New York, (SANA)- The UN General Assembly Tuesday, once again, adopted a resolution demanding the Israeli occupation to withdraw from the whole occupied Syrian Golan to the line of June 4th, 1967 according to the UN security council relevant resolutions, stressing that the Israeli continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and annexing it is an obstacle in front of the achievement of a just, comprehensive peace in the region.

In a resolution titled “the Syrian Golan” which was proposed under the item “the state in the Middle East”, UNGA condemned Israel’s non-obedience till now to the Security Council resolution No. 497 for 1981, stressing that Israel’s decision issued on December 14th, 1981 to impose its laws, administration and custody on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void which has no legality at all.

The UNGA resolution which has been adopted with big majority-112 states voted in favor of it- reaffirmed the basic principle of disallowing acquiring territories through force, in light of the internal law, the UN charter and Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians during war in the occupied Syrian Golan.

During the UNGA session, a number of states condemned the Israeli practices in the occupied Syrian Golan, calling on Israel to withdraw from Golan into the line of June 4th, 1967.

The Art of War: Here is ‘a More Secure World’

November 27th, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

Finally, “diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.” The good news was announced a month before Christmas by Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama that he had just made the world a safer place — so he could proceed with improving the hundreds of nuclear bombs that the United States still keeps in Europe: the B61 -11 have been transformed into B61 -12, which can be also used as bunker-busting bombs in a nuclear first strike.

This falls under the Obama administration’s “roadmap” for maintaining U.S. nuclear supremacy. The U.S. has about 2,150 nuclear warheads deployed, that is, ready to launch using missiles and bombers, plus a further 2,500 stockpiled in warehouses, but which can be quickly activated and an additional 3,000 that were withdrawn but not dismantled that can be reactivated: in total about 8,000 nuclear warheads.

Russia’s arsenal is comparable, but has fewer warheads ready to launch, only about 1,800. The new START treaty between the U.S. and Russia does not restrict the number of operational nuclear warheads in the two arsenals, but only those ready to launch on strategic carriers with a range greater than 5,500 km (3,418 miles): the ceiling was established at 1,550 warheads each, but is actually higher because each heavy bomber is counted as a single warhead, even if it carries twenty or more bombs. The treaty leaves open the possibility of improving the quality of nuclear forces.

To this end the U.S. is installing an anti-missile “shield” in Europe, ostensibly to neutralize an Iranian attack (something impossible at present), in reality in order to achieve a strategic advantage over Russia, which is taking countermeasures. In addition to the U.S. warheads, NATO has about 300 French and 225 British nuclear warheads, almost all ready to launch.

Israel — which is the only nuclear power in the Middle East and, unlike Iran, does not adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty — has an estimated 100 to 300 warheads with their vectors and produces enough plutonium to manufacture 10 -15 bombs each year like the one used in Nagasaki; it also produces tritium, a radioactive gas used to manufacture neutron warheads, which cause minor radioactive contamination but a more lethal dose.

At the same time the nuclear confrontation is developing in the Asia/Pacific region, where the United States is carrying out a military escalation. China has a nuclear arsenal, estimated at about 250 warheads, and about 60 intercontinental ballistic missiles. India has about 110 nuclear warheads, Pakistan 120, North Korea probably a few warheads.

In addition to the nine countries in possession of nuclear weapons, there are at least 40 others in a position to build them. In fact there is no clear separation between civilian and military use of nuclear energy and highly enriched uranium and plutonium suitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons can be obtained from reactors. It is estimated that the world has accumulated enough of such materials to produce more than 100,000 nuclear weapons, and it continues to produce these materials in increasing amounts: there are over 130 “civilian” nuclear reactors that produce highly enriched uranium, suitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

This is the world that “became more secure” because the five major nuclear powers plus Germany (which has provided Israel with nuclear attack submarines), have concluded an agreement according to which “Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.”

 Translation: John Catalinotto

As the fallout continues over the cancelation notices sent to millions of people covered by health plans in the individual insurance market, it is becoming clear that millions more workers and their families are expected to lose their employer-based coverage as the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 156 million Americans—more than half the population—currently receive employer-sponsored health insurance. By 2016, the CBO projects that 6 million fewer people will receive employer-based health insurance compared to 2013.

Other business surveys place the number losing coverage much higher. A recent survey of 400 mid-size firms by the US Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association found that 28 percent planned to drop their coverage due to the ACA.

In tandem with the legislation commonly known as Obamacare, a seismic shift is taking place in the employer-sponsored health care market, the means by which the majority of Americans who are not insured under a government-sponsored program like Medicare or Medicaid receive coverage. For those workers who have not seen their coverage canceled outright, companies are already shifting greater costs for coverage to their employees.

Workers and their families who are dropped from employer coverage will be forced to purchase coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. Under the so-called individual mandate of the health care law, workers without some form of insurance must purchase coverage from private insurers on the insurance exchanges set up under the ACA, or pay a penalty.

The debacle at the HealthCare.gov web site, where consumers can shop for coverage, may actually be temporarily delaying some employers from terminating health coverage for their workers. When and if the technical difficulties are resolved at the federal site, more companies may opt to dump their workers onto the Obamacare exchange.

Beginning in 2015, the ACA will also require employers with 50 workers or more to provide “affordable” coverage to full-time workers—those working 30 hours a week or more—or face a penalty. But it is likely that a significant number of businesses will simply pay the fine and drop their employee coverage. The Hill quotes Neil Trautwein, vice president and employee benefits policy council at the National Retail Federation, who said, “It will definitely be less expensive to pay penalties than to provide coverage.”

Other companies are expected to cut employee hours below the 30-hour minimum to avoid having to provide insurance coverage. The Chamber of Commerce survey found that about a third of businesses have already reduced employee hours as a result of the health care law’s requirements, and 27 percent have already replaced some full-time employees with part-time workers.

Employers are also raising the costs for covering family members on their workers’ policies. The ACA defines affordability of employer-sponsored coverage as costing no more than 9.5 percent of a worker’s income. But this is the cost of coverage for the individual employee only, not his or her dependents. Companies can get around the law by either raising costs for family coverage, or by dropping coverage for family members altogether.

According to Mercer, a benefits consulting unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos., about 6 percent of employers presently ban coverage for spouses who can get it elsewhere. Last August, United Parcel Service announced that it was barring spouses from its nonunion health plan if they could get coverage at their own jobs. It is estimated the move affects about half of the 33,000 spouses of white-collar employees at UPS.

Companies are also radically restructuring their health care plans in advance of Obamacare’s “Cadillac” tax. Beginning in 2018, companies with health plans that have total costs of more than an annual limit of $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family will pay a 40 percent levy on the amount exceeding these limits. White House officials say that the tax is aimed at making employers and workers more “cost-conscious.” In other words, it is deliberately designed to get more companies to adopt high-deductible plans that discourage people from seeking medical treatment due to cost, thereby rationing care.

A survey by the International Foundation of Employees Benefits Plans (IFEB) released in August found that 16.8 percent of those businesses responding had already begun to restructure their health plans to avoid the “Cadillac” tax, and 40 percent were considering such action. A survey of Fortune 1000 companies by benefits consulting firm Towers Watson found that 60 percent of these major companies, employing about 20 million workers, said the impending tax was already having a “moderate” or “significant” influence on decisions regarding benefits for 2014 and 2015.

While employers have been shifting health care costs onto their workforces since at least the late 1980s, the Affordable Care Act is providing the framework and impetus for making even more dramatic changes. The main methods employed are increasing employees’ share of premium costs, and increasing deductibles and other cost-sharing mechanisms.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Gannett Co., owners of more than 80 newspapers and 23 television stations, has replaced its two family plans at the Indianapolis Star with a single high-deductible plan that requires workers to pay the first $3,000 of medical costs each year. Those with individual plans are responsible for the first $1,500 of costs. Trucking company Ryder System Inc. has also replaced one of its two insurance options with a high-deductible plan, and hiked the cost of the remaining option.

President Obama’s top economic adviser, Jason Furman, commented cynically to NBC News, “There’s nothing in the law that tells you you need to raise copayments or deductibles.” But there is nothing in the law that stops companies from raising the costs that workers must bear for health insurance, all the while receiving reduced benefits and inferior medical care.

These radical shifts in the way employer-sponsored health care is being delivered are another indication of the regressive character of the Affordable Care Act. Touted as a plan that would promote “affordable,” “near universal” heath care, in reality, the legislation is tailored to the profit interests of employers and the health care industry, while reducing and rationing care for the vast maority of workers and their families.

US Sends B-52s to China’s Air Defence Zone

November 27th, 2013 by John Chan

In a deliberately provocative move, the US announced yesterday that two B-52 strategic bombers conducted a training mission over the disputed Senkakus islands (known as Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea, just days after Beijing declared an “air defence identification zone” (ADIZ) covering the area.

The Pentagon’s claim that it was a routine planned mission lacks any credibility. The overflight was clearly designed to challenge China, in line with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s statement that the US Air Force would simply ignore the Chinese rules in the zone.

The two B-52 bombers, which are designed to carry nuclear bombs and nuclear cruise missiles, flew from and returned to Guam, the key US base in the Pacific. The flight was aimed at sending an intimidating message to Beijing that the US would support Japan in a war against China over the Senkakus. In his statement, Hagel also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the US-Japan Security Treaty.

In announcing the ADIZ, China stated that any foreign aircraft passing through the zone had to submit flight plans, indicate nationality and maintain radio contact, or they could face emergency military measures.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told the media that the two B-52s deliberately defied the air zone rules: “We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus. We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies.” The Chinese government’s initial reaction is to downplay the incident, simply claiming it had monitored the entire flight.

The dangers of the B-52 overflight are all too obvious. If China responded by scrambling fighters to the area and the US military called in fighters from nearby Japanese bases, the incident could have led to an aerial clash with far-reaching and potentially catastrophic ramifications.

American allies in Asia backed Washington’s decision to ignore China’s ADIZ. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared in the Diet on Monday: “We demand China revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace.”

Putting civilian aircraft at risk, Abe’s government intervened to stop Japanese airlines submitting flight plans to Beijing. Transport Minister Fumio Kishida declared: “I believe it is important for the public and private sectors to cooperate in showing our firm resolve to China.”

The South Korean defence ministry indicated its aircraft would also not obey Chinese directives. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop summoned the Chinese ambassador to criticise the ADIZ, saying: “Australia has made clear its opposition to any coercive or unilateral actions to change the status quo in the East China Sea.”

China’s decision to declare the ADIZ was also provocative. In part, the announcement was a response to Japanese remilitarisation under the Abe government, encouraged by the Obama administration, and rising tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands following their “nationalisation” by Tokyo last year. Over the past two months in particular, the US and Japan have strengthened their military allaince, including proposals for Japan to develop “pre-emptive strike” capabilities and additional deployment of US warplanes to Japan.

At the same time, the new Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping is seeking to appease its nationalist constituency among layers of the affluent middle classes. Xi is seeking to portray himself as a “strong” leader who will not back down before foreign “bullies.” Fearful of social unrest, the isolated regime—representing a tiny layer of billionaires and multimillionaires—relies on Chinese nationalism as the ideological means of suppressing class differences and containing the opposition of working people to its pro-market agenda.

The B-52 intrusion came after Chinese media reports yesterday of a large-scale Chinese air drill involving several dozen fighter jets in the newly proclaimed ADIZ. At the same time, the Chinese navy said its Liaoning aircraft carrier would conduct a training exercise in the South China Sea, accompanied for the first time by a battle group of four escort warships.

Two US nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the USS George Washington and USS Nimitz, and their battle groups are also in the South China Sea, in the name of providing humanitarian relief to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. The US has encouraged the Philippines and Vietnam to assert their claims against China over the Spratly and other islands in the South China Sea, where China is also considering the establishment of an air defence zone.

Washington’s escalation of tensions with China over the East China Sea ADIZ is in stark contrast to the claims that the recent nuclear accord with Iran is a step toward global peace and stability. In reality, the US is attempting to cut a deal with Iran in order to focus its diplomatic and military resources on its prime concern—the “pivot to Asia,” aimed at isolating and containing its main potential rival, China.

The US decision to back off imminent strikes against Syria in September, followed by Obama’s absence from the key Asian summits in October due to the US government shutdown, raised concerns across the Indo-Pacific about America’s commitment to the “pivot.” This situation is unacceptable to the US ruling elites, which have identified the Indo-Pacific region as the 21st century’s global economic axis and an area that they must dominate.

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea and China next week in order to re-assure key allies in the region. Obama himself will carry out a major trip to Asia next April. Announcing Obama’s tour last week, US national security adviser Susan Rice declared: “Rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific remains a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s foreign policy… No matter how many hotspots emerge elsewhere, we will continue to deepen our enduring commitment to this critical region.”

Like yesterday’s B-52 overflight, Rice’s comments are a warning that the US will not hesitate to use every means to ensure its continued hegemony in Asia.

It has been a frustrating couple of weeks, watching, listening and otherwise searching in vain for any balanced media coverage within the many JFK retrospectives that have been offered up on TV, radio and newspapers about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Somehow, despite the deafening silence from most every authority figure you can think of (both national and local) and the well-orchestrated cover-up about the obvious conspiracy to kill JFK, large percentages of the US public, despite the constant brain-washing attempts, still know for certain that there was a conspiracy (Definition: a plot between two or more individuals or organizations to perform an illegal act).

There is a large body of evidence, including scores of well-documented books, that has been available since 11/22/63, that has been challenging the slanted major media-orchestrated myth of the lone assassin. Essentially none of that evidence was allowed to be broadcast on national, regional or even local media outlets during the past few weeks (with rare exceptions, including good discussions on the subject on last week’s John Gilbert morning show on Duluth’s KDAL-AM radio and a few mumbled comments on  PBS’s McLaughlin Report doubting the conclusions of the deeply flawed Warren Commission).

No critical thinking allowed. The case is closed

The political and corporate powers-that-be that are in control of the national and regional media seem to want as many of us citizens as possible to believe the easily disprovable Big Lie Theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone crazed assassin and that Jack Ruby acted alone in silencing Oswald before he could publically expose information about his handlers. What has often been presented as fact are often just simplistic but very well-crafted 20 second sound bites that urge us well-indoctrinated citizens  to believe any and all authority figures, politicians and commercial advertisers. No critical thinking skills are required – or allowed. Case closed.

Last week I watched three PBS retrospectives, including Frontline’s “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” (which assumed that the alleged assassin was indeed the loner ex-Marine Oswald) and NOVA’s seriously flawed, pseudoscientific “ballistics special” that supposedly “proved” the absurd single bullet theory.

NOVA, it should be mentioned, is underwritten by the far-right-wing, Kennedy-hating funders of the Tea Party “rebellion”, the multi-billionaire David Koch. Note also that the father of the infamous Koch brothers was a charter member of the leftist-hating, racist John Birch Society. (For more on the Koch brothers’ smothering attack on democracy, watch “Koch Brothers Exposed”, a hard-hitting Robert Greenwald (Brave New Films production) documentary that PBS was scheduled to air last year, and then “mysteriously” cancelled.

For information on that scandalous cancellation, click on http://www.juancole.com/2013/05/scandal-brothers-exposed.html .

To watch the “controversial” video, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTwqkl8BqSc (Preview) .

 Just move along, there is nothing to be seen here

I also watched the available JFK retrospectives that were broadcast on NBC, CBS and ABC, and I was uniformly disgusted (predictably) at the attempts that tried to convince us comfortably numb, TV-mesmerized folks to nod our heads and accept the official stories. None of the evidence referenced in this article was allowed to be shown. Total censorship has been the norm.

The JFK assassination experts, scholars, researchers, critical thinkers and assorted patriots who hate tyranny and who want to have all the facts fairly presented have been consistently dismissed as “conspiracy theorists” even though the evidence (that they were not allowed to present) would prove the existence of a conspiracy.

For example, JFK’s brain and/or parts of his skull were exploded backwards (out of a large exit wound in the back of the skull) onto the trunk of the presidential limo (which is the reason why Jackie was famously seen on film footage turning around and reaching backwards).

The Secret Service agent, Clint Hill, consistently testified that Jackie was not reaching for him, but for fragments of JFK’s brain (which she was retrieving in the vain hope that it could be somehow used by doctors to save her husband’s life). The testimony of the involved physicians and other witnesses at Parkland Hospital confirms that there was an entry wound in the right front of JFK’s head and a blow-out wound in the back of the head.

These same medical experts testified to the tiny (“1/4 inch”) entrance wound in the front of the neck. Such testimonials prove conclusively that two of the shots that killed JFK came from the front. Hence, a conspiracy.

Watch this 60 Minutes video of Clint Hill’s testimony about what Jackie was doing on the back of the limousine: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfrHqqzC3Sw (Preview)

Guilty TV Talking Heads are part of the conspiracy cover-up

One of the most frustrating moments for me was Bob Schieffer’s Sunday morning (11-17-03) Face the Nation interview with eyewitness Ronald Jones, MD, one of the surgeons that attended JFK (all of whom, by the way, testified to the existence of a small entry wound in JFK’s throat). Dr Jones was able to briefly mention the “1/4 inch” entry wound in JFK’s throat (all physicians, especially trauma surgeons, know that gunshot entry wounds are small, and gunshot exit wounds are large) but Schieffer failed to ask the obvious follow-up question that every alert viewer knew needed to be asked: “Dr Jones, what conclusions need to be drawn from the tiny wound in the neck?”

Check out minute four at: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50159338n.

Of course, either of those wounds conclusively disproves both the single shooter and the magic bullet theories that Schieffer has obediently reported on during his entire career (as has also been true for every other talking head on TV, politician, CIA agent or Pentagon official) who was afraid of being fired, demoted or disappeared if they revealed unwelcome truths that might besmirch his country or embarrass his paymasters.

It should be important for citizens who should be exposed to the non-corporate side of the story to consult some of assassination scholar and retired philosophy professor Jim Fetzer’s powerful documentation disproving the official story.

Read some of that evidence at http://www.und.edu/org/jfkconference/UNDchapter30.pdf.

There are many people and powerful institutions that want to have the past forgotten forever, whether they were guilty, complicit or simply knowledgeable – and silent – about what they knew.  Members of Kennedy’s Secret Service, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the FBI, the Dallas Police Department and the Mafia who might still be alive and prosecutable if their involvement were to be revealed.

Current information says that many Warren Commission, CIA and FBI documents have already been destroyed; but there are more than a thousand documents with secret information in them that remain sealed. They are due to be released in 2017.

For more on this subject, check out: http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-warren-commission

Earl Warren, a close friend of the Kennedy family (who didn’t want any evidence brought before the commission that would embarrass the family), said:

“There will come a time when testimony taken by the Commission will be made public. But it might not be in your lifetime. There may be some things that would involve security. This would be preserved but not made public.”

And listen to some 1968 quotes and warnings from comedian and JFK assassination expert Mort Sahl. Sahl was black-listed after JFK’s death when he came out publically disputing the Warren Commission’s “lone assassin” theory:

“Once the neo-fascists became bold enough to slay the President on the street, they showed their hand. They showed how arrogant they had become.”

“(America) has to hang on through a period of the military and the CIA who have a blank check trying to sell fascism. If she can hang on long enough, Americans may yet live in the country in which they were born. And that is the country structured by Tom Paine and Tom Jefferson.”

“(Fascism in America) started with the death of Roosevelt. They moved in and they negated every treaty we made with every world leader who didn’t fit the fascist/militarist mold.”

 To read the transcript of a 1968 interview with Sahl, go to: http://www.assassinationscience.com/AnHistoricalPerspective-MortSahl.html

One of the best recent articles exposing the conspiracy to kill JFK was written by Kevin Barrett, one of the most knowledgeable 9/11 Truth-seeking scholars that I know. It was published on Nov 20, 2013 on www.presstv.com, an alternative media outlet that is not beholden to large corporations. Below are excerpts of the article, which was titled “Jury Verdict Proves CIA killed JFK”. Excerpts follow and the entire text can be accessed at: http://presstv.com/detail/2013/11/20/335614/jury-verdict-prove-cia-killed-jfk/

Barrett writes:

“As the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) assassination approaches, the American people and the American media are living in two different worlds.

“The corporate media is still pushing the myth that JFK was killed by a communist lone nut named Lee Harvey Oswald. But most of the American people are not buying it. Since the early 1990s, a strong majority of Americans has believed that JFK was killed by a conspiracy and that the CIA had a hand in it.

“The American people are right.

“Overwhelming evidence confirms that the JFK assassination, like the assassinations and overthrows of so many of the world’s best leaders, was a CIA operation. But the American media – including the foundation-funded pseudo-alternative media – is reluctant to report the evidence.

“At least fifty people have been murdered to cover up the CIA’s assassination of JFK, as explained in the book ‘Hit List’ by Richard Belzer and David Wayne. A few of them, including Dorothy Kilgallen and Mary Meyer, were journalists or writers who were poised to blow the case wide open. But in the US stealth police state, unlike overt police states, psychological rather than physical means are usually employed to silence serious opposition.

“The CIA has covered up the JFK assassination by brainwashing the public into believing ‘we’ll never really know the truth.’ To that end, it has spread vast amounts of disinformation, including ludicrous theories that JFK’s wife Jackie, or limousine driver William Greer, fired the fatal shots.

“The media mockingbirds endlessly repeat the mantra, ‘But surely, in a conspiracy as large and complex as you’re suggesting, someone would have talked!’ They hope the public will not bother to learn that a great many whistleblowers HAVE talked – including some who paid with their lives.

 “Several people involved in the CIA’s assassination of JFK have confessed, including Chauncey Holt, David Sanchez Morales, and even Lyndon Johnson. But the star witness among the confessed JFK assassins is CIA officer E. Howard Hunt, who, on February 6th, 1985, was legally found by a jury to have participated in the CIA’s assassination of JFK.

“Hunt explained to his son that he first learned of the CIA assassination plot against Kennedy at the JM Wave CIA station in Miami, Florida. Several CIA personnel there, including William “Wild Bill” Harvey, asked Hunt to help them develop and perfect the logistics of the assassination operation. After at first expressing reluctance to kill his own Commander-in-Chief, Hunt finally acquiesced and applied his considerable skills as an assassination-orchestrator and overthrower-of-governments to the CIA plot against the President. On November 22nd, 1963, Hunt was in Dallas; his role included paying one of the gunmen.

“Why did the CIA kill JFK? As Hunt explained, everyone in the CIA loathed President Kennedy, who had left over 1400 CIA mercenaries to be slaughtered or captured during the Bay of Pigs debacle, and who was pushing “treasonous” plans for peace with Cuba, Vietnam, and even the Soviet Union. Additionally, Kennedy was going all out to shut down Israel’s nuclear weapons program, trying to end the Federal Reserve’s private currency monopoly, and threatening oilmen’s profits by ending the depletion allowance. Though the American people loved JFK, America’s corrupt elite hated him.

“Hunt’s confessions, including his handwritten and tape-recorded summaries of his involvement, are supported by a great many independent sources, including Brad Ayers, a CIA man stationed at the Miami JM Wave station prior to the assassination. In his book ‘The Zenith Secret’, Ayers describes the CIA plot against JFK, and names the same names as Hunt. (Ed. note: Some of this information about the Hunt confession can be read at: http://www.rense.com/general76/hunt.htm.)

“The confessions of E. Howard Hunt are just one of the dozens if not hundreds of ‘smoking guns’ proving beyond all possible doubt that the CIA was at the center of the coup d’état against JFK. For more details about Hunt’s confessions, you can listen to my interviews with St. John Hunt, which are available on-line at No Lies Radio http://noliesradio.org/archives/72262. (Ed note: Kevin Barrett interviews James Douglass, author of “JFK and the Unspeakable”. The interview is archived at: http://noliesradio.org/archives/39269.)

“As long as the American people imagine that there is still some small shred of doubt about the JFK case, they will never rise up and overthrow the military-industrial-intelligence complex (including the mainstream media brainwashing apparatus) that has stolen their democracy.”

Here’s what it looks like when a respected reporter tweets about his blackmail note to an established anti-war organization regarding the organization’s upcoming conference in a tweet on November 15:

 The reporter is Jeremy Scahill, who was booked as the keynote speaker and to show his film “Dirty Wars” (based on his book “Dirty Wars”) at the November 30 International Anti-War Conference in London, put on by Stop the War Coalition (STWuk), which was first organized in 2001 in opposition to an American attack on Iraq. More than 12 years later, the coalition notes dryly on its webpage for the conference, “We need more effective anti war resistance internationally. This conference is a chance to analyse, build links and lay plans.”

Scahill’s threat to boycott the conference soon became moot the following day, when the dreaded Mother Agnes withdrew from participation. Her letter read, in part:

“It has come to my attention that my participation in your conference has become a matter of serious contention, even prompting some other speakers to consider withdrawing. This is apparently due to a campaign of cruel and unsubstantiated accusations which seek to work against my efforts and those of the Musalaha (Reconciliation) Initiative in Syria.

  “The basis of our work toward peace is reconciliation and forgiveness. This means extending an olive branch to some who may initially refuse it, and accepting an olive branch from others who are despised, even by our friends….

  “Some may feel that an injustice will be done if I speak at your conference. Others may think that injustice will be done if I do not. Because my participation in your conference may be used by some to distract from your valuable efforts towards peace, non-violence and reconciliation, I believe it best to withdraw from participation.”

Why did Stop the War invitation to nun working to stop war raise objections?

Push comes to shove, and Mother Agnes is an apparent pushover.  She’s also not flogging a movie.  And the abuse she’s suffered online was as real as the pressure on Scahilll and others to have nothing to do with her. It’s hard to find any evidence that Mother Agnes has committed anything worse than what others consider thought-crimes and politically incorrect observations, some of which are actually correct.

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross is a Carmelite nun and mother superior of the Monastery of James the Mutilated in Qara, Syria, which has a community of three monks and twelve nuns. Born in Lebanon in a refugee camp 61 years ago, she is Palestinian on her father’s side and has worked in Syria for about 20 years. She is the spokesperson for the Catholic Information Center in Beirut, where the Musalaha Initiative also has its office. Mother Agnes became a nun at 19, after several years in the late 1960s as a self-styled “hippie,” traveling to Europe, India and Tibet. Unlike others with an equally public profile, Mother Agnes has no Wikipedia page.

In June 2012, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire praised Mother Agnes as a peacemaker:

  “In her community her voice has been clear, pure and loud. And it should be so in the West. Like many people in Syria she has been placed in life threatening situations, but for the sake of peace she has chosen to risk her own existence for the safety and security of others. She has spoken out against the lack of truth in our media regarding Syria and about the terror and chaos which a ‘third force’ seems to be spreading across the country. Her words confront and challenge us because they do not mirror the picture of events in Syria we have built up in our minds over many months of reading our newspapers and watching the news on our televisions. Much of the terror has been imported, we learn from her. She can tell us about the thousands of Christian refugees, forced to flee their homes by an imported Islamist extreme.”

 What makes her controversial to people around Stop the War Coalition is their perception of her as a supporter of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Clear reasoning behind this perception is hard to come by. The reality for Christians in Syria is that their choice of friends is limited: the government represses them along with everyone else, but some rebel groups have taken to massacring Christians. With rebel groups numbering 1,000 or more, none is likely to be a reliable protector.

Mother Agnes’s heretical view of the Damascus chemical attack

In August 2013, when the world learned of the still murky chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, Mother Agnes questioned the prevailing western view that the Assad government carried out the attack. She prepared a 50-page report questioning the authenticity of videos of the aftermath and submitted her findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council. As the New York Times of September 21 reported:

  “When Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, wanted to bolster his argument that rebels had carried out the poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21, he pointed to the work of a 61-year-old Lebanese-born nun who had concluded that the horrifying videos showing hundreds of dead and choking victims, including many children, had been fabricated ahead of time to provide a pretext for foreign intervention.

“’Mr. Lavrov is an intelligent person,’ said the nun, Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, with a wide smile in a recent interview in this Lebanese mountain town. ‘He will never stick his name to someone who is saying stupidities.’”

  Taking a position on the chemical attacks that is supportive of the Assad government has led to intensified criticism of Mother Agnes as an Assad pawn. French reporters have written a book accusing her of conspiring with the government to kill another French reporter in 2012. She has sued the authors for libel.

The Syrian uprising started with peaceful protests in March 2011, but soon turned violent. Mother Agnes accuses the West of fomenting the violence to create a pretext for military intervention and re-ordering Syria. In November 2011, she wrote an open letter to President Assad, challenging the government over its treatment of hospital patients and prisoners, as reported in Vatican Insider in November 2011:

  “Dear Mr. President, I have lived and worked in Syria since 1994, and I have learned to esteem the unique position Syria holds in the world of culture and of religions. But I am shocked to learn from Amnesty International that in the hospitals run by the government the wounded suffer discrimination and maltreatment because of their ideology. And I am saddened to find that, in the prisons, there are people there who have never been tried in court, or even accused of anything….   I ask for a serious inquiry into the hospitals and prisons, under the supervision of the International Red Cross, together with the creation of a committee to accelerate the exercise of justice.”

In late October, Mother Agnes, through the Musalaha Initiative, was involved in establishing a cease-fire and evacuating some 5,400 civilians from Moadamiya, a rebel-held city near Damascus.

  Mother Agnes is currently on a six-week speaking tour in North America, largely ignored by most media. In Cleveland on November 14, she received a special peace award from the mayor, a congressman, and a senator. The tour ends December 4.

Jeremy Scahill has yet to explain his own behavior, but columnist Neil Clark, writing for Russia Today, blames “liberal hawks and neo-cons” for silencing the nun because:

“Mother Agnes’ testimony reveals that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is a sham – that in Syria, the western countries and their regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are on the same side as the extremist Islamic terror groups that we are told are our greatest enemies.”

Although TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has received the lion’s share of media attention, another key border-crossing pipeline benefitting tar sands producers was approved on November 19 by the U.S. State Department.

Enter Cochin, Kinder Morgan’s 1,900-mile proposed pipeline to transport gas produced via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the Eagle Ford Shale basin in Texas north through Kankakee, Illinois, and eventually into Alberta, Canada, the home of the tar sands.

Like Keystone XL, the pipeline proposal requires U.S. State Department approval because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border. Unlike Keystone XL – which would carry diluted tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) south to the Gulf Coast – Kinder Morgan’s Cochin pipeline would carry the gas condensate (diluent) used to dilute the bitumen north to the tar sands.

“The decision allows Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC to proceed with a $260 million plan to reverse and expand an existing pipeline to carry an initial 95,000 barrels a day of condensate,” the Financial Post wrote.

“The extra-thick oil is typically cut with 30% condensate so it can move in pipelines. By 2035, producers could require 893,000 barrels a day of the ultra-light oil, with imports making up 786,000 barrels of the total.”

Increased demand for diluent among Alberta’s tar sands producers has created a growing market for U.S. producers of natural gas liquids, particularly for fracked gas producers.

“Total US natural gasoline exports reached a record volume of 179,000 barrels per day in February as Canada’s thirst for oil sand diluent ramped up,” explained a May 2013 article appearing in Platts. ”US natural gasoline production is forecast to increase to roughly 450,000 b/d by 2020.”

Revealed: Northrop Grumman’s Unmarked Gray Helicopter Drone

November 26th, 2013 by Paul Joseph Watson

Infowars has obtained a photograph of an unmarked gray helicopter drone manufactured by Northrop Grumman which could be used to spy on Americans domestically.

The image was sent to us by someone high up within Northrop Grumman, who told us that the drone is small enough to transported on the back of a large truck or towed in a trailer behind a pickup and can be fitted with all manner of surveillance technology.

It appears to be a smaller version of the company’s MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter drone, which was tested for the first time earlier this month by the U.S. Navy. Unlike the MQ-8C Fire Scout, the drone seen in the image above has no markings.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout, described as a “next generation” drone, has “three times the payload capacity of the current model in the military arsenal,” and can remain airborne for twice as long.

Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration released a road map that set the stage for 7,500 surveillance drones to be flying in U.S. skies within the next two years. The FAA’s chief concern is not the privacy implications of such devices, but the threat of them colliding with other aircraft.

The FAA has forecast that 30,000 surveillance drones will be in U.S. skies by the end of the decade.

At least 80 law enforcement agencies already have agreements with the FAA to fly drones for surveillance purposes. Some police departments want to use such drones to watch for “suspicious activity” in high crime areas.

Authorities are already using drones to conduct surveillance of farms and the Department of Homeland Security is also working on deploying drones for purposes of “public safety.”

Earlier this year, the Pentagon began testing to deploy two high-tech surveillance blimps over Washington DC that can remain at 10,000 feet for a month without the need for refueling. The blimps provide an “elevated, persistent over-the-horizon sensor system” and carry “powerful radars that can look deep into enemy territory.”

The U.S. Army also recently tested a football field-sized blimp over the city of New Jersey. The blimp can fly for a period of 21 hours and “is equipped with high-tech sensors that can monitor insurgents from above.”

This past August, the DHS assumed control of surveillance blimps used to monitor the US-Mexico border, a perturbing development for privacy advocates given that the federal agency considers all areas 100 miles inland of the border to be ‘constitution-free zones’ within which the Fourth Amendment does not apply.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

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Israel and Saudi Arabia may cooperate in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities following the announcement of a six-month interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on Sunday in Geneva. Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, characterized the agreement as a major success. He said Iran will cooperate with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran’s recently elected president, Hassan Rouhani, said the agreement is evidence the world now recognizes Iran has nuclear rights.

“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” the Obama administration said in a statement. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.” Obama added a caveat. He said the United States will “ratchet up” sanctions if Iran fails to follow the agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry, who represented the United States at the conference in Geneva, said Iran has yet to demonstrate that it is not seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

The agreement stipulates that Iran will stop enriching uranium over 5% and dismantle its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium. A nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched over 90%. In addition to IAEA inspections, Iran has also agreed to stop construction on its heavy water reactor at Arak.

Officials in Israel reacted predictably after the deal was reached. “What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it’s a historic mistake,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. “It’s not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.” The Saudi royals also expressed outrage.

Israel Working With Saudis On Attack Plan

Earlier this month, the Sunday Times reported that Saudi Arabia agreed to allow Israel use of its air space. The Saudis said they would provide drones, tanker planes and helicopters for an Israeli attack on Iran. The newspaper said Mossad was working closely with Saudi intelligence and they were making preparations in the event a deal was reached in Switzerland. “Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” a source said.

Netanyahu and Israeli officials attempted to persuade the United States to reject a compromise. The Israeli president said any agreement would directly threaten the existence of his country.

“It is highly unlikely that the Saudis and Israelis would want to attack Iran because at the end of the day both countries would be losers, they would be seen as aggressors and obviously the Iranians would retaliate,” Iranian political analyst Seyed Mohammad Marandi said after the Sunday Times published its report. “It would create an economic catastrophe for the world and only the Saudis and the Israelis would be to blame.”

Egyptian officials, according to WorldNetDaily reporter and blogger Aaron Klein, confirmed that Israeli personnel recently visited Saudi Arabia and inspected military bases. “The officials said Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other Arab and Persian Gulf countries have been discussing the next steps toward possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites,” Klein writes today.

Klein also notes the United States told Israel and the Saudis it controls radar capabilities over Iran and that no strike should be launched without permission from the Obama administration.

Hezbollah May Respond If Attack Unfolds

In October, it was reported that Israel was considering attacking Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon to take out its missile capability. The Shia military organization has “more than 200,000 missiles capable of hitting any house in Israel,” according to Israeli Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan. Military experts, however, put the number closer to 45,000 missiles and rockets. IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Naveh claims Hezbollah has at around 60,000 rockets and missiles in its arsenal, or about ten times the number it had during Israel’s 34-day invasion of Lebanon in 2006.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah met with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian last week after the Iranian embassy was attacked in Beirut. Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV station “the Zionist entity” was responsible for the attack.

The Abdullah Azzam brigades, an al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility for the blast that killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 150 others.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced in August a new forum supposedly designed to improve communication between the government and the country’s small Palestinian Chris­tian community.

The innocuous-sounding intiative, however, has sinister implications. The forum’s purpose, as Netanyahu boasted during a press conference, is to end the long-established exemption of Christians from serving in the Israeli military.

This is the latest in a series of moves to pressure Christian high school graduates into joining the army, breaking the community’s blanket rejection of conscription for the past 65 years.

Leaders of Israel’s Palestinian minority have accused Israeli authorities of using the draft as a means to propel the country’s Christian and Muslim communities into conflict, as part of Israel’s long-term divide-and-rule strategy.

The issue first reared its head last October, when the Defense Ministry quietly staged a conference near Nazareth, the ­effective capital of Palestinians in Israel, to promote military service among Christians.

The participation of three local clergymen in the conference sent shock waves through the Muslim and Christian communities. Currently both Christians and Muslims, comprising nearly a fifth of Israel’s population, are exempt from the draft.

In an apparently related step this past July, a Christian in Nazareth whose brother is an official in the Defense Ministry announced the establishment of the first-ever Christian-Jewish political party, called “Sons of the New Testament,” which advocates conscription for Christians.

The new party, which also runs an enlistment forum to encourage Christians to serve in the army, has paired with a far-right Jewish group, Im Tirtzu.

Officials in Nazareth have warned that their city is at risk of becoming a flash point for inter-communal fighting if Israel continues to stir up sectarian tensions.

Dominated by its Christian institutions but with a two-thirds Muslim majority, Nazareth has been struggling to temper sectarian divisions since the late 1990s. That was when the Israeli government promoted a provocative project to build a mosque next to the city’s main Christian pilgrimage site, the Basilica of the Annunciation (see articles by Fred Strickert in the June 1999, Jan./Feb. 2000 and March 2002 issues of theWashington Report).

Israel’s Palestinian Christians, numbering 125,000, or about 9 percent of the Palestinian minority, are mostly located in Nazareth and its surrounding villages.

The issue of military service is an especially contentious one for the Palestinian minority, said Azmi Hakim, leader of the Greek Orthodox community council in Nazareth.

Most Palestinian citizens refuse to join the army because they reject the role of the Israeli military in oppressing other Palestinians and in enforcing an occupation that violates international law. However, there are strong objections on other grounds.

“Israel has tried to use military service as a way to break us up as a national group since the state’s earliest days,” Hakim said. “It wants us to be weak, separate religious communities incapable of organizing and demanding our rights.”

The Druze community, of a similar size to the Christian one, has been conscripted into the army since the 1950s. As a consequence, Israel designated the Druze a national group distinct from the rest of the Palestinian minority, and created a separate education system to inculcate “Zionist values.”

Israel also has persuaded some Bedouin to volunteer as army trackers. Otherwise, only a tiny number of Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens request to have their exemption waived—in most cases, according to scholar Rhoda Kanaaneh, in the hope of accruing extra financial benefits related to army service.

Abir Kopty, a former Nazareth councilor, said that Israel had long tried to instill in Christians an insecurity toward their Muslim neighbors.

“Israel’s goal is to make Christians feel like a vulnerable minority and that they will be safer only if they have been trained by the army and have a gun,” she said. “We hear Christian youngsters who consider enlistment saying things like, ‘I want to protect myself and my family.’”

The pro-enlistment conference held in October was arranged by Ehab Shlayan, a career officer in the Israeli military from Nazareth who was recently appointed the Defense Ministry’s “adviser on Christian issues.”

It was staged in Upper Nazareth, a Jewish city established on Nazareth’s lands in the 1950s. The mayor, Shimon Gapso, an ally of Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, helped sponsor the event.

News of the conference was revealed on social media a short time later. More than 120 Christian teenagers were reported to have attended, mostly drawn from the local Greek Catholic and Maronite scout groups.

However, the fact that three senior clergy from Nazareth took part and spoke in favor of Christian enlistment has caused particular consternation.

They include 39-year-old Bishop Jibril Nadaf, from the Greek Orthodox community, the largest Christian denomination in Israel, and Father Masoud Abu Hatoum, of the Greek Catholic community.

Nazareth’s Greek Orthodox council, an elected body that represents the community’s interests in the city, immediately issued a statement denouncing Nadaf’s participation. A short time later the patriarch in Jerusalem, Theophilus III, barred Nadaf from entering the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.

According to the council’s Hakim, the chief obstacle to Israel’s attempts since the state’s creation to recruit Christians to the army—and sever them from the 80 percent of the Palestinian minority who are Muslim—had been finding a religious leader who would give the initiative the stamp of the church’s approval.

“Now they think they have a way to split the Christian community by using Nadaf’s authority to justify an enlistment drive,” he said. “But only the council can speak for the community.”

Nadaf has remained defiant. Standing next to Netanyahu at the Aug. 5 press conference, he said: “Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel. We have broken the barrier of fear—the state deserves that we do our part in defending it.”

Netanyahu reassured Nadaf and his followers that anyone criticizing him would be dealt with harshly: “We will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand against those who persecute you.”

Several Arab members of Israel’s parliament have called for Nadaf’s dismissal. Likud MK Miri Regev, who heads the Knesset’s interior committee, in July criticized the Arab MKs’ intervention, calling them “Trojan horses in the Knesset.” She accused them of “incitement against a Christian priest.”

Opponents Interrogated

Those who have led opposition to the conference have found themselves called in for interrogation by the police and Israel’s domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet. They have been warned that they are under investigation for “incitement to violence.”

Hakim said he had been called for interrogation on three occasions since he and the council denounced Nadaf. He was also phoned by the Shin Bet two hours before the Greek Orthodox community council met to issue its statement: “They warned me, ‘This is bigger than you or the council.’ They told me not to get involved.”

He has subsequently faced a hate campaign and death threats. “I received an anonymous phone call identifying my children, my place of work and my home address. I was told people would come for me, to behead me,” he said.

Abir Kopty was also called for interrogation after writing a blog post in Arabic and English criticizing those who participated in the conference.

The Shin Bet have demanded of all those brought in for interrogation an unexpected condition: that they agree to provide a DNA sample.

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with the Adalah legal center for the Arab minority in Israel, said the requirement to submit to a DNA test was illegal in both Hakim and Kopty’s cases.

In July Adalah sent a letter to the Israeli attorney general saying there was no basis for an investigation of either of them. “This is clearly a free speech matter,” Bishara said, “and the investigations are a transparent attempt to intimidate and silence them.”

“Sons of the New Testament” founder Bishara Shlayan, a 58-year-old former merchant navy captain, refers to himself as an “Arabic-speaking Israeli Christian.” He told the New York-based Jewish weekly theAlgemeiner Journal: “Israel belongs to the Jews, and we are part of it.”

The campaign is reported to already have increased enlistment among high school graduates. According to the Ma’ariv newspaper, 90 Christians joined the Israeli military in recent months—a threefold increase from 2010.

Shlayan’s party has sought to play on Christian fears of what it describes as a growing “Muslim threat” in the region, as Islamic movements struggle for power in neighboring countries such as Egypt and Syria.

That message was echoed in an editorial in The Jerusalem Post, which rallied to Nadaf’s side: “Trying to survive under the Muslim thumb inside Israel’s Arab sector, Christians have kept a low profile, striven to give no offense and toed even the most extremist line to evince loyalty and avoid risk.…Those young Christians now eager to break the cycle should be encouraged, not discouraged.”

According to some observers, Shlayan has received support from a small group of Palestinian Christians based in the nearby town of Kafr Yasif who have adopted Christian Zionist positions. This has led to suggestions that the party may be receiving funds from Christian Zionist groups in the United States.

Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His most recent book is Disappearing Palestine.

One again, the Harper government is out to lunch on an urgent global issue. While most of the world sighed with relief at news of the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal, John Baird, Canada’s foreign minister, pouted and repeated belligerent talking points.

The deal announced over the weekend saw Iran agreeing to limit the extent of their enrichment of uranium and to allow more frequent inspections of their nuclear energy facilities. The agreement was announced after four days of talks in Geneva between representatives of Iran and the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France, and Germany.

On Sunday (November 24), John Baird effectively condemned the deal. “Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt,” he said. And while other western countries promised relief of sanctions, Baird announced that Canada’s sanctions on Iran would remain in “full force”.

What explains the Harper government being out of step with the international community, and key NATO allies, on Iran? It’s largely about Israel and Harper’s alliance with the extremist government of Benjamin Netanyahu, who fumed that the agreement with Iran represents “an historic mistake” which makes “the world a much more dangerous place”.

Baird’s echoing of Netanyahu, as well as some of the most unreconstructed neo-conservative hawks in the U.S., should come as no surprise. This Conservative government has been consistent in its dangerous, warmongering rhetoric with respect to Iran.

Two years ago, for instance, I wrote about an interview in which Harper repeatedly told the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge that Iran represented the “greatest threat to world peace”. Harper, absurdly, even asserted that Iran “would have no hesitation about using nuclear weapons”. As I wrote at the time:

Harper is in effect claiming to know for a fact that the regime in Tehran is suicidal. Israel already has an arsenal of nuclear weapons—a fact everyone knows but which the government in Tel Aviv has never formally admitted. (Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.) Any attack by Iran, let alone its use of hypothetical nuclear weapons, would result in its total obliteration. There is simply no evidence whatsoever to support Harper’s claim…

John Baird’s statements in response to this latest deal should be viewed in the same light. This government’s policy on Iran is isolated, dangerous and evidence-free—unhinged from reality. It makes more likely an eventual attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S., which in turns makes more likely a regional conflagration. As was the case earlier this year with Harper’s support for an attack on Syria, the Conservatives are on the side of war-making, not peacemaking.

All that said, these latest negotiations need to be put in a wider context. The whole campaign against Iran’s development of nuclear energy is aimed at weakening the country, which has become a greater regional power after the disastrous U.S. war on Iraq, and at maintaining Israel’s monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The farce of it all is that the whole discussion of Iran carries on without anyone mentioning the elephant in the room: Israel, the belligerent rogue state, and its arsenal of nukes.

None of this has anything whatsoever to do with human rights. The sanctions imposed by the West on Iran have nothing to do with the legitimate struggle within Iran against the regime and its depredations.

The sanctions are aggression, pure and simple. Not to mention hypocrisy. While the Harper government will continue to punish the people of Iran with “full force” sanctions, they do not hesitate to trade with and arm petro-dictatorships throughout the Gulf region. (Saudi Arabia, after the U.S., is the number one recipient of Canadian weapons sales. Canadian-made armoured vehicles helped the Saudi regime crush Bahrain’s democratic movement in 2011, for example.)

So while it’s necessary to call bullshit on Baird’s hawkish reaction to this Iran deal, it’s also relatively easy. Opposition to the Conservatives’ warmongering needs to be comprehensive, and include criticism of their arming of brutal regimes throughout the region and of militarism in general.

Consider where John Baird was this weekend. Canada’s foreign minister was playing host to friends like U.S. Senator John McCain at the annual Halifax International Security Forum—a summit of warmakers and the arms industry.

Baird and Harper make the world a more dangerous place.

On Iran, they are isolated in their hawkish belligerence even amongst NATO countries. It’s scandalous and embarrassing, and one more reminder that we need to throw Harper and his Conservative party out of power once and for all.

Derrick O’Keefe is a writer, editor, and activist based in Vancouver.

The “first step” agreement between Iran and the United States that was sealed in Geneva over the weekend is supposed to lead to the negotiation of a “comprehensive settlement” of the nuclear issue over the next six months, though the latter has gotten little attention.

But within hours of the agreement, there are already indications from senior U.S. officials that the Barack Obama administration is not fully committed to the conclusion of a final pact, under which economic sanctions would be completely lifted.

The administration has apparently developed reservations about such an “end state” agreement despite concessions by the government of President Hassan Rouhani that were more far-reaching than could have been anticipated a few months ago.

In fact the Rouhani government’s moves to reassure the West may have spurred hopes on the part of senior officials of the Obama administration that the United States can achieve its minimum aims in reducing Iran’s breakout capacity without giving up its trump cards—the harsh sanctions on Iran’s oil expert and banking sectors.

The signs of uncertain U.S. commitment to the “end state” agreement came in a background press briefing by unidentified senior U.S. officials in Geneva via teleconference late Saturday night. The officials repeatedly suggested that it was a question of “whether” there could be an “end state” agreement rather than how it could be achieved.

