The war on Libya started in March 2011.

This article was originally published in September 2011,  following the devastation triggered by seven months of intensive NATO bombings.

“There is no tomorrow” under a NATO sponsored Al Qaeda rebellion. 

While a  “pro-democracy” rebel government has been instated, the country has been destroyed.

Against the backdrop of war propaganda, Libya’s economic and social achievements over the last thirty years, have been brutally reversed:

The [Libyan Arab Jamahiriya] has had a high standard of living and a robust per capita daily caloric intake of 3144. The country has made strides in public health and, since 1980, child mortality rates have dropped from 70 per thousand live births to 19 in 2009. Life expectancy has risen from 61 to 74 years of age during the same span of years. (FAO, Rome, Libya, Country Profile,)

According to sectors of the “Progressive Left” which have endorsed NATO’s R2P mandate:  “The mood across Libya, particularly in Tripoli, is absolutely —like there’s just a feeling of euphoria everywhere. People are incredibly excited about starting afresh. There’s a real sense of rebirth, a feeling that their lives are starting anew. (DemocracyNow.org, September 14, 2011 emphasis added)

The rebels are casually presented as “liberators”. The central role of Al Qaeda affilated terrorists within rebel ranks is not mentioned.

“Starting afresh” in the wake of destruction? Fear and Social Despair, Countless Deaths and Atrocities, amply documented by the independent media.

No euphoria…. A historical reversal in the country’s economic and social development has occurred. The achievements have been erased.

The NATO invasion and occupation marks the ruinous “rebirth” of Libya’s standard of living  That is the forbidden and unspoken truth:  an entire Nation has been destabilized and destroyed, its people driven into abysmal poverty.

The objective of the NATO bombings from the outset was to destroy the country’s standard of living, its health infrastructure, its schools and hospitals, its water distribution system.

And then “rebuild” with the help of donors and creditors under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank.

The diktats of the “free market” are a precondition for the instatement of  a Western style “democratic dictatorship “.

About nine thousand strike sorties, tens of thousands of strikes on civilian targets including residential areas, government buildings, water supply and electricity generation facilities. (See NATO Communique, September 5, 2011. 8140 strike sorties from March 31 to September 5, 2011)

An entire nation has been bombed with the most advanced ordnance, including uranium coated ammunition.

Already in August, UNICEF warned that extensive NATO bombing of Libya’s water infrastructure “could turn into an unprecedented health epidemic “ (Christian Balslev-Olesen of UNICEF’s Libya Office, August 2011).

Meanwhile investors and donors have positioned themselves. “War is Good for Business’. NATO, the Pentagon and the Washington based international financial institutions (IFIs) operate in close coordination. What has been destroyed by NATO will be rebuilt, financed by Libya’s external creditors under the helm of the “Washington Consensus”:

“Specifically, the [World] Bank has been asked to examine the need for repair and restoration of services in the water, energy and transport sectors [bombed by NATO] and, in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, to support budget preparation [austerity measures] and help the banking sector back on to its feet [The Libyan Central bank was one of the first government buildings to be bombed]. Employment generation for young Libyans has been added as an urgent need facing the country.” (World Bank to Help Libya Rebuild and Deliver Essential Services to Citizens emphasis added)

Libya’s Development Achievements

Whatever one’s views regarding Moamar Gadaffi, the post-colonial Libyan government played a key role in eliminating poverty and developing the country’s health and educational infrastructure. According to Italian Journalist Yvonne de Vito, “Differently from other countries that went through a revolution – Libya is considered to be the Switzerland of the African continent and is very rich and schools are free for the people. Hospitals are free for the people. And the conditions for women are much better than in other Arab countries.” (Russia Today, August 25, 2011)

These developments are in sharp contrast to what most Third World countries were able to “achieve” under Western style “democracy” and “governance” in the context of a standard IMF-World Bank Structural Adjustment program (SAP).

Public Health Care

Public Health Care in Libya prior to NATO’s “Humanitarian Intervention” was the best in Africa. “Health care is [was] available to all citizens free of charge by the public sector. The country boasts the highest literacy and educational enrolment rates in North Africa. The Government is [was] substantially increasing the development budget for health services…. (WHO Libya Country Brief )

Confirmed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), undernourishment was less than 5 %, with a daily per capita calorie intake of 3144 calories. (FAO caloric intake figures indicate availability rather than consumption).

The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya provided to its citizens what is denied to many Americans: Free public health care, free education, as confirmed by WHO and UNESCO data.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO): Life expectancy at birth was 72.3 years (2009), among the highest in the developing World.

Under 5 mortality rate per 1000 live births declined from 71 in 1991 to 14 in 2009
(http://www.who.int/countryfocus/cooperation_strategy/ccsbrief_lby_en.pdf)
 

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya General information

2009  Total population (000)  6 420

Annual population growth rate (%)  2.0

Population 0-14 years (%) 28

Rural population (%)  22

Total fertility rate (births per woman)  2.6

Infant mortality rate (0/00) 17

Life expectancy at birth (years)  75

GDP per capita (PPP) US$   16 502

GDP growth rate (%)  2.1

Children of primary school-age who are out of school  (%)  (1978) 2

Source: UNESCO. Libya Country Profile

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (2009)

Total life expectancy at birth (years)   72.3
Male life expectancy at birth (years)   70.2
Female life expectancy at birth (years)  74.9
Newborns with low birth weight (%)  4.0
Children underweight (%)   4.8
Perinatal mortality rate per 1000 total births 19.0
Neonatal mortality rate  11.0
Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births) 14.0
Under five mortality rate (per 1000 live births) 20.1
Maternal mortality ratio (per 10000 live births) 23.0

Source WHO http://www.emro.who.int/emrinfo/index.aspx?Ctry=liy  

Education

The adult literacy rate was of the order of 89%, (2009), (94% for males and 83% for females). 99.9% of youth are literate (UNESCO 2009 figures, See UNESCO, Libya Country Report)

Gross primary school enrolment ratio was 97% for boys and 97% for girls (2009) .
(see UNESCO tables at

http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=4340&BR_Region=40525

The pupil teacher ratio in Libya’s primary schools was of the order of 17 (1983 UNESCO data), 74% of school children graduating from primary school were enrolled in secondary school (1983 UNESCO  data).

Based on more recent date, which confirms a marked increase in school enrolment, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in secondary schools was of the order of 108% in 2002. The GER is the number of pupils enrolled in a given level of education regardless of age expressed as a percentage of the population in the theoretical age group for that level of education.

For tertiary enrolment (postsecondary, college and university), the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) was of the order of 54% in 2002 (52 for males, 57 for females).
(For further details see http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=4340&BR_Region=40525

Women’s Rights

With regard to Women’s Rights, World Bank data point to significant achievements.

“In a relative short period of time, Libya achieved universal access for primary education, with 98% gross enrollment for secondary, and 46% for tertiary education. In the past decade, girls’ enrollment increased by 12% in all levels of education. In secondary and tertiary education, girls outnumbered boys by 10%.” (World Bank Libya Country Brief, emphasis added)

Price Controls over Essential Food Staples

In most developing countries, essential food prices have skyrocketed, as a result of market deregulation, the lifting of price controls and the eliminaiton of subsidies, under “free market” advice from the World Bank and the IMF.

In recent years, essential food and fuel prices have spiralled as a result of speculative trade on the major commodity exchanges.

Libya was one of the few countries in the developing World which maintained a system of price controls over essential food staples.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick acknowledged in an April 2011 statement that the price of essential food staples had increased by 36 percent in the course of the last year. See Robert Zoellick, World Bank

The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had established a system of price controls over essential food staples, which was maintained until the onset of the NATO led war.

While rising food prices in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt spearheaded social unrest and political dissent, the system of food subsidies in Libya was maintained.

These are the facts confirmed by several UN specialised agencies.

“Missile Diplomacy” and ”The Free Market”

War and Globalization are intiricately related.  The IMF and NATO work in tandem, in liason with the Washington think tanks.

The NATO operation purports to enforce the neoliberal economic agenda. Countries which are reluctant to accept the sugar coated bullets of IMF “economic medicine” will eventually be the object of a R2P NATO humanitarian operation.

Déjà Vu? Under the British Empire, “gun boat diplomacy” was a means to imposing “free trade”. On October 5, 1850, England’s Envoy to the Kingdom of Siam, Sir James Brooke recommended to Her Majesty’s government that:

“should these just demands [to impose free trade] be refused, a force should be present, immediately to enforce them by the rapid destruction of the defenses of the [Chaopaya] river… Siam may be taught the lesson which it has long been tempting– its Government may be remodelled, A better disposed king placed on the throne and an influence acquired in the country which will make it of immense commercial importance to England” (The Mission of Sir James Brooke, quoted in M.L. Manich Jumsai, King Mongkut and Sir John Bowring, Chalermit, Bangkok, 1970, p. 23)

Today we call it ”Regime Change” and “Missile Diplomacy” which invariably takes the shape of a UN sponsored “No Fly Zone”. Its objective is to impose the IMF’s deadly “economic medicine” of austerity measures and privatization.

The World Bank financed “reconstruction” programs of war torn countries are coordinated with US-NATO military planning. They are invariably formulated prior to onslaught of the military campaign…

Confiscating Libyan Financial Assets

Libya`s frozen overseas financial assets are estimated to be of the order of $150 billion, with NATO countries holding more than $100 billion.

Prior to the war, Libya had no debts. In fact quite the opposite. It was a creditor nation investing in neighboring African countries.

The R2P military intervention is intended to spearhead the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya into the straightjacket of an indebted developing country, under the surveillance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions.

In a bitter irony, after having stolen Libya’s oil wealth and confiscated its overseas financial assets, the “donor community” has pledged to lend the (stolen) money back to finance Libya’s post-war “reconstruction”.   Libya is slated to join the ranks of indebted African countries which have driven into poverty by IMF and the World Bank since the onsalught of the debt crisis in the early 1980s:

The IMF promised a further $35-billion in funding [loans] to countries affected by Arab Spring uprisings and formally recognized Libya’s ruling interim council as a legitimate power, opening up access to a myriad of international lenders as the country [Libya] looks to rebuild after a six-month war.  …

Getting IMF recognition is significant for Libya’s interim leaders as it means international development banks and donors such as the World Bank can now offer financing.

The Marseille talks came a few days after world leaders agreed in Paris to free up billions of dollars in frozen assets [stolen money] to help [through loans] Libya’s interim rulers restore vital services and rebuild after a conflict that ended a 42-year dictatorship.

The financing deal by the Group of Seven major economies plus Russia is aimed at supporting reform efforts [IMF sponsored structural adjustment] in the wake of uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

The financing is mostly in the form of loans, rather than outright grants, and is provided half by G8 and Arab countries and half by various lenders and development banks. (Financial Post, September 10, 2011,

http://www.truthseeker444.blogspot.com/

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

I once wrote about Chilean president Salvador Allende:

Washington knows no heresy in the Third World but genuine independence. In the case of Salvador Allende independence came clothed in an especially provocative costume – a Marxist constitutionally elected who continued to honor the constitution. This would not do. It shook the very foundation stones upon which the anti-communist tower is built: the doctrine, painstakingly cultivated for decades, that “communists” can take power only through force and deception, that they can retain that power only through terrorizing and brainwashing the population. There could be only one thing worse than a Marxist in power – an elected Marxist in power.

There was no one in the entire universe that those who own and run “United States, Inc.” wanted to see dead more than Hugo Chávez.

He was worse than Allende. Worse than Fidel Castro.

Worse than any world leader not in the American camp because he spoke out in the most forceful terms about US imperialism and its cruelty.

Repeatedly. Constantly. Saying things that heads of state are not supposed to say. At the United Nations, on a shockingly personal level about George W. Bush. All over Latin America, as he organized the region into anti-US-Empire blocs.

Long-term readers of this report know that I’m not much of a knee-reflex conspiracy theorist. But when someone like Chávez dies at the young age of 58 I have to wonder about the circumstances. Unremitting cancer, intractable respiratory infections, massive heart attack, one after the other … It is well known that during the Cold War, the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace. I would like to see the Venezuelan government pursue every avenue of investigation in having an autopsy performed.

Back in December 2011, Chávez, already under treatment for cancer, wondered out loud: “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” The Venezuelan president was speaking one day after Argentina’s leftist president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This was after three other prominent leftist Latin America leaders had been diagnosed with cancer: Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff; Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo; and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“Evo take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don’t know,” Chávez said, referring to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, both leading leftists.

Chávez said he had received words of warning from Fidel Castro, himself the target of hundreds of failed and often bizarre CIA assassination plots. “Fidel always told me: ‘Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what.” 1

When Vice President Nicolas Maduro suggested possible American involvement in Chávez’s death, the US State Department called the allegation absurd. 2

Several progressive US organizations have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CIA, asking for “any information regarding or plans to poison or otherwise assassinate the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who has just died.”

I personally believe that Hugo Chávez was murdered by the United States. If his illness and death were NOT induced, the CIA – which has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders, many successfully 3 – was not doing its job.

When Fidel Castro became ill several years ago, the American mainstream media was unrelenting in its conjecture about whether the Cuban socialist system could survive his death. The same speculation exists now in regard to Venezuela. The Yankee mind can’t believe that large masses of people can turn away from capitalism when shown a good alternative. It could only be the result of a dictator manipulating the public; all resting on one man whose death would mark finis to the process.

It’s the end of the world … again

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recent convention in Washington produced the usual Doomsday talk concerning Iran’s imminent possession of nuclear weapons and with calls to bomb that country before they nuked Israel and/or the United States. So once again I have to remind everyone that these people – Israeli and American officials – are not really worried about an Iranian attack. Here are some of their many prior statements:

In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.” 4

2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington”, reported the Washington Post (March 5), asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.”

In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, war hero, pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”

January 2012: US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” 5

Later that month we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts – the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz – all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”

Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:

Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?

Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.

In an April 20, 2012 CNN interview Barak repeated this sentiment: “It’s true that probably [Iranian leader] Khamenei has not given orders to start building a [nuclear] weapon.” 6

And on several other occasions, Barak has stated: “Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel.” 7

Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a January 2012 report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead. 8

So why, then, do Israeli and American leaders, at most other times, maintain the Doomsday rhetoric? Partly for AIPAC to continue getting large donations. For Israel to get massive amounts of US aid. For Israeli leaders to win elections. To protect Israel’s treasured status as the Middle East’s sole nuclear power.

Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:

The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. 9

Notes

  1. The Guardian (London), December 29, 2011
  2. Huffington Post, March 7, 2013
  3. http://killinghope.org/bblum6/assass.htm
  4. Haaretz.com (Israel), October 25, 2007; print edition October 26
  5. “Face the Nation”, CBS, January 8, 2012
  6. Washington Post, August 1, 2012
  7. Iran Media Fact Check, “Does Israel Consider Iran an ‘Existential Threat’?”
  8. The Guardian (London), January 31, 2012
  9. Political Correction, “American Enterprise Institute Admits The Problem With Iran Is Not That It Would Use Nukes”
  10. Associated Press, February 26, 2013
  11. Washington Post, January 17, 2013

Уго Чавез Фриас, почивај у снази

March 11th, 2013 by Daniel Patrick Welch

Шта је овај човек значио и шта још увек значи за глобални југ и за све оне који теже ка бољем путу за човечанство, не може се довољно нагласити. Ја готово немам речи да опишем колико сам тужан. Један део мене само жели да се склупча и буде тужан, али истовремено осећам да је од изузетног значаја да пронаћем речи и да их циркулишем, говорећи их опет и изнова. Viva Comandante Chavez! Viva la revolucion! Viva el socialismo bolivriano!! (Живео Командант Чавез! Живела револуција! Живео боливаријански социјализам!)

Ово је застрашујући и рањив тренутак за народ Венецуеле и за било кога ко би се одупрео империјалистичкој агресији. Реакционарске снаге предвођене Сједињеним Америчким Државама су већ више пута покушале да покрену пуч против Чавеза, а несумњиво нешто покушавају истог овог тренутка. Иде им вода на уста на саму помисао критиковања једног од највећих симбола отпора, и свако коме је стало да се супротстави империји треба бити у стању високе приправности.

Ово није параноја или обична реторика. Па иако је документован случај рака био питању, не би ме зачудило да су та копилад имала неког учешћа у томе. Срање које су покушали против Фидела је скоро за неповеровати, али је добро документовано. Како год, вечна будност и тако то… Штитови горе, људи! Ускоро ћемо бити изложени правом цунамију будалаштина у америчким новинама, као део предвидљиве и дуготрајне кампање да се дестабилизује Венецуела и подрије народна револуција. НЕ ДАЈТЕ СЕ ЗАВАРАТИ!

Американци, иначе у дубоком сну, врло брзо знају да прихвате глупости које наша влада шири док распирује преврате и немире широм хемисфере и света. Гватемала, Хондурас, Никарагва, Колумбија, Панама, Хаити, Доминиканска Република, Чиле… листа је бескрајна… скоро па и нема земље коју САД није покушала да зајебе у покушају остваривања своје империјалистичке агенде – БЕЗ ОБЗИРА КО ЈЕ У БЕЛОЈ КУЋИ, без обзира на своју расу, партију, или такозвану ‘филозофију’. Овако та машина функционише — држите очи, ум и срца отворене.

Заправо, често баш када је такозвана ”левица” на власти (ма како смешан тај појам био за некога ко обраћа пажњу) реакционарске снаге покушавају да ушуњају брзу победу, како би рекли – под откриљем мрака. Сви сценарији који циркулишу су мокар сан десног крила, а били би незамисливи без покриља ”демократије”.

На глобалном нивоу, наравно, ствари су још горе. Не може се негирати криминалитет америчке владе према сувереним нацијама сопственое хемисфере, и нема тог Белог Качкета довољно великог да би ми изгледали као добри момци. Влада САД-а и снаге које она представља једноставно, трагично и доследно били на погрешној страни у сваком могућем тренутку.

Сада је време да се те разлике између ”нас” и ”њих” изоштре и разгласе. Империјализам, капитализам, Силе Које Јесу – како год желите да их назовете, напредују путем подстицања лажног ”јединства”, док у исто време сеју неслогу по било којем питању од било каквог значаја. Сада је време за јединство и солидарност са онима који се још увек одупиру империји, на овој хемисфери, али и широм света. Америчке и НАТО војне машине окружују планету као подмукле хоботнице какве јесу, и свако на путу глобалне доминације ће бити сломљен. То значи убијен ако је неопходно, као и сатанизован, жртва сплеткарења, нападнут, манипулисан, уплашен и под претњом потчињен. Људи који не схватају ово, себе дефинишу против огромне већине светске популације, за које заправо постоји стварни свет изван корпоративно-улизачког медијског мехура у коме Американци живе и спавају-углавном спавају.

Реколонизација Африке, планирано и брутално уништење Либије, финансирање, наоружавање, обука и покриће за номинално исламистичке силедзије – све откривају цинизам и ароганцију који су раздражујуће познати већини грађана ове хемисфере, ван америчких граница. Једноставно говорећи – прошлост се понавља изнова и изнова, овај пут са исламистичким уместо марксистичког антихероја у реакционарној нарацији – осим, наравно, када су то “наши кучкини синови”.

Биће ту још борби које долазе, још станица за овај исти воз, још лекција које требају бити научене, заборављене, игнорисане и послушане. Али бес и очај које осећамо је важно изразити у свој својој сировој снази. Слогани су сасвим у реду када нам је срцу тешко – често су једино што можемо постићи у том тренутку. Дакле, ево: САД, држи своје крваве, злочиначке руке подаље од Венецуеле и држи своје силеџије и шпијуне подаље од глобалног југа! Ово је тест народе… на којој страни глобалне борбе се ви налазите?

Наставите марширати, ударати, борити се, причати, убеђивати, бранити, подржавати — то је од кључног значаја у овом тренутку. Ni un paso atras, nisiquiera para coger impulse! Te queremos, Comandante Chavez! Eres de los muertos que nunca mueren. ЖАЛИТЕ ЗА МРТВИМА и ПАКЛЕНО СЕ БОРИТЕ ЗА ЖИВЕ!

Prevod: Ana Tsvidari

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US Supports Terrorism under Guise of “War on Terror”

March 11th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Worse Than Ever?

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said today that the containment vessel at Fukushima reactor 2 has a large crack in it.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 all exploded.

BBC reports today:

They know very little about what’s going on inside Reactors 1, 2, and 3 [...]

They don’t really know what the state of the reactor core is.

Indeed, there is no containment at Fukushima.

Large quantities of radiation are still leaking into the Pacific Ocean. And see this.

The operator of the Fukushima plants says it’s “impossible” to keep storing radioactive water in tanks, and Tepco will need to intentionally dump it into the ocean.

The area around Fukushima has become so contaminated that even the trees are radioactive.

And Tokyo is almost as irradiated as Fukushima.

Agence France-Presse notes:

Beach walkers are likely to encounter a disturbing but relentless flow of flotsam [from Japan] for years to come.

Indeed.

American sailors were exposed to massive doses of radiation. Conditions were so bad that they considered suicide. Many of these good men and women are now really sick.  More here, here and here. (But both the Japanese and American governments have abandoned them.)

Tepco might not even meaningfully start working to decommission the plants until the radiation level drops … decades from now (Or until the technology exists to clean it up.)

It has now been officially admitted that the accident was caused by collusion between the government and nuclear industry.

A worker at the Fukushima nuclear plan succinctly notes:

Even an elementary-school kid knows TEPCO always lies.

***

We have been fooled by the government …

We don’t mean to pick on Japan. After all, the American government is dictating nuclear policy in Japan. American reactors are even more dangerous than Fukushima. And a secret report confirms that Southern California Edison knew of major problems at the San Onofre nuclear plant … but let the slipshod expansion and remodeling project continue anyway.

Foreign Interference in Kenya’s Elections?

March 11th, 2013 by Abayomi Azikiwe

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has won the national presidential elections in the East African nation of Kenya. Kenyatta, the son of the first president of the country, Jomo Kenyatta, has come under fire from International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as the governments of the United States and Britain.

Kenyatta representing The National Alliance Party (TNA) won 50.07 percent of the vote eliminating the need for a run-off vote. His closest rival Raila Odinga, representing the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a leader as well in the Kenyan liberation movement of the 1950s and 1970s, won 43.2 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout was over 86 percent illustrating the high-level of interest in the poll. Odinga rejected the outcome of the election results and is challenging the electoral commission’s tallies through the courts.

The atmosphere surrounding the elections in Kenya was relative peaceful. Five years ago in the aftermath of the voting, violence erupted between supporters of the run-off candidates Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki.

During the unrest in December 2007 and January 2008, some 1,200 people lost their lives. An international team of negotiators from the United Nations and the African Union flew into the country and led talks resulting in the formation of a unity government between Kibaki and Odinga.

This time around both leading candidates have pledged to maintain the peace. Odinga, although challenging the outcome, has said that his opposition to the official results will take place in the courts and not in the streets.

The ICC charges against Kenyatta stem from the unrest in the aftermath of the last election. He is accused of financing and organizing attacks on supporters of Raila Odinga.

The tabulation process for the voting was delayed due to problems associated with a new electronic system. The delay in the results fueled some tensions in the country.

Violence five years ago took on an ethnic character since the majority of supporters of Kibaki were Kikiyu and those of Odinga are Luo. In Kisumu, a stronghold of Odinga, where the violence erupted in December 2007, some began to shout “No Raila, No Peace.”

Nonetheless, Odinga was quoted as saying “Any violence now could destroy this nation forever, but it would not serve anyone interests.” However, he did say that the elections were marked by “rampant illegality” and the electoral process had placed “democracy on trial in Kenya.” ((Reuters, March 9)

Implications for Foreign Interference

Although the Kenyan Supreme Court has stated that it will handle any challenges to the elections fairly and swiftly, the U.S. and Britain have both been accused of using the indictments against Kenyatta and the election results as a leverage to intervene in the internal affairs of the country. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who was appointed in 2011, said that “We at the Supreme Court are prepared to hear any petition that  may be filed impartially, fairly, justly and without fear, ill-will, favor, prejudice or bias and in accordance with our constitution and our laws.” (Reuters, March 11)

Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing charges before the ICC. Both men have denied the allegations and say that they will work to clear their names.

The fact that the electorate in Kenya voted in favor of Kenyatta is an indication of the rejection of the ICC and the western imperialists’ attempts to influence the voting. Kenyatta accused the British government of trying to shape the outcome of the vote by warning that any contact with his administration would be at a distance.

The U.S. and other imperialist states indicated that a victory by Kenyatta would complicate relations even though Kenya has been a close ally of Washington and London in the neo-colonial war being waged in neighboring Somalia. Kenya has over 2,000 troops in Somalia participating with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which is largely financed by Washington and coordinated through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

According to Alex Perry writing in world.time.com, “If the result withstands Odinga’s challenge, a win for Kenyatta would represent the most stunning articulation to date of a renewed mood of self-assertion in Africa. Half a century ago, Africa echoed with the sound of anticolonial liberation. Today, 10 years of dramatic and sustained economic growth and a growing political maturity coinciding with the economic meltdown in the West and political dysfunction in Washington and Europe have granted Africa’s leaders the authority and means to once again challenge intervention on the continent, whether it comes in the form of foreign diplomatic pressure, foreign aid, foreign rights monitors or even foreign correspondents.” (March 9)

Kenyatta said in his victory speech that “Today, we celebrate the triumph of democracy, the triumph of peace, the triumph of nationhood. We expect the international community to respect the sovereignty and democratic will of the people of Kenya. The Africa star is shining brightly and the destiny of Africa is now in our hands.” (March 9)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said prior to the Kenyan elections that “choices have consequences.” This was designed to influence the outcome of the vote.

The ICC has been severely criticized in Africa due to the fact that all of its indictments are centered on leaders and political figures targeted by the U.S. and other imperialist states. Kenyatta will be the second head of state facing indictments by the court based in The Hague.

Republic of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been under indictment by the ICC for several years. He, too, has rejected the indictments as a tool utilized by western powers against Sudan.

Most states in Africa and the Middle East have ignored the indictments against President Bashir along with the African Union and the Arab League. Bashir has traveled to numerous African and Arab states for international conferences in defiance of the ICC and the western imperialist states, some of whom, like the U.S., are not party to the Rome Statue which established the ICC.

In an editorial published by the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail entitled “Lessons From Kenya’s Elections,” it states that “All indications point to the fact that this election will have far-reaching implications—not just for relations between Kenya and Western governments but also for relations between Western governments and the rest of the African continent. “ (March 10)

This same article goes on to point out that although Oginga Odinga, Raila’s father, was a true patriot of Kenya and Africa, his son is quite different in regard to his political orientation. Raila Odinga has served as a mouthpiece for U.S. imperialist interests in Africa attacking Zimbabwe and other states targeted by Washington.

The Zimbabwe Sunday Mail observes that Odinga “has come across as a puppet of the West, a man not given to independent thinking. Despite enjoying the support of some Western powers and benefitting from the advantages of incumbency, Raila has once again flattered to deceive.”

Noting the significance of the developments in Kenya, The Sunday Mail stresses that “Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory sends a strong message to the bullies in Washington, London, Paris and Brussels that the people of Africa will no longer be intimidated by racist overlords. In spite of the International Criminal Court charges that dangled above his head like the proverbial sword of Damocles, Uhuru has gone on to win a tough election. It is a huge achievement.”

It will be very interesting to see how the Obama administration proceeds in regard to its relations with Kenya. The country’s strategic location and role within the region will continue to make it a focal point for Washington’s involvement.

Abayomi Azikiwe  Editor, Pan-African News Wire

The Life and Death of Hugo Chávez in Perspective

March 11th, 2013 by Global Research News

By Gloria La Riva

Millions of Venezuelans, Cubans and people around the world have paid homage to Latin American revolutionary Hugo Chávez Frias in recent days. Some 33 heads of state and representatives of 50 governments attended Chávez’s funeral.

In the first hours that he lay in state, 2 million grief-stricken Venezuelans bid their beloved Comandante farewell, in a line that stretched as long as five miles. From Mexico City to New York City, countless vigils are being organized by supporters, inspired by Chávez’s revolutionary spirit and life.

But President Barack Obama—in a 60-word statement with not one word of condolence—just promised more “policies that promote democratic principles” in Venezuela.

Obama’s cynical attitude sums up Washington’s role ever since Hugo Chávez became president. The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to back the Venezuelan right-wing elite in one plot after another to try to overthrow him and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Hugo Chávez’s tragic and untimely death may have whetted the U.S. government’s appetite, but the imperialists are deeply mistaken if they think they can turn back history.

The massive outpouring in Venezuela is not just an expression of deep sentiment for a fallen leader. The cries of “We are Chávez!” and “Chávez Vive!” are a resounding commitment by the people, the masses who brought him back from the grip of a U.S.-sponsored military coup in 2002.

Today, they are more determined than ever to defend the Bolivarian Revolution.

Preparing for the future

When Chávez announced on December 8, 2012, that he had to return to Cuba immediately for another cancer surgery, he was very likely aware that his condition was terminal and little time remained.

He conducted himself to the end of his days in the heroic manner that characterized his life.

In what would be his last public pronouncement to the Venezuelan people, Chávez said: “If something were to happen, I repeat, if I were to become incapacitated in any way, not only should Nicolás Maduro conclude the [current] term, as the Constitution dictates, but, in my firm opinion, as full as the moon, irrevocable, absolute, total—if in that scenario new presidential elections are convened, as mandated by the Constitution—you should vote for Nicolás Maduro as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I ask that of you from my heart.”

He was never able to speak to his people again.

Those fateful words are extremely important, because now the election for a new president must be held within 30 days of Chávez’s death.

On March 9, the National Elections Commission set April 14 as the date to elect a new president of Venezuela. The date was extended to give time for nominations, preparation of voting machines, and a 10-day campaign period and to accommodate a Sunday date.

In the meantime, Maduro has been sworn in as interim president, and is the designated candidate for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Presumably, the right-wing opposition candidate will be Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chávez last Oct. 7.

Chávez’s enormous authority enabled him to convey to the 7 million members of the PSUV what is today a matter of pressing urgency, to unite behind a revolutionary candidate who can once again defeat the opposition.

Chávez recognized that his word would carry enormous weight among the masses, to weather the onslaught of right-wing propaganda and assault sure to come after his death.

Hugo Chávez had an abiding confidence in the people because he understood them. He came from them, from the most humble roots of Venezuelan society.

Hugo Chávez’s youth

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was born July 28, 1954, in the small, remote village of Sabaneta, Barinas state in western Venezuela, the second of six children. Hugo and his older brother Adán—today governor of Barinas—were raised by their grandmother Rosa Inés, while the parents Elena and Hugo, schoolteachers with a meager income, lived close by with the youngest four. This was a common tradition among extended families.

Some of the stories of Chávez’s youth come from his neighbors and relatives, in the book “Our Chávez” by Cuban authors Rosa Miriam Elizalde and Luis Baez.

The village of Sabaneta had no electricity during their childhood, and the family struggled to get by. In one moving account, little Hugo was turned away from his first day at school because his grandmother couldn’t afford to buy him a pair of shoes.

But he learned resourcefulness from his elders, selling candies at school that his grandmother made, to bring home some coins.

Chávez’s young life imbued in him an enormous spirit of solidarity and generosity with the people, especially the most oppressed. As president, one of Chávez’s very first acts was to provide free school lunches for hundreds of thousands of poor children. School attendance shot up dramatically.

Years later, in July 2001, when this reporter joined thousands of people as they marched with Chávez down the streets of Caracas, he patiently took the time to receive embraces and handwritten notes from the people, to hear their encouragement or petitions for help. He made sure their needs were addressed.

Yet Chávez did not see himself as an individual whose good works alone would be enough to resolve Venezuela’s problems.

He began to adopt a concept of revolutionary societal change while in Venezuela’s Military Academy, which he entered at the age of 17 in 1971.

In the academy and army, Chávez’s radicalization was fueled by various factors, his brother Adán’s socialist influence, his own growing rebellion against military corruption and abuse, and the broader scenario of Latin American struggle.

In “Our Chávez,” he explains his political maturation: “The Hugo Chavez who started at the Academy was a boy from the countryside, a plainsman with aspirations to be a professional baseball player; four years later, a second lieutenant emerged who had set out along the revolutionary path. …

“At that stage, I began to read Fidel, Che, Mao, Plekhanov, Zamora … and books like The Bigwigs by Américo Martín; ‘The role of the individual in history’; ‘What is to be done’. And of course, I had already begun a thorough study of Bolívar.”

In 1982, Chávez formed a secret organization, the MBR 200 (Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement), of like-minded officers inside the military willing to take on the government. He would be their commander in the historic attack on the government in 1992.

Meanwhile, Carlos Andrés Pérez became president—his second term—in 1989. He immediately accepted the economic dictates of the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a multi-billion-dollar loan. The neo-liberal agreement suddenly doubled gasoline prices and hiked the price of other goods. It caused a massive spontaneous rebellion by the people in the streets of Caracas.

The uprising of Feb. 27, 1989, and government massacre that followed is known as the “Caracazo.” It is estimated that up to 3,000 people were murdered by security forces.

This brutal repression convinced Chávez and his colleagues of the need to deepen their preparations.

In the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 4, 1992, Chávez and his movement carried out their military action to attempt a takeover of Miraflores presidential palace, but they were attacked as soon as they approached. Traitors inside the movement had revealed their plans.

Historic words: “For Now”

By the end of the day, Pérez’s military defeated Chávez’s forces and was about to carry out an assault on troops loyal to him in two other regions. To avoid further losses of his men, Chávez appeared on television to tell his troops to stop the fighting.

In his TV appeal, the rebel lieutenant colonel said, “Comrades, unfortunately, for now, the goals we set for ourselves have not been reached in the capital. … we here in Caracas were not able to take power. … I assume responsibility for this Bolivarian military movement.”

Those two words, “for now,” electrified the vast majority of the population. Never before had a soldier taken on the corrupt government to vindicate the people, and he had promised to return.

In prison, Chávez became such a hero in the eyes of the oppressed, that during the presidential elections, wherever the bourgeois candidates spoke, people at the political rallies would chant for his freedom. The next president, Rafael Caldera Rodríguez, pardoned Chávez and his colleagues in March 1994.

At first reluctant to participate as a candidate in Venezuelan elections, because of his distrust of capitalist elections, Chávez was urged on by many people. He finally decided to run for president in the 1998 elections.

With no funds and only broken-down vehicles for transport, he traversed the country to denounce the traditional capitalist parties of Democratic Action and COPEI as those responsible for the country’s crisis. Huge crowds mobbed him every step of the way.

Chávez won in December 1998 with 56.2 percent of the vote under the banner of his Fifth Republic Movement. He assumed office in February 1999.

The words he spoke in his oath were unlike those of any previous president. “I swear that with this moribund constitution, I will carry out and push for the necessary democratic transformations so that the new republic will acquire a new Magna Carta fitting for the new times.”

In a process that has been repeated in Ecuador and Bolivia, the new Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela was adopted in 1999. It was the 26th constitution in Venezuela’s history, but the first that was ever approved by popular referendum, with 71.78 percent of the vote.

Free health care, free education, a ban on privatizing the country’s national resources, recognition of Indigenous and other minorities to their own culture and language, and a democratization of the political process are a few of the provisions.

Chávez was swept into office with a massive outpouring of support of the most oppressed, and he responded with all his energies and power at hand to initiate immediate and urgent programs to address the poorest sectors of the population, as well as working to empower the people at the base to defend the gains.

But it was after the right-wing’s fascist coup of April 2002—when people mobilized by the tens of thousands to demand his return and the military forces loyal to Chávez rescued him from the fascists—that the acceleration of the revolutionary process became possible.

Hugo Chávez’s legacy

Before Hugo Chávez, Venezuela was a classic model of capitalist underdevelopment: obscene opulence for the Venezuelan elite and foreign capitalists, and poverty and hopelessness for the majority. Under Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolutionary process, a whole panorama of revolutionary social programs lifted millions of Venezuelans up out of despair.

His courage and vision transformed his people into a combative force that has learned to defend what it has gained, the right to housing, health care, literacy, education, culture and most of all, independence and dignity.

Before Hugo Chávez, Latin America was fractured and under the heel of neo-liberal policies that benefited only the banks and big business. In the 1990s, Cuba was virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere, struggling mightily to defend socialism after the demise of the Soviet Union.

Chávez embraced the Cuban Revolution as his own and proudly defied U.S. imperialism, by forming together with Cuba the historic alliance of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas—ALBA. After decades of the sacking of Latin America and the Caribbean, an unprecedented process of anti-imperialist unity and transformation has begun in the continent.

One of Hugo Chávez’s greatest legacies was his fight for a socialist Venezuela, to expand and make permanent the gains that have been fought for so far.

From the viewpoint of Marxism, history and especially revolutionary change are made by great social forces and through the agency of class struggle. Marxism rejects the method of bourgeois historiography that places the role of  “great men” as the central factor in the major events and developments that shape an entire historical era.

But Marxism also recognizes that particular individuals have played an indispensable part in molding together the social and political forces that created entirely new historical forces. The Russian Revolution for instance changed the character of the class struggle everywhere for the 20th century. Lenin played a unique and indispensable role during the revolutionary process, and without him it is unlikely that the Bolsheviks could have seized and retained state power.

Fidel’s leadership was another such example. His initiation and leadership of the Cuban Revolution was indispensable to its victory.

Lenin and Fidel did not simply ride a wave of revolution; they actually helped mold the forces that led to a re-shaping of history

So too with Hugo Chávez. The unique role he played in the last 15 years also molded together the forces of Latin American integration and unity on an anti-imperialist and socialist basis and changed the dynamics of the class struggle not only in Venezuela but throughout the continent. Chavez, like Lenin or Fidel was not a “superman,” but his role in the creation of ALBA and the larger unfolding process in Latin America was unique and indispensable during the past decade.

Today, the people and the struggle have been dealt a major blow with the loss of this great leader. But the social and political revolutionary movement that he catalyzed will offer up other leaders dedicated to pursuing the movement until final victory.

Upon his death, comrade Chavez has entered history not only as revolutionary life well led but as a source of confidence for all those who have been shaped by the movement he inspired—the millions who are oppressed and have been the object of extreme exploitation but have entered the political process now as actors demanding to be the shapers of their own historical destiny.

Hugo Chávez Frias Presente!

President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.

1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.

2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.

3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela’s electoral system was “the best in the world.”

4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.

5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.

6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.

7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.

8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.

9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.

10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.

11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.

12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.

13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.

14. Thanks to Operation Miracle, launched in 2004, 1.5 million Venezuelans who were victims of cataracts or other eye diseases, regained their sight.

15. From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.

16. In the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), Venezuela jumped from 83 in 2000 (0.656) at position 73 in 2011 (0.735), and entered into the category Nations with ‘High HDI’.

17. The GINI coefficient, which allows calculation of inequality in a country, fell from 0.46 in 1999 to 0.39 in 2011.

18. According to the UNDP, Venezuela holds the lowest recorded Gini coefficient in Latin America, that is, Venezuela is the country in the region with the least inequality.

19. Child malnutrition was reduced by 40% since 1999.

20. In 1999, 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water. Now it is 95%.

21. Under President Chavez social expenditures increased by 60.6%.

22. Before 1999, only 387,000 elderly people received a pension. Now the figure is 2.1 million.

23. Since 1999, 700,000 homes have been built in Venezuela.

24. Since 1999, the government provided / returned more than one million hectares of land to Aboriginal people.

25. Land reform enabled tens of thousands of farmers to own their land. In total, Venezuela distributed more than 3 million hectares.

26. In 1999, Venezuela was producing 51% of food consumed. In 2012, production was 71%, while food consumption increased by 81% since 1999. If consumption of 2012 was similar to that of 1999, Venezuela produced 140% of the food it consumed.

27. Since 1999, the average calories consumed by Venezuelans increased by 50% thanks to the Food Mission that created a chain of 22,000 food stores (MERCAL, Houses Food, Red PDVAL), where products are subsidized up to 30%. Meat consumption increased by 75% since 1999.

28. Five million children now receive free meals through the School Feeding Programme. The figure was 250,000 in 1999.

29. The malnutrition rate fell from 21% in 1998 to less than 3% in 2012.

30. According to the FAO, Venezuela is the most advanced country in Latin America and the Caribbean in the erradication of hunger.

31. The nationalization of the oil company PDVSA in 2003 allowed Venezuela to regain its energy sovereignty.

32. The nationalization of the electrical and telecommunications sectors (CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas) allowed the end of private monopolies and guaranteed universal access to these services.

33. Since 1999, more than 50,000 cooperatives have been created in all sectors of the economy.

34. The unemployment rate fell from 15.2% in 1998 to 6.4% in 2012, with the creation of more than 4 million jobs.

35. The minimum wage increased from 100 bolivars ($ 16) in 1998 to 247.52 bolivars ($ 330) in 2012, ie an increase of over 2,000%. This is the highest minimum wage in Latin America.

36. In 1999, 65% of the workforce earned the minimum wage. In 2012 only 21.1% of workers have only this level of pay.

37. Adults at a certain age who have never worked still get an income equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage.

38. Women without income and disabled people receive a pension equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage.

39. Working hours were reduced to 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week, without loss of pay.

40. Public debt fell from 45% of GDP in 1998 to 20% in 2011. Venezuela withdrew from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, after early repayment of all its debts.

41. In 2012, the growth rate was 5.5% in Venezuela, one of the highest in the world.

42. GDP per capita rose from $ 4,100 in 1999 to $ 10,810 in 2011.

43. According to the annual World Happiness 2012, Venezuela is the second happiest country in Latin America, behind Costa Rica, and the nineteenth worldwide, ahead of Germany and Spain.

44. Venezuela offers more direct support to the American continent than the United States. In 2007, Chávez spent more than 8,800 million dollars in grants, loans and energy aid as against 3,000 million from the Bush administration.

45. For the first time in its history, Venezuela has its own satellites (Bolivar and Miranda) and is now sovereign in the field of space technology. The entire country has internet and telecommunications coverage.

46. The creation of Petrocaribe in 2005 allows 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 90 million people, secure energy supply, by oil subsidies of between 40% to 60%.

47. Venezuela also provides assistance to disadvantaged communities in the United States by providing fuel at subsidized rates.

48. The creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004 between Cuba and Venezuela laid the foundations of an inclusive alliance based on cooperation and reciprocity. It now comprises eight member countries which places the human being in the center of the social project, with the aim of combating poverty and social exclusion.

49. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of the creation in 2011 of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which brings together for the first time the 33 nations of the region, emancipated from the tutelage of the United States and Canada.

50. Hugo Chavez played a key role in the peace process in Colombia. According to President Juan Manuel Santos, “if we go into a solid peace project, with clear and concrete progress, progress achieved ever before with the FARC, is also due to the dedication and commitment of Chavez and the government of Venezuela.”
Translation by Tim Anderson

 

In his famous description of irregular warfare operations, former US President John F. Kennedy in a 1962 quote alludes to “another type of warfare,” one that is “new in its intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest.”

After two harrowing years of division, senseless killing and civil war, the Syrian nation and its people are well acquainted with these unconventional methods of warfare. Since the eruption of violence in March 2011, Syria has endured targeted assassination campaigns, ceaseless suicide bombings and shelling, and massacres where infants have had their throats slit to the spine – the time has come for the opposition to engage the Assad government in dialogue and finally bring about a ceasefire and the total cessation of violence and insurgency.

From the reports of third-party sniper-fire targeting both protestors and security personnel in the southern city of Daraa at the very onset of the conflict, to the horrendous attacks on the students of Aleppo University in January 2013 – those who have critically monitored the situation from the beginning are under no illusions – the influx of armaments and mercenary elements from abroad into Syria has brought the situation to where it is today. Western capitals have provided logistics, coordination, political support, and non-lethal aid, Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have openly provided weapons and monthly salaries for rebel fighters, and Turkey has allowed rebel fighters to receive training and arms from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the southeastern part of the country, allowing militants to pass into Syria freely.

There are those who say that Syria is the subject of an internal revolution that is brutally repressed by a malicious dictator, and those who say instead that Syria is being attacked by foreign powers who have deployed mercenaries and extremist fighters from abroad to engage in the destruction of infrastructure and conduct targeted assassinations to bring about an end to the Assad regime.  Despite Washington’s concerns of heavy weapons falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked militants, the US-backed campaign to coax regime change in Damascus has from the very onset enabled militants who justify their acts of terror in the name of a perverted interpretation of Islam. Reports from the Washington Post [1] indicate that US support to anti-government groups in Syria began in 2005, transcending two presidential administrations:

“The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. Syrian authorities ‘would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,’ read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. ‘A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,’ the cable said. The cables report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.”

