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Wounded Afghani from Bala BalukThe Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has published an article on NATO, US, and the Red Cross and the Bala Baluk massacre on May 4, 2009. The article features a cable that shows the Red Cross put together a report that raised significant doubt about military reports on the number of civilians killed. The cable reveals how a PR campaign kicked into gear to sell the idea that the deaths were not intentional and to skew coverage of the event to fit the interests of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan.

The June 13, 2009 cable describes a remarkable meeting that took place at the US Embassy in Kabul. Leader of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, Reto Stocker, has compiled a report with exact figures on the deaths of civilians in an attack that just took place in the village of Bala Baluk Grenari region. US and NATO forces, which contend they were attacking Taliban, dropped bombs leaving a mosque in ruins. They turned the village into “an inferno of screaming, mangled and bloody people.”

In the aftermath, the Taliban and Afghan officials claimed “over 140 civilians had been killed.” Karl W. Eikenbarry, US ambassador in Kabul, said at a news conference, “We will never know the exact number” of those killed. Red Cross commander Reto Stocker said, “‘Dozens’ of people were killed.”A commission investigated the incident and concluded, “26 civilians and 78 Taliban fighters were killed.”

The claims by the US and other military forces were blatant lies, according to the cable. On top of that, the Red Cross did not challenge the lies.  . . .

In the cable, Stocker visits Ambassador Eikenberry and delivers a copy of a report on the Bala Baluk massacre on June 13. He describes the process for putting the report together:

ICRC representatives visited Bala Baluk 3 times after May 4 to gather information, interview local residents, and get the lay of the land. They interviewed more than 50 villagers in Ganjabad and Gerani over a period of 13 days. They avoided compiling lists of victims, but did provide a complete list of interviewees in their report. They also did not use graves as evidence since many of the villagers described finding only body parts that were not suitable for normal burial.

Upon presenting the report, he concedes power in the meeting, clarifying to the ambassador that he does not believe the Red Cross is “an investigative body” and that the report “was prepared to assist the authorities in their own investigations. Having minimized the Red Cross’ potential to be a watchdog organization, Stocker then says he is confident in the report’s findings that 89 civilians were killed and another 13 injured:

In a detailed discussion with the Ambassador on the sequence of events, Stocker agreed with U.S. military officials that the first group of individuals hit with the first bomb from the B-1 near the mosque were insurgents. He found no villagers who alleged that civilians were killed in that strike. However, he did not agree that subsequent lines of people observed moving rapidly between structures were insurgents. He showed photos of narrow paths where the movements took place, saying they tied in with the aerial video, and described multiple accounts by witnesses of families fleeing the battle with parents carrying children in their arms. Stocker said that 47 and 42 residents were killed in the second and third strikes, respectively. In support of this claim, he made the case that it would have been illogical for insurgents not killed in the first bombing to continue to gather in groups that could be targeted from above, whereas it would have been logical for civilians to have sought shelter away from the fighting.

Ambassador Eikenberry thanks Stocker for the review and says he will continue to follow the official investigation (which will later conclude the number of deaths is much lower than the figure in the Red Cross report). Eikenberry notes the “low-key and subdued discussion of the events of May 4 by the villagers who were most affected by it,” and suggests the “low-key reaction may indicate that casualties were lower than reported by other sources.” (Of course, that could also be a result of villagers being afraid of soldiers from forces that just bombed their village.)

The diplomat that wrote the cable writes in the comment section, “Reto Stocker is one of the most credible sources for unbiased and objective information in Afghanistan, and has 4 years of experience as head of the ICRC mission here. The ICRC survey of local villagers is certainly exhaustive, and the report finds significant consistency in the testimonies provided. At the same time, Stocker twice mentioned that they had placed a great deal of confidence in the statements of one particular source, later noting that the Red Crescent had an office near where the evening’s fighting took place. The list of interviewees mentions no one associated with the Red Crescent.”

The last couple sentences seem like a feeble attempt to cast a bit of suspicion on the process for putting together the report. Clearly, the diplomat believes Stocker was likely telling the truth, otherwise, why end with the comment that was written? Why not call into question specific details?

Sadly, Stocker abrogated his duty and chose to not release the truth to the public. When Aftenposten asked the Red Cross about why the Red Cross hadn’t gone ahead and released the report, a spokesman for the International Red Cross in Geneva told the newspaper, “This was a confidential report in which we took up our humanitarian concerns directly with the authorities or the parties to the conflict.”

The newspaper correctly asks in its article on the WikiLeaks cable, “Is it not in the Red Cross’ interest that the truth of such an event becomes publicly known?” Apparently, the spokesman tells the newspaper, “This is standard procedure to ensure maximum protection in the short and long term, both for civilian and other parties affected by the hostilities.”

Aftenposten also reports “former UN Special Representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said that he refrained from publishing a highly critical statement about the Bala Baluk after a meeting with the American general who investigated the massacre.”

- In our investigations we came to 64 killed, but when we included only women and children. We did not expect some men, since it could be a possibility that some of them were Taliban members. I met with General Raymond A. Thomas, who led the American investigators. He showed several hours of video footage from the fighting and the attack, and his conclusion was that nothing wrong had happened. I did not send out the statement in the belief that the general spoke true.”

Eide acknowledges that what he believed turned out not to be true and that he no longer has the confidence in the military forces that he had when he was a UN Special Representative. But, why didn’t he note how commanders time and time again since at least July 2007 were making pledges to change rules of engagement, to take more care and be cautious, but yet the murder of Afghan civilians continued to occur?

That was the note that Brave New Films made when it called into question the US and NATO’s handling of public relations in the aftermath of the Balu Baluk massacre. They noted how the statements of regret from officials would seem to be sincere but given the chronic failure to adjust rules of engagement it was clearly no longer genuine to say things like, “This is something I worry about a lot. If we lose the Afghan people, we have lost the war.”

The massacre was just another incident that called into questions the actions of US and NATO forces. The Nawabad massacre on August 21, 2008, which concluded with the deaths of ninety civilians, including sixty children and fifteen women, had been just as atrocious. Yet another atrocity was the Kunduz massacre on September 4 2009 when two tank cars that rebels took were bombed by US fighter jets called in by German ISAF troops resulted in seventy to ninety, mostly civilians, being killed.

Hours after Aftenposten published this article, there are no articles on the web reporting this revelation.

Photo by RAWA.org

High casualty numbers in Syria are reported daily by the media, even though a blackout makes them unverifiable. Things became murkier after a human rights site, which enjoyed frequent citations, split in two and began giving conflicting reports.

The British-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) is one of the most widely-quoted sources of Syrian casualty figures. However the group is currently experiencing an ownership row, which has left media outlets wondering how reliable this source is.

Currently there are two sites, each claiming to be the official Observatory. The original one is in Arabic with an English version on Facebook. The splinter site was launched in December, with most posts in English. Both call each other impostors.

They give different casualty reports – and a very different perspective of the crisis. The original site’s latest figures show just over 5,100 civilian deaths against almost 2,000 military casualties. The rival site claims well over 6,500 civilians have been killed and barely 600 troops.

The numbers are not the only thing the two SOHR groups differ on though. Politics seems to be at the core of the split.

The man behind the new site is Mousab Azzawi. He launched a smear campaign against the original Observatory co-founder Rami Abdulrahman. Azzawi revealed Abdulrahman’s real name and said his rival was linked to the Assad family, is unprofessional and barely related to the Observatory. He also accused the rival of hijacking the original site by changing all logins and passwords.

The original Observatory says Mousab Azzawi used to translate for them, but then was fired after he falsely claimed to be an official spokesman for the group and called for foreign intervention into Syria.

RT’s Ivor Bennet spoke to Hivin Kako, who is spokesperson of the original SOHR. “Azzawi group tried to pass some political view like calling for a no-fly zone and international intervention. We made it clear that we are against an intervention; we are against a no-fly zone. All we need is to stop the bloodshed that is going on in Syria,” she said.

Azzawi refused to speak on camera, stating, “I cannot waste my time talking about this at the moment whilst people are dying in Homs. They are my priority right now.”

He did refer RT to another opposition group based in London, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution. They too refused to comment on the ownership row over the Observatory. But the allies of Azzawi’s site did confirm that reporting the deaths of the Syrian government loyalists was not in their interest.

Freelance journalist Diana Nemeh described the conflicting information coming out of the city of Homsto RT. Following activists’ claims of heavy shelling from the government forces, officials made a statement refuting these allegations to her.

“…they have not used any heavy bombs on the city; in fact they said some RBG’s were launched from the neighborhood of Bagal Amar to a surrounding area in the city of Homs,” she said.

Miss Nemeh also spoke to a member of the National Coordination Council, who “stated that they are going to put forward a plan of negotiations asking the regime to cease fire on their side, maybe to allow some time for the regime to pull out the bodies from the city and regions affected.”

Bitter divorce over politics

Abdulrahman says the whole conflict stems from an internal dispute in the Syrian opposition, reports the Al-Akhbar news website. He and his group have been attacked by those in the anti-Assad activists, who want NATO to invade the country, similar to what happened in Libya. They also want the SOHR not to report the deaths of government loyalists to make the case for an intervention.

But Abdulrahman’s site is not free from criticism either. It says it relies on a network of informants to provide casualty reports, but since the country is closed to foreign media, those are impossible to verify independently.

In August 2011 it circulated a report that newborn babies in a Hama hospital had been deliberately killed after their incubators were switched off by regime forces during a military crackdown on the city. The report was branded a hoax by critics, who were quick to point out its striking resemblance of a similar story told about Saddam Hussein’s invasion in Kuwait. As it later turned out, the tale originated as false testimony by the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, which was used by politicians to justify military action against Iraq.

Critics say both brands of the SOHR are ultimately propaganda vehicles of the opposition.

“Frankly I don’t think the people even using these figures have any objectivity. They have an agenda, a clear agenda. It’s to justify, by any means possible, that Assad’s regime is a brutal massacring regime and it needs to fall as soon as possible. And we can see at the UN when that human rights strategy for regime change doesn’t work how annoyed Western governments have got,” freelance journalist Sukant Chandan told RT.

The UN used the Observatory numbers in their count of the victims of the Syrian riots. However it said recently it stopped counting claiming it is too difficult to verify. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said 5,000 civilian deaths should be enough to provoke international action. However there is no quick an assured way to make peace in the country, where too many interests clash and too many grudges are held by the combating parties.

 

Small business owners and working people constitute the core of the American electorate. They share the same origins and have far more in common than the major political parties would have them believe. Their shared political, social and family needs are being ignored by both parties, as they are cynically played one against the other.

A Common Background.

Organizations of craftsmen have an ancient origin and evolved into hundreds of specialized guilds in the Middle Ages. These guilds combined labor and small business. Members worked for themselves and trained their own apprentice helpers.

Along with independent farmers and local merchants, skilled craftsmen were the primary employers until the industrial revolution. Industrialization created the need for masses of unskilled workers and the conditions which ultimately compelled their organization.

Success of the earliest industrial strikes depended on local small business owners, who provided the necessary credit and support that allowed workers and their families to survive.

American small businesses and laborers have organized for self protection from the very beginning of the country. The bakery owners of New York City stopped baking in 1741 to protest price fixing by municipal authorities and printers struck in Philadelphia in 1786 for higher wages.

The Progressive Movement in the early 1900s was supported by labor, small businesses, the professional middle class and women activists. They sought to reform every aspect of the political system allowing voters to more directly control their government and to improve the quality of life for their families.

The Division of Labor

A strong labor movement expanded during World War II and the postwar era to reach its peak in 1972, with the organization of almost one third of all public and private workers. These union members were the ground troops of the Democratic Party.

With the comfort and security of higher earnings and benefits, skilled workers moved up to the middle class and many of them and their children started small businesses. At the same time, President Reagan’s war on organized labor began to cut the ties that workers had to their unions.

These factors, combined with Republican cooption of “family values” and religious matters as political issues, has resulted in only about 11% of workers, primarily in the public sector, now represented by unions. Almost 50% of all workers are voting for Republican candidates, often against their own interests.

Small Businesses and Their Workers.

Half of all working people in the United States either operate a small business or work in one. Small businesses represent 99.7% of all U.S. private employers and have, since 1989, created 93.5% of all net new jobs in the country. (National Small Business Association)

Almost three quarters of all U.S. business firms have no payroll. In other words, most are operated by self-employed persons, who may or may not have other sources of income. Of the almost six million firms with employees, 78% employ fewer than 10. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Given these realities, there is very little effective contact between small business owners and labor unions; however, there is a very high degree of shared interests between most small business owners and workers in America.

Suffering.

Small business owners and workers share the anxiety of economic uncertainty, including the difficulty or impossibility of obtaining health insurance, saving for retirement and providing education, food and shelter for their families.

Small business employers and their employees travel to work over the same unrepaired roads, and they send their children to the same rundown schools that suffer from a lack of teachers, funding and direction. Their homes have negative value, they live in the same environment, drink the same polluted water and breath the same poisonous air. Their food supply is dangerous, and they all pay more than $4 a gallon for gasoline.

Failure of Representation.

Whether they vote democratic or republican, the interests, aspirations and needs of workers and small business owners are ignored by their political parties, both of which are indebted to and controlled by large corporations and the wealthy elite.

With its decision in Citizens United, the Supreme Court reversed two hundred years of progress toward a democracy for all of the People. The U.S. Government no longer represents the voters who elect it, including the workers and small business owners of every political party.

Two thirds of small business owners revealed in a recent poll that they have been hurt by Citizens United, and 88% viewed money as playing a negative role in politics. (Lake Research)

The rallying cry last heard during the American Revolution, “no taxation without representation,” is once again on the lips of American workers and small business owners.

Solution.

The bipartisan outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United has led to a number of proposals to reverse it through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The best known of these is the effort by Move to Amend, which restricts constitutional rights to natural persons only and which disallows the equation of money and free speech.

The Move to Amend proposal is a good start; however it does not go far enough. In fact, after a long and difficult amendment process, it only returns the electoral process to where it was the day before the court decision, a time when things were not so great for working people and small business owners.

The Voters’ Rights Amendment (USVRA) includes the Move to Amend proposal, but goes further to clearly establish that the right to cast an effective vote is an inherent right under the Constitution. In addition, it provides for a national paid voting holiday, a national hand-countable paper ballot, and a process for the people to have a more direct role in the formulation of public policy. Finally, it mandates voter registration and prohibits voter suppression.

Transformation.

The USVRA will transform the U.S. government into a more representative democracy in which the power of money and corporations will be curtailed – one in which the opportunity for small business owners and their workers to live the American Dream will be encouraged, rather than denied.

William John Cox
is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His efforts to promote a peaceful political evolution can be found at VotersEvolt.com and USVRA.us. His writings are collected at WilliamJohnCox.com and he can be contacted at [email protected].

David Zarembka, Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of Friends Peace Teams, has posted an extensive commentary on the real situation on the ground in the region. In his very well informed opinion, the military intervention the Kony 2012 campaign demands would do much more harm than good to those it supposedly seeks to rescue.

Excerpts from his Report

“While the LRA is without doubt a terrorist group, the Ugandan Government and Army have committed atrocities that, in relation to Kony’s rag-tag army, exceed anything that the LRA itself has done. [...] For example, the Ugandan army have forced 1.8 million people in northern Uganda into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps where they had to live off the charity of foreign NGOs. Not only do many people die when they are uprooted from their homes, but IDP camps are never healthy places to live and particularly grow up.

The military solution has been tried almost continually since 1986 when Kony began the LRA. It has not only failed time after time, since he still has not been captured or killed, but with the result of increased suffering among the ordinary people.”

“The [Kony 2912] video focuses solely on Joseph Kony himself. While Kony has been a “bandit” in northern Uganda, and then later in South Sudan, northeastern Congo, and the Central Africa Republic, he is only one of many such outlaws that attack, steal, rape, and destroy average people’s homes and towns in order to survive. Thousands of such men exist in this vast, heavily forested, thinly populated region. The LRA is reported to have only about 200 adult fighters plus 1000 to 2000 child soldiers. It seems that LRA itself has actually split into a number of armed groups. So killing or capturing Kony will have little effect on the lives of people in this region since he is but one of many.

“A group from Northern Uganda showed the video to people in Lira, one of the towns greatly affected by the LRA. [...] However, at the Lira screening, the film produced such outrage, anger and hurt that AYINET has decided that in order not to further harm victims or provoke violent response that it is better to halt any further screenings for now. If the subjects of the video have this extreme negative reaction to the video, then I would conclude that there is something seriously flawed with it.

“The video concludes by recommending the violent solution; sending in the military to capture or kill Kony.

There is little understanding of the implication of this recommendation. The military solution has been tried almost continually since 1986 when Kony began the LRA. It has not only failed time after time, since he still has not been captured or killed, but with the result of increased suffering among the ordinary people.

“The organization, Invisible Children, also seems suspect. From 2003 to 2005 the Save Darfur Coalition did a similar, but much more thorough campaign about the situation in Darfur. They collected lots of money but all of it went back into promoting the campaign and none of it reached Darfur. Invisible Children has had allegations of improper use of the funds that they raised in the past. [...] It seems that this is another incident where the suffering and problems of Africa are being used for the benefit of an American NGO and its leaders.

Full report in PDF format:
http://aglifpt.org/kenyareports/report176.pdf

David Zarembka, Coordinator, African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams Webpage: www.aglifpt.org  Email: [email protected]  

This year’s Chinese military budget, approved by the National People’s Congress, is 670 billion yuan ($US106.4 billion), an 11.2 percent increase from 2011 and a doubling from 2006.

As a result, China is only the second country, after the US, to have a defence budget of over $100 billion, well ahead of third-placed France, which spent $61.2 billion in 2011. According to IHS Jane’s, in four years China’s military spending could exceed the rest of Asia combined, “leaving Japan and India far behind”.

The Western media, especially in the US, seized on the figure as further evidence of the military threat posed by China. The New York Times, for instance, wrote: “The new [Chinese] hardware is being displayed at a time when there is a growing gap between China’s rising military expenditures and slowing spending by other countries in the region, many of them American allies. That gap has reinforced the realisation that the United States may not remain the singularly dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region if Chinese military spending keeps escalating.”

Beijing is expanding its military to defend the economic and strategic interests of Chinese capitalism. But the main driving force for this arms race is the aggressive stance taken by the US, particularly under the Obama administration, toward China. Washington’s strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the Asia region, and its military build-up in South East Asia, threaten to encircle China.

US military spending is projected to be $707.5 billion in 2012 (base budget plus war costs such as in Afghanistan)—nearly seven times that of China. The US defence budget is greater than for the next 10 largest military powers combined. Huge US military spending ensures its vast superiority to China in almost every military field, ranging from its possession of the world’s largest strategic nuclear forces, to its 750 military bases around the world.

US militarism is the chief destabilising factor in world politics today. Facing economic decline, US imperialism has increasingly used its military might to undercut its rivals in Europe and Asia, waging predatory wars such as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The NATO war on Libya directly led to the loss of billions of dollars in Chinese investment. Military threats by the US and its allies against Syria and Iran further undermine Chinese interests.

Under Obama, the US is focussing on undercutting Chinese influence throughout the Asian region. Speaking in Canberra in November, the US president pledged there would be no cut in defence spending in the Asia Pacific. The Pentagon’s new strategic guidelines, “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” published in January emphasised “a rebalance” toward Asia and singled out China for special mention over its alleged lack of military transparency.

The Pentagon last year established an office for a new strategic doctrine of Air/Sea Battle which is directed against China. No official papers have been published, but it is openly discussed in American strategic think tanks. While nominally a defensive strategy to respond to a Chinese strike on US bases in the West Pacific, it has an overtly aggressive content. A so-called US counter attack would involve a full-scale war on China, firstly “blinding” Chinese surveillance, command and control systems, while destroying Chinese cruise and ballistic missiles forces, as well as its surface and submarine fleets.

The offensive character of Air/Sea Battle is demonstrated by its targeting of China’s “access-denial” capabilities, such as its DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles. While much hyped in American strategic literature, these missiles were developed as a defensive measure to prevent American warships having unfettered access to sensitive strategic waters near the Chinese coast. The US is developing a new X-47B stealth drone bomber to pre-emptively attack these missiles.

Another purpose of Air/Sea Battle is to cut China’s vital shipping routes to the Middle East and Asia, by blocking the “choke points” such as the Malacca Strait. As a result, the Chinese economy would be starved of imported energy and raw materials. Such a conflict would rapidly involve US allies such as Japan and Australia and potentially escalate into a nuclear war.

Washington’s push to develop a joint anti-ballistic missile defence system with Japan in recent years has prompted China to deploy less detectable mobile land- and submarine-launched nuclear missiles. The concern in Beijing was that a missile defence shield would allow the US to launch a first strike against China’s relatively small nuclear force then neutralise any remaining Chinese missiles. China has also responded by developing anti-satellite missiles to reduce US monitoring capabilities in the event of a war. The anti-satellite missiles in turn have become a main target of the American Air/Sea Battle doctrine.

So far, China has increased its military spending within the context of avoiding any confrontation with the US. Its official policy remains that of the “peaceful rise”—a course set in the 1980s, when China was incorporated into the world capitalist economy as a cheap labour platform.

Measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), Chinese military spending declined from 1.4 percent in 2006 to 1.3 percent last year. By comparison, the US figure increased from 3.1 percent in 2001 to 4.7 percent in 2011. Chinese spending per GDP is also low compared to other major military powers—4.3 percent in Russia, 2.5 percent in France and 2.7 percent in UK.

A large component of China’s increased military spending is devoted to building hi-tech weapons to match those of the US. For its precision-guided munitions, China aims to establish its own equivalent of the American GPS system, covering the Asia Pacific region by the end of the year. As a result, it made more satellite launches than the US during the past two years. China’s stealth fighter J-20 fleet is likely to cost $110 million apiece, compared to $131 million for one US F-35. Beijing is also investing heavily in a costly blue-water navy, including aircraft carriers.

Far from ensuring peace in Asia, the Obama administration’s belligerence toward China is strengthening the hand of more hardline sections of the Beijing regime that have long argued that the current military spending is “too low” and called for stronger action to defend China’s interests. The result is rising tensions in a region of the world that is notorious for the numerous potential flashpoints that could trigger a war.

Within 48 hours of the Pentagon’s confirming the identity of the US soldier arrested for the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, there are mounting questions about the official explanation of the bloody events of March 11.

Nearly every fact asserted by US officials in Kabul and Washington has been challenged, either by the villagers where the massacre took place, by the Karzai government in Afghanistan, or by those acquainted with the arrested soldier, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38.

The most important questions are those raised by the villagers who survived the rampage. They have been repeatedly quoted, both in Afghan government accounts and in reports published in the international press, as describing several uniformed American soldiers participating in the bloodbath, not the lone gunman described by the Pentagon.

In a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai Friday, relatives of the victims reiterated their claims of multiple gunmen. Karzai told reporters, “They believe it’s not possible for one person to do that,” referring to the multiple killings in two adjacent villages in Kandahar province. “In four rooms, people were killed, women and children were killed, and they were all brought together in one room and then put on fire. That, one man cannot do.”

US embassy and military officials have refused to respond to these charges, and Afghan officials said the Americans were not cooperating with the Afghan investigation into the atrocity. Sergeant Bales was shipped out of the country before Afghan officials could interrogate him, and the Pentagon indicated that his trial would be conducted on US soil—making it unlikely that the Afghan witnesses can participate except by video testimony.

The New York Times admitted that despite the US claims that a lone attacker was responsible for the massacre, “most Afghans see it as similar to the night raids [by US special forces], including Mr. Karzai, who on Friday portrayed it as the latest in a long string of episodes in which coalition forces have killed Afghans.”

Karzai described the American forces as “demons” and the burning of Korans earlier this month as “Satanic acts that will never be forgiven.” He said the massacre in Kandahar province “was not the first incident, indeed it was the 100th, the 200th and 500th incident.”

He told a press conference, “This has been going on for too long. It is by all means the end of the rope here.”

Doubtless Karzai’s reference to the “end of the rope” was an expression of his own nervousness over the likely fate of his beleaguered and unpopular regime, entirely dependent on the American forces whose atrocities he is obliged to criticize.

In a further indication of the Afghan population’s hatred of the US-NATO occupation, the US military revealed that a 22-year-old Marine killed in Helmand province last month was shot in the back of the head by an Afghan soldier. This is the seventh acknowledged death of an American soldier at the hands of an Afghan “comrade” in the past six weeks.

The information on the alleged attacker released by US officials has been at least as dubious as their accounts of what took place March 11. For six days, the Pentagon sought to keep the name of the US soldier secret, an extraordinary and unprecedented act of political censorship that drew no criticism in the US media. Fox News finally made Bales’s name public on Friday, and the rest of the media then followed suit.

Initial accounts attributed to military sources claimed that Bales had been having marital problems, that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury during a previous tour of duty in Iraq, and that he had lost part of his foot there in the blast from an improvised explosive device. He was also described as under additional stress because his home had just been foreclosed on.

Many of these details proved to be false. Both Bales’s lawyer and local media in Seattle-Tacoma describe his marriage as apparently happy. There had been no “Dear John” letter from his wife Karilyn, as was initially suggested. The foreclosure was on a home that Bales and his wife were renting out, not the one in which she lived, although that home was put on the market for sale the week before the massacre.

Bales bought this home in 2005 for $279,000 and it was going on the market as a “short sale” that would have left he and his wife $50,000 in debt—a situation that is all too common for working class and middle-class homeowners in the United States.

The government account of the massacre was summed up by an unnamed official who told the New York Times, “When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues — he just snapped.” As Bales’s attorney John Henry Browne responded, “The government is going to want to blame this on an individual rather than blame it on the war.”

The Obama administration and the Pentagon want to dismiss the massacre in Kandahar province as an aberration, the action of a “rogue” soldier, someone who inexplicably carried out actions at odds with the US mission in Afghanistan. The truth is that the March 11 massacre is a concentrated expression of the role of the US military in Afghanistan, and in every impoverished country bombed, invaded or occupied by American imperialism.

Bales, if he committed the actions which he is accused of perpetrating on March 11, is a war criminal who deserves trial and punishment. But the more important war criminals are those in the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA and throughout the US political establishment who are responsible for more than ten years of war in Afghanistan, and who are plotting new wars in Syria, Iran and elsewhere.

The violent turmoil in Syria and Bahrain over the past year, taken together, provides a sharp comparative case study of the deception and hypocrisy of Western governments and the mainstream media. 

It also points up the nefarious role of the pro-Western Arab states, in particular the Persian Gulf monarchies headed by Saudi Arabia.

Last week marked an exact anniversary for Syria and Bahrain. On the 15 March 2011, Syria saw the beginning of an armed insurgency described as “anti-government protests” in the Southern city of Daraa, on the border with Jordan. While the state forces of President Bashar Al Assad responded ruthlessly, from the outset it was clear that the anti-government “protesters” were heavily armed and well organised.

The events in Syria mirrored those in Libya, where opposition groups were also heavily armed and ready to use violence from the outset. In both Syria and Libya, the apparent protests were distinctly different from those seen in most other Arab countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain, where there was a groundswell of popular opposition to the incumbent Western-backed regimes and where dissent was largely peaceful.

This key difference can be explained because Western powers and their proxies, such as Israel, Turkey and the Gulf Arab states, were instrumental in arming and directing the supposed anti-government opposition in both Syria and Libya.

Special forces from NATO powers Britain and France were, tellingly, active on the ground from the get-go, lending their expertise in techniques of sabotage and terrorism.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were also instrumental in driving events in Syria and Libya, providing financial support, weapons, covert fighters and strident diplomatic backing for the self-styled “transitional councils”. In the instance of Libya, NATO’s involvement was scaled up to a full-blown aerial bombing campaign to assist the so-called rebels on the ground. Such overt NATO aggression has not yet transpired in the case of Syria, but it is a contingency that Western governments are only shying away from for now out of political calculation.

To get back to Syria’s comparative twin in this case study, Bahrain, the Persian Gulf kingdom also saw an upsurge in violence on the 15 March 2011 – but for markedly different reasons.  In the month prior to that date, Bahrain had witnessed a truly mass uprising against the Al Khalifa monarchy.

Peaceful demonstrations in the capital, Manama, drew crowds of up to 300,000 – nearly half the indigenous population of the tiny oil-rich kingdom. The protest movement against the US-backed autocratic Sunni rulers had set up a permanent peace camp near the financial district of the capital. After four weeks of peaceful rallies calling for the downfall of the monarchy, the Bahraini uprising was ruthlessly attacked by the combined state forces of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other members of the so-called Gulf Peninsula Shield Force which had crossed the King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The military invasion to crush a civilian pro-democracy movement – one that was merely calling for an elected government to replace the decades-long dictatorship of the Al Khalifa dynasty – was given the green light by both Washington and London. [1]

Of the many tragic ironies in this case study, perhaps the one that takes the dubious laurels for notoriety is the role of Saudi Arabia. Here we have the most repressive regime in the world: a ruthless, absolute monarchy ruled by the decrepit Al Saud family that has brutally crushed peaceful pro-democracy protests over the past year in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and elsewhere in its oil-rich Eastern Province. Across the 25-kilometre causeway in Bahrain, Saudi-backed troops have subjected the unarmed civilian population to unrelenting violence over 12 months. Every night, Bahraini villages are smothered in teargas fired by Saudi troops and Bahraini mercenary police recruited with foreign Sunni expatriates. [2] [3] Proportionate to its population, the toll of Bahraini civilians killed at the hands of pro-regime forces runs into thousands – comparable to that of Syria. However, in Syria, the death toll includes some 50 per cent of victims from state military who have been combating an armed opposition that is equipped and fomented by Saudi Arabia, among several other foreign powers, including NATO.

Nevertheless, the unelected and widely reviled regime in Bahrain continues to enjoy unblemished membership of the Arab League. By contrast, Syria’s Bashar Al Assad government – which appears to have popular support – has had its membership of the Arab League suspended – a sanction that was vehemently drummed up by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf dictatorships that invaded Bahrain to extirpate a popular, peaceful pro-democracy movement.  Nauseatingly, the royal despots of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar have made bombastic calls for the secular government of Syria to step down and give way to political reforms – in the face of violence that has been fuelled in part by these despots.

The temptation to award Saudi Arabia the dubious laurels for hypocrisy and deception must be resisted, however. Reprehensible and disgusting though it is, the Al Saud regime still does not come close to Washington, London and their Western allies, including the mainstream media, for their utter cynicism.

Bashar Al Assad is roundly denounced by Obama, Clinton, Cameron and Hague; while Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa is given the red-carpet treatment in Washington and London, and roundly praised as “an important ally”.

Co-conspirators with Saudi Arabia, the Western powers and their propaganda machine have unleashed a violent conflict in Syria and branded it a “popular uprising” – part of a heroic, Western-romanticized Arab Spring. [4] In reality, the events in Syria are a squalid fabrication, not unlike those in Libya, designed to serve the cynical geopolitical interests of the Western imperial powers in the world’s oil-well region. The disposal of Al Assad’s Syria, a non-vassal state, is a key prize for the Western imperialists and their Arab stooges. Clarion calls to Syria for democracy and human rights are sickeningly hollow and baseless and designed to create a pretext for illicit regime change.

How do we know? Because Bahrain is the Litmus test for credibility. In the kingdom of Bahrain where a true pro-democracy Arab Spring is actually struggling to bear fruit, the Western powers, their media and their tyrannical Arab proxies have done everything to kill it, bury it and to forget it.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

 

[email protected]

 

NOTES:

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24181

[2] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24252

[3] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25909

[4] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29765

La conferenza degli “Amici della Siria” o il fallimento della Santa Alleanza arabo-atlantica

Fida Dakroub (*)

Molto tenacemente, una sessantina di paesi occidentali, più altri arabi, si sono riuniti a Tunisi – diventata La Mecca dei rivoluzionari primaverili – per una conferenza internazionale sulla Siria; con l’obiettivo di esprimere, al popolo siriano preso al collo dal “Vampiro di Damasco”, la loro calorosa amicizia e i loro più cordiali sentimenti.

Cenni generali

Tra questi audaci conferenzieri, abbiamo intravisto i fantasmi dei grandi oratori della prima Rivoluzione francese, incarnati nei più celebri difensori dell’umanità e dei diritti delle persone, come il ministro saudita degli affari esteri, Faysal – una figura notevole nel campo della lotta per i diritti della donna, amico di Vergniaud (girondino della Rivoluzione francese, ndt) – ; il ministro tunisino degli affari esteri, Abdul Salam – uno dei più noti rivoluzionari primaverili, amico di Danton -; il primo ministro del Qatar, Hamad – un despota immancabilmente “illuminato”, patron del feuilletton “La primavera nei paesi arabi”, “uno dei più importanti signori della Vestfalia, perché il suo castello aveva una porta e delle finestre” (1); la segretaria di Stato dell’Impero USA, Clinton, oratrice conosciuta per la sua difesa dei diritti dell’uomo arabi, soprattutto in Bahrein, Yemen, in Libia e Palestina, amica di Robespierre -; senza dimenticare certamente il presidente del “Consiglio nazionale siriano”, signor Burhan Ghalioun – un giacobino stagista, postmoderno e burlesco nello stesso tempo, che precipitò nel teatro della Santa Rivoluzione siriana (2), urlando “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, amico di Desmoulins.

Apice della campagna politica contro la Siria

Un’altra cosa che oramai conoscono tutti è che, dopo diversi fallimenti, coloro che si sono impegnati nella congiura contro la Siria, in testa gli emiri e i sultani della penisola arabica, sprovvisti di ogni qualità che possa loro consentire di elevarsi al rango di Arcangeli guardiani dei diritti dell’uomo, cercano di raggrupparsi sulla scena internazionale, la voce e il pugno levato, per proferire nuove minacce al presidente siriano, Bashar al-Assad, e per promettergli una nuova serie di sanzioni e di pressioni perché ceda loro la Siria.

Tuttavia, prima di lasciarsi prendere dal “ballo coi lupi” (3) e gli insulti del Capitano Haddock (4), vediamo quale è stato il percorso che aveva preso la campagna arabo-atlantica al livello politico, diplomatico e militare dopo il 4 ottobre 2011, data del primo progetto di risoluzione del Consiglio di Sicurezza sulla Siria.

Premettiamo che la campagna politica contro la Siria ha raggiunto il suo apice il secondo giorno del mese di ottobre, data di nascita del miserabile “Consiglio nazionale siriano” e dell’elezione del suo presidente, signor Burhan Ghalioun. Noi ci ricordiamo molto bene di questo giorno augusto in cui il signor Ghalioun si è precipitato sulla scena degli avvenimenti storici vestendosi da Camille Desmoulins (5), levando con la mano destra il manifesto primaverile del CNS che non era, in effetti, che un amalgama di idee che mettono insieme le dichiarazioni dei filosofi dei Lumi con quelle dei “Fratelli mussulmani”. Tuttavia, all’indomani di questo giorno grandioso, la massa degli oppositori – riunita sotto le bandiere del CNS – si svegliò troppo tardi per poter realizzare tutte le cose urlate il giorno prima, finendo col restare priva di ogni orizzonte politico. Priva di qualsiasi programma, che non siano le ingiurie e le grida di guerra, la massa degli oppositori si è ritrovata al punto di partenza, incapace di fare un solo passo avanti, che le consentisse di spingersi oltre con pressioni politiche contro la Siria. Per contro, per non lasciare questa massa sperduta nel suo labirinto, due giorni dopo, il 4 ottobre, la Santa Alleanza arabo-atlantica è corsa in soccorso del CNS e ha presentato un progetto di risoluzione al Consiglio di Sicurezza, che incriminava il presidente siriano, aprendo la porta ad un intervento militare in Siria. Fortunatamente questo progetto è stato fermato dal doppio veto cinese e russo, che è piombato come una burrasca sulla testa della Santa Alleanza. Per il ministro francese degli affari esteri, Alain Juppé, il fatto che il Consiglio non sia riuscito ad adottare una risoluzione che condannasse Damasco è stato un “triste giorno per il popolo siriano” e per il “Consiglio di sicurezza” (6). Senza alcuna modestia, sia Parigi che Washington promettono di continuare a “sostenere” le “aspirazioni di libertà e di democrazia del popolo siriano” (7). Il signor Juppé ha assicurato che “la lotta dei democratici siriani per la libertà è una giusta lotta” e che la Francia continuerà a sostenerla fermamente “con tutti i paesi che lo desiderino”. (8) Qualche giorno prima, la Francia aveva salutato la formazione del “Consiglio nazionale siriano” e invitato il presidente Bachar al-Assad a lasciare il potere.

“In prigione, fino al giorno in cui la legge e il calendario ordinario delle sessioni di giustizia ti chiameranno a rispondere!” Urlò Brabanzio a Otello (9).

Declino della congiura arabo-atlantica contro la Siria

Dopo questo primo fallimento della diplomazia arabo-atlantica, la Lega araba, il cui ruolo e peso sono stati ridotti ad un semplice consiglio Loya Jirga (assemblea del popolo afghano, ndt) che riunisce gli emiri e i sultani del “Consiglio di cooperazione del Golfo (CCG), è riuscita il 19 dicembre a spingere il regime siriano a sottoscrivere un nuovo protocollo di cessate il fuoco, a ritirare l’esercito dalle città ed a favorire l’ingresso di osservatori arabi nelle zone degli scontri (10).

Questa vittoria “blitzkrieg” (guerra lampo, ndt) della Lega araba era in realtà solo un’impressione imprecisa dello svolgimento della campagna contro la Siria; perché il trasferimento del dossier siriano alla Lega era in effetti il risultato del fallimento diplomatico nell’ambito del Consiglio di sicurezza. Non è più un segreto che il dossier siriano è stato trasferito da una organizzazione internazionale – il Consiglio di sicurezza -  ad una organizzazione regionale spaccata dai conflitti tra gli emiri e i sultani – la Lega araba.

Peraltro, la campagna militare vedeva un’accelerazione e cominciava a tracciare una traiettoria ascendente, parallela a quella discendente che aveva seguito la campagna diplomatica contro la Siria dopo il primo fallimento. Il 23 dicembre 2011, delle istallazioni dei servizi di sicurezza siriani a Damasco furono oggetto di due attacchi terroristici. 44 persone furono uccise e 166 altre ferite. “La mano di AlQaida era dietro” questi attentati, secondo un comunicato del ministero dell’interno (11).

Due settimane più tardi, il 6 gennaio, Damasco fu di nuovo il bersaglio di un attentato suicida che ha provocato 26 morti e 63 feriti.

La capitale degli Omayyadi non ha fatto attendere la propria risposta all’ingerenza degli emiri e dei sultani della penisola arabica. Così, nel corso di un discorso pronunciato il 10 gennaio nell’anfiteatro dell’università di Damasco, il presidente siriano ha annunciato l’avvio di una contro-offensiva: “Noi abbiamo dato prova di pazienza e resistenza in una lotta senza precedenti nella storia moderna della Siria e questo ci ha reso più solidi, e nonostante che questa lotta comporti grandi rischi e sfide fatidiche, la vittoria è vicinissima se solo ci manteniamo capaci di resistere, sfruttando i nostri punti di forza che sono numerosi e riconoscendo i punti deboli dei nostri avversari, che sono ancora più numerosi, ha dichiarato (12).

Affianco a questi attacchi terroristici contro i civili e gli edifici governativi, il gruppi wahabiti armati e le milizie del sedicente “Esercito siriano libero”, appoggiate da migliaia di mercenari arabi e atlantici (13) sono riusciti ad assumere il controllo della città di Homs ed a trasformarla in un bastione dei ribelli wahabiti. Inoltre anche la città di Idlib al Nord e il Rif di Damasco sono cadute nelle mani dei gruppi armati.

Per soprammercato, l’aggravamento della situazione militare sul campo è stato accompagnato da un nuovo tentativo da parte della Santa Alleanza arabo-atlantica di far passare, il 4 gennaio, un nuovo progetto di risoluzione al Consiglio di Sicurezza. Il progetto è stato di nuovo bloccato da un doppio veto cino-russo. Dopo questo nuovo fallimento, una pioggia di rabbia colpì le capitali occidentali, e anche la penisola arabica che pure ha un clima desertico. Dovunque ai quattro angoli del mondo, ascoltiamo i dirigenti e i responsabili della Santa Alleanza proferire minacce e ingiurie. Mai nella storia della diplomazia lo scambio di dichiarazioni sulla scena internazionale ha raggiunto un livello così avanzato di prosaicità e volgarità. L’ambasciatrice USA al Consiglio di Sicurezza, Susan Rice, si è sentita “disgustata” dalla posizione russa e cinese (14); da parte sua il ministro francese della difesa, Gerard Longuet, ha descritto la Russia e la Cina come paesi che meritano di essere presi a “calci nel culo” (15). Più in là verso Oriente, gli emiri e i sultani arabi, oltre ai califfi ottomani, si sono risvegliati bruscamente da un lungo sonno “centenario”, per accorgersi della necessità di riformare il diritto di veto nel Consiglio di Sicurezza. Tragicamente, 200 veti USA contro progetti di risoluzione diretti a proteggere il popolo palestinese dall’atrocità della soldatesca israeliana non sono stati sufficienti per i coccodrilli turchi e arabi a versare le loro lacrime sul Prometeo palestinese incatenato (16).

Menzogne, volgarità, prosaicità, ingiurie, minacce, lacrime di coccodrillo, queste sono state le risposte arabe al secondo veto cinese e russo. Comunque la Siria ha vinto di nuovo la battaglia del Consiglio di Sicurezza.

“Vecchiaia ingrata, siamo vissuti tanto, miserabili vecchi, solo per apprendere questa inattesa catastrofe!” (17)

Precipitazione all’Assemblea generale

Dodici giorni dopo il veto russo-cinese, il 16 febbraio, il gruppo arabo nell’Assemblea generale dell’ONU ha proposto una risoluzione di condanna della Siria. L’Assemblea Generale la ha approvata a stragrande maggioranza, nonostante l’opposizione di Mosca e Pechino. Dovunque sulla scena internazionale, i “rivoluzionari primaverili” e i loro padrini arabo-atlantici hanno applaudito la “decisiva vittoria” contro il “Vampiro di Damasco”. Senza nemmeno riprendere fiato, la macchina mediatica della Santa Alleanza ha cominciato a parlare della inevitabile caduta del presidente siriano e a prevedere la nuova era del dopo-Assad. La risoluzione esigeva dal governo siriano che “ponesse fine agli attacchi contro la popolazione civile” (18) e sostenesse l’impegno della Lega araba “per assicurare una transizione democratica” (19).

Tuttavia anche questa “vittoria” si è dimostrata illusoria, avendo essa un valore esclusivamente simbolico. Il gruppo arabo ne era consapevole, specialmente alla luce del fatto che i cassetti dell’Assemblea generale sono pieni, fin dal 1947, di analoghi testi denuncianti l’atrocità israeliana contro il popolo palestinese.

In effetti l’utilità di una simile risoluzione – l’unica che potrebbe avere – era solo quella di fornire una certa “copertura morale” ai gruppi armati, che perdevano terreno nei combattimenti feroci con l’esercito siriano a Homas, Idlib e nel Rif di Damasco.

Conferenza degli “amici” a Tunisi: fine di partita

E’ prima di tutto un fatto molto costante che, dopo il doppio veto russo-cinese al progetto di risoluzione del Consiglio di Sicurezza sulla Siria, l’indignazione araba e occidentale, diretta contro Mosca e Pechino, abbia riconosciuto il “Consiglio nazionale siriano” quale unico rappresentante legittimo del popolo siriano, sia che questi oratori “mondati” di ogni peccato si facessero beffe della Storia umana, sia che questa Storia non fosse, in verità, altro che una scena di teatro sulla quale si giocassero le grandi farse dell’umanità.

Così si ritrovarono insieme i rivoluzionari primaverili e i loro padrini arabo-atlantici, “amici della Siria”, in una sala da conferenza a Tunisi, il 24 febbraio.

Nella dichiarazione finale, i conferenzieri hanno invitato la Siria a “cessare immediatamente ogni forma di violenza” (20) e si sono impegnati ad assumere “delle misure per applicare e rafforzare le sanzioni contro il regime” (21). Il gruppo di “amici” ha anche riaffermato la propria posizione favorevole alla “sovranità, indipendenza e integrità territoriale della Siria” ed ha sottolineato la necessità di una “soluzione politica” (22) alla crisi.

Il minimo che si possa dire a proposito di queste “riaffermazioni” e di queste “sottolineature” è che sono ridicole, burlesche e carnevalesche. I popoli della regione lo sanno bene. In effetti durante i quindici anni di atroce guerra civile che ha distrutto il loro paese tra il 1975 e il 1990, i Libanesi hanno ricevuto dagli emiri e dai sultani della penisola arabica solo inviti a cessare il fuoco, “riaffermazioni” della sovranità del Libano e “sottolineature” di una soluzione politica. E tuttavia più di centomila persone sono state uccise; e il Libano venne spaccato in mille e qualche cantone. Parallelamente al supplizio del popolo libanese, “le Mille e una risoluzione” della Lega araba sulla Palestina non sono riuscite a fermare le atrocità della soldataglia israeliana né porre fine al calvario del popolo palestinese.

A più forte ragione, qualsiasi cosa voglia significare il libero accesso delle agenzie umanitarie, se il riconoscimento del CNS come rappresentante legittimo del popolo siriano, o la creazione di una forza araba; nessun appello della conferenza di Tunisi ha avuto alcun impatto sul campo; per la semplice ragione che niente può essere realizzato senza la presenza di una delle due seguenti condizioni: il consenso del regime siriano – e non è proprio il caso – o altrimenti l’invasione della Siria da parte delle forze della Santa Alleanza – cosa che sembra ancora più ridicola, dato il rapporto di forze nella regione tra il “campo della resistenza” (l’Iran, la Siria, il Libano) e l’Impero dopo la sconfitta dell’esercito israeliano nella guerra del luglio 2006. In più, le recenti vittorie militari dell’esercito siriano sui gruppi armati rendono improponibili entrambe le opzioni.

In tal senso, gli effetti di una simile dichiarazione sulla situazione interna siriana resta nulle, pur conservando esse una grande efficacia nel suk internazionale di accuse e ingiurie contro il regime siriano. 

Resta da dire che, in mancanza di una via di uscita “apoteosi” dall’impasse politica e diplomatica in cui si sono cacciati, i conferenzieri di Tunisi, non trovando altro da dire se non il riconoscimento del CNS come “rappresentante legittimo” del popolo siriano, hanno annunciato agli spettatori la fine della partita nel Vicino oriente (23).

“Nessun’altra ragione, nessun’altra ragione, anima mia!” (24)

Questo articolo è stato pubblicato per la prima volta sul sito del Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation.

 

Testo originale in francese : http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29557

Traduzione di Ossin

Fida Dakroub : Dottore in Studi Francesi (UWO, 2010), Fida Dakroub é componente del « Groupe de recherche et d’études sur les littératures et cultures de l’espace francophone » (GRELCEF) all’Università Western Ontario. E’ autrice di « L’Orient d’Amin Maalouf, Écriture et construction identitaire dans les romans historiques d’Amin Maalouf » (2011).

Fida Dakroub é collaboratrice di Mondialisation.ca.

 
(1) Candide, Voltaire – capitolo I 

[2] http://www.legrandsoir.info/le-11-vendemiaire-de-la-sainte-r…  

[3] « Balla coi lupi » (Dances with Wolves) é un film statunitense diretto da Kevin Costner nel 1990. 

[4] Archibald Haddock è un capitano di fiction e uno dei personaggi principali della serie di strisce « Les Aventures de Tintin », create da Hergé. 

[5] http://www.legrandsoir.info/le-11-vendemiaire-de-la-sainte-r…  

[6] http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/veto-sino-russe-triste-jour-po…  

[7] http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/veto-sino-russe-triste-jour-po…  

[8] http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/veto-sino-russe-triste-jour-po…  

[9] in “Otello” di Shakespeare. 

[10] http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/syrie-les-monarchies-du-golfe-ex… 

[11] http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2011/12/23/atten…  

[12] http://www.sana.sy/fra/51/2012/01/10/pr-393414.htm  

[13] http://rt.com/news/britain-qatar-troops-syria-893/  

[14] http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/pluie-de-critiques-apres-le-doub…  

[15] http://mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29208  

[16] Nella mitologia greca, Prometeo è un Titano. E’ conosciuto per il suo intervento in diversi miti antropogenici: creazione dell’uomo con argilla e acqua e furto del «sapere divino» (il fuoco sacro dell’Olimpo) per offrirlo agli umani. Irritato dai suoi eccessi, Zeus, il re degli dei, lo condannò a finire incatenato e torturato sul Monte Caucaso. Gli inflisse anche un supplizio. Efesto lo incatenò nudo ad una roccia sulle montagne del Caucaso, dove un’aquila gli divorava il fegato ogni giorno. La sua sofferenza era così infinita, perché ogni notte il suo fegato si riformava. 

[17] In « Persiani » di Eschilo. 

[18] http://www.ledevoir.com/international/actualites-internation…  

[19] http://www.ledevoir.com/international/actualites-internation…  

[20] http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/02/24/les-a…  

[21] http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/02/24/les-a…  

[22] http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/02/24/les-a… 

[23] http://www.voltairenet.org/Fin-de-partie-au-Proche-Orient  

[24] In “Otello” di Shakespeare.

World Wide Obesity Epidemic

Some 68% of all Americans are overweight, and obesity has almost doubled in the last couple of decades worldwide. As International Business Tribune reports:

Studies conducted jointly by researchers at Imperial College London and Harvard University, published in the medical journal The Lancet, show that obesity worldwide almost doubled in the decades between 1980 and 2008.

***

68 per cent of Americans were found to be overweight while close to 34 percent were obese.

Sure, people are eating too much and exercising too little (this post is not meant as an excuse for lack of discipline and poor choices). The processed foods and refined flours and sugars don’t help. And additives like high fructose corn syrup – which are added to many processed foods – are stuffing us with empty calories.

But given that there is an epidemic of obesity even in 6 month old infants (see below), there is clearly something else going on as well.

Are Toxic Chemicals Making Us Fat?

The toxins all around us might be making us fat.

As the Washington Post reported in 2007:

Several recent animal studies suggest that environmental exposure to widely used chemicals may also help make people fat.

The evidence is preliminary, but a number of researchers are pursuing indications that the chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals’ sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity — a process scientists call adipogenesis.

The chemicals under scrutiny are used in products from marine paints and pesticides to food and beverage containers. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one chemical, bisphenol A, in 95 percent of the people tested, at levels at or above those that affected development in animals.

These findings were presented at last month’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A spokesman for the chemical industry later dismissed the concerns, but Jerry Heindel, a top official of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), who chaired the AAAS session, said the suspected link between obesity and exposure to “endocrine disrupters,” as the chemicals are called because of their hormone-like effects, is “plausible and possible.”

Bruce Blumberg, a developmental and cell biologist at the University of California at Irvine, one of those presenting research at the meeting, called them “obesogens” — chemicals that promote obesity.

***

Exposed mice became obese adults and remained obese even on reduced calorie and increased exercise regimes. Like tributyltin, DES [which for decades was added to animal feed and routinely given to pregnant women] appeared to permanently disrupt the hormonal mechanisms regulating body weight.

“Once these genetic changes happen in utero, they are irreversible and with the individual for life,” Newbold said.

***

“Exposure to bisphenol A is continuous,” said Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Bisphenol A is an ingredient in polycarbonate plastics used in many products, including refillable water containers and baby bottles, and in epoxy resins that line the inside of food cans and are used as dental sealants. [It is also added to store receipts.] In 2003, U.S. industry consumed about 2 billion pounds of bisphenol A.

Researchers have studied bisphenol A’s effects on estrogen function for more than a decade. Vom Saal’s research indicates that developmental exposure to low doses of bisphenol A activates genetic mechanisms that promote fat-cell activity. “These in-utero effects are lifetime effects, and they occur at phenomenally small levels” of exposure, vom Saal said.

***

Research into the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on obesity has been done only in laboratory animals, but the genetic receptors that control fat cell activity are functionally identical across species. “They work virtually the same way in fish as they do in rodents and humans,” Blumberg said. “Fat cells are an endocrine organ.”

Ongoing studies are monitoring human levels of bisphenol A, but none have been done of tributyltin, which has been used since the 1960s and is persistent in the marine food web. “Tributyltin is the only endocrine disrupting chemical that has been shown without substantial argument to have an effect at levels at which it’s found in the environment,” Blumberg said.

Concern over tributyltin’s reproductive effects on marine animals has resulted in an international agreement discontinuing its use in anti-fouling paints used on ships. The EPA has said it plans next year to assess its other applications, including as an antimicrobial agent in livestock operations, fish hatcheries and hospitals.

Bisphenol A is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in consumer products, and the agency says the amount of bisphenol A or tributyltin that might leach from products is too low to be of concern. But the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is reviewing bisphenol A, and concerns about its estrogenic effects prompted California legislators to propose banning it from certain products sold in-state, a move industry has fought vigorously.

Similarly, the Daily Beast noted in 2010:

[Bad habits] cannot explain the ballooning of one particular segment of the population, a segment that doesn’t go to movies, can’t chew, and was never that much into exercise: babies. In 2006 scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the prevalence of obesity in infants under 6 months had risen 73 percent since 1980. “This epidemic of obese 6-month-olds,” as endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, calls it, poses a problem for conventional explanations of the fattening of America. “Since they’re eating only formula or breast milk, and never exactly got a lot of exercise, the obvious explanations for obesity don’t work for babies,” he points out. “You have to look beyond the obvious.”

The search for the non-obvious has led to a familiar villain: early-life exposure to traces of chemicals in the environment. Evidence has been steadily accumulating that certain hormone-mimicking pollutants, ubiquitous in the food chain, have two previously unsuspected effects. They act on genes in the developing fetus and newborn to turn more precursor cells into fat cells, which stay with you for life. And they may alter metabolic rate, so that the body hoards calories rather than burning them, like a physiological Scrooge. “The evidence now emerging says that being overweight is not just the result of personal choices about what you eat, combined with inactivity,” says Retha Newbold of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in North Carolina, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Exposure to environmental chemicals during development may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.” They are not the cause of extra pounds in every person who is overweight—for older adults, who were less likely to be exposed to so many of the compounds before birth, the standard explanations of genetics and lifestyle probably suffice—but environmental chemicals may well account for a good part of the current epidemic, especially in those under 50. And at the individual level, exposure to the compounds during a critical period of development may explain one of the most frustrating aspects of weight gain: you eat no more than your slim friends, and exercise no less, yet are still unable to shed pounds.

***

Newbold gave low doses (equivalent to what people are exposed to in the environment) of hormone-mimicking compounds to newborn mice. In six months, the mice were 20 percent heavier and had 36 percent more body fat than unexposed mice. Strangely, these results seemed to contradict the first law of thermodynamics, which implies that weight gain equals calories consumed minus calories burned. “What was so odd was that the overweight mice were not eating more or moving less than the normal mice,” Newbold says. “We measured that very carefully, and there was no statistical difference.”

***

`Programming the fetus to make more fat cells leaves an enduring physiological legacy. “The more [fat cells], the fatter you are,” says UCSF’s Lustig. But [fat cells] are more than passive storage sites. They also fine-tune appetite, producing hormones that act on the brain to make us feel hungry or sated. With more [fat cells], an animal is doubly cursed: it is hungrier more often, and the extra food it eats has more places to go—and remain.

***

In 2005 scientists in Spain reported that the more pesticides children were exposed to as fetuses, the greater their risk of being overweight as toddlers. And last January scientists in Belgium found that children exposed to higher levels of PCBs and DDE (the breakdown product of the pesticide DDT) before birth were fatter than those exposed to lower levels. Neither study proves causation, but they “support the findings in experimental animals,” says Newbold. They “show a link between exposure to environmental chemicals … and the development of obesity.” [See this for more information on the potential link between pesticides and obesity.]

***

This fall, scientists from NIH, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and academia will discuss obesogens at the largest-ever government-sponsored meeting on the topic. “The main message is that obesogens are a factor that we hadn’t thought about at all before this,” says Blumberg. But they’re one that could clear up at least some of the mystery of why so many of us put on pounds that refuse to come off.

Consumption of the widely used food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been linked to obesity.

Pthalates – commonly used in many plastics – have been linked to obesity. See this and this.  So has a chemical used to make Teflon, stain-resistant carpets and other products.

Most of the meat we eat these days contains estrogen, antibiotics and  powerful chemicals which change hormone levels. Modern corn-fed beef also contains much higher levels of saturated fat than grass-fed beef. So the meat we are eating is also making us fat.

Arsenic may also be linked with obesity, via it’s effect on the thyroid gland. Arsenic is often fed to chickens and pigs to fatten them up, and we end up ingesting it on our dinner plate. It’s ending up in other foods as well.

A lot of endocrine-disrupting pharmaceuticals and medications are also ending up in tap water.

Moreover, the National Research Council has found:

The effects of fluoride on various aspects of endocrine function should be examined further, particularly with respect to a possible role in the development of several diseases or mental states in the United States.

Some hypothesize that too much fluoride affects the thyroid gland, which may in turn lead to weight gain.

Antibiotics also used to be handed out like candy by doctors.  However, ingesting too many antibiotics has also been linked to obesity, as it kills helpful intestinal bacteria. See this and this.

Moreover, many crops in the U.S. are now genetically modified.  For example, 93 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered, as are:

Some allege that Roundup kills healthy gut bacteria, and that genetically modified crops cause other health problems.

And Cornell University’s newspaper – the Cornell Sun – reports that our  intestinal bacteria also substantially affect our ability to eliminate toxins instead of letting them make us fat:

Cornell scientists researching the effects of environmental toxins to the onset of obesity and Type II Diabetes, discovered that—unlike other factors such as eating too many unhealthy foods—the extent of damage caused by pollutants depends not on what a person puts into her mouth, but on what is already living within her gut.

Prof. Suzanne Snedeker, food science, and Prof. Anthony Hay, microbiology, researched the contribution that microorganisms in the gut and environmental toxins known as “obesogens” have on ever rising obesity levels. Their work, which was published last October in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reported a link between composition of gut microbiota, exposure to environmental chemicals and the development of obesity and diabetes. The review, “Do Interactions Between Gut Ecology and Environmental Chemicals Contribute to Obesity and Diabetes?”  combined three main ideas: predisposed gut microbe composition can increase an individual’s risk of obesity and Type II Diabetes, gut microbe activity can determine an individual’s metabolic reaction to persistent pollutants such as DDT and PCB and certain pharmaceuticals can also be metabolized differently depending on the community of microbes in the gut.

