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Right to Free Speech Collides With Fight Against Terror

Current law prohibits ambiguous sorts of help — “training,” “personnel,” “expert advice or assistance” and “service.”

By Adam Liptak | New York Times | February 10, 2010

WASHINGTON — Ralph D. Fertig, a 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, says he would like to help a militant Kurdish group in Turkey find peaceful ways to achieve its goals. But he fears prosecution under a law banning even benign assistance to groups said to engage in terrorism.

Ralph D. Fertig, a civil rights lawyer, is challenging a law that bans even benign assistance to groups said to engage in terrorism.

The Supreme Court will soon hear Mr. Fertig’s challenge to the law, in a case that pits First Amendment freedoms against the government’s efforts to combat terrorism. The case represents the court’s first encounter with the free speech and association rights of American citizens in the context of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks — and its first chance to test the constitutionality of a provision of the USA Patriot Act.

Opponents of the law, which bans providing “material support” to terrorist organizations, say it violates American values in ways that would have made Senator Joseph R. McCarthy blush during the witch hunts of the cold war. [...]

“Congress wants these organizations to be radioactive,” Douglas N. Letter, a Justice Department lawyer, said in a 2007 appeals court argument in the case, referring to the dozens of groups that have been designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department.

Mr. Letter said it would be a crime for a lawyer to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a designated organization in Mr. Fertig’s case or “to be assisting terrorist organizations in making presentations to the U.N., to television, to a newspaper.”

It would be no excuse, Mr. Letter went on, “to be saying, ‘I want to help them in a good way.’ ” [...]

Mr. Fertig is president of the Humanitarian Law Project, a nonprofit group that has a long history of mediating international conflicts and promoting human rights. He and the project, along with a doctor and several other groups, sued to strike down the material-support law in 1998.

Two years earlier, passage of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act had made it a crime to provide “material support” to groups the State Department had designated as “foreign terrorist organizations.” The definition of material support included “training” and “personnel.” Later versions of the law, including amendments in the USA Patriot Act, added “expert advice or assistance” and “service.”

In 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright designated some 30 groups under the law, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Khmer Rouge and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The United States says the Kurdish group, sometimes called the P.K.K., has engaged in widespread terrorist activities, including bombings and kidnappings, and “has waged a violent insurgency that has claimed over 22,000 lives.”

The litigation has bounced around in the lower courts for more than a decade as the law was amended and as it took on a central role in terrorism cases. Since 2001, the government says, it has prosecuted about 150 defendants for violating the material-support law, obtaining roughly 75 convictions.

The latest appeals court decision in Mr. Fertig’s case, in 2007, ruled that the bans on training, service and some kinds of expert advice were unconstitutionally vague. But it upheld the bans on personnel and expert advice derived from scientific or technical knowledge.

Both sides appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the consolidated cases in October. The cases are Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, No. 08-1498, and Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder, No. 09-89. The court will hear arguments on Feb. 23.

David D. Cole, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Mr. Fertig and other challengers to the law, told the court that the case concerned speech protected by the First Amendment “promoting lawful, nonviolent activities,” including “human rights advocacy and peacemaking.”

Solicitor General Elena Kagan countered that the law allowed Mr. Fertig and the other challengers to say anything they liked so long as they did not direct their efforts toward or coordinate them with the designated groups.

A number of victims of McCarthy-era persecution filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to remember the lessons of history.

“I signed the brief,” said Chandler Davis, an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Toronto, “because I can testify to the way in which the dubious repression of dissent disrupted lives and disrupted political discourse.”

Professor Davis refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1954 and was dismissed from his position at the University of Michigan. Unable to find work in the United States, he moved to Canada. In 1991, the University of Michigan established an annual lecture series on academic freedom in honor of Professor Davis and others it had mistreated in the McCarthy era.

Mr. Fertig said the current climate was in some ways worse.

“I think it’s more dangerous than McCarthyism,” he said. “It was not illegal to help the communists or to be a communist. You might lose your job, you might lose your friends, you might be ostracized. But you’d be free. Today, the same person would be thrown in jail.”

A friend-of-the-court brief — prepared by Edwin Meese III, the former United States attorney general; John C. Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer; and others — called the civil liberties critique of the material-support law naïve.