“What we are going to explore with the Iranians and our P5+1 partners over the next six months,” said one of the officials, “is whether there can be an agreed upon comprehensive solution that assures us that the Iranian programme is peaceful.”

The same official prefaced that remark by stating, “In terms of the ‘end state’, we do not recognise a right for Iran to enrich uranium.”

Later in the briefing, a senior official repeated the same point in slightly different words. “What the next six months will determine is whether there can be an agreement that…gives us assurance that the Iranian programme is peaceful.”

Three more times during the briefing the unnamed officials referred to the negotiation of the “comprehensive solution” outlined in the deal agreed to Sunday morning as an open-ended question rather than an objective of U.S. policy.

“We’ll see whether we can achieve an end state that allows for Iran to have peaceful nuclear energy,” said one of the officials.

Those carefully formulated statements in the background briefing do not reflect difficulties in identifying what arrangements would provide the necessary assurances of a peaceful nuclear programme. Secretary of State John Kerry declared at a press appearance in Geneva, “Folks, it is not hard to prove peaceful intention if that’s what you want to do.”

The background briefing suggested that in next six months, Iran would have to “deal with” U.N. Security Council resolutions, which call for Iran to suspend all enrichment activities as well as all work on its heavy reactor in Arak.

Similarly, the unnamed officials said Iran “must come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency].”

Those statements appeared to suggest that the administration would be insisting on a complete end to all enrichment, at least temporarily, and an end to all work on Arak.

The actual text of the agreement reached on Sunday states, however, that both the six powers of the P5+1 and Iran “will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures,” apparently referring to the measures necessary to bring Security Council consideration of the Iran nuclear issue to a conclusion.

The Obama administration has yet to release an official text of the “first step” agreement, although the official Iran Fars new agency released a text over the weekend.

Iran has demonstrated its determination to achieve such an agreement by effectively freezing and even partially reversing its nuclear programme while giving the IAEA daily access to Iran’s enrichment sites.

The Washington Post story on Sunday cited Western officials in Geneva as saying that the Iranian concessions “not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected.”

But since the early secret contacts with Iran in August and September, the Obama administration has been revising its negotiating calculus in light of the apparent Iranian eagerness to get a deal.

In mid-October, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported that the White House and State and Treasury departments were interested in an idea first proposed in early October by Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who had lobbied the Obama administration successfully for the sanctions aimed at cutting Iranian oil export revenues.

The Dubowitz proposal was to allow Iran access to some of its own money that was sitting in frozen accounts abroad in return for “verified concessions” that would reduce Iranian nuclear capabilities.

Meanwhile the United States and other powers would maintain the entire structure of the sanctions regime, at least in the interim period, without any change, Goldberg reported, “barring something like total capitulation” by Iran.

The scheme would give greater rewards for dismantling all but a limited number of safeguards than for lesser concessions, according to Goldberg’s report, based on information from “several officials”.

And if Iran refused, the plan would call for even more punishing sanctions against Iran’s natural gas sector.

That was essentially the policy that the Obama administration adopted in the negotiations in Geneva. In the first step agreement, Iran agreed to stop all enrichment to 20 percent, reduce the existing 20 percent-enriched stockpile to zero, convert all low enriched uranium to a form that cannot be enriched to higher level and allow IAEA inspectors daily access to enrichment sites.

In return for concessions representing many of its key negotiating chips, Iran got no relief from sanctions and less than seven billion dollars in benefits, according to the official U.S. estimate.

But the Iranian concessions will hold only for six months, and Iran has made such far-reaching concessions before in negotiations on a preliminary that anticipated a later comprehensive agreement and then resumed the activities it had suspended.

In the Paris Agreement of Nov. 15, 2004 with the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany, France, Iran agreed “on a voluntary basis, to continue and extend an existing suspension of enrichment to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities”.

That meant that Iran was giving up all work on the manufacture, assembly, installation and testing of centrifuges or their components. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was under the impression it was an open-ended suspension and initially opposed it.

Khamenei relented only after Hassan Rouhani, then the chief nuclear policy coordinator and now president, and other officials, assured him that it was a temporary measure that would endure only until an agreement was reached that legitimised Iran’s enrichment or the determination that the Europeans were not serious, according to Ambassador Hossein Mousavian’s nuclear memoirs.

After the Europeans refused to negotiate on an Iranian proposal for a comprehensive settlement in March 2005 that would have provided assurances against enrichment to weapons grade, Khamenei pulled the plug on the talks, and Iran ended its suspension of enrichment-related activities.

The United States had long depended on its dominant military power to wage “coercive diplomacy” with Tehran, with threat of an attack on Iran as its trump card. But during the George W. Bush administration, that threat begn to lose its credibility as it became clear that the U.S. military was opposed to war with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Obama administration officials are now acting as though they believe the sanctions represent a diplomatic trump card that is far more effective than the “military option” that it had been lost.

Some news stories on the “first step” agreement have referred to the possibility that the negotiations on the final settlement could stall, and the status quo might continue. But the remarks by senior U.S. officials suggest the administration may be hoping for precisely such an outcome.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

10 More Years in Afghanistan

November 26th, 2013 by David Swanson

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later.  Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s.  Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign the deal. Here is his list of concerns. He’d like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people’s doors at night.  He’d like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations.  He’d like innocent Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo.  And he’d like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections.  Whatever we think of Karzai’s legacy — my own appraisal is unprintable — these are perfectly reasonable demands.

Iran and Pakistan oppose keeping nine major U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, some of them on the borders of their nations, until the end of time.  U.S. officials threaten war on Iran with great regularity, the new agreement notwithstanding.  U.S. missiles already  hit Pakistan in a steady stream.  These two nations’ concerns seem as reasonable as Karzai’s.

The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible” for years and years.  We’re spending $10 million per hour making ourselves less safe and more hated.  The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this mad operation is suicide.

When the U.S. troops left Iraq, it remained a living hell, as Libya is now too.  But the disaster that Iraq is does not approach what it was during the occupation.  Much less has Iraq grown dramatically worse post-occupation, as we were warned for years by those advocating continued warfare.

Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan — or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country — would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations, and would make us the most beloved nation on earth.  I bet we’d favor that course if asked.  We were asked on Syria, and we told pollsters we favored aid, not missiles.

We stopped the missiles.  Congress members in both houses and parties said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before.  But we didn’t stop the guns that we opposed even more than the missiles in polls.  The CIA shipped the guns to the fighters without asking us or the Congress.  And Syrians didn’t get the aid that we favored.

We aren’t asked about the drone strikes.  We aren’t asked about most military operations.  And we aren’t being asked about Afghanistan.  Nor is Congress asserting its power to decide.  This state of affairs suggests that we haven’t learned our lesson from the Syrian Missile Crisis.  Fewer than one percent of us flooded Congress and the media with our voices, and we had a tremendous impact.  The lesson we should learn is that we can do that again and again with each new war proposal.

What if two percent of us called, emailed, visited, protested, rallied, spoke-out, educated, and non-violently resisted 10 more years in Afghanistan?  We’d have invented a new disease.  They’d replace the Vietnam Syndrome with the Afghanistan Syndrome.  Politicians would conclude that the U.S. public was just not going to stand for any more wars.  Only reluctantly would they try to sneak the next one past us.

Or we could sit back and keep quiet while a Nobel Peace Prize winner drags a war he’s “ending” out for another decade, establishing that there’s very little in the way of warmaking outrages that we won’t allow them to roll right over us.

Heightened Tensions Over China’s Air Defence Zone

November 26th, 2013 by John Chan

In a further sign of the dangers being fuelled by the Obama administration’s provocative pivot to Asia, China on Saturday declared an “air defence identification zone” (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. The new zone overlaps a similar Japanese ADIZ and includes one of the region’s flashpoints—the Senkaku islands (known as Diaoyu in China), which are claimed by both countries.

The US and Japan said they would ignore China’s ADIZ, setting the stage for risky encounters between military aircraft that could lead to a clash, either through miscalculation or a refusal by US and Japanese warplanes to obey Chinese orders. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel declared that the Chinese announcement “will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region.” He also reiterated the Obama administration’s official stance that the US would automatically support Japan in the event of a war with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Most international media outlets blame “an aggressive China” for seeking to “change the status quo” and threaten regional stability. In reality, China is responding to a series of provocations created by Washington’s encouragement of Japan to re-militarise and assert its territorial ambitions.

Ever since 2010, when the Japanese Coast Guard arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain in the waters off the disputed islands, provoking a major diplomatic row, the Obama administration has backed Tokyo in this longstanding maritime dispute. The turning point came in September 2012, when Japan’s former Democrat government unilaterally “nationalised” the Senkakus, leading to an ongoing standoff with China. In response, Beijing took a hard-line stance, sending maritime surveillance ships, planes and drones to the area to challenge Japanese control.

Tensions dramatically escalated after the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power last December. Abe stood on a platform of Japanese remilitarisation, vowing to create a “strong nation” with a “strong military.” Since taking office, the Abe government has boosted defence spending and integrated Japan into the US military build-up against China.

These preparations were on display in October during foreign and defence ministerial meetings between the US and Japan in Tokyo. Amid concerns among Asian governments about the US commitment to the “pivot,” Washington used the joint statement produced at the meeting to unveil an extensive US military build-up in Japan, including the deployment of long-range Global Hawke surveillance drones and F-35B vertical take-off stealth fighters, as well as augmented anti-ballistic missile systems.

Moreover, Washington is openly pushing for a reinterpretation of the Japanese constitution to allow Tokyo’s military to operate more closely with its US counterparts in the event of war and to launch “pre-emptive strikes”—that is, carry out its own wars of aggression. Abe himself has called for an ambitious military expansion, including the establishment of a marine force, for rapid force deployment to “southwestern emergencies,” i.e., conflict with China.

The implications for China were evident during a two-week, large-scale Japanese military exercise that concluded last week in the Okinawa region. Involving 34,000 troops and 350 warplanes, the drills centred on the use of anti-ship missiles to simulate an attack on Chinese warships in the region, as well as the use of amphibious landings to seize key islands. Such tactics are all part of the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle strategy, which involves a devastating air and missile attack on China, supplemented by a naval blockade.

China has announced its East China Sea ADIZ in a bid to counter the US and Japanese military preparations. In the first instance, the zone is designed to try to restrict access to US military aircraft that have for decades flown close to the Chinese coastline and sensitive military bases to gather vital intelligence. More broadly, it is based on calculations in Chinese security circles that Beijing can no longer back away from the ever-increasing military pressure from the US and its allies.

An editorial today in China’s nationalist Global Times declared that the country had to be prepared militarily for war with the US, as well as with Japan. “We are convinced that the People’s Liberation Army must have taken into account the worst situation when a military mishap breaks out. If Washington attempts to interfere in this Sino-Japanese territorial row, China is willing to keep it company to the end,” it stated.

At the same time, like the Abe government in Japan, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership is whipping up nationalist sentiment in a bid to divert growing social tensions at home. The already immense gulf between rich and poor in China will only deepen as a result of the far-reaching plans for pro-market restructuring announced at the CCP Central Committee plenum earlier this month. The fears in Beijing’s ruling circles of social unrest are underscored by the fact that domestic security spending has outpaced military spending since 2009.

The Chinese military build-up will not halt the danger of an attack by the US and its allies. Facing a deepening financial and economic crisis, US imperialism regards the “pivot” and military containment as the only way to counter China’s emergence as a potential challenger to US dominance in Asia. Moreover, the American ruling class is increasingly tempted to use its present huge military superiority over China to achieve this objective—before China’s military modernisation changes the balance of forces.

This accelerating arms race holds great dangers for the working class in China, Japan, the US and around the world. The nationalism being stirred up by all governments is a trap that workers must reject. Chinese workers have no interest in killing Japanese or American workers. After the horrors of World War II, the vast majority of Japanese workers are hostile to the revival of Japanese militarism.

The only means to halt the danger of imperialist conflict is a unified struggle by the international working class against the outmoded capitalist profit system, which is the real cause of war and militarism. This means the revolutionary overthrow of capitalist rule in each country and the establishment of a planned global socialist economy that ends the division of the world into competing nation-states.

NSA Infects 50,000 Computer Systems Worldwide

November 26th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported it, headlining “NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software.”

It cited leaked Edward Snowden information. His revelations are the gift that keeps on giving. Activists representing him keep important information coming.

It’s vital. Everyone needs to know. Unchecked NSA spying threatens fundamental freedoms. They’re fast disappearing.

Their on the chopping block for elimination. Police state lawlessness runs America. It’s too great a threat to ignore.

According to NRC, NSA hacked over 50,000 computer networks. It installed malware. It facilitates surveillance.

It’s “designed to steal sensitive information.” Snowden provided documents prove it. A 2012 management presentation showed NSA uses “Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) in more than 50,000 locations.”

It secretly infiltrates computer systems through malware. Belgian telecom provider Belgacom was hacked.

Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) installed malware in its network. It did so to gain access to its customers’ telephone and data traffic.

It did it through a false Linkedin page. It was done through unwitting company employees.

NSA has a “special department.” It has over 1,000 military and civilian hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.

It’s top secret. It’s called the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO). It identifies computer systems and supporting telecommunications networks to attack.

It successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecom systems for around 15 years. It does the same thing globally.

Most NSA employees and officials know little or nothing about TAO. Its operations are extraordinarily sensitive. Only those needing to know are kept informed.

Special security clearances are required to gain access to its top secret work spaces. Armed guards keep others out.

Entering requires a correct six digit code. Retinal scanner checks are used. TAO targets foreign computer systems.

It collects intelligence by hacking, cracking passwords, compromising computer security systems, stealing hard drive data, and copying all subsequent emails and text messages.

NSA calls doing so Computer Network Exploitation (CNE). In October 2012, Obama issued a secret presidential directive. It selected overseas targets for cyber attacks.

His Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) claimed to “offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging.”

Washington “identif(ies) potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power.”

It operates domestically the same way. NSA director Keith Alexander heads US Cyber Command (Cybercom). He’s waging global cyberwar.

US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) has full operational control. It’s a cyber hit squad. It’s part of the US Strategic Command.

Rules of engagement are classified. Anything goes is policy. Cyber-warriors are freewheeling. They operate globally. Cyber-preemption reflects greater police state power.

TAO personnel penetrate, steal, damage, destroy or otherwise compromise targeted sites. It’s perhaps the most important component of NSA’s Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate.

NRC said TAO operations installed about 20,000 “implants” by early 2008. By mid-2012, they “more than doubled to 50,000.”

NSA prioritizes cyber operations. “Computer hacks are relatively inexpensive.” They give NSA information otherwise not available.

Malware “can remain active for years without” detection. ” ‘Sleeper cells’ can be controlled remotely and be turned on and off at will.”

Implants are digital sleeper cells. A “push of a button” activates them. NSA has been conducting these type operations since the late 1990s.

Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD “displayed interest in hacking.” In early 2013, a Joint Cyber Unit (JSCU) was created.

It’s an inter-agency operation. It uses experts with a range of IT skills. It doesn’t go as far as NSA. Dutch law prohibits it. For how long remains to be seen.

Last August, the Washington Post headlined “The NSA has its own team of elite hackers.” It discussed TAO operations.

It may “have had something to do with (developing) Stuxnet and Flame malware program.” Washington and Israel were involved.

In spring 2010, Iranian intelligence discovered Stuxnet malware contamination. It infected its Bushehr nuclear facility. At the time, operations were halted indefinitely.

Israel was blamed. So was Washington. Had the facility gone online infected, Iran’s entire electrical power grid could have been shut down.

Flame is a more destructive virus. Internet security experts say it’s 20 times more harmful than Stuxnet. Iran’s military-industrial complex is targeted.

So is its nuclear program. Maximum disruption is intended. Whether plans to do so continue remains to be seen. Iran is alerted to the possibility.

Leaksource calls itself the “#1 source for leaks around the world.” Last August, it headlined “Codename GENIE: NSA to Control 85,000 ‘Implants’ in Strategically Chosen Machines Around the World by Year End,” saying:

According to “top secret documents” the Washington Post obtained, “US intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011.”

Doing so represents “the leading edge of a clandestine campaign that embraces the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war.”

Snowden leaked information revealed it. GENIE involves using computer specialists. They break into foreign networks. They do so to “put (them) under surreptitious US control.”

“Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed ‘covert implants,’ sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions,” said Leaksource.

GENIE’s next phase involves an automated online system code-named “TURBINE.” It’s able to potentially manage “millions of implants.”

It elevates intelligence gathering to a higher level. It lets it engage in widespread “active attack(s).”

Teams of FBI, CIA, and Cyber Command operatives work at NSA’s Remote Operations Center (ROC).

Their missions overlap. So does NSA’s National Threat Operations Center. It focuses on cyberdefense.

Snowden was involved as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor. He learned NSA’s best hacking techniques.

The agency designs most of its implants. It spends millions of dollars annually on “additional covert” “software vulnerabilities” purchases.

It gets them from “private malware vendors.” They represent a growing source. They’re largely European based.

China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are called the “most challenging targets” to penetrate.

Other prioritized countries include so-called terrorist safe havens. They include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia.

NSA’s goal is sweeping. It wants to revolutionize data gathering. It wants to access “anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

It intends to “identify new access, collection and exploitation methods by leveraging global business trends in data and communication services.”

It wants total information control worldwide. It wants to go where no previous spy agency went before. It wants no operational restraints. It intends to keep doing whatever it wants.

Congress is a willing facilitator. Fake fix legislation facilitates NSA lawlessness. It codifies collecting phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans.

It permits the same thing online. It’s already out of committee. It’s heading for Senate passage.

Obama will sign into law whatever Congress sends him. He supports mass surveillance.

He’s waging war on fundamental freedoms. Police state lawlessness is official US policy. Obama is its leading exponent.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/nsa-infects-50000-computer-systems-worldwide/

Both Sides Claim Victory in Honduran Election

November 26th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

Honduras appeared poised on the brink of renewed popular upheavals Monday as both leading candidates for president claimed victory in an election held a little more than four years after a US-backed coup ousted the country’s previous head of state, Manuel Zelaya.

Government employees were sent home and heavily armed troops took up positions outside of state ministries Monday afternoon in anticipation of protests.

The country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s official count pointed to the victory of Juan Orlando Hernandez, the candidate of the ruling right-wing National Party of incumbent president Porfirio Lobo. With ballots from approximately 60 percent of the country’s voting precincts counted, Hernandez led with 34.19 percent of the vote, compared with 28.83 for Xiomara Castro, the candidate of LIBRE (Freedom and Re-foundation Party) and wife of the ousted president, Zelaya.

They were followed by 20.76 percent for the Liberal Party, which historically traded power with the National Party under the military-dominated two-party system maintained by the country’s ruling oligarchy for over a century, and 15.59 percent for the Anti-Corruption Party of popular sportscaster Salvador Nasrallah.

There is no run-off vote under the Honduran system, meaning that a candidate with barely a third of the vote will assume office in a country that is sharply polarized politically.

Also running for president was retired general Romeo Vásquez, the hardline military leader who carried out the June 2009 coup against Zelaya and directed the harsh repression that followed it. He received just 0.20 percent of the ballots cast.

While both the electoral tribunal and the US ambassador, Lisa Kubiske, whose post historically has been akin to that of an imperial pro-consul, called on the candidates to await the final official results before declaring victory, neither Hernandez nor Castro complied.

Hernandez, the president of the Honduran Congress, who recently pushed through legislation that creates a military police force to patrol the streets, proclaimed his victory Sunday night, declaring, “Today the people voted to leave behind the political crisis of 2009 that left thousands in Honduras jobless, migrating and divided, that left us alone and isolated.” The statement implicitly acknowledged the illegitimacy of the election convened by the coup regime that brought incumbent President Lobo to power.

For her part, Castro declared herself president the same night, calling her victory “overwhelming and irreversible.” She added that the election results had vindicated “the blood of those who gave their lives for the nation and the resistance that has been conducted for four years.”

By Monday, however, with returns continuing to give Hernandez the lead, Castro’s supporters charged electoral fraud. The presidential candidate herself disappeared from public view after her announcement Sunday night, but her husband, the ousted ex-president Zelaya, charged the electoral tribunal with

“manipulation of the figures” and stated that Libre’s exit polls showed a clear win for his wife.

“We will defend the results, the triumph and the victory which we obtained at the ballot boxes and, if necessary in the streets; we will go to the street,” Zelaya declared at a press conference, surrounded by Libre leaders and supporters.

Shortly after the press conference, several hundred Libre supporters marched down Juan Pablo II Boulevard in the capital, Tegucigalpa, carrying banners and signs, blocking traffic and chanting “No to fraud.” The protest was dispersed after a brief confrontation with riot police near the presidential palace.

Even as Zelaya continued to proclaim his party’s victory, however, one of his former regional allies, the Sandinista leader and president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, telephoned congratulations to the right-wing National candidate Hernandez and declared his desire to “strengthen ties” between the two countries. Ortega’s call followed those of the presidents of Colombia, Guatemala, and Panama.

Incumbent Honduran President Lobo also took to national radio and television to congratulate Hernandez for his supposed victory.

Sunday’s elections unfolded under conditions of profound crisis in Honduras, the second-poorest country in Latin America, marked by sharply declining living standards, rising violence, and government insolvency.

Since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the share of the Honduran population subsisting on less than the minimum wage of $350 a month has climbed from 28 percent to 43 percent. At least 1 million Hondurans are unemployed and another million are underemployed in a country of 8.5 million people.

The country has the highest homicide rate in the world—with a national average of 85 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The spiraling violence is attributed largely to the drug trade, with an estimated 90 percent of cocaine flights from South America funneling through Honduras. Drug money has largely corrupted the government and the police forces, which are responsible for a large share of the killing and crime.

Honduras confronts some $5 billion in foreign debt—the equivalent of the entire 2012 government budget and roughly 40 percent of GDP—and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Failure to pay teachers, health workers, and other sections of the public work force has led to continuous strikes.

Both Hernandez and Castro indicated in the course of the election campaign that they would turn to the International Monetary Fund for a debt-refinancing agreement, which would undoubtedly be tied to painful economic restructuring conditions.

The Libre party of Zelaya and Castro was initiated with a decision that was pushed through over the opposition of the majority of its membership to transform the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP)—a body that included unions, peasant organizations, and human rights groups formed to oppose the coup—into an electoral party.

The new party also included sections of the old Liberal Party, to which Zelaya—the son of a wealthy landowner responsible for a brutal massacre of peasants in the 1970s—had belonged before the coup

This project won support from a substantial section of the Honduran oligarchy, including elements that had strongly supported the coup which ousted Zelaya in 2009. Among them was Adolfo Facusse, president of the National Association of Industries, who explained in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais his concern over rising poverty in Honduras.

“What good is a population dying of hunger to us,” he said. “What business can we do?” He said he was prepared to accept “a left government that reaches an agreement with private industry,” adding, “We are with Xiomara as long as she doesn’t instigate confrontation.”

The crisis that started in the United States in 2007-2008, hit the European Union head on in 2008, and has been causing major problems in the eurozone since 2010. |2| Banks from the strongest European countries are responsible for spreading this plague from the United States to Europe, because they had invested massively in structured financial products. It is important to explain why this crisis has struck the European Union and the eurozone harder than the United States.

18 of the 28 countries in the European Union share a common currency, the euro. |3| The population of the EU is about 500 million people, |4| about half the population of China, Africa, or India, 2/3 of Latin America, and 50% more than the USA.

There are major differences between countries in the European Union. Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and Austria are the most highly industrialised and powerful countries in the EU. 11 countries are from the ex-Eastern European bloc (3 Baltic Republics — Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia; Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, which were part of the Soviet bloc, and Slovenia and Croatia, which were part of Yugoslavia). Finally, come Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Cyprus, which have been brutalised by the eurozone crisis.

Large private corporations are taking advantage of wage discrepancies

Wage discrepancies are very significant: the minimum wage in Bulgaria (in 2013, the gross monthly salary is 156 euros) is less than one tenth of what it is in countries like France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. |5| Wage discrepancies within European Union countries can also be very significant. In Germany, 7.5 million employees earn a paltry monthly salary of 400 euros, whereas the normal monthly salary in Germany is more than 1200 euros (there is no national legal minimum wage in Germany). This discrepancy enables major European corporations, particularly German industrial corporations to be very competitive, because they outsource part of their production to countries like Bulgaria, Romania or to other Central and Eastern European countries, and then transport the parts back to Germany where they are assembled into final products. Finally, they export within the EU or to the global market after having cut the cost of wages to the bone. To top it all off, they pay no import/export taxes within the EU.

Increasingly large differences between countries

The EU’s refusal to develop coherent policies to help the new members to reduce their economic disadvantages with respect to the wealthiest European countries has greatly contributed to exacerbating these structural differences, and thereby undermining the EU integration process. The European treaties have been designed to serve the interests of the major private corporations, which benefit from the differences between the economies in the EU to increase their profits and be more competitive.

The EU budget is minuscule: it only represents 1% of the EU’s gross domestic product, whereas a normal budget of an industrialised country would represent 45-50% or more of its GDP, as is the case of the United States federal budget and the French national budget. To give an idea of just how minuscule the budget managed by the European Commission is, it is comparable to that of Belgium that has 10 million inhabitants (1/50 of the EU population), and nearly 50% is earmarked for the common agricultural policy.

The crisis was not caused by foreign competition

The crisis is not due to competition from China, South Korea, Brazil, India or other emerging countries.

For the past 10 years, Germany (and also the Netherlands and Austria) has been pursuing a neo-mercantilist trade policy: it has succeeded in increasing it exports, particularly within the European Union and the eurozone by squeezing workers’ wages in Germany. |6| It has thereby increased its competitiveness compared to its partners and in particular countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal, and even Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary (which are not part of the eurozone). A trade deficit has piled up in these countries with respect to Germany and other stronger European economies.

The euro straitjacket

When the euro was created, the German currency was undervalued (as requested by Germany) and the currencies of weaker countries were overvalued. That made German exports more competitive in the markets of other European countries, and the weakest, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, and the Central and Eastern European countries were the hardest hit.

Generally speaking, within the EU, the debt of peripheral countries is essentially due to the behaviour of the private sector (banks, construction companies, big industry, and trade). Incapable of competing with the strongest economies, the private sector in these countries has gone into debt vis-à-vis banks in Europe’s Central economies (Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Luxemburg,…) and domestic agents, since the economies of these countries have experienced a high degree of financialization since they adopted the euro. Consumption boomed in the countries concerned, and in some of them such as Spain, a real estate bubble developed and subsequently burst. The governments in these countries came to the rescue of the banks, leading to a major increase in public debt.

Obviously, countries that are in the eurozone cannot devalue their own currency, since it is now the euro. Likewise, countries like Greece, Portugal, and Spain are in a catch-22 situation due to their eurozone membership. European authorities and their national governments have been applying what has come to be called internal devaluation: they impose wage cuts on employees, which are transformed into profits for the directors of major private corporations. Internal devaluation is therefore synonymous with decreased wages. It is used to increase competitiveness; however, it has not proven to be very effective in terms of creating economic growth because at the same time austerity policies and salary cuts have been applied in all of the countries concerned. On the other hand, corporate directors are very happy, because they have been long intent on radically cutting wages. From this point of view, the eurozone crisis, which became very acute as of 2010-2011 has been a godsend for corporate directors. The legal minimum wage has been drastically cut in Greece, Ireland, and other countries.

A single capital market and a single currency

Whereas the crisis first erupted in the United States in 2007, its impact has been much more violent on the European Union than on US political and financial institutions. In fact, the crisis that has been shaking the eurozone is not a surprise. It is an avatar of the two principles governing this zone: a single capital market and a single currency. More broadly speaking, it is the consequence of the mindset shaping European integration, which is based on the priority given to the interests of major private industrial and financial corporations, the active promotion of private interests, the fact that within the eurozone, economies and producers of unequal strength have been put in direct competition with each other, the desire to withdraw a growing number of activities from the public services; the competition created between employees from and within different countries, and the refusal to standardise employees’ health care and other social rights upwards. All of these aspects are part of a clear objective – to favour the accumulation of the maximum amount of profit for the private sector, in particular by providing Capital with a labour force that is as malleable and precarious as possible.

The private banks have a monopoly for lending money to the States

In reply to my explanation, some might retort that the same mindset shapes the US economy. We must therefore also consider other factors: whereas the credit needs of the governments of other developed countries, including the United States, can be satisfied by their central bank, notably by printing money, eurozone member states have relinquished this possibility. The European Central Bank is legally forbidden from directly financing its Member States. In addition, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, financial solidarity between Member States is expressly forbidden. According to Article 125, the Member States must assume alone their financial commitments – neither the Union nor the other Member States can be liable for or assume them. |7| Article 101 of the Maastricht Treaty, |8| which was included word for word in the Lisbon Treaty, |9| adds:

“Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the ECB or with the central banks of the Member States […] in favour of Community institutions or bodies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited.”

We see then that the EU voluntarily serves the interests of the financial markets, for even in normal times the governments of eurozone countries are totally dependent on the private sector for their funding needs. Institutional investors (banks, pension funds, and insurance companies) and hedge funds pounced on Greece in 2010, because it was the weakest link in the European debt chain, before attacking Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. By acting this way, they made juicy profits, because they were highly remunerated in terms of the interest rates paid by the various government agencies to refinance their debt. Private banks made the highest profits among these institutional investors, because they could borrow money directly from the European Central Bank at a 1% rate of interest, |10| while at the same time, offering 90-day loans to Greece at rates of 4% to 5%. By launching their attacks against the weakest links, the banks and other institutional investors were also convinced that the European Central Bank and the European Commission would be forced to assist the States that were victims of speculation by lending them money that would enable them to continue paying back their debts.

They were right. In collaboration with the IMF, the European Commission gave in, and used the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to grant loans to some eurozone Member States (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus), so that they could first pay back the private banks of the wealthiest countries in the UE. This action was in violation of the aforementioned Article 125 in the Lisbon Treaty. However, it respected the neoliberal spirit of the Treaty: indeed, the EFSF and ESM borrow the financial resources they lend to States on the financial markets. In addition, drastic conditions have been imposed: privatisations, lower wages and pensions, layoffs in the public sector, decreases in public spending in general, and for social services, in particular.

It is worth making a small reminder. Whereas EU regulations do not allow the European Central Bank to lend to EU Member States, the situation is very different in the United States where on average the Federal Reserve loans $40 billion per month to the Obama administration by purchasing treasury bonds (which represents $480 billion per year). The same is true in the United Kingdom, which is not part of the eurozone, where the Bank of England makes massive loans to the British government. The rules being applied in the eurozone are making their crisis worse than it is in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Misguided policies are exacerbating the crisis

The policies applied by the European Commission and national governments since 2010 have only worsened the crisis, and particularly in the weakest eurozone countries. By reducing government demand and market demand, the possibilities for economic growth have been more or less eliminated.

From the point of view of corporate owners, the policies proposed by European leaders are not a failure

The leaders of the wealthiest European countries and the owners of its largest corporations are very pleased that there is a common economic, trade, and political zone in which European multinationals and the economies at the centre of the eurozone can benefit from the fiascos unrolling in the peripheral eurozone countries to make corporations more profitable, and mark points vis-à-vis in terms of their competitiveness with respect to their North American and Chinese competitors. Their objective, in the current phase of the crisis, is not to revive growth and decrease the gaps between the strong and weak economies in the EU.

Indeed, they believe that the economic disaster in southern Europe will present opportunities for the massive privatisation of public corporations and commodities at cut-rate prices. The intervention of the troika and the active complicity of the governments in the peripheral countries are helping them. The major capital owners in the peripheral countries are favourable to these policies, because they themselves are counting on getting a piece of the cake they have been eyeing up for so long. The privatisations in Greece and Portugal prefigure what is going to occur in Spain and Italy, where the public commodities potentially up for grabs are much more significant given the size of these two economies.

To consider that the policies applied by European leaders have failed, because they have not produced economic growth, is to err greatly on the criteria of analysis. The goals of the ECB, the European Commission, the governments of the strongest economies, bank boards, and other big businesses are neither a quick return to growth, nor a reduction of the inequalities within the eurozone and the EU, which would create a more coherent union and a return to prosperity.

One fundamental point should not be forgotten: the ability of the technocrats, who obediently serve the interests of big business to manipulate a crisis, or a chaotic situation, in favour of Capital – they no longer bother to dissimulate their close complicity. Many high ranking politicians, ministers, and the ECB President have spent part of their careers in major financial corporations such as Goldman Sachs. Others have been rewarded by one of the big banks, with a high level post, for having faithfully applied policies favourable to finance while in office. This is nothing new, but it is more apparent and widespread than at any time over the last fifty years. There is a real “revolving doors” phenomenon at play today.

The social effects of the crisis

What wage earners and benefits claimants in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain are currently experiencing has been imposed on the developing countries since the debt crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. During the 1980s, workers in North America were also attacked, starting with the Reagan Presidency, UK workers were hit by the iron fist of Margaret Thatcher, and their neo-liberal admirers in Europe have applied the same policies. Workers in the ex-Eastern Bloc countries were also subjected to the brutality of their governments and the IMF. Then, in a less malicious manner than in the Third World (from very poor to developing) countries, German workers were attacked between 2003 and 2005. Many of them still feel the unpleasant effects today; even if Germany’s exporting success |11| has reduced the effects on unemployment and part of the working classes has not directly experienced the consequences.

In Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain the crisis was worsened during 2012 – 2013 by due to the brutal austerity policies applied by the governing bodies in compliance with the Troika. In Greece, the total loss of GDP amounted to 25%, and the loss of purchasing power for much of the population has been between 30% and 50%. Unemployment and poverty have literally exploded. While in 2012 all the media and official announcements claimed that the national debt had been reduced by half, |12| the truth is quite different. Greek public debt, which was equivalent to 130% of GDP, in 2012, after debt write-downs, it had nevertheless jumped to 157% and reached a new peak of 175% in 2013. Over a similar period unemployment has grown from 21.6% in 2010 to 27% in 2013 (50% for the under 25s). In Portugal, austerity measures have been so violent that one million Portuguese rallied spontaneously on 15 September 2012, the biggest turn-out since the 1st May 1974 celebration of the Carnation Revolution.

The failure of austerity measures has caused a government crisis. In little mentioned Ireland, unemployment is enormous, 182,900 young Irish between 15 and 29 have left the country since the crisis began in 2008. One third of the youth have lost the jobs they had before the crisis. The bank bailouts have cost close to €70 billion, about 40% of Irish GDP, which amounted to €157 billion in 2011. The economy has slowed down by 20% since 2008, and the government has reaffirmed that it will eliminate 37,500 public sector jobs by 2015. In Spain, 50% of the young are unemployed, and 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes because of mortgage arrears. In 2012, the number of families in which there is not one person employed increased by 300,000 to 1.7 million (about 10% of all Spanish families). The situation in the ex-Eastern Bloc countries is getting worse and worse, particularly those in the eurozone.

A People’s Europe based on international solidarity

Only powerful popular action can halt the strategy rolled out by the dominant classes. The popular movements must build a continent-wide strategy of resistance. Leaders everywhere are using the pretext of debt to justify and impose policies that are undermining the economic and social rights of the vast majority of people. If the social movements, including the Trade Unions, really want to win this battle, they must take the debt question by the horns in order to deconstruct one of the principal arguments repeated by those in power. The essential measures needed to manage the current crisis of capitalism differently |13| include abolishing the illegitimate part of public debt, abandoning austerity politics, heavily taxing Big Capital, expropriating the banks so they can be integrated into a public deposit and credit service, decreasing the number of hours worked, ending privatisations, and developing public services instead.

This process may start in one country, or spread from one country to another, but it cannot stop at national boundaries. An authentic constituent assembly bringing together European peoples must be created to abrogate numerous European treaties, and give rise to a federation that will be given the responsibility of, above all else, guaranteeing Human Rights in all their aspects. At the same time, policies must be implemented that break with the “productivist” consumer society, so that nature and its limits are respected. From this process will emerge a Europe of its peoples that will reconsider its relations with the rest of the World, and return to other peoples, on other continents, what has been taken from them through centuries of European domination and plundering.

Translation : Charles La Via and Mike Krolikowski

Notes

|1| This document is based on a talk I gave on the euro crisis on 31 October, 2013 in the Ethnology Department at Port au Prince University (Haiti). I would like to thanks Michel Carles for taking the notes that inspired me to write this article.

|2| This document is based on a talk I gave on the euro crisis on 31 October, 2013 in the Ethnology Department at Port au Prince University (Haiti). I would like to thanks Michel Carles for taking the notes that inspired me to write this article.

|3| The eurozone was created in 1999 by eleven countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and Portugal. They were joined by Greece in 2001, Slovenia in 2007, Cyprus, and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, and Latvia on 1 January 2014.

|4| http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogr…

|5| See in particular http://www.inegalites.fr/spip.php?a…, which unfortunately provides data only up to 2011.

|6| See Eric Toussaint, “The greatest offensive against European social rights since the Second World War,” http://cadtm.org/The-greatest-offen…

|7| Article 125 of the Lisbon Treaty (2009): “The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project. A Member State shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of another Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project” (my emphasis).

|8| This is the treaty that created the European Economic Community.

|9| Article 123.

|10| Since May 2013, the ECB has been lending money to banks at a rate of 0.5%. We can also add that the ECB has made its quality requirements (ratings) more flexible for the securities banks provide as a guarantee when they borrow cash. Indeed, the minimum rating required by the ECB for these bank securities has been suspended “until further notice”…

|11| Germany has had economic growth driven by exports, whereas most of its EU and especially eurozone partners have been hard hit by the crisis. As there has been a general decrease in demand, due to cuts in public spending and a drop in household consumption, outlets for German products have sharply decreased. A boomerang effect is already hitting the German economy.

|12| The CADTM denounced the propaganda efforts by the Troika and the Greek government from the outset. See: “The CADTM condemns the disinformation campaign on the Greek debt and the rescue plan by private creditors”, http://cadtm.org/The-CADTM-condemns-the published 10 March 2012. See also Christina Laskaridis, “Greece already defaulted on the creditors’ terms; what they fear is default on the debtor’s terms”,
http://cadtm.org/Greece-already-def… published 31 May 2012.

|13| For a development of these propositions, see: Damien Millet, Eric Toussaint. Europe: What emergency programme for the crisis? http://cadtm.org/Europe-What-emerge… published 10 June 2012. See also: Thomas Coutrot, Patrick Saurin, and Éric Toussaint, “Cancelling debt or taxing capital: why should we choose?” http://cadtm.org/Cancelling-debt-or… published 2 November 2013

Eric Toussaint, senior lecturer at the University of Liège (Belgium), holds a doctorate in political science from the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, and is the President of the CADTM Belgium (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, www.cadtm.org). His latest book is Procès d’un homme exemplaire (The Trial of an Exemplary Man), Editions Al Dante, Marseille, 2013. With Damien Millet, he also wrote The Debt Crisis: From Europe to Where?, VAK, Bombay, 2012.

GR Editor’s Note

The proceedings directed against the State of Israel was led by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) against the State of Israel

Members of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) are: Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (Chairman), Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Dr. Denis Halliday, Mr. Musa Ismail, Dr. Zulaiha Ismail, Dr. Yaacob Merican, Dr.  Hans von Sponeck.

Working in liaison with their Malaysian counterparts, Commissioners Dr. Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization were present in Kuala Lumpur throughout the proceedings. 

This important judicial process has received very little coverage in the Western media.  Global Research will be publishing several reports following this historic  judgment against the State of Israel.

Michel Chossudovsky, Kuala Lumpur, November 25, 2013


KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) today found former Israeli army general Amos Yaron and the state of Israel guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide stemming from the massacre of Palestinians in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982.

KLWCT president Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus, who headed a seven-member panel, said the tribunal was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that both the defendants were guilty as charged.

The other judges were Tunku Sofiah Jewa, Prof Salleh Buang, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Datuk Saari Yusof, John Philpot and Tunku Intan Mainura.

Reading out the judgment for almost three hours, Lamin said the tribunal ordered that reparations commensurate with the irreparable harm and injury, pain and suffering undergone by the complainant, war crime victims be paid to them.

“While it’s constantly mindful of its stature as merely a tribunal of conscience with no real power or enforcement, this tribunal finds that witnesses in this case are entitled ex justitia to the payment or reparations by the two convicted parties,” he said.

Lamin said it was hoped that armed with the tribunal’s findings, the witnesses who were also the victims in the case, would, in the near future, find a state or an international judicial entity able and willing to exercise jurisdiction to enforce the tribunal’s verdict against the two convicted parties.

The tribunal also ordered that its award of reparations should be submitted to the War Crimes Commission to faciliate the determination and collection of reparations by the complainant war crime victims.

Lamin noted that the tribunal was fully aware that its verdict was merely declaratory in nature and had no power of enforcement.

“What we can do…is to recommend to the KLWCT to submit this finding of conviction by the tribunal, together with the record of these proceedings, to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations (UN) and the UN Security Council,” said the judge.

He also said the tribunal recommended that the names of the two convicted parties be entered and included in the commissions’s Registry of War Criminals and be publicised, accordingly.

Yaron was charged over his direct involvement in his capacity as the commanding general in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. This was the first time that Yaron had been charged for war crimes.

The second charge was against the state of Israel for the crime of genocide and war crimes on the Palestinians.

The charges were the result of complaints received by KLWCT from victims from Palestine (Gaza and West Bank) and the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon last year.

During the six-day trial, the tribunal heard 11 prosecution witnesses, including Palestinians from both Muslim and Christian descent, as well as Malaysian surgeon Dr Ang Swee Chai who served at the camp at the time of the massacre.

Six of the witnesses testified at the KLWCT while the other five gave evidence through Skype.

Lead prosecutor Prof Gurdial S. Nijar described the verdict as “significant” as this marked the first time that the Israel state had been found guilty of genocide.

He said today’s judgment would be submitted to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, UN and the UN Security Council for further action.

He added that the judgment would also be publicised and circulated to governments worldwide to allow all states to exercise their jurisdiction on genocide. –

Is Monsanto’s Glyphosate RoundUp the New Agent Orange?

November 26th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Christina Sarich

Monsanto has been in the poison game for a long time. All the propaganda in the world can’t erase the fact that they first poisoned thousand of Vietnamese, Thai, and Koreans as well as countless American soldiers with Agent Orange, who only now receive compensation for the effects of Monsanto’s bio-warfare decades later. The proof is finally so pervasive that the company can no longer just sweep away evidence of their evil-doing.

While it was our own government who did the spraying, they colluded with Monsanto, one of the nine government contractors who made the toxic combination of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, which came to be called Agent Orange. Many people don’t know this, but after decades of research proving that Agent Orange is lethal and tens of millions of dollars paid to victims in settlements – it is still being used in many Asian countries.

The company has switched to using it’s best-selling herbicide RoundUp predominately now, yet another innocent product constructed of poisons even the most stalwart farmer would wince at should they really understand its fallout. RoundUp is made of glyphosate, the primary active ingredient and Agent Orange of our time. Even the RoundUp label warns not to get the stuff in your eyes or on your skin, and to wear gloves when handling it – so what makes it o.k. to eat?

RoundUp “ kills weeds because glyphosate (a salt compound) inhibits enzyme pathways, preventing plants from synthesizing amino acids necessary for growth. It basically stops plants from eating, so they die.” It is probable that Monsanto and other companies who use this substance under other names besides RoundUp are now dumping more than 300 million pounds of this toxic poison into our soil annually. It’s use has at least tripled since 1990.

Read: Stopping Resurgence of Agent Orange in Food Supply

This calls into question some of the arguments posted by anti-labeling and pro-GMO propagandists who say that “the science isn’t conclusive that GMO herbicides are dangerous.” Meanwhile, hundreds of scientists, many being former pro-GMO, are speaking out about the ineffectiveness and potential dangers surrounding GMOs. The idea is similar to how the tobacco industry lied to citizens for decades about the ill-effects of cigarettes and how they cause lung cancer, among other problems.

This is why countless people continue to rail against Monsanto. It’s why Monsanto and their nefarious crew of poison mongers (the Grocery Manufacturer’s of America) spend millions of dollars illegally to try to defeat GMO labeling bills.

The truth is that RoundUp, in the form of glyphosate, is just another product of the military industrial complex, and an evolution of Agent Orange. If we don’t wake up and fight, en masse, then Monsanto and its government connections will completely destroy our food supply and our planet.

Copyright Christina Sarich, Natural Society, 2013

US Foreign Policy: Terrorism in Response to Terrorism

November 26th, 2013 by William Boardman

American foreign policy as a state sponsor of terrorism in response to terrorism operates now with a decidedly genocidal logic. Perhaps that logic has been there all along, but with increased American use of drone assassinations in tribal areas on two continents, the logic has become inescapably real, albeit not officially acknowledged or, perhaps, consciously accepted.

 Americans are used to hearing their leaders demonize whole populations thought to produce terrorists because “they hate our freedoms”  (Pres. Bush, Sept 20, 2001) or that they are “fueled by a common ideology,… that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause” (Pres. Obama, May 23, 2013). These are formulations rooted in a Cold War mindset that assumes a bipolar world, as it were.  The formulations made some sense when applied to historic Communism, a broad-based political philosophy with an articulated manifesto (1848) that served as the basis for political parties and governments around the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, leaders soon abandoned overt Cold War rhetoric, but the mental pattern of forcing reality to fit Manichean terms of good and evil has maintained its limiting grip on political thinking.

Communism was rooted in political analysis of nineteenth century social conditions in which the few dominated the many, and it offered the many an ideology to help guide their struggle against injustice and exploitation. While Manichean it its own way, the analysis also addressed a degrading reality that remains part of the human condition and sought, in theory at least, to improve it.

Terrorism is in no way similar. Terrorism is only a military tactic that may be used by any ideology, and often is.  The tactic is also used by people with no ideology at all, only grievance.  To speak as if there were a Terrorist Manifesto that is somehow the equivalent of the Communist Manifesto is to speak of something that is at best obscure, if it exists at all. That’s the fundamental stupidity underlying any effort to fight a global war on terrorism, a rubric that is hopelessly incoherent. So it’s little wonder that more than a decade after September 11, more than two decades after the 1991 Gulf War, the United States cannot explain what it’s doing in the world, or why it’s doing it so badly.

Has the $4 trillion cost of our Iraq War been worth it to anyone? 

The meaninglessness of the terms “Global War on Terror” and “Long War” (both Bush era coinages without substantive definition) was made clear hilariously, if briefly, in March 2009 when the Obama administration dropped those terms in favor of “Overseas Contingency Operation” (a nicely sanitized coinage with Orwellian opacity, but still without any intellectual import). Regardless of the term describing it, American policy remains the same undefined, ad hoc striking out at countries or people we designate (often secretly) as enemies for reasons we don’t even try to prove in order to get results we pretend are more rational than they are imaginary.

One explanation for America’s miasmic waste of lives and dollars since 2001 is that we have officially chosen as our enemy a chimerical cohort of people who have little in common but their differences, whether geographical, national, or historical. Even their actual commonalities of religion and tribal tradition are more diverse than shared. It’s not that the people America attacks “hate our freedoms.” There’s little evidence that they even know or care much about “our freedoms.” What evidence there is suggests that what they hate – and have every right to hate – is our attacks on their freedoms, our assault on their culture and their traditions, our murdering of their friends and families.

Has the war on terror become just another war on tribalism?

This argument is cogently presented in a New York Review article, “Terror: The Hidden Source” by Malise Ruthven in the October 24 edition, in which he discusses a book published by Brookings in March 2013 ­– “The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam” – by Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University and a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Ruthven writes:

 “Ahmed’s book is a radical analysis based on extensive anthropological detail too complex to be easily summarized. A good example of his approach, however, is his analysis of the background of the September 11 hijackers. It is well known that fifteen of the nineteen terrorists were Saudi nationals. Less well known or indeed understood is their tribal background. The official report of the 9/11 Commission, based on information provided by the Saudi authorities, states that four of the thirteen ‘muscle hijackers’ – the operatives whose job was to storm the cockpits and control the passengers – came from the al-Bahah region, ‘an isolated and undeveloped area of Saudi Arabia, and shared the same tribal affiliation.’…

“Apart from the brief reference to ‘tribal affiliation,’ the September 11 report skates over the fact that all of these ‘muscle hijackers’ hailed from the contiguous regions of al-Bahah and Asir or from the Wadi Hadhramaut in southern Yemen where Osama bin Laden’s own family came from.”