The microbe community influences many metabolic pathways within the gut, Snedeker said.  Our bodies metabolize chemicals, but how they are metabolized, and how much fat is stored, depends on gut ecology. Microbes are responsible not only for collecting usable energy from digested food, but also for monitoring insulin levels, storage of fat and appetite. Gut microbes also play an integral role in dealing with any chemicals that enter the body. According to Snedeker, differences in gut microbiota can cause drugs like acetaminophen to act as a toxin in some people while providing no problems for others.  While pharmaceutical and microbe interactions are well understood, there is little information in the area of microbe response to environmental toxins.

She said, there are more than three dozen chemicals called obesogenic compounds, that can cause weight gain by altering the body’s normal metabolic responses and lipid production.

“It seems probable that gut microbes are affecting how our bodies handle these environmental chemicals,” Snedeker said. According to Snedeker, enzymes that are influenced by interactions of gut microbes break down approximately two-thirds of the known environmental toxins. Therefore, differences in the gut microbe community strongly affect our bodies’ ability to get rid of environmental pollutants. Obesogens can alter normal metabolic behavior by changing the levels of fat that our bodies store. Snedeker and Hay suggested that the microbes in the gut of humans determine the way in which these chemicals are metabolized and thus could contribute to obesity.

Snedeker and Hay concluded that although high levels of obesogenic chemicals are bound to cause some kind of disruption in the gut microbe community responsible for breaking these chemicals down, the degree of the disturbance is dependent upon gut microbial composition. In other words, the amount of weight an individual is likely to gain when exposed to environmental toxins, or her risk of acquiring Type II Diabetes, could depend on the microorganism community in their gut.

No, Everything Won‘t Kill You

In response to information about toxic chemicals in our food, water and air, many people change the subject by saying “well, everything will kill you”. In other words, they try to change the topic by assuming that we would have to go back to the stone age to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals.

But this is missing the point entirely. In fact, companies add nasty chemicals to their products and use fattening food-producing strategies to cut corners and make more money.

In the same way that the financial crisis, BP oil spill and Fukushima nuclear disaster were caused by fraud and greed, we are daily exposed to obesity-causing chemicals because companies make an extra buck by lying about what is in their product, cutting every corner in the book, and escaping any consequences for their health-damaging actions.

In fattening their bottom line, the fat cats are creating an epidemic of obesity for the little guy.

What Can We Do To Fight Back?

Eating grass-fed meat instead of industrially-produced corn fed beef will reduce your exposure to obesity-causing chemicals.

Use glass instead of plastic whenever you can, to reduce exposure to pthalates and other hormone-altering plastics.

Try to avoid canned food, or at least look for cans that are free of bisphenol A.  (For example, the Eden company sells food in bpa-free cans.)  Buy and store food in glass jars whenever possible.   And wash your hands after handling store receipts (they still contain bpa).

Eat yogurt or other food containing good bacteria to help restore your healthy intestinal flora.   If you don’t like yogurt, you can take “probiotic” (i.e. good bacteria) supplements from your local health food store.

And don’t forget to tell your grocery store that you demand real food that doesn’t contain bpa, pthalates, hormones, antibiotics or other junk.  If we vote with our pocketbooks, the big food companies will get the message.

Photo: Name Withheld; Digital Manipulation: Jesse Lenz

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.

Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.

The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever.

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

For the NSA, overflowing with tens of billions of dollars in post-9/11 budget awards, the cryptanalysis breakthrough came at a time of explosive growth, in size as well as in power. Established as an arm of the Department of Defense following Pearl Harbor, with the primary purpose of preventing another surprise assault, the NSA suffered a series of humiliations in the post-Cold War years. Caught offguard by an escalating series of terrorist attacks—the first World Trade Center bombing, the blowing up of US embassies in East Africa, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and finally the devastation of 9/11—some began questioning the agency’s very reason for being. In response, the NSA has quietly been reborn. And while there is little indication that its actual effectiveness has improved—after all, despite numerous pieces of evidence and intelligence-gathering opportunities, it missed the near-disastrous attempted attacks by the underwear bomber on a flight to Detroit in 2009 and by the car bomber in Times Square in 2010—there is no doubt that it has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created.

In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.

1 Visitor control center

A $9.7 million facility for ensuring that only cleared personnel gain access.

2 Administration

Designated space for technical support and administrative personnel.

3 Data halls

Four 25,000-square-foot facilities house rows and rows of servers.

4 Backup generators and fuel tanks

Can power the center for at least three days.

5 Water storage and pumping

Able to pump 1.7 million gallons of liquid per day.

6 Chiller plant

About 60,000 tons of cooling equipment to keep servers from overheating.

7 Power substation

An electrical substation to meet the center’s estimated 65-megawatt demand.

8 Security

Video surveillance, intrusion detection, and other protection will cost more than $10 million.

Vistor’s control center 1, through Water Storage and Pumping 8 

Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Conceptual Site plan

A swath of freezing fog blanketed Salt Lake City on the morning of January 6, 2011, mixing with a weeklong coating of heavy gray smog. Red air alerts, warning people to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, had become almost daily occurrences, and the temperature was in the bone-chilling twenties. “What I smell and taste is like coal smoke,” complained one local blogger that day. At the city’s international airport, many inbound flights were delayed or diverted while outbound regional jets were grounded. But among those making it through the icy mist was a figure whose gray suit and tie made him almost disappear into the background. He was tall and thin, with the physique of an aging basketball player and dark caterpillar eyebrows beneath a shock of matching hair. Accompanied by a retinue of bodyguards, the man was NSA deputy director Chris Inglis, the agency’s highest-ranking civilian and the person who ran its worldwide day-to-day operations.

A short time later, Inglis arrived in Bluffdale at the site of the future data center, a flat, unpaved runway on a little-used part of Camp Williams, a National Guard training site. There, in a white tent set up for the occasion, Inglis joined Harvey Davis, the agency’s associate director for installations and logistics, and Utah senator Orrin Hatch, along with a few generals and politicians in a surreal ceremony. Standing in an odd wooden sandbox and holding gold-painted shovels, they made awkward jabs at the sand and thus officially broke ground on what the local media had simply dubbed “the spy center.” Hoping for some details on what was about to be built, reporters turned to one of the invited guests, Lane Beattie of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Did he have any idea of the purpose behind the new facility in his backyard? “Absolutely not,” he said with a self-conscious half laugh. “Nor do I want them spying on me.”

For his part, Inglis simply engaged in a bit of double-talk, emphasizing the least threatening aspect of the center: “It’s a state-of-the-art facility designed to support the intelligence community in its mission to, in turn, enable and protect the nation’s cybersecurity.” While cybersecurity will certainly be among the areas focused on in Bluffdale, what is collected, how it’s collected, and what is done with the material are far more important issues. Battling hackers makes for a nice cover—it’s easy to explain, and who could be against it? Then the reporters turned to Hatch, who proudly described the center as “a great tribute to Utah,” then added, “I can’t tell you a lot about what they’re going to be doing, because it’s highly classified.”

And then there was this anomaly: Although this was supposedly the official ground-breaking for the nation’s largest and most expensive cybersecurity project, no one from the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for protecting civilian networks from cyberattack, spoke from the lectern. In fact, the official who’d originally introduced the data center, at a press conference in Salt Lake City in October 2009, had nothing to do with cybersecurity. It was Glenn A. Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, a man who had spent almost his entire career at the CIA. As head of collection for the intelligence community, he managed the country’s human and electronic spies.

Within days, the tent and sandbox and gold shovels would be gone and Inglis and the generals would be replaced by some 10,000 construction workers. “We’ve been asked not to talk about the project,” Rob Moore, president of Big-D Construction, one of the three major contractors working on the project, told a local reporter. The plans for the center show an extensive security system: an elaborate $10 million antiterrorism protection program, including a fence designed to stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour, closed-circuit cameras, a biometric identification system, a vehicle inspection facility, and a visitor-control center.

Inside, the facility will consist of four 25,000-square-foot halls filled with servers, complete with raised floor space for cables and storage. In addition, there will be more than 900,000 square feet for technical support and administration. The entire site will be self-sustaining, with fuel tanks large enough to power the backup generators for three days in an emergency, water storage with the capability of pumping 1.7 million gallons of liquid per day, as well as a sewage system and massive air-conditioning system to keep all those servers cool. Electricity will come from the center’s own substation built by Rocky Mountain Power to satisfy the 65-megawatt power demand. Such a mammoth amount of energy comes with a mammoth price tag—about $40 million a year, according to one estimate.

Given the facility’s scale and the fact that a terabyte of data can now be stored on a flash drive the size of a man’s pinky, the potential amount of information that could be housed in Bluffdale is truly staggering. But so is the exponential growth in the amount of intelligence data being produced every day by the eavesdropping sensors of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. As a result of this “expanding array of theater airborne and other sensor networks,” as a 2007 Department of Defense report puts it, the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data. (A yottabyte is a septillion bytes—so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.)

It needs that capacity because, according to a recent report by Cisco, global Internet traffic will quadruple from 2010 to 2015, reaching 966 exabytes per year. (A million exabytes equal a yottabyte.) In terms of scale, Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, once estimated that the total of all human knowledge created from the dawn of man to 2003 totaled 5 exabytes. And the data flow shows no sign of slowing. In 2011 more than 2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people were connected to the Internet. By 2015, market research firm IDC estimates, there will be 2.7 billion users. Thus, the NSA’s need for a 1-million-square-foot data storehouse. Should the agency ever fill the Utah center with a yottabyte of information, it would be equal to about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.

The data stored in Bluffdale will naturally go far beyond the world’s billions of public web pages. The NSA is more interested in the so-called invisible web, also known as the deep web or deepnet—data beyond the reach of the public. This includes password-protected data, US and foreign government communications, and noncommercial file-sharing between trusted peers. “The deep web contains government reports, databases, and other sources of information of high value to DOD and the intelligence community,” according to a 2010 Defense Science Board report. “Alternative tools are needed to find and index data in the deep web … Stealing the classified secrets of a potential adversary is where the [intelligence] community is most comfortable.” With its new Utah Data Center, the NSA will at last have the technical capability to store, and rummage through, all those stolen secrets. The question, of course, is how the agency defines who is, and who is not, “a potential adversary.”

The NSA’S SPY NETWORK

Once it’s operational, the Utah Data Center will become, in effect, the NSA’s cloud. The center will be fed data collected by the agency’s eavesdropping satellites, overseas listening posts, and secret monitoring rooms in telecom facilities throughout the US. All that data will then be accessible to the NSA’s code breakers, data-miners, China analysts, counterterrorism specialists, and others working at its Fort Meade headquarters and around the world. Here’s how the data center appears to fit into the NSA’s global puzzle.—J.B.

1 Geostationary satellites

Four satellites positioned around the globe monitor frequencies carrying everything from walkie-talkies and cell phones in Libya to radar systems in North Korea. Onboard software acts as the first filter in the collection process, targeting only key regions, countries, cities, and phone numbers or email.

2 Aerospace Data Facility, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado

Intelligence collected from the geostationary satellites, as well as signals from other spacecraft and overseas listening posts, is relayed to this facility outside Denver. About 850 NSA employees track the satellites, transmit target information, and download the intelligence haul.

3 NSA Georgia, Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia

Focuses on intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Codenamed Sweet Tea, the facility has been massively expanded and now consists of a 604,000-square-foot operations building for up to 4,000 intercept operators, analysts, and other specialists.

4 NSA Texas, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio

Focuses on intercepts from Latin America and, since 9/11, the Middle East and Europe. Some 2,000 workers staff the operation. The NSA recently completed a $100 million renovation on a mega-data center here—a backup storage facility for the Utah Data Center.

5 NSA Hawaii, Oahu

Focuses on intercepts from Asia. Built to house an aircraft assembly plant during World War II, the 250,000-square-foot bunker is nicknamed the Hole. Like the other NSA operations centers, it has since been expanded: Its 2,700 employees now do their work aboveground from a new 234,000-square-foot facility.

6 Domestic listening posts

The NSA has long been free to eavesdrop on international satellite communications. But after 9/11, it installed taps in US telecom “switches,” gaining access to domestic traffic. An ex-NSA official says there are 10 to 20 such installations.

7 Overseas listening posts

According to a knowledgeable intelligence source, the NSA has installed taps on at least a dozen of the major overseas communications links, each capable of eavesdropping on information passing by at a high data rate.

8 Utah Data Center, Bluffdale, Utah

At a million square feet, this $2 billion digital storage facility outside Salt Lake City will be the centerpiece of the NSA’s cloud-based data strategy and essential in its plans for decrypting previously uncrackable documents.

9 Multiprogram Research Facility, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Some 300 scientists and computer engineers with top security clearance toil away here, building the world’s fastest supercomputers and working on cryptanalytic applications and other secret projects.

10 NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland

Analysts here will access material stored at Bluffdale to prepare reports and recommendations that are sent to policymakers. To handle the increased data load, the NSA is also building an $896 million supercomputer center here.

Before yottabytes of data from the deep web and elsewhere can begin piling up inside the servers of the NSA’s new center, they must be collected. To better accomplish that, the agency has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks, a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed—how the NSA secretly and illegally bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was supposed to oversee and authorize highly targeted domestic eavesdropping; how the program allowed wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and email. In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits. What wasn’t revealed until now, however, was the enormity of this ongoing domestic spying program.

For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA’s bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.

He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”

The eavesdropping on Americans doesn’t stop at the telecom switches. To capture satellite communications in and out of the US, the agency also monitors AT&T’s powerful earth stations, satellite receivers in locations that include Roaring Creek and Salt Creek. Tucked away on a back road in rural Catawissa, Pennsylvania, Roaring Creek’s three 105-foot dishes handle much of the country’s communications to and from Europe and the Middle East. And on an isolated stretch of land in remote Arbuckle, California, three similar dishes at the company’s Salt Creek station service the Pacific Rim and Asia.

The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.

The software, created by a company called Narus that’s now part of Boeing, is controlled remotely from NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland and searches US sources for target addresses, locations, countries, and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Any communication that arouses suspicion, especially those to or from the million or so people on agency watch lists, are automatically copied or recorded and then transmitted to the NSA.

The scope of surveillance expands from there, Binney says. Once a name is entered into the Narus database, all phone calls and other communications to and from that person are automatically routed to the NSA’s recorders. “Anybody you want, route to a recorder,” Binney says. “If your number’s in there? Routed and gets recorded.” He adds, “The Narus device allows you to take it all.” And when Bluffdale is completed, whatever is collected will be routed there for storage and analysis.

According to Binney, one of the deepest secrets of the Stellar Wind program—again, never confirmed until now—was that the NSA gained warrantless access to AT&T’s vast trove of domestic and international billing records, detailed information about who called whom in the US and around the world. As of 2007, AT&T had more than 2.8 trillion records housed in a database at its Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.

Verizon was also part of the program, Binney says, and that greatly expanded the volume of calls subject to the agency’s domestic eavesdropping. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he says. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” (Spokespeople for Verizon and AT&T said their companies would not comment on matters of national security.)

After he left the NSA, Binney suggested a system for monitoring people’s communications according to how closely they are connected to an initial target. The further away from the target—say you’re just an acquaintance of a friend of the target—the less the surveillance. But the agency rejected the idea, and, given the massive new storage facility in Utah, Binney suspects that it now simply collects everything. “The whole idea was, how do you manage 20 terabytes of intercept a minute?” he says. “The way we proposed was to distinguish between things you want and things you don’t want.” Instead, he adds, “they’re storing everything they gather.” And the agency is gathering as much as it can.

Once the communications are intercepted and stored, the data-mining begins. “You can watch everybody all the time with data- mining,” Binney says. Everything a person does becomes charted on a graph, “financial transactions or travel or anything,” he says. Thus, as data like bookstore receipts, bank statements, and commuter toll records flow in, the NSA is able to paint a more and more detailed picture of someone’s life.

The NSA also has the ability to eavesdrop on phone calls directly and in real time. According to Adrienne J. Kinne, who worked both before and after 9/11 as a voice interceptor at the NSA facility in Georgia, in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks “basically all rules were thrown out the window, and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” Kinne found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. “It’s almost like going through and finding somebody’s diary,” she says.

In secret listening rooms nationwide, NSA software examines every email, phone call, and tweet as they zip by.

But there is, of course, reason for anyone to be distressed about the practice. Once the door is open for the government to spy on US citizens, there are often great temptations to abuse that power for political purposes, as when Richard Nixon eavesdropped on his political enemies during Watergate and ordered the NSA to spy on antiwar protesters. Those and other abuses prompted Congress to enact prohibitions in the mid-1970s against domestic spying.

Before he gave up and left the NSA, Binney tried to persuade officials to create a more targeted system that could be authorized by a court. At the time, the agency had 72 hours to obtain a legal warrant, and Binney devised a method to computerize the system. “I had proposed that we automate the process of requesting a warrant and automate approval so we could manage a couple of million intercepts a day, rather than subvert the whole process.” But such a system would have required close coordination with the courts, and NSA officials weren’t interested in that, Binney says. Instead they continued to haul in data on a grand scale. Asked how many communications—”transactions,” in NSA’s lingo—the agency has intercepted since 9/11, Binney estimates the number at “between 15 and 20 trillion, the aggregate over 11 years.”

When Barack Obama took office, Binney hoped the new administration might be open to reforming the program to address his constitutional concerns. He and another former senior NSA analyst, J. Kirk Wiebe, tried to bring the idea of an automated warrant-approval system to the attention of the Department of Justice’s inspector general. They were given the brush-off. “They said, oh, OK, we can’t comment,” Binney says.

Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.

There is still one technology preventing untrammeled government access to private digital data: strong encryption. Anyone—from terrorists and weapons dealers to corporations, financial institutions, and ordinary email senders—can use it to seal their messages, plans, photos, and documents in hardened data shells. For years, one of the hardest shells has been the Advanced Encryption Standard, one of several algorithms used by much of the world to encrypt data. Available in three different strengths—128 bits, 192 bits, and 256 bits—it’s incorporated in most commercial email programs and web browsers and is considered so strong that the NSA has even approved its use for top-secret US government communications. Most experts say that a so-called brute-force computer attack on the algorithm—trying one combination after another to unlock the encryption—would likely take longer than the age of the universe. For a 128-bit cipher, the number of trial-and-error attempts would be 340 undecillion (1036).

Breaking into those complex mathematical shells like the AES is one of the key reasons for the construction going on in Bluffdale. That kind of cryptanalysis requires two major ingredients: super-fast computers to conduct brute-force attacks on encrypted messages and a massive number of those messages for the computers to analyze. The more messages from a given target, the more likely it is for the computers to detect telltale patterns, and Bluffdale will be able to hold a great many messages. “We questioned it one time,” says another source, a senior intelligence manager who was also involved with the planning. “Why were we building this NSA facility? And, boy, they rolled out all the old guys—the crypto guys.” According to the official, these experts told then-director of national intelligence Dennis Blair, “You’ve got to build this thing because we just don’t have the capability of doing the code-breaking.” It was a candid admission. In the long war between the code breakers and the code makers—the tens of thousands of cryptographers in the worldwide computer security industry—the code breakers were admitting defeat.

So the agency had one major ingredient—a massive data storage facility—under way. Meanwhile, across the country in Tennessee, the government was working in utmost secrecy on the other vital element: the most powerful computer the world has ever known.

The plan was launched in 2004 as a modern-day Manhattan Project. Dubbed the High Productivity Computing Systems program, its goal was to advance computer speed a thousandfold, creating a machine that could execute a quadrillion (1015) operations a second, known as a petaflop—the computer equivalent of breaking the land speed record. And as with the Manhattan Project, the venue chosen for the supercomputing program was the town of Oak Ridge in eastern Tennessee, a rural area where sharp ridges give way to low, scattered hills, and the southwestward-flowing Clinch River bends sharply to the southeast. About 25 miles from Knoxville, it is the “secret city” where uranium- 235 was extracted for the first atomic bomb. A sign near the exit read: what you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here. Today, not far from where that sign stood, Oak Ridge is home to the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it’s engaged in a new secret war. But this time, instead of a bomb of almost unimaginable power, the weapon is a computer of almost unimaginable speed.

In 2004, as part of the supercomputing program, the Department of Energy established its Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility for multiple agencies to join forces on the project. But in reality there would be two tracks, one unclassified, in which all of the scientific work would be public, and another top-secret, in which the NSA could pursue its own computer covertly. “For our purposes, they had to create a separate facility,” says a former senior NSA computer expert who worked on the project and is still associated with the agency. (He is one of three sources who described the program.) It was an expensive undertaking, but one the NSA was desperate to launch.

Known as the Multiprogram Research Facility, or Building 5300, the $41 million, five-story, 214,000-square-foot structure was built on a plot of land on the lab’s East Campus and completed in 2006. Behind the brick walls and green-tinted windows, 318 scientists, computer engineers, and other staff work in secret on the cryptanalytic applications of high-speed computing and other classified projects. The supercomputer center was named in honor of George R. Cotter, the NSA’s now-retired chief scientist and head of its information technology program. Not that you’d know it. “There’s no sign on the door,” says the ex-NSA computer expert.

At the DOE’s unclassified center at Oak Ridge, work progressed at a furious pace, although it was a one-way street when it came to cooperation with the closemouthed people in Building 5300. Nevertheless, the unclassified team had its Cray XT4 supercomputer upgraded to a warehouse-sized XT5. Named Jaguar for its speed, it clocked in at 1.75 petaflops, officially becoming the world’s fastest computer in 2009.

Meanwhile, over in Building 5300, the NSA succeeded in building an even faster supercomputer. “They made a big breakthrough,” says another former senior intelligence official, who helped oversee the program. The NSA’s machine was likely similar to the unclassified Jaguar, but it was much faster out of the gate, modified specifically for cryptanalysis and targeted against one or more specific algorithms, like the AES. In other words, they were moving from the research and development phase to actually attacking extremely difficult encryption systems. The code-breaking effort was up and running.

The breakthrough was enormous, says the former official, and soon afterward the agency pulled the shade down tight on the project, even within the intelligence community and Congress. “Only the chairman and vice chairman and the two staff directors of each intelligence committee were told about it,” he says. The reason? “They were thinking that this computing breakthrough was going to give them the ability to crack current public encryption.”

In addition to giving the NSA access to a tremendous amount of Americans’ personal data, such an advance would also open a window on a trove of foreign secrets. While today most sensitive communications use the strongest encryption, much of the older data stored by the NSA, including a great deal of what will be transferred to Bluffdale once the center is complete, is encrypted with more vulnerable ciphers. “Remember,” says the former intelligence official, “a lot of foreign government stuff we’ve never been able to break is 128 or less. Break all that and you’ll find out a lot more of what you didn’t know—stuff we’ve already stored—so there’s an enormous amount of information still in there.”

The NSA believes it’s on the verge of breaking a key encryption algorithm—opening up hoards of data.

That, he notes, is where the value of Bluffdale, and its mountains of long-stored data, will come in. What can’t be broken today may be broken tomorrow. “Then you can see what they were saying in the past,” he says. “By extrapolating the way they did business, it gives us an indication of how they may do things now.” The danger, the former official says, is that it’s not only foreign government information that is locked in weaker algorithms, it’s also a great deal of personal domestic communications, such as Americans’ email intercepted by the NSA in the past decade.

But first the supercomputer must break the encryption, and to do that, speed is everything. The faster the computer, the faster it can break codes. The Data Encryption Standard, the 56-bit predecessor to the AES, debuted in 1976 and lasted about 25 years. The AES made its first appearance in 2001 and is expected to remain strong and durable for at least a decade. But if the NSA has secretly built a computer that is considerably faster than machines in the unclassified arena, then the agency has a chance of breaking the AES in a much shorter time. And with Bluffdale in operation, the NSA will have the luxury of storing an ever-expanding archive of intercepts until that breakthrough comes along.

But despite its progress, the agency has not finished building at Oak Ridge, nor is it satisfied with breaking the petaflop barrier. Its next goal is to reach exaflop speed, one quintillion (1018) operations a second, and eventually zettaflop (1021) and yottaflop.

These goals have considerable support in Congress. Last November a bipartisan group of 24 senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to approve continued funding through 2013 for the Department of Energy’s exascale computing initiative (the NSA’s budget requests are classified). They cited the necessity to keep up with and surpass China and Japan. “The race is on to develop exascale computing capabilities,” the senators noted. The reason was clear: By late 2011 the Jaguar (now with a peak speed of 2.33 petaflops) ranked third behind Japan’s “K Computer,” with an impressive 10.51 petaflops, and the Chinese Tianhe-1A system, with 2.57 petaflops.

But the real competition will take place in the classified realm. To secretly develop the new exaflop (or higher) machine by 2018, the NSA has proposed constructing two connecting buildings, totaling 260,000 square feet, near its current facility on the East Campus of Oak Ridge. Called the Multiprogram Computational Data Center, the buildings will be low and wide like giant warehouses, a design necessary for the dozens of computer cabinets that will compose an exaflop-scale machine, possibly arranged in a cluster to minimize the distance between circuits. According to a presentation delivered to DOE employees in 2009, it will be an “unassuming facility with limited view from roads,” in keeping with the NSA’s desire for secrecy. And it will have an extraordinary appetite for electricity, eventually using about 200 megawatts, enough to power 200,000 homes. The computer will also produce a gargantuan amount of heat, requiring 60,000 tons of cooling equipment, the same amount that was needed to serve both of the World Trade Center towers.

In the meantime Cray is working on the next step for the NSA, funded in part by a $250 million contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It’s a massively parallel supercomputer called Cascade, a prototype of which is due at the end of 2012. Its development will run largely in parallel with the unclassified effort for the DOE and other partner agencies. That project, due in 2013, will upgrade the Jaguar XT5 into an XK6, codenamed Titan, upping its speed to 10 to 20 petaflops.

Yottabytes and exaflops, septillions and undecillions—the race for computing speed and data storage goes on. In his 1941 story “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges imagined a collection of information where the entire world’s knowledge is stored but barely a single word is understood. In Bluffdale the NSA is constructing a library on a scale that even Borges might not have contemplated. And to hear the masters of the agency tell it, it’s only a matter of time until every word is illuminated.

James Bamford ([email protected]) is the author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.

The Real Cause of Rising Prices at the Gas Pump

March 19th, 2012 by Robert Reich

Gas prices continue to rise, which is finally giving Republicans an issue. Mitt Romney is demanding the President open up more domestic drilling; the super PAC behind Rick Santorum just released a new ad in Louisiana blasting the President on gas prices; and the GOP is attacking the White House on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But the rise in gas prices has almost nothing to do with energy policy. It has everything to do with America’s continuing failure to adequately regulate Wall Street. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Republicans to tell the truth.

As I’ve noted before, oil supplies aren’t being squeezed. Over 80 percent of America’s energy needs are now being satisfied by domestic supplies. In fact, we’re starting to become an energy exporter. Demand for oil isn’t rising in any event. Demand is down in the U.S. compared to last year at this time, and global demand is still moderate given the economic slowdowns in Europe and China.

But Wall Street is betting on higher oil prices in the future — and that betting is causing prices to rise. The Street is laying odds that unrest in Syria will spill over into other countries or that tensions with Iran will affect the Persian Gulf, and that global demand will pick up as American consumers bounce back to life.

These bets are pushing up oil prices because Wall Street firms and other big financial players now dominate oil trading.

Financial speculators historically accounted for about 30 percent of oil contracts, producers and end users for about 70 percent. But today speculators account for 64 percent of all contracts.

Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — the federal agency that regulates trading in oil futures, among other commodities — warns that too few financial players control too much of the oil market. This allows them to push oil prices higher and higher — not only on the basis of their expectations about the future but also expectations about how high other speculators will drive the price.

In other words, a relatively few players with very deep pockets are placing huge bets on oil — and you’re paying.

Chilton estimates that drivers of small cars like Honda Civics are paying an extra $7.30 every time they fill up — and that money is going into the pockets of Wall Street speculators. Drivers of larger vehicles like the Ford Explorer are paying speculators $10.41 when they fill up.

Funny, but I don’t hear Republicans rail against Wall Street speculators. Could this have anything to do with the fact that hedge funds and money managers are bankrolling the GOP as never before?

Wall Street isn’t bankrolling Democrats nearly as much this time around because the Street is still smarting from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law pushed by the Democrats, and from the president’s offhand remark in 2010 calling the denizens of the Street “fat cats.”

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is trying to limit how much speculators can bet in oil futures — a power it was given by Dodd-Frank. It issued a rule in October, but it won’t take effect for another year.

Meanwhile, Wall Street has gone to court to stop the rule. It’s already won a stay.

As rising gas prices start wagging the election-year dog, the President should let America know what’s really causing prices to rise.

Robert Reich is the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org.

Mossad and CIA concur: Iran is not seeking nukes

March 19th, 2012 by Global Research

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listening to an expert during a tour of Tehran’s research reactor center on February 15, 2012 (AFP Photo) TRENDS: Israel vs Iran TAGS: Conflict, Nuclear, Politics, Iran, USA, Israel, Security

Israel’s intelligence service Mossad has acknowledged, just like their American counterparts, there is no proof Tehran is carrying out a nuclear weapons program, a source in US intelligence told the New York Times. ­An unnamed former senior US intelligence official told the paper “Mossad does not disagree with the US on the [Iranian] weapons program.”

The consensus among US spy agencies remains that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons research several years ago.

“There is not a lot of dispute between the US and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts,” the official continued. Such recognition comes in stark contrast with Israeli politicians, who have continually insisted on an immediate military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations to prevent it from evolving into an “existential threat” to the Jewish state.

The assessment of the intelligence available is the key to the ongoing war or peace dilemma with Iran. US spy agencies have been searching around for years, trying to find proof Iran is developing a nuclear warhead and missiles to deliver it. For all of their troubles, this is what they’ve found: the program was shut down way back in 2003.

As of today, the intelligence data on Iran has not significantly changed. “Iran is the hardest intelligence target there is. It is harder by far than North Korea,” another former intelligence officer confessed to the NYT. His explanation was simple: the US doesn’t have many agents on the ground to verify information.

There are reports the US use sensors implanted near Iranian nuclear facilities to monitor the situation.

But while intelligence circles might admit Iran is not close to obtaining nuclear weapons, the sanctions against Iran remain in place. Meanwhile, neither Israeli nor American leaders make any bones of threatening Iran with a military solution to prevent the country’s frustrated nuclear ambitions from seeing the light of day. Iran insists on the utterly peaceful character of its nuclear program and promises not to give it up at any cost.

Armed men from the Faruq Brigade have succeeded in expelling most of the Christians of Homs and have seized their homes by force.

Al-Haqiqa has learned from church sources in Homs that the city has been emptied of almost 90% of its Christians. It is expected that a complete “cleansing” of buildings owned by Christians will occur within a matter of days or weeks by armed men from the Wahhabi “Faruq Brigade.”

A source in the Orthodox metropolitan’s office told al-Haqiqa that armed men from the Faruq Brigade went to the homes of the Christians, house by house, in the neighborhoods of Hamidiya and Bustan el-Diwan, informing them that they must immediately leave their homes and the city of Homs. The source revealed that the lastest attempt to expel Christians by force of arms occured yesterday. It included Dr. Taleb Mashhour Gharibeh, professor of mathematics at Baath University in Homs, his brother the musician Marwan Mashhour Gharibeh (a musician in Sabah Fakhri’s group), both of whom live in the Hamidiya neighborhood, their sister Marie Mashhour Gharibeh, who lives in the Bustan el-Diwan neighborhood, as well as their father and his wife the schoolteacher Maha Habou, who live in the new neighborhood el-Wa’ar. This wave of expulsions also included the residents of a six-story building in Hamidiya, whose residents include eighteen families, almost all of whom are from the village Uyoun el-Wadi.

The church sources said that the armed men informed the owners of the homes before they departed that if they did not leave immediately they would be shot and pictures of their corpses would be sent to al-Jazeera with the message that the government had killed them. The source emphasized that all those who were expelled “were not allowed to take any of their possessions with them, not even extra clothes. Immediately after they left their homes, the buildings were occupied by armed men who considered it ‘war-booty from the Christians!’” 

It should be noted that the Faruq Brigade is operated by armed elements from al-Qaeda and various Wahhabi groups and it includes mercenaries from Libya and Iraq. Last month they destroyed two churches with rocket fire, burning one and severely damaging the other. 

Violence is As American As Cherry Pie

March 18th, 2012 by B. Nimri Aziz

Cherry Pie is a much loved American dessert. For most Americans cherry pie conjures up warm feelings of a bountiful family dinner followed by a slice of pie oozing red cherry syrup topped with a scoop of ice cream. Thus the poignancy of the maxim–“Violence is As American As Cherry Pie”. Some of us will remember and will understand this adage.

This was H Rap Brown’s (Jamil Abdallah Al-Amin) cogent summation of American culture 45 years ago. I remember it often–too often, reading the daily news.

Today ‘Violence is as American as Cherry Pie’ describes the massacre of 16 Afghans by an American serving his great superpower nation abroad.

Yesterday it was a knife attack at anemployment center, the day before that a shooting at a college, before that a bombing of shepherd boys in a far away mountainside, and before that US drone attacks on another foreign mountainside, then shootings in a neighborhood home in Ohio, a school, a military base, outside a courtroom.

It goes on and on, and on, daily in the US and wherever US military personnel and their killing machines are at work, “protecting” America and Americans across the world. The toll escapes us, as we move swiftly from headline to headline.

H. Rap Brown was Black Panther leader and chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. An articulate outspoken critic of American culture, he eventually became Jamil Al-Amin, settling in Atlanta Georgia. There he devoted himself to Islam and community service “reforming people’s lives and improving the community through this Divine program.” (In 2000, al-Amin was sent to prison for a murder for which many believe he was falsely accused.

H. Rap Brown’s saying came back to claim him as it continues to take so many of our Black American leaders. (Many maintain Al-Amin is a political prisoner whose real crime was “guiding others to Islam”. In May 2004, after Iraq’s Abu Graib prison revelations, in a published message Al-Amin writes “mistreatment in Iraqi prisons is only the tip of the iceberg and that Muslims in prisons inside the US ‘have been similarly trampled’. He emphasized that such misbehavior must be put within its context: It is an attempt to break Muslims,to strip them of their humanity and to trash their identity, dignity and self-respect

News headlines this past week pass over the violence in neighborhoods across the US to tell us of a deranged soldier-a lone gunman—as if this soldier himself is a victim of the war he served so gallantly.

The murder of Afghans that he reportedly single-handedly carried out is becoming a story of the mental problems experienced by our trained professional killers and a debate about when and how the US should leave Afghanistan.

Would that this event is understood as a ‘condition’ of American culture: “As American as Cherry Pie”. T

he problem is not in an army unit gone mad or in a military occupation.

It lies deep within US culture—the games children play, the language they use, the design of their cars, the books they read and the songs they sing.

Across the world, people understand this. Those biting into their cherry pie or watching the Baghdad sky “light up like a Christmas tree” cannot, alas.

March 15, 2012 by B. Nimri Aziz now also posted on www.RadioTahrir.org blog 

‘Israel Loves Iran’ initiative takes off on Facebook

March 18th, 2012 by Global Research

Online posters sending messages of love and peace draw widespread attention and support; Iranian citizens send messages of thanks and praise.

An online call for peace initiated by an Israeli couple has managed to achieve the support of 1,000 Israelis and Iranians. And it all began with two posters.

Ronny Edry and his wife Michal Tamir, together with “Pushpin Mehina”, a small preparatory school for graphic design students, uploaded posters to Facebook depicting images of themselves with their children alongside the words, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you.”

Attached to each poster was the caption, “To the Iranian people, To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters, For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you. I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm.”

“I’m not an official representative of my country. I m [sic] a father and a teacher”, wrote Edry, adding that he wishes to send a message on behalf of his neighbors, family, students and friends. “[W]e love you. We mean you no harm”, he wrote. “On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.”

In a conversation with Haaretz, Edry explained that he hoped his initiative would reach the Iranian citizens, but admitted that he never believed it would gain so much momentum. “On my Facebook page I have left-wing friends who always speak of these things; they all agree with me. Every so often a right-winger answers me saying what we’re on about is rubbish, but I’ve never spoken to an Iranian.”

“I thought that when you’re constantly surrounded by talk of threats and war, you are so stressed and afraid that you crawl into a sort of shell and think to yourself how lucky we are to also have bombs and how lucky we are that we’ll clean them out first,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if they [Iranians] really hate me?’”

At first, the posters were castigated, said Edry. “After the first poster people started criticizing me, saying I’m an idiot, that I’m naïve. ‘Why are you telling them you love them? Why are you giving up before the war has even started?’” But very quickly the posters became a hit: the first image gained hundreds of “Likes” and “Shares,” and numerous people asked to join the initiative.

It was not long before reactions from Iranians began trickling through. “I never imagined that within 48 hours I would be speaking to the other side,” said Edry, who explained that most of the Iranians’ messages had been coming through in private, but that there had been some who invited him to be their Facebook friend.

In a conversation that took place on Saturday evening, after a full day spent in front of the computer chatting to Israelis and Iranians, Edry was buzzing with excitement. “Something insane is going on here,” said Edry. “I was just having a conversation with a few Iranians, trying to convince them to send me photos of themselves, and they told me that we [Israelis] might be able to publish photos, but they risk going to jail over such a thing.” In the meanwhile, they conversed via private messages, with their identities concealed.

However, by Sunday morning, Edry began receiving the first signs of reactions from the other side.

“We also love you. Your words are reaching us despite the censorship,” wrote one Facebook user from Iran. “The Iranian people, apart from the regime, do not hold a grudge nor animosity against anyone, especially not the Israelis… We never saw Israelis as our enemies. As such, the regime cannot gain public support for war.”

“The hatred was invented by the propaganda of the regime, which will die soon”, continued the Iranian Facebook user. “The ayatollah will die soon. [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad will disappear. He is nothing more than an opportunist, and more than anything – an idiot. Everyone hates him. We love you, love, peace. And thanks for your message.”

By Sunday afternoon, faceless posters prepared by Iranians, sharing a similar message of thanks and love, were posted onto the Pushpin Mehina Facebook page and the ”Israel Loves Iran” blog.

How many memes does it take to stitch-up a war?

As Israel, the United States and their NATO allies set their sights on the “prize,” Iran’s vast petrochemical wealth, multiple themes have been floated by corporate media to make the case for war.

Since the 1980s, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and now, according to the Treasury Department, Iran’s alleged links to global narcotrafficking networks have all been evoked as clarion calls for “regime change.” It would serve us well however, to explore the recent history of the secret state’s reliance upon the illicit trade and how such dalliances advance America’s wider geopolitical goals.

Contras and Kosovars: CIA Shadow Wars

In the 1980s, it was the Sandinistas and “Castro-Communism” who did nicely for the Reagan administration. As money and weapons flowed to “our boys,” the Contras, they repaid the favor by massacring Nicaraguans by the tens of thousands for Uncle Sam while generously providing cocaine by the ton, to party-happy Americans during that “go-go” decade.

Indeed, when Colombian drug lords Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar began their profitable partnership, they did so alongside dope-dealing Bolivian fascists and Argentine neo-Nazi generals with long-standing ties to the CIA. As Consortium News revealed: “The putsch, which became known as the Cocaine Coup, installed [Luis] García Meza and other drug-connected military officers who promptly turned Bolivia into South America’s first modern narco-state. The secure supply of Bolivian cocaine was important to the development of the Medellín cartel in the early 1980s.”

In fact, it was Bolivian drug lord Roberto Suárez Goméz who financed the coup. With close ties to Pinochet’s regime in Chile and Argentina’s death squad generals, Suárez was a fixture amongst far-right international circles who generously distributed funds to South American affiliates of the Nazi-tainted World Anti-Communist League (WACL).

When WACL was founded in 1966 in Taipei as the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League (APACL), it first functioned as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the governments of Taiwan under dictator Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist narcocracy and the Republic of Korea, then under the iron rule of American ally, Park Chung Hee.

Amongst other notable members who founded WACL were Yoshio Kodama and Ryiochi Sasakawa, Class-A Japanese war criminals and fascists who were top leaders of post-war yakuza crime syndicates. Both men were billionaires who’s wealth derived from control over Asian drug, gambling and prostitution rackets. Imprisoned in 1945 for war crimes Sasakawa, along with Kodama and future Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, was saved from the gallows and released from prison in 1948, a result of his OSS-CIA connections. He once proudly stated: “I am the world’s richest fascist.” Both Kodama and Sasakawa operated alongside old “China hands” such as Paul Helliwell, who created CIA front companies linked to the drug traffic, Bangkok-based Sea Supply Corporation and the Taiwanese airline Civil Air Transport.

Indeed, it was none other than Sasakawa, the power behind the throne of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, who provided major funding for Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s intelligence-connected Unification Church, and WACL, key actors in Bolivia’s Cocaine Coup, facts you’re not likely to read in the Moon-owned Washington Times.

As analyst Peter Dale Scott wrote for Variant magazine, “In the post-war years, when the drug-financed China Lobby was strong in Washington, and the U.S. shipped arms and Chinese Nationalist troops into eastern Burma, opium production in that remote region increased almost five-fold in fifteen years, from less than 80 to 300-400 tons a year. Production doubled again in the 1960s, the heyday of the Kuomintang-CIA alliance in Southeast Asia.” In his most recent book, Scott noted:

The members of Helliwell’s small OSS detachment in Kunming (Helliwell, [E. Howard] Hunt, Ray Cline, Lucien Conein, and Mitchell WerBell) cast a long shadow over both postwar intelligence-drug triarchies and the WACL’s history. In addition to Helliwell’s support for KMT drug traffickers in Burma and Hunt’s contribution in Mexico, APACL’s formation is said to have owed a large debt to Ray Cline. In the late 1970s John Singlaub, another veteran of Kunming, took over the WACL. Lucien Conein became a case officer of the Vietnamese officials overseeing anticommunist drug networks, first Ngo Dinh Nhu and later police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan. Mitchell WerBell, who went on to develop small arms for intelligence services like the [Mexican] DFS, was also involved with WACL death squad patrons … and was eventually indicted himself on drug charges. (Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, Lanham, Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield, 2010, pp. 52-53)

Shortly after WACL’s formation, the organization was joined by representatives of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, an unsavory cabal of war criminals and Nazi collaborators led by Yaroslav Stetsko. When German armies invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Stetsko, then the leader of the collaborationist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists proclaimed the founding of a Ukrainian quisling state allied with the Third Reich. In the “Act of Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood,” Stetsko declared that Ukraine “will closely cooperate with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler which is forming a new order in Europe and the world.” After the war, Stetsko and his cohorts fled Europe along the Vatican’s infamous “ratlines” and took up the anticommunist cudgel for the United States while working alongside European and Latin American fascists connected to global drug networks.

As the corrupt García Meza regime consolidated power, they butchered leftists, peasants and union organizers and were assisted by Argentine “dirty war” specialists, CIA asset and escaped Nazi war criminal, Klaus Barbie and a motley crew of far-right terrorists. It was a thoroughly international affair. Fresh from fomenting bloodshed in Italy, Stefano Delle Chiaie, the architect of the 1980 Bologna railway station bombing which killed 85, a hard core Nazi with operational links to both the CIA and NATO’s Gladio network, put his unique “skills” to use building up the global drug trade and exporting terror into Central America. As left-wing researcher Stuart Christie documented:

One of the Delle Chiaie organisers in Latin America, West German Joachim Fiebelkorn (born 1947), a Paladin and Kampfbund Deutscher Soldaten veteran, as well as a Frankfurt pimp, who had worked with Delle Chiaie in Bolivia, stated later to the West German police that Delle Chiaie was the number one international middleman between the Sicilian Mafia and the Latin American cocaine producers. Based in a police barracks next to the West German Embassy in the capital, La Paz, the Delle Chiaie men, Los Novios de la Muerte–’The Fiancés of Death’–as they called themselves, were contracted as security guards and enforcers for the multinational drug empire of Roberto Suárez, described as the ‘King of Coca,’ overseeing the production, transportation, distribution and marketing of cocaine. (Stuart Christie, Stefano Delle Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist, London, Anarchy Magazine/Refract Publications, 1984)

Investigative journalists Marta Gurvich and Robert Parry reported that “many of the Argentine intelligence officers who assisted in the Cocaine Coup followed up their victory in Bolivia by moving northward into Central America to train a ragtag force of Nicaraguan contras.” By “1981,” Gurvich and Parry wrote, “President Reagan formally authorized the CIA to collaborate with the Argentine intelligence services in building up the contra army.”

Under the stewardship of CIA Director William Casey, the Company did more than just watch from the sidelines. With a wink-and-a-nod from the Reagan White House, they concluded that the Medellín Cartel, as they had earlier with Asian drug mafias, could be used to help defeat communism in Latin America. Together with the far-larger Cali Cartel, run by the enterprising Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, they did just that. It was estimated at the time that the CIA’s underworld “friends” made up to $60 million per month; chump change by today’s standards, but with the Sandinistas out of power by 1990, relations with Pablo Escobar soured.

In fact, as the National Security Archive revealed in previously classified documents, when Escobar was run to ground “key evidence” linked “the U.S.-Colombia task force charged with tracking down [the] fugitive … to one of Colombia’s most notorious paramilitary chiefs.” According to the Archive, “The affair sparked a special CIA investigation into whether U.S. intelligence was shared with Colombian terrorists and narcotraffickers every bit as dangerous as Escobar himself.” They had; a pattern that persists today as can readily be seen in the U.S. “war” against Mexico’s powerful Cartels.

As we now know, this great drug war “victory” in practice favored one corrupt Colombian faction over another with no discernible effects on the ground. Indeed, as Narco News reported, a leaked classified document written by Department of Justice attorney Thomas M. Kent “claims that federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in Bogotá, Colombia, are the corrupt players in the war on drugs.”

“Kent’s memorandum,” journalist Bill Conroy disclosed, “contains some of the most serious allegations ever raised against U.S. antinarcotics officers: that DEA agents on the front lines of the drug war in Colombia are on drug traffickers’ payrolls, complicit in the murders of informants who knew too much, and, most startlingly, directly involved in helping Colombia’s infamous rightwing paramilitary death squads to launder drug money.”

“The memo further claims that, rather than being simply a few ‘bad apples’ who need to be reported to their superiors, these allegedly dirty agents are being protected by an ongoing cover-up orchestrated by ‘watchdog’ agencies within the Justice Department,” Conroy wrote.

This was hardly an aberration but rather, emblematic of the corrupt nature of official U.S. policies going back decades. As we learned in the late 1990s, largely as a result of public outrage generated by the late Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance series, a secret Memorandum of Understanding between Reagan’s Justice Department and the Agency came to light. That 1982 memo legally freed the CIA from reporting drug smuggling and other crimes committed by their assets; a point to keep in mind when we explore U.S. allegations of corruption by top Iranian officials below.

Were these Cold War anomalies? Hardly.

When the “Great Triangulator” Bill Clinton took the helm in 1993, it was Slobodan Milošević who reprised the role of the century as Europe’s “new Hitler.” With the Cold War over, the Soviet “menace” a fleeting image in the rearview mirror, and with neoliberal economic “reforms” all the rage, America began its eastward expansion of NATO into the former Eastern Bloc. Yugoslavia, deemed an historical anachronism had to go, and so it did.

Never mind that before occupying the Oval Office, when he was governor of Arkansas Clinton deep-sixed investigations into illicit operations by legendary CIA drug pilot and DEA snitch Barry Seal. Indeed, Seal and his cohorts, as well-documented, flew vast quantities of drugs into Mena Airport for the Medellín Cartel in “protected” drug operations that helped fund the Nicaraguan Contras, as investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker reported for The Washington Weekly back in 1997.

Recapitulating a modus operandi which the secret state has relied upon since the end of World War Two, first in Asia and then globally, far-right political and religious extremists and drug trafficking organizations with ties to Western intelligence began working their magic in the Balkans.

Across the Atlantic, while the media obsessed over stains on Monica Lewinsky’s infamous blue dress, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia was in full-swing. America and Germany’s close allies, the secessionist Bosnian government under Alija Izetbegović, a darling of Western “humanitarian interventionists,” an Islamist fraudster who had expressed sympathies for the 13th Waffen SS Handschar Division during the war, which earned him a stint in a Yugoslav prison, provided thousands of veteran Afghan-Arab fighters passports and guns to help “liberate” Bosnia. As with NATO’s current “regime change” ops in Libya and Syria, Salafist jihadis aligned with a CIA shadow army which morphed into Al Qaeda, the “database,” poured into the region.

While Osama Bin Laden’s minions wrecked havoc in Bosnia, merrily butchering Jews, Roma and Serbs whilst establishing Saudi-financed Wahhabist “charities,” later in the decade they gained entrée into Kosovo where they joined NATO’s newest “best friends forever,” the Kosovo Liberation Army. Ruled with iron fists by gangsters Hashim Thaçi, Agim Çeku and Ramush Haradinaj, the KLA, aligned with Italian Mafiosi and Turkish crime bosses and ran highly-profitable heroin and prostitution rackets across Europe.

In 1999, The Montreal Gazette published an exposé reporting that “Kosovar Albanian rebels were linked to drugs by narcotics experts in Europe as early as 1994, while U.S. authorities warned in 1996 that Kosovars were smuggling large amounts of weapons and drugs. Police in various Western nations also noted the rising proportion of heroin being shipped to their countries through the Balkans, and the rise in crime and overdose deaths that accompanied the drug.”

Michael Levine, a 25-year DEA veteran and whistleblower who currently co-hosts The Expert Witness Radio Show, told the Gazette there was “no question” that American secret state agencies knew about the KLA’s drug ties.

“They (the CIA) protected them (the KLA) in every way they could,” Levine said. “As long as the CIA is protecting the KLA, you’ve got major drug pipelines protected from any police investigation.”

Writing for the Covert Action Quarterly, analyst Michel Chossudovsky reported that “While KLA leaders were shaking hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet, Europol (the European Police Organization based in The Hague) was ‘preparing a report for European interior and justice ministers on a connection between the KLA and Albanian drug gangs’.”

“In order to thrive,” Chossudovsky averred, “the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans ‘cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties’ including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo. In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.”

Following NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign, a template for today’s State Department-fomented “humanitarian interventions,” the former socialist Yugoslavia lay in ruins, the KLA had their narco-state and the Pentagon had Camp Bondsteel. By 2000, Thaçi’s “boys” had pushed aside Turkish and Italian mobsters and took control of the lucrative Balkan heroin pipeline and harvested human organs for sale on the international black market.

It was a victory all around.

We should keep Chossudovsky’s point in mind today, as “undercover political lobbies” such as the terrorist Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK) and their various fronts such as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) “cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment,” showering U.S. politicians and military elites with millions of dollars in “speaking fees” from unknown sources as The Christian Science Monitor exposed.

The New ‘Heroin Connection’

If the prospect of a “nuclear-armed” Iran isn’t enough to send red-blooded, God fearin’ Americans into a tizzy, then consider this zinger from RFE/RL: “U.S. Says Iranian General Instrumental In Afghan Drug Traffic.”

That’s right, the CIA’s former propaganda mouthpiece Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, smelling blood in the water and itching for a fight, informed us last week that the Obama administration “has named a general in Iran’s elite Al-Quds force as a key figure in trafficking heroin from Afghanistan.”

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, “General General Gholamreza Baghbani, who runs the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force office in Zahedan,” has been designated a “narcotics kingpin.”

We’re told that Baghbani has been accused “of aiding Afghan drug runners in moving opiates into and through Iran, as well helping send weapons to the Taliban.”

Guns in, drugs out; while it has a familiar ring to it, are we talking about Iran or NATO’s Central Asian outpost, Afghanistan?

According to a 1998 timeline inserted into the Congressional Record during the mark-up for the 1999 Intelligence Authorization Act we read the following:

Soviet-backed coup in Afghanistan sets stage for explosive growth in Southwest Asian heroin trade. New Marxist regime undertakes vigorous anti-narcotics campaign aimed at suppressing poppy production, triggering a revolt by semi-autonomous tribal groups that traditionally raised opium for export. The CIA-supported rebel Mujahedeen begins expanding production to finance their insurgency. Between 1982 and 1989, during which time the CIA ships billions of dollars in weapons and other aid to guerrilla forces, annual opium production in Afghanistan increases to about 800 tons from 250 tons. By 1986, the State Department admits that Afghanistan is ‘probably the world’s largest producer of opium for export’ and ‘the poppy source for a majority of the Southwest Asian heroin found in the United States.’ U.S. officials, however, fail to take action to curb production. Their silence not only serves to maintain public support for the Mujahedeen, it also smooths relations with Pakistan, whose leaders, deeply implicated in the heroin trade, help channel CIA support to the Afghan rebels.

Since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that pattern has been repeated. Afghan opium and heroin production has skyrocketed, primarily because NATO forces have aligned themselves, and propped up, those responsible for the dramatic rise in poppy cultivation: Hamid Karzai’s warlord-infested narco-state. But rather than pointing a finger at the source of what amount to protected drug rackets–the CIA and NATO–RFE/RL and their media accomplices are stitching-up the Islamic Republic for a fall. One more reason then, for launching a preemptive war.

But Iranian officials have charged that opium and heroin production in Afghanistan have had a severe impact inside Iran and, like Russia, have accused the U.S. of turning a blind eye when it comes to fighting opium production. Indeed, Sergei Blagov reported for ISN Security Watch that “Russia’s top officials have described the situation as ‘narco-aggression’ against Russia and a new ‘opium war’.”

“The Russian press,” Blagov wrote, “has been even less diplomatic, claiming that US and NATO forces were directly involved in the drug trade. Russian media outlets allege that the bulk of the drugs produced in Afghanistan’s southern and western provinces are shipped abroad on US planes.”

Commenting on the “creative destruction” wrought by NATO, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, wrote in The Daily Mail that the West’s “economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and ‘value-added’ operations.”

According to Murray, facts clearly established by multiple law enforcement agencies, Afghanistan “now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with Nato troops.”

“How can this have happened, and on this scale?” Murray wonders. “The answer is simple. The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government–the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.”

But let’s not let anything as inconvenient as facts get in the way of stopping Qom’s “new Hitlers”!

Far from being complicit in the drug trade, as Reuters reported, while Iran “is a main transit route for bringing heroin and opium to Western markets from Asia … the United Nations’ top anti-drugs official in Tehran praised the country for its efforts in stopping traffickers and seizing narcotics.”

“Definitely drug control is one of the positive stories (from Iran),” said Roberto Arbitrio, representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).”

“This is the first country in the world in terms of opiate seizures,” he told the news agency in an interview, referring to opium, morphine and heroin. “Last year it was 300 tons.”

If ubiquitous facts on the ground speak volumes then, as Reuters disclosed, “Iran’s campaign was showing results with the country seizing an estimated 20-40 percent of trafficked volumes, as compared to 5-10 percent in the United States and Europe;” a telling statistic not likely to be repeated by war-hungry media in the West.

Indeed, UNODOC reported last November that Iran, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan have entered into an agreement “designed to strengthen drug control among the three countries most seriously affected by Afghan opium. The initiative promotes information exchange and intelligence-led operations targeting the major transnational networks.”

“All three parties,” UNODOC’s Executive Director Yury Fedotov averred, have launched a “Triangular Initiative” that has already boosted “their cross-border counter-narcotics capacities.” Tellingly, a “joint planning cell has been established in Tehran to enhance analytical and operational capacity and to launch joint operations.” (emphasis added)

According to Fedotov, the planning and operational cell “has notched up successes. Since 2009, 12 drug control operations coordinated by the joint planning cell have resulted in the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrest of many drug traffickers.”

This is certainly not the message that war planners in Washington care to hear. But what can we learn closer to home where the Obama administration has the media’s ear and can exert influence over own America’s benighted “War on Drugs”?

When two planes filled with nearly ten tons of coke were seized in Mexico, in commercial jets tricked-out to resemble those flown by the Department of Homeland Security (see Daniel Hopsicker’s eye-opening archive on the story) or when the fourth largest U.S. bank, Wachovia, pled guilty to laundering $378.4 billion in drug money for Mexican drug cartels and got off with a slap on the wrist, or when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms let guns “walk” across the border, right into the hands of the CIA’s favorite narcotrafficking gang, the Sinaloa Cartel as Bill Conroy over at Narco News exposed (see the archive here), corporate media responded with a collective yawn.

In fact, Narco News revealed in December that in an upcoming trial in Chicago of one of the Sinaloa cartel’s top leaders, Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, federal prosecutors are seeking to bar defense evidence that U.S. government agencies, including the CIA and the DEA, had “entered into a pact with the leadership of the Mexican Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization that supposedly provide its chief narcos with immunity in exchange for them providing US authorities with information that could be used to target other narco-trafficking organizations.”

Conroy disclosed that “US prosecutors do confirm in court filings that another high-level Sinaloa ‘Cartel’ member, Mexican attorney Loya Castro, has worked as a DEA cooperating source for some 10 years (and as recently as this year) while also working for the Sinaloa organization.”

“Loya Castro, Narco News revealed, “acted as the intermediary representing the Sinaloa organization in its quid pro quo arrangement with the US government, Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings allege.” Indeed, to protect their dirty deals with Mexico’s largest drug gang, a multibillion dollar enterprise whose tentacles stretch across the Americas, the “US government, in court pleadings filed in September, lodged a motion in the case seeking to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA, a measure designed to assure national security information does not become public during court proceedings.”

What might threaten America’s “national security,” pray tell?

As Daniel Hopsicker disclosed last summer, when “embattled” acting ATF director Kenneth Melson testified before Congress he refused “to go down for a program [Fast and Furious] which he had little or nothing to do with originating.”

Pointing a finger at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Melson told congressional grifters that “the evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities.”

As Hopsicker pointed out, those “shadowy other government agencies” is “the very definition of the CIA.”

Hopsicker asked: “If the CIA is arming Mexican drug cartels, might they not also have been behind the otherwise-puzzling effort to supply these same drug lords with top-quality American-registered airplanes and jets?”

“Were the two now-infamous American-registered planes busted in Mexico’s Yucatan carrying almost ten tons of cocaine part of this same so-far unnamed Operation behind the ATF’s Operation Gunwalker?”

