Photographs from the Islamic University of Gaza:
Greek authorities trip up psy-op
By Ein Katzenfreund | Aletho News | January 28, 2010
In the last weeks unknown persons lit the local synagogue on fire twice and caused major damage. On January 20th, the Wall Street Journal reported on these incidents. Fortunately, soon after this suspects were arrested. The Austrian Standard reported on the 22nd that two Britons and a Greek were arrested and an American suspect is on the run.
However, a tiny detail has been left out of the reports on the arrests. The two Britons do not seem to be, as the Guardian says, “nightclub waiters”, but Special Forces trainers at the US military base in Souda Bay, the two American suspects are apparently US Marine Corp while the arrested Greek national supplied goods to the NATO base.
It is unclear yet whether the soldiers who allegedly carried out the arson attacks on the synagogue were doing this as part of their job. But since it is known that the CIA, MI6 and NATO forces have been guilty of numerous false-flag terror attacks in the execution of Operation Gladio, and knowing the political shift to the left in Greece recently, the suspicion that the synagogue arson is a new edition of Sheepskin operations can not not a priori be ruled out as unfounded.
Today I’d like to more thoroughly address specific planks of Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory (AGW) that I think deserve further scrutiny. Over the past year AGW rhetoric has reached deafening levels, and advocates have successfully framed the hypothesis as unassailable. Propagandists have yolked AGW with “wise stewardship” and today it’s common for skeptics of AGW to be derided as ignorant anti-environmentalists. But I don’t think that things are nearly so simple.
Unfortunately, once people become emotionally invested in a position, it can be very difficult to provoke them into changing course. Liberals and progressives hailed the election of Obama as the most wonderful thing since sliced-bread. A year into his presidency, with a battlefield full of broken promises behind him and the insinuation of institutionalized corruption and illegal forced detentions stretching into the foreseeable future, many of those same liberals and progressives have fallen into an exasperated, listless complacency. They became emotionally invested in the “hope” engendered by Obama, and when the reality failed to live up to the myth, they were forced into cognitive dissonance, apathy, or synthesis. If you meet someone who still supports Obama, dig a little and you’ll find the cognitive dissonance – and, I would argue, the same could be said of supporters of AGW.
To get us started, I think we should rehash the essential assumptions of AGW:
• As atmospheric levels of C02 increase, Earth’s median temperature increases.
• As Earth’s median temperature increases, atmospheric imbalances precipitate increases in the frequency and strength of weather events (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts).
• Humans are directly exacerbating this process through the burning of fossil fuels and any activity that yields C02 as a byproduct.
• Increased median temperatures are melting the polar ice caps and causing glaciers to recede or vanish.
Since AGW has the pleasant benefit of being a bonafide scientific theory, it suggests falsifiable claims. If these claims can be demonstrated invalid, the theory is in need of reconsideration. On the other hand, if emotional investment and cognitive dissonance are high enough, no amount of contradictory data will matter. Young Earth Creationists make a fine example of this psychopathology. In spite of overwhelming tangible evidence that their theory is invalid, they fall back on dogma or the Bible – and no amount of science will provoke them into reconsidering their position. Thankfully, AGW is far easier to invalidate than dogma from the Bible, because it makes so many suppositions that are easily testable.
Let’s begin with the most crucial component of AGW – C02. Here’s a graph of historical global C02 levels and temperatures. According to their analysis:
“Current climate levels of both C02 and global temperatures are relatively low versus past periods. Throughout time, C02 and temperatures have been radically different and have gone in different directions. As this graph reveals, there is little, if any correlation, between an increase of C02 and a resulting increase in temperatures.”
If we realize that C02’s correlation with global temperature is not a given, the entire edifice of AGW begins to crumble. Therefore, it’s difficult to get adherents of AGW to accept the implications of this data. Again and again they’ll fall back on the assumption that the correlation between C02 and global temperatures is incontrovertible, but they must avoid an ever-expanding amount of dissonant data:
MIT’s professor Richard Lindzen’s peer reviewed work states “we now know that the effect of CO2 on temperature is small, we know why it is small, and we know that it is having very little effect on the climate.”
The global surface temperature record, which we update and publish every month, has shown no statistically-significant “global warming” for almost 15 years. Statistically-significant global cooling has now persisted for very nearly eight years. Even a strong el Nino – expected in the coming months – will be unlikely to reverse the cooling trend. More significantly, the ARGO bathythermographs deployed throughout the world’s oceans since 2003 show that the top 400 fathoms of the oceans, where it is agreed between all parties that at least 80% of all heat caused by manmade “global warming” must accumulate, have been cooling over the past six years. That now prolonged ocean cooling is fatal to the “official” theory that “global warming” will happen on anything other than a minute scale. – Science & Public Policy Institute: Monthly CO2 Report: July 2009
“Just how much of the “Greenhouse Effect” is caused by human activity?