  Among the ironies of 9/11 is that the United States not only protected Saudi nationals from any contact with the FBI or other investigators, the U.S. went on to base its official story of 9/11 in part upon information from the Saudis who could hardly be expected to be reliable in accusing (or scapegoating) members of tribes the Saudis themselves hade been repressing for generations.

The Yemeni tribes of Asir Province in the al-Bahah region of the Arabian Peninsula had achieved significant self-determination in the early twentieth century under a charismatic Sufi scholar king, Sayyed Muhammad al-Idrisi. His reputation for piety and justice, as well as his resistance to the Ottoman Empire, drew increasingly more tribes into his domain. Having sided with the winners in World War I, al-Isidri expected that Asir’s independence would be recognized and approved. But after al-Isidri’s death in 1922, the forces of Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud over-ran the region in his drive to create modern Saudi Arabia. An estimated 400,000 people died in the fighting. Asir has been occupied territory and the Saudis have tried to destroy Yemeni-Asiri culture ever since ever since.

Repressed, shunned, and marginalized, Asiris became international jihadis – fighting the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Chechnya in the 1990s. The United Sates, as the patron of the occupying Saudis, was a natural enemy for Asiris like Osama bin Laden, especially after the 1991 Gulf War, when the Saudis allowed American troops to be based on the sacred Arabian Peninsula.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” – Mark Twain

The American war of assassination by drone has attacked mostly tribal areas – in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and presumably elsewhere. Ruthven writes that “Ahmed argues, convincingly enough, that the acts of terror or violence directed at the US or its allies are set off as much by revenge based on values of tribal honor as by extremist ideologies… that the values of honor and revenge inherent in the tribal systems contribute to jihadist extremism, and that by ignoring this all-important factor the US has been courting disaster. “

  To paraphrase the man who chooses the victims, assassination by drone is “fueled by a common ideology,… that violence against [tribal] targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause” Arguably, assassination by drone is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and an impeachable offense. And assassination by drone seems likely to assure that another generation or two of tribal survivors will seek revenge, taken wherever and whenever the opportunity appears.

  Ahmed’s own assessment is bleaker still:

“It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the United States has been fighting the wrong war, with the wrong tactics, against the wrong enemy, and therefore the results can be nothing but wrong…. It is like a Greek tragedy being played out: the audience knows that ruin awaits the protagonists, and it fears for their fate; but it also knows that nothing can alter the dénouement.”

For Americans, this assessment may be particularly difficult to accept. After all, the United States exists in great part because of its genocidal success in dealing with tribal societies. Why should it be different this time?

Okinawa: The Pentagon’s Toxic Junk Heap of the Pacific

November 26th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Jon Mitchell

In June 2013, construction workers unearthed more than 20 rusty barrels from beneath a soccer pitch in Okinawa City. The land had once been part of Kadena Air Base – the Pentagon’s largest installation in the Pacific region – but was returned to civilian usage in 1987. Tests revealed that the barrels contained two ingredients of military defoliants used in the Vietnam War – the herbicide 2,4,5-T and 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin. Levels of the highly toxic TCDD in nearby water measured 280 times safe limits.1

The Pentagon has repeatedly denied the storage of defoliants – including Agent Orange – on Okinawa.2 Following the discovery, it distanced itself from the barrels; a spokesperson stated it was investigating if they had been buried after the land’s return in 19873 and a U.S. government-sponsored scientist suggested they may merely have contained kitchen or medical waste.4 However, the conclusions of the Japanese and international scientific community were unequivocal: Not only did the barrels disprove Pentagon denials of the presence of military defoliants in Japan, the polluted land posed a threat to the health of local residents and required immediate remediation.5

The Pentagon is the largest polluter on the planet.6

Producing more toxic waste than the U.S.A.’s top three chemical manufacturers combined, in 2008 25,000 of its properties within the U.S. were found to be contaminated. More than 100 of thee were classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as Superfund sites which necessitated urgent clean-up.7

Although Okinawa Island hosts more than 30 U.S. bases – taking up 20% of its land – there has never been a concerted attempt to investigate levels of contamination within them. Unlike other nations with U.S. bases such as South Korea and Germany, the Japanese government has no effective powers to conduct environmental checks, nor does the Pentagon have a duty to disclose to the public any contamination that it knows to exist.8 To date, most incidents of pollution have only become known when individual service members divulge details to the media or, as in the case of the barrels uncovered in Okinawa City, the Japanese authorities conduct tests following the return of military land.

Despite their limited scope, such disclosures offer a disturbing window into the contamination of Okinawa. Over the past seven decades, the island’s sea, land and air have been contaminated with toxins including arsenic, depleted uranium, nerve gas and carcinogenic hexavalent chromium. These substances have poisoned Okinawan civilians and U.S. troops alike – and it is highly probable that they are damaging the health of those living on the island today. But, regardless of these risks, the Pentagon continues to do everything it can to evade responsibility for the damage its bases cause.

The history of U.S. pollution on Okinawa is almost as long as its ongoing military presence. Following the end of World War Two, Okinawa earned the nickname the “Junk Heap of the Pacific” due to the large volume of surplus supplies abandoned there.9 During this period, one of the first known instances of contamination occurred when eight residents of Iheya Village were killed by arsenic poisoning from a nearby U.S. compound in 1947.10

The 1952 Treaty of San Francisco granted the Pentagon full control of Okinawa and, as the military seized large tracts of civilian land to convert into bases, the dangers of pollution grew. Fuel leaks saturated the ground, industrial-grade detergents flowed from runways into nearby streams and solvents were flushed away without regard to where they ended up.

Such lax environmental controls were common on U.S. military bases all over the world at this time, but Okinawa’s problems were exacerbated by the geo-political gray zone in which it existed. Throughout the 1945 – 1972 U.S. occupation, the island was not protected by American law or the Japanese constitution, so the Pentagon stored large stockpiles of chemical and atomic weapons there – and nuclear-powered submarines made regular pit-stops to Okinawa.

In September 1968, Japanese newspapers reported that radioactive cobalt-60 had been detected in Naha Port – believed by scientists to have emanated from visiting U.S. subs. Three Okinawan divers reported being sickened by their exposure to the substance which accumulated in mud at the bottom of the harbour.11

The next year, the Wall Street Journal broke the news of a leak of nerve gas at Chibana Ammunition Depot, near Kadena Air Base, that hospitalized more than 20 U.S. service members. Precise details of the subsequent mop-up operation remained hidden until July this year when U.S. veterans stationed on the island at the time described how tons of the chemical munitions had been dumped off Okinawa’s coast.12 Experts estimate that the metal containers holding these poisons corrode after fifty years, threatening the health of fishing crews and coastal communities today.

During the Vietnam War, Okinawa served as the Pentagon’s primary staging post for the conflict. Led by the U.S. Army’s 2nd Logistics Division, the military channeled the majority of its supplies – including ammunition, coffins and, now it seems, Agent Orange – via the island’s ports. This transportation was a two-way street; surplus and damaged materiel was also returned from the war zone to Okinawa for re-processing.

Ships offload supplies in 1969 during the Vietnam War at Naha Military Port. Courtesy of Michael Jones.

In 1969, U.S. Army Chemical Corps Second Lieutenant Lindsay Pe1terson was the officer in charge of these retrograde supplies at Hamby Outside Storage Area, central Okinawa. In a recent interview, he recalled how damaged barrels of Agent Orange were among chemicals shipped to the island. “Agent Orange was processed through the port at Naha and trucked to the Hamby Open Storage Area. When I arrived, there were around 10,000 barrels. Most of them were leaking so we had to empty them into new 55 gallon (208 litre) drums.”13

Peterson recalls how the re-drumming process saturated his crew with defoliants. He is among hundreds of seriously ill U.S. veterans who believe their sicknesses were caused by exposure to dioxin-tainted defoliants while serving on Okinawa. Although the U.S. government has refused to help the majority of these veterans, in 2008 it awarded compensation to a former marine warehouseman suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and type 2 diabetes mellitus sparked by handling Agent Orange-contaminated supplies brought back to Okinawa from the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.14

Other U.S. veterans have alleged that surplus stocks of Agent Orange were buried during the 1960s and ‘70s on Okinawan installations including Hamby Air Base,

Barrels of unidentified chemicals lie strewn across land in the Northern Training Area, 1972. Courtesy of Robin Poe.

MCAS Futenma and Kadena Air Base.15With the benefit of hindsight such practices seem unfathomable but, at the time, the burial of Agent Orange was standard military operating procedure. For example, a U.S. Army handbook from 1971 titled “Tactical Employment of Herbicides” states:

Used containers and surplus quantities of ORANGE should be buried in deep pits at locations where there will be the least possibility of agent leaching into water supplies or cultivated crop areas.

In addition to Okinawa, burials of surplus military herbicides also took place on Guam – where, despite allegations from U.S. service members, the Pentagon continues to deny the presence of such substances.16

Other U.S. veterans and Okinawa civilians recall how surplus stocks of Agent Orange were sold on the black market to local farmers who valued its potent weed-killing power. The risks of the unregulated sale of hazardous substances to those lacking the necessary safety training became clear in 1971 when large volumes of pentachlorophenol herbicides – obtained from the U.S. military by a civilian company – were dumped in the Haebaru and Gushikami districts of southern Okinawa. The chemicals leaked into the Kokuba River and the water supply to 30,000 people had to be halted; children attending local schools suffered from abdominal pains and nausea.17

U.S. government correspondence reveals the reaction of the authorities to such pollution during this period. In August 1975, following a leak of detergents containing poisonous hexavalent chromium at Machinato Service Area, the U.S. consulate in Naha sent a series of updates to the State Department in Washington. Dismissing the spill as a “flap”, it concluded “the newspapers and the leftists will certainly make good use of this issue against us.”18

In September 1974, the U.S. consulate had displayed a similar tone when Okinawa Governor Yara Chobyo voiced fears to the U.S. military that its aging oil pipelines might leak. In a cable, the U.S. consulate in Naha brushed off the governor’s concerns, noting the “pipeline has now been added to leftist catalogue of evils of U.S. base system.”19 A little over a year later – in January 1976 – Yara’s concerns were proven justified when one of the pipelines spilled 14,000 gallons (53,000 litres) of diesel into a local river.

In the 1970s, the Pentagon showed more concern over potential PR damage than the risk to human health; today its stance towards the discovery of the dioxin-contaminated barrels in Okinawa City seems identical. Its denials attempt to protect its image of a good neighbour – but its failure to take action potentially sacrifices the health of local Okinawans, its own service members and their dependants. Although the Okinawa City dioxin site is located adjacent to two Department of Defense schools, it appears that the parents and teachers there have not been informed.

Okinawa officials visit the dumpsite of U.S. surpluspentachlorophenol herbicides in southern Okinawa, 1971. Used with permission of Okinawa Prefectural Archives.

During the 1970s, such neglect could have been blamed on a lack of environmental awareness. However, today in 2013, such a posture is criminal – reminiscent of the contamination of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where tens of thousands of troops and family members were exposed to toxins including pesticides, benzene and industrial solvents between 1953 and 1987.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) – the foundation, unchanged since 1960, that spells out the rights and role of the U.S. military in Japan – encourages the Pentagon’s cavalier approach to pollution. Article IV of SOFA absolves the U.S. of all financial responsibility for cleaning up land it has contaminated and does not allow the Japanese authorities to conduct spot-checks on U.S. military bases.

This clause places all responsibility for the remediation of returned military land on the shoulders of the Japanese government. However reprehensible that the polluter evades responsibility, the problem is magnified by the fact that Tokyo tries to evade its responsibility under the SOFA. In 2002, for example, almost 200 barrels of unidentified tar-like substances were discovered on former military land in Chatan. The U.S. Department of Defense initially denied that the barrels had belonged to them so the Japanese government refused to cover the 20 million yen (approximately $200,000) that Chatan City had paid to clean up the area. Even after the Pentagon finally admitted the barrels had been theirs, Tokyo attempted to shirk its responsibility to compensate the city for the costs it had incurred. Eventually, the Japanese government paid back the money for the cleanup – labeling i a “consolatory payment”.20

A 1973 Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreement exists which states that local authorities “may request the local base commander to make an [environmental] investigation, the results of which should be made known . . . as promptly as possible.” However such requests are often rejected. Following allegations of the presence of Agent Orange on Camp Schwab, Nago City, during the Vietnam War, city councilors demanded an investigation – but this was denied.21

Given these constraints on access to U.S. installations, Japanese scientists have been forced to improvise. Recently, experts from Ehime and Meio Universities conducted tests on seven mongooses whose habitat included U.S. bases. Announced in August, the results showed the animals were contaminated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) – raising worries that humans living in the same areas may be poisoned, too.22

Mongooses aside, the only alternative has been to conduct tests on military land following its return to civilian control. As in the case of Okinawa City, such checks often reveal dangerous levels of contamination. In Yomitan Village, for example, levels of arsenic 120 times over the legal limit were found on former U.S.-controlled land in 2008.23 Then in July this year, asbestos was discovered at a site that used to be a part of Camp Courtney. In this case, the U.S. authorities appear to have misled the civilian construction company tasked with the cleanup – leading to the suspected exposure of Okinawan workers. 24

But even after pollution has been detected, the new problem arises of how to deal with it. In September, it was revealed that 322 tons of PCB-laden slurry from former U.S. military land in Okinawa was to be shipped for disposal to Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture – a municipality located 50km from the stricken nuclear power station. Critics of the plan accused the Japanese authorities of exploiting the prefecture’s need for money and worsening its already dire pollution problems.25

In the coming years, it is likely such troubles will become more pressing. In October, Japan’s Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera, reiterated plans to concentrate the U.S. military presence in the northern half of Okinawa Island – a move which will entail the closure of several installations including Machinato Service Area, one of the main bases where defoliants were allegedly stored, and – ultimately – MCAS Futenma. Experts have estimated the cost of the cleanup of MCAS Futenma at $600 million – but that was before the cost of Agent Orange remediation had been figured into calculations.

Okinawa residents have long protested, calling for a future with fewer bases. But even after their wish becomes a reality, it seems the land they’ve fought so hard to retrieve will be uninhabitable for years – if not decades – to come.

This article is an expanded version of one that first appeared in The Japan Times November 12, 2013. The research within it formed the basis of a presentation Mitchell gave to lawmakers, university professors and members of the public at Okinawa Prefectural Assembly on November 11, 2013.

Jon Mitchell is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate and visiting researcher at the International Peace Research Institute of Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo. In 2012, “Defoliated Island: Agent Orange, Okinawa and the Vietnam War” – a Japanese TV documentary based upon his research – was winner of an award for excellence from Japan’s Association of Commercial Broadcasters. Next year, a Japanese-language book based upon his research into Agent Orange on Okinawa will be published in Tokyo.

 Related articles

• Sakurai Kunitoshi, Environmental Restoration of Former US Military Bases in Okinawa 

• Jon Mitchell, Okinawa Dumpsite Offers Proof of Agent Orange: Experts Say

• Jon Mitchell, Operation Red Hat: Chemical weapons and the Pentagon smokescreen on Okinawa

• Jon Mitchell, Campaign to prevent the next Battle of Okinawa

• Jon Mitchell, “Deny, deny until all the veterans die” – Pentagon investigation into Agent Orange on Okinawa

• Jon Mitchell, “Herbicide Stockpile” at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa: 1971 U.S. Army report on Agent Orange

• Jon Mitchell, Were U.S. Marines Used as Guinea Pigs on Okinawa?

• Jon Mitchell, Agent Orange on Okinawa – The Smoking Gun: U.S. army report, photographs show 25,000 barrels on island in early ‘70s

• Jon Mitchell, Seconds Away From Midnight”: U.S. Nuclear Missile Pioneers on Okinawa Break Fifty Year Silence on a Hidden Nuclear Crisis of 1962

• Jon Mitchell, Agent Orange at Okinawa’s Futenma Base in 1980s

• Jon Mitchell, U.S. Veteran Exposes Pentagon’s Denials of Agent Orange Use on Okinawa

• Jon Mitchell, U.S. Vets Win Payouts Over Agent Orange Use on Okinawa

• Jon Mitchell, Agent Orange on Okinawa: Buried Evidence?

• Fred Wilcox, Dead Forests, Dying People: Agent Orange & Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

• Jon Mitchell, Agent Orange on Okinawa – New Evidence • Jon Mitchell, US Military Defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange

• Roger Pulvers and John Junkerman, Remembering Victims of Agent Orange in the Shadow of 9/11

• Ikhwan Kim, Confronting Agent Orange in South Korea

• Ngoc Nguyen and Aaron Glantz, Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims Sue Dow and Monsanto in US Court • Dwernychuk, The Spectre Of U.S. Military Defoliants/Herbicides Buried In Okinawa

 

Notes

1 “Levels of Agent Orange ingredients found in Okinawa City exceed Environmental Quality Standard,” Ryukyu Shimpo, August 1, 2013. Available here.

2 Jon Mitchell, “‘Deny, deny until all the veterans die’ – Pentagon investigation into Agent Orange on Okinawa,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 23, No. 2. June 10, 2013. Available here.

3 Email exchange between Jon Mitchell and Tiffany Carter, Media Relations Chief of USFJ, August 5, 2013.

4 Travis Tritten, “Expert: Chemicals found on Okinawa likely not Agent Orange,” Stars and Stripes, August 15, 2013. Available here.

5 Jon Mitchell, “Okinawa Dumpsite Offers Proof of Agent Orange: Experts Say,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Issue 38, No. 1, September 23, 2013. Available here.

6 See for example, the investigation by Project Censored (available here ), this report by RT USA and Barry Sanders, The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, AK Press, Oakland, 2009.

7 Lyndsey Layton, “Pentagon Fights EPA On Pollution Cleanup,” The Washington Post, June 30, 2008. Available here.

8 Hayashi Kiminori, Ōshima Ken’ichi and Yokemoto Masafum, “Overcoming American Military Base Pollution in Asia,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 28-2-09, July 13, 2009. Available here.

9 “Big Picture: Okinawa: Keystone of the Pacific”, National Archives and Records Administration, Department of Defense. Date unknown.

10 Hayashi Kiminori et al.

11 Karen L. Gatz and Edward C. Keefer, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968: Japan, vol. XXIX, United States Government Printing Office, 
Washington, 
2006. 276.

12 Jon Mitchell, “Operation Red Hat: Chemical weapons and the Pentagon smokescreen on Okinawa,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 30, No. 1. August 5, 2013. Available here.

13 Interviews with author conducted August ~ October 2013.

14 Jon Mitchell, “Vets win payouts over Agent Orange use on Okinawa”, The Japan Times, February 14, 2012. Available here.

15 Jon Mitchell, “US Military Defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange,” The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 5, September 12, 2011. Available here.

16 Jon Mitchell, “Poisons in the Pacific: Guam, Okinawa and Agent Orange,” The Japan Times, August 7, 2012. Available here.

17 Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting, “Defoliated Island – Agent Orange, Okinawa and the Vietnam War,” May 15, 2012. Available to watch here.

18 Electronic telegram, “OKINAWA POLLUTION FLAP ON ARMY LEAK OF HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM”, U.S. Consulate Naha, August 25, 1975.

19 Electronic telegram, “OKINAWA GOVERNOR RAISES FUEL PIPELINE WITH USAGO,”U.S. Consulate Naha, September 18, 1974.

20 Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting.

21 Jon Mitchell, “Agent Orange revelations raise Futenma stakes,” The Japan Times, October 18, 2011. Available here.

22 “Mongooses near U.S. bases have high PCB levels,” Kyodo, August 19, 2013. Available here.

23 Sakurai Kunitoshi, “Okinawan Bases, the United States and Environmental Destruction,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, November 10, 2008. Available here.

24 For an English language report see: “Asbestos Found in Tower on Camp Courtney,” Japan Update, July 12, 2013. Available here.

25 “PCB waste from US military sites will be disposed in Fukushima,” Japan Press Weekly, September 23, 2013. Available here.

Israel’s Evolution towards a Fascist Racist State

November 26th, 2013 by Jim Miles

This is a powerfully written book, a mixture of current events, historical data, and personal anecdotal comments and stories. Throughout there are pervasive themes that clearly outline the nature of the Israeli state as it exists today. From May 2009 up to early 2013, Max Blumenthal passed “many prolonged stays in the Holy Land,” from which he derived this current assessment.

The over-riding themes, and they all tend to intermingle within the right wing ideologies of the Netanyahu/Leiberman government, are all based on the demographic threat that Israel perceives to be the main problem – and indeed acknowledges to be, and has always been seen as a problem from the earliest Zionists.

While in the past there were some at least minimally effective two-country advocates, the current situation has developed into one of over-riding racist state fascism. This expresses itself in the ongoing settlements developments, now more overtly antagonistic to the Palestinians, the many race based laws prohibiting Palestinian participation in society, accompanied by overt acts of racism to Palestinians and African refugees, and open expressions of hostility indicating the desire to simply get rid of both groups.

The idea of a “Jewish and democratic state” also comes to a crashing halt as there are many instances of political leaders essentially indicating that they would choose Jewishness before democracy.

The first section of the work provides the current events background that gives rise to the Netanyahu/Leiberman government. Blumenthal quotes Netanyahu as telling Israelis “To steel themselves for ‘an ongoing national exertion and the possibility of periodic bouts of international confrontation.’” He says this summarizes “the colonial logic animating his approach to the Palestinians and rationalizing it to the outside world.”

Blumenthal continues from there, discussing various domestic laws, the banning of certain books, the use of IDF and Shin Bet personnel to control the education system, the rise of security overcoming democratic concerns, and the gradual erosion of the Supreme Court in face of Zionistic fascism within the “tribalistic culture.” The much more open and hostile racial and fascistic comments keep coming, the national disguising of the news as in the Mavi Marmara incident, the effects of the national propaganda in keeping with the Knesset resets shows “the end of democracy is an inevitable outcome,” while the “occupation is hidden behind all these layers of fake democracy.”

The next section recalls the violence of the occupation, demonstrating that with the current events within the West Bank and in Gaza, the Days of ‘48 have come again, now with a “fascist government that has proven itself capable of massacring the unarmed.” That violence all comes back to ethnic/racial identity “that is the basis of apartheid.” A quick review of the initial attacks of 1948 and the original quotes of that era survive: “there is no room in the country for both people;” and “Not one village must be left, not one tribe.”

The holocaust is another theme throughout the book as it has become a theme of daily Israeli life, brought back as an excuse to continue their own violence towards others. Yet, as seen by a few, “We perpetuate death, and that’s why we will never become a normal people.”

The military is another obvious centralizing theme throughout the work. It covers the main part of two chapters, and its overall pervasiveness creates “a colonial culture in which Jewish Israeli youth become conditioned to act as sadistic overlords toward their Palestinian neighbours, and of a perpetual conquest that demanded indoctrination begin at an early age and continue perpetually throughout their lives.” The military has become the “most important institution of socialization and indoctrination” in Israeli society. Within that institution are the wellsprings of the misogynist nature of society and the highly sexualised nature of the racial taunts.

But even more powerful than the military, in liaison with it, religious nationalism now trumps both the military and justice systems. From this extreme right group now in control lie the “harbingers of wild racial violence in the future.” Part of this future are “concentration camps…erected by the Israeli rulers” as foreseen by Yeshayahu Leibowitz. The criminalizing of refugees – Palestian and the blacks from the Sudan – demonstrates “a harrowing vision of what was possible when the government chose to tap into the public’s unfathomably deep wellspring of prejudice.”

Towards the end of the book, Blumenthal discusses the wall mentality – the security wall, the Gaza walls, the walls of the Sinai, the new walls along the Jordanian border and with Syria. Some realize, “This is our future…we’ve become a frightened nation that imprisons itself behind fences and retreats into defensive walls,” making “increasingly rigid psychological barriers.”

In his final view, Blumenthal shows that the sexualized racial taunting, the overt racial violence, is “an increasingly common feature of Israeli political language” in “the adventurous world of Israeli proto-fascism….The status quo…so entrenched, and the occupation…so manageable, [they] no longer felt compelled to mask their agenda with disingenuous appeals to Western opinions….Annexing the West Bank had finally entered the mainstream.”

One final irony highlighted itself: thirteen per cent of Israeli citizens now live outside the country. They tend to be the affluent, educated, secular and liberal younger members of Israeli society. The irony is strengthened in that Berlin has become one of the main expatriate colonies, where the Israelis go to find an open liberal more free environment to live.

Israel currently maintains diplomatic and trade relationships with many other countries, much of that on a military/security level. The image of Israel presented in Goliath is one of a fearful, arrogant, racist, non-democratic state controlled by a select right wing group. It has captured the media, the military, the Knesset and the justice system into one over-riding racialized fascist theocracy, far removed from any democracy, perpetuating its systems of fear in order to keep power intact.

Goliath is a powerful and distressing book for a view on what life in modern Israel is like.

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle and Global Research. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

From the 12th century to the beginning of the 14th, the Knights Templar, present in much of Europe, had become the bankers for the powerful and had taken part in the financing of several crusades. At the beginning of the 14th century, they were the main creditors of the King of France, Philip the Fair.

Faced with a debt burden that was straining his resources, Philip the Fair eliminated both his creditors and his debt by demonising the Knights Templar, accusing them of many crimes |1|. Their Order was outlawed, the leaders executed and its assets seized. Its army (fifteen thousand men, including one thousand five hundred knights), its patrimony and its credits to rulers failed to protect it from the power of a State set on eliminating its main creditor.

During the same era (11th – 14th centuries) Venetian bankers were also financing the Crusades and lending money to the powerful of Europe, but they manoeuvred much more deftly than the Knights Templar. In Venice, they took control of the State by founding the Venetian Republic. They financed the transformation of the Venetian city-state into a veritable empire including Cyprus, Euboea (Negroponte) and Crete. They made use of a clever strategy to gain lasting wealth and guarantee reimbursement of their credits: they decided to drive the Venetian state into debt towards the banks they owned. They were the ones who set the terms of the loan contracts, as they were at once bank owners and rulers of the State.

While Philip the Fair had an interest in physically ridding himself of his creditors to be free from the debt burden, the Venetian State reimbursed the debt to bankers in cash. The latter came up with the idea of creating public debt titles that could circulate between banks. This was a step towards the establishment of financial markets |2|. This type of loan is the precursor to the major form of State debt as we know it in the 21st century.

Today, seven centuries after Philip the Fair crushed the Knights Templar, the bankers of Europe, just like their Venetian or Genovese forebears, clearly have nothing to fear from governments.

The national states and the contemporary European Union proto-state may be more complex and sophisticated than the Venetian – or Genovese – Republics in existence from the 13th to the 16th century, but they are just as nakedly organs for the exercise of ruling class power, the 1% holding sway over the 99%. Mario Draghi, the former managing director of Goldman Sachs in Europe, heads the European Central Bank. The private bankers have placed their representatives or allies in key posts in governments and administrations. European Commission members are very attentive to the defence of private finance interests, and the lobbying that banks exert with respect to European parliamentarians, regulators and magistrates is very effective indeed.

If a handful of major capitalist banks have occupied centre stage in recent years, this must not hide the role of major private firms in industry and commerce, who use and abuse their close links with governmental structures just as deftly as the bankers. The maze of crossed interests amongst states, governments, banks, industrial and commercial firms, and major private communications groups is also one of the characteristics of capitalism, in its current phase as in earlier ones.

Indeed, as soon as capitalism became the victorious mode of production and the dominant social formation, representatives of major private groups and their allies have exercised power.

Looking back in history, the New Deal launched by President Roosevelt in 1933 and the thirty years following the 2nd World War seemed a parenthesis when the ruling class had to make certain limited but real concessions to the working class. Major capitalists had to play down their control over the state to some extent. With the neoliberal turn begun from the end of the 1970s, they threw discretion to the winds.

The 1980s put the spotlight on an utterly uninhibited ruling class, flaunting and cynically singing the praises of the profit motive and the all-out exploitation of peoples and of nature. The regrettably famous Margaret Thatcher saying, “There is No Alternative” still leaves its mark on the political, economic and social landscape, via violent attacks on rights and social victories. Mario Draghi, Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi (a leading Italian capitalist) and José Manuel Barroso have become emblematic figures of the continuation of Thatcher’s plan. The active complicity of socialist governments (from Schröder to Hollande, by way of Blair, Brown, Papandreou, Zapatero, Socrates, Letta, Di Rupo and several others) shows the extent to which they have become parties to the logic of the capitalist system, just like Barack Obama on the other side of the Atlantic. As US billionaire Warren Buffett stated: “It is a class war, and my class is winning”.

The public debt system as it functions in capitalism is a permanent mechanism for the transfer of wealth produced by the people towards the capitalist class. The crisis beginning in 2007-2008 reinforced this mechanism because the losses and debts of major banks were transformed into public debts. On a very large scale, governments socialised bank losses so banks could continue to make profits, which they redistribute to their capitalist owners.

Government leaders are the direct allies of the big banks and use their powers and public funds to serve the latter. There is a constant revolving door between major banks and governments. The number of Ministers of Finance and the Economy, or Prime Ministers, coming directly from major banks or going to them when they leave government has not stopped rising since 2008.

The banking profession is too essential to the economy to be left in private sector hands. Banks must be socialised (this implies expropriating them) and put under citizen control (of bank workers, clients, associations and representatives of local public stakeholders), as it must be subject to public service guidelines |3| and the income its activity generates must be used for the common good.

Public debt contracted to save banks is definitely illegitimate and must be renounced. A citizen audit must determine the other illegitimate and/or illegal debts and play a part in mobilisation so an anticapitalist alternative can take shape.

Bank socialisation and cancellation/repudiation of illegitimate debt must be part of a broader programme |4|.

As was the case in the Venetian Republic, nowadays in the European Union and in the majority of the most industrialized countries on the planet, the State operates in osmosis with the major private bank and obediently repays the public debt. Non-repayment of illegitimate debt, socialization of banks and other vital measures will be the outcome of an upsurge of the people as protagonists of their own history. This entails establishing a government as faithful to the oppressed as the Merkel, Obama and Hollande governments are to major private businesses. Such a government of the people must make inroads into sacrosanct major private property to develop the common good while respecting nature’s limits. This government must also make a radical break with the capitalist State and do away with all forms of oppression. An authentic revolution is necessary.

Translated by Marie Lagatta

Notes

|1| See David Graeber, DEBT The First 5.000 years, Ed. Melvillehouse Brooklyn, New York, 2011, 453 pages ; Thomas Morel et François Ruffin, Vive la Banqueroute!, Paris, Fakir Editions, 2013.

|2| Fernand Braudel, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme. XVe-XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Armand Collin, 1979 ; David Graeber, DEBT The First 5.000 years, Ed. Melvillehouse Brooklyn, New York, 2011, 453 pages.

|3| The banking sector must be fully public, with the exception of a small-scale co-operative sector, with which it could cohabitate and collaborate.

|4| Voir Damien Millet et Eric Toussaint, “Europe: What emergency programme for the crisis?” , http://cadtm.org/Europe-What-emerge… , published 1st July 2012; Thomas Coutrot, Patrick Saurin et Éric Toussaint, “Cancelling debt or taxing capital: why should we choose?”, http://cadtm.org/Cancelling-debt-or… ,published 2nd November 2013; What to do about the debt and the euro? http://cadtm.org/What-to-do-about-t…

 

Éric Toussaint, doctor of political science, is president of the CADTM Belgium (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, www.cadtm.org). He is the author of Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket, Chicago, 2012 and The World Bank : A critical Primer, London, Pluto Press, 2008, http://cadtm.org/The-World-Bank-A-c…

He is co-author with Damien Millet of Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Press, New York, 2010 http://cadtm.org/Debt-the-IMF-and-t…

War Crimes Tribunal: “Beyond Reasonable Doubt”, Israel Found Guilty of Genocide

November 25th, 2013 by Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) after listening to the testimonies of 11 prosecution witnesses and voluminous documentary evidence and extensive submissions by the prosecution and amicus curiae delivered its judgement on the two charges against the State of Israel and retired Army general Amos Yaron.

After considering the evidence by the prosecution and the submissions by both the Prosecution and the Amicus Curiae Defence teams, the Tribunal found the State of Israel guilty of genocide, and Amos Yaron of crimes against humanity and genocide.

In its judgement read by the President Tan Sri Lamin, the tribunal had heard the testimonies of 11 witnesses from Gaza, West Bank, expert witnesses as well as a renowned historian.

Chahira Abouardini, a resident of Camp Shatila witnessed the cold-blooded murder of her family members by the Lebanese Phalangist militia, under the order of the Israeli forces commandeered by General Amos Yaron. There was also expert accounts on the Sabra Shatilla massacre by prominent surgeon and author Dr Ang Swee Chai, who treated the wounded at the massacre and expert witness Bayan al Hout, whose book Sabra and Shatila September 1982 covers the history of the massacre.

According to Bayan, the massacre of Sabra and Shatila was one of the worse in the 20th century.  Dr Ang gave detailed accounts of the attacks that were carried out through air strikes, shelling and gunshots. Whole families were killed and brought into the hospital. Declassified reports released from the British National Archives, put the death toll of the massacre as 3,500.

The eyewitnesses from the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which included teenager Mahmoud Al-Sammouni and Salah al-Sammouni related the horrific events that resulted in the loss of numerous civilian lives and destruction of property where even children were victims. Expert witness Paola Manduca, a retired Professor at University of Genoa, Italy who is an expert Geneticist testified on the impact of weapons on reproductive health arising from the attacks in Gaza, especially to children. Israeli historian and socialist activist Ilan Pappe gave a revealing account of the Zionists’ leadership strategy to rid the Palestinians from their homeland since the 1940s.

The meaning of genocide as designated acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethical, racial or religious group such as killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Tribunal agreed with the prosecution’s argument that allegations in relation to the charge of genocide against Israel be placed in a more general historical context and the precedent for such an approach is in the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Construction of a Wall. That since 1948, there has been further massacres against Palestinians by or with the cooperation of Israelis forces, including against Palestinian refugees in the Lebanese refugees camp of Sabra and Shatila in 1982, and in Jenin and Nablus in 2002..

The three-week Operation Cast Lead, which killed 1,400 Palestinians including 300 children and hundreds of unarmed civilians, was an attack that was meticulously planned for six months. Large areas were razed and thousand were made homeless, the economy completely ruined.

The prosecution added that the destruction had cumulative effects of cultural and religious destruction, renaming villages and destruction of places of worship, troubled economic and physical effects, severe restricted freedom of movement, scarcity and control of water, adverse conditions of life and the impact of the 2006 attacks and the usage of White phosphorus ammunition in 2009 on the reproductive health of the Gaza population. Basically, the harsh conditions of life were deliberately inflicting to destroy a group and the acts are equivalent to those of war with a genocidal intent.

The prosecution had shown beyond reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of the crime of genocide under the Genocide Convention and the KL War Crimes Charter.

The Tribunal was not with the Amicus Curiae on the argument that is no case to answer based on the argument that a State cannot be charged for criminal liability without the State having submitted to the jurisdiction of the tribunal since States have sovereign immunity.

The Tribunal found that absolute immunity is an antiquated doctrine and is inclined to break free from this restriction. The Tribunal rejects absolute immunity for genocide and war crimes, as there is no equitable application of the law. Weak nations are victimised by powerful nations with impunity. The Tribunal further found that the force employed by IDF is excessive, totally disproportionate and a violation of international law. The methods used are unspeakably inhumane and amount to war crime.

The Tribunal found that The Kahan Report clearly shows that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) was in control at the relevant time of the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre in September 1982 and Yaron was the commanding officer in charge of the forces entering in and out of the area. He had controlled and permitted the Phalangists to carry out the massacre that went for days.

The Tribunal found that there was a long catalogue of acts since 1948 to date that are a repeated pattern against the Palestinian people, from expulsion, killing, brutal attacks with powerful weapons and other actions as shown in the trial. An unbearable condition of life has been imposed on an entire population. It is incredible that in an age of human rights, such atrocities can continue to rage for more than 6 decades and that there are people in nations who trivialise such inhumanity. The Tribunal unanimously holds that the acts committed against the Palestinians amount to genocide over the last 67 years.

The Tribunal orders that reparations commensurate with the irreparable harm and injury, pain and suffering undergone by the complainant war crimes victims be paid to them. Though the tribunal is a tribunal of conscience with no real power of enforcement, the tribunal finds that the witnesses are entitled ex justitia to the payment of reparations by the two convicted parties. The tribunal hopes that the witnesses armed with the findings of the tribunal will, in the near future, find a state or an international judicial entity able and willing to exercise jurisdiction and enforce the verdict of this Tribunal. The tribunal’s award of reparations will be submitted to the War Crimes Commission to facilitate the determination and collection of reparations by the Complainant War Crime Victims.

President Lamin further read, “As a tribunal of conscience, the Tribunal is fully aware that its verdict is merely declaratory in nature. The tribunal has no power of enforcement. What we can do under Article 34 of Chapter VIII of Part 2 of the Charter is to recommend to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission to submit this finding of conviction by the Tribunal, together with a record of these proceedings, to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.

The Tribunal further recommends under Article 35 of the same Chapter that the names of the two convicted parties be entered in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals and publicised worldwide. The tribunal also recommends that conviction be given the widest international publicity, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions.

The Tribunal further read that it deplores the failure of international institutions to punish the State of Israel for it crimes and its total lack of respect of International law and the institutions of the United Nations. It urges the Commission to use all means to publicise the judgement and in particular with respect to the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the major powers such as the members of the G8 and to urge these countries to intervene and put an end to the colonialist and racist policies of the State of Israel and its supporters.

The judges of the Tribunal were headed by retired Malaysian Federal Court judge Tan Sri Dato Lamin bin Haji Mohd Yunus Lamin, who also served as an ad litem judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The other judges in the Tribunal include notable names such as Tunku Sofiah Jewa, practising lawyer and author of numerous publications on International Law, Prof Salleh Buang, former Federal Counsel in the Attorney-General Chambers and prominent author, and Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, prominent academic and professor of law, Dato’ Saari Yusof, former Appeal Court judge, Mr John Philpot, a senior litigation lawyer from Canada and Tunku Intan Mainura from the Faculty of Law, UiTM and a specialist in international law.

The prosecution for the trial is led by Prof Gurdial S Nijar, prominent law professor and author of several law publications and Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman, senior barrister, and assisted by a team of lawyers.

The trial, which was open to the public, was held from November 20 to 25, 2013 at the premises of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW) at 88, Jalan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur. Live feed of the tribunal hearing is also available on www.criminalisewar.org <http://www.criminalisewar.org> at Malaysian time GMT +8.

About Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC)

The KLFCW established the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (The Commission), to investigate cases of war crimes that have been neglected by established institutions such as the International Criminal Court. The Commission seeks to influence world opinion on the illegality of wars and occupation undertaken by major Western powers.

The aim of The Commission is thereby to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their actions especially when relevant international judicial organs fail to do so.

The Commission
The commission’s function is to:
i) receive complaints from any victim(s) of any conflict on:

(a) Crimes against peace
(b) Crimes against humanity
(c) Crimes of genocide
(d) War crimes

ii) investigate the same and prepare a report of its findings. To further call for more evidence or where The Commission is satisfied to recommend prosecution

The Legal Team

The legal team’s aim is to present the complaints of victim(s) of any conflict and to act on the recommendation of The Commission’s report and to frame charges and prosecute accused person(s).

The Tribunal

The Tribunal shall adjudicate on the charges filed against the accused person(s) The applicable standard of proof shall be beyond reasonable doubt.

About the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW)

Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad founded the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW), a non-governmental organisation established under the laws of Malaysia on 12 March 2007.

The main objectives of the Foundation, as stated in its Statutes are, inter alia:

1.    To undertake all necessary measures and initiatives to criminalise war and energise peace;

2.    To provide relief, assistance and support to individuals and communities who are    suffering from the effects of war and armed conflict wherever occurring and without discrimination on the grounds of nationality, racial origin, religion, belief, age, gender or other forms of impermissible differentiations;

3.    To promote the education of individuals and communities suffering from the effects of war or armed conflict;

4.    To foster schemes for the relief of human suffering occasioned by war or armed conflict;

5.    To provide for mechanisms or procedures in attainment of the above purposes.


WHY is it that the murder of one man is considered a criminal act whereas the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people committed in wars, is not considered so? -Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

The 9/11 Truth Movement in Canada has been fighting for its  right to run ReThink911 ads in the Ottawa public transit, OC Transpo. The ReThinks ads read: “Did you know that a third tower fell on 9/11? World Trade Centre Building 7, not hit by a plane, collapsed in free fall 7 Hours after the Twin Towers”.

Transit Commission Chair and City Councillor Diane Deans called these ads “insensitive” and proposed to review OC Transpo’s advertising policy:

“Ms. Deans called the ads ‘insensitive’ and apparently believes that the ads violate standards of community acceptability. Ms. Deans did not change her position or apologize when it was made clear that the ads were sponsored in part by 9/11 victims’ family members”. (Statement: Ottawa’s Transit Advertising Policy and the December Ad Campaign in Canada)

On November 20, members of the 911 Truth Movement asserted their right to free speech before the Transit Commission. Speaking on behalf of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Isabelle Beenen told the commissioners:

Should such an activity be blocked because some in our society are uncomfortable about the implications of this building being brought down by controlled demolition? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says “no,” our right to share this information respectfully – as we have done – is protected.

A statement was also read on behalf of Robert McIlvaine who lost his son on 9/11. He clearly states that the 9/11 Truth Movement and the ReThink ads are not disrespectful to the families of the victims. In fact, it is quite the opposite:

I attended the great majority of the [9/11] Commission hearings. I felt that the Commissioners were condescending and obsequious. They never asked the hard questions that the family members requested…

The Rethink 9-11 campaign is merely asking the world to take another look at the facts of that day. To state that these ads do an injustice to the 9-11 families is horribly wrong and misguided. We families need to find the truth.  (See all the complete statements below.)

The commissioners voted in favor of a review of the advertising policy even though a councilor and lawyer said that offensive or disturbing (to children) ads could be removed by the authority, but the ReThink911 ads were nowhere near the legal test for this.

There will be a new round of ads running in December. It comes as no surprise that the ReThink911 ads are portrayed as “conspiracy theories” by the mainstream media. David Reevely from the Ottawa Citizen even took the liberty of putting this propagandist term in the activists’ mouths:

“New ads promoting conspiracy theories about the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, are coming to buses in December, activists told Ottawa’s transit commission Wednesday.” (David Reevely, Fresh 9/11 ads coming to OC Transpo buses amid review of advertising policy, Ottawa Citizen, November 20, 2013)

If you read all the activists’ statements below carefully, you will clearly see that none of the “activists told Ottawa’s transit commission” that “(n)ew ads promoting conspiracy theories” were coming to a bus near you. Another deplorable example of the sadly biased state of the mainstream media, discrediting honest citizens fighting for a new independent investigation on the tragic events of 9/11.

You will find all the transcripts of the statement below, as well as a video of the activists appearing before the commission.


ReThink911 at the Ottawa Transit Commission


Statements

Isabelle Beenen

This statement is from the organization Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the sponsor of the ReThink911 ads:

ReThink911 is a global public awareness campaign launched on September 1, 2013 to educate the public and galvanize support for a new investigation into the events of 9/11.

In September the ReThink911 campaign ran ads on 300 buses in Ottawa asking riders the simple question: “Did you know a third tower fell on 9/11?” This question was in reference to the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7, which collapsed suddenly, symmetrically, and at free-fall acceleration into its own footprint at 5:20pm on 9/11.

When you watch this video, it is not difficult to understand why more than 2,000 architects and engineers signed the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth petition calling for a new investigation into this building’s destruction.

It is also not difficult to understand why 51% of Canadians who watched this same 30-second video said that they suspect the building’s collapse was caused by controlled demolition, and only 18% suspected it was caused by fires, which is what the U.S. government tells us.

Unfortunately, still to this day, millions of people around the world are not aware of the collapse of Building 7, let alone have they seen it. The goal of ReThink911 is to make this information widely known by running advertisements in cities around the world, encouraging the public to look at the evidence, and decide for themselves.

Should such an activity be blocked because some in our society are uncomfortable about the implications of this building being brought down by controlled demolition? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says “no,” our right to share this information respectfully – as we have done – is protected.

And so we continue onwards. Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth is pleased to announce that we are launching a second round of ReThink911 ads in Ottawa and Toronto this December to raise further awareness of the collapse of Building 7. Starting the first week of December, thanks to the generosity and commitment of hundreds of supporters, ReThink911 ads will be seen on the backs of dozens of buses in Ottawa and inside hundreds of subway cars and buses in Toronto, featuring a new question: “Have you seen the video of World Trade Center 7’s collapse? 51% of Canadians who see it suspect it was a controlled demolition.”

AE911Truth’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness are dedicated to the victims, families and all others throughout the world affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. We ask for your support in helping to bring about a future of peace and justice, based on a solid foundation of truth.


Statement read on behalf of Mr. Bob McIlvaine, who lives in Philadelphia and could not be here today. Mr. McIlvaine lost his son on 9/11 at the World Trade Center:

My son, Bobby, age 26, a Princeton graduate and employee of Merrill Lynch, died in New York City on September 11, 2001.

Like most of the world, I believed that Osama Bin Laden and a group called Al Qaeda perpetrated these horrible acts. But as time went on, I began to think differently. I attended the great majority of the Commission hearings. I felt that the Commissioners were condescending and obsequious. They never asked the hard questions that the family members requested. Finally, after the hearings ended, the Commissioners admitted that the hearings were compromised. They even admitted that they knew Pentagon officials lied. Commissioner Richard Ben Veniste stated, “The hearings were an exposition and not an investigation.” Max Cleland, another Commissioner, quit the 9/11 Commission, stating that it was “nothing but a sham.”

Hundreds of family members agree with this assessment. We have never had an investigation and it is time that we had one. The Rethink 9-11 campaign is merely asking the world to take another look at the facts of that day. To state that these ads do an injustice to the 9-11 families is horribly wrong and misguided. We families need to find the truth. Thank you.

Robert McILvaine

Father of Bobby


David Long 911 Justice Canada

Honourable transit commission members,

My name is David Long. I’m a 9/11 survivor.

(I am here today to speak on behalf of myself and Bob McIlvaine, who lost his son Bobby McIlvaine on 9/11.)

In 1999, I moved from Ottawa to the United States and was at Merrill Lynch in New York City by 2001. Bobby McIlvaine was also an employee of Merrill Lynch. On that morning I left the subway at Fulton and was about to go between WTC1 and 2. I stopped on Fulton and if I hadn’t I would probably be dead. The first explosion blew out the back side of WTC 1 and scattered debris widely. I felt the heat from the second explosion. I could see molten metal coming out of the towers. This looked very peculiar and these fires burned for weeks after. The smell was like burnt plastic and dead bodies. I didn’t understand what that was until AE911Truth explained it. These were not natural burning fires, but highly engineered incendiaries containing their own source of oxygen.

From that point, I had doubts about the official story. There were huge explosions and many of them. The first one felt like an earthquake. As the towers collapsed there were sounds of many massive explosions.

Ms. Deans and respected committee members, the ad policies are fine as they stand. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives me the right to speak freely about what I saw and heard on 9/11, just as it gives the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth and the ReThink911 campaign the right to share information about what happened on 9/11. Therefore, in the spirit of this brave and important campaign, I stand with Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, with Bob McIlvaine, father of Bobby McIlvaine – one of my co-workers killed during the attacks, my fellow New Yorkers and our many supporters here in Ottawa. We ask you to ReThink911.

75% of prisoners in Dubai central jail allege being tortured by police, a new report released today by the human rights charity Reprieve has revealed. The release comes just days before the country will find out whether its bid to host the 2020 World Expo has been successful.

