Global Research Editor’s note

As September approaches, we are reminded that the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 will soon be upon us once again. 11 years later, are we any closer to the truth about what really happened on that fateful day?

For the next month until September 11, 2012, we will be posting on a daily basis important articles from our early archives pertaining to the tragic events of 9/11. The following text by Mark Elsis challenges the report of NORAD regarding the “response” of the US Air Force on the morning of 19/11. 
 
Michel Chossudovsky, August 15, 2012

Timeline: 9/11 Stand Down

Exposing NORAD’s “Wag the 911 Window Dressing Tale”, using NORAD’s own Press Release and Fifth Grade Math

by Mark Elsis, Lovearth.net  

www.StandDown.net May 2003.

www.globalresearch.ca  May 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ELS305A.html

With a minute-by-minute chronology from 7:59 a.m. till 10:06:05 a.m., this article will dismantle the Wednesday September 18, 2001 North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Press Release. This press release encompasses the (supposed) response times of the United States Air Force on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

This article will explain to you exactly what happened for the almost one hour and fifty-three minutes that elapsed between the time American Airlines Flight 11 lost voice contact with air traffic control and was hijacked at 8:13:31, till the time United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:06:05.

NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

Also, when reading this article, please keep in mind the following five very significant pieces of information.

 1) The United States Government will spend more on the military in fiscal year 2003, than all the rest of the countries on Earth combined. Current expenditures are 437 billion and our past obligations are 339 billion, this equals 776 billion. 46% of our Taxes go to the Military Industrial Complex: http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm This figure doesn’t even begin to account for all of the off-budget, black projects, homeland security nor the 40+ billion the United States Government will spend on intelligence in 2003.

 2) The United States Air Force (USAF) is the most technologically advanced, and the most dominate military force ever known to man. There were seven Air Stations that were armed and on full alert to protect the continental United States on Tuesday September 11, 2001. The Air National Guard exclusively performs the air sovereignty mission in the continental United States, and those units fall under the control of the 1st Air Force based at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Panama City, Florida. The Air National Guard maintains seven alert sites with 14 fully armed fighters and pilots on call around the clock. Besides Tyndall AFB, alert birds also sit armed and ready at; Homestead Air Reserve Base (ARB), Homestead, Florida; Langley AFB, Hampton, Virginia; Otis Air National Guard (ANG), Falmouth, Massachusetts; Oregon ANG, Portland, Oregon; March ARB, Riverside, CA; and Ellington ANG, Houston, Texas.
http://www.af.mil/news/airman/1299/home2.htm

 There were at least 28 other USAF bases that were in range of the 4 airliners on 911.

The following link lists the 7 bases on full alert and the 28 that were within range.
http://www.StandDown.net/USAFbases.htm

 3) New York City and Washington D.C. are far and away the top two cities in the United States that would be targeted by terrorists.

 4) NORAD is a binational United States and Canadian organization charged with warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, utilizing mutual support arrangements with other commands. Aerospace control includes providing surveillance and control of Canadian and United States airspace. The job of NORAD is to know every inch of the skies over North America.

 5) Almost one hundred and thirteen minutes elapsed between the time American Airlines Flight 11 lost contact and was hijacked at 8:13:31 till the time United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:06:05. One hour and fifty-three minutes went by and the USAF did not intercept any one of these four “hijacked” airlines. To understand all the rules, regulation and procedures that make this totally impossible to happen, please read:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Standard Intercept Procedures http://www.StandDown.net/FAAStandardInterceptProcedures.htm

Stand Down

1. To end a state of readiness or alert.
2. To go off duty.
3. To withdraw, as from a political contest.

Many sources for Stand Down are from the 600 articles on:
http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net

For Audios, Photographs and Videos of September 11, 2001:
http://www.9112001.net

For The Most Comprehensive Timeline On 911
http://www.911Timeline.net

All times are Eastern Daylight Time.

 

7:59 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 a Boeing 767-223ER with a maximum capacity of 181 passengers and 23,980 gallons of fuel, lifts off from Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, bound for Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Take-off was scheduled for 7:45.

 There are supposed to be 92 victims on board American Airlines Flight 11, yet when you add up the official death manifest list that was published on CNN.com, there are only 86 victims.

 The same goes for the other three flights of 911. Add up the passenger and crew lists from all 4 flights of 911 and you have officially 265 people on board. Yet when one adds up the 4 official death manifest lists published on CNN.com, there are only 229 names. Somehow 36 people are missing from the 4 CNN.com official death manifest lists, including all 19 of the hijackers. Why?

 Go to: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net — Click on Evidence — Scroll down till you see: AA11 Passenger List, UA 175 Passenger List, AA 77 Passenger List and UA 93 Passenger List. Click on any of these four links and count the number of passengers listed for yourself.

 The 4 airliners used on September 11th, 2 Boeing 767’s and 2 Boeing 757’s had a total passenger seating capacity of 762 people. How could these four flights possibly be only between 30.1% (229 passengers and crew) to 34.7% (265 passengers and crew) occupied? How could all four of these flights added together possibly be more than 65% empty?

 Boeing 767 Seating Charts: http://www.boeing.com/commercial/767family/pf/pf_seating_charts.html

 Boeing 757 Seating Charts: http://www.boeing.com/commercial/757family/pf/pf_seating_charts.html

 8:01 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 a Boeing 757-222 with a maximum capacity of 200 passengers and 11,489 gallons of fuel, rolls from the gate in Newark International Airport, Newark, New Jersey with 44 people aboard bound for San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California. United Airlines Flight 93 will sit on the ground for 41 minutes before taking off. There are supposed to be 44 victims on board, yet when you add up the official death manifest list that was published on CNN.com, there are only 33 victims.

 8:13:31 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 last transmission from Boston Air Traffic Control: AAL11 turn 20 degrees right American Airlines Flight 11 responds: 20 right AAL11. A few seconds later the Controller asks: AAL11 now climb maintain FL350 [35,000 feet] Controller: AAL11 climb maintain FL350 Controller: AAL11 Boston. There is no response from American Airlines Flight 11.

 8:14 to 8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 goes off course and is hijacked.

 8:14 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 a Boeing 767-222 with a maximum capacity of 181 passengers and 23,980 gallons of fuel, lifts off from Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, bound for Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Take-off was scheduled for 7:58. There are supposed to be 65 victims on board, yet when you add up the official death manifest list that was published on CNN.com, there are only 56 victims.

 8:17 a.m.: After 3 minutes and 30 seconds of lost voice contact with American Airlines Flight 11, the FAA should have started to implemented Standard Intercept Procedures.
http://www.StandDown.net/FAAStandardInterceptProcedures.htm

 8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 transponder signal stops transmitting Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) beacon signal. If a pilot loses their transponder the air traffic controllers (ATC) console immediately alerts him to this fact since he no longer has the transponder code and altitude. This causes the controllers a great deal of trouble, especially in the busiest airspace on earth, the northeastern corridor.

After 6 minutes and 30 seconds of lost voice contact, and now with the transponder signal stopped on American Airlines Flight 11, there is no excuse left, the FAA should have started to implement Standard Intercept Procedures. They did for the late great golfer Payne Stewart, after only a few minutes of lost voice contact from his Lear jet. Why not now? Or did the FAA implement Standard Intercept Procedures and tell NORAD between 8:14 to 8:20? Did NORAD then sit on (Stand Down) this information for 26 to 32 minutes – till they finally tell 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts to scramble at 8:46? Somewhere between 8:13:31 and 8:20 American Airlines Flight 11 has been hijacked, and by 8:20 its transponder also is turned off, and NORAD doesn’t order Otis to scramble till 8:46. 

8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 a Boeing 757-223 with a maximum capacity of 200 passengers and 11,489 gallons of fuel, lifts off from Dulles International Airport about 30 miles west of Washington D.C. and the Pentagon, bound for Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Take-off was scheduled for 8:01. There are supposed to be 64 victims on board, yet when you add up the official death manifest list that was published on CNN.com, there are only 56 victims.

 8:24:38 a.m.: The pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, John Ogonowski, or one of the hijackers activates the talk-back button, enabling Boston ATC to hear a hijacker say to the passengers: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be OK. We are returning to the airport. Nobody move.” Apparently, one of the hijackers confused the aircraft’s radio with its public-address system. Air traffic control responds, “Who’s trying to call me?” 

8:25 a.m.: Boston ATC notified several air traffic control centers that a hijack is in progress with American Airlines Flight 11. Boston air traffic control first lost communication with American Airlines Flight 11 more than 11 minutes ago. What took them so long to start to implement procedure? Why didn’t they also notify North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at this time? Or did they?

 If they did follow procedure and notify NORAD at 8:25 and NORAD followed protocol and ordered the 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts to scramble at say 8:26 – two F-15’s would have been airborne by no later than 8:32 – these F-15’s would have had at least 14 minutes and 26 seconds to reach the WTC before American Airlines Flight 11 impacts the north side of the North Tower (1 World Trade Center) at 8:46:26. If these two F-15’s were flying at top speed, 14 minutes and 26 seconds is exactly twice the amount of time needed to reach the WTC. These two F-15’s could have been at the WTC in just over 7 minutes, or as early as 8:39. Even a spokesperson for Otis said that their F-15’s could reach the WTC in 10 to 12 minutes, which would have them there at 8:42 to 8:44.

 These two F-15’s could have easily intercepted American Airlines Flight 11. If only Boston ATC, which notified several air traffic control centers that a hijack is in progress with American Airlines Flight 11 at 8:25, had also notified NORAD. Why didn’t they? Or did they follow procedure, and notify NORAD, and NORAD is lying about it. Let me state that it is NORAD’s job to know every inch of the skies over North America, so they must have known that American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked somewhere between 8:14 and 8:20.

 8:26 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 is heading westnorthwest, its location is between Albany and Lake George, New York, when it suddenly makes a 100 degree turn to the south and starts heading directly toward New York City. American Airlines Flight 11 finds the Hudson River and follows it all the way south till it impacts the north side of the North Tower of the WTC.

 Almost 40 miles north of the WTC on the Hudson River is by far the number one terrorist target in the United States, Indian Point and its 3 nuclear power stations, 2 of which are online. These 3 nuclear stations have accumulated 65 years worth of stockpiled highly radioactive waste. Indian Point is only 24 miles north of the New York City border. It is surrounded by the densest concentration of population in the United States, the northeast corridor. Why did American Airlines Flight 11 fly directly over the number one terrorist target in the United States, Indian Point nuclear power stations, and not hit it? (read more about this at 8:39 a.m.)

 8:33:59 a.m.: Another transmission from American Airlines Flight 11, “Nobody move please. We are going back to the airport. Don’t try to make any stupid moves.”

 8:36 a.m.: A NORAD spokesman, Major Mike Snyder, has been reported to have said, that the FAA notified NORAD of a hijacked aircraft, American Airlines Flight 11, about 10 minutes before it impacted into the World Trade Center.

 8:37 a.m.: Flight controllers ask the United Airlines Flight 175 pilots to look for the lost American Airlines Flight 11, about 10 miles to the south. They respond that they can see it. They are told to keep away from it. This incident is not included in The New York Times flight controller transcript. Why?

 8:38 a.m.: Boston ATC notifies NORAD that American Airlines Flight 11 has been hijacked.

 8:39 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 flies directly over the number one terrorist target in the United States, Indian Point nuclear power stations. Indian Point has 3 nuclear power stations (1 is offline and the other 2 have been online since 1973 and 1976), which are only 24 miles north of New York City (and about 40 miles north of the WTC).

 If American Airlines Flight 11 hits Indian Point correctly in any of three different ways, they could have caused a meltdown and a release of vast amounts of radiation. There are also a cumulative 65 operating years worth of highly radioactive waste stored at Indian Point. Casualties could possibly be upwards of 20 million people prematurely dieing from radiation poisoning. The whole northeast corridor from New York City to Boston would instantly become a wasteland for thousands of years.

 Why did American Airlines Flight 11 jeopardize their mission by flying another 7 plus minutes (when they could and should have been intercepted by the USAF) down the Hudson River to hit the WTC between the 94th and 98th floors where they ended up “only” killing less than half of the 3,056 people that died, when they could have hit their enemies’ number one target?

 The mastermind behind these “terrorists” hijackers would have soon figured out their best and only shot against the strongest military foe in the world would have been to hit them first and hit them as hard as you can. Why didn’t they hit Indian Point?

 If the terrorists were targeting the WTC, don’t you think they would have waited until around 11:00 when these buildings were full with 50,000 plus people? And of course, to cause the most deaths and destruction isn’t it elementary to strike these buildings as low as possible, which would have been around the 30th floor?

 So, why did this well planned “terrorist” attack kill only 3,056 people when they could have easily killed ten times that many? This reasoning also goes along with the Pentagon attack. Why was the Pentagon hit on the so-called “peaceful” west side, which was mostly under construction as opposed to the command center east side of the Pentagon?

 If one plane didn’t do the job at Indian Point, two planes most definitely would have done the job. United Airlines Flight 175 also flew very close to Indian Point; it was literally within a couple of minutes flying time.

If two planes didn’t do the job (one should and two will), a third plane, United Airlines Flight 93 a Boeing 757-222 will lift off in 3 minutes from Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey bound for San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California. Newark International Airport is within 10 minutes flying time of Indian Point.

So three of these airliners could have hit Indian Point within about 13 minutes of each other, between 8:39 and 8:52, if they had wanted to. The whole northeast corridor from New York City to Boston would instantly become a wasteland for thousands of years.

Jet [757 / 767] Could Wreck Three Mile Island, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Admits http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/JetCouldWreckNuclearNRCAdmits.htm

 8:40 a.m. Nasty and Duff are the code names of the two F-15 pilots from the 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts who would scramble after United Airlines Flight 175. Nasty says that at this time, a colleague tells him that a flight out of Boston has been hijacked, and to be on alert. They put on their flight gear and get ready. 

8:40 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notifies NORAD that American Airlines Flight 11 has been hijacked. Even NORAD officially admitted that the FAA told them about the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 at 8:40. As mentioned earlier, American Airlines Flight 11 lost voice contact with ATC at 8:13:31 – so for 26 minutes and 29 seconds nothing has been done. American Airlines Flight 11 lost its transponder at 8:20 – so for 20 minutes nothing has been done. This doesn’t happen.

OK, the FAA notifies NORAD that American Airlines Flight 11 has been hijacked – what does NORAD do? Do they immediately scramble the 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts? No they don’t, they sit on this most vital information. Stand Down.

At 8:46 a.m. you will see what NORAD finally does with this critically vital information.

NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

8:41:32 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 last communication with the New York ATC: We figured we’d wait to go to your center. We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from BOS [Boston] sounds like someone keyed the mike and said everyone stay in your seats.

8:42 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 a Boeing 757-222 with a maximum capacity of 200 passengers and 11,489 gallons of fuel, lifts off from Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey bound for San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California. Take-off was scheduled for 8:01. There are supposed to be 44 victims on board, yet when you add up the official death manifest list that was published on CNN.com, there are only 33 victims.

 8:42 a.m.: An air traffic controller says of United Airlines Flight 175, looks like he’s heading southbound but there’s no transponder no nothing and no one’s talking to him.

8:43 a.m.: The FAA notifies NORAD that United Airlines Flight 175 has been hijacked. NORAD has officially admitted that the FAA told them about the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 175 at 8:43. So, now NORAD knows about two hijackings – and American Airlines Flight 11 has been barreling down on New York City since turning south at 8:26, and is just 3 minutes away from impacting the WTC. What does NORAD do with this new information? Do they immediately scramble the 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts? Again, no they don’t, they sit on this most vital information of now two hijacked airliners. Stand Down.

 8:46 a.m.: NORAD orders the 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts to scramble two of their F-15 fighters. This is from the 102nd Fighter Wing’s mission statement of September 11, 2001. “Our aircraft and their crews are on continuous 24-hour, 365-day alert to guard our skies. The 102nd Fighter Wing’s area of responsibility includes over 500,000 square miles, 90 million people, and the major industrial centers of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.”

 NORAD, by their own account, held on to the most vital information of American Airlines Flight 11 hijacking for at least 6 minutes before ordering Otis to scramble. NORAD, by their own account, held on to the most vital information of United Airlines Flight 175 hijacking for at least 3 minutes before ordering Otis to scramble.

 NORAD may have held on to the vital information of American Airlines Flight 11 for perhaps 8 minutes, maybe 10 minutes (see 8:36 a.m. statement by NORAD spokesman, Major Mike Snyder), possibly up to 26 minutes (see 8:20 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 transponder signal stopped transmitting its IFF beacon signal) and let us not forget that the last voice transmission of American Airlines Flight 11 with Boston air traffic control occurred at 8:13:31, so maybe NORAD had over 32 minutes before they notified Otis to scramble their two F-15’s.

 How could NORAD possibly hold on to the 8:40 information of the American Airlines Flight 11 hijacking, and not immediately scrambled Otis? How could NORAD possibly hold on to the 8:43 information of the United Airlines Flight 175 hijacking, and not have immediately scrambled Otis? How could NORAD, by their own account, hold on to the most vital information of both of these hijackings for three and six full minutes, before notifying Otis to scramble? Stand Down.

 Knowing that New York City and Washington D.C. are far and away the top two cities in the United States that would be targeted by terrorists, don’t you think we would have also ordered Langley AFB to scramble at 8:46 a.m. to protect Washington D.C.? NORAD says they actually waited till 9:24 a.m. to order Langley AFB to scramble. Thirty-eight minutes went by before anyone bothers to order fighters to scramble to protect Washington D.C.? No way. This is the big time Smoking Gun Stand Down.

NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

 8:46:26 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 impacts the north side of the North Tower (1 World Trade Center) of the WTC between the 94th and 98th floors. American Airlines Flight 11 was flying at a speed of 490 miles per hour (MPH).

 When American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower, “it set up vibrations which were transmitted through the building, through its foundation, and into the ground,” says Lerner-Lam. Those vibrations, as indicated by seismographs at Lamont-Doherty and other locations, were the equivalent of a magnitude 0.9 earthquake, one too small to be felt.

 8:46 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 transponder signal stops transmitting IFF beacon signal.

 8:47 a.m.: The FAA informed NORAD of American Airlines Flight 11 striking the World Trade Center. NORAD says it doesn’t tell the two F-15 pilots now scrambling to take-off from Otis that American Airlines Flight 11 has hit the WTC until 8:57. Why not? Especially when there is another hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175, so close to New York City — and at 8:49 it turns and heads straight on for New York City?

 8:47 a.m.: NYC Fire Battalion Chief Joe Pfeiffer from the 7th Battalion puts out an emergency call stating that American Airlines Flight 11 impacting the north side of the North Tower (1 World Trade Center) was no accident. The plane’s impact was clearly a deliberate attack an intentional act of mass death and devastation.

 As the small video crew (who shot the only video of American Airlines Flight 11 impacting the WTC – the fireman video) and firemen that had eye-witnessed the first plane hit the WTC were racing to the location, Chief Pfeiffer sounded red alerts over the radio and phone; specifically stating that what they witnessed was a “direct attack” and that the airliner was clearly being directed straight at the WTC and the incident was definitely not any kind of accident.

 8:48 a.m.: The first news reports appear on TV and radio that a plane may have crashed into the WTC.

 8:49 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 now deviates from its assigned flight path.

 8:50:51 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 last radio communication, about 285 miles west of the Pentagon.

 8:52 a.m.: Two F-15 Eagles have scrambled and are airborne from the 102nd Fighter Wing of Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts. An F-15 has a top speed of 1875+ MPH. Otis is 153 miles (according to The New York Times) eastnortheast of the WTC. They are airborne within 6 minutes of their 8:46 scramble orders. Good job. So, 38 minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 has been hijacked we finally have fighters in the air. But they still don’t know American Airlines Flight 11 has crashed into the WTC or that United Airlines Flight 175 has turned and has been heading straight toward New York City now for 3 minutes. Why not? Stand Down.

 8:53 a.m.: A flight controller says to other airplanes in the sky about United Airlines Flight 175, “We may have a hijack. We have some problems over here right now.”

 8:55 a.m.: Barbara Olson, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, calls her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olson at the Justice Department. He is watching the WTC news on TV. She tells him, ”they had box cutters and knives. They rounded up the passengers at the back of the plane.” She asks him, “What should I tell the pilot to do?” She gets cuts off; he calls the Justice Department’s command center to alert them of the hijacking. She calls back and says the plane is turning around. She appears to have been the only person on American Airlines Flight 77 to call someone on the ground. Why is she the only person who calls from American Airlines Flight 77?

8:56 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 transponder signal stops.

8:56 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 goes off course and starts making a 180 degree turn over southern Ohio / northeastern Kentucky.

 8:57 a.m. The FAA formally notified the military that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the WTC. Until then, the two F-15’s fighters from Otis did not know the plane had crashed — Yet at 8:47 a.m. NORAD had been notified. Why does it take over 10 minutes to inform the two F-15 pilots of this? Do the two F-15 pilots know United Airlines Flight 175 has changed course, and for the last eight minutes has been heading directly for New York City? Stand Down.

 8:59 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 completes its 180 degree turn over southern Ohio / northeastern Kentucky and starts heading directly back to Washington D.C. and The Pentagon, 330 miles away.

 9:00 a.m.: United Airlines systems operations transmitted a system wide message, warning its pilots of a potential “cockpit intrusion”. United Airlines Flight 93, flying over Pennsylvania replies “Confirmed”.

 9:00 a.m.: Last radar reading on United Airlines Flight 175 is observed at an altitude of 18,000 feet, descending, with a ground speed of 480 knots.

 9:00 a.m. The FAA starts contacting all airliners to warn them of the hijacking.

 9:00 a.m.: The Pentagon moves its alert status up one notch from normal to Alpha. It stays on Alpha until after American Airlines Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.

 9:01 a.m.: Bush later makes the following statement. “And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower — the TV was obviously on, and I used to fly myself, and I said, ‘There’s one terrible pilot.’ And I said, ‘It must have been a horrible accident.’ But I was whisked off from there — I didn’t have much time to think about it.” Bush could not have possibly seen the first plane (American Airlines Flight 11) hit the WTC, because the only video showing this was not shown on television till later in the day. So how could he have possibly seen and said this?

 9:02:54 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 impacts the south side of the South Tower of the WTC between the 78th and 84th floors at a speed of over 500 MPH. Parts of the plane including an engine leave the building from its north side, to be found on the ground up to six blocks away.

 When United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower, “it set up vibrations which were transmitted through the building, through its foundation, and into the ground,” says Lerner-Lam. Those vibrations, as indicated by seismographs at Lamont-Doherty and other locations, were the equivalent of a magnitude 0.7 earthquake.

NORAD says that when United Airlines Flight 175 impacts the WTC at 9:02:54, the two F-15′s from Otis are still 71 miles away. This means their average flight speed was only 23.9% of their top speed in trying to intercept United Airlines Flight 175.

Otis is 153 miles from WTC. F-15′s have a top speed of 1875+ MPH. Minus 71 miles left from 153 miles equals 82 miles covered in the 11 minutes from 8:52 take-off to 9:03. Sixty minutes divided by 11 minutes equals 5.45, times this by the 82 miles covered, equals 447.3 MPH. divided by 1875 MPH equals 23.9% of their top speed. How could these two F-15’s possibly be going less than one quarter of their top speed in trying to intercept United Airlines Flight 175? How? Stand Down.

The following passages are from a BBC article published on August 30, 2002. Two of the pilots patrolling northeast America told the programme how they struggled to get to New York as fast as possible after the first plane had hit the World Trade Center. Pilots “Duff” and “Nasty” recalled they were only minutes away when the second plane hit the towers. Pilot Duff said: “For a long time I wondered what would have happened if we had been scrambled in time. “We’ve been over the flight a thousand times in our minds and I don’t know what we could have done to get there any quicker.”

Perhaps if they flew a little faster than 23.9% of their top speed is how.

 US Considered ‘Suicide Jet Missions’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2222205.stm

 The F-15 pilots flew ”like a scalded ape,” topping 500 MPH but were unable to catch up to the airliner [United Airliners Flight 175], Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver said.

 National Guard Fighters Raced After 2 Airliners http://www.staugustine.com/stories/091601/ter_0916010027.shtml

 Now the only airliner left in the sky with its IFF transponder signal off — has just made a 180 degree turn over southern Ohio / northeastern Kentucky and has been heading directly back to Washington D.C. and The Pentagon since 8:59 a.m. — is American Airlines Flight 77. Why didn’t these two F-15’s that were 71 miles from NYC and the WTC, immediately redirect to intercept the only dangerous airliner now in the sky, American Airlines Flight 77?

These two F-15’s had 34 minutes to reach Washington D.C. before American Airlines Flight 77 hits the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. The mission of these two F-15’s from the 102nd Fighter Wing of the Otis Air National Guard Base is to protect the skies from Washington D.C. to the north. The F-15 has a top speed of 1875+ MPH, so they could have closed the 300 or so miles from their current position to Washington D.C. in just about 11 minutes. At top speed they could have been at the Pentagon 23 minutes before American Airlines Flight 77 hits it.

Even if they were flying at the same speed NORAD says that they covered in the last 71 miles till they reach the WTC (532.5 MPH or only 28.4% of top speed) they would have beaten American Airlines Flight 77 to the Pentagon. Why didn’t these two F-15’s directly fly to intercept the only known airliner still in the sky that is hijacked, and heading directly for the nations capitol?

Still, much worse, why didn’t these two F-15’s upon reaching the WTC at 9:11 and now knowing that American Airlines Flight 77 has been heading dead on for Washington D.C. for 12 minutes, finally try to intercept? The WTC is about 250 miles from the Pentagon. They still have 26 minutes to intercept American Airlines Flight 77 before the Pentagon gets hit at 9:37. All they have to do is to fly only 576.9 MPH or 30.8% of their top speed to beat American Airlines Flight 77 to the Pentagon. What do we pay these guys to do?

Still, unbelievably worse, these two F-15’s could have waited in New York City till 9:26 before heading down to protect Washington D.C. and the Pentagon. By 9:26 American Airlines Flight 77 has now been heading directly back to Washington D.C. for 27 minutes, it is the only airliner in the sky with its transponder signal off, and has been off course for 30 minutes. If these F-15’s were flying at top speed, they could be at the Pentagon in less than 10 minutes. They can leave New York City at 9:26 and still beat American Airlines Flight 77 to the Pentagon by one minute. Why didn’t these F-15’s leave at any time between 9:03 and 9:26 to intercept American Airlines Flight 77, the only airliner in the sky with its transponder signal off, and also off course and heading straight do Washington D.C.? Why, NORAD? Stand Down.

NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

There is a very interesting video of what looks like a possible F-15 streaking by the WTC just as United Airlines Flight 175 impacts the South Tower of the WTC. Why isn’t anyone talking about this video?

 Take a look for yourself at: http://www.MyCountryRightOrWrong.net/F-15.htm

 9:03 a.m.: Boston air traffic control center halts traffic from its airports to all New York area airspace.

 9:05 a.m.: Andrew Card walks up to Bush while he is listening to a Goat Story with 16 second graders in Sandra Kay Daniels’s class at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Card whispers in his ear “A second plane has hit the World Trade Center. America is under attack.” Bush (commander-and-chief?) keeps listening to this Goat Story with these children for at least 7 minutes, and perhaps as long as 18 minutes. Why he didn’t excuse himself from these children right away, and immediately address this national emergency, is totally illogical and unexplainable.

There is no way this should have happened. What of course should have happened, was as soon as the secret service found out about United Airlines Flight 175 impacting the WTC (now knowing it was a “terrorist” act), they would have immediatly grabbed Bush and brought him to an undisclosed location. There is no way the secret service leaves Bush in a place (Emma E. Booker Elementary School) where everyone knows he is. Stand Down.

9:05 a.m.: West Virginia flight control notices a new eastbound plane entering their radar with no radio contact and no transponder identification. They are not sure if it is American Airlines Flight 77. Supposedly they wait another 19 minutes before notifying NORAD about it.

 Why hasn’t NORAD scrambled any fighters to protect Washington D.C. by 9:05? How could they not have? Two airliners have already hit the WTC. Nine minutes ago the transponder on American Airlines Flight 77 was shut off and it made a 180 degree turn and has been heading directly for Washington D.C. for 6 minutes. Perhaps now would be a good time to remember that New York City and Washington D.C. are far and away the top two cities in the United States that would be targeted by terrorists. Why hasn’t NORAD scrambled any fighters to protect Washington D.C. by 9:05? Stand Down.

9:06 a.m.: Order to halt traffic is expanded to include the entire northeast from Washington to Cleveland. FAA’s air traffic control center outside Washington D.C. notifies all air traffic facilities nationwide of the suspected hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11.

9:06 a.m.: The FAA formally notified the military that United Airlines Flight 175 had been hijacked.

 9:08 a.m.: FAA orders all aircraft to leave New York area airspace and orders all New York-bound planes nationwide to stay on the ground.

 9:10 a.m. to 9:20 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked.

 9:11 a.m.: The two F-15 Eagles from Otis Air National Guard station in Falmouth; Massachusetts finally make it to NYC and the WTC. So, it takes these two F-15’s, which have a top speed of 1875+ MPH, 19 minutes to cover the 153 miles from Otis to the WTC. This means their average flight speed from Otis to the WTC was only 483.2 MPH or just 25.8% of their top speed. A little math exposes these window dressing fighters for what they are. Thank you NORAD for your September 18, 20001 Press Release. Stand Down.

 9:12 a.m.: The FAA formally notified the military that United Airlines Flight 175 had crashed into the WTC.

 9:15 a.m.: American Airlines orders no new takeoffs in the United States.

 9:16 a.m. to 9:20: The FAA notifies NORAD that United Airlines Flight 93 has been hijacked. (Reported as 9:20 a.m. in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) No fighters are scrambled in specific response, now or later. There is the possibility the fighters sent after American Airlines Flight 77 later headed towards United Airlines Flight 93. NORAD’s own timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about the hijack. This is the only flight NORAD fails to provide this data for. Why? Stand Down.

 9:17 a.m.: The FAA shuts down all New York City area airports.

 9:20 a.m.: United Airlines orders no new takeoffs in the United States.

 9:21 a.m.: New York City Port Authority orders all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area closed.

9:22 a.m.: A sonic boom occurs, which was picked up by an earthquake monitor in southern Pennsylvania, 60 miles away from Shanksville. This was most likely caused by a fighter jet breaking the sound barrier.
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=30682  

9:23 a.m.: Bush talks privately with Cheney, his National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller and Governor George Pataki of New York. Why does Bush wait from 9:05 (when Card tells him of United Airlines Flight 175 hitting the WTC) till 9:23 to finally call? He still does not give the authority to the fighters to shoot down any hostile airliners (fighters do not need his OK to intercept – that should have of course happen automatically [but didn’t -- or it was IGNORAD ] – his orders are only needed to shoot down a commercial airliner). What is he waiting for?

9:24 a.m.: The FAA notifies NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 has been hijacked. The FAA lost contact with American Airlines Flight 77 when the transponder signal stops at 8:56 a.m. — Why does it take 28 minutes for the FAA to tell NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 has been hijacked? Impossible. Stand Down.

9:24 a.m.: NORAD orders the 1st Fighter Wing from Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia to scramble two, possibly three F-16 fighters. This time NORAD does not sit on this vital information for six minutes (or more) before notifying Langley AFB (like they did before they scrambled Otis). Langley is 130 miles south of Washington D.C. and the Pentagon. The F-16 has a top speed of 1500 MPH.

Why wasn’t Langley AFB scrambled at 8:20 or 8:40 or 8:46:26 or at the very least at 9:02:54? How could NORAD possibly have waited the 21 minutes from the time United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the WTC at 9:02:54 before finally scrambling Langley at 9:24? Waiting these 21 extra minutes to finally scramble Langley is the real smoking gun Stand Down that no one can get around.

Inconceivably, Andrews Air Force Base, with its two fighters wings only about 11 miles from the Pentagon never got off the ground, till after everything was over. They must have been told to Stand Down. This Stand Down that happened at Andrews AFB is the same thing that happened with the at least 35 Air Stations that were easily within distance to protect us of all of these hijackings. They were all told to Stand Down.

The following link lists the 7 bases on full alert and the 28 that were within range.
http://www.StandDown.net/USAFbases.htm

 9:25 a.m.: Air traffic controllers inform the United States Secret Service that American Airlines Flight 77 is approaching Washington D.C.

 9:26 a.m.: The FAA halts takeoffs nationwide. All airborne international flights are told to land in Canada.

 9:26 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 – Passenger, Barbara K. Olson again calls her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olson at the Justice Department to tell him about the hijacking and to report that the passengers and pilots were held in the back of the plane. Again she is the only person who makes a call from American Airlines Flight 77. Isn’t it very strange that is she the only person to call, not once but twice?

 9:28 a.m. United Airlines Flight 93 — An open microphone aboard reveals someone in the cockpit saying, “Get out of here!”

 9:28 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93, “there are the first audible signs of problems, in background cockpit noise.” Air traffic controllers hear the sound of screaming and scuffling over an open mike. They then hear hijackers speaking in Arabic to each other. Yet this is at least 8 minutes and maybe 12 minutes after the hijackers had taken over the cockpit and done something to cause the FAA to notify NORAD of United Airlines Flight 93′s hijacking.

 9:30 a.m.: Two, possibly three F-16 Fighting Falcons code-named Huntress take off from Langley AFB headed at first toward at NYC. A couple of minutes into their mission, according to General Haugen “A person came on the radio and identified themselves as being with the Secret Service” and said, “I want you to protect the White House at all costs.” The F-16’s laid in a new course and vectored to Washington D.C. Since both Washington D.C. and New York City are both north of Langley, and this happened within a couple of minutes of take-off, this was not a factor in why these F-16 fighters were flying so slow. 

Why were these fighters headed to NYC when American Airlines Flight 77 has been headed directly for Washington D.C. for the last 31 minutes, and with their communication and transponder turned off for 34 minutes? There are no airliners headed for NYC or anywhere else with their communication and transponders turned off. Also, at 9:25 air traffic controllers have already informed the United States Secret Service in Washington D.C. that American Airlines Flight 77 is approaching them very fast. So why are these F-16’s first flying toward NYC? Stand Down.

 9:30 a m.: Bush, speaking to the nation from Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, says the country has suffered an “apparent terrorist attack” and “a national tragedy.” He would chase down, “those folks who committed this act.” Bush also said, “Terrorism against our nation will not stand.” It was an echo of “This will not stand,” the words his father, George H. W. Bush, had used a few days after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990-in Bush’s opinion, one of his father’s finest moments.

 Also, during this address to the country Bush promised a full investigation into the attack. Well here we are 16 months later, after everything Bush could possibly do to stop an investigation, and we are finally getting a so-called 911 investigation. That Henry Kissinger and George Mitchell quit as chair and vice chair is very interesting. Of course, having appointed killer Kissinger to lead the 911 investigation in the first place was like saying, welcome to the Twilight Zone. Did Kissinger quit because some of his clients were about to be exposed and tried by him? A little conflict of interest Henry? 

This address to the country should have been said at least 15 to 20 minutes earlier. But of course he had much more important business to attend to, he was listening to the Goat Story with the 16 second graders from 9:05 till at least 9:12 and possibly as long as 9:23.

 Bush speaking to the country from Emma E. Booker Elementary School.
http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/BushAtEmmaEBookerSchool.mov

85) 9:30 a.m.: United Airlines begins landing all of its flights inside the United States.

 9:32 a.m.: Secret Service agents burst into Cheney’s White House office. They carry him under his arms — nearly lifting him off the ground — and take him to the security of the underground bunker in the White House basement. What took them so long? 

9:32 a.m.: The New York Stock Exchange closed. 

9:33 a.m.: According to The New York Times, American Airlines Flight 77 was lost at 8:56 when it turned off its transponder, and stayed lost until now. Washington air traffic control sees a fast moving blip on their radar at this time and sends a warning to Dulles Airport in Washington. Is it conceivable that an airplane could be lost inside United States air space for 37 minutes? Stand Down.

 9:35 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 goes off course near Cleveland, Ohio where it makes a 135 degree turn, and is now headed to the southeast. United Airlines Flight 93 is 375 miles from Newark, New Jersey and 280 miles from where it was now headed, Washington D.C.

 Also reported about United Airlines Flight 93: ABC News has learned that shortly before the plane changed directions, someone in the cockpit radioed in and asked the FAA for a new flight plan, with a final destination of Washington. This should have been a big red flag, a problem aircraft usually diverts to the nearest field. Did the Pilot do this to signal Air Traffic Control?

 9:35 a.m.: American Airlines begins landing all of its flights inside the United States.

 9:36 a.m.: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport instructs a military C130 aircraft that had just departed Andrews Air Force base to try to identify American Airlines Flight 77. The C130 reports it is a 767 and it is moving low and very fast.

 9:37 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 is lost from radar screens and impacts the western side of the Pentagon. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated, unoccupied offices. The Pentagon says American Airlines Flight 77 hits them at 9:37. Other published reports have American Airlines Flight 77 striking at 9:40 to 9:43; The New York Times even published 9:45. (The photos taken before the Pentagon “E Section” collapses at 10:10 a.m. show a hole that sure does not look like a Boeing 757-223 hit it. There were no holes in the Pentagon where both jet engines would have gone through? Why?)

 At 9:37 NORAD says the F-16’s from Langley were still 105 miles and 12 minutes away. Incredibly, this means their average flight speed was only 14.3% of their top speed in trying to intercept United Airlines Flight 175 before it hits the Pentagon. If these F-16’s flew at top speed, they would have been there just after 9:37.

 Langley is 130 miles from the Pentagon. F-16′s have a top speed of 1500 MPH. Minus 105 miles left from 130 miles equals 25 miles covered in the 7 minutes from 9:30 take-off to 9:37. 60 minutes divided by 7 minutes equals 8.57, times this by the 25 miles covered, equals 214.3 MPH. divided by 1500 MPH equals 14.3% of their top speed. How could these two F-15’s possibly be going one seventh of their top speed in trying to intercept American Airlines Flight 77? Even the story about first flying to NYC does not account for this unbelievably slow speed because they got the message to redirect to Washington D.C. within a couple of minutes of take-off, and NYC and Washington D.C. are almost exactly the same direction (north) from Langley. Stand Down.

 Three more of the 7 air stations on full alert were within range of Washington D.C. Tyndall AFB in Panama City, Florida is 800 miles from Washington D.C., from the time they scramble and flying at top speed, they could have reached Washington D.C. in 35 to 40 minutes. Homestead ARB in Homestead, Florida is 1000 miles from Washington D.C. from the time they scramble and flying at top speed, they could have reached Washington D.C. in 45 to 50 minutes. Ellington ANG in Houston, Texas is 1250 miles from Washington D.C. from the time they scramble and flying at top speed, they could have reached Washington D.C. in 55 to 60 minutes.

Remember at 8:40 the FAA notifies NORAD that American Airlines Flight 11 has been hijacked and at 8:43 a.m. the FAA notifies NORAD that United Airlines Flight 175 has been hijacked. So at 8:43 a full 54 minutes before American Airlines Flight 77 hits the Pentagon, NORAD admits to knowing about these two airlines being hijacked. With a 54 minute start — besides of course Otis ANG who were already in the air (at 8:52) and Langley AFB fighters (finally ordered to scramble at 9:24 – airborne at 9:30), both Tyndall AFB and Homestead ARB fighters could have beaten American Airlines Flight 77 to the Pentagon and Ellington ANG fighters had an outside chance. Of course both air stations in Florida, Tyndall AFB and Homestead ARB, should have been sent to protect Air Force One in Sarasota — but incredibly they weren’t sent there either.

At 8:56 the transponder on American Airlines Flight 77 stops sending the IFF beacon. This is 41 minutes before it hits the Pentagon. Again besides of course Otis ANG and Langley AFB fighters, if ordered to scramble at 8:56 Tyndall AFB fighters could have still beaten American Airlines Flight 77 to the Pentagon. Stand Down.

 NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

 AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

 9:38 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 completes its 135 degree turn and is headed directly towards Washington D.C.

 9:40 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 transponder signal stops.

 9:40 a.m.: Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, summoned by the White House to the bunker, was on an open line to the Federal Aviation Administration operations center, monitoring Flight 77 as it hurtled toward Washington, with radar tracks coming every seven seconds. Reports came that the plane was 50 miles out, 30 miles out, 10 miles out-until word reached the bunker that there had been an explosion at the Pentagon.

 Mineta shouted into the phone to Monte Belger at the FAA: “Monte, bring all the planes down.” It was an unprecedented order — there were 4,546 airplanes in the air at the time. Belger, the FAA’s acting deputy administrator, amended Mineta’s directive to take into account the authority vested in airline pilots. “We’re bringing them down per pilot discretion,” Belger told the secretary.

 ”Fuck pilot discretion,” Mineta yelled back. “Get those goddamn planes down.”

 The FAA stops all flight operations at U.S. airports and orders all planes in the air to land at the nearest airport. No civilian aircraft are allowed to lift off. This is the first time all commercial flights in the U.S. have been suspended. Only military and medical flights are allowed to fly.

 9:42 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham calls his mother. “Mom, this is Mark Bingham,” he said, nervously. “I want to let you know that I love you. I’m calling from the plane. We’ve been taken over. There are three men that say they have a bomb.”

 97) 9:45 a.m.: Bush’s motorcade leaves the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida headed for Air Force One at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

 9:45 a.m. to 9:48 a.m.: The Capitol and the White House are evacuated.

 9:47 a.m.: Commanders worldwide were ordered to raise their threat alert status four notches to “Delta”, the highest level, to defend United States facilities. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld raised the defense condition signaling of the United States offensive readiness-to DefCon 3, the highest it had been since the Arab-Israeli war in 1973. United States officials also sent a message to the Russians, who were planning a military exercise not far from Alaska, urging them to rethink their plans.

 9:49 a.m.: The F-16’s from Langley AFB finally arrive over Washington, D.C. to perform Combat Air Patrol over the city. It takes these F-16’s 19 minutes to reach Washington D.C. from Langley AFB which is about 130 miles to the south.

 If these F-16’s were flying at top speed it should have taken them just over 7 minutes to reach the Pentagon. They should have been there at about the same time the Pentagon is hit by American Airlines Flight 77, at 9:37.

 By arriving in Washington D.C. at 9:49, that would mean these F-16’s average flight speed was only 410.5 MPH. This means their average flight speed was only 27.4% of their top speed in trying to protect our nations capital. Langley AFB is 130 miles from the Pentagon and F-16′s have a top speed of 1500 MPH. 60 minutes divided by 19 minutes = 3.16 x 130 miles = 410.5 MPH divided by 1500 MPH = 27.4%.

 These F-16’s took-off at 9:30, this is 43 minutes after American Airlines 11 impacts the North Tower of the WTC and 27 minutes after United Airlines Flight 175 slams into the South Tower of the WTC. Knowing this, these F-16’s fly at only 14.3% (overall 27.4%) of their top speed in trying to intercept American Airlines Flight 77 and protect our nations capital, Washington D.C. How could that possibly be?

 Why were all of these ultra-sophisticated fighter jets averaging flight speeds only one quarter of their top speed when sent to intercept hostile aircraft and protect New York City and our nation’s Capital, Washington D.C.? What exactly is the purpose of these fighter jets being able to go 1875+ MPH and 1500 MPH, yet when the United States is being attacked and needs them the most they are only somehow capable of doing one quarter of their top speed? Stand Down.

 The United States Air Force is the most technologically advanced, and the most dominate military force ever known to man, and yet we didn’t have any other fighters on routine patrols or training missions anywhere within 1000 miles of New York City or Washington D. C. that morning? I have talked to a few people in the Air Force, and this is totally impossible. There are always fighters up on routine patrols or training missions. So where were they?

 And lastly, why didn’t the Air Force follow procedure and immediately scramble to monitor any of these 4 flights like they did for the late great golfer Payne Stewart when his Lear jet went off course? This is not Oshkosh, Wisconsin we are talking about protecting here, it is New York City and the Capital of the United States, Washington D.C., and its air defenses were left total unguarded for one hour and twenty-three minutes (from 8:14 to 9:37) (or one hour and thirty-five minutes — F-15 arrived in DC at 9:49) by the same country who have the greatest air superiority by far ever known. What type of a preposterous wag of the NORAD tale is this?

 Both of these groups of fighters, the F-15’s out of Otis, and the F-16’s out of Langley were put in the air merely as window dressing. To make the public actually think they were valiantly trying to intercept these 4 hijacked planes. There is only one explanation for this — our Air Force was ordered to Stand Down on 911.

NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

 9:55 a.m.: Bush arrives at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and boards Air Force One. 

9:55 a.m.: Inside his White House bunker, a military aide asks Cheney, “There is a plane 80 miles out. There is a fighter in the area. Should we engage?” Cheney immediately says, “Yes.” As the fighter gets nearer to United Airlines Flight 93, he is asked the same thing twice more, and responds yes both times.

 9:58 a.m.: Confrontation with the hijackers and the passengers begins aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Emergency dispatcher in Pennsylvania receives a call from a passenger on Flight 93. The passenger says: “We are being hijacked!”

 9:58 a.m.: A frantic male passenger onboard United Airlines Flight 93 called the 911 emergency number, he told the operator, named Glen Cramer, that he had locked himself inside one of the toilets. Cramer told the AP, in a report that was widely broadcast on September 11th, that the passenger had spoken for one minute. “We’re being hijacked, we’re being hijacked!” the man screamed into his mobile phone. “We confirmed that with him several times,” Cramer said, “and we asked him to repeat what he said. He was very distraught. He said he believed the plane was going down. He did hear some sort of an explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane, but he didn’t know where. And then we lost contact with him.” This was the last cell phone call made from any passengers on any of the hijacked planes.

 9:59 a.m.: Air Force One Departs Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, Sarasota, Florida bound for Washington D.C. Air Force One departed with no extra military protection. This is totally impossible. Two of the 7 military air stations we had on full alert to protect the continental United States that day were based in Florida. Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead is 185 miles and the Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City is 235 miles from Sarasota and Air Force One.

 These two air stations should have been ordered to scramble their fighters at 8:20 or 8:40 or 8:43 or 8:46:26 or 9:02:54 or 9:24 or at the very least at 9:37. From the time these two Air stations should have been scrambled and flying at top speed, both of these air stations fighters could have been in Sarasota within 16 to 18 minutes to protect Air Force One. Even if both Air stations waited on the ground with their 4 fighters till the Pentagon gets hit at 9:37, all 4 fighters could have scrambled and been at Sarasota 4 to 6 minutes before Air Force One takes-off at 9:59. Where were the fighters from both of these air stations? Did both of these air stations have something better to do that day than protect Air Force One? Please, this just does not happen. Why is no one else in the world is asking this question? Stand Down. 

Also, is the place to be in the air when there are still a couple of thousand airliners in the air deviating from their normal flight plans to land, and who knew then how many of them were hostile or not?

 We have captured and saved the video of Bush as he arrives at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, and the take-off of Air Force One. Go to: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/AirForceOneLeavingSarasota.ra

 Also, please take a look at the August 30, 2002 BBC article which states: In the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks US fighter planes took to the skies to defend America from any further attacks. Their mission was to protect pResident George W. Bush and to intercept any hijacked aircraft heading to other targets in the US. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2222205.stm

 9:59:04 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center suddenly collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris quickly fills lower Manhattan. It is later explained that the collapse was not directly caused by the impact, but the intense heat caused by the fire fueled by the jet’s fuel weakening the steel support beams of the concrete floors. The WTC towers were built to withstand a 707 being flown into them. A 767 carries almost the same amount of fuel as a 707.

 Seismographs at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, 21 miles north of the WTC, recorded very interesting seismic activity on September 11, 2001 that has still not been explained.

 While the aircraft crashes caused minimal earth shaking, significant earthquakes with unusual spikes occurred at the beginning of each collapse. The Palisades seismic data recorded a 2.1 magnitude earthquake during the 10-second collapse of the South Tower at 9:59:04 and a 2.3 quake during the 9-second collapse of the North Tower at 10:28:31.

 The Palisades seismic record shows that — as the collapses began — a huge seismic “spikes” marked the moment the greatest energy went into the ground. The strongest jolts were both registered at the beginning of the collapses, well before the falling debris struck the earth.

 These unexplained “spikes” in the seismic data tends to lend credence to the theory that perhaps a massive explosion(s) in the lowest level of the basements where the supporting steel columns of the WTC met the bedrock caused the collapses.

 Also, the collapses of the south tower at 9:59:04 took only 10 seconds while the collapse of the north tower at 10:28:31 took only 9 seconds, this is only slightly more than a free fall from the same height, indicating that there was very little resistance. Yet the floors themselves are quite robust, each one is 39″ thick; the top 4″ is a poured concrete slab, with interlocking vertical steel trusses underneath. This steel would absorb a lot of kinetic energy by crumpling as one floor fell onto another. So how did both of the towers fall so quickly?

 10:00 a.m.: Bill Wright is flying a small plane when an air traffic controller asks him to look around outside his window. He sees United Airlines Flight 93 three miles away – close enough to see the United Airlines colors. Air traffic control asks him the plane’s altitude, and then commands him to get away from the plane and land immediately. Wright saw the plan rock back and forth three or four times before he flew from the area. He speculates that the hijackers were trying to throw off the attacking passengers.

 10:00 a.m.: The NRC tells all nuclear power stations to go to the highest level of alert.

 10:01 a.m.: The FAA orders F-16 fighters to scramble from Toledo, Ohio. Although the base has no fighters on stand-by alert status, it manages to put fighters in the air 16 minutes later, a “phenomenal” response time – but still 11 minutes after the last hijacked plane has crashed.

 One interesting aspect is that NORAD has explained that it didn’t scramble fighters from bases nearer to the hijacked planes because they only used bases in the NORAD defensive network (Seven bases were on fully armed alert covering the continental United States). Yet this Toledo base wasn’t part of that network, so why weren’t planes in this base and other bases scrambled an hour or more earlier? Could it be that they were scrambled earlier, and that it was one of these F-16′s that tailed Flight 93? While it hasn’t been reported in the media yet, note this recent claim by a seismologist that there was a sonic boom in Western Pennsylvania at 9:22. Could that have been a fighter tracking United Airlines Flight 93?

 10:02 a.m.: After a review of radar tapes, a radar signal of United Airlines Flight 93 is detected near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

 10:03 a.m.: According to the FBI, the cockpit voice recorder stops and United Airlines Flight 93 crashes near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in Somerset county, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

 10:04 a.m.: Johnstown-Cambria County Airport reports United Airlines Flight 93 is 15 miles south.

 10:06:05 a.m.: According to seismic data, United Airlines Flight 93 crashes near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in Somerset county, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. This is also 124 miles or 15 minutes away at 500 MPH from Washington D.C. An eyewitness reports seeing a white plane resembling a fighter jet circling the site just after the crash.

 The F-16′s from Langley AFB arrived in Washington D.C at 9:49 a.m. The F-16 has a top speed of 1500 MPH. After the Pentagon gets hit by American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37, there is only one airliner left in the sky with its transponder signal off, and once again heading directly for Washington D.C., and that is United Airlines Flight 93. Flying at top speed these F-16’s could have intercepted United Airlines Flight 93 within 5 to 8 minutes depending on when they would have left. Why didn’t these F-16’s try to intercept United Airlines Flight 93? How could they not go after the only threat in the sky yet once again? Stand Down.

 Listen to what a former Pentagon air traffic controller says “All those years ago when I was at the Pentagon, this wouldn’t have happened. ATC Radar images were (and are) available in the understructures of the Pentagon, and any commercial flight within 300 miles of Washington D.C. that made an abrupt course change toward Washington D.C., or turned off their transponder and refused to communicate with ATC, would have been intercepted at supersonic speeds within minutes by fighters out of Andrews AFB. Why there were no fighters from Andrews up baffles me. If we could get fighters notified, scrambled, and airborne within about 6 minutes from Andrews AFB then, we could now.”

NORAD Press Release: http://www.norad.mil/presrelNORADTimelines.htm

AP Article On NORAD PR: http://www.AttackOnAmerica.net/8MinutesAway.htm

 Shortly after 911, a flight controller in New Hampshire ignores a ban on air traffic controllers speaking to the media, and it is reported he claims “that an F-16 fighter closely pursued United Airlines Flight 93… the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet, the controller said. ‘He must’ve seen the whole thing,’ the controller said of the F-16 pilot’s view of Flight 93′s crash.”

What happened to our first amendment? Where are all of the free and open debates in the United States Questioning September 11th? I, Mark Elsis will debate anyone or any panel on this issue. Does any formidable opponent dare to debate me about what really happened on September 11, 2001?

Mark Elsis is the Executive Director of the LOVEARTH ® NETWORK, http://Lovearth.net eMail: [email protected].  Copyright Mark Elis.

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Israeli-US Script: Divide Syria, Divide the Rest

August 15th, 2012 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

What is happening in Syria is a sign of things to come for the region. Regime change is not the sole goal of the US and its allies in Syria. Dividing the Syrian Arab Republic is the end goal of Washington in Syria.

Britain’s Maplecroft, which specializes in consulting on strategic risk, has said that we are witnessing the balkanization of the Syrian state: “Kurds in the north, Druze in the southern hills, Alawites in the coastal northwestern mountainous region and the Sunni majority elsewhere.”

We are already hearing people like White House advisor Vali Nasr talking about all this. The religious and ethnic cleavages in Syria are not demarcated in purely geographic terms and the balkanization process could play out as a lebonization process, which means that Syria will be divided along violent sectarian fault lines and face political deadlock like Lebanon during its civil war without formally breaking up. Lebonization, a soft form of balkanization, has already taken place in Iraq under federalism.

The events in the Middle East and North Africa are seeing the animation of mass movements against local tyrants, like in Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, but there is also a vicious script from Israel’s Yinon Plan and its offshoots. The Yinon Plan and similar schemes want a contrived Shitte-Sunni war amongst the Muslims as the central piece of the sectarian divisions – or fitna in Arabic – that are to include Christian-Muslim, Arab-Berber, Arab-Iranian, Arab-Turkish, and Iranian-Turkish animosity.

What this process intends to do is create sectarian hatred, ethnic divisions, racism, and religious wars. All the countries that the US and its allies are destabilizing have natural dividing lines, and when tribal, ethnic, confessional, and religious animosity is ignited in one country, it will spill over into other countries. The problems in Libya have spilled into Niger and Chad and the problems in Syria are spilling over into Turkey and Lebanon.

Egypt is the venue of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary currents that have kept the largest Arab power busy with its attention on domestic politics. While Egypt is facing domestic upheaval, the US is attempting to play the country’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood against one another. Before the upheavals Sudan was formally balkanized by Tel Aviv and Washington through the manipulation of identity politics, which led to the secession of South Sudan.

Libya has been neutralized and divided by various groups. Lebonization, as mentioned earlier, has also taken root in Iraq as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with foreign support – specifically foreign support from the US, Western Europe, Israel, and Turkey – begins to act more and more as if Northern Iraq or Iraqi Kurdistan is a separate country from the rest of Iraq.

Dore Gold, the President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is worth quoting for his views: “What you have in Syria is that the Middle East is coming apart; a new form of chaos is replacing what has existed.” This of course is part of the wishful thinking of Israeli policy makers who have an interest in seeing this. Originally, the position of Tel Aviv was ignored when the crisis in Syria began, but it is clear now that Israel has an interest in seeing Syria fragmented into pieces and in a state of continuous civil war. This is what the Yinon Plan and its successors have outlined as being Israel’s strategic objectives in both Syria and Lebanon.

Kurdish Nationalism

Syria, like Iraq, can be viewed as a key pressure point in the Middle East. Disarray in both will create a regional meltdown. As things heat up in Syria, fragile Iraq is also beginning to pulse as a regional geo-political volcano simmers.

For those who have doubts that the US is fanning the flames of a fire to create a meltdown in the Middle East or that the events in Syria are beginning to have regional ramifications, they merely need to look at the region of Kurdistan. Kurdish nationalist fighters have begun to mobilize in Syria and in Turkey and Turkish troops have been attacked by them. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has begun to take major steps that signify its independence from Iraq.

In Iraq, the KRG is essentially a de facto state with its own parliament, flag, army, visa regime, armed forces, police, and laws. In violation of Iraq’s national laws, the KRG has even made illegal arms and oil deals on its own with foreign governments and entities without even so much as notifying the government in Baghdad. Moreover, the KRG has even prevented Iraqi troops from going to Iraq’s northwest border with Syria to ensure that weapons smuggling and lawlessness end.

Turkey, which maintains close ties to the KRG, has also been encouraging this behavior and has even treated the KRG like a national government by having diplomatic contacts without consulting the Iraqi government in Baghdad. The leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government are also allowing their country to be used as a Mossad operation base against Syria and Iran.

Ironically, Turkey has warned that it will take military action against Kurdish separatists in Syria while Ankara is supporting separatist tendencies amongst the KRG and the division of Syria. Aside from creating tensions between the Turkish and Iraqi governments, this has had consequences in Turkey. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has begun to remobilize. The PKK has claimed that it is in control of the Semdinli (Semzinan) District in Turkey’s Hakkari Province and fighting has broken out in southeast Turkey.

Casualties have begun to mount as Turkish troops and security forces have begun to face attacks. Martial law has also been declared in Hakkari Province according to the Turkish press. Turkey itself now faces its own fight against anti-government forces as it appears unable to rule its own territory. A Turkish opposition MP from the People’s Republican Party has also been kidnapped by the PKK. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has tried to blame Syria for fighting that has erupted in Turkey’s Kurdish areas, but he omits the fact that the violence in Turkey is a direct result of Turkish interference in Syria. If they already have not, the weapons that Erdogan is sending into Syria will eventually find their way back into Turkey where they will be used by anti-government forces.

Tel Aviv Targets Lebanon: A Second Levantine Front is Opened?

The case of the Israeli tourist bus attack in Bulgaria is ominous to say the least. What is striking about the incident is that Israel blamed Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran immediately, before an hour even passed after the attack or an investigation was conducted.

What is worth noting is that just a few weeks earlier officials in Tel Aviv were threatening to attack Lebanon again, saying that they would totally destroy Lebanon in a third Israeli-Lebanese war. The Israeli comments were made by Brigadier-General Hertzi Halevy, the commander of Tel Aviv’s 91st Division, just a week ahead of the sixth anniversary of Hezbollah’s victory against Israel in the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. Halevy and other Israeli leaders have repeatedly threatened to reduce Lebanon to ashes by launching an all-out attack

Syria’s allies are all being pressured in a multi-dimensional war. Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinians are being put under increasing pressure to abandon their Syrian allies. The Israeli threats are aimed at putting psychological pressure on Lebanon and Hezbollah as a means to expand the psychological, media, economic, diplomatic, intelligence, and political siege against Syria into Lebanon. US sanctions against Syria are already incorporating Iran and Hezbollah and Lebanese banks have faced cyber attacks and pressure from Washington and its allies.

Looking at the Coming Horizon: Welcome to America’s Arc of Instability?

The US-sponsored siege of Syria is part of its attempts to divide Eurasia and maintain its global primacy as a superpower. Washington has no mercy for its friends or its foes either and countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia will eventually be used as cannon fodder. US strategists want the area running from North Africa and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia, and India to be turned into a black hole of fighting, à la Brzezinski’s “Eurasian Balkans.”

The Arabs, Iran, and Turkey are being lined up for a major conflict, because the US is losing its superpower status. All that remains of Washington’s superpower status is its military power. Towards the end of its relatively short life, the Soviet Union only had it military power too. The Soviet Union experienced social unrest and was in economic decline before it collapsed. The situation for the US is not much different, if not worst. Washington is broke, socially divided, becoming racially polarized, and declining rapidly in its international influence. US elites, however, are determined to resist what more and more looks like the unpreventable loss of their country’s superpower status and their empire.

Igniting Eurasia with fire and sedition appears to be Washington’s answer to preventing its own decline. The US plans on starting a great fire from Morocco and the Mediterranean to the borders of China. This process has essentially been begun by the US through the destabilization of three different regions: Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. The first steps that the US and its NATO and Arab allies took to do this did not start in Syria.

In the Middle East, this process started through the siege of Iraq that eventually gave way to the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of that country in 2003. In Central Asia, the process started with the destabilization of Afghanistan during the Cold War and US support for fighting between different fractions, including what would become the Taliban; 9/11 merely gave the US and its NATO allies an opportunity to invade. In North Africa, finally the US and Israel balkanized Sudan through years of pressure and covert operations.

In the three regions mentioned above we are seeing the second wave of destabilization now. In Central Asia, the war in Afghanistan has been extended into Pakistan by NATO. This has given way to the term “AfPak” to describe Afghanistan and Pakistan as one theatre. In North Africa, Libya was attacked in 2011 by NATO and the Jamahiriya has essentially been divided by various groups. In the Middle East, this second wave of destabilization operations is targeting the Syrian Arab Republic as a continuation of what happened in Iraq.

Washington seems to be dreaming of this scenario: Kurdish revolts taking place in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran; sectarian civil wars consuming Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen in fire; instability and fighting bleeding Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, and Sudan; Berbers and Arabs fighting one another across North Africa; insecurity and political uncertainty spreading in Central Asia; a war in the South Caucasus consuming Georgia, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan; revolts igniting amongst the Balkars, Chechens, Circassians, Dagestanis, Ingush, and other local Caucasian peoples against Russia in the North Caucasus; the Persian Gulf being a zone of instability; and Russia at loggerheads with the European Union and Turkey. Such a conflagration is steadily being buoyed by Washington.

Ultimately all this is meant to disrupt some of the world’s major energy routes and supplies to hurt the energy-importing economies of China, the major European powers, India, Japan, and South Korea. This could force the European Union to become more militaristic out of desperation to save its economy.

Such a scenario could be dangerous for energy-supplier Russia as well as OPEC states, which would have to choose between the EU and China if there are energy shortages. A resource war – like World War I – could be ignited that would bring ruin to a great deal of Africa and all the industrialized regions of Eurasia. This would happen while the US would stand by in the Western Hemisphere, watching from a safe distance, just like it did during the First World War and the Second World War, before it steps in to pick up the pieces as the economic benefactor of a devastating war.

An award-winning author and geopolitical analyst, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is the author of The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy. He has also addressed the Middle East and international relations issues on several TV news networks including Al Jazeera, teleSUR, and Russia Today. His writings have been translated into more than twenty languages. In 2011 he was awarded the First National Prize of the Mexican Press Club for his work in international investigative journalism.

The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.
Foreword by Denis J. Halliday.
 

 

PEOPLES’ TRIBUNAL AND ASSEMBLY ON THE CUBAN FIVE
Toronto , Ontario, Canada
September 21 – 23, 2012

Media Advisory #3- PARTICIPANTS IN THE TRIBUNAL FROM CUBA

August 5, 2012

Participants to the Peoples’ Tribunal and Assembly on the Cuban Five are coming from the USA,
the UK, Cuba, and Canada. A press conference where Tribunal participants will be present is called for Friday, September 21, 11:00 a.m., at the Metro Hall, 55 John Street (south of King), room 303.

From Cuba:

1.  Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five. Perez, who lives in Cuba, has not been allowed a U.S. visa for the last thirteen years of her husband’s imprisonment despite repeated attempts. Her husband is serving two life sentences plus fifteen years in a maximum security prison. The most serious charge against him was conspiracy to commit murder, a charge for which there was no evidence and which the prosecuting attorney wished to withdraw for lack of evidence at his trial. The judge refused to withdraw the charges. In this most complex trial to that date in U.S. judicial history, the jury asked no questions for clarification and found all Five Defendants guilty on all counts.

2. Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramón Labañino, one of the Cuban Five. His life sentence was vacated and replaced by a sentence of thirty years. A three-judge appeals court had requested a retrial but in an unprecedented move the Prosecution asked for all the judges on the appeals court panel to review the case and 3-judge panel decision was overturned; the retrial never happened. Sentences were vacated in three of the five cases and the same judge who passed the original sentences reduced Labanino’s life sentence to thirty years in prison.

3. On October 6, 1976, the Cubana airliner of passenger flight 455 exploded from a bomb set by two persons working with Luis Posada Carriles, the mastermind of this horrendous action. Seventy-three passengers aboard lost their lives including the gold medalists of Cuba’s fencing team that had just concluded their competition at Games in Caracas. Posada Carriles continues to live freely in Florida. A representative from the Cuban education community will speak on behalf of the relatives of the victims from that explosion, at the Tribunal and Assembly.

4. Rodolfo D’Ávalos Fernández, member of the National Union of Jurists of Cuba and a renowned human rights lawyer.

5. Dr. Raymundo Navarro, member of the National Secretariat for International Relations of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC), a medical doctor who is also an elected deputy to the National Assembly of the People’s Power (Parliament of Cuba).

6. Esperanza Luzbert, Director, North America, Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

7. Other representatives from Cuba will be present.


Contacts: Heide Trampus, Co-ordinator, [email protected], 416 431 5498
            Lisa Makarchuk, Chair, Media Sub-Committee [email protected], 416 603 9858

For interviews after the press conference cited above, please get in touch with either of the contacts
above-noted.

Media Advisory #1 with 3 attachments, sent July 20, 2012. Background Information and Canada’s Connection.
Media Advisory #2 sent August 3, 2012. Danny Glover, Saul Landau and Cindy Sheehan Coming to Toronto to Attend the Peoples’ Tribunal & Assembly on the Cuban Five.

www.freethe5peoplestribunal.org  

West Throttling Syria, Tightening Noose

August 15th, 2012 by Dr. Ismail Salami

The Syrian crisis has been dragging on for over 17 months now with no imminently favorable results for the rebels.

 

There were early sparse peaceful protests here and there in cities but all vestiges of such protests are gone altogether. Instead, we see cities pass from hand to hand and people killed as part of ‘collateral damage’. ‘Collateral damage’ is not my favorite phrase. On the contrary, I find it odious. But who is really to blame for the human loss in Syria?

 

An absence of popular protests renders it rather far-fetched to relate the crisis to the manifestations of an uprising. For example, there has not been even one instance of self-immolation to reflect the acme of social despair and economic frustration in the country as in Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and elsewhere. This of course does not rule out the idea that there are certainly reforms to be made in Syria as in all parts of the world.      

Despite an incredibly massive disinformation campaign waged by western media outlets to depict Bashar Assad as the ‘Bad Guy’ and the effluvium of money to the insurgents from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the USA and the UK to mention only a few, President Bashar Assad does not seem to be willing to step down from power and abandon it to the care of the Saudis or the Americans so they may install a West-friendly puppet regime to cater to a wide range of demands and tastes including those of the Zionists, the West and other Arab puppet regimes as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan.    

