-23
Total US drone strikes: 3-9
Total reported killed: 58-170
Civilians reported killed: 11-57
Children reported killed: 1-3

Drone Infographics

Interactive map
Globe - Flickr / joelthomas

This map details the locations of CIA drone strikes in the remote Pakistani tribal areas.

 Partial List of Children Killed


Name | Age | Gender

Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male


Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19

Japan’s new Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has begun implementing an aggressive nationalist program on two fronts. An expansion of the military unshackled from constitutional restraints is being matched by a unilateralist monetary policy aimed at weakening the yen and expanding exports at the expense of Japan’s rivals.

Under intense pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced on Tuesday that it would expand its inflation target from 1 to 2 percent “at the earliest possible time” through an open-ended purchase of bonds and other assets—a policy in line with the US Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing.”

However, the central bank, which has been resistant to demands for monetary easing, put off bond purchases until January next year. Money markets responded accordingly. Having driven down the value of the yen by 12 percent against the US dollar since November on the expectation of Abe’s new monetary policy, the markets bid the value of the yen higher following the BoJ announcement.

Abe praised the central bank’s decision, saying that it represented “a step toward bold monetary easing.” This move will not be the last, however. Abe warned in the course of last month’s election campaign that he would, if need be, legislate to force the BoJ to carry out his monetary policy. Moreover, he has the opportunity to install a new BoJ governor when the term of the incumbent ends in March.

The BoJ decision immediately provoked warnings from Japan’s economic rivals that it could trigger a round of competitive devaluations—a “currency war.” Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said that if other countries followed suit, it would be “hard to be optimistic about how easy it will be to manage the resulting tensions.” Michael Meister, a senior member of Germany’s ruling party, warned that the decision could “create a spiral that hurts us all,” and indicated that Berlin might seek G20 support to pressure Japan to change course.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Japan’s economy minister, Akira Amari, hit back at concerns expressed by Jens Weidmann, the president of Germany’s Bundesbank, over “alarming infringements” of the BoJ’s independence. Rejecting the accusation, Akira declared: “Germany is the country whose exports have benefited most from the euro area’s fixed exchange rate system. He’s not in a position to criticise.”

The Abe government’s policies are being driven by the country’s worsening economic crisis. The protracted stagnation following the collapse of speculative property and share bubbles in the late 1980s is intersecting with the global economic breakdown that began with the 2008 financial crisis. Repeated attempts to boost growth through public works programs failed. The result is an unsustainable public debt, currently at 240 percent of gross domestic product—the highest level of any industrialised country.

One of the factors in Japan’s ability to weather the economic storm has been its large trade surpluses, but the trade balance turned sharply negative in past two years. In 2012, Japan experienced its largest-ever trade deficit. Exports plunged 5.8 percent overall and by 15.8 percent to China amid sharp tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Imports increased, particularly of energy, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the shutdown of nuclear power plants.

Japan’s inherent economic vulnerabilities are being exposed. As an island nation largely devoid of natural resources, Japanese capitalism has always been heavily dependent on export markets and access to cheap raw materials. The air of desperation surrounding the Abe government’s aggressive monetary policy and renewed economic stimulus measures echoes Japan’s response in the 1930s.

Hard hit by the Great Depression and a dramatic slump in exports, the Japanese government that assumed office in December 1931 ended the gold backing for the yen, greatly expanded public spending, especially on the military, and cut interest rates to stimulate business. The value of the yen plunged by 60 percent against the US dollar and 44 percent against the pound sterling.

Writing in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, business commentator Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described Abe’s policies as “a copy of what happened in the early 1930s under [Finance Minister] Korehiyo Takahashi, the first of his era to tear up the rule book and pull his country out of the Great Depression… Few dispute that Japan pioneered the world’s most successful [economic] experiment from 1932 to 1936. The trick was to hit hard and combine all forms of stimulus, each leavening the other.”

This so-called “success,” however, came at a terrible price. Takahashi’s policies were in line with the beggar-thy-neighbour agenda increasingly pursued by all the imperialist powers, which greatly heightened geo-political tensions. Moreover, Japan’s economic program was accompanied by police-state repression against the working class at home and military aggression abroad to open up markets and access to raw materials. Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and China in 1937 set the stage for the eruption the Pacific War in 1941, with devastating consequences for the working class.

Today, the right-wing Abe government is pursuing a similarly perilous mixture of nationalist economic policies and militarism—and it is not alone. The Obama administration’s resort to unlimited quantitative easing and its aggressive “pivot to Asia” to contain China have encouraged Abe to fire his own shot in the developing international currency wars, as well as to remilitarise Japan. After a decade of US-led neo-colonial wars in the Middle East and an emerging scramble for Africa, the Japanese ruling class is drawing the conclusion that a strong military is necessary to prosecute their economic and strategic interests.

This slide towards an even more devastating global war is being accompanied by the whipping up of poisonous nationalism in every country. The only social force that can prevent war is the international working class through a unified struggle to abolish the profit system and its division of the globe into rival nation states, and establish a worldwide planned socialist economy to meet the social needs of humanity as a whole.

In direct reaction to Israel provoking the Al Aqsa Intifada, on October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people, some of whom are Christians, but most of whom are Muslims.[i]

This Special Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted the Resolution set forth in U.N. Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. 1, “Condemning the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Shariff on 28 September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader, which triggered the tragic events that followed in occupied East Jerusalem and the other occupied Palestinian territories, resulting in a high number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians.” The U.N. Human Rights Commission said it was “[g]ravely concerned” about several different types of atrocities inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian people, which it denominated “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.”

In operative paragraph 1 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission then:

“Strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians…including many children, in the occupied territories, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity;…”

And in paragraph 5 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission:

“Also affirms that the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life and also constitutes a crime against humanity;…”

Article 68 of the United Nations Charter had expressly required the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council to “set up” this U.N. Commission (now Council) “for the promotion of human rights.” This was its U.N.-Charter-mandated job.

The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s criminal paramilitary terrorist settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.

Let us address for a moment Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people:

Crimes against humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The paradigmatic example of “crimes against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of “crimes against humanity” originally came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission (now Council) determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity.

Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.

Furthermore, the Nuremberg “crimes against humanity” are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people was so horrific that it required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of “crimes against humanity.” And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even intensifying against the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza as this book goes to press.

As Pappe’s analysis established, Zionism’s “final solution” to Israel’s much-touted and racist “demographic threat” allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide, whether slow-motion or in blood-thirsty spurts of violence. Indeed, the very essence of Zionism requires ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide against the Palestinians. In regard to the latest 2008-2009 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza – so-called Operation Cast-lead — U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua during the Reagan administration’s contra-terror war of aggression against that country, condemned it as “genocide.”[ii]

Certainly, Israel and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have committed genocide against the Palestinian people that actually started on or about 1948 and has continued apace until today in violation of Genocide Convention Articles II(a), (b), and (c). For over the past six decades, the Israeli government and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have ruthlessly implemented a systematic and comprehensive military, political, and economic campaign with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, racial, and different religious (Jews versus Muslims and Christians) group constituting the Palestinian people.

This Zionist/Israeli campaign has consisted of killing members of the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(a). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(b). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also deliberately inflicted on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in substantial part in violation of Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.

Article I of the Genocide Convention requires all contracting parties such as the United States “to prevent and to punish” genocide. Yet to the contrary, historically the “Jewish” state’s criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied and politically supported by the nominally “Christian” United States. Although the United States is a founding sponsor of, and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter, these legal facts have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its blank-check support for Zionist Israel and their joint and severable criminal mistreatment of the Palestinians—truly the wretched of the earth!

The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States and its N.A.T.O. allies in favor of R2P/humanitarian intervention against Zionist Israel in order to protect the Palestinian people, let alone a “responsibility to protect” the Palestinians from Zionist/Israeli genocide. The United States, its N.A.T.O. allies, and the Great Powers on the U.N. Security Council would not even dispatch a U.N. Charter Chapter 6 monitoring force to help “protect” the Palestinians, let alone even contemplate any type of U.N. Charter Chapter 7 enforcement actions against Zionist Israel – which are actually two valid international legal options for R2P/humanitarian intervention! The doctrine of “humanitarian intervention” and its current “responsibility to protect” transmogrification so readily espoused elsewhere when U.S. foreign policy interests are allegedly at stake have been clearly proven to be a sick joke and a demented fraud when it comes to stopping the ongoing and accelerating Zionist/Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.

Rather than rein in the Zionist Israelis—which would be possible just by turning off the funding pipeline—the United States government, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. media, and U.S. taxpayers instead support the “Jewish” state to the tune of about 4 billion dollars per year, without whose munificence this instance of genocide – and indeed conceivably the State of Israel itself – would not be possible. Without the United States, Israel is nothing more than a typical “failed state.” In today’s world genocide is permissible so long as it is done at the behest of the United States and its de jure allies in N.A.T.O. or its de facto allies such as Israel.

I anticipate no fundamental change in America’s support for the Zionist/Israeli ongoing campaign of genocide against the Palestinians during the tenure of the Obama administration and its near-term successors, whether neoliberal Democrats or neoconservative Republicans. Tweedledum versus Tweedledee.

What the world witnesses here is (yet another) case of bipartisan “dishumanitarian intervention” or “humanitarian extermination” by the United States and Israel with the support of the N.A.T.O. states, against the Palestinians and Palestine. While at the exact same time these white racist cowards and hypocrites preach R2P/humanitarian intervention in order to subjugate Libya, now Syria, and perhaps someday soon Iran.

As Machiavelli so astutely advised The Prince in Chapter XVIII of that book:

“…one who deceives will always find one who will allow himself to be deceived.”[iii]

On these dissentient points, this law professor rests his case against the doctrines of “humanitarian intervention” and its imperialist transformation into the demagogic “responsibility to protect.”

The party line is that Obama’s new pick for SEC boss – Mary Jo White – will be tough on Wall Street.

For example, the Wall Street Journal writes:

Obama Taps Ex-Prosecutor Mary Jo White, Portending Increased Policing of Wall Street

In reality, this is putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

White used to represent Morgan Stanley, and blocked an insider investigation into Morgan Stanley boss John Mack.

The truth is that all of Obama’s appointments have been in bed with the big banks … and none of them have “gotten tough” on Wall Street once they were appointed:

In other words, Obama – like Bush – has let Wall Street get away with crime because he has appointed government officials who are in bed with Wall Street.

The SEC has been shredding documents around the clock to cover up Wall Street fraud. Senior SEC employees spent up to 8 hours a day surfing porn sites instead of cracking down on financial crimes (the same thing happens at Treasury and other government agencies.)

Nothing will change under Mary Jo White.

While some die-hard Obama supporters hoped that things would change in his second term, or that Obama was naively believing the advice of bad advisers, former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson noted in 2009 that Obama knows exactly what he’s doing:

Many people assume that Obama doesn’t understand that his economic team – Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, Gensler and the boys – are preserving the status quo, and failing to make the fundamental reforms needed to stabilize the economy.

They assume that the economy is a mysterious subject for experts, and that Obama innocently thinks his team is doing good for the American people.

But professor of economics and former chief IMF economist Simon Johnson isn’t buying it.

As Johnson and James Kwak write today in the Washington Post:

During the reign of Louis XIV, when the common people complained of some oppressive government policy, they would say, “If only the king knew . . . .” Occasionally people will make similar statements about Barack Obama, blaming the policies they don’t like on his lieutenants.

But Barack Obama, like Louis XIV before him, knows exactly what is going on.

Indeed, Obama was bought and paid for many years ago, and he has pimped out the American people ever since.

On November 22, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published an alarming piece of news entitled “Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age”. The “cyber-warriors” who are headed for organizations such as the CIA, NSC, FBI, the Pentagon and so on, are trained to stalk, “rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device on cars and plant false information on Facebook [emphasis added]. They also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives.”

Not surprisingly, less than a month later, it was rumored that Iran ’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei had started a Facebook page. The style and content of the site ruled out its authenticity, but the State Department was amused. In spite of the potential for alarm, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland jokingly expressed Washington ’s curiosity to see how many “likes’ Khamenei would receive. This is no joking matter. Any message on this page would be attributed to Khamenei with a potential for dangerous ramifications.

Barely a month later, on January 24, 2013, Guardian’s blaring headlines exposed fake blogs and Facebook pages made for BBC Persian’s Iranian journalists with claims that these were made in order to harass, intimidate, and discredit the journalists. These fake blogs, according to The Guardian charges, are not by the American Cyber Corps warriors, but are alleged to be the creation of the Iranian ‘Islamic cyber-activists’ in “what appears [emphasis added] to be an operation sponsored by the authorities”.

While truth is the first casualty of war, journalists are also fair game thanks — in large part owing to the provisions of the Information Operations Road Map of 2003 (signed by the then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and pursued by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta). As part of the plan, “public affairs officers brief journalists”. In 2005 it came to light that the Pentagon paid the Lincoln Group (a private company) to plant ‘hundreds of stories’ in Iraqi papers in support of U.S. Policies. The plan also called for “a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, “miniaturized, scatterable public address systems”, wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet. “

In light of such wide spread propaganda, deception and digital warfare by the Pentagon, and with the recent Los Angeles Times revelations of the Cyber Corps training, truth has become indistinguishable from falsehood and thus accepting or rejecting the authenticity of allegations by the Guardian becomes subjective, in spite of the reality of the victimhood of BBC journalists (ditto Radio Farda, VOA) whose reporting is not welcomed in Iran.

The broadcast of BBC Persian into Iran is problematic. Leaving aside the illegality of it (see article), BBC Persian which was launched in early 2009, receives significant funding from the United States . To many Iranians, no doubt including the Iranian government, BBC’s role was (and continues to be) a dark reminder of its past role in destroying Iran’s democracy in 1953 when, by its own admission, the BBC spearheaded Britain’s propaganda and broadcast the code which sparked the coup and the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh.

As if in a reenactment, the role of BBC Persian in the 2009 post-election unrest was significant. Claiming that BBC Persian Services was basing its reporting on “citizen journalists” and on the receiving end of “eight user generated communications per minute”, their own report indicates that some of the reporting was impossible to verify. Unlike BBC Persian (and VOA, Radio Farda, etc.), Wired Magazine did its homework fully. In its report aptly titled “Iran: Before You Have That Twitter-Gasm…” , it revealed that the “ U.S. media is projecting its own image of Iran into what is going here on the ground.” BBC Persian, true to its track record, and thanks to State Department funding, had a desire to trumpet in a new era in Iran ’s history – A historical change planned from without, with help from within. Unlike 1953, it failed.

Once again, with the Iranian elections on the horizon, indications are that the recent elections in the United States and Israel will not produce a break-through in the US-Iran relations, or the foreign policy agenda of the United States toward Iran — warfare by other means, including propaganda. Cognizant of this fact, either the Iranian government is bracing itself for a propaganda war by discrediting sites with a potential to propagate misinformation, which may explain duplicating the BBC (admittedly, a clever move), or, the American Cyber Corps has outdone itself with the ability to point the finger at Iran.

Either way, in launching its cyber warfare, the United States has crossed the Rubicon. Cyber warfare, much like germ warfare, is dangerous, relentless, and without boundaries. The casualties of such warfare will continue to rise – unstoppable.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups.

 According to investigative journalist Silvia Cattori, the barbaric bombing of Aleppo University on January 15 has been officially claimed by the terrorist group the Al Nusra Front. This confirmation should not come as a surprise to those who have been following closely events in the Levant since March 17, 2011, when unknown snipers opened fire in the Southern Syrian town of Deraa killing several policemen and innocent protestors.

Since then, snipers and jihadist death squads from Libya, Chechnya, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and even France and the UK inter alia, backed by Nato intelligence and Gulf petro-monarch cash, have waged a genocidal non-conventional war upon the Syrian people which has relied heavily on a sophisticated international disinformation campaign in the corporate controlled press, whereby all crimes committed by the terrorists are systematically blamed on the Syrian government.

Eighty-two students in Aleppo University were murdered on Tuesday January 15 from a missile launched by the Western media’s beloved “rebels”: these gangs of convicts, drug-smugglers, rapists, child abusers, and common thugs presented to the gullible Western public as “revolutionaries.”

Since 2011, over 2000 schools and educational centres in Syria have been destroyed by the Western-backed jihadists, who are attempting to annihilate the Syrian state in order to construct a “New Middle East” that accords with Nato and Gulf state geopolitical objectives. When will this nightmare of terrorism end?

Meanwhile, there was an icy silence in Paris, London, and Washington, not a word of condemnation after last week’s Aleppo atrocity.

Unlike the Houla Massacre last year, committed by the rebels but blamed on the Syrian government, there were no calls from Paris, London and Washington for an international investigation after the Aleppo bombing. Everybody knows who the perpetrators are. So there is silence. Cowards hide. Cowards prey on the weak and defenseless. Cowards dissemble and use cover for their actions. The Western military-intelligence establishment are despicable cowards. They hide behind pompous newspeak about human rights and democracy while committing the most heinous crimes known to man. They bomb other countries while pushing buttons in computers, thousands of miles from the action. They send in drugged psychopaths to kill, rob and destroy the people of countries who get in their way.

The callous silence of the Western governments at the massacre in Aleppo contrasted sharply with the strong and unequivocal condemnations that came from Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, and China. The emerging powers in the world are bearing witness to the self-destruction of Western civilization through an excess of hubris, greed and megalomania.