It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account– about 5.53%, if not.
This point is so crucial to the debate over global warming that how water vapor is or isn’t factored into an analysis of Earth’s greenhouse gases makes the difference between describing a significant human contribution to the greenhouse effect, or a negligible one.” – Geocraft
Next, let’s further consider the hypothetical tangential effects of AGW – e.g., rising global temperatures melt icecaps, etc.:
• Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out: “Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.”
• ‘AGW – I refute it thus!’: Central England Temperatures 1659 – 2009: “Summary: Unprecedented warming did not occur in central England during the first decade of the 21st century, nor during the last decade of the 20th century. As the CET dataset is considered a decent proxy for Northern Hemisphere temperatures, and since global temperature trends follow a similar pattern to Northern Hemisphere temps, then the same conclusion about recent warming can potentially be inferred globally. Based on the CET dataset, the global warming scare has been totally blown out of proportion by those who can benefit from the fear.”
• 50 Years of Cooling Predicted: “‘My findings do not agree with the climate models that conventionally thought that greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, are the major culprits for the global warming seen in the late 20th century,’ Lu said. ‘Instead, the observed data show that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays most likely caused both the Antarctic ozone hole and global warming….’
In his research, Lu discovers that while there was global warming from 1950 to 2000, there has been global cooling since 2002. The cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years, according to his new research observations.”
A comparison of GISS data for the last 111 years show US cities getting warmer but rural sites are not increasing in temperature at all. Urban Heat Islands may be the only areas warming.
Rise of sea levels is ‘the greatest lie ever told’:
If there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story.
Despite fluctuations down as well as up, “the sea is not rising,” he says. “It hasn’t risen in 50 years.” If there is any rise this century it will “not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm”. And quite apart from examining the hard evidence, he says, the elementary laws of physics (latent heat needed to melt ice) tell us that the apocalypse conjured up by Al Gore and Co could not possibly come about.
The reason why Dr Mörner, formerly a Stockholm professor, is so certain that these claims about sea level rise are 100 per cent wrong is that they are all based on computer model predictions, whereas his findings are based on “going into the field to observe what is actually happening in the real world”. – Telegraph.co.uk
Since the early Holocene, according to the findings of the six scientists, sea-ice cover in the eastern Chuckchi Sea appears to have exhibited a general decreasing trend, in contrast to the eastern Arctic, where sea-ice cover was substantially reduced during the early to mid-Holocene and has increased over the last 3000 years. Superimposed on both of these long-term changes, however, are what they describe as “millennial-scale variations that appear to be quasi-cyclic.” And they write that “it is important to note that the amplitude of these millennial-scale changes in sea-surface conditions far exceed [our italics] those observed at the end of the 20th century.”
Since the change in sea-ice cover observed at the end of the 20th century (which climate alarmists claim to be unnatural) was far exceeded by changes observed multiple times over the past several thousand years of relatively stable atmospheric CO2 concentrations (when values never strayed much below 250 ppm or much above 275 ppm), there is no compelling reason to believe that the increase in the air’s CO2 content that has occurred since the start of the Industrial Revolution has had anything at all to do with the declining sea-ice cover of the recent past; for at a current concentration of 385 ppm, the recent rise in the air’s CO2 content should have led to a decrease in sea-ice cover that far exceeds what has occurred multiple times in the past without any significant change in CO2. – C02 Science.org
• The Global Warming Scandal Heats Up: “The IPCC has been forced to admit that the claim made was actually taken from an article published in 1999. The article was based around a telephone interview with an Indian scientist who has admitted that he was working from pure speculation and his claims were not backed by research.”
• The Dam is Cracking: “[The claims of Himalayan glacial melting] turned out to have no basis in scientific fact, even though everything the IPCC produces is meant to be rigorously peer-reviewed, but simply an error recycled by the WWF, which the IPCC swallowed whole.
The truth, as seen by India’s leading expert in glaciers, is that “Himalayan glaciers have not in anyway exhibited, especially in recent years, an abnormal annual retreat.” …
Then at the weekend another howler was exposed. The IPCC 2007 report claimed that global warming was leading to an increase in extreme weather, such as hurricanes and floods. Like its claims about the glaciers, this was also based on an unpublished report which had not been subject to scientific scrutiny — indeed several experts warned the IPCC not to rely on it.”
• Arctic Sea Ice Since 2007: “According to the World Meteorological Organization, Arctic sea ice has increased by 19 percent since its minimum in 2007, though they don’t make it very easy to see this in the way that they report the data.”
Now let’s consider some of the agents and institutions that are strong advocates of AGW:
Howard C. Hayden, emeritus professor of physics from the University of Connecticut, told a Pueblo West audience that he was prompted to speak out after a visit to New York where he learned that scaremongering billboards about the long-term effects of global warming were being purchased at a cost of $700,000 a month.
