By Felix Imonti

Russia is back. President Vladimir Putin wants the world to acknowledge that Russia remains a global power. He is making his stand in Syria.

The Soviet Union acquired the Tartus Naval Port in Syria in 1971 without any real purpose for it. With their ships welcomed in Algeria, Cuba or Vietnam, Tartus was too insignificant to be developed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the funds to spend on the base and no reason to invest in it.

The Russian return to the Middle East brought them first to where the Soviet Union had its closest ties. Libya had been a major buyer of arms and many of the military officers had studied in the Soviet Union. Russia was no longer a global power, but it could be used by the Libyans as a counter force to block domination by the United States and Europeans.

When Gaddafi fell, Tartus became Russia’s only presence in the region. That and the discovery of vast gas deposits just offshore have transformed the once insignificant port into a strategic necessity.

Earlier at the United Nations, Russia had failed to realize that Security Council Resolution 1973 that was to implement a new policy of “responsibility to protect” cloaked a hidden agenda. It was to be turned from a no-fly zone into a free-fire zone for NATO. That strategic blunder of not vetoing the resolution led to the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime and cost Russia construction contracts and its investments in Libyan gas and oil to the tune of 10 billion dollars.

That was one more in a series of humiliating defeats; and something that Putin will not allow to happen again while he is president. Since his time as an officer in the KGB, he has seen the Soviet Empire lose half of its population, a quarter of its land mass, and most of its global influence. He has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical catastrophe.”

In spite of all of the pressure from Washington and elsewhere to have him persuade Bashar Al-Assad to relinquish power, Putin is staying loyal to the isolated regime. He is calculating that Russia cannot afford to lose among the Arabs what little prestige that it has remaining and gain a major political and economic advantage in Southern Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean.

What Russia lost through the anti-Al-Assad alliance was the possibility to control the natural gas market across Europe and the means to shape events on the continent. In July 2011, Iran, Iraq, and Syria agreed to build a gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field in Iran to Lebanon and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The pipeline that would have been managed by Gazprom would have carried 110 million cubic meters of gas. About a quarter of the gas would be consumed by the transit countries, leaving seventy or so million cubic meters to be sold to Europe.

Read more at oilprice.com

 

The US State Department, and to a greater extent, US foreign policy itself, having exhausted completely their collective credibility, has attempted yet another “reset.” By bringing in John Kerry to pose as the next US Secretary of State, it is hoped global opinion will see US foreign policy in a new, more tolerant light. Kerry, however, has wasted no time attempting to simply resell verbatim the same failed, absurd policy US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed her career peddling, spinning, and covering up – as finalized in the case of Benghazi, Libya.

Image: US Secretary of State John Kerry talks with pro-Al Qaeda Mouaz al-Khatib, who heads the militant front set to receive an additional $60 million in US aid claimed to be “non-lethal.” The UK, and more astonishingly, France who is fighting terrorists in Mali created by a similar intervention in Libya in 2011, have announced similar plans to further aid and abet terrorists in Syria. 

….

The Washington Post’s piece, “U.S. announces expanded battlefield aid to Syrian rebels, but not arms,” rehashes the same tired, patently false narrative that has been used throughout the duration of the US-fueled Syrian conflict. The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration will provide food and medicine to Syrian rebel fighters, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday, announcing a cautious U.S. foray into front-line battlefield support that falls far short of the heavy weapons or high-tech gear the rebels seek.

“The stakes are really high, and we can’t risk letting this country — in the heart of the Middle East — be destroyed by vicious autocrats or hijacked by the extremists,” Kerry said following discussions among a group of Western and Arab nations that are funding, and in some cases arming, the fighters.

The United States will, for the first time, send supplies through the rebels’ central military headquarters, with U.S. advisers supervising the distribution of food rations and medical supplies, U.S. officials said. The shift is intended to give the U.S.-backed Syrian Opposition Coalition greater say over the aid, but it is also a test of the rebels’ ability to keep donated supplies out of the hands of extremists in their midst.

The Washington Post report is a verified lie. US assistance, cash, weapons, and covert military support had been ongoing in Syria since 2007 – in other words – before the current conflict even began. And the US has been providing this support not for moderates, but specifically and intentionally for the ideological foundation of Al Qaeda itself, the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood, since the Bush administration.

Outright admissions by administration officials, Saudi and Lebanese officials working in tandem with the US, and US intelligence agents have outlined a criminal conspiracy that has now transcended two presidencies and provided the clearest example yet of  the corporate-financier driven “continuity of agenda” that truly guides Western foreign policy. This criminal conspiracy has also incurred a staggering list of egregious crimes against humanity, crimes we are reminded of daily by the very interests responsible for them, including the 70,000 alleged dead in the Syrian conflict so far.


Secretary John Kerry’s Narrative is a Verified Lie 

Secretary Kerry’s “desire” to keep weapons out of the hands of extremists is willfully disingenuous misdirection. It has been extremists the US has been, on record, purposefully propping up in Syria years before the conflict even began in 2011.

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

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

Hersh’s report would also include:

“the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.”

Hersh also reported that a supporter of the Lebanese pro-US-Saudi Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

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

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

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

At one point in Hersh’s report, it is even admitted that officials from US ally Saudi Arabia admitted to “controlling” the “religious fundamentalists.” The report states specifically:

“…[Saudi Arabia's] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

While Kerry, as did Clinton before him, and others throughout the Western establishment attempt to portray the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its armed front, Al Qaeda, in Syria as an unforeseeable, unfortunate consequence of an equally unforeseeable, unfortunate conflict – it is clear that in 2007, such “consequences” were essential elements of a premeditated conflict the West had poured cash, weapons, and logistics into the creation of, along with its partners in the Middle East, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Also in 2007, the Wall Street Journal would publish a report titled, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers.” In this report, it was revealed that even in 2007, Syrian opposition groups were being created from whole-cloth by the US State Department and paraded around in front of Syria’s embassies in the West. The article begins with one such protest, stating:

On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria’s largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus’s embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule. The participants shouted anti-Assad slogans and raised banners proclaiming: “Change the Regime Now.”

Later in the article, it would be revealed that the National Salvation Front (NSF) was in contact with the US State Department and that a Washington-based consulting firm in fact assisted the NSF in organizing the rally:

In the weeks before the presidential election, the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, which promotes regional democracy, and NSF members met to talk about publicizing Syria’s lack of democracy and low voter turnout, participants say. A Washington-based consulting firm, C&O Resources Inc., assisted the NSF in its planning for the May 26 anti-Assad rally at the Syrian embassy, providing media and political contacts. State Department officials stress they provided no financial or technical support to the protestors.

And while the Wall Street Journal then, just as the US State Department and the Western media houses are now portraying the Syrian opposition as representing a wide range of interests across Syrian society, it was admitted then, just as it is plainly obvious now, that the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood was in fact at the very center of the “uprising:”

One of the NSF’s most influential members is the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — the decades-old political movement active across the Middle East whose leaders have inspired the terrorist groups Hamas and al Qaeda. Its Syrian offshoot says it has renounced armed struggle in favor of democratic reform.

It was evidently clear, even in 2007, that extremists would play a leading role in any future armed conflict to overthrow the Syrian government, and now, years later, that engineered conflict has been executed verbatim and to horrific consequence – consequences the West not only refuses to take responsibility for, but seeks to further compound with increased aid to the forces of armed sedition it itself created.

Absurdity of Kerry’s Narrative Only Outdone by Proposed Solution

The solution Kerry proposes is to flood Syria with more cash, equipment, training, weapons, and other aid, either directly, or laundered through proxies such as Al Qaeda’s chief financiers and arms providers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Washington Post’s report states:

The goal of the new money is to counter the increasingly effective network of services provided by militants.

Unfortunately, the so-called “Syrian Opposition Coalition” handcrafted by the US, and founded in Doha, Qatar, is led by an extremist, Mouaz al-Khatib, who openly embraces Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra front in Syria, credited with some of the most heinous atrocities committed during the 2 year conflict, as well as systematic abuse, oppression, and subjugation in all areas along Syria’s border with NATO-member Turkey it controls.

In late 2012, al-Khatib demanded that the US reverse its decision to list al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization. Reuters quoted al-Khatib as saying:

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

The more recent Washington Post article, in fact, reaffirms al-Khatib’s support for extremists groups, stating:

Coalition chairman Mouaz al-Khatib angrily appealed for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged city of Homs and said the rebels are tired of Western complaints about extremists in their ranks. He argued that the real enemy is the Assad regime but said too many outsiders are worried only about “the length of a beard of a fighter.”

“No terrorists in the world have such a savage nature as those in the regime,” Khatib said in Arabic.

The Syrian opposition leader’s finger-jabbing anger was in marked contrast to Kerry’s clipped and measured tone. Kerry looked at Khatib without expression as the Syrian spoke.

And yet this US-created “opposition” movement, run by a leader openly embracing and defending Al Qaeda, will be the recipient of some $60 million in “non-lethal aid” and “training” to allegedly “undermine” Al Qaeda. The Washington Post indicated that France and the UK were even considering sending armored vehicles to the openly pro-Al Qaeda front.

The face-value absurdity of current Western foreign policy in the wake of a decade-long “War on Terror” that has left it bankrupt, thousands of its soldiers dead, tens of thousands more maimed or mentally ill, is perhaps so profoundly acute, it is hoped it is easier to instead believe US Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated lies.

And astonishingly, even as French soldiers die fighting militants in Mali – armed, trained, and funded by NATO’s similar intervention in Libya in 2011, and allegedly still funded and armed by US, UK, and French ally Qatar – the Washington Post article indicates France will be eagerly making the same “mistake” in Syria, and will be further assisting terrorists there, including the training of rebel forces “outside Syria.”

The exhausted legitimacy of the West, punctuated by unhinged hypocrisy, and rapidly unraveling financial and military might, would seem a perfect opportunity for the United Nations to prove its relevance or legitimacy by condemning the purposeful expansion of an already intolerable proxy war initiated by Western interests. Instead, it remains silent, or worse yet, complicit in the premeditated, documented assault on Syria under the increasingly tenuous guise of “democracy promotion,” “revolution,” and “humanitarian concern.”

Nations existing outside the West’s unraveling international enterprise would do best to continue resisting, and increasingly condemning the overt state-sponsorship of terrorism that is destroying Syria. For the rest of us, we must identify the corporate-financier interests driving this agenda – interests we most likely patronize on a daily basis, and both boycott and permanently replace them to erode the unwarranted influence they have used to both plan and execute this assault on Syria’s people.

Since we’ve bailed out the 10 largest banks $83 billion this year alone, should they give it back to us by paying into the U.S. Treasury the amount of this year’s sequester? After all, it’s the same amount.

On February 20th, Bloomberg News editors headlined, “Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year?” and issued the first-ever thorough and current analysis of the taxpayer-subsidy to the Wall Street mega-banks. They found that this subsidy is $83 billion this year, but they made no note of the fact that this amount is only $2 billion less than this year’s sequester cuts are estimated to be, so that all that would need to be done, in order to avoid those cuts, would be to have those mega-banks that we bail out every year forego their subsidy from taxpayers, for just one year. Unfortunately, this would be easier said than done.

That $83 billion subsidy this year is, according to Bloomberg’s, also approximately the amount of profits that those banks are “earning” this year. So, if the mega-banks wouldn’t refund it out of what we gave them last year, then they could just refund it by paying to us – who, after all, bailed out their stockholders enormously in 2009 – the “profits” that they made this year.

The editors at Bloomberg News (hardly a bunch of populists) calculated this $83 billion figure based upon their analysis of the figures in a sadly ignored but rigorous study that had been done by IMF economists, a study that had been issued months back, in May 2012, and which was titled “Quantifying Structural Subsidy Values for Systemically Important Financial Institutions.” As Bloomberg’s editors summarized the reason for this ongoing federal subsidy: “The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail,” due to the special Government backing for too-big-to-fail (TBTF) institutions.

The taxpayer-funded annual subsidy to these TBTF banks has never before been calculated as to its actual annual dollar-value, but this rigorous IMF study finally provided the means for doing that. Bloomberg’s summarizes: “What if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?”

“The top five banks – JP Morgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits.”

This $83 billion, in other words, is the current value of the annual subsidy received by America’s 10 mega-banks, from our Government’s special treatment of them as “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” (i.e., fully guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers, irrespective of the normal $250,000-per-account limit in savings and checking accounts), or TBTF institutions, which the other 7,053 (out of the total 7,063 FDIC-insured) banks are not – other banks can fail without destroying the U.S. economy. In a certain sense, these are the banks where the super-rich can enjoy FDIC protection without that $250,000-per-account limit, and can even gamble under the protection of that comforting umbrella.

The Dallas Federal Reserve has issued a superb study showing that even at the peak of the crash, when the highest percentage of loans were in arrears, which had occurred around January 2010, only around 3% of loans were in arrears at banks that had “less than $1 billion” in assets, whereas banks that had “over $250 billion” (and only 12 banks are in that august category) were experiencing around 12% of loans in arrears. The following chart on page 7 of the Dallas Fed’s study showed that the 2008 crash was virtually entirely a Wall Street (or mega-bank) phenomenon:

The big-ten banks are the ones that benefited from that $83 billion handout this year, and, as was noted, they did so because they are TBTF. Because these banks (basically the top line there) are TBTF, their top executives can have them engage in, essentially, high-risk gambling (such as “no-doc” or “liars” loans) with the vast sums that are under their command, since the people who buy stock in these banks know in advance that if these high-risk bets fail, then U.S. taxpayers (we) will eat their losses. Consequently, the only incentive for CEOs of these banks is to increase their bank’s size even more, so as to increase their bonuses even bigger, since these executives don’t really need to worry about risk (except as a PR issue, perhaps, but they hire PR people – including politicians – to deal with that).

When Wall Street got bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars by the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve (and with Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac serving as a conduit between them and Wall Street), this left very little remaining for the Government to spend on the rest of the economy, such as infrastructure and education (the kinds of things that we supposedly pay taxes for), which might be why the recovery has been so slow, from the 2008 crash that was caused by Wall Street’s federally-insured gambling with the trillions that they control of everybody else’s money. If so, then this sequester is a result of Wall Street’s failed bets: instead of cutting back on the subsidy to Wall Street, the politicians in Washington have chosen to cut back on government services to the public. Politicians like Barack Obama and his team, and the George W. Bush team before them, and all of the supporters of TBTF in Congress, made the basic choice to subsidize the mega-banks instead of the needy or the deserving, and this is also why the “Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth as Rich-Poor Gap Widened” under Obama. It really is a plutocracy; that’s precisely the way today’s USA is functioning – no doubt about it.

There were other possible ways of dealing with the 2008 crash than to continue to throw trillions of dollars at Wall Street, but that is what “our” Government did, and continues to do, because, essentially, this is what the super-rich pay them to do.

Bloomberg’s $83 billion/year finding here is so vast that it suggests that the U.S. is a crony-capitalism, hardly an authentic capitalism. The “cronies” are these giant Wall Street firms and their “counterparties” (namely, each other, plus Fannie & Freddie and the government officials and lobbyists, who all serve Wall Street), and also the stockholders and bondholders in these huge financial institutions: the mega-banks that would otherwise be “cleaned out” but for the TBTF backing they receive from U.S. taxpayers. We’re getting reamed by Wall Street and K Street, and this is the first estimate of the actual circumference of that reaming. The Dallas Fed’s study says that this reaming must stop, and that, despite what the Federal Reserve itself says, the mega-banks must be broken up. The easiest way to do that might be for Congress to pass a law that prohibits the largest ten banks from participating in the FDIC. That would transform the entire financial system, but Wall Street would hate it because it would yank their honey-pot.

Because Wall Street’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his roughly $20 billion fortune by serving the mega-banks, this editorial from Bloomberg News constituted remarkable news, in and of itself.

One other study of “Valuation in Systemic Risk at U.S. Banks During 1974-2010” found that the taxpayer-subsidy was $300 billion in 2008 but supposedly near zero after 2009. Matt Levine linked to that study on 7 May 2012 under the optimistic headline “Markets Are Telling Us That Too Big To Fail Is All Better.” The editors at Bloomberg ignored that study. The financial expert Yves Smith, when I called to her attention that that study, which she had relied upon, zeroed-out the megabanks’ systemic risk after 2009, wrote in reply, “I didn’t realize they were doing this using bank equity volatility as the proxy. He did not make clear how he was going to do about it in the talk. Methodologically, that’s crap.”  So, Bloomberg’s editors have issued the only reliable study that has ever been done on the size of this important subsidy.

Bloomberg’s editors were courageous to do this, and they are already getting flak for having done it. On February 24th, they issued a follow-up, “Remember That $83 Billion Bank Subsidy? We Weren’t Kidding,” and explained in more detail how they had calculated this $83 billion sum. They explained why the $83 billion estimate was far likelier an underestimate than an overestimate.

Anyway, this subsidy is a major problem, probably at least as big as the sequester, which it might have helped to cause.

On February 28th, Yves Smith posted at her “Naked Capitalism” website, “Occupy the SEC, Frustrated With Regulatory Defiance of Volcker Rule Implementation Requirements, Sues Fed, SEC, CFTC, FDIC and Treasury,” and she linked to a new legal filing in the Eastern District of New York “over the failure of the relevant financial regulators to issue a Final Rulemaking as stipulated in Dodd Frank.” She summarized what the evidence clearly showed: “Not only are the[y] out of compliance [with the Dodd-Frank Act’s Volcker Rule provision for these regulators to draft rules restricting the mega-banks from gambling with investors’ money], they [the regulatory agencies over the mega-banks] appear to have no intent of finalizing the Volcker Rule.” She went on to say: “Much of the public still fails to understand the degree to which the ruling classes no longer represent their interests. Oh, they may resent the banks, and they may also hate Congress, but most people deeply need to believe they live in a system that is fair and where business and political leaders (some if not all) still deserve respect and admiration.”

Meanwhile, click here to find out why Republicans want the sequester, even though economists, the International Monetary Fund, and even the Congress’s own research service (the Congressional Research Service), have amply warned that it will be destructive to the nation.

Comment by Washington’s Blog:  President Obama says that sequestration is the GOP’s fault. But Bob Woodward and YouTube reveal that Obama supported sequestration from day one.

Read potential solutions to the sequestration debate.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of Christ’s Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity.

The government has secretly ramped up a controversial programme that strips people of their British citizenship on national security grounds – two of whom have been subsequently killed by US drone attacks.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and published in the Independent has established that since 2010 the Home Secretary Theresa May has revoked the passports of 16 individuals many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.

Critics of the programme warn that it also allows ministers to ‘wash their hands’ of British nationals suspected of terrorism who could be subject to torture and illegal detention abroad.

They add that it also allows those stripped of their citizenship to be killed or ‘rendered’ without any onus on the British government to intervene.

At least five of those deprived of their UK nationality by the Coalition government were born in Britain, and one man had lived in the country for almost 50 years.

Those affected have their passports cancelled, and lose their right to enter the UK – making it very difficult to appeal the Home Secretary’s decision.

Last night the Liberal Democrat’s deputy leader Simon Hughes said he was writing to the Home Secretary to call for an urgent review into how the law was being implemented.

The leading human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce said the present situation ‘smacked of medieval exile, just as cruel and just as arbitrary’.

Ian Macdonald QC, president of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, described the citizenship orders as ‘sinister’.

‘They’re using executive powers and I think they’re using them quite wrongly,’ he said.

‘It’s not open government, it’s closed, and it needs to be exposed because in my view it’s a real overriding of open government and the rule of law.’

Laws were passed in 2002 enabling the Home Secretary to remove the citizenship of any dual nationals who had done something ‘seriously prejudicial’ to the UK, but the power had rarely been used before the current government.

The Bureau’s investigations have established the identities of all but four of the 21 British passport holders who have lost their citizenship, and their subsequent fates. Only two have successfully appealed – one of whom has since been extradited to the US.

A law unto herself: How the Home Secretary has the power to strip British citizenship

The Home Secretary has sole power to remove an individual’s British citizenship. The decision does not have to be referred through the courts.

From the moment the Home Secretary signs a deprivation of citizenship order, the individual ceases to be a British subject – their passport is cancelled, they lose the diplomatic protections Britain extends to its citizens, and they must apply for a visa to re-enter the country.

The Home Secretary can only deprive an individual of their citizenship if they are dual nationals. The power cannot be used if by removing British citizenship it renders an individual stateless.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May can use the power whenever she deems it ‘conducive to the public good’. She can act based on what she believes someone might do, rather than based on past acts.

The only way to challenge an order is through retrospective appeal. Where the deprivation is on national-security grounds, as in almost every known case, appeals go to the semi-secret Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac).

Siac hears sensitive, intelligence-based evidence in ‘closed’ proceedings – where an individual and their legal team cannot learn the detail of the evidence against them. Instead, a special advocate – a carefully vetted barrister – challenges the government’s account.  But once they have seen the secret material they cannot speak with the defendant without the court’s permission, making cross-examination ‘pretty useless’, in the words of former special advocate Ian Macdonald.

Follow Chris Woods and Alice K Ross on Twitter.

US Supreme Court Justices attack US Voting Rights Act

March 1st, 2013 by World Socialist Web Site

 by Ed Hightower

On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, which challenges the key enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

Right-wing justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and John Roberts made clear their opposition to the act. Justice Clarence Thomas, the fourth member of the far-right bloc on the court was, as usual, silent, and the “swing vote,” Justice Anthony Kennedy, acidly questioned the continued relevance of the landmark ruling.

The tenor of these reactionaries suggested the existence of a five-vote majority to either overturn or eviscerate the provisions of the law that require states of the former Jim Crow South and certain other jurisdictions to pre-clear changes in voting procedures with the federal government, so as to insure the right of blacks and other minorities to vote.

The very fact that the Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge to the Voting Rights Act, which had been rejected by the federal trial court and the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, is indicative of the ferocity of the assault on democratic rights being waged by the ruling class. It reflects the aggressive posture of the court’s right-wing bloc, which may be poised to usurp the power of Congress, as stipulated in the 15th Amendment of the Constitution outlawing voting discrimination based on race, to pass legislation to enforce the Amendment’s provisions. Congress has repeatedly voted to extend the VRA, most recently in 2006, when both houses voted overwhelmingly to extend the act for another 25 years (98 to 0 in the Senate, 390 to 33 in the House).

The Voting Rights Act marked the high water mark of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In the preceding decades, African Americans, who were guaranteed all of the constitutional rights of whites through the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, nevertheless suffered severe repression at the hands of state and local governments in the American South, including de facto disenfranchisement through poll taxes and literacy tests backed up by brutal violence and terror.

In the mass struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the South backed by white workers and youth across the country fought against legal segregation in marches, sit-ins and protests, many of which met with violent attack both from state and local authorities and from organized terror groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Bombings, lynchings and beatings claimed many lives.

The outcome of these struggles was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The VRA covered all of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia and Alaska, as well as parts of Arizona, Hawaii and Idaho. In 1975, Texas was added due to findings of persistent discrimination against non-English-speaking persons. Today, all or part of 16 states fall under the pre-clearance requirement of the VRA.

Immediately after the 2006 renewal of the VRA by Congress, a Texas municipality challenged it on grounds similar to those at issue in Shelby County. In its review of that case, commonly referred to as NAMUDNO (Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder), seven Supreme Court justices signed on to an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts that depicted Sections 4 and 5 of the act, the key enforcement sections, as outdated, and the 2006 congressional renewal as failing to take into account progressive changes in the South.

Shelby County largely concerns Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the pre-clearance provision. The suit also targets Section 4 of the act, which defines which jurisdictions will be subjected to the pre-clearance requirement.

Attorneys for Shelby County, Alabama argue that jurisdictions in their state should not be treated differently from those in any other state, claiming that there is no more overt discrimination against minority voters in Alabama jurisdictions than in any other state. During oral arguments, Alabama’s attorney brushed aside evidence of recurrent and frequent attempts to disenfranchise minority voters in Alabama and the states in question, insisting that the pre-clearance requirement posed an unacceptable intrusion into the sovereign state’s interest in managing elections within its borders.

The questioning by justices Scalia, Roberts and Alito, with Kennedy largely following suit, indicates a possible if not probable overturn of at least Section 4 of the VRA, leaving it up to Congress to create a new formula for determining which jurisdictions fall under the scope of pre-clearance, a remote prospect in the present political context that would have much the same effect as striking Sections 4 and 5 altogether.

Scalia’s contributions were particularly provocative. Referring to the ever-broader support for the VRA at each successive congressional renewal, Scalia made the following extraordinary comment:

“Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement…It’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.”

Justice Kennedy posed the unrelated and almost nonsensical question to the government’s lawyer: “If Alabama wants to have monuments to the heroes of the civil rights movement, if it wants to acknowledge the wrongs of its past, is it better off doing that if it’s an [sic] own independent sovereign or if it’s under the trusteeship of the United States Government?”

The nominally liberal justice Stephen Breyer appeared inclined to conciliate with the right-wing majority, asking the government’s attorney, “What is the standard for when it [the VRA] runs out? Never? That’s something you have heard people worried about.”

The overturning or emasculation of the VRA would serve as a green light for broader attacks on democratic rights, and the right to vote in particular. Shelby County takes place in the context of more than a decade of mounting attacks on the right to vote, beginning with the infamous Gore v. Bush decision of December 2000, in which the Supreme Court shut down the counting of votes in Florida and handed the presidency to George W. Bush.

More recently, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations had the right to donate unlimited cash to election campaigns. This term it is hearing a suit to lift all restrictions on the amount of money individuals can donate to candidates for office. The domination of the electoral process and the political system by corporate money is being institutionalized and written into the law of the land.

The recent spate of disenfranchising measures adopted by states across the US in the form of voter ID laws, the curtailment of early voting and the purging of voter rolls represents more than just a gift to the Republican Party, whose strategists fear changing demographics will contribute to future electoral losses. It represents an ongoing and escalating break with democratic norms on the part of the corporate-financial elite.

The attack on the Voting Rights Act is an attack not just on minority workers, but on the democratic rights of the working class as a whole.

American and world capitalism face the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and with it, growing resistance to relentless attacks on workers’ livings standards. This is the source of the turn by the ruling class toward police state forms of rule, from indefinite military detention and domestic spying to the authority claimed by President Obama to assassinate people branded as terrorists, including US citizens.

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that a group of United States-based attorneys, journalists and human rights activists, along with their affiliated organizations, cannot sue to establish the unconstitutionality of a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The decision had nothing to do with the merits of the claim. Rather, the lawsuit was thrown out of court because the plaintiffs could not prove that the interception of their phone calls and emails was “certainly impending,” a legal standard never before imposed to deny someone the right to sue.

At the core of the majority decision, authored by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and joined by the other three extreme right-wing justices—Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas—along with the so-called “swing” voter, Justice Anthony A. Kennedy, is an obvious “Catch-22.” Because the law authorizes secret wiretaps, there is no way to prove who might be a victim, but only victims have legal “standing” to file lawsuits, and therefore nobody can bring a case for judicial review of the law’s constitutionality.

Clapper v. Amnesty International reverses a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit should go forward, in the process narrowing the doctrine of “standing” such that virtually all secret government activity can now be ruled immune from court challenges. In doing so, the Supreme Court majority adopted the positions urged by Obama administration lawyers in their briefs and at oral argument last October. (See, “Obama administration asserts unchecked powers”)

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution forbids warrantless eavesdropping. Congress enacted FISA in 1978 following Watergate-era exposures of widespread and unchecked government spying on United States citizens engaged in constitutionally protected political and cultural activities. FISA limits wiretaps to the acquisition of “foreign intelligence information” by targeting a “foreign government or agent” outside the United States. With a nod to the Fourth Amendment, FISA requires federal agents to obtain a warrant for the specific target and facility from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, DC, the proceedings of which are kept secret.

In 2008, Congress, with the support of key Democrats, amended FISA to eliminate the requirements that the target must be a specified “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power” and that the warrant application must identify the precise facility where the electronic surveillance is to take place. In effect, the 2008 FISA amendment authorizes “roving wiretaps” of communications between places in the United States and foreign countries that are essentially warrantless.

The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit less than an hour after then-president George Bush signed the FISA amendment into law, asking the federal district court in New York to declare the measure unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.

The plaintiffs described themselves as persons and organizations who communicate by telephone and e-mail with people the government “believes or believed to be associated with terrorist organizations,” with “people located in geographic areas that are a special focus” of so-called “counterterrorism” efforts, and with “activists who oppose governments supported by the United States.”

To establish standing under the law as it then existed, the plaintiffs alleged a series of specific injuries flowing from the FISA amendment, such as the fact that the threat of secret wiretapping interferes with lawyers locating and interviewing witnesses or advising clients in confidence, journalists cultivating confidential sources to obtain information for news reports, and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International interacting with foreign contacts. The threat of surveillance compelled some plaintiffs to travel abroad for in-person conversations, and others to undertake “costly and burdensome measures” to protect the confidentiality of sensitive communications.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes New York City, ruled that the plaintiffs’ allegations establish “an objectively reasonable likelihood that their communications will be intercepted” and therefore gave them standing to challenge the FISA amendment’s constitutionality. The Supreme Court majority reversed this ruling.

Alito’s majority opinion dramatically raised the bar for determining legal standing, ruling that the plaintiffs had to demonstrate “the threatened injury must be certainly impending ” (the italics are Alito’s), resurrecting a phrase from a long-forgotten 1923 opinion that actually found that the plaintiff in the case had standing on the basis that “one does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief.”

The “certainly impending” language has never previously been used by the Supreme Court to deny a plaintiff standing in any case, much less one challenging the constitutionality of a clandestine government program where the evidence to meet such a standard is, by definition, unavailable.

Alito went on, at considerable length, to discount the plaintiffs’ claims that their communications would likely be intercepted as “highly speculative” and “relying on a highly attenuated chain of possibilities.” Alito seemed to taunt the plaintiffs for the absence of “any evidence that their communications have been monitored” under a secret program put into effect the day their lawsuit was filed, calling it “a failure that substantially undermines their standing theory.”

“Simply put,” Alito wrote, the plaintiffs “can only speculate as to how the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target,” and “even if [the plaintiffs] could demonstrate that the targeting of their foreign contacts is imminent, [they] can only speculate as to whether the Government will seek to use [FISA] surveillance (rather than other methods) to do so.”

In other words, the spy program’s secrecy—which is what chills the plaintiffs’ exercise of their rights in the first place—is precisely what prevents anyone from seeking review of its constitutionality.

Alito next demeaned the plaintiffs’ claims that the threat of surveillance forced them to travel and to undertake other expensive precautions to protect the confidentiality of their communications as “self-inflicted injuries” that, somehow, “are not fairly traceable” to the secret wiretapping program.

Finally, Alito wrote that even if “no one would have standing is not a reason to find standing,” meaning that the Supreme Court could insulate the secret wiretapping program from all court challenges. Underscoring his contempt for the basic democratic right of people to challenge governmental action in court, Alito concluded that “any dissatisfaction” the plaintiffs had with the new law or the secret rulings of the FISA court “is irrelevant to our standing analysis.”

Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by the other three moderate justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, pointing out the many Supreme Court precedents which give the plaintiffs standing to bring suit. The dissent explicitly declined to address the constitutionality of the FISA amendment itself, however.

Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the lawyer for the plaintiffs, issued a statement calling the ruling “disturbing” because it denies “meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”

“More than a decade after 9/11,” Jaffer added, “we still have no judicial ruling on the lawfulness of torture, of extraordinary rendition, of targeted killings or of the warrantless wiretapping program. These programs were all contested in the public sphere, but they have not been contested in the courts.”

In contrast, the spokesperson for the Department of Justice praised the majority decision, stating that the government was “obviously pleased” with the denial of standing to the plaintiffs.

Equally obvious is the fact that the Obama administration—to no less a degree than the administration of George Bush—is developing increasingly authoritarian forms of rule in conjunction with the Supreme Court.

The Uncommon Courage of Bradley Manning

March 1st, 2013 by Marjorie Cohn

Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 charges including possessing and willfully communicating to an unauthorized person all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure. The charges carry a total of 20 years in prison. For the first time, Bradley spoke publicly about what he did and why. His actions, now confirmed by his own words, reveal Bradley to be a very brave young man.

When he was 22 years old, Pfc. Bradley Manning gave classified documents to WikiLeaks. They included the “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children.

“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Bradley told the military tribunal during his guilty plea proceeding. “It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

Bradley said he was frustrated by his inability to convince his chain of command to investigate the Collateral Murder video and other “war porn” documented in the files he provided to WikiLeaks. “I was disturbed by the response to injured children.” Bradley was bothered by the soldiers depicted in the video who “seemed to not value human life by referring to [their targets] as ‘dead bastards.’” People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed. A U.S. tank drove over one body, cutting the man in half. The actions of American soldiers shown in that video amount to war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit targeting civilians, preventing the rescue of the wounded, and defacing dead bodies.

No one at WikiLeaks asked or encouraged Bradley to give them the documents, Bradley said. “No one associated with the WLO [WikiLeaks Organization] pressured me to give them more information. The decision to give documents to WikiLeaks [was] mine alone.”

Before contacting WikiLeaks, Bradley tried to interest the Washington Post in publishing the documents but the newspaper was unresponsive. He tried unsuccessfully to contact the New York Times.

During his first nine months in custody, Bradley was kept in solitary confinement, which is considered torture as it can lead to hallucinations, catatonia and suicide.

Bradley maintained his not guilty pleas to 12 additional charges, including aiding the enemy and espionage, for which he could get life imprisonment.

Bradley’s actions are not unlike those of Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers helped to expose the government’s lies and end the Vietnam War.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and co-author of “Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent” (with Kathleen Gilberd). She testifies at military hearings about the illegality of the wars, the duty to obey lawful orders, and the duty to disobey unlawful orders. See www.marjoriecohn.com.

 

Haiti’s Nightmare: The Cocaine Coup and the CIA Connection

March 1st, 2013 by Global Research News

by Paul DeRienzo

Originally published by The Shadow no. 32, April/June 1994, published on Global Research 4 days before the February 29, 2004 Coup d’Etat

It was a day before the scheduled return of Haiti’s exiled president Jean Betrand Aristide, and it was clear that the October 30, 1993 deadline for a return to democratic rule in the western hemisphere’s poorest nation could not occur. Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest who had been elected nearly three years before with 70 percent of the vote in Haiti’s first free election, was speaking to a packed session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In a dramatic move, Aristide told the diplomats that the military government of Haiti had to yield the power that was to end Haiti’s role in the drug trade, a trade financed by Colombia’s Cali cartel, that had exploded in the months following the coup. Aristide told the UN that each year Haiti is the transit point for nearly 50 tons of cocaine worth more than a billion dollars, providing Haiti’s military rulers with $200 million in profits.

Aristide’s electrifying accusations opened the floodgate of even more sinister revelations. Massachusetts senator John Kerry heads a subcommittee concerned with international terrorism and drug trafficking that turned up collusion between the CIA and drug traffickers during the late 1980s’ Iran Contra hearings.

Kerry had developed detailed information on drug trafficking by Haiti’s military rulers that led to the indictment in Miami in 1988, of Lt. Col. Jean Paul. The indictment was a major embarrassment to the Haitian military, especially since Paul defiantly refused to surrender to U.S. authorities. It was just a month before thousands of U.S. troops invaded Panama and arrested Manuel Noriega who, like Col. Paul, was also under indictment for drug trafficking in Florida.

In November 1989, Col. Paul was found dead after he consumed a traditional Haitian good will gift—a bowel of pumpkin soup. Haitian officials accused Paul’s wife of the murder, apparently because she had been cheated out of her share of a cocaine deal by associates of her husband, who were involved in smuggling through Miami.

The U.S. senate also heard testimony in 1988 that then interior minister, Gen. Williams Regala, and his DEA liaison officer, protected and supervised cocaine shipments. The testimony also charged the then Haitian military commander Gen. Henry Namphy with accepting bribes from Colombian traffickers in return for landing rights in the mid 1980’s.

It was in 1989 that yet another military coup brought Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril to power. Under U.S. pressure Avril, the former finance chief under the 30-year Duvalier family dictatorship, fired 140 officers suspected of drug trafficking. Avril, who is currently living in Miami, is being sued by six Haitians, including Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul, who claim they were abducted and tortured by the Haitian military under Avril’s orders in November 1989. According to a witness before Senator John Kerry’s subcommittee, Avril is in fact a major player in Haiti’s role as a transit point in the cocaine trade.

Four years later, on the eve of Aristide’s negotiated return as Haiti’s elected president, a summary of a confidential report prepared for Congress and leaked to the media says that corruption levels within the (Haitian military-run) narcotics service are substantial enough to hamper any significant investigation attempting to dismantle a Colombian organization in Haiti. The report says that more than 1,000 Colombians live in Haiti using forged passports of the neighboring Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic leader Joaquin Balaguer opposes the UN blockade of Haiti, and maintains close ties with the Haitian military. The road connecting Port-au-Prince with the border town of Jimini in the Dominican Republic is the only well paved route in Haiti, and serves as the lifeline for the regime. Despite the embargo and U.S. naval blockade of Haiti, the road to the Dominican Republic has become not only the route for oil tanker trucks breaking the embargo, but the major route for cocaine shipments as well.

Fernando Burgos Martinez, a Colombian national with major business interests in Haiti, has been named in congressional records as a major cocaine trafficker, brazen enough to do business with other Colombian drug dealers on his home telephone. One DEA source says both the U.S. embassy and Haitian government have been pressed unsuccessfully to authorize wiretaps, despite DEA allegations that Martinez has been involved in every major drug shipment to Haiti since 1987.

The Kerry report claims Martinez is the bag man for Colombia’s cocaine cartels, and supervises bribes paid to the Haitian military. According to Miami attorney John Mattes, who is defending a Cuban-American drug trafficker cooperating with U.S. prosecutors, Martinez was paid $30,000 to bribe Haitian authorities into releasing two drug pilots jailed in Haiti after the engine in their plane conked out, forcing them to land in Port-au-Prince.

Martinez claims innocence from his lavish home in Petionville, an ornate suburb where Haiti’s ruling class live, overlooking the slums of the capital. He runs the casino at the plush El Rancho Hotel, that prior to the embargo realized nearly $50 million in business each week, a cash flow adequate to conceal a major money laundering operation.

But the most disturbing allegations have been of the role played by the CIA in keeping many of the coup leaders on the agency’s payroll, as part of an anti-drug intelligence unit set up by the U.S. in Haiti in 1986. Many of these same military men have had their U.S. assets frozen, and are prevented from entering this country because of their role in overthrowing Aristide, and subsequent human rights violations, including torture and murders of political opponents, raising the question—was the U.S. involved in a cocaine coup that overthrew Aristide?

War on Drugs and Human Rights Violations

When thousands of U.S. soldiers went crashing into Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega on December 20 1989, the administration of President George Bush justified the action as a major victory in the war on drugs. The cost of that victory was played down in the rush of propaganda hailing a rare victory, in a war where the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t often seen. The White House claimed casualties were low, 200 Panamanians killed along with about 20 U.S. soldiers. Bush declared the price worth the achievement of ending Panama’s role as banker and transit point for cocaine smuggled from the cartels of Colombia.

But the human cost turned out to be a great deal larger then the official pronouncements. A lawsuit brought by New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of 300 victims of the Panama invasion, charges that the casualties were actually more than 2,000 killed, that the assault left 20,000 homeless and damages exceeding $2 billion. Mass graves were unearthed after the invasion, and hundreds of victims buried in U.S.-made body bags were discovered, and eyewitnesses testified that they saw U.S. troops throwing the bodies of civilians into trenches. These revelations moved the OAS to open an investigation into possible human rights violations by the United States during its invasion of Panama, the first such investigation of a U.S. intervention ever mounted by an international body.

The gunfire had barely subsided in Panama, and General Noriega was hardly settled into his new digs in a federal prison, when another battle in the war on drugs seemed won. In Haiti, decades of brutal dictatorship seemed to be passing, with the election of President Jean Bertrand Aristide to lead the Caribbean nation of six million. It was a time when dreams of a better future by Haiti’s impoverished people seemed within reach.

But it wasn’t long before the dream was transformed into a nightmare. Less than a year after the election, on September 30 1991, Haiti’s army launched a ruthless coup d’etat that forced Aristide into exile. The coup ushered in yet another period of military repression in Haiti’s tortured history—a history marked by twenty years of U.S. military occupation, beginning with the 1915 crushing of a popular revolt by U.S. Marines.

Human rights groups report that Haitians killed in the repression following the coup may be more than 3,000. More than 2,000 others were seriously injured, including victims of gunshots and torture. The OAS imposed an embargo that failed to topple the coup leaders, but forced negotiations, brokered by the UN at Governors Island in New York last July. There coup leader General Raoul Cedras agreed to allow Aristide to return in exchange for an end to the embargo.

Yet as the date for Aristide’s return grew near, the military began a campaign of terror against their opponents. The killings peaked in the days before the scheduled return of Aristide, with the brazen murder of Antoine Izmery, a businessman and key Aristide backer, who was abducted from a cathedral and gunned down on a busy city street. Later, Guy Malary, Aristide’s justice minister, was also killed, and his body left by a roadside.

President Bill Clinton publicly expressed his support for Aristide’s return to Haiti, and sent the transport USS Harlan County, with hundreds of troops, to insure the transition to democracy. But at the port where the ship was to dock, pro-military government thugs staged a demonstration, prompting the Harlan County to turn back. It was shortly after the images of dead U.S. troops dragged through the streets of Somalia had shocked Americans, and provided an excuse for the Clinton administration to back off from what promised to be another open-ended intervention.

The Boys From the Company

Meanwhile, the CIA was openly running a full-scale disinformation campaign against Aristide. Ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, a leading opponent of Aristide, brought CIA analyst Brian Latell to Capitol Hill in October, to brief selected senators and representatives on allegations that Aristide had been treated for mental illness. It turned out that the time during which the CIA report alleges Aristide was treated at a Canadian hospital falls within the same period that Aristide was studying and teaching in Israel. Latell also said he saw no evidence of oppressive rule in Haiti.

While Helms was a long-time backer of the brutal dictatorship of Jean Claude Duvalier, the Democrats have their own ties to the human rights violators and drug dealers who rule Haiti.

Former Democratic party head and current secretary of commerce Ron Brown headed a law firm that represented the Duvalier family for decades. Part of that representation was a public relations campaign that stressed Duvalier’s opposition to communism in the cold war. United States support for Duvalier was worth more than $400 million in aid to the country, before the man who called himself Haiti’s President-for-Life was forced from the country.

Even Duvalier’s exit from Haiti, in February 1986, is shrouded in covert intrigue and remains an unexplored facet of the career of Lt. Col. Oliver North. Shortly after Duvalier’s ouster, North was quoted as saying he had brought an end to Haiti’s nightmare, a cryptic statement that was never publicly perused by the Iran-Contra hearings.

The CIA and the Cocaine Connection

As Jesse Helms was using the CIA to slag Aristide in the media, an intelligence service in Haiti set up by the agency to battle the cocaine trade, had evolved into a gang of political terrorists and drug traffickers. Three former chiefs of the Haitian National Intelligence Service (NIS) are now on the list of 41 Haitian officials whose assets in the United States were frozen for supporting the military coup.

The CIA poured millions into the NIS from its founding in 1986 to the 1991 coup. A 1992 DEA document describes the NIS as a covert counter-narcotics intelligence unit which often works in unison with the CIA. Although most of the CIA’s activities in Haiti remain secret, U.S. officials accuse some NIS members of becoming enmeshed in the drug trade. A U.S. embassy official in Haiti told the New York Times that the NIS was a military organization that distributed drugs in Haiti.

Aristide’s exiled interior minister Patrick Elie says the relationship between the CIA and NIS involves more than drugs. Elie told investigative reporter Dennis Bernstein that the NIS was created by the CIA. Created, Elie says, to infiltrate the drug network. But Elie adds, the NIS, which is staffed entirely by the Haitian military, spends most of its resources in political repression and spying on Haitians.

After the 1991 coup, Elie maintains that the drug trade took a quantum leap, taking control over the national Port Authority through the offices of Port-au-Prince Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois. It was Francois’s thugs, called attaches, who were primarily responsible for the waves of political killings since the coup.

United States government sources say the NIS never provided much narcotics intelligence, and its commanding officers were responsible for the torture and murder of Aristide supporters, and were involved in death threats that forced the local DEA chief to flee the country. Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and received extensive CIA briefings, said that the drug intelligence the U.S. was getting came from the very same people who in front of the world are brutally murdering people.

Legacy of Corruption

In the early 1980’s, when Haiti was still under Duvalier’s rule, the drug trade in Haiti was the province of individually corrupt military men associated with Duvalier’s powerful father-in-law. By 1985 the cocaine cartels began to seek transit points for the booming cocaine industry. A natural candidate was Haiti lying just south of the Bahamas—another favorite transit route.

Haiti is particularly attractive to the drug smugglers because the most direct route from the Colombian coast to Florida lies through the Windward passage between northern Haiti and eastern Cuba. Port-au-Prince is approximately 500 nautical miles north of Colombia and 700 miles southeast of Miami. A former agent in charge of the Miami DEA, Thomas Cash, told Senator Kerry’s committee that Haiti’s attraction to smugglers is aided by dozens of small airstrips, the lack of patrols over Haitian airspace and the total lack of any radar monitoring approaches to the country. Combined with the legendary corruption of public officials, these conditions make Haiti a very fertile ground for drug traffickers.

In fact, infamous drug trafficker George Morales told Kerry that during the mid 1980’s I used the isle of Haiti mainly as a parking lot, as a place that I would place my aircraft so they could be repaired. When asked if he shipped drugs through Haiti, Morales replied, Yes, I did, adding, its something which is done fairly commonly.

Since then the role of Haiti in the drug trade has grown, and the profits to the Haitian officials involved have skyrocketed. This may explain the difficulty Aristide experienced during his short rule, in trying to interdict drug shipments. A confidential DEA report provided to Michigan Representative John Conyers told of the case of Tony Greco, a former DEA agent in Haiti, who fled for his life in September 1992, following the arrest of a Haitian military officer charged with drug running.

Patrick Elie says he got no assistance from the Haitian military in attempts to interdict drug shipments. And when Greco received information in May 1991 that 400 kilos of cocaine were arriving in Haiti, the DEA man watched helplessly as the drugs were delivered to waiting boats. Greco told Elie that the military was conspicuously absent at a moment they knew drugs were coming in.

Greco said he finally gave up and fled the country after he received a telephone death threat against his family from a man who identified himself as the boss of the arrested officer. Greco says only army commander Raoul Cedras and Port-au-Prince police chief Michel Francois, leaders of the 1991 coup, had his private number.

Despite Tony Greco’s experiences, the DEA defends their continuing presence in Haiti. There are currently two DEA agents still stationed in the country, and the DEA has continued its contacts with the military following Aristide’s ouster, despite the DEA’s admission that over 26,400 pounds of cocaine entered the United States in 1993, transhipped through Haiti with the cooperation of the military.

The DEA remains defensive of its contacts with the Haitian military. Agency spokesperson William Ruzzamenti says, Quite frankly and honestly, we have gotten reliable and good support in the things we’re trying to do there. He acknowledged that the DEA has received reports of Haitian army officers’ involvement in the drug trade, but said that the reports have not been verified.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released in April by the U.S. Department of State—Bureau of International Narcotics matters, says the current level of detected air and maritime drug-related activity in Haiti is low. On the subject of official corruption, the report says the United States does not have evidence directly linking senior government of Haiti officials to drug trafficking, though rumors and (unsubstantiated) allegations abound. Responding to the State Department report, Representative Major Owens, who heads the Haiti committee of the Congressional Black Caucus, told the SHADOW that the State Department’s failure to act on evidence of corruption by Haiti’s military commanders was a good question the government has failed to answer. Owens says Secretary of State Warren Christopher is guilty of a double standard motivated by racism against Black Haitian refugees.

The Shadowy World of Col. Francois

Most Haitians believe that Port-au-Prince police chief Col. Michel Francois and his elder brother Evans currently run the drug trade. Col. Francois has gained that control and become one of Haiti’s most powerful men , by recruiting hundreds of police auxiliaries or attaches, to control and eliminate his rivals. Francois commands his own independent intelligence service that spies on opponents and allies alike, while running a protection racket for local drug traffickers. Michael Ratner, an attorney with the CCR, says Francois and former dictator Prosper Avril are the rule behind the facade of General Cedras.

Francois and his men have a history of involvement in the torture of opponents and death-squad-style murders of Aristide supporters. In one recent incident, attaches mobbed Port-au-Prince City Hall to prevent the capital’s mayor, Evans Paul, an Aristide supporter, from entering his offices.

One person was killed and 11 wounded during the September 8th incident, when the mob opened fire on Aristide supporters. Witnesses say the attack began when attaches dragged two of Paul’s aides from a car, viciously beating an Aristide official. Francois is also considered responsible for the murder of Justice Minister Guy Malary.

Journalist Dennis Bernstein writes that Francois was trained at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas , known in Latin America as La Escuela de Golpes, the school of coups. Originally based in Panama, the SOA was moved to Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1984. In its 40-year history, the SOA has trained 55,000 military personnel from Latin America, including the late Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto d’Aubuisson.

On April 21st 1994, a convicted Colombian drug trafficker, Gabriel Taboada, who is in the fifth year of a 12-year sentence in a Miami federal prison, fingered Francois at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing chaired by Senator John Kerry. Taboada testified that Lt. Col. Francois collaborated in shipping tons of cocaine to the United States during then 1980’s.

Taboada said he met Francois while he was in the Medellin, Colombia office of drug king Pablo Escobar, in 1984. During a thirty minute conversation, Taboada told Francois he was a car importer. Francois, he said, asked why wasn’t I in the drug business since the drug business made good money.

Speaking through an interpreter, Taboada said: I asked him what his business was and he said that at the time he was in Medellin arranging a cocaine deal. Taboada said he later learned that Francois was Chief of Police in Haiti.

Taboada told the committee that the cartel took planes out of Colombia and landed in Haiti, protected by the Haitian military. Michel Francois protected the drugs in Haiti, and then allowed the drugs to continue to the United States. Taboada also told the subcommittee that Haitian military figures often met Medellin cartel members in Colombia, including strongman Prosper Avril, who along with Francois, has long been linked to the drug trade in Haiti.

Claims by a powerful Senate oversight committee that it is doing its ‘utmost’ to verify claims of civilian casualties from covert US drone strikes have been undermined by the discovery that it has made no contact with any group conducting field studies into civilian deaths in Pakistan.

On February 7 the CIA’s director-designate John Brennan was questioned by members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In her opening remarks, chair Dianne Feinstein insisted that civilian deaths from US covert strikes ‘each year has typically been in the single digits’.

Feinstein also said that ‘for the past several years, this committee has done significant oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes’ and had done its ‘utmost to confirm’ civilian casualty data provided by the executive branch.

However, the Bureau can find no indication that either the House or Senate intelligence committees have sought evidence from beyond the US intelligence community, when following up claims of civilian deaths.

While public estimates of civilian deaths vary, all monitoring groups report higher than ‘single digit’ fatalities for most years. The Bureau presently estimates that at least 411 civilians have been killed by the CIA in Pakistan since 2004, for example.

Civilian casualties by year Pakisan

 

‘Never contacted’
Professor Sarah Knuckey, who co-led the recent field investigation by New York and Stanford universities into the Pakistan strikes, confirmed that her team has never been contacted by any US government official, or Congressional committee member or aide.

‘US officials have stated that they have done their utmost to verify civilian casualty numbers, and that they investigate and take seriously reports of civilian harm. These public commitments are welcome,’ Knuckey told the Bureau.

‘But if the commitments are serious, why haven’t officials followed up with the organizations and journalists who investigated strikes and collected information relevant to determining any civilian harm?’

Those concerns were echoed by Sarah Holewinski, executive director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. Thirty months after it issued its ground-breaking report into civilian deaths, Holewinski said this week that ‘we have never been contacted by Administration officials about our research and analysis on the covert drone program.’

Why haven’t officials followed up with the organizations and journalists who investigated strikes and collected information relevant to determining any civilian harm?
Professor Sarah Knuckey, New York University

Lawyer Shahzad Akhbar, who heads Reprieve’s team in Pakistan, again confirmed that no contact had been made, though he recalled a meeting in late 2012 with then-acting US ambassador Richard Hoagland:

‘I give him further details of some other strikes that killed civilians, and without looking at what I was giving him Hoagland insisted that he checked the figure that morning and it was still in single digits,’ said Akhbar.