There are reports that indicate the regime of Qatar has allocated USD 300 million as political incentives for Syrian officials to defect. Defection is indeed a very significant move and can gravely tarnish the image of any government and question the very legitimacy of it. So, the enemies of Syria are capitalizing on this effective ruse. Qatar’s envoy in Mauritania reportedly offered his Syrian counterpart an advance payment of one million US dollars and a monthly salary of $20,000 over 20 years in a bid to convince him to defect and publicly blast ‘the atrocities of Syrian government’. According to a report carried by Lebanese-based Al-Manar TV, Syrian envoy in Mauritania Hamad Seed Albni was also offered a permanent residence in Doha, but he declined the offer.

From a political point of view, the defectors can be shrewdly used to deal a lethal blow to a government by twisting the realities on the ground to the benefit of those who finance and support them and to the loss of the government from which they have defected. Syria’s former Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab, who fled to Jordan (a safe haven for defectors) last week, is typical of such a case. He made a public appearance on Tuesday for the first time since his defection and branded the Syrian regime as the ‘enemy of God’. He further said that the government of President Bashar Assad was “crumbling internally under the pressure of relentless fighting against rebels, and from betrayals by loyalists who want only to flee” (The New York Times, August 14, 2012). It is not yet known if he has defected out of his strongly internalized personal beliefs or if he has been lured into Jordan by Qatar-promised generous offers. Syrian rebels have been mobilizing Prime Minister Riyad Hijab and some ministers for the last four months, an opposition official told the Global Times after Hijab fled the country.

In addition to Hijab, some top officials have so far defected including Syrian representatives in the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, Abdel Latif al-Dabbagh and Nawaf al-Fares.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently made a visit to Turkey and discussed with Turkish officials how to support the rebels in Syria in order to “end the violence and begin the transition to a free, democratic Syria without Assad”.

“We are continuing to increase pressure from the outside. Our number-one goal is to hasten the end of the bloodshed and the Assad regime,” she said.

It goes without saying that the only goal the US is seeking to achieve is to put an end once and for all to a government antagonistic to Washington’s interests in the region.   

Hillary Clinton said the United States and Turkey are considering imposing no-fly zones and other steps on Syria to help rebel forces.

“It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning,” Clinton said. “Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that.”

In fact, Lady Bountiful is making herculean efforts to tailor a western suit to fit the Zionists and the Wahhabis alike.

The naked truth is that any time the US steps in to force changes in a country, it certainly seeks to serves its own long-term interests. Look at Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The interests are not necessarily financial. They might be of intelligence and military interests only to be used later for expanding their colonialist pursuits.  

Since the beginning of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011, the al-Asad government has taken steps to roll back its accelerated pace of neoliberal reform. After a decade of loosening market regulations, the state is back to governing the market in order to ensure that economic contraction and social hardships following the political upheaval and imposed foreign sanctions do not worsen. State intervention is crucial during times of crisis, not only to restore infrastructure, but also to ensure the availability of essential consumer goods and services to the majority of the population. The state has reinstated much of the tangible social protection and benefits that were neglected during the Bashar al-Asad regime’s accelerated transition toward a market-driven economic structure. Although the recently adopted interventionist strategies have been aimed at mitigating social unrest, these measures have done little to arrest the social disaster already in place.

Deepened economic contraction

Political unrest and foreign sanctions imposed on Syria have aggravated economic conditions and deepened economic contraction. Although the economy was growing at an average rate of five percent before the uprising erupted, this growth was mainly attributed to oil revenues, underpinned by the increase in international oil prices since 2002.[1] The real economy, however, incurred a steady contraction, exacerbating negative shocks. The recent international sanctions imposed on Syrian crude oil have delivered a severe blow to this already weak structure.[2] Shortfalls in oil revenues, estimated at $4 billion, have dragged the economy into structural deficits.[3] Dwindling government revenues, deteriorating trade and capital accounts, supply shortages, exponential price increases, and currency devaluation have been some of the more serious consequences of foreign sanctions and the domestic political crisis. With the inflation rate hovering at 30 percent and an economic growth rate estimated to drop to negative five and a half percent in 2012, the economy is already in a state of an acute stagflation.[4]

Although the real human costs are immeasurable following the violent escalation of the domestic crisis, economic deterioration has also exacted a high social cost, whose main burden has been carried by the middle class and the poor. It is estimated that three million Syrians have lost their jobs since the uprisings began.[5] Thousands of small businesses have shut down, leading to considerable layoffs. Sanctions imposed on the banking sector have curtailed most money transactions. Both public and private entities have not been able to carry out their business transactions smoothly, and Syrian expats have faced difficulties transferring remittances to their families back home. Notwithstanding the dramatic fall in revenues from tourism, an important source of foreign currency,[6] the hoarding of dollars and other foreign currency withdrawals have added pressure on the Syrian pound, whose value fell to £S 74 to the dollar in February 2012—a fifty percent drop since March 2011.[7] This depreciation has pushed market prices up and dampened the purchasing power of the majority of Syrians. The drying up of Arab investments, which increased more than sixfold between 2002 and 2007,[8] has exacerbated the economic squeeze.[9]

In light of the EU sanctions on Syrian crude oil imports and the suspension of the free trade agreement with Turkey, Syria increased its trade with Russia and Iran in order to generate alternative revenues. Other alternative buyers of Syrian oil include various Asian economies that benefit from importing its oil at discounted prices.[10] Syria has also relied on its allies for the financial support it needs to rehabilitate some of its infrastructure and restore services that were destroyed by the violence.

Reverting to étatism

Following the drop in oil revenues and the accompanying plunge in foreign exchange earnings, the government introduced trade and capital account restrictions and increased tariffs on imports so as to reduce import spending except for necessity goods and raw materials whose custom duties are less than one percent. This measure is also meant to protect local industries that suffered from trade liberalization and tariff reduction during the 2000-2011period. Aside from the smuggling and dumping activities of Syrian merchants, increased imports of cheaper foreign products created unfair competition for local industrialists, some of whom ultimately had to close their factories and lay off many workers.

Further attempts have been taken to create a détente with the industrial bourgeoisie. The government enacted a decree in October 2011 that enables industrial borrowers to reschedule their late outstanding loans, finance their business ventures, and revive their factories.[11] After years of freeze on the financial support of the banking sector for local industrialists, such a measure is crucial during times of crisis, as it can restore local production and strengthen economic independence that in turn can partly eliminate the damage caused by foreign sanctions. When protected and supported by the state, the Syrian real economy was productive and self-sufficient during the 1970s, especially in light textiles and food industries. It therefore has great potential to be revitalized if state policies would target and promote the economy’s productive capacity.

Socially responsible measures have also been recently enacted to ease social tension. The original plan to remove government subsidies on items such as petrol and other energy products has been abandoned, which will lessen price increases on basic necessities. Moreover, state-controlled cooperatives have been ensuring the availability of food items and staples at reasonable prices. The government has also raised public sector wages substantially in the last year and recently approved 25,000 new jobs in the public sector.[12]

State intervention has not ended here but has extended to control price escalation and cap consumer prices. The strategy of liberalizing prices over the last decade aggravated price fluctuations, as 85 percent of consumer products were subject to market pricing, with the state administering the remaining 15 percent. Recently, the Consumer Protection Directorate in the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection took measures to control prices by ensuring frequent intervention to avoid fluctuations.[13] On another front, in an attempt to control the outflow of funds and avoid further depreciation of the Syrian pound, the Central Bank reinstated restrictions on dealing with foreign currency transactions.

Of course, it would be misleading to conclude that Syria is reverting to the heavy state interventionist economic structure of the 1960s and early 1970s. That phase was characterized by far-reaching nationalization, radical land reform, multiple exchange rates, a state-administered price system, and a large public sector bolstered by state-led investment. More importantly, the state was in control of most economic sectors in which there was little room for private sector activity. These pillars are no longer in place. Since the start of the uprising, state intervention can be described as governing and directing the market without owning and assuming full control of the economy. Syrian policymakers have realized that when left alone, the market cannot utilize the economy’s resources for developmental purposes and ensure egalitarian outcomes. If anything, the unregulated market economy during the 2000-2011 period led to anti-developmental outcomes.[14] Now, by combining the market with social protection, Syria is steering toward a “social market economy,” a paradigm that the regime invoked in 2005 but never applied.

In a social market economy, the socioeconomic structure is propelled by the dynamics of the market, and the government instates social safety nets and redistributive measures. Under such a system, the social aspect assumes a central position. This shift, however, is quite challenging for Syria given the acute fall in government revenues, aggravated economic contraction, and the debilitating costs of war and sanctions. Policies aimed at restoring normalcy to economic activities and ensuring more socially responsible outcomes that may contain social unrest came too late to rectify the deadly course of events upon which Syria has been set in the last few months. As the political turmoil intensifies, the hope now rests on the capacity of the Syrian state to remain, in any sensible meaning of the word, a state.

Linda Matar is a Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute (MEI), National University of Singapore 

Notes

[1] Since 2000, oil revenues have constituted around 22 percent of total government revenues (Central Bank of Syria Quarterly Bulletin, various issues, 2000-2012).

[2] Ninety-five percent of Syrian oil is sold to European countries. The lion’s share of oil revenues, about 17 percent of government revenues, have therefore been decimated following the EU sanctions imposed on Syria’s energy sector. See N. Marzouk, “Economic Sanctions: A Slow Stifling of the Syrian Regime,” Aljazeera Studies Centre, 19 November 2011.

[3] S. Abboud, “The Syrian Economy Hanging by a Thread,” Carnegie Middle East Center, Carnegie Endowment, 20 June 2012.

[4] “ESCWA Forecasts GDP Contraction at 5.5%,” The Syria Report, 23 July 2012.

[5] “Three Million Syrians have Lost Their Jobs due to the Crisis,” AlBawaba, 17 July 2012.

[6] According to the Ministry of Tourism, tourist arrivals decreased by 79 percent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2011. The hotel occupancy rates have dropped from 90 percent before the crisis to less than 15 percent in May 2012. See Abboud, op. cit.

[7] The Syrian national currency is traded for 90 Syrian pounds to the dollar on the black market. At one point in early March, the value of the pound dropped to 107 pounds per dollar (See “Syrian Pound Slips as Political Tension Rises,” The Syria Report, 23 July 2012]). In this regard, the Central Bank reserves decreased considerably as the state scrambled to fend off the lira’s impending fall.

[8] S. Seifan, “Syria on the Path to Economic Reform,” St. Andrews Papers on Contemporary Syria, 2010.

[9] For instance, Qatar alone hindered the implementation of its promised $6 billion of commercial investment. See Abboud, op. cit.

[10] “Country Report: Syria,” Economist Intelligence Unit, April 2012.

[11] R. Sallakh, “Syria’s Industry: A Return to Protectionism,” Al Akhbar, 3 October 2011.

[12] “Syria to Create 25,000 Public Sector Jobs,” Ahram Online, 10 July 2012.

[13] “Consumer Protection Directorate Develops New Strategy to Control Market,” Syrian Days, 4 July 2012.

[14] See S. Kassem, “Demystifying Syria,” TripleCrisis, 27 April 2011.

The Western-instigated and Turk, Saudi, Israeli-backed terrorist monster running amok in the Middle East could turn out to be the mother of all chickens that comes home to roost for these powers.

When the late African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X was asked in 1963 about the assassination of President John F Kennedy, he said it was akin to “chickens coming home to roost”.

The statement provoked widespread condemnation among the US mainstream media and political establishment for its apparent callousness. However, Malcolm X was vilified then for simply bearing an unpalatable, but nevertheless truthful message. The fact was that Kennedy, like all US leaders before and after, was engaged in sanctioning violence, covert wars and assassination of foreign political figures. Malcolm X was merely telling it like it is: if you play with fire, then eventually you get burned.

The same axiomatic truth applies to the unholy alliance of powers that are waging a covert criminal war against Syria – a covert war that is becoming increasingly overt by the day. For months, these powers – the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar – have been maintaining the deception that they are not involved in Syria’s conflict.

Then these powers shifted – when the evidence to the contrary was becoming overwhelming – to concede that they were “only supplying non-lethal aid”.

On 16 May 2012, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration categorically denied supplying weapons to Syria. The paper quoted a US State Department spokesman as saying: “We are increasing our non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region.”

Now – unable to conceal the truth any longer – it is being widely reported that the US-led unholy alliance is supplying anti-aircraft missiles, mortars, explosives and machine-guns, as well as telecommunications and other non-lethal means to increase the lethality of the mercenaries running amok in Syria.

In other words, the US-led anti-Syrian axis is up to its neck in waging war on Syria. The shock troops on the ground serving the unholy alliance are constituted from a global terrorist army whose members have gravitated from such disparate places as Britain, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chechnya. Every fundamentalist have-a-go soldier from every corner of the world, it seems, has received marching orders to wage war on the state of Syria to fulfil some warped objective supposedly in the name of Islam. It is the most noxious amalgam imaginable: reactionary, ruthless, depraved, loaded on spurious theology and bloodlust. And this global terrorist army has the full backing of Washington and London.

Recent graphic video footage shows these foot-soldiers carving off the head of a young Syrian man who refused to join their ranks. Other footage shows the bodies of a dozen men lying on a roadside outside Damascus, their hands tied behind their backs and bullet wounds to the head. Elsewhere, naked men in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo are lined up against a war before being sprayed with machine-guns. These terrorists – bankrolled, armed and directed by the US-led unholy alliance – have engaged in the most wanton acts of murder: no-warning car bombs, massacring women and children in villages, summary execution of kidnapped pilgrims. No crime is off-limits.

But what the conflict in Syria is doing, inadvertently, is crystallizing the truth of what these powers and their proxies have been engaged in over many years in many countries. Separated by distance and time, these powers were in the past afforded a deceptive get-out clause of disconnect in the public mind or plausible deniability. Yet today, in Syria, what we are seeing is the coming together of all these past sinister threads into one tapestry of criminal collusion.

The US, Britain and France are long practitioners of assassination, mass murder, sabotage and subversion. Some notorious examples include: the US-British coup in Iran in 1953; the Anglo-French attack on Egypt during the 1956 Suez Crisis; the plot to assassinate Syrian political and army leaders in 1957, sanctioned by US president Dwight Eisenhower and British prime minister Harold Macmillan; and the suspected CIA involvement in the assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961 and of US puppet dictators Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic in 1961 and South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963 – the same month that JFK was shot dead in Texas. Today, this mongrel breed for covert murder and coups is at once on display doing its tricks in Syria.

And the tale gets a modern twist.

Washington and London were the architects of the terrorist army that was first recruited in Afghanistan in the early 1980s to wage guerrilla war on the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. Over the decades, this informal army has grown with Saudi oil money and Western intelligence to encompass a global deployment from the Balkans to Libya to Syria. What is happening currently in Syria appears to be the full spawning of this Western terrorist proxy army, with rank and file coming together from every erstwhile field of operation into one, single battlefield.

Like the fabled Frankenstein monster, the creators are at risk of losing control of their beast. The CIA-MI6 terrorists in Afghanistan that defeated the Soviet army have since turned their American and British-supplied weapons to good effect against NATO troops. The same terrorists inflicted thousands of fatalities among American-led troops in Iraq.

For now though there seems to be a rapprochement between the Western and Saudi-backed Islamic fundamentalists for the immediate purpose of destroying Syria to bring about regime change. How any replacement regime in Damascus would behave towards its Western sponsors is moot, but the evidence of Libya suggests an uncertain, precarious future of lawlessness and sectarian killings.

The Western-instigated and Turk, Saudi, Israeli-backed terrorist monster running amok in the Middle East could turn out to be the mother of all chickens that comes home to roost for these powers.

The chickens can come home to roost in other ways too. While the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Turkey play with the fire of sectarian politics in Syria, their own houses are increasingly exposed to internal flames. Saudi state forces are struggling to contain daily street protests against the House of Saud that are spreading from the mainly Shia Eastern Province to the capital Riyadh and Mecca in the Western Province. The more King Abdullah makes ostentatious calls for democratic reforms in Syria, the more it emboldens his own downtrodden, oppressed Shia people to demand the same.

As for Turkey, its treacherous back-stabbing of its not-so-long-ago Syrian “brother” is serving to isolate Ankara in the eyes of its own people and the masses across the region. Ankara’s neo-imperialist meddling is resurrecting memories of past Ottoman barbarities, such as the Armenian Genocide, and, more recently, of Turkey’s pernicious involvement in NATO’s clandestine campaign of terrorism across Europe under the Cold War cloak of Operation Gladio.

Ankara’s long sought-after membership of the European Union looks like being torpedoed as its reputation sinks into a quagmire of duplicity. Turkey’s other more recent genocide against its Kurdish people also looks like fanning into renewed struggle as Syrian and Iraqi Kurds join forces with that ethnic population in Southeast Turkey to take advantage of the turmoil that Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fuelling across his country’s borders.

The governments of the US, Britain, France and Israel are increasingly being seen by their own people as engaging in a foreign war that the domestic populations can ill afford and do not want. Previous imperialist adventurism occurred at times of relative prosperity at home and therefore went largely unnoticed. Now this same reckless adventurism coincides with the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. The announcement last week by double-dip recession Britain that it was sending USD 8 million in extra aid to terrorist death squads in Syria is a mortal self-inflicted blow to the legitimacy of British rulers. The same goes for austerity-dominated France and the US – where, in the latter, two million unemployed workers are due to have their social welfare payments cut off. Recent anti-war demonstrations in Tel Aviv on the back of protests against economic hardship that have led to the self-immolation of four Israeli citizens in recent months is surely another chicken coming home to roost.

America’s unholy alliance assailing the people of Syria right now may think that it has the upper-hand in their machinations for regime change and regional hegemony. But while these powers and proxies are busy trying to execute a coup in Syria, back home the chicken coup is bustling with deep, deep trouble.

Goldman Sachs Above the Law

August 15th, 2012 by James Hall

No doubt, the chief crook on Wall Street is virtually immune from any law that brings lesser mortals to their knees. The latest outrage summed up nicely in “Relieve Goldman Sachs of Their Legal Exposure“, passes with little notice in the establishment media.

“Goldman Sachs got a rare “reverse Wells notice” from the SEC, when they were told that a mortgage-backed securities deal which they earlier heard they would face prosecution for would not net them any civil enforcement. But that was just the beginning. Later in the day, they learned they would not face any prosecution from the Justice Department for the misdealings brought to light in a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report a year ago.”

In case you have not heard the details, the Eric Holder, DOJ of criminal protection and selective prosecution, hit a new low.

“In a written statement, the department said it conducted an exhaustive investigation of allegations brought to light by a Senate panel investigating the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

“The department and investigative agencies ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time,” the department said.”

TARP was designed to bail out the insolvent banks. Goldman Sachs transformed itself into a BANK so that the firm could borrow from the Fed window. The revolving door cycle of government regulators, opting for a promotion as an investment bankster and compensatory profit well earned from previous service, hardly gets the attention of the financial community or government oversight. The entire obscene relationship of crony favoritism inevitably leads to a society where the rule of law only applies to the competition.

The definitive “vampire squid” watchdog site, Goldman Sachs 666, is so effective that the Goldman Sachs hires law firm to shut blogger’s site. “The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.” Such excessive efforts to inhibit investigative reporting may seem that the global financial titan is afraid of public scrutiny. However, encouraging it is that the flow of information persists; the deplorable reality is that there is no political will to enforce common law violations.

The slanted regulations are written by Goldman Sachs attorneys and shepherd into law with their lobbyists. Their bought and paid for legislators dutifully do their bidding and eagerly take their campaign contributions. That is why the rejection of holding Goldman Sachs accountable by the Department of Justice is significant.

The incomparable ZeroHedge explains in, Confused Why Goldman Will Face No Criminal Charges? Here’s Why.

“We learned courtesy of Goldman’s 10-Q, that the US justice department will not press criminal charges against Goldman Sachs. This, despite Senator Carl  Levin, in one of the most bombastic kangaroo court spectacles on live TV ever, asking for a criminal investigation after the subcommittee he led spent years looking into Goldman, and in which he said Goldman misled Congress and investors.”

The Department of Justice functions to discipline the other guy. Goldman Sachs is the hub of the financial pyramid. When partners are installed on the Federal Reserve or are appointed to Treasury, the money elite contain their grip on their control of the fiat money system. This model dominated by bureaucratic technocrats, runs roughshod over the regulators. The mere notion that any Attorney General will enforce statues is naive, when every administration is bought and paid for by the same moneychangers.

Using the distinctive absurdity of legal rationalization, RT reports:

“The Justice Department said that it had conducted an “exhaustive investigation” into allegations of fraud during the crisis from 2008 to 2009. The probe reportedly uncovered email conversations between employees of Goldman Sachs branding mortgage securities sold to investors as “junk” and “crap”.

Moreover, the probe writes that the bank “used net short positions to benefit from the downturn in the mortgage market, and designed, marketed, and sold CDOs [collateralized debt obligations] in ways that created conflicts of interest with the firm’s clients and at times led to the bank’s profiting from the same products that caused substantial losses for its clients.”

Alas, such illegal conduct is acceptable in the world of politicized injustice. No one gets the judicial breaks and skates the fine line of illegality better then Goldman Sachs. The DoJ operates as a mob lawyer for the accused. Prosecuting the proprietors of the criminal system is taboo.

Accepting this obscenity as normal is frustrating. Until now, no practical legislative, regulatory, administrative, legal or punitive response has seen the light of day to hang the Goldman Sachs pirates from the yardarms. Legal recourse will never provide comprehensive relief or rectify the abuses of this wicked protection racket that keeps Goldman Sachs above justice.

Only a total ban and breakup of the House of Rothschild and all their surrogate entities, can resolve by liquidation the monetary monopoly of debt created finance. Reinstituting Glass-Steagall would be a necessary first measure, but that reenactment alone is mere window dressing on a fraudulent Ponzi scheme.

Goldman Sachs stays one-step ahead of a critical mass meltdown, much of its own creation. The risks taken by this firm do not end with their former partners or current shareowners. This house of cards is entrenched in the IOU pecuniary system. What visibly sets Goldman Sachs apart from the rest of Wall Street is their network of entangling influences in every corner and crack of government, media, business and the courts.

No other financial organization enjoys picking financial policy makers on every level in the process. If Congress cannot get the Department of Justice to follow the law, who can honestly believe that a viable Presidential candidate can buck the Wall Street culture that controls and funds the two party facade?

Tragically, the corruption of corporatist is not confined to crony investment banksters. The legal and court organism that watches over the crooked money machine deserves widespread disrespect for their complicity. Goldman Sachs’ day of reckoning await the wrath of the populace.

El guión de Estados Unidos e Israel: Divide Siria, divide al resto

August 15th, 2012 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Lo que está sucediendo en Siria es un signo de lo que vendrá para la región. El cambio de régimen no es el único objetivo de los EE.UU. y sus aliados en Siria. La división de la República Árabe Siria es el objetivo final de Washington en el país.

Maplecroft de Gran Bretaña, que se especializa en el asesoramiento sobre el riesgo estratégico, ha dicho que estamos asistiendo a la balcanización del Estado sirio:

“Los kurdos en el norte, los drusos en las montañas del sur, los alawitas en la región montañosa del noroeste costero y la mayoría sunita en otra parte.” Ya estamos escuchando a gente como el asesor de la Casa Blanca, Vali Nasr, hablando de todo esto. 

Las divisiones religiosas y étnicas en Siria no están demarcadas en términos puramente geográficos, y el proceso de balcanización podría jugar como un proceso de libanización, lo que significa que Siria se divide a lo largo de las líneas de falla de violencia sectaria, y se enfrenta a un estancamiento político como el del Líbano durante su guerra civil, sin estar oficialmente quebrada. La libanización, una forma suave de balcanización, ya ha tenido lugar en Irak bajo el federalismo. 

Los acontecimientos en el Medio Oriente y África del Norte están viendo la agitación de los movimientos de masas contra los tiranos locales, como en Bahrein, Jordania, Marruecos y Arabia Saudita, pero también hay un guión vicioso del Plan Yinon de Israel y sus ramificaciones.

El Plan Yinon, y otros planes similares, quieren una guerra chiíta y sunita entre los musulmanes como la pieza central de las divisiones sectarias – o Fitna en árabe – que va a incluir a cristianos y musulmanes, árabes-bereberes, árabes-iraníes, turco-árabes, e iraníes-tucos en la animosidad. 

Lo que este proceso tiene la intención de hacer es crear el odio sectario, divisiones étnicas, el racismo y las guerras de religiones. Todos los países que los EE.UU. y sus aliados están desestabilizando tienen líneas divisorias naturales, y cuando la animosidad tribal, étnica, confesional y religiosa se ​​enciende en un país, se extiende a otros. Los problemas en Libia se han derramado en Níger y el Chad, y los problemas en Siria se extienden a Turquía y el Líbano. 

Egipto es el lugar de la celebración de las corrientes revolucionarias y contrarrevolucionarias que han mantenido a la mayor potencia árabe ocupada en la atención de su política interna. Si bien Egipto se enfrenta a agitación interna,  EE.UU. está tratando de alinear a los militares del país y  la Hermandad Musulmana el uno contra el otro. Antes de los trastornos, Sudán fue balcanizada oficialmente por Tel Aviv y Washington a través de la manipulación de las políticas de identidad, lo que llevó a la secesión de Sudán del Sur. Libia ha sido neutralizada y se divide entre varios grupos. 

La libanización, como se mencionó anteriormente, también ha echado raíces en Irak, ya que el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán (GRK) con apoyo extranjero – específicamente recibe ayuda exterior de EE.UU., Europa Occidental, Israel y Turquía – comienza a actuar más y más como si el norte de Irak, o el Kurdistán iraquí, fuesen países separados del resto de Irak. 

Dore Gold, el Presidente del Centro Jerusalén para Asuntos Públicos y asesor del primer ministro israelí, Benjamin Netanyahu, es digno de citar sus puntos de vista: “Lo que tenemos en Siria es que el Oriente Medio se está desmoronando;. una nueva forma de caos está reemplazando a la que ha existido”

Por supuesto, esto es parte de las ilusiones de los responsables de las políticas israelíes que tienen interés en ver esto. Originalmente, la posición de Tel Aviv fue ignorada cuando la crisis comenzó en Siria, pero ahora está claro que Israel tiene un interés en ver a Siria fragmentada en trozos y en un estado de guerra civil continua. Esto es lo que el Plan Yinon y sus sucesores han descrito como los objetivos estratégicos de Israel en Siria y el Líbano. 

El nacionalismo kurdo

Siria, como Iraq, puede ser vista como un punto de presión clave en el Medio Oriente. Tanto desorden  va a crear una crisis regional. Mientras las cosas se calientan en Siria, el Irak frágil también está empezando a vibrar lentamente como un regional y geo-político volcán a fuego. Para aquellos que tienen dudas de que EE.UU. está avivando las llamas del fuego para crear una crisis en el Medio Oriente, o que los eventos en Siria están comenzando a tener ramificaciones regionales, no deberían hacer más que mirar a la región del Kurdistán. Combatientes kurdos nacionalistas han empezado a movilizarse en Siria y  Turquía, y las tropas turcas han sido atacadas por ellos. 

El Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán (GRK) ha comenzado a dar pasos importantes, que significan su independencia de Irak. En Irak, el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán es esencialmente un estado de facto con su propio parlamento, bandera, ejército, régimen de visados, fuerzas armadas, policía y leyes. 

En violación de las leyes nacionales de Irak, el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán ha hecho incluso armas ilegales y ofertas de petróleo por sí sola con gobiernos extranjeros y entidades sin siquiera notificar al gobierno en Bagdad. Por otra parte, el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán incluso ha impedido que las tropas iraquíes se dirijan hacia el noroeste de la frontera de Irak con Siria para asegurarse de finalizar el contrabando de armas y la anarquía. 

Turquía, que mantiene estrechos vínculos con el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán, ha instado también a este comportamiento, e incluso ha tratado al Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán como un gobierno nacional por tener contactos diplomáticos sin consultar al gobierno iraquí en Bagdad. Los líderes del Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán también están permitiendo que su país sea utilizado como una base de operaciones del Mossad contra Siria e Irán. 

Irónicamente, Turquía ha advertido que tomará una acción militar contra los separatistas kurdos en Siria, mientras que Ankara está apoyando a las tendencias separatistas entre el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán y la división de Siria. 

Aparte de crear tensiones entre los gobiernos turcos e iraquíes, esto ha tenido consecuencias en Turquía. El Partido de los Trabajadores Kurdos (PKK) ha vuelto a movilizarse. El PKK ha declarado que está en el control de la Semdinli (Semzinan) del Distrito de Hakkari, provincia de Turquía, y la lucha se ha desatado en el sureste de Turquía. Las bajas han comenzado a subir, ya que las tropas turcas y las fuerzas de seguridad han comenzado a enfrentar los ataques. La ley marcial ha sido declarada en la provincia de Hakkari, según la prensa turca. 

Turquía se enfrenta ahora a su propia lucha contra fuerzas anti gubernamentales, ya que parece incapaz de gobernar su propio territorio. Un diputado de la oposición turca del Partido Popular Republicano ha sido secuestrado por el PKK. El primer ministro turco, Erdogan, ha tratado de culpar a Siria por  la lucha que ha estallado en las zonas kurdas de Turquía, pero omite el hecho de que la violencia en Turquía es un resultado directo de la interferencia turca en Siria. Si ellos ya no las tienen, las armas que Erdogan está enviando a Siria eventualmente encontrarán su camino de regreso a Turquía, donde serán utilizadas por las fuerzas anti-gubernamentales. 

Tel Aviv apunta al Líbano: ¿Se abre un segundo Frente del Levante?

El caso del ataque al bus turístico israelí en Bulgaria es de mal agüero, por decir lo menos. Lo que llama la atención sobre el incidente es que Israel culpó a Hezbolá del Líbano e Irán inmediatamente, incluso antes de que pase una hora del ataque o una investigación fuese llevada a cabo.

Lo peor de todo es que sólo a unas pocas semanas antes, los funcionarios en Tel Aviv estaban amenazando con atacar el Líbano otra vez, diciendo que destruirían totalmente el Líbano en una tercera guerra entre Israel y Líbano. Los comentarios de Israel fueron hechos por el General de Brigada, Hertzi Halevy, comandante de la División 91a de Tel Aviv, justo una semana antes del sexto aniversario de la victoria de Hezbolá contra Israel en la guerra de 2006 entre Israel y el Líbano. 

Halevy y otros líderes israelíes han amenazado con reducir a cenizas el Líbano con el lanzamiento de un ataque total contra los aliados de Siria, que están siendo presionados en una guerra multidimensional. Irán, Rusia, Líbano, Irak, y los palestinos están siendo sometidos a una creciente presión para abandonar a sus aliados sirios. 

Las amenazas israelíes están destinadas a ejercer presión psicológica sobre el Líbano y Hezbollah como un medio para ampliar los medios psicológicos, económicos, diplomáticos, de inteligencia y política de asedio contra Siria en el Líbano. Las sanciones de EEUU contra Siria ya incorporan a los bancos de Irán, Hezbolá y del Líbano, que se han enfrentado a los ataques cibernéticos y a la presión de Washington y sus aliados.

Mirando hacia el horizonte venidero: ¿Bienvenidos al arco de la inestabilidad Americano? 

El cerco patrocinado por Estados Unidos en Siria es parte de sus intentos para dividir a Eurasia y mantener su primacía mundial como superpotencia. Washington no tiene piedad por sus amigos o, bien sus enemigos, y países como Turquía y Arabia Saudita con el tiempo serán utilizado como carne de cañón. Los estrategas estadounidenses desean que el área que va desde el norte de África y Oriente Medio al Cáucaso, Asia Central y la India, se convierta en un agujero negro de lucha, al estilo de los “Balcanes euroasiáticos” de Brzezinski.

Los árabes, Irán y Turquía están alineados para un conflicto mayor, porque EE.UU. está perdiendo su estatus de superpotencia. Todo lo que queda de la condición de superpotencia de Washington es su poder militar. Hacia el final de su vida relativamente corta, la Unión Soviética también tenía solamente el poder militar. La Unión Soviética experimentó el malestar social y estaba en decadencia económica antes de que colapsara. La situación de EE.UU. no es muy diferente, si no peor. Washington está roto, dividido socialmente, convirtiéndose en racialmente polarizada, y disminuyendo rápidamente en su influencia internacional. 

Las élites de EE.UU., sin embargo, están decididas a resistir lo que más se parece a la pérdida inevitable de la condición de superpotencia de su país e imperio. Incendiar a Eurasia con fuego y sedición parece ser la respuesta de Washington a la prevención de su propia decadencia.  EE.UU. planea comenzar un gran incendio en Marruecos y el Mediterráneo hasta las fronteras de China. Este proceso ha sido esencialmente iniciado por EE.UU. a través de la desestabilización de tres diferentes regiones: Asia Central, Oriente Medio y África del Norte. 

Los primeros pasos que EE.UU. y sus aliados de la OTAN y árabes llevaron a cabo para hacer esto no se han iniciado en Siria. En el Medio Oriente, este proceso se inició a través del cerco de Irak, que finalmente dio paso a la invasión anglo-estadounidense y  la ocupación de ese país en el año 2003. En Asia Central, el proceso se inició con la desestabilización de Afganistán durante la guerra fría y el apoyo de EE.UU. para la lucha entre las diferentes fracciones, incluso a los que se convertirían en talibanes; el 9.11 le dio a EE.UU. y sus aliados de la OTAN la oportunidad de invadir. 

En el norte de África, finalmente, EE.UU. e Israel balcanizaron a Sudán a través de años de presión y operaciones encubiertas. En las tres regiones mencionadas anteriormente estamos viendo ahora la segunda ola de desestabilización. 

En Asia Central, la guerra en Afganistán se ha extendido a Pakistán por la OTAN. Esto ha dado lugar al término “AfPak” para describir a Afganistán y Pakistán como un teatro. En África del Norte, Libia fue atacada en 2011 por la OTAN y la Jamahiriya ha sido esencialmente dividida entre varios grupos. En el Medio Oriente, esta segunda ola de operaciones de desestabilización se dirige a la República Árabe Siria como una continuación de lo que sucedió en Irak. 

Washington parece estar soñando con este escenario:  revueltas kurdas tienen lugar en Siria, Turquía, Irak e Irán; guerras civiles sectarias consumen a Irak, Líbano, Siria, Turquía y Yemen en el fuego, la inestabilidad y la lucha sangrienta en Argelia, Egipto, Libia, Pakistán y Sudán, los bereberes y los árabes peleando unos contra otros en el norte de África, la inseguridad y la incertidumbre política propagándose en Asia Central; una guerra en el Cáucaso del Sur consume Georgia, Armenia y la República de Azerbaiyán, encendiendo las revueltas entre los Balkars, chechenos, circasianos, daguestaníes, ingushetios, y otros pueblos locales del Cáucaso en contra de Rusia en el Cáucaso del Norte, el Golfo Pérsico es una zona de la inestabilidad, y Rusia está en desacuerdo con la Unión Europea y Turquía. 

Este incendio está siendo constantemente impulsado por Washington. En última instancia, todo esto está destinado a interrumpir algunas de las rutas de energía más importantes del mundo y útiles para lastimar a las economías importadoras de energía en China, las principales potencias europeas, India, Japón y Corea del Sur. 

Esto podría obligar a que la Unión Europea se convierta en más militarista por la desesperación para salvar su economía. Tal escenario podría ser peligroso para Rusia, proveedor de energía, así como para los estados de la OPEP, que tendrían que elegir entre la UE y China, si hay escasez de energía.

Una guerra de recursos – como la Primera Guerra Mundial – podría encenderse, lo que traería la ruina a una gran parte de África y a todas las regiones industrializadas de Eurasia. Esto sucedería mientras que EE.UU. se apoyaría a en el Hemisferio Occidental, observando desde una distancia segura, al igual que lo hizo durante la Primera Guerra Mundial y la Segunda Guerra Mundial, antes de dar los pasos para recoger  su parte como el benefactor económico de un guerra devastadora.

El autor premiado y analista geopolítico, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, es el autor de The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) y un libro de próxima aparición: The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. También ha contribuido en varios libros que van desde la crítica cultural a las relaciones internacionales. Es un sociólogo e investigador asociado en el Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), colaborador de la Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), en Moscú, y miembro del Comité Científico de Geopolítica, en Italia. También ha abordado asuntos de Oriente Medio y de relaciones internacionales en varias cadenas de noticias televisivas, incluyendo Al Jazeera, Telesur, y Rusia Today. Sus escritos han sido traducidos a más de veinte idiomas. En 2011 fue galardonado con el Primer Premio Nacional del Club de Prensa de México por su trabajo en el periodismo de investigación internacional.

Traducido para Sleepwalkings por Ariel Millahüel.

Obama: Angel of Death?

August 14th, 2012 by Anthony Freda

Libyan Terrorists Are Invading Syria

August 14th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

US, British, NATO, and GCC are arming and funding the foreign invasion of Syria – Western media providing increasingly tenuous “revolutionary” cover. 

Reuters today provides us with a spectacularly contradictory headline in their report, “Libyan fighters join Syrian revolt.” Obviously foreign fighters from Libya, raiding cities, attacking government and civilian targets, and attempting to subvert and overthrow the sovereign government of Syria is not a “revolt.” It is an invasion.

Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.” 
….
Reuters reported, that Mahdi al-Harati, “a powerful militia chief from Libya’s western mountains,” who is actually a militant of the US, British, and UN listed terrorist organization Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “now leads a unit in Syria, made up mainly of Syrians but also including some foreign fighters, including 20 senior members of his own Libyan rebel unit.” Reuters would go on to explain, “the Libyans aiding the Syrian rebels include specialists in communications, logistics, humanitarian issues and heavy weapons,” and that they “operate training bases, teaching fitness and battlefield tactics.”

Reuters concedes that the ongoing battle has nothing to do with democracy, but instead is purely a sectarian campaign aimed at “pushing out” Syria’s minorities, perceived to be “oppressing” “Sunni Muslims.”

Reuters’ propaganda piece is rounded off with a Libyan terrorist allegedly threatening that “the militancy would spread across the region as long as the West does not do more to hasten the downfall of Assad,” a talking point plucked straight from the halls of America’s corporate-financier funded think-tanks. In fact, just such a think-tank, the Foreign Policy Initiative, recently published a statement signed by Bush-era Neo-Conservatives stating:

“America’s national security interests are intertwined with the fate of the Syrian people and the wider region.  Indeed, Syria’s escalating conflict now threatens to directly affect the country’s neighbors, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel, and could provide an opening for terrorist groups like al Qaeda to exploit.”

Inspiring indeed that these two implacable enemies, Al Qaeda’s LIFG and America’s Neo-Con establishment, are now operating in such seamless harmony. It should be remembered that those who signed this statement, including Elliott Abrams, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, William Kristol, Paul Bremer, Paula Dobriansk, Douglas Feith, Robert Kagan, Clifford D. May, Stephen Rademaker, Michael Weiss, Radwan Ziadeh, were among the very engineers of the fraudulent “War on Terror.” Radwan Ziadeh, last on the list, is in fact a “Syrian National Council” member – one of several proxies the US State Department is hoping to slip into power in Syria.

Syria Is Suffering a Foreign Invasion, not a Revolution.

To reach Syria, Libyan fighters must cross the Mediterranean Sea and enter via Turkey, or cross Egypt, Israel, and enter via Jordan. The government of Syria has threatened Libya in no conceivable manner, making Libya’s campaign an intolerable act of military aggression. Worst of all, the NATO-installed government in Tripoli has officially approved of supporting military operations in distant Syria.

 Image: Libya is separated by sea and several nations from Syria. For hundreds, possibly thousands of Libyan fighters to now be turning up in Syria indicates a military operation requiring multinational support, and more specifically, NATO-backing.
….
In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:

Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.” 

Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit

Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.

“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”

Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and as recently as last month, CNN, whose Ivan Watson accompanied terrorists over the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo, revealed that indeed foreign fighters were amongst the militants, particularly Libyans. It was admitted that:

Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.

A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

 CNN also added:

On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.

The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.

CNN’s reports provide bookends to 2011′s admissions that large numbers of Libyan terrorists flush with NATO cash and weapons had headed to Syria, with notorious terrorist LIFG commanders making the arrangements.

In essence, Syria has been under invasion for nearly a year by Libyan terrorists – and as we will see, the Libyans are by no means an imperial force, but rather a terroristic foreign legion employed by far more nefarious players.

The West is Invading Syria by Proxy 

NATO-member Turkey is directly complicit in facilitating Libya’s extraterritorial aggression by hosting Libyan fighters within its borders, while coordinating their funding, arming, and logistics as they cross the Turkish-Syrian border. Along Turkey’s borders also facilitating Libya’s invasion of Syria, is America’s CIA.

The New York Times admitted in June 2012 in their article, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” that “CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey,” and directing weapons including, “automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons.” The NYT implicates Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar as the primary underwriters for the weapons while the CIA coordinates the logistics.


Image: The “Friends of Syria” represent many of the co-conspirators described in Seymour Hersh’s extensive 9 page report “The Redirection.” Syria’s violence is not the result of an indigenous uprising carrying “political aspirations,” but rather the conspiring and machinations of the global elite, who long-ago  premeditated the destruction of Syria for their own, larger, overarching geopolitical agenda.
….
To understand this particular arrangement, and why the US has forfeited the plausible deniability it seems it is so painstakingly trying to maintain, we must examine admissions by US policy makers stretching as far back as 2007 admitting that they planned to overthrow the government of Syria with foreign-sectarian extremists, using nations like Saudi Arabia to channel funds and weapons through, specifically to maintain the illusion that they were somehow not involved.

Seymour Hersh’s lengthy 9 page report, “The Redirection” published in the New Yorker in 2007 exposes US plans to use clandestine means to overthrow the government of Syria in a wider effort to undermine and destroy Iran. “A by-product of these activities,” writes Hersh, “has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

To say that Libya’s LIFG is “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” would, however, be misleading. It is Al Qaeda.

LIFG merged with the US-Saudi created terror organization in 2007, according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq:”

The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al‐Qa’ida, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al‐Qa’ida on November 3, 2007. (page 9, .pdf)

Hersh’s report would continue by stating, “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria.” This included billions to pro-Saudi factions in Lebanon who were propping up militant groups linked to Al Qaeda. These militant groups are now crossing over the Lebanese-Syrian border to join their Libyan counterparts.

Clearly the conspiracy being pieced together and executed in 2007, described by Seymour Hersh citing a myriad of US, Saudi, and Lebanese sources, is unfolding before our eyes. It was a conspiracy hatched of mutual US-Israeli-Saudi interests, not based on humanitarian concerns or “democracy,” but rather on toppling sovereign nations seen as a threat to their collective extraterritorial influence throughout the region.

Selling A Terrorist Invasion 

The US is executing a strategy where a series of specialized proxies are being used to carry out its geopolitical agenda across the Arab World. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are channeling funding and leading diplomatic efforts to ensure the West’s agenda is presented with an “Arab face,” while factions within nations like Lebanon, Turkey, and Libya handle varying degrees of logistical support and covert military intervention.

Syria is being invaded by proxy, by the US, NATO, Israel, and the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC). Of this there is no doubt. The corporate-financier interests driving this agenda have ensured a propaganda campaign will accompany this effort. This propaganda campaign is as ceaseless as it is shameless.

For example, in yet another CNN article covering Libyan fighters killing in Syria titled, “Libya rebels move onto Syrian battlefield,” we are told that NATO-armed terrorists “tasted the beauty of Jihad” in Libya -  “beauty” Libya is now exporting to Syria.

 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/AoBAFxmmj-Q

Video: Wiped out. Tawarga, once home to 10,000 (this video claims up to 35,000) people, many part of Libya’s black community who had resided in the country for generations, had its inhabitants either exiled, imprisoned or exterminated. NATO-backed militants told the Telegraph in 2011, ” every single one of them has left, and we will never allow them to come back.” These sorts of atrocities are what the corporate-financier driven media sold in Libya, and what they are trying to sell again in Syria, ironically couched in “humanitarian concern.” 
….
CNN’s “beauty” involved a conflict that saw NATO proxy forces empty out entire cities of black Libyans before systematically driving them beyond Libya’s borders either killing or imprisoning those who didn’t or couldn’t flee. This was after cities were blockaded by militants on the ground while NATO ceaselessly bombarded population centers from the air, with the specific goal of starving people into submission.

And for the families of the 3,000 Americans who died on September 11, 2001 who were told Al Qaeda was not just an enemy of America, but an enemy of mankind, or the tens of thousands in America’s Armed Forces who were killed, maimed, and otherwise affected by the decade of war that would follow in the so-called “War on Terror,” the “contradictory aspects” of America’s current foreign policy remain unexplained.

To the victims on both sides of a decade of global war, to see Al Qaeda’s terror campaigns, genocide, and other atrocities now underwritten by NATO and both spun and praised throughout the Western media must seem surreal. And such injustice, hypocrisy and misery will continue until we collectively find the resolve to identify, boycott, and entirely replace the corporate-financier interests driving this surreal paradigm.

Ecuador Accepts Julian Assange’s Bid for Asylum: Report

August 14th, 2012 by Global Research

Citing officials within Ecuador’s government, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has agreed to give Julian Assange asylum, The Guardian reported Tuesday afternoon.

“Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange,” an official in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, who is familiar with the government discussions, told the British newspaper.

The report, which has yet to be verified by other outlets or Wikileaks itself, seems preliminary and has not yet been made official by Correa himself.

Earlier this week, Correa told state-run ECTV that a decision would come this week regarding the Wikileaks’ founder’s request for asylum in Ecuador. Assange sought refuge in the Latin American nation’s embassy in London on June 19 and has remained there since.

The Guardian report continues:

Government sources in Quito confirmed that despite the outstanding legal issues Correa would grant Assange asylum – a move which would annoy Britain, the US and Sweden. They added that the offer was made to Assange several months ago, well before he sought refuge in the embassy, and following confidential negotiations with senior London embassy staff.

The official with knowledge of the discussions said the embassy had discussed Assange’s asylum request. The British government, however, “discouraged the idea,” the offical said. The Swedish government was also “not very collaborative”, the official said.

The official added: “We see Assange’s request as a humanitarian issue. The contact between the Ecuadorean government and WikiLeaks goes back to May 2011, when we became the first country to see the leaked US embassy cables completely declassified … It is clear that when Julian entered the embassy there was already some sort of deal. We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratisation of international relations.”

The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class

August 14th, 2012 by Peter Phillips

This study asks: Who are the the world’s One percent power elite?

And to what extent do they operate in unison for their own private gains over benefits for the 99 percent?

We examine a sample of the 1 percent: the extractor sector, whose companies are on the ground extracting material from the global commons, and using low-cost labor to amass wealth. These companies include oil, gas, and various mineral extraction organizations, whereby the value of the material removed far exceeds the actual cost of removal.We also examine the investment sector of the global 1 percent: companies whose primary activity is the amassing and reinvesting of capital. This sector includes global central banks, major investment money management firms, and other companies whose primary efforts are the concentration and expansion of money, such as insurance companies.

Finally, we analyze how global networks of centralized power—the elite 1 percent, their companies, and various governments in their service—plan, manipulate, and enforce policies that benefit their continued concentration of wealth and power. We demonstrate how the US/NATO military-industrial-media empire operates in service to the transnational corporate class for the protection of international capital in the world.

The Occupy Movement has developed a mantra that addresses the great inequality of wealth and power between the world’s wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of us, the other 99 percent. While the 99 percent mantra undoubtedly serves as a motivational tool for open involvement, there is little understanding as to who comprises the 1 percent and how they maintain power in the world. Though a good deal of academic research has dealt with the power elite in the United States, only in the past decade and half has research on the transnational corporate class begun to emerge.[i]

Foremost among the early works on the idea of an interconnected 1 percent within global capitalism was Leslie Sklair’s 2001 book, The Transnational Capitalist Class.[ii] Sklair believed that globalization was moving transnational corporations (TNC) into broader international roles, whereby corporations’ states of orgin became less important than international argreements developed through the World Trade Organization and other international institutions. Emerging from these multinational corporations was a transnational capitalist class, whose loyalities and interests, while still rooted in their corporations, was increasingly international in scope. Sklair writes:

The transnational capitalist class can be analytically divided into four main fractions: (i) owners and controllers of TNCs and their local affiliates; (ii) globalizing bureaucrats and politicians; (iii) globalizing professionals; (iv) consumerist elites (merchants and media). . . . It is also important to note, of course, that the TCC [transnational corporate class] and each of its fractions are not always entirely united on every issue. Nevertheless, together, leading personnel in these groups constitute a global power elite, dominant class or inner circle in the sense that these terms have been used to characterize the dominant class structures of specific countries.[iii]

Estimates are that the total world’s wealth is close to $200 trillion, with the US and Europe holding approximately 63 percent. To be among the wealthiest half of the world, an adult needs only $4,000 in assets once debts have been subtracted. An adult requires more than $72,000 to belong to the top 10 percent of global wealth holders, and more than $588,000 to be a member of the top 1 percent.  As of 2010, the top 1 percent of the wealthist people in the world had hidden away between $21 trillion to $32 trillion in secret tax exempt bank accounts spread all over the world.[iv] Meanwhile, the poorest half of the global population together possesses less than 2 percent of global wealth.[v] The World Bank reports that, in 2008, 1.29 billion people were living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day, and 1.2 billion more were living on less than $2.00 a day.[vi] Starvation.net reports that 35,000 people, mostly young children, die every day from starvation in the world.[vii] The numbers of unnecessary deaths have exceeded 300 million people over the past forty years. Farmers around the world grow more than enough food to feed the entire world adequately. Global grain production yielded a record 2.3 billion tons in 2007, up 4 percent from the year before—yet, billions of people go hungry every day. Grain.org describes the core reasons for ongoing hunger in a recent article, “Corporations Are Still Making a Killing from Hunger”: while farmers grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and huge grain traders like Cargill control global food prices and distribution.[viii] Addressing the power of the global 1 percent—identifying who they are and what their goals are—are clearly life and death questions.

It is also important to examine the questions of how wealth is created, and how it becomes concentrated. Historically, wealth has been captured and concentrated through conquest by various powerful enities. One need only look at Spain’s appropriation of the wealth of the Aztec and Inca empires in the early sixteenth century for an historical example of this process. The histories of the Roman and British empires are also filled with examples of wealth captured.

Once acquired, wealth can then be used to establish means of production, such as the early British cotton mills, which exploit workers’ labor power to produce goods whose exchange value is greater than the cost of the labor, a process analyzed by Karl Marx in Capital.[ix] A human being is able to produce a product that has a certain value. Organized business hires workers who are paid below the value of their labor power. The result is the creation of what Marx called surplus value, over and above the cost of labor. The creation of surplus value allows those who own the means of production to concentrate capital even more. In addition, concentrated capital accelerates the exploition of natural resources by private entrepreneurs—even though these natural resources are actually the common heritage of all living beings.[x]

In this article, we ask: Who are the the world’s 1 percent power elite? And to what extent do they operate in unison for their own private gains over benefits for the 99 percent? We will examine a sample of the 1 percent: the extractor sector, whose companies are on the ground extracting material from the global commons, and using low-cost labor to amass wealth. These companies include oil, gas, and various mineral extraction organizations, whereby the value of the material removed far exceeds the actual cost of removal.

We will also examine the investment sector of the global 1 percent: companies whose primary activity is the amassing and reinvesting of capital. This sector includes global central banks, major investment money management firms, and other companies whose primary efforts are the concentration and expansion of money, such as insurance companies.

Finally, we analyze how global networks of centralized power—the elite 1 percent, their companies, and various governments in their service—plan, manipulate, and enforce policies that benefit their continued concentration of wealth and power.

The Extractor Sector: The Case of Freeport-McMoRan (FCX)

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) is the world’s largest extractor of copper and gold. The company controls huge deposits in Papua, Indonesia, and also operates in North and South America, and in Africa. In 2010, the company sold 3.9 billion pounds of copper, 1.9 million ounces of gold, and 67 million pounds of molybdenum. In 2010, Freeport-McMoRan reported revenues of $18.9 billion and a net income of $4.2 billion.[xi]

The Grasberg mine in Papua, Indonesia, employs 23,000 workers at wages below three dollars an hour. In September 2011, workers went on strike for higher wages and better working conditions. Freeport had offered a 22 percent increase in wages, and strikers said it was not enough, demanding an increase to an international standard of seventeen to forty-three dollars an hour. The dispute over pay attracted local tribesmen, who had their own grievances over land rights and pollution; armed with spears and arrows, they joined Freeport workers blocking the mine’s supply roads.[xii] During the strikers’ attempt to block busloads of replacement workers, security forces financed by Freeport killed or wounded several strikers.

Freeport has come under fire internationally for payments to authorities for security. Since 1991, Freeport has paid nearly thirteen billion dollars to the Indonesian government—one of Indonesia’s largest sources of income—at a 1.5 percent royalty rate on extracted gold and copper, and, as a result, the Indonesian military and regional police are in their pockets. In October 2011, the Jakarta Globe reported that Indonesian security forces in West Papua, notably the police, receive extensive direct cash payments from Freeport-McMoRan. Indonesian National Police Chief Timur Pradopo admitted that officers received close to ten million dollars annually from Freeport, payments Pradopo described as “lunch money.” Prominent Indonesian nongovernmental organization Imparsial puts the annual figure at fourteen million dollars.[xiii] These payments recall even larger ones made by Freeport to Indonesian military forces over the years which, once revealed, prompted a US Security and Exchange Commission investigation of Freeport’s liability under the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In addition, the state’s police and army have been criticized many times for human rights violations in the remote mountainous region, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases in which Indonesian police have used unnecessary force against strikers and their supporters. For example, Indonesian security forces attacked a mass gathering in the Papua capital, Jayapura, and striking workers at the Freeport mine in the southern highlands. At least five people were killed and many more injured in the assaults, which shows a continuing pattern of overt violence against peaceful dissent. Another brutal and unjustified attack on October 19, 2011, on thousands of Papuans exercising their rights to assembly and freedom of speech, resulted in the death of at least three Papuan civilians, the beating of many, the detention of hundreds, and the arrest of six, reportedly on treason charges.[xiv]

On November 7, 2011, the Jakarta Globe reported that “striking workers employed by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s subsidiary in Papua have dropped their minimum wage increase demands from $7.50 to $4.00 an hour, the All-Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI) said.”[xv] Virgo Solosa, an official from the union, told the Jakarta Globe that they considered the demands, up from the (then) minimum wage of $1.50 an hour, to be “the best solution for all.”

Workers at Freeport’s Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru also went on strike around the same time, highlighting the global dimension of the Freeport confrontation. The Cerro Verde workers demanded pay raises of 11 percent, while the company offered just 3 percent.

The Peruvian strike ended on November 28, 2011.[xvi] And on December 14, 2011, Freeport-McMoRan announced a settlement at the Indonesian mine, extending the union’s contract by two years. Workers at the Indonesia operation are to see base wages, which currently start at as little as $2.00 an hour, rise 24 percent in the first year of the pact and 13 percent in the second year. The accord also includes improvements in benefits and a one-time signing bonus equivalent to three months of wages.[xvii]

In both Freeport strikes, the governments pressured strikers to settle. Not only was domestic militrary and police force evident, but also higher levels of international involvement. Throughout the Freeport-McMoRan strike, the Obama administration ignored the egregious violation of human rights  and instead advanced US–Indonesian military ties. US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who arrived in Indonesia in the immediate wake of the Jayapura attack, offered no criticism of the assault and reaffirmed US support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity. Panetta also reportedly commended Indonesia’s handling of a weeks-long strike at Freeport-McMoRan.[xviii]

US President Barack Obama visited Indonesia in November 2011 to strengthen relations with Jakarta as part of Washington’s escalating efforts to combat Chinese influence in the Asia–Pacific region. Obama had just announced that the US and Australia would begin a rotating deployment of 2,500 US Marines to a base in Darwin, a move ostensibly to modernize the US posture in the region, and to allow participation in “joint training” with Australian military counterparts. But some speculate that the US has a hidden agenda in deploying marines to Australia. The Thai newspaper The Nation has suggested that one of the reasons why US Marines might be stationed in Darwin could be that they would provide remote security assurance to US-owned Freeport-McMoRan’s gold and copper mine in West Papua, less than a two-hour flight away.[xix]

The fact that workers at Freeport’s Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru were also striking at the same time highlights the global dimension of the Freeport confrontation. The Peruvian workers are demanding pay rises of eleven percent, while the company has offered just three percent. The strike was lifted on November 28, 2011.[xx]

In both Freeport strikes, the governments pressured strikers to settle. Not only was domestic militrary and police force evident, but also higher levels of international involvement. The fact that the US Secretary of Defense mentioned a domestic strike in Indonesa shows that the highest level of power are in play on issues affecting the international corporate 1 percent and their profits.

Public opinion is strongly against Freeport in Indonesia. On August 8, 2011, Karishma Vaswani of the BBC reported that “the US mining firm Freeport-McMoRan has been accused of everything from polluting the environment to funding repression in its four decades working in the Indonesian province of Papau. . . . Ask any Papuan on the street what they think of Freeport and they will tell you that the firm is a thief, said Nelels Tebay, a Papuan pastor and coordinator of the Papua Peace Network.”[xxi]

Freeport strikers won support from the US Occupy movement. Occupy Phoenix and East Timor Action Network activists marched to Freeport headquarters in Phoenix on October 28, 2011, to demonstrate against the Indonesian police killings at Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg mine.[xxii]

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) chairman of the board James R. Moffett owns over four million shares with a value of close to $42.00 each. According to the FCX annual meeting report released in June 2011, Moffett’s annual compensation from FCX in 2010 was $30.57 million. Richard C. Adkerson, president of the board of FCX, owns over 5.3 million shares. His total compensation in was also $30.57 million in 2010 Moffett’s and Adkerson’s incomes put them in the upper levels of the world’s top 1 percent. Their interconnectness with the highest levels of power in the White House and the Pentagon, as indicated by the specific attention given to them by the US secretary of defense, and as suggested by the US president’s awareness of their circumstances, leaves no doubt that Freeport-MacMoRan executives and board are firmly positioned at the highest levels of the transnational corporate class.

Freeport-McMoRan’s Board of Directors

James R. Moffett—Corporate and policy affiliations: cochairman, president, and CEO of McMoRan Exploration Co.; PT Freeport Indonesia; Madison Minerals Inc.; Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans; Agrico, Inc.; Petro-Lewis Funds, Inc.; Bright Real Estate Services, LLC; PLC–ALPC, Inc.; FM Services Co.

Richard C. Adkerson—Corporate and policy affiliations: Arthur Anderson Company; chairman of International Council on Mining and Metals; executive board of the International Copper Association, Business Council, Business Roundtable, Advisory Board of the Kissinger Institute, Madison Minerals Inc.

Robert Allison Jr.—Corporate affiliations: Anadarko Petroleum (2010 revenue: $11 billion); Amoco Projection Company.

Robert A. Day—Corporate affiliations: CEO of W. M. Keck Foundation (2010 assets: more than $1 billion); attorney in Costa Mesa, California.

Gerald J. Ford—Corporate affiliations: Hilltop Holdings Inc, First Acceptance Corporation, Pacific Capital Bancorp (Annual Sales $13 billion), Golden State Bancorp, FSB (federal savings bank that merged with Citigroup in 2002) Rio Hondo Land & Cattle Company (annual sales $1.6 million), Diamond Ford, Dallas (sales: $200 million), Scientific Games Corp., SWS Group (annual sales: $422 million); American Residential Cmnts LLC.

H. Devon Graham Jr.—Corporate affiliations: R. E. Smith Interests (an asset management company; income: $670,000).

Charles C. Krulak—Corporate and governmental affiliations: president of Birmingham-South College; commandant of the Marine Corp, 1995–1999; MBNA Corp.; Union Pacific Corporation (annual sales: $17 billion); Phelps Dodge (acquired by FCX in 2007).

Bobby Lee Lackey—Corporate affiliations: CEO of McManusWyatt-Hidalgo Produce Marketing Co.

Jon C. Madonna—Corporate affiliations: CEO of KPMG, (professional services auditors; annual sales: $22.7 billion); AT&T (2011 revenue: $122 billion); Tidewater Inc. (2011 revenue: $1.4 billion).

Dustan E. McCoy—Corporate affiliations: CEO of Brunswick Corp. (revenue: $4.6 billion); Louisiana-Pacific Corp. (2011 revenue: $1.7 billion).

B. M. Rankin Jr.—Corporate affiliations: board vice chairman of FCX; cofounder of McMoRan Oil and Gas in 1969.

Stephen Siegele—Corporate affiliations: founder/CEO of Advanced Delivery and Chemical Systems Inc.; Advanced Technology Solutions; Flourine on Call Ltd.

The board of directors of Freeport-McMoRan represents a portion of the global 1 percent who not only control the largest gold and copper mining company in the world, but who are also interconnected by board membership with over two dozen major multinational corporations, banks, foundations, military, and policy groups. This twelve-member board is a tight network of individuals who are interlocked with—and influence the policies of—other major companies controlling approximately $200 billion in annual revenues.

Freeport-McMoRan exemplifies how the extractor sector acquires wealth from the common heritage of natural materials—which rightfully belongs to us all—by appropriating the surplus value of working people’s labor in the theft of our commons. This process is protected by governments in various countries where Freeport maintains mining operations, with the ultimate protector being the military empire of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Further, Freeport-McMoRan is connected to one of the most elite transnational capitalist groups in the world: over 7 percent of Freeport’s stock is held by BlackRock, Inc., a major investment management firm based in New York City.

The Investment Sector: The Case of BlackRock, Inc.

Internationally, many firms operate primarily as investment organizations, managing capital and investing in other companies. These firms often do not actually make anything except money, and are keen to prevent interference with return on capital by taxation, regulations, and governmental interventions anywhere in the world.

BlackRock, based in Manhattan, is the largest assets management firm in the world, with over 10,000 employees and investment teams in twenty-seven countries. Their client base includes corporate, public, union, and industry pension plans; governments; insurance companies; third-party mutual funds; endowments; foundations; charities; corporations; official institutions; sovereign wealth funds; banks; financial professionals; and individuals worldwide. BlackRock acquired Barclay Global Investors in December of 2009. As of March 2012, BlackRock manages assets worth $3.68 trillion in equity, fixed income, cash management, alternative investment, real estate, and advisory strategies.[xxiii]

In addition to Freeport-McMoRan, BlackRock has major holdings in Chevron (49 million shares, 2.5 percent), Goldman Sachs Group (13 million shares, 2.7 percent), Exxon Mobil (121 million shares, 2.5 percent), Bank of America (251 million shares, 2.4 percent), Monsanto Company (12 million shares, 2.4 percent), Microsoft Corp. (185 million shares, 2.2 percent), and many more.[xxiv]

BlackRock manages investments of both public and private funds, including California Public Employee’s Retirement System, California State Teacher’s Retirement System, Freddie Mac, Boy Scouts of America, Boeing, Sears, Verizon, Raytheon, PG&E, NY City Retirement Systems, LA County Employees Retirement Association, GE, Cisco, and numerous others.

According to BlackRock’s April 2011 annual report to stockholders, the board of directors consists of eighteen members. The board is classified into three equal groups—Class I, Class II, and Class III—with terms of office of the members of one class expiring each year in rotation. Members of one class are generally elected at each annual meeting and serve for full three-year terms, or until successors are elected and qualified. Each class consists of approximately one-third of the total number of directors constituting the entire board of directors.

BlackRock has stockholder agreements with Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation; and Barclays Bank PLC and its subsidiaries. Two to four members of the board are from BlackRock management; one director is designated by Merrill Lynch; two directors, each in a different class, are designated by PNC Bank; two directors, each in a different class, are designated by Barclays; and the remaining directors are independent.

BlackRock’s Board of Directors

Class I Directors (terms expire in 2012):

William S. Demchak—Corporate affiliations: senior vice chairman of PNC (assets: $271 billion); J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. (2011 assets: $2.2 trillion).

Kenneth B. Dunn, PhD—Corporate and institutional affiliations: professor of financial economics at the David A. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University; former managing director of Morgan Stanley Investment (assets: $807 billion).

Laurence D. Fink—Corporate and institutional affiliations: chairman/CEO of BlackRock; trustee of New York University; trustee of Boys Club of NY.

Robert S. Kapito—Corporate and institutional affiliations: president of BlackRock; trustee of Wharton School University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas H. O’Brien—Corporate affiliations: former CEO of PNC; Verizon Communications, Inc. (2011 revenue: $110 billion).

Ivan G. Seidenberg—Corporate and policy affiliations: board chairman of Verizon Communications; former CEO of Bell Atlantic; Honeywell International Inc. (2010 revenue: $33.3 billion); Pfizer Inc. (2011 revenue: $64 billion); chairman of the Business Roundtable; National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee; President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences.[xxv]

Class II Directors (terms expire in 2013):

Abdlatif Yousef Al-Hamad—Corporate and institutional affiliations: board chairman of Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (assets: $2.7 trillion); former Minister of Finance and Minister of Planning of Kuwait, Kuwait Investment Authority. Multilateral Development Banks, International Advisory Boards of Morgan Stanley, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., American International Group, Inc. and the National Bank of Kuwait.

Mathis Cabiallavetta—Corporate affiliations: Swiss Reinsurance Company (2010 revenue: $28 billion); CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (2011 revenue: $11.5 billion); Union Bank of Switzerland-UBS A.G. (2012 assets: $620 billion); Philip Morris International Inc. (2010 revenue: $27 billion).

Dennis D. Dammerman—Corporate affiliations: General Electric Company (2012 revenue: $147 billion); Capmark Financial Group Inc. (formally GMAC); American International Group (AIG) (2010 revenue: $77 billion); Genworth Financial (2010 assets: $100 billion); Swiss Reinsurance Company (2012 assets: $620 billion); Discover Financial Services (2011 revenue: $3.4 billion).

Robert E. Diamond Jr.—Corporate and policy affiliations: CEO of Barclays (2011 revenue: $32 billion); International Advisory Board of the British-American Business Council.

David H. Komansky—Corporate affiliations: CEO of Merrill Lynch (division of Bank of America 2009) (2011 assets management: $2.3 trillion); Burt’s Bees, Inc. (owned by Clorox); WPP Group plc (2011 revenue: $15 billion).

James E. Rohr—Corporate affiliations: CEO of PNC (2011 revenue: $14 billion).

James Grosfeld—Corporate affiliations: CEO of Pulte Homes, Inc. (2010 revenue: $4.5 billion); Lexington Realty Trust (2011 assets: $1.2 billion).

Sir Deryck Maughan—Corporate and policy affiliations: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (2011 assets: $8.6 billion); former CEO of Salomon Brothers from 1992 to 1997 a Chairman of the US-Japan Business Council; GlaxoSmithKline plc (2011 revenue: $41 billion); Thomson Reuters Corporation (2011 revenue: $13.8 billion).