The article describes how Washington funneled about $12 million to anti-government programs in Syria between 2005 and 2010 to recipients affiliated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Israel, which is now illegally conducting exploratory drilling in the occupied Golan Heights, and the US view the toppling of Damascus as a means of extinguishing the critical conduit between Iran and Hezbollah, the political and militant Shi’a organization centered in Southern Lebanon, in addition to helping isolate the Palestinian resistance. Reports published in 2007 in the New Yorker [2] by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh detail how the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia supported a regional network of extremist fighters and terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda with the aim of stomping out Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad in a bid to isolate Iran, who is viewed as an existential threat to the US and its allies in the region. A principal component of this policy shift was the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups, hence the ever-deepening sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict:

“_To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

While the CIA has purportedly claimed to distribute arms only to “secular” and “moderate” rebel forces, Washington insiders from various academic and think-tank circles have openly endorsed bizarre positions in favor of integrating terrorists into Syria’s rebel forces.

“Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria [3],” penned by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Ed Husain, argues in favor of Al-Qaeda terrorists and their inclusion in the Free Syrian Army, stating, “The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.”

Foreign Policy’s, “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists [4],” penned by Gary Gambill of the heavily neo-conservative Middle East Forum, argues in favor of Al-Qaeda, “Islamists — many of them hardened by years of fighting U.S. forces in Iraq — are simply more effective fighters than their secular counterparts. Assad has had extraordinary difficulty countering tactics perfected by his former jihadist allies, particularly suicide bombings and roadside bombs.”_

While many Western media outlets once likened Syria’s rebels to pro-democracy freedom fighters, it has become more challenging to view them as anything other than Salafist radicals – the former’s existence was amplified specifically to provide cover and legitimacy for the violence and subversion of the latter. As a result of foreign-backed insurgency, the Assad regime resorted to tactics of shelling and conducing airstrikes on rebel strongholds, which were mostly in densely populated urban areas. It should not be denied that these heavy-handed tactics have also led to a substantial and regrettable loss of life.

The Friends of Syria group recently convened in Rome, where the US State Department has pledged $60 million to help the opposition maintain “the institutions of the state” in areas under their control, such as establishing terms of governance, the rule of law, and police forces. Reports have also claimed that the US is also deliberating more open engagement in Syria under newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry, however Washington has stopped short of openly providing arms and military training. American and western officials have told the New York Times that Saudi Arabia has recently financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and funneled them to Syrian rebel groups. Although the United States is not credited with providing arms to rebel forces, New York Times [5] has reported the presence of CIA officials in southern Turkey since June 2012, who are distributing weapons with the Obama administration’s blessing. US spokesperson Jay Carney was quoted saying, “We will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian people, to the Syrian opposition, we will continue to increase our assistance in the effort to bring about a post-Assad Syria.”

In early March 2013, the Syrian National Council (SNC) will meet in Istanbul to form a provisional government that would oversee rebel-held areas of the country. This wouldn’t be the first time the SNC has attempted to form a government; previous attempts in January 2013 fell apart, which many factions refusing to consider a prime ministerial nominee. SNC President Moaz al-Khatib has angered several factions for proposing his readiness to negotiate with the Assad government, a position that many in the opposition refuse to accept. It appears that the US State Department under John Kerry will soon shift its focus to helping the rebels establish a full-fledged alternative government on Syrian territory and recognize it as the legal government of Syria. Such a move would legitimize the transfer of heavy weaponry and would allow the US to directly employ airstrikes or Patriot anti-missile batteries against Assad’s forces.

Some would argue that these moves could help marginalize the notable al-Qaeda presence among rebel forces. Pumping more arms and heavier weapons into Syria is unconscionable at this point, and continuing to do so will inevitably bolster the muscle and reach of jihadi and Salafist fighters. The argument that the US and its allies have only armed the “moderate” rebels is a deeply flawed one; weapons are highly in demand by all rebel factions and there is little means of effectively preventing arms from gravitating toward hardcore Al-Qaeda fighters.

Western and Gulf states have proven their double standards by enabling radicals elsewhere – lest we forget the presence of Libyan military commander Abdulhakim Belhadj, former leader of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (officially designated as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department), who was sent to Syria to aid the Free Syrian Army on orders of the entity formerly know as the Libyan National Transition Council (NTC). The track record of allied Western and Gulf states shows that they are more interested in enabling terrorism for their own purposes rather than preventing it.

International recognition of a provisional SNC government would only create further divisions at a time when national unity is most needed. Although rebel-held areas are badly isolated and in need of humanitarian supplies, the delivery of aid must be facilitated through direct talks and partnership between Moaz al-Khatib’s Syrian National Council and Bashar Al-Assad’s government. Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari has recently urged Friends of Syria states to convince the Syrian opposition to sit for an unconditional national dialogue, which al-Khatib has expressed willingness to take part in. One could surmise that al-Khatib’s shift toward dialogue indicates that the SNC is feeling less secure and more wary of a possible military defeat or rivalry with radical factions. Such a dialogue would undoubtedly represent a step in the right direction. Despite political differences and two years of deep conflict, these two parties must establish a genuine ceasefire and partner to restore a climate of normality throughout the country. In this context, both parties must be able to agree on coordinating aid distribution to all parts of the country.

Both the incumbent Syrian authorities and the opposition must find strength to come to a mutually acceptable compromise. These parties have no option other than to search for a solution, lay down an agreeable constitutional basis for elections, and face each other in international monitored polls once the situation stabilizes. The Syrian people must not have democracy imposed on them, and the victor of this war should not be decided on the battlefield, but by the ballot box. To gain the confidence of the electorate, election observers from the US, Qatar, Russia, and Iran could be sent to monitor the transition process – if the people of Syria want Assad to remain in power, then the rule of majority must be honored. Militant groups comprised of mostly hardline foreign fighters such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham cannot be expected to participate in a ceasefire, so the true test of a short-term alliance between Assad and the SNC would be in its ability to cooperate in quelling radical militants and restoring stability – such is a perquisite for any kind of transition.

Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton once threatened Russia and China that they would “_pay a price_” for their position on the Syrian issue. It should be noted that these powers maintained a balanced approach throughout and advocated dialogue from the start, in addition to stringently adhering to former UN Envoy Kofi Annan’s six point peace plan. Iran should also be given due credit for hosting an International Consultative Conference in August 2012, which brought together representatives of thirty nations to call for ending the flow of foreign arms into terrorist hands inside Syria, proposals to broker a meaningful ceasefire, the coordination of humanitarian aid, and support for Syrian people’s right to reform without foreign interference.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted in the Washington Post stating, “_Syrian society is a beautiful mosaic of ethnicities, faiths and cultures, and it will be smashed to pieces should President Bashar al-Assad abruptly fall. The idea that, in that event, there would be an orderly transition of power is an illusion. Abrupt political change without a roadmap for managed political transition will lead only to a precarious situation that would destabilize one of the world’s most sensitive regions.”_ It is clear that the Bashar al-Assad government is more stable than many Western states anticipated, and it continues to enjoy popular support. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah recently warned against sectarian infighting in Lebanon related to the Syrian civil war, arguing that outsiders are pushing Lebanon “ toward civil and religious strife, and specifically Sunni-Shia strife.”

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki also warned that a victory for rebels would “create a new extremist haven and destabilize the wider Middle East.” The Syrian regime will not imminently collapse but if it is brought down by military intervention, the consequences could lead to a highly unpredictable situation where match and tinder can meet at any moment with debilitating consequences for the region. It is time for both parties to convene. It is time to end this war.

Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]_

Links:
——
[1]http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-04-17/world/35262231_1_syrian-opposition-diplomatic-cables-syrian-authorities
[2]http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=all
[3]http://www.cfr.org/syria/al-qaedas-specter-syria/p28782
[4]http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/23/two_cheers_for_syrian_islamists#.UDbbIXgLrR9.twitter
[5]http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

O que esse homem significou, e significa, para o sul global e para todos que se empenham em conseguir um caminho melhor para a humanidade, não pode ser sobrestimado. Estou tão triste que nem tenho palavras. Um pedaço de mim quer se encolher e lamentar. Mas também sinto que é importante achar as palavras e divulgá-las, dizê-las repetidamente. Viva o Comandante Chavez! Viva la revolucion! Viva el socialismo boliviano!

Este é um momento assustador e vulnerável para o povo da Venezuela e para qualquer um que resista à agressão imperialista. As forças reacionárias guiadas pelos EUA já tentaram um golpe contra Chavez mais de uma vez, e é quase certo que estão tentando algo enquanto falamos. Suas bocas salivam com a expectativa de acabar com um dos maiores símbolos de resistência, e todos que se importam em resistir ao império devem ficar muito atentos.

Não é paranoia nem retórica. Mesmo se fosse um caso documentado de câncer, eu não duvidaria que teve o dedo desses filhos da mãe. O que tentaram com Fidel excede o crível, mas está bem documentado. Independentemente da vigilância eterna e tudo mais… Gente, levante os escudos! Estamos prestes a nos sujeitar a um tsunami virtual de mentiras na mídia americana, parte de uma campanha previsível e de longa data para desestabilizar a Venezuela e debilitar a revolução do povo. NÃO SE DEIXEM ENGANAR! Americanos, geralmente adormecidos rapidamente, aceitam rápido demais as mentiras que o governo cospe enquanto promove golpes e inquietação no hemisfério e no mundo. Guatemala, Honduras, Nicarágua, Colômbia, Panamá, Haiti, D.R., Chile… A lista é interminável… Não há praticamente um país que o governo americano não tenha tentado foder na busca de cumprir a sua própria agenda imperialista. NÃO IMPORTA QUEM ESTÁ NA CASA BRANCA, não importa a sua raça ou partido, ou a tão chamada “filosofia”. É assim que a máquina funciona; fiquem de olhos, mentes e corações abertos.

Na verdade, é quase sempre quando a tão conhecida “esquerda” está no poder (tão ridículo quanto essa ideia é ninguém notar isso) que as forças de reação tentam introduzir sorrateiramente uma rápida vitória, encobertas na escuridão, por assim dizer. A investida de Obama na Previdência Social e a sua “austeridade” de merda é um exemplo perfeito. Todas as situações que pairam no ar são o sonho erótico da ala da direita e seriam inconcebíveis sem a capa “Democrática”.

Na escala global, claro, as coisas são ainda piores. Não há como negar a criminalidade do governo americano contra as nações soberanas no seu próprio hemisfério, e não há chapéu grande o suficiente que nos faça parecer com os mocinhos. O governo americano e as forças que representa simples, trágica e constantemente ficam do lado errado em todas as conjunturas possíveis.

Agora, é hora de melhorar e promover essas diferenças entre “nós” e “eles”. Imperialismo, capitalismo, detentores do poder, seja lá como você os chama, prosperam ao promover uma falsa “unidade” enquanto disseminam discórdia em qualquer questão de qualquer importância. É hora de união e solidariedade com quem resiste ao império, neste hemisfério e em todo o mundo. As máquinas militares dos EUA e da OTAN rodeiam o mundo como o polvo traiçoeiro que são, e qualquer um no caminho do domínio global será arrasado. Isso quer dizer ser morto, além de sofrer conspiração e ser demonizado, atacado, manipulado, assustado e ameaçado de submissão.  As pessoas que não percebem isso se colocam contra a vasta maioria da população mundial, para a qual há realmente um mundo real além da bolha corporativa da mídia puxa saco na qual os americanos vivem e dormem; principalmente dormem.

A recolonização da África, a destruição brutal e planejada da Líbia, financiar, armar, treinar e proteger assassinos nominalmente islâmicos, tudo isso revela um cinismo e uma arrogância exasperadamente familiar para a maioria dos cidadãos do hemisfério além das fronteiras americanas. Isso é, na verdade, o passado que se repete, dessa vez com anti-heróis islâmicos em vez de marxistas, na narrativa reacionária, exceto, claro, quando são os nossos desgraçados.

Ainda há mais lutas por vir, mais paradas no mesmo trem, mais lições para serem aprendidas, esquecidas, ignoradas e observadas. Mas é importante expressar a raiva e o desespero que sentimos na sua força mais básica. Slogans perfeitamente bons quando os nossos corações estão pesados, geralmente, são tudo que podemos juntar.  Então, lá vai: EUA tire as suas mãos sanguinárias e criminosas da Venezuela e tire os seus assassinos e espiões do sul global! ESTE é o teste, amigos… De que lado da luta global vocês estão?

Continuem a avançar, reagir, lutar, falar, convencer, defender, apoiar; no momento, isso é de suprema importância. Ni un paso atras, nisiquiera para coger impulse! Te queremos, Comandante Chavez! Eres de los muertos que nunca mueren. FIQUE DE LUTO PELO MORTO e LUTE COMO O DIABO PELA VIDA!

 Daniel Patrick Welch.

O escritor, cantor, linguista e ativista Daniel Patrick Welch mora e escreve em Salem, Massachusetts, com sua esposa, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Juntos dirigem a The Greenhouse School (http://www.greenhouseschool.org). Leia outros artigos de Daniel Patrick, ou visite o seu site http://danielpwelch.com

Unforgettable

Hugo Chávez Frías passed away from the pain and struggle of this world on March 5, only to become a permanent part of a constellation of revolutionary heroes. [On] March 8, Chávez [was] laid to rest in a manner that will leave him on permanent display for millions of his adoring followers in Venezuela, the oppressed and marginalized majority whose cause he so valiantly championed through 14 years of government and at least 17 elections and referenda. He will be preserved physically, and politically, having emerged not just as Venezuela’s most significant leader since Simón Bolívar, but as the recognizable face of a global anti-imperialist movement. Chávez has now become a firm part of the Latin American political canon. In death, he is being literally monumentalized, an institution in his own right.

While many of us do feel his passing as an immense and deep loss, and 14 years was simply not enough, there is much to celebrate, and much to build on and continue. Apart from the seemingly infinite video and film recordings, we will never again hear his booming voice or his laughter, hear him sing, see him pound his fists into the air, watch that mischievous look in his eye that accompanied his smile–those closest to him, and those who followed him closely, will feel this sort of absence especially and little can make up for it. On the other hand, one should not descend into tragedy and remain stuck in mourning. Hugo Chávez is now more than just a man, or a memory of a man, he is a movement. Without a doubt, Hugo Chávez has become the new Ché Guevara–expect to see him everywhere, for the rest of your own days.

Over the past few days, and relying primarily and purposely on Venezuelan media and secondly on non-mainstream media from elsewhere,* I have been tracing (here mostly, here too) the outpouring of international support that has accompanied the millions coming out yet in the Venezuelan streets yet again for Chávez. The latest news is that 53 international delegations will be participating in the funeral for Chávez, 32 of which are led by heads of government or state. Leaders and representatives of Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea, Argentina, Honduras, and Peru, have visited the Military Academy where Chávez has been temporarily placed. Also visiting Chávez’s casket in the chapel have been the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curaçao. Due to arrive this morning for the funeral will be the following presidents: Chile, Sebastián Piñera; Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla; Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina; El Salvador, Mauricio Funes; Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina; Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto; Panama, Ricardo Martinelli; Suriname, Desiré Delano; Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko; Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Prince of Asturias on behalf of the King of Spain. Chinese media reported somewhat different numbers: “A total of 33 heads of state and 55 high-level international delegations from 54 countries and regions“–a figure that seems to grow by the minute, and which has been confirmed by Venezuelan media. A total of at least 15 governments around the world have declared official days of mourning in honour of  Chávez, most declaring at least three days of mourning, among them: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Iran, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and as far away as Belarus, Nigeria (with seven days of official mourning), and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (see more here). The Venezuelan Foreign Minister has rightly called this an unprecedented level of international mourning for a deceased government leader.

Those interested in following the funeral, can do so starting from 11:30 am (EST), by seeing thelive stream here. Otherwise, there is a thorough and comprehensive collection of videos on thisYouTube channel.

North American and western European mainstream media are worth ignoring almost entirely, unless one’s purpose is to do yet another catalogue of the abrasive and abusive brainwashing by amateur propagandists, something that passes itself off as “journalism” and which holds media consumers in utter contempt. Our media are no longer produced by adults, nor are their products intended for adults. The predictable narrative is that of the megalomaniac corporate media serving the 1% which has great reason to fear that the real message of Chávez’s life and accomplishments might escape their control. And it has escaped their control. Western media are not just quite dispensable, they invite dismissal altogether. Those who spend their time with such media will encounter the usual clumsy and irresponsible characterizations of Chávez as a “dictator” and “demagogue” or that Venezuelan society is “divided” (which society isn’t?), as if it were somehow divided into two equal parts. When what we have leading us are bland cardboard cutouts who play powerlessness (when it comes to spending on education, healthcare, social security, and employment creation), because they are mere stand-ins for the powerful corporate elites, surely someone with character, personality, passion and purpose must be a demagogue.

Fortunately, less reactionary opinions have been flowing in, presented below in no particular order, and with only a few selected.

chavezwins

Permanence

Cristina Fernández: “I only want to remember him as he was alive. Because he is alive.

Raul Castro: “Hugo Chávez died unbeaten, invincible and victorious.”

ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America): “President Hugo Chávez was in life the beacon of light that inspired the emergence of ALBA-TCP, as an emancipatory project of the Latin American and Caribbean countries…[in the history of the Americas] no president had done so much in such a short time for the integration and unity of the peoples of our continent….UNASURCELACPetrocaribe and ALBA are the practical expressions of the integrationist fervor of Commander Hugo Chávez …who brought fervor and passion to the causes of integration and anti-imperialism, for the redemption of the poor and marginalized of the whole world. Today the world’s poor feel deeply for the physical passing of the leader who represented their voice and who will remain forever in their hearts, our dear Commander Hugo Chávez.”

UNASUR (Union of South American Nations): “The lasting mark made by President Chávez , head of the Bolivarian Revolution and key leader of the South American union, leaves a legacy and historical example of solidarity with fraternal peoples, that will last in the memory and hearts of Latin Americans, as a contribution to the path of our regional integration.”

Statements from across the government of Belize, including the opposition: “President Chávez was a true friend of Belize and over many years, the Belizean people enjoyed the fruits of friendship and cooperation that the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic offered Belize under the leadership of President Chávez. His public life was one of leadership and struggle for high ideals and principles, with the purpose of improving the lives of individual citizens and promoting a spirit of community among peoples and among nations. It is under his leadership that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was established in Caracas, Venezuela, in December of 2011.”

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary for ECLAC/CEPAL (Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean): “Mr. Chávez will take his rightful place in our hearts and minds among the great men and women who have left their mark on the history of our continent. I had the opportunity to witness his unfailing commitment to the dispossessed, the poorest and the most humble, which defined his political and private persona. He made equality his compass, and the proud sovereignty of his homeland was his constant guide. His emergence changed the face of the Americas for the better, because Mr. Chávez proved that when the will for constructive change is the expression of majority aspiration rather than just a personal enlightenment, it becomes an unstoppable force. He was a determined campaigner for Latin American brotherhood, and his vision and tenacity are at the root of the new road map for integration, as UNASUR to CELAC, and ALBA to PETROCARIBE owe their origins to Mr. Chávez.”

Hebe de Bonafini, president of the association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Argentina): “Not only has a comrade departed, but one who is irreplaceable. He was one of these men who is rarely born, who is not repeated.”

General Workers’ Confederation of Argentina: “To the brave people of Venezuela, there is no obstacle that can divert the road. During these years of hard work building the Bolivarian revolution, under the key leadership of Commander Hugo Chávez Frías, popular consciousness and popular will have become consolidated offering an example and guide for all of our America….the workers of Argentina will not forget the beloved Commander, who will live forever in the hearts and struggles of dignified peoples.”

National Indigenous Peasant Movement of Argentina (MNCI): “Commander Hugo Chávez devoted his life, energy, love and passion to Latin American unity and integration, to win liberty and equality for our peoples, for bringing the dawn (ALBA) of socialism.”

Evo Morales: “a caring brother, a fellow revolutionary, a Latin American who fought for his country, for the great homeland, as Simon Bolivar did. He gave his whole life for the liberation of the Venezuelan people, the people of Latin America and all anti-imperialist fighters in the world.”

“Chávez died, but he will return in the millions, in the thousands of millions of Chavistas, not just in Venezuela, Bolivia, etc., but across the planet.”

Rigoberta Menchú (Nobel Peace Prize laureate): “He has not died. He has made a transcendental passage in the evolution of life….We have lost a great president, a great friend, and a great comrade of the most oppressed peoples of the continent.”

Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe: “They helped us after the (2012) floods. They sent over 600 tons of food just recently. They are helping us every day with Petrocaribe. We’re going there to pay tribute to their people and of course show solidarity with the Venezuelan people.”

Mahmoud Abbas: “This is a great loss for us. The Palestinian people will remain faithful to Chávez whose memory will remain engraved in our consciousness in recognition of his courageous support for our right to an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Vladimir Putin: “President Hugo Chávez lifted hundreds of thousands, millions, of people out of poverty. He was talented and courageous. He is added to the list of sons of Latin America as Simon Bolivar, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and, among the living, Fidel Castro. He became a symbol of the Latin American struggle for independence and freedom. The ideals were internationalist, but he was also proud of his indigenous origins. Speaking of international affairs, I can safely say that Chávez always tried to ensure the establishment of friendly relations with all countries of the world without exception. But he never did that at the cost of suppressing the interests of his beloved Venezuela, never did he try to be nice to all at the expense of his own people.”

Jimmy Carter: “President Hugo Chávez will be remembered for his bold defense of the autonomy and independence of Latin American governments, and for his formidable communication skills in making a personal connection with his supporters, both at home and in the abroad.”

Imran Khan:

 

 

Sean Penn: “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela.”

Oliver Stone: “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place. Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”

Undefeated

Hugo Chávez remains undefeated, as expressed by Derrick O’Keefe, the president of the Canadian Peace Alliance. Imperialism could not defeat him. The U.S. failed in its efforts to overthrow him by way of its proxies. Chávez won election after election after referendum. Venezuela became the most democratic state in the modern history of the Americas. Unlike any of us in the North, Venezuelans were given the opportunity to participate in rewriting their own Constitution. Chávez could draw crowds that, in both absolute numbers, and especially in proportional terms, Obama could only dream of ever attracting. Chávez drew such crowds regularly at home, and often abroad too.

Among the numerous impressive social and economic achievements under Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution, scholars have gathered the following details:

To make a more objective assessment of the real progress achieved by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela during the last 13 years it is essential to review some of the key available data on the social determinants of health and poverty: education, inequality, jobs and income, health care, food security and social support and services.

With regard to these social determinants of health indicators, Venezuela is now the country in the region with the lowest inequality level (measured by the Gini Coefficient) having reduced inequality by 54%, poverty by 44%.Poverty has been reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010)And extreme poverty reduced from 40% (1996) to a very low level of 7.3% (2010). About 20 million people have benefited from anti-poverty programs, called “Misiones” (Up to now, 2.1 million elderly people have received old-age pensions – that is 66% of the population while only 387,000 received pensions before the current government).

Education is a key determinant of both health and poverty and the Bolivarian government has placed a particular emphasis on education allotting it more than 6% of GDP. UNESCO has recognized that illiteracy [has] been eliminated furthermore, Venezuela is the 3rd county in the region whose population reads the most. There is tuition free education from daycare to university; 72% of children attend public daycares and 85% of school age children attend school. There are thousands of new or refurbished schools, including 10 new universities. The country places 2nd in Latin America and 5th in the world with the greatest proportions of university students. In fact, 1 out of every 3 Venezuelans are enrolled in some educational program. It is also a great achievement that Venezuela is now tied with Finland as the 5th country with the happiest population in the world.

Before the Chavez government in 1998, 21% of the population was malnourished. Venezuela now has established a network of subsidized food distribution including grocery stores and supermarkets. While 90% of the food was imported in 1980, today this is less than 30%. Misión Agro-Venezuela has given out 454,238 credits to rural producers and 39,000 rural producers have received credit in 2012 alone. Five million Venezuelan receive free food, four million of them are children in schools and 6,000 food kitchens feed 900,000 people. The agrarian reform and policies to help agricultural producers have increased domestic food supply. The results of all these food security measures is that today malnourishment is only 5%, and child malnutrition which was 7.7% in 1990 today is at 2.9%. This is an impressive health achievement by any standards.

Some of the most important available data on health care and public health are as following:

*infant mortality dropped from 25 per 1000 (1990) to only 13/1000 (2010);

*An outstanding 96% of the population has now access to clean water (one of the goals of the revolution);

*In 1998, there were 18 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, currently there are 58, and the public health system has about 95,000 physicians;

*It took four decades for previous governments to build 5,081 clinics, but in just 13 years the Bolivarian government built 13,721 (a 169.6% increase);

*Barrio Adentro (i.e., primary care program with the help of more than 8,300 Cuban doctors) has approximately saved 1,4 million lives in 7,000 clinics and has given 500 million consultations;

*In 2011 alone, 67,000 Venezuelans received free high cost medicines for 139 pathologies conditions including cancer, hepatitis, osteoporosis, schizophrenia, and others; there are now 34 centres for addictions,

*In 6 years 19,840 homeless have been attended through a special program; and there are practically no children living on the streets.

*Venezuela now has the largest intensive care unit in the region.

*A network of public drugstores sell subsidized medicines in 127 stores with savings of 34-40%.

*51,000 people have been treated in Cuba for specialized eye treatment and the eye care program “Mision Milagro”; has restored sight to 1.5 million Venezuelans.

An example that clearly has earned the right to be hated by our ruling right wing parties (in Canada, the U.S., Europe), and which has earned the contempt of the children of Venezuelan oligarchs who call all of this “misery,” who call Chávez “the worst president ever” (even when compared to those that massacred thousands in the streets). This is the madness of the oppressors, that they can turn the world upside down, call thin fat, short tall, war peace, and actually demandthat we believe them. They are finished. The anti-Bolivarian opposition in Venezuela can look forward to being buried and soundly defeated like never before in the elections that will be scheduled to take place in the next 30 days. Advance congratulations to President Nicolás MaduroLong Live Hugo Chávez, Chávez Lives Forever.

chavezmaduro

Throughout his tenure, Obama waged war on labor. Perez won’t change things. He’ll replace Hilda Solis. She resigned in January. She accomplished little in four years.

She’s the daughter of immigrant union members. She failed to deliver as promised. She pledged to make a difference and didn’t. Expect little change from Perez. More on him below.

Organized labor in America’s in disarray. In January, union membership reached a near-century low. Only 11.3% of US workers are organized.

Private sector unionization’s down to 6.6%. It’s the lowest percentage in over 100 years. It’s headed perhaps for extinction.

Union bosses bear much responsibility. They side more with management than rank and file members. They conspire against their own.

They abandoned their most effective weapon. They rarely strike. They block collective struggle. They betray promises made.

They’re self-serving. They prioritize their own welfare. They place it above rank and file interests. They’re complicit in supporting the divine right of capital. They’ve been that way for decades.

The UAW reflects organized labor’s decline. At about 380,000, its membership barely exceeds one-third its total eight years ago.

In the 1950s, about 35% of workers were organized. In 1979, it was around 24%. At the end of the Reagan era, it was 16.8%. In 2007, it was 12%. In 2011, it was 11.8%. It continues declining annually.

Obama, other Democrats, Republicans and union bosses conspire. They do so unconscionably. They want workers to live or die by market-based rules. They’re rigged against them. They haven’t got a chance. They’re on their own sink or swim.

A race to the bottom heads them toward serfdom. In November 2003, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) offered hope. It went nowhere during Bush’s tenure.

Obama followed suit. He spurned it. In July 2009, he and Senate Democrats agreed to block EFCA’s “card check” provision. They removed it from pending legislation.

It would have required employers to recognize the right to organize once most workers signed union cards freely and openly. Hope for passage died. So did worker rights.

Real unemployment’s at 23%. Economist John Williams called February’s jobs gain and reported unemployment rate “not meaningful.” Numbers are distorted to belie reality.

Economic conditions are deplorable. They’ve been that way for years. Around 25 million working age Americans can’t find jobs.

Millions more involuntarily take low-pay/poor benefit part-time or temp ones. Obama’s a jobs destroyer, not creator.

He’s waging war on America’s social contract. He wants it eliminated altogether. He spurns worker rights. Don’t expect Perez to change things. His resume belies what he’ll do.

He won’t be worker friendly. It’s not his job. He’ll continue same old, same old. He’s mandated to do it. He has no other choice. He’ll perform as asked or be replaced.

He’s an attorney. From 1989 – 2001, he served in the Bush I and Clinton Justice Department. He was a prosecutor in its Civil Rights Division.

He was Janet Reno’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. From 1995 – 1998, he was Senator Edward Kennedy’s special counsel. He was his main civil rights/criminal justice/constitutional issues advisor.

Through the remainder of Clinton’s administration, he was Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2009, Obama chose him as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. He began serving in October. Prior to his appointment, he was Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

From 2002 – 2006, he also served on the Montgomery County Council. He was the first Latino to do so.

From 2001 – 2007, he taught law at the University of Maryland. He’s currently a part-time George Washington School of Public Health faculty member.

Senator Charles Grassley (R. IA) criticizes his nomination. So do other lawmakers. At issue is racial discrimination. Perez was involved in getting St. Paul, MN to drop a Supreme Court appeal.

Fair lending advocates said doing so harmed a central enforcement tenet in housing discrimination cases.

The Justice Department declined to join two whistleblower lawsuits. They were filed against St. Paul. It was done in exchange for dropping the appeal.

Justice Department officials claimed Perez’s involvement was appropriate. On March 7, Grassley said:

“If Mr. Perez is nominated, he should face a lot of tough questions about this quid pro quo deal he appears to have put together.”

“I shudder to think how whistleblowers will be treated in the Labor Department if this quid pro quo with St. Paul is any indication of Mr. Perez’s approach to this important area of law.”

Supporters call him a dedicated civil rights enforcer. He has little labor experience. His civil rights advocacy won’t matter. Politics trumps principle.

Perez’s nomination comes at a time offshoring manufacturing, technology and other jobs continues. Workers lucky enough to have jobs face pay and benefit cuts.

Foreign workers given H-1b/L-1 visas fill many remaining openings. They do so at lower pay. US employees face sacking after training them. A race to the bottom assures more of the same.

Obama’s exploiting immigrants. Millions of family members of legal US residents await permanent residency status.

Proposed legislation imposes tough standards. Undocumented immigrants will be forced to the back of the line. US citizens trying to bring unmarried Mexican children to America requires waiting 17 years or longer. Might as well wait a lifetime.

Sweeping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) discriminatory harshness continues. Obama treats undocumented immigrants like criminals. He deported record numbers. He incarcerates thousands more.

Obama spurns them. He’s contemptuous of worker rights. Don’t expect Perez to make a difference. He won’t dare challenge his boss. He won’t be around very long if he tries.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/thomas-perez-obamas-labor-secretary-choice/

El presidente Hugo Chávez, quien falleció el 5 de marzo de 2013 de un cáncer a los 58 años, marcó para siempre la historia de Venezuela y de América Latina.

1.    Jamás en la historia de América Latina, un líder político alcanzó una legitimidad democrática tan irrefutable. Desde su llegada al poder en 1999, hubo 16 elecciones en Venezuela. Hugo Chávez ganó 15, de las cuales la última fue el 7 de octubre de 2012. Siempre derrotó a sus rivales con una diferencia de 10 a 20 puntos.

2.    Todas las instancias internacionales, desde la Unión Europea hasta la Organización de Estados Americanos, pasando por la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas y el Centro Carter, se mostraron unánimes al reconocer la transparencia de los escrutinios.

3.    James Carter, antiguo presidente de Estados Unidos, incluso declaró que el sistema electoral de Venezuela era “el mejor de mundo”.

Milhares de venezuelanos se concentram nas ruas de Caracas para acompanhar cortejo fúnebre de Hugo Chávez
4.    La universalización del acceso a la educación instaurada en 1998 tuvo resultados excepcionales. Cerca de 1,5 millones de venezolanos aprendieron a leer y escribir gracias a la campaña de alfabetización denominada Misión Robinson I.

5.    En diciembre de 2005, la UNESCO decretó que se había erradicado el analfabetismo en Venezuela.

6.    El número de niños escolarizados pasó de 6 millones en 1998 a 13 millones en 2011 y la tasa de escolarización es ahora de 93,2%.

7.    La Misión Robinson II se lanzó para llevar al conjunto de la población a alcanzar el nivel secundario. Así, la tasa de escolarización en la enseñanza secundaria pasó de un 53,6% en 2000 a un 73,3% en 2011.

8.    Las Misiones Ribas y Sucre permitieron a decenas de miles de jóvenes adultos emprender estudios universitarios. Así, el número de estudiantes pasó de 895.000 en 2000 a 2,3 millones en 2011, con la creación de nuevas universidades.

9.    Con respecto a la salud, se creó el Sistema Nacional Público para garantizar el acceso gratuito a la atención médica a todos los venezolanos. Entre 2005 y 2012 se crearon 7.873 centros médicos en Venezuela.

10.    El número de médicos pasó de 20 por 100.000 habitantes en 1999 a 80 por 100.000 en 2010, o sea un aumento del 400%.

11.    La Misión Barrio Adentro I permitió realizar 534 millones de consultas médicas. Cerca de 17 millones de personas pudieron ser atendidas, mientras que en 1998, menos de 3 millones de vidas tenían acceso regular a la salud. Se salvaron 1,7 millones de vidas entre 2003 y 2011.

12.    La tasa de mortalidad infantil pasó de un 19,1 por mil en 1999 a un 10 por mil en 2012, o sea una reducción de un 49%.

13.    La esperanza de vida pasó de 72,2 años en 1999 a 74,3 años en 2011.

Efe

14.    Gracias a la Operación Milagro lanzada en 2004, 1,5 millones de venezolanos víctimas de cataratas u otras enfermedades oculares, recobraron la vista.

15.    De 1999 a 2011, la tasa de pobreza pasó de un 42,8% a un 26,5% y la tasa de extrema pobreza de un 16,6% en 1999 à un 7% en 2011.

16.    En la clasificación del Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH) del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), Venezuela pasó del puesto 83 en el año 2000 (0,656) al puesto 73 en 2011 (0,735), y entró en la categoría de las naciones con el IDH elevado.

17.    El coeficiente GINI, que permite calcular la desigualdad en un país, pasó de 0,46 en 1999 a 0,39 en 2011.

18.    Según el PNUD, Venezuela ostenta el coeficiente GINI más bajo de América Latina, es el país de la región donde hay menos desigualdad.

19.    La tasa de desnutrición infantil se redujo en un 40% desde 1999.

20.    En 1999, el 82% de la población tenía acceso al agua potable. Ahora es un 95%.

21.    Durante la presidencia de Chávez, los gastos sociales aumentaron en un 60,6%.

22.    Antes de 1999, sólo 387.00 ancianos recibían una pensión. Ahora son 2,1 millones.

23.    Desde 1999, se construyeron 700.00 viviendas en Venezuela.

24.    Desde 1999, el gobierno entregó más de un millón de hectáreas de tierras a los pueblos aborígenes del país.

25.    La reforma agraria permitió a decenas de miles de agricultores ser dueños de sus  tierras. En total, se distribuyeron más de 3 millones de hectáreas.

 

 

 

26.    En 1999, Venezuela producía el 51% de los alimentos que consumía. En 2012, la producción es de un 71%, mientras que el consumo de alimentos aumentó en un 81% desde 1999. Si el consumo de 2012 fuera similar al de 1999, Venezuela producirían el 140% de los alimentos consumidos a nivel nacional.

27.    Desde 1999, la tasa de calorías que consumen los venezolanos aumentó en un 50% gracias a la Misión Alimentación que creó una cadena de distribución de 22.000 almacenes de alimentos (MERCAL, Casas de Alimentación, Red PDVAL), donde se subvencionan los productos a la altura de un 30%. El consumo de carne aumentó en un 75% desde 1999.

28.    Cinco millones de niños reciben ahora alimentación gratuita a través del Programa de Alimentación Escolar. Eran 250.000 en 1999.

29.    La tasa de desnutrición pasó de un 21% en 1998 a menos del 3% en 2012.

30.    Según la FAO, Venezuela es el país de América Latina y del Caribe más avanzado en la erradicación del hambre.

31.    La nacionalización de la empresa petrolera PDVSA en 2003 permitió a Venezuela recuperar su soberanía energética.

32.    La nacionalización de los sectores eléctricos y de telecomunicación (CANTV y Electricidad de Caracas) permitió poner término a situaciones de monopolio y universalizar el acceso a estos servicios.

33.    Desde 1999, se crearon más de 50.000 cooperativas en todos los sectores de la economía.

34.    La tasa de desempleo pasó de un 15,2% en 1998 a un 6,4% en 2012, con la creación de más de 4 millones de empleos.

35.    El salario mínimo pasó de 100 bolívares (16 dólares) en 1998 a 247,52 bolívares (330 dólares) en 2012, o sea, un aumento de más del 2.000%. Se trata del salario mínimo más elevado de América Latina.

36.    En 1999, el 65% de la población activa cobraba el salario mínimo. En 2012 sólo el 21,1% de los trabajadores disponen de este nivel salarial.

37.    Los adultos de cierta edad que nunca trabajaron disponen de un ingreso de protección equivalente al 60% del salario mínimo.

38.    Las mujeres desprotegidas así como las personas discapacitadas reciben una ayuda equivalente al 80% del salario mínimo.

39.     El horario laboral se redujo a 6 horas diarias y a 36 horas semanales sin disminución del salario.

40.    La deuda pública pasó de un 45% del PIB en 1998 al 20% en 2011. Venezuela se retiró del Fondo Monetario Internacional y del Banco Mundial rembolsando con anticipación todas sus deudas.

41.    En 2012, la tasa de crecimiento de Venezuela fue del 5,5%, una de las más elevadas del mundo.

42.    El PIB por habitante pasó de 4.100 dólares en 1999 a 10.810 dólares en 2011.

43.    Según el informe anual World Happiness de 2012, Venezuela es el segundo país más feliz de América Latina, detrás de Costa Rica, y el decimonoveno a nivel mundial, delante de Alemania o España.

44.    Venezuela ofrece un apoyo directo al continente americano más importante que Estados Unidos. En 2007, Chávez dedicó más de 8.800 millones de dólares a donaciones, financiaciones y ayuda energética contra sólo 3.000 millones de la administración Bush.

45.    Por primera vez en su historia, Venezuela dispone de sus propios satélites (Bolívar y Miranda) y es ahora soberana en el campo de la tecnología espacial. Hay Internet y telecomunicaciones en todo el territorio.

46.    La creación de Petrocaribe en 2005 permite a 18 países de América Latina y del Caribe, o sea 90 millones de personas, adquirir petróleo subvencionado a la altura del 40% al 60%, y asegurar su abastecimiento energético.

47.    Venezuela brinda también ayuda a las comunidades desfavorecidas de Estados Unidos proporcionándoles combustible con tarifas subvencionadas.

48.    La creación de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra América (ALBA) en 2004 entre Cuba y Venezuela asentó las bases de una alianza integradora basada en la cooperación y la reciprocidad, que agrupa a 8 países miembros, y que ubica al ser humano en el centro del proyecto de sociedad, con el objetivo de luchar contra la pobreza y la exclusión social.

49.    Hugo Chávez está en el origen de la creación en 2011 de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC) que agrupa por primera vez las 33 naciones de la región, que se emancipan así de la tutela de Estados Unidos y de Canadá.

50.    Hugo Chávez desempeño un papel clave en el proceso de paz en Colombia. Según el presidente Juan Manuel Santos, “si avanzamos en un proyecto sólido de paz, con progresos claros y concretos, progresos jamás alcanzados antes con las FARC, es también gracias a la dedicación y al compromiso de Chávez y del gobierno de Venezuela”.

Salim Lamrani

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris IV-Sorbonne, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de la Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba, París, Ediciones Estrella, 2011, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade.
Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

Two years ago today, northern Japan was hit by a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake, triggering a tsunami that flattened dozens of coastal towns and a crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Nearly 19,000 people were killed or went missing, presumed dead, according to official figures.

The north eastern region, known as Tohoku, remains a disaster zone, with reconstruction barely begun in many areas. A third of a million evacuees are still living in temporary accommodation, which was meant to be for two years only, and have no immediate prospect of resettlement. The exclusion zones around the nuclear plant are likely to remain in place for many years. The decommissioning of the crippled Daiichi plant is now expected to take up to 40 years.

The fate of the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake is an indictment of capitalism. Japan is a technologically-sophisticated economy, the world’s third largest, but reconstruction is proceeding at a snail’s pace. Only 8 trillion yen of the 25 trillion yen ($268 billion) in planned reconstruction funds has been allocated. Of that, only half has been spent, in some cases on projects unrelated to the disaster.

Media reports published in the lead up to the second anniversary provide snapshots of the bleak situation facing survivors. Even before the earthquake, Tohoku was an economically depressed region.

Associated Press reported on the coastal town of Rikuzentakata. About three quarters of its 8,000 homes, along with businesses and infrastructure, were flattened by the 13-metre tsunami that swept over the area. Nothing permanent has been rebuilt. In late February, work finally began on the first public housing project. Few businesses have restarted in the town, which relied previously on oyster farming, fish processing and tourism. Mayor Futoshi Toba said: “If 10 years from now we only have 2,000 people living here, that won’t do.”

An Independent Online article explained that nearly 40 percent of the population of the coastal city of Ishinomaki, or 74,000 people, were still living in temporary accommodation. Older survivors were relying on volunteers and charity for food. Alcoholism and depression were on the rise. Many young people had moved away as there was no future in the city.

In the Fukushima area, the situation is worse. According to Asahi Shimbun, some 54,000 people, or about 60 percent of the evacuees from the exclusion zone, will not be able to return to their homes for at least another four years due to ongoing nuclear contamination. These include the towns of Okuma and Futaba, near the nuclear plant, as well as Namie and Tomioka.

In an interview with Die Welt, Greenpeace nuclear expert Heinz Smital said the official assessments of de-contamination were too optimistic. He expressed “grave concerns” about former residents moving back to highly contaminated areas, saying that it was more likely that they would never be allowed to return.

The Japan Times spoke to evacuees from the town of Namie living in temporary housing, all of whom indicated that they did not want to return because of concerns about the radiation levels. However, government authorities are continuing to plan for the town’s re-establishment and provide no assistance to those who want to move out.

Nor has compensation from the owner of the nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), been finalised, leaving the victims in limbo. Last year the corporation threatened to halve its monthly hardship payments of 100,000 yen to Namie evacuees, but was forced to back off after a protest campaign.

From the outset, Tepco sought to cover up the extent of the disaster, which involved partial meltdowns in three of the six nuclear reactors. Power was cut off to the plant after the earthquake and the tsunami swamped emergency back-up generators that were inadequately protected. Temperatures in the reactor cores quickly spiked. Hydrogen explosions damaged the reactor buildings and exposed a used fuel rod cooling pond. A far worse catastrophe was only narrowly averted by establishing makeshift cooling systems.

Two years later, the clean-up and decommissioning of the plant have only just begun. Plant manager Takeshi Takahashi told journalists recently: “What we need to do is isolate and store the damaged and broken nuclear fuel safely. This work will take 30 to 40 years to complete.”

The Japanese government announced in December 2011 that the three damaged reactors had reached the state of “cold shutdown”. However, before the damaged nuclear fuel can be removed, it has to be located—a major task given the partial meltdown of the reactor cores. The conditions inside the three reactor buildings are too dangerous for workers to enter. In the case of reactor 3, the operation is further complicated by the use of highly toxic MOX (a mixture of plutonium and uranium) as nuclear fuel. Remotely-controlled robotic systems must be used.

Another major problem is posed by the huge quantities of water pumped into the reactor cores to keep them cool. In normal operation, the water used to cool the reactor is recycled with a closed system. But the damage to the reactors meant that water had to be supplied continuously as it leaked out. Tepco now has 260,000 tonnes of highly contaminated water stored in tanks, the capacity for about 60,000 tonnes more, and no functioning system for processing and disposing of the water. Its storage capacity will be reached within months.

Given the length of the decommissioning process, there are also concerns about another catastrophe if the plant were hit again by an earthquake. A nuclear engineer at the plant told the Australian: “What remained intact after the disaster is completely fragile and when the next one [quake or tsunami] comes it’s going to collapse. It [the plant] remains very vulnerable.”

Despite the many questions that remain about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the newly elected government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to restart more of Japan’s reactors, all of which were shut down amid widespread fears over nuclear safety. The crisis exposed Tepco’s long record of safety breaches and cover-ups as well as the cosy relations between energy companies with nuclear regulators.