The law represents “a considered wartime judgment by the political branches of the optimal means to confront the unique challenges posed by terrorism,” their brief said. Allowing any sort of contributions to terrorist organizations “simply because the donor intends that they be used for ‘peaceful’ purposes directly conflicts with Congress’s determination that no quarantine can effectively isolate ‘good’ activities from the evil of terrorism.”

Mr. Fertig said he could understand an argument against donating money, given the difficulty of controlling its use. But the sweep of the material-support law goes too far, he said.

“Fear is manipulated,” Mr. Fertig said, “and the tools of the penal system are applied to inhibit people from speaking out.”

NYT

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | 1 Comment

Chevron in new joint venture with PDVSA

Chevron Consortium Digs into Venezuelan Heavy Oil Project

Chevron Corp. | 02-11-2010

A consortium led by Chevron’s Venezuelan subsidiary has been selected to negotiate its participation in a project composed of three blocks in the Orinoco Oil Belt (Faja) of eastern Venezuela.

“We look forward to being part of this new opportunity that will expand development of one of the world’s largest known hydrocarbon resources,” said Chevron Vice Chairman George Kirkland.

Situated in the eastern area of the Faja, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometers) to the northeast of the city of Puerto Ordaz, the three blocks have a combined area of 215 square miles (557 square kilometers).

“We are pleased with today’s announcement and the prospect of negotiating an opportunity to expand our partnership with Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) and the Venezuelan communities,” said Ali Moshiri, president of Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Co. “Chevron’s growing presence in Latin America’s resource-rich basins highlights the company’s ability to fully integrate our experience and technology into the successful development of large, complex projects.”

It is expected the consortium of Chevron, INPEX Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Suelopetrol will hold a combined 40 percent interest in the empresa mixta (joint company). PDVSA will hold the remaining 60 percent interest.

In Venezuela, Chevron currently holds a joint venture interest in PetroPiar, an integrated extra-heavy oil project in the Faja; joint venture interests in PetroBoscan and PetroIndependiente; joint venture participation in Plataforma Deltana Blocks 2 and 3 to produce natural gas; and an interest in Venezuela’s first liquefied natural gas project, which is currently under evaluation. Chevron also operates the offshore Cardon III block north of Lake Maracaibo in the Gulf of Venezuela.

Chevron is a leading heavy oil producer and has broad capabilities within its portfolio of specialized technologies. It is a world leader in thermal enhanced oil recovery and has a global network of research and development in heavy oil refining, conversion and upgrading. It currently produces heavy oil in Brazil, California, Indonesia, the U.K. North Sea, and the Partitioned Zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and operates a Heavy Oil Center of Expertise in California.

Source

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Economics | Leave a comment

Vermont’s Radioactive Nightmare

By Harvey Wasserman | February 11, 2010

Like a decayed flotilla of rickety steamers, at least 27 of America’s 104 aging atomic reactors are known to be leaking radioactive tritium, which is linked to cancer if inhaled or ingested through the throat or skin.

The fallout has been fiercest at Vermont Yankee, where a flood of cover-ups has infuriated and terrified near neighbors who say the reactor was never meant to operate more than 30 years, and must now shut.

In 2007 one of Yankee’s 22 cooling towers simply collapsed due to rot.

Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has confirmed tritium levels in a monitoring well at Vernon to be 3.5 times the federal safety standard. The leaks apparently came from underground pipes whose very existence was recently denied by VY officials in under-oath testimony at a public hearing. Vermont’s pro-nuclear Republican Governor Jim Douglas has termed the event “a breach of trust that cannot be tolerated.”

Yankee is owned by Entergy, a Mississippi-based consortium that also owns New York’s Indian Point reactor, which suffered an internal gusher of radioactive water in May, 2009. Another leak has just been found at Oconee in South Carolina. Illinois’ Braidwood leaked so many millions of gallons of tritium-laced water that its owner, Exelon, was forced to buy a new municipal water system for a nearby town.

Entergy says none of Yankee’s tritium has been found in local drinking water or in the Connecticut River, which supplies the plant’s cooling water. Vernon sits near Vermont’s southeast border with Massachusetts, across the river from New Hampshire. “The existence of tritium in such low levels does not present a risk to public health or safety whatsoever,” says the company’s Robert Williams.

But VY is just the latest of more than two dozen U.S. nuclear plants—many built in the 1960s and ’70s—to be found with leaking tritium.

Last year at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek, tritium was reported leaking a second time shortly after Exelon got it a 20-year license extension. Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor, at Plymouth, Massachusetts, has recently leaked tritium into the ground.