There are no words in any language to describe the atrocities NATO‘s contras are committing against the people of Syria. But the world is looking on in horror and outrage. Large parts of Latin America know what is going on. Large parts of Asia and Russia too, know who is behind the violence in Syria. The truth will out in time. The balance of power in the world is shifting and sooner or later, the criminals behind these neo-colonial wars and their vast network of collaborators will be brought to justice. There are signs that Jordan may realign itself with Iraq, Iran, and Syria after signing new energy deals with Iraq on January. This could be fatal for the terrorists in Western Syria, as Jordan has hitherto been used as a base for the terror campaign. The Syrian state is strong enough to survive. The spirit of the Syrian people is indomitable. The illusions of the Arab Spring have faded. No one can argue now that the Arab Spring was about democracy and human rights. The Muslim Brotherhood have taken power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya with Western support. No one can pretend any more that the conflict in Syria is about democracy.

The French military-industrial-media complex is currently buzzing with orgiastic delight as French troops re-conquer mineral and gas-rich Mali, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, while French Special Forces train and facilitate Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists in Syria — a geopolitical theatre of the absurd worthy of Ionescu!

France is one of the most culturally and politically literate civilizations in the world, and has a long and militant left-wing tradition. Yet, the only cause that rallies the official “left-wing” intelligentsia in Paris today is gay marriage. The French “left” are due to march on the streets of Paris soon in support of a new law permitting gay marriage. The French government bombed and destroyed two African countries in 2011. France is engaged in an endless colonial war in Afghanistan, while the “patrie de droits de l’homme” has been conducting a covert war in Syria since last year and is now attempting to bomb its way back into Mali with a view to destroying Algeria. Uranium-rich Niger will be next. In short, neo-colonial aggression by the French government has led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people and has ruined the lives of millions of others; it is complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity and is leading us closer to world war, yet the French “left “are only concerned about gay marriage rights! Furthermore, domestic repression in France is on the increase with more and more troops being brought out onto the streets of Paris to “protect” the population from potential “Islamists” the French government’s Gulf friends are financing, while France’s African and Magreb immigrant minorities are constantly stopped and harassed for no reason by the police. But who cares, as long as homosexuals can marry!

On a more positive note, there are some encouraging signs of increasing political dissent emanating from the more moderate officials of French imperialism. It would appear that the US strategy of chaos, the nihilistic policy of supporting Islamic terrorists in order to destroy one state while claiming to fight them in another is becoming impossible to ignore. Former French foreign minister Dominique De Villepin told radio France Inter on January 18 that the cause of the destabilisation in Mali was Nato’s war on Libya in 2011. De Villepin conceded that Libya is now overrun by jihadist militia.

Responding to a question from a caller concerning Qatar’s role in funding Islamist groups, De Villepin seemed to indicate that it was possible that “certain Gulf states” were financing Islamist extremist groups in Mali and Syria. It is unfortunately impossible to reproduce De Vilepin’s exact response to the question concerning Qatar’s role in Syria and Mali as France Inter edited this from their podcast version. They also edited out De Villepin’s highly significant suggestion that France should enter into negotiations with Russia in an effort to resolve the geopolitical impasse in Syria. In short, the three most important contributions by the former French foreign minister were edited out by the war propagandists running France’s state radio. In these strange, belligerent times even the voices of moderate imperialism are anathema to the roaring dogs of war.

Qatar’s financing of Islamist terror in Mali, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere and the incestuous relationship between the absolutist Gulf emirate and the Quai d’Orsay is now no secret to the more informed sections of the French public. Marine Le Pen, president of France’s far right party Front National told France Info on January 18: “I would like to point out an incoherence here. We are allies of Qatar, a country which is arming terrorists all over the world.” As I pointed out in previous articles, the absence of a genuine, anti-imperialist Left is opening the door to far right opportunism. Marine Le Pen is a clever operator. She understands that a significant portion of the French public are baffled by Quai d’Orsay’s love affair with the Gulf despots. Le Pen alludes to this but does not explain the real reasons for this relationship. The real reasons for the French elite’s love affair with gulf despotism has to do with the convergence of class interests. The Gulf despots support neo-liberal capitalism.

They are authoritarian and neo-feudal. There is nothing Western capitalists love more than authoritarian regimes who comply with western economic interests and crush all dissent. For example, Qatari poet Mohammed Al-Ajami was imprisoned for life recently for the crime of criticizing the Emir of Qatar.

The Far Right will never explain the class basis for the West’s alliance with Wahhabite terrorism. That is because the Far Right represents the same class as their “moderate” Right and “Centre” Left opponents. Therefore, Le Pen will use her access to mainstream media to hoodwink disaffected French citizens into supporting her candidacy for the next presidential election. By then, the chaos wrought by Hollande’s government in the Middle East and throughout Africa will set the stage for Le Pen’s fascist programme to “restore order.” Once in power, the true nature of the Front National’s tyranny will be unleashed on what is left of genuine left-wing opponents in France.

As in the 1930s, a weak “social democracy” paves the way for the ascendance of the Far Right. Only this time there is no communist party to fight them.

Instead there are farcical characters such as Jean-Luc Mélanchon, leader of the “left-wing” coalition known as Front de Gauche. Mélanchon also spoke to France Inter on January 18, where he simple expressed reserve at the legitimacy of the French intervention. However, when asked if he agreed with ultra-conservative Gisgard d’Estaing’s comment that the French intervention was “neo-colonialism,” Mélanchon said he would not use such terms. One should not forget that Mélanchon supported France’s bombing of the Libyan people in 2011 and also supports France’s covert war on Syria. Yet, this is a man who claims to be “left-wing” and an admirer of genuine anti-imperialist leaders such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela! Cherchez l’erreur!

This is not the first time Qatar’s funding of Islamic terrorism has been admitted by the mainstream French media. The widely read satirical journal Le Canard Enchainé published an article in June 2012 confirming the fact long exposed by the alternative media that France’s closest “partner” in the Middle East was in fact a state-sponsor of Islamist terrorism. Alain Chouet, the former chef de service of the French intelligence agency has also confirmed the role of Qatar in financing Islamic terrorism in Syria and Mali. It is now becoming impossible to ignore the horrible reality behind France’s foreign wars, as more and more officials and mainstream journalists are exposing the French government’s complicity in terrorism. Using the Special Forces and terrorist groups of the petro-monarchies to destabilize resource rich nations and attain geo-political objectives; only fools and simpletons could fail to see the devastating reality of this insane quest for global hegemony.

After the repression of the Paris Commune in 1871, the reactionary French government of Adolphe Thiers promoted the Catholic religion in education as a means of deflecting the desires of the French working class away for social justice towards piety and obedience to the bourgeois state. A similar policy was adopted in Ireland by the British imperial state after the failure of the Young Irelander uprising of 1848. Catholic seminaries proliferated and Irish workers were told to put up with their fate in this life in order to secure deliverance in the next. This is the current policy of many European governments, who are allowing the feudal monarchies of the Gulf to take control of their Muslim populated, proletarian suburbs. Thus Qatar is now the chief foreign investor in France’s poor suburbs where young, ignorant Muslims are indoctrinated in neo-feudalist obscurantism, thereby deflecting them from the path of class struggle and social liberation.

The absurdity of current French foreign policy becomes glaringly apparent when one considers the fact that secular, Baathist Syria, more than any other country in the Middle East, has deep cultural ties with France. Until last year, French tourists flocked to Syria’s hundreds of breath-taking historical and archeological sites. The Syrian government has always been a keen promoter of French culture. Syria is one of the few Arab countries where books by atheist authors are widely read. Secularism is as fundamental to modern Syria as it is to France.

In this sense, Bachar Al-Assad’s Syria is ironically the most pro-Western country in the Middle East and France could have no greater ally against Islamist terrorism than the Syrian Arab Republic, yet Paris backs the Islamists! Both the Syrian president and the Syrian UN Ambassador Dr. Bashar Ja’afari speak French. In spite of this, Dr. Ja’afari has never been invited to speak on French TV or radio. Not once has the Syrian government been allowed to present its side of the story to the French public. Paris’s corrupt elites are only interested in talking to the semi-literate thugs of the Gulf States who keep their own people in ignorance, while promoting the most barbaric form of anti-Islam around the world. After all, the state of bondage which subjects of these countries experience represents a model society for the degenerate transatlantic oligarchs.

Notwithstanding the efforts of some of France’s most authoritative Arabists such as world-renowned Franco-Syrian scholar Bassam Tahhan to inform the French public about the true nature of events in Syria, the French ruling elite continues to mask its crimes in palid pronouncements on human rights and democracy. Blogger Alain Jules puts it eloquently when he writes:

Storm and fury lurk behind a kneaded facade of goodness. The permanent refusal to shake hands, the dictat, the violence and the perpetual, morbid and mortifying logos.

Describing the French political scene in Paris during the 1930’s, Micheal Jabara Carley writes: “This was the “Republic of Pals” where “rigorously honest men were on good terms with fairly honest men who were on good terms with shady men who were on good terms with despicable crooks.”(1)

Despicable crooks are still running this world and as Malcolm X understood too well, their media servants in all languages work over time to make us love the crooks and hate their victims.

Gearóid Ó Colmáin was born in Cork, Ireland, and is currently based in Paris. He is a former bilingual columnist with Metro Eireann. His interests include geopolitcs, globalisation, philosophy and the arts. He is a member of Pôle de renaissance communiste en France (PRCF) a political movement which advocates Marxism-Leninism and the formation of a revolutionary communist party in France

  1. Carley, Micheal Jabara, 1939: The Alliance That Never Was And the Coming of World War II, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999) p.15.

On January 24, Obama nominated Mary Jo White as SEC head. “You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo,” he said.

The Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 followed the Securities Act of 1933. Under the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, it required offers and security sales to be registered. State “blue sky laws” previously governed them.

The 1934 law regulated secondary trading of financial securities. It established the SEC under Section 4 to enforce the new act.

Later came the 1939 Trust Indenture Act, the 1940 Investment Company Act, the same year Investment Advisors Act, Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002, the 2006 Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, and Dodd-Frank in 2010.

SEC regulators long ago abandoned their mandate. The agency was established to enforce federal securities laws, the security industry, the nation’s financial and options exchanges, and other electronic securities markets and instruments.

In the 1930s, they were unknown. They include derivatives and other forms of speculation. In principle, SEC is charged with uncovering wrongdoing, assuring investors aren’t swindled, and keeping the nation’s financial markets free from fraud and other abuses.

For decades, it’s been weak-kneed. Under George Bush, it was more facilitator than enforcer. It’s a paper tiger. It abandoned the public trust. It operates the same way under Obama. It

  • turns a blind eye to fraud and abuse;
  • protects Wall Street, not investors;
  • neutered its enforcement staff’s authority;
  • adopted voluntary regulation; and
  • lets investment banks hold less reserve capital, as well as freely use leverage speculatively.

Wall Street gets a free hand. Major banks take full advantage. At most, they get occasional wrist slaps. Fines imposed are pocket change. Prosecutions don’t follow. Mega-crooks are free to keep stealing. They take full advantage.

Mary Schapiro was SEC head from January 2009 – December 2012. She’s a consummate insider. She spent years promoting self-regulation.

She formerly headed the National Association of Securities Dealers’ (NASD). She ran the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Her expertise includes quashing fraud investigations.

She took full advantage in subordinate SEC positions under Reagan, Bush I and II. She did the same for Obama as agency head.

The Wall Street Journal noticed. It said her regulatory record showed she “infrequently pursued tough action against big Wall Street firms.”

Expect Mary Jo White to operate the same way. She’s a consummate insider. She’s considered safe. Why else would Obama choose her? He’s beholden to Wall Street. Money power owns him.

On January 24, a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “Political Regulators.” It commented on White’s appointment.

She “stood up to terrorists and mobsters.” Can she “do the same for Wall Street?”

“(W)e remember cases when she wasn’t so tough.” The 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign-finance scandal was one of many.

She asked Congress to “back off its probe of the AFL-CIO’s Rich Trumka.” At issue was compromising her own investigation, she said. It was more whitewash than scrutiny of wrongdoing.

White targeted small players. “None of this bodes well” going forward, said the Journal.

“The media’s Obama Protection Club may consider us rude for bringing all this up, but then a little scrutiny might make Ms. White more likely to resist Democrat pressure for politicized law enforcement.”

White is Wall Street’s new enabler-in-chief designee. She’s the first former prosecutor to head SEC. As US attorney for the Southern District of New York, she prosecuted alleged terrorists and crime bosses. She got Mafia boss John Gotti convicted of murder and racketeering.

Occasionally she targeted small Wall Street players. She didn’t lay a glove on big ones. She’s a former Nasdaq director.

She currently heads Debevoise & Plimpton’s litigation department. It’s a New York-based international law firm. It serves corporate clients. Its Wall Street ones include a rogue’s gallery of white collar crooks.

JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS and Bank of America among others are represented.

White defended B of A’s former head, Ken Lewis. Until stepping down in September 2009, he was Bank of America chairman, president and CEO. He reflects the worst of Wall Street crooks. He’s got lots of company.

White’s husband, John White, represents an obvious conflict of interest. He formerly headed SEC’s corporate finance section. He’s now at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. It’s a prominent New York law firm. White lobbies against regulation.

It hardly matters. Getting tough on crime isn’t Mary Jo’s mandate. Too big to fail means too big to jail.

Expect no change on White’s watch.

Expect business as usual at SEC. As top regulatory cop, she’ll take full advantage. Her predecessors did the same. Whitewashing crime in the suites pays. Lucrative private sector jobs follow government service.

White will be better than ever rewarded when she leaves. She knows the game and plays it. She did it before. She’ll do it again. Career prospects depend on it.

Matt Taibbi addressed what goes on. He headlined his Rolling Stone article “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?”

Corporate bosses aren’t prosecuted. “Nobody goes to jail.” Nobody except occasional minor players. “(F)ederal regulators and prosecutors (let) banks and finance companies” get off easy.

Whitewash is policy. A “mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, (it’s become) a highly effective mechanism for protecting” them.

Taibbi quoted former SEC chief accountant Lynn Turner saying:

“I think you’ve got a wrong assumption – that we even have a law enforcement agency when it comes to Wall Street.”

Open and shut cases are whitewashed. Others are placed in a “deal with later” file. Later never arrives. The most high-profile cases get “gummed up in the works, and high-ranking executives” get off scot-free.

It’s standard practice for Wall Street. The Street’s biggest crooks aren’t touched. They’re free to steal again. Crime pays. Regulators cash in.

“The Revolving Door isn’t just a footnote in financial law enforcement,” said Taibbi. “Over the past decade, more than a dozen high-ranking SEC officials (took) lucrative jobs at Wall Street banks or white-shoe law firms.”

Partnerships are worth millions. Banks pay top executives multiples more. “All of this paints a disturbing picture.” It reflects a “closed corrupt system.”

Powerful interests get their way. Obama’s no different from Bush and earlier presidents. He allocated “massive amounts of federal resources” going after the wrong people.

“So there you have it. (Undocumented) immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: one. Bankers: zero. The math makes sense because the politics are obvious.”

Winning elections and profiteering out of office depend on “bang(ing) on the jailable class.” Innocent people fill prisons. Others committed misdemeanors too minor to matter.

Steal “a billion” and stay free to steal more. It’s the American way. White’s job is seeing nothing changes. Accounting Today warned us, saying:

In February 2012, she addressed a New York University School of Law forum. Prosecutors must not “fail to distinguish what is actually criminal and what is just mistaken behavior, what is even reckless risk-taking, and not bow to the frenzy,” she said.

At Debevoise & Plimpton, she represented some of Wall Street’s worst. She’ll do likewise at SEC. She’s part of the system. She’s safe. She won’t disappoint.

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

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

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


The UN inquiry into the use of armed drones for targeted killing, announced yesterday by London-based UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, is very much to be welcomed.

Undertaken at the direct request of several states, the inquiry is also in response to what Mr Emmerson called “the increasing international concern surrounding the issue of remote targeted killing through the use of UAVs.”


In a statement Ben Emmerson said

”The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of established international law and it is both right as a matter of principle, and inevitable as a matter of political reality, that the international community should now be focussing attention on the standards applicable to this technological development, particularly its deployment in counterterrorism and counter-insurgency initiatives, and attempt to reach a consensus on the legality of its use, and the standards and safeguards which should apply to it.

The inquiry will examine 25 case studies of drone strikes that have taken place in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Palestine in order to:

”look at the evidence that drone strikes and other forms of remote targeted killing have caused disproportionate civilian casualties in some instances, and to make recommendations concerning the duty of States to conduct thorough independent and impartial investigations to such allegations such allegations, with a view to securing accountability and reparation where things can be shown to have gone badly wrong with potentially grave consequences for civilians.”

This inquiry then is very much to be welcomed and will hopefully make an important contribution to our understanding of the use of armed drones.

However the inquiry will make a real impact if it also addresses some of the wider questions about the growing use of drones, questions that go beyond the issue of targeted killing. As we have written before targeted killing, while being an extremely serious issue, is only part of the problem. The wider problem is that armed unmanned drones lower the political cost of military intervention as a whole and make it far too easy for political leaders to choose the lethal, military solution rather than a political or diplomatic option.

While Mr Emmerson as UN Special Rapporteur has a mandate to look at human rights issues, the wider political and global security implications of the growing use of armed drones are also hugely important. And , it is perhaps important to point out, they too have a bearing on the human rights of those caught up in the so-called ‘risk free’ warfare.

There are signs that Mr Emmerson understands these wider issues. In his statement he said

Given the relative ease with which this technology can be deployed, and given its relatively low cost (both in economic terms, and in terms of risk to the lives of service personnel of the states deploying the technology) the issue now has to be confronted squarely by the international community… [T]hese legal questions are not confined to the use of drones… but it is the use of drones which has propelled this issue to the top of the international agenda because they can and have been used with such apparent ease and frequency to devastating effect…”

Also in his interview on the BBC programme The World at One, Mr Emmerson also added that

“the real issue is that the frequency and ease with which they [drones] can be resorted to carries with it the risk that there may be an unacceptable high level of risk of civilian casualties given that the technology is deploy in densely populated civilian areas”

No doubt Mr Emmerson and his team will be under great pressure to limit the scope of the inquiry and to take a narrow definition of the human rights implications of drone strikes and look simply at whether particular strikes ‘have gone wrong’.