As we now know, at least one of the drug planes, “a Gulfstream business jet (N987SA)” Hopsicker revealed, were part of a fleet of fifty planes purchased through money laundered by Wachovia Bank as both Bloomberg Markets Magazine and The Observer reported, at least one of which were used to transport kidnapped “terrorist” suspects on CIA “ghost flights.”

But that’s all the past, we should “look forward, not backward.” Why bother with “ancient history” when there’s a new war to gin-up?

According to the Treasury Department press release, “The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) General Gholamreza Baghbani as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). This is the first use of the Kingpin Act against an Iranian official.”

“Today’s action exposes IRGC-QF involvement in trafficking narcotics, made doubly reprehensible here because it is done as part of a broader scheme to support terrorism. Treasury will continue exposing narcotics traffickers and terrorist supporters wherever they operate,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.

If Treasury Department allegations can be believed, and given Cohen’s role as Obama’s point-man for enforcing Iran sanctions the charges reek to high-heaven. “General Baghbani,” we’re told, “allowed Afghan narcotics traffickers to smuggle opiates through Iran in return for assistance. For example, Afghan narcotics traffickers moved weapons to the Taliban on behalf of Baghbani. In return, General Baghbani has helped facilitate the smuggling of heroin precursor chemicals through the Iranian border. He also helped facilitate shipments of opium into Iran.”

Jumping feet first into the fray, the right-wing Long War Journal, charge that “Al Qaeda is also known to facilitate travel for its operatives moving into Afghanistan from Mashad. Al Qaeda additionally uses the eastern [Iranian] cities of Tayyebat and Zahedan to funnel its operatives into Afghanistan.”

We’re told that “several [unnamed] Taliban commanders based in western Afghanistan have stated that they have received weapons, cash, and training from Iranian forces. Taliban commanders and units train inside Iran to conduct attacks against NATO and Afghan forces. In addition, al Qaeda operatives are also known to receive support from the Ansar Corps; Mashad is a transit point for al Qaeda operatives en route to Afghanistan.”

LWJ’s “proof”? Why none other than a 2010 statement from disgraced ISAF commander General Stanley McCrystal, who said that “Iran is training Taliban fighters and providing them with weapons”! Case closed, right?

But as with last year’s discredited Iranian “Qods Force” plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in an upscale Washington restaurant, evidence has since emerged that a key figure named in the conspiracy by failed Texas used-car salesman, Manssor Arbabsiar, alleged Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer Gholam Shakuri, has been fingered by Iranian officials and Interpol as a member of the Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK), according to Tehran Times.

Mehr News Agency reported that “Interpol has found new evidence showing that the number two suspect in connection with the alleged Iranian government’s involvement in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington is a key member of the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO).”

According to Mehr, “Gholam Shakuri was last seen in Washington and Camp Ashraf in Iraq where MKO members are based.”

Citing an Interpol report, the news agency alleged that “the person in question has been travelling to different countries under the names of Ali Shakuri/Gholam Shakuri/Gholam-Hossein Shakuri by using fake passports including forged Iranian passports. One passport used by the person was issued on 30/11/2006 in Washington. The passport number was K10295631.”

As with the now-discredited plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, allegedly to be carried out in cahoots with a member of Mexico’s violence-prone Zetas Cartel, who turned out to be a DEA informant, Treasury Department charges against General Gholamreza Baghbani should be taken with a grain of salt.

As journalist Gareth Porter noted in his investigation of the Arbabsiar plot, “the allegations that the Iranian-American used car salesman wanted to ‘attack’ the Saudi embassy and other targets rest entirely upon the testimony of the DEA informant with whom he was meeting. The informant is a drug dealer who had been indicted for a narcotics violation in a US state but had the charges dropped ‘in exchange for cooperation in various drug investigations,’ according to the FBI account. The informant is not an independent source of information, but someone paid to help pursue FBI objectives.”

Coming just days before the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), bowing to U.S. pressure, cut off 30 Iranian financial institutions, including its Central Bank, from its network in a bid to cripple Iran economically, the allegations against Baghbani should be viewed as another psychological component of America’s shadow war.

With lurid tales of Iranian involvement with the Taliban and the drug trade front and center, expect a new round of alarmist reports from Western media while the same punditocracy do their best to bury evidence of U.S. secret state complicity in the global drug scourge.

And why not? As Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime told The Observer in 2009, “he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were ‘the only liquid investment capital’ available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.”

After all, $352 billion buys a lot of omertà.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

9/11 Truth, Inner Consciousness and the “Public Mind”

March 18th, 2012 by Prof. James F. Tracy

With few exceptions the news that will shape public discourse is subject to a de facto censorial process of powerful government and corporate elites beyond accountability to the public. It is here that Sigmund Freud’s notion of repression is especially helpful for assessing the decrepit state of media and public discourse in the United States. In Freud’s view, one’s collective life experiences are registered in the subconscious, with those particularly disturbing or socially impermissible experiences being involuntarily suppressed, only later to emerge as neuroses. Whereas suppression is conscious and voluntary, repression takes place apart from individual volition.

With opinion polls indicating at least half of the public distrusting the official account of September 11th, the foremost basis for the “war on terror”, no public event has been more repressed in public consciousness via the mass media than 9/11. The enduring usefulness of Freud’s theory is suggested in repeated manifestations of the repressed episode to haunt the public mind for which a surrogate reality has been crafted.

Peter Dale Scott describes occasions such as the assassination of President John Kennedy and September 11th as “deep events” because of their historical complexity and linkages with the many facets of “deep government”—the country’s military and intelligence communities and their undertakings. The failure to adequately explain and acknowledge deep events and pursue their appropriate preventative remedies leads to continued deceptions where unpleasant experiences are contained and a new “reality” is imposed on the public mind.  Together with the notion of repression, the term is also applicable for considering how instances of such historical import are dealt with in mass psychological terms, or, more specifically, by ostensibly independent alternative news media capable of recollecting the real.

For example, on May 1, 2011 President Obama announced the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the mythic mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to an apparently ecstatic nation. Most conventional news outlets reported Obama’s announcement unquestioningly because it fit the scheme of their overall erroneous reportage on September 11th. When alternative news media and bloggers almost immediately pointed to various contradictions in the story—the observations of eye witnesses to the raid, doctored photos of bin Laden’s alleged corpse, and international press reports that Bin Laden died many years prior—corporate news outlets acted swiftly to repress the well-reasoned critiques as “conspiracy theories” with a barrage of swiftly-produced editorials and op-eds. Indeed, the announcement of Bin Laden’s supposed demise came just four days after the Obama administration released the president’s purportedly authentic long-form birth certificate, an event at once uncannily amplified and repressed by the proclamation of bin Laden’s fate; where the vocabulary of repression produced another term, “deather”.

Again, the life of a lie is predicated on the success of subsequent deceit and the strength of the alternate experience created to stand in for the truth. Nowhere is the repression and revision of the memory of September 11th more acute than in progressive news media claiming to offer an alternative to corporate-controlled journalism. Some of these media themselves have multi-million dollar annual budgets and are especially open to manipulation by elite interests, often through self-censorship, via corporate underwriters and grants from powerful, tax-exempt foundations.

The Democracy Now! news hour is a case in point. A markedly persuasive program with a highly-educated and influential audience, Democracy Now! has substantial credibility, much of which was earned through its scrutiny of the George W. Bush administration and the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is through the use of this credibility that Goodman and Democracy Now! have consciously suppressed serious questions pertaining to September 11th, thereby playing an important role in dividing the 9/11 Truth movement from its antiwar counterpart and cultivating the latter, with its inevitable confused detachment from history.

The success of Democracy Now! in this regard lies in its adherents’ belief that it represents an authentically radical alternative to mainstream news—a claim that has some validity given the program’s willingness to address race and gender-related issues and its copious attention to acts of social protest. In terms of analysis, however, Democracy Now’s coverage is at best lacking and at worst outright misleading, bearing more of a resemblance to its mainstream equivalents than real alternative news outlets. This phenomenon has only increased despite the Obama administration’s intensification of many policies begun under its predecessor.

A working example is Democracy Now’s coverage of the so-called “Arab spring” over the past several months. While reports from alternative and international news outlets have pointed to the ties between the Libyan and Syrian “opposition” and the intelligence and military apparatuses of NATO’s leading countries—Britain and the United States—Democracy Now! has fallen into lockstep with corporate news outlets that have valorized such forces as fighting against the tyrannical Gaddafi and Saad regimes. In the case of Syria there are conflicting reports on whether the Saad regime or death squads run out of Turkey by NATO are in fact responsible for the many deaths that have occurred over the past year. The Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya networks along with allegedly independent human rights groups have depicted the Saad regime as responsible for much of the Syrian bloodshed. Democracy Now! parrots and reinforces such reports without question, even though genuinely alternative media have scrutinized these claims.

In November 2011 the independent journalist Webster Tarpley journeyed to Syria to conduct a firsthand investigation of the Saad regime’s alleged brutality. His findings utterly diverge with those many western audiences had become used to. After interviewing Syrian officials and embarking on unescorted tours of Syria over a two week period, where he spoke to dozens of Syrian commoners, Tarpley reported that almost all of the violence was chiefly attributable to the same forces involved in the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya. While innocent pedestrians have been subject to bombings and being targeted by snipers and death squads—recognized techniques of US forces from El Salvador to Iraq to provoke ethnic division and civil war—the Syrians Tarpley spoke to held the Saad regime in high regard and wanted an increased Syrian army presence to prevent such attacks.

Tarpley broadcast from Syria on his own weekly World Crisis Radio program and proceeded to report his findings on alternative outlets, including Russia Today, Iran’s Press TV, Alex Jones, and Jeff Rense. Despite the notoriety Tarpley was absent from Democracy Now! and like avenues, in all probability not just because of his unorthodox conclusions on the “Arab spring”, but also an intellectual honesty that steered him toward, among other endeavors, a rigorous and unadorned interrogation of September 11th, thus placing him beyond the pale of the Left’s permissible discussion and dissent.

The repression and revised imposition of September 11th and the attendant “war on terror” on the public mind have important implications not only for the integrity of public discourse, but also for the collective sanity of western culture and civilization. As crafted by dominant news media 9/11 has become the cracked lens through which we view and conceive of our own history, identity, and purpose. Each act of subverting or evading factual accounts of actually existing events manifests itself as a small fissure in the broader edifice of truth and rationality. So does it also contribute to furthering the designs of broader forces seeking to build a once seemingly pretend brave new world.

The Roots of Israeli Behavior: Sabotage Peace at any Cost

March 18th, 2012 by Adrian Salbuchi

On the morning of 17th March 1992, a tremendous explosion ripped through downtown Buenos Aires.  A fashionable 3-storey building housing the Israeli Embassy had been terror-bombed, collapsing into itself.  The powerful shockwave broke windows and plaster in buildings on the corner of Arroyo and Suipacha streets.  In all, 29 people were killed and 242 injured.  Twenty years on, we still don’t know who did it…

A little over two years later, this unsolved mystery would become inextricably linked with yet another, more devastating terror bombing in downtown Buenos Aires that on 18th July 1994 demolished the AMIA/DAIA Jewish Mutual Association building a dozen blocks away, this time killing 80 and injuring 300.

Since then, both investigations have been maliciously mishandled, purposely embroiled, grossly interfered with by the governments of Israel and the United States, and have become riddled with local and foreign corruption, cover-ups and deceit.  The years went by, acting judges were replaced, some even impeached, however both attacks remain unsolved.   Israel and the US continue in their quest of putting the blame on Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah… No matter what!

Israel insists that both explosions were caused by “car bombs”, but no car bombs were ever found. The AMIA building which also housed the local Zionist political lobby “DAIA” was at the time led by its banker president Rubén Beraja who funded a u$s 400.000 kickback to a local used-car crook (with the agreement of presiding judge Juan Galeano!), so that he would implicate Hamas and Hezbollah (Beraja was later jailed for collapsing his own bank).  

To understand all of this, there are subtler aspects that can both help to shed light on these attacks as well as help understand the roots of Israeli behaviour.  Especially in what refers to the often violent conflicts that exist inside Israel between moderate sectors who genuinely desire peace with the Palestinians and extreme right-wing fundamentalists who seem willing to go to any extreme to sabotage peace, to ensure that their Messianic dreams of an “Eretz Israel” – a Jewish Empire spanning from the Nile to the Euphrates – may one day come true.  This conflict takes on a global character when they extend out to the Jewish Diaspora, including Argentina’s large Jewish community.

Thus, the bombings in Argentina take on a different dimension when inserted within a timeline of key milestones in these intra-Israeli conflicts:

30 Sept 1991 – Start of the US-sponsored Madrid Peace Conference between Israelis and Palestinians. Increasingly, the ultra right-wing fundamentalist settlers’ movement in Israel goes on the warpath.

17 March 1992 – At 2:50PM, just after a top level lunch of Israeli government and security officers hosted by the Ambassador leaves the Israeli Embassy building in Buenos Aires, the bomb went off. 

13 July 1992 – Rabin elected prime minister. He quickly re-shuffled the Shin Beth, Israel’s secret service in charge of investigating fundamentalist Jewish settler movement groups inside Israel, and of providing security for Israel’s embassies abroad.

August 1992 – Rabin declares Israel will return the Golan Heights to Syria

13 Sept 1993 – Israel and PLO sign Oslo Accords, mutually recognizing each other: the famous Rabin / Arafat / Clinton handshake on the White House lawn.

25 Feb 1994 (Purim Feast) – US Jewish fanatic Baruch Goldstein easily passes Israeli Army checkpoints in Hebron carrying a machine gun with which he opened fire on Palestinians at prayer in the Cave of the Patriarchs Mosque, killing 29, injuring 125.  Goldstein was beaten to death and his tomb soon became a pilgrimage shrine for Israeli settlers.

Feb to May 1994 – Cairo Agreements between Israel and Palestine establish borders of Gaza and Jericho.

1 July 1994 – After 27 years in exile Rabin allows Yasser Arafat back into Palestine.  Anger peaks in the ranks of Israeli settler hardliners.

18 July 1994 – Terror bombing of the AMIA Jewish Mutual Building in Buenos Aires, at that time very pro-Rabin/Labour.

26 Oct 1994 – Peace Treaty signed between Israel and Jordan

28 Sept 1995 – Taba-Oslo II Agreements signed over Palestine conflict

4 November 1995 – Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated at a rally in Tel Aviv.  His assassin was neither an Islamic Fundamentalist nor a Neo-Nazi, but rather a young fundamentalist close to the Jewish Settler movement, also linked to Shin Beth (Ygal Amir).   Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar presided the Shamgar Commission that investigated the assassination, concluding in March 1996 that Shin Beth was responsible for exposing Rabin to “serious risks,” and for failing to act on threats against his life made by Jewish extremists.

The really serious geopolitical consequences of Rabin’s assassination were that Israel’s moderate Labour Party was quickly replaced by the ultra the rightwing leadership of the Likud and Kadima parties: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and today, again, Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman.

Since then, they have abandoned “Peace for Territory” policies, replacing them with militant ethnic cleansing as described by former president Jimmy Carter in his 2006 book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid”. 

When both terror bombings in Argentina are inserted within this timeline of internal events in Israel, we get an inkling of why they have not been solved. 

Because although Israel – as usual, dragging the US behind it – insists that Iran/Syria/Hamas/Hezbollah perpetrated both terror bombings and grossly interfere with Argentina’s judiciary and executive powers, a different more plausible scenario has yet to be investigated: that Israeli intelligence and secret services themselves may have been directly involved in both attacks, within the logic of increasing intra-Israeli violence taking place in the nineties.

Since the obviously false “Iranian and Syrian connections” never got anywhere, perhaps it’s time for Argentine and international authorities to recommend pursuing a possible “Israeli Connection” into both attacks.

In the case of the Embassy bombing, in 1996 Argentina’s Supreme Court ordered the National Academy of Engineers to make a thorough survey and investigation into what caused the explosion.  They concluded it occurred deep inside the Embassy building, which means, no car bomb. 

In August of that year a public row erupted between Supreme Court president Julio Nazareno and then Israeli Ambassador to Argentina Itzhak Aviram, with the latter insulting the Court over its findings.  Hysterical shrieks of “Anti-Semitism!” were very much in the air… 

If it were to turn out to be true that Israeli players were behind both terror bombings, then it’s important that the international community should insist on clarifying both events, so that we may know who was really to blame. 

Israel’s insistence that Iran is to blame can and will be used by them, the US, UK and France, to further their frenzied search for an excuse to unilaterally attack Iran.  Today’s Israeli Ambassador to Argentina, Daniel Gazit, insists: “we believe Iran is to blame”; he even talks about a coming “third terror attack against Jewish interests in Argentina”.

Now, who could be planning that?!?    Clearly, the world needs to better understand some of the more subtle fundamentals regarding the roots of Israeli behaviour.  That will, no doubt, help promote world peace.

­Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator based in Argentina. www.asalbuchi.com.ar  

The Media’s Coverup of the Afghan Massacre

March 18th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

In all US war theaters, troops commit unspeakable atrocities. Trained to dehumanize enemies, their mission involves killing, destruction, and much more.


Local treasures are looted. Women are raped. Civilians are treated like combatants. Children are indiscriminately harmed like adults. Prisoners are tortured. Mutilations are common. Crimes of war and against humanity are institutionalized.  

Viciousness defines US wars. No crime’s too great to commit. Human lives are valueless. Only winning matters, then on to the next war. Lies, deception, unspeakable brutality, and cover-up define them.

The media are directly complicit, including claiming one soldier murdered 16 Afgans on March 11. Credible evidence suggests up to 20 soldiers involved. Claiming a lone gunman defiles the atrocity’s affect on living family members, friends, and other Afghans victimized by numerous similar incidents.

Cover-up prevents information coming out and prosecutions. Rarely are US forces held accountable. Commanders routinely get off scot-free, including ones ordering troops to kill all Iraqi and Afghan men on sight, combatants and civilians.

According to US Major General James Mattis, “It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be up-front with you. I like brawling.” Murdered civilians are repulsively called “collateral damage.” Mattis isn’t alone. Commanders and enlisted troops are involved.

Afghan combatant bodies are burned in violation of international law and US military code. Culpable troops aren’t punished. Civilians are killed for sport. At times, their fingers and other body parts are kept as trophies. Photos are taken as souveniers. Similar abuses are common in all US wars. Lies and cover-up suppress them.

“Kill teams” are deployed. Indiscriminate murder, sadism, and other atrocities are committed, most often with impunity. It’s done for sport and lust. Celebratory high-fives follow. 

Rarely ever are soldiers like Jeremy Morlock punished. Others guilty like him get off scot-free, especially commanders. His 5th Stryker Brigade committed countless murders and atrocities. Cover-up involved staging incidents to look like defensive actions against attacks. Pentagon apologies ring hollow. Soldiers are trained to kill reflexively. 

America’s Tortured Past

US history reflects atrocities. Native Americans were slaughtered, starved, neglected, exposed to deadly pathogens, and virtually exterminated.

In the antebellum South, slaves were tortured by whipping, painful restraints, prolonged isolation in sealed sheds with choking tobacco smoke, and other punishments. Theodore Roosevelt defended water torture (today’s waterboarding) called the “water cure” to extract confessions from Filipinos because “nobody was seriously damaged.”

In 1995, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39). It authorized extraordinary rendition for interrogations and torture.

In his book, “War Without Mercy,” John Dower documented Pacific War atrocities by both sides. American forces “mutilat(ed) Japanese war dead for souvenirs, attack(ed) and (sank) hospital ships, sho(t) sailers who had abandoned ship and pilots who had bailed out, kill(ed) wounded soldiers on the battlefield, and tortur(ed) and execut(ed) prisoners.”

Atrocities included torturing and buying combatants alive. In the Korean War, mass indiscriminate killings of civilians were commonplace. Entire towns and villages were incinerated and their populations exterminated, including women and children.

Combatants and civilians were buried alive, burned, drowned, shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. Women had their breasts, legs, and arms cut off. Others were beheaded. Thousands of civilians were brutally tortured. One family of six was hanged upside down from a tree and burned alive. Another civilian was skinned alive, then burned to death.

Others were murdered with bats, spears, stones, sticks, clubs, flails, and pickaxes. Women were assaulted and raped. US forces massacred tens of thousands of civilians systematically, ruthlessly, and brutally. Some were disemboweled alive.

Vietnam was similar. Atrocities were widespread and commonplace. They included massacres, rapes, torture, mutilations, wanton mass destruction, use of chemical and biological weapons, and much more.

US forces got carte blanche to carpet bomb, incinerate entire villages, burn people alive, fire freely on civilians, murder wounded prisoners, beat them to death, throw them out of helicopters, torture sadistically, gang rape young girls, and commit every other imaginable atrocity to people General William Westmoreland called “worthless termites.”

Operation Phoenix death squads murdered thousands of Vietnamese. Some were alleged high-value targets, others noncombatant civilians. Foreign Service officer Wayne Cooper called the operation a “disreputable, CIA-inspired effort, often deplored as a bloody-handed assassination program (and) a failure.” Before it ended, 80,000 or more died.

Throughout the Iraq and Afghan wars, Special Forces death squads murdered thousands of targeted subjects and others indiscriminately. Daily killing field slaughter continues. 

Bush authorized them. So did Obama. Both approved global covert operations. Obama OK’d killing US civilians. Sociologist Emile Durkheim once said, “The immorality of war depends entirely on the leaders who willed it.” 

Nuremberg prosecutor Justice Robert Jackson denounced “men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberative and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”

International and US laws are clear and unequivocal. So are US military standards, including Army Field Manual 27-10. It incorporates Nuremberg and Law of Land Warfare (1956) principles.

It prohibits any military or civilian personnel to the highest levels from committing crimes under international and US laws. It also requires disobeying illegal orders.

Nonetheless, mass murder, torture, and other atrocities are committed like sport virtually daily. They define all US wars. 

Richard Nixon once told Henry Kissinger, “We’re gonna level that goddam country. We’re gonna hit ‘em, bomb the livin’ bejusus out of ‘em.” Kissinger approved, saying, “Mr. President, I will enthusiastically support that, and I think it’s the right thing to do.” After all they’re just “worthless termites.”

Major Media Scoundrels: Guilt by Complicity

Compared to America’s bloodstained history, killing 16 Afghan civilians on March 11 was a drop in the ocean. Yet it was too much for major media scoundrels to provide truth and full disclosure.

Various reports, including Russia Today, said up to 20 US troops were involved in the incident, not a lone sergeant. He’s been hung out to dry to absolve others, including commanders who deploy them on missions, as well as top US military and civilian officials who approve America waging lawless wars of aggression. 

An Afghan parliamentary investigation team contradicts Pentagon lies. Two days were spent collecting eyewitness accounts, including from survivors. Investigator Hamizai Lali told Afghan News:

“We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most have been killed by the two groups.”

He believes up to 20 soldiers were involved. Half their victims were children aged two through 12. He appealed for international help to disclose the truth and assure those responsible are punished in Afghan, not US, courts.

Investigatory team head Sayed Ishaq Gillani said witnesses reported seeing helicopters dropping chaff during the attack to hide targets from ground attacks.

Villagers said victims offered no resistance. Nonetheless, they were gunned down in cold-blood. Night raids like this are commonplace. Despite public outrage, US commanders said they’ll continue. Innocent civilians are murdered repeatedly. 

One surviving family member said:

“I don’t want any compensation. I don’t want money. I don’t want a trip to Mecca. I don’t want a house. I want nothing. But what I absolutely want is the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand and my demand.”

His brother died in the slaughter. The Pentagon named one gunman, now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He was whisked out of Afghanistan, flown to Kwait, then to army prison at Fort Leavenworth, KS Friday.

Afghan army head General Sher Mohammad Karimi said US military officials “ignored and blocked” his attempt to investigate the incident. They also prevented Afghan officials from interrogating Bales.

In lockstep, US media scoundrels regurgitated Pentagon lies. Outrageously, the Washington Post quoted Captain Chris Alexander, Bales’ platoon commander, saying he’s “hands down, one of the best soldiers I ever worked with.”

In fact, he like other death squad members are cold-blooded killers. The Post also quoted Bales commenting on his participation in a 2007 Iraq battle, saying:

“We discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us. I think that’s the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm’s way like that.”

The quote’s so deplorable it sounds like someone made it up, but Post scoundrels made it look legitimate to portray Bales more as hero than cold-blooded killer.

A Pentagon statement said Bales received over a dozen medals and badges for combat service and good conduct. His wife Karilyn was quoted, saying “all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends.”

The Post suppressed evidence that up to 20 US soldiers were involved, or that numerous other atrocities like this occur regularly. 

The New York Times was just as shameless. Cover-up and denial suppressed vital truths. Bales alone was mentioned. The article said he was injured twice in previous deployments and cited his lawyer calling his military record exemplary. 

How much more blood has he on his hands? For sure plenty, but this was the first time he got caught. Moreover, The Times, like the Post, characterizes him as heroic, not villainous.

In medium security confinement, he’s yet to be charged a week after the incident. The Times said Pentagon officials found no clues explaining what “motivated the killings.”

They lied, saying:

“When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues. He just snapped.”

Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, dismissed allegations of family problems and drinking. He said his family hoped he’d avoid this deployment after three previous ones. He also called him “mild-mannered.”

In lockstep with other US media scoundrels, The Times article suppressed what readers most deserve to know – the full truth about death squad killings as policy, and the many thousands of noncombatant Afghans, Iraqis, and earlier victims affected.

Blaming this incident on a lone gunman suppresses the gravity of what goes on routinely and the responsibility up the chain of command to Joint Chief heads, Defense Secretary Panetta, and Obama. 

It also defiles the pain and suffering of surviving family members, relatives, friends, and others victimized by similar incidents.

Nothing compensates for their loss. Afghans want US occupiers out of their country immediately. After over a decade of daily atrocities, they want what no one should endure finally ended. 

It’s their country, their lives, and their right. It’s true everywhere America shows up. Death, destruction, and vicious occupation follows. Iraqis and Libyans feel the same way. Can you blame them?

Awar-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]


Also 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/.

In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.

Not only that, but the authority claimed inside the EO does not only apply to National Emergencies and times of war. It also applies in peacetime.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order exploits the “authority” granted to the President in the Defense Production Act of 1950 in order to assert that virtually every means of human survival is now available for confiscation and control by the President via his and his Secretaries’ whim.

The unconstitutionality of the overwhelming majority of Executive Orders is well established, as well as the illegality of denying citizens their basic Constitutional and human rights, even in the event of a legitimate national emergency. Likewise, it should also be pointed out that, like Obama’s recent Libyan adventure and the foregone conclusion of a Syrian intervention, there is no mention of Congress beyond a minor role of keeping the allegedly co-equal branch of government informed on contextually meaningless developments.

As was mentioned above, the scope of the EO is virtually all-encompassing. For instance, in “Section 201 – Priorities and Allocations Authorities,” the EO explains that the authority for the actions described in the opening paragraph rests with the President but is now delegated to the various Secretaries of the U.S. Federal Government. The list of delegations and the responsibility of the Secretaries as provided in this section are as follows:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.
One need only to read the “Definitions” section of the EO in order to clearly see that terms such as “food resources” is an umbrella that includes literally every form of food and food-related product that could in any way be beneficial to human survival.
That being said, “Section 601 – Secretary of Labor” delegates special responsibilities to the Secretary of Labor as it involves not just materials citizens will need for survival, but the actual citizens themselves.
Obviously, the ability of the U.S. government to induct and draft citizens into the military against their will is, although a clear violation of their rights, not an issue considered shocking by its nature of having been invoked so many times in the past. Logically, this “authority” is provided for in this section.
However, what may be shocking is the fact that Section 601 also provides for the mobilization of “labor” for purposes of the national defense.  Although some subsections read that evaluations are to be made regarding the “effect and demand of labor utilization,” the implication is that “labor” (meaning American workers) will be considered yet one more resource to be seized for the purposes of “national defense.” The EO reads,
Sec. 601. Secretary of Labor. (a) The Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other agencies, as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, shall:
(1) collect and maintain data necessary to make a continuing appraisal of the Nation’s workforce needs for purposes of national defense;
(2) upon request by the Director of Selective Service, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, assist the Director of Selective Service in development of policies regulating the induction and deferment of persons for duty in the armed services;
(3) upon request from the head of an agency with authority under this order, consult with that agency with respect to: (i) the effect of contemplated actions on labor demand and utilization; (ii) the relation of labor demand to materials and facilities requirements; and (iii) such other matters as will assist in making the exercise of priority and allocations functions consistent with effective utilization and distribution of labor;
Notice that the language of the EO does not state “in the event of a national emergency.” Instead, we are given the term “purposes of national defense.” This is because the “authorities” assumed by the President have been assumed not just for arbitrary declarations of “national emergency” but for peacetime as well. Indeed, the EO states this much directly when it says,
The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(b)(1) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(b)(1), to take appropriate action to ensure that critical components, critical technology items, essential materials, and industrial resources are available from reliable sources when needed to meet defense requirements during peacetime, graduated mobilization, and national emergency.
Presidential Executive Orders have long been used illegally by Presidents of every political shade and have often been used destroy the rights of American citizens. Although history has often come to judge these orders as both immoral and unconstitutional, the fact is that the victims of the orders suffered no less because of the retroactive judgment of their progeny. It is for this reason that we must immediately condemn and resist such obvious usurpation as is currently being attempted by the U.S. government.
Nevertheless, some have no doubt begun to wonder why the President has signed such an order. Not only that, but why did he sign the order now? Is it because of the looming war with Iran or the Third World War that will likely result from such a conflict? Is it because of the ticking time bomb called the economy that is only one jittery move or trade deal away from total disintegration? Is it because of a growing sense of hatred of their government amongst the general public? Is there a coming natural disaster of which we are unaware? Are there plans for martial law?
Whatever the reason for the recent announcement of Obama’s new Executive Order, there is one thing we do know for sure – “It wouldn’t happen here” has been the swan song of almost every victim of democide in modern human history.

Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions. Turbeville has published over one hundred articles dealing with a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville is available for podcast, radio, and TV interviews. Please contact us at activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

ANNEX:  Complete text of the Executive order.

Source: the White House, March 16, 2012

EXECUTIVE ORDER

NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

PART I  –  PURPOSE, POLICY, AND IMPLEMENTATION

Section 101.  Purpose.  This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the “Act”).

Sec. 102.  Policy.  The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.  The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness.  The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.

Sec. 103.  General Functions.  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall:

(a)  identify requirements for the full spectrum of emergencies, including essential military and civilian demand;

(b)  assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;

(c)  be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements;

(d)  improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the domestic industrial base to support national defense requirements; and

(e)  foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, services, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness.

Sec. 104.  Implementation.  (a)  The National Security Council and Homeland Security Council, in conjunction with the National Economic Council, shall serve as the integrated policymaking forum for consideration and formulation of national defense resource preparedness policy and shall make recommendations to the President on the use of authorities under the Act.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(1)  advise the President on issues of national defense resource preparedness and on the use of the authorities and functions delegated by this order;

(2)  provide for the central coordination of the plans and programs incident to authorities and functions delegated under this order, and provide guidance to agencies assigned functions under this order, developed in consultation with such agencies; and

(3)  report to the President periodically concerning all program activities conducted pursuant to this order.

(c)  The Defense Production Act Committee, described in section 701 of this order, shall:

(1)  in a manner consistent with section 2(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2062(b), advise the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy on the effective use of the authorities under the Act; and

(2)  prepare and coordinate an annual report to the Congress pursuant to section 722(d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171(d).

(d)  The Secretary of Commerce, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other agencies, shall:

(1)  analyze potential effects of national emergencies on actual production capability, taking into account the entire production system, including shortages of resources, and develop recommended preparedness measures to strengthen capabilities for production increases in national emergencies; and

(2)  perform industry analyses to assess capabilities of the industrial base to support the national defense, and develop policy recommendations to improve the international competitiveness of specific domestic industries and their abilities to meet national defense program needs.

PART II  -  PRIORITIES AND ALLOCATIONS

Sec. 201.  Priorities and Allocations Authorities.  (a)  The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:

(1)  the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2)  the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3)  the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4)  the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5)  the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6)  the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

(b)  The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.  Each Secretary shall authorize the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, to place priority ratings on contracts and orders for materials, services, and facilities needed in support of programs approved under section 202 of this order.

(c)  Each resource department shall act, as necessary and appropriate, upon requests for special priorities assistance, as defined by section 801(l) of this order, in a time frame consistent with the urgency of the need at hand.  In situations where there are competing program requirements for limited resources, the resource department shall consult with the Secretary who made the required determination under section 202 of this order.  Such Secretary shall coordinate with and identify for the resource department which program requirements to prioritize on the basis of operational urgency.  In situations involving more than one Secretary making such a required determination under section 202 of this order, the Secretaries shall coordinate with and identify for the resource department which program requirements should receive priority on the basis of operational urgency.

(d)  If agreement cannot be reached between two such Secretaries, then the issue shall be referred to the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

(e)  The Secretary of each resource department, when necessary, shall make the finding required under section 101(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(b).  This finding shall be submitted for the President’s approval through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.  Upon such approval, the Secretary of the resource department that made the finding may use the authority of section 101(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(a), to control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market.

Sec. 202.  Determinations.  Except as provided in section 201(e) of this order, the authority delegated by section 201 of this order may be used only to support programs that have been determined in writing as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense:

(a)  by the Secretary of Defense with respect to military production and construction, military assistance to foreign nations, military use of civil transportation, stockpiles managed by the Department of Defense, space, and directly related activities;

(b)  by the Secretary of Energy with respect to energy production and construction, distribution and use, and directly related activities; and

(c)  by the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to all other national defense programs, including civil defense and continuity of Government.

Sec. 203.  Maximizing Domestic Energy Supplies.  The authorities of the President under section 101(c)(1) (2) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(c)(1) (2), are delegated to the Secretary of Commerce, with the exception that the authority to make findings that materials (including equipment), services, and facilities are critical and essential, as described in section 101(c)(2)(A) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(c)(2)(A), is delegated to the Secretary of Energy.

Sec. 204.  Chemical and Biological Warfare.  The authority of the President conferred by section 104(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2074(b), is delegated to the Secretary of Defense.  This authority may not be further delegated by the Secretary.

PART III  –  EXPANSION OF PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY AND SUPPLY

Sec. 301.  Loan Guarantees.  (a)  To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense, as defined in section 801(h) of this order, is authorized pursuant to section 301 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, to guarantee loans by private institutions.

(b)  Each guaranteeing agency is designated and authorized to:  (1) act as fiscal agent in the making of its own guarantee contracts and in otherwise carrying out the purposes of section 301 of the Act; and (2) contract with any Federal Reserve Bank to assist the agency in serving as fiscal agent.

(c)  Terms and conditions of guarantees under this authority shall be determined in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The guaranteeing agency is authorized, following such consultation, to prescribe:  (1) either specifically or by maximum limits or otherwise, rates of interest, guarantee and commitment fees, and other charges which may be made in connection with such guarantee contracts; and (2) regulations governing the forms and procedures (which shall be uniform to the extent practicable) to be utilized in connection therewith.

Sec. 302.  Loans.  To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 302 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2092, to make loans thereunder.  Terms and conditions of loans under this authority shall be determined in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB.

Sec. 303.  Additional Authorities.  (a)  To create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore domestic industrial base capabilities essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093, to make provision for purchases of, or commitments to purchase, an industrial resource or a critical technology item for Government use or resale, and to make provision for the development of production capabilities, and for the increased use of emerging technologies in security program applications, and to enable rapid transition of emerging technologies.

(b)  Materials acquired under section 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093, that exceed the needs of the programs under the Act may be transferred to the National Defense Stockpile, if, in the judgment of the Secretary of Defense as the National Defense Stockpile Manager, such transfers are in the public interest.

Sec. 304.  Subsidy Payments.  To ensure the supply of raw or nonprocessed materials from high cost sources, or to ensure maximum production or supply in any area at stable prices of any materials in light of a temporary increase in transportation cost, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(c) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(c), to make subsidy payments, after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB.

Sec. 305.  Determinations and Findings.  (a)  Pursuant to budget authority provided by an appropriations act in advance for credit assistance under section 301 or 302 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, and consistent with the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as amended (FCRA), 2 U.S.C. 661 et seq., the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority to make the determinations set forth in sections 301(a)(2) and 302(b)(2) of the Act, in consultation with the Secretary making the required determination under section 202 of this order; provided, that such determinations shall be made after due consideration of the provisions of OMB Circular A 129 and the credit subsidy score for the relevant loan or loan guarantee as approved by OMB pursuant to FCRA.

(b)  Other than any determination by the President under section 303(a)(7)(b) of the Act, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority to make the required determinations, judgments, certifications, findings, and notifications defined under section 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093, in consultation with the Secretary making the required determination under section 202 of this order.

Sec. 306.  Strategic and Critical Materials.  The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Interior in consultation with the Secretary of Defense as the National Defense Stockpile Manager, are each delegated the authority of the President under section 303(a)(1)(B) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(a)(1)(B), to encourage the exploration, development, and mining of strategic and critical materials and other materials.

Sec. 307.  Substitutes.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(g) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(g), to make provision for the development of substitutes for strategic and critical materials, critical components, critical technology items, and other resources to aid the national defense.

Sec. 308.  Government-Owned Equipment.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to:

(a)  procure and install additional equipment, facilities, processes, or improvements to plants, factories, and other industrial facilities owned by the Federal Government and to procure and install Government owned equipment in plants, factories, or other industrial facilities owned by private persons;

(b)  provide for the modification or expansion of privately owned facilities, including the modification or improvement of production processes, when taking actions under sections 301, 302, or 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, 2093; and

(c)  sell or otherwise transfer equipment owned by the Federal Government and installed under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to the owners of such plants, factories, or other industrial facilities.

Sec. 309.  Defense Production Act Fund.  The Secretary of Defense is designated the Defense Production Act Fund Manager, in accordance with section 304(f) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2094(f), and shall carry out the duties specified in section 304 of the Act, in consultation with the agency heads having approved, and appropriated funds for, projects under title III of the Act.

Sec. 310.  Critical Items.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(b)(1) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(b)(1), to take appropriate action to ensure that critical components, critical technology items, essential materials, and industrial resources are available from reliable sources when needed to meet defense requirements during peacetime, graduated mobilization, and national emergency.  Appropriate action may include restricting contract solicitations to reliable sources, restricting contract solicitations to domestic sources (pursuant to statutory authority), stockpiling critical components, and developing substitutes for critical components or critical technology items.

Sec. 311.  Strengthening Domestic Capability.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(a), to utilize the authority of title III of the Act or any other provision of law to provide appropriate incentives to develop, maintain, modernize, restore, and expand the productive capacities of domestic sources for critical components, critical technology items, materials, and industrial resources essential for the execution of the national security strategy of the United States.

Sec. 312.  Modernization of Equipment.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense, in accordance with section 108(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2078(b), may utilize the authority of title III of the Act to guarantee the purchase or lease of advance manufacturing equipment, and any related services with respect to any such equipment for purposes of the Act.  In considering title III projects, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense shall provide a strong preference for proposals submitted by a small business supplier or subcontractor in accordance with section 108(b)(2) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2078(b)(2).

PART IV  -  VOLUNTARY AGREEMENTS AND ADVISORY COMMITTEES

Sec. 401.  Delegations.  The authority of the President under sections 708(c) and (d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(c), (d), is delegated to the heads of agencies otherwise delegated authority under this order.  The status of the use of such delegations shall be furnished to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Sec. 402.  Advisory Committees.  The authority of the President under section 708(d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(d), and delegated in section 401 of this order (relating to establishment of advisory committees) shall be exercised only after consultation with, and in accordance with, guidelines and procedures established by the Administrator of General Services.

Sec. 403.  Regulations.  The Secretary of Homeland Security, after approval of the Attorney General, and after consultation by the Attorney General with the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, shall promulgate rules pursuant to section 708(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(e), incorporating standards and procedures by which voluntary agreements and plans of action may be developed and carried out.  Such rules may be adopted by other agencies to fulfill the rulemaking requirement of section 708(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(e).

PART V  -  EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL

Sec. 501.  National Defense Executive Reserve.  (a) In accordance with section 710(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(e), there is established in the executive branch a National Defense Executive Reserve (NDER) composed of persons of recognized expertise from various segments of the private sector and from Government (except full time Federal employees) for training for employment in executive positions in the Federal Government in the event of a national defense emergency.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall issue necessary guidance for the NDER program, including appropriate guidance for establishment, recruitment, training, monitoring, and activation of NDER units and shall be responsible for the overall coordination of the NDER program.  The authority of the President under section 710(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(e), to determine periods of national defense emergency is delegated to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

(c)  The head of any agency may implement section 501(a) of this order with respect to NDER operations in such agency.

(d)  The head of each agency with an NDER unit may exercise the authority under section 703 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2153, to employ civilian personnel when activating all or a part of its NDER unit.  The exercise of this authority shall be subject to the provisions of sections 501(e) and (f) of this order and shall not be redelegated.

(e)  The head of an agency may activate an NDER unit, in whole or in part, upon the written determination of the Secretary of Homeland Security that an emergency affecting the national defense exists and that the activation of the unit is necessary to carry out the emergency program functions of the agency.

(f)  Prior to activating the NDER unit, the head of the agency shall notify, in writing, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism of the impending activation.

Sec. 502.  Consultants.  The head of each agency otherwise delegated functions under this order is delegated the authority of the President under sections 710(b) and (c) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(b), (c), to employ persons of outstanding experience and ability without compensation and to employ experts, consultants, or organizations.  The authority delegated by this section may not be redelegated.

PART VI  -  LABOR REQUIREMENTS

Sec. 601.  Secretary of Labor.  (a)  The Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other agencies, as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, shall:

(1)  collect and maintain data necessary to make a continuing appraisal of the Nation’s workforce needs for purposes of national defense;

(2)  upon request by the Director of Selective Service, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, assist the Director of Selective Service in development of policies regulating the induction and deferment of persons for duty in the armed services;

(3)  upon request from the head of an agency with authority under this order, consult with that agency with respect to:  (i) the effect of contemplated actions on labor demand and utilization; (ii) the relation of labor demand to materials and facilities requirements; and (iii) such other matters as will assist in making the exercise of priority and allocations functions consistent with effective utilization and distribution of labor;

(4)  upon request from the head of an agency with authority under this order:  (i) formulate plans, programs, and policies for meeting the labor requirements of actions to be taken for national defense purposes; and (ii) estimate training needs to help address national defense requirements and promote necessary and appropriate training programs; and

(5)  develop and implement an effective labor management relations policy to support the activities and programs under this order, with the cooperation of other agencies as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, including the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the National Mediation Board, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

(b)  All agencies shall cooperate with the Secretary of Labor, upon request, for the purposes of this section, to the extent permitted by law.

PART VII  -  DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT COMMITTEE

Sec. 701.  The Defense Production Act Committee.  (a)  The Defense Production Act Committee (Committee) shall be composed of the following members, in accordance with section 722(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171(b):

(1)   The Secretary of State;

(2)   The Secretary of the Treasury;

(3)   The Secretary of Defense;

(4)   The Attorney General;

(5)   The Secretary of the Interior;

(6)   The Secretary of Agriculture;

(7)   The Secretary of Commerce;

(8)   The Secretary of Labor;

(9)   The Secretary of Health and Human Services;

(10)  The Secretary of Transportation;

(11)  The Secretary of Energy;

(12)  The Secretary of Homeland Security; 

(13)  The Director of National Intelligence;

(14)  The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;

(15)  The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers;

(16)  The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and

(17)  The Administrator of General Services.

(b)  The Director of OMB and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall be invited to participate in all Committee meetings and activities in an advisory role.  The Chairperson, as designated by the President pursuant to section 722 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171, may invite the heads of other agencies or offices to participate in Committee meetings and activities in an advisory role, as appropriate.

Sec. 702.  Offsets.  The Secretary of Commerce shall prepare and submit to the Congress the annual report required by section 723 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2172, in consultation with the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Defense, and Labor, the United States Trade Representative, the Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of other agencies as appropriate.  The heads of agencies shall provide the Secretary of Commerce with such information as may be necessary for the effective performance of this function.

PART VIII  -  GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 801.  Definitions.  In addition to the definitions in section 702 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2152, the following definitions apply throughout this order:

(a)  “Civil transportation” includes movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce within the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia, and related public storage and warehousing, ports, services, equipment and facilities, such as transportation carrier shop and repair facilities.  “Civil transportation” also shall include direction, control, and coordination of civil transportation capacity regardless of ownership.  “Civil transportation” shall not include transportation owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, use of petroleum and gas pipelines, and coal slurry pipelines used only to supply energy production facilities directly.

(b)  “Energy” means all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquification, and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy.

(c)  “Farm equipment” means equipment, machinery, and repair parts manufactured for use on farms in connection with the production or preparation for market use of food resources.

(d)  “Fertilizer” means any product or combination of products that contain one or more of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for use as a plant nutrient.

(e)  “Food resources” means all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption.  “Food resources” also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product.

(f)  “Food resource facilities” means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation thereof).

(g)  “Functions” include powers, duties, authority, responsibilities, and discretion.

(h)  “Head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense” means the heads of the Departments of State, Justice, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and all other agencies with authority delegated under section 201 of this order.

(i)  “Health resources” means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.

(j)  “National defense” means programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity.  Such term includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5195 et seq., and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.

(k)  “Offsets” means compensation practices required as a condition of purchase in either government to government or commercial sales of defense articles and/or defense services as defined by the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq., and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 22 C.F.R. 120.1 130.17.

(l)  “Special priorities assistance” means action by resource departments to assist with expediting deliveries, placing rated orders, locating suppliers, resolving production or delivery conflicts between various rated orders, addressing problems that arise in the fulfillment of a rated order or other action authorized by a delegated agency, and determining the validity of rated orders.

(m)  “Strategic and critical materials” means materials (including energy) that (1) would be needed to supply the military, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States during a national emergency, and (2) are not found or produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet such need and are vulnerable to the termination or reduction of the availability of the material.

(n)  “Water resources” means all usable water, from all sources, within the jurisdiction of the United States, that can be managed, controlled, and allocated to meet emergency requirements, except “water resources” does not include usable water that qualifies as “food resources.”

Sec. 802.  General.  (a)  Except as otherwise provided in section 802(c) of this order, the authorities vested in the President by title VII of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2151 et seq., are delegated to the head of each agency in carrying out the delegated authorities under the Act and this order, by the Secretary of Labor in carrying out part VI of this order, and by the Secretary of the Treasury in exercising the functions assigned in Executive Order 11858, as amended.

(b)  The authorities that may be exercised and performed pursuant to section 802(a) of this order shall include:

(1)  the power to redelegate authorities, and to authorize the successive redelegation of authorities to agencies, officers, and employees of the Government; and

(2)  the power of subpoena under section 705 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2155, with respect to (i) authorities delegated in parts II, III, and section 702 of this order, and (ii) the functions assigned to the Secretary of the Treasury in Executive Order 11858, as amended, provided that the subpoena power referenced in subsections (i) and (ii) shall be utilized only after the scope and purpose of the investigation, inspection, or inquiry to which the subpoena relates have been defined either by the appropriate officer identified in section 802(a) of this order or by such other person or persons as the officer shall designate.

(c)  Excluded from the authorities delegated by section 802(a) of this order are authorities delegated by parts IV and V of this order, authorities in section 721 and 722 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2170 2171, and the authority with respect to fixing compensation under section 703 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2153.

Sec. 803.  Authority.  (a)  Executive Order 12919 of June 3, 1994, and sections 401(3) (4) of Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, are revoked.  All other previously issued orders, regulations, rulings, certificates, directives, and other actions relating to any function affected by this order shall remain in effect except as they are inconsistent with this order or are subsequently amended or revoked under proper authority.  Nothing in this order shall affect the validity or force of anything done under previous delegations or other assignment of authority under the Act.

(b)  Nothing in this order shall affect the authorities assigned under Executive Order 11858 of May 7, 1975, as amended, except as provided in section 802 of this order.

(c)  Nothing in this order shall affect the authorities assigned under Executive Order 12472 of April 3, 1984, as amended.

Sec. 804.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,

March 16, 2012.

The latest terrorist attack in Damascus is described by the media as yet another government sponsored initiative geared towards killing Syrian civilians.  

The CTV-AP report of this tragic event resulting in 27 deaths and some 140 wounded is riddled with contradictions. First it acknowledges that the target of the attacks was government buildings including Air Force Intelligence and National Security buildings in Damascus:

Two explosions rocked the Syrian capital of Damascus Saturday … The twin suicide car bombs were aimed at intelligence and security buildings in the capital. (CTV,  March 17, 2012, emphasis added)

Obviously, it follows, says the report, that the Syrian regime is responsible for targeting its own government buildings.

Now why on earth would it do that? The answer: “The attacks occurred in areas where government security is typically high, raising opposition suspicions that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The attacks have the fingerprints of a carefully planned intelligence operation. The Syrian government pointed to the responsibility of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists supported by foreign powers, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia: 

The explosions were carried out with devastating precision outside police and military intelligence headquarters in the capital, Damascus, in the early hours, Saturday. The devices comprised two vehicles packed with explosives, according to Syrian state media reports. Local residents described how the bombs were detonated within minutes of each other, causing horrific scenes of carnage.

Many ordinary Syrians are convinced that the latest atrocity – as with previous deadly blasts in the capital and other cities across the country – is the work of terrorist groups that are being trained and supplied by foreign states in a bid to destabilize the government of Bashar Al Assad.

Certainly, the lethal attack appears to be well beyond the capability of “rag-tag rebels”, as the so-called anti-government opposition is often portrayed in the Western mainstream media. Its sophisticated execution suggests the involvement of special forces. The presence of British, French, Saudi and Qatari special forces involved in training and directing Syrian oppositionists in has been reported previously by Global Research and other alternative media. But the mainstream media appear blind to the earth-shattering implications of such a connection. (Finian Cunningham, Saudi Arabia Is Arming Syrian “Opposition” As Twin Car Bombs Kill 27 In Damascus, Global Research, March 17, 2012) 

How the Media Views the March 17th Attacks

At this point the media hype becomes even more embroiled and confused. The latest reports on the Damascus March 17 attacks seem to have abandoned their usual blanket statement that the killing of civilians had been ordered by Bashar Al Assad and was carried out by covert government operatives and militia.

What the Western media is now saying is that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, which, ironically, on the surface concurs with the official position of the Al Assad government.

But there is a “But” to this media line. Implied by the CTV report, Al Qaeda is no longer working within the ranks of the opposition, as claimed by the Syrian government. Al Qaeda, so to speak, “has switched sides” and is now supportiing the secular government of Bashar Al Assad against an opposition, largely integrated by Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi groups and Al Qaeda operatives. An absurd proposition:

“Montreal-based Middle East analyst Mohamed Mahmoud said western intelligence agencies and the Syrian opposition believe the government has links to al Qaeda forces in the country and is using them to help quash the uprising” (Ibid. emphasis added)

A convoluted statement to say the least: Al Qaeda supporting a secular Middle East government against an Islamist “opposition”, when just a few weeks earlier Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged, in no uncertain terms, that the opposition was supported by Al Qaeda and other armed entities on the US “terrorist list:

We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region, al-Qaida, Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, to be sure, supporting – claiming to support the opposition [in Syria].”

According to the CTV report:

“Top U.S. intelligence officials also have pointed to Al Qaeda in Iraq as the likely culprit behind the previous bombings, raising the possibility its fighters are infiltrating across the border to take advantage of the turmoil.” (Ibid)

The CTV report suggests that the government was behind the attacks. It also intimates that Al Qaeda in Iraq is now collaborating with Bashar Al Assad and is bombing key government buildings on the instructions of the secular government.

“The bombings hit the air force intelligence department building and the criminal security department, several kilometres apart in Damascus, at approximately the same time, around 7 a.m., the Interior Ministry said.

Much of the facade of the intelligence building appeared to have been ripped away.

Shooting broke out soon after the blasts and sent residents and others who had gathered in the area fleeing, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.” (Ibid)

One assumes, although the report fails to mention it, that the exchange of gunfire was between government forces protecting key government buildings (including Air Force Intelligence) and terrorist operatives allegedly sponsored by the government.

Theater of the absurd.

Media lies galore.   

WWIII Scenario

“It appeared you had a lone gunman who acted on his own.” -Barack Obama

We have two very, very different stories coming out of Afghanistan, regarding the killing spree and nine murdered children out of 16 slayings in Kandahar. On the one hand we have the surrender and confession of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales dressed up in an Afghan robe and allegedly surrendering on videotape with the words “I did it” on his lips. No doubt he did.

“He acknowledged the killings, then asked for an attorney within minutes of being captured and isn’t cooperating with the investigation,” according to military spokespersons.  Since then Bales has been spirited out of Afghanistan.  

But, when exactly was this little surrender filmed, and after what negotiations or deals had been struck? It has the appearance of being a staged event.

The alleged “lone nut” Bales did not act alone, according to multiple eyewitnesses, family members of the slain, as well as an official Afghan parliamentary investigation. No, there were up to 20 participants at multiple locations. The assault looks a lot like a night raid, which is standard practice in the Afghanistan war theater, only this time with added “payback” inflicted on local families. Perhaps this payback was related to another soldier in their company who lost a leg the day before.

So when Obama uses imprecise language like “it appeared,” we have to wonder if there is more to this qualified assessment than meets the eye, and if Obama knows full well that he may need to backpedal some day into what “appears” in a week, or a month from now.

The lone-nut spree killer is an easy sell when non-white, non-American, non-English speaking witnesses can’t get their stories told in the US mainstream media. There is only the official version, the uniformed, English language version, the government approved thinking on the matter. All else is simply the dreaded “conspiracy theory” which we all know can’t possibly exist in the face of official “reports.”

An investigatory team, which included eight Afghan lawmakers, spent two days at the Panjwai district crime scene gathering evidence. “We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” one of the officials said. They reported that “their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings.” 

So why is this news not on the front page in the United States?

After going to the trouble of finding out the truth, the Afghan lawmaker Hamidzai Lali expressed his view of the matter: “If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians.” This story seems newsworthy enough, given the grave implications of turning Afghanistan officially against the US/Nato occupation. Yet, it has not been what’s “trending” in the news feeds, not at all. There is only one version of the killing spree that is permitted in our “free” press. It’s the one that excludes the testimony of the eyewitness family members.

“Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of US soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at around 2am, enter homes and open fire.”

“Haji Samad said 11 of his relatives were killed in one house, including his children… ‘They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them.’”

A neighbor of the massacred family, Agha Lala, said, “They were all drunk and shooting all over the place… Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”

No My Lai this time.  Sgt. Robert Bales will get the Lee Harvey Oswald storyline.  In exchange for his cooperation and his taking the fall alone, it “appears” he will be handled with kid gloves.  

Joe Giambrone
is a filmmaker and author of Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire. He edits The Political Film Blog, which welcomes submissions. polfilmblog at gmail.

WWIII Scenario

Amid mass US protests against Monsanto in mid-March, France imposed a temporary moratorium on the planting of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, MON810.

“Due to the proximity of the planting season,” said Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire along with Francois Fillon, Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development, in a press release on Friday, authorities “decided to take a precautionary measure to temporarily prohibit the cultivation of maize MON810 on the national territory to protect the environment.”

­All prior plantings of MON810, trade name YieldGard, become illegal on March 20.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto announced in January that it would not sell genetically modified corn in France due to public opposition.

A growing list of human health and environmental hazards from GM crops has raised concern over bioengineered food and feed, including a literally explosive growth of a “new” microbe on pig manure:

Likely linked to GM feed served to most livestock in the US, methane-filled “foam” growing on pig manure has resulted in several pig farm explosions since 2001, killing thousands of animals.

“And there’s no stopping it,” reports the Daily Mail, “the foam has now started growing on one in four farms across the Midwest.”  Scientists believe a new type of bacteria may have developed.

This comports with plant pathologist Don Huber’s discovery last year of a new pathogen associated with spontaneous abortions in livestock, which has been linked to the use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Modified with a Bt protein to kill insects, MON810 is losing its efficacy in the US.  The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to the bacterial toxin in eleven states.

In early March, a group of pro-biotech corn entomologists sent a letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency warning that insect resistance to genetically modified corn can be halted by planting non-GMO seed.  The warning will likely go unheeded as the US Dept. of Agriculture announced plans to speed up the process of GM approval by 18 months.

Over the past eight months, the European Commission has approved 11 new transgenic crops.  However, EU nations can independently restrict or prohibit the sales of products under certain conditions.

Also on Friday in the US, GM opponents held a nationwide protest against Monsanto. Dressed in hazmat suits, they targeted Congress for its complicity in allowing the dangerous adulterant in the food and feed supply:

Protests continue today across the US, and include an action against WalMart for planning to sell Monsanto’s GM corn this year.

The move to label GMO foods in the US grew stronger last week when 55 Members of Congress sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Admin demanding the label.

In California, a statewide petition drive is underway to put the labeling initiative on the ballot this November. With six weeks remaining to collect one million registered voter signatures, the Label GMOs group got a welcome boost when Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds designed a special seed packet to be used for the campaign.

Within hours of a twin car-bomb attack in the Syrian capital that left at least 27 dead and 100 injured, a senior Arab diplomatic source has confirmed that Saudi Arabia is arming anti-government factions.

It has been long suspected that Saudi Arabia and other pro-Western Gulf Arab states, including Qatar, are actively fuelling the conflict in Syria over the past year. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have recently declared their willingness to send arms to groups opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

Now it would appear that such rhetorical willingness is actual practice. And the disclosure of direct foreign Arab involvement in the armed conflict comes on the same day as one of the worst single atrocities in Syria in the past 12 months.

The explosions were carried out with devastating precision outside police and military intelligence headquarters in the capital, Damascus, in the early hours, Saturday. The devices comprised two vehicles packed with explosives, according to Syrian state media reports. Local residents described how the bombs were detonated within minutes of each other, causing horrific scenes of carnage.

Many ordinary Syrians are convinced that the latest atrocity – as with previous deadly blasts in the capital and other cities across the country – is the work of terrorist groups that are being trained and supplied by foreign states in a bid to destabilize the government of Bashar Al Assad.

