By Philip Weiss | February 6, 2010 | Excerpt
Last night the New York Times printed an AP story about the United Nations’ followup to the Goldstone report, titled “UN Chief Praises Israel Probe of Its Gaza Actions.”
It turns out the Secretary-General never said that. Israel said it.
In today’s briefing at the UN, the UN made the point that Ban Ki-moon said no such thing. It explained that the 72-page report was mostly Israel’s report. It included just three pages from the Sec’y Gen’l.
The Spokesperson noted that in the document submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the Goldstone report, only the first three pages are written by the Secretary-General and the Secretariat.
The remainder of the document consists of annexes containing information provided, respectively, by the Government of Israel, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.
Confused? Here is the 72-page UN report released yesterday. The Secy Gen’l’s judgment at the start is noncommital:
It is my sincere hope that General Assembly resolution 64/10 has served to encourage investigations by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards. I note from the materials received that the processes initiated by the Government of Israel and the Government of Switzerland are ongoing… As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned.
The long Israeli response follows (and is not clearly identified). In paragraph 185, Israel pats itself on the back:
Because Israel followed up on every allegation, regardless of whether the source was neutral, hostile, or friendly, it launched investigations into 150 separate incidents, including 36 criminal investigations opened thus far.
AP seems to have revised its coverage. But as Mark Twain said, a lie goes around the world in the time it takes the truth to tie its shoes.
This discovery was published at reddit, which says that the mistake demonstrates pro-Israel bias in the press.
Al-Manar 06/02/2010 China has expressed concern over a move by a war crimes court to reconsider adding genocide charges to an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir, saying it could hurt the peace process.
Foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the situation in Sudan was at a “complex, sensitive and critical” stage and such a move by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could “disturb or even damage the cooperative atmosphere.”
“Concerned sides” are trying to push forward the Doha peace talks between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups, he said in a statement released Friday, according to Xinhua news agency.
Ma stressed that China had expressed “deep concern” since the start of proceedings against Beshir in 2008, together with “some African and Arabic developing countries, as well as regional organizations such as the African Union and the League of Arab States,” Xinhua reported.
The African Union said Friday the ICC’s move harmed the peace process in Sudan.
An ICC appeals chamber on Wednesday ordered a review of Beshir’s arrest warrant for alleged atrocities in the war-torn western Sudanese province of Darfur. It directed judges to reconsider their decision to omit genocide from the warrant issued in March last year, saying they had made “an error in law.”
The ICC issued the arrest warrant for Beshir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes committed in Darfur.
Chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo first called for an arrest warrant to be issued against Beshir in July 2008.
Press TV – February 6, 2010
Iran is in the final stage of talks with five companies to finalize deals for the development of oil and gas fields worth $30 billion, an official says.
Seifollah Jashnsaz, Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), predicted that the deals will be finalized within two months.
Speaking to Mehr news agency, he added that five Asian and European firms are expected to invest in the Lavan gas field, Phases 13 and 14 of the South Pars gas field, the Azadegan oilfield, the Kish gas field, and two exploratory blocks in the Caspian Sea. Jashnsaz did not give further details.
Iran’s fifth five-year development plan (2010-2015) has obliged the government to invest around $155 billion in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
Jashnsaz said Iran’s total revenues from oil exports stood at $78 billion during the Iranian calendar year to March 2009.
The NIOC chief also added that the government allowed the Oil Ministry to invest $11 billion from its oil sales in oil industry development.
Jashnsaz stressed that Iran needs to attract more foreign investment to keep the oil industry live. “If we do not make the necessary investment, the harm of the lack of timely investment in the oil industry will be irreversible to the country,” he pointed out.
“We must go after foreign investment, the possibility of which also exists,” he said.
The International | February 06, 2010
PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban have said that they have made preparations for a long battle in the southwestern Helmand province.