The report, ‘Systematic Torture: Statistics from Dubai Central Jail’, compiled by a number of prisoners and analysed by lawyers at Reprieve, reveals that 75% of prisoners report some sort of torture or abuse by police upon arrest. Prisoners have also detailed the type of torture to which they were subjected with an alarming number including threats of a sexual nature. One prisoner reported that “They kept saying if you don’t co-operate, we will all [expletive] you one by one.”

Other techniques allegedly used by police include electrocution, severe beatings, and death threats. One prisoner said: “I was beaten so badly I could not kneel to pray for 15 days” while another alleges that “Police said this is their country so they can kill me and throw my body in desert as I am foreign.” Many prisoners featured in the report say that they were tortured in order to extract confessions, for example one prisoner who said that “the CID police pointed his gun at me and said he would shoot me if I don’t tell I sell drugs”.

Such reports of police torture are common in Dubai. One example is that of Grant Cameron, Suneet Jeerh and Karl Williams, three British tourists who were subjected to beatings and electric shocks, before being forced to sign documents in Arabic – a language they do not understand – while on holiday in Dubai last year. The men were subsequently pardoned and released, but, despite pressure from the UK Prime Minister to do so, the UAE has failed to carry out an independent investigation into their mistreatment.

Dubai’s bid to host the 2020 World Expo – which has its origins in London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 – has received backing from a number of high-profile supporters, including Bill Gates and former US President Jimmy Carter. Human rights charity Reprieve has written to many of these supporters urging them to reconsider their backing unless the UAE takes action on police torture. The decision on who will host the World Expo is expected on the 27th November.

Catherine Higham, a caseworker at Reprieve, said: “These allegations of torture by Dubai’s police are too numerous and too serious to be ignored. UAE authorities must take seriously these reports and investigate them thoroughly if the country’s reputation as a major tourist and business reputation is to be maintained.”

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal Hearing on Palestine–Testimony by Dr. Ilan Pappe.

On November 22, 2013, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) went into the third day of the hearing on genocide and war crimes charges against the State of Israel and Amos Yaron, a retired Israeli army general.

The tribunal heard the testimony of renowned historian and socialist activist, Prof Ilan Pappe, who informed the tribunal about the systematic ethnic cleansing via expulsion and killing of the Palestinians from their homeland since 1948. Three witnesses from West Bank also gave an account of their trials and tribulations under the Israelis.

The testimony of Dr. Pappe was an interesting and revealing account of the Israeli leadership strategy to rid the Palestinians from their homeland since the 1940s. He testified that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s leaders then.

He testified that the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 constituted ethnic cleansing, as the Zionists movement was not concerned with the native people. He revealed that it was as early as in the 1940s when it began deliberating the fate of the indigenous people of Palestine and that they wanted to take over Palestine with as little Palestinians in it by having them leave voluntarily or be forced out.

He further revealed that from 1948 until 1949, the plan was enforced by Israeli forces to cleanse villages and towns of Palestinians by encircling the villages/towns from three flanks to intimidate the residents into leaving by leaving one flank open. Some 530 villages were wiped out physically. Under the partition plan, 56% of the land was to be handed to Israel wherein the 2/3 of the population was Palestinians. In the end, 93% of the land came under the control of Israel and 750,000 Palestinians were left out as refugees in neighbouring countries, in Gaza and West Bank. After the 1967 war, Gaza and West Bank were occupied.

He added that having taken over most of Palestine territories, the policy changed from expelling to destroying the Palestinians. Hence, the Sabra & Shatilla massacre was an attempt to destroy Palestinians in Lebanon.

He told the tribunal that the use of military action against Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank was considered genocidal against people who cannot defend themselves. Military operations such as Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, and Cast Lead were just to kill the Palestinians and destroy the economy, culture and their spirit.

In cross-examination by Amicus Curiae Jason Kay, Prof Pappe agreed that his view of history is a minority view and that while he is grateful that the Zionist movement had saved his parents from the Nazi holocaust for which he is grateful; however, the moral way is to live together with the Palestinians, not expel and kill them.

For more information, please visit:
http://criminalisewar.org/2013/renown…

Pakistan: Blocking NATO Supplies to Stop Drones

November 25th, 2013 by Ashfaq Yusufzai

Posters and billboards have been posted by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf workers on University Road in Peshawar to urge people to attend their Nov. 23 anti-drone protest. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Nov 22 2013 (IPS) - Upping the ante against U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, celebrated cricketer-turned-political leader Imran Khan has threatened to block NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where his party leads a coalition government.

“We are holding the biggest ever anti-drone protest in Peshawar, where we could decide to block NATO supplies permanently,” Khan, who leads the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI), told IPS ahead of massive protests planned by the party for Nov. 23.

“We don’t want to start a fight with the U.S. but we have every right to protest these illegal assaults which kill innocent people,” Khan said, calling the attacks a breach of international law and a violation of human rights.

His party is enraged over a U.S. drone strike at a madrassa or religious seminary that killed at least eight people in Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in northwestern Pakistan, on Nov. 20.

The PTI leads the coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is one of two key routes used by NATO to move supplies in and out of neighbouring Afghanistan and is strategically important as U.S.-led forces prepare to withdraw from the war-torn country in 2014.

“More than 200,000 political activists will gather here to send a very loud and clear message,” Khan said about the Nov. 23 demonstrations. “On the same day, a similar anti-drone protest will take place in the UK.”

When the party had organised a major two-day protest on Apr. 23-24, 2010, NATO supplies were suspended.

The PTI has staunchly opposed drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The strikes target Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders who have taken refuge in FATA along a 2,400-km porous border with Afghanistan after being evicted from Kabul by U.S.-led forces towards the end of 2001.

FATA, which is directly ruled by the federal government, is teeming with militants, some of them with huge bounties on their heads as they are aggressively pursued by the U.S. for alleged involvement in the Sep. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Many high-profile Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed in the drone strikes.

Khan said his party wants to convey to the world that the U.S. government is killing innocent people in the garb of targeting militants.

“Even if those targeted in these strikes are supposed militants, the U.S. has no right to kill them without taking the Pakistan government into confidence,” Khan said.

Besides, while most drone attacks have taken place in FATA, the Nov. 20 strike was in the PTI’s stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We won’t allow drone strikes on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa soil,” Khan said.

He had earlier stated that they would stop NATO supplies even if it meant his party losing its place in the provincial government. But he later stressed that only his party workers would take part in the protest.

“The PTI government in the province will stay away from the protest because we don’t want to take any illegal steps,” Khan said.

The PTI has been accusing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of failing to raise the concerns of Pakistani citizens about drone strikes with President Barack Obama.

“We were the first to point out that these strikes were in total contravention of U.N. and other international law that guarantees the sovereignty of any country,” he said.

He said the U.S. had sabotaged the government’s proposed peace talks with the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan by killing its leaderHakimullah Mehsud in a Nov. 1 drone attack.

“Targeting a madrassa with missiles from a drone, killing our citizens, is a clear violation of the province’s territorial rights,” Muhammad Junaid, a PTI worker, told IPS. The shopkeeper from the militancy-hit Swabi district said drone strikes kill innocent people, including women and children, and should not be permitted by any country.

“We have the right to protest,” said Junaid. “We are ready to join Imran Khan, our leader, in stopping supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.”

The Jamaat Islami Party and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad, the PTI’s allies in the provincial government, are on the same page.

“Upwards of 150,000 protestors will take part in the protest against drone strikes and over the continuation of NATO supplies,” Jamaat Islami chief Syed Munnawar Hassan said.

“We can stop them [NATO supplies] permanently,” he said.

Israel’s War on Palestinian Children

November 25th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Israel is a serial human rights abuser. It’s one of the world’s worst. It’s war on Palestinian children alone reflects it.

They’re systematically abused unjustly. Up to 700 are arrested annually. Most are lawlessly charged with stone-throwing. Children young as five are terrorized. They’re too young to know why.

They’re abusively treated during arrests, transfers and interrogations. They’re denied fundamental rights.

In 1991, Israel ratified the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It didn’t matter. It brazenly violates its provisions.

Article 37 states in part:

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

“No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.”

“The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

“Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.”

“Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.”

Principle 1 of the 1959 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child states:

“Every child, without exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to (fundamental human and civil) rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.”

They’re entitled to special protections and opportunities to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially under conditions of freedom and dignity.

Not in Occupied Palestine. Israel treats them mercilessly. It treats them like adults. Arrests are lawless and violent. Homes are broken into unannounced pre-dawn.

Property is damaged or stolen. Children are blindfolded, shackled, and beaten. They’re thrust into jeeps. Sometimes it’s face down.

At detention centers, they’re interrogated harshly. They’re painfully shackled. They’re denied access to family members and legal counsel for days.

They’re threatened, terrorized, beaten, slapped, kicked, denied food and water for prolonged periods, and deprived of sleep.

Confessions are forcibly extracted. They’re forced to sign them in Hebrew they don’t understand. Many become traumatized. Hundreds of complaints are filed. Doing so does no good.

Israel is the only nation trying children in military courts. Palestinians aren’t afforded the same rights as Jews. Failure to do so is blatantly discriminatory.

Under international law, adulthood begins at age 18. Israel considers children aged 16 and over adults. Military order 378 permits up to 20 years imprisonment for stone-throwing.

Fourth Geneva’s Article 147 requires fair trials. Israeli military courts are rigged to convict. Kangaroo court justice prevails.

Netanyahu and most other Israeli officials call criticism of flagrant state human rights abuses “anti-Israeli bias.”

Israel operates extrajudicially. Palestinian children endure some of its worst abuses.

On November 19, Defence for Children International Palestine discussed July through September Israeli violations. Increased violence occurred.

Mohammad A (aged 14) “was shot in the leg by live ammunition.” Laith E (aged 8) “was shot in the forehead and injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet.”

So was Basel S (aged 15). Live ammunition wounded Muhammad G (aged 16). Musab S (aged 6) “was shot in the eye with a rubbed-coated metal bullet as he was walking next to his mother.”

Israel bears full responsibility for these type incidents. They repeat with disturbing regularity. Arrests and brutal treatment follow.

Since the start of the September 2000 second Intifada, Israel arrested and brutalized over 9,000 Palestinian children.

Illegitimate military orders authorize them. They violate core international law provisions. Arrests are lawless and violent. Evidence is contrived to convict.

Forced confessions are used to pressure defense lawyers to accept plea bargains. The alternative is much longer sentences.

Israel takes full advantage. Plea bargains extract a high price. So does bail when authorized. Israel profits hugely. Collective punishment pays well.

Addameer addressed the issue. In October, it headlined “Economic Exploitation of Children in the Military Courts.”

It’s been following Ofer and Salem Military Courts cases. It found a disturbing trend. Arbitrary detentions result in “exorbitantly high fine(s) or bail.”

Economic exploitation is official Israeli policy. Palestinians face enormous financial burdens. Children given plea bargains or released on bail follow lawless arrests.

No evidence exists to convict them. Some are arrested randomly. Israel does it to harass and intimidate. Training exercises include breaking into Palestinian homes violently.

Terrorizing residents follows. Children are treated like adults. They’re processed through lawless military courts. According to Addameer, 27 children’s rights international conventions are violated.

During arrest and detention, “children are put under military and police interrogation which includes aspects amounting to torture, including:

physical assault, stress positions, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, verbal threats, isolation in two meter by two meter cells, and denied access to parents or lawyers.”

Innocence is no defense. Forced confessions are extracted. They’re used against them. They extort huge penalties from parents.

Bail when granted can be up 4,000 NIS (around $1,000) or higher. Most Palestinians are poor. Many are deeply impoverished. They struggle to get by. Any fine or bail amount is unaffordable.

Parents are forced to borrow, if able, or deprive family members of basic needs.

“An often overlooked consequence is the psychological affects it has on the family who are under financial burden despite the child’s innocence and arbitrary arrest,” said Addameer.

On September 29, Qusai Z (aged 17) was arrested. He was accused of stone-throwing and participating in a demonstration. Peaceful protests are considered illegal. Palestinians are denied all fundamental rights.

Military Order 101 prohibits gatherings of more than 10 Palestinians without advance IDF authorization. Violators are subject to up to 10 years imprisonment, heavy fines or both.

Qusai was innocent. Charges against him were bogus. Ofer’s military court judge ordered him released on 2,500 NIS bail. He did so after 11 days in detention.

Qusai’s family is poor. His mother told Addameer:

“My husband died six years ago, and I support my four children by myself, so I had to borrow 1,000 NIS from my neighbors.”

Qusai’s older brother was arrested three months earlier.

“This financial exploitation practiced against Palestinian prisoners and detainees in occupation prisons is a systematic policy to put pressure on the Palestinian society,” said Addameer.

It “takes advantage of the impoverished financial situation and helps the occupation (evade its) financial responsibilities towards the Palestinian prisoners and detainees.”

Addameer calls it “emotional blackmail.” It’s economic and financial extortion. It’s ruthless exploitation.

It steals from people with barely enough to live on. Some have too little. It does so based on lies. Innocence is no protection. Occupation harshness persists.

Osama R was lawlessly arrested coming home from school. He was falsely charged with stone-throwing. No evidence proved it. He was released on 1,500 NIS bail. After his hearing, his father said:

“What the occupation is doing is emotional blackmail. Israeli police called me a number of times, telling me to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba Settlement to pay my son’s bail, using statements such as:

‘Your child is very young. It is sad if he stays in prison. Your son needs to spend Eid vacation with his family,’ and other statements to make me pay the bail.”

“We will not accept financial and emotional blackmail, despite the fact that I support my family of twelve, and I am unable to pay this amount of money. I refuse to pay by force. I refuse financial blackmail.”

Mohammad F was arrested. He was falsely charged with stone-throwing. His lawyer arranged a plea bargain.

He remains imprisoned. His family is financially unable to make bail. “Despite this,” said Addameer, “he is expected to receive a month or month and a half extension if his family does not pay” the required amount.

Israeli extortion costs Palestinians up to 15 million NIS annually. It’s money they can’t afford. Israeli ruthlessness extracts it.

Profiting on Palestinian misery is official Israeli policy. It’s longstanding. It’s unrelenting. Western media ignore it. Pro-Israeli bias is longstanding.

The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs “made an important step towards confronting the occupation’s economic exploitation policies by announcing that they will stop assisting in paying the fines as a way to choke the military court system,” said Addameer.

It’s “a necessary step to support the Palestinian prisoners movement and its struggle to confront” Israel’s ruthless military judicial system.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

The P5 +1 and Iran agreed to a Nuclear Deal in Geneva.  The deal is being viewed as a historic moment in diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran.  It is the first phase of a process that will determine how far these new agreements Iran, the United States, France, Great Britain and Israel (who is behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia and U.A.E) will go.  Under the agreement, Iran will stop enriching uranium over 5% and dismantle its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium.  Iran will also cooperate with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with inspections and has agreed to stop construction on its heavy water reactor at the Arak plant.  In return, the US will release $4 billion in Iranian assets seized during previous sanctions.  It is a deal that the Israeli government is not comfortable with.  Israel wants a better deal that would have Iran completely abandon their nuclear program.

One certainty that you can count on is how much power Israel’s lobby in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has on the US Congress to reject Iran’s nuclear deal when the first phase ends in May 2014.  AIPAC has leverage over many key people in congress and even in the Oval office including the current US President Barack Obama.  Already both Republicans and Democrats are planning the next set of sanctions on Iran come this December.  “Disappointed” said Senator Charles Schumer of New York because it does not seem proportional. Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions…. This disproportionality…makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December” NBC News reported.

President Obama warned against new sanctions when he said “now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions, because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place”  But the Senate Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey said that the agreement would “provide for a six month window to reach a final agreement before imposing new sanctions on Iran,” even though sanctions would be “immediately available should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or breach the interim agreement” in a statement.

NBC news also reported what house speaker John Boehner said on Sunday after the deal was reached, he said that “we will look back on the interim deal as a remarkably clever Iranian move to dismantle the international sanctions regime” unless the Obama Administration dismantles its nuclear program in it’s entirely according to Boehner. There are several politicians in Washington that has introduced legislation concerning Israel’s security.  One of the most vocal advocates for Israel in congress is the U.S. House of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida who introduced a bill to congress called the ‘The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 (H.R. 938 and S. 462)’that clearly states

The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 seeks to dramatically strengthen the relationship between the two allies as they work to confront new threats and challenges in the Middle East. 

The legislation—co-sponsored by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) in the House and by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) in the Senate—declares that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States. This designation lays the foundation for expanded U.S.-Israel cooperation in a wide variety of spheres, including defense, intelligence, homeland security, energy, science and trade.

 Key Provisions:

  • Declares that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States
  • Expands authority for forward-deployed U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel, providing important military equipment for either to use in a crisis
  • Encourages the president to transfer essential military equipment to Israel to meet current and projected strategic threats
  • Seeks to find ways for Israel to join the Visa Waiver Program—eliminating the requirement for Israelis and Americans to acquire tourist visas to visit either country
  • Authorizes the president to provide assistance to Israel promoting cooperation in such fields as energy, water, homeland security, and agriculture
  • Encourages the enhancement of scientific cooperation and collaboration between the two countries
  • Encourages continued American assistance for the Iron Dome rocket defense system

Not surprising that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen would propose a bill that would give the Israeli state a blank check with American tax dollars.  American society cannot continue to support Israel especially with a $17+ trillion debt crises looming.  The US government cannot even afford to repay its creditors, but Israel is seems to be a top priority for funding its military.  She is the same person that stated in 2011 to Haaretz, an Israel’s daily newspaper concerning Palestinian Statehood which she opposed:       

“Our executive branch goes along, pays billions to the UN, so the UN has zero incentive to reform. We should shift UN funding to a voluntary basis, because smart withholding the funds works,” she said. The threat to cut financial aid to the Palestinians, despite the Administration’s objections, makes perfect sense, Ros-Lehtinen added.

“We need to stop Abu-Mazen’s dangerous scheme.

I hope that the U.S. Congress takes a very forceful stand against this statehood issue. It’s time to tell the Palestinians: If you are going with this statehood issue and it is granted, then the U.S. must cut funding to the Palestinians. We gave them billions of dollars these past years, but is Israel safer because of this money going to the Palestinian Authority?”  Is she not concerned that if the U.S. withdraws funds, the vacuum will be filled by countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia?  “Of course these countries can always try to fill the vacuum, but at least we won’t be part of the problem, and if we fund this scheme, we are part of the problem, we are funding a sworn enemy of the State of Israel, and I don’t want our tax dollars to do that,” she says.

The Obama Administration and the US Congress will have members for and against sanctions on Iran.  The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will push for sanctions on Iran.  AIPAC has made numerous contributions to many Republican and Democrat pro-Israel politicians in Washington that include Senators John McCain who received $750,368, Carl Levin ($366,378), Harry Reid ($179,640) and Robert Menéndez ($219,135).  In the US House of Representatives Mark Kirk ($458,979), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ($141,507), Eric Cantor ($119,350) and Nancy Pelosi ($83,400).  The next 6-months of the Iranian nuclear deal will be a marked with accusations against Iran that they are not complying by the rules the deal originally had.  AIPAC and its US Congress members on its payroll will do what it takes to let the nuclear deal fail.  The US Congress is bought and paid for by AIPAC as is the Obama Administration.  Both are under Israel’s political control. In ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy ’by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt a New York Times bestseller describe AIPAC’s enormous influence on the US Congress:                                                                                                              

A key pillar of the Lobby’s effectiveness is its influence in the U.S. Congress, where Israel is virtually immune from criticism. This is in itself a remarkable situation, because Congress almost never shies away from contentious issues. Whether the issue is abortion, affirmative action, health care, or welfare, there is certain to be a lively debate on Capitol Hill. Where Israel is concerned, however, potential critics fall silent and there is hardly any debate at all.

One reason for the Lobby’s success with Congress is that some key members are Christian Zionists like Dick Armey, who said in September 2002 that “My No. 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.” One would think that the number 1 priority for any congressman would be to “protect America,” but that is not what Armey said. There are also Jewish senators and congressmen who work to make U.S. foreign policy support Israel’s interests. ProIsrael congressional staffers are another source of the Lobby’s power. As Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC, once admitted, “There are a lot of guys at the working level up here [on Capitol Hill] … who happen to be Jewish, who are willing … to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness …. These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators …. You can get an awful lot done just at the staff level.”

It is AIPAC itself, however, that forms the core of the Lobby’s influence in Congress. AIPAC’s success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it. Money is critical to U.S. elections (as the recent scandal over lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s various shady dealings reminds us), and AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the myriad proIsrael political action committees. Those seen as hostile to Israel, on the other hand, can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to their political opponents. AIPAC also organizes letterwriting campaigns and encourages newspaper editors to endorse proIsrael candidates.

US Congress will push forward with sanctions in the coming months.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu will continue to threaten Iran with a military strike while the Obama administration continues its harshest sanctions until the Iranian people become disenchanted with the new government of Hassan Rouhani.  I wrote an article earlier this year titled ‘New Economic Sanctions on Iran, Washington’s Regime Change Strategy’ on one of the reasons why the US government imposed sanctions on Iran:

Obama is following the same strategy as previous US administrations, and that is to create economic difficulties for the Iranian people with the hope that they would overthrow their government.  It is intended to create “Regime Change”.

President Obama spoke at the White House Dining room after the deal.  One interesting part of the speech is to continue Washington’s harsh sanctions on the Iranian people.  He said:

On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions. We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions. But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure

Prepare for a long 6 months ahead.  Israel will try to disrupt Iran’s nuclear deal at any cost.  Iran will be accused of not following the conditions of the deal.  Washington will seed to Israel’s demands until Iran dismantles its nuclear program and submits to Israel’s dominance in the Middle East.  AIPAC controls the US Congress and the US presidency, make no mistake about that.  Many of Obama’s supporters believe that Obama is trying diplomacy, a road to peace.  But this is the same president that almost launched a war against Syria and is continuing his drone strike policies at unprecedented levels.  Remember the US and Israel are staunch allies to say the least, regardless of what the American Main Stream Media outlets say about the so-called “difficult” relationship between Obama and Natanyahu.  After all Obama declared America’s commitment to Israel’s security last March when he visited the country and said “I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbours.”  The question people should be asking is what is Washington’s next move?

The “Legacy” of Kennedy and Latinos: Myth versus Reality

November 25th, 2013 by Jimmy Franco Sr.

It has now been fifty years since the death of President Kennedy and this has created a lot of recent discussion and commentary on his work and life. Among Latinos much of this discussion has revolved around the traditional legacy story about how much he cared for Mexican-Americans and so on. A realistic perspective and factual assessment of this “close” relationship needs to be made minus the subjective and emotional aspects of this romanticized story. During the 1960 presidential campaign JFK’s political handlers crafted a campaign spin that consisted of an idealized and special political relationship that existed between the Mexican-American and Puerto Rican-American communities and the patrician Kennedy.

JFK finally meets a Mexican-American group: Texas LULAC  (A,Arroyos:clk.-enlarge)

JFK (right) finally meets a Mexican-American group: Texas LULAC (A,Arroyos:clk.-enlarge)

With the passage of time this subjective political spin has morphed into an entrenched mythical legacy. As the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum”, and the existence of historical amnesia creates a vacuum which has been filled by people with mythical and romanticized Camelot stories which conveniently replace the stubborn facts of reality. The main premise of this embellished Kennedy “legacy” that continues to endure is that this aristocratic and rich Bostonian Catholic who possessed good looks and oratory skills somehow had a special affinity for the “underdog” Mexicans within the Southwest. Also, the affection that this patrician patron held for Mexicans had somehow become transformed into reality by Kennedy’s expansion of their civil rights and a concrete improvement in their daily lives. Another aspect of this ongoing mythical legacy also promotes the subjective belief that if only Camelot Kennedy had lived that he would have done much more to advance the civil rights of Latinos who he frantically tried to help while alive but somehow couldn’t. This emotional and romanticized belief had even motivated many Latinos in the past to place photos of Kennedy on the walls of their living rooms next to the mystical santos, candles and other religious artifacts. This legacy has created a form of icon and hero worship toward this messianic aristocrat who supposedly had been drawn by fate from the sea coast of Martha’s Vineyard and Boston to venture to the Southwest to rescue powerless and oppressed Mexicans who were somehow incapable of organizing themselves. With the passage of time such an idealized story begins to resemble the old Aztec myth of a messianic white Quetzacoatl arriving to save them from the tribulations of life.

Kennedy’s dismal record on segregation and civil rights during the 1950′s

Kennedy’s father Joe Sr. had previously amassed a fortune during Prohibition by bootlegging illegal liquor and later used this money to fund John’s political career and his life as a carefree playboy. Kennedy’s aristocratic and luxurious life where partying and womanizing consumed much of his time was insulated by a racial and class wall from the reality of strict legal segregation which then existed and the challenges of working-class life. He was elected to the US House of Representatives where his short stint there was undistinguished as he took no clear positions on issues of substance. This was followed by his election to the US Senate from Massachusetts with the assistance of his father’s money as the elder Kennedy was motivated by the political goal of securing the US presidency for his son.

Mexican-American children attend a segregated school in 1950's California

Mexican-American children attend a segregated school in 1950′s California

In 1954, Republicans President Eisenhower and Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court Earl Warren assisted in overturning legal segregation with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs Board of Education. This was followed by Eisenhower’s use of troops in 1957 to desegregate Little Rock High School in Arkansas to protect African-American students from the violence of white racist mobs. At this point in history the Republicans were more tolerant and supportive of civil rights than the Democrats whose core leadership of their party was dominated by reactionary Southern Democrats called Dixicrats. In the decade prior to winning the presidency in 1960 John Kennedy did not take a principled nor public position in support of civil rights as he was accustomed to the existing segregation in Boston and the defense by the Democrats of the status quo. As a US Senator in 1957, Kennedy blatantly voted to oppose the 1957 civil rights bill in order to support and appease Southern Democrats who fiercely defended the continuation of racial segregation. By doing so Kennedy hoped to gain the attention and political support of the Dixicrat leaders for his future presidential bid. He was also silent on the federal government’s much publicized implementation of “Operation Wetback” during the 1950′s which was a national campaign that rounded up and deported tens of thousands of undocumented Mexicans. In summary, John Kennedy’s political career and activity during the years prior to running for president consisted of silent inaction and outright opposition to civil rights as he didn’t want to make any waves and was primarily interested in enjoying his playboy lifestyle.

The 1960′s presidential campaign and the growing civil rights movement

The presidential election of 1960 was influenced by the growing civil rights movement whose goal was to break down the wall of segregation that was harshly affecting the lives of all minorities within the country. The Republicans had a comparatively better record on civil rights than the Democrats during the 1950′s, but their 1960 presidential candidate Richard Nixon attempted to downplay this issue in order to appeal to the mass of conservative voters within the country especially those in the South who were accustomed to the traditional segregation of the races. Kennedy faced a close presidential race and encountered strong opposition from many Protestant voters due to his Catholic religion and rumors were spread widely by many groups of a possible “Papal takeover of the US” if he was elected president.

1960's Black students at a sit-in demonstration to integrate a restaurant.

1960′s Black students at a sit-in demonstration to integrate a restaurant.

In order to counter this anti-Catholic vote Kennedy’s political consultants developed a strategy to win over crucial African-American voters from the Republicans along with the growing number of Mexican-American and Puerto Rican voters. This campaign strategy prompted Kennedy to do an ideological and political about-face at the Democratic convention as he now declared himself to be in support of a civil rights plank that had been added to the party’s platform. As part of this campaign strategy Kennedy’s handlers identified five sectors whose votes needed to be mobilized in order to gain victory in the upcoming and close presidential election. Distinct and sometimes contradictory political messages and outreach were conveyed to these various sectors which consisted of organized labor, African-Americans, Latinos, southern Democrats and the Chicago mob. To carry out this strategy Kennedy’s consultants had advised him to make a sympathetic phone call to Martin Luther King’s wife Coretta as her husband languished in a jail after being arrested for a civil rights protest. This orchestrated political gesture by Kennedy was publicized widely to African-American voters who interpreted it as a position of strong support for their cause which Republican candidate Nixon had downplayed and ignored.

The political mobilization by the Viva Kennedy Clubs sparks a movement

Mexican-American Democrat leaders were involved in the campaign plan for getting out the Mexican vote by organizing Viva Kennedy clubs in different communities of the Southwest. The campaign political spin that these clubs disseminated to the various Mexican communities promoted Kennedy’s Irish ethnicity, his Catholic religion and particularly his emotional and idealistic speeches about equality, common ties and hope for the future which were receptive to the ears of Mexican-Americans suffering from discrimination and poverty. Campaign stops by Kennedy in the Southwest and California also utilized the new political tactic and campaign tradition of listening to Mariachi music, eating tacos and hugging Mexican political leaders for photo-ops.

Viva Kennedy Clubs helped spark Chicano activism in the 1960's    (Dr. Garcia papers)

Viva Kennedy Clubs helped spark Chicano activism in the 1960′s (Dr. Garcia papers)

The campaign stops organized by the Viva Kennedy Clubs included many of JFK’s grand and vague messages which promised the appointment of Mexican-Americans to posts within the federal government and the much needed expansion of civil rights and educational opportunities. These flowery speeches and emotional promises by the “messianic” Kennedy galvanized and played on the hopes and desperation of many Mexican-Americans voters who fervently believed that their vote for this candidate would eliminate the existing segregation, discrimination and poll taxes which obstructed their right to vote, hold office and live a free life. Despite the emotional attachment and extreme loyalty expressed by these Viva Kennedy clubs and their leaders for Kennedy he purposely kept his political distance from major Latino civil rights organizations and avoided any direct and formal meetings with them. He did not want publicity of any such meetings and commitments with civil rights groups to jeopardize his campaign appeal to pro-segregationist Democrat voters. While speaking to southern voters and politicians Kennedy quickly and opportunistically switched his political message in order to downplay and distance himself from the civil rights plank contained in the Democratic Party platform which he vaguely defined as something not yet achievable. Organized labor was another sector to be mobilized by Kennedy’s campaign and they were promised a raise in the minimum wage and stronger pro-worker legislation. Meanwhile, Kennedy’s father facilitated his old mob ties with Sam Giancana and the Chicago Mafia so as to enlist their aid in “winning” the vote in Illinois. These mob-inspired votes would be in exchange for the promise of having a future “friend” in the White House. All of these campaign promises to satisfy these five voting sectors were also accompanied by militant and aggressive foreign policy rhetoric that was aimed at Cuba and their people’s recent revolution, the Soviet Union, anti-colonial struggles for independence and the need to continue and win the arms race and Cold War.

A flawed presidency full of flowery promise and a lack of achievement

Kennedy preferred the exciting realm of foreign policy and particularly fighting the Cold War against the Soviet Union instead of what he considered annoying domestic issues such as civil rights and other urgent social problems which faced the country. Much of his energy was spent on wanting to out-compete the Soviet Union in the arms race, space exploration and in proxy wars involving independence movements throughout the third world. Upon being elected Kennedy’s first adventure into the arena of foreign policy was his approval for the invasion of Cuba in 1961. This military invasion resulted in a disastrous defeat as he had aligned himself with the ousted elements of the brutal ex-Batista regime and attempted to restore them to power in Cuba.

US supported Batista supporters are defeated at the Bay of Pigs invasion

US supported Batista supporters are defeated at the Bay of Pigs invasion

This military attack by Kennedy against the Cuban revolution and the embarrassing defeat at the Bay of Pigs would cause their leader Fidel Castro and his people to defend their newly-won revolution from an antagonistic US by turning to the rival Soviet Union for military aid and survival. The subsequent reckless installation of missiles in Cuba by the Soviets to counter US missiles near their border led to an international crisis with mutual threats and a possible military confrontation between the two superpowers. Instead of utilizing the rational method of democracy Kennedy and Kruschev escalated their military rhetoric which nearly erupted into a devastating nuclear war. This near nuclear disaster dissipated once the Soviets removed the missiles from Cuba. Kennedy’s foreign policy supported and provided military aid to the dictatorships in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Iran, South Korea, the Republic of the Congo and the authoritarian PRI in Mexico. The defeat of the US allied French colonialists by the Vietnamese in 1954 resulted in Eisenhower violating an international agreement by blocking free elections and dividing Vietnam politically between north and south. He followed this up by deploying a small military force to the new “country” of South Vietnam which was a US creation. At the beginning of Kennedy’s presidency there were 600 US military “advisors” in Vietnam and within three years his aggressive military policy had increased this neo-colonial intervention and military force to 17,000 US soldiers with tentative plans to deploy even more forces. Kennedy’s approval to assassinate South Vietnamese President Diem and replace him with a more cooperative puppet leader had the effect of expanding Vietnamese resistance and the war. The eventual toll from Kennedy’s role in expanding this colonial and militaristic war in Vietnam War would be 58,000 US deaths which included 10,000 Latinos and close to a million Vietnamese. Another result of this destructive and costly war was the eventual death of the Great Society and extensive federal programs that attempted to improve the level of education, healthcare and eliminate poverty.

JFK escalated military intervention & Johnson expanded the war

JFK escalated military intervention & Johnson expanded the war

A nuclear treaty with the Soviets, a landing on the moon, efforts to improve healthcare and ironically, his establishment of a national Commission on the Status of Women for discussion of gender issues were political bright spots for Kennedy. While all of these major issues demanded his utmost attention, unfortunately, much of Kennedy’s time was spent at public expense on adulterous womanizing as the White House soon became a true Camelot party center as his staff secretly shuffled numerous females in and out of his quarters on a regular basis. During his first year in office JFK did nothing to advance voter registration rights for minorities. He declared publicly that his Attorney General brother Bobby had advised him that voting rights were not under federal jurisdiction as it was the responsibility of the states to reform and resolve this problem.

Also, his civil rights campaign promise to African-Americans to confront the problem of housing discrimination became a low priority for him and was generally ignored as polls at that time showed that most Americans did not see this issue as important. Impatient with segregation and false promises by Kennedy, leaders and members of the Civil Rights Movement soon became more active and militant as pro-integration sit-ins at restaurants and pickets at businesses accelerated in the Carolinas, Alabama and Georgia where protesters were brutally beaten, gassed and jailed by police and Klan thugs. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had criticized Kennedy for his vacillation and inaction on civil rights and the president responded by verbally attacking this young organization as being the one responsible for the police violence perpetrated upon student protesters!

The increasing violence and the use of police dogs and billy clubs against peaceful civil rights groups was being widely televised to the US public and abroad. Reacting to this pressure Kennedy finally sent federal marshals to Mississippi to defend an African-American named James Meredith who encountered mob violence and rioting as he attempted to enroll at the University of Mississippi. In all of the other southern states the struggles for integration by the freedom riders, protesters at sit-ins and young people on picket lines were left undefended as the violence from racist police, the Klan and other segregationists went unopposed by the so-called US Justice Department. By 1963, the growing scenes of brutality and attacks against protesters particularly in Alabama were being beamed around the world and Kennedy became worried about his credibility. This prompted him to eventually send federal troops to stop the Alabama violence.

Growing domestic and international political pressure and criticism forced Kennedy to make a public statement and finally take a firm position on civil rights which he did in June of 1963. Martin Luther King, Malcom X and other civil rights activists were becoming more impatient and angry with Kennedy over his opportunistic lack of commitment and lack of concrete support for the people who were being beaten and killed for the cause of civil rights. These leaders then organized the huge and successful nationwide 1963 March on Washington which was opposed by Kennedy who felt that it would be critical of his administration’s weak stance on civil rights. After being given some input into the March by black leaders a less than enthusiastic Kennedy grudgingly supported this historic event.

The idealistic Camelot tale where a rich patron helped poor Latinos is a myth

The 1960 campaign promises made by Kennedy to Latinos in exchange for their broad support and hard work in getting out the vote turned out to be hollow, unfulfilled and disrespectful. The poll taxes required by certain states for voting which directly affected Latinos remained intact under Kennedy. Also, the dangling promise of more government positions for Latinos in return for the time consuming campaign work and voter turnout that was mobilized by the Viva Kennedy clubs resulted in nothing but a good political sales pitch by his administration. A couple of token crumbs were tossed out by the Camelot presidency as one Latino was appointed to a low-level judicial position while another was appointed as the ambassador to distant Costa Rica.

Political movements developed in the 1960's for justice & to end the war

Political movements developed in the 1960′s for justice & to end the war

While these two appointments were beneficial for these individuals they had no concrete effect on increasing Mexican-American political power nor improving the daily lives of Latinos throughout the country’s barrios. Before his death Kennedy and his campaign consultants were preparing for the 1964 presidential race and faced a close election in Texas that was up for grabs. After three long years Kennedy was finally persuaded by his campaign handlers to acknowledge and meet with a Latino civil rights organization in order to help get out the vital Mexican vote in Texas. This brief encounter consisted of dropping by a 1963 Texas state LULAC event for 17 minutes and allowing wife Jackie to give a few nice pleasantries in Spanish before quickly leaving. Thus, in return for all of the time, labor and voter turnout efforts that were contributed by Latinos to Kennedy’s candidacy they had been given the new and ongoing political response of being ignored and taken for granted. It was under the presidency of Lyndon Johnson who was pressured by mass political movements from below that real progress was achieved for minorities with the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, aid to education, healthcare, jobs training and the war on poverty. What sabotaged all of these constructive social policies of the Great Society was Johnson’s fatal decision to continue and expand the disastrous Vietnam War that ultimately ended in defeat. This historical debacle was accompanied by a wasteful human and financial cost that undermined the equal restructuring of our society and its future resources for years to come.

John Kennedy may have meant well, but he was in way over his head as President and was beset by many personal contradictions and compulsive obsessions that distracted him from confronting the urgent problems faced by our society. This lack of competency and focus caused him to lose his bearings and credibility by promising everything to everyone in an unprincipled and opportunistic manner. Kennedy once stated, “I had different identities, and this was a useful way of expressing each without compromising the others”. An historical perspective and objective analysis of his political work is not meant to disrespect his family especially the later work of Bobby and Edward whose political consciousness developed further than that of their older brother. Many people’s feelings may be hurt by the truth, but an unbiased and factual assessment of Kennedy’s Latino “connection” and the persistent Camelot myth which was created after his death by wife Jackie is needed.

Many people still naively cling to and promote this illusory tale which is totally devoid of reality. Somehow, this myth depicting the exalted patron prince from Boston who supposedly had a “special connection and affection for Mexicans” verges on a saintly type of romantic hero worship. What Kennedy inadvertently did contribute for civil rights was his verbalizing and dissemination of the principles of equality, progress and the need for change. While his actions on these principles were limited, more importantly they took hold in the young minds of a new generation who decided to organize political movements and struggle to make these principles a reality. The political and historical lessons to be learned in the real world by contrasting factual events with the enduring Kennedy cuentos and myths is that history is not created by a theory of heroes and messianic Camelots, rather it is made by the masses of people who become politically conscious, organize themselves and proceed with clear objectives to improve their lives and those of their families. This is what won the victories of the 1960′s civil rights and anti-war movements which were driven by the broad involvement of African-Americans, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Asians, Native Americans and other progressive sectors. Those who gave their lives for these struggles for equality and rights during this period of history are the real heroes and not the self-promoted savior aristocrats from above whose self-interest is placed ahead of the social interests of the mass of people.

Glutathoine is your body’s “master antiojxidant”.

Every cell of your body contains gluathione.

And glutathione makes any other antioxidant which you ingest more effective.

Numerous studies have shown that glutathione can help protect cells against radiation damage, including studies published in the following journals:

This is not entirely surprising, given that it’s well-documented that all antioxidants help to protect against damage from radiation.   Specifically, one of the main ways in which low-level ionizing radiation damages our bodies is by the creation of free radicals.

Columbia University explains the damaging effects of low-level radiation through free radical creation:

Some radiation experts argue that the creation of a lot of free radical creation is the most dangerousmechanism of low level ionizing radiation:

During exposure to low-level doses (LLD) of ionizing radiation (IR), the most of harmful effects are produced indirectly, through radiolysis of water and formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The antioxidant enzymes – superoxide dismutase (SOD): manganese SOD (MnSOD) and copper-zinc SOD (CuZnSOD), as well as glutathione(GSH), are the most important intracellular antioxidants in the metabolism of ROS. Overproduction of ROS challenges antioxidant enzymes.

We’ve previously told you how to get past the hype to find the foods that are highest in antioxidants.

But glutathione – as the “master antioxidant”, which is in every cell of your body – is probably the most important one to focus on.

Dr. Jimmy Gutman – a practicing physician, former Undergraduate Director and Residency Training Director of Emergency Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, who has served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians – claims:

Raising glutathione levels protects cells from damage from the most dangerous of free radicals, the hydroxyl-radical, is released when ionizing radiation hits us.

Note also that exposure to radiation depletes glutathione in your body.   You basically use up glutathione neutralizing the free radicals created by radiation. So it is important to keep your glutathione levels up when you are exposed to radiation.

How Can We Boost Glutathione Levels?

Despite the hype from the supplement industry, glutathione supplements don’t do anything.  Specifically, our stomach acid destroys glutathione … so you’ll be throwing money away if you buy supplemenets.

But you can eat foods that are high in the precursors to glutathione … and your body will use them to make more glutathione.

Specifically, 3 amino acides – cysteine, glycine and glutamate – are the precursors to glutathione production.

Protein-rich foods tends to be high in all 3. But heating or pasteurizing them destroys many of the glutathione-producing properties.

For example, raw eggs and raw meat are high in cysteine, but cooking destroys the cysteine.   Most industrially-raised meat is of poor quality, and large-scale egg producers have been riddled with salmonella and other problems in recent years.

If you raise your own animals for meat or egg-laying hens, then you’ll know they’re safe.  Otherwise, it may be a little risky eating raw eggs or meat.

Raw milk is apparently very high in glutathione precursors.   But the USDA says that raw milk can be dangerous … and the police may go to some length to shut down raw milk producers.

Raw cruciferous vegetables (brocolli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cress, and bok choy) are also a good source of cysteine.  But you would have to eat a lot of them … which would cause stomach distress in many people.

So what’s the answer?

Exercise boosts glutatione (and see this).  Lack of sleep can deplete glutathione.  So exercise and get enough rest.

Numerous scientific studies show that “undenatured whey protein” raises glutathione levels.  See this,thisthisthisthis, and this.  (Whey protein is derived from milk or cheese, and “undenatured” just means that it is heated enough to kill bacteria … but not high enough to destroy the glutathione precursors.)

If you are a vegan – eating neither meat or dairy products – then you may want to make sure you get enough brown rice protein (because it’s high in the glutathione precursor cysteine).

For more information on glutathione from physicians, see thisthis and this.

Postscript: Read this for more information on how to protect yourself from radiation.

The Rise of Europe’s Far Right

November 25th, 2013 by Chris Marsden

It is widely predicted that Europe’s far-right parties will register significant gains in next May’s European elections.

The rightist parties will campaign primarily on the basis of opposition to the European Union, in most instances posing as opponents of austerity measures imposed by the EU throughout Europe. By shifting somewhat from their usual preoccupation with immigration and Islam, they hope to capitalise on popular hostility to the EU and its austerity agenda.

The “mainstream” political parties—of the official “left” as well as the right—are politically responsible for a situation in which the far right can strike such a pose, since the entire political establishment is implicated in the savage attacks that have been inflicted on Europe’s workers since the financial crash of 2008.

Throughout Europe, social democratic parties—in government and in opposition—have worked to ensure that the working class pay for the crisis of the profit system through mass unemployment, wage cuts and the decimation of social services. As a result, the social democrats have become as unpopular as the EU itself.

The same holds true for the trade unions, which have stifled all opposition to austerity and the EU, despite efforts by workers year after year to fight back, particularly in those countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal hardest hit by austerity.

The pseudo-left groups have acted as a political brake on the working class, insisting on the sanctity of the EU and opposing any break with the social democratic and trade union bureaucracies. This allows the far right to capitalise on the resulting political paralysis of the working class and channel social discontent along reactionary lines.

Two examples suffice as illustrations.

The most spectacular gains for the far right have taken place in France, due to the broad-based hatred for Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) government. The National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen is securing a quarter of the vote in recent polls. It heads a new alliance with Geert Wilders’s Dutch Party for Freedom forged for the purpose of mobilising the anti-EU right on a common platform.

Last month, the FN easily beat the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) in an election for the canton of Brignoles, after the “left” candidate supported by the PS and the Communist Party (PCF) was wiped out in the first round.

The response of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) to growing popular hatred for Hollande has been to cling all the harder to the Left Front, consisting of the PCF and the Left Party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, even as the Left Front clings to the PS.

NPA leader Alain Krivine recently wrote that within the Left Front there is “an essential debate that we must participate in: should we simply oppose austerity policies, or build a real left political opposition to a government whose capitulations feed the far right?” Krivine’s claim that one can build a “left political opposition” to the PS together with the Left Front, whose forces have spent decades either inside the PS or in parliamentary alliances with it, is an absurd lie.

The NPA peddles such illusions because it is an ally of the PS. It seeks to disguise its role by promoting the Left Front so as to better demoralize working-class opposition to the PS’s policies.

In Greece, the far right has taken on overtly fascist forms with the emergence of Golden Dawn, which has the support of some ten percent of the electorate.

Alexis Tsipras is the leader of the main opposition party Syriza and the darling of the pseudo-left. He was selected as the candidate of the Party of the European Left for the position of president of the European Commission in the upcoming EU parliamentary election.

Far from advancing an anti-capitalist alternative to austerity, however, Syriza offers its services as the political linchpin of a new government of national unity, should the present coalition led by conservative New Democracy fall as a result of social opposition.

At its last congress in July, Syriza did away with its previous federal structure, which allowed various pseudo-left tendencies to operate as open factions within Syriza. Tsipras declared it was necessary to form a single party “to make Syriza more sound, more efficient, more ready to govern and lead this country.”

The pseudo-left have naturally acceded to this new set-up.

Tsipras made clear that Syriza was appealing for a political alliance stretching from the Greek Communist Party (KKE), to the right-wing Independent Greeks, to members of the social democratic PASOK party, which is currently part of the right-wing coalition government. He specified as his allies “all the people of the Left, whichever party they belong to,” “all democrats and patriots” and “all those who put freedom and national sovereignty before calculation and self-interest… Even to those conservative citizens who today feel offended by the racist propaganda against Greece, by [German Chancellor] Merkel’s gestures, and by the troika’s humiliating drills against our country.”

Syriza’s nationalist rhetoric constitutes a defence of Greek capitalism and an attempt to tie the working class to the bourgeoisie. By insisting that an alternative to austerity is compatible with membership in the EU, providing only that the terms of Greece’s debt repayments are renegotiated, Syriza upholds the European ruling classes’ conspiracy against the working class and the dictates of the global financial oligarchy.

Speaking at a conference at the University of Texas on November 4, Tsipras made clear that his overriding concern is the stability of Greek and European capitalism. “We have an economic union and a common currency, and other available alternatives are worse,” he declared. “An exit will not benefit anyone.”

Not only combating the growth of the far right, but the very fate of the working class depends on breaking the political stranglehold of the social democrats, the trade unions and their fake-left apologists. The NPA and Syriza are led by an affluent middle-class layer that seeks to carve a political niche for itself in government, in the state apparatus and within the trade union bureaucracy in return for suppressing any independent struggle by the working class. Their greatest service to capital is to besmirch socialism by associating it with a slavish defence of the existing order.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 16,000 for the first time ever Thursday, in the seventh consecutive week of gains. This feat was immediately followed by another milestone: the S&P 500 index closed at 1,804, the first time the index has closed above 1,800 in history.

The Dow is up by 24 percent over the past year, having doubled since 2009. The S&P 500 is likewise up by 28 percent.

Far from expressing a genuine and healthy economic recovery, however, the rise in the stock market has paralleled a vast expansion of social misery and an unprecedented expansion of social inequality.

The number of people receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has climbed from 28.2 million in 2008 to 47.7 million in April 2013, an increase of seventy percent. Far from decreasing, this number continues to swell, with over 1 million new food stamp recipients added between 2012 and 2013.