The previous prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, provoked large protests when he restarted two of the country’s 54 nuclear reactors. Abe declared in the Japanese parliament on February 28 that reactors which pass new safety guidelines could restart within a year. While he declared there would be “no compromise” on safety, the safety changes are limited. Abe’s right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled Japan for most of the past 60 years, is responsible for the lax nuclear safety regulation that led to the Fukushima disaster.

Stand for Peace on the Korean Peninsula!

March 11th, 2013 by International Action Center

The International Action Center is supporting this campaign called by the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements!  We urge you all to do the same! 

Stand for Peace on the Korean Peninsula!

Join Our Photo Campaign to End the Korean War

On the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement that temporarily halted but did not end the Korean War, the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements calls upon allies around the world to stand for peace on the peninsula!
Sanctions against North Korea and annual U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises are clear signs that the Korean War—a war that left over four million dead and one in three Korean families divided—is not over.  We ask you to take five minutes and join us in solidarity not only against the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises and against North Korea sanctions, which only harm the North Korean people, but also for peace talks.  Our goal for our “I Stand for Peace” photo campaign is to get at least 200 supporters in the United States (and 1000 in Korea) to commit to the following:
1.     Take a photograph in either a public space or a place in your daily life holding a sign with the following demands written on it:
a.     End Sanctions Against North Korea!  (For more info. on sanctions, check out http://www.kpolicy.org/ documents/policy/ 091023shinchoinovotnysanctions .html.)
b.     Stop the U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises!  (For more info., check out http://www.kpolicy.org/ documents/interviews-opeds/ 130220christinehonghyunleelurc hingtowardswar.html.)
c.     End the Korean War! (and/or) Peace on the Korean Peninsula Now!
2.     Every Thursday for the next three weeks (March 7, 14, and 21), post a picture on your Facebook wall, Twitter account, or any social networking site that you are a part of.
Our goal is not just to create a powerful symbol of solidarity to use in our press events but also to awaken people to the ongoing 60-plus year fight for peace and reunification. We have had six decades of a precarious stability marked by military conflicts.  Now is the time for peace!
Through this campaign, we aim to counter the false belief that the peoples of the United States and South Korea support joint military exercises and a punitive sanctions regime that harms the North Korean people.  Together, we stand to say, “I Stand for Peace on the Korean Peninsula!”
Download Posters

I find myself wondering how many of our present day leaders, President Obama in particular, are aware of what happened in Palestine that became Israel on 10 March 65 years ago today.

On that day in 1948, two months before Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in defiance of the will of the organized international community as it then was at the UN, Zionism’s in-Palestine political and military leaders met in Tel Aviv to formally adopt PLAN DALET, the blueprint with operational military orders for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Deir Yassin

They did not and never would refer to the crime they authorised as ethnic cleansing. Their euphemism for it was “transfer”.

As noted in an excellent anniversary briefing paper by IMEU (the American-founded Institute for Middle East Understanding), from the earliest days of modern political Zionism its advocates grappled with the problem of creating a Jewish majority state in a part of the world where Palestinian Arabs were the overwhelming majority of the population.

The earliest insider information we have on Zionism’s thinking is from the diary of Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Zionism’s colonial-like enterprise. He wrote:

“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country… expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”

Those words were committed to paper by Herzl in 1895 but they were not published (in other words they were suppressed) until 1962.

By August 1937 “transfer” was a discreet but hot topic for discussion at the 20th Zionist Congress in Zurich, Switzerland. All in attendance were aware that the process of dispossessing the Palestinian peasants (the fellahin) mainly by purchasing land from absentee owners had been underway for years. Referring to this David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, said:

“You are no doubt aware of the (Jewish National Fund’s) activity in this respect. Now a transfer of a completely different scope will have to be carried out. In many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the Arab fellahinJewish power (in Palestine), which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out this transfer on a large scale.”

A year later Ben-Gurion told a meeting of the Jewish Agency that he supported compulsory transfer. He added:

I don’t see anything immoral in it.”

In my view that’s a most revealing statement. It tells us – does it not? – that Ben-Gurion, the Zionist state’s founding father, was a man with no sense of what was morally right and wrong.

Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Fund’s Lands Department which was responsible for acquiring the land for Zionism’s enterprise in Palestine. One of his diary entries for December 1940 reads as follows:

“There is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, and to transfer all of them, save perhaps for (the Arabs of) Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one (Bedouin) tribe. And only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution.”

Plan Dalet called for:

“Mounting operations against enemy population centres located inside or near our defensive system in order to prevent them from being used as bases by an active armed force. These operations can be divided into the following categories:

“Destruction of villages – setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris – especially those population centres which are difficult to control continuously.

“Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.”

Before the Zionist state declared itself to be in existence on 14 May 1948, more than 200 Palestinian villages had already been emptied and about 175,000 Palestinians were already refugees. Some had fled in fear; others were expelled by Zionist forces.

The prime fear factor was the slaughter by Zionist terrorists of more than 100 Palestinian men, women and children at Deir Yassin near Jerusalem. As Arthur Koestler was to write, the “bloodbath” at Deir Yassin was “the psychologically decisive factor in the spectacular exodus of the Arabs from the Holy Land and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem.”

It was, however, Menachem Begin, Zionism’s terror master and subsequently prime minister, who provided the most vivid description of how well the slaughter at Deir Yassin served Zionism’s cause. In his book The Revolt, he wrote:

“Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel. Kolonia village, which had previously repulsed every attack of the Haganah (the underground Jewish military organization that became the Israeli Army), was evacuated overnight and fell without further fighting. Beit-Iksa was also evacuated. These two places overlooked the road and their fall, together with the capture of Kastel by the Haganah, made it possible to keep open the road to Jerusalem. In the rest of the country, too, the Arabs began to flee in terror, even before they clashed with Jewish forces… The legend of Deir Yassin helped us in particular in the saving of Tiberias and the conquest of Haifa… All the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter. The Arabs began fleeing in panic, shouting ‘Deir Yassin!’”

Three decades later, in an article for The American Zionist, Mordechai Nisan of the Truman Research Centre of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem expressed his concern about the failure to understand the major significance of terrorism in the struggle for Jewish sovereignty. He wrote: “Without terror it is unlikely that Jewish independence would have been achieved when it was.”

After the Zionist state declared itself to be in existence, its government set up an unofficial body known as the “Transfer Committee”. Its job was to oversee the destruction of Palestinian towns and villages and/or their repopulation with Jews. The purpose of this Zionist strategy was to prevent dispossessed Palestinians returning to their homes.

By 1949 more than 400 Palestinian towns and villages had been systematically destroyed or taken over by Israeli Jews; and at least 750,000 Palestinians were refugees, dispossessed of their land, their homes and their rights.

In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe, Israel’s leading “revisionist” (meaning honest) historian, documents in detail Zionism’s systematic reign of terror which, from December 1947 to January 1949, included 31 massacres. (Deir Yassin was only the first). In a videoed conversation with me in 2008, which can be viewed in the Hart of the Matter series on my site (www.alanhart.net), Ilan said this:

Probably more surprising than anything else was not the silence of the world as Zionist ethnic cleansing was taking place in Palestine, but the silence of the Jews in Palestine. They knew what had happened to Jews in Nazi Europe, and some might even have seen it for themselves, yet they had no scruples in doing almost the same thing to the Palestinians.”

On this 65th anniversary of the authorization of the ethnic cleaning of Palestine, the questions I would like to see put to our leaders today, President Obama in particular, are the following:

Are you aware of Plan Dalet?

If not, why not?

If you are aware of it, could it not said be said that your refusal to call and hold Zionism to account for its crimes makes you (and your predecessors) complicit in those crimes by default?

 

The Fall of the House of Europe

March 11th, 2013 by Pepe Escobar

The Enchanters came / Cold and old,
Making day gray / And the age of gold
Passed away, / For men fell
Under their spell, / Were doomed to gloom.
Joy fled, / There came instead,
Grief, unbelief, / Lies, sighs,
Lust, mistrust, / Guile, bile,
Hearts grew unkind, / Minds blind,
Glum and numb, / Without hope or scope.
There was hate between states,
A life of strife, / Gaols and wails,
Dont’s, wont’s, / Chants, shants,
No face with grace, / None glad, all sad.

W H Auden, The Golden Age

We have, unfortunately, no post-modern version of Dante guided  by Virgil to tell a startled world what is really happening in Europe in the wake of the recent Italian general election.

On the surface, Italians voted an overwhelming “No” – against austerity (imposed the German way); against more taxes; against budget cuts in theory designed to save the euro. In the words of the center-left mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, “Our citizens have spoken loud and clear but maybe their message has not been fully grasped.” In fact it was.

There are four main characters in this morality/existential play worthy of the wackiest tradition of commedia dell ‘arte.

The Pyrrhic winner is Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the center-left coalition; yet he is unable to form a government. The undisputed loser is former Goldman Sachs technocrat and caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti.

And then there are the actual winners; “two clowns” – at least from a German point of view and also the City of London’s, via The Economist. The “clowns” are maverick comedian Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star movement; and notorious billionaire and former prime minister Silvio “Bunga Bunga” Berlusconi.

To muddle things even further, Berlusconi was sentenced to one year in prison last Thursday by a Milan court over a wiretapping scandal. He will appeal; and as he was charged and convicted before, once again he will walk. His mantra remains the same: ”I’m ‘persecuted’ by the Italian judiciary.”

There’s more, much more. These four characters – Bersani, Monti, Grillo, Berlusconi – happen to be at the heart of a larger than life Shakespearean tragedy: the political failure of the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund), which translates into the politics of the European Union being smashed to pieces.

That’s what happens when the EU project was never about a political ”union” – but essentially about the euro as a common currency. No wonder the most important mechanism of European unification is the European Central Bank. Yet abandon all hope of European politicians asking their disgruntled citizens about a real European union. Does anybody still want it? And exactly under what format?

Meet Absurdistan

Why things happened in Italy the way they did? There is scarcely a better explanation than Marco Cattaneo’s, expressed in this blog where he tries to understand ”Absurdistan”.

It all started with an electoral law that even in Italy was defined as ulna porcata (a load of rubbish), validating a ”disproportional” system (political scientists, take note) that could only lead to an ungovernable situation.

In Cattaneo’s matchless depiction, in the Senate the One for All, All For One coalition (Bersani’s) got 31.6% of the votes. The Everyone for Himself coalition (Berlusconi’s) got 30.7%. And the brand new One Equals One All the Others Equal No One movement (Grillo’s) got a surprising 23.8%.

And yet, defying all logic, in the end Everyone for Himself got 116 seats, One for All, All for One got 113 seats, and One Equals One All the Others Equal No One got only 54 – less than half.

At street level, from Naples to Turin and from Rome to Palermo, there’s a parallel explanation. No less than 45% of Italians, from retired civil servants living on 1,000 euros (US$1,300) a month to bankers making 10 million euros a year, don’t want any change at all. Another 45% – the unemployed, the underpaid – want radical change. And 10% don’t care – ever. Add that to the ungovernability lasagna.

And extract from it a nugget of cappuccino-at-the-counter wisdom. Absurdistan’s finances will soon be in a state as dire as Hellenistan – those neighborly descendants of Plato and Aristotle. And then Absurdistan will become a model to Europe and the world – where 1% of the population will control 99% of the national wealth. From Lorenzo de Medici to Berlusconi; talk about Decline and Fall.

Bunga Bunga me baby

Tried to death (including being convicted for tax fraud in October 2012; he walked); beneficiary of dodgy laws explicitly designed to protect himself and his enormous businesses empire; the Rabelaisian Bunga Bunga saga. He beat them all (so far). Silvio Berlusconi may be the ultimate comeback kid. How did he pull it off this time?

It’s easy when you mix a billionaire’s media wattage (and corporate control) with outlandish promises – such as scrapping a much-detested property tax. How to make up for the shortfall? Simple: Silvio promised new taxes on gambling, and a shady deal to recover some of the funds held by Italians in Swiss banks.

Does it matter that Switzerland made it clear it would take years for this scheme to work? Of course not. Even Silvio’s vast opposition was forced to admit the idea was a ”stroke of genius”. Nearly 25% of Italians voted for Silvio’s party. Nearly a third backed his right-wing coalition. In Lombardy – informally known as the Italian Texas – the coalition smashed the center-left to pieces; Tuscany on the other hand voted traditionally left, while Rome is a quintessential swing city.

Silvio’s voters are essentially owners of small and medium-sized businesses; the northern Italy that drives the economy. They are all tax-crazy; that ranges from legions of tax evaders to those who are being asphyxiated by the burden. Obviously, they couldn’t care less about Rome’s budget deficits. And they all think German Chancellor Angela Merkel should rot in Dante’s ninth circle of hell.

Frau Merkel, for her part, had been entertaining the idea of quietly cruising the eurozone waters towards her third term in the coming September elections. Fat chance – now thanks to Silvio’s and Beppe Grillo’s voters. Talk about a North-South abyss in Europe. The EU summit this month is going to be – literally – a riot.

Those sexy polit-clowns

All hell is breaking loose in the EU. Le Monde insists Europe is not in agony. Oh yes, it is; in a coma.

And yet Brussels (the bureaucrat-infested European Commission) and Berlin (the German government) simply don’t care about a Plan B; it’s austerity or bust. Predictably, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem – the new head of the spectacularly non-transparent political committee that runs the euro – said that what Monti was doing (and was roundly rejected by Italians) is ”crucial for the entire eurozone”.

In 2012, Italy’s economy shrank 2.2%, more than 100,000 small businesses went bust (yes, they all voted for Silvio), and unemployment is above 10% (in reality, over 15%). Italy may have the highest national debt in the eurozone after Greece. But here Absurdistan manifests itself once again via austerity; Italy’s fiscal deficit is much lower than France’s and Holland’s.

Pop up the champagne; France is in vertical decadence. It’s not only the industrial decline but also the perennial recession, social turbulence and public debt beyond 90% of GDP. France, the second-largest eurozone economy, asked the European Commission for an extra year to lower its deficit below 3% of GDP. Jens Weidman, president of the Bundesbank, roared ”Forget it”.

Portugal is also asking the troika for some room. Portugal’s economy is shrinking (by 2%) for the third year running, with unemployment at over 17%.

Spain is mired in a horrendous recession, also under a monster debt crisis. GDP fell 0.7% in 2012 and according to Citibank will fall a further 2.2% this year. Unemployment is at an overwhelming 26%, with youth unemployment over 50%. Not everyone can hit the lottery playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. Ireland has the eurozone’s highest deficit, at 8%, and has just restructured the debt of its banks.

Greece is in its fifth recession year in a row, with unemployment over 30% – and this after two austerity packages. Athens is running around in circles trying to fend off its creditors while at least trying to alleviate some of the draconian cuts. Greeks are adamant; the situation is worse than Argentina in 2001. And remember, Argentina defaulted.

Even Holland is under a serious banking crisis. And to top it off, David Cameron has thrown Britain’s future in Europe in turmoil.

So once again it was Silvio’s turn – who else? – to spice it all up. Only the Cavaliere could boom out that the famous spread – the difference between how much Italy and Germany pay to borrow on the bond markets – had been ”invented” in 2011 by Berlin (the German government) and Frankfurt (the European Central Bank), so they could get rid of himself, Silvio, and ”elect” the technocrat Monti.

German media, also predictably, has been taking no prisoners with relish. Italy and Italians are being routinely derided as ”childlike”, ”ungovernable”, ”a major risk to the eurozone”. (See, for example, Der Spiegel.)

The ultra-popular tabloid Bild even came up with a new pizza; not a Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) but a Quattro Stagnazioni (Four Stagnations).

The verdict is of an Italy ”in the hands of polit-clowns that may shatter the euro or force the country to exit”. Even the liberal-progressive Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin defines Italy as ”a danger to Europe”.

Peer Steinbruck, Germany’s former finance minister and the Social Democratic candidate against Merkel next September, summed it all up: “To a certain degree, I am horrified that two clowns won the election.”

So whatever government emerges in Italy, the message from Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt remains the same: if you don’t cut, cut and cut, you’re on your own.

Germany, for its part, has only a plan A. It spells out ”Forget the Club Med”. This means closer integration with Eastern Europe (and further on down the road, Turkey). A free trade deal with the US. And more business with Russia – energy is key – and the BRICS in general. Whatever the public spin, the fact is German think-tanks are already gaming a dual-track eurozone.

The people want quantitative easing

This aptly titled movie, Girlfriend in a Coma, directed by Annalisa Piras and co-written by former editor of The Economist Bill Emmett, did try to make sense of Italy’s vices and virtues.

And still, not only via Prada or Maserati, Parma ham or Brunello wines, Italy keeps delivering flashes of brilliance; the best app in the world – Atom, which allows the personalization of functions on a mobile phone even if one is not a computer programmer – was created by four 20-somethings in Rome, as Republic reported.

Philosopher Franco Berardi – who way back in the 1970s was part of the Italian autonomous movements – correctly evaluates that what Europe is living today is a direct consequence of the 1990s, when financial capital hijacked the European model and calcified it under neoliberalism.

Subsequently, a detailed case can be made that the financial Masters of the Universe used the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis to turbo-charge the political disintegration of the EU via a tsunami of salary cuts, job precariousness for the young, the flattening of pensions and hardcore privatization of everything. No wonder roughly 75% of Italians ended up saying ”No” to Monti and Merkel.

The bottom line is that Europeans – from Club Med countries to some northern economies – are fed up of having to pay the debt accumulated by the financial system.

Grillo’s movement per se – even capturing 8.7 million votes – is obviously not capable of governing Italy. Some of its (vague) ideas have enormous appeal among the younger generations especially an unilateral default on public debt (look at the examples of Argentina, Iceland and Russia), the nationalization of banks, and a certified, guaranteed ”citizenship” income for everyone of 1,000 euros a month. And then there would be referendum after referendum on free-trade agreements, membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and, of course, to stay or not stay within the eurozone.

What Grillo’s movement has already done is to show how ungovernable Europe is under the Monti-Merkel austerity mantra. Now the ball is in the European financial elite’s court. Most wouldn’t mind letting Italy become the new Greece.

So we go back full circle. The only way out would be a political reformulation of the EU. As it is, most of Europe is watching, impotently, the death of the welfare state, sacrificed in the altar of Recession. And that runs parallel to Europe slouching towards global irrelevance – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich notwithstanding.

The Fall of the House of Europe might turn into a horror story beyond anything imagined by Poe – displaying elements of (already visible) fascism, neo-Dickensian worker exploitation and a wide-ranging social, civil war. In this context, the slow reconstruction of a socially based Europe may become no more than a pipe dream.

What would Dante make of it? The great Roberto Benigni, a native of Tuscany, is currently reading and commenting on in depth 12 cantos – from the XI to the XXII – in Dante’s Inferno, a highlight of the Divine Comedy. Spellbound, I watched it on RAI – the square in front of the fabulous Santa Croce church in Florence packed to the rafters, the cosmic perfection of the Maestro’s words making sense of it all.

If only his spirit would enlighten Inferno dwellers from Monti to Merkel, from Silvio to European Central bankers – aligning Man once again with the stars and showing troubled Europe the way.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalization: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at [email protected].

It’s well known by now that NATO and the Gulf States initial plans to overturn the sovereign state of Syria has been running behind schedule since their operation was launched two years ago. They had hoped for the sort of slam dunk which they enjoyed in overturning the country of Libya in late 2011.

This same formula could not be applied again however, so Plan B, a ground war using proxies has meant a longer drawn out conflict. It hasn’t been working fast enough in Syria, and western backed terrorist groups still sustaining heavy losses in their fight to topple the Assad government on behalf of the NATO and its Gulf allies.

The main obstacle with Plan B is that the very idea of directly arming terrorists in Syria is not one which can be sold openly in either the US or Britain.

From the NATO Allied corner, something drastic needed to be done…

Whilst politicians in the West, namely those in Washington DC, London and parts of Europe, have been publicly denying that they were helping to organise running arms into Syria and issuing very public pleads for ‘humanitarian aid’ for those they identify as the Syrian Opposition, activity back stage has been furious. The debate in government and the media has been mere window dressing for the real operation being quietly carried out.

NATO Gun-running via Croatia

It can now be revealed that NATO allied nations were busy using proxy states to drive their war in Syria – putting together one of the biggest international black operation transfers of military supplies in recent history. So it’s official: large caches of hardware from the West have been transferred to the Syrian jihadist mercenary collective known as the ‘Free Syrian Army’ , ‘Syrian Rebels’, or ‘Syrian Opposition’ – depending on who you ask, a brash move which may be vehemently opposed by other UN Security Council members – namely Russia and China.

Multiple media sources reveal the details of this massive airlift comprised of 75 airplanes, and an estimated 3,000 tons of military weaponry on board has left Croatia and has already been delivered… to Syria.

It is also confirmed from these reports that Saudi Arabia has financed a large portion of this purchase secretly transported to al Qaeda and other FSA fighters – who are working with the support of the CIA, MI6 and others, along with other financial and material support of Qatar and Saudi, to further destabilise and overthrow the Assad government in Syria.

Croatia’s daily newspaper Jutarnji List reported:

“From the start of November last year, till February this year, 75 planes flew out from Zagreb Airport with over 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition bound for Syrian rebels…The newspaper, quoting diplomatic sources, says that besides Croatian weapons the planes were full with weapons from other European countries including the UK. The weapons were organised by the United States of America.

Sources say that the first few flights to leave Croatia bound for Syria with weapons were operated by Turkish Cargo, which is owned by Turkish Airlines. After those flights, Jordanian International Air Cargo took over the flights. The deal to provide arms to the rebels was made between American officials and the Croatian Ambassador to the US.”

In addition to this huge gun-running operation, Croatia also appears to be guilty of either having advanced knowledge, or possibly coordinating with Syrian terrorists as evidenced by their recently withdraw all of troops from the UN observer mission in Golan Heights, indicating that the recent kidnapping by Free Syrian Army Terrorists of at least 20 UNIFIL peacekeepers in the Golan Heights was known in advance by Croatia. The incident may have been designed to pull Syria’s southern neighbor, Israel, even closer to the conflict, a development which would almost surely prompt the UN to declare this as trigger to a regional crisis, followed by an authorised military intervention.

If it was known by Croatia, then one can only conclude that this was also known by US and British operatives as well. Both the US and Britain will naturally claim deniability as their legal out in this case, by deniability through the use of proxies makes no innocent parties when the prospect of a multi-regional war beckons as a result of the west’s financial, logistical, political, and now material involvement in the overthrow of a sovereign state and internationally recognised government.

US officials are on record as admitting to helping arrange the weapons airlift, as cited in this Feb 25, 2012 article in the New York Times:

“An official in Washington said the possibility of the transfers from the Balkans was broached last summer, when a senior Croatian official visited Washington and suggested to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.”

Terrorist receive recoilless guns from the former Yugoslavia.

Revelations are not limited to the Croatian news report, as we see the US and Europe’s mainstream media wall of silence has begun to crack, including here a recent report from London’s Daily Telegraph sent across Syria’s borders with Jordan and NATO-member Turkey. The article entitled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’“goes on to give further details of direct European involvement in illegal weapons running:

“The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday…

Decisions by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to provide non-lethal assistance and training, announced in the past week, were preceded by much greater though less direct Western involvement in the rebel cause, according to a Croat newspaper.

The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours.

as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.

British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers…

… The weapons, including rocket launchers, recoil-less guns and the M79 anti-tank weapon, have been seen in rebel hands in numerous videos, and were first spotted by an arms expert Eliot Higgins, who blogs under the name Brown Moses. He traced them moving from Dera’a in the south, near the Jordanian border, to Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the north.”

Hague: Denies Britain’s involvement in gun-running. (right)

It is also no big secret that Britain has deployed a significant contingent of troops and support personnel to Jordan at least as far back as Autumn 2012 as part of its ongoing ‘joint military exercises’ with the Jordan military, but this latest revelation puts into clearer perspective the overwhelming likelihood that high level British military operation have actually been involved in the transfer of arms from Jordan into the hands of the international terrorist confab of mostly foreign fighter running under the west’s media banner of “Syrian Rebels”.

Consequences for Croatia, and Britain

What Britain may be guilty of here, is cynically – and illegally, trying to side-stepping the EU embargo on arms into Syria by using the fledgling EU state of Croatia as their delivery mechanism, because Croatia does not officially join the EU until July 1, and has not implemented any binding EU legislation. This flagrant violation of both EU and international law should mean that Croatia’s entrance into the EU could be appealed by other members states willing to raise an objection, with what are now clear grounds to mount a legal challenge against Croatia.

Regardless of any EU outcomes however, Croatia at least –  is guilty of international war crimes.

International and EU Sanctions Against the US, Britain, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia

As expected, Britain’s Foreign Office denies all of the claims connecting it to the Croatian gun-running program, but if Britain is involved – even indirectly, through a proxy like Croatia, or if British military personnel are aiding and abetting these known terrorist fighters in Syria through the transfer of weaponry, then Britain can also be brought into the international legal framework to answer for what it has done behind the public’s back.

The international war crimes which are now in the public view could test the legal framework of the EU, the UN and the ICC in the Hague. The legal door is now open for charges against state actors including US, Britain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – for the crimes of illegally arming a force of foreign fighters and known terrorists in Syria – designed to destroy the country from within. Many UN resolutions, including the recent Resolution 1973 applied in Libya by the UN, have been implemented on much more spurious and shaky grounds than the overwhelming evidence available regarding Syria.

Moreover, Israel’s unwarranted airstrike against a Syrian Military Research facility last month was also ignored by the UN, but this is not surprising as Israel has long been allowed to operate outside of international law and norms.

If the international community does not act in this instance, then it opens the door to more brazen criminality sans borders, which could spawn similar illegal operations against Iran, opening the door to a Third World War.

France sends ‘aid’ for Syria to Jordan 

France played an integral part in the destruction of Libya in 2011, and they might also have an interest in their former colonial possessions in Syria, but it’s not clear as yet if France’s commitment to overthrowing the Assad government is on par with the US and Britain’s efforts. Back in August 2012, France had also been sending large shipments designated for Syria via Jordan, claiming that these shipment contained ‘aid and medical supplies’ – intended for Syrian refugees. Real Syrian News reported:

“An Antonov 124 cargo aircraft landed at the Marka military airport in Amman on Saturday. The cargo is said to include a field hospital and medical supplies for the refugees in the Zaatari camp near the Syrian border. An A310 airliner carrying 85 French military staff and medical equipment arrived in Jordan on Thursday.”

After the Croatian airlift, it’s now not a stretch to suspect that other countries could be involved in similar operations under the cover of supplying ‘humanitarian aid’.

Syria Crisis Planned by the US and NATO Allies Before the ‘Arab Spring’

Despite previous denials and avoiding the issue by states persons like Hillary Clinton and William Hague, it is certain that ‘al Qaeda’ terrorists are operating in Syria and receive various kinds of support from the West and their Gulf allies, and that these are many of the same terrorist who are responsible for violence and killing in Iraq. The New York Times confirmed this fact recently:

“Iraqi officials said the extremists operating in Syria are in many cases the very same militants striking across their country. “We are 100 percent sure from security coordination with Syrian authorities that the wanted names that we have are the same wanted names that the Syrian authorities have, especially within the last three months,” Izzat al-Shahbandar — a close aide to the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — said in an interview on Tuesday. “Al Qaeda that is operating in Iraq is the same as that which is operating in Syria,” he said.”

Bangkok based analyst, Tony Cartalucci, from Land Destroyer blog, adds another important piece of evidence in this mix, pointing out the fact that the US and its NATO operatives have been engineering the crisis in Syria well before the official ‘uprising’ began in 2011:

“Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“stated explicitly that:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Cartalucci provides further background to support the west’s own knowledge and involvement is the current crisis: 


Is there any doubt that the US has executed this plot in earnest, arming and funding sectarian extremists “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” on both Syria’s northern and southern border? Where else, if not from the West and its regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, could extremists be getting their weapons, cash, and logistical support from? 

And of course, Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey have been long-ago identified by the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) as hotbeds of sectarian extremist/Al Qaeda activity – hotbeds that the West is purposefully funneling thousands of tons of weaponry through, while disingenuously claiming it is attempting to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of extremists.

The CTC’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” identified Syria’s southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, as having produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq throughout the duration of the Iraq War.

Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from during the US invasion/occupation. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.” 

 

These areas are now admittedly the epicenters of fighting, and more importantly, despite being historical hotbeds of Al Qaeda activity, precisely where the West is flooding with cash, weapons, and military “advisers.”

Just like in Libya where the West literally handed an entire nation to sectarian extremists, we are watching a verbatim repeat in Syria – where we are told Al Qaeda terrorists are “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters” that deserve US cash, weapons, and support, when it couldn’t be any clearer they aren’t.

Not only has the US and UK lied to the world about their policy toward Syria and their current level of support for increasingly overt terrorists committing an array of atrocities – their latest act including the taking of over 20 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights - but have revealed once again the manufactured facade that is the “War on Terror…”

Terrorist Groups Currently Active in Syria

Known terrorist groups are operating in Syria and are receiving the full backing of NATO Allies and Gulf states Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They include – but are not limited to, Saudi Intelligence-backed Jabhat al-Nusra or ‘al Nursa Front’, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group,  Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Al Baraa ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade, the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, the PKK (in northeast Syria), Kata’ib Mohadzherin from the Russian Caucus region - to name only a few.

Earlier reports of rogue Russian and Chechen terrorists filtering into Syria appear to be preceded by Salafists killing Sufi leaders in the Russian Federation. The Pakistan Christian Post reports:

“Recently in Dagestan the Sufi spiritual leader Said Efendi Chirkeisky was killed by a suicide bomber along with a few followers. This happened in late August and the closeness to the recent attack against Sufi leaders in Tatarstan is a clear reminder that Salafism is a potent force within parts of the Russian Federation. Therefore, not surprisingly the Russian Federation is extremely alarmed by major Western powers once more working in collusion with the FSA, al-Qaeda and a whole array of Salafi terrorist organizations.”

It’s worth noting also that like Libya’s new militant governor of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, terrorist group Kata’ib Mohadzherin’s leader Airat Vakhitov was also imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002 after being captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Both were released and filtered back into fighting regions to organise al Qaeda-type Islamist groups – both active in countries which the US and NATO have been actively vying for regime change, in Libya and Syria respectively. You can draw your own conclusions here about what Guantanamo is in reality.

The same New York Times article(above) also mentions terrorists’ theocratic designs of establishing some caliphate in the region:

“One Qaeda operative, a 56-year-old known as Abu Thuha who lives in the Hawija district near Kirkuk in Iraq, spoke to an Iraqi reporter for The New York Times on Tuesday. “We have experience now fighting the Americans, and more experience now with the Syrian revolution,” he said. “Our big hope is to form a Syrian-Iraqi Islamic state for all Muslims…

It’s important to understand that such claims by any shadowy ‘al Qaeda’ figures must also be balance with the reality that these militants have been historically, and are still today, directed and funded at the highest levels of both US and Saudi intelligence, and others. When you see terror spokesman like Ayman al-Zawahri, the alleged leader of Al Qaeda, praise the Syrian fighters by referring to them as “the lions of the Levant,” in messages released exclusively via a known CIA media dissemination outlets like SITE, or INTEL CENTER, then readers should be suspicious of why it’s been released and what political effect it is designed to have.

Now that some of the scope of NATO Allies operation in Syria has been exposed to the public, perhaps political representatives  and media journalist and editors will be able to report more accurately on the Syrian crisis, and demand a withdrawl of NATO, Arab League and others country’s support for the growing and highly dangerous paramilitary and other al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups who are currently working to take power by destabilising the country of Syria.

It’s all happening out in the open now.

Foreign instructors are training Syrian rebels in modern warfare in Jordan, suggest media reports from Europe. Sources claim the trainees will be the security force if Assad goes, while the combat skills they are being taught distort the picture.

In the past three months some 200 men have already received training in two camps in the east and the south of Jordan, Der Spiegel reports. The military training focuses on the use of anti-tank weaponry, the news magazine reported, citing what it said were participants and organizers. It adds that there are plans to provide training for a total of 1,200 fighters from the Free Syrian Army – the opposition force battling the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Free Syrian Army fighters  (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)

The report said that some of the Americans wore army uniforms, but it did not specify whether they worked for private firms or represented the US military.

Last October the Pentagon confirmed that a small group of US special forces and military advisers had spent the summer in Jordan training the country’s military to act in case Syria used its chemical weapons. Reportedly, select groups of Syrian rebels were trained, too.

As Britain’s The Guardian reported on Friday, the US is not alone in their efforts. UK and French instructors are also in Jordan training the Syria rebels.

Though the American, British and French Defense Ministries have not commented so far on the information about the FSA being trained in Jordan, this move does not contradict either the US plans for non-lethal directaid to Syrian opposition or British understanding of the EU arms embargo enforced on Syria.

“Such technical assistance can include assistance, advice and training on how to maintain security in areas no longer controlled by the regime, on co-ordination between civilian and military councils, on how to protect civilians and minimize the risks to them, and how to maintain security during a transition,” the UK Foreign Minister William Hague told the British Parliament last Wednesday.

A Syrian living in Jordan flashes the victory sign during a protest against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in front of the Syrian Embassy in Amman February 8, 2013. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)

A Syrian living in Jordan flashes the victory sign during a protest against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in front of the Syrian Embassy in Amman February 8, 2013. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)

Der Spiegel’s source in Brussels shared that the EU embargo on arms supplies to Syria adopted in early March is “deliberately hazy.”

“When it comes to technical assistance, what it means in practice depends on who you ask. The Brits and the French, for example, are much more forward-leaning than others. The principle is that the assistance should be for the protection of civilians, but as we saw in Libya, that can be interpreted in different ways,” the source said.

In Libya the Western interference in the country’s affairs started with establishing a no-fly zone, ostensibly to protect the civilian population in a civil war, and ended with an allied military force helping the Libyan rebels storm the capital Tripoli to oust the country’s strongman Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The leader finally was brutally murdered by militia without legitimate criminal investigations and court decisions.

Today Libya exists as a territory with nominal central authority and uncontrollable violence regularly sparking between groups of armed rebels and local Bedouins.

Jordanian intelligence is also taking part in training the Syrian rebels, busy filtering off radical Islamists (Salafists) from the candidates for advanced foreign training. The foreign instructors particularly prefer to choose former officers who have defected from the Syrian regular troops.

“The Americans now trust us more than the Turks, because with the Turks everything is about gaining leverage for action against the Kurds,” a Jordanian insider in Amman explained to The Guardian.

Reportedly, the Americans are disappointed with the results of help being channeled to the Syrian opposition groups through Turkey, as Ankara has either failed or deliberately allowed the Islamist extremists to prevail the rebel activities in the northern Syrian front.

Other known sponsors of the rebels, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, are also channeling their help to the Syrian opposition via Jordan.

Syrian refugees wait to register their names before they are taken to refugee camps after they crossed the border to Jordan, near Mafraq February 18, 2013. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)

Syrian refugees wait to register their names before they are taken to refugee camps after they crossed the border to Jordan, near Mafraq February 18, 2013. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)

In late February Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US will provide the Syrian opposition with US$60 million in aid, including armored vehicles, non-lethal military equipment, and technical aid.

The Guardian reported that a small number of British special forces have already been stationed in Jordan beforehand so that once the West takes the decision to intervene in Syria directly they could act immediately. While they await the deployment order, they are busy training the rebels the modern warfare tactics.

The newspaper’s Jordanian source insists the training operation underway is of rather a moderate scale.

Yet Der Spiegel reports that the program is aimed at training up to 10,000 FSA fighters to form around a dozen combat-effective units. The Guardian earlier said that this force will be needed to restore order in Syria once President Bashar Assad is gone.

Though The Guardian insists the anti-Assad allies are likely to be training a police task force to maintain order in post-war Syria rather than to turn the war around, the training with anti-tank weaponry does not exactly fit into that picture.

At the same time an anonymous Jordanian official has expressed hope that this force might also give a hand to Jordan if the situation with the Syrian refugees deteriorates completely and hundreds of thousands of additional refugees flow into the country.

This can easily happen if the public services of the Syria’s southern city of Daraa collapse. In that case a possible 1 million refugees might seek shelter in Jordan.

Reportedly, Jordan has already accommodated over 320,000 refugees from Syria.

Since the beginning of conflict in Syria over two years ago now up to 70,000 people have been killed on both sides, reported Syrian activists. Over 1 million people have become refugees, fleeing the country to neighboring states.

Originally published  on May 24, 2011

On April 12, 2011 the Japanese government officially announced that the severity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster had reached level 7, the highest on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Before Fukushima, the only level 7 case was the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, whose 25th anniversary was marked on April 26. Two and a half months after the 3.11 catastrophe, the first to affect multiple reactors, TEPCO and the Japanese government continue to struggle to bring the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi under control. TEPCO estimates that the problems could be solved in six to nine months now appearing extraordinarily optimistic and plans have been announced to close nuclear power plants deemed of particularly high risk such as the Hamaoka facility.

Fukushima explosion

Following the upgrade to level 7, Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office released a statement comparing Fukushima and Chernobyl. (Source)

The Japanese government argues that apart from children who contracted thyroid cancer from drinking contaminated milk, there have been no health effects among ordinary citizens as a result of Chernobyl radiation. Is this really the case? Given the Japanese government’s precautions against thyroid cancer in children, is there reason to believe that the Fukushima accident will take no lives except those exposed to the highest dangers in the plant clean-up? (Source)

On April 15, Kyodo, Japan’s major news service, ran an English language piece by Russian scientist Alexey V. Yablokov (source).  Yablokov’s stern warnings about the threat of even low levels of radiation had been ignored by the major media but was reported in Japanese in the Nishi Nippon Shimbun. (Source)

The English only Kyodo piece, however, ties Yablokov’s extensive Chernobyl research with the unfolding Fukushima crisis. Under the headline “How to minimize consequences of the Fukushima catastrophe,” Yablokov observed that

The analysis of the health impact of radioactive land contamination by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, made by Professor Chris Busby (the European Committee of Radiation Risk) based on official Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology data, has shown that over the next 50 years it would be possible to have around 400,000 additional cancer patients within a 200-kilometer radius of the plant.

This number can be lower and can be even higher, depending on strategies to minimize the consequences. Underestimation is more dangerous for the people and for the country than overestimation.

Based on the Chernobyl experience, he made the following recommendations:

1. Enlarge the exclusion zone [from 20 kilometers] to at least about a 50-km radius of the plant;

2. Distribute detailed instructions on effective ways to protect the health of individuals while avoiding the additional contamination of food. Organize regular measurements of all people by individual dose counters (for overall radionuclides) at least once a week. Distribute radioprotectors and decontaminants (substances which provide the body protection against harmful effects of radiation) of radionuclides. . .

3. Develop recommendations for safe agriculture on the contaminated territories: reprocessing of milk, decontamination of meat, turning agriculture into production of technical cultures (e.g. biofuels etc.). Such ”radionuclide-resistant” agriculture will be costly (it may be up to 30-40 percent compared with conventional agriculture) and needs to be subsidized;

4. It is necessary to urgently improve existing medical centers — and possibly create new ones — to deal with the immediate and long-term consequences of the irradiated peoples (including medical-genetic consultations on the basis of chromosome analysis etc.);

5. The most effective way to help organize post-Fukushima life in the contaminated territories (from Chernobyl lessons) is to create a special powerful interagency state body (ministry or committee) to handle the problems of contaminated territories during the first most complicated years.

Yablokov is one of the primary architects of the 2006 Greenpeace report “The Chernobyl Catastrophe: Consequences on Human Health” and an extensive 2010 follow-up study Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment published by the New York Academy of Sciences, which makes the startling claim that 985,000 deaths can be attributed to the 1986 disaster.

This claim is startling because it differs so dramatically from a 600 page 2005 study by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the WHO, and the UN Development Programme, which claimed that fewer than 50 deaths can be attributed directly to Chernobyl and fewer than 4000 likely from Chernobyl-related cancers in the future. Indeed, the two works continue to frame much of the public controversy, with little progress toward resolution. Attempts to assess the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster remain the subject of fierce debate over widely different estimates in both the scientific and policy communities. In the months since the Fukushima disaster, scores of reports have uncritically passed on the results of the IAEA/WHO or the Yablokov study published by the New York Academy of Sciences without seriously engaging the conflicting conclusions or moving the debate forward. Here we present the major findings of major studies across the divide that may help to clarify the likely outcomes of the Fukushima disaster. (1, 2)

Yablokov and colleagues assessed thousands of studies of the localities and people affected by the Chernobyl disaster in Russian and other Eastern European languages. They argue that these studies have been ignored by the Anglophone scientific community.

Critics, such as the British science journalist George Monbiot, have criticized Yablokov and his colleagues for attributing any increase in cancer occurrence in regions affected by Chernobyl to the radiation released in the disaster. Emphasizing the multiplicity of factors that may affect cancer rates, Monbiot states, for example, that none of the hardest hit areas subjected to Chernobyl radiation,show as dramatic a cancer increase in the 1986-2000 period as does Japan. The impact of Chernobyl radiation in Japan was negligible, yet the cancer rate there has nearly doubled since the disaster. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, at a time when many have moved to reject the nuclear power option, Monbiot announced that he had abandoned his former criticism to embrace nuclear power as a responsible component of a green energy policy.

Japanese government statistics in fact show large increases in screening rates for cancer during this period and this is one possible explanation for the increase in the number of cases reported. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Monty Charles of the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, reviewed Yablokov’s work in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry (Volume 141, Issue 1, 2010, pp. 101-104) and found the statistical conclusions far from clear and even contradictory:

Numerous facts and figures are given with a range of references but with little explanation and little critical evaluation. Apparently related tables, figures and statements, which refer to particular publications often disagree with one another. The section on oncological diseases (cancer) was of most interest to me. A section abstract indicated that on the basis of doses from 131I and137Cs; a comparison of cancer mortality in the heavily and less contaminated territories; and pre- and post-Chernobyl cancer levels, the predicted radiation-related cancer deaths in Europe would be 212 000–245 000 and 19 000 in the remainder of the world. I could not however find any specific discussion within the section to support these numbers. The section ends with an endorsement of the work of Malko who has estimated 10 000–40 000 additional deaths from thyroid cancer, 40 000–120 000 deaths from the other malignant tumours and 5000–14 000 deaths from leukaemia—a total of 55 000–174 000 deaths from 1986 to 2056 in the whole of Europe, including Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. These numbers confusingly, do not agree with a table (6.21) from the same author. The final section on overall mortality contains a table (7.11), which includes an estimate of 212 000 additional deaths in highly contaminated regions of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. This figure is for the period of 1990–2004, and is based on an assumption that 3.8–4.0% of all deaths in the contaminated territories being due to the Chernobyl accident. One is left unsure about the meaning of many of these numbers and which is preferred.

If his work has been subject to trenchant critiques, Yablokov has offered a few of his own concerning the WHO/IAEA study discussed above. Yablokov’s work forms a major part of a document, “Health Effects of Chernobyl: 25 Years after the Reactor Catastrophe”, released by the German Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War on the occasion of an international conference on Chernobyl held in Berlin between April 8 – 10, 2011. (Source)

The report contains a devastating critique of the low WHO and IAEA Chernobyl death toll estimates: 

Note on the unreliability of official data published by WHO and IAEA

At the “Chernobyl Forum of the United Nations” organised in September 2005 by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organisation, the presentation of the results of work on the effects of Chernobyl showed serious inconsistencies. For example: the press release of the WHO and IAEA stated that in the future, at most, 4000 surplus fatalities due to cancer and leukaemia amongst the most severely affected groups of people might be expected. In the WHO report on which this was based however, the actual number of deaths is given as 8,930. These deaths were not mentioned in any newspaper articles. When one examines the source quoted in the WHO report, one arrives at a number betwen 10,000 and 25,000 additional fatalities due to cancer and leukaemia.

Given this it can be rationally concluded that the official statements of the IAEA and the WHO have manipulated their own data. Their representation of the effects of Chernobyl has little to do with reality.

The report continues:

S. Pflugbeil pointed out already in 2005 that there were discrepancies between press releases, the WHO report and the source quoted in it (Cardis et al.). Up until now neither the Chernobyl Forum, IAEA nor the WHO have deemed it necessary to let the public know that, on the basis of their own analysis, a two to five-fold higher number of deaths due to cancer and leukaemia are to be expected as the figures they have published.