If that is the case this will be a missed opportunity.

The implication of the growing use – and proliferation – of armed drones for global security as well as their impact on human rights is very severe. Mr Emmerson and his team have a huge responsibility to get this right.


Excerpts from:

Equality at the front line: Pentagon is set to lift ban on women in combat roles

by Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker,

New York Times, 25 January 2013

[U.S.] Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military’s official ban on women [soldiers] in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said Wednesday.

The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan; according to the Pentagon, hundreds of thousands of women have deployed in those conflicts. As of last year, more than 800 women [soldiers] had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died.  […]The decision clearly fits into the broad and ambitious liberal agenda, especially around matters of equal opportunity, that President Obama laid out this week in his Inaugural Address.


New York Times, 24 January 2013


Excerpts from:  

Women troops on march towards frontline combat

Armed forces set to follow US example by 2017

by Deborah Haynes, The Times, 25 January 2013

Women in the British military are likely to be allowed to serve in combat units after a ground-breaking decision by the United States to lift a ban on frontline female fighters.

Britain must review its policy of preventing female soldiers from applying for certain jobs within four years.  […]Jim Murphy, the [Labour Party’s] Shadow Defence Secretary  (*) , urged the [Conservative Party] Government to review Britain’s ban on women participating in the sharpest end of warfare.  […]“We in Britain must maximise everyone’s talent and courage for our military and so should look again at UK policy” [said Mr Murphy.]Women soldiers, sailors and aircrew already undertake a wide range of tasks that put them in the line of fire, including as medics, intelligence officers and fighter pilots. They will also soon serve on submarines.

The Times, 25 January 2013

Related Independent Media Articles:

Obama’s inauguration, rhetoric versus reality. “I the people still believe in war”

What does this new ‘liberal vision’ actually mean?

by Richard Becker,

Global Research, 23 January 2013

Inaugural hypocrisy

by Stephen Lendman,

Steve Lendman Blog, 23 January 2013

UK tabloid: First British woman soldier to kill an enemy fighter

by Cem Ertür,

Indybay, 10 December 2011

by Chris Woods and Alice K Ross

A UN investigation into the legality and casualties of drone strikes has been formally launched, with a leading human rights lawyer revealing the team that will carry out the inquiry.

The announcement came as the latest reported US drone strike in Yemen was said to have mistakenly killed two children.

Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, told a London press conference that he will lead a group of international specialists who will examine CIA and Pentagon covert drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Emmerson press conference - copyright Bureau of Investigative Journalism 2013

Ben Emmerson QC addresses reporters in London (Photo: TBIJ)

The team will also look at drone strikes by US and UK forces in Afghanistan, and by Israel in the Occupied Territories. In total some 25 strikes are expected to be examined in detail.

The senior British barrister will work alongside international criminal lawyers, a senior Pakistani judge and one of the UK’s leading forensic pathologists, as well as experts from Pakistan and Yemen. Also joining the team is a serving judge-advocate with the US military ‘who is assisting the inquiry in his personal capacity.’

Emmerson told reporters: ’Those states using this technology and those on whose territory it is used are under an international law obligation to establish effective independent and impartial investigations into any drone attack in which it is plausibly alleged that civilian casualties were sustained.’

But in the absence of such investigations by the US and others, the UN would carry out investigations ‘in the final resort’, he said.

Related story - UN team to investigate civilian drone deaths

Early signs indicate Emmerson’s team may have assistance from relevant states. He told journalists that Britain’s Ministry of Defence was already co-operating, and that Susan Rice, the US’s ambassador to the United Nations, had indicated that Washington ‘has not ruled out full co-operation.’

Those states using this technology and those on whose territory it is used are under an international law obligation to establish effective independent and impartial investigations into any drone attack in which it is plausibly alleged that civilian casualties were sustained.’
Ben Emmerson QC

The UN Human Rights Council last year asked its special rapporteurs to begin an investigation after a group of nations including Russia, China and Pakistan requested action on covert drone strikes. Emmerson told the Bureau: ‘It’s a response to the fact that there’s international concern rising exponentially, surrounding the issue of remote targeted killings through the use of unmanned vehicles.’

Related story - Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals

Emmerson said he expects to make recommendations to the UN general assembly by this autumn. His team will also call for further UN action ‘if that proves to be justified by the findings of my inquiry’.

He added: ‘This is not of course a substitute for effective official independent investigations by the states concerned.’

One area the inquiry is expected to examine is the deliberate targeting of rescuers and funeral-goers by the CIA in Pakistan, as revealed in an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times.

In October 2012 Emmerson said: ‘The Bureau has alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns [UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing] … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.’

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the UN inquiry, and called on the US to aid investigators. ‘Whether it does or not will show whether it holds itself to the same obligation to co-operate with UN human rights investigations that it urges on other countries,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Programme.

Who’s who on the UN’s team

Dr Nat Cary – One of the UK’s most respected forensic pathologists, Cary is the president of the British Association of Forensic Medicine and has worked on high-profile cases including the second autopsy of Ian Tomlinson and that of Joanna Yeates. He is an expert in injuries caused by explosions.

Imtiaz Gul – Gul is an eminent observer of terrorism and security in Pakistan. The executive director of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies, which tracks terrorist activity and violence throughout Pakistan, he is also a prominent journalist. He has written four books on al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan’s militants, and is a regular contributor to both Pakistani and international titles.

Abdul-Ghani Al-Iryani - A long-established analyst of and commentator on Yemeni politics, Iryani also leads the Democratic Awakening Movement. This campaign group, formed as President Saleh’s regime weakened during the Arab Spring, campaigns for human rights, strong civil society and the rule of law in Yemen.

Professor Sarah Knuckey – Human rights lawyer Knuckey runs the Global Justice Clinic at New York University’s law school. Last year she co-authored a major study into the impact of drones on civilians, Living Under Drones, which found that the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan had a ‘damaging and counterproductive’ effect on those who lived within the strike zone.

Lord Macdonald QC – A former director of public prosecutions for the UK government, Liberal Democrat peer Ken Macdonald is a leading defence barrister at Matrix Chambers, where Emmerson also practices. He has authored a major review of governmental counter-terrorism policy. He is chair of legal charity Reprieve’s board of trustees.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC – A war crimes specialist, Nice spent eight years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, culminating in leading the team that prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic. Many of his cases still centre on international law and war crimes – and last year he caused controversy by questioning whether Sudan’s President Bashir was responsible for genocide in Darfur.

Captain Jason Wright – The US Army lawyer who defended Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in his trial for plotting the September 11 attacks, Wright spoke out about his client’s torture in Guantanamo Bay. He is now a judge-advocate with the US military and is assisting the inquiry in a personal capacity, Emmerson noted at the investigation’s launch.

Justice Shah Jehan Khan Yousafzai - Yousafzai has spent two decades as senior judge in the circuit of Peshawar high court, working in towns and cities adjacent to the Pakistani tribal regions that have been the epicentre of covert drone warfare. Peshawar high court has heard high-profile legal challenges to the drone campaign.

Jasmine Zerini – A former diplomat, Zerini is a specialist in Pakistan and Afghanistan, having worked as deputy director for South Asia for the French foreign ministry.

“Obama is not the lesser of two evils, he is the more effective of two evils… Obama is getting away with things that no white president could get away with .. .those who have orchestrated his two terms are well aware of that.” -Jared Ball, crediting Glen Ford.

Obama is NOT the Realization of King’s Dream

Barack Obama is the first African-American to hold the office of President of the United States. This is a major milestone to be sure. In 1963, when civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous and iconic “I have a Dream” speech, such an achievement would have seemed unachievable, if not unthinkable.

Considerable attention has been brought to the fact that this year, the date of his second and final presidential nomination falls on Martin Luther King Day. This would not be the first time comparisons have been made between the two men.

A popular sentiment in America is that the election of Barack Obama to the US Presidency represents the realization of King’s dream. However, anyone who has taken a close look at Obama’s background and record in office should find this puzzling.

In one of his last speeches, King spoke of the triple evils not only of racism, but of materialism and militarism. Obama has overseen the expansion of Bush’s wars, as well as government bail-outs of financial interests implicated in the scandalous sub-prime mortgage fiasco. (Incidentally, seven of those Wall Street firms – Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse were by February 2008, among the top fourteen donors to Obama’s first campaign for US President. ) [1]

This week’s Global Research News Hour focuses on the role of Barack Obama within the framework of the American power structure. Our guest is Jared Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. The interview focuses on Obama’s track record in office, his inaugural address, and what his Cabinet picks tell us about his policy priorities moving forward.

Mali The End Game. Imperial Hand-Over?

In one of his most recent essays, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: Who’s Who? Who is Behind the Terrorists? Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization addresses the current crisis in Northern Mali, and the hostage-taking in Algeria.

Professor Chossudovsky spent years in Mali doing research work. In this interview he deconstructs the propaganda surrounding the rebel fighters in Northern Mali and presents the remarkable thesis that France’s military build-up to defeat rebel activity in Northern Mali is actually part of a re-colonization of former French Africa…by the US!


1) Pam Martens, “Obama’s Money Cartel“,,  May 8, 2008



Length (59:26)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour hosted by Michael Welch airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is broadcast weekly by CKUW News, 95.9 FM out of Winnipeg, MB, and on Canadian community radio networks. The weekly programme is available for download on the Global Research website.

“Bad Terrorists” versus NATO’s “Good Terrorists”

January 25th, 2013 by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

The chief of the Spanish police Enrique Baron told La Razon newspaper on January 24th that Spanish « jihadists » have left Spain for Syria where they are fighting in Japhat Al Nousra, the Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group currently at war against the Al Assad government, while other Spaniards have gone to Mali to join the fighting against French forces there. [1]

According to the report, three Spanish jihadists have already been killed in Syria. Baron expressed concerns that these terrorists could pose a future threat to Spanish national security. On March 11th 2004, several trains were bombed in Madrid killing 191 people and wounding hundreds more. The barbaric attacks were blamed on Al Qaeda.

In December 2011, former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar wrote an article for CNBC where he outlined the dangers presented by the Islamist direction of the Arab Spring and the war in Libya. He noted that the Libyan rebel military commander Abdul Hakim Belhadj was “one of the suspects involved in the Madrid bombing of March 2004”. [2]

Belhadj was made “governor” of Tripoli by NATO during its conquest of Libya in 2011. The Libyan terrorist also enjoyed a brief stint as a columnist with Britain’s “left-wing” Guardian newspaper, where the Islamist claimed to promote “democratic” values. [3]

As calls for president Assad to step down continue to be heard, a strange alliance between Western liberal democracies and Islamic terrorism is manifesting itself throughout Europe. The presence of jihadist fighters from Britain is also well documented. Yet the British government seems blithely indifferent.[4]

Ireland has the distinction of having provided one of the most important jihadi psychopaths for the destruction of Libya in 2011 and the current war on Syria, a Dublin-based thug called Mehdi al-Herati. [5]

Ireland, a country that fought colonialism for hundreds of years, is constitutionally a neutral country. During the War of Independence in 1919, the British government sent dozens of death squads, known as the Black and Tans into Ireland to terrorize the country into submission. This is precisely what NATO is doing to Syria today, yet the Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore, joins his pals in NATO to blame the Syrian government for doing precisely what his forefathers did to protect the motherland against foreign aggression and colonialism.[6]

According to the German daily Die Welt, over one hundred European jihadists are now fighting for Al Qaeda in Syria, where they are preparing a base for operations against European citizens. Florian Flage and Clemens Wergin write :

According to Western intelligence sources, Al Nousra commander Abu Mohammad Al-Dschulani is already planning to extend his operations base from Syria through Turkey into Europe. He is preparing for the day for the fall of Assad, in order to make Syria a centre for Jihadist activity in other countries.” [7]

Yet the German and EU governments continue to support these criminals in Syria while claiming to fight them in Mali. The hollow, mortifying chant of Western governments and corporate media that Assad is “killing his own people” is finally being exposed, as people in Europe wake up to the nightmare that they are being ruled by the mentally ill.

French jihadists are also fighting in Syria. Jacques Bérès, a doctor from Médecins Sans Frontières, said last year that many of the patients he treated in a hospital in Aleppo were jihadists from Paris. Responding to the revelation that French terrorists were fighting the Assad government in Syria, French “anti-terrorist” judge Marc Trévidic smiled and said “ they are our friends, how can we call them terrorists”. It is difficult to know if Trévidic’s smile was meant to indicate the unutterable absurdity of French foreign policy or rather an open admission that the French security state will decide who is a terrorist in accordance with its geopolitical interests. [8]

In an interview with French state radio France Inter on January 5th Trévidic warned that an unlawful system of incarceration similar to Guantanamo Bay could be put in place if France was to experience a wave of terrorist attacks. Yet this same judge openly admits that the French state is aiding Islamist terrorists in its war on Syria. In a normal society Trévidic would have been accused of condoning Islamist terrorism. But ours is not a normal society! [9]

On January 11th Trévidic was interviewed again by France Inter where he was asked if the French jihadists fighting the Syrian government could present a danger to French national security, Trévidic declared that:

“There are many young jihadists who have gone to the Turkish border in order to enter Syria to fight Bachar’s regime, but the only difference is that there France is not the enemy. Therefore we don’t look on that in the same way. To see young men who are at the moment fighting Bachar Al-Assad, they will be perhaps dangerous in the future but for the moment they are fighting Bachar Al-Assad and France is on their side. They will not attack us. Here (in Mali) the problem is that we are not on the same side” Trévidic went on to warn that if the Assad regime does not fall, Assad could attempt to bomb Paris! Terrorists are ok as long as they serve our political interests. Assad and not Al Qaeda could bomb Paris.Reality is turned upside down!

He we have an open admission that the West is helping Islamist terrorists to destroy the Syrian nation while supposedly fighting Islamist terrorists in Mali from the mouth of France’s top anti-terrorist judge! In the same programme Jean-Pierre Filiu, a terrorism expert from Science Po university stated that the terrorists France is fighting in Mali are nothing more than drug trafficking criminals. But it is perfectly acceptable to fight alongside such people in Syria when NATO geopolitical interests seek to replace the government there with their own gang of neo-colonial puppets. [10]

Independent media and geopolitical analysts alerted the world to NATO’s plan to recruit Mujahedeen terrorists to fight in Syria at the very start of the Levantine tragedy in 2011. [11]

Now as many mainstream media sources and Western legal authorities themselves are admitting that this is the case, the infernal rhapsody of “Assad must go” and “Assad is killing his own people”, this sick, psychopathic cover story continues to block the voices of reason that occasionally punctuate the mainstream media matrix.

The infinite cynicism, hubris, absolute hypocrisy, and collective pathology of the Western ruling elite bode ill for the future of humanity.









Quotation in German: “Nach Erkenntnissen westlicher Geheimdienste soll Al-Nusra-Kommandeur Abu Mohammad al-Dschulani schon jetzt planen, seine Operationsbasis von Syrien über die Türkei nach Europa auszudehnen. Er bereitet sich auf den Tag nach dem Sturz Assads vor, um Syrien zu einem Zentrum für dschihadistische Aktivität auch in anderen Ländern zu machen.”-





Is Britain Intent Upon Leaving the European Union?

January 25th, 2013 by Julie Hyland

British Prime Minister David Cameron finally set out his position on Britain’s relationship with the European Union (EU).

His speech [January 23 2013], committing the Conservative Party to a referendum on EU membership in 2017, had been postponed for a week, ostensibly due to the hostage crisis in Algeria. In truth, it was a speech that Cameron had postponed for seven years, since taking over leadership of the Tories, for fear that it would rip his party apart. In the end, it is primarily the fact that the Tories are already being pulled apart by opposing positions on the EU that forced his hand.

As Philip Stephens commented in the Financial Times, this was “politics on a tightrope”, motivated by Cameron’s hope that his commitment to a referendum would “forestall a historic split in his own party comparable to its 19th century ruptures over the Corn Laws and imperial trade preferences in the early 20th”.

But Cameron’s attempt to hold his party together, at least through the general election scheduled for 2015, came at a price. In the first place, his “red line commitment” to a referendum has placed the Conservatives in opposition to their Liberal Democrat coalition partners, who have attacked the move.

More worryingly for Cameron, and the British bourgeoisie as a whole, has been condemnation of the prospect of a British referendum by EU members and, more especially, by Washington.

Although the referendum is not scheduled for another four years and is dependent on the Tories winning re-election—itself a big ask—Cameron had been admonished for injecting further uncertainty into the European project when it is already in crisis. Philip Gordon, US assistant secretary of state for European affairs, publicly made clear Washington’s displeasure last week when he stressed that Britain’s continued membership of the EU was “in the American interest”.

Cameron’s remarks were crafted to try and appease several constituencies—each of which is just as reactionary as the other.

To placate the sizeable anti-EU wing of his own party, and face off the political challenge from the UK Independence Party, he pledged to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU and then put these terms to an “in-out” referendum in 2017.

To his EU partners, Washington and the substantial section of big business opposed to such a risky move, Cameron pledged that in such a referendum he would campaign for British membership with all his “heart and soul”.

Notwithstanding justified fears that the ballot would result in Britain’s exit from the EU, Cameron presented his move as a means of saving the European project, rather than burying it. Europe’s crisis, he said, stemmed from its lack of competitiveness and flexibility in the “new global race of nations” now underway, and the challenge posed by the “surging economies in the east and south”.

With “Europe’s share of world output … projected to fall by almost a third in the next two decades”, Cameron condemned “complex rules restricting our labour markets” and “excessive regulation” on business as “self-inflicted” wounds.

To underscore his point, the prime minister cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s earlier pronouncement that Europe’s system of welfare and social provision is unsustainable and has to go.

