Syria: Diplomacy and the Ongoing Danger of a U.S. Attack

September 16th, 2013 by Larry Everest

Developments concerning Syria continue to move very quickly. On Saturday, September 14, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced their governments had reached an agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

It reportedly called for the Syrian government to disclose its chemical weapons stockpile within a week, and for international inspectors to be on the ground in Syria by November to enforce the agreement.

This comes less than a week after President Barack Obama was openly preparing for a military assault on Syria and following a week of intense political and diplomatic struggle on the international stage and within the U.S. ruling class—as well as widespread opposition to war among the people.

The agreement is being spun as, and might mean, the threat of a U.S. military strike has receded—at least for the time being. (The U.S., Russia, and other world powers may also be struggling out other, broader plans concerning Syria and the Middle East behind the scenes.) At the same time, the rulers of the U.S. and their media are working to set terms where at any moment they can declare that the Syrians or other parties are not living up to whatever the U.S. says has been agreed on, and the U.S. could launch a military strike justified with claims that they had gone the last mile in diplomacy first.

This latest turn toward an internationally imposed “diplomatic” approach to the horrific crisis in Syria was greeted by many progressives with a sigh of relief, labeling it a rejection of war in favor of diplomacy. William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: “It is a refreshing change of pace to see diplomacy at work after so many years of bomb first and ask questions later…” Or Robert Naiman, also on Truthout: “With War Off the Table, It’s Time for Syria Cease-Fire, Negotiations and Talking to Iran.” Then a joint statement by Jesse Jackson and Phyllis Bennis: “From War to Peace: Forceful Diplomacy, Not Military Force in Syria.” (Common Dreams and elsewhere)

This is NOT what’s happening. Whatever agreements are being hammered out by that cabal of rival imperialist states, big powers, and other reactionary regimes otherwise known as the United Nations or the “international community” are being done to suit their interests, not those of humanity. So fairy tales and delusions about turning from “war to peace,” and the wonders of “diplomacy at work” aren’t hopeful—they’re harmful! The only thing they will disarm—politically and ideologically—are those people who are influenced by them, obscuring reality and weakening resistance.

First, events—which have been unfolding very rapidly—could bring the “military option” front and center again, and Obama has made clear that military action is still “on the table”—with or without UN authorization.

Second, what is taking place is not a step toward eliminating horrific weapons of mass destruction. What’s taking place is that the tyrannical, murderous regime of a small, oppressed country is being forced under threat of bombardment to partially disarm by reactionary powers with far, far, far greater arsenals of death and destruction—including nuclear weapons that are qualitatively more savage and dangerous than chemical weapons—precisely in order to preserve their monopoly over these weapons of cataclysmic death and destruction.

Third, the Obama team may be calculating that because it lacks any good or easy options in Syria, striking this deal can be to its advantage, including because by appearing to “give peace a chance” it can build greater support for a possible military assault later if that is deemed necessary.

Fourth, as all this—and decades of history—shows, U.S. diplomacy, negotiations, and arms inspections—like military actions—are all about imperialism, nothing else. They don’t represent an attempt to arrive at a “fair” or “just” resolution of conflicts or to abolish weapons of mass destruction. Conducting diplomacy, and seeking various negotiated agreements, including at times around arms inspections and disarmament, are all part of the “tool kit” the U.S. employs to carry out and advance its global interests and strategy for domination and control. Nor do these means represent a repudiation of military violence—just the opposite. These efforts are based on, backed up, and enforced by the threat or use of military force—and they can murder just as many people as wars can!

Lessons from Iraq: The “Price” of Sanctions & Weapons Inspections

In light of the agreement for the “international community” to supervise the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, it’s important to learn from the experience of U.S. and UN “diplomacy” and “arms inspections” in Iraq from 1990 to 2003. This is a case study in what imperialist diplomacy, agreements, and “arms control” are really all about—and what they mean for the people!

In 1990, draconian economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq, supposedly simply to force it to withdraw from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in August.

In April 1991, following 43 days of massive bombardment, the U.S.-led coalition forced Iraq, then under Saddam Hussein, to agree to UN Resolution 687, forcing it to reveal and destroy its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs, and to submit to extremely intrusive international inspections to verify compliance.

Iraq‘s alleged failure to fully comply with UN Resolution 687 and fully cooperate with UN weapons inspectors were the primary rationalizations for 12 murderous years of U.S.-imposed economic sanctions and near-war with Iraq. In 2002-2003, these charges morphed into the Bush regime’s primary justification for preemptive war.

In fact, within six months of the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi weapons programs were being discovered and destroyed. Iraq may have destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction by the early 1990s, according to a high-level defector, and certainly by the late 1990s. In October 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iraq had provided it with a “full, final, and complete” account of its nuclear weapons programs, and that the agency had found no evidence of any prohibited nuclear activities since October 1997.

A year later, the UN Security Council’s disarmament panel concluded, “Although important elements still have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated.” In 2001, President Clinton’s Defense Secretary William Cohen told the incoming Bush administration that “Saddam Hussein’s forces are in a state where he cannot pose a threat to his neighbors at this point. We have been successful, through the sanctions regime, to really shut off most of the revenue that will be going to build his—rebuild his military.”

This is why the U.S. found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—repeat zero, nada—when they conquered Iraq in 2003 even though U.S. inspectors scoured the country for months. In other words, Iraq had been telling the truth about weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. had been lying. The U.S. wasn’t just lying before the 2003 war—it had been lying for the whole decade of the 1990s about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. This was no “intelligence failure”—these were deliberate, conscious, carefully crafted LIES!

This should have meant that sanctions were lifted. UN Resolution 687 stated that upon “completion” of its disarmament obligations, sanctions “shall have no further force or effect.” But sanctions were never lifted, even when inspections showed that Iraq had disarmed.

Instead, during those years, members of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with carrying out weapons inspections (37 percent of whom were U.S. personnel) also spied on Iraq—including planting covert, high tech listening devices to monitor Iraqi government and military communications, including Saddam Hussein’s movements. This intelligence was used in a June 1996 attempted coup, and in a December 1998 attempt to assassinate Hussein with cruise missile strikes.

Richard Butler, the head of UNSCOM in 1997-98, talked with President Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor Sandy Berger on a daily basis. Butler even cleared his reports with the U.S. UNSCOM inspectors when they conducted surprise inspections (violating protocols worked out with Iraq) aimed at provoking confrontations, which were then seized upon by the U.S. to claim Iraq was not complying with inspections. This was part of a constant drumbeat of pre-2001 propaganda that Hussein was cheating on inspections, not upholding his promises, etc., etc., all of which was used to justify war.

Why did the U.S. refuse to acknowledge Iraqi cooperation and disarmament? Why did it refuse to lift sanctions, but instead use arms inspections as a means to attack Hussein’s regime? Because imperialist objectives guided what the U.S. did in Iraq, not international law or UN resolutions. And those imperialist objectives included weakening Iraq as a regional power and overthrowing Saddam Hussein as part of maintaining U.S. regional dominance—not simply stripping Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. maintained sanctions because it hoped to make life so miserable for the population that Iraqis would rise up (preferably via a military coup) and topple the Hussein regime—shoring up U.S. regional control and demonstrating its power in the process.

This also meant protecting critical cornerstones of U.S.-Middle East predominance—Israel and Egypt. Israel has nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Egypt has chemical weapons. Yet neither country was criticized, sanctioned, or compelled to give up its weapons of mass destruction even though Resolution 687 claimed that disarming Iraq was part of creating a “nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region” and ridding it of all weapons of mass destruction.

“A Legitimized Act of Mass Slaughter”

What was the result of a decade of sanctions following the horrific U.S. bombing of 1991?

I visited Iraq shortly after the 1991 war was over to report for Revolution and make the documentary short film, Iraq—War Against the People. Dr. Ameed Hamid, director of Iraq’s Red Crescent Society, told me in June 1991, “Since the war, Iraqi children have been exposed to biological warfare, massive biological warfare. When you destroy the infrastructure of a country, sewage with all its germs will flow into the streets; you stop pure water from reaching the children; you give them malnutrition; you prevent medicines from reaching the country. So it’s an excellent environment for death and disease.”

A 1999 survey by UNICEF and Iraq’s Ministry of Health found that the rate of infant mortality among children under five living in south and central Iraq (where 85 percent of the population lives) had risen from 56 per 1,000 live births in 1984-1989 to 131 between 1994-1999—and was continuing to rise over time. UNICEF’s estimate of the staggering death toll: 500,000 or more.

Thus, Iraqi children under five were dying at more than twice the rate they were before the 1991 Gulf War. That’s roughly 5,000 Iraqi children under five dying each month thanks to U.S. actions: a World Trade Center catastrophe and more every 30 days.

Fairfield University Professor Joy Gordon summed up that U.S. policymakers had turned UN sanctions into “a legitimized act of mass slaughter.” In 2002, the Iraqi government stated that 1.7 million children had died from disease or malnutrition since the imposition of sanctions in August 1990.

In 1996, U.S. Ambassador to the UN and soon-to-be Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made it clear that U.S. officials were well aware of the toll in Iraqi lives U.S. actions had taken, and they had no real qualms about it. During a CBS 60 Minutes interview, host Leslie Stahl asked her about the impact of sanctions: “We have heard that half a million Iraqi children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And—and you know, is the price worth it?” Albright’s answer: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”

Larry Everest is a correspondent for Revolution newspaper, where this article first appeared, and author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda (Common Courage 2004).  He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Canada: Beyond the Economic Crisis: The Crisis In Trade Unionism

September 16th, 2013 by Prof. Sam Gindin

Discussions on the left about the economy might be summarized as warning that things are going to get a lot worse before they get…worse. This is not just a matter of the sustained attacks on the labour movement but as much a reflection of the crisis within labour. For some three decades now, labour has been stumbling on, unable to organizationally or ideologically rebut the attacks summarized as ‘neoliberalism.’ Though the Great Financial Crisis held out the promise of finally exposing the right and its supporters and potentially opening the door to a union offensive and possible revival, the attacks on labour actually intensified and labour continues to have no coherent counter-response. As a prelude to directly addressing that impasse in labour, it is useful to begin with something that Greg Alborecently posed: What is the larger historical significance of this particular crisis?Though cyclical downturns are common in capitalism, structural crises are of relatively rare occurrence, generally separated by a generation or so (30 years or more).[1] Such crises reflect social and institutional barriers that block capitalism’s normal continuation, and the question for capital and capitalist states then becomes what, if anything, might take capitalism to a new stage that allows for the resumption of its drive. For example, the outcome of the crisis that began at the end of the 1960s and ran through the 1970s was first and foremost that the earlier strength of labour was broken. As well, finance was liberalized, globalization was accelerated, and the state was restructured – not weakened or withdrawn – to the end of establishing more autonomy from popular pressures and therefore actually emerging stronger in terms of supporting private accumulation. The resolution of that crisis, in short, set the conditions and contradictions that frame the crisis we face today.[2]

Managing the Crisis

Four aspects of this present crisis seem especially significant. First, in spite of the domestic and international turmoil there has been remarkably little challenge to globalization and free trade. Contrast this with the last time we had a crisis this deep, in the 1930s, when protectionist sentiments were strong and common, and capitalism as an international system seemed threatened. Yet today, no country has placed existing global capitalism on the agenda.[3] The focus has rather been that, with globalization taken for granted, how to contain (i.e. manage) crises, particularly the financial crises linked to the expansion of global capitalism.

The second facet of this crisis is that in spite of a general understanding that private bankers and other financial institutions were responsible for the crisis, the solution to the crisis is not to weaken but strengthen them and to develop the state capacities to limit – not end – future volatility. This is not a matter of stupidity or corruption (though both play a role!), but a reflection of the structural importance of finance to capitalism as a whole. We often separate finance from the rest of the system and describe it as a speculative parasite (as Jim Stanford tended to do in an otherwise valuable contribution). But if that were the case, we should have expected divisions within the capitalist class as industrial capital, suffering in terms of stagnating markets, joined the attack on finance. Instead, there has been remarkably little evidence of splits between financial capital and the rest.

This reflects the extent to which finance and industry are in fact tightly integrated. It is not so much that large industrial corporations need daily credit since they have more profits and cash than they know what to do with. Rather, their alliance with financial capital is rooted in the importance of credit to mergers and restructuring as well as for venture capital for establishing new firms; the need on the part of global corporations for specialized financial services to ease trade and limit exchange rate risks and other uncertainties; the discipline financial markets impose on workers, states, and capital itself to be true to the priorities of profits and private capital accumulation; and – in the case of the U.S. – the special access to the world’s savings that financial markets provide American capital and the American state. Finance and industry are therefore not antagonistic. The contradiction that does exist is that though all of capital would like finance to be less volatile and more orderly, they don’t want to see it regulated to the point that they lose the advantages that global finance has brought them.

A third aspect of the crisis involves the tendencies across countries toward a more authoritarian state. This has been most dramatic in Europe where external institutions have placed ‘technical experts’ at the head of government to carry out ‘reforms’ but is also seen in the legislation essentially trying to outlaw protest in the student strike in Quebec. This is part of a more general trend toward states gaining more autonomy from the electorate to do what’s necessary for capital accumulation. And it has especially emerged in regard to the fourth aspect, downsizing social services and attacking public sector unions, generally the last standing bastion of trade unionism and an irritant, if not a barrier, to state restructuring plans.

Defeat of Labour

In this regard, the story of labour’s defeat doesn’t go back just to the 1970s but to the immediate postwar period when the left inside and outside the labour movement was marginalized. In spite of that political defeat, trade unionism still had the economic strength to make gains, real gains, for a while. But that defeat of the left came with a loss of capacities critical to understanding, strategizing, and mobilizing. And when capitalism changed and now identified past labour gains as a barrier to continued progress, labour’s capacity to resist had been significantly eroded. So the second defeat of labour, taking place through the 1980s and 1990s, shifted from the defeat of a small but influential left inside labour to trade unionism as a whole, especially in the private sector. Today, states are trying to consolidate and complete that defeat by going after the public sector and ensuring that it does not inspire any positive examples for private sector workers.

A central aspect of this three decades long assault on the labour movement has been a profound lowering of expectations. The intensification of competition from the Global South seems to have set boundaries on worker demands, even though most of our trade is still with the developed countries and most workers are now employed in private and public services, sectors not directly limited by trade. Greater globalization seemed to place possible government responses beyond the reach of domestic politics, even though it was states that endorsed globalization (and can potentially also check it). The state-endorsed defeats workers suffered left many workers frustrated but the general impact was to redefine and lower what they considered ‘success.’ The world we criticized so strongly a short while ago was now nostalgically looked on more favourably.

Herman Rosenfeld has captured this shift when he asks why responses that seemed so obvious in an earlier era are now so out of bounds (like rejecting a plant takeover at Caterpillar in 2012 when twenty years earlier the union – with less provocation – acted so decisively to take over another Caterpillar facility). This shift in what is possible in terms of both goals and tactics highlights the cultural change in the labour movement. Talk to any worker and you don’t have to convince them that capitalism doesn’t work for them. They know that, but believe they just can’t do anything about it. Confidence in resistance, let alone change, is at an all-time low. Fatalism is now the dominant mood and the main barrier to fighting back.

To some the stagnation of trade unions is often explained in terms of bureaucratization and the thin democracy characteristic of unions (even though relative to other institutions, union democracy still compares very favourably). But as significant as such aspects are, they do not get to the core of the ‘union problem.’ As Steve Tufts and Mark Thomas have noted in their discussion of populism, you can have a very militant and democratic movement but it can also end up being very particularistic (‘militant particularism,’ in the phrase used by Raymond Williams and elaborated by David Harvey).[4] Workers can, for example, demand militancy but also insist that their union concentrate entirely and narrowly on defending the workers that finance its operations and not only ignore the plight of other workers such as the poor or new immigrants but even join in the attacks on them. Such sectionalism highlights the fact that though unions emerged out of the working-class, they are not class organizations in the sense of representing the class as a whole.

That sectionalism is directly tied to the issue of bureaucratization and limited democracy. If members see their unions as insurance agencies – instrumental organizations paid for by dues – they won’t be looking for more participation but only that they get the service ‘contracted for.’ Correspondingly, leaders don’t see much priority in developing and mobilizing the capacities of workers – never mind raising expectations and putting more pressure on themselves – and so look to developing only that level of democracy, tempered by ‘loyalty,’ to achieve gains sufficient to avoid bringing their leadership into question.

Absent a class perspective unions can today neither defend their members nor come to grips with how to renew themselves.

There was a time when that narrow solidarity of unions didn’t hinder unions all that much; they made gains and those gains even spread to other workers and the community. But that era is over. The notion that workers can survive and defend past achievements, let alone make new gains, through just looking after their own with no larger understanding of the common attacks all workers face and their mutual dependence on the rest of the working-class, is now daily exposed. Absent a class perspective unions can today neither defend their members nor come to grips with how to renew themselves.

Organizing In the Time of Crisis

Let’s start with organizing. Only a broader sense of building the class will lead to the commitment of resources and energy to unionize in the present hostile climate. Moreover, making breakthroughs in the new sectors where the majority of workers are now employed is unlikely to occur without cooperation across unions. The present competition for union dues dollars blocks such cooperation and ends up undermining each union. It too can only come from recognizing that the issue isn’t the growth of any particular institution – Canadian Auto Workers, United Steel Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees or Ontario Public Service Employees Union – but rather that of building the entire working-class as a social force. And it is only when we start with a class perspective that other creative approaches, like bringing individual workers into a union culture whether or not they have a bargaining unit, are placed on the agenda and might have a chance to succeed.[5]

A similar point applies to bargaining. In the 2012 round of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) bargaining with the city of Toronto, individual CUPE locals bargained with the municipal state. It was obvious enough that the bargaining had ramifications for all CUPE members and of course workers beyond CUPE. Yet there was no explicit acknowledgment that individual locals can’t win against the state and that coordination across the union – itself a step toward winning other workers and their communities over – was paramount. A coordinated strategy might have put the library workers, the workers with the greatest support, first out of the gate. It might have then contemplated selective tactical strikes, escalating to mass mobilizations and eventually bringing in the rest of the public sector while also mobilizing the community around the services provided.

The point is that the only way union renewal can happen in the public sector is first, to recognize what workers are up against, the extent to which the state is determined to isolate them, and that the union isn’t confronting an ‘employer’ but the state itself. Second, and on the basis of such understandings, unions must establish themselves as the leaders in the fight to defend and expand social services. This is not easy; it requires a transformation of everything about public sector unions.

It is not a matter of simply passing strong resolutions and putting up expensive billboards. The public is – understandably – too cynical to be moved by public relations alone. Rather, it means rethinking union strategic priorities, rethinking the role of staff and their subsequent training, and coming to see union members as potential organizers for moving the public and shifting research and education to that end. It means not just defensively insisting that the public sector is ‘good’ but also being at the forefront of criticizing its bureaucratization and waste through acting as whistleblowers actively defending the public. And it even means moving to place the level, quality and administration of social services on the bargaining table (in the last municipal strike, for example, might not the municipal workers have emerged more successful, with greater protection for their members, if their primary bargaining demand – the one they might strike for – was keeping garbage services public rather than handing them over to profit-hungry and service-poor multinational corporations?).

Finally, it means creatively addressing the contradiction that traditional strike tactics now isolate workers from the public while it is so crucial to win that public over: e.g. dumping garbage during strikes not in parks but on Bay Street (Toronto’s financial district) to make the connection between austerity and finance; continuing bus service but not collecting fares; delivering, as CUPW did in the 1990s, pension and welfare checks even though on strike.[6]

A class perspective is likewise central to union renewal in the private sector. Here the fundamental issue revolves around jobs. The function of unions is to negotiate the sale of labour power yet the greatest concern of workers is something unions have little or no input into – the existence of jobs in the first place. Unless unions can deal with workers’ prime concern, union renewal can’t happen and even the bargaining position of unions will be further eroded as workers, facing the alternative of indefinite unemployment or a very much inferior level of pay and benefits, end up vulnerable to making concessions in a vain attempt to protect their jobs.[7]

Dealing With the Jobs Issue

A number of things follow from any emphasis on seriously dealing with the jobs issue. Toby Sanger has noted that in not adequately reinvesting its profits in decent jobs, the private sector is openly admitting that it can’t provide decent jobs for everyone. Jobs must therefore depend on an expanded public sector, including into spaces that were formerly seen as inherently private. That is, it’s not just a matter of keeping health care in the public domain and not outsourcing it, but also thinking in new ways about sectors like auto. For one thing, we can’t build new alliances if we’re calling for subsidies for General Motors (GM) and the rest of the industry while social services are being cut. Moreover, those subsidies won’t, as we’ve seen, deliver jobs because productivity in the auto industry keeps rising while the market is limited – and a push for far ‘more cars’ is also not a viable strategy given the already overwhelming traffic congestion and environmental concerns.

On the other hand there is enormous productive capacity in all of those facilities and worker skills; they can make the widest range of things that we do need. What needs to be placed on the agenda, especially by unions, is the waste of closing these facilities when they could be converted to producing socially useful goods, starting with production that addresses the environmental crisis. Taking the environmental crisis seriously means the entire material foundation of society will have to be changed: the transportation and communication infrastructure, the machinery and tools in every factory, the construction of homes and appliances, offices and equipment – everything.

This means explicitly talking about preserving our productive potential not GM and Ford, planning instead of competition, asking about social utility not profit. We obviously can’t win this right now, but it poses the question of how we organize today so this becomes a real option down the road. This may sound very radical, but it’s worth remembering that in the Second World War, Canada and the U.S. demonstrated an astonishing capacity to convert facilities in a remarkably short time and then reconvert them again after the war.

As fundamental as internal changes are to union renewal, this is only a step to changing the external context facing workers. And in this regard, we can’t just lament the power of the financial sector over our lives and occasionally shake our fists at it. We need to question why, in an allegedly democratic society, this sector has such special statue – profiting enormously in good times, blackmailing us to bail them out in bad, and always insisting that what is good for banks should frame public policy. If they are in fact to be treated as having the weight of essentially being ‘public utilities,’ they should be taken over and become democratic public utilities.

This is not just a matter of ideology; it is a practical issue. If we really want to convert industry, if we really want to defend the public sector, if we want to chart what kind of society we want to have, controlling finance is a precondition. Otherwise, we’ll remain in the trap of catering to them and being disciplined by them whether it’s in the workplace or in terms of government policy. Here again, taking on such a fundamental part of the Canadian establishment is not something that will happen in the short run. But unless we begin to talk about it now, educate around it and mobilize for it, it will always be out of reach.

Crisis of the Left

In criticizing the labour movement for its failure to change, it is vital to understand this as being as much a failure of the left itself; the crisis of labour and that of the left go hand in hand. There’s a strong case to be made that we will not see a renewal of the labour movement unless there’s also simultaneously a renewal of the left. It seems clear enough that in spite of some positive developments, the leadership of the trade union movement has neither the inclination nor capacity to radically transform their organizations while the membership is too fragmented and too overwhelmed to sustain anything but the occasional sporadic rebellion. For rank and file workers to do more will require the resources and support from a left with feet both inside and outside unions that can link workers across workplaces, clarify what workers face and why a class response is critical to what workers now face. What, more specifically, might be done?

One initiative that came out of the crisis was the establishment of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly. It was inspired by two realities. First, that the formation of a new socialist party was simply not on the agenda until a stronger labour base was laid. Second, the fact that, as noted earlier, out of the last comparable crisis – the Depression of the 1930s – a new form of working-class organization was born. The craft unionism that dominated working-class organization at that time was inadequate to what workers faced and in a remarkable act of working-class creativity, industrial unionism emerged as a dynamic alternative. Today we need to think just as honestly and creatively about whether unions in their present form are adequate.

It’s not that unions are going to disappear; they will continue to soldier on and occasionally demonstrate their potential, but on their own unions are simply not enough to deal with what workers face. The Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly has involved an attempt to think about a form of working-class organization that could support union renewal but also act beyond unions. It sees itself as not just another coalition but as bringing together individuals looking for a new layer of politics. This doesn’t deny the importance of the particular struggles activists are involved in, but it emphasizes the need for something larger that extends beyond specific unions and specific issues. It is anti-capitalist and looked to be class based with class being defined very broadly to include not just the minority of workers who are unionized, but low-wage non-union workers, the unemployed, and the poor. And it included all the dimensions of our lives that reflect class outside of the workplace.

In terms of union renewal, one especially important goal of the Assembly – one it remains a long way from achieving – was to establish networks of activists across workplaces. This might take the form of fight back committees in every local that are focused on educating their own members, establishing links to the community, and engaging in joint solidarity actions.[8] The role of the Assembly would be to facilitate the formation of such committees, contribute to organizing the cross-workplace educationals and training, hold forums where experiences could be shared and generally support the development of groups of activists who, among other things, would also fight to inject a class perspective into their unions.

Three final observations. First, the argument that ‘There Is No Alternative’ (TINA) is in fact true if we limit ourselves to moderate options; such weak responses simply can’t stand up to what we today confront in capitalism. The options we face have been polarized and we need to recognize and confidently assert that, for us, the radical is increasingly the only thing that’s practical. Second, and directly related to this, we now have to think bigger even to win small. A crucial lesson from the past quarter century is that if we lower our expectations and keep our heads down, this will hardly protect us; in fact it virtually invites the other side to be more aggressive. Unless we think more ambitiously and more radically, things will continue to get worse.

Finally, what we face is an organizational barrier. If we understand the inactivity of workers as reflecting their fatalism, their sense that nothing can be done, then this can only be addressed by concretely demonstrating the potentials of organized collective action. Workers aren’t inherently radical and they’re not inherently conservative – they adapt to the structured options they face. Once they are convinced that organizations exist that hold out some real promise that struggle can change things, even if that will take time, workers will be there. It’s in this regard that the socialist Left has failed over the last quarter-century, and it is this organizational challenge that identifies the principal current challenge for the left. •

Sam Gindin retired from the Canadian Auto Workers union in 2000 after 27 years on staff, the last 16 as assistant to the President. From 2001 through 2011 he was the Visiting Packer Chair in Social Justice at York University, Toronto.

Editorial Note: This is a slightly revised article first published in Great Recession-Proof? Shattering the Myth of Canadian Exceptionalism, Alternate Routes (2013).

 

 Notes:

 

1. It is common to identify three structural crises in capitalism before the latest one: the first occurring in the last quarter of the 19th century, the second introduced by the 1929 stock market crash and lasting through the 1930s, the third breaking out in the late 1960s and running through the 1970s.

 

2. Panitch, L. and S. Gindin. (2012). The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire. New York: Verso.

 

3. Even in Greece, Syriza (the leading left opposition group) has emphasized the need to modify, not transform, Greece’s relationship to the international economy and has posed exit from the Euro not as a goal, but as a reluctant option if the counter-productive austerity pressures continue.

 

4. Raymond Williams. 1989. Resources of Hope. London and New York: Verso; David Harvey. 1996. Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference. Oxford: Blackwell.

 

5. The Canadian Auto Workers and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, in preparation for their merger, recently announced their enthusiasm for such an approach. See Towards a New Union: CAW-CEP Proposal Committee Final Report.

 

6. For a discussion of such an alternative strike tactics, which at least set the stage for when traditional strikes become necessary, see Hurley and Gindin, Bullet No. 516.

 

7. One particular concession that reflects the logic of thinking instrumentally and undermines even the internal solidarity in unions is passing concessions on to future workers by agreeing to lower wages for new hires (as recently occurred at the Lear Siegler plant in Kitchener). This not only undercuts the union principle of equal pay for equal work but open the way for the next generation of workers using that ‘lesson’ to in turn betray retirees. And since the very first experience of the very workers on whom union revival will critically depend is to see unionism at its least solidaristic, it virtually guarantees its failure.

 

8. A group of locals in the airline industry in Toronto (including locals from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the CAW and CUPE) have been working together with some other non-airline locals (particularly in the municipal sector) to support each other in conflicts, do joint educationals, and strategize.

Since 2011 the film “Winnie Mandela” starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard has remained a mystery to many within the United States and internationally. The production was shot in South Africa and it attempts to re-introduce the life of both Nelson and Winnie to a new generation of people who were not even born when the African National Congress (ANC) leader was released from prison in February 1990 after over 27 years of detention.

Mrs. Winnie Mandela during the 1980s and early 1990s became the most prominent figure in the decades-long fight to free her husband and liberate the African masses from the apartheid ‘colonialism of a special type’ as it was described during the period. Winnie was often depicted in the international news media as a strong and defiant woman who refused to compromise with the racist system and consequently suffered tremendous repression by the state and ridicule by the corporate press.

This film was directed and co-written by South African filmmaker Darrell James Roodt and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011. The script is based on Anne Mari du Preez Bezdrob’s biography entitled “Winnie Mandela: A Life.”

Some critics took a negative view of the production and it never made it to the U.S. theaters until September. The film was rescued by the television evangelist and businessman T.D. Jakes through his Image Entertainment. If this had not happened the film may have languished longer before making it to the theaters or eventual cable television outlets.

Even prior to the brief release in Canada in 2011, the early news reports on the film were related to the criticism leveled against the project by Winnie Mandela herself. The ANC veteran was quoted as making harsh statements about the movie saying that she was never consulted about how she was to be depicted by Jennifer Hudson.

The Creative Writers Union of South Africa also complained about the leading roles not being given to South African actors. Additional reports alleged that the producers of the project frowned upon the possibility of Hudson meeting Mandela prior to or during the filming.

Winnie Mandela was quoted by the Guardian newspaper in London during 2011 saying of the film that “I think it is an insult. I don’t know what would be romantic in our bitter struggle.”(Guardian, June 14)

Mandela later told CNN: “I have absolutely nothing against Jennifer [Hudson, the film's star], but I have everything against the movie itself. I was not consulted. I am still alive, and I think that it is a total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle, and call that movie some translation of a romantic life of Winnie Mandela.” (Guardian, June 14)

Film Highlights South African Struggle

The film does highlight the anti-racist struggle of the South African people between the 1950s and the 1990s. Beginning with the childhood of Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela (Winnie) it illustrates her determination to overcome both race and gender barriers.

She attends school and it outstanding in her accomplishments. Mandela would later win a scholarship to study in Johannesburg becoming a social worker in a hospital.

She is drawn to the movement of the 1950s where the Campaign of Defiance Against Unjust Laws was waged and the Freedom Charter was drafted. She would later meet Nelson Mandela and become is second wife.

However, there was never any honeymoon. The lawyer is committed to the overthrow of the racist system and becomes a target of the state security forces.

Much of his time is spent on the road organizing and evading the police. He is arrested in 1962 and convicted the following year of treason and sabotage.

Mandela and his comrades within the ANC and its armed wing, Um Khonto We Size, could have been sentenced to death but international pressure resulted in sentences of life imprisonment.

Hudson and Howard reveal the emotional and psychological impact of the long term imprisonment of Nelson and the constant harassment by the state of Winnie who was sixteen years his junior. Winnie is repeatedly arrested and spends over a year in solidarity confinement where the state security personnel attempt to break her psychologically and turn her against the ANC.

The film illustrates the unsuccessful efforts by the apartheid state to demoralize Winnie and Nelson. Although Winnie faced much criticism from even those within the movement during the latter years of Nelson’s incarceration, Nelson Mandela is released in 1990 to lead the African people to political power in 1994 when the ANC won an overwhelming victory against its racist opponents.

Of course the film also depicts the emotional toll of the years of isolation and repression of both of the leading figures. The marriage ends in separation and divorce after Nelson’s release and his ascendancy to power.

This film portrays the capacity of the individual, backed up by the mass movement, to overcome the ravages of oppression and attempts by the enemy to denigrate the symbols of resistance and emancipation. Consequently, it can serve as a window into the study of the actual history of South Africa which provides much for the ongoing movements against racism, national oppression and economic exploitation in Africa and indeed around the world.

Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Big Banks Manipulated Gold and Silver Markets

September 16th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Gold and Silver Are Manipulated

The Guardian and Telegraph report that gold and silver prices are “fixed” in the same way as interest rates and derivatives – in daily conference calls by the powers-that-be.

Long-time trader Andrew Maguire told told King World News this week that 2 JP Morgan whistleblowers have handed over evidence of gold and silver manipulation by their bank:

Very recently [Commodities Futures Trading] Commissioner Chilton assured me, and I’m going to quote him exactly, “I can’t appropriately express my frustration and disappointment with how we’ve handled the silver investigation

And, as you know, I’m prohibited from actually saying much.  That said, I will not let September go by without speaking out if the agency doesn’t do so.”

***

I was also contacted by two JP Morgan employees who told me they had a large amount of documented evidence of market trading abuses in gold and silver by their bank (JP Morgan). [And they handed it over to the CFTC.]

We’ll have to wait to see if Maguire’s explosive allegations pan out.

As shown below, big banks have manipulated virtually every market  – both in the financial sector and the real economy – and broken virtually every law on the books.

Energy Markets Are Manipulated

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that JP Morgan has massively manipulated energy markets in California and the Midwest, obtaining tens of millions of dollars in overpayments from grid operators between September 2010 and June 2011.

Commodities Are Manipulated

The big banks and government agencies have been conspiring to manipulate commodities prices for decades.

The big banks are taking over important aspects of the physical economy, including uranium mining, petroleum products, aluminum, ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, ports, and electricity.

And they are using these physical assets to massively manipulate commodities prices … scalping consumers of many billions of dollars each year.

Interest Rates Are Manipulated

Interest rates are rigged:

Derivatives Are Manipulated

The big banks have long manipulated derivatives … a $1,200 Trillion Dollar market.

Indeed, many trillions of dollars of derivatives are being manipulated in the exact same same way that interest rates are fixed: through gamed self-reporting.

Currency Markets Are Rigged

Currency markets are massively rigged.

Oil Prices Are Manipulated

Oil prices are manipulated as well.

Everything Can Be Manipulated through High-Frequency Trading

Traders with high-tech computers can manipulate stocks, bonds, options, currencies and commodities. And see this.

Manipulating Numerous Markets In Myriad Ways

The big banks and other giants manipulate numerous markets in myriad ways, for example:

  • Engaging in mafia-style big-rigging fraud against local governments. See this, this and this
  • Shaving money off of virtually every pension transaction they handled over the course of decades, stealing collectively billions of dollars from pensions worldwide. Details here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here
  • Pledging the same mortgage multiple times to different buyers. See this, this, this, this and this. This would be like selling your car, and collecting money from 10 different buyers for the same car
  • Pushing investments which they knew were terrible, and then betting against the same investments to make money for themselves. See this, this, this, this and this
  • Engaging in unlawful “Wash Trades” to manipulate asset prices. See this, this and this
  • Participating in various Ponzi schemes. See this, this and this
  • Bribing and bullying ratings agencies to inflate ratings on their risky investments

The Big Picture

The big picture is simple:

  • The big banks manipulate every market they touch
  • The government has given the banks huge subsidies … which they are using for speculation and other things which don’t help the economy. In other words, propping up the big banks by throwing money at them doesn’t help the economy
  • The big banks own the D.C. politicians … so Congress and the White House won’t do anything unless the people force change

Financial Powder Keg: The Global Economy, Geopolitics and the World Situation

September 16th, 2013 by Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin

The 2013 summer sun, far from having brought the lull for which some hoped, has continued to heat finance, the economy, and especially global geopolitics white hot.

The Syrian apple of discord has shown the extent to which the international community was no longer one; the economic news, despite all the tricks possible, stubbornly refuses to announce a long awaited recovery; currency wars have flared up again, hitting the emerging countries head-on; sovereign bond interest rates are now out of control…

Unfortunately, the coming autumn will not calm things down. The end of the political summer break is, in fact, under pressure in Washington between discussions on Syria, the budget vote, the debt ceiling, etc. The extreme divisions between Democrats and Republicans makes this period full of danger.

The end of the financial summer break is no less so with the famous tapering on the agenda, that’s to say the progressive reduction of the Fed’s programme of Quantitative Easing which deals with the economy single-handedly; with the aftermath of Detroit’s bankruptcy; and with the major Western banks withdrawing their support of the US government of necessity.

Finally, the end of the geopolitical summer break also promises to be eventful itself: the emerging countries, scalded by speculation in their currencies, certainly aren’t going to sit idly by, which promises a real firework display in the foreign exchange markets and, in addition, they will wish to take advantage of their victory on Syria to increase their powers.

Layout of the full article:

1. The political soap opera begins again in Washington
2. The Fed loses control
3. The next Cyprus will be American
4. The banks have given up the Treasure
5. The great Syrian bluff
6. Between Scylla and Charibdis
7. Loss of US influence
8. Emerging countries: the final instalment of the decoupling process from Western economies
9. Japan: regional realignment
10. Europe at the crossroads
11. The drunken boat of world governance

This public announcement contains sections 1, 2 and 3

The political soap opera begins again in Washington

We had almost forgotten the differences between Democrats and Republicans whilst there has been so much international news. But those interested in the twists and turns of the series “alert in Washington” will be kept in suspense for many more weeks (1).

Between the discussions on Syria (now without any stakes but reflecting the Western summer gamble as we will see), the 2014 budget and the debt ceiling, the Republicans will use all their blocking power to extract maximum concessions from Obama. And it goes without saying that they are ready to fight to the finish, either by sacrificing reform of the US healthcare system or slashing other social spending (or, better, both) (2).

Clearly, with the dangers posed by the absence of an agreement on these issues (3), no doubt a last-minute compromise will be found or, more likely, a few hours or days after the deadline. This compromise will increase the pressure further on the millions of Americans who depend on government benefits (4).

Nevertheless, the spectacle of a United States torn apart which we will be offered is a new body blow to the country’s credibility, an additional useless nervousness on the markets, an unwelcome game played on foreign creditors’ nerves and China first of all. This will be the cacophony too far which will put an end to the shaky confidence in what remains of the world’s leading power. And without confidence, the country loses everything that keeps it alive.

Unfortunately, the GEAB readers know that this is the home straight of the United States’ inevitable deterioration in influence, which we will discuss later since it is essential reading to understand world developments which are underway.

In short, in the coming months US politics is the first of the three sparks capable of lighting the fuse connected to the powder keg of the global economy which hasn’t yet completely cut the umbilical cord with Uncle Sam.

The Fed loses control

Worse, as we have repeatedly announced, US Treasury bond interest rates are now out of control. In spite of the $45 billion dollars’ worth of US public debt purchased by the Fed every month, in spite of a reduced Treasury bond issuance thanks to a reduction in the federal administration’s budget deficit, interest rates continue to rise.

If it were just a question of rumours of a reduction in QE3 then, first, they would have begun their rise after that, which isn’t the case; secondly, that a rumour of a 10% reduction in QE3 will cause more than a 1 percentage point rise in the 10 year bond interest rate does not bode well for what will happen when the Fed stops its support completely.

 

10 year US Treasury bond interest rate: at left, September 2012 – September 2013, at right, from 20 April to 31 May 2013 (source : MarketWatch/LEAP). The first tapering rumours appeared on the 13 May and were confirmed by Bernanke on the 19 June.

10 year US Treasury bond interest rate: at left, September 2012 – September 2013, at right, from 20 April to 31 May 2013 (source : MarketWatch/LEAP). The first tapering rumours appeared on the 13 May and were confirmed by Bernanke on the 19 June.

Thus it is understood that the Fed no longer controls anything and that the effects of its subsequent announcement only serve to make believe that it still controls the situation. Anyway, QE3 is of no help at all to the real economy because it only supports the formation of a bubble in the financial and real estate markets (5), which is why it doesn’t balk too much at reducing it by disguising it as a consequence of a so-called consolidation of the economy. Everything is only a matter of image, the only thing that the Fed still succeeds in keeping at the moment.

In reality it doesn’t really have a choice: in addition to its balance sheet which is growing dangerously, the general opinion now is that the cure is worse than the disease by constantly deferring the confrontation with reality and the bursting of the above- mentioned bubbles. Not to mention, of course, the political pressure undoubtedly exercised by China and other countries. In addition, the Fed must, above all, preserve the Dollar’s international role, which is vital to the American economy which wouldn’t emerge unscathed from a change in the international reserve currency: in particular, that requires maintaining its value and, for that, increasing US bonds’ attractiveness. Thus, it’s remarkable to note that despite the rumours of a tapering from September (6) which would reduce the amount of dollars printed every month, despite the rumours of a war in Syria which would have usually caused a “flight to the dollar”, the dollar hasn’t risen against the Euro, proof that it really needs a boost to avoid an extremely damaging sharp depreciation. We will return to the absence of a “flight to safety” caused by the risk of an attack on Syria, a tell-tale sign of a worrying change of mind for the United States.

This loss of control over interest rates is the second spark close to the powder keg, a huge spark which looks more like a blow torch.

The next Cyprus will be American

But it’s not only government bonds that are in freefall. Following Detroit’s bankruptcy, the Munibond market (US municipal bonds) is itself also extremely tense (7) as the following chart shows.

This is an alarming situation for many American cities which will inevitably lead to other significant bankruptcies in the coming months. In separating municipal and national debts, better numbers are shown certainly, but the risks are doubled.

 

20 year municipal bond interest rates. Source : Saint-Louis Fed.

20 year municipal bond interest rates. Source : Saint-Louis Fed.

Puerto Rico seems to be amongst the next market victims which seems to be already struggling with unsustainable interest rates (8).

This is reminiscent of the Cyprus incident, except that Puerto Rico’s population is three times bigger; and that isn’t happening in Europe but in the US sphere. Let’s bet this time that the island will be considered insignificant, unlike Cyprus…

Notes:

(1) Source: ABC 7 News, 07/09/2013.

(2) Sources: Fox News (27/07/2013), CNN Money (06/09/2013), Huffington Post (10/09/2013).

(3) Read for example Fiscal Times (10/09/2013) on the consequences of blocking on the debt ceiling.

(4) Read for example New York Times (05/09/2013) on the reduction of benefits paid to an ever increasing number of people dependent on food stamps.

(5) Speaking of domestic consequences for the US are the only ones which count in the country’s eyes despite the Dollar’s still prominent global role, which should make American leaders aware of their responsibilities on the international stage. That has never been the case in the last 40 years, and it’s not during a major crisis involving the country’s survival that that will change.

(6) Source: CNBC, 28/09/2013.

(7) Read for example The Future Tense, 29/07/2013.

(8) Source: Wall Street Journal, (09/09/2013).

Global Credit Excess Is WORSE than Before the 2008 Crash

September 16th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Precarious Credit Bubble Threatens Global Economy

The world’s most prestigious financial agency – the central banks’ central bank, called the Bank of International Settlements or “BIS”  – has slammed U.S. economic policy for a decade.

For example, BIS has long criticized the Fed and other central banks for blowing bubbles.  The World Bank and top economists agree.

The Telegraph reported yesterday that Bis and its former chief economist – William White – are saying things are  at least as bad as before the 2008 crash:

The Swiss-based `bank of central banks’ said a hunt for yield was luring investors en masse into high-risk instruments, “a phenomenon reminiscent of exuberance prior to the global financial crisis”.

This is happening just as the US Federal Reserve prepares to wind down stimulus and starts to drain dollar liquidity from global markets, an inflexion point that is fraught with danger and could go badly wrong.

“This looks like to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse,” said William White, the BIS’s former chief economist, famous for flagging the wild behaviour in the debt markets before the global storm hit in 2008.

“All the previous imbalances are still there. Total public and private debt levels are 30pc higher as a share of GDP in the advanced economies than they were then, and we have added a whole new problem with bubbles in emerging markets that are ending in a boom-bust cycle,” said Mr White, now chairman of the OECD’s Economic Development and Review Committee.

The BIS said in its quarterly review that the issuance of subordinated debt — which leaves lenders exposed to bigger losses if things go wrong — has jumped more than threefold over the last year to $52bn in Europe, and jumped tenfold to $22bn in the US.

The share of “leveraged loans” used by the weakest borrowers in the syndicated loan market has jumped to an all-time high of 45pc, ten percentage points higher than the pre-crisis peak in 2007-2008.

Share of high risk leveraged loans now greater than 2007

The BIS said investors are snapping up “covenant-lite” loans that offer little protection to creditors, as well as a form of hybrid capital for banks known as CoCos (contingent convertible capital instruments) that switch debt into equity if bank capital ratios fall too low. While CoCos help shield taxpayers from losses in a banking crisis by leaving private creditors with more of the risk, the recent appetite for such an instrument is also a warning sign.

The BIS said interbank credit to emerging markets has reached the “highest level on record” while the value of bonds issued in off-shore centres by private companies from China, Brazil and other developing nations exceeds total issuance by firms from rich economies for the first time, underscoring the sheer size of the debt build-up in Asia, Latin Africa, and the Mid-East.

Claudio Borio, the BIS research chief, said the ructions in emerging markets since the Fed turned hawkish in May is a warning to investors that they must tread with care. “Global financial markets have reacted very strongly. If there were any doubts about the strength of international policy spillovers, they have now been put to rest,” he said.

How Bernanke signal has pushed up long term rates

Mr Borio said nobody knows how far global borrowing costs will rise as the Fed tightens or “how disorderly the process might be”.

“The challenge is to be prepared. This means being prudent, limiting leverage, and avoiding the temptation of believing that the market will remain liquid under stress, the illusion of liquidity,” he said.

***

Mr White said the five years since Lehman have largely been wasted, leaving a global system that is even more unbalanced, and may be running out of lifelines. “The ultimate driver for the whole world is the US interest rate and as this goes up there will be fall-out for everybody. The trigger could be Fed tapering but there are a lot of things that can go wrong. I very am worried that Abenomics could go awry in Japan, and Europe remains exceedingly vulnerable to outside shocks.”

Mr White said the world has become addicted to easy money, with rates falling ever lower with each cycle and each crisis. There is little ammunition left if the system buckles again. “I don’t know what they will do: Abenomics for the world I suppose, but this is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he said.

The BIS quietly scolded Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and his eurozone counterpart Mario Draghi, saying the attempt to use “forward guidance” to hold down long-term rates by rhetoric alone had essentially failed. “There are limits as to how far good communications can steer markets. Those limits have become all too apparent,” said Mr Borio.