Even in 2011 – some 5 years on – no official UN organisation has as yet corrected these figures. The latest UNSCEAR publication on the health effects of Chernobyl does not take into account any of the numerous results of research into the effects of Chernobyl from the three countries affected. Only one figure – that of 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer among children and juveniles, and leukaemia and cataracts in liquidators – was included in their recent information to the media. Thus, in 2011 the UNSCEAR committee declared: On the basis of studies carried out during the last 20 years, as well as of previous UNSCEAR reports, UNSCEAR has come to the conclusion that the large majority of the population has no reason to fear that serious health risks will arise from the Chernobyl accident. The only exception applies to those exposed to radioiodine during childhood or youth and to liquidators who were exposed to a high dose of radiation and therefore had to reckon with a higher radiation induced risk.

Even if Yablokov’s estimates for Chernobyl deaths are high, the WHO and IAEA numbers are almost certainly too low.

One area of continuing debate is the fate of the “liquidators” at Chernobyl. A major difference between Fukushima and Chernobyl is government handling of the aftermath. While the Japanese government can be criticized for the speed of evacuation and the limited evacuation radius, the seriousness of the issues was immediately recognized and efforts made to send people away from the stricken plant. In the case of Chernobyl, even as the state suppressed information about the catastrophe, between 600,000 and 1,000,000 people termed “liquidators” were sent to the most heavily irradiated zone to work to contain the effects of the meltdown, many with limited protection and unaware of the risks.

Some research, such as the article “Thyroid Cancer among ‘Liquidators’ of the Chernobyl Accident” published in the British Journal of Radiology (70, 1997, pp. 937-941), suggests relatively limited health effects (fewer than 50 cases of thyroid cancer in a group of over 150,000 liquidators followed in the study). (Source)

The article “Chernobyl Liquidators – The People and the Doses”, published by the International Radiation Protection Association, likewise concludes that across the majority of the liquidator group, “The health consequences from these radiation doses are too small to be identifiable in any epidemiological study, which does not target specific sub-groups with potentially higher exposure.” (Source)

Support groups for liquidators, however, claim that 25,000 have died and over 70,000 are disabled. (Source)

The issue cannot be limited to fatalities. The German Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War “Health Effects of Chernobyl” report presents extensive evidence of widespread crippling disability among liquidators. As in the case of the Chernobyl death toll, the plight of liquidators is a hotly contested topic with radically different figures emerging from different quarters.

Some commentators have presented data that suggests a way out of the deadlock over the health and death consequences of Chernobyl. Peter Karamoskos, a Nuclear Radiologist and public representative on the Radiation Health Committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency argues in “Do we know the Chernobyl death toll?” that despite uncertainties about the numbers, “The weight of scientific opinion holds that there is no threshold below which ionising radiation poses no risk and that the risk is proportional to the dose: the “linear no-threshold” (LNT) model.”

Drawing on the 2006 report of the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation (BEIR) of the US National Academy of Sciences. Karamoskos points out: “The … view that low-level radiation is harmless, is restricted to a small number of scientists whose voice is greatly amplified by the nuclear industry (in much the same way as corporate greenhouse polluters amplify the voices of climate science sceptics).”

He continues:

There is general agreement that about 50 people died in the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl accident. Beyond that, studies generally don’t indicate a significant increase in cancer incidence in populations exposed to Chernobyl fallout. Nor would anyone expect them to because of the data gaps and methodological problems mentioned above, and because the main part of the problem concerns the exposure of millions of people to very low doses of radiation from Chernobyl fallout.
For a few marginal scientists and nuclear industry spruikers, that’s the end of the matter – the statistical evidence is lacking and thus the death toll from Chernobyl was just 50. Full stop. But for those of us who prefer mainstream science, we can still arrive at a scientifically defensible estimate of the Chernobyl death toll by using estimates of the total radiation exposure, and multiplying by a standard risk estimate.
The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates a total collective dose of 600,000 Sieverts over 50 years from Chernobyl fallout. A standard risk estimate from the International Commission on Radiological Protection is 0.05 fatal cancers per Sievert. Multiply those figures and we get an estimated 30,000 fatal cancers.
A number of studies apply that basic method – based on collective radiation doses and risk estimates – and come up with estimates of the death toll varying from 9000 (in the most contaminated parts of the former Soviet Union) to 93,000 deaths (across Europe).
Those are the credible estimates of the likely eventual death toll from Chernobyl. Claims that the death toll was just 50 should be rejected as dishonest spin from the nuclear industry and some of its most strident and scientifically-illiterate supporters.

Karamaskos then turns to Fukushima, observing that

Nuclear industry spruikers will insist that no-one is at risk from low-level radiation exposure from Fukushima. The rest of us will need to wait some months or years before we have a plausible estimate of total human radiation exposure upon which to base an estimate of the death toll. To date, radiation releases from Fukushima are estimated by the Japanese government to be 10 per cent of the total Chernobyl release.
Needless to say, the view that low-level radiation is harmless is completely at odds with the current situation in Japan – the 20 km evacuation zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant, restrictions on food and water consumption in Japan and restrictions on the importation of food from Japan. (Source)

A joint survey conducted by the Japanese and U.S. governments has produced a detailed map of ground surface radioactive contamination within an 80-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Yablokov’s Chernobyl research and the dire prediction of as many as 400,000 radiation-related cancers in the Fukushima region if wider evacuation is not considered, deserves consideration, scrutiny, and debate as the Japanese government deals with radiation releases from Fukushima Daiichi. The same is true of alternative methodologies, particularly as the “linear no-threshold model” described by Peter Karamoskos. Despite recent efforts to evacuate people from high radiation areas outside of the 20 km evacuation zone, however, Japanese newspapers reported on April 20 that at the same time, the Japanese government had increased the permissible hourly radiation dose at schools in Fukushima Prefecture to 3.8 microsieverts. The Mainichi describes this as  “a level that would see students absorb the internationally recognized maximum of 20 millisieverts per year.” See “Save the Children: Radiation Exposure of Fukushima Students,” link.

What are the risks of such doses? Thomas L. Slovis of the Society for Pediatric Radiology  writes in Pediatr Radiol (2002:32:225-227)

… the risk of cancer from radiation is 5% per sievert… That’s an average number; but an average is almost meaningless.  If you are a mature, late middle-aged individual, it is maybe 1% per sievert. But if you are a child, it is maybe 15% per sievert, with a clear gender difference too at these early ages. So children are very, very sensitive compared to adults.” For an adult the acceptable risk for any activity for emergency workers is 50 mSv. For a child the equivalent risk is (50 mSv /250 mSv)*66 mSv=13 mSv. The standard suggested by Japan for children is twice this value. The change in standard to 20 mSv corresponds to a change to 0.3% risk in cancer later on in life.

Uncertainty about the long-term health effects of even low levels of radiation was further highlighted by David J. Brenner in the April 5 issue of Nature. (Source)

In recent weeks, the issue of radiation and the 300,000 children of Fukushima has moved to the center of debate in assessing Japanese government handling of the Fukushima meltdown, even as the seriousness of radiation issues has grown with the belated disclosure by TEPCO of the multiple disasters experienced at the outset, and still far from under control, in Fukushima Daiichi.

On April 28, Kosako Toshiso, a radiation specialist at Tokyo University, resigned his position as Special Advisor to the Cabinet. Kosako had earlier gained notoriety for his role in helping to deny the extension of benefits to some radiation victims of the atomic bombs in a 2003 court case. After Fukushima, however, Kosako made an impassioned and courageous stand against what he saw as a government taking the potential health effects of long-term radiation exposure too lightly. In a press conference, Kosako castigated the Kan cabinet for its decision to increase permissible radiation exposure for Fukushima children:

At times of emergency, we cannot do without exceptions to standard rules and we are indeed capable of setting them up, but in any case, international common sense ought to be respected. It is wrong to forcibly push through conclusions that happen to be convenient only for the administrative authorities but which are utterly unacceptable by international standards. Such conclusions are bound to draw criticism from the international community.

This time, upon discussing the acceptable level of radiation exposure for playgrounds in primary schools in Fukushima, they have calculated, guided and determined a level of “3.8μSv per hour” on the basis of “20mSv per year”. It is completely wrong to use such a standard for schools that are going to run a normal school curriculum, in which case a standard similar to usual radiation protection measurement (1mSv per year, or even in exceptional cases, 5mSv) ought to be applied, and not the one used in cases of exceptional or urgent circumstances (for two to three days, or at the most, one to two weeks). It is not impossible to use a standard, perhaps for a few months, of 10mSv per year at the maximum, if the public is rightly notified of the necessity of taking caution, and also if special measures are to be taken. But normally it is better to avoid such a thing. We have to note that it is very rare even among occupationally exposed persons (84,000 in total) to be exposed to radiation of 20mSv per year. I cannot possibly accept such a level to be applied to babies, infants and primary school students, not only from my scholarly viewpoint but also from my humanistic beliefs.

You rarely come across a level of 10mSv per year on the covering soil if you measure the leftover soil at a disposal site in any uranium mine (it would be about a few mSv per year at the most), so one needs to have utmost caution when using such a level. Therefore, I strongly protest the decision to use the standard of 20mSv per year for school playgrounds, and ask for revision.

(Translation by Tanaka Izumi) Complete translation available here.


On April 29, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War appealed to the Japanese government to recognize the risk that students of Fukushima would be exposed to, citing widely accepted scientific principles for radiation effects:

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report estimates that each 1 mSv of radiation is associated with an increased risk of solid cancer (cancers other than leukemia) of about 1 in 10,000; an increased risk of leukemia of about 1 in 100,000; and a 1 in 17,500 increased risk of dying from cancer. But a critical factor is that not everyone faces the same level of risk. For infants (under 1 year of age) the radiation-related cancer risk is 3 to 4 times higher than for adults; and female infants are twice as susceptible as male infants.

Text available online.

On May 12, the Japan Medical Association, in the wake of the Kosako resignation, criticized government indifference to the exposure of Fukushima children to radiation. (Source)

The Mainichi also reports protests from various corners.

Indeed, coverage has spread to corners of the mass media hardly known for political critique. Journalist Hirokawa Ryuichi, known for his coverage of the plight of Palestinian children, Unit 731, and Chernobyl, takes on the 20mSv issue in the May 26 issue of Josei Seven (Women’s Seven), a weekly known mostly for paparazzi-style star stalking, but now including more political criticism as mothers nationwide consider the implications of the government’s 20mSv for children decision. (Source)

Hirokawa argues that while the Soviet government may have been irresponsible in its initial approach to the Chernobyl radiation release, it undertook a massive effort to evacuate children from Kiev, 120 kilometers away from the crisis zone, between May and September 1986. Fukushima City is just over 50 kilometers away from Fukushima Daiichi. At the currently approved 20mSv, Hirokawa points out, Japanese children could be exposed to four times the radiation of children in Ukraine in 1986. He writes, “… an hourly rate of 3.8 microsieverts is a number not all that different from readings at the dead ruins of Pripyat. I don’t want to imagine Japanese children running and playing in this ruined shell of a city.” Pripyat, built originally to house Chernobyl workers, is the abandoned city at the heart of Ukraine’s “Zone of Alienation”.

While comparisons between Chernobyl and Fukushima abound, there are many who point to the contrasts. In the latest issue of the Journal of Radiological Protection, radiation, Professor Richard Wakeford of the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute points out flaws in the International Nuclear Event Scale, “Since Level 7 is the highest rating on INES there can be no distinction between the Fukushima and Chernobyl accidents, leading many to proclaim the Fukushima accident as ‘another Chernobyl’, which it is not….” He asserts that as of early April, Fukushima had released but one tenth of the amount of radiation expelled in the Chernobyl disaster and praises Japan’s official response,

“Given the difficult background circumstances pertaining in Fukushima Prefecture as problems mounted at the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS, the organisational abilities of the Japanese authorities in dealing with the evacuation, monitoring and protection of the public has to be admired. In particular, the heroic efforts of the emergency workers, battling under conditions that were often atrocious, should not pass without respect and praise. I for one bow to their courage.” (Source)

We have, likewise, noted important differences in the handling of the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Yet it is important to note that Wakeford’s praise ignores the most important revelations of TEPCO’s and the Japanese governments cover-ups and recklessness, as in its decisions to expose Fukushima children to 20 mSv of radiation on a long-term basis.

As the nature of the Fukushima crisis relative to Chernobyl continues to be contested, the important issue of radiation exposure of Fukushima school children remains at the center of public debate. To date, the Japanese government has failed to respond effectively to critics of policies that pose long-term risks to the nation’s children.

Matthew Penney is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University in Montreal and a Japan Focus associate. He is currently conducting research on popular representations of war in Japan. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Mark Selden is a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Journal and Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University. His recent books include Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance; China, East Asia and the Global Economy: Regional and historical perspectives, The Resurgence of East Asia: 500, 150 and 50 Year Perspectives, and War and State Terrorism: The United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the Long Twentieth Century. His homepage is www.markselden.info.

This Timeline Reviews Changes in U.S. Policy on the Issue of Assassination

1949-1954: As part of U.S. anti-communist policies in Guatemala, lists of human targets for political assassination were prepared as early as 1949.  Offers of assistance and preparations for actual assassinations in Guatemala, 1952-54, involved agents of several foreign governments (i.e., Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua), Guatemalan anti-communists inside and outside Guatemala, and U.S. intelligence personnel.  The potential killing of elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman repeatedly was discussed, and in one 1953 meeting the CIA suggested that it be done in a manner so that it could be “laid to the commies.”

Under two covert operations, PBFORTUNE under Pres. Truman and PBSUCCESS under Pres. Eisenhower, according to a CIA document declassified in 1997: “CIA officers responsible for planning and implementing covert action against the Arbenz Government engaged in extensive discussions over a two and a half year period about the possibility of assassinating government officials…

Proposals for assassination pervaded both PBFORTUNE and PBSUCCESS, rather than being confined to an early stage of these programs.  Even before the official approval of PBFORTUNE, CIA officers compiled elimination lists and discussed the concept of assassination with Guatemalan opposition leaders.  Until the day Arbenz resigned in June 1954 the option of assassination was still being considered… Beyond planning, some actual preparations were made.  Some assassins were selected, training began, and tentative “hit lists” were drawn up…. Cold War realities and perceptions conditioned American attitudes toward what political weapons were legitimate to use in the struggle against communism.”  See: Gerald K. Haines, “CIA and Guatemala Assassination Proposals, 1952-1954,” (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency CIA History Staff Analysis, June 1995): 8-9; SECRET, declassified 1997.

Nov. 20, 1975: Senate Select Committee to study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Agencies (Church Committee) reported numerous CIA assassination attempts: Fidel Castro (Cuba) , Patrice Lumumba (Congo), Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic), and 2 others occurred during the  Presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon.  Combined with Chilean revelations involving deaths of political and military leaders there (i.e., President Salvador Allende; Armed Forces Chief of Staff Rene Schneider) consensus in Congress to bar future such actions emerged. A significant parallel now appears to have existed between the planned attempt to transfer blame for assassination onto U.S. adversaries in some plots contemplated against Arbenz in the 1950s and the intended political impact of the actual plot in Chile against Gen. Schneider in 1970, though CIA sources insist the actual killing of Gen. Schneider was carried out not by the group with whom CIA was working toward this end, but by another group with similar intentions.

February 18, 1976: Pres. Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905, a secret finding barring U.S. personnel from assassination plots.  It stated:  “5(g) Prohibition on Assassination. No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”  

January 26, 1978, Pres. Jimmy Carter renewed the ban with an executive order of his own 12306, which located its ban on assassination at sections 2-305 (barring direct participation) and 2-309 (barring indirect participation).  It read: “2-305. Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination. . . . 2-307. Restrictions on Indirect Participation in Prohibited Activities. No agency of the Intelligence Community shall request or otherwise encourage, directly or indirectly, any person, organization, or government agency to undertake activities forbidden by this order or by applicable law.”  (For full context, go here, then to page 2 of the document).

A “Special Activities” branch in CIA, however, continued to exist throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

December 4, 1981: Executive Order 12333, signed by Pres. Ronald Reagan continued the ban.  At section 2.11 it stated: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

January 23, 1995: Pres. Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12947 that approved creation of list of specific terrorists.

1998: Clinton accepted legal advice that Article 2, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution always had permitted lethal violence against individuals when done in the self-defense of the nation. A series of secret Memorandum of Notification invoking this principle were issued providing for the use of lethal force toward Osama bin Laden and several others in his organization.  Yet, in all actual missions authorized in this regard, the capture of bin Laden, not his killing, also was required to remain a central element.  Thus, CIA officials have stated (Coll 2004: 17): “the objective was to render this guy to law enforcement,” and not to kill him.  Nonetheless, as National Security Advisor Sandy Berger stated in a 2002 Congressional hearing (Coll), in the November 1998 Tomahawk missiles attack on a bin Laden camp in Afghanistan “the cruise missiles were not trying to capture him.  They were not law enforcement techniques.”

September 14, 2001: By enacting Senate Joint Resolution 23, Congress granted President George W. Bush the power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against “persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

Fall 2001: Washington Post reported, and the New York Times reported confirmation from the White House, that Pres. Bush signed a classified Presidential finding permitting planned targeting of Osama Bin Laden, and others.  The precise date of the signing of the Finding has been reported as Oct. 20, Oct. 28, and Sept. 17.  If such a Finding was separately authorized, it would be consistent with policies defined contemporaneously.  The 9/11 Commission (477), reported that on Oct. 25, 2001, National Security Presidential Directive No. 9 was signed by President Bush.  Its title was “Defeating the Terrorist Threat to the United States.”  It broadened the war beyond Al Qaeda and the states that had harbored or assisted its planning and preparations for the 9.11.01 attack.  This Presidential document also remains classified.  But a summary of its content is online at the Federation of American Scientists‘ website.  This summary and other news accounts clearly infer that U.S. personnel henceforth were authorized in the use of deadly force against leadership targets.  Thus, it is a fair conclusion that in the Fall of 2001, the U.S. set aside limitations on assassination and authorized operations that could reasonably be expected to lead to the killing of bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.

War on Terrorism.  Such targeted operations have been undertaken on numerous occasions, some quite visible, others less so.  One in plain view was on January 13, 2006, when a U.S. air raid on Bajur, Pakistan, targeted Ayman al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s second in command.  Zawahiri himself apparently was not present when the village was attacked, but according to Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf (Washington Post 2006): “Five foreigners were killed in the U.S. attack in Bajur. One of them was a close relative of Ayman Zawahiri and the other man was wanted by the U.S. and had a $5 million reward on his head.”

Other matters beyond targeting leaders (or assassination) also have been reported to have been addressed in the 2001 Presidential Directive and related Findings.  Dana Priest, writing in the Washington Post in 2005, was insistent that “lethal measures against terrorists” were among the things authorized in the classified Finding issued on Sept. 17, 2001.

  • The finding was reported by Priest to have cited the Hughes-Ryan amendment of 1974 and the Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980.
  • The 1991 Intelligence Oversight Act required the signing of a written Presidential authorization (called a “finding”) before use of any funds budgeted to the CIA in covert operations.
  • According to Priest, among the other things authorized in the Fall 2001 Presidential Finding included:
  • The establishment in foreign countries of Counterterrorist Intelligence Centers, or CTICs under the supervision of the Counterterrorist Center at CIA Headquarters.  CTICs coordinate activities of U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies.
  • The approval of expenditure of funds to persuade foreign intelligence agencies to cooperate in a new way with the CIA and other U.S. agencies.The redeployment of U.S. intelligence personnel formerly assigned to counter-narcotics work, to counter-proliferation, and to regional divisions in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to the various new tasks required in the Global War on Terrorism.Under this authority, numerous operations were conducted during the Bush Administration, operations that in large part remain classified.  One that soon became public, a November 3, 2002 attack in Yemen that targeted Abu Ali al-Harithi, a senior Al Qaeda official there, also killed a U.S. citizen from Lackawanna, New York, Kamal Derwish (aka Ahmed Hijazi), who was traveling with al-Harithi at the time his vehicle came under attack.  Sources in the Obama Administration’s Justice Department later clarified that Derwish had not been the target of that attack, but died nonetheless as a collatoral victim of it (Finn).  Al-Harithi had been targeted as a result of investigations into the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden (Yemen) harbor, an al Qaeda attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors on the USS Cole.  This attack was confirmed by an interview with (then) U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Tom Ridge that was broadcast as part of the PBS documentary Chasing the Sleeper Cell, an October 3, 2003, broadcast concerning the Lackawanna Six.  Ridge’s interview is linked here, though the particular individuals’ names were redacted.In 2009-2010, the Obama Administration embraced the use of drone air strikes against terrorists, especially in Pakistan.  (These attacks are regularly tallied by the Long War Journal).  Obama’s reliance on drones led to some criticisms of the wide scope of the targeting for killing.  Administration legal sources defended the tactics on the basis of the inherent right to self defense which the U.S. has as a result of the 9/11 attacks.  (For a thorough discussion of the Administration’s policies, and its critics’ views, see Adam Entous’ May 2010 story for Reuters, “How the White House learned to Love the Drone.”)Bin Laden case: Obama did not rely solely on drones.  On May 1-2, 2011, U.S. special operations forces’ SEAL Team 6 entered Pakistan using stealth helicopters and, at Abbotabad, Pakistan, entered his residence and killed Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda, in an acknowledged political assassination authorized by Pres. Barack Obama.  This action was consistent with (Bush era) National Security Presidential Directive No. 9, and other legal authority arising from Congressional action (i.e., Senate Joint Resolution 23, an act of Congress). It also was authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1368 (Sept. 12, 2001) through its link to the U.N. Charter (Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations) and to customary international law.  Nonetheless, U.S. relations with Pakistan were sharply strained by this attack, about which the Pakistan Government and security bureaucracies were kept uninformed before and during the raid.

    Al Awlaqi case:  In November 2010, A.C.L.U. lawyers representing the father of radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi sued the U.S. Government in U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., arguing that Judge John D. Bates issue an injunction barring the government from carrying out orders to “capture or kill” al-Awlaqi as part of the war on terrorism.  A.C.L.U. attorney Jameel Jaffer argued in court that “if the 4th and 5th Amendments mean anything at all, it is that there are limits on the government’s use of lethal force against one of its own citizens, and that courts have to play a role in determining those limits.” Al-Awlaqi was then believed to be in Yemen, and in July 2010, was formally designated as a global terrorist for his operational role in the Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt over Detroit.  An organizer of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Awlaqi claimed responsibility for a series of cargo bombs placed on international airliners during November 2010, and on November 8, 2010 posted a video on jihadist websites telling Muslims they were free to kill American “devils” at will and without further religious blessing, or fatwa. Government attorneys argued that this question is inherently political in nature, and thus is not a proper matter for courts to decide (Hsu: A5).   The court declined to rule on the matter, citing the procedural ground that al-Awlaqi’s father did not have standing to file the suit.

    On Sept. 30, 2011, a CIA drone aircraft operating over Yemen fired two missiles that killed several members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including their chief ideologist Anwar al-Awlaqi, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico.  This was the first time U.S. operations in the conflict that began on Sept. 11, 2001 had openly targeted a U.S. citizen and killed him.  Samir Khan, another American citizen, also died; while he was editor of AQAP’s internet magazine Inspire and a member of Al Qaeda, his death was collatoral; he himself was not targeted, but died nonetheless.  Al-Awlaqi had been targeted after calling for Muslims to kill any American they could in a Fall 2010 internet broadcast.  Department of Justice officials and “senior lawyers across the Administration” had met and formalized in writing the legal authority for the President to approve the operation.

    Legal standards in use for targeting Americans, and non-Al Qaeda groups:  In an apparent defense of the killing of al-Awlaki, on February 22, 2012, Jeh Johnson, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Defense, in a speech to Yale Law School, stated that “Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives.”  In this speech, Johnson also outlined the operative legal basis used by the Obama Administration for targeting non-Al Qaeda groups for lethal force.  He stated that the U.S. Government applies a two part test: is the group “associated” with Al Qaeda, and has the group specifically started fighting the U.S. and its allies. “Thus, an ‘associated force’ is not any terrorist group in the world that merely embraces the Al Qaeda ideology,” he said. “More is required before we draw the legal conclusion that the group fits within the statutory authorization for the use of military force passed by the Congress in 2001.”  These positions received further iteration in a March 5, 2012 speech by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at the Northwestern University Law School.  There Holder spoke expansively of Presidential authority to “protect the nation from any imminent threat of violent attack” separate from authority granted by Congress (i.e., in Sept. 2001).  Carefully emphasizing that “Our legal authority is not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan,” Holder emphasized that “several” attacks directed at the United States in recent years have been organized in states other than Afghanistan.   Holder stated that not only are U.S. counter-attacks lawful, they often are mis-labelled: “Some have called such operations ‘assassinations.’   They are not, and the use of that loaded term is misplaced.   Assassinations are unlawful killings.   Here, for the reasons I have given, the U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self defense against a leader of al Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful — and therefore would not violate the Executive Order banning assassination or criminal statutes” (see Holder 2012).

    In late May 2012, the New York Times presented an extensive background investigation into the authorization process involved in such targeted killings.  It placed President Obama himself at the center of decision making about specific operations of this kind, including the selection of the specific individuals to be targeted, and the monitoring of the success of these operations was said to be closely followed by the President, so closely that former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair described Obama’s attention to it in the following way: “it reminded me of body counts in Vietnam [war].”

    Early in January 2013, Colleen McMahon, a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan (New York city) ruled on an ACLU suit challenging the government’s secrecy about the specific legal reasoning used to justify this program (WP 2013a).  She turned back the attempt to use the Freedom of Information Act to compel the government to reveal its specific arguments about the legal authority it claims, authority that permits actions resulting in the killing of U.S. citizens as in the Al-Aulaqi case. She wrote: “this Court is constrained by law,” and the government “cannot be compelled . . . to explain in detail the reasons why its actions do not violate the constitution and laws of the United States.”  Later in January 2013, in an editorial in the New York Times, Vicki Divoll, former legal counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, critiqued this decision and the intransigent position of secrecy the Obama Administration had taken on this matter. She argued that Americans have an important interest in understanding the limits, if any, to presidential powers (in this instance, the power to authorize the killing of an American citizen), and that it is the responsibility of the U.S. Senate to insure that the reasoning behind the position of the Obama Administration enjoys broad support from our elected officials, not just the president and his appointees.

Bibliography on U.S. targeted killings / assassination policy:

Elizabeth Bazan, “Assassination Ban and E.O. 12333: A brief summary,” CRS Report for Congress (January 2, 2002).

Jo Becker and Michael Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a test of Obama’s principles and will,” New York Times (May 29, 2012).

Stephen Coll, “Legal Disputes Over Hunt Paralyzed Clinton’s Aids,” Washington Post (Feb. 22, 2004): 17.

Vicki Divoll, “Who says you can kill Americans, Mr. President ?” New York Times (Jan. 17, 2013).

Adam Entous, “Special Report: How the White House Learned to Love the Drone,” Reuters (May 18, 2010): http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64H5SL20100518 ; permanent link: HowTheWhiteHouseLearnedtolovethedrone2010.doc

Federation of American Scientists, “NSPD-9: Combating Terrorism,” (October 25, 2001).

Peter Finn and Sara Horowitz, “Holder: U.S. can lawfully target American citizens,” Washington Post (March 5, 2012): http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/holder-us-can-lawfully-target-american-citizens/2012/03/05/gIQANknFtR_story.html

Peter Finn, “Secret U.S. Memo Sanctioned Killing of Al-Aulaqi,” Washington Post (Sept. 30, 2011): http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/aulaqi-killing-reignites-debate-on-limits-of-executive-power/2011/09/30/gIQAx1bUAL_story.html

Holder 2012: “Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Monday March 5, 2012″ U.S. Department of Justice website: http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/ag/speeches/2012/ag-speech-1203051.html

Spencer S. Hsu, “Suit against placing Aulaqi on kill list challenged by U.S.,” Washington Post (Nov. 9, 2010): A5.

Scott McClellan, “Press Briefing: Military Options in al Qaeda Plan,” (Washington D.C.: The White House, April 1, 2004).

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9.11 Report (NY: St. Martins, 2004).  In the online version of the Commission’s report, the language cited above appeared at pp. 333-334.

Dana Priest, “Foreign Network at Front of CIA’s Terror Fight,” Washington Post (Nov. 18, 2005): 1, 12.  (This story appeared on this same date in the Virginia edition under the headline “CIA Builds Foreign Front Against Terrorism” but was identical to the article linked here).

Bill Roggio and Alexander Mayer, “Charting the data for U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012,” Long War Journal (online).

Barry Rubin, “When it’s necessary and desirable to assassinate terrorists,” Rubin Report (Feb. 25, 2010).

Donald Rumsfeld, “Testimony to 9/11 Commission, March 24, 2004 ,” Federation of American Scientists’ Website

Charlie Savage, “Pentagon Says U.S. Citizens With Terrorism Ties Can Be Targeted in Strikes,” New York Times online (February 22, 2012).

Washington Post 2006: Associated Press, “Musharraf Discusses Figures Hit by U.S. Missiles,” Washington Post (February 12, 2006): A28.

WP 2013a: Karen deYoung, “Judge backs Obama Administration on secrecy of targeted killings of terrorism suspects,” Washington Post (January 2, 2013).

Of related interest:

Laura Blumenfeld “In Israel, a Divisive Struggle Over Targeted Killing,” Washington Post, (August 27, 2006): 1, 12-13.

Scott Wilson, “Israel’s Court Upholds Military’s Right to Assassinate,” Washington Post, (December 14, 2006).

Alex S. Wilner, “Targeted Killings in Afghanistan: Measuring Coercion and Deterrence in Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 33, No. 4, (April 2010).

David Ignatius, “A hint of deterrence in U.S. drone-war strategy,” Washington Post, (October 5, 2011).

Professor Bowen’s main page

Painless and Easy Ways to Cut $83 Billion

Stopping the failed war on drugs would more than pay for the $83 billion dollars in “sequestration” budget cuts.

Congressman Grayson notes that we could replace the sequestration cuts by ending the Afghanistan war early.

We could pay for the budget cuts – and save a lot more money – by cutting down on waste and fraud.

And the Fed is buying $85 billion dollars – the amount of annual sequestration cuts – each month to carry out “quantitative easing” … a policy which benefits the super-elite but hurts the American people and the economy as a whole.

Stop the Fed’s quantitative easing program, and we’ll be in much better shape.

Note: Admittedly, the Fed does get something for its money, so $85 billion is a gross -not net – figure.  But it’s getting is worth a lot less than $85 billion a month.

And there are much cheaper and much more effective ways to help the economy.  For example:

“You don’t change the person driving a broken car and expect it to work, you must fix or change the car.”

That sums up the situation in which many people in Europe (and the world for that matter) find themselves today.

We have found out recently through the severe pain of austerity that the current way of doing things is fatally flawed. We are supposed to live in democracies where the elected politicians are supposed to govern according to the wishes of the people. What we see instead is that no matter who we vote into government the policies remain the same. How is this possible?

We are controlled

The answer is very simple and every person still capable of independent thought (after decades of  brainwashing by the mainstream media) is able to see it. We are living in a society where we are trapped.

The trap is that we have to work in an ever spinning hamster wheel to make a living, to pay the bills, to put food on the table, to care for and pay for the education of our children. This leaves no time for getting together with others, no time to think for ourselves, no time for questioning. We are made to believe that it is our possessions and lifestyle which define us.

Power monopoly

The result is that we have incrementally surrendered our power to govern ourselves and our communities to career politicians who promise to do it for us and in our interest. We used to make decisions on a local scale, in the tribe first then in the village.

We used to agree and implement. If somebody needed shelter everyone stepped up and a shelter was built with the material available in no time. If two communities thought it was a good idea to build a road to connect them people from both communities got to work and did it. It was a community thing. No more so. We cannot do it because of legislation, rules and international treaties made somewhere else.

Bit by bit the power was removed from us further and further away. From our local councils to the county councils, from the county councils to the national parliament, from there to the EU, from the EU to the UN.

The further away the power was removed the easier it got for vested interests to influence and manipulate the career politicians and the huge bureaucracies  that emerged with these centralized institutions.

What are these vested interests?  They are the big corporations with the big banks at the forefront, which through providing finance to these corporations also rule them. You will not find a boardroom of a big company without a representative of a big bank.

For a long time we thought that big companies were able to drive what was called progress. That may have been true a long time ago but meanwhile these corporations have become detached from the needs of the people. They are manufacturing things we do not need, things that make us sick, things that ruin the environment in which we live and endanger our survival.

Their products are pushed on us through advertising and using the tools of peer pressure from an early age. Anyone questioning this paradigm is labelled a utopist, conspiracy theorist or some backward treehugger. The fact that the mainstream media are either controlled by the big corporations or the state does its bit to make us believe this is the only sane way to live. Many of us have become incapable of even imagining another world.

Corporations have no morals other than providing for their shareholders. The vast majority of people on this planet are not shareholders.

How do corporations and banks rule? They establish think tanks. They sponsor universities and research. There is not a major research going on today which is not dependent on corporations or government for funding.

That is how thinking in the interest of the corporations is fostered. It is then brought forward by so called experts and advisors to influence the bureaucracies and career politicians. Many ordinary people and even some in government believe these experts.

Corporations set up or sponsor (this is called co-opting) so-called Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) often under the cloak of charity or humanity, who then take on board the ideas of those experts and lobby the politicians as well.  Corporate power and interest has become the sole major influence on all decisions made. Individuals in politics refusing to bow to corporate power or even questioning it are smeared or in the worst case assassinated. Nations insisting on their own way of doing things are destabilized or in the worst case militarily attacked and occupied. The result is the break-up of society.

We can see it all around us. In the US poverty is rising. In Europe unemployment reaches unprecedented heights. In other countries billions live on 2 $ a day or less in slums and barrios without running water or a proper infrastructure. The interests of the corporations have resulted in inequality on an immense scale. The universe around us has been degraded to “natural resources”. The human being has been degraded to a “human resource”.  Those being of no use to the corporations are left to die from hunger and disease.

The elite, those in high positions of power in the financial, corporate and political world, are not stupid. They know as well as we do that their system is broken. They frequently meet openly (like the G8, the G 20, the UN) and behind closed doors (like the Bilderberg meetings) to discuss how they can continue their dominance into the future.

They obviously have come up with their solution. It is the regulation of all human activities on a global scale by international rules (google Codex Alimentarius, Trans Pacific Partnership, Agenda 21) which are then policed on a national level by governments and on a local level by councils. Much of this is packaged nicely as “save the environment”, save this, save that. They very cleverly use the real and honest concern of  people who see the degradation around them to further their agenda. Many fall for this.

In the meantime they continue their destructive behaviour on a global scale. Corporations buy up patents for and suppress any form of free energy. They vilify any doctor coming up with natural (basically free) solutions on health. They continue the extraction of “natural resources” regardless of the results.

The disasters of late tell the story: Bophal, Chernobyl, Deep Water Horizon, Fukushima, Niger Delta, rain forests. They monopolize the production of food. Around the globe GMOs are being pushed into traditional and subsistence farming in an attempt to destroy the people’s ability to feed themselves . They force governments to privatise public water utilities so they can be bought up by them.

They tell us that privatisation is creating competition which is lowering the cost for the consumer. They don’t tell us that we lose power over our means of living. Their endgame is to make the population dependent on the state to do anything at all, be it growing vegetables in the garden, using rainwater to water the plants, going on a journey, having children. In short they want you to get a permission just to live your life within a framework you have no power over.

Fixing or changing the broken car

Human beings are not “human resources”.  We are conscious beings. We can see what is going on around us. Many of us are becoming angry, this is a healthy thing as it may get us into action.

But we also must be aware that blind action can easily have the opposite effect of what we want to achieve. Each of us have their own history,  experiences,  feelings, insights and wisdom. How can we tap into this almost infinite potential and come up with ideas on how to fix the broken system?

Bringing people together and making space to do so seems the first obvious answer. But we also have to create a different mindset. In daily life we often interact on the basis of competition. We are competitors if we want to get a job.  We are competitors even as children trying to get more attention from our parents than our brother or sister. We are competitors in school and university for the highest marks. We are competitors in a discussion if we think our view is more valid than another one. We are competitors in our professional environment to get noticed and advance our careers. So how do we create a different mind set?

Learning to walk. Step by step.

To learn to walk together in diversity the method of facilitation is a very effective tool. I came across it just a year ago in a meeting of concerned people in Ireland. The meeting was facilitated, ensuring that all voices were heard, all opinions were listened to and taken into account and this resulted in an amazing outcome. In spite of all the differences the participants were able to find common ground and to develop a few steps to move forward together. This meeting created a different mindset for those who participated. They experienced first hand that co-operation is far superior to competition. The empowerment experienced was almost tangible. Organizing these kind of meetings is one of the steps that can be taken.

Another step can be to support parties that challenge the status quo. There are many new forces emerging in Europe (some of them do not even call themselves parties). The 5 star movement in Italy, The Movement in Iceland, UKIP in the UK, The People’s Convention and Direct Democracy in Ireland just to name a few. They all have in common that they question the current political situation. Many of them are what I would call “nationalist”. Nevertheless resisting the elite’s drive towards world government by emphasizing the importance of national sovereignty  can be one step towards a devolution of power back to the community. In my opinion “nationalism” is not the answer to our problems as for the first time in history the fate of us all is intertwined. Sovereign nation states ruled by empowered communities could be the basis of international co-operation to address our problems.  Supporting these forces while keeping in mind that they still are operating within a broken system can be another step.

Media, corporatism and the current party system working hand in glove offer no alternatives. Political dogmas and established ideologies divide rather than unite. I have no answer of how to fix the broken vehicle or how to get a new one.  By taking one step at a time trying our best to co-operate without ever forgetting that the power to create a better future is in our hands and in the hands of the people around us answers will emerge and ways forward will become visible.  By learning from and working with others whilst respecting their views we can take steps towards the self governance of humankind, our individual emancipation and the healing of the planet.

R. Teichmann is an activist within the Awaken Ireland   movement living in West Cork/ Ireland. He can be contacted via [email protected]. He is a frequent contributor to this blog.

Was the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez Frias the object of a targeted assassination by the Obama administration?

When addressing this question, it is worth recalling that in the immediate wake of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush restored the sordid practices of the CIA by revoking a ban initially enacted in 1976 by President Ford under Executive Order 11905.  The latter stated:  “Prohibition on Assassination. No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

President Gerald Ford had issued EO 11905 in response to the findings of the 1975 Interim Report of  the  US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, entitled Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders.

This Select Committee was led by Senator Frank Church.

The “Church Committee” Interim Report, focused on alleged plots to kill:

• Patrice Lumumba (Congo)
• Fidel Castro (Cuba)
• Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic)
• Ngo Dinh Diem (Vietnam)
• Rene Schneider (Chile)

President  Jimmy Carter renewed the ban with Executive Order 12306: “Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination” .

In December 1981, Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333 which confirmed the ban initially enacted by President Gerald Ford pursuant to the 1975 Interim Report of the Church Committee:  “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

The October 2001 revocation of Reagan’s 1981 Executive Order 12333 by President George W. Bush is of crucial significance. It initiates a transition in post-911 procedures pertaining to extrajudicial assassinations. It provides a green light to the US president to “lawfully” order the assassination of  foreign leaders of “rogue states”.

Although couched in the framework of post 9/11 counter terrorism doctrine, the revocation of EO 12333 gives carte blanche to the US Head of State. In this context, the CIA would receive orders to assassinate foreign leaders directly from the US President:

….The Bush administration has concluded that executive orders banning assassination do not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist [or foreign leader of a rogue state] for death by covert action… Bush’s directive broadens the class of potential targets beyond bin Laden and his immediate circle of operational planners, and also beyond the present boundaries of the fight in Afghanistan, officials said. But it also holds the potential to target violence more narrowly than its precedents of the past 25 years because previous findings did not permit explicit planning for the death of an individual … [I]nside the CIA and elsewhere in government,… much of the debate turns on the scope of a targeted killing campaign. …

…The CIA’s Directorate of Operations, which runs the clandestine service, is mindful of a traumatizing past in which assassination attempts in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East were blamed on rogue agents when they failed. The agency is determined to leave no room this time for “plausible denial” of responsibility on the part of the president and the agency’s top management. That does not mean that operations will be publicly proclaimed, one source said, but that the paper trail inside government must begin undeniably with “the political leadership.”

...”The important thing is that the accountability chain is clear,” said John C. Gannon, who retired in June as deputy director of central intelligence,… “I would want the president’s guidance to be as clear as it could be, including the names of individuals… With explicit authority, he said, “I think the case officers are capable [of targeted killing] and would follow instructions, and would, I think, have the capability of succeeding.”

National security officials noted that the White House and at least three executive departments already maintain lists in which terrorists are singled out by name… One view, apparently a minority position but one expressed in private recently by two senior managers in the Directorate of Operations, is that the clandestine service should target not only commanders but also financiers of al Qaeda. “You have to go after the Gucci guys, the guys who write the checks,” said one person reflecting that view. It is easier to find financiers, he said, and killing them would have dramatic impact because they are not commonly prepared to die for their cause… Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.)… said fundraisers are legitimate targets for death. “Under traditional terms of war, those who assist belligerents are belligerents,” he said….

If Bush has drawn up such a list, it is among the most closely held secrets of government. It could not be learned whether names have been proposed to him by the clandestine service, or whether he has signed orders that would amount to individual death warrants …

(Washington Post, 29 October 2001, emphasis added)

American public opinion is led to believe that a policy of “targeted assassinations” in time of war is necessary to “fight evil” and uphold democracy.

Washington had hinted at the time of the revocation of EO 12333 that it is not only Al Qaeda which was being targeted, foreign leaders in “rogue States” or countries “which harbor international terrorism” could also be the object of “targeted assassinations.”

The revocation of EO 12333 in 2001 has laid the foundations for the establishment of broad procedures, which more recently have resulted under the Obama administration, in the endorsement by the US Congress of targeted assassinations of both foreigners and US citizens.  These procedures de facto also encompass the targeted assassination of foreign heads of state.

Foreign leaders who are “disliked” by Washington can be targeted.  What is at stake is the outright criminalization of US foreign policy in derogation of international law.

With regard to President Chavez, it is important to emphasize that there are  clearly defined procedures pertaining to the “lawful” assassination of foreign heads of State by the US government, allegedly on national security grounds.

There are secret lists of names as confirmed by US government sources.

The orders carried out by the CIA to kill a foreign leader emanate from the US president.

Article originally published in May 2001

A Mexican judge has ruled that an exiled Argentinian torturer must be extradited to stand trial in Spain; a Buenos Aires court has waived military immunity against criminal charges. And evidence mounts of decades of war by Latin American dictatorships, with the connivance of the United States, against leftwing dissidents.

For the Common Defense ! was a quasi-documentary short in MGM’s Crime Does Not Pay series. It was made in 1942 and featured a mysterious “Senor Castillo of the Chilean intelligence service”, who assured filmgoers that Chile was playing its part alongside the western democracies in the fight against the dictatorships and foreign agents that threatened the country. In the ruthless struggle, the main weapon, he said, was cooperation between police forces throughout North and South America.

The film was inspired by the FBI and designed as an attack on Nazi spies in Latin America and a demonstration of cooperation between police and intelligence services on a continental scale. There, in the middle of the second world war, are the seeds of Operation Condor, a continental campaign of repression waged by Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s against the new enemy – “international communism”.

The ramifications of Operation Condor were first revealed in December 1992 by several tonnes of documents from the Stroessner dictatorship, soon dubbed the “archives of terror”, discovered in a police station in Lambare, 15 miles from the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion. The tale they told was confirmed in detail by CIA documents declassified last November.

The United States had begun warning South American military commanders about the dangers of communism at the Inter-American Conference on the Problems of War and Peace, held at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City in February 1945. Bilateral agreements on mutual military assistance followed in 1951. They covered the supply of US arms and funding to Latin American countries, the secondment of US military advisers, and the training of Latin American officers in the US and at the US army’s School of the Americas in the Panama Canal Zone.

The move towards “continental defence against communism” was speeded by the victory of Castro’s revolution in 1959. The following year General Theodore F Bogart, US Southern Command supremo, invited his Latin American colleagues to a “friendly meeting” at his base in the Canal Zone to discuss problems of common interest. The outcome was an annual Conference of American Armies (CAA), first held at Fort Amador in Panama. In 1964 it was transferred to West Point, and from 1965 it met every two years. The West Point venue, a secretive meeting place symptomatic of cold war paranoia, was the heart of the future Operation Condor.

Sharing intelligence

Apart from “international communism”, a convenient catchphrase for all political opponents, Latin American military commanders were obsessed with links between their intelligence services. At its second meeting, the CAA called for the creation of a standing committee in the Panama Canal Zone to exchange information and intelligence (1). In response, a continent-wide communication network was established and top-secret bilateral intelligence meetings were held between Argentina and Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, and others.