The NRC’s Neil Sheehan has confirmed leaks involving 27 of 104 licensed US reactors, and says that probably doesn’t account for all of them. At Yankee, Oyster Creek and elsewhere, rotting pipes are the likeliest culprit, but no one is 100% certain.

The epidemic has escalated public dismay. Vermont state Representative Tony Klein, chair of House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, says that “when you have public officials that the public depends on for their health and welfare making casual statements that a radioactive substance is not harmful to you, I think that’s ludicrous.”

For decades the Encylopedia Britannica, National Academy of Sciences and other primary scientific bodies have confirmed that no dose of radiation, no matter how small, can ever be deemed perfectly safe. “There is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial,” says Richard R. Monson, associate dean for professional education and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Thus far the NRC has granted a series of license renewals to aging reactors. But by virtue of a long-standing agreement with Entergy, the Vermont Legislature can deny Yankee’s request for a 20-year extension. In the 1990s local groups like the Citizen’s Awareness Network (http://www.vtcitizen.org/) helped force down the Yankee Rowe plant on the Deerfield River in Massachusetts, about 25 miles southwest of Vernon. The root cause was concern over embrittlement of the elderly reactor’s core, a key to the future of all other aging nukes.

In Vermont, angry debate has also arisen over Entergy’s dwindling decommissioning fund, which has been slashed by a declining stock market. Entergy has proposed spinning off plant ownership to a shell corporation whose assets may be even more dubious. But area residents also fear Entergy may be pushing Yankee operations in an attempt to find the source of its leaks.

With VY operating under duress, Katz and others report an increasing wave of concern among local citizens starting to think seriously about how they might evacuate if Entergy keeps pushing. “This plant appears to be leaking from its reactor piping, but they don’t really know where,” she says. “They don’t want to shut down because they’re afraid they’ll never get back up. Entergy is choosing to protect its bottom line rather than the health and safety of our community.”

Indeed, a desperate national industry now pushing for massive federal subsidies to build new reactors may not survive a flood of elderly clunkers being forced to close by the weight of their own contamination. “This is an industry trying to build a new fleet of Titanics while the old ones are sinking,” says Katz.

Amidst the gusher of tritium leaks, Governor Douglas wants to postpone the legislature’s vote on VY’s license extension. But his term expires in November, and all five Democratic gubernatorial candidates are pledged to a Yankee shutdown.

What happens next will be defined by fierce grassroots activism crashing into a flood of corporate money in support of a rickety old reactor being operated with increasing recklessness.

The highly hyped “reactor renaissance”—and much more—may hang in the balance. Stay tuned.

Source

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | Leave a comment

FBI officials accused of directing Pakistan ‘torture’

By Syed Shoaib Hasan | BBC | February 10, 2010

Five US citizens held in Pakistan on suspicion of plotting attacks have alleged that US officials directed their torture to extract confessions. The US embassy in Islamabad has dismissed the claims as “baseless”.

The men, who are being held in the city of Sargodha, earlier stated in court that they had been tortured by the Pakistani authorities. They deny claims they were plotting attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan and had sought links with extremists.

The men, aged between 18 and 25, were arrested in Sargodha in November on suspicion of trying to contact al-Qaeda linked groups and plotting attacks against Pakistan and its allies.

Officials say the men were planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban. The men have denied having links to al-Qaeda and insist that they wanted to go to Afghanistan for charity work. They face life imprisonment if put on trial and found guilty. A Pakistani court has barred their deportation to the US.

US ‘pressure’

“The boys told me that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were present and were directing their interrogations,” Khalid Khawaja, a human rights activist handling the case told the BBC.

“I have a written statement which says the Americans were asking them to which militant organisation they belonged.

“Pakistanis were beating them up and Americans kept asking them questions.

“The agents demanded they confess that they had come here (to Sargodha) to attack the nearby nuclear plant.”

Mr Khawaja said that the men had also made accusations of torture in the court where their case is being heard. He said it was only because of US pressure that the men had been arrested.

“There is no real evidence against them,” he said. “I intend to file a petition in the next few days asking the court to dismiss all charges against them.”

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

As Afghan assault looms, many civilians haven’t fled

By Saeed Shah | McClatchy Newspapers | February 9, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — As U.S.-led coalition troops prepare for a long-awaited offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, few civilians have managed to escape the town at the center of the operation, raising the risk of civilian casualties that could undermine the Obama administration’s military strategy for the country.