Anti-Assad Media War Continues

September 16th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Throughout months of conflict, the mainstream media mocked Assad’s good faith efforts to end it.

In February 2012, Syrians overwhelmingly supported constitutional reform. They did so by national referendum.

Despite opposition boycotts and violence, 89.4% of eligible voters approved it. Another 9% opposed. A slim 1.2% of ballots were invalided.

Numerous reforms became law. Important ones. They included political pluralism for the first time. Presidential term limits and press freedom were established.

On May 7, first time ever parliamentary elections were held. Doing so was a milestone political event. Independent candidates participated.

Turnout was high. Voting went smoothly. Independent monitors called the process open, free and fair. Ba’ath party members won a 60% majority. Opposition party members were also elected.

Western officials mocked constitutional reform. So did the mainstream media. They called credible democratic elections farcical. They scorned what deserved praise.

Vilifying Assad unjustifiably continues. Support peaceful conflict resolution doesn’t matter. Nor does agreeing to destroy his chemical weapons. Whatever he does responsibly isn’t good enough.

On September 14, The New York Times headlined “If History Is Any Measure, the Clock Is Ticking,” saying:

“On Saturday, Mr. Assad had yet to make a public statement endorsing the agreement” to destroy his chemical weapons. “While he is expected to sign on to the plan, so far, he has equivocated.”

False! On September 14, the UN confirmed it “received the formal instrument of accession to the (CW) Convention by the Syrian Arab Republic.” Assad approved doing so.

On September 12, he told Russia’s Rossiya-24 TV he agreed to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.

He’ll destroy them entirely. He’ll become a Chemical Weapons Convention signatory. He’s already done so. Asked why, he responded:

“Over 10 years ago, Syria presented the UN with a proposal for a WMD-Free Middle East; this was because the region is turbulent and has been immersed in wars for decades.”

“Thus removing unconventional weapons would be rational in order to enhance stability, at that particular time the US hindered the proposal.”

“One of the reasons was to allow Israel to have such weapons.”

“(I)n principle we strive for peace and stability therefore we do not perceive the existence of WMD’s in the Middle East to have any positive effect.”

“(I)n relation to current developments, Syria as a state genuinely seeks to avert another war of lunacy on itself and countries in the region, contrary to the efforts of warmongers in the US who seek to inflame a regional war.”

Without Russia’s proposal, he added, “we would not have been able to pursue” peaceful conflict resolution. He’s committed to do whatever it takes to achieve it.

“No country should possess weapons of mass destruction,” he said. Eliminating them “would protect the region and the world from devastating and expensive wars in the future.”

Launching them “would create more chaos which would enable these terrorist groups to inflict more destruction and sabotage.”

“This is a genuine challenge since the terrorists do possess these chemical materials and certain countries are supplying them.”

Don’t expect The New York Times or other mainstream media to explain. Managed news misinformation substitutes for real news, information and analysis.

According to The Times, US officials “expect Mr. Assad to balk at the destruction of missile warheads or bombs, which can be used for conventional and unconventional arms.”

He “continues to move his stockpile, American intelligence officials say.” Doing so “creates the possibility that some (CWs) could be diverted or hidden.”

“It is also likely to contribute to delays in the disarmament process because the inspections will require highly intrusive searches of all known chemical weapons sites, current and previous, to determine whether any were hidden or left behind.”

A days earlier Times editorial said:

“The Obama administration has good reason to be skeptical of any promises made by the Assad regime or its Russian backers.”

On September 13, Washington Post editors headlined “Work on Syria’s chemical weapons should not preclude removing Assad,” saying:

Destroying his chemical weapons “look(s) like a huge, if not quite impossible, lift.”

It’s not “clear” how much progress Kerry and Lavrov “made.”

Expect Assad to “embrace the strategy of delay and obfuscation.”

“Any diplomatic solution in Syria depend(s) on (Obama) sticking to” his position that Assad must go.

WaPo editors support lawless intervention. So do other mainstream media.

They ignore core international, constitutional and US statute law provisions.

They endorse wars of aggression. They support the worst of US crimes. They believe war is peace. They lie for power.

They’re pro-war, pro-US dominance, pro-wrong over right, and anti-peace above all else in our time.

Vladimir Putin challenges Obama responsibly. He’s done so all along. He did it in a New York Times op-ed. He wants imperial wars stopped.

He opposes America’s unipolar world. He respects international law. It’s provisions are inviolable.

Putin wrote what needs to be read. He deserves praise for doing so. Mainstream media vilified him.

NBC News accused him of chest thumping. He’s repeatedly called a strongman.

In 1999, he became acting president. He replaced Boris Yeltsin. He served until May 2000.

He was democratically elected president three times. He won convincingly. In 2004 and 2012, it was by overwhelming majorities.

US mainstream media equate him with despotism. They oppose the best of his policies. They do so irresponsibly.

After his NYT op-ed, Wall Street Journal editors headlined “Putin Rules,” saying:

He “may be crude, but he knows how to exploit weakness. And he’s sure acting like he has spotted an easy mark in President Obama.”

“To rub it in, (he) also took to the op-ed pages of the New York Times to tout Russia as a champion of ‘international law’ and ‘peaceful dialogue,’ denounce US military interventions and scold Mr. Obama for speaking of American exceptionalism.”

“(T)he former KGB agent anointed himself Russia’s president-for-life while crushing his opposition, invading his neighbors and enriching his cronies.”

Journal editors were just warming up. They quoted Obama saying he had “constructive talks” with Putin in St. Petersburg. They discussed disposition of Syria’s chemical weapons.

“Judging by his behavior,” said Journal editors, “Mr. Putin will read that as another ‘Kick Me’ sign on Mr. Obama’s back.”

“Giving asylum to Edward Snowden? Kick. Protecting Bashar Assad, then offering to disarm him? Kick. Arming Iran with proscribed missiles? Kick. And that’s merely in the last month.”

Lavrov “no doubt demand(ed) further US concessions for Moscow’s help in solving the very problems the Kremlin helped create.”

A following day Journal op-ed headlined ”Vladimir Putin Takes Exception,” saying:

“He twisted the knife and gloated. (He may) have overplayed his hand.”

“(T)he steely-eyed geopolitical strategist has reminded us that he’s also the media-obsessed operator who plays to his base back home by tranquilizing bears, wrestling alligators and riding horses shirtless…”

Challenging American exceptionalism was “ignorant and tone-deaf.”

“America is not exceptional because it has long attempted to be a force for good in the world, it attempts to be a force for good because it is exceptional.”

The idea “grate(s)” on Putin. “Perhaps” he forgot “who won the Cold War and how.” Maybe he envies “the greatness of America’s beginnings.”

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D. NJ) responded to Putin’s op-ed saying he “almost wanted to vomit.”

According to the Journal, Putin’s op-ed wasn’t Krushchev “slamming his shoe on the desk at the UN and saying, ‘We will bury you!’ ”

“It’s not a new cold war (and) not a hot one, but there’s a new chill in the air, isn’t there?”

On September 9, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting‘s Peter Hart headlined “On Syria, Sunday Morning TV Journalists Don’t Need Proof,” saying:

Despite overwhelming anti-war public sentiment, “they either declar(e) their support for (war on Syria) or (express) faith in the case for” waging it.

They wrongfully accuse Assad of insurgents’ crimes. They do it consistently. They do it despite clear evidence absolving him entirely. They support lawless aggression.

CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer was typical. He endorsed war based on lies, saying:

“The president of the United States drew a line in the sand, a red line.”

“At this point, that may be the only good reason left for Congress to give him the authority he now asked for to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.”

“When the president of the United States says something, the rest of the world, our friends and our enemies, pay attention.”

“If we do not follow through, what impact will that have on North Korea or Iran the next time we warn them of dire consequences if they press on with their nuclear weapons programs?”

“More important, how will it be viewed by our strong allies like Japan?”

“We have treaties that promise we will retaliate if they are attacked by nuclear powers. Will they now question our resolve?”

“I don’t like anything about where we are, but in a dangerous world when the United States takes a stand, and then goes back on its word, we’re left in an even more dangerous place.”

“It’s a remarkable call for war,” said Hart. It’s solely based on “maintaining US dominance.”

Waging it violates international, constitutional and US statute laws. Don’t expect mainstream media to explain.

A Final Comment

Israel’s involved in Obama’s war on Syria. Following Geneva talks, Kerry headed for Jerusalem. On Sunday he arrived. He did so to brief Netanyahu. They’re partners in crime.

Kerry assured Netanyahu that Washington isn’t softening on Iran. Reports suggest Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rohani exchanged direct messages.

Perhaps they’ll meet later this month in New York. On September 17, the General Assembly begins its 68th session. Proceedings will continue for days. High-level bilateral meetings are commonplace.

Israel wants assurances that America’s Iran policy remains hardline. On September 15, Haaretz headlined “Netanyahu: Efforts to disarm Syria and stop nuclear Iran will be judged by results,” saying:

On Sunday, he said he hoped a US/Russia deal “to remove Syria’s chemical weapons would result in the ‘complete destruction’ of the arsenal, and urged the international community to apply the same efforts to destroying Iran’s nuclear program.”

“We hope the understandings reached between the United States and Russia regarding the Syrian chemical weapons will yield results.”

“The test of results is also incumbent on the efforts of the international community to stop Iran’s nuclear armament.”

“Here too, it is not words but actions that will determine the outcome.”

“In any case, Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself against every threat, something that is more important today than ever.”

America’s only enemies are ones it creates. So are Israel’s. Both countries threaten world peace. They risk humanity’s survival.

Focusing on Syria’s chemical weapons ignores the threat these countries pose. They maintain formidable nuclear, chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.

They use prohibited weapons in all their wars. They do it unaccountably. World leaders turn a blind eye. They ignore the enormous threat they pose. They focus instead on Syria. It threatens no one.

On Sunday, Obama lied twice. He said Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is “a far greater issue for us” than Syria’s “use” of chemical weapons.

He added that Putin is “protecting” Assad. “He has a different attitude about (his) regime” than Washington. He doesn’t share American “values.”

Thankfully he challenges them responsibly. He’s the free world’s bottom line defense against US aggression.

Separately, Kerry said destroying Syria CWs sets a standard for Iran. Washington wants its independent government destroyed. Doing so is longstanding US policy.

The Middle East continues on the boil. America and Israel share full responsibility. Stopping them matters most. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.

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.

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Syria Chemical Weapons Deal—US War Postponed, Not Canceled

September 16th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

There is no doubt a sense of relief among many who oppose a new war of aggression in the Middle East as a result of the deal reached in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the elimination of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons arsenal.

The bitter truth, however, is that war has only been postponed. Those who think that the Obama administration has embraced peace do not understand the objective social, economic and geopolitical interests that drive American militarism. Notwithstanding the agreement with Russia, the administration has done no more than execute a tactical retreat. It remains committed to regime change in Syria, which US imperialism sees as an essential part of its preparations for a military confrontation with Iran.

Significantly, President Obama stated in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that Iran “shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria] to think we won’t strike Iran.”

In the space of barely one week, the Obama administration went from the brink of launching a savage bombardment of Syria to a negotiated agreement with Russia. Behind the rapid shift in US policy was the unprecedented depth of popular opposition to war, finding its expression first in the August 29 vote of the British Parliament against a resolution in support of military action.

Unable to gain a fig leaf of legality through a United Nations resolution—opposed by both Russia and China—and deprived of even the support of its closest ally, the Obama administration turned to the US Congress in an attempt to push through an Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolution. It saw in the approval of such a measure a means of claiming a false legitimacy and facade of popular support for what would be an illegal and unilateral act of international aggression.

Here too, the administration failed. With members of Congress being bombarded with messages from their constituents running better than nine-to-one against war, it became evident that Obama would lose the vote in the Republican-led House and likely in the Democratic-led Senate. This would have been the first time in US history that a president seeking authorization for military action received such a rebuff, and would have fatally undermined Obama’s presidency.

It was under these conditions that the White House ended up going along with Russia’s proposal for an agreement on Syria’s chemical disarmament. It had made its pretext for war the unsubstantiated allegations that the Assad regime bore responsibility for an August 21 chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs. US military action, it claimed, would be used to “deter and degrade” Syrian chemical weapons capabilities.

It then found itself outmaneuvered by Moscow, which seized on an apparently off-the-cuff remark by Kerry that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a US military attack only by completely destroying its chemical weapons stocks. Moscow gained Assad’s agreement to do just that, and the Obama administration found itself in the untenable position of going ahead with an immensely unpopular war for ostensible purposes that could be achieved without a single Tomahawk missile being fired.

Having embraced the so-called “path of diplomacy,” Obama and his aides have been at pains to make it clear that war remains firmly on the agenda. Obama himself stressed that the deal reached in Geneva had come about only as the result of a “credible threat of US force,” and declared, “If diplomacy fails, the United States is prepared to act.”

For his part, Kerry made it clear that the US would make its own determinations as to whether the Assad regime was out of compliance with the chemical weapons agreement, and would take military action accordingly. In the absence of UN sanction, military strikes would be taken “with a decision by the president of the United States and likeminded allies, if they thought that was what it came to.”

It is also evident that the White House will not likely make the same mistake twice of going to Congress for approval. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, told Bloomberg Television over the weekend that neither he nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “believe the president is required to come to Congress in this instance, and could act on his own.”

Hoyer added, however, that the agreement with Russia could be used to help sell a war to Congress. “People would say, ‘Well, he went the extra mile, he reached out, he took the diplomatic course that people had been urging him to take—and it didn’t work,’” Hoyer said. “And therefore under those circumstances, the only option available to us to preclude the further use of chemical weapons and to try to deter and degrade Syria’s ability to use them is to act.”

These are no doubt the political calculations being made by the Obama administration as well. History does not bode well for Syria. Two other Middle East leaders agreed to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles—Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Their countries were subjected to US wars for regime change, and neither is alive today.

The US-Russian agreement places a series of demands upon Syria that are, according to chemical weapons experts, virtually impossible to meet. While the chemical weapons treaty gives nations 60 days to account for all of their munitions after signing the agreement, the deal reached in Geneva gives Damascus one week. And while the United States has spent the last 18 years disposing of its own chemical weapons stockpile—and projects that it will be another decade before it is done—Syria is supposed to complete the same task in nine months.

If failure to clear these hurdles fails to provide a pretext for war, there is always the potential for another chemical weapons provocation staged by the Al Qaeda-led “rebels” and blamed on the Assad regime.

Chemical weapons were never the motive for direct US military intervention, merely the pretext. The narrative, promoted by a corporate-controlled media dedicated to war propaganda, that Washington was merely a horrified bystander to Syria’s civil war, concerned solely for the welfare of defenseless civilians, is a bald-faced lie. US imperialism has been a principal instigator of this war, pouring some quarter of a billion dollars worth of aid into the anti-Assad insurgency and coordinating even larger amounts of funding and weaponry from the reactionary Sunni monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, its principal allies in the Arab world.

Now the CIA has begun directly training and arming the “rebels,” a collection of Islamists, criminals and mercenaries who have ravaged the country. It is the string of military defeats suffered by Washington’s proxy forces, beginning with the loss of the town of al-Qusayr last June, that provided the immediate impulse for the US invoking the “red line” of chemical weapons and rushing to war. Having earned the enmity of broad layers of the Syrian population with their sectarian bloodletting and retrograde Islamist ideology, the CIA-backed forces were on the brink of defeat.

More fundamentally, the US-orchestrated war for regime change in Syria is part of Washington’s strategy for asserting its hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East and, more broadly, the strategically vital landmass of Eurasia. The Obama administration is pursuing the same predatory aims as its predecessor in Afghanistan and Iraq, seeking to use US imperialism’s military superiority as a means of offsetting its relative economic decline. The intervention in Syria is aimed not merely at the regime in Damascus, but at breaking the power and influence of Iran, as well as Russia and China, in the region.

A US naval strike force and a growing Russian fleet continue to face each other in the eastern Mediterranean.

The US-Russian deal on Syrian chemical weapons does not herald a new era of peace. It is merely another episode in a period of escalating military provocations and war scares similar to those that preceded the First and Second World Wars.

The threat of a widening regional war and a new global conflagration can be answered only by the international working class mobilizing its independent strength in a united struggle against capitalism.

 

Obama, Congress Advance Plans for Deeper Social Spending Cuts

September 16th, 2013 by Patrick Martin

With the evident postponement of an immediate war against Syria, the Obama administration and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have turned their attention to their main enemy at home, furthering their plans to attack the social programs on which tens of millions of working people in the United States depend on for their health and livelihood.

In a half-hour interview broadcast on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday, Obama laid out his position on the budget talks, which resumed in earnest last week in Washington. Obama indicated willingness to make concessions to Republican demands for further cuts in social spending, including an extension of the so-called “sequester,” while rejecting any negotiations over an increase in the federal debt ceiling.

There are now two budget deadlines in October. On the first day of the month, the start of the 2014 fiscal year, the federal government will run out of authority to spend money because Congress has not passed a single appropriations bill. Federal agencies will begin to shut down, with consequent furloughs and payless paydays for federal workers.

On or about October 18, according to recent estimates, the Treasury will exhaust its ability to borrow money to finance continuing federal payments, and will be limited to issuing checks based on incoming revenue. This will mean unpaid federal bills, likely before the end of the month, with the threat that Social Security checks for 50 million retired people will not go out after November 1.

As in previous budget crises under the Obama administration, the events are being stage-managed by the two corporate-controlled parties to give the illusion of partisan gridlock and confrontation over principles—in this case, whether to go forward with the implementation of the Obama health care program—while behind the scenes all factions within the ruling elite agree that massive cuts must be carried through in basic federal social programs.

With the cooperation of the media, a crisis atmosphere will be created to justify further sweeping attacks on the social rights of the working class to health care, unemployment compensation and retirement income. The end result will be significant cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The leader of the House Republican majority, Speaker John Boehner, has already reached a tacit understanding with the Obama administration and Senate Democrats over how to handle the more immediate of the two deadlines, the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.

Last week, Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor backed a plan under which the House would approve a measure, called a continuing resolution, to allow federal agencies to continue spending money through December 15 while the appropriations bills are finalized.

In return, the Senate would agree to hold a vote on postponing implementation of the Obama health care program for one year. After the Democratic-controlled Senate defeated the Obamacare postponement, the spending bill would go to the White House for Obama’s signature, without any further action by the House.

The most right-wing faction of House Republicans forced Boehner and Cantor to withdraw the proposed continuing resolution by vowing to vote down any measure that did not actually ban the implementation of Obamacare. The deal was nonetheless significant, since Senate Democrats and the White House agreed in principle to extend implementing the drastic spending cuts imposed under the sequester into the new fiscal year.

The total cuts under the sequester—agreed on by Obama and congressional Republicans in 2011, and put into effect earlier this year—come to more than $1 trillion over ten years. Particularly hard-hit have been programs for poor children, like Head Start, and federal agencies with unexpectedly high expenditures, such as those involved in fighting the wave of summer forest fires.

Further spending cuts will be incorporated in the appropriations bills whenever they are finalized. The Republican-controlled House, for instance, has proposed to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next ten years. The Democrats are proposing smaller cuts, but the program faces an automatic reduction of about 13 percent in benefit levels when a temporary increase in benefits under the 2009 economic stimulus legislation expires in November.

The Republican demagogy over “defunding” the Obama health care program is a sideshow to whip up far-right elements in the Tea Party and shift the political landscape further to the right.

There is little chance that Congress or the Obama administration will agree to delay the health care legislation passed in 2010, which takes effect January 1, 2014. The health care bill is not a progressive reform, but a reactionary measure backed by Corporate America, focused on cutting costs and boosting profits. Insurance companies and health care providers have already invested billions to implement the bill, which they calculate will bring them a windfall.

In an action that demonstrates the ruthlessness of the Obama administration when it comes to the social conditions of workers, the White House on Friday flatly rejected a plea from the AFL-CIO to pull back on planned sanctions under the health care legislation against union health care plans covering millions of workers, whose benefits are considered too high—the so-called “Cadillac” plans. Benefits above the cutoff level will be subject to federal taxes from January 1.

Meanwhile, Treasury Department figures released Thursday show that the federal deficit, supposedly the reason for austerity measures, has plunged to the lowest level since Obama took office, less than $700 billion in fiscal 2013.

Attempting to lend credibility to Western “doubts” over a Syrian-Russian weapons deal meant to impede American aggression, the London Telegraph has once again paraded in front of the public yet another Syrian “defector.”Unemployed, has lived in UK hotel for over a year, parroting Western talking points – strains limits of credibility – admittedly lodged at the expense of the UK government.

Previously, it was self-confessed Al Qaeda collaborator Nawaf Fares, this time it is “former diplomat” Khaled al-Ayoubi.Before parroting predictable Western talking points, the Telegraph attempts to flesh out their new character, describing him in their article, “Syria: Assad cannot be trusted on any chemical weapons promises, says his former diplomat,” as:

Mr al-Ayoubi is an ethnic Kurd who joined the Syrian diplomatic service in 2001. He came to London as second secretary at the Syrian embassy in February 2011 but was made charge d’affaires in May last year after his predecessor was booted out of the country in response to the massacre committed by Syrian forces in Houla.

The Syrian ambassador, Sami al-Khiyami, had been withdrawn in the March that year. It left Mr al-Ayoubi as the most senior Syrian diplomat in the UK.

But he defected in July last year, saying he could no longer defend the regime, and went in to hiding.

He has only gone public now because of the horrors he witnessed in last month’s chemical attack on a suburb of Damascus which is believed to have killed more than 1,400 people, including 400 children.

It is not entirely clear what the Telegraph means by “witnessed” since al-Ayoubi has apparently been “hiding” in the UK since his “defection.”What raises suspicions further regarding yet another tenuous Telegraph narrative is that al-Ayoubi is described as unemployed, yet lodging in a UK hotel, presumably for the past year since his defection.

It is also claimed that the “Syrian intelligence service” made death threats against al-Ayoubi after his defection, but this is never verified, and it is just as likely these “Syrians” were MI6 agents coaxing al-Ayoubi into his current role as compromised fodder for British propaganda.

The Telegraph finally admits that after his “defection” and amidst these alleged death threats:

He and his family were put under the protection of the Foreign Office and now live in a secret location outside London.

Meeting him in a hotel room, he said he now suffers from depression because no one is willing to employ him. “I have applied for many, many jobs but as soon as they see I was a Syrian diplomat they do not want to know,” he said.

In other words, we are expected to perceive as credible the parroting of Western talking points regarding Syria by a “defector” admittedly being housed, clothed, and fed by the British government – a man who believes his very life depends on the protection currently being provided by the British government.

The Telegraph piece is yet another incredible piece of propaganda aimed at the lowest intellectual common denominator, hinging on expectations that the general public is incapable of identifying obvious, elementary conflicts of interest – as if al-Ayoubi, whatever his real story may be, is going to refute anything the British government who is housing and “protecting” him says. Additionally, al-Ayoubi has been in the UK for the past year, and is no more qualified than anyone else to speak on the alleged chemical weapon attacks in Damascus, Syria.

The Telegraph even admits that al-Ayoubi only met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad one time:

He once met Assad when he was a diplomat in Greece in 2003 and described him as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character. “He was nice and polite. Very humble but the world now knows what a horrible man he is.”

Despite the Telegraph’s attempt to portray al-Ayoubi as being part of the “upper echelons of the diplomatic circles,” representatives of Syria’s enemies, including current US Secretary of State John Kerry, have had more face time with the Syrian president than al-Ayoubi.

Failing to provide even a single shred of actual evidence to back up any of his claims or unqualified opinions, al-Ayoubi’s interview with the Telegraph is throw-away propaganda that at best simply gives us another troubling look at the inner workings of Western deception.

The lame acquiescence of International Olympic Committee to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s blatant lies about Fukushima radiation leaks being under control” is an act of reckless negligence on the health risk to young athletes aiming for a spot at the 2020 Olympics.

The Olympic hosting rights was stolen from safer and better-off candidate cities Istanbul and Madrid by a well-financed lobbying effort from Japan’s national committee and the Education and Sports Ministry, which provides murky donations for sports programs in developing countries.

 The hidden factor behind Tokyo’s campaign of radiation denial was the quiet support from the global nuclear industry acting through the IOC’s corporate sponsorship program. The political influence and corruption behind this campaign was so obvious that even the semi-governmental NHK television news has raised questions about bribery in the bidding process.

The Nuclear Grip

Many of the big multinationals that finance the IOC are not readily associated with the Olympic goals of good health much less amateur sports. Anyone who believes in the healthy fun meal hype from McDonalds does not comprehend the hazards of obesity and clogged arteries. Besides household names like toothpaste giant P&G and smartphone maker Samsung, some brands on the sponsor list such as Atos are virtually unknown.

Every corporation on the IOC global sponsor list is, in fact, connected with the nuclear industry, and some directly with the melted-down of the Fukushima plant. Here’s a look at the list:

GE (General Electric): builder of Fukushima Mark 1 reactors Nos. 1,2 and 6; and designer of MOX (mixed oxide of uranium and plutonium) shroud for reactors Nos.3 and 4. The tritium-enhanced explosion at Reactor 3 massively contaminated the Kanto region, including Tokyo’s watershed.

Panasonic: Besides televisions and home appliances, this Japanese electronics giant is a manufacturer of radiation measuring equipment used by TEPCO and other atomic energy players, including Iran’s nuclear program.

Atos: A French IT company that provides command-and-control systems for 70 nuclear power plants around the world, and which is also involved in the upgrade of British nuclear power plants recently acquired by Hitachi-GE.

Dow: Along with partner company Graver, the chemical giant produces resins, polishing compounds, cleansers and filters for the worldwide nuclear industry.

Samsung, Builder of nuclear power plants in South Korea and for export, including the Middle East, in partnership with Toshiba, which built reactor No.5 at Fukushima.

P&G: Proctor & Gamble directors Alan G. Laffley is a board member of GE and James McNerney Jr. is a retired top-ranking GE executive.

Omega: The Swiss watchmaker uses its precision timing technology for monitoring instruments used inside nuclear power plants.

McDonalds: Board member Enrique Hernandez is CEO of Inter-Con Security, which provides armed guards for Southern California Edison’s San Onofre reactors and other nuclear plants.

Coca Cola: the soft drink maker’s board of directors includes Jacob Wallenberg, a director of ABB along with Donald Rumsfeld when it sold 2 nuclear reactors to North Korea (under investigation, ABB sold its nuclear division to BNFL in the UK, which has since been taken over by Hitachi and GE); Alexis Hernadez, a lawyer for and board member of Entergy, the U.S. power company with several radiation-leaking plants; and retired senator Sam Nunn, former Secretary of Defense and board member of GE.

It’s no wonder then that Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics, when the voting was actually a litmus test for “nuclear safety”. Radiation denial is key to the expansion of the nuclear industry, as Hitachi, Toshiba and GE are now pushing in Vietnam, Turkey, the UAE, the UK, India and many other countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Put on Your Blinders

As if wearing blinders, IOC delegates at Buenos Aires ignored media questions about the thousands of tons of radiation-contaminated water leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Arguably worse is the ash from Tokyo’s incinerators that burned Fukushima combustible waste for two years. The highly radioactive cinders were dumped into landfills in Tokyo Bay, which will be the site of the Olympic Village and most of the sports venues.

The Arakawa River, which flows into Tokyo Bay, is also contaminated in its upper reaches by clouds drifting in from the Pacific. The forests around Tokyo’s watershed in Oku-Tama, which provides drinking water to the capital, are dangerously drenched by radioactive rainfall, and the national food supply is so irradiated that regulators have had to raise the food safety level.

The risk of more clouds of radioactive fallout sweeping toward Tokyo is not hypothetical but an inevitable consequence of uncontrollable meltdowns of hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel at Fukushima. The danger is amplified by recurrent earthquakes along Japan’s major fault lines and consequent volcanic eruptions, which pose a constant threat to the nearby nuclear plants at Hamaoka on the seaside below Mount Fuji, Tokai in neighboring Ibaraki, and the twin plants in Fukushima. Another explosion at any of these nuclear sites would force the evacuation of 50 million residents, or one-third of the population.

A major quake or volcanic eruption, long-overdue in the nearby Nankai Trough and Mount Fuji, and even under Tokyo itself, would close the capital’s airports, forcing thousands of Olympic athletes and spectators along with millions of residents to flee in the opposite direction, directly into Fukushima Prefecture. Tokyo is a killing field waiting to happen.

 Influence Peddling

The Japanese host-city team was led by JOC chief Tsunekazu Takeda, who is the successor to his father Prince Takeda, a cavalry officer in Manchuria who supervised the Unit 703 bioweapons program. An equestrian contestant at the Berlin Olympics, Prince Tsuneyoshi organized the military looting of East Asia and also personally authorized plague-and-virus attacks against Chinese cities and lethal experiments on prisoners. The aristocratic war veteran evaded prosecution for war crimes because the U.S. Army recruited UNIT 731 scientists and was then appointed by Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, founder of Japan’s nuclear weapons program and Abe’s grandfather, to head the bidding for the 1964 Olympics.

The counterpart for the private sector is Masato Mizuno, former chief of Mizuno Sports and CEO of the Tokyo bidding team, who led the outreach to the IOC corporate sponsors.

The bid was originally launched by then Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose resignation as alleged in local media reports was due to the diversion of Olympics donations for his provocative visits and attempt to purchase  the disputed Senkaku-Diaoyu islands. These connections are worthy of an Interpol investigation since the IOC is incapable of policing itself.

Backlash Against the Heist

The French cartoon that provoked an angry protest by “chimpira”, slang for punks or yakuza wannabees, is only the start of a worldwide backlash against the Tokyo heist.

The usually timid Japanese media are raising questions about Abe’s lack of credibility on the radiation issue and Japan’s economic health. In contrast to the hype in Buenos Aires about Tokyo’s prosperity, the national debt stands at 10 trillion U.S. dollars, making the Japanese by far the most indebted people on the planet. Even TEPCO officials, including its vice president in charge of Fukushima operations, Zengo Aizawa, have scoffed at Abe’s nonsense and countered that the radioactive water leaks are out of control, despite his team’s best efforts.

Abe is a shameless liar and buffoon, while his pro-nuclear allies among IOC sponsors are only kidding themselves in a black comedy destined to careen into further disaster. The Tokyo bid is a hard act to follow, and the only thing that could equal this bad joke is if Ukraine places a bid to host the 2024 Chernobyl Olympics.

Yoichi Shimatsu, a Hong Kong-based science writer, is former editor of the Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo.

Syria: Has Obama Finally Forsaken the Insurgency?

September 16th, 2013 by Phil Greaves

Current events surrounding the Syrian conflict appear to be on the brink of a partial agreement toward peace.

Brokered by the United States and Russia, the new quick-fire round of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov have been promoted as a bilateral effort to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and move forward with talks to help end the crisis (Geneva II).

Yet parallel to the alleged chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta – which subsequently led to the diplomatic breakthrough between Washington and Moscow – a chain of events largely ignored may provide equally justifiable explanations as to why the United States chose to renege on its threats of overt military intervention, and towards public diplomacy and reconciliation.

Analysing the sequence of events leading up to, and surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack in Ghouta shows that Syria, and its ally Russia, have thwarted a determined attempt by the United States to overtly attack the Syrian Army, in what was a last-ditch effort to save the crumbling insurgency and avoid a regime victory.

The failure of the “Re-branded” insurgency.

Several reports leading up to the alleged chemical attack claim that the United States – in line with its covert policy of over two years – had prepared and deployed a “rebranded”, moderate, non-jihadist battalion of rebel fighters into Syria with the desired objective of creating a buffer-zone in the southern province of Da’raa (birthplace of the insurgency); from which the rebels would regroup and replenish supplies lost in consecutive defeats in preparation for a “Storm on Damascus”: a carbon-copy of the CIA’s strategy during the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – minus the crucial NATO airforce.

 An article from August the 22nd, authored by Yossef Bodansky, an Israeli-American political scientist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004 claims:

Starting Aug. 17 and 18, nominally Free Syrian Army (FSA) units — in reality a separate Syrian and Arab army trained and equipped by the CIA as well as Jordanian and other intelligence services — attempted to penetrate southern Syria from northern Jordan and start a march on Damascus. Two units, one 250-strong and one 300-strong, crossed into Syria and began advancing parallel to the Golan Heights border. Their aim was to break east and reach Daraa quickly in order to prepare the ground for the declaration of Daraa as the capital of a “Free Syria”. However, the CIA’s FSA forces met fierce resistance by the unlikely coalition of the Syrian Army, local jihadist forces (mainly the locally-raised Yarmuk Brigades), and even tribal units who fear the encroachment by outside forces on their domain. By Aug. 19 and 20, the FSA units were surrounded in three villages not far from the Israeli border.

Bodansky’s article is corroborated by a report published on the 22nd of August in French daily Le Figaro, which also alleges that a similar sized US-trained force, accompanied by Israeli, Jordanian and US commandos, had infiltrated Syria’s borders on the 17th of August from Jordan with the objective of creating a buffer-zone in Da’raa. The Figaro report does not state the new commando-escorted units encountered any resistance along the way, the report also fails to explain their whereabouts or justify their now obvious lack of success. In contrast to Bodansky’s version of events; Le Figaro purports that the Assad regime may have resorted to the use of chemical weapons due to an increased threat the new rebel units posed on Damascus. Analysis of the previous months of fighting in the Ghouta region, and the continuous gains made by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) suggest there was zero threat to the Assad regime’s seat of power coming from eastern Ghouta – or Da’raa for that matter. The precise opposite was in fact occurring, the SAA had been engaged in a concerted offensive in the Damascus suburbs and countryside for months; leaving rebel units in eastern Ghouta completely surrounded and increasingly desperate for supplies and ammunition. Moreover, the situation for the rebels was similarly desperate in almost the entirety of Da’raa, which had been stalemated for months with no significant gains for either side; the SAA had consolidated and fortified the areas it held in Da’raa whilst opposition rebel commanders repeatedly expressed their dismay at the lack of supplies and ammunition reaching them from Jordan.

 The alleged chemical weapons attack.

There is already a plethora of literature and credible analysis that debunks Washington’s allegations surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack, the claims are most importantly coming from a lead belligerent and architect of the conflict, yet even if one were to wrongly judge Washington as a neutral actor, they are still unverified, circumstantial, questionably sourced (to say the least), and in the words of top CIA officials “no slam dunk”, which makes them even-less credible than what turned out to be outright lies emanating from US intelligence sources in the lead up to Iraq. Washington’s claims simply don’t stand up to any serious scrutiny. Yet contrary to the many outstanding, and growing, contradictions and scepticism of the allegations; many analysts have pushed the theory that the regimes motive to use chemical weapons lay in its desperation to avoid defeat at the hands of the rebels. Incidentally, this supposed regime motive formed the “analysis” propagated by recently outed fraud “Liz O’Bagy” – a rebel lobbyist paid by the State Department and neocon think-tank the Institute for the study of war; to provide “tailored analysis” in a months-long propaganda campaign to portray the extremist dominated rebels as “moderate” western-friendly secularists. Yet when viewed with the above context, the supposed motive of a Götterdämmerung act by a regime in its final moments becomes even-less credible than it first appeared.

The regime was arguably in the strongest position it has been since it lost vast swathes of land during the height of the insurgency, not to mention the growing amount of anti-rebel sentiment within public opinion working in the regimes’ favour – both inside and outside of Syria.

Conversely, the rebels on the ground in Syria were becoming increasingly desperate, losing battles with the SAA consecutively for months on end, and increasingly turning to fighting between themselves over the spoils of war, or simply through ethnic intolerance, extremism and fundamentalism. The regime had long been planning a large military offensive in Ghouta to consolidate the gains it had made in recent months and secure its hold on the Damascus countryside. The few remaining pockets of rebel encampments were largely surrounded from all angles; reports from multiple outlets, including staunchly pro-rebel, spoke of a “siege” in Ghouta and rebels repeatedly being ambushed by the SAA trying to escape.  A Reuters report from August 7th read: “Adra.. in the Eastern Ghouta region,… has been besieged by the army for months.” Accordingly, the situation on the ground prior to the alleged chemical weapons attack was in no way a threat to Assad’s seat of power in Damascus, if any actor had the motive for a last-ditch attempt at saving their cause it was indeed the rebels, or their regional backers intent on exacerbating and continuing the conflict. 

Regardless of who actually committed the attack that occurred on August 21st in Ghouta, its desired outcome from Washington’s perspective (a casus belli – intentional or otherwise – to garner western intervention), did not play out how the administration would have hoped.

UK Parliament set the tone for Congress.

A major blow to Washington’s war-plans came at the hands of the UK general public and Parliament. Unfortunately for David Cameron, earlier this year UK MP’s forced the government to agree to a vote in the commons to determine any future military intervention in Syria. Now, with Cameron threatening immediate military “action” against Syria he recalled Parliament in an attempt to rush through the vote and kickstart the war alongside the United States. Cameron, in typical establishment arrogance presumed the massive public sentiment against military intervention would go unnoticed by the publics representatives and ministers would vote in favour of war. Cameron was sorely mistaken, the “shadow of Iraq” provided a platform for a resurgence of anti-war sentiment and low-level activism. MP’s were bombarded with mail and phone-calls from angry constituents demanding a no vote. Crucially, the immediate scepticism of US “intelligence” was brought out into the public realm in real-time and exposed as reminiscent of the fabrications that led to Iraq. Accordingly, on the 29th of August, Cameron lost his vote.

The Obama administration was deeply concerned by the result of the UK vote, their most loyal ally and partner in militarism would no longer be at their side, years of war-plans and covert logistics had fallen apart, and the illusion of the United States “leading the International Community from behind” was crumbling even quicker. Obama’s surprise decision to gain the approval of Congress for military intervention in Syria came just two days after Cameron’s equally surprising defeat. Yet alongside Obama’s apparent willingness to “have a debate” in Congress and hold a vote to authorise intervention; Obama and a number of his senior aides reiterated their intention to attack Syria with or without a successful result.

Following Cameron’s defeat in Parliament, and facing what looked to be a certain defeat in Congress, Obama’s proposed war on Syria was arguably more unpopular than any before it. Polls on both sides of the Atlantic regularly showed massive disapproval ratings for any intervention, with numbers only slightly higher even if the White House allegations were proven to be true. Alongside the usual uncritical repetition of US “intelligence assessments” and government stenography emanating from the majority of corporate media; the ever-growing alternative and independent outlets allowed the public to express their massive scepticism, and more importantly share independent and credible alternatives of information to a wider audience. Obama was facing a humiliating defeat, and was arguably by this point already searching for a way out of his self-imposed ultimatums.

Yet factions within the US alliance have a very different agenda, there are several actors that would prefer the Syrian war to remain “hot” indefinitely. The hawks within Israel are the most obvious candidates to be upset by this turn of events, as has been evidenced by what the IDF have termed their “optimal scenario” of endless civil war and partition. No doubt Israel will continue to pursue this overarching policy of subversion and destabilization.

There are other US clients that will undoubtedly be equally as miffed if the US has indeed reneged on its regime change policy (for now at least) in return for Assad’s CW stockpile. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have much invested in the “Syrian file”, but Washington calls the ultimate shots when it comes to matters of global affairs, if a deal has been brokered between Putin and Obama, “Prince Bandar Ibn Israel” will be put back to rest and the King will reluctantly oblige. Turkey, likewise, will also be unhappy at Obama’s apparent change of policy, but Erdogan may be under too much pressure of his own domestically to afford any serious solo effort at subverting Assad.

Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med.

On September the 3rd, two days prior to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the world awoke to reports that Russia’s defensive radar systems had detected two ballistic “objects” launched from the central Mediterranean on a flight path toward Syria’s eastern coast, where Russian navy ships currently reside; the missiles post-launch had apparently “fell into the sea”. At the time the finger was immediately pointed to Israel – who have attacked Syria at least three times with impunity in the past year alone – or possibly the United States, whose large Naval presence in the Med seemed the obvious primary suspect. Curiously, both Israel and the United States denied responsibility when the Russian reports were first released, then, only a few hours later Israel claimed responsibility for an apparent joint “test” launch with the Pentagon of a defensive missile system. The sheer recklessness of such an act – even if the innocent explanation were true – is hard to explain in such a circumstance. The US eventually confirmed the Israeli line that it was indeed a “test” missile launch with US assistance; after having first denied any knowledge of the incident.

The most likely explanation is Israel or the US were attempting to test Syria’s coastal defenses prior to any possible attack, but to do this without giving any notice to Russia in such a tense scenario seems reckless to say the least. Russian diplomats have repeatedly hinted that Russia would “help” Syria militarily in the event of a missile strike. It is quite possible that this incident was indeed an Israeli/US provocation in an attempt to garner a response from Syria, and in turn instigate a wider campaign. A report from Lebanese daily As Safir takes it one step further:

A well-informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired,… The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.” In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

Whether this account of events holds true or not, at the very least the missile launch appears to be an intentional provocation by either Israel or Washington, in a last-ditch attempt to incite retaliation and salvage the now broken strategy against Assad. Either way, Russia’s decision to quickly publicise the detection and subsequent flip-flop of denial and acceptance from Israel bolsters the theory in the As Safir report: why would Israel accept responsibility for this provocative “test”, yet deny responsibility for every other act of aggression they commit unimpeded? Could it have been to save the face of another defeated attempt to continue the war? It was following this incident, that Obama and Putin were due to meet at the G20 conference. With both leaders eager to go into any negotiations on Syria from a position of power at such a crucial stage, it also adds to the theory that Obama was in a rush to commence the war before opposition became too overbearing; as indeed it now evidently has.

Contrary to Obama’s plans, he entered the G20 summit from a position of weakness, both globally and domestically, opposition to a unilateral US war on another Arab state was only ever-increasing. Obama – or US foreign policy in general – has long-lost the vote of confidence within the UK population, and the Parliamentary vote may indeed yet herald a new era of UK foreign policy. Obama was losing the confidence vote in Congress; his domestic population; and within world leaders at the G20 – the majority of which started to make clear their desire to move towards Russia’s longstanding position based on the Geneva communique. Despite the mass effort western media put into spinning support for Obama, he came out of the G20 further weakened, it is likely by that point Obama had already made his decision that lead to Kerry’s supposed “gaffe”.

 John Kerry’s “gaffe” and the bargain.

In the two days following the G20, the US upheld its intransigent rhetoric in its attempts to rally support for war. John Kerry was scheduled to fly around Europe to pimp war on radio shows and TV interviews as any self-respecting humanitarian does – of course Willy Hague was more than eager to stand alongside Kerry to drum up support for a war the UK population has just stated clearly it wanted no part in. It was during this visit that Kerry made his now infamous “gaffe”, in which he flippantly offered Syria a way of avoiding imminent attack by giving up its chemical weapons stockpiles to international inspectors, Kerry said: “if Assad were to turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” there would be no US attack. It is indicative that once Russia had pounced on the deal the US chose to immediately play it down – for all of around two hours. The narrative then quickly shifted to what the US is now sticking to: the “deal” on CW was only implemented through the threat of US force. Yet the key point that both media and diplomats are avoiding is this: if the chemical weapons disarmament is due to run until “mid-2014″ under the Assad regime and the Syrian Army’s cooperation, and is likely to run into considerable setbacks and require a concerted logistical and cooperative effort from the government; then that is surely a tacit admission from Washington that Assad will remain in power until at least the proposed operation is over.

 In a revealing interview  on Sunday, Obama gave further sign of a shift in US policy and refused to be drawn on the future of Assad. Obama effectively announced the US intention of giving up on the insurgency, and said the “United States can’t get in the middle of somebody else’s civil war.” and reiterated previous statements that “We can’t enforce– militarily, a settlement there.” Has a deal to halt the US-led insurgency been done? Will the US stop arming jihadists now? Is Russia urging Syria to destroy its CW stockpile the carrot necessary to appease the angry donkey and the 800 pound gorilla (aka: the US military industrial complex & Israel)? In the remote scenario of a solid reconciliation between Russia and the US and a move toward peace; are Washington still able to control their autocratic clients in the Middle East?

Will the White House apply the required amounts of pressure on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, to halt arms supplies and funding to the rebels? Can Obama rein in the apartheid Israeli regime, and its determination to incite and prolong conflict between its Arab neighbours? And will the Obama administration attempt to replicate the Iraq scenario, by infiltrating, obstructing, and subverting the mission of the UN inspectors or the OPCW to engineer a pretext to attack Syria at a later date?

These are questions only time can answer. Regardless of future events and subsequent geopolitical dynamics, there are still thousands of extremists, mercenaries, and outright criminals currently waging war upon Syria and its people. To regain any semblance of stability and peace it is the United States that ultimately holds the levers to end the arms flow and state-sponsorship of the rebels. Tellingly, in a recent interview President Assad revealed a critical precondition of his own on any future CW disarmament deal:

“It is a bilateral process aimed principally at making the US cease pursuing its policy of aggression against Syria and proceed in compliance with the Russian initiative. When we see the US genuinely working towards stability in the region and stop threatening, striving to attack, and delivering arms to terrorists then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalised.”

Phil Greaves is a UK based writer/analyst, focusing on UK/US Foreign Policy and conflict analysis in the Middle East post WWII. http://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/

Despite the breakthrough agreement on the Syrian peace process reached in Geneva between Russian and American Foreign Ministers, the US administration did not give up its plans to oust President Assad and is still supporting the militants in Syria. Speaking in Paris today after the talks with French, British, Turkish and Saudi counterparts, SS John Kerry has repeated that the Syrian leader “lost all legitimacy” and “will have to leave even if Syria will fully cooperate with the UN on its Chemical Weapons program”.

Sounds like Washington’s claims are based on a realistic road map for transition of power in Damascus to some new secular political leaders. Problem is that after the dismissal of Ms. O’Bagy White House seemingly doesn’t have any. Ahmad al-Jabra

During Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria on September 3, John Kerry dropped only one name of a person he could wholeheartedly trust in Syrian chaos. He presented to the US Senators an opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba without providing too much detail. Perhaps senators do not care much about State Department’s protégé. But we do. So who is Mr. al-Jabra?