Files made available by those countries were circulated through a network of military attachés known as Agremil. Most were supplied by military intelligence services (G-2), but others came from security police or shadier bodies like the Organismo Coordinador de Operaciones Antisubversivas (Ocoa), a Uruguayan death squad that carried out interrogations, torture and executions, mainly in Argentina (2).

At the CAA’s 10th meeting, held in Caracas on 3 September 1973, General Breno Borges Fortes, commander-in-chief of the Brazilian army, agreed that the struggle against communism was exclusively a matter for the armed forces of the individual countries. As far as collective action was concerned, “the only effective methods are the exchange of experience and information, plus technical assistance when requested” (3). On this basis, the CAA decided to “strengthen information exchange in order to counter terrorism and control subversive elements in each country” (4).

From the time of Juan Domingo Peron’s return to power in 1973 to the 1976 putsch, when most of South America was gradually coming under the thumb of military regimes on the Brazilian model, Argentina lived through a curious transition period. Its police and armed forces stepped up repression and authorised the establishment of death squads like the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA). But, at the same time, it was the only country in the Southern Cone in which thousands of mainly Chilean and Uruguayan victims of political and social repression were able to take refuge.

In March 1974 Chilean, Uruguayan and Bolivian police leaders met with the deputy chief of the Argentinian federal police, Alberto Villar (joint founder of the AAA), to investigate ways of working together to destroy what they saw as the hotbed of subversion constituted by the presence of thousands of foreign political refugees in Argentina. The Chilean representative, a general of the carabinieri (military police), proposed that a police officer or member of the armed forces be accredited to every embassy as a security agent in order to coordinate operations with the police and security authorities of each country. He also called for the creation of “an intelligence centre where we can obtain information on individual Marxists and … exchange programmes and information about politicians. In addition,” he argued, “we must be able to move freely across the frontiers between Bolivia, Chile and Argentina and operate in all three countries without an official warrant” (5).

Villar promised that the Argentinian Federal Police’s Foreign Affairs Department (DAE) would deal with foreigners that neighbouring juntas wanted out of the way. In August 1974 the corpses of foreign, especially Bolivian, refugees started to appear on Buenos Aires refuse tips. On 30 September a bomb placed in Buenos Aires by a Chilean commando group led by CIA agent (or former agent) Michael Townley killed General Carlos Prats, commander-in-chief of the Chilean army under the Popular Unity government, who was the spearhead of opposition to Pinochet.

Police and military commando groups now crossed borders at will. In March and April 1975 more than two dozen Uruguayans were arrested in Buenos Aires by Argentinian and Uruguayan police officers, who interrogated them jointly in Argentinian police stations. Jorge Isaac Fuentes Alarcon, an Argentinian militant, was arrested on the Paraguayan border by Paraguayan police. As Chile’s National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation (the Retting commission) subsequently established in its report of 8 February 1991 to President Patricio Aylwin (6), he was interrogated not only by Paraguayan police and Argentinian intelligence officers but also by officials of the US embassy in Buenos Aires, who passed information on to Chile’s National Intelligence Directorate (Dina).

State within a state

Meanwhile, Chile had put the finishing touches to its own system of repression. Following the putsch of 11 September 1973, for which US president Richard Nixon and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger bore direct responsibility, Pinochet gave Colonel Manuel Contreras full powers to “extirpate the cancer of communism” from the country. Dina soon became a state within the state.

The Chilean dictatorship was particularly exercised by the presence of large numbers of implacable opponents abroad. It had managed to kill General Prats, but in February 1975 the anti-Castro Cubans recruited for the purpose bungled the assassination of Carlos Altamirano and Volodia Teitelboim, the leaders of the exiled Chilean Socialist and Communist parties. In early April Contreras visited the Latin American capitals in order to persuade the security services of the whole continent to set up a special anti-exile force. On 25 August he was at CIA headquarters in Washington, where he met Vernon Walters, deputy director responsible for Latin America.

Two days later he had a meeting with Rafael Rivas Vasquez, assistant director of the Venezuelan intelligence agency (Disip), in Caracas: “He explained … that he wanted to place agents in all Chilean embassies abroad and that he was already training embassy officials who were prepared to act as intelligence agents if required. He said he had already made several successful trips to obtain the support of Latin American intelligence services. Everything was based on unwritten agreements” (7). According to Rivas, the Venezuelan government ordered the Disip to reject Contreras’ overtures. It was the only refusal. All the other countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia) agreed.

At the same time the order was given to set up an anti-subversion network in Europe based on Italian rightwing terrorist groups. Unable to get at Carlos Altamirano, who was living under armed guard in the Federal Republic of Germany, the assassins turned their attention to Bernardo Leighton, Chile’s former vice president and a founder member of the Christian Democratic Party. On 6 October 1975 Leighton and his wife were attacked by a fascist hit squad in Rome. They survived the shooting, but Mrs Leighton was left permanently paralysed. Despite this failure, Pinochet had a meeting with Stefano Delle Chiaie, leader of the Italian commando groups, who agreed to remain at Chile’s disposal.

At its meeting of 19-26 October 1975 in Montevideo, the CAA gave the go-ahead for a first “working meeting on national intelligence services”, prepared by Contreras. It took place from 25 November to 1 December in Santiago de Chile and was classified top secret. Contreras’ main proposal was the creation of a continental database “similar to the Interpol database in Paris, but specialising in subversion”. This was the beginning of the Chilean contribution to Operation Condor.

According to the CIA, which claims not to have heard of Condor until 1976 (8), three of the countries involved, namely Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, “extended cooperation on anti-subversion activities to the assassination of high-ranking terrorists living in exile in Europe”. Although it had been accepted for years that information was to be exchanged bilaterally, “a third, top-secret phase of Operation Condor apparently involved training special teams from member countries for joint operations that included the assassination of terrorists and terrorist sympathisers. When a terrorist or sympathiser from a member country was identified, a team would be sent to locate the target and keep him under surveillance. Then a hit squad would be despatched. The special teams were made up of people from one or several Condor states who were supplied with false identity papers issued by member countries.”

The CIA claims that the operation centre for phase three was in Buenos Aires, where a special team had been set up. Meanwhile, bilateral meetings between the countries of the Southern Cone continued as usual under the aegis of the CAA, and their effects were just as devastating (9).

Many Condor meetings took place in 1976. They were often attended by the same people who took part in CAA bilateral meetings. According to the CIA, “although cooperation between the various intelligence and security services had existed for some time, it was not formalised until late May 1976 at a Condor meeting in Santiago de Chile, where the main topic was long-term cooperation between the services of the participating countries going well beyond the exchange of information. The Condor member countries identified themselves by code numbers: Condor One, Condor Two, etc.

It was a bad year for their political opponents, who had taken refuge wherever they could. Under the pretext of attacking terrorists committed to armed resistance, the murderers struck out at anyone, crossing frontiers at will. Increasing numbers of political opponents were assassinated or “disappeared”. On 8 June, in the course of a friendly chat in Santiago, Kissinger assured Pinochet that “the people of the United States are wholeheartedly behind you … and wish you every success” (10).

Flying like a condor

But the scale of repression made the existence of Condor increasingly difficult to hide. The CIA itself became a source of embarrassing rumours as staff exchanged quips about colleagues sent abroad because they could “fly like a condor”. Finally, Contreras’ own policy of targeted assassinations put paid to the operation. On 21 September 1976 he had Chile’s former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, assassinated in Washington. It was a major blunder. The US investigators were determined to identify those responsible. The FBI’s chief officer in Buenos Aires filed a special report on phase three of Operation Condor, and extracts found their way into the American press. A Congressional committee of inquiry was quickly set up. The Chileans responded by disbanding Dina and replacing it by another organisation. Contreras was ditched.

The newly elected US president Jimmy Carter had made human rights part of his platform. He was not prepared to countenance Condor-type operations. At the very least, he did not want the US involved in them. The prevailing view is that the Carter administration pressured the Latin American countries to close Condor down.

Representatives of all the Condor member states met in Buenos Aires on 13-15 December 1976 to discuss future plans in the light of the new situation. The Argentinians, who had outstripped all the other dictatorships in the ferocity of their methods since the putsch of 23 March, took matters in hand. With help from Paraguay, they sought a more secure and discreet channel for anti-subversion operations in the form of the Latin American Anti-Communist Federation (CAL), an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL).

The CAL held its third meeting in Asuncion in March 1977. It was attended by the top brass of the dictatorships, including General Gustavo Leigh, a member of the Chilean junta, and General Jorge Videla, the Argentinian president, together with an assortment of Latin America’s torturers and death squad members. Their main problems were the US’ new strategy of re-establishing democracy in Latin America, the spread of guerrilla movements in Central America, and the position of whole sections of the Catholic Church that appeared to be an integral part of the international communist movement.

A plan proposed by the Bolivians, named after the Bolivian dictator, was adopted. Its purpose was to “eradicate” proponents of liberation theology. Under the Banzer plan, which culminated in the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador, hundreds of priests, monks, nuns, lay members of religious communities and bishops were executed,

An end to formal restraints

Taking charge of repression throughout Latin America, the Argentinians discarded all formal restraints. The coordination of repression was entrusted to death squads. Even though some were composed of soldiers and policemen, this was tantamount to privatising anti-subversion operations. At the same time bilateral intelligence meetings of national security agencies, as well as meetings of the CAA, continued under the aegis of the US. In 1977 the CAA met in Managua, Nicaragua, and in 1979 in Bogota, Colombia. The Argentinians also sent several missions to Central America to assist local armed forces and political police. In the spring of 1979 they started anti-subversion training courses in Buenos Aires to reduce dependence on the US war schools. The fall of the Somoza regime in July 1979 encouraged the Latin American dictatorships to standardise their anti-subversion methods.

The CAL’s fourth meeting, chaired by Argentinian general Suarez Mason in Buenos Aires in September 1980, favoured the adoption of an “Argentinian solution” throughout Latin America. From April 1980 the US Department of Defence was aware that Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil were once again pursuing the idea of an “international anti-terrorist organisation” – Condor in a new guise. Meanwhile, the CAL was coordinating massacres carried out by death squads and security forces in Central America. The Agremil files continued to circulate in the general staffs, yielding a rich harvest of cross-border arrests, exchanges of prisoners and international torture squads.

In 1981 the CAA meeting was held in Washington, following the election of a Republican president, Ronald Reagan. Developments took a new turn as the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua gave fresh impetus to anti-subversion cooperation (11). The participants decided to renew their bilateral agreements on the exchange of information about so-called terrorists and to set up a permanent CAA secretariat. This came into being on 24 May 1984 in Santiago de Chile.

When Argentina returned to democracy in 1985, the Chilean military regime was left as the last rampart against communism in South America except for Paraguay. The Reagan administration entrusted its programme of secret war in Central America to the CIA , the CAL and the private sector. The CAA remained committed to an ideology of war against international communism, except that the term now included human rights activists as well as leftwing and clerical opponents. Judges and journalists calling for torturers to be brought to trial were gradually included, as were critics of corruption, in which the military were deeply implicated..

Operation Condor as such vanished in the jungles of Central America when the US took over the struggle against the Nicaraguan Sandanistas. But it was the end of the cold war and the accumulation of its own excesses that dealt it a fatal blow. Strictly speaking, it was directed against only a few dozen or few hundred targeted victims. But the overall toll of repression in the Southern Cone alone during the period of its existence totalled over 50,000 murdered, 35,000 disappeared and 400,000 imprisoned.

Although torture and executions are no longer institutionalised on a continental scale, there is no reason to believe these practices have ceased. The crimes of the Colombian paramilitaries linked to sections of the country’s armed forces are clear evidence to the contrary. On 8 May 2000 a report by the Committee on Hemispheric Security of the Organisation of American States (OAS) reviewed 10 years of anti-subversion cooperation among the various South and Central American states. While the designated enemy is now drugs-traffickers rather than communists and there are references to human rights, the message is still the same.

Numerous Latin American states have concluded agreements among themselves and with the US aimed at greater bilateral or multilateral cooperation against terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking. These agreements confirm the role of the armed forces in social control.

Similarly, since the mid-1990s and under the aegis of the US, the Latin American countries have increased their bilateral exchange arrangements. In the intelligence field alone, dozens of arrangements are in force, in addition to the annual conference of the intelligence services of the armies of the OAS member states. The CAA still meets (in Argentina in 1995 and in Ecuador in 1997). A multilateral military conference on intelligence services, the first since the meeting set up by Contreras in 1975, was organised by the Bolivian army on 8-10 March 1999. It was attended by representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, the US (Southern Command), Uruguay and Venezuela.

“Security in the Americas”, so dear to the US, does not necessarily give first place to democracy. It would not take much for Operation Condor to rise from the ashes.

______________________________

Notes:

(1) Permanent Executive Secretariat of the Conference of American Armies (PESCAA), Information Bulletin no. 1, Santiago, Chile, 1985

(2) See Nunca Más (never again): a report by Argentina’s National Commission on Disappeared People, Faber in association with Index on Censorship, London, 1986.

(3) See Diffusion de l’information sur l’Amérique Latine (DIAL), no. 125, Paris, 25 October 1973

(4) PESCAA, Information Bulletin No.1, op. cit.

(5) Stenographer’s record published by El Autentico, Buenos Aires, 10 December 1975.

(6) The full text of the report is available in English translation at www.nd.edu/

(7) Testimony given on 29 June 1979 to a Washington court during the trial of Orlando Letelier’s assassins.

(8) Whether this claim is true or false, the fact remains that Contreras was a CIA informer from 1974 to 1977 and was on the agency’s payroll until 1975 (“by mistake”, the CIA claims), as revealed by a declassified document submitted to the US Congress at its request on 19 September 2000. See El Nuevo Herald, Miami, 20 September 2000.

(9) The Argentinians alone did not rely entirely on the United States in their “dirty war”. In 1976 a French military mission was sent to Buenos Aires to train the Argentinian armed forces in anti-subversion operations.

(10) Declassified document quoted in El Pais, 28 February 1999

(11) On 1 December 1981 the US administration released $19m to fund the training of an initial contingent of 500 Contras (Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries) by Argentinian officers.

Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition), translated by Barry Smerin,  August 2001
link to the original version in French:

 Retour sur un terrorisme d’état béni par les Etats-Unis 

« Opération Condor », cauchemar de l’Amérique latine

par Pierre Abramovici, Le Monde Diplomatique, Mai 2001

“Conflict in History”

March 10th, 2013 by Anthony Freda

Anthony Freda’s award-winning illustration was spotted by people at The University of Queensland in Australia, who contacted him about licensing the image for a conference and publication titled “Conflict in History.”

Anthony_Freda__Conflict_in_History.jpg

“Apparently, the conference committee became embroiled in a heated fight over the image,” says Anthony. “In the end, they said my art was ‘pushing academic boundaries.’ Interesting to me that a conference about war feels a fairly mild visual representation of war is too provocative…”

Venezuela After Chávez

March 10th, 2013 by Global Research News

Many times over the years Chavez complained that he had to act as the mayor of Venezuela and not as president, in other words, officials were not doing their job and all the complaints were coming to him and he had to solve them.

What will happen to Venezuela after an uncertain death of the President Hugo Chavez? Here is with me, Patrick O’Donoghue to discuss present political trends in the country. He is former news editor of VHeadline.com and London correspondent for Las Verdades de Miguel (Venezuelan) weekly newspaper based Caracas .

Q. President Hugo Chavez has just died, what is current political situation in the Country?

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sZQ_t7fUGFA/UTrdITGZZBI/AAAAAAAAScw/qlLxQYfzvwo/s1600/Patrick.JPGA. This evening Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in as President of the Republic. According to the Constitution, once that happens, the president of the National Assembly has the duty to call elections to take place in 30 days time. The president of the National Assembly is Disodado Cabello, a key personality within the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Cabello, Maduro and state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PSUV) president, Rafael Ramirez have promised to respect the wishes that President Chavez made before he went to Cuba for the final operation in December, and true to his military training, Chavez planned strategy and tactics for the future.

One of the main tactical decisions was to secure that Nicholas Maduro would be the party’s candidate in any future election, making the Homeland Plan 2013-2019 the main strategy. Cabello, as a former military man and participant in Chavez’ 1992 failed military rising, has been the main contact between Chavez and the military, a role he will continue to play no doubt in the transition and crucial times ahead.

Another “historical task” that the President insisted upon before the operation was the quest to end poverty in Venezuela ; Ramirez will continue to ensure that oil revenue will fund flagship social programs. It is not certain how the opposition will react and it seems most likely that they will continue to try and exploit weaknesses to gain political points. Politically, they have little choice than to make Henrique Capriles Radonski their candidate again against Maduro, despite his losing the presidential race against Chavez last December.

 

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Q. According to the Constitution of the Venezuela, the government must go for a fresh election. Many political commentators were commenting on forthcoming election and noted that will be a very crucial election. Perhaps it will be a huge challenge to the Vice President Nicolas. I would like to have your take?

A. According to the majority of commentators, Maduro is likely to win the election, given the huge popularity and sentiment of the poorer classes towards Chavez as can be seen during the death and mourning period. However, the opposition will probably try to exploit the secrecy surrounding the President’s post-operation health after the operation and when he arrived back in Venezuela .

The PSUV is also preparing for elections that had been scheduled in a few months time for mayoralties throughout Venezuela . They easily won state governorship elections also held last December, losing only three governorships. Given the fact that government supporters will adhere strictly to President Chavez’ wishes, it is unlikely that Maduro will have any problems from within the PSUV and the wider Patriotic Pole of Chavez supporters, which includes the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).

Q. Some of well reputed authors claimed that this unfortunate death of the President Chavez is a plot which might be accomplished or conducted by the foreign intelligence agency. Meanwhile, according to Media, Vice President Nicolas himself claimed that, his cancer was a result of an attack by enemies”. What do you think about this and let us know more details on the role of the Foreign Spy agencies in the region?

A. A day before President Chavez died, Vice President Maduro ordered two US military attaches to leave the country within 24 hours for allegedly attempting to contact Venezuelan military officers. The US has no ambassador in Caracas , nor has Venezuelan Ambassador in Washington . The US has ridiculed the accusation that its intelligence agencies caused the death of Chavez through inducing cancer, but within Venezuela and government sectors, the suspicion remains because of the history of the US “dirty tricks,” or “black bag” activities in the region. I think people in Venezuela and South America are keeping an open mind on this.

The phrase “I wouldn’t put it past them,” would be a common sentiment. Both the Americans and Israelis have intelligence operations in Venezuela , the latter because of President Chavez’ alignment with many Arab countries and Iran . The Colombians and Brazilians have always had an intelligence presence operational, especially Colombia which has close relations with the US and the United Kingdom and a badlands border area. Cuba has been key in providing training for Venezuelan counter-intelligence and security agencies. When President Chavez came to power and during the first years in office, Venezuela ‘s security agencies had been heavily infiltrated principally by US, Israel and anti-Cuban agencies based in Miami . We must remember that before Chavez , Venezuela was considered part of the USA ‘s backyard and a main supplier of oil.

Q. Meanwhile, some of mainstream rights groups claim that the Chavez Regime is based on Authoritarianism. What is your take on his (President’s Chavez) political ideology and the system of governance?

A. This is one of the most difficult or grey areas during the Chavez period because it involves the move from one system to an entirely new one. A transition that can never be seamless and without controversy. From representational to participatory democracy. All of the institutions in Venezuela were turned upside down by the arrival of Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution (based on the ideas of the Liberator Simon Bolivar who led the independence struggle against Spain in the 19th century covering five Latin American countries). The basic idea that challenged all of Venezuela ‘s institutions and the rule of law was their relevance to the poorer sectors Venezuela .

That was the measuring rod and many of the institutions were found at fault. The same could be said of the traditional human rights groups which discovered that under Chavez many of their functions were being assumed by the state. Hence, the rise of partisan HR groups or NGOs funded by the opposition. It could be argued that many of the people Chavez chose as ministers or who were appointed, according to the Constitution, to run institutions were not up to the task.

Many times over the years Chavez complained that he had to act as the mayor of Venezuela and not as president, in other words, officials were not doing their job and all the complaints were coming to him and he had to solve them. For me, that gave rise to some of the accusations that he was authoritarian. Underlying the President’s forcefulness and impatience at times, was his promise to make things better for the ordinary people of Venezuela .

As regards freedom of expression and the rule of law, it is a well-known fact that people could and can express what they thought and often did so, especially in the mass media in the hands of the oligarchy. While the government avoided as far as possible any closures, they were able to curtail what I would call OTT destabilisation strategies employed by media barons such as such as Marciel Granier of RCTV by legally refusing to renew air wave licenses. Another fact to consider is that the Bolivarian process also questioned the role of international human rights organisations, especially those belonging to what is now a highly-questioned (not just in Venezuela ) Organisation of American States (OAS). As a result, one of the international successes of Chavez was the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which is an organisation of Latin America and Caribbean countries without the USA and Canada .

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Agricultural Revolution during first term of the Chavez Government -  Photo by Patrick O’Donoghu

Q. After Chavez, possible nightmare or political disaster in the Country, was a general comment that rose by some of mainstream medias. I would like to have your take on the future of Venezuela ?

A. Many of the commentaries, coming from the United Kingdom and USA suggest that the Venezuelan economy is in dire straits and that sooner or later the country will face disaster. The Financial Times spearheads predictions of economic doom looking at it from a capitalist point of view. The government has been weak in answering these charges, in my view, given that the majority of foreign newspapers and media sources reflect the FT and Bloomberg point of view, ignoring the domestic growth rate, return of gold bullion, lower inflation rate, international reserves and foreign debt payments. No doubt, one of the biggest challenges facing the new government of Maduro, once elected, will be to ensure food security and the success of the agricultural policy;

President Chavez put a huge amount of money and assets into the program. Part of the struggle over the last 14 years has been to curtail sabotage on the part of the private sector that had been subsidised and pampered by former governments. In fact, it is important to point out that the private sector was unable to compete in the early 90s era of globalisation for example, when it became cheaper to import yellow cheese from Uruguay than to buy domestic products.

The new government will also have end to some of the improvisation that was characteristic under Chavez and continue to fight corruption. It will also have to rely on and consolidate people power to ensure that the groundwork laid by Chavez since 2003 continues. That will mean continuing to monitor and curtail sabotage on the part of opposition sectors and of course, meddling by foreign intelligence agencies. Venezuela has a democratic tradition and in the short term, it is unlikely that there will be any major upheaval, even though some commentators are looking at what happened in nearby Grenada under Maurice Bishop.

The high crime rate is another serious challenge that the new government will face and it will have to continue to purge the thoroughly corrupt police forces and boost the new police services started to create public trust. The inability to solve this problem has allowed the opposition to score brownie points among the electorate.

As for foreign policy, the question is whether it is time for change. Nicolas Maduro had been Foreign Minister for the last five to six years. Under the new minister, Elias Jaua, it is possible that there could be a review, especially towards countries, such as Sri Lanka . There was unease – and I include myself – about the Chavez government’s too easy acceptance of the Sri Lankan President’s version of the civil war in the north of that country and the attempt several years ago to prevent Tamil groups from getting their view across to the Venezuelan government by the Sri Lankan ambassador to Cuba, herself a Tamil.

Nilantha Ilangamuwa is journalist and editor of the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily news paper based in Colombo Sri Lanka. He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

Maryland: A Government of, by, and for Lockheed Martin

March 10th, 2013 by David Swanson

What’s the world’s biggest war profiteer to do if it already owns the federal government but is having trouble kicking around the local government of Montgomery County, Maryland, where it’s headquartered?  Why, hire the state of Maryland to step in, of course. 

Lockheed Martin lives by killing, although nobody ever gives it a background check before allowing it another weapon.  Such a background check would reveal Lockheed Martin to be the number one top offender among U.S. government contractors.  When Congress was defunding ACORN for imaginary crimes alleged by a fraudster who is now having to compensate his victims, one Congresswoman proposed a bill to defund government contractors actually guilty of crimes.  Passing such a bill would strip Lockheed Martin of some 80% of its income.

The list of abuses by Lockheed Martin includes contract fraud, unfair business practices, kickbacks, mischarges, inflated costs, defective pricing, improper pricing, unlicensed exporting to foreign nations (Lockheed Martin sells weapons to governments of all sorts around the world), air and water pollution, fraud, bribery, federal election law violations, overbilling, radiation exposure, age discrimination, illegal transfer of information to China, falsification of testing records, embezzlement, racial discrimination, retaliation against whistleblowers, bid-rigging, and much more.

Why, one might ask, does the federal government give such a company a dime, much less $40 billion per year?  Why is it intent on dumping over a trillion dollars into Lockheed Martin for the most expensive and least functioning airplane in history, the F-35?  Lockheed not only funds Republicans and Democrats alike with over $3 million per election cycle, lobbies officials for another $30 million, hires former officials, and shapes corporate news, but Lockheed Martin also creates local panics by threatening to notify every one of its employees that they might be fired if U.S. war preparations spending doesn’t continue to grow.

The pseudo-debate of recent years between those who want to cut healthcare and retirement spending and those who oppose all cuts is a debate that any news outlet interested in selling advertising to Lockheed Martin can accept without hesitation.  A debate over what we actually should cut and what we should instead invest in more heavily would be a different matter.

Of course, we can all send emails to Congress.  Lockheed Martin can too.  But Lockheed Martin, unlike the rest of us, also owns the email system through which Congress receives our communications.

Lockheed Martin is based in suburban Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County, Md.  For years, Lockheed Martin and its friends at the Washington Post have been trying to get the local government to excuse the patrons of Lockheed Martin’s luxury hotel from paying taxes.  Montgomery County is home to terrific peace activists who can, of course, get virtually nowhere with Congress, but who can make their voices heard locally.  This has frustrated Lockheed Martin no end.  I recommend reading this article by Jean Athey from a year ago, describing the work she and others have done.  An excerpt:

“Let’s put this tax exemption proposal in perspective by taking a quick look at Lockheed Martin’s finances. In 2010 the company took home $3.9 billion in profits from the portion of its business that is paid directly by taxpayers (84 percent). Lockheed Martin’s CEO, Robert Stevens, received $21.9 million in compensation in 2011.  So this company is doing quite well for itself, thanks to the taxpayers, and our largesse will continue into the future. . . . When Lockheed Martin’s own employees stay at the CLE, according to the Post, the corporation passes on the costs of the hotel tax to the appropriate federal contract. In other words, Lockheed Martin is already compensated by the federal government for any lodging costs the company incurs, and given federal procurement regulations, the company can charge indirect costs on top of the local taxes it pays. This means that Lockheed Martin gets its money back, with interest, on its employee lodging costs.  Even if Lockheed Martin didn’t get that money back, it would still make no sense to exempt this extremely wealthy company from paying a tax on employee lodging costs. The company also invites contractors and vendors to stay at the hotel. Why should these people not be required to pay a tax that they would pay if they instead chose to stay at the Marriott?  In reality, Lockheed Martin rents rooms to more than its employees, contractors and vendors. It uses its world-class conference center for . . . conferences. . . . It is extraordinary that the company would make an issue of this tax. Although the amount of money—$450,000 per year—is significant to Montgomery County, it is essentially a rounding error for Lockheed Martin.  There’s more: not only are Lockheed Martin and The Washington Post furious at the county council for questioning the wisdom of a special million-dollar gift to Lockheed Martin to compensate it for having to pay the tax. They are also still irate that in 2011 the council briefly considered a non-binding resolution asking Congress to support the needs of local communities and cut military spending. Lockheed Martin suddenly had a job for a few of its 91 lobbyists: kill the resolution, which they did.”

Here’s Jean Athey, speaking this Saturday about the latest developments:

“Lockheed Martin lost the battle in 2011 to convince Montgomery County’s council to change the definition of ‘hotel’ so as to exempt guests at the company’s luxury hotel from being subject to a 7% hotel tax that everyone else has to pay. Now, Maryland’s state government is considering a bill to force the county to do so, and it looks very likely to pass. This is an unbelievable and outrageous example of corporate welfare, designed for one of the wealthiest companies in the nation.  The bill is also an egregious example of state interference in a local issue and so further diminishes democracy.”

This latest outrage has passed a state senate committee, and a companion bill is being considered by the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Delegates.  Here’s the Washington Post.  This bill (PDF) would force Montgomery County to exempt Lockheed Martin’s conference hotel from the county’s hotel tax. In addition, it requires the County to reimburse Lockheed Martin $1.4 million for taxes it has paid the County to date for hotel taxes.

The state legislature, in introducing this bill, did not go through the county delegation prior to presenting it, even though the bill will only affect Montgomery County. Senator Jamie Raskin, for example, only found out about the bill Saturday morning.  He opposes it.

He should oppose it.  We all should.  There is still a glimmer of representative government in some of our localities.  People are able to get involved in local issues, have some influence, and see majority opinion rule the day.  This is, of course, why people concerned about national and international issues take resolutions to local governments.  Unlike Congress, local governments sometimes listen.  But sometimes when they listen too much, state governments or the federal government will step in and overrule them.

This is an assault on democracy, not just on the budget of Montgomery County and the balance of wealth in a nation that has created a Wall-Street-and-War-Making aristocracy.  When I worked for ACORN we used to pass restrictions on predatory lending or increases in minimum wages at the local level.  Then the banks or the hotels and restaurants would go to the state level and preempt them.  This was an outrage, but what did ACORN members really count for after all?  Some of them were probably on welfare!

Well, what should we call a tax break for one of the most profitable corporations in the nation, a tax break on expenses it’s going to bill to the government anyway?  I’d call it welfare for the undeserving rich, except that it’s not really about their welfare.  It’s about their insatiable greed.

If you live in Maryland or even if you don’t, please contact the legislature to oppose Senate Bill 631 and House Bill 815.  Lockheed Martin is using national resources (ours, in fact, courtesy of the Pentagon and NASA) to turn the state of Maryland against the people of Maryland.  Why shouldn’t those of us who care speak up, too, and ask everyone we know in Maryland to do the same?

The United States intends to maintain a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, manager of the organization Stop NATO, Rick Rozoff, said.

“There is a growing sense among Afghan people that all talk about withdrawal of foreign troops is only partially true and that the United States and its NATO allies intend to maintain a military presence in the country indefinitely,” he said in an interview with U.S. Desk on Saturday.

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, has recently stated that he envisioned about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan after the December 2014 withdrawal deadline.

Rozoff said that the growing resentment the Afghans feel towards the occupation forces is justifiable. “People in any nation would feel similarly… and it’s a further indication that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan has to be accelerated and it also has to be complete.”

On Friday afternoon, Afghan soldiers attacked a U.S. base in the Kapisa Province, killing a U.S. contractor, while wounding four additional U.S. troops.

A sharp rise last year in insider attacks, which Afghan security forces turn their guns on U.S.-led forces, greatly strained relations between Washington and Kabul.

“The recent so-called insider attack in Kapisa province in Afghanistan is the latest in a series of comparable or similar incidents aimed at, in the case of Kapisa military contractors, but in the past it’s been aimed at U.S. and other NATO military organizations, occupation troops inside the country,” Rozoff said.

“This is now the 13th calendar year of that occupation. It marks the longest armed conflict, the longest war in the history of Afghanistan as well as the longest war in the history of the United States,” he added.

Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/stopnato/ messages

Stop NATO website and articles:
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com

Tension is high in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah following an ongoing standoff between Islamic militants from the nearby southern Philippines and Malaysian security forces. 235-armed militants landed in eastern Sabah in early February and occupied several villages in an effort to assert a centuries-old claim over the territory. Both sides accuse the other of firing the first shot, but once the stand-off produced Malaysian causalities,

Malaysian security forces deployed fighter jets and launched an unprecedented air assault on the militants with five battalions of solders deployed over the area in an operation to flush out the militant group, which they termed “Operation Sovereignty”. At least 52 militants have been killed, in addition to several Malaysian policemen who were reportedly mutilated by the insurgents; reports claim that militants sent an e-mail message to Malaysian authorities that included images of beheaded police officers. The insurgents identified themselves as the “Royal Sulu Army”, representing the now-defunct Sulu Sultanate that controlled the territory for centuries before leasing the land to the colonial British North Borneo Company in 1878.

The Manila-based Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, directed the insurgency, while his brother Agbimuddin Kiram led ground operations into Sabah. The Sultanate insists that Sabah is its homeland, and it will not budge on its claims over the territory even if its personnel are killed in the standoff. British colonialists leased the land from the Sultanate and eventually annexed Sabah in 1946 before turning over the disputed territory to the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. At the time, the Philippines contested the transfer, claiming that the British did not possess the authority to transfer ownership to Malaysia.

The British and the Malaysian authorities responded by asking the United Nations to conduct a referendum which came to the conclusion that two-thirds of the population of Sabah favoured joining Malaysia. The Malaysian government also began paying small annual payments to the heirs of the sultanate as compensation for their cession of the land, an arrangement that has continued to the present day.

Malaysia originally took a soft approach on the Filipinos militants by offering them the opportunity to lay down their arms and leave peacefully, leading many to criticize the government and security forces for allowing the militants to penetrate Malaysian territory. Local media referred to the gunmen as “intruders”, but soon after the gunmen engaged security personnel in a firefight, Malaysia began referring to the group as “terrorists”. Prime Minister Najib Razak authorized intense retaliatory strikes, calling for the total surrender of militants. Following the airstrikes, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III told Filipino media that he was unable to contact his brother, militant leader Agbimuddin Kiram, and that he was increasingly worried over the safety of his “royal army” in Sabah, prompting the Sultan to call for a ceasefire. Malaysian PM Najib reiterated that he would not consider any request unless the militants in Sabah turn over their arms to the Malaysian authorities and surrendered.

Filipino militant groups call for retaliation against Malaysia

 The Philippine government under President Benigno Aquino has sided with Malaysia and reiterated its call to followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to surrender to prevent further bloodshed.

Aquino has spoken of punishing the Sultan and his men for masterminding the armed rebellion in Sabah, prompting a domestic backlash that threatens fragile peace deals with separatist militant groups sympathetic to the Sultan’s cause. Fighters representing the Sulu Sultanate are ethnic Tausugs from the Philippines’ Sulu region, some of whom have aligned themselves with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which has been fighting for autonomy over the territories in the southern Philippines. Nur Misuari, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), warned the Aquino government of chaos if Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is arrested or his men apprehended.

Nur Misuari founded the MNLF in 1969 with the aim of forming an independent egalitarian nation in the Philippines’ easternmost regions of Mindanao, Palawan, and Sulu. The organization has at times preached religious tolerance, and is composed of Muslims, Christians, members of indigenous faiths. An MNLF offshoot – the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) – is known to have perpetrated brutal violence and murder. The ASG maintain links to Al-Qaeda networks, and reports issued by AFP claim that US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks implicate a Saudi Arabian ambassador to the Philippines of bolstering Filipino terrorist networks with cash through religious charities.

At a recent press conference, Misuari stated, “And for what reason is he (Aquino) aligning this country with Malaysia, a colonial power occupying the land of our people? I am against that, totally against that with all my soul. I hope the president will be properly advised. I hope he will recant. Otherwise we won’t forgive him. And there is an attempt even to arrest the sultan, I understand. Let them do that. The country will be in total chaos if they do, I promise you.” MNLF political chief officer Gapul Hajirul has warned of civil war in Sabah waged by Filipino Muslims who have long resided there. Nur Misuari warned Malaysian PM Najib that targeting Filipino Muslims in Sabah “would be tantamount to war”.

After Malaysia’s assault on the Sulu militants, Princess Celia Fatima Kiram warned that the Sultanate would wage a “long civil war” in Sabah. The MNLF has claimed that thousands of ethnic Tausug fighters were planning to enter Sabah using small pump boats, and that many had already successfully slipped through a naval blockade set up by the Philippines. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that MNLF member Habib Hashim Mudjahab claimed that at least 10,000 Tausug people from islands in the southern Philippines were headed to Sabah to act as reinforcements in support of the Royal Sulu Army. Filipinos in Sabah who are not part of the Royal Sulu forces have reportedly joined the fighting in reaction to what they perceive as atrocities committed by the Malaysian government. Former MNLF member Hadji Acmad Bayam told the Manila Bulletin that MNLF forces may have a significant weapons arsenal hidden within Sabah’s thick jungles left behind by MNLF commanders who have moved in and out of the region over the years.

 Allegations of political motives

 Malaysia will soon hold a pivotal general election that pits incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak against de-facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Najib voiced suspicion as to why the Sulu rebels chose to pursue their long-standing claim to Sabah when the country was preparing to hold a general election. Reuters cited sources within the Malaysian government who claimed that the gunmen were suspected to have links to factions that were unhappy with the Philippines’ recent peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another breakaway group from the MNLF which today is widely recognised as the mainstay of the Moro movement. Malaysia acted as the facilitator for that 2012 peace agreement. Kuala Lumpur has played a key role in facilitating peace talks between Manila and Mindanao since 2001, and the MNLF publicly opposed MILF’s Framework Agreement with Manila. Furthermore, Reuters cited an anonymous Filipino military officer who claimed that Sulu rebels were “invited to Sabah by a Malaysian opposition politician to discuss land issues”. Najib then ordered Malaysian intelligence officials to investigate claims that an opposition leader had a hand in the armed intrusion in Sabah. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim pressed charges against Malaysian broadcasters for running a story implicating his involvement in the insurgency, and vehemently denied his involvement.

Local analysts have criticized Ibrahim for accepting funds and training from US Government-linked foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), while pro-government mainstream media is routinely critical of Anwar’s links to foreign figures. Bloggers have also posted photographs of Anwar Ibrahim meeting with MNLF leader Nur Misuari, insinuating cooperation between the two in coordinating the Sulu insurgency. Tian Chua, one of the leaders of of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition headed by Ibrahim, accusing the ruling party of having orchestrated the gun battle with Filipino militants, claiming that the incursion was believed to be a “planned conspiracy of the [UMNO] government” to divert attention and intimidate the people in the run-up to elections, prompting unanimous denials from the ruling party. Filipino sources claim that the Sulu Sultanate’s incursion of Sabah is an attempt to undermine President Benigno Aquino in midterm elections scheduled in May. Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III ran as a senator allied to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during elections in 2007 and Filipino politicians allied to him are seen as pressuring Aquino to pardon his predecessor, who remains under house arrest for electoral fraud.

Sulu Sultan calls for US intervention

Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has told media in the Philippines that he wants the United Nations, the United States and the United Kingdom to intervene in his claim over Sabah. The Sultanate claims that the United States must intercede, as agreed upon in a 1915 agreement signed with then US colonial government in the Philippines that mandated the US provide “full protection” to the Sulu Sultan in exchange for exercising sovereignty over the kingdom as the colonial administration. As calls for intervention and accusations of plots abound, mudslinging is rampant between the ruling parties and oppositions of both Malaysia and the Philippines. The Sulu militants have put aside “responsible conduct” by attempting to legitimize their force by invoking historic claims to the land.

The resource-rich state of Sabah is abundant in oil and gas reserves, which contribute to 14% of Malaysia’s natural gas and 30% of its crude oil reserves. Sabah’s fifteen oil wells produce as many as 192,000 barrels a day. Four new oilfields have been found in Sabah’s territorial waters over the last two years, and perhaps one of the motivations for the Sultan’s push to reclaim the territory is profit-driven. Even so, the highly unusual timing of the Sulu operation being so close to Malaysia’s general elections will naturally be perceived as suspect – and in following that line of thought, it is unsurprising that many are asking questions about the Sultanates’ arms sources and funding. The Sulu Sultanate could have taken several alternative dialogue-based approaches with the nations involved to address this situation that would have yielded infinitely less destructive consequences for his followers and his cause. The insurgent approach taken by the militants undermines the Sultan’s claims entirely, and lends much credibility to alternative narratives that allude to the crisis being manufactured to bring about a conflict at a politically sensitive time. As figures of all political leanings ask themselves who stands to gain from this situation, there is not enough information available to make an accurate assessment.

Malaysia is not often faced with security crises, especially of the sort that this conflict could expand into if more Filipino militants take up arms. Malaysia’s upcoming general election is expected to be extremely close, and many fear that a wider crisis would delay polls. Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has spoken of foreign intervention as the only solution to the conflict, and wider war could likely be something he is trying to achieve. As many Filipinos categorize the actions taken by Malaysia as “atrocities”, a credible threat exists in the prospect of wider war if MNLF soldiers establish a foothold in Sabah, or potentially even by conducting retaliatory attacks in Peninsular Malaysia population centers like Kuala Lumpur. While Malaysia’s position must continue to be firm, security forces must exercise restraint in quelling the insurgency to prevent the indiscriminate loss of life if the militants refuse to abandon their mission and turn over their arms.

Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]

Britain’s Drone Secrets

March 10th, 2013 by Chris Cole

The lack of transparency surrounding the US use of drones has come under the spotlight over the past few weeks during the hearings to confirm John Brennan as head of the CIA.  US politicians, journalists and campaigners have rightly criticised the secrecy that surrounds the US use of drones and called for greater openness from the Obama administration and more engagement with the public on the issue.

However it is not just the US that is keeping it use of drones under wraps.  The UK’s use of armed drones is swathed in secrecy too and there is much that we are not allowed to know.  What we do know is that the UK launched 120 drone strikes in Afghanistan in 2012, bringing the total number of UK drone strikes to 363 since British forces began launching weapons from its Reaper drones in May 2008.  Beyond this basic figure however we know precious little.

UK_dronestrikes-08-12

We have been asking the MoD for more details about its use of armed drones since 2009 but to little avail.  Freedom of Information requests about drones are often refused on the grounds that to share such information with the public would “prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces” or “prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another State.”

This week we launched an appeal to the Information Tribunal challenging the refusal of the Information Commissioner to overturn the MoD’s refusal to provide details of the date and province within Afghanistan of each UK drone strikes (we still don’t know if UK drones operate throughout Afghanistan or just in Helmand province where British forces are located) as well as their refusal to tell us the number of weapons released from drones under daily tasking orders (i.e. pre-planned) and those released under dynamic targeting procedures (i.e. on the go). Details of the refusals can be found here and here.

The information we are seeking is extremely important.  We know that drones operate in a different way from how manned aircraft traditionally operate. loitering for example  over towns, villages and compounds looking for ‘targets of opportunity’.  Information about where and how weapons are being released by UK drones would be able to greatly inform the debate about whether drones are lowering the threshold when it comes to using lethal force.

Another key issue in the argument surrounding the use of drones is accuracy.  Military spokespeople repeatedly describe drone strikes as being ‘pin-point’ or ‘precise’. But questions about the whether such systems are really so accurate are also being refused.  This week  Tom Watson MP was again rebuffed when he asked in the House of Commons for details about the Hellfire missile fired from British reaper drones.  This followed a refusal in January to answer a similar question about the accuracy of weapons fired by drones.  The MoD has also refused in the past to confirm whether it is launching the thromobaric version of the Hellfire missile – which we know the UK has in its arsenal – from drones.

But perhaps the biggest secret surrounding the UK use of drones is the impact they are having on the ground.  In May 2012 it was revealed following a NATO investigation that four Afghan civilians had been killed in a UK drone strike. The MoD insist that these are the only Afghan civilians that have been killed in UK drone strikes although they also insist at the very same time that they cannot know how many people have been killed in drone strikes.  However the MoD have confirmed to me that they carry out a battle damage assessment after every single weapon release from Reaper drone and, of course, the video footage of the drone strike is recorded and available for review.

Reaper-2Across the border in Pakistan, according to figures compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been 364 drone strikes, (a remarkably similar number to the UK’s 363 strikes in Afghanistan although US strikes often involve multiple weapon launches).  According to BIJ between 2,500 and 3,500 have been killed in  the 364 US strikes  with between 400 and 800 being reliably identified as civilians  of whom between 150 – 200 being children.  Given this, information the MoD’s insistence that only four civilians have been killed in UK drone strikes is very hard to believe.

Over the past few years we have seen disastrous consequences when institutions claim the privilege of exemption from public scrutiny and accountability – MPs expenses and bankers manipulating the Libor rate being just two recent examples.  While it may be necessary to keep some information secret, it is simply not legitimate or appropriate for the MoD to  refuse to disclose virtually all information about the use of British Reaper drones over the past five years.  There is, at the very least, the sense that public discussion about drones is being manipulated and curtailed.

This week we have written to the Defence Select Committee urging that the remit for their forthcoming inquiry into the use of drones is as wide as possible.  With the use of armed drones only set to increase, we need a serious, public, and fully informed debate on all these issues and that must include greater information about the day-to-day use of armed Reaper drones by British forces.