Certainly, the lethal attack appears to be well beyond the capability of “rag-tag rebels”, as the so-called anti-government opposition is often portrayed in the Western mainstream media. Its sophisticated execution suggests the involvement of special forces. The presence of British, French, Saudi and Qatari special forces involved in training and directing Syrian oppositionists in has been reported previously by Global Research and other alternative media. But the mainstream media appear blind to the earth-shattering implications of such a connection.

Last week, the Syrian information minister Adnan Mahmoud bluntly accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of “armed terrorist gangs” operating in his country.

“Some of the countries backing armed terrorist gangs, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are accomplices to the terrorism targeting the Syrian people… and bear responsibility for the bloodletting,” he said.

The claim by the Syrian government appears to be well-founded after the news agency AFP quoted a senior Arab diplomat confirming that Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian “rebels”.

“Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the [opposition] Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Large pro-government rallies during the week indicate that the Al Assad administration maintains widespread popular support. President Al Assad has been accused by Western governments and their Arab allies of leading a brutal crackdown against the Syrian civilian population. And these powers have called on Al Assad to stand down in what smacks of as a self-serving, cynical agenda for “regime change” against a geopolitically inconvenient foe.

Sunni monarchies Saudi Arabia and Qatar have emerged as the most vocal enemies of the Iranian-allied Al Assad government. The Gulf states were key players in promoting the UN Security Council sanction against Syria that would have seen Al Assad ejected from power. The UNSC bid was vetoed by Russia and China, both of which held the view that the situation in Syria is not one of state repression – as Western governments, media and Gulf Arab states allege, but rather is more one of state forces trying to resist an armed insurrection that has murky overtones of foreign subversion.

The scenario maintained by the Syrian government and shared by its people, along with Russia and China among others, appears more credible with each passing day.

United Nations’ figures claim that more than 8,000 people have been killed since conflict erupted in the country one year ago.

Credible reports say over half of the total deaths have come from Syrian state forces. That corroborates various sources indicating that supposed Syrian opposition groups are well armed and trained. Indeed the main opposition faction, the self-styled Syrian Free Army, has claimed that it has received weapons from the US, Britain and France.

Syrian government forces have intercepted sophisticated weapons shipments, including anti-tank rockets, originating from Israel. And it is believed that NATO member Turkey is also supplying arms into Syria.

Yet in spite of the mounting evidence of foreign subversion and terrorism in Syria, the Western mainstream media continue to depict the country as a cause for “humanitarian intervention” by NATO forces in what would be a reprise of their involvement in Libya. The latter was purported to be based on a “responsibility to protect” civilians lives. But it has since been shown to be a squalid neocolonial affair of “responsibility to protect” oil interests. With such war criminals and Arab dictators lining up again in Syria, we can be sure that the agenda has nothing to do with protecting civilians.

The latest atrocity in Damascus indicates the depths of depravity to which these powers are capable of descending in order to play their geopolitical game.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

[email protected]  

WWIII Scenario

In fact, so-called “mistaken attacks” launched by the armed forces of the United States and other countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on innocent civilians has occurred frequently in not only Afghanistan but also Iraq, Pakistan and Libya. It was not the first and definitely not the last savage act committed by U.S. troops.

[A] series of disgusting and violent actions committed by U.S. troops, including shooting civilians, maltreatment of corpses, torturing prisoners and burning the Quran, have all reflected that U.S. soldiers are usually self-righteous and arrogant and regard themselves as “saviors.”

The United States launched a series of wars in the past 10 years, including the Afghanistan war and Iraq war, and how many innocent civilians have been killed during these wars? According to relevant researches, the number is larger than 100,000!

March 11 was a dark day for Afghanistan. In the early hours of Sunday morning, an unknown number of U.S. soldiers left a military base in Kandahar province and gunned down 16 innocent Afghan civilians, including nine children and three women, in villages about one mile away from the base.

The 16 villagers, who were sleeping soundly, were all shot dead in their heads and some of their bodies were burnt after they were killed.

The number of the killers is still unknown, and whether the killings are murders or just an accidental event remains to be investigated. However, no matter what, it was undoubtedly another crime U.S. troops committed in Afghanistan.

The shooting spree has fueled Afghans’ indignation against the United States to an unprecedented level. The Taliban said that its fighters will “take revenge on the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai fiercely condemned the “murder and terror” brought by U.S. forces. In an attempt to ease anger in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama called Karzai to express his condolences to the victims and promised to “investigate the event as quickly as possible and to hold fully accountable anyone responsible.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan voiced “shock and sadness” at the tragic incident. In addition, the international community has also strongly condemned the killings.

Sixteen innocent lives have been lost. It has not only added fuel to the anti-U.S. fire in Afghanistan but also made bad U.S.-Afghanistan relations even worse, which has heavily impacted the United States’ strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Such words as “craziness” and “slaughter” have widely appeared in U.S. news reports and the comments of U.S. websites, and many people are questioning the Afghanistan war: What is the significance of the war? Some say that the U.S. government tells us that the Afghan people welcome us, but actually it is not the truth at all. Some call on the United States to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan immediately. Some criticize that it was a wrong strategy that Barack Obama sent more troops to Afghanistan in 2009.

The United States is actually preparing to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Currently, it is discussing the Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Hamid Karzai administration, making arrangements for the “post-withdraw era.” Especially, the agreement still allows U.S. troops to be stationed in Afghanistan as advisors after the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces in 2014.

But this incident of shooting civilians may add new uncertainties to the signing of the agreement. More Americans believe that the cost of the Afghanistan war is too high and they are losing their patience. The United States’ Western allies have also expressed that they will withdraw their troops from Afghanistan ahead of schedule. Trapped in the muddy pool of war in Afghanistan, the United States is in a dilemma and cannot make a decision.

In fact, so-called “mistaken attacks” launched by the armed forces of the United States and other countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on innocent civilians has occurred frequently in not only Afghanistan but also Iraq, Pakistan and Libya. It was not the first and definitely not the last savage act committed by U.S. troops.

In addition to some objective reasons, maybe the United States should examine itself in two aspects:

First, U.S. troops do not respect the values, religious beliefs, lifestyles and basic human rights of the people of other countries.

Barack Obama said in his statement that this incident does not represent U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the United States’ respect for the Afghan people. However, a series of disgusting and violent actions committed by U.S. troops, including shooting civilians, maltreatment of corpses, torturing prisoners and burning the Quran, have all reflected that U.S. soldiers are usually self-righteous and arrogant and regard themselves as “saviors.”

Second, war is not a game but means casualties. As long as the engine of war is still running, tragedies like that will continue to occur. The United States launched a series of wars in the past 10 years, including the Afghanistan war and Iraq war, and how many innocent civilians have been killed during these wars? According to relevant researches, the number is larger than 100,000! Who should be blamed for it?

In order to solve the issue thoroughly, the war must be ended as soon as possible, and the action of using war to solve problems must be stopped.

The international community should organize a neutral and independent investigation group for this violent case perpetrated by U.S. troops and give the Afghan people a fair and just explanation and result.

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End the Crime That Is the War on Afghanistan

March 17th, 2012 by Francis A. Boyle

Presentation to the Illinois Disciples Foundation, March 2012

Introduction

Thank you. I’m very happy to be here this evening once again at the Illinois Disciples Foundation, which has always been a center for organizing for peace, justice and human rights in this area ever since I first came to this community from Boston in July of 1978, and especially under its former minister, my friend Jim Holiman. I also want to thank Joe Miller and Jeff Machotta of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War for inviting me to speak here this evening. People of my generation still remember how important it was for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to be organized and to speak out against the Vietnam War. They continue to serve as a voice for peace in the world for the past generation.

I want to start out with my basic thesis that the Bush administration’s war against Afghanistan cannot be justified on the facts or the law. It is clearly illegal. It constitutes armed aggression. It is creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Afghanistan.

It is creating terrible regional instability. Right now today we are having artillery barrages across the border between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars before over Kashmir and yet today are nuclear armed. The longer this war goes on the worse it is going to be not only for the millions of people in Afghanistan but also in the estimation of the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world and the 58 Muslim states in the world. None of them believe the Bush administration’s propaganda that this is not a war against Islam.

Facts

Now let me start first with the facts. As you recall, Secretary of State Colin Powell said publicly they were going to produce a “white paper” documenting their case against Osama bin Laden and their organization Al Qaeda. Well of course those of us in the peace movement are familiar with “white papers” from before. They’re always laden with propaganda, half-truths, dissimulations, etc. that are usually very easily refuted after a little bit of analysis. What happened here? We never got a “white paper” produced by the United States government. Zip, zero, nothing.

What did we get instead? The only “statement of facts” that we got from an official of the United States government was mentioned in the October 3 edition of the New Speak Times [a.k.a.: New York Times] that described the briefings by the U.S. Ambassador who went over to brief our NATO allies about the Bush administration’s case against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda as follows: “One Western official at NATO said the briefings, which were oral, without slides or documents, did not report any direct order from Mr. bin Laden, nor did they indicate that the Taliban knew about the attacks before they happened. A senior diplomat for one closely allied nation characterized the briefing as containing ‘nothing particularly new or surprising,’ adding: ‘It was rather descriptive and narrative rather then forensic. There was no attempt to build a legal case.’” That’s someone who was at the briefing!

What we did get was a “white paper” from Tony Blair. Did anyone in this room vote for Tony Blair? No! That “white paper” is in that hallowed tradition of a “white paper,” based on insinuation, allegation, rumors, etc. Even the British government admitted Blair’s case against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda would not stand up in court. As a matter of fact it was routinely derided in the British press. There was nothing there.

Now I don’t know myself who was behind the terrorist attacks on September 11. It appears we are never going to find out. Why? Because Congress in its “wisdom” has decided not to empanel a joint committee of both Houses of Congress with subpoena power, giving them access to whatever documents they want throughout any agency of the United States government, including F.B.I., C.I.A., N.S.A., D.I.A.. To put these people under oath and testify as to what happened under penalty of perjury. We are not going to get that investigation.

Law

Now let’s look at the law. Immediately after the attacks President Bush’s first statement that he made in Florida was to call these attacks an act of terrorism. Now under United States domestic law we have a definition of terrorism and clearly this would qualify as an act or acts of terrorism. For reasons I can get into later if you want, under international law and practice there is no generally accepted definition of terrorism. But certainly under United States domestic law this qualified as an act of terrorism. What happened?

Well again according to the New Speak Times, President Bush consulted with Secretary Powell and all of a sudden they changed the rhetoric and characterization of what happened here. They now called it an act of war. Clearly this was not an act of war.

There are enormous differences in how you treat an act of terrorism and how you treat an act of war. We have dealt with acts of terrorism before. Normally acts of terrorism are dealt with as a matter of international and domestic law enforcement.

In my opinion that is how this bombing, these incidents, should have been dealt with: international and domestic law enforcement. Indeed there is a treaty directly on point. Although the United Nations was unable to agree on a formal definition of terrorism, they decided to break down terrorism into its constituent units and deal with them piece-wise: Let’s criminalize specific aspects of criminal behavior that we want to stop.

The Montreal Sabotage Convention is directly on point. It criminalizes the destruction of civilian aircraft while in service. The United States is a party. Afghanistan is a party. It has an entire legal regime to deal with this dispute. The Bush administration just ignored the Montreal Sabotage Convention.

There was also the U.N. Terrorist Bombing Convention that is also directly on point. Eventually the Bush administration just did say, well yes our Senate should ratify this convention. It’s been sitting in the Senate for quite some time, lingering because of the Senate’s opposition to international cooperation by means of treaties on a whole series of issues.

Indeed, there are a good 12 to13 treaties out there that deal with various components and aspects of what people generally call international terrorism that could have been used and relied upon by the Bush administration to deal with this issue. But they rejected that entire approach and called it an act of war. They invoked the rhetoric deliberately of Pearl Harbor — December 7, 1941. It was a conscious decision to escalate the stakes, to escalate the perception of the American people as to what is going on here.

Of course the implication here is that if this is an act of war then you don’t deal with it by means of international treaties and agreements. You deal with it by means of military force. You go to war. So a decision was made very early in the process. We were going to abandon, junk, ignore the entire framework of international treaties and agreements that had been established for 25 years to deal with these types of problems and basically go to war.

An act of war has a formal meaning. It means an attack by one state against another state, which of course is what happened on December 7, 1941. But not on September 11, 2001.

The U.N. Security Council

The next day September 12, the Bush administration went into the United Nations Security Council to get a resolution authorizing the use of military force and they failed. It’s very clear if you read the resolution, they tried to get the authority to use force and they failed. Indeed the September 12 resolution, instead of calling this an armed attack by one state against another state, called it a terrorist attack. And again there is a magnitude of difference between an armed attack by one state against another state — an act of war — and a terrorist attack. Terrorists are dealt with as criminals. They are not treated like nation states.

Now what the Bush administration tried to do on September 12 was to get a resolution along the lines of what Bush Sr. got in the run up to the Gulf War in late November of 1990. I think it is a fair comparison: Bush Jr. versus Bush Sr. Bush Sr. got a resolution from the Security Council authorizing member states to use “all necessary means” to expel Iraq from Kuwait. They originally wanted language in there expressly authorizing the use of military force. The Chinese objected – so they used the euphemism

“all necessary means.” But everyone knew what that meant. If you take a look at the resolution of September 12 that language is not in there. There was no authority to use military force at all. They never got any.

The U.S. Congress

Having failed to do that the Bush Jr. administration then went to the United States Congress and using the emotions of the moment tried to ram through some authorization to go to war under the circumstances. We do not know exactly what their original proposal

was at that time. According to a statement made by Senator Byrd in the New Speak Times, however, if you read between the lines it appears that they wanted a formal declaration of war along the lines of what President Roosevelt got on December 8, 1941 after Pearl Harbor.

Congress refused to give them that, and for a very good reason. If a formal declaration of war had been given it would have made the President a constitutional dictator.[i][1] We would now all be living basically under marshal law. Congress might have just as well picked up and gone home as the House did today, which, by the way, was encouraged by President Bush. It was his recommendation [in response to the anthrax attacks].[ii][2]

You’ll recall as a result of that declaration of war on December 8, 1941, we had the infamous Korematsu case where Japanese American citizens were rounded up and put in concentration camps on the basis of nothing more than a military order that later on turned out to be a gross misrepresentation of the factual allegation that Japanese Americans constituted some type of security threat.[iii][3] If Bush had gotten a declaration of war, we would have been on the same footing today. The Korematsu case has never been overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

Instead Congress gave President Bush Jr. what is called a War Powers Resolution Authorization — under the War Powers Resolution of 1973 that was passed over President Nixon’s veto, namely by a 2/3rds majority in both Houses of Congress, and was designed to prevent another Tonkin Gulf Resolution and another Vietnam War. Only one courageous member of Congress, Barbara Lee, an African American representative from Oakland, voted against it as a matter of principle.

This resolution, although it is not as bad as a formal declaration of war, is even worse than the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. It basically gives President Bush a blank check to use military force against any individual, organization, or state that he alleges — notice his ipse dixit — was somehow involved in the attacks on September 11 or else sheltered, harbored, or assisted individuals involved in the attacks on September 11. In other words, Bush now has a blank check pretty much to wage war against any state he wants to from the United States Congress. It was then followed up by Congress with a $40 billion appropriation as a down payment for waging this de facto war.

Very dangerous, this War Powers Resolution Authorization. No real way it can be attacked in court at this point in time. In the heat of the moment, Congress gave him this authority. It is still there on the books.

Again let’s compare and contrast this resolution with the one gotten by Bush Sr. in the Gulf Crisis. Bush Sr. got his U.N. Security Council resolution. He then took it to Congress for authorization under the War Powers Resolution and they gave him a very precise authorization to use military force for the purpose of carrying out the Security Council resolution — that was, only for the purpose of expelling Iraq from Kuwait. Indeed that is what Bush Sr. did. He expelled Iraq from Kuwait. He did not move north to Baghdad. He stopped short south of Basra, saying “that’s all the authority I have.” I’m not here to approve what Bush Sr. did in that war but simply to compare it to Bush Jr.

Now Bush Sr. has been criticized, with people saying that he should have marched all the way to Bagdad. But he had no authority by the U.N. Security Council to do that and he had no authority from the U.S. Congress to do that either. Again, compare that to Bush Jr.’s resolution of September 14 that basically gave him a blank check to wage war against anyone he wants to with no more than his ipse dixit. It’s astounding to believe. Even worse than Tonkin Gulf.

NATO

In addition Bush Jr. then went over to NATO to get a resolution from NATO and he convinced NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Pact. Article 5 of the NATO Pact

is only intended to deal with the armed attack by one state against another state. It is not, and has never been, intended to deal with a terrorist attack. The NATO Pact was supposed to deal in theory with an attack on a NATO member state by a member of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.

With the collapse of both the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, there was no real justification or pretext anymore for the continued existence of NATO. Bush Sr. then in an effort to keep NATO around, tried to transform its very nature to serve two additional purposes: (1) policing Eastern Europe, and we saw that with the illegal war against Serbia by President Clinton; and (2) intervention in the Middle East to “secure” the oil fields. The NATO Council approved this proposal. The problem is that the NATO Pact, the treaty setting up NATO, provides no authorization to do this at all. Indeed the NATO Pact would have to be amended by the parliaments of the NATO member states to justify either policing Eastern Europe or as an interventionary force in the Middle East.

The invocation of NATO Article 5 then was completely bogus. The Bush Jr. administration was attempting to get some type of multilateral justification for what it was doing when it had failed at the United Nations Security Council to get authorization. The Bush Jr. administration tried again to get more authority from the Security Council, but all they got was a presidential statement that legally means nothing. They tried yet a third time, September 29, before they started the war, to get that authorization to use military

force and they got stronger language. But still they failed to get any authorization from the Security Council to use military force for any reason.

Self-judging Self-defense

Then what happened? The new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, sent a letter to the Security Council asserting Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Now some of us are familiar with Negroponte. He was U.S. Ambassador in Honduras during the contra war against Nicaragua. He has the blood of 35,000 Nicaraguan civilians on his hands. The only way Bush could get him confirmed by the Senate was that he rammed him through the Senate right after the 9/11 bombings. So whenever you see Negroponte on the television talking to you, remember this man has the blood of 35,000 people on his hands. That’s eleven times anything that happened in New York. Eleven times.

The letter by Negroponte was astounding. It said that the United States reserves its right to use force in self-defense against any state that we feel is necessary in order to fight our war against international terrorism. So in other words, they failed on three separate occasions to get formal authority from the Security Council and now the best they could do was fall back on some alleged right of self-defense as determined by themselves. Very consistent with the War Powers Resolution authorization that Bush did indeed get from Congress on September 14.

I was giving an interview the other day to the San Francisco Chronicle and the

reporter asked if there was any precedent for the position here being asserted by Negroponte that we are reserving the right to go to war in self-defense against a large number of other states as determined by ourselves. I said yes, there is one very unfortunate precedent: That’s the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1946. There the lawyers for the Nazi defendants took the position that they had reserved the right of self-defense under the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928 [a predecessor to the U.N. Charter]; and self-defense as determined by themselves. In other words, no one could tell them to the contrary.

So at Nuremberg they had the chutzpah to argue that the entire Second World War was a war of self-defense as determined by themselves, and no one had standing to disagree with that self-judging provision. Well of course the Nuremberg Tribunal rejected that argument and said no, what is self-defense can only be determined by reference to international law; and that has to be determined by an international tribunal. No state has a right to decide this for themselves.

Aggression

Clearly what is going on now in Afghanistan is not self-defense. Let’s be honest. We all know it. At best this is reprisal, retaliation, vengeance, catharsis. Call it what you want, but it is not self-defense. And retaliation is never self-defense.

Indeed that was the official position of the United States government even during the darkest days of the Vietnam War. Then former Undersecretary of State Eugene V. Rostow tried to get the State Department to switch their position. They refused and continued to maintain their position that retaliation is not self-defense. This is not self-defense what we are doing in Afghanistan.

Since none of these justifications and pretexts hold up as a matter of law, then what the United States government today is doing against Afghanistan constitutes armed aggression. It is illegal. There is no authority for this. Indeed if you read on the internet, certainly not in the mainstream U.S. news media, you will see that is the position being taken by almost every Islamic country in the world.

Where are the facts? Where is the law? They aren’t there. This is apparent to the entire world. It’s apparent in Europe. It’s apparent in the Middle East. It is obvious to the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world. Are any Muslim leaders involved in military action against Afghanistan? Unlike what happened with Iraq? No! Have any of them volunteered military forces to get involved here? A deafening silence. They all know it is wrong.

[See more recently Richard A. Clark, Against All Enemies 24 (2004): “When, later in the discussion {on the evening of Sept. 11, with Bush and his crisis advisors}, Secretary Rumsfeld noted that international law allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush nearly bit his head off. ‘No,’ the President yelled in the narrow conference room, ‘I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.’” F.A.B.]

Violent Settlement Of International Disputes

Now the government of Afghanistan made repeated offers even as of yesterday to negotiate a solution to this dispute. Even before the events of September 11, negotiations were going on between the United States and the government of Afghanistan over the disposition of Bin Laden. They had offered to have him tried in a neutral Islamic court by Muslim judges applying the law of Sharia. This was before the latest incidents. We rejected that proposal. After September 11 they renewed the offer.

What did President Bush say? No negotiations! There’s nothing to negotiate! Here is my ultimatum! Well the problem is again the United Nations Charter, which requires the peaceful resolution of disputes. It requires expressly by name “negotiation.”

Likewise that Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact I mentioned, under which Nazis were prosecuted at Nuremberg, to which Afghanistan and the United States are both parties, requires peaceful resolution of all disputes and prohibits war as an instrument of national policy. Yet that’s exactly what we are doing today, waging war as an instrument of national policy.

Then again on Sunday as he came back from Camp David with the latest offer again by the government of Afghanistan – they were willing to negotiate over the disposition of Mr. Bin Laden. I don’t know how many of you saw the President get off the helicopter. It was surreal. He went ballistic: There’ll be no negotiations! I told them what to do! They better do it! Again, those are not the requirements of the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact.

If you read the ultimatum that President Bush gave to the government of Afghanistan in his speech before Congress you will see it was clearly designed so that it could not be complied with by the government of Afghanistan. No government in the world could have complied with that ultimatum. Indeed, there were striking similarities with the ultimatum given by the Bush Sr. administration to Tariq Aziz in Geneva on the eve of the Gulf War that was deliberately designed so as not to be accepted, which it was not. Why? The decision had already been made to go to war.

Humanitarian Catastrophe

Now that being said, what then really is going on here? If there is no basis in fact and there is no basis in law for this war against Afghanistan, why are we doing this? Why are we creating this humanitarian catastrophe for the Afghan people? Recall it was Bush’s threat to bomb Afghanistan that put millions of people on the move without food, clothing, housing, water, or medical facilities and that has created this humanitarian catastrophe now for anywhere from 5 to 7 million Afghans. All the humanitarian relief organizations have said quite clearly that the so-called humanitarian “food drop” — as Doctors Without Borders a Nobel Peace Prize organization put it — is a military propaganda operation. which it clearly is.

Bush calling for the children of America to send $1 to the White House for the Afghani children is also propaganda. This is not serious. And the winter is coming in Afghanistan. Latest estimate that I’ve seen is that maybe 100,000 or more are going to die if we don’t stop this war.

U.S. Military Bases in Central Asia

So what’s really going on here? Why are we bombing Afghanistan? Why are we doing this? Is it retaliation? Is it vengeance? Is it bloodlust? No, it isn’t!

The people who run this country are cold, calculating people. They know exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And now since the bombing started in the last twelve days, it’s become very clear what the agenda is: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld flew to Uzbekistan and concluded an agreement with the dictator who runs that country, Karimov, accused of massive violations of human rights, that the United States government will “protect” Uzbekistan.

Now first, the Secretary of Defense has no constitutional authority to conclude such an agreement in the first place. Putting that issue aside, however, it’s very clear what’s going on here. The Pentagon is now in the process of establishing a military base in Uzbekistan.

It’s been in the works for quite some time. They admit, yes, U.S. Special Forces have been over there for several years training their people under “Partnership for Peace” with NATO. Now it’s becoming apparent what is happening. We are making a long-term military arrangement with Uzbekistan. Indeed it has been reported, and you can get press from that region on the internet, that Uzbekistan now wants a status of forces agreement with the United States.

What’s a status of forces agreement? It’s an agreement that permits the long-term

deployment of significant numbers of armed forces in another state. We have status of forces agreements with Germany, Japan, and South Korea. We have had troops in all three of those countries since 1945. And when we get our military presence, our base, that is right now being set up in Uzbekistan, it’s clear we’re not going to leave. It’s clear that this unconstitutional agreement between Rumsfeld and Karimov is to set the basis to stay in Uzbekistan for the next 10-15-20 years, saying we have to defend it against Afghanistan, where we’ve created total chaos.

This is exactly the same argument that has been made to keep the United States military forces deployed in the Persian Gulf now for ten years after the Gulf War. We are still there. We still have 20,000 troops sitting on top of the oil in all these countries. We even established the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain to police this region. We never had any intention of leaving the Persian Gulf. We are there to stay.

Stealing Oil and Gas

Indeed planning for that goes back to the Carter administration — the so-called Rapid Deployment Force, renamed the U.S. Central Command that carried out the war against Iraq and occupied and still occupies these Persian Gulf countries and their oil fields

and is today now executing the war against Afghanistan and deploying U.S. military forces to build this base in Uzbekistan. Why do we want to get in Uzbekistan? Very simple. The oil and natural gas resources of Central Asia, reported to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf.

There has been an enormous amount of coverage of this in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, not the New Speak Times. The movers and shakers. They paid enormous attention to Central Asia and the oil resources there. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ascent to independence of those states in 1991, you saw all sorts of articles in the Wall Street Journal about how Central Asia and our presence in Central Asia have become a vital national security interest of the United States. We proceeded to establish relations with these states of Central Asia. We sent over Special Forces. We were even parachuting the 82nd Airborne into Kazakhstan. All reported in the Wall Street Journal.

In addition then, since Central Asia is landlocked you have to get the oil and natural gas out, how do you do that? Well one way is to send it west, but we wish to avoid Iran and Russia – thus a highly circuitous route, costs a lot of money, very insecure. The easiest way to do it is construct pipelines south through Afghanistan, into Pakistan and right out to the Arabian Sea. UNOCAL was negotiating to do this with the government of Afghanistan. That’s all in the public record.

Just as the Persian Gulf War against Iraq was about oil and natural gas, I’m submitting this war is about oil and natural gas and also about outflanking China and getting a military base south of Russia. We are going to be there for a long time. At least until all that oil and gas has been sucked out and it’s of no more use to us.

Regional War

In my opinion that’s really what is going on here. We should not be spending a lot of time about who did what to whom on September 11. We need to be focusing on this war, on stopping this war. We need to be focusing on stopping the humanitarian tragedy against the millions of people of Afghanistan right now, today. And third, we need to be focusing on what could very easily become a regional war.

The Pentagon launched this thing. Obviously they felt they could keep it under control. That’s what the leaders in August of 1914 thought too, when you read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August. Everyone figured the situation could be kept under control and it wasn’t, and there was a world war. Ten million people died.

We’re already seeing after President Bush started this war artillery duels between India and Pakistan. Massive unrest in all of these Muslim countries. The longer the

war goes on I submit the worse it is going to become, the more dangerous it is going to become, the more unstable it is going to become.

American Police State

In addition, finally comes the Ashcroft Police State Bill [a.k.a.: USA Patriot Act]. No other words to describe it. Bush failed to get that declaration of war which would have rendered him a constitutional dictator. But it’s clear that Ashcroft and his Federalist Society lawyers took every piece of regressive legislation off the shelf, tied it all into this antiterrorism bill, and rammed it through Congress.

If you’re reading any of the papers yesterday and the day before, members of Congress admit, yes, we didn’t even read this thing. Another Congressman said, right, but there’s nothing new with that. Except on this one they’re infringing the civil rights and civil liberties of all of us, moving us that much closer to a police state in the name of fighting a war on terrorism. Security, this, that, and the other thing.

Notice the overwhelming message from the mainstream news media: we all have to be prepared to give up our civil rights and civil liberties. Even so-called liberals like Alan Dershowitz: Oh, let’s now go along with the national identity card. Outrageous! Larry Tribe, writing in the Wall Street Journal: well we’re all going to have to start making compromises on our civil rights and civil liberties. That’s what’s in store in the future for us here at home the longer this war against Afghanistan goes on.

And Bush has threatened that it will expand to other countries. We don’t know how many countries they have in mind. At one point they’re saying Malaysia, Indonesia, Somalia, Iraq, Libya. Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz talked about “ending states,” which is clearly genocidal. I could take that statement to the World Court and file it and prove it as genocidal intent by the United States government.

Scapegoats

So the longer we let this go on the more we are going to see our own civil rights and civil liberties taken away from us. As you know aliens, foreigners, their rights are already gone. We now have 700 aliens who’ve just been picked up and disappeared by Ashcroft and the Department of Justice. We have no idea where these people are. They’re being held on the basis of immigration law, not criminal law. Indefinite detention.

What’s the one characteristic they all have in common, these foreigners? They’re Muslims and Arabs, the scapegoats for 9/11. Everyone needs a scapegoat and it looks like we have one.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by saying that we still have our First Amendment rights despite Ashcroft’s best efforts. Despite the cowardice of both Houses of Congress where, interestingly enough, the so-called liberal Democrats were willing to give Bush and Ashcroft more than the conservative Republicans in the House. We still have our First

Amendment rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition our government for redress of grievances.

We are going to need to start to exercise those First Amendment rights now. For the good of the people of Afghanistan, for the good of the people of that region of the world, and for the future of ourselves and our nature as a democratic society with a commitment to the Rule of Law and the Constitution. Thank you.

In its January 2012 issue, LEAP/E2020 signalled the current year as that of the world geopolitical swing. The first quarter 2012 has, to a large extent, started to establish that an era was in fact coming to an end with, in particular, the Russian and Chinese decisions to block any Western attempt at interference in Syria (1); their stated desire, associated with India (2) especially, to ignore or circumvent the oil embargo fixed by the United States and the EU (3) against Iran; the increasing tensions in relations between the United States and Israel (4); the acceleration of the policy of diversification out of the US Dollar led by China (5) and the BRICS (but also by Japan and Euroland (6)); the premise of change in Euroland’s political strategy at the time of the French electoral campaign (7); and the intensification of actions and statements fuelling the rising strength of trans-bloc commercial wars (8). In March 2012, we are far from March 2011 and the “hustling” of the UN by the USA/UK/France trio to attack Libya. March 2011 was still the unipolar world of after 1989. March 2012 is already the post-crisis multipolar world hesitating between confrontations and partnerships.

Chinese foreign exchange reserves and holdings of US Dollar securities (2002-2011) (in trillions USD) (in green: total; in salmon: US securities; red line: % of US securities as a share of the total) - Sources: People’s Bank of China/ US Treasury / The Wall Street Journal / Dollar Collapse, 03/2012
Chinese foreign exchange reserves and holdings of US Dollar securities (2002-2011) (in trillions USD) (in green: total; in salmon: US securities; red line: % of US securities as a share of the total) – Sources: People’s Bank of China/ US Treasury / The Wall Street Journal / Dollar Collapse, 03/2012

Thus, as anticipated by LEAP/E2020, the handling of the “Greek crisis” (9) has quickly caused the disappearance of the so-called “Euro crisis” from the media headlines and market participants’ concerns. The mass hysteria maintained by the Anglo-Saxon media and the Eurosceptics during the second half of 2011 on this subject hasn’t lasted long: Euroland is increasingly asserting itself as a sustainable structure (10); once again the Euro is in vogue in the markets and for emerging countries’ central banks (11), the Eurogroup/ECB functioned effectively and private investors will have to accept a haircut of up to 70% on their Greek assets, thus confirming LEAP/E2020’s 2010 anticipation which then spoke of a 50% haircut when almost no-one imagined such a possibility without a “catastrophe” signalling the end of the Euro (12). Ultimately, markets always yield to the law of the strongest… and the fear of losing more, whatever the students of ultra-liberalism may say. It’s a lesson which political leaders will jealously guard because there are other haircuts to come, in the United States, in Japan and in Europe. We will come back to this in this GEAB issue.

Central bank held sovereign debt (as a % of GDP) (2002-2012) - United States (in violet), United Kingdom (in grey), Euroland (in violet dots), Japan (in grey dots) - Sources: Datastream / central banks / Natixis, 02/2012
Central bank held sovereign debt (as a % of GDP) (2002-2012) – United States (in violet), United Kingdom (in grey), Euroland (in violet dots), Japan (in grey dots) – Sources: Datastream / central banks / Natixis, 02/2012

Contemporaneously, and that contributes to explaining the gentle euphoria which feeds the markets and many economic and financial players these last few months, due to it being an electoral year and from the need to make a good impression at all costs against a Eurozone which isn’t collapsing (13), the US financial media have given us a remake of the “green shoots” story from the beginning of 2010 and the “recovery” (14) from the beginning of 2011 in order to paint a picture of an America “exiting the crisis”. However, the United States at this beginning of 2012 really resembles a depressing scene painted by Edward Hopper (15) and not a glowing 60s chromo in the style of Andy Warhol. Just as in 2010 and 2011, the spring will for that matter be the moment of the return to the real world.

In this context all the more dangerous, as all the players are lulled by a dangerous illusion of a “return to normal”, in particular of the “restarting of the US economic engine” (16), LEAP/E2020 considers it necessary to alert its readers to the fact that summer 2012 will see the shattering of this illusion. In fact, we anticipate that summer 2012 will see the crystallization of five devastating shocks which are at the heart of the current process of world geopolitical swing. The black clouds which have been accumulating since the beginning of the crisis around economic and financial issues have now been joined by the dark clouds of geopolitical confrontation.

Therefore, in LEAP/E2020’s view, five devastating storms will mark the summer of 2012 and thus accelerate the process of world geopolitical swing:

. US relapse into recession against the background of European stagnation and BRICS slowdown
. dead end for the central banks and interest rate increases
. storm on the foreign exchange and Western sovereign debt markets
. Iran, the war « too far »
. new crash in the markets and financial institutions.

In this GEAB issue our team analyzes these five shocks of summer 2012 in detail.

At the same time, in partnership with the Anticipolis Editions, we are publishing a new excerpt from the book by Sylvain Périfel and Philippe Schneider, “2015 – The great fall of Western real estate”, at the time of the French version going on sale; dealing with the prospects for the American residential real estate market.

Lastly, we give our monthly recommendations targeting gold, currencies, financial assets, stock exchanges and commodities in this number.

Notes

(1) An article from CameroonVoice, published on 03/06/2012, offers an interesting review of this log-jam which seems useful to us to analyze as much from the geopolitical angle as from the humanitarian one, which tends to camouflage many parameters behind the “evidence of just cause”. Remember the attack on Libya and the disastrous consequences which it today entails for many Libyans and the whole region; the latest: the destabilization of a whole section of sub-Saharan Africa, like Mali for example. On this subject read the very interesting analysis of Bernard Lugan in Le Monde of 12/03/2012.

(2) And Japan, which keeps a low profile but has no intention of stopping supplying itself with Iranian oil. As regards China and India, they are increasing their Iranian oil deliveries and step into the vacuum left by the West. India even now uses Iran as an opening towards Central Asian oil. Sources: Asahi Shimbun, 29/02/2012; Times of India, 13/03/2012; IndianPunchline, 18/02/2012

(3) Let’s wait to see what the EU’s willingness for this will be in the second half of 2012. With the end of US supervision over French foreign policy following the change of French president, European foreign policy will change in many aspects.

(4) There are many responsible Israelis and Americans who wonder in what state relations between the two countries will be at the conclusion of this unprecedented quasi-confrontation on the question of a possible attack on Iran. For some, the United States is reaching “frustration” point with Israel, as the article of Gideon Levy in Haaretz of 04/03/2012 analyzes.

(5) The latest examples: the agreement between the BRICS to trade in national currencies, and particularly in Yuan because of Beijing’s willingness to internationalize its currency; and Japan’s decision to purchase Chinese Treasury bonds with Beijing’s agreement. Beijing thus acts in contrast to the “dominant” Japan of the 1980s, which had never dared push the Yen’s internationalization. This aspect is sufficient to nullify all the comparisons between Japan’s abortive rise and China’s situation today. Tokyo was under Washington’s control; Beijing isn’t. Sources: FT, 07/03/2012; JapanToday, 13/03/2012

(6) Euroland banks are withdrawing from their USD loan activities. Source: JournalduNet, 23/02/2012

(7) Namely the end of social-liberalism which had taken the place of European social democracy during these last two decades; and the return of the “social market economy” at the heart of the Rhineland model, the historic continental European model. From the Slovakia of the new Prime Minister, Fico to the France of the future president, Hollande (this isn’t a political choice but the result of our anticipations published from November 2010 in the GEAB N°49) via the Italy of Mario Monti and a Germany where conservatives and social democrats must, from now on, take the European path together, as they must to obtain the majority necessary for the ratification of the new European treaties, one sees the contours of Euroland’s future economic and social strategy taking shape: reinforced progressive taxation, social solidarity, economically effective, the financial sector put under control, customs vigilance,… in short: a high speed distancing from the Anglo-Saxon model in vogue amongst the European continent’s elite for the last 20 years.

(8) Latest events: the United States attack at the WTO on the Chinese trade policy concerning “rare earths”, supported by the EU and Japan; new twists on USA/UE reciprocal charges, still at the WTO, concerning Boeing and Airbus subsidies; the “monetary war” started by Brazil against the United States and Europe. Sources: CNNMoney, 12/03/2012; Bloomberg, 13/03/2012; Mish’s GETA, 03/03/2012

(9) Moreover, unthinkable for many people only three months ago, a rating agency has just upped Greece’s rating. Source: Le Monde, 13/03/2012

(10) The question of these structures’ democratization arises as we highlighted. But these structures (ESM, ECB…) are now established. With the players and political forces in these next two years beginning their placing under the citizens’ control rather than spending their time regretting a marvellous period… where citizens didn’t even have the least idea of how their country managed its debt. And it’s not by attacking the technocrats who did the “dirty work” in the eye of the storm that the politicians will find the path of democratic legitimization for Euroland institutions, but by proposing new mechanisms and processes involving people in the decision-making process. On this subject, it’s useful to know that in the European Parliament, the EPP group (where in particular the parties of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel sit) is trying to nip in the bud a cross-party proposal for the creation of 25 European Parliament seats which would be filled on transnational tickets with the EU as a single constituency. LEAP/E2020 considers this proposal as a small step on the only path which can lead to citizens’ control of European decisions. It is regrettable that the champions of the need for bringing Europe closer to the people are, in fact, accomplices in the blocking of a first serious attempt in this direction. Source: European Voice, 11/03/2012

(11) Even the Financial Times, although one of the keys players in the anti-Euro hysteria, must recognize from now on that the emerging markets (public and private players) have found their appetite for the European currency. Source: Financial Times, 26/02/2012

(12) We stress these points because the dominant talk in 2010 and 2011, which encouraged investors to buy Greek debt because it was a “golden opportunity”, shouldn’t be forgotten too quickly! Often the same “experts” also forecast €/$ parity leading many market participants to sell their Euros and buy Dollars following this same reasoning. Result: these “experts”, who populate the media headlines and the financial programmes, caused each of them to lose a great deal of money. To know how to anticipate the future, you have to keep your memory in good shape!

(13) Let’s not forget that without the mass hysteria fuelling the “Euro crisis”, from the end of 2011 the United States would have been unable to finance its enormous deficits. Wall Street and City had to dangle Europe over the edge of the cliff to ensure the continued flow of bond purchases. Now that this propaganda doesn’t work anymore, it’s thus vital to try to embellish the US situation in default of the external source of US economy financing drying up. See GEAB N°s 58 to 61.

(14) For the record, in mid-2010, the IMF was concerned not to “handicap the recovery”. And in January 2011, the experts wondered how to profit from the “recovery” shown by the famous “key indicators”! Sources: IMF, 07/07/2010.

(15) Our team would like to make it clear that we appreciate Hopper’s talent and that he is only quoted here because he is the painter par excellence of the middle class of the United States’ “golden age”, that he has however generally shown in a very depressive context. We can only imagine what the setting of his paintings today would be with a distressed middle class in the country’s “iron age”.

(16) Remember that it’s the fundamental creed on which the whole of the economic and financial system rests. And in three years of crisis, for the first time since 1945, this engine doesn’t work anymore. So it’s necessary to assert it for as long as possible, hoping for a miracle. By summer 2012, the storms will bring flashes of lightning but none will be miraculous; quite the contrary.

Goldman Sachs: Making Money by Stealing It

March 17th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Money power in private hands and democracy can’t co-exist. Wall Street crooks transformed America into an unprecedented money making racket.

Goldman symbolizes master of the universe of financial manipulation (Reuters April 16, 2011)  It’s been involved in nearly all financial scandals since the 19th century.

It makes money the old-fashioned way, through market manipulation, the scamming of investors, bribing political Washington, having its executives in top administration posts, and getting open-ended low or no interest rate bailouts when needed.

It’s business model and culture assure billions of bonus dollars for company officials, complicit traders, and others on the take.

Compared to Goldman, Bernie Madoff was small-time. 

Former bank regulator expert on white-collar crime, public finance, economics, and related law, Bill Black explained Goldman shenanigans pertaining to earlier SEC charges this way:

“Goldman designed a rigged trifecta. It turned a massive loss into a material profit by selling deeply underwater, toxic CDOs it owned. It helped make John Paulson (CEO of a huge hedge fund that Goldman would love to have as an ally) a massive profit – in a ‘profession’ where reciprocal favors are key, and blew up its customers that purchased the CDOs.”

An SEC civil suit charged Goldman with defrauding customers. It made billions, and settled for $550 million. It was pocket change, the equivalent of four 2009 revenue days. It hardly mattered. 

No executive was fined or imprisoned. Grand theft continues unabated. It includes pump-and-dump schemes. The corporate media does not explain. Only scammed customers and insiders who are involved understand.

On March 4, Black used James Q. Wilson’s “broken windows” metaphor pertaining to blue collar crime. He applied it to far more serious elite white-collar offenses. None rise to the level of financial ones. The amounts involved are staggering. Broken lives, communities, and economies result. The landscape’s littered with them.

No firm’s more adept at amassing fraudulent fortunes than Goldman. Its CEO Lloyd Blankfein calls it “doing God’s work.”

It’s also appalling that the Wall Street Journal “serve(s) as cheerleader and apologist for those” who amass wealth by stealing it, said Black.

Goldman Executive Resigns

Broken clocks are right twice a day. On March 14, so was The New York Times. It gave rare op-ed space to high level Goldman executive Greg Smith for views worth sharing. He served as executive director and head of the firm’s domestic equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Headlining, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” he said:

After almost 12 years with the firm, today was his last day. He worked there “long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

In “simplest terms,” he said client interests are sidelined. Goldman thinks only about making money. “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.”

In less blunt terms than Black, this writer, and other critics, he stopped short of explaining its grand theft model, but comments he made suggested it.

An earlier Goldman culture contributed to its success, he said. “It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients.”

Exaggerated? Absolutely, whatever minor differences between today and earlier existed. According to Smith, “virtually no trace” of what he admired remains. Whatever pride he once had is now gone. It was time to leave when he no longer could look aspiring students wanting Goldman jobs “in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.”

How can it be operating like a crime family. It’s business model involves grand theft. Customers are defrauded, not helped. Politicians are bought like toothpaste. Laws are subverted and ignored. Others are discarded or rewritten at its behest. Economies are wrecked for profit.

When future Goldman histories are written, honest ones will say Blankfein, president Gary Cohn, and other top executives “lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.”

Smith said his career involved advising two of the largest global hedge funds, five of America’s largest asset managers, and three of the Middle East’s most prominent sovereign wealth funds. His clients manage over a trillion dollars in assets.

He took pride, he said, advising them “to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs.” He knew it was time to leave.

“Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer), you will be promoted into a position of influence.”

Three key ways, include:

(1) Advising clients to invest in assets Goldman wants to dump, including toxic ones.

(2) Getting them to buy what makes Goldman most money.

(3) Trading “any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym,” no matter how much toxic or without merit.

He attended sales meetings devoid of ways to help clients. They’re about maximizing Goldman’s profit, no matter how illegally. “It makes me ill,” he said, “how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months, I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets.’ “

They’re marks to be manipulated and scammed for profit. He can’t explain how senior managers don’t understand that losing client trust means forfeiting their business. No matter if you’re the smartest guys in the room. They’ll know you’re smart enough to scam them without hearing back room insults about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out,” and “getting paid” at their expense.

He hopes his article “can be a wake-up call to” Goldman’s board. “Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist.” 

“Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm.” Make “people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.”

A Final Comment

Goldman’s entire history, or at least most of it, reflects predation. Its scams way pre-date Smith’s birth. In the 1920s, its Ponzi scheme investment trusts defrauded investors. Goldman profited. They lost out, and when Wall Street crashed were left high, dry, and broke.

One trust sold investors reflected others. Its offering price was $104 a share. It became virtually worthless at $1.75. It lost over 98% of its value. Unwary buyers then and now lose out. Only the stakes get bigger. 

Today they’re enormous. Getting in bed with Goldman’s like swimming with sharks. You’re prey. They’re predators. Those burned understand Goldman’s culture enough to know it’s toxic and corrupted.

In 2002, it was largely responsible for Greece’s debt problems. It involved circumventing Eurozone rules in return for mortgaging assets. 

Using creative accounting, debt was hidden through off-balance sheet shenanigans. Derivatives called cross-currency swaps were used. Government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euros, then later exchanged back to original currencies.

Debt entrapment followed. Greece was held hostage to repay it. The country’s been raped and pillaged. Paying bankers comes first. Doing it left Greeks impoverished, high and dry. Goldman profited enormously by scamming an entire country and millions in it. 

Its business model thrives on similar schemes globally. It’s about profits, no matter the huge cost to others. Expecting this leopard to change spots is like imagining reformers will transform Washington.

Former alderman Paddy Bauler once said “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.” It’s still not ready and may never be. 

Neither is political Washington, Goldman, other Wall Street crooks, or their counterparts throughout corporate America. 

They connive, cheat, profiteer from wars, drain trillions from households and the national treasury, wage war on labor, sell dangerous products, destroy the environment, and do whatever they damn please complicit with corrupt politicians who let them.

Goldman and other Wall Street giants are the worst of the lot. Standing armies pale by comparison. Michael Hudson calls finance warfare by other means. Generalissimo bankers run everything. 

Their job is pillaging households, investors, communities, and countries for profit. Doing so holds humanity hostage. They’ll lose everything unless stopped. Job one’s assuring that’s done. The stakes are too high for failure. It’s up to public rage to change things.

Awar-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]


Also 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/.


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SYRIA: Testimonies from Homs Reveal Identity of Terrorists and Mercenaries involved in Atrocities
- by H. Sabbagh – 2012-03-15


African Ping Pong: US Plays both Sides in Uganda. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a US-backed Guerilla Force
- by Richard Cottrell – 2012-03-15

U.S. OUT of Afghanistan! Money for jobs, not war and occupation! NYC March 15 Demonstration
- 2012-03-14


Social Media Scam Alert: Top Ten Ways to Tell Kony is Phony. The Hidden Agenda is to Invade Africa
- by Bruce A. Dixon – 2012-03-14


The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER
- by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-03-14

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.


“The Most damning Video on Syria” is a Fake
- by Marinella Correggia – 2012-03-14


SPYING OPS: Australian Secret Squadrons Operating in Africa
Underground Special Forces in Civilian Clothes…
- by Global Research News – 2012-03-14


VIDEO: KONY 2012 Hides US Support for Repressive Ugandan Regime
Find out the truth on GRTV
- by Kambale Musavuli – 2012-03-14


KONY 2012: State Propaganda for a New Generation. An Orchestrated Campaign to Justify US Military Intervention in Africa
- by Vigilant Citizen – 2012-03-14

Russia calls for probe into NATO’s “massive bombings” in Libya
- 2012-03-14


Europe’s Economic Crisis: Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Belgium are Heading in the Same Direction as Greece
- by Bob Chapman – 2012-03-14


NATO Proxies behind Syria Massacre
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-03-14


The “Lone Gunman” of Kandahar Province? “The Dehumanization of the Enemy” Engrained in the Behavior of US Soldiers…
- by Andy Dilks – 2012-03-14


Media Lies and Fabrications Fully Revealed: Al Jazeera’s Identity Crisis.
- by Ibrahim al-Amin – 2012-03-14


Attorney General Eric Holder upholds “The Legality of Assassinating Americans”
Responds to Rosemary Award for Worst Open Government Performance
- by Nate Jones – 2012-03-14


State Sponsored “Pre-emptive Murder”: US and Israeli Targeted Killings
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-03-14


Vanishing Pensions: All Over America Old Age Pensions Are Being Slashed or Eliminated
- 2012-03-14


KONY 2012: Merchandising and Branding Support for US Military Intervention in Central Africa
- by Nile Bowie – 2012-03-14

The documentary uses potent emotional communication to influence the viewer to support US military operations in resource rich Central Africa under the pretext of capturing the LRA’s commander, Joseph Kony.

TARGETED KILLING: US and Israeli Drone Strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza: Legal Action in UK
- 2012-03-13


OCCUPY: Infiltration of Political Movements is the Norm, Not the Exception in the United States.
Part II
- by Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers – 2012-03-13

Almost every movement in modern history has been infiltrated by police and others using many of the same tactics we are now seeing in Occupy.

Cheney says Canada ‘too dangerous’ for visit
- 2012-03-13


VIDEO: Al Jazeera Exodus: Channel Losing Staff Over Bias
Find out what’s happening on GRTV
- by Paula Slier – 2012-03-13


VIDEO: One Year Anniversary of Fukushima Daiichi
Learn about the effects of global radiation on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2012-03-13


VIDEO: Radiation, Coverups and the Legacy of Fukushima
The nuclear danger analyzed on GRTV
- by Dr. Helen Caldicott, James Corbett – 2012-03-13

One year on from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan’s northeast, details continue to emerge about how the crisis was much worse than the government and TEPCO originally let on.


SOCIAL INEQUALITY IN AMERICA: Incomes of Top One Percent in US Skyrocket…
- by Kate Randall – 2012-03-13


Israel expands deadly air strikes on Gaza
- by Jean Shaoul – 2012-03-13


Unemployment in the Post-revolutionary Arab World
- by Dr. Ali Kadri – 2012-03-13


Blood Earth and South Africa’s White Farmers
- by J.B. Gerald – 2012-03-13


Redefining the U.S.-Canada Border: The End of Canada as a Sovereign Nation?
- by Dana Gabriel – 2012-03-13

The proposed changes promise to bring about a radical transformation of the northern border. This will further bring Canadian security practices in line with American ones and under the reach of the Department of Homeland Security.


Washington Plans War on Syria
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-03-13

UNRAVELLING MEDIA SCANDAL: Al Jazeera exodus: Channel losing staff over ‘bias’
- 2012-03-13


WAR PROPAGANDA: Staged Media Reporting from Syria: Fabricating the News
- by Patrick Henningsen – 2012-03-12

MEDIA DISINFO: Resignations at Al Jazeera due to “Biased Coverage”
- 2012-03-12


VIDEO: War Crimes: NATO Obviously Killed Civilians in Libya
Is Syria next in line? Find out more on GRTV
- by Lizzie Phelan – 2012-03-12

After Afghan Massacre: Media Treat Killings as PR Problem for Occupation
- 2012-03-12


The “Moral Equivalence” of War: British Soldiers versus Afghan Children
- by Andy Dilks – 2012-03-12


SYRIA:Terrorist Groups Committed Atrocious Massacre in Homs to Elicit International Support against Syrian Government
- 2012-03-12

Lavrov: Syria is Confronting Armed Gangs, al-Qaeda Members that Commited Horrible Crimes
- 2012-03-12


Independent Media Delivers Truth and Accountability
- 2012-03-12


The Dirty War on WikiLeaks is Now Trial by Media in Sweden
- by John Pilger – 2012-03-12


An Israeli Attack Against Iran “Would Destroy Chance of Peace for Generations”
- by Richard Silverstein – 2012-03-12

Financial organisations declare Greece to be in default
- by Stefan Steinberg – 2012-03-12

Massacre in Afghanistan: US soldier kills 16 villagers, including 9 children
- by Patrick Martin – 2012-03-12


AFRICA: The Legacy of Cecil Rhodes’ Anglo-American Empire
- by Dan Gordon – 2012-03-12

Fast-forward to March of 2012, when the non-profit “TRI” launched an online video called “Kony 2012.” Filled with footage of battle-scarred African children, and tearful appeals to emotion, the movie rallies its viewers around a single goal: stopping the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its leader Joseph Kony…


The Unspoken Dangers of NATO Enlargement: America Threatens Russia on its Western and Southern Borders
- 2012-03-12


In the Wake of the Durban Climate Talks: State and Market Climate Failures Amplified by Civil Society Failure
- by Prof. Patrick Bond – 2012-03-12


The Greek Bailout and Germany’s “Plan B”: If Germany bails on the Euro, the EU will collapse
The Black Swan NO ONE is Talking About
- by Phoenix Capital Research – 2012-03-12


The Disinformation Campaign on the Greek Debt and the Rescue Plan by Private Creditors
- by CADTM – 2012-03-12


Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities
- by David Swanson – 2012-03-12


The Collapse of American Democracy
- by Barry Grey – 2012-03-12


America’s Afghanistan Legacy
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-03-12


SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?
ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-03-11

ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK. The insurgency in Syria is based on the “Libya Model”: it is integrated by mercenaries and Al Qaeda affiliated paramilitary brigades supported by British, French and Turkish Special Forces…


Beyond Equivocal Equality and Masking Myths: Grounding Justice in What We All Need to Live as Human Beings
Part VIII
- by Prof. John McMurtry – 2012-03-11


The Global Financial Crisis is a Global Human Rights Crisis
- by Danny Schechter – 2012-03-11

Israelis build the world’s biggest detention centre
Thousands of African asylum-seekers fleeing persecution could end up in Negev desert camp
- by Catrina Stewart – 2012-03-11


Enhanced Militarization. Senator Lugar’s “NATO Enlargement Bill”: Bosnia, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro
- 2012-03-11


Impasse in Israel-US Relations
- by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich – 2012-03-11

Indian Bomb: Iranian Terror … Or False Flag?
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-03-11


The Land of the Mega-rich: No Jobs For Americans
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-03-11


PsyWarfare: “The Battle for the Mind”
- by Adrian Salbuchi – 2012-03-11

Haaretz: Netanyahu’s conspiracy to drag the U.S. to war
- by Sefi Rachlevsky – 2012-03-11


Global Scenarios for 2012: How the World is Changing
- by Daniele Scalea – 2012-03-10

Afghanistan: “Reducing the Number of Troops”. To Claim Total Pullout in 2014, U.S “Troops” will be transferred to the CIA
War funding would be concealed from Americans
- by Global Research News – 2012-03-10


13 years since NATO aggression against Serbia: Violation of Human rights of Serbs in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija
- by Zivadin Jovanovic – 2012-03-10


The Politics of Imagined Opinion
- by Prof. James Tracy – 2012-03-10

Hollywood and Madison Avenue have always played a crucial role in elevating the U.S. military’s public image. Their latest bombastic effort entitled, “Towards the Sound of Chaos”,  is perhaps one the boldest efforts yet in advancing the modern mythology of the military’s newly celebrated humanitarian interventionalist modus operandi.

The film’s voiceover thunders heavy: “Where chaos looms, the few emerge. Marines move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair — with the courage and resolve to silence them. By ending conflict, instilling order and helping those who can’t help themselves, Marines face down the threats of our time.”

It’s nothing less than an over-blown, fictional, made-for-cinema story showcasing MV-22 Ospreys, trucks and Amphibious Assault Crafts loaded-up with thousands of props made to look like boxes marked “AID” - ready to strike in a  humanitarian intervention.

Humanitarian AID boxes are escorted by hundreds of ground troops charging the beach head at full speed, in what appears to be a ridiculous WWII Normany-style, D-Day invasion scene, meant to be taking place in a desert somewhere in Africa, or the Middle East. Other hard to believe, over-the-top cinematic shots include aerial views of platoons charging across the desert floor reminicent of Star Wars’ Attack of the Clones, and Ospreys unloading infantry which looks straight out of James Cameron’s sci-fi hit movie, Avatar.

Over the years, Americans have become accustomed to seeing these theatrical depictions of military escapades overseas, but few have actually stopped to consider that what they are watching is a level of fictional sensationalism that far surpasses anything produced by Joseph Goebbels during Hitler’s reign in Nazi Germany, and far and away past the very best pieces of militarized propaganda produced during Joseph Stalin’s Soviet military police state.

In a cynical and somewhat racist move, the advert clearly features Black African American soldiers in extreme close-ups and also in the final shot of the film, clearly working extra-hard to target that demographic in America who ironically, are suffering most from what this advert describes as “despair” and a genuine lack of hope – currently dogged with record-breaking unemployment numbers.

Curiously, the only place in this advert where the US flag is visible is on the side of the AID boxes, and nowhere does it say “US Marines” – only “Marines”, possibly because the US Marines seem to be undergoing a rebrand - as the ‘UN Marines’, this according to recent testimonies by US General Dempsey and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta - who now say that’s who our boys are actually working  for (see video below).

Our military and defense heads seem to be a little confused about to whom their allegiance actually lies - with the US Constitution and a Congressional approval - or with ad hoc international coalitions, the UN, Arab League and of course, NATO.

Like it or not, we are presently moving closer towards a world government-type authority, one which has all but usurped our own national sovereignty.

As many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored coverage in 2019 under the health care legislation signed into law by President Obama in March 2010. This is the worst-case scenario set out by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in a report released in mid March.

The CBO’s most optimistic estimate, which the federal agency says is subject to a “tremendous amount of uncertainty,” is that 3 million to 5 million could lose their employer health coverage each year from 2019 through 2022.

The new projections for loss of employee coverage are a substantial increase over last year’s estimates, when the CBO’s best prediction was that only 1 million people would lose employer-sponsored coverage.

The new study is the latest indication that the health care overhaul will result in a deterioration of health care for the majority of Americans, and not the improvement touted by the Obama administration. Working families and those in low-wage jobs stand to suffer the most from companies eliminating coverage.