“Records reveal that official Riyadh handed over “the suspect Ahmad al-Jarba” to Damascus in 2008, on charges of drug trafficking, in accordance with an extradition agreement between Saudi and Syrian security services”,

writes journalist Nasser Charara in the influential Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar.

Ahmad al-Assi al-Jarba is well-known not only to Saudis but also to Qatari and Syrian security services as a fugitive wanted for criminal offenses. At different times three countries with rival ideology and very strained diplomatic relations characterized him as a top white-collar criminal. Being “in business” for more than a decade he established deep ties with Prince Bandar (“Bush”) bin Sultan of the Saudi ruling clan. Shadowy past and Westernized image makes Ahmad al-Jarba a perfect candidate for political manipulation. A man in suit and tie compares favorably with stereotypical terrorists on the US television screen.

As Nasser Charara continues:

The records also reveal another entry involving Jarba, which the Qatari security services undoubtedly also have in their records, as the source said: After the coup staged by the outgoing Emir of Qatar Hamad against his father Khalifa al-Thani, the latter’s foreign minister fled to Syria, where he became a vocal supporter for restoring the previous emir. At the time, according to the records, Emir Hamad’s people asked Ahmad al-Jarba to assassinate the exiled Qatari foreign minister in Syria. Al-Jarba even received payment after accepting to carry out the mission, the source claimed.

However, Jarba chose instead to expose the plot to the deposed Emir Khalifa, for which he also received a financial reward. The issue proved to have huge political consequences, prompting the Syrian state security agency to investigate and ultimately detain Jarba for a total of five months on counts of fraud.

No need to comment. The United States are going to replace president Assad by an uncontrollable, hypocritical and perfidious figure in Syria.

John Kerry presented Ahmad al-Jarba in Senate as a secular alternative to Al-Qaeda. The only thing he forgot to mention is that both brutal jihadists and spokesmen like Ahmad al-Jarba are sponsored by the same man – the chief of Saudi intelligence. This fact throws new light on Al Jabra’s “Syrian National Coalition” (SNC) attempts to wreck Geneva-2 peace talks. Saudi umbrella organizations are established to wage wars, not to seek diplomatic solutions.

The only way out of this zugzwang situation is to stop challenging legitimate government in Damascus and to leave way for a broad national reconciliation process in Syria under the guarantees of the great powers. All alternatives are leading to a deadlock.

Copyright Oriental Review 2013

Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals

September 16th, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

“The goon thug psychopaths no longer only brutalize minorities–it is open season on all of us –the latest victim is a petite young white mother of two small children

The worse threat every American faces comes from his/her own government.

At the federal level the threat is a seventh war (Syria) in 12 years, leading on to the eighth and ninth (Iran and Lebanon) and then on to nuclear war with Russia and China.

The criminal psychopaths in Washington have squandered trillions of dollars on their wars, killing and dispossessing millions of Muslims while millions of American citizens have been dispossessed of their homes and careers.  Now the entire social safety net is on the chopping bloc so that Washington can finance more wars.

At the state and local level every American faces brutal, armed psychopaths known as the police. The “law and order” conservatives and the “compassionate” liberals stand silent while police psychopaths brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheel chairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs, and terrify the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of small children.  

The American police perform no positive function. They pose a much larger threat to citizens than do the criminals who operate without a police badge.  Americans would be  safer if the police forces were abolished.  

The police have been militarized and largely federalized by the Pentagon and the gestapo Homeland Security. The role of the federal government in equipping state and local police with military weapons, including tanks, and training in their use has essentially removed the police from state and local control.  No matter how brutal any police officer, it is rare that any suffer more than a few months suspension, usually with full pay, while a report is concocted that clears them of any wrong doing.

In America today, police murder with impunity.  All the psychopaths have to say is, “I thought his wallet was a gun,” or “we had to taser the unconscious guy we found lying on the ground, because he wouldn’t obey our commands to get up.”

There are innumerable cases of 240 pound cop psychopaths beating a 115 pound woman black and blue.  Or handcuffing and carting off to jail 6 and 7 year old boys for having a dispute on the school playground.

Many Americans take solace in their erroneous belief that this only happens to minorities who they believe deserve it, but psychopaths use their unaccountable power against everyone. The American police are a brutal criminal gang free of civilian control.

Unaccountable power, which the police have, always attracts psychopaths.  You are lucky if you only get bullies, but mainly police forces attract people who enjoy hurting people and tyrannizing them.  To inflict harm on the public is why psychopaths join police forces.

Calling the police is a risky thing to do. Often it is the person who calls for help or some innocent person who ends up brutalized or murdered by the police.  For example, on September 15 CNN reported a case of a young man who wrecked his car and went to a nearby house for help. The woman, made paranoid by the “war on crime,” imagined that she was in danger and called police. When the police arrived, the young man ran up to them, and the police shot him dead. 

People who say the solution is better police training are unaware of how the police are trained. Police are trained to perceive the public as the enemy and to use maximum force. I have watched local police forces train. Two or three dozen officers will simultaneously empty their high-capacity magazines at the same target, a minimum of 300 bullets fired at one target. The purpose is to completely destroy whatever is on the receiving end of police fire.

US prosecutors seem to be the equal to police in terms of the psychopaths in their ranks.  The United States, “the light unto the world,” not only has the highest percentage of its population in prison of every other country in the world, but also has the largest absolute number of people in prison. The US prison population is much larger in absolute numbers that the prison populations of China and India, countries with four times the US population.

Just try to find a prosecutor who gives a hoot about the innocence or guilt of the accused who is in his clutches.  All the prosecutor cares about is his conviction rate.

The higher his conviction rate, the greater his success even if every person convicted is innocent. The higher his conviction rate, the more likely he can run for public office.

Many prosecutors, such as Rudy Giuliani, target well known people so that they can gain name recognition via the names of their victims.

The American justice (sic) system serves the political ambitions of prosecutors and the murderous lusts of police psychopaths.  It serves the profit motives of the privatized prisons who need high occupancy rates for their balance sheets.

But you can bet your life that the American justice (sic) system does not serve justice.

While writing this article, I googled “police brutality,” and google delivered 4,100,000 results.  If a person googles “police brutality videos,” he will discover that there are more videos than could be watched in a lifetime.  And these are only those acts of police brutality that are witnessed and caught on camera.

It would take thousands of pages just to compile the information available.

The facts seem to support the case that police in the US commit more crimes and acts of violence against the public than do the criminals who do not wear badges. According to the FBI crime Statistics in 2010 there were 1,246,248 violent crimes committed by people without police badges. Keep in mind that the definition of violent crime can be an expansive definition. For example, simply to push someone is considered assault.  If two people come to blows in an argument, both have committed assault.  However, even with this expansive definition of violent crimes, police assaults are both more numerous and more dangerous, as it is usually a half dozen overweight goon thugs beating and tasering one person.

Reports of police brutality are commonplace, but hardly anything is ever done about them. For example, on September 10, AlterNet reported that Houston, Texas, police routinely beat and murder local citizens.

The threat posed to the public by police psychopaths is growing rapidly. Last July 19 the

Wall Street Journal reported:  “Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment–from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers–American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the warrior cop–armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

The Wall Street Journal, being an establishment newspaper, has to put it as nicely as possible.  The bald fact is that today’s cop in body armor with assault weapons, grenades, and tanks is not there to make arrests of suspected criminals.  He is there in anticipation of protests to beat down the public for exercising constitutional rights.

To suppress public protests is also the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security Police, a federal para-military police force that is a new development for the United States.  No one in their right mind could possibly think that the vast militarized police have been created because of “the terrorist threat.”  Terrorists are so rare that the FBI has to round up demented people and talk them into a plot so that the “terrorist threat” can be kept alive in the public’s mind.

The American public is too brainwashed to be able to defend itself.  Consider the fact

that cops seldom face any consequence when they murder citizens. We never hear cops called “citizen killer.”  But if a citizen kills some overbearing cop bully, the media go ballistic:  “Cop killer, cop killer.”   The screaming doesn’t stop until the cop killer is executed.

As long as a brainwashed public continues to accept that cop lives are more precious than their own, citizens will continue to be brutalized and murdered by police psychopaths.

I can remember when the police were different.  If there was a fight, the police broke it up.  If it was a case of people coming to blows over a dispute, charges were not filed.

If it was a clear case of assault, unless it was brutal or done with use of a weapon, the police usually left it up to the victim to file charges. 

When I lived in England, the police walked their beats armed only with their billysticks.

When and why did it all go wrong?  Among the collection of probable causes are the growth or urban populations, the onslaught of heavy immigration on formerly stable and predictable neighborhoods, the war on drugs, and management consultants called in to improve efficiency who focused police on quantitative results, such as the number of arrests, and away from such traditional goals as keeping the peace and investigating reported crimes. 

Each step of the way accountability was removed in order to more easily apprehend criminals and drug dealers.  The “war on terror” was another step, resulting in the militarization of the police. 

The replacement of jury trials with plea bargains meant that police investigations ceased to be tested in court or even to support the plea, usually a fictitious crime reached by negotiation in order to obtain a guilty plea.  Police learned that all prosecutors needed was a charge and that little depended on police investigations.  Police work became sloppy. It was easier simply to pick up a suspect who had a record of having committed a similar crime.

As justice receded as the goal, the quality of people drawn into police work changed. Idealistic people found that their motivations were not compatible with the process, while bullies and psychopaths were attracted by largely unaccountable power.

Much of the blame can be attributed to “law and order” conservatives.  Years ago when New York liberals began to observe the growing high-handed behavior of police, they called for civilian police review boards. Conservatives, such as National Review’s William F. Buckley, went berserk, claiming that any oversight over the police would hamstring the police and cause crime to explode. 

The conservatives could see no threat in the police, only in an effort to hold police accountable. As far as I can tell, this is still the mindset.

What we observed in the police response to the Boston Marathon bombing suggests that the situation is irretrievable.  One of the country’s largest cities and its suburbs–100 square miles–was tightly locked down with no one permitted to leave their homes, while 10,000 heavily armed police, essentially combat soldiers armed with tanks, forced their way into people’s homes, ordering them out at gunpoint. The excuse given for this unprecedented gestapo police action was a search for one wounded 19-year old kid. 

That such a completely unnecessary and unconstitutional event could occur in Boston without the responsible officials being removed from office indicates that “the land of the free” no longer exists. The American population of the past, suspicious of government and jealous of its liberty, has been replaced by a brainwashed and fearful people, who are increasingly referred to as “the sheeple.”

Remembering the Sabra And Shatila Massacre

September 16th, 2013 by Global Research News

Monday September 16, 2013 marks the 31st anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre that took place starting on September 16 1982, after the Israeli occupation army, led back then by Ariel Sharon, surrounded the refugee camp after invading Beirut, and granted access to the Phalanges to enter the camp to slaughter its refugees.

The massacre lasted for three days (16, 17 and 18 of September 1982), approximately 3500-8000 persons, including children, infants, women and elderly were slaughtered and murdered in this horrific and gruesome massacre perpetrated by the Israeli army and its allied criminal militia.

Back then, around 20.000 refugees lived in the refugee camp that was supposed, as any other camp, to receive international protection.

Israeli soldiers, led by Sharon and Chief of Staff, Rafael Etan, made sure their forces are surrounding the refugee camp, isolated it from its surrounding, and allowed the Phalanges to invade it and murder thousands of innocent refugees using white weapons.

The Israeli army also fired hundreds of flares during the massacres in night hours to enable the murderers to commit their war crime. The army claimed that it was searching for nearly 1500 Palestinian freedom fighters who allegedly were in the camp.

Wikipeida

But the fighters were somewhere else, joining battle fronts countering the Israeli aggression, and most of those left in the camp, left to face their horrific end, were elderly women and children.

Israel wanted to avenge its defeat after engaging in a three-month battle and siege that ended by international guarantees, to protect the civilians the Palestinian resistance left Beirut as part of an agreement that assured the protection of civilians.

Israel wanted to send a message to the Palestinian refugees; it wanted to continue its aggression and invasion into Lebanon in 1982.

Ariel Sharon, who served as Israel’s Defense Minister, led the assault.

Following the massacre, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the circumstances that led to this ugly crime against thousands of helpless refugees.

In 1983, the Cahan Commission announced the results of what it called “investigation” of the massacre, and decided that Sharon is “indirectly responsible” as he ignored the possibility of it taking place, ignored the danger of bloodshed and revenge.

Sharon continued his political career, to become Prime Minister and held various important positions until he suffered stroke on January 4 2006, and has been in a been in a permanent vegetative state since then.

The committee also denounced the stance of Israel’s Prime Minister back then, Menachem Begin, his Foreign Minister, Rafael Etan, and various military and security leaders, for not “doing enough to prevent or stop the massacre”.

The massacre was not the first, nor the last, as Israeli soldiers carried out numerous massacres against the Palestinian people in different places including Deir Yassin, Qibya, Tantour, Jenin, Jerusalem, Hebron and so many areas.

Not a single Israeli official, commander or soldier was ever held accountable for the ugly crimes, and massacres, against the Palestinian people.

The massacre in Sabra and Shatila was carried out in direct collaboration with various leaders, including Saad Haddad, who was in charge of a unit of the Lebanese army before aligning himself in 1979 with the South Lebanon Army militia, and was working with the Israeli occupation forces.

He also announced the so-called “Free Lebanon” forces in Lebanese territories that fell under illegal Israeli occupation in the south.

Haddad dispatched members of his army from southern Lebanon to Bruit Airport, then to Sabra and Shatila, where they had a prominent role in the massacre. He died of a terminal illness on January 14 1984.

Fadi Ferm, who was married to one of the granddaughters of the Phalange Party founder, Pierre Gemayel, was appointed by Bashir Gemayel as the leader of the Lebanese Force militia in 1982 after Bashir Gemayel was elected present, just one day before his assassination.

Ferm moved through the ranks of the Lebanese Force, later on became the head of the Military Intelligence of the LF Militia, and then became the deputy chief before he became the commander.

Bashir Gemayel, the militia commander, and president-elect in Lebanon, was a senior member of the Phalange party, and was the commander of the Lebanese Forces militia during the first several years of the Civil War in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990.

During the Sabra and Shatila massacres, Gemayel was the leader giving the Lebanese Force militia orders to invade the refugee camps.

He was elected president during the civil war, and while southern Lebanon was under Israeli military occupation. He was assassinated on September 14 1982, along with 26 persons, by an explosion that took place in the Phalange headquarters in Beirut.

Months before Sharon and his army invading Lebanon, Bashir had a meeting with Sharon who told him that his army would be invading Lebanon to remove the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its fighters from the country.

The Indian rupee touched a lifetime low of 68.85 against the US dollar on August 28, 2013. The rupee plunged by 3.7 percent on the day in its biggest single-day percentage fall in more than two decades. Since January 2013, the rupee has lost more than 20 percent of its value, the biggest loser among the Asian currencies.

There is no denying that India is not the only emerging market experiencing a rapid decline in its currency’s value. Several emerging market currencies are also experiencing sharp depreciation over the prospect of imminent tapering of the US Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing (QE) program. The South African rand and the Brazilian real touched four-year lows against the US dollar in June 2013. Except the Chinese Yuan and Bangladeshi Taka, most Asian currencies have witnessed sharp depreciation since the beginning of 2013.

Nevertheless, the Indian rupee has fared much worse than other emerging market currencies because of its twin deficits – current account and fiscal deficits. The foreign investors are particularly concerned over India’s bloated current account deficit (CAD) which surged to a record high of US$88.2 billion (4.8 percent of GDP) in 2012-13. Despite a modest recovery in the rupee’s value between September 4 and 12, the investors remain wary of India’s excessive dependence on volatile “hot money” flows to finance its current account deficit.

Over the past several months, India’s exports have considerably slowed down due to weak demand from traditional markets such as the US and Europe. While high imports of gold and crude oil have pushed country’s trade and current account deficits wider. The gold and silver imports were nearly $33 billion (bn) during January-May 2013.

From Capital Glut to Capital Flight

There is ample reason for concern that capital outflows from India and other emerging markets will rapidly accelerate if the Federal Reserve decides to curtail its bond-buying program on September 17. This move would lead to higher interest rates in the US and investors may dump risky emerging markets assets in favor of safe havens. 

Since the beginning of QE program, much of the money has leaked into emerging markets offering higher yields and better growth prospects. The emerging markets have been the biggest beneficiaries of Fed’s loose monetary policy, which has pumped extra liquidity since the global financial crisis of 2008. According to the IMF, emerging markets received nearly $4 trillion in capital flows from 2009 to early this year.

The investors borrowed cheap short-term money in the US and invested in higher yielding assets in India, Indonesia, South Africa and other emerging markets. This resulted in more money flowing into debt, equity and commodity markets in these countries. In India, many companies resorted to heavy borrowings overseas. The massive capital inflows also enabled India to comfortably finance its trade and current account deficits rather than addressing the structural aspects of CAD.

However, this money will quickly leave India and other emerging markets when the tapering of QE program begins. Already, emerging markets are witnessing a huge outflow of dollars as investors have started pulling money out of bond and equity markets. The foreign investors pulled out a record Rs.620 bn ($10 bn) from the Indian debt and equity markets during June-July 2013. If the Federal Reserve decides to taper the QE program, the liquidity withdrawal would continue to put pressure on the rupee over the next 12 to 18 months.

Other Developments

There are a host of other factors which have added to the bearish sentiments on the rupee. Economic growth in India in the first quarter (April-June 2013) slipped to 4.4% due to a contraction in manufacturing and mining. A sharp rise in domestic food prices has also put a grinding pressure on the rupee.

Apart from economic factors, the rupee remains vulnerable to rising global oil prices and geo-political tensions in the Middle East and North Africa. As the threat of US-led war against Syria rises, oil prices are expected to rise which will further make it difficult for the Indian government to reduce CAD since India imports over 80 percent of its oil.

The Belated Policy Response

During July-August 2013, following measures were announced by the Indian authorities to stem the depreciation of rupee and contain the current account deficit:

• The duties on the import of gold, silver and platinum were increased to 10 percent.

• The limits on foreign ownership of sensitive sectors (such as telecoms and insurance) were further liberalized.

• New restrictions were imposed on Indian residents seeking to send money abroad to buy property.

• In mid-August, the existing limits on overseas direct investments by Indian companies were substantially reduced. However, this policy was withdrawn by the new governor of RBI on September 3.

• The interest rates limits for deposits meant for non-resident Indians were liberalized. 

• New restrictions on open interest on USD-INR trades were imposed.

• Banks have been banned from trading in domestic currency futures and the exchange-traded options market on their own. Banks can only trade on behalf of their clients.

• The margin requirement on the domestic dollar-rupee forward trade was increased to 100 percent of the traded amount, which means investors will have to give the entire amount of the transaction upfront.

• The state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) – which buy dollars to finance their imports – were asked to trade only with a single state-owned bank. 

It is surprising to note is that the above-mentioned policy measures failed to arrest the sliding value of the rupee in the currency markets.

Forex Swap Window for OMCs: A Sensible Policy Move

On August 28, the RBI announced a forex swap window for OMCs to meet their daily dollar requirement of over $400 million through a designated bank. The OMCs will have to return the dollars to the RBI at a later date. By offering this facility to OMCs, the RBI took away a monthly demand of $9 bn from the currency markets. This sensible move by outgoing RBI governor D Subbarao had an immediate impact as it successfully tamed speculative pressures on the rupee.

The RBI had announced a similar forex facility for OMCs at the onset of global financial crisis in 2008. This facility, however, was subsequently withdrawn. In August 2013, Brazil also announced a $60 bn currency swap facility for companies and investors who wish to buy dollars. Under this facility, the Banco Central do Brasil, country’s central bank, will offer $3 bn of dollar loans and swaps per week till December 31, 2013. The central bank may provide additional funds operations to meet the dollar demand.

The Rise of Offshore NDF Market

Amidst all these developments, the critical role played by the offshore non-delivery forward (NDF) market in determining the value of rupee should not be overlooked. The rupee NDF market has mushroomed in key global financial centers with the liberalization of trade and capital flows since the 1990s. 

NDFs are over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives instruments for trading in non-convertible currencies such as the Indian rupee and the Korean won. The contracts are called “non-deliverable” since no delivery of the underlying currency takes place on maturity. The counterparties settle the contracts on maturity by paying the difference between the spot rate (decided by the RBI) and NDF rate, usually in US dollars.

Since NDFs are the OTC derivatives, the actual size of the market is not known but various surveys suggest that the trading volumes in the NDF markets are larger than the onshore markets. According to a study by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the daily turnover in offshore rupee NDF market was $10.8 bn in 2010, nearly 52 percent of the total turnover ($20.8 bn) in foreign exchange forwards and forex swaps.

The NDF market for the rupee is mainly concentrated in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, London and New York. In recent years, London has become a key centre for trading in the rupee NDFs. According to FXJSC Semi-Annual FX Turnover Surveys, the average daily trading in rupee NDFs in London increased from $1.5 bn in 2008 to $5.2 bn in 2012, a jump of 250 percent.

Being an offshore market, the Indian authorities have no powers to enforce regulations on it. The domestic banks and companies are not allowed to transact in the NDF markets. The main participants in the rupee NDF market consist of commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, currency speculators, international subsidiaries of Indian companies and big diamond merchants.

Although the NDF market is primarily meant to provide a platform to companies to hedge their foreign exchange risk and related exposures, the dominant players in this market are the speculators (who bet on the movement of the rupee) and arbitrageurs (who exploit the price differentials between offshore and onshore markets).

The Growing Influence of NDF Market

Being a 24×7 market, the offshore NDF market exerts considerable pressure on onshore currency markets, particularly when the market sentiment is fragile for the rupee. Before Indian markets open for trading, the NDF markets in Hong Kong and Singapore set the price movement of the rupee. A bearish or bullish trend in the NDF market set the tone for trading in the domestic rupee market.

An empirical study by a RBI staff member found that there are volatility spillovers from NDF market to spot and forward markets in India. The study also found that the magnitude of volatility spillover from NDF to spot and forward markets has become higher after currency futures were introduced in India in 2008. This is probably due to large arbitrage taking place between futures and NDF market, says the study.

In its latest Annual Report (2012-13), the RBI has acknowledged that there is a long-term relationship between the spot and NDF markets for the rupee. “During the period of depreciation, shocks originating in the NDF market may carry more information, which gets reflected in on-shore segments of the market through mean and volatility spillovers”, states the Report.

Foreign Banks Playing the Arbitrage Game

Since foreign banks and institutional investors are present in both onshore and offshore markets, they profit from huge arbitrage opportunities using the prevailing negative sentiments in the market. Such entities buy dollar-rupee forwards in onshore market and sell forwards in offshore NDF market. According to India Forex Advisors (a foreign exchange consulting and treasury management firm), a large demand for forward dollar pushes up forward rate and thereby influences the spot exchange rate in India. As witnessed during July-August 2013, the increased speculative trading in the NDF market exacerbated volatility in both the spot and the forward market in India.

Primarily six foreign banks (namely Citibank, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS, J P Morgan, and Standard Chartered Bank) are the key players arbitraging between the rupee NDF market and domestic markets. Besides, a few international subsidiaries of big Indian corporations and some diamond merchants are also engaged in arbitrage practice.

What are the Policy Options for India?

Several episodes of financial crises in the 1990s (from Mexico to Southeast Asia) highlight the eminent role played by current account deficits in triggering a currency crisis. An economic boom fueled by short-term capital inflows and debt-driven consumption is a recipe for currency crash. 

India’s external sector vulnerability is a symptom of a much deeper malaise in overall development strategy and domestic policymaking. Despite the deterioration in major indicators of external sector vulnerability, the policymakers remain complacent in defending India’s growth story.  There are no quick fixes to country’s imbalanced external sector and the Indian economy remains vulnerable to external shocks and global liquidity conditions.

Some analysts believe that India can rely on its foreign exchange (forex) reserves of $275 bn to arrest the currency fall. But India’s short-term external debt (with a maturity of one year or less) has already reached an alarming level. According to the official statistics, India’s short-term external debt stood at $116 bn in March 2013 and the ratio of volatile capital flows (consisting of short-term debt and portfolio investments) to country’s forex reserves was as high as 96 percent. At current levels, the forex reserves can barely meet the country’s import bill for seven months.

Firstly, New Delhi should take urgent policy measures to curb inessential imports. Since increasing exports may take considerable time, it is desirable to impose more curbs on gold, silver and non-essential items. In addition to higher custom duties, strict quantitative restrictions on the import of gold, silver and non-essential items should be imposed. The government should also consider imposing higher custom duties on those consumer electronics goods which are not part of Information Technology Agreement of the WTO. Indeed, such a policy regime may encourage smuggling but there are ways and means to check it. 

Since oil is the biggest item in its import bill, India should immediately accept Iran’s offer to sell crude oil entirely in rupees and at concessional terms. By accepting this offer, India could potentially save $8.5 bn in foreign exchange spending. Oil imports from Iran have declined substantially in the last five years due to unilateral sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.

Secondly, India should immediately work out modalities for trading of goods in local currencies. India could begin trading in local currencies with BRICS partners and Asian countries. Russia, Malaysia and some other countries have expressed interest in trading in local currencies with India.

Thirdly, issuing dollar-denominated sovereign bonds in the midst of a crisis-like situation is a risky proposition. Besides, India will have to offer a higher rate of interest to attract investors which in turn would further increase country’s external indebtedness.

Instead of approaching the IMF for a standby loan which comes with stiff conditions, India could enter into currency swap agreements with key trading partners. Recently, India and Japan expanded their bilateral currency swap facility to $50 bn. On the sidelines of the G20 Summit at St Petersburg in September 2013, BRICS countries worked out operational details of launching a $100 bn Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) to ease balance of payment difficulties.

Fourthly, to rein in rampant speculation and manipulative activities in the offshore NDF market, the RBI should work out arrangements with other regulatory authorities in the form of information sharing and the setting of general standards. Currently, a new regulatory framework for OTC derivatives market is under preparation following the Dodd-Frank Act in the US, the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) in Europe and the Basel III standards. As a member of G20, India should engage in the ongoing international initiatives aimed at increasing transparency and reducing systemic risk posed by the $560 trillion global OTC derivatives market.

Lastly, the Indian authorities should not hesitate to impose capital controls as a macroeconomic policy tool to protect the domestic economy from a sudden capital flight. In this regard, capital controls imposed by Malaysia and Iceland on the capital outflows are worth examining.

Kavaljit Singh works with Madhyam, a policy research institute based in New Delhi (www.madhyam.org.in).

Read this report very carefully. It says the truth.  It reveals how the lives of innocent children were used as part of a criminal staged event, which was subsequently used to justify a military agenda on humanitarian grounds.

The preliminary report of  The International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria under the helm of Mother Agnes Mariam can be accessed in pdf    (GR Editor, MCh) 

To read the full report in pdf click here   (large pdf slow download)

Excerpt from the Forward of the Study:

“From the moment when some families of abducted children contacted us to inform us that they recognized the children among those who are presented in the videos as victims of the Chemical Attacks of East Ghouta, we decided to examine the videos thoroughly.  … 

Our first concern was the fate of the children we see in the footages.  Those angels are always alone in the hands of adult males that seem to be elements of armed gangs. The children that trespassed remain without their families and unidentified all the way until they are wrapped in the white shrouds of the burial. Moreover our study highlights without any doubt that their little bodies were manipulated and disposed with theatrical arrangements to figure in the screening.

If the studied footages were edited and published to exhibit pieces of evidence to accuse the Syrian State of perpetrating the chemical attacks on East Ghouta, our discoveries incriminate the editors and actors of forged facts through a lethal manipulation of unidentified children.

Thus we want to raise awareness toward the humanitarian case of this criminal use of children in the political propaganda of the East Ghouta Chemical Weapons Attack

We present this work to distinguished Spiritual Leaders, Heads of State, Members of Parliament Humanitarian actors and to any person who has heart for truth and justice and seeks to due accountability for evil deeds.

Mother Agnes Mariam de La Croix,

President,  International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria

To read the full report in pdf click here

This report is preliminary. The final report with interactive links to the videos and sources is forthcoming.

Spread this report far and wide, post it on Facebook. May truth and justice prevail.

New York, New York: Media outlets love anniversaries. They become the makers and news-pegs for one-day stories that become pretexts for episodic coverage of key issues that substitute for ongoing critical reporting,

It’s a form of nostalgic ‘how are we doing coverage ‘ that aims to depoliticize the past or give us a grade, but not look too closely at the causes of the crisis.

 So, no surprise, the President will mark the occasion this week, with, what else—a speech, no less than a speech, really “remarks,” aimed at providing a positive spin for a series of economic disasters that we have yet to climb out of.

Reuters reports: “A White House official said Obama will deliver remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, which was accelerated on September 15, 2008 when the Lehman Brothers firm filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Democratic president will focus on the positive, discussing progress made and highlighting his prescriptions for boosting job creation amid budget battles expected with Republicans in Congress in the weeks ahead.”

Is this really an anniversary? Bear in mind that that venerable bank, Bear Sterns went down a year earlier, in 2007, and that consumers were being targeted by financial predators pedaling subprime loans and other financial frauds for many years prior.

To anoint an anniversary, you need a date, even if it is not precise, and, so, the mensas in our media have decided that the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank in 2008—an event that is still mostly murky–with many saying that the government acted irresponsibly in letting this “too big to fail” financial institution fail, has been identified as the tipping point.

 The London-based Guardian, unlike most of the American press revisited just what brought Lehman down. (It was a bank incidentally where was one third owned by its employees.) They interviewed Michele Nicoletta, then chief of “Latin American flow credit trading” at Lehman, and the person in charge of the firm’s trading of bonds and credit derivatives in emerging markets.

 Heidi Moore reports, “The public recriminations against the firm were difficult to bear, she says, knowing that Lehman was paying the price for the risk-taking culture most veterans considered normal at all Wall Street firms. “I think Lehman was a bit of a scapegoat. It got singled out. There was a lot of speculation as to why Lehman was the chosen one as opposed to anyone else. I don’t think Lehman was the house of greed; I think Lehman was made an example of, and it was unfortunate.”

Lehman’s collapse, according to studies of that volatile period, was blamed on then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who, when heading Goldman Sachs, was a prime competitor. His animus towards Lehman was reportedly bitter and very personal.

Lehman was headed by Dick Fuld. another brass knuckles Wall Street warrior, who later referred to himself as “the most hated man in America.” Like his competitors he rode the fraud intensive subprime mortgage market to glory until it imploded over one of Americas most prestigious banks and turned him into the financial equivalent of Dante’s inferno.

Fuld became scapegoat, #1 in part because of his arrogance and lousy PR skills, but he was hardly alone in defrauding customers and short-changing our economy.

Another Guardian article puts the date of this “anniversary” in doubt too, after talking with Lord Turner who took over as chairman of Britain’s SEC, the Financial Services Authority, a week after the American authorities failed to find a buyer for Lehman. Noting, (He) believes the crisis pre-dated the collapse of Lehman, and even the run on Northern Rock in September 2007.

“For me,” he said, “the lesson learnt is that the roots of this crisis go back very deep. Over a number of decades we allowed too much leverage to grow in the real economy, and we allowed the banking system to become over-leveraged. I think we were running a system with such small buffers of capital and liquidity that by 2006-07 a crisis was bound to occur.

 …”We created an over-leveraged financial system and an over-leveraged real economy.”

So much for the idea of a “fifth anniversary” that the media is turning into a news event! It was the system that created the crisis, not any one banker.

Another British paper, The Independent, writes: “Amid hours of television and acres of newsprint devoted to the inauspicious anniversary of the banking crisis’s defining moment, there really remains only one question: have we changed enough to stop it happening again?

To put it another way, has Washington created a safe banking system, forcing Wall Street to take fewer risks, or have the bankers won again, lobbying the politicians to retain the status quo? Unfortunately for taxpayers, the answer is: mainly the latter.”

We know that the people who were hurt the most for the most part were not on bankers on Wall Street, as Derek Thompson reports in the Atlantic in an article called, “ Employment is down and profits are up.”

 “Six years after the recession started, five years after the crash, and four years after the recovery began, the share of the country with a job has declined by more than 7 percent, “ he writes.

 “And yet … corporate profits are crushing, again. The stock market is setting weekly nominal records, again. Home prices are rising, again. Finance is flush, again. The financial crisis supposedly “changed everything.” It really hasn’t.”

The advocacy organization, Public Citizen, sums up the ongoing damage:

•”Amount the crash cost the U.S. economy: $22 trillion

•How much everyone would get if that $22 trillion were divided equally among the U.S. populace: $69,478.88

•Assets of the four biggest banks in America — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wachovia/Wells Fargo — when they were “too big to fail” in 2008: $6.4 trillion

 •Assets of those four banks today: $7.8 trillion

•Of the 63 former Lehman Brothers employees identified by a bankruptcy examiner as being aware of an accounting scheme Lehman used to mask its true finances, number who are employed in senior financial services positions today: 47”

Meanwhile, the 1% on the top has done very well. AlterNet interviews Inequality experts Inequality experts Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez who say we are now in the aftermath of a crisis that is being discussed, as if it is over, is facing the biggest gap between rich and poor ever recorded by economists.

 They say, “In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the top 1 percent has gobbled up nearly all of the income gains in the first three years of the “recovery” — a stupefying 95 percent. Economic inequality is even worse than it was before the crash. In fact, last year the rich took home the largest share of income since 1917 with the exception of only one year: 1928.”

 President Obama has been so obsessed with the war victims in Syria that he seems to have forgotten the victims of the economic calamity in America. Tell me why he’s marking Wall Street’s penchant for disaster capitalism when he should be identifying with the people who are standing up to Wall Street.

As it happens, the day after President Oama, tsk-tsks about an arbitrarily selected event five years ago, there will be a real anniversary on September 17th here in New York to commemorate the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

Charles Blow of the New York Times reports that even as the movement flagged, its key slogan about the %99% versus the 1% has won broad acceptance.

He writes, “There are signs that the narrative may have taken hold in some parts of the electorate beyond the protesters in the parks and beyond a presidential campaign between an up-from-the-bottom, charismatic incumbent and his awkward aristocratic competitor.”

He points to the victory of a populist politician as a candidate for New York’s Mayor—an Anti-Bloomberg in a city that watched Bloomberg use the police to physically attack the OWS.

 He also argues,” There are also national signs of unease. According to a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, fewer than 8 percent of respondents thought that, after the recent recession, government policies have helped the poor, the middle class or small business a great deal. About five times as many believe they’ve helped the wealthy, large banks and other financial institutions, and large corporations.

 And as the stock market soars for those with enough money to be in it, a Gallup poll released Thursday found that one in five Americans say they have struggled to afford food in the last year and that access to basic needs is near a record low.”

We don’t need the New York Times to tell us all this but at least they can’t bury the real economic blues as much as they did any more.

 The chief Investment officer of the Bank of America tells Business Insider that hefears the economy is still what he calls “crashy,” and warns “if the US economy does not significantly accelerate in coming quarters, it never will.”

His message to market boosters: “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

What this and many similar articles are saying is a real economic recovery and more job creation is very unlikely, In fact, all the war talk over the last week and the new debt debate is just making things more uncertain.

What’s as bad is the fact that most of the reforms proposed to insure more stability were whittled away by legislators under heavy lobbying pressure from the banksters, Phil Angelides who ran the Financial Crisis Commission is warning we are not out of the woods.

He is not being listened to today any more than he was when he issued his damming report. (I wrote the foreword to the Cosimo Press edition of the illuminating study.”) For a far more enlightened discussion, see: (http://youtu.be/rY-U9A7f-7o) of what happened with Lehman and is still happening

So please don’t break out the bubbly to celebrate this phony anniversary. Instead do what you can to revive and reenergize Occupy Wall Street to fight the battle for economic justice that is far from won.

 News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at News Dissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org. Danny wrote The Crime of Our Time on the financial frauds that deepened the crisis as a companion to his film: Plunder The Crime of Our  Time. His earlier film, In Debt We Trust forecast an economic collapse in 2006. Comments to [email protected].

 

The Obama administration wants war with Syria.  It has been planned for quite some time.  It does not matter what kind of deal was made.  It does not mean that the crisis in Syria is over and that a peaceful solution is in a matter of time.  The US will attempt anything to get into another war including a “False Flag” operation, which could be well on its way.  Syria has just been given a week to declare its chemical weapons with the condition to allow international inspectors into the country. 

The deal was reached between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.  At the press conference before the agreement, Kerry had said “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting, but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done“.  No matter what Russia and the international community do to prevent any escalation of war, the Obama administration wants to launch strikes destabilizing the Assad government and the Middle East.  President Bashar al-Assad will not accept continued US threats against his country while Western backed rebels are committing atrocities against civilians, most recently the attack on the Christian city of Maaloula.  Syrian government forces eventually regained control of Maaloula.  The talks between the US and Russia does not necessarily mean that a peace process will be established after a 2-year civil war.  The possibility of a False Flag operation will be an option for the US government.  A False Flag operation can take place since the majority of governments and people around the world (including the American people) are against a US attack on Syria.

The stage is set.  RT News recently reported that multiple sources had informed them that the rebels were going to launch a chemical attack on Israel to cause a “major provocation” to blame the Assad government.  Israel would then retaliate with US forces on standby.  But that did not happen, because it was possible that RT News exposed it just in time.  Syria is part of the chess game as Former General Wesley Clark clearly stated to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now in 2007:

A. Goodman: Do you see a replay in what happened in the lead-up to the war with Iraq — the allegations of the weapons of mass destruction, the media leaping onto the bandwagon?

Gen. Wesley Clark:   Well, in a way. But, you know, history doesn’t repeat itself exactly twice. What I did warn about when I testified in front of Congress in 2002, I said if you want to worry about a state, it shouldn’t be Iraq, it should be Iran. But this government, our administration, wanted to worry about Iraq, not Iran.

I knew why, because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

Washington has invaded Iraq in 2003.  It had ordered a NATO attack on Libya resulting in the death of its long time president Muammar Gaddafi leaving the country in chaos.  Sudan has been divided which paved the way for south Sudan’s independence with Washington’s help.  Somalia is targeted by Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) drone war.  Lebanon is constantly targeted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and intelligence apparatus (Mossad).  The last conflict between Lebanon and Israel was in 2006 when Hezbollah repelled Israel’s attack leading to its defeat.  Syria is a definitive target on Washington’s list.  The Obama administration is relentless in its pursuit to start another war.  Syria is the next target for Washington and Tel Aviv.  If Washington and their allies defeat Syria and Iran, then their goal of controlling the Middle East will become a reality.

The US also wanted war in Vietnam and created the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  The Vietnam War was “allegedly” about the Domino Theory, If America loses one nation to communism then they will lose every country in Southeast Asia.  Western powers of Britain, France and the United States chose Vietnam, a country located in close proximity to China to prevent the so called “Spread of Communism” but it was really about war profits for the Military-Industrial Complex and containing China.  The Gulf of Tonkin incident was a False Flag operation designed to blame North Vietnam.

On August 5th, 1964 the Washington Post published a story titled “American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New Aggression.” The New York Times also reported the same incident titled “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and `certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.”  The problem with both stories is that here was no second attack by North Vietnam.  It was the start of the Vietnam War.  It was a lie perpetrated by the Johnson administration that caused the lives of millions of Vietnamese and more than 50,000 Americans including 10’s of thousands more permanently injured and disabled.  The official story by the White House and its propaganda media outlets was that North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an “unprovoked attack” against the USS Maddox, during a signals intelligence patrol.  It was part of DESOTO operations or intelligence collection in enemy territory.  The USS Maddox was confronted by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron.  A sea battle soon began that resulted in the deaths of four North Vietnamese sailors with six wounded.  The U.S. suffered no casualties.

Then on August 4th, 1964 the second Tonkin Gulf incident was claimed by the National Security Agency (NSA) that another sea battle took place through false radar images.  There were no North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacking any US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. The truth is that he USS Maddox was engaged in intelligence-gathering maneuvers and at the same time in coordination with South Vietnamese navy and Laotian Air Force attacking North Vietnam.  Daniel C. Hallin, scholar and author of “The “Uncensored War”: The Media and Vietnam said that “the day before, two attacks on North Vietnam had taken place” the attacks by the US Navy was “part of a campaign of increasing military pressure on the North that the United States had been pursuing since early 1964.”  President Johnson ordered U.S. bombers to “retaliate” for the North Vietnamese torpedo attack on the US Navy.

Many officials in Washington had expressed doubts that an attack by North Vietnam had occurred. Why? Several factors were considered such as the cables from the U.S. task force commander in the Gulf of Tonkin Captain John J. Herrick referred to “freak weather effects,” to “almost total darkness” and even an “overeager sonar man” who according to Herrick “was hearing ship’s own propeller beat.”  By 1965, President Johnson stated that “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”  The New York Times said that the president “went to the American people last night with the somber facts.” It was a lie.  The same lie the Obama administration and the Main Stream Media (MSM) is committing against the American people.  CNN has reported that the US was training Syrian rebels (including members of Al Nusrah, an affiliate of Al Qaeda)  in Jordan and Turkey on “how to monitor and secure stockpiles” of chemical weapons back in 2012.

Washington’s ambitious plan to proceed with an attack on Syria is a dangerous step towards another World War, one that would involve the entire Middle East including Iran, Russia and China.  Why is Washington so determined to start a war with Syria? Is it because its dollar supremacy is at the end of its reign?  Or is it because China and its BRICS partners including Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa will eventually trade in a future gold-backed Yuan and other currencies that would be an alternative to the US dollar and the Euro?  Or is it that the world no longer wants to follow America’s foreign and economic policies?  Washington has been a destabilizing force throughout the world.  It has been a force for economic exploitation and war.

The world wants change and Washington knows this.  It can only maintain its “Superpower” Status by controlling the vast resources of the Middle East which emerging economic powers such as China depend on.  By controlling the resources, China, Russia and the rest of the world would have to be under the dictate of Washington and its Multinational corporations.  Time is running out for the US because its economy and living standards is in decline.  It is the largest debtor nation in history with close to 17 trillion dollars not including social security and Medicare.  If you add social security, Medicare and other debt obligations, then the total debt is more than “70 Trillion dollars” according to David Walker who served as United States Comptroller General in the Government Accountability Office from 1998 to 2008.

The US military is stretched to the limit.  And their dictatorships they support in the Middle East are rapidly losing their grip on their populations.  The time is now for war.  Washington is capable of doing anything to start a war, even another Gulf of Tonkin incident.  Let’s be clear about Washington’s concern for chemical weapons in the Middle East.

If they really cared about the victims or potential future victims of chemical or nuclear weapons, they would abolish their own stockpiles which they have used in Vietnam (Agent Orange), Iraq (Fallujah with white phosphorous) and Japan (the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Moral Hypocrisy and U.S. Exceptionalism

September 15th, 2013 by Ajamu Baraka

In his recent op-ed in the New York Times, Vladimir Putin raised hackles among the talking-heads across the U.S. when he questioned the wisdom of President Obama’s evocation of the narcissistic idea of “American exceptionalism.” After all, the exceptionalism of the U.S. has never been a subject for reasoned discussion or debate in the media or elsewhere. Everyone knows that the U.S. is the greatest nation in the world and, therefore, has special privileges and responsibilities! Those privileges and responsibilities include not bothering with international law or processes when the government decides that the “world” (meaning itself and a few European nations and a couple of their client states) will take responsibility to enforce global order according to its own interpretations, values and needs.

The fact that many in the U.S. believe that those interpretations, values and needs are neutral, impartial representations of the global community at large is on full display every night on cable news channels, where state propagandists posing as journalists and the coterie of paid ex-military and U.S. intelligence consultants make impassioned arguments in favor of the U.S. waging war on Syria as a “punishment” for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

But for many of us, the story of American exceptionalism is an alien story, a children’s fairy tale spun from the fertile imagination of revisionist historians, a tale wherein indigenous people were sidekicks to lone rangers, the African slave trade was an unfortunate aberration that was corrected by Lincoln, children did not work in factories, women were not slaves to men, socialists and communists were not harassed and jailed, U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were not placed in concentration camps and Dr. King would have approved of Barack Obama’s warmongering.

It is that story which informs the thinking of President Obama when he declares that “for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security” i.e. the provider of an indispensable safety net without which transcontinental chaos would have ensued. In his version of exceptionalism, there was no CIA overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran in 1953; the brutal war in Vietnam was a war to free the Vietnamese people from communism; there is an explanation for why the U.S. gave its support to the Apartheid government in South Africa; the coup in Chile was an internal event that did not involve the CIA, and the millions of people who died in Iraq were worth the price to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

Aurora Levins Morales quotes feminist psychologist Judith Herman as she describes the way in which perpetrators seek to control the disclosures and discourses of abuse:

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no-one listens… After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on.”

For African Americans experiencing depression-level economic conditions, our sons being murdered by agents of the state at a rate of one every 28 hours, our children locked away for life without the possibility of parole and more than a million of our sons and daughters entombed in the dungeons of this nation’s prisons, we did not need Vladimir Putin to remind us of the fiction of “America’s” commitment to values and social practices that make it “exceptional” in the community of nations. That reminder was also not necessary for our indigenous brothers and sisters who still struggle for sovereignty, dignity and self-determination in the aftermath of their American holocaust and America’s God-given manifest destiny.

Van Jones, the one-time black progressive who has since sold his integrity to the Democratic Party and CNN, recently joined Newt Gingrich during their new show to castigate Putin for having the audacity to suggest that the U.S. was not exceptional. Attempting his best effort at sincerity, Van offered that no other country in the world could have made the progress toward closing the gap between its stated values and social practices as the United States. Of course Van knows better – he has not forgotten our history of oppression, nor is he unaware of the contemporary crisis facing black working class and poor people. He has simply decided to deny the existence of those realities.

However, for the rest of us who have been invaded, enslaved, murdered, subjected to systematic racist dehumanization and colonized, we have not forgotten or denied those realities despite the best efforts by the perpetrators of our ongoing oppression to compel us to forget and just move on.

In fact we have done the hard work of reconstructing our own stories and clearing our eyes in order to see the world unencumbered by distorted myths and narratives that marginalize our experiences.