The reason for this vast increase in destitution is not hard to find: between 2007 and 2012, the median household income in the United States had plummeted by 8.3 percent. The precipitous fall was due to a combination of a sharp fall in the percentage of the population that is employed, and a fall in wages. The percentage of the US working-age population that has a job has fallen by 4.6 percent since 2008, while manufacturing wages have fallen three percent since May 2009.

A report in October by the National Center for Homeless Education, based on figures provided by the US Department of Education, found that over 1.1 million children enrolled in public schools were homeless at some point in 2011-2012, 72 percent higher than before the onset of the economic crisis.

Side by side with the sweeping growth in social misery and destitution has been the vast expansion in wealth of the super-rich. The world’s billionaires have had their combined net worth double since 2009, according to a report published earlier this month by UBS and Wealth-X. Even though the United States has only 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it has a third of the world’s billionaires, according to Forbes.

Since 2009, the richest one percent has captured a staggering 95 percent of all income gains, while the bottom 95 percent have seen their incomes stagnate, According to a report issued by University of California Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez earlier this year.

US income inequality grew four times faster in the first three years of the Obama administration than under Bush, according to figures published Saturday in the New York Times. As the newspaper reports, “From 2001 through 2008, during the George W. Bush administration,” the ratio of mean (average) to median income “grew at 0.28 percentage points per year. From 2009 through 2011, the latest year for which the data is available, the ratio increased 1.14 percentage points annually, or roughly four times faster.”

The vast growth in stock prices is not the result of impersonal and impartial economic laws, but rather definite policies pursued by the Obama Administration. This administration has, during its entire existence, done everything in its power to prop up the financial system asset values of the super-rich. This has taken the form of a vast transfer of wealth from the population to the financial oligarchy.

The present rally began in March 2009, following a key set of decisions made by the Obama Administration to make it unmistakably clear that it would abide no impingement on the wealth of the financial oligarchy, and offload the burden of the financial crisis onto the working class.

On March 23, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the details of a plan to extend virtually unlimited funds to purchase the toxic assets of the banks at inflated prices, using taxpayer money. Since that time, the Federal Reserve’s holding of mortgage-backed securities shot up from $68 billion to $1.4 trillion, and is growing by $40 billion every month. That day, the Dow rallied by a staggering 7 percent, and closed up by 497 points.

Just days before, Obama had made clear that he would oppose any serious attempt to limit the compensation of executives at the bailed-out insurance giant AIG, and the administration moved to block a proposal by congress to block a $165 million bonus payout to AIG executives, to be paid with bailout funds.

Then, on March 30, Obama outlined his proposal for the restructuring of the auto industry, in which the White House made the imposition of sweeping wage and benefit cuts the precondition for the provision of federal funds to bail out the auto industry.

Those three events combined to create the biggest four-week rise in the Dow since 1933.

At the end of 2010, the Administration agreed to extend for two years the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, while implementing a cut in payroll taxes for both employers and employees that drained funds from the Social Security system.

The crisis over the federal debt ceiling in the summer of 2011 ended with a deal to impose over $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, along with an agreement that another $1.2 trillion in across-the-board “sequester” cuts would be triggered at the beginning of 2013 if no deficit-cutting deal had been reached between the White House and Congress by then.

In the course of those crisis negotiations, Obama offered unprecedented cuts in Medicare and Social Security as part of a “grand bargain” with the Republicans.

Later in 2012, the so-called “fiscal cliff” crisis resulted in the triggering of the sequester cuts, beginning last March. The current budget and debt limit impasse will likely be used to extend the sequester cuts, compounding the already severe impact of cuts in programs ranging from Head Start to housing subsidies to legal aid for the poor.

Earlier this month, the White House and Congress implemented a 5 percent reduction in food stamp benefits, the first nationwide reduction in benefit payments in the history of the program. By all indications, the political establishment will do nothing to prevent the expiration of federal extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs. The extended unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire in December.

Throughout this entire period, the attack on workers at the federal level has corresponded with a relentless attack on the wages and benefits of state and local workers, coupled with a relentless assault on social programs at state and local levels, including the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters and social service workers. This process has found its latest expression in the bankruptcy of the city of Detroit, which is being coordinated with the White House to set a precedent for using bankruptcy to slash the pensions and benefits of city workers.

The ability of the government to impose these draconian attacks was entirely dependent on the suppression of the class struggle by the trade unions and the pseudo-left allies of the Democratic Party. Throughout this period, the working class has sought to resist the sweeping attacks on its living standards, but in every struggle has been betrayed and undermined by the trade unions.

These included the 2011 protests against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining rights, and a whole series of strikes, including the 2012 teachers’ strike in Chicago, the 2013 New York and Boston school bus drivers’ strike. In each of these cases, the struggles were shut down by the trade unions and channeled back into the Democratic Party.

What are the central lessons to be drawn from this? First, that the Obama Administration is an instrument of Wall Street, in alliance with the military-intelligence complex, and has focused all of its efforts on transferring social wealth from the majority of the population to the super-rich.

The stock market boom is not an indicator that the crisis has been resolved: far from it. It is an expression of the fact that the government and Federal Reserve have no solutions to the crisis confronting the capitalist system.

The fundamental problem is the capitalist system itself. The working class must end its political subordination to the Democratic Party, and fight to build a new mass political movement, based on a socialist program. Such a movement must demand that the Wall Street casino be shut down, and that the trillions of dollars stolen from the population must be returned, the banks and corporations nationalized, and society reorganized on the basis of meeting social needs, not private profit.

Coming this fall, “9/11 in the Academic Community,” a Winner of the University of Toronto Film Festival, is a unique film that documents academia’s treatment of critical perspectives on 9/11 by exploring the taboo that shields the American government’s narrative from scholarly examination.

Through a powerful reflection on intellectual courage and the purpose of academia, the film aims at changing intellectual discourse on 9/11 and the War on Terror.

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As well as probing the repercussions several scholars have endured due to their investigation of 9/11, this documentary provides an analysis of impairments in professional inquiry, ranging from the failure to critically reflect on terms functioning as thought-stoppers (such as “conspiracy theory”) to the structural approach that restricts inquiry to the broad implications of 9/11 while shutting out inquiry into the events of the day itself.

Morton Brussel, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has stated:

“The main thesis of the film concerns the silence of the academic community on this vital issue. I think it is extremely important and very well produced.”

As 9/11 served as the rationale for the Global War on Terror, the expansion of the military and intelligence complex, the invasion of other countries in violation of international law, and the curtailing of civil liberties, the film provides an inspiring demonstration of intellectual courage that will cause many scholars to reflect on the academy’s role and strength to dismantle the war system.

As Alvin A. Lee, President Emeritus of McMaster University, has stated in his endorsement of the film: academics should “stand sufficiently outside society intellectually to see, understand, and interpret what is going on.”

The documentary, 9/11 in the Academic Community, has been earning the praise of several top academics. Its unique approach documents academia’s treatment of critical perspectives on 9/11, exploring the taboo that shields the American government’s narrative from scholarly examination.

The following endorsements the film recently received from notable professors furthers the documentary’s aims to change intellectual discourse on 9/11 and the War on Terror.

Academic freedom protects scholars who report inconvenient truths from the uninformed, but, as Adnan Zuberi reminds us, academic freedom is also the responsibility of scholars to pursue the truth. Roger W. Bowen, Professor of Political Science and President of the State University of New York at New Paltz:

I hope that this material will be made available to the wider international academic community in order to foster a wider, fact-based discussion among researchers and students alike.  Friedrich Steinhäusler, Professor of Physics at Salzburg University

Now Available for Purchase – “9/11 in the Academic Community” (Documentary)

9/11 in the Academic Community, awarded for “Documentary Achievement” at the University of Toronto Film Festival, is now available for purchase through its website:
http://911inacademia.com/support-the-film/

It is a unique film that documents academia’s treatment of critical perspectives on 9/11 by exploring the taboo that shields the American government’s narrative from scholarly examination. Through a powerful reflection on intellectual courage and the purpose of academia, the film aims at changing intellectual discourse on 9/11 and the War on Terror.

Please inform your friends about this documentary’s release.

Adnan Zuberi
Director & Producer

http://www.911inAcademia.com

This documentary confronts the academy’s uncritical response to the
defining event of our times. It is an essential viewing for everyone in academe.

Lance deHaven-Smith
Professor of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University
Former President of the Florida Political Science Association

As an academic, I found the film to accurately describe how
academics tend to deal with controversial issues.

Hendrik Van den Berg
Professor of Economics at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Former Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State

See the Endorsements Section for more Statements of Support for “9/11 in the Academic Community”

Canada Spies on Its Own Citizens

November 24th, 2013 by Asad Ismi

Canadian government spies on Brazil — and its own citizens,  Our spies work closely with U.S. National Security Agency, Canada’s spy agency espionage arm of Canadian corporations 

  In the September issue of the CCPA Monitor, I reported on the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying on hundreds of millions of its citizens, as revealed by whistle-blower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Now it appears that the Canadian government, too, is engaged in surreptitiously spying on its citizens, in collaboration with the NSA. 

Canada has also been caught spying on Brazil. The United States and Canada are clearly close partners in the creation of an insidious global surveillance system that blatantly violates domestic and international human rights with impunity.

In October, Snowden exposed the extent of the Canadian government’s spying activities. The Canadian counterpart to the NSA is the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).  The two agencies have had close relations for more than six decades and share intelligence on each other’s citizens. Both spy on their own citizens as well as on each others’ nationals, and pass this information on to each other, thereby circumventing any legal restrictions on domestic surveillance. 

Such close co-operation is part of the “Five Eyes” program of the U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand, which have shared responsibilities for a massive global surveillance system that includes commercial espionage.

CSEC has a staff of more than 2,000, with another 1,000 military personnel assisting it, a yearly budget worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and a new headquarters that cost $1 billion to build. As one observer put it, “CSEC operations are shrouded in almost total secrecy, authorized under ministerial directives that are themselves so secret that their subject matter, let alone their contents, is secret.”

Economic spying appears to be the reason for CSEC’s surveillance of Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.  According to documents leaked by Snowden, in 2012 CSEC used a spying program code-named Olympia “to map the phone calls, e-mails, and video conferences made within the mines and energy ministry.”

More than 40 Canadian companies are active in Brazil’s mining sector, including Kinross Gold, Teck, Yamana Gold, Aura Minerals, Luna Gold, and El Dorado Gold. Canadian investment in Brazil is worth $9.8 billion, while Brazil’s investment in Canada amounts to $15.8 billion. With a population of 200 million, Brazil has one of the world’s largest economies boasting a major industrial sector and enormous oil deposits. 

Brazil’s Embraer corporation is one the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, while the state-owned Petrobras has the second biggest oil reserves in South America. Canada and Brazil are rivals in the economic sectors of aircraft exports, oil exploitation, mining, and agriculture.

Canadian spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy appears to be aimed at giving Canadian companies an advantage over competitors in the bidding for drilling rights on auctioned oil blocks in Brazil, and getting information related to the perceived competitive threat posed by Brazil’s oil sector to Canada’s tar sands as a destination for foreign investment.  Four Canadian companies recently secured 10 Brazilian oil blocks in an auction of 200 blocks.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Machado expressed outrage at the revelations of Canadian spying and demanded an explanation, as did Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who accused Canada of violating her country’s sovereignty. She called the spying “unacceptable” and an act of industrial espionage.

“The fact that our Ministry of Mines and Energy was the target of espionage confirms the strategic and economic reasons behind such acts,” the President stated. Rousseff had already frozen all major relations with the United States and cancelled her planned visit to Washington after that country’s spying on Brazil was also revealed by Snowden in September.

According to The Globe and Mail, Canada-Brazil economic relations are at a “standstill” due to the spying revelations, and Brazilian officials have pledged “to closely scrutinize the activities of Canadian mining companies and other investors in Brazil.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has responded to the major spying scandal disingenuously by saying that he is “very concerned” about reports that CSEC is involved in industrial espionage in Brazil (as if he hadn’t known about it). Harper vaguely promised “appropriate follow-up” on the charges, indicating further disdain for Brazil’s sovereignty.

 An October 9 article in The [UK] Guardian makes clear that CSEC is the espionage arm of corporate Canada. The newspaper explains that “[CSEC] has participated in secret meetings in Ottawa where Canadian security agencies briefed energy corporations. Claims of spying on the [Brazilian] ministry by CSEC come amid the Canadian government’s increasingly aggressive promotion of resource corporations at home and abroad, including unprecedented surveillance and intelligence sharing with companies. According to freedom of information documents obtained by the Guardian, the meetings – conducted twice a year since 2005 – involved federal ministries, spy and police agencies, and representatives from scores of companies who obtained high-level security clearance.

Meetings were officially billed to discuss ‘threats’ to energy infrastructure, but also covered ‘challenges to energy projects from environmental groups,’ ‘cyber security initiatives,’ and ‘economic and corporate espionage.’ The documents – heavily redacted agendas – do not indicate that any international espionage was shared by CSEC officials, but the meetings were an opportunity for government agencies and companies to develop ‘ongoing trusting relations’ that would help them exchange information ‘off the record,’ wrote an official from the Natural Resources ministry in 2010.

“At the most recent meeting in May 2013, which focused on ‘security of energy resources development.’ meals were sponsored by Enbridge, a Canadian oil company trying to win approval for controversial tar sands pipelines. Since coming to power, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used his government apparatus to serve a natural resources development agenda, while creating sweeping domestic surveillance programs that have kept close tabs on indigenous and environmental opposition and shared intelligence with companies. Harper has transformed Canada’s foreign policy to offer full diplomatic backing to foreign mining and oil projects, tying aid pledges to their advancement and jointly funding ventures with companies throughout Africa, South America and Asia. 

“Keith Stewart, an energy policy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said: ‘There seems to be no limit to what the Harper government will do to help their friends in the oil and mining industries. They’ve muzzled scientists, gutted environmental laws, reneged on our international climate commitments, labelled environmental critics as criminals and traitors, and have now been caught engaging in economic espionage in a friendly country. Canadians, and our allies, have a right to ask who exactly is receiving the gathered intelligence and whose interests are being served’.”

Snowden leaked the CSEC spying documents to Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald, who lives in Brazil. Greenwald then gave the information to the Brazilian OGlobo channel television investigative journalism program Fantastico. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Greenwald explained that “Brazil is the tip of the iceberg on Canadian spying” and that “more disclosures about Canada’s aggressive foreign spying activities are coming.” 

According to Greenwald, “There is a huge amount of stuff about Canada in these archives [held by Snowden] because Canada works so closely with the NSA… Canadians should know that there is nothing really unique about what Canada is doing to Brazil – it’s not like Brazil is the only target for Canada. The reason this is so newsworthy is that the U.S. and its allies love to say the only reason they are doing this kind of mass surveillance is they want to stop terrorism and protect national security – but these documents make clear that it is industrial and economic competition, it’s about mining resources and minerals.”

Canada works so closely with the NSA that both collaborated with GCHQ, which is Britain’s NSA equivalent, in spying on the closest allies of all three countries — France and Germany.  According to Guardian reports based on Snowden’s documents, CSEC, NSA and GCHQ together spied on diplomats participating in the G-20 meeting in London in 2009. This very “sensitive” operation included breaking into the delegates’ smart-phones to gather their e-mail messages and calls. CSEC has also spied on Japan, South Korea, and Mexico for commercial purposes.

Greenwald was struck by how avidly Canada participated in the NSA’s most damaging activities. These include the NSA’s “highly aggressive” Tailored Access Operations” (TAO) unit.  “TAO is one of the most aggressive and insidious parts of the NSA – they’re hackers – they hack other people’s computers exactly the way hackers that the U.S. puts in prison do,” Greenwald said. “Canada is working with the NSA on some of the most aggressive techniques that the NSA did.”

Such aggressive techniques include the important part CSEC has played in the NSA’s attempts to break encrypted information on the Internet. CSEC’s help has allowed the NSA to create a “backdoor to secretly decrypt data that millions regarded as safe.”

Significantly, Greenwald added in an interview with the CBC that there would be further revelations also about CSEC spying on “ordinary [Canadian] citizens”: “There’s a lot of other documents, about [CSEC] spying on ordinary citizens, on allied governments, on the world, and their co-operation with the U.S. government, and the nature of that co-operation… I think most Canadian citizens will find [this] quite surprising, if not shocking, because it’s all done in secret and Canadians are not aware of it.”

In June, a Globe and Mail article made clear that CSEC is conducting a vast program of domestic surveillance in Canada that blatantly violates Canadians’ civil liberties. Since 2005, “CSEC has been systematically mining the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications — phone calls, e-mails, text messages, Internet visits, and collecting, thereby, information that can be used to develop comprehensive profiles of the habits and social networks of targeted individuals and groups.” 

Peter Mackay, Canada’s Defence Minister, told Parliament in response to a question about the mass surveillance of Canadians’ communications: “I have a heads-up for the member… This is something that has been happening for years.”

According to Keith Jones writing on the World Socialist Website: “As Canada’s government from 1994 and 2006, the Liberals oversaw a vast expansion of the repressive powers of the state, including the issuing by Defence Minister Bill Graham of a ministerial directive in 2005 authorizing the metadata mining of Canadians’ electronic communications.”

Canadian officials maintain that the country’s laws prevent CSEC from spying on Canadians, but, as Jones puts it: “This is a patent lie, and the fact that the government and CSEC invoke it so readily is itself in an indication that there is much they want to hide.”

CSEC is actually required to spy on Canadians as part of its official mandate because one of its main tasks is to help the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS — Canada’s CIA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services, and other police forces carry out “national security” investigations. Also, the NSA gives CSEC information on Canadians regularly and in exchange receives the same kind of information on Americans. Both agencies claim that they do not spy on their citizens, which is questionable; but even if this were true, the claim is deceptive because they can get the information they seek on their citizens from any of the other “Five Eyes” agencies.

Ed Patrick points out on the World Socialist Website that, “Since almost all Canadian Internet traffic passes through the United States – an e-mail from Montreal or Toronto could pass through several American locations before being returned to Canada – Canadian communications are inevitably intercepted en masse by the NSA, which has no legal or constitutional restrictions on eavesdropping on Canadians. In response to direct questions on the subject, the Canadian government has systemically refused to deny that the NSA passes on information to Canada’s national-security apparatus.”

As Canada’s Solicitor-General during 2002-03, former Liberal MP Wayne Easter was the cabinet minister in charge of CSIS and the RCMP. Easter says that it was “common” for the NSA “to pass on information about Canadians.” At that time, “the Five Eyes” partners of Canada would scan global intelligence signals and would be “looking for key words on Canadians… and they’d give it to the Canadian agencies,” Easter explained.  William Binney, former NSA technical director, adds that NSA and CSEC “have integrated personnel,” which means they exchange employees to “improve seamless collaboration.”

 In order to provide legal justification for spying on its citizens, the Canadian government conveniently considers metadata the container in which a communication occurs, and so not constitutionally exempt from surveillance. The government’s position is that it has the right to spy on who you send e-mails to and receive them from, with the same being the case for phone calls and text messages, as long as CSEC does not look at the content of all these messages. But, with such detailed information, a lot can be discovered about any person. and this obviously constitutes massive spying. Also, once CSEC has all this information, how do we know it is not examining the contents of the communications as well? Are we to trust the word of a government that is already spying on us without our permission?

As Keith Jones explains: “Through such metadata mining it is possible for the state to rapidly develop a detailed portrait of an individual — including his place of work, political views, associates, and whereabouts — and of the members and supporters of any group deemed by the state to be a potential threat to national security.”

While justifying its metadata spying, the Canadian government denies that CSEC has access to the NSA’s PRISM Program and has been using it as a means of looking at Canadians’ communications. PRISM, as I reported in September, allows the NSA to gain access to the servers of Microsoft, Apple, Google, AOL, YouTube, Skype, Yahoo, PalTalk, and Facebook, thereby turning the Internet into a colossal spying system. This official Canadian denial cannot be taken seriously, given that the NSA and CSEC are very close partners and have been sharing intelligence for more than six decades.

Following the Obama administration in the U.S., the Harper government is well on its way to turning Canada into a police state in which civil liberties are openly violated. In Canada’s case, this would be a petro-police state since both the Harper government’s spying on Brazil and its ominous domestic surveillance appear tied to its economic strategy based on expanding the profits of Canada’s oil and mining companies.  This obsessive focus on resource extraction has already made Canada an international disgrace by turning it into a leading destroyer of the global environment.  The spying scandal further shames Canada worldwide and damages its relations with an important country.  The resource obsession has also deindustrialized Canada, made it increasingly a puppet of Washington and violated its people’s basic freedoms.

As a February Guardian article by Stephen Leahy titled “Canada’s Environmental Activists Seen as Threat to National Security” puts it: “Monitoring of environmental activists in Canada by the country’s police and security agencies has become the ‘new normal,’ according to a researcher who has analyzed security documents released under freedom of information laws.  Security and police agencies have been increasingly conflating terrorism and extremism with peaceful citizens exercising their democratic rights to organize petitions, protest and question government policies, said Jeffrey Monaghan of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

“The RCMP and CSIS view activist activities such as blocking access to roads or buildings as ‘forms of attack’ and depict those involved as national security threats, according to the documents. Protests and opposition to Canada’s resource-based economy, especially oil and gas production, are now viewed as threats to national security, Monaghan said.”

“In 2011, a Montreal man who wrote letters opposing shale gas fracking was charged under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act.  Documents released in January show the RCMP has been monitoring Quebec residents who oppose fracking.  ‘Any Canadians going to protest the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington DC had better take precautions,’ Monaghan said.  In a Canadian Senate committee on national security and defence meeting on Feb. 11, Richard Fadden, the director of CSIS, said they are more worried about domestic terrorism, acknowledging that the vast majority of its spying is done within Canada. Fadden said they are ‘following a number of cases where we think people might be inclined to acts of terrorism’.”

Such purported inclinations to “terrorism” resulted in many activists being jailed by the police in Toronto in 2010, a week before the G-20 Summit began there. The activists had done absolutely nothing wrong. Their only “offence” was that they might do something the government would not like after the G-20 leaders arrived, making it clear that Canadians have no right to demonstrate or even plan to do so.

Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent. He is author of the anthology “The Latin American Revolution” [now available from the CCPA] and the radio documentary “Capitalism is the Crisis” which has been aired on 41 radio stations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe reaching an audience of about 33 million people. For his publications, visit www.asadismi.ws.

Kuala Lumpur Tribunal to Deliver Judgment on Charges of Genocide against the State of Israel

November 24th, 2013 by Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC)

KUALA LUMPUR, 24 November 2013The fifth day of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) hearing on genocide and war crimes charges against the State of Israel and Amos Yaron,

The Amicus Curiae’s submission.

Amicus Curiae Jason Kay submitted that genocide requires a decrease in population of the victim/group. He quoted Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948 pointing out that the acts that constitute genocide includes acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group.  This includes killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

He stressed that when one talks about ‘massive killing’ it should mean many hundreds of thousand to millions. He submitted that the murder of 3,000 people in the Sabra and Shatilla massacre could not be considered massive killing unlike i.e. the killing of 800,000 people in Rwanda in 100 days and the systematic killing of the Jews by Nazi Germany.

On the charge against Amos Yaron, the Amicus Curiae submitted that none of the witnesses identified Yaron in any way as directly responsible for the deaths that took place in Sabra and Shatilla in September 1982. He argued that the Kahan Commission had cited that Yaron had told the Phalangists of the location of the terrorists in the camps and not to harm the civilian population.

With regard to Cast Lead Operation, the Amicus referred to the Israeli reports that did not find any wrong doing on the part of IDF. Also reference was made to Goldstone’s article that said that if he had access to further evidence he would have had a different conclusion for the UN report prepared by him (Goldstone). On the subject of the Wall, the amicus submitted that the wall/fence was primarily motivated by security considerations to protect the lives of the Israelis in the area. The decision to erect the fence was made to new rise in Palestinian terrorism in 2002.

In reference to Plan Dalet, the amicus submitted that the plan was not aimed at ethnic cleansing and that it was entirely defensive. Amicus proceeded to submit that the Palestinians are supporters of Hamas, whose numerous acts could be considered crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Prosecution submitted that they would adopt their earlier submission and responded to the Amicus Curiae submission. According to the prosecution, the law has been clearly addressed on state liability and the specific intent. On the Palestinian population, the prosecution submitted that population is not a numbers game. On ethnic cleansing, the Prosecution submitted that while ethnic cleansing does not necessarily equate to genocide but it can amount to genocide.

He further added that the Operation Cast Lead investigation by the Israeli military had been criticised and that the Goldstone article was an after thought for which there is no evidence why it occurred.

On the issue of the Wall, the prosecution submitted that it was evident that the 190 km long Wall is clearly in the Occupied Territories and that the ICJ had rejected the security and necessity argument.

On the subject of water as submitted by Amicus that there was a Olympic-sized swimming pool in Gaza indicating that the water issue was exaggerated, the prosecution stressed that the tribunal should adhere to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations reports on the dire water issues faced by the Palestinians.

On the issue of attacks and suicide bombing by Palestinians against Israelis as presented by the Amicus, the prosecution submitted that it does not take away the fact that genocide has happened. In addition, the prosecution submitted that the 730 checkpoints hindered movement and affected the everyday lives of the Palestinians. And to response to the Amicus that the day-to-day life in Gaza was not as difficult as portrayed, the prosecution replied that whilst life had not come to a standstill in Gaza, in the long run it is not going to be habitable if the current Israeli blockade and attacks continued.

After the submission from the Prosecution and Amicus Curiae, the Tribunal adjourned to deliberate on the evidence and submissions that were presented during the five days and will deliver its judgement on Monday afternoon.

The judges of the Tribunal are headed by retired Malaysian Federal Court judge Tan Sri Dato Lamin bin Haji Mohd Yunus Lamin, who also served as an ad litem judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The other judges in the Tribunal include notable names such as Tunku Sofiah Jewa, practising lawyer and author of numerous publications on International Law, Prof Salleh Buang, former Federal Counsel in the Attorney-General Chambers and prominent author, and Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, prominent academic and professor of law, Dato’ Saari Yusof, former Appeal Court judge, Mr John Philpot, a senior litigation lawyer from Canada and Tunku Intan Mainura from the Faculty of Law, UiTM and a specialist in international law.

The Tribunal will adjudicate and evaluate the evidence presented as in any court of law. The judges of the Tribunal must be satisfied that the charges are proven beyond reasonable doubt and deliver a reasoned judgement.

In the event the tribunal convicts any of the accused, the only sanction is that the name of the guilty will be entered in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals and publicised worldwide. The tribunal is a tribunal of conscience and a peoples’ initiative.

The prosecution for the trial is led by Prof Gurdial S Nijar, prominent law professor and author of several law publications and Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman, senior barrister, and assisted by a team of lawyers.

The trial, which is open to the public, is being held from November 20 to 25, 2013 at the premises of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW) at 88, Jalan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur.

Live feed of the tribunal hearing is also available on www.criminalisewar.org

http://www.criminalisewar.org

at Malaysian time GMT +8.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) versus the State of Israel

Members of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) are: Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Dr. Denis Halliday, Mr. Musa Ismail, Dr. Zulaiha Ismail, Dr. Yaacob Merican, Dr.  Hans von Sponeck.

Dr. Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Editor of Globalresearch.ca and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization were present in Kuala Lumpur throughout the proceedings. 

This important judicial process has received very little coverage in the Western media.  Global Research will be publishing several reports following the judgment on November 25, 2013.

The world political economy is a mosaic of cross currents:  Domestic decay and elite enrichment, new sources for greater profits and deepening political disenchantment, declining living standards for many and extravagant luxury for a few, military losses in some regions with imperial recovery in others. There are claims of a unipolar, a multi-polar and even a non-polar configuration of world power.  Where, when, to what extent and under what contingencies do these claims have validity?

Bubbles and busts come and go – but let us talk of ‘beneficiaries’:  Those who cause crashes, reap the greatest rewards while their victims have no say.  The swindle economy and the criminal state prosper by promoting the perversion of culture and literacy.  ‘Investigatory journalism’, or peephole reportage, is all the rage.  The world of power spins out of control:  As they decline, the leading powers declare “it’s our rule or everyone’s ruin!”

Global Configurations of Power

Power is a relationship between classes, states and military and ideological institutions.  Any configuration of power is contingent on past and present struggles reflecting shifting correlations of forces.  Structures and physical resources, concentrations of wealth, arms and the media matter greatly; they set the framework in which the principle power wielders are embedded.  But strategies for retaining or gaining power depend on securing alliances, engaging in wars and negotiating peace.  Above all, world power depends on the strength of domestic foundations.  This requires a dynamic productive economy, an independent state free from prejudicial foreign entanglements and a leading class capable of harnessing global resources to ‘buy off’ domestic consent of the majority.

 To examine the position of the United States in the global configuration of power it is necessary to analyze its changing economic and political relations on two levels:  by region and by sphere of power.  History does not move in a linear pattern or according to recurring cycles: military and political defeats in some regions may be accompanied by significant victories in others.  Economic decline in some spheres and regions may be compensated by sharp advances in other economic sectors and regions.

In the final analysis, the question is not ‘keeping a scorecard’ or adding wins and subtracting losses, but translating regional and sectorial outcomes into an understanding of the direction and emerging structures of the global power configuration.  We start by examining the legacy of recent wars on the global economic, military and political power of the United States .

Sustaining the US Empire:  Defeats, Retreat, Advances and Victories

The dominant view of most critical analysts is that over the past decade US empire-building has suffered a series of military defeats, experienced economic decline, and now faces severe competition and the prospect of further military losses. The evidence cited is impressive:  The US was forced to withdraw troops from Iraq , after an extremely costly decade-long military occupation, leaving in place a regime more closely allied to Iran , the US ’ regional adversary. The Iraq war depleted the economy, deprived American corporations of oil wealth, greatly enlarged Washington ’s budget and trade deficits and reduced the living standards of US citizens.  The Afghanistan war had a similar outcome, with high external costs, military retreat, fragile clients, domestic disaffection and no short or medium term transfers of wealth (imperial pillage) to the US Treasury or private corporations.  The Libyan war led to the total destruction of a modern, oil-rich economy in North Africa, the total dissolution of state and civil society and the emergence of armed tribal, fundamentalist militias opposed to US and EU client regimes in North and sub-Sahara Africa and beyond.  Instead of continuing to profit from lucrative oil and gas agreements with the conciliatory Gadhafi regime, Washington decided on ‘regime change’, engaging in a war which ruined Libya and destroyed any viable central state. The current Syrian “proxy war” has strengthened radical Islamist warlords, destroyed Damascus ’ economy and added massive refugee pressure to the already uprooted millions from wars in Iraq and Libya . US imperial wars have resulted in economic losses, regional political instability and military gains for Islamist adversaries.

Latin America has overwhelmingly rejected US efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government.  The entire world– minus Israel and Washington- – rejects the blockade of Cuba .  Regional integration organizations, which exclude the US , have proliferated.  US trade shares have declined, as Asia is replacing the US in the Latin American market.

In Asia, China deepens and extends its economic links with all the key countries, while the US ‘pivot’ is mostly an effort at military base encirclement involving Japan , Australia and the Philippines .  In other words, China is more important than the US for Asian economic expansion, while Chinese financing of US trade imbalances props up the US economy.

In Africa , US military command operations mainly promote armed conflicts and lead to greater instability.  Meanwhile Asian capitalists, deeply invested in strategic African countries, are reaping the benefits of its commodity boom, expanding markets and the outflow of profits.

The exposure of the US National Security Agency’s global spy network has seriously undermined global intelligence and clandestine operations.  While it may have helped privileged private corporations, the massive US investment in cyber-imperialism appears to have generated negative diplomatic and operational returns for the imperial state.

In sum, the current global overview paints a picture of severe military and diplomatic setbacks in imperial policies, substantial losses to the US Treasury and the erosion of public support.  Nevertheless this perspective has serious flaws, especially with regard to other regions, relations and spheres of economic activity.  The fundamental structures of empire remain intact.

NATO, the major military alliance headed by the US Pentagon, is expanding its membership and escalating its field of operations.  The Baltic States, especially Estonia , are the site of huge military exercises held just minutes from the principle Russian cities.  Central and Eastern Europe provide missile sites all aimed at Russia . Until very recently, the Ukraine had been moving toward membership in the European Union and a step toward NATO membership.

The US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership has expanded membership among the Andean countries, Chile , Peru and Colombia .  It serves as a springboard to weaken regional trading blocs like MERCOSUR and ALBA, which exclude Washington . Meanwhile, the CIA, the State Department and their NGO conduits are engaged in an all-out economic sabotage and political destabilization campaign to weaken Venezuela ’s nationalist government.  US-backed bankers and capitalists have worked to sabotage the economy, provoking inflation (50%), shortages of essential items of consumption and rolling power blackouts. Their control over most of Venezuela ’s mass media has allowed them to exploit popular discontent by blaming the economic dislocation on ‘government inefficiency’.

Overall, the US offensive in Latin America has focused on a military coup in Honduras , ongoing economic sabotage in Venezuela , electoral and media campaigns in Argentina , and cyber warfare in Brazil , while developing closer ties with recently elected compliant neo-liberal  regimes in Mexico , Colombia , Chile , Panama , Guatemala and the Dominican Republic .  While Washington lost influence in Latin America during the first decade of the 21st century, it has since partially recovered its clients and partners.  The relative recovery of US influence illustrates the fact that ‘regime changes’ and a decline in market shares, have not lessened the financial and corporate ties linking even the progressive countries to powerful US interests.  The continued presence of powerful political allies –even those ‘out of government’ – provides a trampoline for regaining US influence.  Nationalist policies and emerging regional integration projects remain vulnerable to US counter-attacks.

While the US has lost influence among some oil producing countries, it lessened its dependence on oil and gas imports as a result of a vast increase in domestic energy production via ‘fracking’ and other intense extractive technologies.  Greater local self-sufficiency means lower energy costs for domestic producers and increases their competitiveness in world markets, raising the possibility that the US could regain market shares for its exports.

The seeming decline of US imperial influence in the Arab world following the popular ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings has halted and even been reversed. The military coup in Egypt and the installation and consolidation of the military dictatorship in Cairo suppressed the mass national-popular mobilizations.  Egypt is back in the US-Israel orbit.  In Algeria , Morocco and Tunisia the old and new rulers are clamping down on any anti-imperial protests.   In Libya , the US-NATO air force destroyed the nationalist-populist Gadhafi regime, eliminating an alternative welfare model to neo-colonial pillage – but has so far failed to consolidate a neo-liberal client regime in Tripoli .  Instead rival armed Islamist gangs, monarchists and ethnic thugs pillage and ravage the country.  Destroying an anti-imperialist regime has not produced a pro-imperialist client.

In the Middle East, Israel continues to dispossess the Palestinians of their land and water.  The US continues to escalate military maneuvers and impose more economic sanctions against Iran – weakening Teheran but also decreasing US wealth and influence due to the loss of the lucrative Iranian market.  Likewise in Syria , the US and its NATO allies have destroyed Syria ’s economy and shredded its complex society, but they will not be the main beneficiaries.  Islamist mercenaries have gained bases of operations while Hezbollah has consolidated its position as a significant regional actor.  Current negotiations with Iran open possibilities for the US to cut its losses and reduce the regional threat of a costly new war but these talks are being blocked by an ‘alliance’ of Zionist-militarist Israel, monarchist Saudi Arabia and ‘Socialist’ France.

Washington has lost economic influence in Asia to China but it is mounting a regional counter-offensive, based on its network of military bases in Japan , the Philippines and Australia .  It is promoting a new Pan Pacific economic agreement that excludes China .  This demonstrates the US capacity to intervene and project imperial interests.  However announcing new policies and organizations is not the same as implementing and providing them with dynamic content.  Washington ’s military encirclement of China is off-set by the US Treasury’s multi-trillion dollar debt to Beijing .  An aggressive US military encirclement of China could result in a massive Chinese sell-off of US Treasury notes and five hundred leading US multi-nationals finding their investments in jeopardy!

Power-sharing between an emerging and established global power, such as China and the US , cannot be ‘negotiated’ via US military superiority.  Threats, bluster and diplomatic chicanery score mere propaganda victories but only long-term economic advances can create the domestic Trojan Horses need to erode China ’s dynamic growth.  Even today, the Chinese elite spend hefty sums to educate their children in “prestigious” US and British universities where free market economic doctrines and imperial-centered narratives are taught.  For the past decade, leading Chinese politicians and the corporate rich have sent tens of billions of dollars in licit and illicit funds to overseas bank accounts, investing in high end real estate in North America and Europe and dispatching billions to money laundering havens.  Today, there is a powerful faction of economists and elite financial advisers in China pushing for greater ‘financial liberalization’, i.e. penetration by the leading Wall Street and City of London speculative houses.  While Chinese industries may be winning the competition for overseas markets, the US has gained and is gaining powerful levers over China ’s financial structure.

The US share of Latin American trade may be declining, but the absolute dollar worth of trade has increased several-fold over the past decade.

The US may have lost right-wing regime clients in Latin America, but the new center-left regimes are actively collaborating with most of the major US and Canadian mining and agro-business corporations and commodity trading houses.  The Pentagon has not been able to engineer military coups, with the pathetic exception of Honduras, but it still retains its close working relations with the Latin American military in the form of (1) its regional policing of ‘terrorism’, ‘narcotics’ and ‘migration’, (2) providing technical training and political indoctrination via overseas military ‘educational’ programs and (3) engaging in joint military exercises.

In sum, the structures of the US empire, corporate, financial, military and political-cultural, all remain in place and ready to regain dominance if and when political opportunities arise.  For example, a sharp decline in commodity prices would likely provoke a deep crisis and intensify class conflicts among center-left regimes, which are dependent on agro-mining exports to fund their social programs.  In any ensuing confrontation, the US would work with and through its agents among the economic and military elite to oust the incumbent regime and re-impose pliant neo-liberal clients.    The current phase of post-neo-liberal policies and power configurations are vulnerable.  The relative ‘decline of US influence and power’ can be reversed even if it is not returned to its former configuration. The theoretical point is that while imperialist structures remain in place and while their collaborator counterparts abroad retain strategic positions, the US can re-establish its primacy in the global configuration of power.

Imperial ‘roll-back’ does not require the ‘same old faces’.  New political figures, especially with progressive credentials and faint overtones of a ‘social inclusionary’ ideology are already playing a major role in the new imperial-centered trade networks.  In Chile , newly elected “Socialist” President Michelle Bachelet and the Peruvian ex-nationalist, President Ollanta Humala, are major proponents of Washington ’s Tran-Pacific Partnership, a trading bloc which competes with the nationalist MERCOSUR and ALBA, and excludes China . 

In Mexico, US client President Enrique Peña Nieto is privatizing the ‘jewel’ of the Mexican economy, PEMEX, the giant public oil company – strengthening the Washington’s hold over regional energy resources and increasing US independence from Mid-East oil.  Colombian President Santos, the ‘peace president’, is actively negotiating an end to guerrilla warfare in order to expand multinational exploitation of mineral and energy resources located in guerrilla-contested regions, a prospect which will primarily benefit US oil companies.  In Argentina , the state oil company, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF) has signed a joint venture agreement with the oil giant, Chevron, to exploit an enormous gas and oil field, known as Vaca Muerte (Dead Cow). This will expand the US presence in Argentina in energy production alongside the major inroads made by Monsanto in the powerful agro-business sector.

No doubt Latin America has diversified its trade and the US share has relatively declined.  Latin American rulers no longer eagerly seek ‘certification’ from the US Ambassador before announcing their political candidacy.  The US is totally alone in its boycott of Cuba .  The Organization of American States is no longer a US haven.  But there are counter-tendencies, reflected in new pacts like the TPP.  New sites of economic exploitation, which are not exclusively US controlled, now serve as springboards to greater imperial power.

  Conclusion

 The US economy is stagnant and has failed to re-gain momentum because of its pursuit of ‘serial’ imperial wars.  But in the Middle East, the US decline, relative to its past, has not been accompanied by the ascent of its old rivals.  Europe is in deeper crisis, with a vast army of unemployed, chronic negative growth and few signs of recovery for the visible future.  Even China , the new emerging global power, is slowing down with its growth falling from over 11% to 7% in the current decade.   Beijing faces growing domestic discontent.  India , as well as China , are liberalizing their financial systems, opening them up to penetration and influence by US finance capital.

 The main anti-imperialist forces in Asia and Africa are not composed of progressive, secular, democratic and socialist movements.  Instead, the empire is confronted by religious, ethnic, misogynist and authoritarian movements with irredentist tendencies. The old secular, socialist voices have lost their bearings, and provide perverse ‘justifications’ for the imperialist wars of aggression in Libya , Mali and Syria .  The French Socialists, who had opposed the Iraq war in 2003, now find their President Francoise Hollande parroting the brutal militarism of the Israeli warlord, Netanyahu.

The point is that the thesis of the ‘decline of the US empire’ and its corollary, the ‘crises of the US ’ are overstated, time bound and lack specificity.  In reality, there is no alternative imperial or modern anti-imperial tendency on the immediate horizon.  While it is true that Western capitalism is in crisis, the recently ascending Asian capitalism of China and India face a different crisis resulting from their savage class exploitation and murderous caste relations.  If objective conditions are ‘ripe for socialism’, the socialists – at least those retaining any political presence- are comfortably embedded with their respective imperial regimes.  The Marxists and Socialists in Egypt joined with the military to overthrow an elected conservative Islamist regime, leading to the restoration of imperialist clientelism in Cairo .  The French and English ‘Marxists’ have supported NATO’s destruction of Libya and Syria .  Numerous progressives and socialists, in Europe and North America, support Israel ’s warlords and/or remain silent in the face of domestic Zionist power in the executive branches and legislatures.

 if imperialism is declining, so is anti-imperialism.  If capitalism is in crisis, the existing anti-capitalists are in retreat.  If capitalists look for new faces and ideologues to revive their fortunes, isn’t it time the anti-imperialists and anti-capitalists did likewise?

Many of the 33 nations that cast a vote in favor of the creation of the Israeli state on the November 29, 1947 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly probably didn’t know that the outcome of their vote will eventually become a manifestation of lawlessness and inattention to the internationally-recognized conventions and regulations; the conventions and rules that the same countries had once voted to institutionalize and ratify.

But unfortunately, it’s true that today, the Israeli regime is the most unruly, violent and irresponsible member of the international community that thanks to its unshakable ties with the United States enjoys immunity to the international law and is exempt from any kind of accountability.

Since its inception, Israel has been involved in the business of causing problems and troubles to not only its neighbors and the people whose homeland it occupies, but to the whole world.

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and the way it deprives them of their fundamental and natural rights embodies a clear violation of the principles of human rights and internal law. But instead of being held accountable over its criminal actions and policies, Israel continues to throw a spanner in the works of others thumb its nose at those who dare to criticize it.

It’s indisputable that Israel’s security is extremely shaky and feeble and will collapse as soon as the United States decides to lift its unconditional support for Tel Aviv. However, now that the two allies enjoy warm relations, Israel is immune to accountability over its violations of international law, and keeps up doing things which could lead to severe punishments for any other wrongdoer. So, it’s not too exaggerative to say that Israel is wielding an unwritten veto power that allows it to practice violence and aggression and be exempt from any kind of responsibility. Let’s look in brief at some of Israel’s violations of international law and its illegal conducts which run counter to the rules and conventions which the world countries have long recognized.

First of all, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian lands is illegal and unjustifiable. It’s not only an unlawful practice at the first place, but its continuation is a violation of the Principle 1 of the “Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States” adopted in 1970.

After the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 laid the groundwork for the creation of a Jewish state on the Mandatory Palestine, a 9-month-long war began between a military coalition of the Arab States and the Israeli forces in March 1948. As a result of the war, Israel occupied 60% of the regions which the UN General Assembly had allocated to the Palestinians, including the Jaffa, Lydda and Ramle area, Galilee, some parts of the Negev, a wide strip along the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem road, West Jerusalem and some territories in the West Bank.

19 years later, the Third Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Six-Day War or June War) which was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, again gave Israel the opportunity to occupy and annex more Arab lands. Within six days, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

After these illegal occupations, the UN Security Council has been referring to Israel as the occupying power in its resolutions. The Security Council Resolution 242 adopted on November 22, 1967 clearly called upon Israel to withdraw its forces from the territories it occupied in the recent conflict. The resolution’s preamble underlined the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security.”

In an article which the former Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Nasser al-Qudwa sent to The New York Times in 2002, but was rejected by the editorial team, it was noted that “what makes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land illegal is not the fact that it occurred during the war of 1967… What makes the Israeli occupation illegal is that it has existed for 35 years, during which time it transformed into a form of colonialism and suppressed and oppressed an entire people for decades, preventing them from the exercise of their right to self-determination and the establishment of their State, Palestine.”

“As for Occupied East Jerusalem, which the Israeli government illegally annexed in 1980, the Security Council, in resolution 478 (1980), determined ‘that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and, in particular, the recent “basic law” on Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,” wrote Dr. al-Qudwa.

 Therefore, it’s clearly observable that Israel, which the Security Council explicitly calls an “occupying power”, has predicated its existence on the illegal occupation of the lands which don’t belong to it. All the documents and evidences testify in condemnation of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian.

Aside from the very issue of occupation, different aspects of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian citizens violate the international law.

Since the day of Nakba, the day when the Israeli state came into existence, serious restrictions were imposed on the Palestinians intending to travel across the Occupied Territories, the Gaza Strip and West Bank. By putting roadblocks, checkpoints, dirt piles, concrete blocks, ditches and metal gates on the roads, the Israeli forces forbid the Palestinian citizens from commuting over the Israeli cities and the Occupied Territories.

This is while the freedom of movement within states is recognized in article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Israel’s conducts against the Palestinians’ freedom of movement are illegal and unlawful according to this convention. A pro-Palestinian peace movement in Jerusalem called “B’Tselem” says that these limitations and restrictions have caused serious economic, social and medical difficulties for the Palestinian citizens that they breach the rights guaranteed by the “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”

The Israeli settlements on the Palestinian lands are another case of the violation of international law by the lawless Israeli regime. According to the Israeli ministry of interior, there are 121 settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights, all being lands illegally occupied by Israel. Around 350,000 Jewish settlers live in these construction units.

 According to the reports published by the Council for European Palestinian Relations, the settlements are illegal and contrary to international law from different aspects.

Article 46 of the Hague Convention prohibits confiscation of private property in occupied territory.

Article 55 of the same document stipulates that “the occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator of public buildings, real estate, forests and agricultural estates… It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.”

UN Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) and 465 (1980) both denounce the settlements. Rex. 446 stated “that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly stipulates that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Israel is implementing many other policies which in turn run counter to the principles of international law. Its discriminatory measures against the Palestinians including the racial profiling of the Arabs, its refusal to permit the Arab citizens to join their families in the Occupied Territories, the policy of systematic isolation of the Palestinian citizens in their lands, its continued blockade of the Gaza Strip which is leading to a human catastrophe in the densely populated coastal enclave, imprisonment of the Palestinian citizens without charges or proper judicial trial, unwarranted disruption of medical care and destruction of the public and private properties of the Palestinians are all instances which show that Israel doesn’t attach any importance to the international law, and there’s nobody to hold it accountable, as well.

Such practices resemble the crimes of the apartheid regime of South Africa and fit the United Nations’ definition for apartheid. However, whenever the international community reached a consensus to condemn Israel for its criminal actions, it was the United States that used its veto power and acted as a representative of Israel at the Security Council to protect the interests of Tel Aviv and prevent the world powers from incriminating it. Former Time Magazine Bureau Chief in Israel Donald Neff has noted that the United States used its veto power on behalf of Israel 32 times and blocked the resolutions which either condemned Israel’s actions or called on it to adopt a certain measure in favor of the Arab people.