His entreaty essentially consists of a demand that the austerity measures that have created a social catastrophe in Greece, Spain and elsewhere must be extended and deepened across the continent, in tandem with the levelling down of wages and working conditions to the benchmark set in Asia.

It is for this reason that, even while demanding a “loosening” of the EU so as to protect the City of London, the prime minister gave his backing for greater fiscal and political consolidation within the euro zone. He insisted that the euro zone countries needed “the right governance and structures to secure a successful currency for the long term”—i.e., it must have the economic and political mechanisms in place to enforce the diktats of finance capital—while stressing that Britain had no intention of adopting the currency itself.

On the decimation of the living standards of the European working class, Cameron, the EU, Washington and big business are united. All of which makes Cameron’s poise as the defender of “democratic accountability and consent” hogwash. The prime minister hypocritically referenced “growing frustration” with the EU across the continent that has led to “demonstrations on the streets of Athens, Madrid and Rome” In Britain too, he said, “democratic consent for the EU … is now wafer-thin”.

But Cameron’s proposed referendum has nothing to do with establishing the democratic right of working people to oppose and defeat the vicious austerity being imposed by the “troika”—the EU, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund—that has brought millions onto the streets. Quite the opposite. He hopes to consolidate a right-wing bloc pledged to even more draconian economic measures, in which the interests of the City are paramount, while overturning workers’ remaining legal rights. Hence his attack on legislation limiting working hours.

This is the EU to which Cameron is committed. And again, on this the prime minister is knocking on an open door. While various European foreign ministers criticised Cameron’s speech, it was not on its substance but for his lack of a collegiate approach and for opening up a nest of worms with his pledge for a referendum.

Referring to Cameron’s demand to renegotiate the terms of EU membership, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that “cherry picking was not an option” while his French equivalent Laurent Fabius complained, “If you join a [football] club, you can’t say you want to play rugby.”

Merkel, however, said that Berlin would listen to “British wishes” over EU membership in the hope of finding a “fair compromise”. Only on Tuesday, Merkel and French President Francois Hollande had vowed to speed up euro zone integration and promote European competitiveness in terms similar to Cameron’s. Speaking on the 50th anniversary of the Franco-German Alliance, they stressed the need for “budget discipline” and labour reforms.

The Labour Party condemned the prospect of a referendum, with leader Ed Miliband flatly rejecting an “in-out” referendum. In doing so, Labour made clear that its overtly anti-democratic stance is motivated by fears that uncertainty over the result will damage London’s leading role as a financial centre.

Writing in the Financial Times, Labour’s Peter Mandelson opined that a better example for the UK in re-negotiating its terms of EU membership had been given by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1974. When Wilson re-negotiated Britain’s accession to the European Community as it was at the time, Mandelson wrote, “he did so by finessing the agreement and not by re-opening the accession treaty itself.”

The Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors welcomed Cameron’s speech, stating that a “reformed EU” and a “competitive and deregulated” Europe represented the “best deal for Britain”.

Mark Boleat, chairman of the policy and resources committee of the City of London, was more cautious. Cameron’s “lengthy timetable for the planned referendum … in itself risks delaying important investment decisions by international businesses in the City,” he warned. “[I]t is vital that we are up front about the need for the UK to remain a full member of the European Union, continue to operate completely within the single market and continue to have its say on EU regulations affecting us. Europe needs to adapt and meet the competitiveness challenge posed by the changing global economic landscape.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives pushed back the deadline for raising the federal debt ceiling Wednesday, voting for a measure that would suspend the current limit on federal borrowing until May 19. The vote averted an immediate crisis over the debt ceiling that threatened to destabilize US and world financial markets.

The move sets the stage for negotiations over the next several months between the two big-business parties over deep cuts in social programs.

The White House endorsed the postponement of the debt ceiling, issuing a conciliatory statement Tuesday, the day before the vote, with White House press secretary Jay Carney saying that if the bill “reaches the president’s desk he would not stand in the way of the bill becoming law.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the House action, declaring, “I’m very glad that they are going to send us a clean debt-ceiling bill.” Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, immediately embraced the requirement in the House bill that the Senate pass a budget by April 15.

As the price of voting for this extension, more Republicans demanded an intensification of the assault on essential social benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is comprised of at least three separate initiatives:

• The House will adopt a budget resolution, drafted by Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, aimed at reducing the annual federal deficit to zero over the next ten years. While Ryan gave no details, the cuts required would go far beyond his two previous proposals, in 2011 and 2012, which included transforming Medicare into a voucher program and effectively eliminating Medicaid.

• Congressional Republicans will enter the next round of fiscal negotiations on the so-called sequester, spending cuts that take effect March 1, with the demand that the full $110 billion in across-the-board cuts take effect. Any rescinding of scheduled cuts, for example in military spending, as demanded by many congressional Democrats and Republicans, would require equivalent offsetting cuts somewhere else.

• The debt ceiling extension is tied to a requirement that the Democratic-controlled Senate adopt a budget resolution of its own by April 15. Murray’s support means that Senate Democrats will go on record with their own proposal for cuts in entitlement programs for the first time since Obama entered the White House in 2009.

These maneuvers set the stage for a new and greatly accelerated attack on the social programs on which tens of millions of working, disabled and elderly Americans rely on for their health coverage and basic income.

Pushing the debt ceiling back into May gives priority to the budget talks over the sequester cuts, set to take effect March 1, and to a measure that would authorize federal spending for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year. The current authorization, known in Washington jargon as a “continuing resolution,” was adopted before the 2012 election and expires March 27. At that point, many federal operations would be shut down for lack of funding.

The Treasury hit the previous debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion on December 31 and has been engaged in stopgap measures to avoid further borrowing. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had said that these efforts would be exhausted as early as mid-February, warning that federal payments, including March 1 Social Security checks, might be endangered.

The House bill does not raise the debt ceiling now, but rather suspends enforcement of it, a largely semantic distinction, since the measure automatically increases the debt ceiling May 19 to whatever level of borrowing has been reached by then.

The Treasury would presumably adopt a new set of stopgap measures after May 19, with some financial market commentators suggesting that the effect of the House bill is to defer any further debt ceiling crisis until late summer.

The vote for the temporary suspension of the debt ceiling was 285-144, with most Republicans supporting the bill (199 for and 33 against) while Democrats were split (86 for and 111 against). Most Democrats withheld their votes until all the Republicans had voted, in an effort to compel as many Republicans as possible to support the measure, which was opposed by Tea Party groups.

The House Republicans decided to push back the debt ceiling deadline largely because of pressure from corporate America, where there was concern that another debt ceiling crisis, like that which led to a downgrade in the US credit rating in August 2011, could have a shock effect on the US and world financial system. This is especially so under conditions of slowdown in China and other previously fast-growing economies in Asia and Latin America, and outright slump in Europe.

The Wall Street Journal voiced the consensus in financial circles with an editorial Wednesday endorsing the House Republican leadership’s decision to put off any direct clash over the debt ceiling, even though they dropped their insistence that any rise in the debt ceiling be matched, dollar for dollar, by spending cuts.

The editorial declared, “Mr. Boehner’s tactical retreat buys some time and puts more spending pressure on Democrats. The automatic sequester cuts that Congress agreed to in 2012 will arrive on March 1, causing an immediate cut of $69 billion in discretionary spending, to $974 billion.”

This argument reflects calculations that there was a better chance to reach a bipartisan budget-cutting deal with the Obama administration in talks over the sequester and the continuing resolution during the next two months.

Obama has repeatedly signaled his willingness to revive a tentative deal with House Speaker John Boehner, reached in July 2011, which called for substantial cuts in both Medicare and Social Security: raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, and cutting future cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients by changing the formula by which they are calculated.

The Obama administration was quick to welcome the Republican move on the debt ceiling because, while it is concerned about the status of US treasuries, it is united with Republicans on its commitment to enforce unpopular cuts to key social programs.

Liberal commentators have hailed Obama’s Second Inaugural address as a renewed commitment to “modern liberalism.” What this means is the combination of empty demagogy and identity politics with a historic attack on the working class.

The Syrian economy is being hit by the combined impacts of the US-NATO sponsored terrorist attacks and the economic sanctions regime. 

The ultimate objective of the US-NATO covert war on Syria is the destabilization of the Syria economy and the destruction of Syria as a nation state.

Economic destabilization is conducted through various means:

  • An economic sanctions regime which has contributed to paralyzing trade and investment,
  • Acts of deliberate sabotage and piracy directed against the country’s industrial base.

Confirmed by the Syrian Chamber of Commerce, the Turkish government has sponsored the outright “stealing of production lines and machines from hundreds of factories in Aleppo city” with a view to disabling Syria’s industrial base.

  • The closing down and/or bankruptcy of the country’s industrial enterprises.

According to a recent report: “More than half of the country’s larger factories and small- and medium-sized workshops have shut down”.

“The state-owned Syrian General Organisation of Engineering Industries announced that it had shut eight of the 12 companies it owns because of sabotage, looting, burning of production lines and warehouses, and the destruction of machines.”

  • The destruction of the country’s agricultural base, leading to food shortages, undernourishment and child malnutrition.

The Sanctions Regime

The Obama administration  has imposed sweeping sanctions on Syria. The sanctions regime was initiated in August 2011 through the issuing of  an executive order “prohibiting the exportation, sale or supply of services from the United States to Syria.” as well as concurrent legislation by the US Congress.

Obama’s Executive order:

“…blocks investment and the export of oil from Syria. On May 30 [2011], the U.S. levied sanctions on the Syria International Islamic Bank. The Treasury Department said the bank has acted as a front for other Syrian financial institutions seeking to circumvent sanctions. A few days prior to this, the U.S. and around a dozen other countries expelled Syrian diplomats following a massacre in al-Houla, Syria, that was blamed without conclusive evidence on al-Assad’s military.

In August of 2011, Congress introduced S.1472, a “bill to impose sanctions on persons making certain investments that directly and significantly contribute to the enhancement of the ability of Syria to develop its petroleum resources, and for other purposes.”

In November 2011, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership and adopted “unprecedented sanctions at a meeting in Cairo by a vote of 19 to three,”

In the United States, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Syrian Freedom Support Act by a unanimous vote in March of this year. It is intended to “strengthen sanctions against the Government of Syria, to enhance multilateral commitment to address the Government of Syria’s threatening policies, to establish a program to support a transition to a democratically-elected government in Syria, and for other purposes.” (See  Kurt Nimmo Crippling Sanctions against Damascus,  Global Research,  June 2012)

The Collapse of Syrian Agriculture

The terrorist actions of the US-NATO sponsored “Free Syrian Army” (FSA)  and its affiliated death squads directed against civilians including farmers has led to the dislocation of agriculture.  The supply of farm inputs including seeds and fertilizer has been disrupted.

The distribution of agricultural goods in urban areas is affected.  Terrorist attacks on the transportation and distribution of agricultural commodities is another related factor.

The terror attacks have uprooted small scale agriculture and have led to the devastation of commercial agriculture.

In a recent report, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) confirms a massive drop in agricultural production:

“Twenty-two months of conflict have left Syria’s agricultural sector in tatters with cereal, fruit and vegetable production dropping for some by half and massive destruction of irrigation and other infrastructure, a UN mission has found.

“Destruction of infrastructure in all sectors is massive and it is clear that the longer the conflict will last, the longer it will take to rehabilitate it,” he said.

Of the 10 million Syrians who live in rural areas – about 46 percent of the population – 80 percent derive their livelihoods from agriculture.

Wheat and barley production dropped to less than 2 million tonnes last year from 4 to 4.5 million tonnes in normal years.

Vegetable, fruit and olive production declined significantly in both Homs and Dara’a Governorates, including a 60 percent drop in vegetable production in Homs and a 40 percent drop in olive oil production in Dara’a.

Only 45 percent of the farmers were able to fully harvest their cereal crops while 14 percent reported they could not harvest due to insecurity and lack of fuel. There is a lack of access to agricultural inputs including quality seeds and fertilizers. There is a lack of irrigation due to damage to main irrigation canals especially in Homs and lack of fuel for irrigation pumps. Movement of livestock to grazing areas has not been possible and their survival is compromised by the lack of animal feed and veterinary drugs, the importation of which is hampered by sanctions. The production of poultry, a traditional source of cheap animal protein has also been severely hit with major farms destroyed in Homs, Hama and Idleb.FAO Media Centre: Syrian agricultural production drops massively as conflict continues

Hikes in Fuel and Gasoline Prices

In recent developments, there have been significant hikes in fuel and gasoline prices which have contributed to disrupting production as well as transportation. These hikes in prices have also led the compression of real purchasing power by households.

The economic sanctions as well as the demise of local industries have led to shortages in essential commodities including medicine.

The monetary system and foreign exchange market are  in crisis, characterized by a major decline in the value of the Syrian pound.

The State fiscal structure  has been disrupted as the government is no longer able to collect taxes from companies which have closed down.

Reversing the Achievements of Economic and Social Development

Prior to 2011, Syria’s external debt was low when compared to other developing countries.Syria’s foreign debt burden had been reduced through bilateral rescheduling deals with its main creditors including Russia, Germany, Iran and France. Syria also managed to settle its debt with the World Bank

According to World Bank figures:

  • primary school enrollment (% gross) was of the order of 118% (2010),
  • life expectancy at birth –which is an indicator of the state of health of the population– was of the order of 76 years, compared to 72 for the Middle East and 65.5 years for the average of  lower middle income countries.  (World Bank, Data on the Syrian Arab Republic)
  • secondary school enrollment was of the order of 72 percent (% gross) World Bank data on Secondary School Enrollment

Health Care in Syria before and During the Crisis

January 25th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Kherallah M, Alahfez T, Sahloul Z, Eddin KD, Jamil G.

Syrian International Coalition for Health, Global Health Equity Foundation, Geneva

The Syrian International Coalition for Health (SICH) is a consortium of organizations and health professionals who are committed to improving health care and healthcare delivery in Syria. SICH was formed in 2012 in response to increasingly urgent calls for comprehensive reform. The coalition adopted five principles: Quality, equity, sustainability, broad participation and shared responsibility. Global Health Equity Foundation (GHEF), as a major contributor to human and community development worldwide, combines its core strategies of research, advocacy and capacity building to host this coalition. From administrative headquarters in Geneva, GHEF supports the SICH agenda in an equitable and neutral fashion. The coalition with its affiliates (Syrian American Medical Society, Syrian British Medical Society, Middle East Critical Care Assembly and others) along with its experts and specialists will play a major role in the Post-Conflict Needs Assessment in Syria and will evaluate the capacity and functionality of the health system to develop and implement the needed strategies and projects.

Before the crisis: Baseline health status

Health indicators improved considerably in the Syrian Arab Republic over the past three decades according to data from the Syrian Ministry of Health with life expectancy at birth increasing from 56 years in 1970 to 73.1 years in 2009; infant mortality dropped from 132 per 1000 live births in 1970 to 17.9 per 1000 in 2009; under-five mortality dropped significantly from 164 to 21.4 per 1000 live births; and maternal mortality fell from 482 per 100 000 live births in 1970 to 52 in 2009. [1] The Syrian Arab Republic was in epidemiological transition from communicable to non- communicable diseases with the latest data showing that 77% of mortalities were caused by non-communicable diseases. [2] Total government expenditure on health as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product was 2.9 in 2009. [3] Despite such low public investment access to health services increased dramatically since the 1980s, with rural populations achieving better equity than before. [1]

Despite the apparent improved capacity of the health system, a number of challenges prevail which need to be addressed to reduce inequities in access to health care and to improve the quality of care; these include, addressing validity of the data, overall inequity, lack of transparency, inadequate utilization of capacity, inadequate coordination between providers of health services, uneven distribution of human resources, high turnover of skilled staff and leadership, inadequate number of qualified nurses and allied health professionals. More recently there has been an uncontrolled and largely unregulated expansion of private providers, resulting in uneven distribution of health and medical services among geographical regions. Standardized care and quality assurance and accreditation are major issues that need to be addressed; a recent study revealed that mortality rates among critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care units with severe 2009 H1N1 influenza A was 51% in Damascus compared to an APACHE II predicted mortality rate of 21% with a standardized mortality ratio of 2.4 (95% confidence interval: 1.7-3.2, P-value < 0.001). [4]

During the crisis: Health care provision

Syria is experiencing a protracted political and socioeconomic crisis that resulted in a severe deterioration of living conditions which has also significantly eroded the health system.

  • At least 25,000 Syrians have been killed with many more were injured, among them women and children among the casualties; health staff were killed and injured while on-duty. Injuries include multiple traumas with head injuries, thorax and abdominal wounds. A Total of 192,825 refugees were registered by UNHCR as of September 7, 2012and residing in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq in addition to 53,442 refugees who are awaiting registration together with an undetermined number of displaced people who are being sheltered with host families outside Syria [5] . It is estimated that more than 2.3 million have been internally displaced; these numbers are rising by the day as the crisis is escalating very rapidly.
  • Vital infrastructure has been compromised or destroyed, resulting in a lack of shelter and energy sources, deterioration of water and sanitation services, food insecurity and serious overcrowding in some areas.
  • Access to health care is severely restricted, hampered by security factors. Maternal and child health services at the primary health care (PHC) level are disrupted. The consequences for maternal and child morbidity and mortality, among deliveries that took place during the conflict period remains unclear.
  • Specific concerns remain for the chronically sick. It is estimated that more than half of those chronically ill have been forced to interrupt their treatment. These concerns are exacerbated by the virtual halt of referrals of ordinary patients outside the conflict areas as life-threatening injuries receive higher priority in an overwhelmed health care system. Elective surgery and nonurgent routine medical interventions are delayed or interrupted indicating that a growing number of patients, mainly with chronic conditions are facing a dire situation, while awaiting treatment.
  • The quality of health care has been further affected by the deterioration in the functionality of medical equipment due to the lack of spare parts and maintenance shortages of drugs and medical supplies due to sanctions. [6] Routine operations are affected and many elective interventions suspended.