Thomas K. Montag—Corporate affiliations: president of Global Banking & Markets for Bank of America (2011 revenue: $94 billion); Merrill Lynch (division of Bank of America, 2009; 2011 assets management: $2.3 trillion); Goldman Sachs (2011 revenue: $28.8 billion).

Class III Directors (terms expire in 2014):

Murry S. Gerber—Corporate affiliations: executive chairman of EQT (2010 revenue: $1.3 billion); Halliburton Company.

Linda Gosden Robinson—Corporate affiliations: former CEO of Robinson Lerer & Montgomery; Young & Rubicam Inc.; WPP Group plc. (2011 revenue: $15 billion); Revlon, Inc. (2011 revenue: $1.3 billion).

John S. Varley—Corporate affiliations: CEO of Barclays (2011 revenue: $32 billion); AstraZeneca PLC (2011 revenue: $33.5 billion).

BlackRock is one of the most concentrated power networks among the global 1 percent. The eightteen members of the board of directors are connected to a significant part of the world’s core financial assests. Their decisions can change empires, destroy currencies, and impoverish millions. Some of the top financial giants of the capitalist world are connected by interlocking boards of directors at BlackRock, including Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, PNC Bank, Barclays, Swiss Reinsurance Company, American International Group (AIG), UBS A.G., Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Morgan Stanley.

A 2011 University of Zurich study, research completed by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, Stefano Battiston at the Swiss Federal Institute, reports that a small group of companies—mainly banks—wields huge power over the global economy.[xxvi] Using data from Orbis 2007, a database listing thirty-seven million companies and investors, the Swiss researchers applied mathematical models—usually used to model natural systems—to the world economy. The study is the first to look at all 43,060 transnational corporations and the web of ownership between them. The research created a “map” of 1,318 companies at the heart of the global economy. The study found that 147 companies formed a “super entity” within this map, controlling some 40 percent of its wealth. The top twenty-five of the 147 super-connected companies includes:

1. Barclays PLC*

2. Capital Group Companies Inc.

3. FMR Corporation

4. AXA

5. State Street Corporation

6. J. P. Morgan Chase & Co.*

7. Legal & General Group PLC

8. Vanguard Group Inc.

9. UBS AG

10. Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.*

11. Wellington Management Co. LLP

12. Deutsche Bank AG

13. Franklin Resources Inc.

14. Credit Suisse Group*

15. Walton Enterprises LLC

16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp

17. Natixis

18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.*

19. T Rowe Price Group Inc.

20. Legg Mason Inc.

21. Morgan Stanley*

22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.

23. Northern Trust Corporation

24. Société Générale

25. Bank of America Corporation*

* BlackRock Directors

Notably, for our purposes, BlackRock board members have direct connections to at least seven of the top twenty-five corporations that Vitali et al. identify as an international “super entity.” BlackRock’s board has direct links to seven of the twenty-five most interconnected corporations in the world. BlackRock’s eighteen board members control and influence tens of trillions of dollars of wealth in the world and represent a core of the super-connected financial sector corporations.

Below is a sample cross section of key figures and corporate assets among the global economic “super entity” identified by Vitali et al.

Other Key Figures and Corporate Connections within the Highest Levels of the  Global Economic “Super Entity”

Capital Group Companies—Privately held, based in Los Angeles, manages $1 trillion in assets.

FMR—One of the world’s largest mutual fund firms, managing $1.5 trillion in assets and serving more than twenty million individual and institutional clients; Edward C. (Ned) Johnson III, Chairman and CEO.

AXA—Manages $1.5 trillion in assets, serving 101 million clients; Henri de Castries, CEO AXA, and Director, Nestlé (Switzerland).

State Street Corporation—Operates from Boston with assest management at $1.9 trillion; directors include Joseph L. Hooley, CEO of State Street Corporation; Kennett F. Burnes, retired chairman and CEO of Cabot Corporation(2011 revenue: $3.1 billion).

JP Morgan/Chase (2011 assets: $2.3 trillion)—Board of directors: James A. Bell, retired executive VP of The Boeing Company; Stephen B. Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, and executive VP of Comcast Corporation; David M. Cote, CEO of Honeywell International, Inc.; Timothy P. Flynn, retired chairman of KPMG International; and Lee R. Raymond, retired CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Vanguard (2011 assets under management: $1.6 trillion)—Directors: Emerson U. Fullwood, VP of Xerox Corporation; JoAnn Heffernan Heisen, VP of Johnson & Johnson, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Mark Loughridge, CFO of IBM, Global Financing; Alfred M. Rankin Jr., CEO of NACCO Industries, Inc., National Association of Manufacturers, Goodrich Corp, and chairman of Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

UBS AG (2012 assets: $620 billion)—Directors include: Michel Demaré, board member of Syngenta and the IMD Foundation (Lausanne); David Sidwell, former CFO of Morgan Stanley.

Merrill Lynch (Bank of America) (2011 assets management: $2.3 trillion)—Directors include: Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America; Rosemary T. Berkery, general counsel for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch (formerly Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc), member of New York Stock Exchange’s Legal Advisory Committee, director at Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association; Mark A. Ellman, managing director of Credit Suisse, First Boston; Dick J. Barrett, cofounder of Ellman Stoddard Capital Partners, MetLife, Citi Group, UBS, Carlyle Group, ImpreMedia, Verizon Communications, Commonewealth Scientific and Industrial Research Org, Fluor Corp, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs Group.

The directors of these super-connected companies represent a small portion of the global 1 percent. Most people with assets in excess of $588,000 are not major players in international finance. At best, they hire asset management firms to produce a return on their capital. Often their net worth is tied up in nonfinancial assets such a real estate and businesses.

Analysis: TCC and Global Power

So how does the transnational corporate class (TCC) maintain wealth concentration and power in the world? The wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s population represents approximately forty million adults. These forty million people are the richest segment of the first tier populations in the core countries and intermittently in other regions. Most of this 1 percent have professional jobs with security and tenure working for or associated with established institutions. Approximately ten million of these individuals have assets in excess of one million dollars, and approximately 100,000 have financials assets worth over thirty million dollars. Immediately below the 1 percent in the first tier are working people with regular employment in major corporations, government, self-owned businesses, and various institutions of the world. This first tier constitutes about 30–40 percent of the employed in the core developed countries, and some 30 percent in the second tier economies and down to 20 percent in the periphery economies (sometimes referred to as the 3rd world). The second tier of global workers represents growing armies of casual labor: the global factory workers, street workers, and day laborers intermittently employed with increasingly less support from government and social welfare organizations. These workers, mostly concentrated in the megacities, constitute some 30–40 percent of the workers in the core industrialized economies and some 20 percent in the second tier and peripheral economies. This leaves a third tier of destitute people worldwide ranging from 30 percent of adults in the core and secondary economies to fully 50 percent of the people in peripherial countries who have extremely limited income opportunities and struggle to survive on a few dollars a day. These are the 2.5 billion people who live on less than two dollars a day, die by the tens of thousands every day from malnutrition and easily curible illnesses, and who have probably never even heard a dial tone.[xxvii]

As seen in our extractor sector and investment sector samples, corporate elites are interconnected through direct board connections with some seventy major multinational corporations, policy groups, media organizations, and other academic or nonprofit institutions. The investment sector sample shows much more powerful financial links than the extractor sample; nonetheless, both represent vast networks of resources concentrated within each company’s board of directors. The short sample of directors and resources from eight other of the superconnected companies replicates this pattern of multiple board corporate connections, policy groups, media and government, controlling vast global resources. These interlock relationships recur across the top interconnected companies among the transnational corporate class, resulting in a highly concentrated and powerful network of individuals who share a common interest in preserving their elite domination.

Sociological research shows that interlocking directorates have the potential to faciliate political cohesion. A sense of a collective “we” emerges within such power networks, whereby members think and act in unison, not just for themselves and their individual firms, but for a larger sense of purpose—the good of the order, so to speak.[xxviii]

Transnational corporate boards meet on a regular basis to encourage the maximunization of profit and the long-term viability of their firm’s business plans. If they arrange for payments to government officials, conduct activities that undermine labor organizations, seek to manipulate the price of commodies (e.g. gold), or engage in insider trading in some capacity, they are in fact forming conspiratorial alliances inside those boards of directors. Our sample of thirty directors inside two connected companies have influence with some of the most powerful policy groups in the world, including British–American Business Council, US–Japan Business Council, Business Roundtable, Business Council, and the Kissinger Institute. They influence some ten trillion dollars in monetery resouces and control the working lives of many hundreds of thousands of people. All in all, they are a power elite unto themselves, operating in a world of power elite networks as the de facto ruling class of the capitalist world.

Moreover, this 1 percent global elite dominates and controls public relations firms and the corporate media. Global corporate media protect the interests of the 1 percent by serving as a propaganda machine for the superclass. The corporate media provide entertainment for the masses and distorts the realities of inequality. Corporate news is managed by the 1 percent to maintain illusions of hope and to divert blame from the powerful for hard times.[xxix]

Four of the thirty directors in our two-firm sample are directly connected with public relations and media. Thomas H. O’Brien and Ivan G. Seidenberg are both on the board of Verizon Communications, where Seidenberg serves as chairman. Verizon reported over $110 billion in operating revenues in 2011.[xxx] David H. Komansky and Linda Gosden Robinson are on the board of WPP Group, which describes itself as the world leader in marketing communications services, grossing over $65 billion in 2011. WPP is a conglomerate of many of the world’s leading PR and marketing firms, in fields that include advertising, media investment management, consumer insight, branding and identity, health care communications, and direct digital promotion and relationship marketing.[xxxi]

Even deeper inside the 1 percent of wealthy elites is what David Rothkopf calls the superclass. David Rothkopf, former managing director of Kissinger Associates and deputy undersecretary of commerce for international trade policies, published his book Superclass: the Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, in 2008.[xxxii] According to Rothkopf, the superclass constitutes approximately 0.0001 percent of the world’s population, comprised of 6,000 to 7,000 people—some say 6,660. They are the Davos-attending, Gulfstream/private jet–flying, money-incrusted, megacorporation-interlocked, policy-building elites of the world, people at the absolute peak of the global power pyramid. They are 94 percent male, predominantly white, and mostly from North America and Europe. These are the people setting the agendas at the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, G-8, G-20, NATO, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. They are from the highest levels of finance capital, transnational corporations, the government, the military, the academy, nongovernmental organizations, spiritual leaders, and other shadow elites. Shadow elites include, for instance,  the deep politics of national security organizations in connection with international drug cartels, who extract 8,000 tons of opium from US war zones annually, then launder $500 billion through transnational banks, half of which are US-based.[xxxiii]

Rothkoft’s understanding of the superclass is one based on influence and power. Although there are over 1,000 billionaires in the world, not all are necessarily part of the superclass in terms of influencing global policies. Yet these 1,000 billionaires have twice as much wealth as the 2.5 billion least wealthy people, and they are fully aware of the vast inequalities in the world. The billionaires and the global 1 percent are similar to colonial plantation owners. They know they are a small minority with vast resources and power, yet they must continually worry about the unruly exploited masses rising in rebellion. As a result of these class insecurities, the superclass works hard to protect this structure of concentrated wealth. Protection of capital is the prime reason that NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world’s defense spending, with the US spending more on military than the rest of the world combined.[xxxiv] Fears of  inequality rebellions and other forms of unrest motivate NATO’s global agenda in the war on terror.[xxxv] The Chicago 2012 NATO Summit Declaration reads:

As Alliance leaders, we are determined to ensure that NATO retains and develops the capabilities necessary to perform its essential core tasks collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security—and thereby to play an essential role promoting security in the world. We must meet this responsibility while dealing with an acute financial crisis and responding to evolving geo-strategic challenges. NATO allows us to achieve greater security than any one Ally could attain acting alone.

We confirm the continued importance of a strong transatlantic link and Alliance solidarity as well as the significance of sharing responsibilities, roles, and risks to meet the challenges North-American and European Allies face together . . . we have confidently set ourselves the goal of NATO Forces 2020: modern, tightly connected forces equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together and with partners in any (emphaisis added) environment.[xxxvi]

NATO is quickly emerging as the police force for the transnational corporate class. As the TCC more fully emerged in the 1980s, coinciding with the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), NATO began broader operations. NATO first ventured into the Balkans, where it remains, and then moved into Afghanistan. NATO started a training mission in Iraq in 2005, has recently conducted operations in Libya, and, as of July 2012, is considering military action in Syria.

It has become clear that the superclass uses NATO for its global security. This is part of an expanding strategy of US military domination around the world, wherby the US/NATO military-industrial-media empire operates in service to the transnational corporate class for the protection of international capital anywhere in the world.[xxxvii]

Sociologists William Robinson and Jerry Harris anticipated this situation in 2000, when they described “a shift from the social welfare state to the social control (police) state replete with the dramatic expansion of public and private security forces, the mass incarceration of the excluded populations (disproportionately minorities), new forms of social apartheid . . . and anti-immigrant legislation.”[xxxviii] Robinson and Harris’s theory accurately predicts the agenda of today’s global superclass, including

—President Obama’s continuation of the police state agendas of his executive predecessors, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush;

—the long-range global dominance agenda of the superclass, which uses US/NATO military forces to discourage resisting states and maintain internal police repression, in service of the capitalist system’s orderly maintenance;

—and the continued consolidation of capital around the world without interference from governments or egalitarian social movements.[xxxix]

Furthermore, this agenda leads to the further pauperization of the poorest half of the world’s population, and an unrelenting downward spiral of wages for everyone in the second tier, and even some within the first tier.[xl] It is a world facing economic crisis, where the neoliberal solution is to spend less on human needs and more on security.[xli] It is a world of financial institutions run amok, where the answer to bankruptcy is to print more money through quantitative easing with trillions of new inflation-producing dollars. It is a world of permanent war, whereby spending for destruction requires even more spending to rebuild, a cycle that profits the TCC and its global networks of economic power. It is a world of drone killings, extrajudicial assassinations, and death and destruction, at home and abroad.

As Andrew Kollin states in State Power and Democracy, “There is an Orwellian dimension to the Administration’s (Bush and later Obama) perspective, it chose to disregard the law, instead creating decrees to legitimate illegal actions, giving itself permision to act without any semblances of power sharing as required by the Constitution or international law.”[xlii]

And in Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Dennis Loo writes, “The bottom line, the fundamential division of our society, is between, on the one hand, those whose interests rest on the dominance and the drive for monopolizing the society and planet’s resources and, on the other hand, those whose interests lie in the husbanding of thoses resources for the good of the whole rather than the part.”[xliii]

The Occupy movement uses the 1 percent vs. 99 percent mantra as a master concept in its demonstrations, disruptions, and challenges to the practices of the transnational corporate class, within which the global superclass is a key element in the implementation of a superelite agenda for permanent war and total social control. Occupy is exactly what the superclass fears the most—a global democratic movement that exposes the TCC agenda and the continuing theater of government elections, wherein the actors may change but the marquee remains the same. The more that Occupy refuses to cooperate with the TCC agenda and mobilizes activists, the more likely the whole TCC system of dominance will fall to its knees under the people power of democractic movements.

Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and president of the Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored.

Kimberly Soeiro is a sociology student at Sonoma State University, library researcher, and activist.

Special thanks to Mickey Huff, director of Project Censored, and Andy Roth, associate director of Project Censored, for editing and for important suggestons for this article.

Notes

[i] For a more scholarly background on this subject, the following are required reading: C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, New York, Oxford University Press, 1956; G. Willian Domhoff, Who Rules America 6th edition, Boston, McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2009; William Carroll, The Making of a Transnational Capitalist Class, Zed Books, 2010.

[ii] Leslie Sklair, The Transnational Capitalist Class, Oxford, UK, Blackwell, 2001.

[iii] Leslie Sklair, “The Transnational Capitalist Class And The Discourse Of Globalization,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 2000, http://www.theglobalsite.ac.uk/press/012sklair.htm

[iv] Tax Havens: Super-rich hiding at least $21 trillion, BBC News, July 22, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18944097

[v] Tyler Durgen, A Detailed Look At Global Wealth Distribution, 10/11/10, http://www.zerohedge.com/article/detailed-look-global-wealth-distribution.

[vi] “World Bank Sees Progress Against Extreme Poverty, But Flags Vulnerabilities,” World Bank, Press Release No. 2012/297/Dec., February 29, 2012, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:23130032~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html.

[vii] Mark Ellis, The Three Top Sins of the Universe, http://www.starvation.net/.

[viii] “Corporatons are Still Making a Killing from Hunger,” April 2009, Grain, http://www.grain.org/article/entries/716-corporations-are-still-making-a-killing-from-hunger.

[ix] On the extraction of surplus-value from labor, see Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 3 (New York and London: Penguin, 1991[1894]).

[x] See, e.g., Paul Burkett, Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective (New York: St. Martins, 1999), Chapter 6; for additional information on the Fair Share of the Common Heritage see, http://www.fairsharecommonheritage.org/.

[xi] Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Notice of Annual Meeting of Stockholders, June 15, 2011, document April 28, 2001, www.ecocumentview.com/FCX_MTG.

[xii] “Freeport Indonesia Miners, Tribesmen Defend Road Blockades,” Reuters Africa, November 4, 2011, http://af.reuters.com/article/metalsNews/idAFL4E7M410020111104.

[xiii] “Police Admit to Receiving Freeport ‘Lunch Money,’” Frank Arnaz, Jakarta Globe, October 28, 2011,

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/police-admit-to-receiving-freeport-lunch-money/474747.

[xiv] “Indonesia must investigate mine strike protest killing,” Amnesty International News, October 10, 2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/indonesia-must-investigate-mine-strike-protest-killing-2011-10-10; West Papua Report, November 2011, http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/2011/1111wpap.htm.

[xv] Camelia Pasandaran, “Striking Freeport Employees Lower Wage Increase Demands,”Jakarta Globe, | November 7, 2011, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/striking-freeport-employees-lower-wage-increase-demands/476800.

[xvi] Alex Emery, “Freeport Cerro Verde, Workers Sign Three-Year Labor Accord,” Bloomberg News,

December 22, 2011, http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/freeport-cerro-verde-peru-workers-sign-three-year-labor-accord.

[xvii] Eric Bellman and Tess Stynes, “Freeport-McMoRan Says Pact Ends Indonesia Strike,” Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203893404577098222935896112.html.

[xviii] John Pakage, “When there is no guarantee of the security of life for the people of Papau,” West Papua Media Alerts, March 1, 2012, http://westpapuamedia.info/tag/freeport-McMoRan/.

[xix] “Reasons to go the Darwin,” The Nation (Thailand), November 30, 2011, http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Reasons-to-go-to-Darwin-30170893.html

[xxi] Karishma Vaswani, “US Firm Freeport Struggles to Escape Its Past in Papua,” BBC News, Jakarta,

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14417718.

[xxii] Phoenix Arizona, October 28, 2011, Youtube report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvJxy2GvOHE.

[xxiii] BlackRock About Us: http://www2.blackrock.com/global/home/AboutUs/index.htm.

[xxiv] Data for this section is drawn for StreetInsider.com.

[xxv] Data for the corporations listed in this section comes fron the annual report at each corporation’s website. Biography information was gained from the FAX annual report to investors and online biographies for individuals wihen available.

[xxvi] Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston, “The Network of Global Corporate Control,” PLoS ONE, October 26, 2011, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0025995.

[xxvii] Willian Robinson and Jerry Harris, “Towards a Global Ruling Class? Globalization and the Transnational Capitalist Class, Science and Society 64, no. 1 (Spring 2000).

[xxviii] Val Burris, “Interlocking Directorates and Political Cohesion Among Corporate Elites,” American Journal of Sociology 3, no. 1 (July 2005).

[xxix] Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, “Truth Emergency: Inside the Military-Industrial Media Empire,” Censored 2010 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009), 197–220.

[xxx] Verizon Financials 2012, http://www22.verizon.com/investor/ Hoovers describes Verizon as, “the #2 US telecom services provider overall after AT&T, but it holds the top spot in wireless services ahead of rival AT&T Mobility.” Hoovers Inc. http://www.hoovers.com/company/Verizon_Communications_Inc/rfrski-1.html.

[xxxi] WPP: http://www.wpp.com/wpp/about/wppataglance/.

[xxxii] David Rothkopf, SuperClass: the Global Power Elite and the World They are Making (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008).

[xxxiii] Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010). See also Censored Story #22, “Wachovia Bank Laundered Money for Latin American Drug Cartels,” in Chapter 1.

[xxxiv] David Rothkopf, Superclass, Public Address: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 9, 2008.

[xxxv] NATO: Defence Against Terrorism Programme, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-EBFFE857-6607109D/natolive/topics_50313.htm?selectedLocale=en.

[xxxvi] NATO, Summit Declaration on Defence Capabilities: Toward NATO Forces 2020, May 20, 2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-1CE3D0B6-393C986D/natolive/official_texts_87594.htm.

[xxxvii] For an expanded analysis of the history of US “global dominance,” see Peter Phillips, Bridget Thornton and Celeste Vogler, “The Global Dominance Group: 9/11 Pre-Warnings & Election Irregularities in Context,” May 2, 2010, http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/the-global-dominance-group/ and Peter Phillips, Bridget Thornton, and Lew Brown, “The Global Dominance Group and U.S. Corporate Media,” Censored 2007 (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 307–333.

[xxxviii] Willian Robinson and Jerry Harris, “Towards a Global Ruling Class? Globalization and the Transnational Capitalist Class, Science and Society 64, no. 1 (Spring 2000).

[xxxix] John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World (New York: Verso, 2003).

[xl] Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, eds., The Global Economic Crisis (Montréal: Global Research Publishers, 2010).

[xli] Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead Press, 2011).

[xlii] Andrew Kolin, State Power and Democracy (New York: Palgrave MacMillan,c2011), 141.

[xliii] Loo, Globalization, op cit., 357.

La mayoría desposeída

August 14th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

El conductor no era evidentemente acaudalado. Sin embargo, a pesar de todas las noticias sobre los rescates bankster por valor de mega-billones de dólares, de bonificaciones por mega-millones de dólares para financistas facinerosos, y de inimaginables paquetes de compensación para directores ejecutivos corporativos que han exportado puestos de trabajo de EE.UU., algo hizo que el desvalido conductor se asociara con el partido político de los súper-ricos.

Mientras me sorprendía la extraña alianza de los desamparados con los mega-ricos, recordé que en 2004 Thomas Frank se preguntaba cómo los republicanos habían logrado convencer a los pobres para que votaran contra sus mejores intereses. La respuesta, o parte de la respuesta, de Frank es que los republicanos utilizan “temas sociales”, como el matrimonio gay y la exhibición del pezón de Janet Jackson, para provocar indignación ante la amenaza a los valores morales planteada por demócratas liberales.

Los trabajadores pobres han sido convencidos por la propaganda republicana de que votar a los demócratas significa entregar los dólares de los impuestos de los trabajadores pobres a los pobres que no trabajan, proveer atención médica y educación a extranjeros ilegales, y ser blando frente el terrorismo.

Para el conductor de la camioneta, defender a EE.UU. significa defender los rescates de los bánksteres y las guerras multibillonarias del complejo militar/industrial.

El Equipo de Trucos Sucios de Karl Rove ha perfeccionado la propaganda republicana. Los republicanos se envían unos a otros por correo electrónico innumerables historias estúpidas que dicen que Obama es musulmán, que Obama es marxista, que Obama es un Manchurian Candidate que entrega EE.UU. al Nuevo Orden Mundial o a las Naciones Unidas, o a alguna otra vil organización conspirativa. Pero nunca acusan a Obama de entregar EE.UU. a Wall Street, al complejo militar/industrial, o a Israel.

Los correos nunca contienen una cita o fuente para las acusaciones. No se necesita ninguna, porque son palabras que quieren escuchar los republicanos. Preguntadles por qué

Obama iba a matar musulmanes en siete países si fuera musulmán, o por qué Wall Street y el complejo militar/industrial iban a poner a un marxista en la Casa Blanca, y enrojecerán de rabia. Solo por formular las preguntas obvias en lugar de sumarse a las acusaciones, una persona confirma la propaganda de que EE.UU. es amenazado por crédulos de Obama que no defenderán a su país.

Parecería que los no acaudalados que se enfurecen por las prestaciones sociales, medicaid , Obamacare y las escuelas públicas son incapaces de atar cabos. El rescate TARP por valor de 750.000 millones de dólares, una pequeña parte del total y continuo rescate, habría sido suficiente para cubrir cualquier agujero en esos presupuestos durante mucho tiempo. En su lugar, el dinero se utilizó para recompensar a los que causaron la crisis financiera y despojaron a millones de estadounidenses de sus casas. Que yo sepa, el conductor de la camioneta es uno de esos desposeídos.

Los mismos estadounidenses, con sus cerebros lavados, que se encolerizan contra Obamacare y se preparan para votar por Romney ignoran el hecho de que mientras era gobernador del Estado liberal democrático de Massachusetts Romney hizo implementar su versión de Obamacare en el ámbito estatal.

La mayor ironía respecto a Obamacare es que fue escrito por las compañías privadas de seguros y que desvía fondos de Medicaid y Medicare para su beneficio. Puede que sea medicina socializada, pero es socialismo a favor de las compañías privadas de seguros.

Todo lo que necesitaron los ciudadanos de los Estados de mayoría republicana para apoyar el derroche de 6 billones de dólares por el complejo militar/seguridad en las guerras de Iraq y Afganistán fueron pegatinas con la cinta amarilla y una consigna: “Apoyad a los soldados”.

Obama, afirman los republicanos, no hará frente a Siria ni se pondrá contra Irán, ni estará a favor de Israel. Pero los republicanos se enorgullecen cuando Romney va a Israel para arrastrarse haciéndole el juego al demente, sediento de sangre, primer ministro israelí Netanyahu, que calificó a los máximos generales israelíes de “cobardes” por advertir contra un ataque contra Irán. Romney le dijo a Netanyahu: “dígame qué tengo que hacer y lo haré; soy leal a Israel”. Aparentemente, a los ultranacionalistas patriotas republicanos no les molesta que su candidato presidencial anuncie que en cuanto asuma el mando entregará la política exterior de EE.UU. a Netanyahu y enviará a más estadounidenses a la muerte y a la bancarrota en su nombre.

Karl Rove no tuvo ningún problema en el lavado de cerebros de votantes republicanos para que apoyen su propia pérdida. El conductor de camioneta podría haber colocado una pegatina que dijera: “No apoyes a un demócrata. Podría hacer algo por ti.”

Sí, ya sé. Es casi igual de fácil atacar a los demócratas. Bush y Cheney, y sus matones neoconservadores destruyeron la Constitución y, con ello, a EE.UU. Pero los demócratas permitieron que lo hicieran. Fue Nancy Pelosi quien, como presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes, rechazó el juicio político de Bush.

Es indudable que Bush y Cheney violaron el derecho estadounidense e internacional y la Constitución. La negativa de Nancy Pelosi de responsabilizarlos estableció el precedente de que el poder ejecutivo ya no responde ante la ley o la Constitución. En efecto, el poder ejecutivo ahora es una dictadura. Actúa fuera de la ley y de limitaciones constitucionales. Respecto a algunos temas todavía tiene que consultar al Congreso o a los tribunales, pero a medida que aumenta el poder y la audacia del poder ejecutivo, la consulta se convertirá en una formalidad y luego se abandonará. El Congreso no tendrá más influencia que el Senado romano bajo el Imperio y los tribunales se convertirán en escenarios de farsas judiciales.

Los estadounidenses eligieron presidente a Obama con la esperanza de que restauraría el imperio de la ley. En su lugar, codificó las trasgresiones del régimen de Bush y agregó algunas propias. Nadie de mi generación podría haber imaginado que el presidente de EE.UU. estaría sentado en el Despacho Oval aprobando listas de ciudadanos estadounidenses para que fueran asesinados sin pruebas o debido proceso.

Por lo tanto ¿a cuál queréis? ¿Al republicano que les hace el juego a los ricos y a Israel, cuya política exterior es la guerra, o al demócrata que les hace el juego a los ricos y a Israel cuya política exterior es la guerra? Cómo escribió Gerald Celente en la edición de julio de Trends Journal , los estadounidenses “argumentan entre ellos por qué su freak [engendro] es mejor que el otro freak . Se enojarán si dices que su freak es un freak . Realmente combatirán y morirán para defender a sus freaks .”

Es extraordinario que millones de estadounidenses puedan creer fervientemente que importa si es elegido el freak Romney o el freak Obama. Si los estadounidenses tuvieran un poco de sentido común, se quedarían en casa y no votarían. El 1% controla el país, y más valdría que el 99% se quedara en casa y no votara. Nada va a cambiar gracias a la urna de voto.

¿Qué suponéis que harán los partidarios de Ron Paul? ¿Verán a Romney como el menos socialista de los dos y votarán por los republicanos que robaron la candidatura a Ron Paul? (Jaret Glenn, “How the GOP Establishment Stole the Nomination from Ron Paul,” publicado el 6 de agosto en OpEdNews .)

EE.UU. está gobernado por una oligarquía privada. El gobierno es solo su fachada. Los recursos del país son desviados hacia los bolsillos de Wall Street, el complejo militar/industrial, y al servicio del Gran Israel. Las compañías petroleras, mineras, madereras y de la agroindustria controlan la Agencia de Protección del Medio Ambiente y el Servicio Forestal, y por eso la regulación solo concierne al pequeño individuo, mientras el fracking [fractura hidráulica], la minería de remoción de la cima de montañas, y la contaminación del aire, el agua y el suelo crecen de manera salvaje.

Los oligarcas han logrado convertir a los estadounidenses en una mayoría desposeída en su propio país. En noviembre los estadounidenses volverán a otorgar su aprobación a uno de los dos candidatos de la oligarquía.

Paul Craig Roberts
paulcraigroberts.org 

Texto original en inglés :


The Dispossessed Majority
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-08-08

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

Paul Craig Roberts fue editor de The Wall Street Journal y secretario asistente del Secretario del Tesoro estadounidense. Es autor de HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST , publicado por CounterPunch/AK Press. Su último libro publicado es Economies in Collapse: The Failure of Globalism , publicado en Europa, junio de 2012.

The Push to Ignite a Turkish Civil War Through a Syrian Quagmire

August 14th, 2012 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

 

Turkey itself is a major target for destabilization, upheaval, and finally balkanization through its participation in the US-led siege against Syria. Ankara has burned its bridges in Syria for the sake of its failing neo-Ottoman regional policy. The Turkish government has actively pursued regime change, spied on Syria for NATO and Israel, violated Syrian sovereignty, supported acts of terrorism and lawlessness, and provided logistical support for the insurgency inside Syria.

Any chances of seeing some form of Turkish regional leadership under neo-Ottomanism have faded. Turkey’s southern borders have been transformed into intelligence and logistical hubs for the CIA and the Mossad in the process, complete with an intelligence “nerve centre” in the Turkish city of Adana. Despite Turkey’s denials, reports about Adana are undeniable and Turkish officers have also been apprehended in covert military operations against the Syrian Arab Republic. The Turkish Labour Party has even demanded that the US General Consul in Adana be deported for “masterminding and leading the activities of Syrian terrorists.” Mehmet Ali Ediboglu and Mevlut Dudu, two Turkish MPs, have also testified that foreign fighters have been renting homes on Turkey’s border with Syria and that Turkish ambulances have been helping smuggle weapons for the insurgents inside Syria.

Turkish Regional Isolation

If the Syrian state collapses, neighbouring Turkey will be the biggest loser. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government are foolishly aligning Turkey for disaster. Aside from Ankara’s historically bad relations with Armenia, Erdogan has managed to singlehandedly alienate Russia and three of Turkey’s most important neighbours. This has damaged the Turkish economy and disrupted the flow of Turkish goods. There have been clamp downs on activists too in connection with Turkey’s policy against Damascus. The freedom of the Turkish media has been affected as well; Erdogan has moved forward with legislation to restrict media freedoms. Prime Minister Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have even both attacked “reporters who quoted President Assad’s statements in Cumhuriyet, accusing them of treason, because they had questioned the official Turkish account of the Turkish jet shot down by in [sic.] Syria [for spying].”

To Turkey’s eastern flank tensions are building between it and both Iraq and Iran. Baghdad is reviewing its diplomatic ties with the Turkish government, because Ankara is encouraging the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq to act independently of Iraq’s federal government. Erdogan’s government has done this partially as a result of Baghdad’s steadfast opposition to regime change in Syria and in part because of Iraq’s strengthening alliance with Iran. Tehran on the other hand has halted the visa-free entry of Turkish citizens into Iran and warned the Turkish government that it is stoking the flames of a regional fire in Syria that will eventually burn Turkey too.

Growing Internal Divisions in Turkey

Despite all the patriotic speeches being made by the Turkish government to rally the Turkish people against Syria, Turkey is a much divided nation over Erdogan’s hostilities with Damascus. A significant portion of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey or Turkish Meclis and Turkey’s opposition parties have all condemned Erdogan for misleading the Turkish people and stirring their country towards disaster. There is also growing resentment amongst the citizens of Turkey about Erdogan’s cooperation with the US, NATO, Israel, and the Arab dictatorships – like Qatar and Saudi Arabia – against the Syrians and others. The majority of Turkish citizens oppose Turkish ties to Israel, the hosting of NATO facilities in Turkey, the missile shield project, and cooperation with the US in the Middle East.

The Republican People’s Party, Turkey’s second largest political party and its main opposition party, has condemned the government in Ankara over Syria. Their leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has openly accused Prime Minister Erdogan of interfering in the internal affairs of Syria. Kilicdaroglu has been joined by Turkey’s other political parties in the condemnations of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party. Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, has warned the Turkish government not to drag their country into a war with Syria through intervention. “Some Western countries have put pressure on Turkey for an intervention in Syria. Turkey should not fall into this trap,” Bahceli, who leads the third largest Turkish political party, has warned Erdogan according to the Turkish press. The Peace and Democracy Party, which is the fourth largest Turkish political party, has also clarified that it is against war with Syria. The politician Selahattin Demirtas, who is one of the leaders of the Peace and Democracy Party, has warned that any military intervention by Ankara in Syria would drag Turkey into a broader regional war. Hasan Basri Ozbey, the deputy leader of the Turkish Labour Party, has announced that his political party will file a complaint against Turkish President Abdullah Gul with the Turkish Meclis and the Turkish Higher Court to prosecute Gul, because the Labour Party “has clear evidence that [Gul] incited terrorism and war on Syria and signed a secret agreement with the United States, which alone is grounds for trial.” Mustafa Kamalak, the leader of the Felicity Party, has even led a Turkish delegation to visit Bashar Al-Assad to show their support for Syria and opposition to Erdogan’s policies.

The mobilization of the Turkish military on the Syrian border as a show of force is a psychological tactic to scare the Syrian regime. Any large-scale military operations against the Syrians would be very dangerous for Turkey and could fragment the Turkish Armed Forces. Segments of the Turkish military are at odds with the Turkish government and the military itself is divided over Turkish foreign policy. Erdogan does not even trust half of Turkey’s own military leaders and has arrested forty of them for planning to overthrow him.  How can he send such a force to even attack neighbouring Syria or think that he can control it during a broader war?

The Dangers of “Blowback” from Syria

While Turkey is trumpeting that it will not allow Kurdish militias to establish bases in northern Syria, the Turkish government is actually facilitating this itself.  There is a real risk of “blowback” from Syria for Turkey. Like Syria, Turkey is a kaleidoscope of various peoples and faiths. The people of Turkey are held together by the primacy of the Turkish language and a shared citizenship. Turkey’s minorities constitute at the very minimum one-third of the country. A significant proportion of Turkey’s minority communities have ties to Syria, Iraq, or Iran.

The Kurds and other similar Iranic peoples alone form about 25% of Turkey’s population, which means one out of four Turkish citizens are of Kurdish and Iranic stock. Other ethnic minorities include Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Bulgarians, and Greeks. No exact figures have ever been available about Turkey’s Shiite Muslims, because of the historical persecution and restrictions on Shia Muslims in Turkey from Ottoman times. Anywhere from 20% to 30% or more of the Turkish population may be categorized as Shiite Muslims, which includes Alevis, Alawites, and Twelvers. Turkey also has a small Christian minority, some of which have historic or organizational ties to Syria like Turkey’s Alawites and ethnic Arabs. Turkey will be consumed too, one way or another, should a broader sectarian conflict spread from Syria and should the Syrians be violently divided along sectarian fault lines.

The Self-Destructive Nature of Turkish Involvement in Syria

All the factors discussed above are a recipt for disaster. Civil war in Turkey is a real possibility in an increasingly polarized Turkish state. Should Syria burn, Turkey will ultimately burn too. This is why a whole spectrum of Turkish leaders have been warning their country and people that the consequences for the fire that Erdogan, Davutoglu, and Gul are stroking in Syria will have disastrous consequences for Turkey and all the countries bordering Syria.

Erdogan’s government has managed to alienate Turkey from its most important neighbours, hurt the Turkish economy, and destabilize their country’s own borders. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the damages they could unleash on Turkey. The Turks have been walking into a trap, where they are slated for a self-destructive kamikaze operation against Syria. The US-led siege on Syria intends to create chaos across the entire Middle East and ignite multiple regional conflicts. Violence and conflict from Syria is intended to consume Lebanon and Iraq too. Within this mêlée, Turkey has been slated to be weakened and divided – just as the US, NATO, and Israel have envisaged in their project to create a “new Middle East.”

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an award-winning author and geopolitical analyst. He is the author of The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations.

He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) in Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica in Italy. He has also addressed the Middle East and international relations issues on several news networks including Al Jazeera, teleSUR, and Russia Today. His writings have been translated into more than twenty languages. In 2011 he was awarded the First National Prize of the Mexican Press Club for his work in international journalism.

The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.
Foreword by Denis J. Halliday.
 

After a decade of fiery public debate and bare-knuckle partisan brawling, the United States has stumbled toward an ad hoc bipartisan compromise over the issue of torture that
rests on two unsustainable policies: impunity at home and rendition abroad.

President Obama has closed the CIA’s “black sites,” its secret prisons where American agents once dirtied their hands with waterboarding and wall slamming. But via rendition — the sending of terrorist suspects to the prisons of countries that torture — and related policies, his administration has outsourced human rights abuse to Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.  In this way, he has avoided the political stigma of torture, while tacitly tolerating such abuses and harvesting whatever intelligence can be gained from them.

This “resolution” of the torture issue may meet the needs of this country’s deeply divided politics. It cannot, however, long satisfy an international community determined to prosecute human rights abuses through universal jurisdiction. It also runs the long-term risk of another sordid torture scandal that will further damage U.S. standing with allies worldwide.

Perfecting a New Form of Torture

The modern American urge to use torture did not, of course, begin on September 12, 2001.  It has roots that reach back to the beginning of the Cold War and a human rights policy riven with contradictions. Publicly, Washington opposed torture and led the world in drafting the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the Geneva Conventions in 1949. Simultaneously and secretly, however, the Central Intelligence Agency began developing ingenious new torture techniques in contravention of these same international conventions.

From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led a secret research effort to crack the code of human consciousness, a veritable Manhattan project of the mind with two findings foundational to a new form of psychological torture. In the early 1950s, while collaborating with the CIA, famed Canadian psychologist Dr. Donald Hebb discovered that, using goggles, gloves, and earmuffs, he could induce a state akin to psychosis among student volunteers by depriving them of sensory stimulation. Simultaneously, two eminent physicians at Cornell University Medical Center, also working with the Agency, found that the most devastating torture technique used by the KGB, the Soviet secret police, involved simply forcing victims to stand for days at a time, while legs swelled painfully and hallucinations began.

In 1963, after a decade of mind-control research, the CIA codified these findings in a succinct, secret instructional handbook, the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual. It became the basis for a new method of psychological torture disseminated worldwide and within the U.S. intelligence community. Avoiding direct involvement in torture, the CIA instead trained allied agencies to do its dirty work in prisons throughout the Third World, like South Vietnam’s notorious “tiger cages.”

The Korean War added a defensive dimension to this mind-control research. After harsh North Korean psychological torture forced American POWs to accuse their own country of war crimes, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered that any serviceman subject to capture be given resistance training, which the Air Force soon dubbed with the acronym SERE (for survival, evasion, resistance, escape).

Once the Cold War ended in 1990, Washington resumed its advocacy of human rights, ratifying the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, which banned the infliction of “severe” psychological and physical pain. The CIA ended its torture training in the Third World, and the Defense Department recalled Latin American counterinsurgency manuals that contained instructions for using harsh interrogation techniques. On the surface, then, Washington had resolved the tension between its anti-torture principles and its torture practices.

But when President Bill Clinton sent the U.N. Convention to Congress for ratification in 1994, he included language (drafted six years earlier by the Reagan administration) that contained diplomatic “reservations.”  In effect, these addenda accepted the banning of physical abuse, but exempted psychological torture.

A year later, when the Clinton administration launched its covert campaign against al-Qaeda, the CIA avoided direct involvement in human rights violations by sending 70 terror suspects to allied nations notorious for physical torture.  This practice, called “extraordinary rendition,” had supposedly been banned by the U.N. convention and so a new contradiction between Washington’s human rights principles and its practices was buried like a political land mine ready to detonate with phenomenal force, just 10 years later, in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Normalizing Torture

Right after his first public address to a shaken nation on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush gave his White House staff expansive secret orders for the use of harsh interrogation, adding, “I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.”

Soon after, the CIA began opening “black sites” that would in the coming years stretch from Thailand to Poland.  It also leased a fleet of executive jets for the rendition of detained terrorist suspects to allied nations, and revived psychological tortures abandoned since the end of the Cold War. Indeed, the agency hired former Air Force psychologists to reverse engineer SERE training techniques, flipping them from defense to offense and thereby creating the psychological tortures that would henceforth travel far under the euphemistic label “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

In a parallel move in late 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed General Geoffrey Miller to head the new prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, and gave him broad authority to develop a total three-phase attack on the sensory receptors, cultural identity, and individual psyches of his new prisoners. After General Miller visited Abu Ghraib prison in September 2003, the U.S. commander for Iraq issued orders for the use of psychological torture in U.S. prisons in that country, including sensory disorientation, self-inflicted pain, and a recent innovation, cultural humiliation through exposure to dogs (which American believed would be psychologically devastating for Arabs). It is no accident that Private Lynndie England, a military guard at Abu Ghraib prison, was famously photographed leading a naked Iraqi detainee leashed like a dog.

Just two months after CBS News broadcast those notorious photos from Abu Ghraib in April 2004, 35% of Americans polled still felt torture was acceptable. Why were so many tolerant of torture?

One partial explanation would be that, in the years after 9/11, the mass media filled screens large and small across America with enticing images of abuse. Amid this torrent of torture simulations, two media icons served to normalize abuse for many Americans — the fantasy of the “ticking time bomb scenario” and the fictional hero of the Fox Television show “24,” counterterror agent Jack Bauer.

In the months after 9/11, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz launched a multimedia campaign arguing that torture would be necessary in the event U.S. intelligence agents discovered that a terrorist had planted a ticking nuclear bomb in New York’s Times Square. Although this scenario was a fantasy whose sole foundation was an obscure academic philosophy article published back in 1973, such ticking bombs soon enough became a media trope and a persuasive reality for many Americans — particularly thanks to “24,” every segment of which began with an oversized clock ticking menacingly.

In 67 torture scenes during its first five seasons, the show portrayed agent Jack Bauer’s recourse to abuse as timely, effective, and often seductive. By its last broadcast in May 2010, the simple invocation of agent Bauer’s name had become a persuasive argument for torture used by everyone from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to ex-President Bill Clinton.

While campaigning for his wife Hillary in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Clinton typically cited “24” as a justification for allowing CIA agents, acting outside the law, to torture in extreme emergencies. “When Bauer goes out there on his own and is prepared to live with the consequences,” Clinton told Meet the Press, “it always seems to work better.”

Impunity in America

Such a normalization of “enhanced interrogation techniques” created public support for an impunity achieved by immunizing all those culpable of crimes of torture. During President Obama’s first two years in office, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz made dozens of television appearances accusing his administration of weakening America’s security by investigating CIA interrogators who had used such techniques under Bush.

Ironically, Obama’s assassination of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 provided an opening for neoconservatives to move the nation toward impunity. Forming an a cappella media chorus, former Bush administration officials appeared on television to claim, without any factual basis, that torture had somehow led the Navy SEALs to Bin Laden. Within weeks, Attorney General Eric Holder announced an end to any investigation of harsh CIA interrogations and to the possibility of bringing any of the CIA torturers to court.  (Consider it striking, then, that the only “torture” case brought to court by the administration involved a former CIA agent, John Kiriakou, who had leaked the names of some torturers.)

Starting on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the country took the next step toward full impunity via a radical rewriting of the past. In a memoir published on August 30, 2011, Dick Cheney claimed the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on an al-Qaeda leader named Abu Zubaydah had turned this hardened terrorist into a “fount of information” and saved “thousands of lives.”

Just two weeks later, on September 12, 2011, former FBI counterterror agent Ali Soufan released his own memoirs, stating that he was the one who started the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah back in 2002, using empathetic, non-torture techniques that quickly gained “important actionable intelligence” about “the role of KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.”

Angered by the FBI’s success, CIA director George Tenet dispatched his own interrogators from Washington led by Dr. James Mitchell, the former SERE psychologist who had developed the agency’s harsh “enhanced techniques.” As the CIA team moved up the “force continuum” from “low-level sleep deprivation” to nudity, noise barrage, and the use of a claustrophobic confinement box, Dr. Mitchell’s harsh methods got “no information.”

By contrast, at each step in this escalating abuse, Ali Soufan was brought back for more quiet questioning in Arabic that coaxed out all the valuable intelligence Zubaydah had to offer. The results of this ad hoc scientific test were blindingly clear: FBI empathy was consistently effective, while CIA coercion proved counterproductive.

But this fundamental yet fragile truth has been obscured by CIA censorship and neoconservative casuistry. Cheney’s secondhand account completely omitted the FBI presence. Moreover, the CIA demanded 181 pages of excisions from Ali Soufan’s memoirs that reduced his chapters about this interrogation experience to a maze of blackened lines no regular reader can understand.

The agency’s attempt to rewrite the past has continued into the present. Just last April, Jose Rodriguez, former chief of CIA Clandestine Services, published his uncensored memoirs under the provocative title Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions after 9/11 Saved American Lives. In a promotional television interview, he called FBI claims of success with empathetic methods “bullshit.”

With the past largely rewritten to assure Americans that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” had worked, the perpetrators of torture were home free and the process of impunity and immunity established for future use.

Rendition Under Obama

Apart from these Republican pressures, President Obama’s own aggressive views on national security have contributed to an undeniable continuity with many of his predecessor’s most controversial policies. Not only has he preserved the controversial military commissions at Guantanamo and fought the courts to block civil suits against torture perpetrators, he has, above all, authorized continuing CIA rendition flights.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama went beyond any other candidate in offering unqualified opposition to both direct and indirect U.S. involvement in torture. “We have to be clear and unequivocal. We do not torture, period,” he said, adding, “That will be my position as president. That includes, by the way, renditions.”

Only days after his January 2009 inauguration, Obama issued a dramatic executive order ending the CIA’s coercive techniques, but it turned out to include a large loophole that preserved the agency’s role in extraordinary renditions. Amid his order’s ringing rhetoric about compliance with the Geneva conventions and assuring “humane treatment of individuals in United States custody,” the president issued a clear and unequivocal order that “the CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.” But when the CIA’s counsel objected that this blanket prohibition would also “take us out of the rendition business,” Obama added a footnote with a small but significant qualification: “The terms ‘detention facilities’ and ‘detention facility’ in… this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” Through the slippery legalese of this definition, Obama thus allowed the CIA continue its rendition flights of terror suspects to allied nations for possible torture.

Moreover, in February 2009, Obama’s incoming CIA director Leon Panetta announced that the agency would indeed continue the practice “in renditions where we returned an individual to the jurisdiction of another country, and they exercised their rights… to prosecute him under their laws. I think,” he added, ignoring the U.N. anti-torture convention’s strict conditions for this practice, “that is an appropriate use of rendition.”

As the CIA expanded covert operations inside Somalia under Obama, its renditions of terror suspects from neighboring East African nations continued just as they had under Bush.  In July 2009, for example, Kenyan police snatched an al-Qaeda suspect, Ahmed Abdullahi Hassan, from a Nairobi slum and delivered him to that city’s airport for a CIA flight to Mogadishu. There he joined dozens of prisoners grabbed off the streets of Kenya inside “The Hole” — a filthy underground prison buried in the windowless basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency. While Somali guards (paid for with U.S. funds) ran the prison, CIA operatives, reported the Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, have open access for extended interrogation.

Obama also allowed the continuation of a policy adopted after the Abu Ghraib scandal: outsourcing incarceration to local allies in Afghanistan and Iraq while ignoring human rights abuses there. Although the U.S. military received 1,365 reports about the torture of detainees by Iraqi forces between May 2004 and December 2009, a period that included Obama’s first full year in office, American officers refused to take action, even though the abuses reported were often extreme.

Simultaneously, Washington’s Afghan allies increasingly turned to torture after the Abu Ghraib scandal prompted U.S. officials to transfer most interrogation to local authorities. After interviewing 324 detainees held by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in 2011, the U.N. found that “torture is practiced systematically in a number of NDS detention facilities throughout Afghanistan.” At the Directorate’s prison in Kandahar one interrogator told a detainee before starting to torture him, “You should confess what you have done in the past as Taliban; even stones confess here.”

Although such reports prompted both British and Canadian forces to curtail prisoner transfers, the U.S. military continues to turn over detainees to Afghan authorities — a policy that, commented the New York Times, “raises serious questions about potential complicity of American officials.”

How to Unclog the System of Justice One Drone at a Time

After a decade of intense public debate over torture, in the last two years the United States has arrived at a questionable default political compromise: impunity at home, rendition abroad.

This resolution does not bode well for future U.S. leadership of an international community determined to end the scourge of torture. Italy’s prosecution of two-dozen CIA agents for rendition in 2009, Poland’s recent indictment of its former security chief for facilitating a CIA black site, and Britain’s ongoing criminal investigation of intelligence officials who collaborated with alleged torture at Guantanamo are harbingers of continuing pressures on the U.S. to comply with international standards for human rights.

Meanwhile, unchecked by any domestic or international sanction, Washington has slid down torture’s slippery slope to find, just as the French did in Algeria during the 1950s, that at its bottom lies the moral abyss of extrajudicial execution. The systematic French torture of thousands during the Battle of Algiers in 1957 also generated over 3,000 “summary executions” to insure, as one French general put it, that “the machine of justice” not be “clogged with cases.”

In an eerie parallel, Washington has reacted to the torture scandals of the Bush era by generally forgoing arrests and opting for no-fuss aerial assassinations. From 2005 to 2012, U.S. drone killings inside Pakistan rose from zero to a total of 2,400 (and still going up) — a figure disturbingly close to those 3,000 French assassinations in Algeria. In addition, it has now been revealed that the president himself regularly orders specific assassinations by drone in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia off a secret “kill list.”  Simultaneously, his administration has taken just one terror suspect into U.S. custody and has not added any new prisoners to Guantanamo, thereby avoiding any more clogging of the machinery of American justice.

Absent any searching inquiry or binding reforms, assassination is now the everyday American way of war while extraordinary renditions remain a tool of state.  Make no mistake: some future torture scandal is sure to arise from another iconic dungeon in the dismal, ever-lengthening historical procession leading from the “tiger cages” of South Vietnam to “the salt pit” in Afghanistan and “The Hole” in Somalia. Next time, the world might not be so forgiving. Next time, with those images from Abu Ghraib prison etched in human memory, the damage to America’s moral authority as world leader could prove even more deep and lasting.


Alfred W. McCoy
is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a TomDispatch regular, and author most recently of
the book, Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation (University of Wisconsin, 2012) which explores the American experience of torture during the past decade. Previous books include: A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (American Empire Project); Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, and The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. He has also convened the “Empires in Transition” project, a global working group of 140 historians from universities on four continents. The results of their first meetings were published as Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State.

Global Research Editor’s Note

As September approaches, we are reminded that the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 will soon be upon us once again. 11 years laters, are we any closer to the truth about what really happened on that fateful day?

For the next month until September 11, 2012, we will be posting on a daily basis important articles from our early archives pertaining to the tragic events of 9/11. 

George Szamuely’s incisive article published more than 10 years ago raises some “uncomfortable questions” regarding Air Force Preparedness in the case of a national emergency: “Why were no fighter planes launched until after the Pentagon was hit?”

“Talk about a lack of urgency! Assuming Otis Air National Guard Base is about 180 miles away from Manhattan it should have taken the F-15s less than six minutes to get here. Moreover, since Washington, DC, is little more than 200 miles from New York, the two F-15 fighters would have had time to get to DC, intercept Flight 77 and grab breakfast on the way.”

  
Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, August 14, 2012

Nothing Urgent

by George Szamuely 

 

New York Press, Vol. 15, No. 2 

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,   15  February 2002

 

Let’s revisit the curious lack of military action on the morning of September 11. 

That morning, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, was having a routine meeting on Capitol Hill with Sen. Max Cleland. While the two men chatted away, a hijacked jet plowed into the World Trade Center’s north tower, another one plowed into the south tower and a third one into the Pentagon. And still they went on with their meeting. “[W]hen we came out,” Myers recounted to American Forces Radio and Television Service, “somebody said the Pentagon had been hit.” Myers claims no one had bothered to inform him about the attacks on the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, in Florida, just as President Bush was about to leave his hotel he was told about the attack on the first WTC tower. He was asked by a reporter if he knew what was going on in New York. He said he did, and then went to an elementary school in Sarasota to read to children.

No urgency. Why should there be? Who could possibly have realized then the calamitous nature of the events of that day? Besides, the hijackers had switched the transponders off. So how could anyone know what was going on?

Passenger jet hijackings are not uncommon and the U.S. government has prepared detailed plans to handle them. On Sept. 11 these plans were ignored in their entirety. According to The New York Times, air traffic controllers knew at 8:20 a.m. “that American Airlines Flight 11, bound from Boston to Los Angeles, had probably been hijacked. When the first news report was made at 8:48 a.m. that a plane might have hit the World Trade Center, they knew it was Flight 11.” There was little ambiguity on the matter. The pilot had pushed a button on the aircraft yoke that allowed controllers to hear the hijacker giving orders. Here are the FAA regulations concerning hijackings: “The FAA hijack coordinator…on duty at Washington headquarters will request the military to provide an escort aircraft for a confirmed hijacked aircraft… The escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC).” Here are the instructions issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 1, 2001: “In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will…forward requests for DOD assistance to the Secretary of Defense for approval.”

In addition, as Vice President Cheney explained on Meet the Press on Sept. 16, only the president has the authority to order the shooting down of a civilian airliner.

The U.S. is supposed to scramble military aircraft the moment a hijacking is confirmed. Myers’ revelation to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 13 that no fighter planes had been launched until after the Pentagon was hit was therefore surprising. Senators and even some tv commentators were a little incredulous. Dan Rather asked: “These hijacked aircraft were in the air for quite a while… Why doesn’t the Pentagon have the kind of protection that they can get a fighter-interceptor aircraft up, and if someone is going to plow an aircraft into the Pentagon, that we have at least some…line of defense?”

Good question. Clearly another, more comforting, story was needed, and on the evening of Sept. 14 CBS launched it by revealing that the FAA had indeed alerted U.S. air defense units of a possible hijacking at 8:38 a.m. on Tuesday, that six minutes later two F-15s received a scramble order at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod and that by 8:56 the F-15s were racing toward New York. Unfortunately, the fighters were still 70 miles away when the second jet hit the south tower. Meanwhile, at 9:30 a.m., three F-16s were launched from Langley Air Force base, 150 miles south of Washington. But just seven minutes later, at 9:37 a.m., Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon. The F-16s arrived in Washington just before 10 a.m.

This story, which has now become the “official” version, raises more questions than it answers. F-15s can travel at speeds of 1875 mph while F-16s can travel at 1500 mph. If it took the F-16s half an hour to cover 150 miles, they could not have been traveling at more than 300 mph–at 20 percent capability. Boeing 767s and 757s have cruising speeds of 530 mph. Talk about a lack of urgency! Assuming Otis Air National Guard Base is about 180 miles away from Manhattan it should have taken the F-15s less than six minutes to get here. Moreover, since Washington, DC, is little more than 200 miles from New York, the two F-15 fighters would have had time to get to DC, intercept Flight 77 and grab breakfast on the way.

Ah, but of course the transponders were turned off. So no one could keep track of the planes. If it were true that the moment a transponder is turned off a plane becomes invisible there would be no defense against enemy aircraft. Normal radar echo return from the metal surface of an aircraft would still identify it on the radar scope.

Luckily, we still have first-rate establishment media to make sure that we retain confidence in our government.

Copyright  New York  Press, Vol 15, Issue 2, 2002. The original URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/SZA202A.html  

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A study published by McGill University in Montreal and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, analyzed data from global ground water use against computer generated models of underwater aquifers and concluded that the “groundwater footprint” of reliable resources above ground is 3.5 times larger than the known aquifers.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrological Program (HIP) estimates that there is 366 million, trillion gallon of water on Earth.

The IPCC document HS 15332 Climate Change Impacts: Securitization of Water, Food, Soil, Health, Energy and Migration explains how the UN plans to secure resources to use at their disposal. Through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under-developed countries are forced to sell their resources to the global Elite as “full cost recovery” to the global central bankers. Once those resources are under the complete control of the creditors, they become assets to be reallocated back to the enslaved nations for a price.

This scheme makes water sources under central privatization cost more and become less accessible to those who desperately need it. Water prices rise while the quality of it diminishes. This forces people in places like South Africa and India to collect water from polluted streams and rivers, which compromises their health. The cycle in complete when those who had their water stolen from them through coercion die from contaminated water that they were forced to use.

With over-population factored into the algorithms, underground water reserves and their native ecosystems are under the growing threat of human necessity.

Geophysicists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research states that only 282 billion people could be “packed onto the planet”. With the current number at nearly 7 billion, alarmists are pointing out that water will become a highly sought after commodity.

As exampled in South-east Asia, because of the 1.7 billion people using water reserves, the “sobering” fact concluded is that people are over-using groundwater in regions like Asia and North America.

With proper management, Tom Gleeson, lead researcher from McGill University, believes that underground water sources that make up 99% of the world’s fresh and unfrozen water will become crucial to the growing human population.

The UN Environmental Program (UNEP) in a UN-Water Survey of 130 Countries Status Report has forced reformation through international water laws that apply pressure under the guise of “expanding populations, urbanization and climate change”. While clean drinking water for humans is controlled, improvements designed to ensure freshwater reserves for the ecosystem are first and foremost.

Management and use of water under the international agreement known as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was back at the 1992 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. This is a part of the Agenda 21 plan. Cooperation of the UNEP and the UN-Water, an inter-agency mechanism to control freshwater resources, relates UN policies to governments on how to allocate their assets.

In Asia and North America, where researchers conclude that water resources are being allocated wastefully, agriculture is being attacked because of its use of water for irrigation. Gleeson says: “The relatively few aquifers that are being heavily exploited are unfortunately critical to agriculture in a number of different countries. So even though the number is relatively small, these are critical resources that need better management.”

Gleeson claims that agriculture’s effect on “the supply of available water” has not had a quantifying measure until his study to show “the impact of such agricultural groundwater use in any consistent, global way.”

By mandating international restriction on water extraction combined with the promotion of meat-less diets, Gleeson asserts that water resources could be shared more sustainably.

The British Geological Survey and the University College London have surveyed African underground aquifers and concluded that there are more than 100 times the amount of water found underground than on the surface of the continent.

Andrew Mitchell, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development is delighted by this find. “This is an important discovery. This research, which the British Government has funded, could have a profound effect on some of the world’s poorest people.”

This discovery could become the largest attempt at water privatization. Water resources worldwide have succumbed to privatization, turning life’s most essential molecule into a global commodity.

In North Africa, uncontrolled plans to extract underground water resources have been deemed unsustainable by the UN.

In disbursement of water resources, while trying to mitigate waste , the use of sewage effluent and other wastewater could preserve wildlife, rivers and ecosystems that are being destroyed by human necessity, in a new study. Stanley Grant, lead author of the study and a UC Irvine civil & environmental engineering professor, states: “This is the only path forward to provide water for humans as well as for ecosystems. We need to focus on improving the productivity and value of existing supplies, which basically means getting more out of a glass of water.”

Water shortages could be rescinded by creating drinking water from wastewater while reducing the total waste from compromised piping in private-owned homes. How water is priced and managed must be reworked to make the most of “scare freshwater resources” say the researchers.

The securitization of water is a conflict of control over society and the right to life. It is a non-negotiable aspect of life on Earth. The false flag threat of water pollution (which is being committed by the global Elite through multi-national corporations) is a cover story for the march toward complete control over all basic necessities required to live.

Pursuit of water security means whoever has the water, choses who lives – and who dies. With the emergence of water regimes, land grabs where known aquifers reside underground make sense. Workshops designed to recruit more alarmists are popping up all over the academic world as the global elites seek to convince as many scholars as possible that the UN would be the best and only chance at fair allocation of our water resources.

Simply put, the “securitization” of water on a global scale (if the economic elites get their way) will be run by the UN only. Their target recommendations will then be directed to individual governments to be made into laws. The citizens of those nations will have no choice but to follow the laws of their countries; if they are to get their ration of life-giving water.

Clinton missionaria in Africa

August 14th, 2012 by Manlio Dinucci

Ha visitato nove paesi africani – Senegal, Uganda, Sud Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, Sudafrica, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin – benedicendo le platee con i suoi «God bless you», giurando che Washington ha quale unico scopo in Africa «rafforzare le istituzioni democratiche, promuovere la crescita economica, far avanzare la pace e la sicurezza». La segretaria di stato Hillary Clinton è dunque andata in Africa, in pieno agosto, per fare opere di bene. L’hanno accompagnata, nella nobile missione, gli executive delle maggiori multinazionali Usa. Affari sì, ma guidati da un principio etico che la Clinton ha così enunciato a Dakar: «Nel 21° secolo, deve finire il tempo in cui degli estranei vengono ad estrarre la ricchezza dell’Africa per se stessi, lasciando dietro di sé niente o molto poco». La Clinton, si sa, è convinta sostenitrice del commercio equo e solidale. Come quello praticato in Nigeria, la cui industria petrolifera è dominata dalle compagnie Usa, che si portano a casa metà del greggio estratto per oltre 30 miliardi di dollari annui. Una colossale fonte di ricchezza per le multinazionali e per l’élite nigeriana al potere, di cui poco o niente resta alla popolazione. Secondo la Banca mondiale, oltre la metà dei nigeriani si trova sotto la soglia di povertà e la durata media della vita è di appena 51 anni. L’inquinamento petrolifero, provocato dalla Shell, ha devastato il delta del Niger: per decontaminarlo, valuta un rapporto Onu, ci vorrebbero almeno 25 anni e miliardi di dollari. Lo stesso si prepara per il Sud Sudan, dove, dopo la scissione dal resto del paese sostenuta dagli Usa, si concentra il 75% delle riserve petrolifere sudanesi, cui si aggiungono preziose materie prime e vaste terre coltivabili. La compagnia texana Nile Trading and Development, presieduta dall’ex ambasciatore E. Douglas, si è accaparrata, con una elemosina di 25mila dollari, 400mila ettari della migliore terra con diritto di sfruttarne le risorse (anche forestali) per 49 anni. L’accaparramento di terre fertili in Africa, espropriate alle popolazioni, è divenuto un lucroso business finanziario, gestito dalla Goldman Sachs e la JP Morgan, su cui speculano con i loro fondi anche la Harvard e altre prestigiose università statunitensi. La strategia economica Usa incontra però in Africa un formidabile ostacolo: la Cina, che a condizioni vantaggiose costruisce per i paesi africani porti e aeroporti, strade e ferrovie. Per superarlo, Washington getta sul tavolo l’asso pigliatutto: il Comando Africa, che «protegge e difende gli interessi di sicurezza nazionale degli Stati uniti, rafforzando le capacità di difesa degli stati africani». In altre parole, facendo leva sulle élite militari (che il Pentagono cerca di reclutare offrendo loro formazione, armi e dollari) per portare più paesi possibili nell’orbita di Washington. Quando non riesce, l’Africom «conduce operazioni militari per fornire un ambiente di sicurezza adatto al buon governo». Come l’operazione Odyssey Dawn, lanciata dall’Africom nel marzo 2011: l’inizio della guerra per rovesciare il governo della Libia (il paese africano con le maggiori riserve petrolifere) e soffocare gli organismi finanziari dell’Unione africana, nati soprattutto grazie agli investimenti libici. Così ora, in Libia, c’è un «buon governo» agli ordini di Washington.

Iranian earthquakes leave over 300 dead

August 14th, 2012 by Mark Church

Two earthquakes struck the north-western provinces of Iran on Saturday, causing extensive damage and loss of life. Hundreds of rural villages have been levelled or badly damaged. The exact number of people killed remains unclear. Early reports placed the number of dead at 250, but by Monday the figure had been raised to more than 300. At least 3,000 people have been injured, with many still in a critical condition.

According to the US Geological Survey, the first quake struck at 3:53 p.m. local time, 60 kilometres north-east of the city of Tabriz, with a magnitude of 6.4. It was followed 10 minutes later by another earthquake, 48 kilometres north-east of Tabriz, with a magnitude of 6.3. More than 80 aftershocks—up to magnitude 5—have struck the region over the past few days.

The towns most severely impacted are Ahar, Harees and Varzaqan in East Azerbaijan province. More than 1,000 neighbouring villages were affected, with at least 20 villages destroyed and 250 suffering varying amounts of damage. Villages closest to the town of Varzaqan were the worst damaged, with many mud brick houses collapsing and trapping those inside, including women and children.

The north-western communities hit by the earthquakes are remote, with limited transport infrastructure making rescue and relief efforts difficult, and causing traffic jams on major roads. Shortages of water and food are being reported throughout the quake zone. Hospitals and emergency medical centres had large queues of people waiting for medical assistance. Many survivors received first aid at the disaster zones.

By Sunday evening, the Iranian authorities had suspended rescue operations, claiming that virtually everyone had been accounted for, and that the priority was to help the survivors. Local residents and emergency workers criticised the decision, pointing out that it was impossible for rescue workers to have reached all the remote villages.

One unnamed doctor told Reuters: “I know the area well. There are some regions where there are villages that you can’t even reach by car.” He added: “In the first hours after the quake, it was ordinary people and volunteers in their own cars going to the affected areas. It was more ordinary people helping out than official crisis staff.”

Reports further highlighted the difficult conditions facing survivors and the inadequacy of government disaster efforts. The Iranian Red Crescent has provided some aid, distributing food, 3,000 tents and requisitioning a stadium to house 16,000 people.