Associated Press, which interviewed more than 80 civilian eyewitnesses in the tribal areas for a major report in early 2012, confirmed that no US officials had ever sought follow -up.

The Bureau’s managing editor Christopher Hird also noted that ‘We have always been happy to share and discuss our findings with others researching this subject, but in the two years of our work we have never heard from either of these committees, or their staff.”

Organisation Year Findings
Center for Civilians
in Conflict (Civic)
2010 Extensive eyewitness reports of civilian deaths
Reprieve/FFR 2010 -
present
Ongoing field work and legal cases
The Bureau 2011 -
present
Three field investigations into reported deaths
Associated Press 2012 Major field study of recent high-casualty
strikes
NYU/Stanford
universities
2012 Detailed eyewitness reports of civilian deaths
and broader impact of CIA campaign

Secure Room
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have committees tasked with overseeing the vast US intelligence community – including the CIA, which carries out the majority of covert drone strikes.

Most oversight is carried out in secret. However, some details have recently emerged of how the two committees seek to hold the CIA to account on the drone programme.

Senator Feinstein first revealed the process in a letter to the Los Angeles Times in May 2012.

She implied that monthly oversight had begun in January 2010, a year after Obama took office, noting that her committee ‘receive notification with key details shortly after every strike’. She added that her staff  ’has held 28 monthly in-depth oversight meetings to review strike records and question every aspect of the program including legality, effectiveness, precision, foreign policy implications and the care taken to minimize noncombatant casualties.’

Most oversight is carried out in secret. However, some details have recently emerged of how the two committees seek to hold the CIA to account on the drone programme.

Shortly after Brennan’s public confirmation hearing in February 2013, Feinstein added more detailsabout the process,  which she said also looked at video footage of strikes. Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are understood to view the footage at the same time.

According to a Los Angeles Times report on the process, oversight committee staffers gathered in a secure room at CIA headquarters ‘also sometimes examine telephone intercepts and after-the-fact evidence, such as the CIA’s assessment of who was hit.’

One senior staffer told the paper: ‘I don’t know that we’ve ever seen anything that we thought was inappropriate.’

‘Blind faith’
Sarah Holewinski of the Center for Civilians in Conflict is now urging the Congressional oversight committees to be far more pro-active in their approach – and far less dependent solely on the word of the CIA.

She noted that unlike in Afghanistan, investigations into reported civilian deaths in US covert drone operations ‘are limited to overhead surveillance, not collecting witness statements and digging in the dirt for evidence of what happened or who exactly was killed.’

And Holewinski pointed to the risk of reliance on the Agency’s own definitions of those it is killing which may not accord with international law. Noting the CIA’s use of so-called signature strikes against alleged militants, whose identity is unknown and who appear to fit certain patterns of behaviour, Holewinski told the Bureau: ’There’s every reason to want to believe claims of such low civilian casualties caused by drone strikes.’

‘But given obstacles to knowing precisely who was killed on the ground and without real evidence to back up the claims, to believe officials’ claims would be an act of blind faith that isn’t fair to the civilians suffering losses.’

At the time of writing, Senator Feinstein’s office had not responded to requests for comment.

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America: The Power to Assassinate a Compliant and Submissive People

February 28th, 2013 by Jacob G. Hornberger

By Jacob G. Hornberger

President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan is being held up over Brennan’s refusal to state whether the president’s power to assassinate Americans (and others) extends to American soil. The controversy is summed up in a great article by Glenn Greenwald.

The fact that Brennan could not bring himself to immediately say that the president doesn’t have the power to assassinate Americans (and others) right here within the United States is revealing. He undoubtedly knows that the president does claim to wield such power and that the president just doesn’t want to alarm Americans by informing them that he now wields the power to assassinate anyone he wants, including Americans here in the United States.

I can’t see how there’s any room for doubt here. Ever since President Bush claimed extraordinary powers after the 9/11 attacks, we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been pointing out that the powers were not limited to foreigners or to foreign lands. When U.S. forces, both military and CIA, were kidnapping people, torturing them, and incarcerating them without trial, we kept emphasizing that such powers were not limited to foreigners. By following the logic employed by Bush and his associates, it was clear that those extraordinary powers extended to Americans as well, both abroad and here at home.

But all too many Americans comforted themselves by thinking that those extraordinary powers applied only to foreigners and that the powers were necessary to keep them “safe.” Therefore, they endorsed what was going on with much enthusiasm, simply blocking out of their minds that they were also endorsing the most revolutionary change in the relationship between the federal government and the American citizenry in U.S. history.

Then came the case of Jose Padilla. He was an American who was accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Rather than have him indicted and then prosecute him in federal court, the feds whisked him away to a military dungeon, where the Pentagon tortured him and threatened to keep him incarcerated for the rest of his life as an “enemy combatant”  in the “war on terrorism.”

We took a leading role in opposing that extraordinary exercise of military supremacy over the American citizenry. We continually pointed out that what they did to Padilla, if upheld, they could then do to all other Americans. But because Padilla was not the most sympathetic character in the world, all too many Americans were happy over what the feds were doing to him, blocking out of their minds that the feds could now do the same thing to all other Americans.

And sure enough, the federal courts, in the fear-ridden environment of post-9/11, upheld what the president and the Pentagon did to Padilla, which means that they can now do the same to every American — and some 12 years after the 9/11 attacks!

And now we have the president’s assassination program, in which the president, along with his military and CIA, now wield the power to assassinate anyone they want, no questions asked. They’ve already killed countless foreigners as well as at least three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy. They do it all in secret and are not required to answer any questions as to who they have assassinated or why. Their power to kill people is omnipotent.

Do they claim the power to assassinate Americans right here at home? How can there be any doubt about it? From the very beginning, they simply converted a standard federal crime — terrorism — into an act of war. They called it “the war on terrorism,” and said that this war was just like World Wars I and II. They said that in war, they have the right to take captives, torture them, and execute illegal enemy combatants, and also to assassinate the enemy.

They also said that this war would go on forever or for at least the lifetimes of everyone living today, given that there were so many terrorists in the world. As part of that war, the president, the military, and the CIA would have to assume extraordinary powers, they said, ones that were inherent to the most extreme dictatorships in history.

Significantly, they repeatedly emphasized that in this war, the battlefield wasn’t limited to the Middle East or surrounding regions. Instead, in this war the entire world constituted the battlefield. That, of course, included the United States.

Thus, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to draw the logical conclusion — whatever extraordinary powers were being exercised against foreign “enemy combatants” in the “war on terrorism” could be applied against people right here on American soil, including Americans.

Of course, as we have also been pointing out since 9/11, the entire matter is just one great big sham and fraud. They took a federal criminal offense — terrorism — and used it a ruse to claim that America was now “at war” and then claimed extreme dictatorial powers in the process. It would be no different if the president used another federal war — the “war on drugs” — as a ruse to assume extraordinary dictatorial powers, such as the power to kidnap, torture, execute, and assassinate suspected drug users and dealers.

Our American ancestors tried their best to prevent this dictatorial nonsense. That’s why they used the Constitution to bring into existence a government of limited, enumerated powers. Notice that the dictatorial powers claimed by Bush and Obama are not among those enumerated powers. To make sure that federal officials got the point, our ancestors demanded the enactment of four separate amendments to the Constitution — the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments. Those amendments stated that with respect to federal crimes, people would be guaranteed the protections of criminal indictments, due process of law, trial by jury, freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and other protections.

And there is another important thing to note about those four amendments. Notice that the protections and guarantees apply to people in general, not just to Americans. That’s because our ancestors understood that justice requires that the rules apply to everyone equally, not one set of rules for foreigners and another set of rules for Americans. Thus, under our system of justice, President Obama has no right to be assassinating anyone or torturing anyone or incarcerating anyone without due process of law and trial by jury.

And it must be emphasized: terrorism is, in fact, a federal crime. That’s why they ultimately made Padilla a criminal defendant. That’s why terrorism is listed in the U.S. Code as a criminal offense. That’s why they have terrorism cases in federal court all the time. The truth is that there is no real war and there has never been one, any more than there has been a real war in the “war on drugs.” After all, how is the enemy supposed to surrender in this “war”? Where are the transport ships bringing invading troops to America? Where are the supply lines?

And let’s not forget something else of equal importance — the only reason that people are killing U.S. troops over there is because they’re over there interfering with the affairs of other countries. That’s what the killing is all about on both sides —not because people are trying to conquer America and enslave Americans but simply because they want the U.S. government, especially the U.S. military and CIA, out of their countries. And the more the Pentagon and the CIA continue to kill people in the process, the more they generate an endless supply of terrorists, which they then use to perpetuate their dictatorial powers. As I have long pointed out, the U.S. government is the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history.

It’s all been a sham, a fraud, and a ruse to enable the U.S. national-security state to adopt the same powers of dictatorship that it has long supported and trained, such as Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, the military dictatorships in Guatemala, the Shah’s dictatorship in Iran, Mubarak’s dictatorship in Egypt, and many more.

But Brennan shouldn’t been concerned about alarming Americans about Obama’s power to assassinate them on American soil. As we have learned since 9/11, the American people are among the most compliant, cooperative, and submissive people on the planet. All the feds have to do is say that they are doing it to keep them safe, and except for libertarians and (a few liberals and conservatives), unfortunately all too many Americans continue to fall for anything and agree to anything the government wants to do to them.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas.

Guns in the United States

February 28th, 2013 by Global Research News

Guns in America: The impact of having more guns in society

 

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The editors at NumberSleuth.org decided to research the topic of:

Guns in America: The impact of having more guns in society

Americans lead the world in gun ownership, and what is the actual impact on society of more guns?

THE UNITED STATES OF GUN OWNERSHIP

Firearms: 300 million
Firearms owners: 85 million
3 in 4 American gun owners have two or more guns
The U.S. accounts for 4.4% of the world’s population and 46% of the world’s guns

Gun ownership rates by state

Wyoming 59.7
Alaska 57.8
Montana 57.7
South Dakota 56.6
West Virginia 55.4
Arkansas 55.3
Idaho 55.3
Mississippi 55.3
Alabama 51.7
North Dakota 50.7
Kentucky 47.7
Wisconsin 44.4
Louisiana 44.1
Tennessee 43.9
Utah 43.9
Oklahoma 42.9
Iowa 42.8
South Carolina 42.3
Kansas 42.1
Vermont 42
Minnesota 41.7
Missouri 41.7
North Carolina 41.3
Maine 40.5
Georgia 40.3
Oregon 39.8
Indiana 39.1
Nebraska 38.6
Michigan 38.4
Texas 35.9
Virginia 35.1
New Mexico 34.8
Colorado 34.7
Pennsylvania 34.7
Nevada 33.8
Washington 33.1
Ohio 32.4
Arizona 31.1
New Hampshire 30
Delaware 25.5
Florida 24.5
California 21.3
Maryland 21.3
Illinois 20.2
New York 18
Connecticut 16.7
Rhode Island 12.8
Massachusetts 12.6
New Jersey 12.3
Hawaii* 8.7
DC 3.8

GUNS AND DEATH

More than 30,000 people died in gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2009.

Causes of gun-related deaths
Accident 554
Suicide 18,735
Homicide 11,493

Homicide was the 15th-leading cause of death in the United States in 2009. And guns were involved in more than 68% of those deaths.
Homicides: 16,799
Firearm homicides: 11,493

Among some of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, the United States’ homicide rate is one of the highest. The homicide rate in the U.S. is 12 times that of Japan.

Homicides per 100,000 population, select countries, most recent years available
Russia 10.2
United States 4.8
Canada 1.6
Great Britain 1.2
France 1.1
China 1.0
Italy 0.9
Germany 0.8
Japan 0.4

On the average day in the U.S.:
270 people in America, 47 of them children and teens, are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents and police intervention.
87 people die from gun violence, 33 of them murdered.
8 children and teens die from gun violence.
183 people are shot but survive their gun injuries.
38 children and teens are shot, but survive their gun injuries.

GUN VIOLENCE HITS HOME

Repeated studies have shown that the presence of a gun boosts the risk of gun-related violence in the home.
2.7 times increased risk of homicide
4.8 times increased risk of suicide

Men are more likely to be homicide victims overall, but women are over 3 1/2 times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner compared to men.

In 2005, about 40% of female homicide victims ages 15-50 were killed by a current or former intimate partner. Guns were used in 55% of those cases.

37.5% Female murder victims in 2005 were killed by their husbands or boyfriends

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher in December shot his longtime girlfriend to death before turning the gun on himself outside the team’s practice facility

MORE GUNS, MORE SAFETY?

243 is the average number of justifiable firearms homicides, such as the shooting of a home intruder, between 2005 and 2010

2.1% is the proportion of all gun-related homicides

A 1998 study showed that for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.

Individuals in possession of a gun at the time of an assault are 4.46 times more likely to be shot in the assault.

IN THE RIGHT HANDS?

Strong gun regulations aren’t always paired with strict enforcement.

2 out of 5 guns sold in the U.S. are without background checks

SOURCES

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; Brady Campaign; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Bureau of Justice Statistics; Center to Prevent Youth Violence; Hoovers.com; Federation of American Scientists; Violence Policy Center; Washington Post; New Yorker; National Shooting Sports Foundation

 

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US Sponsored Coup d’Etat: The Destabilization of Haiti

February 28th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Author’s Note

This article was written nine years ago, in the last days of February 2004 in response to the barrage of disinformation in the mainstream media. It was completed on February 29th, the day of President Jean Bertrand Aristide’s kidnapping and deportation by US Forces.

The armed insurrection which contributed to unseating President Aristide on February 29th 2004 was the result of a carefully staged military-intelligence operation, involving the US, France and Canada. The 2004 coup had set the stage for the installation of a US puppet government in Port au Prince, which takes orders directly from Washington.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, February 26, 2013


(Minor editorial corrections were made to the original draft since its publication on February 29th 2004, the title of article predates the actual Coup D’Etat which was in the making at the time of writing)

original article published at http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO402D.html

US Sponsored Coup d’Etat:  The Destabilization of Haiti

by Michel Chossudovsky

The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February. It constitutes a well armed, trained and equipped paramilitary unit integrated by former members of Le Front pour l’avancement et le progrès d’Haiti (FRAPH), the  “plain clothes” death squadrons, involved in mass killings of civilians and political assassinations during the CIA sponsored 1991 military coup, which led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide

The self-proclaimed Front pour la Libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN) (National Liberation and Reconstruction Front) is led by Guy Philippe, a former member of the Haitian Armed Forces and Police Chief. Philippe had been trained during the 1991 coup years by US Special Forces in Ecuador, together with a dozen other Haitian Army officers. (See Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News, 24 February 2004).

The two other rebel commanders and associates of Guy Philippe, who led the attacks on Gonaives and Cap Haitien are Emmanuel Constant, nicknamed “Toto” and Jodel Chamblain, both of whom are former Tonton Macoute and leaders of FRAPH.

In 1994, Emmanuel Constant led the FRAPH assassination squadron into the village of Raboteau, in what was later identified as “The Raboteau massacre”:

“One of the last of the infamous massacres happened in April 1994 in Raboteau, a seaside slum about 100 miles north of the capital. Raboteau has about 6,000 residents, most fishermen and salt rakers, but it has a reputation as an opposition stronghold where political dissidents often went to hide… On April 18 [1994], 100 soldiers and about 30 paramilitaries arrived in Raboteau for what investigators would later call a “dress rehearsal.” They rousted people from their homes, demanding to know where Amiot “Cubain” Metayer, a well-known Aristide supporter, was hiding. They beat people, inducing a pregnant woman to miscarry, and forced others to drink from open sewers. Soldiers tortured a 65-year-old blind man until he vomited blood. He died the next day.

The soldiers returned before dawn on April 22. They ransacked homes and shot people in the streets, and when the residents fled for the water, other soldiers fired at them from boats they had commandeered. Bodies washed ashore for days; some were never found. The number of victims ranges from two dozen to 30. Hundreds more fled the town, fearing further reprisals.” (St Petersburg Times, Florida, 1 September 2002)

During the military government (1991-1994), FRAPH was (unofficially) under the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces, taking orders from Commander in Chief General Raoul Cedras. According to a 1996 UN Human Rights Commission report, FRAPH had been supported by the CIA.

Under the military dictatorship, the narcotics trade, was protected by the military Junta, which in turn was supported by the CIA. The 1991 coup leaders including the FRAPH paramilitary commanders were on the CIA payroll. (See Paul DeRienzo,   http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RIE402A.html , See also see Jim Lobe, IPS, 11 Oct 1996). Emmanuel Constant alias “Toto” confirmed, in this regard, in a CBS “60 Minutes” in 1995, that the CIA paid him about $700 a month and that he created FRAPH, while on the CIA payroll. (See Miami Herald, 1 August 2001). According to Constant, the FRAPH had been formed “with encouragement and financial backing from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA.” (Miami New Times, 26 February 2004)

The Civilian “Opposition” 

The so-called “Democratic Convergence” (DC) is a group of some 200 political organizations, led by former Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul.  The “Democratic Convergence” (DC) together with “The Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations” (G-184) has formed a so-called “Democratic Platform of Civil Society Organizations and Opposition Political Parties”.

The Group of 184 (G-184), is headed by Andre (Andy) Apaid, a US citizen of Haitian parents, born in the US. (Haiti Progres, http://www.haiti-progres.com/eng11-12.html ) Andy Apaid owns Alpha Industries, one of Haiti’s largest cheap labor export assembly lines established during the Duvalier era. His sweatshop factories produce textile products and assemble electronic products for a number of US firms including Sperry/Unisys, IBM, Remington and Honeywell. Apaid is the largest industrial employer in Haiti with a workforce of some 4000 workers. Wages paid in Andy Apaid’s factories are as low as 68 cents a day. (Miami Times, 26 Feb 2004). The current minimum wage is of the order of $1.50 a day:

“The U.S.-based National Labor Committee, which first revealed the Kathie Lee Gifford sweat shop scandal, reported several years ago that Apaid’s factories in Haiti’s free trade zone often pay below the minimum wage and that his employees are forced to work 78-hour weeks.” (Daily News, New York, 24 Feb 2004)

Apaid was a firm supporter of the 1991 military coup. Both the Convergence démocratique and the G-184 have links to the FLRN (former  FRAPH death squadrons) headed by Guy Philippe. The FLRN is also known to receive funding from the Haitian business community.

In other words, there is no watertight division between the civilian opposition, which claims to be non-violent and the FLRN paramilitary. The FLRN is collaborating with the so-called “Democratic Platform.”

The Role of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

In Haiti, this “civil society opposition” is bankrolled by the National Endowment for Democracy which works hand in glove with the CIA. The Democratic Platform is supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI) , which is an arm of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Senator John McCain is Chairman of IRI’s Board of Directors. (See Laura Flynn, Pierre Labossière and Robert Roth, Hidden from the Headlines: The U.S. War Against Haiti, California-based Haiti Action Committee (HAC), http://www.haitiprogres.com/eng11-12.html ).

G-184 leader Andy Apaid was in liaison with Secretary of State Colin Powell in the days prior to the kidnapping and deportation of President Aristide by US forces on February 29. His umbrella organization of elite business organizations and religious NGOs, which is also supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI), receives sizeable amounts of money from the European Union.(http://haitisupport.gn.apc.org/184%20EC.htm ).

It is worth recalling that the NED, (which overseas the IRI) although not formally part of the CIA, performs an important intelligence function within the arena of civilian political parties and NGOs. It was created in 1983, when the CIA was being accused of covertly bribing politicians and setting up phony civil society front organizations. According to Allen Weinstein, who was responsible for setting up the NED during the Reagan Administration: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” (‘Washington Post’, Sept. 21, 1991). 

The NED channels congressional funds to the four institutes: The International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS). These organizations are said to be “uniquely qualified to provide technical assistance to aspiring democrats worldwide.” See IRI, http://www.iri.org/history.asp )

In other words, there is a division of tasks between the CIA and the NED. While the CIA provides covert support to armed paramilitary rebel groups and death squadrons, the NED and its four constituent organizations finance “civilian”  political parties and non governmental organizations with a view to instating American “democracy” around the World.

The NED constitutes, so to speak, the CIA’s “civilian arm”. CIA-NED interventions in different part of the World are characterized by a consistent pattern, which is applied in numerous countries.

The NED provided funds to  the “civil society” organizations in Venezuela, which initiated an attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez. In Venezuela it was the “Democratic Coordination”, which was the recipient of NED support; in Haiti it is the “Democratic Convergence” and G-184.

Similarly, in former Yugoslavia, the CIA channeled support to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (since 1995), a paramilitary group involved in terrorist attacks on the Yugoslav police and military. Meanwhile, the NED through the  “Center for International Private Enterprise” (CIPE) was backing the DOS opposition coalition in Serbia and Montenegro. More specifically, NED was financing the G-17, an opposition group of  economists responsible for formulating (in liaison with the IMF) the DOS coalition’s  “free market” reform platform in the 2000 presidential election, which led to the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic.  

The IMF’s Bitter “Economic Medicine”

The IMF and the World Bank are key players in the process of economic and political destabilization. While carried out under the auspices of an intergovernmental body, the IMF reforms tend to support US strategic and foreign policy objectives.

Based on the so-called “Washington consensus”, IMF austerity and restructuring measures through their devastating impacts, often contribute to triggering social and ethnic strife. IMF reforms have often precipitated the downfall of elected governments. In extreme cases of economic and social dislocation, the IMF’s bitter economic medicine has contributed to the destabilization of entire countries, as occurred in Somalia, Rwanda and Yugoslavia. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Second Edition, 2003, http://globalresearch.ca/globaloutlook/GofP.html )

The IMF program is a consistent instrument of economic dislocation. The IMF’s reforms contribute to reshaping and downsizing State institutions through drastic austerity measures. The latter are implemented alongside other forms of intervention and political interference, including CIA covert activities in support of rebel paramilitary groups and opposition political parties.

Moreover, so-called “Emergency Recovery” and “Post-conflict” reforms are often introduced under IMF guidance, in the wake of a civil war, a regime change or “a national emergency”.

In Haiti, the IMF sponsored  “free market” reforms have been carried out consistently since the Duvalier era. They have been applied in several stages since the first election of president Aristide in 1990. 

The 1991 military coup, which took place 8 months following Jean Bertrand Aristide’s accession to the presidency, was in part intended to reverse the Aristide government’s progressive reforms and reinstate the neoliberal policy agenda of the Duvalier era.

A former World Bank official Mr. Marc Bazin was appointed Prime minister by the Military Junta in June 1992. In fact, it was the US State Department which sought his appointment.

Bazin had a track record of working for the “Washington consensus.”  In 1983, he had been appointed Finance Minister under the Duvalier regime, In fact he had been recommended to the Finance portfolio by the IMF: “President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier had agreed to the appointment of an IMF nominee, former World Bank official Marc Bazin, as Minister of Finance”. (Mining Annual Review, June, 1983). Bazin, who was considered Washington’s “favorite”, later ran against Aristide in the 1990 presidential elections.

Bazin, was called in by the Military Junta in 1992 to form a so-called  “consensus government”. It is worth noting that it was precisely during Bazin’s term in office as Prime Minister that the political massacres and extra judicial killings by the CIA supported FRAPH death squadrons were unleashed, leading to the killing of more than 4000 civilians. Some 300,000 people became internal refugees,  “thousands more fled across the border to the Dominican Republic, and more than 60,000 took to the high seas” (Statement of Dina Paul Parks, Executive Director, National Coalition for Haitian Rights, Committee on Senate Judiciary, US Senate, Washington DC, 1 October 2002). Meanwhile, the CIA had launched a smear campaign representing Aristide as “mentally unstable” (Boston Globe, 21 Sept 1994).

The 1994 US Military Intervention

Following three years of military rule, the US intervened in 1994, sending in 20,000 occupation troops and “peace-keepers” to Haiti. The US military intervention was not intended to restore democracy. Quite the contrary: it was carried out to prevent a popular insurrection against the military Junta and its neoliberal cohorts.

In other words, the US military occupation was implemented to ensure political continuity.

While the members of the military Junta were sent into exile, the return to constitutional government required compliance to IMF diktats, thereby foreclosing the possibility of a progressive “alternative” to the neoliberal agenda. Moreover, US troops remained in the country until 1999. The Haitian armed forces were disbanded and the US State Department hired a mercenary company DynCorp to provide “technical advice” in restructuring the Haitian National Police (HNP).

“DynCorp has always functioned as a cut-out for Pentagon and CIA covert operations.” (See Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn,  Counterpunch, February 27, 2002, http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=1988 ) Under DynCorp advice in Haiti, former Tonton Macoute and Haitian military officers involved in the 1991 Coup d’Etat were brought into the HNP. (See Ken Silverstein, Privatizing War, The Nation, July 28, 1997, http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/silver.htm )

In October 1994, Aristide returned from exile and reintegrated the presidency until the end of his mandate in 1996. “Free market” reformers  were brought into his Cabinet. A new wave of deadly macro-economic policies was adopted under a so-called Emergency Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) “that sought to achieve rapid macroeconomic stabilization, restore public administration, and attend to the most pressing needs.” (See IMF Approves Three-Year ESAF Loan for Haiti, Washington, 1996, http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/1996/pr9653.htm ).

The restoration of Constitutional government had been negotiated behind closed doors with Haiti’s external creditors. Prior to Aristide’s reinstatement as the country’s president, the new government was obliged to clear the country’s debt arrears with its external creditors. In fact the new loans provided by the  World Bank, the  Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the IMF were used to meet Haiti’s obligations with international creditors. Fresh money was used to pay back old debt leading to a spiraling external debt.

Broadly coinciding with the military government, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 30 percent (1992-1994). With a per capita income of $250 per annum, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and among the poorest in the world. (see World Bank, Haiti: The Challenges of Poverty Reduction, Washington, August 1998, http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/External/lac/lac.nsf/0/8479e9126e3537f0852567ea000fa239/$FILE/Haiti1.doc ).

The World Bank estimates unemployment to be of the order of 60 percent. (A 2000 US Congressional Report estimates it to be as high as 80 percent. See US House of Representatives, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, FDHC Transcripts, 12 April 2000).

In the wake of three years of military rule and economic decline, there was no “Economic Emergency Recovery” as envisaged under the IMF loan agreement. In fact quite the opposite: The IMF imposed  “stabilization” under the “Recovery” program required further budget cuts in  almost non-existent social sector programs.  A civil service reform program was launched, which consisted in reducing the size of the civil service and the firing of “surplus” State employees. The IMF-World Bank package was in part instrumental in the paralysis of public services, leading to the eventual demise of the entire State system. In a country where health and educational services were virtually nonexistent, the IMF had demanded the lay off of “surplus” teachers and health workers with a view to meeting its target for the budget deficit.   

Washington’s foreign policy initiatives were coordinated with the application of the IMF’s deadly economic medicine. The country had been literally pushed to the brink of economic and social disaster.

The Fate of Haitian Agriculture

More than 75 percent of the Haitian population is engaged in agriculture, producing both food crops for the domestic market as well a number of cash crops for export. Already during the Duvalier era, the peasant economy had been undermined. With the adoption of the IMF-World Bank sponsored trade reforms, the agricultural system, which previously produced food for the local market, had been destabilized. With the lifting of trade barriers, the local market was opened up to the dumping of US agricultural surpluses including rice, sugar and corn, leading to the destruction of the entire peasant economy. Gonaives, which used to be Haiti’s rice basket region, with extensive paddy fields had been precipitated into bankruptcy:

. “By the end of the 1990s Haiti’s local rice production had been reduced by half and rice imports from the US accounted for over half of local rice sales. The local farming population was devastated, and the price of rice rose drastically “ ( See Rob Lyon, Haiti-There is no solution under Capitalism! Socialist Appeal, 24 Feb. 2004, http://cleveland.indymedia.org/news/2004/02/9095.php ).

In matter of a few years, Haiti, a small impoverished country in the Caribbean, had become the World’s fourth largest importer of American rice after Japan, Mexico and Canada.

The Second Wave of IMF Reforms

The presidential elections were scheduled for November 23, 2000. The Clinton Administration had put an embargo on development aid to Haiti in 2000. Barely two weeks prior to the elections, the outgoing administration signed a Letter of Intent with the IMF. Perfect timing: the agreement with the IMF virtually foreclosed from the outset any departure from the neoliberal agenda.

The Minister of Finance had sent the amended budget to the Parliament on December 14th. Donor support was conditional upon its rubber stamp approval by the Legislature. While Aristide had promised to increase the minimum wage, embark on school construction and  literacy programs, the hands of the new government were tied. All major decisions regarding the State budget, the management of the public sector, public investment, privatization, trade and monetary policy had already been taken. They were part of the agreement reached with the IMF on November 6, 2000.

In 2003, the IMF imposed the application of a so-called “flexible price system in fuel”, which immediately triggered an inflationary spiral. The currency was devalued. Petroleum prices increased by about 130 percent in January-February 2003, which served to increase popular resentment against the Aristide government, which had supported the implementation of the IMF economic reforms.

The hike in fuel prices contributed to a 40 percent increase in consumer prices (CPI) in 2002-2003 (See Haiti—Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding, Port-au-Prince, Haiti June 10, 2003, http://www.imf.org/external/np/loi/2003/hti/01/index.htm ). In turn, the IMF had demanded, despite the dramatic increase in the cost of living, a freeze on wages as a means to “controlling inflationary pressures.” The IMF had in fact pressured the government to lower public sector salaries (including those paid to teachers and health workers).  The IMF had also demanded the phasing out of the statutory minimum wage of approximately 25 cents an hour. “Labour market flexibility”, meaning wages paid below the statutory minimum wage would, according to the IMF, contribute to attracting foreign investors. The daily minimum wage was $3.00 in 1994, declining to about $1.50- 1.75 (depending on the gourde-dollar exchange rate) in 2004. 

In an utterly twisted logic, Haiti’s abysmally low wages, which have been part of the IMF-World Bank “cheap labor” policy framework since the 1980s, are viewed as a means to improving the standard of living. In other words, sweatshop conditions in the assembly industries (in a totally unregulated labor market) and forced labor conditions in Haiti’s agricultural plantations are considered by the IMF as a key to achieving economic prosperity, because they “attract foreign investment.” 

The country was in the straightjacket of a spiraling external debt. In a bitter irony, the IMF-World Bank sponsored austerity measures in the social sectors were imposed in a country which has 1,2 medical doctors for 10,000 inhabitants and where the large majority of the population is illiterate. State social services, which were virtually nonexistent during the Duvalier period, have collapsed.

The result of IMF ministrations was a further collapse in purchasing power, which had also affected middle income groups. Meanwhile, interest rates had skyrocketed. In the Northern and Eastern parts of the country, the hikes in fuel prices had led to a virtual paralysis of transportation and public services including water and electricity.

While a humanitarian catastrophe is looming, the collapse of the economy spearheaded by the IMF, had served to boost the popularity of the Democratic Platform, which had accused  Aristide of “economic mismanagement.” Needless to say, the leaders of the Democratic Platform including Andy Apaid –who actually owns the sweatshops– are the main protagonists of the low wage economy.

Applying the Kosovo Model

In February 2003, Washington announced the appointment of James Foley as Ambassador to Haiti . Foley had been a State Department spokesman under the Clinton administration during the war on Kosovo. He previously held a position at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Foley had been sent to Port au Prince in advance of the CIA sponsored operation. He was transferred to Port au Prince in September 2003, from a prestige diplomatic position in Geneva, where he was Deputy Head of Mission to the UN European office.

It is worth recalling Ambassador Foley’s involvement in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1999.

Amply documented, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was financed by drug money and supported by the CIA. ( See Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo Freedom Fighters Financed by Organized Crime, Covert Action Quarterly, 1999, http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/co/2743/1.html )  

The KLA had been involved in similar targeted political assassinations and killings of civilians, in the months leading up to the 1999 NATO invasion as well as in its aftermath.  Following the NATO led invasion and occupation of Kosovo, the KLA was transformed into the Kosovo Protection Force (KPF) under UN auspices. Rather than being disarmed to prevent the massacres of civilians, a terrorist organization with links to organized crime and the Balkans drug trade, was granted a legitimate political status.

At the time of the Kosovo war, the current ambassador to Haiti James Foley was in charge of State Department briefings, working closely with his NATO counterpart in Brussels, Jamie Shea. Barely two months before the onslaught of the NATO led war on 24 March 1999, James Foley had called for the “transformation” of the KLA into a respectable political organization:

We want to develop a good relationship with them [the KLA] as they transform themselves into a politically-oriented organization,’ ..`[W]e believe that we have a lot of advice and a lot of help that we can provide to them if they become precisely the kind of political actor we would like to see them become… “If we can help them and they want us to help them in that effort of transformation, I think it’s nothing that anybody can argue with..’ (quoted in the New York Times, 2 February 1999)

In the wake of the invasion “a self-proclaimed Kosovar administration was set up composed of the KLA and the Democratic Union Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties opposed to Rugova’s Democratic League (LDK). In addition to the position of prime minister, the KLA controlled the ministries of finance, public order and defense.” (Michel Chossudovsky, NATO’s War of Aggression against Yugoslavia, 1999, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO309C.html )

The US State Department’s position as conveyed in Foley’s statement was that the KLA would “not be allowed to continue as a military force but would have the chance to move forward in their quest for self government under a ‘different context’” meaning the inauguration of a de facto “narco-democracy” under NATO protection. (Ibid).

With regard to the drug trade, Kosovo and Albania occupy a similar position to that of Haiti: they constitute “a hub” in the transit (transshipment) of narcotics from the Golden Crescent, through Iran and Turkey into Western Europe. While supported by the CIA, Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) and NATO, the KLA has links to the Albanian Mafia and criminal syndicates involved in the narcotics trade.( See Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo Freedom Fighters Financed by Organized Crime, Covert Action Quarterly, 1999, http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/co/2743/1.html )  

Is this the model for Haiti, as formulated in 1999 by the current US Ambassador to Haiti James Foley?

For the CIA and the State Department the FLRN and Guy Philippe are to Haiti what the KLA and Hashim Thaci are to Kosovo.

In other words, Washington’s design is “regime change”: topple the Lavalas administration and install a compliant US puppet regime, integrated by the Democratic Platform and the self-proclaimed Front pour la libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN), whose leaders are former FRAPH and Tonton Macoute terrorists. The latter are slated to integrate a “national unity government” alongside the leaders of the Democratic Convergence and The Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations led by Andy Apaid. More specifically, the FLRN led by Guy Philippe is slated to rebuild the Haitian Armed forces, which were disbanded in 1995.

What is at stake is an eventual power sharing arrangement between the various Opposition groups and the CIA supported Rebels, which have links to the cocaine transit trade from Colombia via Haiti to Florida. The protection of this trade has a bearing on the formation of a new “narco-government”, which will serve US interests.

A bogus (symbolic) disarmament of the Rebels may be contemplated under international supervision, as occurred with the KLA in Kosovo in 2000. The “former terrorists” could then be integrated into the civilian police as well as into the task of “rebuilding” the Haitian Armed forces under US supervision.

What this scenario suggests, is that the Duvalier-era terrorist structures have been restored. A program of civilian killings and political assassinations directed against Lavalas supporter is in fact already underway.

In other words, if Washington were really motivated by humanitarian considerations, why then is it supporting and financing the FRAPH death squadrons? Its objective is not to prevent the massacre of civilians. Modeled on previous CIA led operations (e.g. Guatemala, Indonesia, El Salvador), the FLRN death squadrons have been set loose and are involved in targeted political assassinations of Aristide supporters.

The Narcotics Transshipment Trade

While the real economy had been driven into bankruptcy under the brunt of the IMF reforms, the narcotics transshipment trade continues to flourish.  According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Haiti remains “the major drug trans-shipment country for the entire Caribbean region, funneling huge shipments of cocaine from Colombia to the United States.” (See US House of Representatives, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, FDHC Transcripts, 12 April 2000). 

It is estimated that  Haiti is now responsible for 14 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States, representing billions of dollars of revenue for organized crime and US financial institutions, which launder vast amounts of dirty money. The global trade in narcotics is estimated to be of the order of 500 billion dollars.

Much of this transshipment trade goes directly to Miami, which also constitutes a haven for the recycling of dirty money into bona fide investments, e.g. in real estate and other related activities.

The evidence confirms that the CIA was protecting this trade during the Duvalier era as well as during the military dictatorship (1991-1994). In 1987, Senator John Kerry as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was entrusted with a major investigation, which  focused  on the links between the CIA and the drug trade, including the laundering of drug money to finance armed insurgencies. “The  Kerry Report” published in 1989, while centering its attention on the financing of the Nicaraguan Contra, also included a section on Haiti: 

“Kerry had developed detailed information on drug trafficking by Haiti’s military rulers that led to the indictment in Miami in 1988, of Lt. Col. Jean Paul. The indictment was a major embarrassment to the Haitian military, especially since Paul defiantly refused to surrender to U.S. authorities.. In November 1989, Col. Paul was found dead after he consumed a traditional Haitian good will gift—a bowel of pumpkin soup…

The U.S. senate also heard testimony in 1988 that then interior minister, Gen. Williams Regala, and his DEA liaison officer, protected and supervised cocaine shipments. The testimony also charged the then Haitian military commander Gen. Henry Namphy with accepting bribes from Colombian traffickers in return for landing rights in the mid 1980’s.

It was in 1989 that yet another military coup brought Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril to power… According to a witness before Senator John Kerry’s subcommittee, Avril is in fact a major player in Haiti’s role as a transit point in the cocaine trade.” ( Paul DeRienzo, Haiti’s Nightmare: The Cocaine Coup & The CIA Connection, Spring 1994, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RIE402A.html )

Jack Blum, who was Kerry’s Special Counsel, points to the complicity of US officials in a 1996 statement to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Drug Trafficking and the Contra War:

“...In Haiti …  intelligence “sources” of ours in the Haitian military had turned their facilities over to the drug cartels. Instead of putting pressure on the rotten leadership of the military, we defended them. We held our noses and looked the other way as they and their criminal friends in the United States distributed cocaine in Miami, Philadelphia and New, York.

(http://www.totse.com/en/politics/central_intelligence_agency/ciacont2.html )

Haiti not only remains at the hub of the transshipment cocaine trade, the latter has grown markedly since the 1980s. The current crisis bears a relationship to Haiti’s role in the drug trade. Washington wants a compliant Haitian government which will protect the drug transshipment routes, out of Colombia through Haiti and into Florida.

The inflow of narco-dollars –which remains the major source of the country’s foreign exchange earnings– are used to service Haiti’s spiraling external debt, thereby also serving the interests of the external creditors.

In this regard, the liberalization of the foreign-exchange market imposed by the IMF has provided (despite the authorities pro forma commitment to combating the drug trade) a convenient avenue for the laundering of narco-dollars in the domestic banking system. The inflow of narco-dollars alongside bona fide “remittances” from Haitians living abroad, are deposited in the commercial banking system and exchanged into local currency. The foreign exchange proceeds of these inflows can then be recycled towards the Treasury where they are used to meet debt servicing obligations.

Haiti, however, reaps a very small percentage of the total foreign exchange proceeds of this lucrative contraband. Most of the revenue resulting from the cocaine transshipment trade accrues to criminal intermediaries in the wholesale and retail narcotics trade, to the intelligence agencies which protect the drug trade as well as to the financial and banking institutions where the proceeds of this criminal activity are laundered. 

The narco-dollars are also channeled into “private banking” accounts in numerous offshore banking havens. (These havens are controlled by the large Western banks and financial institutions). Drug money is also invested in a number of financial instruments including hedge funds and stock market transactions. The major Wall Street and European banks and stock brokerage firms launder billions of dollars resulting from the trade in narcotics.

Moreover, the expansion of the dollar denominated money supply by the Federal Reserve System , including the printing of billions of dollars of US dollar notes for the purposes of narco-transactions constitutes profit for the Federal Reserve and its constituent private banking institutions of which the most important is the New York Federal Reserve Bank. See (Jeffrey Steinberg, Dope, Inc. Is $600 Billion and Growing, Executive Intelligence Review, 14 Dec 2001, http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2001/2848dope_money.html

In other words, the Wall Street financial establishment, which plays a behind the scenes role in the formulation of US foreign policy, has a vested interest in retaining the Haiti transshipment trade, while installing a reliable “narco-democracy” in Port-au-Prince, which will effectively protect the transshipment routes.

It should be noted that since the advent of the Euro as a global currency, a significant share of the narcotics trade is now conducted in Euro rather than US dollars. In other words, the Euro and the dollar are competing narco-currencies.

The Latin American cocaine trade –including the transshipment trade through Haiti– is largely conducted in US dollars.  This shift out of dollar denominated narco-transactions, which undermines the hegemony of the US dollar as a global currency, largely pertains to the Middle East, Central Asian and the Southern European drug routes.

Media Manipulation

In the weeks leading up to the Coup d’Etat, the media has largely focused its attention on the pro-Aristide “armed gangs” and “thugs”,  without providing an understanding of the role of the FLRN Rebels.

Deafening silence: not a word was mentioned in official statements and UN resolutions regarding the nature of the FLRN.  This should come as no surprise: the US Ambassador to the UN  (the man who sits on the UN Security Council) John Negroponte.  played a key role in the CIA supported Honduran death squadrons in the 1980s when he was US ambassador to Honduras. (See San Francisco Examiner, 20 Oct 2001  http://www.flora.org/mai/forum/31397 )

The FLRN rebels are extremely well equipped and trained forces. The Haitian people know who they are. They are Tonton Macoute of the Duvalier era and former FRAPH assassins.

The Western media is mute on the issue, blaming the violence on President Aristide. When it acknowledges that the Liberation Army is composed of death squadrons, it fails to examine the broader implications of its statements and that these death squadrons are a creation of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The New York Times has acknowledged that the “non violent” civil society opposition is in fact collaborating with the death squadrons, “accused of killing thousands”, but all this is described as “accidental”. No historical understanding is provided. Who are these death squadron leaders?  All we are told is that they have established an “alliance” with the “non-violent” good guys who belong to the “political opposition”. And it is all for a good and worthy cause, which is to remove the elected president and “restore democracy”: 

“As Haiti’s crisis lurches toward civil war, a tangled web of alliances, some of them accidental, has emerged. It has linked the interests of a political opposition movement that has embraced nonviolence to a group of insurgents that includes a former leader of death squads accused of killing thousands, a former police chief accused of plotting a coup and a ruthless gang once aligned with Mr. Aristide that has now turned against him. Given their varied origins, those arrayed against Mr. Aristide are hardly unified, though they all share an ardent wish to see him removed from power.” (New York Times,  26 Feb 2004)

There is nothing spontaneous or “accidental” in the rebel attacks or in the “alliance” between the leader of the death squadrons Guy Philippe and Andy Apaid, owner of the largest industrial sweatshop in Haiti and leader of the G-184. 

The armed rebellion was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation. The Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic had detected guerilla training camps inside the Dominican Republic on the Northeast Haitian-Dominican border. ( El ejército dominicano informó a Aristide sobre los entrenamientos rebeldes en la frontera, El Caribe, 27 Feb. 2004, http://www.elcaribe.com.do/articulo_multimedios.aspx?id=2645&guid=AB38144D39B24C6FBA4213AC40DD3A01&Seccion=64 )

Both the armed rebels and their civilian “non-violent” counterparts were involved in the plot to unseat the president. G-184 leader Andre Apaid was in touch with Colin Powell in the weeks leading up to the overthrow of Aristide;  Guy Philippe and “Toto” Emmanuel Constant have links to the CIA; there are indications that Rebel Commander Guy Philippe and the political leader of the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front Winter Etienne were in liaison with US officials. (See BBC, 27 Feb 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3496690.stm ).

While the US had repeatedly stated that it will uphold Constitutional government, the replacement of Aristide by a more compliant individual had always been part of the Bush Administration’s agenda.

On Feb 20, US Ambassador James Foley called in a team of four military experts from the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami. Officially their mandate was “to assess threats to the embassy and its personnel.” (Seattle Times, 20 Feb 2004). US Special Forces are already in the country. Washington had announced that three US naval vessels “have been put on standby to go to Haiti as a precautionary measure”. The Saipan is equipped with Vertical takeoff Harrier fighters and attack helicopters. The other two vessels are the Oak Hill and Trenton.  Some 2,200 U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. could be deployed to Haiti at short notice, according to Washington.

With the departure of President Aristide, Washington, however, has no intention of disarming its proxy rebel paramilitary army, which is now slated to play a role in the “transition”. In other words, the Bush administration will not act to prevent the occurrence of killings and political assassinations of Lavalas and Aristide supporters in the wake of the president’s kidnapping and deportation.

Needless to say, the Western media has not in the least analyzed the historical background of the Haitian crisis. The role played by the CIA has not been mentioned. The so-called “international community”, which claims to be committed to governance and democracy, has turned a blind eye to the killings of civilians by a US sponsored paramilitary army. The “rebel leaders”, who were commanders in the FRAPH death squadrons in the 1990s, are now being upheld by the US media as bona fide opposition spokesmen. Meanwhile, the legitimacy of the former elected president is questioned because he is said to be responsible for “a worsening economic and social situation.” 

The worsening economic and social situation is largely attributable to the devastating economic reforms imposed by the IMF since the  1980s. The restoration of Constitutional government in 1994 was conditional upon the acceptance of the IMF’s deadly economic therapy, which in turn foreclosed the possibility of a meaningful democracy. High ranking government officials respectively within the Andre Preval and Jean Bertrand Aristide governments were indeed compliant with IMF diktats. Despite this compliance, Aristide had been “blacklisted” and demonized by Washington.  

The Militarization of the Caribbean Basin

Washington seeks to reinstate Haiti as a full-fledged US colony, with all the appearances of a functioning democracy. The objective is to impose a puppet regime in Port-au-Prince and establish a permanent US military presence in Haiti. 

The US Administration ultimately seeks to militarize the Caribbean basin.

The island of Hispaniola is a gateway to the Caribbean basin, strategically located between Cuba to the North West and Venezuela to the South.  The militarization of the island, with the establishment of US military bases, is not only intended to put political pressure on Cuba and Venezuela, it is also geared towards the protection of the multibillion dollar narcotics transshipment trade through Haiti, from production sites in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

The militarisation of the Caribbean basin is, in some regards, similar to that imposed by Washington on the Andean Region of South America under “Plan Colombia’, renamed “The Andean Initiative”. The latter constitutes the basis for the militarisation of oil and gas wells, as well as pipeline routes and transportation corridors. It also protects the narcotics trade.

The Hottest Trend out of Hollywood: “War Sells!”

February 28th, 2013 by Global Research

In this day and age, “selling war” on the big screen has become a vastly lucrative enterprise, and business is booming.

This past week, television broadcasters worldwide have been particularly enthusiastic in celebrating a glorified image of war and violence as promoted by big media and the film industry. Last Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony generously bestowed its highest accolades on films (unsurprisingly produced by the West) that effectively and insidiously distort the truth on armed conflict and feed large demographics completely biased and inaccurate views of war theatres around the globe.

What the corporate-funded Hollywood propaganda machine counts on is that not only will the broad viewing public buy into its invented “truths”, but that in doing so the idea of war – in particular the absurd oxymoron of “humanitarian war” – will come to be increasingly accepted by a populace growing more and more numb to the violence being splashed across its screens.

We are being programmed to believe in lies and that the road to peace is through war.

In the words of Dr. David Halpin:

“‘The vortex sucks forever louder’. The Project for the New America strides on. Populations become more inured to the killing and the shredding. ‘No mother and child should be in the least harmed, anywhere in our still beautiful world’ are not the thoughts of most leaders, especially those in the US/UK/Israel axis.

Many feel the terrible pain of others and know the lies. They turn to Global Research where there is expertise in so many areas, and where there is truth – that rarity. To find that one’s intuitive analysis is being expressed by contributors to Global Research gives courage for the continued slog.”
- David Halpin, FRCS (Click for all articles. For more info: http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/)

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Hollywood-Style History

February 28th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Hollywood’s complicity with Washington is longstanding. Movie moguls are duplicitous. The only thing they like better than good films are good deals.

Washington’s requests are prioritized. Scripts feature pro-Western propaganda. “Operation Hollywood” explains.

Daily Variety/Hollywood Reporter David Robb’s bookdiscussed Hollywood’s longstanding relationship with the Pentagon.

It began post-WW 1. The 1927 silent film “Wings” starred Clara Bow. It launched Gary Cooper’s career. It was about two WW I fighter pilot friends. It won Hollywood’s first best picture award.

Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies” tells more. Clayton Koppes and Gregory Black explained. It discusses Franklin Roosevelt’s Office of War Information. It had enormous influence on Hollywood.

It impacted wartime filmmaking. Anyone growing up at the time remembers. WW II films proliferated. They’re still shown on late night TV. Cable channels feature them. Government censors had final say. They controlled everything from casting to production.

Studio bosses were well compensated to collude. Long before Pearl Harbor, film content promoted war. In 1939, Warner Bros. premiered “Confessions of a Nazi Spy.” It claimed Germany sought world conquest. It was before anyone knew Hitler’s full intentions.

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” burlesqued Hitler, Mussolini, and Nazism. Other films featured war propaganda. Once America was attacked, they proliferated.

No plot too far-fetched was omitted. Even Tarzan was exploited. He waged war on Nazism in “Tarzan Triumphs.”

Hitler was no match for the king of the jungle. He defeated German invaders singlehanded. An elephant blitzkrieg helped.

Movie moguls supported the war effort. Most of all they prioritized profits. They claim they give people what they want. They reinvent history doing so.

Pentagon generals supported and approved “Top Gun.” A special Film Liason Office overseas propaganda filmmaking. It focuses on ones related to war. It chooses ones it wants.

It has final say on content and characters. It makes no secret of its purpose. It wants pro-Western propaganda featured. Few war films go other ways.

Zero Dark Thirty chronicled the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It’s grotesque, dishonest, and fabricated. It opened days before Christmas last year. It reinvented history. Bin Laden was dead and buried. In December 2001, he died naturally.

Hollywood and Obama claimed otherwise. History is reinvented. Doing so is shameless and duplicitous. It says more about America’s imperial agenda than truth.

It exploits 9/11 events. It ignored clear evidence. David Ray Griffin wrote 10 convincing books. America’s false flag struck the Pentagon, downed the twin towers, and Building 7.

Doing so launched overt and covert war on terror. It rages lawlessly at home and abroad. Hollywood marches in lockstep. Movie moguls misinform, manipulate public sentiment, and manufacture consent.

They convince people to support what demands condemnation. They persuade them to hate alleged enemies. They glorify war in the name of peace.

They proliferate Big Lies. They stoke fear. They aid and abet state crimes. They convince people that Washington’s wars are justified because they say so.

They call waging war on humanity liberating struggles. They believe might justifies right. Destroying nations to free them is OK.

Zero Dark Thirty reinvents history. It chronicles a hunt for a dead man. It turns rogue CIA agents into heroes. It’s long, boring, and dishonest. Much of what the film portrays has no connection to bin Laden.

It argues that torture works. Brutalizing detainees helped discover his whereabouts, it claims. Extrajudicial killing is glorified. Misfits become heroes. Crimes of war and against humanity are waged for our own good.

Hollywood and the mainstream media produce this stuff. They do so for profit. They’re unapologetic. Anything for a buck is OK. Propagandizing is the American way.

On February 24, Argo won top honors. Hollywood’s 85th Academy Awards chose it the year’s top film. It should have been denounced instead of honored.

It relates a little-known 1979/1980 Iranian hostage crisis episode. Demonstrators stormed Washington’s Tehran embassy. Fifty-three Americans were held captive for 444 days.

A generation of repressive Reza Shah Pahlavi rule went unexplained. He was Washington’s man in Tehran.

Six Americans escaped. Former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor sheltered them in his home. He’s highly critical. He said script writer Chris Terrio misportrayed events.

The film recounts their rescue. It downplays Canada’s involvement. Terrio took creative liberties. Scenes were fabricated. People were mischaracterized. Iran’s “more hospitable side” was omitted.

Argo is malicious, unjust, and one-sided. It’s Hollywood propaganda at its worst. It foments anti-Iranian hatred. It stereotypically portrays Iran according to pro-Western misinformation.

Press TV called Argo “Iranophobic.” It’s Hollywood-style “Machiavellian maneuvering.” Film critic Kim Nicolini was quoted. She expected Argo to win. She said there’s nothing remotely “best” about it.