Very few assessments were taken place to assess the status of health care services at the conflict areas; the World Health Organization (WHO) completed a rapid assessment in late June to assess the availability and functionality of health services and resources in affected areas. The survey included 342 primary health care centers (PHC) and 38 hospitals in several affected provinces: Rural Damascus, Homs, Hama, Idleb, Der El Zor, Dara’a, and Tartous. The first six provinces were selected to assess the effect of the current unrest on health services, while Tartous was selected to assess the degree of overburdened health facilities, due to high numbers of internal refugees from other affected provinces. It was found that about 43% of PHCs are partially functioning, and 2% of PHCs are nonfunctioning, 13% PHCs are inaccessible due distance of PHC from patients (50%, mostly in Idleb); lack of safety (34%, mostly in Homs and Hama); difficulties in public transportation (8%, mostly in Tartous) or temporary relocation of patients (2%) while only 50% of hospitals are fully functioning due to lack of staff, equipment and medicine. The report showed an urgent need for infant incubators in some hospitals, CT scans, Doppler, echography, anesthesia equipment, and ambulances. Antibiotics, anti-ulcer medication, sterilizers and antidotes are also urgently needed. The major obstacles are a lack of safety related to the current situation, long distances to hospitals, and difficulties in available public transportations (12.5%). These issues exist mainly in Rural Damascus, Daraa, Homs and Der El Zor provinces. The majority of PHCs and hospitals also count on the national water supply system as a main source of water (88%, 87%, respectively). A large proportion of PHCs have no available sanitation system (mostly in Hama, Der El Zor and Dara’a). Only one-tenth of PHCs have usable generators; the majority has usable blood pressure apparatuses (94%); Availability of nebulizers, fetoscopes and suction machines are 44%, 30% and 18%, respectively. This assessment is limited due security issues, the dynamic situation and the rapid escalation of the crisis, it is expected the needs are at larger scale after the recent escalation in the last 2 months. [7]

There is a need for a larger assessment and evaluation of health services in the affected areas. Prompt coordinated efforts and proactive solutions of health care services for displaced people are necessary in order to mitigate the serious and negative outcomes. Multiple interventions have been attempted by the WHO in response to the crisis including the distribution of surgical kits and equipment of mobile health units in Homs and rural Damascus. [7]

After the crisis: Post-conflict needs assessment

In the postcrisis phase, there will be an urgent need for a development process designed to examine and assess the health situation in the country using a holistic approach; one that encompasses the health sector, socioeconomic status, the determinants of health, and upstream national policies and strategies that have a major bearing on health.

Post-conflict needs assessments (PCNAs) are multilateral exercises that should be undertaken by the international organizations in collaboration with the national government of Syria. The Syrian International Coalition for Health with its affiliates (Syrian American Medical Society, Syrian British Medical Society, Middle East Critical Care Assembly and others) along with its experts and specialists will play a major role in the PCNAs and in the development and implementation of strategies and needed projects. PCNAs are increasingly used by national and international actors as an entry point for conceptualizing, negotiating and financing a common shared strategy for recovery and development in fragile, post-conflict settings. The PCNA includes both the assessment of needs and the national prioritization and costing of needs in an accompanying transitional results matrix. The assessment will evaluate the capacity and functionality of the health system in addition to the following points:

  • Complications and permanent disabilities for people with traumatic injuries and hearing impairment caused by explosions due to inappropriate follow-up and treatment.
  • Potential risks for women who went into labor as well as infants born during the crisis period associated with the lack of appropriate care during labor, delivery and postpartum.
  • Complications and excess mortality in patients with chronic diseases due to suspension of treatment and delayed access to health care.
  • Epidemic outbreaks of water and food-borne diseases due to limited access to clean water and sanitation and a weak public health surveillance system.
  • Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases due to interrupted vaccination programs.
  • Psychological trauma and mental health problems particularly upon children due to the effects of the conflict, ongoing insecurity and lack of protective factors.
  • Deterioration of health and nutritional status leading to increasing morbidity and mortality due to a further decline in socioeconomic and security conditions and in the quality of health care.
  • The extent of vulnerable groups (elderly, pregnant women, and children) or individuals who are severely affected by the emergency, having reduced coping mechanisms and limited access to appropriate services or support networks.
  • The magnitude of restricted access to specialized tertiary care.

The Syrian International Coalition for health is determined within its scope and limitation to do all what it is possible not to allow a repeat of what has happened in other countries of the region, namely a total collapse of existing health infrastructure and systems.

References Top


1. Syrian Arab Republic, Ministry of Health Statistics, 2009, Available from: [Last accessed on 2012 July 29]. Back to cited text no. 1
2. Syrian Arab Republic, Ministry of Health Statistics, 2009, Available from: [Last accessed on 2012 July 29]. Back to cited text no. 2
3. WHO, Global health Observatory Data Repository: Available from: [Last accessed 2012 July 29] Back to cited text no. 3
4. Alsadat R, Dakak A, Mazlooms M, Ghadhban G, Fattoom S, Betelmal I, et al. Characteristics and outcome of critically ill patients with 2009 H1N1 influenza infection in Syria. Avicenna J Med 2012;2:34-7. Back to cited text no. 4 Medknow Journal
5. UNHCR, Syria Regional Refugee Response: Available from: [Last accessed 2012 Sept 9]. Back to cited text no. 5
6. Al Faisal W, Al Saleh Y, Sen K. Syria: Public health achievements and sanctions. Lancet 2012;379:2241. Back to cited text no. 6
7. Word Health Organization, regional office of Eastern Mediterranean, Situation reports for the Syrian Arab Republic. Available from: [Last accessed on 2012 July 29]. Back to cited text no. 7

Bachar al-ASSAD


ألقى السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد كلمة في دار الأوبرا بدمشق ظهر أمس تناول فيها آخر المستجدات في سورية والمنطقة وفيما يلي النص الكامل للكلمة:

السادة رئيس وأعضاء الحكومة…

السادة رؤساء وأعضاء قيادات المنظمات الشعبية والنقابات المهنية.. أيتها الأخوات… أيها الأخوة..

اليوم أنظر إلى وجوهكم ووجوه أبناء بلدي وقد كساها الحزن والألم… أنظر إلى عيون أطفال سورية فلا أرى ضحكة بريئة تشع منها ولا ألعاباً تزرع البسمة على وجوههم.. أرقب أيادي العجائز فلا أراها إلا متضرعة بالدعاء بالسلامة لابن أو ابنة أو حفيد.

وأضاف الرئيس الأسد.. نلتقي اليوم والمعاناة تعم أرض سورية ولا تبقي مكانا للفرح في أي زاوية من زوايا الوطن.. فالأمن والأمان غابا عن شوارع البلاد وأزقتها.. التقي اليوم وهناك أمهات فقدن أبناءهن.. خيرة أبنائهن.. وأسر فقدت معيلها وأطفال تيتموا وإخوة تفرقوا بين شهيد و نازح ومفقود

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By Radwan Mortada

Al-Akhbar publishes leaked minutes from the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs that have Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi discussing regional affairs – from Russia’s involvement in Syria to Gaddafi’s fall – with Qatari officials.

An important dimension of the Syrian crisis is the electronic war being waged by both sides. One of the groups active in this area calls itself the Syrian Electronic Army and it has recently succeeded in hacking into several official Qatari, Saudi, and Turkish websites and downloading thousands of secret documents from them.

Al-Akhbar gained access to some of these through an intermediary and, after confirming their authenticity, agreed to publish them in coordination with the Syrian Ajel website.

Today, Al-Akhbar begins publishing these documents, starting with three correspondences from the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The first one is the minutes of a meeting between Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani and Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi that took place in September 2012, in which they discussed the situation in Syria.

In it, the Qatari prime minister talks of contacting Russia to convince it of abandoning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, offering guarantees from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that Moscow’s naval base can remain in Syria.

The document also reveals that what Qatar offered Egypt in terms of financial assistance after the revolution is little more than loans with interest in return for giving the Qataris incentives such as investing in Egypt’s steel industry.

The second document is the minutes of a meeting between Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The meeting took place in mid-March 2011 during the early stages of battle in Libya and the discussion revolves mainly about the situation on the ground there.

As for the third document, it also contains minutes of a meeting, this time between the Qatari Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and foreign minister Davutoğlu.

In it, the foreign minister stresses the importance of not allowing Assad to complete his term in office, which ends in 2014, because he will use it to defeat the opposition.

Document 1: Hamad bin Jassim and Mohamed Mursi


Minutes of Meeting Between His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, with His Excellency President Mohamed Mursi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Thursday, 6/11/2012

Sheikh Hamad: [...]

Hamad: His Highness the Prince [Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani] appreciates your role. Today we discussed with Mr. Hicham Qandil the [Egyptian] Prime Minister and agreed on some issues. One of them is the remainder of the agreed upon one and a half billion US Dollars. We reduced the rate of interest to 1.5 [percent] and increased the [loan] period. This is in addition to the additional amount that we will work. Together, we are “family” and each day one of us has a demand. As well as the electricity, where we suggested a study and the agreement will be done in a month’s time.

Egyptian Prime Minister: I am sure that your hearts are with us.

Hamad: We also agreed on the steel. We have partnerships with several countries in this area.

Mursi: I have a suggestion to reinvigorate and reactivate the Iron and Steel Company in Helwan, which is the largest steel factory in the Middle East, built by the Russians with Russian technology [...] It consists of four furnaces. The first is old, but it can be rehabilitated and rebuilt. The fourth is advanced and a port was constructed for it in Dakahlia to provide coal, in addition to the rail from the port to Helwan and the raw materials rail from the oases region. We have large quantities of raw materials. But [the furnace] is built based on the end product. The complex is beginning to lose money, because it used to produce 2 million tons, which is the break-even for the project. It used to be an industrial fortress with 25,000 workers, but the Ahmed Ezz company [Ezz Steel] appeared and started seducing away the engineers.

Hamad: We are with you and we can announce the project from now. We will include it to be studied by the team that will come to study the projects.

Finance Minister Yusuf Kamal: We have all he studies and it fits with a similar idea we have in Algeria, which is a partnership with the Extra Trade company. They can organize with us.

Hamad: Your Excellency, we assure you that we are under orders from His Highness the Prince. You know his feelings towards you. We are ready and we have amounts [of money] that were not included in the minutes. We will look into steel and electricity, there’s a deal, also the outstanding issues related to Barwa and Diar, which is a positive indicator. We also agreed on the issue of aviation and invited the Minister of Civil Aviation. But your Excellency, we have a problem in terms of the surplus. It is that we don’t want it to be deposited anywhere, while you lend 14 percent. If agreed, we are ready to deposit between 10 and 20 billion Egyptian Pounds [$1.5 to 3 billion]. We hope you consider this and we can keep it for one year and then renew. We are ready to do this.

Mursi: Why should it be in Egyptian Pounds, because the Chinese are saying the same thing.

Hamad: Because interest on Egyptian Pounds is high and we are ready for it to be for one year and then it can be renewed. We agreed on the minutes of an agreement between the two sides and on the specific times and dates of each operation, so we can begin. This will include the deposit of $1.5 billion, according to the agreement between His Highness the Prince and Your Excellency. We are sincere to begin work and our trust increased following your speech in Tehran. Everyone praised it and, yesterday, in the Arab League meeting, positions changed.

Mursi: There is no room for the word reform. He must leave.

Hamad: We suggested to him that he leaves. Really, it was a powerful speech.

Mursi: How could the Saudi King surprise us with the initiative of dialogue between confessions, while we had agreed about the Syrian issue.

Hamad: Us too. We had met him a day earlier and nobody mentioned it.

Mursi: We want to take a serious position.

Hamad: I think everything will change after the US and German elections. If Obama returns, and it does not matter if he waits till January for his new term. He can do it automatically and he has made commitments.

Mursi: If the Iranians get involved in solving the issue in Syria, they will win and become closer to Turkey and the Gulf.

Hamad: They are starting to think of names. In the past, they had good relations with us and we have common [oil] wells. But on the Syrian issue, unfortunately it’s the Russians. If they say the word, the Syrian regime will be finished. But Russia is still insisting on the issue. I spoke to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on the phone for 40 minutes. It was a bad conversation, although my relationship with him used to excellent, but the call was a failure. Now, they are starting to lose balance and want a solution.Mursi: Why do they want it?

Hamad: They have a marine base in Syria. We told them we will work on an agreement between you and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but they did not accept.

Mursi: They are part of the problem and he will leave.

Hamad: As for the visas, we agreed, and the Egyptian side can begin taking visas.

Egyptian Prime Minister: There is also a positive indication in the issue of partnership with Sudan.

Hamad: Yes. We will send our delegation for this matter and create a partnership in Africa. It will strengthen relations and we are ready. There is a project for the Diyar company for $120 million. Things will move. We are honest and we want to inform the public of the issue.

Mursi: We do not have any conflicts. You are our brothers and your hands are clean.

Hamad: We thought it would be better to do it through Egypt. You are in Africa and you have the people and experience. Rest assured, Your Excellency, we will be with you.

Document 2: Hamad bin Jassim and Davutoğlu


Minutes of Official Negotiations Between His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and
His Eminence Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey

Doha – Sunday 13/3/2011

(Following greetings)

Sheikh Hamad: Your meeting with His Excellency the Prince was good.

Davutoğlu: The situation in the region is moving fast. We should be coordinating.

Hamad: We are trying to push the [UN] Security Council to do something.

Davutoğlu: Gaddafi must leave and he will leave. Now he is winning the battle and we are worried. We tried to pressure him to leave Syria, but he began recruiting mercenaries from Sudan and Egypt. The West has different positions. France is of one opinion, but Europe has another, also the Americans.

Hamad: The US secretary of state called me three times and might call back today. We asked the Arab League to issue a decision for a no-fly zone over Libya. Syria is against and Yemen is not decided.

Davutoğlu: Why does Syria oppose?

Hamad: I don’t know.

Davutoğlu: I was surprised when the Syrians said they did not receive a message from you [concerning Lebanon].

Hamad: This is not true. We sent three copies.

Davutoğlu: I told the Syrians, why do you ask us to travel to Lebanon, while you had already made up your minds.

Hamad: I think they will lose if they continue to lie to their friends. What is happening now in Libya cannot be accepted. The Security Council must be pressured to impose a no-fly zone.

Davutoğlu: We are not members in the Security Council, but we are a member of NATO and we can do something. They told us that the decision has to come from the Security Council and the Arab countries. If NATO attacks Libya, Gaddafi will claim he is defending the Arabs.

Hamad: Some Arab countries can participate and Turkey has to play a role.

Davutoğlu: We say that Gaddafi must go. [Turkish] Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, but the security council decision concerning the international tribunal shut the door on Gaddafi. He is now either regaining control of Libya or dying a hero.

Hamad: Even if he controls Libya, he is finished. I think it is important to push for a decision on a no-fly zone over Libya. He is gaining in his war, but he is finished because he killed his own people and said terrible things about Arabs.

Davutoğlu: What’s important is how to save the Libyans.

Hamad: No-fly zone and attacking the radars.

Davutoğlu: As far as NATO is concerned, it was Germany that blocked the no-fly zone decision.

Hamad: Don’t oppose the decision. You are not required to send forces.

Davutoğlu: We are now charged with Portugese interests. Are you in contact with the tribes?

Hamad: Some of them.

Davutoğlu: Gaddafi might take control of Benghazi and this affects the situation in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. He could bring back the two former leaders into power. We are trying to find an exit for him, but I think it’s too late.

Hamad: [Former Libyan security chief] Abdullah Senoussi called me and started making threats. I don’t care. This is our policy and we will keep it up. I told [Saudi Foreign Minister] Saud al-Faisal and [UAE Foreign Minister] Abdullah Bin Zayed that we need to be clear. And actually Saud al-Faisal’s statement was clear and direct and I am happy with that.

Davutoğlu: I spoke to His Highness the Prince today about the economic situation in Tunisia and Egypt. We must support them.

Hamad: We can make announcements about investments in Egypt, but the situation in Tunisia is still not clear.

Davutoğlu: We used to have Turkish companies working in Egypt, but they left after the revolution. It is important to invest in garment manufacturing and tourism, because they can employ many people.

Hamad: We have an industrial zone in Port Said. We can do that.

Davutoğlu: We can form a joint Qatari-Turkish committee to work on this.

Hamad: Send us the proposal and we will study it. I am thinking of visiting Turkey, but this time Istanbul not Ankara. And I am still waiting for an answer about Qatar Airlines.

Davutoğlu: The transportation minister resigned and we will have elections on 12 June 2011. The military cooperation agreement has not been activated. What is happening?

Hamad: We will follow it up.


Minutes prepared by:
Ambassador Zayed Bin Rashed al-Nuaimi
Director of the Department of Asian and African Affairs

Document 3: Tamim bin Hamad and Davutoğlu


Minutes of the meeting between His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Crown Prince (God Keep Him) with His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey

Beach Palace – Tuesday, 25/10/2011

(Following greetings)

His Highness the Crown Prince: We’re happy to see you. We were hoping to offer aid to Turkey to deal with the earthquake. We have a specialized rescue team. How is the situation in Turkey now?

We want to offer support in light of the warm relations between us, for we are brothers and Muslims. We respect your policies and the step you are taking. What is happening in Syria?

The Guest: Sound policies have kept the region in a positive situation for the past one hundred years. At first, we worked separately, but now we are intertwined and we must work together in order to achieve prosperity.