Abbas Fallah, a local parliamentarian, told Mehr News: “Despite the promises of officials, little first aid has been distributed in the region and most people are left without tents. If the situation continues, the toll will rise.”

Deputy health minister Hassan Emam said injured people had been transferred to facilities outside the region because of concern that the local hospitals might collapse. Varzaqan has no major medical facilities, so an emergency centre had to be erected.

By Monday, the local media reported that 36,000 victims had been given shelter. A state grant of nearly $1,000 per family has been approved, along with low-interest loans for up to $6,000.

Offers of support have come from a number of countries, including Turkey, Russia and Japan. On Sunday, the White House issued a brief press release stating: “We stand ready to offer assistance in this difficult time.” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Americans could donate food and medicine, yet concerns about possible penalties because of US economic sanctions on Iran remain a deterrent.

Moreover, US-led sanctions have helped drive up prices for basic goods, compounding the difficulties facing the quake survivors. Rescue helicopters had to suspend operations on Saturday night as sanctions have also prevented Iran from importing night-vision equipment. The export to Iran of any goods considered to have possible military applications is banned.

The Iranian response to outside aid has been mixed. The head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Abdolhossein Faghih, told a meeting of lawmakers: “We received offers of help from several countries … but as we have sufficient men and resources we did not need this foreign aid. We thanked them for their offers.”

Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, however, stated: “In different situations, our country has helped those in need in other countries and under the current conditions, is ready to receive aid … from different countries.” Iran was criticised for not accepting foreign aid following a 1990 earthquake in the Ghilan and Zandjan provinces, which left up to 50,000 dead.

The latest disaster is smaller than that in 2003, when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake levelled the city of Bam in eastern Iran. Nevertheless, it has exposed many of the same problems. The 2003 earthquake claimed over 26,000 lives and destroyed or damaged 85-95 percent of buildings. The extensive destruction resulted from the lack of quake-resistant buildings. Iranian seismologist Bahram Akasheh commented: “Nowhere in the world would a magnitude 6 earthquake kill so many people. There shouldn’t have been more than 10 injured.”

Most of those killed this week also lived and worked in antiquated mud-brick and concrete buildings, which are common in rural communities. The 2003 earthquake also revealed the lack of quake-resistant buildings in major towns and cities—the result of substandard construction. Despite calls for the enforcement of building codes, changes have been minimal. Many poorer Iranians have little choice but to continue using traditional and dangerous building designs.

Obama’s Bipartisan Transition to “Right America”

August 14th, 2012 by Michael T. Bucci

One is reminded of how far to the Right America has moved in three and one-half short years, due to President Barack Obama.

 

President Obama was groomed through his Chicago years, and was selected through agreement by both parties to be the nominee of the Democratic Party in 2008 because he and he alone could achieve the neutralizing required, if not the eradication of the critical mass of dissent that was generated during the Bush years (he succeeded). He was the “believing is seeing” candidate then, and remains as much today amongst Obamania “believers”, who are too numerous to discount, but too mesmerized to be awakened.

As in marketing, a successful political strategy is prolonged until fatigue is reached. Obamania is far from deflating because most Obama people haven’t realized their President gravely betrayed them, equaling if not exceeding the immorality and crimes of their erstwhile nemesis George W. Bush. They are deluded, blind, in denial, or simply hypocritical. If my contacts with “Progressives” are any indication, Mr. Obama will secure their vote again. There is an element of adolescent rapture in their excitement.

President Obama moved the pseudo Left-field goal post into Right-field and no one noticed. By posturing as extremists, the Tea Party gave Obama cover to move the post into the Right; then the “extremism” of Libertarians and Paulites gave the GOP cover to move the Republican Party further Right, and in doing so Paul Ryan became palatable as V.P. nominee (also seeking to satisfy Libertarian, Paulite and Evangelical bases); and the extremism of Representative Paul Ryan will permit the next President and Congress to move Right field entirely out of the stadium.

But whether Obama wins or Romney/Ryan win, behind the curtains awaiting activation has sat the “bipartisan” Ryan plan—the anti-government “final solution” weapon. In choosing Ryan, this matter now should be brought to the forefront. It will be the gun held against your head by both candidates if you are a target (poor, disabled, elderly) unless a crisis, distraction or sudden death delays its timing. As planned, Athens is coming to America via the Ryan blueprint which, like in previous examples, will be considered overtly “extreme”, thereby giving cover for the next President and Congress to pass most of its recommendations.

But things could be worse. On the morning of August 11, in introducing his Vice-Presidential running mate to the media, Mr. Romney misspoke. He addressed Representative Paul Ryan as “The Next President of the United States.”

Does he know something I don’t?

Michael T Bucci is a retired public relations executive from New Jersey presently residing in New England. His essays have appeared at The Market Oracle. He is the author of nine books on practical spirituality including White Book: Cerithous

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Syria: Terrorism As A Weapon

August 14th, 2012 by John Cherian

The terror groups operating in the country have been lavishly funded and trained by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also by Turkey and the U.S., two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking after the rebels had briefly seized two border crossings and massacred the soldiers manning the posts, said that cooperation with the armed rebels should increase. Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al Assadi told the media that the Turkey-based Free Syrian Army (FSA) “executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers” after they briefly overran a border post at Abu Kamal, in eastern Syria, close to Iraq, in the third week of July.

The Iraqi government has obviously drawn a parallel with what is happening across its borders to the recent terror attacks in Iraq. Many of the Iraqi “jehadis” have transformed themselves into Syrian freedom fighters.

July became one of the bloodiest months for Syria as the foreign-backed armed groups made a concerted attempt to further destabilise the government led by Bashar al Assad. The terror attack on July 18, which claimed the lives of Defence Minister Dawoud Rahja and three senior officials (Assef Shawkat, deputy head of the Syrian Army and brother-in-law of Bashar al Assad; Hassan Turkmani, Chief of Crisis Operations; and Hisham Bakhtiar, head of Intelligence) who were in the forefront of the security drive to clear the armed groups from their strongholds, was indeed a serious blow to the government. The fact that the bombing occurred in the National Security Building where meetings are often chaired by the President himself is a serious cause for alarm as it could not have happened without the help of hostile foreign powers.

The Turkish newspaper Habberturk reported that Israeli Intelligence played an important role in the attack. It quoted an unidentified former American intelligence analyst as saying that the “entire attack smelled of Mossad”. Israeli President Shimon Peres has publicly stated that he wants the Syrian government to collapse. If a pro-Western government is installed in Damascus, then Israel can turn its full attention to Hizbollah, and the United States can focus on regime change in Iran.

The Syrian government said that foreign powers were behind the attack and named “Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel” as the countries responsible for the act of terror. A Reuters report in the last week of July said that a secret base located in Adana province near Turkey’s border with Syria was the “nerve centre” from where operations to topple the government in Damascus were being launched. The U.S’ military base of Incirlik is also based in Adana.

The leaders of the countries ranged against Syria virtually applauded the terror attack. The U.S. State Department spokesman, while saying that Washington was against further bloodshed in Syria, “noted” that those killed and injured “were key architects of the Assad regime’s assault on the Syrian people”. A palpable regret could be noticed in the statements issued by some governments that the primary target of the bombing – the President – was not among the casualties. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the American reaction to the Damascus blasts “as a direct endorsement of terrorism”. He said that the position Washington had adopted was “a sinister one”.

The terror groups operating in the country have been lavishly funded and trained by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also by Turkey and the U.S., two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking after the rebels had briefly seized two border crossings and massacred the soldiers manning the posts, said that cooperation with the armed rebels should increase. Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al Assadi told the media that the Turkey-based Free Syrian Army (FSA) “executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers” after they briefly overran a border post at Abu Kamal, in eastern Syria, close to Iraq, in the third week of July.

According to reports, most FSA commanders are Iraqi Sunnis. A series of terror attacks had taken place in the Shia-dominated areas in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities in July. It is not surprising that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Malki has refused to endorse the Arab League’s call to Bashar al Assad to step down. The Iraqi government has obviously drawn a parallel with what is happening across its borders to the recent terror attacks in Iraq. Many of the Iraqi “jehadis” have transformed themselves into Syrian freedom fighters.

It is estimated that more than a hundred armed groups are operating in the urban areas of the country. The U.S. media have finally acknowledged that Al Qaeda and Salafist fighters who infiltrated from the neighbouring countries were responsible for the spectacular suicide bombings and sectarian attacks. Randa Kassis, one of the leading figures of the FSA, told the German magazine Der Spiegel that “the Islamist groups, which are superbly financed and equipped by the Gulf states, are ruthlessly seizing decision-making power for themselves”. Muslim clerics in many Arab countries are urging young people to turn Syria into another Afghanistan. German intelligence has estimated that around 90 per cent of the armed insurgents owe their allegiance to Al Qaeda. A recent Time magazine report said that Al Qaeda flags dominate in rural areas currently occupied by the armed groups.

U.N. CHARTER

Immediately after the Damascus terror attack, Washington and its allies started piling pressure on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to invoke Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, which allows the use of outside military force against Syria. It was the third time in nine months that the U.S. and its allies tried to force a resolution on Syria. Russia and China once again vetoed the resolution. South Africa (a member of BRICS, an association of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and Pakistan chose to abstain. But India, which currently occupies a seat in the UNSC, once again voted with the West. Russia and China have remained steadfast on the side of the beleaguered Syrian government even as traditional friends such as India have virtually deserted it in its time of need.

South Africa, in fact, criticised the one-sided nature of the draft resolution. India, which had chosen to abstain on the crucial resolution which led to outside military intervention in Libya last year, changed its stance in the case of Syria. New Delhi has been consistently siding with the West and the Sunni Arab monarchies on issues ranging from Libya to Iran. The BRICS countries are supposed to present a united front on crucial foreign policy issues. The final declaration issued at the 2012 BRICS summit held in New Delhi in March, stressed the need for cohesiveness while voting on important political issues in international forums.

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador to the U.N., accused the Western members of the U.N. of attempting “to fan the flames of confrontation in the Security Council”. He said that the draft resolution on Syria, which was put to vote, was “biased”, adding that “the threat of sanctions was exclusively aimed at the government of Syria, and does not reflect the reality of the country today. It is especially ambiguous in the light of what happened with the grave terrorist attack that took place in Damascus.”

The Russian Foreign Minister said in Moscow that the position of the West in practical terms meant that they “are going to support such acts of terrorism until the UNSC acts on their demands”. He emphasised that the West was not interested in solving the crisis in Syria, which had been dragging on for more than a year, in a collective manner. The resolution presented in the UNSC made no mention of the terror groups inside Syria being backed by outside forces. Nor was there any suggestion from the West and its allies about stopping support for the armed militants fighting the Syrian government.

The rebels in Syria know fully well that without outside intervention they will never be able to defeat the Syrian Army. The Security Council had invoked Chapter Seven against Libya last year, following which the West immediately started a bombing campaign and openly trained and armed the anti-government militias there. The result was more bloodshed and carnage. The goal of regime change was achieved, but instability in the region only increased, with civil war engulfing neighbouring Mali and militant groups, armed with weapons looted from Libya, creating havoc even in countries such as Nigeria. Libya itself is in danger of being balkanised, with the eastern part threatening to secede.

Washington was also not keen to extend the terms of the Kofi Annan-led Peace Mission to Syria. China, along with India, wanted to give the mission another 45 days. A compromise was finally reached on July 20, extending the mission by another 30 days with the possibility of a further extension provided there was a cessation of the use of heavy weapons. The tactics of the armed groups is to occupy sections of cities and towns, leaving the government with little option but to drive them away using heavy artillery at times. This happened in Damascus in late July. When the rebels were driven out of Damascus, they opened up another front in a section of Aleppo, the largest city in the country. Washington, which anyway was never too enamoured of the Annan plan, wants to give it a formal burial after the latest extension.

The Barack Obama administration knows fully well that the rebels it is arming and financing will keep on fighting and the Syrian state will respond to preserve law and order. The pliant media under its control will pin all the atrocities happening in the country on the government or groups supporting it. The veteran German war correspondent Jurgen Totenhofer, writing in the widely circulated newspaper Bild, accused the rebels of “deliberately killing civilians and then presenting them as victims of the government”. He described this “massacre marketing strategy” as being “among the most disgusting things I have ever experienced in an armed conflict”.

The Syrian government seems determined to ride out the maelstrom currently buffeting it. Besides diplomatic support from Russia and China, Syria is also assured of military backing from traditional allies such as Iran. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem was in Teheran on an unscheduled visit at the end of July. He said in Teheran that the bulk of the anti-government fighters were now staging a last-ditch fight in Aleppo. “They will definitely be defeated,” he told a joint press conference along with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi. Muallem said that his country “is a target of a global plot whose agents are in this region”. Salehi warned about the adverse consequences for the entire region if the Bashar al Assad government was ousted by force. He said that the consequences “would engulf the region and eventually the entire world”.

Iran’s Vice-President in charge of international affairs, Ali Saeedlou, told a visiting Syrian delegation in the last week of July that his country was ready to share its “experience and capabilities with the brother nation of Syria”. In the same week, General Massoud Jazayeri said that Syria had friends in the region who were ready to “strike out”. He was probably referring to the Hizbollah in Lebanon. The Hizbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, in an important speech delivered in the third week of July to commemorate the 2006 war against an Israeli invasion force in Lebanon, said that “Syria is a genuine problem for the U.S. and Israel” because it is “a linking bridge between Iran and the resistance and, in better words, the principal supporter of the resistance at a special military level”.

He went on to say that it was Syria’s help that proved crucial in its victory against the Israeli forces. He said that Syria gave most of the arms and missiles to the resistance forces during the 33-day war in 2006. Nasrallah blamed the West for sponsoring terrorist activities in Syria and blocking a national dialogue. He said the main reason why the U.S. was trying to destabilise Syria was the country’s support for the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance against Israel, “the gendarme of the region”. Almost on cue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.S. media that his government was ready to take military action against Syria to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the hands “of Hizbollah and other terror groups”. U.S. and Israeli officials are now citing the pretext of “chemical weapons” to intervene militarily in Syria. The U.S. had used the non-existent threat of weapons of mass destruction as a ruse to invade Iraq in 2003.

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Innescare una guerra civile turca tramite il caos siriano

August 14th, 2012 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

La Turchia è di per sé un obiettivo importante della destabilizzazione, dello sconvolgimento e infine della balcanizzazione, attraverso la sua partecipazione all’assedio degli USA contro la Siria. Ankara ha bruciato i ponti con la Siria, a causa della sua fallimentare politica regionale neo-ottomana. Il governo turco ha attivamente perseguito il cambio di regime e spiato la Siria per conto della NATO e d’Israele, ha violato la sovranità siriana, ha supportato il terrorismo e l’illegalità, e ha fornito supporto logistico all’insurrezione in Siria.

Le probabilità di vedere una qualche forma di leadership regionale turca con il neo-ottomanesimo, sono sbiadite. I confini meridionali della Turchia sono stati trasformati in centri logistici e d’intelligence della CIA e del Mossad, completati con il “centro nevralgico” dell’intelligence nella città turca di Adana. Nonostante le smentite della Turchia, le notizie su Adana sono innegabili e ufficiali turchi sono stati arrestati durante le operazioni segrete militari contro la Repubblica araba siriana. Il Partito laburista turco ha anche chiesto che il Console Generale degli Stati Uniti ad Adana, sia deportato per “aver architettato e guidato le attività dei terroristi siriani”. Mehmet Ali Ediboglu e Mevlut Dudu, due parlamentari turchi, hanno testimoniato che i combattenti stranieri hanno affittato case al confine della Turchia con la Siria, e che ambulanze turche hanno contrabbandato armi agli insorti in territorio siriano. (Autoambulanze della croce rossa italiana fecero lo stesso per conto dell’UCK, durante l’aggressione alla Jugoslavia nel 1999. NdT).

L’isolamento regionale turco

Se crollasse lo stato siriano, la vicina Turchia ne sarà il più grande perdente. Il primo ministro turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan e il suo governo stanno stupidamente portando la Turchia al disastro. A parte le relazioni storicamente cattive di Ankara con l’Armenia, Erdogan da solo è riuscito ad allontanare la Russia e i tre vicini più importanti della Turchia. Ciò ha danneggiato l’economia turca e interrotto il flusso di merci turche. Ci sono state anche repressioni nei confronti di attivisti, in relazione alla politica della Turchia contro Damasco. Pure la libertà dei media turchi è stata colpita; Erdogan ha portato andato avanti la legislazione per limitare le libertà dei media. Il primo ministro Erdogan e il ministro degli esteri turco Ahmet Davutoglu hanno addirittura attaccato “i giornalisti che hanno citato le dichiarazioni del presidente Assad su Cumhuriyet, accusandoli di tradimento, perché avevano messo in dubbio la versione ufficiale turca del jet turco abbattuto [per spionaggio] in Siria.”

Tensioni si stanno formando sul fianco orientale della Turchia con Iraq e Iran. Baghdad sta riesaminando le sue relazioni diplomatiche con il governo turco, perché Ankara sta incoraggiando il governo regionale del Kurdistan, nel nord dell’Iraq, ad agire in modo indipendente dal governo federale iracheno. Il governo Erdogan ha fatto questo in parte come risultato della ferma opposizione di Baghdad al cambio di regime in Siria, e in parte a causa del rafforzamento dell’alleanza con l’Iran dell’Iraq. Teheran d’altra parte ha sospeso i visti di ingresso dei cittadini turchi in Iran, e ha avvertito il governo turco che giocando con il fuoco dell’incendio regionale, in Siria, finirà per bruciarsi anche la Turchia.

Crescenti divisioni interne in Turchia 

Nonostante tutti i discorsi patriottici fatti dal governo turco per radunare il popolo turco contro la Siria, la Turchia è una nazione molto più divisa sull’ostilità di Erdogan verso Damasco. Una parte significativa della Grande Assemblea Nazionale della Turchia o Meclis turca e dei partiti di opposizione della Turchia, ha condannato Erdogan per aver ingannato il popolo turco e per trascinare il loro paese verso il disastro. Vi è anche un risentimento crescente tra i cittadini della Turchia per la cooperazione di Erdogan con Stati Uniti, NATO, Israele e le dittature arabe – come il Qatar e l’Arabia Saudita – contro i siriani ed altri. La maggior parte dei cittadini turchi si oppone ai legami turchi con Israele, all’accoglienza di strutture della NATO in Turchia, al progetto di scudo antimissile e alla cooperazione con gli Stati Uniti in Medio Oriente.

Il Partito Repubblicano del Popolo, il secondo più grande partito politico e principale partito d’opposizione della Turchia, ha condannato il governo di Ankara sulla Siria. Il suo leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, ha apertamente accusato il primo ministro Erdogan di interferire negli affari interni della Siria. Kilicdaroglu è stato affiancato da altri partiti politici turchi, nel condannare Erdogan e il suo Partito della Giustizia e Sviluppo. Devlet Bahceli, il leader del Partito del Movimento Nazionalista, ha avvertito il governo turco a non trascinare il paese in una guerra con la Siria, attraverso l’intervento. “Alcuni paesi occidentali hanno messo sotto pressione la Turchia per un intervento in Siria. La Turchia non deve cadere in questa trappola”, ha avvertito Erdogan Bahceli, che guida il terzo partito politico turco, secondo la stampa turca. Il Partito della Pace e la Democrazia, che è il quarto più grande partito politico turco, ha anch’esso chiarito che è contro la guerra con la Siria. Il politico Selahattin Demirtas, che è uno dei leader del Partito della Pace e la Democrazia, ha avvertito che qualsiasi intervento militare di Ankara in Siria, trascinerebbe la Turchia in una grande guerra regionale. Hasan Basri Ozbey, il vice leader del Partito laburista turco, ha annunciato che il suo partito presenterà una denuncia contro il presidente turco Abdullah Gul alla Meclis e alla Corte Superiore turca, per perseguire Gul, perché il Partito laburista “ha prove evidenti che [Gul] ha incitato al terrorismo e alla guerra in Siria, e ha firmato un accordo segreto con gli Stati Uniti, che da solo motiva un processo”. Kamalak Mustafa, il leader del Partito della Felicità, ha anche guidato una delegazione turca che ha incontrato Bashar al-Assad, per dimostrare il suo sostegno alla Siria e l’opposizione alle politiche di Erdogan.

La mobilitazione dei militari turchi sul confine siriano, quale dimostrazione di forza, è una tattica psicologica per spaventare il regime siriano. Tutte le operazioni militari su vasta scala contro i siriani sarebbero molto pericolose per la Turchia, con il rischio di una frammentazione delle forze armate turche. Segmenti dei militari turchi sono in contrasto con il governo turco e l’esercito stesso è diviso sulla politica estera turca. Erdogan non ha nemmeno la fiducia della metà dei vertici militari della Turchia e ne ha arrestato 40, per aver pianificato di rovesciarlo. Come può anche inviare una forza d’attacco nella vicina Siria e pensare di poterla controllare durante una grande guerra?

Il pericolo di un “contraccolpo” dalla Siria
Mentre la Turchia strombazza che non permetterà che le milizie curde stabiliscano basi nel nord della Siria, il governo turco ha effettivamente facilitato proprio questo. C’è il rischio reale di un “effetto boomerang” dalla Siria in Turchia. Come la Siria, la Turchia è un caleidoscopio di popoli e fedi diversi. Gli abitanti della Turchia sono tenuti insieme dal primato della lingua turca e da una cittadinanza condivisa. Le minoranze della Turchia costituiscono come minimo un terzo del paese. Una parte significativa delle comunità della minoranze della Turchia ha legami con Siria, Iraq o Iran.

I curdi e simili altri popoli iranici da soli costituiscono circa il 25% della popolazione turca, il che significa che uno su quattro cittadini turchi è di origine curda e iranica. Altre minoranze etniche sono arabi, armeni, assiri, azeri, bulgari e greci. Cifre esatte non sono mai state a disposizione sui musulmani sciiti della Turchia, a causa della persecuzione storica e delle restrizioni dei musulmani sciiti in Turchia dai tempi degli ottomani. Comunque dal 20% al 30% o più della popolazione turca può essere classificata musulmana sciita, includendo aleviti, alawiti e sciiti duodecimani. La Turchia ha anche una piccola minoranza cristiana, che in parte ha legami storici o organizzativi con la Siria, come gli alawiti e gli arabi della Turchia. La Turchia sarà consumata, in un modo o nell’altro, in caso di grande conflitto settario diffuso dalla Siria, e se la Siria dovesse essere violentemente divisa lungo le fratture settarie.

La natura auto-distruttiva del coinvolgimento turco in Siria

Tutti i fattori di cui sopra sono una ricetta per il disastro. Una guerra civile in Turchia è una possibilità reale in uno stato turco sempre più polarizzato. Nel caso la Siria bruciasse, anche la Turchia alla fine brucerebbe. È per questo che un intero spettro di leader turchi ha messo in guardia il loro paese e il loro popolo dalle conseguenze dello scherzare con il fuoco in Siria di Erdogan, Davutoglu e Gul, cosa che avrà conseguenze disastrose per la Turchia e tutti i paesi confinanti con la Siria.

Il governo di Erdogan è riuscito ad allontanare la Turchia dai suoi vicini più importanti, a danneggiare l’economia turca e a destabilizzare confini del proprio paese. Questo, tuttavia, è solo la punta di un iceberg rispetto ai danni che potrebbe infliggere alla Turchia. I turchi hanno camminato su una trappola, la possibile operazione kamikaze auto-distruttiva contro la Siria. L’assedio degli USA alla Siria è volto a creare il caos in tutto il tutto il Medio Oriente e accendere altri conflitti regionali. Le violenze e il conflitto dalla Siria sono destinati a consumare anche Libano e Iraq. Dall’interno di questa mischia, la Turchia ne uscirebbe indebolita e divisa, come Stati Uniti, NATO e Israele hanno previsto nel loro progetto per creare un “nuovo Medio Oriente”.

È gradita la ripubblicazione con riferimento alla rivista on-line della Strategic Culture Foundation (www.strategic-culture.org).

Israel’s Netanyahu Attempts to Shame UN

August 13th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

Netanyahu regime ‘leaks’ phone conversation with UN’s Ban Ki Moon to shame him over decision to attend Non-Aligned Movement Conference (NAM) in Tehran, Iran. Pulls “antisemitic” card. 

Haaretz in their report titled, “UN chief angered over Netanyahu’s ‘leak’ of private talk on Iran, sources say,” claims, “United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has been angered over what he considered to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “leaking” of the contents of a phone conversation between the two regarding the UN chief’s planned visit to Tehran.”

 Image: Ban Ki Moon and Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (Photo by Flash 90)
….
During the alleged phone conversation, Netanyahu expressed “disappointment” that Ban Ki Moon would be attending the conference claiming he, “saw no reason to visit a country whose government is anti-Semitic and openly declares its intention to destroy Israel.” It is claimed Netanyahu also mentioned Teheran’s alleged statements about “annihilating the Zionist entity.”

Haaretz did not clarify that the statement Netanyahu is referring was both translated incorrectly and taken purposefully out of context (here and here). Haaretz also fails to mention that accusations against Iran of being “anti-Semitic” are ludicrous at face value, as the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabs being Semites) is one of Iran’s closest allies, while the largest population of Jews in the Muslim World resides peacefully in Iran (and here).  
 
“Leak” is PR Stunt Designed to Undermine NAM & UN Diplomatic Representation There

Netanyahu’s “leak” attempted to paint the NAM conference, involving representatives from well over half the world’s population, as an “illegitimate” exercise in international diplomacy hosted by a “belligerent,” “bigoted,” and “backward” nation. 


Image: NAM members are in dark-blue, observers in light-blue. Collectively the conference brings together representatives of over half the world’s population. Israel’s Netanyahu government has attempted to intimidate and shame UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon from attending the conference in hopes of undermining it, and specifically this year’s host nation, Iran.
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In reality, Netanyahu’s “leak” of his phone conversation with the UN’s Ban Ki Moon is a public relations stunt intended to play on whatever credit there remains for the “anti-Semite” card and Iran’s portrayal as the premier “state sponsor of international terrorism.” This is in part to undermine Iran, this year’s host nation, as well as sabotage an anticipated follow-up to the highly-successful “International Consultative Conference on Syria” held earlier this month.

Unfortunately for Netanyahu and his increasingly tenuous legitimacy, his government’s support and role in Western operations undermining the peace and security of neighboring Syria through the use of listed terrorist organizations including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda itself, instead place him amongst the premier state sponsors of international terrorism.

His nation, which should be enjoying standards of living and prosperity amongst the highest on Earth considering Israel’s extensive human resources, is facing austerity and economic hardship as the collective talent and potential of the Israeli people are squandered in the pursuit of armed corporate-financier hegemony instead of peaceful progress.

If Netanyahu is not presiding over a backward, bankrupted, terroristic state, no one else on Earth is.  His latest attempt to betray the trust of an alleged international body representing humanity’s collective “rule of law” not only indicates immensely unprofessional and conniving statesmanship, but a degree of diplomatic thuggery and intimidation that has no place in the so-called “Free World.”

The UN, which should be ashamed for many other reasons, including its failure to categorically condemn the West’s violent subversion of Syria via listed terrorist organizations, has no reason to be ashamed for attending the upcoming NAM conference in Tehran. Netanyahu on the other hand, has exposed himself and the interests he represents as both connivers and thugs attempting to intimidate diplomats from attending the conference.

The Israeli Government is the Greatest Enemy of the Israeli People

Western corporate-financier oligarchs have done more to send both Americans and Israelis to their deaths than any combination of suicide belt-wearing, Kalashnikov-waving “terrorists.” The “War on Terror” is indeed a fraud, and Israel’s government has masterfully played a pivotal role – maintaining a strategy of tension to keep its own people in perpetual fear, while keeping their perceived enemies in perpetual and absolute rage.  When enemies are difficult to find, the government of Israel and its corporate-financier backers upon Wall Street and in the city of London create them, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas (and here), and Al Qaeda.

The result is a nation at constant war, with an inexhaustible supply of enemies in an unending conflict giving the interests of Wall Street and London – the very interests that created the modern state of Israel to begin with – an excuse to remain perpetually engaged in the Middle East with a military encampment the size of a nation at their constant disposal.

Augmenting this camp are the Israeli people themselves, just as lied to, manipulated, and kept in constant fear as their counterparts in the West to keep the rank and file of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as full as Wall Street’s American Armed Forces or Europe’s NATO foot soldiers. 

The Israeli people are no less well-intentioned, talented, or full of potential as any other people on Earth, but they are likewise just as susceptible to being indoctrinated, misled, and terrorized into taking a course of action in no way beneficial to themselves or their nation. The Israeli government does not pursue a foreign or domestic policy conducive to its own self-preservation, let alone its prosperity as a nation.

Its constant warmongering, meddling geopolitically beyond its borders, and the creation and perpetuation of its alleged “enemies” have indeed killed more Israelis than any “terrorist.” The Israeli government and the corporate-financier interests they represent are the Israeli people’s worst enemy. It would be wise for both the Israeli people, and those who perceive themselves to be “enemies of Israel” to remember that and make a clear distinction when moving forward. 

The revelation about President Barack Obama’s decision to provide secret American aid to Syria’s rebel forces is a game changer. The presidential order, known as an “intelligence finding” in the world of espionage, authorizes the CIA to support armed groups fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government. But it threatens far more than the regime in Damascus.

The disclosure took its first casualty immediately. Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria, promptly announced his resignation, bitterly protesting that the UN Security Council had become a forum for “finger-pointing and name-calling.” Annan blamed all sides directly involved in the Syrian conflict, including local combatants and their foreign backers. But the timing of his resignation was striking. For he knew that with the CIA helping Syria’s armed groups, America’s Arab allies joining in and the Security Council deadlocked, he was redundant.

President Obama’s order to supply CIA aid to anti-government forces in Syria has echoes of an earlier secret order signed by President Jimmy Carter, also a Democrat, in July 1979. Carter’s fateful decision was the start of a CIA-led operation to back Mujahideen groups then fighting the Communist government in Afghanistan. As I discuss the episode in my book Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism (chapters 7 & 8), the operation, launched with a modest aid package, became a multi-billion dollar war project against the Communist regime in Kabul and the Soviet Union, whose forces invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. In the following year, Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan, who went for broke, pouring money and weapons into Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation forces to the bitter end.

Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski later claimed that it was done on his recommendation, and that the motive was to lure Soviet forces into Afghanistan to give the Kremlin “its Vietnam.” The Soviets’ humiliating retreat from Afghanistan in 1989, the collapse of Soviet and Afghan communism and the rise of the Taliban triggered a chain reaction with worldwide consequences. President Obama’s decision to intervene in support of Syria’s rebels, who include fundamentalist Islamic fighters, points to history repeating itself. Brzezinski, now in his 85th year, still visits Washington’s corridors of power. And General David Petraeus, a formidable warrior, is director of the CIA.

Three decades on, it seems likely that President Carter’s motive behind signing the secret order to provide aid to the Mujahideen was to entice the Soviets into Afghanistan’s inhospitable terrain, thus keeping their military away from Iran in the midst of the Islamic Revolution which overthrew America’s proxy, Shah Reza Pahlavi, in February 1979. If that was indeed the plan, then the Soviet leadership fell right into the Afghan trap.

China was then part of the U.S.-led alliance against the Soviets. Now Beijing and Moscow stand together against Washington as the conflict in Syria escalates. Otherwise, the U.S.-led alliance has many of the old players––the much enlarged European Union, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others in the Sunni bloc in the Arab world. And Turkey, which is now the base for the anti-Assad forces, channeling help to them. Turkey’s Islamist government plays a crucial role in Syria, like Pakistan in the 1980s during America’s proxy war in Afghanistan.

In Washington, an American official told Reuters that “the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.” And a few days before, the news agency reported that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey had established a “nerve center” in Adana in southern Turkey, near the Syrian border, to coordinate their activities. The place is home to America’s Incirlik air base and military and intelligence services.

According to NBC News a few days ago, the rebel Free Syrian Army has acquired American Stinger missiles via Turkey, clearly to target Syrian government aircraft. It reminds of President Reagan’s decision in the mid-1980s to supply Stingers to Mujahideen groups for use against Soviet aircraft. Their use was first reported in 1987 and it soon emerged that the heat-seeking weapons were so accurate that they were hitting three out of four aircraft in Afghanistan. As I have discussed in my book Breeding Ground, some of the hundreds of Stingers were likely to have been passed on to the Taliban and their allies after the Soviet forces left Afghanistan and the last Communist government in Kabul collapsed in 1992.

In recent months, American and European officials have been busy feeding information to media outlets that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the main sources of weapons to rebels in Syria through Turkey. The pattern is consistent with the long-standing Saudi policy to keep Islamists out of Saudi Arabia itself, lest they challenge the ruling family. Long-term lessons of proxy wars remain unheeded for immediate perilous “gains.”

Reports of the Obama administration sending Stinger missiles to Syrian rebels carry the first indication that non-state players now have advanced U.S. weaponry in the Middle East. That Washington is in such a cozy alliance with forces including Islamists soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden (on Obama’s personal order) is as incredible as it is consistent with follies of the past. The present will define the future again.

The situation in Egypt is becoming explosive. The killing of 16 Egyptian border guards in the Sinai Peninsula by “suspected Islamists,” and violence thereafter, represent challenges on several fronts for the new president Mohamed Morsi. Israel has been quick to blame Islamic militants in Gaza, ruled by Hamas, which has close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of the Egyptian president. For its part, the Brotherhood has pointed the finger at Israel’s secret service Mossad, claiming it is a plot to thwart Morsi’s presidency. These developments cast a shadow over Morsi’s relations with Hamas and, at the same time, increase his dependence on the Egyptian armed forces to quell the unrest, thereby undermining his authority. Murderous optimism of powerful and suicidal pessimism of victims in an oppressive environment blight the lives of many.


Deepak Tripathi
is a British historian, journalist and researcher with a particular reference to South and West Asia, terrorism and United States policy. http://deepaktripathi.wordpress.com

As battles in Syria rage, there appears to be talk of breaking the country into pieces as a way to end conflict. But the question arises over whose interests would be served by cutting up the Arab nation?

“The partitioning of Syria is the Israeli solution—their overarching goal is to weaken every Arab state by bringing religion and ethnicity into the equation,” James Paul, executive director of Global Policy Forum, told The Final Call. “We do not want to live in a world like that,” he said.

Discussions concerning the possible partitioning of Syria became a hot-button issue in the corridors of the UN after a blogger reported that an unnamed diplomat revealed the plan to partition Syria into three new states—Alawite, Sunni and Kurdish.

Dr. Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, explained why he disagrees with those who say Syria may be partitioned: “The religious and ethnic divisions in Syria are not so tightly geographically demarcated as to make any kind of partition realistically possible.”

But, Stratfor.com, a provider of geopolitical analysis tended to agree with Mr. Paul saying Syria “could collapse into a Lebanon situation in which it disintegrates into regions held by various factions with no effective central government.”

“Regime change and balkanization in Syria is very closely tied to the objective of dismantling the ‘resistance bloc’ formed by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, the Palestinians, and various Iraqi groups opposed to the U.S. and Israel,” said Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, a Canadian-based sociologist, scholar and research associate at the Center for Global Research. 

Mr. Nazemroaya continued: “The road to Tehran is being paved through Damascus and the Syrian government was constantly warned for several years to de-link itself from its Iranian ally and the Arab resistance groups.” Israel and the White House want to see the region in sectarian upheaval where the Arabs are killing one another, he added.

Some observers say more and more the U.S. role in destabilizing the Syrian regime becomes clear, as media headlines Aug. 2 reported a “secret order” signed by President Obama authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. agencies to support rebels fighting to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. News reports also said there is no way of knowing when the president signed the order.

The New York Times on June 21 revealed that the CIA was operating secretly in Southern Turkey helping with the arming of Syrian opposition fighters.

The White House had declined to comment at Final Call press time.

On Aug. 1, a spokesman for the U.S. State Dept. informed the press that the Obama administration had a $25 million budget for “nonlethal assistance” to the Syrian opposition, and had spent approximately $10 million so far. The White House announced Aug. 2 it was providing an additional $12 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance and another $76 million in assistance for food, water, medical supplies, clothing and hygiene kits.

The UN refugee agency said thousands of frightened residents fleeing the violence in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, are seeking shelter in schools, mosques and public buildings. The Syrian Arab Red Cross said they are registering about 300 displaced families a day.

Well over 70,000 people have sought formal protection in Turkey, while the Jordanian government estimates some 150,000 Syrian refugees have entered since March of 2011. In Lebanon, 34,096 where displaced Syrians are receiving protection and assistance, according to the UN.

“This balkanization process is very dangerous, because it essentially means segregating people. It is the ‘clash of civilizations’ that the neo-cons and their Likud cousins in Israel want,” said Mr. Nazemroaya.

The Christians of Syria like their brethren in Iraq are being forced to flee their ancestral homes, he said.

Bill Fletcher, executive editor of Black Commentator, doesn’t buy into the theory of the West deliberately re-drawing the maps of Arab nations. “When you look at Syria it is much like Libya, a legitimate rising up of people against tyranny,” Mr. Fletcher argued. Forces in the West do not see Syria as a possible threat to Israel, but Syria’s relationship with Iran is seen as the threat, he said.

“I want to emphasize that we are not only dealing with a strategy to only divide and destabilize the Arab countries. This is a strategy that targets Africa, Iran, Russia, and Russia’s former Soviet sister-republics, Pakistan and China,” argued Mr. Nazemroaya.

West Celebrates as Dark Age Descends over Egypt

August 13th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood begins rounding up outspoken journalists as Egypt arrays itself with West against Syria and Iran. 

US State Department’s Voice of America boldly proclaimed “Egyptian Media: Military Shakeup ‘Revolutionary’,” airing proclamations from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that, “Egyptians have been “dreaming of a fair democratic system for more than 60 years.” It is unlikely that Egyptians have been “dreaming” of an end to their secular system of governance, or “dreaming” of a sectarian extremist political party coming to power, notorious for thuggery, violence, and for being a stalwart pillar of Western machinations.


Image: Mohamed Morsi – hardly a “hardline extremists” himself, he is the embodiment of the absolute fraud that is the Muslim Brotherhood – a leadership of Western-educated, Western-serving technocrats posing as “pious Muslims” attempting to cultivate a base of fanatical extremists prepared to intimidate through violence the Brotherhood’s opposition. Failing that, they are prepared to use (and have used) extreme violence to achieve their political agenda.  
….

And already, Egypt’s “democratic dreams” are vanishing like the last wisp of morning mist as the ruling Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt begins rounding up critics amongst the media. AFP recently reported in their article, “Egyptian journalists to be tried for insulting Mursi,” that “television boss Tawfiq Okasha and newspaper journalist Islam Afifi will be tried for “incitement” and insulting Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi.”

Strangely, while similar actions around the world beget howling indignation from organizations including Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and IFEX – not to mention the US State Department itself which underwrites each of these faux-human rights advocates – there is not only absolute silence regarding this assault on “freedom of expression,” but instead, a collective chorus of support from the Western media, hailing Morsi’s increasingly despotic dismantling of Egypt’s checks and balances through an increasing aggressive consolidation of power, as a “step forward for revolution.”

Morsi’s assault on Egypt’s press has coincided with “mysterious” sectarian extremist attacks on Egyptian security forces on the Sinai Peninsula, most likely the collective work of Israel and Hamas. Of course, Hamas, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a direct creation of Israel (and here), and like the Muslim Brotherhood, is a pillar of US-Israeli machinations throughout the region.

Morsi quickly used the convenient attacks as a pretense to sack various security officials, the momentum of which carried forward to the forced “retirement” of Egypt’s military leadership.

Fortune 500-funded think-tanks including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution would gush over Morsi’s move to extra-legally procure more power – with CFR’s Steven Cook declaring Morsi as “extraordinarily powerful.” Cook would concede however that “in theory,” this is a “more healthy place for Egypt to be in a democratic transition, but you have to raise questions about the democratic credentials of the Muslim Brotherhood.” 

So What are the Brotherhood’s “Democratic Credentials?” 

Raise questions about the Muslim Brotherhood’s “democratic credentials” indeed. The Muslim Brotherhood is a theocratic sectarian extremist movement, and not only that, but a regional movement that transcends national borders. It is guilty of decades of violent discord not only in Egypt, but across the Arab World and it has remained a serious threat to secular systems from Algeria to Syria and back again. 

Today, the Western press has decried Egyptian and Syrian efforts to hem in these sectarian extremists, particularly in Syria where the government was accused of having “massacring” armed Brotherhood militants in Hama in 1982. The constitutions of secular Arab nations across Northern Africa and the Middle East, including the newly rewritten Syrian Constitution, have attempted to exclude sectarian political parties, especially those with “regional” affiliations to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda affiliated political movements from ever coming into power.

And while sectarian extremists taking power in Egypt and attempting to take power in Syria may seem like an imminent threat to Western (including Israeli) interests – it in reality is a tremendous boon.

Morsi himself is by no means an “extremists” or an “Islamist.” He is a US-educated technocrat who merely poses as “hardline” in order to cultivate the fanatical support of the Brotherhood’s rank and file. Several of Morsi’s children are even US citizens. Morsi will gladly play the part of a sneering “anti-American,” “anti-Zionist” “Islamist,” but in the end, no matter how far the act goes, he will fulfill the West’s agenda.

Already, despite a long campaign of feigned anti-American, anti-Israel propaganda during the Egyptian presidential run-up, the Muslim Brotherhood has joined US, European, and Israeli calls for “international” intervention in Syria. Alongside the CIA, Mossad, and the Gulf State despots of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian affiliates have been funneling weapons, cash, and foreign fighters into Syria to fight Wall Street, London, Riyadh, Doha, and Tel Aviv’s proxy war.

In a May 6, 2012 Reuters article it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

 The Muslim Brotherhood was nearing extinction in Syria before the latest unrest, and while Reuters categorically fails in its report to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh.

The Brotherhood was being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government: 

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood: 

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

It was warned that such backing would benefit the Brotherhood as a whole, not just in Syria, and could effect public opinion even as far as in Egypt where a long battle against the hardliners was fought in order to keep Egyptian governance secular. Clearly the Brotherhood did not spontaneously rise back to power in Syria, it was resurrected by US, Israeli, and Saudi cash, weapons and directives.

Likewise, its rise into power in Egypt was facilitated by Western-backed and funded destabilization, sometimes referred to as the “Arab Spring.” 

US-backed Sedition, Not Revolution Has Seized Egypt 

In January of 2011, we were told that “spontaneous,” “indigenous” uprising had begun sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, including Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, in what was hailed as the “Arab Spring.” It would be almost four months before the corporate-media would admit that the US had been behind the uprisings and that they were anything but “spontaneous,” or “indigenous.” In an April 2011 article published by the New York Times titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” it was stated (emphasis added):

“A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.”

The article would also add, regarding the US State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

“The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department. “

It is hardly a speculative theory then, that the uprisings were part of an immense geopolitical campaign conceived in the West and carried out through its proxies with the assistance of disingenuous organizations including NED, NDI, IRI, and Freedom House and the stable of NGOs they maintain throughout the world. Preparations for the “Arab Spring” began not as unrest had already begun, but years before the first “fist” was raised, and within seminar rooms in D.C. and New York, US-funded training facilities in Serbia, and camps held in neighboring countries, not within the Arab World itself.

In 2008, Egyptian activists from the now infamous April 6 movement were in New York City for the inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) summit, also known as Movements.org. There, they received training, networking opportunities, and support from AYM’s various corporate and US governmental sponsors, including the US State Department itself. The AYM 2008 summit report (page 3 of .pdf) states that the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James Glassman attended, as did Jared Cohen who sits on the policy planning staff of the Office of the Secretary of State. Six other State Department staff members and advisers would also attend the summit along with an immense list of corporate, media, and institutional representatives.


Image: The Serbian Otpor fist… in Egypt? The same US organizations that trained & funded Serbians to overthrow their government in 2000, were behind the April 6 Movement and the Egyptian “Arab Spring.” Sun Tzu in the Art of War said, “all warfare is deception.” In fourth generation warfare, no deceit is greater than convincing people they are “liberating” themselves when in reality they are dividing and destroying their nation so that Wall Street & London’s network of already in-place NGOs can take over. This, while a suitable proxy is put in office as PM or president. In Egypt, these NGOs would already have a new constitution drafted and ready before the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
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Shortly afterward, April 6 would travel to Serbia to train under US-funded CANVAS, formally the US-funded NGO “Otpor” who helped overthrow the government of Serbia in 2000. Otpor, the New York Times would report, was a “well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States.” After its success it would change its name to CANVAS and begin training activists to be used in other US-backed regime change operations.

The April 6 Movement, after training with CANVAS, would return to Egypt in 2010, a full year before the “Arab Spring,” along with UN IAEA Chief Mohammed ElBaradei. April 6 members would even be arrested while waiting for ElBaradei’s arrival at Cairo’s airport in mid-February. Already, ElBaradei, as early as 2010, announced his intentions of running for president in the 2011 elections. Together with April 6, Wael Ghonim of Google, and a coalition of other opposition parties, ElBaradei assembled his “National Front for Change” and began preparing for the coming “Arab Spring.”

Photo: From left to right, ICG members Shlomo Ben-Ami, Stanley Fischer, Shimon Peres, and Mohamed ElBaradei. Despite claims that Mohomed ElBaradei is “anti-Israeli” or “anti-West,” it is a documented fact that he is indeed an agent of the Wall Street-London corporate-fascist global oligarchy, and a member of the International Crisis Group which includes several current and former senior Israeli officials. The same charade is now taking place with Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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An April 2011 AFP report would confirm that the US government had trained armies of “activists” to return to their respective countries and enact political “change,” when US State Department’s Michael Posner stated that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to explain that the US “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.”

That ripple effect of course, was the “Arab Spring” and the subsequent destabilization, violence, and even US armed and backed warfare that followed. While nations like Libya and Tunisia are now run by a BP, Shell, and Total-funded Petroleum Institute chairman and a US NED-funded “activist” respectively, Egypt had managed to ward off and expose the US’ first proxy of choice, Mohammed ElBaradei, who’s own movement was forced to denounce him as a Western agent.

[Mamdouh Hamza. Image from youm7.com]
Photo: Mamdouh Hamza collaborated with Mohamed ElBaradei in executing the premeditated, US-engineered destabilization of Egypt in January 2011. Most likely to remove ElBaradei’s terminally infected public image, he has finally outed ElBaradei as a member of George Soros’ International Crisis Group and accused him of having “strong ties to Zionism.” Hamza himself, however, is just as compromised as ElBaradei, perhaps more so.
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The Egyptian military would then strike at seditious Western-funded NGOs, seeking to undermine the source of destabilization, the conduit through which US money and support was being funneled through to “activists,” and expose the true foreign-funded nature of the political division that has gripped the nation for now over a year.

A February 2012 AP article reported that Egypt’s generals declared, “we face conspiracies hatched against the homeland, whose goal is to undermine the institutions of the Egyptian state and whose aim is to topple the state itself so that chaos reigns and destruction spreads.” Clearly, this was an accurate observation, not a political ploy to undermine “opposition” activists, with similar US-hatched conspiracies documented and exposed from Tunisia all the way to Thailand.

With the more “blunt” instrument of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood taking the reins in the wake of ElBaradei’s fall, the West will inevitably face a reckoning in the distant future after the Muslim Brotherhood has served its purpose. Until then, it seems to be doing a masterful job disassembling the institutions, checks, and balances of Egypt’s secular government. Egypt’s “revolution” has gone from a quasi-pliable proxy dictatorship, to one both more hardline and brutal domestically, and more pliable and willing in terms of serving Western interests abroad.

A Dark Age Descends Upon Egypt 

For the average Egyptian, a dark age has begun to descend – one where freedom of speech is still curbed, the press still muzzled, an autocratic despot still holding the reins of power, but also one where the largest military in the Arab World is commanded by hardline theocratic sectarian extremists with regional ambitions and affiliations along with a proven track record of shedding blood within and beyond its own borders.


McCain (left) and Kerry (right) gesticulate as they explain Wall Street and London’s agenda within the confines of an Egyptian Coca-Cola factory. This was part of a trip surveying the effects of their US-funded opposition overthrowing Hosni Mubarak’s government. While war and destruction seem approaching over the immediate horizon, the final goal is global corporate-financier hegemony being extended over Egypt and its neighbors. Morsi will inevitably, but quietly prepare the grounds for the machinations described by McCain and Kerry in 2011.
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With the NATO-created terrorist safe-haven of Libya to Egypt’s west, and the epicenter of Arab World despotism, Saudi Arabia to its east, a corporate-financier underwritten terrorist empire is rising from the barren north of Mali, to the oil rich shores of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

There is no revolution. Instead, a violent, extremist multinational front has been assembled, as it was planned since 2007, to array sectarian extremists against the collective influence and interests of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the government of Syria, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. By consequence, this brazen geopolitical conspiracy targets both Russia and China as well, setting the stage for even greater global conflict. It is a conspiracy that will be paid for with secular, moderate Muslim, and non-Muslim blood across the region, the destruction of ancient culture and traditions, and the regression of all social and economic progress made since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. 

US Military Build-up against China

August 13th, 2012 by Peter Symonds

A paper by the Washington think tank, the Centre for Strategic and Independent Studies (CSIS), entitled “US Force Posture Strategy in the Asia Pacific Region: An Independent Assessment,” provides what amounts to a blueprint for the Obama administration’s military preparations for conflict with China.

While the CSIS is a non-government body, its assessment was commissioned by the US Defense Department, as required by the 2012 National Defense Authorisation Act, giving semi-official status to its findings and proposals. The paper involved extensive discussions with top US military personnel throughout the Pentagon’s Pacific Command. The CSIS report was delivered to the Pentagon on June 27, but gained media coverage only after its principal authors—David Berteau and Michael Green—testified before the US House Armed Services Committee on August 1.

The report featured prominently in the Australian media, which headlined one of its proposals: to forward base an entire US aircraft carrier battle group at HMAS Stirling, a naval base in Western Australia. If implemented, the recommendation would transform the base, and the nearby city of Perth, into a potential target for Chinese and Russian nuclear missiles. The proposal serves to underscore the far-reaching implications of the CSIS assessment, which is in line with Obama administration’s confrontational “pivot” to Asia, aimed against China.

The CSIS assessment declares that the underlying US geostrategic objective in the Asia-Pacific region has been to prevent “the rise of any hegemonic state from within the region that could threaten US interests by seeking to obstruct American access or dominate the maritime domain. From that perspective, the most significant problem for the United States in Asia today is China’s rising power, influence, and expectations of regional pre-eminence.” In other words, the prevailing American hegemony in the region must continue.

The document recognises that military strategy is bound up with economic imperatives. It identifies “trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement” as crucial to “a sustainable trans-Pacific trade architecture that sustains U.S. access and influence in the region.” While declaring that the US “must integrate all of these instruments of national power and not rely excessively on US military capabilities,” it is precisely America’s relative economic decline that is driving the use of military power to maintain its dominance in Asia, as in the Middle East.

Having identified China as the chief potential rival, the report rules out any repeat of the US containment strategy employed to isolate the Soviet Union during the Cold War—thus pointing to the United States’ economic dependence on China. Significantly, the authors reject a power-sharing arrangement with China, or, as described to the armed services committee, “a bipolar condominium that acknowledges Beijing’s core interests and implicitly divides the region.” This latter conception, in one form or another, is being promoted by some strategic analysts in the US and Australia as the only means of preventing war. The CSIS report rejects any pull back by the US from Asia, which would effectively cede the region to China.

Having ruled out peaceful alternatives, the CSIS paper sets out a military strategy. The authors do not openly advocate war with China, declaring that “the consequences of conflict with that nation are almost unthinkable and should be avoided to the greatest extent possible, consistent with U.S. interests.” They do not exclude the possibility of conflict in the event that US interests are at stake, however, adding that the ability to “maintain a favourable peace” depends on the perception that the US can prevail in the event of conflict. “U.S. force posture must demonstrate a readiness and capacity to fight and win, even under more challenging circumstances associated with A2AD [anti-access/area denial] and other threats to U.S. military operations in the Western Pacific,” the report states.

Thus, in the name of peace, the US is preparing for a catastrophic war with China. US strategic planners are especially concerned with China’s so-called A2AD military capacities—the development of sophisticated submarines, missiles and war planes capable of posing a danger to the US navy in the Western Pacific. While the US habitually presents such weaponry as a “threat” to its military, in reality China is defensively responding to the presence of overwhelming American naval power in waters close to the mainland. US naval preponderance in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and key “choke” points such as the Malacca Strait, menaces the shipping lanes from the Middle East and Africa on which China relies for energy and raw materials.

The CSIS report approves of the repositioning and strengthening of US military forces in the Western Pacific that has accelerated under the Obama administration’s “rebalance” to Asia. This includes: consolidating US bases, troops and military assets in Japan and South Korea; building up US forces on Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, strategically located in the Western Pacific; stationing in Singapore littoral combat ships—relatively small, fast, flexible warships capable of intelligence gathering, special operations and landing troops with armoured vehicles; and making greater use of Australian naval and air bases and positioning 2,500 Marines in the northern city of Darwin. In addition, the paper confirms that the US has held discussions with Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam over possible access to bases and joint training.

The document also reviews US efforts to strengthen military ties throughout Asia—from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Burma, Indonesia and New Zealand—as well as with its formal allies. Significantly, in ranking military contingencies from low to high intensity, it identifies Australia, Japan and South Korea as critical allies “at the higher spectrum of intensity”—in other words, military conflict with China—“with other allies and partners at the lower spectrum of intensity.”

While broadly dealing with all contingencies, the CSIS assessment is primarily focussed on “high intensity.” Its recommendations involve the further development of military arrangements with South Korea, Japan and Australia, and also between these allies. It recommends the implementation of the latest military agreements with Japan and South Korea. In relation to Japan, the document makes the strategic significance of Okinawa clear. It is “centrally located” between Northeast Asia and maritime Southeast Asia, and “positioned to fight tactically within the A2AD envelope in higher intensity scenarios”—that is, it is crucial in any war with China. The Obama administration has intransigently opposed Japanese government calls to relocate the large US Marine base at Futenma off Okinawa.

The CSIS document is not the official policy of the Obama administration: its findings are couched as recommendations. It considers all scenarios, including maintaining the status quo and winding back US forces from the Asia Pacific region, neither of which it favours. However, the most ominous aspect of the report deals with a substantial list of steps that could be taken to markedly strengthen the US military throughout the region.

As well as basing a US nuclear aircraft carrier in Western Australia, these include: doubling the number of nuclear attack submarines based at Guam; deploying littoral combat ships to South Korea; doubling the size of amphibious forces in Hawaii; permanently basing a bomber squadron on Guam; boosting manned and unmanned surveillance assets in Australia or Guam; upgrading anti-missile defences in Japan, South Korea and Guam; and strengthening US ground forces. While recommending consideration of all these options, the CSIS specifically calls for more attack submarines to be placed at Guam—that is, within easy striking distance of Chinese shipping routes and naval bases.

Any of these moves will only heighten tensions with China and the danger of an arms race and conflict in the Asia Pacific region. The CSIS assessment points to potential flashpoints, from the Korean peninsula and the Taiwan Strait to the South China Sea and the disputed borders between India and China. The report clearly represents the thinking more broadly within the Obama administration, and top US military and intelligence circles that are recklessly preparing and planning for war with China.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate marks a further shift to the right in the 2012 election campaign. Ryan is best known for his role in drafting House Republican budgets that would privatize Medicare and devastate federal spending on all other social programs.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote on November 6, the Ryan pick signals that the US ruling elite has decided on a frontal assault on key social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The Washington Post editorial page put the issue bluntly, criticizing “major flaws and omissions” in Ryan’s budget plans, then adding: “Yet his selection puts useful pressure on both Mr. Romney and President Obama to be more specific about their own approaches to entitlement spending, tax reform and other budgetary issues about which they would prefer to speak, if at all, in vague generalities.”

If the Romney-Ryan ticket wins, the Republicans will claim they have a popular mandate to privatize and destroy programs like Medicare and Medicaid on which tens of millions of poor and elderly people depend. If Obama is reelected, the Democratic administration will propose cuts nearly as devastating, while claiming to have “saved” these programs from the Republicans.

As always, the Republican right sets a benchmark of reaction to which the Democrats adapt in order to shift social policy as a whole ever further to the right and carry out ever more brutal attacks on the working class.

The barrage of demagogy and lies from both right-wing pro-corporate parties began as soon as Romney announced his choice of Ryan at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday, held with the battleship USS Wisconsin as a backdrop.

Romney called attention to the cuts in Medicare funding incorporated in the Obama health care legislation passed in 2010. “Unlike the current president, who has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion, we will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security,” he declared. Republican congressional candidates made similar arguments in their successful 2010 campaigns.

The Obama reelection campaign responded with commercials calling attention to Ryan’s role as the chief sponsor of the House Republican budgets in 2011 and 2012 that called for conversion of Medicare into a voucher-based program with strict limits on the amount of federal spending, effectively shifting the risk of higher medical bills from the government to the elderly.

Despite the attacks by both sides on the Medicare issue, there is a substantial area of overlap in the plans of both big business parties for dramatic cuts. The latest version of the Ryan plan, drafted as a bipartisan measure with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, would extend the mechanism in the Obama health care overhaul to Medicare: insurance exchanges run by the 50 states, with individuals purchasing private insurance using government-subsidized vouchers.

The Obama health care program establishes such exchanges for working people without health insurance who earn more than the federal poverty level. The Ryan plan would set up a similar structure for senior citizens. In both cases, the purpose is the same: using the vouchers (called “premium support”) to limit the federal contribution and shift the cost of health care from the government (or in the case of Obama, corporations) to the individual.

Ryan represents a definite social type—someone who decided in college, if not earlier, to make a political career as an advocate of ultra-right policies and the interests of corporate America. He was an enthusiast for Ayn Rand, the glorifier of capitalist brutality and selfishness, and went to Washington as a congressional aide and later a speechwriter for 1996 Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, before winning an open congressional seat in southeastern Wisconsin in 1998.

He is, like most congressmen and senators, a multimillionaire, with a personal fortune of as much as $7 million based on his own family’s earthmoving company in Janesville, Wisconsin and his wife’s inheritance of Oklahoma oil wealth.

Despite his posture as a “free market” radical, Ryan backed government intervention to save the banks and the auto companies in 2008 and 2009, voting for both TARP (the Wall Street bailout) and the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. He declared at the time that such efforts were necessary “to save the free enterprise system.”

Ryan is invariably referred to in the corporate-controlled media as “an intellectual leader of the Republican Party,” a description echoed Sunday by President Obama. This dubious accolade means that he can propose to slash benefits for the poor and elderly in order to finance tax cuts for millionaires, and at the same time claim that this will benefit society as a whole…all while keeping a straight face.

The congressional budgets that bear Ryan’s name have five major features:

  • Transformation of Medicare into a voucher plan with the federal contribution capped after 2023 so that it shifts costs to the elderly, up to an estimated $6,400 a year.

  • Conversion of Medicaid, food stamps and other entitlement programs into block grants to the states, with the federal contribution capped to force drastic cuts in spending at the state level, estimated at $700 billion from Medicaid alone over the next ten years. Some 14 to 19 million people would be cut from the program, according to an estimate by the Kaiser Foundation.

  • A multitrillion-dollar tax cut for the wealthy on top of the renewal of all of the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy, now scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Ryan supports a permanent extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, as does Romney. Ryan would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and make a similar cut in the tax rate for the highest-income households.

  • Maintaining or increasing spending on the military, intelligence agencies and Homeland Security Department and increasing the size and power of the military apparatus.

  • Eliminating virtually all other federal domestic spending—on education, the environment, energy, housing, transportation and employment, as well as most regulatory functions.

Ryan proposes to cut non-entitlement federal spending from the present 12.5 percent of the US gross domestic product to only 3.75 percent. Since military spending is included in this figure, and constitutes about 3 percent of GDP, this means cutting all other federal spending from 9.5 percent of GDP to only 0.75 percent, a reduction of 92 percent.

This would mean, among other socially disastrous effects, the ending of Pell Grants for 1 million college students and the loss of an estimated 4.1 million jobs over two years.

Ryan was also the author of the most radical of the various Republican legislative proposals to privatize Social Security in 2005, when the Bush administration pushed for such a change. Even the Bush White House was compelled to reject the Ryan plan as “irresponsible” because it funneled so much cash from the Social Security Trust Fund to private investment accounts held by Wall Street financial institutions.

From an ideological standpoint, Ryan represents the most right-wing candidate to be nominated on a major party ticket in at least a century. By one rating system, he ties with Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, the failed Republican presidential candidate, in the ranking of right-wing legislators. Ryan is not a Christian fundamentalist like Bachmann, but his record on social issues like abortion rights is equally right-wing.

Exploiting the transparent indifference of the Obama administration to the social misery created by the crisis of American and world capitalism, Ryan, Romney and the Republicans are seeking to posture as advocates of working people despite their ultra-right program. In his remarks in Norfolk, Ryan denounced “higher unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt” and claimed that the Romney-Ryan ticket would “lead to more jobs and more take home pay for working Americans.”

Liberal apologists for the Democratic Party, like the New York Times, seized on the Ryan nomination to make an argument for a vote for Obama’s reelection. “Voters will now be able to see with painful clarify just what the Republican Party has in store for them,” its editorial Sunday claimed.

The truth is that both the Romney-Ryan and Obama-Biden tickets represent the interests of the capitalist ruling elite. Whichever pair of millionaire politicians wins the November election, the new administration will intensify the assault on working-class living standards and carry out unprecedented attacks on basic social program.

Israel’s ‘Bomb Iran’ Timetable

August 13th, 2012 by Ray McGovern

Ex-CIA official Ray McGovern says that the Middle East may well erupt in a new phase of war in the next 10-12 weeks.  The timetable is fixed on the date of the US presidential election that could have massive repercussions.  

As the clock ticks down to the U.S. elections in November, another clock is ticking in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, whether Israeli forces should exploit the American political timetable to pressure President Obama to support an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful.

At this point, to dissuade Israeli leaders from mounting such an attack might require a public statement by President Barack Obama warning Israel not to count on U.S. forces — not even for the “clean-up.” Though Obama has done pretty much everything short of making such a public statement, he clearly wants to avoid a confrontation with Israel in the weeks before the election.

However, Obama’s silence regarding a public warning speaks volumes to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The recent pilgrimages to Israel by very senior U.S. officials — including the Secretaries of State and Defense carrying identical “PLEASE DON’T BOMB IRAN JUST YET” banners — has met stony faces and stone walls.

Like the Guns of August in 1914, the dynamic for war appears inexorable. Senior U.S. and Israeli officials focus publicly on a “window of opportunity,” but different ones.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney emphasized the need to allow the “most stringent sanctions ever imposed on any country time to work.” That, said Carney, is the “window of opportunity to persuade Iran … to forgo its nuclear weapons ambitions.”

That same day a National Security Council spokesman dismissed Israeli claims that U.S. intelligence had received alarming new information about Iran’s nuclear program. “We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon,” the spokesman said.

Still, Israel’s window of opportunity (what it calls the “zone of immunity” for Iran building a nuclear bomb without Israel alone being able to prevent it) is ostensibly focused on Iran’s continued burrowing under mountains to render its nuclear facilities immune to Israeli air strikes, attacks that would seek to maintain Israel’s regional nuclear-weapons monopoly.

But another Israeli “window” or “zone” has to do with the pre-election period of the next 12 weeks in the United States. Last week, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevi told Israeli TV viewers, “The next 12 weeks are  very critical in trying to assess whether Israel will attack Iran, with or without American backup.”

It would be all too understandable, given Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s experience with President Obama, that Netanyahu has come away with the impression that Obama can be bullied, particularly when he finds himself in a tight political spot.

For Netanyahu, the President’s perceived need to outdistance Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the love-for-Israel department puts Obama in a box. This, I believe, is the key “window of opportunity” that is uppermost in Netanyahu’s calculations.

Virtually precluded, in Netanyahu’s view, is any possibility that Obama could keep U.S. military forces on the sidelines if Israel and Iran became embroiled in serious hostilities. What I believe the Israeli leader worries most about is the possibility that a second-term Obama would feel much freer not to commit U.S. forces on Israel’s side. A second-term Obama also might use U.S. leverage to force Israeli concessions on thorny issues relating to Palestine.

If preventing Obama from getting that second term is also part of Netanyahu’s calculation, then he also surely knows that even a minor dustup with Iran, whether it escalates or not, would drive up the price of gasoline just before the election — an unwelcome prospect for Team Obama.

It’s obvious that hard-line Israeli leaders would much rather have Mitt Romney to deal with for the next four years. The former Massachusetts governor recently was given a warm reception when he traveled to Jerusalem with a number of Jewish-American financial backers in tow to express his solidarity with Netanyahu and his policies.

Against this high-stakes political background, I’ve personally come by some new anecdotal information that I find particularly troubling. On July 30, the Baltimore Sun posted my op-ed, “Is Israel fixing the intelligence to justify an attack on Iran?” Information acquired the very next day increased my suspicion and concern.

Former intelligence analysts and I were preparing a proposal to establish direct communications links between the U.S. and Iranian navies, in order to prevent an accident or provocation in the Persian Gulf from spiraling out of control. Learning that an official Pentagon draft paper on that same issue has been languishing in the Senate for more than a month did not make us feel any better when our own proposal was ignored. (Still, it is difficult to understand why anyone wishing to avoid escalation in the Persian Gulf would delay, or outright oppose, such fail-safe measures.)

Seeking input from other sources with insight into U.S. military preparations, I learned that, although many U.S. military moves have been announced, others, with the express purpose of preparation for hostilities with Iran, have not been made public.

One source reported that U.S. forces are on hair-trigger alert and that covert operations inside Iran (many of them acts of war, by any reasonable standard) have been increased. Bottom line: we were warned that the train had left the station; that any initiative to prevent miscalculation or provocation in the Gulf was bound to be far too late to prevent escalation into a shooting war.

SEARCHING FOR A CASUS BELLI

A casus belli — real or contrived — would be highly desirable prior to an attack on Iran. A provocation in the Gulf would be one way to achieve this. Iran’s alleged fomenting of terrorism would be another.

In my op-ed of July 30, I suggested that Netanyahu’s incredibly swift blaming of Iran for the terrorist killing of five Israelis in Bulgaria on July 18 may have been intended as a pretext for attacking Iran. If so, sadly for Netanyahu, it didn’t work. It seems the Obama administration didn’t buy the “rock-solid evidence” Netanyahu adduced to tie Iran to the attack in Bulgaria.

If at first you don’t succeed … Here’s another idea: let’s say there is new reporting that shows Iran to be dangerously close to getting a nuclear weapon, and that previous estimates that Iran had stopped work on weaponization was either wrong or overtaken by new evidence.