The U.S.-led force said Tuesday that fewer than 200 families — around 1,200 people — had left the town of Marjah and the surrounding area, which have a population of about 80,000.

“Commanders in the area are reporting no significant increase in persons moving out of Nad-e Ali district in the last month,” the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. “Despite reports of large numbers of civilians fleeing the area, the facts on the ground do not support these assertions.”

Thousands of U.S., British and Afghan soldiers are poised to push into the area, with preliminary operations reported to have begun late Tuesday. Afghan police will accompany the soldiers in an effort to establish law and order quickly.

The presence of a large number of civilians could make the operation much trickier and provide a test of the new coalition military doctrine of protecting the population. A large media contingent from around the world will accompany the troops, recording their progress.

An estimated 2,000 Taliban fighters are dug in and are believed to have planted roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings. Residents said the insurgents had dug trenches in a traffic circle and mined the roads out of town. It may be too late for those who haven’t escaped by now.

“If (NATO forces) don’t avoid large scale civilian casualties, given the rhetoric about protecting the population, then no matter how many Taliban are routed, the Marjah mission should be considered a failure,” said Candace Rondeaux, an Afghanistan-based analyst at the International Crisis Group, an independent research and campaigning organization.

Although international forces counted relatively few evacuees, local people told McClatchy that more civilians had evacuated, though still only a fraction of the population. Leaflets dropped over the town had warned townspeople for days of the impending offensive.

“The message to the people of the area is, of course, keep your heads down, stay inside when the operation is going ahead,” Mark Sedwill, the civilian head of NATO in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul… Full article

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Militarism | Leave a comment

Israel Gets Away with Murder .. Again

Not all Israeli assassinations are clandestine operations

By Tammy Obeidallah | February 11, 2010

Amid the glamour of the world’s tallest building, gold bars, man-made islands, casinos and fashion, a man lay dead in his hotel room. Preliminary reports would say he had been suffocated with a pillow; further investigation would determine that he was injected with poison.

Post-mortem photos of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, age 50, told a story the media would not tell: the tip of his nose blackened, red blotches covering his cheeks and jaw and a horrific indentation on one side of his nose testified of torture and a cruel execution.

Most news sources subliminally justified Al-Mabhouh’s murder in Dubai on January 20. He was described only as a “senior Hamas militant,” “founding member of Hamas’ military wing” or even “arch-terrorist.” As someone who was allegedly involved in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers in the 1980s and committed numerous other acts of armed resistance against Israel, he was undoubtedly a menace by western standards.

Al-Mabhouh grew up in the squalor of Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, but had lived in exile in Syria since 1989. He had been the target of two previous assassination attempts: a car bombing and a poisoning. The latter took place in Beirut only six months ago and rendered him unconscious for 30 hours.

The Israeli government issued a statement claiming Al-Mabhouh had traveled to Dubai en route to Iran in order to smuggle weapons back to his native Gaza. Israeli defense officials told the Associated Press that these rockets would be capable of reaching Tel Aviv 40 miles away. Evidently, there have been some major technological advances since Israel’s assault on Gaza last year, as retaliatory rockets fired from Gaza ranged only 25 miles.

While Israel has not officially acknowledged involvement in Al-Mabhouh’s murder, Israeli news agency Inyan Merkazi reported that a four-member squad of Shin Bet and Mossad agents interrogated Al-Mabhouh before executing him.

Whitewashed by western media as “extra-judicial assassinations” or “targeted assassinations,” such acts are tantamount to premeditated murder against anyone suspected of resistance against Israel’s 62-year occupation of Palestine. Al-Mabhouh’s death is the latest of numerous executions carried out by the Mossad and other Israeli government agencies throughout the Jewish State’s existence.

In 1972, the Mossad began a series of assassinations in what was supposed to be retribution for the deaths of Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. Thirty-five suspects believed to have been involved in the attack were systematically ambushed throughout Europe and Lebanon. Many had ambiguous ties at best to the Munich operation and in a case of mistaken identity Ahmed Bouchiki, a young Moroccan waiter, was gunned down in Norway. Throughout this and other operations, the Mossad used false passports without the issuing government’s knowledge or approval in what has become a trademark of that organization’s modus operandi.