Qatar and the Emirates are able to think in a positive manner and that is because they are healthy countries. When we look around us to speak to others, who can we talk to in the region? In Iraq, there is Talabani, Alawi, Barzani, and Maliki, and Syria is that way too. Egypt is the biggest Arab and Muslim country, but it has its internal problems. I met with the general secretary of the Arab League and I spoke with him about Arab matters.

His Highness the Crown Prince: You will find us everywhere. We headed the Arab League delegation because no one wanted it.

There was a dispute between the Kuwaiti and Iraqi delegations during the Islamic Summit which was held in Doha. Izzat al-Douri was there; this was the Baath’s problem – they have problems with minorities.

In Syria, there are problems between the Alawis and Sunnis. You cannot blame the minority for thinking about what might happen to them in the future. This problem has to be resolved in the future.

The Guest: I met Nabil al-Arabi, I think he is here.

His Highness the Crown Prince: He will be at the meeting tomorrow.

The Guest: We thank you for the condolences. We want to coordinate with you. We have a general debate in parliament, but I decided to go to Qatar because it is important to us. What is your message tomorrow?

His Highness the Crown Prince: We will be sending a message to Bashar. He had said that he was going to talk to opposition. I believe that we have to send him a message that if he doesn’t continue down that road, the matter will take its course all the way to the Security Council.

His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs: The killing must stop and the army must be pulled out of the cities, in addition to amending Article 8 and conducting elections after negotiating with the opposition.

His Highness the Crown Prince: He is not taking the matter seriously; he wants to destroy the whole region. Iran has changed its tone. I spoke to Burhan Ghalioun and he values Turkey’s role. I told him that our relations with Turkey are good and whatever Turkey decides, we are with them. We will let you know what happens.

The Guest: Coordination between us is important. Bashar is relying on two things and he has a lot of problems. He thinks that Russia and China are with him, and he thinks he can play the Russian and Chinese card with the West.

We helped him break his isolation in 2006, when he was isolated by the West. We offered him a 14-point plan and we discussed everything with him. We know him and his regime very well. Our ambassador in Syria was with me, and Bouthaina Shaaban was present. He agreed to pull the army out of Hama, Homs, Daraa, and the rest of the cities, issue a new media law, allow the foreign press to enter the country, amend Article 8 of the constitution, hold elections, [...] and sit down with the opposition – he agreed to all this.And after two days he attacked the mosques, launched an offensive on Latakia, killing people [...] Our plan was to back him if he implemented the plan. He pulled out of Hama as our ambassador watched on, only to return and attack it. Our ambassador notified us in a secret letter that they are in the process of destroying Hama. He was deceiving us.

When he attacked Latakia, I called him and asked him how is it that you are destroying the mosques, we will not remain quiet over it. I told him that the president must make his speech according to the agreement. But Muallem asked us to wait. I told him that his integrity was at risk. Muallem called me and told me that the president will give a speech in a week. And I said no and we clarified our position. We have not had contact with them since last August 14.

In Libya the situation was different. There, the Arab League gave Western intervention legitimacy. We in Turkey do not want Western or NATO intervention, despite the fact that we are a member of NATO. Foreign intervention in Syria will cause problems in Lebanon and Iran, and Hamas is able to act individually against him – we support the opposition and he is afraid of it. In 2006, we held joint military exercises and we supported him economically, but now he has to be isolated economically and he is bankrupt. We spoke to Iran and they told us to give him a few months time. We told them: try if you can. Salehi is a good man.

His Highness the Crown Prince: We should use that.

The Guest: We want to send a message to the Russians and the Chinese, and the Arabs must talk to the two countries to confirm to them that we do not want another Libya situation and we must convince them not to support Bashar – he cannot be given the opportunity to rule until 2014, so that he can get rid of the opposition.

His Highness the Crown Prince: He must stop the violence today before tomorrow. You have done all you can but there has to be Arab support and this has to be the Arab message to him.

The Guest: Yes, this is the right message and he cannot be given any more time. We must act now. What is the position of Algeria, are they against the revolution?

His Highness the Crown Prince: It will change its position and they will back the revolution.

The Guest: We are a member of NATO and we do not want foreign intervention. As Muslims, Arabs and Turks, we do not want Western intervention in Syria. What is the decision that will be taken if the Syrian president does not abide by the Arab initiative?

His Highness the Crown Prince: I cannot say now.

The Guest: It is easy to win the war on the ground, but the rebuilding will be difficult, so will the situation in Syria.

His Highness the Crown Prince: The Turkish vice defense minister is here.

The Guest: I will be visiting Jordan and will meet with the King tomorrow. Is Khaled Meshal in Damascus? Can he come to Doha? If such a step is sensitive for him, there is no need. There is a matter I wanted to speak to your highness about. Al-Jazeera is directing criticism against our position and this is not good.

His Highness the Crown Prince: Our relation with you is bigger than al-Jazeera and you can speak to Hamad bin Jassem, and we will talk to him about the issue.

The Guest: Thank you your highness.

His Highness the Crown Prince: You are welcome and we hope you have a pleasant stay in Doha.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

The War On Mali: Who are the Major Actors?

January 24th, 2013 by Bonnie Faulkner

The French troop deployment and aerial bombardment of Mali raises important questions about the nature of recent events there, the causes of the escalating violence, the factions involved and the broader geopolitical interests of major powers and corporations, not only in Mali, but in the continent of Africa as a whole.

We begin with an overview of the broad historical process taking place in the post World War II environment, with the United States systematically replacing former European colonial powers with neocolonial Anglo-American influence and control.

The application of “strong economic medicine” under helm of the IMF and the World Bank –starting in the early 1980s– sets the stage for unfolding social tensions.

Al Qaeda affiliated groups are examined in detail, as are the covert operations of western powers, with specific attention to important roles played by individual American diplomats.

We take a look at the economic situation in Mali, its agriculture, natural resources, and the plight of its people in the face of recurring famine.

The recent hostage crisis in Algeria is explored, with a focus on the perpetrators in an historical context.



Length (57:54)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Produced and hosted by Bonnie Faulkner

“Guns and Butter”. KPFA at 94.1 Berkeley

Guns & Butter” investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, “Guns & Butter: The Economics of Politics” reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state.

E-mail Bonnie at [email protected]

Live on KPFA at 01:00 PM Pacific Time: Wednesdays


البروفيسور ميشيل شوسودوفسكي

ترجمة: علي شكري

“ثمة شائعة خطيرة يجري تداولها حول العالم ويمكنها أن تفضي إلى عواقب خطيرة، مفادها أن الرئيس الإيراني قد هدد بتدمير إسرائيل، أو، طبقاً للعبارة الملفقة المنسوبة إليه “يجب محو إسرائيل من على الخارطة”. وخلافاً للاعتقاد الشائع، فإن هذا العبارة لم ترد إطلاقاً على لسانه” (أراش نوروزي، المحو عن الخارطة: شائعة العصر كانون الثاني/يناير 2007)

لقد هاجمت الولايات المتحدة، على نحو مباشر أو غير مباشر، نحو 44 بلداً في العالم منذ العام 1945، بل إنها هاجمت بعضها على نحو متكرر. وكان الهدف المعلن لتلك التدخلات العسكرية إحداث “تغيير في نظام الحكم”. وفي كل الحالات كانت تستخدم ذرائع “الديمقراطية” و”حقوق الإنسان” لتبرير تلك الأعمال الأحادية غير القانونية. (البروفيسور إريك واندل، حملة الولايات المتحدة الصليبية (1945 – )، غلوبال ريسيرتش، شباط/فبراير 2007)

هذه مذكرة [للبنتاغون] تصف كيف سنقوم باجتياح سبعة بلدان خلال خمس سنوات، بدءاً بالعراق ثم سورية، لبنان، ليبيا، الصومال، السودان، وانتهاءاً بإيران. قلت هل هي سرية للغاية؟ قال “نعم يا سيدي”، فقلت إذن لا ترني إياها.” (الجنرال ويسلي كلارك، ديموكراسي ناو، 2 آذار/مارس، 2007)

* * * * * *

إن واشنطن هي بصدد تدمير قائمة طويلة جداً من البلدان.

فمن ذا الذي يمارس “محو البلدان من على الخارطة” إذن؟ إيران أم الولايات المتحدة؟

 خلال الفترة التي تسمى من قبيل الكياسة “حقبة ما بعد الحرب”—والتي تمتد من العام 1945 وحتى الآن— شنت الولايات المتحدة هجمات عسكرية مباشرة أو غير مباشرة على أكثر من 40 بلداً.

وفيما تقوم السياسة الخارجية الأمريكية على مبدأ نشر الديمقراطية، فإن النزعة التدخلية الأمريكية –بالوسائل العسكرية والعمليات السرية—أدت إلى إشاعة عدم الاستقرار وتمزيق وحدة دول ذات سيادة.

إن تدمير الدول جزء من المشروع الإمبريالي لبسط هيمنتها العالمية. وطبقاً للمصادر الرسمية، فإن لدى الولايات المتحدة 737 قاعدة عسكرية خارج حدودها. (إحصائية 2005)

مصطلح “الدول الفاشلة”

“يتوقع” تقرير التوجهات العالمية (كانون الأول/ديسمبر 2012) الصادر عن مجلس الاستخبارات القومي في واشنطن NIC، أن تتحول 15 دولة في أفريقيا وآسيا والشرق الأوسط إلى “دول فاشلة” بحلول العام 2030 كنتيجة للمنازعات المحتملة والمعضلات البيئية.

وتشمل قائمة البلدان في تقرير المجلس للعام 2012 كلاً من أفغانستان، النيجر، مالي، كينيا، بوروندي، إثيوبيا، راوندا، الصومال، جمهورية الكونغو الديمقراطية، ملاوي، هايتي، اليمن. (انظر ص 39)

وفي تقريرها للعام 2005 والذي نشر عشية التجديد للولاية الثانية للرئيس جورج بوش، توقع مجلس الاستخبارات القومي أن تصبح الباكستان دوبة فاشلة بحلول العام 2015 “تحت تأثير الحرب الأهلية والطلبنة والصراع من أجل السيطرة على الأسلحة النووية.

وقورنت الحالة الباكستانية وقتها بيوغسلافيا التي تشظت إلى سبع دول تابعة بعد عقد من “الحروب الأهلية” التي رعاها وأدارها الناتو والولايات المتحدة.

وتوقعت NIC أن تتحول الباكستان إلى دولة شبيهة بيوغسلافيا تمزقها الحروب الأهلية وحمامات الدم والصراعات الإفليمية (إينرجي كومباس 2 آذار/مارس 2005).

وفيما يشير إلى أن الدول الفاشلة تصبح ملاذاً آمناً للمتطرفين دينياً وسياسياً (ص 143)، فإن التقرير لا يعترف بحقيقة أن الولايات المتحدة وحلفاءها قد دأبت منذ السبعينات من القرن الماضي على تقديم الدعم السري لقوى التطرف الديني كوسيلة لزعزعة استقرار دول وطنية علمانية. فكلا اليلدين باكستان وأفغانستان كان علمانياً خلال السبعينات.

الدول الفاشلة من الطراز اليوغسلافي أو الصومالي ليست نتيجة للانفسامات الاجتماعية الداخلية، بل هي هدف استراتيجي تم تحقيقه عبر العمليات السرية بما في ذلك العسكرية.

يقوم صندوق السلام Fund for Peace في واشنطون المتخصص في “الأبحاث من أجل الأمن المستدام” سنوياً بنشر مؤشر الدول الفاشلة Failed States Index بالاستناد إلى تقييم المخاطر (انظر الخارطة). ثمة 33 دولة جرى تصنيفها كدول فاشة (ضمن فئتي الإنذار Alert أو التنبيه Warn).

ووفقاً لصندوق السلام، فإن “الدول الفاشلة” هي أهداف للإرهابيين المرتبطين بالقاعدة.

ويأتي التصنيف التراتبي السنوي لصندوق السلام ومجلة فورين بوليسي للدول الفاشلة والهشة بمؤشرات عالمية مثيرة للقلق في وقت تتصاعد فيه المخاوف الدولية من إقامة المتطرفين المرتبطين بالقاعدة دويلة حاضنة في شمال مالي لتوسيع نشاطاتهم الجهادية.

وبطبيعة الحال، لم يشر التفرير إلى تاريخ القاعدة بوصفها أداة استخبارية أمريكية أو إلى دورها في نشر الانقسامات والاضطرابات في الشرق الأوسط وآسيا الوسطى وأفريقيا، حيث تشكل نشاطاتها في معظم هذه المناطق جزءاً من الأجندات الاستخبارية السرية الشيطانية.

الدول الضعيفة والفاشلة: تهديد لأمريكا

بمنطق ملتوٍ، يزعم الكونغرس الأمريكي أن الدول الفاشلة الضعيفة إنما تمثل تهديداً لأمن الولايات المتحدة. وتتضمن هذه “عدداً من التهديدات الصادرة عن دول توصف بدرجات متفاوتة كدول ضعيفة، هشة، واهنة، غير مستقرة، مضطربة، فاشلة، مأزومة، أو منهارة“.

عندما انتهت الحرب الباردة في مطلع التسعينات، لاحظ المحللون تشكل بيئة جديدة للأمن الدولي تصبح فيها الدول الفاشلة والضعيفة منصات للجريمة المنظمة العابرة للحدود، وانتشار المواد والتكنولوجيا النووية، وبؤراً ساخنة للمنازعات الأهلية والأزمات الإنسانية. وأصبحت احتمالات المخاطر التي تمثلها الدول الفاشلة والضعيفة أكثر وضوحاً مع هجوم القاعدة في 11 أيلول/سبتمبر 2001 على الولايات المتحدة التي دبرها أسامة بن لادن من ملاذه الآمن الذي وفرته له أفغانستان. وقد دفعت أحداث 11/9 الرئيس جورج دبليو بوش إلى الزعم (في وثيقة استراتيجية الأمن القومي الأمريكي للعام 2002) بأن “الدول الضعيفة، مثل أفغانستان، يمكن أن تمثل خطراً على مصالحنا القومية لا يقل عما تمثله الدول القوية.” (الدول الضعيفة والفاشلة: المخاطر المتنامية والسياسة الأمريكية، تقرير مركز خدمات أبحاث الكونغرس CRS إلى الكونغرس، واشنطن 2008)

ما أغفله تقرير مركز خدمات أبحاث الكونغرس هو أن “البؤر النشطة للجريمة المنظمة والنزاعات الأهلية” إنما هي ناتجة عن العمليات الاستخبارية السرية الأمريكية.

 من الحقائق الموثقة جيداً، أن اقتصاد المخدرات الأفغاني الذي ينتج أكثر من 90% من إجمالي الإنتاج العالمي من الهيروين يتشابك مع عمليات تبييض أموال بالمليارات تشارك فيها كبرى المؤسسات المالية العالمية. وتحظى تجارة المخدرات الأفغانية بحماية الـCIA وقوات الاحتلال الأطلسي في ذلك البلد.

تصنيف سورية كـ”بلد فاشل”

تهيء الفظائع التي ارتكبت بحق الشعب السوري من قبل الجيش السوري الحر المدعوم أمريكياً وأطلسياً الشروط الضرورية لحرب طائفية. ومن شأن التطرف الطائفي تحطيم سورية كدولة وطنية واضمحلال السلطة المركزية في دمشق.

إن هدف السياسة الخارجية لواشنطن هو تحويل سورية إلى ما يسميه المجلس الاستخباري القومي الأمريكي NIC “بلداً فاشلاً”. فتغيير النظام يعني المحافظة على وجود سلطة مركزية، ولكن تطور الأزمة السورية يشي بأن “تغيير النظام” لم يعد هو الهدف، بل تقسيم وتدمير سورية كدولة وطنية.

فالاستراتيجية الأمريكية-الأطلسية-الإسرائيلية تقوم على تقسيم البلاد إلى ثلاث دول ضعيفة. حيث نجد أن آخر التقارير الإخبارية تزعم إنه “إذا رفض بشار الأسد التنازل عن السلطة” فإن “البديل سيكون بلداً فاشلاً كالصومال.”

أحد السيناريوهات المحتملة للتقسيم والذي جاء في تقرير صحفي إسرائيلي، يتضمن دويلات “مستقلة” سنية وعلوية-شيعية وكردية ودرزية.

فبحسب الجنرال في الجيش الإسرائيلي يائير غولان فإن “سورية هي في حرب أهلية ستنتهي بها دولة فاشلة يزدهر فيها الإرهاب.” ويضيف الجنرال غولان بأن الجيش الإسرائيلي يقوم حالياً بتحليل “الكيفية التي ستتشظى بها سورية” (رويترز 31 أيار/مايو، 2012)

في شهر تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر الماضي، صرح مبعوث السلام الأممي الاخضر الابراهيمي بأن سورية قد تتحول إلى “صومال أخرى”، …”محذراً من سيناريو تملأ فيه المليشيات وأمراء الحرب الفراغ الذي سيخلفه انهيار سلطة الدولة.” (رويترز 22 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر، 2012)

“ما أخشاه هو الأسوء …انهيار الدولة وتحول سورية إلى صومال أخرى.”

“أعتقد بأنه ما لم يتم التعامل مع القضية بشكل صحيح، فإن الخطر هو “الصوملة” وليس التقسيم؛ انهيار الدولة وبروز أمراء الحرب والميليشيات والجماعات المقاتلة.” (المصدر السابق)

بيد أن المبعوث الأممي للسلام لم يشر إلى حقيقة أن تحطيم الصومال كان عملاً مدبراً. لقد كان جزءاً من خطة عسكرية واستخبارية أمريكية سرية، يعاد تطبيقها حالياً في عدد من البلدان المستهدفة في الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا وآسيا والتي تصنف كـ”بلدان فاشلة”.