According to recent Israeli and Western media reports, citing Western diplomats and senior Israeli officials, U.S. intelligence has acquired new information — “a bombshell” report — that shows precisely that. Imagine.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli Radio that the new report is “very close to our [Israel’s] own estimates, I would say, as opposed to earlier American estimates. It transforms the Iranian situation to an even more urgent one.”

Washington Post neocon pundit Jennifer Rubin was quick to pick up the cue, expressing a wistful hope on Thursday that the new report on the Iranian nuclear program “would be a complete turnabout from the infamous 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that asserted that Iran had dropped its nuclear weapons program.”

“Infamous?” Indeed. Rubin warned, “The 2007 NIE report stands as a tribute and warning regarding the determined obliviousness of our national intelligence apparatus,” adding that “no responsible policymaker thinks the 2007 NIE is accurate.”

Yet, the NIE still stands as the prevailing U.S. intelligence assessment on Iran’s nuclear intentions, reaffirmed by top U.S. officials repeatedly over the past five years. Rubin’s definition of “responsible” seems to apply only to U.S. policymakers who would cede control of U.S. foreign policy to Netanyahu.

The 2007 NIE reported, with “high confidence,” the unanimous judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon in the fall of 2003 and had not restarted it. George W. Bush’s own memoir and remarks by Dick Cheney make it clear that this honest NIE shoved a steel rod into the wheels of the juggernaut that had begun rolling off toward war on Iran in 2008, the last year of the Bush/Cheney administration.

The key judgments of the 2007 NIE have been re-asserted every year since by the Director of National Intelligence in formal testimony to Congress.

And, unfortunately for Rubin and others hoping to parlay the reportedly “new,” more alarmist “intelligence” into an even more bellicose posture toward Iran, a National Security Council spokesman on Thursday threw cold water on the “new” information, saying that “the U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed.”

Relying on the unconfirmed Israeli claim about “new” U.S. information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Rubin had already declared the Obama administration’s Iran policy a failure, writing:

“Foreign policy experts can debate whether a sanctions strategy was flawed from its inception, incorrectly assessing the motivations of the Iranian regime, or they can debate whether the execution of sanctions policy (too slow, too porous) was to blame. But we are more than 3 1/2 years into the Obama administration, and Iran is much closer to its goal than at the start. By any reasonable measure, the Obama approach has been a failure, whatever the NIE report might say.”

Pressures Will Persist

The NSC’s putdown of the Israeli report does not necessarily guarantee, however, that President Obama will continue to withstand pressure from Israel and its supporters to “fix” the intelligence to “justify” supporting an attack on Iran.

Promise can be seen in Obama’s refusal to buy Netanyahu’s new “rock-solid evidence” on Iran’s responsibility for the terrorist attack in Bulgaria. Hope can also be seen in White House reluctance so far to give credulity to the latest “evidence” on Iran’s nuclear weapons plans.

An agreed-upon casus belli can be hard to create when one partner wants war within the next 12 weeks and the other does not. The pressure from Netanyahu and neocon cheerleaders like Jennifer Rubin — not to mention Mitt Romney — will increase as the election draws nearer, agreed-upon casus belli or not.

Netanyahu gives every evidence of believing that — for the next 12 weeks — he is in the catbird seat and that, if he provokes hostilities with Iran, Obama will feel compelled to jump in with both feet, i. e., selecting from the vast array of forces already assembled in the area.

Sadly, I believe Netanyahu is probably correct in that calculation. Batten down the hatches.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years in CIA’s analysis division, his duties included preparing and delivering the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates.

Bradley Manning Tortured at Quantico

August 13th, 2012 by Global Research

US Army photograph of Pfc. Bradley Manning

A more than one hundred page defense motion detailing how Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, was subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment while held at Quantico Marine Brig has been made public. The motion on “unlawful pretrial punishment” asserts officers at the brig made a decision to hold Manning in the harshest conditions possible, regardless of his psychological health. It concludes, as a result of “flagrant violation” of Manning’s “constitutional rights,” the judge should dismiss all charges with prejudice or, at minimum, grant “meaningful relief in the form of at least 10-for-1 sentencing credit for the 258 days PFC Manning inappropriately spent in the equivalent of solitary confinement.”

According to the motion, in January 2011, a senior officer told multiple brig officials during a meeting that he was to be held in “maximum custody” and under “prevention of injury” (POI) watch indefinitely. The officer claimed that nothing was going to change or happen to Manning on his watch. A Brig psychiatrists did not approve, was upset and said, “Sir, I am concerned because if you’re going to do that, maybe you might want to call it something else, because it’s not based on anything from behavioral health.” The senior officer replied, “We’ll do whatever we want to do. You [the Brig psychiatrists] make your recommendation and I have to make a decision based on everything else.” To which the psychiatrist said, “Then don’t say it’s based on mental health.  You can say it’s MAX custody, but just don’t say that we’re somehow involved in this.” The senior officer dismissed this request. Those at the top of the chain of command would use his “mental health” as an excuse to keep him in conditions of solitary confinement.

For nine months, Brig psychiatrists issued recommendations that Manning be downgraded from POI status, which gave the Brig the power to keep him isolated in the prison. They told Brig officials he posed no risk to himself and that the designation was actually causing Manning “psychological harm.” But these concerns and recommendations were entirely disregarded.

Under POI, according to the defense website, Manning was required to eat all of his meals alone and could only eat his meals with a spoon. He was not allowed to speak with any prisoners. He was given a suicide mattress with a built-in pillow. He was given a “tear-proof security blanket” that was “extremely coarse” and led to rashes and carpet burns on Manning’s skin. The blanket was stiff and would not “contour to his body” so it did not keep him warm. He was not allowed any personal items in the cell. He could only have “one book or one magazine” and when he was not reading the book or magazine would be taken away. It also was taken away each day before he went to sleep. He was not permitted to exercise in his cell. Any attempts to do push-ups or sit-ups would lead to officers ordering him to stop. Every night he went to sleep he had to strip down to his underwear and surrender his clothing to guards.

Manning had to request toilet paper when he needed to go to the bathroom. He would have to wait for guards to get around to providing this to him. No soap was in his cell. Sometimes when he wanted to wash his hands after using the bathroom, he would be able to, but sometimes he would not. No shoes were allowed to be worn. Initially, he was only allowed one hour of “permitted correspondence” a day. Then, after Oct 27, 2010, that changed to 2 hours/day.

Constantly, Manning was monitored. Guards checked on him every five minutes asking, “Are you okay?” Manning had to respond affirmatively each time and guards would take note of each exchange in log books. When guards could not see him clearly at night, like when he had his blanket up over his head or when he was curled up against the wall, the guards would wake Manning up and see if he was “okay.” And all of the lights were never turned off. There was also a fluorescent light in the hall outside of Manning’s cell that was kept on during the night.

These conditions were in addition to the maximum custody conditions imposed, which included being placed in a cell directly in front of the guard post so he could be monitored at all hours of the day, having to wake up at 5 am in the morning, having to stay awake from 5 am to 10 pm every day and not being permitted to lie down or lean his back against the cell wall. He was permitted only 20 minutes of “sunshine call” where he would “be brought to a small concrete yard, about half to a third of the size of a basketball court.” In the yard, he could walk around with “hand and leg shackles” on, while a Brig guard walked at his “immediate side.” The guards gave him athletic shoes that had no laces and would fall of when he tried to walk. Manning chose to wear boots so his shoes would stay on while walking. He would typically walk in “figure-eights” and was not allowed to “sit down or stay stationary” during “sunshine call.”

By December 10, 2010, he earned a longer period of recreation: one hour each day. He could exercise and move around without shackles or a Brig guard at his side. There was “exercise equipment” he could access but he would not normally use it because guards would tell him he could not use certain equipment and much of it was “unplugged or broken down.”

Manning could have non-contact visits on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 3 pm with “approved visitors.” During visits, he had to wear “hand and leg restraints.” He met his visitors in “a small 4 by 6 foot room that was separated with a glass partition. His visits were monitored by the guards and they were audio recorded by the Brig.  The recording equipment was added by Army CID after PFC Manning’s transfer to the Quantico Brig.”  Contact visits with attorneys were not allowed. Any time he met with his attorneys, he wore shackles on his hands and feet. He was not permitted “any work duty.” When moved outside his cell, the whole brig would be placed on lockdown, and, while being moved, he was “shackled with metal hand and leg restraints and accompanied by at least two guards.”

In July 2010, after being transported from Kuwait, a duty brig supervisor (DBS) assessed whether he should be placed in maximum custody conditions. The DBS “reviewed the inmate background summary and completed an initial custody classification determination.” Despite the fact that the supervisor did not find all the characteristics necessary that are normally required to be found in order to place someone in maximum custody, the DBS ignored this entirely and placed him in maximum custody.

The motion features what appears to be a deposition from one of the Brig psychiatrists that recommended Manning’s POI designation be removed. The psychatrists, whose name is redacted, details how the psychiatrist  ”knew” the brig was “very concerned about his safety…because there had been a suicide in the brig earlier that year.” The psychiatrist went ahead and “obtained the services of another forensic psychiatrist, who “evaluated the patient and concurred that POI was appropriate. The Brig, as I best recall, waited a couple of weeks to put this recommendation into effect.” But, after this, the suggestion that he be “removed from POI” was made again because he was doing “relatively well,” even if he exhibited “odd behaviors such as dancing around” and “possible sleep walking.”

By the fall, there was one incident. Manning apparently tried to perform a “yoga move in which he contorted his limbs in such a way that staff thought he was trying to hurt himself.” Manning was upset. The psychiatrist recommended he be put back on POI status then rescinded the recommendation. Of course, regardless of what the psychiatrist thought, he was never taken off this status. And, apparently, the Brig rarely listened to this person:

Question B. In your experience, does the Quantico Brig follow your recommendation concerning either Suicide Risk or Prevention of Injury Status? 

No. They generally keep patients on precautions longer than I recommend.

Another deposition from a forensic psychiatrist serving in the military appears in the motion. He worked at Quantico and made determinations about the “behavioral health” of prisoners. This psychiatrist said, when asked if being placed on “suicide risk” since July 31, 2010, might be detrimental to Manning’s mental or physical health:

It has long been known that restriction of environmental and social stimulation has a negative effect on mental functioning. Nevertheless, PFC Manning has been able to adapt somewhat and his anxiety disorder is currently in remission, significantly reducing his risk of self harm.

Finally, here’s an exchange that shows just how averse they were to the opinions of “pesky mental health providers,” who worked at the brig:

PFC Manning: Why was I on, why was I on prevention of status for almost 6 months?

**Redacted**: [chuckles to himself] I know this is no secret to you … I have plenty of documentation. Plenty of documentation based on things that you’ve said, things that you’ve done. Actions – I have to make sure, we have to make sure, that you’re taken care of.

PFC Manning: Yes, MSGT.

**Redacted**: Things that you’ve said and things that you’ve done don’t steer us on the side of “ok, well, he can just be a normal detainee.” They make us stay on the side of caution.

PFC Manning: But what about recommendations by the psychiatrist to remove me off the status?

**Redacted**: Who’s here every day? Who’s here every day? We are. Who sees you every day? That’s all he is, is a recommendation. We have, by law, rules and regulations set forth to make sure from a jail standpoint that Bradley Manning does not hurt himself. Maybe from a psychiatric standpoint, the recommendation he’s given – I get it, I got it, understand, OK? But he’s not the only decision maker. A mental health specialist is not the only decision that gets made.

It is over one hundred pages long so this only begins to demonstrate how Brig commanders ensured Manning would be subjected to conditions that amounted to torture throughout his entire detention at Quantico.

Manning’s defense lawyer said during the previous July motion hearing the motion should “shock the conscience of the court.” The totality of its content definitely should bother anyone. So far, Judge Army Col. Denise Lind has demonstrated a willingness to hear all the evidence. She ordered the production of a Leavenworth commander that the government opposed and also ordered that suicide prevention materials, such as a mattress, blanket and smock, be present in court when this motion is argued. (This is the smock he was made to wear after he made a sarcastic remark and a Brig officer reminded Manning who was in charge by forcing him to sleep naked.)

Manning is expected to testify in court on the punishment he endured when the motion is finally argued. It was previously scheduled for the hearing that is to take place during the last week of August at Fort Meade, Maryland. It has been pushed to the first week of October after the prosecution handed Quantico emails over to the defense. The defense filed for a continuance and decided it would need to request additional witnesses be present. This indicates the hearing in August will focus on getting witnesses approved for the hearing on the “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion in October.

The ongoing brutal mass killings which have recently begun to erode the very fabric of American society are to be seen in the light of a deeply felt hatred infused by the US ruling elites within the souls of the young white supremacists in America.

On August 5, Wade Michael Page, a man who was neither a psychotic or borderline personality, went on a shooting spree and opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six worshippers and injuring three. Stars and Stripes reported that Page was “steeped in white supremacy during his Army days and spouted his racist views on the job as a soldier”.

Pete Simi, an old friend of Page’s, says he was a white power musician who had served in the military specializing in psychological operations.

According to Simi, “Page started identifying with neo-Nazi beliefs during his time in the military [through] individuals who were active military personnel that were already involved in white supremacist groups.  At the time that I had met him, he felt like his involvement in the [white power] music scene really gave him a lot of purpose in terms of how he could contribute to the larger white-supremacist movement. And in fact, that is what the [white power] music scene does.”

Page had told Simi that his stint in the US Army (1992-1998) helped burgeon his ideology, “both because he met at least two fellow troops who were white supremacists and because the Army struck him as anti-white. Page was discharged for a pattern of misconduct.”

As Page saw it, “whites were punished while blacks got coddled,” Simi said. “The deck was stacked against whites in the military, and he realized all of society was structured that way.”

It may prove futile to try to figure out why Page decided to murder some Sikh worshippers. Some commentators have pointed out that the Sikhs might have become the target of Page’s hatetivism because they wear turbans, have long beards and bear some resemblance to the Muslims. However, it may be surmised that he just felt the urge to spew out his racist and religious hatred on a group of people who were distinctive from others.

Mass murders in the US are technically classified as hate crimes and are unfortunately on the increase in the US and Europe. In another incident, the hate criminals set a mosque on fire with the intention of killing the worshippers. However, the arson reportedly failed to claim any lives.

The incident took place on August 6 when a mosque in Missouri was completely destroyed in an arson attack. The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said the fire at the Islamic Society of Joplin was reported around 3:40 a.m. (0840 GMT) on Monday.

“The building was completely destroyed,” said Sharon Rhine, a spokeswoman for the office, noting that no injuries were reported and that no charges have been filed.

“No one was apprehended. They don’t want to call it a hate crime without information or knowledge of having someone to charge,” Rhine added.

Local community members say it is part of the ongoing attacks on their mosque since it was founded in 2007.

“Since the establishment of the mosque, we’ve been constantly under attack,” said former mosque board member Navid Zaidi, adding that “Our sign has been burnt … Our mailbox was smashed multiple times. We had bullets shot at our sign.”

Hate crimes are not limited to temples and holy places but are carried out in a wide range of locations where there is a large crowd of people and where there is a bigger chance of human losses.

On July 20, a gunman in a gas mask and body armor went on a shooting rampage, hurled a gas canister into the theater and killed 12 people and wounded 59 others at a midnight premiere of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ movie in a suburb of Denver. He was armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and a pistol. A statement released by the University of Colorado says the attacker James Holmes is a PhD medical student who was in the process of dropping out of a graduate program in neurosciences. His lawyers announced that Holmes suffers from a mental illness during a suburban Denver court hearing. Whatever excuses the defenders may find to exonerate 24-year-old Holmes and the likes of him will not change the reality that Holmes is just the product of a society which is generating the likes of Holmes every day.

In a recent incident (August 9), 22-year-old Ryan Clark Peterson opened fire at people in the Alabama nightclub on Thursday night and killed three people and injured one. He was arrested on Friday in the woods half a mile from the shooting site.

The Alabama nightclub carnage is the third mass shooting the United States has seen in recent weeks.

What deserves due contemplation in this regard is the fact that the murders in all cases kill in cold blood and that they go on shooting rampage with no regard for race, religion, and communal affinities. The implication is that the mass murders basically take place out of utter hatred promoted from the outside and legitimized within. 

The US government has ravenously waged wars in different parts of the world, spent inexcusable sums of money from the common purse, relegated the decent middle class society members to the deplorably destitute creatures, hauled the poor into the abyss of misery, shown no respect for human dignity either abroad or at home and executed the souls of the young generation hoping for a bright future.

A world thus created by Washington and so dramatically removed from spiritual values has naturally spawned felons and mass murderers who are the least pleased with the society and who manifest their anger and spite by way of spilling blood, especially the blood of those in whom they have been taught to see the source of their frustration. Figuratively speaking, these mass murders are to be interpreted in the name of a social war, and a kick in the teeth of a degenerated society.

Quebec’s “Red Square” Movement

August 13th, 2012 by David Camfield

In 2012 Quebec has been shaken by the most important social movement in the Canadian state[1] since the 1970s. What began as a strike by students in Quebec’s universities and Collèges d’Enseignement Général et Professionnel (CEGEPs, which most young people attend after high school) against a major increase in university tuition fees – part of capital’s international austerity drive – has become a broader popular movement against the government of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ), headed by Premier Jean Charest, and against neoliberalism.

Universities in Quebec Society

To understand this movement, we need to look at the place of universities in Quebec society. The Canadian constitution makes education a responsibility of provincial governments. Before the 1960s, only a tiny percentage of the francophone majority in the province of Quebec attended university; university education was more common for members of the anglophone minority, whose universities were better-funded. At the time, the capitalist class in Quebec was largely anglophone – one feature of the national oppression of Quebec within the Canadian state. In the 1960s, a section of the francophone middle class launched an effort to modernize Quebec society that became known as the “Quiet Revolution.” One of its key features was the creation of a secular education system including new francophone universities that charged low tuition fees. This reform was linked with popular aspirations for national self-determination in an era that also saw a high level of working-class struggle. Accessible university education continues to be widely seen in Quebec as a valuable distinguishing feature of the Quebec nation.

Participation in post-secondary education grew rapidly in the 1960s. A vibrant student movement emerged, as it did in so many other countries in that era. Thanks to student activism including strikes in 1968, 1974, 1978 and 1986, tuition remained frozen between 1968 and 1990. The government succeeded in raising tuition in 1990 but its attempt to do so again in 1996 was beaten back by a resurgent student movement (though tuition for international students and other student fees were increased). In 2005 an attempt to convert over $100-million of student grants into loans was met with a partially-successful student strike.

In March 2011, the PLQ government announced a tuition increase of 75% over five years, beginning in 2012. The move was part of the government’s effort to advance neoliberalism in Quebec by introducing new fees for public services and raising existing ones. In Quebec neoliberal ideology isn’t accepted as ‘common sense’ – especially in the working-class – to the same extent that it is in the rest of the Canadian state. In the words of its finance minister, the Charest government aims to carry out a “cultural revolution.” It wants to replace the belief that people have a right to access public services funded by progressive taxation with the principle of “user pay.” Elements of the student movement had been preparing for mobilization since rumours of a large tuition increase first surfaced. The announcement spurred them into action.

The Student Movement

Quebec university and CEGEP students are organized into associations, facilitated by a legal framework with no equivalent elsewhere in the Canadian state. In Quebec there is a strong decades-long tradition of students organizing in very democratic and participatory ways through the general assemblies of their associations. Local associations may choose to affiliate to a Quebec-wide organization, of which there are four. The Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSE), founded in 2001, promotes militant and democratic left-wing student unionism, in contrast to the others. In December 2011, ASSE formed the Coalition Large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (CLASSE), which student associations not affiliated to ASSE could join if they accepted its platform and highly democratic way of functioning. CLASSE was intentionally designed to coordinate a student strike and has been a tremendous success. It is currently made up of 65 associations with a combined membership of 100,000.

Student associations began to hold general assemblies to discuss the call for a strike. The strike began on February 13 and soon spread through universities and CEGEPs across Quebec. Participation was strongest in Montreal (Quebec’s largest city) and weaker in Quebec City (the capital city).

The most common form of action was not attending classes and organizing picket lines to prevent people from entering buildings or classrooms. In March, CLASSE passed a motion in favour of actions to disrupt the economy and the state, leading to “manif-actions” in which students took their struggle off campus and carried out blockades of government offices, courthouses, bank buildings, bridges and other targets. Students also marched in support of locked-out Rio Tinto aluminum smelter workers in the town of Alma, joined with other groups protesting austerity measures and protested the government’s plan to “develop” Northern Quebec, which is opposed by indigenous people and environmentalists. Art interventions and other cultural expressions of the movement gave the strike a growing public presence. The movement’s symbol, a red square (first used in 2005, because higher tuition would put students “squarely in the red”), was soon being worn by tens of thousands of people and made visible in other ways on the streets and online.

On March 22, the number of strikers peaked, with around 300,000 of Quebec’s 400,000 university and CEGEP students on strike that day. That same day – chosen consciously to refer to the May 22nd Movement which played a role in France’s massive student and working-class revolt of 1968 – saw a demonstration of some 200,000 people in Montreal (to put this in perspective, Quebec’s population is about 8 million). This took the movement to a higher level, with more students voting to take ongoing strike action. Students usually met weekly in general assemblies to decide whether or not to continue to strike, though some associations voted for unlimited strike action. Support for the strike remained much stronger among francophones than anglophones. People who experience racism have been underrepresented, highlighting the need to strengthen anti-racist education and action in the movement.

On April 14, CLASSE’s demonstration against both the Charest government and the very right-wing Conservative Party federal government of Prime Minister Steven Harper, called under the slogan “For a Quebec Spring,” was a real success. This was followed on April 22 with a huge Earth Day demonstration, where anger at the ecologically destructive actions of the Quebec and federal governments and major corporations was notably combined with support for the students’ cause and their anti-neoliberal militancy.

In an attempt to divide a movement that showed no signs of faltering, the Quebec government excluded CLASSE from its talks with student organizations. However, unlike in 2005 when they had agreed to a settlement rejected by the militant wing of the strike movement, the leaders of the other federations responded by maintaining a common front and withdrawing from negotiations. Charest then offered to spread the tuition increase over seven years rather than five. This was widely seen as an insult, and marches began to take place in Montreal every evening. Violent police repression at a demonstration outside a PLQ meeting in the small city of Victoriaville on May 4 was followed the next day by the announcement of a tentative deal to end the strike, brokered with the aid of the top officials of Quebec’s three trade union federations. When put to a vote the deal was massively rejected by students.

Having failed to demobilize the movement by depicting students as spoiled brats and offering insubstantial concessions, Charest turned to repression. The government rushed a special law, Law 78 (now Law 12), through the legislature in full knowledge that some of its provisions contravene the Quebec and Canadian charters of rights. This law bans demonstrations near universities and CEGEPs, declares demonstrations illegal if they are not registered in advance with the police, orders a resumption of classes in mid-August and imposes heavy fines for individuals or organizations that transgress the new rules. Municipal government followed up with restrictive bylaws of their own.

The Movement Broadens

This was a turning point. Instead of putting down the movement, Law 78 became the trigger for a transformation. What had been a student movement supported by a significant minority of the population became a broad social movement against the PLQ government. Already widely seen as corrupt and subservient to big business, the PLQ’s attack on civil liberties and student protest spurred many more people to act. On May 22, the 100th day of the strike, demonstrations took place across Quebec. Some 250,000 people marched in the rain in Montreal. This was followed by nightly “casserole” protests (in which people bang pots and pans) in the neighbourhoods of Montreal and Quebec City and other cities and towns. In some neighbourhoods popular assemblies began to meet. Mass arrests did little to stem the tide of defiance and solidarity.

Although some students and community activists had been calling for a “social strike” against the government, up to this point union support for the students had mainly been limited to giving money and participating in demonstrations (across the Canadian state labour law puts tight restrictions on strikes, including a prohibition of political strikes). After Law 78, discussion of solidarity action spread among union activists. A number of federations affiliated to the Confederation of National Trade Unions passed motions in favour of a day of strike action, to the consternation of its top officials. Unfortunately, the labour left is much too weak to be able to translate that sentiment into action.

Despite the arrival of summer, when student involvement in the paid workforce increases, and a lower level of involvement at the grassroots of the student movement, demonstrations on June 22 and July 22 were still very large. CLASSE has organized a tour, with its activists participating in events across Quebec to discuss the struggle and their radical manifesto, “Nous sommes avenir,” which calls for a social strike (the English translation is entitled “Share our future”).

Into a New Phase

The movement is entering a new phase. Law 78 orders classes to resume at a number of CEGEPs during the week of August 13-17, but some activists are organizing a Block the Return to Class campaign independently of the official student organization structures, to minimize the weight of legal sanctions on the movement.

Charest has called an election for September 4. His gamble is that low voter turnout and the division of the anti-PLQ vote will maximize his chances of reelection. The PLQ faces its largest rival, the Parti Quebecois (PQ, a nationalist party that coats its neoliberalism with talk of fighting poverty and defending students’ and workers’ rights), the Coalition Avenir Quebec (a new aggressively neoliberal party) and Quebec Solidaire (QS, which unites much of the Quebec Left on the basis of anti-neoliberal reformism and support for Quebec independence). In the Canadian state, the candidate that wins the most votes wins in a constituency and the party that wins the most constituencies forms the government).

The election presents a challenge for the “Red Square” movement. Ruling-class strategists are undoubtedly hoping that the election will finally succeed in quelling the movement, allowing a PLQ or PQ government to claim that the disputed issues have been legitimately resolved and to decisively marginalize CLASSE and its allies.

The PQ is calling for a truce in the student struggle and, in keeping with its tradition of consulting with the leaders of unions and community organizations while it implements neoliberal policies, is promising a summit on university funding if it wins the election. Despite the PQ’s record in government, there is real pressure on students and others opposed to the PLQ to vote for the PQ as the “lesser evil” most likely to get Charest out of office.

While two of the other student federations (aligned informally with the PQ) are calling on students to vote, CLASSE is steaming ahead with its efforts to build the movement and prepare for the forced return to classes. CLASSE-affiliated student associations are holding general assemblies beginning on August 7, with a CLASSE congress scheduled for August 11-12.

A few words about the Quebec Left are in order. Its main political components are QS (which gathers together a range of forces, from social democrats to revolutionary socialists), anarchists, and social democrats who still haven’t quit the PQ. Many anarchists have done much to build the movement, both as students and community activists. Although QS proclaims itself a party “of the streets and the ballot boxes,” it is oriented and organized primarily for parliamentary politics.

QS has supported the student strike in a number of ways and many of its members have built the movement as activists. However, QS itself has not acted as an organized force to advance the struggle among students, in neighbourhoods and in workplaces. The movement has created a new opportunity to strengthen support within QS for anti-capitalist politics that treat mass direct action on the streets and in workplaces as the key to beating back attacks, winning reforms and ultimately transforming society. However, it’s not yet clear if people on the left wing of QS will be able to come together to do this.

Whatever happens in the next phase of the struggle, a number of things are clear. This remarkable movement has politicized Quebec society around the question of neoliberalism in a way that is without precedent in the Canadian state. It has radicalized many people, especially youth, many of whom have gained very valuable experience in mass mobilization and democratic self-organization.

Activists formed by the “Maple Spring,” as some have called the movement, will be critical for the future of the Left. The movement has also given Canadian activists both inspiration and ideas about how to struggle more effectively.

Postscript

With classes scheduled to resume at many strike-affected CEGEPs this week, so far two CEGEP student associations have voted to end their strikes, one has voted to suspend strike action until after the election on September 4th and one has voted to continue striking. Ten CEGEP student associations and two university associations will be holding general assemblies this week to decide on their course of action. A number of university student associations continue to be officially on strike; beginning on August 20 others will be holding general assemblies.

Many students believe the election will resolve the fight against the fee hike by putting the PQ in government. This misplaced confidence in parliamentary elections and the PQ, which exerts a demobilizing influence on the movement, is reflected in the stance of the moderate federations of CEGEP and university students, which are putting their efforts into getting students to vote in the election.

At the CLASSE congress held in Montreal August 11-12, delegates voted to call for a continuation of the strike and for popular mobilization against attacks on public services, along with the creation of a pan-Canadian anti-neoliberal coalition to unite resistance to the Harper government’s attacks. CLASSE is mobilizing for what is hoped will be a huge demonstration in Montreal on August 22nd, in conjunction with the Coalition Against Fee Hikes and the Introduction of Fees for Public Services and other allies. If successful, this could put new wind in the sails of the student strike, which is crucial for the strength of the social movement no matter what party wins the election. •

David Camfield is an editor of New Socialist Webzine where this article first appeared.

As the triumphalism and self-congratulatory lauding of the Olympics “putting the ‘Great’ back in to Britain” as one government Minister modestly put it, temporarily winds down until the start of the Paralympics, on the 20th August, for one woman the event has been of heartbreak and searing heart ache.

Niran Al Samarrai is the wife of the former Chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Association, Ahmed Al Samarrai, who was kidnapped at a major Conference at the Oil Cultural Centre in the centre of Baghdad, with thirty six of his colleagues on 15th July 2006. Twelve were released after ten days, exhibiting signs of torture. The others, including Mr Al Samarrai have disappeared without trace.

The Cultural Centre is situated in the fortified well protected “Green Zone” (now the “International Centre”) near to the Ministry of the Interior – where in November 2005 US troops found more than one hundred and sixty whipped, beaten and starved prisoners, mostly Sunni. The Ministry was alleged to have been under the direct control of the highly sectarian Shia Prime Minister, Nuri Al Maliki, under whom Shiite death squads were rampant and multiplying.

On the day of the kidnapping Mr Al Samarrai had just finished addressing five hundred guests of the National Olympic Committee of Iraq, alleging a plot again the Committee, naming names, when more than sixty gun men in police uniforms stormed the meeting, having shot dead security men who tried to stop them. The area was “besieged” by modern police vehicles, says Mrs Al Samarrai.

The Olympic Committee and others were forcibly “arrested” by the armed “police” and bundled in to a “fleet of police cars” seen driving away in the direction of the Shiia enclave of Al Sadr city, named after the invasion for the largely Iranian-based cleric Muqtada Al Sadr.

Incredibly, in September 2006, Iraq’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Jassim Mohammed Jaafer in an interview with Al-Riyadhi Al-Jadeed (5th September 2006, Issue 420) stated that the abductors were from within the sports fraternity and he understood their grievances, indicating that the government was aware of who was responsible. Noteworthy is that Mr Al Samarrai, who had also been target of an ambush attempt in Athens, in 2004, had: “done his utmost to persuade the Minister or his advisors to attend the Conference.” They had refused.

It must be noted that the election of Mr Al Samarrai and his colleagues to the Olympic Committee, was organised with help from the International Olympic Committee, the above Ministry of Youth and Sport, other parliamentarians, with numerous monitors and media, international and local, IOC Members and Members of the Coalition Provisional Authority present.

Poignantly, the name Samarrai, of course, indicates that his roots are in Samarra, where the great golden domed mosque was blown up in February 2006, five months before the kidnappings.

Those taken with this man of ancient, beautiful Samarra, included:

Dr Amir Jabbar , Secretary General of National Olympic Committee of Iraq (NOCI)

Mr. Hasan Abdul Qadir Bahriya, Executive Board Member, National Olympic Committee of Iraq

Mr. Jamal Abdul Kareem, Executive Board Member,  National Olympic Committee of Iraq

Mr. Saieb Sadiq Al-Hakeem, Head of Water Polo Federation

Mr. Saad Tawfiq Al-Samarai, Head of Sports Facilities Security

Since the abductions, Niran Al Samarrai has fought a relentless battle for answers. Inspite of the fact that she is a British citizen and her husband had defected from Iraq and lived in the UK from 1983 – until returning to Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government – even Chairing London’s Swiss Cottage Islamic Association, and with Degrees in Physical Educational Training from Baghdad, Leipzig and the British Military Academy, she has met with a wall of silence and obfuscation.

In 2008, she met with the President of the International Olympic Association, Jaques Rogge, who promised all assistance. Nothing has happened.

With the President in London for the Olympics and Paralympics, she has again appealed to him for help, for the man she calls: “The star from Samarra”, in an open letter:

Mr Jacques Rogge,
President, International Olympic Committee,
Lausanne

Dear Mr Rogge

It has been six years and we have still not found the fate of my kidnapped husband, the President of the NOCI, Ahmed Al-Samarrai, and his 24 colleagues, as the Iraqi government has remained silent all these years.

In our meeting with you last, 2008, you assured us that the IOC will do its

utmost to pressurize the Iraqi government to tell us the fate of our men, but instead the IOC stood by the Iraqi government who announced your

support prior to Beijing Games. The Beijing Games then passed without any word at all from your side regarding the savage crime which attacked the NOCI, and the lack of investigation by the Iraqi authorities.

I attach a copy of a letter sent to you by my son, Osama, to which we have not received any reply unfortunately.

I believe the Olympic Family should show some sincerity to a man who is a member in one of its National Olympic Committees, and Member of Sport for All, and who served the Olympic Charter strongly in the face of the sectarian pressure he suffered from continuously, as you are well aware. The International Olympic Committee should make a stand during the London Games, and demand the result of any governmental investigation from the Iraqi government in Baghdad.

As you know, we believe the government itself was responsible for that crime (we gave you the evidences, Sir) and then kept its silence and failed to conduct any proper investigation. Indeed, they didn’t bother even to meet those few who were released within 10 days of the abduction. We had asked you yourself to meet them in order to see the torture marks on their bodies, but sadly we received no response from your side.

The London Games are underway, and being a British citizen who lost her husband while he was on duty for the Olympic Family, I hope that this chance will not also be wasted (similar to Beijing games). I am formally requesting please that the International Olympic Committee should ask the Iraqi delegation officially about the case, and to request that the results of an official investigation be made public.

I believe the recently established NOCI which replaced Ahmed & his colleagues should also bear responsibility for ignoring the crime and not demanding any investigations. They are also responsible for holding the salaries of the kidnapped, which left their families starving although I believe they are entitled to receive salaries until the Beijing Games and the proper election of a new NOCI in 2009.

My book about the crime “A Homeland Kidnapped”, was published in Arabic last year and the English version has been published in London recently.

The Olympic Family as well as the Media will receive copies from me. I hope it will serve as a reminder of the crime and the negative reaction towards it, in particular the failures to act of those who could have done more.

15th July 2012 was the sixth anniversary of the kidnapping. We are counting on your help, Sir, in the spirit of the Olympic Values and out of humanitarian concern, to help all the families of those abducted to reach closure after six awful years of suffering. The London Games is a chance for any person with conscience to raise their voice and use their influence to bring about a resolution to this crime that hit the Olympic Family.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Niran Al-Samarrai

www.alsamarrai13.org  

Background on death squads and sectarian divides see: http://harpers.org/archive/2006/08/0081159  

The election of the next puppet president of the “world’s only superpower” is about two and one-half months off, and what are the campaign issues? There aren’t any worthy of the name.

Romney won’t release his tax returns, despite the fact that release is a customary and expected act. Either the non-release is a strategy to suck in Democrats to make the election issue allegations that Romney is another mega-rich guy who doesn’t pay taxes, only to have the issue collapse with a late release that shows enormous taxes paid, or Romney’s tax returns, as a candidate who advocates lower taxes for the rich, don’t bear scrutiny.

What are Romney’s issues? The candidate says that his first act will be to repeal Obamacare, a program that Romney himself first enacted as governor of Massachusetts. This will cost Romney political contributions from the insurance industry, which is thankful for the 50 million new private insurance policies that Obamacare, written not by Obama but by the private insurance companies, provides at public expense. It is not to the insurance industry’s benefit to have a single payer system like other western countries.

Romney’s other issue is to blame Obama for America’s unemployment caused by the offshoring of the US economy by Republican corporate CEOs. In order to enhance their compensation packages, the Republican CEOs sent millions of America’s best jobs to India, China and elsewhere. The lower cost of labor in these offshore sites means much higher earnings, which drives up share prices for shareholders and drives up performance bonuses for management, while wrecking US employment, GDP growth and tax base and driving up the deficit in the balance of payments.

America’s main economic problem–the relocation of the US economy offshore–is not a campaign issue. Therefore, the US economy’s main problem will remain unaddressed. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/10/illinois-workers-bain-outsourcing

The real issues can nowhere be found in the campaigns or in the media. There is no mention of the Bush/Obama destruction of the US Constitution and its legal protections of citizens from arbitrary government power. Due process no longer exists for anyone who the executive branch suspects of being connected in any way to Washington’s chosen enemies. US citizens can be thrown into dungeons for life on suspicion alone without any evidence ever being presented to a court, and they can be executed any place on earth, along with whoever happens to be with them at the time, on suspicion alone.

Last May federal district court judge Katherine Forrest ruled that indefinite detention of US citizens is unconstitutional and issued an injunction against the Obama regime using this police state measure in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Obama regime gave the federal judge the finger. During the week of August 6-10 the Justice (sic) Department’s Brownshirt lawyers refused to tell Judge Forrest if the Obama regime is complying with the injunction. http://rt.com/usa/news/ndaa-injunction-tangerine-detention-376/print/ The position of the Obama regime is: “we are above the law and do not answer to federal courts.” One would think that Romney would be all over this, but he isn’t because he wants the power himself.

The Obama police state will shop around and find a federal appeals court dominated by Republican Brownshirt judges and get Judge Forrest’s ruling overturned. All those Republican federal judges we had to have to save us from liberal Democrats will now complete our deliverance to a total police state where all power rests in an unaccountable executive branch.This is what the Republican Federalist Society has wanted for years, and they are on the verge of obtaining it.

That the United States has degenerated into a police state in the short period of ten years should be the campaign issue. Who would ever have thought such a thing possible. Yet, there is no mention of the destruction of the rule of law in the name of a hoax “war on terror.”

The Bush regime created the propaganda that “they (Muslims) hate us for our freedom and democracy,” but how can Muslims hate us for what does not exist? The arbitrary unaccountable power asserted by the executive branch is totally incompatible with freedom and democracy. Yet, neither Obama nor Romney makes this an issue. And neither does the media.

There is no war on terror. There is war on countries that are not Washington’s puppet states. Unaccountable Washington is currently slaughtering thousands of Muslims in a variety of countries and is preparing Syria as its next holocaust. Washington, taking advantage of the splits between Sunnis and Shi’ites and between Islamists and secular Muslims, has organized a rebellion in Syria in order to overthrow a government that is not a puppet of Washington and Israel.

Among the foreigners streaming into Syria to overthrow the secular state in which Sunni and Shia Arabs have lived peacefully, are the Islamist extremists that Washington has squandered $6 trillion fighting for 11 years. The extremists are on Washington’s side. They want the secular Syrian government overthrown, because it is not an Islamic government.

This suits Washington’s policy, so now the taxes extracted from hard-pressed Americans are flowing to the Islamists that Americans have been fighting.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations on August 8, Obama’s national security aid John Brennan defended the diversion of American taxpayers’ money to the outside forces Washington has organized, financed and provided with military weapons to overthrow the government of Syria. John Brennan said, with a straight face, that the Obama administration is careful that the financial and military aid does not go to the rebels affiliated with al Qaeda. Brennan has to make this claim, because the Obama regime, being in cahoots with al Qaeda, is in violation of its own NDAA and is subject to arrest and indefinite detention.

Does anyone believe that Washington, determined to overthrow the Syrian government, is refusing to arm the most effective part of the fighting force that is involved? Is there anyone so naive not to know that military aid to “rebels” is fungible?

Having suffered damage to its superpower reputation by being fought to a standoff by a few thousand al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington learned that the trick was to employ al Qaeda not as an enemy but as an ally.

The test case was in Libya, where the US-al Qaeda alliance worked to overthrow the Libyan government. The advantage for Washington is that Libya is now beset by warring factions and is no longer a country that could get in Washington’s way.

Libya is the roadmap for Syria.

Syria made its mistake when it thought it could pacify Washington by taking Washington’s side in the first war against Iraq, thus confirming for Washington that Arabs are incapable of sticking together and thus are an easy mark to be overthrown.

If Syria falls, Washington will have murdered yet another nation. But this is not a part of the presidential debate. Both candidates agree that Washington should prevail in establishing a puppet state in Syria. Even Amnesty International has been suborned and lends its influence to the demonization of the Syrian government. Only the US is moral, indispensable, virtuous, humane, a light upon mankind. By definition, any opponent chosen by Washington is debauched, evil, sinful, a country that suppresses dissent and tortures its opponents, something Washington would never do, being, of course, the “light unto the world.”

Unlike the 1957 plot by British Prime Minister Harald Macmillan and US President Dwight Eisenhower to foment an “uprising” in Syria and assassinate the Syrian leadership (see http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32254 ), the Obama administration cloaks its intervention in humanitarian language, as do the rebels while they murder and execute civilians who support the Assad government. The presstitute western media describes the mayhem and murder as “humanitarian intervention,” and the brainwashed western public reposes in its moral superiority.

After Syria is destroyed, the last independent country in the region is Iran. Iran has also been weakened, not by Washington’s embargo, an act of war in itself, but by Washington’s financing of the “Green Revolution.” Iran now has a fifth column within itself.

Iran, the second oldest country after China, is now surrounded by 40 or more US military bases and is confronted by four US fleets in its own Persian Gulf.

There is a large number of nominal Muslims interested only in money and power who are working with Washington to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments.

If Iran falls, with both Russia and China surrounded by US missiles and military bases, the world as we know it will enter its final stage. Will Russia and China, having sacrificed all their buffers without a fight, surrender and be content to be ruled by puppet governments, or will they resist?

Don’t expect the packaged political campaign of the next couple of months to deal with any significant issue. Americans are oblivious of their fate, and so apparently is the rest of the world.

The selection of the next president of the US will depend on one thing alone–which of the two candidates financed by the ruling private oligarchy has the most effective propaganda.

Whether you vote Republican or Democrat, the oligarchs will win.

On July 27, 2012, the National Association of Letter Carriers adopted a resolution at their National Convention in Minneapolis to investigate establishing a postal banking system.  The resolution noted that expanding postal services and developing new sources of revenue are important to the effort to save the public Post Office and preserve living-wage jobs; that many countries have a successful history of postal banking, including Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States itself; and that postal banks could serve the 9 million people who don’t have bank accounts and the 21 million who use usurious check cashers, giving low-income people access to a safe banking system.  “A USPS bank would offer a ‘public option’ for banking,” concluded the resolution, “providing basic checking and savings – and no complex financial wheeling and dealing.”

The USPS has been declared insolvent, but it is not because it is inefficient (it has been self-funded throughout its history).  It is because in 2006, Congress required it to prefund postal retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future, an onerous burden no other public or private company is required to carry.  The USPS has evidently been targeted by a plutocratic Congress bent on destroying the most powerful unions and privatizing all public services, including education.  Britain’s 150-year-old postal service is also on the privatization chopping block, and its postal workers have also vowed to fight.  Adding banking services is an internationally proven way to maintain post office solvency and profitability.

Serving an Underserved Market, Without Going Broke

Many countries operate postal savings systems through their post offices, providing people without access to banks a safe, convenient way to save.  Great Britain first offered this arrangement in 1861.  It was wildly popular, attracting over 600,000 accounts and £8.2 million in deposits in its first five years. By 1927, there were twelve million accounts—one in four Britons—with £283 million on deposit.

Other postal banks followed.  They were popular because they serviced a huge untapped market—the unbanked and underbanked.  According to a Discussion Paper of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs:

The essential characteristic distinguishing postal financial services from the private banking sector is the obligation and capacity of the postal system to serve the entire spectrum of the national population, unlike conventional private banks which allocate their institutional resources to service the sectors of the population they deem most profitable.

Serving the unbanked and underbanked may sound like a losing proposition, but numerous precedents show that postal savings banks serving low-income and rural populations can be quite profitable.  (See below.)  In many countries, according to the UN Paper, banking revenues are actually crucial to maintaining the profitability of their postal network.  Letter delivery generates losses and often requires cross-subsidies from other activities to maintain its network.  One effective solution has been to create or expand postal financial services.

Public postal banks are profitable because their market is large and their costs are low: the infrastructure is already built and available, advertising costs are minimal, and government-owned banks do not award their management extravagant bonuses or commissions that drain profits away.  Profits return to the government and the people.

Profits return to the government in another way: money that comes out from under mattresses and gets deposited in savings accounts can be used to purchase government bonds.  Japan Post Bank, for example, holds 20% of Japan’s national debt.  The government has its own captive public lender, servicing the debt at low interest without risking the vagaries of the international bond market.  Fully 95% of Japan’s national debt is held domestically in one way or another.  That helps explain how Japan can have the worst debt-to-GDP ratio of any major country and still maintain its standing as the world’s largest creditor.

Some Examples of Successful Public Postal Banks

Kiwibank:

New Zealand’s profitable postal bank had a return on equity of 11.7% in the second half of 2011, with net profits almost trebling.  It is the only New Zealand bank able to compete with the big four Australian banks that dominate the New Zealand financial sector.

In fact, it was set up for that purpose. By 2001, Australian mega-banks controlled some 80% of New Zealand’s retail banking. Profits went abroad and were maximized by closing less profitable branches, especially in rural areas.  The New Zealand government decided to launch a state-owned bank that would compete with the Aussie banks. To keep costs low while still providing services throughout New Zealand, the planning team opened bank branches in post offices.

In an early version of the “move your money” campaign, 500,000 customers transferred their deposits to public postal banks in Kiwibank’s first five years—this in a country of only 4 million people.  Kiwibank consistently earns the nation’s highest customer satisfaction ratings, forcing the Australia-owned banks to improve their service to compete.

China’s Postal Savings Bureau:

With the assistance of the People’s Bank of China, China’s Postal Savings Bureau was re-established in 1986 after a 34-year lapse.  As in New Zealand, savings deposits flooded in, growing at over 50% annually in the first half of the 1990s and over 24% in the second half.  By 1998, postal savings accounted for 47% of China Post’s operating revenues; and 80% of China’s post offices provided postal savings services.  The Postal Savings Bureau has served as a vital link in mobilizing income and profits from the private sector, providing credit for local development. In 2007, the Postal Savings Bank of China was set up from the Postal Savings Bureau as a state-owned limited company that provides postal banking services.

Japan Post Bank:

By 2007, Japan Post was the largest holder of personal savings in the world, boasting combined assets for its savings bank and insurance arms of more than ¥380 trillion ($3.2 trillion).  It was also the largest employer in Japan. As in China, Japan Post recaptures and mobilizes income from the private sector, funding the government at low interest rates and protecting the nation’s debt from speculative raids.

Switzerland’s Swiss Post:

Postal financial services are by far the most profitable activity of Swiss Post, which suffers heavy losses from its parcel delivery and only marginal profits from letter delivery operations.

India’s Post Office Savings Bank (POSB):

POSB is India’s largest banking institution and its oldest, having been established in the latter half of the 19th century following the success of the postal savings system in England.  Operated by the government of India, it provides small savings banking and financial services.  The Department of Posts is now seeking to expand these services by creating a full-fledged bank that would offer full lending and investing services.

Russia’s PochtaBank:

Russia, too, is seeking to expand its post office services.  The head of the highly successful state-owned Sberbank has stepped down to take on the task of revitalizing the Russian post office and create a post office bank.  PochtaBank will operate in the Russian Post’s 40,000 local post offices. The post office will function as a banking institution and compete on equal footing not only with private banks but with Sberbank itself.

Brazil’s ECT:

Brazil instituted a postal banking system in 2002 on a public/private model, with the national postal service (ECT) forming a partnership with the nation’s largest private bank (Bradesco) to provide financial services at post offices. The current partnership is with Bank of Brazil.  ECT (also known as Correios) is one of the largest state-owned companies in Latin America, with an international service network reaching more than 220 countries worldwide.

The U.S. Postal Savings System:

The now-defunct U.S. Postal Savings System was also quite successful in its day.  It was set up in 1911 to get money out of hiding, attract the savings of immigrants, provide safe depositories for people who had lost confidence in private banks, and furnish depositories with longer hours that were convenient for working people.  The minimum deposit was $1 and the maximum was $2,500.  The postal system paid two percent interest on deposits annually.  It issued U.S. Postal Savings Bonds that paid annual interest, as well as Postal Savings Certificates and domestic money orders.  Postal savings peaked in 1947 at almost $3.4 billion.

The U.S. Postal Savings System was shut down in 1967, not because it was inefficient but because it became unnecessary after its profitability became apparent.  Private banks then captured the market, raising their interest rates and offering the same governmental guarantees that the postal savings system had.

Time to Revive the U.S. Postal Savings System?

Today, the market of the underbanked has grown again, including about one in four U.S. households according to a 2009 FDIC survey. Without access to conventional financial services, people turn to an alternative banking market of bill pay, prepaid debit cards and check cashing services, and payday loans. They pay excessive fees for basic financial services and are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders. On average, a payday borrower pays back $800 for a $300 loan, with $500 going just toward interest. Low-income adults in the U.S spend over 5 billion dollars paying off fees and debt associated with predatory loans annually.

Another underserviced market is the rural population.  In May 2012, a move to shutter 3,700 low-revenue post offices was halted only by months of dissent from rural states and their lawmakers.  Banking services are also more limited for farmers following the 2008 financial crisis.  With shrinking resources for obtaining credit, farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in their homes.

It is clear that there is a market for postal banking.  Countries such as Russia and India are exploring full-fledged lending services through their post offices; but if lending to the underbanked seems too risky, a U.S. postal bank could follow the lead of Japan Post and use the credit generated from its deposits to buy safe and liquid government bonds.  That could still make the bank a win-win-win, providing income for the post office, safe and inexpensive depository and checking services for the underbanked, and a reliable source of public funding for the government.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com.

The Games Of Summer: From Playing Fields To Battle Fields

August 12th, 2012 by Danny Schechter

When the modern Olympics were first conceived, they were intended as a peaceful alternative to war. The nations of the world were supposed to lay down their arms and stop fighting during the games out of respect for the Olympic ideal. That, of course has not happened.

In 1936, Adolph Hitler used the Berlin Olympics to showcase his “ideals,” and, now, today, the sports spectacle in London became a showcase of corporate branding and entertainment while wars rage without comment by the global TV machine that focuses only on the play by play of who’s ahead and who’s behind on the fields of sports and politics.

The Games themselves encourage patriotism without reflection, while TV companies fight a war for ratings and revenues. Uri Avnery, the Israeli peace activist, goes further, arguing that sports have become a substitute for war.

“Konrad Lorenz, the Austrian professor who researched the behavior of animals as a basis for understanding human behavior, asserted that sports are a substitute for war.

Nature has equipped humans with aggressive instincts. They were an instrument for survival. When resources on earth were scarce, humans, like other animals, had to fight off intruders in order to stay alive.

This aggressiveness is so deeply imbedded in our biological heritage that it is quite useless to try to eliminate it. Instead, Lorenz thought, we must find harmless outlets for it. Sport is one answer.”

Needless to say, this type of analysis is missing in all the pomp and circumstance of flags waving and anthems playing.

When you turn away from the contests and leave the sports pages to return to the news pages, you note that the games politicians play are less open and much more covert, concealed with rhetoric and labeling that makes it much harder to identify the players or watch their coaches and advisors who stay in the shadows.

It’s far more fascinating, apparently to watch Curiosity rove about Mars, than look closely at the way the battle for Syria is being portrayed.

Hillary Clinton has been visiting South Africa in part to try to win support for US policy for the endless “terror war” and “human rights” for the people of Syria. That is the way the issue is being presented in the US where the media drones on about the righteousness of the “rebel” fight for “democracy.

Of course, the contradiction of non democratic monarchies like Saudia Arabia and Qatar arming an opposition that enjoys Al Qaeda backing is seldom mentioned.

It’s significant that while the US Secretary of State visits the aging Nelson Mandela and praises his “smile,” Mandela’s wife Graca Machel and the visiting former Irish President Mary Robinson blast the US for undermining the UN’s efforts to mediate a peaceful solution in Syria. (Kofi Annan is leaving the UN “team” with an Algerian envoy expected to replace him. Recall that it was Algeria that was the intermediary for the release of American hostages in Iran in 1981)

What Washington is doing at the UN, meanwhile is a basketball style “full court press” to get the General Assembly to pressure the Security Council to authorize a fuller war. So far, China and Russia have used vetoes that the Obama Administration finds infuriating

The French Magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, while criticizing the Russians, points out, “Though Moscow is a difficult partner, it doesn’t always refuse cooperation — the US is the country that has used its veto the most.”

Needless to say that “fact” rarely, if ever, surfaces in US media accounts. Another one that is missing is that Iran is trying to find a formula to end the fighting. Russia is attending its conference but the opposition has not been invited.

Says Russia: “Naturally, we intend to firmly pursue our line [calling for] an immediate end to bloodshed and the suffering of the civilian population, as well as for achieving a peaceful resolution in the interest of all Syrians through a broad political dialogue.”

The only people who would dismiss the idea of a broad political dialogue are those who are determined to overthrow the Syrian government. That’s why most observers now say diplomatic breakthroughs are unlikely and the military stalemate will continue, according to WorldCrunch:

“Russia’s strategic maneuvering in the UN, along with China, has shielded the Syrian regime from sanctions and full-scale international intervention. “

How long will the impasse continue? Washington is chomping at the bit to intervene even more, beyond covert financial subsidies and overt posturing, to enhance Obama’s status as a commander in chief. Just this past week, he signed a new set of tougher sanctions.

Israel was predictably one of the first countries out of the box to blast the Iranian peace initiative, with the Jerusalem Post quoting anonymous sources, as in “Western diplomats have dismissed the conference as an attempt to divert attention away from bloody events on the ground and to preserve the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad,” and:

“The Islamic Republic’s support for Assad’s regime is hardly compatible with a genuine attempt at conciliation between the parties,” said one Western diplomat based in Tehran.”

But aside from toppling Assad, it is uncertain what these unnamed—or invented—self-styled western diplomats invisage or propose about “conciliation.” The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports that there are now fears of “chaos”—in essence a replay of the deadly aftermath of the Libya intervention with its bloody liquidation of Gadaffy, toll in human lives and continuing uncertainty despite the pretense of elections.

Jordan says that the Syrian Foreign Minister who went there will soon leave, while Lebanon’s Daily News reports that Syrian refugees in the tent camps set up in Jordan are finding not freedom but “snakes, scorpions and dust storms.”

My hunch is that too few in the world are paying much attention to the Syrian scenario, caught up as they are with the games in London. Surely someone there can say something about how the Olympics were supposed to promote peace in a world that would apparently rather fight it out, than negotiate it out.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at www.newsdissector.net. His latest books are Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street and Blogothon. He hosts a weekly radio show on Progressive Radio Network, (PRN.fm) Comments to [email protected]  

September 2001: Women of Afghanistan Speak out on the 9/11 Attacks

August 12th, 2012 by Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan

Global Research Editor’s Note

For the next month until September 11, 2012, we will posting on a daily basis important articles from our early archives pertaining to the tragic events of 9/11.

The following text originally published on Global Research on September 16, 2001, by The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan  (RAWA), constitutes a response to US-NATO war plans to wage a war of retribution against the people of Afghanistan.

These war plans were announced on September 12, 2001, confirmed by NATO’s Atlantic Council on the morning of September 12, 2001. They were carried out on October 7, 2001.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, August 12, 2001

Posted at globalresearch.ca 16 September 2001

 

The people of Afghanistan have nothing to do with Osama and his accomplices

by Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan  (RAWA)

The US government and people should know that there is a vast difference between the poor and devastated people of Afghanistan and the terrorist Jehadi and Taliban criminals.

While we once again announce our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the US, we also believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people. We sincerely hope that the great American people could DIFFERENTIATE between the people of Afghanistan and a handful of fundamentalist terrorists. Our hearts go out to the people of the US.

Down with terrorism!

On September 11, 2001 the world was stunned with the horrific terrorist attacks on the United States. RAWA stands with the rest of the world in expressing our sorrow and condemnation for this barbaric act of violence and terror. RAWA had already warned that the United States should not support the most treacherous, most criminal, most anti-democracy and anti-women Islamic fundamentalist parties because after both the Jehadi and the Taliban have committed every possible type of heinous crimes against our people, they would feel no shame in committing such crimes against the American people whom they consider “infidel”. In order to gain and maintain their power, these barbaric criminals are ready to turn easily to any criminal force.

But unfortunately we must say that it was the government of the United States who supported Pakistani dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq in creating thousands of religious schools from which the germs of Taliban emerged. In the similar way, as is clear to all, Osama Bin Laden has been the blue-eyed boy of CIA. But what is more painful is that American politicians have not drawn a lesson from their pro-fundamentalist policies in our country and are still supporting this or that fundamentalist band or leader. In our opinion any kind of support to the fundamentalist Taliban and Jehadies is actually trampling democratic, women’s rights and human rights values.

If it is established that the suspects of the terrorist attacks are outside the US, our constant claim that fundamentalist terrorists would devour their creators, is proved once more.

The US government should consider the root cause of this terrible event, which has not been the first and will not be the last one too. The US should stop supporting Afghan terrorists and their supporters once and for all.

Now that the Taliban and Osama are the prime suspects by the US officials after the criminal attacks, will the US subject Afghanistan to a military attack similar to the one in 1998 and kill thousands of innocent Afghans for the crimes committed by the Taliban and Osama? Does the US think that through such attacks, with thousands of deprived, poor and innocent people of Afghanistan as its victims, will be able to wipe out the root-cause of terrorism, or will it spread terrorism even to a larger scale?

From our point of view a vast and indiscriminate military attacks on a country that has been facing permanent disasters for more than two decades will not be a matter of pride. We don’t think such an attack would be the expression of the will of the American people.

The US government and people should know that there is a vast difference between the poor and devastated people of Afghanistan and the terrorist Jehadi and Taliban criminals.

While we once again announce our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the US, we also believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people. We sincerely hope that the great American people could DIFFERENTIATE between the people of Afghanistan and a handful of fundamentalist terrorists. Our hearts go out to the people of the US.

Down with terrorism!

Global Research Editor’s Note

As September approaches, we are reminded that the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 will soon be upon us once again.

Eleven years laters, are we any closer to the truth about what really happened on that fateful day?

For the next month until September 11, 2012, we will be posting on a daily basis important articles from our early archives pertaining to the tragic events of 9/11.

The following text was published on September 21, 2001, following Bush’s address to the US Congress on September 20, 2001, in which he accuses Al Qaeda of perpetrating the 9/11 attacks. 

It is important to remind ourselves that in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, public opinion in North America and Western Europe (with some exceptions) was largely supportive of the official narrative as conveyed in Bush’s historical address. 

The Annex below pertains to an important document of the Republican Party Committee of the US Congress, which provides ample evidence of US government support during the Clinton Adminstration to the “Militant Islamic Base”, namely Al Qaeda. 

What the document does not mention is that successive US adminstrations since the late 1970s have supported and abetted the “Islamic Jihad”.  

Since the Soviet-Afghan war, the US and NATO have recruited Mujahideen (“holy warriors”) to fight their covert wars. 

The 1997 document of the US Congress reveals how the Clinton administration –under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake– had recruited Al Qaeda mercenaries thereby “turning Bosnia into a militant Islamic base”.

The “Bosnian pattern” of using Al Qaeda as the Western military alliance’s foot soldiers was replicated in Kosovo in 1998-99, with the recruitment of foreign mercenaries fighting in the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

This model of funding terrorists was applied in Libya in 2011 with support funnelled to an Al Qaeda affiliated organization: the Libya Islamic fighting Group (LIFG).

In Syria, the Western military alliance is supporting the recruitment of Al Qaeda mercenaries, which have integrated the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The Congressional document in Annex, while also focussing on the role of Iran in Bosnia confirms the links of the Clinton adminstration to the Islamic terror network, which is a creation of US intelligence. 

Excerpt from document (emphasis added):

“For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. ["How Bosnia's Muslims Dodged Arms Embargo: Relief Agency Brokered Aid From Nations, Radical Groups," Washington Post, 9/22/96; see also "Saudis Funded Weapons For Bosnia, Official Says: $ 300 Million Program Had U.S. 'Stealth Cooperation'," Washington Post, 2/2/96]

TWA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Binladen, a wealthy Saudi emigre believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [WP, 9/22/96] (Sheik Rahman, a native of Egypt, is currently in prison in the United States; letter bombs addressed to targets in Washington and London, apparently from Alexandria, Egypt, are believed connected with his case. Binladen was a resident in Khartoum, Sudan, until last year; he is now believed to be in Afghanistan, “where he has issued statements calling for attacks on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf." [WP, 9/22/96])

In substance, the Congressional document confirms that in the decade prior to 9/11, the US government rather than fighting Al Qaeda, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was in fact supporting it.

And in the wake of 9/11, the “Global War on Terrorism” was launched with a view to comabating Al Qaeda. Yet, in a bitter irony, the evidence amply confirms that the “War on Terrorism” is in fact using terrorists to wage war on behalf of the Western military alliance.  

Déjà Vu? A diabolical  pattern of  supporting  as well as “using terrorists” to wage the Western military alliance’s “humanitarian wars” has been established.

The Bosnia-Kosovo model of recruiting Al Qaeda Mujahideen has been replicated in Libya (2011) and Syria (2012). 

Iin Syria, US-NATO-Israeli sponsored Al Qaeda affiliated mercenaries recruited in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are fighting in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). 

Michel Chossudovsky, August 12, 2012

Originally Posted on Global Research at globalresearch.ca 21 September 2001

Since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahedin (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest has become an integral part of US foreign policy. A 1997 document of the US Congress reveals how the Clinton administration –under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake– had “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through the so-called “Militant Islamic Network,” of thousands of Mujahedin from the Muslim world.

The “Bosnian pattern” has since been replicated in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Among the foreign mercenaries now fighting with the Kosovo Liberation Army(KLA) in Macedonia are Mujahedin from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Also within the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army are senior US military advisers from a private mercenary outfit on contract to the Pentagon as well as “soldiers of fortune” from Britain, Holland and Germany.

“Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking, ‘Who attacked our country?’” said George W. Bush in his address to the US Congress on 20 September. “This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden are linked to many other organizations in different countries.”

What the President fails to mention in his speech is the complicity of agencies of the US government in supporting and abetting Osama bin Laden.

The Bush Administration has misled the American people. What is the hidden agenda? The largest military operation since the Vietnam War is being launched against Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network, when the evidence amply confirms that Osama has been “harbored” since the Soviet-Afghan war by agencies of the US government.

We are reproducing below the 1997 Congressional Press release, which provides detailed evidence from official sources of the links between the Islamic Jihad and the US government during the Clinton Adminstration. The CRG does not necessarily share or endorse the conclusions of the document which emanates from the Republican Party.

Michel Chossudovsky, 21 September 2001

Annex

Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

Congressional Press Release, US Congress, 16 January 1997 Posted at globalresearch.ca 21 September 2001

Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

“‘There is no question that the policy of getting arms into Bosnia was of great assistance in allowing the Iranians to dig in and create good relations with the Bosnian government,’ a senior CIA officer told Congress in a classified deposition. ‘And it is a thing we will live to regret because when they blow up some Americans, as they no doubt will before this … thing is over, it will be in part because the Iranians were able to have the time and contacts to establish themselves well in Bosnia.”‘

“Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ ["Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ 500,000,

CIA Alleges: Classified Report Says Izetbegovic Has Been 'Co-Opted,'

Contradicting U.S. Public Assertion of Rift," Los Angeles Times, 12/31/96. Ellipses in original. Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim president of Bosnia.] “‘If you read President Izetbegovk’s writings, as I have, there is no doubt that he is an Islamic fundamentalist,’ said a senior Western diplomat with long experience in the region. ‘He is a very nice fundamentalist, but he is still a fundamentalist. This has not changed. His goal is to establish a Muslim state in Bosnia, and the Serbs and Croats understand this better than the rest of us.”‘ ["Bosnian Leader Hails Islam at Election Rallies," New York Times, 9/2/96]

Introduction and Summary

In late 1995, President Bill Clinton dispatched some 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of a NATO-led “implementation force” (IFOR) to ensure that the warning Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian factions complied with provisions of the Dayton peace plan. [NOTE: This paper assumes the reader is acquainted with the basic facts of the Bosnian war leading to the IFOR deployment. For background, see RPC's "Clinton Administration Ready to Send U.S. Troops to Bosnia, "9/28/95," and Legislative Notice No. 60, "Senate to Consider Several Resolutions on Bosnia," 12/12/95]

Through statements by Administration spokesmen, notably Defense Secretary Perry and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Shalikashvili, the president firmly assured Congress and the American people that U S. personnel would be out of Bosnia at the end of one year. Predictably, as soon as the November 1996 election was safely behind him, President Clinton announced that approximately 8,5 00 U.S. troops would be remaining for another 18 months as part of a restructured and scaled down contingent, the “stabilization force” (SFOR), officially established on December 20, 1996.

SFOR begins its mission in Bosnia under a serious cloud both as to the nature of its mission and the dangers it will face. While IFOR had successfully accomplished its basic military task – separating the factions’ armed forces – there has been very little progress toward other stated goals of the Dayton agreement, including political and economic reintegration of Bosnia, return of refugees to their homes, and apprehension and prosecution of accused war criminals.

It is far from certain that the cease-fire that has held through the past year will continue for much longer, in light of such unresolved issues as the status of the cities of Brcko (claimed by Muslims but held by the Serbs) and Mostar (divided between nominal Muslim and Croat allies, both of which are currently being armed by the Clinton Administration). Moreover, at a strength approximately one-third that of its predecessor, SFOR may not be in as strong a position to deter attacks by one or another of the Bosnian factions or to avoid attempts to involve it in renewed fighting: “IFOR forces, despite having suffered few casualties, have been vulnerable to attacks from all of the contending sides over the year of the Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [i.e., SFOR] evolves, presumably maintaining a smaller force on the ground, the deterrent effect which has existed may well become less compelling and vulnerabilities of the troops will increase.” ["Military Security in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Present and Future," Bulletin of the Atlantic Council of the United States, 12/18/96]

The Iranian Connection

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission – and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia – is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), “played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia.” Further, according to the Times, in September 1995 National Security Agency analysts contradicted Clinton Administration claims of declining Iranian influence, insisting instead that “Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel remain active throughout Bosnia.”

Likewise, “CIA analysts noted that the Iranian presence was expanding last fall,” with some ostensible cultural and humanitarian activities “known to be fronts” for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s intelligence service, known as VEVAK, the Islamic revolutionary successor to the Shah’s SAVAK. [[LAT, 12/31/96] At a time when there is evidence of increased willingness by pro-Iranian Islamic militants to target American assets abroad – as illustrated by the June 1996 car-bombing at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 American airmen, in which the Iranian government or pro-Iranian terrorist organizations are suspected ["U.S. Focuses Bomb Probe on Iran, Saudi Dissident," Chicago Tribune, 11/4/96] – it is irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent to which its policies have put American personnel in an increasingly vulnerable position while performing an increasingly questionable mission.