Britain is on the brink of tyranny. The Justice and Security Bill, if it becomes law, will enable judicial trials to be held in secret, and it will even be illegal to tell anyone about them. The bill has now gone through all stages in the House of Commons, and will now go to the House of Lords for consideration. In other words, it’s nearly there (http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/justiceandsecurity.html).

The bill’s sponsor in the Commons is Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke, who is widely believed to be on the steering committee of the highly secretive Bilderberg meetings. In a foreward to a consultation document, he explains that the purpose of the bill is to enable the government to defend itself against civil claims, with claimants typically seeking significant amounts in damages, but where the facts of the case turn on highly sensitive information (http://consultation.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/justiceandsecurity/).

But it seems that’s just the gloss. Richard Cottrell, in his book ‘Gladio: NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe’ (http://progressivepress.com/book-listing/gladio-natos-dagger-heart-europe) wrote a lot about this bill. At the time it had been rejected, but he rightly predicted that it would return. He wrote to me: “The Justice and Security Bill has been around for some years, since 7/7 hardly by co-incidence. It proposes that secret courts will inquire into any matters concerning individuals or events that the authorities decide they want to keep secret. This will apply in the case of the as yet unheld inquests on those blamed for 7/7.

“It was also to apply to living accused persons who would be denied under this Orwellian draft the right to represent themselves or have their own lawyers represent them. Nor will they be allowed to know what they are accused of. In the Soviet Union this was perfectly normal. In the place of legal representation the state will appoint Special Advocates who will not be under any responsibility to represent the accused, or explain to that person of what he is accused, and nor will they be under any responsibility to offer a defence.

“The Bill was savaged by the Lords, but returned to the Commons with all the Lords’ amendments struck out. On the day of the vote on gay marriages it slipped through the vote in the select committee with the vote of one backwoods Ulsterman rushed in at the last minute. (The vote was held at the same [time] as members were in the lobbies voting on the gay marriage Bill). … This law when passed, as it will be, can then be applied to all and any offence, even as lowly as a traffic accident. Accused persons will never be told of what they are charged and of course it is very unlikely they would be found ‘not guilty.’”

The British press is now very quiet on this, though the Daily Mail published an article on 10 February headed ‘Last week MPs revived the corpse of the ‘Secret Justice’ Bill. Here we spell out the full terrifying implications of life in… Secret Britain’ (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2276327/Last-week-MPs-revived-corpse-Secret-Justice-Bill–debating-gay-marriage-time-noticed-Here-spell-terrifying-implications-life–Secret-Britain.html). Interestingly, their sister paper, The Mail on Sunday, is about to take legal action to make public a secret judgement issued in an Afghan alleged torture case two years ago, which resulted from an earlier form of secret hearing, now deemed illegal by the Supreme Court (http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/January-2013/Secret-evidence-challenge-by-Mail-on-Sunday). Also, political campaigner Chris Mullin gave a warning in The Guardian website on 28 January, headed ‘Justice and security bill: last chance to back away from secret justice’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/jan/28/justice-security-last-chance-secret-evidence).

And now Big Brother Watch has launched a campaign, asking people to write to their MP (http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2013/03/write-to-your-mp-about-the-justice-and-security-bill-today.html). Someone commented “What’s the point?”. OK, write to your local newspaper then.

Whistleblowers gagged – and there’s worse to come

Another piece of legislation which could make it difficult to expose possible government crimes is a proposed amendment to the  1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, as proposed by the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking. This would make it easier for the police to seize confidential material from journalists, and it would weaken protection for whistleblowers (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/13/whistleblowers-press-new-police-powers). A leading barrister warned of a potential breach of European human rights law, the article states. But now the Government intends to do away with European human rights law (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/04/theresa-may-human-rights-stunt). It looks as if the question of UK membership of the EU is being used as cover for this.

An editorial in The Guardian four days later drew attention to the general vulnerability of whistleblowers, as in the case of a former chief executive in the National Health Service, Gary Walker, who had been told that he would have to pay back any compensation payment arising from his dismissal if he spoke out (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/17/journalistic-sources-law-editorial). But the problem was bigger than that. ‘NHS spends £15million (the same as 750 nurses’ salaries) on gagging 600 whistleblowers’ announced the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2282600/NHS-spends-15million-750-nurses-salaries-gagging-600-whistleblowers.html), saying that this had cost the lives of 1 200 patients. The new legislation will make it even more difficult to blow the whistle, even when many lives are at stake.

“Democracy cannot work when secrecy exceeds its proper limits”, states the Guardian editorial, adding that hospitals, banks, corporations, meat producers and police forces alike must be open to scrutiny. I would add even humble membership associations to that list; that is something we can all do something about. Whenever we are met with indignation, having asked such basic questions as “Have these accounts been audited?”, “What is the basis of your proposal?”, or “How much money do we have?”, or in trying to raise perfectly legisimate issues, we need to stand up to such negative reactions. You’re standing up not just for your cause, but for your just cause of democracy.

Her Name is Rachel Corrie

March 10th, 2013 by Eileen Fleming

“My Name is Rachel Corrie” is based on the writings and journals of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old Evergreen State College student, who traveled to the Gaza Strip in 2003 and was run over and killed by a USA MADE Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer which was operated by Israeli Forces, on March 16th, which was just a few days before President Bush began the bombing of Baghdad.

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time of Corrie’s death, promised a “thorough, credible and transparent investigation” would be conducted.

An internal military inquiry cleared the two soldiers operating the bulldozer was even criticized by US officials.

Human Rights Watch noted it “fell far short of the transparency, impartiality and thoroughness required by international law”.

The army report said Rachel Corrie “was struck as she stood behind a mound of earth that was created by an engineering vehicle operating in the area and she was hidden from the view of the vehicle’s operator who continued with his work. Corrie was struck by dirt and a slab of concrete resulting in her death.”

Tom Dale, a British activist who was 10m away when Corrie was killed, wrote an account of the incident two days later. He described how she first knelt in the path of an approaching bulldozer and then stood as it reached her. She climbed on a mound of earth and the crowd nearby shouted at the bulldozer to stop. He said the bulldozer pushed her down and drove over her.

“They pushed Rachel, first beneath the scoop, then beneath the blade, then continued till her body was beneath the cockpit. They waited over her for a few seconds, before reversing. They reversed with the blade pressed down, so it scraped over her body a second time. Every second I believed they would stop but they never did.”

Rachel has been eulogized and demonized, celebrated and castigated. Her words and witness speak for themselves and what follows are but a few excerpts from her emails written while in the homes of strangers who became friends and family in Rafah.

In January 2003, upon leaving Olympia, Washington, Rachel wrote:

We are all born and someday we’ll all die…to some degree alone. What if our aloneness isn’t a tragedy?  What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure – to experience the world as a dynamic presence – as a changeable, interactive thing?

On February 7, 2003, Rachel wrote:

No amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality…Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown…When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting…at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I’m done…I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees – many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, ‘Go! Go!’ because a tank was coming. And then waving and [asking] ‘What’s your name?’

Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity.

It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously – occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving – many forced to be here, many just aggressive – shooting into the houses as we wander away…There is a great deal of concern here about the “reoccupation of Gaza”. Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start….

Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine—now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count—along the horizon, at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden, just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners.

Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo.

But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly there is no place invulnerable to Apache helicopters or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the city for hours at a time.

…According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah’s water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.

Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.

People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and “problems for the government” in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete Polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.

February 20, 2003:

Now the Israeli army has actually dug up the road to Gaza, and both of the major checkpoints are closed. This means that Palestinians who want to go and register for their next quarter at university can’t. People can’t get to their jobs and those who are trapped on the other side can’t get home; and internationals, who have a meeting tomorrow in the West Bank, won’t make it. We could probably make it through if we made serious use of our international white person privilege, but that would also mean some risk of arrest and deportation, even though none of us has done anything illegal.

The Gaza Strip is divided in thirds now. There is some talk about the “reoccupation of Gaza”, but I seriously doubt this will happen, because I think it would be a geopolitically stupid move for Israel right now. I think the more likely thing is an increase in smaller below-the-international-outcry-radar incursions and possibly the oft-hinted “population transfer”.

…A move to reoccupy Gaza would generate a much larger outcry than Sharon’s assassination-during-peace-negotiations/land grab strategy, which is working very well now to create settlements all over, slowly but surely eliminating any meaningful possibility for Palestinian self-determination. Know that I have a lot of very nice Palestinians looking after me…

February 27, 2003:

…I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house…Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby – one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.

This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses – the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses – right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again. I was terrified to think that this man felt it was less of a risk to walk out in view of the tanks with his kids than to stay in his house. I was really scared that they were all going to be shot and I tried to stand between them and the tank. This happens every day, but just this father walking out with his two little kids just looking very sad, just happened to get my attention more at this particular moment, probably because I felt it was our translation problems that made him leave.

I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed – the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). The count of homes destroyed in Rafah since the beginning of this intifada is up around 600, by and large people with no connection to the resistance but who happen to live along the border……about non-violent resistance.

When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family’s house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I’m having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the willful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it.

It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be…you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above – and a lot of other things – constitutes a somewhat gradual – often hidden, but nevertheless massive – removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context.

The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon’s possible goals), can’t leave…they can’t even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won’t let them in (both our country and Arab countries).
…when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can’t get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide. Even if they could get out, I think it would still qualify as genocide. Maybe you could look up the definition of genocide according to international law…

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

February 28, 2003:

…I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will…

I think I could see a Palestinian state or a democratic Israeli-Palestinian state within my lifetime. I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world. I think it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the US supports.

I look forward to increasing numbers of middle-class privileged people like you and me becoming aware of the structures that support our privilege and beginning to support the work of those who aren’t privileged to dismantle those structures.

I look forward to more moments like February 15 when civil society wakes up en masse and issues massive and resonant evidence of it’s conscience, it’s unwillingness to be repressed, and it’s compassion for the suffering of others.

I look forward to more teachers emerging like Matt Grant and Barbara Weaver and Dale Knuth who teach critical thinking to kids in the United States.

I look forward to the international resistance that’s occurring now fertilizing analysis on all kinds of issues, with dialogue between diverse groups of people.

I look forward to all of us who are new at this developing better skills for working in democratic structures and healing our own racism and classism and sexism and heterosexism and ageism and ableism and becoming more effective.

In fifth grade, at the age of ten, Rachel Corrie wrote her heart out and stated it at a Press Conference on World Hunger in 1990:

I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.

1. http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/site/about-rachel-corrie/rachels-emails-from-palestine/

In Canada where early March brings no good news, Prime Minister Harper has used the Venezuelan leader’s death for ideological propaganda favouring his own brand of economics. At Venezuela’s first shock into mourning the Prime Minister responded – “At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

The Ottawa Citizen headlined an article by Terry Glavin, “Hugo Chavez: Venezuela’s incompetent fake socialist.” The Canadian Broadcasting Company‘s initial reporting took pains to present the opposition’s challenges to the succession of interim President Nicolás Maduro, and Human Rights Watch objections to the Chávez human rights record.

As the West’s media opened a one-note program sustaining the importance of corporate profit and inefficiency of any socialism which includes people, faces of newscasters morph into the perfection of Venezuela’s elite with perfect teeth and coiffes, the select malls of designer dresses, falsely clean banks, the privilege of not understanding, the outrage at challenges to previous advantage.

It’s impossible to respect the casual contempt of the Canadian Prime Minister’s response to the death of a world leader who both took care of the poor and by embracing his own multi-racial ancestry challenged the psychological trap of colonialism’s caste system and its stigmatization of  ’mixed’ blood.

The effects of Hugo Chávez the teacher are in motion beyond Venezuela. It is  Chávez before the U.N. General Assembly who compares George W. Bush to the Devil whose sulphurous fumes still linger in the room. Who forges a military tie with the radical left and unions, which eventually bring him to power. Who raises millions of Venezuelans out of poverty and supplies heating oil to the poor of  New England and the South Bronx.

Who brings Simon Bolívar back to the Americas. Who earns the love of the world’s poor by championing them at home. Who is at ease with himself. Who likes the colour red. Who acts out liberation theology before a retrograde  Church. Who understands the need for South American and African leaders to ally. Who sings to his people. Who builds a socialist government of aware workers understanding from the start their enemy. Chávez, who conveys to people everywhere, it’s all right just to be people.

By March 8th two million Venezuelans filed by their President’s casket, some saluting, others with genuflection, some in physical silence, some in tears. Among others, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kissed the coffin.

Among mourners who went to pay their respects in Venezuela were the head of State of Brazil and its former president, of Cuba, Argentina,  Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru, Bolivia, Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Suriname, Aruba, Curacao, Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, the Foreign Minister of Russia, Spain’s Prince Felipe de Borbon, but officially to represent Canada – a Parliamentary  secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bob Dechert.

India sent its Minister of corporate Affairs. The U.S. sent a Congressman and former Congressman. China sent the chief of its National Development and Reform Commission. Of African countries which generally praised and mourned Chávez, despite the global media accounts stating the attendance of African heads of State, none seem to have appeared at the funeral, suggesting a fear of NATO’s ugly stick.  Unofficially, Jean Chretien of Canada was there. The American, Jesse Jackson, shared a prayer. After the funeral Nicolás Maduro was installed as interim President, until the elections, currently called for April 14th.

The opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, refused to attend the interim swearing-in ceremony, calling it a fraud and furthering the tactic of questioning the succession’s legitimacy. Capriles is widely quoted as saying “Nicolás, no one elected you president. The people didn’t vote for you, boy.” Yet Chávez chose as his successor, his Vice President Nicolás Maduro. The Venezuelan Constitution’s order of Presidential succession notes the Speaker of the National Assembly as successor, but when a President can’t be sworn in. Maduro could be and was, with approval of the Speaker of the Assembly who administered the oath of office, as well as of Venezuela’s Supreme Court.

While the opposition, representing the elites, continues to object to the swearing-in of Maduro as interim President, claiming a Constitutional violation, as extensively covered in the media, one is reminded of the 2009 Honduran coup d’état. The Honduran elite (with heavy U.S. support and investment for its military electronics command in Honduras) removed democratically elected President Zelaya on the pretext that the President betrayed his Constitution.

The pattern of a U.S. backed military kidnapping and removal was previously established with the removal of Haiti’s democratically elected President Aristide. Essentially the same pattern of removal was attempted in the 2004 coup against Chávez which failed. Venezuelans, have worked through questions about Presidential succession quite thoroughly: awaiting Chávez’s return to the Presidential Palace after the coup, the Speaker of the National Assembly assumed unofficial authority until the Vice-President was sworn in as temporary President. So the most likely reason for the opposition candidate to confuse the order of succession, is to appeal outside the Venezuelan process, to gain a victory he has no chance of winning by popular vote.

The overthrows of democracy which Americans take casually sadden everyone but corporate financiers. As a people the U.S. still hasn’t recovered from the assassinations of the Kennedys. It is possibly, a practice to murder the people’s leaders: Arbenz, Lumumba, the Kennedys, King, Malcolm X, René Schneider, Allende, etc.. There was no reciprocation. The leaders who betrayed their people into illegal wars survived untouched. As International Monetary Fund austerity programs disenfranchise the people of democracies, national leaders feed their populations into economic gas chambers of a false necessity. In healthy societies oppressive leaders would be removed by their people’s consensus, so the health of our societies is removed.

Interim President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro has assured a scientific enquiry into the causes of Chávez’s death. In January Maduro reported an assassination attempt against himself and another Chávez ally. In 2009 Frederic Laurent Bouquet , admitted he was a French secret service agent, trained in Israel, and engaged in an attempt to assassinate Chávez. Arrested in Venezuela with three citizens of the Dominican Republic, plastique  explosives, and a small arsenal of guns, Bouquet was sentenced to 4 years in prison and in 2012 deported back to France.

There are reasonable allegations that in 2004 Venezuela’s State Prosecutor was killed by a right wing Colombian death squad with F.B.I. and C.I.A. assistance. CIA past involvement in the deaths and attempted assassinations of leaders serving the people of their nations is a matter of historical record. With 21rst Century electromagnetic, laser, radar and microwave weapons, biological and chemical technology, historically familiar methods of assassination seem intended for psychological effect or distraction. Current U.S. policy openly subverts the laws of war claiming the legality of assassinating foreign leaders, suspected terrorists, as well as Americans. The assassination of Yassar Arafat, ordered by the Israeli Cabinet was approved by the U.S. government.  When exhumed the Palestinian leader’s body revealed abnormally large amounts of radioactive material.

Chávez loved Venezuela’s poor. He loved the people of America and Canada, where the increasing numbers of poor find their lives are of no value to political leaders. Chávez provides hope for broken societies to heal. That’s part of what it means when you hear Chavez vive, la lucha sigue!

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 416

Edited by Carlos Osorio

Former military officers from Argentina and Uruguay went on trial this week in Buenos Aires for their human rights abuses in Operation Condor, a cross-border conspiracy of dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s to “eradicate ‘subversion,’ a word which increasingly translates into non-violent dissent from the left and center left,” according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive ( www.nsarchive.org).

Today’s posting of documents and evidence provided by the Archive to Argentine prosecutors includes the first briefing report, from August 1976, to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the secret police collaboration in the Southern Cone to “find and kill” opponents of their military regimes.

“The documents are very useful in establishing a comprehensive analytical framework of what Operation Condor was,” said Pablo Enrique Ouvina, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Founded by the Pinochet regime in November 1975, Operation Condor was the codename for a formal Southern Cone collaboration that included transnational secret intelligence activities, kidnapping, torture, disappearance and assassination, according to the National Security Archive’s documentary evidence from U.S., Paraguayan, Argentine, and Chilean files.

Prominent victims of Condor include two former Uruguayan legislators and a former Bolivian president, Juan Torres, murdered in Buenos Aires, as well as former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his 26-year old American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Washington D.C.

The historic trial charges 25 high-ranking military officials, including former Argentine presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, with conspiracy to “kidnap, disappear, torture and kill” 171 opponents of the military dictatorships that dominated the Southern Cone in the 1970s and 1980s. Among the victims are approximately 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentines, 20 Chileans and a dozen from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador who were targeted by Condor operatives. The kidnapping and disappearance of two Cuban Consulate officials in Buenos Aires on August 9, 1976, is also part of the prosecution.

“Condor was a latter day rendition, torture and assassination program,” noted Carlos Osorio, who directs the Archive’s Southern Cone Documentation project. “Holding these officials accountable for the multinational crimes of Condor,” he said, “cannot help but set a precedent for more recent abuses of a similar nature.”

Besides Generals Videla and Bignone, those indicted included 22 Argentine military intelligence officers and agents. In preparation for the trial, prosecutors sought the extradition of several foreign high ranking officers from Chile and Paraguay among other Condor countries. The only foreigner sitting at the courtroom, however, is Uruguayan Army Major Manuel Cordero, charged with participating in death squads and torture at the infamous Orletti Motors secret detention center in Buenos Aires. He was extradited by Brazil where he was living.

Of the 171 Condor victims cited in the indictments, approximately forty-two survived and a number of them are expected to testify in court. One hundred twenty others were killed and/or disappeared.

 


THE DOCUMENTS

Document l: Department of State, Report to Kissinger, SECRET, “The Third World War and South America,” August 3, 1976.

This report, based on CIA intelligence, was written by Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Harry Shlaudeman and presented to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in August 1976. The document summarizes the coordination of Southern Cone security forces:

“[T]hey are joining forces to eradicate ‘subversion,’ a word which increasingly translates into non-violent dissent from the left and center left. The security forces of the Southern Cone now coordinate intelligence activities closely; operate in the territory of one another’s countries in pursuit of ‘subversives’; have established Operation Condor to find and kill terrorists…in their own countries and in Europe. Brazil is cooperating short of murder operations.”

Document 2: Defense Intelligence Agency, [Report on Operation Condor] “Special Operations Forces,” SECRET, October 1, 1976.

This comprehensive intelligence report, based on information gathered by the FBI legal attaché in Buenos Aires, provides details on the collaboration between Argentina, Uruguay, and other Southern Cone military dictatorships. The document provided critical information to prosecutors on a joint operation with Uruguayan intelligence agents in late September 1976, in which dozens of Uruguayan members of the militant leftist movement OPR-33 were rounded up, detained, tortured, and a number killed in Buenos Aires. “The entire OPR-33 infrastructure in Argentina has been eliminated,” the document states. The kidnapped Uruguayans are among the over one hundred disappeared victims included in the Operation Condor trial. The document goes on to describe the “formation of special teams” to “carry out operations to include assassinations” in countries as far away as Portugal and France. The report cited a “favorite remark” of Southern Cone military officers as saying that “one of their colleagues is out of country because he is flying like a condor.”

Document 3: CIA, SECRET, A Brief Look at Operation Condor, August 22, 1978.

In the aftermath of the Letelier-Moffitt assassination, the CIA prepared this short briefing paper for Eugene Propper, the Justice Department’s lead prosecutor in the case. “Operation Condor is a cooperation effort by the intelligence/security services of several South American countries to combat terrorism and subversion. The original members included services from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia; Peru and Ecuador recently became members.”

Document 4: Department of State, SECRET, “Conversation with Argentine Intelligence Source,” April 7, 1980.

In this revealing memorandum to Ambassador Castro, James J. Blystone, the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, details his April 2 meeting with an Argentine intelligence source. The anonymous Argentine source describes how Horacio Campiglia and Susana Binstock, two militant Montoneros, were captured by Argentine officers of Battalion 601 (in coordination with Brazilian intelligence), taken to Argentina and held at the Campo de Mayo Army base. Campiglia and Binstock who were never seen again, are amongst the more than a hundred victims included in the Operation Condor trial.

Alleged CIA Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders

March 9th, 2013 by Global Research News

The Church Committee investigated CIA plots to assassinate foreign leaders. This Interim Report, published in 1975, discusses alleged plots to kill:

• Patrice Lumumba (Congo)
• Fidel Castro (Cuba)
• Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic)
• Ngo Dinh Diem (Vietnam)
• Rene Schneider (Chile)

The Committee also examined the CIA’s development of a general “executive action” capability. The Committee found that the U.S. initiated plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba.

In the other cases, either U.S. involvement was indirect or evidence was too inconclusive to issue a finding.

In Lumumba’s case, the Committee asserted that the U.S. was not involved in his death, despite earlier plotting. The Committee was unable to state with certainty whether any plots were authorized by U.S. Presidents.

Original Church Committee Interim Report:

US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders,  Washington 1975 (pdf) (351 pages)

US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (link to Church Committee page, US Senate)

Church Committee Interim Report  Table of Contents and supporting documents

O presidente Hugo Chávez, que faleceu no dia 5 de março de 2013, vítima de câncer, aos 58 anos, marcou para sempre a história da Venezuela e da América Latina.

1. Jamais, na história da América Latina, um líder político alcançou uma legitimidade democrática tão incontestável. Desde sua chegada ao poder em 1999, houve 16 eleições na Venezuela. Hugo Chávez ganhou 15, entre as quais a última, no dia 7 de outubro de 2012. Sempre derrotou seus rivais com uma diferença de 10 a 20 pontos percentuais.

2. Todas as instâncias internacionais, desde a União Europeia até a Organização dos Estados Americanos, passando pela União de Nações Sul-Americanas e pelo Centro Carter, mostraram-se unânimes ao reconhecer a transparência das eleições.

3. Jimmy Carter, ex-presidente dos Estados Unidos, inclusive declarou que o sistema eleitoral da Venezuela era “o melhor do mundo”.

Milhares de venezuelanos se concentram nas ruas de Caracas para acompanhar cortejo fúnebre de Hugo Chávez

4. A universalização do acesso à educação, implementada em 1998, teve resultados excepcionais. Cerca de 1,5 milhão de venezuelanos aprenderam a ler e a escrever graças à campanha de alfabetização denominada Missão Robinson I.

5. Em dezembro de 2005, a Unesco decretou que o analfabetismo na Venezuela havia sido erradicado.

6. O número de crianças na escola passou de 6 milhões em 1998 para 13 milhões em 2011, e a taxa de escolarização agora é de 93,2%.

7. A Missão Robinson II foi lançada para levar a população a alcançar o nível secundário. Assim, a taxa de escolarização no ensino secundário passou de 53,6% em 2000 para 73,3% em 2011.

8. As Missões Ribas e Sucre permitiram que dezenas de milhares de jovens adultos chegassem ao Ensino Superior. Assim, o número de estudantes passou de 895.000 em 2000 para 2,3 milhões em 2011, com a criação de novas universidades.

9. Em relação à saúde, foi criado o Sistema Nacional Público para garantir o acesso gratuito à atenção médica para todos os venezuelanos. Entre 2005 e 2012, foram criados 7.873 centros médicos na Venezuela.

10. O número de médicos passou de 20 por 100 mil habitantes, em 1999, para 80 em 2010, ou seja, um aumento de 400%.

11. A Missão Bairro Adentro I permitiu a realização de 534 milhões de consultas médicas. Cerca de 17 milhões de pessoas puderam ser atendidas, enquanto que, em 1998, menos de 3 milhões de pessoas tinham acesso regular à saúde. Foram salvas 1,7 milhão de vidas entre 2003 e 2011.

12. A taxa de mortalidade infantil passou de 19,1 a cada mil, em 1999, para 10 a cada mil em 2012, ou seja, uma redução de 49%.

13. A expectativa de vida passou de 72,2 anos em 1999 para 74,3 anos em 2011.

Agência Efe

14. Graças à Operação Milagre, lançada em 2004, 1,5 milhão de venezuelanos vítimas de catarata ou outras enfermidades oculares recuperaram a visão.

15.  De 1999 a 2011, a taxa de pobreza passou de 42,8% para 26,5%, e a taxa de extrema pobreza passou de 16,6% em 1999 para 7% em 2011.

16. Na classificação do IDH (Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano) do PNUD (Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento), a Venezuela passou do posto 83 no ano 2000 (0,656) ao 73° lugar em 2011 (0,735), e entrou na categoria das nações com o IDH elevado.

17. O coeficiente Gini, que permite calcular a desigualdade em um país, passou de 0,46 em 1999 para 0,39 em 2011.

18. Segundo o PNUD, a Venezuela ostenta o coeficiente Gini mais baixo da América Latina, e é o país da região onde há menos desigualdade.

19. A taxa de desnutrição infantil reduziu 40% desde 1999.

20. Em 1999, 82% da população tinha acesso a água potável. Agora, são 95%.

21. Durante a presidência de Chávez, os gastos sociais aumentaram 60,6%.

22. Antes de 1999, apenas 387 mil idosos recebiam aposentadoria. Agora são 2,1 milhões.

23. Desde 1999, foram construídas 700 mil moradias na Venezuela.

24. Desde 1999, o governo entregou mais de um milhão de hectares de terras aos povos originários do país.

25. A reforma agrária permitiu que dezenas de milhares de agricultores fossem donos de suas terras. No total, foram distribuídos mais de 3 milhões de hectares.

26. Em 1999, a Venezuela produzia 51% dos alimentos que consumia. Em 2012, a produção é de 71%, enquanto que o consumo de alimentos aumentou 81% desde 1999. Se o consumo em 2012 fosse semelhante ao de 1999, a Venezuela produziria 140% dos alimentos consumidos em nível nacional.

27. Desde 1999, a taxa de calorias consumidas pelos venezuelanos aumentou 50%, graças à Missão Alimentação, que criou uma cadeia de distribuição de 22.000 mercados de alimentos (MERCAL, Casa da Alimentação, Rede PDVAL), onde os produtos são subsidiados, em média, 30%. O consumo de carne aumentou 75% desde 1999.

28. Cinco milhões de crianças agora recebem alimentação gratuita por meio do Programa de Alimentação Escolar. Em 1999, eram 250 mil.

29. A taxa de desnutrição passou de 21% em 1998 para menos de 3% em 2012.

30. Segundo a FAO, a Venezuela é o país da América Latina e do Caribe mais avançado na erradicação da fome.

31. A nacionalização da empresa de petróleo PDVSA, em 2003, permitiu que a Venezuela recuperasse sua soberania energética.

32. A nacionalização dos setores elétricos e de telecomunicação (CANTV e Eletricidade de Caracas) permitiu pôr fim a situações de monopólio e universalizar o acesso a esses serviços.

33. Desde 1999, foram criadas mais de 50.000 cooperativas em todos os setores da economia.

34. A taxa de desemprego passou de 15,2% em 1998 para 6,4% em 2012, com a criação de mais de 4 milhões de postos de trabalho.

35. O salário mínimo passou de 100 bolívares (16 dólares) em 1998 para 2.047,52 bolívares (330 dólares) em 2012, ou seja, um aumento de mais de 2.000%. Trata-se do salário mínimo mais elevado da América Latina.

36. Em 1999, 65% da população economicamente ativa recebia um salário mínimo. Em 2012, apenas 21,1% dos trabalhadores têm este nível salarial.

37. Os adultos com certa idade que nunca trabalharam dispõem de uma renda de proteção equivalente a 60% do salário mínimo.

38. As mulheres desprotegidas, assim como as pessoas incapazes, recebem uma ajuda equivalente a 70% do salário mínimo.

39. A jornada de trabalho foi reduzida a 6 horas diárias e a 36 horas semanais sem diminuição do salário.

40. A dívida pública passou de 45% do PIB em 1998 a 20% em 2011. A Venezuela se retirou do Fundo Monetário Internacional e do Banco Mundial, pagando antecipadamente todas as suas dívidas.

41. Em 2012, a taxa de crescimento da Venezuela foi de 5,5%, uma das mais elevadas do mundo.

42. O PIB por habitante passou de 4.100 dólares em 1999 para 10.810 dólares em 2011.

43. Segundo o relatório anual World Happiness de 2012, a Venezuela é o segundo país mais feliz da América Latina, atrás da Costa Rica, e o 19° em nível mundial, à frente da Espanha e da Alemanha.

44. A Venezuela oferece um apoio direto ao continente americano mais alto que os Estados Unidos. Em 2007, Chávez ofereceu mais de 8,8 bilhões de dólares em doações, financiamentos e ajuda energética, contra apenas 3 bilhões da administração Bush.

45. Pela primeira vez em sua história, a Venezuela dispõe de seus próprios satélites (Bolívar e Miranda) e é agora soberana no campo da tecnologia espacial. Há internet e telecomunicações em todo o território.

46. A criação da Petrocaribe, em 2005, permitiu que 18 países da América Latina e do Caribe, ou seja, 90 milhões de pessoas, adquirissem petróleo subsidiado em cerca de 40% a 60%, assegurando seu abastecimento energético.

47. A Venezuela também oferece ajuda às comunidades desfavorecidas dos Estados Unidos, proporcionando-lhes combustíveis com tarifas subsidiadas.

48. A criação da Alba (Aliança Bolivariana para os Povos de Nossa América), em 2004, entre Cuba e Venezuela, assentou as bases de uma aliança integradora baseada na cooperação e na reciprocidade, agrupando oito países membros, e que coloca o ser humano no centro do projeto de sociedade, com o objetivo de lutar contra a pobreza e a exclusão social.

49. Hugo Chávez está na origem da criação, em 2011, da Celac (Comunidade de Estados Latino-Americanos e Caribenhos), agrupando, pela primeira vez, as 33 nações da região, que assim se emancipam da tutela dos Estados Unidos e do Canadá.

50. Hugo Chávez desempenhou um papel chave no processo de paz na Colômbia. Segundo o presidente Juan Manuel Santos, “se avançamos em um projeto sólido de paz, com progressos claros e concretos, progressos jamais alcançados antes com as FARC, é também graças à dedicação e ao compromisso de Chávez e do governo da Venezuela”.

Salim Lamrani

 

Israel: A De Facto Member of NATO

March 9th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen received Israel’s president Shimon Peres at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 7.

The order of the day: to enhance military cooperation between Israel and the Atlantic Alliance focusing on issues of counter-terrorism.

“Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan. “

Israel is already involved in covert operations and non-conventional warfare in liaison with the US and NATO.

This agreement is of particular significance because it deepens the Israel-NATO relationship beyond the so-called “Mediterranean Dialogue”.

The joint statement points to an Israel NATO partnership “in the fight against terror and the search for peace… in the Middle East and the world”.

What this suggests is the participation of Israel in active theater warfare alongside NATO –i.e. as a de facto member of the Atlantic Alliance.

In other words, Israel would be directly involved were US-NATO to launch an outright military operation against Syria, Lebanon or Iran.

Israel offered to assist NATO in counter-terrorism operations directed against Hezbollah and Iran.

“The two agreed during their discussions that Israel and NATO are partners in the fight against terror…the statement said.

President Peres stressed the need to maintain and increase the cooperation between Israel and NATO and Israel’s ability to cooperation and provide technological assistance and knowledge from the vast experience Israel had gained in the field of counter-terrorism.

“Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan, ” Peres told Rasmussen.

History of Israel-NATO Military Cooperation

It is worth noting that in November 2004 in Brussels, NATO and Israel signed an important bilateral protocol which paved the way for the holding of joint NATO-Israel  military exercises. A followup agreement was signed in March 2005 in Jerusalem between NATO’s Secretary General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The 2005 bilateral military cooperation agreement was viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.”

The ongoing premise underlying NATO-Israel military cooperation is that “Israel is under attack”.

There is evidence of active military and intelligence coordination between NATO and Israel including consultations pertaining to the occupied territories.

“Before Operation Cast Lead was launched in Gaza, NATO was already exchanging intelligence with Israel, sharing security expertise, and organising military drills. …. Former NATO chief Scheffer visited Israel in the midst of Israel’s offensive on Gaza. And NATO officials were at the time of the opinion that cooperation with Israel was essential for their organisation. (Al Ahram, February 10, 2010)

The March 2013 Israel-NATO Brussels bilateral agreement is the culmination of more than ten years of Israel-NATO cooperation.

Does this agreement “obligate” NATO “to come to the rescue of Israel” under the doctrine of “collective security”?

The agreement tightens the ongoing process of US-NATO-Israel military planning and logistics relating to any future operation in the Middle East including an aerial bombing of Iran’s nuclear plants.

The Israeli presidential delegation consisted of several top military and government advisers, including Brigadier General Hasson Hasson, Military Secretary to President Peres (See image below: first from left) and Nadav Tamir, policy adviser to the president of Israel (first right of president Peres).

The text of the Israel NATO agreement following discussions behind closed doors (see image below) was not made public.

(Click image to enlarge)

Following the meeting, a joint statement was released by NATO. Secretary-General Rasmussen stated in the press report:

“Israel is an important partner of the Alliance in the Mediterranean Dialogue. The security of NATO is linked to the security and stability of the Mediterranean and of the Middle East region. And our Alliance attaches great value to our political dialogue and our practical cooperation. Israel is one of our longest-standing partner countries. We are faced with the same strategic challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean.

And as we face the security threats of the 21st century, we have every reason to deepen our long-standing partnership with our Mediterranean Dialogue countries, including Israel. We all know the regional situation is complex. But the Mediterranean Dialogue remains a unique multilateral forum, where Israel and six Arab countries can discuss together with European and North American countries common security challenges. I see further opportunities for deepening our already close political dialogue and practical cooperation to our mutual benefit.”

Author’s Note:

The following article was published two years ago on March 9, 2011, at the outset of the US-NATO intervention in Libya.  Libya’s oil reserves are twice those of the United States.

In retrospect. the 2011 US-NATO led war on Libya was a multi-trillion dollar trophy for the United States. It was also, as outlined in the article a means to establishing US hegemony in North Africa, a region historically dominated by France and to lesser extent by Italy and Spain.

The US-NATO intervention was also intent upon excluding China from the region and edging out China’s National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), which was a major player in Libya.

Libya is the gateway to the Sahel and Central Africa. More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa at the expense of France’s historical spheres of influence, namely a process of neo-colonial redivision.

Michel Chossudovsky, March 9, 2013


The geopolitical and economic implications of a US-NATO led military intervention directed against Libya are far-reaching.

Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US.

“Operation Libya” is part of  the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which consists in gaining control and corporate ownership over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas, including oil and gas pipeline routes.

“Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The “Demonization” of Muslims and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, January 4, 2007) .

With 46.5 billion barrels of proven reserves, (10 times those of Egypt), Libya is the largest oil economy in the African continent followed by Nigeria and Algeria (Oil and Gas Journal). In contrast, US proven oil reserves are of the order of 20.6 billion barrels (December 2008) according to the Energy Information Administration.  U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves)


2011 Top African reserve holders<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The most recent estimates place Libya’s oil reserves at 60 billion barrels. Its gas reserves at 1,500 billion m3. Its production has been between 1.3 and 1.7 million barrels a day, well below its productive capacity. Its longer term objective is three million b/d and a gas production of 2,600 million cubic feet a day, according to figures of the National Oil Corporation (NOC).

The (alternative) BP Statistical Energy Survey (2008) places Libya’s proven oil reserves at 41.464 billion barrels at the end of 2007 which represents 3.34 % of the world’s proven reserves. (Mbendi  Oil and Gas in Libya – Overview).


Oil is the “Trophy” of US-NATO led Wars

An invasion of Libya under a humanitarian mandate would serve the same corporate interests as the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The underlying objective is to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands.

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) is ranked 25 among the world’s Top 100 Oil Companies. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies. – Libyaonline.com)

The planned invasion of Libya, which is already underway is part of the broader “Battle for Oil”.  Close to 80 percent of Libya’s oil reserves are located in the Sirte Gulf basin of Eastern Libya. (See map below)

Libya is a Prize Economy. “War is good for business”. Oil is the trophy of US-NATO led wars.

Wall Street, the Anglo-American oil giants, the US-EU weapons producers would be the unspoken beneficiaries of a US-NATO led military campaign directed against Libya.

Libyan oil is a bonanza for the Anglo-American oil giants. While the market value of crude oil is currently well in excess of 100 dollars a barrel, the cost of Libyan oil is extremely low, as low as $1.00 a barrel (according to one estimate). As one oil market expert commented somewhat cryptically:

“At $110 on the world market, the simple math gives Libya a $109 profit margin.” (Libya Oil, Libya Oil One Country’s $109 Profit on $110 Oil, EnergyandCapital.com March 12, 2008)

Foreign Oil Interests in Libya

Foreign oil companies operating prior to the insurrection in Libya include France’s Total, Italy’s ENI, The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), British Petroleum, the Spanish Oil consortium REPSOL, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Hess, Conoco Phillips.

Of significance, China plays a central role in the Libyan oil industry. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had a workforce of some 400 employees. The total Chinese workforce in Libya was of the order of 30,000.

Eleven percent (11%) of Libyan oil exports are channelled to China. While there are no figures on the size and importance of CNPC’s production and exploration activities, there are indications that they are sizeable.

More generally, China’s presence in North Africa is considered by Washington to constitute an intrusion. From a geopolitical standpoint, China is an encroachment. The military campaign directed against Libya is intent upon excluding China from North Africa.

Also of importance is the role of Italy. ENI, the Italian oil consortium puts out 244,000 barrels of gas and oil, which represents almost 25 percent of Libya’s total exports. ( Sky News: Foreign oil firms halt Libyan operations, February 23, 2011).

Among US companies in Libya, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) decided barely 6 months ago (October 2010) not to renew their oil and gas exploration licenses in Libya. (Why are Chevron and Oxy leaving Libya?: Voice of Russia, October 6, 2010). In contrast, in November 2010, Germany’s oil company, R.W. DIA E signed a far-reaching agreement with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) involving exploration and production sharing. AfricaNews – Libya: German oil firm signs prospecting deal – The AfricaNews, 

The financial stakes as well  as “the spoils of war” are extremely high. The military operation is intent upon dismantling Libya’s financial institutions as well as confiscating billions of dollars of Libyan financial assets deposited in Western banks.

It should be emphasised that Libya’s military capabilities, including its air defense system are weak.

Libya Oil Concessions

Redrawing the Map of Africa

Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa. The objective of US-NATO interference is strategic: it consists in outright theft, in stealing the nation’s oil wealth under the disguise of a humanitarian intervention.

This military operation is intent upon establishing US hegemony in North Africa, a region historically dominated by France and to lesser extent by Italy and Spain.

With regard to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, Washington’s design is to weaken the political links of these countries to France and push for the installation of new political regimes which have a close rapport with the US. This weakening of France is part of a US imperial design. It is a historical process which goes back to the wars in Indochina.

US-NATO intervention leading to the eventual formation of a US puppet regime is also intent upon excluding China from the region and edging out China’s National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). The Anglo-American oil giants including British Petroleum which signed an exploration contract in 2007 with the Ghadaffi government are among the potential “beneficiaries” of  the proposed US-NATO military operation.

More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa, a process of neo-colonial redivision, the scrapping of the demarcations of the 1884 Berlin Conference, the conquest of Africa by the United States in alliance with Britain, in a US-NATO led operation.

The colonial redivision of Africa. 1913

Libya: Strategic Saharan Gateway to Central Africa

Libya has borders with several countries which are within France’s sphere of influence, including Algeria, Tunisia, Niger and Chad.

Chad is potentially an oil rich economy. ExxonMobil and Chevron have interests in Southern Chad including a pipeline project. Southern Chad is a gateway into the Darfur region of Sudan, which is also strategic in view of its oil wealth.

China has oil interests in both Chad and Sudan. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a farreaching agreement with the Chad government in 2007.

Niger is strategic to the United States in view of its extensive reserves of uranium. At present, France dominates the uranium industry in Niger through the French nuclear conglomerate Areva, formerly known as Cogema. China also has a stake in Niger’s uranium industry.

More generally, the Southern border of Libya is strategic for the United States in its quest to extend its sphere of influence in Francophone Africa, a vast territory extending from North Africa to Central and Western Africa. Historically this region was part of France and Belgium’s colonial empires, the borders of which were established  at the Berlin Conference of 1884.

Image Source www.hobotraveler.com

The US played a passive role at the 1884 Berlin Conference. This new 21st Century redivision of the African continent, predicated on the control over oil, natural gas and strategic minerals (cobalt, uranium, chromium, manganese, platinum and uranium) largely supports dominant Anglo-American corporate interests.

US interference in North Africa redefines the geopolitics of an entire region. It undermines China and overshadows the influence of the European Union.

This new redivision of Africa not only weakens the role of the former colonial powers (including France and Italy) in North Africa. it  is also part of a broader process of displacing and weakening France (and Belgium) over a large part of the African continent.

US puppet regimes have been installed in several African countries which historically were in the sphere of influence of France (and Belgium), including The Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.  Several countries in West Africa (including Côte d’Ivoire) are slated to become US proxy states.

The European Union is heavily dependent on the flow of Libyan oil. 85 percent of its oil is sold to European countries. In the case of a war with Libya, the supply of petroleum to Western Europe could be further disrupted, largely affecting Italy, France and Germany. Thirty percent of Italy’s oil and 10 percent of its gas are imported from Libya. Libyan gas is fed through the Greenstream pipeline in the Mediterranean (See map below).

The implications of these potential disruptions are far-reaching. They also have a direct bearing on the relationship between the US and the European Union.

Greenstream pipeline linking Libya to Italy (right)

Concluding Remarks

The mainstream media through massive disinformation is complicit in justifying a military agenda which, if carried out, would have devastating consequences not only for the Libyan people: the social and economic impacts would be felt Worldwide.

There are at present three distinct war theaters in the broader Middle East Central Asian region: Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq. In the case of an attack on Libya, a  fourth war theater would be opened up in North Africa, with the risk of military escalation.

Public opinion must take cognizance of the hidden agenda behind this alleged humanitarian undertaking, heralded by the heads of state and heads of government of NATO countries as a “Just War”. The Just War theory in both its classical and contemporary versions upholds war as a “humanitarian operation”. It calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against “rogue states” and “Islamic terrorists”. The Just war theory demonizes the Gaddafi regime while providing a humanitarian mandate to US-NATO military intervention.

The heads of state and heads of government of NATO countries are the architects of war and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In an utterly twisted logic, they are heralded as the voices of reason, as the representatives of the “international community”.

Realities are turned upside down. A humanitarian intervention is launched by war criminals in high office, who are the unchallenged guardians of the Just War theory.

Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo,… Civilian casualties in Pakistan resulting from US drone attacks on towns and villages ordered by president Obama, are not front page news, nor are the 2 million civilian deaths in Iraq.

There is no such thing as a “Just War”.  The history of US imperialism should be understood. The 2000 Report of the Project of the New American Century entitled “Rebuilding Americas’ Defenses” calls for the implementation of a long war, a war of conquest. One of the main components of this military agenda is: to “Fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars”.

“Operation Libya” is part of that process. It is another theater in the Pentagon’s logic of “simultaneous theater wars”.

The PNAC document faithfully reflects the evolution of US military doctrine since 2001. The US plans to be involved simultaneously in several war theaters in different regions of the World.