“Taliban are not afraid of the planned major offensive by foreign forces in Helmand. We are happy that foreigners would come out of their bases and our fighters would attack them,” Mulla Sharfuddin, Taliban commander in Helmand, told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) by phone from an undisclosed location.
“Taliban are well aware of the enemies’ plan and they have already made preparations,” he claimed. Asked what kind of weapons the Taliban would use in the expected fighting, the Taliban commander said: “We have made all arrangements and divided the area under different commanders.
“We would use mines, heavy weapons and different military tactics in the fighting.” He said the people of Helmand were standing by the Taliban and foreign forces would not be able to force the Taliban out of the province.
He termed the foreign forces’ announcement of launching a major offensive in Helmand as a propaganda tactic and reminded that the foreigners had also mounted major attacks in the past but failed.
He maintained that the Taliban were very strong in the area and would defeat their enemy again. Asked whether Arab, Uzbek and other foreign fighters were present in the ranks of the Taliban, the commander insisted that all the fighters were Afghans.
He urged the Afghan police and soldiers to stop fighting against the Taliban. “I urge the Afghan National Army and the police not to fight against the Taliban. They should take part in Jihad along with the Taliban against the infidels. The foreigners have invaded Afghanistan and it is their duty to wage Jihad.”
About involvement in drug trade, Sharfuddin said the Taliban were not involved in poppy cultivation and drug trafficking. “The Taliban had banned drug cultivation during their rule,” he claimed. The commander said that most of the areas of Helmand, including Baghran, Baghni, Washer, Deshu, Brahmcha and Marja, were in the control of Taliban.
The Belfast Telegraph | February 6, 2010
Members of a hit squad that assassinated a top Hamas military commander used Irish passports to enter and leave Dubai, it’s been claimed.
The suspected Israeli hit team, including at least one woman, entered the United Arab Emirates using Irish documents, police authorities said.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (50), held responsible by Israel for the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989, died in mysterious circumstances on January 20 in a Dubai hotel room.
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday: “We are aware of the media reports and we are in contact with authorities locally to try and determine the truth of the reports.”
Al-Mabhouh was said to have been shocked with an electric weapon held to his legs and then suffocated or poisoned.
Iran and Hamas have blamed Israel for the killing, but Israeli news media claimed al-Mabhouh had many enemies and could have been killed by other Arab factions.
Up to seven people were said to have been involved in al-Mabhouh’s killing, four of whom used Irish passports to enter Dubai and who later fled to a “European country” after the killing, according to police sources in Dubai.
Declining to reveal their identities, an official said UAE security personnel were co-ordinating with Interpol to have them extradited.
Al-Mabhouh had been out for most of the day and returned to his room only after 9pm, police said.
Pathologists were said to have determined the cause of death as asphyxiation, probably with a pillow found near the body and stained with blood. A room cleaner found his body the next day.
He had travelled to Dubai under another name.
The victim was said to have been in charge of weapons procurement for Hamas and was on a mission in Dubai.
His brother said it was not the first attempt on his life. Six months ago, he was rushed to hospital in Dubai in a coma and treated for poisoning.
Mr Mabhouh’s funeral was held in Damascus, where he had lived for 20 years with his wife and children.
In 1986, US officials, including Oliver North, reportedly used Irish passports to travel to Iran to offer missiles for hostages.
Press TV – February 6, 2010
anti-armor missile Toofan-5
Iran has launched production lines for two new missiles as a part of its plans to boost defensive capabilities against any possible attack.
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Saturday inaugurated the production line for an anti-armor missile Toofan-5 and an anti-helicopter missile Qaem.
“By the mass production and delivery of these modern weapons to the armed forces, the country’s defense capabilities will increase both in ground and aerial war,” the minister said.
The Toofan-5, which is among the most advanced of anti-armor missiles, is equipped with two warheads and can destroy armored vehicles, tanks and personnel carriers, Vahidi said.
The Qaem missile is also of a class of semi-heavy guided missiles and can destroy low-altitude aerial targets that fly at low speed. Being laser guided, the Qaem missile is also resistant to electronic warfare, Vahidi pointed out.