As a result, we don’t harbor any illusions about America and its real intentions when it professes humanitarian concerns. We know and understand that the ideological foundation of U.S. exceptionalism and the equally odious notion of “humanitarian intervention” is just another manifestation of white supremacy.

From our experiences and analyses, we can see that the assumptions of Euro-American racial and cultural superiority are so normalized, and social practices and structures so deeply inculcated in the collective consciousness of Americans of all races, nationalities, gender and class, that the cultural and institutional processes and expressions of white supremacy have been rendered largely invisible.

That is why so many Americans, despite their reservations related to Syria, still ultimately support the idea that the U.S. government has the right to contravene international law in order to uphold international law, to kill at will, to decide what nation has the right to sovereignty and to determine that the value of lives of human beings in Syria are worth more than the lives of the more than 2,000 murdered by the Egyptian military, or the 1,400 Palestinians murdered by the government of Israel a couple of years ago.

But as obvious as these moral contradictions are to most of the peoples of the world, it took the questioning of U.S. exceptionalism by the President of Russia to cause people in the U.S. to finally give some thought to an idea that they had taken for granted as self-evident.

What many people around the world understand is that exploding the dangerous myth of American exceptionalism is absolutely critical if the global community ever hopes to collectively solve the existential challenges that we face on the planet today. We can only hope that after a decade of war and a capitalist economic crisis, people in the U.S. will come to understand this and recognize that their interests and those of their elite are not the same, and that the U.S. must participate in the community of nations and peoples as equals.

The popular opposition to Obama’s proposal to wage war on Syria is encouraging because the world can no long afford for the people of the U.S. to continue to allow the country’s elites to impose their will over the rest of humanity. If people in the U.S. have moved closer to that realization as a result of this latest Syrian misadventure, that would be truly exceptional.

 Ajamu Baraka is a long-time human rights activist, writer and veteran of the Black Liberation, anti-war, anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity Movements in the United States.  He is currently a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.

www. Ajamubaraka.com

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For much of the population, September 11 marks the anniversary of the infamous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

But for the people of Chile, much of Latin America, and democratic reformers at large, it marks another significant anniversary.

On the morning of September 11, 1973, all branches of the Chilean Armed Forces had conspired to wrest control of the country from democratically-elected leader Salvador Allende. Allende, having been tipped about the military’s activities, held his ground in his Presidential palace, La Moneda.

After Allende refused to negotiate or surrender, General Augusto Pinochet ordered a siege on the compound accompanied by military helicopter gunships and Air Force bombers. Salvador Allende died during the melee, apparently by his own hand, and a military junta took power headed by General Pinochet.

It is well documented that the US government, through the CIA, played a key role in the overthrow of the Allende government.

The new order in Chile saw massive economic reforms take effect. An alarming number of people were imprisoned and tortured under his rule. Over three thousand people are estimated to have been killed during Pinochet’s 17 year reign.

PInochet himself was eventually arrested in London in 1998, and faced with the unpleasant prospect of having to answer for his crimes.

The 40th anniversary of Chile’s 9/11 is an occasion to ask what have been the impacts of the coup, and the dictatorship that followed?

These questions are explored in depth by two people knowledgeable about the coup.

Michel Chossudovsky was a visiting Professor of Economics in Chile at the time of the coup. In this week’s radio show, Chossudovsky reflects on his memories of the coup, and looks at how it served as a dress-rehearsal for the use of macro-economic reform as a weapon for disarming governments worldwide.

Peter Kornbluh then recounts the US role in the affair. He is the author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, recently updated to mark the 40th anniversary of the coup. Not only does he elaborate on the proof of the US connection with the coup, he explains his conviction that the arrest of Pinochet marks a major turning point in terms of holding past and present state criminals accountable.

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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 (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

On Sept. 13, an agreement was reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The government of Syria expressed support for the agreement. The Syrian armed opposition bitterly denounced it.

The plan, which will be introduced as a United Nations Security Council resolution, calls for the Syrian government to turn over a list of its chemical weapons and where they are stored within one week. UN weapons inspectors are to arrive in Syria by mid-November, and the weapons are supposed to be destroyed by the middle of 2014.

The agreement halted, at least temporarily, the threat of a U.S. military attack on Syria. That the Obama-Kerry administration agreed to the plan, when just two weeks ago they were dead set on striking Syria, was due to the wide and deep opposition they encountered both at home and around the world. Instead of gathering support for a new war in the Middle East as time passed, the administration became increasingly isolated.

When, on Sept. 9, the Russian government offered a plan for international control of Syria’s chemical weapons as an alternative to a U.S. attack, President Obama quickly grabbed at the proposal.

While Obama and Kerry have continued to threaten military action if Syria does not abide by the agreement, the rapidity with which an agreement was reached reflected their strong desire to play down the issue that had become a public relations disaster for them.

The Syrian opposition’s condemnation of the agreement included threats against the UN inspectors. The opposition had been openly and ardently hoping for U.S. military strikes on their own country.

Why? Despite the massive funding, arming, training and other support the various armed opposition forces have received from the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries, they know that they cannot achieve victory on their own. They were counting on a massive military campaign by the U.S. that would could severely weaken the government forces, foment splits and defections, and facilitate “regime change.”

The overthrow of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party government led by Bashar al-Assad remains the objective the U.S. which, in addition to arming and supplying the so-called  “Free Syrian Army,” is continuing harsh economic sanctions against the country.

For nearly seven decades, U.S. imperialist policies in the Middle East have been aimed at destroying independent governments and popular movements, which are viewed as obstacles to U.S. domination of the entire oil-rich and strategic region.

Syria has long been in the crosshairs. The first known coup plotted and carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency was in Syria in 1949.

Why does Syria have chemical weapons?

To its west, Syria borders the highly militarized state of Israel. Israel possesses not only chemical and biological weapons, but also hundreds of nuclear bombs. Israel and Syria have been in a state for war since the Zionist state was founded in 1948 at the expense of the Palestinian people, most of whom were driven out of their homeland. In 1967, Israel seized the agriculturally rich and strategically important Golan Heights from Syria, and illegally annexed the area in 1980.

Israel is the only state in the region that possesses nuclear weapons. In the 1973 war, when Israel suffered initial setbacks, its military loaded 13 nuclear bombs on missiles and prepared to fire them against Damascus, Cairo and other cities in Syria and Egypt. A massive emergency supply operation by the U.S. played a key role in turning the tide of battle and the missiles were not fired. (Reference: Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire, p. 90)

Syria does not have the wealth required to develop nuclear weapons with which to deter a nuclear attack by Israel. Instead, it developed chemical weapons which are commonly referred to in military circles as “poor man’s nukes.”
That the Syrian military has used such weapons internally in the current struggle has been strongly denied by the government.

The main threat to the world

Watching the corporate media—acting as a virtual fourth branch of government—in recent weeks could lead one to believe that Syria constitutes the main danger in the world today. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While President Obama demanded that Syria surrender its chemical weapons, he pointedly did not call for a regional ban on such weapons. Israel, a key military ally and extension of Pentagon power, possesses chemical and biological as well as nuclear weapons. While Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty, it has never ratified it.

And though the U.S. signed and ratified the treaty, it has repeatedly put off the destruction of its chemical weapons, the deadline now having been put back to 2021.

Chemical weapons are terrible weapons. But so too, are cruise missiles, 500 pound bombs, and all the other weapons of modern mass warfare, which the U.S. possesses and has used in unparalleled quantities.

The U.S. is the only country to drop nuclear bombs on centers of human civilization and has never renounced the first-strike use of nuclear weapons against other countries.

The Pentagon has used vast quantities of cancer-causing depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya and other countries. The millions of gallons of dioxin-laced Agent Orange that it dropped on Vietnam continues to cause severe birth defects, other health problems and massive ecological damage in that country. The U.S. military fired thousands of white phosphorus shells into the city of Fallujah Iraq in 2004. White phosphorus particles burn through flesh and into bone.

What has been most “exceptional” about the role of the U.S. in the world over the past seven decades has been its violence, intervening in at least 66 countries in that time, and leaving in its wake a trail of death and destruction.  In the famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the U.S. continues to be “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

Profit Driven Health Care: Obamacare Rips Off Americans

September 15th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

It’s a plan to enrich insurers, drug companies, and large hospital chains. It’s market-based for profit.  They let business benefit at the expense of ordinary people.
Tens of millions are left uninsured. Millions more are underinsured.
On August 12, The New York Times headlined “A Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law,” saying:
Obama delayed a “significant consumer protection.” He did so until 2015. He did it secretly. He did it last February.
According to The Times, he “obscured (it) in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed.” Labor Department officials confirmed what happened.
Discovery will likely fuel greater debate. ACA’s a healthcare disaster. Millions already can’t afford high costs. Obama may delay key consumer protections longer. Maybe he’ll suspend them altogether.
The longer they’re deferred, the more consumers pay. Doing so makes Obamacare less affordable than already.
Out-of-pocket deductibles and co-pays weren’t supposed to exceed $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families. Federal officials granted insurers and employers one year’s grace.
Obama touted caps as a key Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision. Deferring them increases costs significantly. Doing so makes ordinary people bear burdens they can’t afford.
They’ll be denied vital care when most needed. They’ll be debt burdened to buy mandated coverage. They won’t get what they pay for. They’ll be ripped off so healthcare giants can profit.
Cap-free coverage isn’t what people expected. Lots more surprises await. More on that below.
According to The Times, (f)ederal officials said that many insurers and employers needed more time to comply because they used separate companies to help administer major medical coverage and drug benefits, with separate limits on out-of-pocket costs.”
Buying this rubbish doesn’t wash. Companies had years to prepare.  Instead they pressured for relief. They usually get what they want. Doing sostraps debt burdened households.
Who’s advocating on their behalf? Who’s listening? What administration officials care? None did before. None do now. Sink  or swim is official Obama policy. So is enriching corporate predators.
Millions of households struggle to get by. Protracted Main Street Depression conditions makes everything less affordable.
After rent or mortgage payments, healthcare coverage is the greatest burden most face.
A senior administration official spoke anonymously to avoid embarrassment, saying:
“We knew this was an important issue. We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers. They asked for more time to comply.”
Ordinary people were thrown under the bus. It was done to benefit them. Expect lots more corporate giveaways ahead. Expect them harming consumers.
In July, administration officials announced another major one-year delay. It requires large employers provide healthcare coverage for full-time employees.
They’ll do it later, not sooner. Perhaps they’ll weasel out of it altogether. Obama waivers are easy to get.
Senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett said delay shows “we are listening” to business. Complaints about complex reporting requirements were addressed.
They don’t wash. Large employers have professionals able deal with all issues. Consumer concerns don’t matter. Bottom line priorities alone count.
Although both delays are unrelated, they show ACA is less than meets the eye. It falls way short of providing equitable healthcare. It’s a boon to industry profiteers.
National Health Council head Myrl Weinbert said:
“The government’s unexpected interpretation of the law will disproportionately harm people with complex chronic conditions and disabilities.”
People with major illnesses face tens of thousands more annually in out-of-pocket costs. Unaffordability means greater pain and suffering. It risks shorter life spans.
In 2009, Obama said “limit(s) (will be placed) on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.”
In June 2009, BloombergBusinessweek said “(m)edical problems caused 62% of all (2007) personal bankruptcies.”
Surprisingly, “78% of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illness. Over 60% had private coverage.”
Medically-related bankruptcies rose steadily for decades. In 1981, only 8% of families were affected.
Given years of protracted hard times, they’re by far today’s leading cause of consumer insolvency. Obama’s mindless of the problem. It’s far greater than when he took office.
Expect it to worsen ahead. ACA makes it more likely, not less. Consumer advocates know they’re sold out. Rose garden promises were fake.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society vice president Theodore Thompson said:
“The promise of out-of-pocket limits was one of the main reasons we supported health care reform. So we are disappointed that some plans will be allowed to have multiple out-of-pocket limits in 2014.”
ACA requires dental care for children. Providers can offer separate coverage. Federal rules say free-standing dental plans must have “a reasonable annual limitation on cost-sharing.”
No matter. Out-of-pocket costs and co-pay limits can be delayed. Gaming ACA for greater corporate profits is official Obama policy.
Another loophole lets employers offer bare-bones plans. Minimal services are provided. Hospitalizations and surgeries can be excluded. What good’s healthcare coverage without what’s most needed? What good’s having what doesn’t help?
ACA’s fundamentally flawed. Universal coverage alone works. Everyone in equitably. No one left out. Obama’s fundamentally opposed. He’s pro-business at the expense of consumers.
On August 7, the Wall Street Journal headlined “Members Only: How the White House is weaseling Congress out of ObamaCare,” saying:
White House officials released “legal details behind its ObamaCare bailout for Members of Congress and their staffs.”
Details are worse than suggested. They reflect “(i)llegal dispensations for the ruling class, different rules for the hoi polloi.”
Senator Chuck Grassley’s 2010 ACA amendment said “the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available” to Congress are those “offered on ObamaCare insurance exchanges.”
Congressional members and aides aren’t pleased. They don’t qualify for ACA subsidies.
They’ll lose government contributions. They get them under Federal Employees Health Care Program (FEHBP) provisions. They cover about three-fourths of premium costs.
“At President Obama’s personal request, the Office of Personnel Management decreed that the Members don’t have to get off the gravy train after all.”
“The eat-your-own-cooking provision begins with the phrase ‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law.’ “
It’s a giant loophole. It leaves FEGBP’s 1959 law unchanged. Congressional members and staff benefit. The White House says they’re entitled to enroll in FEHBP concurrently with exchanges.
Doing so excludes them from Obamacare inequity. “Millionaire senators and affluent” bureaucrats were supposed to be treated like everyone else. They were supposed to play by the same rules.
Not in America. “It would have been fairer and less corrosive to the rule of law had Congress simply passed a bill giving their workers a raise to make up for the lost compensation of dropping out of the FEHBP,” said the Journal.
“But that would mean an ugly political fight that voters might notice.”
“It’s so much easier to slip through this political fix in August when Congress is out of session and the press corps can’t wait to hit the beach.”
On August 8, The Hill headlined “ObamaCare ‘death panel’ faces growing opposition from Democrats.”
It’s designed to limit Medicare and Medicaid costs. Congressional democrats facing tough 2014 reelection battles want Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) repealed.
So do the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and other healthcare related groups.
Critics call IPAB a death panel. It gives appointed bureaucrats life and death powers. They can cut essential care when most needed.
They can stop or limit expensive treatments. They can make costs for administering them unaffordable. They can let providers charge whatever they wish.
IPAB’s designed to begin when Medicare cost growth exceeds a certain level. Medicaid’s affected the same way.
Appointed bureaucrats decide what’s approved, what’s not, what’s limited, and what care costs.
Doing so rations healthcare. It doesn’t matter. Congress is required to fast-track its recommendations.
ACA ostensibly precludes rationing. Reducing provider reimbursements works the same way. Healthcare providers won’t offer unprofitable treatments. Patients needing them won’t get them.
House and Senate IPAB repeal measures have 192 and 32 co-sponsors respectively.
In mid July, the WSJ discussed “an Obamacare board answerable to no one.”
The law’s “most disturbing feature may be” IPAB, it said. Letting unaccountable bureaucrats make vital medical decisions raises disturbing questions.
At stake are life and death issues. IPAB authority begins within two years. Members will control over half a trillion dollars of federal spending annually.
They’re mandated to “develop detailed and specific proposals related to Medicare.” They include cutting costs below a statutorily required level.
IPAB’s empowered to make rules “related to” Medicare. Medicaid’s affected.
ACA stipulates “no administrative or judicial review.” Board decisions are nearly “untouchable.”
Members are “presidentially nominated.” They’re Senate confirmed. They’re on their own. They can only be fired for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.”
Congress alone can overrule IPAB decisions. It can only do so through “unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures.”
Debate’s restricted. Congressional committee deadlines are mandated. So are other accelerated procedures. Super-majoritarian voting’s required.
“The law allows Congress to kill the otherwise inextirpable board only by a three-fifths supermajority, and only by a vote that takes place in 2017 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15.”
“If the board fails to implement cuts, all of its powers are to be exercised by HHS Secretary Sebelius or her successor.”
Obama wants Medicare spending insulated from the political process. He wants bureaucrats able to make life and death decisions. He wants Medicare recipients denied care when most needed.
Authority this great is at odds with supposed separations of powers. No branch is supposed to have more than others.
It never worked that way. It doesn’t now. Checks and balances are illusions. They don’t exist. Democracy’s a figure of speech. Government operates free style.
It does what it wants. It does so without popular approval. It does it by narrowly interpreting law. It does it fancifully. It does it extrajudicially.
It’s autonomous. It’s detached. It’s unresponsive to popular interests. It operates in a realm of its own. It’s self-serving.
It’s no government of, by and for everyone. It does what it wants with impunity. It lets presidents get away with murder. It’s unlikely to reverse IPAB powers.
They’re “breathtaking,” said the Journal. Congress relinquished its authority to unaccountable bureaucrats.
In Mistretta v. United States (1989), the Supreme Court ruled that Congress must establish an “intelligible principle.”
It must “confine the discretion of the authorities to whom Congress has delegated power.”
Congress must take responsibility for fundamental policy decisions.
IPAB has “no such intelligible principle,” said the Journal. On the one hand, ACA lets board members impose deep Medicare cuts.
On the other, it’s prohibited from rationing care. Reducing provider payments achieves doing so. It forces providers to limit or stop seeing Medicare patients. The same holds for Medicaid.
Doing so denies patients care or enough of it. Expensive illnesses will be impacted hardest.
Giving IPAB unaccountable powers raises disturbing questions. It “could decide to make cuts beyond the statutory target,” said the Journal.
“It could require that insurers or gynecologists make abortion services available to all their patients as a condition of doing business with Medicare, or that drug companies set aside a certain percentage of Medicare-related revenues to fund ‘prescription drug affordability.’ “
There’s no limit. IPAB’s no traditional government agency. It’s a power unto itself. Congress effectively abdicated. Judicial review’s excluded.
Patients and providers have nowhere to turn for relief. Congress can repeal IPAB’s authority. It can defund its operations.
Doing either won’t be easy. It’s unlikely. Patient/provider relations won’t be the same. Unaccountable bureaucrats will decide what care they get, how much, and at what cost. Many will end up on their own sink or swim.
It bears repeating. Obamacare’s a health rationing scheme. Patients suffer at the expense of bottom line interests.
They’ll do so when treatment’s most needed. They’ll be denied or limited when bureaucrats say so. They deserve better. They won’t get it. Obama wants it that way.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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Syria’s “Rebels” Threaten UN – Will Use US Weapons

September 15th, 2013 by Tony Cartalucci

Terrorists operating in Syria have threatened to “block” UN inspectors, any bloodshed will be on the hands of the US who is now openly arming them. 

In Reuters’ “Syrian Rebels Slam U.S.-Russia Deal, Say Assad Is Moving Chemical Weapons To Lebanon And Iraq,” Qassim Saadeddine of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” rejected the recent Syrian-Russian proposal to turn over Syria’s chemical weapons for independent verification and destruction, vowing to block UN inspectors should they enter Syria to carry out the task. 

Reuters reported: 

Qassim Saadeddine, said: “Let the Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We reject it and we will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria.”

In carrying out these overt threats, the terrorist front will be using US-provided arms, equipment and vehicles, as admitted by US officials in recent weeks. The Washington Post’s article, “U.S. weapons reaching Syrian rebels,” reported: 

The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.

Of course, while this is the first openly admitted, direct military aid the US has provided terrorists operating within and along Syria’s borders, the US and its axis partners have been pouring fighters, weapons, and cash into Syria via Lebanon, NATO-member Turkey, Al Qaeda-saturated northern Iraq, and Jordan for over two years - intentionally into the hands of Al Qaeda and other sectarian extremists

Not only is the US now openly admitting its role in purposefully perpetuating a clearly sectarian-driven conflict the US is documented to have itself engineered as early as 2007, it is also now responsible for the crimes carried out by these terrorists they are admittedly arming, including the harassment, obstruction, injury, capture, or death of UN inspectors and those charged with their protection. 

Reports of sniper fire targeting UN inspectors attempting to investigate an alleged August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, Syria already give a troubling indication of the dangers future inspectors face amongst a landscape plagued with dangerous, lawless terrorists the West has purposefully empowered and is currently perpetuating in Syria. 

Exposing America’s culpability in any attack upon UN weapon inspectors inoculates the public from fabricated justifications for future US military intervention based on the UN’s “failure,” including plans to use US troops to “secure” Syrian chemical weapons.  Realizing that the Syrian-Russian plan is already in the process of being purposely sabotaged by US support for terrorists within Syria ensures that America is excluded entirely from participating in any future solution to the Syrian crisis, or any other crisis for that matter. 

 

 

Hands Off Syria (Australia) condemns the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI) and calls for its disbanding and replacement by a body which does not act as a partisan propaganda organ for the foreign powers waging war against Syria.

Hands Off Syria member Ms Hanadi Assoud says

‘The Commission of Inquiry has proven itself a partisan body, inciting massacres and protecting the main architects of this crisis: the USA and its proxies, in particular Saudi Arabia.’

Dr Tim Anderson, Hands Off Syria member and academic at the University of Sydney, said

‘There is a fatal conflict of interest here. So long as the sectarian Islamist fighters are backed by the big powers, the COI seems incapable of recognising their well-publicised crimes. The UN should disband the Commission of Inquiry and then reconstitute it excluding the influence of those states promoting war and violence, in particular the USA and the Gulf monarchies.

‘The latest Commission of Inquiry report on the gas attacks in east Damascus, like the general report last month and the report on the dreadful Houla massacre last year actively covered up the crimes of ruthless Takfiri-Islamists. In its report on the Houla massacre (May 2012) the COI investigators were literally led by the hand by the killers. The technical report on the Damascus gas attacks is also being used to set up a major attack on Syria. The COI is being led by the nose by the US-backed sectarian Islamists’, Dr Anderson added.

Ms Assoud said: ‘This Commission of Inquiry is responding cynically to each new provocation, inciting repeated massacres by holding out hope to the terrorists that, if only their next massacre is big enough, they might get US air force backing for their ‘holy war’.’

Dr Anderson: ‘At best the Commission of Inquiry has been arguing ‘a plague on both your houses’, which implies that the Syrian nation cannot act to defend its own people from foreign backed terrorists; at worst the COI recklessly accuses the government, thus inciting foreign intervention. Further, by pretending a moral equivalence between the Syrian Government and the foreign backed terrorists, the COI betrays the Charter of the United Nations, which embodies respect for nations and their right to self-determination, while selectively ignoring the many U.N. resolutions on the need to combat terrorism.’

 Hands off Syria calls for the disbanding of the UN’s Commission of Inquiry, and for a new and independent U.N. body, not shaped those states which persist in promoting the war against Syria. Foreign powers cannot be both aggressors and judges.

Some background on the Commission of Inquiry and the Ghouta incident is attached.

Further information: Ms. Hanadi Assoud:

Hands Off Syria, PO Box 109, Glebe, NSW, Australia

Background: the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria

The Human Rights Council (HRC) motion S-17/1 that established the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria (22 August 2011), immediately condemned the Syrian Government, before any inquiry. The founding text decided there had been ‘continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities … including indiscriminate attacks on the Syrian population’. Little wonder the Syrian Government has been reluctant to cooperate.

President of the HRC, Polish diplomat Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, appointed four members, two of whom were from countries (Turkey and the USA) deeply involved in the aggression. The Turkish delegate was soon replaced by Swiss lawyer Carla del Ponte, but the US delegate Karen Koning AbuZayd remains deputy to the chair, Brazilian diplomat Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. Apart from her UN roles, AbuZayd is a board member of the Washington based Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a body which includes US generals and delegates from the oil-rich Gulf monarchies –the major sponsors of international terrorism against Syria. The Commission was thus poisoned against Syria from the beginning.

 The Houla ‘False Flag’ massacre , May 2012

The COI’s second report on the Houla massacre (15 August 2012) relied on interviews organised by members of the Farouk FSA Brigade, then blamed unnamed government militia (‘shabiha’); no motive was given. However a number of independent investigators showed Houla to have been a ‘false flag’ massacre, organised to falsely blame the Syrian Army so as to incite the UN Security Council to intervene.

 Interviews by German journalist Rainer Hermann showed that the Houla victims were ‘nearly exclusively families from the Alawi and Shia minorities … and the family of a Sunni member of parliament who was considered [by the FSA] a government collaborator’. A large FSA brigade, led by Abdurrazzaq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf , had swept aside the small army posts, and carried out the killings. They took over the area and then organised the COI’s access to witnesses. Hermann’s report was supported by Russian journalist Marat Musin and Arabic speaking Dutch writer Martin Janssen. Melchite nun Mother Agnes Mariam also spoke with witnesses and observed the manipulation of bodies as this ‘false flag’ massacre was presented to the world. The COI missed all this, either through wanton negligence or plain malice.

 Report of August 16, 2013

 The COI produced another partisan report on the violence on 16 August, once again highly selective and relying on pro-FSA sources. This report was useless in the sense of independent evidence. It also ignored major massacres committed by the Takfiri-Islamists (sectarian Islamists fighting to replace the secular Syrian Government with an Islamic state), such as the August 2012 massacre at Daraya (after the failure of a prisoner swap), the December 2012 massacre of Alawi villagers at Aqrab (documented by a British journalist), the multiple al Nusra-FSA attacks on students at Aleppo University (as part of their close down the university campaign) and the al Nusra Sarin gas attacks on Aleppo in early 2013.

 The al Ghouta incidents

On 21 August 2013, some crude chemical weapons seem to have killed many people in parts of eastern Damascus (al Ghouta) under the control of Takfiri-Islamists. Video images were released immediately, accusing the Syrian Arab Army of having attacked and killed hundreds of civilians.

 Video also shows a number of people walking through the laid out dead bodies; several of these people have been identified as Islamist fighters.

The publicity given to these killings derailed the attention of the COI team which had just arrived in Damascus to investigate Syrian Government evidence of the sectarian Islamists using sarin gas in the Khan al Assal area of Aleppo, in March 2013. This investigation did not take place because the team was diverted to al Ghouta; a convenient diversion because UN investigator Carla del Ponte had announced earlier that the evidence of sarin use provisionally pointed to ‘the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.’ Russia had provided a large brief of evidence to the UN. However the COI’s brief was technical and did not include determining who was responsible for the attacks.

 Partisan ‘evidence’ from Washington

 The Obama administration immediately asserted that the Syrian Government was to blame; later it presented some circumstantial evidence (30 August). Obama was backed up by the Washington based group Human Rights Watch (10 September). Both claim the Syrian Government’s motives were ‘to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate’ in certain areas. Foreign Policy magazine (11 September), claimed a UN inquiry group would produce a ‘strong circumstantial case’ against the government. The main US claims are:

1.    The ‘opposition’ (i.e. Islamist fighters) does not have the capacity to make and deploy chemical weapons. The White House and HRW both say that the Islamist ‘rebels’ have no access to the 140mm and 330mm rockets they say were used in the attack.

2.    Communications intercepts show government activity around the attacks, and the extent of social media postings is too wide to have been fabricated. In this area the Obama administration mixes the questions of whether CW were used and who used them.

Independent evidence implicating the foreign-backed fighters

Evidence implicating the foreign-backed fighters, as in previous massacres, is more specific, and the motive is more obvious: to incite a ‘humanitarian intervention’ that will help them.

 1.    Islamist fighters in Syria do indeed have chemical weapons and rocket capacity. They have posted video and photos of themselves firing large blue tank-canisters from artillery. In April al Nusra stole 400 tonnes of liquid chlorine from an Aleppo factory. In May six anti-Syrian ‘rebels’ were arrested and later indicted by Turkish authorities; 2kgs of ‘kitchen variety’ sarin was seized. In July the government seized 261 barrels of chemicals from terrorist groups in Baniyas. Then 26 people including soldiers were killed by al Nusra chemicals attacks in Aleppo. The army also discovered a chemical fabrication plant in Jobar (Damascus countryside), making use of ingredients from Saudi Arabia.

2.    The first independent interviews of people in al Ghouta indicated that Islamist fighters there were collecting chemical weapons. Jordan-based journalists Dale Gavlak and Yahya Abaneh interviewed: (a) the father of a fighter who said his son had died while mishandling chemical weapons provided by a Saudi man; (b) townspeople who said fighters had been sleeping in mosques and houses while their tunnels were used to store tanks or canisters; and (c) two fighters who complained that they had not been trained in the handling of chemical weapons.

3.    Syrian analysts have released video which begins to identify the dead at al Ghouta, and those around them. Establishing who the victims are may be the key to proving who is responsible. Two weeks before the killings in al Ghouta many women and children were kidnapped from the site of an al Nusra massacre in Lattakia. It is believed many of these are amongst the dead at al Ghouta. Video also shows several alive and identifiable, kidnapped government supporters, later seen as dead victims at al Ghouta.

Adam Larson says the crime at al Ghouta was either: ‘the perfect gift from the ‘regime’ to its hostile opponents, or a custom sewn false flag event of great audacity’.

A dozen former senior US military and intelligence officers wrote to President Obama, reminding him of the lies told about WMDs in Iraq. They said ‘the most reliable intelligence shows that [President] Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21 … [and] the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President … have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved’.

Chemical weapons agreement

 The Syrian government has now agreed to a Russian initiative, to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, heading off the immediate threat of missile attacks from US warships, stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. However that agreement does not resolve the matter. The al Ghouta incident was just the latest in a long chain of pretexts for war. The US clearly wants to dominate the entire region, and cannot tolerate any independent state.

Bitterly disappointed at the delay in a direct US attack on Syria, the ruthless and sectarian Islamist fighters will most likely try to stage another ‘false flag’ attack. The partisan United Nations COI will almost certainly act, once again, to lend them credibility. For its part, the US will pursue any new disarmament commitments as part of its attempts to topple the Syrian government. And double standards in disarmament will continue. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention the USA was due to destroy all its chemical weapons by 2012; Washington now says it will comply by the year 2023.

Selected sources:

Adam Larson (2013) Rebel Capabilities and the Damascus Chemical Attacks, 14 Sept, GR,

http://www.globalresearch.ca/rebel-capabilities-and-the-damascus-chemical-attacks/5349717

RT (2013) Turkish prosecutors indict Syrian rebels for seeking chemical weapons, 14 Sept,

http://rt.com/news/turkey-syria-chemical-weapons-850/

Video identifying persons in the incident at al Ghouta (East Damascus)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdF6aSnxhDs

Global Research (2013) ‘Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real Truth’, 18 May, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-one-year-after-the-houla-massacre-new-report-on- official-vs-real-truth/5335562 TRNS (2013) ‘281 barrels of dangerous chemical found in Syria: UN Ambassador’, 8 July, http://www.talkradionews.com/united-nations/2013/07/08/281-barrels-of-chemical-weapons-found-in- syria-un-ambassador.html#.UjTdqX8s3Po

Breaking News (2013) Army discovers chemical materials factory in Jobar, 14 July,

http://breakingnews.sy/en/article/21152.html


 

Counter-terrorism. It’s a word we hear more and more. But it’s been in the intelligence community’s lexicon for decades, a standard practice used against “extremists” ever since the Counterintelligence (COINTEL) program mounted against the “new left.” At the time, the FBI reasoned that a terrorist potential existed in almost any dissident group, justifying strong measures against a wide range of targets.

Near the end of 1970, shortly after President Nixon circulated a plan for expanded spying, FBI field offices received word to “immediately institute an aggressive policy of developing new productive informants who can infiltrate the ranks of terrorist organizations, their collectives, communes and staffs of their underground newspapers.” Even after the “new left” COINTEL effort officially ended, recommendations for specific programs were submitted and approved on an individual basis.

By mid-decade, however, the FBI was no longer alone in the field of domestic spying. The private sector had made a strong entry into this growth industry. Early reports of a new “secret war” leaked out in 1974 when the Berkeley Barb published the details of IBM’s master plan to combat terrorism, developed in collaboration with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. It was a high-tech information program focused on the “radical left.”

According to the plan, which was later disavowed by IBM, the corporation felt vulnerable “as a symbol of post-industrial technological oppression.” Along with other large businesses that also had established intelligence units, IBM had been spurred on by the CIA, which predicted an increase in domestic terrorist activity. Their rationale was contact with foreign groups, and they claimed that potential targets included offshore drilling rigs, nuclear reactors, computer systems, and pipelines. There had been a few symbolic bombings, of course. But this “counter-terrorist” program was clearly aimed also at nonviolent groups.

Activists as Terrorists 

The War in Vietnam brought moral defeat to the US military, congressional hawks, and corporations that had profited during the debacle. The country had been wounded by revelations of atrocities, corporate bribery, and murder. Trust in government and business plummeted as a new political opposition gained momentum. The anti-war movement had been shattered, mainly by covert government operations, but a drive to halt nuclear construction and arms proliferation was beginning to coalesce.

New dissent required new analysis. The post-Vietnam “threat” was defined as nuclear terrorism, and an overall battle plan was devised, the Federal Response Plan for Peacetime Nuclear Emergencies. Over 30 government agencies would have roles, but most would rely on the FBI for direction. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy also launched studies and developed dossiers.

Policy debates emerged among energy bureaucrats and their intelligence experts concerning the civil liberties problems posed by surveillance and infiltration of those opposing nuclear power. But such second thoughts didn’t hamper the private sector, unhindered by regulations, congressional oversight, and public skepticism. The Georgia Power Company, for example, recruited former government agents to establish its own security apparatus. Almost $1 million was spent spying on members of the region’s anti-nuclear groups, in concert with local police and right-wing groups. When criticized, the company labeled as subversive “anyone who spoke out against Georgia power.”

Spooks and anti-nukes were heading toward a confrontation. Philadelphia Electric had its security crew photograph activists. Potomac Electric Power Company built up an “anti” file on environmentalists. Pacific Gas and Electric even sponsored burglaries. And finally, there was the case of Karen Silkwood, a union activist who died in a suspicious car crash on her way to meet a New York Times reporter about serious hazards at the Oklahoma Kerr-McGee nuclear facility.

By 1976, federal energy agencies had their own counter-terrorist programs, consolidated in an Information Assessment Team under the NRC. The Team would compile and evaluate data in cooperation with other agencies. On May 27, 1976, the day it was launched, the new unit declared a Memorial Day alert. Police and security forces near all nuclear plants were told that “two groups may have plans to take over or occupy one or more nuclear power plants on Memorial Day weekend.”

Nothing happened that weekend. Yet, despite the basic nonviolence of the new social movement against nuclear power, terrorism was fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The FBI had established its justification years earlier: the propensity for violence, rejection of law and order, and revolutionary activity exists in almost any dissident group. This was Hoover’s Law. Any form of dissent therefore triggered an offensive response, and some responses were clearly against the law.

The violation of civil liberties was not inadvertent. The Rosenbaum Report, a 1974 NRC study, had outlined a strategy that made infiltration an integral part of government anti-terror efforts. Intelligence was seen as the key to defense against nuclear power opponents, and “such intelligence may involve electronic and other means of surveillance, but the most important aspect is infiltration of the groups themselves.”

In 1977, the US Department of State opened an Office to Combat Terrorism, headed by Heyward Isham, a career diplomat who had just finished a tour as ambassador to Haiti. Isham articulated what was fast becoming international anti-terrorist policy — no concessions and tighter communication between all levels of government.

Increased demand for sophisticated anti-terror equipment — computers, surveillance devices and crisis management teams — made counter-terrorism a commercial proposition. The cost of admission for one security conference was $4750, a price that included instruction in intelligence techniques. One of the 12 classes featured “the use of external published sources; the use of embassies and paid informants; what information should be gathered at the local level and what at headquarters; and how this information should flow within the overall company.”

By this time, the distinction between an activist and a terrorist had become quite blurred. The popular theory was that protest could provide a cover for terrorism. Therefore, anyone who participated in a protest showed some potential to become a political criminal. Assocation was more than enough. Members of a terrorist conspiracy, much like participants in the ”international communist conspiracy,” might be conscious enemies or unwitting dupes. Their plots might be masterminded by criminal geniuses or Soviet commisars.

In April, 1977 the terrorist label was handy for New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson when the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance organized a massive occupation of the Seabrook nuclear site. Reports that the occupation was a ”cover for terrorism” were provided by the pro-nuclear arm of the extremist US Labor Party. Despite the prediction, fed by the Party to the State Police – and from there to the private utility, Thomson, and the conservative Manchester Union Leader — no hint of violence surfaced during the occupation or arrest of over 1,400 people.

By the end of the year, however, nonviolent strategies were eclipsed by a real “international terrorist” scare. An ex-Nazi industrialist, Hans Martin Schleyer, had been kidnapped and killed. Supporters of the kidnappers hijacked a Lufthansa flight, resulting in a bloody rescue by German commandos. This was followed by the unexplained “suicide” of three Baader-Meinhof leaders in a maximum security prison. Anti-terrorist preparedness had truly come of age.

In March, 1978 FBI Director Webster told the press that the Bureau was girding itself for outbreaks of urban terrorism at home. Some politicians felt that even infiltration of suspicious groups wouldn’t be sufficient. After all, the whole world was watching the latest melodrama — the kidnapping of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades. In an atmosphere of anger and anxiety, Congress considered an “omnibus anti-terrorism” bill. At one Senate hearing, the FBI response to date was called “weak” by several experts.

But the US public still wasn’t convinced that the threat was imminent. In recent years, people had witnessed more government misconduct than terrorist violence. The Red Brigades seemed far away. US spooks hadn’t yet substantiated the claim that terrorism was gaining a foothold at home. Yet, the intelligence community did have other “assets” that could help to make the threat look real — namely, a time-tested network of “reliable media sources.” In other words, they had journalists, some unwitting and working legitimately for news media, others on the government payroll. They cultivated their insider ties and, in turn, were cultivated as “friendly media.”

This was nothing new. The FBI had been using the media for years, placing unfavorable stories and leaking lies. A tight bond had been built with large dailies like the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner. In Chicago, “friendly media” helped to smear black nationalist groups on the radio and in print. Sometimes reporters were exploited, but sometimes they knew what they were doing. They wrote stories that made FBI speculation sound like fact. If challenged, they protected their sources.

These “friendly” journalists understood the power of words to shape public opinion. In particular, they knew that a word like “terrorist” would sell newspapers and TV time, plus strike a deep emotional chord and perhaps even generating fear that could be harnessed. Predictably, the word has been used with gusto ever since.

A Pretext for Aggression 

By the mid-1980s, US citizens were being roused by President Ronald Reagan, ready to face Libya, Nicaragua, and any other ”enemies” at high noon. At the same time, the transparency of the attempt to assassinate Muammar Quaddafi and topple his government in 1986 brought the ruthlessness of the administration into focus. But the worst was yet to come. With public opinion temporarily captured, the regime sought to turn the new “Reagan Doctrine” into law.

Terrorism became the excuse for a wide-range of repressive tactics, both abroad and at home. The most heinous were proposed changes in the much discussed but little used War Powers Act. US Senators Robert Dole and Jeremiah Denton, prime sponsors of the initiative, wanted to give the administration carte blanche to use “deadly force” against virtually any enemy classified as a terrorist. Denton, who chaired the reincarnation of the old Un-American Activities Committee — known as the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Security (SST) — freely offered that if Quaddafi “became deceased as a result of our counter-strike, that would have been within the intent of the bill.”

In short, the Republican administration, with tacit Democratic support, hoped to make political assassination a “legal” part of US foreign policy.

And what was terrorism? According to the bill, it was “violent action by a foreign individual or group, directed against Americans and intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population” or to influence government policy through intimidation, coercion, kidnapping or assassination. Although this was only the most recent attempt to create an enormous blanket for ”counterterror” activities, it was instructive. First, violence toward those not privileged to be US citizens didn’t qualify as terrorism, even though many more might die. Second, it was “terrorist” to respond to the systematic violence of the US military, or to attempt to influence this policy through any form of force.

For years Americans had been told that a collection of crazed Arabs and revolutionaries, under the shadowy influence of the Kremlin, were hell bent on the slaughter of US citizens. By the late 1970s more than half of US citizens were ready to sentence convicted ”terrorists” to death and grant broad authority to an international police force of terrorist exterminators. Countless television programs, documentaries, and books etched the common myth about the terrorist threat: these were irrational, power-mad maniacs, “mad dogs” to be hunted down and killed.

At home, the law enforcement and intelligence “communities” operated as if urban terrorism in middle America was inevitable. One might not notice the new security measures unless taking a plane or entering the country; and, at the time, that was the point. This was another secret war. But the targets this time were mainly American, all those classified as “sympathizers” or ”potential terrorists.”

Denton’s Terrorism Committee was an early warning sign of the new crackdown. It helped spread fear of “Soviet-orchestrated terrorism,” and was combined with new presidential orders unleashing the CIA to conduct covert operations in the US, and reducing access to government information. Reagan’s favorite think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, summed it up this way in a report to the administration; “It is axiomatic that individual liberties are secondary to the requirement of national security and internal civil order.” Its advice, followed scrupulously through most of the 1980s, was to investigate ”clergymen, students, businessmen, entertainers, labor officials, journalists and government workers who may engage in subversive activities without being fully aware of the extent, purpose or control of their activities.”

To a large extent, terrorism was a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the case of Libya, the Reagan administration identified the Arab republic as a target of opportunity through which the president could prove his willingness to “take one of their pieces” off the geopolitical board. A dogfight over the Gulf of Sidra was an early step, followed by Reagan’s warnings that “terrorist attacks” would be answered by actions against Libya, Nicaragua, North Korea, Cuba, or the PLO. He later added Syria and Iran to the list.

Meanwhile, the FBI continued to use terrorism as the justification for covert actions directed against social movements. According to Bureau and Reaganite logic, the propensity for violence, rejection of law and order, and revolutionary activity still existed in almost any dissident group. Thus, any dissent could trigger offensive responses. In the past, such activities had been against the law; under Reagan they were largely “legalized.”

Terrorism ultimately became a household word, emblazoned across newspapers and newscasts on a daily basis. After the Berlin Disco bombing, major media disseminated the claim of Libyan involvement with the same uncritical attitude that marked a so-called Nicaraguan “invasion’ of Honduras. Each claim served the administration’s short-term needs: to create a temporary climate of public opinion in support of aggression. Repetition of the official line successfully convinced millions that Arab and Latin American “terrorists” should be bombed into surrender.

So pervasive was the terror scare that even Vermont’s generally dovish congressional delegation unanimously endorsed the Libyan bombing. Patrick Leahy blamed it on European inaction, Sen. Robert Stafford, a moderate Republican, said circumstances made it necessary, and Rep. James Jeffords, a GOP maverick at the time, argued that “when the President takes these kinds of actions we have to support him.” Even Burlington’s socialist mayor, Bernie Sanders, was halfway on the bandwagon, calling Quaddafi an “evil manipulator” while questioning mainly whether the attack would reduce terrorism.

Selective Memory 

Certainly, there’s much political violence in the world, and some of it is what Edward Herman has called “retail terror.” But once you penetrate the rhetoric, it emerges that US surrogates have been the primary retail and state terrorists. Orlando Bosch and his anti-communist Cubans, trained and supported by the CIA, were responsible for hundreds of bombings and murders in the 70s and 80s. Authoritarian regimes in Chile, Argentina, South Africa and elsewhere, all with at east tacitUS support, were also responsible for systematic murder and torture. But these regimes were never labeled ”terrorist.”

Nor were attacks by US agencies on the Black Panthers, Native Americans, and leftists ever acknowledged as applications of “state terrorism” at home. The Orwellian nature of US life prohibits the establishment from calling state violence by its real name.

And let’s not forget how so-called terrorists get their start.  Before Iraq invaded Kuwait, for example, the US considered Saddam Hussein a reasonable partner. As Reagan’s National Security chief for the Middle East put it, “We knew he was an SOB, but he was our SOB.” Thus, the US prevented UN action against Iraq’s war with Iran, supporting it for eight years. Reagan even removed Iraq from the list of terror states, advancing export credits and increasing oil imports. In 1986, strains of anthrax and botulinum were shipped to the University of Baghdad with US Commerce Department approval.

Both Reagan and Bush also blocked congressional censure of Iraq’s human rights abuses, opposing anything that would interfere with business deals or its military buildup. Bush approved billions in loan guarantees, even though they were obviously being used on missile projects. US ballistic missile technology was secretly provided, along with export licenses for “dual-use items,” raw materials for mustard gas, and chemicals needed for weapons. Computers were supplied for the Saad 16 research center, later bombed as a rocket and poison gas development site. The favors continued up to the moment when Bush declared Saddam the new Hitler.

In short, the US and others not only supported Iraq but also armed it, providing precisely the weapons used later as the justification for war and murderous sanctions. Even after Gulf War I, the US watched quietly as rebelling Kurds were slaughtered. The continued regime of a brutal dictator was apparently preferable to a popular revolution. After all, the region might be “destabilized” if the Kurds won their autonomy, inspiring Kurdish communities in Turkey and Syria.

Later, of course, the US was hot to inspect every nook and cranny of Iraq for signs of the weapons it helped create. Meanwhile, Congress considered legislation to prevent similar inspection of its own chemical weapons stockpiles. The idea was to let the president deny access to “sensitive” sites and inspectors from hostile countries. When the same argument was used by Baghdad, it was “an outrage.” Many US officials even considered a Chemical Weapons Treaty an intrusion on national sovereignty.

Although much is said about the deadly potential of ”rogue states,” the US clearly holds some records for mass destruction. It began with the nuclear weapons used on Japan, and continued in the Persian Gulf with the first-time use of more than 300 tons of depleted uranium shells. In all, over 140,000 tons of explosives, the equivalent to seven nuclear bombs, were used to destroy Iraq’s environment and infrastructure. After that, a suffocating blockade claimed the lives of over a million civilians, mostly children.

To paraphrase an old saying: those who live in glass houses shouldn’t start wars.

Greg Guma new novel, Dons of Time, will be released in October by Fomite Press. This essay was originally posted to IndyMedia websites on Sept. 18, 2001.

A court indictment by the Turkish prosecutors into the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian rebels has once again highlighted fears this week that sarin toxic gas was used by the opposition and not the Assad government.