Three Key Issues for Examination

This paper will examine the Clinton policy of giving the green light to Iranian arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims, with serious implications for the safety of U.S. troops deployed there. (In addition, RPC will release a general analysis of the SFOR mission and the Clinton Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations to fund it in the near future.) Specifically, the balance of this paper will examine in detail the three issues summarized below:

  1. The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments (page 3): In April 1995, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a “green light” for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

  2. The Militant Islamic Network (page 5): Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, along with thousands of mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Muslim world. Also engaged in the effort were several other Muslim countries (including Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkey) and a number of radical Muslim organizations. For example, the role of one Sudan-based “humanitarian organization,” called the Third World Relief Agency, has been well documented. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

  3. The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime (page 8): Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided green light policy is a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, there is clear evidence that the ruling circle of Izetbegovic’s party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has long been guided by the principles of radical Islam. This Islamist orientation is illustrated by profiles of three important officials, including President Izetbegovic himself; the progressive Islamization of the Bosnian army, including creation of native Bosnian mujahedin units; credible claims that major atrocities against civilians in Sarajevo were staged for propaganda purposes by operatives of the Izetbegovic government; and suppression of enemies, both non-Muslim and Muslim.

The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments

Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia issued reports late last year. (The Senate report, dated November 1996, is unclassified. The House report is classified, with the exception of the final section of conclusions, which was released on October 8, 1996; a declassified version of the full report is expected to be released soon.) The reports, consistent with numerous press accounts, confirm that on April 27, 1994, President Clinton directed Ambassador Galbraith to inform the government of Croatia that he had “no instructions” regarding Croatia’s decision whether or not to permit weapons, primarily from Iran, to be transshipped to Bosnia through Croatia. (The purpose was to facilitate the acquisition of arms by the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo despite the arms embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the U.N. Security Council.) Clinton Administration officials took that course despite their awareness of the source of the weapons and despite the fact that the Croats (who were themselves divided on whether to permit arms deliveries to the Muslims) would take anything short of a U.S. statement that they should not facilitate the flow of Iranian arms to Bosnia as a “green light.”

The green light policy was decided upon and implemented with unusual secrecy, with the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense only informed after the fact. ["U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran," Los Angeles Times, 7/14/96] Among the key conclusions of the House Subcommittee were the following (taken from the unclassified section released on October 8):

  • “The President and the American people were poorly served by the Administration officials who rushed the green light decision without due deliberation. full information and an adequate consideration of the consequences.” (page 202)

  • “The Administration’s efforts to keep even senior US officials from seeing its ‘fingerprints’ on the green light policy led to confusion and disarray within the government.” (page 203)

  • “The Administration repeatedly deceived the American people about its Iranian green light policy.” (page 204)

Clinton, Lake, and Galbraith Responsible

Who is ultimately accountable for the results of his decision – two Clinton Administration officials bear particular responsibility: Ambassador Galbraith and then-NSC Director Anthony Lake, against both of whom the House of Representatives has referred criminal charges to the Justice Department. Mr. Lake, who personally presented the proposal to Bill Clinton for approval, played a central role in preventing the responsible congressional committees from knowing about the Administration’s fateful decision to acquiesce in radical Islamic Iran’s effort to penetrate the European continent through arms shipments and military cooperation with the Bosnian government.” ["'In Lake We Trust'? Confirmation Make-Over Exacerbates Senate Concerns About D.C.I.-Desipate's Candor, Reliability," Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C., 1/8/97] His responsibility for the operation is certain to be a major hurdle in his effort to be confirmed as CIA Director: “The fact that Lake was one of the authors of the duplicitous policy in Bosnia, which is very controversial and which has probably helped strengthen the hand of the Iranians, doesn’t play well,” stated Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby. ["Lake to be asked about donation," Washington Times, 1/2/97]

For his part, Ambassador Galbraith was the key person both in conceiving the policy and in serving as the link between the Clinton Administration and the Croatian government; he also met with Imam Sevko Omerbasic, the top Muslim cleric in Croatia, “who the CIA says was an intermediary for Iran.” ["Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story," The New Republic, 10/28/96; see also LAT 12/23/96] As the House Subcommittee concluded (page 206): “There is evidence that Ambassador Galbraith may have engaged in activities that could be characterized as unauthorized covert action.” The Senate Committee (pages 19 and 20 of the report) was unable to agree on the specific legal issue of whether Galbraith’s actions constituted a “covert action” within the definition of section 503(e) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. Sec. 413(e)), as amended, defined as “an activity or activities … to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

The Militant Islamic Network

The House Subcommittee report also concluded (page 2): “The Administration’s Iranian green light policy gave Iran an unprecedented foothold in Europe and has recklessly endangered American lives and US strategic interests.” Further – ” … The Iranian presence and influence [" ... The Iranian presence and influence [in Bosnia] jumped radically in the months following the green light. Iranian elements infiltrated the Bosnian government and established close ties with the current leadership in Bosnia and the next generation of leaders. Iranian Revolutionary Guards accompanied Iranian weapons into Bosnia and soon were integrated in the Bosnian military structure from top to bottom as well as operating in independent units throughout Bosnia. The Iranian intelligence service [intelligence service [VEVAK] ran wild through the area developing intelligence networks, setting up terrorist support systems, recruiting terrorist ‘sleeper’ agents and agents of influence, and insinuating itself with the Bosnian political leadership to a remarkable degree. The Iranians effectively annexed large portions of the Bosnian security apparatus [known as the Agency for Information and Documentation (AID)] to act as their intelligence and terrorist surrogates. This extended to the point of jointly planning terrorist activities. The Iranian embassy became the largest in Bosnia and its officers were given unparalleled privileges and access at every level of the Bosnian government.” (page 201)

Not Just the Iranians

To understand how the Clinton green light would lead to this degree of Iranian influence, it is necessary to remember that the policy was adopted in the context of extensive and growing radical Islamic activity in Bosnia. That is, the Iranians and other Muslim militants had long been active in Bosnia; the American green light was an important political signal to both Sarajevo and the militants that the United States was unable or unwilling to present an obstacle to those activities – and, to a certain extent, was willing to cooperate with them. In short, the Clinton Administration’s policy of facilitating the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims made it the de facto partner of an ongoing international network of governments and organizations pursuing their own agenda in Bosnia: the promotion of Islamic revolution in Europe. That network involves not only Iran but Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (a key ally of Iran), and Turkey, together with front groups supposedly pursuing humanitarian and cultural activities.

For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. ["How Bosnia's Muslims Dodged Arms Embargo: Relief Agency Brokered Aid From Nations, Radical Groups," Washington Post, 9/22/96; see also "Saudis Funded Weapons For Bosnia, Official Says: $ 300 Million Program Had U.S. 'Stealth Cooperation'," Washington Post, 2/2/96] TWA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Binladen, a wealthy Saudi emigre believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [WP, 9/22/96] (Sheik Rahman, a native of Egypt, is currently in prison in the United States; letter bombs addressed to targets in Washington and London, apparently from Alexandria, Egypt, are believed connected with his case. Binladen was a resident in Khartoum, Sudan, until last year; he is now believed to be in Afghanistan, “where he has issued statements calling for attacks on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf." [WP, 9/22/96])

The Clinton Administration ‘s “Hands-On ” Help

The extent to which Clinton Administration officials, notably Ambassador Galbraith, knowingly or negligently, cooperated with the efforts of such front organizations is unclear. For example, according to one intelligence account seen by an unnamed U.S. official in the Balkans, “Galbraith ‘talked with representatives of Muslim countries on payment for arms that would be sent to Bosnia,’ … [would be sent to Bosnia,' ... [T]he dollar amount mentioned in the report was $ 500 million-$ 800 million. The U.S. official said he also saw subsequent ‘operational reports’ in 1995 on almost weekly arms shipments of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-armor rockets and TOW missiles.” [TNR, 10/28/96] The United States played a disturbingly “hands-on” role, with, according to the Senate report (page 19), U.S. government personnel twice conducting inspections in Croatia of missiles en route to Bosnia. Further — “The U.S. decision to send personnel to Croatia to inspect rockets bound for Bosnia is … subject to varying interpretations. It may have been simply a straightforward effort to determine whether chemical weapons were being shipped into Bosnia. It was certainly, at least in part, an opportunity to examine a rocket in which the United States had some interest. But it may also have been designed to ensure that Croatia would not shut down the pipeline.” (page 21)

The account in The New Republic points sharply to the latter explanation: “Enraged at Iran’s apparent attempt to slip super weapons past Croat monitors, the Croatian defense minister nonetheless sent the missiles on to Bosnia ‘just as Peter [i.e., Ambassador Galbraith] told us to do,’ sources familiar with the episode said.” [episode said." [TNR, 10/28/96] In short, the Clinton Administration’s connection with the various players that made up the arms network seems to have been direct and intimate.

The Mujahedin Threat

In addition to (and working closely with) the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence are members of numerous radical groups known for their anti-Western orientation, along with thousands of volunteer mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Islamic world. From the beginning of the NATO- led deployment, the Clinton Administration has given insufficient weight to military concerns regarding the mujahedin presence in Bosnia as well as the danger they pose to American personnel. Many of the fighters are concentrated in the so-called “green triangle” (the color green symbolizes Islam) centered on the town of Zenica in the American IFOR/SFOR zone but are also found throughout the country.

The Clinton Administration has been willing to accept Sarajevo’s transparently false assurances of the departure of the foreign fighters based on the contention that they have married Bosnian women and have acquired Bosnian citizenship — and thus are no longer “foreign”! or, having left overt military units to join “humanitarian,” “cultural,” or “charitable” organizations, are no longer “fighters.” [See "Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered 'Threat' to U.S. Troops," Washington Post, 11/30/95; "Outsiders Bring Islamic Fervor To the Balkans," New York Times, 9/23/96; "Islamic Alien Fighters Settle in Bosnia," Pittsburgh PostGazette, 9/23/96; "Mujahideen rule Bosnian villages: Threaten NATO forces, non-Muslims," Washington Times, 9/23/96; and Yossef Bodansky, Offensive in the Balkans (November 1995) and Some Call It Peace (August 1996), International Media Corporation, Ltd., London. Bodansky, an analyst with the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, is an internationally recognized authority on Islamic terrorism.] The methods employed to qualify for Bosnian citizenship are themselves problematic: “Islamic militants from Iran and other foreign countries are employing techniques such as forced marriages, kidnappings and the occupation of apartments and houses to remain in Bosnia in violation of the Dayton peace accord and may be a threat to U.S. forces.” ["Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan," Washington Post, 7/8/96]

The threat presented by the mujahedin to IFOR (and now, to SFOR) – contingent only upon the precise time their commanders in Tehran or Sarajevo should choose to activate them has been evident from the beginning of the NATO-led deployment. For example, in February 1996 NATO forces raided a terrorist training camp near the town of Fojnica, taking into custody 11 men (8 Bosnian citizens – two of whom may have been naturalized foreign mujahedin and three Iranian instructors); also seized were explosives “built into small children’s plastic toys, including a car, a helicopter and an ice cream cone,” plus other weapons such as handguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, etc. The Sarajevo government denounced the raid, claiming the facility was an “intelligence service school”; the detainees were released promptly after NATO turned them over to local authorities. ["NATO Captures Terrorist Training Camp, Claims Iranian Involvement," Associated Press, 2/16/96; "Bosnian government denies camp was for terrorists," Reuters, 2/16/96; Bodansky Some Call It Peace, page 56] In May 1996, a previously unknown group called “Bosnian Islamic Jihad” (Jihad means “holy war”,) threatened attacks on NATO troops by suicide bombers, similar to those that had recently been launched in Israel. ["Jihad Threat in Bosnia Alarms NATO," The European, 5/9/96]

Stepping-Stone to Europe

The intended targets of the mujahedin network in Bosnia are not limited to that country but extend to Western Europe. For example, in August 1995, the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro reported that French security services believe that ,Islamic fundamentalists from Algeria have set up a security network across Europe with fighters trained in Afghan gerrilla camps and [[in] southern France while some have been tested in Bosnia.” [[(London) Daily Telegraph, 8/17/95] Also, in April 1996, Beligan security arrested a number of Islamic militants, including two native Bosnians, smuggling weapons to Algerian guerrillas active in France. [in France. [Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, 5/9/96 (No. 287)] Finally, also in April 1996, a meeting of radicals aligned with HizbAllah (“Party of God”), a pro-Iran group based in Lebanon, set plans for stepping up attacks on U.S. assets on all continents; among those participating was an Egyptian, Ayman al- Zawahiri, who “runs the Islamist terrorist operations in Bosnia- Herzegovina from a special headquarters in Sofa, Bulgaria. His forces are already deployed throughout Bosnia, ready to attack US and other I-FOR (NATO Implementation Force) targets.” ["States- Sponsored Terrorism and The Rise of the HizbAllah International," Defense and Foreign Affairs and Strategic Policy, London, 8/31/96 Finally, in December 1996, French and Belgain security arrested several would-be terrorists trained at Iranian-run camps in Bosnia.["Terrorism: The Bosnian Connection," (Paris) L'Express, 12/26/96]

The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime

Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided policy toward Iranian influence in Bosnia is a fundamental misreading of the true nature of the Muslim regime that benefited from the Iran/Bosnia arms policy. “The most dubious of all Bosniac [i.e., Bosnian Muslim] claims pertains to the self-serving commercial that the government hopes to eventually establish a multiethnic liberal democratic society. Such ideals may appeal to a few members of Bosnia’s ruling circles as well as to a generally secular populace, but President Izethbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals.” ["Selling the Bosnia Myth to America: Buyer Beware," Lieutenant Colonel John E. Sray, USA, U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS, October 1995]

The evidence that the leadership of the ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and consequently, the Sarajevo-based government, has long been motivated by the principles of radical Islam is inescapable. The following three profiles are instructive:

Alija Izetbegovic: Alija Izetbegovic, current Bosnian president and head of the SDA, in 1970 authored the radical “Islamic Declaration,” which calls for “the Islamic movement” to start to take power as soon as it can Overturn “the existing non- Muslim government…[Muslim government...[and] build up a new Islamic one,” to destroy non-Islamic institutions (“There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic religion and non-Islamic social institutions’), and to create an international federation of Islamic states. [The Islamic Declaration: A Programme for the Islamization of Muslims and the Muslim Peoples, Sarajevo, in English, 19901 Izetbegovic's radical pro-Iran associations go back decades: "At the center of the Iranian system in Europe is Bosnia-Hercegovina." President, Alija Izetbegovic, . . . who is committed to the establishment Of an Islamic Republic in Bosnia- Hercegovina." ["Iran's European Springboard?", House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, 9/1/92 The Task Force report further describes Izetbegovic's contacts with Iran and Libya in 1991, before the Bosnian war began; he is also noted as a "fundamentalist Muslim" and a member of the "Fedayeen of Islam" organization, an Iran-based radical group dating to the 1930s and which by the late 1960s had recognized the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini (then in exile from the Shah). Following Khomeini's accession to power in 1979, Izetbegovic stepped-up his efforts to establish Islamic power in Bosnia and was jailed by the communists in 1983. Today, he is open and unapologetic about his links to Iran: "Perhaps the most telling detail of the [detail of the [SDA's September 1, 1996] campaign rally … was the presence of the Iranian Ambassador and his Bosnian and Iranian bodyguards, who sat in the shadow of the huge birchwood platform…. As the only foreign diplomat [platform.... As the only foreign diplomat [present], indeed the only foreigner traveling in the President’s [only foreigner traveling in the President's [i.e., Izetbegovic's] heavily guarded motorcade of bulky four-wheel drive jeeps, he lent a silent Islamic imprimatur to the event, one that many American and European supporters of the Bosnian Government are trying hard to ignore or dismiss.” [trying hard to ignore or dismiss." [NYT, 9/2/96] During the summer 1996 election campaign, the Iranians delivered to him, in two suitcases, $ 500,000 in cash; Izetbegovic “is now ‘literally on their [on their [i.e., the Iranians'] payroll,’ according to a classified report based on the CIA’s analysis of the issue.” LAT, 12/31/96. See also “Iran Contributed $ [LAT, 12/31/96. See also "Iran Contributed $ 500,000 to Bosnian President's Election Effort, U.S. Says," New York Times, 1/l/97, and Washington Times, 1/2/97] Adil Zulfikarpasic, a Muslim co- founder of the SDA, broke with Izetbegovic in late 1990 due to the increasingly overt fundamentalist and pro-Iranian direction of the party. [See Milovan Djilas, Bosnjak: Adil Zulfikarpasic, Zurich, 1994]

Hassan (or Hasan) Cengic: Until recently, deputy defense minister (and now cosmetically reassigned to a potentially even more dangerous job in refugee resettlement at the behest of the Clinton Administration), Cengic, a member of a powerful clan headed by his father, Halid Cengic, is an Islamic cleric who has traveled frequently to Tehran and is deeply involved in the arms pipeline. ["Bosnian Officials Involved in Arms Trade Tied to Radical States," Washington Post, 9/22/96] Cengic was identified by Austrian police as a member of TWRA’s supervisory board, “a fact confirmed by its Sudanese director, Elfatih Hassanein, in a 1994 interview with (lazi Husrev Beg, an Islamic affairs magazine. Cengic later became the key Bosnian official involved in setting up a weapons pipeline from Iran…. Cengic … is a longtime associate of Izetbegovic’s. He was one of the co- defendants in Izetbegovic’s 1983 trial for fomenting Muslim nationalism in what was then Yugoslavia. Cengic was given a 10- year prison term, most of which he did not serve. In trial testimony Cengic was said to have been traveling to Iran since 1983.

Cengic lived in Tehran and Istanbul during much of the war, arranging for weapons to be smuggled into Bosnia.” [WP, 9/22/961 According to a Bosnian Croat radio profile: "Hasan's father, Halid Cengic ... is the main logistic expert in the Muslim army. All petrodollar donations from the Islamic world and the procurement of arms and military technology for Muslim units went through him. He made so much money out of this business that he is one of the richest Muslims today. Halid Cengic and his two sons, of whom Hasan has been more in the public spotlight, also control the Islamic wing of the intelligence agency AID [Agency for Information and Documentation].

Well informed sources in Sarajevo claim that only Hasan addresses Izetbegovic with ‘ti’ [second person singular, used as an informal form of address] while all the others address him as ‘Mr. President,”‘ a sign of his extraordinary degree of intimacy with the president. [BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/28/96, "Radio elaborates on Iranian connection of Bosnian deputy defense minister," from Croat Radio Herceg-Bosna, Mostar, in Serbo-Croatian, 10/25/96, bracketed text in original] In late 1996, at the insistence of the Clinton Administration, Hassan Cengic was reassigned to refugee affairs. However, in his new capacity he may present an even greater hazard to NATO forces in Bosnia, in light of past incidents such as the one that took place near the village of Celic in November 1996. At that time, in what NATO officers called part of a pattern of “military operations in disguise,” American and Russian IFOR troops were caught between Muslims and Serbs as the Muslims, some of them armed, attempted to encroach on the cease-fire line established by Dayton; commented a NATO spokesman: “We believe this to be a deliberate, orchestrated and provocative move to circumvent established procedures for the return of refugees.” ["Gunfire Erupts as Muslims Return Home," Washington Post, 11/13/96]

Dzemal Merdan: “The office of Brig. Gen. Dzemal Merdan is an ornate affair, equipped with an elaborately carved wooden gazebo ringed with red velvet couches and slippers for his guests. A sheepskin prayer mat lies in the comer, pointing toward Mecca. The most striking thing in the chamber is a large flag. It is not the flag of Bosnia, but of Iran. Pinned with a button of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s late Islamic leader, the flag occupies pride of place in Merdan’s digs — displayed in the middle of the gazebo for every visitor to see. Next to it hangs another pennant that of the Democratic Action Party, the increasingly nationalist Islamic organization of President Alija Izetbegovic that dominates Bosnia’s Muslim region…. Merdan’s position highlights the American dilemma. As head of the office of training and development of the Bosnian army, he is a key liaison figure in the U.S. [liaison figure in the U.S. [arm and train] program…. But Merdan, Western sources say, also has another job — as liaison with foreign Islamic fighters here since 1992 and promoter of the Islamic faith among Bosnia’s recruits.

Sources identified Merdan as being instrumental in the creation of a brigade of Bosnian soldiers, called the 7th Muslim Brigade, that is heavily influenced by Islam and trained by fighters from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He has also launched a program, these sources say, to build mosques on military training grounds to teach Islam to Bosnian recruits. In addition, he helped establish training camps in Bosnia where Revolutionary Guards carried out their work.” ["Arming the Bosnians: U.S. Program Would Aid Force Increasingly Linked to Iran," Washington Post, 1/26/96, emphasis added] General Merdan is a close associate of both Izetbegovic and Cengic; the central region around Zenica, which was “completely militarized in the first two years of the war” under the control of Merdan’s mujahedin, is “under total control of the Cengic family.” ["Who Rules Bosnia and Which Way," (Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 11/17/96, FBIS translation; Slobodna Bosna is one of the few publications in Muslim-held areas that dares to criticize the policies and personal corruption of the ruling SDA clique.] Merdan’s mujahedin were accused by their erstwhile Croat allies of massacring more than 100 Croats near Zenica in late 1993. ["Bosnian Croats vow to probe war crimes by Moslems," Agence France Presse, 5/12/95]

The Islamization of the Bosnian Army

In cooperation with the foreign Islamic presence, the Izetbegovic regime has revamped its security and military apparatus to reflect its Islamic revolutionary outlook, including the creation of mujahedin units throughout the army; some members of these units have assumed the guise of a shaheed (a “martyr,” the Arabic term commonly used to describe suicide bombers), marked by their white garb, representing a shroud. While these units include foreign fighters naturalized in Bosnia, most of the personnel are now Bosnian Muslims trained and indoctrinated by Iranian and other foreign militants – which also makes it easier for the Clinton Administration to minimize the mujahedin threat, because few of them are “foreigners.”

Prior to 1996, there were three principal mujahedin units in the Bosnian army, the first two of which are headquartered in the American IFOR/SFOR zone: (1) the 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 3rd Corps, headquartered in Zenica; (2) the 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 2nd Corps, headquartered in Travnik (the 2nd Corps is based in Tuzla); and (3) the 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 4th Corps, headquartered in Konjic (in the French zone). [Bodansky, Some Call It Peace, page 401 Particularly ominous, many members of these units have donned the guise of martyrs, indicating their willingness to sacrifice themselves in the cause of Islam. Commenting on an appearance of soldiers from the 7th Liberation Brigade, in Zenica in December 1995, Bodansky writes: "Many of the fighters ... were dressed in white coveralls over their uniforms. Officially, these were 'white winter camouflage,' but the green headbands [bearing Koranic verses] these warriors were wearing left no doubt that these were actually Shaheeds’ shrouds.” [Some Call It Peace, page 12] The same demonstration was staged before the admiring Iranian ambassador and President Izethbegovic in September 1996, when white winter garb could only be symbolic, not functional. [[NYT, 9/2/96] By June 1996, ten more mujahedin brigades had been established, along with numerous smaller “special units’ dedicated to covert and terrorist operations; while foreigners are present in all of these units, most of the soldiers are now native Bosnian Muslims. [native Bosnian Muslims. [Some Call It Peace, pages 42-46]

In addition to these units, there exists another group known as the Handzar (“dagger” or 94 scimitar”) Division, described by Bodansky as a “praetorian guard” for President Izetbegovic. “Up to 6000-strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler. According to LJN officers, surprisingly few of those in charge of the Handzars … seem to speak good Serbo-Croatian. ‘Many of them are Albanian, whether from Kosovo [the Serb province where Albanians are the majority] or from Albania itself.’ They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say LTN sources.” ["Albanians and Afghans fight for the heirs to Bosnia's SS past," (London) Daily Telegraph, 12/29/93, bracketed text in original]

Self-Inflicted Atrocities

Almost since the beginning of the Bosnian war in the spring of 1992, there have been persistent reports — readily found in the European media but little reported in the United States — that civilian deaths in Muslim-held Sarajevo attributed to the Bosnian Serb Army were in some cases actually inflicted by operatives of the Izetbegovic regime in an (ultimately successful) effort to secure American intervention on Sarajevo’s behalf. These allegations include instances of sniping at civilians as well as three major explosions, attributed to Serbian mortar fire, that claimed the lives of dozens of people and, in each case, resulted in the international community’s taking measures against the Muslims’ Serb enemies. (The three explosions were: (1) the May 27, 1992, “breadline massacre.” which was reported to have killed 16 people and which resulted in economic sanctions on the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia; (2) the February 5, 1994, Markale “market massacre,” killing 68 and resulting in selective NATO air strikes and an ultimatum to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons from the area near Sarajevo; and (3) the August 28, 1995 “second market massacre,” killing 37 and resulting in large-scale NATO air strikes, eventually leading to the Dayton agreement and the deployment of IFOR.) When she was asked about such allegations (with respect to the February 1994 explosion) then-U.N. Ambassador and current Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright, in a stunning non sequitur, said: “It’s very hard to believe any country would do this to their own people, and therefore, although we do not exactly know what the facts are, it would seem to us that the Serbs are the ones that probably have a great deal of responsibility.” ["Senior official admits to secret U.N. report on Sarajevo massacre," Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 6/6/96, emphasis added]

The fact that such a contention is difficult to believe does not mean it is not true. Not only did the incidents lead to the result desired by Sarajevo (Western action against the Bosnian Serbs), their staging by the Muslims would be entirely in keeping with the moral outlook of Islamic radicalism, which has long accepted the deaths of innocent (including Muslim) bystanders killed in terrorist actions. According to a noted analyst: “The dictum that the end justifies the means is adopted by all fundamentalist organizations in their strategies for achieving political power and imposing on society their own view of Islam. What is important in every action is its niy ‘yah, its motive. No means need be spared in the service of Islam as long as one takes action with a pure niy’ Yah.” [Amir Taheri, Holy Terror, Bethesda, MD, 1987] With the evidence that the Sarajevo leadership does in fact have a fundamentalist outlook, it is unwarranted to dismiss cavaliery the possibility of Muslim responsibility. Among some of the reports:

Sniping: “French peacekeeping troops in the United Nations unit trying to curtail Bosnian Serb sniping at civilians in Sarajevo have concluded that until mid-June some gunfire also came from Government soldiers deliberately shooting at their own civilians. After what it called a ‘definitive’ investigation, a French marine unit that patrols against snipers said it traced sniper fire to a building normally occupied by Bosnian [i.e., Muslim] soldiers and other security forces. A senior French officer said, ‘We find it almost impossible to believe, but we are sure that it is true.”‘ ["Investigation Concludes Bosnian Government Snipers Shot at Civilians," New York Times, 8/l/951

The 1992 "Breadline Massacre": "United Nations officials and senior Western military officers believe some of the worst killings in Sarajevo, including the massacre of at least 16 people in a bread queue, were carried out by the city's mainly Muslim defenders -- not Serb besiegers -- as a propaganda ploy to win world sympathy and military intervention.... Classified reports to the UN force commander, General Satish Nambiar, concluded ... that Bosnian forces loyal to President Alija Izetbegovic may have detonated a bomb. 'We believe it was a command-detonated explosion, probably in a can,' a UN official said then. 'The large impact which is there now is not necessarily similar or anywhere near as large as we came to expect with a mortar round landing on a paved surface." ["Muslims 'slaughter their own people'," (London) The Independent, 8/22/92] “Our people tell us there were a number of things that didn’t fit. The street had been blocked off just before the incident. Once the crowd was let in and had lined up, the media appeared but kept their distance. The attack took place, and the media were immediately on the scene.” [Major General Lewis MacKenzie, Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo, Vancouver, BC, 1993, pages 193-4; Gen. MacKenzie, a Canadian, had been commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sarajevo.]

The 1994 Markale “Market Massacre”: “French television reported last night that the United Nations investigation into the market-place bombing in Sarajevo two weeks ago had established beyond doubt that the mortar shell that killed 68 people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim lines." [people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim] lines.” ["UN tracks source of fatal shell," (London) The Times, 2/19/94] “For the first time, a senior U.N. official has admitted the existence of a secret U.N. report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo market…. After studying the crater left by the mortar shell and the distribution of shrapnel, the report concluded that the shell was fired from behind Moslem lines.” The report, however, was kept secret; the context of the wire story implies that U.S. Ambasador Albright may have been involved in its suppression. [DPA, 6/6/961 For a fuller discussion of the conflicting claims, see "Anatomy of a massacre," Foreign Policy, 12/22/94, by David Binder; Binder, a veteran New York Times reporter in Yugoslavia, had access to the suppressed report. Bodansky categorically states that the bomb "was actually a special charge designed and built with help from HizbAllah ["Party of God," a Beirut-based pro-Iranian terror group] experts and then most likely dropped from a nearby rooftop onto the crowd of shoppers. Video cameras at the ready recorded this expertly-staged spectacle of gore, while dozens of corpses of Bosnian Muslim troops killed in action (exchanged the day before in a ‘body swap’ with the Serbs) were paraded in front of cameras to raise the casualty counts.” [Offensive in the Balkans, page 62]

The 1995 “Second Market Massacre”: “British ammunition experts serving with the United Nations in Sarajevo have challenged key ‘evidence’ of the Serbian atrocity that triggered the devastating Nato bombing campaign which turned the tide of the Bosnian war.” The Britons’ analysis was confirmed by French analysts but their findings were “dismissed” by “a senior American officer” at U.N. headquarters in Sarajevo. ["Serbs 'not guilty' of massacre: Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian," (London) The Times, 10/i/95 A "crucial U.N. report [(London) The Times, 10/i/95] A “crucial U.N. report [stating Serb responsibility for] the market massacre is a classified secret, but four specialists – a Russian, a Canadian and two Americans – have raised serious doubts about its conclusion, suggesting instead that the mortar was fired not by the Serbs but by Bosnian government forces.” A Canadian officer “added that he and fellow Canadian officers in Bosnia were ‘convinced that the Muslim government dropped both the February 5, 1994, and the August 28, 1995, mortar shells on the Sarajevo markets.”‘ An unidentified U.S. official “contends that the available evidence suggests either ‘the shell was fired at a very low trajectory, which means a range of a few hundred yards – therefore under [a range of a few hundred yards - therefore under [Sarajevo] government control,’ or ‘a mortar shell converted into a bomb was dropped from a nearby roof into the crowd.”‘ ["Bosnia's bombers," The Nation, 10/2/95 ]. At least some high-ranking French and perhaps other Western officials believed the Muslims responsible; after having received that account from government ministers and two generals, French magazine editor Jean Daniel put the question directly to Prime Minister Edouard Balladur: “‘They [i.e., the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ I exclaimed in consternation. ‘Yes,’ confirmed the Prime Minister without hesitation, ‘but at least they have forced NATO to intervene. “‘ ["No more lies about Bosnia," Le Nouvel Observateur, 8/31/95, translated in Chronicles - A Magazine of American Culture, January 1997]

Suppression of Enemies

As might be expected, one manifestation of the radical Islamic orientation of the Izetbegovic government is increasing curtailment of the freedoms of the remaining non-Muslims (Croats and Serbs) in the Muslim-held zone. While there are similar pressures on minorities in the Serb- and Croat-held parts of Bosnia, in the Muslim zone they have a distinct Islamic flavor. For example, during the 1996-1997 Christmas and New Year holiday season, Muslim militants attempted to intimidate not only Muslims but Christians from engaging in what had become common holiday practices, such as gift-giving, putting up Christmas or New Year’s trees, and playing the local Santa Claus figure, Grandfather Frost (Deda Mraz). ["The Holiday, All Wrapped Up; Bosnian Muslims Take Sides Over Santa," Washington Post, 12/26/96] hi general: “Even in Sarajevo itself, always portrayed as the most prominent multi-national community in Bosnia, pressure, both psychological and real, is impelling non-Bosniaks [i.e., non- Muslims] to leave. Some measures are indirect, such as attempts to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [Bosniak] street names. Other measures are deliberate efforts to apply pressure. Examples include various means to make nonBosniaks leave the city. Similar pressures, often with more violent expression and occasionally with overt official participation, are being used throughout Bosnia.” ["Bosnia's Security and U.S. Policy in the Next Phase A Policy Paper, International Research and Exchanges Board, November 1996]

In addition, President Izetbegovic’s party, the SDA, has launched politically-motivated attacks on moderate Muslims both within the SDA and in rival parties. For example, in the summer of 1996 former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic. (a Muslim, and son of the former imam at the main Sarajevo mosque) was set upon and beaten by SDA militants. Silajdzic claimed Izetbegovic himself was behind the attacks. [was behind the attacks. [NYT, 9/2/96] h-fan Mustafic, a Muslim who cofounded the SDA, is a member of the Bosnian parliament and was president of the SDA’s executive council in Srebrenica when it fell to Bosnian Serb forces; he was taken prisoner but later released. Because of several policy disagreements with Izetbegovic and his close associates, Mustafic was shot and seriously wounded in Srebrenica by Izetbegovic loyalists. [[(Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 7/14/96]

Finally, one incident sums up both the ruthlessness of the Sarajevo establishment in dealing with their enemies as well as their international radical links: “A special Bosnian army unit headed by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president’s son, murdered a Bosnian general found shot to death in Belgium last week, a Croatian newspaper reported … citing well-informed sources. The Vjesnik newspaper, controlled by the government, said the assassination of Yusuf Prazina was carried out by five members of a commando unit called ‘Delta’ and headed by Ismet Bajramovic also known as Celo.

The paper said that three members of the Syrian-backed Palestinian movement Saika had Prazina under surveillance for three weeks before one of them, acting as an arms dealer, lured him into a trap in a car park along the main highway between Liege in eastern Belgium and the German border town of Aachen. Prazina, 30, nicknamed Yuka, went missing early last month. He was found Saturday with two bullet holes to the head. ‘The necessary logistical means to carry out the operation were provided by Bakir Izetbegovic, son of Alija Izetbegovic,, who left Sarajevo more than six months ago,’ Vjesnik said. It added that Bakir Izetbegovic ‘often travels between Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, by using Iraqi and Pakistani passports,’ and was in Belgium at the time of the assassination. Hasan Cengic, head of logistics for the army in Bosnia- Hercegovina, was ‘personally involved in the assassination of Yuka Prazina,’ the paper said.” [Yuka Prazina,' the paper said." [Agence France Presse, 1/5/94]

Conclusion

The Clinton Administration’s blunder in giving the green light to the Iranian arms pipeline was based, among other errors, on a gross misreading of the true nature and goals of the Izetbegovic regime in Sarajevo. It calls to mind the similar mistake of the Carter Administration, which in 1979 began lavish aid to the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the hopes that (if the United States were friendly enough) the nine comandantes would turn out to be democrats, not communists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By the time the Reagan Administration finally cut off the dollar spigot in 198 1, the comandantes — or the “nine little Castros,” as they were known locally — had fully entrenched themselves in power.

To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential. In particular, addressing the immediate threat to U.S. troops in Bosnia, exacerbated by the extention of the IFOR/SFOR mission, should be a major priority of the of the 105th Congress.

What Paul Ryan Has and Obama Wants

August 12th, 2012 by David Swanson

According to the Huffington Post, “President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and Democratic political groups have been eager for Romney to pick Ryan, the architect of plans to slash government spending and overhaul entitlement programs that Democrats believe are political losers.”  ABC agrees: “The selection of  Ryan as running mate makes it far more likely that Medicare, Social Security, and dramatic spending cuts will be as central to the campaign conversation this fall as jobs and the economy. Adding some of those famed political third rails into the mix is not just a potential risk Romney is willing to take, it is also clearly a potential risk he felt he had to take.”

So, cutting Medicare and Social Security are unpopular, and Obama benefits from Romney’s risky move in picking a runningmate willing to cut them.  That’s the story.

Now, however, read this from the New York Times: “The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit.”

So Obama too is willing to take the political risk of cutting the popular programs called Medicare and Social Security.  In fact, what Obama wants is not to protect these programs from cuts, but rather to receive appropriate credit from the media corporations for his willingness to cut them.  This, we are about to be told endlessly, is in stark contrast to Romney-Ryan’s willingness to cut Medicare and Social Security.  But the biggest contrast seems to be that the media gives Romney and Ryan the credit that Obama covets.

Oh no, Obama supporters will reply, there’s a big difference.  Romney wants to cut these programs, while Obama is willing to cut them. Romney is evil, while Obama is noble and gracious in his appeasing of evil.  I’m sorry, but won’t the catfood that grandma lives on taste as bitter regardless of whether her income was removed maliciously or accommodatingly?

Oh, but Romney-and-Ryan want to cut more than Obama wants to cut. 

Are you sure?  RR need only triple their demand for Obama to double his.  The longer the debate goes on, the more old people Obama wants to starve to demonstrate his willingness to accommodate.  In fact, exactly how many old people starve — whether Iranians living under sanctions or Americans living under austerity — is hardly relevant.  The important thing is to have gone further toward meeting RR’s demand than RR went toward meeting yours. 

But what about the demand of the majority of the country that Social Security and Medicare be expanded rather than cut?  What about the popularity of lifting the cap on payroll taxes, lowering the retirement age, and expanding Medicare to include us all?  Will that agenda be advanced by cheering for a compromiser over an unapologetic crapitalist?

Of course not.  What would move both of these reprehensible candidates away from deeper cuts to decent programs, and toward deeper cuts in the war machine, the fossil fuel funding, the bankster bailouts, and the “Bush” tax cuts is an independent movement that makes its minimum demand an absolute bar on any cuts to Social Security or Medicare whatsoever. 

If you don’t soon see progressive groups advancing that demand, expect bad times ahead, regardless of who wins the world’s worst reality drama.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Syria facing pressure amid UK, France naval drills

August 12th, 2012 by Kostantin Garbov

The Syrian government forces have occupied central areas of Syria’s northern capital of Aleppo and are now involved in fights against rebels. The operation could last for several days due to high-densityresidences in the city.

Experts believe that these fights mark a kind of a turning point in the confrontation, with the government forces enjoying lots of advantages over the enemy.  

Many observers say that the outcome of the Aleppo battle will determine the winner of the Syrian conflict. Political analyst Taleb Ibrahim shares this opinion.

“Such predictions sound quite reasonable. Rebels and those who support them have developed a strong coalition, featuring hirelings from different countries and members of foreign special forces, mainly from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the US. Some reports say that the total number of rebels now stands at 15,000, not to mention those who joined the opposition after fleeing Jebelal-Zawiyah, Hama, and Damascus. Obviously, Aleppo is now facing a crucial fight which will determine the winner.”

Meanwhile, the crucial fight for Syria seems to be joined by its foreign allies and rivals. Tehran held international talks on Syria which were attended by delegations from 20 countries. Iran looks annoyed with the fact that the West prevented it from using its political potential to settle the Syrian crisis. The talks resulted in Iran confirming its intention to host a meeting between the Syrian government and opposition.

This initiative sounds much like the one recently approved during the international conference in Geneva, when members of the UNSC as well as some European and Arab countries agreed to do their best to force the opposing sides to sit down for talks. The US objected Iran`s presence at the Geneva conference. Tehran, however, looks ready to continue its diplomatic mission in Syria on August 14, when an urgent Islamic summit is scheduled to take place in Mecca. Tehran has called on partners not to miss this opportunity to help Syria begin a national dialogue.

It is worth mentioning that Great Britain and France are going to hold naval drills in the Eastern Mediterranean involving the two nations` fleets. The sides are going to have training exercises, navalmaneuvers, and amphibious landings on Italy`s island of Sardinia, as well as on the territories of Albania, Turkey and Cyprus.

It is evident that Syria is facing a new wave of military and political pressure. Libya was in a similar situation a year ago. In both cases the countries staging the drills claim that they do it to be prepared for possible evacuation of Europeans from the region. Nobody knows how long the drills will last. It means that Great Britain and France believe that it is up to them to decide on the deadline for their warships to stay off Syria depending on how things unfold in the region.

Much depends on Syria’s relations with Turkey, a member of NATO. Already strained, they become more complicated each day. Turkey’s Foreign Minister on Turkey blamed President Bashar Assad for arming the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party, or the P.K.K. Its supporters have been involved in a guerilla war against the Turkish government, including on Iraqi territory. Ankara fears that Syria will turn into a new front where Kurds could continue their fighting for the united Kurdistan. Ankara sent tanks to the Syrian border to guard the territory. Turkey has a vast amount of experience in carrying out cross-border operations against Kurds. If tensions keep on growing nobody can be 100 per cent sure that Turkey won`t decide to repeat such operations, especially in view of the British and French warships staying nearby.

Pro-Israel War Ads on Municipal Buses

August 12th, 2012 by Mark Matthews

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency has a policy against political ads on its buses, but an ad being displayed now comes pretty close. The ad says, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

James Ashburn was surprised when he saw his bus roll up with the ad on the side. “It really struck me as an inappropriate ad to be on a city bus,” he said. Ashburn took a picture of the ad and sent it to ABC7 News via uReport. He thought the ad crossed a line. “No matter what side you’re on, you should not describe your opponent as a savage,” he said.

The pro-Israel ad was purchased by the American Freedom Defense Initiative run by Pamela Geller. “The reason I wanted to run these ads was to counter the anti-Israel ads that were running in various cities across the country in New York, in D.C., on San Francisco BART,” she said. If you don’t remember any anti-Israel ads on BART, that’s understandable. It has been a year since an ad ran calling on the U.S. to cut military aid to Israel. “It was a fallacious and dangerous message and it had to be countered with the truth,” Geller said.

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The truth being in the eye of the beholder, ABC7 News showed the ad to Muslim’s going into Friday prayers at a San Francisco mosque. Adam Kennard called it propaganda. Ted Oriqat pointed out that the ad distorts the meaning of jihad. “Jihad, it doesn’t mean killing people or anything like that,” he said. And Oriqat is correct. Jihad means “struggle” and is frequently used as in “striving towards the way of God.”

The bus message didn’t sit very well with the city system in New York. They refused to run them and Gellen took the transit authority to court. “And interestingly enough, the day that I won, was the day that San Francisco approved my ads that are currently running on your buses,” Geller said.

A coincidence? Not according to Muni’s spokesman Paul Rose. “In this specific case, litigation was brought to this organization and the transit agency lost,” he told ABC7 News. So, the buses with the signs will continue to roll for at least the next four weeks. “If I had my way, they’d be in every city in the United States of America and if I can get the funding, that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” Geller says.

Asked how this particular ad is not considered political in light of Muni’s no-politics policy, Rose struggled to answer. However, the legal action and the fact that the New York MTA has already lost in court have had an impact.

US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey stand accused of state sponsorship of terrorism. UN failure to enforce its own resolutions will resign their legitimacy, necessitate their expedient removal and replacement with multipolar system.

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) currently arming, funding, and commanding entire brigades of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), is designated an Al Qaeda affiliate by the United Nations pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), in addition to being listed by both the US State Department and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf) as a foreign terrorist organization and a proscribed terrorist organization respectively.

Image: From UN.org – LIFG, who is now leading, arming, and funding (via Qatari, Saudi, Turkish, US, and British cash) entire brigades of the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” is clearly listed as an integral part of Al Qaeda, with the UN noting several prominent LIFG terrorists occupying the highest echelons of Al Qaeda’s command structure. These resolutions reflects other reports previously covered, including the US Army West Point Combating Terrorism Center report, “”Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” (summary here). ….

This means that the United States, the UK, NATO, and the Gulf State despots of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are knowingly and willfully funding, arming, and politically backing designated affiliates of Al Qaeda contrary not only to US and British anti-terror legislation, but contrary to numerous UN resolutions as well. Western and Gulf State support of the FSA constitutes state sponsorship of terrorism.

Image: In Libya – starting with the blue flak-jacketed Paul Conroy of the British press, standing to his left with a rifle slung across his chest is LIFG terrorist Mahdi al-Harati, now leading FSA brigades in Syria, to his left wearing green camouflage fatigues is Abdul Hakim Belhaj, LIFG commander who had visited the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, cash, and fighters to FSA militants in November 2011. That same month, some 600 LIFG terrorists from Libya would enter Syria and begin militant operations. Al Qaeda was a creation of Western geopolitical interests, and to this day continues to serve these interests. The “War on Terror” is a fraud.

Should the UN fail to enforce its own resolutions, while playing host to further sanctions and considerations for military intervention against the Syrian government who is in fact resisting an international terrorist organization, it will have entirely resigned its legitimacy and authority as nothing more than a tool of Western corporate-financier interests.  It will also highlight the necessity to expediently remove and replace it – ideally with a system that represents a multipolar balance of global power maintained by sovereign nation-states rather than untenable supranational governance.

The “Free Syrian Army”is Al Qaeda, led, armed, funded by Western-backed LIFG terrorists.

As previously reported (and here), both British and American journalists have clearly identified and documented the presence of foreign fighters with militant extremist ties pouring over the Turkish-Syrian border, most recently in an attempt to overrun the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. CNN, whose Ivan Watson accompanied FSA terrorists over the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo revealed that indeed foreign fighters were amongst the militants. It was admitted that:

Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.

A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

 CNN also added:

On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.

The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.

 

Image: From BBC’s Ian Pannell who also accompanied terrorists across the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo, he reported young men “suspected” of being “Shabiha” being rounded up as the FSA “seeks revenge.” BBC fails categorically to explain how NATO-backed terrorists can “liberate” a city that is admittedly pro-government – but it appears it will be done through terrorism, brutality, mass murder, and intimidation.  .

Foreign Policy magazine in an article titled, “The Syrian Rebels’ Libyan Weapon,” has gone as far as writing a two page profile on Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) commander Mahdi al-Harati and his role in leading the so-called “Free Syrian Army.” Also recently, the Council on Foreign Relations, a premier Fortune 500-funded US think-tank, wrote in their article, “Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria,” that: 

“The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.”

Clearly then, US, British, NATO, and Gulf State aid is being sent to the FSA whose ranks are admittedly filled by Al Qaeda.

Also, to be clear, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is in fact an affiliate of Al Qaeda with its commanders having occupied the highest echelons of Al Qaeda’s command structure and having participated in every combat engagement Al Qaeda has conducted since its inception via US-Saudi cash and arms in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. This was documented meticulously in the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq.”

LIFG is also listed by both the US State Department and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf) as a foreign terrorist organization and a proscribed terrorist organization respectively.

Foreign Policy’s admission of al-Harati’s role in organizing and leading the FSA in Syria, and the inclusion of Libyan terrorists in his brigade are by no means the only role LIFG is playing in the Syrian violence. LIFG commander Abdul Hakim Belhaj had visited the Turkish-Syrian border in late 2011 pledging Libyan arms, cash, and fighters to the FSA – with the nation of Libya itself having already become a NATO-created terrorist safe-haven. 

It is clear that LIFG, and by implication Al Qaeda, is playing a significant role in the violence in Syria, not only undermining the narrative of the unrest being an “indigenous” “pro-democracy uprising,” but also implicating foreign nations who are funding and arming militants as state sponsors of terrorism.

Included amongst these state sponsors of international terrorism are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Hariri faction in northern Lebanon, as well as the NATO-installed government of Libya. This also includes both the United States, who is admittedly providing cash and equipment for the FSA as well as coordinating efforts to arm militants, and now the UK once again with their latest announcement.

A similar scenario unfolded in Libya, where LIFG terrorists were likewise carrying out a campaign of nationwide genocide with NATO providing air support. Similarly, by funding, arming, and coordinating acts of violence with LIFG fighters, NATO, and in particular, France, England, and the United States, were guilty of violating both their own respective anti-terrorism legislation, as well as international provisions against terrorism.

The US Justice Department announced Thursday evening it was ending a one-year criminal investigation and would not file charges against the giant Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs or any of its employees.

In April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a voluminous report on the role of major banks, federal regulators and credit rating firms in the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and ensuing financial crash of September 2008.

Of the report’s 640 pages, 240 pages, or 40 percent, were devoted to a detailed examination of Goldman Sach’s deceptive practices in marketing mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. The report alleged that Goldman bilked clients by selling them mortgage-backed securities without informing them that the bank itself was betting the investments would fail.

The Senate report concluded by listing federal securities laws the committee believed had likely been violated by Goldman and other banks. The committee referred its findings to the Justice Department and federal prosecutors for a criminal investigation of Goldman and its executives. It also called for an investigation into whether Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein had perjured himself in his public testimony before the panel.

In releasing the report, the chairman of the committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, said the panel’s two-year probe had found “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.” He recommended that charges be brought and said, “In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled Congress.”

In its statement released Thursday, the Justice Department said it had conducted “an exhaustive review of the report,” but concluded that “based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report.”

There is not a shred of credibility in this assertion. In the course of its investigation, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations amassed 56 million pages of memos, documents, prospectuses and emails. The section of its report on Goldman Sachs gave chapter and verse, provided dates and named names, to meticulously document how the bank defrauded its clients by selling them mortgage securities while betting against the same investments, without telling them it was doing so.

“We are pleased that this matter is behind us,” a bank spokesman said Thursday of the Justice Department decision.

Also on Thursday, Goldman revealed in a regulatory filing that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had informed the bank it had ended a separate probe of a $1.3 billion subprime mortgage deal stemming from 2006, and had decided to take no action. This was an about-face by the SEC, which had notified the bank last February that it planned to pursue a civil action in relation to the Goldman security.

The SEC decision to drop the investigation comes as regulators are approaching a statute of limitations deadline for mortgage securities issued before 2007.

These two actions are part of an ongoing government cover-up of financial fraud and criminality on a massive scale, both before and after the 2008 crash. They underscore the duplicity behind President Barack Obama’s announcement last January of the formation of a Justice Department task force to investigate banking practices in the mortgage industry.

The Obama administration, like its Republican predecessor, is at the center of a corrupt nexus between Wall Street and all of the branches of the government—the presidency, Congress and the courts. The financial oligarchy operates with impunity, standing above the law as it manipulates and swindles to capture an ever greater share of the social wealth. Every government agency, from the White House on down, is directly or indirectly on the bankers’ payroll.

Four years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, not a single major bank or top bank executive has been prosecuted, even though their crimes have been amply documented and new bank scandals continue to break out on a weekly basis.

Just last month, Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), gave an interview on the occasion of the publication of his new book on the bank bailout in which he complained of the failure to hold to account any of the bankers responsible for the financial disaster. “It was shocking how much control the big banks had over their own bailout,” he said.

He went on to accuse Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, of a cover-up while president of the New York Federal Reserve of the banks’ manipulation of Libor, the most important global benchmark interest rate. “Geithner and other regulators should be held accountable,” he said. “They should be fired across the board… I hope to see people in handcuffs.”

Last March, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman, announced his resignation in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, in which he denounced the bank’s “toxic” culture of avarice and fraud. “It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off,” he wrote.

Goldman Sachs was at the center of a scandal that erupted in late 2009 over the collusion of top federal officials in secretly using public funds as part of the 2008 bailout of American International Group (AIG) to cover billions of dollars in mortgage securities held by the banks and insured by the bankrupt insurance firm. Then-Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman CEO) Henry Paulson, then-New York Federal Reserve President Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke funneled $62 billion to the big Wall Street firms, with Goldman getting the biggest share—$12.9 billion.

Part of the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and the government is the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street. Bank regulators build up their résumés for advancement to seven-figure-salary posts at financial firms by running interference for the banks.

This was exemplified last June in JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s appearance before the House and Senate banking committees. Dimon was summoned to explain the bank’s sudden announcement the previous month of a multi-billion-dollar trading loss, which the bank failed to report in its first quarter financial disclosure.

The Wall Street Journal noted in passing, evidently not considering it worth further comment, that sitting directly behind Dimon was JPMorgan’s general counsel, Stephen Cutler, who had joined the firm after serving as the enforcement chief of the SEC.

In April of 2010, the SEC brought a civil suit against Goldman for fraudulently marketing a subprime mortgage-based collateralized debt obligation (CDO) in 2007 called Abacus. Goldman sold the security without telling its clients that hedge fund billionaire John Paulson had asked the bank to set up the investment so that he could make a killing by betting the underlying mortgages would go bad and the security would lose money. The bank concealed the fact that Paulson had selected the mortgages and was “shorting” the CDO.

Rather than bring the case to trial, the SEC settled with the bank in July 2010, agreeing to a sweetheart deal in which the bank admitted no wrongdoing and paid a relatively minor fine of $550 million. The SEC has similarly settled cases with Countrywide Financial, the subprime giant that was saved from collapse by being sold to Bank of America, and major banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup.

The Obama administration and federal regulators have avoided public trials of the banks because the ruling class senses they would rapidly expose the criminality of the entire system. It would mean putting the capitalist system itself on trial.

The War on Iran is Already Underway?

August 11th, 2012 by Kourosh Ziabari

Economic sanctions, psychological warfare, media propaganda, threats and assassinations; what other sort of evidence one may need to believe that the United States, Israel and their European allies have already started their much liked war against Iran and that this unjustifiable war is taking its toll on the innocent, ordinary Iranian citizens?

They say that they have a problem with Iran’s nuclear program; that Iran’s nuclear activities aren’t transparent; that they fear Iran may one day develop nuclear weapons; that Iran may some day drop atomic bombs on Israel and that Iran poses a threat to global peace and security.

But this is not really the case. Perhaps the American journalist and radio host, Mark Glenn, has described the truth in the most comprehensible and sound way: “if Iran had no nuclear program, these countries would make the claim that Iran is financing international terrorism through the export and sale of Pistachio nuts. What is at issue here is that Iran refuses to be a slave to the 2-headed beast of Israeli, western financial and political interests.”

Washington’s animosity toward Tehran is nothing new or unprecedented, nor is it related to Iran’s nuclear program. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 dethroned the U.S.-backed monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the U.S. politicians began to carry a chip on their shoulder and started disposing of Iran with hostility and enmity.

With the victory of Iran’s popular revolution led by the charismatic leader Imam Khomeini who strongly opposed the American imperialism and militarism, the sanctions against Iran began to take effect. Under President Carter, the U.S. imposed a set of sanctions on Iran’s oil sector and then blocked USD 12 billion of Iranian government’s assets in Washington. After the deadly 1983 Beirut barracks bombing in which 241 American marines were killed, the U.S. government renewed its sanctions, this time with the order of Ronald Reagan. Reagan administration declared Iran a sponsor of international terrorism and called on the World Bank to stop giving loans to Iran. The deadly attack on the U.S. peacekeeping forces in Beirut for which the White House blamed Iran turned out to be an Israeli false flag operation, as revealed by the former Mossad executive Victor Ostrovsky in a famous 1990 book titled ” By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer.”

The Clinton administration toughened the sanctions and in 1996, the Israel-dominated Congress unanimously passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) which penalized the foreign companies and firms which invested in Iran’s oil sector. On September 30, 2006 the act was renamed to Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) as it was no longer applied to Libya. George W. Bush administration was similarly antagonistic toward Iran and his administration adopted several rounds of sanctions against Iran’s oil, gas, insurance, agriculture and aviation industries. He also signed into law the Iran Freedom and Support Act on September 30, 2006 which allocated USD 10 million to anti-Iranian terrorist groups.

Barack Obama who came to power with the flaunting and pompous promise of change was no better than his predecessors. Instead of taking up détente and reconciliation with Iran so as to find a sustainable solution to end the nuclear standoff, he assumed an aggressive position, intensified the sanctions, banned transactions with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and even created hurdles for Iran to receive the payments for its oil exports.

Existing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry had been expanded “by making sanctionable the purchase or acquisition of Iranian petrochemical products”, Obama said in a statement.

Measures would be taken against firms that have dealings with the National Iranian Oil Company and the Naftiran Inter-trade Company or that help Iran buy U.S. dollars or precious metals, he added.

But the sanctions are not the only means the U.S., Israel and the EU have resorted to in order to bring Iran to its knees and undermine its position as a regional superpower.

The Obama administration has vehemently pursued a policy of running covert ops in Iran through training, funding and assisting terrorists of anti-Iranian cults such as MKO and Jundallah with the objective of spreading fear and terror in the country, sabotaging its security and also impeding its nuclear program.

Since 2010, five scientists associated with Iran’s nuclear program were assassinated, and the footsteps of CIA, Mossad and MKO can be traced in all the four killings.

On August 5, Iran’s television aired confessions of several people involved in the killing of the country’s nuclear scientists. The people who were introduced in a documentary titled “Terror Club” confessed that they received several weeks of military training as well as financial assistance from Israel to carry out their terrorist operations in Iran.

On May 15, 2012, Majid Jamali Fashi, a Mossad spy and terrorist who pleaded guilty and confessed to the killing of Dr. Masoud Alimohammadi, Iran’s quantum field theorist and elementary-particle physicist was executed after describing in details all the stages of his involvement with Mossad, traveling to Israel through a neighboring country and carrying out his malicious operation. According to the Israeli paper Haaretz, Western intelligence confirmed that the detailed confession of Majid Jamali Fashi was genuine.

Damaging Iran’s nuclear program through spreading sophisticated computer worms and malwares such as Stuxnet was another plot by the United States and Israel aimed at deliver a blow to Iran. In the late September, it was reported that Ralph Langer, a renowned expert on industrial systems security had admitted that the Stuxnet worm was coded to sabotage computers operating on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facilities.

All of these acts of aggression and belligerence are taking place while an intensive media operation against Iran is on track and the mainstream media, affiliated with AIPAC and other hawkish, pro-Israeli think tanks in the United States are mischievously portraying a biased, black and disappointing image of Iran to their people with the aim of laying the groundwork for a possible military invasion of Iran.

The war against Iran, however, seems to be already on the go. A soaring media operation, frequent war threats uttered by insane hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, assassinations and acts of sabotage all testify that Iran is the target of an all-out war which just has not had a military representation. What can be said for sure is that Iran will not throw the towel in the face of the hostilities and has done a great job withstanding the lethal pressures. This is what makes Iran a promising model for the nations which want to learn how to stand on their own feet.

Shocked by the latest poll numbers showing that he trails Obama by 7 points and stunned by the fact that the American people demand to see his tax returns for multiple zero tax years, Mitt Romney needed to come up with something fast to distract the incessant media barrage besieging his faltering campaign for president.

After a devastating trip abroad that led to a Niagara of negative ink about a lengthy concatenation of diplomatic blunders from London to Jerusalem to Poland, Romney has tried just about everything his puny mind can conceive to distract the public from his business record, his taxes and Bain Capital.

 However, the month of August presented Romney with two tactical opportunities to evade (at least momentarily) the insatiable onslaught of the probing media.

 First and foremost, Romney had the option of naming his Vice Presidential running mate.  Secondly, Romney will be featured as the Guest of Honor at what promises to be one of the most dreadful spectacles the world has ever seen:  the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida later this month.  With Romney’s luck, this convention will be tantamount to a public lynching, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

To erect a shield to provide a partial screen of defense from the ceaseless media attacks bombarding him and his frazzled staff, Romney finally selected a running mate whose economic views uncannily mirror his own for the privatization of government.  In order to re-enforce his core philosophy of the divine right of corporate and plutocratic financial supremacy, Romney has turned to Paul Ryan of Wisconsin’s 1st District that encompasses the swish metropolitan areas of Kenosha, Racine, Muskego and the Congressman’s hometown of Janesville.

On the 29th of January 1970, Paul Davis Ryan was born the youngest of four children of his Irish-German Roman Catholic parents.  In his youth, Ryan enjoyed the out-of-doors activities of skiing, hiking and camping in the Colorado Rockies.  While attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Ryan worked as a counselor at a summer camp until he landed the prestigious position as a “Hotdogger” for the Oscar Mayer Wiener Company, a job that permitted him to wheel around Ohio and Wisconsin in the now world famous Wienermobile promoting the sales of hot dogs, bacon and over twenty-five kinds of ‘lunchable’ meats including:  bologna (aka:  “baloney”).

When Ryan was not driving the Wienermobile and pushing loads of baloney, he majored in Economics and Political Science.  After driving the Wienermobile and serving up mountainous tons of baloney, Ryan became a prominent member of the Delta Tau Delta social fraternity.

After his graduation, Ryan was encouraged by his mother to accept a job as an economic analyst with former US Senator Bob Kasten.  In that capacity, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington.

When Russ Feingold defeated Kasten, Ryan moved over to the staff of a right-wing  Republican think tank branded as ‘Empower America’ where he served as a volunteer speechwriter for Congressman Jack Kemp and two former Reagan officials:  UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick who defended the rape, torture and murder of three Catholic nuns by the government of El Salvador and Education Secretary William Bennett, who would be publicly defiled as a gambling addict and racial profiler when he said on his talk show that the abortion of all African-American babies would cause the crime-rate to go down.

After serving as a principal speechwriter for Kemp during his ill-fated run for the Vice-Presidency in 1996, Ryan felt inspired and ran for Congress in 1998.

In right-wing circles it is well known that Ryan is a longstanding member of the ultra-conservative Atlas Society based at the Objectivist Center.  Self-described as a splinter movement that broke away from the Ayn Rand Institute over disputes about the core values of the objectivist movement, Ryan is a slavish devotee of the radical ideologue Ayn Rand.  Addressing a memorial celebration of Rand in 2005, Ryan stated:  “The reason that I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

In Congress, Ryan is the leading ideologue of the objectivist clique that only remains viable within the radical right-wing of the Republican Party/Tea Party.  In 1999, Ryan voted for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a keystone of depression-era legislation that prevented large-scale financial speculation and limited financial activities between commercial banks and security firms.  Many economists and financial analysts have argued that the repeal of Glass-Steagall initiated the process that led to financial instability and resulted in the Meltdown of 2008 as well as the ensuing Bush Recession.

In Congress, Ryan is most noted for his work on the federal budget.  Over the past three years, Ryan has proposed a smorgasbord of ultra-conservative economic and reactionary tax reform.  For example, Ryan proposed a top US tax rate of 25%; a Consumption-Value Added Tax (VAT) of 8.5% and a voucher system for Medicare that would require beneficiaries to buy their own insurance from 2021 leaving them partially uninsured.  A creative Randian economist, Ryan has proposed opt-outs for taxpayers who could simply pay a flat tax rate of 10% up to $100,000 and 25% above that figure.

In 2010, Ryan introduced a more dramatic plan for long-term deficit reduction that would reduce tax rates across the board while eliminating income tax on capital gains, dividends and interest.  At his most reactionary extremes, Ryan proposes to abolish the corporate income tax and the estate tax as well as the privatization of Social Security and Medicare that would convert the programs into vast private corporations.

The Princeton economist Paul Krugman criticized Ryan’s tax proposals arguing that they would lead to massive losses of revenues while increasing taxes on the 95% of US taxpayers on the bottom of the economic ladder while reducing them for the 5% at the top.

This morning while introducing Ryan to the media as his Vice Presidential running mate, Romney made an ominous mis-statement and introduced the Congressman as, “The Next President of the United States.”

It should be remembered that while Romney visited Poland, he received a warm endorsement from Lech Walesa, an ultra-conservative Roman Catholic who has worked openly with Opus Dei for decades.  Ryan will help strengthen Romney’s appeal to the right-wingers of the Roman Catholic Church.  Ryan is a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church, named for the saint who was venerated for miracles performed in his priestly life including supernatural knowledge of the past and future and healing sick children.

While it may seem extremely bizarre, but Ryan and his predecessor, Sarah Palin, who was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 2008, are very similar in one peculiar respect:  Palin hunts moose, dresses their carcasses and grinds their flesh into “Mooseburgers” while Ryan is an avid deer hunter who makes his own deer-based bratwurst and Polish sausage, aka locally in Wisconsin as “deer baloney.”

One imagines that Ryan may revive his association with the Wienermobile by installing a large set of antlers on the vehicle and touring the heartlands of America alongside his running mate, Mitt Romney.

The Role of Private Military and Security Companies in Modern Warfare

August 11th, 2012 by Jose L. Gómez del Prado

Private military and security companies (PMSC) have been involved in grave human rights violations that have attracted international attention and debate over the legitimacy of PMSCs, the norms under which they should operate, and how to monitor their activities. These companies pose a real problem to human rights, to the foundations of the democratic modern state, and to the rule of law[1].
 
The widespread outsourcing of military and security functions has been a major phenomenon in recent years[2].The new industry that has developed is transnational in nature and has grown very rapidly with the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the U.S.S.R., military and security functions, previously considered inherently state functions, have been increasingly contracted out to the private sector. This important change with regard to the monopoly on the legitimate use of force[3] has been primarily implemented in western countries in the context of the anarchical globalization of the world economy. The private military and security industry has taken advantage of the reduction of national armies and the globalization of the economy to find a profitable niche and grow it into a powerful global phenomenon estimated at over $100 billion yearly[4].It has benefitted from the insecurity and fear that followed the terrorist attacks of the early 2000s and within the context of countering terrorism reinvigorated by “the global war on terror”.

The availability of experienced security and military personnel for hire has enabled governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to circumvent political constraints on the use of force[5]. PMSCs operate in zones of low-intensity armed conflict such as Afghanistan– and post conflict environments-such as Iraq and Colombia. These companies also provide services for extractive industries and multinational corporations operating in unstable environments[6].
 
The new export security industry expanded primarily, though not exclusively, in Western Europe and North America. The growth has been particularly pronounced in the United States and United Kingdom, where 70 percent of the companies of this new security industry are registered[7]. Parallel to this privatization of warfare, there has also been increased demand for private security at the international level and for protection of property at the domestic level in states all over the world. In many countries, the number of private security personnel is greater than the number of active state police[8].

A. INVOLVEMENT OF PMSCs IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

The use of PMSC as a new instrument of foreign policy, particularly of the USA, may be due to a number of factors such as: (a) the lack of human resources in the armed forces; (b) that they are considered to be more cost efficient; (c) nepotism and/or good contacts with the Administration; (d) to avoid responsibility for the acts committed by PMSC; (e) to avoid the control of democratic institutions; (f) to intervene in the internal affairs of a country. The use of PMSC as a foreign policy tool, however, not only raises a number of dangers but indicates that the State is abdicating to the private sector an essential responsibility.
 
Heavily armed and operating in situations of conflict, private security companies have been functioning in the absence of national regulatory frameworks to vet the recruitment of their employees, to control their weapons and to monitor their activities. There has also been opacity in their behavior and a lack of transparency which companies have manage to establish through the creation of numerous layers of subsidiaries or subcontracts in diverse countries[9].

The lack of accountability for human right violations that they have committed has been partly due to the difficulties in the application of domestic laws to PMSC actuating in foreign countries as well as to the difficulties in carrying out investigations in failed states. It has also been partly due to the difficulties in establishing responsibilities. Indeed, if the direct responsibility of the State for human rights violations can easily be proved when one of its agents commits a human right abuse, it is much more difficult to establish the link when it is a contracted PMSC or one of its employees. Moreover under international law for human right abuses only the responsibility of natural persons, not legal person, are recognized. To these circumstances also has contributed the immunity granted by governments to PMSC operating in a number of situations[10].