As the World Socialist Web Site explained during the administration’s campaign for its health care “reform,” the scheme was the opposite of universal and quality health care for all. Drawn up in close consultation with the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries as well as Wall Street, it was driven by a determination to reduce government deficits and health care costs at the expense of the working class. In addition to cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, the plan is designed to ration health care on class lines, depriving millions of working people of benefits on which they currently rely.

Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will mandate individuals and families to obtain insurance or pay fines that could eventually rise to as much as 2 percent of income for all but the very poor. Those who purchase insurance on the health care “exchanges” set up under the PPACA will be at the mercy of private insurers who can increase premiums without any meaningful government oversight.

Companies with more than 50 employees that stop offering health coverage will be levied a $2,000 per employee tax penalty. The CBO projection indicates that a significant proportion of businesses will find it financially advantageous to drop coverage and pay the penalty.

The CBO’s worst-case scenario is in line with previous studies on the impact of the health care bill on employer coverage. A study released in August 2011 by human resources consultants Towers Watson showed that at least 9 percent of companies planned to drop their coverage by 2014. A study last June by the McKinsey Company showed that an even larger proportion, 30 percent, were likely to stop providing coverage when provisions of the PPACA take effect.

On the same day the CBO published its report, the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) released a national study showing that employer-provided health coverage has already been substantially eroded as a result of the recession. Between 2007 and 2010, the share of children and working-age adults covered by employer-sponsored health insurance dropped by 10 percentage points, from 63.6 percent to 53.5 percent.

The study notes that increased unemployment was the key driver of this loss of employer coverage, with the proportion of people younger than 65 with no employed workers in the household jumping to 31.6 percent in 2010—up 10 percent. This rise in joblessness accounted for approximately three-quarters of the drop in employer-provided health coverage since 2007.

However, the HSC study found that about 20 percent of those who lost their employer-sponsored health care from 2007 to 2010 were employed but either dropped from coverage by their employer or opted out of it. The survey also showed that a steady decline in employer health coverage was well underway before the official start of the recession in December 2007, with fewer companies offering coverage and fewer employees choosing to enroll because they could not afford to pay their portion of the cost of coverage.

Employer-sponsored coverage in the US is rarely provided free of charge to the employee. Going forward, it has still not been made clear precisely what level of coverage businesses will be required to offer their workers to qualify under the Obama health care legislation.

The HSC surveyed showed that employer-provided coverage has become increasingly unaffordable for a significant share of the workforce, particularly low-wage workers. Households with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line—$44,100 for a family of four in 2010—saw employer-sponsored health care coverage drop dramatically, from 42 percent in 2001 to only 24 percent in 2010.

In addition to low-wage workers, segments of the population seeing a disproportionate decline in coverage were young adults, people with a high school education or less, and those employed in small firms.

In 2007, among those aged 18 to 27, 70 percent lived in a household where at least one member was working and 43 percent were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. By 2010, only 50 percent lived in working households and employer coverage had dropped to 31 percent.

People in families headed by someone with a high school education or less saw their employer health coverage decline from 47 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2010. For those employed by companies with less than 100 workers, employer health coverage fell from 51 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2010.

As the CBO report demonstrates, the numbers of those losing their employer-sponsored coverage—whether they are dumped by their employer or can no longer afford it—will rise as a result of the Obama health care overhaul. This tendency will be exacerbated by the continuing rise of overall health care costs, driven in the main by the spiraling profits of the insurance companies and giant health care providers and pharmaceuticals.

A new report by the Annals of Family Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, predicts that the average cost of health insurance for American families will surpass average household income by 2033.

The report finds: “If health insurance premiums and national wages continue to grow at recent rates and the U.S. health system makes no major structural changes, the average cost of a family health insurance premium will equal 50 percent of the household income by the year 2021, and surpass the average household income by the year 2033.”

The Obama-sponsored health bill is aimed, not at improving health care provision, but cutting costs for the government and corporations. From the beginning, the Obama administration has pitched the overhaul as “deficit neutral,” making the spurious claim that hundreds of billions can be slashed from Medicare and other government programs while improving the accessibility and quality of care.

Notably, the CBO report states that under the worst-case scenario—in which 20 million people lose their employer-sponsored coverage—the federal government will actually save $13 billion relative to baseline projections. Under conditions of skyrocketing health care costs, this can only be the result of reductions in care and forcing people into cut-rate plans on the “insurance exchanges,” or into Medicaid and other government programs that are being targeted for sweeping cuts.

J.P. Morgan Chase’s Ugly Family Secrets Revealed

March 17th, 2012 by Matt Taibbi

In a story that should be getting lots of attention, American Banker has released an excellent and disturbing exposé of J.P. Morgan Chase’s credit card services division, relying on multiple current and former Chase employees. One of them, Linda Almonte, is a whistleblower whom I’ve known since last September; I’m working on a recount of her story for my next book.

One of the things we were promised by the lawmakers who passed the Dodd-Frank reform bill a few years back is that this would be a new era for whistleblowers who come forward to tell the world about problems in our financial infrastructure. This story now looms as a test case for that proposition. American Banker reporter Jeff Horwitz did an outstanding job in this story detailing the sweeping irregularities in-house at Chase, but his very thoroughness means the news may have ramifications for Linda, which is why I’m urging people to pay attention to this story in the upcoming weeks.

The Cliff’s Notes version of the story goes something like this: Late in 2009, Chase’s credit card services division sold a parcel of nearly $200 million worth of credit card judgments to a debt collector at a discount. This common practice in the credit-card industry is a little like a bookie selling the outstanding debts of his delinquent gamblers to a leg-breaker for 25 cents on the dollar. If the leg-breaker gets half the delinquents to pay, the deal works out for both sides — the bookie gets 25 percent of money he wasn’t going to collect, and the leg-breaker makes a 100 percent profit.

In the case of credit cards, of course, you’re selling the debts to collection agents, not leg-breakers, but aside from that unpleasantly minor distinction the process is the same. The most valuable kinds of sales in this world are sales of credit card judgments, in other words accounts in which the debtor has already been successfully brought to court. That, ostensibly, is what this bloc of accounts Chase sold in 2009 involved.

Almonte came to Chase in the summer of 2009 as a mid-level executive in the credit card services division’s offices in San Antonio, and was quickly put in charge of preparing the documentation for this enormous sale of credit card judgments. When Chase regional offices from places like southern California and Illinois began sending in the papers for these “judgments,” Almonte very soon found out that something was seriously wrong. From Horwitz’s piece:

Nearly half of the files [Linda's] team sampled were missing proofs of judgment or other essential information, she wrote to colleagues. Even more worrisome, she alleged in her wrongful-termination suit, nearly a quarter of the files misstated how much the borrower owed.

In the “vast majority” of those instances, the actual debt was “lower that what Chase was representing,” her suit stated.

Linda subsequently found an enormous range of errors. Some judgments, she told me, were not judgments at all. In some cases, she said, Chase actually owed the customer money.

When she brought these concerns to her superiors, what do you think their response was? They told her and others to shut up and just sell the stuff anyway. Her boss, Jason Lazinbat, allegedly told her “she had better go along with the plan to sell the misrepresented asset.”

Think of the consequences of this: because Chase was so anxious to make money off this debt sale, countless credit card borrowers would now have collection agents chasing them for money they did not owe. The debt-buyer, too, was victimized by being sold accounts it could not collect on. It is almost impossible to estimate how many man-hours of pointless court proceedings would be lost because of this decision.

Anyway, when Linda refused to go along with the sale, she was fired. This was in November of 2009. She then went through a post-firing odyssey that is an epic tale in itself: her many attempts to get any of the major bank regulators interested in this case were disturbingly fruitless for a long time (although the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is apparently looking into it now), and she struggled to find work in the industry.

She has been repeatedly harassed and has gone through all sorts of personal hardship as a result of this incident. She filed a whistleblower claim with the SEC as part of the new whistleblower program created by Dodd-Frank, but so far there’s been no progress there.

When I met Linda last year, my first reaction to her story was that I was skeptical. The tale she told went far beyond the bank knowingly selling millions of dollars worth of errors into the financial system. She also recounted, firsthand, the bank’s elaborate robosigning operation, which Horvitz, talking to other Chase employees, also discussed:

“We did not verify a single one” of the affidavits attesting to the amounts Chase was seeking to collect, says Howard Hardin, who oversaw a team handling tens of thousands of Chase debt files in San Antonio. “We were told [by superiors] ‘We’re in a hurry. Go ahead and sign them.’”

And there were other stories…suffice to say that the picture Linda painted of life inside Chase reminded me a little of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle: they were putting just about everything into those sausages. When I was writing it all up for my book I went through a period where I was waking up nights, seized with the urge to close every credit account I had – her story makes you think that most credit card companies are essentially indistinguishable from giant identity theft operations.

Again, though, when I first heard the story, I was skeptical – until I found other people in the company who verified Almonte’s account, all the way down the line. Horvitz, too, found numerous employees in Chase’s credit card services division who confirmed the story of the company knowingly selling a mountain of errors into the market, and manufacturing robo-signed documents to the tune of thousands per week.

The financial crash wouldn’t have happened if even a slim plurality of financial executives had done what Linda Almonte did, i.e. simply refuse to sign off on a bogus transaction. If companies had merely upheld their own stated policies and stayed within the ballpark of the law, none of these messes could have accumulated: fraudulent mortgages wouldn’t have been sold, families wouldn’t have been foreclosed upon based on robo-signed documentation, investors wouldn’t have been duped into buying huge packets of “misrepresented assets.”

But most executives didn’t refuse to go along, precisely because powerful companies make it so hard on people who come forward. Almonte, after being fired, entered into a modest settlement with Chase that prohibited her from coming forward publicly. At the time she entered into the settlement she was in an extremely desperate state, and she made a bad decision, taking a very bad deal.

Still, like Jeffery Wygand, the tobacco scientist from the movie The Insider, she was sitting on top of a story that, morally speaking, should not ever be protected by a confidentiality agreement — and the subsequent lack of regulatory action eventually moved her to speak out to people like Horvitz and me. Of course, now that her story is out there in public, the concern is that the bank will move swiftly to take her to court.

This person does not have any money, so an action by Chase at this point would be purely punitive, to send a message to future whistleblowers. They’ll be more likely to do it if they think no one is paying attention. I’ll keep you posted on that score.

In the meantime, please check out Horvitz’s piece. It should give everyone who has a credit card pause.

Azerbaijan: Mafia State

March 17th, 2012 by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

A 2009 U.S. embassy political dispatch compared Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to a mafia crime boss.   An apt comparison given that Aliyev and the Azeri political elite have been living under the protection of the Capo Crimini – Israel .    The protection does not come cheap; and the manufacture of the recent lie — the arrest of 22 Azerbaijani citizens allegedly “trained in Iran ” to carry out terrorist acts against the U.S. and Israel , is the latest protection payment.  

Capo Crimini’s  protection is noteworthy.   Aliyev, a corrupt dictator who came to power through election fraud in 2003, managed to make his rounds in Washington in 2006, including a private meeting with President Bush, thanks to the full weight of the Israeli lobby in Washington .  The promotion of the Azeri cause in Washington by the Israeli lobby (which included lobbying against Armenians), reinforced the notion that  “the way to Washington leads through Jerusalem ”1 while benefitting various players -  to the detriment of some others.   

Although much of Israel ’s oil comes from Azerbaijan , Israel was more interested in the control of the oil.  With this in mind, despite the fact that oil companies in the Caspian region favored the much shorter and cheaper oil pipeline that would transit Iran, Israel relentlessly pushed for the alternate, more expensive and impractical Baku-Tblisi-Cehan pipeline which pipeline had over 1000 miles of it going through mountainous territory bypassing Russia and Armenia.   This expensive venture also served to send the message to Turkey that alliance with Israel pays off. 

Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, was quoted as saying that the whole scheme was launched in the interest of Israel.2   Brenda Shafffer who was instrumental in promoting the pipeline,  put it this way: “There’s growing demand in Asia . If Israel is clever about it, it could market this not only commercially but also politically in a way that could improve regional security and stability.” (JTA, NY , Oct 21, 2005).      Shaffer is also of the opinion that Caspian oil (specifically non-OPEC members Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan ) makes Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel nervous because they do not coordinate their policies with the cartel.

These plans were made possible thanks to the aftermath of September 11.    9/11 changed everything – as a leading Azeri foreign policy specialist opined: “But the situation changed after Sept. 11, with American presence in Central Asia, Georgia and Azerbaijan ,” he explains. “Our being under the shadow of America means Russia and Iran will not meddle. We are able to be more courageous.” (Greene, Richard Allen.  Jewish Telegraphic Agency.  New York :Apr 29, 2002.  p. 4

More courageous, perhaps but the newfound courage lacks rationale and the needs of the people of Azerbaijan have been neglected.  Asim Mollazadeh, first Chairperson of the Party for Democratic Reforms prominent Azeri opposition candidate,  states that Azerbaijan receives only 10 percent of oil loyalties.   He argues that with 42 percent of the country living below poverty lines, the oil income does not trickle down.3    A heavy price to pay for Washington to feign welcome to  the Azeri dictator. 

In 2002, JTA reported that Israel ‘s ambassador to Azerbaijan had a favorite local joke: “Are you Jewish? No, I just look intelligent.”  (JTA Apr 29, 2002).    Insulting as the joke may be, inarguably, actions which  alienate the Russians, compete with Saudis, and magically pull  “22 Iran-linked terrorists” out of a hat do not  ‘look intelligent’.     

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has a Master’s degree in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg for Communication and Journalism and USC School of International Relations.  She is  an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy. 

Notes

1 Netty C. Gross; “The Azeri Triangle”, The Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2006, p. 24

2 Cited by Andrew l. Killgore, “Ideology Trumps Economic Efficiency, as The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Opens”, The Washington Report on Middle East Affair, Aug 2005, Vol. 24, iss. 6, p.32

3 Netty C. Gross; “The Azeri Triangle”

A report by the London-based Lombard Street Research, which says the Netherlands is badly handicapped by euro membership, and as a result the Dutch Freedom Party has called for a return to the Guilder.  Leader Geert Wilders has become the first political movement in the euro zone with a large popular base to opt for withdrawal from the single currency. The Freedom Party is a conservative populist party. We do not read Dutch, but the very fact that this information was only picked up by a few sources outside of the Netherlands shows you what managed news is all about.

Needless to say, the Hague disagrees with the report, which puts the cost for subsidizing and bailing out of the six nations in trouble at $3.2 trillion. We set the costs months ago at $4 to $6 trillion. Mr. Wilders’ answer is if they disagree with the report, why don’t they have the guts to hold a referendum? Let the Dutch people decide.

The report says as we have said so often, that the euro zone cannot survive in its current form. Dealing this year with Ireland, Portugal and Greece should be relatively easy by letting them slide away. Spain and Italy have partially been shunted aside and by the time they are dealt with they will be even weaker than they are now. The socialist mind set is to push problems into the future, which only worsens the problems. The big question is will Europe strive for world government and allow it to thoroughly destroy the EU financially and economically?

The stark costs in Holland have been easy to appreciate. Over the past ten years its growth rate fell from 3% over the preceding 20 years to 1.25% under the euro, versus 2.25% in Sweden and 1.75% in Switzerland. Their inflation has been lower and prosperity greater. They also created more jobs then Holland and Germany. Of course, the bought and paid for one-worlders in The Hague, and Berlin ignore all that. All they can think of is the 4th Reich. The EU and the euro zone were set up to accomplish this and to subsidize the six sovereigns who were living lives far beyond their means.

The exercise we just saw in Greece was another holding action to buying more time as the conditions in all of the weak sovereigns continues to deteriorate. We see Greece, Portugal and Ireland probably leaving the euro zone, exiting the euro, defaulting and leaving a trail of financial rubble behind. That is good and bad. The good part is they have been dispensed with and are no longer an official liability, on the other part the solvent nations, such as Holland, are left holding massive worthless debt. Our answer is they should have thought about that year’s ago.

As we stated so often over the years one interest rate can never serve all. The south was allowed to borrow too cheaply and too much. That is the main reason for the euro zone’s failure. It was apparent a few years ago trouble was on the way when a number of nations’ citizens voted against a European Constitution, but their bought and paid for representatives, who serve the ruling class not the people, overrode them. Patience of the electorate has worn thin and we can only see radical change ahead.

This has forced Dutch PM Mark Rutte to demand budget cuts in southern Europe, which do little good, because few are listening. He has to cut the Dutch budget about $12 billion, which is equal to 1.5% of GDP to hold up the ratings of all of the participants, except Germany and Finland. Public sentiment to all this is negative and there is now the probability Rutte’s government will collapse. If that happens it could quickly lead to the fall of the euro.

Holland is in its second recession in three years and unemployment has risen to 5%. Consumer confidence is a minus 37, the lowest since 2003. For the 5th year Holland has missed its mandated goal of public debt at 3% of GDP. It is currently about 4.5% in great part the result of bailouts and subsidies to those who are unable to play by the rules.

Dutch debt is rising to 73% of GDP from 69.7%. The EU limit is 60% of GDP. By comparison German debt to GDP is 81.8% and it is 47.2% in Finland.

The solvent countries are paying a terrible personal price to subsidize the southern tier.

How can Greece be better off receiving $25 billion and with more debt and less sovereignty? The citizens are still demonstrating and revenue collections have fallen off a cliff. Greece is still competing on euro terms, which still makes them uncompetitive.

In spite of the CDS market opting for a partial default to save their business we expect the NYC banks to experience much less business. Participation in sovereign debt will simply fall apart and interest rates will not return to lower levels.

Taking up the rear is the IMF, which plans to contribute $30 billion in this second Greek bailout, which is 14% of the total, of which about 19% comes from American taxpayers. That is down from 27% in the first package. Of that $30 billion, $12.7 billion comes from funds left over and not used in the first bailout. Approval may come on March 15th.

The ECB and solvent euro zone countries want excess liquidity drained from the system ASAP. Their finance ministers want to revive debate on a stronger firewall, but that doesn’t seem probable after the German court said that the ESM was unconstitutional.

Complicating matters every couple of weeks a new corruption scandal is uncovered. Not just among Greeks in government, but the German company Siemens was convicted of bribes and paid a fine of $170 million and will have to create 700 new jobs in Greece. In fact the current finance minister Venezelos has been deeply involved in corruption as well, and that goes back many years. We believe the control freaks in northern Europe have finally figured out that there is no way to deal with the Greek culture from a mid-European cultural aspect, or from accepted law. To a more or lesser degree the same thing exists in the other four troubled countries.

As we pointed out earlier Holland’s austerity measures in behalf of bailouts for Greece and others are putting tremendous pressure on their economy.

In 2011 Germany failed to reach its austerity goals and they are behind schedule this year as well. Only 42% of spending cuts named by Mrs. Merkel’s coalition government were implemented. There were $6.16 billion in cuts and that is from a total of $14.7 billion. It’s do as I say not as I do. Of $25.4 billion in savings less than half has become reality. The goal is to eliminate all borrowing by 2020. These rules should have a heavy impact on all EU economies and probably will bring about the purge that is necessary to save what is left of the world financial system.

Just to show you how out of touch with reality euro zone finance ministers are they want to again revive debate on raising the EU firewall backup funds for bailouts. In order to do that Germany would have to amend its constitution. We don’t think the voters will allow them to do that.

At the same time German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wants a Europe wide tax on financial transactions. He joins nine other ministers from other countries who want to foist another tax on the citizens of Europe.

The US press gave little or no coverage of a 500,000 person peaceful march in Spain over labor reform, that switches more power to employers and makes it cheaper to fire workers. They marched in 60 cities.

Over in Italy the appointed president Mario Monti is trying to do the same thing as Spain to fatten corporate profits.

All is not always what it seems to be. The CFTC announced that the CME Clearing Europe LTD has vacated the registration of CMECEL, as a derivative’s clearing operation. This has been a very lucrative market for the CME in CDS alone, which is a $50 trillion market. Is that why CME’s CEO Craig Donohue, who is a flamboyant liar has resigned?

The Greek bailout has to stink to high heaven and this move by the CME could be the beginnings of trouble or perhaps even a scandal. At the last minute somehow miraculously the quota was completed at 95% of private participants to get the deal done. Could it be extortion, blackmail and payoffs were employed? If we had to guess we’d say yes. Eventually losses of 74% were taken. On the other hand the real depth of the CDS losses by six NYC money center legacy banks we predict could be close to $30 billion. If that becomes fact, that means those banks, which own the Fed, would have to again be bailed out by the Fed. This could be TARP all over again, but this time the public would have no knowledge of such a bailout until someone goes poking around, like Bloomberg did and finally won their appeal exposing what liars the Fed and its owners are. The Greek debt crisis is not fine and all the top people in the EU are well aware of that. A little bird also tells us some of the private bondholders are taking legal action. It has to be serious when the German Finance minister says, “We must be preparing now, any day, for a third bailout.” The bottom line is Greece has not been saved and the euro is in serious trouble. As we said years ago this unnatural association is doomed to failure. The only question is when does Greece fail? It could be in May or perhaps by the end of the year.

Young people 18 to 25 years old fight wars. Their unemployment across Europe is staggering. That is 49.5% in Spain along with 22% among others. In Greece youth unemployment is 51.1%; otherwise it is 21%. In Greece that is more than 1 million young people and that is up 41% yoy. Only about 4 million people have jobs, or 36.1% of the population of about 11 million. Greece is in depression and they cannot service debt nor roll over existing debt. That means soon they will need more money.

In regard to future bailout funds the French expect a merger of the EFSF when the ESM is approved. The German Federal Court says it is unconstitutional for the German parliament to approve such a measure. Yet, Europe’s one-worlders proceed as if they had never heard of the German Court decision. These people live in a psychotic fantasy world believing only they have the answers.

 

This reader in our I-book series deals with the rising tensions in the Persian Gulf between the West and Iran and what appears increasingly to be a collision course for war.

We examine the heart of the matter in order to empower our readers with knowledge and truth about what is really happening in the region and why, and, more importantly, what is at stake.

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War Plan Iran

Dispelling the Lies, Telling the Truth about
Western Aggression in the Persian Gulf

Finian Cunningham and Michel Chossudovsky (Editors)

GR Online Reader Series

I-Book No. 4. 2012, January 16, 2012

The year 2012 may become known as a watershed for humanity – the year when mankind was precipitated into a global conflagration involving nuclear weapons. The signs are indeed grimly ominous as formidable military forces converge on the Persian Gulf in the long-running stand-off between the United States and Iran.

On side with the US are its European allies in NATO, primarily Britain, Washington’s Middle East client states: Israel and the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf – all bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Recent naval exercises by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz have also displayed a fierce arsenal of missiles and military capability, and Iran has strategic alliances with Russia and China, both of whom will not stand idly by if their Persian partner is attacked.

As we have consistently analysed on Global Research, the conflict between the US-led powers and Iran has wider ramifications. It is part and parcel of Washington’s bid to engineer the social and political upheavals across the Arab World in order to redraw the region in its strategic interests. It is no coincidence that fresh from NATO’s conquest of and regime change in Libya, the focus has quickly shifted to Syria – a key regional ally of Iran. As Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out “the road to Tehran goes through to Damascus”. Regime change in Syria would serve to isolate Iran. Subjugating Iran and returning it to Western tutelage is the prize that Washington and its allies have been seeking for the past 33 years ever since their client the Shah, Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi, was deposed by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Iran is an energy-rich colossus, with oil and, more importantly, natural gas reserves that put it, with approximately 10% of global reserves, in the world’s top three oil economies alongside Washington’s client states of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.  In sharp contrast, the US has less than  2% of global oil reserves.

The conquest of Iran’s oil riches is the driving force behind America’s military agenda.

The US-led conquest of Iraq – costing over a million lives in a nine-year occupation – is part of Washington’s long-held plans to dominate the globe’s vast energy resources that reside in the Persian Gulf and Central Asian regions. The decade-long war in Afghanistan is another flank in this US bid for hegemony over the fuel for the capitalist world economy. For nearly three decades, the US-led Western capitalist world has been deprived of exploiting Iranian energy wealth. The Islamic Republic has remained defiantly independent of Washington’s control, not just in terms of its vast hydrocarbon riches, but also politically. Iran is no puppet of the West as it was formerly under the despotic Shah Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi.

Tehran has shown itself to be a trenchant critic of Western imperialist meddling in the region and fawning over the criminal Israeli persecution of Palestinians. Another important source of Western animus towards Iran and the deeply held desire for regime change is the loss that the Iranian revolution implies for the lucrative American, British and French weapons industry.  When Shah Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi was kicked out in February 1979, so too was a massive market for Western arms dealers.  The recent $50 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia – the “biggest-ever in history” – that had the Pentagon salivating, would be easily replicated in Iran, if a similar client regime could be installed there.

From the Western powers’ point of view, Iran is both an elusive prize and a frustrating obstacle. Bringing Iran back into the orbit of Western capitalist control has the added significance of depriving energy and other geopolitical advantages to rival powers, in particular Russia and China. In a strategic review earlier this month, Washington highlighted China as its pre-eminent global competitor in the coming decades. The militarized agenda towards China was also heralded by US President Barack Obama during his Asia-Pacific tour at the end of 2011. China is heavily dependent on Iranian oil. Some 20 per cent of all Iranian crude oil exports are traded with China. The latter has billions of dollars worth of energy investments in Iran, in particular the natural gas sector, which energy analysts view as the primary fuel in forthcoming decades. Washington’s policy of hostility and regime change towards Iran and furthering its hegemony over this vital region is as much about wresting control from its perceived competitors, Russia and China.  That factor takes on added importance as America’s economic power wanes.

These issues form the bigger picture that explains the drive for war in the Persian Gulf, which the mainstream media has chosen to carefully ignore. The broader implications of this war are either trivialized or not mentioned. People are led to believe that war is part of a “humanitarian mandate” and that both Iran as well as Iran’s allies, namely China and Russia, constitute an unrelenting threat to global security and “Western democracy”

While the most advanced weapons system are used, America’s wars are never presented as “killing operations” resulting in extensive civilian casualties.  While the incidence of “collateral damage” is acknowledged, US-led wars are heralded as an unquestionable instrument of “peace-making” and “democratization”.

The selection of articles below is intended to give readers a condensed overview of the events and issues at stake in the so-called stand-off between the US, its allies, and Iran. We have selected articles with a news emphasis while also providing a historical background.

In Part I, Playing with Fire: Covert Acts of Aggression, Provocation and War, our reports and analyses show how the military build-up in the Persian Gulf has an alarming deliberation and potential for an all-out regional conflict. We also expose Washington’s criminal covert war against Iran, including the assassination of Iranian scientists and the incursion of the country’s territory with spy drones. However, we don’t merely report the occurrence of these events, our writers show how this mainly US-led militarization is part of the wider strategy for American global dominance.

We also demonstrate in Part II, War-Making is a Crime: The Latest Episode in America’s Long Record, that the belligerent policy of Washington and its allies is criminal. Before even firing a shot, the Western powers are violating international laws and protocols of diplomacy. Equipped with this legal insight and knowledge is essential for citizens to mount an effective anti-war movement. In this section, we also provide a historical background showing that Washington’s hostility towards Iran is but the latest episode in a long history of criminal war-making by the US.

Central to the Western powers’ avowed rationale in the Persian Gulf is their presentation of Iran as a threat to world peace, in particular from its alleged development of nuclear weapons.  In Part III, Media Manipulation: Lies, Distortions and Selling Yet Another War to the Public, we dispel the myths, fog and fabrications behind these allegations to show that Iran does not have, nor is intending to build, nuclear weapons. Its “nuclear ambitions” (a phrase so often said with sinister connotations) are to develop civilian energy and medical capabilities – well within the provisions and entitlements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Countless inspections over several years by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have not found any evidence to support Western claims. Yet these well-worn and hollow claims continue to be recycled in the mainstream media. The IAEA has also shown itself to have become a willing political tool for Western governments and intelligence agencies by casting sinister doubt on the Iranian nuclear programme even though the IAEA has not found any proof to justify such doubts. We show that the supposed nuclear threat feared by the Western powers is a specious pretext for their otherwise criminal aggression towards Iran and its 80 million people.

Finally, in Part IV Towards a Global Conflagration, we point to the very real danger of a horrendous cataclysm – if Western governments persist in their criminal drumbeat for war in the Persian Gulf. Russia and China are fully aware that a war on Iran is a stepping stone towards a broader war. The Russian government, in a recent statement, has warned the US and NATO that  “should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security.”

The region is on a hair-trigger for a conflagration that would involve nuclear weapons and the collision of global powers in what would constitute World War III. The consequences are barely imaginable for the loss of life in such a scenario and for the very future of the planet. Yet all the while, the mainstream media has served to justify this march to war or to downplay its horrific possibilities.

The complacency of Western public opinion –including segments of the US anti-war movement– is disturbing. No concern has been expressed at the political level as to the likely consequences of  a US-NATO-Israel attack on Iran, using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state.

Such an action would result in “the unthinkable”: a nuclear holocaust over a large part of the Middle East. It should be noted that a nuclear nightmare would occur even if nuclear weapons were not used. The bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities using conventional weapons would contribute to unleashing a Chernobyl-Fukushima type disaster with extensive radioactive fallout.

The “Globalization of War” involving the hegemonic deployment of a formidable US-NATO military force in all major regions of the World is inconsequential in the eyes of the Western media.

War is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities. The broader implications of this war on Iran are either trivialized or not mentioned. People are led to believe that war is part of a “humanitarian mandate” and that both Iran as well as Iran’s allies, namely China and Russia, constitute an unrelenting threat to global security and “Western democracy”.

In the face of ceaseless media disinformation, We at Global Research are committed to raising public awareness of the injustice and criminality being perpetrated by Western governments. We began this News Reader by saying that 2012 could be a watershed year for ominous reasons. It could also be a watershed year for a better future in which citizens rise up to avert war and overthrow their oppressive governments, to create societies that are worthy of human beings. In order to achieve that, we first need to know what is at stake and why. This Online News Reader (N-Book) aims to do that.

Finian Cunningham, Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, January 16, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I

Playing with Fire: Covert Acts of Aggression, Provocation and War


Beating the Drums of War: Provoking Iran into “Firing the First Shot”?
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-01-14

Very few people in America are aware or informed regarding the devastation and massive loss of life which would occur in the case of a US-Israeli sponsored attack on Iran.


Terror Attacks, U.S.-Israeli War Games Raise the Prospects for War with Iran
- by Tom Burghardt – 2012-01-14


Assassination in Iran: Obama Administration is CEO of “Murder Inc”
Clinton denies US involvement in murder of nuclear scientist
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-01-13

Iran Says It Has Evidence CIA Was Behind Assassination Of Scientist- 2012-01-15


The Geo-Politics of the Strait of Hormuz: Could the U.S. Navy be defeated by Iran in the Persian Gulf?
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2012-01-08

The Pentagon’s own war simulations show that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the U.S. Navy.


FINANCIAL WARFARE: US Sabotage of Iran’s Currency: A New Twist of the Screw to War

- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-01-03


War Plan Iran: China Snubs Washington’s Best-Laid Plans to Destabilize Iran’s Oil Industry
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-01-10


Building Another Pretext to Wage War on Iran: US Court Holds Tehran Responsible for the 9/11 Attacks
$100 billion in damages
- by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2011-12-27


Downed CIA Stealth Drone Marks Another Step Towards America’s War On Iran
- by Finian Cunningham – 2011-12-07


Pearl Harbor: 70 Years on, Is Iran the New Japan?
- by Finian Cunningham – 2011-12-08

PART II

War-Making is a Crime: The Latest Episode in America’s Long Record


War Plan Iran: The US Finally Admits Its Criminal Bankruptcy.
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-01-09

“Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” says US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. So if Iran is not even trying to develop a nuclear weapon, what then is the criminal US warmongering predicated on?


Waging War against Iran is a Criminal Act, in Violation of International Law
The death toll from World War III will be incalculable…
- by Prof. Francis A. Boyle – 2012-01-07

US Obligated to Take Iran Dispute to International Arbitration
- by Sherwood Ross – 2012-01-07


Manipulation of the UN Security Council in support of the US-NATO Military Agenda
Coercion, Intimidation & Bribery used to Extort Approval from Reluctant Members
- by Carla Stea – 2012-01-10

PART III

Media Manipulation: Lies, Distortions and Selling Yet Another War to the Public


VIDEO: Faking It: How the Media Manipulates the World into War
- by James Corbett – 2012-01-02

The centuries-long history of how media has been used to whip the nation into wartime frenzy, dehumanize the supposed enemies, and even to manipulate the public into believing in causes for war that, decades later, were admitted to be completely fictitious.


Israel: “Wiped off The Map”. Rumor of the Century, Fabricated by the US Media to Justify An All out War on Iran

- by Arash Norouzi – 2012-01-04


Using Fake Intelligence to Justify War on Iran
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-11-09

Washington is in the process of concocting a new string of lies pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program with a view to justifying the implementation of punitive bombings.


Media Manipulation and the Drums of War: How Media is used to Whip the Nation into Wartime Frenzy
- by James Corbett – 2012-01-03

PART IV

Towards a Global Conflagration


World War III: The Launching of a Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-12-04

World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans.


IRAN: The Next War on Washington’s Agenda Politics

- by Dr Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-01-13


The American-Iranian Cold War in the Middle East and the Threat of A Broader War
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2012-01-01

A Cold War between Tehran and Washington has been raging across the Middle East from Lebanon to Iraq and the Persian Gulf with the use of spies, drones, assassinations, and perception campaigns.


When War Games Go Live. Preparing to Attack Iran. “Simulating World War III”
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-01-08

With ongoing war games on both sides, armed hostilities between the US-Israel led coalition and Iran are, according to Israeli military analysts, “dangerously close”.


Imperial Military Adventurism: Tensions Rise as the U.S. Imposes the ‘Nuclear Option’ on Iran’s Economy
Blocking oil Shipments through the Strait of Hormuz…
- by Tom Burghardt – 2012-01-02


Preparing to Attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons: “No Option can be taken off the Table.”

- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-12-26


Red Lines and Ticking Clocks: U.S. War Plans Against Iran
The possibility of Russia’s Military Involvement…
- by Tom Burghardt – 2011-12-26 Any conflict on Iran is a direct threat to Russia’s security – Rogozin
US-NATO AMD Target Russia. Will Russia Intervene Militarily against the US in the Case of an Attack on Iran
- 2012-01-13


Why Attacking Iran Will Not Work in 2012. Failure could Result in a US-Israel Military and Economic Tailspin

- by Patrick Henningsen – 2012-01-05


Why Not Attack Iran?
Iran will retaliate against U.S. troops and Israel
- by David Swanson – 2012-01-06


Obama’s New Military Strategy: Targeting Nations which Challenge US Hegemony
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-01-07


IMPLOSION OF THE MIDDLE EAST: Destabilizing Iraq and Syria, Recalibrating America’s War Plans directed against Iran
- by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2012-01-06

For more background analysis consult our latest Online Interactive I-Book


The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER
- by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-01-31

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NEW RELEASE: Now in Paperback

Towards a World War III Scenario
by Michel Chossudovsky

WWIII Scenario

 It’s been exactly 50 years since Americans, or at least the non-poor among them, “discovered” poverty, thanks to Michael Harrington’s engaging book The Other America. If this discovery now seems a little overstated, like Columbus’s “discovery” of America, it was because the poor, according to Harrington, were so “hidden” and “invisible” that it took a crusading left-wing journalist to ferret them out.  

Harrington’s book jolted a nation that then prided itself on its classlessness and even fretted about the spirit-sapping effects of “too much affluence.” He estimated that one quarter of the population lived in poverty — inner-city blacks, Appalachian whites, farm workers, and elderly Americans among them. We could no longer boast, as President Nixon had done in his “kitchen debate” with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow just three years earlier, about the splendors of American capitalism.

At the same time that it delivered its gut punch, The Other America also offered a view of poverty that seemed designed to comfort the already comfortable. The poor were different from the rest of us, it argued, radically different, and not just in the sense that they were deprived, disadvantaged, poorly housed, or poorly fed. They felt different, too, thought differently, and pursued lifestyles characterized by shortsightedness and intemperance. As Harrington wrote, “There is… a language of the poor, a psychology of the poor, a worldview of the poor. To be impoverished is to be an internal alien, to grow up in a culture that is radically different from the one that dominates the society.”

Harrington did such a good job of making the poor seem “other” that when I read his book in 1963, I did not recognize my own forbears and extended family in it. All right, some of them did lead disorderly lives by middle class standards, involving drinking, brawling, and out-of-wedlock babies. But they were also hardworking and in some cases fiercely ambitious — qualities that Harrington seemed to reserve for the economically privileged.

According to him, what distinguished the poor was their unique “culture of poverty,” a concept he borrowed from anthropologist Oscar Lewis, who had derived it from his study of Mexican slum-dwellers. The culture of poverty gave The Other America a trendy academic twist, but it also gave the book a conflicted double message: “We” — the always presumptively affluent readers — needed to find some way to help the poor, but we also needed to understand that there was something wrong with them, something that could not be cured by a straightforward redistribution of wealth. Think of the earnest liberal who encounters a panhandler, is moved to pity by the man’s obvious destitution, but refrains from offering a quarter — since the hobo might, after all, spend the money on booze. 

In his defense, Harrington did not mean that poverty was caused by what he called the “twisted” proclivities of the poor. But he certainly opened the floodgates to that interpretation. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a sometime-liberal and one of Harrington’s drinking companions at the famed White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village — blamed inner-city poverty on what he saw as the shaky structure of the “Negro family,” clearing the way for decades of victim-blaming. A few years after The Moynihan Report, Harvard urbanologist Edward C. Banfield, who was to go on to serve as an advisor to Ronald Reagan, felt free to claim that:

“The lower-class individual lives from moment to moment… Impulse governs his behavior… He is therefore radically improvident: whatever he cannot consume immediately he considers valueless… [He] has a feeble, attenuated sense of self.”

In the “hardest cases,” Banfield opined, the poor might need to be cared for in “semi-institutions… and to accept a certain amount of surveillance and supervision from a semi-social-worker-semi-policeman.”

By the Reagan era, the “culture of poverty” had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology: poverty was caused, not by low wages or a lack of jobs, but by bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles. The poor were dissolute, promiscuous, prone to addiction and crime, unable to “defer gratification,” or possibly even set an alarm clock. The last thing they could be trusted with was money. In fact, Charles Murray argued in his 1984 book Losing Ground, any attempt to help the poor with their material circumstances would only have the unexpected consequence of deepening their depravity.

So it was in a spirit of righteousness and even compassion that Democrats and Republicans joined together to reconfigure social programs to cure, not poverty, but the “culture of poverty.” In 1996, the Clinton administration enacted the “One Strike” rule banning anyone who committed a felony from public housing. A few months later, welfare was replaced by Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which in its current form makes cash assistance available only to those who have jobs or are able to participate in government-imposed “workfare.”

In a further nod to “culture of poverty” theory, the original welfare reform bill appropriated $250 million over five years for “chastity training” for poor single mothers. (This bill, it should be pointed out, was signed by Bill Clinton.)

Even today, more than a decade later and four years into a severe economic downturn, as people continue to slide into poverty from the middle classes, the theory maintains its grip. If you’re needy, you must be in need of correction, the assumption goes, so TANF recipients are routinely instructed in how to improve their attitudes and applicants for a growing number of safety-net programs are subjected to drug-testing. Lawmakers in 23 states are considering testing people who apply for such programs as job training, food stamps, public housing, welfare, and home heating assistance. And on the theory that the poor are likely to harbor criminal tendencies, applicants for safety net programs are increasingly subjected to finger-printing and computerized searches for outstanding warrants.

Unemployment, with its ample opportunities for slacking off, is another obviously suspect condition, and last year 12 states considered requiring pee tests as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits. Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have suggested drug testing as a condition for all government benefits, presumably including Social Security. If granny insists on handling her arthritis with marijuana, she may have to starve.

What would Michael Harrington make of the current uses of the “culture of poverty” theory he did so much to popularize? I worked with him in the 1980s, when we were co-chairs of Democratic Socialists of America, and I suspect he’d have the decency to be chagrined, if not mortified. In all the discussions and debates I had with him, he never said a disparaging word about the down-and-out or, for that matter, uttered the phrase “the culture of poverty.” Maurice Isserman, Harrington’s biographer, told me that he’d probably latched onto it in the first place only because “he didn’t want to come off in the book sounding like a stereotypical Marxist agitator stuck-in-the-thirties.”

The ruse — if you could call it that — worked. Michael Harrington wasn’t red-baited into obscurity.  In fact, his book became a bestseller and an inspiration for President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. But he had fatally botched the “discovery” of poverty. What affluent Americans found in his book, and in all the crude conservative diatribes that followed it, was not the poor, but a flattering new way to think about themselves — disciplined, law-abiding, sober, and focused. In other words, not poor.

Fifty years later, a new discovery of poverty is long overdue. This time, we’ll have to take account not only of stereotypical Skid Row residents and Appalachians, but of foreclosed-upon suburbanites, laid-off tech workers, and America’s ever-growing army of the “working poor.” And if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (now in a 10th anniversary edition with a new afterword).

This is a joint TomDispatch/Nation article and appears in print at the Nation magazine.

VIDEO: Al Qaeda and US-NATO Special Forces on the Ground in Syria

March 16th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

On Monday, the settlement between five major banks and the federal and state governments of foreclosure-related fraud charges was filed in federal district court in Washington, DC. The agreement must be approved by the court to take effect.

The settlement, reported to be worth $25 billion, was announced February 9 and hailed by President Obama as a serious rebuke to the banks and boon to distressed homeowners. (See: “Obama administration brokers pro-bank mortgage fraud settlement”).

It is nothing of the kind. It quashes investigations by 49 state attorneys general into wholesale fraud and illegality committed by the five biggest mortgage servicers in their rush to foreclose on homeowners and seize their houses. The abuses first surfaced in the fall of 2010, amid reports of “robo-signing” of foreclosure papers and court submissions.

It was revealed that bank employees and contractors routinely vouched for the accuracy of documents affirming the banks’ title to targeted homes without having ascertained the facts or having even read the documents they were signing. The process was rife with forgeries, fraudulent notarizations, inflated job descriptions of the signers and other violations of the law.

The federal complaint against the banks filed Monday as well as audit reports on the five institutions posted Tuesday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inspector general show that the illegal actions covered by the now-suppressed probes went well beyond the fraudulent processing of documents.

The government charged the banks with eight counts of violating federal and state foreclosure and lending laws, including levying improper fees on homeowners who fell behind on their payments, failing to provide proper documentation on foreclosures, losing paperwork after consumers asked for loan assistance, and wrongfully denying consumers who asked for help.

The complaint alleged that the five mortgage servicers’ malfeasance “resulted in the issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members’ and other homeowners’ rights and protections, the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.”

The inspector general’s reports documented the fact that the “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents was ordered by top management at the banks. They also accused all five banks of impeding the government investigation into their practices.

Far from a blow to the banks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial—the settlement filed Monday is a whitewash designed to shield them from potentially tens of billions in fines and damages arising from the state investigations. The banks largely dictated the terms of the settlement in the course of 16 months of negotiations, during which the Obama administration pressured recalcitrant state governments, particularly California and New York, to sign onto the deal. Under the agreement, the banks do not admit to any wrongdoing.

In return for the ending of the state probes, the banks have merely to pay a combined fine of $5 billion. Of this, $1.5 billion is to be set aside to pay some 750,000 illegally foreclosed homeowners a token sum of $1,500 to $2,000 each. Not one of the families whose homes were effectively stolen by the banks will be made whole.

The remainder of the reported $25 billion in the agreement is in the form of relief to be provided by the banks to “underwater” homeowners—those who owe more on their mortgages than the market value of their homes. Of this, $10 billion will supposedly go to reducing the principal on home loans, $3 billion to lowering monthly interest rates, and the other $7 billion to short sales and other measures to allow delinquent borrowers to avoid foreclosure. The latter procedures are already being carried out by the banks, so they will receive $7 billion in credit for what they are already doing.

The Financial Times reported last month that the bulk of the cost of the settlement will be covered by taxpayer funds. At the insistence of the Obama administration, the banks will be allowed to make use of an existing federal program, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which provides public funds to banks that agree to reduce the principal on troubled home loans. Nearly two-thirds of the value of any write-downs the five banks make will be recompensed with funds from this program, the Financial Times reported.

Even if all of these measures are carried out, less than 5 percent of the nation’s 11.1 million underwater homeowners will be eligible for aid, according to an analysis by Ted Gayer, co-director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

The HUD inspector general’s reports show the undisguised contempt of the banks for the government investigation. Bank of America, for example, refused to provide complete files and documents and refused to provide some of its foreclosure policies to HUD investigators. It failed to fully comply with subpoenas. It also limited employee interviews and ordered employees not to answer certain questions.

JPMorgan would not provide certain records, while other records were incomplete. Wells Fargo did not allow the inspector general to interview some employees and failed to provide information in a “timely manner,” the inspector general reported. Ally Financial put up similar roadblocks, according to the inspector general’s report on that bank.

Despite these attempts at sabotage, the HUD reports document the systematic fraud carried out by the banks, providing damning examples. One notary reported his workload going from 60 to 200 documents per day to more than 20,000. Another employee reported signing 18-inch stacks of documents at a time.

Wells Fargo employees reported signing as many as 600 documents per day. When employees told upper-level management they could not handle the workload, the bank shortened the turnaround time for document signatures.

Citigroup’s mortgage unit “regularly signed foreclosure documents when not in the presence” of a notary public, as required by law, the inspector general said.

The report on Ally Financial said that an employee “routinely” signed 400 foreclosure affidavits per day and 10,000 a month without reviewing the supporting documentation.

JPMorgan Chase supervisors told HUD officials they often signed affidavits as an “assistant secretary” or “vice president,” when those were not their official titles. They had simply been given those titles by Chase to allow them to sign legal documents.

That the government rewarded the banks for breaking the law and then refusing to cooperate with investigators by giving them a sweetheart deal underscores the complete impunity with which the American financial aristocracy carries out its acts of social plunder. Like the French Ancien Regime, they are a law unto themselves and not subject to the rules that apply to the “mob.”

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Con mucho de tenacidad, unos sesenta países occidentales y árabes se reunieron en Túnez –convertido en La Meca de las revoluciones primaverales- para una conferencia internacional sobre Siria: y esto con el objetivo de expresar al pueblo sirio, degollado por el “Vampiro de Damasco”, su amistad calurosa así como sus sentimientos más distinguidos.

Generalidades

Entre estos conferenciantes audaces, nosotros distinguimos los fantasmas de los grandes oradores de la primera Revolución francesa, encarnados en personajes defensores de la humanidad y de los derechos humanos más célebres, tales como el ministro saudí de Asuntos Exteriores, Faysal –una figura notable en el terreno de la lucha de los derechos de las mujeres, amigo de Vergniaud-; el ministro tunecino de Asuntos Exteriores, Abdul Salam– un revolucionario primaveral distinguido, amigo de Danton – ; el primer ministro qatari, Hamad – un déspota infaliblemente “iluminado”, padrino del folletín « Las primaveras en los países Árabes », « uno de los más poderosos señores de Wesfalia, porque su castillo tenía una puerta y ventanas » – ; la secretaria de Estado del Imperio estadounidense, Clinton – oradora conocida por su defensa de los derechos del hombre árabe, sobre todo en Bahreïn, en Yémen, en Libia y en Palestina, amiga de Robespierre – ; sin olvidar, ciertamente, al presidente del “Consejo Nacional sirio” señor Burhan Ghalioun – un jacobino en periodo de prueba, posmoderno y burlesco a la vez, que fue precipitado al teatro de la Santa Revolución siria aullando: “Libertad, Igualdad, Fraternidad”, amigo de Desmoulins.

Summum de la campaña política contra Siria

Es aún una cosa universalmente conocida, que después de diversos descalabros, los implicados en la conjura contra Siria, a su cabeza los emires y sultanes de la península Arábica, que, desprovistos de toda cualidad se permiten elevarse al rango de Arcángeles guardianes de los derechos humanos, buscan unirse en la escena internacional, con la voz y los puños en alto, para proferir nuevas amenazas al presidente sirio, Bashar al-Assad, y para prometerle nuevas series de sanciones y de presiones para que él les ceda Siria.

Por tanto, antes de dejarse tomar por la “danza con el lobo” y las injurias del Capitán Haddock, observemos el trayecto que había tomado la campaña árabo-atlántica a los niveles político, diplomático y militar, desde el 4 de octubre de 2011, fecha del primer proyecto de resolución del Consejo de Seguridad sobre Siria.

En primer lugar, la campaña política contra Siria alcanza su “pináculo” el segundo día del mes de octubre, fecha del nacimiento del miserable “Consejo Nacional Sirio” y de la elección de su presidente, señor Burhan Ghalioun. Nosotros nos acordamos bien de ese día augusto en que el Sr. Ghalioun se ha precipitado sobre la escena de los acontecimientos históricos invistiéndose en Camille Desmoulins, levantando con su mano derecha el “Manifiesto primaveral” del CNS, que no era, en efecto, mas que una amalgama de ideas entrelazando las declaraciones de los filósofos de las Luces con las de los “Hermanos Musulmanes”. Sin embargo, al día siguiente de ese día grandioso, la multitud opositora – aglomerándose bajo el estandarte del CNS – se despertó muy pronto por la mañana, para realizar todo ese ruido que ella habría hecho la víspera, en que quedaba sin horizonte político alguno.

Desprovista de otra agenda precisa, que no sea la de las ofensas y los gritos de guerra, la multitud opositora se encontraba de nuevo en punto de partida, incapaz de dar un paso adelante, que le permitiera empujar más lejos con presiones políticas contra Siria. Por el contrario, para no dejar a la multitud perdida en su laberinto, dos días más tarde, el 4 de octubre, la Santa-Alianza arabo-atlántica cabalga en socorro del CNS y presenta un proyecto de resolución al Consejo de Seguridad, incriminando al Presidente sirio y abriendo la puerta a una intervención militar en Siria. Felizmente este proyecto fue detenido por la oposición de doble veto chino y ruso, que cae como una borrasca sobre la cabeza de la Santa- Alianza. Para el ministro francés de Asuntos exteriores, Sr. Allain Juppé, el jaque mate del Consejo para adoptar una resolución condenatoria para Damasco era <> y « para el Consejo de Seguridad ». Desprovistos de toda modestia, Tanto París como Washington prometieron continuar “apoyando” « las aspiraciones de libertad y democracia del pueblo sirio » Sr. Juppé aseguró que « la lucha de los demócratas sirios por la libertad es un combate justo», y que Francia continuará apoyándola firmemente « con todos los países que lo deseen ». France saludó, algunos días antes, la formación del « Consejo nacional sirio », y llamó al presidente Bachar al-Assad a dejar el poder.

«En prisión hasta el día en que la ley y el curso regular de las sesiones de justicia te llamen a responder! », aúlla Brabantio en Otelo.

Trayecto descendente de la conjuración árabo-atlántica contra Siria Después de este primer descalabro de la diplomacia arabo-atlántica, la Liga árabe, cuyo rol y peso fueron reducidos a un simple consejo Loya Jirga reuniendo a los emires y sultanes del « Consejo de cooperación del Golfo » (CCG), logró, el 19 de diciembre, empujar al régimen sirio para firmar un nuevo protocolo de alto el fuego, retirar el ejército de las ciudades y facilitar un despliegue de observadores árabes en las zonas de tumultos.

Esta victoria « blitzkrieg » de la Liga árabe no era, en verdad, más que una impresión defectuosa del despliegue ante la vista de la campaña contra Siria; porque el transfer del dossier sirio a la Liga era, en efecto, el resultado del fracaso diplomático en el seno del Consejo de Seguridad. No es un secreto que el dossier sirio fue transferido de una organización internacional – el Consejo de Seguridad- a una organización regional desgarrada por los conflictos de emires y sultanes – la Liga árabe.

Por otra parte, la campaña militar se aceleraba y comenzó a dibujar un trayecto ascendente, paralelo al trayecto descendente que había seguido la campaña diplomática contra siria desde el primer descalabro. El 23 de diciembre de 2011, las instalaciones de los servicios de seguridad sirios en Damasco fueron el blanco de dos ataques terroristas. Cuarenta y cuatro personas fueron muertas y otras 166 heridas. « La mano de Al-Qaïda estaba detrás » de estos atentados, según un comunicado del ministerio del interior. Dos semanas más tarde, el 6 de enero, Damasco fue de nuevo el objetivo de un atentado suicida que ocasionó 26 muertos y 63 heridos.

La capital de los Omeyas no tardó en formular su réplica a la injerencia de los emires y sultanes de la península Arábica. Así, en un discurso pronunciado el 10 de enero en el anfiteatro de la universidad de Damasco, el presidente sirio declaró el comienzo de una contraofensiva : « Nosotros hemos dado pruebas de paciencia y aguante en un combate sin precedentes en la historia moderna de Siria y esto nos ha hecho más firmes, y aunque este combate reviste grandes riesgos y desafíos fatídicos, la victoria está al alcance de la mano, tanto como nosotros nos mantengamos capaces de resistir, de explotar nuestros puntos fuertes, que son numerosos, y de conocer los puntos débiles de nuestros adversarios, que son más numerosos », declaró él.

Al lado de estos ataques terroristas contra los civiles y los edificios gubernamentales, los grupos wahabitas armados y las milicias del autodenominado « Ejército sirio libre », apoyados por millares de mercenarios árabes y atlánticos, tomaron el control de la ciudad de Homs y la transformaron en un bastión de rebeldes wahabitas. Además, la ciudad de Idlib al Norte y el Rif de Damasco cayeron también bajo control de los grupos armados.

Del acrecentamiento, la agravación militar sobre el terreno fue acompañada por una nueva tentativa por parte de la Santa-Alianza arabo-atlántica de hacer pasar, el 4 de enero, un nuevo proyecto de resolución en el Consejo de Seguridad. El proyecto fue de nuevo vetado por el doble veto chino-ruso. Seguido a este nuevo fracaso, una lluvia de cólera golpeó las capitales occidentales así como la península Arábica cuyo clima era de una naturaleza desértica.

Por todas partes en los cuatro rincones del mundo, nosotros oímos a los dirigentes y a los responsables de la Santa-Alianza proferir amenazas e injurias. Nunca en la historia de la práctica diplomática, el intercambio verbal en la escena internacional alcanzó un nivel tan avanzado de prosaísmo y de vulgaridad. La embajadora estadounidense en el seno del Consejo de Seguridad, Susan Rice, se sintió «fastidiada » por la posición rusa y china; por su parte, el ministro francés de Defensa, Gérard Longuet, describió a Rusia y China como países que « merecen patadas en el culo ». Más lejos, hacia Oriente, los emires y sultanes árabes así como los califas otomanos se despertaron bruscamente de un largo sueño « centenario », para plantear la necesidad de reformar el derecho a veto en el seno del Consejo de Seguridad. Trágicamente, doscientos vetos estadounidenses opuestos a los proyectos de resoluciones tendentes a la protección del pueblo palestino de la atrocidad de la soldadesca israelí no bastaron para que los cocodrilos turcos y árabes derramaran sus lágrimas sobre el Prometeo palestino encadenado.

Mensajes, vulgaridad, prosaísmo, injurias, amenazas, lágrimas de cocodrilo, esta fue la réplica arabo-atlántica al segundo veto chino y ruso. Por tanto, Siria ganó e nuevo la batalla en el Consejo de Seguridad.

« Vejez enemiga, hemos vivido tanto nosotros, miserables viejos, para aprender esta catástrofe inesperada!>>.

Precipitación en la Asamblea General

Doce días después de la oposición por Rusia y China, el 16 de febrero, el grupo árabe en la Asamblea General de la ONU somete a votación un texto de resolución condenando a Siria. La Asamblea lo adopta en una aplastante mayoría, a pesar de la oposición de Moscú y de Pekín. Por toda la escena internacional, los “revolucionarios primaverales” así como sus padrinos arabo-atlánticos aplauden la “victoria decisiva” contra el “Vampiro de Damasco”. Sin retomar aliento, la máquina mediática de la Santa-Alianza hablaba de la caída inevitable del presidente sirio y preveía la nueva era post-Assad. La resolución exige del gobierno sirio que ponga fin « a sus ataques contra su población civil », y que apoye los esfuerzos de la Liga árabe « para asegurar una transición democrática » del poder.

Por lo tanto, esta « victoria » quedaba ilusoria, porque la resolución no tenía más que un alcance esencialmente simbólico. El grupo árabe lo sabía bien, sobre todo porque los cajones de la Asamblea General están llenos, hasta el presente, de textos similares denunciando la atrocidad israelí contra el pueblo palestino, desde 1947.

En efecto, la utilidad de una tal resolución – si alguna tenía- se presentaba en la necesidad de dar una cierta « dosis moral » a los grupos armados, que perdían terreno en combates feroces con el ejército sirio en Homs, en Idlib y en Rif de Damasco.

Conferencia de « amigos » en Túnez : Fin de partida

Es en primer lugar un hecho bastante constante que después del doble veto chino-ruso al proyecto de resolución del Consejo de Seguridad sobre Siria, la indignación árabe y occidental, se dirigió contra Moscú y Pekín, y no reconoció al « Consejo nacional sirio » como único representante legítimo del pueblo sirio; sea porque sus oradores « santificados » de todo pecado se burlasen de la Historia humana, sea que esta historia no fue, en verdad, más que una escena de teatro sobre la cual se jugaban las grandes farsas de la humanidad.

Así se reunieron los revolucionarios primaverales y sus padrinos arabo-atlánticos, « amigos de Siria », en una sala de conferencias en Túnez, el 24 de febrero.

En la declaración final, los conferenciantes demandaron a Siria a « cesar inmediatamente toda forma de violencia » y se comprometieron para tomar « las medidas para aplicar y reforzar las sanciones sobre el régimen ». El grupo de « amigos » reafirmó también « su compromiso en la soberanía, la independencia y la integridad territorial de Siria » y subrayó la necesidad de una <> a la crisis.