In 1997, Mossad agents traveled with Canadian passports to Amman, Jordan in a botched attempt on the life of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. In 2004, New Zealand jailed two Mossad agents for six months and imposed diplomatic sanctions against Israel after the pair illegally applied for passports in that country. Authorities in Dubai investigating the murder of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh have confirmed that his killers are traveling on Irish passports.

However, not all Israeli assassinations are clandestine operations.

Fateh co-founder Khalil al-Wazir, known as Abu Jihad, was killed in 1998 at his home in Tunis in front of his family. The 2004 Israeli airstrikes that killed Hamas founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin and subsequently his replacement, Abdelaziz Al-Rantissi also killed Rantissi’s son, his bodyguard and eleven bystanders, including a five year-old child.

Not only are the leaders of armed resistance in the crosshairs of Israeli assassins, but political activists who speak out against the occupation of Palestine as well. Cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, whose brutally honest body of work earned him many powerful enemies, was murdered in cold blood in London on the way to his office. Although Al-Ali was critical of Arab governments and the corruption present in the hierarchy of Palestinian resistance groups, a preponderance of evidence points directly to the Mossad being responsible for his death.

Ten months after Al-Ali was killed, Scotland Yard arrested a student named Ismail Suwan, who turned out to be a Mossad agent. Suwan confessed that his superiors knew of the plot to kill Al-Ali. Upon refusing to cooperate further, Great Britain expelled two Israeli diplomats and closed the Mossad’s London base. Despite all this, no one was ever brought to justice for the crime.

In March 2003, a 23 year-old American college student named Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier while trying to prevent a home demolition in the Gaza Strip. It was learned through Corrie’s own writings that activists with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) had come under fire in the weeks prior to her death while trying to retrieve the body of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces. She told also of how the camp’s water wells were being destroyed by the Israeli military and that members of ISM had slept in front of the wells to deter the attacks.

Clearly the group’s activities were a source of consternation to the Israelis, one of whom took the opportunity to murder a young woman on a clear day in the Rafah refugee camp. Claiming Corrie’s death was “accidental,” he was never punished.

Many have paid the ultimate price for challenging the Israeli juggernaut, no matter what form that challenge has taken. Many individuals who never picked up a weapon have been targeted by the Jewish State. And if Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh was attempting to procure weapons, he was simply guilty of trying to help his people defend themselves against Israeli aggression. Only when the western-dominated court of world opinion is no longer content to let Israel act as judge, jury and executioner, will there be justice for occupied Palestine and all the people who met untimely and brutal deaths in her defense.

Source

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | 2 Comments

Israel Violates Economic Sanctions Against Iran

By Grant Smith, February 11, 2010

The Obama administration is escalating economic sanctions against Iran.  Administered by a secretive unit within the US Treasury Department, they will freeze the assets of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Rostam Qasemi as well as four subsidiaries of a construction firm that he leads.  These sanctions build upon existing U.S. unilateral sanctions targeting shippers, financial institutions, and elements of the Guard Corps some believe are promoting Iran’s missile and nuclear programs.

Economic warfare expert R. Thomas Naylor extensively documents that such sanctions create black markets and spread corruption while doing relatively little to deter rogue regimes.  Obvious economic dynamics create vast margins for smugglers and traders willing to bust embargoes.  Unless the economy of a target country is particularly dependent upon the influence or volume of goods from any single international partner, profiteers quickly step into the breach.  Sanctions typically punish legitimate traders while favoring corruption around the world.

That corrupting nature of sanctions reaches far into the US.  One example is Marc Rich, indicted in the United States on federal charges of illegal oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis.  Rich broke US embargoes by purchasing Iranian crude under special deals with Ayatollah Khomeini.  Rich then sold them at healthy margins to legitimate traders locked out of the market by US sanctions.  Forbes ranked the intrepid Rich as the 242nd richest American in 2006 with a net worth of US $1.5 billion.

Rich stayed outside the U.S. until he arranged for an unprecedented pardon from President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001. Eric Holder, then acting as deputy attorney general, gave Clinton his “neutral, leaning towards favorable” recommendation to pardon the Switzerland-based fugitive financier after a quiet and intense campaign by the Israeli government’s Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres and the US Israel lobby.