Press TV – February 6, 2010
Iran has offered to work with Germany to draw up an “all-encompassing nuclear disarmament treaty” with a clear deadline for total annihilation of atomic weapons.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki first introduced the offer in a Friday meeting with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
“Other than our two countries, other states can take part in this initiative,” said Mottaki, recollecting how various countries had come together to seal the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Mottaki made the remarks just days after the ‘Global Zero’ summit in Paris, which brought together some 200 politicians, generals, businessmen, clerics, academics and arms experts in the hope of finding a way to total nuclear disarmament.
Both US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev sent messages of support to the international assembly.
In his message, Obama reaffirmed his campaign promise that “a world without nuclear weapons . . . is one of my highest priorities.”
Obama and Medvedev are finalizing a major new treaty to dismantle 2,000 of the 5,000 strategic (long-range) warheads they have in their stockpiles.
However, Obama and Medvedev together control 95 per cent of the world’s 23,000 nukes.
By Declan McCullagh | February 5, 2010
WASHINGTON – CNET – The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.
FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users’ “origin and destination information,” a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday.
As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do.
The FBI is not alone in renewing its push for data retention. As CNET reported earlier this week, a survey of state computer crime investigators found them to be nearly unanimous in supporting the idea. Matt Dunn, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the Department of Homeland Security, also expressed support for the idea during the task force meeting.
Greg Motta, the chief of the FBI’s digital evidence section, said that the bureau was trying to preserve its existing ability to conduct criminal investigations. Federal regulations in place since at least 1986 require phone companies that offer toll service to “retain for a period of 18 months” records including “the name, address, and telephone number of the caller, telephone number called, date, time and length of the call.”
At Thursday’s meeting (PDF) of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, which was created by Congress and organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Motta stressed that the bureau was not asking that content data, such as the text of e-mail messages, be retained.
“The question at least for the bureau has been about non-content transactional data to be preserved: transmission records, non-content records…addressing, routing, signaling of the communication,” Motta said. Director Mueller recognizes, he added “there’s going to be a balance of what industry can bear…He recommends origin and destination information for non-content data.”
Motta pointed to a 2006 resolution from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which called for the “retention of customer subscriber information, and source and destination information for a minimum specified reasonable period of time so that it will be available to the law enforcement community.”
Recording what Web sites are visited, though, is likely to draw both practical and privacy objections.
“We’re not set up to keep URL information anywhere in the network,” said Drew Arena, Verizon’s vice president and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance.
And, Arena added, “if you were do to deep packet inspection to see all the URLs, you would arguably violate the Wiretap Act.”
Another industry representative with knowledge of how Internet service providers work was unaware of any company keeping logs of what Web sites its customers visit.
If logs of Web sites visited began to be kept, they would be available only to local, state, and federal police with legal authorization such as a subpoena or search warrant.
What remains unclear are the details of what the FBI is proposing. The possibilities include requiring an Internet provider to log the Internet protocol (IP) address of a Web site visited, or the domain name such as cnet.com, a host name such as news.cnet.com, or the actual URL such as http://reviews.cnet.com/Music/2001-6450_7-0.html.
While the first three categories could be logged without doing deep packet inspection, the fourth category would require it. That could run up against opposition in Congress, which lambasted the concept in a series of hearings in 2008, causing the demise of a company, NebuAd, which pioneered it inside the United States.
The technical challenges also may be formidable. John Seiver, an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine who represents cable providers, said one of his clients had experience with a law enforcement request that required the logging of outbound URLs.
“Eighteen million hits an hour would have to have been logged,” a staggering amount of data to sort through, Seiver said. The purpose of the FBI’s request was to identify visitors to two URLs, “to try to find out…who’s going to them.”
A Justice Department representative said the department does not have an official position on data retention.
Disclosure: The author of this story participated in the meeting of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, though after the law enforcement representatives spoke.