La mínima cosa que hay que decir de estas « reafirmaciones » y sus « subrayados » es que son ridículos, burlescos y carnavalescos. Los pueblos de la región lo saben bien. En efecto, durante quince años de guerra civil atroz que destruyó su país entre 1975 – 1990, los libaneses no recibían de los emires y sultanes de la península Arábica más que llamadas a cesar el fuego, « reafirmaciones » de la soberanía del Líbano y el « subrayado » de una solución política. Sin embargo más de cien mil personas fueron muertas; y el Líbano fue desgarrado en mil cantones y más. Paralelamente al suplicio del pueblo libanés « Las Mil y una resoluciones » de la Liga árabe sobre Palestina no han podido ni detener la atrocidad de la soldadesca israelí ni poner fin al calvario del pueblo palestino.

Con mayor razón, que este sea el acceso libre de las agencias humanitarias, el reconocimiento del CNS como representante legítimo del pueblo sirio, o la creación de una fuerza árabe; ninguna llamada de la conferencia de Túnez deja impacto sobre el terreno; por la simple razón de que ellas no pueden ser realizadas sin imponer una de las dos condiciones siguientes : la aprobación del régimen sirio – que no es el caso- o la invasión de Siria por las fuerzas de la Santa-Alianza –, lo que parece aún más ridículo, vista la relación de fuerza establecida en la región entre « el campo de resistencia » (Irán, Siria, el Líbano) y el Imperio, después de la derrota del ejército israelí en la guerra de julio de 2006. Además, las recientes victorias militares que ha obtenido el ejército sirio sobre los grupos armados dejan las dos opciones fuera de juego.

En este sentido, los efectos de una tal declaración sobre el interior sirio quedan sin eficacia alguna, pero con un gran valor de intercambio en el zoco internacional de acusaciones y de injurias contra el régimen sirio.

Queda por decir que a falta de una salida « apoteósica » del impasse político y diplomático en que se colocaron los conferenciantes de Túnez, que no llegaron más que al reconocimiento del CNS como un « representante legítimo » del pueblo sirio, anunciarán a los espectadores el fin de la partida en el Oriente Próximo.

«No hay otra causa, no hay otra causa, alma mía! ».

Fida Dakroub


Texto original en francés :


La conférence des « Amis de la Syrie » ou L’échec de la Sainte-Alliance arabo-atlantique

- par Fida Dakroub – 2012-02-29

Traducido para el CEPRID (www.nodo50.org/ceprid) y Ojos para la Paz (www.ojosparalapaz.org) por Purificación González de la Blanca

Fida Dakroub es doctora en filología francesa, escritora e investigadora integrante del “Grupo de investigación y estudio sobre las literaturas y culturas del mundo francófono” (GRELCEF) de la Universidad de Western Ontario. Es la autora de “Al este de Amin Maalouf, La escritura y la construcción de la identidad en las novelas históricas de Amin Maalouf” (2011).

“La madre de todas las bombas”, una “gran arma” contra Irán

March 16th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Un importante general de la Fuerza Aérea de EE.UU. ha descrito la mayor bomba convencional –la revienta-búnkeres de 13,6 toneladas– como “grandiosa” para un ataque militar contra Irán.

Un comentario tan locuaz sobre un masivo artefacto asesino tuvo lugar en la misma semana en la cual el presidente Barack Obama se presentó para advertir contra el “habla a la ligera” sobre una guerra en el Golfo Pérsico.

“El masivo penetrador [MOP] es una gran arma”, dijo el teniente general Herbert Carlisle,

vice jefe de Estado Mayor para operaciones de la Fuerza Aérea de EE.UU., quien agregó que probablemente la bomba sería utilizada en cualquier ataque contra Irán ordenado por Washington.

El MOP, al que también se refieren como “La madre de todas las bombas”, está diseñado para perforar a través de 60 metros de hormigón antes de detonar su masiva bomba. Se cree que es la mayor arma convencional, no nuclear, en el arsenal estadounidense. En términos de capacidad destructora, se puede decir que es el arma explosiva más horrorosa en una gama de masiva munición explosiva desarrollada por el Pentágono en la última década.

….

El Pentágono ha comenzado a trabajar en opciones militares por si las sanciones y la diplomacia no impiden que Teherán construya un arma nuclear.

El secretario de Defensa Leon Panetta dijo el jueves al National Journal en una entrevista que la planificación ha tenido lugar “desde hace tiempo”.

….

La retórica dura del Pentágono tuvo lugar a pesar del esfuerzo del presidente Barack Obama durante esta semana por acallar el “habla a la ligera” y las “bravatas” sobre una posible acción militar, y dijo que todavía existe una oportunidad para la diplomacia.

Carlisle también dijo a la conferencia sobre la defensa de Credit Suisse-McAleese que un conflicto con Siria o Irán podría incluir operaciones militares de EE.UU. influenciadas por el nuevo pensamiento táctico del Pentágono conocido como Batalla Aire-Mar.

Este enfoque apunta a aprovechar fuerzas altamente interconectadas e integradas de EE.UU.

Carlisle dijo que la táctica se concentra en la operación en múltiples terrenos, desde el aire y el mar al espacio y el ciberespacio, mientras conecta e integra información de las diferentes áreas, como satélites y sensores en cazabombarderos ‘ocultos’ y aviones sin tripulación.

“Existe una capacidad especial, existe una capacidad cibernética, existe una capacidad de fuerza que evita la detección”, dijo.

“Todas estas cosas están sobre la mesa y se piensa en ellas mientras realizamos esta planificación de operaciones”, agregó Carlisle, señalando que Siria e Irán han desarrollado importantes defensas orientadas a mantener lejos a potenciales atacantes, una estrategia que debe ser eludida por Batalla Aire-Mar.

Carlisle dijo que el ciberespacio puede ser un factor en un conflicto con los dos países. “Toda la dirigencia ha dicho que todo está sobre la mesa, en cuanto a lo que emplearíamos y utilizaríamos”, dijo. ( Reuters , 9 de marzo de 2012)

El desarrollo y despliegue del MOP contra Irán fue documentado en un artículo de Michel Chossudovsky en Global Research en 2009.

De importancia militar dentro del arsenal de armas convencionales de EE.UU. es el “arma monstruo”, de 10 toneladas, apodada la “madre de todas las bombas”, la bomba GBU-45/B o Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) que fue categorizada “como el arma no nuclear más poderosa jamás diseñada” con el mayor efecto en el arsenal convencional de EE.UU. La MOAB fue ensayada a principios de marzo de 2003 antes de ser enviada al teatro de operaciones de la guerra contra Iraq. Según fuerzas militares de EE.UU. el Estado Mayor Conjunto había advertido al gobierno de Sadam Hussein que la “madre de todas las bombas” sería utilizada contra Iraq. (Hubo informes no confirmados de que fue usada en Iraq).

El Departamento de Defensa de EE.UU. confirmó en octubre de 2009 que se propone utilizar la “madre de todas las bombas” (MOAB) contra Irán. Se dice que la MOAB es “idealmente adecuada para alcanzar instalaciones subterráneas profundas como Natanz o Qom en Irán” (Jonathan Karl, Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? ABC News , 9 de octubre de 2009). En realidad la MOAB, en vista de su capacidad explosiva, causaría numerosísimas víctimas civiles. Es una “máquina asesina” convencional con una nube en forma de hongo del tipo nuclear.

La compra de cuatro MOAB fue decidida en octubre de 2009 al elevado coste de 58,4 millones de dólares. Esta cifra incluye los costes de desarrollo y ensayo así como la integración de las bombas MOAB en bombarderos B-2 stealth. (Ibíd.) Esta adquisición está directamente relacionada con los preparativos de guerra contra Irán. La notificación estaba contenida en un “memorando de reprogramación” de 93 páginas que incluye las siguientes instrucciones:

“El Departamento tiene una Necesidad Operacional Urgente (UON) para la capacidad de atacar objetivos duros y profundamente enterrados en entornos de alta amenaza. La MOP [Madre de todas las bombas] es el arma preferida para cumplir con los requerimientos del UNO”. Además señala que la solicitud es apoyada por el Comando Pacífico (que tiene responsabilidad por Corea del Norte) y el Comando Central (que tiene responsabilidad por Irán).”

( ABC News ). Para consultar la solicitud de reprogramación (pdf) haga clic aquí

El Pentágono planifica un proceso de amplia destrucción de la infraestructura de Irán y masivas víctimas civiles mediante el uso combinado de bombas nucleares tácticas y monstruosas bombas convencionales con nubes en forma de hongo, incluidas la MOAB y la mayor GBU-57A/B o Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), que excede a la MOAB en capacidad destructiva.

La MOP es descrita como “una poderosa nueva bomba que apunta directamente a las instalaciones nucleares subterráneas de Irán y Corea del Norte. La inmensa bomba –más larga que 11 personas colocadas hombro a hombro, o más de 6 metros desde la base a la punta” (Vea Edwin Black, “Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs”, Cutting Edge , 21 de septiembre de 2009).

Se trata de armas de destrucción masiva en todo el sentido de la palabra. El objetivo, no demasiado oculto, de MOAB y MOP, es la “destrucción masiva” y masivas víctimas civiles a fin de causar temor y desesperación. Vea Towards a World War III Scenario? The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran, Part II The Military Road Map, Global Research , 13 de agosto de 2010.

 
“Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB)

GBU-57A/B Mass Ordnance Penetrator (MOP)
 


MOAB: explosion

Michel Chossudovsky y Finian Cunningham contribuyeron a este informe.

Texto original en inglés :
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28675

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

Israel’s Willing Executioners: AIPAC Invades Washington

March 16th, 2012 by Prof. James Petras

Introduction: A Week of National Humiliation:

From March 4th to March 9th, 2012, 13,000 militant Israel Firsters, took over “political Washington”[1] and imposed a foreign regime’s (Israel) political agenda to the rousing applause and appreciation of their captive vassal US legislators and executives who crowded the halls and platforms groveling for the imperious nods of their visiting Israeli overlords[2].

The annual meeting of the American (sic) Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most outrageous public display of Zionist pro-Israeli power as it shapes US foreign policy. The sole purpose of AIPAC is to ensure Israel ’s unchallenged military and political power over a huge region from North Africa to the Persian Gulf . Over three quarters of the US Congress members paraded themselves before the AIPAC, as well as President Obama and Vice President Biden and any high ranking Cabinet members in any way related to US foreign policy (Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Panetta included). They all loudly parroted the political agenda and military priorities that the AIPAC has imposed on the United States[3].

AIPAC: A launch pad for Israeli Leaders

The AIPAC gathering is clearly not a meeting of “just another lobby”[4]: It is the launch pad used by Israel ’s top political and military leaders to drag the US into another major war in the Middle East – this time against Iran[5]. Shimon Peres, Israel ’s President opened the conference, setting the militarist tone and political framework for US President Obama who followed, slavishly echoing the language and substance of the Israeli leader[6]. The following day the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, spoke, and forcefully laid out the line for a US war against Iran [7]with thousands of prominent and respectable Jewish Americans, Israel Firsters, leaping to their feet dozens of times in fanatic support for a US war – a war, in which few, if any, of them, their children, relatives or friends will suffer loss of life or limb[8]. This was the same Bibi Netanyahu who once opined that the 9-11 attack on the US benefited Israel because it linked the US closer to Israeli interests.

Not since the War of 1812, which saw the British occupation and burning of Washington , has the US capital been so utterly humiliated by a foreign power. Unlike the British crown, which then negotiated a peace settlement, allowing the US to regain its sovereignty and capital, the Israeli leaders and their rabid “fifth column” demand a military agreement, in which Israel dictates the terms under which the US goes to war with Iran .

Israeli leaders have not secured the submission of the US because of Israel ’s military, economic or political superiority: They have a puny economy, a fraction of the US nuclear weapons and have few allies and even less public approval in the international community. But they do have at least a half million fanatical, unconditional Zionist militants in the United States , including thousands of loyal multi-millionaires and billionaires who fund the campaign of both Democrat and Republican parties[9]. AIPAC is the vanguard of Israel ’s shock troops in the US . Highly disciplined and organized, AIPAC lobbyists invade the offices of every Congressperson armed with a legislative script carefully prepared by and for the State of Israel[10]. They have secured the full commitment of most members of Congress for Israel ’s agenda waving both dollar signs and stars (of David). As past history has amply demonstrated, Congressional staff or legislators who dare hesitate or ask for time to reflect, rapidly find themselves on the receiving end of AIPAC’s political bullying and threats which usually secure acquiescence. Refusal to capitulate to AIPAC means the end of a political career in Washington .

The Israeli (and therefore AIPAC’s) agenda is to pursue an unprovoked war, either initiated by the US or as part of a US-backed Israeli sneak attack, against the sovereign Islamic Republic of Iran[11]. Iran is targeted today because the other opponents of Israel’s colonization of Palestine have been destroyed in previous Zionist-backed US wars, namely Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and the ongoing proxy war against the Assad regime in Syria[12].

Today Israeli leaders insist that Iran should be violently denied what over 120 other nations practice freely: the legal enrichment of uranium for medical, commercial and scientific purposes. Past Israeli propaganda, echoed by the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, falsely claimed Iran possessed nuclear weapons or … was in the process of manufacturing them and therefore posed an ‘existential’ threat to Israeli. Even the mere ‘capacity’ to enrich uranium for medical purposes (many times below the level needed for a weapon) is presented as a major threat to the Jewish State. Meanwhile, the 27 US intelligence agencies (in their yearly ‘findings’) and even the US-influenced International Atomic Energy Agency have found no such evidence of an ongoing weapons program – thus the need for bizarre terms like ‘existential threat’.

Israel ’s high command has now come up with a new flimsy pretext for war. Iran ’s potential (through its advanced scientific and technical manpower and research centers) for acquiring a ‘nuclear weapon capability’ may constitute a sufficient cause for war[13]. In other words, Israel has ordered its 13,000 AIPAC militants, to demand every US Congress person vote for a war resolution on the basis of Iran ’s current uranium enrichment program geared to medical uses and on its sophisticated scientific and intellectual potential! Meanwhile, the Mossad has launched a not-so-secret program of terrorist assassinations of Iranian scientists – in their homes, offices and universities; with nary a protest from the ‘Zionized’ US press.

Israel’s Willing Executioners

Netanyahu’s newest criterion for war (Iranian capability) has the blind support of the major Jewish organizations in the US[14]. American Zionists are the willing executioners promoting an aggressive, unprovoked, military attack against the homeland (and homes) of 75 million Iranians. Let us be clear, there are naked genocidal impulses permeating some of the pronouncements of leading US Jewish religious leaders. The executive vice president of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Herring, suggested that Israel should consider “the use of tactical nuclear weapons in areas that aren’t so populated or in the open desert …to show the Iranians that their lives are on the line, that Israel won’t go quietly”.[15] The rabbi did not specify whether population centers of a quarter of a million inhabitants or less qualify under his definition of “not so populated” and therefore are suitable targets for this educational display of thermo-nuclear destruction, “just to show the Iranians”…. Let us keep in mind that among the Zionist fundamentalists, “not a few organizational leaders … wanted to use tactical nuclear weapons right now”[16].

When Netanyahu gave the command to the AIPAC delegates to invade the US Congress and secure a war commitment on the basis of Iran’s ‘capacity’ (for uranium enrichment), there was no debate and no dissention among the ‘shock troops’ – only blind unanimous approval among Jewish American citizens for their foreign master. These respectable Jewish-Americans marched lock-step in platoons right up to the Congress members on their lists, canned arguments in one hand and Israeli-ghost-written legislation in the other. They boast of having rounded up a substantial majority of elected US representatives – for war!

If Israel ’s power in the US depends on AIPAC’s tight control over the US Congress, the lobby, for its part, depends on the power of the wider Zionist power configuration permeating strategic political and administrative offices, political party structures and the electoral process itself. This, in turn, depends on Zionist media influence linked back to economic and financial power. The democratic and representative process has been totally crushed under this narrow-focused juggernaut for war on behalf of Israel .

AIPAC’s Congressional and Executive Collaborators

While much has been made of the influence AIPAC exercises over the US Congress and Executive via ‘lobbying’, better termed intimidation and pressure tactics, a great part of its success is based on the larger Zionist matrix of power operating within the government, civil society and the economy. When AIPAC lobbyists approach Congress members with Israeli-dictated foreign policy priorities in hand, they coordinate and are given a major platform by the forty-plus elected Zionist legislators who, just happen, to occupy strategic positions, such as the chairpersons of Congressional committees dealing with foreign policy, especially policy related to the Middle East . In other words, AIPAC’s conquest of Congress is ‘by invitation’. The relation is ‘reciprocal’. AIPAC and the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations and various fundraisers mobilize money and activists to help elect the reliable Zionists to office. Once in place, they openly collaborate in writing pro-Israel legislation and ensuring that ‘majorities’ vote the ‘right way’[17].

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of “Foundation for Defense of Democracies” helped write the latest ( Iran ) sanctions bill … (Financial Times March 6, 2012, pg. 9). The “Foundation” is better known as an unconditional and unquestioning promoter of Israel ’s agenda. Dubowitz is one of many un-elected ‘legislators’ who write and promote laws at Israel ’s behest. The legislation to impose sanctions on Iran , authored by Dubowitz, is designed to brutalize and starve 75 million Iranian citizens into submission to further Israel ’s goal of unquestioned supremacy in the Middle East .

AIPAC’s operations are not confined to Congress or to the electoral process. From the Reagan Administration to the Obama Administration, AIPAC has supplied committed Zionists to key positions in the Treasury, State Department, National Security Council and the President’s inner circle of advisors on the Middle East[18]. AIPAC pressure ensures the appointment of Zionists to the executive branch and has led to the creation of special administrative posts designed specifically to pursue Israel ’s agenda. A good example of AIPAC’s success is the post of Undersecretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Intelligence. The position was first held by Stuart Levey, a Zionist zealot, whose whole purpose was to design and implement US (and later EU) sanctions against Iran . His replacement, David Cohen, a clone also from AIPAC, is the author of legislation pushing for punitive sanctions against Syria[19].

Dennis Ross, widely known as ‘Israel’s lawyer’ and a former AIPAC leader, was appointed senior adviser to Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, was the architect of US support for Israel’s starvation blockade and criminal bombing of Gaza (1999), the murderous invasion of Lebanon (2006). He has provided ‘cover’ for Netanyahu’s massive building of Jews only settlements on occupied Palestinian lands and his cynical ‘peace negotiations’ ploy[20].

Jeffrey Feltman, the current AIPAC front man in the State Department, is the key official in charge of Middle East affairs, especially Lebanon , Syria and Iran[21]. Obama’s own inner circle of advisers is dominated by unconditional Israel supporters, including David Axelrod as chief confidant and the former Presidential Chief of Staff, dual US-Israeli citizen and current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel[22]. What is striking is the constant cycle from leadership and activity in Zionist (Israeli-front) organizations, entry into powerful government post, return to one or another pro-Israel think tank, ‘civic organizations’, electoral office or lucrative private practice – all promoting the interests of Tel Aviv.

AIPAC and the 52 Grassroots Organizations

AIPAC’s power in Washington depends on the activism of hundreds of thousands of American Zionists affiliated with organizations under the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (MAJO). While there is considerable overlap of membership, MAJO leaders openly serve as a transmission belt for Israel: transmitting the political line from Tel Aviv to their membership, including activist doctors, dentists and stock brokers in New York, Miami, Kansas City, Los Angeles and San Francisco and all points north, south, east and west. When AIPAC has ‘trouble’ securing an elected representative’s sign-on to legislation for sanctions against whichever country is currently targeted by Israel, the reluctant legislator becomes a prime target for local Zionist notables and ‘fund raisers’, who pay them a ‘visit’ to persuade, if possible, threaten retaliation, if necessary. If a legislator still refuses to hew to Israel ’s line, or considers service to a foreign power to be harmful to United States , he/she will soon find that AIPAC has raised millions of dollars to fund a campaign of slander and electoral defeat[23].

Along with these upper middle class ‘grass roots’ activists there are the numerous highly politicized Zionist mega-millionaires and billionaires, like Adelson, Saban and scores of others, who make no bones about being fanatical Israel Firsters and donate millions to Congresspeople willing to subordinate US interests to Israel’s quest for Middle East supremacy[24].

Besides this legal corruption of the political process, there is the issue of illegal espionage and thuggery on AIPAC’s part, most recently evidenced by the ongoing law-suit by one of two former top AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen caught spying for Israel (passing classified documents on US military policy towards Iran ). Rosen, who was acquitted in a highly manipulated ‘trial’, maintains that AIPAC routinely encouraged its officials to secure confidential US government documents for Israel[25].

And then there are the prominent free-lance Zionists, who engage in vicious, highly publicized, political thuggery, physical assaults and blackmail against critics of Israel[26]. The most prominent defamers, like Abraham Foxman of the Anti (sic) Defamation League, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz, manipulate legions of respectable and wealthy thugs to pressure schools, universities and other employers to censor and fire critics of Israel. These Zionist organizations far exceed the reach and effective blacklisting of an earlier generation of witch hunters, like Senator Joseph McCarthy, who were rank amateurs in comparison. The recent antics of Israel-Firster Andrew Adler, editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times, whose call for the Israeli Mossad to assassinate President Obama[27] led merely to his resignation as editor after several weeks of nervous outrage (but no federal investigation or charges).

What is striking here is that while most respectable Zionists dissociate themselves from AIPAC spies and verbal assassins, the power of the Israel Firsters ensures that such goons and thugs are rarely charged for their crimes and have never gone to jail[28].

The wider impact of Zionist influence and thuggery is evident in the timorous self-censorship of the majority of Americans who privately express fear and loathing at the confrontational, strident and abusive Zionist-Americans pushing a foreign agenda.[29]

Israel, Zionism and the Mass Media

The mass media is a key political resource, which the pro-Israel power configuration exploits to the full. Not a single major print, television, film or radio outlet is willing to provide a balanced account of the Israel-Palestine conflict[30]. Israel ’s dispossession of thousands of Arab families from their homes and the daily terrorist Zionist settler and military assaults against Palestinians protesting land seizures go unreported[31]. The hundreds of nuclear weapons in Israel ’s arsenal are never mentioned while the Jewish State’s hysterical claims that non-nuclear Iran represents an existential threat are repeated and magnified, ad nauseam. The leaders of the 52 know their Goebbels: A lie repeated often enough becomes an accepted truth.

Zionism and Leveraging Power

What is crucial in understanding the Zionist Power Configuration’s stranglehold over our government is how it leverages power. For example, a tiny minority falsely claims to speak for all American Jews, who represent about 3% of the US population. However, based on this claim, they mobilize and raise funds to elect the committed Zionists who hold about 10% of the seats in the US Congress and Senate. These representatives, in turn, enjoy the support of a tiny cadre of super rich Zionists, whose promotion allows them to gain control over key committees dealing with Middle East policy and security.

Domestic security has been deeply influenced by the Zionist-Israeli agenda: Former US Attorney General, Michael Mukasey and Homeland Security Tzar, Michael Chertoff have been among the most prominent officials orienting US domestic security to focus on critics of Israel and the entrapment of Muslim citizens in bizarre webs of phony terrorist plots, while real domestic security has suffered and civil rights have been shredded. The over-representation of Zionists on the US Supreme Court (3 out of 9) and the careful selection of recent justice s, like Justice Sotomayor, underscore the profound nature of the process as it extends to the judiciary.[32]

The Zionist Power Configuration controls the Mid-East policies of both Democratic and Republican Party and their Presidential nominees through their Congressional and political party power bases. The US President, in turn, is leveraged, in order to secure key policy appointments for Zionists in the State Department, Treasury and Pentagon. Their leverage in the foreign policy establishment allows Zionist officials to put pressure on allies and clients in the United Nation and European Union to support policies, such as Israel ’s boycott and punishment of the elected Hamas government in Gaza and the wars in Iraq , Afghanistan and Libya .

Leverage is how Israel, an infinitely small and insignificant state with less than 1% of world GNP, exports and market shares and occupying .001% of the world’s territory, can play such a disproportionate role in the reconfiguration of power in the Middle East. Through its American-Zionist influentials, Israel has manipulated the US into a quagmire of wars in the Middle East, costing the world’s consumers of oil untold billions of dollars and pushing the world economy into recession.

Israel’s “Petroleum Tax”: War Threats and the Price of Gas

During the first 3 months of 2012, the price of oil rose 15% (over 30% since the summer 2011) largely due to Israel ’s war mongering and threats to launch an offensive war against Iran . Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Peres and Foreign Minister Lieberman have all repeatedly demanded the US bomb Iran , or failing that, they warn, Israel would launch its own offensive war against the Iranian people and drag the US into another war.

Almost all oil experts and political analysts agree that the spike in oil prices is a result of Israel ’s war mongering, as major international oil speculators bet that an Israeli assault on Iran will provoke a major disruption in production and transportation of petroleum in the Middle East and provoke a global shortfall[33].

The 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations have added to the war hysteria by echoing and embellishing on Israel ’s claims of an Iranian nuclear threat (or Iran ’s “growing capacity” to threaten Israel in the future)[34].

During the first three months of this year alone, the increased price of gasoline – or more accurately Israel’s war tax on the American consumers and drivers costs an additional 60 cents a gallon, or $9 dollars more to fill a 15 gallon tank. This represents the tribute the Zionist power configuration has imposed on the American consumers in their push for a new war on Israel ’s behalf. No US politician would dare discuss this issue, let alone speak up and tell the Zionist chattering classes and their “beloved leaders” to stop pimping for war or else risk the cutting off of Israel ’s $3 billion dollar annual handout from the US taxpayers.

Leading economists have stated that the price hike in petroleum (caused by a bellicose Israel ) is stunting growth and pushing the US and EU back into recession … costing millions more job losses[35]. If we add the consumer losses caused by high gas prices to the losses in world economic output, the mere war chants of Netanyahu, Lieberman, Peres and the AIPAC will cost the global economy hundreds of billions over the course of the year.

Any mention of Israel ’s gas tax on the American family’s budget will elicit outraged accusations of anti-Semitism from respectable Zionists and ugly threats from their thug accomplices. When Obama performed his infamous annual belly crawl to pleasure the AIPAC delegates and their Israeli guests, in the midst of cheers over his re-affirmation of America’s unconditional loyalty to the state of Israel, he also quietly asked Israel to lower the war cries at least until after the November elections because of its effects on the price of gasoline on the American voter[36].

The high price of oil is damaging Obama’s chances for re-election. The American electorate may not understand the real cost of Obama’s submission to Israel and may not be aware of Israel ’s gas tax, but they are holding their putative President responsible for their pain at the pump! There is only one thing that Obama cherishes more than Zionist support and that is the votes of an economically squeezed American electorate, who are turning against him in droves as the price of gasoline soars.

Conclusion

The week of March 4 to 11, 2012 will go down in history as a week of national humiliation; a time when legions of fanatical American Zionists took over Washington; when the entire Cabinet, led by President Obama, groveled before the officials of a foreign state – in the heart of Washington DC. When the President and Prime Minister of Israel directed their foreign legionaires to march on the US Congress and shove their flimsy pretexts for war with Iran into the faces of cringing legislators, the simplistic and idiotic message was: Bomb Iran because it may soon have … a nuclear ‘capacity’. If asked what constitutes capacity, they quote their beloved leaders in Tel Aviv, including the semi-literate (former nightclub bouncer) Foreign Minister Avi Lieberman, the morally corrupt Bibi Netanyahu and the quietly diabolic Shimon Peres that Iranians can ‘enrich uranium’ – a capacity long held by 125 other countries.

It is with supreme arrogance that the followers of AIPAC and the 52 Presidents penetrate the US government in order to serve a foreign government. None bother to hide their past, present or future affiliations with the state of Israel . They are backed by prestigious Zionist academics, whose tendentious justifications for war have already sent tens of thousands of US soldiers to an early grave or to the wards of military and veteran hospitals and clinics across the country: They have sold us the argument that by serving the interests of the State of Israel we serve the United States . From this, it only follows that to break the law and act as an unregistered agent for a foreign power, to transfer highly classified government documents to Mossad agents at the Israeli embassy and to threaten Americans who criticize or oppose Israel is a patriotic act[37]. Naval analyst Jonathan Pollard, the convicted US master-spy for Israel , is widely celebrated in Israel as an honorary Colonel in the IDF and a hero; the leaders of the major Zionist organizations are again pressuring Obama to release this traitor.

The documented performance of the leading Zionists in public office in the United States over the past two decades has been an unmitigated disaster. The self-proclaimed best and brightest have led the country into the worst economic and military catastrophes in a century. It was Alan Greenspan, as head of the Federal Reserve, who de-regulated the financial sector and optimized conditions for the mega-swindles and speculative frenzy bringing down the entire financial system. It was his replacement, Ben Bernacke, who pushed for trillions of US tax-payer dollars in bail-out funds to save his cronies on Wall Street and set them back on course, in the last 2 years, to repeat their speculative orgy – and allow such tribal compatriots as Stephen Schwartzman to reap $213 million in earnings in 2011[38].

It was Fred Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Libby, Abrams and Ross, as well as their less prominent lieutenants, who pushed the US into wars on Israel ’s behalf in Afghanistan and Iraq , all the while confidently predicting ‘low cost, quick victories’ (even slam-dunks). Never has such a cohort of Ivy League mediocrities collectively produced so many disastrous policies in such a brief historical time while never being held in any way, shape or form responsible or accountable for their performance. It is obvious that these policy disasters did not result from faulty intellect or lack of an elite education. Their apparent ignorance of historical, political, economic and military realities was a result of their blinding Zionist loyalties to the Israeli state whose real interests they embraced. This lack of accountability guarantees that this process will continue until the US , as a republic, is destroyed for the masses of its misled citizens.

In order to justify a war against Israel ’s regional adversaries, these blind mediocrities have distorted the realities of Arab nationalism. It was with supreme tribal arrogance and racism that they assured themselves that Arabs could never sustain prolonged resistance to their imperial juggernaut. They believed precisely what their tribal religion/ideology told them: They were a chosen people (genetic studies aside). They were the most financially successful investors or speculators. They attended and taught at the most prestigious universities. When, on occasion, a leading Zionist philanthropist, like Bernard Madoff, fell afoul—and actually went to jail– it was because, like his fellow tribalists, Milken, Boesky and Pollard — he didn’t buy his one way ticket to Israel soon enough.

When a country, like the United States , is in decline, it is not because of external competition: Declining competitiveness is only a symptom. It is because of internal rot. Decline results when a nation is betrayed by craven leaders, who crawl and humiliate themselves before a minority of thuggish mediocrities pledged to a foreign state without scruples or moral integrity.

James Petras latest book is The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattacks, ( Atlanta : Clarity Press 2011) 2nd edition.

Notes

[1] For full coverage of the daily activities and the uncritical reportage of the major media see the Daily Alert , the official mouthpiece of 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, especially March 4 – 6, 2012.

[2] See the AIPAC video reports and the list of speakers. http://www.aipac.org , 3/2/2012 and subsequent reports.

[3] White House press release of Obama’s declaration that US subordinate relation to Israel is “sacrosanct”, March 4,/20/12.

[4] The reference is to Noam Chomsky whose laughable effort to downplay the influence of the Zionist power configuration is widely rejected and is once again refuted by the most superficial observation of the proceedings, pledges and prostrations of all top US policy makers at the AIPAC meeting.

[5] Netanyahu’s public pronouncements and AIPAC speech were duly recorded, amplified and supported by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and especially the Washington Post (2/6/2012). He explicitly called on the US to militarily attack Iran on behalf of Israel , on the basis of Teheran’s ‘capacity’ to make a nuclear weapon. According to Netanyahu “we can’t afford to wait much longer …” Prime Minister’s Office 3/5/12.

[6] New York Times, 3/5/12.

[7] Prime Ministers Office as quoted in the Daily Alert, 3/6/12.

[8] AIPAC video daily reports, 3/6/12.

[9] For example, just one of the numerous Zionist billionaires, the casino tzar, Sheldon Adelson has already contributed “tens of millions of dollars” to influence the current Presidential elections. Haaretz, 2/29/12. Haim Saban, another Israel-Firster billionaire, bought the principle Spanish language TV outlet in the US , UNIVISION, and then proceeded to promote sensationalist Israeli propaganda about an Iranian-Islamist “takeover” of Latin America .

[10] AIPAC press releases, 3/7/12 – 3/10/12.

[11] A survey of the Daily Alert , from March 4 to March 9, reveals there is not one single article that discusses the alternative of a diplomatic settlement with Iran , while over a dozen articles feature calls for war.

[12] For documentation and details on the decisive role of Zionist policy makers in launching the US war against Iraq see my The Power of Israel in the United States ( Atlanta : Clarity Press 2006).

[13] New York Times, 3/1/12

[14] The 52 Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations repeatedly endorsed Netanyahu’s pretext for war. See Daily Alert, 3/6/2012

[15] Quoted in http://Mondoweiss.net, 3/2/12.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Key Zionist Congressional operatives include Representatives Berman, Cantor, Harman, Lieberman, Ros- Lehtinen, and Levin as well as their Christian side-kicks, like McConnell and Pelosi among others who appeared at the AIPAC war fest. AIPAC promotional flyer 3/2/12.

[18] See The Power of Israel in the United States (op cit.)

[19] See “On Bended Knees: Zionist Power in American Politics” in James Petras, War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column (Clarity, Atlanta 2010.

[20] The Power of Israel in the United States , op cit.

[21] Though Ross has formally resigned, he is still a key Obama adviser on the Middle East . See Haaretz 1/27/12,

[22] One of the key Zionist operatives is Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. He played a crucial role in support of Israel ‘s bombing of Lebanon in 2006, during his term as Ambassador, calling Hezbollah a “terrorist organization”. He dictated policy to the US client ruler Fouad Siniora. Feltman twice served in Israel . He was stationed in Gaza where he collaborated with the occupying Israeli Defense Forces. He worked with uber-Zionist US Ambassador Martin Indyk backing Israel ’s position in the phony “Peace Process” from 2000 to 2001. Other Zionists in key positions include Jack Lew, current Chief of Staff to President Obama; David Plouffe senior adviser, Dan Shapiro, Ambassador to Israel; Steven Simon, Head of Middle East/North Africa Desk at the National Security Council; and Eric Lynn, Middle East policy advisor. Jewish Virtual Library a Division of the American-Israeli Enterprise 2012.

[23] Prominent Zionists, who served in strategic positions in the foreign policy realm of the Obama regime, included Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to the President, David Axelrod, Senior Advisor; James Steinberg Deputy Secretary of State; and Richard Holbrooke Special Envoy to Pakistan/Afghanistan (deceased).

[24] Several studies estimate that Jews make up about 25% of the Forbes 400 richest Americans; over half are contributors to Israel or Zionist organizations or causes. J.J. Goldberg in his book on Jewish power estimates that 45% of Democratic fundraising comes from pro-Israel Jews. (Jewish Power: Inside the Jewish Establishment, Reading: Addison-Wesley 1996)

[25] Steve Rosen, a top policy director of AIPAC, along with his colleague, Keith Weissman admitted to handing over confidential documents to the Israeli embassy. Rosen later filed suit against AIPAC for firing him and Weissman and refusing to pay their legal fees; he claimed that the Lobby frequently condoned its employees’ receipt and illegal transfer of classified US government information citing numerous AIPAC documents to back-up his case. The Jewish Daily Forward, 12/15/2010.

[26] The owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, urged Netanyahu to order the Israeli secret spy service, the Mossad, to assassinate President Obama, Haaretz 1/21/12. Rabbi Michael Lerner, a moderate Zionist critic of Israel , has been subject to four attacks on his home in the past two years, while accused of being a ‘self-hating Jew’ by Zionist fanatics. Mainstream Zionist organizations dissociate themselves from physical violence, while slanderously labeling opponents and critics of Israel as “anti-semites”, which has created precisely the political climate that encourages the less balanced among their audience to violent activity. Leading Zionist ideologues have been extremely active in inducing colleges and universities to fire critics of Israel , as was the case in the failure of DePaul University to renew the contract of a widely published scholar like, Norman Finklestein. Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, authors of an erudite study of The Israel Lobby, were subject to vitriolic attacks by American Zionist leaders, including A. Foxman of the Anti (sic) Defamation League as well as a superficial critique by left-Zionist Noam Chomsky. The racist rantings of uber-Zionists like David Horowitz and Pamela Geller helped to detonate the Islamophobic and Zionophilic mass murderer, Anders Breivik, in Norway .

[27] See the Atlantic Jewish Times editorial 1/20/12.

[28] The editor of the Atlantic Jewish Times who called for Obama’s assassination was not charged with any federal security offense. The confessed Zionist spy, Colonel Ben-Ami Kadish, who stole secret US nuclear weapon plans for Israel , did not spend a single day in jail although he paid a $50,000 fine for handing over scores of documents to Israel . (See Grant Smith Foreign Agents, Institute for Research Middle East Policy (IRMEP) Washington 2008. On AIPAC spying see IRMEP 2/6/12.

[29] Not to be ignored, the rarified atmosphere in high level scientific research journals has been politicized – most outrageous is the censorship of a genetic-immunologic study (by a leading international team of scientists) showing the close genetic relationship, if not identity between Levantine Jews and Palestinians. University libraries around the world were advised to ‘tear-out’ (eyes closed) the offending study from the pages of the journal, Human Immunology, lest such data might undermine the racist ‘raison d’etre’ for an exclusively Jewish State. (see Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians, Robin McKie, Guardian-Sunday Observer ( London ), November 25, 2001 and Hum. Immunol. 62 (9): 889–900.)

[30] A review of new reports and editorials of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, published by the Daily Alert during the AIPAC conference, reveals a close alignment with the extremist militarist position of the Israeli regime and AIPAC leaders See Steve Lendman ‘New Times Promoting War on Iran’ 3/3/12.

[31] During the month of February 2012, the Israeli Army and armed paramilitary Jewish settlers carried out 145 attacks on Palestinians, killing and wounding dozens, demolishing homes, seizing thousands of acres of land and uprooting scores of families: The Wall and Settlements Information Center, Palestinian Authority 3/1/12. Neither the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post reported on these Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians.

[32] Among Chertoff’s current clients are the manufacturers of the intrusive and nationally detested ‘body scanners’ used at US airports. He was also instrumental in the release and repatriation of a dozen Israeli Mossad agents arrested in New York and New Jersey within 24 hours of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Three of the nine justice s,Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan, are Zionists unwilling to challenge the Executive usurpation of war powers and promotion of torture and rendition. The others are all affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Not a single Protestant-affiliated Justice (numerically the majority religion in the US ) has been appointed to the Supreme Court since the 1990 appointment of respected constitutional scholar, David Souter (by George Bush the First), because of their ‘unreliability’ (code-word for upholding the Bill of Rights and Constitution). The recent appointment of Justice Elena Kagan, whose lackluster academic career did not deter uber-Zionist Laurence Summers from appointing her Dean of the Harvard Law School, uderscores the mediocre criteria used in the high judiciary. The most recent appointment of Sonya Sotomayor to replace the brilliant (and Zionistically ‘unreliable’) J.P. Stevens, was promoted heaviliy for the Supreme Court on the basis of her strong ties to Israel, starting with her first (of many) ‘leadership’ tours to Israel (see The Jewish Chronicle – Life story Israel trips tie Sotomayor to Jews, Ron Kampeas – May 26, 2009).

[33] Financial Times 3/6/12, p. 9.

[34] Howard Kohr AIPAC executive director, during his vitriolic war mongering speech at the conference exceeded even Netanyahu’s explicit call for an immediate military attack on Iran . See AIPAC daily report, 3/16/12.

[35] Most experts agree that the oil price increase has stymied ‘economic recovery’ and if it continues to rise will plunge the world back into deep recession.

[36] Obama’s speech to the AIPAC meeting pointedly called on the Israeli leaders to tone down on their military rhetoric, clearly linking rising oil prices to Israeli war mongering.

[37] See Grant Smith, ‘AIPAC Directors Use of Classified Missile Data, Harmed National Security – US State Department’, Business Wire 2/6/12.

[38] Financial Times 3/1/12, p. 17.

Occupy and “The American Spring”

March 16th, 2012 by Kevin Zeese

National Occupation of Washington, DC Will Bring Occupiers Together to Share Experiences, Educate Each Other and Build an Independent Movement to Shift Power from Concentrated Wealth

By Many in the corporate media like to think the Occupy is over, but those of us involved know better.  We do not rely on the corporate media to validate the work of Occupy, we see it in our communities.  And, we know to look to our own media for accurate information. The Occupied Wall Street Journal reports on the actions of the Occupy, it’s weekly “Reports from the Front Lines” is something many of us look forward to so we can see the movement taking action across the country.

Another visible presence of Occupy will be evident this spring in Washington, DC when the National Occupation of Washington, DC begins on March 30th.  The event, which will continue through the month of April, is being organized by members of dozens of occupies from around the country.  Twenty-five General Assemblies have passed statements of solidarity for this national occupy event.

NOW DC begins with a lot of activity.  On the first day, Occupy the EPA, will bring people together to protect the planet for a sustainable future.  It will feature Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, known for her anti-nuclear activism, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo an EPA whistleblower and Margaret Flowers, also a pediatrician, noted for her advocacy for single payer health care among others. The march will include a pack of alpaca’s, a giant Earth and a giant polar bear puppet.

The weekend of March 31st and April 1st includes a two day “Bail Out America” direct action training organized by the Backbone Campaign which will provide information on strategies and tactics and developing creative actions that advance the causes of Occupy. Also that weekend will be the Occupation of the Department of Education, which will include teach-ins about how to end high stakes testing which is destroying schools and being used as a tool to privatize education.  Finally, that weekend will include trainings for peace keepers who will help to ensure NOW DC remains non-violent in its challenges to the Washington, DC power structure.

While the first two weeks will primarily focus on the NOW DC Social Forum, there will be a housing protest on Monday, April 2nd seeking to reduce mortgages so they reflect the real value of housing, not housing bubble mortgages and a protest focused on student debt on April 3rd.  

The first education event will be an all-day strategy conference “Control the Corporation” organized by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law which will feature experienced anti-corporate power crusaders speaking on countering the impact of corporations in elections, holding corporations accountable for their crimes, creating alternative economic models that provide jobs and increase wages, protecting the “commons” from the insatiable advocates of privatization, occupying the future and mobilizing for action. 

The reminder of the week from April 3 to 5 and continuing on April 10 to 14 will be the NOW DC Social Forum.  In-between those dates, there will be activities focused on spirituality, religion and activism to recognize the Passover, Ramadan and Easter holidays. The Social Forum will bring occupiers together to learn from each other and will be held at the historic Friends Meeting House on Florida Avenue near Dupont Circle.  Occupiers from across the country have developed workshops on policies and strategies to shift power from the 1% to 99%, lessons and the way forward for Occupy, direct action tactics and strategies, models for building alternative systems, occupy and labor and occupy faith. 

On April 14th and 15th Occupy will celebrate at the OccuFest a music, arts and political free speech event that will be held at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, on 16th Street, NW in DC’s Columbia Heights. Musicians are being brought together by occupiers from across the country as well as by Occupy for Music.  There will be an occupy speak-out, spoken word, comedy, arts and politics also at the event.

The second half of the month will be primarily focused on protests, marches and civil resistance against the power structure in Washington, DC. This will not be limited to Congress but will include the corporate powers and lobbyists who dominate the government. On April 17th Occupy Congress is organizing “A17,” to protest Congress for consistently putting the interests of the 1% ahead of the people.  Also planned is Occupy the Department of Justice on April 24th, which will protest mass incarceration, political prisoners, privatization of prisons and highlight the case of Mumia Al Jamal whose 57th birthday is the day of the protest.

Education will continue throughout the month with regular movie showings and educational events on or near Franklin Square Park, the center of NOW DC.  In addition, on April 28th, occupiers are encouraged to participate in the Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remove Control sponsored by CODE PINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve being held at the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church. This will be followed by a strategy session on April 29th on how to deal with this new form of warfare.

The goals of NOW DC are to elevate the skills, cohesion and vision of occupiers.  People will be able to bring back new ideas, skills, strategies and tactics to their local Occupy. During the month of NOW DC conversations will be held to discuss next steps for the Occupy – where do we go from here? 

The reality is, not only is the Occupy ongoing but it is just getting started.  It is escalating its activities, building its skills and the best days of the movement to end the rule of the 1% are ahead of us.

Kevin Zeese was one of the original organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC/October 2011 and is an organizer with the National Occupation of Washington, DC

Subjects of Empire: U.S. Public Opinion on Syria

March 16th, 2012 by Ben Schreiner

The American public remains firmly opposed to U.S. military intervention into Syria, according to a Pew Research Center poll released in mid-March.

In fact, the Pew survey finds a sizable 64% of the American populace opposed to the very notion that the U.S. has a responsibility “to do something” about the fighting in Syria.  (Evidently Americans have yet to warm to their “responsibility to protect.”)

At the same time, 62% of Americans oppose bombing Syrian forces in order to protect anti-government groups, while 63% oppose sending arms to such groups.  And as Pew finds, these anti-intervention sentiments stretch across party lines.

Ultimately, though, such widespread popular opposition to intervention is likely to have little influence on whether the U.S. shall intervene.  For as Pew notes, when surveyed back in March of 2011, an even greater percentage of the U.S. public opposed either the bombing of Libyan air defenses (77%), or the arming of anti-government groups (69%).  But as we learned then, when presented with an opportunity to dispose of those not toeing the imperial line–in this particular instance, Colonel “mad dog of the Middle East” Gaddafi–one cannot be constrained by such frivolous matters as domestic public opinion.

In this respect, all the intervention hawks in Washington clamoring for Syrian “regime change” can take a measure of solace in the public’s current sentiments.  Indeed, for if we analyze the Libyan case further, we see that once the NATO bombardment began, the American public warmed towards the intervention.  As the Pew report comments, “After the allies launched air strikes against Libya last year, there was modest public support for the military operation; 47% said the airstrikes were the right decision while 36% said they were the wrong decision.” 

Quite predictably then, even with war fatigue on the ascendancy (Pew finds that 57% of Americans support an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan), U.S. war planning for Syria continues apace.  As the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, informed the Senate last Wednesday, President Obama has gone ahead and requested that the Pentagon provide him with military options on Syria.  All options, as the White House is quick say, remain on the table.   

Of course, all this is not to say that public opinion is completely irrelevant.  The sophisticated propaganda campaign well underway against the Assad regime is evidence enough that popular sentiments still retain a degree of relevancy.  After all, the effort to mold public opinion to the imperial agenda is necessary to give a veneer of democracy to empire.  And in the end, as the late Chalmers Johnson wrote, this is the choice presently confronting the American public.  For the U.S. must choose between democracy and empire.  Its people must choose between being subjects to empire, or being citizens of a republic.  They cannot be both.  And until the American Empire is fully dismantled (whether this comes internally or externally), U.S. public opinion on foreign affairs stand little chance of shaping policy.   

In the meantime, whether the American public ultimately joins in or not, the steady march towards Syria shall continue forth.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Oregon.  He may be reached at [email protected].

Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and brother of the well-known pollster John Zogby, recently published an article on “Dealing with Iran” in the Huffington Post 
that is problematic on a number of grounds. Seehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-zogby/israel-iran-nuclear-_b_1254542.html

To begin with, Dr. Zogby claims that Iran harbors “aspirations for regional hegemony,” and it is therefore a “threat” to its neighbors: “Make no mistake, the regime in Tehran is a meddlesome menace and their aspirations for regional hegemony do pose a threat, not to Israel . . .but to the Arab Gulf States.”Dr. Zogby goes even one step further, arguing that Iran is more than just a threat; it is “the real danger to its … its neighbors.”

Israel’s Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar recently admitted (boastfully) that the Israeli government had succeeded in distracting the attention of the entire world away from the Palestinians to the Iranians. Dr.Zogby’s argument that Iran is “the real danger to its neighbors” shows that Mr.Sa’ar is, indeed, justified in boasting about the fantastic success of Israel’s policy of distraction. Instead of blaming the US-Israeli axis of aggression for the never-ending and escalating turbulence in the Middle East, Dr.Zogby blames Iran!

But let us examine Dr.Zogby’s allegation in light of reality: (1) Iran has not invaded (or threatened invasion of) any country for over 250 years. (2) Iran was invaded in 1980 by Saddam Hussein, which culminated in the devastating 8-year war—a war that was instigated, supported and sustained by Western powers and their proxy regimes in the Persian Gulf region. (3) The “Arab Gulf States,” headed by the Saudi kingdom, are collaborating with the US-Israeli axis of aggression in their efforts to destabilize and overthrow the Iranian government. (4) The “Arab Gulf States,” not Iran, serve (literally) as military bases of Western powers that support Israel and its policies of settlements and occupation.

Against this background, Dr.Zogby’s claim that Iran is a “meddlesome menace” is obviously counterfactual and preposterous.

Ironically, Dr.Zogby’s claim that Iran poses “the real danger to its neighbors” is flatly rejected by the Arab people. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of the Arab neighbors of Iran view the U.S. and Israel as the real threats, not Iran. For example, the most recent (2011) and most comprehensive public opinion survey to date, which covered 12 Arab/Muslim counties and 16,731 face-to-face interviews, and which was conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), found that “by a 15-1 ratio, Israel and the US are seen as more threatening than Iran.”

Since Dr. Zogby does not tell his readers why or how Iran is “the real danger to its neighbors,” let me offer an explanation for his allegation. The “threat” he is talking about is not a military threat. Nor is it a threat to Arab people or their territory—Iran has no territorial ambitions. It is, rather, the threat to the autocratic Arab rulers; a threat that results from Iran’s example or model of national sovereignty, not its “aspirations for regional hegemony,” as Dr.Zogby claims. As Iran’s policies of national independence and resistance to external pressure make the client Arab regimes look bad in the eyes of the Arab people, they tend to discredit and threaten their dictatorial rulers. And as those policies earn respect from the Arab people, they also earn the wrath of the Arab leaders. This means that Dr.Zogby’s arguments against the Iranian government reflect the views of the dictatorial Arab leaders, and their imperialist backers, not those of the Arab people.

One salutary point in Dr. Zogby’s article seems to be his advice against military threats against Iran. Unfortunately, he does so for the wrong reasons; he opposes military actions against Iran not because such actions would be unlawful and immoral, but because (a) military threats “only serve to embolden Iran,” which is not clear why or how; and (b) “continued targeted sanctions…are having a real impact.”

Dr. Zogby is either uniformed about the sanctions on Iran, or uses a peculiar definition of targeted sanctions. The brutal sanctions imposed on Iran are way beyond targeted sanctions; they are a most comprehensive sanctions, designed to be “crippling” as they include Iran’s oil exports and its banks, which, in effect, means its international trade. Targeted sanctions are almost always expanded to broader, comprehensive sanctions, as has been the case with Iran. Furthermore, sanctions are essentially a disguised and an insidious form of war whose primary victims are the poor, the children, the elderly, and the infirm. And when sanctions fail to bring about “regime change,” military actions follow logically “to do the job.”

In his article Dr. Zogby also writes (with a dash of sarcasm) :“What, one might ask the leaders of Iran, will they do with their nuclear program and their provocation? Can it feed their people, rebuild their neglected and decayed infrastructure, give hope to their unemployed young, or secure their role in the community of nations? . . . As the Gulf States make significant progress, providing a model for development and growth, Iran remains trapped in an archaic system which feeds off of fear and anger, and goes nowhere.”

It is only fair to ask Dr. Zogby: how can “Arab Gulf States provide a model of development for Iran” when they are essentially consumers markets for foreign products? What product line, manufacturing process or technological know-how can Iran learn from these states Dr.Zogby seems to confuse financial services, extravagant consumerism (made possible by abundant oil and smaller populations), unrestricted import of luxury goods from abroad, glossy shopping malls, ballooning  skyscrapers, and man-made islands with manufacturing, industrialization, labor productivity and real development. With the exception of oil, which is produced, processed and managed largely with the help foreign experts, Persian Gulf kingdoms do not produce much of what they consume.

By contrast, Iran produces much of what it needs or consumes. It has made considerable progress in scientific research and technological know-how.It has taken advantage of the imperialist sanctions and boycotts to become self-reliant in many technological areas.

For example, Iran is now self-sufficient in producing many of its industrial products such as home and electric appliances (television sets, washers and dryers, refrigerators, washing machines, and the like), textiles, leather products, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, processed food, and beverage products. The country has also made considerable progress in manufacturing steel, copper products, paper, rubber products, telecommunications equipment, cement, and industrial machinery. Iran has the largest operational stock of industrial robots in West Asia.

Iran’s progress in automobile and other motor vehicle production has especially been impressive. Motor vehicles, including farming equipment, now count among Iran’s exports.Most remarkable of Iran’s industrial progress, however, can be seen in the manufacture of various types of its armaments needs. Iran’s defense industry has taken great strides in the past few decades, and now manufactures many types of arms and equipment. Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO) now produces its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, guided missiles, radar systems, military vessels, submarines, fighter planes, and more. Despite these achievements, Iran’s military spending is relatively modest. For example, while Iran’s military spending is currently about $7 billion, or nearly 2% of its GDP, that of Saudi Arabia is about $43 billion, or nearly 11.2% of its GDP, and that of Israel is about $13 billion, or 6.3% of its GDP. And while Iran produces most of its military equipment at home, Saudi Arabia imports its military hardware (source).

Contrary to Dr.Zogby’s claims, Iran’s military preparedness and its nuclear program, have not meant neglect of its infrastructure. Iran has, indeed, invested considerably in both physical infrastructures (such as transportation and communication) and soft/social infrastructures (such as education and healthcare services). Health care is free for those who can’t pay.All public education, including university, is free.

Although women are required to comply with the official dress code, they are encouraged (both by their families and the government) to excel in educational and professional pursuits. The results have been quite impressive. Women now constitute the majority of university students. Despite the very high level of unemployment, which is largely due to the criminal economic sanctions and military threats from abroad, more and more women are joining the workforce. They are doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, writers, artists, business owners, salespersons, firefighters and taxi drivers.Working women in Iran are entitled to 90 days of maternity leave at two-thirds pay, with the right to return to their previous jobs. Women in the US do not have these benefits. Sex change operations and abortion under certain circumstances (and before the ensoulment, i.e. during the first four months of pregnancy) are legal.

In a number of the “Arab Gulf States,” by contrast, women can’t hold public office, are denied the right to vote, cannot get a university education, drive a car, or even leave home without a chaperone. How or why Dr.Zogby thinks that these states can “provide a model of development and progress for Iran”is unfathomable.

Dr.Zogby also chides Iran for not supporting the ongoing efforts by the US and its allies, including the “Arab Gulf States,” to overthrow the Syrian regime. Yet, there is undeniable evidence that the Syrian opposition is hatched largely by NATO, Israel and their cringing allies in the Arab League. “The Free Syria Army (FSA) fighting against Assad inside Syria isa creation of NATO. Sources indicate 600 to 1,500 fighters from the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya, now known as al-Qaeda in Libya, are working with the FSA to topple the Assad regime. An Arab League report revealed last month that Mossad, MI6, the CIA, and British SAS are in Syria working with the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council.” It is a shame that Dr.Zogby would allow himself to support this orgy of mercenary forces, benignly called the “Syrian opposition.”

In his Article Dr.Zogby refers to the Persian Gulf simply as the“Gulf,” without the word “Persian.” I suspect this omission is not fortuitous. Let me explain why. As mentioned earlier, Iran’s resistance to US-Israeli axis of aggression infuriates the autocratic Arab rulers as such resistance to injustice, which Dr.Zogby calls Iran’s “provocations,” exposes the complicity of these rulers with the imperialist-Zionist powers in the occupation and militarization of their lands. To counter this “problem” and to turn the Arab public opinion against Iran, the Arab client regimes (with the help of their imperialist patrons) have in recent years cooked up a scheme that is based on a harebrained idea that the word “Persian” should be dropped from the name of Persian Gulf and replaced with the word “Arab,” that is, it should be the Arab Gulf, not the Persian Gulf! The scheme is, obviously, part of an insidious strategy that is designed to pit the Persians/Iranians against the Arabs and the Shias against the Sunnis. Regrettably, Dr.Zogby seems to have fallen for this age-old divide-and-conquer ploy.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave – Macmillan 2007) and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.

Since around October last year,  the price of crude oil on world futures markets has exploded. Different people have different explanations. The most common one is the belief in financial markets that a war between either Israel and Iran or the USA and Iran or all three is imminent. Another camp argues that the price is rising unavoidably because the world has passed what they call “Peak Oil”—the point on an imaginary Gaussian Bell Curve (see graph above) at which half of all world known oil reserves have been depleted and the remaining oil will decline in quantity at an accelerating pace with rising price.

Both the war danger and peak oil explanations are off base. As in the astronomic price run-up in the Summer of 2008 when oil in futures markets briefly hit $147 a barrel, oil today is rising because of the speculative pressure on oil futures markets from hedge funds and major banks such as Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and most notably, Goldman Sachs, the bank always present when there are big bucks to be won for little effort betting on a sure thing.  They’re getting a generous assist from the US Government agency entrusted with regulating financial derivatives, the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation (CFTC).


Source: oilnergy.com

Since the beginning of October 2011, some six months ago, the price of Brent Crude Oil Futures on the ICE Futures exchange has risen from just below $100 a barrel to over $126 per barrel, a rise of more than 25%. Back in 2009 oil was $30.

Yet demand for crude oil  worldwide is not rising, but rather is declining in the same period.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that the world oil supply rose by 1.3 million barrels a day in the last three months of 2011 while world demand increased  by just over half that during that same time period.Gasoline usage is  down in the US by 8%, Europe by 22% and even in China. Recession across much of the European Union, a deepening recession/depression in the United States and slowdown in Japan have reduced global oil demand while new discoveries are coming online daily and countries like Iraq are increasing supply after years of war. A brief spike in China’s oil purchases  in January and February had to do with a decision last December to build their Strategic Petroleum Reserve and is expected to return to more normal import levels by the end of this month.

Why then the huge spike in oil prices?

Playing with ‘paper oil’

A brief look at how today’s “paper oil” markets function is useful. Since Goldman Sachs bought J. Aron & Co., a savvy commodities trader in the 1980’s, trading in crude oil has gone from a domain of buyers and sellers of spot or physical oil to a market where unregulated speculation in oil futures, bets on a price of a given crude on a specific future date, usually in 30 or 60 or 90 days, and not actual supply-demand of physical oil determine daily oil prices.

In recent years, a Wall Street-friendly (and Wall Street financed) US Congress has passed several laws to help the banks that were interested in trading oil futures, among them one that allowed the bankrupt Enron to get away with a financial ponzi scheme worth billions in 2001 before it went bankrupt.