“Someone is willing to spend a huge amount of money to scare us about global warming,” Hayden said. “Big money is behind the global-warming propaganda.”
Lawrence Solomon: Wikipedia’s Climate Doctor:
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the bands members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.
All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.” – National Post
The ‘ClimateGate’ scandal that broke a couple of months ago warrants some elaboration, too. For previous posts on this topic, see:
That foundation established, let’s take a closer look at who was involved with ClimateGate:
For a thorough, email-by-email elaboration of exactly what the ‘big deal’ is, see here:
Climategate publicly began on November 19, 2009, when a whistle-blower leaked thousands of emails and documents central to a Freedom of Information request placed with the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. This institution had played a central role in the “climate change” debate: its scientists, together with their international colleagues, quite literally put the “warming” into Global Warming: they were responsible for analyzing and collating the various measurements of temperature from around the globe and going back into the depths of time, that collectively underpinned the entire scientific argument that mankind’s liberation of “greenhouse” gases—such as carbon dioxide—was leading to a relentless, unprecedented, and ultimately catastrophic warming of the entire planet.
The key phrase here, from a scientific point of view, is that it is “unprecedented” warming.
• The Proof Behind the CRU ClimateGate Debacle: Because Computers Do Lie When Humans Tell Them Too: “As you can see, (potentially) valid temperature station readings were taken and skewed to fabricate the results the “scientists” at the CRU wanted to believe, not what actually occurred.”
• Unearthed Files Include “Rules” for Mass Mind Control Campaign: “The intruded central computer was not only filled to the brim with obvious and attempted ostracizing of scientists who don’t blindly follow the leader, the files also reveal that the folks of the IPCC made use or considered making use of a disinformation campaign through a ‘communication agency’ called Futerra.
The agency describes itself as ‘the sustainability communications agency’ and serves such global players as Shell, Microsoft, BBC, the UN Environment Programme, the UK government and the list goes on. The co-founder of Futerra, Ed Gillespie explains: ‘For brands to succeed in this new world order, they will have to become eco, ethical and wellness champions.’
The document included within the climategate treasure-chest is called ‘Rules of the Game’ and shows deliberate deception on the part of this agency to ensure that the debate would indeed be perceived as being settled. When facts do not convince, they reasoned, let us appeal to emotions in order to get the job done.”
• Climategate goes SERIAL: now the Russians confirm that UK climate scientists manipulated data to exaggerate global warming: “Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.
The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.”
• ClimateGate Expanding, Including Russian Data and Another Research Center: “Well now some Russian climate officials have come forward stating that the data they handed over to the Hadley Centre in England has been cherry-picked, leaving out as much as 40% of the cooler temperature readings and choosing the hottest readings to make it appear things were warmer than they actually are (regardless of whether the temperature is human-induced or natural).”
Scientists using selective temperature data, sceptics say:
Two American researchers allege that U.S. government scientists have skewed global temperature trends by ignoring readings from thousands of local weather stations around the world, particularly those in colder altitudes and more northerly latitudes, such as Canada.
In the 1970s, nearly 600 Canadian weather stations fed surface temperature readings into a global database assembled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Today, NOAA only collects data from 35 stations across Canada.
Worse, only one station — at Eureka on Ellesmere Island — is now used by NOAA as a temperature gauge for all Canadian territory above the Arctic Circle.
The Canadian government, meanwhile, operates 1,400 surface weather stations across the country, and more than 100 above the Arctic Circle, according to Environment Canada. – Canada.com
The ClimateGate emails were highly damning, and have led to Phil Jones’ (one of the researchers at the centre of the scandal) resignation and an investigation into Michael Mann’s ’scholarship’. Furthermore, the UN is also ‘investigating’ the ’scholarship’ underlying the scandal, but if something as incontrovertible as the Goldstone Report can get whitewashed, I have little hope for a meaningful or just analysis in a scandal of this magnitude. In theory, science is self-correcting; but in practice it’s “defend your thesis at all costs”.
Nevertheless, each of our original four suppositions are demonstrably ambiguous – if not outright invalid. Therefore, science – and empiricism – invalidates AGW.
Humanity has irrevocably altered – blighted? – the Earth, but C02 levels are far less relevant than other forms of industrial pollution: mercury-seeping lightbulbs, dioxin pollution, gene drift, cell phone-induced genetic damage, and all manner of other harmful and silly endeavours pose greater unambiguous threats to humanity than C02. Therefore, if you really want to help clean up the Earth, leave the AGW rhetoric in the dustbin and let’s get on with disempowering the hegemons.
- NCSE: When Is purported Science not Science? (wattsupwiththat.com)
January 28, 2010
GENEVA (AFP) – UN human rights experts warned in a report on Wednesday that “widespread and systematic” secret detention of terror suspects was continuing and could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity.