It’s “a piece of conservative (pro-Western) propaganda created by Hollywood to support the Obama administration’s” positioning ahead of last November’s presidential election.

“It also primes the war wheels for an American-supported Israeli attack on Iran, so that (Iran bashers) can feel okay about the war when they cast their vote for Obama in November (2012).”

Film director Ben Affleck reinvented history. Students who stormed Washington’s embassy believed it was a den of espionage. Overthrowing the new Islamic Republic was prioritized.

Affleck’s ignored the larger story. His film is one-sided. It’s “a sanitized version of events,” said Nicolini.

“(T)here’s nothing authentic about (its) manipulation of historical events.” It’s “pure political propaganda.”

“Given the vast number of people who have died in the Middle East (Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, etc.), why should we give so much attention to 6 white American diplomats who were saved by Hollywood and the CIA?”

“What about all the other people from so many cultural demographics who have and are continuing to be massacred, murdered and tortured daily?”

In 1979, Masoumeh Ebtekar was students’ spokeswoman. She hoped Argo would portray events accurately. She’s sorely disappointed.

“The group who took over the American Embassy were a group of young, very orderly and quite calm men and women,” she said.

Argo’s portrayal is wholly inaccurate. It’s fiction, not fact. It bears no relation to truth. It’s Hollywood-style rubbish.

It’s politically motivated. It leaves the 1981 Algiers Accords unmentioned. Iran and Washington signed it. Most Iranian assets were unblocked.

A day later, 53 US hostages were released. It was moments before Reagan was inaugurated. Washington wants US/Iranian conciliation concealed.

Argo ignored what it should have featured. It reinvented history. It did so Hollywood-style. It sacrificed truth. It bashed Iran in the process.

It’s part of Washington’s propaganda machine. It shouldn’t surprise. Doing so is longstanding. Hollywood does it for profit. It’s the American way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and 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 and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/hollywood-style-history/

US Moves Towards Open Arming of Syrian Opposition

February 28th, 2013 by Chris Marsden

In the lead-up to today’s Friends of Syria summit meeting in Rome, the United States has signalled a shift in policy, towards openly arming the Syrian opposition that is fighting a US proxy war to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This took place via carefully choreographed political theatre between US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, European countries including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and the Syrian opposition itself.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition threatened to boycott the summit, ostensibly leaving Syria’s friends with no one to claim friendship with. This was Kerry’s cue to make repeated assurances of additional support while touring Europe’s capitals, in the run-up to the Rome summit and his upcoming tour of the Middle East.

Meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, Kerry promised that new American support for the SNC would “come to maturity by the time we meet in Rome”. Other US measures would be discussed if the opposition attended the Friends of Syria meeting.

Kerry insisted the US was still pursuing a political resolution, suggesting that direct military aid was not on the immediate agenda. But he added: “We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind, wondering where the support is, if it is coming.” “I want our friends in the Syrian opposition council to know that we are not coming to Rome simply to talk. We are coming to Rome to make a decision on next steps,” he added. Hague also urged the opposition to stay involved in talks, promising that the UK believes “we must significantly increase our support for the Syrian opposition, on top of our large contributions to the humanitarian relief effort, and we are preparing to do just that.”

European diplomats said the leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, had told the Italian government his delegation would be attending the summit Thursday. Walid al-Bunni, a spokesman for the SNC, said on Monday the move came after a phone call between al-Khatib and Kerry.

The discussion of increased aid came against a background of media reports—most prominently in the New York Times —that arms shipments to the opposition were on the increase, funded by Gulf states and in some cases originating in Croatia and other eastern European states.

The weapons were reportedly shipped via Jordan and Turkey. David Ottaway of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said, “I think it’s a US-Jordanian-Saudi operation—the same three groups that have worked together in the past trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I do not think Jordan would be doing this on its own.”

“Indeed, we procured new anti-aircraft and heavy defensive weapons donated from Arab and non-Arab countries recently,” Louay Almokdad, political and media coordinator for the Free Syrian Army, told CNN Sunday.

Several rebel commanders and fighters told Reuters that a shipment that reached Syria via Turkey last month comprised shoulder-held and other mobile equipment including anti-aircraft and armour-piercing weapons, mortars and rocket launchers. The weapons, along with money to pay fighters, were all being distributed through a new command structure set up to funnel foreign aid in part as a means of controlling the opposition and minimising the influence of Al-Qaeda type groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.

Reuters reported, “The rebels refused to specify who supplied the new weapons, saying they did not want to embarrass foreign supporters, but said they had arrived openly via Turkey ‘from donor countries’. ‘We have received this shipment legally and normally. It was not delivered through smuggling routes but formally through Bab al-Hawa crossing,’ said a rebel commander.”

A Reuters photographer in Damascus saw western-built rebel firearms including US pattern M4 and Austrian Steyr assault rifles.

One rebel commander said of the money and arms supplied, “So basically it’s like we have paid in advance. It is funded by the countries that will be involved in reconstruction of Syria.”

The chief of staff of the rebel military command, Brigadier Selim Idris, said the presence of foreign fighters was hindering international support for the battle against Assad, while claiming: “We are not receiving weapons from the Europeans, we do not want to embarrass them, we do not want to embarrass anyone with the weapons issue.”

Following Kerry’s declaration in London, the Washington Post and CNN both reported that the Obama administration was moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide rebels with equipment such as body armour and armoured vehicles, and possibly military training.

The Washington Post said the Obama administration is looking to remove restrictions on “dual-use” equipment, involving communications, body armour, flak jackets, night-vision equipment and military vehicles. “They are doing a redefinition of what is lethal,” a source said. “They have been working on this for a while.”

CNN stated that the changes are under discussion with US allies as part of Kerry’s tour and is being done in coordination with the European powers. Each European Union nation would decide on its own what to supply, the official said.

The Post noted, “Kerry has repeatedly made indirect references to a policy shift during his travels. He told a group of German students Tuesday that the United States wants a ‘peaceful resolution’ in Syria, but if its leaders refuse to negotiate and continue to kill citizens, ‘then you need to at least provide some kind of support’ for those fighting for their rights.”

Britain and France have both pushed to lift an EU arms embargo on Syria, but met with opposition in the bloc, which led to it being renewed for three months. The EU inserted a clause, however, allowing member countries “to provide greater non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians.”

An EU official spoke candidly to the Washington Post, explaining, “Under the old EU setup, we couldn’t do anything,” whereas the new rule will allow “things that don’t of themselves kill people.”

“We’re talking about things that can be helpful on the ground—bulletproof jackets, binoculars and communications,” another said.

The duplicity of the US and its European allies is made necessary by an attempt to preserve the illusion that they are seeking a diplomatic solution. Kerry even complained to the SNC that its boycott was undermining him on the eve of a meeting with Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Berlin Tuesday.

Speaking from Moscow on Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem offered talks with the opposition, including those that have taken up arms. Lavrov urged support for the Assad regime’s initiative, warning that further fighting could lead to “the breakup of the Syrian state”.

“The Syrian people should decide their fate without external intervention,” said Lavrov, citing “sensible forces who are increasingly aware of the necessity to begin the talks as soon as possible to reach a political settlement.”

Whatever diplomatic noises are made, Washington is pushing for regime change in Syria, working through its proxies: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. On Tuesday, delegates from the Friends of Syria International Working Group, meeting in Sofia, called for sanctions to be imposed by “all members of the international community, especially members of the United Nations Security Council”— targeting Russia and China for their opposition to such measures.

Regularly now, The Washington Post, as always concerned with fairness and balance, runs a blog called “Right Turn: Jennifer Rubin’s Take From a Conservative Perspective.”

The blog tells us what the Post regards as conservatism.

On Monday, Rubin declared that America’s “greatest national security threat is Iran.” Do conservatives really believe this?

How is America, with thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, scores of warships in the Med, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, bombers and nuclear subs and land-based missiles able to strike and incinerate Iran within half an hour, threatened by Iran?

Iran has no missile that can reach us, no air force or navy that would survive the first days of war, no nuclear weapons, no bomb-grade uranium from which to build one. All of her nuclear facilities are under constant United Nations surveillance and inspection.

And if this Iran is the “greatest national security threat” faced by the world’s last superpower, why do Iran’s nearest neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan — seem so unafraid of her?

Citing The Associated Press and Times of Israel, Rubin warns us that “Iran has picked 16 new locations for nuclear plants.”

How many nuclear plants does Iran have now? One, Bushehr.

Begun by the Germans under the shah, Bushehr was taken over by the Russians in 1995, but not completed for 16 years, until 2011. In their dreams, the Iranians, their economy sinking under U.S. and U.N. sanctions, are going to throw up 16 nuclear plants.

Twice Rubin describes our situation today as “scary.”

Remarkable. Our uncles and fathers turned the Empire of the Sun and Third Reich into cinders in four years, and this generation is all wee-weed up over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“For all intents and purposes, (Bibi) Netanyahu is now the West’s protector,” says Rubin. How so? Because Obama and Chuck Hagel seem to lack the testosterone “to execute a military strike on Iran.”

Yet, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Bibi first warned in 1992 that Iran was on course to get the bomb — in three to five years! And still no bomb.

And Bibi has since been prime minister twice. Why has our Lord Protector not manned up and dealt with Iran himself?

Answer: He wants us to do it — and us to take the consequences.

“With regard to Afghanistan, the president is pulling up stakes prematurely,” says Rubin.

As we are now in the 12th year of war in Afghanistan, and about to leave thousands of troops behind when we depart in 2014, what is she talking about?

“In Iraq, the absence of U.S. forces on the ground has ushered in a new round of sectarian violence and opened the door for Iran’s growing violence.”

Where to begin. Shia Iran has influence in Iraq because we invaded Iraq, dethroned Sunni Saddam, disbanded his Sunni-led army that had defeated Iran in an eight-year war and presided over the rise to power of the Iraqi Shia majority that now tilts to Iran.

Today’s Iraq is a direct consequence of our war, our invasion, our occupation. That’s our crowd in Baghdad, cozying up to Iran.

And the cost of that war to strip Iraq of weapons it did not have? Four thousand five hundred American dead, 35,000 wounded, $1 trillion and 100,000 Iraqi dead. Half a million widows and orphans. A centuries-old Christian community ravaged. And, yes, an Iraq tilting to Iran and descending into sectarian, civil and ethnic war. A disaster of epochal proportions.

But that disaster was not the doing of Barack Obama, but of people of the same semi-hysterical mindset as Ms. Rubin.

She writes that for the rest of Obama’s term, we “are going to have to rely on France, Israel, our superb (albeit underfunded) military and plain old luck to prevent national security catastrophes.”

Is she serious?

Is French Prime Minister Francois Hollande really one of the four pillars of U.S national security now? Is Israel our security blanket, or is it maybe the other way around? And if America spends as much on defense as all other nations combined, and is sheltered behind the world’s largest oceans, why should we Americans be as frightened as Rubin appears to be?

Undeniably we face challenges. A debt-deficit crisis that could sink our economy. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, Africa, Arabia, Iraq and Syria. North Korea’s nukes. A clash between China and Japan that drags us in. An unstable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

But does Iran, a Shia island in a Sunni sea, a Persian-dominated land where half the population is non-Persian, a country whose major exports, once we get past fossil fuels, are pistachio nuts, carpets and caviar, really pose the greatest national security threat to the world’s greatest nation?

We outlasted the evil empire of Lenin and Stalin that held captive a billion people for 45 years of Cold War, and we are frightened by a rickety theocracy ruled by an old ayatollah?

Rubin’s blog may be the Post’s idea of conservatism. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com .

This article was originally posted at Creators Syndicate

Ouput vs. Employment: America’s Disappearing Jobs

February 28th, 2013 by Kevin Zeese

After his State of the Union, President Obama took a jobs tour to call for growth in the manufacturing base where only 6% of US jobs exist.  This was a charade.  It would be like a president touring horse, buggy and blacksmiths in search of jobs when Henry Ford was mass producing cars. 

Real manufacturing output today is near an all-time high. What’s dropped precipitously in recent decades is manufacturing employment.

The technology of automation and robotics is ending manufacturing jobs. The president was on a quest for jobs where none exist, will not exist and should not exist. The US with 4% of the world’s population is responsible for 20% of manufacturing output. More manufacturing is not coming to the United States. – See more at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/ouput-vs-employment-americas-disappearing-jobs/5324614#sthash.WuAZAUmP.dpuf
See also: http://www.bea.gov/iTable/index_industry.cfm and  http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/MANEMP
Too Big to Make Money?

Both the president and Mitt Romney embraced the tar sands and pipelines as job sources, but they bring a false promise with devastating consequences for the environment and economy.  It will take only 20 people to run the notorious Keystone XL pipeline once it is completed and estimates vary widely as to how many temporary jobs it will create from 2,500 to 20,000. That is not many jobs. The project is bad for the economy; it will increase the likelihood of climate change, continues to rely on the old carbon market that is cutting jobs and misses an opportunity to build a new sustainable energy economy that will create jobs.

Other policies inadvertently create lousy jobs and underemployment.  The Affordable Care Act is having that effect as employers seek to evade the health insurance requirements by reducing workers hours primarily in retail, food and university sectors. If the US had adopted a single payer Medicare for all system, a 2009 study found it would have created a net 2.2 million jobs.

As we have noted previously, austerity will destroy jobs and send the economy into recession. The most recent study on the sequester shows up to 2.14 million jobs at risk. And, with two-thirds of the Progressive Caucus refusing to sign a letter to protect Social Security and Medicare from cuts, a “Grand Bargain” solution to the sequester could make things even worse. This all comes on top of a rapid decline in government spending that is preventing economic recovery.

The lack of concern for US workers can be found in a report this week that 40% of Americans now earn less than the 1968 minimum wage. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity, it would be $16.50 not $7.25. In fact, half the population of the US has slipped into poverty or is barely making enough to get by.

While Americans sink into poverty and underemployment with shrinking incomes, the government continues to reward big business interests.  Bloomberg editors last week criticized the fact that taxpayers provide banks with subsidies amounting to $83 billion each year.

David Cay Johnston, a top tax and finance policy expert, reports that tax havens for the wealthy cost states $38 billion annually.  Another tax haven sham involving billions of dollars highlighted last week is reinsurance in Bermuda. Send your money to the reinsurnance company and it sends almost all of it back, cleansing the money of tax consequences.

So, what should the US be doing about disappearing jobs?

John Walsh suggests that Americans should be mobilizing for a shorter work week with no cut in pay. He urges “32 hours work for 40 hours pay. For a work force of 139 million as in 2010, that translates into 34.8 million additional jobs, i.e., 25% more jobs.”

Not only should there be no reduction in income, but the minimum wage should be raised.  This would boost the economy and create jobs.

Clean energy advocates urge building a sustainable clean energy economy noting that the solar industry creates jobs six times faster than the overall job market and a clean energy economy could create millions of jobs without the environmental risks of tar sands, fracking or nuclear energy.

As we point out above, a single payer Medicare for all health system would create 2.6 million jobs, netting 2.2 million after the insurance industry lost jobs.

And, getting money back into the system by closing corporate tax loopholes, like some of the tax havens described here as well as putting a small tax on Wall Street’s speculative transactions, would raise  $1 trillion per year as is being done in Europe. This money could be used to fund much needed programs such as building a new energy infrastructure, hiring teachers and other state and local workers while at the same time reducing the wealth divide.

This review of the week’s news contains just a few suggestions consistent with the agenda of It’s Our Economy. Think of the side effects: more leisure time, less poverty, a cleaner environment, health care for all, a shrinking wealth divide and less speculation on Wall Street.  As we have noted before creating jobs has many positive side effects, yet neither party has put forward a serious jobs program or mentions a full employment economy.

That’s why it is up to us to democratize the economy and push for real solutions to our crises. The first step is awareness of the possibilities. Please forward this email to others who might be interested. And visit the website for information about the upcoming Participatory Budgeting and Public Banking Conferences. Mark your calendars for the Democracy Convention Aug. 7 to 11 in Madison, WI.

This article is based on the weekly free newsletter of It’s Our Economy. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here.

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Democracy Canadian-style

February 28th, 2013 by Eric Walberg

Given Canada’s neo-realpolitik internationally, it is no surprise that Canadian domestic affairs are following an identical logic. In the past, Canada appeared to stand apart from such settler colonies as the US and Australia in dealing more fairly with its natives. John Ralston Saul argues for the “originality of the Canadian project”, that contained elements of a rejection of the Enlightenment project of Europe/ the US, which was based on secular rationality and liberal revolution. Canada was never a monolithic nation state, but rather based on consensus, incorporating the native philosophy of man as part of nature. Canada’s policy of constant immigration furthermore fuelled the need for a multicultural “intercultural” ethic.

It was never a ‘melting pot’ and Canadians have always prided themselves on their lack of US-style national chauvinism. (Europe is formally multicultural because of its need for cheap immigrant labor, but old imperial nationalisms live on.)

Saul argues that Canada was ‘founded’ as a modern nation not in 1867 but in 1701 with the Great Peace of Montreal between New France and 40 First Nations of North America. This treaty, achieved through negotiations according to Native American diplomatic custom, was meant to end ethnic conflicts. From then on, negotiation would trump direct conflict and the French would agree to act as arbiters during conflicts between signatory tribes. The paradigm is a confederation of tribes, consensus, the Aboriginal circle, “eating from a common bowl”. The treaty is still valid and recognized as such by the Native American tribes involved.

French Canadians are generally pre-French-revolution immigrant stock. Similarly Anglo-Canadians were against the American revolution (a merchants’ revolt against the crown). The downside of this is Canada’s enduring colonial mentality, and the constant reassertion of conservative elites (Confederation, Borden, Mulroney, Harper) and kowtowing to the Britain/ US imperial center. (Diefenbaker was the one exception, defying US empire over stationing nuclear weapons on Canadian soil, and he was shafted by US do-gooder JFK and our own do-good Nobel Peacenik Lester Pearson.)

Sadly, this contradiction in Canada’s conservative colonial heritage has meant that the thread of continuity from the days when natives counted (it was their land which the whites wanted to expropriate, albeit peacefully) has now officially snapped, as Bill C-45, and the political and media campaign against the native resistance shows.

Natives face not only official pressure to give up their rights, but they face abuse, even by those who are supposed to protect them. The residential education programs, intended to forcibly assimilate native children by wiping out their languages and traditions and replacing them with modern (or rather ‘postmodern’) education, was exposed in recent years, even eliciting an official apology from Prime Minister Harper himself. Most recently Canada’s national police force stands accused of sexually abusing aboriginal women and girls in British Columbia, Human Rights Watch has revealed.

The Idle No More protest movement, spearheaded by native activists, and joined by other Canadians who are opposed to the Conservatives’ agenda, is making alliances with similar groups in the US who are opposed to the neoliberal agenda. At the “Forward on Climate” march in February in Washington DC, Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saikuz First Nation warned that the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline will not only threaten indigenous communities living in its path, but the myriad of ecosystems that it will invade (the equivalent of the empire’s military invasions around the world). “When we take care of the land, the land [takes] care of us,” she pleaded.

Canadian pitbull

Harper is counting on Canada’s past do-good reputation to see it through in its new, hardnosed role as imperial pitbull. “Canada remains in a very special place in the world. We are the one major developed country that no one thinks has any responsibility for the [financial] crisis. We’re the one country in the room everybody would like to be,” he boasted at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009. The other G20 nations “would like to be an advanced developed economy with all the benefits that conveys to its citizens and at the same time not have been the source, or have any of the domestic problems, that created this crisis. We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them.”

Harper should read a less tendentious history book. Canada is the colonial success story par excellence, and continues to be. In most colonies (for example, India), a small number of Europeans ruled over much larger Indigenous populations. In order to make profits from a colony, Europeans needed the labor of the people they had conquered to amass profit.

Colonialism in Canada was different. Here it took the form of settler colonialism (other states with this type of colonialism include the USA, Australia and Israel). “Settler colonialism took place where European settlers settled permanently on Indigenous lands, aggressively seized those lands from Indigenous peoples and eventually greatly outnumbered Indigenous populations,” writes analyst David Camfield. It destroyed the organic cultures that grew out of relationships with those lands, and, ultimately, eliminating those Indigenous societies.

What’s left of the natives, with their very different way of life, ended up tangled up in the legal system, desperately them trying to keep their original treaties alive, though these treaties, with their many vague loop-holes, have in any case proved threadbare over time. And watch out for retribution. Native spokesperson Cindy Blackstock, who has spent more than five years trying to hold Ottawa accountable for a funding gap on the welfare of aboriginal children on reserves, found herself hounded by government surveillance intended to discredit her, as recently confirmed by a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal statement.

Similarly, (white) Canadians who run afoul of the neocolonial role Canada plays abroad have been burned. Gary Peters, an Australian national based in Canada, was found complicit in “crimes against humanity”, and Cyndy Vanier — of involvement in organized crime and falsification of documents, for helping deposed Libyan president Gaddafi’s son, Saadi Gaddafi, flee Libya in 2011.

Canada has graduated as the consummate colonial success story, and has now moved smoothly into its postmodern role as ‘supporter of human rights’ — not by promoting disinterested NGOs and providing lots of funding, but via invasion, exploitation and/or subterfuge at home and abroad. This should come as no surprise, where the indicator for success in economics and politics is not fairness and consensus, but profit and engineered majority-rule.

Canada’s own democratic traditions have been trampled time and again by Harper, who prorogued Parliament twice, becoming the first prime minister ever to be found guilty of contempt of parliament, and flagrantly ignores freedom of speech by muzzling senior bureaucrats, withholding and altering documents, and launching personal attacks on whistleblowers. There is an ongoing investigation into voting fraud perpetrated by the Conservatives in the last election.

That this reality continues to be touted as Canada’s success story is a sorry commentary on our postmodern reality, where truth is in the eyes of the beholder, and public opinion is in any case shaped by ‘them that controls the words’.

Though President Obama last year rejected a proposal from the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA to directly arm Syrian rebel fighters, his administration is once again edging closer to directly intervening in the Syrian war.

As the Washington Post reported Tuesday, “The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide the rebels with equipment such as body armor, armored vehicles and possible military training and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition.”

White House spokesperson Jay Carney confirmed the Post‘s reporting Wednesday, stating that the U.S. is “constantly reviewing the nature of the assistance we provide to both the Syrian people, in form of humanitarian assistance, and to the Syrian opposition in the form of non-lethal assistance.”

The exact nature of the additional U.S. assistance is expected to be announced Thursday at a meeting of the “Friends of Syria” in Rome.  The U.S. has previously sent communications equipment and night-vision goggles to rebels fighting in Syria.

John Kerry the Interventionist

The – perhaps – unlikely driver of the reported shift in U.S. policy on Syria has been none other than new Secretary of State John Kerry.  The very man many continue to insist on mislabeling a dove.

Speaking as early as February 13, Secretary of State Kerry proclaimed that there were “additional things that can be done” to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad aside.  And on Monday, Kerry again went on to reiterate that the West was “determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”

“We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political transition that the Syrian people want and deserve,” Kerry commented further.

Although a policy change for the Obama administration, advocating for a more direct role for the U.S. in Syria has long been Kerry’s position.  As Kerry commented in May of 2012: “The concept of a safe zone is a reality and worth the discussion. The concept of working with the Turks and the Jordanians, if everybody is on the same page, there could be some [military] training [of the opposition forces]. If we can enhance the unity of the opposition, we could consider lethal aid and those kinds of things.”

In the same interview Kerry went on to voice support – under the right conditions – for “U.S.- or NATO-led airstrikes on the Syrian military.”

This should come as no surprise given Kerry’s previous support for U.S. bombing campaigns in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.  Some dove!  Of course, the American foreign policy establishment as a whole has steadily veered toward a greater affinity for missile and bomb diplomacy.

“Once war was considered the business of soldiers, international relations the concern of diplomats,” C. Wright Mills wrote of the U.S. over 50 years ago in The Power Elite.  “But now that war has become seemingly total and seemingly permanent…Peace is no longer serious; only war is serious.”

If nothing else, then, Kerry has proven himself once again to be a rather “serious” man.

Intervention by Proxy

While Kerry helps edge Washington closer to direct military intervention into Syria, U.S. proxies continue to ramp up their campaign to topple the Syrian regime.

As the New York Times reported Monday, Saudi Arabia has recently begun to funnel heavy weapons purchased from Croatia to Syrian rebel groups via Jordan.  The Saudi shipments, the paper goes on to note, “have been a factor in the rebels’ small tactical gains this winter against the army and militias loyal to Mr. Assad.”

The U.S. role in the Saudi arms flow, the Times reports, “is not clear.”  Yet, it is hard to fathom that such shipments were not sanctioned by Washington, given the close military ties the U.S. maintains between those involved.  After all, Saudi Arabia remains one of the larger recipients of U.S. foreign aid and one of the largest purchasers of U.S. arms.  The Pentagon, meanwhile, maintains “a robust military-to-military relationship with Croatia,” providing the Croatian military with “training, equipment, equipment loans, and education in U.S. military schools.”  And U.S. military aid to Jordan tops $300 million a year.

Moreover, the U.S. has had upwards of 150 military planners stationed along the Jordanian border with Syria since last summer, where the Croatian arms are reported to have passed into rebel hands.  It has long been reported that the CIA is overseeing the arms shipments to Syrian rebels from within Turkey.

The U.S. is thus already well entangled in the Syrian war – albeit if by the use of proxy forces.

Thwarting Dialogue

The push to further enhance the degree of U.S. intervention – from guiding regional proxies to direct military support – comes as the rebel drive to oust Assad appears to be reaching its limits.  In fact, Mouaz Mustafa, the political director of the U.S.-based Syrian American Task Forced, recently argued that, “Assad cannot be deposed without the consent of the U.S.”

This realization has even left some in the West to admit that Assad still retains a sizable base of domestic support.  As former U.S. diplomat Karen AbuZayd commented in a recent interview with CBC Radio, “there’s quite a number of the population, maybe as many as half, if not more, who stand behind him [Assad].”

Thus, we see the exiled Syrian opposition – long opposed to dialogue – now hinting at a new willingness to engage in negotiations with the Syrian regime.  Yet, the U.S. continues to insist that any political dialogue must be preempted by regime change.

As State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell commented on Wednesday, “the [political] process has to include Assad leaving, but it’s really up to the Syrian people.”  Another example of the limits of America’s democratic ideals, as we see that the choice for the Syrian people begins and ends with supporting Washington’s agenda.

Of course, as long as a sizable segment of Syrians stand behind Assad – or at least refrain from supporting the armed rebels – demanding that Assad leaves only portends a protracted military struggle.  As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was left to comment Monday, “It seems extremists, who bet on a military solution to Syria’s problems and block initiatives to start dialogue, have for now come to dominate in the ranks of the Syrian opposition.”  And the ranks of Washington, it appears as well.

Yet, even as Washington and its European allies antagonize Russia by preparing to heighten their intervention into Syria, they still desperately seek the legitimacy of a United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing a military intervention.  And for this they need Moscow.

Cajoling Russia to Pave the Road to Tehran

Writing in Foreign Policy, Christopher Chivvis of the RAND Corporation and Edward Joseph, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, argue that the threat of Western military intervention is what is needed to bring Russia around to supporting the “regime change” line.

“Changing the Russian position means changing Moscow’s calculus on Syria,” Chivvis and Joseph write.  “And that means presenting the Kremlin with an alternative that it finds more unpalatable than the status quo: a NATO-backed, Turkey-led military coalition invited by the Arab League to intervene in the Syria conflict.”

And here we have the bankruptcy and hubris of the American foreign policy elite.  It’s all rather transparent: capitulate to our demands, or face the brunt of military force.  Only war is serious.

Of course, Chivvis and Joseph go on to tout the “blow to Iran and a boon to the United States and its regional partners and allies” a toppled Assad would present.  “Israel would be a primary beneficiary, with its antagonist, Hezbollah, having been dealt a serious setback,” they continue.

How all this is supposed to entice Moscow is not exactly clear.  What is good for American is good for the world, it appears.  Indicative, perhaps, of what Chalmers Johnson once wrote to be the self-aggrandizement of imperial rot.

And so with the typical delusions of grandeur, the U.S. edges closer to direct military intervention into Syria – closer, too, to unleashing a dangerous regional conflagration.  In fact, the Iran war drums are already beating louder; for regime change in Damascus only paves the road to Tehran.

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

Inflation Is the Legacy of the Federal Reserve

February 28th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Bloomberg asks whether inflation is the legacy of the Fed:

The answer is clearly YES.

The dollar’s purchasing power has plummeted from 1913 – the year the Fed was created – to 2005:

Dollar from 1913.gif A Banana Republic With No Bananas
It’s only gotten worse since then:


(Image courtesy of Charles Goyette.)
Indeed, the Fed’s policy-making body (the Federal Open Market Committee) explicitly stated in 2012 that it’s goal was to devalue the dollar by another 33%.

A devalued dollar equals inflation.  Specifically, when the dollar is worth less, more dollars are required to by the same item.

In testimony this week, Bernanke said that he has done a great job of keeping inflation under check.  But there is a tremendous amount of hidden inflation caused by Mr. Bernanke’s policies:

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2013/02/20130227_Bernanke.jpg


(Image courtesy of Charles Goyette.)
Surely, though, inflation is a good thing … as it will get us out of our economic doldrums?  Uh, no.

We noted in 2011:

Inflation Is A Tax

The father of the theory that government stimulus is the way to fight severe downturns – John Maynard Keynes – famously said about inflation:

By this means government may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke also admits that inflation is a tax on the American people:

Money printing creates inflation. [Including inflation in food prices ... which food producers are trying to hide through fraud]

Société Générale strategist Dylan Grice writes:

By issuing bonds to itself the government seems to have miraculously raised revenue without burdening anyone else. This is probably why the mechanism is universally adopted throughout the world’s financial system. Yet free money does not, and cannot, exist. Since there can be no such thing as a government, or anyone else for that matter, raising revenue “at no cost” simple logic tells us that someone, somewhere has to pay.

But who? This is where the subtle dishonesty resides, because the answer is that no-one knows. If the money printing creates inflation in the product market, the consumers in that product market will pay. If the money printing creates inflation in asset markets, the purchaser of the more elevated asset price pays. Of course, if the printed money ends up in asset markets even less is known about who ultimately pays for the government’s ‘free lunch’, because in this case the money printing sets off its own dynamic via the perpetual Ponzi machine that is the global financial system. The ‘free lunch’ providers will be the late entrants into whatever asset-bubble or investment fad the money printing inflates.

The point is we can’t know who will pay, only that someone will pay. Thus the government has raised revenues without even knowing upon whom the burden falls, let alone telling them. Compare this to raising explicit ‘honest’ taxes, which are at least transparent. We know who levied the sales tax or the income tax, when it was levied, when it is payable, and how much has to be paid. The burden of this money printing, in contrast, seeps silently into the economy, falling indiscriminately but indubitably on unseen, unknowing victims.

The economic hardships this clandestine tax operation imposes are real and keenly felt. But because no one knows from where it comes the enemy is unseen. Thus, during great inflations, societies turn on themselves with each faction blaming another for its malaise: the third century inflation crisis in ancient Rome coincided with Diocletian’s infamous persecution of the Christians; the medieval European debasements coincided with surging witchcraft trials; the extreme Central European hyperinflations following WW1 saw whole societies blaming their Jewish communities. More recently, the aftermath of the historically modest asset inflations in the tech market and the US real estate market have seen society turn on “fat-cat CEOs” and “greedy bankers” respectively.

By now, some of you might feel this all to be irrelevant. Surely, you might be thinking, the plain fact is that there is no inflation. I disagree. To see why, think about what inflation is in the light of the above thinking. I know economists define it as changes in the price of a basket of consumer goods, the CPI. But why should that be the definitive measure, given that it’s only one of the many possible destinations in money’s Brownian journey from the printing presses? Why ignore other destinations, such as asset markets? Isn’t asset price inflation (or bubbles as they are more commonly known) more distortionary and economically inefficient than product price inflation?

I believe economists focus so firmly on product prices in their analysis of inflation not because of any judgment over the relative importance of one type of inflation over the other, but simply because CPI-type measures of inflation are easier to see. In doing so, they resemble the fabled driver who lost his keys one evening and was found looking for them under a streetlamp. When asked by his wife why he was looking there when he’d probably lost them further back, he replied “Because here it’s easier to see.”

We know that revenue cannot be raised for one person without costing someone else. We know that money printing generates revenue for the public sector. So we also know that money printing must be a tax. We know that the magnitude of that tax – the inflation rate – can be reliably measured by the increase in the rate of base money growth. Since we don’t know which markets new money will end up in or even when, we know we can’t reliably count on measures of inflation in those markets to tell us what the ‚inflation rate? is. Thus, the only reliable measure of inflation is the expansion of the monetary base. So to those who say there is no inflation, I give you the following chart.

By now, the more polite economists among those still reading may be thinking something like: “What utter drivel you are full of Grice! When there is a recession/depression on and the pressure faced by an economy is deflation, which can become self-fulfilling, the only correct thing to do is to create inflation to protect jobs.”

To this I would reply that every right thinking person wants to see job creation. Those advocating the creation of inflation, or fiscal stimulus are doing so because that’s what the system of logic known as ‘theoretical macroeconomics’ teaches. Yet this system of logic with its deeply flawed epistemological foundations is what brought us here in the first place! The macroeconomic body of knowledge represents no such thing – a cacophony of faiths would be more accurate. The instruments and gauges it recommends policy makers rely on – CPI, trend growth, output gaps, NAIRUs, budget deficits, debt/GDP – are subject to such wide conceptual ambiguity, not to mention estimation error, as to render them utterly meaningless. The fact is the captains of our ship have no reliable gauges. They have no understanding of what a yank of this lever, or a push on that button will ultimately achieve. They just think they do. Intoxicated by trumped up notions of what they know and understand, the drunk driving of macroeconomists is what led us to where we are today.

Perhaps even more importantly, the way that the Fed has kept inflation from going even higher – despite its massive money printing – is to intentionally discourage banks from making loans to Main Street. In other words, by killing the real economy …

Of course, the Fed also caused the Great Depression and the current economic crisis, and most Americans – and many economists – want to end or severely downsize the Fed.

The REAL Source of Cavities and Gum Disease

February 28th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Our modern stereotype is that – until recently – people were plagued with rotting teeth, cavities and gum disease.

But the truth is that prehistoric people had much better oral health than we do today.

As NPR reports:

Prehistoric humans didn’t have toothbrushes. They didn’t have floss or toothpaste, and they certainly didn’t have Listerine. Yet somehow, their mouths were a lot healthier than ours are today.

Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”

And thousands of years later, we’re still waging, and often losing, our war against oral disease.

Our changing diets are largely to blame.

In a study published in the latest Nature Genetics, Cooper and his research team looked at calcified plaque on ancient teeth from 34 prehistoric human skeletons. What they found was that as our diets changed over time — shifting from meat, vegetables and nuts to carbohydrates and sugar — so too did the composition of bacteria in our mouths.

***

However, the researchers found that as prehistoric humans transitioned from hunting and gathering to farming, certain types of disease-causing bacteria that were particularly efficient at using carbohydrates started to win out over other types of “friendly” bacteria in human mouths. The addition of processed flour and sugar during the Industrial Revolution only made matters worse.

“What you’ve really created is an ecosystem which is very low in diversity and full of opportunistic pathogens that have jumped in to utilize the resources which are now free,” Cooper says.

And that’s a problem, because the dominance of harmful bacteria means that our mouths are basically in a constant state of disease.

“You’re walking around with a permanent immune response, which is not a good thing,” says Cooper. “It causes problems all over the place.”

***

According to Cooper, bacteria make up approximately 90 percent of the cells in our bodies. [Background; and graphics.] He believes that we focus too much on ourselves and not enough on this so-called microbiome.

We brush our teeth and we floss, and we think that we’ve got good oral hygiene. But [we're] completely failing to deal with the underlying problem,” he says. “Ten years from now, I think we’re going to find that the whole microbiome is a key part of what you get monitored for and treated for.

While this seems counter-intuitive at first, it makes sense after a little reflection. After all, we evolved as hunters and gatherers. We haven’t had time to adapt – in an evolutionary times frame – to a life of farming … let alone processed foods.

No wonder – according to the New York Times:

More than 75% of American adults have some form of gum disease.

The science of healthy internal bugs is in its infancy. As Live Science notes:

“The concept of a probiotic to help reestablish our baseline microbiota after an antibiotic is a good concept,” [microbiologist Martin Blaser of the NYU School of Medicine] told LiveScience. “But the idea that, of all thousand species in our bodies, taking a single species that comes from cow or cheese is naïve.” Current probiotics are very well marketed, Blaser said, but there’s not much benefit. He does think medicine will one day develop probiotics that will be used to treat illness, but as of now, “it’s a very young field,” he said.

Ingesting too many antibiotics has also been linked to obesity, as it kills – often permanently – helpful intestinal bacteria (and see this and this), hypertension. Probiotics – which replace healthy intestinal bacteria – can promote weight loss, at least in people who don’t have a thriving community of natural intestinal flora.

Indeed, a healthy microbiome is also important for mental health:

Live Science reports:

Researchers have increasingly begun to suspect the gut was somehow linked with the brain. For instance, bowel disorders seem linked with stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression in people.

To learn more, scientists experimented with mice by feeding them a broth containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1. This species naturally lives in our gut, and scientists are exploring whether strains of it can be used as “probiotics” to improve our health. They discovered these rodents displayed significantly less behavior linked with stress, anxiety and depression than mice fed plain broth. Bacteria-fed mice also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in response to stressful situations such as mazes.

“By affecting gut bacteria, you can have very robust and quite broad-spectrum effects on brain chemistry and behavior,” researcher John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, told LiveScience.

“Without overstating things, this does open up the concept that we could develop therapies that can treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut,” Cryan added. “You could take a yogurt with a probiotic in it instead of an antidepressant.”

***

The investigators found that one GABA receptor component was present in higher levels in bacteria-fed mice in parts of the brain where it is normally lowered during depression. In addition, several GABA receptor components were reduced in parts of the brain where they are normally increased in stressed or anxious animals.

Next, the researchers severed the vagus nerve, which helps alert the central nervous system to changes in the gastrointestinal tract. They found the bacteria-induced effects on behavior and GABA receptors were diminished, suggesting this nerve is the pathway by which changes in the gut can influence the brain.

Vagal nerve stimulations have been used at times to treat depression resistant to other therapies, but “that’s a surgical technique,” Cryan said. “By targeting the gut with probiotics, we could indirectly target the vagus nerve without surgery.”

And see this.

***
Many native cultures ate a lot of fermented foods containing healthy bacteria. Think yogurt, miso and Inuit fermented seal blubber (gross, we know …)

***

Given that the modern diet contains less fermented foods, and that antibiotics have killed off some of our healthy intestinal flora, probiotics – sold in health food stores – are an important preventative measure against depression.

So it should come as no surprise that probiotics can help our oral health, as shown by scientific studies published in the American Journal of Dentistry, European Journal of Dentistry, and elsewhere.

In a couple of years, we will be able to get the right probiotics to kill the bad bugs in our mouth without destroying the good guys like antibiotics do.

In the meantime, good oral hygiene – conscientious tooth brushing and flossing – is important. Indeed, an overwhelming number of scientific studies conclude that cavity levels are falling worldwide … even in countries which don’t fluoridate water.

World Health Organization Data (2004) -
Tooth Decay Trends (12 year olds) in Fluoridated vs. Unfluoridated Countries:

who dmft An Overwhelming Number of Scientific Studies Conclude That Cavity Levels are Falling Worldwide ... Even In Countries Which Dont Fluoridate Water

This is due to increased education about the importance of oral hygiene.

In addition, we should cut out refined flour and refined sugar. As Live Science notes:

Cooper suggests that one way to help return your microbiome to a healthier, more balanced state might be to cut out all of those processed carbs and start eating like our ancestors.

Cranberry juice contains a chemical that blocks cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth. Drinking some unsweetened cranberry juice during the day can reduce cavities.

Finally, brushing with baking soda (or a toothpaste containing baking soda) is safe, and helps to reduce plaque … even in hard-to-reach areas.

 

In the coming General Election, condemning the Barisan Nasional (BN)  as “totally corrupt” would be the Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) main line of attack. It will be used as a rallying cry to oust the incumbent. Corruption is undoubtedly a major challenge. There is elite corruption in both the public and private sectors. There is petty corruption within various strata of society.

It is because it is a challenge that the government recognises combating corruption as one of the seven National Key Result Areas (NKRAs). And since 2004 a number of significant measures have been implemented, among them the establishment of 14 special anti-corruption courts with the mandate to adjudicate all corruption cases within 12 months; the enactment of the Whistleblower Act; the signing of Corporate Integrity Pledges and

Integrity Pacts; and the acceptance of open tenders publicised through the media for procurement exercises thus enhancing transparency and accountability. The endorsement of Transparency International’s Election Integrity Pledge, an affirmation of the government’s commitment to electoral ethics, is the latest example of its present battle against corruption.

At the same time, there has been a marked increase in the number of arrests of those allegedly involved in corruption including former political leaders, highly placed public servants, and top-notch corporate figures. Givers as well as takers of bribes are now nabbed regularly. It is because of these sustained efforts that Michael Hershman, one of the founders of Transparency International observed in an article in the Huffington Post (June 22 2012) that Malaysia has a “comprehensive anti-corruption system.”

In this regard, it is worth noting that Malaysia’s fight against corruption has been going on for more than four decades. Malaysia is one of the first countries in the Global South to have established an anti-corruption agency and formulated an anti-corruption law way back in 1967.Even before 2004, a number of Federal Ministers, Mentris Besar and State Executive Councillors have been tried and convicted for corruption.

Nonetheless, as many of us have been arguing for some time now much more can be done to curb this social malaise. Apart from effective enforcement that metes out stern punishment to the wrongdoer regardless of his status, we should also address some of the underlying causes of corruption such as the widening gap between the “have-a-lot” and the “have-a-little” which engenders a widespread feeling of relative deprivation which in turn prompts people to justify their corrupt acts. To make it worse, elite opulence which has become more pronounced in our society in recent years also feeds into this vice. At the same time, both the government and the opposition should craft a mechanism for financing general elections which would eliminate donations from business entities.

The public financing of elections as a concept was accepted by the Dewan Rakyat in April 2012. Whatever new measures are adopted to combat corruption, Malaysians should not be duped into believing that changing the government of the day is THE solution. Other democracies in Asia have tried. In India the Indian National Congress was ousted through the ballot-box in the seventies on an anti-corruption, anti-authoritarianism wave; the people discovered soon afterwards that the successor government was incapable of curbing the scourge. Similarly, in Japan, the people have come to realise that getting rid of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and replacing it with some other party has not helped to minimise the prevalence of graft which is embedded to a large extent in the incestuous relationship between business and legislative politics.

There is a reason why regime change per se in most cases does not result in the eradication of corruption. Regime change revolves around political actors. Political actors are focused upon power. And power, as the ancient adage goes, corrupts.

Even in our country we have seen this happening with the opposition parties which are now in power in four states. Vociferous opponents of corruption for the longest time, these parties are now forced to grapple with allegations of shady contracts, zoning irregularities and questionable land deals. Their claim to integrity is being challenged by segments of their own constituencies.

Indeed, how can Pakatan Rakyat project itself as a champion of probity when it is led by a Machleon (a Machiavellian  Chameleon) with such a tarnished record  on issues of ethics? When he was in power — an overly ambitious Cabinet Minister — he was allegedly involved in money politics and cronyism on a massive scale. In his book, The Mahathir Legacy A Nation Divided, a Region at Risk (Allen & Unwin, 2003) Ian Stewart observes, “While Anwar’s followers — as witnessed by myself and other journalists — were handing out packets of money to acquire the support of UMNO division leaders in his 1993 campaign against Ghafar Baba, Anwar himself was winning over influential people in the party by promising positions in the administration he would form when he took over from Dr. Mahathir.” (page 23).

Pakatan supporters insist that Anwar has changed after his incarceration from 1998 to 2004 and now walks the straight and narrow. In other words, like Saul on the road to Damascus, Anwar on the road to Putrajaya has become a paragon of virtue. Really?  If that is so, how does one explain his September 16th saga in 2008 which was a blatant attempt to topple a legitimately elected government through the backdoor, employing allegedly unethical tactics? And what about the electoral fraud within his party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, in 2010 or his approach to the recent defections of two Barisan Nasional leaders in Sabah to his side?

What this shows is that Anwar and Pakatan can lay no claim to the moral high ground in the battle against corruption. Voters should understand this. They should evaluate them for what they are and not be mesmerised by their words.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of JUST (The International Movement for a Just World) and has been a political commentator for more than four decades.

In the shadow of North Korea’s third nuclear test, the inauguration this week of Park Geun-hye, Northeast Asia’s first female president, is a momentous event.

Her father, former president Park Chung-Hee, was one of South Korea’s most iconic and controversial figures. [GR Editor's note: General Park Chung-hee, backed by the US,  seized power in 1961 through a coup d'état  establishing a military dictatorship, declaring martial law and suspending the constitution in 1972]. 

Having lost both her parents to political assassinations, and being targeted herself by violent attacks throughout her career, Park’s ascension to South Korea’s top spot undoubtedly makes for a highly inspirational narrative.

The sight of the president gracefully donning a traditional hanbok dress after returning to Seoul’s Blue House after 33 years speaks volumes of the ever-shifting gender roles in South Korea’s traditionally Confucian male-dominated society.

In addition to confronting issues of unaffordable healthcare, crippling school tuition fees and the challenges that come with a rapidly aging society, Park also carries the burden of maintaining inter-Korean stability.

While Pyongyang offered signals of diplomacy when it reportedly requested permission to send a North Korean delegation to attend Park’s inauguration ceremony, the North’s state media appears to have already made up its mind on Park, likening her to a “political prostitute”, in addition to a myriad of other colorfully offensive titles.

Relations between the two Koreas hit a low point during the tenure of Park’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, and Pyongyang has voiced its discontent at what it views as Park’s collusion with the Lee administration.

Following its nuclear test this month, Pyongyang threatened Seoul with “final destruction”, and the rogue nation will likely offer more provocative rhetoric in the days to come to undermine the transition process.

Even so, the probability of a military strike from the North is low, and its actions follow a predictable pattern of procuring aid concessions in exchange for dialogue. Park campaigned on advocating a softer-line on Pyongyang, which will be difficult to accomplish in the current scenario she finds in office.

The new president has a new opportunity to roll back the policies of her predecessor by engaging in meaningful dialogue with Pyongyang, ensuring that her country avoids falling into serious military confrontation with the North that could potentially yield vast civilian causalities on both sides.

During his New Year’s Address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-eun struck a conciliatory tone toward the South, voicing intentions to bolster his isolated state’s moribund economy. It’s no secret that Kim is a figurehead backed by close advisers, the most prominent being Jang Sung-taek, known to be the husband of his late father Kim Jong-il’s sister.

Park can best ensure the stability of inter-Korean relations by proposing a new inter-Korean dialogue that should take place with the respective nations’ power brokers. Economic exchange would be the core of any genuine reconciliation between the two Koreas, and for that reason, the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) is of prime importance.

Undercover reports claim that smuggled South Korean media has started to subtly erode the regime’s ideological grip on people in the North, and Pyongyang will certainly be hesitant to facilitate greater opportunities where North and South Korean civilians can interact.

One of the objectives Park campaigned on was reestablishing trust with Pyongyang, and this can best be accomplished by reestablishing the KIZ as an economic space, not a political one. North Korea provides the cheapest labor rates in Asia, and a new emphasis on the KIZ would benefit South Korea’s mass-production economy, in addition to providing the North with much-needed financial incentives.

To ensure security on the Korean Peninsula, Park should not lure Pyongyang with concessions, but offer it a tangible stake in both economic and technological development.

Park has previously stated that the North’s denuclearization is a perquisite. Washington continues to station 28,500 troops in the South, controlling all military forces south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). At this point, Pyongyang has very little incentive to disarm. After the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, his son, Kim Jong-il oversaw general economic mismanagement and a series of natural disasters that led to widespread starvation.

To legitimize his tenure, Kim Jong-il introduced Songun politics, a “military-first” policy aimed at appeasing the army and building up national defenses. The attainment of a “nuclear deterrent” has been trumpeted as a major accomplishment in domestic North Korean propaganda – simply put, Pyongyang is not going to cease its pursuit of a nuclear deterrent.

Park may be in a better position to negotiate with Pyongyang when the US draws down its forces and hands over operational control of the South Korean military to Seoul, currently scheduled to take place in 2015.

She has spoken of taking a middle-of-the-road approach with the North, but if her policy rests solely on being open to Pyongyang only on the condition that they disarm, the incoming administration will find itself mired in president Lee’s legacy of tension.

One of the stated goals of Park’s administration is to begin to construct the foundations for reunification. It would be a practical necessity for both Koreas to eventually come to an agreement on security issues, and as long as the US maintains a presence in South Korea, Park’s administration must learn to accept Pyongyang’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent, perhaps on the condition that it vows not to threaten South Korea.

In a 2011 article published in the Council on Foreign Relations’ Foreign Affairs website titled, “A New Kind of Korea,” Park advocated the formation of a cooperative security regime between Asian states that would “help resolve persistent tensions in the region”, in addition to threatening the North that it would “pay a heavy price for its military and nuclear threats”.

This approach is not new, but in order to change the current situation, it must be enforced more vigorously than in the past”. If Park intends on bolstering the status quo foreign policy direction established under president Lee, her administration’s objectives of laying the foundations for reunification will not succeed.

2013 will be a critical year for South Korea; it will assume non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the first time in its history. The year will be critical in shaping the conditions necessary to bring about a “second miracle on the Han River” that Park promised in her campaign speeches. As a world leader in the production of consumer electronics and boasting the status of the most-wired nation, South Korea is now focusing on building a dynamic economy focused on digital and bio technologies.

As an answer to South Korea’s economic problems, Park has advocated a two-pronged approach that utilizes a “creative economy” to counter slowed growth and “economic democracy” to counter growing income polarization.

Park sanctioned the newly created Ministry of Future Creation and Science to combine information technology with various other sectors to provide entirely new jobs to grow the national economy. Critics have scrutinized the fact that “economic democracy” – one of her main election-time slogans – was absent from a recently published list of governance goals, prompting some to raise serious questions about the substance of her goals and the vagueness of her concepts.

“Since the election, she has not made a single detailed reference to economic democratization. Now, the fact that she even removed the phrase from her administration goals sends a message to bureaucrats and to the finance sector that even Park Geun-hye will back down if you push hard enough. From now on, the lobbyists will push even harder,” stated Kim Sang-jo, an economics professor at Hansung University.

Park’s stated economic objective is to bring about a climate where large corporations and small and medium-sized enteprises can prosper side by side, shifting the focus from exports and big business to domestic demand, services, and small businesses, and marking a clear departure from her predecessor’s neo-liberal policy.

Park has also come under criticism for watering down promises to strengthen the sentencing processes for unlawful activity committed by the directors of family-owned corporations such as Hyundai, Samsung, and LG, referred to as chaebol.

Opposition spokesperson Park Yong-jin for the Democratic United Party took aim at Park on the issue. “Lowering the priority of tasks related to economic democratization is more than just a violation of a key presidential campaign pledge. It is sure to spark allegations that all of the talk about economic democratization during the campaign was a lie. We are seeing the same old politics by politicians who don’t keep their word,” said Yong-jin.

Park Geun-hye has come to power with the lowest approval ratings of any previous president, hovering at 44%. High dissatisfaction exists among the South Korean public toward Park’s nominations for cabinet and other key positions; respondents of surveys published in South Korean media gave “mistaken nominations and the hiring of unscrutinized figures” as their reason for Park’s low ratings.

She has also indicated significant increases in the nation’s defense spending. Recent polls indicate that two-thirds of the South Korean public support the continuance of humanitarian aid to North Korea “regardless of the political situation”, with over half the population supporting direct talks with Pyongyang.

The new leader can recapture public support by delivering on her campaign promises and reducing income equality by leveling the playing field for small businesses, but if she pursues the kind of defense policy that she has advocated, she may find herself in an unpopular position with both Pyongyang and the South Korean people.

This article originally appeared in the Asia Times.

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

 

The Spoils of War: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade

February 28th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

This article was first published in April 2004 and was subsequently incorporated as a chapter in the author’s book America’s War on Terrorism.  published in 2005.