السؤال المركزي هو: من ذا الذي يُفشل الدول فيجعلها فاشلة؟ من الذي “يمحيها عن الوجود”؟

إن التفتيت المدبر لسورية كدولة ذات سيادة لهو جزء متكامل من خطة عسكرية واستخبارية تشمل أيضاً كلاً من لبنان وإيران وباكستان. فبحسب “تنبؤات” المجلس القومي للاستخبارات [الأمريكية]، فإن تفتيت باكستان مخطط للإنجاز خلال السنوات الثلاث المقبلة.

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Why does it seem like wherever there is human suffering, some giant bank is making money off of it?  According to a new report from the World Development Movement, Goldman Sachs made about 400 million dollarsbetting on food prices last year.  Overall, 2012 was quite a banner year for Goldman Sachs.  As I reported in a previous article, revenues for Goldman increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and the price of Goldman stock has risen by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months.  It is estimated that the average banker at Goldman brought in a pay and bonus package of approximately $396,500 for 2012.  So without a doubt, Goldman Sachs is swimming in money right now.  But what is the price for all of this “success”?

Many claim that the rampant speculation on food prices by the big banks has dramatically increased the global price of food and has caused the suffering of hundreds of millions of poor families around the planet to become much worse.  At this point, global food prices are more than twice as high as they were back in 2003.  Approximately 2 billion people on the planet spend at least half of their incomes on food, and close to a billion people regularly do not have enough food to eat.  Is it moral for Goldman Sachs and other big banks such as Barclays and Morgan Stanley to make hundreds of millions of dollars betting on the price of food if that is going to drive up global food prices and make it harder for poor families all over the world to feed themselves?

This is another reason why the derivatives bubble is so bad for the world economy.  Goldman Sachs and other big banks are treating the global food supply as if it was some kind of a casino game.  This kind of reckless activity was greatly condemned by the World Development Movement report

“Goldman Sachs is the global leader in a trade that is driving food prices up while nearly a billion people are hungry. The bank lobbied for the financial deregulation that made it possible to pour billions into the commodity derivative markets, created the necessary financial instruments, and is now raking in the profits. Speculation is fuelling volatility and food price spikes, hurting people who struggle to afford food across the world.”

So shouldn’t there be a law against this kind of a thing?

Well, in the United States there actually is, but the law has been blocked by the big Wall Street banks and their very highly paid lawyers.  The following is another excerpt from the report

“The US has passed legislation to limit speculation, but the controls have not been implemented due to a legal challenge from Wall Street spearheaded by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, of which Goldman Sachs is a leading member. Similar legislation is on the table at the EU, but the UK government has so far opposed effective controls. Goldman Sachs has lobbied against controls in both the US and the EU.”

Posted below is a chart that shows what this kind of activity has done to commodity prices over the past couple of decades.  You will notice that commodity prices were fairly stable in the 1990s, but since the year 2000 they have been extremely volatile…

Commodity Prices

The reason for all of this volatility was explained in an excellent articleby Frederick Kaufman

The money tells the story. Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50-fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities — including food — seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. “You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities,” an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.

The money flowed, and the bankers were ready with a sparkling new casino of food derivatives. Spearheaded by oil and gas prices (the dominant commodities of the index funds) the new investment products ignited the markets of all the other indexed commodities, which led to a problem familiar to those versed in the history of tulips, dot-coms, and cheap real estate: a food bubble. Hard red spring wheat, which usually trades in the $4 to $6 dollar range per 60-pound bushel, broke all previous records as the futures contract climbed into the teens and kept on going until it topped $25. And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent –and has kept rising.

Are you angry yet?

You should be.

Poor families all over the planet are suffering so that Wall Street bankers can make bigger profits.

It’s disgusting.

Many big financial institutions just seem to love to make money on the backs of the poor.  I have previously reported on how JP Morgan makes billions of dollars issuing food stamp cards in the United States.  When the number of Americans on food stamps goes up, so does the amount of money that JP Morgan makes.  You can read much more about all of this right here: “Making Money On Poverty: JP Morgan Makes Bigger Profits When The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Goes Up“.

Sadly, the global food supply is getting tighter with each passing day, and things are looking rather ominous for the years ahead.

According to the United Nations, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years.  Global food reserves have not been this low since 1974, but the population of the world has greatly increased since then.  If 2013 is another year of drought and bad harvests, things could spiral out of control rather quickly…

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.

“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The world has barely been able to feed itself for some time now.  In fact, we have consumed more food than we have produced for 6 of the last 11 years

Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”

“Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we’ll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production.”

We desperately need a good growing season next summer, and all eyes are on the United States.  The U.S. exports more food than anyone else does, and last summer the United States experienced the worst drought that it had seen in about 50 years.  That drought left deep scars all over the country.  The following is from a recent Rolling Stone article

In 2012, more than 9 million acres went up in flames in this country. Only dredging and some eleventh-hour rain kept the mighty Mississippi River from being shut down to navigation due to low water levels; continuing drought conditions make “long-term stabilization” of river levels unlikely in the near future. Several of the Great Lakes are soon expected to hit their lowest levels in history. In Nebraska last summer, a 100-mile stretch of the Platte River simply dried up. Drought led the USDA to declare federal disaster areas in 2,245 counties in 39 states last year, and the federal government will likely have to pay tens of billions for crop insurance and lost crops. As ranchers became increasingly desperate to feed their livestock, “hay rustling” and other agricultural crimes rose.

Ranchers were hit particularly hard.  Because they couldn’t feed their herds, many ranchers slaughtered a tremendous number of animals.  As a result, the U.S. cattle herd is now sitting at a 60 year low.

What do you think that is going to do to meat prices over the next few years?

Meanwhile, the drought continues.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, this is one of the worst winter droughts the U.S. has ever seen.  At this point, more than 60 percent of the entire nation is currently experiencing drought.

If things don’t turn around dramatically, 2013 could be an absolutely nightmarish year for crops in the United States.  If 2013 does turn out to be another bad year, food prices would soar both in the U.S. and on the global level.  The following is from a recent CNBC article

The severe drought that swept through much of the U.S. last year is continuing into 2013, threatening to cripple economic growth while forcing consumers to pay higher food prices.

“The drought will have a significant impact on prices, especially beef, pork and chicken,” said Ernie Gross, an economic professor at Creighton University and who studies farming issues.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

It looks like higher food prices are on the way, and millions of poor families all over the planet will be hard-pressed to feed their families.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Part of the NATO Patriot anti-missile complexes, which were requested by Ankara from the Alliance, has already arrived in Turkey. They are planned to be deployed near the border with Syria, ostensibly to protect Turkey against possible missile attacks from the Syrian side.

Anti-missile complexes will be also located in the southeastern province of Kahramanmarash. Contrary to the authorities’ assertions that Patriots will only carry out defensive tasks, locals have serious concerns about their safety.

“We strongly object to the deployment of the NATO military facilities in the territory of Turkey since this exacerbates our relations with our neighbors, which were at an excellent level only 10 years ago. We went through that in 1991, when the missiles were deployed in Incirlik. Then, too, it was asserted that they were destined exclusively for defensive purposes. However, this did not prevent full-scale and unreasonable bombings of Iraq”, Esat Shengul, head of the regional branch of the main opposition Republican People’s Party said to the Voice of Russia.

In his opinion, the deployment of Patriots is part of the American Greater Middle East project, aimed at providing free access to energy resources.

Head of the local branch of the Nationalist Movement Party Mustafa Bastirmaji agrees with Shengul. “The West is trying to cause a clash between the peoples of the region. Moreover, it tries to unleash a Sunni-Shiite war in the region. Elements of such a confrontation are already evident in Syria. Later Iran’s turn will come. And it is scary to imagine what will happen then. We do not want it”, the politician stated in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

Turkish activists rally against NATO’s Patriot deployment

Turks have rallied against the NATO deployment of Patriot missiles on the country’s soil, media report.

Some 150 leftists and right-wing activists lit smoke bombs and burned an American flag outside the port area as dozens of camouflaged German military vehicles carrying Patriot batteries were offloaded in Iskenderun.

Another rally in downtown Iskenderun later gathered thousands of anti-NATO protesters, who chanted “Yankee go home!” and “Murderer America, get out of the Middle East!”

Some protesters said the root of evil was the “collaborationist government,” and not Syria. Riot police arrested several demonstrators.

NATO in Syria: The Cost of a “New Libya”

January 24th, 2013 by Maximilian Forte

As the War on Terror enters its second decade, the rhetoric of fear remains effective in silencing opposition to warrantless surveillance, which—along with drone strikes and indefinite detention—seems immune to meaningful legislative oversight or judicial review.

In the name of “national security,” what was once considered in violation of basic precepts of American justice, today is passed off as nothing more than the status quo. And barely a word of outrage is heard.

While pundits and partisans argue about what President Obama’s second inaugural address bodes for the next four years of political in-fighting, the assault on privacy rights that began under George W. Bush shows no signs of abating under Obama. Just before the New Year, the President signed into law an extension to a warrantless intercept program that infringes on basic legal precepts of privacy and, many argue, directly contradicts the Fourth Amendment.

In all the drama surrounding the “fiscal cliff,” the renewal of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA)—the 2008 legislation that allows for warrantless surveillance of the emails, text messages, and internet searches of US citizens—seems to have slipped under the radar.

Under the renewed law, for the next five years the National Security Agency (NSA) can eavesdrop without a warrant on US citizens who are suspected of engaging in conversations with suspicious non-US-citizens. Conversations have to contain “foreign intelligence information”—but exactly how this broad term is interpreted by the NSA is unclear. What’s more, a FISA order on one specific person can be used against entire groups, potentially meaning blanket surveillance on thousands of Americans at a time.

The 2008 FAA was created in the wake of a journalistic expose revealing how the Bush Administration had circumvented a previous law—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. That earlier FISA had mandated that the NSA obtain a warrant from a special court if it wanted to spy on Americans. When confronted with the Administration’s blatant law breaking, Congress took the route of least resistance, crafting the FAA, which retroactively immunized the culpable parties. It also entrenched the Bush-era blanket surveillance as law.

“Not Reasonably Possible”

Federal courts, routinely deferring to the executive’s assertion of the “state secrets” privilege, have hitherto stiff-armed challenges to FAA.  Indeed, it is so swathed in secrecy that not even those who voted for the invasive program fully understand it. When Senators Ron Wyden [D-OR] and Mark Udall [D-CO] asked last May for a rough estimate of how many Americans have been targeted through the FAA, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) responded: “I’m sorry. That’s not reasonably possible”.

In response to another letter from Wyden in July, the DNI  conceded that “on at least one occasion the government’s implementation of section 702 of FISA has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law,” and that it was “unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” The Wall Street Journal said that this “represented the first time the government has acknowledged U.S. spy activities violated the Constitution.”

Wyden was joined in opposition to the FAA by Senator Rand Paul [R-KY], who said that reauthorization of FISA would be “unconstitutional.”

“Over the past few decades, our right to privacy has been eroded.” Paul said. “The Fourth Amendment was written in a different time and a different age, but its necessity and its truth are timeless.”

But such warnings were disregarded by the majority, as the Senate voted 73-23 to reauthorize the Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid justified this action, claiming it was essential in the fight against terrorists.

Channeling Dick Cheney, Senator Reid warned that without it, “We will be giving terrorists the opportunity to plot against our country undetected. [Sen. Paul] is threatening to take away the best tools we have for stopping them.”

Exactly how these “tools” are being used is still unclear. During committee debate in December, the Senate rejected all proposed amendments that might have brought some transparency to the FAA. These included a modest proposal from Wyden, which didn’t seek to take any power away from the NSA. It would merely have required the agency to report each year to Congress on how its surveillance was affecting American citizens. Even that tepid and modest request was out of bounds.


Al-Qaida nel Maghreb islamico: Chi sono e chi c’è dietro?

January 24th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, 21 gennaio 2013
Chi c’è dietro il gruppo terroristico che ha attaccato il complesso gasifero della BP-Statoil-Sonatrach del giacimento di Amenas, che si trova al confine con la Libia nel sud-est dell’Algeria?
L’operazione era stata coordinata da Moqtar Belmoqtar, leader della brigata islamista al-Mulathamin, o “coloro che si firmano con il sangue”, affiliata ad al-Qaida. L’organizzazione di Belmoqtar è coinvolta nel traffico di droga, nel contrabbando e nel sequestro di stranieri nel Nord Africa. Sebbene la sua ubicazione sia nota, l’intelligence francese ha soprannominato Belmoqtar “l’imprendibile”. Belmoqtar si è assunta la responsabilità, per conto di al-Qaida, del rapimento di 41 ostaggi occidentali, tra cui 7 statunitensi, nel complesso gasifero della alla BP di Amenas. Belmoqtar, tuttavia, non è stato direttamente coinvolto nell’attacco vero e proprio. Il comandante sul campo dell’operazione era Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri, un veterano jihadista del Niger, che aveva fatto parte del Gruppo Algerino per la Predicazione e il Combattimento (GSPC) nel 2005. (Albawaba, 17 gennaio 2013)
L’operazione per il sequestro di Amenas è stata effettuata cinque giorni dopo l’avvio degli attacchi aerei della Francia contro i militanti di al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico (AQIM) nel nord del Mali. Le forze speciali francesi e le truppe del Mali hanno ripreso il controllo di Diabaly e Konna, due cittadine a nord di Mopti. La città di Diabaly era stata apparentemente presa pochi giorni prima dai combattenti guidati da uno dei principali comandanti di AQIM, Abdelhamid Abu Zeid. Mentre l’attacco terroristico e il sequestro dell’impianto gasifero d’In Amenas è stato descritto come una vendetta, non è stata per nulla improvvisato, come confermato dagli analisti, l’operazione con ogni probabilità è stata pianificata con largo anticipo: “Ufficiali europei e statunitensi dicono che il raid era quasi certamente fin troppo elaborato, per essere stato pianificato in così breve tempo, anche se l’operazione della Francia avrebbe spinto i combattenti a condurre un assalto che avevano già preparato.”
Secondo i recenti rapporti (20 gennaio 2012) ci sono state circa 80 vittime, tra ostaggi e combattenti jihadisti. Vi erano diverse centinaia di lavoratori nell’impianto gasifero, la maggior parte dei quali  algerini. “Tra le persone soccorse, solo 107 su 792 lavoratori erano stranieri”, secondo il ministero degli Interni algerino. I governi britannico e francese incolpano i jihadisti. Secondo il primo ministro britannico David Cameron: “Naturalmente la gente farà delle domande sulla reazione algerina a questi eventi, ma vorrei solo dire che la responsabilità di queste morti ricade direttamente sui terroristi che hanno lanciato questo attacco, feroce e vile. (Reuters, 20 gennaio 2013).
Notizie di stampa confermano, tuttavia, che il gran numero di morti tra gli ostaggi e i combattenti islamici è stato il risultato dei bombardamenti delle forze algerine. Dei negoziati con i rapitori, che avrebbero potuto salvare delle vite, non sono stati seriamente contemplati né dai governi algerini né da quelli occidentali. I militanti chiedevano la fine degli attacchi francesi nel nord del Mali, in cambio della sicurezza per gli ostaggi. Il leader di al-Qaida Belmoqtar aveva affermato: “Siamo pronti a negoziare con l’occidente e il governo algerino, a condizione che s’interrompano i bombardamenti dei musulmani del Mali.” (Reuters, 20 gennaio 2013) Nelle fila dei jihadisti vi erano mercenari provenienti da un certo numero di paesi musulmani, tra cui la Libia (ancora da confermare), così come dei combattenti provenienti da paesi occidentali.