The prosecutor in the Turkish city of Adana has issued a 132-page indictment, alleging that six men of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham tried to seek out chemicals with the intent to produce the nerve agent, sarin gas, a number of Turkish publications reported.

The main suspect in the case, 35-year-old Syrian-national Hytham Qassap has been charged with “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “attempting to acquire weapons for a terrorist organization.” The other 5, all Turkish nationals are being charged with “attempting to acquire weapons for a terrorist organization.”

The indictment alleges that Qassap tried to setup a network in Turkey in order to obtain chemical materials for the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham Brigades. Citing telephone calls made by the cell, the prosecution believes that the group ordered at least ten tons of chemicals, Al-Alam News Network reports.

The prosecution also dismissed claims that the suspects were unaware of their wrong doing. “The claim that the suspects didn’t know about the possibility of producing sarin nerve gas from the chemicals they tried to buy is not true which was established when they were testifying,” the document reads.

Meanwhile all six suspects have pleaded not guilty. “The suspects have pleaded not guilty saying that they had not been aware the materials they had tried to obtain could have been used to make sarin gas. Suspects have been consistently providing conflicting and incoherent facts on this matter,” the indictment said.

If convicted, Qassab faces a 25 year prison sentence, while his accomplices face 15 years prison terms.

The six men were a part of a group of 11 people arrested in their safe house in Adana on May 23, 2013. Their apprehension came about after surveillance by Turkish police who’d received a tip that Syrian jihadists were trying to acquire two government-regulated military-grade chemical substances. Five of the detained were released from custody after questioning, background checks and after lab tests proved that chemicals seized during the arrest were not sarin gas.

A woman mourning over a body wrapped in shrouds laid out in a line on the ground with other victims which Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Shaam News Network )

The international community has long been ignoring worrying reports that the rebel fighters in Syria might be capable of carrying out a chemical attack. Russian President, Vladimir Putin also reiterated this week that while no one doubts that poison gas was indeed used in Syria, there is “every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.”

Evidence that chemical weapons were used by the opposition was also highlighted by the two European hostages that were freed from Syrian rebel captivity last Sunday. In a phone conversation overheard by hostage Pierre Piccinin da Prata, he said it was clear the rebels used gas on civilians in an August 21 attack near Damascus.

“I don’t think that Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian government are to blame for the chemical attack in Al-Ghouta,” Piccinin told RT. “It would have been absurd for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons.”

The Syrian government has always rejected any accusations of using chemical weapons. After one of the first alleged incidents in Aleppo in March, it was the government that called on UN to send in chemical experts. Another alleged chemical weapons use was reported in Homs in December 2012.

Russian experts flew out to the site of the attack in March to collect samples from the incident. On 9 July 2013, Moscow submitted the results of its inquiry into the use of chemical weapons at Aleppo to the United Nations. Russian scientists analyzing the 19 March 2013 attack found that it was most likely launched by opposition forces, and not the Syrian government.

“It was determined that on March 19 the rebels fired an unguided missile Bashair-3 at the town of Khan al-Assal, which has been under government control. The results of the analysis clearly show that the shell used in Khan al-Assal was not factory made and that it contained sarin,” UN envoy Vitaly Churkin has said.

The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria into the attack in March concluded that no evidence of the use of sarin by Syria’s government troops has so far been uncovered. The lead investigator, Carla Del Ponte, did hint that it was the rebels that most likely used the chemical weapons.

“The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.  As a result, the Commission is not in a position to further comment on the allegations at this time,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the UN chemical weapons inspection team has completed the report on the latest chemical attack in Syria on August 21 and will deliver it to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the weekend.

“I believe that the report will be an overwhelming report that chemical weapons (were) used, even though I cannot publicly say at this time before I receive this report,” Moon said.

Although the team was not authorized to draw any conclusions on who was the perpetrator of the attack, a number of US officials speaking to the media on condition of anonymity over the last couple of days indicated that the report would hint the Assad government was responsible.

Canada’s Glass House and Quebec’s Charter Debate

September 15th, 2013 by Robin Philpot

The worst aspect of the Quebec’s Charter debate is the smug, self-righteous, paternalist, finger wagging of English Canada and the English media in Quebec. Canadians don’t realize that they live in a glass house and throwing stones can be dangerous. Self-examination and self-criticism might show that English Canada is a major part of the problem.

Canada has consistently and unanimously refused to accommodate Quebec’s reasonable demands for respect and recognition for more than 50 years now. Never once has it looked back and questioned its self-appointed moral superiority. For instance, it did not hesitate to promote and then lionize its chosen French Canadian leader and send him into the fray to do the dirty work, which has included proclaiming War Measures in time of peace to lock up hundreds of singers, trade unionists, artists, and ordinary political activists and sending in the army to occupy Quebec. Using dupery, duplicity and the same French-Canadian front man, Canada adopted the country’s fundamental law, the 1982 Constitution, against the will of Quebec’s National Assembly, which has consistently expressed it’s steadfast opposition to that constitution for the past 30 years. Attempts to right that wrong (i.e., Meech Accord) were fought tooth and nail by most of Canada’s political class.

And when force and dupery have not been used, the people who run Canada have never questioned their practice of “buying Quebec off”they are “past masters at it” said the late great Jane Jacobs.

The unity of Canada’s rulers towards Quebec allowed the government of Canada and Canadian corporations to blithely violate Quebec’s democratically adopted referendum and election laws in the 1995 referendum. Millions of dollars were poured illegally into Quebec to mobilize and intimidate Quebecers. The worst jingoism, “My country right or wrong,” has always prevailed in Canada when it comes to Quebec. That was also the case with the Clarity Act, which received unanimous support from English Canada’s MPs. Fortunately the Bloc Québécois voted against it.

Never has Canada’s political class had the slightest qualms about using the ugly and base politics of divide and rule, such as brazenly mobilizing minority and immigrant communities and First Nations in an aim to discredit and tar the even the most noble of Quebec’s efforts to build a cohesive, prosperous, and successful nation that could very well cooperate closely with Canada, just as Norway voted to be free from Sweden in 1905.

Canadians then get up on their high horses and boast, “We are multicultural, we are welcome others, not like the racists in Quebec.” Yet how many realize that Canada’s multicultural policy was brought in not as an act of generosity to minority and immigrant communities, but to contain Quebec? Adopted on October 8, 1971 on the heels of the 1970 War Measures, Canada’s Multicultural Act was Trudeau’s answer to the report of a major Royal Commission created to solve the Quebec crisis: that report recommended a bi-lingual and bi-cultural Canada. Trudeau answered with bilingualism but multiculturalism, which effectively relegated Quebec to the same status as the Ukrainians in Manitoba or the Italian community in Toronto. That is why Quebec opposes Canadian multiculturalism.

Never has Canada looked back. Unlike Quebec where, for better or for worse, questions are debated openly, Canada is happy to control debate, to smile and forget its past sins, to smugly pat itself on its back, usually comforting itself by saying: look at Quebec, they’re all racists and they don’t know it. (Though few in Canada want to know it, Quebec was the first place in the British Empire to grant equal rights to Jews (1832); the mayors of two cities in Northern Quebec (Mont-Laurier and Amos), where the communities of African origin are negligible, have consistently elected black mayors born in Haiti; Quebec’s Minister of Culture was born and raised in Cameroon; the list goes on.)

Now about this Charter debate. Considering how for the past 50 years Canada has contained Quebec and doused its most profound aspirations using means and methods that arise out of the same mindset that has erected walls and barbed-wire fences and deployed arms elsewhere, is it surprising that debate has now been reduced to one about identity and not about Quebec’s political status with regards to Canada?

Most people in Canada and Quebec will agree on many points in the proposed Charter. Who for instance opposes the separation of Church and State, (other than a few religious zealots in Stephen Harper’s entourage)? The one issue that is being hotly debated is that of religious symbols worn while in the employment of the public sector, and more specifically in schools, hospitals and daycares. Quebecers are divided on the issue, as are sovereigntists, including members of the governing party. Please let us debate it freely.

If English-speaking Canadians really care about the people who might eventually be affected by the Charter, here’s a modest proposal. Why not first look at the situation of minorities in Canada’s own back yardand while at it, that of First Nations? There is surely  room for improvement.

And then most importantly, how about some self-examination. Why not examine how Canadians and their political representatives in Ottawa and in provincial legislatures have dealt with Quebec’s very legitimate demands over the past 50 years? Have English Canadians, the favourite media, and the politicians participated in the never-ending campaigns to discredit Quebec using the basest arguments that have no grounding in fact? Have they participated in the illegal campaign during the 1995 referendum conveniently misnamed “The Quebec Love-In?”

Has anybody defended Quebec’s right to self-determination?

Robin Philpot is a Montreal writer and publisher of Baraka Books (www.barakabooks.com).

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September 15th, 2013 by Global Research News

 Twelve years since the false flag atrocity of 9/11, we find the Anglo-American empire once again manufacturing false flag lies and deceptions in order to justify another attack and destruction of another nation.

 The 9/11 operation, the Big Lie, created the eternal pretext for an endless “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) of which the conquest of Afghanistan constituted the first stage. 

The GWOT and lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) led to the toppling and seizure of Iraq and beyond, to the continuous military provocations and the CIA-led “regime changes” in Libya and Egypt. Syria and Iran have been systematically destabilized.

But even as this murderous agenda rolls ahead with no end in sight, it fails.

Central Asia and the Middle East have been sent into chaos, nation after nation gutted, but the Empire is no closer to its goal of a petro-economic salvation or lasting geo-strategic control.

Desperate military violence and brute force do not change the fact that the days of easily recoverable oil and gas are over, and with it capitalism as usual. The world economy shows no sign of lasting recovery, and severe internal stress. The US government is bankrupt, financially as well as morally, while the disillusionment of the American populace grows.

The Empire flounders in the violent trap it has created for itself.

The “war on terrorism” itself has fallen apart. Its own criminal functionaries have lost control of the narrative as well as on the ground.

The CIA struggles with its own Al-Qaeda assets. Al-Qaeda struggles with other Al-Qaeda.The lie, obvious from the start, has become transparently ridiculous with the Anglo-American empire’s now open embrace of the Al-Qaeda military-intelligence assets that it has employed since the Cold War—the very assets and propaganda instruments used in 9/11.If even America’s own troops are now openly “refusing to fight for Al-Qaeda”, the jig is truly up.

 The Obama presidency has been exposed. His years of continuous military terror leaves no doubt that his administration is an extension of Bush/Cheney, and worse.  In the US, even the brain-addled American populace is tired. The public continues to wholeheartedly support the “terrorism” lie, but it is sick of war. As evidenced by the malaise that derailed the Vietnam War, there only so much that a nation’s own human cannon fodder can be pushed. The masses are simply exhausted, even if the dumbed down populace cannot articulate why.  Corrupt congressional “machine” Democrats continue to toe the party line for Obama, ignoring their own constituents, stumping for a new war that they undoubtedly know is criminal. But there is cost to this hypocrisy and corruption.

 Most of the world outside of the continental US has known for a long time.

The situation for Syria remains grave. Syria will be attacked. The empire has been foaming at the mouth to remove the Assad government for years, and enraged that their CIA/Al-Qaeda-led attempt at a regime change failed.

It is now merely a matter of when and how the toppling of Syria will occur. The false official narrative assumes that there are indeed chemical weapons, that indeed were used by the Syrian regime against civilians.  All lies.  The entire scenario was a CIA setup. 

The “negotiations” brokered by Russia are a delaying tactic that adds complications to the inevitable. Back room dealing between the super powers over the Syrian spoils has begun. It is almost comedic. Given that Russia is the Anglo-American empire’s main long-term adversary (along with China) for final global dominance, Russian involvement is proof that the Anglo-American empire’s hand is not only weak, but that its long-term agenda is meeting with resistance that did not exist a decade ago.  Simply put, they are being outhustled.

The latest proposed deal (or charade), for the Syrian regime to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, or risk attack, still assumes the regime’s guilt, while the actual perpetrators remain in charge of the “trial” and “investigation”, posing as the “good guys”. The odious criminality of the entire US and CIA operation in Syria, its US-led Al-Qaeda rebels, its use of chemical weapons, is the “elephant in the living room” that is never acknowledged.

Will the empire will still get its next futile and tragic war?

Or will it be forced to back down and lose face in the process? A disarmed and politically weakened Syria remains targeted for decapitation and partition, with Russian complicity. But when the bombs rain this time, and as the body count continues to escalate, at least the most of the world will know better, in a way that it did not on 9/11/01, what is really happening.

An initial WHO study completed in 2004 had documented the impacts of depleted uranium.It was suppressed.

The WHO  has now suppressed a second report undertaken jointly with Iraq’s Ministry of Health.  The joint WHO-MoH study pertained to the prevalence of congenital birth defects. It was scheduled to be released in November 2012.

In suppressing these reports, the WHO is complicit in covering up extensive war crimes committed against the people of Iraq.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, September 14, 2013


WHO Suppressed evidence on effects of depleted uranium, expert says

BMJ, September 10, 2013

Poor reproductive and birth outcomes in Iraq, since the U.S. invasion, have received much global attention (1, 2). A joint study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) began in May-June 2012 to look at the prevalence of congenital birth defects in several governorates of Iraq (3) and was scheduled to be released in November 2012 (4).

In March 2013, a BBC documentary, (“Born under a bad sign”), offered a glimpse at the results of the WHO report. A MoH official told the BBC that “All studies done by the Ministry of Health prove with damning evidence that there has been a rise in birth defects and cancers”. Other MoH researchers confirmed that the situation with birth defects constitute a “big crisis” for the “next generation” of Iraqi children (5).

In May and July 2013, researchers petitioned the WHO and MoH to release their report (6, 7). In response, the WHO indefinitely postponed the release of that report.

This turn of events has bewildered many, especially in light of the WHO’s past failure to report similar data adequately. In November 2006 the British Medical Journal published an article entitled “WHO suppressed evidence on effects of depleted uranium (DU), expert says”. (8).

Furthermore, recent revelations by Hans von Sponeck, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, suggest that WHO may be susceptible to pressure from its member states. Mr. von Sponeck said that “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where DU had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers” (9).

Serious study design flaws, principally the WHO’s avoidance of any inquiry into causation of Iraqi birth defects, is also alarming (10). Nevertheless, saving Iraqi children’s lives requires the immediate release of this indefinitely postponed WHO report.

References:

1- Al-Sabbak M, Sadik Ali S, Savabi O, Savabi G, Dastgiri S, Savabieasfahani M. 2012, Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 89(5): 937–944.

2-Human Rights Now, 2013, “Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering Report of a Fact Finding Mission on congenital birth defects in Fallujah, Iraq in 2013” http://www.brussellstribunal.org/article_view.asp?id=1016#.UggHoJIsltk

3- World Health Organization, Congenital birth defect study in Iraq: frequently asked questions: http://www.emro.who.int/irq/iraq-infocus/faq-congenital-birth-defect-stu…

4- Morrison, S. (2012, October 14). Iraq records huge rise in birth defects. The Independent U.K.
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/…

5-BBC News “Our World”, Born Under a Bad Sign. Duration 30 minutes. Produced by Yalda Hakim and Melanie Marshall. Aired on Sunday 24 Mar, 2013. Web address:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W5TvnYaeN4

6- A Call to Release the WHO Report on Iraqi Birth Defects. Saturday 18 May, 2013. Multiple authors. Web address:
http://www.zcommunications.org/a-call-to-release-the-who-report-on-iraqi…

7- To the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Health: (New signatures added). Tuesday 30 July, 2013. Multiple authors. Web address:
http://www.zcommunications.org/to-the-world-health-organization-who-and-…

8- BMJ 2006; 333:990.2 “WHO suppressed evidence on effects of depleted uranium, expert says.”

9- Pilger, J. (2013, May 26). We’ve moved on from the Iraq war – but Iraqis don’t have that choice. The Guardian U.K.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/26/iraqis-cant-turn-ba…

10- Chowdhury, S. (2013, Jul 17) WHO’s Iraq Birth Defect Study Omits Causation. Inter Press Service News Agency.
http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/07/whos-iraq-birth-defect-study-omits-causat…

Looking for Palestine

September 14th, 2013 by BN Aziz

If you’ve seen Najla Said perform on stage or spoken to her, reading this memoir, you’ll feel the same person. “Looking for Palestine” is a conversational memoir—fresh, youthful, and zesty. Najla’s story and that of her parents, with her famous father ever present, begins with her birth and ends with his death when she’s college age. It’s well written, in a breezy style echoing her theatrical and comedy performances. Still her light style is underpinned by serious issues—personal psychological ones, ambiguous relations with the Jewish people who seem to be everywhere, and the painful inevitability of ‘being Arab’… whatever that means.

Said’s is a very New York story—upper class Manhattan American with teenage identity problems — an ‘other’, looking different while still being conventional except that the family excursions to Beirut are interrupted by wars.

As a teenager Said becomes only slowly informed about Palestine. She admits her interests are primarily school, books, friends and music. She also acknowledges enjoying an upper class life, surrounded by classmates who while Jewish are more like her than unlike. Indeed she seems to become aware of her father’s exalted reputation and his mission through these classmates.

All this Najla Said admits to in this candid, fluid review of her young and unromantic although quasi exotic life. Very unpretentious. The revelations have a child’s honest quality, with neither philosophical nor poetic depth. Just as with her on-stage performances, one feels she is in fact on stage in this book. But this makes her disclosures no less genuine and informing. We are treated to a steady output of memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels from a new generation of Arab writers, mainly women, mainly American, telling their story of becoming Arab— from the Iranian hostage affair, through Sabra-Shatila massacres, the intifadahs, the first Gulf war on Iraq, and of course the 911 attacks in 2001. Each crisis gradually, and only gradually, adds to Najla’s maturity—a track many of us took. She emerges as savvy American artist with a political message.

We are uncertain if Najla’s evolution is special because of a father rooted in the Palestinian cause, or if this is common to Arab American youth. Although he’s woven into her story, I suspect Edward Said’s mission as a nationalist leader was secondary to his daughter. Possibly his contributions in political thought and literary criticism are more central to Najla’s own maturity and mission.

This is a valuable story of a young woman–definitely Arab– growing through many traumas associated with our ‘being’. Although an all too frequent experience, this journey has not been told this way before. So, Najla’s memoir add to the ongoing history of our people in America. With this book she can reach many in her generation.

The   reaction in Canada is strangely muted after the Governor General consented this Friday to prorogue or effectively delay the reopening of parliament until mid October. The fall session was due to commence in mid September.  Now it’s been shortened by a month.

This is the fifth time (1) the prime minster has done this type of thing. It’s become a kind of pastime for the current PM. Meanwhile, there seems to be a deafening silence echoing through the empty cavernous chambers or corridors of legislative power.  Not a peep from the speaker of the house, either. No reaction, no response to the move; not even the slightest stirrings of dissent, or any expression of dismay within the conservative caucus or party to this questionable move. Now that’s what I call a rousing endorsement for the PM’s decision to prorogue parliament once again!

 Sure there are some rumblings and hushed grumblings (pro forma) of discontent on the opposition side; but apparently there’s not much of an outcry or uproar or dare mention, even outrage, from the opposition parties. Perhaps they’re still in summertime break mode. And, or also, maybe they could use more time to get back to the grinding, back-breaking routine of pounding on desktops, hollering at the top of their voices, and throwing verbal projectiles filled with invective and bile across the aisle of the lower chamber. They have been locked out for a month, and maybe to not relish the thought of going back to work yet. So for now, it seems Canadians will be deprived of rowdy political sparring and other untoward and unedifying spectacles, at least until around the time another hockey (the prime minister’s favourite sport) season commences. Then the parliamentary slugfest will begin again. But thankfully for the PM it won’t last long, that is, only two months or until the Christmas –New Year’s break.

 Fair play? No, the game is totally rigged

There are however some serious consequences to this unsavoury manoeuvre. Prorogation effectively wipes the legislative agenda clean, thus allowing the prime minister to reset the next session to his liking or whim. Thereby moulding and fashioning the debating and lawmaking process.  He effectively takes control of the whole show, and for a man like him, total domination of parliamentary procedure is what it’s all about. Isn’t it so?  The conservative PM sets the rules of the legislative game, but also determines how long the match will last, and when it is due to begin. In other words his team always wins the political points needed to win the next general elections.

As for the Governor General, a very distinguished looking figurehead indeed, yet part of time procedural rules just the same. By giving his consent to close down the House of Commons, he provides the PM a carte blanche to do it again the next time around. Permit me to insert a few thoughts at this stage, on the process of governing in a functional democracy.  Parliament shouldn’t be reduced to being just a tool, used to further the political career of one man, nor increase his executive (by means of usurpation) powers, at the expense of the legisativure. It should be a legislative body where democratic representation can be heard and where the government is held accountable for its decisions. And finally parliament is where issues vital to the national and the public’s interest can be openly debated and then voted on. It is not personal plaything to be used for partisan purposes.

As a result of the delayed sitting of parliament, the conservative government which has been mired until now in scandal, is effectively off the hook for at least a month. Meanwhile, the government’s spin doctors can plot and concoct strategy or devise new tactics to discredit and divide the already semi-emasculated opposition parties ( The NDP, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois ) in the house. By this I mean or put forth the following assertion:  the official opposition exists (if at all)  in name only. The current leader of the New Democratic Party Thomas Mulcair makes vapid at times incoherent pronouncements. He says the prime minister is “afraid”(2) to answer questions elated to recent scandals related to slush funds, dodgy payments and inappropriate or not profligate spending in the Senate. This sounds rather lame to me.  The PM simply knows he is feared by an opposition devoid of credible leaders, and can get away with these thuggish stunts which are meant to shut the House of Commons whenever it suits his fancy.

 History of Harper’s roughshod approach to parliament

The tactic to disrupt or delay the parliamentary agenda has become somewhat of a routine. In a shifty and sly manner the PM seems to be accustomed to shutting down parliament whenever the unpleasant stench of scandal implicating his closet aides (or Senate appointees) fills the almost rancid halls of parliament. The practise is perfectly legal but perhaps from a constitutional expert’s point of view it might raise some uncomfortable questions such as: Does prorogation strengthen or undermine the parliamentary process? Has use of this legislative slight of hand, made Canada look less democratic in the world? Hasn’t delaying the reopening of parliament deprived the electorate of their voice (through the channel of their MPs) at a time of great economic uncertainty, and rising international tensions? Does this practice not smack of authoritarian rule? In any case,  it simply shows the current conservative regime has nothing but utter contempt for the Westminster tradition.

Perhaps history will judge this prime minster as a “Caudillo” or strongman; a term which has at times been associated machismo style of rule in minds and imagination of Latin Americans. But for many Canadians, this might be a new way of running affairs of state.  From a much harsher perspective perhaps Harper’s disdain for the parliamentary process is absolutist in a way, and takes back his country to the by-gone  age when the all potent monarch’s will carried the day. This might explain his unusual almost fawning veneration for the Queen of England. Yet her majesty might even disapprove of the cavalier, if not disrespectfully way her loyal subject, across the Atlantic   handles or bullies the House of Commons. However one sees it parliamentary democracy in Canada is in a bad way.

 Notes                           

(1)   Prorogation X4, Socialist Actions , Canada , Sept. http://socialistaction.ca/2013/09/02/prorogation-x4/

(2)   http://ca.news.yahoo.com/prorogation-shows-harper-afraid-questions-mulcair-says-194058050.html

Controversy in Canada: 9/11 Truth and Free Speech

September 14th, 2013 by Global Research News

Rethink911.org logo SEPTEMBER 13, 2013

Head of Ottawa Transit Commission Calls for Review of City’s Advertising Policy
Ottawa Mayor Says Free Speech Protects ReThink911 Ads

DONATE NOW FOR NATIONAL POLL TO GAUGE CANADIANS’ VIEWS ON RETHINK911 ADS

Dear ReThink911 Supporters,

Controversy has exploded in Canada over the ReThink911 ads currently running on 300 buses in the Ottawa transit system. On September 11, the Chair of the Ottawa Transit Commission called the ReThink911 ads “insensitive” and said she would request a review of Ottawa’s advertising policy. Yesterday, the ReThink911 campaign issued a response that was picked up by several news outlets, and the Mayor of Ottawa even weighed in to say our ads were “disrespectful” but protected by free speech. Read the articles below for a recap of how the controversy unfolded.

On Wednesday, September 18, the Ottawa Transit Commission is meeting and our ads will be top of the agenda. To make sure the Commission knows exactly where the public stands on free speech and our right to question 9/11 publicly, ReThink911 is commissioning the polling firm YouGov to conduct a national survey gauging Canadians’ impressions of Building 7’s collapse and their support for free speech—but we need your help to do it.

Help us raise $6,000 by Saturday, September 14, so that we may conduct this poll on Monday, September 16, and have the results by the end of next week. According to our poll released earlier this week, 46% of Americans suspect Building 7 was brought down by controlled demolition after viewing footage of Building 7’s collapse. We are confident that percentage will be much higher in Canada.

We thank you for your generous support. It’s having a major impact!

Learn more about ReThink911’s Canada poll.

Stay tuned for a recap of the September 11 events.

Get up-to-speed on the controversy in Canada’s capital:

CBC News: Bus Ad Questioning 9/11 Sparks Call Review of OC Transpo Policies

Ottawa Citizen: Ads Questioning Truth of 9/11 Appear on OC Transpo Buses

Huffington Post Canada: 9/11 Conspiracy Ad on Ottawa Buses and Toronto Billboard Sparks Outrage

Ottawa 1310 News: Controversial 9/11 Ads Spark Call for Review of OC Transpo Ad Policies

ReThink911: Statement Regarding Ads on Ottawa OC Transpo Buses

Sun News: Free Speech Protects ‘Disrespectful’ 9/11 Conspiracy Ads: Ottawa Mayor

CBC News: Group Behind 9/11 Bus Ad Responds to Criticism

Ottawa Citizen: 9/11 Truth Campaign Responds to Criticism of Bus Ads

Yahoo Canada: 9/11 ‘truther’ billboards appear in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver

ReThink911 was also covered by Time, the Toronto Star, and CBS Philadelphia.

About ReThink911

ReThink911 is sponsored by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and Remember Building 7, a campaign by 9/11 family members to raise awareness of Building 7.

All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

The fact that the Fukushima reactors have been leaking huge amounts of radioactive water ever since the 2011 earthquake is certainly newsworthy.  As are the facts that:

But the real problem is that the idiots who caused this mess are probably about to cause a much bigger problem.

Specifically, the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.

If one of the pools collapsed or caught fire, it could have severe adverse impacts not only on Japan … but the rest of the world, including the United States.   Indeed, a Senator called it a national security concern for the U.S.:

The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen and physician Helen Caldicott have both said that people should evacuate the Northern Hemisphere if one of the Fukushima fuel pools collapses. Gundersen said:

Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.

Former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura calls removing the radioactive materials from the Fukushima fuel pools “an issue of human survival”.

So the stakes in decommissioning the fuel pools are high, indeed.

But in 2 months, Tepco – the knuckleheads who caused the accident – are going to start doing this very difficult operation on their own.

The New York Times reports:

Thousands of workers and a small fleet of cranes are preparing for one of the latest efforts to avoid a deepening environmental disaster that has China and other neighbors increasingly worried: removing spent fuel rods from the damaged No. 4 reactor building and storing them in a safer place.

The Telegraph notes:

Tom Snitch, a senior professor at the University of Maryland and with more than 30 years’ experience in nuclear issues, said  “[Japan officials] need to address the real problems, the spent fuel rods in Unit 4 and the leaking pressure vessels,” he said. “There has been too much work done wiping down walls and duct work in the reactors for any other reason then to do something….  This is a critical global issue and Japan must step up.”

The Japan Times writes:

In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4 [with] radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. …. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task…. The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.

CNBC points out:

The radioactive leak at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is far from under control and could get a lot worse, a nuclear energy expert, who compiles the annual “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” warned.

***

The big danger – and it was identified by Japan’s atomic energy commission – is if you lose water in one of the spent fuel pools and you get a spent fuel fire.

CNN reports:

[Mycle Schneider, nuclear consultant:]  The situation could still get a lot worse. A massive spent fuel fire would likely dwarf the current dimensions of the catastrophe and could exceed the radioactivity releases of Chernobyl dozens of times. First, the pool walls could leak beyond the capacity to deliver cooling water or a reactor building could collapse following one of the hundred  of aftershocks. Then, the fuel cladding could ignite spontaneously releasing its entire radioactive inventory.

Reuters notes:

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.

Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.

“They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,” said Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies.

The operation, beginning this November at the plant’s Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts.

That could lead to a worse disaster than the March 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the world’s most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.

No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: “Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.”

***

The utility says it recognizes the operation will be difficult but believes it can carry it out safely.

Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.

***

The process will begin in November and Tepco expects to take about a year removing the assemblies, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters by e-mail. It’s just one installment in the decommissioning process for the plant forecast to take about 40 years and cost $11 billion.

Each fuel rod assembly weighs about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and is 4.5 meters (15 feet) long. There are 1,331 of the spent fuel assemblies and a further 202 unused assemblies are also stored in the pool, Nagai said.

***

Spent fuel rods also contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances in the universe, that gets formed during the later stages of a reactor core’s operation.

***

“There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other,” Gundersen said.

He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn’t designed to absorb.

“The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can’t stop it. There are no control rods to control it,” Gundersen said. “The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction.”

The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said. [The pools have already boiled due to exposure to air.]

***

Tepco has shored up the building, which may have tilted and was bulging after the explosion, a source of global concern that has been raised in the U.S. Congress.

***

The fuel assemblies have to be first pulled from the racks they are stored in, then inserted into a heavy steel chamber. This operation takes place under water before the chamber, which shields the radiation pulsating from the rods, can be removed from the pool and lowered to ground level.

The chamber is then transported to the plant’s common storage pool in an undamaged building where the assemblies will be stored.

[Here is a visual tour of Fukushima's fuel pools, along with graphics of how the rods will be removed.]

Tepco confirmed the Reactor No. 4 fuel pool contains debris during an investigation into the chamber earlier this month.

Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers, according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years.

“Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don’t have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods,” Kimura said.

***

Corrosion from the salt water will have also weakened the building and equipment, he said.

And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.

ABC Radio Australia quotes  an expert on the situation (at 1:30):

Richard Tanter, expert on nuclear  power issues and professor of international relations at the University of Melbourne:

***

Reactor Unit 4, the one which has a very large amount of stored fuel in its fuel storage pool, that is sinking. According to former prime Minister Kan Naoto, that has sunk some 31 inches in places and it’s not uneven. This is really not surprising given what’s happened in terms of pumping of water, the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunami, the continuing infusions of water into the groundwater area. This is an immediate problem, and if it is not resolved there is an extraordinary possibility we really could be back at March 2011 again because of the possibility of a fission accident in that spent fuel pond in Unit No. 4.

Xinua writes:

Mitsuhei Murata, a former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland has officially called for the withdrawalof Tokyo’s Olympic bid, due to the worsening crisis at Fukushima, which experts believe is not limited to storage tanks, but also potential cracks in the walls of the spent nuclear fuel pools.

Japan Focus points out:

The spent-fuel pool … was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, and is in a deteriorating condition. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction.

***

If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire.

***

This is literally a matter of national security – another mistake by TEPCO could have incredibly costly, even fatal, consequences for Japan.

Like Pulling Cigarettes Out of a Crumpled Pack

Fuel rod expert Arnie Gundersen – a nuclear engineer and former senior manager of a nuclear power company which manufactured nuclear fuel rods – recently explained the biggest problem with the fuel rods (at 15:45):

I think they’re belittling the complexity of the task. If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing.

***

I suspect we’ll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they’ll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated — the pool boiled – and the net effect is that it’s likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.

In another interview, Gundersen provides additional details (at 31:00):

The racks are distorted from the earthquake — oh, by the way, the roof has fallen in, which further distorted the racks.

The net effect is they’ve got the bundles of fuel, the cigarettes in these racks, and as they pull them out, they’re likely to snap a few. When you snap a nuclear fuel rod, that releases radioactivity again, so my guess is, it’s things like krypton-85, which is a gas, cesium will also be released, strontium will be released. They’ll probably have to evacuate the building for a couple of days. They’ll take that radioactive gas and they’ll send it up the stack, up into the air, because xenon can’t be scrubbed, it can’t be cleaned, so they’ll send that radioactive xenon up into the air and purge the building of all the radioactive gases and then go back in and try again.

It’s likely that that problem will exist on more than one bundle. So over the next year or two, it wouldn’t surprise me that either they don’t remove all the fuel because they don’t want to pull too hard, or if they do pull to hard, they’re likely to damage the fuel and cause a radiation leak inside the building.  So that’s problem #2 in this process, getting the fuel out of Unit 4 is a top priority I have, but it’s not going to be easy. Tokyo Electric is portraying this as easy. In a normal nuclear reactor, all of this is done with computers. Everything gets pulled perfectly vertically. Well nothing is vertical anymore, the fuel racks are distorted, it’s all going to have to be done manually. The net effect is it’s a really difficult job. It wouldn’t surprise me if they snapped some of the fuel and they can’t remove it.

And Chris Harris – a, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer – notes that it doesn’t help that a lot of the rods are in very fragile condition:

Although there are a lot of spent fuel assemblies in there which could achieve criticality — there are also 200 new fuel assemblies which have equivalent to a full tank of gas, let’s call it that. Those are the ones most likely to go critical first.

***

Some pictures that were released recently show that a lot of fuel is damaged, so when they go ahead and put the grapple on it, and they pull it up, it’s going to fall apart. The boreflex has been eaten away; it doesn’t take saltwater very good.

Like Letting a Murderer Perform Brain Surgery On a VIP

What’s the bottom line?

Tepco has an abysmal track record:

  • Tepco just admitted that it’s known for 2 years that massive amounts of radioactive water are leaking into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean
  • Tepco’s recent attempts to solidify the ground under the reactors using chemicals has backfired horribly.  And NBC News notes: “[Tepco] is considering freezing the ground around the plant. Essentially building a mile-long ice wall underground, something that’s never been tried before to keep the water out. One scientist I spoke to dismissed this idea as grasping at straws, just more evidence that the power company failed to anticipate this problem … and now cannot solve it.”

Letting Tepco remove the fuel rods is like letting a convicted murderer perform delicate brain surgery on a VIP.

Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima.   An international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should handle this difficult “surgery”.

The stakes are high …

Il martellamento politico-mediatico sulle armi chimiche della Siria, che secondo le «prove» segrete della Cia sarebbero state usate dalle forze governative, genera la diffusa impressione che sia ormai solo la Siria a possedere tali armi e che con esse minacci il resto del mondo. Potenza delle armi di distrazione di massa, capaci di focalizzare l’attenzione dell’opinione pubblica su un singolo punto, facendo sparire tutto il resto.

Fu la Germania a usare per prima le armi chimiche nel 1915-17: cloro liquido e fosgene, quindi gas vescicatorio e asfissiante Mustard (o Iprite). Come risposta, Gran Bretagna e Francia produssero anch’esse questo gas letale. Il gas nervino Tabun, che provoca la morte per asfissia, fu scoperto nel 1936 da ricercatori della compagnia tedesca I.G. Farben (la stessa che produsse lo Zyclon B, usato nelle camere a gas). Nel 1936 l’Italia usò in Etiopia armi chimiche, già impiegate in Libia nel 1930. In Germania, vennero prodotti agenti chimici ancora più letali, il Sarin e il Soman. Essi non vennero usati da Hitler, probabilmente perché all’inizio temeva una ritorsione di Stati uniti e Gran Bretagna, che avevano grossi arsenali chimici, e, nell’ultima fase della guerra, perché non gli erano rimasti abbastanza aerei per l’attacco. Durante la guerra fredda la corsa alle armi chimiche accelerò con la scoperta del gas nervino più tossico, il VX, la cui produzione iniziò nel 1961 negli Usa. Vennero quindi prodotte negli Usa le prime armi chimiche binarie: proiettili, bombe e testate missilistiche che contengono due componenti chimici separati, e quindi relativamente innocui, i quali mescolandosi durante la traiettoria si combinano in una miscela tossica. Usa e Urss accumularono i maggiori e più letali arsenali chimici. Ma il «club chimico» si allargò rapidamente ad altri paesi.

Finita la guerra fredda, è entrata in vigore nel 1997 la Convenzione sulle armi chimiche, che ne bandisce l’uso e stabilisce la distruzione degli arsenali esistenti. A sedici anni di distanza, però, sia gli Stati uniti che la Russia non hanno ancora distrutto completamente i loro arsenali, poiché non hanno osservato le scadenze stabilite. Secondo i dati ufficiali, gli Usa conservano circa 5.500 tonnellate di armi chimiche. La Russia ne ha molte di più, circa 21.500, ereditate dagli arsenali sovietici. Una valutazione semplicemente quantitativa è però ingannevole: Stati uniti, Russia e altri paesi tecnologicamente avanzati mantengono la capacità di costruire sofisticate armi chimiche binarie ed uniscono sempre le esercitazioni di guerra nucleare con quelle di guerra chimica. Stando però anche alla sola dimensione quantitativa, gli Stati uniti, che guidano la campagna contro le armi chimiche della Siria, ne posseggono circa 6 volte di più: secondo una stima dell’intelligence francese, probabilmente gonfiata, la Siria avrebbe circa 1.000 tonnellate di agenti e precursori chimici (sostanze adatte a produrre armi chimiche).

Perché la Siria non ha firmato la Convenzione sulle armi chimiche? La risposta, in termini essenziali, è: perché ha puntate addosso le armi nucleari israeliane. Non solo. Israele ha costruito dagli anni Sessanta anche un sofisticato arsenale di armi chimiche. Ma, come quello nucleare, resta segreto poiché Israele ha firmato ma non ratificato la Convenzione sulle armi chimiche. Secondo un rapporto di «Foreign Policy», basato su un documento della Cia, avanzate ricerche sulle armi chimiche furono condotte nel Centro israeliano di ricerca biologica e tali armi furono prodotte e stoccate nel deserto Negev, a Dimona, dove si producono anche armi nucleari. Lo riferisce perfino il «Jerusalem Post». Anche se Israele non avesse conservato tale arsenale, scrive la rivista specializzata «Jane’s», possiede la capacità di «sviluppare in alcuni mesi un programma di armi chimiche offensive». Si capisce quindi perché anche l’Egitto non abbia firmato la Convenzione sulle armi chimiche.

Stati uniti e Israele non hanno mai violato ufficialmente la proibizione dell’uso di armi chimiche, poiché l’agente chimico Orange alla diossina, impiegato massicciamente dagli Usa in Vietnam, e le bombe chimiche al fosforo bianco impiegate dagli Usa in Iraq, Iugoslavia, Afghanistan e Libia, e da Israele a Gaza, non sono considerate armi chimiche. Una consolazione per le famiglie che hanno visto i bambini nascere deformi per l’agente Orange o morire bruciati dal fosforo bianco.

Manlio Dinucci

L’imbarazzato silenzio dei governanti

September 14th, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

È tradizione consolidata in Italia che, ogni volta che il Papa apre bocca, si leva dai politici un coro bipartisan di consensi. Ora però Papa Francesco si è espresso contro la guerra, rife-rendosi implicitamente ma chiaramente all’attacco in prepa-razione contro la Siria. E si è chiesto: «Questa guerra di là, quest’altra di là – perché dappertutto ci sono guerre – è davve-ro una guerra per problemi o è una guerra commerciale per vendere queste armi?».

Di fronte a tale presa di posizione e alla vasta mobilitazione popolare che la sostiene, i coristi si sono ammutoliti. Praticamente assenti, sui media, i soliti plausi del presidente della repubblica, del capo e dei membri del governo, dei segretari dei maggiori partiti. In compenso, il segretario del Pd Guglielmo Epifani ha lodato il governo perché ha fatto «una scelta giusta fin dal principio, dichiaran-dosi contrario all’intervento in Siria». Si è dimenticato

Epifani che il giorno prima il governo Letta aveva sottoscritto, ai margini del G-20 a San Pietroburgo, la Dichiarazione sulla Siria presentata dagli Stati uniti, che condanna il governo si-riano per il «terrificante attacco con armi chimiche», accusa il Consiglio di sicurezza di essere «paralizzato» (dal veto russo) e chiede «una forte risposta internazionale».

Tace Epifani anche sul fatto che l’Italia è in prima linea nella preparazione dell’attacco aeronavale alla Siria: come quello contro la Libia nel 2011, sarebbe diretto dal Comando Usa di Napoli e soste-nuto dall’intera rete di basi Usa/Nato in Italia, in particolare da quelle di Sigonella e Camp Darby.

Per un primo attacco, della durata di alcuni giorni, sono più che sufficienti le forze aeronavali messe in campo da Stati uniti e Francia, che lance-rebbero centinaia di missili e bombe a testata penetrante. Sa-rebbero probabilmente impiegati anche bombardieri strategici B-2 Spirit, gli aerei più cari del mondo (oltre 2 miliardi di dollari ciascuno), già usati contro la Serbia, l’Iraq e la Libia. Concepiti per l’attacco nucleare, possono trasportare oltre 18 tonnellate di bombe e missili a testata non-nucleare.

Una par-tecipazione diretta italiana nella prima fase è quindi superflua sul piano militare, anche se non esclusa: con la motivazione ufficiale di proteggere il contingente italiano in Libano, è sta-to inviato nel Mediterraneo orientale il cacciatorpediniere lanciamissili Andrea Doria, che si aggiunge alle unità statuni-tensi, francesi, israeliane e turche che fronteggiano quelle russe. Situazione sempre più pericolosa: con quelle in arrivo, le navi da guerra russe nel Mediterraneo orientale saliranno a 12.

Epifani passa sotto silenzio anche il fatto che l’Italia è da tempo impegnata a sostenere la guerra interna: partecipa al gruppo intergovernativo degli «Amici della Siria» che, lo scorso giugno a Doha, si è apertamente impegnato a fornire armi ai «ribelli» (cosa che da tempo già faceva sotto direzio-ne Cia). Pur tacendo, il governo non ha però fatto mancare la sua presenza alla preghiera per la pace. Il ministro della dife-sa Mario Mauro è giunto alla veglia in piazza San Pietro, senza però rispondere ai giornalisti che gli chiedevano come possa conciliarsi la preghiera per la pace con l’acquisto degli F35. Il premier Letta è andato in chiesa a Cernobbio, ma ha taciuto quando gli hanno chiesto se partecipava al digiuno per la pace.

La regola del silenzio l’ha imparata partecipando al gruppo Bilderberg, cupola dei poteri occulti, che nel meeting 2012 (sempre a porte chiuse e in silenzio stampa) ha invitato insieme a Letta oscuri «rappresentanti dell’opposizione siria-na».

Manlio Dinucci

10 settembre de 2013

Scare Tactics, Counter-terror and Law Enforcement

September 14th, 2013 by Greg Guma

Preventing violence. It’s a basic goal of law enforcement, and if the methods are legal and ethical, actions intended to prevent potentially violent activities raise few fundamental questions. But when governments go beyond that, when they target people or groups for their views, associations, or criticisms of government policies, they cross the constitutional line.

In a 1969 US Supreme Court case, Brandenberg v. Ohio, the majority made it clear: The government can’t legally “forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or law violation except where such advocacy is directed toward inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” In other words, without a “clear and present danger,” suppressing speech and punishing people for their associations are out of bounds. By the time that ruling was issued, however, the federal government of the United States had been engaged in a covert program directed a domestic targets for years. In a 1976 report by the US Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations, the program known as COINTELPRO was described as “a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.” 

The dubious premise, explained the report, was that law enforcement must “do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order.”

Possibly on those grounds, but clearly at the instigation of certain major corporations, the intelligence community actively infiltrated and spied on anti-nuclear activist groups in the late 1970s. By then I was already worried about the loose and misleading use of the word “terrorist.” But until I met Kristina Berster I had no idea just how far so-called anti-terrorist “preparedness” could go.

On July 3, 1978, my son Jesse was born, the most life-altering moment I’d ever experienced. Two weeks later, just back from a week covering stock car racing in Vermont, I heard that someone had been arrested crossing the border from Canada. The newspapers were calling her a terrorist.

The public first heard about Kristina Berster on July 20, about four days after her arrest. Attempting to cross into the US on foot, she’d become lost and been nabbed by a Customs agent. At first, the FBI knew only that she was a West German citizen wanted for something called “criminal association,” a crime that did not exist in the US. The source of the charge was her previous membership in a radical therapy group, the Socialist Patients Collective. According to German authorities, some of its members may later have joined the notorious Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof group, a radical underground dedicated to armed struggle.

This stale, circumstantial evidence was enough to launch a nationwide terrorist scare. For FBI Director William Webster the arrest was a chance to buttress his claims that urban terrorism was on the rise, part of a push for more agents and expanded authority to investigate citizens who were “reasonably believed” to be involved in “potential” terrorist activities. So far, the requests had been denied. Instead, criticism of the Bureau was mounting as Congress discussed a charter to define and limit its activities.

Webster’s July 20 press conference had a simple purpose: to announce that a foreign terrorist had been caught in a conspiracy with US citizens. Break out the duct tape! His remarks stopped short of calling Berster a member of Baader-Meinhof, but Bureau’s press spokesmen quickly contacted their favorite reporters as off-the-record sources to provide additional details. The next morning newspapers across the country spread the news in bold headlines

Some accounts even printed an agent’s speculation that Berster had come to Vermont in order to assassinate the president of BMW. After all, he was planning a visit to Rutland.

One of the first Vermont reporters contacted was Burlington Free Pressreporter Mike Donoghue, who had excellent police contacts. He received a wake up call about the arrest early on July 20 and ripped some AP copy that directly called her a Baader-Meinhof member. When I asked him about the source of his story, Mike declined to say. But the managing editor of another Vermont daily, The Rutland Herald, revealed that FBI press officer Tom Harrington had fed the information to his reporter.

Harrington denied it. “We didn’t put her with any group,” he claimed. Nevertheless, most US newspapers that day called her a terrorist, using that loaded word without much hesitation. But the ruse could be maintained only for a short time. A week later, another FBI press official issued a low-key retraction. Although barely noticed, that statement admitted the Bureau had no evidence that Berster was a terrorist. 