The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) was drafted by the man who today is President Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner. The  CFMA in effect gave over-the-counter (between financial institutions) derivatives trading in energy futures free reign, absent any US Government supervision, as a result of the financially influential lobbying pressure of the Wall Street banks.  Oil and other energy products were exempt under what came to be called the “Enron Loophole.”

In 2008 during a popular outrage against Wall Street banks for causing  the financial crisis, Congress finally passed a law over the veto of President George Bush to “close the Enron Loophole.” And as of January 2011, under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act, the CFTC was given authority to impose position caps on oil traders beginning in January 2011.

Curiously, these limits have not yet been implemented by the CFTC. In a recent interview  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont stated that the CFTC doesn’t “have the will” to enact these limits and “needs to obey the law.” He adds, “What we need to do is…limit the amount of oil any one company can control on the oil futures market. The function of these speculators is not to use oil but to make profits from speculation, drive prices up and sell.”1 While he has made noises of trying to close the loopholes, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler has yet to do so. Notably,Gensler is a former executive of, you guessed, Goldman Sachs. The enforcement by the CFTC remains non-existent.

The role of key banks along with oil majors such as BP in manipulating a new oil price bubble since last Autumn, one detached from the physical reality of supply-demand calculations of real oil barrels, is being noted by a number of sources.

A ‘gambling casino…’

Current estimates are that speculators, that is futures traders such as banks and hedge funds who have no intent of taking physical delivery but only of turning a paper profit, today control some 80 percent of the energy futures market, up from 30 percent a decade ago.  CFTC Chair Gary Gensler, perhaps to maintain a patina of credibility while his agency ignored the legal mandate of Congress,  declared last year in reference to oil markets that “huge inflows of speculative money create a self-fulfilling prophecy that drives up commodity prices.” 2 In early March, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Minister Hani Hussein said in an interview broadcast on state television, “Under the supply and demand theory, oil prices today are not justified.”3

Michael Greenberger, professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and a former CFTC regulator who has tried to draw public attention to the consequences of the US Government’s decisions to allow unbridled speculation and manipulation of energy prices by big banks and funds, recently noted, “There are 50 studies showing that speculation adds an incredible premium to the price of oil, but somehow that hasn’t seeped into the conventional wisdom,” Greenberger said. “Once you have the market dominated by speculators, what you really have is a gambling casino.” 4

The result of a permissive US Government regulation of oil markets has created the ideal conditions whereby a handful of strategic banks and financial institutions, interestingly the same ones dominating world trade in oil derivatives and the same ones who own the shares of the major oil trading exchange in London, ICE Futures, are able to manipulate huge short-term swings in the price we pay for oil or gasoline or countless other petroleum-based products.

We are in the midst of one of those swings now, one made worse by the Israeli saber-rattling rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear program. Let me go on record stating categorically my firm conviction that Israel will not engage in a direct war against Iran nor will Washington. But the effect of the war rhetoric is to create the ideal backdrop for a massive speculative spike in oil. Some analysts speak of oil at $150 by summer.

Hillary Clinton just insured that the oil price will continue to ride high for months on fears of a war with Iran by delivering a new ultimatum to Iran on the nuclear issue in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, “by year’s end or else…” 5

Curiously, one of the real drivers of the current oil price bubble is the Obama Administration’s economic sanctions recently imposed on oil transactions of the Central Bank of Iran. By pressuring Japan, South Korea and the EU not to import Iranian oil or face punitive actions, Washington has reportedly forced a huge drop in oil supply from Iran to the world market in recent weeks, giving a turbo boost to the Wall Street derivatives play on oil. In a recent OpEd in the London Financial Times, Ian Bremmer and David Gordon of the Eurasia Group wrote, “… removing too much Iranian oil from the world’s energy supply could cause an oil price spike  that would halt the recovery even as it does some financial damage to Iran. For perhaps the first time, sanctions have the potential to be ‘too successful,’ hurting the sanctioners as much as the sanctioned.”

Iran is shipping 300,000 to 400,000 a barrels a day less than its usual 2.5 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg. Last week, the US Energy Information Administration said in a report that much of that Iranian oil isn’t being exported because insurers won’t issue policies for the shipments.6

The issue of unbridled and unregulated oil derivatives speculation by a handful of big banks is not a new issue. A June 2006 US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on “The Role of Market Speculation in rising oil and gas prices,” noted, “…there is substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices.”

The report pointed out that the Commodity Futures Trading Trading Commission had been mandated by Congress to ensure that prices on the futures market reflect the laws of supply and demand rather than manipulative practices or excessive speculation. The US Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) states, “Excessive speculation in any commodity under contracts of sale of such commodity for future delivery . . . causing sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in the price of such commodity, is an undue and unnecessary burden on interstate commerce in such commodity.” Further, the CEA directs the CFTC to establish such trading limits “as the Commission finds are necessary to diminish, eliminate, or prevent such burden.”7

Where is the CFTC now that we need such limits? As Senator Sanders correctly noted, the CFTC appears to ignore the law to the benefit of Goldman Sachs and Wall Street friends who dominate the trade in oil futures.

The moment that it becomes clear that the Obama Administration has acted to prevent any war with Iran by opening various diplomatic back-channels and that Netanyahu is merely trying to use the war threats to enhance his tactical position to horse trade with an Obama Administration he despises, the price of oil is poised to drop like a stone within days. Until then, the key oil derivatives insiders are laughing all the way to the bank. The effect of the soaring oil prices on fragile world economic growth, especially in countries like China is very negative as well.

Notes:

1 Morgan Korn, Oil Speculators Must Be Stopped and the CFTC “Needs to Obey the Law”: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Daily Ticker, March 7, 2012, accessed in
http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/oil-speculators-must-stopped-ctfc-needs-obey-law-182903332.html

2 Ibid.

3 UpstreamOnline, Kuwait’s oil minister believes current world oil prices are not justified, adding that the Gulf state’s current production rate will not affect its level of strategic reserves, 12 March 2012, accessed in
http://www.upstreamonline.com/live/article1236944.ece

4 Peter S. Goodman, Behind Gas Price Increases, Obama’s Failure To Crack Down On Speculators,  The Huffington Post, March 15, 2012, accessed in
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-s-goodman/gas-price-increase_b_1346035.html

5 Tom Parfitt,  US ‘tells Russia to warn Iran of last chance’ , The Telegraph, 14 March 2012, accessed in
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9142688/US-tells-Russia-to-warn-Iran-of-last-chance.html

6 Steve Levine, Obama administration brushes off oil price impact of Iran sanctions, Foreign Policy, March 8, 2012, accessed in
http://oilandglory.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/08/obama_administration_brushes_off_oil_price_impact_of_iran_sanctions

7 F. William Engdahl, ‘Perhaps 60% of today’s oil price is pure speculation’, Global Research, May 2, 2008, accessed in
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8878.

A surreal fog hangs over U.S. labor unions’ enthusiastic endorsement of Barack Obama. When AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced the labor federation’s recent endorsement, the exaggerated pro-Obama comments likely surprised union members everywhere. Has President Trumka paid any attention to the labor policies of President Obama?

In his announcement Trumka stated that: “As president, Barack Obama has placed his faith in America’s working men and women to lead our country to economic recovery and our full potential. So we’re putting our faith in him.” (March 13, 2012).

Sadly, Trumka’s faith in Obama is not supported by any facts. The “proof” that Trumka gave to support the Obama endorsement was three-fold, and entirely misleading:

1) Obama’s initial stimulus plan that created or “saved” 3.5 million jobs (a generous estimate).

2) Obama’s health care plan

3) The Wall Street reform bill

If the AFL-CIO President really wanted to assess Obama’s first four years in relation to working people, he should have included the following points:

1) He bailed out the bankers, and his administration has refused to prosecute any of them for the crimes they committed.

2) The shameful lack of action to create the 25 million full-time jobs the AFL-CIO demanded, until recently, to address the jobs depression.

3) The truth of Obama’s health care plan; it slashes hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare; forces working people to buy shoddy corporate health care, and taxes the health care of union workers (so called “Cadillac” health care plans).

4) The Wall Street “reform” bill was weak enough to allow Wall Street to continue acting as it had been before the crisis, thus re-creating the conditions that will inevitably lead to another crisis.

5) Obama was complicit as Democratic governors attacked the wages and benefits of public sector union workers across the United States, rather than raising taxes on the wealthy to handle state deficits. The continuing attack on public sector unions aims at the heart of the labor movement.

6) Obama’s national deficit reduction plan threatens to cut additional hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare and reduce Social Security benefits.

7) Obama’s badly named Race-to-the-Top education program is a direct attack on public education and unionized teachers, since it rewards states for creating privately administered and non-union charter schools, while attacking the seniority of union teachers in publicly administered schools through new “teacher evaluation” schemes.

8) Obama pushed to pass the pro-corporate South Korea, Colombia, and Panama free-trade deals.

9) Obama promised to pass the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act, but never aggressively promoted it. A broken promise.

10) He promised to renegotiate NAFTA, another broken promise, because he did not even go through the motions of pretending to try.

11) He promised to make immigration reform a top priority and did nothing, again without trying.

12) He campaigned against the Patriot Act and then turned around to support it when he was elected.

What is Obama promising unions this election? Nothing. Why make promises to organizations like labor that don’t seem to care if you break them?

What does labor hope to specifically gain from Obama this time? Labor leaders are not saying. In reality, Obama will continue to offer labor a slow strangulation, which some labor leaders prefer when contrasted to the Republican’s promised guillotine.

The “lesser of two evils” argument was Trumka’s most convincing when he announced support for Obama, yet the logic remains fundamentally flawed.

The power of labor unions is not dependent on politicians, but inherent in itself. Labor unions do not depend on the good graces of Democrats for their survival; workers are quite capable of defending themselves. Last year’s events in Wisconsin and Ohio revealed on a small scale the enormous potential of organized labor to mobilize for power.

Unfortunately, some labor leaders have misunderstood the Wisconsin events, thinking that the enormous energy somehow applies to the coming election campaign for President Obama. In regards to labor activity in Wisconsin and Ohio, The New York Times quoted Randi Weingarten, union President of the American Federation of Teachers:

“That was a pretty big wake-up call to the Republican Party and also to the Democratic Party, because it showed what labor unions can do when they’re motivated and can reach out to voters across the board.”

True, when union members are “motivated,” they can do truly incredible things. But the election campaign of Obama is not a motivating event. The same article continues:

“… [AFL-CIO] labor leaders say they will mount their biggest campaign effort [to elect Obama], with far more union members than ever before — at least 400,000, they say — knocking on voters’ doors to counter the well-endowed ‘super PACs’ backing Republicans.”

And: “The Service Employees International Union [SEIU], with million members, aims to mobilize 100,000 of its members this year — twice as many as in 2008 — to make phone calls and knock on doors. ‘What’s different in our approach this year is massive investment in activating member volunteers,’ said Brandon Davis, the service employees’ political director.” (March 12, 2012).

Sadly, the AFL-CIO and SEIU are dreaming out loud if they think their membership will spring into action to re-elect President Obama. Union members are no different than the millions of non- organized workers across the country who’ve experienced zero benefit from having Obama as their President. Union members, like non-union members, saw their living standards fall under Obama. Many union members remain unemployed, like non-union members, due to Obama’s lack of action to create jobs. To think that these union members will use their free time to phone bank and door knock for Obama borders on delusion.

Rank-and-file union members have observed that giving money to and campaigning for President Obama does not “build power,” but destroys it.

For example, it is demoralizing for union workers to campaign for Democrats and then have to organize protests against these very same Democrats only months later when, for example, they move to implement cuts in services, jobs and reduce health care and or pensions. It is also a completely wasted investment in terms of the dues money of union workers, who would rather see this money spent towards fighting their employers for higher wages and benefits.

Campaigning for Democrats weakens unions further because union members will not be educated about the anti-union policies of the Democrats. An educated union movement is a powerful one.

Labor is crucially weakened by the Democrats because unions must water down their demands and weaken their actions to make them non-threatening to the Democrats. The AFL-CIO was demanding that 25 million jobs be created before Obama made it clear he would do no such thing. Now the AFL-CIO is silent on the jobs issue as it touts the job creating “successes” of Obama.

The lack of campaigning for Obama by labor’s rank and file will confirm to the Democrats what they already know; unions are not as politically important as the big banks and will be treated accordingly.

Wall Street successfully funded Obama’s first presidential bid as labor leaders tried to stay “in the game” by throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into the election, money that Obama didn’t need. It turned out to be a completely wasted investment for labor, though nobody in a leadership position has yet to admit it.

Now they are making the exact same mistake, though in more dire conditions for working people in general and the labor movement specifically. Labor leaders’ denial of Obama’s anti-labor record is not sustainable, they will be eventually be forced to recognize reality and denounce their beloved President Obama as a betrayer of his promises, but not before wasting hundreds of millions of more dollars in dues money.

During the past year the AFL-CIO began a pilot program running labor union candidates for office on the Democratic Party ticket. Instead of trying to repair a sinking ship, labor should instead abandon the Democratic Party and run its own candidates as independents; the local and national levels, including for President. They could run on a platform calling for massive federal, state and local jobs-creation programs in order to put the 25 million unemployed workers back to work. And this could be the first step in creating a labor party that would really represent working people.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action www.workerscompass.org 

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/Citing-Shared-Values-AFL-CIO-Unions-Vote-to-Endorse-Obama-for-Second-Term  

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/us/politics/unions-plan-a-door-to-door-effort-for-2012-election.html?_r=1  

A Decade of America Ravaging Afghanistan

March 16th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

US imperial wars treat civilians like combatants. To facilitate killing, soldiers are taught to dehumanize enemies, especially darker-skinned ones and Muslims.

Training involves instilling Groupthink hate. Individuality and free thought are erased. Recruits are intimidated to go along. When America goes to war, scoundrel journalism hardens support.

So do politicians, academics, religious and other leaders. They euphemize killing to justify lawlessness. At issue is conditioning public opinion to accept imperial policy like military trainers brainwash young recruits.

Massacring 16 Afghans, including nine children, reflects state-sponsored murder.

On March 11, eleven family members were shot at home. Their bodies were then set ablaze. Away at the time, only the father and one child survived. Multiple gunmen continued rampaging.

They killed another five civilians and wounded unknown numbers of others. Media scoundrels won’t say. Neither will Pentagon commanders and political Washington.

Enraged over 10 + years of war, occupation, death squad and drone killings, appalling depravation levels, and repeated Koran desecration incidents, Afghans want those responsible punished and Americans out of their country.

On March 14, thousands rallied in Jalalabad. Displaying banners denouncing imperial occupation, they chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Obama.”

Afghan senators walked out of session in protest. They began chanting anti-American slogans. Senate speaker Fazel Hadi Moslemyar said:

“We do not need foreign forces in Afghanistan. All the problems which we are facing are created by them. If they leave, the neighboring countries will leave us alone, and we can settle our country’s problems on our own.”

They also demanded soldiers responsible for the latest massacre be prosecuted locally. Names of those responsible are suppressed. A BBC report mentioned an unnamed Special Forces staff sergeant.

Others with him comprised one of many US death squads deployed to kill ruthlessly. Few incidents are headlined. This one circulated widely.

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Special Mission Units (SMUs) perform counterinsurgency death squad duties.

Special Forces include Army Delta Force, Navy Seals, and Air Force 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Training produces cutthroat assassins.

No crime’s too great to commit. They specialize in war crime atrocities against anyone while they sleep. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women aren’t spared. Collateral victims are murdered like targeted ones.

Siasat Daily, a popular Indian newspaper, headlined, “20 US soldiers involved in Kandahar killings,” saying:

An Afghanistan fact-finding committee said up to 20 US soldiers were involved. The incident occurred in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district.

According to Seyed Ishaq Gilani head of mission, “after probing the circumstances and speaking to witnesses and locals, it was concluded that the crime could not have been committed by a single soldier.”

Gilani also said local religious and tribal leaders confirmed more than one. Pentagon officials claim otherwise. They blamed a lone sergeant. Throughout US wars, they whitewash repeated war crimes. So-called investigations absolve guilty parties. Occasionally, low-level troops are held culpable so responsible higher-ups get off scot-free. It’s standard US policy.

Relatives of dead villagers, other Afghans, and parliamentary members want responsible soldiers tried locally under Afghan law and punished. So far, the Pentagon only named a sole violator. Whisked out of the country to Kuwait, he’s now in detention awaiting disposition of his case.

According to Lt. General Curtis Scaparrotti, (Commander, International Security Assistance Force – ISAF – Joint Command and Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan):

“This is really about being able to ensure that we can execute this investigation and the judicial proceedings fairly and properly.”

America’s vocabulary excludes these ideals at home or abroad. Real ones reflect imperial dominance, favoritism shown Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites, as well as suppressing vital truths so people don’t know.

Visiting Kabul at the time, Defense Secretary Panetta told reporters that “(W)e we are proceeding with a full investigation here and that we will bring the individual involved to justice.”

Obama duplicitously said the incident “does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”

If America cared about Afghans, it wouldn’t have bombed, invaded, occupied their country, remained for over a decade, and continued daily combat, death squad, and drone killings.

Afghans responded to the Kandahar massacre by targeting Panetta during his visit. According to Press TV and other reports, a man drove a bomb-laden vehicle onto the runway where his plane landed.

An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) statement confirmed the incident. Panetta’s spokesman George Little said he crashed into a ditch before emerging from the vehicle “ablaze.” He later died. One ISAF service member was injured.

Downplaying the incident, Panetta said he had “absolutely no reason to believe that this was directed at me….This is a war,” he added, “and we are going to get these kinds of incidents.”

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby claimed no explosives were found in the vehicle. Panetta’s visit went on as planned. Afghans want no part of him and US forces he represents.

Partners in Crime Plan Their Next One

On March 14, two unindicted war criminals met in Washington. Obama and Britain’s David Cameron pledged unity on Afghan policy. In a Rose Garden news conference, Obama said “I don’t anticipate at this stage that we’re going to be making any sudden additional changes to the plan we currently have.”

In other words, status quo occupation and tactics continue. They include daily death squad and drone killings.

Unstated was that permanent US occupation’s planned like in Iraq. Troop drawdowns conceal repositioning them and Washington’s intent to stay. They’ll remain on small town-sized super-bases built for permanency. Leaving’s not an option, though Afghans and Iraqis may have final say.

Obama and Cameron also concurred on Syria and Iran. They’re committed for regime change by any means, including war. It defines the “special relationship” based on ravaging the world one country at a time or in multiples. No policy change is planned.

Asked about progress in Afghanistan, Obama duplicitously told reporters:

“If you compare where we are today with where we’ve been two, three years ago, the situation is considerably improved.”

An Honest Afghanistan Assessment

In fact, the situation’s much worse, according to army Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis after returning from his second Afghan tour. Assessing the war in an 84-page unclassified report, as well as another classified one, he described conditions as disastrous. Pentagon commanders suppress how bad. “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding,” he asked?

His report’s damning opening lines said:

“Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.”

His classified report is more explicit. “If the public had access to these classified reports they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes. It would be illegal for me to discuss, use, or cite classified material in an open venue, and thus I will not do so.”

Last month, Davis headlined an Armed Forces Journal article, “Truth, lies and Afghanistan,” saying:

For months, he traveled over 9,000 miles, spoke with US forces in numerous areas from low-ranking ones to commanders and staff members at every echelon. He also talked at length with Afghan security officials, civilians and village elders.

What he saw “bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.” He heard accounts “of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.”

“I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government. From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.”

He hoped to find positive trends. “Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.”

One senior enlisted leader told him soldiers hope only to get out alive in one piece or at worst losing one limb. It’s that bad.

“In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.”

“As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.”

In February 2011, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) assessed Afghan failure across the board, saying:

“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead.”

“They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”

When waging war, changing strategy, or “clos(ing) off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose.”

“That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.”

A Final Comment

Davis didn’t explain that lies define all wars. They reflect duplicity, dishonesty, and suppressing truths. If people knew why Washington wages them, they’d demand ending them or vote out of office politicians who refuse.

They’re not about good vs. evil, security, liberation, democracy, or self-defense. They’re for dominance, colonization, exploitation, resource control, and other imperial motives important to conceal because few people would accept them.

Whoever first said it, the first casualty of war is truth, and then some as John Pilger observed saying: “Journalism is the first casualty.” It’s also “a weapon of war, a virulent censorship….by omission,” denying the public the right to know.

Vital issues aren’t explained properly. It’s hard imagining one more important than war. Men and women fight for lies. Davis saw appalling Afghan horrors. He revealed what he could and condemned top officials for suppressing vital truths Americans deserve to know.

They won’t as long as political hawks and Pentagon planners look for new targets to strike. America’s permanent war policy demands them.

It’s one of many vital issues to change. It starts with full disclosure on them all. It’s everyone’s right to know and high they demand it.

Award-winning author  Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected].

Also 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/.

The hidden agenda in Uganda, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa is the conquest of oil and strategic mineral resources. Going after Joseph Kony and protecting Ugandan children is a cynical smokescreen, a pretext for a “humanitarian intervention” in a region where US sponsored  “civil wars” (Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia) have in the course of the last 20 years resulted in more than eight million deaths: 

“Through AFRICOM, the United States is seeking a foothold in the incredibly resource rich central African block in a further maneuver to aggregate regional hegemony over China. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s largest regions without an effectively functioning government. It contains vast deposits of diamonds, cobalt, copper, uranium, magnesium, and tin while producing over $1 billion in gold each year. It is entirely feasible that the US can considerably increase its presence in the DRC under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony.” (Nile Bowie,  Merchandising and Branding Support for US Military Intervention in Central Africa, Global research, March 14, 2012) 

In a recent decision, the Pentagon confirms the sending in of Marine Special Forces to train Ugandan troops in the fight not only against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but also against Al Shabab in Somalia. Joseph Kony is being used as a pretext for outright military intervention in five African countries.

“So far, the task force has deployed small teams to five African nations, including some threatened by the terror group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, according to a Marine news release” (Stars and Stripes, March 15, 2012 ).

Officially, the underlying framework is “peacekeeping” to be achieved through US sponsored “counterterrorism operations”. The stated objective is to transform Ugandan soldiers into “counterterrorism engineers”, namely Special Forces under US supervision,  ”who will then deploy to Somalia in support of infantry battalions.”(Ibid) 

The sending in of US Marines to Africa is  upheld as “part of a new Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-12 based out of Sigonella, Sicily” which will dispatch small teams of Marine forces throughout the African continent. The initiative was launched in 2011 “as part of an effort to prepare African militaries to conduct counterterrorism operations” under US guidance.

What this initiative also implies is the direct involvement of Ugandan troops and special forces in the civil war in Somalia:

“The genesis of this mission was operations in Mogadishu, Somalia, where African Union peacekeepers experienced IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and other complex obstacles, which exposed them to ambushes by al Shabaab,” said Maj.Charles Baker, a spokesman for the Marine mission, in a news release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.

“The soldiers on training will use the acquired knowledge in war-torn Somalia and in the hunt down of fugitive LRA commander Joseph Kony, wherever he is,” said Ugandan People’s Defense Force Lt. Col. Richard C. Wakayinja, in a separate Marine news release. (Stars and Stripes, March 15, 2012)

WWIII Scenario

 

 

On September 11, 2001, within hours of the murderous 9/11 attacks, Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney had committed America to what they later called the “War on Terror.” It should more properly, I believe, be called the “Terror War,” one in which terror has been directed repeatedly against civilians by all participants, both states and non-state actors.1 It should also be seen as part of a larger, indeed global, process in which terror has been used against civilians in interrelated campaigns by all major powers, including China in Xinjiang and Russia in Chechnya, as well as the United States.2 Terror war in its global context should perhaps be seen as the latest stage of the age-long secular spread of transurban civilization into areas of mostly rural resistance  — areas where conventional forms of warfare, for either geographic or cultural reasons, prove inconclusive.

Terror War was formally declared by George W. Bush on the evening of September 11, 2001, with his statement to the American nation that “we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”3   But the notion that Bush’s terror war was in pursuit of actual terrorists lost credibility in 2003, when it was applied to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a country known to have been targeted by terrorists but not to have harbored them.4 It lost still more credibility with the 2005 publication in Britain of the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the head of the British intelligence service MI6 reported after a visit to Washington in 2002 that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”5 False stories followed in due course linking Iraq to WMD, anthrax, and Niger yellowcake (uranium).

This essay will demonstrate that before 9/11 a small element inside the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit and related agencies, the so-called Alec Station Group, were also busy, “fixing” intelligence by suppressing it, in a way which, accidentally or deliberately, enabled the Terror War. They did so by withholding evidence from the FBI before 9/11 about two of the eventual alleged hijackers on 9/11, Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, thus ensuring that the FBI could not surveil the two men or their colleagues.

This failure to share was recognized in the 9/11 Commission Report, but treated as an accident that might not have occurred “if more resources had been applied.”6  This explanation, however, has since been refuted by 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean. Asked recently by two filmmakers if the failure to deal appropriately with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi could have been a simple mistake, Kean replied:

Oh, it wasn’t careless oversight.  It was purposeful.  No question about that .…  The conclusion that we came to was that in the DNA of these organizations was secrecy.  And secrecy to the point of ya don’t share it with anybody.7

In 2011 an important book by Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, demonstrated conclusively that the withholding was purposive, and sustained over a period of eighteen months.8 This interference and manipulation became particularly blatant and controversial in the days before 9/11; it led one FBI agent, Steve Bongardt, to predict accurately on August 29, less than two weeks before 9/11, that “someday someone will die.”9

As will be seen, the motives for this withholding remain inscrutable. At one time I was satisfied with Lawrence Wright’s speculations that the CIA may have wanted to recruit the two Saudis; and that “The CIA may also have been protecting an overseas operation [possibly in conjunction with Saudi Arabia] and was afraid that the F.B.I. would expose it.”10 The purpose of this essay is to suggest that the motives for the withholding may have had to do with the much larger neocon objective being imposed on American foreign policy at this same time: the consolidation of U.S. global hegemony by the establishment of U.S. forward-based bases around the oil fields of Central Asia.

In short, the withholding of evidence should be seen as part of the larger ominous pattern of the time, including the malperformance of the U.S. government (USG) in response to the 9/11 attacks, and the murderous anthrax letters which helped secure the passage of the Patriot Act.

I am now persuaded by Fenton that Lawrence Wright’s explanation, that the CIA was protecting a covert operation, may explain the beginnings of the withholding in January 2000, but cannot explain its renewal in the days just before 9/11. Fenton analyzes a list of thirty-five different occasions where the two alleged hijackers were protected in this fashion, from January 2000 to about September 5, 2001, less than a week before the hijackings.11 We shall see that in his analysis, the incidents fall into two main groups. The motive he attributes to the earlier ones, was “to cover a CIA operation that was already in progress.”12 However after “the system was blinking red” in the summer of 2001, and the CIA expected an imminent attack, Fenton can see no other explanation than that “the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.”13


Fenton’s second sentence would imply that a homicidal crime was committed by members of the Alec Station group, even if the crime was one of manslaughter (unintended homicide) rather than deliberate and premeditated murder. One can imagine benign reasons for withholding the information: for example, the CIA may have been tolerating the behavior of the two Saudis in order to track down their associates. In this case, we would be dealing with no more than a miscalculation – albeit a homicidal miscalculation.

The Terror War and the Rumsfeld-Cheney-Wolfowitz Project of Global Dominion

But in the course of this essay I shall dwell on the activities of the head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, Richard Blee, in Uzbekistan as well as Afghanistan. Uzbekistan was an area of concern not only to Blee and his superior Cofer Black; it was also in an area of major interest to Richard Cheney, whose corporation Halliburton had been active since 1997 or earlier in developing the petroleum reserves of Central Asia. Cheney himself said in a speech to oil industrialists in 1998, “I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.”14

I shall suggest that the purpose as well as the result of protecting the two Saudis may have been to fulfill the objectives of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) neocon group for establishing “forward-based forces” in Central Asia.15 We shall see that a phone call on 9/11 from CIA Director Tenet to Stephen Cambone, a key PNAC figure in the Pentagon, apparently transmitted some of the privileged information that never reached the FBI.

This neocon agenda was partially to maintain American and Israeli domination of the region for security purposes, and (as we shall see) to create the conditions for future unilateral preemptive actions against unfriendly states like Iraq. In particular it was designed to establish new secure bases in the Middle East, anticipating Donald Rumsfeld’s predictable announcement in 2003 that the U.S. would pull “virtually all of its troops, except some training personnel,” out of Saudi Arabia.16 But it was partly also to strengthen American influence in particular over the newly liberated states of Central Asia, with their sizable unproven oil and gas reserves.

Fenton’s alarming conclusion about CIA actions leading up to the 9/11 attacks makes more sense in the context of this agenda, and also in the context of three other revealing anomalies about Bush’s Terror War. The first is the paradox that this supposed pursuit of al-Qaeda was conducted in alliance with the two nations, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, that were most actively supporting Al Qaeda in other parts of the world. In this essay we shall see U.S. and Saudi intelligence cooperating in such a way as to protect, rather than neutralize, Saudi agents in al Qaeda.

The second anomaly is that although the CIA may have been focused on crushing al Qaeda, Rumsfeld and Cheney were intent from the outset on a much wider war. In September 2001 there was no intelligence on 9/11 linking the attacks to Iraq, yet Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, supported by his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, was already observing on September 12 “that there were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan and that we should consider bombing Iraq, which, he said, had better targets.”17  Rumsfeld’s argument was supported by a Defense Department paper prepared for the ensuing Camp David meetings of September 15-16, which “proposed that ‘the immediate priority targets for initial action’ should be al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Iraq.”18

Iraq had been a target for Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz since at least 1998, when the two men co-signed a PNAC letter to President Clinton, calling for “the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.”19 But Iraq was not the only target in the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz agenda, which since at least 1992 had been nothing less than global U.S. dominance, or what former U.S. Colonel Andrew Bacevich called “permanent American global hegemony.”20 It was a high priority for the neocons. Even before Bush had been elected by the Supreme Court in December 2000, Cheney was at work securing key posts for the 1998 letter’s cosigners (including Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Richard Perle, along with other PNAC personnel like Stephen Cambone) in the White House, State, and Defense.

The terror war from its outset was designed as an instrument to implement this objective. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on September 24 “raised the issue of state sponsorship of terrorism: ‘What is our strategy with respect to countries that support terrorism like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Sudan?’”21 In his memoir, General Wesley Clark reports that the question had evolved by November into a Pentagon five-year plan:

As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.22

At about this time, former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht published an article in The Weekly Standard about the need for a change of regime in Iran and Syria.23 (Gerecht continues to warn in The Weekly Standard about the menace of both nations today.)

In the Clinton era Gerecht, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, had been part of the Project for the New American Century, a hawkish group calling both for action against Iraq in particular and also more generally for an expanded defense budget that would “increase defense spending significantly” in “the cause of American leadership.” The PNAC report of September 2000 – Rebuilding America’s Defenses had much to say about Gulf oil and the importance of retaining and strengthening “forward-based forces in the region.”24

It is relevant that by the end of 2001, in the wake of 9/11 and the Terror War, the United States had already established new bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and was thus better positioned to influence the behavior of the newly liberated governments in the huge oil and gas region east of the Caspian. In the course of this essay we shall see that the agreement to use the first and one of the most important of these bases, Karshi-Khanabad or K-2 in Uzbekistan, grew out of an earlier CIA liaison agreement negotiated in 1999 by Richard Blee of the Alec Station Group, a central figure in this essay. Most Americans are unaware that on 9/11 U.S. Special Forces were already at K-2 on an Uzbek training mission, and that by September 22, two weeks before a formal U.S.-Uzbek military agreement, “the CIA was already flying its teams into the massive Karshi-Khanabad, or K2, air base in southern Uzbekistan, where U.S. army engineers were repairing the runway.”25



Map showing US bases including Karshi-Khanabad

A third anomaly is that the Terror War led to a dramatic increase in the resort to terror, and even torture, by America itself, including against its own citizens. In this context it is relevant that Cheney and Rumsfeld, through their participation in the Defense Department’s super-secret Doomsday Project, had also been part of Continuity of Government (COG) planning for undermining the U.S. Bill of Rights by the warrantless surveillance and detention of dissenters.26 These plans, dating back to the fear of Communists in the McCarthyite 1950s, have been the underpinnings for the elaborate plans in the Pentagon and elsewhere for dealing with antiwar protests against the Pentagon’s plans for global domination.

As I have argued elsewhere, the U.S. is now spending billions every year on Homeland Security in no small part because of the belief, articulated by Marine Colonel Oliver North, that the Vietnam War was lost in the streets of America, and that this deterrent to U.S. military operations needed to be dealt with.27 Cheney and Rumsfeld, as part of the so-called Doomsday Project for Continuity of Government (COG) planning, had been part of this effort also.28 In short, 9/11 fulfilled agendas long contemplated by a small group of officials for radical new policies both in Central Asia and also inside America.

The homicidal crime suggested by Fenton’s meticulous research is one both difficult and painful to contemplate. America is in a crisis today because of the activities of the Banks Too Big to Fail, which, as has been pointed out, were also Banks Too Big to Jail – for to punish them as criminals would endanger America’s already threatened financial structure.29 This essay, though detailed, is dealing with something analogous, what may have been a Crime Too Big to Punish.

9/11, as will be developed in this essay, has other points in common with the John F. Kennedy assassination.

The Cover-Up of 9/11 and of the CIA’s Role in Letting It Happen

After ten years it is important to reassess what we know and do not know about the events that culminated in 9/11, particularly the actions of the CIA and the FBI and the denial of critical information to the 9/11 Commission.

Today, we can confidently say:

1)    the most important truths still remain unknown, in large part because many of the most important documents are still either unreleased or heavily redacted;
2)    the efforts at cover-up continue, if anything more aggressively than before;
3)    In addition to the cover-up, there has been what former 9/11 Commission staffer John Farmer has called either “unprecedented administrative incompetence or organized mendacity” on the part of key figures in Washington.30 These figures include President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, NORAD General Richard Myers, and CIA Director George Tenet. They include also President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Samuel Berger, who prior to testifying on these matters, went to the National Archives and removed, and presumably destroyed, key relevant documents.31 In his book, Farmer has in effect endorsed both of these alternatives.



President Bush awarding National Medal of Honor to George Tenet, Dec. 14, 200

 Farmer’s first alternative, of “unprecedented administrative incompetence,” is in effect the explanation offered by the 9/11 Commission Report, to deal with a) striking anomalies both on 9/11 itself, and b) the preceding twenty months during which important information was withheld from the FBI by key personnel in the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit (the so-called Alec Station). But thanks to the groundbreaking new book by Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, we can no longer attribute the anomalous CIA behavior to “systemic problems,” or what Tony Summers rashly calls “bureaucratic confusion.”32

Building on earlier important books by James Bamford, Lawrence Wright, Peter Lance, and Philip Shenon, Fenton demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a systematic CIA pattern of withholding important information from the FBI, even when the FBI would normally be entitled to it. Even more brilliantly, he shows that the withholding pattern has been systematically sustained through four successive post-9/11 investigations: those of the Congressional Inquiry chaired by Senators Bob Graham and Richard Shelby (still partly withheld), the 9/11 Commission, the Department of Justice inspector general, and the CIA inspector general.

Most importantly of all, he shows that the numerous withholdings, both pre- and post 9/11, were the work of relatively few people.  The withholding of information from the FBI was principally the work of the so-called “Alec Station group” – a group within but not identical with the CIA’s Osama Bin Laden Unit or “Alec Station,” consisting largely of CIA personnel, though including a few FBI as well. Key figures in this group were CIA officer Tom Wilshire (discussed in the 9/11 Commission Report as “John”), and his immediate superior at Alec Station, Richard Blee.

The post-9/11 cover-up of Wilshire’s behavior was principally the work of one person, Barbara Grewe, who worked first on the Justice Department Inspector General’s investigation of Wilshire’s behavior, then was transferred to two successive positions with the 9/11 Commission’s staff, where, under the leadership of Executive Director Philip Zelikow, she was able to transfer the focus of investigative attention from the performance of the CIA to that of the FBI.33 Whether or not Grewe conducted the interviews of Wilshire and other relevant personnel, she “certainly drew on them when drafting her sections of the Commission’s and Justice Department inspector general’s reports.”34

Grewe’s repositioning from post to post is a sign of an intended cover-up at a higher level. So, as we shall see, is Wilshire’s transfer in May 2001 from CIA’s Alec Station (the Osama Bin Laden Unit) to the FBI, where he began a new phase of interference with the normal flow of intelligence, obstructing the FBI from within it.35

The pattern begins with intelligence obtained from surveillance of an important al Qaeda summit meeting of January 2000 in Malaysia, perhaps the only such summit before 9/11. The meeting drew instant and high-level US attention because of indirect links to a support element (a key telephone in Yemen used by al Qaeda) suspected of acting as a communications center in the 1998 bombings of US Embassies. As Fenton notes, “The CIA realized that the summit was so important that information about it was briefed to CIA and FBI leaders [Louis Freeh and Dale Watson], National Security Adviser Samuel Berger and other top officials.”36

Yet inside Alec Station Tom Wilshire and his CIA subordinate (known only as “Michelle”)37 blocked the effort of an FBI agent detailed there (Doug Miller) to notify the FBI that one of the participants (Khalid Al-Mihdhar) had a US visa in his passport.38 Worse, Michelle then sent a cable to other CIA stations falsely stating that Al-Mihdhar’s “travel documents, including a multiple entry US visa, had been copied and passed ‘to the FBI for further investigation.’”39 Alec Station also failed to watchlist the participants in the meeting, as was called for by CIA guidelines.40

This was just the beginning of a systematic, sometimes lying pattern, where NSA and CIA information about Al-Mihdhar and his traveling companion, Nawaf al-Hazmi, was systematically withheld from the FBI, lied about, or manipulated or distorted in such a way as to inhibit an FBI investigation of the two Saudis and their associates. This is a major component of the 9/11 story; because the behavior of these two would-be hijackers was so unprofessional that, without this CIA protection provided by the Alec Station Group, they would almost certainly have been detected and detained or deported, long before they prepared to board Flight 77 in Washington.41

Fenton concludes with a list of thirty-five different occasions where the two alleged hijackers were protected in this fashion, from January 2000 to about September 5, 2001, less than a week before the hijackings. In his analysis, the incidents fall into two main groups. The motive he attributes to the earlier ones, such as the blocking of Doug Miller’s cable, was “to cover a CIA operation that was already in progress.”43 However after “the system was blinking red” in the summer of 2001, and the CIA expected an imminent attack, Fenton can see no other plausible explanation than that “the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.”44

Wilshire’s pattern of interference changed markedly after his move to the Bureau. When in CIA he had moved to block transmittal of intelligence to the FBI. Now, in contrast, he initiated FBI reviews of the same material, but in such a way that the reviews were conducted in too leisurely a fashion to bear fruit before 9/11. Fenton suspects that Wilshire anticipated a future review of his files; and was laying a false trail of documentation to neutralize his embarrassing earlier performance.45

I believe we must now accept Fenton’s finding of fact: “It is clear that this information was not withheld through a series of bizarre accidents, but intentionally.”46 However, I suggest a different explanation as to what those intentions originally were, one which is superficially much simpler, more benign, and also more explicative of other parts, apparently unrelated, of the 9/11 mystery.

The Liaison Agreements with Other Intelligence Agencies

Initially, I believe, Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi may have been protected because they had been sent to America by the Saudi GID intelligence service, which would explain why after their arrival they were apparently bankrolled indirectly by the Saudi embassy in Washington. The facts are well summarized by Paul Church in Asia Times Online (February 11, 2012):

[B]etween 1998 and 2002, up to US$73,000 in cashier cheques was funneled by [Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar’s wife Haifa – who once described the elder Bushes as like “my mother and father” – to two Californian families known to have bankrolled al-Midhar and al-Hazmi. … Princess Haifa sent regular monthly payments of between $2,000 and $3,500 to Majeda Dweikat, wife of Osama Basnan, believed by various investigators to be a spy for the Saudi government. Many of the cheques were signed over to Manal Bajadr, wife of Omar al-Bayoumi, himself suspected of covertly working for the kingdom. The Basnans, the al-Bayoumis and the two 9/11 hijackers once shared the same apartment block in San Diego. It was al-Bayoumi who greeted the killers when they first arrived in America, and provided them, among other assistance, with an apartment and social security cards. He even helped the men enroll at flight schools in Florida.”47

If the two Saudis were in fact sent by the GID, they would almost certainly have been admitted to the U.S. under the terms of the liaison agreement between the GID and the CIA.48 Prince Turki al-Faisal, former head of the GID, has said that he shared his al Qaeda information with the CIA, and that in 1997 the Saudis “established a joint intelligence committee with the United States to share information on terrorism in general and on…al Qaeda in particular.”49 The 9/11 Commission Report adds that after a post-millennium review, the Counterterrorism Center (which included Alec Station, the Bin Laden Unit) intended to proceed with its plan of half a year earlier, “building up the capabilities of foreign security services that provided intelligence via liaison.”50

This was a Blee specialty. Steve Coll reports that Richard Blee and his superior Cofer Black, excited about the opportunities presented by liaison arrangements for expanding the scope of CIA reach in critical regions, had flown together into Tashkent in 1999, and negotiated a new liaison agreement with Uzbekistan.51 According to Coll and the Washington Post, this arrangement soon led, via Tashkent, to a CIA liaison inside Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance.52 Thomas Ricks and Susan Glasser reported in the Washington Post that, beginning after the embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998, “The United States and Uzbekistan have quietly conducted joint covert operations aimed at countering Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban regime and its terrorist allies …, according to officials from both nations.”53

Panjashir valley, area of Northern Alliance dominance

Panjashir valley, area of Northern Alliance dominance

Speaking as a former junior diplomat, let me observe that a liaison arrangement would probably have required special access clearances for those privy to the arrangement and sharing the liaison information.54 This would explain the exclusion of the FBI agents who were not cleared for this information, as well as the behavior of other non-cleared CIA agents who proceeded to collect and disseminate information about the two alleged hijackers. Alec Station needed both to protect the double identity of the two Saudis, and to make sure that they were not embarrassingly detained by the FBI.

Almost certainly the CIA had relevant liaison arrangements, not just with the Saudi GID and Uzbekistan, but also with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, as well as the intelligence services of Egypt, and perhaps Yemen and Morocco. In particular there is reason to think that Ali Mohamed, a double agent who was protected by the FBI from being detained in Canada, thus allowing him to help organize the al Qaeda embassy bombings of 1998, was permitted under such arrangements to enter the US as an agent of foreign intelligence, probably Egyptian.55 Ali Mohamed figures both in the content and as source of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) of August 6, 2001, in which the CIA warned the president, “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.”56 According to Mohamed’s FBI handler, Jack Cloonan, “all that information came from Ali,” while the PDB itself attributes its key finding to what “an Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [---] service.”57 (Ali Mohamed was definitely EIJ, and this service was probably Egyptian.)

Ali Mohamed

Ali Mohamed

 

But when Mohamed, like Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi, was inappropriately admitted to the US, it was reportedly not by the CIA, but possibly by “some other Federal agency.”58 This was very possibly a Pentagon agency, because from 1987 to 1989, Ali Mohamed “was assigned to the U.S. [Army] Special Operations Command [SOCOM] in Fort Bragg, the home of the Green Berets and the Delta Force, the elite counterterrorism squad.”59 SOCOM, which includes JSOC (the Joint Special Operations Command), has its own intelligence division;60 and SOCOM is the command that first mounted the Able Danger program in 1999 to track al Qaeda operatives, and then, inexplicably, both shut it down before 9/11 and destroyed its database.61 In addition SOCOM was working in Uzbekistan with CIA operatives as a result of the liaison agreement negotiated by Cofer Black and Richard Blee of the CTC.

Cofer Black

Cofer Black

For this and other reasons, I suggest reconceptualizing what Fenton calls the anomalous “Alec Station group” as an inter-agency liaison team (or teams) with special access clearances, including Alec Station personnel, collaborating personnel in the FBI, and possibly SOCOM. (One of these collaborators was FBI agent Dina Corsi, who according to Fenton withheld vital information from fellow agent Steve Bongardt even after the NSA had cleared it for him.)62

Background: the Safari Club and William Casey

These arrangements can be traced in one form or another, at least back to the 1970s. Then senior CIA officers and ex-officers (notably Richard Helms), who were dissatisfied with the CIA cutbacks instituted under Jimmy Carter’s CIA director, Stansfield Turner, organized an alternative network, the so-called Safari Club. Subordinated to intelligence chiefs from France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and (under the Shah) Iran, the Safari Club provided a home to CIA officers like Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines, who had been marginalized or fired by CIA Director Turner. As Prince Turki later explained, the purpose of the Safari Club was not just to exchange information, but to conduct covert operations that the CIA could no longer carry out directly in the wake of the Watergate scandal and subsequent reforms.63

In the 1980s, CIA Director William Casey made key decisions in the conduct of the Afghan covert war, not through his own CIA bureaucracy but with the Saudi intelligence chiefs, first Kamal Adham and then Prince Turki. Among these decisions was the creation of a foreign legion to assist the Afghan mujahideen in their war against the Soviets – in other words, the creation of that support network which, since the end of that war, we have known as Al Qaeda.64 Casey worked out the details with the two Saudi intelligence chiefs, and also with the head of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the Saudi-Pakistani bank in which Adham and Turki were both shareholders.

In so doing, Casey was in effect running a second or back-channel CIA, building up the future al Qaeda in Pakistan with the Saudis, even though the official CIA hierarchy underneath him in Langley rightly “thought this unwise.”65 In American War Machine, I situated the Safari Club and BCCI in a succession of ”second CIA” or “alternative CIA” arrangements dating back to the creation of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) in 1948. Thus it is relevant that CIA Director George Tenet, following Casey’s precedent, met with Saudi Ambassador Bandar around once a month, and would not tell CIA officers handling Saudi issues what he had discussed.66

Fenton himself invokes the example of the Safari Club in proposing the possible explanation that Blee and Wilshire used a “parallel network” to track Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi inside the United States. In his words, “Withholding the information about Almihdhar and Alhazmi only makes sense if the CIA was monitoring the two men in the US itself, either officially or off the books.”67 But a third option would be that the GID was monitoring their movements, a situation quite compatible with Saudi Prince Bandar’s claim that Saudi security had been “actively following the movements of most of the terrorists with precision.”68

Joseph and Susan Trento heard from a former CIA officer, once based in Saudi Arabia, that “Both Hazmi and Mihdhar were Saudi agents.”69 If so, they were clearly double agents, acting (or posing) as terrorists at the same time they were acting (or posing) as informants. In espionage, double agents are prized and often valuable; but to rely on them (as the example of Ali Mohamed illustrates) can also be dangerous.

This was particularly the case for the CIA with respect to Saudi Arabia, whose GID supported Al Qaeda energetically in countries like Bosnia, in exchange for a pledge (negotiated by Saudi Interior Minister Naif bin Abdul Aziz with Osama bin Laden) that Al Qaeda “would not interfere with the politics of Saudi Arabia or any Arab country.”70 Pakistan’s ISI was even more actively engaged with al Qaeda, and some elements of ISI were probably closer to the ideological goals of al Qaeda, than to Pakistan’s nominally secular government.

But in all cases the handling of illegal informants is not just dangerous and unpredictable, but corrupting. To act their parts, the informants must break the law; and their handlers, knowing this, must protect them by failing to report them, and then, all too often, intercede to prevent their arrest by others. In this way, handlers, over and over again, become complicit in the crimes of their informants.71

Even in the best of circumstances, decisions have to be made whether to allow an informant’s crime to go forward, or to thwart it and risk terminating the usefulness of the informant. In such moments, agencies are all too likely to make the choice that is not in the public interest.

A very relevant example is the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993 – relevant because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, was one of the 1993 plotters as well. The FBI had an informant, Emad Salem, among the 1993 plotters; and Salem later claimed, with supporting evidence from tapes of his FBI debriefings, that the FBI deliberately chose not to shut down the plot. Here is Ralph Blumenthal’s careful account in the New York Times of this precursor to the mystery of 9/11:

Law-enforcement officials [i.e. the FBI] were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.

The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars. Four men are now on trial in Manhattan Federal Court in that attack.72

What makes the 1993 plot even more relevant is that Salem, according to many sources, was an agent of the Egyptian intelligence service, sent to America to spy on the actions of the Egyptian “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman.73 This raises the possibility that the F.B.I. supervisor who had “other ideas” about how to use Emad  Salem, was a member of a liaison team, with special knowledge he could not share with other FBI agents. It may have been, for example, that the Egyptian intelligence service declined to let Salem’s cover be blown. This suggestion is both speculative and problematic, but it has the advantage of offering a relatively coherent explanation for otherwise baffling behavior.

This explanation does not at all rule out the possibility that some officials had more sinister motives for allowing the bombing to take place and covering it up afterwards. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was at this very time a key figure in a sensitive Saudi program, signed on to by U.S. officials as well, to supply mujahideen warriors in Bosnia against Serbia (including some, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who were later accused of the 9/11 plot).74 It is clear from both investigative and prosecutorial behavior that a number of different US agencies did not want to disturb Rahman’s activities. Even after Rahman himself was finally indicted in the 1995 conspiracy case to blow up New York landmarks, the US Government continued to protect Ali Mohamed, a key figure in the conspiracy.

Worse, the performance of the FBI in allowing the bombing to proceed was only one of a series of interrelated bungled performances and missed opportunities, climaxing with 9/11. The first was in connection with the murder in New York of the Jewish extremist Meir Kahane. The FBI and NY police actually detained two of the murderers in that case and then released them, allowing them to take part in the WTC bombing of 1993. A key trainer of the two men was Ali Mohamed while still in U.S. Special Forces, whose name was systematically protected from disclosure by the prosecuting attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald. Then in 1994, when Ali Mohamed was detained in Vancouver by the Canadian RCMP, the FBI intervened to arrange for his release. This freed Mohamed to proceed to Kenya, where he became the lead organizer of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi.75

Ali Mohamed was finally detained by the Americans in 1998, but still not imprisoned. He was apparently still a free man when he readily confessed to his FBI handler, Jack Cloonan, that he not only knew at least three of the 9/11 alleged hijackers, but had helped instruct them in how to hijack airplanes.76 According to Ali Soufan, released in September 2011, Ali Mohamed was still awaiting sentencing in 2011, twelve years after his guilty plea in May 1999.77

We have to conclude that there is something profoundly dysfunctional going on here, and has been going on since before 9/11, indeed under both political parties. The conditions of secrecy created by special clearances have not just masked this dysfunctionality; they have, I would argue, helped create it. The history of espionage demonstrates that secret power, when operating in the sphere of illegal activities,  becomes, time after time, antithetical to public democratic power.78 The more restricted the group of special planners with special clearances, the less likely are their decisions to conform with the dictates of international and domestic law, still less with common morality and common sense.

Add to these conditions of unwholesome secrecy the fundamentally unhealthy, indeed corrupt, relationship of U.S. intelligence agencies to those of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This has been profoundly anti-democratic both at home and in Asia. The US dependency on Saudi oil has in effect subsidized a wealth-generated spread of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the world, while what the 99.9 percent of ordinary Americans pay for oil and gas generates huge sums, which Saudis then recycle into the financial institutions of the one tenth of one percent at the pinnacle of Wall Street.

In like manner, America’s fraught relationship with the ISI of Pakistan has resulted in a dramatic increase in international heroin trafficking by the two agencies’ Afghan clients.79 In short the bureaucratic dysfunction we are talking about in 9/11 is a symptom of a larger dysfunction in America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan, and through them with the rest of the world.

Liaison Agreements and the Protection of Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi

Even without the suggestive precedent of the 1993 WTC bombing, it is legitimate to posit that liaison agreements may have inhibited the roundup of Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi. Let us consider first Fenton’s finding of fact: “It is clear that this information [about the two men] was not withheld through a series of bizarre accidents, but intentionally.”80 This finding I consider rock hard. But we cannot be so coinfident about his explanation: that “the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.”81

I believe that in fact there are a number of possibilities about the intention, ranging from the relatively innocent (the inhibitions deriving from a liaison agreement) to the nefarious. Before considering these, let us deconstruct the notion of “letting the attacks go forward.” Clearly, if the alleged hijackers were not detained at the airport gates, people would probably have been killed – but how many? Recall that in the Operation Northwoods documents, which envisaged planning “false flag” attacks to justify a U.S. military intervention in Cuba, the Joint Chiefs wrote “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign” in which “We could sink a boatload of Cubans.”82 Would the loss of four planeloads of passengers have been a qualitatively different tragedy?

Of course 9/11 became a much greater tragedy when three of the planes hit the two Towers and the Pentagon. But it is possible that the liaison minders of the two Saudis did not imagine that their targets were capable of such a feat. Recall that their flying lessons, even in a Cessna, were such a fiasco that the lessons were quickly terminated. Their instructor told them “that flying was simply not for them.”83

Let me suggest that there are three separable ingredients to the 9/11 attacks: the hijackings, the strikes on the buildings, and the astonishing collapse of the three WTC buildings. It is at least possible that the Alec Station liaison team, as a group, contemplated only the first stage, without ever imagining the two stages that ensued.

A minimal, least malign initial explanation for the withholding of information about two of the alleged hijackers would be the hypothesis I proposed in the case of Emad Salem – the restricted access created by the special clearance for a liaison agreement. But just as in 1993, the secret power created behind the wall of restrictive clearances may have been exploited for ulterior purposes. The dangerous situation thus created – of potential would-be-hijackers being protected from detention at a time of expected attack – may have inspired some to exploit the resulting conditions of secrecy as an opportunity to plan an incident to justify war. One important analogy with the 1964 false Second Tonkin Gulf Incident that was used to justify attacking North Vietnam is the same presence of a powerful faction – in 2001 the PNAC clique inside government – that was bent on unilateral military action.84

One clue to this more sinister intention is that the pattern of withholdings detailed by Fenton is not restricted exclusively to the two Saudis and their CIA station handlers. There are a few concatenating withholdings by other agencies – above all the Able Danger info that was destroyed at SOCOM and the withholding – apparently by NSA — of an important relevant intercept, apparently about the alleged hijackers and Moussaoui.85

If the NSA was withholding information from relevant officials, it would recall the role of the NSA at the time of the second Tonkin Gulf Incident in August 1964. Then the NSA, at a crucial moment, forwarded 15 pieces of SIGINT (signals intelligence) which indicated – falsely – that there had been a North Vietnamese attack on two US destroyers. At the same time NSA withheld 107 pieces of SIGINT which indicated – correctly – that no North Vietnamese attack had occurred.86 NSA’s behavior at that time was mirrored at the CIA: both agencies were aware of a powerful consensus inside the Johnson administration that had already agreed on provoking North Vietnam, in hopes of creating an opportunity for military response.87

We know from many accounts of the Bush administration that there was also a powerful pro-war consensus within it, centered on Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the so-called cabal of PNAC (the Project for the New American Century) that before Bush’s election had been lobbying vigorously for military action against Iraq. We know also that Rumsfeld’s immediate response to 9/11 was to propose an attack on Iraq, and that planning for such an attack was indeed instituted on September 17.88 It is worth considering whether some of those protecting the alleged hijackers from detention did not share these warlike ambitions.89

Did Richard Blee Have an Ulterior Motive for Withholding Information?

Fenton speculates that one of those seeking a pretext for an escalated war against Al Qaeda may have been Richard Blee. We saw that Blee, with Cofer Black, negotiated an intelligence-sharing liaison agreement with Uzbekistan. By 2000 SOCOM had become involved, and “U.S. Special Forces began to work more overtly with the Uzbek military on training missions.”90 In the course of time the Uzbek liaison agreement, as we saw, expanded into a subordinate liaison with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Blee, meeting with Massoud in October 1999, agreed to lobby in Washington for more active support for the Northern Alliance.91

After the USS Cole bombing in Aden in 2000, Blee was pushing to expand the Uzbek military mission still further into a joint attack force in conjunction with the Northern Alliance forces of Massoud. There was considerable objection to this while Clinton was still president, partly on the grounds that Massoud was fighting Pakistani-backed Taliban forces with Russian and Iranian support, and partly because he was known to be supporting his forces by heroin trafficking.92 But in the spring of 2001 a meeting of department deputies in the new Bush administration revived the plans of Blee and Black, (supported by Counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke) for large-scale covert aid to Massoud.93 On September 4, one week before 9/11, the Bush Cabinet authorized the drafting of a new presidential directive, NSPD-9, authorizing a covert action program along these lines in conjunction with Massoud.94

In the new Bush administration Blee was no longer a minority voice, and six weeks after 9/11 he would be named the new CIA station chief in Kabul.95 Fenton reports that in this capacity Blee became involved in the rendition of al Qaeda detainees, and suggests that the motive may have been to obtain, by torture, a false confession (by Ibn Shaikh al-Libi) to Iraqi involvement with al Qaeda. This false confession then became part of the “fixing” of evidence, and “formed a key part of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s embarrassing presentation to the UN to support the invasion of Iraq.”96

Did SOCOM Have an Ulterior Motive for Closing Down Able Danger?