Control of the drug trade was a central objective of the US-NATO led invasion, following the Taliban government’s decision in 2000 to curtail opium production and suppress the trade in heroin. Why was Afghanistan invaded? War and the Trade in Narcotics are intimately related. The Afghan war going back to the late 1970s was covertly financed by the proceeds of the Golden Crescent drug trade.

The evidence suggests unequivocally that the multibillion dollar heroin trade out of Afghanistan is protected by the US led military alliance.

Michel Chossudovsky, February 28, 2013


Since the US led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the Golden Crescent opium trade has soared. According to the US media, this lucrative contraband is protected by Osama, the Taliban, not to mention, of course, the regional warlords, in defiance of the “international community”.

The heroin business is said to  be “filling the coffers of the Taliban”. In the words of the US State Department:

“Opium is a source of literally billions of dollars to extremist and criminal groups… [C]utting down the opium supply is central to establishing a secure and stable democracy, as well as winning the global war on terrorism,” (Statement of Assistant Secretary of State Robert Charles. Congressional Hearing, 1 April 2004)

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production in Afghanistan in 2003 is estimated at 3,600 tons, with an estimated area under cultivation of the order of 80,000 hectares. (UNODC at http://www.unodc.org/unodc/index.html ).An even larger bumper harvest is predicted for 2004.

The State Department suggests that up to 120 000 hectares were under cultivation in 2004. (Congressional Hearing, op cit):

 ”We could be on a path for a significant surge. Some observers indicate perhaps as much as 50 percent to 100 percent growth in the 2004 crop over the already troubling figures from last year.”(Ibid)

“Operation Containment”

In response to the post-Taliban surge in opium production, the Bush administration has boosted its counter terrorism activities, while allocating substantial amounts of public money to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s West Asia initiative, dubbed “Operation Containment.”

The various reports and official statements are, of course, blended in with the usual “balanced” self critique that “the international community is not doing enough”, and that what we need is “transparency”.

The headlines are “Drugs, warlords and insecurity overshadow Afghanistan’s path to democracy”. In chorus, the US media is accusing the defunct “hard-line Islamic regime”, without even acknowledging that the Taliban  –in collaboration with the United Nations– had imposed a successful ban on poppy cultivation in 2000. Opium production declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. In fact the surge in opium cultivation production coincided with the onslaught of the US-led military operation and the downfall of the Taliban regime. From October through December 2001, farmers started to replant poppy on an extensive basis.

The success of Afghanistan’s 2000 drug eradication program under the Taliban had been acknowledged at the October 2001 session of the UN General Assembly (which took place barely a few days after the beginning of the 2001 bombing raids). No other UNODC member country was able to implement a comparable program:

“Turning first to drug control, I had expected to concentrate my remarks on the implications of the Taliban’s ban on opium poppy cultivation in areas under their control… We now have the results of our annual ground survey of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. This year’s production [2001] is around 185 tons. This is down from the 3300 tons last year [2000], a decrease of over 94 per cent. Compared to the record harvest of 4700 tons two years ago, the decrease is well over 97 per cent.

Any decrease in illicit cultivation is welcomed, especially in cases like this when no displacement, locally or in other countries, took place to weaken the achievement” (Remarks on behalf of UNODC Executive Director at the UN General Assembly, Oct 2001, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/speech_2001-10-12_1.html )

United Nations’ Coverup

In the wake of the US invasion, shift in rhetoric. UNODC is now acting as if the 2000 opium ban had never happened: 

“the battle against narcotics cultivation has been fought and won in other countries and it [is] possible to do so here [in Afghanistan], with strong, democratic governance, international assistance and improved security and integrity.” ( Statement of the UNODC Representative in Afghanistan at the :February 2004  International Counter Narcotics Conference,

http://www.unodc.org/pdf/afg/afg_intl_counter_narcotics_conf_2004.pdf , p. 5).

In fact, both Washington and the UNODC now claim that the objective of the Taliban in 2000 was not really “drug eradication” but a devious scheme to trigger “an artificial shortfall in supply”, which would drive up World prices of heroin.

Ironically, this twisted logic, which now forms part of a new “UN consensus”, is refuted by a report of the UNODC office in Pakistan, which confirmed, at the time, that there was no evidence of stockpiling by the Taliban. (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah. 5 October 2003)

Washington’s Hidden Agenda: Restore the Drug Trade

In the wake of the 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan, the British government of Tony Blair was entrusted by the G-8 Group of leading industrial nations to carry out a drug eradication program, which would, in theory, allow Afghan farmers to switch out of poppy cultivation into alternative crops. The British were working out of Kabul in close liaison with the US DEA’s “Operation Containment”.

The UK sponsored crop eradication program is an obvious smokescreen. Since October 2001, opium poppy cultivation has skyrocketed.   The presence of occupation forces in Afghanistan did not result in the eradication of poppy cultivation. Quite the opposite.

The Taliban prohibition had indeed caused “the beginning of a heroin shortage in Europe by the end of 2001″, as acknowledged by the UNODC.

Heroin is a multibillion dollar business supported by powerful interests, which requires a steady and secure commodity flow. One of the “hidden” objectives of the war was precisely to restore the CIA sponsored drug trade to its historical levels and exert direct control over the drug routes.

Immediately following the October 2001 invasion, opium markets were restored. Opium prices spiraled. By early 2002, the opium price (in dollars/kg) was almost 10 times higher than in 2000.

In 2001, under the Taliban opiate production stood at 185 tons, increasing  to 3400 tons in 2002 under the US sponsored puppet regime of President Hamid Karzai.

While highlighting Karzai’s patriotic struggle against the Taliban, the media fails to mention that Karzai collaborated with the Taliban. He had also been on the payroll of a major US oil company, UNOCAL. In fact, since the mid-1990s, Hamid Karzai had acted as a consultant and lobbyist for UNOCAL in negotiations with the Taliban. According to the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan:

“Karzai has been a Central Intelligence Agency covert operator since the 1980s. He collaborated with the CIA in funneling U.S. aid to the Taliban as of 1994 when the Americans had secretly and through the Pakistanis [specifically the ISI] supported the Taliban’s assumption of power.” (quoted in Karen Talbot, U.S. Energy Giant Unocal Appoints Interim Government in Kabul, Global Outlook, No. 1, Spring 2002. p. 70. See also  BBC Monitoring Service, 15 December 2001)

History of the Golden Crescent Drug trade

It is worth recalling the history of  the Golden Crescent drug trade, which is intimately related to the CIA’s covert operations in the region since the onslaught of the Soviet-Afghan war and its aftermath.

Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989), opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to small regional markets. There was no local production of heroin. (Alfred McCoy, Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive, 1 August 1997).

The Afghan narcotics economy was a carefully designed project of the CIA, supported by US foreign policy.

As revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit  International (BCCI) scandals, CIA covert operations in support of the Afghan Mujahideen had been funded through the laundering of drug money.  “Dirty money” was recycled –through a number of banking institutions (in the Middle East) as well as through anonymous CIA shell companies–, into  “covert money,” used to finance various insurgent groups during the Soviet-Afghan war, and its aftermath:

 

“Because the US wanted to supply the Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer. (“The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22.)

Researcher Alfred McCoy’s study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA’s covert operation in Afghanistan in 1979,

“the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer, supplying 60 per cent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979  to 1.2 million by 1985, a much steeper rise than in any other nation.”

“CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the Mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests.

U.S. officials had refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies because U.S. narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there.  In 1995, the former CIA director of the Afghan operation, Charles Cogan, admitted the CIA had indeed sacrificed the drug war to fight the Cold War. ‘Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,’ I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout.  There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.’”(McCoy, op cit)

The role of the CIA, which is amply documented, is not mentioned in official UNODC publications, which focus on internal social and political factors. Needless to say, the historical roots of the opium trade have been grossly distorted.

(See UNODC http://www.unodc.org/pdf/publications/afg_opium_economy_www.pdf

According to the UNODC, Afghanistan’s opium production has increased, more than 15-fold since 1979. In the wake of the Soviet-Afghan war, the growth of the narcotics economy has continued unabated. The Taliban, which were supported by the US, were initially instrumental in the further growth of opiate production until the 2000 opium ban.

(See UNODC http://www.unodc.org/pdf/publications/afg_opium_economy_www.pdf

This recycling of drug money was used to finance the post-Cold War insurgencies in Central Asia and the Balkans including Al Qaeda. (For details, see Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization, The Truth behind September 11, Global Research Outlook, 2002,

Narcotics: Second to Oil and the Arms Trade

The revenues generated from the CIA sponsored Afghan drug trade are sizeable. The Afghan trade in opiates constitutes a large share of the worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, which was estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $400-500 billion. (Douglas Keh, Drug Money in a Changing World, Technical document No. 4, 1998, Vienna UNDCP, p. 4. See also United Nations Drug Control Program, Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1999, E/INCB/1999/1 United Nations, Vienna 1999, p. 49-51, and Richard Lapper, UN Fears Growth of Heroin Trade, Financial Times, 24 February 2000). At the time these UN figures were first brought out (1994), the (estimated) global trade in drugs was of the same order of magnitude as the global trade in oil.

The IMF estimated global money laundering to be between 590 billion and 1.5 trillion dollars a year, representing 2-5 percent of global GDP. (Asian Banker, 15 August 2003). A large share of global money laundering as estimated by the IMF is linked to the trade in narcotics.

Based on recent figures (2003), drug trafficking  constitutes “the third biggest global commodity in cash terms after oil and the arms trade.” (The Independent, 29 February 2004).

Moreover, the above figures including those on money laundering, confirm that the bulk of the revenues associated with the global trade in narcotics are not appropriated by terrorist groups and warlords, as suggested by the UNODC report.

There are powerful business and financial interests behind narcotics. From this standpoint, geopolitical and military control over  the drug routes is as strategic as oil and oil pipelines.

However, what distinguishes narcotics from legal commodity trade is that narcotics constitutes a major source of wealth formation not only for organised crime but also for the US intelligence apparatus, which increasingly constitutes a powerful actor in the spheres of finance and banking.

In turn, the CIA, which protects the drug trade, has developed complex business and undercover links to major criminal syndicates involved in the drug trade.

In other words, intelligence agencies and powerful business syndicates allied with organized crime, are competing for the strategic control over the heroin routes. The multi-billion dollar revenues of narcotics are deposited in the Western banking system. Most of the large international banks together with their affiliates in the offshore banking havens launder large amounts of narco-dollars.

This trade can only prosper if the main actors involved in narcotics have “political friends in high places.”  Legal and illegal undertakings are increasingly intertwined, the dividing line between “businesspeople” and criminals is blurred. In turn, the relationship among criminals, politicians and members of the intelligence establishment has tainted the structures of the state and the role of its institutions.

Where does the money go?  Who benefits from the Afghan opium trade?

This trade is characterized by a complex web of intermediaries. There are various stages of the drug trade, several interlocked markets, from the impoverished poppy farmer in Afghanistan to the wholesale and retail heroin markets in Western countries. In other words, there is a “hierarchy of prices” for opiates.

This hierarchy of prices is acknowledged by the US administration:

“Afghan heroin sells on the international narcotics market for 100 times the price farmers get for their opium right out of the field”.(US State Department quoted by the Voice of America (VOA), 27 February 2004).

According to the UNODC, opium in Afghanistan generated in 2003 “an income of one billion US dollars for farmers and US$ 1.3 billion for traffickers, equivalent to over half of its national income.”

Consistent with these UNODC estimates, the average price for fresh opium was $350 a kg. (2002); the 2002 production was 3400 tons.  (http://www.poppies.org/news/104267739031389.shtml ).

The UNDOC estimate, based on local farmgate and wholesale prices constitutes, however, a very small percentage of the total turnover of the multibillion dollar Afghan drug trade. The UNODC, estimates “the total annual turn-over of international trade” in Afghan opiates at US$ 30 billion. An examination of the wholesale and retail prices for heroin in the Western countries suggests, however, that the total revenues generated, including those at the retail level, are substantially higher.

Wholesale Prices of Heroin in Western Countries

It is estimated that one kilo of opium produces approximately 100 grams of (pure) heroin. The US DEA confirms that “SWA [South West Asia meaning Afghanistan] heroin in New York City was selling in the late 1990s for $85,000 to $190,000 per kilogram wholesale with a 75 percent purity ratio (National Drug Intelligence Center, http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs/648/ny_econ.htm ).

According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) “the price of SEA [South East Asian] heroin ranges from $70,000 to $100,000 per unit (700 grams) and the purity of SEA heroin ranges from 85 to 90 percent” (ibid). The SEA unit of 700 gr (85-90 % purity) translates  into a wholesale price per kg. for pure heroin ranging between $115,000 and $163,000.

The DEA figures quoted above, while reflecting the situation in the 1990s, are broadly consistent with recent British figures. According to a report published in the Guardian (11 August 2002), the wholesale price of (pure) heroin in London (UK) was of the order of 50,000 pounds sterling, approximately $80,000 (2002).

Whereas as there is competition between different sources of heroin supply, it should be emphasized that Afghan heroin represents a rather small percentage of the US heroin market, which is largely supplied out of Colombia.

Retail Prices

US

“The NYPD notes that retail heroin prices are down and purity is relatively high. Heroin previously sold for about $90 per gram but now sells for $65 to $70 per gram or less. Anecdotal information from the NYPD indicates that purity for a bag of heroin commonly ranges from 50 to 80 percent but can be as low as 30 percent. Information as of June 2000 indicates that bundles (10 bags) purchased by Dominican buyers from Dominican sellers in larger quantities (about 150 bundles) sold for as little as $40 each, or $55 each in Central Park. DEA reports that an ounce of heroin usually sells for $2,500 to $5,000, a gram for $70 to $95, a bundle for $80 to $90, and a bag for $10. The DMP reports that the average heroin purity at the street level in 1999 was about 62 percent.”  (National Drug Intelligence Center, http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs/648/ny_econ.htm ).

The NYPD and DEA retail price figures seem consistent. The DEA price of $70-$95, with a purity of 62 percent translates into $112 to $153 per gram of pure heroin. The NYPD figures are roughly similar with perhaps lower estimates for purity.

It should be noted that when heroin is purchased in very small quantities,  the retail price tends to be much higher. In the US, purchase is often by “the bag”; the typical bag according to Rocheleau and Boyum contains 25 milligrams of pure heroin.(http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/drugfact/american_users_spend/appc.html )

A $10 dollar bag in NYC (according to the DEA figure quoted above) would convert into a price of $400 per gram, each bag containing 0.025gr. of pure heroin. (op cit). In other words, for very small purchases marketed by street pushers, the retail margin tends to be significantly higher. In the case of the $10 bag purchase, it is roughly 3 to 4 times the corresponding retail price per gram.($112-$153)

UK

In Britain, the retail street price per gram of heroin, according to British Police sources, “has fallen from £74 in 1997 to £61 [in 2004].” [i.e. from approximately $133 to $110, based on the 2004 rate of exchange] (Independent, 3 March 2004). In some cities it was as low as £30-40 per gram with a low level of purity. (AAP News, 3 March 2004). According to Drugscope (http://www.drugscope.org.uk/ ), the average price for a gram of heroin in Britain is between £40 and £90 ($72- $162 per gram) (The report does not mention purity). The street price of heroin was £60 per gram in April 2002 according to the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

 (See: http://www.drugscope.org.uk/druginfo/drugsearch/ds_results.asp?file=%5Cwip%5C11%5C1%5C1%5Cheroin_opiates.html )

The Hierarchy of Prices

We are dealing with a hierarchy  of prices, from the farmgate price in the producing country, upwards, to the final retail street price. The latter is often 80-100 times the price paid to the farmer.

In other words, the opiate product transits through several markets from the producing country to the transshipment country(ies), to the consuming countries. In the latter, there are wide margins between “the landing price” at the point of entry, demanded by the drug cartels and the wholesale prices and the retail street prices, protected by Western organized crime.

The Global Proceeds of the Afghan Narcotics Trade

In Afghanistan, the reported production of 3600 tons of opium in 2003 would allow for the production of approximately 360,000 kg of pure heroin. Gross revenues accruing to Afghan farmers are roughly estimated by the UNODC to be of the order of $1 billion, with 1.3 billion accruing to local traffickers.

When sold in Western markets at a heroin wholesale price of the order of $100,000 a kg (with a 70 percent purity ratio), the global wholesale proceeds (corresponding to 3600 tons of Afghan opium) would be of the order of 51.4 billion dollars. The latter constitutes a conservative estimate based on the various figures for wholesale prices in the previous section.

The total proceeds of the Afghan narcotics trade (in terms of total value added) is estimated using the final heroin retail price. In other words, the retail value of the trade is ultimately the criterion for measuring the importance of the drug trade in terms of revenue generation and wealth formation.

A meaningful estimate of the retail value, however, is almost impossible to ascertain due to the fact that retail prices vary considerably within urban areas, from one city to another and between consuming countries, not to mention variations in purity and quality (see above).

The evidence on retail margins, namely the difference between wholesale and retail values in the consuming countries, nonetheless, suggests that a large share of the total (money) proceeds of the drug trade are generated at the retail level.

In other words, a significant portion of the proceeds of the drug trade accrues to criminal and business syndicates in Western countries involved in the local wholesale and retail narcotics markets. And the various criminal gangs involved in retail trade are invariably protected by the “corporate” crime syndicates.

90 percent of heroin consumed in the UK is from Afghanistan. Using the British retail price figure from UK police sources of $110 a gram (with an assumed 50 percent purity level), the total retail value of the Afghan narcotics trade  in 2003 (3600 tons of opium) would be the order of 79.2 billion dollars. The latter should be considered as a simulation rather than an estimate.

Under this assumption (simulation), a billion dollars gross revenue to the farmers in Afghanistan (2003) would generate global narcotics earnings, –accruing at various stages and in various markets– of the order of 79.2 billion dollars. These global proceeds accrue to business syndicates, intelligence agencies, organized crime, financial institutions, wholesalers, retailers, etc. involved directly or indirectly in the drug trade.

In turn, the proceeds of this lucrative trade are deposited in Western banks, which constitute an essential mechanism in the laundering of dirty money.

A very small percentage accrues to farmers and traders in the producing country. Bear in mind that the net income accruing to Afghan farmers is but a fraction of the estimated 1 billion dollar amount. The latter does not include payments of farm inputs, interest on loans to money lenders, political protection, etc. (See also UNODC, The Opium Economy in Afghanistan,  http://www.unodc.org/pdf/publications/afg_opium_economy_www.pdf , Vienna, 2003, p. 7-8)

The Share of the Afghan Heroin in the Global Drug Market

Afghanistan produces over 70 percent of the global supply of heroin and heroin represents a sizeable fraction of the global narcotics market, estimated by the UN to be of the order of $400-500 billion.

There are no reliable estimates on the distribution of the global narcotics trade between the main categories: Cocaine, Opium/Heroin, Cannabis, Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS), Other Drugs.

The Laundering of Drug Money

The proceeds of the drug trade are deposited in the banking system. Drug money is laundered in the numerous offshore banking havens in Switzerland, Luxembourg, the British Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands and some 50 other locations around the globe.  It is here that the criminal syndicates involved in the drug trade and the representatives of the world’s largest commercial banks interact. Dirty money is deposited in these offshore havens, which are controlled by the major Western commercial banks. The latter have a vested interest in maintaining and sustaining the drug trade. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, The Crimes of Business and the Business of Crimes, Covert Action Quarterly, Fall 1996)

Once the money has been laundered, it can be recycled into bona fide investments not only in real estate, hotels, etc, but also in other areas such as the services economy and manufacturing. Dirty and covert money is also funneled into various financial instruments including the trade in derivatives, primary commodities, stocks, and government bonds.

Concluding Remarks: Criminalization of US Foreign Policy

US foreign policy supports the workings of a thriving criminal economy in which the demarcation between organized capital and organized crime has become increasingly blurred. 

The heroin business is not  “filling the coffers of the Taliban” as claimed by US government and the international community: quite the opposite! The proceeds of this illegal trade are the source of wealth formation, largely reaped by powerful business/criminal interests within the Western countries. These interests are sustained by US foreign policy.

Decision-making in the US State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon is instrumental in supporting this highly profitable multibillion dollar trade, third in commodity value after oil and the arms trade.

The Afghan drug economy is “protected”.

The heroin trade was part of the war agenda. What this war has achieved is to restore a compliant narco-State, headed by a US appointed puppet.

The powerful financial interests behind narcotics are supported by the militarisation of the world’s major drug triangles (and transshipment routes), including the Golden Crescent and the Andean region of South America (under the so-called Andean Initiative).


Table 1

Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

Year                         Cultivation in hectares               Production (tons)

1994                                 71,470                                    3,400

1995                                 53,759                                    2,300

1996                                 56,824                                    2,200

1997                                 58,416                                    2,800

1998                                 63,674                                    2,700

1999                                 90,983                                    4,600

2000                                 82,172                                    3,300

2001                                   7,606                                       185

2002                                 74 000                                    3400

2003                                 80 000                                    3600

Source: UNDCP, Afghanistan, Opium Poppy Survey, 2001, UNOCD, Opium Poppy Survey, 2002. http://www.unodc.org/pdf/afg/afg_opium_survey_2002.pdf

See also Press Release: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/press_release_2004-03-31_1.html , and 2003 Survey:  http://www.unodc.org/pdf/afg/afghanistan_opium_survey_2003.pdf

When I grew up in semi-rural Pennsylvania, everybody had guns, and guns were never a concern. People had guns for hunting and for skeet and target shooting. I had a 0.22 long barreled Remington rifle for varmint hunting, mainly to keep from being inundated by migrating urban rats. My brother had a shotgun; I never knew what kind. My memory is that he used that shotgun only once. He had, at the time, a desire to be a pheasant hunter, and the first time he hunted, he came home with a bloodied carcass which he proudly presented to our mother. Never having dealt with a fully feathered bird full of buckshot before, she spent an agonizing afternoon trying to make it fit for cooking. By the time she finished, my poor brother’s pride had been replaced by sorrow and chagrin. He never hunted again. Not another pheasant was ever killed by a member of my family.

But nobody had guns for protection. If guns are needed for protection, the society has already failed. The little community I grew up in had no police force; in the eighteen years I lived there, it had not a single officer. It had no jail, no courthouse, and not a single lawyer. No house was ever broken into, and no one was ever assaulted. People rarely locked their doors. The people in that little community not only liked each other, they cared for one other. They were not only pleased when the needy were helped, they eagerly took part in helping.

The government that existed was there when needed and invisible when not. People did not distrust their government, were not afraid of its becoming tyrannical, and trivial offenses were ignored. Although it was unlawful to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday, the town had a speakeasy that was open seven days a week and no one ever cared. As a small child, I often accompanied my father when he went there. As he drank his tankard of beer, I sipped a modicum from a shot glass. And I did not become an alcoholic! A miracle, I’m sure! In the twelve years I attended public schools, no policeman or security guard was ever needed for any function, not even athletic events. (Good thing, since the community lacked one.)

That world is now gone. In less than a century, in a single lifetime! it vanished. Now many people refuse to help the needy and resent it when they are helped. A miasma of meanness now hovers over America. Although it does not afflict everyone, it afflicts enough to make meanness a dominant American attribute. It can be observed everywhere—in the halls of Congress and in our classrooms where students bully their classmates, in a college band whose members beat one of their own to death in an activity called hazing, in the killing that takes place on our streets and in our homes, schools, and places of work, in the dialogs spoken in movies and on television programs. No one likes or trusts anyone, especially the government. Americans are a poorly educated, uncouth, uncivil, uncaring people. (No, not everyone.) They have turned civil society into a mob.

I live in a sparsely populated, gated community that epitomizes this nation. With only a population of around 15,000, it boasts of 21 churches. Four of these are affiliated with the same protestant theological denomination; yet their congregations do not like one another well enough to worship together in the same building. Americans don’t live together; they merely live side by side. America’s Christians not only dislike non-Christians, they dislike each other too. In general, we are a mean spirited and spiteful people.

Americans who oppose the legalization of abortion because they claim to believe that life is sacred stand by silently as people of all ages are gunned down in their communities every day. It’s as though the births are needed to ensure that shooters will always have targets since no provision is ever made to care for the newly born. The hungry have to rely on intermittent charity, the homeless, cardboard boxes, and the sick, seemingly endless waits in emergency rooms. An asthmatic resident of my home state recently died in one while waiting to be examined. A simple injection would have saved her. Abandoned street children unite in street gangs which hunt one another. The unemployed become hunters of people and gatherers of their goods. People seethe with covert racial, religious, sexual, and other biases. Love thy neighbor as thy self has no practical meaning, no cash value, as William James would have put it.

So what has happened? Well, answer these questions and try to figure it out:

What difference is there between a President who has a kill list and squads of assassins called navy seals and a Cosa Nostra Don who orders assassinations? Is the Director of the CIA whose agents assassinate people any better than a Mafia Godfather?

How can a government that boasts of killing people in faraway places seriously lament the killing that takes place in its own cities? Many more Americans were killed avenging 9-11 than were killed on that day. Revenge, a mean spirited activity, is more important than people’s lives. Humane people never take pride in killing.

How can a nation that shrugs its shoulders over collateral killings in, say, Pakistan, bemoan the killings of bystanders in gangland crossfire or even those killed in their bedrooms during drive-by shootings?

How can a nation claim it values life while its police routinely get away with killing unarmed and often handicapped people by merely claiming a fear that their lives were in danger?

How can a government not be tyrannical when it consists of true ideological believers who seek to impose their beliefs on everyone else? Tyrannical governments are made up of tyrannical people. John Stuart Mill long ago proved in his pamphlet, On Liberty, that freedom is impossible without tolerance for differences. But even America’s university graduates haven’t read that little pamphlet. The expression “educated American” is for the most part an oxymoron.

Of course, there have always been two kinds of people—humanitarians and inhumanitarians. And a majority of the people in a mean society do not have to be mean. The amount of meanness perpetrated, not the number of people who perpetrate it, is the definitive element. The meanness evident in America is overwhelming. Civil behavior is almost entirely absent. Barbarians are at the helm of the ship of state and have been for a long time.

The meanness that has afflicted America is responsible for its domestic violence. It is also responsible for the violence Americans inflict internationally. Meanness cannot be compartmentalized. There is no such thing as a nice, mean fellow. No mean person is nice; nice guys are never mean.

The germ that carries this affliction is the predominant political economy fostered by the commercial, political, and economic communities. Capitalism is an extractive activity that exploits workers and consumers and has never succeeded in serving the needs of any nation’s entire population. Marketing is a universal lie. People always fall through the cracks in institutions and the institutional elite care nothing about those who drop. Capitalist societies always consist of first and second class citizens; they are characterized by people who agree with Henry Vanderbilt’s statement, “The public be damned.” And the public is and always has been. America’s elite have never sacrificed anything for this people in general.

Commercial competition does not foster concern for others. Individualism fosters antagonism. Looking out for number one always ends up denying what is needed to number two. Charity is not a commercial virtue. Capitalism is institutionalized meanness. It is the primeval miasma manifested in greed. It is the disease that makes human beings inhumane, and it is fatal.

Why then would those in other nations look up to America and want to emulate its culture of meanness? Why aren’t they revolted by it? Why won’t they simply stop being led by their noses?

There can only be one answer. The meanness has not only afflicted America, it has afflicted others too. The primeval miasma transcends national borders. That is the tragedy of being human.

Unless the meanness that pervades human societies can be ameliorated, no human society will ever be worthy of being called a force for good in the world. The violence in America, or anywhere else, will never be substantially reduced until the reduction of meanness itself, not its various means, becomes the object of human action.

John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.

Italian voters have unambiguously rejected the politics of the Monti government and the European Union. This has triggered panic and outrage in Europe’s capitals and unleashed ferocious tremors on the international finance markets.

Some 55 percent of the electorate voted for parties that spoke out against the EU in their campaigns. The slate headed by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, which was supported by Brussels, Berlin, the Catholic Church and numerous Italian businessmen, only received 10 percent of the vote.

The Five Stars Movement of the comedian Beppe Grillo has become the single strongest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian parliament, winning slightly more than 25 percent of the vote. It came just ahead of the Democratic Party of Pier Luigi Bersani. The joint slate of the Democratic Party and Sinistra Ecologia Libertà (SEL) is the strongest force in the lower house and is thus awarded 340 of the 630 seats under existing electoral law.

Grillo won support by raging against the EU and the entire political caste on his blog and on town squares. He heaped insults upon them, calling them irresponsible, incompetent and extravagant, and demanded, “They must all go.”

The election for the Chamber of Deputies was extremely close. The slate headed by media billionaire and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had also opposed the EU, received just 0.4 percent fewer votes than Bersani’s slate. If Berlusconi had received 125,000 more votes, it would be he who now held the majority in the Chamber of Deputies.

The 29.5 percent vote for Bersani’s slate is significantly less than in the last election five years ago, which Berlusconi won. At that time, the Democrats won 33 percent themselves, and 38 percent for their combined slate with other parties.

No list has a majority in the upper house, the Senate, where the seats are not awarded nationally, but are based on the results of the twenty regions. Bersani won 119 seats, Berlusconi 117, Grillo 54 and Monti 18. Since all laws must be passed by both chambers of parliament, Bersani needs the support of Berlusconi or Grillo to form a working majority for his government.

This has led to outrage in the capitals of Europe and the media. “Italy is paralysed and ungovernable”, ran the comments in numerous editorials, which blamed the Italian electorate for this situation and berated them for it. Some read as if the author wanted to abolish free elections sooner rather than later.

For example, the Frankfurter Rundschau accused Italian voters of a “flight from reality”. “If one were being malicious, you might come to the idea that Italian voters were for sale”, the paper, which is close to Germany’s trade unions wrote. “They prefer the political show-boating of two entertainers like Berlusconi and Grillo to the sober analysis of the economic politician Mario Monti and the social democrat Pier Luigi Bersani, who do not hide the fact that the way out of the debt crisis is and will remain painful for everyone”.

In reality, Mario Monti is anything but a sober professor of economics. The former EU commissioner is a trusted steward of international finance capital. He has worked for the investment bank Goldman Sachs and was a board member of the Bilderberg Conference, an informal gathering of influential people in big business, the military, politics, the media, academia and the aristocracy.

Following his defeat, Monti will hardly play a role in the next Italian government. But it cannot be excluded that Bersani may reach an agreement with Berlusconi or Grillo to continue Monti’s austerity programme.

Berlusconi, who is primarily concerned with protecting his own wealth and ensuring his immunity in face of numerous criminal cases, has already sent the appropriate signals to Bersani. “Italy must not remain ungoverned, we must think about it”, he said on Tuesday in a TV interview, casting his glance towards the Democrats.

Grillo, despite his tirades against corrupt politicians and the wealthy, is one of the top earners in the country. In 2011, he paid taxes on an official income of €4.5 million, and said proudly: “I have really earned my money.”

Behind his populist tirades lies a right-wing liberal world view, which would not stop him from cosying up to the far right. Grillo insists that he is neither right-wing nor left-wing, and invited neo-Nazis and supporters of the racist Northern League to support his movement, “if they share our ideas”.

In the northern Italian city of Parma, where Grillo’s Five Stars Movement has held the office of mayor since May, it has made headlines mainly through implementing strict austerity measures.

Grillo’s programme is a muddled collection of unrelated demands, such as can be found with the Pirate Party, the Greens, and liberal and right-wing parties: free internet access for all, ecological energy, no money for defence and major transportation projects, benefits for all, protection of domestic industries from international competition, restriction of politicians’ salaries, cutting jobs in the state apparatus, and so on.

The fact that opposition to the austerity measures of Monti and the EU has benefited the populist Grillo and right-wing demagogue Berlusconi is a result of the utter bankruptcy of the so-called Italian left.

The Italian Communist Party (PCI), the largest in Western Europe, has defended the Italian state since the end of the Second World War. However, due to the Cold War and the party’s relationship with the Soviet Union, it was never in government; thus the PCI retained the hammer and sickle on its banner and enjoyed considerable support among workers.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it gave up these symbols and transformed itself first into a social democratic party and then, modelling itself on the Democrats in the US, into the Democratic Party. In the meantime, it has become the government party of choice not only of the Italian but also the European bourgeoisie.

Another wing of the PCI, hanging on to the old symbols, formed Rifondazione Comunista (PRC, Communist Refoundation) and absorbed numerous middle-class pseudo-left groups into its ranks. In the 1990s, the PRC was hailed throughout Europe as a model for new “left” parties. In fact, it used its considerable influence to secure a parliamentary majority for the anti-working class politics of several technocrat-led and centre-left governments.

In 2006, following Rifondazione’s entry into the government of Romano Prodi, a forerunner to Mario Monti, the PRC broke apart. Since then, none of the organizations that have emerged from the PRC have seriously challenged the politics of Monti, because they basically all agree with them.

In the 2008 parliamentary elections, Sinistra Critica, which belongs to the Pabloite United Secretariat, received 169,000 votes. This time, it opted not to participate in the elections in order not to take away any votes from Bersani. It justified this by saying that “today there is no political and organizational basis … for a broad anti-capitalist alliance”.

The PRC itself joined a slate with liberal and green parties under the leadership of the former anti-Mafia attorney Antonio Ingraio, which proclaimed the fight against corruption and criminality to be the priority, while social questions played hardly any role in its campaign. Ingraio’s slate received 765,000 votes but obtained no seats in parliament. Five years ago, a rainbow alliance led by PRC had received 1.12 million votes.

The Italian elections and the political crisis that they have triggered herald fierce social struggles in Italy and throughout Europe.

Há uma longa história de fundação e apoio, dissimulado, às brigadas de terror e aos assassinatos de alvos políticos, que vêm do tempo da guerra do Vietnã

16/01/2013

Michel Chossudovsky,

Global Research

O recrutamento de morte-esquadrões, ou seja, esquadrões da morte, faz parte de uma agenda de inteligência militar bem estabelecida nos Estados Unidos. Há uma longa história de fundação e apoio, dissimulado, às brigadas de terror e aos assassinatos de alvos políticos, que vêm do tempo da guerra do Vietnã.

As forças governamentais sírias, ainda hoje estão confrontando o autoproclamado “Exército Livre da Síria” –FSA. No contexto atual, isso exige o focusar das raízes históricas da guerra, por já encoberta, do ocidente contra a Síria, guerra essa que já resultou em inúmeras atrocidades. As raízes históricas da situação serão então aqui estruturadas e encaradas.

Desde o começo, em março de 2011, os Estados Unidos e seus aliados tem apoiado a formação de esquadrões da morte, assim como a invasão do território da Síria por brigadas terroristas. Trata-se de um trabalho organizacional, cuidadosamente planejado.

O recrutamento e o treino de brigadas terroristas tanto no Iraque quanto na Síria, foram modelados na denominada “Salvador Option”, aqui traduzida como “A Opção de El Salvador”. Esse é um m modelo terrorista, para mortes e assassinatos em massa, efetuados por um governo estabelecido. Em El Salvador, na América Central, o cenário visualizado pelo modelo “Salvador Option” foi implementado pelos esquadrões da morte patrocinados pelos Estados Unidos.

Esse modelo de recrutamento e treino de brigadas terroristas, por governos constituídos, foi implementado no próprio El Salvados no apogeu da resistência contra a ditadura militar no país. O resultado final foi avaliado em cerca de 75.000 mortes.

Os esquadrões da morte hoje na Síria fazem parte desse contexto. Tendo começado em El Salvador, o modelo foi desenvolvido no Iraque. Os esquadrões da morte hoje então na Síria foram construídos baseados na história e na experiência das brigadas terroristas do Iraque. Brigadas terroristas essas patrocinadas, como dito, pelos Estados Unidos.

O Pentágono denominou esse seu programa de “contrainsurreição” – “counterinsurgency”.

[Definindo termos: Favor observar aqui a necessidade de se exigir definições rigorosas, e convincentes, dos termos usados:- qual é a validade de se invadir um país e depois denominar a reação dos habitantes alternativamente como insurreição, rebelião, ou mesmo “terrorismo”?]

O estabelecimento dos Esquadrões da Morte no Iraque

Os esquadrões da morte patrocinados pelos Estados Unidos foram recrutados no Iraque em 2004-2005 numa iniciativa lançada abaixo da direção do embaixador americano John Negroponte, que foi mandado para Bagdá pelo Departamento do Estado Americano, em junho de 2004.

Negroponte era o homem certo para o trabalho, uma vez que tinha sido embaixador para Honduras de 1981 a 1985. Negroponte fez um papel central em apoiar e em supervisionar os Contras de Nicarágua, que estavam baseados em Honduras. Ao mesmo tempo ele também supervisionava as atividades dos esquadrões da morte – militares- de Honduras.

“No governo do general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, o governo militar de Honduras era tanto um aliado íntimo da administração de Reagan quanto “fazia desaparecer” muitos oponentes políticos. Isso na clássica forma de trabalho usada por esquadrões da morte.”

Em janeiro de 2005, o Pentágono confirmou que estava considerando: “formar esquadrões de ataque de combatentes Shia e Curdos , para atacar líderes da resistência iraquiana. Isso numa mudança estratégica vinda da experiência da luta contra as guerrilhas de esquerda da América Central, a 20 anos atrás” .

Abaixo da denominada “Opção El Salvador” forças iraquianas e americanas deveriam ser mandadas a matar ou sequestrar líderes da insurreição, mesmo na Síria, onde alguns dos insurgentes teriam tido então abrigo.

Esquadrões de ataque sendo controversos, deveriam provavelmente ter de ser mantidos secretos.

A experiência dos “esquadrões da morte” na América Central continua a ser uma experiência brutal para muitos, e ainda continuam contribuindo para sujar a imagem dos Estados Unidos na região.

Tem se ainda que a administração de Reagan deu fundos e treinou times de forças nacionalistas para neutralizar os líderes rebeldes salvadorenhos, assim também como os que com eles simpatizavam.

John Negroponte, o embaixador americano em Bagdá, tinha um lugar privilegiado de observação dado o seu tempo como embaixador em Honduras de 1981-85.

Esquadrões da morte era uma parte brutal da política latino-americana de então…

No começo dos anos oitenta a administração de Reagan, deu fundos e treino aos Contras de Nicarágua baseados em Honduras, com o objetivo de derrubar o regime sandinista de Nicarágua Os Contras foram equipados com o dinheiro obtido pela venda americana, ilegal, de armas ao Irã. Esse foi um escândalo que poderia ter derrubado Reagan do poder.

O impulso da proposta do Pentágono no Iraque… era o de seguir esse modelo…

Não ficou claro se o objetivo principal da missão seria o de matar os rebeldes ou sequestrá-los para levá-los a interrogatórios, no Iraque…mas.. Qualquer missão na Síria seria provavelmente feita pelas Forças Especiais dos Estados Unidos.

Também não ficou claro quem iria ter a responsabilidade pelo programa, se o Pentágono ou a Agência Central de Inteligência, ou seja, a CIA. Essas operações feitas abaixo de panos – encobertas, tem tradicionalmente sido feitas pela CIA, a um braço de distância da administração em poder, dando aos oficiais americanos a possibilidade de negar conhecimento da situação. (El Salvador-style “death squads” to be deployed by US against Iraq militants – Times Online, January 10, 2005, emphasis added – as ênfases foram acrescentadas)

Enquanto o objetivo especificado da “Opção Salvadorenha para o Iraque” seria a de acabar com a resistência, na prática as brigadas terroristas patrocinadas pelos Estados Unidos se envolveram em matanças rotineiras de civis, tendo em visto o atiçar uma violência sectária.

Por seu turno, a CIA assim como a MI6 estavam superintendendo unidades da “Al Qaeda no Iraque” envolvidas em assassinados de alvos demarcados e dirigidos contra a população Shiite. É importante de se ressaltar que os esquadrões da morte foram integrados assim como aconselhados, encoberta e dissimuladamente, pelas Forças Especiais dos Estados Unidos.

– ..Depois apontado como embaixador dos Estados Unidos na Síria, fazia parte do time de Negroponte em Bagdá, durante o período de 2004-2005. Em janeiro 2004 ele foi mandado como representante americano para a cidade Shiite de Najaf, que era um foco forte do exército “Mahdi, com o qual ele fez contatos preliminares.

Em janeiro de 2005, Robert S. Ford foi apontado como Ministro Conselheiro para Assuntos Políticos – Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs- na Embaixada dos Estados Unidos, abaixo da direção do embaixador John Negopronte. Ele não somente fazia parte do círculo mais próximo e fechado de Negroponte. Ele era também o associado dele no estabelecimento da “Opção Salvadorenha” no Iraque. O terreno já tinha então sido preparado em Najaf, antes da transferência de Ford a Bagdá.

John Negroponte e Robert Stephen Ford foram encarregados de recrutar os esquadrões da morte iraquianos. Enquanto Negroponte coordenava as operações a partir de seu gabinete na Embaixada dos Estados Unidos, Robert S. Ford que falava fluentemente tanto árabe como a língua turca, teve a incumbência de estabelecer contatos estratégicos com os grupos militantes Shiite e Curdos, fora da “Zona Verde”-“Green Zone”.

Dois outros oficiais da embaixada, nomeadamente Henry Ensher – auxiliar ou deputado de Ford, assim como um oficial mais jovem da secção política, Jeffrey Beals, tiveram um papel importante no time que então “falava com alguns segmentos iraquianos, incluindo extremistas”. (Veja The New Yorker, March 26, 2007). Uma outra pessoa-chave no time de Negroponte era James Franklin Jeffrey, embaixador dos Estados Unidos, na Albânia 2002-2004. Jeffrey veio a tornar-se embaixador dos Estados Unidos para o Iraque, entre 2010-2012.

Negroponte também trouxe para dentro do time um de seus antigos colaboradores, o Coronel James Steele, retirado dos seus dias de apogeu em Honduras.

Durante a “Opção El Salvador” no Iraque, Negroponte foi assistido por um colega dos anos oitenta, ou seja, dos seus dias na América Central. Esse colega de Negroponte no Iraque era então o aposentado Coronel James Steele.

Steele, que recebeu em Bagdá o título de Conselheiro das Forças de Segurança Iraquianas -Counselor for Iraqi Security Forces- supervisionou a seleção e o treino dos membros da Organização Badr e do Exército Mahdi, as duas maiores milícias Shiitas, no Iraque. Isso com a intenção de fazer de alvo a direção e a rede de apoio da resistência, primordialmente Sunni, do Iraque. Tenha sido planejado, ou não, esses esquadrões da morte logo ficaram fora de controle e se tornariam na causa de morte número 1, no Iraque.

Se foi a intenção original ou não, o número de corpos torturados e mutilados surgindo nas ruas de Bagdá todos os dias foram obras dos esquadrões da morte, que por sua vez eram impulsionados por John Negroponte. E, foi a violência sectária apoiada pelos Estados Unidos que levou em muito grande parte ao infernal desastre que é o Iraque de hoje. (Dahr Jamail, Managing Escalation: Negroponte and Bush´s New Iraq Team. Antiwar.com, January 7, 2007)

De acordo com o Republicano Dennis Kucinich o coronel Steele era o responsável, pela implementação do plano em El Salvador, onde dezenas de milhares salvadorenhos “desapareceram” ou foram assassinados, inclusive então também o Arquebispo Oscar Romero, assim também como quatro freiras americanas.

Logo do seu apontamento para Bagdá, o Coronel Steele foi encaminhado para a unidade de contrainsurreição, unidade essa conhecida como o Comando Policial Especial- “Special Police Commando”, abaixo do Ministério do Interior do Iraque. (Veja ACN, Havana, 14 de junho 2006).

Relatórios confirmam que “os militares americanos entregaram muitos prisioneiros para a Wolf Brigade – o temido 2º batalhão dos comandos especiais do ministério do interior” , que então estavam abaixo do comando do Coronel Steele. Os prisioneiros foram entregados para “interrogatórios adicionais”. . Peter Mass do New York Times confirma que:

“US soldados, conselheiros dos EUA, estavam em posição observando, sem fazer nada,” enquanto membros da “Wolf Brigade” batiam, assim como torturavam os prisioneiros. Os comandos do Ministério do Interior do Iraque teriam então também tomado a biblioteca pública de Samara para a transformar num centro de detenção.

Uma entrevista conduzida por Mass em 2005 nesse local transformado em prisão e em companhia do conselheiro militar americano da “Wolf Brigade”, o coronel James Steele, foi interrompida pelos gritos aterrorizados de um prisioneiro fora do local, disse ele. Steele como consta do protocolo foi empregado anteriormente como conselheiro para ajudar a esmagar a resistência em El Salvador.” (Ibid)

Um outro elemento notório que teve um papel no programa da contrainsurreição no Iraque foi o ex-Comissionário da Polícia de Nova Iorque, Bernie Kerik que em 2007 foi indicado em corte federal por 16 acusações judiciais.

Kerik foi o enviado pela administração de Bush, no começo da ocupação do Iraque, para organizar e treinar a força policial do Iraque. Durante o seu curto termo em 2003, Kerik –que preencheu o posto de interim Ministro do Interior- trabalhou para organizar unidades de terror dentro da Força Policial do Iraque: mandado para o Iraque para por as forças de segurança iraquiana em forma, Kerik usava a denominação “ministro interim do interior do Iraque”. Entretanto, conselheiros policiais britânicos o chamavam de o “exterminador de Bagdá”. (Salon, 9 de dezembro de 2004)

Abaixo da direção de Negroponte, da Embaixada dos Estados Unidos em Bagdá, uma onda de assassinatos encobertos de civis, assim também como assassinatos de pessoas entendidas como alvos, foi deslanchada. Engenheiros, médicos, cientistas e intelectuais foram alvos. O autor e analista geopolítico Max Fuller, documentou em detalhe as atrocidades cometidas abaixo do programa de contrainsurreição patrocinado pelos Estados Unidos.

O aparecer dos esquadrões da morte entraram primeiramente em foco em maio de 2005 quando foi reportado que…dezenas de corpos tinham sido depositados…em terrenos baldios ao redor de Bagdá. Todas as vítimas tinham as mãos presas em algemas, estavam com os olhos vedados e tinham sido baleadas na cabeça. Muitos deles mostravam sinais de terem sido brutalmente torturados…

A evidência foi suficiente para motivar a Associação de Acadêmicos Muçulmanos –Association of Muslim Scholars, AMS, uma conhecida e importante organização Sunnita a fazer declarações públicas na qual acusavam as forças de segurança ligadas ao Ministério do Interior, assim como a Badr Brigade, a ex-ala armada do Conselho Supremo da Revolução Islâmica no Iraque –Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI, por estar por detrás dessas mortes. Eles também acusaram o Ministério do Interior de estar conduzindo terrorismo de estado (Financial Times).

Os Comandos Policiais assim como a “Wolf Brigade” eram supervisionadas pelo “programa de contrainsurreição”, no Ministério do Interior do Iraque :

Os Comandos Policiais eram formados abaixo da experiência, tutelagem e supervisão de combatentes americanos, veteranos de contrainsurreição. Os comandos policiais iraquianos então, desde o começo conduzindo operações conjuntas com as unidades de forças de elite, altamente secretas.(Reuters, National Review Online).

…James Steele foi uma figura chave no desenvolver dos Comandos Especiais da Polícia – Special Police Comandos do Iraque. Ele foi um operativo das forças especiais do Exército dos Estados Unidos, que tendo começado no Vietnã foi depois mandado para dirigir a missão militar dos Estados Unidos em El Salvador, no auge da guerra civil, no país…

Outro contribuinte no desenvolver dos Comandos Especiais da Polícia, no Iraque, foi o mesmo Steven Casteel que como o mais experiente conselheiro dos Estados Unidos no Ministério do Interior afastou sem maiores considerações as bem substanciadas acusações de apavorantes violações dos direitos humanos como “rumores e insinuações”.

Assim como Steele, Casteel também ganhou considerável experiência na América Latina, no caso dele através de participar na perseguição do barão da cocaína, Pablo Escobar, nas narco-guerras da Colômbia, nos anos noventa…

O cenário da história pessoal de Casteel é importante nesse caso, porque o tipo de papel de apoio na colheita de informação e na produção de listas de morte, nas quais as suas experiências na América Latina foram baseadas então, são características do envolvimento dos Estados Unidos em programas de contrainsurreição, constituindo um elemento básico no que se poderia perceber como acaso, ou orgias de carnificinas desconexas.

Comentários do Departamento de Defesa dos Estados Unidos em 2005…Esses tipos de genocídios planificados de forma centralizada são consistentes com os acontecimentos no Iraque…Isso é também consistente com o pouco que sabemos a respeito dos Comandos Especiais da Polícia, que foi projetada para prover o Ministério do Interior com uma força de capacidade de ataque especial. (Departamento de Defesa dos Estados Unidos).

Max Fuller comentou, no contexto, que em mantendo esse papel os quartéis de Comando da Polícia tinham se tornado no centro de um comando nacional de controle, comunicação, informática e inteligência – Cortesia dos Estados Unidos. (Max Fuller, op cit).

Essa inicial preparação de terreno, estabelecida abaixo da direção de Negroponte, em 2005, permitiu a implementação das atividades abaixo de seu sucessor, o embaixador Zalmay Khalilzad. Robert Stephen Ford garantiu a continuidade do projeto antes do seu apontamento como embaixador dos Estados Unidos na Argélia em 2006, assim também como depois do seu retorno a Bagdá, como Chefe Deputado da Missão – Deputy Chief of Mission, em 2008.

Síria: “Aprendendo pela experiência do Iraque”

A macabra versão iraquiana da “Opção El Salvador” abaixo da direção do embaixador John Negroponte serviu como modelo para a construção dos Contras do “Exército Livre da Síria”. Robert Stephen Ford esteve muito provavelmente envolvido na implementação do projeto dos Contras na Síria, depois do seu apontamento como Chefe Deputado da Missão –Deputy Head of Mission em Bagdá, 2008.

Na Síria o objectivo era o de criar divisões faccionais entre as comunidades Sunnitas, Shiitas, Curdas e Cristãs. Conquanto o contexto da Síria seja completamente diferente da do contexto do Iraque, existem também surpreendentes similaridades ao que diz respeito aos procedimentos pelos quais as atrocidades e matanças foram, e continuam sendo conduzidas.

Uma reportagem publicada pelo Der Spiegel em relação as atrocidades cometidas na cidade síria de Homs confirma um processo sectário de assassinatos em massa e mortes extrajudiciais, ou seja assassinatos, comparáveis as conduzidas pelos esquadrões da morte no Iraque, esquadrões patrocinados pelos Estados Unidos.

As pessoas em Homs eram de forma rotineira categorizadas como “prisioneiros” (Shia, Alawita) e “traidores”. Os traidores eram os civis Sunnitas, dentro da área urbana ocupada pelos rebeldes, que expressavam discordância ou oposição ao reino de terror do Exército Livre da Síria -“Free Syrian Army” –FSA:

“Desde o último verão [2011], nós executamos pouco menos que 150 homens, o que representa cerca de 20% dos nossos prisioneiros,” disse Abu Rami…. Mas os executores de Homs estiveram mais ocupados com traidores dentro de suas próprias falanges do que com prisioneiros de guerra. “Se pegamos um Sunnita espionando, ou se um cidadão trai a revolução, fazemos o processo curto, disse o combatente. De acordo com Abu Rami, “Hussein´s burial brigade” teria posto entre 200 a 250 traidores a morte, desde o começo da sublevação.” (Der Spiegel, March 30, 2012)

Projeto em andamento avançado

Preparações ativas para a operação síria teriam certamente sido iniciadas quando da chamada de Ford da Argélia, nos meados de 2008 para um novo apontamento na embaixada dos Estados Unidos no Iraque.

O processo exigia um programa inicial de recrutamento e treino de mercenários. Esquadrões da morte, incluindo unidades Salafistas do Líbano e da Jordânia entraram pela fronteira sul da Síria -com a Jordânia, nos meados de março de 2011. Muito da preparação do terreno estava já pronta antes da chegada de Robert Stephen Ford a Damasco, em janeiro de 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foto : Embaixador Ford em Hama no começo de julho de 2011

O apontamento de Ford como embaixador da Síria foi anunciado no começo de 2010. As relações diplomáticas estiveram cortadas desde 2005 após o assassinato de Rafik Hariri, do qual os Estados Unidos acusaram a Síria. Ford chegou em Damasco apenas dois meses antes do começo da insurreição.