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com | February 5, 2010
If I had the power to have one statement of fact be universally recognized in our political discussions, it would be this one:
The fact that the Government labels Person X a “Terrorist” is not proof that Person X is, in fact, a Terrorist.
That proposition should be intrinsically understood by any American who completed sixth grade civics and was thus taught that a central prong of our political system is that government officials often abuse their power and/or err and therefore must prove accusations to be true (with tested evidence) before they’re assumed to be true and the person punished accordingly. In particular, the fact that the U.S. Government, over and over, has falsely accused numerous people of being Terrorists — only for it to turn out that they did nothing wrong — by itself should compel a recognition of this truth. But it doesn’t.
All throughout the Bush years, no matter what one objected to — illegal eavesdropping, torture, rendition, indefinite detention, denial of civilian trials — the response from Bush followers was the same: “But these are Terrorists, and Terrorists have no rights, so who cares what is done to them?” What they actually meant was: ”the Government has claimed they are Terrorists,” but in their minds, that was the same thing as: “they are Terrorists.” They recognized no distinction between “a government accusation” and “unchallengeable truth”; in the authoritarian’s mind, by definition, those are synonymous. The whole point of the Bush-era controversies was that — away from an actual battlefield and where the Constitution applies (on U.S. soil and/or towards American citizens wherever they are) — the Government should have to demonstrate someone’s guilt before it’s assumed (e.g., they should have to show probable cause to a court and obtain warrants before eavesdropping; they should have to offer evidence that a person engaged in Terrorism before locking them in a cage, etc.). But to someone who equates unproven government accusations with proof, those processes are entirely unnecessary. Even in the absence of those processes, they already know that these persons are Terrorists. How do they know that? Because the Government said so. Even when it comes to their fellow citizens, that’s all the “proof” that is needed.
That authoritarian mentality is stronger than ever now. Why? Because unlike during the Bush years, when it was primarily Republicans willing to blindly trust Government accusations, many Democrats are now willing to do so as well. Just look at the reaction to the Government’s recent attempts to assassinate the U.S.-born American citizen and Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Up until last November, virtually no Americans had ever even heard of al-Awlaki. But in the past few months, beginning with the Fort Hood shootings, government officials have repeatedly claimed that he’s a Terrorist: usually anonymously, with virtually no evidence, and in the face of al-Awlaki’s vehement denials but without any opportunity for him to defend himself (because he’s in hiding out of fear of being killed by his own Government). The Government can literally just flash someone’s face on the TV screen with the word Terrorist over it (as was done with al-Awlaki), and provided the face is nefarious and Muslim-looking enough (basically the same thing), nothing else need be offered.
That’s enough for many people — including many Democrats — to march forward overnight and mindlessly proclaim that al-Awlaki is “a declared enemy of the United States working to kill Americans” (if you can stomach it, read some of these comments — from Obama defenders at a liberal blog — with several sounding exactly like Dick Cheney, screeching: ”Of course al-Awlaki should be killed without charges; he’s a Terrorist who is trying to kill Americans!!!”). Even now, beyond government assertions about his associations, the public knows virtually nothing about al-Awlaki other than the fact that he’s a Muslim cleric with a Muslim name dressed in Muslim garb, sitting in a Bad Arab Country expressing anger towards the actions of the U.S. and Israel. But no matter. That’s more than enough. They’re willing not only to mindlessly embrace the Government’s unproven accusation that their fellow citizen is a TERRORIST (“a declared enemy of the United States working to kill Americans”), but even beyond that, to cheer for his due-process-free execution like drunken fans at a football game. And the same people declare: no civilian trials are necessary for Terrorists (meaning: people accused by the Government of being Terrorists). Even more amazingly, the identities of the other Americans on the hit list aren’t even known, but that’s OK: they’re Terrorists, because the Government said so.