Al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico (AQIM). Chi è?
Vi è un certo numero di gruppi affiliati attivamente presenti nel nord del Mali:
• Al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico (AQIM), guidato da Abdelmaleq Druqdel, “l’emiro di al-Qaida nel Maghreb islamico”,
• Ansar al-Din guidato da Iyad Ag Ghaly,
• il Movimento per l’Unicità e la Jihad in Africa occidentale (MUJAO).
Il Gruppo Islamico Armato, o Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) che era in primo piano negli anni ’90, è in gran parte defunto. I suoi membri hanno aderito ad AQIM.
Il Movimento Nazionale per la Liberazione del Azawad (MNLA) è un movimento per l’indipendenza tuareg, nazionalista e laico.
Cenni storici
Nel settembre 2006, il Gruppo Salafita per la Predicazione e il Combattimento (GSPC) unì le forze con al-Qaida. Il GSPC è stato fondato da Hassan Hattab, un ex comandante del GIA. Nel gennaio 2007, il gruppo mutò ufficialmente il nome in al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico (AQIM). Nei primi mesi del 2007 la nuova formazione stabilì stretti rapporti con il Gruppo combattente islamico libico (LIFG). I comandanti del GSPC si ispirano all’insegnamento religioso del salafismo dell’Arabia Saudita, che storicamente ha svolto un ruolo importante nell’addestramento dei mujahidin in Afghanistan. La storia dei comandanti jihadisti di AQIM è importante per affrontare la questione più ampia:
• Chi c’è dietro le varie fazioni affiliate ad al-Qaida?
• Chi sostiene i terroristi?
• Quali interessi politici ed economici servono?
Il Counsil on Foreign Relations (CFR) di Washington fa risalire le origini di AQIM alla guerra in Afghanistan: “La maggior parte dei leader principali di AQIM si crede sia stato addestrata in Afghanistan durante la guerra contro i sovietici, nel 1979-1989, nell’ambito del gruppo di volontari del Nord Africa conosciuto come “arabi afghani”, che ritornarono nella regione e radicalizzarono i movimenti islamici, negli anni che seguirono. Il gruppo è diviso in “katiba” o brigate, che  raggruppano cellule diverse e spesso indipendenti. Il comandante supremo del gruppo, o emiro, dal 2004 è Abdelmaleq Druqdel, noto anche come Abu Mussab Abdelwadud, un ingegnere esperto di esplosivi che ha combattuto in Afghanistan ed ha origini nel GIA in Algeria. Fu sotto la guida di Druqdel che AQIM dichiarò che la Francia è il suo obiettivo principale. Uno dei “più violenti e radicali” leader di AQIM è Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, secondo gli esperti di antiterrorismo. Abu Zied è legato a diversi rapimenti ed esecuzioni di cittadini europei nella regione. (Council on Foreign Relations, al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico,, senza data).
Ciò che il rapporto del CFR non riesce a ricordare è che la Jihad islamica in Afghanistan fu un’iniziativa della CIA, avviata nel 1979 durante l’amministrazione Carter. Venne attivamente sostenuta dal presidente Ronald Reagan nel corso degli anni ’80. Nel 1979, la più grande operazione segreta nella storia della CIA venne attuata in Afghanistan. Missionari wahabiti provenienti dall’Arabia Saudita crearono delle scuole coraniche (madrase) in Pakistan e Afghanistan. I libri di testo islamici utilizzati nelle madrasse venivano stampati e pubblicati in Nebraska. Il finanziamento occulto veniva incanalato ai mujahidin con il sostegno della CIA: “Con l’attivo incoraggiamento della CIA e dell’ISI pakistano, che volevano trasformare la jihad afghana in una guerra globale condotta da tutti gli stati musulmani contro l’Unione Sovietica, circa 35.000 musulmani radicali provenienti da 40 paesi islamici si unirono alla lotta in Afghanistan, tra il 1982 e il 1992. Decine di migliaia di persone andarono a studiare nelle madrase pakistane. Alla fine, più di 100.000 musulmani radicali stranieri furono direttamente influenzati dalla jihad afghana.” (Ahmed Rashid,”I taliban: l’esportazione dell’estremismo”, Foreign Affairs, novembre-dicembre 1999).
La Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), usando i militari pakistani dell’Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), svolse un ruolo chiave nell’addestramento dei mujahidin. A sua volta, l’addestramento dei guerriglieri sponsorizzati dalla CIA venne integrato con gli insegnamenti dell’Islam: “Nel marzo 1985, il presidente Reagan firmava la Decisione direttiva per la Sicurezza Nazionale N° 166, … [che] autorizzava [l']intensificazione degli aiuti militari occulti ai mujahidin, e chiariva che la guerra segreta afghana aveva un nuovo obiettivo: sconfiggere le truppe sovietiche in Afghanistan attraverso azioni occulte e incoraggiare il ritiro sovietico. La nuova assistenza segreta degli Stati Uniti iniziò con un drammatico aumento delle forniture di armi, un costante aumento fino a 65.000 tonnellate all’anno nel 1987… così come un “flusso incessante” di specialisti della CIA e del Pentagono che si recarono al quartier generale segreto dell’ISI pakistana, sulla strada principale di Rawalpindi, in Pakistan. Gli specialisti della CIA incontrarono i funzionari dell’intelligence pakistana per pianificare le operazioni dei ribelli afghani.” (Steve Coll, Washington Post, 19 luglio 1992)
Moqtar Belmoqtar, la mente dietro l’attacco terroristico della brigata islamista al-Mulathamin al  complesso gasifero di Amenas, è uno dei membri fondatori di AQIM. Fu addestrato e reclutato dalla CIA in Afghanistan. Belmoqtar era un volontario nordafricano, un “afgano arabo” arruolatosi a 19 anni come mujahidin per combattere nelle fila di al-Qaida in Afghanistan, in un momento in cui la CIA e la sua affiliata pakistana, l’Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), sostenevano attivamente sia il reclutamento che l’addestramento dei jihadisti. Moqtar Belmoqar ha combattuto nella “guerra civile” in Afghanistan. Tornato in Algeria nel 1993, si unì al GSPC. La storia di Belmoqtar e il suo coinvolgimento in Afghanistan suggeriscono che sia stato sponsorizzato quale “asset dell’intelligence” statunitense.

Il ruolo degli alleati degli USA: Arabia Saudita e Qatar
Al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico (AQIM) fin dal 2007 aveva stabilito una stretta relazione con il Gruppo combattente islamico libico (LIFG), i cui leader erano stati addestrati e reclutati in Afghanistan dalla CIA. Il LIFG era sostenuto segretamente dalla CIA e dall’MI6 britannico. Il LIFG è stato supportato direttamente dalla NATO durante la guerra del 2011 contro la Libia, “fornendo  armi, addestramento, forze speciali e perfino aerei per aiutarlo a rovesciare il governo della Libia.” (Tony Cartalucci, The Geopolitical Reordering of Africa: US Covert Support to Al Qaeda in Northern Mali, France “Comes to the Rescue”, Global Research, gennaio 2013).
Le Forze speciali britanniche SAS giunsero in Libia prima dell’inizio dell’insurrezione, in qualità di consulenti militari del LIFG. Recentemente, relazioni confermano che AQIM ha ricevuto armi dal Gruppo combattente islamico libico (LIFG). Mercenari del LIFG si sono integrati nelle brigate di AQIM. Secondo il comandante Moqtar Belmoqtar, che ha coordinato l’operazione del sequestro  di In Amenas: “Siamo uno dei principali beneficiari delle rivoluzioni nel mondo arabo. Per quanto ci riguarda, abbiamo ottenuto delle armi (dalla Libia), questa è una cosa naturale in simili circostanze.”
L’impianto della BP ad In Amenas è situato direttamente sul confine con la Libia. Si sospetta che vi fosse un contingente di combattenti del Gruppo combattente islamico libico (LIFG) coinvolto nell’operazione. AQIM ha anche legami con il Fronte al-Nusra in Siria, sostenuto segretamente da Arabia Saudita e Qatar.
Al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico è indelebilmente legato all’agenda delle intelligence occidentali. È descritto come “uno dei più ricchi e più armati gruppi militanti della regione”, finanziato segretamente da Arabia Saudita e Qatar. Il giornale francese Canard enchaîné ha rivelato (nel giugno 2012) che il Qatar (un fedele alleato degli Stati Uniti) ha finanziato varie entità terroristiche in Mali, tra cui il salafita Ansar al-Din: “I ribelli tuareg del MNLA (indipendentisti e laici), Ansar al-Din, AQIM (al-Qaida nel Maghreb islamico) e Mujao (Jihad in Africa occidentale), ricevono dollari dal Qatar, secondo un rapporto (The Examiner). Il giornale satirico francese Canard enchaîné riportava [nel giugno 2012] che il Qatar stava probabilmente finanziando gruppi armati nel nord del Mali, che si diffondevano in Algeria e nell’Africa occidentale. I sospetti che Ansar al-Din, il principale gruppo armato pro-shari’ah nella regione, abbia ricevuto finanziamenti dal Qatar, circolano in Mali da diversi mesi. Rapporti (ancora non confermati) su un aereo del ‘Qatar’ che sarebbe atterrato a Gao carico di armi, denaro e droga, per esempio, sono emersi all’inizio del conflitto. L’articolo originale cita un rapporto dell’intelligence militare francese che indicava che il Qatar forniva sostegno finanziario a tutti e tre i principali gruppi armati nel nord del Mali: l’Ansar al-Din di Iyad Ag Ghali, al-Qaida nel Maghreb Islamico (AQIM) e il Movimento per l’Unicità e la Jihad in Africa occidentale (MUJAO). L’importo del finanziamento concesso a ciascuno dei gruppi non viene menzionato, ma si parla di rapporti ripetuti del DGSE francese al ministero della Difesa, che indicavano il sostegno del Qatar al ‘terrorismo’ nel nord del Mali.”
Il ruolo di al-Qaida nel Maghreb islamico come attività dell’intelligence deve essere attentamente valutata. L’insurrezione islamica crea le condizioni che favoriscono la destabilizzazione politica del Mali come Stato-nazione. Quali interessi geopolitici vengono serviti?
Osservazioni conclusive: “The American Sudan”
Con amara ironia, il sequestro nel sud dell’Algeria e la tragedia risultante dall’operazione militare di “salvataggio” algerina, fornisce una giustificazione umanitaria all’intervento militare occidentale guidato dall’US AFRICOM. Quest’ultimo non opera solo in Mali e Algeria. Potrebbe anche includere la vasta regione che si estende sulla cintura sub-sahariana del Sahel, dalla Mauritania al confine occidentale del Sudan. Questa escalation è parte di un piano militare e strategico degli Stati Uniti, fase segeunte della militarizzazione del continente africano, “un passo successivo” della guerra USA-NATO in Libia del 2011. Si tratta di un progetto di conquista neo-coloniale degli Stati Uniti di una vasta area.
Mentre la Francia è l’ex potenza coloniale che interviene a nome di Washington, la fine del gioco  vedrà l’esclusione della Francia, infine, dal Maghreb e dall’Africa sub-sahariana. Questo declassamento della Francia come potenza coloniale, è stato avviato fin dalla guerra di Indocina nel 1950. Mentre gli Stati Uniti si preparano, a breve, a condividere il bottino di guerra con la Francia, l’obiettivo ultimo di Washington è “ridisegnare la mappa del continente africano” e infine portare l’Africa francofona nella sfera di influenza statunitense. Quest’ultima si estenderebbe su tutto il continente, dalla Mauritania sull’Atlantico a Sudan, Etiopia e Somalia. Un analogo processo di esclusione della Francia dall’Africa francofona è in corso dal 1990 in Ruanda, Burundi e  Repubblica del Congo. A sua volta, il francese quale lingua ufficiale nell’Africa francofona, viene insidiato. Oggi in Ruanda l’inglese è la lingua ufficiale, accanto al kinyarwanda e al francese. Da quando l’RPF è al governo, dal 1994, l’istruzione secondaria veniva offerta in francese o in inglese. Ma dal 2009 viene offerta solo in inglese. L’università, dal 1994, non utilizza più il francese. (Il presidente del Ruanda Paul Kagame non legge o non parla francese). Nel 2009, il Rwanda entrava a far parte del Commonwealth.
La posta in gioco è un vasto territorio che, durante il periodo coloniale francese copriva l’Africa occidentale ed equatoriale francese. Il Mali durante il periodo francese veniva indicato come Le Soudan français (il Sudan francese). Ironia della sorte, questo processo di indebolimento e, infine, di esclusione della Francia dall’Africa francofona viene effettuato con l’avallo tacito dell’ex presidente Nicolas Sarkozy e del presidente François Hollande, entrambi al servizio degli interessi geopolitici degli Stati Uniti, a danno di quelli della Repubblica francese. La militarizzazione del continente africano fa parte del mandato dell’US AFRICOM. L’obiettivo a lungo termine è esercitare il controllo geopolitico e militare su una vasta area, che storicamente rientrava nella sfera d’influenza della Francia. Questa zona è ricca di petrolio, gas, oro, uranio e minerali strategici. (Cfr. R. Teichman, The War on Mali. What you Should Know: An Eldorado of Uranium, Gold, Petroleum, Strategic Minerals…, Global Research, 15 gennaio 2013)
Copyright © 2013 Global Research

The Biggest Bubble In History: Fraud

January 24th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Forget the Housing, Bond or Derivatives Bubbles … Fraud Is the Biggest Bubble of All Time

The housing bubble which burst in 2007 or so was the biggest bubble of all time.

Many argue that the bubble in U.S. bonds has surpassed the housing bubble as the largest ever.

Of course, given that the derivatives market is more than a thousand trillion dollars, and that is is backed by thousands of times less collateral, a good case can be made for arguing that derivatives are the biggest bubble.

But if you really think about it, the largest bubble in history is fraud, because it includes all of the above and more.

Specifically, the housing crisis was caused by fraud. The government encouraged fraud, and helped cover it up.

Huge swaths of the derivatives market are manipulated by fraud. See this, this, this and this. But instead of cracking down on the fraud, the government is backing it.

And the bubble in bonds was caused by super-low interest rates. See this, this and this.

Low interest rates – in turn – are caused by the government’s zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing.

And how did the government sell these programs? By saying that they were necessary to help the economy and create more jobs.

But in reality, zero interest rate policy is just another stealth bailout for the big banks. And quantitative easing only helps the super-elite … and hurt the economy and the little guy (Bernanke knew back in 1988 that QE doesn’t work for its advertised purposes.)

In other words, the government’s low interest rate policies were based upon a fundamental misrepresentation as to their purpose and probable effect.

Indeed, experts say that all bubbles are enabled by fraud.

But there are signs that the fraud bubble is collapsing.

Trust is falling to all-time lows as to many government and private institutions. Why? Because institutional corruption is so rampant that it is becoming obvious to everyone from Joe Sixpack to amateur and sophisticated professional investors.

While liberals tend to distrust big corporations and conservatives tend to distrust the federal government, we all agree that the malignant, symbiotic relationship between the two is the root problem. Indeed, when government and corporatism merge, it is hard for anyone to trust what is going on.

When government officials are as corrupt as the criminal enterprises they are suppose to regulate, even the mainstream media can’t ignore it any longer.

And the people lose all trust in the system.

No matter how hard the boys work to cover up their ongoing misdeeds, the fraud bubble may finally be popping …

Only thirteen days after starting a war in Mali, France is massively escalating its troop presence there, even as reports emerge of escalating ethnic killings by French-backed Malian troops.

On Tuesday the Malian regime extended the state of emergency declared on January 11 for three months. At the same time, French and Malian troops set up positions in central Mali around the strategic airfield at Sévaré.

The airfield was reportedly the main initial target of the French intervention. Paris wanted to keep it from falling into the hands of the northern-based Malian opposition, so France could use the airfield to fly troops and equipment into the region.

French forces are also blocking journalists from reporting from the war zone, to slow the stream of reports of killings of and atrocities against civilians by French and French-backed Malian forces. In Sévaré, at least 11 people were killed at a military camp, near its bus station and its hospital. “Credible information” pointed to about 20 other executions, with the bodies “buried hastily, notably in wells,” the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) reported.

A witness said the Malian army “gathered all the people who didn’t have national identity cards and the people they suspected of being close to the Islamists to execute them, and put them in two different wells near a bus station.” The soldiers allegedly poured gasoline into the wells and set them ablaze to hide the evidence.

Residents of Mopti in central Mali said that the Malian army had arrested, interrogated, and tortured innocent civilians, because the army thought that they were involved in the rebellion. Many Tuareg, who originally controlled the north, fled south when the Islamists took over and are being singled out for reprisals. Amnesty International claims to have evidence of extrajudicial killings of Tuareg civilians, the indiscriminate shelling of a Tuareg camp, and the killing of livestock.

A woman of the Fulani ethnic group described her situation: “The army suspects us—if we look like Fulani and don’t have an identity card, they kill us. But many people are born in small villages and it’s very difficult to have identification. We are all afraid. There are some households where Fulanis or others who are fair-skinned don’t go out any more. We have stopped wearing our traditional clothes—we are being forced to abandon our culture, and to stay indoors.”

The Malian army has a record of ethnic killings. Last September a truck with eighteen preachers from Mauritania crossed the border at Diabaly on their way to Bamako for a conference. Though none were armed and they had papers indicating their mission, all were massacred by the troops manning the border checkpoint.

Asked about abuses committed by Malian forces in an interview Wednesday on France 24 television, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian cynically commented, “There’s a risk.”

Amateur cell phone videos on the internet show huge blasts and fireballs in living areas, and bloggers from Mali are reporting numerous casualties. The United Nations has reported that thousands of people have been forced from their homes over the past ten days. An estimated 230,000 people are now displaced across the country. According to Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the United Nations’ refugee agency, the violence could soon displace up to 700,000 in Mali and around the region.

The Norwegian Internal Displacement Monitoring Center reported that people in the north were increasingly heading into the desert, as Algeria had closed its borders. Many are fleeing on foot because they cannot afford boats or buses.

Sory Diakite, the mayor of Konna, who fled to Bamako with his family after a French raid, described the bombing of his town. He said that during the assault in the first days of the war, people “were killed inside their courtyards, or outside their homes. People were trying to flee to find refuge. Some drowned in the river. At least three children threw themselves in the river in order to avoid the bombs. They were trying to swim to the other side.”

The constant increase in the number of soldiers, the massive build-up of ever-deadlier weapons and the increasing willingness of its allies to step up their support signify that such violence will only continue to escalate.

France is deploying more soldiers and more high-tech weaponry. Some 2,150 French soldiers are in Mali, and their number will rise to 5,000 by the end of the month.

The African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) will comprise almost 6,000 soldiers, instead of the initially planned 3,300 soldiers, costing around $500 million.

The Gazelle helicopters that participated in the first wave of French air attacks are being replaced by Tiger helicopter gunships, which have a longer range and greater firepower. “Cheetah” units based in France have been placed on alert, including a number of Leclerc heavy tanks and units armed with truck-mounted 155-millimeter artillery pieces.

So far nearly 1,000 African troops from Benin, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso have arrived in Mali. Senegalese troops and up to 2,000 soldiers from Chad are on the way. Their transport is being provided by France’s allies: Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Emirates, and Canada. Italy approved sending 15 to 24 military instructors to work alongside the European Union (EU) in training Malian forces and also agreed to provide logistical support with at least two cargo planes.

US forces began their mission in support of the Mali war on Monday. Five four-engine C-17 planes took off from the Istres-LeTubé airbase in southern France, loaded with French cargo which they dropped off in the Malian capital, Bamako.

According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, British forces were on “high alert” for possible deployment in Mali, in case France asks for help. The British foreign ministry denied the report, however.

Yesterday French Rafale and Mirage jets bombed targets near Gao, Timbuktu and Ansongo, a town near the border with Niger. Col. Oumar Kande, ECOWAS military and security adviser in Mali, said, “It is possible we will win back Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal in a month, but it is impossible to say how long the overall war will last.”

Kande’s words are in line with remarks by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said that the Mali war might last years or decades.