While heralding the need to protect America (i.e. ”National Security”), the PNAC report does spell out why these multiple theater wars are required. What purpose do they serve. Are they an instrument of peace? The usual humanitarian justification is not even mentioned.

What is the purpose of America’s military roadmap?

Libya is targeted because it is one among several remaining countries outside America’s sphere of influence, which fail to conform to US demands. Libya is a country which has been selected as part of a military “road map” which consists of “multiple simultaneous theater wars”.  In the words of former NATO Commander Chief General Wesley Clark:

 ”in the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan…. (Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars, p. 130).

Part I

Insurrection and Military Intervention: The US NATO Attempted Coup d’Etat in Libya?

Global Research Editor’s Note

This article published by Global research on March 15, 2011 focuses on the chronology of an impending catastrophe.

We recall that the first explosion was on March 11, 2011 at Reactor 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

“A hydrogen explosion caused by nuclear fuel rods overheating and then coming into contact with water collapsed the outside walls and roof of containment vessel.”

A second explosion occurred the following day at Reactor No. 3. 

A third explosion also on March 13 occurred at Reactor 2.

“The emergency cooling system at Unit 2 was damaged during the Unit 3 blast, resulting in the uranium fuel rods at 2 becoming dangerously, and completely, exposed for a number of hours.”  

The fourth explosion occurred the following day, on March 14  at Reactor 4 :

“Spent nuclear fuel in the reactor heated up, creating hydrogen and triggered a hydrogen explosion. Officials now admit that radiation levels are harmful to human health.” 

Two years later, the crisis is by no means over.

There are ongoing dangers of radioactive groundwater from flowing from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant into the Pacific ocean.

“record cesium level has been detected in a fish in the area.  The Asahi Shimbun newspaper has reported [March 2013] that a greenling registered 510,000 becquerels per kilogram. That’s 5,100 times the Japanese government’s standard.

A rockfish caught in the area in mid-February contained 277,000 becquerels per kilogram.

 

Michel Chossudovsky, March 9, 2013


In a deepening tragedy, after an earthquake and tsunami caused four explosions at nuclear reactor plants in Japan, most of those who evacuated the area headed south, since winds normally would have pushed the radioactive clouds to the north and east. Instead, winds pushed the r-clouds south, according to The Australian. The shift in winds now threatens Hawaii with fallout from the Fukushima nuclear facilities.

Officials finally admit radiation has reached lethal levels in the area surrounding the explosions. Tokyo, 200 miles to the south, is also seeing higher levels of radiation. “[A]bnormal radiation and traces of radioactive elements were detected around Greater Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolitan region with 36 million people.”

The paper also noted that “Hong Kong, The Philippines, Singapore and South Korea began testing Japanese food imports for radiation yesterday.”

Reactor No. 1. First explosion, March 11 at Fukushima Daiichi plant on east coast, 200 miles north of Tokyo. A hydrogen explosion caused by nuclear fuel rods overheating and then coming into contact with water collapsed the outside walls and roof of containment vessel. Hourly radiation leaking from Fukushima is equal to amount permitted in one year, official tells Kyodo. The nuclear agency says that they have detected cesium and iodine outside the unit, which certainly indicates fuel melting at the very least. Noriyuki Shikata, Dir. of Communitions for Prime Minister tweets: Blast was caused by accumulated hydrogen combined with oxygen in the space between container and outer structure. No damage to container. (BradBlog citing several sources)

Reactor No. 3. Second explosion, March 12 Containment vessel housing the fuel rods was not breached, per officials. Explosion damaged the reactor building, but not the nuclear containment vessel. The Fukushima facility began using MOX (mixed oxide) fuel last September, becoming the third plant in Japan to do so. MOX fuel has a lower melting point than the other fuels and contains plutonium, making it more volatile and toxic than the fuel used in other reactors. (Also see BradBlog and CLG, collected here.)

Reactor No. 2. Third explosion, March 13 The emergency cooling system at Unit 2 was damaged during the Unit 3 blast, resulting in the uranium fuel rods at 2 becoming dangerously, and completely, exposed for a number of hours. Containment vessel is damaged, radiation leak feared. Bottom of containment vessel blows. There are several containers around the nuclear fuel for the reactor. The fuel itself is inside rods, which are, in turn, inside a steal and concrete container vessel, currently filled — or partially filled, in this case — with sea water, to try to cool the fuel rods. If the container vessel, “the last line of defense from keeping the radioactivity from being released,” has been damaged by the explosion, fuel and radioactivity could leak into the environment. (BradBlog and CLG, collected here.)

Reactor No. 4. Fourth explosion, March 14 Spent nuclear fuel in the reactor heated up, creating hydrogen and triggered a hydrogen explosion. Officials now admit that radiation levels are harmful to human health. (Washington’s Blog citing several sources.)

BBC reports “Japanese engineer Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessel for Fukushima’s reactor core, says the design was not enough to withstand earthquakes or tsunami …” MSNBC notes there are 23 virtually-identical reactors in the U.S. built by General Electric.

This global catastrophe highlights the lunacy of building nuclear power plants on an island that sees 1,500 earthquakes a year.

The number of jobs in the US grew by 236,000 in February, and the official unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since 2008, according to the Labor Department’s latest jobs report released Friday.

The media jumped on the jobs total—significantly higher than the 165,000 that had been predicted—to proclaim an economic turnaround, while the Obama White House said the report indicated that “the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction.”

In reality, the jobs gained are a drop in the bucket compared to those lost during the recession. In the downturn that started in 2008, the US economy lost 8.9 million jobs, and if previous economic trends had continued, another 5.9 million jobs would have been added. Since the end of 2009, the economy has added only 5.7 million jobs.

At February’s rate of job growth, the US economy would not get back to the pre-recession level of unemployment until 2017.

By and large, the new jobs created pay much less than those lost during the crash. According to Friday’s figures, average hourly earnings for production workers have risen by only 2 percent over the past year, a figure wiped out by rising prices.

In addition to paying lower wages, an increasing number of new jobs are part time. Compared to late 2007, 5.8 million fewer people in the US are now working full time, but 2.8 million more are working part time. The share of people working part-time has grown from 16.9 percent at the start of the recession to 19.2 percent today.

Even as payrolls increased in February, a significant number of people simply stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor force. With 130,000 people dropping out of the workforce, the labor force participation rate fell to 63.5 percent, the lowest level in over three decades.

The percentage of the population that is employed fell from 63.3 percent in February 2007 to 58.5 percent in February 2010. This figure has stayed essentially unchanged at that level since then, with the latest figure coming in at 58.5 percent.

Long-term unemployment has likewise increased significantly in the most recent report. The percentage of unemployed people who have been out of work for more than half a year hit 40.2 percent in February, up from 38.1 in January. At the end of December 2007, this figure stood at 17.4 percent.

The latest jobs report came after a surprise drop in the United States’ gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2012, which was revised up to a growth of only 0.1 percent. The combined economies of the advanced industrial countries in that quarter shrank by 0.2 percent.

The US public sector once again shed jobs in February, losing 10,000 positions. Since June 2009, 742,000 state, local, and federal jobs have been eliminated, half of those in public education.

The slashing of government jobs is only likely to intensify with last week’s passage of $1.2 trillion in ‘sequester’ job cuts. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the imposition of the sequester will result in 750,000 job losses, and significantly increase the unemployment rate.

Friday’s US jobs report appeared the same day the DOW Jones Industrial average hit the highest level in its history. The corporate cash hoard has likewise reached a new record, hitting an estimated $1.79 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year, up from $1.77 trillion in the previous quarter. Instead of investing the money, however, companies are using it to buy back their own stock and pay out record dividends.

Corporations have sharply increased dividend payments to investors. The New York Times reported Friday that S&P 500 companies are expected to pay over $300 billion in dividends this year, a sharp increase over last year’s payout of $282 billion. American corporations bought back $117.8 billion in their own stock last month, the highest total on records going back to 1985.

“Corporations are flush with cash and that cash sitting in the corporate coffers is earning next to nothing,” Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi, told the Times. “Companies have to do something with it.”

The rise in corporate stock buy-backs harkens back to the period prior to the 2008 crash. As the Times noted, “Similar buyback activity occurred the last time stocks hit record highs. During the housing boom that ended in 2007, S&P 500 companies ramped up their share buybacks to what were the highest levels in history.”

After four years of “recovery,” the US economy is nowhere near its pre-recession level of unemployment. Instead of investing in production, major corporations, flush with cash and with their stock at record levels, are paying out dividends and inflating their own stock values.

These actions work to further enrich the financial elite, which has seen its wealth increase dramatically with the rise of the stock market. This is made possible in large measure by the US Federal Reserve’s vastly expansionary monetary policy, which is throwing $85 billion a year into financial markets and ultimately into the coffers of the super-rich.

The unprecedented combination of mass unemployment, falling wages and an influx of free money from the Federal Reserve has led to a boom in corporate profits, which have set records for three years in a row. In the third quarter of 2012, corporate profits as a percentage of the total economy were 14.2 percent, the highest level on record going back to 1950, while the share of national income that went to workers, 61.7 percent, was at its lowest level in nearly five decades.

by Jason Liosatos

There is a new trend in the ‘war on terror’ by the real world terror of the US, Israeli and Western governments, and it is called ‘bomb them just in case’.

With the looming threat of an attack on ‘innocent’ Iran, it is the same premise of ‘bomb them just in case’. This tactic is no different than shooting someone ‘just in case’ they get a gun and kill you, even though they have never exhibited any aggression or threat of aggression towards you, or indeed never possessed a gun in the past.

A similar analogy is that of a bully in a school yard, terrorizing and beating up the younger kids ‘just in case’ they grow bigger and tougher and ‘just might’ become a threat to you later on, so get them anyway ‘just in case’. It is the same as the horrific, unprovoked murders taking place in Pakistan by the Drone strikes, which is murder without a trial for the victims or the perpetrators. Again we see the same pattern of ‘kill them just in case’ they might be guilty, with no evidence, no proof, and no trial. Simply suspects, possible criminals, like dogs being punished ‘just in case’ they might bite someone, or hitting a child ‘just in case’ they are naughty.

The Drone operators murder the suspects via a screen in a live reality video show from thousands of miles away, and are now suffering terrible traumatic stress, as the Drone operators often watch a house and its family and children coming and going for sometimes weeks before the order is given to blow the house up, with all its inhabitants and suspects at home, children and all. This has proved to be more traumatizing to the Drone operators than it would be for a fighter jet pilot who does the same, though from a cowardly 2,000 feet and who cannot see the beautiful little children who live inside the property he bombs.

Iran is the latest example of this on a bigger scale, and it is the same old thing, ‘bomb them just in case’ they get a bomb one day, which is the same as the example I gave of shooting someone ‘just in case’ they get a gun someday and ‘just might’ for some reason shoot you. It is becoming more and more obvious that the real terrorists are the paranoids running the US, Israeli and Western governments, hell bent on attacking, bullying, bombing or strangling anyone with the noose of sanctions that ‘just might be’ a future threat, so get them ‘just in case’. We as the population must be very careful not to become accustomed to the slow creep towards further ethical compromises being committed by government.

There is no doubt that we are in the bloodiest, most brutal century in our human history, spearheaded by world leaders whose vision and wisdom has been not only compromised but dehumanized and anesthetized by their insatiable lust for power and greed at any cost to humanity and the planet. It is an absolute emergency that these ongoing crimes against humanity be quelled, and that quelling will come about by the people of the world refusing to tolerate such imbalanced, and insane behavior from the very people they vote for. Ultimately the military must refuse to carry out such orders to murder their fellow human beings with no trial or proof of them being guilty, and there is growing evidence that the military are beginning to hear their inbuilt, ethical alarm bell, which nature gave them to know what is right and wrong.

Of course there are high profile hits on Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, Gaddafi – all killed without a trial, but countless other suspects are killed daily, none of whom we ever hear about, along with women and children, all innocent until proven guilty. But there is hope because although things are getting worse,  the people are getting better, and rapidly awakening to the terrible crimes against humanity being committed by their own terrorizing US, Israeli and Western governments, the very governments they clap and cheer for at elections, and vehemently defend as their chosen ones, their leaders, their saviors, but at last people are realizing this is not so.

The conditioning and chloroform is at last wearing off, and there is a mass awakening taking place worldwide, with people everywhere realizing that something must be done to stop the wanton destruction of happiness, peace and freedom. We have definitely reached a critical fork in the road, a turning point in our human history. We can no longer rely on any world government to change things, their obsession with money and power has consumed them and us. The transformation so urgently needed will come from each persons individual transformation and awakening which will change everything, and which is the key to the solution of the worlds problems.

Author Jason Liosatos is a artist, writer and peace advocate based in the UK, and host of Global Peace Radio Show.

Libya was a self-sufficient, prosperous state which collapsed two years ago. It makes remember the dramatic events and what it resulted in. First of all, it was a new type of war, a «virtual revolution» and the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions were based on…editing the stages of a TV movie.

After the United Nations Security Council’s resolution N 1970 was adopted, the UN Human Rights Council sent the Independent Investigation Commission to Libya. The Libyan government allowed seeing all the places where public protesters were allegedly shot at. The Commission members were permitted to go anywhere they wanted to and they…hastily left the country. Gaddafi invited them for a meeting, but they didn’t even wait for it! No other investigation by «international community» followed. Vladimir Chamov, former Russian Ambassador to Libya (2008-2011), wrote, «The lie used by NATO to justify its war against Libya made pale even the one concocted as a pretext for invading Iraq». He knows what he is talking about, he’s was Russian Ambassador to Iraq too.

The UN Security Council’s resolution envisaged the possibility of «any actions» against Libya. It is said Russia committed a major mistake when it abstained while the Security Council voted for the resolution N 1973. And Russian diplomats, including Oleg Peresypkin, former Russian Ambassador to Libya (1984-1986), say it was quite possible to oppose the text before the vote. Indeed, for the first time in the history of international law any statescould take any measures against Libya. The wording was defying, it needed polishing, and making it more precise, altered, but…it never happened.

It was also for the first time ever, a country’s case was transferred to the International Criminal Court, though Libya is not even a party to it.

After the events in Libya, election results and adherence to internal law stopped being yardsticks for judging the legitimacy of state power. It was the statements by foreign leaders (the President of the United States, for instance) that mattered now. 

The so-called Arab revolutions brought a lot of harm to Russia’s interests. No doubt, the cooperation with Arab world was beneficial, multiple contacts are lost now. Pavel Akopov, president of the Association of Russian diplomats, former Russian Ambassador to Libya, recalls, «The Soviet economists worked out a system of granting credits to the Arab States. A loan for ten years was granted with 2.5% interest rate. It was allowed to pay with the commodities produced by a country’s industry or by the enterprises built with the help rendered by the Soviet Union at the expense of the loans. That’s how we exported engineering industry products». The model of developing bilateral mutually beneficial relations was so attractive that they started to copy it in the West.

For Russia Libya was the biggest loss in the Middle East. Former Russian Ambassador to Libya (1991-1992) Veniamin Popov says that while redeeming loans Libya paid to Russia more than any other country in the history of economic cooperation between the USSR and other states. The Libyans always paid in cash, if not, they exported oil supplies. The Libyan crude is a high-quality product, it has almost no sulfur. According to Alexey Podzerob, Russian ex Ambassador to Libya (1992-1996), even writing off a part of the debt was beneficial because the money was used for placing orders for Russian industry!

The elimination of Libya is a crime against this state, but also an attempt to arbitrarily decree a new international law. The events in Mali are a direct aftermath of what took place in Libya. The case is already transferred to the International Criminal Court and it was done after the legally elected President had been toppled. On February 19 2013 the UN International Independent Investigation Commission offered a report to the UN Security Council strongly recommending to transfer the situation in Syria to the Court too. The Commission acknowledged that «Anti-government armed groups have committed war crimes, including murder, torture, hostage-taking and attacking protected objects. They continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives inside civilian areas». Still, according to the Commission «The violations and abuses committed by anti-Government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia». (1) By the way, Carla Del Ponte, a former Chief Prosecutor of two United Nations international criminal law tribunals, is a member of the Commission. Considering civil war cases, she made a one-sided persecution a norm of international «justice».

The lessons of Libya are to be drawn to rectify mistakes. Speaking at the press-conference by the end of December 2012, President Putin said Russia would not repeat the mistake. According to him, «We’ll not support any armed groups that try to solve internal problems by use of force». He also made a statement that just couldn’t go unnoticed. Speaking at the press-conference in Copenhagen in 2011 he said nobody has the right of interference into others internal conflicts. Today this stance acquires specific significance. The international intervention in other countries is not considered to be interference into internal affairs anymore. The position made public by Putin calls for leaving behind fictitious arbitrary decisions presented as legal acts and getting back to the real international law. It’s something to be remembered by all advocates of «new» parallel international legal system.

* * *

The elimination of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was the end of a large-scale world project, an alternative pattern of society… 

Remembering the Libyan Jamahiriya one should not forget the founder of the country who sacrificed his life for it. Muammar Gaddafi died and did it with dignity. He had thought about death for as long time. Almost forty years ago his famous story called Death saw light. There he wonders if death is male or female. From the point of view of Gaddafi’s philosophy the difference is significant. If death is male then it should be resisted at all costs, if it is female – then it should finally be given place to. The story says death can take any form and it’s the form that defines your actions. The leader of Libyan Jamahiriya acted as described he should in his touching story.

(1) The full text of the UN Investigation Commission ‘s report is available on the website of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

http://www.ohchr.org/ Documents/ HRBodies/ HRCouncil/CoISyria/A.HRC.22.59_en.pdf

Cheney Admits that He Lied about 9/11

March 9th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

What Else Did He Lie About?

The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd writes today:

In a documentary soon to appear on Showtime, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” [Cheney said] “I got on the telephone with the president, who was in Florida, and told him not to be at one location where we could both be taken out.” Mr. Cheney kept W. flying aimlessly in the air on 9/11 while he and Lynn left on a helicopter for a secure undisclosed location, leaving Washington in a bleak, scared silence, with no one reassuring the nation in those first terrifying hours.

“I gave the instructions that we’d authorize our pilots to take it out,” he says, referring to the jet headed to Washington that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. He adds: “After I’d given the order, it was pretty quiet. Everybody had heard it, and it was obviously a significant moment.”

***

When they testified together before the 9/11 Commission, W. and Mr. Cheney kept up a pretense that in a previous call, the president had authorized the vice president to give a shoot-down order if needed. But the commission found “no documentary evidence for this call.”

In other words, Cheney pretended that Bush had authorized a shoot-down order, but Cheney now admits that he never did. In fact, Cheney acted as if he was the president on 9/11. *

Cheney lied about numerous other facts related to 9/11 as well. For example, Cheney:

* Indeed, Cheney initiated Continuity of Government plans on 9/11 which essentially nullified America’s constitutional form of government.

Global Research News Hour Episode 17

Imagine a middle-aged couple starting a simple business. They provide herbs or vitamins or some other innocuous product to the public. Let’s suppose they also promote the health benefits of taking this product.

Under current laws, the couple could find themselves the target of a sting operation in which an armed RCMP SWAT team might swoop down on their residence, bust their door down, stick guns in the occupants’ faces and force them to sit on a couch for eleven hours while the agents search for contraband.

According to constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati, not only could this happen, it has happened! In Canada!

The offensive legislation in question relates to an Act that governs so-called Natural Health Products. Dietary supplements, vitamins, herbs, foods and any other such natural item have proven to be far less dangerous than most over the counter prescription medications. These are now being targeted by Health Canada as a potential health hazard.

Galati is mounting a legal challenge against Health Canada. He tells the Global Research News Hour why the legislation on the books is insidious and unconstitutional and needs to be changed.

The Fracking Bubble

According to Deborah Rodgers of Energy Policy Forum, the current boom in shale oil and gas is not only unsustainable and environmentally contentious, it is built on unreliable estimates and projections. In this interview she explains the critical difference between reserve estimates and resource estimates, and why Wall Street is deriving profits from what appears to be a bubble akin to the Sub Prime Mortgage bubble which burst in 2008.

The Death of Chavez

Millions around the world are mourning the death of Bolivarian leader Hugo Chavez who died of cancer on Tuesday March 5 at the age of 58. Chavez defied US imperial aims including a coup attempt in 2002. He has since been a thorn in the side of both the Bush and the Obama administrations.

As the Venezuelan people grieve and admirers around the world pay homage, the Global Research News Hour brings in frequent guest and Chavez admirer Stephen Lendman to examine Chavez’s impact on international geo-politics. We also discuss the possibility that the Venezuelan President may have been the victim of a US assassination attempt!

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

All Western agencies joined together reporting the news that Yoani María Sánchez Cordero, a 37 years old Cuban blogger, got a permission to leave Cuba. She had tried to get the permission for five years, now she got it. Sánchez was kind of frustrated that her leaving was far from being an event in the focus of public attention. No dramatic actions: no interrogations, no searches, there was nothing to be used for denigration of the «Castro brothers regime».

Yoanni’s 80 days trip is to include ten states, including Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and the United States. Brazil was the country to start… The first appearance there was a failure: a group of left-wing protesters demonstrated against the screening of a libelous documentary entitled «Cuba-Honduras Connection», devoted to curbing the freedom of speech in the countries ruled by «dictatorial regimes». Yoani Sánchez plays a part. She is the one to tell about the fight for democracy in Cuba, the use of social networks for uniting the young people. She has an aversion for life in Cuba and dreams about «genuine democracy for all».

The blogger was frustrated over the fact the «Advocates of Castro brothers regime in Brazil» disrupted the screening. She called on the government of Dilma Rousseff to take a «more energetic» and «tougher» position to address the issue of human rights with the government of Raúl Castro. According to her, «There is a lack of toughness or frankness when talking about the subject of human rights on the island. There has been too much silence. The people do not forget». Her guard was reinforced after the first incident. Some media outlets reported Habana was ready to go to any length in order to get the blogger’s tour disrupted. Brazilian Foreign Minister Patriota denied the rumors. He said there were no obstacles on the way of the visit. Yoani stopped at the most fashionable hotels reputed as the most safe ones for US citizens. Her stay was at the expense (hosting courtesy) of Brazilian Hotel Association.

The fame Yoani gained thanks to social networks is a matter of special attention. How could a hardly out of the ordinary blogger critical of Habana’s communal services and transport problems become a key figure in the propaganda campaigns launched by the US State Department and the CIA in Cuba? She emigrated to Switzerland in 2002 after a fictitious marriage. Probably then the US special services laid eyes on her as a promising influence agent. There are many Latin Americans living on Switzerland and the CIA has always been well connected and strongly positioned there. She had all the makings for the job. Graduated in philology, she was full of ambitions and had a special aptitude for analysis and improvisation. The blogger tried to compensate her lack of physical attractiveness by intellectual prowess, achievements in politics and journalism. The CIA operatives used it all to their advantage, promising her a «smooth career path», international fame and protection from «repressions» on the part of Cuban government.

She became computer savvy in Switzerland and got introduced to programming and other skills. The training was useful afterwards. She told that on a number of occasions that she pretended to be a German tourist to get access to Internet connections in the hotels destined for foreigners. Not once she disguised beyond recognition to get necessary information at party gatherings. The blogger was master of disappearing when being watched and followed so that she could meet her connection from the United States Interests Mission in Havana. But it’s not always she used the art of conspiracy for working meetings with Americans. Many a time she met them in broad daylight in her apartment: kind of «I have nothing to hide and do it all openly» behavior.

Sanchez got back to Cuba in the summer of 2004. In April 2007 she launched the Generation Y blog full of blunt reflections on Cuban life. From the start it was mainly destined for young people. Yoani positioned herself as a young Cuban mulling over the issues of right and wrong in the conditions of «tough life». She said in an interview once that she had «a lot of issues and stories never discussed in press or on television. It was all strongly mixed up with skepticism…, the blog made it possible to get rid of many demons: apathy, fear, inertness. The blog therapy found its way to many hearts captured by the same demons».

The State Department and the CIA did their best to promote the blog in the shortest time possible. The blogger’s posts were translated into twenty languages. The texts were accumulated together, sorted according to the issues and then made public as books. There were four bulky volumes published in 2010-2011.

The number of issues encompassed has grown as time went by. The state of Cuban economy, public sentiments, rumors about possible changes at the top – the blog was referred to as the most reliable information source by Western media. The Huffington Post, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, Spanish El Pais and Argentinian Clarin began to cooperate with her. A flow of prestigious international awards followed. In April 2008 she won the Ortega y Gasset journalism prize from the Spanish daily El País. In a short period of time she received around twenty awards totally equal to over $250 thousand. US Time lost no time in inserting her name into an annual list of the 100 most influential people of the planet, Foreign Policy called her one of the ten leading Latin American intellectuals.

The US Habana Mission reports made public by WikiLeaks, mention promising young «non-traditional dissidents», like Yoani Sánchez, who are able to influence the Cuban social and political life after the Castro brothers are gone. That’s what explains why President Obama pays such attention on what Sánchez does. In 2007 he responded to seven questions of the blogger. That’s what it looked like in practice. The US Mission got the questions and made answers in the name of President. Then they sent it to Washington for the approval by State Department and the White House. After that the document went back to the Mission and re-sent to Sánchez.

In 2011 Sanchez received the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton took part in the ceremony. According to her, no matter the persecution by Cuban authorities Sanchez was going her own way telling the things that could not be told by others.

In 2012 the blogger was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Spanish Union, Progress and Democracy (Spanish: Unión Progreso y Democracia) party. The prize went to the European Union. No doubt she’ll be nominated again. Her chances will go up in case of repressions on the part of the government. But the Cuban leadership is reserved even in view of intermittent information war waged against it by the blogger. Does she have support on the Island? Not much. The Cubans know well the examples of other countries that refused socialism.

After a 13-hour filibuster by Senator Paul asking for a yes-or-no answer, on the question of whether the government could kill Americans on U.S. soil with drones, the Attorney General responded:

Dear Senator Paul:

It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.

Sincerely,

Eric Holder

But – as anyone who has worked in the legal or legislative field knows – statements which do not pin down all possibilities create loopholes large enough to drive trucks through.

Remember, Holder’s letter to Paul can’t be taken in a vacuum. The government has said for many months that it has the power to assassinate Americans on U.S. soil.

William Grigg notes:

This brief message from Holder … should be read in terms of the supposed authority claimed thereby. This means removing useless qualifiers in the interest of clarity.

What Holder is saying, in substantive terms, is that the President does have the supposed authority to use a drone to kill an American who is engaged in “combat,” whether here or abroad. “Combat” can consist of expressing support for Muslims mounting armed resistance against U.S. military aggression, which was the supposed crime committed by Anwar al-Awlaki, or sharing the surname and DNA of a known enemy of the state, which was the offense committed by Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdel. Under the rules of engagement used by the Obama Regime in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan, any “military-age” male found within a targeted “kill zone” is likewise designated a “combatant,” albeit usually after the fact [update: children too]. This is a murderous application of the “Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy,” and it will be used when — not if — Obama or a successor starts conducting domestic drone-killing operations.

Holder selected a carefully qualified question in order to justify a narrowly tailored answer that reserves an expansive claim of executive power to authorize summary executions by the president.

Indeed, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi that American citizens can be treated as enemy combatants.

But the determination of who is a “combatant” is made in secret and without judicial review.  For example, AP notes:

Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson … said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

Secretive, unaccountable agencies are making life and death decisions which effect our most basic rights. They provide “secret evidence” to courts which cannot be checked … and often withhold any such “evidence” even from the judges. For example:

“I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules — a veritable Catch-22,” the judge wrote. “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people.

Secretive, unaccountable agencies are making life and death decisions which effect our most basic rights. They provide “secret evidence” to courts which cannot be checked … and often withhold any such “evidence” even from the judges. For example:

“I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules — a veritable Catch-22,” the judge wrote. “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions [i.e. assassinations] that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

Moreover:

The government’s indefinite detention policy – stripped of it’s spin – is literally insane, and based on circular reasoning. Stripped of p.r., this is the actual policy:

  • If you are an enemy combatant or a threat to national security, we will detain you indefinitely until the war is over

  • But trust us, we know you are an enemy combatant and a threat to national security

See how that works?

The government also wants to expand its assassination program to cover “associates of associates” of Al Qaeda.

And – given that political dissent is now considered terrorism, and protesters considered low-level terrorists – does that mean that dissent or protest makes one a “combatant”?.

Karl Denninger also points out that Holder didn’t say anything about other types of assassination:

Still can’t be bothered to make a clear statement can you?

So in your opinion, Mr. Holder, it’s perfectly ok if the President uses an M-16, a 9mm, a bomb constructed out of C-4 or burns the building you’re in to the ground?

Therefore, Holder’s letter raises more questions than it answers.

Update:  One of the nation’s top constitutional and military law experts – Professor Jonathan Turley – just weighed in on this issue:

We previously discussed how Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter confirming that the President would have authority to kill citizens on U.S. soil without a charge or conviction. His answer triggered a principled filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul and another embarrassment to Democratic Senators who, again, chose personality over principle in staying silent. Now, Holder has issued a new statement. No, President Obama still claims the right to kill U.S. citizens on his sole authority. However, Holder now says that, if the citizen is “not engaged in combat on American soil,” the President cannot vaporize him. The answer leaves the constitutional claim of Obama even more confused and conflicted. Does this mean we have a third category now under the policy: citizen, citizen terrorist, and citizen non-combatant terrorist?

In his prior letter, Holder answered a question about whether the President was claiming the right to kill citizens on U.S. soil. This follows the release of a memo showing that Holder’s description of the policy at Northwestern University Law School was narrower than the actual policy described within the Administration. A memo leaked to the press shows that the Administration has adopted a virtual limitless definition of imminence: “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

Last week, Holder said “It is possible I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

***

It is not clear what Holder means by “engaged in combat” since the Administration memo shows that the Administration is using an absurdly broad definition of “imminent” threat under the kill list policy. Since the Administration has continued to assert that terrorists are engaged in a war against the U.S., the terse reply of Holder seems designed to preserve later flexibility.

Moreover, there is nothing in the constitutional claim of the Administration that reflects such a limitation. Deciding on where to kill a citizen would be an discretionary policy under the sweeping presidential authority described by the Administration. As noted in earlier columns (here and here and here), it is astonishing how citizens, including so many liberals and civil libertarians, Obama is saying that his appointment of a non-binding committee satisfied due process and relieves any need for judicial review. Moreover, if the President has the inherent authority to kill a citizen in Canada, it is not clear why such inherent authority would not exist a few hundred yards away in Detroit. The Administration has said that it can use the unilateral power when it considers a capture to pose undue risk to its personnel.

What is particularly striking is that we have a president who is asserting the right to kill any citizen but the Administration has classified memos on that authority and the Attorney General will only give a Senator a terse two line conclusory statement on scope. The Administration appears to believe that there is little need to explain the details on killing citizens, such as how it defines “combat.” Obviously, if there is a war occurring in the United States, a president has the right to put down insurrection or attacks on the federal government. These strikes concern targeting terrorists. One can easily foresee this or a future president insisting that an alleged terrorism conspiracy is a form of combat.

It would seem an obvious thing to explain how they define combat and whether an alleged terrorist would fall into it. Does this mean that there will be a category of non-combatant terrorists for domestic strikes? How is that defined? It seems like a hole big enough to fly a drone through.Since police can already use lethal force to stop an attack in progress, the answer leaves more questions than it answers in my view. For a citizen it would mean that he or she can be killed abroad on the basis of the Administration’s wildly broad definition of “imminent” but domestically would fall under a different “combat” definition. Where is the line between an “imminent” threat and “combat” drawn? Does Holder mean there is a different meaning to imminence when someone steps over the border? We already have the definition of “imminent” and the Administration’s new definition of “imminent.” Is this yet a third option?

 The primary reason, we are told, that the West must immediately begin wider operations to support the so-called Syrian rebels is to head off extremists – namely Al Qaeda, from overrunning Syria. This narrative has been sold for nearly a year now as it has become evidently clear that all major offensives in Syria against the Syrian people and their government have been led by Al Qaeda terrorist fronts, including most notoriously, Jabhat al-Nusra.

It turns out, however, according the London Telegraph, that the US and Britain have already been arming terrorists operating in Syria for some time, including a massive airlift of 3,000 tons of weapons, sent across Syria’s borders with Jordan and NATO-member Turkey. In the Telegraph’s article titled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’,” it is reported:

It claimed 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November
The story confirmed the origins of ex-Yugoslav weapons seen in growing numbers in rebel hands in online videos, as described last month by The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, but suggests far bigger quantities than previously suspected.
The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers. The Americans are also believed to be providing training on securing chemical weapons sites inside Syria.

With so much admitted involvement in the violence aimed at overthrowing Syria’s government by the West, it is inconceivable that Al Qaeda could be “overrunning moderate forces” in Syria, unless of course, no such moderate forces exist, and the West had planned from the beginning to use Al Qaeda as a mercenary force. And indeed, that is precisely what is happening. It has been established with documented evidence since at least 2007, and reaffirmed with this latest report.


Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“stated explicitly that:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Is there any doubt that the US has executed this plot in earnest, arming and funding sectarian extremists “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” on both Syria’s northern and southern border? Where else, if not from the West and its regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, could extremists be getting their weapons, cash, and logistical support from?

And of course, Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey have been long-ago identified by the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) as hotbeds of sectarian extremist/Al Qaeda activity – hotbeds that the West is purposefully funneling thousands of tons of weaponry through, while disingenuously claiming it is attempting to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of extremists.

The CTC’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” identified Syria’s southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, as having produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq throughout the duration of the Iraq War.

Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from during the US invasion/occupation. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.”

….

These areas are now admittedly the epicenters of fighting, and more importantly, despite being historical hotbeds of Al Qaeda activity, precisely where the West is flooding with cash, weapons, and military “advisers.” Just like in Libya where the West literally handed an entire nation to sectarian extremists, we are watching a verbatim repeat in Syria – where we are told Al Qaeda terrorists are “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters” that deserve US cash, weapons, and support, when it couldn’t be any clearer they aren’t.

Not only has the US and UK lied to the world about their policy toward Syria and their current level of support for increasingly overt terrorists committing an array of atrocities – their latest act including the taking of over 20 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights – but have revealed once again the manufactured facade that is the “War on Terror.”

by Nidal Hmadeh 

The document is a ten page application form distributed by the Turkish authorities on Syrians inside Syria. Based on the information mentioned in the application, the individual is enlisted either in the ranks of a certain phalanx that fights in Syria, as an intelligence agent, or as a recruit for the intelligence agents that work inside Syria.

The source of this document is an injured Syrian who was in the ranks of the militants. His family took him to Europe for treatment after he was injured in his spinal cord, so he passed on this document to us to publish it and comment on its articles and points.

Turkey also relies on these forms to specify the individuals that it could take to military training camps in Turkey, as well as those who could form military and security cells inside Syria.

He added that “all the supervisors of this center are from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and they personally lead Al-Nusra Front.”

The injured Syrian further tells us that one person could fill more than one form, as he could fill forms for people he knows, or he could work on finding people that would fill their personal forms.

Moreover, Turkey presents for each individual, who could find 60 people to fill forms in Syria, a large sum of money.

The injured Syrian said that this form was put by the Turks and they are the ones who supervise the training program, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia fund the civil society center, in addition to cash money that come from France, America, and Germany.

The application form is consisted of 28 articles, and the following points are noticed in it:

1- Article number seven is related to military information and data from the Syrian Arab Army, and it is consisted of 13 sections.

2- Articles between nine and 23 are questions and information about the Syrian society.

3- Articles between 23 and 27 are security and intelligence questions.

4- Article 28 includes questions about the sectarian structure in each applicant’s region.

To see the original document press here

 

Iraq War Crimes: Neocons Escape Accountability

March 9th, 2013 by Paul R. Pillar

Nearing the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, an overriding truth is that few of the key participants – in government, media or think tanks – have faced accountability commensurate with the crime. Indeed, many of these Mideast “experts” are still go-to people for advice.

One regularly hears much talk in Washington about accountability, but also regularly sees examples of how the concept of accountability gets applied in this town in an inconsistent and warped way. There are the inevitable calls for heads to roll after any salient untoward event, and huzzahs to senior managers who do roll heads in response.

have addressed previouslywhat tends to be wrong about how such episodes play out. Too often there is no consideration of whether the untoward event is or is not part of some larger pattern of malfeasance or incompetence, whether those at any one level in a chain of command could reasonably be expected to prevent all such events when the action is at some other level, and whether there is any reason to expect the changes in personnel to result in any change in institutional performance.

Nor is there consideration of why those who roll heads and collect the huzzahs but who also are part of the same chain of command should be allowed to determine — in a very un-Truman-like, the-buck-didn’t-get-to-me way — that accountability stops just below their own level.

The converse of this is that in some instances in which there is a proven pattern of error, and good reason to believe that if we trust the same people who led us into failure in the past we are likely to be led into failure again, no accountability seems to be taking place. Accountability in this instance would not necessarily mean losing a particular job; it could mean being discredited as a source of policy advice.

Image: Dennis Ross, who has served as a senior U.S. emissary in the Middle East.

There is such a thing as malpractice in policy analysis. The most obvious example of lack of this type of accountability is that neocons — the people who gave us the Iraq War — still get listened to. Not only that, but they still get listened to on matters eerily reminiscent of getting us into the Iraq War.

Another example is brought to mind by the latest set of recommendations from veteran Middle East peace processor Dennis Ross. A fair reaction to this comes from Lebanese commentator Rami Khouri. Khouri observes that it is understandable to think about how the Obama administration, with its new secretary of state, might try to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. But, he continues,

“Less understandable is why a leading American publication — the New York Times in its Sunday Review section — should turn for advice on this issue from former diplomat Dennis Ross. … I say this is less understandable because Ross has almost nothing but failure to show for his 11 years of leadership on Arab-Israeli and other Middle Eastern issues in the White House and State Department, between 1993 and 2011. Only in Washington could a serial failure in Arab-Israeli diplomacy such as Ross be consulted on how to move ahead in Arab-Israeli diplomacy.”

Another type of accountability-shedding, which one sees especially on Capitol Hill but also elsewhere, is that someone who supported what turned out to be a failure disclaims responsibility on grounds of having been misinformed. This certainly has been a pattern regarding the Iraq War ever since it turned sour. Some proponents of the war have confessed to having made an error; a larger number have used the excuse of having been misinformed by the Bush administration, the intelligence community, or both about Iraqi weapons programs.

The excuse gets repeated even though very few members of Congress ever bothered to look at what the intelligence agencies were saying either about the weapons programs or about anything else concerning Iraq, and even though there would not have been a case for launching this offensive war even if everything the administration had said about the weapons had been true.

A similar way of shedding responsibility, again a favorite of members of Congress, is to immerse oneself in the political mood of the moment and to disregard how that mood represents a change from earlier moods. Here the outstanding example is the practice that gets euphemistically called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Scott Shane has an excellent description in the New York Times of the state of play about this issue that confronts John Brennan, and particularly about the question of how he will handle a reportedly damning report prepared by Democratic Congressional staff.

He faces Democrats who have moved strongly into the anti-torture camp, Republicans who haven’t moved as much, and employees involved in the interrogation process who have seen public and political standards about this subject shift markedly between the early post-9/11 days, when they were doing some of this stuff, and now, when people want to hold someone accountable for doing that stuff.

Given past patterns, the smoothest way out of this bind may be found in the report itself, in which, according to Shane, people involved in the interrogation program are described as having given “top Bush administration officials, members of Congress, the American public and even their own colleagues — possibly including Mr. Brennan himself — a deeply distorted account of its nature and efficacy.”

Here’s a prediction: Mr. Brennan will find places at lower levels to satisfy the appetite for accountability, while further determining that both he and members of Congress had been “misinformed.”

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

Hugo Chavez, Humble Man Who Transformed the World

March 9th, 2013 by Rick Rozoff

AUDIO

He reconfigured the power relationships not only in the Western Hemisphere, but globally, in a way that could not have been foreseen. The head of state of a country that isn’t a tremendously large one, isn’t a tremendously powerful one, certainly not in military terms, but this is a man who made frequent visits to Russia, to the African continent, to the Middle East, to China, who cultivated relationships with the emerging multi-polar world…

Just as Venezuela has been the bellwether, has been the prototype for the transformation that has occurred throughout Latin America in the last 14 years, so the US sees it, I suppose, as the transformation, the revolution, that needs to be reversed first.

Hugo Chavez was a humble man from humble origins who did more than anyone else to lift up and unite the countries and the people of Latin America after being subjugated to decades of US imperialism. He was an inspiration and a beacon who will be sorely missed by many. Hours after the passing of the late President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, Rick Rozoff spoke with John Robles about the legacy and the positive changes the late leader single-handedly brought to the world.

Robles: In our discussions of NATO expansion, US imperialistic movements all over the globe, many times we’ve talked about Hugo Chavez and his independence and the way he stood up to the US. Can you give us your opinions of the great achievements of Mr. Hugo Chavez?

Rozoff: The late and very much lamented, Hugo Chavez, was a remarkable man but in many ways remarkable despite the fact that he was not remarkable. That is, he was born in a very humble family, one that might even be described as impoverished. He was born in a village. He was part indigenous, that is of Native American Indian background, as well as reportedly of African background.

He was somebody who resembles people like you or me, our parents, our grandparents: people who have not gone to elite schools, people who have not been born in privilege and have been selected from birth, if you will, for positions of honor and power. A simple man who applied himself and developed his talents and his abilities, but most of all his dedication.

We have to remember that his election as president of Venezuela in 1999 set the stage for, heralded, a whole series of election victories and transformations throughout Latin America, Central as well as South America, in countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador, that he himself was the prime mover in setting up what is known by the acronym of ALBA (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) that he was a prime mover in setting up something by the acronym of CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the Bank of the South, TeleSur (the television network for South America).

It was this one man instrumental in turning the tide of Latin America and in many ways of the southern hemisphere of the world that has been wracked by the neoliberalism of the 1990s.

And his actions have been described, I think very accurately, John, as having, on his initiative that we have seen the reversal of 200 years of the Monroe Doctrine.

A few years ago when Russian and Venezuelan vessels participated in a joint naval exercise in the Caribbean, it was exactly in that context it was remarked that this had basically reversed 200 years of the Monroe Doctrine, that is of Washington and the United States claiming exclusive sphere of influence throughout the entire Western Hemisphere.

And that this was the doing of Hugo Chavez, this humble former soldier, who became 14-year-president of Venezuela, one who read distributed the wealth from petroleum and other industries in the country to benefit the agrarian as well as the rural poor, or offered major economic assistance, including subsidized energy deals with countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, even parts of the United States, as a matter of fact, New York City.

He reconfigured the power relationships not only in the Western Hemisphere, but globally, in a way that could not have been foreseen. The head of state of a country that isn’t a tremendously large one, isn’t a tremendously powerful one, certainly not in military terms, but this is a man who made frequent visits to Russia, to the African continent, to the Middle East, to China, who cultivated relationships with the emerging multi-polar world, particularly those nations represented in BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. And he was arguably the most persuasive advocate for a newly emerging system of multi-polarity in the world of anyone I know.

Robles: Let me ask you about Nicolas Maduro the Vice President. Yesterday he said that Hugo Chavez’s cancer was part of a conspiracy against him and basically he had been poisoned by enemies.

He also expelled two US military attachés from the country. Would you care to speculate on those accusations, thta he made?

Rozoff: On the first accusation, you know that the suspicious incidence of cancer amongst independent Latin American heads of state – in Argentina, in Bolivia, earlier in Brazil, in Venezuela, even, one can argue, with Fidel Castro in Cuba – that there certainly is room for legitimate suspicion and investigation.

I might recommend a book that was published in the last couple of years with the intriguing title “Dr. Mary’s Monkey”, a book written about the late Mary Sherman and about CIA-linked operations in the early 1960s to actually develop types of cancer for use against political adversaries. So, it’s not that far-fetched an accusation.

On the second score, the fact that two US embassy personnel have been declared persona non grata and expelled from or invited to leave Venezuela, I think what is of most concern to us right now is the fact that, should a new election be held because of the death of Hugo Chavez, that the United States would certainly kick into high gear the entire color revolution operation that has been employed in the past, in Yugoslavia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon and so forth. But we may see it done on a much more ambitious scale even than we saw in the countries that I’ve just mentioned. Just as Venezuela has been the bellwether, has been the prototype for the transformation that has occurred throughout Latin America in the last 14 years, so the US sees it, I suppose, as the transformation, the revolution, that needs to be reversed first.

Robles: Rick, if we could maybe about a minute more and I really appreciate you speaking with me at this late hour.

Rozoff: Thank you for the opportunity.