But the temptations of sanctions busting aren’t an “elites only” affair.  Under the highly problematic US-Israel Free Trade Agreement, US growers should have an advantage in supplying the $20 million Israeli pistachio market.  But grower complaints meticulously documented in 2007 to the US Trade Representative reveal that Israel prefers to avoid importing American nuts while violating its own “Trading with the Enemy Act” by purchasing Iranian pistachios through Turkey.  Although US growers supplied scientific test data to the US Trade Representative validating these claims, no punitive measures have been taken by Israel or the USTR (an office of the President).

History suggests that Israelis and their US lobby’s financial backers will be first in line to violate so-called “crippling sanctions” against Iran, a country over which the US has relatively little direct economic leverage.  This adds insult to injury, since a real US economic sanctions regime — likely to have been highly successful in averting conditions underlying any potential Middle East nuclear arms race — has been suppressed since it was signed into law over three decades ago.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended by the Symington Amendment of 1976 and the Glenn Amendment of 1977 prohibiting US military assistance to countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology outside of international nonproliferation regimes. Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The declassified US Army report titled The Joint Operating Environment 2008 identifies Israel as a nuclear weapons power in “a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east.”  Jimmy Carter became the first former President to confirm in 2008 that Israel had secretly financed, developed, and deployed an undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons. Israeli Mordecai Vanunu long ago released his damning photos of Israeli nuclear weapons and facilities for which he served 18 years in prison.

If the President wishes to disburse US taxpayer-funded foreign aid to Israel in compliance with US law, he may do so only by issuing a special waiver, available for public review, as is currently the case with US aid for Pakistan.  Yet every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama has violated their oath of office — all refused to either withhold aid or sign the short presidential waiver that would make delivering taxpayer funded US foreign aid to Israel legal under Symington and Glenn.

If US presidents had faithfully executed this US law in order to reign in the Israeli nuclear weapons program since the 1970s, there can be little doubt that the Middle East would be a vastly better place.  Israel is fully dependent on access to the US market, diplomatic cover, and vast military aid.  Israel would have been motivated to negotiate in good faith a comprehensive peaceful settlement with its near and distant neighbors, none of which would feel pressure to establish a deterrent to Israel’s nuclear weapons.  But in terms of political coercion, Israel’s arsenal is pointed squarely at the US.  Back in 1960 the CIA estimated [PDF] that “Possession of a nuclear weapon capability, or even the prospect of achieving it, would clearly give Israel a greater sense of security, self-confidence, and assertiveness…Israel would be less inclined than ever to make concessions…”

The presidential history of capitulation to Israeli violators unmasks these new economic sanctions for what they truly are: corrupt “box checking exercises” as Israel’s lobby eagerly drives the US toward yet another needless — but long planned — military conflict which serves no legitimate American interest.

Source

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | Leave a comment

Increase In Attacks on Reporters in West Bank

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – February 11, 2010

Palestinian reporters, either working for local or international agencies, were repeatedly subjected to attacks by the Israeli army, but recently such attacks witnessed a sharp increase leading to injuries, damage to equipment, and to preventing them from performing their duty.

Two of the reporters, Ata Oweisat and Mahmoud Oleyyan, work for the al Quds newspaper.

Another wounded journalist, Ahmad Gharabely, works for the French Press Agency.

Diala Jweihan, a reporter and camerawoman working for Al Quds Net was hit in her back by a concussion grenade, she lost consciousness and was transported to al Maqassed Hospital in Jerusalem. She was reportedly burned across her back, upper legs and right arm.

CNN cameraman, Karim Khader, was hit by a rubber-coated bullet fired by the army.

Samir Abu Gharbiyya, a reporter working for al-Jazeera English, was hit in the head by a stone thrown by a Palestinian meant for an Israeli soldier.

Israeli soldiers are said to have made attempts to destroy the cameras possessed by the attacked journalists.

Several reporters were also subjected to repeated attacks by Israeli soldiers during invasions targeting Burin and Iraq-Burin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Soldiers violently attacked Ashraft Abu Shaweeh, Hasan Al Ateety, Abdul-Rahim Qosabny, Nidal Eshtiyya, Ala’ Badarna, Rami Sweidan, Ja’far Eshtiyya and Aref Tuffaha.

Another reporter, Nasser Eshtiyya, was hit by a stone thrown by a Palestinian during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Dir Nitham village.

The Palestinian Journalists Forum condemned the Israeli treatment of reporters, citing the numerous ongoing violations of their rights.

The Palestinian Journalists Forum called upon the International Journalists Forum, human rights and legal groups to intervene and stop the violations and attacks against reporters.

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Leave a comment

   

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