Despite the argument of home or contracting states from which PMSCs operate that they cannot be responsible for human rights violations committed by PMSC employees outside their territories and national jurisdictions, home states[11] should be able to regulate PMSCs at the source because they have the effective territorial control over different activities of PMSCs. Their territorial competence and control should make it possible for the state where PMSCs have their business headquarters or operational seat to discharge its due diligence principle duty. Under International Human Rights Law, states have the responsibility “to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused” by acts of private military companies or their staff that impair human rights[12].”
 
All these factors have provided a propitious terrain where the human rights of the civilian population have been violated. An additional fact important to bear in mind is that PMSC, in their search for profit, often neglect security putting their employees in dangerous or vulnerable situations which may have disastrous consequences, such as the 2004 Fallujah incident in which four Blackwater private contractors were killed allegedly due to a lack of safety precautions that Blackwater was supposed to provide. That particular incident changed the whole course of the war in Iraq. That incident may be considered as the turning point in the occupation of Iraq. It led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city and a successful recapture operation of Fallujah in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury, which resulted in the death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 America troops were killed, and 560 wounded.
 
PMSCs, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, have been operating in gray areas without any control or lines of command threatening the lives and security of the civilian population. The following examples, which are not exhaustive, may serve to illustrate the impact of PMSC in the enjoyment of human rights.

Afghanistan

29 June 2009, a number of civilian casualties occurred as a result of a shooting incident between an Afghan private entity operating as a security company (Afghan Special Guards) and the Afghan National Police inside the Attorney General’s Office in Kandahar[13].

5 May 2009, two Xe (formerly Blackwater) private security contractors working for the U.S. Army were involved in an incident in Kabul, in which one Afghan civilian was killed and three others injured according to a US military inquest in Kabul.[14] “While stopped for a car accident, the contractors were approached by a vehicle in a manner they felt threatening. The contractors were trainers hired by Paravant LLC, a subsidiary of Xe[15]. There were allegations that they were issued AK-47s despite guidelines from the U.S. Department of Defense specifically indicating that the Xe personnel would not be armed[16]. A US Senate inquiry found that the Blackwater subsidiary Paravant illegally signed out 500 machine guns from a US military store[17].
 
Iraq 9 October 2007 In central Baghdad, two Armenian women were shot dead when their car came too close to a convoy protected by Unity Resources Group (URG) contractors.[18] URG employees opened fire as they felt threatened that the women’s car approached the convoy at high speed and was not going to stop.[19].

The same company (URG) was also involved in the March 2006 shooting of a 72-year-old Australian professor[20]. This 25-year resident of Baghdad, who drove through the city every day, allegedly accelerated his vehicle as he approached the guards and did not pay attention to warnings to stop[21]

According to a U.S. Congressional memorandum, between 2005 and 2007 Blackwater guards were involved in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq. [22] The document raises serious questions about how State Department officials responded to reports of Blackwater killings of Iraqi civilians. For example, in the case of a shooting of a guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi in December 2006 by a Blackwater contractor, the State Department allowed Blackwater to transport the contractor out of Iraq within 36 hours of the shooting and suggested a $15,000 fine.[23] A similar approach was taken in other cases involving the shooting of innocent Iraqi civilians. Iraq continues to grapple with the legal immunity granted to private security contractors under Order 17 issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Such immunity has prevented prosecutions in Iraqi courts. Nor have prosecutions in the home countries of such companies been successful.

The lack of accountability for violations committed between 2003 and 2009 persists and the victims of such violations and their families are still waiting for justice.[24]The lack of vetting procedures by PMSCs is best illustrated by the case of Danny Fitzsimons, a former British Army paratrooper who fatally shot two colleagues at the U.K. security company ArmorGroup (now part of G4S) and injured an Iraqi security guard in Baghdad. Fitzsimons had been discharged from the British Army in Iraq.  Despite having been diagnosed by several psychiatrics as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Fitzsimons was contracted without any vetting procedure. In 2009, 36 hours after arriving in Baghdad, he shot dead two of his colleagues- a British and an Australian- and injured an Iraqi guard. In February 2011, he was tried in Iraq and condemned to 20 years in prison[25].

The most egregious known human rights violation by a PMSC is the shooting massacre perpetrated on 16 September 2007 by Blackwater personnel in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Seventeen people were killed and twenty others were severely injured[26]. Blackwater [27] has also been accused of fabricating documents to acquire unauthorized weapons, defrauding the USA government, and tolerating the widespread use of steroids and cocaine by its personnel.[28]  Only after the implementation of a new Status of Forces Agreement in January 2009 and the cancellation of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17—which had granted immunity to contractors—was the government of Iraq able to deny Blackwater’s application for an operating license. However, the company still had a contract with the U.S. State Department, and some Blackwater personnel were working in Iraq at least until September 2009[29].

Two United-States-based corporations, CACI International and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), have allegedly been involved in torturing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.[30] The two companies, contracted by the U.S. Government, were responsible for interrogation and translation services in several facilities in Iraq. The Center for Constitutional Rights and a team of lawyers brought claims against the two companies under the Alien Tort Claims Act in 2004 on behalf of over 250 plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claimed they were “subjected to rape and threats of rape and other forms of sexual assault; electric shocks; repeated beatings, including beatings with chains, boots and other objects; prolonged hanging from limbs; forced nudity; hooding; isolated detention; being urinated on and otherwise humiliated; and being prevented from praying and otherwise abiding by their religious practices.”

Rendition flights

A number of reports have indicated that private security guards have played a central role in some of the most sensitive activities of the CIA. These activities include arbitrary detention and clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, involvement in CIA rendition flights, and joint covert operations[31]. Employees of PMSCs have been involved in the transport of detainees from pick-up points (such as Tuzla, Islamabad, and Skopje); in rendition flights to drop-off points (such as Cairo, Rabat, Bucharest, Amman, and Guantanamo); and in building, equipping, and staffing the CIA’s “black sites.[32]” In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc., a subsidiary company of Boeing, on behalf of five persons who had been kidnapped by the CIA and held in overseas secret prisons maintained by the United States[33]. Allegedly, Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support.The US government had petitioned to dismiss the case under the state secrets privilege The plaintiffs petitioned the US Supreme Court on 7 December 2010 asking it to hear an appeal of the dismissal. In May 2011 the Supreme Court declined to hear the plaintiffs appeal[34].
Ecuador

Three Ecuadorian provinces and 3,266 plaintiffs have initiated lawsuits against DynCorp—a private company contracted by the U.S. State Department—concerning grave health problems [35]as a consequence of the spraying of narcotic plants along the Colombian and Ecuadorian border under Plan Colombia[36].
 
Equatorial Guinea

The 2004 attempted coup d’état perpetrated in Equatorial Guinea is a clear example of the link between mercenaries and PMSCs and violation of the sovereignty of States.[37] In this particular case, the mercenaries involved were mostly former directors and personnel of Executive Outcomes, a PMSC that had become famous for its operations in Angola and Sierra Leone.[38] The team of mercenaries also included two employees of a PMSC, Meteoric Tactical Systems, who at the time were providing security to diplomats of western embassies in Baghdad, including the Ambassador of Switzerland.[39] It also included a security guard who previously worked for the PMSC Steele Foundation, which also provided protection to President Aristide of Haiti[40]. A number of people involved in the attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea were arrested in Zimbabwe, others in Equatorial Guinea itself. The coup was intended to overthrow the government and hijack rich oil resources.
 
B. ARE PMSCs THE NEW PRIVATE PROVIDERS OF THE USE OF FORCE, THE MERCENARIES OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?
 
PMSCs are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force, such as corsairs, privateers, and mercenaries. PMSCs are non-state entities operating in extremely blurred situations, where the lines between what is allowed and what is not are difficult to identify.[41] The new security industry moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations, recruiting former military as civilians to carry out what has been labeled as “passive or defensive security”.
 
During the French Revolution, Swiss “private soldiers were also exercising passive security to protect Louis XVI and his family in Versailles. They were mercenaries. Today in Iraq, legally registered employees of private military and security companies protect President Kharzai of Afghanistan, U.S. generals, and many other political or diplomatic figures.
 
Mercenaries have existed throughout history. They have been a constant in all wars, but almost disappeared for nearly one hundred years after privateers were outlawed in the nineteenth century[42], only to reappear in the 1960s during the decolonization period, which took place under the United Nations in Africa and Asia. To a certain extent PMSCs constitute the new corsairs.
 
The definition of “mercenary” is contained in two universal instruments and one regional convention.[43]. The universal instruments are Additional Protocol I (Article 47) to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, within the context of ius in bello, and the 1989 International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, adopted by the United Nations within the context of ius ad bellum. Under International Humanitarian Law, mercenaries are not given the protection of combatants but are not outlawed. Under the UN convention, mercenaries are criminalized[44].
 
According to the UN Definition of Aggression[45], one of the obligations of Member States is to prohibit the use of its territory to recruit, train and send “armed bands, groups, irregulars, or mercenaries” abroad to be used in combat operations directed against the “sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of another State.” PMSC personnel are one of the categories covered by the definition.[46] The term “political independence of another State” is a direct reference to the right of self-determination stipulated in Article 1 common to the International Human Rights Covenants.
 
According to the definition under Article 47 (2) of Additional Protocol I, to be considered a mercenary the person has to fulfill the six conditions set out in that instrument. A mercenary (a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict; (b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities; (c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party; (d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict; (e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and (f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces[47].
 
The definition of a mercenary under the UN Convention covers all the criteria of Additional Protocol I with the exception of “does in fact take a direct part in the hostilities.” In addition, the UN Convention includes “any other situation” in which a non-national is recruited to take part “in a concerted act of violence aimed at (i) overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State, or (ii) undermining the territorial integrity of a State.” Whereas Additional Protocol I only applies to international armed conflicts, the UN Convention covers both international and non-international armed conflicts. Furthermore, the UN Convention makes the recruitment, use, financing or training of mercenaries an offense under international law and implies that any foreigner taking part in any violent activity aimed at provoking a change of regime through a coup d’état during peacetime may be considered a mercenary.
 
A number of the activities fulfilled by PMSC[48] may meet the requirements contained in the international instruments regarding mercenaries. Also, the recruitment of former militaries and law enforcement personnel as “security guards who would be ’exposed to great risks [...] including but not limited to the threats inherent in a war situation,” included as a clause in a number of contracts that the private security contractors signed, is extremely close to the element of the definition that specifies that the mercenary must be specifically recruited “in order to fight in an armed conflict.” [49] Even if they do not conduct offensive operations but have been recruited to protect military objectives, “security guards” may be targeted by the enemy who consider them as being recruited in an armed conflict. A number of activities conducted by PMSC employees may be considered direct participation in hostilities, such as the involvement of Blackwater employees in Najaf, Iraq, on 4 April 2004.
 
According to the interpretation of some legal experts of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the majority of PMSC employees operating in international armed conflict could be considered civilians. Only a small number are seen as combatants and mercenaries, who would lose protection under International Humanitarian Law when taking “direct part in hostilities.” The UN Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries does not require the direct participation of “security guards” in hostilities.[50].

Even though the main motivation of many of the private contractors engaged by PMSCs may be private gain, it is extremely difficult to prove this in court. Moreover, for many private guards, the motivation is a mixture of monetary gain, the “excitement and adrenaline” of adventure, and the possibility to put in practice all of their training, as. PMSCs usually hire personnel who have been highly trained in dangerous and counterinsurgency operations such as members of US SEALs, or SWCC, the British SAS or the French Legion[51].
 
The criteria of nationality and residence could not be applied to contractors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other countries which have been involved in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It could be applied to nationals of countries such as Peru, Honduras, and Chile that are not parties to the conflict. In the case of Chile, it is interesting to point out that while the government of Chile voted against the UN Security Council resolution to intervene in Iraq Chilean citizens were contracted by PMSCs to provide “passive protection” in Iraq. The requirement that a mercenary must not be a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict could easily be circumvented by a given state that utilizes PMSCs by incorporating these employees into its own armed forces.
 
Each of the elements taken individually poses problems to classify PMSCs as mercenaries. For PMSCs and their employees to be considered mercenaries, all the requirements in the definition of the international instruments must be cumulatively met. PMSCs are commercial firms legally registered in their home countries, a large number of which have obtained contracts from governments (the Pentagon and the State Department in the United States).
 
In addition, only 32 states have ratified the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries and most of the governments which contract PMSC are not parties to the Convention.
 
All these difficulties to apply the 1989 International Convention against mercenaries indicate that this international instrument has become obsolete to deal with the new phenomenon of PMSCs.
 
C. THE NEED FOR INTERNATIONAL REGULATION
 
Self-Regulation: The Swiss Initiative, the Montreux Document of 2008, and the International Code of Conduct of 2010.
 
In 2006, in order to address the demand for a clarification of legal obligations under International Humanitarian and International Human Rights Law with regard to PMSCs, the government of Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross launched what has been known as the Swiss Initiative, an international consultation process with main stakeholders: governments, the new industry of PMSCs, and civil society.[52] The Swiss Initiative has been supported domestically and by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, where most of the industry (70 percent) and the lobbyists for the new security industry are located: the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) and the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC).[53]
 
On 17 September 2008, the process led to a common understanding by 17 states known as the Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good Practices for States Related to Operations of Private Military and Security Companies during Armed Conflict.[54] This set out what the signatories view as the relevant IHL and IHRL applicable to PMSCs as well as a set of good practices for them. The second phase of the Swiss Initiative is the International Code of Conduct for PMSCs, aimed at setting high standards for the industry worldwide and supporting the establishment of a voluntary enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance with such standards. This is, however, still in the process of elaboration.
 
The United Nations and the proposed draft convention to regulate and monitor PMSCs
 
In 2005, the United Nations established the Working Group on the use of mercenaries “To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly the right of peoples to self determination, and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities”. [55]
 
In the course of five years, the UN Working Group on Mercenaries has found that there is a regulatory legal vacuum covering the activities of PMSCs. It has also discovered a lack of common standards for the registration and licensing of these companies, as well as for the vetting and training of their staff and the safekeeping of weapons. While a number of rules of IHL and IHRL could apply to states in their relations with PMSCs, the Working Group has observed that there are challenges to the application of domestic laws, in particular for international PMSCs operating in a foreign state, and difficulties in conducting investigations in conflict zones. The effect of this situation is that PMSCs are rarely held accountable for violations of human rights.
 
The military and security services provided by PMSCs are highly specific and dangerous. They should not be considered ordinary commercial commodities left to the self-regulation of the market and internal controls.  PMSCs have succeeded in creating diffuse responsibility and a lack of accountability through a labyrinth of contractual and insurance layers and shells.
 
Moreover, one should not forget that legal responsibilities of states to take appropriate measures to prevent, investigate, punish, and provide effective remedies for relevant misconduct of PMSCs and their personnel fully remain even if states have chosen to contract out certain security functions.
 
The Working Group has conducted a series of consultations with governments of the five geopolitical regions of the world on the impact of PMSC activities on the enjoyment of human rights, as well as on regulating and monitoring the activities of private military and security companies.
 
It has also organized a series of consultations with a wide range of stakeholders on the content and scope of a possible draft convention. An initial draft text of the convention was circulated to some 250 experts, academics, and NGOs to collect their input on the contents and scope of the Convention. The Working Group received some 45 written submissions comprising a total of over 400 comments.
 
In 2010 the Working Group recommended to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly principles, main elements, and text for a possible International Convention on the Regulation, Oversight and Monitoring of Private Military and Security Companies.[56] Both documents take into consideration the comments received from these stakeholders and feedback from member states.
 
The proposed binding international instrument aims to reaffirm and strengthen state responsibility for the monopoly on the legitimate use of force, identify inherent state functions that cannot be outsourced to PMSCs under any circumstances, and regulate the use of force and firearms by PMSCs under international human rights standards. It also envisages the development of a national regime of licensing, regulation, and oversight of the activities of PMSCs and their subcontractors. The proposed convention identifies inherent state functions that cannot be outsourced, making a bright line between functions that are permitted, but should be regulated, and functions that belong to the state and cannot be privatized.
 
The new instrument would establish an international register of PMSCs based on information provided by states. State parties would be compelled to provide data annually for the register on imports and exports of military and security services of PMSCs and standardized information on PMSCs registered in and licensed by the state party. This obligation to share information about companies in an open and transparent way would provide greater public and parliamentary scrutiny. An international committee would monitor the measures taken by state parties to implement the convention.
 
The proposed convention would apply not only to states, but also to intergovernmental organizations, within the limits of their competence, with respect to PMSCs, their activities, and their personnel. It would apply to all situations where PMSCs  operate, regardless of whether the situation is considered to constitute an armed conflict or not.
 
The fact that PMSC personnel are not usually “mercenaries” is also a strong argument for the adoption of a new instrument to deal with a new type of actor. Contrary to the “dogs of war” mercenaries of the past, private military and security companies are legally registered, and the definition used in international instruments—such as the one contained in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and the one in the UN Convention on Mercenaries—typically does not apply to the personnel of PMSCs.
 
The argument that employing PMSCs is cost-effective may be true in the short term and if a number of socioeconomic variables are not taken into consideration, such as training in the use of weapons and counterinsurgency operations of former militaries and policemen, which is paid by taxpayers. In this regard, it is worth noting the increasing number of military personnel who, attracted by higher salaries, are leaving the army in developed and developing countries to join PMSCs. One way to decrease costs for PMSCs has been to contract more former military members and policemen from developing countries at much lower salaries. Issues of reintegration and post-traumatic stress disorder in individuals returning to their communities from military or security work abroad have not been assessed either. Because of the nature of their contracts, thousands of these disposable “guns for hire” are available in the market and ready to be employed in any conflict situation.
 
The aphorism that the invisible hand of the market is enough to regulate the activities of PMSCs without outside intervention seems to have been abandoned after a number of events have proved to the contrary.
 
The Working Group is not the only body calling for a legally binding instrument to regulate and monitor the activities of private military and security companies. This is also the position of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which has adopted two reports recommending “that the Committee of Ministers draw up a Council of Europe instrument aimed at regulating the relations of its member states with PMSCs and laying down minimum standards for the activity of these private companies.”[57] The UN Working Group’s proposals follow the same logic as the “Stop Outsourcing Security Act” proposed by U.S. Congress Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
 
Most UN Member States, upon considering the impact of PMSCs on the enjoyment of human rights, assert the opinion that outsourcing functions related to the legitimate use of force to private contractors requires binding regulatory and monitoring mechanisms at the international level due to the transnational character of the industry. The position of western states, however, is that a binding instrument with regulatory and oversight mechanisms is too premature. The recommendation made by the Working Group to the United Nations to create an open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider an international regulatory framework to monitor PMSCs has been accepted despite the opposition of western states.[58] A process has been set up in the United Nations for political negotiations on this important issue by Member States, Intergovernmental Organizations, and civil society represented by human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.[59]
 
José L. Gómez del Prado is the former Chairperson of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries. He teaches at the Universities of Deusto (Bilbao), Barcelona and Madrid as an invited professor. His most recent publications include A United Nations Instrument to Regulate and Monitor Private Military and Security Contractors and Private Military and Security Companies and the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries.
 
Notes

[1] The rule of law is a pre-condition for achieving the principles of the United Nations: peace and security, development and human rights.
[2] A number of tasks may be performed by PMSCs in relation to the maintenance of international peace and peaceful coexistence of nations as laid down in the UN Charter. See “Private military and security firms and the erosion of the state monopoly of the use of force,” Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly, Document 11787 of 22 December 2008.
[3] The monopoly by the state on the legitimate use of force is a cornerstone of sovereignty. The current international political system, constructed in the twentieth century under the UN Charter, is based on a community of sovereign states Article 2.1 “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, United Nations Charter”.
[4] See Barry Yeoman, “Soldiers of good fortune,” Mother Jones, May/June 2003,  http://motherjones.com/politics/2003/05/soldiers-good-fortune
[5] . See Yves Engler, “La privatisation de l’occupation: Les mercenaires et les ONG (Counterpunch)”, HAITI RECTO VERSO (blog), 9 March 2010,  http://haitirectoverso.blogspot.com/2010/09/la-privatisation-de-loccupation-les.html.
[6] Human rights abuses are committed by private security guards protecting multinational companies. See Guatemalan women Mayan Q’eqchi’ community living in El Estor against HudBay Minerals and its subsidiary HMI Nickel Inc. The women alleged that the companies were complicit in the gang rapes they suffered at the hands of security personnel. Also lawsuit filed by the widow of a Q’eqchi community leader, who was severely beaten and shot dead during a protest against the Fenix mine by security guards from the Fenix project. http://businesshumanrights.org/Categories/Lawlawsuits/Lawsuitsregulatoryaction/LawsuitsSelectedcases/HudBayMineralslawsuitsreGuatemala#news  .
[7] United Nations doc. A/HRC/7/7.
[8] See Chapter 4 of Small Arms Survey 2011, Cambridge University Press.
[9] PMSC are mostly virtual companies with a small staff. They use databases of qualified military/law enforcement and sub-contractors. See P. W. Singer, “Corporate Warriors”, Cornell University Press2004, Chapter V
[10]Plan Colombia between the United States and Colombia allows private military and security companies, such as DynCorp, to carry out operations in Colombian territory with diplomatic immunity. In Iraq, from 2004 and 2007, all private U.S. contractors including PMSC were given immunity status under the Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17. In 2007 the immunity was withdrawn. However, the legal situation of PMSCs operating in the country and in particular if some PMSCs still benefit from the immunity clause contained in CPA Order 17 remains unclear. It is not certain as to whether this removal of immunity covers all contractors employed by the United States Government and as to whether it is fully applied in Iraqi courts. See United Nations Doc. A/HRC/18/32/Add.4. In the United Kingdom, in response to an inquiry from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament the U.K. Foreign Secretary stated, “Some individuals contracted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office  (FCO) in Iraq and Afghanistan to undertake private security contracts for the protection of our diplomatic missions do have certain immunities, including in particular immunity from criminal jurisdiction, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”. See, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/557/55708.htm, consulted on 03/05/2011 The diplomatic status has been one of the main arguments of the defense of the five private guards of Blackwater charged with manslaughter and weapons violations and allegedly responsible for the massacre which took place  in Baghdad’s Nissour Square, in 2007. In December 2009, Judge Ricardo Urbina of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the Justice Department’s prosecution of the five guards on the basis that the prosecution’s evidence was tainted by the improper use of compelled statements. The Justice Department appealed the ruling and a federal appeals court reinstated the prosecution of the Blackwater guards in April 2011. 
[11]The fact remains that if a PMSC decides to place its headquarters in a particular country is because it has already calculated that it is not going to have regulatory difficulties with that government. Many PMSC that have their headquarters in Washington or London are registered in tax havens such as the Bahamas or the Caymans, See P. W. Singer, “Corporate Warriors”, Cornell University Press 2004, Chapter V.
[12] United Nations Human Rights Committee, General Comment 31, paragraph 8, United Nations doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.13 (2004).
[13] Communications sent by UN Working Group on mercenaries and Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to the governments of Afghanistan and United States, United Nations doc. A/HRC 15/25/Add.1.
[14] Jon Boone, “Afghanistan lets Blackwater stay despite shakeup of security contractors”, The Guardian 7 March 2011; CNN, “Security contractors charged in Afghanistan killings to be arraigned”, 17 August 2010 .
[15] August Cole, “US Contractors Fired at Kabul Car”, The Wall Street Journal, 18 May 2009.
[16]Jeremy Scahill, “Blackwater Operating in Afghanistan on Subcontract with Raytheon”, RebelReports, 19 May 2009.
[17] Ibid, Jon Boone, The Guardian.
[18] See José L. Gómez del Prado, The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security
Companies (PMSC), CENTRE FOR RESEARCH ON GLOBALIZATION, 8 November 2010,
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21826 .
[19] U.N. Doc. A/HRC/7/7/Add.1 (Feb. 13, 2008)
[20]. Ibid.
[21] Ibid
[22]. “Additional information about Blackwater USA”, memorandum dated 1 October 2007 from Majority Staff to the Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, p. 2, http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/10/01/blackwater.memo.pdf.
[23]. Ibid.
[24] United Nations Doc. A/HRC/18/32/Add.4.
[25] BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-12594245.
[26] United Nations document A/HRC/10/14/Add.1.
[27] Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake its reputation battered by often criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe. See Mike Baker, “Blackwater dumps tarnished brand name,”, APNewsBreak, 13 February 2009.
[28]. Democracy Now, 5 May 2011.
[29] Jeremy Scahill, “Blackwater still armed in Iraq”, The Nation, 14 August 2009
[30] United Nations documents A/61/341, paras 69 and 71; A/HRC/4/42 para. 35 and A/HRC/7/7 para 46.
[31] U.N. Doc. A/HRC/15/25/Add.3; James Risen & Mark Mazzetti, “Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids,” The New York Times, 10 December 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/us/politics/11blackwater.html?r=1; Adam Ciralsky, “Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy,” Vanity Fair, January 2010, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/01/blackwater-201001.
[32] Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Doc. AS/JUR(2006) 03 rev. Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Rapporteur Dick Marty and United Nations doc. A/HRC/13/42, Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter Terrorism.
[33] Mohamed v. Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc., 614 F.3d 1070, 1073 (9th Cir. 2010)
[34]Business-Human Rights org.
http://businesshumanrights.org/Categories/Lawlawsuits/Lawsuitsregulatoryaction/LawsuitsSelectedcases/Jeppesenlawsuitreextraordinaryrenditionflights#news
[35]. An NGO report indicated that one-third of the 47 women exposed to the fumigation showed cells with genetic damage. The study established a relationship between the air fumigations of Plan Colombia and damage to genetic material. Once permanent, the cases of cancerous mutations and important embryonic alterations increased and contributed to a rise in abortions in the area.  U.N. Doc. A/HRC/4/42/Add.2.
[36]. DYNCORP INT’LLLC, QUARTERLY REPORT (FORM 10-Q)19, 8 February 2010, http://ir.dyn-intl.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=950123-10-13389.
[37].Human rights are embedded within sovereignty (Jack Donnelly “Human Rights and State responsibility in mysite.du.edu/~jdonnell/papers/hrsov%20v4a.htm). The right to self-determination is proclaimed in Article 1 common to the two International Covenants on Human Rights which stipulates: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. See also Press Release, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N. Experts Visit Equatorial Guinea to Discuss the Menace Posed by the Activities of Mercenaries, U.N. Press Release, 12 August 2010, http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10273&LangID=E.
[38]. The Cold-Blooded Blue Blood, The Guardian, 28 June 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/may/09/equatorialguinea.world.
[39] .Press Release, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N.
Independent Experts Express Serious Concern at the Execution of Four Men after Concluding
their Mission to Equatorial Guinea, 27 August 2010, http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10293&LangID=E.
[40] Robert Collier, Iraq : Global Security Firms Fill in as Private Armies, CorpWatch 28 March 2004, http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=11263
[41]. The U.S. Commission on War Contracting criticized the Government for not having “clear standards and policy on inherently governmental functions”. It called for a single definition ensuring that only officers or employees of the federal Government or members of the armed forces perform inherently governmental functions and other critical functions. See, Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, At what cost? Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Interim Report (June 2009).
[42] The 1856 Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law states in Article 1: “Privateering is,
and remains, abolished.” Declaration of Paris (Apr. 16, 1856), in CONVENTIONS AND
DECLARATIONS BETWEEN THE POWERS CONCERNING WAR, ARBITRATION AND
NEUTRALITY 10 (1915) available at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/105?OpenDocument
[43]. 1977 Organization of Africa Unity (OUA) Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa.
[44] Under Article 2 of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries stipulates that: “Any person who recruits, uses, finances or trains mercenaries, as defined in article 1 of the present Convention, commits an offence for the purposes of the Convention”. Under Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions “Mercenaries, as defined in Additional Protocol I, do not have the right to combatant or prisoner-of-war status”.
[45]. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974.
[46]. Francesco Francioni, “The Role of the Home State in Ensuring Compliance with Human Rights by Private Military Contractors,” War by Contract, eds. Francesco Francioni and Natalino Ronzitti, Oxford University Press, 2011.
[47] International Humanitarian Law, International Committee of the Red Cross, Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.
[48]. M. Mancini, F. Z. Ntoubandi and Th. Marauhn, “Old Concepts and New Challenges,” in War by Contract,  eds. Francesco Francioni and Natalino Ronzitti, Oxford University Press, 2011. PMSCs have also been contracted for the protection of individuals (security escorts), convoys (convoy security), and high-ranking officials (personal security) as well as to provide military and law enforcement training, intelligence, and interrogation of prisoners.
[49]. UN Doc. A/HRC/7/7, UN Doc. A/HRC/4/42/Add.1
[50] “A mercenary is any person who: (a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict” (…)
[51] SEALs means Sea, Air, Land; SWCC stands for Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewmen and SAS for Special Air Services. Information collected by members of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries in their country missions through their interviews with private security guards former employed by PMSC working in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[52]. The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, SWITZERLAND FED. DEP’T. OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (last modified Aug. 10, 2009), http://www.eda.admin.ch/psc.
[53]. The founder of the International Peace Operations Association is Doug Brooks, a specialist in African security issues. He has been an Adjunct Faculty member at American University and an Academic Fellow and Research Associate with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Johannesburg; The Director General of the British Association of Private Security Companies is Andy Bearpark, a former senior Official of Her Majesty’s Government. He has also served as Director of Operations and Infrastructure for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. Andy Bearpark CBE Director General, BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE SECURITIES COMPANIES, 15 March 2011, http://www.bapsc.org.uk/about_us-andy_bearpark.asp.
[54]. Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, Letter dated 2 October 2008 addressed to the Secretary-General of the Security Council, UN Soc. A/63/467- S/2008/636 (6 October 2008) (by Peter Maurer) (Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iraq, Poland, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom Ukraine, and the United States).
[55]. United Nations, Commission of Human Rights Resolution 2005/2 and Human Rights Council Resolution 7/21.
[56]. United Nations documents, A/HRC/15/25 and A/65/325.
[57]Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Report of Political Affairs Committee, Private Military and Security Firms and the Erosion of the State Monopoly on the Use of Force, Parl. Eur. Doc. 11787 (Dec. 22, 2008) (by Wolfgang Wodarg) and Opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Private Military and Security Firms and the Erosion of the State Monopoly on the Use of Force, § 1, Parl. Eur. Doc.11801 (Jan. 27, 2009) (by Kimmo Sasi). On 11 May, the European Parliament has adopted Resolution 2010/2299 (INI) on the development of the common security and defence policy following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which calls on the Council and the Commission to initiate regulatory measures in the field of PMSCs (paras 53-55). 
[58]. United Nations document, A/HRC/RES/15/26.
[59]. The first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group was held from 23 to 27 May 2011 at the United Nations in Geneva; see United Nations document A/HRC/WG.107CPR.2.

Washington Puts Its Money on Proxy War

August 11th, 2012 by Nick Turse

 In the 1980s, the U.S. government began funneling aid to mujahedeen rebels in Afghanistan as part of an American proxy war against the Soviet Union. It was, in the minds of America’s Cold War leaders, a rare chance to bloody the Soviets, to give them a taste of the sort of defeat the Vietnamese, with Soviet help, had inflicted on Washington the decade before. In 1989, after years of bloody combat, the Red Army did indeed limp out of Afghanistan in defeat. Since late 2001, the United States has been fighting its former Afghan proxies and their progeny. Now, after years of bloody combat, it’s the U.S. that’s looking to withdraw the bulk of its forces and once again employ proxies to secure its interests there.

From Asia and Africa to the Middle East and the Americas, the Obama administration is increasingly embracing a multifaceted, light-footprint brand of warfare. Gone, for the moment at least, are the days of full-scale invasions of the Eurasian mainland. Instead, Washington is now planning to rely ever more heavily on drones and special operations forces to fight scattered global enemies on the cheap. A centerpiece of this new American way of war is the outsourcing of fighting duties to local proxies around the world.

While the United States is currently engaged in just one outright proxy war, backing a multi-nation African force to battle Islamist militants in Somalia, it’s laying the groundwork for the extensive use of surrogate forces in the future, training “native” troops to carry out missions — up to and including outright warfare.  With this in mind and under the auspices of the Pentagon and the State Department, U.S. military personnel now take part in near-constant joint exercises and training missions around the world aimed at fostering alliances, building coalitions, and whipping surrogate forces into shape to support U.S. national security objectives. 

While using slightly different methods in different regions, the basic strategy is a global one in which the U.S. will train, equip, and advise indigenous forces — generally from poor, underdeveloped nations — to do the fighting (and dying) it doesn’t want to do.  In the process, as small an American force as possible, including special forces operatives and air support, will be brought to bear to aid those surrogates.  Like drones, proxy warfare appears to offer an easy solution to complex problems.  But as Washington’s 30-year debacle in Afghanistan indicates, the ultimate costs may prove both unimaginable and unimaginably high.

Start with Afghanistan itself.  For more than a decade, the U.S. and its coalition partners have been training Afghan security forces in the hopes that they would take over the war there, defending U.S. and allied interests as the American-led international force draws down.  Yet despite an expenditure of almost $50 billion on bringing it up to speed, the Afghan National Army and other security forces have drastically underperformed any and all expectations, year after year.    

One track of the U.S. plan has been a little-talked-about proxy army run by the CIA.  For years, the Agency has trained and employed six clandestine militias that operate near the cities of Kandahar, Kabul, and Jalalabad as well as in Khost, Kunar, and Paktika provinces.  Working with U.S. Special Forces and controlled by Americans, these “Counterterror Pursuit Teams” evidently operate free of any Afghan governmental supervision and have reportedly carried out cross-border raids into Pakistan, offering their American patrons a classic benefit of proxy warfare: plausible deniability.

This clandestine effort has also been supplemented by the creation of a massive, conventional indigenous security force.  While officially under Afghan government control, these military and police forces are almost entirely dependent on the financial support of the U.S. and allied governments for their continued existence.  

Today, the Afghan National Security Forces officially number more than 343,000, but only 7% of its army units and 9% of its police units are rated at the highest level of effectiveness.  By contrast, even after more than a decade of large-scale Western aid, 95% of its recruits are still functionally illiterate

Not surprisingly, this massive force, trained by high-priced private contractors, Western European militaries, and the United States, and backed by U.S. and coalition forces and their advanced weapons systems, has been unable to stamp out a lightly-armed, modest-sized, less-than-popular, rag-tag insurgency.  One of the few tasks this proxy force seems skilled at is shooting American and allied forces, quite often their own trainers, in increasingly common “green-on-blue” attacks.

Adding insult to injury, this poor-performing, coalition-killing force is expensive.  Bought and paid for by the United States and its coalition partners, it costs between $10 billion and $12 billion each year to sustain in a country whose gross domestic product is just $18 billion.  Over the long term, such a situation is untenable. 

Back to the Future

Utilizing foreign surrogates is nothing new.  Since ancient times, empires and nation-states have employed foreign troops and indigenous forces to wage war or have backed them when it suited their policy aims.  By the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the tactic had become de rigueur for colonial powers like the French who employed Senegalese, Moroccans, and other African forces in Indochina and elsewhere, and the British who regularly used Nepalese Gurkhas to wage counterinsurgencies in places ranging from Iraq and Malaya to Borneo.   

By the time the United States began backing the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, it already had significant experience with proxy warfare and its perils.  After World War II, the U.S. eagerly embraced foreign surrogates, generally in poor and underdeveloped countries, in the name of the Cold War.  These efforts included the attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro via a proxy Cuban force that crashed and burned at the Bay of Pigs; the building of a Hmong army in Laos which ultimately lost to Communist forces there; and the bankrolling of a French war in Vietnam that failed in 1954 and then the creation of a massive army in South Vietnam that crumbled in 1975, to name just a few unsuccessful efforts.

A more recent proxy failure occurred in Iraq.  For years after the 2003 invasion, American policy-makers uttered a standard mantra: “As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”  Last year, those Iraqis basically walked off.        

Between 2003 and 2011, the United States pumped tens of billions of dollars into “reconstructing” the country with around $20 billion of it going to build the Iraqi security forces.  This mega-force of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police was created from scratch to prop up the successors to the government that the United States overthrew.  It was trained by and fought with the Americans and their coalition partners, but that all came to an end in December 2011.

Despite Obama administration efforts to base thousands or tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years to come, the Iraqi government spurned Washington’s overtures and sent the U.S. military packing.  Today, the Iraqi government supports the Assad regime in Syria, and has a warm and increasingly close relationship with long-time U.S. enemy Iran.  According to Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency, the two countries have even discussed expanding their military ties.

African Shadow Wars

Despite a history of sinking billions into proxy armies that collapsed, walked away, or morphed into enemies, Washington is currently pursuing plans for proxy warfare across the globe, perhaps nowhere more aggressively than in Africa.   

Under President Obama, operations in Africa have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years.  These include last year’s war in Libya; the expansion of a growing network of supply depots, small camps, and airfields; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles; a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations; a massive influx of cash for counterterrorism operations across East Africa; a possible old-fashioned air war, carried out on the sly in the region using manned aircraft; and a special ops expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders.  (This mission against Kony is seen by some experts as a cover for a developing proxy war between the U.S. and the Islamist government of Sudan — which is accused of helping to support the LRA — and Islamists more generally.)  And this only begins to scratch the surface of Washington’s fast-expanding plans and activities in the region.

In Somalia, Washington has already involved itself in a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against Islamist al-Shabaab militants that includes intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, a secret prison, helicopter attacks, and commando raids.  Now, it is also backing a classic proxy war using African surrogates.  The United States has become, as the Los Angeles Times put it recently, “the driving force behind the fighting in Somalia,” as it trains and equips African foot soldiers to battle Shabaab militants, so U.S. forces won’t have to.  In a country where more than 90 Americans were killed and wounded in a 1993 debacle now known by the shorthand “Black Hawk Down,” today’s fighting and dying has been outsourced to African soldiers. 

Earlier this year, for example, elite Force Recon Marines from the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12 (or, as a mouthful of an acronym, SPMAGTF-12) trained soldiers from the Uganda People’s Defense Force.  It, in turn, supplies the majority of the troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) currently protecting the U.S.-supported government in that country’s capital, Mogadishu.

This spring, Marines from SPMAGTF-12 also trained soldiers from the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF), the second-largest contingent in Somalia.  In April and May, members of Task Force Raptor, 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment of the Texas National Guard, took part in a separate training mission with the BNDF in Mudubugu, Burundi.  SPMAGTF-12 has also sent its trainers to Djibouti, another nation involved in the Somali mission, to work with an elite army unit there.

At the same time, U.S. Army troops have taken part in training members of Sierra Leone’s military in preparation for their deployment to Somalia later this year.  In June, U.S. Army Africa commander Major General David Hogg spoke encouragingly of the future of Sierra Leone’s forces in conjunction with another U.S. ally, Kenya, which invaded Somalia last fall (and just recently joined the African Union mission there).  “You will join the Kenyan forces in southern Somalia to continue to push al Shabaab and other miscreants from Somalia so it can be free of tyranny and terrorism and all the evil that comes with it,” he said. “We know that you are ready and trained. You will be equipped and you will accomplish this mission with honor and dignity.”

Readying allied militaries for deployment to Somalia is, however, just a fraction of the story when it comes to training indigenous forces in Africa.  This year, for example, Marines traveled to Liberia to focus on teaching riot-control techniques to that country’s military as part of what is otherwise a State Department-directed effort to rebuild its security forces. 

In fact, Colonel Tom Davis of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) recently told TomDispatch that his command has held or has planned 14 major joint training exercises for 2012 and a similar number are scheduled for 2013.  This year’s efforts include operations in Morocco, Cameroon, Gabon, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Senegal, and Nigeria, including, for example, Western Accord 2012, a multilateral exercise involving the armed forces of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gambia, and France.

Even this, however, doesn’t encompass the full breadth of U.S. training and advising missions in Africa.  “We… conduct some type of military training or military-to-military engagement or activity with nearly every country on the African continent,” wrote Davis.   

Our American Proxies

Africa may, at present, be the prime location for the development of proxy warfare, American-style, but it’s hardly the only locale where the United States is training indigenous forces to aid U.S. foreign policy aims.  This year, the Pentagon has also ramped up operations in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. 

In Honduras, for example, small teams of U.S. troops are working with local forces to escalate the drug war there. Working out of Forward Operating Base Mocoron and other remote camps, the U.S. military is supporting Honduran operations by way of the methods it honed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  U.S. forces have also taken part in joint operations with Honduran troops as part of a training mission dubbed Beyond the Horizon 2012, while Green Berets have been assisting Honduran Special Operations forces in anti-smuggling operations.  Additionally, an increasingly militarized Drug Enforcement Administration sent a Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team, originally created to disrupt the poppy trade in Afghanistan, to aid Honduras’s Tactical Response Team, that country’s elite counternarcotics unit. 

The militarization and foreign deployment of U.S. law enforcement operatives was also evident in Tradewinds 2012, a training exercise held in Barbados in June.  There, members of the U.S. military and civilian law enforcement agencies joined with counterparts from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, as well as Trinidad and Tobago, to improve cooperation for “complex multinational security operations.”

Far less visible have been training efforts by U.S. Special Operations Forces in Guyana, Uruguay, and Paraguay.  In June, special ops troops also took part in Fuerzas Comando, an eight-day “competition” in which the elite forces from 21 countries, including the Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay, faced-off in tests of physical fitness, marksmanship, and tactical capabilities.

This year, the U.S. military has also conducted training exercises in Guatemala, sponsored “partnership-building” missions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru, and Panama, and reached an agreement to carry out 19 “activities” with the Colombian army over the next year, including joint military exercises.

The Proxy Pivot

Coverage of the Obama administration’s much-publicized strategic “pivot” to Asia has focused on the creation of yet more bases and new naval deployments to the region.  The military (which has dropped the word pivot for “rebalancing”) is, however, also planning and carrying out numerous exercises and training missions with regional allies.  In fact, the Navy and Marines alone already reportedly engage in more than 170 bilateral and multilateral exercises with Asia-Pacific nations each year.  

One of the largest of these efforts took place in and around the Hawaiian Islands from late June through early August.  Dubbed RIMPAC 2012, the exercise brought together more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel from 22 nations, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Tonga. 

Almost 7,000 American troops also joined around 3,400 Thai forces, as well as military personnel from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea as part of Cobra Gold 2012.  In addition, U.S. Marines took part in Hamel 2012, a multinational training exercise involving members of the Australian and New Zealand militaries, while other American troops joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines for Exercise Balikatan.

The effects of the “pivot” are also evident in the fact that once neutralist India now holds more than 50 military exercises with the United States each year — more than any other country in the world.  “Our partnership with India is a key part of our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and, we believe, to the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on a recent trip to the subcontinent. Just how broad is evident in the fact that India is taking part in America’s proxy effort in Somalia.  In recent years, the Indian Navy has emerged as an “important contributor” to the international counter-piracy effort off that African country’s coast, according to Andrew Shapiro of the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Peace by Proxy

India’s neighbor Bangladesh offers a further window into U.S. efforts to build proxy forces to serve American interests.

Earlier this year, U.S. and Bangladeshi forces took part in an exercise focused on logistics, planning, and tactical training, codenamed Shanti Doot-3.  The mission was notable in that it was part of a State Department program, supported and executed by the Pentagon, known as the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). 

First implemented under George W. Bush, GPOI provides cash-strapped nations funds, equipment, logistical assistance and training to enable their militaries to become “peacekeepers” around the world.  Under Bush, from the time the program was established in 2004 through 2008, more than $374 million was spent to train and equip foreign troops.  Under President Obama, Congress has funded the program to the tune of $393 million, according to figures provided to TomDispatch by the State Department. 

In a speech earlier this year, the State Department’s Andrew Shapiro told a Washington, D.C., audience that “GPOI is particularly focusing a great deal of its efforts to support the training and equipping of peacekeepers deploying to… Somalia” and had provided “tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment for countries deploying [there].”  In a blog post he went into more detail, lauding U.S. efforts to train Djiboutian troops to serve as peacekeepers in Somalia and noting that the U.S. had also provided impoverished Djibouti with radar equipment and patrol boats for offshore activities.  “Djibouti is also central to our efforts to combat piracy,” he wrote, “as it is on the front line of maritime threats including piracy in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding waters.”

Djibouti and Bangladesh are hardly unique.  Under the auspices of the Global Peace Operations Initiative, the U.S. has partnered with 62 nations around the globe, according to statistics provided by the State Department.  These proxies-in-training are, not surprisingly, some of the poorest nations in their respective regions, if not the entire planet.  They include Benin, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Togo in Africa, Nepal and Pakistan in Asia, and Guatemala and Nicaragua in the Americas.  

The Changing Face of Empire

With ongoing military operations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, the Obama administration has embraced a six-point program for light-footprint warfare relying heavily on special operations forces, drones, spies, civilian partners, cyber warfare, and proxy fighters.  Of all the facets of this new way of war, the training and employment of proxies has generally been the least noticed, even though reliance on foreign forces is considered one of its prime selling points.  As the State Department’s Andrew Shapiro put it in a speech earlier this year: “[T]he importance of these missions to the security of the United States is often little appreciated… To put it clearly: When these peacekeepers deploy it means that U.S. forces are less likely to be called on to intervene.”  In other words, to put it even more clearly, more dead locals, fewer dead Americans.

The evidence for this conventional wisdom, however, is lacking.  And failures to learn from history in this regard have been ruinous.  The training, advising, and outfitting of a proxy force in Vietnam drew the United States deeper and deeper into that doomed conflict, leading to tens of thousands of dead Americans and millions of dead Vietnamese.  Support for Afghan proxies during their decade-long battle against the Soviet Union led directly to the current disastrous decade-plus American War in Afghanistan.    

Right now, the U.S. is once again training, advising, and conducting joint exercises all over the world with proxy war on its mind and the concept of “unintended consequences” nowhere in sight in Washington. Whether today’s proxies end up working for or against Washington’s interests or even become tomorrow’s enemies remains to be seen.  But with so much training going on in so many destabilized regions, and so many proxy forces being armed in so many places, the chances of blowback grow greater by the day.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author/editor of several books, including the recently published Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (with Tom Engelhardt). This piece is the latest article in his new series on the changing face of American empire, which is being underwritten by Lannan Foundation. You can follow him on Tumblr.

“We Are Witnessing a Financial Holocaust Brought on by the Banksters with Millions of Deaths in the “Offering”

Fraud caused the Great Depression and the current financial crisis, and the economy will never recover until fraud is prosecuted.

Fraud is the business model adopted by the giant banks. See this.

The Obama administration has made it official policy not to prosecute fraud.  Indeed, the “watchdogs” in D.C. are so corrupt that they are as easily bribed as a policeman in a third world banana republic.

The mouthpieces in Wall Street and D.C.  pretend that financial  fraud (like Libor) is a “victimless crime“.

But the World Bank notes that the financial crisis  – you know, the one caused by financial fraud – has driven between 64 and  100 million people into destitution.

Some estimate the figure to be much higher. For example, one 2009 study estimated that 140 million people would be driven into poverty in Asia alone.

This is not just a matter of having less money for entertainment or luxury goods.  Increased poverty leads to earlier deaths.

As the Los Angeles times notes:

Poverty appears to trump smoking, obesity and education as a health burden, potentially causing a loss of 8.2 years of perfect health.

This is not an abstract concept. A lot of kids will die due to Wall Street fraud:

The global financial crisis sweeping through Wall Street and the European banking sector will touch the lives of the world’s most vulnerable, pushing millions into deeper poverty and leading to the deaths of thousands of children, according to a new United Nations study.

***

The report highlighted the prospect of an increase of between 200,000 and 400,000 in infant mortality and that child malnutrition, already rising, will be one of the main drivers of higher child death rates.

While developing countries will be hardest hit, increased poverty and hunger are hitting the U.S., Britain and other first world countries are as well.

Paul Moore – former Head of Risk at HBOS – says:

The financial crisis has resulted in the greatest humanitarian crisis since WWII … We are witnessing a financial holocaust brought on by the banksters with millions of deaths in the offering.

The grape harvest is now underway on Greece’s Samos island in the eastern Aegean Sea off the Turkish coastline. The vinyards on the lower slopes are now being picked and this will continue through to the end of September as the grapes mature higher up the mountain. The mountainous terrain of Samos is such that both the major crops of grapes and olives cannot be cultivated or harvested by any significant mechanical assistance. Human labour alone, as it has been for hundreds of years, is the only way to farm on most of the island.

The harvest itself is hard physical work and for many involves carrying 20 kg crates of grapes up and down mountain slopes to the pick up vehicles that will take them off to be pressed. The crates we use are plastic and alongside the pick up truck these are probably the main differences between the harvest of today and that of 200 hundred years earlier.

The hard work is made more difficult by the summer temperatures currently in the low to mid 30’s. Even though we start picking as soon as it is light, within 2 hours the sun is ferocious.

Island of Samos Vineyards

On a number of the vineyards you will see large family groups ranging from children to grandparents bringing in the grapes. Women far outnumber the men in many of these groups and this transforms the process such as on our neighbour’s vineyard where the picking is accompanied by much banter, jokes and singing amongst the women.

But this is no longer the way in which most of the grapes are harvested. As the young have migrated away from the island over many decades the average age of the Samos farmer has grown to over 60 years. The young who do stay are not generally interested in working the land, even if they might lend a hand in the harvest.

This has had many consequences, not the least being the gradual abandonment of vinyards and olive orchards, especially where access is difficult.  Untended they quickly revert to a ‘jungle’ of weeds and shrubs, which in turn heightens the fire risk during the summer – a major threat every year. One of the reasons why the fires in 2000 devastated about a third of Samos was due to the neglect of the land which allowed grasses to flourish which by August made for the most inflammable hay. 

The island is littered with abandoned terraces. Using the bountiful supply of stone previous generations of farmers covered the island’s mountain slopes with terracing for olives and grapes. Any walk in the mountains reveals the remnants of this extraordinary achievement, with sections of the dry stone terraces still standing amongst the trees and shrub. This is by no means unique to Samos but is true for much of rural Greece especially where the terrain does not permit the use of tractors and other farm machinery. 

However, over the past 2 decades the rate of abandonment has undoubtedly been slowed down, first by the arrival of the Albanian exodus through the 1990s and more recently by refugees. If it were not for these sources of mainly young, highly vulnerable and therefore cheap labour many more farms would be abandoned, and certainly in the case of Samos, most of the olives and grapes would be left unpicked. So one of the most significant differences between the grape harvest of today compared with earlier times is not only the presence of pick up trucks as against donkeys and plastic crates instead of wicker panniers, but above all the background of the pickers. Family groups are now far outnumbered by migrants and refugees on the vinyards. 

All over rural Greece, refugees and migrants are doing (hard, physical) work without which many villages would simply not survive. Their role and contribution is crucial as my drive from the coast to the village this morning revealed as I passed African and Pakistani workers collecting the grapes.

But in Athens at the very same time the Greek state has launched and is continuing its biggest ever police mobilisation against refugees and migrant workers. The progrom, for this is what  is happening, has been named by the state as  Operation Xenios Zeus which in itself reveals the utter cruelty and contempt of the state for these most vulnerable of the population. For Zeus is the god of hospitality and the protector of guests! Under this benign name 2,000 police have been deployed in Athens and 2,500 police on Greece ’s eastern border with Turkey . On Saturday 4th August in Athens alone, over 1,100 refugees without appropriate papers were arrested and detained and a further 4,900  held temporarily for questioning. These numbers have grown as the sweep operation continues (see http://clandestinenglish.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/operation-xenios-zeus-in-athens/).

Empty, or under-utilised military camps in the north of Greece have been commandeered to house those detained pending their eventual deportation as well as a new detention centre in Athens . Moreover, in their characteristically authoritarian fashion, the police action is indiscriminate and inhumane. No distinction is made between the majority who have the appropriate papers and those who do not; the main criteria for being swept up seems to be skin colour; no account is given to minors, to those traumatized by their flight and escapes, to those who have been tortured and raped. All this is now well documented  as being the norm for the Greek state in numerous reports coming out of Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and many other national and international NGOs ( a recent example being Human Rights Watch’s July 2012 report ‘Hate on the Streets’ (http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/07/10/hate-streets). But on the ground it is not that nothing changes but it gets worse almost day by day.

The emergence of Golden Dawn following the June general elections adds impetus to the fascistic tendencies of the state. The New Democracy led coalition is desperate to avoid haemorrhaging its right wing support to this populist and openly fascistic party which now has state funding following its success in gaining a presence in the Greek parliament. This is turn has allowed it to gain wide coverage for its racist stunts like giving out food to the poor in Syntagma Square with the vicious condition that they must possess a Greek I.D.  The dynamic on the right is like watching a dance of death evolve and grow. If nothing else it ignites the most massive ‘green light’ to a Greek police force half of whom it has been estimated voted for Golden Dawn. It is a green light for violence, cruelty, and neglect all with impunity. 

There is no subtlety involved. The Greek government with extreme disregard for the truth is seeking to persuade that the real and most pressing crisis facing Greece is not the ‘debt’ or the Troika but illegal immigration to the country. “Two days after a massive sweep operation in which Greek police netted over 1,000 clandestine immigrants in central Athens, Public Order and Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Dendias defended the campaign saying failure to crack down on illegal immigration would lead to social ‘collapse’. “Our social fabric is in danger of unraveling. The immigration problem is perhaps even bigger than the financial one,” Dendias told Skai radio on Monday.He said the “invasion of immigrants” was the biggest Greece has faced since the invasion of the Dorians….” (Ekathimerini, August 7th 2012). 

Many people here are shocked and frightened by these developments. The current progrom heightens these fears, despite active resistance on the streets from both the communist party (KKE) and the left social democratic, Syriza. But it is the small developments that are perhaps more insidious and reveal a more fundamental process of  normalizing xenophobic nationalism with its attendant racism. Greece and Greek are increasingly being used as adjectives in much the same way as in the early days of Hitler, when fascist supporters took to talking about German this or that as a means of indicating that they were not Jewish. Same here, being Greek now also means not being a refugee or migrant or anything remotely associated with the so-called sub-humans who have no place in the cradle of western civilisation. As one commentator noted, the very name of the latest progrom ‘Xenios Zeus’ is an appeal to classical authority, part of an attempt to assert a perceived difference between ‘western civilisation’ and ‘oriental barbarity’ going all the way back to Ancient Greece. According to the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, “the country is being lost. Not since the coming of the Dorians, 4000 years ago, has the country seen an invasion of such scale… This is a bomb at the foundations of society and of the state.” (Yannis Hamilakis, August 8th 2012; http://greekleftreview.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/hospitable-zeus/

As these terrible events unfold in Greece I am also reading that the recently elected ‘socialist’ government in France is launching an unprecedented attack on the Roma population in France.
 
As with operation Scoupa earlier this year in Athens the French are justifying their action on the grounds that the Roma pose a severe threat to public health. Of course health is threatened when states deny people any benefits, decent housing, jobs, respect and basically herd them into ghettoes of neglect and abandonment. This is where the health threat comes from and not from its victims. But with the right adjectives – not least being called illegal – and with the right skin colour -  state after state from the USA, to Israel through to Greece are trying to reinforce an unquestioning association between refugees/migrants and danger and threat. 

We simply cannot afford to stand back and allow capitalist states in the midst of its most serious and enduring systemic crisis to continue along this trajectory. It is, to use an inelegant phrase, ‘frightening as hell’.

Chris Jones. Now living on Samos Island Greece after leaving England 5 years ago. His Samos Diary is published on ZNet: http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/Chris%20Jones. With Michael Lavalette he wrote ‘Voices from the West Bank’ published by Bookmarks, London , September 2011.

US-Saudi Sponsored Al Qaeda Killers in Syria

August 11th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

Genesis of US-Saudi “Al Qaeda Frankenstein” in Syria

Al Qaeda militants funded, armed and arrayed against Syria by the West since at least 2007 receive PR boost from Western media as public awareness grows of their presence. 
 

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh March 5, 2007

“In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar [bin Sultan] and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh March 5, 2007



Image:  Former-US President George Bush and King for Life of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud: “The loving parents of Al Qaeda.” From the 1980′s to present day, the US and Saudi Arabia have funded, armed, and directed Al Qaeda while performing propaganda campaigns to bend public perception regarding the terrorist organization – portraying them as heroes, then villains, and back again. The “War on Terror” is a fraud.
….

America’s Implausible Deniability

Quite clearly, since 2007, the US and its allies were knowingly arraying sectarian extremists with direct ties to Al Qaeda against Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. Likewise in 2011, the US while leading NATO operations in Libya, armed, trained, funded, and provided air support for Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) militants – also with direct ties to Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda, by all accounts, is a joint US-Saudi creation, led by a Saudi (Osama bin Laden), and armed and funded by Western arms and cash laundered through Saudi Arabia to maintain both “plausible deniability” for the US, and to maintain a semblance of credibility for Al Qaeda militants across the Muslim World.

The now feigned, preposterous “fears” the US is expressing as the monster they’ve created becomes known to global public opinion, constitutes a new depth of depravity in regards to Western foreign policy, ultimately and irrevocably undermining the legitimacy of the West’s collective institutions and its status as a “stabilizing force” in global geopolitics. 

The Associated Press joins Western governments in resigning its legitimacy and credibility with their recent report titled, “U.S. fears extremists could highjack goals of anti-Assad rebels,” which claims:

Al-Qaida has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells, according to U.S. intelligence officials, who fear that the terrorists could be establishing a foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels eventually oust President Bashar Assad.

AP also claims:

At least a couple hundred al-Qaida-linked militants already are operating in Syria, and their ranks are growing as foreign fighters stream into the country daily, current and former U.S. intelligence officials say. The units are spreading from city to city, with veterans of the Iraq insurgency employing their expertise in bomb-building to carry out more than two dozen attacks so far. Others are using their experience in coordinating small units of fighters in Afghanistan to win new followers.

While AP attempts to claim this is a disturbing trend that “US officials” are worried about, other representatives of the corporate-financier interests driving Western foreign policy are attempting to repackage Al Qaeda as “necessary” and shifting to a benign ally.



Image: As more photos depicting Syria’s so-called “Free Syrian Army” as fighting under the banner of Al Qaeda emerge, hiding Al Qaeda’s presence becomes more difficult for the Western press and the corporate-financier interests they represent. Therefore a simultaneous campaign is being waged to spin Al Qaeda’s presence as “recent” and “unexpected,” while attempts are made to repackage the militant group as “heroes.”
….

Recently, the Council on Foreign Relations, a premier Fortune 500-funded US think-tank, wrote in their article, “Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria,” that: 

“The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.”

Also, while AP attempts to portray this disturbing trend as recent, Reuters had reported in their article, “Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs” that months ago that militants operating in Syria had already begun deploying terrorist bombings utilizing skills honed by extremist militants who fought in Iraq over the last decade.

The Telegraph reported even earlier, in November 2011, that Al Qaeda’s LIFG commander Abdul Hakim Belhaj had personally visited the Turkish-Syrian border to pledge cash, weapons, and fighters toward efforts in subverting Syria. Also in late 2011, reports that Libyan fighters, at least 600 of them, had already made their way to Syria began surfacing. As early as April 2011, the role of Al Qaeda in violence playing out all across the US-engineered “Arab Spring” was covered in Dr. Webster Tarpley’s “Al Qaeda: Pawns of CIA Insurrection from Libya to Yemen,” where Syria was specifically mentioned as targeted by the West’s supra-regional campaign.

If the alternative media knew in 2011 that Al Qaeda was on the ground in both Libya and Syria (and elsewhere), and if the New Yorker already reported, point for point exactly who and how events would play out in Syria, as far back as 2007, how is it then that the US only now “fears” extremists of their own creation “hijacking” the goals of the so-called opposition?

The answer of course is the US knew from the very beginning, in fact, long before the beginning. The use of militant extremists to undermine and overrun Syria in an orgy of sectarian driven violence was the chosen method of operation since at least 2007. The US decided to deploy a proxy force, the same one in fact the West had deployed in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. Al Qaeda was a creation of US-Saudi machinations. It is a continuing manifestation of their collective machinations to this day.

Like Weapons of Mass Destruction, Strict Conventions Must Be Arrayed Against “Proxy Wars.” 

Sarin nerve gas, anthrax, and nuclear weapons are considered weapons of such indiscriminate mass destruction, that their use is not only prohibited by both national and international laws and conventions around the world, but have entered civilization’s collective conscience as untenable and inexcusable to use on the battlefield.


Image: Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction, and because of their indiscriminate nature, are banned by both national and international conventions. Proxy terrorists and mercenaries deployed into foreign countries (such as Libyans deploying to fight in Syria with US-Saudi backing) are not only indiscriminate, creating mass destruction and carrying out egregious atrocities, but do so for months, even years. Likewise their use should be banned by national/international conventions and nations caught employing them should have sanctions, severe penalties, and at the very least international condemnation leveled against them. 
….

And just as Sarin nerve gas indiscriminately causes vast swaths of death, or a nuclear weapon kills all within its effective radius, so too do roving proxy armies, fanatically indoctrinated, monetarily motivated, armed, and funded by foreign interests, indiscriminately killing any and all that oppose them. While the West has used the possession and potential use of “weapons of mass destruction” as an excuse to violate the sovereignty of independent nation-states, it itself is deploying indiscriminate tactics leaving tens of thousands dead in nations like Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Mali, and Syria. 

If deploying weapons of mass destruction against a population is considered a grievous war crime because of the indiscriminate, unsparing effects of such implements, then surely deploying armed proxies consisting of fanatical killers is likewise a grievous war crime – perhaps more so because of the extended sustainability of such operations, and the capacity to keep on killing and terrorizing for months, even years. 

And while we will continue to protest the machinations of the West, we must identify, boycott and replace the very corporate-financier interests underwriting this abhorrent agenda. The process of protesting is moot if it is not done in tandem with an appropriate application of real, tangible activism. To protest Western policy, but then patronize the very corporate-financier interests driving it, is self-defeating and ultimately futile.

 

“The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.” (Former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark.)

On the 4th of May 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Chaired a Security Council meeting: “Highlighting Changing Nature, Character of Scourge of Terrorism.” (i) This followed a ministerial-level meeting on: “threats to international peace and security posed by terrorism.”

Ban Ki-moon’s opening address underlined the importance of unity in tackling the problem: “By working together – from strengthening law enforcement to tackling the underlying drivers of extremism – we can greatly reduce this major threat to peace and security”, he stated.

Presumably he did not encourage Permanent Members of the Security Council and other UN Member nations in funding terrorism, or “extremism”, since he continued: “The Security Council reiterates its strong and equivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and where ever and for whatever purposes (stressing) that any terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation.”

The thirteen page final document further, states that: “The Security Council recognizes the continued need to take measures to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism and terrorist organizations (reiterating) Member States obligations in this regard …”

Also that: “ … Member States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State …”

Moreover : “The Security Council reiterates the obligation of Member States to refrain from providing  any form of support, active or passive, to entities or person involved in or associated with terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups …” (Emphasis mine.)

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, said that: “the threat of terrorism continued … in spite of the death of Osama bin Laden” ( a US state sponsored act of terrorism of enormity which had apparently escaped her.)

The US “condemned all terrorism” and would, she said, use all its powers: “including the power of our values … to combat terrorism” – as children collecting firewood, farmers, families, youthful shepherds and goat herders, funeral and wedding parties, die under US drones in numbers in thousands, on orders  now directly from the President.  Death by computer games from “operatives” thousands of miles away. Some “values.” Quite some terrorism.

Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar, Pakistan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN said that: “No country has suffered as much from terrorism as Pakistan.” An ironic understatement given this US ally is attacked, often daily, by the US.

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, for rogue state UK, pledged his country’s support in the fight against terrorism, and thanked Saudi Arabia for its efforts – who, as the US and UK is allegedly heavily backing terrorists in the sovereign nation of Syria.

Ban Ki-moon was also worried about rising militancy in the Sahel region of Africa : “in part because of the fallout from developments in Libya.”  A destruction, massacre and another lynching of a sovereign leader he had apparently forgotten the UN – avowed to: “Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” – under his stewardship and compliance, had given the green light to.

To read the whole document is to enter a world populated with people for whom reality has apparently long vanished.

So much  for fighting terrorism and the protection of the sovereign State.

On thr 3rd of August, the Times of India and others confirmed an open secret: “President Obama has signed a secret order authorizing US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Assad’s government … Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence ‘finding’, permits CIA and other US agencies provide support that could help the rebels oust President Assad.”

On the same day Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague (another day, another poodle) announced, using near identical words, increase in support for the Syrian “opposition forces”, including the cash to train “citizen journalists” to get the word out about (government) atrocities in Syria. Translation: learn convincing lies and propaganda, photoshop and add a few film sets to stage “demonstrations”, “atrocities” – remember the Libya ones, filmed in India, for (just one) example?

The (UK) Daily Mail quoted ominously former British Army Commander, Richard Kemp, a former member of the Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee, as saying: “The UK Government cannot give practical support to the rebels without a presence inside Syria, and any Foreign Office officials seeking to liaise with the opposition leaders would require close protection from Special Forces.”

On the 5th of August,  Senators John McCain (Arizona) Lindsey O. Graham (South Carolina) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut) advised the US government to directly and openly provide assistance, including weapons, intelligence and training, to the Syrian insurgents.

On the 7th of August, Secretary of State Hillary (“We came, we saw, he died”) Clinton, hurtling pointlessly round the world like the proverbial headless chicken, threatening, lecturing, ranting, talked of the urgency of planning for a: “post-Assad Syria.”

Today William Hague announced he is committing “an additional” five million pounds to the terrorists (ii.) Which begs the question how much was the British government providing already?

Another open secret has also come out: Turkey is training terrorists to go to Syria (iii.) Turkey, of course NATO Member, but desperate to get in to the pretty well doomed European Union with it’s near certainly dying currency,  appears to be prepared to do anything to curry favour – and in doing so appears to be the first figurative Turkey to vote for Christmas -clamoring to leap in the economic oven and be roasted.

Veteran Russian politician Yevgeny Primakov is under no illusions:

“Mercenaries and volunteers from other states are fighting (Assad) jointly with” violent internal forces. Most Syria opponents are nonviolent. They want peaceful conflict resolution. Washington has other ideas.

“President Obama has given a direct order to the CIA to support the Syrian opposition.”

“That is flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, which does not endanger the United States or anyone else.”

“Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding militants. Turkey is giving them active support.” So are other regional countries (iv.)

This would appear to be borne out by photographer John Cantile and his colleague Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans, kidnapped by “rebels” on 19th July and who escaped a week later.

Cantile told the BBC he was held in a camp by 30 foreign extremists including some from Britain and Pakistan, stating that some of his captors were: “young men with south London accents”.