O Exército Livre Da Síria – FSA

Washington e seus aliados replicaram na Síria as características essenciais da “Opção El Salvador –do Iraque”, levando a criação do Exército Livre da Síria -FSA- e as suas várias facções incluindo a brigada “Al Nusra”, afiliada a Al Qaeda.

Apesar da criação do Exército Livre da Síria –FSA ter sido anunciada em junho de 2011, o recrutamento e treino dos mercenários, vindos de fora do país, foram iniciados muito anteriormente.

Em muitos aspectos, o Exército Livre da Síria é uma cortina de fumaça, usada para enublar e desvanecer os contornos da realidade. O denominado Exército Livre da Síria é apresentado pela mídia ocidental como uma entidade de boa fé, estabelecida como resultado de defecções em massa das forças governamentais. O número das defecções no entanto, não foram nem significantes, nem suficientes para estabelecer uma estrutura militar coerente, com os devidos comandos e controles de função.

O Exército Livre da Síria não é uma entidade militar profissional, é mais uma rede não estruturada, constituída por diversas brigadas terroristas, as quais por seu turno, são constituídas por muitas células paramilitares, agindo em diversas partes do país.

Cada uma dessas organizações opera independentemente. O Exército Livre da Síria- FSA, não exerce funções de controle ou comando efetivos e isso inclui também não efetividade nas suas ligações e contatos com as entidades paramilitares. Essas entidades paramilitares estão em sua grande parte controladas pelas forças especiais, assim como profissionais da inteligência, patrocinados pelos EUA-OTAN. Tanto as forças especiais como os profissionais da inteligência são encaixados, ou incrustados, nas alas das várias formações terroristas.

Essas forças especiais “no solo” – muitas das quais contratadas de companhias particulares de segurança, estão de forma rotineira, em contacto com EUA-OTAN, assim também como com unidades de comando da inteligência militar dos outros envolvidos. As Forças Especiais estão, muito provavelmente, também envolvidas nos ataques devastadores, muito cuidadosamente planejados, dirigidos contra as instalações governamentais, conjuntos militares, e muitos outros objetos centrais e sensíveis.

Os esquadrões da morte são mercenários recrutados e treinados pelos EUA-OTAN, e seus aliados do Golfo Pérsico, GCC. Eles são supervisionados pelas forças especiais aliadas, assim como por companhias particulares de segurança -em contrato com a OTAN e o Pentágono. Relatórios confirmam o emprisionamento pelas forças governamentais da Síria, de cerca de 200-300 contratados de firmas particulares de segurança, contratados esses que estavam integrados nas alas dos rebeldes.

A Fronte Al 

Fronte Al Nusra -que se entende como afiliada a Al Qaeda- é descrita como o grupo rebelde mais efetivo na luta da oposição. Al Nusra é o grupo responsável por muitos dos maiores –high profile- ataques de bombas. O grupo Al Nusra é apresentado como um inimigo dos Estados Unidos, e está na lista de organizações terroristas do Departamento de Estado.

Entretanto, as ações da Al Nusra apresentam as características, ou impressões digitais, dos treinos e das tácticas paramilitares dos Estados Unidos. As atrocidades cometidas contra civis pelo grupo Al Nusra são similares a aquelas feitas pelos esquadrões da morte patrocinados pelos EUA no Iraque.

Nas palavras do líder da Al Nusra, Abu Adnan, in Aleppo:- “Jabhat al-Nusra conta com veteranos sírios da guerra do Iraque entre seus números, homens que trazem perícia – especialmente na construção de dispositivos explosivos (IEDs) para o fronte na Síria.”

Como no Iraque, violência entre facções e limpeza étnica foram ativamente promovidas. Na Síria as comunidades Alawita, Shia e Cristãs foram alvo dos esquadrões da morte patrocinados pelos EUA-OTAN. A comunidade cristã foi um dos alvos centrais no programa de assassinatos.

Relatórios confirmam o influxo de Salafistas e esquadrões da morte afiliados a Al Qaeda abaixo dos auspícios da Irmandade Muçulmana para dentro da Síria, desde o começo da insurreição, em março 2011.

Ainda mais, reminiscente do alistamento dos Mujahideen para lutar a jihad –guerra santa- da CIA no auge da guerra União Soviética-Afeganistão, guerra essa que a OTAN e a Turquia (the Turkish High command) tinham iniciado…

… “uma campanha para alistar milhares de voluntários Muçulmanos nos países do Oriente Médio e no Mundo Muçulmano para lutar lado a lado com os rebeldes sírios. O Exército turco iria acomodar esses voluntários, treiná-los e assegurar a passagem dos mesmos para dentro da Síria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank-weapons, August 14, 2011).

Companhias particulares de segurança : recrutamento e treino de mercenários

De acordo com o que foi relatado, companhias particulares de segurança operando dos países do Golfo estão envolvidas em recrutamento e treino de mercenários.

Apesar de não especialmente marcadas para o recrutamento dos mercenários dirigidos contra a Síria, relatórios apontam para uma criação de campos de treinamento em Qatar e no Emirados Árabes Unidos –UAE. Na cidade militar de Zaved –Zaved Military City, UAE, “um exército secreto está sendo construído”, operado por Xe Services, antes denominado Blackwater. O acordo da UAE para estabelecer um campo militar para treino de mercenários foi assinado em julho de 2010, nove meses antes dos furiosos ataques contra a Líbia e a Síria.

Em desenvolvimentos recentes, companhias de segurança em contrato com a OTAN e o Pentágono estiveram envolvidas em treinar os esquadrões da morte no uso de armas químicas.

“Os Estados Unidos e alguns aliados europeus estão usando contratados da defesa para treinar os rebeldes sírios em como assegurar provisões de armas químicas na Síria, um sênior oficial dos Estados Unidos, e diversos diplomatas informaram a CNN, domingo” (CNN Report, December 9, 2012).

Os nomes das companhias envolvidas não foram revelados.

Atrás de portas fechadas no departamento de Estado dos EUA

Robert Stephen Ford fazia parte de um pequeno time no Departamento do Estado Americano que supervisionava o recrutamento e treino de brigadas terroristas, conjuntamente com Derek Chollet e Frederic C. Hof, um ex-associado de negócios de Richard Armitage, que serviu como “coordenador especial” de Washington, em assuntos da “Síria”. Derek Chollet foi recentemente apontado para a posição de “Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs” (ISA)- [Secretário Auxiliar da Defesa para Assuntos de Segurança Internacional]

Esse time trabalhou abaixo da direção do ex-Auxiliar Secretário de Estado para Assuntos do Próximo Oriente –Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

O time de Feltman estava em próximo contacto com os processos de recrutamento e treino dos mercenários da Turquia, Qatar, Arábia Saudita e Líbia (cortesia do pós-Kaddafi regime, que despachou -600- tropas da “Libya Islamic Fightin Group”-LIFG para a Síria, via Turquia, nos meses a seguir o colapso do governo de Kadafi, em setembro 2011.

O Auxiliar Secretário do Estado, Feltman, esteve em contacto com o Ministro do Exterior Saudita, o Príncipe Saud al Faisal , e o Ministro do Exterior de Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim. Ele também esteve encarregado do gabinete para “coordenação especial de segurança” relacionado a Síria e baseado em Doha. Esse gabinete incluía representantes das agências de inteligência do ocidente, assim como do GCC e representantes da Líbia. O Príncipe Bandar bin Sultan, a prominente e controverso membro da inteligência Saudita fazia parte desse grupo. (Veja Press TV, May 12, 2012).

Em junho 2012, Jeffrey Feltman foi apontado UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, uma posição estratégica que, na prática consiste em por a agenda da ONU (em favor de Washington) em assuntos pertencendo a “Resolução de Conflitos” em vários focus de problema ao redor do globo. Isso inclui Somália, Líbano, Líbia, Síria Iêmem e Mali. Numa amarga ironia, os países para a “resolução de conflitos” da ONU são então aqueles mesmos sendo alvos das operações, encobertas, dos Estados Unidos.

“Terrorismo com Face Humana” é sustentado pelo Conselho de Direitos Humanos da Organização das Nações Unidas, conselho esse que constitui-se num canal de atuação para apoio do conceito “Intervenção Humanitária” da OTAN. Esse conceito está categorizado abaixo abaixo da doutrina “Responsabilidade de Proteger” (R2P).

A culpa pelas atrocidades cometidas pelos esquadrões da morte dos EUA-OTAN são despreocupadamente jogadas para cima do governo de Bashar Al Assad, de acordo com Navi Pillay, Alto Comissário do Conselho de Direitos Humanos da ONU.

“Essa massiva perda de vida poderia ter sido evitada se o Governo da Síria tivesse escolhido um caminho diferente do que a cruel supressão do que inicialmente era um legítimo e pacífico protesto de civís não armados,” (citado em Stephen Lendman, UN Human Rights Report on Syria: Camouflage of US-NATO Sponsored Massacres, Global Research, January 3, 2012)

O real objetivo de Washington, o indizível,  consiste em destruir  a Síria como nação soberana ao longo de linhas étnicas e religiosas. O objetivo real é o de dividir a Síria em diversas  separadas  e “independentes” entidades políticas.

Michel Chossudovsky

4 de Janeiro de 2013

Referências e Notas:

Prof. Michel Chossudovsky,  “Terrorism With a “Human Face”: The History of America´s Death Squads” – Global Research, 2013-01-04

Texto original en inglés :

Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads

Tradução: Anna Malm – Correspondente de Pátria Latina na Europa

En francés :

Terrorisme à “visage humain”: L’histoire des escadrons de la mort des États-Unis

En espanhol :

Terrorismo con “cara humana”: La historia de los escuadrones de la muerte de EE.UU. By Prof Michel Chossudovsky,

 

25 de enero de 2013. II República de Egipto, año 2. Vuelta a la casilla de salida. El «Irhal» (¡Vete!) ha reaparecido, pero con una diferencia importante, el eslogan de la Revolución ahora es «El pueblo quiere la caída de los Hermanos». Ni siquiera el muro del palacio presidencial se ha librado de las pintadas antiislamistas.

Este cambio de consigna no es trivial, ni mucho menos. Se inserta en la continuación de la protesta, que no ha cesado enero de 2011, pero sobre todo es la expresión de un cambio profundo de la revolución popular, tanto de la identidad de los actores como de sus métodos de acción.

 

Hay que recordar que la «Primavera» egipcia anti-Mubarak fue iniciada y organizada por jóvenes ciberactivistas (en particular los miembros del Movimiento 6 de Abril) cuyos líderes se beneficiaron de diversa formación financiada por organismos estadounidenses «de exportación» de la democracia. Algunos de ellos fueron entrenados por el CANVAS (*) serbio en la ideología de resistencia individual no violenta teorizada por el filósofo estadounidense Gene Sharp (1). La no violencia predicada por los ciberactivistas contra un régimen policial famoso por sus métodos brutales fue una de las características de la «Primavera» egipcia, y en gran parte constituye el secreto de su eficacia. Hasta el punto de que Gene Sharp en persona se declaró particularmente orgulloso del trabajo realizado por los jóvenes egipcios (2).

 

Gene Sharp

 

Junto a los discípulos de la escuela de Sharp, los grupos procedentes de los movimientos de hooligans participaron desde el principio en la revolución popular egipcia.

Después de sufrir la represión policial de la época de Mubarak desde su creación a mediados de los años 2000, los «Ultras», forofos de algunos equipos de fútbol egipcios, desarrollaron cierta experiencia en los enfrentamientos con la policía. De un estatuto de matones y delincuentes antes de la Revolución, ganaron su fama gracias al savoir faireadquirido en los años de rebelión contra la brutalidad de las fuerzas del orden. Calificados por la prensa de «valientes», se hicieron famosos por hallarse siempre en primera línea en los enfrentamientos contra la policía durante las múltiples manifestaciones de la «Primavera» egipcia.

Más recientemente ha aparecido un nuevo movimiento de protesta violenta en el panorama de la insurrección egipcia. Se trata del «Black Bloc», una organización inspirada en grupúsculos anarquistas europeos. Enmascarados y vestidos de negro invaden la calle y no dudan en usar la fuerza para luchar contra el gobierno islamista del presidente Morsi.

Utilizando la violencia como herramienta de reivindicación, los Ultras y los Black Bloc son actualmente la punta de lanza de la protesta popular en Egipto. Apenas dos años después del estallido de la «Primavera Árabe», la teoría de Gene Sharp ha quedado totalmente encerrada en el armario.

Ultras: «Todos los policías son unos bastardos»

Cuatro letras sirven de leitmotiv a los Ultras: ACAB, acrónimo de «All corps are bastards» (Todos los policías son unos bastardos).

 

Mucho antes de la revolución primaveral árabe, los Ultras habían declarado la guerra a todo lo que representaba la autoridad. Los sucesos de principios del año 2011 les ofrecieron la oportunidad de mostrar sus habilidades fuera de los estadios de fútbol.

Según algunos especialistas, los Ultras no tienen un perfil social muy claro. Son jóvenes «unidos por la edad y por códigos de honor que se caracterizan tanto por la lealtad a su equipo como por su enemistad con las fuerzas de seguridad» (3).

Aunque procedentes de medios claramente distintos de los de los activistas, su acción se considera de primer orden. Se les reconoce un papel importante, en particular contra los «baltaguia» en la famosa «bataille du chameau» del 2 de febrero de 2011 (4), así como en el largo y sangriento enfrentamiento contra las fuerzas policiales de la calle Mohamed Mahmud en noviembre de 2011 (5).

Todos los grandes equipos de fútbol egipcios tienen sus propios Ultras. Por ejemplo podemos citar a los Ahlawy de El-Ahly, los Wite Knights de Zamalek, los Green Eagles de Port Saïd, los Green Magic de Alejandría y los Yellow Dragons de Ismaïlia.

Los Ultras tienen un poder de movilización muy importante que despierta el apetito de los partidos políticos, «Los Ultras White Knights pueden, ellos solos, conseguir que en unos minutos salgan a las calles 25.000 personas dispuestas a luchar», explica un miembro del grupo (6).

Aunque los Ultras de los diferentes equipos se detestan en «tiempos de paz», la «Primavera Árabe» ha conseguido reconciliarlos en torno a un proyecto común: hostigar a las fuerzas del orden y proteger a los manifestantes. Así, hemos visto a los Ahlawy y los White Knights unir sus esfuerzos en la plaza Tahrir y en las calles «calientes» de El Cairo.

Ahlawy es un orgullo para mí, Zamalkawy es un hermano para mí. ACAB.

Según James Dorsey, autor del blog «Le monde turbulent du football au Moyen-Orient», «[Los Ultras] representan una de las principales fuerzas del país, quizá la segunda tras los Hermanos Musulmanes» (7).

Esta connivencia de los ultras contra las autoridades egipcias se ha visto seriamente comprometida por lo que se denomina comúnmente «la tragedia de Port-Saïd», donde hubo al menos 74 muertos y cientos de personas resultaron heridas. El partido celebrado el 1 de febrero de 2012 en Port-Saïd que enfrentaba al Ahly de El Cairo contra el club local se convirtió en una batalla campal .

La masacre se desarrolló bajo la mirada complaciente de las fuerzas del orden que no levantaron un dedo para detenerla y un gran número de seguidores del Ahly perdieron la vida.

¿La razón? Según los seguidores del club cairota todo estaba organizado para vengarse de los Ultras Ahlawy por su papel preponderante en la revuelta primaveral y la agresividad que descargaron regularmente sobre los militares y la policía.

Los Ultras del club de Port-Saïd fueron acusados de complicidad con las fuerzas del orden, señalando que al contrario que los Ahlawy los Green Eagles lanzaron consignas militaristas durante el partido.

Los Ultras de Port-Saïd, por su parte, negaron cualquier implicación en la matanza. En un artículo al respecto publicado por el periódico Egypt Independent podemos leer que «la violencia de Port-Saïd fue obra de agentes infiltrados, no de los Ultras» (8).

El hecho es que esa tragedia no solo creó mucho resentimiento, sino que sobre todo dividió las filas de los Ultras, resultado que pretendían las fuerzas del orden, según algunos.

Los Ultras Ahlawy amenazaron al gobierno con fuertes represalias si no condenaba severamente a los responsables de la muerte de sus partidarios. Unos días antes del juicio se manifestaron ruidosamente bloqueando la circulación y una estación del metro. Su eslogan: «justicia o caos».

Graffiti de los Ultras avisando a la justicia egipcia

 

El primer juicio de la «tragedia de Port-Saïd» tuvo lugar el 26 de enero de 2013. Veintiuna personas sospechosas de implicación en la masacre fueron condenadas a la pena capital. Los aullidos de las familias de las víctimas estallaron en la sala de la audiencia y los Ahlawy celebraron el veredicto .

Por su parte, las familias de los condenados no aceptaron el veredicto. Hay que señalar que ningún oficial de policía figuraba en la lista de los 21 condenados a muerte (9).

Los disturbios que siguieron a la decisión judicial causaron casi tantas víctimas como la «tragedia de Port-Saïd». Cinco días después del veredicto se contaban 56 muertos, la mayoría en la ciudad de Port-Saïd, a la que los activistas de dicha ciudad rebautizaron con el nombre de «Port-Shahid» (Puerto de los Mártires, N. de T.).

También hay que señalar que el gobierno de Morsi mostró una auténtica ignorancia de la oportunidad temporal. Hacer que coincidiera un juicio tan delicado con el segundo aniversario del levantamiento contra Mubarak mientras el clima social era explosivo demuestra una auténtica inconsciencia.

Al presidente Morsi no se le ocurrió una idea mejor que «tuitear» sus condolencias a las familias afectadas, gesto muy mal recibido por los destinatarios.

Mientras todos los intentos de reconciliación entre los Ahlawy y los Green Eagles se han saldado con fracasos (10), la continuación del juicio de «la tragedia de Port-Saïd» está fijada para el próximo 9 de marzo.

Las manifestaciones y los abusos también.

El Black Bloc «caos contra la injusticia»

La reciente aparición del Black bloc en el panorama contestatario egipcio se ha publicitado mucho a escala local e internacional. Incluso un periódico ha titulado: «Los Black Bloc destronan a los revolucionarios en Egipto» (11). Nada menos. Todos los esfuerzos invertidos por los revolucionarios primigenios para hacer de «su revolución» un modelo de no violencia que habría hecho saltar de alegría a su maestro de pensamiento Gene Sharp han sido en vano. La forma de actuar del Black Bloc está en las antípodas de las enseñanzas de los serbios de CANVAS. Enmascarados, vestidos de negro, armados de palos y proyectiles incendiarios, tienen fama de «matones» aunque ellos lo niegan. Sin embargo su consigna es «caos contra la injusticia».

 

 Miembros del Black Bloc

 

«Nos llaman ‘la generación perdida’ y nos tratan de delincuentes. Pero lo que nos importa es salvar el honor de los mártires», dijo uno de ellos que se presentó como cofundador del movimiento (12).

Igual que los Ultras, los Black Bloc están contra las fuerzas de la policía: «hay que volver a juzgar a los policías procesados por matar a los manifestantes y que han sido absueltos. Tenemos sus nombres y se los entregamos al Fiscal» (13).

Pero desde su primer comunicado colgado en Youtube, sus principales objetivos son el gobierno de Morsi y la cofradía de los Hermanos Musulmanes, de la que procede el presidente. Los miembros del Black Bloc aparecen desfilando y enarbolando banderas anarquistas en un Mensaje de vídeo que dice, entre otras cosas:

«Somos el grupo Black Bloc, parte del todo que forma el mundo. Militamos desde hace años por la liberación del ser humano, la eliminación de la corrupción y el derrocamiento del tirano. Por eso aparecemos oficialmente para enfrentarnos al tirano fascista (Hermanos Musulmanes) y su brazo armado […]. Gloria a los mártires. Victoria para la Revolución» (14).

Mientras los miembros del Black Bloc egipcio claman que su movimiento no es político, ni religioso ni deportivo (en comparación con los Ultras), Essam El-Haddad, asesor de Asuntos Exteriores del presidente Morsi, los acusó de «violencia sistemática y crimen organizado en todo el país», a la vez que incriminaba a la oposición por aprobar el movimiento. Esas acusaciones han sido repetidas por los Hermanos Musulmanes, que han calificado a los Black Bloc de «grupo de matones» que atacan a las instituciones del Estado, a la policía y a la propiedad privada (15).

El Fiscal General de la República Egipcia, Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah (cuyo reciente nombramiento por el gobierno de Morsi levantó una oleada de protestas de la oposición), ordenó la detención de cualquier persona sospechosa de pertenecer al Black Bloc, calificando al grupo de «organización terrorista» (16).

Tras las primeras detenciones de presuntos miembros del Black Bloc, la oficina del Fiscal declaró que uno de los detenidos será procesado por su implicación en un «proyecto israelí de sabotaje» (17).

Sin embargo algunos periodistas señalaron que los miembros de las milicias de los Hermanos Musulmanes que atacaron a los manifestantes, durante los enfrentamientos en las proximidades del palacio presidencia en 2012, también estaban enmascarados, sin que eso hiciera reaccionar a la presidencia ni a la oficina del Fiscal.

Esas mismas milicias difundieron un vídeo en el que amenazaban de muerte a «los anarquistas que pretenden la caída del régimen» (18).

Otro grupo islamista, Jamaa Islamiya, ha llamado a la «crucifixión» de los miembros del Black Bloc (19).

Por su parte, los «revolucionarios» primigenios creen que el Black Bloc procede de los Hermanos Musulmanes y su misión es sabotear el movimiento de protesta (20).

Wael Ghoneim, uno de los ciberactivistas más publicitados del escenario egipcio (21), participó en una reunión organizada por la universidad Al-Azhar el 31 de enero de 2013 a la que asistieron personalidades religiosas, miembros de la oposición del Frente de Salvación Nacional, los Hermanos Musulmanes y cierto número de activistas.

Al final de la reunión Ghoneim declaró : «el objetivo de esta reunión no es político, sino que está dirigido a lanzar una iniciativa para acabar con la violencia. Se trata de una iniciativa moral para detener el derramamiento de sangre. Por eso los jóvenes del Movimiento del 6 de Abril pidieron a Al-Azhar que se celebrase esta reunión y que se reúna a todas las fuerzas políticas de Egipto (22).

Un pequeño problema: Aunque la cofradía de los Hermanos Musulmanes estuvo representada en la reunión ningún miembro oficial de gobierno se unió a esa iniciativa de paz.

¿Podrán los ciberactivistas primigenios devolver la «revolución» a su paradigma inicial de no violencia?

Sin una apertura real del gobierno islamista de Egipto y la formación de un gobierno de unión nacional que agrupe a todas las fuerzas vivas del país, es dudoso.

 Ahmed Bensaada

ahmedbensaasa.com

Texto original en francés :

Égypte : Un face-à-face dramatiqueLa violence : Nouveau modus operandi de la contestation «révolutionnaire» en Egypte, 19 février 2013

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Caty R.

Notas:

* CANVAS (Siglas en ingles del «Centro para el Conflicto y las Estrategias No violentas»), fue creado por líderes estudiantiles serbios que participaron en la exitosa revuelta que derribó a Slobodan Milosevic en el año 2000. Durante dos años, los estudiantes organizaron protestas creativas, marchas y actos que acabaron desestabilizando el régimen. Después reunieron su capital de conocimientos en manuales y comenzaron a dar clases a grupos de oposición de diversos países sobre la forma de organizarse para derrotar al gobierno (Nota de la traductora).

 

(1) Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine: Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Michel Brûlé, Montreal (2011); Synergie, Argel (2012).

(2) Aimée Kligmanm « Why is Gene Sharp credited for Egypt‘s revolution? », Examiner.com , 5 de marzo de 2011.

(3) Lucie Ryzova , « The Battle of Muhammad Mahmud Street: Teargas, Hair Gel, and Tramadol » , Jadaliyya, 28 de noviembre de 2011.

(4) Les Inrocks, « Égypte: les Ultras d’Al-Ahly, gardiens de l’après-révolution à Tahrir », 10 de diciembre de 2012.

(5) Ver nota 3.

(6) Claire Talon, « Égypte: génération Ultras », Le Monde, 17 de octubre de 2011.

(7) So Foot, « En privé, les Ultras égyptiens se préparaient aux manifestations », 3 de diciembre de 2012.

(8) Abdel-Rahman Hussein « Port Said violence was work of infiltrators, not Ultras, say locals » Egypt Independent, 2 de febrero de 2012.

(9) Egypt Independent , « No police officers sentenced to death in Saturday Port Said ruling », 26 de enero de 2013.

(10) Ali Radi, « Les Ultras Green Eagles refusent la réconciliation avec les fans d’El-Ahly », Ahly Sport, 9 de febrero de 2013.

(11) Marwan Chahine, « En Égypte, les Black Bloc détrônent les révolutionnaires », Le Nouvel Observateur, 29 de enero de 2013.

(12) RTS, « Le Black Bloc égyptien, une nouvelle race de révolutionnaires », 30 de enero de 2013.

(13) Hélène Sallon, « Les “Black bloc”, nouveau visage de la contestation égyptienne », Le Monde, 2 de febrero de 2013.

(14) Youtube« Premier communiqué. Black Bloc Égypte », 23 de enero de 2013.

(15) Maggie Michael, « Masked ‘Black Bloc’ a Mystery in Egypt Unrest », Time World, 28 de enero de 2011.

(16) Arabic CNN, « Égypte: un mandat d’arrêt pour tous les membres du Black Block », 29 de enero de 2013.

(14) Taïeb Mahjoub, « Égypte: le Black Bloc, un groupe mystérieux dans le collimateur du pouvoir », AFP, 31 de enero de 2013.

(15) Aliaa Al-Korachi, « Contestations: Black Block, derrière les masques noirs, la violence », Al-Ahram Hebdo, 30 de enero de 2013.

(16) Peter Beaumont Patrick Kingsley , « Violent tide of Salafism threatens the Arab spring » The Guardian, 10 de febrero de 2013.

(17) Moïna Fauchier Delavigne, « Les Black bloc, ces nouveaux révolutionnaires égyptiens prêts à employer la force », France 24, 31 de enero de 2013.

(18) Ahmed Bensaada, « Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe: le cas de l’Égypte » Mondialisation, 24 de febrero de 2011.

(19) Nancy Messieh y Tarek Radwan , « Egypt’s al-Azhar Talks », Atlantic Council, 1 de febrero de 2013.

 

 

For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

More than 10 days ago, Congressmen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano initiated the forthright letter, circulating it among House colleagues. Addressed to President Obama, the letter has enabled members of Congress to take a historic stand: joining together in a public pledge not to vote for any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

The Grayson-Takano letter is a breath of fresh progressive air, blowing away the customary fog that hangs over such matters on Capitol Hill.

The Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, signed the letter. So did Barbara Lee, the caucus whip. But no signer can be found among the five vice chairs of the Progressive Caucus: Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Michael Honda, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Jan Schakowsky. The letter’s current list of signers includes just 16 members of the Progressive Caucus (along with five other House signers who aren’t part of the caucus).

What about the other 54 members of the Progressive Caucus? Their absence from the letter is a clear message to the Obama White House, which has repeatedly declared its desire to cut the Social Security cost of living adjustment as well as Medicare. In effect, those 54 non-signers are signaling: Mr. President, we call ourselves “progressive” but we are unwilling to stick our necks out by challenging you in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; we want some wiggle room that you can exploit.

In contrast, the House members on the short list of the letter’s signers deserve our praise for taking a clear stand: Brown, Cartwright, Conyers, DeFazio, Ellison, Faleomavaega, Grayson, G. Green, Grijalva, Gutierrez, A. Hastings, Kaptur, Lee, McGovern, Nadler, Napolitano, Nolan, Serrano, Takano, Velazquez and Waters.

If you don’t see the name of your representative in the above paragraph, you might want to have a few words. (For a list of the 54 Progressive Caucus members who haven’t signed the letter, click here.)

It’s one thing — a fairly easy thing — to tell someone else what you hope they’ll do, as 107 House Democrats did recently in a different letter to President Obama: “We write to affirm our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. . . . We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits.”

It’s much more difficult — and far more crucial — for members of Congress to publicly commit themselves not to vote for any cuts in those programs, which are matters of life and death for vast numbers of Americans.

Even a signed pledge to do or not do something, in terms of a floor vote, is no guarantee that a member of Congress will actually follow through. But in a situation like this, the pledge is significant — and even more significant is a refusal to make such a pledge.

As of now, 54 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have taken a historic dive. We should take note — and not forget who they are.

Norman Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Big Food Is Making Us Sick

The Independent reports that small farmers are being challenged by food companies are becoming insanely concentrated:

Increasingly, a handful of multinationals are tightening their grip on the commodity markets, with potentially dramatic effects for consumers and food producers alike.

***

Three companies now account for more than 40 per cent of global coffee sales, eight companies control the supply of cocoa and chocolate, seven control 85 per cent of tea production, five account for 75 per cent of the world banana trade, and the largest six sugar traders account for about two-thirds of world trade, according to the new publication from the Fairtrade Foundation.

***

This is the year “to put the politics of food on the public agenda and find better solutions to the insanity of our broken food system”.

More people may be shopping ethically – sales of Fairtrade cocoa grew by more than 20 per cent last year to £153m – but, according to the report, the world’s food system is “dangerously out of control”.

How is that effecting the safety of our food supply? Reuters notes:

Multinational food, drink and alcohol companies are using strategies similar to those employed by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies, health experts said on Tuesday.

In an international analysis of involvement by so-called “unhealthy commodity” companies in health policy-making, researchers from Australia, Britain, Brazil and elsewhere said … that through the aggressive marketing of ultra-processed food and drink, multinational companies were now major drivers of the world’s growing epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Writing in The Lancet medical journal, the researchers cited industry documents they said revealed how companies seek to shape health legislation and avoid regulation.

This is done by “building financial and institutional relations” with health professionals, non-governmental organizations and health agencies, distorting research findings, and lobbying politicians to oppose health reforms, they said.

They cited analysis of published research which found systematic bias from industry funding: articles sponsored exclusively by food and drinks companies were between four and eight times more likely to have conclusions that favored the companies than those not sponsored by them.

How are giant food manufacturers trying to influence legislation?

As Waking Times reports, they’re trying to gag all reporting:

States are adopting laws meant to keep consumers in the dark about where their food comes from.

Do you have a right to know where that steak on your plate came from?

Should it be legal to photograph chicken farms and dairy cows?

Big Agriculture says you don’t and it shouldn’t. Armies of Big Ag lobbyists are pushing for new state-level laws across the country to keep us all in the dark. Less restrictive versions have been law in some states since the 1980s, but the meat industry has ratcheted up a radical new campaign.

This wave of “ag-gag” bills would criminalize whistleblowers, investigators, and journalists who expose animal welfare abuses at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Ten states considered “ag-gag” bills last year, and Iowa, Missouri, and Utah approved them. Even more are soon to follow.

Had these laws been in force, the Humane Society might have been prosecuted for documenting repeated animal welfare and food safety violations at Hallmark/Westland, formerly the second-largest supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program. Cows too sick to walk were being slaughtered and that meat was shipped to our schools, endangering our kids. The investigation led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

***

Big Ag wants to silence whistleblowers rather than clean up its act. Ag-gag bills are now pending in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, Nebraska, and New Hampshire. Similar legislation may crop up in North Carolina and Minnesota.

The bills aren’t identical, but they share common language — sometimes even word-for-word. Some criminalize anyone who even “records an image or sound” from a factory farm. Others mandate that witnesses report abuses within a few hours, which would make it impossible for whistleblowers to secure advice and protection, or for them to document a pattern of abuses.

Indiana’s version of this cookie-cutter legislation ominously begins with the statement that farmers have the right to “engage in agricultural operations free from the threat of terrorism and interference from unauthorized third persons.” [The Feds are treating people who expose abuse in factory farms as potential terrorists … and the states want the same power.]

Yet these bills aren’t about violence or terrorism. They’re about truth-telling that’s bad for branding. For these corporations, a “terrorist” is anyone who threatens their profits by exposing inhumane practices that jeopardize consumer health.

***

Ag-gag bills aren’t about silencing journalists and whistleblowers. They’re about curbing consumer access to information at a time when more and more Americans want to know where our food comes from and how it’s produced.

The problem for corporations is that when people have information, they act on it. During a recent ag-gag hearing in Indiana, one of the nation’s largest egg producers told lawmakers about a recent investigation. After an undercover video was posted online, 50 customers quickly called and stopped buying their eggs. An informed public is the biggest threat to business as usual.

An informed public is also the biggest threat to these ag-gag bills. In Wyoming, one of the bills has already failed. According to sponsors, it was abandoned in part because of negative publicity. By shining a light on these attempts, we can make sure that the rest fail as well, while protecting the right of consumers to know what they’re buying.

So what – exactly – are the giant food corporations trying to hide?

They are fraudulently substituting cheaper – less healthy – food for high-quality. food.   And see this.

Indeed, the dairy industry wants to add sweeteners – such as aspartame – to milk without any labeling.

Food fraud is rampant .. including huge proportions of fish.

The bottom line is that collusion between government and big business is dishing up cheap, unhealthy food … just like collusion between D.C. and giant corporations caused the financial crisis, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the Gulf oil spill and other major disasters (and see this; and take a peek at number 9).

For example, the FDA:

  • Declared fish from Fukushima a-okay after radiation spewed into the ocean

The Department of Agriculture:

An official U.S. government report finds that Americans ‘are sicker and die younger’ than people in other wealthy nations.  There are a number of factors for this sickness … but unhealthy, cheap food is part of it.

Incisive and provocative analysis first published by Global Research in August 2003.

You might think that reading about a Podunk University’s English teacher’s attempt to connect the dots between the poverty of American education and the gullibility of the American public may be a little trivial, considering we’ve embarked on the first, openly-confessed imperial adventure of senescent capitalism in the US, but bear with me. The question my experiences in the classroom raise is why have these young people been educated to such abysmal depths of ignorance.

“I don’t read,” says a junior without the slightest self-consciousness. She has not the smallest hint that professing a habitual preference for not reading at a university is like bragging in ordinary life that one chooses not to breathe. She is in my “World Literature” class. She has to read novels by African, Latin American, and Asian authors. She is not there by choice: it’s just a “distribution” requirement for graduation, and it’s easier than philosophy -she thinks.

The novel she has trouble reading is Isabel Allende’s “Of Love and Shadows,” set in the post-coup terror of Pinochet’s junta’s Nazi-style regime in Chile, 1973-1989. No one in the class, including the English majors, can write a focused essay of analysis, so I have to teach that. No one in the class knows where Chile is, so I make photocopies of general information from world guide surveys. No one knows what socialism or fascism is, so I spend time writing up digestible definitions. No one knows what Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” is, and I supply it because it’s impossible to understand the theme of the novel without a basic knowledge of that work – which used to be required reading a few generations ago. And no one in the class has ever heard of 11 September 1973, the CIA-sponsored coup which terminated Chile’s mature democracy. There is complete shock when I supply US de-classified documents proving US collusion with the generals’ coup and the assassination of elected president, Salvador Allende.

Geography, history, philosophy, and political science – all missing from their preparation. I realize that my students are, in fact, the oppressed, as Paulo Freire’s “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” pointed out, and that they are paying for their own oppression. So, I patiently explain: no, our government has not been the friend of democracy in Chile; yes, our government did fund both the coup and the junta torture-machine; yes, the same goes for most of Latin America. Then, one student asks, “Why?” Well, I say, the CIA and the corporations run roughshod over the world in part because of the ignorance of the people of the United States, which apparently is induced by formal education, reinforced by the media, and cheered by Hollywood. As the more people read, the less they know and the more indoctrinated they become, you get this national enabling stupidity to attain which they go into bottomless pools of debt. If it weren’t tragic, it would be funny.

Meanwhile, this expensive stupidity facilitates US funding of the bloody work of death squads, juntas, and terror regimes abroad. It permits the war we are waging – an unfair, illegal, unjust, illogical, and expensive war, which announces to the world the failure of our intelligence and, by the way, the creeping weakness of our economic system. Every man, woman, and child killed by a bomb, bullet, famine, or polluted water is a murder – and a war crime. And it signals the impotence of American education to produce brains equipped with the bare necessities for democratic survival: analyzing and asking questions.

Let me put it succinctly: I don’t think serious education is possible in America. Anything you touch in the annals of knowledge is a foe of this system of commerce and profit, run amok. The only education that can be permitted is if it acculturates to the status quo, as happens in the expensive schools, or if it produces people to police and enforce the status quo, as in the state school where I teach. Significantly, at my school, which is a third-tier university, servicing working-class, first-generation college graduates who enter lower-echelon jobs in the civil service, education, or middle management, the favored academic concentrations are communications, criminal justice, and social work–basically how to mystify, cage, and control the masses.

This education is a vast waste of the resources and potential of the young. It is boring beyond belief and useless–except to the powers and interests that depend on it. When A Ukranian student, a three-week arrival on these shores, writes the best-organized and most profound essay in English of the class, American education has something to answer for–especially to our youth.

But the detritus and debris that American education has become is both planned and instrumental. It’s why our media succeeds in telling lies. It’s why our secretary of state can quote from a graduate-student paper, claiming confidently that the stolen data came from the highest intelligence sources. It’s why Picasso’s “Guernica” can be covered up during his preposterous “report” to the UN without anyone guessing the political significance of this gesture and the fascist sensibility that it protects.

Cultural fascism manifests itself in an aversion to thought and cultural refinement. “When I hear the word ‘culture,’” Goebbels said, “I reach for my revolver.” One of the infamous and telling reforms the Pinochet regime implemented was educational reform. The basic goal was to end the university’s role as a source of social criticism and political opposition.

The order came to dismantle the departments of philosophy, social and political science, humanities and the arts–areas in which political discussions were likely to occur. The universities were ordered to issue degrees only in business management, computer programming, engineering, medicine and dentistry – vocational training schools, which in reality is what American education has come to resemble, at least at the level of mass education. Our students can graduate without ever touching a foreign language, philosophy, elements of any science, music or art, history, and political science, or economics.

In fact, our students learn to live in an electoral democracy devoid of politics – a feature the dwindling crowds at the voting booths well illustrate.

The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that, in the rapacity that the industrial revolution created, people first surrendered their minds or the capacity to reason, then their hearts or the capacity to empathize, until all that was left of the original human equipment was the senses or their selfish demands for gratification. At that point, humans entered the stage of market commodities and market consumers–one more thing in the commercial landscape. Without minds or hearts, they are instrumentalized to buy whatever deadens their clamoring and frightened senses–official lies, immoral wars, Barbies, and bankrupt educations.

Meanwhile, in my state, the governor has ordered a 10% cut across the board for all departments in the state – including education.

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Please send your comments/feedback/discussion on this article to [email protected] .

The U.S. and EU have agreed to launch negotiations on what would be the world’s largest free trade deal. Such an agreement would be the basis for the creation of an economic NATO and would include trade in goods, services and investment, as well as cover intellectual property rights. There are concerns that the U.S. could use these talks to push the EU to loosen its restrictions on genetically modified crops and foods. In addition, the deal might serve as a backdoor means to implement ACTA which was rejected by the European Parliament last year.

A U.S.-EU Transatlantic trade agreement is seen as a way of countering China’s growing power and is the foundation for a new global economic order.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama officially announced that the U.S. would launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union (EU). A joint statement issued by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and U.S. President Obama explained that, “Through this negotiation, the United States and the European Union will have the opportunity not only to expand trade and investment across the Atlantic, but also to contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system.”

In a separate speech, European Commission President Barroso also emphasized that, “A future deal between the world’s two most important economic powers will be a game-changer. Together, we will form the largest free trade zone in the world. So this negotiation will set the standard – not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules.”

 The decision to pursue a free trade deal was based on the recommendations put forth by the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth which was created to deepen U.S.-EU economic integration. In their final report, they called on leaders from both sides to, “initiate as soon as possible the formal domestic procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement.” According to U.S. and EU officials, talks could start in June with the hopes of completing a deal by the end of 2014. The proposed trade pact would include removing import tariffs, dismantling hurdles to trade in goods, services, and investment, as well as harmonizing regulations and standards. It would also cover intellectual property protection and enforcement. This could be used as an opportunity for a backdoor implementation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). It was a result of public pressure associated with risks to internet freedom and privacy which lead to ACTA being rejected by the European Parliament in July of 2012. There have already been attempts to use Canada-EU trade negotiations to sneak in parts of ACTA.

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Director, Lori Wallach cautioned how U.S.-EU talks, “are aimed at eliminating a list of what multinational corporations call ‘trade irritants’ but the rest of us know as strong food safety, environmental and health safeguards.” She went on to say, “European firms are targeting aspects of the U.S. financial reregulation regime, our stronger drug and medical device safety and testing standards and more.” Wallach further added, “U.S. firms want Europe to gut their superior chemical regulation regime, their tougher food safety rules and labeling of genetically modified foods.” In a press release, Earth Open Source warned that, “An EU-U.S. free trade deal would obliterate EU safeguards for health and the environment with regard to genetically modified (GM) crops and foods.” Research Director Claire Robinson pointed out, “If the new trade agreement goes through, it will be illegal under World Trade Organisation rules for the EU to have a stronger regulatory system for GMOs than the U.S. system.” This is disturbing considering that in many cases, GM foods in the U.S. do not require any special regulatory oversight or safety tests.

Overshadowed by the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal is ongoing Canada-EU negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Despite talks being in their final stages, both sides still have some important gaps to be bridged before a deal can be reached. Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star acknowledged that, “Europe’s real interest in negotiating a trade deal with Ottawa was to demonstrate to the Americans that a trans-Atlantic free trade pact was possible.” He noted, “EU negotiators will be even more reluctant to make concessions to Canada for fear of weakening their bargaining hand with the Americans.” Walkom argued that, “Canada is under more pressure to make a deal while Europe is under less.” He concluded that. “A Canada-EU deal seems inevitable. But now, with America in the mix, the terms for Canada may be even less favorable than expected.” The Globe and Mail recently reported that the EU is demanding additional concessions from Canada before any agreement can be signed. In order to wrap things up, a desperate Canada may be willing to give up even more. This was a bad deal from the start and it would be in their best interest to just walk away from CETA.

In the coming months, you can expect the anti-corporate globalization movement on both sides of the Atlantic to mobilize against the U.S.-EU trade agreement. It is big business and financial institutions who are pushing this deregulation agenda which threatens health, environmental and food safety standards. Just like NAFTA, the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal is also likely to include an investor-state dispute process which would give corporations the right to challenge government policies that restrict their profits. A trade agreement between the U.S. and EU is the building blocks for a new global trading system. If you combine NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a U.S,-EU Transatlantic trade deal, you have the makings for a global free trade area.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: [email protected]. Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader

When former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked whether half a million dead Iraqi children who perished under US sanctions was a price worth paying to try to remove Saddam Hussein, she replied that it was.

Ask David Cameron or Nicolas Sarkozy whether the destruction of Libya and all the lives lost was also a price worth paying (for cheap oil and for smoothing a path into Africa for AFRICOM – although they would never admit to this, preferring to hide behind the notion of ‘humanitarianism’), they would no doubt also reply in the affirmative. To this day, Tony Blair still stands by his illegal and baseless decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with George W Bush and his neo-con cronies and bring hundreds of thousands of deaths to Iraq.

From Vietnam and Afghanistan to Mali, Congo and Syria, our so-called elected representatives bring murder and mayhem to countries half a world away with their armies or proxy armies of terror and are protected by their lawyers, courts and media. Whether it’s false flag terror incidents which take the lives of innocent civilians in West Asia or drone attacks with similar outcomes in Pakistan, human life means nothing to these politicians and their corporate backers who regard stealing resources, amassing wealth and self aggrandisement as much more important.

And many of us are aware of this.

Recall the millions who took to the streets across the globe to protest about the decision to invade Iraq and the tens of thousands who took part in the Occupy Movement. All over the world, groups of people are standing up to be counted over workers’ rights, ongoing wars, land grabs, genetically modified crops and any other number of issues.

But there are also those who look the other way, do not want to be bothered or bury their heads in the sand as they drive their cars, talk on their cell phones, but their garments and wear their jewellery. Whether its oil, cotton, coltan or diamonds, someone somewhere has been killed in order for powerful corporations to extract and appropriate the resources for the products purchased at the pump or on the high street store.

Burying one’s head in the sand or looking the other way by watching Murdoch’s millionaires kick a ball in the English Premiership or tuning into X Factor or some other mind numbing dross is a matter of choice, so these people might tell you. It’s harmless. It’s all good fun. They might also say what’s the big deal if they choose to spend their hard-earned cash on Coca Cola, the latest cell phone gadget, the newest model of car, those nice cotton jeans or that exotic food on the supermarket shelf. It’s not like they are selling weapons, poverty or an oil-thirsty war-driven system of consumer capitalism with its rapacious appetite for endless resources, is it? Of course it is, but they don’t see it – more apt, they don’t want to see it.

Think of all those dead or impoverished Indian farmers whose GM cotton courtesy of Big Agra went into those ‘made in China’ jeans. Think of the land given over to produce those exotic fruits for export while leaving those who planted and harvested it with little food in their own bellies. As Vandana Shiva says, it’s no coincidence that most of the world’s hungry are involved in food production!  Think of the ongoing mayhem in Congo that went into that latest cell phone production. Think of the GM syrup, the trampling on workers’ rights or depletion/contamination of water resources in countries where water is scarce that went into making that fizzy drink. And so on.

Better still, do not think about it!

I know someone in the UK who holds a relatively well-paid position with the Indian company Tata (it makes cars in the UK). When I told him about a 2009 Indian government report commissioned by the rural development ministry about companies like Tata and Essar being blamed for a corporate takeover of tribal lands that constitutes part of the biggest land grab ever, he turned to someone else and said as an intended putdown to me “How am I supposed to put up with that!” He has no debt or family responsibilities. He still works for Tata.

Whether its buying stuff at Primark or many other British high Street stores or companies that have been found time and again to be exploiting foreign labour abroad and flouting their own stated regulations, regardless of claims about ‘ethical standards’ or ‘corporate social responsibility’ or some other media-friendly soundbite policy, or whether it’s working for some criminal corporation that pushes the GM agenda or imperialist war policy by being part of ‘think tanks’ like the Brooking Institute, Chatham House, the Trilateral Commission or the Council on Foreign Relations, many people are quite happy to do so. And the justification – I have to eat, to wear clothes, to earn money.

We all do. But it’s how far we are prepared to compromise and how much we are prepared to stay silent. Otherwise, we are just as complicit in buying into the bogus merits of international capitalism and the mentality that supposes countless dead children are worth much less than a highly profitable barrel of cheap oil.

 

Former Insiders Criticise Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony

February 27th, 2013 by Gareth Porter

“Going to Tehran” arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations to be published thus far.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett tackle not only U.S. policy toward Iran but the broader context of Middle East policy with a systematic analytical perspective informed by personal experience, as well as very extensive documentation.

More importantly, however, their exposé required a degree of courage that may be unparalleled in the writing of former U.S. national security officials about issues on which they worked. They have chosen not just to criticise U.S. policy toward Iran but to analyse that policy as a problem of U.S. hegemony.

Their national security state credentials are impeccable. They both served at different times as senior coordinators dealing with Iran on the National Security Council Staff, and Hillary Mann Leverett was one of the few U.S. officials who have been authorised to negotiate with Iranian officials.

Both wrote memoranda in 2003 urging the George W. Bush administration to take the Iranian “roadmap” proposal for bilateral negotiations seriously but found policymakers either uninterested or powerless to influence the decision. Hillary Mann Leverett even has a connection with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), having interned with that lobby group as a youth.

After leaving the U.S. government in disagreement with U.S. policy toward Iran, the Leveretts did not follow the normal pattern of settling into the jobs where they would support the broad outlines of the U.S. role in world politics in return for comfortable incomes and continued access to power.

Instead, they have chosen to take a firm stand in opposition to U.S. policy toward Iran, criticising the policy of the Barack Obama administration as far more aggressive than is generally recognised. They went even farther, however, contesting the consensus view in Washington among policy wonks, news media and Iran human rights activists that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in June 2009 was fraudulent.

The Leveretts’ uncompromising posture toward the policymaking system and those outside the government who support U.S. policy has made them extremely unpopular in Washington foreign policy elite circles. After talking to some of their antagonists, The New Republic even passed on the rumor that the Leveretts had become shills for oil companies and others who wanted to do business with Iran.

The problem for the establishment, however, is that they turned out to be immune to the blandishments that normally keep former officials either safely supportive or quiet on national security issues that call for heated debate.

In “Going to Tehran”, the Leveretts elaborate on the contrarian analysis they have been making on their blog (formerly “The Race for Iran” and now “Going to Tehran”) They take to task those supporting U.S. systematic pressures on Iran for substituting wishful thinking that most Iranians long for secular democracy, and offer a hard analysis of the history of the Iranian revolution.

In an analysis of the roots of the legitimacy of the Islamic regime, they point to evidence that the single most important factor that swept the Khomeini movement into power in 1979 was “the Shah’s indifference to the religious sensibilities of Iranians”. That point, which conflicts with just about everything that has appeared in the mass media on Iran for decades, certainly has far-reaching analytical significance.

The Leveretts’ 56-page review of the evidence regarding the legitimacy of the 2009 election emphasises polls done by U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow and World Public Opinon and Canadian-based Globe Scan and 10 surveys by the University of Tehran. All of the polls were consistent with one another and with official election data on both a wide margin of victory by Ahmadinejad and turnout rates.

The Leveretts also point out that the leading opposition candidate, Hossein Mir Mousavi, did not produce “a single one of his 40,676 observers to claim that the count at his or her station had been incorrect, and none came forward independently”.

“Going to Tehran” has chapters analysing Iran’s “Grand Strategy” and on the role of negotiating with the United States that debunk much of which passes for expert opinion in Washington’s think tank world. They view Iran’s nuclear programme as aimed at achieving the same status as Japan, Canada and other “threshold nuclear states” which have the capability to become nuclear powers but forego that option.

The Leveretts also point out that it is a status that is not forbidden by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty – much to the chagrin of the United States and its anti-Iran allies.

In a later chapter, they allude briefly to what is surely the best-kept secret about the Iranian nuclear programme and Iranian foreign policy: the Iranian leadership’s calculation that the enrichment programme is the only incentive the United States has to reach a strategic accommodation with Tehran. That one fact helps to explain most of the twists and turns in Iran’s nuclear programme and its nuclear diplomacy over the past decade.

One of the propaganda themes most popular inside the Washington beltway is that the Islamic regime in Iran cannot negotiate seriously with the United States because the survival of the regime depends on hostility toward the United States.

The Leveretts debunk that notion by detailing a series of episodes beginning with President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s effort to improve relations in 1991 and again in 1995 and Iran’s offer to cooperate against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and, more generally after 9/11, about which Hillary Mann Leverett had personal experience.

Finally, they provide the most detailed analysis available on the 2003 Iranian proposal for a “roadmap” for negotiations with the United States, which the Bush administration gave the back of its hand.

The central message of “Going to Tehran” is that the United States has been unwilling to let go of the demand for Iran’s subordination to dominant U.S. power in the region. The Leveretts identify the decisive turning point in the U.S. “quest for dominance in the Middle East” as the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they say “liberated the United States from balance of power constraints”.

They cite the recollection of senior advisers to Secretary of State James Baker that the George H. W. Bush administration considered engagement with Iran as part of a post-Gulf War strategy but decided in the aftermath of the Soviet adversary’s disappearance that “it didn’t need to”.

Subsequent U.S. policy in the region, including what former national security adviser Bent Scowcroft called “the nutty idea” of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran, they argue, has flowed from the new incentive for Washington to maintain and enhance its dominance in the Middle East.

The authors offer a succinct analysis of the Clinton administration’s regional and Iran policies as precursors to Bush’s Iraq War and Iran regime change policy. Their account suggests that the role of Republican neoconservatives in those policies should not be exaggerated, and that more fundamental political-institutional interests were already pushing the U.S. national security state in that direction before 2001.

They analyse the Bush administration’s flirtation with regime change and the Obama administration’s less-than-half-hearted diplomatic engagement with Iran as both motivated by a refusal to budge from a stance of maintaining the status quo of U.S.-Israeli hegemony.

Consistent with but going beyond the Leveretts’ analysis is the Bush conviction that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had shaken the Iranians, and that there was no need to make the slightest concession to the regime. The Obama administration has apparently fallen into the same conceptual trap, believing that the United States and its allies have Iran by the throat because of its “crippling sanctions”.

Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis to argue against those policies more effectively.

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.

 The same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was promising a “fair and transparent” review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast, the CEO of the company building that pipeline, TransCanada’s Russ Girling, was reported as saying that his company’s “Plan A” was finishing a different pipeline that would take the same tar sands oil to Canada’s east coast.

TransCanada’s plan to establish a pipeline to the Atlantic coast has received little attention since CEO Girling’s February 6 interview on Bloomberg Television and Bloomberg’s later report:

“Canada’s second-largest pipeline company proposes to ship oil 3,000 miles (4,825 kilometers) to the Atlantic Coast, allowing producers to send it by tanker to the Gulf, Girling said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.

“While he expects U.S. passage of Keystone ‘very soon,’ the East Coast route makes sense in any event because of rising production from Alberta, Girling said.” 

TransCanada presently has about $22 billion worth of pipeline projects underway, of which Keystone XL represents about a third of the total.  Asked if an east coast pipeline was a fallback plan in case Keystone is blocked, Girling said:  “It’s not a Plan B, it’s a Plan A, and it will go if the market supports it, along with Keystone….  Once you get on tidewater, you can get anywhere, and you don’t need a presidential permit to bring oil into the Gulf Coast.”

That the head of a pipeline company is more interested in getting tar sands oil to market than he is in what it may cause after that is perhaps not surprising.  Girling isn’t a climate change denier, he just sees change taking decades during which TransCanada will try to make the transition to non-fossil fuels, which is why the company built three large wind farms in 2011.

Keystone Needs Presidential Permission to Proceed

But there may not be decades, there may be no time at all, according to a long National Journal story on February 7, with the headline:  “The Scary Truth About How Much Climate Change Is Costing You” – costing you now, the sub-head emphasizes:  “While policymakers fiddle, the threat of economic harm posed by rising sea levels, devastating storms, and drought is growing every day.”

On January 22, Greenpeace released a 60-page report called “Point of No Return,” dealing with “massive climate threats we must avoid,” while giving little reason to think we will avoid them:

“The world is quickly reaching a Point of No Return for preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

“With total disregard for this unfolding global disaster, the fossil fuel industry is planning 14 massive coal, oil and gas projects that would produce as much new carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020 as the entire US, and delay action on climate change for more than a decade.

“Continuing on the current course will make it difficult – if not impossible – to prevent the widespread and catastrophic impacts of climate change….”           

In the United States, pressure is building for the President (or the Secretary of State) to deny a permit to Keystone.  That demand is at the heart of plans for “the largest climate rally in history” on the Mall in Washington February 17.  Sponsored by the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the Hip-Hop Caucus, the promoters of the event assert that 

“The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.”

Making much the same argument with much greater detail on February 10 on TomDispatch.com, Hampshire College professor Michael Klare analyzes three possible pipeline routes that would enable Alberta tar sands oil to reach world markets.  The first is Keystone, first proposed in 2008, which is still at least two years from being operational.  The other two go in opposite directions — west, where resistance is already high, and east, where a substantial amount of pipeline is already in place.  Klare analyzes each alternative in detail, arguing that:    

“… the only pipeline now under development that would significantly expand Albertan tar-sands exports is Keystone XL. It is vitally important to the tar-sands producers because it offers the sole short-term – or possibly even long-term – option for the export and sale of the crude output now coming on line at dozens of projects being developed across northern Alberta.

“Without it, these projects will languish and Albertan production will have to be sold at a deep discount – at, that is, a per-barrel price that could fall below production costs, making further investment in tar sands unattractive. In January, Canadian tar-sands oil was already selling for $30-$40 less than West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the standard U.S. blend.” 

But Klare does not consider the different route to the Atlantic proposed by Girling, a route that could be entirely within Canada, ending at St. John, New Brunswick.             

The shadow play aspects of the public posturing around the Keystone pipeline make it difficult to focus on the underlying reality that matters most: whether exploiting tar sands, not only in Canada, but in the U.S. and other countries, really will mean “game over for the climate,” as NASA scientist James Hansen has said.  The heart of his argument, as it appeared in the New York Times, was simple:


“GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent 
interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves ‘regardless of what we do.’

“ If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.”

The game, in other words, is not about pipelines, it’s about tar sands oil.  And even though cancellation of the Keystone pipeline would not be a game-changer, such cancellation would be a powerful symbol that leaves open the possibility of changing the game.  And it would be a signal that there is at least some political will to change the game.

The Canadian government under Stephen Harper has been pushing hard for the Keystone pipeline, lobbying the Obama administration and responding to unsympathetic media reports in the U.S.   At the same time, Canadian resistance to pipelines in both the east and west has grown increasingly intense, especially among the more than 630 First Nations governments of Canada’s native people whose land would be directly affected.

Media Coverage Omits More Than It Says 

When Sec. Kerry promises a “fair and transparent” review of Keystone and media from ABC News to the Washington Post to Huffington Post report the story with the same wire service account from AP, there’s not a lot of reporting going on.  Sec. Kerry’s comments are value free and allow for a possible approval, especially in the context of Kerry’s “great respect” for the needs of Canada’s energy industry.

What AP and those who carried the report left out included Sec. Kerry’s significant oil industry holdings which create an obvious conflict of interest, although as someone who was the richest U.S. Senator till recently (net worth about $240 million, compared to Jay Rockefeller’s $98 million), his oil holdings may not represent that great a conflict.  And Sec. Kerry was “a steadfast proponent of taking action on climate during his tenure as a senator,” according to Reuters.

The widely distributed AP report all but dismisses “climate change,” using the phrase only in the context of suggesting that the pipeline would be “a source of much-needed jobs,” which it’s not, and “a step toward North American energy independence,” which it’s not.

Sec. Kerry’s remarks fit a context in which the State Dept. carries out its evaluation and approves the pipeline, giving cover for Pres. Obama to approve it, too, since the evaluation was “fair and transparent,” or will be reliably reported that way.  But Sec. Kerry also mentioned “accountability” in passing, without saying (or being asked) just what that could possibly mean.  If James Hansen is right, and the climate is destroyed by tar sands oil, how will anyone in the future be able to hold a long-dead multi-millionaire accountable for his lost seriousness?

Alternatively, with the boom of “light sweet oil” coming out of Texas and North Dakota, oil that is much preferable to the “heavy sour crude” from Alberta, the president may have a practical way of sidestepping Keystone approval as no longer very useful to the United States (if it ever really was).

Disruptions Continue Along Keystone Southern Leg 

The active protest and political theatre front in recent months has been along the TransCanada Keystone Gulf Coat section in Texas and Oklahoma, where early in the morning of February 11 in Schoolton, OK, an Oklahoman youth pastor, Stefan Warner, who chained himself to construction machinery high above a local waterway, the North Canadian River.

“I grew up in a town where the North Canadian River runs right through, and we can’t let the North Canadian become another Kalamazoo,” Warner said, referring to the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  Another giant pipeline company, Enbridge Energy, had one of its pipelines rupture there in July 2010, dumping about 900,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude oil into the river, where the clean-up is now in its third year.

Warner acted with other members of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, a new group that recently organized to resist the Keystone pipeline.  The Great Plains website reported the end of the action this way:

8:00AM: Direct Support for Stefan has been arrested without warning and placed in police car.  Six other people on site being detained currently.

9:00AM: All Six people detained now arrested. Seven police vehicles on scene. Workers have lowered side-boom in disregard of Stefan’s safety and OSHA regulations, Stefan still locked to machinery but lying painfully face-down on the lowered arm. Police obscuring Stefan from view and not allowing anyone within photographing distance.

9:15AM: Another individual arrested. This person was not initially detained but was prevented from accessing her vehicle since 8am. Stefan still holding strong….

1:00PM Earlier today, Stefan was extracted. To our knowledge, Stefan sustained no serious injuries and seems to be alright. 

This action is similar to protests mounted over the past five months by the Tar Sands Blockade, who started their resistance in September 2012 when they set up a tree house blockade across the right of way along which TransCanada was constructing its pipeline.  TranCanada skipped a section of construction to avoid the tree houses and also took members of the group to court.  That action that was settled January 25, when 19 people, also acting on behalf of 6 Jan and John Does and three organizations, agreed to a permanent injunction against interfering with Keystone people, property, or progress.           

Defeating Keystone – A Victory With No Winners? 

It would certainly look like a victory for environmentalists if the President denied Keystone a permit, and a low political cost would allow the political class to bask in undeserved credit – a symbolic triumph.  And, at worst, an opportunity to enjoy the illusion that something meaningful was accomplished.

But the problem of tar sands oil would be fundamentally unchanged.  It would remain an underexploited asset that Canadians are eager to tap.  The demand from Asian markets would continue to grow.  Canada would continue to face the irrationality of importing half the oil it uses while exporting two thirds of the oil it produces.  The pipeline struggle would become an all-Canada affair.

A lively and slightly hysterical imagination might envision an American war with Canada, not so much to keep tar sands oil in the ground to save the climate, but to keep the Canadians from selling it to the Chinese.  More likely, the United States reverts to its traditionally torpid contemplation of planetary threat, the climate continues to warm, and soon Alberta can have a pipeline to the north, since the Arctic Ocean is open year-round.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. 

Drone Warfare “Signature Strikes”

February 27th, 2013 by Cora Currier

The nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director has prompted intense debate on Capitol Hill and in the media about U.S. drone killings abroad. But the focus has been on the targeting of American citizens – a narrow issue that accounts for a miniscule proportion of the hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen in recent years.

Consider: while four American citizens are known to have been killed by drones in the past decade, the strikes have killed an estimated total of 2,600 to 4,700 people over the same period.

The focus on American citizens overshadows a far more common, and less understood, type of strike: those that do not target American citizens, Al Qaeda leaders, or, in fact, any other specific individual.

In these attacks, known as “signature strikes,” drone operators fire on people whose identities they do not know based on evidence of suspicious behavior or other “signatures.” According to anonymously sourced media reports, such attacks on unidentified targets account for many, or even most, drone strikes.

Despite that, the administration has never publicly spoken about signature strikes. Basic questions remain unanswered.

What is the legal justification for signature strikes? What qualifies as a “signature” that would prompt a deadly strike? Do those being targeted have to pose a threat to the United States? And how many civilians have been killed in such strikes?

The administration has rebuffed repeated requests from Congress to provide answers – even in secret.

“How, for example, does the Administration ensure that the targets are legitimate terrorist targets and not insurgents who have no dispute with the United States?” asked three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in a letter to Attorney General Holder last May.

The legislators sent a second letter in December. Republicans on the committee joined in sending another letter this month. All have gone unanswered, according to committee staff.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently sent his own letter to Brennan asking several pointed questions on signature strikes.

“How do ‘signature strikes’ square with your statement that targeted killing operations are only approved when a targeted individual poses a ‘significant threat to U.S. interests?’” McCain asked, quoting a speech Brennan gave on drone strikes last April.

“How can the Administration be certain it is not killing civilians in areas, like many parts of Yemen and Pakistan, where virtually all men, including civilians, carry weapons?” the letter continued.

A McCain spokesman said the senator had not received a response. The White House declined to comment for this story.

When Obama administration officials publicly address drone strikes, they focus on thwarting imminent threats and targeting Al Qaeda leaders, including U.S. citizens.

Brennan, for example, said at his confirmation hearing that a lethal strike only occurs when “the intelligence base is so strong and the nature of the threat is so grave and serious, as well as imminent, that we have no recourse.” He was talking only about strikes targeting U.S. citizens, not signature strikes.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is now threatening to filibuster Brennan’s nomination until he answers questions on the U.S. citizen issue. And the Justice Department “white paper” leaked to NBC this month outlines the legal rationale for drone strikes, but only in cases when they target U.S. citizens who are also Al Qaeda leaders.

“What about the people who aren’t U.S. citizens and who aren’t on a list?” asks Naureen Shah, a human rights and counterterrorism expert at Columbia Law School. Of the few thousand people killed, Shah notes, “it’s hard to believe all of these people are senior operational leaders of Al Qaeda.”

The hazy history of ‘signature strikes’

The first public reference to a signature strike appears to have been in February 2008, when the New York Times reported a change in drone strike policy, negotiated between the U.S. and Pakistan.

“Instead of having to confirm the identity of a suspected militant leader before attacking, this shift allowed American operators to strike convoys of vehicles that bear the characteristics of Qaeda or Taliban leaders on the run, for instance, so long as the risk of civilian casualties is judged to be low,” the Times reported.

Over the next few years, they became the majority of strikes conducted in Pakistan, according to media reports citing unnamed officials.

The new policy contributed to an increase in strikes in Pakistan – up to a high of about 120 in 2010 – and also to an increase in the number of low-level militants or foot soldiers killed, according to a New America Foundation analysis.

It’s not clear how much evidence is needed to justify a strike. In media reports, U.S. officials have offered scenarios of signature strikes hitting training camps or fighters who might cross the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The CIA reportedly uses drone surveillance and other intelligence to try to ensure those targeted are in fact militants.

Other officials, however, have described the policy more loosely – one calling it a “‘reasonable man’ standard.”

Asked what the standard is for who could be hit, former Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter recently told an interviewer: “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40. My feeling is one man’s combatant is another man’s – well, a chump who went to a meeting.”

It is also next to impossible to say which attacks are signature strikes.

The names of militant leaders killed in strikes are often confirmed by officials in news reports. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the U.S. knew who was there ahead of the strike. One unnamed former military official claimed last year that the CIA “killed most of their ‘list people’ when they didn’t know they were there.”

Conversely, strikes in which little information emerges on who was killed could be failed attempts to hit specific individuals. (According to the New Yorker, it took as many as 16 strikes to kill Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in 2009.)

The outcomes of strikes are often disputed. In one apparent signature strike two years ago, unnamed U.S. officials told the Associated Press that they had targeted a group that “was heavily armed, some of its members were connected to Al Qaeda, and all ‘acted in a manner consistent with AQ (Al Qaeda)-linked militants.’” The U.S. said about 20 militants were killed. But Pakistani officials said it had been a meeting of tribesmen and villagers provided evidence to the AP that 38 civilians were killed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the attack prompted a debate in the White House about whether signature strikes and strikes on low-level fighters were worth the diplomatic risks.

The pace of strikes in Pakistan has tapered off since 2010, in large part because of deteriorating diplomatic relations with Pakistan, according to Bill Roggio, who tracks strikes for the Long War Journal.

Last spring the U.S. reportedly expanded signature strikes to Yemen, though administration officials said there were stricter standards than in Pakistan and evidence of a threat to the U.S. or U.S. interests was required. Officials referred to the attacks with a new phrase, “Terror Attack Disruption Strikes.”

That tighter standard is reportedly also part of the Obama administration’s new guidelines for the targeted killing program. (The CIA’s strikes in Pakistan will be exempt from any new rules for at least another year, according to the Washington Post.)

The legal debate

Brennan was asked about signature strikes last April but sidestepped the question. He replied: “You make reference to signature strikes that are frequently reported in the press. I was speaking here specifically about targeted strikes against individuals who are involved.”

He continued that “everything we do, though, that is carried out against Al Qaeda is carried out consistent with the rule of law, the authorization on the use of military force, and domestic law… that’s the whole purpose of whatever action we use, the tool we use, it’s to prevent attack [sic] and to save lives.”

The idea of killing members of an enemy force without knowing their identities isn’t itself controversial.

“In a traditional conflict, there is no requirement that you know every single person’s identity before you strike, so long as there are reasonable grounds for determining that the target is part of the enemy force,” said Jennifer Daskal, a professor at Georgetown Law School and a former attorney in the Justice Department during the first Obama administration.

But legal observers hotly debate the bounds of the drone war, and who qualifies as a member of the enemy force. “In the conflict with a clandestine enemy like Al Qaeda, that determination is much harder,” said Daskal.

While President Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to be more transparent about drone policy, the administration appears to maneuvering to avoid sharing additional information with Congress.

According to the New York Times, the administration may opt to share information on last year’s Benghazi attack with Republican senators to avoid revealing any more legal memos on the drone war to Democratic senators.

Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., has said that her committee reviews videos of strikes.But she also recently said that the committee has long sought all of the legal opinions on drone strikes – and that the administration has withheld most of the opinions.

In a bid to garner public support and win back several economically dynamic states lost to the opposition in 2008, Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has introduced a series of populist measures to appeal to voters. But while the upcoming election will be decided mostly on domestic issues, the polls will also reflect rising US-China competition for influence in the country.

Following the 2008 global economic crisis, Prime Minister Najib Razak looked to Beijing to revive Malaysia’s export-oriented economy, emphasizing increased Chinese investment in Malaysian industry. The premier has also moved to expand Sino-Malaysian exchange in areas such as finance, infrastructure development, science and technology, and education.

China is now Malaysia’s largest trading partner, with trade reaching US$90 billion in 2011. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). During a visit to China’s Guangxi autonomous region last year, Najib officiated the launch of the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (QIP), a joint development by a Malaysian consortium of companies.

At the event, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid tribute to Najib’s late father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who established diplomatic ties with China in 1974 during his tenure as Malaysia’s second prime minister. Malaysia was the first non-communist country in Southeast Asia to establish official ties with the People’s Republic of China. Under Najib, 2014 has been designated as “Malaysia-China Friendship Year”, while China has loaned two pandas to Malaysia for 10 years to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

The diplomacy has brought commercial gains. A sister joint-industrial park in Malaysia’s Kuantan region was launched in early February 2013. State media said the complex, including a steel plant, an aluminum factory, a palm oil refinery and the expansion of the Kuantan Port, will create 8,500 new jobs once it comes online. Kuantan was chosen as the location for the joint project due to its proximity to the South China Sea, which offers easy access to fast developing ports located in China’s Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Region.

Najib was quoted at the time as saying, “Now the world is beginning to recognize that Chinese innovation and domestic demand will prove just as potent a force in the global economy, so on economic cooperation and diplomacy, I am proud to say that Malaysia is ahead of the curve.”

Najib’s and Foreign Minister Anifah Aman’s children are both Mandarin-educated, reflecting the importance top officials place on China’s role as an emerging world power. Malaysia has likely taken a soft line on territorial disputes in the potentially oil and gas rich South China Sea due to deepening commercial cooperation between the two countries.
In light of these close ties, Beijing would no doubt like to see Najib’s ruling BN return to return to power at the polls. An administration led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is widely perceived to lean closer to the United States, would threaten to interrupt the past five years of investment and security policy synergy developed under Najib.

Foreign friends and funds

Local analysts have long criticized Anwar for his alleged history of appealing to foreigners to legitimize his positions. Anwar is widely panned in the Malaysian press for seeking to bolster his own political talking points by harnessing foreign influence, from the hardline Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated theologian Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi, known for controversially inciting sectarian divisions throughout the Muslim world, to the likes of former US vice president Al Gore and former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Malaysia’s opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition currently controls four state governments and is led by Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the predominately Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP), and the staunchly Islamist Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). Those parties are in many ways uncomfortable bedfellows: PAS at one point endorsed the Taliban’s insurgent campaign in Afghanistan and turned off many moderate Malaysians with hard-line theocratic discourse advocating the foundation of an Islamic state.

The DAP and Anwar’s PKR, meanwhile, have been strongly criticized for accepting funds and training from US government-linked foundations such as the International Republican Institute (IRI), now chaired by US Senator John McCain. In the hot-tempered run-up to Malaysia’s upcoming polls, several prominent BN ministers have questioned the opposition’s links to influential figures in Washington.

Local media reports claim that Anwar maintains connections with neo-conservative thinkers in Washington, in addition to participating in programs organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED has been accused locally of being used by Washington to influence elections and cultivate political forces suitable to US foreign policy.

In 2005, Anwar chaired the Washington-based Foundation for the Future, a think-tank established by Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, and funded by US State Department grants. While Anwar was on trial for allegedly engaging in sodomy with a male aide (a charge for which he was later acquitted), Gore and Wolfowitz authored a joint opinion piece in support of Anwar in the Wall Street Journal.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, published an editorial calling for consequences that would affect Malaysia’s bilateral relations with the US if Anwar was found guilty. Anwar enraged many Malaysians when he stated that he would support a policy to protect the security of Israel in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. This is particularly controversial in Malaysia, where the majority support Palestine against Israel.

Local journalists have recently uncovered letters written by Anwar, two of which were sent to National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman in Washington, that discussed sending an international election observer team to Malaysia and issues related to electoral reform. Since 2011, Malaysians have shown support for anti-government demonstrations calling for clean elections organized by Bersih, an association of nongovernmental organizations known as the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.

Ambiga Sreenevasan, the ethnic Indian former president of the Bar Council who leads the coalition, has under pressure recently conceded that her organization accepts funds from US government-linked foundations. Malaysian authorities are concerned that these recipients of US aid have based their programs around casting doubt on the nation’s Electoral Commission, and thus the very legitimacy of the ruling coalition and the country’s democratic process.

Malaysia’s Electoral Commission has consistently refuted allegations of electoral discrepancies made against it by several US-funded NGOs. A parliamentary select committee agreed to implement recommended electoral reforms raised by civil society groups and has since passed 18 amendments to the electoral roll.

Meanwhile, Najib has rolled back the Internal Security Act, which controversially allowed for indefinite detention without trial, and has liberalized rules regarding the publication of books and newspapers. BN has long been criticized for curbing dissent and criticism through civil liberty-curbing laws and regulations.

BN has largely delivered on its previous campaign vows to manage fast economic growth and greater freedom of expression, witnessed in a vibrant Internet and critical blogosphere. While Najib also has good rapport with several Western leaders, he is not ready to complicate upbeat Sino-Malaysian ties as Washington moves to “pivot” its military muscle towards the Asia-Pacific region to counterbalance China.

Anwar, on the other hand, has long been viewed as a darling of the West, and he would clearly be a more attractive candidate in the eyes of the US. Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad has insinuated that Washington’s democracy promotion amounts to backing regime change through efforts that favor the opposition. NGO and youth activists have been dismissive of such insinuations, viewing them as well-worn pre-election diversionary rhetoric from the ruling coalition.

While many Malaysians have expressed disappointment in BN’s leadership, a victory for the untested opposition has the potential to derail many large-scale, growth-promoting development projects, including Chinese-invested initiatives in property, industry and infrastructure. US investment bank JP Morgan recently issued a note of concern over market unpredictability in the case of an opposition win. While voters deliberate between Najib and Anwar, they will also indirectly be choosing between China and the US.

This article originally appeared in the Asia Times.

Understanding the US/NATO Profit-Driven Military Agenda

February 26th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research in print AND pdf formats!

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The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. US/NATO weapons of mass destruction are portrayed as instruments of peace. Mini-nukes are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”. Pre-emptive nuclear war is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”.

While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

Nuclear war has become a multi-billion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US/NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled.

Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

Excerpt by author Michel Chossudovsky:

“The object of this book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

Break the American Inquisition.

Undermine the US-NATO-Israel military crusade.

Close down the weapons factories and the military bases.

Members of the armed forces should disobey orders and refuse to participate in a criminal war.

Bring home the troops.”

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

Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War
by Michel Chossudovsky

ISBN: 978-0-9737147-5-3 | Year: 2012 | Pages: 102

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(Special Offer: Receive this book FREE with your Global Research Annual Membership! Click for details.)

DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE

A New War Theater in North Africa
Operation Odyssey Dawn
Nuclear Weapons against Libya? How Real is the Threat?
America’s Long War: The Global Military Agenda
How to Reverse the Tide of War
World War III Scenario
Acknowledgments

CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION

The Cult of Killing and Destruction
America’s Mini-nukes
War and the Economic Crisis
Real versus Fake Crises

CHAPTER II: THE DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR

Hiroshima Day 2003: Secret Meeting at Strategic Command Headquarters
The Privatization of Nuclear War: US Military Contractors Set the Stage
9/11 Military Doctrine: Nuclear Weapons and the “Global War on Terrorism”
Al Qaeda: “Upcoming Nuclear Power”
Obama’s Nuclear Doctrine: The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review
Post 9/11 Nuclear Doctrine
“Defensive” and “Offensive” Actions
“Integration” of Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Plans
Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO)
Planned Aerial Attacks on Iran
Global Warfare: The Role of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization
Israel’s Stockpiling of Conventional and Nuclear Weapons
The Role of Western Europe
Germany: De Facto Nuclear Power
Pre-emptive Nuclear War: NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept
The World is at a Critical Crossroads

CHAPTER III: AMERICA’S HOLY CRUSADE AND THE BATTLE FOR OIL

America’s Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East
“Homegrown Terrorists”
The American Inquisition
Washington’s Extrajudicial Assassination Program
The Battle for Oil
The Oil Lies in Muslim Lands
Globalization and the Conquest of the World’s Energy Resources

CHAPTER IV: PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR THREE

Media Disinformation
A “Pre-emptive” Aerial Attack Directed Against Iran would Lead to Escalation
Global Warfare
US “Military Aid”
The Timetable of Military Stockpiling and Deployment
World War III Scenario
The United Nations Security Council
The American Inquisition: Building a Political Consensus for War

CHAPTER V: TARGETING IRAN WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Building a Pretext for a Pre-emptive Nuclear Attack
“Theater Iran Near Term”
The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran”
Simulated Scenarios of a Global War: The Vigilant Shield 07 War Games
The Role of Israel
Cheney: “Israel Might Do it Without Being Asked”
US Israel Military Coordination
Tactical Nuclear Weapons directed against Iran
Radioactive Fallout
“The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used Against Iran
Extensive Destruction of Iran’s Infrastructure
State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies”
Electromagnetic Weapons
Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long Range Missiles
Iran’s Ground Forces
US Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran

CHAPTER VI: REVERSING THE TIDE OF WAR

Revealing the Lie
The Existing Anti-War Movement
Manufacturing Dissent
Jus ad Bellum: 9/11 and the Invasions of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan
Fake Antiwar Activism: Heralding Iran as a Nuclear Threat
The Road Ahead
The Antiwar Movement within the State Structure and the Military
Abandon the Battlefield: Refuse to Fight
The Broader Peace Process
What has to be Achieved

CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH!

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
-John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
-Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute

Like so many major terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center (WTC) bombing of February 1993 occurred shortly after the US presidential election.  The incoming Bill Clinton was confronted with a new menace: Islamic terror had for the first time carried out a major strike on US soil.  The first new president after the end of the Cold War and the previous president’s announcement of a ‘new world order’ was within weeks given a stark reminder that with the Soviet Union out of the way the US still faced a clear and present danger. 

Of course, I speak rhetorically.  Six people died in the blast, and while it was tragic for their bereaved families and painful for the over 1000 people injured, the bark was worse than the bite in this attack.  The bomb built by Ramzi Yousef shocked many, and managed to destroy a surprisingly large amount of the underground parking garage at the WTC, but given that the idea was to topple one tower into the other potentially killing 250,000 people, it was a miserable failure. Nonetheless, the bombing remains the subject of much conjecture, some well evidenced and some not, and served to implant the idea in the American and Western consciousness of Islamic terrorists attacking the WTC.

The Blind Sheikh

The first major port of call in any investigation of the bombing, or telling of the story, is the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman. He was the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group (IG, or al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya), at the time perhaps the largest overtly militant Islamic group in the country. The crackdown following the assassination of Anwar Sadat had produced in typically polarising fashion a backlash in favour of Islamic radicalism. That this happened at the same time as the extremely well-funded NATO effort to use radical Islam as a weapon against the Soviet Union is no coincidence. 

Towards the end of the 1980s, as the Soviet-Afghan war was coming to its inevitable conclusion, the Blind Sheikh escaped from house arrest in Egypt and paid several visits to the US.  Specifically, he fostered a following at the Al-Kifah Refugee Centre at the Al Farooq moseque in New York.  Al-Kifah was the local branch of the Maktab Al-Khidamat or Services Office for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and was central to the process by which young men were recruited, moved around the world for training and ultimately deployed against the Soviets. 

The CIA has remained tight-lipped about their involvement in Al-Kifah but given the timing of its development, its location and the fact that their agents posing as consular officials arranged the visas that allowed the Blind Sheikh to enter the US, it is obvious that they were at the least happy about Rahman’s growing influence there.  In April and May 1989 US officials secretly met with followers of the Blind Sheikh in Egypt, including a lawyer representing the group.  The cables recording these meetings were signed by Frank Wisner — the US ambassador to Egypt and the son of the veteran of CIA black ops.  A year later the Blind Sheikh moved to New York permanently.

Six months after that El Sayyid Nosair, a follower of Rahman, assassinated prominent rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defence League and a former FBI informant.  A few weeks later the State Department revoked all of the Blind Sheikh’s visas, but nothing else happened to him.  Nosair was arrested but the investigation didn’t reach into the question of what was going on at the Al-Kifah.  Rahman was never arrested or deported.

A couple of months later the Emir of the Farooq mosque Mustafa Shalabi was murdered, almost 2 years to the day prior to the WTC bombing.  Rahman effectively took over the mosque and the Al-Kifah center at that point.  Meanwhile, notorious triple agent Ali Mohamed had been providing training sessions in intelligence and paramilitary operations to those who frequented the mosque, including Nosair.  He also trained virtually the entire group involved in and ultimately convicted for the WTC bombing.

The Decoy

It is at this point in the story that the alternative explanations of the bombing focus on one Emad Salem — a former Egyptian army officer recruited as an informant by the FBI.  He had infiltrated the Al-Kifah and the circle around the Blind Sheikh and was provided regular intelligence on what they were doing.  However, what almost every alternative theory about WTC93 gets wrong is that they claim Salem built the bomb that was used, usually based on a few seconds of audio of Salem talking to one of his FBI handlers, John Anticev.

In reality, Salem was fired by the FBI in bizarre circumstances in the summer of 1992.  He didn’t build the bomb – terrorists do not build a bomb and then wait around for six months before using it.  Exactly why Salem was fired is not clear, but when his original handler Nancy Floyd started asking questions the FBI leaked stories to the press that she was sleeping with Salem and ultimately subjected her to a career-damaging internal affairs investigation.  As a result, six months before the bombing the FBI lost their eyes and ears inside the Blind Sheikh’s group.

After the bombing, Salem was re-recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the Al-Kifah once more, which he did.  At that point he was paid a large sum of money to act as a sting operator, encouraging the Blind Sheikh to make incriminating statements that Salem secretly recorded, and encouraging Rahman’s followers to develop plans for terrorists attacks that they were then arrested for, and prosecuted and convicted.  The recordings of Salem talking with Anticev come from this period, spring-summer 1993.  When the FBI swooped in the summer of ’93, they arrested the Blind Sheikh and most of the group around him, and Salem’s evidence became the basis of the prosecution case.

At this point the State Department, having revoked the Blind Sheikh’s visas 2 1/2 years earlier in late 1990 but done nothing to him in the meantime, carried out a Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation of the decision to grant him the visas in the first place.  This involved trying to see the files in Cairo from the period when CIA agents were granting the visas, but the papertrail from the State Department is heavily redacted and it appears the 1993 OIG investigation never actually got to see the Cairo files.  Ultimately the OIG concluded that they didn’t know whether the decisions to grant the visas was correct because they couldn’t definitely say what was known at the time.  No one got blamed, everyone kept their jobs, it was business as usual.

With Salem functioning as something of a decoy in this story, the question remains: who did build the bomb used in the WTC?

A.K.A.

According to the official story, and his own extended confession, and much of the evidence, the real bomb-maker was Ramzi Yousef, born Abdul Basit but also known as Dr Paul Vijay, Dr Adel Sabah, Muhammud Azan, Rashid Rashid, Kamal Ibraham among many other pseudonyms.  Ramzi arrived in New York in September 1992, following six months training in Afghanistan in explosives.  He conveniently turned up just after Emad Salem had been removed from watching the Al-Kifah.  Trained in Britain in electrical engineering, Yousef was smart and capable and found in the Al-Kifah a willing reception committee for his plan to blow up something in New York.

Ramzi Yousef

That said, it wasn’t plain sailing.  In particular, Mohammed Salameh (convicted in the first of the three WTC trials) was a complete moron, managing to crash a car loaded with chemicals for making the bomb which resulted in Yousef ending up in hospital.  He also forgot to give Yousef the planned early morning wake-up call on the day of the bombing.  Nonetheless, this relatively ragtag group who were inspired by CIA asset the Blind Sheikh and trained by triple agent Ali Mohamed managed to pull off the bombing.

However, that is far from the end of the story.  For one thing the damage to the WTC was considerable — several floors were partly destroyed, including a 5000 square foot hole on one floor.  This suggests that the truck bomb may not have been the only explosive used at the WTC, that as in Oklahoma City there is a case for the prosecution case being true but being only part of the story.  What is certain is that there was no trace of the main explosive charge found in the rubble of the WTC explosion, and that the FBI explosives examiner David Williams essentially guessed at what explosive was used, and then modified his guesses to fit the prosecution evidence, and he repeatedly gave untrue testimony against Salameh et al in the 1994 trial.

Due to the whistle blowing efforts of Fred Whitehurst the Department of Justice OIG carried out an investigation into the crime lab, including Williams role in the WTC investigation which concluded that, ‘Williams gave inaccurate and incomplete testimony and testified to invalid opinions that appear tailored to the most incriminating result.’  While not all of Whitehurst’s complaints were upheld, it does put a few cracks in the official WTC bombing story. 

For another, who was Ramzi Yousef?  This international man of mystery was certainly not particularly religious, and enjoyed B-girls and brothels on his travels around the world.  He may well have been trained by Ali Mohamed, who according to multiple testimonies from trainees was in the same area of Afghanistan as Yousef for much of 1992.  When Yousef left New York on the evening of the WTC bombing he spent the next two years on the run from the FBI, travelling all over Asia carrying out various acts of terrorism before being brought to ground in February 1995.  How did he manage this?

It appears he had help from the ISI.  Simon Reeve’s remarkably prescient and accurate book The New Jackals, based on an extraordinary degree of access to the security services around the case only a year or two after Yousef had been convicted, records several instances of this.  When Yousef landed in Pakistan in May 1992 his fake Iraqi passport had the wrong seal on the visa, and yet he was waived through.  Similarly, when he and Ahmed Ajaj first entered the US on badly faked passports, Ajaj was arrested but Yousef was not, despite it being clear they were travelling together.  When Yousef’s Pakistani immigration records were checked as part of the WTC investigation, much of the paperwork had disappeared.  The implication is that someone was clearing a path for him.

NeoConspiracy Theories

Another misdirection in this story is the theory propounded by NeoConservative mouthpiece Laurie Mylroie, who claimed that Yousef was in fact an Iraqi spy.  Prior to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, Yousef (then known as Abdul Basit) and his family lived in Kuwait, though ethnically they were Baluchi.  This is why another of Yousef’s pseudonyms, given to the FBI when he signed a waiver of his miranda rights, was Adam Baloch.  Due to discrepancies in official records on Yousef/Basit, Mylroie claimed that the invading Iraqi army killed Basit and his family and replaced him with a spy using the Basit/Yousef identity.  Who was between 4 and 6 inches taller and has never mentioned anything about being an Iraqi secret agent even though he’s now languishing in solitary confinment serving prison sentences amounting to hundreds of years and therefore has nothing to lose.

Mylroie has been widely criticised for this rather ridiculous theory, but she was still hired in 2005 to write a History of Al Qaeda for the Pentagon, and paid $75,000 for her trouble.  She once again put forth the theory that Iraq and Al Qaeda were closely related, that Yousef was an Iraqi spy, that Iraq bombed the WTC.  The problem was that following the NATO invasion of Iraq in 2003 a lot of Iraqi government files were seized, and they were published alongside two Pentagon studies in 2006-2008.

One file in particular is an audio recording and a transcript of a meeting between Saddam and his ministers where they discuss the WTC bombing.  There was no mention of Yousef, no hint of Iraqi involvement in the attack, nothing that would substantiate Mylroie’s daft and misguiding allegations, and quite a lot that contradicts her.  For one thing, one of the conspirators named Abdul Yasin fled to Iraq after the bombing but he was arrested by the Iraq authorities in 1994 and held until at least 2002, though he has not been heard from since then.

In the meeting, Saddam expressed how important it was that Yasin remain alive in custody, and not be killed or commit suicide.  Hussein did try to use Yasin as a bargaining chip with the Americans, but this always failed.  Saddam also discussed how it was possible that the American, Israeli or Saudi governments were really behind the WTC blast, and how the Iraq government should find ways to exploit the bombing through propaganda.  It was a remarkably explicit conversation, and yet nothing in any way backed up Mylroie’s contentions.

So what the hell happened?

With this concrete example of the story (or legend) of Ramzi Yousef being used to bolster a politically useful myth we are left to wonder what else in his story is not true.  After his arrest he provided extensive confessions, all of which fits in with most of the prosecution case against the WTC accused.  He even had a proffer session, recorded in an FBI 302, with the State’s Attorney’s office in New York where he outlined how he built and delivered the bomb.  It seems that he did actually bomb the WTC, though exactly why he did that, and why those who helped him did so remains something of a mystery.

That the WTC bombing in 1993 has been used to substantiate the Al Qaeda myth, and in particular the Iraq-Al Qaeda fantasy, does show that there is a degree of spook theatre to all of this.  The FBI were blindsided for reasons that have never been adequately explained, in largely the same way as happened in the run up to 9/11.  Whatismore, the 9/11 Commission’s records at the National Archives are woefully incomplete on the subject of the Blind Sheikh, with over 200 pages of CIA and State Department material withdrawn for National Security reasons.  The 9/11 Commission barely even acknowledged Ali Mohamed’s existence, let alone the importance of a triple agent who was close friends with Ayman Zawahiri and was so trusted by Bin Laden that he trained Osama’s bodyguards.

With a cover-up now lasting 20 years (20 years tomorrow at the time of writing) it is difficult to know exactly what happened and why the WTC was bombed in February 1993.  Nonetheless there is abundant material available on the case, which I have sought to whittle down to the key source material in the WTC93 Document Collection, a free e-book comprising nearly 250 pages of material and featuring an introduction explaining the relevance of each document.  There is no smoking gun, though it is interesting that in recent days a story has hit the headlines that Ramzi Yousef is suing for an explanation of why he is still subject to ‘special administration measures’, such as not being allowed to communicate with other people.  Unsurprisingly the news coverage has portrayed Yousef solely as an inhuman bomber who deserves to be treated inhumanely and has ignored the bigger picture, and maybe that was the point all along.

State terrorism is official Israeli policy. Torture and cold-blooded murder define it. Arafat Jaradat is Israel’s latest victim. He died wracked in pain Saturday.

Israel attributed it to cardiac arrest. Shin Bet claimed no detectable health problems during interrogation. Accusations of torture were dismissed. Coverup and denial don’t wash.

Israel was caught red-handed. Shin Bet interrogators tortured him to death. Autopsy evidence confirmed it. Severe upper body bruising, blisters, and blot clots were visible. Jaradat had multiple broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs.

PA Detainee Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said:

“The information we have received so far is shocking and painful.”

“The evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim’s heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack.”

Qaraqe’s deputy,  Ziyad Au Ain, urged anyone doubting Jaradat’s torture death to view his body. It was in Hebron’s Al-Ahli Hospital. Monday burial followed. Thousands attended. A fallen martyr was honored. He’s one of many.

“Jaradat died due to torture and not a stroke or heart attack,” said Au Ain. Responsible interrogators must be held accountable.

Jaradat’s last hearing was on February 22. Attorney Kamil Sabbagh represented him.

“When I entered the court room,” he said, “I saw (him) sitting on a wooden chair in front of the judge. His back was hunched, and he looked sick and fragile.”

“When I sat next to him, he told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was beaten up and hanged for many long hours while being (interrogated).”

“When (he) heard that the judge postponed his hearing, he seemed extremely afraid and asked me if he was going to spend the time left in the cell.”

“I replied to him that he was still in the investigation period and this is possible, and that as a lawyer I couldn’t do anything about his whereabouts at this time.”

Jaradat’s condition was dire. He’d been tortured, injured and in pain. Sabbagh explained in court. The judge was dismissive. He ordered a complicit prison doctor to examine him.

“This didn’t happen,” Sabbagh said. Torture continued. Jaradat died in severe pain. Dozens of other Palestinians perished the same way. Some did in prison. Others succumbed after release.

Shin Bet killers remain unaccountable. They’re embolden to continue cruel and inhuman treatment. Holding them responsible is long overdue.

Addameer‘s February 24 press release mourned a fallen martyr. Jaradat’s family said severe beatings began on arrest.

Since 2003, around 700 torture complaints went unaddressed. Whitewash is official Israeli policy.

“Addameer holds the Occupation forces, including the judges in the military courts, the Israeli Prison Service the Shin Bet security services and the medical staff, completely responsible for the death of Arafat Jaradat.”

It expressed concern for all Palestinian prisoners. They’re brutalized and subjected to medical neglect. Injuries and diseases go untreated.

Addameer demands accountability. It called on Ban Ki-moon to act. It wants an independent international investigation. It wants Israeli torture practices exposed. It wants responsible parties held accountable. Expect whitewash instead.

Jaradat’s death is a crime against humanity and/or war crime. Multiple Fourth Geneva articles were violated. So was its 1977 Additional Protocol.

Addameer called on Palestinian human rights organization to act. It urges a unified Palestinian legal strategy. It wants prisoner lives and welfare protected. It demands accountability. Responsible Israelis can’t go unpunished.

Do it “all legal ways possible, including boycott, divestment and sanctions,” said Addameer.

On February 25, it joined Minister of Prisoner Affairs and Palestine’s Prison Club. They boycotted Israel’s kangaroo courts. They have no legitimacy whatever. Hanging military judges preside. Guilt by accusation is policy. No justice, no peace follow.

Thousands protested Jaradat’s murder. They did so across Gaza and the West Bank. Dozens of Palestinians sustained injuries. Israeli security forces used rubber bullets and live fire. A 13-year old boy was shot in the chest. A 19-year had multiple rubber bullet wounds.

Israel demands PA officials curb protests. It wants them stopped before Obama’s March visit. A senior Abbas aide gave no indication either way. He blamed Israel for current unrest.

On Sunday, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad called “resistance a natural (Palestinian) right, and we agree unanimously on escalating popular resistance.”

A Security Council complaint may follow. Doing so is futile. Washington has veto power. It supports Israel’s worst crimes. It partners in many of them.

Palestine’s popular resistance committee urged more protests and solidarity. Israel murdered Jaradat. “This crime will receive its punishment,” a statement said.

Mustafa Barghouti is a prominent Palestinian activist. He’s Palestine’s National Initiative Secretary-General. In 2005, he contested Abbas for Palestine’s presidency. Israel wanted its longtime collaborator to win. It rigged the election to assure it.

On February 25, Barghouti called protests “a natural development of popular nonviolent resistance into a popular nonviolent Intifada, and there is nothing left for Palestinians but to (resist for) freedom.”

Israelis exclude other options. “They killed every possibility for peace during the last 20 years.”

“They use settlements and army violence to provoke Palestinians, and suppress them. We counted tens of cases of people hit with live ammunition in the last week.”

World leaders ignore Palestinian rights. Their struggle demands self-reliance. Today’s atmosphere resembles the first Intifada. It’s popular, nonviolent and widespread. What follows remains to be seen.

On February 25, Haaretz contributor Amira Hass headlined “After Palestinian dies in Shin Bet hands, time to question the interrogators,” saying:

“Every week dozens if not hundreds of Palestinians start down the same road” as Jaradat.

“Dozens of Israelis (function) on a parallel track.” They include security forces making pre-dawn raids, complicit prison doctors, Shin Bet interrogators, Prison Service guards, prison clinic workers, and hanging judges.

Torture is official Israeli policy. Horrific Palestinian suffering follows. Israel bears full responsibility.

Jaradat was no ticking bomb. He was arrested on suspicion of stone throwing. He was brutally tortured. Israel extracts confessions that way. Implicating others is demanded.

Victims say anything to stop pain. Torturers know it. They take full advantage. They commit high crimes. They do so with impunity.

Jaradat’s death proves Israel “routinely uses torture.” It’s “not only to convict someone, (it’s) mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people.”

On February 25, a Haaretz editorial headlined “Last call before next intifada,” saying:

Justice is long overdue. “The writing was on the wall for quite some time.” Protests shouldn’t surprise anyone. Occupation harshness creates “despair and suffering without any political horizon.” Recent developments exacerbated conditions.

They include Netanyahu’s E1 development plan, failure to address settler vandalism, harassment and other crimes, rearresting released Palestinian prisoners, hunger strikers for justice, attacking nonviolent protesters, injuring and killing participants, and torturing Jaradat to death.

They’re “liable to be the match that lights the fire.” Another Intifada could happen any time. Calls are heard to do so. Resistance alone can bring change. Quiescence assures continued occupation harshness.

Haaretz called on Israel to put Palestine atop its agenda. Make it top order of business.

In January, fascism won big. Voters elected Israel’s most extremist government in history. Militarism, belligerence, state-sponsored terrorism, occupation ruthlessness, settlement expansions, and neoliberal harshness reflect official policy.

Peace is a non-starter. Palestinians are isolated on their own. If they don’t struggle for long denied rights, no one will do it for them. Sustained resistance more than ever is needed. If not now, when?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and 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 and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/accountability-now/

US Troops to Niger: A New Stage in the Scramble for Africa

February 26th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

President Barack Obama’s terse notification to Congress last week that American troops are being deployed to the northwest African nation of Niger confirms that a whole new stage in the imperialist recolonization of Africa is now in progress.

The dispatch of the first 100 troops—with hundreds more reportedly to follow—is bound up with a deal signed last month between Washington and the Niger government allowing the US military to set up a drone base on the country’s territory, creating the conditions for spreading the Obama administration’s remote-control killing spree throughout the region.

The buildup of US forces in Niger comes in the immediate wake of last month’s French intervention in neighboring Mali, carried out with critical US logistical and intelligence support, and aimed, in the words of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, at the “total reconquest” of the former colony.

Both Paris and Washington have justified their military incursions into the African continent in the name of defeating Al Qaeda and associated organizations in Africa. British Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in last month, warning that the prosecution of this war in Africa could span “decades.”

The glaring contradiction between this pretext for war in Africa’s Sahel region and the line-up of these imperialist powers behind Al Qaeda-linked militias in the sectarian-based war to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria is passed over in silence by the media and the political establishments in all three countries.

No one in the US press, for example, bothered noting that Obama’s announcement of the deployment of US troops in a supposed war against Al Qaeda in Africa came on the same day that Washington blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning an Al Qaeda terror bombing that massacred scores of civilians in Damascus.

Behind the incoherence of the pretexts for imperialist intervention, the real forces driving it are clear. Washington finds itself being economically eclipsed in Africa by China, which has emerged as the continent’s leading trade partner. Increasingly in competition over strategic resources—West Africa is soon expected to account for 25 percent of US petroleum imports—US imperialism is relying on its residual military superiority to combat this economic challenge.

In the prosecution of this predatory strategy, Al Qaeda serves a dual purpose—providing shock troops for the toppling of regimes seen as obstacles to US hegemony, and serving as a pretext for other interventions carried out in the name of combating “terrorism” and “extremism.”

Setting up the new base in Niger places US drones just across the border from Nigeria, which until recently has supplied 10 percent of US foreign oil imports and where the Pentagon has grown increasingly involved in an internal conflict involving Boko Haram, an indigenous Islamic sect that appears to have no ties to Al Qaeda nor any ambitions outside of Nigeria.

In light of these developments, the significance of the US-NATO intervention to bring down the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 emerges with ever greater clarity. Claiming the lives of some 80,000 Libyans and leaving an entire society in rubble, this was the first war to be commanded by AFRICOM, the regional command set up under the Bush administration in 2007. It was waged to pave the way for new and more far-reaching military interventions.

The Gaddafi regime served as the linchpin of security and economic relations that maintained a semblance of stability in the Sahel region, providing economic aid, for example, that served to cushion the longstanding conflicts between the Tuareg people and the regimes in Mali and Niger.

The toppling and murder of Gaddafi had the altogether foreseeable consequence of destabilizing the region, sending Tuaregs fleeing Libya into Mali, followed by the very Islamist elements that Washington had backed in the war for regime-change in Libya, and thus providing the pretext for both US and French imperialism to intervene again, putting troops on the ground in the region.

Plans for these interventions were well advanced before the first bomb was dropped on Tripoli. The region has been a focus of US strategic calculations for the past decade, beginning with Washington’s Pan Sahel Initiative in 2003, followed by its Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership in 2005.

In this context, the role played by a whole layer of pseudo-lefts internationally in justifying and promoting the war against Libya, touting it as a humanitarian intervention, a crusade for democracy, and even a “revolution,” also becomes clearer than ever.

The academic Juan Cole of the University of Michigan used his inflated reputation as a critic of the Iraq war to sell the war in Libya. Gilbert Achcar, a member of the international Pabloite United Secretariat and a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, condemned NATO for not dropping more bombs on the country. And organizations ranging from the Left Party in Germany, to the New Anti-capitalist Party in France, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and the International Socialist Organization in the US all engaged in the dirty work of politically legitimizing a predatory imperialist war.

The pro-war positions taken by these individuals and groups—in both Libya and Syria—reflect the evolution of a whole socio-political layer rooted in affluent sections of the middle class, which, with varying combinations of political calculation and ignorance, have come to identify their material interests with those of their “own” imperialist powers.

In the context of the escalating imperialist drive to redraw the map of Africa, these elements stand completely exposed as intellectual and political “assets” of the CIA and the Pentagon.

It follows that a genuine movement against war and colonialism can be developed only through the independent political mobilization and international unification of the working class in struggle against the root cause of war, the capitalist system. With the events unfolding in Africa, this perspective has been thoroughly vindicated.

Headlines across the Western corporate-media read, “BBC says ‘extensive, coordinated efforts’ to jam world service frequencies in China” (Fox News), “BBC blocked in China just days after reporting on Chinese hackers” (Washington Post), and “BBC “strongly condemns” China’s attempts to jam World Service broadcasts” (Radio Times), before weaving a lofty narrative of a “repressive regime” trying to gag freedom of the press.

In reality, BBC’s World Service is directly funded by the US State Department and is insidious propaganda admittedly designed to politically subvert not only China, but Iran, Russia, and many other nations perceived by Wall Street and London as intolerable competition. In March of 2011, the London Guardian in its report, “BBC World Service to sign funding deal with US state department,” stated explicitly:

The BBC World Service is to receive a “significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.

In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software.

The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services.

It is understood the US government has decided the reach of the World Service is such that it makes investment worthwhile.

Of course, “blocked” content translates to US State Department and other Western interests’ propaganda in the form of the openly US State Department-run “Voice of America,” and a myriad of faux-NGO’s funded directly by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In China particularly, NED has been cultivating a troupe of misfit “activists” and faux-fronts with names ranging from the cartoonish – the “Blind Activist” aka the “Barefoot Lawyer,” to the very ironic – “China Labor Watch, Inc,” which we must assume “watches” on, as exploited children and adults labor for WalMart and Apple.

RT would also report in 2011, in their report “BBC World Service and US State Department: new partners, new bias?,” that:

This would not be the first time the BBC has accepted money from organizations with their own agendas. In 2008, the corporation faced accusations of pro-Europe bias after it was revealed it had taken out US $230 million in loans from the EU. The loans were given by the European Investment Bank, which strives to promote EU policies.

Member of European Parliament Gerard Batten has a long-running beef with the BBC.

“It is institutionally politically biased, certainly in favour of things like the European Union, mass immigration, and a whole other host of ‘politically correct’ ideas that I think it peddles to the public,” he told RT.

Batten says taking this money would expose the hypocrisy at the heart of the BBC.

“The EU bans sponsorship of any news and current affairs TV programs across the EU,” Batten said. “Now it would appear then, that if the US State Department is going to fund BBC that would appear to be in breach of the directive.”

Biased, politically motivated enterprises like BBC’s World Service in fact represent a breach of journalistic ethics, and not only was Beijing’s decision to shut down World Services highly appropriate (if they in fact have done so), but so too would an investigation in both the US and the UK seeking to ascertain why in an economic crisis, money is being spent to sow political subversion overseas for the sake of corporate special interests, when people at home direly need assistance.

The BBC is an organization mired in controversy, and repeatedly exposed as exploiting people’s trust in their reputation to push the agenda of well-paying special interests.

The coordinated effort by the Western media to spin the BBC’s latest confrontation from a well equipped nation-state who has decided to pull the plug, is indicative that the rot that has infected BBC, has spread far and wide across the West indeed.