 It sounds like Israel is itself a member of the Security Council with a veto power. What is clear is that as long as the United States doesn’t allow the world to stand firm against Israel’s criminal and illegal conducts, the international law will continue to be ridiculed and undercut.

Kourosh Ziabari, Journalist, writer and media correspondent, www.KouroshZiabari.com

Iran Deal in Geneva: Hold the Cheers

November 24th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

A previous article asked if it matters? Longstanding hardline US/Israeli policy won’t change.

Sanctions Iran most wants removed remain in place. Stiff new ones may follow later on. For now they’re postponed.

America is duplicitous. It’s deals aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Will this one be different? Don’t bet on it. Interpretations differ on what was agreed on. More on that below.

Obama is no peacemaker. He’s waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He’s done so from day one in office. He broke every major promise made. That’s key.

He shows no signs of changing policy. He hasn’t throughout his tenure. He remains hardline on Iran. His softer rhetoric reflects deception. Tehran got too little in exchange for major concessions.

A six month interim deal was agreed on. It’s temporary, modest and reversible. It can be changed, rescinded or ignored if Washington wishes.

Iran has no guarantees. It has legitimate demands. It wants its sovereign rights respected.

It wants normalized relations. It wants US/Israeli war options dropped. It wants its membership in the world body of nations fully recognized.

On November 20, talks began. They continued into day five. They concluded pre-dawn on Sunday. A UN Geneva Palace of Nations signing ceremony followed.

  • Conflicting reports suggest possible rocky times ahead. Reuters headlined “Iran, six world powers clinch breakthrough nuclear deal.”

It suggested “emerging rapprochement ending a dangerous standoff” in exchange for “limited sanctions relief.”

The New York Times headlined “Accord Reached With Iran to Halt Nuclear Program.” It gave readers the wrong impression.

It partly misreported. It’s typical NYT. It said the agreement “temporarily freezes Iran’s nuclear program.”

It “halt(s) much of (it) and rolls some elements back.” Readers had to get well into the article for details. Most don’t get beyond the first few paragraphs. Initial impressions stick. What follows matters less.

The Washington Post headlined “Iran, world powers reach historic nuclear deal,” saying:

It “freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions Iran (is required) to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure.”

The Wall Street Journal headlined “Major Powers Reach Deal With Iran to Freeze Nuclear Program. (It) ensure(s) the Islamist government doesn’t rush to develop atomic weapons.”

Senator Mark Kirk (R. IL) is one of many sharp congressional Iranian critics. The Journal quoted him saying:

“This deal appears to provide the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars in exchange for cometic concessions.”

John Kerry lied to reporters, saying:

“This first step (agreed on) does not say Iran has the right of enrichment, no matter what interpretative comments are made.”

False! Agreement provisions are discussed below. Enrichment up to 5% is permitted. Kerry knows it. So can everyone reading the document.

On November 20, Senators Bob Casey (D. PA), Charles Schumer (D. NY), Lindsey Graham (R. SC), John McCain (R. AR), and Susan Collins (R. ME) wrote John Kerry. In part they said:

“We feel strongly that any easing of sanctions along the lines that the P5+1 is reportedly considering should require Iran to roll back its nuclear program more significantly than now envisioned.”

“It is our belief that any interim agreement with the Iranians should bring us closer to our ultimate goal which is Iran without a nuclear weapons capability.”

It should “prevent Tehran from possessing any enrichment or reprocessing capability.”

“(W)e are concerned that the interim agreement would require us to make significant concessions before we see Iran demonstrably commit to moving away from developing a nuclear weapons capability.”

“(W)e must be ever mindful of with whom we are negotiating. Iran has been the largest state sponsor of terrorism for over thirty years; its leaders routinely call for the destruction of Israel; and it arms and finances terrorist groups around the globe.”

Many other Republican and Democrat House and Senate members express similar sentiments. Anti-Iranian hostility is virulent. It’s longstanding. Geneva changes nothing.

Netanyahu’s office called the deal “a bad agreement. It gives Iran exactly what it wants: both substantial easing of sanctions and preservation of the most substantial parts of its nuclear program.”

Separately, Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers the deal is a “historic mistake. Israel is not obligated by this agreement.”

“I want to make clear we will not allow Iran to obtain military nuclear capability.”

“Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world.”

Other Israeli hardliners expressed similar comments. Deputy Knesset speaker, Moshe Feiglin, compared Geneva to Munich 1938.

“Any rational person understands that we are in the midst of a process leads to a nuclear-armed Iran,” he claimed.

Things are “much worse than (what) led to the Yom Kippur War,” he added.

Israel is the Middle East’s sole nuclear power. It maintains a formidable arsenal. It has long-range sophisticated delivery systems. It represents the region’s only major threat. Western media entirely ignore it.

Avigdor Lieberman is Israel’s defrocked/reinstated foreign minister. He represents the extreme far right of Netanyahu’s coalition government.

He’s an embarrassment too great to ignore. He’s a thorn in the side of peace and stability.

He warned about letting Iran’s nuclear program continue. It’ll lead to a regional nuclear arms race, he claimed.

It’ll be on a scale “that even the most nightmarish Hollywood horror movie could not come close to depicting.”

“We will know how to handle the Iranian threat, even if we stand alone,” he stressed.

“The threat is not just directed at us. The consequences (will be felt) across the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and the price of oil and gas. (They’ll) be catastrophic for the whole world.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was just as hardline, saying:

“We must not be patient and allow Iran to become a nuclear state. One way or another, Iran’s military nuclear program must be stopped.”

“We must continue with harsh sanctions on the diplomatic front, while presenting a credible military threat.”

“We stand before a bad deal after which Iran will still be allowed to preserve its enrichment capabilities and operate without pressure.”

“A strengthened Iran is a strengthened Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. These are groups that present a threat to the West and to us.”

Iranian reports were positive. Press TV headlined “Tehran, world powers reach nuclear deal: Iran FM.” The Tehran Times headlined “Tehran, world powers reach nuclear deal.”

Iran’s Fars News Agency headlined “FM: Iran to Continue Nuclear Activities.” It quoted Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying:

Iran’s “program has been recognized and the Iranian people’s right to use the peaceful nuclear technology based on the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and as an inalienable right has been recognized and countries are necessitated not to create any obstacle on its way.”

“The (nuclear) program will continue and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually.”

The deal represents a first-step effort toward “the full removal of all UN Security Council, unilateral and multilateral sanctions, while the country’s enrichment program will be maintained.”

“Production of 5-percent-enriched uranium will continue in the country similar to the past.”

“None of the enrichment centers will be closed and Fordo and Natanz will continue their work and the Arak heavy water program will continue in its present form and no material (enriched uranium stockpiles) will be taken out of the country and all the enriched materials will remain inside the country.”

“The current sanctions will move towards decrease. No (new) sanctions will be imposed and Iran’s financial resources will return.”

Zarif called the deal “a great success.” His faith remains to be tested. He understands the challenges Iran face. He called what was agreed on “an action plan in four pages.”

“If we see any breach occurs in the commitments of the other side, and I hope that it will not happen, there will be a possibility for reversing (the actions).”

“We are not in such a status to accept implementing the agreement unilaterally, if the other side doesn’t comply with its undertakings.”

“With open eyes and by fully protecting the people’s rights, if, God forbid, we come to this conclusion that the other side has misused the created opportunity, we will surely have other choices.”

Fars News published the full text of the deal. It’s provisions are as follows:

  • its duration runs six months; everything agreed on below remains in place for that period;
  • it’s renewable by mutual consent;
  • Iran retains half of its 20% enriched uranium “as working stock of 20% oxide for fabrication of fuel for the TRR (Tehran Research Reactor);”
  • the remainder will be diluted “to no more than 5%;”
  • for the next six months, Iran will restrict enrichment to 5%;
  • it “will not make any further advances of its activities at (its) Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant 1, Fordow2, or the Arak reactor 3;”
  • no new enrichment locations will be used;
  • “Iran will continue its safeguarded R&D practices, including its current R&D practices; (they’re) not designed for accumulation of the enriched uranium;”
  • reprocessing or construction of a facility for that purpose is prohibited;
  • “enhanced monitoring” is agreed on;
  • IAEA-supplied information will include “Iran’s plans for nuclear facilities, a description of each building on each nuclear site, a description of the scale of operations for each location engaged in specified nuclear activities, information on uranium mines and mills, and information on source material;”
  • Iran will supply this information within three months;
  • it’ll provide IAEA with an updated DIQ (Design Inventory Questionnaire) on Arak’s reactor;
  • IAEA steps were agreed on regarding the Safeguards Approach for Arak’s reactor;
  • “daily IAEA inspector access when inspectors are not present for the purpose of Design Information Verification, Interim Inventory Verification, Physical Inventory Verification, and unannounced inspections, for the purpose of access to offline surveillance records, at Fordow and Natanz;”
  • “IAEA inspector managed access to centrifuge assembly workshops4; centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities; and uranium mines and mills;”
  • Iran won’t “feed UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) into the centrifuges installed but not enriching uranium;”
  • it won’t install additional centrifuges;
  • it will replace existing ones with others “of the same type;”
  • no further Fordow enrichment “over 5% at 4 cascades (and no) increase(d) enrichment capacity; (no) feed (of) UF6 into the other 12 cascades (to) remain inoperative; no interconnections between cascades;”
  • Iran won’t “commission (Arak) or transfer fuel or heavy water to the reactor site, and will not test additional fuel or produce more fuel for the reactor or install remaining components;” and
  • centrifuge production will only replace “damaged machines.”

P5+1 countries agreed to the following:

  • cease efforts to further reduce Iranian crude oil sales;
  • let Iranian customers continue buying their current amounts;
  • repatriate “an agreed amount of revenue held abroad;” it’s believed to be no more than $7 billion; perhaps it’s less;
  • suspend US/EU insurance and transportation services sanctions;
  • suspend US/EU sanctions on Iranian petrochemical exports, associated services related to them, gold and precious metals, as well as others on associated services, and Iran’s auto industry plus associated services related to it;
  • “license the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services;”
  • “license safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services;”
  • no new US, EU or Security Council nuclear related sanctions;
  • “establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad;”
  • included are transactions involving food, agricultural products, medicines, medical devices and supplies, as well as medical expenses incurred abroad;
  • “specified foreign banks and non-designated Iranian” ones “to be defined” will be involved when the channel is established;
  • it’ll enable Iran to pay its UN obligations, as well as tuition for Iranian students studying abroad “up to an agreed amount;”
  • EU authorized transactions thresholds will increase “for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount;”
  • ” ‘sanctions on associated services’ means any service, such as insurance, transportation, or financial, subject to the underlying US or EU sanctions applicable, insofar as each service is related to the underlying sanction and required to facilitate the desired transactions;”
  • “these services could involve any non-designated Iranian entities;”
  • final step efforts toward a “comprehensive solution” to be implemented “no more than one year after agreement on the above provisions;”
  • it’ll have “a specified long-term duration;”
  • it’ll reflect adhering to NPT provisions and IAEA Safeguard Agreements;
  • it aims to “comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy, on a schedule to be agreed upon;”
  • it’ll involve a “mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs, with agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment activities, capacity, where it is carried out, and stocks of enriched uranium, for a period to be agreed upon;”
  • it’ll fully resolve concerns about Arak;
  • it’ll mandate “no reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of” doing so;
  • “following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT;” and
  • it’s mutually agreed that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

Sunday’s agreement leaves important issues unresolved. Key is longstanding US/Israeli hostility.

Iran won’t benefit unless its legitimate rights are respected. They haven’t been for 34 years. Will this time be different?

Will longstanding US imperial policy change? Will Israel’s position soften despite its rhetoric? Will its lobby? Will France, Britain and Germany? Will Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states?

Believing it requires a giant leap of faith. It’s believing America negotiates fairly. It’s believing it wants peace in our time.

It’s believing Obama intends ending decades of US hostility. It’s believing what won’t happen going forward.

Longstanding US policy remains unchanged. It’s hardline. It’s unrelenting. It wants unchallenged global dominance. It wants pro-Western puppet regimes replacing independent ones.

It’s the oil, stupid. It’s the gas. Iran is rich in both. Washington covets control. It continues going all out to get it. Geneva didn’t change things.

Professor Abbas Edalat founded the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII). He commented on Geneva, saying:

“Clearly, it would take a long time for the US to gain the trust of Iranian people, and this can only be achieved by recognizing Iran’s rights for a civilian nuclear program including home enrichment of uranium for energy production.”

“Only when the US treats Iran with respect as a sovereign nation, the process of reconciliation and looking forward to mutual cooperation and collaboration in many areas of joint interests can begin.”

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

What has been happening in Syria for the past three years? According to NATO and GCC media reports, the “regime” has shed blood to suppress a democratic revolution. However this version is contradicted by the current support for the government estimated at, according to sources, between 60 and 90 % of the population. The truth is quite different: NATO and the GCC have successively lost a war of succession and a fourth generation Nicaraguan-type war. It is they, and they alone, who organized and financed the death of 120,000 Syrians.

One of the challenges of preparing for the Geneva conference is to write the history of Syria. The NATO powers and the Gulf Cooperation Council are trying to impose their version of events which would give them a clear advantage at the negotiating table. Hence a sudden avalanche of articles and summary reports in the Western and the Gulf press.

The West and the GCC assert that the Syrian crisis is in line with the “Arab Spring .” According to this view, the “Bashar regime” would have bloodily suppressed the democratic aspirations of its people. NATO and the GCC would have then intervened to protect the civilian population.

The reality is quite different: the United States planned the destruction of Syria at a meeting on September 15, 2001, at Camp David. They began to prepare this by adopting the Syria Accountibility Act on December 12, 2003. They tried to plunge Syria into war first by causing the adoption of Resolution 1559 by the Security Council, then killing the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri and accusing President al-Assad of ordering the assasination. This scenario having failed, they subcontracted the war to the United Kingdom and France who prepared themselves via the Treaty of Lancaster on November 2, 2010. The signal for the commencement of operations was given by the United States from Cairo in early February 2011.

February 2011 – July 2012: the fourth generation war

From that date, and for 15 months, NATO and the GCC launched a fourth generation war, based entirely on their domination of the mass media. They convinced the world, including the Syrians, that the whole country had risen, though the most important events did not exceed 5,000 people. Thanks to snipers and commandos, they staged a bloody crackdown. However, in March-April 2012, after the fall of the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr, Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the withdrawal of France, while in May, the Syrians began to doubt Al-Jazeera’s reports and in June, Washington accepted its defeat at the Geneva Conference.

During this period , the combatants were either Syrian Takfirist (including 3000 captured in Baba Amr) or foreign professionals, particularly the Libyan members of al- Qaeda controlled by Abdelhakim Belhaj. Together, they formed the Free Syrian Army, flanked by British and French officers, with the logistical support of Turkey.

July 2012 – August 2013: War, Nicaragua Style

François Hollande ’s election as French president and the appointment of Laurent Fabius as Zionist Ministry of Foreign Affairs relaunched the war. Relying on CIA General David Petraeus and the expertise of Ambassador Robert S. Ford (former assistant to John Negroponte), France signalled a new war, this time Nicaragua style, by gathering the “Friends of Syria” in Paris on July 6th, 2012. Two weeks later, a mega-attack decapitated the army by assasinating members of the National Security Council. Immediately, 40,000 foreign jihadists, supported by a few thousand Syrians and supervised by French and British officers, began the assault on Damascus. This was the moment of truth. The Syrians, hitherto very passive, helped their army to defend the capital and repel the invaders. There followed a year of cruel and bloody war that killed more than 100,000 martyrs.

During this period, the United States stood back , leaving their allies to do the work on site. At most, they tried to influence Qatar and Saudi Arabia to limit the weight of jihadists and promote secular mercenaries. Recruitment centers were opened in Tunisia and Afghanistan. Airlifts were organized from Libya and Yemen to deliver tens of thousands of jihadists who came to die in Syria. As in Nicaragua, they found Syrians to support them, but ultimately they served to control the “liberated zones” rather than to fight the regular army face to face.

From August, 2013 to today: the failure of NATO

Noting their new failure, the NATO and GCC powers tried to ignore the Russian and Chinese vetoes in the Security Council. By organizing a crime to which they would attribute a huge symbolic significance, they would justify international intervention to protect civilians so they could finish by bombing the country as they did in Libya.

The chemical attack on ghoutta , August 21, 2013, was organized by NATO. The weapons were transported from a Turkish army barracks to Damascus and the usual media war was mobilized to make this episode more serious than any other event.

But the unexpected deployment of the Russian fleet off the Mediterranean coast would have forced the Pentagon to attack from the Red Sea, flying over Jordan and Saudi Arabia, that is to say, plunging their allies into the war. Washington, having given up on entering a regional conflict, U.S. diplomacy has since sought to prepare for the Geneva 2 conference.

Geneva 2

The Geneva 2 Conference, which will probably be held in late January, 2014, will put an end to three years of war. Depending on the version we retain of events, Syria will have experienced a civil war or will have been victorious against foreign aggression.

Americans Are Finally Learning About False Flag Terror

November 24th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Governments Admit They Carry Out False Flag Terror

Governments from around the world admit they carry out false flag terror:

  • A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson
  • Soviet leader  Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939, and declared that the fire originated from Finland as a basis launching the Winter War four days later
  • Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)
  • The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister
  • As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news reportthe official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
  • 2 years before, American Senator George Smathers had suggested that the U.S. make “a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]“.
  • And Official State Department documents show that – only nine months before the Joint Chiefs of Staff plan was proposed – the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The 3 plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals
  • The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him “to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident”, thus framing the ANC for the bombing
  • An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author)
  • Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion)
  • According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.
  • The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings
  • As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”.
  • Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”
  • United Press International reported in June 2005:

    U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

  • Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians
  • Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this)
  • At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence
  • A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat
  • U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants
  • The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – admitted last the Saudi government controls “Chechen” terrorists

Painting by Anthony Freda

So Common … There’s a Name for It

This tactic is so common that it was given a name for hundreds of years ago.

“False flag terrorism” is defined as a government attacking its own people, then blaming others in order to justify going to war against the people it blames. Or as Wikipedia defines it:

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy’s strategy of tension.

The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship in its own navy. Because the enemy’s flag, instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, was hung, it was called a “false flag” attack.

Indeed, this concept is so well-accepted that rules of engagement for navalair and land warfare all prohibit false flag attacks.

Leaders Throughout History Have Acknowledged False Flags

Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the danger of false flags:

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”
- Plato

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
- U.S. President James Madison

“A history of false flag attacks used to manipulate the minds of the people! “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”.
- Adolph Hitler

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
- Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.
- Josef Stalin

People Are Waking Up to False Flags

People are slowly waking up to this whole con job by governments who want to justify war.

More people are talking about the phrase “false flag” than ever before.

A CIA drone strike hit a religious school in Hangu, Pakistan before dawn [on November 21], killing at least six and injuring several more. It is believed to be the first time a strike has taken place in the ‘settled’ areas beyond Pakistan’s tribal regions.

The Bureau has logged reports of over 370 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. Almost every one of these has taken place in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), the semi-autonomous mountainous region bordering Afghanistan where large numbers of militant groups shelter alongside a civilian population.

According to the Bureau’s research, three drone strikes have previously hit outside the main body of FATA, in Frontier Region Bannu. The frontier regions are a ‘buffer’ area between the fully tribal regions and the ‘settled’ regions – the phrase used to describe the sections of Pakistan that are under provincial control. The most recent of these attacks took place in Jani Khel in March 2009, two months into Barack Obama’s presidency. Previous strikes took place in the same area in November 2008 and, according to less comprehensive reports, December 2007.

Students gather at the site of the strike that demolished part of their madrassa (REUTERS/Syed Shah)

Today’s strike hit a madrassa (religious school) in a village named Tal near the town of Hangu, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK), close to FATA. Residents described seeing drones circling in the area for days beforehand.

The madrassa was reportedly a mud building of 15 rooms though the missiles reportedly only hit one room. Around 80 students escaped unharmed, the Washington Post reported. The building was reportedly used by refugees. However a Haqqani source told AFP it was also ‘a base for the network where militants fighting across the border came to stay and rest, as the Haqqani seminaries in the tribal areas were targeted by drones.’

Abdullah Khan of the Conflict Monitoring Center, a Pakistani research body, pointed out that the attack was part of a series of strikes this year targeting the Haqqani Network, a militant group that frequently attacks US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. In September, an attack in North Waziristan killed Sangeen Zadran, a commander who was described as ‘running the show’, who was also shadow governor of Paktika province in Afghanistan.

Khan added: ‘This can be classed as one of the most significant drone attacks this year. Ahmad Jan was in the shadow government of Paktika province – he headed the shadow finance ministry. These are big names in Afghanistan; his killing will have impact.’

Jan was said to have been in his 60s. He was said to be a senior Haqqani commander, its second-in-commandaccording to one report, and its spiritual leader. He was not the only alleged militant killed – as many as five others, all reportedly senior Haqqani commanders, died in the attack.

The attack came the day after prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign adviser, Sartaj Aziz, told parliament the US had assured Pakistan it would suspend drone attacks while the Pakistani government was in peace talks with the Taliban. The Pakistani government is currently attempting to get the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Mansur Mahsud of the FATA Research Center told the Bureau: ‘Yesterday Nawaz Sharif’s foreign minister gave a statement saying it would not carry out drone strikes during talks between militants and the government, and the very next day a drone strike took place in the settled area. It will increase tension and anger in Pakistan against America.’

Khan added that the strike would raise fears of drones striking targets even further afield. ‘If the Pakistani government doesn’t come up with some reaction to this, the next target will be Quetta, the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban,’ he said. ‘They have said they think Mullah Omar [leader of the Afghan Taliban] is there.’

Additional reporting by Jack Serle

Iran, 5+1 Reach Nuclear Deal

November 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran and the world powers have finally agreed on a long-awaited deal on Tehran’s nuclear energy program, after days of intense talks in Geneva.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s spokesman, Michael Mann, also announced a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The Iranian foreign minister added that the nuclear crisis is abating.

The deal was announced on Sunday morning after the intense nuclear talks between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany, originally scheduled to end on Friday, entered into the fifth day.

The interim deal also allows for Iran to continue its activities in its nuclear sites in the cities of Arak, Fordo, and Natanz.

According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the agreement also stipulates that no additional sanctions will be imposed on Iran due to its nuclear energy program.

Iran will also receive access to USD 4.2 billion in foreign exchange as part of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, said the agreement recognizes the country’s “enrichment program.”

Araqchi had earlier emphasized that Tehran could not accept any deal that did not recognize Iran’s enrichment right.

The landmark agreement was reached in Tehran’s third nuclear negotiations with the world powers since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

Copyright Iran Review 2014

Outrageous US bullying by US Trade Representative Stan McCoy on intellectual property and health. McCoy puts profits of pharmaceuticals ahead of the lives of people.

“The world should stand up to the United States.  US corporations are not more important than people’s lives.”

A key dispute in the TPP negotiations is the patents on pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures.  Long patents inflate the profits of the pharmaceutical industry by not allowing less expensive generic drugs on the market.

This means that people around the world will not be able to afford critical, often life-saving, drugs and medical procedures.  It also means that countries like Japan, Australia and New Zealand that have national health care systems will see the cost of healthcare rise to a breaking point, undermining some of the best health systems in the world.

Stanford McCoy of the US Trade Rep.  His bullying tactics seek to prop up inflated pharmaceutical profits at the expense of thousands of lives.Stanford McCoy of the US Trade Rep. His bullying tactics seek to prop up inflated pharmaceutical profits at the expense of thousands of lives.

In order for the US to get its way,Stan McCoy, Assistant US Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation, is chairing the meetings on intellectual properties and medicines.  He has been using bullying tactics to force countries to agree to positions that will harm people in the countries negotiating the TPP, including the US.

“The US has adopted a strategy of exhaustion in its bullying of negotiators on the crucial intellectual property chapter to force countries to trade away health in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations in Salt Lake City,” according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, who is monitoring the negotiations. ”The US has stepped up its aggression as they move towards their ‘end point’ of the TPP ministerial meeting in Singapore from 7 to 10 December.”

Margaret Flowers, MD a health policy expert from the US says

“The Office of the US Trade Representative is putting the interests of trans-national health corporations before the needs of people. If the US position is forced through, the TPP will extend patents for medications, medical devices and even procedures for exorbitant lengths of times. This will inflate prices, keeping treatments out of reach for those who need them. This will cause unnecessary suffering and death, especially for the most vulnerable populations, and will undermine health systems around the world and at home.”

“This is a loaded game,” Professor Kelsey said. “McCoy sets the agenda and timetable. Negotiators are working from morning until late at night and preparing to work all night, if necessary. ”This is a crucial period for New Zealand and a number of other countries,” Kelsey observed. The text published by Wikileaks last week shows they have tabled an alternative to the US proposed text that has been repeatedly rejected.”

“New Zealand’s trade minister Tim Groser and his counterparts from the other ten countries must tell the US to stop this behaviour now,” Kelsey said. Flowers added: “Countries negotiating with the United States should not allow themselves to be bullied but should stand up to the United States.  It is looking very unlikely that President Obama will be able to get TPP through the Congress. Why would any country negotiate against the interests of their people?”

The US has around twenty people in Salt Lake City for the intellectual property chapter, who can rotate. Some countries have only one delegate for crucial talks on intellectual property on medicines. Their negotiations on medicines have been extended beyond the dates that were scheduled before negotiators came.  They have continued despite the fact that some health negotiators, especially from poor countries, could not extend their stay.

This follows a pattern of abuse over recent rounds reported in Inside US Trade and other media, where McCoy has acted as a gatekeeper, deciding what proposals from other countries are allowed into the text and what are not.

“This is an early warning of the extreme bullying that can be expected in when the trade ministers seek to close the deal off in December,” Professor Kelsey warned.

Contact: Prof Kelsey is in Salt Lake City she can be contacted through text messages at +64 21 765 055.  Margaret Flowers can be contacted at 410-591-0892

In what is being promoted as the most sweeping pro-market reform drive in three decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has unveiled the main resolution and President Xi Jinping’s explanatory remarks to the third plenum of the 18th Central Committee that concluded last week.

The global financial markets regarded the initial communiqué released on November 15 as disappointing due to the lack of any concrete policy. Stock markets in mainland China and Hong Kong tumbled the next morning. “Then, on the weekend, well ahead of the usual schedule for such announcements”, the New York-based Bloomberg.com noted, “the party released a longer follow-up statement worth getting excited about,” adding that, “It’s radical stuff”.

The market excitement was summed up by American billionaire investor, Jim Rogers, cofounder of the Quantum Fund with Gorge Soros. He announced he was considering migrating to China with his dollars, as “the most important economic event of the next 10 to 20 years is what happened in Beijing.”

The “Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms” is a 60-point blueprint for the next 10 years. It stressed that “the reform of the economic system is the focus of all the efforts to deepen the all-round reform”, which will allow the market to play the “decisive” role in economic life. Some sections of the Chinese press even predicted that the state would be reduced to the status of “night watchman”—a phrase used to describe 19th century “laissez-faire” capitalism of Dickensian Britain.

The blueprint is in line with the demands of Western finance capital outlined in a joint report produced last year by China’s State Council and the World Bank, China 2030. The aim is to intensify the exploitation of the 500-million strong Chinese workforce through production speedup, streamlining and opening up the sections of the Chinese economy previously closed to global capital. It will create greater supplies of cheap labour through sweeping land reform to drive more peasants into the cities, the loosening of the “One Child” policy to boost population growth and a possible increase in the retirement age.

Central to the proposals is financial sector liberalisation that will allow private capital to set up small and medium banks, as well as further moves toward exchange rate flexibility and market-determined interest rates. The ultimate aim is to make the tightly controlled capital account freely convertible. A deposit insurance scheme will be established that will effectively allow financial institutions to go bankrupt, but protect investors. The “Big Four” state-owned commercial banks are poised to become big losers as their current dominant position will be significantly eroded.

Previously state-dominated sectors including finance, petrochemicals, aviation, coal, shipping, electricity and even military industries will be opened up to private and foreign investors. Moreover, the resolution calls for a “hybrid ownership structure” that mixes state, private and other forms of ownership. It will transform state assets into what it calls “state capital” that will invest in enterprises in a similar fashion to various sovereign funds in the global stock markets. Several state asset management companies will be set up for that purpose.

Although the plenum resolution stressed the state will continue to control strategic sectors related to national security, state-ownership will be more like a giant-managed fund exercising influence mainly through majority share-holding, rather than direct administrative control. Corporate executives, rather than party bureaucrats, will be appointed to run these companies which will be accountable to shareholders and the board, not party authorities.

There is no sign, however, that Beijing will fully privatise the 100-plus largest state-owned enterprises amid concerns about national security raised by the US “pivot to Asia”. The revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that US tech companies have assisted US agencies to gain access to telecom networks have triggered alarm bells in Chinese security circles. Beijing has begun to exclude American corporations such as Cisco and IBM, leading to sharp falls of their recent revenues, and use Chinese companies instead.

Chinese media has highlighted the new austerity that Xi has imposed on the CCP bureaucracy with bans on drinking, fine dining and luxury offices, supposedly to end endemic corruption. In reality, these measures are to discipline and downsize the large state bureaucracy, turning it into a “service” government subordinate to the new Chinese elite and the operations of the “free market”.

The government will also deregulate much of the pricing for oil, gas, power, water, transport and telecommunications inevitably leading to higher living costs for the working people, who are already under severe financial strain. As much as 30 percent of the profits of state enterprises will be used to finance “social security”, up from 15 percent at present. The real motive behind this decision is to lessen taxation on private sector firms and further cut the already low levels of state spending on pensions and health care.

Last year China recorded the first decline in its working age population (16-59) in recent decades. In a bid to boost birth rates, the new proposals will loosen the “One Child” policy for the first time since it was enacted in 1979. Couples will be allowed to have two children, if one of the parents was a single child.

The proposed land reform, supposedly to give farmers the right to sell their land, is aimed at driving millions of rural poor into the cities as cheap labour. A market in urban land has existed since the 1990s. But rural land, though no longer farmed collectively since the 1980s, is still collectively owned by farmers at least nominally. In practice, it is controlled by village and township CCP bosses, whose collusion with developers and corrupt practices have often provoked violent protests and clashes.

Now farmers will be allowed to sell their land. In a related decision, the household registration system will be dismantled, ending the formal ban on rural residents living in the cities. The influx of rural labour will vastly heighten the pressure on jobs and social services in the urban areas. Officially, 51 percent of China’s population now lives in the cities, up from 18 percent in 1978. In reality, 270 million “urban” residents, almost of 40 percent of total, still have their household registration in rural areas, and are not entitled to social services in the cities.

The CCP regime is deeply concerned about the prospect of social unrest. Xi announced several cosmetic changes, including the abolition of the widely hated “correction through labour” system which allows police to send minor offenders to labour camps for up to four years without due procedure. In reality, Xi is strengthening the police state apparatus with the establishment of a new powerful National Security Committee that places the military, intelligence, public security and diplomatic apparatus under his direct control.

Xi is being compared to Deng Xiaoping who initiated the process of restoring capitalism in 1978. Professor Xiao Gongqian of Shanghai Normal University summed up the enthusiasm in ruling circles for “a golden age of Chinese neo-authoritarianism” to protect the interests of the wealthy elites as the social divide deepens. “It’s essential to concentrate power now. This period requires a strong man, a very powerful leader, and this powerful leader must have both prestige and also institutionally guaranteed powers,” he declared.

The JFK Assassination and 9/11: Unmasking Deep State Power

November 24th, 2013 by Michael Welch

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind. -John F. Kennedy

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It is recognized as one of the most tragic and iconic events in US if not world history.

Friday November 22 at 12:30pm fifty years ago, the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was gunned down while traveling in his presidential motorcade at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

A ten month long follow-up investigation, informally referred to as the Warren Commission, concluded that suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in carrying out the assassination.

Numerous researchers have expressed their skepticism about this version of events and claim that not only were there several individuals responsible for the assassination, but that the US State itself is implicated. One of the most compelling of these researchers is James Douglas, author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters This book was referred to by film maker Oliver Stone, creator of the acclaimed film JFK, as “an extraordinary new book that offers the best account he has read about this tragedy and its significance. ” [1]

Douglas was highlighted in a recent press release from the 9/11 Concensus panel. The article connected the JFK killing with the 9/11 event and called them both STATE CRIMES AGAINST DEMOCRACY (SCAD).

Elizabeth Woodworth is a researcher, a co-founder of the 9/11 Consensus panel and a contributor to Global Research. She spoke to the Global Research News Hour the week of the fiftieth anniversary to share her thoughts about these SCADs, the reasons they happen and who benefits. In her view, SCADs arise to protect dominant underlying power interests. She believes the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King posed a threat to those interests in the sixties, as do efforts today to mitigate climate change.

Barrie Zwicker is a long-time Canadian journalist, broadcaster and media critic. In recent years he has become outspoken about his views about 9/11 as being a so-called ‘false flag’ operation. He too sees deeper power interests linked to what he calls the Intelligence-Military-Academic-Industrial-Media complex. (IMAIM) The author of TOWERS OF DECEPTION: The Media Cover-up of 9/11 shares his thoughts in the second half hour.

Julie  Lévesque finishes off the hour with a selection of notable articles from the Global Research website which depart significantly from the Mainstream Media consensus around the JFK official story and explore it as a ‘deep’ political event.

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Notes:

1) Oliver Stone, July 23, 2009; Huffington Post; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/oliver-stone/jfk-and-the-unspeakable_b_243924.html

The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

The Global Research News Hour is also broadcast on CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C every Thursday at 1pm PST!

9/11 Truth: “WTC Building 7: The Story the Times Missed”

November 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

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 After repeated delays since the summer of 2011, the Tokyo Electric Power Company has launched a high-risk operation to empty the spent-fuel pool atop Reactor 4 at the Dai-ichi (No.1) Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

The urgency attached to this particular site, as compared with reactors damaged in meltdowns, arises from several factors:

-         over 400 tons of nuclear material in the pool could reignite

-         the fire-damaged tank is tilting badly and may topple over sooner than later

-         collapse of the structure could trigger a chain reaction and nuclear blast, and

-         consequent radioactive releases would heavily contaminate much of the world.

The potential for disaster at the Unit 4 SFP is probably of a higher magnitude than suspected due to the presence of fresh fuel rods, which were delivered during the technical upgrade of Reactor 4 under completion at the time of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The details of that reactor overhaul by GE and Hitachi have yet to be disclosed by TEPCO and the Economy Ministry and continue to be treated as a national-security matter. Here, the few clues from whistleblowers will be pieced together to decipher the nature of the clandestine activity at Fukushima No.1.

 Accidents happen

The delicate rod-removal procedure requires the lowering of a steel cylinder, called a transfer cask, into a corner of the pool and then using the crane to lift the 300-kilogram fuel assemblies (4..5-meter-tall bundle of fuel rods held inside a metal cage) one at a time from the vertical array of rods up and then down into the cask. The container can hold 22 assemblies for transfer to a temporary cooling unit built next to Reactor 4 before these are moved to a storage building.(1)

Lifting the 1,533 fuel bundles out of the pool is fraught with danger. If an assembly breaks away and falls, the impact could shatter other rods below, triggering an uncontrolled nuclear reaction. Compounding the threat, many rods are not intact but were fragmented into loose shards by a collapsing crane. In addition, many of the rods likely lost their protective cladding during the two fires that engulfed the spent-fuel pool on March 14 and 15, 2011.

The urgency of this transfer operation is prompted by the warping of the supporting steel frame by the twin fires that followed the March 11 quake. The pool is also tilting. If the unbalanced structure topples, the collapse would trigger nuclear reactions. A cascade of neutrons could then ignite the nearby common fuel pool for Reactors 1 through 6. The common pool contains 6,735 used assemblies.(2)

The Reactor 4 spent fuel pool contains an estimated 400 tons of uranium and plutonium oxide, compared with just 6.2 kilograms of plutonium inside Fat Man, the hydrogen bomb that obliterated Nagasaki in 1945.  (While predictions are bandied about by experts and bloggers, there exists no reliable method for calculating the potential sum or flow rate of radiation releases, measured in becquerel or sievert units, after an accident. The tonnage involved, however, indicates only that a large-scale event is likely and a cataclysm cannot be ruled out.)

More than 1,700 tons of nuclear materials are reported to be on site inside Fukushima No.1 plant. (My investigative visits into the exclusion zone indicate the existence of undocumented and illegal large-scale storage sites in the Fukushima nuclear complex of undetermined tonnage.)  By comparison Chernobyl ’s reactors contained 180 tons of fuel not all of which melted down.

Despite the looming threat to residents in Fukushima , surrounding provinces and the capital Tokyo , the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe along with TEPCO hews to the tradition of risk denial and blackout of vital information. No contingency plan has been issued to Fukushima residents or to the municipalities of the Tohoku and Kanto region in event of a nuclear disaster during the SFP clearance effort. A concurrent drive to impose a draconian law against whistleblowers on grounds of national security is reinforcing the cover-up of data and testimony related to nuclear power plants, including the Fukushima complex.

Mystery of MOX super-fuel

A Mainichi Shimbun editorial mentions in passing that the Reactor 4 pool contains 202 fresh fuel assemblies.(3) The presence of new fuel rods was confirmed in the TEPCO press release, which described the first assembly lifted into the transfer cask as an “un-irradiated fuel rod.” Why were new rods being stored inside a spent-fuel pool, which is designed to hold expended rods? What threat of criticality do these fresh rods pose if the steel frame collapses or if crane operators drop one by accident onto other assemblies, as opposed to a spent rod?

Against the official silence and disinformation, a few whistleblowers have come forward with clues to answer these questions. Former GE nuclear worker Kei Sugaoka disclosed in a video interview that a joint team from Hitachi and General Electric was inside Reactor 4 at the time of the March 11, 2011 earthquake. By that fateful afternoon, the GE contractors were finishing the job of installing a new shroud, the heat-resistant metal shield lining the reactor interior.(4)

 TEPCO inadvertently admitted to the presence of foreign contractors at Fukushima No.1 up until March 12, 2012, when the management ordered their evacuation in event of a massive explosion during the rapid meltdown of Reactor 2. So far, leaks indicate the presence of the GE team and of a Israeli nuclear security team with Magna BSP, a company based in Dimona.(5)

Another break came in April 2012, when a Japanese humor magazine published a brief interview of a Fukushima worker who disclosed that radioactive pieces of a broken shroud were left inside a device-storage pool at rooftop level behind the Reactor 4 spent-fuel pool.(6) This undoubtedly is the used shroud removed by the GE-H workers in February-March 2011.

A curious point here is that the previous shroud had been in use for only 15 months. Why would TEPCO and the Japanese government expend an enormous sum on a new lining when the existing one was still good for many years of service?

Obviously, the installation of a new shroud was not a mere replacement of a worn predecessor. It was an upgrade. The refit of Reactor 4 was, therefore, similar to the 2010 conversion of Reactor 3 to pluthermal or MOX fuel. The same model of GE Mark 1 reactor was being revamped to burn MOX fuel (mixed oxide of uranium and plutonium).

The un-irradiated rods inside the Unit 4 spent-fuel pool are, in all probability, made of a new type of MOX fuel containing highly enriched plutonium. If the frame collapses, triggering fire or explosion inside the spent-fuel pool, the plutonium would pulse powerful neutron bursts that may well possibly ignite distant nuclear power plants, starting with the Fukushima No.2 plant, 10 kilometers to the south.

The scenario of a serial chain reaction blasting apart nuclear plants along the Pacific Coast, is what compelled Naoto Kan, prime minister at the time of the 311 disaster, to contemplate the mass evacuation of 50 million residents (a third of the national population) from the Tohoku region and the Greater Tokyo metropolitan region to distant points southwest.(7) Evacuation would be impeded by the scale and intensity of multiple reactor explosions, which would shut down all transport systems, telecommunications and trap most residents. Tens of millions would die horribly in numbers topping all disasters of history combined.

Fires last time

The rod-transfer operation from Unit 4 is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014. That estimate is optimistic since it does not take into account the obstruction posed by fragments of shattered fuel rods that were overheated in the two fires that swept through Unit 4 spent-fuel pool on March 13 and 15, 2011, according to NHK television news.(8) Another factor for uncertainty is the impact of the explosion that rocked the roofline of the reactor building.

Basing its analysis on corporate information releases thus far, the Simply Info website states:

“TEPCO has changed their story on Unit 4 multiple times but eventually admitted to a very obvious explosion occurring at Unit 4 (on March 15). No video of Unit 4 exploding exists to date and it is assumed the explosion took place before dawn. One of TEPCO’s later admissions regarding unit 4 is that they think hydrogen leaked into unit 4 from unit 3 via the venting pipes and a faulty valve. No reason was given as to why unit 4 did not then ignite when Unit 3 exploded.”(9)

Soon after the Reactor 3 blast, an explosion occurred on the roofline of Reactor 4, blowing two 8-meter-wide holes through the outer wall. Although tattered, the spent-fuel pool survived the nearby explosion along with the device-storage pool containing the shroud. Photos of the building show holes and damage to a large section of walls and roof slabs on the northeast side of the upper structure (opposite the spent-fuel pool. Hydrogen gas, despite its high combustive energy per kilogram, lacks sufficient density to inflict such damage to reinforced concrete, as would a carbon-bonded gas like acetylene. A logical deduction then is that a cask of new fuel rods left on the roof during the GE-H refit was ignited by neutrons emitted from the SPF fire.

As for the spent-fuel pool, the first blaze broke out on March 14 and died down after several hours. On the following day, the pool reignited and had to be extinguished by firefighters. The nagging question is why the raging fires burned so long, since much of the hydrogen was dissolved in the remaining water at the bottom of the pool or would have burned off within a few seconds. While TEPCO conjectured that hydrogen gas pumped from Reactor 3 to 4, that scenario is a long stretch since most of the volatile gas would dissipated before arrival or ignited along the way.

An alternative possibility is of a tritium-plutonium reaction creating gas plasma inside the spent fuel pool. The condition of the cladding on the rods, which would have been melted by plasma, can indicate the heat source during those two fires. None dare mention are tritium-plutonium inter-reaction because that is the formula for a thermonuclear bomb, that is, the H-bomb. MOX fuel does have the potential to generate sufficient tritium for a thermonuclear, and that is what so rattled Naoto Kan by March 12, 2011.

A Puzzled Civil Engineer

In July 2012, inside the exclusion zone about 14 kilometers south of Fukushima No.1 plant, I had a discussion with a manager with a major construction contractor, whose large team was working at the damaged nuclear facilities. The civil engineer said that the Reactor 4 building was of serious concern because the structure was split, with the halves leaning onto each other. He added that the tilt indicates “structural damage” to the ferroconcrete foundation. Even a 9.0 earthquake could not cleave the strong footing, he stressed.

When asked about what then could crack the foundation, the manager responded: “I am a civil engineer, not a nuclear expert.” Nudged a bit more, he implied that a meltdown of nuclear fuel may have seared through the concrete. The intense heat can reconvert concrete into loose hydrated lime powder and sand, while cutting through rebar steel like a hot knife through butter.

The upgrade of the Reactor 4 shroud may well have involved the test-fitting of some MOX rods, which abandoned on the floor next to the reactor when the tsunami reached shore. In other words, in early March 2011 crane operators completely filled  space inside the spent-fuel pool with new MOX rods and then simply left casks of assemblies on the roof and lowered more into the basement. That is the simplest explanation for the damage to the structural integrity of the reactor building. GE is not about to disclose its role in this disaster.

Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo, conducts independent radiation measurements and dispenses herbal therapy to local residents on his 10 journeys since May 2011 into the 20-kilometer Fukushima exclusion zone.

Notes 

  1. Tokyo Electric Power Company, press release, 18 November 2013
  2. Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata, quoted by the Asahi Shimbun, “Doomsday scenarios spread about No.4 Reactor at Fukushima plant” 10 May 2012.
  3. The Mainichi Shimbun, editorial “TEPCO must put safety above all else in Fukushima atomic fuel removal project.”
  4. “GE Nuclear Plant Inspector/Whistleblower Kei Sugaoko Speaks”  youtube.com, 40 minutes
  5.  Israeli surveillance at Fukushima plant, Sarah Press, Israel21c, March 20, 2011 http://israel21c.org/news/israeli-surveillance-at-fukushima-plant/
  6. Datsutte-miru magazine, Interview of a Fukushima worker by Oshidori Mako, April 15, 2012.
  1. This writer attended the June 2013 seminar at the San Diego Board of Supervisors and  issuedthe most detailed news report on Naoto Kan’s remarks, “Japan’s leader during Fukushima meltdown opposes nuclear power”, posted at http://rense.com/general96/jpleader.html
  1. NHK World news broadcast, 15 March 2011, reported by Platts ( Sydney )
  1. SimplyInfo, “Reactor 4”, www.fukuleaks.org

 

Why France is Playing ‘Stupid’ on Iran

November 24th, 2013 by Pepe Escobar

US Secretary of State John Kerry has famously stated the US “is not blind” or “stupid” in its push to clinch a historic deal over the Iranian nuclear program. [1] So now that the world has been informed, he must, cryptically, have been talking about France.

The failed Geneva negotiations this past weekend over a temporary nuclear deal at least carried the merit of revealing who is really blocking it: the axis of fear and loathing composed by the Likudniks in Israel, the House of Saud, and the Francois Hollande administration in France.

Torrents of bytes have already detailed how Israel routinely hijacks US foreign policy. Here’s yet one more graphic demonstration of how Wag the Dog works. Last Friday evening, President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu asking him not to derail Geneva. Bibi then duly picked up the phone and called, in succession, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Hollande and asked them … to derail Geneva.

Hollande was the only one who followed Bibi’s marching orders. And all this after Kerry himself had been lectured by Bibi at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Friday morning.

Flash forward to the coda, early Sunday morning. Not by accident, Wendy Sherman, the lead US negotiator on the Iranian nuclear dossier, a certified Israeli-firster and borderline racist, [2] flew from Geneva straight to Israel to duly “reassure” her true leader, Bibi, that no deal would be clinched.

It’s no secret that Bibi and the Likudniks also run a great deal of Capitol Hill. Apart from bombing Geneva, Bibi may also rack up another temporary victory, with the US Congress about to add even more sanctions on Iran by attaching them to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Meet Bandar Fabius

As far as French behavior is concerned, it is conditioned as much by the formidable Israeli lobby in Paris as hard cash from Gulf petro-monarchies.

It certainly helped that, according to The Times of Israel, French parliament member Meyer Habib – also a holder of an Israeli passport, a former official Likud spokesperson in France, and a close pal of Bibi’s – called French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to tell him Israel would attack Iranian nuclear installations if the current deal on the table was clinched. [3]

Call it the AIPAC effect. Habib is the vice-president of the Conseil Representatif des Institutions juives de France, or CRIF – the French equivalent to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The ghostwriter of President Hollande’s speeches also happens to be a member of CRIF.

Fabius, grandiloquent and as slippery as runny Roquefort, invoked – what else – “security concerns of Israel” to derail Geneva. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javed Zarif were always extremely worried about being sabotaged by their own internal opposition, the hard line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. So their number one directive was that no details of the deal should be leaked during the negotiations.

That’s exactly what Fabius did. Even before Kerry landed in Geneva, Fabius was telling a French radio station that Paris would not accept a jeu des dupes (“fools’ game”).

The role of Fabius was pricelessly summed up by the proverbial unnamed Western diplomat telling Reuters, “The Americans, the EU and the Iranians have been working intensively for months on this proposal, and this is nothing more than an attempt by Fabius to insert himself into relevance late in the negotiations.” [4]

Terabytes of spin have been asserting that Washington and Paris are playing good cop-bad cop on the Iranian dossier. Not exactly; it’s more like the Gallic rooster once again showing off.

Hollande was gung-ho on bombing Damascus when Obama backed off at the 11th minute from the Pentagon’s “limited” attack; Hollande was left staring at a stale bottle of Moet. On both Syria and Lebanon, Paris is unabashedly playing a mix of neocolonial hugs and kisses while sharing the bed with Israel and the House of Saud.