I think when talking about somebody like Chavez, who again was as humble and unpretentious a person as any of us could hope to be, that in speaking of him nevertheless, it is almost a paradox, I am reminded of the lines in the Bible, in the Gospel, that I don’t feel worthy to lace his sandals.

I mean I can pay him a tribute, but it’s a tribute of a very simple person who was immensely grateful and stands in eternal admiration of everything that he has done.

And all the people that he has made enthusiastic about the process that he in many ways initiated, and that his faith and the faith that he has instilled in them will continue. And I’m very much saddened with his demise. I’m very proud of his accomplishments. I’m very confident that Latin America and the world will continue towards a world that is really worthy of mankind.

These documents, including an instructional guide on assassination found among the training files of the CIA’s covert “Operation PBSUCCESS,” were among several hundred records released by the Agency on May 23, 1997 on its involvement in the infamous 1954 coup in Guatemala.

After years of answering Freedom of Information Act requests with its standard “we can neither confirm nor deny that such records exist,” the CIA has finally declassified some 1400 pages of over 100,000 estimated to be in its secret archives on the Guatemalan destabilization program. (The Agency’s press release stated that more records would be released before the end of the year.) An excerpt from the assassination manual appears on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times on Saturday, May 31, 1997. The small, albeit dramatic, release comes more than five years after then CIA director Robert Gates declared that the CIA would “open” its shadowy past to post-cold war public scrutiny, and only days after a member of the CIA’s own historical review panel was quoted in the New York Times as calling the CIA’s commitment to openness “a brilliant public relations snow job.” (See Tim Weiner, “C.I.A.’s Openness Derided as a ‘Snow Job’,” The New York Times, May 20, 1997, p. A16)

Arbenz was elected President of Guatemala in 1950 to continue a process of socio- economic reforms that the CIA disdainfully refers to in its memoranda as “an intensely nationalistic program of progress colored by the touchy, anti-foreign inferiority complex of the ‘Banana Republic.’” The first CIA effort to overthrow the Guatemalan president–a CIA collaboration with Nicaraguan dictator Anastacio Somoza to support a disgruntled general named Carlos Castillo Armas and codenamed Operation PBFORTUNE–was authorized by President Truman in 1952. As early as February of that year, CIA Headquarters began generating memos with subject titles such as “Guatemalan Communist Personel to be disposed of during Military Operations,” outlining categories of persons to be neutralized “through Executive Action”–murder–or through imprisonment and exile. The “A” list of those to be assassinated contained 58 names–all of which the CIA has excised from the declassified documents.

PBSUCCESS, authorized by President Eisenhower in August 1953, carried a $2.7 million budget for “pychological warfare and political action” and “subversion,” among the other components of a small paramilitary war. But, according to the CIA’s own internal study of the agency’s so-called “K program,” up until the day Arbenz resigned on June 27, 1954, “the option of assassination was still being considered.” While the power of the CIA’s psychological-war, codenamed “Operation Sherwood,” against Arbenz rendered that option unnecessary, the last stage of PBSUCCESS called for “roll-up of Communists and collaborators.” Although Arbenz and his top aides were able to flee the country, after the CIA installed Castillo Armas in power, hundreds of Guatemalans were rounded up and killed. Between 1954 and 1990, human rights groups estimate, the repressive operatives of successive military regimes murdered more than 100,000 civilians.

Click on the document icon to view each document. Document 1, “CIA and Guatemala Assassination Proposals, 1952-1954″, CIA History Staff Analysis by Gerald K. Haines, June 1995.

CIA records on assassination planning in Guatemala were first gathered pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in 1979. All of them were withheld on national security grounds at that time. In 1995, the CIA’s historical staff “rediscovered” these records during a search of Guatemala materials to be declassified as part of the agency’s “Openness” program. A staff historian, Gerald Haines, was assigned to write this brief history of these operations. He concluded that as early as January 1952, CIA headquarters began compiling lists of individuals in Arbenz’s government “to eliminate immediately in event of [a] successful anti-Communist coup.” Planning for assassination included budgeting, training programs, creation of hit teams, drafting of target lists of persons, and transfer of armaments. Haines writes that “until the day that Arbenz resigned in June 1954 the option of assassination was still being considered.” The CIA, according to this history, did not implement its assassination strategy. But the declassifiers of this study, and other related documents, have deleted the names of the targeted individuals, making it impossible to verify that none of them were killed during or in the aftermath of the coup.

Document 2, “A Study of Assassination”, Unsigned, Undated.

Transcription

Among the documents found in the training files of Operation PBSUCCESS and declassified by the Agency is a “Study of Assassination.” A how-to guide book in the art of political killing, the 19-page manual offers detailed descriptions of the procedures, instruments, and implementation of assassination. “The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination,” counsels the study. “A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached….Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region.” T he manual also notes that to provide plausible denial, “no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded.” Murder, the drafters state, “is not morally justifiable,” and “persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.”

Document 3, “Selection of individuals for disposal by Junta Group”, March 31, 1954.

One of the many assassination lists compiled by the CIA during planning for Operation Success. As the memorandum indicates, the chief of one of the CIA’s divisions involved in the coup (the division title has been deleted) requested a list of names of Arbenz government leaders, members of the Communist Party, and individuals “of tactical importance whose removal for psychological, organizational or others reasons is mandatory for the success of military action.” The memo asks that CIA personnel read through the list and initial the names of those who should be included on a “final list of disposees.” The list (and the initials or names of all CIA officers appearing in the document) has been withheld. A handwritten note attached on the bottom of the memo reads:

Elimination List April [illeg.] – [Illeg.] is taking a copy of list of names for checking with the [illeg.] April 7 – Original Memo with attached Biographic data has been passed to [deleted] Returned by [deleted] on 1 June 1954

Document 4, “Guatemalan Communist Personnel to be disposed of during Military Operations of Calligeris”, Origin deleted, Undated.

Another version of the assassination lists compiled by the CIA and Carlos Castillo Armas (code-named “Calligeris”) in the course of preparing for the 1954 coup. The names of the agency’s intended victims were divided into two categories: persons to be disposed of through “Executive action” (i.e., killed) and those to be imprisoned or exiled during the operation. Before releasing this document to the public, the CIA deleted every name, leaving only the rows of numbers to indicate how many people were targeted.

Document 5, “Operation PBSUCCESS: The United States and Guatemala, 1952- 1954″, CIA History Staff document by Nicholas Cullather, 1994. Excerpt.

A narrative history of the CIA’s role in planning, organizing and executing the coup that toppled Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán on June 27, 1954. Cullather, now a diplomatic historian at the University of Indiana, worked on contract for one year with the CIA, where he was given access to thousands of agency records and secret operational files in order to produce this overview. The result is a surprisingly critical study of the agency’s first covert operation in Latin America. Beginning with a review of the political, economic and social forces that led to Arbenz’s presidency in 1951, the document is an intimate account of how cold war concerns convinced President Eisenhower to order the removal of the democratically-elected leader by force. It also provides countless new details of a covert mission plagued by disastrous military planning and failed security measures: according to Cullather, “Operation Success” barely succeeded. The CIA scrambled to convince the White House that it was an unqualified and all but bloodless victory, however. After Arbenz resigned, Eisenhower called the Director of Central Intelligence, Allan W. Dulles, and his senior covert planners into a formal briefing of the operation. Cullather’s account now reveals that the agency lied to the president, telling him that only one of the rebels it had backed was killed. “Incredible,” said the president. And it was. At least four dozen were dead, according to the CIA’s own records. Thus did the Guatemala coup enter agency lore as an “unblemished triumph,” Cullather explains, and become the model for future CIA activities in Latin America.

In Guatemala, of course, “Operation Success” had a deadly aftermath. After a small insurgency developed in the wake of the coup, Guatemala’s military leaders developed and refined, with U.S. assistance, a massive counterinsurgency campaign that left tens of thousands massacred, maimed or missing.

By Steve Rendall

In the gun lobby’s arsenal of propaganda, the claim that guns make people safer may be the most potent.

After all, while gun advocates make grandiose—and historically inaccurate (Consortium News, 12/21/12)—claims about the Second Amendment being designed to enable armed citizens to resist government tyranny, no sane person believes individuals armed with handguns and rifles would stand a chance against a trillion-dollar 21st century military backed by vast surveillance systems.

But protecting one’s family, home or person? That seems sensible enough. If guns make us safer, as they say, then having a gun for self-defense isn’t an irrational choice.

sociopath

The premise is regularly featured in news reports. This Week host George Stephanopoulos (ABC, 1/20/13) offered no challenge when former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum claimed, “There are more people who protect themselves and stop violence …happen[ing] to them with the ownership of a gun than [there are] people who commit crimes with a gun.”

Fox News, of course, where gun ownership is practically a sacrament, has featured a virtual rhumba line of pro-gun guests touting the virtues of safety by gun. Hannity’s January 18 show might as well have been renamed the NRA Hour, featuring first NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre stating that the vast majority of the American public “deeply believes in the Second Amendment, deeply believes they have a right to protect themselves”—followed by former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, director of the NRA’s National School Shield Project, who told gun-toting host Sean Hannity that the solution to school shootings was “to have the armed, trained presence there to really protect the children.”

It’s not just conservatives and Fox pundits who embrace the self-defense argument. Discussing gun regulations on CBS’s Face the Nation (12/16/12), anchor Bob Schieffer endorsed the view that protection was a legitimate rationale for gun ownership: “By now, the pros and cons of the gun issue are well known…. Of course, there are legitimate reasons for both pleasure and protection to own guns.”

On January 9, CNN’s Anderson Cooper presented a segment that gave more or less equal weight to arguments for and against the notion that guns make us safer, concluding that it’s hard to say for sure:

The one true thing that we know about the gun debate here at home, that neither side has a monopoly on the truth, or even the facts, because the facts can be so hard to establish. One side has studies linking gun ownership with violent death. But correlation is not causation.

The other side has research showing when people are allowed to carry concealed weapons, violent crimes slow down. Yet newer studies cast doubt on that conclusion.

Studying the problem is hard, said Cooper, “with a shortage of facts but a surplus of victims and anguish and loss, the debate so far has evolved into passionately stated and exclusively competing articles of faith.”

But is it really hard to study the effects of guns on public health and safety? And is the debate merely between competing articles of faith? Perhaps more to the point, does the evidence support Schieffer’s and the others’ claims that guns are a rational choice for self-defense?

The pro-gun crowd sure wants you to think so, promoting studies over the years claiming guns are used defensively thousands of times per day and that broader gun ownership makes communities safer, and repeating anecdotes in which guns are reported to have thwarted crimes.

A favorite study of these advocates is 1995’s “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun” (Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall/95), by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, which found that guns were used defensively about 2.5 million times annually in the U.S.—or almost 7,000 times a day.

Researcher John Lott conducted another study favored by gun advocates, published in his 1998 book More Guns, Less Crime, which claimed that increasing numbers of concealed carry permits in a given area are associated with decreasing crime rates.

Both studies have been convincingly challenged in the scientific community. In a 2004 meta-study of gun research, the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science found that Lott’s claims were not supported by his data. And when Lott misrepresented the report (New York Post, 12/29/04), the NAS published a letter (Deltoid, 1/26/05) listing his distor-tions. Shooting Down the More Guns Less Crime Hypothesis (11/02), a paper pub-lished by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found crime actually increased in states and locales where concealed carry laws had been adopted.

The Harvard School of Public Health’s David Hemenway took on Kleck in Survey Research and Self Defense Gun Use: An Explanation of Extreme Overestimates (Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1997), demonstrating that because of the nature of the data, Kleck’s self-reported phone survey finding 2.5 million defensive uses of guns per year was wildly exaggerated. For example, Kleck says guns were used to defend against 845,000 burglaries in 1992, a year in which the National Crime Victimization Survey says there were fewer than 6 million burglaries.

Hemenway put together facts from the well-regarded NCVS—that someone was known to be home in just 22 percent of burglaries (1.3 million), and that fewer than half of U.S. households have firearms—and pointed out that Kleck “asks us to believe that burglary victims in gun-owning households use their guns in self-defense more than 100 percent of the time.”

Hemenway noted that respondents may also have a distorted view of “self-defense”—e.g., mistakenly thinking they are legally defending themselves when they draw a gun during a minor altercation. As the Harvard researcher and his co-authors in another study pointed out (Injury Prevention, 12/00): “Guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self-defense. Most self-reported self-defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society.”

A National Crime Victimization Survey report, controlling for many of the methodological problems in Kleck, supported Hemenway, finding 65,000 defensive gun uses per year (NCVS Report, 1997). Current NCVS estimates are in the 100,000 range.

To assess the benefits and costs of pervasive gun ownership—there are currently 300 million firearms in the U.S., and roughly 80 million gun owners (CNSNews.com, 2/4/13)—it’s useful to compare the self-defense numbers to the gun crime numbers. The National Institute of Justice reported that in 2005, “11,346 persons were killed by firearm violence and 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm.” Or, to put it in starker terms, the FBI’s Crime in the United States report for 1998 found that for every instance that a civilian used a handgun to kill in self-defense, 50 people lost their lives in handgun homicides.

With a gun murder rate about 20 times the average of other industrialized countries (Washington Post, 12/14/12), it’s hard to argue with Hemenway’s conclusion (Harvard Injury Control Research Center, “Homicide”): “Where there are more guns, there is more homicide.”

A New England Journal of Medicine study (10/7/93) in 1993 concluded that a gun in the home raised the chances someone in a family will be killed by nearly three times, with the danger to women—who are more likely to be killed by a spouse, intimate or relative—even greater. A 1997 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (4/14/97) reinforces that danger, finding that the homicide risk for women increased 3.4 times in a home with one or more guns. Taken together with the heightened risk of suicide and accidental deaths posed by guns in the home, these numbers demolish the argument that guns enhance family protection.

Much of the research on guns and public health dates back to the 1990s, it should be noted, because of the near total ban that Congress imposed on public funding for studies of guns and public health in 1996, singling out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Scientific inquiry in this field has been systematically starved, and as a result almost no one does it,” University of California–Davis professor Garen Winte-mute told Huffington Post (1/10/13). The ban was driven by the NRA, whose anti-inquiry view is shared by gun researcher Lott; when conservative talkshow host Mark Levin (WABC, 1/16/13) asked Lott whether he wanted “the Centers for Disease Control to be delving into studying the gun issue,” Lott responded, “No, no, I don’t.”

In addition to underplaying the statistical case that guns are a destructive force in society, the media have largely ignored experts who can explain the practical reasons why guns are not necessarily a rational choice for self-defense. An exception was 20/20’s report, “If I Only Had a Gun” (ABC, 4/10/09), which explored the issue with firearms experts.

20/20 took a group of college students of varying familiarity with guns, and provided them with professional training exceeding the level required by most states for concealed carry permits. Then the producers recorded the students reacting to simulations in which an aggressive, active gunman entered a classroom. In every simulation, the student failed to stop the aggressor and was badly or fatally wounded; in one instance, the student narrowly missed shooting a victim of the assault.

According to the weapons experts 20/20 consulted, only professionals who drill continuously in live shooter situations can hope to succeed in such chaotic situations. Firearms instructor Glen Dorney told host Diane Sawyer, “Even police officers, through extensive training, if you don’t continue with your training, ongoing training, it’s a perishable skill. You’ll lose it.” When Sawyer asked him, “How long before you’re going to lose it, even at your level of training?” Dorney answered, “If you go for a month to two months without training, you lose it.” A Time feature (1/16/13) that looked at how unpredictably even well-trained police respond to crisis situations came to similar conclusions.

The debate over the wisdom of wholesale arming of citizens for the purpose of self-defense is not a debate between two sides arguing “articles of faith,” and there is no shortage of facts. The verdict has been in for years: Guns, as they are bought and sold and regulated in U.S. society, do far more harm than good. And if we had a media culture where public health actually mattered in discussions of guns, the argument that they are helpful for protection or self-defense would be relegated to the margins.

The fabled but previously secret State Department intelligence memorandum that predicted, five months in advance, the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, has now emerged from classified vaults that were so obscure that even State Department historians and CIA FOIA officers could not penetrate them. Published for the first time today by the National Security Archive the INR memo from May 1973 warned Acting Secretary of State Kenneth Rush that there was a “better than even bet” that war between Egypt and Israel would occur “by autumn.”

According to the INR analysis, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat would initiate a war with Israel not for specific military objectives but to spur “big power” diplomatic intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict so that Egypt could regain the Sinai Peninsula lost in the 1967 War. On 6 October 1973 war broke out in the region.

The existence of this example of INR acuity has been known for years, but the document itself was surprisingly elusive. State Department historians preparing the official Foreign Relations of the United States series could not find a copy, even with their security clearances and access to classified files, and neither could CIA FOIA offices as recently as 2011.

The author of the INR paper, Roger Merrick, anticipated that if war unfolded, U.S. “interests” in the region would come under attack because of the close American-Israeli relationship. He anticipated the possible nationalizations of petroleum facilities, “efforts to displace US oil companies with those from Europe and Japan,” and “prolonged oil embargoes.” The prescient analyst did not discuss the implications of such a conflict for U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, which had close ties to Egypt and Syria (U.S.-Soviet relations was not his field), but he might have anticipated that it could lead to increased tensions, possibly even a crisis. Other intelligence organizations in the U.S. government disagreed with the estimate of war and the conflict came as a surprise to the U.S. and Israeli governments. A post-mortem of the intelligence failure characterized the INR paper as a “case of wisdom lost.”

A discussion of the INR memo was a highlight of a remarkable conference held at the Washington D.C. Cosmos Club in October 1998 on the war’s 25th anniversary. Organized by the late ambassador Richard Parker, the conference included a wide range of senior and mid-level former officials from Egypt, Syria, Israel, the United States, and the former Soviet Union, all of whom played important roles at the time, including ambassadors and generals and a KGB station chief (resident). The October 1973 intelligence failure was an important element of the discussion and a memorable moment was when INR’s former desk officer for Egypt, Roger Merrick, spoke on how he developed the estimate with input from INR colleagues David Mark and Philip Stoddard.[1]

For Merrick, the possibility of an early conflict was inherent in the dynamics of the situation. Egyptian leaders had tried to use diplomacy to recover territory in the Sinai Peninsula lost to Israeli forces during the June 1967 Six Day War. But the Israelis were unresponsive and U.S. diplomacy had gone nowhere. National security adviser Henry Kissinger was conducting backchannels with Sadat’s national security adviser but Kissinger had little to offer. By the spring of 1973, according to Merrick, Egyptian President Sadat had “established himself as a strong player, serious”; yet despite his push for a diplomatic resolution of the Sinai problem, he was “neglected, and in an intolerable position with his political alternatives exhausted.” Yet, his “forces were in place to launch hostilities and had not raised any significant alarm; thus the estimate that there was a better than even chance of major hostilities within six months.”

Analysts at the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern Affairs [NEA] rejected the INR view and according to Merrick, Kissinger tried to get the two offices to reconcile their views. Yet, despite the INR view, senior officials such as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Under Secretary of State Joseph Sisco felt no alarm because the Israelis kept assuring them that there was no danger. Kissinger did not tell anybody at the State Department that Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev had warned of war in the region during his visit to the United States in June 1973. The dispute between INR and NEA over the possibility of war, Merrick recounted, “continued throughout the summer and fall until hostilities erupted” and the estimate was vindicated. At the Cosmos Club meeting, Sisco recalled that when the war broke out U.S. government officials went back to their files and reread the prescient memorandum.

Taken in November 1973, this picture of the U.S. Intelligence Board, then chaired by Director of Central Intelligence William E. Colby, shows representatives of the organizations which collected and reviewed intelligence before and during the October 1973 War. INR Director, Ray Cline, who signed the memorandum predicting war by the autumn, sits fourth from left clockwise . (Photo, courtesy CIA History Staff)

INR analysts have often been on the money in significant decisions and inter-agency debates since the 1960s. In 1964, Allen Whiting predicted the strong likelihood of a Chinese atomic test which Secretary of State Dean Rusk announced to the world two weeks before the event. During theVietnam War INR analysts beginning with Lewis Sarris critically assessed the Pentagon’s evaluation of “progress” in South Vietnam. INR has not always been right and during the lead-up to the recent Iraq War apparently shared in the consensus that Sadam had been trying seriously to establish a biological and chemical warfare capability. Yet the Bureau was spectacularly right in its highly critical assessment of the most important claim in the Bush White House’s case for war: that Sadam was “reconstituting” a nuclear weapons capability. For example, on a key issue-the Iraqi purchase of aluminum tubes–INR dissented from the assertions in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that the tubes were for gas centrifuge enrichment technology for a nuclear weapons program.

Hide and Seek

Some of the instances of INR’s astuteness cited above are well documented but the estimate on the possibility of war in 1973 was difficult to locate. During the 1998 conference I spoke with Merrick and asked whether he had a copy of his INR paper or knew where it could be found. He assumed it would be in the Bureau’s retired files at the State Department. This conversation set off a 15-year on-again-off-again quest through archival research and FOIA requests to the State Department and the CIA, all of which proved in vain.

One trace of the document was found, however, in the intelligence community’s post-mortem of the October War intelligence failure, which the National Security Archive obtained from the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) in 2009 after a final mandatory review appeal. ISCAP heavily excised the discussion of COMINT and other sensitive intelligence sources and methods, but the release included a detailed account of the INR report, characterizing it as a “remarkable memorandum” and a “case of wisdom lost,” and quoting it at length. Plainly, the analysts of the “Intelligence Community Staff” that produced the post-mortem had access to the INR paper so I filed a new request to CIA to see if they could find a copy. Two years later, in 2011 the CIA reported that they could not find a copy.

In the meantime, State Department historians vainly tried to locate Merrick’s report. Craig Daigle, then a Ph.D. student at George Washington University’s history department, was working at the Department’s Office of the Historian. While completing work on the Foreign Relations of the United States compilation of primary sources documents on the October war, he tried to locate the document. Yet it remained elusive even to a skilled researcher like Daigle who had access to all the relevant classified files of the Department of State. To compensate for the gap, he memorialized the INR memo in an editorial note where he quoted from the excerpts in the intelligence community post-mortem (number 68 at pages 193-194.[2]

This story ends well but weirdly. In January 2013 the Nixon Presidential Library had a conference on the Nixon administration and the October War. Staffers in the CIA’s Historical Collections Division compiled a set of documents for the event, and the conference booklet includes a list of key documents. The present writer was astonished to see, on page 42, a capsule summary of the INR memorandum. On request, the CIA kindly provided the author a copy of the document, which is slated to appear in the on-line compilation at the CIA’s Web site.

How and where the CIA editors found the INR report remains a mystery. The first page of it shows that the State Department reviewed it for declassification in 2002 but that the CIA refused to declassify it, which seems absurd. For some 10 years it sat in an obscure paper or electronic file where State Department historians could not find it and where even the CIA’s FOIA researchers could not locate it. A perfect example of one hand not knowing what the other one was doing.

Somewhat shamelessly the CIA officials who reviewed this “case of wisdom lost” censored the names of its authors (see bottom of page 4). This is standard practice when CIA declassification reviewers scrutinize Agency intelligence reports-the names of the author/analyst are almost never declassified. But this is a State Department document and the names of the authors of INR reports are hardly even excised from records at the National Archives or in State Department FOIA releases. These are not CIA officials whose names are kept officially secret. But at least now we can be sure that Roger Merrick and his colleagues get full credit for their work.

THE DOCUMENTS

Document 1: Ray Cline [Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research] to Acting Secretary [Kenneth Rush], “Growing Risk of Egyptian Resumption of Hostilities With Israel,” 31 May 1973, Secret, excised copy

Source: Central Intelligence Agency

Document 2: U.S. Intelligence Community Staff, “The Performance of the Intelligence Community Before the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973: A Preliminary Post-Mortem Report,” December 1973, Top Secret, Excised copy

Source: release by Interagency Security Classification Appeal Panel in response to mandatory review request

The CIA has published the post-mortem in its October War on-line document collectionhttp://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/1973-12-20-CM.pdf but only the first 11 pages, leaving out the interesting retrospective on “The Analytic Effort” and the report’s recommendations.

 


NOTES

[1] Richard Paker, ed., The October War: A Retrospective (University Press of Florida, 2001), 113-116.

[2] Craig Daigle reviews pre-October War diplomatic and intelligence issues in his extraordinary book, based on his Ph.D. dissertation at George Washington University, The Limits of Détente : the United States, the Soviet Union, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1969-1973 (Yale University Press, 2012)

Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao warned this week, in his final report to the National Peoples Congress (NPC), that China faces a series of unresolved crises, ranging from a lack of access to basic healthcare and education, to a yawning gap between rich and poor, and an “unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable” economy.

A new leadership will be formally installed at the NPC, which opened on March 5. Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping, anointed by last November’s 18th party congress, will take over the presidency from Hu Jintao, while Vice Premier Li Keqiang will succeed Wen.

Efforts were made to disguise the gross social inequality that dominates the Chinese regime. In recent years, scenes of wealthy NPC delegates bearing mink coats, luxury European handbags and watches, or reports of their combined fortunes, totalling tens of billions of dollars, have fuelled popular anger in China. The NPC has become known as a “billionaires’ congress.” Xi’s new leadership recently warned of the fate suffered by the French aristocracy during the French Revolution. That is why luxury brands were reportedly absent among the NPC delegates arriving at Beijing’s Great Hall of People this year. (See: “China’s red aristocracy”)

Nevertheless, the NPC delegates include 83 billionaires, measured in US dollars. Another 53 billionaires are delegates to the advisory body meeting alongside the NPC, the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference.

Wen’s report reflected the needs and concerns of this tiny super-rich elite, including his own family, which has reportedly amassed $2.7 billion. These elements are deeply hostile to, and fearful of, the 400 million Chinese workers they exploit. “We are keenly aware that we still face many difficulties and problems,” Wen said, referring to the widening gulf between rich and poor, official corruption and environmental degradation. As a result, “social strains are clearly increasing.”

The danger of social unrest has increased as the global economic slump has overwhelmed the impact of Beijing’s stimulus measures since the global crash of 2008. Wen predicted economic growth this year of just 7.5 percent—down from last year’s actual growth of 7.8 percent, the slowest pace since 1999. Even this would be achieved only though “hard efforts”, he said. Such a growth rate, he claimed, would create nine million jobs in order to keep urban unemployment under control, mainly through shifting the government’s economic model from an export-led one, to one based on domestic consumption.

Wen stressed repeatedly the need to provide social protection to the poor, as a key mechanism to boost consumption. He said the government would spend 655 billion yuan on social welfare. “To expand individual consumption, we should enhance people’s ability to consume, keep their consumption expectations stable, boost their desire to consume, improve their consumption environment and make economic growth more consumption-driven,” he said.

In reality, the CCP bureaucracy cannot simply adopt a new economic model. China is a highly specialised cheap labour platform, geared to export production on behalf of transnational corporations. Higher wages could undermine the competitiveness of China’s export industries.

In fact, Wen’s government presided over the largest decline in consumption, as a share of the economy, in Chinese history. With millions of workers on poverty-line wages in order to boost export-led production, private consumption as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) fell to 33 percent in 2010, down from 46 percent in 2000. Physical capital investment surged to an unsustainable 40-50 percent of the GDP, compared to 20 percent in most developed countries.

Workers and poorer rural farmers, cannot become a new consuming force, not only because of their low incomes, but due to the lack of any social protection network to secure them from joblessness or illness. That forces them to save for their own retirement or inability to work.

The state-owned enterprises that once provided a minimal safety net to urban workers have largely disappeared since the massive privatisation program of the 1990s. Xi’s leadership is under instructions from the 18th party congress and international capital to open up the remaining state sectors to private ownership.

As for the 200 million internal migrant workers, who are part of the urban workforce but deprived of residency rights, education and other public services, their jobs and livelihoods depend on expanding the labour-intensive export industries. Yet, China’s main markets in Europe and America are mired in slump.

Wen set a growth target for foreign trade of just 8 percent, down from the 10 percent goal in 2012. Even that is optimistic—actual growth was only 6.2 percent last year, down from 22.5 percent in 2011. With rising competition from other low-wage platforms like India, and the drastic lowering of pay rates in Europe and America, Chinese exports can expand only by enforcing higher productivity and lower wages.

Because of a crisis of overcapacity, manufacturing capital has engaged heavily on real estate speculation, rather than production. As a result, economists are warning of a “nightmare scenario” for the Chinese economy. In a revealing sign of fragility, the Shanghai share market tumbled on the opening day of the NPC, with the property index down almost 10 percent during the day.

The sharp fall followed a government announcement of measures to curb real estate speculation. Following the stimulus package in 2008, housing prices soared 20 percent in 2009. Despite measures by the government in late 2011 to bring prices down, the deepening European debt turmoil last year forced the Chinese central bank to inject more credit into the economy, further pushing up home prices, which are already beyond the reach of most people.

Mark Williams of London’s Capital Economics recently noted in China Daily that 11 million housing units were built in 2012, yet it was “the sector’s most difficult year on record”. That was because a small wealthy layer bought most units as investments, rather than residences. If the building rate continued, “that would leave a colossal glut of housing that could only be sold if prices collapsed,” he commented.

Tom Holland of the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post warned that China faced a crisis of “stagflation”: “If they keep the credit taps open, the asset bubbles and the inflation rate will only get worse. If they close off the supply of credit and tighten monetary policy, growth will slow even further, asset prices will collapse, and they run the risk that many of the new loans will turn bad, triggering a banking crisis that could weigh on growth rates for years to come.”

With these economic and social contradictions looming, the regime is assembling a massive repressive apparatus to suppress unrest. For the third consecutive year, the domestic security budget of $124 billion (up 8.7 percent) outstripped military spending of $114 billion (up 10.7 percent) and also Wen’s proposed social welfare spending of $105 billion. These economic priorities demonstrate that Beijing’s greatest fear is not US military encirclement or the revival of Japanese militarism, but an uprising by the working class at home.

John Brennan, the mastermind of the Obama administration’s drone assassination program, was confirmed by the US Senate as CIA director on Thursday by a vote of 63 to 34. The confirmation, which comes as no surprise, is another step in the direction of extra-constitutional, dictatorial rule in the United States.

Four years ago, Brennan was considered by Barack Obama for the CIA position, but his association with torture under George W. Bush made his nomination “politically difficult,” as the New York Times euphemistically puts it. The Obama administration today, along with the US Congress, has no such qualms.

The vast majority of Democrats in the Senate voted for Brennan’s nomination, along with a handful of Republicans. Obama immediately praised the vote, saying, “The Senate has recognized in John the qualities I value so much.”

The vote followed a quarrel within the political establishment over the claim by the Obama administration that it has the authority to assassinate American citizens on US soil without trial or charges being laid. The tremors the debate set off are indicative of the depth of the political crisis in the US and the great concern of the ruling elite to conceal its preparations for police-state dictatorship from the American population.

In a March 4 letter to Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, US Attorney General Eric Holder declared that the Obama administration considered itself empowered “to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States” against American citizens.

At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Holder agreed with Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, that the American government had been given Congressional authorization to launch military attacks against opponents in “the homeland.”

On Wednesday Paul carried out a 13-hour filibuster, which blocked Brennan’s confirmation vote, insisting on a response from the attorney general as to whether government officials believed they had had the right to kill American citizens without due process.

During his filibuster, Paul raised the explosive issue of whether the Obama administration considered it had the authority to launch drone strikes on political opponents, pointing to the anti-Vietnam War protest movement as an example. The Kentucky Republican asked at one point, “Is objection to the policy of your government sympathizing with the enemy? … Are you just going to drop a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?”, referring to the actress who opposed American imperialist intervention in Southeast Asia during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Rand is a right-wing figure, associated with “libertarian” elements, and a dedicated enemy of the working class and social progress. However, he was asking questions that provoked consternation within the Obama administration and Congress, because they got too close to the heart of the matter for comfort: that Holder’s March 4 letter was a green light, for example, under conditions of widespread social turmoil, for the president to suppress political opposition through murder.

At a Thursday press briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney revealed that Attorney General Holder had written a second, three-sentence letter to Paul. This is the entire text:

“Dear Senator Paul: It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”

Carney told the media, “The president has not and would not use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil.”

Holder’s dismissive and arrogant letter should be treated with the skepticism and contempt it deserves.

First of all, his new message contradicts the March 4 letter, responding to a question specifically about drone strikes, in which Holder wrote that it was indeed possible “to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force [i.e., drones] within the territory of the United States.”

Second, the March 7 letter takes for granted that the US president has the right to order the assassination of just about anyone, anywhere, except for American citizens on US soil not engaged in combat. This is already a radically authoritarian and reactionary claim, only made by imperial rulers, who determine by a hand signal who lives and who dies.

Is there any reason to have the slightest confidence in Holder’s supposed change of heart? The denial comes from an administration carrying out illegal and murderous daily drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, which have already killed US citizens, on the basis of infamous “kill lists.” The Obama government, moreover, has maintained the institutionalized torture in Guantanamo Bay and relentlessly attempted to destroy Bradley Manning. No one should doubt its willingness and capacity to launch attacks, pre-emptive or otherwise, on political opposition within the United States.

In any event, the phrase “engaged in combat” is elastic enough, from the point of view of the American establishment, to include mass protest, political strikes and efforts to create new, more democratic organs of political power. Moreover, the US military regularly categorizes as “combatants” anyone it kills, deliberately or accidentally, in air or drone strikes. Will the Pentagon stop telling lies at the borders of the United States?

Holder’s second letter reflects nervousness about popular opposition to the government’s claims of dictatorial power, but should do nothing to assuage it. There were other efforts on Thursday to close down and cool off the debate.

Paul’s reference to the possible murder of Jane Fonda elicited angry and anxious comments from Graham and Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, both of whom have close associations with the military and intelligence apparatus.

McCain attacked Rand Paul for his “rant,” adding: “I don’t think what happened yesterday was helpful to the American people.” According to the Associated Press, McCain “derided that notion of an attack against the actress [Fonda] and argued that Paul was unnecessarily making Americans fear that their government poses a danger.”

The Arizona senator continued, “To somehow allege or infer that the president of the United States is going to kill somebody like Jane Fonda or somebody who disagrees with the policies is a stretch of imagination which is, frankly, ridiculous.” In fact, Holder’s letter and the ensuing discussions make crystal clear that such things are already being discussed by the White House, military and CIA.

Graham criticized Republicans who took the opportunity to grandstand at Obama’s expense by supporting Rand’s filibuster. The South Carolina Senator said that Obama had the “good judgment to understand we’re at war. To my party: I’m a bit disappointed that you no longer apparently think we’re at war.” He also said on the Senate floor, “To my Republican colleagues, I don’t remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone.”

Graham was effusive in his praise for the Obama administration during Wednesday’s hearings involving Holder. On Thursday, he called the vote for Brennan a “referendum on the drone program.”

Paul, for his part, once he received the terse reply from the attorney general and after the scolding from McCain and Graham, packed up his tent and described himself as satisfied and “victorious.” Ridiculously, he told the media, “I’m quite happy with the answer [i.e., Holder’s letter] …Through the advise and consent process, I’ve got an important answer.”

That US senators are openly discussing the assassination of left-wing political opponents is absolutely extraordinary. This, along with the bipartisan support for Obama, the drone program and Brennan’s nomination, are a further dire warning about the state of political affairs in the US, increasingly a democracy in name only.

The so-called “Syrian rebels” have taken dozens of UN peacekeepers hostage, demanding the Syrian Army withdraw its troops from its own nation’s territory. The UN has confirmed that their peacekeepers are indeed being held hostage by what they call “rebels,” and has demanded their release.

Despite this overt, criminal act of terrorism directed at the UN, the West has spun, downplayed, and otherwise ignored the incident, an incident that had the Syrian Army been behind, would have invoked howling indignation, frothing condemnation, and in all likelihood, full-scale military intervention.

Image: Several of over 20 UN peacekeepers taken hostage by terrorists operating in Syria – operating with Western cash, arms, and immense, continuous political and media support. The inability of the West to condemn and recognize the so-called “rebels” as intolerable terrorists, ravaging an entire nation, inflicting death, injury and suffering upon tens of millions, is indicative of a West that has resigned entirely its legitimacy, and even feigned interest in the impartial application of international law. Worst of all, the West had purposefully planned this orgy of terror since 2007, not for promoting “democracy,” but specifically to undermine and destroy neighboring Iran. 

….

Instead, the US Secretary of State John Kerry awarded the terrorists a whopping $60 million in what he called “non-lethal aid.” The UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague also pledged support, including sending armor, vehicles and even weapons directly to the hostage-taking terrorists.  This substantial and continuous torrent of cash, equipment, and weapons is sent to Al Qaeda terrorists even as both the US and UK sink in unprecedented domestic budget crises.

The West’s Arab collaborators, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have led the Arab World in offering these verified Al Qaeda terrorists Syria’s seat in the Arab League. The Arab League has given the green light (officially) to begin directly and openly arming the terrorists, though they have been arming them since at least 2007.

As the West coddles terrorists who are more overtly committing atrocities, both against the Syrian people, along Syria’s peripheries, and even against international observers including the United Nations, they shed the remainder of their legitimacy. In fact, a US State Department, a British Foreign Office, and even a UN who refuses to condemn and entirely break off relations with an organization that takes hostages amidst a myriad of other atrocities documented over the past 2 years, already has absolutely no legitimacy.

The people of the West must realize their governments have descended into a dangerous psychosis and has abandoned even a face-value commitment to maintaining a rule of law. A nation not confined by law, or even attempting to pretend to be, is a nation capable of anything, on any scale, at any time.

The people of the West now reside in nations far beyond the red line. Now, more than ever, people must begin making hard decisions about their lifestyles and their patronizing of the West’s corporate-financier monopolies. It is not the government or the individuals that constitute it that drive this agenda. It is the corporate-financier interests that create policy think-tanks, that literally write the scripts congressmen, presidents, secretaries and ministers read from – corporate-financier interests we patronize on a daily basis.

While we cannot change the current, perhaps terminal unraveling of Western civilization overnight, we can begin with small but significant steps in rolling back our dependency on corporate-financier monopolies by boycotting them and replacing them. Even a miniscule percentage of change in our lifestyles, month to month will have a profound, collective effect on usurping the unwarranted influence that has granted these insidious interests free reign over the planet and humanity. Decentralizing these monopolies is the ultimate goal, but will take hard work and patience – but it is a goal that most certainly can be achieved, and in many parts of the world it is already being achieved.

If we read the news of hostage-taking terrorists being showered with millions of our tax dollars and being allowed to destroy an entire nation after our own soldiers paid in blood to fight them in a 10 year faux “War on Terror” and are angered, searching desperately for a solution – getting self-sufficient, and decentralizing this war machine, thus returning the reins of power back to the people is that solution. That is real revolution.

The problems in Syria may seem distant, even if absolutely outrageous, but it is a symptom of a sickness our Western governments, amongst us, involved in our daily lives, suffer from. Refusal to treat the illness now, as it ravages Syria, will only allow it to get worse until it inevitably visits upon us the same unhinged hypocritical insanity it is now unleashing on the Syrian people. The fate of the Syrian people is indeed tied directly to our own wealth, prosperity, peace, and well-being. Failing to realize that is folly we shall pay for many generations to come.

“The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the ‘dirty wars’ in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents,” The Guardian reports. “These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.”

After a 15-month investigation, The Guardian and the BBC Arabic has published its findings about the torture and atrocities organized and committed by US officials reporting directly to the highest echelons of the US government, including General David Petraeus.

“I remember a 14-year-old who was tied to one of the library’s columns,” said General Muntadher al-Samari, one of the Bush administration’s Iraqi proxies who helped run the torture centers. “And he was tied up, with his legs above his head. Tied up. His whole body was blue because of the impact of the cables with which he had been beaten.”

The report was “sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centers run by the police commandos across Iraq.”

Antiwar.com reported on some of those leaks at the time: On May 30, 2006, the WikiLeaks releases revealed, “a joint US-Iraqi inspection” of an Iraqi detention facility “discovered more than 1,400 detainees in squalid, cramped conditions,” many of whom were illegally detained. Prisoners “displayed bruising, broken bones, and lash-marks, many claimed to have been hung by handcuffs from a hook in the ceiling and beaten on the soles of their feet and their buttocks.”

The inspectors found a torture contraption where ”a hook…on the ceiling of an empty room at the facility” was “attached [to] a chain-and-pulley system ordinarily used for lifting vehicles” and that “apparent bloodspots stained the floor underneath.” All 41 prisoners interviewed by US inspectors had reported being tortured and 37 juveniles were held illegally.

Rape and sexual abuse, primarily of young teenagers, was also widespread. “A number of juvenile detainees,” reads the cable, “alleged…that interrogators had used threats and acts of anal rape to induce confessions and had forced juveniles to fellate them during interrogations.”

Other instances of close cooperation between the US and abusive Iraqi forces in the MOI have been previously uncovered and the Iraq War Logs published by WikiLeaks revealed a secret US military order to ignore cases of torture and abuse by Iraqi interrogators.

The Guardian has compiled their findings into a 50-minute documentary which can be viewed here.

Poison in the Food Chain: The Health Impacts of Aspartame

March 8th, 2013 by Global Research News

The big health news from this past week is the petitioning of the FDA by two very powerful dairy organizations, The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), to allow aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to be added to milk and other dairy products without a label.

Aspartame, also known by the brand name Nutrasweet, is made up of three components: 50% phenylalanine (a chemical that affects human brain activity by transmitting impulses), 40% aspartic acid and 10% methanol (poisonous wood alcohol).

Based on the FDA’s track record in handling the aspartame issue, things are not looking good to stop approval of this outrageous measure.

For one, back in 1996 when aspartame was first approved for use in thousands of food products, the FDA used 15 “pivotal” studies as the basis for its decision.

One of these pivotal studies involved oral dosage of aspartame to infant Rhesus monkeys for 52 weeks.   The research was conducted by the University of Wisconsin Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

milk at store

The monkeys were divided into three groups.   A low dose group which received 1.0 g of aspartame/kg of body weight per day, a medium dose group receiving 3.0g/kg per day and a high dose group receiving 4-6 g/kg per day.

The high dose group ended up ingesting about the same amount as the medium dose group as the high dose monkeys would not consume intended levels of aspartame possibly because it was too sweet at that amount.   There was no control group.

The monkeys in this study were served their aspartame in an orally consumed milk based formula.

Starting about 7 months (218 days) into the experiment, ALL the medium and high dose monkeys began having brain seizures.

“All animals in the medium and high dosage groups exhibited seizure activity. Seizures were observed for the first time following 218 days of treatment… The seizures were of the grand mal type… One monkey, m38, of the high dose group, died after 300 days of treatment. The cause of death was not determined…”

Grand mal seizures also known as tonic clonic seizures are horrific –  a very dangerous seizure which affects the entire brain.

The low dose monkeys might have started to have seizures as well, but the death of one of the researchers, H. A. Waisman, caused a lack of staffing for the study.  As a result, the low dose monkeys were withdrawn from the group at 200 days which is before the seizures in the medium and high dose group began occurring.

As soon as the aspartame was withdrawn from the monkey’s diets, the seizures stopped.

How the FDA could call a study “pivotal” for approving aspartame’s use in thousands of products where every single monkey suffered from grand mal seizures and one died while consuming milk based formula containing this artificial sweetener is incomprehensible.

According to Robert Cohen of Oradell, New Jersey, who rediscovered this study which was reported in 1972, the dairy formula/aspartame milk which the monkeys ingested would have been a key reason for the brain seizures.

Cohen, who holds a degree in brain chemistry, suggests that the ingestion of dairy has the effect of elevating the pH of the stomach.  He contends that drinking a single 12 oz. glass of milk would have the effect of buffering the pH of the human stomach from 2 to 6.

When the stomach pH is 6, Cohen explains that the simple proteins that comprise aspartame would pass through undigested and hence move into the blood intact. 

Testing of the monkeys in this study showed that there was in fact phenylalanine (which comprises 50% of aspartame) in their blood which proves that it is absorbed.  Phenylalanine affects human brain activity by transmitting impulses and the brain seizures started occurring after this compound was detected in the monkey’s blood.

With aspartame, aka Nutrasweet, already used but still included on the label of many dairy products, it’s not a big leap for the FDA to take it to unlabeled status based on the petition from Big Dairy.

This is especially probable given the FDA’s backward interpretation of the Rhesus monkey study which it called “pivotal” in proving human safety and yet all the monkeys suffered from grand mal seizures while ingesting aspartame laced dairy formula.

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Sources: Aspartame in Milk Without a Label?  Big Dairy Petitions FDA for Approval

FDA Pivotal Safety Study: Aspartame Caused Brain Seizures

52 Week Oral Toxicity Infant Monkey Study

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