The report listed 66 countries that have allegedly been involved in secret detentions — from Ethiopia to Romania, from Kosovo to Pakistan — and called on governments to investigate and prosecute those who ordered such detentions.
In their first in-depth global study on secret detentions, the UN experts said that virtually no judicial steps had been attempted against the practice despite the “widespread” manner in which suspects were held in a legal limbo.
“Secret detention continues to be used in the name of countering terrorism around the world” in spite of international human rights norms, said the study, which is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
“If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity,” the authors cautioned.
The “global war on terror,” which was launched by President George W. Bush’s administration after the September 11 attacks, had “reinvigorated” the use of secret detentions in an organised manner, they said.
The campaign saw the creation of “a comprehensive and coordinated system of secret detention of persons suspected of terrorism, involving not only US authorities, but also other states in almost all regions of the world.”
The study was compiled by two independent UN experts on counter-terrorism and torture, as well as UN panels overseeing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.
Campaign group Amnesty International said in a statement that governments must be held to account.
“States must act swiftly to implement the recommendations in this important study, to confront and end secret detention and the human rights violations it entails and enables,” said Widney Brown, Amnesty’s director of international law, citing torture and unlawful executions.
The UN study welcomed commitments by US President Barack Obama to dismantle and investigate secret detentions.
But the experts also called for clarification of outstanding issues such as short term CIA holding facilities and those operated by the military Joint Special Operation Command.
Human rights campaigners say other countries took advantage of secret detentions to crack down on their own political opponents or restive ethnic groups.
Extraordinary rendition involved abducting suspects without legal proceedings, and flying them to foreign countries or secret CIA prisons.
Drawing on its own interviews with former detainees, witnesses, officials and its own analysis of flight records, as well as published material, the UN study named dozens of secret detainees — including some alleged to have died in custody.
Thailand denied that it had hosted a secret detention facility for the United States in a response to the experts, but the study maintained that it was “credible that a CIA black site” existed there.
The study also welcomed a Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry into similar allegations, which had concluded that there was no evidence to back them up.
However, it stressed that the findings “in no way constitute the final word on Lithuania’s role in the programme.”
The UN study also cited evidence of secret US-run facilities in Romania, Poland, and Kosovo as well as several in Afghanistan and Iraq, including “Dark Prison” and “Salt Pit.”
Accounts by detainees added weight to claims that Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Djibouti were proxy centres where “detainees have been held on the CIA’s behalf,” the report added.
A war of words and concepts!
By Khalil Nakhleh • Jan 28th, 2010
Numerous books and articles have been written, guided by the main thesis that the reason for the prolonged and intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine, and which is constantly at an impasse, is that there are two “contested” histories (of Jews and Arabs in Palestine!), and two “contested” narratives. And one is directed to read and internalize that “contested”, in this sense, means that both narratives are equally valid and with equal legitimacy, and that all alternative reading and interpretation of it, and all attempts to question it are “subjective”, “very personal”, “emotive”, “irrational”, “not credible”, “unreliable”, and “removed from history” … This is, in my view, a total and utter nonsense.
Such an approach ignores actual historical developments and ignores origins of real versus mythical historical developments, and de-legitimizes the continued Palestinian presence in the land of historical Palestine.
Before the onslaught of the Zionist colonial attack on Palestine in the 19th century, there were no claims recorded that the history of Palestine was a “contested history”. The local history was clear and in sharp relief. The indigenous population in Palestine was largely Palestinian Arabs (Muslims and Christians), in addition to a small minority of Palestinian Jews. The majority and minority co-existed and interacted with each other, as they always do in other normal open spaces, through commerce, rituals and friendships, etc. This was in the entire region under Ottoman rule. All perceived themselves to be an integral part of that Palestinian history and geography. They lived under the general cultural umbrella prevailing in that space, while respecting each other’s specificity. The contestation was not different from the contestations among any group of people, with different or competing class interests, expressed through different values, traditions, languages, etc, co-habiting the same physical space.
The emergence of “contested histories” coincided with the imposition of a new foreign (and mythical) narrative, with European origins, that justified the control over the indigenous Palestinian Arab population, and their dispossession and alienation from their land, culture, language, and other sources, leading to depriving them of their humanity. This imposed colonial narrative eventually led to their physical decimation, their ruthless ethnic cleansing, and fragmentation of their social structure, history and culture.
Here, indeed, the new mythical claims by the Ashkenazi Zionist invaders were “contested” and challenged by the indigenous Palestinian Arab population and society. The subject of contestation was clearly and repeatedly the Zionist evil committed against the indigenous Palestinian Arab population. Prior to that, there is no evidence that co-existence of Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews in the land of Palestine was ever “contested”.