What ensued after 9/11 went far beyond Blee’s program for paramilitary CIA involvement with the Northern Alliance. The CIA component in Afghanistan was soon dwarfed by the forces of SOCOM: George Tenet reported that by late 2001 the US force in Afghanistan consisted of about 500 fighters, including “110 CIA officers, 316 Special Forces personnel, and scores of Joint Special Operations Command raiders creating havoc behind enemy lines.”97

In the Bush administration Stephen Cambone, who earlier had collaborated with Rumsfeld and Cheney in signing the PNAC’s statement, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, became one of the active promoters of using SOCOM special forces to operate covertly against al Qaeda, not just in Afghanistan, but “anywhere in the world.”98

It is possible that anything Blee may have done in Alec Station to prepare the way for 9/11 was only one part of a larger inter-agency operation, in which an equivalent role was played by SOCOM’s shutting down of the Able Danger project. This might help explain a handwritten notation around 10 PM on 9/11 by Stephen Cambone, then one of Cheney’s PNAC appointees under Rumsfeld in the Pentagon, after a phone call with George Tenet:

AA 77 – 3 indiv[iduals] have been followed since Millennium & Cole
1 guy is assoc[iate] of Cole bomber
2 entered US in early July
(2 of 3 pulled aside & interrogated?)99

The “guy” here is probably Al-Mihdhar, and the “Cole bomber” probably Khallad [or Tawfiq] bin Attash, a major al Qaeda figure connected not just to the Cole bombing but also to the 1998 embassy attacks. One wants to know why Tenet was sharing with a hawk in the Pentagon information that has apparently never been shared by anyone outside the CIA since. And is it a coincidence that Cambone, like Blee, oversaw a program – in this case staffed by SOCOM special operations personnel – using torture to interrogate detainees in Afghanistan?100

Just as Blee was reportedly a special protégé of George Tenet at CIA, so Cambone was notorious for his fierce loyalty to first Dick Cheney and later Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon. It is not known whether he was associated with the Continuity of Government (COG) planning project where Rumsfeld and Cheney, among others, prepared for the warrantless surveillance and detention measures that were (as I have argued elsewhere) implemented beginning on the morning of 9/11 and continuing to today.101 Nor is it known if he was associated in any way with Cheney’s Counterterrorism Task Force in the Spring of 2001, which has been alleged to have been a source for the war games, including rogue plane attacks, which added to the disarray of the US response, on 9/11.102

Deep Events as a Repeated Pattern of U.S. Engagement in War

I want to conclude with a little historical perspective on the dysfunction we have been looking at. In a sense 9/11 was unprecedented – the greatest mass murder ever committed in one day on U.S. soil. In another sense it represented an example of the kind of signature event with which we have become only too familiar since the Kennedy assassination. I have called these events deep events – events deeply rooted in illegal covert activity in various branches of US intelligence and with a predictable accompanying pattern of official cover-ups backed up by amazing media malfunction and dishonest best-selling books. Some of these deep events, like the Kennedy assassination, Tonkin Gulf, and 9/11, should be considered structural deep events, because of their permanent impact on history.

It is striking that these structural deep events – the JFK assassination, Tonkin Gulf,  and 9/11 – should all have been swiftly followed by America’s engagement in ill-considered wars. The reverse is also true: all of America’s significant wars since Korea – Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan (twice, once covertly and now overtly), and Iraq – have all been preceded by structural deep events. As I wrote in American War Machine, a J-5 Staff Report of 1963 reported to the Joint Chiefs that “The engineering of a series of provocations to justify military intervention is feasible and could be accomplished with the resources available.”  Tonkin Gulf, 9/11, and even the Kennedy assassination itself can all be seen as events that were indeed “engineered,” along the guidelines set out in 1962 in the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposals for Project Northwoods.

In two recent books I have been slowly persuaded, against my own initial incredulity, to list more than a dozen significant parallels between the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. Thanks to Kevin Fenton’s brilliant research, I can list a further analogy. The CIA files on Lee Harvey Oswald, more or less dormant for two years, suddenly became hyperactive in the six weeks before the Kennedy assassination. Fenton has demonstrated a similar burst of activity in FBI files on the two Saudis in the weeks before 9/11 – a burst initiated by Tom Wilshire, at a time suspiciously close to when the alleged hijackers settled on a final date for their attack. Then in both cases there were also strange delays, leaving the files open at the time of the deep events.105

The Impact of 9/11 on U.S. and International Law

Throughout this essay we have seen two different and indeed antithetical levels of U.S. foreign policy at work. On the surface level of public diplomacy we see a commitment to international law and the peaceful resolution of differences. On a deeper level, represented by a long-time Saudi connection and covert arrangements to control international oil, we see the toleration and indeed protection of terrorists in fulfillment of both Saudi and American secret goals. We should see the actions in 2000-2001 of the “Alec Station group,” with respect to the two alleged hijackers al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, in the context of this long-time Saudi connection, as well as of the secret consensus in 2001 – just as earlier in 1964 – that America’s oil and security needs (along with those of Israel) required a new American mobilization for war.

Horrendous as it was, the murder of over 2000 civilians on 9/11 was not the only major crime of that day. 9/11 also initiated a series of on-going onslaughts on both international and domestic U.S. law. Law and freedom go together, and both had been significantly enhanced by the founding documents of the United States in the 18th Century. The world benefited; written constitutions soon appeared on every continent; and the Young Europe movements, inspired by America’s example, began the long difficult process towards today’s European Union.

Starting in 2001, both law and freedom have been progressively eroded. International comity, which depends on each state not doing to others what they would not want done to them, has been supplanted, at least for a while, by U.S. unilateral military engagement without constraint, acting without fear of retribution. Drone killings in far corners of the world have now become routine, causing more than an estimated 2000 Pakistani deaths, the vast majority of them untargeted civilians, and over 75 percent of them under President Obama.106 The preemptive war against Iraq, despite being proven both unwarranted and counterproductive, has been followed by the preemptive bombing of Libya, and the prospect of still further campaigns against Syria and Iran.

Writing as a Canadian, let me say that I believe in American exceptionalism, and that at one time America was truly exceptional in its unprecedented replacement of authoritarian with limited constitutional government. Today America is still exceptional, but for its percentage of citizens who are incarcerated, for its disparity in wealth and income between rich and poor (a ratio exceeded among large nations only by China), and for its wanton use of lethal power abroad.

Only the last of these trends began with 9/11. But 9/11 itself should be seen as a dialectical outcome of America’s imperial expansion and simultaneous decay — a process inevitably afflicting those superstates that amass and retain more power than is necessary for the orderly management of their own affairs.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here http://www.peterdalescott.net/q.html. Peter Dale Scott is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

Notes:

1 A shorter version of this paper was presented at the International Hearings on 9/11 at Toronto, September 11, 2011. It can be seen on line at here.

2 But perhaps no single act of terror committed in the last decade, whether by Qaddafi in Libya or Assad in Syria, has surpassed or even come close to the U.S. devastation of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

3 “Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation,” September 11, 2001, here. On September 20, 2001, Bush said in an address to a joint session of congress, “Our ‘war on terror’ begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

4 On this point see the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), 66: “To date we have seen no evidence that … Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.”

5 Sunday Times (London), May 1, 2005; Mark Danner, The Secret Way to War: the Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War’s buried history (New York: New York Review Books, 2006).

6 9/11 Commission Report, 266-72 (272).

7 Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Who Is Rich Blee?” 911Truth.org, September 21, 2111, here; Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Insiders voice doubts about CIA’s 9/11 story,” Salon, October 14, 2111, here. O’Connor and Nowosielski add corroboration from former Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke. “Clarke said he assumed that ‘there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share that information.’ When asked who might have issued such an order, he replied, ‘I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet — although he added that Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.’

8 Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots (Walterville, OR: TrineDay, 2011).

9 9/11 Commission Report, 259, 271; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 352–54; Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 203.

10 Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; cf. Wright,  Looming Tower, 339-44; discussion in Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 355, 388-89.

11 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 383-86.

12 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 48. Cf. Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; quoted approvingly in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 399.

13 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.

14 Lutz Kleverman, “The new Great Game,” Guardian (London), October 19, 2003, here.

15 Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century: A Report of the Project for the New American Century, September 2000, here, 17, 27.

16 “US Pulls out of Saudi Arabia,” BBC News, April 29, 2003, here.

17 Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: inside America’s war on terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 31.

18 Bradley Graham, By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld (New York: Public Affairs, 2009), 290.

19 PNAC, Letter to President Clinton on Iraq, January 26, 1998, here.

20 Gary Dorrien, Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana (New York: Routledge, 2004). Bacevich was speaking of a 1992 memo drafted by Wolfowitz for then Defense Secretary Cheney, calling for America to retain the power to act unilaterally. See Lewis D. Solomon, Paul D. Wolfowitz: visionary intellectual, policymaker, and strategist (New York: Praeger, 2007), 52; Andrew Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge MA: Harvard UP, 2002), 44.

21 Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 131. Much earlier, on the afternoon of September 11, DOD official Stephen Cambone recorded notes from his conversation with Rumsfeld : “Near term target need –  Go massive  Sweep it all up  thing related and not” (here).

22 Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars (New York: PublicAffairs, 2003), 130.

23 Nicholas Lemann, “The Next World Order,” New Yorker, April 1, 2002, here.

24 Rebuilding America’s Defenses — Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century: A Report of the Project for the New American Century, September 2000, here, 17, 27.

25 Ahmed Rashid, Descent into chaos: the United States and the failure of nation building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (New York: Viking, 2008), 70, 69; citing Ahmed Rashid, “US Builds Alliances in  Central Asia,” Far Eastern Economic Review, May 1, 2000: “The CIA and the Pentagon had been closely collaborating with the Uzbek army and secret services since 1997, providing training, equipment, and mentoring in the hope of using Uzbek Special Forces to snatch Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan, a fact I discovered on a trip to Washington in 2000.”

26 Peter Dale Scott, “The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, November 21, 2011, here.

27 Scott, The Road to 9/11: wealth, empire, and the future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 9.

28 Estimates of annual spending on Homeland Security range up to a trillion dollars. See Stephan Salisbury, “Weaponizing the Body Politic,” TomDispatch.com, March 4, 2012, here.

29 Cf. Simon Johnson, “Too Big to Jail,” Slate, February 24, 2012, here: “The main motivation behind the administration’s indulgence of serious criminality evidently is fear of the consequences of taking tough action on individual bankers. And maybe officials are right to be afraid, given the massive size of the banks in question relative to the economy. In fact, those banks are bigger now than they were before the crisis, and, as James Kwak and I documented at length in our book 13 Bankers, they are much larger than they were 20 years ago.”

30 John Farmer, The Ground Truth: the untold story of America under attack on 9/11 (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009), 288; quoted in Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, The Eleventh Day: the full story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden (New York: Ballantine, 2011), 147.

31 Summers , 383-84; cf. Farmer, Ground Truth, 41. Although a Democrat, Berger was subsequently protected by the Republican Bush Administration from having to testify to Congress about his behavior (a condition of his plea bargain).

32 Summers, Eleventh Day, 334.

33 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 72-79. Grewe subsequently left government to work at the Mitre Corp., a private firm doing CIA contract work with the CIA and another private firm, Ptech. Questions about Ptech and Mitre Corp’s work on FAA-NORAD interoperability systems were raised in 9/11 testimony presented some years ago by Indira Singh; see Scott, Road to 9/11, 175.

34 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 78. Kirsten Wilhelm of the National Archives told Fenton,(p. 78) that “It appears Barbara Grewe conducted the interviews with ‘John’ [Wilshire] and Jane [Corsi],” another key figure. Wilhelm could find no “memorandum for the record” (MFR) for the Wilshire interview, which Fenton understandably calls “about the most important interview the Commission conducted” (p. 79). Summers, also citing correspondence with Kirsten Wilhelm, disagrees, saying that the report of Wilshire’s interview exists, but “is redacted in its entirety” (Summers, Eleventh Day, 381, cf. 552). This is an important point to be focused on in future investigations.

35 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 225.

36 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 38; citing 9/11 Commission Report, 181-82.

37 Michelle has since been identified on the Internet, but so far basically by only one source.

38 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 42-45; summarizing Justice Department IG Report, 239-42; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 311-12.

39 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 50; summarizing Justice Department IG Report, 242-43; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 311.

40 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 45.

41 I do not know whether in fact they boarded the plane. However I am now satisfied that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi acted as if they intended to hijack, as evidenced by their al-Qaeda contacts in Malaysia and elsewhere, their attempts to learn to fly, etc.

42 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 383-86.

43 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 48. Cf. Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; quoted approvingly in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 399.

44 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.

45 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 239-42, 310-22. Fenton notes that Corsi worked at FBI HQ, which coordinated “liaisons with foreign services” (Fenton, 313).

46 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 310.

47 The 9/11 Commission Report discounted the importance of al-Bayoumi (217-18); but the Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 (173-77), even though very heavily redacted at this point, supplied corroborating information, including a report that Basnan had once hosted a party for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdurrahman, involved in the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.

48 At first I suspected, as have others, that the two men were Saudi double agents. Another possibility is that they were sent as designated targets, to be surveilled by the Saudis and the Americans separately or together. One of my few disagreements with Fenton is when he calls al-Mihdhar “one of [the hijackers’] most experienced operatives” (Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 205). My own impression is that he was either an inexperienced and incompetent spy, or else someone deliberately exposing himself to detection, in order to test American responses.

49 Summers, Eleventh Day, 396.

50 9/11 Commission Report, 184.

51 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004), 456-57.

52 Thomas E. Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14, 2001, here.

53 Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14, 2001; cf.

54 In 1957, I myself, as a junior Canadian diplomat, acquired a special access, higher-than-top-secret clearance to access intelligence from NATO, a relatively overt and straightforward liaison.

55 For the Ali Mohamed story, see Scott, Road to 9/11, especially 151-60.

56 Scott, Road to 9/11, 158; citing John Berger, “Unlocking 9/11: Paving the Road to 9/11” (here): ”Mohamed was one of the primary sources for the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily brief (PDB) entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’” The PDB, often cited as an example of the CIA’s good performance, is in my opinion more probably another example of the Bin Laden Unit salting the record in preparation for post-9/11 scrutiny. The PDB, without naming Ali Mohamed, refers to him no less than three times as a threat, despite the fact that at the time he was under USG control awaiting sentence for his role in the 1998 embassy plots. The PDB, in other words, appears to have been a performance for the record, analogous to Wilshire’s performance in the same month of August at the FBI.

57 John Berger, Ali Mohamed, 20 (Cloonan); 9/11 Commission Report, 261 (PDB).

58 James Risen, New York Times, October 31, 1998; in Scott, Road to 9/11, 346-47.

59 Raleigh News and Observer, November 13, 2001; in Scott, Road to 9/11, 347. I have added the word “Army.” The HQ for USSOCOM itself is at Fort MacDill Air Force Vase in Florida.

60 Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, “‘Top Secret America’: A look at the military’s Joint Special Operations Command,” Washington Post, September 2, 2011, here.

61 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 168-69; Summers, Eleventh Day, 371, 550.

62 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 372.

63 Scott, American War Machine, 161; Scott, Road to 9/11, 62-63.

64 Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, oil, and fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven CT: Yale UP, 2000), 129.

65 John Prados, Safe for Democracy, 489; discussion in Scott, American War Machine, 12-13.

66 James Risen, State of War: the secret history of the CIA and the Bush administration (New York: Free Press, 2006), 188-89.

67 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 104.

68 Summers, Eleventh Day, 397.

69 Joseph J. and Susan B. Trento, in Summers, Eleventh Day, 399. Since I presented this paper at a conference in Toronto on September 11, 2011, “Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the … 9/11 Commission, [has] said in a sworn affidavit … that ‘significant questions remain unanswered’ about the role of Saudi institutions. ‘Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,’ Mr. Kerrey said” (“Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say,” New York Times, February 29, 2001, here).

70 Wright, Looming Tower, 161; in Summers, Eleventh Day, 216.

71 Such corruption is predictable and very widespread. In the notorious cases of Gregory Scarpa and Whitey Bulger, FBI agents in the New York and Boston offices were accused of giving their mob informants information that led to the murder of witnesses and other opponents. Agents in the New York office of the old Federal Bureau of Narcotics became so implicated in the trafficking of their informants that the FBN had to be shut down and reorganized.

72 Ralph Blumenthal, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast,” New York Times, October 28, 1993, emphasis added. The next day, the Times published a modest correction: “Transcripts of tapes made secretly by an informant, Emad A. Salem, quote him as saying he warned the Government that a bomb was being built. But the transcripts do not make clear the extent to which the Federal authorities knew that the target was the World Trade Center.

73 Scott, Road to 9/11, 145.

74 Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 29, 2011, here. Evan Kohlmann has described how a Zagreb office in support of the Saudi-backed jihad in Bosnia received “all orders and funding directly from the main United States office of Al-Kifah on Atlantic Avenue controlled by Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman” (Evan Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 39-41; citing Steve Coll and Steve LeVine, “Global Network Provides Money, Haven,” Washington Post, August 3, 1993).

75 Scott, Road to 9/11, 153, 347; citing “Canada freed top al-Qaeda operative,” {Toronto} Globe and Mail, November 22, 2001, here.

76 Scott, Road to 9/11, 151-59.

77 Ali Soufan, The Black Banners, 94-95, 561.

78 The corruption appears to be inevitable in superpowers – states which have accumulated power in access of what is needed for their own defense. The pattern is less discernible in less powerful states like Canada.

79 “America’s Afghanistan: The National Security and a Heroin-Ravaged State,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, #20, 2009, May 18, 2009, here. Cf. “U.S. looks into Afghan air force drug allegations,” CNN, March 8, 2012, here: “The United States is investigating allegations that some members of the Afghan air force have used their planes to transport drugs, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday. Investigators want to know whether the drug-running allegations, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, are linked to the shooting deaths last year of eight U.S. Air Force officers at the airport in the Afghan capital, Kabul. ‘The allegations of improper use of AAF aircraft is being looked into,’ said Lt. Col. Tim Stauffer, referring to the allegations that Afghan air force equipment has been used to illegally ferry drugs and arms.”

80 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 310.

81 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.

82 Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” in Scott, American War Machine, 196.

83 Washington Post, September 30, 2001; in Summers, Eleventh Day, 293; cf. 9/11 Commission Report, 221-22.

84 See Scott, American War Machine, 199-203.

85 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 360-61, 385. There was also apparent withholding of information at a high level in the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM): “One official who attended the DO5 [a USJFCOM intelligence unit assigned to watch terrorism against the US] briefing was Vice Adm. Martin J. Meyer, the deputy commander in chief (DCINC), USJFCOM ….. But despite the red flags raised during the briefing, Meyer reportedly told Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), and other high-level CONR staffers two weeks before the 9/11 attacks that ‘their concern about Osama bin Laden as a possible threat to America was unfounded and that, to repeat, “If everyone would just turn off CNN, there wouldn’t be a threat from Osama bin Laden”’” (Jeffery Kaye and Jason Leopold, “EXCLUSIVE: New Documents Claim Intelligence on Bin Laden, al-Qaeda Targets Withheld From Congress’ 9/11 Probe,” Truthout, June 13, 2011, here).

86 Scott, American War Machine, 201.

87 Scott, American War Machine, 200-02.

88 Clarke, Against All Enemies, 30-33; Summers, Eleventh Day, 175-76; James Bamford, A Pretext for War,  287.

89 Mark Selden has described the pattern of “arousing nationalist passions as a result of attacks out of the blue” as one which has “undergirded the American way of war since 1898” (Mark Selden, “The American Archipelago of Bases, Military Colonization and Pacific Empire: Prelude to the Permanent Warfare State,” forthcoming, 2012, International Journal of  Okinawan Studies).

90 Thomas E. Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14, 2001, here. Significantly, the proposal for a joint attack force with Massoud’s Northern Alliance was also resisted by Massoud himself (Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 597-98, 796n25). The problem of Massoud’s resistance to an American troop presence vanished when he was assassinated on September 9, 2011, two days before 9/11.

91 Coll, Ghost Wars, 467-69.

92 Coll, Ghost Wars, 513, 534-36, 553.

93 Coll, Ghost Wars, 558.

94 Coll, Ghost Wars, 573-74.

95 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 108.

96 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 110-14.

97 George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: my years at the CIA (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 255.

98 Jeremy Scahill, “Shhhhhh! JSOC is Hiring Interrogators and Covert Operatives for ‘Special Access Programs,’” Nation, August 25, 2010, here.

99 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 127-30; Summers, Eleventh Day, 387-88.

100 Jason Vest, “Implausible Denial II,” Nation, May 31, 2004, here.

101 Peter Dale Scott, “Is the State of Emergency Superseding our Constitution? Continuity of Government Planning, War and American Society,” November 28, 2010, here.

102 Scott, Road to 9/11, 216-18.

103 Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 1, 1963, NARA #202-10002-10018, 21, here; Scott, American War Machine, 193, 196.

104 Scott, American War Machine, 195-205; Northwoods document, Joint Chiefs of Staff Central Files 1962-63, p. 178, NARA Record # 202-10002-10104.

105 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 283-355; Scott, War Conspiracy, 341-96.

106 Jason Ditz, “Report: CIA Drones Killed Over 2,000, Mostly Civilians in Pakistan Since 2006,” AntiWar.com, January 2, 2011, here. Cf. Karen DeYoung, “Secrecy defines Obama’s drone war,” Washington Post, December 19, 2011, here (“hundreds of strikes over three years — resulting in an estimated 1,350 to 2,250 deaths in Pak).

WWIII Scenario

The USA Africa Command, which America calls ‘Africom’, is a military structure of the Defence Department of America. Africom was formed in 2007 during President George W Bush’s second term of office. That was two months after America had bombed a small African country, Somalia, destabilising it to the ashes it is today and to the danger it now poses to Africa and international trade. The coast of Somalia is infested with sea piracy and kidnappings. This is as a result of the earlier American invasion of Somalia, in pursuit of its illegitimate economic interests in Africa. The political instability of Somalia has now caused the problem of ‘terrorism’ for East African countries such as Kenya.

In October 2011, the Institute of Security Studies held a seminar in Pretoria, South Africa, on United States’ security policy in Africa and the role of the US Africa Command. The main speaker was the American Ambassador to South Africa. He presented what was a ‘non-military insider’s perspective on the United States’ Africa Command.’ This way he was supposedly to ‘separate facts from fiction and rumours and deal directly with misconceptions and misapprehensions about Africom.’

The American apologists of Africom suggested that the creation of this American military structure under the American Defence Department ‘has turned out to be different from what the USA government had originally envisioned and what the United States of America had originally perceived, having quickly foresworn locating its headquarters in Africa.’

It seems that even in this 21st century the United States of America government does not respect the sovereignty of African states and the territorial integrity of the continent. If it did, it would know that Africans have national and continental interests and the right to protect them. Assistance should be solicited. Those who need assistance know what kind of assistance they want. The United States of America has no right to prescribe Africom on Africa even at the expense of dividing Africa and weakening the African Union. America wants its own interests to prevail over those of Africa.

Africans have a painful history of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, racism and colonialism by nations that claim to be ‘civilised’ but have behaviour that is contrary to civilisation. They dehumanised Africa’s people and saw nothing wrong with that. They have never shown any remorse for their inhuman deeds to Africans or offered any reparations for the colossal damage they inflicted on Africans. America’s persistence to impose Africom on Africa proves this beyond reasonable doubt.

UGANDAN OIL AND AMERICAN TROOPS TO ‘HELP’

Uganda suffered unspeakable atrocities under Idi Amin’s government that was installed by Britain under Prime Minister Edward Heath. The British government did not like the socialist policies of President Milton Obote. Idid Amin killed many Ugandans. They included the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum.

After the overthrow of Idid Amin, there emerged Joseph Kony, leader of what he calls the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony has murdered thousands of Ugandans. This included kidnapping hundreds of Ugandan children who he forced to join his army to fight the Ugandan government. Many of those children were killed in the senseless war. This has gone on for over 20 years.

The US government never approached Uganda or the African Union or its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, to ask how the United States could help. Now there is discovery of oil in Uganda. Almost immediately, there are reports that US government has sent an army to Uganda to find Joseph Kony and rescue Uganda’s children. Why did America not make this offer long before Uganda discovered this oil wealth? Acquisition of Africa’s resources is the chief purpose of Africom, not the development of Africa.

WILL US ALLOW RUSSIAN OR CHINESE ARMY INSIDE AMERICA?

Some African countries have been threatened with sanctions and ‘regime change.’ One of them is Libya, where Colonel Maummar Gaddafi was killed under the dark cloud of NATO and United States of America. When Africans raise concerns about ‘Africom’ they are said to suffer ‘misconceptions, misapprehensions, rumours, and fiction.’ Now, is the United States of America government prepared to allow Russia or China to establish their own ‘American Command’ and call it ‘Americom’ in pursuit of their national interests in America? How would Americans react to this? Would they go to the streets and say, ‘Welcome messiah!’

Anyway, the architect of ‘Africom’ President George W Bush has said that the United States’ Africa Command ‘will co-ordinate all United States security interests throughout Africa.’ If this is not imperialist arrogance and contempt for the sovereignties of African States, then the proponents of ‘Africom’ must be sent to a mental hospital for treatment.

VICE ADMIRAL MOELLER HAS SPILLED BEANS ABOUT AFRICOM

Vice Admiral Moeller was the man President George W Bush entrusted with the mission of Africom. Moeller knew that mission in and out. At the United States’ Africa Command Conference held at Fort McNair on 18 February 2008, this American head of ‘Africom’ declared that, ‘Protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market is one of Africom’s guiding principles.’

Admiral Moeller specifically cited ‘oil disruption’, ‘terrorism’ and the growing influence of China as a major challenge to United States’ interests in Africa. Africom is organised by the office of the Under-Secretary of Defence for Forces Transformation Resources and National Security Policy at the National Defence University Fort McNair, Washington D.C.

Africom serves the interests of the United States of America. Africa does not need ‘Africom. Africom is a jackal in sheep’s clothing. A jackal cannot be entrusted with the security and lives of sheep.

WHAT AFRICA NEEDS TO PROTECT HER INTERESTS

What Africa needs is a mechanism to respond to peace missions in Africa to stabilise this continent politically, for rapid economic development, control of her resources and speedy technological advancement of her people. The solution to Africa’s problems lies in strengthening the African Union and accelerating the economic development of Africa. Africa’s underdevelopment was brought about by the Trans Atlantic Slaver Trade and colonialism, which subsequently enriched and developed European countries and underdeveloped Africa.

Sir Winston Churchill admitted this fact when he said: ‘Our possession of the West Indies gave us the strength, the support, but especially the capital wealth, at a time when no other European nation possessed such reserve, which enabled us to come through the great struggles of the Napoleonic Wars…but also to lay the foundations of the commercial and financial leadership which when the world was young … enabled us to make our great position in the world.’

America and NATO have the worst records in their dealings with the African people. Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with the connivance of the US and Belgian governments. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown with the assistance of America’s CIA. In recent years the American government and its British ally have plotted ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe.

In Libya it is America and NATO that bombed the country and got Colonel Muammar Gaddafi killed. This has happened inside Africa. How much easily and frequently will this happen, now with the Africom operating inside this continent? America has sophisticated weapons and intelligence gathering that Africa cannot match at presently.

The ill-intentions of the USA and its NATO allies towards Africa were exposed recently when these allies made it impossible for a delegation of the African Union to enter Libya to mediate and bring peace to Libya between the rebels and Gaddafi’s government. America and NATO treated the African Union with contempt and disdain. They literally sabotaged the AU efforts to bring peace to Libya as well as to Ivory Coast.

Africom will destroy Africa. Africom will undermine the United Nations and the African Union. It will deeply divide Africa into moderates and militants. Africom is a handy imperialist tool for ‘regime change.’ It will be used to install puppet governments on the African people to serve the interests of imperialism.

What Africans need is the collective defence of Africa against imperialism. This means increasing Africa’s military capability to defend Africa’s interests against external aggression. All African states have a national and continental obligation to refuse the presence of Africom on the African soil. African leaders who play the American Africom game are digging a mass grave for African people and their children. Such leaders are a security risk for the people of Africa and of African descent.

They cannot advance Africa economically and technologically, control Africa’s riches, use them for Africans and defend Africa’s people from those who still see Africa as a place of their enrichment and think the raw materials of this continent belong to them. Imperialism is becoming more dangerous and desperate. This is its last kicks before it crumbles. Its economies are in a shambles. Imperialist countries are heavily in debt. ‘Africom’ is a tool to save an anachronistic, decaying, vile system of ruthless economic oppression. The youth of Africa must rise and protect the riches of Africa for the benefit of Africa’s people. Africa’s youth wherever they may be must defend what is theirs by all means necessary.

Dr Motsoko Pheko is author of several books and a former Member of Parliament in South Africa.

President Obama has ordered about 100 U.S. troops into Uganda to “help” and “advise” in capturing Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The troops, Obama claimed, are not to engage Kony’s forces unless it becomes necessary for their own self-defense.

Kony and the LRA were declared a terrorist organization under the PATRIOT Act in 2001, and indictments were issued against them by the International Criminal Court in 2005. Among the charges against Kony and his men were murder, rape, enslavement, sexual enslavement, and kidnapping.

If any of these charges are true, what is the likelihood that American troops will not engage them in combat, in self-defense or not?

News of the deployment was released on Friday, Oct. 15 with a shotgun blast of adjectives that assured Americans that this is really nothing more than a humanitarian mission of goodwill and peace on earth. In fact, the story released on Yahoo News was titled “Obama sends 100 U.S. military advisers to Uganda.” Yes — well-armed, fully trained, combat-ready advisers.

A cursory glance of mainstream media sources and major newspapers reveals that American journalists certainly know how to use a thesaurus. Kony, his men, and their crimes are described with a plethora of terms: “ruthless,” “volatile,” “brutal,” “horrific,” “atrocities,” “devastation,” “heinous,” “human rights crisis,” “notoriously violent,” “reign of terror,” and “unimaginably savage” to list a few.

Kony and the LRA, if guilty of the deeds with which they are charged, are certainly worthy of these words and many more. But Obama’s deployment of U.S. troops brings up a few issues of great concern. To begin with, the deployment of troops by presidential decree is blatantly unconstitutional. Yet Obama, a former constitutional law professor, said, “I have directed this deployment, which is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as commander in chief and chief executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution.”

Wait, what? ”Pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as commander in chief and chief executive”? Article II, Section 2 says, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States….” (emphasis mine).

And who is it that puts the military into the actual service of the United States? According to the Constitution (Article I, Section 8), it is Congress alone.

For good measure, President Obama claims that his authority as commander in chief allows him to direct the movement of troops. But such authority only applies in wartime.

So, he throws in that he is acting “consistent with the War Powers Resolution.” What war? One would assume he is referring to the undeclared, thus also unconstitutional, “War on Terror” in which the U.S. government, under the PATRIOT Act, can declare who the enemy combatants are by simply adding them  to the list.

In other words, President Obama has deployed U.S. troops because he wanted to, and he assumes that Congress will simply go along because they are just as wantonly ignorant of the Constitution as he is.

At least Obama sent a letter to Congress to make them aware of the deployment, apparently so they would not have to find out via CNN. He added, ”I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.” Not permission, mind you, “support.” And, with the kind of adjectives thrown out by the media against Kony, what congressman would dare object? It’s election season.

Now, in May 2009, Congress did approve the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act,” which called for greater U.S. involvement in aiding war-torn Uganda. But it is worth noting that President Obama does not cite the act as his authority in deploying troops to the region. Rather he points to the War Powers Resolution, calls it a matter of “national security,” and appeals to his title of “commander in chief.”

The act allows for assistance to Uganda, particularly of the humanitarian kind, but it does not specifically allow for military intervention. If Obama is sending only “advisers,” why invoke the War Powers Resolution? Obama claims that he was only acting in “furtherance of the Congress’s stated policy” (presumably a reference to the LRA Disarmament Act), but that policy does not allow for military action without explicit approval.

So, if President Obama could wait over two years to intervene in Uganda, why could he not wait a few more days to seek explicit congressional approval for troop deployment?

It seems that Obama was acting regardless of congressional  approval and not because of it.

Further, Obama claims that the LRA poses a threat to “national security.” How? He offers no further substantiation of this claim, which has been used as the world’s largest blanket statement since 2001.

“National security” has been used to justify wiretapping; government surveillance of emails, phone calls, personal correspondence, and credit card and bank records; unlawful arrests;  detaining of suspects without charge or due process; assassination of  American citizens; and more — all in violation of the 4th, 5th, 6th,  and 14th Amendments — in the name of the darkly and ironically named PATRIOT Act.

Now it is being used to justify the deployment of American troops to a region with no national security relevance whatsoever.

If the LRA’s presence in Uganda is of such pressing importance, why did the U.S. wait 10 years after placing it on the “terrorist” list to pursue it? It certainly was not out of a firm commitment to the Constitution or the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers.

But anything can happen in an election season, particularly when attention must be diverted from an economy that would have to improve to be called “dismal.” Besides,

Americans are apparently not buying into Iran’s “terror plot” as quickly as the administration must have hoped.

Finally, and perhaps most likely to escape the attention of Americans, why is Obama against this brutal regime? After all, the U.S. government has been in official alliances  with regimes guilty of the same crimes with which the LRA is being charged. Remember Uzbekistan? That is one of the “insignificant” nations to which Herman Cain referred. The U.S., under President George W. Bush, supported the hideously violent regime of Islam Karimov, and Obama has begun doing the same.

What about Afghanistan? Following the rapid removal of the Taliban, the U.S. handed control of the country to warlords who quickly began engaging in rape, murder, and intimidation to solidify their power. Though the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is now a decade old, little has changed, with violent warlords filling influential seats in the Afghan government.

Then there are the early years of Saddam Hussein, when the CIA secretly supported him with weapons and money for his war against Iran. His brutality, mass murder, and other crimes against humanity failed to concern the American government for a few decades. U.S. enmity with Iran and the ability to manipulate Iraqi oil made Saddam easier to tolerate.

But, of course, the first real CIA overthrow of a foreign government was Iran in 1953. The U.S. supported the ousting of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and helped install the shah, who proved to be quite the tyrant. This was overlooked because the U.S. gained a major stake in Iran’s oil.

In other words, America has a “selective” way of dealing with tyranny around the world. When oil or political alliances are on the table, American values dramatically change. In the case of Uganda and Joseph Kony, it seems that President Obama is willing to sell out the Constitution and American troops, yet again, for the benefit of a political distraction.

If Kony and his men are actually guilty of the things with which they are charged, then no one would mourn their capture, but let no one pretend that this particular mission is being conducted out of sheer goodwill and love for the law.

Both The Market and Government Are Irrational

March 15th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

One of the great economic myths is that markets are rational. Not a day passes without this myth being disproved scores of times, but the myth persists.

For example, today (March 14) Bank of America/Merrill Lynch reported that “yesterday US markets started the day off with a strong rally after the solid retail sales report. . . . tailwinds are helping boost global equity markets today.”

The “solid retail sales report” for February consists of a 1% nominal gain. That is, the increase is not deflated by the month’s inflation rate, which will be released on March 16. In other words, if very much of the 1% nominal gain in retail sales is due to higher prices, the inflation adjusted gain will not be statistically significant. The “rational market” took off without waiting to find out whether the gain was real.

Moreover, as statistician John Williams has established, the official Consumer Price Index (CPI) understates inflation. If an honest measure of inflation was used, retail sales could be in negative territory.

The “rational market” loves deception as long as it provides an excuse for equities to rise. The Federal Reserve’s focus on “core inflation,” which does not include rising food and energy prices, allows Federal Reserve officials to maintain that the inflation rate remains below target. By pretending that there is no inflation, the Federal Reserve continues to support banks with near zero interest rates while depriving savers and retirees of interest income. With no income from savings, people are forced to consume their capital. Thus, the Federal Reserve’s policy makes bankers richer and the country poorer.

Meanwhile, those whose old age security is based on pensions are confronting insecurity. Many with private pensions were harmed by the financial crisis. Those dependent on Social Security and Medicare are finding that these programs are being blamed for budget deficits caused by multi-trillion dollar wars of choice. Those expecting pensions from state and local governments are finding that governments are unable to make good on underfunded pension benefits.

State and local governments counted on a growing economy and rising consumer incomes to provide the tax base to make good on underfunded pensions. These governments did not foresee that US corporations would destroy their tax base by moving manufacturing, engineering, IT, research and design jobs overseas. The absence of growth in real incomes for the vast majority of the people and the capture of productivity gains by capital at the expense of labor have added to the budget woes of most state and local governments.

John Rauh at Northwestern University estimates that the unfunded obligations of state and local governments amounts to $4,400,000,000,000, an amount that is within the ballpark of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes’ estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Money that could have saved Americans’ pensions instead was allocated to profits for armament corporations and to advance Israel’s territorial hegemony.

When the Occupy Wall Street movement says that Washington rules for the benefit of the 1%, OWS is not far off the mark.

VIDEO: War Criminal: Cheney Cancels Visit to Canada

March 15th, 2012 by Joshua Blakeney

Russian military experts: NATO exercise in Norway a provocation

The Cold Response 2012 exercise taking place in Northern Norway on the border to Russia is a provocation and a sign of NATO wanting to strengthen its geopolitical and diplomatic efforts with military might, two Russian military experts say.

The largest military exercise in Norway in ten years’ time is now taking place in Mid-Troms and involves 16,000 soldiers from 15 countries. The exercise includes the largest-ever live firing drill held on Norwegian territory.

“The current military exercise takes place amid NATO’s increased activities in the Arctic. This, in turn, is defined by the coming division of the natural resources in the region. Apparently, through flexing muscles NATO wants to show that it is set on strengthening its geopolitical and diplomatic efforts with military might”, says Chief editor of the newspaper “National Safety” Igor Korotchenko to Voice of Russia.

The exercise could as well have been held on Canadian territory, says Vladimir Yevseyev of the Center for International Security of the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations: “Nevertheless, the exercises are being held on the territories of Norway and Sweden, in close proximity to the border of Russia. They might thus been seen as a provocation”. Russia has all grounds for concern, Yevseyev says, as “vessels equipped with the Spanish-based Aegis system can be deployed to the Arctic”.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) is a ship-based system provided with long-range radar that enables warships to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles. The system is part of the United States national missile defense strategy.

Head of the Russian General Staff Nikolai Makarov has warned the USA that Russia will take the necessary countermeasures if U.S. vessels with the Aegis system are deployed to northern waters or to the Black Sea.

Russia is keeping a close eye on the military activities in the Arctic, Igor Korotchenko says to Voice of Russia: “Russia is now creating two Arctic mobile brigades which can operate in any part of the Arctic, where it is necessary to protect the country’s interests”.

Two motorized rifle brigades specially trained for operations in the Arctic are planned to be created in the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions. In Murmansk it is the 200. The motorized infantry brigade in Pechenga, some 10 kilometers from the Russian-Norwegian border, is up for reorganization as an Arctic brigade, as BarentsObserver reported.

http://barentsobser ver.custompublis h.com/russian- general-sends- arctic-warning- to-usa.5021760- 16149.html

BarentsObserver
February 16, 2012

Russian general sends Arctic warning to USA

“We will not accept that U.S. vessels equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System operate in our part of the Arctic,” the head of the Russian General Staff says.

Nikolai Makarov, leader of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, stresses that Russia will take the necessary countermeasures if U.S. vessels with the Aegis system are deployed to northern waters or to the Black Sea.

Talking with journalists, Russia´s highest-ranking military official underlines that the appearance of U.S. vessels in northern Russian waters will definitely “pose a threat”.

“We have matching measures ready,” Makarov says, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports. The general admits, however, that he is not keen on introducing the countermeasures, because they mean “additional financial spending”.

According to the general, the U.S.A. has been pressuring Norway to equip its Navy vessels with the missile defence system. “Norway has, fortunately, taken a balanced position,” Makarov says.

Russia continues to promote its nuclear weapon arsenal and strategic forces as its main military assets. In the interview, General Makarov stressed that the strategic forces will “under no circumstances” be subjected to budget cuts.

A key element in the Russian military strategy remains the role of nuclear submarines. Eight new strategic Borey class vessels, as well as eight multipurpose Yasen class subs, will be built before 2020. The two first vessels of the Borey class, the “Yuri Dolgoruki” and the “Aleksandr Nevski” will be formally included in the Navy in summer 2012, Makarov confirms.

The general also stresses that Russia will not hesitate to use its nuclear forces if needed. Talking to radio station Ekho Moskvy, the general says that “we are certainly not planning to fight against the whole of NATO […] but if there is a threat to the integrity of the Russian Federation, we have the right to use nuclear weapons, and we will.”

Russia’s nuclear deterrent is the cornerstone of strategic stability and serious efforts are being taken by the Russian government to modernize the country’s nuclear triad, RIA Novosti reports.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) is part of the United States’ national missile defense strategy. It enables warships to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles. According to Wikipedia, several countries have begun to deploy this system, among them Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, Germany and South Korea.

An American vessel equipped with the system reportedly recently visited the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Odessa and Sevastopol, triggering protests from Russia.

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It has been viewed more than 77-million times around the world, but not by those who know Joseph Kony best: his victims in northern Uganda.

That changed on Tuesday night when thousands flocked to watch Kony 2012, the video made by a US charity urging a grassroots campaign against the fugitive warlord that has gone viral.


Joseph Kony: Lord of war
Recently the internet has been swept up in Kony 2012 fever due to a viral video made by a US-based charity Invisible Children. The Mail & Guardian looks at Joseph Kony’s life and activities over the last 50 years.

More slideshows

The film was projected on to an ersatz cinema screen fashioned from a white sheet, held up by metal poles, in a town park. The reaction? Puzzlement, then anger, which boiled over into scuffles and stone-throwing that sent organisers fleeing for cover.

There was particular criticism of the Stop Kony campaign’s use of merchandise, such as bracelets and T-shirts, which victims said they found offensive.

“People were very angry about the film,” said Victor Ochen, director of a local charity, the African Youth Initiative Network (Ayinet), which arranged the screening. “They were all saying, ‘This is not about us, it does not reflect our lives’.”

Ochen said he had wanted to provide an opportunity for victims to see the film made by the charity Invisible Children — mindful that less than 2% of Ugandans have internet access.

The video, posted on YouTube on March 5 and narrated by one of Invisible Children’s founders, Jason Russell, had drawn the support of celebrities including George Clooney and Angelina Jolie but provoked criticism for oversimplifying the conflict and not making clear that Kony was driven out of Uganda several years ago.

Not sensitive enough
Before sunset on Tuesday two metal rods were hammered into dry dirt and grass and a white sheet hoisted to create an open-air cinema in the mayor’s gardens in the centre of Lira, north of the capital, Kampala.

Word about the “premiere” spread on local radio, drawing a crowd on foot and bicycle that grew over several hours and was estimated at more than 35 000 by Ochen, though others put it at more like 5 000.

The expectant, excited spectators — many of whom cannot speak English — included victims who had been left scarred and maimed by Kony’s atrocities.

But Ochen, whose own father and brother were abducted by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), said on Wednesday: “Reacting to the film, there was a strong sense that the video was definitely not produced for an African audience and that it was not sensitive enough to the victims.

“It was very hurtful for them and their families to see posters, bracelets and buttons, all looking like slick campaign ads of the person most responsible for their shattered lives. One young man who lost four brothers and one of his arms said afterwards: ‘How can anybody expect me to wear a T-shirt with Kony’s name on it?’”

He added: “For all the victims, the attempt to make Kony famous so as to prop up public support for his apprehension is laudable but the way this goal is pursued in the video is inappropriate and ignores their feelings.

“That fame is not what Kony deserves for causing so much suffering was one overwhelming reaction. People were asking: Why give such criminals celebrity status? Why not prioritise addressing the plight of the victims whose sufferings are visible?”

Jeers and scuffles

The screening ended amid jeers and scuffles, with some angry viewers throwing stones. Ayinet has decided to suspend planning screenings of Kony 2012 in other parts of northern Uganda indefinitely due to the hostile reaction.

Emmy Okello, a radio journalist in Lira, said: “I cannot understand the intention of this video. It is difficult to account to us if you are not including local people. What has angered people is that the video is about a white person, not about the victims. All of them came here hoping to see video that tells their story.”

Okello Jifony, who was forced to fight under Kony for 18 months, said: “We expected serious action, Americans fighting Kony like in a real movie.”

He added: “Why didn’t they use the real victims in this film?”

On Wednesday there were calls in Uganda to ban the campaign’s “Stop Kony” T-shirts from entering the country. One caller to a radio phone-in said: “The government must protect us victims not only from Kony but also from things that hurt us like these T-shirts.

“And as people of northern Uganda we will not accept anyone to cross Karuma [a bridge across the Nile that connects north to central Uganda] with that T-shirt.”

Highly offensive

Al-Jazeera reporter Malcolm Webb blogged: “One woman I spoke to make the comparison of selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11 — likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, how ever well intentioned the campaign behind it.”

Kony, a self-proclaimed mystic, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

On Tuesday a Congolese general said Kony and other LRA leaders have been chased out of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the neighbouring Central African Republic and no longer pose a threat in his country.

General Jean Claude Kifwa, in charge of fighting the LRA in Congo, told journalists: “We have reduced the capacity of the LRA. For us it’s no longer an issue of defence. It’s a public order issue.”

The comment follows a complaint by nearby Uganda that Congo was obstructing its US-backed hunt for Kony. —

We look at the history of Joseph Kony

Recently “humanitarian” groups such as Amnesty International and Avaaz have been targeting Russia (and China to a lesser extent) in relation to the current Syrian conflict.
 
The stance does not make much sense in relation to the general missions of these “humanitarian” groups.
 
A.I., a long standing effective and trusted player, is seen worldwide as an agency of impeccable credentials on human rights.
 
From seemingly nowhere (?) Avaaz has exploded onto the world-political-activist scene with enormous success (including membership enrollments involving millions of weekly outreach communications).
 
I described this activity as the state of being “infiltrated with the agenda of Empire” in a previous e-mail.
 
It is an extremely effective form of propaganda – these are deeply trusted messengers.
 
The entire effect is similar to how “P”BS is being used to prop up “commercial” network personalities (and mainstream/corp. media agendas), especially in affiliate with CBS and NBC/MSNBC).
 
A.I and Avaaz in particular should be pointed out and questioned in a prominent way in alternative media – it is an important observation to get out into the public domain.
 
The “structural” problem of their anti-Russia/China agenda, and its nonsensical juxtaposition to the mostly ignored problem of the U.S. Empire’s presence and effect is what sends up the red flags here.
 
If that isn’t pointed out to their politically earnest supporters, making this point can result in despair and alienation, or more probably in the (emotionally based) rejection of this news.
 
The grassroots supporters of groups like these need to understand that they must have a clear structural understanding of their own agendas, and divorce themselves as much as possible from the public “personalities” of these agencies in order to interact faithfully on pursuing genuinely and properly-informed political action for good will.
 
The “shape-shifting” usurpation of legitimate counter-establishment agencies is reaching new heights of efficiency and efficaciousness, and we must keep up pace.
 
Analogously, if these groups had been effectively interested in addressing the violence and bloodshed that was part of the recent Libyan coup they would have directed attention to the fact that NATO bombing and NATO-allied Libyan “insurrectionists” were the main causes of the death-tolls that spurred so much “humanitarian” interest, and that the U.S. had been deceptively arming factions (and creating even more factionalism than was already present within Libya) since at least two years prior to 2011. 

The Political and Social Crisis in Mexico

March 15th, 2012 by Dan La Botz

While in Mexico in March as part of a labour union delegation from the United States to meet with Canadian and Mexican union officials, I was given this book by a professor of history and design at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She is also a labour and political activist, and, in fact, one of the book’s authors. Written in Spanish and difficult to acquire outside of Mexico, it is doubtful that you will ever buy and read it; still I wanted to share my impressions because I think it gives us some insight into how people on the Mexican left who consider themselves to be radicals, leftists or socialist are explaining their support for the campaign of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO) for president. And it becomes the occasion here for a discussion of the state of Mexican politics on the left at this moment only a few months from the national presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the leader of the Movement for National Renovation (MORENA) and the candidate for the PRD in the 2012 presidential election.

Arturo Ramos, a professor of sociology, higher education and pedagogy at several Mexican universities, opens the book with his essay, “Utopia, Realism and Imagination in the Mexican Left: The Political Conjuncture of 2010-2012.” Ramos spends a hundred pages in a long, abstract and vague discussion of Mexican history and politics before coming to his point, namely that even Lenin and the Bosheviks held long discussions over the question of whether Czarist Russia needed a democratic or a socialist revolution. The author suggests that perhaps Trotsky, Lenin and the Bolsheviks made a mistake by opting for the soviets (the workers’ councils) and socialism – a decision which ultimately gave rise to a bureaucratic dictatorship – rather than pursuing a longer slower march through democratic revolution. Mexican radicals and socialists, Ramos argues, must not make the same mistake. They must make the leap from utopian idealism and the dream of socialism to practical politics and the fight for democracy. The task for today, he writes, is to support a democratic revolution and an alternative project for the nation.

Structural Transformation of Capitalism

With an attempt to reach out to all those on the Mexican left, Ramos argues that the basis for a revolutionary democratic program can be found in the proposals of López Obrador, the Zapatista who led the armed uprising of 1994 in Chiapas, and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of president Lázaro Cárdenas and founder of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Interpreting what he sees as the central elements of these various documents, Ramos argues that the democratic program must be linked to a structural transformation of capitalism; Mexico must recover its rights under the Constitution of 1917, but must add to those the rights of the indigenous, women, homosexuals and youth. Equally important, the country must create a real system of social security from food and housing to health and education for all of its citizens. Finally, in order to establish the rule of law it will be necessary to hold a constituent assembly to write a new constitution.

Speaking to socialists’ desire to build an independent working-class party, Ramos argues that participating in the campaign for López Obrador will give radicals and socialists the opportunity to organize the country’s working people and the poor as part of the long process of creating a more conscious and better-organized working-class. He concludes his essay arguing that this call for socialists to work for the democratic revolution in Mexico corresponds to the theory of “permanent revolution,” though he has no discussion of where and how that theory arose or what it explained. With a few offhand references to Trotsky and Lenin, Ramos argues that socialists can fulfill their dreams through López Obrador’s populist movement.

Lechuga’s essay, titled “A Political Psychological Profile of AMLO as a Candidate in the Political Conjuncture of 2010-2012,” attempts to paint a psychological portrait of López Obrador using the most eclectic theories, from the ancient four temperaments to Freud and Jung. She writes that the candidate is “of a choleric character: AMLO being characterized by being direct, frank, irritable, rational, willful, fatalistic, decisive, sure of himself, arrogant, proud, suspicious and a scrutinizer of reality.”

López Obrador, austere and well organized, a realist and a problem solver, she suggests would be the perfect match for Mexico, a country with what she describes as having a tendency toward ambivalence.

“We Mexicans don’t practice what we preach. We praise the laws in speeches, but in fact we violate them constantly, for example in the acts of corruption that we practice at all levels; we are fatalistic and we live with a faith and hope, we are individualists and egoists and at the same time mutually supportive and generous.”

She offers her psychoanalysis of Mexico:

“Thus the psychosocial profile of the country of Mexico is that of a nation divided, the product of an incomplete independence, of an unfinished revolution, its geographical location next to a neighbour as powerful as the United States; a profile which is the product of a variety of conflictive mediations of its history, an ambivalent personality: courageous, dramatic, impatient, naïve, capricious, finicky, colorful, festive, humorous, cheerful, pleasant, creative, self-sacrificing, and dreamy.”

In short, she argues, López Obrador, strong, well-organized and decisive, is just the man that Mexico needs. Lechuga’s essay provides a psychosocial justification for a caudillo, a charismatic populist who can lead the Mexican people into a new era.

Surprisingly, neither of the essays in this little book have any discussion of López Obardor’s actual biography and political practice. They have nothing to say about his role as a politician in the state of Tabasco. Nothing to say about his role as Mayor of Mexico City. Not a word about the class character of López Obrador’s “Legitimate Government” (2006-2011) or about the new political organization MORENA (Movimiento para la Renovación Nacional or Movement for National Renovation). The authors have avoided all the hard questions.

Mayor of Mexico City

López Obrador is usually praised on the left as the mayor who gave pensions to Mexico City’s elderly, but he also did much more. As Mayor of Mexico City, López Obrador worked to encourage private corporations and wealthy individuals to rebuild, modernize, and gentrify the city. Most famously he created a partnership with Carlos Slim, the multi-billionaire who is Mexico’s and the world’s richest man, to restore and gentrify the historic district of the city. He also offered tax breaks to large corporations to encourage them to build office and apartment buildings, leading to one of the biggest building booms in the country’s history. To take on Mexico City’s rising crime rates, he brought in New York’s former mayor Rudy Giuliani, known for his attacks on organized and white collar crime, as well as for his strict handling of low level crime and what the well-off perceive as public nuisances such as the homeless and panhandlers.

Most troubling was López Obrador’s labour policy. While mayor of Mexico City, López Obrador permitted the Labour Board to continue to deal with phony unions and their corrupt lawyers and union officials, while turning a deaf ear to the demands of independent unions, union reformers and rank-and-file workers. Many of the city’s 200,000 public employees found it impossible to have their independent labour unions legally recognized. Workers at the time said: whatever we have won we got by going to the streets – the López Obrador government didn’t give us anything.

In 2006 López Obrador was the presidential candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), a party founded in 1988 by Mexican nationalist politicians from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had ruled Mexico for 75 years as a one-party-state, but who rebelled against the party’s new technocratic and neoliberal leadership. The PRD also attracted the Stalinist Communists and other leftists and became a congeries of left sects and opportunistic politicians held together by their desire to displace the PRI from power. Both the PRI and the PRD were affiliated with the Socialist International, which includes the socialist parties of the world. The PRD suffered several scandals in the 1990s and 2000s, including internal elections marked by fraud and political payoffs that were videotaped and broadcast on television.

When López Obrador lost the election in 2006 through illegal activity by the out-going president Vicente Fox and alleged massive voting fraud, he called for massive protests in which hundreds of thousands participated. That was followed by his National Democratic Convention and subsequently, standing alone on a platform in the national square, the Zócalo, in Mexico City, he proclaimed himself the “Legitimate President.” He then appointed a cabinet which he called the “Legitimate Government.” Since 2006, López Obrador spent six years as a peripatetic pretender to the presidency visiting hundreds of cities, towns and villages throughout Mexico and creating an organization of tens of thousands who support him.

MORENA

With the PRD’s growing reputation for fraud and infighting that nearly paralyzed it, López Obrador then turned his “Legitimate Government” into a new political organization called MORENA. At this party’s founding convention on October 6, 2011, there were no votes and no elections, simply the assembly’s approval of López Obrador as leader and candidate. Afterwards López Obrador announced his cabinet appointments which included many figures with histories in the PRI and PRD who had espoused neoliberal policies in the past as legislators or directors of various institutions. With the PRD in crisis, some ambitious politicians have moved into Morena (without of course severing their ties to the PRD) in order to see if the new organization can help further their careers.

So far López Obrador has failed to set in motion the vast popular forces he needs to win the election, running third in the polls. The candidate has addressed that problem by turning to the right. As head of Morena, López Obrador has announced that he is attempting to create “the loving republic,” a slogan that allows him to avoid talking about the serious issues of social class and political program. He has also made overtures to the Mexican business class hoping to win broader support on the right for his campaign. And he has attempted to woo the corporate media by arguing that he is not the fire-breathing López Obrador of 2006 who the media constantly compared to Hugo Chávez, the radical president of Venezuela who calls for “Twenty-First Century Socialism,” but rather a moderate who should be compared to Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, the recently retired president of Brazil who on the one hand brought social welfare payments to the country’s poor, but also worked closely with banks and construction companies during his presidency.

With the conservative National Action Party (PAN) headed by President Felipe Calderón in power, and with the rapacious Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leading in the polls, many on the left in Mexico understandably see a vote for López Obrador as the best of all options or at least the lesser evil. Led by the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) [Ed.: see Bullets No. 279 and No. 280 for more information], some on the left and in the labour movement who are reluctant to simply join Morena founded the Political Organization of the People and the Workers (OPT) on August 27, 2011, as a vehicle to engage in the independent organization of workers while supporting López Obrador’s candidacy.

The Electrical Workers have been leading a massive and militant fight for their jobs since October 13, 2009, when Calderón ordered the police and military to seize the Light and Power Company plants, liquidated the state-owned company and fired 44,000 workers. After trying to win the PRI’s support to get their jobs back, the SME turned to López Obrador, creating OPT to support his campaign. The Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) of Mexico, a Trotskyist socialist group, has been involved in the founding of this new proto-workers party, as have many other social and political organizations. In early February of 2012, López Obrador at a meeting with the Electrical Workers leadership and members promised to help the union win back the jobs of the 16,500 workers who continue to fight for them. While the OPT at this point is a weak reed, it is a genuine attempt to move to the left, to avoid a popular front style alliance with a bourgeois candidate, and to create an independent workers movement within the context of the popular mobilizations surrounding the López Obrador campaign. This approach may in the end find it difficult if not impossible to avoid being drawn into López Obrador’s wake, but it is at least a serious attempt to address the issue.

The problem with this book by Ramos and Lechuga is that it addresses none of the actual structural and political problems, discusses no actual political forces, parties, labour unions, social movements, and faces none of the issues raised by the record of López Obrador. Unfortunately, many in Mexican left and social movements, I fear, will also choose the simple path the authors have, entering Morena and backing Andrés Manuel López Obrador, believing that this strong and charismatic figure can lead Mexico into the Promised Land of democracy and perhaps even socialism. It is either a naïve dream or an opportunistic maneuver, but in any case it is a far-fetched prospect. •

Dan La Botz is a labour union activist, academic, and journalist. This article first published on the Newpolitics website.

Masacre de Kandahar: No fue un loco solitario

March 15th, 2012 by Global Research

Tal como lo adelantó InSurGente, los soldados que participaron en la masacre de Kandahar son muchos. Al menos 20; y no uno solo como nos quieren hacer creer las grandes agencias imperiales de noticias. 
El comité afgano encargado de investigar la matanza de 17 civiles afganos el pasado domingo en la provincia de Kandahar, en el sur de Afganistán, ha informado este miércoles de que unos 20 soldados de EE.UU. participaron en el incidente.

El comité o misión investigadora ha sido creado por el Parlamento afgano para investigar la muerte de 17 civiles afganos en el distrito de Panjwaii, en la provincia sureña de Kandahar.

Según el jefe del comité, después de examinar las circunstancias que rodearon el suceso y tras hablar con los testigos presenciales y los vecinos, se ha concluido que el crimen no puede haber sido cometido por un solo soldado estadounidense.

El diputado afgano Sayeed Ishaq Gilani también ha señalado que los religiosos y los ancianos de la tribu de Kandahar creen que más de un soldado participó en la masacre; sin embargo, las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses afirman que sólo un soldado estuvo involucrado en el incidente.

Líderes tribales de Kandahar, junto a diputados afganos, han pedido al Gobierno afgano y a la Comunidad Internacional que investiguen el crimen a fin de poner en claro quiénes fueron los autores de la masacre, los cuales serán enjuiciados ante un tribunal afgano.

Entretanto, los taliban afganos han prometido vengarse de las fuerzas estadounidenses.

El pasado domingo, soldados estadounidenses abrieron fuego contra un grupo de civiles afganos en el interior de sus hogares en el distrito de Panjwaii, en la provincia sureña de Kandahar, y asesinaron a 17 civiles y dejaron heridos a otros cinco.