But why, once again, shoot itself in the foot? Paris has lost a lot of money – not to mention French jobs, via automaker Peugeot – because of the Iran sanctions dementia.

Ah, but there is always the seduction of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, and the Gulf petro-monarchies. In a nutshell; Bandar Fabius was nothing but playing paperboy for the House of Saud. The prize: huge military contracts – aircraft, warships, missile systems – and possible construction of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, a deal similar to the one energy giant French Areva clinched last year with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The ghost of Montaigne must be squirming; France does not do irony anymore. Iran has no right to have its own nuclear plants, but France builds them and operates them for its Wahhabi clients.

The West doing Israel’s bidding makes sense; after all Israel may also be interpreted as a Western aircraft carrier in the heart of the Arab Middle East. As for France doing the Wahhabis’ bidding, just follow the money – from Veolia building and operating water desalination plants in Saudi Arabia to all those Rafale fighter jets to be unloaded.

Qatar, that slavery paradise presented by FIFA with a World Cup, has already invested over US$15 billion – and counting – in France, from shares in Veolia and energy behemoth Total to construction firm Vinci, media giant Lagardere, and full control of Paris Saint Germain, home of the new King of Paris, football icon Zlatan “Ibracadabra” Ibrahimovic. Not to mention that Qatar has bought virtually every significant square inch between Madeleine and Opera in Paris.

Hollande is a joke. This week he’s on the cover of the Courrier International weekly (headline: “The Art of the Fall”), with pan-European media judging him “incoherent”, “paralyzed” and “incompetent” (and these are the merciful epithets). On the weekend edition of the establishment Le Figaro daily, he was being destroyed because of France’s (latest) credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s.

King Sarko The First – aka former president Nicolas Sarkozy – must be beaming; Hollande is now the most unpopular president in French history. Paris remains great – but mostly for hordes of fleeting tourists from emerging markets, not for hordes of unemployed Parisians.

So it’s Bandar Fabius to the rescue! Gulf petro-monarchy cash is the salvation. In thesis, this show of “independence” should translate into billions of euros in contracts and investments. It also helps that “incompetent” Hollande is on an official visit to Israel in the next few days.

That pivot to Persia

Forget about finding details of the real reasons for this “show of independence” in French mainstream media, apart from Le Monde Diplomatique’s Alain Gresh in his blog. [5]

Explanations are absolutely pathetic. France is “alone against all”; it has shown “responsibility”; it has “reaffirmed its independence”. And of course all the blame lies on Kerry, who allegedly “came up with a text that nobody ever saw before”. Every shill has scrambled to cast Israeli-firster Fabius as savior. And yet the Elysee Palace has stressed that Fabius was just following Hollande’s orders – which, in thesis, meant renegotiating the “weak points” of the deal. Call it, essentially, “incompetent” Hollande showing Obama he’s got balls.

Paris has spun that the problems with the deal concern Tehran’s heavy-water reactor in Arak and its stock of medium-enriched uranium. US and Iranian diplomats had been working hard towards a compromise; Tehran would keep building the reactor over the six-month period of the interim agreement, but tests would be with dummy fuel rods and ordinary water.

Kerry was working on it until Fabius unleashed his peacock act in a long session that only finished late into Saturday morning. This led Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to note, wryly, that the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany) needed to negotiate with each other before negotiating with Iran.

The P5+1 internal mess could seriously compromise the next round of negotiations next week in Geneva. Yet Kerry, if he noticed it, managed to change his narrative to something even more theater of the absurd; he’s now blaming Iran for the non-deal. [6] It’s as if, after reading the French papers, he decided to atone for his sins.

Arguably Iran has proved to the whole, real, flesh and blood “international community” that it wants a deal and it is willing to negotiate. But then there are the sanctions to be approved by the US Congress – a de facto internal American sabotage. Yet these are third-party sanctions – where other countries are “punished” by the US for trading with Iran. No one will take these seriously, starting with the Asian powers, Turkey and Russia.

For the moment, no deal may seem better than a bad deal. It might happen at the next meeting, in Geneva on November 22. Most likely, a full interim deal will happen in a few months. The Obama administration wants a deal. France, for all its posture, is irrelevant.

Worse. Paris is being “blind” and “stupid” – to adapt Kerry’s words – by alienating French companies, in the energy sector, nuclear energy and manufacturing, from the fabulous possibilities unleashed by a normalized relationship between Iran and the West. If the Hollande gang believes they will be “saved” by the Wahhabis, they must be on mescal.

It may take years – and it will. But Washington will inevitably find some sort of accommodation with Iran. US corporations want it. The energy-starved West wants it. Even the US hyperpower complex wants it – as it will give it way more leeway in Southwest Asia and beyond. The axis of fear and loathing of Israel, the House of Saud and France may play spoilers – but not for long. “Pivot to Asia”? Not before a pivot to Persia.

Notes

1. Iran nuclear talks: US ‘not stupid’ – John Kerry, BBC News, November 10, 2013.
2. The DNA of Iranians and Under Secretary Sherman, Counterpunch, November 4, 2013.
3. Israel will attack Iran if you sign the deal, French MP told Fabius, Times of Israel, November 10, 2013.
4. Iran nuclear deal unlikely as split emerges in Western camp: diplomats, Reuters, November 9, 2013.
5. Click here (in French).
6. Iran balked at Geneva nuclear deal, says John Kerry, The Guardian, November 11, 2013.

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

He may be reached at [email protected].

Copyright 2013 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd

Arriving in Washington on 6 December 1982, Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq meet Secretary of State George Shultz, a steady supporter of aid to Pakistan, nuclear problems notwithstanding (Photo from National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, RG 330-CFD ).

Arrest of Arshed Pervez Sparked Reagan Administration Debate over Sanctions

Newly Declassified Documents Show Illegal Network Had Islamabad’s “Approval, Protection, and Funding”

Reagan White House Chose Afghan War over Nonproliferation Enforcement

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 446

Washington, D.C., - The arrest of a Pakistani national, Arshed Pervez in July 1987 on charges of illegal nuclear procurement roiled U.S.-Pakistan relations and sharpened divisions within the Reagan administration, according to recently declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Kenneth Adelman wanted to crack down on the Pakistani nuclear program by cutting military and economic aid; Adelman argued that failure to do so “would be seen as ‘business as usual,’” taking the pressure off Pakistan “at the very time we should be trying to increase pressure on them to stop … illegal procurement activities in the US.” By contrast, the State Department took a contrary view because U.S. aid to Pakistan supported the mujahidin in Afghanistan: “We are particularly concerned about weakening the President’s hand in discussions with the Soviets on Afghanistan, which [are] at a critical stage.”

Pervez, who had tried to bribe a Customs official to get an export license, sought to purchase high strength maraging steel, uniquely suited for gas centrifuge enrichment technology, and quantities of beryllium for his country’s covert nuclear program. This arrest and then an indictment in California on another case[1] made headlines in the United States. Adelman wanted President Reagan to invoke the Solarz amendment (after then-Rep. Stephen Solarz, D-NY), which required an aid cut-off in the event that governments receiving U.S. aid or their agents illegally tried to procure material that could be used for a nuclear weapons program. Reagan, however, refused to invoke the Solarz amendment. Although Pervez would be found guilty, the White House kept U.S. aid flowing to Islamabad for reasons of “national security.”

For the Reagan administration, aiding the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan trumped nonproliferation policy interests. The high priority given to a close U.S.-Pakistan relationship may have encouraged, as some journalists have alleged, State Department officials to warn the Pakistanis of the imminent arrest of their agents.[2] Indeed, a key figure in the A. Q. Khan nuclear procurement network, Inam Ul-Haq, who was working closely with Pervez, evaded arrest by slipping out of the United States at the last minute. A few weeks later, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Michael Armacost explained to Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq that State had unsuccessfully tried to get information about the Customs Bureau’s investigation of Perez, but “we did alert the GOP [Government of Pakistan] through letters, Ambassador Hinton, and our talks with the Foreign Minister that there was an issue here that needed to be addressed urgently.” “I understand the idea of warning, Zia replied.” Future declassifications may elucidate exactly what these urgent alerts amounted to.

Kenneth Adelman with President Ronald Reagan, 21 January 1983, at the time of his controversial nomination as director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Adelman became a hard-liner on Pakistan’s nuclear program, but his support for cutting aid met resistance at the State Department and the White House. (Photo from Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Photo C12544-8A).

The Pervez case demonstrates how U.S. government agencies, including the Customs Bureau and ACDA, sought to monitor and disrupt Pakistan’s nuclear procurement activities. For its part, the Reagan White House used loopholes in U.S. nonproliferation laws to avoid the enforcement of sanctions on Pakistan.  The documents published today illustrate these and related developments. They include:

  • Records compiled by U.S. government lawyers for prosecuting Pervez, including correspondence between Pervez and the Khan front company, Multinational, Inc., Pervez’s correspondence with Carpenter Technology Corporation, the supplier of maraging steel, and Pervez’s personal notes, which include references to “atom” and “military” which his lawyers could not explain.
  • A memorandum by Kenneth Adelman shortly after Pervez’s arrest: “If we now ‘lawyer our way around’ the Solarz amendment”, and seek to avoid its enforcement, “Zia will conclude once again that he need do nothing about his bomb program.”
  • An ACDA memo on the applicability of the Solarz amendment which concluded that “there is no plausible end-use for 25 tons of grade 350 maraging steel other than in the manufacture of centrifuges” for producing highly-enriched uranium and “for which Pakistan has no use except in nuclear explosives.”
  • A record of meetings on 5 August 1987 between general Zia and Under Secretary Armacost. Seeing a “conspiracy” to harm U.S.-Pakistan relations, Armacost observed that Washington could not simply “wink” at Pakistani procurement operations. He later said that U.S. government “information” indicated that “enrichment levels above 90[percent] have been achieved at Kahuta,” the site of a secret gas centrifuge facility. This meant that Pakistan was producing weapons-grade material in violation of an earlier commitment to a five percent ceiling.
  • A State Department Intelligence and Research report that characterized Pervez as “a convenient tool” for Pakistani nuclear procurement agents “to use in obtaining sensitive goods in the US.” They supplied Pervez with nuclear “shopping lists” that showed that his “activities were part of a larger government-supported plan.”

Michael H. Armacost (right) at the time of his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Japan in May 1989, having previously served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during 1984-1989. When the Pervez case broke out, Armacost played a major role in strategizing ways and means to avoid punitive action but also to encourage General Zia to meet U.S. nonproliferation objectives. (Photo from National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, RG 59-S0, box 1).

Besidesthe Solarz amendment, other acts of Congress were at issue in the debates sparked by the Pervez affair. One was the Pressler amendment (1985), after Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD), which required annual certification that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device. The other was the Symington amendment (1976); named after Sen. Stuart Symington (D-MO); it prohibited aid to non-NPT countries that initiated uranium enrichment programs for producing nuclear weapons. In 1979, under the Symington amendment, the Carter administration suspended aid to Pakistan after it discovered the Kahuta enrichment plan. When the Reagan administration came to power in 1981 it worked with Congress to give Pakistan a five-year waiver of the amendment because of its role in funneling U.S. aid to the Mujahadin in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Congress imposed conditions – for example, aid would stop if Pakistan tested a nuclear weapon. With the waiver expiring in Fall 1987, the Reagan White House successfully finessed the Pervez affair so that it could justify continued economic and military aid to Pakistan.

[3]

What had inspired the 1979 application of the Symington amendment was the discovery of Pakistan’s purchases of dual-use technology for its uranium enrichment program. A. Q. Khan was one of the founders of the Pakistani nuclear procurement system, but with other countries seeking specialized technology for their nuclear programs illegal networks have flourished. A recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security reminds us that illegal procurement networks for nuclear technology continue to pose a challenge to law enforcement and nonproliferation policy. The acquisition of material for gas centrifuges is central to this activity and maraging steel remains a commonly sought item by the procurement networks. This puts the Pervez incident in perspective as an event in the historical continuum of illegal procurement organizations for nuclear programs. What make this case distinctive is that Pervez was caught and his activities were documented.

The documents in today’s posting only give part of the story, mainly the ACDA perspective and the nuts and bolts of Pervez’s procurement activities as presented in the trial documents. The State Department is coordinating the review of other documents on the Pervez case with other agencies and offices (probably including CIA), and some denied items are under appeal. The Archive has also requested declassification of a November 1987 memorandum by Secretary of State George Shultz to President Reagan arguing against penalizing aid to Pakistan. Assuming that some of these documents get declassified, more light will be shed on the way that the Reagan administration handled the Pervez case.


THE DOCUMENTS

Note: Except for document 9 and the Reagan public statements, all items below are from recent Department of State mandatory declassification review releases.

Documents 1A-B: Tracking the Khan Network

A: Department of State telegram 287763 to Embassy Bonn, “Export of Uranium Enrichment equipment to Pakistan,” 19 September 1985, secret.

B: Embassy Bonn telegram 35237 to Department of State, “Export of Uranium Enrichment to Pakistan,” 22 November 1985, secret

As these telegrams demonstrate, by Fall 1986, if not earlier, the U.S. government believed that a Pakistani firm, Multinational Inc., was a “procurement agent” for A.Q. Khan’s secret network. In this case, Pakistani agents operating in West Germany were trying to secure aluminum tubes that could be used for the Khan Laboratory’s gas centrifuge program. The State Department sent the U.S. Embassy talking points that could be used for a “non-paper” for German officials. According to the Foreign Office’s response, the equipment had not been delivered and German firms had been informed that an export license needed to be granted. More needs to be learned about the follow-up in West Germany, but Multinational Inc. would surface in the Pervez case.

Document 2: Embassy Islamabad cable 11791 to Department of State, “Nuclear: Solarz Conversation with GOP,” 29 May 1986

The year after Congress passed the Solarz amendment in August 1985, Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-CA) traveled to Pakistan, a country that would become a major test case for the amendment which cut off U.S. foreign aid to recipients. Solarz confronted General Zia and other top officials with his perception, based on U.S. intelligence, that Pakistan’s Kahuta plant was enriching weapons-grade enriched uranium. The Pakistanis strenuously denied the charge, arguing that if their “word” could not be accepted there would be no “basis for the relationship.” Solarz argued for independent verification of that claim but the Pakistanis argued that would be an unacceptable intrusion on their sovereignty. The possibility of a regional nuclear solution was discussed but the Pakistanis argued that India had been unresponsive to their proposals.

During a discussion with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) chairman Munir Khan which included Australian and British diplomats, the question arose what would happen if Washington terminated aid to Pakistan in 1987. The Australians and British “posited” that Pakistan would “seek an accommodation on Afghanistan,” presumably through a deal with Moscow.

Document 3: State Department telegram 215122 to Embassy Islamabad, “Maraging Steel Case: Press Guidance,” 14 July 1987, unclassified

The Pervez arrest immediately raised questions in the media but the State Department would say little other than: let the legal system do its work, no speculation about Pervez’s intentions, and the admission that the Department had expressed concern to Pakistan about the “overall nature and direction of [its] nuclear program.” No decision had been made whether to invoke the Solarz amendment and suspend aid.

Document 4: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “Your Meeting with Ambassador Merker,” 14 July 1987, secret

When ACDA director Kenneth Adelman saw the State Department talking points for a conversation with Pakistani ambassador Jamsheed Marker about the Pervez case he was irritated by the “business-as-usual” tone. If the comments did not express “outraged indignation,” Pakistan “will continue its bomb program and continue to lie to us.” Apparently, the language was strengthened in the final version (see document 7).

Document 5: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf, Director to the Director, “Solarz Amendment Applicability to the Pakistani Procurement Case.” 16 July 1987, secret

Immediately arms control experts began to review available information about the Pervez case and drafted preliminary answers to whether the Solarz amendment was applicable. ACDA official Norman Wulf saw a good case, with the information supporting positive answers to basic questions: would the maraging steel to be used for nuclear weapons manufacture, was the Pakistani national working on behalf of his government, would the steel “contribute significantly” to a capability to manufacture a nuclear explosive, and was there an “attempted illegal export”?

Document 6: Department of State, Memorandum from Ted Borek to Mr. Peck [et al.], “Letter to Justice on Pakistan Export Case,” 15 July 1987, unclassified

This draft of a State Department letter to the Justice Department, that was presumably sent soon thereafter, supported prosecution of Pervez to the “fullest extent of the law.” The cover memorandum mentioned an earlier smuggling case involving Nazir Ahmed Vaid which raised “allegations … that the Department had intervened to prevent a more vigorous prosecution.”[4] The State Department lawyers denied the allegations, but in handwritten comments ACDA official Norman Wulf (an attorney by training) saw a different problem: not the prosecutor’s handling of the case, but the “lenient sentence.” To prevent a recurrence, Wulf suggested that the letter include the concept of a “stiff sentence” if prosecution led to conviction, although it was necessary to avoid “prejudicing the rights of the accused.”

Document 7: Department of State, Memorandum from Ted Borek to Mr. Peck [et al.], “Solarz Amendment: Legal Memorandum for Mr. Armacost,” 20 July 1987, limited official use

The Pervez case immediately raised questions among State Department lawyers about the relevance of the Solarz amendment. A final answer depended on more evidence; the lawyers wanted to see the many documents that Canadian authorities had impounded as well as the tape recordings of Pervez’s conversations with U.S. undercover agents. Nevertheless, enough information was available for a general discussion of the “elements … which must be satisfied to trigger the Amendment.” One point of controversy was when a president should act, for example, whether the president had the “discretion to withhold action while criminal proceedings are in progress.” Not only could the results of the proceedings clarify the case, presidential action “could prejudice the criminal proceedings.” The State Department and the Justice Department favored maximum presidential discretion, but Congressman Solarz argued that this was not what Congress had in mind: “it intended the President to act if he believed on the basis of a preponderance of the evidence that the illegal conduct occurred.”

Document 8: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman for the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, “The Pakistani Procurement Cases,” 23 July 1987, secret

What State Department lawyers had in mind aggravated ACDA director Adelman who believed that they might “lawyer their way around” the Solarz amendment. With Pakistan already violating the “red line” on uranium enrichment, Adelman believed that without a display of resolve “presidential credibility” would be further damaged; that required cutting off aid under the Solarz amendment. Reagan should offer to waive the amendment only if the Pakistanis stopped procurement activities and undertook a verifiable halt to enrichment above five percent. As it was, aid to Pakistan would automatically stop on 30 September when the waiver to the Symington amendment expired and it would be difficult to persuade Congress to approve the restoration of aid unless Reagan “demonstrates that he takes the Solarz amendment seriously.”

Document 9: National Security Council, Memorandum from Shirin Tahir-Kheli to Robert Oakley,” Dealing with Pakistan’s Nuclear Program: A U.S. Strategy,” 23 July 1987, secret Source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

This memorandum by a senior NSC staffer took the Pervez case seriously as a threat to aid to Pakistan that Islamabad needed to avert by making “reliable assurances on enrichment and on illegal procurement activities.” Instead of focusing on the U.S. dilemma of balancing nuclear proliferation and Cold War concerns, Washington should “shift the onus of maintaining the relationship onto” the Government of Pakistan. Something “substantial had to be done” because the Pervez case was an embarrassment to the President and involved a violation of U.S. law. Among the options that Tahir-Kheli believed were worth discussing were “verification of limits on enrichment,” “identification of parties responsible for illegal activities” and “action against” them, a decision, with a “written commitment,” to adhere to the five percent enrichment level, and “institutional measures” to curb illegal procurement activities.

Document 10: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Briefing Memorandum from Anthony Salvia to the Director, “HFAC Asia Subcommittee Hearing on Pakistan,”24 July 1987, unclassified, with Bonker-Fascell letter to Reagan attached

A hearing by the House subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade on 22 July 1987 made it clear why administration officials worried about the implications of the Pervez case. With Congressman Solarz arguing that the arrest involved “a flagrant and provocative challenge to U.S. nonproliferation objectives.” A number of subcommittee members called for a temporary suspension of aid to Pakistan; a letter to President Reagan from subcommittee chairman Don Bonior (D-WA) and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Dante Fascell (D-Fl) recommended aid suspension along with a “review with Pakistani leaders [of] the future direction of our relations.” Others on the subcommittee, such as Rep. James Leach (D-IA) “urged caution” and suggested “intermediate sanctions,” for example, a partial aid cut-off. He argued that the “problem with the Solarz amendment” was that it “puts the Administration so much on the spot that a national security waiver is virtually inevitable.”

Document 11: U.S. District Court, “Indictment: U.S. of America Vs. Arshad Pervez and Inam Ul-Haq,” 28 July 1987.

The indictment against Pervez and Ul-Haq included charges of conspiracy, bribery, racketeering, export violations, and false statements. The key element in the case was the illegal effort to acquire 1) 350 maraging steel that would be “used in a uranium enrichment plant to manufacture nuclear weapons,” and 2) beryllium, used specifically for the neutron initiator in a nuclear weapon, the export of which was controlled in the government’s Commodity Control List.

Document 12: Department of State, “Classified Congressional Briefing on Pakistani Clandestine Nuclear-Related Procurement, “circa 26 July 1987, secret.

These are the Department’s talking points, intended for use with Congress. While ACDA officials were fairly certain that a violation of the Solarz amendment had occurred, the State Department did not want to assume anything until it had reviewed the evidence. What comes across very clearly is a strong aversion to “hasty reaction to this case” because of the situation in Afghanistan. “We are particularly concerned about weakening the President’s hand in discussions with the Soviets on Afghanistan, which is at a critical stage.” Moscow’s “incentives to reach a settlement” could be reduced if “US resolve or ability to work with Pakistan” was in doubt.

Document 13: Department of State, Draft telegram to Embassy Athens [et al.], “Pakistani Circumvention of Nuclear Export Controls,” 28 July 1987, Secret

Whatever the State Department told Congress, nuclear experts in the State Department were more certain that the maraging steel was “probably intended” for the Pakistani gas centrifuge program. This telegram included information that U.S. embassies were to share with foreign governments to help them tighten up their export controls. While maraging steel tubes were specifically subject to international export controls, the raw maraging steel bars that Pervez sought “requires a license if the exporter has reason to know that the material will be used in uranium enrichment.”

Documents 14A-D: Armacost Meeting with General Zia:

A: Embassy Islamabad telegram 16294 to Department of State, “First Day in Islamabad-August 2,” 3 August 1987, secret

B: Embassy Islamabad telegram 16556 to Department of State, “Under Secretary Armcost Meeting with Zia,” 5 August 1987, secret

C: B. Department of State telegram 244270 to the Embassy in Islamabad, “Under Secretary Armacost Meeting with Zia,” 7 August 1987, secret

D: Embassy Islamabad telegram 16052 to Department of State, “Pervez Nuclear Arrest Case-July 23 Statement by MFA Spokesman Gives Greater Emphasis to Conspiracy,” 30 July 1987, confidential

Only a few weeks after Pervez’s arrest, Under Secretary of State Armacost traveled to Pakistan for wide-ranging discussions with General Zia, but with a special focus on nuclear procurement and the uranium enrichment program. As Armacost reported to Secretary Shultz, “I emphasized the need for immediate practical steps to demonstrate to an aroused Congress and a skeptical administration that no further illegal procurement activities would take place and that we had verifiable assurances there would be no further enrichment of weapons-grade uranium.” The talks had their tense moments, for example, when Zia argued that Washington was trying to “get one Pakistani in order to hang the entire government.” Using language that was becoming routine at the Foreign Ministry, Zia said he saw a “conspiracy to destroy” U.S.-Pakistan relations and denied that Pervez had any connections with Pakistani government agencies. He argued that the maraging steel could be “used for 20 or more different things.”

Declaring that the administration had an “open mind” about the Pervez case, Armacost nevertheless observed that “the only apparent use for this grade of maraging steel [was] for a gas centrifuge.” What Armacost wanted in particular were Pakistani actions that he could tell Congress about, such as government “instructions” that showed it was trying to stop illegal procurement in the United States and that it would extradite Brigadier Inam. Zia declared that Pakistan would cooperate to “prevent illegal procurement;” he asked for a list of illegal items and said that steps would be taken to “tighten up” procurement operations.

Armacost raised the matter of Pakistan’s commitment to follow a five percent ceiling for uranium enrichment, noting that U.S. government “information” indicated that “enrichment levels above 90 have been achieved at Kahuta” in violation of the 5 percent ceiling that Zia had accepted in discussions with President Reagan. Zia laughed off the charge but then declared that the U.S. government “will have to accept my word.” Nevertheless, he agreed to a meeting between Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Munir Khan and Ambassador-at-Large Richard T. Kennedy (whose portfolio was nonproliferation policy) to confirm the “five percent level.”

When the embassy in Islamabad sent to the State Department a record of the conversation, Armacost had not reviewed the first 45 paragraphs; subsequently, his assistant Andrew Steinfeld sent a corrected copy that had interesting and sometimes important differences from the original (for example, compare the versions of paragraphs 14 and 34).

Document 15: Arms Control And Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf to the Director, “Recent Activities Related to the Pakistani Procurement Case,” 10 August 1987, secret

Following up the Armacost-Zia talks, ACDA official Norman Wulf reviewed plans for a “dialogue” with Pakistan to prevent illegal procurement in the United States and verification of the five percent enrichment commitment. Adelman probably wrote the marginal comment on the document, “Better than nothing.”

Document 16: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf to the Director, “Weekly Activities Report,” 13 August 1987, secret

Wulf reported to Adelman that the information telegram on the Pervez and other smuggling cases [see Document 13] had gone out to the embassies (except for the Soviet bloc) and had received a favorable response from nuclear-supplier states. ACDA had proposed a “range of overt, technical means” to verify the five percent commitment and it was under further review. Adelman wanted ACDA to “hammer home on the 5% firewall” and not let procurement “be sole topic.”

Document 17: Embassy Islamabad telegram 17754 to the Secretary of State, “Pervez Case-GOP Regulation on Procurement Activities,” 23 August 1987, Secret

During the Armacost-Zia talks, the Pakistanis had told U.S. officials that they would confidentially share any new procurement regulations with them. The embassy reported that a “roadblock” had emerged and that Foreign Minister Yaqub Khan was looking into why the regulations had not been made available. The Pakistanis made available some documentation later [see document 26] but the specifics have not been disclosed.

Document 18: Consulate Lahore telegram 0524 telegram to Embassy Islamabad, Information Department of State, “Pervez Nuclear Arrest Case – Possible Location of Brig. Inam Ul Haq,” 2 September 1987, Confidential, excised copy

A confidential source told consular officials that the Pakistani government had detained Inam Ul Haq and was “being rotated between various locations” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The source did not know this first-hand, but had another source “that he is convinced is correct.”

Document 19A-C: Getting the Pervez Documents from Canada

A: Department of State telegram 270161 to Embassy Ottawa, “Access to Canadian Documents in Pervez Case,” 29 August 1987, Secret

B: Ted Borek to Mr. Peck et al, “Draft Note to Canadians on Pervez Documents,” 4 September 1987, with Ottawa embassy telegram, 3 September 1987 attached, secret

C: State Department telegram 278631 to U.S. Embassy Ottawa, “Access to Canadian Documents in Pervez Case,” 5 September 1987, secret

The Canadian government cooperated with the U.S. Justice Department in the Pervez case by seizing documents at his and making them available to federal prosecutors. The State Department wanted permission to review the documents “on the premises of the U.S. law enforcement authorities” so that it could use them to prepare recommendations to President Reagan “concerning a decision regarding the applicability of the Solarz amendment.” These documents concern messages to the Canadian government on the request for access; how and when Ottawa responded is not clear, although presumably it gave permission.

Document 20: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “A Strategy on Pakistan,” 4 November 1987, secret

Continuing to take a tough line on Pakistan, Adelman advised Armacost to “increase pressure on Pakistan to try to get them to stop enrichment above five percent and to stop illegal procurement activities in the United States.” To do this he suggested holding off until January any certification that Pakistan does not “possess a nuclear explosive device” (as required by the Symington Amendment). Moreover, he recommended invoking the Solarz amendment but not making a decision on “waiving its restrictions” also until January. On Solarz “the facts certainly support such a finding” and leaving the decisions in suspense would act as pressure on Islamabad.

Document 21A-D: U.S. v. Arshad Pervez, Criminal Number 87-00283 “Exhibit List,” circa November 1987

A: Exhibit List

B: Exhibits 24 through 38-37

C. Exhibits 38-38 through 38-85

D: Exhibits 38-86 through 52

Most of the copies of the exhibits provided by the State Department lacked the original exhibit numbers. Nevertheless, to the extent possible the documents reproduced here follow the order of the exhibit list. Some exhibits are unavoidably missing, such as a videotape and $1,000 in 100 dollar bills, but what is available provides a good sense of Pervez’s efforts on behalf of the A. Q. Khan front, Multinational Inc., to purchase the maraging steel. Included is correspondence from Multinational Chief Executive Inam-Ul-Haq to A.P. Enterprises, run by Pervez, and from Carpenter Technology Corporation to A.P. Enterprises with price quotes for the steel.

The exhibits included Pervez’s notebooks with such incriminating language as “atom,” “military,” and “my expert is procurement manager for nuclear plant.” [See Document B at PDF pages 24 and 26]. A letter from Ul-Haq to Pervez [See Document B at PDF page 45] from early 1987 demonstrated that this was more than a business venture: “personal interests must not be allowed to overtake national interests.” Pervez had taken some financial losses and Ul-Haq observed that “in this bargain I have suffered a loss of nearly 15000 $.” The losses, however, could be “made up” by getting an “order for other items.”

Document 22: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman for the President, “Certification on Pakistan,” 21 November 1987, Secret

By the time that Adelman signed this memorandum to President Reagan, Secretary Shultz had recommended that Washington “now certify” that Pakistan “does not possess a nuclear device” (as required by the Pressler amendment). Noting that aid deliveries would not restart until December, Adelman asked Reagan to delay certification as a way to keep “pressure” on the Pakistanis to stop enriching uranium and crack down on illegal procurement. He also called for invoking the Solarz amendment to avoid giving a “business as usual perception.”

Documents 23A-C: Pervez Trial and Verdict

A: Department of State, memorandum from Jonathan Schwartz to Ms. Verville [et al.], “Pervez Trial Status,” 14 December 1987, unclassified

B: Department of State telegram to U.S. Embassy Islamabad, “Pervez Case Verdict,” 17 December 1987, unclassified

C: Department of State, Memorandum from Jonathan Schwartz to Mr. Keczko [et al.], 23 December 1987, unclassified, excised copy

After hearing tape-recorded conversations and seeing Pervez’s diary entries and the Pervez-Carpenter correspondence, on 17 December 1987, the jury found him guilty on 5 out of 8 counts, including conspiracy, attempted export of beryllium without the required license, and submitting false end-use statements about the maraging steel. Inam Ul-Haq was also found guilty of conspiracy and false statements. The three charges relating to bribery did not hold up, possibly because the defense had argued that the government had entrapped Pervez. In any event, according to a State Department report, the jurors found Pervez’s testimony “confused and not credible” and “accepted the theory that [he] was part of a plot to send nuclear materials to Kahuta for an enrichment program aimed at producing nuclear bombs.”

Document 24: President Reagan to Speaker of the House, 17 December 1987, enclosing presidential determination

Source: Digital National Security Archive

Apparently following Shultz’s advice, Reagan informed Congress that he had “concluded that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device.” Not only would that allow military aid to resume, but Reagan argued that such aid provided “the most effective means for dissuading Pakistan from acquiring nuclear explosive devices.” The implication was that working with the Pakistanis on the inside was more effective for the nonproliferation cause than were sanctions.

Document 25: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf for Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “Next Steps on Pakistan-Solarz and Symington,” 21 December 1987, secret

ACDA did not buy Reagan’s argument about preferring to work with Pakistan rather than impose sanctions. With Adelman leaving ACDA, acting director Norman Wulf sent Armacost a proposal for applying nonproliferation standards to Pakistan even if Reagan rejected application of the Solarz amendment and aid continued. Recognizing that the war in Afghanistan was in its end-game, Wulf wanted the administration to prepare for a new relationship with Pakistan. As he put it: “if we do not have meaningful nuclear restraint from Pakistan now we are unlikely to be able to sustain a significant relationship with Pakistan in a post-Afghanistan environment.” In light of the Pervez verdict, Wulf recommended invoking Solarz to “send the right message to potential proliferants and to Zia.” If the Pakistanis could make helpful changes on their procurement policies, e.g., no more attempts to acquire U.S.-origin goods for their nuclear program; then it would be possible to waive Solarz. Simultaneously, Washington could follow up a recent Shultz proposal for nuclear suppliers to tighten up licensing of dual-use exports.

As for Symington, Wulf argued that with resumption of the next aid package it would be a “gross error” not to reestablish the “red lines” on reprocessing, device assembly, testing, and sensitive technology transfers, and enrichment that Reagan had set in 1982 and 1984. To secure compliance with the five percent enrichment limit, Wulf proposed barring certain military aid deliveries, such as AWACS, as an “inducement to cut enrichment.” A dissenting reader wrote “NO” next to this paragraph.

Document 26: Department of State, memorandum from INR Director Morton Abramowitz to Mr. Armacost, “Pakistan-Pervez Case and Solarz Amendment,” 29 December 1987, secret

This fascinating INR memorandum tacitly assumed that the facts of the Pervez case fit a decision to invoke the Solarz amendment: despite some recent actions to “restrict nuclear procurement in the US,” the procurement network “could not exist without the umbrella of government approval, protection, and funding.” Khan Research Laboratories was directly linked to Pervez’s quest for maraging steel, while Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was behind the attempt to acquire beryllium. Zia and Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo “allowed the nuclear procurement network to flourish and the clandestine ethic to become ingrained in their subordinates and agents.” Moreover, both Inam and another network manager, Khan Abbas Khan, “continually” supplied Pervez with “nuclear shopping lists,” making it “difficult to write off the maraging steel and beryllium deals as renegade capers.”[5]

Document 27A-B: Rejecting Solarz Amendment

A: “White House Statement on Continuation of Military Aid to Pakistan,” 15 January 1988

Source: Public Papers of the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1988, Book I (Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1990), 46.

B: “Presidential Determination No. 88-5 of January 15, 1988,” Federal Register, Vol. 83, No. 24, 5 February 1988

Recognizing the facts brought out by the Pervez conviction, in January 1988 the Reagan White House invoked the Solarz amendment but then waived it. The White House used a clause in the amendment that allowed a waiver in the interests of the “common defense and security.” Cutting aid, Reagan argued, would be contrary to U.S. “strategic interests” and “unlikely to achieve the nonproliferation objectives sought by [their] sponsors.”‘ Possibly following advice from ACDA or other sources, the statement tacitly linked the aid program to nonproliferation goals: it made an indirect reference to the five “red lines” by asserting that “there are crucial nonproliferation criteria which Pakistan continues to honor. According to the statement one reason why the White House waived Solarz was that the Pakistanis had pledged to “tighten” procurement procedures in the United States. Moreover, Washington would “continue pressing Pakistan away from a nuclear weapon option” and work to avoid a South Asian arms race. How the Reagan administration followed up on this during 1988 remains to be disclosed.

Document 28A-B: Resolution of Pervez Case

A: Department of State, memorandum from Elizabeth Rindskopf to Mr. Kimmit, “Pakistan Nuclear-New Trial for Pervez,” 13 January 1990, unclassified.

B: Department of State, memorandum from Abraham Sofaer to Mr. Kimmit, “Pakistan Nuclear-Final Resolution of Pervez Case,” 10 April 1990, unclassified

Pervez’s lawyers had mounted an entrapment defense in 1987 and a Supreme Court decision relating to that defense (Matthews vs. United States) case made it possible for Pervez to launch successfully a bid for retrial on all of the counts. After plea bargaining discussions, a trial was avoided when Pervez pleaded nolo contendere to the count of illegal export of beryllium. He was released from prison on 4 April 1990 on the basis of time served. According to the State Department’s chief lawyer, Abraham D. Sofaer this outcome “did not suggest either innocence on the defendant’s part or a lack of evidence supporting the government’s case.”


Notes

[1] A Hong National and two U.S. citizens were indicted for illegal exports to Pakistan of advanced computers and other technology; see Dennis Kux, The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000 (Washington, D.C,, 2001), 285. See also document 13 in this collection.

[2] Adrian Levy & Catherine Scott-Clark, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons (New York, 2007), 168-169.

[3] For background see Kux, The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000, 223, 239, 275-278, and 285-286, and National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 377, “New Documents Spotlight Reagan-era Tensions over Pakistani Nuclear Program,” 27 April 2012.

[4] For the weak prosecution allegation, see Levy and Scott-Clark. Deception, 109-110, 114

[5] The “shopping lists” may have been among the documents seized in Canada, but apparently were not used as trial exhibits.

UK Government Set to Support Monsanto in EU Court

November 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

The UK Government has confirmed that it will support Monsanto in a European court case brought by European civil society groups. In a written Parliamentary Answer today, Earl Howe stated that the Government will intervene in the European Court of Justice to support the biotechnology giant, which wishes to import a GMO soy variety called Intacta into the EU for food and feed uses.

Civil society groups (including ENSSER, Testbiotech, the Foundation on Future Farming, and the German Family Farmers Association) filed a lawsuit in March 2013, claiming that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had recommended approval for the “stacked” GMO variety without carrying out proper risk assessments as required by law.

The variety is a complex one, containing traits for producing its own toxins and also providing resistance the Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. However, in spite of Intacta’s potential for introducing novel proteins and unique toxic effects into the animal and human food supply, EFSA did not insist on any safety or animal feeding studies prior to approval, so its real health effects are completely unknown.

Ecological organizations are also deeply concerned about the new GMO soy, because of its potential for inflicting considerable damage in sensitive ecosystems.

Speaking on behalf of GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said:

“This decision marks the end of the UK Government’s neutral stance on GMOs, which has been maintained for more than 20 years by previous governments. We know that Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has been conducting a one-man campaign of disinformation on GMOs for many months now, flagging up the Government’s support for the biotechnology industry and its complete disregard for the Precautionary Principle. But this is the first time it has got into bed with Monsanto, and has signaled its intent to side with the least-trusted corporation on the planet in a court case brought by citizens’ groups. It is the only member state to have done this — all of the others have decided to keep their distance, for obvious reasons.

“So the Government is going to waste taxpayers money to participate in a court case in support of a hated industrial giant, arguing for the import of a GMO variety that nobody wants and nobody needs. There is great public antipathy towards GMOs in this country, and the Government knows it. We are sure it is also acting against the interests of the devolved administrations of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, all of whom have a much more measured and cautious approach to GMO matters. Finally, and perhaps most outrageously of all, Earl Howe pretends in his Parliamentary Answer that the Government has “a strong interest in the science-based system” when its real objective is to break down the system of science-based GMO assessments and to open the floodgates to untested and dangerous GMO products from the United States in particular.”

Since 2006, the US dollar has experienced a one-quarter to one-third drop in value to the Chinese yuan, depending on the choice of base.

Now China is going to let the dollar decline further in value.  China also says it is considering undermining the petrodollar by pricing oil futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange in yuan. This on top of the growing avoidance of the dollar to settle trade imbalances means that the dollar’s role as reserve currency is coming to an end, which means the termination of the US as financial bully and financial imperialist.  This blow to the dollar in addition to the blows delivered by jobs offshoring and the uncovered bets in the gambling casino created by financial deregulation means that the US economy as we knew it is no more.

The US economy is already in shambles, with bond and stock markets propped up by massive and historically unprecedented Fed money printing pouring liquidity into financial asset prices.  This month at the IMF annual conference, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said that to achieve full employment in the US economy would require negative real interest rates.  Negative real interest rates could only be achieved by eliminating cash, moving to digital money that can only be kept in banks, and penalizing people for saving.

The future is developing precisely as I have been predicting. As the dollar enters its death throes, the lawless Federal Reserve and the Wall Street criminals will increase their shorting of gold in the paper futures market, thereby driving the remnants of the West’s gold into Asian hands:

The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.

“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. (PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves, Bloomberg News – Nov 20, 2013)

(originally published, 1996, in Parenti’s book, Dirty Truths, lightly edited 2013)

Today in the much vaunted western democracies there exists a great deal of unaccountable state power whose primary function is to maintain the existing politico-economic structure, using surveillance, infiltration, sabotage, judicial harassment, disinformation, trumped-up charges and false arrests, tax harassment, blackmail, and even violence and assassination to make the world safe for those who own it.

“Buffs” and Cover-Ups

There exists a state within the state, known as the national security state, a component of misgovernment centering around top officers in the CIA, DIA, FBI, NSA, the Pentagon, and policymakers in the Executive Office of the White House. These elements have proven themselves capable of perpetrating terrible crimes against dissidents at home and abroad. National security state agencies like the CIA, in the service of dominant economic interests, have enlisted the efforts of mobsters, drug traffickers, assassins, and torturers, systematically targeting peasant leaders, intellectuals, journalists, student leaders, clergy, labor union leaders, workers, and community activists in numerous countries. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered to prevent social change, to destroy any government or social movement that manifests an unwillingness to reduce its people to economic fodder for the giant corporations that rule the world’s economy. [1]

Occasionally an incident occurs that reveals in an unusually vivid manner the gangster nature of the state. The assassination of President John Kennedy in November 1963 is such an occasion. The dirty truth is that Kennedy was heartily hated by right-wing forces in this country, including many powerful people in the intelligence organizations. He had betrayed the national interest as they defined it, by refusing to go all out against Cuba, making overtures of rapprochement with Castro, and refusing to escalate the ground war in Vietnam. They also saw him as an anti-business liberal who was taking the country down the wrong path. Whether Kennedy really was all that liberal is another matter. I don’t believe he was. But what the national security rightists saw him to be was what counted.

To know the truth about the assassination of John Kennedy is to call into question the state security system and the entire politico-economic order it protects. This is why for [fifty] years the corporate-owned press and numerous political leaders have suppressed or attacked the many revelations about the murder unearthed by independent investigators like Mark Lane, Carl Oglesby, Harold Weisberg, Anthony Summers, Philip Melanson, Jim Garrison, Cyril Wecht, Jim Marrs, Gaeton Fonzi, James DiEugenio, Peter Dale Scott, Sylvia Meagher, Michael Canfield, Gary Aguilar,  and still many others more recently.

These investigators have been described as “assassination buffs.”  The term “buff” is a diminishing characterization, describing someone who pursues odd hobbies. For the same reason that we would not refer to “Holocaust buffs,” so should we not refer to these serious investigators as “assassination buffs.” Their efforts reveal a    conspiracy to assassinate the president and an even more extensive conspiracy to hide the crime.

Sociologist David Simone compiled a study of the books published on the Kennedy assassination, some 600 titles, and found that 20 percent of them blamed either a lone assassin or the mafia or the Cubans or Russians. The other 80 percent ascribed the assassination to a conspiracy linked to U.S. intelligence agencies, some of these also saying that mobsters were involved at the operational level. Ignoring this 80 percent of the literature, publications like the New York Times and Washington Post have listed the various theories about the JFK assassination as follows: (a) lone assassin, (b) mafia, (c) Cubans/Soviets, and (d) the “Oliver Stone movie theory.” In other words, they ignore the existence of a vast literature from which the [Oliver Stone movie, JFK]  is derived and ascribe the critical theme presented within the film solely to the imagination of a film maker. The mainstream press would have us believe that the notion of a state-sponsored assassination conspiracy and cover-up came out of a movie–when actually the movie was based on a rich and revealing investigative literature.

Like the Warren Commission itself, the press assumed a priori that Oswald was the killer. The only question it asked was: Did Oswald act alone?  The answer was a loudly orchestrated YES.  Meanwhile, almost every in-depth investigator had a different conclusion:  Oswald did not act at all. He was not one of the people who shot Kennedy, although he was involved in another way, as a fall guy, in his own words “just a patsy.”

The U.S. mainstream media have been tireless in their efforts to suppress the truth about the gangster state. In 1978, when a House Select Committee concluded that there was more than one assassin involved in the Kennedy shooting, the Washington Post  (1/6/79) editorialized:

“Could it have been some other malcontent who Mr. Oswald met casually? Could not as much as three or four societal outcasts with no ties to any one organization have developed in some spontaneous way a common determination to express their alienation in the killing of President Kennedy?  It is possible that two persons acting independently attempted to shoot the President at the very same time.”

It is “possible,” but also most unlikely and barely imaginable. Instead of a conspiracy theory the Post creates a one-in-a-billion  ”coincidence theory” that is the most fanciful of all explanations.

Ignored Evidence, Unanswered Questions

David Garrow, author of a biography of Martin Luther King, condescendingly says: “A large majority of the American people do believe in assassination conspiracies.  That allows events to have large mysterious causes instead of small idiosyncratic ones.”  Contrary to Garrow, the question of whether a conspiracy exists in any particular situation has to be decided by an investigation of evidence, not by patronizing presumptions about the public mind.  Investigators who concluded there were conspiracies in the Kennedy and King murders did not fashion “large mysterious causes” but came to their conclusions through painstaking probes of troubling discrepancies, obvious lies, and blatant cover-ups. They have been impelled not by the need to fashion elaborate theories but by the search for particular explanations about some simple and compelling truths.

Many people talk about finding the “smoking gun” behind this or that mystery, the one evidentiary item that dramatically resolves the case and puts to rest all further questions. Unlike fictional mysteries, in real life there usually is no smoking gun. Historians work by a process of accretion, putting piece by piece together until a picture emerges. In the Kennedy murder the pieces make an imposing picture indeed, leaving one with the feeling that while there may not be a smoking gun there is a whole fusillade of impossibilities regarding the flight of bullets, the nature of the wounds, the ignored testimony of eye witnesses, the sudden and mysterious deaths of witnesses, the disappearance and deliberate destruction of evidence, and the repeated acts of official cover-up that continue to this day regarding the release of documents.

Let us focus on just a small part of the immense brief that has been assembled by investigators. Consider the background of Lee Harvey Oswald. Over the decades to this very day, mainstream commentators have been telling us that Oswald was an incompetent “loner” and not very bright. Gerald Posner, transforming himself into an instant psychiatric expert, announced that Oswald “had a very disturbed childhood, and he was a passive-aggressive.”  A passive-aggressive assassin? He was also repeatedly labeled a “loner” and a “leftist.” The truth is something else.

Lee Harvey Oswald spent most of his adult life not as a lone drifter but directly linked to the U.S. intelligence community.  All of his IQ tests show that he was above average in intelligence and a quick learner. At the age of eighteen in the U.S. Marines he had secret security clearance and was working at Marine Air Control in Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan, a top secret location from which the CIA launched U2 flights and performed other kinds of covert operations in China. The next year he was assigned to El Toro Air Station in California with security clearance to work radar.

Strange things began to happen. While at El Toro, Oswald emerged as a babbling Russophile and a “communist.”  He started playing Russian language records at blast level in his barracks and addressing his fellow Marines in Russian, calling them “comrade.”  He read Russian books and hailed Soviet Communism as “the best system in the world.” If Oswald was a Soviet or a Cuban spy, as some people now claim, he certainly had a novel way of building a cover.

Philip Melanson, author of Spy Saga, a book about Oswald’s links to intelligence, reminds us that the U.S. Marine Corps in 1958 was not exactly a bastion of liberal tolerance and freethinking. But in this instance, for some strange reason, Oswald’s Marine commanders did not seem to mind having a ranting commie sympathizer in their midst. In fact, he kept his security clearance and retained access to a wealth of sensitive radar information and classified data from secret facilities!

Other odd things happened. In February 1959, Oswald failed the Marine Corps proficiency test in Russian. Six months later he had developed some fluency in that language. In 1974, a document classified by the Warren Commission–and dislodged mostly by Harold Weisberg’s legal efforts–revealed that Oswald had attended the U.S. Army’s School of Languages at Monterey.  Monterey is not open to anyone who just happens to have a language hobby. One is sent by the government, for training in a specific language pertaining to a specific assignment. Oswald learned Russian at Monterey.

Another curious thing: Oswald applied for an early dependency discharge from the Marines because his mother had injured her foot–the accident had occurred a year earlier. He was released one week after putting in his request, a decision so swift as to astonish his fellow Marines.