The change in position had been forced on the FBI after West German officials issued their own statement, calling her a “fringe figure” whom they might not bother to extradite. In any case, she was now an illegal alien facing federal conspiracy charges.

By then I had become embroiled in the case. Several friends had formed a defense committee, and, in early August, I visited the Albany lockup to speak with the “terrorist” in person. What I heard was a tale of persecution and flight. The resulting cover feature was published in the “back to school” issue of the new Vermont Vanguard Press. The cover photo showed an intense young woman in shackles under heavy guard.

“Was Kristina Berster Tried and Convicted by a Prejudiced Press?” asked a cautiously provocative headline inside, above an investigative report that shared her side of the story and examined both the FBI’s “disinformation” operation and the media’s distribution of the distorted story.

But the Vanguard’s editor was worried that we might be going too far, and decided to hedge his bet with a disclaimer. Describing me as a member of the Defense Committee (not actually true), he noted that my story raised questions about “objectivity and conflict of interest.” Fortunately, he concluded that objectivity is a myth, and that my “pro-Berster sentiments” did not prevent me from doing my job.

Still, my credibility was on the line and the FBI’s manipulation of the media had proven effective. Kristina Berster might be technically innocent until proven guilty, but in the eyes of the public she was a terrorist until proven otherwise.

Greg Guma’s new novel, Dons of Time, which looks at the dangers of the surveillance state, will be released in October by Fomite Press. In the next chapter of this story: Kunstler comes to court, Berster takes the stand
Published by Maverick Media, 2008-2013. See also WIN & Vermont Vanguard Press

Crisi siriana, settembre 2013 - Aizzare i gruppi etnici e religiosi gli uni contro gli altri, gli Arabi contro i Persiani, i Curdi contro gli Arabi, i mussulmani contro i cristiani, i sunniti contro gli sciti, usare gli uni per opprimere gli altri, e in questo modo assicurare i loro interessi strategici in Oriente e la razzia delle risorse naturali e petrolifere della regione; questi sono stati l’arte e le opere delle Potenze occidentali e dei loro consoli e diplomatici nel Vicino Oriente, dal XIX secolo ai nostri giorni.

Cenni di carattere generale

Aizzare i gruppi etnici e religiosi gli uni contro gli altri, gli Arabi contro i Persiani, i Curdi contro gli Arabi, i mussulmani contro i cristiani, i sunniti contro gli sciti, usare gli uni per opprimere gli altri, e in questo modo assicurare i loro interessi strategici in Oriente e la razzia delle risorse naturali e petrolifere della regione; questi sono stati l’arte e le opere delle Potenze occidentali e dei loro consoli e diplomatici nel Vicino Oriente, dal XIX secolo ai nostri giorni.

David Cameron alla Camera dei Comuni (foto)

Esamineremo in primo luogo il parallelismo tra la decisione inglese di non intervenire in Siria e l’opposizione francese all’invasione dell’Iraq nel 2003. Un secondo articolo riguarderà le conseguenze della scoperta di nuovi giacimenti di gas e petrolio nel Mediterraneo, tra Cipro, Siria, Turchia, Grecia, Libano e Israele. In un terzo articolo, analizzeremo i rapporti di forza consolidatisi nella regione dopo la sconfitta di Israele nella seconda guerra del Libano del 2006.

La non partecipazione della Gran Bretagna all’intervento militare in Siria

A una valutazione frettolosa, sembra che la Gran Bretagna si sia, in questo, distinta. Ma solo se si prendano in considerazione le due ultime settimane, durante le quali il Parlamento inglese ha respinto una mozione presentata dal primo ministro David Cameron che riguardava un intervento militare in Siria, col pretesto dell’uso di armi chimiche da parte dell’esercito siriano: “E’ chiaro che il Parlamento inglese non vuole saperne di un intervento militare. Ne prendo nota e il governo agirà di conseguenza”, ha dichiarato David Cameron dopo il voto, aggiungendo che “avrebbe rispettato la volontà della Camera dei Comuni” (1)

Infatti il primo ministro inglese, che si mostra pieno di coraggio in ogni occasione, non intende contrastare la volontà del popolo né quella della nazione – così come sono espresse dalle decisioni della Camera dei Comuni – non per impotenza, ma per amore e generosità, in quanto intende convincerci che “è meglio essere giusti piuttosto che ingiusti” (2) e che “il bene è quello che si ama per quello che è”, come dice Glaucone. (3)

Tuttavia le vere ragioni del voto della Camera dei Comuni che ha respinto l’intervento militare in Siria, e anche della decisione del primo ministro inglese, David Cameron, di “rispettare la volontà” della prima non si spiegano nel contesto della prima constatazione di Glaucone, cioè che “il bene è quello che si ama per come è”, quanto piuttosto nel contesto della sua terza constatazione, quando afferma che “il bene è ciò che si ama solo per le sue conseguenze”; in parole povere nel contesto dei rapporti di forza, degli accordi di spartizione coloniale e degli interessi strategici dei paesi coinvolti nella guerra contro la Siria; l’astensione di David Cameron di non intervenire non è espressione di rispetto per la democrazia, ma presa atto del bilancio di guadagni e perdite di un’avventura le cui conseguenze negative sarebbero state maggiori di quelle positive e il tasso di perdite più elevato dei guadagni.

Quattro  interrogativi

Per capire la non partecipazione di David Cameron, bisogna ricordare la non partecipazione di Jacques Chirac all’intervento militare in Iraq del 2003. Occorre qui porre alcune questioni-chiave che potranno aiutarci a precisare il contesto delle due vicende:

1) Per quale ragione la Francia non ha partecipato all’intervento militare in Iraq, ma si precipita a organizzare una crociata contro la Siria nel 2013?
2) Quali erano i motivi per i quali Jacques Chirac – che la pace sia con lui – non volle galoppare con gli Statunitensi in Iraq? Ricordiamo che il signor Jacques Chirac ripeteva a tutti i suoi interlocutori – giornalisti o ospiti stranieri – “nulla giustifica oggi una guerra contro l’Iraq”; paragonava anche i 100 miliardi di dollari che sarebbe costata la guerra ai 100 milioni di dollari necessari per lottare contro l’AIDS in Africa; (4)
3) In quale contesto il signor Tony Blair – che il buon dio lo protegga dai talismani dei marabutti – si precipitò a “liberare” il popolo iracheno nel 2003, e a costruire “la pace, la prosperità e la democrazia” in Iraq – suggerirei a questo punto di consultare un buon dizionario degli antonimi – ma nel 2013 il suo successore, David Cameron, sembra più rispettoso della “volontà della Camera dei Comuni”?
4) Quale era l’interesse della Francia, a motivo del quale si impegnò prima nella FINUL dopo la prima invasione israeliana del Libano del 1978, poi nella Forza multinazionale di sicurezza a Beirut dopo la seconda invasione israeliana del Libano nel 1982, infine nell’aumento delle sue truppe in seno alla FINUL dopo la guerra del 2006 tra Israele e il Libano, mentre la Gran Bretagna restava fuori da tutte queste missioni di “pace”?

Nella foto, Jacques Chirac

Certamente la risposta a tutte queste domande non è nella bonomia del signor Chirac, né nella cortesia del signor Cameron, ma in primo luogo negli effetti dell’accordo Sykes-Picot (5) del 1916, che smembrò le province arabofone orientali dell’Impero ottomano tra zone francesi e zone inglesi; in secondo luogo nelle recenti scoperte di gas nel Mediterraneo orientale; in terzo luogo nei rapporti di forza consolidatesi nella regione dopo la sconfitta di Israele nella seconda guerra del Libano del 2006.

Lo smembramento delle province arabofone orientali dell’Impero ottomano

Quello che vogliamo qui precisare è l’importanza di un avvenimento storico assai significativo nella storia del Vicino Oriente e le sue conseguenze sugli attuali avvenimenti in Siria. Come testimoniato dalla carta geopolitica del Vicino Oriente, le frontiere degli Stati attuali furono tracciate nel pieno della Grande Guerra (1914-1918), secondo una spartizione coloniale, frutto di diversi accordi e trattati imposti dalla Francia e dalla Gran Bretagna, le due grandi potenze colonialiste dell’epoca; in particolare l’accordo Sykes-Picot (1916), la Dichiarazione Balfour (1917), La Conferenza della Pace (1919), il trattato di Sevres (1920) e il trattato di Losanna (1923). Le due grandi potenze imperialiste dell’epoca ridisegnarono le frontiere interne ed esterne delle province arabofone orientali dell’Impero ottomano secondo il loro propri interessi coloniali, e non secondo gli interessi dei popoli conquistati (evidentemente). Queste province furono spartite in zone francesi e zone inglesi.
1. Zona francese di amministrazione diretta formata dall’attuale Libano e dalla Cilicia (parte meridionale della penisola anatolica)
2. Zona araba A, di influenza francese, comprendente il nord dell’attuale Siria e la provincia di Mosul (nell’Iraq attuale);
3. Zona inglese di amministrazione diretta, formata dall’attuale Kuwait e dalla Mesopotamia;
4. Zona araba B, di influenza inglese, comprendente il sud della Siria attuale, la attuale Giordania e la futura
Palestina mandataria;
5. Zona di amministrazione internazionale, comprendente San Giovanni D’Acri, Haifa e Gerusalemme. L’Inghilterra ottenne il controllo dei porti di Haifa e Acri (6).

Oggi, a un secolo dall’accordo di Sykes-Picot, il Vicino Oriente continua a subire gli effetti e le conseguenze della spartizione coloniale, a onta dei discorsi filantropici dei capi di Stato occidentali e in spregio degli intenti di “liberazione” dalle dittature del mondo arabo. A cento anni dall’accordo di Sykes-Picot, la Francia si mostra ancora più colonialista che mai, e il suo discorso più umanista che mai.

 


Il ministro degli esteri francese, Dominique de Villepin
all’ONU nel 2003

C… come Cameron, come Chirac

Tenendo conto dunque del dato storico dell’accordo di Sykes-Picot, cerchiamo di comprendere la non partecipazione del signor Chirac all’invasione dell’Iraq del 2003 e quella del signor Cameron all’attacco contro la Siria del 2013. Ci sembra più ragionevole pensare che il signor Chirac abbia preso la sua posizione sull’Iraq, non per amore del bene per quello che è – “come i lupi amano gli agnelli” (Platone, Fedro) – ma per una scelta prudente di non intervenire in una zona della spartizione  coloniale dove si trovano più cani che ossi; ciò vuol dire che l’Iraq non fa parte della fetta del saccheggio coloniale assegnata alla Francia dall’accordo di Sycot-Picot, ma della fetta di saccheggio coloniale assegnata alla Gran Bretagna. Inoltre, dal punto di vista linguistico, l’Iraq non appartiene alla zona di controllo e di influenza francofona nel Vicino Oriente, che comprendeva il Libano e la Siria (7); ciò che vuol dire che i Francesi non avevano grandi interessi né privilegi nel saccheggio coloniale di questo paese, tanto da spingerli a galoppare alla “liberazione” di esso dal suo tiranno Nabucodonosor Saddam Hussein. Per contro, gli Inglesi si considerano eredi legittimi del furto e del saccheggio dell’Iraq; legittimità accordata loro dall’accordo di Sykes-Picot.

Per quanto riguarda la non partecipazione della Gran Bretagna all’intervento militare contro la Siria e la precipitazione della Francia a organizzare una nuova crociata, è inversamente proporzionale alla non partecipazione francese e alla precipitazione inglese alla vigilia dell’invasione dell’Iraq nel 2003. La Francia considera il Libano e la Siria come propria zona di influenza, perfino di saccheggio coloniale; di conseguenza la Gran Bretagna non vede i suoi interessi minacciati direttamente in questa regione che costituisce storicamente una zona di influenza francese, dunque un intervento militare non appare così urgente in un simile contesto. E’ utile, in questo senso, considerare l’accordo di Sikes-Picot (1916) e il trattato di Sevres (1920) per farsi un’idea più chiara della spartizione e del saccheggio coloniale del Vicino Oriente.

Ebbene, l’influenza francese nella regione ha subito tre perdite nella seconda metà del XX° secolo: una prima perdita nel 1963, con l’arrivo al potere del partito Baas in Siria, che ha portato alla uscita di questo paese dalla zona di influenza francese; una seconda perdita, con gli attentati del 23 ottobre 1983 che colpirono il contingente francese e statunitense a Beirut; una terza perdita, con l’invasione delle regioni cristiane del Libano da parte dell’esercito siriano il 13 ottobre 1990 e la messa del paese sotto la cappa del presidente siriano Hafez el Assad in piena guerra del Kuwait. In altri termini la Francia coloniale, non riuscendo a digerire l’infamia causata dalla perdita delle sue zone di influenza nel Vicino Oriente, cerca non tanto di punire il presidente Bachar el Assad, ma di punire la Siria e il popolo siriano, tentando di collocarlo nuovamente sotto il suo mantello coloniale tricolore. E’ in questo contesto che si spiega la non partecipazione di Cameron all’intervento militare in Siria, in parallelo con la non partecipazione di Chirac all’intervento militare in Iraq nel 2003. E’ un C…. come Cameron, come Chirac

(segue)

Fida Dakroub

CameronL’abstention britannique en SyrieC… comme Cameron, comme Chirac, 11 settembre 2013

Trad.ossin : http://www.ossin.org/

Note :

[1]  En direct : le Parlement britannique ne veut pas d’une intervention en Syrie. (29 agosto 2013) Libération.

[2] All’inizio del dialogo tra Trasimaco e Socrate, il primo dice : « Ti accontenti, Socrate, del fatto che sembri solo che tu ci abbia convinto, o vuoi persuaderci veramente che, in ogni caso, è meglio essere giusti che ingiusti ». Platone. La Repubblica

[3] Glaucone di Atene (~409 – ~389 A.C.) è un filosofo e musicista, allievo di Socrate e fratello più giovane di Platone. E’ uno dei principali interlocutori di Socrate nella Repubblica di Platone, soprattutto nel Libro II. Egli distingue tre tipi di bene : quello che si ama per come è, quello che si ama per come è e per i suoi effetti, e infine quello che si ama per i suoi soli effetti

[4] Pégard, C. (14. 2. 2003). Chirac-Bush : la crise . Le Point.

[5] Dopo un lavoro preparatorio epistolare di diversi mesi tra Paul Cambon, ambasciatore francese a Londra, e Sir Edward Grey, segretario di Stato al Foreign Office, l’accordo Sykes-Picot venne concluso tra Francia e Regno Unito, tra Sir Mark Sykes e François Georges-Picot,  il 16 maggio 1916. Esso prevedeva una imminente spartizione del Levante e della Mesopotamia ; più precisamente la regione compresa tra il mar Nero, il mar Mediterraneo, il mar Rosso, l’oceano indiano e il mar Caspio, all’epoca parte integrante dell’Impero ottomano. Fonte : Dakroub, Fida. (22 maggio 2012). Les facteurs géopolitiques de la guerre impérialiste contre la Syrie : l’’ancien ordre du Moyen-Orient. Su Mondialisation.ca.

[6] Laurens, Henry. (2003, aprile). Comment l’Empire ottoman fut dépecé. Le Monde diplomatique , pp. 16 – 17.

[7] Il Libano è un paese membro dell’Organizzazione internazionale della Francofonia. La presenza francofona vi era onnipresente prima della guerra civile (1975 – 1990). Il francese è la seconda lingua ufficiale del Libano dopo l’arabo. In Siria, il francese era assai diffuso prima dell’avvento al potere del partito Baas nel 1963 e l’avvio di una politica di arabizzazione dell’educazione e dell’insegnamento.

Turkey Establishes Kurdish Jihadist Brigade to Fight Against Syria

September 14th, 2013 by Global Research News

According to the Intelligence Online, a  professional French journal closely following the activities of intelligence services in the world, Ankara established a Kurdish jihadist brigade to fight against the main Syrian Kurdish party PYD (Democratic Union Party).

“To fight the troops of the Syrian Kurdish movement PYD , which is part of the border between Syria and Turkey , Ankara has encouraged the formation of a jihadist brigade composed almost exclusively of Kurds and called Katibat al- Taliban ( KaT ) . The fighters of the movement , mostly young Kurdish penniless receive nearly $ 1 000 when they engage . They are then sent to fight the PYD on the Turkish- Syrian border alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA ) and jihadists Jabhat al- Nosra . Many of them were killed in late July during an assault in the town of Tell Halaf “, Intelligence Online said.

The Paris-based magazine remarked that “some fighters of KaT are former members of the Kurdish separatist movement PKK converted to Islam in Kurdish prisons. Others come from religious schools established in Kurdistan by the followers of Imam Fethullah Gülen . Another Kurdish movement,Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria(Partiya Demokrat a Kurdî li Sûriyê,PDKS),headed by Abdulhakim Bashar and close to the Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, is also fighting against PYD troops on the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey”

The magazine also pointed out that Turkey openly supports jihadist groups and many brigades of the Free Syrian Army ( FSA) who fight the Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan , especially since mid-July. It also reminded that Turkey borders remain open to the jihadists of Al Qaeda who receive military, diplomatic and financial aid via these borders.

“Support of Turkey is even visible to the naked eye , because these ” foreign extremists ‘ use Turkish border unmolested , carrying their wounded in Turkish ambulances to hospitals of Urfa , bring new foreign fighters who are of first housed in hotels in Istanbul before taking the road to Syria with the help of several Islamic organizations close to the government Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Several members of al- Nosra recently confessed in the Kurdish media support of Turkey to fight the Kurds”, it underlined

The magazine added that “despite the massive support of foreign countries , forehead al- Nosra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, two affiliated with Al- Qaeda groups, and more than ten brigades of the FSA suffered heavy defeats against the Kurdish fighters in Syrian Kurdistan and Aleppo . More than 1,000 members of the armed groups have been killed since mid-July, dozens of others were captured, and many military vehicles carrying anti-aircraft guns and tanks and so a large amount of weapons were captured by Kurdish fighters”.

Most people in the world remember the September 11, 2001 attacks very clearly.

It was a day when the world changed for the worse, when the world was terrorized and outraged by one of the single worst events in world history. Twelve years later no one has been prosecuted for the event and the world now knows that those events served as a catalyst and pretext for endless wars of aggression and domination against any country not under control of the United States.

By attempting to convince the public that every independent, and even Russian leaning country, is somehow connected to terrorism the US has managed to launch wars of aggression against countries that never posed it a threat. The world has grown weary of American aggression. One man who has fought the military expansion of NATO and the US for decades, Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff, helped put the events into perspective as the US attempts to engage in yet another war of aggression.

 Hello this is John Robles, I am speaking with Rick Rozoff, a regular contributor with the Voice of Russia World Service. We are speaking on the 12 year anniversary of the events of 9/11.

Robles:  It is 9/11 2013. In retrospect can you give us your views regarding those events and how they’ve changed the world and brought us to where we are today?

Rozoff: It is worth recalling that the initial report that many of us heard [on the morning of 9/11] was that somebody in a phone booth in the Persian Gulf claimed responsibility for the attacks and attributed them to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is one of the three groups in the Palestine Liberation Organization, but one that has never employed hijacking of airplanes, much less terrorist activity.

So, I think that put things into perspective immediately for me. And then as the emotions started to die down a bit, and the sense of being stunned, I mean the spectacle, and the monstrous loss of life, and then the immediate fear, of course, that the wounded beast that was the Pentagon – Donald Rumsfeld at that time – would really wreak vengeance, not only on the alleged perpetrators of the attacks in Washington and New York, but on any number of other countries and in short order, if you recall, some of your listeners recall, that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld identified, as I recollect, no fewer than 63 countries who he accused of either harboring terrorists or supporting terrorism.

In the words of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld and other members of the administration at that time, that to harbor terrorists was the same as to be a terrorist and you would be dealt with accordingly, and sweeping statements like “you are either with us or with the terrorists.” So, what we all feared I think shortly after the events of 9/11, even as they were occurring in fact, was that the US might exploit this as excuse to settle scores around the world, which in fact happened in short order to the point where even though those accused of perpetrating the attacks – largely Saudi nationals, we should mention, with a Yemeni or Egyptian thrown in for good measure – but ones who had lived for years in Germany and the United States, had gone to flight school in Florida, here, and so forth, apparently with complete impunity without any doubts arising in the mind of law enforcement agencies, if we are to believe the official account.

But even though they did not come from Iraq or Afghanistan or any of the other countries that have been attacked in the interim, under the pretext that we were combating the terrorism that led to the events of 9/11, we also have to remember that immediately the Bush administration started identifying as terrorists their political and ideological enemies during the Cold War.

So, there was everything from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC rebels, in Colombia, to the New People’s Army in the Philippines, to the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey. These are left-wing, secular movements that were immediately identified as being terrorists, as though they had some connection with Al-Qaeda, which was ludicrous. But what was ignored from the very beginning was the fact that, if in fact there was a connection with Osama bin Laden, that the US bore direct responsibility for his arising to the level of the terrorist commando or chieftain they accused him of being, because he was one of an estimated 10,000 ethnic Arabs that with US and Saudi connivance, in the first place, were brought to northwestern Pakistan in the 1980s.

Robles: I’d like to just underline the fact that Osama bin Laden also went by the CIA code name of Tom Osman, he was actually a CIA agent.

Rozoff: That doesn’t surprise me in the least. He was one of 10,000 alleged Afghan Arabs, as the term was, training in US-supported training camps in northwestern Pakistan to be used against Soviet forces inside Afghanistan, but particularly against the government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which was a party of long standing, which had members in parliament for decades, prior to their coming to power in the April revolution of 1978.

But there would be no al-Qaeda, there would be no international movement, extremist terrorist network if the US had not connived with their two major military allies in the Islamic world – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – that set it up; and to arm them, to train them, to put them into contact with each other in a global network. And even the name of the Islamic extremists armed group in the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf group, has an Afghan connection as well.

So, the US is really at the genesis, was at the genesis of the creation of this international terrorist network. But another point that struck me at the time of 9/11 of 2001 was that there were only three countries at that time that recognized the originally Taliban government, I mean they didn’t have…weren’t represented at the United Nations, but the Taliban governing entity, whatever you want to call it, was only recognized by three governments.

Robles: That never stopped the United States, regarding being recognized in the United Nations. I’d like to recall Kosovo again.

Rozoff: Had they chosen to recognize them, when the rest of the world didn’t, that wouldn’t have been an impediment for the United States. But the three nations that in fact did recognize it, and had embassies in Kabul, were Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the two nations that worked most closely with the United States to foster the entire Mujahidin organization and movement and war, which in turn spawned the Taliban as surely as night follows day. And the United Arab Emirates.

So, what we have seen in the interim? That Pakistan is our major military ally in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan – I mean, please – that Saudi Arabia recently signed with the United States the largest bilateral arms deal in history, and that the United Arab Emirates has troops serving under NATO in Afghanistan. The United Arab Emirates has troops serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. They supplied dozens of war planes two and a half years ago for the six-month air war against Libya, a secular Arab government.

And these again – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan – are the three US military allies – pronounced – in the Islamic world, whereas they were the only three governments to formally recognize the Taliban in Afghanistan, but again I suppose people, assume Americans aren’t informed about international affairs and, if they are, that they quickly forget yesterday’s news.

So that the entire story about 9/11 has not properly been explored, and instead what we have heard I think are two alternate red herrings, one of them was the Donald Rumsfeld “we’ve got to drain the swamp.” We’ve got to eliminate terrorists bases throughout the world including in 63 countries and that led by the way to Rumsfeld setting up a train and equip program in the nation of Georgia where terrorists aided and abetted by the United States and its NATO allies were launching attacks into the Russian North Caucasus across the Pankisi Gorge and the Kodori Gorge. And that the Russian government was lodging complaint after complaint with the Georgian government about them, so Rumsfeld says: Well, in fact, yes, there are terrorists operating in North Georgia and attacking Russia, so we are going to set up at first with the Green Berets, and then with the US Marine Corps, what is now a permanent US military presence in Georgia, which was there of course during the five-day war, five years ago last month, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and dragged Russia into the conflict.

But the other thing, I think, too, just to put it in perspective, 9/11 led to the US and NATO invasion of Afghanistan and spreading throughout the South and Central Asian region. And what we now have of course is the longest war in the history of the United States; it will be 12-years-old very shortly; its actually the thirteenth calendar year, which is longer than the war in Vietnam.

Robles: Let’s not forget Iraq and all the other humanitarian interventions.

Rozoff: Yes, then gave rise to subsequent wars, their drone missile campaigns in Yemen and Somali and Libya and Iraq and now Syria of course, and the invasion of Afghanistan was the opening salvo in that effort. too.

Really to put into practice, as we remembered 12 years ago, blueprints elaborated by organizations, like the Project for the New American Century, and others who had plotted to remake a New Middle East, a Broader Greater Middle East which would extend from Mauritania on the Atlantic Ocean to Kazakhstan on the Chinese border, and that is in fact what has happened. But as a result, we’ve seen the US and NATO bring over 150,000 troops into Afghanistan at the extreme under NATO command, under ISAF, International Security Assistance Force, which is substantially larger than the peak strength of Soviet troops during the 1980s.

And this is then of course is the longest war in the history of Afghanistan as well, and has led to the expansion of US and NATO military bases and presence in countries like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan for a while. The effort by the United States and its NATO allies to ensconce themselves squarely in the convergence ground , if you will, of major powers in the area, especially those gathered under the umbrella of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – Russia, China and the Central Asian Republics as well as observers like Iran, Turkey and India.

Stop NATO website and articles: http://rickrozoff. wordpress.com/

Assad’s full cooperation isn’t good enough for Washington. Obama wants regime change. 

On Thursday, Free Syrian Army head Selim Idriss rejected Russia’s peace initiative.

World powers, he said, shouldn’t “be satisfied only by removing the chemical weapon, which is the tool of a crime, but judge the author of the crime before the International Criminal Court, who has clearly acknowledged possessing it and agreed to get rid of it.”

Idriss urged military force. He wants weapons supplied his forces increased. He promised to “intensify operations in all regions of the country.”

Peaceful conflict resolution faces long odds. Washington’s going all out to prevent it.

On September 12, Russia’s Rossiya-24 prerecorded an interview with Assad. He pledged full cooperation for peace.

He’ll sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Within days, he’ll submit documents required to do so, he said.

He’ll place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. He’ll provide monitors with information about them one month after becoming a CWC signatory.

 ”I believe the agreement will come into force a month after the signing and Syria will start submitting data on its chemical weapons stockpile to international organizations,” he said.

“These are standard procedures, and we are going to stick to them,” he stressed.

He agreed to Russian proposed terms. They’re fair, logical and workable. They seek peaceful conflict resolution. US threats didn’t influence him.

He said “(t)errorists are tying to incite a US attack against Syria. There are countries that supply chemical substances to opposition rebels.”

Obama’s threat to attack Syria was “based on a US provocation.”

He’ll fulfill his obligation to place his chemical weapons under international control. He’ll do so when Washington stops threatening to attack.

“When we see that the United States truly desires stability in our region and stops threatening and seeking to invade, as well as stops arms supplies to terrorists then we can believe that we can follow through with the necessary processes,” he said.

Washington should end its “politics of threats.”

“Syria will send its address to the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the next few days.”

“That address will be accompanied by technical documents required for signing this agreement.”

“That will be followed by work that will lead to the signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Assad said CWC has many clauses. They include prohibiting the production, storage and use of chemical weapons.

After agreeing to CWC provisions, it “will take effect and, in my view, the agreement will take effect one month after being signed, and Syria will begin providing information on its chemical weapons arsenals to international organizations.”

At the same time, Syria won’t follow procedural mechanisms unilaterally.

“That doesn’t mean that (it) will sign the documents, fulfill the conditions and that that will be it. This is a bilateral process,” said Assad.

He wants the region, including Israel, free from weapons of mass destruction.

“When we proposed a project to liquidate stores of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the United States impeded the project,” he said.

 ”One of the reasons was to allow Israel to have such weapons.”

“If we want stability in the Middle East, all countries should adhere to agreements and the first country to adhere to the agreements should be Israel because Israel has nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and all types of weapons of mass destruction.”

Insurgents may use chemical weapons against Israel as a provocation, he said.

“It has absolutely not been ruled out that this information is true and is used for the purposes stated earlier.”

He denied reports alleging his military commanders asked  permission to use chemical weapons.

America “resort(s) to all kinds of lies, including what you said. The truth is that there absolutely has not been such a conversation in Syria at any level.”

Countries providing toxic agents to insurgents should be held fully responsible, he said.

“We should conduct an in-depth investigation into this case in order to learn about the composition of these substances and what party used them.”

“And most importantly, we need to learn what countries supplied the toxic substances to the terrorists and hold these countries responsible.”

“All countries are saying they don’t work with terrorists, but we know that the West is providing logistical support to them” and much more.

“They are saying these are non-lethal objects or humanitarian aid, but as a result the West and countries of the region such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and earlier Qatar, contact terrorists directly and support them by providing them with all types of weapons.”

“We think one of these countries supplied chemical weapons to terrorists.” Saudi Arabia’s been caught red-handed. Assad stopped short of saying so.

On September 12, Press TV headlined “Syria now full member of chemical arms treaty, Syria’s UN envoy says.”

Bashar al-Jaafari said “(l)egally speaking, Syria has become, starting today, a full (CWC) member.”

On Thursday, UN officials confirmed receipt of proper documents. According to spokeman Farhan Haq:

“In the past few hours, we have received a document from the government of Syria that is being translated, which is to be an accession document concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Jaafari added:

 ”The chemical weapons in Syria are a mere deterrence against the Israeli nuclear arsenal.”

“It’s a deterrent weapon and now the time has come for the Syrian government to join the (convention) as a gesture to show our willingness to be against all weapons of mass destruction.”

 On Thursday, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva. They’re discussing Russia’s peace plan. Talks are expected to continue on Friday. Important disagreement must be resolved.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Washington will evaluate the credibility of Moscow’s proposal. Kerry told Lavrov America is “not going to play games here.”

On September 13, AP’s Matthew Lee and John Heilprin headlined “US and Russia at Odds as Syria Talks continue,” saying:

Contentious discussions began. “(T)echnical experts (on both sides are) meeting separately. (They’re reviewing) details on the timing of the plan for the weapons to be inventoried, quarantined and destroyed.”

“Kerry bluntly rejected (Assad’s) pledge to begin a ‘standard process’ by turning over information rather than weapons – and nothing immediately.”

“The words of the Syrian regime, in our judgment, are simply not enough,” he said. “This is not a game.”

Obama’s plan to attack Syria is very much “alive,” said Lee. According to Kerry, turning over weapons must be complete, verifiable and timely.

Otherwise, “there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.” He left no doubt what he means. Russia categorically rejects force.

Lavrov called it unacceptable. Security Council resolution language suggesting it won’t be permitted. Russia wants peaceful conflict resolution.

Lavrov disagreed with Kerry. He said procedures Syria follows must be “in strict compliance with the rules that are established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

Assad pledged to follow them to the letter. Nothing he’s doing indicates otherwise. Kerry’s comments reveal Washington’s true intentions. Syria’s best efforts aren’t good enough.

“(D)istrust in US-Russia relations was on display even in” off-hand comments, said Lee and Heilprin.

Moscow’s going all out for peaceful conflict resolution. Washington’s hell bent for war. During Geneva talks, CIA operatives continue actively arming insurgents.

According to National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, Washington won’t “detail every single type of support that we are providing to the opposition or discuss timelines for delivery, but it’s important to note that both the political and the military opposition are and will be receiving this assistance.”

Moscow’s well aware of American support given anti-Assad insurgents. According to Lee and Heilprin:

“Current and former US intelligence officials said the CIA has arranged for the Syrian opposition to receive anti-tank weaponry such as rocket-propelled grenades through a third party, presumably one of the Gulf countries that have been arming the rebels.”

“They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the classified program publicly.”

 On September 13, Itar Tass headlined  ”France undermines Russia’s Syria initiative,” saying:

 Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari accused France of trying to subvert resolving Syria’s conflict peacefully.

 He’s spinning the yet to be released UN Ghouta massacre report. More on how major Western powers will interpret what it says below.

 ”I think Minister Fabius is trying to deprive of the positive impulse the Russian initiative, as well as Syria’s positive reaction to it,” said Jaafari.

“We are dealing with the minister of one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who runs forward and anticipates the conclusions of which will be contained in the report of the (UN) inspectors.”

 Fabius said they’ll blame Syria for attacking Ghouta. They’ll do so, he believes, by claiming only Damascus has chemical weapons stockpiles.

 An unnamed diplomat said UN experts concluded that sarin was used. Clear evidence proves insurgents used it before. Russian analysis showed they used it in Khan al-Asal last March.

 In May, Turkish police arrested 12 suspected Al Nusra fighters. They were caught red-handed. They had two grams of sarin.

 Witnesses blamed them for attacking Ghouta. Syrian forces had nothing to do with it.

 On September 11, Foreign Policy headlined “Exclusive: UN Report Will Point to Assad Regime in Massive Chemical Attack,” saying:

“UN inspectors have collected a ‘wealth’ of evidence on the use of nerve agents that points to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his own people, according to a senior Western official.”

On September 16, they’re expected to release their findings. They’ll say whether or not chemical weapons were used. If so, which ones. They’ll do so without attribution.

They won’t point fingers either way. Syria will be blamed by implication. How this affects events going forward remains to be seen.

Washington will take full advantage. Moscow demands peaceful conflict resolution. AIPAC and other Zionist organizations want war.

 Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman said “It’s Iran, Stupid…”

Syria’s a sideshow. It’s prelude to targeting Tehran.  ADL wants military force against both countries. So do other Israeli Lobby organizations.

 They’re lobbying Congress to authorize it. Stopping it faces long odds.

  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

The hammering by politicians and the corporate media about chemical weapons use in Syria, which, according to secret CIA “evidence” was used by government forces, has generated the widespread false impression that it is only Syria that now possesses such weapons and threatens the rest of the world with them. That’s the power of the weapon of mass distraction, which is able to focus public attention on a single point, making everything else vanish.

Germany was the first to use chemical weapons in 1915-17: First liquid chlorine and phosgene, later the asphyxiating and blistering Mustard gas. In response, Britain and France also produced this deadly gas. The nerve gas Tabun, which causes death by suffocation, was discovered in 1936 by researchers from the German company IG Farben (the same company that produced Zyclon B, used in gas chambers). In 1936 Italy used chemical weapons in Ethiopia, and had already used it in Libya in 1930. Germany produced the even more lethal chemical agents Sarin and Soman.

They were not used by Adolf Hitler, probably because at first he feared retaliation by the United States and Great Britain, which had major chemical arsenals, and in the last phase of the war, because not enough planes remained to carry out such an attack. During the Cold War the chemical arms race accelerated with the discovery of the most toxic nerve gas, VX, whose production began in the United States in 1961. Then the first binary chemical weapons were produced in the United States: These are bullets, bombs and missile warheads that contain two separate chemical components, which when separate are relatively harmless, but which during the trajectory are combined in a toxic mix. The USA and the USSR amassed the largest and most lethal chemical weapons, but the “chemical club” rapidly expanded to include other countries.

After the Cold War ended, the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997, banning the use of chemical weapons and establishing the destruction of existing stockpiles. Now 16 years later, however, neither the United States nor Russia has completely destroyed its stockpiles, since they have not observed the established deadlines. According to official data, the U.S. still holds approximately 5,500 tons of chemical weapons. Russia has much more, about 21,500, inherited from Soviet arsenals.

A simple quantitative comparison, however, is misleading: the United States, Russia and other technologically advanced countries retain the ability to build sophisticated binary chemical weapons and always combine their nuclear war exercises with those of chemical warfare. According to one dimension, which is also quantitative, the United States, which is leading the campaign against chemical weapons in Syria, owns approximately six times what Syria does. According to an estimate by French intelligence, probably inflated, Syria is supposed to have about 1,000 tons of chemical agents and substances suitable for producing chemical weapons.

Why hasn’t Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention? The answer basically is that the Syrians need to counter Israel’s nuclear weapons and not only that. In the 1960s Israel had also built a sophisticated arsenal of chemical weapons. But just as with Israel’s nuclear weapons, this remains secret because Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. According to a report of “Foreign Policy,” based on a 1983 CIA document, advanced research on chemical weapons were conducted in the Israeli Center for Biological Research, and these weapons were produced and stored in the Negev Desert, at Dimona, where Israel also produces its nuclear weapons. Even the Sept. 10 “Jerusalem Post” reports this. Even if Israel has not maintained such an arsenal, writes the journal “Jane’s,” it has the ability to “develop an offensive chemical weapons program within several months.” (Jane’s CBRN Assessments, 23 July 2009,www.janes.com) It is understandable then why even Egypt has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The U.S. and Israel have never officially violated the rule prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, since the chemical dioxin (Agent Orange), used extensively by the U.S. in Vietnam, and the chemical white phosphorous bombs used by the U.S. in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya, and by Israel in Gaza, are not considered chemical weapons. This is not much of a consolation for the families who have seen children born deformed from Agent Orange or burned to death by white phosphorus.

Manlio Dinucci

il manifesto, 12 settembre 2013

http://www.ilmanifesto.it/area-abbonati/in-edicola/manip2n1/20130912/manip2pg/02/manip2pz/345687/

Translation : John Catalinotto

 

Network TV Supports War on Syria: “Journalists Don’t Need Proof”

September 14th, 2013 by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

By Peter Hart

The public doesn’t seem to support going to war in Syria–but some high-profile  Sunday morning TV journalists are either declaring their support for the war, or professing faith in the case for going to war.

On NBC‘s Meet the Press (9/8/13), anchor David Gregory stated that the White House is releasing new video of the aftermath of the August 21 suspected chemical weapons attack:

This is video the administration showed members of Congress this week in order to make the case for military strike. It appears to show victims of the August 21 attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that killed more than 1,400 people.

The videos show horrible suffering and death–but they do not actually show that the victims were attacked by Assad’s forces, or the number of Syrians killed.

This is the leap that the White House has made, and one they assure us is well-founded on intelligence that they will not share with the American public (AP, 9/8/13). Journalists should be pressing the White House to make their case; instead, too many journalists are just believing what they’re told.

That theme was repeated later on in the broadcast during this exchange between Gregory and NBC correspondent Chuck Todd:

GREGORY: I remember how Democrats went after the Bush administration for raising the specter of weapons of mass destruction being used against our own troops to make a case for war. That never happened because there were no WMDs there. Denis McDonough, Chief of Staff, just said that here. He said, “We don’t want our own troops being targeted by these awful weapons.”

TODD: But David, but these weapons are there. I mean, this is a completely different case. The weapons were used, we have the film, we have all kinds of intelligence that suggest who used them. It’s a much different thing.

If Todd has seen solid intelligence that the Syrian government was behind the attack, he should share it with the world. Associated Press reporters Zeina Aram and Kimberly Dozier (9/8/13) have a different take, writing:

 Yet one week after Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the case against Assad, Americans–at least those without access to classified reports–haven’t seen a shred of his proof.

They add:

The Obama administration, searching for support from a divided Congress and skeptical world leaders, says its own assessment is based mainly on satellite and signals intelligence, including intercepted communications and satellite images indicating that in the three days prior to the attack that the regime was preparing to use poisonous gas.

But multiple requests to view that satellite imagery have been denied, though the administration produced copious amounts of satellite imagery earlier in the war to show the results of the Syrian regime’s military onslaught. When asked Friday whether such imagery would be made available showing the August 21 incident, a spokesman referred the Associated Press to a map produced by the White House last week that shows what officials say are the unconfirmed areas that were attacked.

The Obama administration maintains it intercepted communications from a senior Syrian official on the use of chemical weapons, but requests to see that transcript have been denied. So has a request by the AP to see a transcript of communications allegedly ordering Syrian military personnel to prepare for a chemical weapons attack by readying gas masks.

That’s what journalism that is skeptical of government claims looks like. But then there’s CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, who gave this endorsement for war on the Sunday show (9/8/13):

The president of the United States drew a line in the sand, a red line. At this point, that may be the only good reason left for Congress to give him the authority he now asked for to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. When the president of the United States says something, the rest of the world, our friends and our enemies, pay attention. If we do not follow through, what impact will that have on North Korea or Iran the next time we warn them of dire consequences if they press on with their nuclear weapons programs? More important, how will it be viewed by our strong allies like Japan? We have treaties that promise we will retaliate if they are attacked by nuclear powers. Will they now question our resolve? I don’t like anything about where we are, but in a dangerous world when the United States takes a stand, and then goes back on its word, we’re left in an even more dangerous place.

So the best case for war is that Obama made a comment about a red line, and that the US must carry out acts of violence whenever it suggests that it might? And while he’s at it, Schieffer throws in a bogus reference to Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”

It’s a remarkable call for war, based on no particular issue other than maintaining US dominance. It might explain the Sunday shows’ cavalier attitude about evidence, though; if you’re chief concern is that Washington carry out its threats, why should you demand proof that those threats had any justification to begin with?

Preempting The Next Round of Lies Against Syria

September 14th, 2013 by Tony Cartalucci

The bottom line regarding the UN’s upcoming report regarding the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, Syria is best summed up by the BBC’s article, “Syria crisis: UN report to confirm chemical arms attack” [emphasis added]:

Ban Ki-moon made no comment on who was to blame for the 21 August attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, as that is not part of the report’s remit.

Despite this, the United States and its axis of collaborators are already trying to spin the report as confirmation that the Syrian government was responsible.Relying entirely on the momentum of its massive media networks and their ability to “will” reality into any shape they please, headlines such as “United Nations’ Syria chemical weapons report “overwhelming,” shamelessly attempt to link two out of context statements by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the Syria government’s “crimes against humanity” and the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Damascus Syria, to place in the mind of readers assigned blame for the attacks.In reality, the UN inspectors that were stampeded out of Damascus in the middle of their work, fearing an impending unilateral US military attack, were only attempting to determine how victims in eastern Damascus died, not who killed them. Independent assessments of who was responsible for the attack have not been carried out. The best the US has been able to do is suggest terrorists operating in Syria were incapable of such an attack, leaving only the Syrian government as a possible suspect.

Of course this single point of contention is dispelled by the US’ own policy in the region. CNN’s “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” reported that:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

Militant groups operating inside Syria with Western “contractors” (read: mercenaries, see: Blackwater) are more than capable of handling and deploying the weapons, and therefore more than capable of carrying out the attacks in question. The only argument left for the US is whether or not these militants, aligned with Al Qaeda, possess the will or motivation to do so. That doing so and framing the Syrian government would serve as impetus for direct US military intervention and therefore the salvation of the crumbling militant offensive, is more than motivation enough.UN’s Complicity in Ongoing Syrian Bloodbath

And while Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s comments were taken out of context, that he has seemingly failed to also call for accountability of Syria’s so-called “opposition” smacks of partiality – partiality exhibited by the UN throughout the Syrian conflict. Additionally, the UN’s failure to question who in fact is arming, funding, and logistically supporting verified terrorist organizations within and around Syria’s borders is equally troubling.Al Qaeda has been active in Syria since the conflict began, and according to the US State Department’s own assessment titled, ”Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa’ida in Iraq:”

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

Could the UN be so out of touch with reality that it doesn’t realize an operation of this scale surely is state-sponsored, and that the question of who is funding, arming, and otherwise supporting such an extensive operation never seemed important enough to publicly ask?Examining the UN’s role in the Syrian crisis must also include its 2011 UN Human Rights Council’s report (full text .pdf), and its most recent report published August of this year (.doc).  These are nothing more than a collection of “interviews” conducted abroad with “witnesses” provided by Syrian “opposition groups” and alleged defectors, augmented with fabrications and biased spin provided by Western-funded “NGOs” openly working for armed militants inside Syria.

Image: Screenshot from the Washington D.C.-based Middle East Policy Council’s board of directors from which the UN has drawn Karen Koning AbuZayd as head of their recent “expert panel” on Syria. With fellow board members representing the collective interests of the American and Gulf State corporate-financier interests currently underwriting armed militants inside Syria, the conflict of interest resigns the legitimacy of the report – based entirely on “interviews” – as well as the legitimacy of the UN itself. (click image to enlarge) 

….

The UN panel for the 2011 report and the more recent 2013 report were co-headed by Karen Koning AbuZayd, a director of the US Washington-based corporate think-tank, Middle East Policy Council. Its board of directors includes Exxon men, CIA agents, representatives of the Saudi Binladin Group (Osama Bin Laden’s family business), former ambassadors to Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, US military and government representatives, and even the president of the US-Qatar Business Council, which includes amongst its membership, AlJazeera, Chevron, Exxon, munitions manufacturer Raytheon (who supplied the opening salvos during NATO’s operations against Libya), and Boeing


Image: Just some of the corporate members of the US-Qatar Business Council, whose president just so happens to sit on the same board of directors of the Middle East Policy Center as Karen AbuZayd, co-author of, now multiple, conveniently timed UN reports on Syria. 

….

In other words, the very underwriters of the armed militancy that is consuming Syria, US, Saudi, Qatari, and Israeli interests, are sitting along side the head of the UN commission producing reports portraying the Syrian government as guilty of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The UN is a diverse organization with both impartial and overtly biased interests busily at work. The utility of the UN’s statements, reports, and investigations must be determined not by the rhetoric that surrounds them, spun either by the Secretary General himself or by media organizations abroad, but rather by whatever solid, verifiable evidence that may be present, if it is indeed even present. The 2011 and 2013 UNHRC reports are throw-away propaganda based solely on biased hearsay. The most recent UN report regarding the August 21, 2013 chemical attacks in Damascus, according to the UN itself, DOES NOT ASSIGN BLAME, but merely confirms that chemical weapons were used – a point that is not contended by either side of the conflict.

This point above all else, must be kept in mind ahead of a predictable barrage of propaganda by faltering Western interests determined to use the UN report to “confirm” their wholly rejected conclusions and prescribed solutions regarding Syria.

Military Times Survey: 75% of Troops Oppose Strikes On Syria

September 14th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Mike Krieger
Liberty Blitzkrieg

It’s always a good sign for an empire’s fortunes when the commander in chief of the armed forces completely loses the confidence and trust of the troops.