Those who try to explain the prolonged Israel/Palestine conflict in terms of two “valid” but “contested” histories, are simply trying to provide an untenable justification for the imposition of the Ashkenazi Zionist settler colonial system and structure. This is always contested by the Palestinian Arabs who have been, and continue to be until this day, victimized by this colonial structure and ideology, and by those Jews and others who came to realize and experience the colossal evil embedded in this colonial and racist ideology. This system does not carry any legitimacy, except that of brute power and ruthless mechanisms of suppression.
The legitimate history of Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews co-habiting the land of Palestine prior to the onslaught of Ashkenazi Zionist European colonialism on Palestine is never “contested”, except by those who usurped indigenous Palestinian basic human rights. The rest is sheer nonsense!
Khalil Nakhleh, Ph.D.
Independent Researcher and Writer
Pakistan Daily News | January 28, 2010
PESHAWAR: Following the crash of two US drones in North Waziristan in just one week, the tribesmen were surprised on Wednesday when they could not see any spy aircraft during the past two days.
“We have not seen any US drone during the past two days, which is a surprising news for us,” remarked Haji Syed Halim, a tribesman of Danday Darpakhel village, five kms west of Miramshah, the main town of militancy-stricken North Waziristan.
He said even the children were asking their elders about lack of thundering sound of the drone, which is called “bangana” locally. The tribesman said it was for the first time in the past several months that no US drone was seen flying over the tribal region.
He said continuous flights of drones over villages in the tribal region had left immense negative psychological impacts on the local population, particularly women and children. In Mirali subdivision — the second biggest town of North Waziristan which had been targetted quite frequently by the CIA operated spy planes in the past few months — villagers said the drones were no more seen in the skies.
By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ
New York Times
January 27, 2010
MOSCOW — NATO and Kazakhstan completed an agreement Wednesday that will permit NATO allies to ship cargo through Kazakh territory to Afghanistan, providing an important alternative to vulnerable routes elsewhere.
Kazakhstan was the final holdout in the so-called northern supply line, which will allow cargo to pass overland from Europe to NATO troops in Afghanistan. Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have signed similar agreements.
“This allows supplies for our forces to start moving from Europe to Afghanistan, beginning in the coming days, complementing the very important transit route through Pakistan,” NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said in a statement in Brussels.
The American-led NATO coalition has been seeking to reduce its reliance on supply routes through the Khyber Pass in Pakistan, where attacks by the Taliban have been frequent.
The accord with Kazakhstan will allow NATO forces to ship only nonlethal cargo by rail through the country’s territory. The cargo will then pass through Uzbekistan into Afghanistan, where the coalition is fighting a growing Taliban insurgency.
The agreement comes as NATO allies prepare to meet Thursday with representatives from Afghanistan and its neighbors in London. The conference, hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, will seek to map out strategies for continued international involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
NATO and the United States have been pushing Central Asian countries near Afghanistan to become more involved in the war effort. Last year, the Obama administration persuaded Kazakhstan’s neighbor, Kyrgyzstan, to reverse a decision to close a United States military base that is an important transit hub and refueling stop for troops en route to Afghanistan.
The alliance has also been working with Russia to open up more supply routes. The United States signed an agreement with Russia last summer to allow flights of troops and weapons through Russian airspace to Afghanistan, though bureaucratic wrangling has so far prevented all but a few shipments.
Russian and NATO military officials met on Tuesday in Brussels to further discuss Russian involvement in Afghanistan, among other issues. It was the first formal meeting between military officials from both sides since diplomatic relations broke down after Russia’s war with Georgia in August 2008.
In Washington, the White House welcomed the agreement, calling it “another signal of the commitment of the government of Kazakhstan to support” the international effort in Afghanistan.
The separate American agreement with Russia permitting overflights of soldiers and weapons has had a slow start but is beginning to ramp up, American officials said.
Six months after President Obama and President Dimitri A. Medvedev sealed the agreement, an administration official said 12 flights have passed through Russian airspace and eight are planned in coming days. The Russians have cleared all flights except one, a chartered commercial carrier with hazardous material on board, the official said.
By Spencer Ackerman - 1/22/10
So the Obama administration’s Guantanamo task force has decided that about 50 people ought to be held indefinitely without charge. What’s the remedy for that? Basically, there’s habeas corpus, the procedure by which a detainee requests that a court determine the validity of the government’s claim to hold him (in this case) because of his status as a belligerent in the conflict with al-Qaeda. Notice that’s not the same thing as asking a court to decide whether the government in the first place has the power to detain someone indefinitely without charge. According to lawyers for Guantanamo detainees and prominent civil liberties advocates, any lawyer who asks a court to decide that broader question will immediately be told, “Your client has the right to a habeas hearing. File a habeas petition and then come talk.” So here’s what the procedure is for the 50 or so detainees in this indefinite-detention-without-charge category.