Luxury Defection

Oswald then “defected” to the USSR, but how? Melanson notes that such a trip would have cost at least $1,500 in those days, but Oswald’s bank account showed a balance of $203. And how did he get from London to Helsinki on October 11, 1959, when no available commercial flight could have made it in one day? He must have had some kind of private transportation to Helsinki.

Once in Russia, he went to the U.S. embassy and openly renounced his U.S. citizenship, declaring that he was going to give military secrets to the Soviets. Embassy officials made no effort to detain him. As the KGB files opened in 1991 show, the Soviets kept him under constant surveillance. KGB defector Yuri Nosenko, who had been responsible for investigating every contact Oswald made in the USSR, reported that the young American had never been associated with Soviet intelligence and that the KGB suspected he was connected with U.S. intelligence.

While in Russia Oswald belonged to a gun club at the factory in which he worked, though he showed no interest in guns. He reportedly used to join in rabbit shoots but could never score a hit. Someone would have to stand behind him and shoot the rabbit while he was firing. His performance became something of a joke among his co-workers.  His marksmanship in the U.S. Marines had been no better.

U.S. intelligence mysteriously departed from normal procedure and made no damage assessment of Oswald’s “defection,” or so they claimed. Another odd thing: after two-and-a-half years, Oswald’s sudden request to return to the United States was immediately granted by U.S. officials–all this after he had threatened to give away state secrets to the Soviets. Instead of being arrested for treason, Oswald was accepted with open arms by U.S. authorities.

The CIA claimed it had no record of debriefing him and was never near him.  Their explanation before the Warren Commission was that there were so many tourists coming in and out and there was nothing particularly unusual about Oswald that would have caught their attention. One might wonder what was needed to catch the CIA’s attention.

Yet, CIA officials claimed they had suspected all along that he was a Soviet spy–which makes it even more curious that they did not debrief him. In fact, they did debrief him in Holland. But being so eager to cover up any association with Oswald, they could not recognize how in this instance the truth would have been a less suspicious cover than the improbable lie they told about never noticing his return.

State Department officials also behaved strangely. They paid all travel and moving expenses back to the United States for Oswald and his wife. Without a moment’s delay they gave him back his passport with full rights to travel anywhere in the world. Another curious thing: his wife was exempted from the usual immigration quotas and granted immediate entry. Years before she had belonged to the Soviet Komsomol, the Communist youth organization, which automatically would have barred her from the United States. Yet in violation of U.S. immigration laws, she was allowed into the country with Oswald.

The FBI/CIA “Leftist”

In Dallas, Lee Harvey Oswald settled under the wing of White Russian emigre’ and former cavalry officer George de Mohrenschildt, an aristocratic reactionary and an associate of oil millionaires H. L. Hunt and Clint Murchinson and other Dallas economic elites. In de Mohrenschildt’s telephone book was found the name of George “Pappy” Bush.  A correspondence existed between Bush Sr. and de Mohrenschildt indicating that they were personal acquaintances.

De Mohrenschildt and his wife Jeanne were identified by the Warren Commission as the people closest to Oswald just before the assassination. An investigator for the House Select Committee, Gaeton Fonzi, noted, “Given his background, it seemed strange that de Mohrenschildt would have spontaneously befriended someone with the look of a working-class drifter like Lee Harvey Oswald.” That was not the only strange thing about de Mohrenschildt. He also was part of a network of ex-Nazis contracted by the CIA.

A CIA memorandum written not long after Oswald returned from Russia advised de Mohrenschildt on how to handle the young “defector.” De Mohrenschildt also had a close friendship with J. Walter Moore, who was an agent of the CIA’s Domestic Contacts Division. As de Mohrenschildt told one investigator just before his sudden death, it was Moore who encouraged him to see Oswald. Investigator Jim Marrs observes in his book Crossfire: “The CIA memos, Moore’s closeness, and de Mohrenschildt’s own testimony all confirm that a certain relationship existed between the CIA and the man closest to Oswald in early 1963. While this does not necessarily involve the Agency in a plot to kill Kennedy, it raises questions about what Agency officials might have known regarding such a plot.”

Oswald embarked on a series of short-lived public forays as a “leftist.” He started a one-person Fair Play for Cuba chapter in New Orleans, without ever bothering to recruit another member. He never met with a single member of the Communist Party or any other left organization, although he wrote friendly letters to the Communist Party and to the Socialist Workers Party (two groups that were not even talking to each other) supposedly asking for instructions. Again, all this was a puzzling way for a Soviet agent and would-be assassin to act.

He blazed a highly visible trail as a “leftist” agitator: managing to get exposure on local T.V. in New Orleans after getting involved in some fistfights while leafleting. One of the leaflets he distributed showed that his organization was on Camp Street in the very same building that a former FBI bureau chief, Guy Banister, had his office. Banister retained close working relations with émigré’ Cuban right-wing groups and with Lee Harvey Oswald.

When he wasn’t playing the communist agitator, Oswald spent most of his time with rabid anti-communists, including émigré Cubans and CIA operatives. Besides Banister and de Mohrenschildt, there was David Ferrie. (In his book First Hand Knowledge, Robert Morrow, a conservative businessman and CIA operative, tells how he served as a pilot on CIA missions with Ferrie.)  Oswald also knew businessman Clay Shaw who was CIA, as later confirmed by the agency’s director Richard Helms. These were hardly the sort of friends we would expect for a loudmouthed “Marxist revolutionary” just returned from giving away  classified secrets in the USSR.

The attorney general of Texas, Waggoner Carr, told the Warren Commission that Oswald was an FBI informant or contract agent, with assigned number S-172 or S-179. For his services, Oswald was paid two hundred dollars a month by the FBI.[2]  Orest Pena, a Cuban émigré and FBI informant, told Mark Lane that Oswald worked for the FBI and met with FBI personnel from time to time.

If not paid by security agencies, how did Oswald support himself during his forays into New Orleans and Dallas? He was employed for a brief time in 1962 by a printing company in Dallas that specialized in highly classified government work, including the making of secret maps of the Soviet Union for U.S. Army Intelligence–again hardly the sort of job to assign an openly pro-Soviet communist agitator. Oswald’s overall employment record and income sources remain something of a mystery. To this day, the U.S. government refuses to release his tax returns, with no explanation as to what issue of national security is at stake.

The Impossible “Assassin”

We are asked to believe that Oswald just happened to get a job at the Texas School Book Depository five weeks before the assassination, when it had not yet been publicized that Kennedy’s limousine was going to pass in front of that building. In fact, George de Morenschildt got him the job.

We are asked to believe that Oswald, who could not hit the side of a barn, chose a Mannlicher-Carcano to kill the president, a cheap, poor performance Italian rifle that the Italians jokingly said never killed anyone on purpose and caused them to lose World War II.

We are asked to believe that Oswald would forgo shooting President Kennedy when he had a perfect target of him as he rode right down Houston Street directly toward the Texas School Book Depository. Instead he supposedly    waited until the car had turned down Elm Street and was a half-block away. With the President’s head and shoulders barely visible through a tree, Oswald supposedly fired rapidly, getting off three shots in record time, one missing the limousine by twenty-five feet and the other two hitting their target with devastating accuracy and record rapid succession, a feat the best marksmen in the country found impossible to emulate even after much practice and after the sights on the Mannlicher-Carcano were properly reset in a laboratory. [3]

We are asked to believe that Oswald then left his rifle at the window, complete with a perfect palm print and, they now say, his fingerprints (but no fingerprints on the clip or handloaded cartridges), along with three spent shells placed on the floor neatly in a row, in a manner no spent shells would fall.

We are asked to believe that a bullet would go through John Kennedy, pause in mid-air, change direction, and wound Governor Connally in several places–something Connally never believed–and reappear perfectly intact wedged into the flap of a stretcher in Parkland Hospital, supposedly having fallen out of Connally’s body but obviously pushed into the flap by hand. (It became known as the “magic bullet” among skeptics.)

We are asked to believe that only three shots were fired when in fact six bullets were noted: one that entered the president’s throat and remained in his body; the second extracted from Governor Connally’s thigh; a third discovered on the stretcher; a fourth found in fragments in the limousine; a fifth that missed the president’s car by a wide margin, hitting the curb according to several witnesses, and wounding onlooker James Thomas Tague on his face; a sixth found in the grass by Dallas police directly across from where the president’s vehicle had passed.

The Secret Service took possession of the presidential limousine, ignored reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (12/1/63) that there was a bullet hole in the windshield, and rejected all requests to inspect the vehicle. The inside of the limousine, a trove of physical evidence, was then quickly torn out and rebuilt, supposedly with no thought of covering up anything.

We are asked to believe that Kennedy’s autopsy was innocently botched and his brain just accidentally disappeared. The X-ray purporting to be Kennedy’s head now shows a rear entry wound, different from the rear exit wound all the pathologists saw. Someone cropped the jaw out of the picture, so there is no opportunity to determine by dental identification if the X-ray really is the president’s.

We are asked by people like Max Holland, writing in the Nation, to believe that the “infamous picture of Oswald posing with rifle in hand” is not a forgery. Actually there are two pictures, both proven composites, with bodies of different sizes but with the identical head that matches neither body, and with shadows going in incongruous directions. Who fabricated these well publicized photos?

Rubbing Out the Witnesses

The supposedly “lone leftist assassin,” Lee Harvey Oswald, was a friend of Jack Ruby, a gangster with links to Cuban exiles and the FBI. Ruby once worked for Congressman Richard Nixon and the House Un-American Activities Committee in Chicago when his name was still Jack Rubenstein. He also worked for the FBI in Dallas during the years before the JFK assassination. Ruby claimed he was just an ordinary private citizen, moved to kill Oswald in order to avenge the suffering Oswald had inflicted upon the Kennedy family. [4]

While in prison Ruby pleaded with the Warren Commission to be taken to Washington where he could tell the whole story. He feared for his life and claimed “they are killing me here.”  Indeed, he died in jail, supposedly of natural causes.

We are asked to believe that when twenty-four persons who had information related to the case met violent deaths, this was a colossal coincidence. [5]

In 1978, after the House Select Committee investigation got underway, Anthony Summers records that another sixteen connected to the case died violently. This too supposedly was just a coincidence. This latter group included George de Mohrenschildt, killed by a gun blast to the head three hours after a House Assassinations Committee Investigator had tried to contact him. De Mohrenschildt had been worried that he would be murdered. His daughter Kressy Keardon believes it “impossible” that he shot himself. The sheriff’s office in Palm County, Florida, found the shooting “very strange.” But it was ruled a suicide. Generally, people who voice fears that they might be killed do not then kill themselves.

William Sullivan, number three man in the FBI, was secretly on the CIA payroll, according to CIA operative Robert Morrow. He was scheduled to appear before the House Select Committee but before he could do so, he was shot outside his home by a man who claimed to have mistaken him for a deer. The killer was charged with a misdemeanor and released in custody of his father, a state policeman.

While under government protection, mobster Sam Giancana was shot dead a day before he was to testify before the House Select Committee about mob and CIA connections. One of the things that emerges from this whole story is the widespread linkages between the CIA and organized crime, between the gangsters and the gangster state.

When the House committee was putting its staff together, it was heavily pressured to employ only persons acceptable to the CIA, the very agency it was supposed to investigate. In his book Plausible Denial, Mark Lane reports that when Bernard Fensterwald, an independent minded Washington lawyer, was offered the job of general counsel, a CIA representative called on him and said that the Agency would hand him “his head on a platter” if he took the assignment. Fensterwald turned it down.

Is the Kennedy assassination conspiracy just a lot of hoopla kicked up by “conspiracy buffs”? Most of the independent investigators I have met seem to be serious politically literate people. Their struggle to arrive at the truth is not impelled by a love of conspiracies but by a concern for the political and historic importance of the case. They seek the truth no matter how dirty it might be. That process of confronting the machinations of the national security state is not a conspiracy hobby. It is an essential part of the struggle for democracy.

Let me end with a summary quotation by John Judge, which he was kind enough to send me by Gmail:

“85% of the American public reject the findings of the Warren Commission report, as did the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978, finding instead a “probable conspiracy” in the murders of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. No federal investigation or action followed. We are the mainstream, not the dissent. Oswald’s role as a patsy, not a shooter, is supported by all the best evidence that has been released. The real evidence clearly points to a crime and a cover-up that reaches to the highest levels of the U.S. government and military.”

Notes

1   Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, a military intelligence chief closely connected with the CIA, tells of his visit to “a special ‘village’ in the Mediterranean where a highly select group of stateless ‘mechanics’ in the CIA are hit-men, assassins, and other related specialists. They are absolutely anonymous”; see his introduction to Mark Lane’s Plausible Denial (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1991). For a further discussion on U.S. repression abroad, see “Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy,” p.       ; also my two books Against Empire (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1995); and The Sword and the Dollar (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989).

2  The Warren Commission reacted with extreme alarm toward Carr’s testimony. Its general counsel, J. Lee Rankin said that evidence linking Oswald to the FBI “is very damaging to the agencies that are involved in it, and it must be wiped out insofar as it is possible to do so by this commission.” The “wipe out” consisted of a statement from Hoover reassuring the commission that Oswald never worked for the FBI. In the New York Times edition of the Warren Commission report, Waggoner Carr’s testimony is nowhere to be found.

3  In his political memoirs, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil writes that Kenneth O’Donnell, a top JFK aide, said he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence on the grassy knoll. “I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn’t have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to.” O’Neil reports that another top Kennedy aide, Dave Powers, who was present when O’Donnell made this statement, said he had the same recollection of the shots.

4  At a Washington, D.C. conference in October 1995, assassination investigator John M. Williams reported on an interview he had with Robert Morrow, March 10, 1994. Morrow said that on the day after JFK’s assassination, Marshall Diggs, the man who recruited Morrow as a CIA operative, confided to him a warning of Oswald’s impending assassination: “He won’t be around to testify for his trial.”

5 See Penn Jones, Jr., Pardon My Grief vols. 1 and 2 for details about the death of these twenty-four.

Following AP reporter Dale Gavlak’s attempt to disassociate from the Mint Press News report: “Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack”  (see previous article for background here) Mint Press Editor in Chief Mnar Muhawesh published a statement in response reiterating her support for, and the credentials of, the two journalists involved, along with the substance of the report they had produced. The report in question included statements from residents and relatives of rebel fighters in Eastern Ghouta, who alleged that Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, had supplied extremist elements in the  region with chemical weapons.

The Muhawesh statement went largely unnoticed in mainstream media, instead, the usual actors produced a variety of baseless lurid smears and conspiracy theories directed at Mint Press and Yahya Ababneh, the reporter on the ground in Ghouta, in transparent efforts to discredit them and the substance of the report.

One particularly vulgar conspiracy crafted by the BuzzFeed “journalist” Rosie Gray – reminiscent of crass attempts to play on orientalist stereotypes of “Iranian deception” abundant in civilised US media and diplomacy-speak – attempted to portray the Mint Press as bias fabricators, on the grounds of the Editors father-in-law being a Shi’a Muslim. In effect casting him and Mint Press as Iranian stooges intent on subverting the western-promoted falsehood that the Assad government ordered the alleged chemical attacks.

In recent weeks, corporate media has largely gone quiet on the whole affair. With the Russian-brokered deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles thwarting a determined effort by US hawks,  Likudniks, and Gulf monarchs to escalate the Syrian war; the push for overt US intervention has subsided, and along with it the incessant parroting of fantasy narratives and dubious “evidence” attempting to blame the Assad government for the alleged chemical attacks on August 21st.

Muhawesh, fearing for the safety of Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, has remained silent on the issue since the release of the aforementioned communication, but has now released a full statement outlining a timeline of events surrounding the report, which is reprinted in its entirety below, I urge all to read in full:

Dear readers,

I wanted to personally express my appreciation for your continued support and readership following our newsroom’s August 29, 2013 exclusive report titled: “Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.”

I’ve been silent until today out of concern for the safety of the journalists, Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, while we worked to bring clarity to their findings and ensuing events.  I’m relieved to now be able to share happenings of the past 60 days as Human Rights Watch addresses ongoing threats to co-author Yahya by Jordanian and Saudi actors in Amman, Jordan.

To be clear, my MintPress colleagues and I continue to stand by Dale and Yahya and their reporting. The tragic incident in Ghouta on August 21—and the Syria conflict as a whole—is complex and, as the article stated, some information could not be independently verified.  While efforts to discredit the story and our organization have disappointed us, we have been most concerned by the tremendous pressure placed on Dale by the Associated Press and more serious threats faced by Yahya.

Since the article was published, I’ve been in almost daily contact with co-author Yahya in Amman, Jordan.  He has related ongoing threats of imprisonment by the Jordanian police for his travel to Syria if he were to continue to report on this story or grant further press interviews.  Yahya has also described increasing pressure from Saudi actors to retract his story and the specific allegation by Ghouta residents of a rebel link to Prince Bandar.

In line with Dale’s description of Yahya as “a reputable journalist” to the New York Times, she distanced herself from the article only after stating in emails to MintPress that the Associated Press demanded her name be removed from the byline nearly two days after the article published.  She has not informed MintPress of the AP’s reason for this request—nor why they and National Public Radio (NPR), subsequently, suspended her.  For background on the situation, here is the timeline of events:


  • Feb 8: Freelance journalist Dale Gavlak—an Associated Press stringer for nearly a decade—joins MintPress News (MPN) as Middle East Correspondent and files her first of 26 weekly articles on regional news and politics.
  • Aug 28: Dale pitches the Ghouta story to her MPN editors.  She then conducts research, fact checks with colleagues and Jordanian government officials and writes up article based on interviews her reporter colleague, Yahya Ababneh, conducted a few days prior while on a delegation to Ghouta, Syria.  Dale files the story to MPN.
  • Aug 29: Dale emails with readers about the report after it is published at MintPressNews.com with the byline note: “This is a collaborative report by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh.”
  • Aug 30: Dale notifies MPN by email that editors at the Associated Press are demanding her name be removed from the article byline by end of day.
  • Aug 31: MPN cites editorial transparency for not removing Dale from byline and, instead, adds clarification of her exact role that now appears at top of article.
  • Sept 1: MPN receives letter from Dale’s attorney demanding it remove her name from byline completely.
  • Sept 3: Dale accepts payment from MPN for her role in the article.
  • Sept 12: Yahya informs MPN via Skype of first visit by Saudi actors.
  • Sept 13: Through legal counsel, MPN offers to remove Dale and Yahya’s names both completely from the byline and replace with the statement: “MintPress, in order to protect the authors of this story from any retribution or outside pressure, has removed the authors’ names from this story.  MintPress believes in the journalistic efforts produced by all of the parties involved in this story but does not want to see any harm come to any of the parties.”
  • Sept 20: Dale claims MPN “incorrectly used my byline” in a statement to bloggerBrown Moses.
  • Sept 21: Dale shares Aug 29 email to MPN on NY Times “Lede Blog”: “Pls find the Syria story I mentioned uploaded on Google Docs. This should go under Yahya Ababneh’s byline. I helped him write up this story but he should get all the credit for this.”  MPN’s Mnar Muhawesh makes her only public statement on the situation.
  • Sept 26: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cites allegations in MPN report as evidence in talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and in press interviews at the UN General Assembly.
  • Oct 7: Yahya notifies MPN that the United Nations commissioned him to present his witnesses for the UN Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013.
  • Oct 14: Yahya informs MPN via email of visit by Jordanian police: “i am ok, and they find two Saudi arabia one of them his name [REDACTED], he is a Salafi, I know him before, he try to find me and give me to KSA police in Saudi, they know an old police man (he retired) they still fellow, they ask me to make a statement which say opisit of the report about Bender”.
  • Oct 28: Yahya describes conversation with Saudi actors in email to MPN: “any way, they ask me to go to Saudi and say sorry, and talk to Saud TV live to tell them that i was under pressure when i was in Syria. they (my tribe) have a pressure too in Suad, they ask them in the borders and airport about me.”

We deeply sympathize with Dale and Yahya as they continue to endure pressures from interests seeking to silence their reporting.  Their courage, and that of many reporters before them, has emboldened MintPress to expose these threats to investigative journalism and has served to strengthen our commitment to in-depth reporting on social justice and human rights issues.

As an independent journalism startup that found itself embroiled in an international crisis, we’re grateful for the advice and assistance provided by experts at The Poynter Institute and Knight Foundation as well as International Federation of Journalists and Human Rights Watch.

Again, I appreciate your support and truly value your readership.  I welcome any questions about the report, ensuing events and our ongoing coverage of the Syrian conflict.

Best regards,

Mnar A. Muhawesh.

Editor in Chief, MintPress News.

It becomes immediately clear from the above statement that the fantastical conspiracies posited by BuzzFeeds’ Rosie Gray and former Guardian Editor Brian Whitaker, to name but two, were clearly based on nothing more than wild speculation in a vain and somewhat organised attempt to discredit the report; it is no coincidence Gavlaks’ disassociation statement was initially handed to Brian Whitakers eager protegé “Brown Moses”, aka Eliot Higgins, to promote right alongside his lead effort in touting dubious “evidence” pointing the finger at the Syrian army as responsible for Ghouta, much of which has now been thoroughly debunked.

The immediate questions then remain: why so much effort from establishment media players to discredit and smear? Why are elements of Jordanian and Saudi security services threatening Yahya Ababneh and his family, and attempting to force him to retract the statements he gathered in Ghouta if they are merely falsehood, or baseless planted rumour? And why did the AP and NPR suspend Gavlak even though she made (futile) attempts to disassociate from the report to save her career and her colleagues safety?

The logical answer is that those reflected negatively in Yahya Ababneh and Dale Gavlaks’ Ghouta report have something to hide, and are going to great lengths to keep it hidden.

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

Fifty years ago today, on November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated as his motorcade made its way through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Unlike so many other clichéd phrases about American history, it is actually true that virtually no one who was old enough to be politically conscious would ever forget where they were when the news of the “three shots fired at the president’s motorcade in Dallas” flashed across the United States and around the world. Even after a half-century, the traumatic events of that Friday afternoon and the days that followed remain vivid in the consciousness of countless millions of people.

The first question that arises on this anniversary is why the death of John F. Kennedy retains such a hold on the consciousness of the American people even after the passage of a half-century. He was not the first, but the fourth American president to be assassinated. Of course, the murder of Abraham Lincoln in April 1865 lives in the national consciousness, nearly 150 years after the event, as one of the most tragic and traumatic events in American history. But that is not hard to understand. Lincoln was, after all, America’s greatest president—a rightfully beloved figure in world history who led the United States in a Civil War that put an end to slavery. Lincoln’s place in the country’s history is unique, and his assassination is an essential moment in the American experience.

The next two presidents to die at the hand of an assassin—James Garfield in 1881 and William McKinley in 1901—were mourned in their time and soon forgotten. Why, then, has the murder of Kennedy not faded from the national consciousness? One obvious reason is that Kennedy’s death occurred in the age of television. The killing itself was captured on film, the murder of his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was broadcast live on national TV, and the president’s funeral was watched by virtually the entire country. The recorded images impart to the events of November 1963 an immediacy that seems almost timeless.

However, there are more significant reasons for the enduring political resonance of Kennedy’s death. The most obvious is that the overwhelming majority of the American people have never accepted the official version of the assassination presented in the Warren Report: that the president’s murder was the act of a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was not part of a broader political conspiracy.

Despite all the efforts of the media to discredit the critics of the Warren Report as “conspiracy theorists,” the American people have rendered their verdict on the subject. The Warren Report has been seen, almost from the day of its publication in 1964, as a political cover-up. And that it certainly was. The report was commissioned by President Lyndon Johnson—who told his political confidants he believed Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy—to reassure a rightfully suspicious public.

The composition of the Warren Commission precluded any serious investigation into the assassination. Its members included such high level guardians of state secrets as former CIA director Allen Dulles (who had been fired by Kennedy in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs fiasco) and John J. McCloy, an old friend of Dulles, who was among the most influential and powerful of the “Wise Men” who directed American foreign policy following the Second World War. McCloy played a critical role in persuading Warren Commission members who doubted the single gunman theory to keep their dissenting opinions to themselves and go along with a unanimous finding that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in the killing of the president.

One of the commission members, Congressman Hale Boggs, who was to become the House majority leader, subsequently acknowledged that he had doubts about the infamous “single bullet” theory (which asserted that the same bullet passed through both Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally). Boggs was killed in October 1972 when his private plane apparently crashed in Alaska. Neither his body nor the plane was ever recovered.

The defenders of the Warren Commission have for decades used the term “conspiracy theory” as an epithet to discredit all evidence and arguments that suggest a political cause for the murder of an American president. Rather, the assassination had to be seen as a senseless and meaningless event, unrelated and unconnected to the condition of American society and politics. Under no circumstances could the assassination of the president be seen as the bloody outcome of conflict and crisis within the government, of something very sinister and rotten in the American state. That was the purpose of the official cover-up.

The United States is a country with many dark secrets. It may be the case that the American people will never know who killed Kennedy. But the deeper causes of his death can be explained. The assassination of Kennedy suddenly, in one terrible moment, confronted Americans with the unforeseen and explosive consequences of the interaction between the United States’ malignant internal social contradictions and its reactionary and sinister post-World War II role as the world’s leading imperialist power.

John F. Kennedy entered the White House in January 1961. Only 16 years had passed since the end of World War II. In August 1945, the Truman administration, anticipating the coming struggle with the Soviet Union, made the cold-blooded decision to drop atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to demonstrate the United States’ omnipotence and ruthlessness. The atom bomb was an instrument of political rather than military necessity.

As the American historian Gabriel Jackson later wrote: “In the specific circumstances of August 1945, the use of the atom bomb showed that a psychologically very normal and democratically elected chief executive could use the weapon just as the Nazi dictator would have used it. In this way, the United States—for anyone concerned with moral distinctions in the conduct of different types of government—blurred the difference between fascism and democracy.” [Civilization and Barbarity in 20th-Century Europe (New York: Humanity Books, 1999), pp. 176-77]

The United States emerged from the war as the dominant capitalist power in the world. Britain had been bankrupted by the war, and its long and humiliating retreat from its earlier imperialist glory was well underway and unstoppable. The attempt by the French bourgeoisie to hang on to its empire was heading toward disaster—first in Vietnam and, somewhat later, in Algeria. The American ruling class believed that its time had come. It believed that the combination of apparently limitless industrial power, the hegemonic role of the dollar in the new international monetary system, and sole possession of the atom bomb would guarantee its domination of the world for decades to come. In a burst of hubris, it even renamed the 1900s after itself—calling it the “American Century.”

But by the time Kennedy was inaugurated, the course of post-war history had undermined both the illusions and self-confidence of the American ruling elite. The tide of popular anti-imperialist revolution had steadily grown over the previous 15 years. The Chinese Revolution had swept the pro-imperialist regime of Chiang Kai-shek from power. The dreams harbored by General MacArthur and other lunatics in the Pentagon and sections of the political establishment that the United States could achieve a military “rollback” of the Chinese government and even the Soviet government were shattered in the catastrophe of the Korean War. But the shift from “rollback” to “containment” did not alter the basic counterrevolutionary drive of American imperialism.

In place of a head-on military confrontation with the USSR and China, the anti-communist “containment” strategy involved the United States in an endless sequence of repressive anti-democratic and counterinsurgency operations aimed at propping up hated pro-American puppet regimes. Any foreign government in the world that was identified by the United States as harboring anti-imperialist, let alone socialistic, sympathies became eligible for destabilization and its leaders became targets for assassination.

Established by the Truman administration in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency came into its own under Eisenhower in the 1950s. This was the decade of US-sponsored coups d’état—most infamously in Guatemala and Iran—and endless conspiracies against regimes that were seen to pose a threat to the global interests of the United States. What came to be called the “National Security State”—based on the alliance of powerful corporate interests, a massive military establishment, and an array of highly secret intelligence agencies—assumed dimensions incompatible with the maintenance of traditional forms of democracy within the United States. Just days before he left office, President Eisenhower—perhaps frightened at the monster whose growth he had abetted—delivered a televised “Farewell Address” in which he warned the American people that the growth of the “military-industrial complex” posed an immense danger to the survival of American democracy.

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, Kennedy sought to strike a tone of bold resolution. In the most grandiloquent passage, he proclaimed that the “torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans” who would be willing to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe” to uphold the global interests of the United States. However, for all the soaring rhetoric, Kennedy’s speech gave expression to the challenges confronting the ruling elite. In a more candid passage, he warned that if the United States “cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

Kennedy’s speech was an attempt to reconcile in rhetoric the democratic pretensions of the United States—which had already been badly discredited in the eyes of the world by the repression of the McCarthy era and the ongoing and brutal denial of basic civil rights to African-Americans—with the imperatives of American imperialism. Such rhetorical exercises came to define the public face of the Kennedy administration.

But beneath the surface an uglier reality prevailed. Less than three months after his inauguration, Kennedy gave final approval for the launching of a counterrevolutionary invasion of Cuba by an anti-Castro army that had been created by the CIA. The new president received assurances that the invaders would be greeted as liberators when they landed in Cuba. The CIA knew that no such uprising was in the offing, but assumed that Kennedy, once the invasion had begun, would feel compelled to commit US forces to prevent the defeat of an American-sponsored operation. However, Kennedy, fearing Soviet retaliation in Berlin, refused to intervene to back the anti-Castro mercenaries. The invasion was defeated in less than 72 hours and more than 1,000 mercenaries were captured. The CIA never forgave Kennedy for this “betrayal.”

While it is likely that Kennedy was chastened by the Bay of Pigs disaster—his anger over the false assurances given him by the CIA and US military was not a secret—the April 1961 defeat hardly ended Kennedy’s commitment to counterinsurgency operations. His fascination—and that of his brother, Robert—with assassination plots, particularly against Castro, has been amply documented. Eventually, these plots required the recruitment of Mafia gangsters, drawing the Kennedy administration into self-destructive relations with the criminal underworld.

Within the United States, the social tensions that were to explode later in the 1960s were already apparent during the Kennedy administration. The determination of African-Americans to exercise their civil rights was met with violence by state governments that defied the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling of the Supreme Court. Moreover, notwithstanding the relentless anti-communist propaganda of the state and media, which was enthusiastically abetted by the trade union bureaucracies, the working class continued to press for substantial improvements in living standards and social benefits. Kennedy, who cast himself as a representative of the tradition of New Deal reformism, advanced a legislative agenda that led, after his assassination, to the passage of the law establishing Medicare.

In the final year of his presidency, the political divisions within the ruling class over critical issues of international policy became more intense. Kennedy’s decision to avoid an invasion of Cuba in the October 1962 missile crisis was opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following the resolution of that harrowing crisis, which brought the United States and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war, Kennedy pursued and obtained passage of the nuclear test ban treaty.

These measures did not signify that Kennedy had abandoned a Cold War agenda. In fact, the last three months of his presidency were preoccupied with the intensifying crisis in Vietnam. Though it is not possible to determine what course Kennedy would have chosen in Vietnam had he lived, the historical record hardly supports claims that he favored the withdrawal of US forces. Kennedy authorized the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Diem, which resulted in the latter’s murder on November 1, 1963. The purpose of the coup was to establish a new anti-communist regime that would wage war against the National Liberation Front more effectively than Diem. Three weeks later, Kennedy was murdered in Dallas.

The assassination of President Kennedy marked a critical inflection point in the modern history of the United States. In 1913, a half-century before Kennedy’s death, Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th president of the United States. It was during his administration that the United States, in 1917, entered the First World War, promising to “make the world safe for democracy.”

It was under the banner of Wilson’s hypocritical invocation of a global democracy that the United States, for the first time, emerged as the principal imperialist power. That position was consolidated during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45), who sought to preserve a popular base for capitalism within the United States through the social reforms of the New Deal. These reforms enabled the Roosevelt administration to portray its intervention in the Second World War as a struggle for democracy against fascism.

The Kennedy administration brought that era to an end. Significantly, the Kennedy administration had come to office at precisely the point when economists began to take note of the first significant signs of the erosion of the global position of American capitalism.

As first European and then Japanese capitalism recovered from the ravages of World War II, the economic supremacy of the United States was called into question. Just eight years after Kennedy’s assassination, the dramatic shifts in the balance of international trade and payments brought about the collapse of the Bretton Woods system of dollar-gold convertibility. The United States had definitively entered an era of protracted decline.

John F. Kennedy was the last president who was able to link his administration, in the public mind, with the democratic traditions of the United States. But the political and moral foundations of his presidency had already been fatally eroded by the evolution of American imperialism. However sincere the democratic ideals and aspirations of the great mass of people, the United States had entered World War II to secure the global interests of American capitalism. In the years that followed the war, its policies assumed an ever more criminal character. The chasm between the rhetorical invocations of democracy and the brutal reality of American policies became impossible to conceal, either internationally or within the United States. Kennedy enthusiasts, especially after the president’s death, referred to his administration as “Camelot.” It could be better described as “a bright and shining lie.”

A report issued Wednesday by the New York City-based liberal think tank Demos is a devastating refutation of the arguments used by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to throw the city of Detroit into bankruptcy.

The Demos report charges that the financial numbers used by Orr and other advocates of bankruptcy were grossly inflated, and that the real causes of Detroit’s cash flow shortfall were parasitic loans and other financial schemes pushed on the city by the banks and other powerful creditors.

Data assembled in the report adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the city of Detroit’s July 19 Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing was not driven by economic necessity but by political considerations.

Taking into account the Demos findings, it is more obvious than ever that Orr filed for Chapter 9 as part of a strategy to use the bankruptcy courts to gut the pensions of 21,000 retired municipal workers, privatize services and sell off public assets, including the artwork of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The aim is to pay off the same financial institutions chiefly responsible for the city’s crisis and, more generally, the economic crisis that erupted in 2008.

US Judge Steven Rhodes is expected to rule soon on whether the city is eligible for bankruptcy.

The entire political and media establishment in Detroit and around the country have repeated without the slightest challenge the claims by Orr and his co-conspirators that the city is in inescapable financial distress, caused above all by unfunded pension obligations and other “legacy costs”. The Demos report shows that the surge in legacy costs used by to justify the filing “was driven heavily by the city’s complex financial deals, not retiree benefits.”

The real causes of the city’s cash flow problems are not the pensions and benefits owed to workers, but the massive decline in revenue that has taken place under conditions of deindustrialization, mass unemployment, the growth of poverty and huge tax giveaways to corporations.

“Contrary to widely held belief, Detroit does not have a spending problem,” the report states. “Since the onset of the Great Recession, the city’s total expenses have actually decreased by $356.3 million… although its financial expenses have gone up.”

Summing up its main conclusions, Demos writes, “The City of Detroit’s bankruptcy was driven by a severe decline in revenues (and, importantly, not an increase in obligations to fund pensions.) Depopulation and long-term unemployment caused Detroit’s property and income tax revenues to plummet. The state of Michigan exacerbated the problems by slashing revenue it shared with the city. The city’s overall expenses have declined over the last five years, although its financial expenses have increased. In addition, Wall Street sold risky financial instruments to the city, which now threaten the resolution of this crisis.”

The report points to the disastrous social conditions in the wake of the 2008 crash as a primary factor behind the collapse in city revenue. “The number of employed Detroit residents fell by 53 percent from 2000 to 2012. But half of that decline occurred in the single year of 2008 as the Great Recession took hold. There is one inescapable fact: The most significant proximate cause of the cash flow cliff off of which the city fell was the Great Recession.”

Moreover, Detroit lost hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue sharing as Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his Democratic predecessor—two-term governor Jennifer Granholm—cut more than $700 million in transfer payments from the state government in Lansing to the city. From 2008 to 2013, as the impact of the crisis hit hardest, annual revenue sharing fell 27 percent, from $249.6 million to $182.8 million.

Although the Democratic Party-aligned think tank mentions it only tangentially, federal aid from the Obama administration—particularly in areas of anti-poverty, public education, Head Start and other programs—has also been slashed precipitously since 2009. In addition, the White House and Congress cut funding to cash-strapped states, which in turn reduced funding to cities.

The city’s revenue stream was also depleted by massive tax concessions to powerful corporations. The more than $20 million per year awards to companies included gifts to DTE Energy, Comerica Bank, Quicken Loans, Compuware, the Farbman Group and Detroit Medical Center, the report shows.

The report argues that Orr’s frequently cited figure of $18 billion for the city’s deficit is, from a legal standpoint, irrelevant to a municipal bankruptcy, which is based strictly on immediate cash flow considerations and not on speculative estimates of long-term solvency.

“That figure is irrelevant to an analysis of Detroit’s insolvency and bankruptcy filing, highly inflated, and in large part, simply inaccurate,” the report claimed. “In reality, the city needs to address its cash flow shortfall, which the emergency manager pegs at only $198 million, although that number too may be inflated because it is based on extraordinarily aggressive assumptions of the contributions the city needs to make to its pension funds.”

As Demos notes, far from excessive, irresponsible spending on services, Detroit’s fiscal policy in the wake of the 2008 crash was characterized by brutal cuts in operating expenses. “Between FY 2008 and FY 2013, the city drastically cut operating expenses by $419.1 million. This was accomplished in large part by laying off more than 2,350 workers, cutting worker pay, and reducing future healthcare and future benefit accruals for workers… The city reduced salary expenses by 30 percent between FY 2008 and FY 2013. Total operating expenses have been reduced by nearly 38 percent during that same time.”

While city operating expenditures fell sharply, however, debt servicing and other financing costs shot up. The city entered into complex financial arrangements, including interest rate swap agreements, which produced vast sums for Wall Street but amplified the city’s financial woes. By entering these financial arrangements—first started in the mid-2000s under Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick—the city effectively placed large bets that interest rates would continue to rise on its outstanding debt. When the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in the wake of the 2008 crash, the city lost out massively and found itself completely at the mercy of the creditors, who were suddenly able to demand staggering “termination” fees to “unwind” the swap deals.

The case of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department illustrates the scale of these losses. For fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the city took on more than $1.16 billion in debt to pay for expenses related to the DWSD. Nearly half of this debt total, $547 million, went to cover “swap termination payments” imposed on the city after its credit was downgraded. Orr is now pushing for the city to accept a proposed $350 million loan from the international finance house Barclays to pay off the debts incurred to Bank of America/ Merrill Lynch and UBS as a result of these swaps.

In other words, the debt burden of the city will be exacerbated—and the cuts against the working class made deeper—in order to pay off the criminal and semi-criminal elements that swindled the city into the swaps. “A strong case can be made that the banks that sold these swaps may have breached their ethical, and possibly legal, obligations to the city in executing these deals,” Demos reported.

The so-called “legacy costs” are constantly cited by the corporate-owned press in their attempts to portray pensioners and health care recipients as unaffordable burdens on the city’s finances. But according to the report, the bulk of the increase in legacy costs from 2008 to 2013 was due to financial expenses payable to the banks, which rose by $38.5 million, while actual benefit costs rose by only $24.3 million.

The Demos report, while presenting damning evidence of the conspiracy behind the Detroit bankruptcy, does not challenge the basic political framework of the assault on the working class. It concludes with a series of recommendations for Orr, including proposals for increases in revenue through unspecified means. The think-tank has ties to sections of the Democratic Party as well as the unions, which have opposed the bankruptcy from the standpoint of insisting that the unions should have been brought on board in imposing concessions on the working class and selling off city assets.

While the Demos report was a lead article in the Guardian in the UK, it was ignored by virtually all of the major US media outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, and barely reported in Detroit itself. The Detroit Free Press criticized the report, saying it shifted the blame to “outsiders,” when the real problem was an “unwillingness to face fiscal realities, a devotion to expensive benefits, excessive pension bonuses” and a failure to make “tough decisions.”

The Failure To Punish Wall Street Criminals Is The Core Cause Of Our Sick Economy

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said:

I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions [banks] becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy

As we’ve repeatedly noted, this is wholly untrue.

If the big banks were important to the economy, would so many prominent economists, financial experts and bankers be calling for them to be broken up?

If the big banks generated prosperity for the economy, would they have to be virtually 100% subsidized to keep them afloat?

If the big banks were helpful for an economic recovery, would they be prolonging our economic instability?

In fact, failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future.

After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:

The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.

***

I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the world.

***

Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties.

 

Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals – and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future.

Indeed, professor of law and economics (and chief S&L prosecutor) William Black notes that we’ve known of this dynamic for “hundreds of years”. And see this, this, this and this.

(Review of the data on accounting fraud confirms that fraud goes up as criminal prosecutions go down.)

The Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division told Congress:

Recovery from the fallout of the financial crisis requires important efforts on various fronts, and vigorous enforcement is an essential component, as aggressive and even-handed enforcement will meet the public’s fair expectation that those whose violations of the law caused severe loss and hardship will be held accountable. And vigorous law enforcement efforts will help vindicate the principles that are fundamental to the fair and proper functioning of our markets: that no one should have an unjust advantage in our markets; that investors have a right to disclosure that complies with the federal securities laws; and that there is a level playing field for all investors.

Paul Zak (Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a senior researcher at UCLA) and Stephen Knack (a Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Research Department and Public Sector Governance Department) wrote a paper called Trust and Growth, showing that enforcing the rule of law – i.e. prosecuting white collar fraud – is necessary for a healthy economy.

One of the leading business schools in America – the Wharton School of Business – published an essay by a psychologist on the causes and solutions to the economic crisis. Wharton points out that restoring trust is the key to recovery, and that trust cannot be restored until wrongdoers are held accountable:

According to David M. Sachs, a training and supervision analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, the crisis today is not one of confidence, but one of trust. “Abusive financial practices were unchecked by personal moral controls that prohibit individual criminal behavior, as in the case of [Bernard] Madoff, and by complex financial manipulations, as in the case of AIG.” The public, expecting to be protected from such abuse, has suffered a trauma of loss similar to that after 9/11. “Normal expectations of what is safe and dependable were abruptly shattered,” Sachs noted. “As is typical of post-traumatic states, planning for the future could not be based on old assumptions about what is safe and what is dangerous. A radical reversal of how to be gratified occurred.”

People now feel more gratified saving money than spending it, Sachs suggested. They have trouble trusting promises from the government because they feel the government has let them down.

He framed his argument with a fictional patient named Betty Q. Public, a librarian with two teenage children and a husband, John, who had recently lost his job. “She felt betrayed because she and her husband had invested conservatively and were double-crossed by dishonest, greedy businessmen, and now she distrusted the government that had failed to protect them from corporate dishonesty. Not only that, but she had little trust in things turning around soon enough to enable her and her husband to accomplish their previous goals.

“By no means a sophisticated economist, she knew … that some people had become fantastically wealthy by misusing other people’s money — hers included,” Sachs said. “In short, John and Betty had done everything right and were being punished, while the dishonest people were going unpunished.”

Helping an individual recover from a traumatic experience provides a useful analogy for understanding how to help the economy recover from its own traumatic experience, Sachs pointed out. The public will need to “hold the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible and take what actions they can to prevent them from harming the economy again.” In addition, the public will have to see proof that government and business leaders can behave responsibly before they will trust them again, he argued.

 

Note that Sachs urges “hold[ing] the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible.” In other words, just “looking forward” and promising to do things differently isn’t enough.

Robert Shiller – one of the top housing experts in the United States – says that the mortgage fraud is a lot like the fraud which occurred during the Great Depression. As Fortune notes:

Shiller said the danger of foreclosuregate — the scandal in which it has come to light that the biggest banks have routinely mishandled homeownership documents, putting the legality of foreclosures and related sales in doubt — is a replay of the 1930s, when Americans lost faith that institutions such as business and government were dealing fairly.

Indeed, it is beyond dispute that bank fraud was one of the main causes of the Great Depression.

Economist James K. Galbraith wrote in the introduction to his father, John Kenneth Galbraith’s, definitive study of the Great Depression, The Great Crash, 1929:

The main relevance of The Great Crash, 1929 to the great crisis of 2008 is surely here. In both cases, the government knew what it should do. Both times, it declined to do it. In the summer of 1929 a few stern words from on high, a rise in the discount rate, a tough investigation into the pyramid schemes of the day, and the house of cards on Wall Street would have tumbled before its fall destroyed the whole economy.

In 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” But the government did nothing, and less than nothing, delivering instead low interest rates, deregulation and clear signals that laws would not be enforced. The signals were not subtle: on one occasion the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision came to a conference with copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. There followed every manner of scheme to fleece the unsuspecting ….

This was fraud, perpetrated in the first instance by the government on the population, and by the rich on the poor.

***

The government that permits this to happen is complicit in a vast crime.

Galbraith also says:

There will have to be full-scale investigation and cleaning up of the residue of that, before you can have, I think, a return of confidence in the financial sector. And that’s a process which needs to get underway.

Galbraith recently said that “at the root of the crisis we find the largest financial swindle in world history”, where “counterfeit” mortgages were “laundered” by the banks.

As he has repeatedly noted, the economy will not recover until the perpetrators of the frauds which caused our current economic crisis are held accountable, so that trust can be restored. See this, this and this.

No wonder Galbraith has said economists should move into the background, and “criminologists to the forefront.”

The bottom line is that the government has it exactly backwards. By failing to prosecute criminal fraud, the government is destabilizing the economy … and ensuring future crashes.

Earlier this month, a prominent New York Federal Court Judge – and former Chief of the fraud unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (Jed Rakoff) – said:

Not a single high level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis ….

[If] the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years.

***

The stated opinion of those government entities asked to examine the financial crisis overall is not that no fraud was committed. Quite the contrary. For example, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in its final report, uses variants of the word “fraud” no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the crisis, concluding that there was a “systemic breakdown,” not just in accountability, but also in ethical behavior. As the Commission found, the signs of fraud were everywhere to be seen, with the number of reports of suspected mortgage fraud rising 20-fold between 1998 and 2005 and then doubling again in the next four years. As early as 2004, FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, was publicly warning of the “pervasive problem” of mortgage fraud, driven by the voracious demand for mortgage-backed securities. Similar warnings, many from within the financial community, were disregarded, not because they were viewed as inaccurate, but because, as one high level banker put it, “A decision was made that ‘We’re going to have to hold our nose and start buying the product if we want to stay in business.’”

The prevailing view of many government officials (as well as others) was that the crisis was in material respects the product of intentional fraud.

[The Department of Justice doesn't disagree.] Attorney General Holder himself told Congress that “it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute – if we do bring a criminal charge – it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

***

No one that I know of has ever contended that a big financial institution would collapse if one or more of its high level executives were prosecuted, as opposed to the institution itself.

***

The Department of Justice has never taken the position that all the top executives involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis were innocent, but rather has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them – excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing. So, you might ask, what’s really going on here?

***

[Deferred prosecutions - the current government approach of letting big banks off easy and leaving the individual fraudsters alone - are not the way to go.] Although it is supposedly justified in terms of preventing future crimes, I suggest that the future deterrent value of successfully prosecuting individuals far outweighs the prophylactic benefits of imposing internal compliance measures that are often little more than window-dressing. Just going after the company is also both technically and morally suspect. It is technically suspect because, under the law, you should not indict or threaten to indict a company unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that some managerial agent of the company committed the alleged crime; and if you can prove that, why not indict the manager? And from a moral standpoint, punishing a company and its many innocent employees and shareholders for the crimes committed by some unprosecuted individuals seems contrary to elementary notions of moral responsibility.

These criticisms take on special relevance, however, in the instance of investigations growing out of the financial crisis, because, as noted, the Department of Justice’s position, until at least very, very recently, is that going after the suspect institutions poses too great a risk to the nation’s economic recovery.

Rakoff thoroughly debunks the government’s other lame excuses for failing to prosecute Wall Street criminals as well, such as the “difficulty” of proving “intent” or the “sophistication” of the counter parties.

Unfortunately, the government made it official policy not to prosecute fraud, even though criminal fraud is the main business model adopted by the giant banks.

Indeed, Judge Rakoff notes that the government had a large hand in creating the fraud in the first place.  In fact, the government has done everything it can to cover up fraud, and has been actively encouraging criminal fraud and attacking those trying to blow the whistle.

The failure to punish the fraudsters is the core cause of our sick economy.