The Real Iran Hostage Crisis: A CIA Covert Op

February 26th, 2013 by Harry V. Martin

Global Research Editor’s Note

The script of Best Film Academy Award Movie  “Argo” which depicts the Iran Hostage Crisis is largely based on fiction.

The purpose of the film is to rewrite history, to falsify what actually happened as well as provide a human face to US foreign  policy.

Amply documented, the Iran Hostage Crisis was a complex CIA covert operation intent upon stalling the Iranian Revolution as well as spearheading the political demise of President Jimmy Carter.

The following article first published in 1995 is based on extensive documentation collected by Fara Mansoor, a prominent Iranian intellectual.

Michel  Chossudovsky, February 26, 2013


The Real Iranian Hostage Story from the Files of Fara Mansoor

By Harry V. Martin

Free America, 1995

Fara Mansoor is a fugitive. No, he hasn’t broken any laws in the United States. His crime is the truth. What he has to say and the documents he carries are equivalent to a death warrant for him, Mansoor is an Iranian who was part of the “establishment” in Iran long before the 1979 hostage taking. Mansoor’s records actually discount the alleged “October Surprise” theory that the Ronald Reagan-George Bush team paid the Iranians not to release 52 American hostages until after the November 1980 Presidential elections.

Mansoor’s meticulous documents, shared exclusively with this magazine, shows a much more sinister plot, the plot to take the hostages in the first place. “For 15 years the truth about the nature and origins of the Iranian hostage crisis has been buried in a mountain of misinformation,” Mansoor states. “Endless expert analysis has served only to deepen the fog that still surrounds this issue. We have been led to believe that the ‘crisis’ was a spontaneous act that just sprang out of the ‘chaos’ of the ‘Islamic Revolution’. Nothing could be further from the truth!”

“To really understand the hostage crisis and ‘who done it’, one has to look not only with a microscope, but also a wide angle lens to have a panoramic view of this well scripted ‘drama’,” Mansoor states. “That ‘drama’ was the result of large historical patterns, models, and motives. Once its true nature is understood, it will be clear how Iran/Contra happened.

Why Rafsanjani has been trying to ‘move toward the West,’ and why Reagan called him a ‘moderate’. And why, during the Gulf War, James Baker said, ‘we think Iran has conducted itself in a very, very credible way through this crisis’” Mansoor emphasizes that the “October Surprise” myth has served as dangerous misinformation.

THOUSANDS OF DOCUMENTS IN SUPPORT

With thousands of documents to support his position, Mansoor says that the “hostage crisis” was a political “management tool” created by the pro-Bush faction of the CIA, and implemented through an a priori Alliance with Khomeini’s Islamic Fundamentalists.” He says the purpose was twofold:

  • To keep Iran intact and communist-free by putting Khomeini in full control.
  • To destablize the Carter Administration and put George Bush in the White House.

“The private Alliance was the logical result of the intricate Iranian political reality of the mid-70s, and a complex network of powerful U.S.-Iranian ‘business’ relationships,” Mansoor states. “I first met Khomeini in 1963 during the failed coup attempt against the Shah. Since that time I have been intimately involved with Iranian politics. I knew in 1979 that the whole, phoney ‘Islamic Revolution’ was ‘mission implausible’.” Mansoor was frank. “There is simply no way that those guys with the beards and turbans could have pulled off such a brilliantly planned operation without very sophisticated help.”

Mansoor has spent 10 years researching the issue.

“I have collected enough data to yield a very clear picture. Mr. Bush’s lieutenants removed the Shah, brought Khomeini back to Iran, and guided his rise to power, sticking it to President Carter, the American people (52 in particular), and the Iranian people.”

He stated with boxes and boxes of evidence to support his contentions.

“My extensive research has revealed the heretofore untold truth about this episode. This is not another ‘October Surprise’ theory purporting how the hostage crisis resulted in some Khomeini-Republic better deal. That theory puts the cart before the horse. Its absurd premise is that a major international deal was initiated and consummated in three weeks. Give me a break! Bill Casey didn’t have to go to Paris to play lets-make-deal. The ‘deal’ had been in operation for at least two years. This game of blind-man’s-bluff around Casey’s gravestone was more disinformation, damage control.”

REAGAN, BUSH AND THATCHER IN IRAN IN 1978

Mansoor produced a confidential document called the “Country Team Minutes” of April 26, 1978, more than a year before the hostage crisis. The meeting was held in Iran. The second paragraph of the routine minutes, states, “The Ambassador commented on our distinguished visitors, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Margaret Thatcher, and commented that Teheran seems to be the site for an opposition parties congress.” Mansoor indicates the entire relationship was probably the most sophisticated criminal act in recent history. “That the people who, until recently, were holding power in Washington and those who currently are still in control in Teheran, got there by totally subverting the democratic process of both countries is news. That their methods of subversion relied on kidnapping, extortion and murder is criminal,” Mansoor states.

Mansoor became a target after he did a radio show in Portland on November 13, 1992. It was the first time he attempted to go public with his documents and information. The Iranian regime has placed a bounty on Mansoor’s head and he has received many death threats.

Is Mansoor just another conspiracy nut? Ervand Abrahamian of Baruch College of New York stated in a letter to Mansoor,

“As you know I am very weary of conspiracy theories. But, despite my preconceived bias, I must admit I found your manuscript to be thoroughly researched, well documented, and, of course extremely relevant to the present. You have done an first-class job of interviewing participants, collecting data from scattered sources, and putting them together like a highly complicated puzzle.”

Mansoor’s meticulous research clearly demonstrates how Khomeini’s published vision of an Islamic Government (Vilayat-Faqih) dovetailed with the regional and global strategic objectives of a hard-core subset of the U.S. National Security establishment loyal to George Bush. It shows that the Iranian hostage crisis was neither a crisis nor chaos. In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a coup in Iran, which threw out the democratic government and installed the Shah.

In order to understand the imperative of this Alliance, we must realistically examine the sociopolitical alignment both in Iran and the U.S., and accurately assess their respective interests to find the command ground for this coalescence. The anti-monarchic forces in mid-70s Iran consisted of various nationalists groups including religious reformist, the Islamic Fundamentalists, and the leftists and communist.

The Nationalist forces were varied. Some were from within the government, but they were poorly organized and without grass-roots support. Their position was clearly anti-left and anti-communist, but they were vulnerable to being taken over by the well-organized left.

The Islamic Fundamentalists had no government experience, but they had major grassroots supports. Islam, in its Shi’ite format was deeply embedded in the lives of the vast majority of the Iranian people. The Fundamentalists were absolutely anti-communist.

CARTER FIRES 800 CIA COVERT OPERATORS

The philosophical divide within the U.S. National Security establishment, especially the CIA, became quite serious in the aftermath of Watergate. To make matters worse, the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, his campaign promise to clean the “cowboy” elements out of the Central Intelligence Agency and his “human rights” policies alarmed the faction of the CIA loyal to George Bush. Bush was CIA director under Richard Nixon. Finally, the firing of CIA Director George Bush by Carter, and the subsequent “Halloween Massacre” in which Carter fired over 800 CIA covert operatives in 1977, angered the “cowboys” beyond all measure. That was Carter’s October surprise, 800 firings on Halloween 1977.

Bush and his CIA coverts were well aware of the Shah’s terminal cancer, unknown to President Carter. The team had an elaborate vested interest to protect. They were determined to keep Iran intact and communist-free and put George Bush in the White House.

TIMELINE: SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

Hence, the Islamic Fundamentalists were the only viable choice through which the Bush covert team could implement its own private foreign policy. The results: the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the fall of President Carter, and the emergence of something called the “New World Order.” Mansoor’s documents show step-by-step events:

1. In 1974, the Shah of Iran was diagnosed with cancer.

2. In 1975, former CIA director, and the U.S. Ambassador to Iran, Richard Helms learned of the Shah’s cancer through the Shah’s closest confidant, General Hossein Fardoust. The Shah, Helms and Fardoust had been close personal friends since their school days together in Switzerland during the 1930s.

3. On November 4, 1976, concurrent with Jimmy Carter’s election as President, CIA Director George Bush issued a secret memo to the U.S. Ambassador in Iran, Richard Helms, asking:

“Have there been any changes in the personality pattern of the Shah; what are their implication pattern for political behavior? Identification of top military officers that most likely play key roles in any transference of power if the Shah were killed…who will be the leading actors? How will the Shah’s pet projects, including the economic development program, be effected by his departure?”

4. By July 1977, anticipating trouble ahead, the Bush covert team issued preliminary script for the transition of power in Iran. According to John D. Stemple, a CIA analyst and Deputy Chief Political officer of the U.S. Embassy in Iran,

“A ten page analysis of the opposition written by the embassy’s political section in July 1977 correctly identified Bakhiar, Bazargan, Khomeini and Behesti as major actors in the drama that begin unfolding a year later.”

5. Contrary to this analysis, in August 1977, the “official wing” of the CIA fed President Carter a 60-page Study on Iran which concluded:

“The Shah will be an active participant in Iranian life well into the 1980s…and there will be no radical changes in Iranian political behavior in the near future.”

6. On October 31, 1977, president Carter made good on his campaign promise to clean the “cowboys” out of the CIA. He fired over 800 covert operatives from the Agency, many of whom were loyal to George Bush. Carter’s presidency split the CIA. It produced in them, among whom were “many well-trained in political warfare, a concerted will for revenge.” By the end of the 1970s many of these special covert operatives had allied themselves with George Bush’s candidacy, and later with Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign.

7. On November 15, the Shah of Iran visited Washington, D.C. Carter toasted his guest, “If ever there was a country which has blossomed forth under enlightened leadership, it would be the ancient empire of Persia.”

8. On November 23, Ayatollah Khomeini’s elder son, Haji Mustafa, died mysteriously in Najaf, Iraq. According to professor Hamid Algar, he was “assassinated by the Shah’s U.S.-instituted security police SAVAK…the tragedy inflamed the public in Iran.” Ayatollah Khomeini placed an advertisement in the French Newspaper Le Monde which read: “thanking people for condolences that had been sent of the murder of his son”. He also “appealed to the army to liberate Iran, and to the intellectuals and all good Muslims to continue their criticism of the Shah”.

9. December 31, 1977, Carter visited the Shah in Iran. He toasted the Shah for maintaining Iran as “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” Ironically, that so-called stability evaporated before the champagne lost its fizz.

10. On January 7, 1978, an insidious article entitled Iran and the Red and Black Colonialism, appeared in the Iranian daily newspaper Ettela’at. It castigated the exiled Khomeini, and produced a massive protest riot in the Holy City of Qum the next day. The clergy had little choice but to rally to Khomeini’s defense. The Qum incident shifted many of the clergy from a position of support for the Shah’s monarchy to an active opposition. That “dirty trick” perpetuated by General Fardoust was the trigger that sparked Islamic movement participating in the anti-Shah democratic Revolution. John D. Stempel, characterized Fardoust’s importance to the Alliance: “it is hard to over estimated the value of having a mole in the inner circle of the Shah.”

11. On February 3, a confidential communiqué from the U.S. Embassy clearly reflected the vision of the Alliance:

“Though based on incomplete evidence, our best assessment to date is that the Shia Islamic movement dominated by Ayatollah Khomeini is far better organized, enlighten and able to resist Communism than its detractors would lead us to believe. It is rooted in the Iranian people more than any western ideology, including Communism.”

12. April 1978, Le Monde “identified Khomeini’s Liberation Movement of Iran as the most significant force in the opposition followed by the Shi’ite Islam joins the reformist of progressive critics of the Shah on the same ground. In fact, this analysis was contrary to what Mohaammad Tavassoli, leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran, expressed to John D. Stempel on August 21, 1978:

“The nationalist movement in Iran lacks a popular base. The choice is between Islam and Communism…close ties between the Liberation Movement of Iran and the religious movement was necessary. Iran was becoming split by Marxist and the religious.”

13. On April 26, the confidential minutes of the U. S. Embassy Country team meeting welcomed Bush, Reagan and Thatcher.

14. On May 6, Le Monde became the first western newspaper to interview Khomeini in Najaf, Iraq. Khomeini acknowledged his compatibility with the strategic imperatives of the Bush covert team, “we would not collaborate with the Marxists, even to the overthrow of the Shah.”

15. The same month, Khomeini’s old ally from the failed 1963 coup (that resulted in Khomeini’s arrest and major uprising in June 1963 and his subsequent exile to Iraq) General Valliollah Qarani sent his emissary to meet Khomeini in Najaf. Qarani had been a major CIA asset in Iran since the 1953 coup. Seeing another chance to gain power for himself, he advised Khomeini, according to former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-sader:

“if you settle for the Shah’s departure and don’t use anti-American rhetoric, Americans are ready to take him out.”

16. In August, the Bush team sent its own point man to meet the exiled Ayatollah in Najaf. Professor Richard Cottam carried excellent credentials. During the 1953 coup, he had been in charge of the CIA’s Iran Desk, also, he had been in close contact with Dr. Ibrahim Yazdi in the U.S. since 1975. Curiously, he admitted to Bani-sadr in 1987, that he had not been working for the Carter Administration. Cottam’s visit must have had an impact, because Iran suddenly began to experience a series of mysterious catastrophes:

  • In Aberdeen, Fundamentalist supporters burned down a theater killing the innocent occupants, blaming it on the SAVAK and the Shah.
  • There were riots in Isfahan that resulted in martial law.
  • On August 27, one of Khomeini’s rivals among the Shia Islamic faithful outside of Iran, Ayatollah Mosa Sadr mysteriously disppeared. According to an intelligence source he was killed and buried in Libya.

17. By late August, the Shah was totally confused. U.S. Ambassador Sullivan recorded the Shah’s pleadings over the outbreak of violence:

“he said the pattern was widespread and that it was like an outbreak of a sudden rash in the country…it gave evidence of sophisticated planning and was not the work of spontaneous oppositionists…the Shah presented that it was the work of foreign intrigue…this intrigue went beyond the capabilities of the Soviet KGB and must, therefore, also involve British and American CIA. The Shah went on to ask ‘Why was the CIA suddenly turning against him? What had he done to deserve this sort of action from the United States?”

18. September 8, the Shah’s army gunned down hundreds of demonstrators in Teheran in what became known as the “Jaleh Square Massacre”.

19. On September 9, President Carter phoned the Shah to confirm his support for the Shah, a fact that enraged the Iranian population.

20. A few days later, Carter’s National Security aide, Gary Sick, received a call from Richard Cottam, requesting a discrete meeting between him and Khomeini’s representative in the U.S., Dr. Yazdi. Sick refused.

21. Khomeini for the first time, publicly called for the Shah’s overthrow.

22. In Mid-September, at the height of the revolution, “one of the handful of Khomeini’s trusted associates”, Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Beheshti, secretly visited the United States among others, he also meet with Yazdi in Texas. Beheshti was an advocate of the eye-for-an-eye school of justice.

23. In early October 1978, the agent for the Bush covert team arranged to force Khomeini out of Iraq.

24. October 3, 1978, Yazdi picked up Khomeini in Iraq and headed for Kuwait. According to Gary Sick, he received an urgent call from Richard Cottam, learning for the first time that Khomeini had been forced out of Iraq. Sick was told that Khomeini and his entourage were stuck in no man’s land while attempting to cross the border. Cottam was requesting White House intervention to resolve the issue. Sick respond, “there is nothing we could do”.

25. October 6, Khomeini’s entourage, having gotten back through Baghdad, popped up in Paris. According to Bani-sadr, “it was Khomeini who insisted on going to Paris instead of Syria or Algeria”. Whoever helped Khomeini out of the Kuwaiti border impasse had to have been on good terms with both the French and Saddam Hussein.

26. December 12, Yazdi made a trip to the U.S. to promote Khomeini and his Islamic Republic. Yazdi met secretly with Henry Precht on an unofficial capacity. Precht was the Director of the Iran Desk at the State Department and one of the Bush team’s main choke points in the Carter Administration. Later Precht and Yazdi appeared together for televised discussion of Iran. Yazdi assured the American public that Khomeini had not really called for a “torrent of blood”, and that the “election would be absolutely free”. The Islamic Republic “would enjoy full freedom of speech and the press, including the right to attack Islam.

27. December 28, Cottam visited Khomeini in Paris where he noted that U.S. citizen Dr. Yazdi was the “leading tactician in Khomeini’s camp” and apparent “chief of staff”. Khomeini was not interested in the Mullahs taking over the government. Also noted that “Khomeini’s movement definitely plans to organize a political party to draw on Khomeini’s charisma. Cottam thinks such a party would win all Majlis seats.”

28. Leaving Paris, Cottam slipped into Teheran, arriving the first week in January 1979, to prepare Khomeini’s triumphal return to Iran.

29. January 4, 1979, Carter’s secret envoy, General Robert Huyser arrived in Iran. His mission was to prevent the “fall of the Shah”. According to Huyser, Alexander Haig, ostensibly a strong Shah supporter-inexplicably, “took violent exception to the whole idea.” Huyser recalled that “General Haig never gave me a full explanation of his strong objections.” Huyser also revealed that Ambassador Sullivan “had also expressed objections.” Two pro-Shah advocates opposed to the prevention of the Shah’s fall.

30. On January 14, President Carter finally “authorized a meeting between Warren Zimmerman and Ibrahim Yazdi. On the same day, Khomeini, in an interview on CBS claimed, “a great part of the army was loyal to him” and that “he will be in effect the strong man of Iran.”

31. On January 16, in an exact repeat of the 1953 CIA coup, Bush’s covert team ushered the “eccentric and weak” Shah out of Iran.

32. On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini staged his own version of a “triumphal return” in the streets of Teheran.

33. Khomeini moved quickly to establish his authority. On February 5 he named Mehdi Bazargan, a devoted Muslim and anti-communist, interim Prime Minister. Yazdi and Abbas Amir Entezam became Bazargan’s deputies, Dr. Sanjabi Foreign Minister, and General Qarani was named military Chief of Staff.

34. On February 11, 1979, in seemingly a bizarre twist, General Qarani asked the Shah’s “eyes and ears” General Hossien Fardoust for recommendations to fill the new top posts in Iran’s armed forces. Outside of the Chief of SAVAK, all the other recommendations were accepted. Shortly after, General Fardoust became head of SAVAMA, Khomeini’s successor to SAVAK.

35. On February 14, 1979, two weeks after Khomeini’s return to Iran, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was seized by Khomeini supporters disguised as leftist guerrillas in an attempt to neutralize the left. U.S. hostages were seized, but to the chagrin of Khomeini’s Fundamentalist, the Iranian coalition government restored order immediately. Ironically, in the same day in Kabul, Afghanistan, the U.S. Ambassador was also kidnapped by fanatic Islamic Fundamentalists disguised as leftist guerrillas and killed in the gunfight.

36. On February 14, soon after the order was restored at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, Khomeini’s aide Yazdi supplied the Embassy with a group of Iranians for compound security. Ambassador Sullivan installed armed, and trained this Swat squad lead by SAVAK/CIA agent Mashallah Kahsani, with whom Sullivan developed a close working relationship.

37. By August, pro-Bush CIA official George Cave was visiting Iran to provide intelligence briefings to Khomeini’s aides, especially Yazdi and Entezam. These intelligence exchanges continued until October 31, the day Carter fired Bush and the 800 agents. Then with all the Iranian officials who had restored order in the first Embassy seizure eliminated, the stage was set for what happened four days later.

38. On November 4, 1979, the U.S. Embassy was taken again. Leading the charge was none other than Ambassador Sullivan’s trusted Mashallah Kashani, the Embassy’s once and former security chief.

With the evidence and documentation supplied by Mansoor, the alleged October Surprise would not have been necessary. President Carter was the target, in revenge for the Halloween Massacre, the night 800 CIA operatives and George Bush were fired by Carter. The main thrust, however, was to prevent a communist takover of Iran on the Shah’s anticipated death.

Declassifying Canada in Haiti: Canadian officials planned military intervention weeks before Haitian coup

by Anthony Fenton and Dru Oja Jay,

Global Research, April 10, 2006

Part I . Canadian officials planned military intervention weeks before Haitian coup

Classified memos obtained by The Dominion through Access to Information Act request raise new questions about the extent of Canadian participation in the 2004 coup against Haiti’s democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Nine days before the February 29 coup that removed Aristide and thousands of elected officials, then-minister Denis Coderre told the Canadian Press that “it is clear that we don’t want Aristide’s head; we believe that Aristide should stay.”

In the same report, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham claimed that Canada was seeking to pressure Aristide to adopt a series of measures to give the opposition more power in government.

Nine days earlier, on February 11th, Canadian Ambassador Kenneth Cook sent a memo marked “Confidential” to the Privy Council Office and Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, with a subject heading “Meeting with US Ambassador.” Its contents suggest that Canada was planning for the removal of the Aristide-led government while officials publicly claimed to be attempting to reach a peaceful agreement.

Cook wrote:

The situation we face is not only one of a struggle for power, it involves a humanitarian crisis and the potential to permanently change the course of Haitian history. President Aristide is clearly a serious aggravating factor in the current crisis and unless he gives dramatic early signs that he is implementing the CARICOM road map then the OAS, CARICOM and possibly UN will have to consider the options including whether a case can be made for the duty to protect.

Large portions of the memo, which discusses specific plans for military intervention, are blacked out. Of the period requested, February 5 to March 15 2004, Feb 20 to March 15 were omitted without explanation.

The “duty to protect” is another term for the controversial Canadian- sponsored “responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine, which was adopted as international doctrine without a vote by the UN General Assembly at the UN World Summit in September 2005. Countries like Cuba and Venezuela have strongly opposed the doctrine, saying that it gives powerful countries freedom to intervene when they determine a state to have “failed.”

Notable Canadians involved in the drafting of the R2P doctrine were Michael Ignatieff and Lloyd Axworthy. In his writings, academic- turned-politician Ignatieff has praised the US as an “Empire Lite,” and supported the US-led war on Iraq. Axworthy was Canada’s foreign affairs Minister in 2000 when economic sanctions were levied against Haiti’s democratically elected government.

The R2P doctrine developed a framework for “threshold criteria for military intervention,” under the guise of “humanitarian intervention for human protection.” Under the core principles devised in this doctrine, “the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.”

Two “precautionary principles” of R2P stand out. First, that “the primary purpose of the intervention…must be to halt or avert human suffering,” and second, that military intervention must only be used as a last resort, “Military intervention can only be justified when every non-military option… has been explored.”

In this case, substantial evidence suggests that the crisis that Ambassador Cook used to invoke the R2P was itself instigated by the US State Department and other US and Canadian agencies. The US, Canadian, and European Union-funded “civil society organizations” though lacking in popular support, continually demanded that Aristide step down and that their representatives be granted key positions in government. US, Canadian and French diplomats insisted on opposition support for any power-sharing agreement. Some critics claim that the three governments knew that the opposition would not accept any agreement other than one that gave them control.

According to many reports, the intervention itself, justified in memos by the R2P doctrine, had the effect of multiplying and aggravating the humanitarian crisis. An April 2004 human rights report prepared by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) found that “the multinational force of 3,600 soldiers… was not functioning to protect supporters of President Aristide or prevent killings, kidnappings, and arsons directed at this supporters.”

The NLG met with the Director of the State Morgue in Port au Prince, and reported that “The Director admitted that 800 bodies were ‘dumped and buried’ by morgue on Sunday, March 7, 2004, and another 200 bodies dumped on Sunday, March 28, 2004. The ‘usual’ amount dumped is less than 100 per month.”

A March 2005 Harvard University Law School report, “Keeping the Peace in Haiti?” contended that the UN military force, MINUSTAH, “has effectively provided cover for the police to wage a campaign of terror in Port au Prince’s slums.” Having discovered evidence of a mass grave, the human rights delegation found MINUSTAH officials aware but unwilling to investigate the “clandestine gravesite.” Canadian UN police (UNPOL) Commissioner David Beer, while ackowledging such that grave sites were “a point of contention” said that the grave found by “was not an active case being investigated.”

According to other government documents acquired by The Dominion, Denis Paradis organized a January 2003 meeting “in the spirit of the responsibility to protect.” The secret, high level roundtable was dubbed the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti. Details of this meeting were leaked in a March 15, 2003 edition of l’Actualité, by reporter Michel Vastel. Vastel wrote then that the theme of “Aristide must go,” along with the possibility of a “Kosovo-model” trusteeship over Haiti, were discussed by members of the Canadian, French, and US governments, along with representatives from the Organization of American States (OAS).

In an effort to control the damage of the media leak, the Canadian government issued a release denying that regime change or a trusteeship were discussed at this meeting.

Part II. Did Canada have plans to support another military coup in Haiti?

According to classified memos obtained by The Dominion through an Access to Information Act request, Canadian officials speculated about working with Haiti’s dreaded former military in the weeks before the coup d’état that removed elected President Aristide and thousands of elected officials.

Eighteen days before the military intervention, Canadian Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Cook wrote of the paramilitary groups that had entered the country days earlier from the Dominican Republic:

There is clearly a military hand in the planning of current anti-government insurrectional events but it is very difficult to say [what] the potential for bringing together a significant force based on the former armed forces [is]. To date it is not considered likely but if someone like Senator (former Major) Dany Toussaint with support of Col. Himmler Rebu were to intervene the scenario would be quite different.

The heavily censored memos acquired by The Dominion leave some doubt as to Cook’s intent. In the context of Cook’s other comments blaming Aristide for the crisis, however, the Ambassador seems to be suggesting that Haiti’s former military, led by Dany Toussaint, could be used to put an end to the crisis. The subsequent (post-coup) integration of former military personnel and officers into the Haitian National Police under the oversight of Canada’s RCMP lends further credence to this interpretation.

Variously, Toussaint had been alleged to have involvement in narcotraficking, ties to the CIA, and a possible role in the murder of radio journalist Jean Dominique. In the 1980s, he received training at the Fort Benning, Georgia “School of the Americas.” In 2001, then Republican Congressman Porter Goss wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell that Toussaint is “credibly linked by a number of US government agencies to narcotics trafficking in Haiti.”

Interviewed two days after the coup against Aristide, Toussaint referred to paramilitary leader Guy Philippe as “a brave man who has worked for his country.” Phillipe is known for his own ties to narco-trafficking, his alleged involvement in murders and at least two previous coup attempts against Aristide, as well as his affinity for former President Ronald Reagan and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Both Philippe and Toussaint would run for President in 2006, garnering few votes. Both Toussaint and Himmler Rebu agitated with the US- and European-funded “Democratic Platform,” demanding the ouster of Aristide.

The former military that Cook refers to is widely acknowledged to be responsible for massive human rights violations, including murder, torture, political repression, and overthrowing a previous democratically elected government. The Haitian military was created during an American military occupation of Haiti during WWI, and disbanded by then-President Aristide in 1994.

Again invoking the “responsibility to protect” (R2P, see part I) theme, Cook describes the situation in Northern Haiti. According to his intelligence sources, “Cap Haitien has become the scene of much violence, stores and banks are closed as are gas stations. The city is for all practical purposes isolated… A solution will have to be found to avoid a humanitarian crisis.” Several paragraphs are then censored, followed by: “This is a complicating factor in any consideration of options for a stabilizing police presence here.”

Extensive censorship raises as many questions as are addressed by the documents. 25 days of requested documents–from Feb 20 to March 15–were simply omitted without explanation.

Cook’s references to the use of military force to remove Aristide, however, fly in the face of the official story. Nine days after Cook’s memo, Canadian ministers Graham and Coderre were telling the press that Canada was seeking a peaceful settlement to the crisis, which was largely instigated by Canadian-, US- and European-funded groups within Haiti. Those countries backed the unelected government after it was imposed, and avoided acknowledging evidence of widespread political repression and human rights abuses.

The limited historical perspective available two years after the coup also raises serious questions about the use of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine. Rather than avert a crisis, foreign military intervention in Haiti became the backdrop for a major escalation of atrocities, with thousands killed, hundreds jailed for their political views, and thousands more forced into hiding after the coup.

With the exception of London’s Daily Mail (see below), the British mainstream media, including The Guardian and the Independent,  chose to abstain from coverage or commentary of this historic court case, which points to a criminal process of media disinformation by the BBC.

The BBC chose to “cover up its own coverup.”  Not a single word from the BBC  to justify or explain or refute their lies, particularly regarding the collapse of WTC building 7 which had been announced by the BBC 20 minutes before the collapse took place, suggesting that the BBC and other media had advanced knowledge of the collapse of a WTC building 7 which was not even struck by an aircraft. 

This is one among a string of BBC media fabrications including fake images and video footage. 

We will recall that in August 2011, the BBC showed fake video footage of Libyans celebrating “Liberation” in Tripoli’s Green square, following NATO’s humanitarian bombings. Oops. They were waving Indian flags.  They are not Libyans but Indians. “We made a mistake”, assuming that the British public would not see the difference.

It is our hope that Tony Brooke’s initiative will encourage people across the United Kingdom to question the legitimacy of the TV Licence fee, which supports an organization involved in outright war propaganda on behalf of the British government. 

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, February 25, 2013


 

 Tony Rooke represented himself at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in Sussex   

Told inspector on visit in May 2012 that he would not be paying licence fee Rooke said he was withholding fee under Section 15 of Terrorism Act 2000 

This states it’s an offence for someone to provide funds used for terrorism   He said he didn’t want to give money to an organisation ‘funding terrorism’   

Rooke said BBC claimed World Trade Centre 7 fell 20 minutes before it did 

But judge made Rooke pay £200 costs and gave him conditional discharge

By Mark Duell

Wouldn’t pay: Tony Rooke (pictured at Horsham Magistrates’ Court today), did not want to give money to an organisation ‘funding the practice of terrorism’

Wouldn’t pay: Tony Rooke (pictured at Horsham Magistrates’ Court today), did not want to give money to an organisation ‘funding the practice of terrorism’

A 49-year-old man refused to pay his TV licence because he believed the BBC covered up facts about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Fan base: Around 100 supporters of Tony Rooke arrived at Horsham Magistrates' Court in West Sussex to watch the court case - although only 40 could pack into the public gallery

 

Tony Rooke, who represented himself today at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in West Sussex, said he did not want to give money to an organisation ‘funding the practice of terrorism’.

Happy: Speaking outside court, Rooke said he was 'pleased' with the outcome, 'all things considered'Rooke, who admitted owning a TV and watching it without a licence, was found guilty of using an unlicensed set, given a six-month conditional discharge and told to pay £200 costs.

He was visited in May 2012 by an inspector after withdrawing his licence in March, but said he was withholding the funds under the Terrorism Act.

Section 15 of the 2000 Act states that it is an offence for someone to invite another to provide money, intending that it should be used, or having reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used, for terrorism purposes.

‘I am withholding all funds from the BBC, the Government and subsidiaries under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act,’ he told the inspector.

He added that he had already lodged a complaint with the BBC.

Rooke told the court: ‘I believe the BBC, who are directly funded by the licence fee, are furthering the purposes of terrorism and I have incontrovertible evidence to this effect. I do not use this word lightly given where I am.’

He was not allowed to show his pre-prepared video evidence in court because the District Judge said it was not relevant to the trial.

But the major point Rooke said he relied upon was that the BBC allegedly reported that World Trade Centre 7 had fallen 20 minutes before it did.
Fan base: Around 100 supporters of Tony Rooke arrived at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in West Sussex to watch the court case – although only 40 could pack into the public gallery

Fan base: Around 100 supporters of Tony Rooke arrived at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in West Sussex to watch the court case – although only 40 could pack into the public gallery

He also made reference to a theory about the way the skyscraper was said to have fallen in on itself, which some people believe showed signs of a controlled demolition.

Mr Rooke said: ‘The BBC reported it 20 minutes before it fell. They knew about it beforehand. Last time I was here I asked you (the judge): “Were you aware of World Trade Centre 7”?

Happy: Speaking outside court, Rooke said he was ‘pleased’ with the outcome, ‘all things considered’

‘You said you had heard of it. Ten years later you should have more than heard of it. It’s the BBC’s job to inform the public. Especially of miracles of science and when laws of physics become suspended.

‘They have made programmes making fools of and ridiculing those of us who believe in the laws of gravity. American reports have shown that the fall was nothing but a controlled demolition.

‘I am not looking at who demolished it – that is impossible – but the BBC actively tried to hide this from the public.’

Not paying a TV licence under Section 363 of the Communications Act is a strict liability offence, said Garth Hanniford, prosecuting. He asked Rooke why he continued to watch the BBC with no licence.

Rooke said: ‘Ignorance is not an excuse – I need to know what these people are saying.’ He later added: ‘You are asking me to commit a crime if you are asking me to pay.’

Around 100 supporters arrived at Horsham Magistrates’ Court today to watch the court case – although only 40 could pack into the public gallery.

The court called in back-up from Sussex Police with two officers standing at the door to the court and several more outside. There was cheering and applause as Rooke put his case forward in court.

District Judge Stephen Nicholls said: ‘This is not a public inquiry into 9/11. This is an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act.’

He said he had difficulty sitting in the magistrates’ court as he ‘did not believe he had the power to rule under the terrorism act’.

He said: ‘Even if I accept the evidence you say, this court has no power to create a defence in the manner which you put forward.’

Sentencing, Judge Nicholls said: ‘Mr Rooke puts the basis of his defence under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act, effectively asking the court to find the BBC is a terrorist organisation and that if he continues to pay them he himself is committing a criminal offence.

‘I have explained to Mr Rooke even if I were to accept his evidence I would be unable to find a defence.’

Speaking outside court, Rooke said he was ‘pleased’ with the outcome, ‘all things considered’.

A large crowd arrived at Horsham Magistrates’ Court this morning, as 9/11 truth campaigner Tony Rooke had his day in court.

Prosecuted for not paying his TV licence, Rooke argued that he could not give money to the BBC because of the corporation’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks on the US.

He said the BBC’s reporting of the incident and subsequent investigations made it complicit in acts of terrorism.

Therefore, he argued, paying for his licence would put him in breach of the Terrorism Act 2000, section 15, which makes it illegal to provide funds for a terrorist group.

In the past year, Germany has more than doubled its arms exports to the Arab Gulf monarchies. Algeria, too, received more defense materiel than in 2011. This emerges from a response by the ministry of economics to a parliamentary question of the Left Party, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last week.

In 2012, arms exports valued at €1.42 billion were approved for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In the previous year, these exports were just €570 million. At €1.24 billion, the largest share went to Saudi Arabia, nine times as much as the year before. Export permits for Bahrain and Qatar rose to €4.3 and €17.6 million, respectively.

As for arms exports to Algeria, in 2010 they were around €20 million, while in 2011 they had risen to €217 million, and in 2012 to €287 million.

According to the economics ministry, these figures are based upon a “preliminary” analysis of arms exports permits issued in 2012. Definitive figures will be published towards the end of the year in the government’s arms export report. They are expected to be far higher.

At the end of last year, it was revealed that Saudi Arabia had officially requested the purchase of hundreds of “Boxer” armoured transport vehicles and 30 “Dingo” armoured reconnaissance vehicles from Germany. More recently, the German media reported that the Saudi monarchy was also seeking to buy German patrol boats worth €1.5 billion. In 2011, it was revealed that Germany had supplied 200 “Leopard 2” tanks to Saudi Arabia.

The massive stepping-up of arms supplies to the Gulf States by Germany reflects the geo-strategic interests of German imperialism, which is increasingly acting with military aggression to satisfy its hunger for raw materials and to impose its own interests against those of its rivals.

Last week, the financial daily Handelsblatt published an article headlined “Expedition raw materials: Germany’s new course”, which laid out German imperialism’s new doctrine. The article states that German industry and government agree that the “securing of raw materials” is a “strategic theme for German foreign policy”. Securing them must also involve the use of “instruments of security and military policy”, the paper wrote. Handelsblatt placed the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, in this context. “In the view of Chancellor Angela Merkel, German interests are already being secured through arms exports to strategically important regions such as the oil state of Saudi Arabia”, it wrote. “The controversial export of ‘Leopard 2’ and ‘Boxer’ tanks, as well as patrol boats, to Saudi Arabia should also be seen against this background. According to the ‘Merkel doctrine’, Germany’s ‘strategic partners’ should be supported not only politically but also by force of arms—before being compelled in a crisis to send one’s own soldiers.”

Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière, who is restructuring the German army into a global fighting force, describes this doctrine cynically as “strengthening instead of intervening.” In an interview with news weekly Der Spiegel last November, he said that it was a matter of “strengthening the security forces, including through military equipment, in weak countries with halfway decent governments, so that they can take security into their own hands.”

What de Maizière means is the suppression of protests by governments that the German bourgeoisie regards as central for the defence of its strategic interests. The Gulf States are not only an important source of raw materials for Germany; they also play a key role in containing revolutionary struggles in the Arab world, which began with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and in defending imperialist interests in the region.

The semi-feudal al-Saud monarchy, under which executions and torture are an almost daily occurrence, suppresses all protests against their dictatorial rule by police violence. The al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain has employed extreme brutality in dealing with mass protests over the last two years. Qatar first supported the NATO bombing campaign against Libya and is now playing a key role organizing the war against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, waged by the West.

The Gulf States also play a key role in the preparations for war against Iran. The Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates—was founded in 1981 as a direct response to the Iranian revolution. In recent years, the Gulf States have been continually provided with the latest military technology as part of the Western powers’ preparations for war against Iran.

The German government justifies its arms sales to Saudi Arab directly with the preparations for war against Iran. In an interview with the news program Tagesthemen, when Chancellor Merkel was asked about German defense exports to Saudi Arabia, she declared that Germany enjoyed a “strategic partnership” with some of the Gulf States, since the Iranian nuclear program was regarded as a “very serious threat”.

A war against Iran would not only trigger a conflagration throughout the region, but risks armed conflict with Russia and China, who support Tehran. This testifies to the dangers of a third World War.

The resurgence of German militarism, which in the last century plunged humanity into two world wars, is opposed by broad layers of the German population. Against this backdrop, the opposition parties are trying to distance themselves from the unpopular arms exports.

The Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor in this year’s federal elections, Peer Steinbrück, claims an “SPD-Green Party government under my leadership would turn off arms exports”.

This is pure hypocrisy. The last SPD-Green Party government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens) not only supported the bloody colonial wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Like the Merkel government, it exported weapons to the Middle East, including hundreds of “Leopard” battle tanks to Turkey, 1,200 anti-tank weapons to Saudi Arabia and submarines to Israel.

Nothing has changed regarding the SPD and the Green’s fundamental support for war. Only last week, they voted with the government parties for the deployment of 330 German troops to Mali to support the French invasion.

The Left Party’s criticism of arms exports is an equally mendacious attempt to divert attention from their own role supporting Germany’s war policy.

Like all the other parties of the German bourgeoisie, the Left Party has supported the murderous war against Syria, where over the last two years pro-Western militias have organized a terrorist war to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad and to install a pro-Western puppet government. Late last year, leaders of the Left Party signed a statement together with politicians from the Christian Democrats, the SPD and Greens in support of war against Syria. The Syrian opposition forces supported by the Left Party are mainly funded and armed by the Gulf States.

The collaboration of all the parties in the Bundestag (federal parliament) with the Gulf States, or with forces supported by them, is a warning to the working class. As soon as mass protests against war and austerity break out in Germany, the ruling class will suppress them with the same brutality employed by the Gulf monarchies, which they have armed to the teeth.

This week, the news in the United States will be dominated by the Friday, March 1 deadline for the so-called “sequester” to take effect, triggering $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts in 2013. Whatever the outcome of the political theatrics in advance of the deadline, the sequester crisis marks a new stage in the ruling class assault on the social conditions of working people in America.

The budget sequestration was to take effect January 1 of this year, but was postponed until March 1 as part of the bipartisan deal to head off the so-called “fiscal cliff” combination of tax increases, cuts in jobless benefits and other measures. The crisis surrounding the March 1 deadline is entirely contrived, the result of the 2011 deal between the White House and congressional Republicans to raise the US debt ceiling.

If the White House and Congress fail to agree on a deficit-cutting plan before March 1, which appears likely, the cuts unleashed by the sequester will have a devastating impact on social programs and services at the federal, state and local levels, including education, housing, home heating assistance, health care, nutritional assistance, road repair and air transport. Cuts in both civilian and military budgets will result in hundreds of thousands of furloughs and layoffs of public-sector workers.

At the same time, the sequester threat is being used to intensify the drive for unprecedented cuts and structural changes in the basic social entitlement programs dating from the 1930s and 1960s, particularly Social Security and Medicare.

The sequester entails a five percent cut in nonmilitary discretionary spending, amounting to $28.7 billion, as well as a $9.9 billion cut to Medicare. Public housing will be cut by nearly $2 billion, special education programs will be cut by $840 million, and Head Start will be slashed by $406 million, kicking 70,000 children out of the program.

On Sunday, the White House released a set of reports detailing the impact of the cuts. By way of examples, White House officials said that 350 teachers would be laid off in Ohio, 4,180 fewer children in Georgia would get vaccinated, and Virginia would be unable to provide assistance for 400 victims of domestic violence.

The sequester also includes $42.7 billion in cuts to military spending, which neither of the two big business parties supports. The Pentagon has already made clear that its first response to these cuts, if they are triggered, will be to furlough 800,000 civilian Defense Department employees, beginning as early as April.

Despite having already agreed to $1.4 trillion in spending cuts over the past two years, the Obama administration is using the sequester as an opportunity to cynically posture as an advocate of “shared” sacrifice and a “balanced” approach to deficit-cutting. This ploy amounts to calls for token tax increases on business and the wealthy along with new cuts in social spending, while the Republicans insist that there be no additional taxes on the rich.

At the same time, Obama and the Democrats are pushing for a bipartisan agreement on a “comprehensive tax reform” that will slash corporate taxes, eliminate tax deductions on which millions of ordinary people depend, and shift the tax burden even more heavily onto the working class.

Obama’s public rhetoric is entirely at odds with the assurances the White House is giving to the ruling class that it is determined to slash entitlements. In an official statement posted Thursday presenting the details of the administration’s proposal for a deficit deal with the Republicans, White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri made clear the administration’s real intentions.

The statement declares, “The President is serious about cutting spending, reforming entitlements and the tax code to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.” It goes on to boast, “The President has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion, bringing domestic discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the Eisenhower era.”

The document includes a single-page breakdown of the cuts Obama is proposing: $400 billion in cuts in federal health care programs including Medicare and Medicaid, $200 billion in cuts in mandatory domestic spending, and $100 billion in discretionary domestic spending, including a $35 billion cut in federal retirement programs and a $50 billion cut in unemployment insurance.

At the same time, the White House is reassuring corporate America that its quasi-populist rhetoric is purely for public consumption. The New York Times on Sunday cited White House aides who reiterated Obama’s previous support for cutting Social Security benefits by recalculating inflation adjustments and slashing $400 billion more from Medicare. “This offer is out there for them [the Republicans] to accept any time they want to take it,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s senior adviser. “I’m not sure what more we could do to show we’re serious,” he added.

The article concluded by hinting that Obama might be prepared to revive his previous offer to the Republicans to increase the eligibility age for Medicare.

Both parties are well aware that all of these austerity measures are deeply unpopular. A poll conducted last week by Pew Research found that 87 percent of the population is opposed to cuts in Social Security, 82 percent are against cuts in Medicare, and 89 percent oppose cuts in education.

If the White House ends up going along with sequestration, it will be because it calculates that the enactment of the initial cuts will create more favorable conditions to blackmail and bully the American public into resigning itself to unprecedented cuts in basic entitlement programs. Part of this propaganda offensive will be fear-mongering over the impact of cuts to the military on “national security” and a supposedly heightened danger of terrorist attacks.

Entirely excluded from the official debate are the needs of the vast majority of the American people. With unemployment at mass levels, poverty, hunger and homelessness on the rise, and the closure of schools, health clinics, fire stations, libraries and other essential services continuing to spread, there is no discussion of measures to create jobs or provide social relief.

And under conditions where trillions of dollars are being funneled by the Federal Reserve into Wall Street, stock prices, corporate profits and CEO pay are soaring to new heights, and hundreds of billions are being spent on colonial-style wars and drone assassinations, the entire political and media establishment maintains the lying refrain, “There is no money.”

The Obama administration’s drive to impose unprecedented austerity measures will further fan the flames of social discontent. There will be mass struggles in opposition to these cuts. What is critical is that they be guided by a clear political perspective that begins with a rejection of the entire framework of the so-called budget debate.

The working class is not responsible for the failure of the capitalist system. It must reject any and all demands that it “sacrifice” to save the fortunes of the financial parasites who are responsible for the crisis. The basic social rights to employment, decent wages, education, housing and a secure retirement can be secured only through the independent mobilization of the working class.

The coming struggles must take the form of a conscious break with the two big-business parties, which are united in seeking to destroy the living conditions of the working class, and a rejection of the capitalist profit system which they defend.

Andre Damon

In the United States everything is polluted.

Democracy is polluted with special interests and corrupt politicians.

Accountability is polluted with executive branch exemptions from law and the Constitution  and with special legal privileges for corporations, such as the Supreme Court given right to corporations to purchase American elections.

The Constitution is polluted with corrupt legal interpretations from the Bush and Obama regimes that have turned constitutional prohibitions into executive branch rights, transforming law from a shield of the people into a weapon in the hands of government.

Waters are polluted with toxic waste spills, oil spills, chemical fertilizer run-off with resulting red tides and dead zones, acid discharges from mining with resulting destructive algae such as prymnesium parvum, from toxic chemicals used in fracking and with methane that fracking releases into wells and aquifers, resulting in warnings to homeowners near to fracking operations to open their windows when showering.

The soil’s fertility is damaged, and crops require large quantities of chemical fertilizers. The soil is polluted with an endless array of toxic substances and now with glyphosate, the main element in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide with which GMO crops are sprayed.
Glyphosate now shows up in wells, streams and in rain.

Air is polluted with a variety of substances, and there are many large cities in which there are days when the young, the elderly, and those suffering with asthma are warned to remain indoors.

All of these costs are costs imposed on society and ordinary people by corporations that banked profits by not having to take the costs into account. This is the way in which unregulated capitalism works.

Our food itself is polluted with antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, and glyphosate.

Glyphosate might be the most dangerous development to date. Some scientists believe that glyphosate has the potential to wipe out our main grain crops and now that Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, has approved genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa, maintaining sustainable animal herds for milk and meat could become impossible.

Alfalfa is the main forage crop for dairy and beef herds. Genetically modified alfalfa could be unsafe for animal feed, and animal products such as milk and meat could become unsafe for human consumption.

On January 17, 2011, Dr. Don Huber outlined the dangers of approving Roundup Ready alfalfa in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack. Huber requested that approval be delayed until independent research could evaluate the risks. Vilsack  ignored the letter and accommodated Monsanto’s desire for monopoly profits that come from the company’s drive to control the seed supply of US and world agriculture by approving Roundup Ready alfalfa.

Who is Don Huber, and why is his letter important?

Huber is professor emeritus at Purdue University. He has been a plant pathologist and soil microbiologist for a half century. He has an international reputation as a leading authority. In the US military, he evaluated natural and manmade biological threats, such as germ warfare and disease outbreaks and retired with the rank of Colonel. For the USDA he coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens Committee. In other words, he is high up in his scientific profession.

You can read online what Huber told the Secretary of Agriculture.  Briefly, the outcome of many years of Roundup Ready GMO corn and soybeans has been a decline in nutritional value, the outbreak of new plant diseases resulting in widespread crop failures, and severe reproductive problems in livestock, with some herds having a spontaneous abortion rate that is too high to maintain a profitable business.

Glyphosate is a powerful biocide. It harms beneficial soil organisms, altering the natural balance in the soil and reducing the disease resistance of crops, thus unleashing diseases that devastate corn, soybean, and wheat crops, and giving rise to a new pathogen associated with premature animal aging and infertility.  These developments, Huber told the Agriculture Secretary, “are threatening the economic viability of both crop and animal producers.”  The evidence seems to be real that genetically modified crops have lost their genetic resistance to diseases that never previously were threats.

There is evidence that the new pathogen is related to a rise in human infertility and is likely having adverse effects on human health of which we are still uninformed. Like fluoride, glyphosate might enter our diet in a variety of ways. For example, the label on a bottle of Vitamin D says, “Other ingredients: soybean oil, corn oil.”

Monsanto disputes Huber’s claims and got support for its position from the agricultural extension services of Iowa State and Ohio State universities. However, the question is whether these are independently funded services or corporate supported, and there is always the element of professional rivalry, especially for funding, which comes mainly from agribusiness.

The Purdue University extension service was more circumspect. On the one hand it admits that there is evidence that supports Huber’s claims:  “The claim that herbicides, such as glyphosate, can make plants more susceptible to disease is not entirely without merit. Research has indicated that plants sprayed with glyphosate or other herbicides are more susceptible to many biological and physiological disorders (Babiker et al., 2011; Descalzo et al., 1996; Johal and Rahe, 1984; Larson et al., 2006; Means and Kremer, 2007; Sanogo et al., 2000; Smiley et al., 1992). . . .  Although some research indicates there is an increase in disease severity on plants in the presence of glyphosate, it does NOT necessarily mean that there is an impact on yield.”

On the other hand, the Purdue extension service maintains its recommendation for “judicious glyphosate use for weed control.”  However, one of Huber’s points is that weeds are developing Roundup resistance. Use has gone beyond the “judicious” level and as glyphosate builds up in soil, its adverse effects increase.

A submission to the Environmental Protection Agency by 26 university entomologists describes the constraints that agribusiness has put on the ability of independent scientists to conduct objective research. The submission, in which the scientists are afraid to reveal their names because of the threat of funding cutoffs, is included as an item in one of the bibliographical references below. Here is the statement:

“The names of the scientists have been withheld from the public docket because virtually all of us require cooperation from industry at some level to conduct our research.  Statement: Technology/stewardship agreements required for the purchase of genetically modified seed explicitly prohibit research. These agreements inhibit public scientists from pursuing their mandated role on behalf of the public good unless the research is approved by industry. As a result of restricted access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology, its performance, its management implications, IRM, and its interactions with insect biology. Consequently, data flowing to an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel from the public sector is unduly limited.”

Monsanto is not only sufficiently powerful to prevent any research other than that which it purchases with its funding, but also Monsanto succeeded last year in blocking with money and propaganda the GMO labeling law in California.  I would tell you to be careful what you eat as it can make you ill and infertile, but you can’t even find out what you are eating.

You live in America, which has “freedom and democracy” and “accountable” government and ”accountable” corporations.  You don’t need to worry. The government and responsible corporations are taking good care of you. Especially Obama, Vilsack, and Monsanto.

Short bibliography:

http://fhr.branditimage.com/hot-topic-letter-to-us-secretary-of-agriculture/

http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2011/apr/6/don-hubers-cover-letter-euuk-commissions/

http://www.greenpasture.org/utility/showArticle/?objectID=7169

http://ourecovillage.org/2011/04/11/dr-hubers-cover-letter-to-secretary-vilsack/

http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14164-glyphosate-and-gmos-impact-on-crops-soils-animals-and-man-dr-don-huber

http://www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/may10/consequenceso_widespread_glyphosate_use.php

http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/huber-pathogen-roundup-ready-crops.aspx

http://southeastfarmpress.com/resistant-pigweed-plagues-central-georgia-cotton

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/time-for-usda-to-wake-up-to-weed-resistance-and-ban-agent-orange-corn-once-and-for-all/

http://southeastfarmpress.com/resistant-pigweed-plagues-central-georgia-cotton

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/time-for-usda-to-wake-up-to-weed-resistance-and-ban-agent-orange-corn-once-and-for-all/

Foreign policy observers have long known that Hollywood reflects and promotes U.S. policies (in turn, is determined by Israel and its supporters).   This fact was made public when Michelle Obama announced an Oscar win for “Argo” – a highly propagandist, anti-Iran  film.  Amidst the glitter and excitement, Hollywood and White House reveal their pact and send out their message in time for the upcoming talks surrounding Iran’s nuclear program due to be held tomorrow -  February 26th.    

Hollywood has a long history of promoting US policies.   In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information (CPI) enlisted the aid of America ’s film industry to make training films and features supporting the ‘cause’.  George Creel, Chairman of the CPI believed that the movies had a role in “carrying the gospel of Americanism to every corner of the globe.”