First a detainee has to win a habeas case. (Check their track record here.) Easy, right? If the government decides not to contest the decision, then the detainee — who, recall, the Obama administration is saying is too dangerous to responsibly release — walks. (More on that in a second.) We haven’t been faced with this situation yet. But if the administration appeals, then the detainee has to win. And on up to the Supreme Court, if the government really wants to contest the issue. Joseph Margulies, a professor of law at Northwestern University who’s focused extensively on Guantanamo, estimates that this process could take at least 18 months to exhaust itself at the earliest. Possibly years. (And even then, it wouldn’t be certain that the Supreme Court would use a habeas appeal as an opportunity to decide the first-order question: whether the Obama administration has the constitutional power to hold a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban in indefinite detention without charge.)
The real inflection point will come “when the government loses” a habeas case, said Margulies. “Are they going to let [a detainee] go?” If the administration concedes the loss, then there’s no crisis. But if it decides it can’t let someone go, and runs out of appeals, then the administration’s most likely option is to get a preventive detention bill from Congress, a civil liberties Rubicon. The Obama administration briefly considered that option this summer and balked. But if the administration loses a habeas case; seeks to detain someone indefinitely even so; and doesn’t have explicit preventive detention powers from Congress, then it most likely is just simply breaking the law.
“I heard about this listening to an NPR story this morning,” said Sabin Willett, a lawyer for the Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay, describing his big-picture reaction to the Guantanamo task force’s conclusions. “The intro to that story described them as ‘the terror suspects at Guantanamo.’” Willett pointed out that his clients have been cleared by Defense Department tribunals and exonerated by the courts. They are not terrorists, and no one believes they’re terrorists. “This proves the power of the press — those two words ‘terror suspects.’ How do I fight that?”
From there, Willett continued, it’s natural to start wondering if those “terror suspects” really are too dangerous to release. “I keep saying, give me a name. Who’s too dangerous? Give me a reason. Then start asking what other regimes had people they considered ‘too dangerous to release.’ You’re going to find yourself on a list of countries you’re not too proud to be on.”
By Glenn Greenwald | January 27, 2010
The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest today reports that “U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people.” That’s no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.
But buried in Priest’s article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret “hit list” of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .
The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.
Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced — falsely, as it turns out — that he was killed in one of those strikes.
Just think about this for a minute. Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.” They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations. Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists — produced intense controversy for years. That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution. Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?
Obviously, if U.S. forces are fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including American citizens. That’s just the essence of war. That’s why it’s permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war zone but not, say, torture them once they’re captured and helplessly detained. But combat is not what we’re talking about here. The people on this “hit list” are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a whole array of other activities. More critically still, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — defines the “battlefield” as the entire world. So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks. That’s quite a power for an American President to claim for himself.
As we well know from the last eight years, the authoritarians among us in both parties will, by definition, reflexively justify this conduct by insisting that the assassination targets are Terrorists and therefore deserve death. What they actually mean, however, is that the U.S. Government has accused them of being Terrorists, which (except in the mind of an authoritarian) is not the same thing as being a Terrorist. Numerous Guantanamo detainees accused by the U.S. Government of being Terrorists have turned out to be completely innocent, and the vast majority of federal judges who provided habeas review to detainees have found an almost complete lack of evidence to justify the accusations against them, and thus ordered them released. That includes scores of detainees held while the U.S. Government insisted that only the “Worst of the Worst” remained at the camp.
No evidence should be required for rational people to avoid assuming that Government accusations are inherently true, but for those do need it, there is a mountain of evidence proving that. And in this case, Anwar Aulaqi — who, despite his name and religion, is every bit as much of an American citizen as Scott Brown and his daughters are — has a family who vigorously denies that he is a Terrorist and is “pleading” with the U.S. Government not to murder their American son:
His anguish apparent, the father of Anwar al-Awlaki told CNN that his son is not a member of al Qaeda and is not hiding out with terrorists in southern Yemen.
“I am now afraid of what they will do with my son, he’s not Osama Bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he’s not,” said Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. . . .
“I will do my best to convince my son to do this (surrender), to come back but they are not giving me time, they want to kill my son. How can the American government kill one of their own citizens? This is a legal issue that needs to be answered,” he said.
“If they give me time I can have some contact with my son but the problem is they are not giving me time,” he said.
Who knows what the truth is here? That’s why we have what are called ”trials” — or at least some process — before we assume that government accusations are true and then mete out punishment accordingly. As Marcy Wheeler notes, the U.S. Government has not only repeatedly made false accusations of Terrorism against foreign nationals in the past, but against U.S. citizens as well. She observes: ”I guess the tenuousness of those ties don’t really matter, when the President can dial up the assassination of an American citizen.”