While we have all seen various polls demonstrating the general public’s complete opposition to unprovoked military aggression against Syria, I hadn’t seen a survey focused on military members until now. The results are not good for the establishment. From the Military Times:

To the list of skeptics who question the need for air strikes against Syria, add an another unlikely group — many U.S. troops.

“I haven’t heard one single person be supportive of it,” said an Army staff sergeant at Fort Hood who asked not to be identified by name.

A Military Times survey of more than 750 active-duty troops this week found service members oppose military action in Syria by a margin of about three to one.

The survey conducted online Monday and Tuesday found that about 75 percent of troops are not in favor of air strikes in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill civilians in that country.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 11.54.39 AM

A higher percentage of troops, about 80 percent, say they do not believe getting involved in the two-year-old civil war is in the U.S. national interest.

The results suggest that opposition inside the military may be more intense than among the U.S. population at large. About 64 percent of Americans oppose air strikes, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday.

Full article here.

Faking It: How the Media Manipulates the World into War

September 14th, 2013 by James Corbett

This GRTV production by James Corbett was first released in January 2012. In the light of the recent media disinformation campaign in relation to Syria, we bring this carefully researched video-documentary report to the attention of GR readers. 

As the drums of war begin to beat once again in IranSyria, the South China Sea, and other potential hotspots and flashpoints around the globe, concerned citizens are asking how a world so sick of bloodshed and a population so tired of conflict could be led to this spot once again.

To understand this seeming paradox, we must first understand the centuries-long history of how media has been used to whip the nation into wartime frenzy, dehumanize the supposed enemies, and even to manipulate the public into believing in causes for war that, decades later, were admitted to be completely fictitious.

As the US and Iranian governments escalate tensions in the already volatile Straits of Hormuz, and China and Russia begin openly questioning Washington’s interference in their internal politics, the world remains on a knife-edge of military tension. Far from being a dispassionate observer of these developments, however, the media has in fact been central to increasing those tensions and preparing the public to expect a military confrontation. But as the online media rises to displace the traditional forms by which the public forms its understanding of the world, many are now beginning to see first hand how the media lies the public into war.…

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The term “yellow journalism” was coined to describe the type of sensationalistic, scandal-driven, and often erroneous style of reporting popularized by newspapers like William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. In one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon, Hearst’s papers widely trumpeted the sinking of the Maine as the work of the Spanish. Whipped into an anti-Spanish frenzy by a daily torrent of stories depicting Spanish forces’ alleged torture and rape of Cubans, and pushed over the edge by the Maine incident, the public welcomed the beginning of the US-Spanish war. Although it is now widely believed that the explosion on the Maine was due to a fire in one of its coal bunkers, the initial lurid reports of Spanish involvement stuck and the nation was led into war.

In many ways, the phrase infamously attributed to Hearst in reply to his illustrator “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” apocryphal as the story may be, nevertheless perfectly encodes the method by which the public would be led to war time and again through the decades.

The US was drawn into World War I by the sinking of the Lusitania, a British ocean liner carrying American passengers that was torpedoed by German U-boats off the coast of Ireland, killing over 1,000 of its passengers. What the public was not informed about at the time, of course, was that just one week before the incident, then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had written to the President of the Board of Trade that it was “most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hopes especially of embroiling the United States with Germany.” Nor did reports of the attack announce that the ship was carrying rifle ammunition and other military supplies. Instead, reports once again emphasized that the attack was an out-of-the-blue strike by a maniacal enemy, and the public was led into the war.

The US involvement in World War II was likewise the result of deliberate disinformation. Although the Honolulu Advertiser had even predicted the attack on Pearl Harbor days in advance, the Japanese Naval codes had already been decipheredby that time, and that even Henry Stimson, the US Secretary of War, had noted in his diary the week before that he had discussed in a meeting with Roosevelt “how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves,” the public were still led to believe that the Pearl Harbor attack had been completely unforeseen. Just last month, a newly-declassified memo emerged showing that FDR had been warned of an impending Japanese attack on Hawaii just three days before the events at Pearl Harbor, yet the history books still portray Pearl Harbor as an example of a surprise attack.

In August 1964, the public was told that the North Vietnamese had attacked a US Destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin on two separate occasions. The attacks were portrayed as a clear example of “communist aggression” and a resolution was soon passed in Congress authorizing President Johnson to begin deploying US forces in Vietnam. In 2005, an internal NSA study was released concluding that the second attack in fact never took place. In effect, 60000 American servicemen and as many as three million Vietnamese, let alone as many as 500,000 Cambodians and Laotians, lost their lives because of an incident that did not occur anywhere but in the imagination of the Johnson administration and the pages of the American media.

In 1991, the world was introduced to the emotional story of Nayirah, a Kuwaiti girl who testified about the atrocities committed by Iraqi forces in Kuwait.

What the world was never told was that the incident had in fact been the work of a public relations firm, Hill and Knowltown, and the girl had actually been the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Once again, the public was whipped into a frenzy of hatred for the Hussein regime, not for the documented atrocities that it had actually committed on segments of its own population with weapons supplied to them by the United States itself, but on the basis of an imaginary story told to the public via their televisions, orchestrated by a pr firm.

In the lead-up to the war on Iraq, the American media infamously took the lead in framing the debate about the Iraqi government’s weapons of mass destruction NOT as a question of whether or not they even existed, but as a question of where they had been hidden and what should be done to disarm them. The New York Times led the way with Judith Miller‘s now infamous reporting on the Iraqi WMD story, now known to have been based on false information from untrustworthy sources, but the rest of the media fell into line with the NBC Nightly News asking “what precise threat Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction pose to America”, and Time debating whether Hussein was “making a good-faith effort to disarm Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” Reports about chemical weapons stashes were reported on before they were confirmed, although headlines boldly asserted their existence as indisputable fact. We now know that in fact the stockpiles did not exist, and the administration premeditatedly lied the country into yet another war, but the most intense opposition the Bush administration ever received over this documented war crime was some polite correction on the Sunday political talk show circuit.

Remarkably, the public at large has seemingly learned nothing from all of these documented historical manipulations. If anything, the media has become even bolder in its attempts to manipulate the public’s perceptions, perhaps emboldened by the fact that so few in the audience seem willing to question the picture that is being painted for them on the evening news.

Later that year, CNN aired footage of a bombed out Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, falsely labeling it as footage of Gori, which they said had been attacked by the Russians.

In 2009, the BBC showed a cropped image of a rally in Iran which they claimed was a crowd of protesters who assembled to show their opposition to the Iranian government. An uncropped version of the same photograph displayed on the LA Times’ website, however, revealed that the photo in fact came from a rally in support of Ahmedinejad.

In August of 2011, the BBC ran footage of what they claimed was a celebration in Tripoli’s Green Square. When sharp-eyed viewers noticed that the flags in the footage were in fact Indian flags, the BBC was forced to admit that they had “accidentally” broadcast footage from India instead of Tripoli.

Also that month, CNN reported on a story from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming that eight infants in incubators had died in a hospital in Hama when Syrian authorities cut off power in the area. Some news sites evencarried pictures of the infants. The images were later admitted to have been taken in Egypt and no evidence has ever emerged to back up the accusations.

As breathtaking as all of these lies, manipulations and so-called “mistakes” are, they in and of themselves don’t represent the only functions of the media for the war machine. Now, the US government is taking the lead in becoming more and more directly involved with the shaping of the media message on war propaganda, and the general public is becoming even more ensnared in a false picture of the world through the Pentagon’s own lens.

In 2005, the Bush White House admitted to producing videos that were designed to look like news reports from legitimate independent journalists, and then feeding those reports to media outlets as prepackaged material ready to air on the evening news. When the Government Accountability Office ruled that these fake news reports in fact constituted illegal covert propaganda, the White House simply issued a memo declaring the practice to be legal.

In April 2008, the New York Times revealed a secret US Department of Defense program that was launched in 2002 and involved using retired military officers to implant Pentagon talking points in the media. The officers were presented as “independent analysts” on talk shows and news programs, although they had been specially briefed beforehand by the Pentagon. In December of 2011, the DoD’s own Inspector General released a report concluding that the program was in perfect compliance with government policies and regulations.

Earlier this year, it was revealed the the US government had contracted with HBGary Federal to develop software that create fake social media accounts in order to steer public opinion and promote propaganda on popular websites. The federal contract for the software sourced back to the MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

As the vehicle through which information from the outside world is captured, sorted, edited and transmitted into our homes, the mass media has the huge responsibility of shaping and informing our understanding of events to which we don’t have first-hand access. This is an awesome responsibility in even the most ideal conditions, with diligent reporters guided by trustworthy editors doing their level best to report the most important news in the most straightforward way.

But in a media landscape where a handful of companies own virtually all of the print, radio and television media in each nation, the only recourse the public has is to turn away from the mainstream media altogether. And that is precisely what is happening.

As study after study and report after report has shown, the death of the old media has accelerated in recent years, with more and more people abandoning newspapers and now even television as their main source of news. Instead, the public is increasingly turning toward online sources for their news and information, something that is necessarily worrying for the war machine itself, a system that can only truly flourish when the propaganda arm is held under monopolistic control.

But as citizens turn away from the New York Times and toward independent websites, many run and maintained by citizen journalists and amateur editors, the system that has consolidated its control over the minds of the public for generations seems to finally be showing signs that it may not be invincible.

Surely this is not to say that online media is impervious to the defects that have made the traditional media so unreliable. Quite the contrary. But the difference is that online, there is still for the time being relative freedom of choice at the individual level. While internet freedom exists, individual readers and viewers don’t have to take the word of any website or pundit or commentator on any issue. They can check the source documentation themselves, except, perhaps not coincidentally, on the websites of the traditional media bastions, which tend not to link source material and documentation in their articles.

Hence the SOPA ActProtect IP, the US government’s attempts to seize websites at the domain name level, and all of the other concerted attacks we have seen on internet freedoms in recent years.

Because ultimately, an informed and engaged public is far less likely to go along with wars waged for power and profit. And as the public becomes better informed about the very issues that the media has tried to lie to them about for so long, they realize that the answer to all of the mainstream media’s war cheerleading and blatant manipulation is perhaps simpler than we ever suspected: All we have to do is turn them off.

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Prime Suspects: A Real Criminal Investigation of 9/11

September 13th, 2013 by Kevin Ryan

On the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the 9/11 truth movement seems as far away as ever from bringing any of the actual perpetrators of those attacks to justice.

Now, investigators like Kevin Ryan are beginning to piece together the story and identify the prime suspects in any real criminal investigation of September 11th.

Find out more about Kevin Ryan’s research in this week’s GRTV Feature Interview.

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America's War on Terrorism

 

West, Breeding Ground for Terrorism

September 13th, 2013 by Press TV

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

]Today, the war drums are beating again, and this time the target is Syria. “By ordering air strikes against Syria without UN Security Council support, Obama will be doing the same as Bush in 2003,” writes Hans Blix, Swedish diplomat and politician. Blix was the head of United Nations monitoring, verification and inspection commission from March 2000 to June 2003, which searched Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, ultimately finding none.”

“There are two ways to approach the study of terrorism,” notes Noam Chomsky in widely-acclaimed book Western State Terrorism.

“One may adopt a literal approach, taking the topic seriously, or a propagandistic approach, construing the concept of terrorism as a weapon to be exploited in the service of some system of power. It comes as no surprise that the propagandistic approach is adopted by governments generally, and by their instruments in totalitarian states.” Chomsky maintains that there are many terrorist states in the world, but the United States puts its rivals to shame when it comes to perpetuating ‘international terrorism’. A 2010 research undertaken by Professor Marc Sageman of University of Pennsylvania lends credence to what Chomsky says. The research findings establish the fact that terrorism is a product of the West.

 

Syria, more than two years into the foreign-sponsored militancy

Syria, more than two years into the foreign-sponsored militancy

Let’s make no bones about it, the menacing threat of ‘nuclear terrorism’ does not come from some ruthless jihadist cluster, but from the hard-nosed Western nuclear powers who form the core of the NATO alliance, and keeping intimidating and threatening the non nuclear weapon states.

The history of US imperialism is replete with stories of unilateral belligerent military strikes, gory massacres and socio-cultural aggression. In this no-holds-barred brinkmanship, the US and its allies have sought to impose their writ on other nations, more so on those who have refused to swear allegiance to Uncle Sam’s hegemony. The blatant war-mongering and sinister desire to inflict suffering on others is best explained by these words of American writer Andre Vltchek. “West has always behaved as if it had an inherited, but undefined, right to profit from the misery of the rest of the world. In many cases, the conquered nations had to give up their own culture, their religions, even their languages, and convert to our set of beliefs and values that we define as ‘civilized’.

Guatemala Civil War that continued from 1960 to 1996 was bitterly fought between the government of Guatemala and ethnic Mayans, in which the government of Guatemala committed worst human rights abuses and engineered genocide of Mayan population of Guatemala. Historical Clarification Commission set up under the Oslo Accords of 1994 concluded that the Guatemala military committed murder, torture and rape with the tacit support of CIA. The commission stated the “government of the United States, through various agencies including the CIA, provided direct and indirect support for some state operations.” Noam Chomsky in his book What Uncle Sam Really Wants writes, “Under Reagan, support for near-genocide in Guatemala became positively ecstatic. The most extreme of the Guatemalan Hitlers we’ve backed there, Rios Montt, was lauded by Reagan as a man totally dedicated to democracy. In the early 1980s, Washington’s friends slaughtered tens of thousands of Guatemalans, mostly Indians in the highlands, with countless others tortured and raped. Large regions were decimated.”

Direct or indirect support for death squads has been an integral part of CIA operations. CIA’s death squad operations in Vietnam led to killing of over 35,000 people. The Vietnam War dominated 30 long years of Vietnam’s history from 1940s to 1970s. President Ford, reacting to Senate and House committee reports, conceded that the CIA had become a ‘rogue elephant’ crushing foreign citizens under foot in its bid to win the Cold War. More than 20,000 Vietnamese were killed during the CIA-guided Operation Phoenix intended to weed out communist ‘agents’ from South Vietnam.

American role in the violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Popular Unity government of Salvador in 1980s was a watershed moment for the country. Bush family loyalists maintain that President Bush senior’s policies paved the way for peace, turning Salvador into a democratic success story. However, it took more than 70,000 deaths and grave human rights violations, before peace was brokered. To crush the rebels, the US trained an army that kidnapped and killed more than 30,000 people, and presided over large-scale massacre of old, women and children.

In the mid-1970s, a major scandal broke out after revelations that President Richard Nixon had ordered the CIA to ‘make the economy scream’ in Chile and to prevent Allende from coming to power. Years later, CIA acknowledged its deep involvement in Chile where it dealt with coup-plotters, false propagandists and assassins. In a review of Lubna Qureshi’s book Nixon, Kissinger, and Allende: US Involvement in the 1973 Coup in Chile, Howard Doughty writes, “The United States and its allies have an unseemly history of hostility to democracy abroad that seems to conflict with their expressed political principles and their stated purpose in engaging in military and diplomatic action abroad. Not only in Latin America, but in Africa, Asia and occasionally in Europe, it has openly and clandestinely supported dictatorships.”

The US government’s cozy relationship with its illegitimate offspring Israel is no secret. It has paid Israel almost one hundred billion dollars over the years, major part of which is used for occupying Palestinian territories, in blatant breach of international laws and umpteen UN resolutions. Veteran Middle East reporter Robert Fisk draws parallels between Israel and apartheid regime of South Africa. “No matter how many youths are shot dead by the Israelis, no matter how many murders and no matter how bloody the reputation of the Israeli Prime Minister, we are reporting this terrible conflict as if we supported the South African whites against the blacks.”

Likewise, Columbia, arguably one of the most violent countries in the world, is the beneficiary of massive US aid. Some political observers like Professor John Barry are of the opinion that US influence has only managed to catalyze internal conflicts and substantially expand the scope and nature of human rights abuses in Colombia. And ironically, most American people remain naïve about the shady role of their country in Colombia’s historical development and the unremitting violence.

In Cuba, America’s record is again appalling. It has been involved in attempted assassinations of state heads, bombings, military invasions, crippling sanctions et al. And, recent reports suggest that the US government’s covert attack on Cuba’s sovereignty continues unabated. Even after half a century, economic blockade remains in force. The country has been designated a ‘terrorist state’, figuring prominently on the State Department’s list of ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’. The five Cuban political prisoners are still behind bars. Now a report from the US General Accounting Office reveals that money is being pumped into projects directed at changing Cuba’s government.

Washington’s support for the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua between 1981 and 1990 is one of the most shocking and shameful secrets. The heinous terrorist activities contras engaged in had full backing of their masters in Washington. “The decision of the International Court of Justice in June 1986 condemning the United States for the ‘unlawful use of force’ and illegal economic warfare was dismissed as an irrelevant pronouncement by a ‘hostile forum’,” notes Noam Chomsky in Western State Terrorism. “The guiding principle, it appears, is that the US is a lawless terrorist state and this is right and just, whatever the world may think, whatever international institutions may declare.”

On March 8, 1985, in an assassination bid on Sheikh Mohammed Fazlullah by CIA, a powerful car bomb exploded outside a Beirut mosque in Lebanon, leaving 81 civilians dead. Celebrated investigative reporter Bob Woodward says that CIA director William Casey had admitted personal culpability in the attack while he lay on his deathbed, which he said was carried out with funding from Saudi Arabia. In December 1989, almost 27,000 US soldiers invaded a small Central American country of Panama to arrest General Manuel Noriega, a CIA asset-turned-rebel. In the ‘Operation Just Cause’, bombs rained down on three neighborhoods – Colon, San Miguelito and El Chorrillo. El Chorrillo was burnt to the ground and got a new nickname – ‘Little Hiroshima’. As per conservative estimates, between 2,000 and 6,000 people were killed in the events that unfolded. Many of them were dumped into mass graves.

Congo has been through violent times since its independence. Many observers trace it to the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of independent Congo, which was apparently done at the behest by the then U.S. President Eisenhower. In Haiti, the U.S. backed the Duvalier family dictatorship for 30 years, during which the CIA worked closely with death squads, executioners, and drug traffickers. The father-son duo’s three decades at helm was marked by brutally crushing dissent with the assistance of secret police and the Haitian army. Thousands were killed and tortured – many of them dumped in mass graves. Hundreds of thousands fled the country to escape from mindless violence.

The 1983 invasion of Grenada was the first major American military assault since Vietnam War. The news was blocked as the US government didn’t want the world to witness the great superpower bashing up a small island nation. Why did the United States invade Grenada? “Many believe that Grenada was seen as a bad example for other poor Caribbean states,” opines Stephen Zunes, author of Tinderbox: US Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism. “Its foreign policy was not subservient to the American government and it was not open to having its economy dominated by U.S. corporate interests.”

In Greece, America supported a coup against an elected leader George Papandreou, which followed the years of murder, torture, and fear in the late 1960s. In Cambodia, the US resorted to carpet bombing to overthrow President Prince Sihanouk, who was replaced by Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge and that led to millions of civilian casualties between mid 1950s and 1970s. In 1965, which New York Times called ‘one of the most savage mass slayings of modern political history’, US embassy had compiled lists of ‘Communist’ operatives in Indonesia, from top echelons down to village cadres, as many as 5,000 names, and handed them over to the army, which then hunted them down and killed.

Between 1946 and 1958, the US used the Marshall Islands to conduct nuclear tests. All the inhabitants had to flee their homes. It is still not safe to consume food grown there. In the words of Robert Alvarez, “the people of the Marshall Islands had their homeland and health sacrificed for the national security interests of the United States”. The nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 remain the darkest chapter of history. Almost 150,000 people paid for their lives instantly, while millions more died of radiation poisoning later. Truman ordered the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, followed by a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki on August 9. The same day, the Soviet Union attacked the Japanese and, in the following two weeks 84,000 Japanese were killed.

Back in 1953, a joint British-American operation toppled the democratic government chosen by the Iranian parliament, and installed their loyal dictator. The coup restored the Shah to absolute power, initiating a period of 25 years of repression and torture, while the oil industry was restored to foreign ownership, with the US and Britain each getting 40 percent. That was before Ayatullah Khomeini mobilized masses and threw out the Western puppet.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor of international law, in an article written in November 2001 maintained that the bombings of Afghanistan by the United States were illegal. His argument was based on the premise that, according to UN Charter, disputes have to be brought to the UN Security Council, which alone may authorize the use of force. Also, if your nation has been subjected to an armed attack by another nation, you may respond militarily in self-defense. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Indeed, the 19 men charged with the crime were not Afghans. Twelve years down the line, the foreign military troops are still stationed in Afghanistan, hundreds of billion dollars have been spent, and at least 31,000 people in Afghanistan (civilians, insurgents, Afghan military forces, and others) have been killed in the war.

The myth of the “outside enemy” and the threat of “Islamic terrorists” was the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s military doctrine, used as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, writes Michel Chossudovsky, author of The Globalisation of Poverty. More than a decade after US invaded Iraq, it’s still not clear why they did it. But it’s a fact, even acknowledged by the western media, that the war for Iraq was a war for oil. “Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms,” reads a CNN report

There is this concept of ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism’. For the US and its closest ally Israel, the Tunis bombing was not an act of terror but justifiable retaliation for the murder of three Israelis in Cyprus. The 1985 Iron Fist operation of the Israeli army in southern Lebanon was also guided by the same logic. “From 1945 to the end of the 20th century, the USA attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the USA caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair,” writes William Blum in his book Rogue State. It will not qualify as ‘terrorism’ because the perpetrator is the world’s only super-power. In a 1986 interview, Noam Chomsky argued that the word “terrorism” had been redefined in political and popular discourse to only refer to the violent acts of small or marginal groups – what he refers to as “retail terrorism”. This is in contrast with violent acts performed by the State in its own interest which orthodox terrorism studies often exclude from consideration.

The political leaders and scholars in Muslim countries have to muster courage to condemn the so-called ‘good’ terrorism spearheaded by US and its allies like Britain, Israel, France. On May 09 this year, Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani took the lead, blaming the West for spreading terrorism across Asia, and warning that the policy will ultimately backfire. “This evil phenomenon is the gift of the West to the region, but nurturing terrorist and extremist groups is bad and worrying even for the future of Western countries, notably the United States,” said Larijani.

Today, the war drums are beating again, and this time the target is Syria. “By ordering air strikes against Syria without UN Security Council support, Obama will be doing the same as Bush in 2003,” writes Hans Blix, Swedish diplomat and politician. Blix was the head of United Nations monitoring, verification and inspection commission from March 2000 to June 2003, which searched Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, ultimately finding none.

President Obama and Kerry look adamant even though there is no favorable international climate for a Syria strike. Arab League has refused to support the call for military intervention. Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and some other Arab countries forthrightly have also denounced the idea. NATO has also expressed reluctance in supporting the strike, citing past experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If the US still goes ahead and launches the military strike against Syria, Iran and Russia will also get into the act and so will Hezbollah, and that will lead to disastrous consequences for peace in the Middle East. But does Obama care? You know the answer.

El director del Centro de Investigación sobre la Mundialización, Michel Chossudovsky analizó el papel actual de EE.UU. y sus aliados en el conflicto en Siria.

El analista internacional, Michel Chossudovsky cree que pese al esfuerzo diplomático internacional, EE.UU. no abandonará su proyecto de realizar una intervención militar en Siria.

EEUU sólo postergó su eventual ataque militar contra Siria

..

Today’s Most Popular Articles on Global Research

September 13th, 2013 by Global Research News

Rebel Capabilities and the Damascus Chemical Attacks

September 13th, 2013 by Adam Larson

The Ghouta Gas Attack: Cui Bono (Who Benefits)?

Despite recent maneuvers to ease the danger, the world stands entirely too close to a disastrous conflict to remove the sovereign government of Syria (aka Bashar al-Assad). Like the campaign against Iraq (aka Saddam Hussein) a decade ago, this Western-driven program is over WMD allegations.

The charges of course are that “Assad” killed perhaps 1,300 of his citizens with Sarin gas, in several contested cities of the Ghouta region surrounding Damascus, on August 21. Hundreds of civilian victims, including dozens of children and babies, were shown dead on videos; they were not shot or stabbed like usual for that medium, visually appearing to be killed by poison or perhaps suffocation. Activists describe the gas differently but agree it was delivered a series of pre-dawn rocket attacks from government-held areas.

 This was done, allegedly, to finally drive the rebels out of Ghouta, but it’s not usually explained why that method and time were chosen. Because of this alleged crime, the increasingly harassed, demonized, and isolated nation is threatened with Cruise missiles and perhaps months or years of deadly force to follow.

As if to make a point, whoever chose the time made it exactly* one year after U.S. President Barack Obama (aka not Bush) first promised that an event like this – even remotely like or hinting at this – would cross a “red line,” which would force him and the U.S. military to respond somehow.* (Aug. 20, 2012 compared to around 2-3 AM Aug. 21, 2013: adjusted for time zones, that’s one year and a few hours – the exact times are unsure) [1]

 Oddly, this also came not three days after the elusive United Nations CW investigation team finally arrived in Damascus. [2] They were first invited by the Syrian government in March after a rebel gas attack on their forces in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo (an incident we will return to), and so for the first time in the conflict, they were on hand to find and expose any signs of this alleged Sarin deployment the other way. (The attacks in areas all around them would also, obviously, distract the team, who never did get to Aleppo as hoped)

 From this vantage point, it’s not hard to see who stood to lose and to benefit from the chemical attack. Everyone can see the government had to be stupid or suicidal to willingly do just that, just there, and at that time. Explanations bandied about include that it was a rogue officer issuing the insane order, or it was approved but someone miscalculated – on a massive scale. An unnamed analyst said to Foreign Policy magazine’s The Cable “we don’t know exactly why it happened … we just know it was pretty fucking stupid” and, presuming imminent air strikes, “they get what they deserve.”  [3]

 Conversely, it would be to the utmost benefit for the extremist rebel cause in Syria and the region to have “Assad” do – or be blamed for – such a thing. As Rusia’s Foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich suggested, it might be a “pre-planned provocation” timed with the arrival of the UN team. [4]

 Each breathtaking massacre of civilians over the years of this horrible conflict has been sold, by opposition “activists,” as a reason to finally be given a Libya-style NATO Air Force. But Syria’s air defenses remain and so the lobbying efforts continue, dead baby videos and all. This chemical massacre, with an alleged 400+ children killed, is the largest in a long line. Seeming tailor made to be the champion crime all the others failed to be, it’s either the perfect gift from the regime to its hostile opponents, or a custom sewn false flag event of great audacity.

 Claim: Rebels Wouldn’t be Capable

So motive argues for the Russian/Syrian theory, but the opposition’s powerful supporters have found little problem so far overriding this obvious problem.

 Absent that lever, those seeking to blame the government could try convincing us with smoking-gun evidence. But so far only vague descriptions of alleged intercepted calls have been presented, and even if genuine, these best-sounding signs they could find might be taken out of context. [5]

 They could try arguing that compared to “Assad” the butcher of children, the freedom fighters are morally incapable of poisoning innocents (or even Alawites, people of Assad’s religion). But that wouldn’t be convincing anymore, with the brutal and deceptive al Qaeda and their Takfiri ilk so firmly and famously in place, and such a clear motive set up for them to try such a thing. 

 Instead, Western leaders have preferred to dash across those gaps in the case and mainly argue that – however much they might like to – rebels simply could not have done something on this scale. The US intelligence assessment called the rebel attack scenario “highly unlikely,” based partly on “the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition.” [6] Its British sister report said “it is not possible for the opposition to have carried out a CW attack on this scale.” [7] It’s a simple process of deduction for the Anglo-American elites; rebels couldn’t possibly have done it, so the Syrian government must be guilty. As William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, said “I think the chances of [a rebel attack] are vanishingly small and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.” [8] That irrefutable logic plus the alleged proofs and, again, shows of “confidence,” do have some portion of the public unduly swayed to the less logical option. A confidence job (short: a con) is designed to deceive in just this way.

The problem that must now be clearly stated is that we, the global public, really do not know what happened and thus what capabilities are required to have done it. We can’t be sure of the true scale, the agent(s) or delivery system, where it even happened, or who the dead really are. It was opposition claims that described the event as something beyond their capabilities, with reports of rockets fired en masse from a government held missile base. But the opposition has always been active on the deception front as well as overrunning government missile bases. And the picture they’ve left us with here is not only less than clear, but less clear than normal by the murky standards of this information war.

 First, it must be noted that if it’s ever proven that these chemicals were delivered by actual rockets, that would be general opposition capabilities. Rebels have been firing countless short and mid-range rockets all over Syria for over a year. Many of them are smuggled in or stolen from military stores. Others are custom-built inside Syria, with unusual specifications and ranges sometimes in the tens of kilometers. There are strong and credible allegations that at least one of these carrying a toxic gas payload was the weapon used on Khan al-Assal, Aleppo. [9]

 But even that basic is open to question while the evidence remains unclear. Some impact sites were shown, of an improvised rocket that almost looks rebel but apparently is used by the Syrian military. [10] But these strikes could be weeks old and unrelated to any chemical weapon, for all we can really tell (the U.N. investigators took samples from at least one site, and we shall see what they say about that).

 Questions – some cogent and some confused – have been widely raised already in the public sphere about the alleged death toll and various gaps in the record. For example, there very, very few on site videos of where victims were found; they mostly just appear at hospitals and morgues out of nowhere. Relatively few of the visible dead show clear signs of anything, and some signs – like strangely-white foam from the mouth only – are all too easy to fake.

 Pathologist Dennis O’Brien raised some of these questions while alerting the U.S. congress, in an open letter of Sept. 9, about his close study of the victims. Challenging the White House claim that Sarin was the agent used, he pointed out that while myosis (pinpoint pupils, easy to replicate with light or other drugs) does appear, other symptoms – like cyanosis (blue extremities) and mass defecation and vomiting – appear little if at all, when they should be widely seen among the hundreds of bodies shown. [11] Therefore, the video record works against the Sarin claim; generally anyway, it must have been something else, perhaps mixed with some ratio of fakery.

 The huge and emotive death tolls being pushed – 1,429, as the United States belligerently decided – still haven’t been explained. Even at a more plausible 5-700 and spread over ten cities, these are dramatic results, when previous attacks with the standard Syrian CW (unknown but allegedly Sarin, usually) have killed between zero and 30 people each. For comparison, the Tokyo subway Sarin attack, in an enclosed space, killed about 30. Here in towns (not enclosed), Hamouriya is reported to have collected about 300 victims, and Zamalka 400 (with other suburbs adding 100 or less each). [12]

This almost seems, in spots, like gas chamber efficiency. And there’s a chilling thought worth freezing on: confinement, captivity, war. There are Syrian people the multinational rebel forces hate, and an unknown number are held across Syria at any given time.

 That number would have been much higher than usual in late August. On August 1 and after a reported 200 Kurdish civilians were taken around the Turkish border-crossing town of Tal Abyad and the Aleppo area, with further abductions following and an unclear number simply massacred, as part of a renewed rebel offensive there (after Kurds closed their previous crossing from Turkey, in Ras al-Ain. [13] Further, some 105-150 or 200+ Alawi (Alawite) women and children were abducted from a dozen towns conquered in central Latakia. That was on August 4 and after, in a much-heralded thrust which also saw at least some 200 locals massacred on sectarian grounds by largely-foreign Islamists. [14] Some or all of these hostages were taken, rebels said, to exchange for other prisoners. But an attempted exchange for a NATO Air Force might also seem well worth a try.

The larger the death toll, the higher the chance this was a mass-culling of hostages; those mentioned, other non-Sunnis or government loyalists of any sect, gassed in some basement holding cell. Dozens could be killed in a single room, hundreds between a few rooms collaborating. There’s nothing disproving such a possibility, and some evidence in support, to which I now turn.

 Established Capabilities: Basements, Captives, and Smoke

Consider one possible clue from the impassioned and possibly fake testimony of a rebel doctor in the Damascus suburb of Jobar, at dawn after the attack. Strangely, he placed the attack with “massive” deaths (at least 50 children he personally handled) only there and Ein Tarma downwind; reports right after that don’t even mention Jobar among the many areas hit. [15] He also stated that enclosed spaces were a big part of the high death toll there; without specifying which heavier-than-air gas was involved, he says it spread out and sunk down into basements, where foolish citizens had tried to hide (see 3:45).

Others have said the same thing, but he adds that they also voluntarily started fires inside on a wide scale, in August, leading to “undesired consequences.” Even worse were those who just had to burn tires in their scant air; “burning tires … added insult to injury.” He suggests an education campaign to counter “the ignorance of some people.” [15]

 It’s not certain why the Jobar doctor chose to publish these alleged details, but it could be a fact he hoped to explain away, one that would actually suggest someone else was setting up the victims’ deadly living conditions. At the risk of reading too much into that modified allegation, please consider these related capabilities previously illustrated, in research done by the author and collaborators at the research wiki A Closer Look On Syria (ACLOS).

The Damascus suburb of Daraya was spared alleged gassing on the 21st (being nearly a ghost town by now), but had a record-breaking massacre reported one year earlier. It was claimed that over 600 civilians were killed between August 24 and 27, 2012, in the days of a government re-conquest of the rebel-held city. Civilians spoke afterwards of mass hostage-taking by the rebels during their reign, and some freed from various improvised prisons, some in basements, claimed they had been forced there – to protect them from a government massacre, rebels told them. Over the following days, opposition-filmed videos leaked out showing people massacred in basements, as if by the conquering soldiers, but with rebel cameras close behind. It made little sense as explained, but more if the videos were taken before the rebel withdrawal, and simply delayed in their release. [16]

What made even less sense was the initial opposition story meant to start an Alawi uprising, as “regime” forces captured and killed 125-235 Alawi civilians – including children, women, and the elderly – in Aqrab, Hama, on December 10, 2012. In fact, the best evidence shows the exact story the Sunni extremist rebels told is impossible, and that only they were placed to kill the captives, after seizing them – about 500 at one point – from their homes in a pogrom of December 2 and after. It’s not clear how many were killed, but one probable victim among a few glimpsed is a six-year-old girl with her skull hacked open and brain missing. [17] That young victim and some who survived in rebel custody (they blamed “Shabiha” on rebel video) had faces and hands covered in smoke stains. Survivors on their own spoke of rebels denying food and water and burning tires inside the house they were stuffed into. When survivors pointed to the house for Channel 4’s cameras, smoke was coming out of it, and seemingly had been for a while. [18]

 And in Jobar and East Ghouta, we hear that people wound up breathing rubber smoke in basements when the regime killed them with heavy gas. Smoke stains do not seem to appear on the visible victims of Ghouta, but unlike the Aqrab captives, these generally were washed down before shown. Ostensibly this was to clear the Sarin residue, but perhaps it was to clean the smoke off, knowing that it was noticed before and is being watched for.

Established Capabilities: Chemicals

As for weaponized chemicals, there are numerous allegations of anti-government groups holding and using them. Many of these charges are credible, and it’s hard to imagine all of them are incorrect, even if some of them surely are.

The al-Qaeda offshoot Al-Nusra Front stole 400 tons of liquid chlorine from an Aleppo-area factory in 2012, for example. [19] They and others have been receiving different toxic chemicals from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and elsewhere. Hundreds of barrels were uncovered on a rebel-held farm near Baniyas in July. [20] Some were found in the maybe-gassed Jobar on August 24, three days after the attacks under study. [21]

As for the proper and fully illegal chemical weapons like Sarin, a dozen Al-Nusra members were famously busted in Turkey in late May with, reportedly, a substantial 2 kg of the stuff. [22] The exact chemical was since denied by rebel-supporting Turkish authorities, but an alleged U.S. military intelligence report, obtained by World Net Daily, claims that it was “bench-scale” Sarin, produced in Iraq by AQI and shipped via Turkey to its affiliates. [23] Iraqi authorities claimed on June 2 to have busted the makers of the Sarin, for export and for domestic use against Shia (Shi’ites). They showed the equipment and five men they seized. Hardly anyone noticed. [24]

 Both chlorine and Sarin appear in the reported evidence of the Khan al-Assal rocket attack mentioned above. Locals at the time reported a chlorine smell and Syrian authorities suspected chlorine and saline, while Russian scientists later said there was a small amount of Sarin present. Full details remain unclear at the moment.

 But chemical-equipped projectiles are still widely thought outside rebel skill sets, and it’s likely irrelevant here anyway. To eliminate human beings considered less than that, crammed into a house-prison, more close-quarters delivery systems would be needed.

An unusual white plastic grenade has been fascinatingly traced by blogger Eliot Higgins (aka Brown Moses) after it turned up as a culprit at two April chemical attacks in the north (that is, near Turkey). Both attacks were blamed on regime helicopters, but hand-sized grenades (gas-emitting, not explosive) were shown. These were unidentifiable to all experts consulted, but one other sample was found – at about the same time and place, on the chest of an al-Nusra Front member [25] Usually a device like that would contain a riot control agent and sold to police forces (notably in Turkey), but it might be misused to deadly effect or modified to deliver chlorine vapor or worse.

Even simpler methods like a hand-held sprayer and plastic jug might do the trick for some fatal potions. None of this seems out of the reach of a dedicated and well-supplied terrorist organization like the hundreds that now plague Syria as they have Iraq before. The key innovations would be hate, will, and shelter/enclosure. Note that the opposition activists have shown few if any of the Ghouta attack sites/crime scenes, before or after the dead were just found there. There must be some reason they consistently left out that part; perhaps they know how bad a squalid, smoke-stained basement would look.

In Closing: Room for Questions

Obama and his fellow confidence artists assure us there’s no room for doubt over the fact of regime guilt for the Sarin attack, but they have to confidently speak this into existence partly because it’s not true. There is as much room for doubt as there actually is. It might be a smoke-stained room big enough to hold all the victims of these unsolved murders. The questions are not all answered – rather, virtually none of them are.

Neutral and scientific study might be worth a try here, but it seems unlikely. Unknown hundreds of bodies are buried wherever, with no certainty which ones are which. In a system run by the possible murderers, the names provided for victims could be fake for all we know. Any few victims might have been tainted with Sarin and used as stand-ins for the rest (the one who can be seen on video to not be Sarin victims). The list of relevant unknowns could go on for pages.

However, some specific case-by-case assessment is possible already. One batch of at least nine bodies showing extreme signs of chemical exposure, mostly young children, were collected in a morgue said to be in Kafr Batna. From high-resolution photos, they clearly exude real mucous from their noses and mouths, with skin extremely reddened like horrible sunburn. Neither of those is consistent with Sarin, but all could be explained by, for example, a heavy spray of liquid chlorine in a closed room. The skin burning is consistently from the victims’ backsides – it hit them from behind. [26]

 Observing this, it’s not hard to visualize those people turning their backs and curling up into the futile position, as the gas-masked jihadist with rubber gloves and a sprayer stepped into the room. It’s hard to get that image out of your mind once it’s there and you’ve seen those victims. And this is good – it’s probably closer to the truth than the painting that’s propelled us towards war on behalf of those jihadists.

There are growing but unsupported claims that Alawi hostages, mostly children, were the real victims of the chemical massacre, some of them having been recognized by family members in activist videos. [27] In this narrative, the victims were those mentioned above from Latakia. They would presumably have been gassed in the north, the videos just laundered (stamped and uploaded) by Damascus brigade allies.

This theory was repeated on UK Sky News by Bouthaina Shaaban, an advisor of president Assad’s, who doesn’t sound like she has any deeper direct knowledge. [28] This specific theory or allegation remains possible, but rather questionable; it hasn’t yet been explained with any details, but perhaps for good reason. There are problems with the presumptions of those arguing for it, like the absence of parents for the dead children. Something like that is not clear without careful study and correlation of numerous visual sources, if then; children especially are often shown together apart from the rest for certain displays. It’s never proof that the other portions of these families aren’t in the next room. The crucial claim is that identifications have been made, but these can be simply rumored or fabricated, real but erred (based on low-quality video and emotion) or real and true. Time may tell which it is here.

 Syria’s government, media, and public launched a notable media offensive within a week of the May 2012 “Houla massacre” of 108, including 49 children. Even with some notable support by credible voices outside Syria, that was overruled by the “world community” in favor of the rebel story, as usual. But by now the most detailed research, by the author and ACLOS, has confirmed what many alleged witnesses said – rebel brigades overran the town and then committed the massacres themselves. The rebels’ own video record, read carefully, is one of the stronger supports for that. [29]

 Nearly a month after Ghouta, the information counter-offensive by Syria itself is markedly lacking. Perhaps they’re straining to keep up and make sense of it all, and this may change at any time with some release of information. But even then and as it stands, there are too many standing questions.

 Many people on all levels around the world are working on that based on what they know and can see, and this is encouraging Those interested in furthering the public investigation should join ACLOS or something comparable – that is, team up – and add their voices to the under-tapped power of collective sanity. [30]

 Notes

[1] CNN, August 21, 2012: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/20/world/meast/syria-unrest/index.html

[2] http://uk.news.yahoo.com/un-chemical-weapons-inspectors-arrive-damascus-115215732.html#cnMisML

[3] “Exclusive: Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say.” By Noah Shachtman, Foreign Policy magazine, the Cable, August 28, 2013. http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/27/exclusive_us_spies_say_intercepted_calls_prove_syrias_army_used_nerve_gas

[4] Chemical warhead targeted eastern suburbs of Syria’s Damascus – Russian Foreign Ministry, Voice Of Russia, August 21, 2013. http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_21/Chemical-warhead-was-launched-from-eastern-suburbs-of-Syrias-Damascus-Russian-Foreign-Ministry-0718/

[5] ACLOS, Proof of Government Guilt (numerous phone calls alleged) http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013/Proof_of_government_guilt

[6] READ: U.S. Intelligence Assessment On Syria. Talking Points Memo, August 30, 2013 http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/us-syrian-chemical-attack-killed-1-429-including

[7] “Syria: Reported chemical weapons use” UK Joint Intelligence Organization, August 29, 2013. PDF link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/235094/Jp_115_JD_PM_Syria_Reported_Chemical_Weapon_Use_with_annex.pdf

[8] http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/obama-syrian-gas-attack-claims-big-event-grave-concern-article-1.1435088#ixzz2crMJSeRl

[9] ACLOS, alleged chemical attack, March 19, 2013: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Alleged_chemical_attack,_March_19,_2013

[10] Brown Moses blog: http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-smoking-gun-video-shows-assads.html

[11] Denis O’Brien: “Lack of Pharmacological Proof of a Sarin Attack at Damascus: An Open Letter to Congress.” Sep09.2013. http://logophere.com/LogoPhere%20Docs/Ltr%20to%20Congress.pdf

[12] ACLOS, Death toll reports by city, 400 missing in Zamalka:  http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013/Victims_Analysis#Death_Toll_Reports.2C_by_City

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013#400_Zamalka_victims_missing.3F

[13 ] “200 Syrian Kurds still in the hands of armed Arab-Islamic Jihadist groups, 56 Jihadists killed.” Firat News/E-Kurd.net, August 8, 2013. http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2013/8/syriakurd840.htm

[14] ACLOS, Latakia Massacres, civilian captives, Ghouta connection?: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Latakia_Massacres

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Latakia_Massacres#Civilian_Captives

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Latakia_Massacres#Ghouta_CW_massacre_connection.3F

[15] Statement from Jobar Medical Point, Youtube video, English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoCT81NcDnc

[16] ACLOS, Daraya Massacre, hostages, basement victims: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Daraya_massacre#.22Shelter.22_Captives_and_Basement_Victims

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Daraya_massacre#Hostages

[17] On the Fringes of the Aqrab Massacre: Visible Victims (by the author), August 13, 2013. http://ciwclibya.org/syria/aqrabvisiblevictims.html

[18] ACLOS, Aqrab Massacre, smoke clues: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Aqrab_Massacre#The_Hostage_House_and_Smoke_Clues

[19] Syria’s Civil War: The Mystery Behind a Deadly Chemical Attack By Aryn Baker, Time, April 1, 2013 http://world.time.com/2013/04/01/syrias-civil-war-the-mystery-behind-a-deadly-chemical-attack/?iid=gs-main-lead

[20] ACLOS, Baniyas Massacre, talk, chemical genocide planned? http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Baniyas_massacre#Baniyas_Chemical_Genocide_Planned.3F

[21] ACLOS, Jobar, chemical factory busted? http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013/Locations/Jobar#Rebel_CW_Factory_Busted.3F

[22] ACLOS, Al-Nusra’s 2 kg of sarin: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Category_talk:Chemical_Weapons#Al-Nusra.27s_2_Kg_of_Sarin

[23] “U.S. Military Confirms Rebels Had Sarin.” F. Michael Maloof, World Net Daily, September 12, 2013. http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/u-s-military-confirms-rebels-had-sarin/

[24] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/06/20136117362322130.html

[25] ACLOS: Al-Nusra Plastic Grenades: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Category_talk:Chemical_Weapons#Al-Nusra_Plastic_Grenades

[26] ACLOS, burned from behind: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013/Victims_Analysis#Symptoms_Analysis_1:_Burned_from_Behind

[27] http://www.voltairenet.org/article179900.html

[28] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUJg9DFP5-k

[29] “Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real Truth” (by the author) Global Research, May 18, 2013:  http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-one-year-after-the-houla-massacre-new-report-on-official-vs-real-truth/5335562

[30] ACLOS: Alleged Chemical Attack, Aug 21 – Talk Page: Sign up and join the discussion. http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013

Until recently, Syria was a safe-haven for Christians.

The New York Times notes:

As secular leaders from the secretive Alawite sect, the Assad dynasty largely preserved Christian life, protecting Syria’s minorities from what was perceived as a collective threat from the country’s Sunni majority.

Watching their once-shielding dictators fall like dominos across the region, Christians have suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of history. Faced by a rising tide of radical Sunni Islam, Christians in Iraq and Egypt have fled by the thousands. In Syria, concern over Christian repression has fallen on deaf ears, drowned out by popular support for the country’s opposition in the face of the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown.

BBC points out:

Syria has for much of the century had a sizeable Christian minority, making up at least 10% of the population.