The pact grew stronger during World War II, when, as historian Thomas Doherty writes, “[T]he liaison between Hollywood and Washington was a distinctly American and democratic arrangement, a mesh of public policy and private initiative, state need and business enterprise.” Hollywood ’s contribution was to provide propaganda. After the war, Washington reciprocated by using subsidies, special provisions in the Marshall Plan, and general clout to pry open resistant European film markets[i].

Hollywood has often borrowed its story ideas from the U.S. foreign policy agenda, at times reinforcing them. One of the film industry’s blockbuster film loans in the last two decades has been modern international terrorism. Hollywood rarely touched the topic of terrorism in the late 1960s and 1970s when the phenomenon was not high on the U.S. foreign policy agenda, in news headlines or in the American public consciousness. In the 1980s, in the footsteps of the Reagan administration’s policies, the commercial film industry brought ‘terrorist’ villains to the big screen (following the US Embassy takeover in Tehran – topic of “Argo”) making terrorism a blockbuster film product in the 1990s.

Today, whether Hollywood follows US policy or whether it sets it, is up for discussion.  But it is abundantly clear that Hollywood is dominated by Israelis and their supporters who previously concealed their identity.   According to a 2012 Haaretz article

“from the 1930s until the mid-1950s, Hanukkah never appeared on screen. This was because the Jewish studio heads preferred to hide their ethnic and religious heritage in attempting to widen the appeal of their products. Jews were thus typically portrayed as participants in an American civil religion, whose members may attend the synagogue of their choice, but are not otherwise marked by great differences of appearance, speech, custom, or behaviour from the vast majority of American”.

This is no longer the case.

In sharp contrast to its past, Hollywood “celebrated” Israel ’s 60th “birthday” [occupation] with a Gala called “From Vision to Reality”.  Israeli TV blog wrote of the Gala:  ‘Don’t Worry Israel, Hollywood is behind you’.   Actor Jon Voight said: “World playing a dangerous game by going against Israel”.   Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, was a longtime weapons dealer and Israeli intelligence agent who purchased equipment for Israel’s nuclear program (the book, “Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan,” written by Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, recounts Milchan’s life story, his friendships with Israeli prime ministers, U.S. presidents and Hollywood stars).

It is important to understand Hollywood not only in the context of a multi-billion dollar industry, but the propaganda aspect of it and as one of  the most powerful and universal methods of spreading ideas through visual propaganda.  “Propaganda is defined as a certain type of messaging that serves a particular purpose of spreading or implanting a particular culture, philosophy, point of view or even a particular slogan”.   With this capability, Hollywood owns the world of ideas on a scale too large and too dangerous to ignore – see this excellent example by Gilad Atzmon – Hollywood and the Past.

Atzmon writes:

“History is commonly regarded as an attempt to produce a structured account of the past. It proclaims to tell us what really happened, but in most cases it fails to do that. Instead it is set to conceal our shame, to hide those various elements, events, incidents and occurrences in our past which we cannot cope with. History, therefore, can be regarded as a system of concealment. Accordingly, the role of the true historian is similar to that of the psychoanalyst: both aim to unveil the repressed. For the psychoanalyst, it is the unconscious mind. For the historian, it is our collective shame.”

As Hollywood and the White House eagerly embrace “Argo” and its propagandist message, they shamelessly and deliberately conceals a crucial aspect of this “historical” event.  The glitter buries the all too important fact that the Iranian students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran , proceeded to reveal Israel ’s dark secret to the world.  Documents classified as “SECRET” revealed LAKAM’s activities.  Initiated in 1960, LAKAM was an Israeli network assigned to economic espionage in the U.S. assigned to “the collection of scientific intelligence in the U.S. for Israel ’s defense industry”[ii].

As it stands, the purpose of the movie and its backers was to push the extraordinary revelations to the background while sending a visual message to the unsuspecting audience – to lay the blame of the potential (and likely) failure of the upcoming negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program on the Iranians — the gun-wielding, bearded Iranians of “Argo” who deserve America’s collective punishment and the crippling, deathly sanctions.
 

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby group.

Canada’s role in the postmodern imperial world is as a poster child for promoting formal electoral democracy — at home and abroad. Internationally, instead of offering peacekeeping troops to the UN, as in days of yore, and promoting grassroots development in the third world, it takes orders directly from its US-Euro masters, helping them invade countries if necessary to set up the mechanisms for elections, and ignoring for the most part the real problems that the poor of the world face. It uses its foreign diplomatic service not to promote peace and social justice, but to support the needs of Canadian corporations abroad and facilitate their quest for profits.

This has been the strategy in Afghanistan, Libya and now Mali, the latter in cooperation with France, with Canada providing air transport of French military equipment. It is the mirror image of its treatment of Canada’s native people, who are force-fed a similar formal role in Canada’s political system, where formal equality — as exemplified in Bill C-45 — is touted in order to mask the real problems natives face, and — as if by coincidence — at the same time pave the way to take control of the natural resources that are the natives’ heritage.

Liberating Libya

Canada actively participated in the overthrow of Gaddafi, who admittedly had treated Canadian businesses cavalierly. In 2009, he nationalized the Libyan operations of the Canadian oil company Verenex and cut Suncor’s production quota by 50%. In 2011, 12 Canadian companies had offices in Libya, and they were well served by government policy. The Royal Canadian Air Force bombed Libya and the Canadian navy helped blockade the country to overthrow the legitmate president. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Benghazi in June and Tripoli in October 2011, accompanied by a delegation of Canadian businessmen, including from Suncor, to meet with National Transitional Council members. In January 2012, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway Edward Fast also travelled to Tripoli with a large business delegation to further promote Canada-Libya trade and investment.

Officially the Canadian policy is democracy promotion, though that claim is undermined by the governing Conservatives’ actual policies. They have disbanded or drastically reduced the power of government agencies that once had the responsibility of promoting democracy at the global level, including the Office of Democratic Governance, the Democracy Unit and the Forum of Federations. Then there is the wholesale government slashing of funding of NGOs involved in democracy promotion and human rights, such as the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Kairos, Status of Women Canada and the Court Challenges Program — affecting tens of thousands of Canadians and victims of violence around the world.

If Canada is serious about helping to establish democracy in Libya, then encouraging a company like Suncor to participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) would be a good sign. But is the role of the Canadian government to make sure Canadian companies are responsible corporate citizens at home and around the world? Or is it just to promote those companies, come hell or high water? Apparently, the latter, and the modus operandi is to call up the minister of defence and have him ‘send in the troops’.

The Mali adventure

The recent French military intervention in Mali also focuses on “restoring democracy”, without any consideration for the political and economic problems that caused the Malian government’s collapse. Mali’s colonial era borders were fashioned by the French, lumping the desert north (sparsely populated by light-skinned nomadic Arab-Berber and Tuareg), and the more fecund south populated by dozens of darker, sub-Saharan tribes. The French tried to impose le francais as the lingua franca, but most Malians were not interested, and Bambara is spoken by 80% of Malians (the Bambara constitute almost 40% of the population). This is hardly surprising, as almost 70% of Malians are illiterate and 50% live in poverty.

The idea of the invasion is to ‘defeat the terrorists’ in the north and push Mali back into its pre-2011 shaky electoral democracy. There is no chance that any duly elected government will survive, given the pressing social problems and the impossible ethnic stand-off which led to the collapse of the previous government, led by retired general president Amadou Toure. He was deposed in March 2012 by another military officer Amadou Sanogo, as the Tuareg were declaring their independent state of Azawad. Under French pressure, civilian centrist Dioncounda Traoré was declared interim president in April 2012, and already plans to hold the elections so precious to the West in July 2013 — as if they will make any difference.

Mali is Africa’s third largest producer of gold, a sector dominated by foreign firms, including the Canadian IAMGOLD and Avion. It is also a major uranium and cotton producer. These industries are entirely devoted to export and based in the south. Government revenue relies mostly on their crumbs and of course international aid. Despite its relatively small population of 15.8m, Mali is the fourth largest recipient in Africa of Canada’s foreign aid, mostly to promote food security and improve health standards in the south. Aid payments (which largely went to the government) were suspended after the March 2012 coup, and the Canadian military assisted the French in the invasion of the north in January.

Ndiaga Loum, professor of law and human rights at the University of Québec, told Think Africa Press: “It’s not enough to have ministers dressed in business suits and not military uniforms to say it’s a democratic model. The error analysts make is to confuse a country in a democratic transition with a truly democratic state.” The military intervention to prop up the brittle neocolonial regime will – the imperialists hope – prop up similarly dysfunctional pseudo-democracies in Mali’s neighbors Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. Now, buttressed by AFRICOM, the US military command in Africa, which Niger has tentatively agreed to host. (Niger has given permission for US surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al-Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara.)

With no sustained literacy or industrialization campaigns in any of these countries since independence, it is hard to imagine this reversion to old-style imperialism to deal with Malian-type crises will be successful. Only disinterested regional efforts to address the region’s instability and dire poverty can possibly help. Bilateral aid address to neocolonial elites has little positive effect on the daily lives of the common people, who are divided into a complex array of tribes, with no relationship to colonial culture or borders. Mali merely is an extreme case, where the north must be addressed in the context of the Saharan Berbers, who inhabit the north Africa states as well as Mali and its Sahelian neighbors.

Old script updated 

But it is wrong to think that this neocolonial policy of continuing to prop up the old colonial system, now via local elites, is some kind of terrible mistake. It is a calculated one and very clever (if sticking a finger in the dyke can be considered a clever way to stop a flood). R2P (right to protect), the ideology behind it, justifies invading countries and killing hundreds/ thousands (who-knows?) of anti-imperialist rebels as ‘terrorists’, in the process terrorizing the locals into ‘welcoming’ the invaders as liberators (Nazi invaders were similarly welcomed in WWII). Embedded western media sweep in on the coattails of the invaders, to record the ‘liberation’. This scenario was scripted in Libya in 2011. In the case of the French invasion of Mali, ‘Socialist’ President Francois Hollande himself piggy-backed in with the invaders, like a latter-day Napoleon.

Scripting this rousing scenario is vital, as it distracts one and all from the real problem behind the collapse of governments across the neocolonial world. Where countries – for example, Tunisia — have tried to shake off this neocolonial paternalism, their governments are vilified by the West and often undermined. Poor Tunisia, where the Muslim Brotherhood formed a government after decades of western-backed suppression by a corrupt secular regime, now faces subversion, most recently the assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid. Instead of trying to help the new popular but inexperienced leaders, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls declared that Tunisia was not a model for the Arab Spring because of its “Islamic fascist dictatorship”, thereby lumping all Islamists together as potential terrorists threatening France. At least Canadian officials are slightly more discrete in their comments.

The staunchly secular Tunisian Francophone elite, who have done everything possible to undermine the popular government, is subservient to France politically and culturally to such an extent that some of its members have demanded direct French intervention to rescue the country, looking over their shoulders at Tunisia and Mali as the new model. This scenario is repeated in Egypt, where the militant secularist opposition is also frantically cooperating with the old guard, directly in league with the West’s postmodern agenda.

The fallout from this Machiavellian strategy — the destabilization of the entire Sahara region, possibly all of north Africa — apparently is worth the price. In Mali, the return home of disgruntled jobless mercenaries from Libya upset the fragile neocolonial equilibrium, requiring mopping up by the previous colonial power France. Regional Islamist movements, unimpressed by the NATO ‘shock and awe’ that toppled Gaddafi, felt they could now achieve in the Sahel what they had failed to in Algeria twenty years ago: an Islamic state, but this time based on a narrower and more intolerant interpretation of sharia law.

The invasion of northern Mali was purportedly another R2P venture, to avenge the lopping off of a few dozen sinners’ hands or heads, but this is a pretext only. Already, the French have killed hundreds of rebels (‘good’ or ‘bad’) and hundreds of innocents as ‘collateral damage’. A life is a life, and a death — a death. The imperialists are the masters at killing and terrorism. The US cynically ignores (if not actively promotes) genuine terrorism which does not ‘qualify’ by its definition. Inter alia, it just blocked a Russian-proposed UN Security Council resolution which condemned the terrorist attack in Damascus 21 February which killed 53.

While it is the ‘big guns’ of the US, France, et al that initiate these invasions and/or arm the appropriate insurgents (note, in the above instances, all the victims are Muslims), Canada dutifully follows in their wake. There is no role for the UN in this postmodern imperialism (where ‘imperialism’ is just a word, signifying nothing, as the exploitation is completely hidden behind the ‘market’ and US dollar/ military hegemony). It is not surprising that Canada under its oxymoronic neoliberal neoconservatives has decided to dispense with its neutral do-good image there (however little it actually corresponded to reality) in favor of direct support for the empire. After all, it is the empire that controls (or has pretenses to control) the world, so why bother with pretenses to the contrary?

A version of this appeared at http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/25/290714/canadas-direct-support-for-imperialism/

Eric Walberg is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (2011) http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html 

Some of this has already been raised, in my recent interview with Phil Taylor, plus in an excellent article by Ken Stone, “UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: ‘Pretext-maker’ for Western Military Aggression,” and by The Wrong Kind of Green (“Must Watch: MP Laurent Louis Exposes International Neo-Colonialists Behind ‘War On Terror’ & ‘Humanitarian Interventions’ in Belgian Parliament“), probably my favourite website right now (see additional articles of relevance from WKG at the end).

At the focus here is a basic, honest response to what is being sold to us by various vested interests as the ideal form of “humanitarian action,” and specifically Western notions of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P). The response is not collegial, civil, comforting–that’s because the speaker has not yet been pacified and tamed, not even as an elected member of a European parliament. However great is the pressure to become structurally adjusted in a normative sense, and aligned with the new white woman’s burden, this speaker (Laurent Louis) bucks that trend.

While the focus is about a particular thesis, and its antithesis, this is part of a larger argument running across my essays here, as pointed out toward the end of this recent essay. An anthropology critical of imperialism, should not just appear to be critical only once it comes knocking on the doors of anthropology departments searching for recruits. We should not become overly obsessed with the details of a single program, and the focus on militarism ought to always contextualize the phenomenon as a constituent part of imperialism. One important theme, bridging counterinsurgency, development, foreign aid, and R2P, is that of humanitarianism and its ever more frequent appearance in military garb. Simply put, what we are dealing with is the justifications for empire, that are meant to buy our peaceful compliance with resources that are redirected toward foreign escapades, and to sell others on the legitimacy of our ruling them.

To begin this “conversation,” I want to juxtapose two videos, where the second appears to reply almost directly to the first, with the intensity and honesty that is required now more than ever.

First, let’s hear from Jillian Siskind, President of Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR) on Canada’s “Responsibility to Protect”:

Now, let’s hear from Belgian MP, Laurent Louis, who belongs to no political party (website, twitter, facebook):

Thoughtful:” What amount of thought was given to the consequences of intervention in Libya? The almost unanimous opinion now is: not much. Siskind wrote her article, the last one she has written for the Mark, just a mere two days before the bloody butchery of Muammar Gaddafi, and at the same time as Hillary Clinton was in Tripoli calling for the leader of another nation’s government to be “captured or killed,” later rejoicing in his death like some wildly deranged ghoul. So much for civility, compassion, and decorum, dear “progressives.” What thought was there of how foreign military intervention would prolong the Libyan war and increase the number of Libyan deaths? What thought was there for the fact that political solutions, forcibly pushed through by external interests, would lay the foundations for continued instability that daily continues to threaten lives? And what thought is there for the lives of Canadian troops, whose existence is supposedly one of potential sacrifice of their own lives so that interests represented by people like Siskind can justify their own existence?

Respectful:” Comfortably cushioned in her upper crust residence, piano in the background, what respect did the clean white evangelist show for the lives of black Libyans and African migrant workers, even months after the first reports of their suffering mass lynching? How will she respect the fact that her implicit collusion with racists, means that she reinforces racism? And what respect is there in arguing that the defense of sovereignty, as a protection of the right to self-determination hard won by the colonized, is to be swept away because a lawyer in Toronto has moral qualms about how others, very far away, exercise power?

Also striking: the rubber band morality of the humanitarian interventionists. Compressed, when feeling up close, as if they are part of someone else’s story, needing to take action (not standing idly by), and take editorial control in re-authoring that story towards a new universal conclusion, one on which they can sign their name. Loosened, stretched off to a distance, far removed and cold as they say that the war in Libya was “not perfect,” but it can be “improved upon” and used in other situations. Blowback–that too can be improved upon, Ms. Siskind, because it is currently not perfect either. The moral dualism of humanitarian imperialism nonetheless continues to fascinate me.

Progressive:” Since when did violent regime change by NATO become a cause for “progressives”? On the other hand, we can certainly understand the choice of words, opting for “progressive,” a buzzword arising from the Social Darwinists, Positivists, and “scientific racists” of the 19th-century. The proselytizing mission of universal human rights, which does not place all its faith in the power of its message to convince (hence the resort to brute force), is little different from the civilizing missions of colonial powers of the past. If stressing the utter difference of others could sometimes be used as a justification for their enslavement or extermination, stressing equality as sameness achieves nothing better in the end. Now everyone else is subject to this blonde moral smothering and bleaching political homogenization that reveals an underlying fear and contempt of others. Now that truly is progressive.

Then there is Laurent Louis, with rare courage and honesty, who with passion essentially states some of the same arguments as David Harvey does in his New Imperialism text – with one salient difference: as much as he may have wanted to, David Harvey never told his adversaries to go f*** themselves. Thankfully, Louis remedies this (thanks to WKG for this transcript), with my own emphases added. I do not endorse this without any reservation, and I take exception with several points, but the basic thrust is one that I agree with:

Thank you, Mr. President. Dear Ministers, dear colleagues.

Belgium is indeed the land of surrealism. This morning we learned in the media that the Belgian army is incapable of fighting some extremist soldiers having radical Islamist beliefs existing within its own ranks and who cannot be dismissed by legal of legal means. However, at the same time, we decide to help France in its war against “Terror” by providing logistical support for its operation in Mali.

What wouldn’t we do in order to fight against terrorism outside our borders? I just hope we took care not to send for this anti-terrorist operation in Mali, these much talked about Belgian Islamist soldiers! I seem to be joking, but what is going on in the world today does not make me laugh at all. It doesn’t make me laugh because without any doubt, the leaders of our Western countries are taking the people for imbeciles with the help and support of the Media which are nothing more today than an organ of propaganda of the ruling powers.

Around the world, military actions and regime’s destabilization are becoming more and more frequent. Preventive war has become the rule. And today, in the name of democracy and the fight against terrorism our states grant themselves the right to violate the sovereignty of independent countries and to overthrow legitimate leaders. There has been Iraq and Afghanistan, the wars of the American lie. Caoming later, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya where thanks to your decisions, our country has been “first in line” to participate in crimes against humanity, in each case to overthrow progressive and moderate regimes and to replace them by Islamist regimes, and – isn’t it weird? – their first will was to impose Sharia law. This is exactly what is currently happening in Syria where Belgium is shamefully funding the arming of the Islamist rebels who are trying to overthrow Bashar Al Assad.

Thus in the midst of economic crisis, as more and more Belgians can no longer house themselves, feed, heat and cure themselves – Yeah, I can hear what a filthy populist I am – Well, the Minister of Foreign Affairs decided to offer the Syrian rebels 9 million euros! Of course, they’ll try to make us believe that this money will be used for humanitarian purposes … one more lie! As you can see, for months, our country is only participating to put in place, Islamic regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. So, when they come and pretend to go to war in order to fight against terrorism in Mali, well… I feel like laughing. It’s false! Under the appearance of good actions, we only intervene to defend financial interests and to complete a neo-colonialist mindset.

It’s real nonsense to go to help France in Mali in the name of the fight against Islamic terrorism when at the same time, we support in Syria the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad by Islamist rebels who want to impose Sharia law, as was done in Tunisia and in Libya. It is about time to stop lying to us and treating people like imbeciles. The time has come to tell the truth. Arming the Islamist Rebels, as Westerners have in the past armed Bin Laden, that friend of the Americans before they turned against him, well, the western countries are taking the opportunity to place military bases in the newly conquered countries while favoring domestic companies.

Everything is therefore strategic. In Iraq, our American allies have put their hands on the country’s oil wealth. In Afghanistan, it was its opium and drugs – always useful when it comes to make lots of money pretty quickly. In Libya, in Tunisia, in Egypt or then again in Syria, the aim was and still is today to overthrow moderate powers, to replace them by Islamist powers who very quickly will become troublesome and that we will shamelessly attack, pretending once again to fight terrorism or protect Israel.

Thus the next targets are already known. Within a few months I bet that our eyes will turn to Algeria and eventually to Iran. To go to war, to free people from an outside aggressor is noble. But to go to war to defend the interests of the USA … To go to war to defend the interests of big corporations such as AREVA … To go to war to put our hands on gold mines, has nothing noble at all and it reveals our countries to be attackers and thugs!

No one dares to speak, but I will not shut up! And if my battle makes me look like an enemy of this system who flaunts Human Rights in the name of financial, geo-strategic and neo-colonialist interests, so be it! Flaunting and exposing this regime is a duty and makes me proud. And honestly, I apologize for my low class speech, but f*** you, all the so-called do-gooders, both left and right wingers or from the center who are today licking the boots of our corrupted powers and who will be pleased to ridicule me. F*** you all, leaders who are playing with your bombs as kids do in a playground! F*** you! – you who pretend to be democrats while you are nothing more than low class criminals. I don’t have much respect either for the journalists who have the audacity to label the opponents as mentally retarded while basically, they know very well that these opponents are right. Finally, I despise at the highest point those who believe they are the kings of the world and who are dictating their laws because I am on the side of the truth, the side of justice, the side of innocent victims of looting at all costs.

And it is for this reason that I have decided to clearly oppose this resolution. Since the beginning of the French operation, the lie has been organized. We are told that France is only answering the call for help of a Malian president. We almost forget that this president has no legitimacy and that he was put in place to ensure the transition following the coup of March 2012.

Who supported this coup d’état? Who started it? For whom is this president of transition actually working? This is the first lie! The French president, François Hollande dares to pretend to wage this war to fight against jijadists who threaten (Ohhh do you realize!) who threaten the French and European territory! But what an ugly lie! By taking the official argument, while taking the opportunity to frighten the population, increasing the terror alert level, implementing the Vigipirate plan our leaders and media are demonstrating an un-imaginable outrage! How dare they use such a point while France and Belgium have not hesitated to arm and support Jihadists in Libya and that these same countries continue to support these Jihadists in Syria. The pretext hides strategic and economic purposes.

Our countries are no longer fearing inconsistency because everything is done to hide it. But the inconsistency is well present. It is not tomorrow that you’ll see a Malian citizen commit an act of terrorism in Europe. No, unless we’ll suddenly create one so we an justify this military operation. Haven’t we created September 11th, after all, to justify the invasions, arbitrary arrest, torture and massacre of innocent populations? Thus, to create a Malian terrorist is no big deal!

Another pretext used these recent months to justify military operations is the protection of Human Rights AHHH! … This pretext is still used today to justify the war in Mali. But yes! We have to act, otherwise the evil Islamists will impose Sharia law in Mali, stoning women and cutting the thugs’ hands off. Oh! The intention is truly noble. Noble and salutary for sure. But then why is it, Good Lord, why is that our countries have contributed in Tunisia and Libya to the accession to power of Islamists who have decided to apply this Sharia Law in these countries which were still not so long ago, modern and progressive?

I invite you to ask the young Tunisians who have launched the revolution in Tunisia, if they are happy with their current situation? This is all hypocrisy. The purpose of this war in Mali is very clear. And since nobody will talk about it, I WILL. The purpose is to fight against China and allow our American ally to maintain its presence in Africa and the Middle East. This is what guides these new-colonialist operations. And you will see, when the military operation will be over, France will, of course, keep its military bases in Mali. These bases will be a benefit to the Americans as well. Western corporates will put their hands on juicy contracts that will once again deprive re-colonized countries of their wealth and raw materials.

So let’s be clear, the primary beneficiaries of this military operation will be the owners and shareholders of the French giant AREVA who has been trying for years to obtain a uranium mine in Falea, a town of 17,000 inhabitants located at 350 km from Bamako. And I don’t know why but my little finger is telling me that it won’t take long before AREVA will eventually exploit that mine. I don’t know, it’s an impression I have. It is therefore out of the question that I would take part in this colonialist mining – the colonialism of modern times. And for those who have doubt about my arguments, I sincerely invite them to learn about the wealth of Mali. Mali is a major producer of gold, but recently it has been designated, recently, eh … – as being a country that offers a world class environment for the exploitation of uranium. How strange! One step closer to a war against Iran, it is obvious.

For all these reasons and in order to not fall into the traps of lies they are telling us, I’ve decided not to give my support to that intervention in Mali. Therefore, I will vote against it. And by doing so, I’m being consistent since I never supported in the past our criminal interventions in Libya or in Syria, and so being the only MP in this country to defend the non-interference and the fight against obscure interests. I really think it is about time to put an end to our participation in the UN or NATO and get out of the EU if Europe instead of providing peace becomes a weapon of attack and destabilization of sovereign countries, submissive to financial rather than human interests.

Finally, I can only urge our government to remind President Hollande the obligations resulting from the Geneva Conventions regarding the respect of all prisoners of war. Indeed, I was shocked to hear on television from the mouth of the French President that his intention was to “destroy” – I say “destroy” – Islamist terrorists. So, I do not want the qualification to be used to name the opponents to the Malian regime – it is always convenient today to talk about Islamic terrorists – to be used to circumvent the obligations of any democratic state in terms of respecting the rights of prisoners of war. We expect such respect from the Fatherland of Human Rights.

In conclusion, let me emphasize how lightly we decide to go to war. First, the government acts without any consent from the Parliament. It appears as though it has the right to do so. It sends equipment, men to Mali. The Parliament subsequently reacts and when it responds, as today, well, this institution [today] happens to be composed of only 1/3 of its members. Much less if we speak of the French speaking MPs. It is therefore a guilty lightness which does not really surprise me, coming from a Parliament of Puppies, submitted to the dictates of political parties. Thank you.

Maximilian C. Forte is a professor of anthropology in Montreal, Canada. He teaches courses in the field of political anthropology dealing with “the new imperialism,” Indigenous resistance movements and philosophies, theories and histories of colonialism, and critiques of the mass media. Max is a founding member of Anthropologists for Justice and Peace. He is the author of “Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa” (Baraka Books, 2012).

SLOUCHING TOWARDS SIRTE:
NATO’S WAR ON LIBYA AND AFRICA

by Maximilian Forte

AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

NATO’s war in Libya was proclaimed as a humanitarian intervention—bombing in the name of “saving lives.” Attempts at diplomacy were stifled. Peace talks were subverted. Libya was barred from representing itself at the UN, where shadowy NGOs and “human rights” groups held full sway in propagating exaggerations, outright falsehoods, and racial fear mongering that served to sanction atrocities and ethnic cleansing in the name of democracy. The rush to war was far speedier than Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Max Forte has scrutinized the documentary history from before, during, and after the war. He argues that the war on Libya was not about human rights, nor entirely about oil, but about a larger process of militarizing U.S. relations with Africa. The development of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, or AFRICOM, was in fierce competition with Pan-Africanist initiatives such as those spearheaded by Muammar Gaddafi.

Far from the success NATO boasts about or the “high watermark” proclaimed by proponents of the “Responsibility to Protect,” this war has left the once prosperous, independent and defiant Libya in ruin, dependency and prolonged civil strife.

Tradepaper | 352 pp | 27 BW photos, 3 maps | ISBN 978-1-926824-52-9 | Baraka Books (2012)

NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

$24.95 (+ S&H)

Exclusive: The Oscar for Best Picture went to Ben Affleck’s Argo, an escape-thriller set in post-revolutionary Iran. It hyped the drama and edged into propaganda. But Americans would have learned a lot more if Affleck had chosen the CIA coup in 1953 or the Republican chicanery in 1980.

In some ways it was encouraging that several Best Picture nominees had historical themes, whether they tried to stick fairly close to facts as in Lincoln on passage of the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery or they just used history as a vivid backdrop for an imaginative story about slavery as in Django Unchained.

It’s less encouraging that the Motion Picture Academy selected as Best Picture Argo, which – while based on real events – underscored Hollywood’s timidity about taking on more significant and more controversial events on either side of Ben Affleck’s film about the CIA-engineered escape of six staffers from the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979.

Actor/director Ben Affleck speaking at a rally for Feed America in 2009.

On one end of that storyline was the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, a tale involving legendary and colorful American spies led by Kermit Roosevelt. On the other side of the Argoevents was the mystery of Republican interference in President Jimmy Carter’s desperate efforts to free 52 embassy employees who were captured in 1979 and held for 444 days.

True, both bookend stories remain more shrouded in uncertainty than the much smaller Argo tale, but enough is known about them to justify a dramatic treatment. Participants in the 1953 coup and in the 1979-81 hostage crisis have described the events in sufficient detail to support a compelling movie script. Indeed, Miles Copeland, a CIA officer who worked on the 1953 coup even reemerged for a cameo appearance in Republican activities around Carter’s frustrated hostage negotiations in 1980. [See Robert Parry’sAmerica’s Stolen Narrative.]

I realize that Hollywood is not primarily interested in increasing understanding among adversarial nations. But either a movie about the 1953 coup or one going behind-the-scenes of the 1979-81 hostage crisis could help inform the American people about the complex relationship that has existed between the United States and Iran. It’s not just good guy vs. bad guy.

Of course, that might be the key reason why Hollywood found the little-known Argo story compelling and the other bigger stories to be non-starters. Argo did largely draw its narrative in black and white, with strong propaganda overtones, feeding into the current hostility between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program.

Despite a brief documentary-style opening referencing the 1953 coup and the dictatorial rule of the Shah of Iran until 1979,Argo quickly descended into a formulaic tale of sympathetic CIA officers trying to outwit nasty Iranian revolutionaries, complete with a totally made-up thriller escape at the end.

Misreporting Afghanistan

In that sense, Argo recalls Charlie Wilson’s War, which presented a dangerously misleading account of the Soviets’ war in Afghanistan. Though “just a movie,” Charlie Wilson’s War’s storyline has become something of a baseline for America’s understanding of the historic challenges in Afghanistan.

Charlie Wilson’s War portrayed the CIA-backed Afghan jihadists (or mujahedeen) as noble freedom-fighters and the Soviet pilots and soldiers – trying to protect a communist government in Kabul – as unmitigated war criminals and monsters. The nuances were all lost.

For instance, the communist regime – for all its faults – brought some measure of modernity to Afghanistan. Women’s rights were respected. Girls were allowed to attend school, and strict rules demanding segregation by sex were relaxed. Indeed, in the real history, the CIA-backed jihadists were motivated in large part by their fury over these reforms in women’s rights.

In other words, the CIA-backed jihadists were not the noble “freedom-fighters” as they were portrayed in the movie. They were fighting for the cruel subjugation of Afghan women. And the jihadists were notoriously brutal, torturing and executing captured Soviet and Afghan government soldiers.

However, that cruelty was not depicted in Charlie Wilson’s War, nor was it presented as the chief policy failure of U.S. war effort. According to the movie, the big U.S. mistake was a supposed failure to see the Afghan project through to the end, the alleged abandonment of Afghanistan as soon as the Soviet troops left in early 1989.

In the movie, Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Texas, who is credited with organizing U.S. support for the Afghan “freedom-fighters,” is shown begging unsuccessfully for more money after the Soviets depart.

The real history is dramatically different. In late 1988 and early 1989, deputy CIA director Robert Gates and other key officials for the incoming administration of President George H.W. Bush rebuffed peace initiatives from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev who wanted a unity government that would bring the civil war to an end and prevent a wholesale return of Afghanistan to the Dark Ages.

Instead, the Bush-41 administration sought a triumphal victory for the jihadists and the CIA. So, contrary to the movie’s depiction of a cut-off of funds once the Soviets departed, the United States actually continued covert war funding for several more years in hopes of taking Kabul.

That rejection of Gorbachev’s initiative opened Afghanistan to the complete chaos that followed and finally the rise of the Pakistani-backed Taliban in the mid-1990s. The Taliban then hosted fellow Islamist extremist Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorists.

Though Charlie Wilson’s War starring Tom Hanks was “just a movie,” it cemented in the American mind a false narrative which has been repeatedly cited by policymakers, including Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, as justification for continuing a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Similarly, Argo confirms to many average Americans the unreasonableness of Iranians, who are portrayed as both evil and inept. If negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program collapse, this propaganda image of the Iranians could help tilt the balance of U.S. public opinion toward war.

By contrast, movies on the CIA’s 1953 coup or the Republican interference in Carter’s hostage negotiations in 1980 would demonstrate that there are two or more sides to every story. Granted, such movies would encounter powerful forces of resistance. The moviemakers might be accused of “blaming America first” and the Academy might shy away from handing out Oscars in the face of controversy.

But either of the bookend stories around Argo would get to more important truths than did this year’s Best Picture. The two stories would show how America has manipulated politics abroad and how that practice has come home to roost.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

Hundreds of thousands take to the streets to denounce austerity and defend democracy as corruption scandals shake Spanish royal house and government.

Europe’s 2013 protest season finally kicked off this week. On Saturday, three days after the umpteenth general strike paralyzed Greece, a “citizens’ wave” of indignation washed over Spain with hundreds of thousands of protesters swarming onto the streets of Madrid and over 80 cities in yet another major popular outcry against the ongoing financial coup d’étât. In Madrid, clashes broke out and at least 40 were arrested after police sought to disperse protesters who had once more encircled Parliament.

Saturday’s demonstration in Spain was deliberately timed to coincide with the 32nd anniversary of El Tejerazo, an attempted coup d’étât by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, who in 1981 led a military contingent of 200 armed officers as they stormed into Congress while it was in the process of electing a new Prime Minister. Although King Juan Carlos publicly condemned the coup, Der Spiegel last year revealed secret documents showing that the King privately sympathized with the coup.

For millions of Spaniards, the embarrassing issue of the country’s anachronistic aristocracy is enough of a headache already. As Spain’s crisis burst out into the open, King Juan Carlos infamously went elephant-hunting in Botswana, amply displaying the insensitivity and aloofness of the head of state (who also serves as honorary president of the country’s WWF branch). Meanwhile, the King’s daughter and son-in-law are facing major corruption charges for multi-million euro fraud and money-laundering.

Still, past military coups and absurd royal scandals are some of Spain’s least concerns at the moment. As the economy plunges ever deeper into the abyss, spectacularly missing EU-imposed debt goals by posting a dramatic 10.2 percent budget deficit last year, millions are now at risk of poverty. According to Oxfam, some 18 million Spaniards (almost 40 percent of the population) could face life of destitution by 2022. Decades of development risk coming undone. In the EU, only Bulgaria and Romania have a higher percentage of their population living in such dire circumstances.

With unemployment hitting a shocking 26 percent, with over 400.000 families evicted from their homes since the start of the crisis (amounting to a mind-numbing 500 families per day), and with another 53,272 families projected to lose their homes this year alone, an acute humanitarian crisis is presenting itself. Meanwhile, with the excuse of “balancing the budget”, salaries are being slashed, employees laid off, hospitals privatized, pensions cut, tuition fees hiked, taxes raised, and social spending decimated.

Last year, a quarter of the government budget went to servicing the public debt, while 100 billion euros were wasted to bail out Bankia, itself a conglomerate of bankrupt savings houses. Despite the lavish provision of public funds and the extravagant bonuses of Bankia’s executives (one of whom was given 6.2 million euros to go into “early retirement”), the bank will next week reveal total losses amounting to more than 19 billion euros, constituting the largest corporate losses in Spanish history.

All the while, the elephant in the room is a sickening corruption scandal that continues to plague Rajoy’s conservative government. Last month, Spain’s biggest newspaper El País published secret documents revealing years of endemic corruption at the highest levels of the governing party. Luis Barcenas, the treasurer of the Partido Popular, kept a double account from which secret contributions by Spanish businessmen were redistributed to leading party members. Among the benefactors of the scandal are former Bankia executive and IMF official Rodrigo Rato, as well as Prime Minister Rajoy, who for 10 years netted over 250.000 euros in illegal side-payments.

To make matters worse, much of this money appears to have originated from the construction sector, which experienced a huge boom during the build-up of the Spanish real estate bubble, suggesting that leading politicians greedily took bribes to allow private investors to bypass construction regulations and build on protected lands. In the process, thousands of building projects scarred the Spanish landscape, leaving behind hundreds of uninhabited ghost towns and destroying much of the country’s once pristine beach lines. When the bubble finally burst, millions of workers in the construction sector lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands lost their homes — while politicians, bankers and businessmen made windfall profits.

The PP corruption scandal confirmed a long-held suspicion among the Spanish population that democratically-elected representatives were largely complicit in causing (and profiting from) the country’s severe financial crisis. Already back in 2011, millions of indignados took to the streets to denounce the country’s representative institutions as a sham of democracy, counter-posing the corporate and corrupt practices of their politicians with a genuine form of grassroots democracy practiced through popular assemblies and solidarity networks.

This Saturday, the Marea Ciudadana — a loose and decentralized coalition of over 200 action groups and movement associations, and itself a product of nearly two years of popular resistance — brought hundreds of thousands of people back to the streets to send yet another message to the government: enough with austerity and debt repayment; enough with political and economic corruption, with banker impunity, royal dishonesty and police brutality; enough with the rule of financial markets and EU/IMF-imposed reforms; enough with this inhumane neoliberal solution to the crisis of capital.

As the PP corruption scandal sent Rajoy reeling and clinging on to power, the government’s last remaining fragments of legitimacy are rapidly evaporating. Polls show that 96 percent of Spaniards believe their politicians are thoroughly corrupt, and the persistent mobilization of hundreds of thousands of outraged citizens shows that millions are acutely aware that there is a direct line connecting these corrupt politicians to national businessmen, European institutions, and international finance capital.

And so, exactly 32 years since the Tejerazo, the people of Spain are making it known that they will not abide by yet another attempted coup d’étât. The elephant in the room has been exposed and the emperor is revealed to stand without clothes. The 2013 hunting season has begun. This time around, the hunter will be hunted and the King will be prey — along with the entire blue-blooded financial aristocracy: from Rato to Rajoy and from Bankia to the Troika. ¡Que se vayan todos! It’s time for them to go.

US Deploys Troops, Drones to Niger

February 25th, 2013 by Barry Grey

President Barack Obama on Friday officially notified the US Congress that he had deployed “approximately” 100 US troops to the western African nation of Niger.

In a perfunctory, six-sentence letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senator Patrick Leahy, president pro-tem of the Senate, Obama said the final 40 troops had arrived on Wednesday to “provide support for intelligence collection” and “facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region.”

The only other justification for dispatching the military force, beyond the vague talk of intelligence gathering, was “furtherance of US national security interests.” In the letter, Obama said he was notifying Congress pursuant to his powers as commander in chief and chief executive, and in accordance with the requirements of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, a law intended to bar the president from committing military forces without the consent of Congress.

The War Powers Resolution states that the president can send troops into action abroad only with the authorization of Congress or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” It requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing forces and forbids them from remaining for more than 60 days without congressional sanction.

The reality behind Obama’s cynical and deceitful letter is the initiation of an open-ended and far-reaching US military intervention in northern Africa. The action announced Friday by Obama marks a major escalation of the drive by the United States and the other imperialist powers to recolonize the continent and gain direct control of its rich storehouse of strategic natural resources.

The use of drones underscores the criminal character of the operation in Niger. They will be used to terrorize the African population and summarily murder all those identified by the Pentagon and the CIA as opponents of Washington’s drive to conquer and subjugate the continent.

This predatory drive is concealed behind the all-purpose pretext, as part of the “war on terror,” of combating Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias operating in Mali and other parts of the Sahara region.

The past two years have already seen the US-led war for regime-change in Libya, the US- and NATO-backed sectarian civil war in Syria, and last month’s US-backed French invasion of Niger’s neighbor to the west, Mali. The establishment of a US military base of operations in Niger now lays bare the real significance of the 2011 war against Libya, carried out under the pretense of protecting civilians and defending human rights, and the calculated decision to murder Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. All of the operations that have followed the Libyan atrocity were already in the works, as are the even more bloody predations to come.

The real aim behind the introduction of US troops into Niger is to assert American domination of northwest Africa, check French imperialist ambitions in the region, and counter the growing influence of China.

Obama’s claim in his letter to Congress that the Niger government had consented to the US deployment means little, since all of the bourgeois regimes in the region function as stooges of US imperialism and the former colonial powers of Europe.

While Obama did not refer to drones in his letter, unnamed Pentagon officials told media outlets on Friday that drone aircraft had already been sent to the impoverished country, with the “first wave” including two Raptor surveillance drones. They said 250 to 300 military personnel, including remote pilots and security and maintenance crews, would eventually be deployed.

ABC News cited US officials as saying Washington had already begun flying Predator drones over Mali as part of US military support for the French invasion, which also includes airlifting French and allied African troops and refueling French military aircraft that have bombed cities and towns controlled by Islamist insurgents and Tuareg separatists.

In addition, as part of the Mali operation, US Special Forces have been sent to Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Ghana.

The current deployment in Niger will reportedly be based in Niamey, the capital, but may be moved to the northern town of Agadez.

While Obama sought in his letter to Congress to give the impression that the deployment will be limited in time and scope and will involve only surveillance drones, what has been set in motion is an expanding operation that will inevitably involve the use of armed drones to extend the administration’s assassination program from Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia into northern Africa.

ABC News reported that US Africa Command had “developed a plan a few weeks ago that proposed setting up a base in Niger to enable long-term surveillance operations in western Africa.” It cited a government official as saying it was “possible that the new operations could morph into the separate concept proposed by African Command.”

The Washington Post quoted a US defense official, who said, “I think it’s safe to say the number [of US troops] will probably grow.” It cited other officials who said the administration “had not ruled out arming the Predators with missiles in the future.”

For weeks, the US press has carried reports of plans by the Obama administration to extend its drone assassination program into northern Africa. At the end of January it was reported that the US had secured an agreement with the government of Niger to establish a US military base in the country. The Guardian reported Friday that there are “no constraints to military-to-military cooperation” within that agreement.

Earlier in January, following a hostage siege carried out by Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb at a gas facility in Algeria, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta implicitly threatened to use drone strikes against alleged terrorists in northern Africa. “We have a responsibility to go after Al Qaeda wherever they are,” Panetta stated, adding that the US was “going after” it in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia—all the scenes of continuous drone missile strikes—and would act to deny Al Qaeda a “a base for operations in North Africa and Mali.”

The Wall Street Journal wrote of an “open-ended” campaign against militants in north and west Africa, and a US State Department official warned that the offensive in Mali “could take years” and was only “the first phase.”

The Journal published a front-page article two weeks ago headlined “Push to Extend US ‘Kill List.’” The article reported discussions within the Obama administration over extending its drone assassination program to Algeria and other countries in the Sahara and northwest Africa.

The US military intervention in Niger contains the seeds of a far wider conflict. The nomadic Tuareg population, which has been waging intermittent struggles against the central government in Mali for decades, exists as well to the east in Niger. The introduction of US troops and drones has the potential of spreading the Tuareg revolt and sparking an ethnic-based transnational civil war.

And as diplomatic cables from US diplomats in Niamey disclosed by WikiLeaks have made clear, China’s economic activities in the region have been a focus of US concern. One such cable warned, “China is building a major portfolio in Niger’s resource sectors and will probably replace France as Niger’s top foreign investor…”

The US move into Niger will further inflame relations between the US and the world’s second largest economic power, already frayed as a result of US provocations carried out as part of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”

Turkish Police Disperse Pro-Syria Demonstration

February 25th, 2013 by Global Research News

Clashes have broken out between Turkish police and supporters of the Syrian government in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, Press TV reports.

Police on Saturday used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators who were calling for an end to Ankara’s interference in the internal affairs of Syria.

The demonstrators also protested against the presence of US forces in Turkey.

Over the past few months, Turkey has also been witnessing demonstrations against the deployment of NATO’s Patriot missiles and the presence of foreign troops in the country.

Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States have each deployed two missile batteries along Turkey’s border with Syria.

The missile systems became operational about a month ago. Ankara says the deployment is necessary to counter ‘threats’ from Syria. However, Damascus has called the move ‘provocative.’

On February 15, the Syrian government sent a letter to the United Nations, censuring Turkey’s ‘destructive’ role in the turmoil that Syria has been experiencing for nearly two years.

This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning during a media event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California.

The award ceremony itself will take place February 24 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

In 2012 the American film industry presented an extraordinary contradiction, between those showing an interest in social life and history, on the one hand, and those eagerly endorsing the “dark side” of imperialist policy, on the other. In their own inimitably muddle-headed fashion, the Oscar nominations reflect this divide.

With twelve, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln received the largest number of nominations, including those for best picture, actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), supporting actor (Tommy Lee Jones), supporting actress (Sally Field), director (Spielberg), adapted screenplay (Tony Kushner), cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), costume design (Joanna Johnston), editing (Michael Kahn) and original score (John Williams).

This film about a social revolution, one of the most immense struggles for social progress of the 19th century, shared in the awards nomination bounty with Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s quasi-fascistic glorification of the role played by the CIA in the so-called “war on terror,” which was tapped for five awards; Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s foul and racialist fantasy about the antebellum period, also nominated in five categories; and Argo, another tribute to the CIA, directed by Ben Affleck, this one concerning the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80, which was named for seven possible awards.

Opposed groupings and factions within the film industry may back the different works, but it doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to suppose that a fairly representative figure in contemporary Hollywood might well favor both Lincoln and, say, Bigelow’s deplorable film. The degree of bewilderment, willful or otherwise, about both artistic and political matters is that great.

The nominations overall demonstrated an effort to cover every possible base.

Life of Pi, a murky, semi-religious ode to the little things in life, which also preaches ethnic and religious tolerance, won eleven nominations, second most to Lincoln. One of David O. Russell’s weaker films, Silver Linings Playbook, about a semi-dysfunctional working class couple in Philadelphia, one of this year’s official “tributes to the human spirit,” was nominated in eight categories. An obligatory big-budget action picture, Skyfall the latest James Bond, was nominated for five awards. A sentimental (and musical) depiction of poverty and oppression in 19th century France, Les Miserables, carried off eight nominations.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Also receiving recognition, somewhat surprisingly, were the independent Beasts of the Southern Wild, a poetical consideration of post-Katrina Louisiana (four nominations), and Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke’s Amour, about an elderly couple confronting disease and the approach of death (five nominations). The interesting Searching for Sugar Man was nominated in the best documentary feature category.

Searching for Sugar Man

The Academy Awards process is always a peculiar one. The combination of confusion, liberal good intentions, semi-philistinism, self-congratulation and political blindness is a particular expression, refracted through the peculiarities of the entertainment business, of the thinking and feeling of sections of the better-paid professional middle classes in America. This is not the best crowd, and it is not the worst.

To the extent that such people, including of course Spielberg himself, remain in thrall to the Democratic Party and Barack Obama, they are both politically and artistically limited. The subordination to the Democrats speaks to and ensures their distance from the concerns and needs of the overwhelming majority of the working population. Insulated from the economic hardships facing tens of millions and all too ignorant of history and the social process, prominent figures in the film world tend to accept the view self-servingly advanced by the media that the mass of the American people is backward and conservative. To a shameful extent they cower before the right-wing media, terrified of being attacked as “un-American” and unpatriotic.

This is bound up with the ongoing consequences of the anti-communist purges of the 1950s, which still haunt Hollywood. The most “radical” and “controversial” work today remains firmly within the framework of an acceptance of the present social and economic order.

Events will help clarify the best elements in filmmaking. One can even imagine a day when considerable numbers in Hollywood may be able to distinguish between a work that celebrates the cause of human liberation and one that identifies with its bitterest and most murderous enemies.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ANNEX

The Complete List of Nominations

Here is the complete nominations lists:

Best Motion Picture

Argo
Amour

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty 

Achievement in Directing

Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin, Argo
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, The Master
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Sally Field, Lincoln

Best Animated Feature Film

Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Original Screenplay

Amour, Michael Haneke
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Flight
, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Adapted Screenplay

Argo, Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild
, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

Best Foreign-Language Film

A Royal Affair (Denmark)
Amour
 (Austria)
No (Chile)
War Witch (Canada)
Kontiki (Norway)

Original Score

Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman

Original Song

“Before My Time,” J. Ralph; Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” Walter Murphy and Seth McFarlane; Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby,” Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri; Life of Pi
“Skyfall,” Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth; Skyfall
“Suddenly,” Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boulil; Les Misérables 

Achievement in Production Direction

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln

Achievement in Cinematography

Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins

Achievement in Costume Design

Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood

Best Documentary Feature

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for a Sugar Man

Best Documentary Short Subject

Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

Achievement in Film Editing

Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Achievement in Makeup & Hairstyling

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

Best Animated Short Film

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
Paperman

Best Live-Action Short Film

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow
Henry

Achievement in Sound Editing

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Argo
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Achievement in Visual Effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

 

Tony Rooke has persuaded the courts that the BBC must answer the allegation that, in covering up information on the 9/11 attacks, they are colluding with terrorism. Many truth activists are planning to attend the three hour hearing in front of a judge at Horsham magistrates court this Monday 25 February at 9.00am.

There are only 30 seats available in the court room and they will be on a first come first serve basis. Some activists will be flying long distance. The hearing will be at The Law Courts, Hurst Road, Horsham West Sussex England RH12 2ET. At least one mainstream media crew will be present but Tony is asking activists not to talk to them and not to hold up placards which do not represent his views.

Please go to bottom to see his message in full. The message to the mainstream media is that Tony will be making a statement after the hearing and they should wait for that. Campaigners are concerned that the media will seek out and interview whoever they can find pedalling a radical 9/11 theory and use them to attempt to discredit months of hard work. This has been a common tactic, for instance from the BBC in their Conspiracy Files programmes. To prevent this happening, organisers intend to physically obstruct interviews with mainstream media outside the court if necessary. Activists attending the hearing are asked to make sure any signs represent the message of this campaign: that the BBC has covered up the truth on 9/11.

Those with signs saying anything that would appear speculative to a general audience (eg 9/11 was an inside job) will be seen as undermining the court case and Tony’s campaign. On the factual side Tony is most concerned to highlight the symmetrical collapse of WTC Building 7, a large portion of which fell at free fall speed and which was announced by the BBC some half hour before it happened. He says the Jimmy Saville scandal shows that the BBC were unable to investigate a child molester in their midst, so it is hardly surprising that they do not have the courage to impartially investigate the crime of the century. ‘Despite recent offers from mainstream sources, Tony Rooke and his defence team feel that this has come all too late and is not consistent with far too many years of indifference towards the scientific facts that incontrovertibly disprove the official account of 9/11.

Illegal wars have come and continue to be fought under the pretext of that day. Civil liberties have been erased along with the countless lives of troops, civilians and children abroad. These overtures of ‘friendly’ interest are not to be trusted. This court case has happened only BECAUSE of mainstream media’s indifference, antipathy and often ridicule towards those who have researched and found the truth of 9/11, in tandem with a conspicuous silence in the face of such overwhelming evidence that disproves the official version. The mainstream press are to be treated with the contempt they deserve. This case is being fought by those whose ONLY interest is in seeing the science of the 9/11 event analysed by a court, a scrutiny of FACTS that SHOULD have been undertaken by the commercial press and the BBC a long time ago.

Any individual who engages in conversation with a demonstrably deceptive mainstream media at Horsham, does NOT speak for myself or the defence team and we disassociate ourselves from those who cannot resist such insincere overtures. Win, lose or draw, we hope that this court case prompts all those who mistrust our media, to engage in similar, peaceful action, until such numbers become impossible to ignore.

The time for ‘research’ is long over. The obvious suspects, complicit in the orchestration and cover-up of 9/11, now need to be questioned by uncorrupted police officers. This will NOT be achieved sat in front of your PC. Ignore ITN, ignore ANY mainstream journalist. They have earned your suspicion.’ Thank you to all who have supported this stand for progress.

Tony Rooke

www.reinvestigate911.org
[email protected]

http://www.youtube.com/user/reinvestigate911org

We will support any new investigation of the 9/11 attacks so long as *it is run by uncompromised people with a range of opinion including those inclined to disbelieve the official 9/11 story, *it follows the evidence wherever it leads if it takes place in the US to be credible it will need *full legal authority to demand immediate access to any evidence and any witness it chooses *the resources it requires to carry out its investigation Reinvestigate 911 is supported by Coffee Plant ( www.coffee.uk.com) suppliers of organic and Fairtrade coffees to caterers and retail customers.