A 1981 Executive Order signed by Ronald Reagan provides: ”No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” Before the Geneva Conventions were first enacted, Abraham Lincoln — in the middle of the Civil War — directed Francis Lieber to articulate rules of conduct for war, and those were then incorporated into General Order 100, signed by Lincoln in April, 1863. Here is part of what it provided, in Section IX, entitled “Assassinations”:
The law of war does not allow proclaiming either an individual belonging to the hostile army, or a citizen, or a subject of the hostile government, an outlaw, who may be slain without trial by any captor, any more than the modern law of peace allows such intentional outlawry; on the contrary, it abhors such outrage. The sternest retaliation should follow the murder committed in consequence of such proclamation, made by whatever authority. Civilized nations look with horror upon offers of rewards for the assassination of enemies as relapses into barbarism.
Can anyone remotely reconcile that righteous proclamation with what the Obama administration is doing? And more generally, what legal basis exists for the President to unilaterally compile hit lists of American citizens he wants to be killed?
What’s most striking of all is that it was recently revealed that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. had compiled a “hit list” of Afghan citizens it suspects of being drug traffickers or somehow associated with the Taliban, in order to target them for assassination. When that hit list was revealed, Afghan officials “fiercely” objected on the ground that it violates due process and undermines the rule of law to murder people without trials:
Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts, praised U.S. and British special forces for their help recently in destroying drug labs and stashes of opium. But he said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial.
“They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes,” Daud said. “We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own” . . . .
Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister, said that he had long urged the Pentagon and its NATO allies to crack down on drug smugglers and suppliers, and that he was glad that the military alliance had finally agreed to provide operational support for Afghan counternarcotics agents. But he said foreign troops needed to avoid the temptation to hunt down and kill traffickers on their own.
“There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty,” he said. “If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?” . . .
So we’re in Afghanistan to teach them about democracy, the rule of law, and basic precepts of Western justice. Meanwhile, Afghan officials vehemently object to the lawless, due-process-free assassination “hit list” of their citizens based on the unchecked say-so of the U.S. Government, and have to lecture us on the rule of law and Constitutional constraints. By stark contrast, our own Government, our media and our citizenry appear to find nothing wrong whatsoever with lawless assassinations aimed at our own citizens. And the most glaring question for those who critized Bush/Cheney detention policies but want to defend this: how could anyone possibly object to imprisoning foreign nationals without charges or due process at Guantanamo while approving of the assassination of U.S. citizens without any charges or due process?
Press release, Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, 28 January 2010
The following edited press release was issued today by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:
Mohammed Khatib (Tadamon!)
BILIN, occupied West Bank – At 1:45am today, Mohammed Khatib, his wife Lamia and their four young children were woken up by Israeli soldiers storming their home, which was surrounded by a large military force. Once inside the house, the soldiers arrested Khatib, conducted a quick search and left the house.
Roughly half an hour after leaving the house, five military jeeps surrounded the house again, and six soldiers forced their way into the house, where Khatib’s children sat in terror. The forces conducted another very thorough search of the premises, without showing a search warrant. During the search, Khatib’s phone and many documents were seized, including papers from Bilin’s legal procedures in the Israel high court.
The soldiers exited an hour and a half later, leaving a note saying that documents suspected as “incitement materials” were seized. International activists who tried to enter the house to be with the family during the search were aggressively denied entry.
Mohammed Khatib was previously arrested during the ongoing wave of arrests and repression on 3 August 2009 with charges of incitement and stone throwing. After two weeks of detention, a military judge ruled that evidence against him was falsified and ordered his release, after it was proven that Khatib was abroad at the time the army alleged he was photographed throwing stones during a demonstration.
Khatib’s arrest today is the most severe escalation in a recent wave of repression again the Palestinian popular struggle and its leadership. Khatib is the 35th resident of Bilin to be arrested on suspicions related to anti-wall protest since 23 June 2009.
The recent wave of arrests is largely an assault on the members of the Popular Committees — the leadership of the popular struggle — who are then charged with incitement when arrested. The charge of incitement, defined under Israeli military law as “an attempt, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order,” is a cynical attempt to punish grassroots organizing with a hefty charge and lengthy imprisonment. Such indictments are part of the army’s strategy of using legal persecution as a means to quash the popular movement.
Similar raids have also been conducted in the village of al-Maasara, south of Bethlehem, and in the village of Nilin — where 110 residents have been arrested over the last year and half — as well as in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah and East Jerusalem.
Among those arrested in the recent campaign are three members of the Nilin Popular Committee, Said Yakin of the Palestinian National Committee Against the Wall, and five members of the Bilin Popular Committee — all suspected of incitement.
Prominent grassroots activists Jamal Juma’ (East Jerusalem) and Mohammed Othman (Jayyous) of the Stop the Wall nongovernmental organization, involved in anti-wall and boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigning, have recently been released from detention after being incarcerated for long periods based on secret evidence and with no charges brought against them.