***

In recent years Syria has been considered one of the easier Middle Eastern countries for Christians to live in. Power is concentrated in the hands of the Alawite minority – a Shia sect considered heretical by many Muslims – which has clamped down hard on extreme forms of Islam.

But that’s all changed since Al Qaeda terrorists started targeting Christians in Syria more than a year ago.

Agence France-Presse reports:

Jihadists who overran Syria’s ancient town of Maalula last week disparaged Christians as “Crusaders” and forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint, say residents who fled the town.

***

“They arrived in our town at dawn… and shouted ‘We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders,” an Islamist term for Christians ….

***

Maalula is one of the most renowned Christian towns in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

***

“I saw people wearing Al-Nusra headbands who started shooting at crosses,” said Nasrallah, a Christian.

One of them “put a pistol to the head of my neighbour and forced him to convert to Islam by obliging him to repeat ‘there is no God but God’.”

“Afterwards they joked, ‘he’s one of ours now’.”

***

Another resident, Rasha, recounted how the jihadists had seized her fiance Atef, who belonged to the town’s militia, and brutally murdered him.

“I rang his mobile phone and one of them answered,” she said.

“Good morning, Rashrush,” a voice answered, using her nickname. “We are from the Free Syrian Army. Do you know your fiance was a member of the shabiha (pro-regime militia) who was carrying weapons, and we have slit his throat.”

The man told her Atef had been given the option of converting to Islam, but had refused.

“Jesus didn’t come to save him,” he taunted.

Daily Mail writes:

Another Christian resident said: ‘I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, “Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded”.’

Another said one church had been torched, and gunmen stormed into two other churches and robbed them.

The Christian Science Monitor notes:

Anas, their son, says he got threatening messages back in Syria: “Your money is for us to take, your wife is for us to sleep with, and your children are for killing. This is all halal,” or permissible under Islamic law. He escaped with his wife and children to Jordan, but not before his liquor store had been burned down.

WND reports:

The Christian residents were offered four choices: 1. renounce the ‘idolatry’ of Christianity and convert to Islam; 2. pay a heavy tribute to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith (this tribute is known as jizya); 3. be killed; 4. flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.”

The Washington Times reported in June:

A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy… The reported beheading of the two Christians comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week.”

Most of the Syrian “rebels” are Al Qaeda.  As NBC News reports, Al Qaeda is gaining more and more power among the rebels.

And the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel  have been backing these guys for years.  Indeed, we’ve long known that most of the weapons we’re shipping to Syria are ending up in the hands of Al Qaeda. And they apparently have chemical weapons.

Congressman Amish points out that the U.S. is breaking the law by aiding and abetting a designated terrorist group.

Indeed, Obama’s own top lawyers warned him that arming the rebels would be illegal.

Ironically, Obama has just renewed the Declaration of a State of Emergency for America first started by Bush in September 2001.  That declaration of emergency is supposed to be about fighting – you know – Al Qaeda.

But the U.S. has long wanted regime change in Syria … and long backed the most violent terrorists in the world for geopolitical reasons.

Help Kickstart World War III!

September 13th, 2013 by Global Research News

The US has ramped up its efforts to convince the world that attacking Syria is the only “humanitarian” course of action in the region. Those who pause to give this absurd and dangerous premise any consideration realize immediately that “helping” people by bombing them is nonsensical and ill-advised at best, and vicious  and illegal at worst.

Are we really ready to start World War III based on lies and media manipulation?

The following is a satirical sketch highlighting America’s ongoing push towards militarization and shows through irony how the world’s greatest warmonger tries to present itself as a harbinger of peace.

“President Obama needs your help starting World War III! Find out how you can help!”

Written by John Loos
Starring Brianna Baker, Neal Dandade, Greg Ott and Niccole Thurman.
Directed and Produced by Jeph Porter | Sound Jason Culver | Production Coordinator Joel Labahn | Hair/Makeup Chloe Hector

Putin Challenges Obama Responsibly

September 13th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Russia’s going all out to avoid war on Syria. Vladimir Putin, Sergei Lavrov and other top officials are doing so responsibly.

On September 11, Putin addressed Americans and US officials directly.

His New York Times op-ed headlined ”A Plea for Caution From Russia,” saying:

“Recent events surrounding Syria prompted (him) to speak directly (at) a time of insufficient communication between our societies.”

Post-WW II, the UN was “established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.” More on what Putin said below.

Post-WW I, “never again” was vowed. The League of Nations was created to assure it.

In August 1928, America, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, and nine other nations adopted the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy (Kellogg-Briand).

It promised wars would no longer resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them.”

Violators “should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty.”

“Never again” was ignored. WW II followed. Hope again sprung eternal when it ended. It wasn’t to be.

UN Charter Preamble promises fell short of fulfillment, stating:

“WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom….”

The body affirms international support for tolerance, peace, security, and resolve to promote universal economic and social advancement.

It failed on all counts. Post-WW II, wars raged every year. They still do. America bears full responsibility. It deplores peace. It prioritizes war.

It does so for unchallenged global dominance. It vetoes Security Council resolutions opposing its imperial agenda. It’s waging war on humanity. Putin wants it stopped.

UN founders “understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus,” he said.

“No one wants the United Nations to” replicate League of Nations failure. It “collapsed because it lacked real leverage.”

It’s happening again “if influential countries (like America) bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization,” Putin stressed.

If Washington wages war on Syria, “conflict (may spread) far beyond (its) borders.” War “would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism.”

Doing so “could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

It would “further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

Syria’s conflict is “fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition.”

Throughout the conflict, CIA operatives supplied anti-government insurgents with weapons, funding, training and direction.

In late June, Russia Today said the agency stockpiled arms for insurgents in Jordan. They’re in secret warehouses. They include anti-tank missiles and other powerful weapons.

While East/West Syrian peace talks continue, CIA operatives actively aid anti-government forces. They do so covertly. Doing it undermines chances for peace.

Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and other extremist elements are actively supported. They’re death squad killers. They’re terrorists. They’re invaders. They’re not homegrown.

They’re imported from dozens of foreign countries. Putin acknowledged their involvement. He raised concerns. “Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria,” he asked?

Since conflict erupted in March 2011, Russia urged “peaceful dialogue” resolution, Putin said. Syrians alone should determine their future. International law must be respected.

“We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos,” Putin stressed.

“The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.”

“Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council.”

“Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.”

“No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria,” he added. He pointed fingers the right way. Government forces never used chemical weapons any time.

They weren’t involved in what happened on August 21 in Ghouta. “(T)here is every reason to believe opposition forces” bear full responsibility, said Putin.

They did so “to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with (extremist) fundamentalists.”

Reports indicate they’re “preparing another attack – this time against Israel.” They “cannot be ignored.”

Putin expressed grave concern about America initiating conflicts in numerous foreign countries. He called doing so “commonplace.”

“Is it in America’s long-term interest,” he asked? “I doubt it.”

“Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.’ ”

Force is “ineffective and pointless,” Putin stressed. “Afghanistan is reeling.” Libya and Iraq are cauldrons of violence.

America bears full responsibility. Why do US officials “want to repeat (past) mistakes,” Putin asked?

Civilians suffer most in all wars. Stopping them matters most. Settling disputes diplomatically alone can avoid them.

A chance to prevent war on Syria “emerged in the past few days,” said Putin.

World leaders must embrace Assad’s willingness to place his chemical weapons under international control and destroy them.

Avoiding war on Syria improves chances for world peace. It “strengthen(s) mutual trust. (S)hared success open(s) the door to cooperation on other critical issues.”

Putin wants to work cooperatively with Obama. He strongly disagrees with him saying US policy “makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.”

This type rhetoric is “extremely dangerous,” said Putin. We’re all different, he added, “but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

New York Times editors surprisingly gave Putin op-ed space. They’ve been hostile to his efforts to avoid war.

They’re against his support for Syrian sovereignty. They’re furious about his opposing Obama’s agenda. A separate Times article responded to his op-ed.

It headlined ”As Obama Pauses Action, Putin Takes Center Stage,” saying:

He’s “been many things to (Obama): a partner at times, an irritant more often, the host of the elusive Edward J. Snowden, and ‘the bored kid in the back of the classroom’ who offered so little on the administration’s foreign policy goals that Mr. Obama canceled plans to hold a summit meeting in Moscow last week.”

“(S)uddenly (Putin) eclipsed (Obama).” He’s the world’s leading peacemaker. He wants Syria’s conflict resolved diplomatically. He deplores war. He wants peace prioritized.

He’s “offering a potential, if still highly uncertain, alternative to what he has vocally criticized as America’s militarism and reasserted Russian interests in a region where it had been marginalized since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” said The Times.

He “handed a diplomatic lifeline to his longtime” Syrian ally. He slowed Obama’s rage for war. He bought time. He did so to give peace a chance. He faces long odds to achieve it.

Eureasia Group president Ian Bremmer said “Putin probably had his best day as president in years yesterday.”

It didn’t stop The Times from railing against him. They do it repeatedly. They do it unconscionably.

“When Mr. Putin returned to the presidency a year ago,” The Times said, “he moved aggressively to stamp out a growing protest movement and silence competing and independent voices.”

“He shored up his position at home but, as his government promoted nationalism with a hostile edge, passed antigay legislation, locked up illegal immigrants in a city camp, kept providing arms to the Syrian government and ultimately gave refuge to the leaker Mr. Snowden, Mr. Putin was increasingly seen in the West as a calloused, out-of-touch modern-day czar.”

Now (he’s) relishing” the role of “statesman.” He’s that and much more on resolving Syria’s crisis diplomatically. Don’t expect The Times to explain.

Obama prioritizes war. Putin’s a peacemaker. Justice demands stripping Obama of his Nobel Peace Prize. It was wrongfully awarded. Putin rightfully deserves it.

Not according to The Times. He “us(ed) (his) veto repeatedly to block any meaningful” Security Council action, it said.

He’s “intent on opposing the United States regardless of any contrary facts or evidence.”

The Times failed to point out any justifying its statement.” It can’t. None exists.

“Mr. Putin’s palpable hostility to what he views as the supersized influence of the United States around the world explains much of the anti-American sentiment that he and his supporters have stoked since he returned as president last year,” it said.

He temporarily succeeded in elevating diplomacy over force. Doing so “carries the risk of Russia (vetoing) any security council resolution that would back up the international control over Syria’s weapons with the threat of force, as France proposed.”

The Times backs Obama’s agenda. It supports ousting Assad. It endorses war to do so. It opposes Putin’s peace initiative.

An accompanying editorial headlined ”Diplomacy as Deterrent.” Times editors lied, saying:

“Russia will continue to make seemingly unreasonable demands until a deal is finally signed and is unlikely to admit that the Syrian regime carried out the gas attack.”

Throughout months of conflict, Russia acted responsibly. It’s doing so now. Putin opposes Obama’s agenda. He does so for good reason. He wants peace, not war.

No evidence links Syrian forces to chemical weapons attacks any time throughout months of conflict against insurgents or Syrian civilians.

Plenty shows Western-enlisted terrorists used them multiple times. Don’t expect Times editors to explain.

A Final Comment

CNN headlined ”White House responds to Putin’s NYT op-ed.” It did so through the cable channel’s chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper.

He called Putin’s comments “stern (and) standoffish.” The White House said “(h)e put (his) proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. He now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver.”

Tapper left what’s most important unsaid. Obama wants war. He intends to get it. His plans are slowed. They’re not deterred.

He’ll go all out to obstruct Putin’s peace initiative. He’ll blame Russia’s president for doing it. So will supportive mainstream media.

Longstanding US plans call for ousting Assad. Replacing Syrian sovereignty with pro-Western subservient governance is prioritized. War is Obama’s option to do so.

Putin’s initiative changes nothing. Obama’s war machine intends pursuing what it does best. It wants Syria entirely ravaged and destroyed.

It wants Iran isolated. It wants Shah era harshness restored. Obama threatens world peace. It bears repeating. He’s waging war on humanity. He risks WW III.

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/putin-challenges-obama-responsibly/

As US and Russian negotiators arrived in Geneva yesterday for talks ostensibly aimed at forestalling war against Syria, US officials announced that they were beginning to directly arm and supply the Islamist opposition inside Syria.

Over the last two years, the CIA has overseen the arming of the opposition militias with weapons paid for by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms like Qatar and transferred clandestinely via a network of bases in Turkey, Eastern Europe, and the Arab countries. Now, however, US taxpayer funds will go to arming opposition fighters allied or directly affiliated to Al Qaeda.

According to initial estimates by US officials, Washington will spend $250 million overall on aid to these forces. The CIA is delivering various light weapons and ammunition, though opposition spokesmen criticized the weapons shipments as “symbolic,” demanding that the US provide them anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

The US State Department is also providing vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment, and advanced medical kits.

Washington’s arming of the so-called rebels shows that its shift to holding talks with Russia over Syria was carried out in bad faith. The Obama administration agreed to Moscow’s offer to discuss destroying Syrian chemical weapons this week, as it became clear that the US Congress would likely vote down a resolution authorizing a Syrian war opposed by the overwhelming majority of the American people. However, this tactical maneuver did not signify any fundamental shift in the US war drive.

Rather, the US government and its allies are responding to the crisis provoked by the deep opposition of the US and international working class to their war plans by intensifying their criminal intervention. They are stepping up their arming of the Islamists, while continuing to prepare for a direct military intervention in Syria—launched illegally without UN approval.

Based on lies that Assad gassed civilians in Ghouta last month, US officials are demanding an accelerated timetable for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. They are also signaling that, if this unspecified but short-term timetable is not followed, the United States will attack.

At a press conference yesterday evening in Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that Washington was still threatening war. Kerry said, “President Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail, force might be necessary to deter and degrade Assad’s capacity to deliver these weapons.”

In fact, the US and European intervention is aimed not at chemical weapons, but at toppling Assad, as part of a broader strategy for dominating the Middle East. By destroying Assad’s regime, Washington would isolate its ally Iran, US imperialism’s main regional rival in the Middle East. Washington is therefore backing and arming sectarian Sunni Islamist militias that it sees as the most reliable anti-Iranian forces in Syria.

The Syrian opposition dismissed the chemical weapons issue and denounced any attempted negotiations. “We announce our definitive rejection of the Russian initiative to place chemical weapons under international custody,” said Salim Idriss, the leader of the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the opposition forces “feared they had lost their best chance of promptly ousting President Bashar al-Assad.” They apparently were forced to shelve plans for a ground offensive on the Syrian capital, Damascus, which they hoped to carry out under cover of US and French air strikes against the Syrian army.

The criminality of the US policy is all the more brazen, in that the Islamist brigades Washington is promoting are either directly affiliated to Al Qaeda—like the Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—or, like the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, in close alliance with it. The US government last December formally declared Al Nusra a terrorist group responsible for hundreds of bombings in Syria.

Washington is nonetheless trying to help such forces rule portions of northern Syria, where Sunni militias such as Al Nusra operate death squads and carry out sectarian killings. US officials are setting up local government councils and basic services in opposition-held areas.

“We feel we’re able to get these local councils off to a good start. We vet individuals who are getting our assistance to make sure they are not affiliated with terror organizations,” said State Department official Mark Ward. Ward, who worked for the US Agency for International Development in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, coordinates US “nonlethal” aid to the opposition from southern Turkey.

In fact, US officials made clear that they will also give aid to areas controlled by Al Nusra, though they absurdly present this as part of a US policy of competing for the “hearts and minds” of Syrian civilians in Islamist-held areas.

“If you see new fire trucks and ambulances in places where Al Nusra is trying to win hearts and minds, this might not be a coincidence,” a US official told theWashington Post, which described this as a “sensitive strategy.”

US imperialism’s promotion of the Sunni Islamist opposition in Syria and the Middle East poses immense dangers. The alternatives that are starkly posed are a political mobilization of mass anti-war sentiment in the working class against the ruling class, or escalating conflicts that could provoke a broad war not only in the Middle East, but with Syria’s leading ally, Russia.

The New York Times Thursday published an opinion piece written by Russian President Vladimir Putin, titled “A Plea for Caution from Russia.” He warned that the US war drive against Syria, by throwing “the entire system of international law and order out of balance,” threatens to undermine the authority of the United Nations.

Praising the alliance between the Soviet Union and the United States against Nazi Germany during World War II, Putin wrote: “The universal international organization—the United Nations—was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again … No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed [before World War II] because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.”

Alluding to the disastrous results of US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya Putin said: “Force has proved ineffective and pointless.”

Criticizing Obama’s justification of American foreign policy with the claim that the United States is an exceptional country, Putin wrote: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Putin’s apparent allusion to the American Declaration of Independence in his appeal for the US to abandon its war drive incensed US lawmakers. Senator Nancy Pelosi denounced Putin’s remarks, saying: “I totally disagree. America is an exceptional country.”

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said he “wanted to vomit” when he read Putin’s column. “Someone who came up through the KGB tells us what’s in our national interest and what is not,” he said.

Meanwhile, several Russian warships are steaming towards the eastern Mediterranean. While Russian officials have stated that this deployment is preparing for an evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria, it has produced a tense standoff with NATO warships, which are preparing to launch missile strikes against Syria.

The destroyer Smetlivy, the amphibious assault ship Nikolai Filchenkov, and the heavy guided missile cruiser Moskva are all expected to reach the area in coming days.

President Barack Obama, long seen as an anti-war foil to the lunacy of the belligerent George W. Bush administration, has now almost completed his morphing into Bush III.

With his war talk calling for the bombing of Syria, he has relied upon international law as the rationale, at the same time deprecating the role of the United Nations (UN).  This, to say the least, is a contradiction.

With the old reliable Britain jumping ship, Obama has opted for a congressional cover, to share the glory or the blame of the latest imperial adventure, should it, like Iraq, result in disaster.

  In any event, international law being violated isn’t something that is new to the U.S. Torture is a violation of international law, yet Guantanamo Bay’s Naval brig practices it daily, not to mention U.S. black sites operated by the CIA around the globe.

Yet this president, so exercised over international law violations, issued a clean slate to the CIA for it torture chamber, (not to mention its destruction of evidence) saying essentially, ‘let the past be the past.’

 Similarly, the supreme war crime, under international law, specifically the Nuremberg Tribunal (which tried and condemned Nazis), is aggression against a nation that did not attack the aggressor.

  For this is a violation of the UN Charter, which, like Nuremberg, considered the initiation of war “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

Witness the Iraq War, not only a blunder, but a crime.

Yet the war criminals who waged an illegal, unjust war –are immune, for they did so in furtherance of empire (or perhaps more importantly, global businesses).

  Why are they not on trial for violating international law?

That treatment, it seems is reserved for African or maybe Asian leaders – not Europeans or Americans.

International law is but a fig leaf, for it covers very little, especially if there is very little to cover.

Syria is embroiled in an ugly, vicious civil war, and fighting for its very survival as presently constituted.

The U.S., after Iraq, should have no say in the matter, having reduced Iraq into a smoking cinder, struggling to rise from an invasion that made it a charnel house of the region.

  This, so-called humanitarian imperialism, is but imperialism by other means.

Meanwhile, the U.S. can’t educate its kids, it can’t provide health care to millions, its prisons are the most populated on earth, and its Wall St. elite are the biggest thieves on the block – as immune as are the invaders of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress, meanwhile, is about as popular as herpes; they are but the highly-paid employees of Wall Street – and the defense industries.

And the Nation embarks on a new war!?!

 

NSA Feeds Raw Intelligence Data to Israel

September 13th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

A secret memo provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden to the British Guardian newspaper reveals that the US spy agency is funneling raw intelligence data, including information from intercepted communications of US citizens, to Israeli intelligence.

“The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens,” the Guardian article by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill reports.

The undated five-page memo records an agreement reached between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart, the ISNU (Israeli Sigint National Unit), in March 2009, during the first months of the Obama administration.

Entitled “Protection of US Persons,” it purports to lay out a protocol for the Israeli spy agency’s handling of “signals intelligence information that has not been reviewed for foreign intelligence purposes or minimized,” i.e., raw intercepts provided without any filtering by the NSA itself. “Minimization” refers to an ostensible policy of determining whether phone calls, emails and other communications intercepted from American citizens are “essential to assess or understand the significance of the foreign intelligence.”

The memo states that the terms of the agreement are designed to ensure that the handling of such material by Israeli intelligence is “consistent with the requirements upon NSA by US law and Executive Order to establish safeguards protecting the rights of US persons under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.”

The Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” barring searches without narrowly defined warrants based on probable cause. It has been ripped to shreds by the NSA’s domestic spying operations, which amount to the wholesale seizure of personal records from virtually every American citizen and millions of people abroad, with no specific warrants whatsoever.

While insisting that the Israelis operate with deference to the US Constitution and law, the memo adds, “This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law.” In other words, in practice ISNU and the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad are free to do as they please.

The memo requests that the Israelis notify the NSA whenever it fishes data on US citizens out of the raw intelligence stream, but allows them to keep “any files containing the identities of US persons” for up to a year. It also permits them to “disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons” gleaned from the unfiltered data provided by the NSA to the Israeli agency’s “customers,” so long as it does so in “a manner that does not identify the US person.”

The most extraordinary passage in the memo requires that the Israeli spooks “destroy upon recognition” any communication provided by the NSA “that is either to or from an official of the US government.” It goes on to spell out that this includes “officials of the Executive Branch (including the White House, Cabinet Departments, and independent agencies); the US House of Representatives and Senate (members and staff); and the US Federal Court System (including, but not limited to, the Supreme Court).”

The stunning implication of this passage is that NSA spying targets not only ordinary American citizens, but also Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and the White House itself. One could hardly ask for a more naked exposure of a police state.

The pretense that Israeli intelligence stumbling across such material would “destroy” it without so much as a peek is ludicrous, and everyone involved in preparing the agreement knows it.

Israel is ostensibly one of Washington’s closest allies. The two countries’ intelligence agencies collaborate on joint operations such as the unleashing of the Stuxnet virus on the computers at Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities.

But part of the $52.6 billion “black budget” request made for 2013 by US intelligence agencies, revealed in a document obtained by Snowden and released last month to the Washington Post, states that these agencies’ counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.”

According to a report on defense contractors’ security prepared by the US government’s General Accounting Office in 1996, Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”

This has resulted in high profile arrests of Israeli spies such as Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US intelligence analyst for the Navy who was turning over extensive top secret material to Israeli intelligence, and Lawrence Franklin, a mid-level Pentagon official sentenced to 12 years in prison for passing secret documents to Israeli officials. Two senior lobbyists at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were indicted in the Franklin case, but charges were ultimately dropped.

Israeli espionage has focused on US policy in the Middle East, military secrets and industrial/commercial information that could benefit Israeli corporations. Israeli intelligence agencies are continuously engaged in efforts to manipulate US policy to serve the interests of the Zionist regime. No doubt, the raw intelligence provided by the NSA is gone over with a fine-tooth comb to uncover information that could be useful in this regard.

This latest in the series of revelations provided by Snowden demolishes claims made by President Obama last month that the NSA and his administration are taking the strongest possible measures to ensure the privacy of US citizens whose telephone calls and electronic communications are swept up in the spy agency’s massive dragnet. On the contrary, these communications are being handed over to a foreign secret police organization, one of the most aggressive and deadly on the face of the planet. Mossad is well known for organizing extra-judicial assassinations around the world.

The information disclosed by Snowden and the Guardian has been largely blacked out by the corporate-controlled media in the US. The New York Times, the supposed “newspaper of record,” has ignored the Guardian ’s exposé of NSA-Israeli intelligence sharing entirely, while the Washington Post relegated it to the bottom of its “technology” page, below stories on the lack of female characters in computer games and false rumors about Apple’s new iPhone.

The paucity of revealed facts highlights the reality that little is really known about the actual attack. There is still no agreed upon number of fatalities, with unverified claims ranging from the US assertion of 1,429 fatalities to the French assertion that only 281 were killed. In other words, the French Intelligence number is about 20 percent that of the US assertion. Most Syrian opposition sources now put the number of fatalities at between 335 and 355, as does the non-governmental organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). This is about 25 percent of the US number. Either way, this is too huge a gap not to be explained and substantiated.

It is still not clear what type of agent killed the victims.

To-date, the US position in documents submitted to Congress is that the victims died as a result of “nerve agent exposure”. Orally, however, Secretary Kerry claimed the US has proof it was sarin. The French intelligence report also attributes the deaths to “chemical agents” without further identification. The most explicit finding to-date comes from the UK’s Defence Science Technology Laboratory. Soil and cloth samples “tested positive for the nerve gas sarin”. The sarin in the cloth was in liquid form that soaked into the cloth. As discussed below, this finding reinforces the conclusion that “kitchen sarin” was used. Hence, so much will depend on the UN’s findings when their tests are completed.

The claim that the agent used was a “military sarin” is problematic because military sarin accumulates (like a gaseous crystal) around the victims’ hair and loose threads in clothes. Since these molecules are detached and released anew by any movement, they would have thus killed or injured the first responders who touched the victims’ bodies without protective clothes, gloves and masks. However, opposition videos show the first responders moving corpses around without any ill effects. This strongly indicates that the agent in question was the slow acting “kitchen sarin”. Indeed, other descriptions of injuries treated by MSF – suffocation, foaming, vomiting and diarrhoea – agree with the effects of diluted, late-action drops of liquified sarin. The overall descriptions of the injuries and fatalities treated by MSF closely resemble the injuries treated by the Tokyo emergency authorities back on March 20, 1995. The Tokyo subway attack was committed with liquified “kitchen sarin”.The know how for this type of sarin came from North Korean Intelligence, and is known to have been transferred, along with samples, to Osama bin Laden in 1998. That the jihadist movement has these technologies was confirmed in jihadist labs captured in both Turkey and Iraq, as well as from the wealth of data recovered from al-Qaida in Afghanistan in 2001/2.

As well, it is not yet clear what weapons were used to disperse the chemical agent. The specifics of the weapon will provide the crucial evidence whether this was a military type agent of the kind available in the Syrian arsenal, or improvised, kitchen-style agent of the type known to be within the technical capabilities of the jihadist opposition.

Meanwhile, the mangled projectiles shown by the opposition, and which were tested by the UN inspectors, are not standard weapons of the Syrian Armed Forces. These projectiles have a very distinct ribbed-ring fins which are similar to projectiles used by the opposition in Aleppo, Damascus, and other fronts with both high-explosives and undefined materials. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) retrieved a video claiming to be of the attack, but is most likely of a daylight testing of the launcher. The truck-mounted launcher included a chemical sleeve that was supposed to absorb leaks from the improvised warheads and not harm the launch crew; hardly the precaution taken with a military weapon.

Moreover, the warheads used in Damascus were cylindrical tanks which cracked and permitted a Tokyo-style mixture of liquids, rather than the pressurized mix and vaporization at the molecular level by the force of core explosion in a standard Soviet-style chemical warhead. Had Syrian militarily-trained experts built these warheads, they would have used the upper pipe for the core-charge the explosion of which would have created a significantly more lethal vaporized cloud of the toxic agent. The mere fact that the pipeline remained empty suggests the work of amateurs found in the ranks of the improvised weapon makers of the jihadist opposition.

As well, the opposition also pointed to cracked plastic pieces which resembled shreds from large blue plastic tanks/bottles (like a water cooler’s huge bottles) fired by chemical launchers the opposition had bragged about in the past. These weapons are in agreement with the multitude of images of victims publicized by the opposition which did not show any injury due to shrapnel which would have come from Soviet-style chemical munitions of the type known to be in the Syrian military arsenal.

Most important, of course, is the question “Who could have done it?” given the available data. Significantly, evidence collected by numerous Arab sources on the ground in the greater Damascus area and recently smuggled out of Syria narrows the scope of potential perpetrators and the reason for the attack. This evidence points to specific commanders of Liwaa al-Islam and Jabhat al-Nusra known to be cooperating in the eastern Damascus theater.

On the night of August 20/21. 2013, and the early morning of August 21, 2013 – a day before the chemical attack – the jihadists’ Liberating the Capital Front, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, suffered a major defeat during Operation Shield of the Capital. Operation Shield of the Capital is the largest military operation of the Syrian Army in the Damascus region since the beginning of the conflict. The jihadists also amassed a huge force of over 25,000 fighters for their Front from 13 armed kitaeb [battalion-groupings].

The main units belonged to Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwaa al-Islam. The other kitaeb were Harun al-Rashid, Syouf al-Haqq, al-Mohajereen, al-Ansar, Abu Zhar al-Ghaffari, Issa Bin Mariam, Sultan Mohammad al-Fatih, Daraa al-Sham, the Jobar Martyrs, and Glory of the Caliphate. They included both Syrian and foreign volunteers. (The mere gathering of so many kitaeb for the battle of eastern Damascus refutes the assertion in the US and French intelligence reports that the opposition was incapable of conducting coordinated large-scale operations and therefore the chemical attack must have been launched by Assad’s forces.)

Around dawn on August 21, 2013, the Liberating the Capital Front suffered a strategic defeat in the Jobar entrance area.

The Jobar entrance was the opposition’s last staging areas with access to the heart of Damascus from where they could launch car-bombs and raids. The Jobar entrance is also the sole route for reinforcements and supplies coming from the Saudi-Jordanian-US intelligence base near Jordan’s major airbase and military facilities in al-Mafraq (from where the eastern route to Damascus starts) and distributed via the Ghouta area to the outlaying eastern suburbs of Damascus. The eastern route is so important that the efforts are supervised personally by Saudi Princes Bandar and Salman bin Sultan, and overseen by Col. Ahmad al-Naimeh, the commander of the opposition’s Military Council of the Southern Region and Horan.

The jihadists’ defeat on August 21 effectively sealed any hope of a future surge from Jordan by CIA-sponsored jihadist forces because the jihadists who, starting August 17/18, 2013, were attempting to use the western route to Damascus from the base in Ramtha, Jordan, had by now been encircled and defeated not far from the Golan border with Israel.

As the jihadist forces were collapsing, the Front commanders deployed an élite force to block at all cost the Syrian military’s access to the Jobar entrance area. The majority of the jihadists in this force were from Liwaa al-Islam and the rest from Jabhat al-Nusra. The commander of the force was a Saudi jihadist going by the nom de guerre Abu-Ayesha. (Abu-Ayesha was identified by a Ghouta resident called Abu Abdul-Moneim as the jihadist commander who had stored in a tunnel in Ghouta weapons some of which had “tube-like structure” and others looked like “huge gas bottles”. Abdul-Moneim’s son and 12 other fighters were killed inside the tunnel by a chemical leak from one of these weapons.)

According to military and strategic analyst Brig. Ali Maqsoud, the Liwaa al-Islam forces arrayed in Jobar included “the so-called ‘Chemical Weapons Front’ led by Zahran Alloush [the supreme leader of Liwaa al-Islam]. That group possesses primitive chemical weapons smuggled from al-Qaida in Iraq to Jobar, in the vicinity of Damascus.”

When the jihadist Front collapsed, the jihadist leaders decided that only a chemical strike could both stop the advance of the Syrian army and provoke a US military strike that would deliver a strategic victory for the jihadists. The chemical agents were then loaded on what Russian intelligence defined as “rockets [which] were manufactured domestically to carry chemicals. They were launched from an area controlled by Liwaa al-Islam.”

Maqsoud is convinced the chemical weapons strike was launched at the behest of Washington and on Washington’s orders. “In the end, we can say that this [post-strike US] escalatory rhetoric aims to achieve two things. The first is strengthening [the US] position as leader of the opposition and imposing conditions in preparation for the negotiating table. The second is changing the [power balance on the] ground and stopping the Syrian army’s advance,” Maqsoud told al-Safir of Lebanon.

The identification of Liwaa al-Islam under Zahran Alloush as the jihadist force most likely to have conducted the chemical attack raises major questions regarding the Saudi involvement and particularly that of Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Zahran Alloush is the son of a Saudi-based religious scholar named Sheikh Abdullah Muhammad Alloush. During the 1980s, he worked for then Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki al-Faisal in both Afghanistan and Yemen.

Zahran Alloush was involved with the neo-salafi/Wahhabi underground in Syria since the 1990s, was jailed by Syrian Mukhabarat, and released in mid-2011 as part of Bashar al-Assad’s amnesty aimed to placate Riyadh. Zahran Alloush immediately received funds and weapons from Saudi intelligence which enabled him to establish and run Liwaa al-Islam as a major jihadist force.

On July 18, 2012, Liwaa al-Islam conducted the major bombing of the headquarters of Syria’s national security council in Rawda Square, Damascus, assassinating, among others, Assaf Shawkat, Bashar’s brother-in-law and nominally the deputy Minister of Defense, Dawoud Rajiha, the Defense Minister, and Hassan Turkmani, former Defense Minister who was military adviser to then-Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa. In Spring 2013, Zahran Alloush helped the Saudis weaken the Qatari-sponsored jihadist forces in the Damascus area. In June 2013, he suddenly withdrew his forces in the middle of a major battle with the Syrian army, leaving the Qatari-sponsored First Brigade and Liwaa Jaish al-Muslimeen to be defeated and mauled.

Significantly, in late August 2013, the opposition insisted on having Zahran Alloush and Liwaa al-Islam secure and escort the international experts team when they collected evidence in the opposition-controlled parts of eastern Damascus. Zahran Alloush entrusted the task of actually controlling and monitoring the UN team to his close allied katiba, the Liwaa al-Baraa from Zamalka. Thus, the international experts’ team operated while in effective custody of those jihadists most likely responsible for the chemical attack.

According to several jihadist commanders, “Zahran Alloush receives his orders directly from the Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan” and Liwaa al-Islam is Saudi Arabia’s private army in Syria.

The Bandar aspect is important to understanding strategic-political aspects of the chemical strike.
No independent evidence ties Bandar to the actual chemical attack.

Presently, there is no independent evidence connecting Bandar, or any other Saudi official, to the supply and use of chemical weapons in Damascus. There exist, though, the long-time connections between the various jihadist commanders and both Saudi intelligence and Bandar himself. However, Bandar’s threats in the meeting with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin cast a shadow on the question of Riyadh’s foreknowledge, and, given the uniquely close relations between Bandar and CIA Chief John Brennan, Washington’s foreknowledge as well.

On August 2, 2013, Prince Bandar had an unprecedented meeting with Pres. Putin at the Kremlin.

Their meeting covered a host of issues ranging from future energy economy to the situation in Egypt to what to do about Syria. Throughout, Bandar made a huge mistake – believing that Putin was just like the successive US senior officials Bandar has dealt with in the past – namely, that like the Americans, Putin would also be easy to bribe with flattery, weapons acquisition, and oil-related cash.

Putin was not.

Of significance to the issue of the chemical strike in Damascus was the exchange between Bandar and Putin regarding the future of Bashar al-Assad. Bandar wanted Putin to support the toppling of the Assad Administration and its replacement with a Saudi-sponsored opposition administration. Bandar promised that Russia’s interests in Syria would be preserved by the proposed Saudi-sponsored post-Assad government.

In this context Bandar sought to both allay Putin’s concerns regarding jihadist terrorism and to deliver a veiled threat. “As an example,” Bandar stated, “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move [also] in the direction of the Syrian territory without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

Putin responded quietly. “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Bandar again discussed the Syrian issue at length. He stressed that as far as Riyadh was concerned, there was no future for the Assad Administration. “The Syrian regime is finished as far as we and the majority of the Syrian people are concerned,” Bandar said, and they, the Syrian people, “will not allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain at the helm.”

Putin responded that Moscow’s “stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters.” Again, Bandar resorted to threats. He warned Putin that their dispute over the future of Syria led him, Bandar, to conclude that “there is no escape from the [US-led] military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate”. Bandar added that Riyadh saw no future for the negotiating process.

Bandar expected such a military intervention to soon commence.

Did he have any foreknowledge of a provocation to come? Significantly, Bandar insisted throughout his visit to Moscow that his initiative and message were coordinated with the highest authorities in Obama’s Washington. “I have spoken with the Americans before the visit, and they pledged to commit to any understandings that we may reach, especially if we agree on the approach to the Syrian issue,” Bandar assured Putin.

Did the Obama White House know in advance about the Saudi claim to controlling jihadist terrorism in both Russia and Syria? Did the Obama White House know about Bandar’s anticipation of an US-led military intervention?

Several Arab leaders, as well as senior intelligence and defense officials from the Arabian Peninsula are now convinced that the chemical strike was aimed to provoke a US-led military intervention which would in turn lead to the toppling of Bashar al-Assad and the empowerment of an Islamist government in Damascus.

These senior intelligence and defense officials have privately expressed anger that the US has not [yet] struck at Syria, as was so widely anticipated in the Arab world. These notables point out that in late Spring, the top leaders of the Syrian opposition and its regional sponsors impressed on the highest authorities in Washington and other Western capitals the gravity of the situation. The opposition and sponsors warned that unless there was a major military intervention during the Summer, the struggle for Syria would be lost come Autumn. The leaders of the opposition and their sponsors now insist that they were assured in these discussions that the US and key West European powers were eager to provide such help and intervene in order to topple the Assad Administration and empower the opposition in Damascus.

Given the political climate in the US and the West, the Arab leaders say that they were told, it was imperative for US and Western leaders to have a clear casus belli of an absolute humanitarian character. Recently (but before the chemical attack), the opposition and sponsors were asked for lists of targets to be hit by US-led Western bombing should there be a Western intervention. The opposition provided such target lists, convinced that their bombing was imminent. The leaders of the opposition and their sponsors now feel cheated, for there had just been an humanitarian catastrophe in Damascus with all the characteristics of the sought-after casus belli, and yet, there were no US and Western bombers in the skies over Damascus!

Significantly, most of these Arab leaders and officials are not in the know. They do o’t pretend to have any specific knowledge of what happened in Damascus beyond the coverage in the Arab media. They complain so bitterly on the basis of their comprehension of how things should have been done given the overall strategic circumstances. And for them, such a self-inflicted carnage is the most obvious thing to do if that was what Washington and other Western capitals needed in order to have a viable casus belli for an intervention.

Meanwhile, the US case against the Assad Administration continued to crumble.

“No direct link to Pres. Bashar al-Assad or his inner-circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some US sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward,” observed Reuters’ Mark Hosenball.

A closer study of the much-touted electronic intercepts proves that Assad and his inner-circle were stunned by the news of the chemical attack. When the first reports of the chemical attack surfaced, a very senior Syrian military officer called in panic the artillery commander of the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army which is under the direct command of Maher al-Assad.

The senior officer wanted to know if the brigade had fired any chemical munitions in contravention of the explicit orders of the top leadership not to do so. The artillery commander flatly denied firing any rocket, missile, or artillery. He added that he had already checked and confirmed that all his munitions were accounted for, and invited the general staff to send officers to verify on their own that all brigade’s munitions were in safe storage. The senior officers took the commander to task and he was interrogated for three days as a thorough inventory of the munitions was carried out. This artillery officer was returned to duty as it was confirmed beyond doubt that no munitions were missing. (Since there was no other chemical-capable unit in the area, the claim of rogue officers should identify from where and how they had obtained chemical munitions.)

The reaction of the Assad inner-circle was in agreement with earlier observations by German Federal Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

The BND reported that since the beginning of Spring 2013, Syrian brigade and division commanders had repeatedly asked the Presidency for permission to use chemical weapons against jihadist forces besieging them. The Presidency had always denied permission in strong and uncompromising terms. The BND has no indication, let alone proof, that this consistent policy changed on or before August 21. 2013.

This is also the opinion of a very senior Iranian official in Beirut. When the news of the chemical attack first broke, a very senior HizbAllah official called the Iranian for advice. The BND intercepted the call. The HizbAllah official wondered whether “Assad had lost his temper and committed a huge mistake by giving the order for the poison gas use”. The Iranian senior official assured his HizbAllah counterpart that there was no change to Assad’s “long-standing steadfast policy of not using these [chemical] weapons”.

One of the main reasons for Washington’s accusatory finger at the Syrian military was the assertion that the chemical attack took place in the context of a Syrian military effort to recapture this part of the Damascus area. Having met stiff resistance and under immense pressure to decide the battle swiftly, Washington’s explanation goes, the Syrian military used chemical weapons in order to break the opposition.

However, the Syrian Armed Forces have a long history of training by the Soviet Armed Forces and access to Soviet-era weaponry, both chemical agents and means of dispersal. Among these are huge quantities of the vastly more lethal VX and grenade-size aerosols optimized for dense urban environment. Syrian commando was supplied with, and trained on, these systems starting the late-1970s when preparing to fight the jihadist insurrection in some of Syria’s main cities. Hence, had the Syrian military wanted to clear the said areas with the use of chemical weapons, they would have used VX in aerosols with greater efficiency and lethality. And why not use the same VX-filled aerosols in other key urban battle-fronts like Aleppo or Homs to expedite victory? Why use “kitchen sarin” and wide-area-effect munitions that will only hinder military advance into contaminated areas?

Hence, what is the basis for the Obama Administration’s confidence that “Assad did it” to the point of threatening military action which in all likelihood would evolve into US involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war? The most honest answer was provided on September 8, 2013, by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on CNN’s State of the Union program. McDonough asserted it was “common sense” that the Syrian Government carried out the chemical attack, and provided no further evidence to back his statement. Nobody pressed McDonough on this point.

The US has long taken sides in the Syrian civil war and all the regional wars and strife integrated into it.

The US placed itself as the self-anointed manager and arbiter of the outcome of this fateful dynamic. Nobody in the region believes the Obama White House’s assurances about a limited strike with no intent of “regime change”. After all this was the exact assurances given by the Obama Administration on the eve of the UNSC’s vote on Libya solely in order to convince Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to abstain and let the resolution pass (which they did). Now, should the US strike Syria, alone or at the head of a makeshift coalition, the US would have crossed the threshold of active participation and leadership. Pressure would mount on the US to complete the job: to invade and get involved directly in the fighting, to secure the strategic weapon arsenals (which will take 75,000-100,000 troops by the Pentagon’s latest estimates), and to overthrow Assad and empower what Bandar calls “moderate” Islamists.

Arab leaders and their Islamist protégés are now convinced that only the US can, and should, defeat the Assad Administration and empower the Islamists for them. Should the US shirk or dither, there would be more and worse provocations, and more innocent Syrians would die in the hands of their brethren and saviors until the US delivered Damascus to the Islamists-jihadists and their sponsors.

After the catastrophe that Libya is today, does Washington really want to try again in Syria?

Wouldn’t confronting reality and the Islamists-jihadists be a more expedient (and honest) way of doing things?

Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs

U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel Support Al Qaeda Terrorists Who Are Brutally Persecuting Syrian Christians

Until recently, Syria was a safe-haven for Christians.

The New York Times notes:

As secular leaders from the secretive Alawite sect, the Assad dynasty largely preserved Christian life, protecting Syria’s minorities from what was perceived as a collective threat from the country’s Sunni majority.

Watching their once-shielding dictators fall like dominos across the region, Christians have suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of history. Faced by a rising tide of radical Sunni Islam, Christians in Iraq and Egypt have fled by the thousands. In Syria, concern over Christian repression has fallen on deaf ears, drowned out by popular support for the country’s opposition in the face of the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown.

BBC points out:

Syria has for much of the century had a sizeable Christian minority, making up at least 10% of the population.

***

In recent years Syria has been considered one of the easier Middle Eastern countries for Christians to live in. Power is concentrated in the hands of the Alawite minority – a Shia sect considered heretical by many Muslims – which has clamped down hard on extreme forms of Islam.

But that’s all changed since Al Qaeda terrorists started targeting Christians in Syria more than a year ago.

Agence France-Presse reports:

Jihadists who overran Syria’s ancient town of Maalula last week disparaged Christians as “Crusaders” and forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint, say residents who fled the town.

***

“They arrived in our town at dawn… and shouted ‘We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders,” an Islamist term for Christians ….

***

Maalula is one of the most renowned Christian towns in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

***

“I saw people wearing Al-Nusra headbands who started shooting at crosses,” said Nasrallah, a Christian.

One of them “put a pistol to the head of my neighbour and forced him to convert to Islam by obliging him to repeat ‘there is no God but God’.”

“Afterwards they joked, ‘he’s one of ours now’.”

***

Another resident, Rasha, recounted how the jihadists had seized her fiance Atef, who belonged to the town’s militia, and brutally murdered him.

“I rang his mobile phone and one of them answered,” she said.

“Good morning, Rashrush,” a voice answered, using her nickname. “We are from the Free Syrian Army. Do you know your fiance was a member of the shabiha (pro-regime militia) who was carrying weapons, and we have slit his throat.”

The man told her Atef had been given the option of converting to Islam, but had refused.

“Jesus didn’t come to save him,” he taunted.

Daily Mail writes:

Another Christian resident said: ‘I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, “Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded”.’

Another said one church had been torched, and gunmen stormed into two other churches and robbed them.

The Christian Science Monitor notes:

Anas, their son, says he got threatening messages back in Syria: “Your money is for us to take, your wife is for us to sleep with, and your children are for killing. This is all halal,” or permissible under Islamic law. He escaped with his wife and children to Jordan, but not before his liquor store had been burned down.

WND reports:

The Christian residents were offered four choices: 1. renounce the ‘idolatry’ of Christianity and convert to Islam; 2. pay a heavy tribute to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith (this tribute is known as jizya); 3. be killed; 4. flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.”

The Washington Times reported in June:

A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy… The reported beheading of the two Christians comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week.”

Most of the Syrian “rebels” are Al Qaeda.  As NBC News reports, Al Qaeda is gaining more and more power among the rebels.

And the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel  have been backing these guys for years.  Indeed, we’ve long known that most of the weapons we’re shipping to Syria are ending up in the hands of Al Qaeda. And they apparently have chemical weapons.

Congressman Amish points out that the U.S. is breaking the law by aiding and abetting a designated terrorist group.

Indeed, Obama’s own top lawyers warned him that arming the rebels would be illegal.

Ironically, Obama has just renewed the Declaration of a State of Emergency for America first started by Bush in September 2001.  That declaration of emergency is supposed to be about fighting – you know –Al Qaeda.

But the U.S. has long wanted regime change in Syria … and long backed the most violent terrorists in the world for geopolitical reasons.