A very long time ago, I would be baffled when I’d read about things like the Salem witch hunts. How could so many people be collectively worked up into that level of irrational frenzy, where they cheered for people’s torturous death as “witches” without any real due process or meaningful evidence? But all one has to do is look at our current Terrorism debates and it’s easy to see how things like that happen. It’s just pure mob mentality: an authority figure appears and affixes a demonizing Other label to someone’s forehead, and the adoring crowd — frothing-at-the-mouth and feeding on each other’s hatred, fears and desire to be lead — demands “justice.” I imagine that if one could travel back in time to the Salem era in order to speak with some of those gathered outside an accused witch’s home, screaming for her to be killed, the conversation would go something like this:
Mob Participant: Hang the Witch!!! Kill her!!!
Far Left Civil Liberties Extremist-Purist (“FLCLE-P”): How do you know she’s a witch?
Mob Participant: Didn’t you just hear the government official say so?
FLCLE-P: But don’t you want to see real evidence before you assume that’s true and call for her death?
Mob Participant: You just heard the evidence! The magistrate said she’s a witch!
FLCLE-P: But shouldn’t there be a real trial first, with tangible evidence and due process protections, to see if the accusation is actually true?
Mob Participant: A “real” trial? She’s a witch! She’s trying to curse us and kill us all. She got more than what she deserved. Witches don’t have rights!!!
Return to Question 1.
That’s essentially how I hear our debates over Terrorism, and how I’ve heard them for quite some time. And it’s how I hear them more loudly now than ever before. And with those deeply confused premises now locked into place on a bipartisan basis (“no trials are needed to determine if someone is a Terrorist because Terrorists don’t have rights”), imagine how much louder that will get if there is another successful terrorist attack in the U.S. But in fairness to the 17th Century Puritans, at least the Salem witches received pretenses of due process and even trials (albeit with coerced confessions and speculative hearsay). Even when it comes to our fellow citizens, we don’t even bother with those. For us, the mere accusation by our leaders is sufficient: Kill that American Terrorist with a drone!
Press TV – February 6, 2010
Somali pirates have demanded $15 million, the largest amount of ransom so far, from UK ship Asian Glory reportedly carrying hundreds of modern cars and weapons.
The ship, headed to Saudi Arabia, was coming from Singapore when the Somali pirates hijacked it, a Press TV correspondent reported.
The UK ship was reportedly carrying expensive cars and modern weapons for Saudi Arabia to launch additional attacks on Yemen’s Houthi fighters.
The largest amount of money given so far for the release of a ship in the Gulf of Aden was $7 million, which was given to a Greek tanker last week.
February 6, 2010
Ramallah – Ma’an – Attorney of Bil’in local council, Michael Sfard, said on Saturday that Israeli authorities informed him of the new route of the separation wall, adjusted according to a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice in 2007.
“We were not convinced that it was vital for security reasons to maintain the existing route that passes through a topographically low area of Bil’in land and that there was no fitting security substitute to the construction of the barrier in order to protect the residents of Modi’in Illit,” Justice Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote in her decision.
Once the adjusted route is implemented, residents of Bil’in are expected to restore almost half of their 2,300 donums confiscated during the construction of the wall’s original route.
However, as the portion of the wall already built will be removed, farmers will expect significant damage to their olive groves located in the area.
The local Popular Committee Against the Separation Wall in Bil’in said the decision to alter the wall’s route came too late, and would not change the fact that the wall in unacceptable, wherever it is, members said.
Member of the committee Muhammad Al-Khateib, who was recently released from Israeli custody on bail, said Israel had not respected the Supreme Court decision, nor did Israel respect international resolutions condemning the wall.
He added that hundreds of people have been injured or detained during peace protests against the wall, which have been brutally suppressed, he said. Last year, Basim Abu Raham was killed at one of the rallies.
Nonetheless, Al-Khateib said, the adjustment to the wall’s route is an accomplishment achieved by the village, pointing out that Israeli authorities had failed to stop international and Israeli solidarity groups from supporting Palestinians, adding that the popular campaign against the wall succeeded in retrieving part of the village’s land confiscated by Israel through the wall’s construction.