By Curtis Morgan | The Miami Herald | January 27, 2010
A diver surveys dead coral at an Upper Keys reef. ‘Ecosystem-wide mortality,’ says Meaghan Johnson of The Nature Conservancy. Bitter cold this month may have wiped out many of the shallow water corals in the Keys. Scientists have only begun assessments, with dive teams looking for “bleaching” that is a telltale indicator of temperature stress in sensitive corals, but initial reports are bleak. The impact could extend from Key Largo through the Dry Tortugas west of Key West, a vast expanse that covers some of the prettiest and healthiest reefs in North America.
Given the depth and duration of frigid weather, Meaghan Johnson, marine science coordinator for The Nature Conservancy, expected to see losses. But she was stunned by what she saw when diving a patch reef 2 ½ miles off Harry Harris Park in Key Largo.
Star and brain corals, large species that can take hundreds of years to grow, were as white and lifeless as bones, frozen to death. There were also dead sea turtles, eels and parrotfish littering the bottom.
“Corals didn’t even have a chance to bleach. They just went straight to dead,” said Johnson, who joined teams of divers last week surveying reefs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. “It’s really ecosystem-wide mortality.”
The record chill that gripped South Florida for two weeks has taken a heavy toll on wildlife — particularly marine life.
On Tuesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that record numbers of endangered manatees had already succumbed to the cold this year — 77, according to a preliminary review. The previous record, 56, was set last year. Massive fish kills also have been reported across the state. Carcasses of snook and tarpon are still floating up from a large fish kill across Florida Bay and the shallow waters of Everglades National Park.
Many of the Florida Keys’ signature diving destinations such as Carysfort, Molasses and Sombrero reefs — as well as deeper reefs off Miami-Dade and Broward — are believed to have escaped heavy losses, thanks to warming effects of the Gulf Stream. But shallower reefs took a serious, perhaps unprecedented hit, said Billy Causey, Southeast regional director of national marine sanctuaries for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Coral-bleaching has struck the Keys in the past, most recently twice in the 1990s, preceding a die-off that claimed 30 percent of the reef tract. But those events, along with others that have hit reefs around the world, have usually been triggered by water hotter than what corals typically tolerate.
Healthy corals depend on a symbiotic relationship between polyps, the living tissues that slowly build the hard outer skeletons that give species distinctive shapes, and algae called zooxanthellae that give them their vibrant colors. But when ocean temperatures veer from their comfort zone too much or too long, the coral begin to shed that algae, turning dull or a bleached bone-white.
The effect usually doesn’t immediately kill coral but can weaken it, slowing growth and leaving fragile reefs — home to millions of fish, crabs and other animals — more vulnerable to diseases, pollution and damage from boaters and divers.
Cold-water bleaching is unusual, last occurring in 1977, the year it snowed in Miami. It killed hundreds of acres of staghorn and elkhorn corals across the Keys. Neither species has recovered, both becoming the first corals to be federally listed as threatened in 2006.
This big chill, said Causey, shapes up worse.
“They were exposed to temperatures much colder, that went on longer, than what they were exposed to three decades ago,” he said.
Typical winter lows in-shore hover in the mid- to high-60s in the Keys.
At its coldest more than a week ago, a Key Largo reef monitor recorded 52. At Munson Reef, just about a half-mile off the Newfound Harbor Keys near Big Pine Key, it hit 56.
At Munson Reef, said Cory Walter, a biologist for Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key, scientists saw losses similar to what was reported off Key Largo. Dead eels, dead hogfish, dead coral — including big coral head five- to six-feet wide, bleached white with only fringes of decaying tissue.
“They were as big, as tall, as me. They were pretty much dead,” said Walter, who coordinates Mote’s BleachWatch program, which monitors reefs.
The dividing line for damage seems to be Hawk Channel, which parallels the Keys on the Atlantic Ocean side.
East of the channel, at reefs such as Looe Key, one of the top tourist sites, there was only light paling on some coral, she said. In Hawk Channel itself, there were dead sponges and stressed corals but not many outright dead ones.
West of the channel toward shore, damage was more serious. Walter estimated 75 percent coral loss at one patch reef, though with poor visibility, it was a limited survey. Some nurseries growing small staghorn and elkhorn corals for restoration programs also may have been hard hit.
Over the next few weeks, scientists and divers from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, National Park Service, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University and other organizations will try to get a more completepicture of damage with reef surveys as far northas Martin County and as far south as the Dry Tortugas.
While they may not be able to save cold-damaged corals, Causey said, chronicling what dies and, more importantly, what survives, will help coral researchers in the future.
“We’re going to know so much more about this event than any other event in history,” he said.
© 2010 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. Contact reporter at cmorgan@MiamiHerald.com