He asserted that some of the insurgents could not even speak Arabic, with around a dozen of his captors speaking English, out of whom nine spoke with London accents.

“Not a Syrian in sight. This wasn’t what I had expected”, Cantile added. “Two of them were so anglicised they couldn’t speak Arabic”. This was confirmed by Oerlemans who also said there were Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Chechens and other nationalities.

Britain, seemingly, does not alone fund terrorists, it exports them. The Foreign Office confirmed the kidnapping, but declined to confirm there were British amongst the criminals. Well, they wouldn’t, would they?

“The Security Council recognizes the urgent need for additional efforts to be made at national, regional, and international levels in order to prevent the illicit proliferation (of) materials of all types (which could) fuel terrorist activities”, states the Security Council document. An utterly meaningless thirteen pages, as Security Council Member Countries fund terrorism against a sovereign nation and government.

The Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jafari, as the usual suspects railed about his government’s human rights abuses, reminded of Prime Minister Cameron’s reaction to last year’s UK riots: “(Cameron) said that ‘when it is related to national security, don’t talk to me about human rights We care about the human rights of our people …’ There are third parties in the domestic crisis in Syria”, added Mr Jafari. Sir Mark Lyall Grant called his remark : “utterly grotesque.” (Daily Telegraph, 20th June 2012.) Another flight from reality.

In the same article, eminent British based cardiac surgeon Fawaz Akhras, President Assad’s father in law, made a similar point: “When the London riots burst out Mr Cameron said he would bring the army out, now would you compare (the riots) to Homs?

“What would you do? Just watch them killing? There is a responsibility to ensure the security of your people.” In Professor Akhras’s profession, he is used to dealing with people who are incapacitated, of course.

As I write I do so where, because of the Olympics, not a war, we have ground to air missiles on domestic buildings, war ships with an array of armaments at all venues, 20,000 soldiers, armed police. Any of the lethal weaponry deployed in arguably Britain’s most populated region, if used, could wipe thousands of us out.

We are residents, not insurgents, we are not in a war zone, but we are potential Olympic cannon fodder; collateral damage. And the US-UK axis and others fund terrorists and blame Syria’s government.

To end where this started, mad, bad and very dangerous to know.

Oh, and by the way, in 1980 the  US boycotted the  Moscow Olympics  -because the then USSR had invaded and occupied Afghanistan. Think about it. 

Notes
i.             http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/sc10636.doc.htm
ii.            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19205204
iii.          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19124810
iv.          http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/full-scale-war-in-syria/

The United States and its Comrade-in-arms, Al Qaeda

August 10th, 2012 by William Blum

Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s …

Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s … Libya 2011 … Syria 2012 …

In military conflicts in each of these countries the United States and al Qaeda (or one of its associates) have been on the same side.1

What does this tell us about the United States’ “War On Terrorism”?

Regime change has been the American goal on each occasion: overthrowing communists (or “communists”), Serbians, Slobodan Milosevic, Moammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad … all heretics or infidels, all non-believers in the empire, all inconvenient to the empire.

Why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, has the United States invested so much blood and treasure against the PLO, Iraq, and Libya, and now Syria, all mideast secular governments?

Why are Washington’s closest Arab allies in the Middle East the Islamic governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, and Bahrain? Bahrain being the home of an American naval base; Saudi Arabia and Qatar being conduits to transfer arms to the Syrian rebels.

Why, if democracy means anything to the United States are these same close allies in the Middle East all monarchies?

Why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, did the United States shepherd Kosovo — 90% Islamist and perhaps the most gangsterish government in the world — to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia in 2008, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it?

Why — since Kosovo’s ruling Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic) — has the United States been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union? (Just what the EU needs: another economic basket case.) Between 1998 and 2002, the KLA appeared on the State Department terrorist list, remaining there until the United States decided to make them an ally, due in no small part to the existence of a major American military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, well situated in relation to planned international oil and gas pipelines coming from the vast landlocked Caspian Sea area to Europe. In November 2005, following a visit to Bondsteel, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, described the camp as a “smaller version of Guantánamo”. 2

Why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, did the United States pave the way to power for the Libyan Islamic rebels, who at this very moment are killing other Libyans in order to institute a more fundamentalist Islamic state?

Why do American officials speak endlessly about human rights, yet fully support the Libyan Islamic rebels despite the fact that Doctors Without Borders suspended its work in prisons in the Islamic-rebel city of Misurata because torture was so rampant that some detainees were brought for care only to make them fit for further interrogation? 3

Why is the United States supporting Islamic Terrorists in Libya and Syria who are persecuting Christians?

And why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, did US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice — who daily attacks the Syrian government on moral grounds — not condemn the assassination of four Syrian high officials on July 18, in all likelihood carried out by al Qaeda types? RT, the Russian television channel broadcast in various parts of the United States, noted her silence in this matter. Does anyone know of any American media that did the same?

So, if you want to understand this thing called United States foreign policy … forget about the War on Terrorism, forget about September 11, forget about democracy, forget about freedom, forget about human rights, forget about religion, forget about the people of Libya and Syria … keep your eyes on the prize … Whatever advances American global domination. Whatever suits their goals at the moment. There is no moral factor built into the DNA of US foreign policy.

Bring back the guillotine

In July, the Canadian corporation Enbridge, Inc. announced that one of its pipelines had leaked and spilled an estimated 1,200 barrels of crude oil in a field in Wisconsin. Two years ago, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 19,000 barrels in Michigan. The Michigan spill affected more than 50 kilometers of waterways and wetlands and about 320 people reported medical symptoms from crude oil exposure. The US National Transportation Safety Board said that at $800 million it was the costliest onshore spill cleanup in the nation’s history. The NTSB found that Enbridge knew of a defect in the pipeline five years before it burst. According to Enbridge’s own reports, the company had 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, releasing close to 7 million gallons of crude oil. 4

No executive or other employee of Enbridge has been charged with any kind of crime. How many environmental murderers of modern times have been punished?

During a period of a few years beginning around 2007, several thousand employees of stock brokers, banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, credit-rating agencies, and other financial institutions, mainly in New York, had great fun getting obscenely rich while creating and playing with pieces of paper known by names like derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, index funds, credit default swaps, structured investment vehicles, subprime mortgages, and other exotic terms, for which, it must be kept in mind, there had been no public need or demand. The result has been a severe depression, seriously hurting hundreds of millions of lives in the United States and abroad.

No employee of any of these companies has seen the inside of a prison cell for playing such games with our happiness.

For more than half a century members of the United States foreign policy and military establishments have compiled a record of war crimes and crimes against humanity that the infamous beasts and butchers of history could only envy.

Not a single one of these American officials has come any closer to a proper judgment than going to see the movie “Judgment at Nuremberg”.

Yet, we live in the United States of Punishment for countless other criminal types; more than two million presently rotting their lives away. No other society comes even close to this, no matter how the statistics are calculated. And many of those in American prisons are there for victimless crimes.

On the other hand, we see the Chinese sentencing their citizens to lengthy prison terms, even execution, for environmental crimes.

We have an Iranian court recently trying 39 people for a $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement carried out by individuals close to the political elite or with their assent. Of the 39 people tried, four were sentenced to hang, two to life in prison, and others received terms of up to 25 years; in addition to prison time, some were sentenced to flogging, ordered to pay fines, and banned from government jobs. 5

And in Argentina in early July, in the latest of a long series of trials of former Argentine officials, former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years for a systematic plan to steal babies from women prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta’s war on leftist dissenters — the “dirty war” of 1976-83 that claimed 13,000 victims. Many of the women had “disappeared” shortly after giving birth. Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, was also convicted and got 15 years. Outside the courthouse a jubilant crowd watched on a big screen and cheered each sentence. 6

As an American, how I envy the Argentines. Get the big screen ready for The Mall in Washington. We’ll have showings of the trials of the Bushes and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Obama. And Henry Kissinger, a strong supporter of the Argentine junta among his many contributions to making the world a better place. And let’s not forget the executives of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Enbridge, Inc. Fining them just money is pointless. We have to fine them years, lots of them.

Without imprisoning these people, nothing will change. That’s become a cliché, but we very well see what continues to happen without imprisonment. And it’s steadily getting worse, financially and imperially.

Items of interest from a journal I’ve kept for 40 years, part VII

  • Bantustanning the aboriginals all over the world: The Indians in America, the aboriginals in Australia, the blacks in South Africa, and the Palestinians in Palestine.

  • From 1966 tape of President Lyndon Johnson: “I know we oughtn’t to be there [in Vietnam], but I can’t get out.” And he never did. And thousands more troops would die before Johnson left office. (Washington Post, March 12, 2006)

  • The Germans had Lebensraum. Americans had Manifest Destiny.

  • chinks, gooks, wogs, towelheads, ragheads — some of the charming terms used by American soldiers to describe their foes in Asia and the Middle East

  • In June, 2005, Cong. Duncan Hunter (Rep.-CA) held a news conference concerning Guantánamo. Displaying some tasty traditional meals, he said the government spends $12 a day for food for each prisoner. “So the point is that the inmates in Guantánamo have never eaten better, they’ve never been treated better, and they’ve never been more comfortable in their lives than in this situation.” (Scripps Howard News Service, June 28, 2005, Reg Henry column)

  • Vice President Dick Cheney: Guantánamo prisoners are well treated. “They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibly want.” (CNN.com, June 23, 2005)

  • “[Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld said Guantánamo’s operations have been more open to scrutiny than any military detention facility in history.” (Associated Press, June 14, 2005)

  • “Their ‘coalition of the willing’ [in Iraq] meant the US, Britain, and the equivalent of a child’s imaginary friends.” Paul Loeb, Truthout, June 16, 2005

  • Nobody has ever suggested that Serbia attacked or was preparing to attack a member of NATO, and that is the only event which justifies a military reaction under the NATO treaty, such as the 1999 78-day bombing of Serbia.

  • Rumsfeld re Chinese military buildup: “Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: Why this growing investment?” (New York Times, June 6, 2005

  • Rumsfeld re Venezuelan major weapons buildup: “I don’t know of anyone threatening Venezuela, anyone in this hemisphere.” (Washington Post, October 3, 2006) [Is it possible that the response to both points raised is the same? A country in North America bordering on Mexico?]

  • The failure of the United Nations — as an institution and its individual members — to unequivocally oppose and prevent the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 can well be called “appeasement”.

  • The Iraqi Kurds generally sided with Iran during the 1981-88 Iraq-Iran war; helped the United States before and during its bombing of Iraq in 2003 and during its occupation; and most Kurds don’t identify with being Iraqi according to polls.

  • One of the military judges at Guantánamo said: “I don’t care about international law. I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.” (Democracy Now, April 12, 2005)

  • George W. Bush, re al Qaeda types: “Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country. And we will help them rid Iraq of these killers.” (Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2004)

  • “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq. Those who want to come and help are welcome. Those who come to interfere and destroy are not.” Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense and unindicted war criminal (Chicago Tribune, July 22, 2003)

  • Timothy McVeigh, Gulf War veteran who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people: “What occurred in Oklahoma City was no different than what Americans rain on the heads of others all the time … The bombing of the Murrah building was not personal, no more than when Air Force, Army, Navy or Marine personnel bomb or launch cruise missiles against government installations and their personnel. … Many foreign nations and peoples hate Americans for the very reasons most Americans loathe me. Think about that.” (McVeigh’s letter to and interview with Rita Cosby, Fox News Correspondent, April 27 2001)

  • Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and unindicted war criminal: “Defense Department officials don’t lie to the public. … The Defense Department doesn’t do covert action, period.” (Washington Post, February 21, 2002)

  • The United States will “deal promptly and properly with the terrible abuses” of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers. “No country in the world upholds the Geneva Conventions on the laws of armed conflict more steadfastly than does the United States.” Douglas Feith, Boston Globe, May 5, 2004

  • “The State Department plans to delay the release of a human rights report that was due out today, partly because of sensitivities over the prison abuse scandal in Iraq, U.S. officials said. One official who asked not to be identified said the release of the report, which describes actions taken by the U.S. government to encourage respect for human rights by other nations, could ‘make us look hypocritical’.” (Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2004)

  • In the decades after 1945, as colonial possessions became independent states, it was widely believed that imperialism as a historical phenomenon was coming to an end. However, a new form of imperialism was in fact taking shape, an imperialism not defined by colonial rule but by the global capitalist market. From the outset, the dominant power in this imperialism without colonies was the United States.

  • Francis Boyle re the capture and public display of Saddam Hussein: “This is the 21st century equivalent of the Roman Emperor parading the defeated barbarian king before the assembled masses so that they might all shout in unison: Hail Caesar!”

  • The US-provided textbooks in Nicaragua after the US-instigated defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990 carefully excluded all mention of Augustino Sandino as a national hero. (Z magazine, November, 1991)

  • “Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: ‘If you want your family released, turn yourself in.’ Such tactics are justified, he said, because, ‘It’s an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.’ They would have been released in due course, he added later. The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered.” (Washington Post, July 28, 2003) [This is illegal under international law; in ordinary parlance we'd call it a kidnapping with ransom; in war, it's the collective punishment of civilians and is forbidden under the Geneva Convention]

  • “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • “Americans, who up until now had been so valued for their pragmatism, have become ideologues, ‘Bolsheviks’ of the Right, as Daniel Cohn-Bendit once described them.” (Jean-Marcel Bouguereau, concerning Iraq, Le Nouvel Observateur, September 8, 2003)

  • Six months after its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration defended its policy on the basis of schools and hospitals opening and strides made in providing water and electricity. (Washington Post, September 25, 2003) — These are all things 12 years of US bombing and sanctions had destroyed.

Notes

  1. For a summary of much of this, see: Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s Ongoing Collusion With Terrorists“, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, August 7, 2011

  2. Camp Bondsteel entry on Wikipedia

  3. Washington Post, January 27, 2012

  4. Enbridge entry on Wikipedia; Washington Post, July 29, 2012

  5. Reuters, July 31, 2012

  6. Associated Press, July 6, 2012

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2

  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir

  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.

To add yourself to this mailing list simply send an email to bblum6 [at] aol.com with “add” in the subject line. I’d like your name and city in the message, but that’s optional. I ask for your city only in case I’ll be speaking in your area.

(Or put “remove” in the subject line to do the opposite.)

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I’d appreciate it if the website were mentioned.

False Flag Terror and Conspiracies of Silence

August 10th, 2012 by Prof. James F. Tracy

The news media’s readiness to accept official pronouncements and failure to more vigorously analyze and question government authorities in the wake of “domestic terrorist” incidents contributes to the American public’s already acute case of collective historical amnesia, while it further rationalizes the twenty-first century police state and continued demise of civil society.


Some may recall “Bugs Raplin” (Giancarlo Esposito), the resolute investigative journalist depicted in Tim Robbins’ 1992 political mockumentary Bob Roberts. After being framed as the culprit in a false flag assassination attempt by corrupt political huckster Bob Roberts (Robbins), Raplin delivers a perceptive soliloquy that among other things effectively describes the American public’s moribund civic condition and short-circuited democracy. “The reason Iran-Contra happened,” Raplin begins,

is because no one did anything substantial about Watergate. And the reason Watergate happened is because there were no consequences from the Bay of Pigs. They’re all the same operatives—the foot soldiers at the Bay of Pigs, the plumbers that got busted at Watergate, the gunrunners in Iran-Contra—all the same people, same faces. Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the connection here: A secret government beyond the control of the people and accountable to no one. And the closer we are to discovering the connection, the more Congress turns a blind eye to it. “We can’t talk about that in open session,” they say. “National security reasons.” The truth lies dormant in their laps and they stay blind out of choice. A conspiracy of silence.

Twenty years later amidst the vast outsourcing of intelligence and military operations many more events may arguably be added to such a shadow government’s achievements—the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, the September 11 terror attacks, the non-existent weapons of mass destruction prompting the occupation of Iraq, the July 7, 2005 London tube bombings, the shoe and underwear “bombings”—all of which have contributed to the official justification of imperial wars abroad and an ever-expanding police state at home.

Lacking meaningful contexts with which to understand such events in their totality the general public is incapable of recognizing the road it is being forced down. The most recent set of events that give pause are the horrific, military-style shootings in Aurora Colorado and Oak Creek Wisconsin that authorities maintain were carried out by “lone wolf” gunmen.

Operation Gladio in America?


A potential backdrop and precursor to the Colorado and Wisconsin events is the oft-forgotten Operation Gladio, a campaign involving US and British intelligence-backed paramilitaries anonymously carrying out mass shootings and bombings of civilian targets throughout Europe. Hundreds of such attacks took place between the late 1960s and early 1980s by “stay behind armies” of right wing and fascist saboteurs in an overall effort to terrorize populations, deploy a “strategy of tension,” and thereby maintain a centrist political status quo.[1] In the uncertain environment the petrified citizenry pled for stepped-up security and stood poised to part with personal freedoms. At the same time the maneuver allowed for political adversaries—in Gladio’s time socialist and communist groups—to be blamed for the attacks and thereby demonized in the public mind.

The string of still unresolved US political assassinations throughout the 1960s suggest how such practices were not restricted to foreign countries. Nor were they solely the terrain of intelligence agencies. Along lines similar to Gladio, in the early 1960s the US Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed Operation Northwoods, where terrorist attacks would be initiated against US civilians in American cities and the violence blamed on Cuban combatants to justify war against the island nation.[2] The Kennedy administration rejected the proposal. While Northwoods exhibited the capacity for government to conceive and propose such plans, Gladio was demonstrably carried out against Western civilian populations in multiple locations over many years.

Consideration of Gladio and Northwoods might be dismissed were it not for early eyewitness accounts following the Colorado and Wisconsin shootings contending how there were two or more killers present at each incident—testimonies contradicting official government narratives that have accordingly been suppressed in the public mind.[3]

As communications historian Christopher Simpson observes, “the tactics that created the [Gladio] stay behinds in the first place are still in place and continue to be used today. They are standard operating procedure.”[4] Such potential explanations will appear foreign to an American public that is systematically misinformed and easily distracted. And in times of crisis especially that very public is tacitly assured of its safe remove from such practices, looking instead to political authorities and experts to reestablish a stasis to the carefully constructed “reality” major media impose on the mass psyche.

In this alternate reality Gladio has effectively been “memory-holed.” A LexisNexis Academic search for “Operation Gladio” retrieves a mere 31 articles in English language news outlets—most in British newspapers. In fact, only four articles discussing Gladio ever appeared in US publications—three in the New York Times and one brief mention in the Tampa Bay Times. Barring a 2009 BBC documentary [5] no network or cable news broadcasts have ever referenced the maneuver.

Almost all of the articles related to Gladio appeared in 1990 when Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti publicly admitted Italy’s participation in the process. The New York Times downplayed any US involvement, misleadingly calling Gladio “an Italian creation” in a story buried on page A16.[6] In reality, former CIA director William Colby revealed in his memoirs that covert paramilitaries were a significant agency undertaking set up after World War II, including “the smallest possible coterie of the most reliable people, in Washington [and] NATO.”[7]

A Plausible Narrative / Conclusion


Gladio’s successful concealment for so many years demonstrates how mass atrocities can be carried out by a shadow network with complete impunity. Most incidents from the Gladio period remain unsolved by authorities. In the US, however, a plausible narrative appears to be required for public consumption. For example, just a few hours after the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials swept in and wrested the case from Oak Creek authorities by classifying it as an act of “domestic terrorism.”[8]. Less than twenty four hours later one of the federal government’s foremost de facto propaganda and intelligence-gathering arms—the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)—developed a storyline that was unquestioningly lapped up by major news media.[9]

In an August 6 Democracy Now interview with SPLC spokesman Mark Potok and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Don Walker, Potok explained in unusual detail how the alleged killer was involved in “white supremacist groups,” “Nazi skinhead rock bands,” and that the SPLC had been “tracking” the groups he was in since 2000. Potok’s remarks, which dominate the exchange and steer clear of the suspect’s experience in psychological operations, contrasted sharply with Walker’s, who more cautiously pointed out that the suspect’s “work in [US Army] PsyOps is still a bit of a mystery to all of us … We talked to a psychiatrist who said that [being promoted to PsyOps is] like going from the lobby to the 20th floor very quickly.”[10]

Like the Aurora Colorado storyline of a crazed shooter who expertly booby-trapped his apartment with exotic explosives, such appealingly sensationalistic narratives serve to sideline the countervailing testimonies of eyewitnesses and are difficult to contest or dislodge once they are driven home by would-be experts through almost every major news outlet.

A similar scenario played out in the wake of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing when the ATF, FBI and SPLC together constructed the dominant frame of Timothy McVeigh as the lone bomber, an account that likewise diverged with the local authorities’ initial findings, early news reports of unexploded ordinance and a mysterious accomplice of McVeigh, and the overall conclusions of the Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation Committee’s Final Report.[11] The narrative nevertheless served to maintain the political status quo while securing the Clinton administration’s second term in office. To this day most Americans believe McVeigh was solely responsible for the bombing despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


For its time Raplin’s prognosis was an accurate description of America’s cascading socio-political nightmare. Elected officials abdicate their responsibility of oversight for personal gain and thus perpetuate “a conspiracy of silence.” Yet over the past two decades, the quickening pace of “terrorist” events suggests how shadow networks have grown in boldness and strength, while each attack has contributed to the steady erosion of civil society and constitutional rights.

With this in mind both the mainstream and “alternative” news media, through their overt censorial practices, their consistent failure to place events in meaningful historical contexts, and their overall deliberate obeisance to dubious and unaccountable authorities, compound this conspiracy by ensnaring the public in questionable realities from which it cannot readily escape.

Notes

[1] Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, New York: Routledge, 2005; Richard Cottrell, Gladio: NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Progressive Press, 2012.

[2] James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, New York: Anchor Books, 2002, 83. For a recent applications see Michel Chossudovsky, “Syria: Killing Innocent Civilians as Part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Support for a R2P War,” GlobalResearch.ca, May 30, 2012,
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31122. Entire Operation Northwoods document available at
http://archive.org/stream/OperationNorthwoods/operation_northwoods#page/n0/mode/2up

[3] Overall sufficient scrutiny of the Colorado and Wisconsin shootings is entirely lacking save a handful of alternative news media. See Alex Thomas, “Wisconsin Sikh Shooting False Flag: Multiple Shooters, Army Psy-Ops, The FBI, Operation Gladio, and the SPLC,”  Intellhub.com, August 6, 2012,
http://theintelhub.com/2012/08/06/wisconsin-sikh-shooting-false-flag-multiple-shooters-army-psy-ops-the-fbi-operation-gladio-and-the-splc/
Jon Rappoport, “Shooting in Sikh Temple: Who Benefits Big Time?” August 5, 2012,
http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/shooting-in-sikh-temple-who-benefits-big-time/

[4] NATO’s Secret Armies, Andres Pichler, director, 2009. Simpson interview at 46:23,
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/09/18653266.php.

[5] NATO’s Secret Armies.

[6] Clyde Haberman, “Evolution in Europe: Italy Discloses Its Web of Cold War Guerrillas,” New York Times, November 16, 1990, A16.

[7] Stephen Lendman, “NATO’s Secret Armies” [A Review of Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, op cit.] September 15, 2010, http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/natos-secret-armies.html

[8] Steven Yaccino, Michael Schwirtz, and Marc Santora, “Gunman Kills 6 at a Sikh Temple Near Milwaukee,” New York Times, August 6, 2012, A1.

[9] For example, Erica Goode and Serge F. Kovaleski, “Wisconsin Killer Was Fueled by Hate-Driven Music,” New York Times, August 7, 2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/us/army-veteran-identified-as-suspect-in-wisconsin-shooting.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all,
Madison Gray, “Sikh Temple Shooter Identified, Had Ties to White Supremacist Movement,” Time News Feed, August 6, 2012,
http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/08/06/sikh-temple-shooter-identified-had-ties-to-white-supremacist-movement/,
Dinesh Ramde and Todd Richmond, SPLC: ‘Frustrated neo-Nazi Opened Fire on Sikh Temple,” Associated Press, August 6, 2012,
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/08/06/white-supremacist-opened-fire-on-sikh-temple/

[10] Amy Goodman, “Neo-Nazi Rampage: Army Psy-Ops Vet, White Power Musician ID’d as Gunman in Sikh Temple Shooting,” Democracy Now, August 7, 2012,
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/7/sikh_temple_shooter_wade_michael_page

[11] Charles Key, The Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, 2001. http://www.okcbombing.net/

James F. Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. Additional information is available at his blog, memorygap.org.

http://www.okcbom

Global food prices rose 6.2 percent in July, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reported Thursday. The FAO said it released its Food Price Index ahead of its regular publication schedule as a warning against the impact of such price rises.

The index, which calculates the cost of a basket of food commodities, overall averaged 213 points in July, up 12 points from June. In February 2011, the height of the Arab Spring, the overall index peaked at 238. The index has remained above the average 2008 level for more than a year and is now trending toward an all-time high.

Grain prices have driven the overall rise. The US corn crop is in a state of disaster, with more than half of all US acreage listed in poor or very poor condition due to a record-breaking drought. Under a parallel drought, Russia downgraded its wheat crop by several million tons on Wednesday.

The FAO cereal index averaged 260 points in July, up 17 percent over the month. Most of the increase is attributable to a 23 percent rise in corn prices over the month and a similar, 19 percent surge in wheat prices. The cereal index is only 14 points below the all-time high of 274 points in April 2008.

The FAO registered a 12 percent rise in sugar prices in July, triggered by unseasonably wet weather in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of cane sugar. Oils rose 2 percent, primarily on tighter supply outlooks and record prices for soybeans.

Price indexes for meats and dairy remained relatively unchanged for the month, although the protracted drought in the US rangeland has distressed many ranchers, who will be compelled to liquidate their herds. The US Department of Agriculture projects US consumer price inflation for meat, poultry, and dairy in the next few months as a result. Internationally, the higher cost of animal feed will ripple through livestock producers. This process may sharply affect Asia, where demand for meat is growing, but nations have smaller domestic stockpiles.

International food organization Oxfam warned in response to the FAO report that “millions of the world’s poorest will face devastation” from the increases. “This is not some gentle monthly wake-up call—it’s the same global alarm that’s been screaming at us since 2008,” Oxfam spokesman Colin Roche stated. “These figures prove that the world’s food system cannot cope on crumbling foundations. The combination of rising prices and expected low reserves means the world is facing a double danger.”

One billion people suffer from hunger worldwide. Hundreds of millions more who live in poverty are vulnerable to food inflation because they spend half or more of their incomes on staple goods. Food price shocks in 2008—driven by a confluence of weather disasters, protectionist measures, and speculators jumping ship from the financial market into commodities—produced food protests across more than 30 countries.

“There is a potential for a situation to develop like we had back in 2007-08,” FAO economist and grain analyst Abdolreza Abbassian told Reuters Thursday. “There is an expectation that this time around we will not pursue bad policies and intervene in the market by restrictions, and if that doesn’t happen we will not see such a serious situation as 2007/08. But if those policies get repeated, anything is possible.”

While economists and aid organizations have issued progressively dire warnings over the consequences of another food crisis, the underlying factors—extreme weather, a disjointed food distribution system, the possibility of export bans, and above all, rampant speculation—are more exacerbated than ever.

Indeed, commodities investors have rallied on the raft of bad news, making price shocks inevitable. Traders on the Chicago Board of Trade, banking on the USDA to issue a dire outlook on Friday, sent corn prices soaring Thursday morning to $8.265 per bushel, two cents below the all-time record set in July.

Major banks and hedge funds in particular have played a role in the rally. As Bloomberg News noted, “crops are the best-performing commodities this year, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Macquarie Group Ltd. and Credit Suisse Group AG say the trend will continue.”

One Chicago trader commented to Reuters that Goldman Sachs was leading the betting on a USDA corn yield downgrade and predicting $9 corn and $20 soybeans by November. “The Goldman roll started Tuesday, you have that going on and the report is tomorrow. Everyone is expecting the corn number to be pretty friendly.”

Jaime Miralles of investment firm Intl FC Stone Europe said that “a firm $9 corn sentiment remains as rationing is and will be required.” Other speculators anticipate $10 per bushel corn prices in the coming months.

“I think general price firmness is being seen in ahead of the USDA report because the market is increasingly realising how horrible conditions are for U.S. corn,” Rabobank analyst Erin FitzPatrick commented. “There is pre-positioning ahead of the report as people are expecting more cuts in US harvest forecasts. Despite recent rain in the US, a lot of the damage has already been done to corn.”

Farmers and agricultural economists estimate that corn yield in much of the Corn Belt will be far lower than the USDA’s already downgraded estimate of 146 bushels per acre. Some areas may yield 100 bushels per acre or less, knocking the national corn crop back to levels not seen in decades.

The US Drought Monitor reported that for the week ending August 7, fully 80 percent of the contiguous US is experiencing drought. “Every day we go without significant rain is tightening the noose,” said meteorologist Mark Svoboda, who authored the latest Monitor report. In Iowa, the largest corn producing state, the area suffering from extreme drought more than doubled in size. As of August 7, nearly 70 percent of the state was under the most severe category of drought. Over 81 percent of Illinois and fully 94 percent of Missouri is in “at least extreme drought.”

The USDA estimates that inventories of corn, wheat, soybeans, and rice will be reduced to 2008 levels next year. Wheat inventories are projected to contract 7.5 percent.

Wheat production in Russia, the fourth largest exporter, is set to fall by 20 percent this year. The Australian wheat crop, stunted by repeated frosts and poor weather, may yield 40 percent less than initial projections. India’s agricultural region suffered a monsoon season providing 22 percent less rainfall than average, resulting in a 7.8 million ton loss in the global rice crop. The FAO also reduced rice production forecasts for Cambodia, Taiwan, North and South Korea, and Nepal.

US-UK listed terror organization Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) fighters and commanders are clearly amongst militants underwritten by latest UK funding

In direct violation of both American and British anti-terrorism legislation, particularly provisions regarding providing material support for listed or proscribed terrorist organizations, the United Kingdom has just announced that it will provide armed militants that include listed terror organizations with a £5 million tranche of what it calls “non-lethal practical assistance.” 



Image: Little else could accentuate the hypocrisy and unhinged madness of US and British foreign policy more than  Foreign Secretary William Hague announcing his government’s decision to fund genocidal sectarian extremists murdering under the flag of Al Qaeda in Syria.
….
Both British and American journalists have clearly identified and documented the presence of foreign fighters with militant extremist ties pouring over the Turkish-Syrian border, most recently in an attempt to overrun the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. CNN, whose Ivan Watson accompanied FSA terrorists over the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo revealed that indeed foreign fighters were amongst the militants. It was admitted that:

Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.

A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

 CNN also added:

On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.

The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.

Foreign Policy magazine in an article titled, “The Syrian Rebels’ Libyan Weapon,” has gone as far as writing a two page profile on Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) commander Mahdi al-Harati and his role in leading the so-called “Free Syrian Army.” Also recently, the Council on Foreign Relations, a premier Fortune 500-funded US think-tank, wrote in their article, “Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria,” that: 

“The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.”

Clearly then, British aid is being sent to the FSA whose ranks are admittedly filled by Al Qaeda.

Also, to be clear, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is in fact an affiliate of Al Qaeda with its commanders having occupied the highest echelons of Al Qaeda’s command structure and having participated in every combat engagement Al Qaeda has conducted since its inception via US-Saudi cash and arms in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. This was documented meticulously in the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq.” 

LIFG is also listed by both the US State Department and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf) as a foreign terrorist organization and a proscribed terrorist organization respectively.

Foreign Policy’s admission of al-Harati’s role in organizing and leading the FSA in Syria, and the inclusion of Libyan terrorists in his brigade are by no means the only role LIFG is playing in the Syrian violence. LIFG commander Abdul Hakim Belhaj had visited the Turkish-Syrian border in late 2011 pledging Libyan arms, cash, and fighters to the FSA – with the nation of Libya itself having already become a NATO-created terrorist safe-haven. 

It is clear that LIFG, and by implication Al Qaeda, is playing a significant role in the violence in Syria, not only undermining the narrative of the unrest being an “indigenous” “pro-democracy uprising,” but also implicating foreign nations who are funding and arming militants as state sponsors of terrorism.

Included amongst these state sponsors of international terrorism are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Hariri faction in northern Lebanon, as well as the NATO-installed government of Libya. This also includes both the United States, who is admittedly providing cash and equipment for the FSA as well as coordinating efforts to arm militants, and now the UK once again with their latest announcement.

With an increasing number of overt atrocities being carried out by the FSA and its ranks of extremist sectarian militants, including kidnappings, abuses, and massacres observed recently in Aleppo, it is unconscionable for the West to even rhetorically back what is clearly a sectarian-driven conflict, let alone provide equipment, cash, and arms. However, British Foreign Secretary William Hague calls it, “the right thing to do.”

Syrian rebels arrest a man who is claimed to be traitor at an old military base near Aleppo

Image: The Western media is covering – or more accurately, “spinning” – an unfolding sectarian genocide in Syria’s largest city Aleppo. In the alleys of seized streets, FSA terrorists are detaining, torturing, and killing anyone suspected of supporting the government. Such suspicions coincidentally run along sectarian divisions. By using the label “Shabiha” for all of FSA’s victims, the Western press has given a carte blanche to genocidal sectarian extremists and by doing so, has become complicit in war crimes themselves. For the British, or any other nation for that matter, to provide the FSA with even rhetorical, let alone material support, is an egregious act of international terrorism.


It is unclear whether Hague means – violating the laws of his own nation to provide material support for known, proscribed terrorists is “the right thing to do” – or if he means it is “right” to perpetuate the bloodbath in Syria as prescribed by the US Fortune 500-funded think-tank, Brookings Institution in their “Middle East Memo #21,” which suggested the West “pin down the Asad regime and bleed it, keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.” Either way, the unhinged, morally bankrupted foreign policy of the Anglo-American establishment is on full display, undermining and irrevocably damaging the legitimacy of their collective institutions in the process.

A similar scenario unfolded in Libya, where LIFG terrorists were likewise carrying out a campaign of nationwide genocide with NATO providing air support. Similarly, by funding, arming, and coordinating acts of violence with LIFG fighters, NATO, and in particular, France, England, and the United States, were guilty of violating both their own respective anti-terrorism legislation, as well as international provisions against terrorism.

The brazen illegitimacy of NATO’s actions against Libya surely played a role in hobbling, perhaps permanently, the contrived geopolitical ploy of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) while simultaneously undermining the “primacy of international law.”

The protracted difficulty of the West to repeat their success in Syria can be perhaps owed in part to the unhinged policy and agenda pursued and exposed in Libya.


SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?
ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-08-15

ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK. The insurgency in Syria is based on the “Libya Model”: it is integrated by mercenaries and Al Qaeda affiliated paramilitary brigades supported by British, French and Turkish Special Forces…


The world cannot afford more victims of war
- 2012-08-15

People’s Tribunal and Assembly on the Cuban Five, Toronto, Sept 21-23
- 2012-08-15


The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER
- by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-08-14

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.


The Events of 9/11: Does the truth have a chance?
- 2012-08-12


“A Shift Towards a Gold Standard”? The FDIC-Fed’s “Proposed Rulemaking” regarding Basel III Capital Requirements
- by Bryant Brown – 2012-08-10

“Socratic Dialogue” and New York Times Style Debates
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-08-10

US, European powers press for intervention as Syrian army retakes Aleppo
- by Alex Lantier – 2012-08-10


Soldiers Who Refuse to Kill
- by David Swanson – 2012-08-10

Turkey Threatens Syria and Iran
Prime Minister Erdogan Slams Assad
- by Mohammad Noureddine – 2012-08-09


Palestine: Children are Precious, Fragile and Vulnerable
- by Elodie Radier – 2012-08-09


GRTV: From Hiroshima to Fukushima: Fighting the Dangers of Radiation
At 95 years of age, Dr. Hida is still fighting the same insidious invisible enemy
- by Dr. Shuntaro Hida – 2012-08-09


GRTV: Which CEO Made $5 Million Stealing Your Kid’s Lunch Money?
Public education dollars getting diverted to private profits
- 2012-08-09


America’s 2012 Great Drought
As Bad as During the 1930s Dust Bowl?
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-08-09


The Gulf State Despots: Ten Facts about Saudi Arabia
- by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-08-09

Egypt Terrorist Attack: Another Mossad False Flag?
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-08-09

Economic Crisis and Workers Rights in the Philippines
- by Roger Annis – 2012-08-09


Drone Strikes Very Much a Human Rights Issue
- by Martin Khor – 2012-08-09


“Orwellian Ramifications” Begin to Unfold in Syria
- by Ismail Salami – 2012-08-09


Will NATO and Turkey become Actively Involved in Syria War?
Interview
- by Rick Rozoff, John Robles – 2012-08-09


China’s leaders call for “stable growth” as economy slows
- by John Chan – 2012-08-08


Syrian army, US-backed opposition militias clash in Aleppo
- by Alex Lantier – 2012-08-08


How the Chosen Ones ended Australia’s Olympic Prowess and Revealed a Secret Past
- by John Pilger – 2012-08-08


The Death of Swiss Neutrality? Foreign Policy in the Service of Imperialism
- by Benjamin Schett – 2012-08-08


The Dispossessed Majority
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-08-08


GRTV: Yellow Brick Road: The Fed and A New Path to Debt Freedom
Exposing buried truths, manipulations, and fallacies about our economy
- by Ellen Brown – 2012-08-08


Help stop the media lies on Syria: War is NOT the answer
- 2012-08-08


Amnesty International: An Instrument of War Propaganda?
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2012-08-08

“The atrocities in Syria are mounting already,” according to Amnesty International USA, without acknowedging that the killings of civilians are committed by the US-NATO Free Syrian Army (FSA) rather than the government.


Palestine: Beyond the Two-State Solution
- by David Swanson – 2012-08-08


The Scramble for Africa: Another U.S. Battleground To Challenge, Supplant China
- by Boris Volkhonsky – 2012-08-08


Greece: Syriza Shines a Light
- by Hilary Wainwright – 2012-08-08


Turkey: NATO’s Neo-Ottoman Spearhead in the Middle East
- by Rick Rozoff – 2012-08-08

In bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria, Turkey provides NATO and the Pentagon direct access to those three nations. The final stage in the West’s Greater Missile East Initiative is now well underway, as is a new redivision of the Levant…


Drones Over Gaza: Searching for Dignity
- by Rajaie Batniji – 2012-08-08

Sectarian slaying: Syrian rebels attack Alawites, Christians – reports
- 2012-08-08


The Pentagon’s Map of Afghanistan: An Eldorado of Mineral Wealth and Natural Resources
- by Nikolai Malishevski – 2012-08-08


A Temple and a Mosque; Worship in America
- by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich – 2012-08-08


Former Israeli Cabinet Minister: “Israel Has Decided to Attack Iran”
- by Richard Silverstein – 2012-08-07

Turkey attacks Kurds, threatens military action against Syria
- by Chris Marsden – 2012-08-07


Perfecting The Method of “Color Revolutions”
Western leaders slip back into childhood
- by Thierry Meyssan – 2012-08-07

The Dark Heart Of The Libor Scandal
Why the Regulators Failed to Regulate
- by Mark Vorpahl – 2012-08-07


GRTV: West Attempts to Destabilize Syrian Government
Intimidation being used to produce regime change
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-08-07


GRTV: We are the Media Revolution: The Battle for Truth and Empowerment
Fair and balanced truth-telling, media freedom, history of media propaganda
- by Mickey Huff – 2012-08-07


Anglo-American 1957 Secret Plan to Assassinate the Syrian President. Déjà Vu?
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-08-07

The secret 1957 Plan called for the funding of a “Free Syria Committee” and the arming of a paramilitary army. The CIA and MI6 “would instigate internal uprisings”. “Internal disturbances” in Syria would be triggered through covert operations.


Chemtrails: Aerosol and Electromagnetic Weapons in the Age of Nuclear War
- by Amy Worthington – 2012-08-07

“Slow Democracy”
The focus of Clark and Teachout’s book is on moving decision-making powers to the local level
- by David Swanson – 2012-08-07

Syrian PM “Defection” Another PR Stunt
- by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-08-06


Conversations with Fidel Castro: Hiroshima and the Dangers of a Nuclear War
Hiroshima Day, August 6, 1945
- by Fidel Castro Ruz, Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-08-06


GRTV: Putting a Stop to Radiation Exposure Practices
Steps to take against the nuclear danger
- by Dr. Chris Busby – 2012-08-06


US Steps Up Sanctions, Says Iran Violates International Obligations
What Are International Obligations?
- by Danny Schechter – 2012-08-06


Iran and Everything Else
- by Michael Parenti – 2012-08-06


Growing Signs of a Global Economic Slump
- by Nick Beams – 2012-08-06


Chemical Warfare: Agent Orange in Vietnam
August 10, 51 Years After the Chemical War Began in Vietnam
- by Jeanne Mirer, Marjorie Cohn – 2012-08-06


Is America the World’s Largest Sponsor of Terrorism?
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-08-06

Syria And America’s New World Order
- by Yekaterina Kudashkina – 2012-08-06


UN General Assembly Vote On Syria: World Gone Unipolar – And Mad
- by Rick Rozoff – 2012-08-06

Economic Sanctions on Iran: A Declaration of War
- by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2012-08-06


The Ascendancy of a Criminal Financial Elite
The Two Faces of a Police State: Sheltering Tax Evaders, Financial Swindlers and Money Launderers while Policing the Citizens
- by Prof. James Petras – 2012-08-05

The Two Faces of a Police State: Sheltering Tax Evaders, Financial Swindlers and Money Launderers while Policing the Citizens


Massacres in Aleppo by Western-armed “Free Syrian Army”
- by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-08-05


Flashback: U.S. propaganda in the run up to the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Propaganda alert compiled by Cem Ertür
- by Cem Ertür – 2012-08-05


Economic Crisis: Austerity Measures Devastate Europe
- by Prof. William K. Black – 2012-08-05

New York Times Acknowledges that Syrian Opposition Is Targeting Christians and Other Minorities
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-08-05


New Delhi’s Secret “Black Project”: India’s Nuclear Weapons Program
- by Marya Mufty – 2012-08-05


The America and Israel Global War Project: “Mad Dog” Leaders Threaten Humanity
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-08-05


The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence
Hiroshima Day, August 6, 1945
- by Prof. Francis A. Boyle – 2012-08-05


Worldwide Financial Crisis: Libor Scandal goes Global
- by Robert Stevens – 2012-08-05


Russian Warships To Enter Syrian Harbor
- 2012-08-05


Day of Infamy at the UN General Assembly
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-08-05

Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance: Challenging the European Union Fiscal Pact
- by Jody Betzien – 2012-08-05


Syria’s “Liberated” Future: Ethnic-Religious Cleansing and Genocide
- by Shamus Cooke – 2012-08-05

US drought signals time for food sovereignty in China
- by GRAIN – 2012-08-04


Historic US drought deepens
- by Naomi Spencer – 2012-08-04


UN General Assembly targets Syria as US proxy war escalates
- by Alex Lantier – 2012-08-04


Rising Poverty and Social Inequality in America
- by Ann Robertson, Bill Leumer – 2012-08-04

UN Vote on Syria Reflects Changing Battlefield
UN Syria Resolution Signals Ebbing Western Legitimacy, Growing Western Aggression
- by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-08-04

What Happened at Srebrenica in 1995? Analysis of the Evidence
War Crimes Tribunal Exaggerates Number of Prisoners Captured by Bosnian-Serbs in Srebrenica Operation
- by Andy Wilcoxson – 2012-08-04

Annan’s Exit ‘Opens Gates’ for Intervention – Russian Ministry
- 2012-08-04


US and its Allies Setting Stage for Syria Invasion
- by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2012-08-03


Why Is the U.S. Government Funding Islamic Terrorists Who Are Killing Christians?
And Why are Christians in America Supporting a Government which Supports the Killing of Christians”
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-08-03

Sanctions: Diplomacy’s Weapon of Mass Murder
- by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich – 2012-08-03


Bureau of Labor Jobs Report: More Lies From “our” Big Brother
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-08-03

The West and the Glorification of Terrorism
- by Thierry Meyssan – 2012-08-03

In early August, the FDIC1 and the Fed2 issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” stating that it intends to adopt the Basel III3 capital requirements. The document is 250 pages long and is available on line; http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/bcreg20120607a1.pdf
 
It is important to analyze the potential implications of this document. Previous actions of the Basel Committee have had significant impact.
 
One commentator summarized this pending rule change this way;  ‘If this new rule is adopted as proposed, gold would shift… by the year 2015… (to) eventually place gold at the heart of global currency and payment systems — seemingly a shift back towards a gold standard. This action is a strong confirmation that gold’s primary trend will likely continue.’
 
A Brief History of the Basel Committee.
 
The central bank governors of the Group of Ten countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Sweden) meet from time to time. They signed the Smithsonian Agreement (Dec. 1971, the time of Richard Nixon) replacing the world’s fixed exchange rate (IE a dollar is worth a fixed amount of gold) with a floating exchange rate. The effect of the agreement was the abolition of the US dollar’s convertibility into gold making the dollar effectively a fiat currency (IE not backed by gold…. of no fixed value). The US went off the gold standard.
 
Again in 1974 the bankers met in Switzerland on the Rhine and established the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision; a committee of banking authorities to provide ‘…a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory matters’. Perhaps by coincidence but perhaps not, 1974 was the year in which the national debts of both the United States and Canada began to soar. It was the moment in history when, for some reason, both nations stopped printing money when they needed it and instead began to borrow it from the private banks. I’ve found no explanation for the identical policy change happening in both nations at the same time. 
 
A quick scan of the chart below, especially noting  the 30 years before the mid seventies meetings in Switzerland and 30 years after shows the result of the change in practice. The Canada chart is about the same.

 

The power of the Bank for International Settlements (sometimes called the bankers bank) to make or break economies was demonstrated in 1988, when it issued a Basel Accord raising bank capital requirements from 6% to 8%… Japan (was) the world’s largest creditor; but Japan’s banks were less well capitalized than other major international banks. Raising the capital requirement forced them to cut back on lending, creating a recession in Japan like that suffered in the U.S. today. Property prices fell and loans went into default as the security for them shriveled up. A downward spiral followed, ending with the total bankruptcy of the banks. The banks had to be nationalized, although that word was not used in order to avoid criticism.

Among other collateral damage produced by the Basel Accords was a spate of suicides among Indian farmers unable to get loans. The BIS capital adequacy standards required loans to private borrowers to be“risk-weighted,” with the degree of risk determined by private rating agencies; and farmers and small business owners could not afford the agencies’ fees. Banks therefore assigned 100 percent risk to the loans, and then resisted extending credit to these “high-risk” borrowers because more capital was required to cover the loans. When the conscience of the nation was aroused by the Indian suicides, the government … established a policy of ending the “financial exclusion” of the weak; but this step had little real effect on lending practices, due largely to the strictures imposed by the BIS…

Similar complaints have come from Korea. An article in the December 12, 2008 Korea Times titled “BIS Calls Trigger Vicious Cycle”described how Korean entrepreneurs with good collateral cannot get operational loans from Korean banks, at a time when the economic downturn requires increased investment and easier credit…

“Chang Ha-joon, an economics professor at Cambridge University, concurs with the analyst. ‘What banks do for their own interests, or to improve the BIS ratio, is against the interests of the whole society. This is a bad idea,’ Chang said in a recent telephone interview with Korea Times.”

Quote from an April 2009 article by Ellen Brown, The Tower of Basel

 
The Oxonian Revue wrote about (June 2012) a recent book entitled  The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and commented; ‘If you want to explore why European banking is in a crisis today, how 29 “too-big-to-fail” banks have come to dominate global finance, and what motivates regulators and central bankers behind closed doors, then this tome is for you….  Reform of capital rules within the Basel Committee is not merely a … technocratic exercise, but an arena in which national interests, power politics, and bargaining between major financial centers come to the fore.’
 
And more to the point is whose interests are going to be served by the Basel Committees upcoming rule changes? As always it will be the committee members; not the rest of us.
 
Notes 

  1. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. government agency that insures bank deposits in the US up to $250,000. http://www.fdic.gov/index.html
  2. The Fed; the U.S. organization that Ben Bernankes speaks for which is the parent organization overseeing 12 regional ‘feds’ http://www.federalreserve.gov/otherfrb.htm The Fed is owned by private banks through an elaborate process. http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/time_to_buy_the_fed.php
  3. Basel is the town in Switzerland where international meetings have been held on banking since 1970. The Basel Committee meets four times a year. Basel is also the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements. http://www.bis.org/   Basel III occurred in 2010 and 2011 in response to the financial failures of 2008.

 

“Socratic Dialogue” and New York Times Style Debates

August 10th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

French moralist/essayist Joseph Joubert (1754 – 1824) said it’s “better to debate a question without settling it than settle a question without debating it.”

He wasn’t alone. Debating is an ancient tradition. Socrates and Plato debated political, social, and other issues. The Socratic method involves opposing sides asking and answering questions.

Ideas are freely aired. Beliefs are challenged. Truths are sought. Critical thinking is stimulated. Opinions are formed. Conclusions are reached through free and open dialogue and discussion.

Debates should involve opposing sides given full opportunity to air views and challenge those of others. New York Times editors changed the rules.

Views contradicting state policy are prohibited. Constraints prevent truth and full disclosure. Public thinking and perceptions are manipulated and controlled. 

News and views are filtered. Acceptable residue only is reported. Dissent is marginalized. Government and corporate interests alone matter. Groupthink is sought. It manufactures consent and conformity despite contrary facts proving other conclusions.

On August 8, The Times headlined “How to End the War in Syria.” Socratic dialogue was absent. Three similar views were aired.

Former Assistant Secretary of State/current RAND Corporation International Security and Defense Policy Center director James Dobbins headlined “Step Up Opposition Support.”

RAND Corporation is a virtual shadow government. It supports militarism, imperial wars, and technocrat run world government. Its ideal world isn’t fit to live in. Views Dobbins expresses shows why.

Addressing Syria earlier, he compared it to Gaddafi’s Libya. In both countries, he said, “an aroused population” seeks ouster of a “long established dictator, and is being savagely repressed as a result.”

America has much to gain from regime change, “even more in Syria than in Libya,” he added.

On August 8, he repeated the same theme. He substituted Saddam’s Iraq for Libya. He described Syria as “a country divided by religion and ethnicity, held together by a brutal regime that is drawn from a minority element of the population, which has, in turn, profited at the expense of the majority.”

Equating Assad to Saddam or current regional despots is like calling hilly terrain Everest, Kilimanjaro, or McKinley. 

Dobbins gave it his best shot and failed. His rhetoric didn’t pass the smell test. His solutions contradict international and constitutional laws and norms. It was right out of imperial Washington’s playbook.

Promote peace by stoking conflict, he urged. “American ability to encourage a peaceful transition in Syria will likely be in direct proportion to the help the U.S. provides the opposition.”

“Washington needs to do more now than provide advice and nonlethal assistance….” Stopping short of endorsing Western intervention, he implied it.

Council on Foreign Relations Middle Eastern studies senior fellow Ed Husain headlined “Stop Fanning the Flames.”

Ideologically divergent insurgent fighters “have conflicting visions of what a post-Assad Syria should look like,” he says. Differences bode ill for Syria’s future, he added.

“Different factions in Syria must work together, while other countries supporting these factions should be wary of the power they yield.”

Syrians should decide their own fate, he urges. Pro-Western ones alone should choose. Perhaps he believes Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya provide templates for Syria. 

Husain represents monied interests. They seek dominance by any means. He’d prefer less violent and contentious ways of getting it. Nonetheless, he’s uncompromising on imperial goals.

FREE-Syria hardliner Rafif Jouejati headlined “Oust Assad with Plan in Place.”

Overthrow Assad, she urged. “No attempts to stabilize the country can be successful unless the originator of the armed conflict – Assad and the single-party system he represents – is deposed.”

Assad and millions of Syrians are victims of conflict. Western-recruited death squads bear responsibility. Syria was calm and peaceful before they arrived. Washington’s longstanding plan involves ravaging the country to control it.

Jouejati supports the scheme. “Assad must go,” she urges. Bring Syria “freedom, democracy and dignity,” she says. Perhaps she believes mass killing and destruction can achieve them. 

Her agenda, in fact, endorses imperial dominance. Her notion of democratic freedom is none at all.

Times articles, commentaries, editorials, and debates prohibit truth and full disclosure. One-sided views are presented. Stakes involved, international law, and other core issues aren’t addressed. 

The Times features news it calls fit to print except what readers most need to know. They’re betrayed. They’re treated like mushrooms – well-watered and in the dark. 

Journalism is sacrificed on the alter of monied interests uber alles and imperial wars waged to get them. America, other Western nations, Israel, and Middle East sheikdoms aren’t fit to live in. 

Power-hungry leaders want all societies transformed into one size fits all ones they control. Opposition isn’t tolerated. Neither are rule of law principles, human rights, and other democratic values. 

Orwell described their world best, saying “(i)f you want a vision of (their) future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

He also called truth “a revolutionary act” in times of “universal deceit.” Add betrayal when communication gatekeepers support elitist interests at the expense of everyone else.

A Final Comment

Syrians want peace, dignity, democracy, and free choice to decide who’ll lead them. Washington has other goals in mind. 

Longstanding objectives involve replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones it controls. Dark options are employed including war.

The battle for Syria rages. Violence ravages the country. Washington and other Western leaders spurn conflict resolution. No end of struggle looks imminent. Another nation is being destroyed to control it. 

Good news along the way is welcome. On August 9, SANA state media headlined “Armed Forces Take Control of Salah Eddin Neighborhood in Aleppo, Terrorists Crossing Border from Lebanon Repelled,” saying:

Syrian forces routed insurgents and took control of Aleppo’s Salah Eddin neighborhood. Other neighborhoods are being liberated. Progress is slow to minimize casualties and damage.

Nonetheless, insurgents suffered heavy losses. Some surrender. Large weapons caches are seized or destroyed.

A Mayer area storehouse was targeted. Insurgents used it to hold weapons. It was completely destroyed “along with seven trucks full of weapons and ammo which militants were unloading.” Many were killed during the operation.

SANA also said security forces and border guards “repelled two terrorist groups” trying to enter Syria from Lebanon. Many were killed or injured. Others fled back cross-border. 

Other parts of Syria are being liberated. Insurgents keep coming back. Confrontations continue. No end of struggle looks imminent.

On August 9, US Col. Doug Macgregor told Russia Today that Aleppo insurgents “are in serious trouble.” They’re no match for Syria’s military capability and tactics.

He called it the Arab world’s most competent and disciplined army. “That suggests that they probably moved to seal off the rebels in the enclaves in the areas that they currently hold.”

“To do that, they had concentrated armor and artillery for direct fire, not for indirect fire.”

“As long as the Syrians avoid any sort of future difficulties with the Turks along their borders, I suspect that (Prime Minister) Erdogan – however sympathetic he is to Sunni Islamist rebels….he will try to stay out of it.”

He faces considerable internal opposition. It’s not a majority to stop him. Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu heads Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP).

He strongly opposes intervention. “Why should Muslim nations” fight each other, he asks? Why is Turkey involved when Western interests harms their own? Kilicdaroglu also opposes Ankara forces in Afghanistan.

Turkey is one of 28 NATO countries. The organization operates as Washington’s imperial tool. It’s America’s missile. It’s an alliance for war, not peace. Membership means going along when asked. 

One day perhaps Turkey and other partners will fall on their swords sacrificially or otherwise. Living by them assures bad endings. 

Leaders taking those risks have no legitimacy to govern. Replacing them with others choosing peace, stability, security, and survival is urgent.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

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

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

Politicians and the media in the United States and Europe stepped up demands for direct military intervention in Syria yesterday, as the Syrian army fought to expel US-backed forces from the city of Aleppo.

Syrian army forces reportedly captured much of the Salahuddin neighborhood in southwestern Aleppo, a Sunni-majority neighborhood that was a central base for the groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some anti-Assad forces retired north towards the Sakkour district, though some reports stated that they continued to hold parts of Salahuddin.

Several hundred anti-Assad fighters were killed, amid reports that they were running low on ammunition and supplies.

Malek al-Kurdi, the deputy commander of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), told Voice of America: “We had wanted an active role from the international community to take a bold decision to stop the massacres in Syria. But the delay and the modest capacities of the Free Syrian Army have put the Syrian situation in a state of limbo.”

Syrian army units were also reportedly fighting north of Aleppo to cut off supply lines between the anti-Assad forces and Syria’s northern border with Turkey. Working with the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the European powers, Turkey is using the city of Adana—home of the US Incirlik air base—as a “nerve center” to reinforce the anti-Assad forces with munitions and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda forces play a critical role among the US-backed foreign fighters going to Syria (See also: Washington’s proxy in Syria: Al Qaeda).

The battle for Aleppo is particularly significant, given its strategic location next to Turkey and Aleppo’s role as a commercial center in the Syrian economy. The Syrian government must hold Aleppo if it is to prevent the United States and its allies from setting up bases in Syria along the Turkish border and resupplying their proxies with heavy weaponry.

Ruling circles in the United States and Europe have responded to their proxies’ setback in Aleppo by escalating calls for direct military intervention.

Yesterday, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for “rapid” foreign intervention in Syria to “avoid a massacre.” Sarkozy, who spearheaded last year’s NATO war in Libya, met with members of the US-backed Syrian National Council and issued a joint statement declaring that “there are great similarities with the Libyan crisis.”

Sarkozy’s intervention is highly unusual for a former French president, especially as Sarkozy had pledged to abandon public life after his defeat in May’s presidential elections. The move apparently caught the Socialist Party (PS) administration of President François Hollande off guard. Hollande’s policy was to continue covert support for the anti-Assad forces; like the Italian government, it recently sent medical teams to treat wounded FSA fighters.

Former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind also issued a statement calling for military support to the anti-Assad forces.

The Washington Post yesterday published an editorial, “Getting around a dead-end in Syria,” demanding US military action against Syria. Calling the Alawites leading the Syrian security forces a “broadly cohesive, hardcore fighting faction fighting an increasingly bitter, fierce, and naked struggle for collective survival,” it warned that Assad could fight indefinitely “unless the United States abandons its policy of passivity.”

The Post advocated arming the anti-Assad forces with anti-tank and anti-air weapons. It explained that this would increase Washington’s influence over anti-Assad forces, compared to the influence of Saudi Arabia and Islamist groups: “By refusing to step in, the Obama administration is merely ensuring that Syria’s future leaders will be more resistant to the West and perhaps more open to groups like Al Qaeda.”

Despite the Post’s intentions, its editorial lays bare the reactionary character of the US proxy war in Syria. Having armed reactionary forces like Al Qaeda as shock troops in a Sunni war against Syria’s Alawites, Washington sees no solution besides escalating the war.

The US is stoking a confrontation not only with the Assad regime, but with its key regional ally, Iran, and its Russian and Chinese backers. Yesterday the Iranian government hosted an international conference on Syria with Russian officials. Representatives of China, Algeria, Venezuela, India, Pakistan, and Tajikistan reportedly also attended the meeting.

Under these circumstances, it fell to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to fashion a “humanitarian” argument for Washington’s escalation of its reactionary proxy war in Syria. A spear-carrier for human-rights imperialism, Kristof wrote his most recent column, “Obama AWOL in Syria,” to demand that Obama organize a Libyan-style US intervention in Syria.

He began by recounting his visit to the Aspen Strategy Group, a Cold War think tank led by former Nixon and Bush administration advisor Lt. General Brent Scowcroft and former Assistant Defense Secretary Joseph Nye. Kristof wrote, “I’m struck by how many strategists whom I respect think it’s time to move more aggressively.”

These strategists include former Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Defense Secretary William Perry, who called for a “no-fly, no-drive zone in northern Syria.” Characteristically, Kristof did not spell out what this entails. However, it would mean setting up a US intervention force to shoot down any Syrian aircraft over Syria and destroy any Syrian vehicle moving in northern Syria without US approval; that is, it is an act of war.

Kristof explained, “There’s a humanitarian imperative. It appears that several times more people have been killed than in Libya when that intervention began, and the toll is rising steeply.”

This ambiguous phrase is consciously constructed to present US military aggression as an act of charity to limit civilian casualties. This is a contemptible lie, contradicted even by the casualty statistics that Kristof artfully does not present to his reader. Even the upper estimate of Syrian casualties presented by anti-Assad forces, at 20,000, stands well below the 50,000 killed in the US-led Libyan war, as NATO forces carpet-bombed Tripoli, Sirte, and other Libyan cities.

If the casualty total in Syria stands below the casualty count in Libya when NATO began bombing, this is because NATO intervened as fighting began in Libya, whereas the US has been stoking a bloody war fought by right-wing Sunni Islamist proxies in Syria for months. Should Washington begin bombing Syria—a far more populous country than Libya—casualties will soon mount beyond the massive death toll in Libya.

Kristof concludes, “Look, I’m no hawk. I was strongly against the Iraq war and the Afghan surge, and I’m firmly against today’s drift to war against Iran, But Syria, like Libya, is a rare case where we can take modest steps that stand a good chance of accelerating the fall of a dictator.”

Such comments only underscore the cynicism and dishonesty of the proponents of human rights imperialism. Proclaiming himself an opponent to “drift to war against Iran” and an advocate of “modest steps,” Kristof is promoting a deeply reactionary and bloody enterprise: US carpet-bombing of Syria, to bring victory to ultra-right Sunni forces in a sectarian war with Iran’s main Middle East ally, the Assad regime.

Soldiers Who Refuse to Kill

August 10th, 2012 by David Swanson

One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war.  Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse.  In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time.  Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.

Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty.  President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office.  Condon never “served” a day, in either the military “service” or prison.

Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist refused to fly to Iraq, choosing instead to sit down on the tarmac.  Ben Griffin from VFP’s new chapter in the U.K. refused to participate in our nations’ wars and has been issued a gag order.  He’s not permitted to speak, and yet he speaks so well. Mike Prysner of March Forward and Camilo Mejia of VFP here in Miami described their acts of resistance.

Mejia did us all the enormous favor some years back of putting his story down in a book — an extreme rarity, sadly, for peace activists with great stories to tell.  Mejia’s book “Road From Ar Ramadi” is a terrific introduction for anyone wondering why someone would sign up for the military and then refuse to kill people.  Mejia, who now works on domestic civil rights issues in Miami while remaining part of the antiwar movement (another rarity), is a co-convenor of the VFP convention. 

In October 2003, Mejia was the first U.S. soldier to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq.  At that time only 22 members of the U.S. military had gone AWOL from that war, a number that would quickly climb into the thousands as the war worsened and as belief in the various rationales offered for the war evaporated.  Soldiers also began to refuse particular missions that would be likely to kill civilians or to put themselves at risk for no purpose other than the advancement of a commander’s career — a commander safely giving orders from a base.  Veterans of the Iraq War would soon work with Veterans For Peace to form a new organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War.  But at the time of Mejia’s refusal to fight he stood virtually alone. 

Mejia joined the military largely for the very same reason most Americans do: the lack of other options.  He had worked his way through high school and community college.  But the government cut off his financial aid, and he couldn’t afford the college bills.  The Army offered him college tuition and financial security.  That was enough.  This son of Sandinista revolutionaries headed off to Fort Benning, the home of the School of the Americas, where he would train to kill for U.S. empire. 

Mejia learned to dislike the military. His commitment was due to end in May 2003.  But in January 2003, the Florida National Guard shipped off to begin the invasion of Iraq that President Bush was publicly pretending to try to avoid and privately concocting harebrained schemes to get started.  Mejia’s contract was extended to 2031 (not a typo), and he was sent to Jordan.  He was neither for nor against the military or the war in any simple sense.  He was aware of the massive peace demonstrations around the world.  He disliked many things about the military and about this particular war, which he believed was a war for oil.  But he was loyal and obedient, not yet convinced of the extreme immorality of the operation in which he was playing a part.

Mejia’s first experience in Iraq involved the abuse of prisoners.  He disliked these practices but did not resist.  Mentally he tried to brush them aside as the work of “a few bad apples.”  Or he tried to justify doing what he was doing out of loyalty to the soldiers around him. 

Mejia gradually became aware of Iraqis’ desire that the occupation end, but he believed it would end very quickly.  During an Iraqi protest, a young Iraqi man was about to toss a grenade, and Mejia aimed and fired — as did others around him.  The young man died instantly, but the trouble the incident aroused in Mejia’s soul did not.

Mejia was troubled by his fellow soldiers’ racist hatred of all Iraqis.  Innocent Iraqis were imprisoned and interrogated, when they weren’t shot.  Their dead bodies were mistreated by joking soldiers snapping photos with their prize pieces of flesh.  “It occurred to me,” Mejia writes of some Iraqis who observed such actions, “how upsetting it must have been for them to see their relative in the dirt, half naked and covered in blood, being laughed at and humiliated even in death.”

The beginnings of resistance among the troops arose out of their growing awareness that their commanders were using them in a competition for the most fire fights, the most kills, and the most prisoners.  The needs of this competition outweighed justice or even strategy.  Returning to base with innocent prisoners was far preferable to returning empty-handed.  There was no grander goal driving any operations, as far as the soldiers could see.  They went on patrols the entire purpose of which was to guard themselves as they patrolled.

As Iraqi resistance grew, so did U.S. fear, to the point where troops would fire even on unarmed children if the soldiers couldn’t be certain that the children posed no danger.  Mejia understood both points of view, and came to realize that in war the choices are bad or horrendous.  The only good choice, he began to see, is to not cooperate with war at all. 

At one point Mejia tried to explain to some Iraqis something he barely believed any longer himself, that the war was aimed at bringing “freedom” to the people of Iraq.  One of the Iraqis who knew something about Mejia’s situation pointed out that Mejia wished to leave the military and could not.  “So how,” this Iraqi asked, “can you bring freedom to us, when you don’t have freedom for yourselves?”  When Mejia took part in raids of Iraqi houses, he viewed the terror the Iraqis showed of U.S. capture and “detention” as misguided.  Surely prisoners would all be fairly tried and released if innocent, he told himself.  “As it turned out,” Mejia admits, “the families . . . knew my own army much better than I did.”

Yet the troops that left the bases knew more than the commanders who didn’t.  The latter, falsely believing that resistance was coming from outside the local area, ordered all the wrong roads blockaded to no purpose.  The soldiers who knew such decisions were wrong dared not say anything for fear of what challenging a “superior” can do to your career.

Mejia was able to return to the United States for two weeks’ leave.  He went AWOL with assistance from peace groups, and turned himself in to face possible imprisonment.  He’d “served” more than the eight years he’d agreed to.  And he believed the war was killing human beings for no useful purpose whatsoever. 

A mockery of a charade of a pretense of a trial convicted Mejia and sentenced him to 1 year in jail.  “That day,” as he went to jail, Mejia recalls, “I was free, in a way I had never been before.”

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.